October 6, 2010 - September 29, 2010
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Finally. Pure political science.
XOFF NEWS SCOOP. There's been a lot of back and forth in the
political coverage of late. The Democrats are pretty convinced they're
making a comeback. Which might be discouraging to those who think the
Obama administration needs to be stopped in its tracks right now.
That's why the results of the latest and most comprehensive poll yet
taken might be important to likely voters.
The Dick Morris-Sean Hannity poll is the only one that has called all
50 states to inquire specifically about how people intend
to vote in both House and Senate elections. The results are
eye-opening. More than several
hundreds of people were contacted, and for
once the polling approach did not assume that 60 percent of them were
Democrats and and 30 percent of them Republicans. This time, the
respondents were allowed to self-identify and the resulting demographic
breakdowns represent a breathtakingingly breakthrough revelation of
poll-type categorical voter categories. The Morris-Hannity approach
disdained the narrow party
affiliation IDs which skew most of the MSM-reported polls and cause
"adjusted" results that somehow always favor the left.
For example, in the M-H poll just completed, here are the
self-identifications used in the (let's face it, always necessary)
voter breakdowns: Republicans 34%, Democrats 35%, Independents 62%, Tea
Partiers 31%, Conservatives 38%, Mama Grizzlies 29%, Angry Racist White
Men 18%, Liberals 22%, Socialists 12%, Outright Communists 9%, Bitter
Castrating Feminists 6%, Crazed Apocalyptic Christians 26%, Atheists
12%, Nihilistic Greens 8%, Jews 2%, and Muslims 0.06%. In what other
poll do you get subtabs (I don't know what they are, either) like that?
When all adjustments have been factored in and appropriately weighted
(Morris swears he didn't have a thumb on the scale and Hannity would
have sworn too, only he doesn't swear. He's a good boy...),
the projected results of the mid-term elections are not good news for
If the election were held today -- and, of course, much can change
before Tuesday, November Nth -- the outcome would be as follows:
In the House, Republicans would win 925
In the Senate, Republicans would win 214 seats.
Promising? Yes. Determinative? Yes. BUT. This is no reason to become
overconfident. We all have to keep working. And be sure to vote as many
times as possible on the critical Tuesday, whenever exactly it is.
Keep the faith and don't get complacent. Okay? Sean and Dick asked me
to communicate that to you.
(But hey? Do we have it in the bag or what?)
Wink wink. Repeal is just a few weeks away.
For sure, we'll finally have peace in our time. Can't wait.
Monday, October 04, 2010
Monday Morning Quarterback:
Setting the Record
Peyton Manning grinning about 2-2? You know. Since we're talking about super
elite QBs and all?
I was going to give this a pass. I really was. But I
revisited my post about Eagles fans and the tea partiers, and I
realized I couldn't. There's an old bit of advice for writers: If you
would be universal, first be local. Which is another way of saying that
whole is always somehow embedded in scenes of lesser scales, which
suggests that the universe is a kind of hologram. The whole is always
included in every fragment.
But enough of the pretentious introductions. What happened yesterday in
the sports mass media and at and around the Eagles-Redskins game is
worth documenting. I admit I watched it all, because early in the day a
sportscaster said, "Today is Christmas Day for the sports media." Wow.
referring, of course, to the return of Donovan McNabb to
Philadelphia. Why? The answers, and there are a few, illustrate much
about the difference between media narratives and the reality as it is
lived by those who are most intimately involved. There are social and
political factors at work, as well as behind-the-scenes agendas, and
the result is an attempt to preempt and alter afterwards the facts of
the matter as they occur. I'll explain in three parts, which you can
think of as three acts that tell the real story and expose the
I. The Buildup.
Both the NFL Network and ESPN lavished huge chunks of airtime on the
Eagles-Redskins game. They had two competing storylines: the Second
Coming of Michael Vick and the First Return of Donovan McNabb. These
were obviously entangled. Donovan McNabb had a lot to do (reputedly)
with the signing by the Eagles of Michael Vick, the quarterback who
would be starting against McNabb in this "Christmas Day" game.
The NFL Network
Their coverage tilted more toward the Michael Vick side of the story
because they had scored an interview of Vick by his former Falcons
coach Jim Mora, the man whom he had arguably let down and betrayed the
most. Perhaps, too, the NFL Net producers and hosts were less impressed
by the fact that an NFL team had traded away a longtime franchise star.
(Awww) Truth is, it happens all the time. That's the reality of the NFL
business. The San Francisco Forty-Niners traded away a far greater star
than McNabb ever was when they dealt Joe Montana to the Kansas City
Chiefs. This stuff happens. It's a business. There comes a time to turn
the page, manage salary caps, rebuild, etc. Which is why NFLN also had
a friendly interview of Eagles coach Andy Reid by his friend and former
colleague Steve Mariucci.
The Vick interview was unexpectedly intense and illuminating. Vick
far more compelling than he was in his initial public apology. He
didn't address the animal cruelty issue, which I suppose no one could.
It's the black spot at the center of his fall (and his soul) that is
beyond words of
any kind, because the animals have no words to respond. But he looked
Mora in the eye and confessed that he had lied to his coach and the man
"who always had his back" because his "whole life was a lie." He
admitted that he had never worked especially hard at game preparation,
that DVDs of game films had piled up in his car, and when Mora said,
"If there had been a million dollar check in one of those DVDs..." Vick
said, "I'd never have known it." When Mora asked if there was something
he should have seen, could have done to prevent the disaster which
occurred, Vick replied without hesitation: "There's nothing you could
have done. Nothing anybody could have done." He said his mother had
tried to warn him but it "went in one ear and out the other." He said,
"I was Mike Vick. I thought, what's the worst that could happen to
me?" Then he declared that the only
thing which could have stopped him and forced him to reevaluate his own
behavior was "going to Leavenworth." He referred to the "man upstairs"
as letting him know "This has to stop before it goes any farther. I'm
going to take this all away from you for awhile so you can think about
your life." He looked Mora in the eye and never wiped away fake
tears. He also talked about what he had learned from McNabb about being
an NFL quarterback: arriving at 6:45 in the morning, working out,
watching film, and learning about the game they were both privileged to
Afterwards came a panel discussion in which two of the three former
players NFLN features, plus former coach Mariucci, expressed shock
at Vick's revelations. As if they'd never experienced or witnessed
anything similar in their own careers. (Right.) Only Michael Ervin said
exactly what Vick was talking about and had overcome something similar
The Andy Reid interview similarly focused on Vick. As Eagles fans have
long suspected, Reid wasn't
thinking about the Eagles when he sought to sign VIck. He was thinking
about his own sons, both of whom had
served their own terms in prison. He explained that he had observed
successive phases of response: it's somebody else's fault; it's my
fault; hey, I'm going to get out; and then I'm out and I'm scared to
death of the wide world I've been released into. Reid contacted Vick in
the final phase and decided to help. On the McNabb issue, the interview
was perfunctory. All three Eagles quarterbacks were in the last year of
their contracts. So he entertained calls about all of them. The
Redskins wanted McNabb. He made the deal. Back to business.
Then the NFL Network addressed the issue of McNabb's return to
Philadelphia. The panel discussion, marinated for hours in the Vick
the Eagles' role in it, now took up the question of whether the Eagles
fans would boo their returning ex-quarterback. They didn't exactly
predict boos would happen, but they were all delivering sermons
about why they shouldn't happen. As before, Michael Ervin was the
most outspoken. He said Philadelphians should tear down the statue of
and erect one in its place of Donovan McNabb. Sheesh.
ESPN (aka "Going Over the Top")
Here, loving Vick took a back seat to loving McNabb. And hating
Philadelphia. In what I took to be an unprecedented step, ESPN touted
and showed footage of a pre-production meeting in which Chris Berman,
Mike Ditka, etc unloaded on their expectations of Philadelphia boobirds
disgracing the memory of their -- supposedly our-- great quarterback.
(Gosh, you'd think he'd been criticized once by some political
conservative, they were so petulant.) This was accompanied
by a review of McNabb's Philadelphia career, beginning with the booing
of his selection by the Eagles in the draft by a handful of painted
Eagles fans in the audience and then skipping on through all the
highlights of his career and QB statistics. Five NFC conference
championship games, for example, along with a listing of the handful of
NFL QBs who could boast the same, with nary a mention of his 1-4
win/loss record in such contests or the win/loss records of his fellow
titans. (uh, better.)
Then we saw the official on-air treatment of the Donovan return. Which
consisted exclusively of scolding/lecturing Eagles fans and the whole
Philadelphia in advance for
the disgraceful booing everyone knew
would occur. Because, as Ditka
said, "We all know about Philadelphia."
MISSING: Among many other
things, the completely mediocre performance thus far of Donovan McNabb
as a Redskin; the total failure to mention that any other NFL team
deals away stars in the twilight of their careers; citing the
survey naming McNabb as the greatest ever Eagles quarterback without
mentioning that it was a Philadelphia
fan poll which named him thus; and the failure of any ESPN
personality to stand up for their own most knowledgeable football
analyst, Ron Jaworski, who was cited as a beloved figure in
Philadelphia despite career statistics inferior as an Eagles QB to
Donovan McNabb. (For the record, Jaworki was more lustily booed than
McNabb ever was as an active player. But Philadelphia always welcomes its sports stars
back with open arms when their careers are done, boos or no, as many
many former players will
attest. They come back to Philadelphia to live. And they never pay for
a meal or a drink again in their lives.)
Bonus Snippet: Fox Sports.
Didn't see Fox News Sunday
until the very end. But the final handoff
was to Joe Buck and Troy Aikman preparing for their game broadcast.
Troy Aikman, not jocularly, asked: "Who isn't booed in Philadelphia. I'm
still booed here every time I broadcast a game." Poor Troy.
II. The Game.
Narrative overturned. Philadelphia Eagles fans gave Donovan McNabb a
gracious standing ovation
when he was announced. Then, when he took the field as the Redskins
quarterback, he was booed. Perfectly appropriate. Although this has
been reported by ESPN, etc, I haven't seen anything like an apology
to Philadelphia. Hours of vilification are supposed to be undone by a
terse trailer acknowledgment? What I did
see on NBC Sunday Night Football was
another replay of the booing of the drafting of McNabb followed by
footage of the ovation, with the caption "What 11 years of all-pro
performance will effect." Shabby. The draft booing was never a
denunciation of McNabb. It was disappointment that the Eagles hadn't
drafted the most promising running back in several years at a time when
they didn't have a running game. In all the years since, they've never
featured a running game. A lack Eagles fans have been right about for
the past dozen years.
The game. Michael Vick got injured. His play was the most electrifying
of any quarterback in the game in the limited time he was on the field.
Of the three quarterbacks who played, the one with the worst
quarterback rating was Donovan McNabb: 60.5. Sorry, but that's Rex
Bald truth. It wasn't Donovan McNabb who beat the Eagles. It was the
running game, the Eagles coaching staff, and the Eagles coaching staff.
In fact, McNabb did everything he (historically) does to keep the other
team in the game. He played for one of four quarters (one below par),
he completed less than half his passes, he went 2 for 11 in the second
half for a total of ten yards, he stopped the clock late in the game by
out of bounds showboating his own first down, thus benefitting his
opponent for, uh, no discernible reason, and he failed in the final two
minutes to run out the clock
by getting a final, fatal first down. Everything Eagles fans are used
to. Result? The Eagles came heartbreakingly close to winning the game
on the final Hail-Mary pass of Kevin Kolb. The Eagles' most sure-handed
receiver had his hands on the winning touchdown pass as time ran out.
If he'd hung on, the whole narrative would have been different.
III. The Aftermath
An ESPN reporter opined that maybe Eagles fans are now wishing they
hadn't traded McNabb away. No.
Curt Menefee at Fox Sports awarded the
"game ball" to Donovan McNabb. Outrageous. In the locker room after the
game McNabb could have thanked his own teammates for winning a game
that meant so much to him personally. Did he? Absolutely not. He chose
to grandstand instead: "Everyone's entitled to a mistake," he said. "They made the mistake of trading me
last year." Who's "they"? The head coach who gave him a huge bear hug
after the game? The fans who gave him a generous standing ovation
before the game? Perhaps the only honest statement came from Troy
Aikman, who said, "If there's one word that describes the relationship
between Eagles fans and Donovans McNabb, it is 'complicated.'"
The media narrative has to compete with reality. The narrative has it that
Donovan McNabb scored a signal, vindicating victory against his old
team and all its "angry old white man fans" last night.
The reality? Donovan McNabb is a spent quarterback and the Eagles were
right to get rid of him. His only two long completions came against
Eagles coverage, and he also had two long passes that made no sense
whatever -- one to nowhere and one to the Eagles secondary, intercepted
as it should have been.
I kept asking Mrs. CP why ESPN refuses to report on McNabb's so far
dismal performance with the Redskins. She had an answer. Everyone
expects McNabb to join ESPN after he retires. So, don't knock his play.
I had another. I've never
heard a word of criticism about McNabb after the Limbaugh kerfuffle,
which has been continuously overblown by everyone, including the
Philadelphia sports media, ever since it occurred. I think we're both
But here's the truth about McNabb. All of which was exemplified by what
we saw from him last night. Read it and judge how generous or not the
Philadelphia fan reaction was last night. Think 'complicated.'
McNabb is happily married, has children, and has never had a hint of
scandal about his personal behavior. He is admired for that.
McNabb is a hard-working, dedicated player, who has played with pain,
won some spectacular victories, and put the Eagles into more
situations than any other Eagles quarterback. He is adored for that.
McNabb has more pure talent than any Eagles quarterback has ever had,
with the possible exception of Randall Cunningham (also beloved), and
he has been the hope of the city for that.
McNabb never plays all four quarters of a game. He's generally
brilliant for one or two, sometimes three, but never all four. Last
night was a predictable reminder.
McNabb has never bonded with the Philadelphia fans. It's a subtle
thing. Something about entitlement versus the blue-collar environment
of Philly. He "takes full responsibility" for a loss, then in the
second half of the same sentence blames "young players" or unfair
expectations or the way things go or something, anything other than his own
performance. The final
straw was his summation of last year's two humiliating annihilations by
the Dallas Cowboys, when he said, "I'm sorry we can't win 16 games
McNabb, in the final analysis, is more about statistics than
performance. The best NFL Network contributor, Jamie Dukes, famously
says, "Forget statistics." Yeah, McNabb has the lowest percentage of
interceptions of any great NFL QB in history. But he had three in the
one Super Bowl he played in. That's what Jamie Dukes means. Why Eagles
fans regard McNabb with profound, heartstruck disappointment. He has
never, despite all his thousands of yards of passing, shown any ability
whatever to execute the two-minute drill or even hold the ball long
enough to run out the clock in a close game. A statistic I don't think
anyone tracks: losses late in games due to incredibly long field goals.
I'm pretty sure every Eagles fan will attest that in the McNabb era, it
has never mattered how long the field goal try was that was made
possible by McNabb's three-and-out late in a game that should have been
won: the opposing team always made it.
My anecdotal proof is that I stopped watching long ago. When the other team got
into something like field goal range after McNabb and Reid bungled
another attempt to run out the clock, I just changed the channel and
waited for the final score to crop up in the corner of the other game.
Here's the deal (and I ask if it constitutes greatness...): McNabb
either builds up a big enough lead with early pyrotechnics to survive
comebacks, or he loses. From first to last, the two-minute game has
always been a complete mystery to him. Something Eagles fans are
absolutely sick to death of. Sick. To. Death. Of.
And here's the truth about Philadelphia. Never reported by all the
Philadelphia haters at ESPN etc. The real reason for the trading of
Donovan McNabb was the Philadelphia Phillies and the Philadelphia
Flyers. For a decade, Eagles fans have been urged to stay the course
and accept the comparative success and ultimate failure of the Eagles
because they were the best game in town. Almost always in the playoffs,
and what else can you expect?
Well, in the past few years, Philadelphians have learned to expect
better. The long-suffering Phillies became World Champions of baseball
with about a tenth the angst and soap opera and alibis represented by
the Eagles. The Phillies went out and won the World Series without us
having to hear any stories about superstars with hurt feelings or
protectively pissed off mommies. Then they lost a World Series without
making any excuses, blaming each other or anybody else, or Philadelphia
fans for their mean remarks, and came back to win a fourth straight
division title without -- in all that time -- a single, back-stabbing
leak to the press about which multi-millionaire said what nasty thing
to which other pampered multi-millionaire. They're, uh, a kind of a
The Flyers. Had an indifferent regular season last year. Then they
performed a miracle against the Boston Bruins, coming back from 0-3 to
win a seven game series and made it into the Stanley Cup Finals against
all odds. They lost in the finals. But they lost somehow better than the Eagles ever
lose. Because they never ever quit, and they never looked for a moment
like they weren't giving their best. They won our hearts because they were playing like hell the whole time.
What Philadelphia expects and deserves. After all, who pays for all
these stadiums, parks, and arenas? Philadelphians.
The final point. The one that ties it all back to the tea parties.
These teams work for us. We pay their salaries and we fund their
facilities, even those of us who can't afford to attend their games. We
have a right to boo when they don't try hard enough, when they throw
tantrums or hissy fits, and when they think we should simply worship
I grant that we've accepted a new age of bread and circuses. We pay for
coliseums and entertainments most of us can't afford to see in person.
only possible American saving grace is that we get to have our say. And
when the nation's media demand that we uncritically admire something
less than success just because they have personal and ideological ties
to the people who are supposed to be admired, fuck them.
Bottom line. Donovan McNabb made 100 million dollars in Philadelphia.
He didn't meet expectations. On the whole, he was treated very kindly
by the people who have funded his fortune. But he didn't do the one thing
that was expected of him. And he never will. For anyone else either. He
should be grateful looking back because there's nothing ahead of him
that will ever compare.
And here's another dead cert: ESPN and other MSM sports media
to slam Philadelphia again at the first opportunity. As if the moment
of grace they've momentarily acknowledged never occurred. If a Philly
fan boos someone in the baseball playoffs, ESPN will trot out the footage of the
snowballing of Santa Claus, as sure as my name is CountryPunk. Because
anything the elite media truly hate and despise, it's average Americans.
Especially if they come from Philadelphia and environs. Yes. They're that lazy, stupid, biased, and
Hail Philadelphia. And the tea parties. Same damn thing. I am with
gonna be so great when we're all dead.
and fellow guest-poster Eduardo have written
about it at length: There's a segment of the population which hates
human beings and desperately wishes we could all just die and go away,
leaving Earth the perfect paradise it would be without anyone to
Some of these groups have millions of dollars to spend on delivering
their message, and they frequently go for shock value when creating
First there was the unnecessary and sickening 9/11 ad from the WWF:
Next came the straightforward threat from some tough guy with
"If you're one of those who have spent
their lives undermining progressive climate legislation, bankrolling
junk science, fueling spurious debates around false solutions, and
cattle-prodding democratically-elected governments into submission,
then hear this:
We know who you are. We know where you
live. We know where you work.
And we be many, but you be few."
Last week, though, the bar was lowered even further -- below the
gutter, below the sewer, down somewhere near the center of the Earth.
All in the name of humor. Naturally.
You must watch it for yourself and you must watch it all the way
Within 48 hours, the official video was yanked with this posted in
Today we put up a mini-movie about 10:10 and climate change called 'No
With climate change becoming increasingly
threatening, and decreasingly talked about in the media, we wanted to
find a way to bring this critical issue back into the headlines whilst
making people laugh. We were therefore delighted when Britain's leading
comedy writer, Richard Curtis - writer of Blackadder, Four Weddings,
Notting Hill and many others â€“ agreed to write a short film for
the 10:10 campaign. Many people found the resulting film extremely
funny, but unfortunately some didn't and we sincerely apologise to
anybody we have offended.
As a result of these concerns we've taken
it off our website. We won't be making any attempt to censor or remove
other versions currently in circulation on the internet.
We'd like to thank the 50+ film
professionals and 40+ actors and extras and who gave their time and
equipment to the film for free. We greatly value your contributions and
the tremendous enthusiasm and professionalism you brought to the
At 10:10 we're all about trying new and
creative ways of getting people to take action on climate change.
Unfortunately in this instance we missed the mark. Oh well, we live and
Uh huh, got it. Oh well.
So how did this lil' film come into existence? Big budget, big
director, big actors and sports stars, big effects, and big name on the
soundtrack -- how did such a group of people get pulled into such an
The answer is not good. We're seeing just the tip of a massive
(though possibly melting) glacier of star power, money, and conviction
from some seriously disturbed people with a cause. The good
news is that in an effort to outdo each other in showing just how much
they hate the human race and all that it has wrought on this planet,
they make blunders like these. They show normal people just how crazy
they actually are, and in so doing, interrupt the progress they've been
fanatics, and this is their fantasy.
Since the release and subsequent pulling, even some of the most
virulently outspoken AGW bloggers in the climate web are speaking out
against it. But the damage is done, and this video has only begun to do
its service in opening people's eyes -- not to runaway global
warmingclimate change climate disruption,
but to the mindset of its disciples.
[ED.] The post is by Lake. The P.S. is by me, IP. I'm only adding this
because I can't help seeing the reversal between the video Lake has
surfaced and this video from the 80's. From rejecting conformism with
extremism to embracing it with extreme prejudice in the same fucked up
country inside of a generation or so makes me weep.
Worse, the pedagogues of the new nazis -- the ones with the new
switches and commandments -- are the children of last generation's
rebels against, uh, totalitarian authority.
Too bad nobody could see they
were just as bad as what they
hated. (Oops. Sorry. We saw.
Britain? Fuck you and die. And I really fucking mean it. (Sorry,
Friday, October 01, 2010
A good, thorough,
and even-handed interview by C-SPAN's Brian Lamb.
It's long but an excellent introduction to a potential 2012 dark horse.
. A name we keep hearing, though he's never
included in the wild-ass presidential polling about Republican
candidates. Here's his basic resume at Wiki:
Mitchell Elias "Mitch" Daniels, Jr.
(born April 7, 1949) is the 49th and current Governor of the U.S. state
of Indiana. A Republican, he began his four-year term as Indiana's 49th
Governor on January 10, 2005 and was elected to his second term by an
18-point margin on November 4, 2008. Previously he was the Director of
the Office of Management and Budget under George W. Bush and also
worked for Eli Lilly and Company. He is cited as a rising star within
the Republican party and has approval ratings hovering near 70%.
Upon becoming Governor, Daniels pressed for a series of changes that
brought him into conflict with both Republicans and Democrats. During
his first year in office he proposed a number of tax increases, budget
cutting, and privatization plans to balance the budget. Because of the
opposition led by Republican Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, only two
of the new taxes were approved. Support for a switch to Daylight
Savings Time, the privatization of the Indiana Toll Road, and the
closure of many license branches brought him into conflict with
Democrats and his approval ratings dropped to 42% in 2005. He began
pressing for constitutional changes to cap state property taxes at 1-3%
of value in 2007. The caps were approved by the Indiana General
Assembly as statute. The resulting drop in revenue was offset by an
increase to the state sales tax. His support for the property tax
limits, and the proposals' subsequent adoption, helped raise his
popularity and secure his reelection bid. His second term saw a major
drop in state revenues, leading to major spending cuts by the state.
I'm bringing him up now because he seems to fullfill a lot of the
criteria I laid out back in November
2009 for who would be the candidate to beat Obama in 2012. I
[T]hanks to the amount of time I've
spent studying Criminal Minds, I've been able
to come up with a definitive profile of the next president of the
United States, the chief feature of which is that he will bear no resemblance to Barack
Obama. Things we can say for sure.
-- He won't be an historical first of
any kind, like, say, a woman
-- His clothes won't quite fit.
-- He won't be a dynamic, galvanizing, or particularly moving speaker.
-- If he schedules a primetime press conference, none of the networks
will cover it.
-- He'll win presidential debates by causing the audience to turn off
the television out of boredom.
-- His wife won't wear jeans shorts or designer belts five inches wide.
-- He won't appear on any magazine covers or adoring YouTube videos.
-- He won't cause any network newsmen to get homoerotic leg twitches.
-- He won't cause any network newswomen to get hot and bothered on Air
-- He won't be young.
-- He won't be good looking.
-- He won't be charming.
-- He won't be sexy.
-- He won't be even remotely glib, folksy, or clever.
-- He won't have different accents for different audiences.
-- He'll spend a lot of time off-camera in the White House. Working.
-- He won't be apologetic about anything American, at home or abroad.
-- We'll be okay with that.
-- He'll have actual experience in government, foreign policy, and
-- He'll love the United States more than himself.
-- He'll be a ruthless bastard about pursuing American interests abroad.
-- He'll see wars as opportunities for victory, not occasions for PR
bonanzas in world opinion.
-- He'll be elected BECAUSE he is boring, experienced, competent, and
predictable. And boring.
By 2012, the entire country will be yammering for an old-fashioned,
even soporific president. Where can we find someone like Chester A.
Arthur, Millard Fillmore, James K. Polk, Benjamin Harrison, or Martin
Van Buren? Unfortunately, almost all Republicans flunk the test. Romney
is good looking if not sexy. Huckabee is charming if nothing else.
Giuliani and Thompson just love
those cameras. Palin is completely out of the question
Yes, it was tongue-in-cheek, but not completely. I was sincere about
the fact that Americans would be looking for an 'Anti-Obama.' I still
think it's the smartest way to go, even if Sarah Palin is pioneering
new ways of breaking the rules.
Take a look at him. Like everyone else, he has his plusses and
minuses.But pay attention and learn who he is. You might warm to him,
slowly. He's a budget cutter and a fiscal conservative. So maybe you'll
forgive him for the Princeton, Georgetown, and Bush administration
stuff. He referred to the end of his first political stint in
Washington as "going straight." He became an executive at Eli Lilly,
which he credits as the most important experience in preparation for
Which is the deliberately not rousing end of my pitch. Except that his
nickname is "The Blade." Resonates with us. Oh. That reminds me. He
to a recent graduating class at Butler University:
As a generation, you are off to an
excellent start. You have taken the first savvy step on the road
to distinction, which is to follow a weak act. I wish I could
claim otherwise, but we Baby Boomers are likely to be remembered by
history for our numbers, and little else, at least little else that is
We Boomers were the children that the Second World War was fought for.
Parents who had endured both war and the Great Depression devoted
themselves sacrificially to ensuring us a better life than they
had. We were pampered in ways no children in human history would
recognize. With minor exceptions, we have lived in blissfully
fortunate times. The numbers of us who perished in plagues, in
famine, or in combat were tiny in comparison to previous generations of
Americans, to say nothing of humanity elsewhere.
All our lives, it's been all about us. We were the "Me
Generation." We wore t-shirts that said "If it feels good, do
it." The year of my high school commencement, a hit song featured
the immortal lyric "Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today." As a
group, we have been self-centered, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, and
all too often just plain selfish. Our current Baby Boomer
President has written two eloquent, erudite books, both about..himself.
As a generation, we did tend to live for today. We have spent
more and saved less than any previous Americans. Year after year,
regardless which party we picked to lead the country, we ran up
deficits that have multiplied the debt you and your children will be
paying off your entire working lives. Far more burdensome to you
mathematically, we voted ourselves increasing levels of Social Security
pensions and Medicare health care benefits, but never summoned the
political maturity to put those programs on anything resembling a sound
In sum, our parents scrimped and saved to provide us a better living
standard than theirs; we borrowed and splurged and will leave you a
staggering pile of bills to pay. It's been a blast; good luck
cleaning up after us.
. So I'm obeying Brizoni's instructions. Begins to
make me feel like the codger dribbling on his bib while the young ones
sniff and look away. Maybe that's why I picked as my experimental
recording the "Sometimes
I'm Just an Old Man" post from January 2008.
CROSSING THE CREVASSE TO NOVEMBER. The mid-term elections? No.
Scary pictures of Hillary Clinton? No. The president interacting, for
once, with real pissed-off citizens in a townhall event? No. It's all
the silly season. No one knows what's going to happen in November. The
people will decide. And chances are, regardless of what pundits say,
they'll send a pretty strong message to Washington, DC, about how fed
up they are with everyone and everything associated with the federal
Which leaves us with the important stuff. Meaning teevee.
Time for some updates and a new recommendation.
We just got the DVDs for last season's Dexter. Have to admit it's looking
great so far. Dexter stalking and taking down the female cop who
slaughtered her family was both creepy and weirdly family affirming.
We'll keep you advised.
Rubicon. It keeps getting
better and better. I have no problem telling you it's the best written
television series I've ever seen. And probably the best acted too.
Who's Arliss Howard? Where has he been all this time? And that's just a
stand-in for all the players, major and minor, who make every scene
worth watching. My only serious question about this series is how they
can ever have a second season. It's so intense that it's clearly the
dramatic apogee of the lives of everyone involved. Once they reach a
denouement of any sort, the story will be done. The Brits know that's
okay. I don't think Americans do.
And now for the newbie. It runs on Syfy and is called Destination Truth. The single most
baffling TV show I've ever seen.
What the hell is it? I have no idea. But I love it.
Nominally, it's a spinoff from Ghost
Hunters, but it's oh so much more than that. The protagonist
isn't a heavily tattooed roto-rooter man with a bunch of heavily
tattoed roto-rooter people following him into haunted attics and going
"Oh shit!" right before every commercial.
Well, yes, there's some of that. But the protagonist isn't exactly a
roto-rooter man. He's this guy:
Gates (born August 10, 1977 in Gloucester, Massachusetts) is an
American adventurer, explorer, photographer, and television
personality. He is currently the host of Destination Truth on Syfy,
(formerly the Sci Fi Channel), a weekly one-hour show filmed in remote
locations around the world that explores some of the world's mysteries
and unexplained phenomena. Gates was born in Manchester-by-the-Sea,
Massachusetts, where he was the president of his high school class, and
currently resides in Los Angeles, California. He has degrees in
archaeology and drama from Tufts University, where he graduated with
honors in 1999.
In addition to being a qualified SCUBA diver, Gates has also summited
Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and climbed Mt. Aconcagua in the Argentine
Andes. From 1996 to 1998, Gates participated in The University of
Maryland's archaeological excavations of Caesarea Maritima in Israel.
Part of a small SCUBA team, Gates worked with researchers to excavate
and better understand the ancient city's submerged harbor complex. In
addition to his field work, Gates has traveled over 75 countries around
the world and was recently inducted into The Explorers Club, a
prestigious organization dedicated to the advancement of exploration
Which is where all the baffling stuff comes in. Josh Gates is smart,
witty, adventurous to the point of insanity, and clearly enjoying all
the loony quests he undertakes for the show.
The premise of Destination Truth
is both Quixotic and absurd. We always begin in the hardwood-floored
offices of "the team," where word has just been received of some
paranormal event in Sri Lanka (ghosts possessing dolls in a temple) or
a cryptozoological sighting in the Horn of Africa (a brontosaurus
that's eating the hedges in some tribe's backyard). He fills you in on
the objective in a rat-a-tat voiceover narration, and then we watch his
beleaguered crew stuff their duffle bags with techie equipment and
stride for the exit.
We get Indiana Jones-style maps of their air travel -- "quickly boarded
a jet for the 11,000 mile trek to Shangri La" -- and then we get
contemporary scenes of baggage handling and racing for the next
transportation device, usually an SUV that craps out two miles from the
airport. (Isn't a running joke a hint of some sort") But there's a lot more to the transportation angle than beater
SUVs. No episode is complete without some combination of creaky planes,
helicopters, boats, motorcycles, snowmobiles, rafts, and (who knows?)
airboats, tanks and rocket cars.
Is this, in fact, an Indiana Jones parody? No. At least no more than
it's a hilarious travelogue parody. Because there's always a
razor-sharp series of encounters with the locals in which Josh is
alternately self-deprecating and condescending (though not in a mean
way -- he's winking at us the whole time) even as the breakneck speed
of the current expedition, and his wry voiceover, is maintained. You see, the whole modus
operandi is to fly 10,000 miles into the Third World and slog through
jungles, deserts, swamps and other impossible terrain to spend just one night
investigating weird phenomena. And then, immediately, fly 10,000 miles
back to Los Angeles for a two minute summary of the findings.
So it's fake paranormal research. A kind of sendup of all the silly
shows in this genre? But no. Because in the night he and his crew spend
investigating, Josh Gates takes insane chances of every sort, ranging
from rock climbing unknown cliffs with nightscopes to SCUBA-diving in
freezing cold black waters to spelunking in unknown caves to prowling
the African savannah without even a rifle for protection. He's a maniac, and his "team" always seems terrified and put upon.
So the show is really "Let's take nutty chances at midnight for the
hell of it." Except that doesn't cover it either. Because Josh and the
rest of his crew are all techie nerds to the nth degree. They come
armed with sonar and ground penetrating radar and underwater ROVs and
infrared cameras and nightscopes and digital sound recorders and FLIR
cameras that photograph the person wearing them (creepy) and EMF
recorders and who knows what other crap, which they dutifully lug into
the most hostile environments without more than a few hours of planning.
So the show is ultimately, perhaps, "Blundering Around the World with
If it's all a fake, why would Josh and his crew take such extreme
physical risks? And why would anyone participate? It seems as if every
trip they take involves incredibly long distances and fairly extreme
privation. On the other hand, what kind of meaningful research can you
be pretending to do if you never spend more than one night collecting
As I said. The most baffling show on television. But Josh is funny. And
bold as brass. I think that's the saving grace that makes it a keeper.
The world really is Josh
Gates's plaything. He's having a blast even if his crew isn't. When's
the last time you thought of the entire planet as a candy store the
right kind of kid can play in?
Finally. The right name for this show: "Josh's Candy Store."
Watch it. It's all of the above and more. Parody, tech nerdiness, show
biz, goofy travelogue, smartass self-indulgence, adolescent
thrill-seeking, and maybe a
leavening dose of curiosity.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The Best Fans
LUMP OR TWO. For those who are thinking, "Not another sports post," this one is
actually about the Tea Parties, not Philadelphia.
But it starts with Philadelphia. There have been two great stories
boiling in the City of Brotherly Love this week. The Phillies,
obviously, clinching their fourth straight division title in the
National League, while the world of snotty sportswriters headquartered
in New York is finally --after all this time -- acknowledging that
they're definitely, absolutely for real as a great baseball team.
The other story has to do with Michael Vick. I'll get back to that.
But first, here's the Tea Party angle. The MSM "narrative" about
Philadelphia sports fans has remained unchanged for decades. Many of
you who don't live here probably believe it because you have no reason
not to. It's all you've ever heard. Philadelphia fans are crude,
violent, drunk ingrates who turn instantly on their teams when the
results are not acceptable in terms of the instant gratification
mindset that afflicts this benighted city. They threw iceballs at Santa
Claus, ran Donovan McNabb, one of the elite NFL quarterbacks of the
past decade, out of town, and have always behaved with a kind of
thuggish sullenness that makes them the embarrassment of sports fans
the world over. Does that about cover your own view of the topic?
I call it the "angry white man" narrative. It's been applied to
Philadelphians for decades and it's been applied to Tea Parties since
they first emerged on the scene. Problem is, it's no truer of
Philadelphians than it is of tea parties. And vice versa. It's just an
easy way for the MSM to characterize people they don't like.
And it's parochial as hell. Which is why the Philadelphia instance is
so pertinent. Because the Philadelphia instance is all about New York.
And guess who the chief rivals of New York teams in the National League
and the National Conference of the NFL are? The Philadelphia Phillies
and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Phillies have made it a practice in
recent years to humiliate the New York Mets, and the Eagles have
hectored the New York Football Giants for decades at least. (If you've
missed the story of how Eagles linbebacker Chuck Bednarik nearly killed
Giants halfback Frank Gifford, you're the only one.) The difference
between their fans is a coin flip. They're both northeastern cities.
The fans boo quickly, loudly, and vociferously because they care so
very very much. The fans are blue collar -- they're not the yuppies of
the Redskins, Patriots, and Forty-Niners, the oil barons of the Dallas
Cowboys, or the hippies of the Denver Broncos fan base. They're, well,
the same kind of folks that are attending tea parties.
And exactly the same demographics apply. The center of MSM sports
journalism is -- TA DA -- New York. Objective are they? No. No more
than they are with national political issues. They're, uh, New Yorkers
first and foremost. Better, smarter, just plain superior. Even if our
two NFL teams both play their games in New Jersey. Probably why they're
not as cool as we are.
Which explains the Tea Party coverage. Completely. Same parochial
mindset. We're New Yorkers. Everybody else is full of shit.
What's the twist here? Maybe the rest of you can learn something about
America from Philadelphia sports fans. Don't sigh. Listen. Learn. Most
of what you think you know just ain't so.
Philadelphia fans are loyal. The Eagles are always sold out. Not so
rare in the NFL. But so are the Phillies. Sold out, I mean. For over a
hundred straight home games. Only the New York Yankees
have sold more tickets this year, but New York is three times the
size of Philadelphia. And nobody can explain the huge Phillies
contingent that shows up at every road game the Phillies play. It's
inexplicable and awe-inspiring. But there they always are.
Philadelphia fans are knowledgeable. One of the key dramatic moments in
the 2008 playoffs involved an at-bat by a pitcher. He fouled off pitch
after pitch and finally broke the spirit of C.C. Sabathia. The fans
were on it the whole time and, arguably, made the eventual
game-changing walk happen. Philly fans know their baseball.
Philadelphia fans are complicated. Cartoons aren't complicated. Philly
fans are worse than complicated. They're committed, conflicted, and
agonized. (Tea Party anyone?) I've been listening to SportsTalk in
Philly for the past week, and for a city that wants a Super Bowl win so
desperately, the callers -- and the hosts -- are a divided bunch. They
had good reason for wanting to be done with McNabb. In nine years,
McNabb never did what Vick did last week. Score a touchdown with four
seconds remaining in the fist half. (The tea partiers have always been
accused of being racist because they don't like Obama.) Eagles fans
weren't racist for disliking NcNabb. He never really liked them, and
they wanted so much to like him that a typical Eagles crowd was a sea
of Number Five jerseys. I guarantee there will be cheers aplenty as
well as boos when McNabb take the field for the Redskins next Sunday in
Philadelphia. But he never had the Unitas, Manning, Elway touch. He
couldn't bring you back at the last second to a victory. Never could.
Never did. The fans remember that too. Even the ones who cheer.
Vick can bring you back. And all over the radio, the fans don't know
how to feel about that. Apparently, there's something more than winning
they care about. Not all of them obviously. Some are gung-ho. But by no
means all. They call in, a whole spectrum of moral vicissitudes. Upset
by the betrayal of Kevin Kolb. Able to root for the Eagles with Vick
but not for Vick. Lifelong
fans but unable to watch an Eagles game at all. Able to root for Vick
and the Eagles but finding a hole in their hearts, a twinge of
conscience as they do so.
And hardly any haters. Again
I'm reminded of the tea partiers. They're not simple-minded, most of
them. They don't like the situation. They don't want Vick to go back to
prison. They want him to find his own personal redemption. But they'd also
rather have an Eagles team that didn't make them feel dirty to watch.
Something about congress maybe. Not to mention the White House.
Maybe ESPN should lighten up on Philadelphia. And maybe the MSM should
lighten up on the tea partiers.