The "Nationals" It Is!
Mayor Anthony Williams just led a ceremony announcing that the Washington baseball team will be named the "Nationals." It had been understood that the new owners of the franchise would have discretion to choose the team name, but the fact that someone has invested a lot of design work into the new team logo suggests that MLB may be appeasing or giving political support to Mayor Williams, who has rejected reusing the "Senators" name because D.C. lacks any representation in Congress. Score one for Tony. Another possible name occurred to me recently, but I guess it's too late now: the Washington Warblers! Three other baseball teams already have bird names, including our friendly neighbors up in Baltimore. Another crucial landmark is that there is now an official MLB Washington Nationals Web site, which has replaced that of the defunct Montreal Expos.
Sadly, the auspicious occasion was marred when a protester took over the podium, held up a sign, and started yelling about the pending stadium financing deal. Opposition to public funding for sports stadiums is certainly a legitimate point of view, but expressing it in such a rude and obnoxious fashion detracts from the cause. (Where was good old dull-but-earnest Ralph Nader?) The culprit was identified as Adam Eidinger, who recently ran for D.C. "shadow representative" on the D.C. Statehood Party ticket, and indeed the photos on his Web site match the guy I saw on TV. It was a reminder of one reason why MLB has long been leery of Washington: It's a hotbed of disruptive fringe political activists, rather like Greenwich Village or Berkeley. Getting things done in Our Nation's Capital often means pandering to zealous fools.
More new winter birds
While hiking along the Chimney Hollow Trail west of Staunton on Sunday, I saw several Red-breasted nuthatches, for the first time in over three years. Photos of the hike (and a strange fruit called "Osage orange") are posted at the bottom of the now-complete Virginia Fall 2004 page. I also saw two Brown creepers for the first time this season; I happened to see one of those in the upper elevations around Ramsey's Draft last June, an apparent rare breeder in these latitudes. There were quite a few Golden-crowned kinglets, but they too stayed far above effective camera range. On the way home I stopped at Bell's Lane, and saw two Red-tailed hawks, two Northern harriers (one adult male, one immature), a Kestrel, and several Northern pintail ducks, Ruddy ducks, American coots, Bluebirds, plus one each of a White-crowned sparrow, a Field sparrow, and a Chipping sparrow. On Saturday I saw a Fox sparrow for the first time this season, behind the Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad.
More eggs; Singin' in the rain
Princess laid more three eggs last week, but one of them broke. Once again, she is brooding contentedly on her nest, chirping constantly whenever George is near. Here is a 20-second movie (Apple QuickTime format) of George, "Singin' in the rain," just last Friday; the constant chirping by Princess can also be heard. The first four seconds are focused on the background outside.
CIA upheaval update
Robert Novak wrote about Senator John McCain's role in the CIA controversy in the Chicago Sun Times last week:
McCain told Goss the CIA is "a dysfunctional organization. It has to be cleaned out." That is, the CIA does not perform its missions. McCain told Goss that as director, he must get rid of the old boys and bring in a new team at Langley. Moreover, McCain told me this week, "with CIA leaks intended to harm the re-election campaign of the president of the United States, it is not only dysfunctional but a rogue organization."
Senator McCain appeared on "Meet the Press" yesterday, giving strong support to new CIA Director Porter Goss. McCain's contention that there are "rogue elements" in the CIA is a very disturbing thought. It's quite ironic that the CIA careerist seem to be favoring the Democratic side. What's next: Will Michael Moore come out defending the CIA against Bush's attempted reforms? One of my professors at U.Va. once posed the problem in very stark terms: Can an agency with responsibility for extremely sensitive and secret matters of national security be considered truly accountable in a wide-open democracy such as ours? If not, are they above the law?
Ex-CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, the formerly anonymous author of Imperial Hubris, followed McCain on "Meet the Press," and frankly I was not very impressed. I've always been very attentive to serious arguments about U.S. foreign policy rooted in the idea that our ambitions must not exceed our resources, and I have therefore been planning on reading his book. To my surprise, however, his comments to Tim Russert were mostly formulaic criticisms of Bush, not particularly thougtful. It also struck me as a bit odd how many times he used the word sir, and from checking the transcript at MSNBC, I counted 21 times. He takes the grievances of Osama bin Laden at face value, apparently believing the threat will go away if we just pull our military forces and commercial interests out of the Middle East. He denies being an appeaser, however, and says he thinks operations like the one in Fallujah are necessary. Well! Perhaps the Sunday interview show format is not well suited for expositing his thesis.