Monday, April 24, 2006

Early Nats thoughts

Attended my first two Nats games of the season over the weekend. Due to my schedule of late, I haven't been able to listen to as many Nationals games on the radio yet as I'd like - too many evening commitments and whatnot (plus, tbh...a number of day games). But I've followed them in the paper and online, so I know what's been going on. But this weekend was my first opportunity to see them live and up close. A few thoughts (based on the last two games and what I've heard so-far):

  • Bullpen needs some work. Last night, Majewski blew the 1-0 lead in the top of the 8th inning, surrendering a three-run HR after Tony Armas, Jr. had pitched a gem of a game (a 3-hit shutout) and Stanton/Rodriguez had bailed him out in the 7th. I won't give the offense a free pass on this - one run isn't going to cut it. But there are going to be nights were the pitching staff isn't going to get the help it needs and on those nights, it's up to them to make do with what we have. And Majewski just didn't get it done last night. This has been a theme throughout this first month of the season - we'll see if it continues.
  • Stop whining about the fences at RFK. Soriano hit three HRs on Friday night (after the 2.5 hr. rain delay). Vidro just missed one that would have tied it up in the bottom of the 9th last night. Other teams have hit them out. Guillen has probably the most to complain about but even he has come close. The fact is that apart from Vidro's hit last night that went off the Nats bullpen wall in RF (it would have been a HR if it had only been a few feet higher), none of the "lost HRs" would have had that much of an impact on either of the games this weekend. You have to make do with what you have and the reality is that the fences are where they are - they aren't moving (at least not this season). You eventually need to get over the mental block about them.
  • Zimmerman. Rookie has a great glove, superb range and an awesome arm at 3B. His over the back diving catch of a pop-up on Friday night was one for the alltime highlight reels. He had a catch of a foul pop-up in-front of the Nationals dugout last night where if I didn't know better...I'd say he intentionally hesitated to run and make a try for. His bat is going to take time - though he does occaisionally show signs of breaking out, he's also swinging at some bad pitches...typical rookie stuff. But so far, he appears to be the "real deal."
  • Cordero the patriot? I watched something quite unusual last night. Never noticed it before and I'll have to watch again on Tuesday night (my next home game) to see if it's repeated. They had brought the US flag out onto the field for the national anthem, instead of just using the flag over CF. Like all the other players, Chad stood and held hat over heart. What was interesting was that after the anthem had been sung, as all the other players went about their business, "The Chief" and two other players from the bullpen continued to stand at attention. They remained that way until the honor guard carrying the flag went off the field and through the gate into RFK. Only then did they break from attention and return to the dugout. I'd never noticed him doing this before. Is this new? Something after being on the US National team?
  • Lesson learned from Friday - don't ever leave the game early. You'll regret it.
  • Another lesson from the weekend - night games in April can be chilly.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Not a day to remember for Nats GM

The few people who read this space know I can't stand Jim Bowden, the GM of the Nationals. The reasons are long and mostly deal with his utter incomptence. But yesterday wasn't a good day for him and since I enjoy delighting in his misery...let's recap...

First, news breaks about his arrest Monday morning for drunk driving. Seems he was in a bit of a domestic altercation with his fiancee, who beat him up. More than likely, it'll provide good reason for some house cleaning once ownership is named in the next week or two (come on, Bud! Get it over with already!!).

Even better...Ryan Church continues to make a mockery of Bowden's decision to start the season with Brandon "O for 4" Watson in CF and Church in New Orleans. In four games since returning to the Nats following his call-up on Friday, he's batted .286 with 3 HR and 8 RBIs, including a grand-slam to cap off last night's win.

Soriano has done well in the leadoff role, even if he might be better suited elsewhere. And Church hitting well makes Bowden look like an idiot for sending him down to start the season.

Of course...it's still way too early. But I can hope these are further nails in the Bowden coffin.

Well, that's that...

(Yes...again I've been absent without leave...not like anybody reads this thing)

With their 4-1 victory over Tampa Bay last night, the Capitals end their season at 29-41-12, 70pts. Good for last place in the Southeast Division, next to last place in the conference and the fourth worst record in the league.

And yet...it wasn't all bad for the Caps this season. A number of things went right or at least much better than expected:

  • Despite the doom and gloom to start the season (some people were talking about them not being able to win 20 games), the Caps managed to win 29 games and lost 12 in OT. Boston and the Isles weren't that much better than us, we played more or less .500 at home and ended strongly, going 7-3-4 down the stretch.
  • I can't seem to find the stat online today, but...the Capitals played a remarkable number of one-goal games this season. My my count...we were 16-26 in games decided by one goal (including OT and SO losses). Which bodes well for the future, since those are all games that could with a flick here and there, be turned around.
  • Alex Ovechkin. Nuff said. Thank god he's on our team. 52 goals. 106 points. Third best rookie season in history. Third best Caps all time goals in a season, second best points in a season.
  • Zubrus, Willsie, Clark, Halpern...all had decent years or career bests. Halpern really came on strong in the second half of the year and while he has never shown the goal-scoring touch he had in his first couple of seasons, he's becoming a solid second-line center and is dishing things out pretty well. He did well in his first season as team captain, though from the looks of things...that might be a one-year deal - all reports seem to indicate Halpern is going to test the free-agent waters and that we'll probably let him go since he isn't really in our long-range plans anymore. Too bad.
  • Shaone Morrisonn showed why Boston is cursing GMGM for fleecing them in the Gonchar trade. Emminger played better as the year went on, as did Hewerd and Muir.
  • Kolzig is showing some age, but he keeps us in games we have no business winning.

That said...there are things that clearly need some improvement as well:

  • The defense....despite improving as the year went on, it was terrible at times. Particularly our penalty-killing unit, which was near dead last in the NHL. And speaking of penalties...
  • Our power-play. YUCK! Awful. I never could understand why we were so terrible on the PP, particularly with gifted scorers like Ovi and Zubrus out there. And yet we floundered at times. I don't know how many 5-on-3 advantages we squandered without any goals, but it seems like the answer is "all of them."
  • Still no proven successor to Kolzig in net. This was supposed to be Oulette's year to take some playing time and instead, we used Brent Johnson. Don't get me wrong...Johnson's a quality second-string goalie. But he's not the future of the franchise. Now we're onto the Daigenault watch. It was bad enough that we had to resign Kolzig to a contract extension rather than trade him this season, since the alternative is a big question-mark.
  • Attendance was "meh." We were near the bottom of the league, but that shouldn't be a shocker considering we not only don't have a great team, but this is a fair-weather town as far as hockey goes. The Caps are decidedly behind the Nats, Redskins, Wizards and college basketball in this town (as far as popularity), despite the cheapness of tickets, etc. That'll get better over time as the team improves...we just have to weather the lean years.
  • Do we have a consistent scoring option other than Ovi? Wouldn't it be nice if he had a true center on his line (not to knock Zubby)? Wouldn't it be nice if we could develop some other scary-good forwards? What happened to Boyd Gordon? Matt Sutherby? Both are very talented but haven't really done much here. Eric Fehr?
  • Friessen and Sykora. Yuck. The Semin drama - yuck as well (though the good news is that that whole thing is over and Alexander "Headcase" Semin will be on the roster next season).
So...some good, some bad. 70 points for the season is an excellent accomplishment. The goal for next season out to be 80-85 points, IMO. That would be enough to challenge for (but just miss) the playoffs this year. Just by picking up a couple of additional wins in some one-goal games ought to make a huge difference. And there is certainly talent down in Hershey. Some of those guys will be playing up here next season. And we'll draft high again. I'd say 80 points next season isn't out of the question - anything to avoid a backslide.

And that's that for the Caps this year. For me...it's over to baseball full-time.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Your Guz Update

It's early in the season...I can't get on Guzman's case this early. I just can't. If I do, my head might explode before the end of the year.

Anyway...turns out his injury is far worse than the Nats staff thought...a torn right shoulder. This is both good and bad. Good because it means he's probably out for at least a month or so. Bad because Royce Clayton hasn't exactly been "awesome" in the preseason.

But I have to ask...has anybody else noticed that we appear to have a worse training and medical staff than even Kansas City? Seeming like a pattern that's developed in the last year or so. I just worry that we're doing something wrong that's causing all these injuries. Or maybe it's just bad luck. *shrug*

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Stadium design released at last

Now that the whole menace of the City Council and the lease agreement is well and truly done and gone, we can start actually moving forward. Today came word from the mayor's office and HOK, the architectural firm hired to design the new stadium for the Washington Nationals, on what the stadium will (in all likelihood) actually look like.

See the conceptual drawings here. I still can't tell if you can actually see the capitol dome from the seats or not. Otherwise...looks cool. No word on whether you can flood it in order to stage naval battles...or drown Cristian Guzman.

Oh goodie!

The news is just chock full of joy today...

Word comes from multiple sources (WaPo, CNN, NYTimes, etc.) this morning that as many as 50-90 new bodies have turned up in Baghdad in the last 30 hours. Most of them showing signs of torture. As the NYT put it:
The victims, all male, were shot or strangled after being bound and blindfolded. Many of the bodies were found in Sadr City, the Shiite-controlled area where Sunday's bombings took place. The Interior Ministry also reported finding 29 bodies buried in the city's western regions and 15 bodies were found in a minibus on a road heading out of the city, according to the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

The wave of killings began with a graphic display of street violence on Monday, in which Shiite vigilantes seized four men suspected of terrorist attacks, interrogated them, beat them, killed them and left their bodies dangling from lampposts, witnesses and government officials said. The sense of growing lawlessness deepened Monday night with a mortar strike against a well-known Sunni mosque in Baghdad, killing three people.

So...we've got that going for us. What civil war?

What a mess. Please...just get us out.

The gang who couldn't shoot straight

No...I'm not talking about the Bush Administration. Not exactly. If the last six years have proven anything, it's that they can shoot straight. They just can't alway pick out the correct targets, mind you, and sometimes all they CAN do is shoot...

Rather, I'm talking about the Justice Department's prosecution team for the case against "alleged" 9/11 terrorist-wannabe Zacarias Moussaoui. It's been four and a half years of errors on the government's part...with the case being thrown out of court more than once, only to finally have the crazy man himself, Mr. Moussaoui (whom even the 9/11 hijackers thought was a loon, apparently) plead guilty after trying to be his own lawyer. The case really does have a cartoonish element to it.

Well, yesterday came news that prosecutors have admitted that some witnesses were coached on thier testimony. The judge is p*ssed off and is now threatening either a mistrial (which might be good for the govt.) or taking the death penalty off the table.
Judge Leonie M. Brinkema said she had just learned from prosecutors that a lawyer for the Transportation Security Administration gave portions of last week's trial proceedings to seven witnesses who have yet to testify. In e-mail messages, the lawyer also seemed to tell some of the witnesses how they should testify to bolster the prosecution's argument that Mr. Moussaoui bore some responsibility for the deaths caused by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
(emphasis added by me)

These are the same folks who nearly got the case thrown out before he changed his mind and decided (again) to plead guilty. They arranged a plea aggreement that still doesn't make much sense. Way to go team!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Life, Death, Childhood and War...with a little China thrown in, too
Empire of the Sun, by J.G. Ballard (reviewed)
Amazon.com link

Empire of the Sun
, film by Steven Spielberg (reviewed)
IMDB link


I'm not sure what the first "adult" movie I ever went to with my parents was. For that matter, I suppose it depends on the definition of an "adult" movie in the first place. Personally, I discount any science fiction movie from being in that catagory - if it's SF/F...it isn't "adult" (not that adults can't enjoy those movies, or shouldn't go...that's not what I'm saying). No...by adult, I mean a movie with adult themes. That was about reality, or history, or something more than pure fantasy and speculation. A movie that was not made so that children could enjoy it. And I don't mean my first Rated-R movie...I actually KNOW what that one was ("Total Recall," which I saw at the Glendale, on a rainy summer afternoon in 1990).

Like I said...I can't remember what my first adult movie was. But I can name the first adult movie that I remember seeing...whether or not it was actually the first...who knows. But the first adult movie I saw and came away mesmerized by...enough so that it left an impression on me that has lasted for decades...was Steven Spielberg's movie Empire of the Sun. I saw it in the dead of winter with my father (and...I think...my step-mother) at the Fox theatre near White Lakes Mall off Topeka Blvd. in Topeka, KS. White Lakes Mall doesn't exist anymore...or rather, it does, but it's just offices and whatnot. I think the Fox theatre has closed down as well, for that matter. Or at least, I think it was the Fox theatre...things get hazy. But I do remember it was cold. Really cold. It was December 1987 and in Kansas...December is always cold.

Outside, after the film, I couldn't stop talking about it. I think part of my captivation was that I was going through that phase that many young boys go through...fascinated with airplanes and aviation...and World War 2 aviation in particular. Girls go through ponies and unicorns and ballet and whatnot. Boys go through dinosaurs and trains and airplanes and WW2 (and yes...those are stereotypes and not necessarily universal). Anyway...here was a movie that, for a kid who was almost 14 years old, had everything! It had a main character who was my own age. It had WW2. And airplanes. Just about everything a 14 year old boy would love.

What I wasn't expecting was to be so terribly moved by it. I've seen the movie many times since then and I still find it an incredibly moving experience. It's one of my favorite movies and I'll argue until I'm hoarse that it's Spielberg's "forgotten classic" - too often confused with "The Last Emperor," which came out around the same time and covers some of the same ground. It is a tale about the loss of childhood and innocence. Of growing up and learning what being an adult is...and what the world is really like. Of China and it's misery under the brutal occupation of the Japanese. Of the terrible things we do to survive. And the triumph and tragedy of becoming an adult.

Now, 20 years after it was published, I have finally managed to read JG Ballard's novel, which the film is based on. It took awhile. There are always other books to read and always will be. With Empire of the Sun, I also had a hard time getting my hands on a copy. It had floated out of print here in the States for awhile - Ballard's other novels have always been more popular (I should note...I'm a big fan of Ballard's fiction). I also use the word novel loosely here. Ballard admits that this is an autobiographical novel...that the events are based on events that happened to him. And like the best Ballard fiction...at times you question what is real and what is unreal. But that's secondary to the story here.

In a nutshell, Empire of the Sun tell the story of Jaime/Jim, a spoiled rich child of British parents living in Shanghai's International Settlement in the years before WW2 broke out in the Pacific. You see very little of that life...only enough to get a picture. Within a few chapters, the war has broken out and Jaime (later called Jim) and his life change forever. The Japanese confiscate everything, starting with the "order" that everyone is used to. Jim quickly loses his parents and finds himself alone in Shanghai and unable to "surrender" to the Japanese. He goes through various minor adventures before falling in with two American merchant sailors (Frank and Basie)...only to end up interred with all the other foreign nationals.

And then the book flashes forward to 1945 and the closing months of the war. The internment camp is practically the only life he knows. Like other survivors, he does not know how to operate in the real world once the security of the camp is gone and the war is over (indeed...he keeps heading back to the camp, drawn by it's security and his sense of fitting in there - over the last third of the book, Jim continually leaves and returns to the internment camp, sometimes idly hoping that WW3 is going to break out and the guards will return). Meanwhile, there is his "friendship" (if you can call it that) with the American, Basie. Malkovich (in the film) nailed this part...it was just about perfect from the description in the novel. A man who thinks only of himself, who is a constant survivor, and who provides the role of surrogate mother and father to Jim...in both good and bad ways.

This was a tremendous novel, filled with beautiful and haunting evocations of China and the hard life of internees (and worse for Chinese peasants). It is written with poetry and beauty, and apparently took Ballard 40 years before he could write it. The film is remarkably faithful to the novel...though there are some differences (particularly in the last quarter of the novel). But both begin and end with the same images - coffins floating on the Yangtze river in Shanghai. At the end of the novel/film, there is a child's coffin floating among them (in the film, it's Jim's discarded suitcase...in the novel, it is a child's coffin...but when Jim discard's the suitcase, he is reminded of a child's coffin). The novel/film have come full circle. And Jim will never be the same.

Loved it. Both come highly recommended by me. Worth checking out.

Last note...apparently, Ballard published his thoughts on the anniversary of the novel/film in the Observer over the weekend. The weekend that I read the novel for the first time. How's that for a coincidence, eh?

Another good bit of news on the Nats front...

Disciples of St. Barry of Svrluga rejoice!! Today's WaPo article from camp carries, at last, the blessed St. Barry's byline.

One of the reasons following the Nats was so much fun last year was reading Barry Svrluga, primary beat reporter on the Nats for the Post. Not everybody loves him, mind you. He doesn't always tell the "story of the game" in his articles about the last night's action. Instead...he (IMHO) strives to put you in the seats...to get a feel for the game as it was. Plus, his weekly chats on the Post website are legendary amounts of fun. Some people don't like that.

The rest of us...we're glad to have him back. And in a few short weeks, we have his book about the first season to read.

Done, done and I mean DONE

It's over. Our long National(s) stadium nightmare is over. MLB signed. Mayor Williams signed. The District's CFO, Natwar Gandhi has signed off. Linda Cropp and the City Council have signed off. We have a legally binding agreement and this long, tortureous nightmare can finally be put behind us.

Still not convinced? Well...the Washington Post article provides the final nail in this coffin:

"No additional council action is needed to seal the lease agreement."
That's it, folks. We have a stadium.

In the end, MLB decided (after some last minute grandstanding...perhaps revenge for everything the city has put it through) that it was better to just move on rather than fight out for a something that only would have gotten worse with time. Is this a perfect deal for the city? No. Is this the perfect deal for the owners? No...but they shouldn't complain...they're getting quite a bit. Everyone is going to make money here... Let's just get to it. So, both sides essentially "declared victory" and have decided to move on, as Marc Fisher elaborates in his column/postmortem today.

So...now what? Glad you asked...

Next up, the City Council has some administrative business to take care of today, which should go through without any problems, now that the Council's worries (they need to calm down a bit) are taken care of. And then the stadium construction can begin.

MLB needs to announce the new owner. In theory, that could come as soon as later this week or next, but is more likely to probably come towards the end of the month, since MLB doesn't want news to distract anyone from the WBC. Betting line's still open on who that owner will be and I won't even try to read MLB's tea leaves.

Past that, decisions will need to be made regarding team president Tony Tavares (probably gone - ownership will want their own person, and Tony was only a caretaker), GM "Trader" Jim Bowden (I'd put his chances at 50-50...but if ownership is wise, he's probably gone as well...and I'd kick him out sooner rather than later) and, of course...team manager Frank Robinson (I don't see how he survives).

But it looks like we can finally stop reading about the Nats on the Metro and front page of the WaPo and put them in the Sports section. The nightmare appears to be over. Amen.

Monday, March 06, 2006

So...we've got that going for us

Nice. A new Washington Post poll comes back saying that a majority of Americans think a civil war in Iraq is "likely." And by majority...they mean 80 f*cking percent. A third said "very likely."

That's nice. So wonderful to see what a bang-up job we've done in that country. Our children can be proud!

*sigh*

On a lighter note...

How about the irony of this article (again...WaPo) about a local crackdown on pimping resulting in a conviction last week coming out on the morning after the song "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp" from Hustle & Flow wins best original song at the Academy Awards.

Ahhhhhh.....America.

Catching Up
I've been behind on things, what with being away in St. Louis for a week and a half, then my days off...then last week's disaster at work with GroupWise. I've finished a couple of books, been listening to some new music and have some thoughts on a couple other things...thought I'd group them together into one update post...

Things Read:

Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic, by Tom Holland
Amazon.com link
They don't make history much more exciting and readable than this. Holland's description of the last century or so of the Roman Republic...it's transition from the only republic in a world of despotisms and monarchies into just another empire with a hereditary ruler at it's head makes for exciting reading...one of those stories that you might think was fiction if you didn't know it all happened. I've always found Roman history interesting - far more so than the Greeks (something my father and I differ on - he's always been more interested in the ancient Greeks than the Romans). In some ways I feel that the Romans are an excellent mirror of our own selves; particularly now, as (like Rome in it's day) the only world superpower. The tale of corruption, egos, mob rule and politicians out of touch with "real people"...as well as the dangers of empire to the institutions of republicanism...all are lessons that are just as important to learn today. I've made no secret of my love of the HBO/BBC series that is loosely based on a number of these events and found myself curious as to how much in that series (and in other popular portrayals of the age) was entirely made up and how much was real. I was surprised at how much actually happened the way it was depicted. Oh, all sorts of minor things have been created to create the soap-opera quality that at times "Rome" became...but the major details are true. Brutus agonized over what he did to Ceasar...his mother Servilia was definitely the love of Ceasar's life. Octavian adored his sister, Octavia. Marc Antony comes across just as he's portrayed in the series - petty, beautiful, oversexed and hated by the Roman aristocracy. Spartacus really did have rather "communist" ideas in his slave revolt - as he was portrayed in the famous Kubrick movie. Even if he wasn't crucified (he died in combat) a large number of prisoners were crucified along the Appian Way. Fascinating reading...highly reccomended if you can't stand reading any of the "classic sources." (which, Holland notes, are more or less secondary sources themselves)

Hell to Pay, by George Pelecanos
Amazon.com link
The second in Pelecanos's series of "Derek Strange/Terry Quinn" noirish crime novels, where one of the principle characters (and a "bad guy" at that) is the city of Washington, DC itself. This one focuses on kids and the city - as both major events are tied to "kids gone wrong" (one a teenage prostitute from suburban MD...the other an innocent kid who ends up dead from a shooting targeted at his uncle). Both Strange and Quinn are fascinating characters - as are the many secondary characters in Pelecanos's work. Strange is the very model of a successful middle-class black man from Washington - one who's fighting against what parts of the city have become every day. Quinn is a white man with a lot of anger - I have a bad feeling about his ability to survive the next book. Pelecanos writes about the city I/we live in - not the political circus, which doesn't honestly impact the vast majority of us, but the real city filled with real people who go to work and live here. There is a certain "feel" in his books that is very familiar to any of us who live here. Excellent reading.

Also just read another book, but I'm going to talk about it in a seperate post.

Things I've been listening to:

Pandora
BC here at my office turned me on to this service (a couple of weeks before Rolling Stone published a little blurb about it and similar services). Basically...what you do is go to the site and tell it the name of an artist you like (it works best if you give the name of an artist you're in the mood for right then). It then plays a song by that artist...then develops a playlist using similar artists. Each track you can give a thumbs up/down and tweak it. Sort of your own personal genome like thing (I say that b/c the creators call it part of the music genome project...read more here). Anyway...it works pretty well. My first attempt was with Ben Folds and it played a bunch of music this weekend (streaming - translation...don't you dare use this service at work, especially if you work at my office...you don't want me coming down to play bad cop) and with some tweaking based on individual songs, caught my mood exactly. I've since played with it some at home using different artists. If you register, it'll even save your stations for you and allow you to play them elsewhere. It's pretty cool if you ask me...I've even found some artists I want to buy based on it. No idea if it works for classical/jazz/blues/etc....that's for later.

Onion Radio News (Daily)
Their podcast has become one of the highlights of every morning. Wherelse can I get material like "Hidden Valley Ranch Bombed by Basalmic Extremists" or my favorite..."Christian Porn Film Climaxes with Birth of Child." Priceless.


Stuff I've been looking at:


Office Pirates
A new humor site, dedicated to office stuff. I particularly liked the following image:


Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Looking like a bad day for the Busies and the neocons

A new Zogby poll of American troops finds a whopping 72% would pull American troops out of Iraq by the close of 2006. 29% said we should be out "immediately" and another 22% would have us out within six months. That's a majority.

Only 58% think our role/mission there is clear.

All of this is before the borderline civil war that appears to be starting there this week, mind you. How is that going to play in polls in America? So...we invaded a country, kicked down the doors and got rid of the stabilizing influence...and despite 3 years, we haven't been able to make anything work there and it has gone from bad to worse...to now borderline disastrous? Are we expected to take sides? Which side do we take? We can't cut and run, of course...even if we should...because that would more or less seal a coffin on the failure of the Bush Administration - he will go down in history as a failed president (mind you...I'm already sure that'll be what most historians think of him).

Yikes. Already, GOP moderates in both houses of Congress last week started bolting away from the president...distancing themselves. That's only likely to get worse. You don't embrace 34% - you run away from it...as fast as you can. Can you spell l-a-m-e d-u-c-k?

GOP representatives, senators, governors and state legislators all need to look at these numbers that are coming out today. They need to ask themselves whether they go down with the ship, perhaps sinking the party in general in the process, or

How low can he go?

Read the numbers and weep, Republicans.

  • Bush's Job Approval Rating: 34% (an 8 point drop from January...he's now below last October's numbers)
  • Approve of Bush's Handling of War on Terror: 43%
  • Percentage who think the national economy as a whole is "good": 50% (7 point drop from January)
  • Percent who approve of the controversial ports deal: 21% (news that the Coast Guard, contrary to what the administration has claimed, has serious problems with the deal is likely to make that number plummet even further)
  • Percentage who think things are going "badly" in Iraq: 62% (an 8 point drop in 1 month)
  • Percentage who say Bush doesn't care much/any about people like them: 51%
  • Approval Rating of Dick Cheney: 18% (18!! 18!!! He's dropped into the f*cking teens!)
  • Approval Rating of Congress: 39%
It's early. It's only March yet, but we'll see. Things have not started well this year for the administration. Right now, the Democrats believe as many as 100 seats could be in play in the House. They also appear to be holding their own in Senate seats and poised to pick up some governorships. If things continue like this, we could see a wholesale disaster for the Bush administration in November...the kind where even moderate Republicans become in danger because of a general unhappiness at what's happened the last few years in Washington.

Hopefully. It's way too early to make predictions. But things are looking good so-far.