1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown: Jan 31-Feb 6 2010 Super Sized Edition

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dear Internet,

Hi.  I'm Jim and this is the SuperSized 13th issue of The Weekly Tendown; last week, I talked about Obama slapping around some Republican congressmen, Tim Tebow not being so good at football, the conviction of Scott Roeder, and the end of Better off Ted.  What - what do you suppose we'll talk about this week?

              First: If Sugar's Bad For You, Why Did Jesus Make It Taste So Good?

Daily Kos, this week, commissioned a poll of self identified Republicans, among the results:

39% say Obama should be impeached
63% say Obama is a socialist
24% say Obama wants the terrorists to win
31% say Obama is a racist who hates white people
23% say their state should secede from the US
73% say openly gay people should not be allowed to teach in public schools
77% say the book of Genesis should be taught in public schools
31% say contraceptives should be outlawed

O'Reilly hit the poll for being biased, without explaining how it was the poll was methodologically flawed - but that's not the beef I'll pick with Bill - watch the clip - why would it be that Bill O'Reilly would criticize these findings?

Republicans think Obama's a socialist.  Republicans believe Obama's a racist.  Republicans believe Obama is on the side of the terrorists.

Now, why ever would they think such things?  Well, it took me all of five seconds to google Glenn Beck + socialism and come up with nearly 2 million hits, including this from last month where he took Julian Bond's correctly referring to Martin Luther King as a "critic of capitalism" and deduced that meant both King and Obama were "radical socialists" (it's telling that Simple Jack equates anything short of full throated laissez faire with radical socialism, and telling that, as literally every industrialized country on the planet has a more advanced social welfare state than we do - that as opposed to then associating "radical socialism" with, well, the normal behavior of everyone else for most of the past hundred years, he just pins it on totalitarian regimes and Democrats) - Beck's criticism of MLK Day as having replaced Washington and Lincoln's Birthdays didn't make any news cycle, which is testament to it being a drop in the deluge of "Obama is a socialist" talk that rains from the right.

While I'm picking on Simple Jack, here he is saying Obama's a "racist" who "hates white people."

And here's Limbaugh calling Obama "the greatest living example of a reverse racist."

Here's Hannity's studio audience voting that Obama should be tried for treason.

I wonder where anyone could have gotten the idea that Fox News endorses those viewpoints?

Hell, just this week Tom Tancredo opened up the Teabagger Convention by standing in a hotel in Nashville, Tennessee and saying that the reason the first African-American President in US history was elected was because we don't have literacy tests at the polls.

No, seriously.  But if the Daily Kos has a poll asking Republicans "should we bring back literacy tests as a qualification to vote' - and 43% say yes - O'Reilly will say the left is just making up stuff again. 

This element has been able to stay under the wire, but Parks and Recreation has been able to sneak in a progressive message or two this season; this week in a town hall meeting over the decision to privatize the snack concession at the city parks came the following citizen comment, "if sugar's bad for you, why did Jesus make it taste so good."

Those arguments, the volume of those arguments, and more importantly the corporate dollars which benefit from those arguments were able to carry the day in Pawnee, but they aren't a comedic construction - that's the level of debate from the right to which we've been subjected since the election of the first African American President in US History (and the first Democrat from above the Mason-Dixon Line elected since JFK).  Just this week, Simple Jack offered the following erudite deconstruction of the President's psyche:

He chose to use his name Barack for a reason -- to identify, not with America -- you don't take the name Barack to identify with America. You take the name Barack to identify with what? Your heritage? The heritage, maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical?

They're not serious minded people making serious minded concerns, they're McCarthy-ite hacks looking to line their pockets with the dollars of the faithful and they create a hermetically sealed world in which conservatives are pounded with:

Democrats intentionally caused the financial crisis.

The Haiti earthquake is made to order for Obama

And everyone is told to bend over and grab their ankles for one reason or another.

And that's just Limbaugh. 

There is a not small number of Republicans who believe this country has two political parties - Real Americans and Communists - and any chance we get to see that in its full flourish is a truth we need to face. 

That's the best thing from this week - after the jump - the rest of the Tendown
And Ten:

1. The GOAT Goes to the Hall of Fame

The greatest football player who ever lived is going to the Hall of Fame.   His NFL Network shot immediately following the announcement of his election was good.  Steve Young was there, which seemed odd given that he works for the other channel and NFL Network has a ton of analysts - but they were all in jail, apparently. 

Yay to Jerry Rice.  Anytime they want to put some Niners in the Hall of Fame, I'm down.

Rice Records:

Touchdowns (208), receiving TDs (197), receiving TDs in a season (22), consecutive games with a TD reception (13), TDs in Super Bowls (8), receiving TDs in a single Super Bowl (3) and postseason TDs (22).

Receptions (1,549), consecutive games with a reception (274), receptions in Super Bowls (33) and postseason receptions (151).

Receiving yards (22,895), receiving yards in a season (1,848), receiving yards in Super Bowls (589), receiving yards in a Super Bowl (215), postseason receiving yards (2,245) and seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving (14).

2. First Time Caller, Long Time Listener
-My lady type friend was in NYC all week, leaving me on dogsitting duty with time to catch up on some 2009 sports movies, More Than Just a Game, a good enough documentary on LeBron's high school team, and Big Fan with Patton Oswald as a New York Giant fan with no discernable identity outside of his being a caller to sports talk radio. 

It's okay to watch, the world will keep turning either way - but Big Fan led to my thinking about Steve Bartman.

I'm projecting a little bit here, but I think the worst thing about being Steve Bartman isn't the scorn of his neighbors.  That's certainly diminished by now, and, of course, Bartman wasn't to blame, really in any way at all, for the Cubs collapse in the 2003 NLCS.

But I know, if it were me, I'd blame myself - and if much of your self identity is tied to a particular team to the point where you feel a real love for that team - it must be heartbreaking to feel as if you were responsible for their failure.  In Big Fan, Oswald is attacked at a nightclub by his favorite player, beaten really savagely - but not only refuses to sue or press charges - he returns to his sportstalk persona to defend the player's actions against other callers.  I have literally no degree of magical thinking; anytime I find myself with any thought in my head not supported by reasoned and critical reflection I look to banish it - but if you strap me to a lie detector and ask "Are you, in any way, morally blameworthy for the outcome of Game 6 of the 2002 World Series" I would only be telling the truth if I said yes - because when Dusty lifted Ortiz in the 7th, I moved from watching the game upstairs in my bedroom to watching it downstairs in the living room, as that's where I wanted to be to watch the final out.  Like Dusty, who gave what he clearly assumed was going to be the WS winning ball to Ortiz as he walked off the mound - in my mind, I decided our 5-0 lead with 8 outs to go was going to hold up.  It did not and, in my brain's smallest possible closet, I cannot erase the childish notion that I let up at the crucial moment and it cost my club the best chance it has ever had, in over a half century of existence, to win the World Series.

It wasn't Bartman's fault, but maybe in his head it was, and I just feel badly for the dude.

3. Who I Don't Feel Badly For.
But I don't feel badly for me; my Giants have never won a World Series and I don't believe we ever will - but I did get 5 Super Bowls, and still feel pretty far ahead in my sports fan debt to equity ratio.  I'm a lifelong listener of sports radio, in 1996 I won a contest on Ron Barr's syndicate program that earned me a baseball autographed by, among others, Barry Sanders.  I still recall my first ever call to a sports radio show - I was 12, it was to Bob Trumpy, hosting the drive time show on WLW in Cincinnati.  Trumpy was offering what was then mainstream wisdom about the upcoming NFL Draft - that prima donna spoiled athlete (ready for this...) John Elway was an example of everything that was wrong with modern sports as he was trying to engineer his way from being picked first by the Baltimore Colts. 

Yes, that's right.  I've been taking the same positions from back when sports analysts were talking about John Elway as if he was the antithesis of all that is good and decent about professional sports.  Yes, they were taking the corporate/management/establishmentarian position and I was taking the worker's rights/individualist position.  Yes.  I am, if nothing else, consistent. 

I haven't made an uninvited call to a sports talk show since '96, but I still listen; through podcasts while I'm otherwise online, mainly - but still listen. And this week, from radio row - Joe and Dwight (yes, you should know to whom I'm referring) did multiple shows together. Here they are on Dan Patrick. (at about the 7:00 mark).  You can find them here (and Ronnie too) on KNBR.  I also heard them on Mike&Mike and Colin Cowherd.  I have issues. 

4. And While We're Talking About Me
My Super Bowl post from Thursday is here.  My list of the Top 100 Wrestlers in the World from Tuesday is here. They're both good enough to read if you care about that sort of thing.  And I was on TV twice this week as ESPN Classic finished airing season one of 2 Minute Drill.  It's entirely possible, as now we're a decade plus removed from that season, that this will be the final airing of the program.  The money's gone, or will be once we reach the end of my home ownership previously written about in BizarroDown, but my inability to pronounce Mosi Tatupu's name correctly remains in perpetuity.  Oh, and my man Lane cleaned up on the recruiting trail (even getting a 13 year old)  Fight On!

5. Heckuva Pick, Brownie
Sometime early in the week, I had the idea to organize the Tendown around Super Bowl MVPs v. Presidents matchups (because Obama is the 44th President and this is the 44th Super Bowl)

And then, Friday night, I found this. Son of a bitch.  I should have planned better for this.  Go there, it's where you want to go.  He beat me to it.  Grrrrrrr.  But I decided to plow my way through it anyway.  Because even though I'm teaching 8 courses, trying to sell my house, buy a car and coordinate moving two households into one - I feel a need to bury myself in more work.  Least you can do is read it.  This is why I called this SuperSized.  It's a bit of a haul.

Here's how I'd analyze the 44 matchups, I'll note where my outcome is different than the one given on that dude's site, to which you should still go.  Grrr....

1. Washington v. SB1 Pack v. Chiefs - Winner: Washington
-Both more important for where they stood historically than for their content - but Washington wins because SB1 was not recognized at the time as of real moment; it wasn't seen by the men involved as the embarking of a cataclysmic event - but the origin of the United States was not like that; those involved saw themselves as doing great things - things of moment - things of import.  The stakes weren't just high in retrospect like SB1; they were high at the time.  Washington wins.  Plus, he would tie his men to a tree and beat them when they threatened to desert during the War, and I'm pretty sure Lombardi did the same thing to Paul Hornung.  Washington wins.  Presidents 1-0

2. Adams v. SB2 Pack v. Raiders - Winner: SB2 (the site picked Adams)
-SB2 was a dog game, but it continued to establish the greatness of the dynastic Packers - Adams was a failed Presidency; he supported the Alien and Sedition Acts which made it a crime to criticize, well, Adams (freedom of speech, despite looking nice in the Bill of Rights, wasn't enforced the way we think of it until the 20th century; think of all the supression of corporate ideas which must have occurred before then) and was the only President in the first 5 not to win election to a second term.   SB2 wins. Tied.

3. Jefferson v. SB3 Jets v. Colts - Winner: SB3 (the site picked Jefferson)
-Incredibly difficult, just incredibly difficult.  The Louisiana Purchase transformed the nature of the country, both in size and in the use of government in that fashion (Marbury v. Madison also takes place during the Jefferson Administration - but that really worked in opposition to Jeffersonian beliefs) but the Embargo Acts were a pretty good fail; if I was evaluating the totality of Jefferson's career, he'd win based on the Declaration of Independence and the articulation of the separation of church and state (and dude created his own Bible by ripping apart all of the elements of magic, as Jesus as mortal philosopher was the only element he could sign off on).  But SB3 transformed the Super Bowl - the AFL win turned it from what was basically just a souped up world title game into the Super Bowl; further, Namath's guarantee and the firestorm it creates is not only the template for the modern day Super Bowl hype week, but also ushers in the modern athlete into professional football, and the modern athlete v. the establishment is the throughline of my entire sports narrative.  Jefferson finished 7th on the CSPAN ranking of Presidents, but, oh man...SB3 wins.  Super Bowls 2-1

4. Madison v. SB4: Chiefs v. Vikes -Winner Madison (site picked the game)
-Another hard call, SB4 is a forgettable game outside of Kansas City and most of Madison's accomplishments are pre-Administration, as the primary architect of the Constitution.  But he served two terms and while the War of 1812 ended in a draw - it did lead to the first peace with England in 40 years, peace that remains today.  Let's go Madison in a nailbiter over the mic'd up Stram. Tied.

5. Monroe v. SB5: Colts v. Cowboys -Winner: Monroe
-SB5 was probably the worst of the SBs, low scoring and plagued by turnovers, just a sloppy, feckless game - Monroe wasn't lots better, the Monroe Doctrine is jingoistic and would be used as pretext for American intervention in Latin America later in the century, the Missouri Compromise came in 1820 which was patchwork on the fundamental structural flaw in the country, the cancer of slavery.  But 11 turnovers!  11 turnovers is an epic fail, no one would call an 11 turnover game the Era of Good Feelings.  So it's an easy win for Monroe.  3-2

6. JQ Adams v. SB6: Cowboys v. Doplphins - Winner: SB 6 (site picked Adams)
-Largely harmless, Adams and his dad are the only one term Presidents in the first 7; his Administration's a fail - SB6 is just for Cowboy fans, I've got Staubach's performance as the 18th best by a QB in SB history and that provides the edge for the game.  Tied

7. Jackson v. SB7: Dolphins v. Redskins - Winner: Jackson
-Jackson was a populist, his Administration the origin of the modern Democratic Party - and that cuts both ways; his supporters included non-property owners, as the American political system began to be opened up to those beyond the wealthiest - but with that populism came a campaign predicated on anti-intellectualism, came Indian Removal, came the defiance of Worcester v. Georgia when the Supreme Court restricted Georgia's power to have jurisdiction over tribal lands and Jackson supported Georgia's refusal to follow that decision.  But he was able to back South Carolina down in the Nullification Crisis and fought the Bank of the United States explicitly due to its concentrating wealth in too many hands.  SB7 had Garo Yepremian throwing that pass.  Now, we'd think that, as the culimination of the perfect Dolphins season it would have an epic feel - but the Dolphins opponents that season had a .367 winning percentage and they were not viewed as a monster champion.  Jackson is far from perfect, but he takes it.  4-3

8. Van Buren v. SB8: Dolphins v. Vikes - Winner SB8 (site picked MVB, this is clear error)
Van Buren got hit with the Panic of '37 and was unable (to be fair, largely for reasons beyond his office) to respond - his Administration was crippled from the outset.  Similar to SB2, the game is largely just important for reflecting the dominance of the Fish, winning back to back titles. I've got Griese's game here as the 28th best in SB QB history (passer rating of 110.1) and that beats MVB, who CSPAN ranks as the 31st best President ever.  Tied

9. Harrison v. SB9: Steelers v. Vikes - Winner SB9
Harrison served a dozen days and died.  SB9 went the full 60 minutes and a couple of the Steelers steroid laden offensive lineman are still with us. That's enough.  Super Bowls 5-4

10. Tyler v. SB10: Steelers v. Cowboys - Winner SB10
Tyler was the first Manifest Destiny President; states rights - pro-slavery, let's take Texas from Mexico and make it a slave state to increase the power of the slaveholding south.  He's a full on bad guy.  CSPAN has him 35th.  SB X was the first Steeler/Cowboy game with Swann making those catches.  I've got Bradshaw's game as the 15th best QB performance in SB history, and this was the Steelers best team of the run, I've got them the 9th best team in SB history.  This one's a blowout.  Super Bowls 6-4 

11. Polk v. SB11: Raiders v. Vikes - Winner SB 11 (site went Polk, and for the same reasons I pick against him)
Polk invaded Mexico.  We started the Mexican American War solely for expansionist reasons, to kill Mexicans and take their stuff.  Manifest Destiny was the politics of the day and Polk ran with it - he also nearly caused a war with England when we fought over Oregon's borders with Canada.  We forced a sale from Mexico of half a million square miles of territory and the only reason we didn't take all of Mexico was a desire not to incorporate their population into our country.  The Raiders won SB11.  Only guy who got hurt there was Tarkenton.  The only Spot Resolutions requested were to determine If Old Man Willie Brown stepped out of bounds on that pick. Super Bowls 7-4

12. Taylor v. SB12: Cowboys v. Broncos - Winner SB12 (site went Taylor)
Taylor got run over by Henry Clay in the slave debate, he was opposed to the Compromise of 1850 which included vigorous Fugitive Slave Act enforcement, which is a point in his favor, but he didn't have the political strength to stop it.  The Broncos got run over by a similarly evil force - the Dallas Cowboys.  You'd want either side to put up a better fight - but Taylor's fight killed him and Craig Morton went on to live a fruitful and productive life.  I'll take the game and now it's Super Bowls 8-4

13. Fillmore v. SB13: Steelers v. Cowboys - Winner SB13
Fillmore, like Taylor before him, was impotent in trying to navigate all sides of the slave issue; SB13 was a terrific game, Bradshaw's performance was the 8th best by a SB QB (and Staubach was 23rd, he and Bradshaw both had QB ratings over 100 and was the second best QB'd game in SB history).  Another blowout.  Super Bowls 9-4

14. Pierce v. SB14: Steelers v. Rams - Winner SB14
Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which furthered our march to war and spent his term trying to get Cuba from Spain to serve as a slave colony.  As the country was being torn apart by slavery - American presidency furthered that tearing with their explicitly expansionist policies. CSPAN has him 40th. The Steelers concluded their empire building by taking out the upstart Rams.  Another beating.  Super Bowls 10-4

15. Buchanan v. SB15: Raiders v. Eagles - Winner SB15 (the site may have picked Buchanan)
Dred Scott was decided in Buchanan's term, and it was a decision he played a role in generating, as he believed it would give him political cover in the slavery debate.  He was also after whom the school in Welcome Back Kotter was named.  For that, CSPAN has him ranked last and Epstein's mother wrote a note to get him excused from class.  Plunkett had the 5th best QB'd SB ever here, he had a rating of 145 with 12+yards/attempt.  The Greatness of the Rai-ders.  Super Bowls 11-4

16. Lincoln v. SB16: Niners v. Bengals - Winner: Lincoln
Aw, hell.  This game is no fun anymore.  Look, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, which is wrong - and was moved by circumstance into the equal rights position he wound up taking.  But, you know, considering the context of the surrounding Presidents, the guy that saved the Union and ended slavery is ranked first by CSPAN for a reason.  16 is my Niners; it's the Goal Line Stand!  This is the toughest matchup since #3, but, with malice toward none and chairty to all, I turn to the better angels of my nature and pick Abe.  I'm sorry.  I don't like making this pick.  I want to stop writing now. Tendown makes me sad. Super Bowls 11-5

17. Johnson v. SB17: Redksins v. Dolphins - Winner SB17
I hate SB 17.  The strike was that year, and I was coming off my Niners winning the year before (and the other Bay Area team, who I also rooted for, winning the year before that - I even liked the Steelers in the late 70s when picking between Steelers and Cowboys which it felt like all mankind was required to do from my elementary school perspective, so for me the Super Bowl was just nothing but cream cheese) and I just disliked the whole Thiesmann/Riggins/Hogs thing.  But Johnson got impeached and while it was political, his lack of interest in the moral force of Reconstruction set the template for the next 70 years of Presidential disinterest in racial issues.  Hey, slavery was over - what else do you want from us?  If you wanted to identify with America, why do you decide to be Black?  Super Bowls 12-5

18. Grant v. SB18: Raiders v. Redksins - Winner SB18 (site went Grant - this has to be a hidden anti-Raider bias, much like the Hall of Fame)
Grant's Administration was the forerunner for the corrupt Presidency with numerous scandals; there's been an upward revision of Grant's effectiveness in recent scholarship (getting us through the Panic of '73, maintaining Reconstruction) - but SB18 is Marcus Allen slicing through the Redskins defense.  Close your eyes, you can see it right now.  Hells yeah.  For a Trojan fan with a secondary attachment to the Raiders, Marcus Allen was my favorite non-Niner ever; I rooted for him from the time he was Charles White's blocking back. And my Niners got screwed in the NFC Championship on a phantom pass interference call. And I didn't like the Redskins.  And I won a ton of cash taking the Radiers plus 3, like 20 bucks, my biggest score ever as a 13 year old sports fan.  Easy win. Super Bowls 13-5.

19. Hayes v. SB19: Niners v. Dolphins - Winner SB19
The biggest mismatch yet.  Hayes was nicknamed Rutherfraud as his election was part of a deal to end Reconstruction which began the period of segregation in the south (which Tom Tancredo apparently laments the passing of, given his stated wish for the return of literacy tests) and SB19 is my favorite SB ever.  It's like picking among your children (I assume) trying to pick which of the 5 Niner SB is my favorite - but there was a lot of Marino press in the run up to this one, Joe slid in the mind of the mainstream sports media into second place - and it was so much fun to win going away a game that everyone said would be a nailbiter.  Also, pregame included OJ Simpson predicting a surprise bustout performance from Roger Craig - and its that on the nose prognostication for which the Juice is now best known.  Probably my age at the time (14) plays the biggest determining factor in this - but this is probably the Niner team I had the most emotional attachment to.  Incredibly underappreciated historically - I have this team second among all SB teams in NFL history and Joe's game here the 4th best performance.  Super Bowls 14-5

20. Garfield v. SB20 - Bears v. Pats - Winner: SB20 (site picked Garfield)
Garfield was the second President assassinated in office.  And he loved lasagne.  The Bears are my pick as the greatest NFL team of all time, and that seems to be consensus (or at least plural) opinion; this game was, well, you know what the game was - but I thought the criticism of Super Bowls as bad games in this stretch was always error, that we were seeing some historic teams (back to back, the Niners and Bears went 18-1, I think they're the two best football teams ever) and watching the Bears be historic far outstrips Garfield's six months in office.  This isn't close.  Super Bowls 15-5.

21. Arthur v. SB21- NYG v. Broncos - Winner: Arthur (site picked the game - an upset from Jividen)
Okay - Phil Simms was 22 of 25, and I have that as the third best SB QB performance ever, and it's Elways first SB, so that's something too.  And CSPAN has Arthur rated 32nd - but here again is where context matters - the Giants were a clear step backward from the all time great teams the previous two seasons - whereas in this Presidential desert, each one more pointless than the previous - here's Arthur backing the passing of the Pendleton Act, working to lower the tariff and modernizing the navy.  He isn't ending Reconstruction or getting impeached or getting shot or enjoying the fruits of the Gilded Age - he signed the Pendleton Act!  It's Arthur! Like Dudley Moore!  Who didn't love them some Dudley Moore!  Super Bowls 15-6

22. Cleveland v. SB22 - Redksins v. Broncos - Winner: SB
Cleveland had a largely pointless first term, Haymarket Square was 1886; we're in the Gilded Age and there's growing worker resenment of the exploitation by the monied classes and Cleveland's pro-business but largely staying out of the way.  Meanwhile, its the football game that suddenly gets progressive as Doug Williams wins the MVP and the Redskins for all I know still might be scoring in the second quarter.  A blowout.  16-6, Super Bowls.

23. BHarrison v. SB23 - Niners v. Bengals - Winner - SB
The only single second, in all of the Niners five Super Bowls, where I didn't think we were going to win was when the Bengals ran that kick back.  We had not played well, Steve Wallace got knocked out in the first series and our offensive rhythm was never replaced.  But you know what happened; Jerry had 200+ yards receiving and JT caught the game winner just before the gun.  My single favorite SB moment.  Harrison signed the Sherman Act, which he supported - theoretically it could have been used to bust up trusts - instead it wound up as an anti-union act in practice; it wasn't until the passage of the Clayton Act that Congress was able to really get serious about regulating business.  'Member Jerry on that last drive?  Just carving the Bengal secondary up?  Bill's last game - Bill's last game!  Niners.  Goddamn right.  17-6

24. Cleveland, Part 2 v. SB 24 Niners v. Broncos - Winner - SB (site picked Cleveland)
Cleveland stood full on with the dying Gilded Age, he responded to the Panic of '93 (which closed 600 banks, we had 20% unemployment, there were marches on Washington) by breaking the Pullman Strike, ordering troops to Chicago and locking up Eugue Debs.  It was a battle between exactly the type of laissez faire that Fox News says if we try to move away from we're socialist - and workers trying to assert their human rights.  There's nothing about laissez faire required by democracy - too many Americans think of business and the military as the securers of their freedom and prosperity - but a hundred twenty years ago, in the factories, in the streets, in the fields - Americans stood up to the machine.  Many of them got squashed, squashed by Cleveland here, but they paved the way for change.  Speaking of squashed...55 TO 10!!  SUCK ON IT BRONCOS!  SUCK ON IT!!  The most dominant performance in SB history, maybe the most dominant team sport championship performance in the past half century. 18-6.  

25. McKinley v. SB25 - NYG v. Bills - Winner - McKinley (site went SB, as will everyone else but me)
This is my least favorite Super Bowl; I really thought up until the second the NFC Title game ended that the Niners were about to win their 3rd straight - and it felt like a death, Joe got knocked out, effectively ending his Niner career - Roger fumbled - effectively ending his Niner career - it happened so lightning fast that it was the most devastating football loss of my life; I don't think there's a close second (and the Raiders lost to Buffalo like 49-3 earlier in the day).  And it was Gulf War SB - so there was the Whitney Houston National Anthem and all the flag waving - and I was (correctly, 'cause we're still goddamn there) completely opposed to that war - seeing it as expansionist...sort of like the Spanish American War when McKinley invaded Cuba on behalf of United Fruit.  McKinley's no prize, he conflated god and war just like the Super Bowl did, but I didn't have to watch McKinley alone on my couch for 3 hours on a Sunday night my junior year of undergrad.  Hated it.  18-7

26. TRoosevelt v. SB26 - Redksins v. Bills - Winner - Roosevelt
Teddy's overrated.  He was expansionist, he busted up fewer trusts than Taft, he permitted the growth of US Steel, and his understanding of conservation of land was more about land use than it was land preservation.  He's 4th on the CSPAN list and would be lower on mine - but he supported the Hepburn Act and in his second term (the way Presidents sometimes do) more loudly proclaimed the need to reign in business; it's a mistake to think of TR as really "progressive" - but in context, he was still Teddy Roosevelt.  And Mark Rypien beat the Bills in 26, so it's not much of a game.  2 straight for the Presidents and its 18-8.

27. Taft v. SB27 - Cowboys v. Bills - Winner: Taft (I've forgotten, I assume the site picked the game)
3 straight for the Presidents - Taft's a little underrated, he broke up more trusts than did Roosevelt, but not nearly as much as the now growing progessive movement wanted him to break - but too much for the pro-business crowd.  Whether it was Payne-Aldrich (pro business) or Mann-Elkins (pro regulation) Taft took political hits as he tried to navigate the issue.  But he supported the 8 hour day, worked for laws regulating the railroads, and supported what would become the graduated income tax.  The game's just another Buffalo loss.  It's Taft and it's not that close.  18-9

28. Wilson v. SB28 - Cowboys v. Bills - Winner: Wilson
Wilson's as overrated as TR; racist, more pro business than Taft (and more than the version of Teddy who ran against Wilson in 1912, calling for sweeping regulation of business) - that was the tenor of the election of 1912 - which one of the 3 candidates could put forth a more progressive platform; that's how the US responded to the excesses of the first Gilded Age - the economic collapse of 2009 could well have been viewed as the end of the second Gilded Age - but there is no progressive movement - there has been a massive, unprecedented, really, wealth transfer to the banks - there's been a huge corporate crackdown that seems to have stopped health reform - the oligarchy has its own tv news network that has served to create a new Know-Nothingism for a new millennium.  In many ways - the future looked brighter in 1912 than it will look in 2012.  We got the Federal Reserve and the Clayton Act, the Farm Loan Act - Brandeis on the Supreme Court - workman's comp, child labor laws, and Wilson supported women's suffrage.  WWI is a black mark - but he's only up against the 4th straight Buffalo loss, each one uglier than the previous.  Easy win for the Presidents and now its 18-10.

29. Harding v. SB29 - Niners v. Chargers - Winner: SB
-Harding ranked 38th in the CSPAN poll, there's no one who doesn't consider his Presidency a disaster.  Meanwhile, I attended pregame festivities in Miami, winning a trivia contest and getting to call "the Catch" in an NFL Films booth - my Niners were favored by 18.5 - I gave the points, gave 2 and a half touchdowns in the Super Bowl - did it heavily and did it without breaking a sweat and covered.  I think the Niners will win again one day, but 15 years later this marked the end of the dynasty.  19-10. 

30. Coolidge v. SB30 - Cowboys v. Steelers - Winner SB
Like Harding before and Hoover after, Coolidge was part of the laissez faire Republican rollback from what was perceived as Progressive Era excess - regulations were vetoed or muted - corporations felt untethered in their speculative investing and lending - and you know what's coming in 1929.  Capitalism's best friend is regulation - Fox News doesn't understand that - but the thing that kept the United States from really becoming an actual European style socialist country with a strong and vibrant social welfare program is that regulations were placed on business that were sufficient to pacify the anger that came out of the Gilded Age - and then would come again after the Depression (the Wars helped do both of those things also).  Coolidge sucks - and this, the last Dallas win of the era, wasn't a great game - but I liked the number and successfully took the Steelers getting 13.5 which makes it a win for football.  20-10.

31. Hoover v. SB31 - Packers v. Pats - Winner SB
I don't like Brett Favre, as I've written before, but, you know - Hoover's initial response to the Great Depression was that the government had no role to play in assistance, that it was more of a matter for charities.  Reluctantly, I go with the Pack.  21-10.

32. FDR v. SB32 - Broncos v. Pack - Winner - FDR
Come on. It's FDR.  TVA, NRA, AAA, CCC, WPA, NLRA, Social Security, Eleanor speaking out for women and blacks, the only worthwhile war we fought since the revolution.  On the other hand - Terrell Davis.  21-11

33. Truman v. SB33 - Broncos v. Falcons - Winner - SB (site went Truman, as will everyone else including me if I keep thinking about it)
This is hard; Truman was, to that date, the best President for Civil Rights other than Lincoln; he desegregated the military and started the Committe for Civil Rights; he helped rebuild Europe and he vetoed the pro business Taft-Hartley but had it overriden - Truman stood against Congress as they attempted tax cuts for the wealthy (taxes were enormously high, but that's what built the country post WW2 - the next time someone talks about the greatest generation coming home from the war and building the country - the answer is they could do that because we used to recognize taxes are how you pay for things).  Truman's ranked 5th by the CSPAN poll and understandably so - on the other hand - Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the start of the Cold War.  I went with Jackson despite the Trail of Tears - I went with TR and Wilson and didn't even mention internment with FDR or slavery with all of our founding father presidents, I am looking through the eyes of white western male privilege and don't deny it - but Hiroshima (and especially Nagasaki) is where I'm drawing the moral line.  It's got to be someplace. Elway won his second Super Bowl here.  I really disliked the game.  But its SB 22-11

34. Ike v. SB34 - Rams v. Titans - Winner: Ike (site went the other way)
Great finish, with the Titans comeback on StLouis falling short at the gun.  And Ike's got both Korea and Vietnam and was slow to act on Civil Rights.  But eventually he helped enforce Brown v. Board of Ed., and he coined the term military industrial complex, which, after hegemony is probably the concept that best explains the United States in 2010.  22-12

35. JFK v. SB35 - Ravens v. Titans - Winner: Kennedy
Kennedy's 6th by the CSPAN poll and he's overrated - he escalated Vietnam and crawled on Civil Rights until he got near the end - but he didn't act as power looking to suppress the movements below the way Nixon would just a few years later - the civil rights, womens rights, and anti-War movements begin to coalesce at the end - and the most progressive government institution in our history, the Warren Court, really works in full flourish without any JFK interference.  And goddamn was that Ravens/Giants game boring.  22-13.

36. LBJ v. SB36 - Pats v. Rams - Winner: LBJ (site mistakenly went the other way)
LBJ's got Vietnam, Vietnam was bad and Vietnam took him down - but he was maybe our best ever domestic President - Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Great Society, War on Poverty - the high water mark of economic justice in the history of this country occurs under LBJ.  Vietnam is bad, and the Pats dynasty starts - but Medicare wins this one easily 22-14.

37. Nixon v. SB 37 - Bucs v. Raiders - Winner: Nixon (What????)
I invested solidly on the Raiders in this game, I made some of it back by a wishful flier on Jerry scoring a TD (which he did, late) but it was the most wrong I had ever been about a title game.  Yes- Nixon had Vietnam and he was the authoritarian crackback on all of the progressive movements that I'm in favor of.  Oh - and Watergate.  Yeah, I know, Nixon's a bad guy.  Except he had the EPA, and affirmative action, and didn't look to gut the gains made in the War on Poverty - domestically, we have not had a more progressive President than Richard Nixon since Richard Nixon.  Yes, I know, I know - he's Nixon - I agree.  But Jerry Rice lost the Super Bowl to a team from Tampa Bay.  It's close - but you don't get to kick Dick Nixon around in this one.  22-15.

38. Ford v. SB38 Pats v. Panthers - Winner: SB
Ford had stagflation - SB38 had Brady and Delhomme throwing the ball all over the damn yard.  I have Delhomme's losing performance as the 11th best QB SB game ever.  Back and forth and a FG at the gun.  Easy win for the game.  23-15

39. Carter v. SB39 Pats v. Eagles - Winner: SB
Carter had the Camp David accords but a lot of dead Indonesians under our propping up Suharto would question his pro-peace bonafides.  Things did not go well for Carter.  The game was hot - TO on one leg lighting up the Patriots - but it was Brady's best SB (and the last one I got right, taking Philly +7) and an easy win for the game. 24-15.

40. Reagan v. SB40: Steelers v. Seahawks - Winner SB (site disagreed, it's not close for me)
The death of the United States can be traced back to Reagan - one of the reasons I didn't kill Nixon was because he wasn't Reagan.  Deregulation, supply side economics, the embrace of conservative Christianity, the erosion of civil liberties and the social safety net - those are all the elements that have gone into our 3 decade slide. Reagan would be on a very short list for most destructive men in American history.  The Super Bowl was probably fixed.  25-15

41. GHW Bush v. SB41: Colts v. Bears - Winner: SB
Bush the first signed the ADA, but he was largely Reagan's third term, all of the harms began 8 years earlier continued under Bush and he also brought us the occupation of the Middle East that has helped bankrupt our country and engendered fanatical anti-American passion among much of the rest of the world.  Peyton Manning did not play well in his first shot at a SB, but won over a crummy Chicago squad in a forgettable game. 26-15

42. Clinton v. SB42: NYG v. Pats - Winner SB
Great finish, obviously - and historically important - even with the loss I have this 18-1 Patriot team as the third best in SB history; it's what you want the SB to be - and Clinton was not without some domestic successes - but what he mainly did was complete the rebranding of the Democrats as our second corporate party - it's a mistake to ever look at the Democrats and see fire breathing leftists - but Clinton, with NAFTA, welfare reform, continued deregulation - really just was an effective Republican presidency - the wealthy got crazywealthy under Clinton, he was a businessman's best friend - and while I don't care who blew him, his sex scandal gave the Republicans cover to today's date - if you were to put the top 5 answers on the board and asked a random family playing the Feud, "name a President who lied" - Clinton is probably the top answer on the board.  Weapons of Mass Destruction doesn't have the resonance of "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." - even in his second term, a term when historically those predisposed to moving left were able to - Clinton never broke ranks from his monied masters.  I'ma  registered Democrat, Clinton is the only successful Democratic President of my lifetime - but he isn't close here.  SB 27-15

43. GW Bush v. SB43 Steelers v. Cards - Winner: SB43
A good game - at least from Harrison's hundred yard return on - Warner had the 12th best SB QB performance; we got a late TD pass and much excitement was had.  CSPAN has Bush as our 36th best President and he is massively overrated at that number; the only other two term President within 10 slots of him is Nixon at 27th - when you're looking at "worst" you don't just pick WH Harrison who served a dozen days; he wasn't harmful, just irrelevant - I was as good a President as Tippecanoe.  Bush is the worst President we've ever had, maybe the worst western leader there's ever been - he isn't competing with Super Bowls, we're entering a universe where he's competing with science fiction villains and characters from Norse mythology.  The site hasn't picked the game yet, but it's not much of a contest.  SB 28-15

44. Obama v. SB44: TBD
Gun to my head - there are 7 more years of the Obama Administration and we are far, far from determining his success or failure.  The football game kicks off in 22 hours as I write this (or is now over by the time most of you are reading this; incredible how I got it so right!  How did I know about Robert Meachem?)

So, that's every Super Bowl v. Every American President.  Unsurprisingly, the less ugly and bloated of the two institutions wins. 

If you aren't going to read my SB post, I'll shorthand it for you.  I'm picking the Colts to win, but the Saints to cover.

And I'm rooting for the Saints, largely because I don't want to see Peyton Manning win another title, as it will raise his historical profile and I'm in the Joe Montana protection business.  But this week gave me additional reasons to root for the Saints - Scott Fujita of the Saints discussed being both pro-choice and pro gay rights.  There is a real dearth of progressive voices in sports, particularly on issues that rub up against the conservative Christian orthodoxy that pervades locker rooms, so hearing an athlete on media day voice unpopular views, particularly in a climate where unpopular views can put you in the Fox News crosshairs, makes me feel good about the Saints.  Also, Sean Payton borrowed a page from Niners lore and dressed as a bellhop to greet the team as they arrived in Miami.  Anyone smart enough to pay homage to Bill Walsh before the first Super Bowl in his franchise's history is working hard to get my vote.  And Michael Brown, of FEMA fame, picked the Colts.:

                                           I've just never been a real Saints fan.

You don't say.  Heckuva pick there, Brownie.

Go Saints!  (at least, don't lose by more than 5 1/2). 

6. I Have the Weirdest Boner Right Now
That's not my sharing more than you'd like to know - that's from this week's Community, I believe its best episode - and the point where as opposed to thinking about Community as a good enough show that you can watch because it's also on Thursdays - you can think of it as fitting in with the rest of the lineup.  I even liked Chevy this week.  The best line, incidentally, of any of the NBC comedies was (shockingly) from 30 Rock.  Jan Hooks invites Alec Baldwin to a party, asking him to "wear something nice, like a pair of white jeans and a Dan Marino jersey."

7. Five Women, Ten Vaginas.
Again, still not oversharing.  That was an episode of Tyra this week.  Yes, it is what you think it was about.  No, I did not watch it.  Yes, I could not resist including the title after the boner reference.  Yes, I'm 39 years old.  Yes, there is a woman who enjoys spending time with me.  Yes, she is a bit out of my league.  No, you shouldn't tell her. 

8. Snow!  Snow!  Snow!

My lady type friend got out of New York before the Snowpocalypse shut down the entire eastern seaboard.  Not only is that a good break - but it also reminds me that I have not seen snow in 15 years.

For those of you not similarly situated - you have the worse end of the deal.  I've now spent about 2/3 of my life on the coasts and the middle third of my life in Ohio - I can, without any hesitation whatsoever, say that living where it snows is just too hard to do.  Whatever tradeoff you may enjoy from living where it snows is not worth it.  If there exists a circumstance which would cause me to ever again live where it snows, it does not presently occur to me. 

9. A Little On the Nose

Three websites whose URLs don't attempt to hide the ball at all caught my attention this week.  Take a look.

10. The Most Watched Trial on Court TV since OJ
Steven Tyler might sue Joe Perry to keep him from hiring Billy Idol.  What's a better 80's story than that?

Thus concludes a Tendown probably longer than the next half dozen I'll write combined, given the nature of my schedule.  I'll be back next time...if there is a next time.

Your pal,



Blog said...

What about VPs vs SB losers?

Mark said...

My favourite Tendown to date. I've learned a lot about American history in the last day and a half reading this. For that, I'm very appreciative.

And yes, I did take a day and a half to read it. I'm a very leisurely reader.

Jim said...

Thanks. It took a day and a half to write, unfortunately, without any leisure involved, so it'll be the last post of that gravity for the foreseeable future

Kirk said...

I appreciate the idea that Super Bowl XL was possibly fixed, but unless the NFL is now taking the "Holocaust never happened" approach, I think you've got a typo there.

Seriously, it's not a stretch to believe that books will soon be released stating that Pittsburgh beat Philadelphia in Super Bowl XL, and you know, computers and all, our helmet totem will eventually be replaced by the Eagle wing. And within a decade, the idea that the Seahawks ever made it to the Super Bowl will be as ridiculous a notion of the Falcons having made it. Like THAT would ever happen.

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