November 10, 2012 - November 3, 2012
Friday, November 18, 2011
Tim Tebow, The
Eagles & the end of everything...
All six of NFLN's
coach and player experts told us this couldn't happen. It did.
DESPAIR. I did the big post Monday because I wanted a few
days off to
think. Then it gets difficult knowing how to jump back in. Why I rely
on serendicity so much. Eduardo had this to say when he grew tired of
Who’s up for a topic change? If anybody
else watched that Jets/Broncos game last night (it was unwatchable by
itself, but I had it on in the background as I surfed the web and wrote
an email to Apotheosis explaining why I thought the movie Priest was
more amusing than unbearable), it encapsulated the entire Tebow
Tebow didn’t look so good. He flat out missed wide open receivers in
crucial 3rd down situations. Other times it looked like he was trying
to peg them in dodgeball instead of passing to them. Here’s the thing,
though: Mark Sanchez was even worse. In fact, Sanchez has been bad for
longer than Tebow, but is there a legion of dedicated Sanchez haters?
Not that I know of. Instead, he’s been doing Verizon & Pepsi
Yeah, granted, Tebow can be annoying. And the Broncos can’t keep
winning on the last minute Tebow TD scramble, which I still can’t
believe is catching teams by surprise (I mean…really??). At some point
he will have to start throwing the ball accurately to be successful, so
if he’s taking the past few games as some sort of sign that he can
survive by running, he is setting himself up for a massive fall. But
still, I can’t see hating the kid. If I were a Jets fan I would be
hating Sanchez a lot more than Tebow right now.
What he left out was the magic he was reporting on. The Tebow Magic. An
almost cartoon hero, looking lousy for the whole game, then suddenly
doing everything right to win at the end. Even people who are rooting
for him are embarrassed by it. How can it be? How is it possible to
have a talent for nothing but winning?
I was already thinking about it when I saw Eduardo's comment. Because
in Philadelphia, we are facing the exact opposite situation: a whole
team of great talent that keeps finding a way to lose late. The Eagles
roll up yardage, points, and spectacular highlight plays, then collapse
in a heap when it really counts.
I think both these phenomena are related to what I've been struggling
with of late. (I concede Penn
State was a kind of last straw... the one
that broke this camel's back.
The past is still alive in the present, and if some part of the past
you trusted is corrupt, where does that leave you? Gasping.)
Why is the whole world falling so completely apart right now, so that
the news is just sickeningingly awful every day, and not enough people appear to see it to take any
decisive position against it? Obama is so utterly the worst president
of not only my lifetime, but my parents' lifetime, including even FDR,
that every even-toned discussion of how he might yet win reelection
fills me with a sensation approaching panic. Polls showing the race
close are like getting stabbed by glass.
There's way too much evidence to cite. He has set not just the poor
against the rich, but the middle and upper middle classes against the
rich, endorsed the "Occupy Wall Street" shibboleth of the 99 percent
against the 1 percent. And the mainstream media endorse him in that
idiotic characterization, so that polls for a long time indicated that
ordinary Americans preferred incoherent, lice-ridden squatters -- with
no political platitudes not plagiarized from expressly marxist 1960s
SDS mimeographs -- to the Tea Partiers who asked, politely, and
amazingly hygienically, for less government control of their lives. In
the United States of America.
The Republicans keep calling him a socialist, but he's more national
socialist -- i.e., fascist -- than marxist. The party with the closest
links to the financial epicenter of the country is the Democrats, not
the Republicans. Why Solyndra gets the sweetheart deal, why Goldman
Sachs provides more money -- and White House functionaries -- to Obama
than to the evil conservatives the dim-witted 'Occupy' thugs are so
anxious to do in.
Why I keep saying -- and no one ever listens -- that the crisis facing
us is not about hunger for money but the thirst for power. Last night,
on Fox News's four-to-one against libs show The Five, a conservative insisted
on describing the Penn Sate mess as being about greed. It's not. The
people who run government, universities, and the media don't care about
prosperity at all. They want to be vindicated in their belief that
they're smarter than all us flyover fools, and more than anything, they
want the power to tell us what to believe, who to believe in, how to live, how to bring up our children
(uh, as theirs, or their
compliant drones), and how to go gently into the good night of
Sometimes, the devil really is in the details. You have the mayor of
New York, a billionaire, who cites freedom of speech when he's
approving a mosque nobody wants at Ground Zero but who refuses to
tolerate religious representation at the tenth anniversary of September
11. He cites freedom of speech again when he refuses to crack down on
dope-smoking 'Occupy' protesters who are incapable of any kind of
articulate speech while he insists on regulating the tobacco, caloric
and salt intake of the law-abiding citizens of his city. He just wants
to be in charge, to be our daddy and mommy by turns, until we are only children waving pennants for sports teams.
What they all want. And they don't care about prosperity for the real 99 percent. Especially Obama.
They just want credit for pretending to care about people they
demonstrably don't give a shit about.
Obama won't approve drilling for domestic oil or natural gas. Jobs? He
won't approve a pipeline that would create what? Jobs. He pushes a
government control bill that is guaranteed to raise health insurance
premiums and lies about the fact that everyone's premiums will go up
and many will have to give up plans he insisted they wouldn't? Does he
care? No. He blames it all on his predecessor and the rich. Also why
his whole approach to tax policy for stimulus is to pay the wages of
teachers, cops, and firemen and perpetuate unemployment indefinitely
rather than turn the much larger private economy loose to do the 'evil'
American thing of creating new economic opportunities where bureaucrats
typically see none.
Europe is financially imploding. Even the dumbest of the mainstream
media used to know that if the United States catches an economic cold,
Europe catches economic pneumonia. Now Europe has something worse than
pneumonia, and the only remaining mechanism for reining in the
world-bankrupting federal spending levels in the U.S. is an
extra-congressional committee of octogenarians who are empowered only
to trim a fraction of the automatic growth of a U.S. budget that hasn't
existed in legislative reality since Obama became president.Try to find
a description of the European debt crisis that places the blame for
Euro-tuberculosis on American pneumonia. Good luck.
Foreign affairs? Oil prices spiking, rising, scaring? Obama doing
nothing -- absolutely nothing other than bland talk -- about Iran's
nuclear intentions. Withdrawing completely from Iraq. Promising to flee
Afghanistan soon, if not sooner. He chooses to kill bin Laden, Awlaki,
etc, rather than capture them because his political buttboy
attorney-general is committed to trying them in New York City if
they're captured alive, and the alternative of a mlitary tribunal in
Guantanamo would be even more embarrassing. And maybe we'll be able to
get rid of Israel too. Who doesn't want that in the American liberal
community? Lousy goddammed Jews. Except for the ones who insist on
helping us every step of the way. (They'll get something for their help
in the end....)
Am I boring you? Back to first questions. What do Tebow and the Eagles
have to do with this mess?
So, this morning, I heard two different sets of analyses. Maybe they
were close to the truth because the facts are so stark, I don't know. A
quarterback I know doesn't think Tebow has what it takes shook his head
and said (something to the effect of), "You can't underestimate the
power of belief. If he's really able to convince them they can win,
that's an incredibly potent force in sports."
Conversely, I heard from multiple analysts who still believe the Eagles
might yet be a force to be reckoned with this season (none of them from
Philadelphia), I heard (and I'm just summarizing), "When bad things
start to happen, you can start to look for the bad things, and then
I'm sure you all want a bottom line. I refrained from watching news
coverage of the 'Occupy' nonsense that was happening yesterday. I
watched a SyFy
movie instead. All about the moon about to collide with
the earth. Lady Laird makes fun of me for watching these movies. I
enjoy them because we always escape Armageddon at the end. Totally
unlike what we see on the History,
Discovery, and Science channels.
They actually can't wait for the end of the human race.
Which is where I come down on the whole subject. Since World War I, the
so-called intellectuals have been rooting for the end of the world as
we know it. They believe they killed God and the proof they seek is
that we disappear into nonentity and meaninglessness. Which makes them
Simple as that.
Why do you suppose they have battled so hard and furiously against the
idea of American Exceptionalism when the actual history is so
decisively against them? The American Revolution is responsible for all
the freedom in what we call the western world. Directly. Muscularly
(given WWI and WWII and the Cold War). They want to die. They want us
to die. To this end, they have conquered the educational institutions
and the media, they have turned truth into lies (post-modernism), and
they have created a phony ideal of a green world that if it had ever
existed would not contain Gizeh, Athens, Pompeii,
York. Where most of them live or
wish they did. Their fantasy is that we all live naked on the banks
of the Amazon drinking bad beer made from capsum bark. While listening
to John Lennon on our iPods.
Buying it? Not me.
But I'm buying the bigger point. Which is that the world is at a
crossroads. The propagandists have succeeded in convincing something
like a majority to give up. (William O'Blivion is looking forward to
the breakup of the United States.)
The resisting minority have not perceived the extent of the danger.
They believe that most people still believe. They are in error about
that. Something cracked in the body politic after the end of the Cold
War. They haven't caught up. The end of the Cold War thawed out the
worst emotion of all -- Thanatos. They
still think they are raising
their children to participate in something like a continuum from the
past. Wrong. The continuum was fatally sabotaged long long ago.
Why I am so, so unhappy. Death is advancing on everything we hold dear.
Our children have to be raised not as good citizens but implacable
I'm too old to understand all the implications of my own statement. But
it's making me close to catatonic.
I took down a post earlier in the week. I should explain. I apologize.
But cover-ups go way way back. The roots of the "Occupy' movement go
all the way back to my own adolescence in 1969, when a third of the
student body walked out of Saturday Chapel at Mercersburg
was, perhaps, the moment when the Boomer
Bible was born. I tried to go back. Thomas Wolfe famously said,
"You can't go home again." He was mistaken. You can go home again. I have. You just
can't go back in time.
Everyone who was alive then has his own version of what happened, and
almost nobody else remembers anything that could be called truth. There
is only the myth of what happened.
So I spoke to old teachers and younger relatives of those who were, in
fact, present. I was trying to understand how institutions remember
things that changed their histories for good or ill. The answer? They
don't. It's all a continuous present that ejects the past like shit
from a goose.
Why do I trust my memory? I committed an historic event. I published an
"Extra" of the school's award winning newspaper. I got it published in
48 hours. I documented what was said at the all-school meeting after
the walkout, I solicited pro and con articles from members of the
faculty, and I wrote an editorial. The only thing I don't remember is
my editorial, except that I was opposed to what had happened.
What did my research disclose? Nobody knows anything about the event
itself anymore, even though my Extra still sits in the annals of the
paper, on record and accessible.. My favorite teacher doesn't want to
know about the relevance of that moment to 'Occupy Wall Street' because
it conflicts with what he wants to remember about his own liberal
tenure. And the youngsters have been taught to remember that only my graduating class -- 1970 -- is
somehow mysteriously bitter about their alma mater.
What does any of this have to do with Penn State or the state of the
world? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Except I'm still stubbornly thinking about Tebow. And this:
Including the moments when he learned that turkeys
live quite alertly and consciously in the present... and the moment
when his last turkey
friend suddenly, savagely, attacked him as a male rival.
The human plus? We get to think about it. If we can.
We can't go
back, but we live not to die but to live.
Are we alive? Or dead like those others? Your call.
Monday, November 14, 2011
there gold in them thar spills?
THE BEST HAVE THEIR WEAK MOMENTS. I read all the comments but I
can't respond to all of them. That would be folly. The good ones need
no particular remark unless they start a new line of thinking. The bad
ones are usually self-evident unless they illustrate a pattern of some
kind or are so absurd as to need calling out. But if you want your
comments replied to, I can give you some guidelines. 1) Be brilliantly
original or provocative. Or
2) Demonstrate that you haven't read what I've written, 3) Be
nonresponsive to what I've written while pretending to respond, 4)
Ignore what I've written to pursue your own personal agenda, or 5)
Cherrypick what I've written to register some great gotcha that bores
everybody but you.
I've made no secret in the last week or two that I'm disgusted with
things in general, but that hasn't deterred stratagems 2) through 5).
Which is your right, of course. And some of you have been valued
commenters in the past. Like William O'Blivion, who has many erudite
thoughts -- but not this week. Case in point. He replied to my
post about how dumb conservatives are being thus:
A slap at my dismissal of Herman Cain, sure. Fine. Never mind that
Harry Truman was anything but an amateur. He was a skilled Washington
politician who got lots of attention for pursuing war profiteers when
he was in the House of Representatives. Yes, he was a haberdasher at
one time and never earned a college degree. Not quite the same thing as
never having held any kind
of elective office. But that was just the opening salvo. The
bottom line here is the bottom line: "Not even Reagan was a Reagan."
Uh, yeah. He was. Mr. O'Blivion is wallowing in his own despair and
wants us to wallow with him. Disgust is not despair. In fact, it's the
opposite. He's welcome to his own agenda, but I write my posts. Comments should be
written too, not splattered across the Internet.
There's also Pittsburgh Guy -- uh, Bud -- all bent out of shape because
KDKA broadcast a football game on the radio in the 1920s and the Wiki
entry I quoted
about the University of Pennslvania claimed that laurel for Penn. Which
justified a slander only half mitigated by one of those opaque Internet
Never mind what the post was about. Meaning the worst scandal in the history of
amateur sports. Or that I wrote an actual -- if wry -- love
letter to Pittsburgh a week or so ago.
Pittsburgh is a fine fine city. Like so many American cities are.
Unique in history, architecture, cultural riches (Pippa has already
studied Faberge treaures at the Frick), neighborhoods, and ethnic
identity. I love this country. Wherever you go, there is beauty, stores
of knowledge and art, and the people make you welcome and proud to be
American. Even in the appalling moral cesspool that is the headquarters
of Stiller (Steeler) fans.
Wrenching the whole discussion into a back alley nobody cares about is
its own reward. Cherrypicking is
its own reward, however off topic, distracting, and dull.
Yes, I'm grousing. William O and Bud will understand that I'm just
teasing them. Commenters are entitled to commit most of the sins I've
enumerated. But Sins 2) and 3) actually piss me off. Which brings me to
SkinnyDevil. He's a Paulista. Initially he was befuddled by this
Then he collected himself and (non)responded to what he didn't like.
I admit it. This whole post is about sneaking up on SkinnyDevil, who
has his own blog and seems to think the weight he's throwing around is
somehow equal to InstaPunk's. Wrong. He commits the cardinal sins that
make Lord Laird mad. He hasn't read what I've actually written, which
answers the questions he triumphantly asks, and he is nonresponsive to
the central point of the post he presumes to be superior to.
"You are well aware that Iran poses no
direct threat to the US."
The weakest argument in the world is presuming that your own lame
assumptions bind the person you're disagreeing with the same way they
bind you. ("You are well aware that if I shoot your brother I haven't
harmed you in any way.") I
despise Ron Paul's foreign policy precisely because it doesn't
conprehend that events in the world -- such as the annihilation of
Israel -- would also be crippling assaults on the United States. Not
perceiving that fundamental point is the stated reason for my
detestation of Ron Paul. Why I -- in the text of my post -- call him
"not a politician" but "a cult leader." So SkinnyDevil can't or doesn't
read. Which is my problem with all Paulistas.
"Which brings us back to why you would
take issue with Paul when every candidate on the stage with him agrees
with much of what he says..."
Read what I fucking wrote: "The plan
is published as a spreadsheet, with no description of how any
transition is to be accomplished. The problem I've always had
libertarians. We're right. Who gives a shit about what happens when we
finally take charge?" [Boldface added
after the fact because it's apparently necessary for some of the tools
in the audience.]
If Gingrich says he wants to do away with various federal
departments, I know that he
knows it requires more than the stroke of a pen and a crazy grandma
smile of jubilation. Which makes him vastly different from the
congressman who could guest star as the villain of the week on Criminal Minds without raising an
What part of that don't you
Disgust, Part 2
The Mark Twain
hope that, like Mark Twain, a hundred years from now people will see my work and say, "Wow, that is
actually pretty racist."
1998 – Richard Pryor
1999 – Jonathan Winters
2000 – Carl Reiner
2001 – Whoopi Goldberg
2002 – Bob Newhart
2003 – Lily Tomlin
2004 – Lorne Michaels
2005 – Steve Martin
2006 – Neil Simon
2007 – Billy Crystal
2008 – George Carlin
2009 – Bill Cosby
2010 – Tina Fey
2011 – Will Ferrell
Disgust. Mark Twain was not a standup comic or movie actor or producer.
Hemingway said of him, "All modern American literature comes from one
book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry
Finn." (Except that there was also Edgar Allan Poe.) He was a writer. Here's a reminder from a
lovely and still affecting souffle called Innocents Abroad, which none of
the winners could duplicate or even aspire to. So what else is new? As
Keith Richards says, "90 percent of everything is crap." MT is an
exception. Behold the American voice:
They pronounce it 'Pom-pay-e.' I always
had an idea that you went down into Pompeii with torches, by the way of
damp, dark stairways, just as you do in silver mines, and traversed
gloomy tunnels with lava overhead and something on either hand like
dilapidated prisons gouged out of the solid earth, that faintly
resembled houses. But you do nothing of the kind. Fully one-half of the
buried city, perhaps, is completely exhumed and thrown open freely to
the light of day; and there stand the long rows of solidly-built brick
houses (roofless) just as they stood eighteen hundred years ago, hot
with the flaming sun; and there lie their floors, clean-swept, and not
a bright fragment tarnished or wanting of the labored mosaics that
pictured them with the beasts, and birds, and flowers which we copy in
perishable carpets to-day; and there are the Venuses, and Bacchuses,
and Adonises, making love and getting drunk in many-hued frescoes on
the walls of saloon and bed-chamber; and there are the narrow streets
and narrower sidewalks, paved with flags of good hard lava, the one
deeply rutted with the chariot-wheels, and the other with the passing
feet of the Pompeiians of by-gone centuries; and there are the
bake-shops, the temples, the halls of justice, the baths, the
theatres—all clean-scraped and neat, and suggesting nothing of the
nature of a silver mine away down in the bowels of the earth. The
broken pillars lying about, the doorless doorways and the crumbled tops
of the wilderness of walls, were wonderfully suggestive of the "burnt
district" in one of our cities, and if there had been any charred
timbers, shattered windows, heaps of debris, and general blackness and
smokiness about the place, the resemblance would have been perfect. But
no—the sun shines as brightly down on old Pompeii to-day as it did when
Christ was born in Bethlehem, and its streets are cleaner a hundred
times than ever Pompeiian saw them in her prime. I know whereof I
speak—for in the great, chief thoroughfares (Merchant Street and the
Street of Fortune) have I not seen with my own eyes how for two hundred
years at least the pavements were not repaired! —how ruts five and even
ten inches deep were worn into the thick flagstones by the chariot
wheels of generations of swindled tax-payers? And do I not know by
these signs that Street Commissioners of Pompeii never attended to
their business, and that if they never mended the pavements they never
cleaned them? And, besides, is it not the inborn nature of Street
Commissioners to avoid their duty whenever they get a chance? I wish I
knew the name of the last one that held office in Pompeii so that I
could give him a blast. I speak with feeling on this subject, because I
caught my foot in one of those ruts, and the sadness that came over me
when I saw the first poor skeleton, with ashes and lava sticking to it,
was tempered by the reflection that may be that party was the Street
Then we lounged through many and many a sumptuous private mansion which
we could not have entered without a formal invitation in
incomprehensible Latin, in the olden time, when the owners lived
there—and we probably wouldn't have got it. These people built their
houses a good deal alike. The floors were laid in fanciful figures
wrought in mosaics of many-colored marbles. At the threshold your eyes
fall upon a Latin sentence of welcome, sometimes, or a picture of a
dog, with the legend "Beware of the Dog," and sometimes a picture of a
bear or a faun with no inscription at all. Then you enter a sort of
vestibule, where they used to keep the hat-rack, I suppose; next a room
with a large marble basin in the midst and the pipes of a fountain; on
either side are bedrooms; beyond the fountain is a reception-room, then
a little garden, dining-room, and so forth and so on. The floors were
all mosaic, the walls were stuccoed, or frescoed, or ornamented with
bas-reliefs, and here and there were statues, large and small, and
little fish-pools, and cascades of sparkling water that sprang from
secret places in the colonnade of handsome pillars that surrounded the
court, and kept the flower-beds fresh and the air cool....
It was a quaint and curious pastime, wandering through this old silent
city of the dead—lounging through utterly deserted streets where
thousands and thousands of human beings once bought and sold, and
walked and rode, and made the place resound with the noise and
confusion of traffic and pleasure. They were not lazy. They hurried in
those days. We had evidence of that. There was a temple on one corner,
and it was a shorter cut to go between the columns of that temple from
one street to the other than to go around—and behold that pathway had
been worn deep into the heavy flagstone floor of the building by
generations of time-saving feet! They would not go around when it was
quicker to go through. We do that way in our cities.
Everywhere, you see things that make you wonder how old these old
houses were before the night of destruction came—things, too, which
bring back those long dead inhabitants and place them living before
your eyes. For instance: The steps (two feet thick lava blocks) that
lead up out of the school, and the same kind of steps that lead up into
the dress circle of the principal theatre, are almost worn through! For
ages the boys hurried out of that school, and for ages their parents
hurried into that theatre, and the nervous feet that have been dust and
ashes for eighteen centuries have left their record for us to read
And so I turned away and went through shop after shop and store after
store, far down the long street of the merchants, and called for the
wares of Rome and the East, but the tradesmen were gone, the marts were
silent, and nothing was left but the broken jars all set in cement of
cinders and ashes....
In a bakeshop... the exhumers of Pompeii found nice, well baked loaves
which the baker had not found time to remove from the ovens the last
time he left his shop, because circumstances compelled him to leave in
such a hurry.
In one house (the only building in Pompeii which no woman is now
allowed to enter) were the small rooms and short beds of solid masonry,
just as they were in the old times, and on the walls were pictures
which looked almost as fresh as if they were painted yesterday, but
which no pen could have the hardihood to describe; and here and there
were Latin inscriptions—obscene scintillations of wit, scratched by
hands that possibly were uplifted to Heaven for succor in the midst of
a driving storm of fire before the night was done.
In one of the principal streets was a ponderous stone tank, and a
waterspout that supplied it, and where the tired, heated toilers from
the Campagna used to rest their right hands when they bent over to put
their lips to the spout, the thick stone was worn down to a broad
groove an inch or two deep. Think of the countless thousands of hands
that had pressed that spot in the ages that are gone, to so reduce a
stone that is as hard as iron!
They had a great public bulletin board in Pompeii—a place where
announcements for gladiatorial combats, elections, and such things,
were posted—not on perishable paper, but carved in enduring stone. One
lady, who, I take it, was rich and well brought up, advertised a
dwelling or so to rent, with baths and all the modern improvements, and
several hundred shops, stipulating that the dwellings should not be put
to immoral purposes....
In one of these long Pompeiian halls the skeleton of a man was found,
with ten pieces of gold in one hand and a large key in the other. He
had seized his money and started toward the door, but the fiery tempest
caught him at the very threshold, and he sank down and died. One more
minute of precious time would have saved him. I saw the skeletons of a
man, a woman, and two young girls. The woman had her hands spread wide
apart, as if in mortal terror, and I imagined I could still trace upon
her shapeless face something of the expression of wild despair that
distorted it when the heavens rained fire in these streets, so many
ages ago. The girls and the man lay with their faces upon their arms,
as if they had tried to shield them from the enveloping cinders. In one
apartment eighteen skeletons were found, all in sitting postures, and
blackened places on the walls still mark their shapes and show their
attitudes, like shadows. One of them, a woman, still wore upon her
skeleton throat a necklace, with her name engraved upon it—JULIE DI
But perhaps the most poetical thing Pompeii has yielded to modern
research, was that grand figure of a Roman soldier, clad in complete
armor; who, true to his duty, true to his proud name of a soldier of
Rome, and full of the stern courage which had given to that name its
glory, stood to his post by the city gate, erect and unflinching, till
the hell that raged around him burned out the dauntless spirit it could
We came out from under the solemn mysteries of this city of the
Venerable Past—this city which perished, with all its old ways and its
quaint old fashions about it, remote centuries ago, when the Disciples
were preaching the new religion, which is as old as the hills to us
now—and went dreaming among the trees that grow over acres and acres of
its still buried streets and squares, till a shrill whistle and the cry
of "All aboard—last train for Naples!" woke me up and reminded me that
I belonged in the nineteenth century, and was not a dusty mummy, caked
with ashes and cinders, eighteen hundred years old. The transition was
startling. The idea of a railroad train actually running to old dead
Pompeii, and whistling irreverently, and calling for passengers in the
most bustling and business-like way, was as strange a. thing as one
could imagine, and as unpoetical and disagreeable as it was
uh, yeah. Like I said. He was a writer,
not a comic. Or the racist of Tina's ignorant imaginings. Here's the
bed he died in.
Imagine having sex with Tina Fey in
that bed. Can't? My point exactly.
I'm betting if he were still in it he'd raise himself up and cuss a
blue streak against the shallow nothings who have been lent his name as
an honor they feel free to dishonor.
. I went to a lot of games when I was a
student, and in those days the Patriots also played at Harvard Stadium
on Sundays (yeah, I'm that old.) I saw Joe Namath subjected to the
gentlest sack any NFL quarterback has ever received. They owed him.
But here's the funny thing. I never bought anything that said Harvard
on it. I never bought a Harvard tee-shirt, sweatshirt, or class ring. I
was so used to the squiggly-eyed look people gave you when they asked
you where you went to college and you said "Harvard" that I just never
went there. How many times can you hear people say "Hah-vid" and laugh as if it's the
first time you heard the joke? Pahk
the cah in the Hahvid Yahd? Fine. Go for it. Enjoy yourself.
Then I got married for the final time a few years ago. I introduced my
bride to the fun of college football, which she had never cared about
and suddenly fell in love with. We got Rutgers season tickets. And, as
if by magic, I suddenly started getting all this Harvard stuff as
presents from my wife. Tee-shirts advertising their frequent Ivy
football championships, an official Harvard sweatshirt (my first one ever, at the age of 57), a
long-sleeved gray jersey that felt almost discreet and another bright
crimson one that boasted of the team Ryan Fitzpatrick led to the title.
And my wife had a tee-shirt that contained the coats of arms of all the
Harvard houses on the back. Presents for the female kids and grandkids
turned out to be Harvard things, some of them involving glitter.
I was embarrassed. Sometimes I'd change my shirt before a family
gathering or a trip to the hardware store. I always disliked people who
wanted Harvard to be the first thing strangers knew about them. As
well, who needs more snobs?
You know what, though? This week, I'm finally proud. Especially of
Harvard football. Harvard Stadium has 40,000 seats, usually half-empty
except for the Yale game. Franklin Field, Penn's home, has 60,000
seats, usually two-thirds empty when Harvard is playing there, and
we've been there twice for that with abysmal results. The last time I
actually had to apologize to the guests we'd invited to the dismal
performance of Harvard -- it was the single worst, dullest college
football game I've ever seen. Why I picked up the whole tab at the
fabulous Ralph's Italian restaurant in South Philly.
I'm not apologetic now, though. I'm proud. Finally proud. With one week
to go in the season, Harvard has clinched its 14th Ivy football title
out of the last 56 years. It doesn't even matter what happens against
Yale next week, except that Yale's quarterback should definitely attend
his Rhodes Scholarship interview in Atlanta rather than play a
meaningless rivalry game.
Which is why I'm proud at
this point. Big time football has just
exploded in a nuclear firestorm. The Ivy League ("The Ancient Eight" as
one of my tee-shirts has it) has been, after all these years,
vindicated. Harvard football players aren't physics majors and
classics scholars. They tend to live with other jocks in Kirkand House.
On the whole, they're dumber than the rest, but some of them still make
the NFL, which they do NOT turn their noses up at. But, but, but...
are definitely, absolutely amateurs. They do not go to bowl games,
there are no challenges or replays at Ivy games, and every one of us
roots for Columbia to win at least one game every year, because they
are the smallest undergrad population and we don't want them to become
Yesterday I had to run an errand that encompassed two states. I put on
a 2006 Harvard football championship tee-shirt. I was just hoping
would make a sleighting remark, so I could say we play football cleanly
as a sport. Unlike some schools we could mention.
No one did.
I mean, who cares about Ivy League football? Let's be real here.
But we did help invent the game. Does that count for anything...?
uh, No. So be it. And I'm busting my buttons over it, for the first
in 40 years. Go figure.
We win. Or, rather, I win. Who out there has a wife like mine, who always knows what's important way ahead of time? I tell you, it makes me humble.
Dexter Season Five
shows get worse and gutter out... I tell the truth about such things.
. I promised myself I would do four posts
today. I concede I'm
getting tired after just three. But the Lady and I have been watching
Dexter Season 5 in our usual fashion -- all at once -- and I have to
have a confession to make.
Maybe I was burned out by watching the end of the Harry Potter saga.
Deadliest Hallows XIX showed up in the queue on Friday, so we watched
it. Okay. Best of the whole 45-movie saga. I can admit that. Who among
you can say I'm not fair about all matters not pertaining to the
Rolling Stones? See?
But then there were the On Demand continuations of CSI New York, NCIS, and Not CSI Somewhere, USA, and I have
to tell you there's such a thing as series burnout. Too much of a good
thing is still too much of a good thing, and there's no way I wouldn't
tell the truth to my faithful readers about such a thing.
Which is why I have to report that Dexter Season 5 is absolutely the
best ever. They've changed the show without changing the show. How
Michael Anthony Hall doesn't automatically win the Emmy for most killer
TV performance every year is far beyond my poor powers of film
I can't say much without risking spoilers, so I won't say much. Just
watch. Especially if you're a Christian. Oops. I said too much. What I
meant to say was, watch especially if you're a homicidal heretic with a
grudge against the world. Except that...
Something I never ever thought would happen. Dexter making me cry. With
him, for him, by him being
He does that. Lady Laird left home half an hour early this morning to
mail the DVD
so we could get the last epsiode ASAP.
I think I can stop writing now. Four posts. All done. Except one thing:
Harris? Fuck you. Dexter would know what to do with you, and being
an NFL fullback wouldn't make a particle of difference. He's a, well,
SPARTANS? First, my gratitude and congratulations to all veterans.
This is your day, and we
should all feel honored to have you living among us.
Anything different this year that's worthy of special remark? Yes. A
couple of things. The date: it's 11/11/11, which constitutes a natural
numerical tribute to the original Veterans Day, called Armistice Day
and set on November 11 because the armistice ending World War I was
concluded at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh
month in 1918. Sadly, I believe we have no more surviving veterans of
that war. The time set aside to remember them is now Memorial Day.
The other thing is the basketball game that will be played between UNC
and Michigan State on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson this
evening. I confess to having mixed feelings about this event and am
curious how others feel.
On the one hand I understand it's a great opportunity for the navy to
show off one of its crown jewels in prime time, and I'm sure active
service military personnel around the world will get a morale boost
from the game.
On the other hand I've got some nagging doubts I probably shouldn't
mention. But I will. The video clip shows the impressive and no doubt
hugely expensive effort that's gone into making a flight deck into a
basketball stadium, and I can't watch it without remembering the dire
Drudge headline in which Leon Panetta declares that the U.S. military
will become "a shell" of itself if the president's "supercommittee"
can't agree on other ways to reduce budget deficits. So is this
ostentatious one-off sporting event the right message to be sending the
nation at this moment in time? I don't know. Especially given that some
of the cuts being discussed involve serious reductions in veterans benefits.
Another question no one wants to raise. Is this whole show underway
because our commander-in-chief loves college basketball? He's
definitely going to be there (though I
thought he was bound for Bali to get as far away from the
supercommittee as possible). To the best of my knowledge he hasn't yet
attended the regularly scheduled Army-Navy football game (played in an
arena that doesn't have to be built from scratch), though I guess he
will this year since it'll be his last chance before the 2012 election.
And, you know.
Please forgive my skepticism. I know it's unworthy of the day. But I
sometimes wonder if he is too.
What do you think?
and a CONTEST!!!
Remember: the NYT
would never say such a thing in an editorial.
ARE SMART, RIGHT? Found an interesting essay
today (h/t Hotair) that I agree with somewhat. It purports to explain
why people engage in irrational loyalty to leaders and institutions
that have betrayed them in profound ways. What's interesting is that
the author is observant, and even self-deprecating at times, but still
manages to omit
entirely the very best example of the idea he's advancing, which makes
him a sorry proof of his otherwise excellent point. The title is
Crushing Our Better Angels: How
Tribalism & Self-Identity
Force Us to Support Penn State, Herman Cain and Rick Perry
Cute, huh? Penn State and two besieged Republicans automatically belong
together. Is he saying that defenders of Penn State and Paterno are
necessarily Republicans? Noooooooo. He's far more even-handed than
that. He's so even-handed that no one would guess what he finally
reveals in the second to the last paragraph -- "I'm not a Republican."
Well, actually I did guess,
but I can be even-handed, too, and there's much wisdom in what he's
The common narrative today is that we
have lost all faith in our institutions. This is wrong, of course. We
have simply lost faith in those institutions that most bind us together
as one, such as being a citizen or a local newspaper that everyone in
town reads. Instead, we’ve doubled down on those institutions that
allow us to believe we are better than our neighbors. GOP, DNC, Tea
Parties, Occupy Wall Street, alma maters, libertarianism, even churches
whose primary message is that We Are The Good and The Others Will Burn
are all on the rise these days. What all of these institutions have in
common is that they stroke the very core of our ego. Stick with us,
they say, because by being one of us you will be a fundamentally better
person than your neighbor.
And so we join up, and by doing so are rewarded with constant
reassurance that despite whatever our shortcomings may be, We are
better, smarter, and more pure than Them. It’s hard for a message that
powerful and self-affirming not to become a cornerstone of our
self-identity. And in many ways, this message creates positive outcomes
for us. Feeling like you have a grip on life is no small part of being
successful in it. If nothing else, it allows us to feel part of a
community in these days of everything and everyone being so plugged in
The problem is that we humans will go to great lengths of denial to
preserve our own self-identity. And if we have allowed our
self-identity to be wrapped up in the success of people we have never
met, we tend to close our eyes, cover our ears and go “LALALALALA” when
those people slip and fail us.
He cites the examples of Rick Perry's record of crony capitalism,
Herman Cain's repeated story changes about the sexual harassment
charges leveled against him, and the Penn State scandal as instances in
which tribal loyalty inspires the defense of behaviors no one in the
tribe approves of or would accept in other contexts. And I believe he
really is trying to be fair
since he begins the column with his mistaken childhood adulation of
Steve Garvey and also references the Monica Lewinsky scandal:
I saw the very same dynamic with
Democrats, those self-proclaimed protectors of women’s rights, and
Clinton. And I see the exact same thing happening right now with the
GOP [regarding the audience applause for Cain when he was questioned
about the charges in the most recent debate.]
And he's right about Cain:
[A]t each stage of this scandal
breaking Cain has been caught in a lie. First he swore he have never
been formally accused by anyone, ever. Then he claimed that he had been
accused but had not known the outcome – yet still somehow knew no money
had been paid out. Then he admitted there had been money paid out, but
he had no idea how much. Then he admitted to having known that they got
a very, very small amount. Then he bizarrely told his followers that
there were going to be more of these allegations coming to light, and
that they should ignore them. The Republicans have rallied around him
every step of the way...
His bottom line advice is good, too:
The first [step] is to always be
willing to take a step back and audit your beliefs. When someone you
are supporting is being “unfairly crucified” by FOX or the lame stream
media, take a step back and ask yourself: If this was happening to the
other tribe’s team, how would I be reacting right now? If the honest
answer is anything other than “the same,” it might be wise to go back
through all of the facts you had previously dismissed to see if perhaps
you’ve let yourself miss something. More important, though, is this:
Be an advocate for what your tribe stands for, not an advocate for your
I simply don’t believe that there
aren’t a ton of Republicans out there that are very disturbed by what
has transpired with Herman Cain this week...
These people need to speak up; not to the world at large, but to the
members of their tribe. I’m not a Republican, so I can point to the
myriad of things that don’t add up about Cain’s denials all day long
and it’s going to fall on deaf ears. The same way, not incidentally,
that Democrats shrugged off all evidence of Clinton’s pattern of sexual
harassment fifteen years ago. People don’t listen to those outside
their tribe when their self-identity is on the line. But they might be
open to peeking at reality when it’s being presented by one of their
Peeking at reality. I like that. Why I couldn't help wondering why the
article never took a single peek at Obama. Presumably, the tribe of
Obama supporters still believes in transparency, the dismissal of
lobbyists from the corridors of DC power, the end of the kind of crony
capitalism that has this author so disgruntled about Rick Perry, and
the spirit of civil bipartisan problem-solving Obama proclaimed as his
ideal in the 2008 campaign. But somehow the need for self-questioning
by Democrats about the performance of their hero with respect to these
basic tribal values never made it onto the writer's radar. I guess some
realities are too difficult to peek at, let alone examine with a
So I was mulling his problematic essay when I encountered this entry
Why aren’t people totally into
our awesome economic growth?
When something appears inexplicable, it’s best to start by checking
assumptions first. Ylan Mui at the Washington
Post should have taken that advice before reporting on a “rift”
between the supposedly good economic growth an the American state of
A rift is emerging between Americans’
state of mind and the state of the economy.
The economy is getting stronger, with the nation’s gross domestic
product growing at its fastest clip so far this year. The number of new
people signing up for unemployment benefits has steadily declined, and
consumer spending is rising.
But by almost any measure, Americans remain unhappy. Consumer
confidence has plunged to levels last seen during the financial crisis.
A recent Nielsen poll found that nine out of 10 Americans believe the
country is still in a recession. … This persistent pessimism has
So what are the assumptions that lead [sic] [to] this article?
First, Mui implies that the economy is heating up, and that the weekly
initial jobless claims rate indicates a significant improvement that
consumers should notice. Neither are [sic] true...
Ed Morrissey does his usual competent job of explaining exactly why the WAPO claims aren't
true, which is worth reading to be sure but entirely unnecessary. You
don't have to be an economist to know that the economy sucks and that
consumers are unhappy because there's no sign that things are going to
get better anytime soon. When a consumer knows his house probably isn't
worth what he owes on it, he's not going to be elated by decimal
point changes in leading economic indicators. This "has perplexed
economists?" Really? Which economists? Ah. The smart ones.
That's when I finally understood the oxymoron at the heart of the
column I quoted
above. Note that the whole thrust of the essay was about moral issues,
which evidently concern conservatives more than they do liberals, at
least in the sense that liberals regard conservative talk of morality
as hysterical and naive, whereas their own is objective and nuanced
(uh, persiflage designed to sound sensitive). The essence of liberal
tribalism is not moral
but intellectual. The thing they
can't let go of because it's a "cornerstone of their self-identity" is their
rational superiority, the unwavering irrational
conviction that they
are simply smarter than we are. Their obliviousness to the sheer,
obvious awfulness and incompetence of the Obama presidency may be the
biggest blind spot in the history of any American political party. And
think just how much work it
must take to keep from seeing how bad everything is and how much worse
it is getting day by day.
I mean, what kind of mental, er, rational,
did Ylan Mui have to perform in order to write such a piece
of fantastic bilge about the state of the economy? In terms of
intellectual honesty, he's every bit the vandal of the Penn State
students who overturned a TV news van and busted out its windows in
protest of the Paterno firing.
Which is when I had one of those flashes I sometimes have. I flashed
forward to the endorsement editorials we will all be reading in the
fall of 2012 when the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Boston
Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Los Angeles Times the Chicago
Sun-Times, and the San Francisco Mother Jones Daily will soberly
articulate their reasons for recommending Barack Obama over anything
Think about it. It's already a done deal. All those editorials could be
written today and nothing would change between now and then but a few
***** CONTEST!!! *****
So write me one of those editorials. If you don't want to pick a
Republican candidate to beat up on, go with [Generic Republican],
though I don't mind if you put your own favorite into the mix. The
purpose is to do kind of the opposite of what our friendly columnist
advises: put yourself into the minds of the libs who are committed to
reflexively defending the worst president in U.S. history. It will take
some imagination, some sleight of hand, and some artful phrasing.
I can help with an artifact from Shuteye Nation. I wrote an endorsement
editorial well before the 2000 Republican nomination was decided. It
may help you capture the appropriate objective tone. The winning entry
can't sound like Moveon.org. It's got to sound like Moses coming down
from the mountain with his commandments in hand.
March 8, 2000
A Shuteye Times EDITORIAL:
Major Party Endorsements
Yes, the Super Tuesday
primary showdown has come and gone. The results appear to be decisive.
The nominees of the two major parties will be Al Bore and George W.
Bush XIV. The primary for the state served by this newspaper will not
be held for another few weeks, which means local voters have had no
chance to participate in the momentous choices already completed. In
this context, an editorial endorsement of any candidate(s) by the Times
might seem at best irrelevant and at worst arrogant.
Yet we believe we must play
our part in the process, however small that part has been rendered by
the rush of events. As journalists, we must accept the responsibility
that accompanies our constant daily focus on matters of policy,
statecraft, and controversy. We are in a position to offer an informed
and reasoned opinion. We have thus elected to publish our views about
the candidates and to endorse those whom we believe would best serve
the Amerian people, regardless of their chances for victory.
On the side of the
Democratics, there has been a briefly contentious campaign between Vice
Presdent Al Bore and former New Joisey Senator Bill Broadley.
Both have offered thoughtful proposals and plans in areas that
undeniably concern the mass of common people, including health care,
education, racial relations, and social security. In may respects,
therefore, both Bore and Broadley are qualified to occupy the highest
office in the land. Nevertheless, we are persuaded that a basis for
choosing between them does exist. Senator Broadley’s health care
proposal, while containing some positive features, has a crippling
weakness which the Vice Presdent was able to discover: it would
terminate the Medicare program on which many millions of Amerians
depend. This is unacceptable. We therefore find it appropriate to
endorse the candidacy of Al Bore, Vice Presdent of the United States.
With respect to the
Republians, the field of candidates has been considerably larger, and
the tone of the debate far more negative, perhaps to the point of
obscuring both issues and qualifications. However, we have accepted the
obligation to evaluate and choose one of their number. The first cut is
not especially difficult. Candidates Keese and Bowser do not reflect
mainstream views or concerns of the people, and their angry rhetoric on
the Choice issue in particular has made it clear that they lack both
the temperament and the responsiveness to the voice of the people which
are necessary in a Presdent of the United States.
Steve Forbus is similarly lacking in
temperament, and in retrospect, it would seem that the extraordinarily
vicious style of campaigning which has marked the Republian race began
with Forbus’s negative television ads about George W. Bush. For this
reason, we have been compelled to eliminate him from consideration.
Several others appear not to
have been serious candidates from the outset, despite obvious
strengths. Senator Orange Hatch entered the race too late to be a
factor, and former cabinet secretary Liddie Dull appears to have
entered the race too early. We were impressed by both on the merits.
Perhaps they will seek the nomination more ardently in future. Former
Vice Presdent Dan Quail also dropped out early, but he has never been a
serious factor in national politics. (P-O-T-A-T-O. Our apologies. We
couldn’t help it.)
The choice for endorsement
must, then, fall to one of the two remaining Republians, George W. Bush
or John McKane. Like many Amerians, we have been impressed by the story
of John McKane, and by his character and his commitment to campaign
finance reform. Too, we were buoyed by his principled decision some
weeks ago to refrain—unilaterally—from negative campaigning. That is a
precedent which many would do well to follow.
It is sad that George W. Bush
failed to rise to the occasion. His media assault on his rival in South
Carelina and thereafter was unjustified. Unlike some of his adherents,
we are unmoved by the tendered excuse that McKane started the negative
campaigning in the south by comparing Bush to Bill Clitton. We note
that Mr. Clitton is the Presdent of the United States, one who has been
elected to that office twice and who has been approved for his
performance by a majority of voters almost continuously for eight
years. How could such a comparison be interpreted as a mortal insult by
Mr. Bush, who has registered no accomplishment which measures up to
those of Bill Clitton?
Depending on one's
viewpoint, Mr. McKane's statement might be regarded as anything from
ambiguous to incomprehensible, but it cannot be considered vicious. Mr.
Bush must accept responsibility for the low standard of rhetoric which
We have another bone to pick
with Mr. Bush as well. The decision to speak at Bobby Joe University
was indefensible. We sympathize with the millions of Roman Catholics
the wurld over who must be wounded and frightened by his tacit
endorsement of the Bobby Joe policy of religious genocide. And we
cannot in good conscience endorse a candidate who would sell his
integrity and honor so cheaply.
We endorse for the Republian
Presdential nomination Senator John McKane. Perhaps we should have
spoken out earlier. Still, we must draw what comfort we can from the
notion that late is better than never.
Good luck, Mr. Bore. And
good luck, Mr. McKane.
We will, of course, wait
until the fall campaign to publish our endorsement of a candidate in
the general election. As journalists, we can observe no less scrupulous
Pick any newspaper you like. I'll post any that are good. And then we
can discuss what if anything we've learned through the exercise.