Baseball frenzy in Washington
In the first two days since sales began, over 10,000 people have put down a $300 deposit to get season tickets for baseball games in D.C. next year. Prices at RFK Stadium will range from $7 for the outfield upper deck to $90 for elite box seats between the dugouts, with eleven (!) different price brackets. By comparison, in the stadium's inaugrual year, 1962, there were only five price brackets, ranging from 75 cents to $3.50. Single-game ticket prices will be higher yet, but it is not yet known whether multi-game ticket packages will be sold. Another good sign for D.C. is that the "Ex-Expos" just obtained outfielder Jose Guillen from the Anaheim Angels in exchange for outfielder Juan Rivera and shortstop Maicer Izturis. Meanwhile, the D.C. city council has agreed to vote on funding for the new stadium on November 30, and it appears likely that there will be a compromise provision allowing for some private funding. MLB franchise owners postponed their vote to approve the relocation of the Expos to D.C., but Bud Selig denied it had anything to do with the delays in getting the stadium funding approved. According to the Washington Post, the main hitch is good ol' Peter Angelos, who is still haggling over revenue-sharing terms.
It is interesting to contrast the D.C. situation with that in South Florida. The Miami Herald reports that the Florida Marlins have offered to contribute $35 million more to build a new stadium in Miami, estimated to cost $420 million, for a $192 million total commitment. City officials have insisted that the Marlins say how much they would pay for any cost overruns.
Diplomacy: fantasy and reality
The Washington Post Magazine had an article on the classic board game Diplomacy, its zealous devotees, and its designer Allan Calhamer. (He eventually sold out to Avalon Hill, which now publishes it.) I learned from the article that Gideon Rose, managing editor at Foreign Affairs, is among those who have played it. The game is premised on a brutally Hobbesian view of the world, where lying and back-stabbing your allies are the keys to success. It's always been a favorite holiday pastime in the Clem household!
Speaking of diplomacy, here are some strong suggestions addressed "To the Next Secretary of State" at The Diplomad, a new blog by (mostly Republican) career U.S. Foreign Service officers. (via Daniel Drezner):
The single greatest step you could take to ensuring that merit is the basis for advancement is to do away with the Department's Affirmative Action program, i.e., quota system. It is a total fraud. It is just another white upper- and middle-class entitlement. The overwhelming beneficiaries of the program are white women from elite schools. ...
Put an end to the little ... empires established by bureaucrats who "homestead" themselves in the HR system. ...
Drastically reduce the layers of bureaucracy. ...
Finally, ignore the New York Times and CNN.
Bloody mess in Fallujah
The apparent killing of a wounded Iraqi fighter by U.S. Marines was shocking and appalling, and some worry that it indicates a breakdown in discipline. Like most things in wartime, all this must be seen in proper context. Other U.S. soldiers have been killed by bombs strapped to dead and dying Iraqi combatants. As Clauswitz wrote, war leads to a limitless escalation toward ever-more awful forms of violence, which in our day means that forces fighting terrorist movements are under growing temptation to respond in kind for the lawless brutalities inflicted upon them. For an on-the-scene perspective, see "A Marine Writes Home" at powerlineblog. Lest anyone forget, any pretense about "winning hearts and minds" in the Sunni Fascist heartland is in vain. The die-hard Baathists there will hate us for stripping away the privilege they once enjoyed, no matter what. For the near term, the best we can hope for in that part of Iraq is that there be a respectable turnout in the upcoming elections. No easy task.