For Chicago Cubs fans and Cleveland Indians fans, it's an easy choice. For baseball fans in general, it's an easy choice. For fans of America, it's a good choice, too. You can ignore the presidential election from he** for a few more days.
After 71 years, the Cubs have won the National League pennant. My dad and mom didn't get to see it. But Mom and Dad, thanks for all the games we watched and listened to and went to. This one's for you.
------- UPDATE (10/23-16 1:35 pm): I added a couple of links.
Groups favoring Democrats in Illinois are running commercials attacking Republicans for saying they would vote for Donald Trump. After some of Mr. Trump’s more egregious statements, which he made years ago and are, somehow, only being discovered now (color me cynical re the timing), I understand why some people might consider that an effective commercial. (On the other hand, I cannot figure out why any of these statements should surprise anybody. Anybody paying attention would have figured out long ago that Mr. Trump said things like this in the past.)
A large number of migrants are camping out in and around Calais, in northern France on the English Channel. The Wall Street Journal reports:
“By the end of the year – and as early as this month – [French President François] Hollande plans to transfer thousands of migrants from the blighted port to shelters in far-flung corners of France.
The goal is to dismantle the Jungle, a sprawling migrant camp skirting the port that has become a symbol of Europe’s failure to manage the flow of migrants across its borders from conflict zones in Syria, Afghanistan and beyond.”
The Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, has announced a suspension of bombing in Aleppo and the establishment of humanitarian corridors to the city. According to the Russians, the bombing suspension will allow humanitarian aid to reach the city, which is not the purpose, and militants to leave the city, which is closer to the purpose.
What the Russians and Syrians have been trying to do is to regain control of all of Aleppo for the Bashar al-Assad regime. You can do that by either killing those in Aleppo who oppose the regime or getting them to leave. There is a limit to the number of people you can kill by bombing. Plus there are the public relations problems. Eventually, even Russia cares a little about this, especially when the bad publicity threatens to carry over to other areas. For example, the EU is considering additional sanctions on Russia because of the Aleppo bombing.
The award of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature to Bob Dylan created a mini-brouhaha as to whether the Nobel Prize for Literature should be awarded to somebody who merely wrote songs (and sang them), as opposed to somebody who wrote books. But I have no complaint. Songs are just poetry set to music.
I also have no objection to Bob Dylan winning the award. My only comment is that, when it comes to songs that speak to me, the ones that do it best are country. I understand many people see country music as “depressing songs about divorce and pain.” But the best of country is not just “three strings on an old guitar.” The best songs speak to life. And when it comes to that kind of country song, nobody does it better than Donna Fargo. But instead of me trying to tell you that, let her songs do it themselves. Here are two I especially like:
I have watched a little over half of the debates so far. All of the first presidential debate. Two-thirds of the vice-presidential debate. And none of the last one. One of the problems, especially in the VP debate and from what I read about the second presidential debate, is the constant interruptions of one candidate by the other. (I am not going to criticize the moderators too much for this. If a candidate wants to be a jerk, there is not too much the moderator can do about it.)
Here is my suggestion. I realize it may sound juvenile, but with the candidates being juvenile, we may not have a choice.
With Paul Ryan saying he will neither campaign for nor defend Mr. Trump (but not withdrawing his endorsement) and Donald Trump seeming to spend almost as much time attacking Speaker Ryan as Hillary Clinton (who is, the last time I looked, Mr. Trump’s actual opponent), Mr. Trump’s loss on November 8 is looking pretty certain. The Senate is likely to go Democratic, too.
I saw it last night, and I still almost do not believe it. Obviously, I could not listen to the national broadcasters; I never do, especially when the Cubs are not going well. And on “the hometown call” (i.e., WSCR). Pat and Ron the 2nd were constantly talking about the Giants’ winning streak in elimination games, too, so I couldn’t listen to them anymore, either. There was only one thing to do: I turned the radio off, turned the sound on the TV down, and I watched. Just like at a game. There was baseball. Why did I need commentary? (I did turn the sound up for the commercials during the pitching changes, but that was just to pass the time.) I watched, without distraction, and saw a comeback to remember forever in the top of the ninth.
I didn’t watch the bottom of the ninth on TV, however. Ever since Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, I haven’t watched the last half inning on TV if the Cubs are up. Back in 1989, it seemed if I watched Mitch on TV, the Cubs lost. So I stopped watching the last half inning when we are ahead. Therefore, I turned the radio back on in the bottom of the ninth last night and “watched” on the radio – and promptly ran into the den, where the TV is, as soon as Chapman struck out the third batter. Fortunately, the delay between the radio and the TV meant that I got there just as the batter was striking out – on TV.
Score one for Wrigley. I asked Angel Pagan if he'd have caught Javier Baez's home run if there hadn't been a basket overhanging the warning track. No basket, catch that ball? Pagan: "Yes. Of course. I was right under it. It looked like it was coming back. It was coming (down), but it was coming back. So I could see the ball coming back, but it was right in the back of the basket. It was right on the edge. But it was good enough." Question: So it caught the very edge and dropped in? Pagan: "I haven't seen the replay, but that's what it looked like. I saw (the) baseball. Right before I got to the wall, I saw (the) baseball right there. So you could see that if it kept (going), I could catch it."
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Kimberley Strassel talks about Donald Trump’s failure to make an issue of Obamacare. With premiums increasing (a lot) and insurance companies dropping out of the market, Ms. Strassel sees Obamacare as a good issue for Mr. Trump. It’s more than that, she says:
“But Mr. Trump might consider that his silence is doing damage to more than simply himself. Across the country, Republican candidates are facing voters angry about health care. It would help immensely if they could argue that repealing ObamaCare would be the pressing priority of a Trump administration.”
What Ms. Strassel misses, I am afraid, is that Donald Trump doesn’t care about anybody else. Getting Republicans elected to Congress? Democrats controlling Congress? He doesn’t care. As long as he wins, that is all that counts. If he wins, he sees government as just a big contract negotiation. Government; business. He doesn’t see a difference. He’s a better negotiator, so he’ll win. And nobody else matters.
Do you think the fact that Dorothy Brown, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, is running for re-election in November has anything to do with the fact that she announced an “Amnesty Week” from October 17-21, 2016, allowing people to pay past due fees and fines without any collection or penalties? Nah. Just a happenstance.
I watched about as much of the Vice Presidential debate as I could last night, about 60 minutes. I got tired of the two candidates not really answering the questions they were asked. And I got really tired of Senator Tim Kaine almost constantly interrupting Governor Mike Pence. The print edition of the Chicago Tribune this morning said the two candidates “frequently interrupted each other.” No! Governor Pence occasionally interrupted Senator Kaine. Senator Kaine was constantly interrupting Governor Pence. I thought people from Virginia were supposed to be polite. Not Senator Kaine.
Governor Pence did the best he could when asked to justify/explain some of Donald Trump’s more outrageous statements. He basically ignored what Mr. Trump said and stated reasonable positions (at least reasonable to me). It did call attention to the weakness of the Republican ticket this year: the wrong guy is on the top of the ticket (or on the ticket at all). If Governor Pence was the Republican nominee for President, as opposed to Vice President, I would be, as I always have before this year, enthusiastically supporting the Republican ticket.
The Chicago Tribuneendorsed Gary Johnson for president today. They noted that they said in March they couldn’t/wouldn’t endorse Donald Trump. The editorial today listed the reasons they couldn’t endorse Hillary Clinton: the spending, the lying, etc. (For a complete list, see the editorial.)
Instead of picking between what they call “such disappointing major party candidates,” the Tribune decided to endorse “a principled candidate.” The Tribune likes Gary Johnson’s “small L-libertarianism, built on individual freedom and convinced that, on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, official Washington is clumsy, expensive and demonstrably unable to solve this nation’s problems.” I do, too.
Foreign Policy’s “Situation Report” newsletter reported this on Syria yesterday:
“For real this time, we swear. American officials are once again threatening to send more and more-sophisticated weapons to Syrian rebels now that Russia has walked away from talks on a ceasefire in the city of Aleppo. Anonymous officials whisper to Reuters that the joint Syrian government and Russian assault on the city has the Obama administration considering options ranging from increased weapons shipments to rebels, to humanitarian airdrops in rebel-held areas, to air strikes on Assad regime air assets. Despite the rhetoric, the consideration so far hasn't reached higher levels and the State Department has yet to officially give up on the diplomatic track, much less embrace an alternative.”1
“The Obama administration threatened to pull out of talks with Russia over a collapsed cease-fire in Syria and has renewed an internal debate over giving rebels more firepower to fend off a stepped-up Russian and Syrian assault on their Aleppo stronghold, U.S. officials said.”
Yesterday’s Chicago Tribune had a list of how well teams with the best record in the majors and/or 100 wins have done in the playoffs since the three divisions/wild card system was instituted in 1995.1 Assuming each of the eight teams in the playoffs2 has an equal chance of winning, that’s an average of 2.625 World Series championships for any team over this 21 year-period, if the team was in the playoffs every year.
Now, look at what actually happened. Over the 21 years, the team with the best record in the majors has won the World Series four times, instead of a projected 2.625 times. Actually, since five times there was a tie for best record, you are looking at 26 teams, which projects to 3.25 championships3 – versus the actual four times it occurred. Not much of a difference for having the best record in baseball.
On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said “[i]t would be diplomatic malpractice” to not continue to pursue negotiations with Russia on a cease-fire in Syria. Actually, it seems to me to be “diplomatic malpractice” to pursue negotiations when you have every reason to believe they won’t be successful, especially when prior negotiations were, in effect, used by the other side as an opportunity to rearm and reorganize.
It’s diplomatic malpractice to encourage people to put hope in negotiations when there is little or no reason to believe they will work and when, if they don’t work, you won’t do anything about it.
If the United States isn’t willing to back up its diplomacy with anything more than calls for further negotiations – or calls for actions by the United Nations that won’t happen because Russia has a veto, then the better course is to be honest about it and quit. Let the people know they have to figure out their own solution instead of trusting or relying on the United States when what we are willing to do won’t realistically work. Plus, we can save our credibility for some time when we might need it.
I was talking to a supporter of one of the two presidential candidates the other day, and I said that I thought I would watch the presidential debate tonight because I don’t really have a rooting interest this time. The point is, when you really care, sometimes it is harder to watch these kinds of things because you are worried about how it may turn out for your candidate or because you may get overly irritated by the other candidate’s answers. But I figured this time I could watch because, as I said, I don’t have much of a rooting interest.
You could tell my answer bothered this person a little. They said that you have to decide who is the better candidate. There are, effectively, only two choices. It’s an important election, and you need to pick.
If you think this is a foreign policy election, as I do, the choice is a negative one. Donald Trump is so bad, much like our current president, that you hope Hillary Clinton will be better, though much of what she says makes you a little worried. You almost have to hope that she doesn’t mean some of the things she is saying and that she will be better than her past record indicates. But then, the bar of the current president and her opponent are so low, she might actually make it.
There are so many ways that our current president is bad at foreign policy that it is hard to know where to start. Perhaps the most current: Syria. The print edition of FT Weekend had an article entitled “Syria offensive leaves Kerry high and dry,”1 but when you read the article, you got the feeling Secretary Kerry was being left high and dry by President Obama as much as Bashar al-Assad or Vladimir Putin. In explaining why negotiations are the only option in Syria, Secretary Kerry is quoted as saying: “America’s made the decision that we’re not going in with our troops. The president’s made that decision. What’s the alternative?”
Earlier this year, I wrote about going to a Cubs game with my dad fifty years ago, on May 28, 1966, and how I went with our son to the Cubs game on May 28 of this year.
Well, let me mention one more 50th anniversary, coming up on Sunday. Ed Sherman wrote about it in last Sunday’s Chicago Tribune. It is the 50th anniversary of the day Kenny Holtzman, the Cubs’ left-handed Jewish rookie pitcher, started against Sandy Koufax, the Dodgers’ (and the world’s) greatest left-handed Jewish pitcher. Koufax was famous around the world for not pitching on Yom Kippur during the 1965 World Series. Koufax was famous around the baseball world for being just about the best pitcher in baseball in the early and middle 1960s.