|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Saturday, May 05, 2007
My Derby Bets
$5 each to win on:
Nobiz Like Shobiz
Any Given Saturday
$1 Trifecta Wheels (5 x $8/ea):
Zanjero (or) Hard Spun (or) Scat Daddy (or) Circular Quay (or) Any Given Saturday
(The above, plus) Curlin, Nobiz Like Shobiz, Sam P, Dominican
(In other words, I need a horse from the first list to finish first, with any of "the above, plus" in second)
Total Wagered = $65
Obligatory Kentucky Derby Post
Since I've done exactly zero research here, I'm going to make it quick. I believe there's no standout three-year-old in this crew, so a longshot is going to win today.
I'm probably going to drop some cash on a few exacta boxes with horses at 10-1 and higher. I think Circular Quay is talented, will be sitting there in the 14-1 neighborhood, and is worth a play. Street Sense and Hard Spun are worth a look as well.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Go Go Neocon Super Squad!
"These (policy triumphs), attributable in part to the scalding impact of September 11, are also in part due to the formidable intellectual firepower behind neoconservative foreign policy. A group with the intelligence and rigor of Wolfowitz, Kagan, Kristol, Rice, Perle, and Cheney has probably not been seen since George Kennan led a team that formulated America's response to the threat of Soviet expansion." [Irving Stelzer - The Neocon Reader - 2004]
Does anyone have any Pepto? I'm feeling a little queasy.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Dee 2 Da Cee, Part Uno
So I've never really been a fan of writing trip reports (although reading them is always fun), but as infrequently as I get out of town I probably should make an effort to put some things down for posterity.
(Post-dinner out front of the restaurant)
The entire purpose of the trip started as an excuse to meet up with Matty and Garth for dinner at Tony Bourdain's outpost of Les Halles in DC. I mean, I love French food. Matty loves French food. Who loses here? As the idea took shape, we managed to get Al and DoubleAs on board, and then went to work on Gracie, which paid off as she booked a cheap-ass flight up from Florida.
As an aside, I got all my links back to attending parties out of the way in that one paragraph. I'm lazy like that.
Anyway, leading up to the dinner on Thursday night, Matty and Al and I were comparing notes on the menu when I saw an entry that got me geeked:
Merguez, aka Moroccan lamb sausage.
Somewhere in my past, maybe twelve years gone by, I had dinner at a Moroccan joint in mid-Michigan (so you know it's authentic!), and had some sort of peppery Moroccan lamb sausage that was just out-of-this-world. Since that dinner, I hadn't seen anything on a menu that looked remotely close, but I had always remembered that meal as a standout. So, I suppose you could say I've been searching for the Moroccan lamb sausage going on fifteen years.
The Merguez is a grilled link that features a sort-of chili paste as an ingredient. The paste's flavor might be akin to maybe a blend of roasted chipotle and something with a more deep and earthy flavor. Since I'm not a chili expert, I could be way off, but you get the idea. Anyway, Matty and I split a plate ordered as an appetizer (it was a dinner, not an app), and just fell over ourselves enjoying it. They served it with frites (fries, to you heathens) and a side of Moroccan sundried tomato paste for dipping. Fucking wonderful stuff.
In keeping with fat kid tradition, I ordered a second appetizer as well. Warm goat cheese on toasted baguette croutins. Dang. The meal was a sirloin grilled and bathed in a red wine peppercorn glaze/sauce, the wine a Cotes d'Rhone, and the coffee served in its own French press.
I gotta sidetrack the DC stuff for a second, bear with me. So today, just now, I was speaking on the phone with my boss. He knows I went to the Playboy Mansion last year, and kids me about getting an invite (in that semi-serious sort of way) every once in awhile. Anyway, he brings it up in our phone call, and I told him this year's party came and went, but that I had a cool VIP moment this weekend.
I told him about getting a tour of the capitol and how cool it was for a political junkie to be able to have a few private moments in the Speaker's office.
Innocuous enough, I suppose. I mean, even the hardest core Republicans you know would be geeked out about a private tour like this one, even if the office you toured belonged to someone with a differing ideology.
So my boss thought that was cool, and starts talking about how it depresses him that his kids will probably never get to tour the White House under our current climate, and how every time he takes his shoes off at the airport, he sighs to himself and mutters, "We lose again!"
And then he starts talking about the war, and how you can't fight someone who actively wants to blow himself up anyway. I offer that it's difficult to fight an enemy that's not wearing uniforms and marching at you in battalions, and he agrees, jumping back to the "blow himself up" point, eventually saying that 9/11 and the World Trade Center was one thing, but once "these guys" start blowing themselves up in shopping malls and movie theatres in mid-America, that "it'll be all over."
He went further than that, actually. Kept on that line of thought for awhile, exploring what will happen if "the inner-Archie Bunker in all of us" has a reason to turn ugly. I suppose in the interest of, uh, privacy or decorum or Googling the archives or something I'll just say that although he didn't really wander anywhere I haven't heard someone go before, it wasn't a discussion in which I thought participation was in my best interest.
I mean, where do I start? Neoconservative foreign policy? The consequences of the likely neverending "Great War on Terror" on the rule of law as seen through John Yoo's unitary executive theory? Geopolitical aggression to ensure access to foreign oil? The Rushdoony Dominionists craving crusades for the new century?
Holy hell, that was just NOT a conversation I wanted to have any part of - at least not with the guy who writes my performance review twice a year.
So in the Kevin Bacon game, I suppose I'm one link away from the most powerful woman in the country who does not host a talk show. I've known Jon for about ten years (I'd guess), mostly through our six or seven year reign as co-commissioners of a fantasy football league. All that time, he's been working his way up through various offices in the House of Representatives to his current spot, which is as a foreign policy advisor to Nancy Pelosi. He had always offered to meet up if I got down to DC, and possibly get a tour of the Capitol.
I emailed him prior to the visit, and he was generous enough to offer us an hour on Saturday for that tour.
I can't begin to tell you how cool it is to be in that building, let alone be traveling in a small pack of three stepping past velvet ropes and restricted access signs to all areas of the building.
(The hall outside the Speaker's Office - with velvet rope)
Well, not all areas, I suppose. We could only peer in at the floor of the House, as it was locked up, and there was plenty of office space we didn't get to see, but the big thrill was the tour of the Speaker's office. It was Saturday around noon, and it was Jon and Gracie and I in an empty suite behind velvet ropes in an area well off the route of tour guides showing the building.
This is the Speaker's actual office, which sits between an office that sits two staffers through doors on one side, and a conference room on the the other. Jon and I are talking at her desk, which is actually pitifully small, featuring a chair that doesn't slide under, no drawers and no computer. Jon's holding a book (on China, his area of expertise) that he found on a pile on her desk (interestingly enough, with The Bible on top), about which he remarked "I've been looking for this, before he swiped it.
Right off her desk!
I'd assume most of the Speaker's time in her office is spent on the couch or in one of the chairs reading or writing, as that desk of hers isn't the type of table you're going to want to spend eight hours hunched over. All around the office were pictures of her family, her grandchildren, a young Ms. Pelosi with JFK, and various trinkets and gifts - gavels, naturally. Tip O'Neill's family passed one of his to her, with a nice inscription wishing her success in her role. There was also a tall vase in the corner of the room with huge and fragrant lillies.
As mentioned, through one of the doors in her office lies her conference room, in which I'm sure a great many important people have sat. First thing I noticed walking through the door was an enormous painting on one of the walls, which I thought was the same one as from the cover of the Doris Kearns Goodwin book, Team of Rivals. I think I was wrong, but it was Lincoln and (presumably) his cabinet. Jon rapped his knuckles against the painting and said, "It's a fake. It was Hastert's." Between the desk, this "painting," and another fake in the hallway of her suite, Jon said they've been trying to get a nicer desk and real paintings up, but the Speaker just hadn't had time to get the curators of the building up with their catalog.
The balcony view was dramatic, and you can see a picture of Jon and I talking out there a couple of posts below. Just for perspective's sake, where we were was just below center of this picture. If you look at the flag, then the balcony just below that's blocked in by those columns - that's the Speaker's private balcony. Tour groups ain't getting out there, and we got to spend a good ten minutes soaking in the view.
It might surprise you to know that I don't generally try to talk politics with Jon, aside from the rare non-fantasy football related emails I kick his way. I took a little advantage of it this time though, asking him where he planned on going from this point of his career (wasn't sure, liked what he was doing and who he was working for), who he thought the nominees would be in 2008 (wasn't sure, but sure it wasn't going to be Hillary), and what the morale around the office was like on those days when the "Gotcha!" political non-stories surrounded the Speaker's office (the "bigger airplane" story was something they weren't prepared for, simply because they didn't make the request [House Sgt-at-Arms did, for security reasons], but they knew what they were getting into with the Syria trip and weren't ill-prepared for the spin.).
All in all, it was a really terrific tour, and both Gracie and I were total geeks in the wake of it.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Neocon Foreign Policy
It came up in conversation today, so I thought I'd pull a little clip to hopefully explain a little better what Neoconservative foreign policy entails. Emphasis added:
Finally, for a great power, the "national interest" is not a geographical term, except for fairly prosaic matters like trade and environmental regulation. A smaller nation might appropriately feel that its national interest begins and ends at its borders, so that its foreign policy is almost always in a defensive mode. A larger nation has more extensive interests. And large nations, whose identity is ideological, like the Soviet Union of yesteryear and the United States of today, inevitably have ideological interests in addition to more material concerns...[Irving Kristol - The Neoconservative Persuasion - AEI, August 2003]Distilling this down, Irving Kristol is saying that the United States, as a uniquely strong military and ideological power, has the responsibility to find ways to use it to ensure the survival and proliferation of this ideology, mainly through using our military strength as a means of persuasion. Well, that and as of 2003 the president was "doing a heckuva job, Bushie."
"Neocon" isn't a meaningless label. It is a philosophy. More on this later, but I gotta get a DC post written up too, don't I?
My Two Favorite Pics From DC
The picture above was taken on our Saturday afternoon tour of the Speaker of the House's office on her private balcony. I'll have more later, but thanks to Gracie for taking and posting these terrific pics.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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