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The Byrds Play Country for Hef; Groovy '68ers Rejoice:

Link inspired by Colby Cosh. Who, thanks to my old paper The National Post deciding briefly to pull its online head out of its nether-hole, has a fully readable column worth your attention. Begins like this:

In 1787, shortly after the Constitutional Convention that gave final form to the government of the rebellious American colonies, a woman approached 81-year-old Ben Franklin and asked what sort of arrangement the delegates had come up with. "A republic -- if you can keep it," quipped Franklin. Even then, he and his colleagues understood that creating a Roman-style republic meant setting out on the Roman road to empire -- and, inevitably, to imperial decline.
And ends like this:
Sooner or later, under one name or another, there will be an American Foreign Legion.

01/06/2007 10:49 PM  |  Comment (4)

Top 10 Seasons by an Angels Starting Pitcher: It's the series that wouldn't die! For previous iterations (though not all, because "Charlie" refuses to "fix" my archives), see the top 10 seasons by Angel DHs and RFs. Let's get right to the number-pile!

W  L  ERA  G  GS CG SO SV  IP    K   BB WHIP ERA+ WS  AS? CY MVP       
1) Dean Chance, 1965
20  9 1.65 46 35 15 11  4 278.3 207  86 1.01 200 31.7  x   1   5
2) Nolan Ryan, 1973
21 16 2.87 41 39 26  4  1 326.0 383 162 1.27 124 27.8  x   2  17
3) Frank Tanana, 1976
19 10 2.43 34 34 23  2  0 288.3 261  73 0.99 137 26.5  x   3  15
4) Nolan Ryan, 1972
19 16 2.28 39 39 20  9  0 284.0 329 157 1.14 128 24.7  x   8  30
5) Bill Singer, 1973
20 14 3.22 40 40 19  2  0 315.7 241 130 1.30 110 23.3  x
6) Chuck Finley, 1990
18  9 2.40 32 32  7  2  0 236.0 177  81 1.23 160 22.6  x   7
7) Mike Witt, 1986
18 10 2.84 34 34 14  3  0 269.0 208  73 1.08 144 22.5  x   3  12
8) Andy Messersmith, 1969
16 11 2.52 40 33 10  2  2 250.0 211 100 1.08 138 22.4         29
9) Bert Blyleven, 1989
17  5 2.73 33 33  8  5  0 241.0 131  44 1.12 140 22.2      4  13
10) Nolan Ryan, 1977
19 16 2.77 37 37 22  4  0 299.0 341 204 1.34 101 22.1  x   3  24

And the winner is: 1964 Cy Young winner and suspected online bridge-player Dean Chance. Go take a leisurely gander at that season ... not only did he take his 35 dominant starts, with 11 shutouts, but Manager Bill Rigney also brought him in to close at least seven games, saving four. He led the league in wins, ERA, adjusted ERA+, innings pitched, complete games, and shutouts. At age 23. To give you an idea about how good 31.7 Win Shares is for a starting pitcher, only two have compiled that many in the last 30 years -- Roger Clemens in 1997 and Dwight Gooden in 1985, both in about the same number of innings. Was Chance, like his exact contemporary (and Cy Young winner in '63, '65-66) Sandy Koufax, helped by Dodger Stadium, this being the Angels' third of four years there? Well, sure -- 11-3, 1.07 ERA. But he was also dynamite on the road, going 9-6, 2.25. If you hit Baseball-Reference's awesome "Neutralize Stats" tool, Chance's 1964 actually improves in won-loss record, to 23-6 (the tool assumes neutral run support), and a still-terrific 2.15 ERA.

Dean Chance, like Jim Fregosi, was an original Angel, part of a December 1960 draft that took place just one week after major league baseball awarded the Angels to Gene Autry. Has there ever been a better pitcher-hitter combo in the history of expansion drafts? Nope! And it's not even close.

Take the Angels' expansion-mates, the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers. Best player? Probably Chuck Hinton. Pitcher? Uh, Dick Donovan? Doesn't quite rise up to a baseball-wide Cy Young winner and a Hall of Fame trajectory derailed by leg injuries. Continuing the exercise:

* Houston Colt .45s/Astros -- Eddie Bressoud and Ken Johnson.
* New York Mets -- Jim Hickman and Al Jackson.
* Kansas City Royals -- Pat Kelly and Jim Rooker.
* Seattle Pilots/Milwaukee Brewers -- Lou Piniella and Mike Marshall.
* San Diego Padres -- Nate Colbert and Dave Roberts.
* Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals -- Manny Mota and Carl Morton.
* Seattle Mariners -- Ruppert Jones and Glenn Abbott.
* Toronto Blue Jays -- Ernie Whitt and Jim Clancy.
* Colorado Rockies -- Vinny Castilla and Andy Ashby.
* Florida Marlins -- Jeff Conine and Trevor Hoffman.
* Arizona Diamondbacks -- Joe Randa and Jeff Suppan.
* Tampa Bay Devil Rays -- Bobby Abreu and Roberto Hernandez.

The only position player who comes anywhere close to Fregosi is the terrific Bobby Abreu (who, like many on this list, rose to prominence away from his expansion home). The only pitchers who could think about carrying Chance's jock are Mike Marshall and Trevor Hoffman. The Angels got more front-line talent with their expansion draft than any team in major league history (though Tampa Bay's was also very good, and deeper). As they would eventually do with the player they traded Fregosi for (Nolan Ryan), the Angels failed to surround their superstars with adequate supporting casts, squandering a golden opportunity to build a perennial contender.
Conspicuous absence from the list: Bartolo Colon's Cy Young 2005 (19.5 Win Shares), Mark Langston's All-Star 1993 and 1991 (20.3 and 20.1), and Clyde Wright's storybook no-hitter season of 1970 (20.0).
The hell's HE doing here?: Bill Singer, I guess, though he was a two-time 20-game winner and All-Star, a Bob Welch-type who could have provided one hell of a fourth punch after the Ryan-Tanana-Ed Figueroa 1-2-3 had his back not given out in 1974.
Other Weirdnesses: Did you know that Ken McBride made more All-Star games (3) than Bert Blyleven (2)? That's pretty weird, and makes me think yet again that we need some kind of "Real All-Star" list, whereby we post-facto declare who the All-Stars should have been in a given year, rather than which mediocre pitcher had a hot first half on a lousy team & thereby cost a deserving Hall of Famer some crucial votes from idiot sportswriters decades later....

OK, here's another odd thing: How often do teams trade their ace pitchers during their mid-twenties? The Angels did it twice in seven years -- Dean Chance in 1966, going into his age-26 season; and Andy Messersmith in 1972, going into age 27.

I've detailed the Messersmith-McMullen/Robinson-Valentine-Singer-Grabarkewitz trade here (though mostly from the Dodgers' point of view). Chance was sent to Minnesota with 26-year-old no-hit shortstop Jackie Hernandez for 29-year-old RHP-mashing first baseman Don Mincher, 29-year-old outfielder and two-time All-Star Jimmie Hall (who'd hit 98 home runs his previous four years, but in a sequence of 33-25-20-20 ... and he also couldn't hit lefties with a paddle); plus promising 24-year-old reliever Pete Cimino. Even though Chance had been the ace on an Angels rotation that had been paper thin the previous two seasons, and even though he would go on to win 20 games and make the All-Star team for the Twins in 1967, it was still a pretty defensible trade. For the previous five years the team had received indifferent production at first base and the corner outfield spots, wasting fine young talent up the middle (Fregosi, Bobby Knoop, Buck Rodgers and Jose Cardenal). The 23-year-old Cardenal and 24-year-old Rich Reichardt were two-thirds of a good young outfield, but 21-year-old Jay Johnstone wasn't quite ready. The Angels' bullpen was strong but old; acquiring Cimino gave them the flexibility to flip talented-but-declining closer Bob Lee (who'd posted ERA+s the previous three years of 218, 177, and 123) for what they must have thought was a promising young starter, the Dodgers' Nick Willhite. Chance himself had returned to earth in '65-66, going 27-27 with ERA+s of 108 and 109. And the team's minor league system was percolating with promising young arms.

And there's something else to keep in mind -- in the era before the Tommy John surgery and free agency (the latter of which, of course, Messersmith helped usher in), you just never knew when great arms would snap like a twig. Management had every incentive to pile up fantastic workloads on kids, then flip 'em for value before they crapped out. Here, for example, is what the Angels did to pitchers aged 25 and under during the franchise's first 17 years:

YEAR AGE IP CG NAME
1961 25 242 11 Ken McBride
1963 22 248 06 Dean Chance
1964 23 278 15 Chance
1966 25 260 11 Chance
1969 23 250 10 Andy Messersmith
1971 25 277 14 Messersmith
1972 25 284 20 Nolan Ryan
1974 20 269 12 Frank Tanana
1975 21 257 16 Tanana
1976 22 288 23 Tanana
1977 23 241 20 Tanana

That last year of Tanana, of course, included 14 consecutive complete games, and the fairly predictable destruction of his arm after four seasons of child abuse. (Equally "of course," Nolan Ryan's bazillion pitches a season in the 1970s did nothing to prevent him from pitching well into his mid-40s, and -- he argues -- made it possible in the first place, though we have to remember that Ryan's age-25 season was his first with more than 152 IP.) When you add in the fact that the team traded 16-game winner Ed Figueroa after his first full season in the bigs, you can begin to see some of the historical rationale behind the franchise's most controversial personnel decision -- letting Ryan walk at age 33.

So how did the Dean Chance trade work out, anyway? Strangely, considering everyone involved was in his 20s, it only affected each team for about two years. If the Angels were gambling that Chance would flame out, they gambled well; after two good seasons with the Twins he was basically done, winning just 18 more games in 335 innings. Meanwhile, the team got a monster year from Mincher in 1967 (.273/.367/.487 with 25 homers in year the league average was .236/303/.351); plus 16 homers from Jimmie Hall and a decent season in the pen from Cimino, contributing to an 84-win season, 2nd most in team history. But in '68, Mincher regressed, Cimino suffered a career-ending injury, and Hall hit .214/.303/.262 in half a season before being traded for Vic Davalillo (who then raked -- .298/.326/.375, in the Year of the Pitcher). Davalillo was then traded for essentially nothing in 1969, while Mincher was plucked away in the expansion draft by the Seattle Pilots.

A final word about trading Ace Pitchers -- Bad organizations often pin the blame for their woes on their best players, instead of on themselves for failing to surround the All-Stars with guys not named Tom Egan. Complementarily, one of the first instincts of inferior wheeler-dealers is to fix problems by offering their best chits (who don't happen to play the position where the perceived lack is greatest). My view is that you don't trade Championship Talent without an extremely compelling reason. It wasn't Andy Messersmith's fault that the Angels averaged 2.93 runs a game in 1972, it was the fault of Harry Dalton and Fred Haney, who thought it was a reasonable idea to back Ryan, Messersmith, Clyde Wright and Rudy May with the likes of Art Kusnyer and the worn out remains of Leo Cardenas. Front-line pitching talent is still a rare thing in baseball; thankfully current Angel GM Bill Stoneman (who was on the team back when Frank Tanana was being driven like a mule) realizes that, even if some fans don't.
SPs raised at home, made famous elsewhere: A short list. Bobby Darwin (did you know he started as a teenage-phenom pitcher? Go check out his bizarrely shaped career); Messersmith, Marty Pattin, and Ed Figueroa.
Old soldiers who came here to die: Sensitive Angel fans should avert their eyes. Ned Garver, Lew Burdette, Curt Simmons, Jim Maloney, Gary Nolan, Mike Cuellar, Dave Goltz, Luis Tiant, Bert Blyleven, Scott Sanderson, Kevin Gross, Mark Gubicza, Jack McDowell, and Tim Belcher.
Win Share Seasons and Totals: For Ryan, Finley, Tanana, Witt, Chance, Langston, Messersmith, Wright, Jarrod Washburn, Kirk McCaskill, Jim Abbott, John Lackey, Geoff Zahn, George Brunet, and Rudy May.
NM: 01/02/03/04/05/06/07/08/09/10/11 (total)
NR: 28/25/22/21/17/13/12/12 (150)
CF: 23/19/19/17/16/14/14/14/11/11/09 (167)
FT: 27/22/20/15/14/09/05/02 (114)
MW: 23/18/16/14/12/11/09/06/05 (114)
DC: 32/17/14/14/12 (89)
ML: 20/20/15/13/11/08/07/01 (95)
AM: 22/20/14/12/07 (75)
CW: 20/18/16/13/05/04/04/01 (81)
JW: 18/15/15/10/09/07/04/03 (81)
KM: 18/18/12/07/07/06/01 (69)
JA: 20/18/08/08/06 (60)
JL: 17/17/11/08/07 (60)
GZ: 16/16/14/06/02 (54)
GB: 15/13/12/11/04/02 (57)
RM: 14/12/10/06/05/04 (51)

Positional Miscellania: The two worst seasons for the Angels rotation (at least as expressed by Win Shares racked up by their top five starters) came during the Mike Scioscia/Bud Black era -- 2000 (just 27.4 WS total between Washburn, Scott Schoeneweis, Ramon Ortiz, Kent Bottenfield and Seth Etherton), and 2003 (26.1 from Washburn, Lackey, Ortiz, Kevin Gregg, Kevin Appier). Note that those two rotation totals are less than those of both Dean Chance in 1964 and Nolan Ryan in '73. It's a point frequently lost, but one I can't stress enough: The Scioscia/Stoneman Angels began as brute take-and-rake offense waddling behind a bunch of rag arms, and evolved steadily toward a punch-and-judy collection of good defenders behind the deepest rotation in baseball. That's a fascinating and complicated transformation, though the balance (I reckon) will begin to be tipped away from defense and toward offense in the next few years with the new generation of young hitters. That is, if Mickey Hatcher doesn't ruin them first.

The other thing that strikes you is the number of atrocious acquisitions the team has made over the years for injury-prone and/or mediocre and/or over-the-hill starting pitchers. After having established themselves as the team ready to trade or give up on young power arms (Chance, Messersmith, Figueroa, Ryan), the Angels started shelling out money and position players right and left for guys who had proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they couldn't pitch 200 innings in a season -- Bruce Kison, Bill Travers, Jim Slaton, Dan Petry, Mark Gubicza, Jack McDowell, and so on. Kison pitched all right when healthy, and Slaton swallowed some innings, but these are the type of guys you should get with one-year free agent contracts, not four-year deals or the rights to Chili Davis.

01/06/2007 02:17 PM  |  Comment (2)

The Essence of Tony Pierce:

01/03/2007 11:50 PM  | 

Uh-oh....

01/03/2007 10:53 PM  | 

The Best Music Video Ever Made?

01/01/2007 07:41 PM  |  Comment (6)

Maverick Authoritarian Redux: I was gratified to see my Nov. 26 column on John McCain's militaristic big-government approach reprinted in, at minimum, the Manchester Union Leader, the Concord Monitor, the Charlotte News & Observer, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Canton Repository, and the Monterey County Herald.

The feedback was great, whether positive or negative, public or private. I wanted to collect it in the same place here for later, excerpt some of the more interesting bits, and then make a few mild points down below regarding some criticism.

First up, Colby Cosh:

Over the years I've been fairly careful, I think, about refraining from declarations of the species "If X happens, the United States of America is doomed!" But I have to admit, the eternal allure of John McCain as a presidential candidate worries me sometimes. I guess I started to feel panicky when I got David Foster Wallace's latest book of nonfiction, Consider the Lobster, for Christmas last year. Wallace is probably my favourite writer under the age of 80, and his 10,000-plus-word piece of Rolling Stone reportage on McCain's 2004 campaign, reprinted in director's-cut form within Lobster, is just as technically dazzling as you would expect. But Wallace, who is basically a gently liberal, vaguely unitarian-ish guy, comes as near as damn all to saying that McCain's torture at the hands of the Viet Cong makes it impossible NOT to vote for him. Eventually Wallace takes a deep breath and towels off, but if the seductive capabilities of McCain's biography work so well on him, who else is going to be able to resist?

* Bill Quick:

This assumption on Matt Welch's part, in an otherwise modestly interesting jeremiad against John McCain, betrays why I no longer pay much attention to Matt's blathering, and haven't for quite a while. Welch may be in no mood for a "doubling down" on Iraq and "ramped up unilateralist tough talk," but I think a lot of the nation would have once liked to see exactly that. [...] When a nuke goes off in LA harbor and dumps a lethal load of fallout on the Hollywood Hills, Matt may wish to reconsider his assumptions. But it will be a bit too late at that point.

* Jim Henley:

If it doth not uplift, it must be cast down, for the sake of our national souls. That's the essence of McCainism. It's hard to imagine a worse President, even including the current occupant of the White House. George W. Bush is a vicious mediocrity, but his saving grace is sloth. There are "flaws" in the country he just can't be arsed to fix. McCain wouldn't give us even that much peace.

* Kathryn Jean Lopez, at The Corner:

For primary purposes, the senator might be grateful for a bit of it, especially the gay-marriage dig at the end.

Kevin Drum:

This doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves, but despite his soothing speaking style McCain may literally be in the 99% percentile of hawkishness. That is, he may be more hawkish than every single one of his fellow senators. Some "centrist." [...] Bottom line: If you think Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer would make good foreign policy advisors, then McCain is your man. However, if you're not insane, that prospect will scare the hell out of you. As it should.

* Billy Beck:

All I can say is that, beyond the ordinary pains I have from even observing this discussion at this point in time, I get special stabs at noting how widely McCain's name is taken in reference to 2008. He's not going to approach the sheer horror of the prospect of Der Rodham, but the creeps that I get from him are uniquely noteworthy.

* Todd Gitlin:

During the 1980 campaign, Ronnie Dugger was the only reporter in the country to take note of Ronald Reagan's hundreds of newspaper columns and radio broadcasts. He did so, of course, not in the NYT or the WP but The Nation. Not a single daily reporter in the United States indulged in a similar exercise. Instead, during the hundreds of days of the campaign, the teeming masses of boys and girls on all the buses and planes ran panting around the country for scraps of remarks that the genial ex-governor deigned to grant them.

Listen up, pundits. Matt Welch has sent you a signal. It won't kill you to look into the mind of the desert angel and see what he thinks.

* Zachary Drake:

One thing to note: right wing bloggers don't like him. [...] It will be interesting to see if the right wing blogosphere starts coming into conflict with the Republican establishment more. They haven't been considered as influential, though they were a huge part of Dan Rather's ouster at CBS. I remember someone saying that the right wing blogosphere isn't as influential because it tends to echo what goes on in other parts of the right wing noise machine, rather than stake out its own positions. But on many recent issues (McCain, immigration, Harriet Meiers, and Senator Martinez as head of the RNC), it seems the right wing netizens did not or will not swallow what the Republican establishment is putting forward.

* Lucas Sayre:

My attitude towards John McCain has been tumultuous lately. For several years I opposed him on the principle ground that I saw him as straddling a middle ("independent") position purely for politically calculated reasons.

In the last year or so he has worked to improve his conservative image and he even supported more troops in Iraq to achieve victory. My opposition to him began to wane, and with no other Republican presidential hopeful particularly appealing to me, I openly contemplated supporting McCain. But I still had doubts. [...] [M]y real problem with McCain: he tries to make the government a solution to everyone's problems. He may or may not still be a wavering maverick, but he's never been a conservative.

* Patrick Nielsen Hayden:

If you're like a lot of my friends, you have the vague notion that John McCain would be a tolerable Republican president, certainly an improvement on the current nitwit. Nothing could be further from the truth [...] McCain combines the dictatorial impulses of the current Republican president with an even greater eagerness to kill foreigners and an even more sweeping disdain for fundamental human rights. Far from the likeable "maverick" centrist he's managed to charm the press into portraying him as, he's a truly dangerous man. Liberals and libertarians alike need to start recognizing that right now.

* Paul, at Right Side of the Rainbow:

To McCain's defining view that "national pride will not survive the people's contempt for government," I say hogwash. Culture is more important than politics, and it is part of the pride of our culture to hold the government in contempt. Indeed, since the earliest days of our republic, contempt for government has been the quintessentially American ideal.

* Yankee Wombat:

I understand the reservations of small government Republicans and I agree with them that the McCain Feingold campaign finance reform has been an undue interference with the democratic process and a potentially dangerous failure. I also sympathize with their frustrations with Bush's big government programs coupled with a fiscally irresponsible, pork barreling Republican Congress. We elect Democrats for that and what's more they have been doing it since the 30s and are good at it. That said, I also notice that McCain bears a strong resemblance to John F Kennedy's when he said: 'Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." I think America is ready for more emphasis on our collective responsibility and I believe would look favorably on a leader who forthrightly asked us to move in that direction.

* Jerry Fuhrman:

It isn't quite accurate to say McCain believes in nothing. He, in fact, has an unflagging belief in government, and is willing to believe that government can solve all problems.

* Mark Evanier:

For what it's worth, I think McCain is a mass of self-contradictory views. He thinks we need more troops in Iraq...but doesn't seem to have any idea where they'll come from. He says that the issue of abortion should be a state decision, not a federal one...but he's voted for every federal-level anti-abortion bill. He backs a wide array of ethical/moral bills, like those to stop torture or clean up campaign finance...but he doesn't seem to mind when his own political allies take measures that neutralize his work in these areas. I think that's why I find him so disappointing. At times, he seems to actually stand for something and I don't like being fooled like that.

* Doug Bandow:

Had enough of the welfare/warfare state? Tired of national nannies pushing their way into your affairs? Desperate for government to simply leave you alone to pursue happiness, rather than attempting to impose on you the ideology or theology of whatever group has managed to seize control of government. Then don't support John McCain for president. [...] It's hard to imagine, but on almost every measure John McCain would be a worse president--and especially more dangerous internationally--than George W. Bush.

* The Daily Reckoning:

If his blind ambition gets him to the White House, this will be three presidents in a row acting out their unresolved daddy issues from the Oval Office.

* Amy Alkon:

Some very compelling points not to go for McCain. Right now, it's a little premature, I know, but my favorite candidate is Rocky Anderson.

* Daniel Sanchez:

Okay, I am NOT voting for McCain. [...] Now I can only hope that Giuliani is at least palatable from a libertarian standpoint.

* David Dayen:

there's plenty of ammunition to use in the event of a John McCain candidacy in 2008. But for some reason, Democrats have refused to open fire, and I'm as worried as Matt Stoller that they'll pull a Schwarzenegger and wait entirely too long to take him down a peg

* Jenna, of Right off the Shore:

I completely understand that someone conservative to my liking would never be elected President. That's fine. I understand we'll need a moderate candidate to have any chance of keeping the POTUS. But is it so much to ask that I can agree with our nominee on at least one major topic? It was so easy to volunteer my time for someone like Mark Green because I believed in him and what he would do for Wisconsin. Out of the major contenders for the '08 presidential race...I can't say the same.

* Austin Evers:

Shorter McCain: Le Public Good c'est moi. What makes McCain a maverick is his incoherence. What makes him scary, is his trust in himself to overcome the trappings of power and deploy it for our own good

* JD, at Straight Talk Exposed:

McCain, who has tried so hard to paint himself a libertarian, is the exact opposite. Personally, I believe in business regulation as protection for the middle class and consumers, but as a social libertarian- ie. of the belief that what you do in the privacy of your own home is your business- McCain scares the crap out of me.

* Betsy Newmark:

Right now McCain is counting on Republicans viewing him as the 'sure thing' who could defeat Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. But it is not so clear that McCain's dramatic life story (a story Obama could only dream of) and his appealing public persona is enough to outweigh all the policy divisions that various groups would have with him. When you put together the groups who would oppose McCain's view of government with those who would oppose his view of foreign policy, you may find enough to defeat his candidacy if he were to win the nomination. And if he doesn't have the vision of sure success in the general election going for him, I don't see how he wins the nomination.

* Matthew Yglesias:

McCain is neither a centrist nor a standard-issue Republican -- he's the single furthest-right figure on the American political scene.

And, yes, he'll combine his more-hawkish-than-Bush approach to the world with a greater level of frankness and intellectual engagement, but at the end of the day I'm not actually sure how that's supposed to help.

* Myrhaf:

Many politicians show aspects of fascism, but McCain, with his militarism, national greatness, government regulation of business, calls for self-sacrifice and militaristic view of citizenry, is the purest fascist among prominent politicians. [...] Do you want to wake up one day between the years 2009-2113 to an America in which every young person must do two years of mandatory service to the state as a "rite of passage"? Is that what Jefferson, Madison and friends had in mind when they founded this country?

* C.H. Featherstone:

Yes, I think many of us sensed this from McCain, his attraction to presidential power. And his desire to boost "national greatness," which can be built on nothing but slave labor and sculls. For McCain, the state, and not the individual human being, comes first.

More links and interesting commentary from Greg Wythe, Daniel Larison, Inventing Advi, Howard Melman, Rich, at Uncommon Sense, Dan Beauchamp, Michael Preston, Hanlon's Razor, Bill Kavanaugh, Larry Bernard, the Washington Times, Scott Horton, The Editors, Dave Weigel, Donald Douglas, Elf M. Sternberg, Doug Mataconis, Matt Dole, Bruce Miller, Prawn Reigns Supreme, Douglas Tonks, Glenn Reynolds, The Rag Blog, Jay Stevens, The Mound of Sound, Rand Simberg, Ken Reich, Avedon Carol, Joseph Mailander, Joshua Foust, Rachel Sawyer, Daily Fun and News Blog, Ryan S., at Jokers to the Right, Sini, at Jusiper, Atrios, Brian Doherty, Kingston, at Pinky and the Brain, Jon Margolis, Stealth, at Curudin, Coyote Blog, Rob Huck, John McQueen, Crossed Crocodiles, Markos whatshisname, Sid the Fish, Steve, at the Last Chance Democracy Cafe, Anthony Easton, Robert Bell, Matt McIntosh, Mike, at Crooks & Liars, Ben Smith, the Free Republic, the Austin American-Statesman, and Rebecca Winters.

Now, the fun ones.

Perri Nelson writes:

It's laughable that a liberal like Matt Welch is worried about an "activist federal government". Isn't that what welfare, medicare, and the ESA, and the EPA are all symptoms of? These programs aren't mandated by our constitution.
How does stuff like that even happen anymore?

Moving on to DaveG, at Race 4 2008:

It's clear from the tone of the article that theres no love lost between Welch and McCain.
I got a lot of e-mail along these lines; some of it objecting to my Goldwater-comparing line about how McCain was a D.C. kid who "carpetbagged his way into office" (which he objectively did, and has admitted as such); the rest objecting to the italicized sentence in this graf:
The first clue to McCain's philosophy lies in two seemingly irrelevant items of gossip: His father was a drunk, and his second wife battled addiction to pain pills. Neither would be worth mentioning except for the fact that McCain's books and speeches are shot through with the language and sentiment of 12-step recovery, especially Steps 1 (admitting the problem) and 2 (investing faith in a "Power greater than ourselves").
It's an object lesson in the way people receive language. People either sympathetic to him, or looking for bias in the author, or just used to more polite conversation, zoom in on the italics and totally miss the bits about "seemingly irrelevant items of gossip" and "neither would be worth mentioning except." Thing is, McCain has repeatedly described his own father as an alcoholic. He has written widely about his grandfather's carousing, and his own legendary bouts of binge drinking and frat-boy-style antics at the Naval Academy and far beyond. His wife's five-year struggle with pills (which included some pretty dodgy and possibly illegal behavior) actually, you know, happened. But if you mention these things bluntly, people receive it as there's "no love lost" between myself and McBuddy. Even though I'm generally no enemy of those who enjoy a cocktail or seven.

Fact is, I would have voted for McCain in 2000 if given the opportunity, and (as I mention in the column) find much of his writing "charming," while happily acknowledging that he "can be a great and sympathetic ally" to one's cause. And certainly I stand in awe at what he endured, with great spirit, in the name of our country. But just because someone is sympathetic and funny and able to withstand torture doesn't make him presidential material, or somehow off-limits to a critical examination of his political philosophy, such as it exists.

OkieBoy, at JunkYardBlog:

Then, after making sure that we know that McCain's father was a "drunk", his second wife a pill "addict", and then after making references to incomplete 12-step program awareness, Welch keeps on slammin' McCain for ... well, for believing "that Americans 'were meant to transform history'". We have on many occasions, haven't we? And, IMHO, for the most part for the greater good of humanity and the world. Funny about the Left, they can never see America as doing anything but harm, if not outright evil.
This is a false and comprehension-challenged characterization. I don't "slam" McCain for believing that Americans were meant to transform history, I ... well, I'll show you:
What is this higher power that ennobles McCain's crankiness? Just as it is for many soldiers, it's the belief that Americans "were meant to transform history" and that sublimating the individual in the service of that "common national cause" is the wellspring of honor and purpose. (But unlike most soldiers, McCain has been in a position to prod and even compel civilians to join his cause.)
I'm not criticizing that belief at all; in fact I tend to share it (contrary to that clumsy slur about "never see[ing] America as doing anything but harm"), albeit with much less messianic fervor. What I personally don't buy into is "sublimating the individual in the service of that 'common national cause,'" and more to the point, I don't think that core belief/motivation, in the hands of someone eager to wield government power, is a recipe for good public policy.

More from the Junkyard:

What really has Welch's panties knotted up in such a tight wad is McCain's statements that we need more, not fewer, boots on the ground in Iraq. When you look at what has been going on over there the last few weeks, at least as it's being reported by the MSM, and if you believe that we MUST win this battle in the War Against Radical Islam, how can you argue with that?
Quite the contrary -- I twist my own female underclothes hither and yon because it gives me pleasure, on account of I am super-gay.

Here's Gary, at Ex-Donkey Blog:

this shouldn't really come as any surprise. Now that the exploratory campaign has officially launched, the Senator's duplicitous "friends" in the media are going to spend the next two years giving him more than "moderately bad press" - with an eye toward crippling his candidacy.

There are things about John McCain that I like. And there are things that I don't particularly like. But the Senator from Arizona has been used by the MSM as a foil for President Bush ever since the 2000 election. Unfortunately for him, McCain was only too happy to accept their disingenuous praise. Now he'll have to deal with their scorn. Because, frankly, he looks like the one candidate that could handily close the door on Her Shrillness' Presidential hopes.

And the MSM can't have that, now, can they?

I've seen worse guesses; and in fact I do expect a bunch of negative stuff on McCain in the coming journalistic season, some of it because of his transparent lurch rightward for the primary season. I just wanted to say that, for me, Her Shrillness' presidential hopes are something that does not motivate me toward anything but a generalized despair.

I saved the best for last. B.T., of Ankle Biting Pundits, from a post entitled "Guess John McCain Won't Be Getting That L.A. Times Endorsement":

Never ones to say anything flattering about a Republican of any kind, the subscription-hemmoraghing LA Times ran an editorial yesterday and, well, let's just say the media-darling Republican didn't get a flattering review: [...]

[long excerpt]

Let's be honest: when push comes to shove, the Times isn't going to give the nod to any Republican no matter how far left they lean from the core of the party. But John McCain is supposed to be the 'maverick' of all mavericks, willing to break with his party at a moment's notice on the big issues, and do so publicly on the Sunday shows. And yet, he can't buy a good op-ed from the LA Times. Just goes to show it doesn't pay for Republicans to act like anything but Republicans. [...]

[T]he larger point is no matter what McCain leans left on politically to make himself look like a reach-across-the-aisle centrist, so long as he has the (R) next to his name, the left will never give him anything in return but trouble. He could single handedly fund embryonic stem cell research through an abortion clinic, find a cure for cancer, and the LA Times' headline would read "McCain Fails To Cure Other Diseases".

1) Guess John McCain Won't Be Getting That L.A. Times Endorsement.
An Op-Ed in November 2006 is a lousy predictor of an Editorial in November 2008, even if it's written by one of the 11 or so Editorial Board members. Like everyone else there, my personal views are neither congruent with those of the other 10, nor with the stare decisis-respecting compromises and consensuses we forge for the unsigned bits on the left side of the page. Furthermore, when an Ed Board member drifts rightward across the letters column to signed commentary it's usually a good indicator that the column is something that the Board wouldn't collectively say. Finally, I would point out the unknowable trivia that I first conceived of this piece long before I began working at the Times, and if it reflects any publication's sensibility, it would be that of the magazine that employed me at the time.

2) Never ones to say anything flattering about a Republican of any kind
"By almost every measure, it was a fine year for the governor."

3) Let's be honest: when push comes to shove, the Times isn't going to give the nod to any Republican no matter how far left they lean from the core of the party.
"Schwarzenegger for governor."
"Bruce McPherson for secretary of state."
"Steve Poizner for insurance commissioner."

4) And yet, [McCain] can't buy a good op-ed from the LA Times.
This is technically true, though I would point out that, even though our Op-Ed page is not for sale, our regular columnists -- even those on the left -- have freely offered their pro-McCain views as recently as eight months ago.

5) He could single handedly fund embryonic stem cell research through an abortion clinic, find a cure for cancer, and the LA Times' headline would read "McCain Fails To Cure Other Diseases".
No, it would be "Cancer Cured; Poor, Minorities Most Affected."

Well, that was fun! Expect more McCainiana in this space for the next 23 months or so. Unless not.

01/01/2007 07:20 PM  |  Comment (9)

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