I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 17

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Overall: 117-120-3

Last chance to get to .500.  The drive for mediocrity will not be televised!

Jags +1 Browns (loss)
Bears -3 Lions (win)
NE +8 Houston (win)
NYG +9 Minn (loss)
Niners -7 Rams (win)
Atl -2.5 TB (win)
Dallas -3 Philly (win)
GB +3.5 Ariz (win)
Balt -10.5 Oak (loss)
SD -4 Wash (loss)
Tenn -4 Sea (push)
KC +13 Den (win)
Bengals +10 Jets (loss)
Indy -2.5 Buff (loss)
Steelers -2 Miami (win)
Carol -2.5 NO (win)


A full season, picking every NFL game, and I go .500.  There you are.  Me and a coin. 

Karl Rove - Divorce Number 2

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Karl Rove has been on the front lines in the fight to stop gay marriage:

Marriage is a very important part of our culture and our society. If we want to have a hopeful and decent society, we ought to aim for the ideal. And the ideal is that marriage ought to be and should be a union of a man and a woman. And we cannot allow activist judges to overturn that. We cannot allow activist local elected officials to thumb their nose at 5,000 years of human history and determine that marriage is something else.

Last week, Karl Rove got his second divorce. 

Here's my question - for how many of those "5,000 years of human history" has it been acceptable to be twice divorced?

The longstanding claim by conservatives has been that gay marriage would undermine (as homemade porn star/conservative icon Carrie Prejean said) "opposite" marriage.  That straight marriage is devalued by gay marriage. 

2 divorces from Rove.  Imagine how many he'd have if gays were undermining him?

The Weekly Tendown: December 20-26 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009


This is Issue 7 of the Tendown, my weekly look at the very best things that happened in the past week; Last Week, we discussed Bill Moyers, Howard Zinn, gooey butter bars and Snooki getting punched dead in the face on Jersey Shore.  What...what...what do you suppose we'll talk about this week?

First - Putting the Holla! Back in Happy Holidays

I got no gods and ain't no gods coming.  Not yours, not your neighbor's; I am thoroughly disinterested in magic however it's packaged.  O'Reilly would call me a secular progressive; a term which I'm willing to wholly embrace but which he uses to describe all that is wrong with western civilization.

He particularly likes to go on this tear around Christmas, upon which, perhaps you haven't heard, people like me have been fighting a war. 

It's a poorly coordinated war, as the first time I ever heard about it was when Bill O'Reilly told me I was fighting.  One would think I'd start a little lower on the holiday scale; pick on, say Arbor Day, get a couple of wins under my belt, before challenging the big dog.  I'd be a good homecoming opponent for Christmas U.- I pick up good paycheck to refurbish the weight room, Christmas rolls me up like 72-3, standing over my prone defensive backs after another big play taunting "Say my name!  Jesus is the reason for the season!"

It's just not a game I particularly want on my schedule.  Me, I like Christmas.  And had a very nice one this year, which is why it's the very best thing that happened this week.

See?  What's more Christmas than that?  A tree and presents and a dog to keep me away from all of it? 

I am not the enemy of Christmas!  I'm just a guy with a car that still isn't working. 

Look, how is this for terms of a truce - anytime we ever say Happy Holidays, we are implicitly acknowledging that Christmas is, in fact, one of those holidays that we are wishing bring people happiness.  Maybe we don't literally say the word "Christmas" - because to then rattle off a list of holidays (Chanukah, Saturnalia, Freaknik) just isn't very efficient.  But really - Happy Holidays isn't code for "Happy Holidays - unless you're talking about Christmas - then I hope you get hepatitis c" - it really just means, "Happy Holidays." 

And if you'd like to say "Merry Christmas" without it sounding like "You'd Better Bow Down Before My Savior on His Birthday, Bitch." - that'be great too. 

Really, no one's trying to take your religion away.  That's a good thing about having secular progressives as an opponent, we just don't care what you do with your own life.  No - seriously.  Marry ANYBODY YOU WANT.  Go ahead.  It's not a trick.  See?  It's good times.  Have sex with whomever you want, read whatever books you want, sing whatever songs you want - say Merry Christmas all year around.  It's cool. 

Sure, Christmas is really just an alliance of on-your-sleeve religion and conspicuous consumption; the two halves of the Republican Party.  Sometimes that's meant GOP=Abolitionists+Whigs, now that means GOP="climate change deniers" + "CEOs" or GOP="keep Obama's Nazi death panels from killing my Down's Syndrome baby" + "repeal the estate tax forever".  Either way I'm not down, but the State has to worm its way in your head somehow, comrades, and I don't have gods and don't care about our national chants, but I do believe the only way to be worthy of love is to buy presents, so I am sort of stuck with Christmas.  But if there's a war, honest, I didn't start it. 

Good talk.  After the jump - lets see the rest of the best things to happen this holiday week.

The Serial Killer and the Hero.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

There's a photo coming up a little bit later that you may not want to see.  I've written about Michael Vick before but have intentionally avoided putting up any of the photographs introduced into evidence against him.  One of those, just one, is in the middle of this post.  Consider that before going forward.  I'll give you another warning before we get there. 

Each year, every NFL Team selects a recipient of a "courage" award and then from those representatives the NFL picks one player as its good samaritan of the year.

The Philadelphia Eagles, by a unanimous vote of the players, picked Michael Vick this year.

Vick, humbled by this show of appreciation, said this:

I've overcome a lot, more than probably one single individual can handle or bear.

It's too bad all the year end, decade end compilations are in the can - because that's one of the most amazing things I've ever heard an athlete say. 

Meanwhile...criminal profiler Pat Brown, who gets a lot of run on cable news shows I do not watch, said the following about Tiger Woods:

It hasn't been a hidden thing. He got careless.

We see that with serial killers. In the beginning of their serial killing they are careless because they don't know any better. Then they get smart and they're careful. And then they get so arrogant, so used to doing it, they stop paying attention to what they're doing.

I think Tiger's the same way. He got to the point he was doing it so much, he just got more and more careless. He thought he was completely untouchable.

So, there you go.  Mike Vick tortured dogs for years.  He didn't make a mistake.  He didn't get careless one night.  And he wasn't just a bankroll.  He personally, multi-millionaire Michael Vick, tortured dogs at his own hands - over and over and over again.  Here comes the picture.


Mike Vick went to prison.  And after Mike Vick went to prison, he returned to his multi-million dollar job.

Now, that's fine.  I don't need Mike Vick to go back to jail.  And if the Philadelphia Eagles want to pay Mike Vick 1.6 million dollars a year to hold a clipboard, I don't think they should be stopped.  It isn't the world the way I'd draw it up, but I understand the world that is.  If it were me, a college professor with a Bar membership and two graduate degrees and a negative net worth - my career ends with that conviction.  That conviction means I'm an hourly wage earner the rest of my life.  But I understand the world that is.  And although even very smart people like Dave Zirin, people who I would normally agree with, wrote that everyone would get a second chance - the truth is that if Mike Vick had, say, been caught in a compromising position with a 15 year old boy - you would never see him on a football field again and no one would complain he was being persecuted.   

But as we get to 2010, here's where things stand.  Michael Vick has been named the most courageous member of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Michael Vick is able to talk about how much he's overcome, how he's overcome more than "95%" of the population could bear.  It's not just that he's served his time; it's not just that he returns to his multi-million dollar profession - it's that he is officially stamped as a good guy.  It's one thing to say "he's served his time" - it's another thing to say "because he served his time, now he is a hero."  This is a league which bans end zone celebration dances as not consistent with the image it wants to present to the public - but the official personification of courage of the Philadelphia Eagles is a man named such because he no longer tortures dogs.  Those employed to comment on football have historically shown outrage whenever some degree of "sportsmanship" which exists in their minds hasn't been displayed on the field.  There is no invective too strong to be hurled at someone overly gyrating after a touchdown.  And god forbid a prop is used - because that really is what tears at the fabric of civil society.  Ask any NFL fan if TO or Chad Ochocino should ever win his team's good guy award.  Show offs.  Selfish "look at me" show offs. 

T.O. ran to the Cowboy star after all.  Remember?  And that one time he pulled a Sharpie out of his sock!  Outrageous!  And Randy Moss fake mooned the Packer fans!  Joe Buck really let him have it.  Good for you Joe Buck!  Some things are unforgiveable.  Why can't the players today just turn and hand the carcasses of their tortured dogs to the referee after they score like good ole' Barry Sanders?  Now that was a classy dude. 

And Tiger Woods - Tiger Woods is said to share the personally traits with serial killers.

If Tiger Woods were to go away for a year and a half, come back to the tour, not play very much or very well - but at the end of the year win some sort of sportsmanship award, what would be the reaction?  Plug Barry Bonds into that equation too while you're at it.  But Mike Vick said, and I can't re-write it enough:

I've overcome a lot, more than probably one single individual can handle or bear.

That's where we stand at the end of 2009.

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 16

Overall: 110-111-3

SD +3 Tenn (win)
Oak +3 Cleve (loss)
Bengals -13.5 KC (loss)
Texans +3 Miami (win)
Saints -14 TB (loss)
NE -8 Jax (win)
Steelers -2.5 Balt (win)
GB -14 Seattle (win)
Bills +9 Falcons (loss)
NYG -7 Panthers (loss)
Cards -14 StL (win)
Niners -12.5 Lions (win)
Eagles -7 Denver (loss)
Colts -5.5 Jets (loss)
Redskins +7 Dallas (loss)
Vikes -7 Bears (loss)


2009 Athlete of the Year

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Manny Pacquiao.

This was a difficult year, no one demanded to be chosen - I began the year tracking LeBron, as he was a (1) historic player (2) having a historic season, one better by the advanced metric than you're aware - but not making the finals gave an opening to the rest of the field; I had similar thoughts about Pujols, and he wound up maybe a little bit below James when trying to consider their seasons.  Federer (who finished second in the AP, behind Jimmie Johnson, who didn't win an Athlete of the Month from me, but his candidacy is similar to Federer's) had less of a spectacular year and more a good year that culminated a significant achievement. 

And at the end - it left Pacquaio - only the second boxer I've ever chosen (Foreman in '94, one of my weaker decisions).  Like all of the men in the previous paragraph, Pacquiao is historically significant in his sport and had a very good year (maybe Pacquaio's best, certainly the one where he received the most acclaim - this is the first year he's been considered almost by acclamation the best fighter in the world) and he's never won my award before (and Federer has).  

It was close, but I feel good about it.  Pacquaio becomes my 20th Athlete of the Year.  I've listed all of my choices since beginning this continuous process in 1990, but haven't broken them down by month.  I'm considering posting all of that as well, as I have all of the records since January of '90, each monthly winner plus all of the runners up for each month.  I was 19 when this began, in a world with a very limited access to information; I don't want to say some of this choices were terrible, but I was looking at shadows in a cave for several years. 

We'll see how that goes; maybe that happens next week. 

Athlete of the Month - December, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This is my third post of the day.  Don't ever say I didn't give you anything for Christmas, 2009.

Sure, I've already made my Athlete of the Decade post (getting out front of the AP) so my final Athlete of the Month for 2009 may seem superfluous.  But, you know, hey, look over there!

Ndamukong Suh

Runners-up: Mark Ingram, John Wall, Brandon Marshall

That means the 12 nominees for Athlete of the Year, 2009:

Larry Fitzgerald
Santonio Holmes
Maya Moore
LeBron James
Lionel Messi
Roger Federer
Mark Buehrle
Usain Bolt
Drew Brees
Cliff Lee
Manny Pacquiao
Ndamukong Suh

The Athlete of the Year post will be up by the end of the week.

A Reform Bill?

This is from Reuters yesterday. 

Shares of Cigna rose 5.3 percent to $37.69. Shares of Aetna Inc rose 5.84 percent to $34.41. Humana Inc rose 3.79 percent to $45.17 and United Health Group Inc rose 5 percent to $33.14. Shares of Wellpoint Inc rose 3.8 percent to $60.51.

If you're wondering where you should stand on the health care bill - the market has spoken.  It's a good bill for insurance companies. 

And according to Huffington Post, here are the numbers since Joe Lieberman's October 27 promise to join a Republican filibuster of any bill that contained a public option:

Coventry Health Care, Inc. is up 31.6 percent;

CIGNA Corp. is up 29.1 percent;
Aetna Inc. is up 27.1 percent;
WellPoint, Inc. is up 26.6 percent;
UnitedHealth Group Inc. is up 20.5 percent;
Humana Inc. is up 13.6 percent.

Heckuva job.  We've managed to fix health care for the people who matter most - insurance companies. 

1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown: December 13-19 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009


This is the 6th issue of our weekly recap of what's good - The Tendown; I count down the very best things that happened this week.  Last time, I talked about how I wasted my 2008 presidential vote, the Top Chef finale, and my meeting Chris Cornell in an Anthropologie.  Let's see what the very best thing was that happened this week...

1st...The Bill Moyers Journal.

One of the reasons for this blog is my sense that I want some accurate recording of my thoughts.  I'm not sure why that is.  But next year I turn 40, and 2009 is the year my neck began to crackle for no good reason other than now my neck crackles.  A year ago, I had a body where my neck wasn't chronically weird, now I don't. Now, the neck I've had my entire life has a sound effect. Sure, there are probably ways to view that other than it being a harbinger of the long, slow descent to death; and probably other ways to react to the long, slow descent to death than blogging about the derivatives market.  But I occasionally make curious decisions. 

Regardless, Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect said something on this week's Moyers that precisely reflects my current worldview, and its the best thing that happened this week:

I think it's not accidental that the last three Democratic Presidents have been at best corporate Democrats, and one hoped because of the depth and the disgrace of deregulation as an ideology and the practical failure of the Bush presidency, that this was a moment for a clean break.  That even at such a moment, even with an outsider President campaigning on change we can believe in, that Brack Obama has turned out to be who he has been so far is so revealing in terms of the structural undertow that big money represents in this country. 

If there's one element, aside from the right wing referring to the first African-American President as a racist who is trying to bring down the United States, that will be most revealing about American character - it's how quickly we re-embraced the ethos of letting corporate America do anything it wants.  Rewind to September '08 - even the McCain/Palin campaign made noises about Wall St. regulation.  There was a month and a half in this country where you couldn't seriously say "just keep government's hands off everything and let the market take care of itself" without sounding like you were advocating Hoovervilles. The value of sitting on the precipice of global economic collapse was it so clearly put into focus the bankruptcy (pun intended) of a worldview that government's primary job was to get out of the way of business.  Corporate power above all has created a world where we are designed to live in a constant state of anxiety; we have sold our soul to the company store over the past quarter-century, and if there was any time that we'd ever get it back it was now.  That doesn't mean I thought we'd get it back - doesn't mean (to return to last week) that my vote for Obama was an expression of belief in a progressive White House - but in the universe in which we actually live (as opposed to the universe where...who would my ideal ticket be...Bernie Sanders/Blake Lively?) we did step into 2009 with a confluence of factors that, if there was ever any chance to turn around the three decade movement away from economic justice (I think of the United States the way I think of the WWE - I'm stuck with it and occasionally something really nice happens - but it is intentionally booked in a way entirely contrary to what I think is best.  It's not incompetence, although there's plenty of that - we're this way because this is what those entrenched in power want.  I am entirely disposable.  When I break down from my years of heavy courseloads and class sizes, I'll be swept aside no differently than if I worked in a Chicago sausage factory in 1909.  If that means my house is foreclosed, and I have no health care, my screams will not be heard by my government any more than Vince cares that I want to see Bryan Danielson and Low Ki pushed) it would have happened now.

But it did not.  What happened now is what happened now.  And what's going to happen next is worse.   Also from Kuttner on Moyers:

Democracy is the only possible counterweight to concentrated financial power, and ideally that takes a great President rendezvousing with a social movement.  One way or the other there's going to be a social movement, because so many people are hurting.  People are feeling correctly that Wall St. is getting too much and Main St. is getting too little, and if it's not a progressive social movement that articulates frustration and a reform movement, you know the right wing is going to do it and that oughta be scaring us silly.

And I think he's exactly right.  And it's exactly what I want to say right now.  And that's the best thing this week.  After the jump - the rest of the Tendown!

2009-10 College Bowl Picks

Friday, December 18, 2009

During the season, I picked my ten favorite plays each week, virtually all of them I thought were good plays; this is not that, here, I'm picking every game.  Some are better plays than others, but this is more about completion. Good luck

New Mexico: Fresno St. -10.5 Wyoming (loss, off to a helluva start)
St. Petersburg: Rutgers -2.5 UCF (win)
New Orleans: S. Miss -3.5 MTenn St (loss)
                      Under 57.5 (loss)
Las Vegas: Oregon St. -2.5 BYU (loss)
Poinsetta: Cal -3 Utah (loss)
Hawaii: SMU +15.5 Nevada (win)
Little Caesars: Ohio -2.5 Marshall (loss)
Meinke: Pitt -1 UNC (win)
Emerald: USC -7 BC (win)
Music City: Clemson -7.5 UK (win)
Independence: Georgia -7 A&M (win)
Eaglebank: Temple +4 UCLA (Loss)
Champs Sports: Miami -3 Wisconsin (loss)
Humanitarian: BGreen -1.5 Idaho (loss)
Texas: Navy +6.5 Missouri (win)
Holiday: Arizona -1 Nebraska (loss)
Armed Forces: Houston -4.5 AForce (loss)
Sun: Stanford +8 Oklahoma (win)
Insight: Minnesota -2.5 Iowa St (loss)
Chik Fil A: Va Tech -4.5 Tenn (win)
Outback: Auburn -7 Nwestern (loss)
Gator: Fla St. +3 WVA (win)
Capital One: LSU +2.5 Penn St. (win)
Rose: Oregon -3.5 Ohio St. (loss)
Sugar: Cincinnati +13 Florida (loss)
International: NIU +7 SFla (loss)
Papa Johns: UConn +4.5 SCarolina (win)
Cotton: Ole Miss -3 OK St. (win)
Liberty: Arkansas -7.5 ECarolina (loss)
             Under 63.5 (win)
Alamo: TTech -7 Mich St.(win)
Fiesta: Boise +7 TCU (win)
            Under 55 (win)
Orange Iowa +4 Georgia Tech (win)
GMAC: Central Mich -3 Troy (push)
            Under 63 (loss)
National Title: Alabama -4 Texas (win)

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 15

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I'm out of the fantasy playoffs; Roethlisberger/Mendenhall didn't give me anything on Thursday - and then I hit Brandon Marshall and his 32 points. 

I am uneasy about this week and am picking all the favorites. 

Don't believe me? 

Colts -3 Jags (win)
Saints -7.5 Cowboys (loss)
Chiefs -1.5 Browns (loss)
Pats -7 Bills (push)
Cards -12.5 Lions (loss)
Eagles -7.5 Niners (win)
Ravens -11 Bears (win)
Chargers -6.5 Bengals (loss)
Broncos -14 Raiders (loss)
Seahawks -6.5 Bucs (loss)
Steelers -2 Pack (loss)
Titans -3.5 Dolphins (loss)
Jets -6.5 Falcons (loss)
Texans -9.5 Rams (loss)
Vikes -9 Panthers (loss)
NYG -3 Skins (win)

Do with that what you must.


Top 10 Baseball Players of the Decade.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

By WARP3, only regular season is considered.  For an alternate view, see Rob Neyer.

1. Albert Pujols
2. Alex Rodriguez
3. Barry Bonds
4. Mariano Rivera
5. Scott Rolen
6. Carlos Beltran
7. Lance Berkman
8. Johan Santana
9. Jim Edmonds
10. Roy Halladay

Top 10 Films of the Decade

My cinematic involvement is almost entirely limited to US films, which makes this of only limited warrant.  Do with that what you will.  My Top 10 TV Series are right there, those are far more solid at least in terms of my measuring what I like; I just take television more seriously than I take the full cinematic landscape.  I do watch a ton of documentaries. 

1. Adaptation
2. Farenheit 9-11.
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4. Synecdoche, NY.
5. No Country for Old Men
6. Why We Fight
7. Memento
8. The 40 Year Old Virgin
9. Juno
10. Murder on a Sunday Morning/The Staircase

I slid Juno ahead of Lost in Translation, the Dark Knight and There Will Be Blood (which is getting a lot of internet run as best film of the decade; I think I like it where I like it, right off the top ten) Sideways, You Can Count on Me, Bowling for Columbine, Once, and Chuck and Buck are all near misses.  As a crazed Charlie Kauffman fan I'm tempted to put Synecdoche here also and say "Y'all just don't get his delicate genius" - but 2 Kauffman's are enough.  Hey, that makes 20.  I've yet to see any of the 2009 Oscar-bait, so I may amend in 6 months or so.

I amended.  Synecdoche belongs.  Done. 

Top 10 TV Series of the Decade

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The end of the first decade of the 21st century means two things (1) apparently it means even when I pay 1800 dollars to get my car fixed, my car remains not fixed and (2) there will be end of the decade lists.

Already, I've posted my Athlete of the Decade and Wrestling Matches of the Decade.  This is the TV list.

No shows which debuted before the 2000s are eligible, which cuts off Sopranos/Daily Show among others.  Sure, I could have said just the seasons of those shows which aired in the 90s were not eligible, but that's a lot of work for a guy whose car is currently on fire in his school's parking lot. 

But my lady type friend beat jury duty today, so it's not a total loss. 

1. The Shield
-Like an 88 hour long Sophie's Choice.  It's the heir to the Hill St/NYPD line and better than both. 

2. The Wire
-The Wire's more important - if you've never seen an episode my suggestion isn't to start with season one - instead, it's to start with the David Simon appearance on the Bill Moyers Journal from 2009 (I assume it's available at Moyers's site) the Wire's a significant 21st century American document; the Shield is more emotionally satisfying.  They're 1 and 1A in my eyes and seeing them inverted wouldn't shock my conscience. 

3. Arrested Development
-The only thing that kept it from being this decade's Seinfeld is we're dumber than we were in the 90s. 

4. Curb Your Enthusiasm
2000 -
-There are misses; some plotlines/episodes/entire story arcs sometimes have fallen flat. But sometimes Larry David inadvertantly sprays urine tears on a picture of Jesus and the earth caves in with the funny.  The add on to the Seinfeld-verse from this past season elevates it to this spot.

5. Mad Men

2007 -
Hardest show to rank, given how few episodes we have and the radical shift at the end of last season, with some trepidation, I put it here.

6. The Office (UK)
-I don't reflexively think something's funnier because it has a British accent; my view of even Python isn't as elevated as other sketch devotees.  This show was this good. 

7. 30 Rock 
2006 -
-Doesn't seem likely, given Alec's oft stated desire to quit the business and become a sherpa and the enormous weight on Tina that the show will maintain its quality for too many more seasons, but for this decade, it's number 7.

8. Chappelle's Show
-It's better to burn out than to fade away.

9. The Office (US)
2005 -
It feels like The Office has reached its decline phase; I don't think, at this point, it's just lack of buzz, I think we've started to see a creative shortfall after the Parks exodus.

10.. Gilmore Girls
-The poster child, on this list, for decline phase - the last two seasons of GG raise the complication of how to rate episodic television; if I say - give me a list of movies or books - then you're talking about definable works, with a largely singular creative vision - but I'm not sure what a deconstruction of the Simpsons would mean.  You'd have to think of it as having phases - we may be in its blue period right now, for instance.  I want to put Friday Night Lights here instead; I've been going back and forth.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Pardon the Interruption, The Colbert Report, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, How I Met Your Mother would be 12-16 and I think in that order.  The Rachel Maddow Show and Big Love would probably be at the back of the top 20.  I'd have to seriously start thinking reality shows at 17-18.

1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown: December 6 -12 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009


This is issue 5 of my weekly feature here at TBOR - The Tendown - where I count down the very best things that happened over the past week.  In Last Week's Issue, I talked about my mathematically precise dislike for Tim Tebow, Marc Maron's brother's wife-swap, and the grilled chicken wings at Pollo Tropical. 

How did this past week measure up?  Let's go to the Tendown - what was the very best thing that happened this week...

First...A Vote is a Terrible Thing to Waste.

The best thing I read this week was Glenn Greenwald's reaction to Obama's Nobel acceptance speech:

Obama puts a pretty, intellectual, liberal face on some ugly and decidedly illiberal polices. Just as George Bush's Christian-based moralizing let conservatives feel good about America regardless of what it does, Obama's complex and elegiac rhetoric lets many liberals do the same. To red state Republicans, war and its accompanying instruments (secrecy, executive power, indefinite detention) felt so good and right when justified by swaggering, unapologetic toughness and divinely-mandated purpose; to blue state Democrats, all of that feels just as good when justified by academic meditations on "just war" doctrine and when accompanied by poetic expressions of sorrow and reluctance. When you combine the two rhetorical approaches, what you get is what you saw yesterday: a bipartisan embrace of the same policies and ideologies among people with supposedly irreconcilable views of the world.

A friend from grad school and I are in a long running good natured debate over which of us is the more soft.  That's not a reference to my expanding midsection as I near the 40th year of my life; instead it's an historical critique of the radical left.  Karl Marx predicted the inevitably of western revolution; instead, what happened is the working class got bought off.  The rest of the west got health care and paid vacations; in the US, we got  three hundred forty seven different flavors of potato chips (I lean toward kettle cooked BBQ).   

The intellectual leaders of the left were (complicit would be the pejorative term) in the early 20th century; repeatedly backing away from the type of violence which would be required to challenge the legitimacy of western governments in order to earn seats at bargaining tables.  I don't have a rote answer on how favorably this should be viewed; it's easy from the safety of one's notebook to argue living wages and workplace health and safety regulations were small victories when ensuring perpetual enslavement to the corporate state, but if (for example) you're a 65 year old in the United States 80 years ago when senior citizens were the most impoverished group in the country, you'll correctly welcome the creation of the welfare state when it means a Social Security check each month.

People with full bellies don't so much take up arms against their oppressors.

My role in the great struggle is inconsequential.  I'm just an average man, with an average life. I work from 9 to 5, hell how I pay the price.  I'm a leftist; I see both church and state as hegemonic tools; and while I've spent the plurality of my waking hours in my almost 40 years plunged into sports and popular culture, I see all of that too as just the drug I find palatable.  I don't devote my life to invisible guys in the sky - but I do have a 30,000 word piece of wrestling fan fiction.  I don't tear up at displays of nationalism - there isn't a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner or an unfurling of Old Glory that will cause even the slightest lump to form in my throat - but you show me that tape of Joe Montana coming out to play that second half on that Monday night against the Lions in his last game as a Niner and I will sob like nobody's bidness.

It's all bread and circuses, but bread is tasty and I have a giant TV.

Where I had held out was in Presidential politics.   It's no more than an eggshell, but I had drawn the line at supporting political candidates whose views I found to be corporately controlled.  Over the two plus decades that I've been voting, occasionally a Democrat was closely enough aligned to my views that he received my support - but that had never been true for a winning candidate for the Presidency.

(Note the word "winning" - that's true for both primaries and the general election - I did unenthusiastically vote for Dukakis in the general election in '88, and I was even more uneasy about my vote for Kerry in '04).

Last year, I voted for Obama.  My grad school friend did not.  My argument was that it was necessary; that the divide between Republicans and Democrats had grown real (not as real as the public believes, but real) as the American right had pulled to an unrecognizable place that literally threatened the planet's existence.

My eyes were open about Obama, he's a businessman's President, but I did argue the possibility of growth within the office - that like FDR or LBJ, the enormity of his ability to enable some measure of economic justice would manifest in the types of  policies that make softs like me feel we're accomplishing something with our lives.

But a year in, instead what we have is a President who gave a Nobel acceptance speech saying that America's mission is to fight evil using its military.  A speech embraced by Rove, Gingrich, and Sarah Barracuda.  And we have a President who has presided over an enormous money grab by Wall St - one which has the feel of one last round of profit taking before our belly up, but one which, in the second best piece I read this week, Matt Taibbi writes is the same type of institutionalizing of right wing policy domestically as was articulated in the Nobel speech:

The extensive series of loophole-rich financial "reforms" that the Democrats are currently pushing may ultimately do more harm than good. In fact, some parts of the new reforms border on insanity, threatening to vastly amplify Wall Street's political power by institutionalizing the taxpayer's role as a welfare provider for the financial-services industry. At one point in the debate, Obama's top economic advisers demanded the power to award future bailouts without even going to Congress for approval — and without providing taxpayers a single dime in equity on the deals.

And that's what got me this week.  When right wing policies come from right wing mouths, you can retain the argument that there's a possibility of change.  When right wing policies come from perceived left wing mouths, then they become normalized, embedded - they marginalize opposition, move it outside of what we allow as debate in our country.  Our national debate isn't going to change for the next three years - it's going to be "is Obama too liberal" - so the degree to which his right wing foreign and domestic policies become attached in the public mind to the Democrats, the further and further and further away from my preferred version of the United States we become.  Maybe the only way not to waste my vote is to vote for a candidate who can't win. 

On that discouraging note.  After the jump - the Ten Next Best Things that happened this week!

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 14

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Win and I'm in the fantasy football playoffs - and a decision has to be made right now - Roethlisberger or Flacco?  It's a weather motivated conundrum; if not for the weather in Cleveland I'd just say Ben.  But I think I have the advantage with my matchup, and a fairly certain moderate game from Flacco may be worth passing up Ben's upside to avoid a TD free windswept evening.  I haven't decided.  I'm leaning Ben.  Fortune favoring the brave and whatnot; generally, I avoid gripping about the weather. (edit - well, that was error)

First week without the burden of winning college games (19 over .500 the final total for the regular season, 5 over .500 in my weekly locks, and a contest win that will probably find its way into this week's Tendown) so now we're headed over .500 for good in the NFL.

(unrelated - Dear Brian, please sign Nick Johnson.  Thank you.)

Steelers -10 Browns (loss)
Saints -9 Falcons (loss)
GB -3 Chicago (win)
NYJ -3 TB (win)
Jax -3 Miami (loss)
Ravens -13.5 Detroit (win)
Houston -6 Seattle (win)
Indy -7 Denver (win)
Buffalo over KC (win)
Vikes -6.5 Bengals (win)
NE -13.5 Panthers (loss)
Wash -1 Oakland (win)
Titans -13 Rams (win)
SD +3 Dallas (win)
NYG -1 Eagles (loss)
Niners +3.5 Cards (win)


More Fox Math

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The best part, of course, is the content of the poll in which the numbers add up to 120%. 

Keep hope alive, Fox!  Don't let those...what do you call them...facts get in your way. 

!st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown: Nov 29-Dec 5 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Welcome to issue 4 of the Tendown, my Countdown of the very best things that happened in the culture this week; last week, I talked about Sam sending Diane a telegram on the last epsiode of Cheers 16 1/2 years ago, so I'm clearly trying to keep things current.  Let me put my Bell Biv Devoe cassette in my boom box (I don't ever trust a big butt and a smile.  Ronald Bivens is very wise) and start the Tendown!

1st....Kirk Hiner Hates Madonna

Not more than a couple years after Sam wrote that telegram, I began my fruitless internet writing career; one of my very first essays was entitled Kirk Hiner Hates Madonna, explaining (with benefit of an X/Y axis) that it wasn't jealousy or shadenfreude which leads to our sometimes seemingly outsized dislike of particular public figures, that instead it's the distance of the level of acclaim they receive from the level of acclaim we perceive they deserve.  Kirk Hiner had a passionate dislike of Madonna twenty years ago; mentioning her in his presence would have brought forth a torrent of furious invective.  Today, I'm guessing he views her the way all right thinking people do.  As the finest, sexiest, most talented woman who ever lived. 

Last night, the biggest roar during the SEC Championship game took place when the above screen capture was shown on the jumbo video board - the moment when Tim Tebow cried. 

That roar was matched by the one coming from my house.  And that's because Jim Jividen Hates Tim Tebow.

Scott Van Pelt and Michael Wilbon, in their separate ESPN platforms, considered the issue of the Tebow backlash this week; SVP (talented, but exposed in the daily radio format) concluded that the reason people (like me) dislike Tebow is because there's no reason to dislike him, and that drives people crazy; Wilbon (more talented and less exposed) with the PTI topic clock ticking, said if you meet Tebow for 30 seconds you can't help but love the guy and any other opinion is not worth considering.

They're wrong.  I hate Tim Tebow because as opposed to looking at him as Chris Weinke or Gino Torretta or Tommie Frazier or Charlie Ward - the discussion about Tebow has been "is he the greatest college football player who ever lived" and is he the finest man alive?

A year ago, in the national title game that Florida won't be returning to, Fox play-by-play man Thom Brennaman not only said "if you're fortunate enough to spend five minutes or 20 minutes around Tim Tebow, your life is better for it," but followed that up by saying that a prior claim by an Oklahoma cornerback that Tebow would be the 4th best QB in the Big 12 was "probably the most ridiculous thing ever said," and that a subsequent unsportsmanlike conduct penalty given to Tebow was "the first thing he's ever done wrong."  Last night, even as Florida was taking a terrific beating from the Crimson Tide (and more importantly for my purposes, was far away from covering that pretty clearly Tebow-inflated 5 1/2 pt spread) the game narrative focused on the guts and glory and heart and determination and all that's masculine and right about America in a Tim Tebow shaped box.  With 11 minutes left and trailing by three scores, Gary Danielson noted that if Tebow could muster up the fortitude to bring his team back (Tebow had, after all, been giving his defense a stirring sideline speech not long before, and as the sports media decided a year ago, the power of his words alone can move men to greatness) he would be the slam dunk Heisman winner (my Heisman ballot (1) Ndamukong Suh (2) Toby Gerhart (3) Mark Ingram).  The thrust and effect of the game story was entirely wrapped up in how it impacts Tebow, not unlike the way every Brett Favre game has been analyzed since 1998, and it always reminds me of a Kids in the Hall sketch in which Scott played a French whore, constantly rhapsodizing about an unseen man named Tony "wondering where he could be, who is he with, what is he thinking, is he thinking of me, and whether he'll ever return someday."  I expect there will be a Florida Gator game next season where the announcer will approximate something along those lines and then shudder with orgasm.

The Sports Media Industrial Complex wants to remove from Tim Tebow the burden of his self-confessed virginity is my point.  He's had a terrific career, probably isn't much of a pro prospect, and likes to talk about Jesus a whole lot; everything beyond that is excessive, and it's everything beyond that which is why his tears got cheers.  Especially from my house. 

After the jump - the Rest of the Best Things to Happen This Week.

And Not a Moment Too Soon - Week 14 College Football Picks

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Just a Weekly Five this week as we end the regular season.  I will pick every bowl game.
Houston -2.5 ECarolina (loss)
West Virginia + 1.5 Rutgers (win)
Alabama +5.5 Florida (win)
UConn -7 SFlorida (loss)
Wisconsin -12.5 Hawaii (win)

Final Regular Season: 76-57-2
Final Locks: 9-4

You could do worse. 

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 13

Overall: 86-88-2

I'm coming off my strongest week of the year and hoping to nudge my way into the black by year's end.  Fantasy wise, I'm in the playoff hunt in one league, Seattle deciding to split carries between Forsett and Jones is good for my real team (go Niners!) but probably means I sit Forsett for Jacobs, and that (along with the Roethlisberger/Flacco choice I have to make) puts me in a hard spot in a must win game. 

Jets -3 Bills (win)
Broncos -5 KC (win)
Steelers -14 Raiders (loss)
Jags over Texans (win)
Niners over Seahawks (loss)
Dolphins +6.5 Patriots (win)
Carolina -6.5 TB (win)
Bears -9 Rams (win)
Colts -7 Titans (win)
Bengals -13 Lions (loss)
Saints -9.5 Redskins (loss)
Falcons +5.5 Eagles (loss)
Chargers -13 Browns (loss)
NYG +2.5 Dallas (win)
Minn -6.5 Arizona (loss)
Pack -3 Ravens (win)


Athlete of the Decade - Tiger Woods

Runners-Up (1) Barry Bonds (2) Roger Federer (3) Peyton Manning (4) Lance Armstrong

The public, says this piece by a "senior writer" from SI, "will never look at Tiger Woods quite the same way," because he's lost his "image as a good guy."

Tiger Woods is no worse than the second greatest golfer who ever lived; his level of dominance makes him (in a close call over all of the runners-up, a good argument could be made for any of them) the Athlete of the Decade.  But apparently, that isn't enough accomplishment to maintain his image in the face of all that sex.

Unlike the chaste, one woman man who received SI's Sportsman of the Year Award just this week:

"It was that combination of on- and off-field achievement that helped make Jeter this year's Sportsman. Said Sports Illustrated Group Editor Terry McDonell, "Derek Jeter has always presented himself with class; he does numerous good works for the community with his Turn 2 Foundation, which is one of the most efficient, effective foundations of its kind; and he's extremely generous with not just his money but with his time, which in many cases is more valuable. He also had another signature year on the field."

Do a search for Derek Jeter's girlfriends.  It's no wonder the guy is a hundred fifty fielding runs below position for his career, dude's got better things to do with his hands. 

Other than Tiger's wife, it's unclear to me why a member of Sports Illustrated's "public" would view Tiger as no longer a "good guy" but Cap'n Jetes as "classy", but the things that bother others, I am aware, don't much concern me.   Tiger Woods's marriage doesn't belong to me.  The contours of his relationship with his wife are good gossipy entertainment; he gets sent through the same news cycle that spun Dave Letterman around earlier in the year, but the degree of their achievements dwarfs a momentary unflattering snapshot. 

I'm pretty confident in that.  Tiger has a lot of equity, and presumably, many more years on the stage; my assumption is that in most ways, this week becomes a footnote. 

Not for his wife.  But we aren't her. 

I've never cheated in a relationship, but, as Chris Rock said about ten years ago "men are only as faithful as their options."  And I don't have Tiger's options.  You give me all the money in the world and make me Athlete of the Decade, I'd hope I'd be able to keep my promises, but the experience of being Tiger Woods, of having that be your life in no way bears any resemblance to the experience of living my life; to say I wouldn't be frantically leaving voicemails to women from Tool Academy is entirely wishcasting. 

We used to understand this.   Men who have the ability to do so enjoy sex with multiple women.  If you don't know a married man who has had an affair you're being lied to.  I'm not saying it covers men in glory that we are this way, not saying it should be celebrated; I'm just saying it's so. 

One of my pet theories of longstanding is that Clinton was able to muster up so much visible anger in his finger pointing denial "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" because he was angry.  Not angry that he was being falsely accused - but angry because he was being accused at all.  My reading was that what he felt inside, what he could not say was "Wait...this is a thing?  This?  How many Presidents do you think didn't have sexual relations with some woman they weren't married to?  Not just US Presidents...Bank Presidents.  School Board Presidents.  Presidents of charitable organizations.  It ain't all - but it's more who do than don't."

I felt the same way about Barry Bonds, who grew up in clubhouses, who watched the legends of the 60s and 70s survive on all manner of amphetamine and pain killer and then joined the legends of the 80s, 90s, and this decade who added steroids to that diet.  "Of course I take drugs.  I've been taking drugs since junior high.  That's how this works.  You're children." 

If you're bothered that Tiger Woods didn't live up to a vow he made to a person who is not you, you know, okay, I guess.  But let's not pretend it makes him unique.  In fact, I think it more likely that, if people are bothered, it's by the common quality of it all.  It's not Tiger Woods and Marissa Miller; it's Tiger Woods and someone from the Rock of Love bus; it's Tiger Woods horny and stupid.  He's just like us.  He's Eldrick.

Because we don't want him to be just like us.  We loathe us.  He's one of the chosen people.  The rich, the famous, the people who matter to us.  Our royalty. Too good for our awful mortgages and crappy health care.  Too good for our stifling dead end corporate jobs, for our scary, alcoholic racist neighbors, too good to be just another one of the lies we're sold - God - Country - Tiger.  We know we're screwed.  Just marking time in our little, inconsequential lives, eating our ice cream and watching CSI, working 7 days a week with no possible hope of escaping the fate of dropping dead one day at our desk.  It's not that we live in a glass house and judge Tiger for his cheating in a way we never would - we hear that voicemail and read those texts and think of him bleeding, running away from his wife and think "shit - he ain't Tiger, he's me."

And being us ain't worth being for a man with as many options as Tiger Woods has. 

Me, I don't care about any of that.  Tiger's the Athlete of the Decade.  Not a single text message he could ever send that would change that.  He can run through the entire VH-1 stable of reality shows; he can bang Antonio Sabato's ex-wife and Lorenzo Lamas's daughter and the Kardaashian sister they keep doped up on thorazine and locked in the basement.  Wouldn't change the way I thought about him at all.  Tiger's not my husband or my babysitter.  He's the Athlete of the Decade.  That's plenty. 

Quick Afghanistan Take -

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tonight Obama, who I voted for and probably you did too, becomes LBJ without the Great Society. 

There really was a political way out:  "We can't afford it." 

Somehow, Democrats never understand the "we can't afford it" objection resonates with the public whenever the Republicans make it about a social program.  There shouldn't have been a single Democratic objection to either war over the past decade that didn't begin with the phrase, "Well, first of all, we can't afford it."  And now, a year into an Administration that does not have an exit strategy for double digit unemployment, we're about to escalate by 30,000 US troop involvement in Afghanistan. 

We can't afford it. 

According to the Cato Institute, the 2010 Pentagon budget (which doesn't assume additional money for this escalation) means "every man, woman and child in the United States will spend more than $2,700 on (defense) programs and agencies next year."

When you consider the escalation, that makes one year of the defense budget the equivalent of ten years of health care

Why is that a good tradeoff?

We are, as I've written previously, in a period of rapidly unlearning what took generations to understand (that would be the title of my book: The Unlearning).  The difference between Obama and LBJ is LBJ didn't have a Vietnam to look back upon.  When Obama announces this troop escalation tonight, what I will see is the equivalent of that Republican Presidential debate when the candidates raised their hands to indicate they didn't believe in evolution. 

A decade of trillion dollar wars and tax cuts for the wealthy - a quarter century of deregulation on banking and corporate America has left our cupboard bare.  One out of every 8 Americans and 1 out of every 4 American children is currently on food stamps.

That's socialized food.  Probably a Nazi/Muslim/Communist plot.

1 in 4 kids.  Right now.  Today. 

And right now, today, we're about to escalate our involvement in an absolutely unwinnable Afghanistan.

We can't afford it. 

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