August 3, 2008 - July 27, 2008
. It's hard to imagine the universe in which Nancy
Pelosi and Harry Reid live. It's like some bizarro-world they've made
up for themselves, in which the sceptre of political office really can
alter facts and even the laws of physics. Whatever they choose to
affirm is automatically true, and whatever legislative response they
fashion is bound to produce the result they desire. If only the
annoying real world the rest of us live in didn't keep getting in the
Harry Reid declared the Iraq War lost when the surge was barely a few weeks old. To him, therefore, it is still lost, regardless of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. He is willing himself and, he thinks, the rest of us to dwell permanently in the year 2006. And Nancy Pelosi agrees with him.
Nancy Pelosi believes so devoutly in open borders and sanctuary cities that defy the authority of federal laws she has sworn an oath to uphold that she continues to defend a San Francisco policy even that city's mayor is backing away from -- a policy that has recently resulted in savage, random murders by an illegal alien gang member who should have been imprisoned and/or deported long ago.
They both subscribe to a rapidly unraveling theory of man-made climate change whose consequences would, at worst, occur only gradually over many many years, and in order to achieve an imperceptible diminishment of those consequences are prepared to put the national and global economies at serious risk in the here and now. These champions of the poor and dispossessed have already -- quite literally -- taken food out of the mouths of starving people around the world by legislating the redirection of American corn crops from cheap food to expensive alternative fuel.
For much the same reason, they are indifferent to the plight of American citizens who are struggling with the near doubling of gasoline prices within the past year. Their initial legislative impulse was to raise gas taxes because the consumer conservation they claim is integral to their own energy solution is marginally reducing gas tax revenues. And they insist that the immediate solution which is dead obvious to 70 percent of Americans -- drilling for more oil and gas in the United States -- is absolutely unacceptable because it won't produce results for ten years (they say) while the solution they offer instead -- windmills and solar panels -- won't be able to replace fossil fuels in thirty or even forty years. How is such bizarro logic justified? Nancy Pelosi says she's trying to "save the planet."
But it's worse than that, really. It's not just about misplaced priorities. It's also about a truly insane faith in government power. I think they believe, both of them, that government can mandate not only change but success. If the U.S. Congress decrees that Al Gore's idiotic carbon abolition schemes be met, they will be. If Congress commands automobiles that get 150 miles to the gallon or cars that run on discarded styrofoam peanuts, they will magically appear. If Congress decrees that an advanced industrialized nation can be run by windmills that consume all the arable lands of the plains states, that is exactly what will happen. And, I suppose, if Congress passes a law forbidding anyone to die of starvation in Haiti, Africa, or the world's other impoverished nations on account of dumbass alternative energy schemes in the U.S., they will obediently refrain from starving. Halleluiah.
One could call this kind of delusional mentality a great mystery. But it is (barely) explicable from the perspective of Capitol Hill. The most powerful members of Congress live lives almost completely devoid of consequences. Almost all the real world problems and nuisances that afflict ordinary citizens are mere expense account items to them. And unlike some of the lower ranking legislators they have to bully into compliance with their whims, they are essentially immune from being thrown out of office. Their pockets are too deep and their connections too vast for ordinary mortals to run successfully against them. And so, they can drink deeply of their power, become intoxicated by it, and begin to see even the worst human calamities caused by their delusions as unfortunate statistics in some subordinate's briefing paper, no more costly than the effort required to spin them away. They know their power, and it comes to replace every other consideration.
So maybe the Gothic congressional leadership of Pelosi and Reid isn't
such a great mystery. Not nearly as great, anyway, as the mystery of
why so many middle-class Americans continue to believe that the
Democrat Party is the one that's on their
side. At any given time, a majority of Americans are proud to claim an
affiliation with the party that roots and actively works for the defeat
of American troops in the field, that continuously sides with criminal
illegal aliens against native-born citizens and legal immigrants who
wait patiently in line for citizenship, that is perfectly willing to
trade away all our hard-won present prosperity for phantom placebos in
a distant, hypothetical future, and that bitterly despises almost all
the basic human values and traditions of the very people who keep
putting them in office.
Now that's a true Gothic tale. Who would ever believe it?
. I think you'd have to say that Philadelphians have mixed
feelings about this weekend's event called "The Arena Bowl" and the championship
it brought to a title-starved city.
Those feelings are probably best summed up by Ray Didinger's comments on WIP SportsTalk Radio the Friday before the game. Ray is the acknowledged Main Man of Philadelphia sportswriters. His knowledge of most sports is encyclopedic, and he is a continuously respectful, humble, and yet authoritative commentator on the city's teams. With the Phillies crumbling in the wake of the All-Star break and the Eagles wallowing in the aftermath of having failed to draft a first-round college prospect two years running, his WIP co-host asked Ray point-blank what the city's sports fans had to feel good about.
Ray said, "The Philadelphia Soul. They're playing Sunday for the league championship. That's something to feel good about."
Then the co-host, Glen Macnow, asked Ray, "So you'll be watching the game Sunday?"
And Ray replied, "Probably not."
Arena football just isn't a Philly kind of sport. For one thing, it's not exactly football. Well, to be more precise, it's almost nothing like football. Except for the ball (which is beige btw), and the helmets and pads, and the four downs of play, and the zebra stripes of the referees, and the endless delays caused by review of challenged calls, it's more like the much despised (in Philly) overtime shootouts in hockey.
Here's how it works. Team A receives the kickoff, heroically fields it off the net, and brilliantly returns it to the two or three yard line. Then Team A takes two, sometimes four, plays to throw a touchdown pass, which is always incredibly exciting because the field is almost twenty yards long. The extra point try is even more exciting because the goal posts are three feet apart.
Team B receives the kickoff, heroically fields it off the net, and brilliantly returns it to the two or three yard line. Then Team B takes two, sometimes four, plays to throw a touchdown pass, After the extra point, the whole drill is repeated. And repeated. And repeated.
Mostly it's that simple, except that it does get confusing whenever a player runs into what, in hockey, would be called the boards, which are thickly padded with rules too complicated to understand about when a player is actuallly out of bounds and when he is merely, uh, bouncing. Even the players don't understand these rules. In the championship game, the Soul allowed the San Jacinto Crab-Lice to score an almost unheard of rushing touchdown because they didn't remember that sometimes you still have to tackle, or at least touch, a ball carrier who caroms off what would be, in football, an out-of-bounds marker.
Not that it really matters. It's pretty much a given that whoever has the ball is going to score a touchdown. The announcers in the NFL get pretty excited about touchdowns. "TOUCHDOWN," they yell. In the arena league, the announcers have to conserve their voices. "That's another touchdown," they concede.
Defense consists of preventing the other team from scoring a touchdown. Since this almost never happens, it's what's considered a big play in arena football. And there's no punting. Not on a twenty yard field. If you're some impossible distance away from the goal line -- say 18 yards -- you bring in your field goal kicker and get three points instead. Which is still enough to lose the game.
Or it would be if all the rules didn't change as soon as you get to the one-minute warning. That's when all hell breaks loose. AFTER the one-minute warning, the team that's ahead is required to stop passing and call only running plays. Since there are no running backs in arena football (the 8-man offensive team consists of a quarterback, two blockers, and 14 wide receivers), this doesn't work. The clock stops every time the team in the lead calls a running play. Since there's no punter, the team that's behind gets the ball back almost immediately and scores a touchdown -- AND a two-point conversion since there are no defensive backs, safeties, or linebackers (the 8-man defensive team consists of six non-pass-rushers and two guys who gesture unhappily after the touchdown pass.)
For some reason, there are also a lot of onside kicks inside the one-minute warning, which are invariably successful, because the ball only has to go six inches before the kicking team can fall on it.
It's possible that I didn't entirely understand the rules of the game I was watching because I'd never seen an arena football game before. All I know is that Philadelphia was 185 points ahead going into the final minute, and they won by 3.1416 points in a real squeaker.
I guess my hockey shootout analogy above wasn't exactly right. It's actually more like roller derby.
Which is what leads to the mixed feelings. All of us who live in the Philadelphia area have a genuine regard for Ron Jaworski, largely because we know the fans (uh, that would be US) treated him like dirt throughout the 17 years he started for the Eagles. We called him the Polish Rifle, which wasn't a compliment. Sure he could throw the ball 130 yards, but he was dumb as a, well, Polish person. It's not exactly guilt because that's an emotion we don't recognize or accept -- we go to games half naked and painted green here, so give us a break on the deep emotional stuff, okay? -- but we've all had to swallow the fact that he's the smartest football guy on ESPN's smartest, most educational football show (NFL Matchups), and he's also such a big-hearted guy that he loves Philadelphia in spite of having had more cans and bottles thrown at him from the stands than any other athlete in Philadelphia sports history.
We want him to be happy. And now that he's happy about his Arena Bowl championship, we're incredibly happy for him.
We're also grateful to Jon Bon Jovi, whose funding and dedication to the Soul is a more generous service to this sports-obsessed city than Bruce Springsteen ever made.
Which is why, right now, people all over the Delaware Valley are drawing straws about who has to man up and go to the parade that's planned Thursday to honor the Soul.
If you've drawn one of the short straws won one of the tickets, you're in for a real treat, the Parade Committee informs me. According to their press kit, there will be a marching band (pictured below):
Best of all, the Philadelphia Soul team float is all ready to go.
Excuse me... I'm just getting word from my Soul cell... DAMN.
Great news! I'm going to the parade. I'll see you there! Some of you, anyway.