Category Archives: Cleveland

Nats Fans: I Feel Your Pain

First and foremost, I will always be a Cleveland fan. Indians, Browns, Cavaliers, even the Lake Erie Monsters and the Cleveland Crunch. I’ll never cheer against my hometown. Many people never leave Cleveland.

I did.

My senior year in high school, I debated whether I would “adopt” any additional Saint Louis teams in my sports hierarchy. My mom’s family is from Missouri, after all. I chose to adopt the Cardinals as my second favorite MLB team. The Blues, since Cleveland had no NHL team, had always been my favorite. The Rams, much to the initial consternation of my girlfriend’s family, were not number 2 in my heart for the NFL.

When Cleveland was lacking a NFL Franchise, I cheered for the Washington Redskins because they won the Superbowl during my birth year, had a good tradition, good colors, and a politically incorrect mascot. The Rams had to settle for #3. (Playing in a dome doesn’t help in my book.)

At this point, I’ve been a fan of Saint Louis sports since the mid-1990’s, and a Cardinals fan for over a decade. I was even lucky enough to have a few of the Cardinals as my neighbors for two years. Similarly, I’ve been a fan of Washington sports since the late 1990’s, and a Nationals fan since 2005.

Nearing graduation, I knew I wanted to work in Washington, D.C., and I figured since I would work there, I would adopt the Nationals as my #3 team. In short, I have a hierarchy.

When the Cardinals come to D.C., I cheer for the Cardinals. When the Indians come to D.C., I cheer for the Indians. When the Indians came to Saint Louis, I cheered for the Indians. It’s like a logic question, and when it comes to other games, it becomes mathematically nightmarish to consider who I’d want to win based on this hierarchy. Normally, I just ignore that and cheer for the team I like less to lose.

Though, I’ve always managed to avoid my favored teams playing each other in the playoffs until now. And let me tell you, it’s not the best thing in the world to watch two teams you really like playing each other. But, you have to uphold your hierarchy.

Rewind, for a moment, to the beginning of the season. Our SLU Alumni rep was talking about the availability of tickets for our annual Cards-Nationals game party. I remarked “The Nats will be very good this year, we should buy a lot of tickets just in case.” I was right.

The Nationals will be very good next year, too. I look forward to supporting them.

I remember, as a seventh grader, watching the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the World Series. They took an early lead, and slowly it slipped away. Surely, it was not on par of tonight’s game — which was amazing to watch, just along with this series — but it was harder to accept since it was the last game of the season. And my team lost.

Losing sucks. If the Nationals had won, I’d have supported them for the rest of the post season, even though I’d be sad my preferred team lost. Losing the way the Nats did hurts. As a Cleveland native, I know — I’ve been there before.

This was an amazing series to watch. Absolutely amazing. The Nationals should be proud of what they accomplished this year. So should the Cardinals. Here’s to a great off season for the Nats, and a Happy Flight for the Cards.



Yeah, whoops, David Axelrod.


You Don’t Have A Right to a Job

And please, let’s keep it that way.

In P.J. O’Rourke’s book, Don’t Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards, he writes:

“When rights consist of special privileges and material benefits, rights kill freedom. Wrong rights are the source of political power.”

O’Rourke is right.

On Facebook recently, a friend of mine shared an image that depicts a proposed “Second Bill of Rights” that President Franklin Roosevelt outlined in his 1944 State of the Union speech.

Thankfully, much of this proposal died with him.

According to what would later become Newsweek, the footage was thought lost until liberal icon/September 11 truther Michael Moore found it.

Thank goodness Moore put aside conspiracy theories for a moment to share with us footage of more of FDR’s economic malarkey.

Newsweek, excuse me, The Daily Beast, quoted Pulitzer prize winning author and content borrower Doris Kearns Goodwin’s views on the “Second Bill of Rights”:

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, told The Daily Beast that Moore “is absolutely right” to focus on FDR’s second Bill of Rights. She said she has never seen a film clip of Roosevelt describing his proposal.

“It was a radical proposal, suggesting a positive role for government in protecting people against the vagaries of the market, and had he lived, it is fascinating to wonder how much of these ideas might have been translated into policy,” Goodwin said in an email.

Remember, aspiring writers, when caught using a person’s work without proper attribution, the question is not whether you should lose your job, rather, “the larger one.”

As Kearns Goodwin put it:

“The larger question for those of us who write history is to understand how citation mistakes can happen.”

But what do I know? I’m not pretentious enough to posit that I “write history.”

What is it that’s so bad about FDR’s proposed second bill of rights? Why is it so bad?

The first line in this proposed new bill of rights is that “every American has a right to __________.” The graphic proposes assigning these six news rights to every American.

The seventh — I am told from some very tenuous deep background sources — is that FDR also wanted to propose a right for Americans  never to be killed by your government abroad by a robot airplane without pesky warrants, arrests and trials. You know, the whole justice system thing.

But after detaining ethnic minorities — citizens no less — in “containment camps” FDR didn’t want to limit his successors. At least he was forward thinking.

The first new proposed right is a right to a job.  As it currently stands, many Americans aren’t in possession of this proposed right since lots of them are unemployed.

I’ll admit, America would be pretty swell if we all had jobs. And West Highland Terriers. But how would we go about implementing such a new right? Let’s flesh it out with a few ideas:

  1. The government employs everyone. (See: Communism.)
  2. The government employs everyone who cannot find a job in the private sector (See: Socialism and related variants.)
  3. The government forces employers to hire people (See notes in #2.)

As O’Rourke said, conferring new rights kills freedom. Either by telling people how to run their businesses, or by taking taxes from them to achieve those ends.

Same goes with the second guarantee — an adequate wage and a “decent” living, however defined. What’s decent living to New Yorkers might seem third worldly to people in the deep south these days. Four people to a closet in a hostel? Why not have a McMansion for the same price? No “big” 20 oz drinks? Come get a supersized 84 0z drink at Confederacy Mart.

A right to a decent home? How would the government implement this? Heavily subsidize housing to ensure more people get it? That worked out great in recent years! Everybody has decent housing…. Right? Or is that just me?

Well, maybe instead of using government (read: taxpayer and China’s) money to encourage people to buy homes, we try to artificially game the market and set prices on housing.

You know, rent control, like in New York.

In New York, rich people with second houses get rent controlled apartments. Kids lie to the government about their residency so when grandma dies they’ll get her posh apartment. (And they never break residency or voting laws, that’s for sure!)  Best of all, if you’re a former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, you get a couple rent controlled apartments. I think that is in New York’s state constitution somewhere.

Smart kids with a Master’s degree get to live with three other people in a closet for $750 a month per person. Rent control is awesome.

The government, if unshackled by those greedy free marketeers, could do so many great things to make housing affordable. If given more power, imagine how much more affordable housing could be in places like New York! Everyone could be just like Ted Mosby in How I Met Your Mother.

From what I can tell, impoverished people love government solutions that make housing affordable. Government does such a great job. (Unless, of course, you’re a greedy landlord.)

Which brings me to medical care. Every American has the right to medical care? Close the book on this one, guys. Even before Obamacare, this already was the law of the land.

Oh wait. You mean they had to pay for it? Like, by finding jobs? Choosing appropriate housing? Where is the fun in that?

We’re not done yet. There are two more, so stay with me.

Number five is the right to “Economic protection during sickness, accident, old age or unemployment.” Sounds a lot like Social Security Disability Insurance and Unemployment. Well, those have already been implemented to varying degrees.

The results?

Social Security Disability Insurance runs out of money in a mere six years. In 2018 the trust fund will be broke and recipients will have their benefits cut unless Congress pours more money in. Most state unemployment funds are broke, too, borrowing money from the feds.

Well, it’s not like a guarantee of such benefits (or perceived entitlement of them) makes the system susceptible to fraud. No way!

I don’t know about you, but I know at least five people who have, or are currently, committing some level of fraud. People feel entitled. To them it’s not fraud, rather, it’s just getting their money back.  (Which means I know at least five people who would make great citizens in Greece.)

The last is a right to a good education. I grew up in a town that spent ungodly amounts on education, and my parents (and those of my friends) spent more money to send us to what would appear to be an inferior Catholic school.

Yes, my grade school alma mater is a recipient of a Blue Ribbon School Award. How is it that my school, where we dissected chicken wings instead of dead pigs like the kids at public school (seriously!) produce better results (on average) than kids whose education cost multiples of mine?

I got a better education for a fraction of the price (not including taxes for those public schools that produced flunkie yuppies and drug addicts), and the really poor kids three miles east of me got a worse education for five times the cost.

How did that happen? Well, just trust government a little more and presto chango, outcomes will change. Oh, right, they need more of your money, too, so pay up.

You cannot guarantee a “good education”  It’s a pipe dream of false government promises.

It’s up to teachers, parents, students and the like to ensure people get a good education.

The late — not great — FDR’s proposed second bill of rights are nothing but feel good platitudes that don’t give serious thought to the issues and the unintended consequences. Which might explain why unions like them.

In America you have the right to pursue or obtain these things. But they shouldn’t just be given to you by other people. A decent education, for example, takes effort from you. So does finding a job, and using its wages to pay for housing and medical care.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had a job? Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had an adequate wage and decent living?  Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had a decent home and medical care,  economic protection during sickness, accident, old age or unemployment, and a good education? And a West Highland Terrier.

The Beach Boys were right — wouldn’t it be nice?

One thing FDR either didn’t consider is that you can’t realistically promise these things to people. And you shouldn’t. Or, a more sinister version is that he knew such promises were dumb but did it for political gain anyway.

Farewell, Omar Vizquel

Today, October 3rd, is the last game in the 24 year career of shortstop Omar Vizquel. In that career, Vizquel has won 11 Gold Gloves, nine of them won in a row. He has more hits than Babe Ruth, despite being known primarily as a defensive player.

And while he won two less Gold Gloves than Ozzie Smith of the Cardinals, has has 80 career home runs to Ozzie’s 28. He also has more RBIs. In fairness, he has 6 seasons more under his belt.

I know some people will disagree with me, but I think Omar Vizquel should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

How I feel about the “real refs” coming back

This is how I feel:

I’m from Cleveland, so I don’t like the real refs one bit. They suck.

Example 1:

Example 2:

If We Could Turn Back Time

Dear Editor,

In your September 26 paper, you published a letter to the editor from Marylin Egede.

She, as an unemployed former supervisor who conducted many in person interviews, is dismayed by technological improvements that improve efficiency, save time and save money. Namely, she expressed skepticism about internet job applications, and an automated phone interview that recorded answers to her questions as an interviewee.

Her conclusion was: “Let’s bring back humans, and then we could help lower the unemployment rate.”

We could lower the unemployment rate, too, if we “brought back humans” by banning things like EZ Pass, Caterpillar tractors, E-Readers, and the internet. But we wouldn’t be better off.

While I wish Ms. Egede luck in her job search, such proposals appeal to the Luddite mentality that plagues Ohio (and one of its two Senators) to its detriment.

French economist Frédéric Bastiat, through a bit of satire in the 1840s, identified a similar mentality. He satirized candlemakers, supposing they would appeal to the government to protect them from unfair competition — the sun.

Famed philosopher Cheryl Sarkisian once theorized what would be possible “If we could turn back time.” That doesn’t mean it’s prudent economic policy to do so.

Jim Swift
Alexandria, VA by way of Shaker Heights.

UPDATE: Parents inform the letter was published this morning (10/3). Click the image for the P-D’s website.

Letter to the Editor: Congress Right to Prevent Windfalls

To the Editor:

I strongly disagree with Elizabeth Helms regarding the Windfall Elimination Provision. For once, Congress enacted good policy and even named it appropriately.

In 1983, Congress passed H.R. 1900. This bill’s purpose was to shore up and reform Social Security in an effort to prolong its existence.  The Windfall Elimination Provision does what it says — prevents public employees from getting a windfall from social security that they should not get and did not earn.

Many government workers, I presume like Ms. Helms, did not pay into Social Security during her 17 years of public service. She instead received a pension from the state. Later, she paid into Social Security when she found another job. During my five years in public service, I paid into Social Security because of the same reforms.

Social Security is not a “we’re all in the same boat” game — with everyone receiving checks for the same amount. It is a system based on wage replacement through a formula called the Average Indexed Monthly Earnings or AIME.

Because the system — as reformed — lowers the AIME replacement percentage for workers who didn’t always pay into Social Security, this is somehow an injustice?

It was interesting Helms invoked the unions’ victory in repealing Gov. Kasich’s reforms — since she is calling on our state legislators (even though this is a federal law) to repeal a 29 year old reform. Nearly 3 decades later, some people can’t handle reform.

Even if Ms. Helms magically convinces Congress to grant her wish, it won’t matter much since Social Security’s trust fund runs out in 23 years.

Jim Swift

Alexandria, Virginia

Readers, you can learn more about the WEP here.


Can someone explain this to me?

I didn’t see the context, can somebody explain this to me?

h/t Frank Alvarez

Local Breweries Shouldn’t Buy into “Buy Local”


As much as it pains me to post this, I have to be frank you with: I am really annoyed by local brewers encouraging people to “buy locally.”

When it comes to beer, what does “buy local” mean?

For the record, I love microbreweries. I am a big fan of Great Lakes in Cleveland, Schlafly in St. Louis, and Port City and D.C. Brau in the D.C. metro area. However, I can buy all of those brews here in Washington, D.C. and in northern Virginia — less than a mile from my house.

When microbreweries become successful, does “buy local” mean anything anymore? In a slanted documentary, the founder of Dogfishead — a great brewery — really goes hard on the “buy local” concept and against mass brewers. That bothered me because I think it is disingenuous.

What spurred this post tonight was a facebook post from a brewery where a friend of mine is the brewer. He, like me, has libertarian leanings. I’m not sure about the owner.

As it turns out, a local business entity in their town — a non-profit local business development group — holds happy hours in this big metropolis. And an alternative weekly pointed out that the beers at said event aren’t from local breweries. Rather, they’re from a local distributor (gasp!) that isn’t offering locally brewed beers. THE HORROR!

Regular readers of this blog know I am skeptical of the “buy local” fad du jour. (Especially those dipshits in Maryland.) When people move, I argue, the cult of buying local presents a challenge.

If I, a Cleveland native, moved to Saint Louis — should I only drink St. Louis beer? If so, I’d have more choices than most people, seeing that there is a large multi-national brewer in town, not to mention the numerous local breweries. If not, I’m not “buying local” — especially if my hometown brewery starts selling beer there.

Should I buy Great Lakes or Schlafly? Which is more applicable to the “buy local” cult? I don’t know. Despite the fact that I think these people are loons, I have never had to solve that riddle because Great Lakes wasn’t available in St. Louis when I lived there and, more importantly, I don’t believe in “buy local.”

Fast forward to 2012 when I live in Washington, D.C. — a liquor store two blocks south of my office sells both Schlafly and Great Lakes. It also sells a few local brews. Except, for some reason, Great Lakes is $2 more expensive per 6-pack. What’s a guy to do?

Should I only buy beer brewed in Virginia and D.C. now that I live here? That is what advocates of “buy local” would tell me. But what about my brethren in my former home towns?

Anyways, so in this non-story the local alternative publishes, the comments are depressing:

Here’s one:

“I’m very confused about the ‘sponsoring’ that is going on here. If they are charging for the beer & they are a non-profit, why would they need sponsors with deep pockets. What else is going into these ‘events’ that they need money for?”

One commenter on the brewery’s facebook page (it shared the story) said this, and he got it:

“Just keep making good beer and we will keep drinking it. Their loss in my opinion.”

The first commenter is woefully ignorant of how non-profits operate. Non-profits aren’t structured in a way that they don’t generate revenue: that’s the whole point. Similarly, this person might be surprised to learn that local beer distributors of national brands employ locals.

The second comment that I posted was somewhat refreshing. In today’s politicized culture, people love saying they’ll boycott events or groups because of things they do/don’t do. Rational people will judge the event by its goals and decide to attend based on their incentives and desires.

I have no doubt that my friend’s brewery makes some of the best beer in his town. Why? I’ve tasted his beer and he is a genius. But, is not attending an event that is intended to promote local commerce — and has alcohol supplied by a local alcohol distributor — because they aren’t offering local beer hypocritical? I say yes.

Don’t like non-craft beers? Good for you. However, local distributors are local businesses and employ locals. Is that hard to understand?

People should buy beer they like because they like it and it’s offered at a price they are willing to pay. They shouldn’t buy into other arbitrary criteria like where it is brewed.

This is the main argument I have against “buying local” for locals’ sake. At the end of the day, people will have jobs delivering and selling the beer people prefer most. If it is locally brewed that’s swell. Buying locally for intrinsic reasons just doesn’t make economic sense.

And in today’s economy, it’s bound to leave a lot of people pretty darn conflicted. So I’ll use rational criteria like taste and price. 

For all of you Ignatius Alumni

If you want Fr. Streicher’s book to guide your writing.

Too Soon?

Tonight on twitter, I saw former MO Senator Jeff Smith comment that Josh Mandel of Ohio “is about as likely to be a Senator as Wendy Long [NY].”

Only when I expanded his quote did I see that he was answering a question with some snark, rather than pontificating independently.

Wendy Long is a candidate that has little/no chance of beating Kirsten Gillibrand. Josh Mandel, however, has a much better shot of unseating Sherrod Brown in Ohio. Smith’s comments are either uninformed or absurd.

A cursory review:

Wendy Long is down 37 points in a recent poll and has $96,411 in the bank. Kirsten Gillibrand has $10.5 million in the bank.

Josh Mandel is down 4 points in a July 18 Rasmussen poll. Huffington Post notes “Brown has raised $15.3 million to date, compared to Mandel’s $9.9 million. He also has about $6.5 million on hand, compared to Mandel’s $4.9 million.” Mandel recently claimed, and Politifact found “Mostly True,” that Sherrod Brown’s approval ratings have plummeted.

So, for Jeff Smith to say that Mandel is about as likely to be a Senator as Wendy Long is asinine. This from a guy who has a PhD in political science. My snarky reply is below. It’s snarky because Smith was sentenced to jail for a year and a day for obstruction of justice.

Too soon?

I’ll have you know that I was considering saying “You’d know about unrealistic bids first hand, you thought you could be a Congressman.” But that would give him too much credit. He was wrong about his chances and wrong about Mandel’s.

But what do I know? 

Update: John Celock notes in HuffPo that OHSEN has seen some of the highest independent expenditures of any Senate race, a sign that it is competitive.

Update #2: Jeff responds. I guess my comments hit too close to home. His switch to “wanna bet” is a nice way of avoiding the fact that the numbers don’t confirm his prediction that the likelihood of Mandel winning is “about as likely” as Wendy Long. Smoke and mirrors. Did Jeff study statistics?

My response:

Update #3: The snark-fest has subsided and Mr. Smith and I have agreed to a gentleman’s bet of a beer at Humphrey’s.