The Weekly Tendown March 27-April 2 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dear Internet:

Here's Tendown 70.

During my week between quarters, I went with my Lady Type Friend on our third anniversary to see Kathy Griffin in concert.

1. Kathy Griffin!
She has weaknesses; she doesn't craft bits particularly well, largely the laughs come from teasing revelatory celebrity gossip; she's neither particularly insightful nor artful.

That said - I'm a good sized fan, what she has crafted is a tv persona where it feels like something is happening when she's on the air; and I can't offhand think of anyone else in 2011 who feels like that.  Television that anesthetizes makes me sad.  And I enjoy her vibe; a year ago I saw Seinfeld; I bow to few men in their enjoyment of Jerry Seinfeld - his set was certainly better crafted - but, here's an example - Seinfeld's pre-show music was Sinatra; I think he came out (actually, Larry Miller, who was his opener) to My Way.

Kathy Griffin's pre-show music was Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Money Can't Buy You Class.  And the Countess is way more my vibe than The Chairman of the Board.

She also did two full hours, which is a lot of jokes about Dionne Warwick's crack habit.  

Louis CK is exponentially funnier, but I'm not sure I enjoy too many comedians more than Kathy Griffin.  She seems like good people.

2. There's No Good Reason Not to See Best Worst Movie

I watched two good documentaries this week; Client 9 about Eliot Spitzer (I did not know that Ashley Dupre, who got a ton of mainstream run for being Spitzer's girl, actually only saw him once) and Best Worst Movie, about the cult phenomenon surrounding the late 80s film Troll 2.

If you haven't seen Best Worst Movie, you almost certainly should, even though as a film, it's just okay.

Either you are really familiar with the Troll 2 thing, in which case, seeing the actors today and watching how each engages with their twenty year old film emerging as a cult hit is interesting.

Or (like me) you missed this entire story - and if so, you really should watch the documentary, as you'll wonder how you missed out.

I also watched a rerun of How I Met Your Mother this week, which included a character from Ohio making a reference to Big Chuck and Little John.  Here's why I like HIMYM - they didn't explain the joke.  The percentage of their audience who have any idea what the reference meant is supersmall - but not only did they tell the joke, they told it just for that percentage.  That's insightful about HIMYM; more than most sitcoms, it will make references to previous episodes, have long running really inside jokes - and rarely feel the need to explain.  Presumably, that discourages new viewers, and I also like that - a show that isn't a monster hit intentionally leaving a little bit of money on the table for the benefit of their longstanding fans.

And I watched graps.  Here's the 4 star wrestling matches I saw this week.  All from January.

Yamato v. Yoshino 4 1/2 (DGUSA)
Devitt v.Ibushi 4 1/2 (NJ)
Sekimoto v. Hidaka 4 1/4 (Zero1)
Kaz v. Minoru Tanaka 4 1/4 (AJ)
Yoshino/Pac v. CIMA/DKid 4 (DGUSA)
Yoshino/Pac v. Ricochet/Doi 4 (DGUSA)
Low Ki v. Davey 4 1/4 (PWG)
Claudio v. Generico 4 (PWG)
Ibushi/Omega v. Devitt/Taguchi 4 (CMLL)
Go v. Nakamura 4 (NJ)

My 2011 match of the year post is here.

3. Count Two
An interesting aspect of Client 9 was the distinction between Spitzer (who had to resign in disgrace) and Republican Senator David Vitter, who built a career on conservative Christian moralizing, got caught patronizing prostitutes, and still - right now - is in the US Senate.

The difference is the justice department got involved in Spitzer's case and left Vitter alone.

The US government engages in selective prosecution; as seen this week in San Francisco.

The best analysis of the status of The People of the United States v. A Baseball Player Who Hit Too Many Home Runs is here.:

Steve Hoskins and Dr. Arthur Ting failed as witnesses for the prosecution
Though he initially seemed to possess intimate knowledge of Bonds' personal and professional life and though he portrayed Bonds as keenly interested in steroids, Steve Hoskins proved highly vulnerable under cross-examination, particularly in regards to his credibility and motivations. His rationale for secretly taping a conversation with Anderson drew intense fire, as Hoskins made the recording after Bonds had largely terminated his business relationship with him. Jurors will likely have doubts about relying on comments by Steve Hoskins to convict Bonds.

Ting proved to be the worst witness for the government, by far. For at least three reasons, Ting seemed more like a witness for the defense than for the prosecution: he emphasized that he never spoke with Bonds about steroids; he highlighted non-steroid explanations for possible changes in Bonds' body; and he adamantly denied testimony by fellow prosecution witness Steve Hoskins, who had claimed that he and Ting discussed steroids. By the end of his testimony, Ting probably left jurors with serious doubts about the government's case against Bonds and about prosecutors' wisdom in calling him to the stand.

Bonds's biggest problem is probably not with what you think the trial is about - you think the trial is about Barry lying about taking steroids; the government was not able to produce a single witness to say he saw Barry Bonds take steroids.  Not one.  The government brought other people to the stand who took steroids.  The government presented evidence that Barry acted like someone who took steroids.  But with not a single person saying "I saw this happen" it's hard to get a conviction (one assumes).  And that doesn't even get to the issues of (1) what Barry believed a "steroid" to be at the time he said he hadn't taken them; or (2) if he could have forgotten the act of taking them - perjury isn't being wrong, not even being really, really, really dumbly wrong - it's about knowingly telling an untruth (and having the federal government not give you the chance to amend the record following your testimony, a not uncommon practice when they aren't just looking for a way to get you for perjury; and then spent 6 years and fifty million dollars trying to put you in jail when the head of Balco himself only did 4 months.).

Barry's biggest problem is count 2.  Once again - here's the piece.

Kathy Hoskins, the former personal shopper of Bonds and the sister of Steve Hoskins, carefully explained how she watched Anderson inject Bonds in the navel during the 2002 season. She came across as believable, normal and someone with whom jurors could likely identify. Her memory also appeared strong, especially when she recalled specific comments purportedly made by Bonds. While defense attorneys tried to link her with Steve Hoskins, whose business relationship with Bonds soured and who struggled on the stand earlier in the week, Kathy Hoskins emerged from cross examination as credible and without apparent ill-motive.

If the jury believes Kathy Hoskins with absolute certainty, it would be poised to find Bonds guilty on Count Two of the government's indictment. As explained in our previous coverage, Count Two simply requires prosecutors to prove that Bonds was injected by Anderson and that Bonds knowingly lied in 2003 when stating, under oath, that no such injection ever took place.

Because Barry didn't just say he never took steroids - he also said Greg Anderson never injected him at all; and even then - even then - the government couldn't produce a single witness to say otherwise - until they did, who said she saw it happen one time.

One isn't many times.  Possible to forget that one time.  But hard to establish that without taking the stand, and obviously Bonds won't be doing that.

Count 2 is a concern.

4. Until You Hit Your Monthly Limit..

If you're still under 20 articles this month, you can read Krugman. Important to understand the essential Republican plan to juice the economy.  He's quoting here directly - directly from a report two weeks ago from Republican congressmen.

"A smaller government work force increases the available supply of educated, skilled workers for private firms, thus lowering labor costs.”

Dropping the euphemisms, what this says is that by increasing unemployment, particularly of “educated, skilled workers” — in case you’re wondering, that mainly means schoolteachers — we can drive down wages, which would encourage hiring.

Krugman's piece discusses why this doesn't work - and that's fine - but take a moment to consider what it is they are actually saying.

Let's fire government workers.  So they have to go out and get corporate jobs.
And corporations won't have to pay them that much because of the glut of people looking for jobs.

That's Republican economics.  Get as many workers as possible to fight over a few jobs so business can maximize profit.  It's why they don't like unions.  Or the minimum wage.  Or, apparently, child labor laws.

(Seriously, they're going after child labor laws, take a look at the link)

Or social security, of course. Or universal health care.

They want us, you and me, to have as little protection as possible - as little security as possible.  If children can work for below the minimum wage - that's a job that doesn't need to go to an adult.  If we can keep your health care tied to your job - that means you'll never rock the boat at work.  Keep people on a subsistence edge, deep in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and they just won't have the time to recognize it's bankers and not immigrants who are taking their money.

As long as there are sweatshops on the planet - American corporations will seek to lower labor costs - and as long as you have a day off, as long as you're making a wage upon which you can live - as long as you are living long enough to collect Social Security - there's still a way to lower your cost to your employer and the Republicans will look to make that way possible.  GE made 14 billion in profit in 2010 and is asking its employees for wage concessions.

  You do not matter; only the corporation matters; and the Republicans will teach you to love it.  Teach you that anything else is socialism and that has been proven not to work.  Teach you that anything else is anti-American.   And if you can't unlearn what you know about the world - if you can't unlearn that the Progressive Era was a good thing, that the New Deal was a good thing, that Civil rights was a progressive movement that fought against the right wing, that the Great Society lowered poverty to a level unseen before or since - if you can't unlearn that the left (as opposed to the Democrats) has been on the side of both justice and practicality for the balance of US history -

Then maybe your kids will.

5. Meanwhile, in Florida
I tried for a couple of weeks to recount the goings on down in Florida, where I live, and which now has a state government completely controlled by tea party Republicans.

But literally ever day came a story crazier than the previous - all welfare recipients required to take random drug tests they pay for themselves, perhaps through the governor's private drug testing company; privatizing all of the prisons in Miami; ending tenure for college professors.  Every day, a little more bananas fall from the trees in Tallahassee.

If you live down here, or want to know why I'd move were I able, here you go.

6. Who Has the Most Liberal Fans In the Majors?

Your World Champion San Francisco Giants. 

The most conservative?  Texas.

You're welcome.  Glad to do my part.

I don't know if this is why a Giants fan got nearly beaten to death at Dodger Stadium.

7. Did You Miss Any of My Stuff?
I wrote every day this week.

March Athlete of the Month
The 10 Best Players in Baseball History
My Baseball Predictions.
My Wrestlemania preview.
Counterfactual Wrestlemania 26.

Could be something there works for you.

8. Remember - The Right Wing Does Not Believe in Small Government.
Maddow hit a favorite Tendown theme this week. 

9. The Dumbass Thing Newt Gingrich Said This Week

Is there even a way to get to a reasonable thought here? 

"I have two grandchildren -- Maggie is 11, Robert is 9," Gingrich said at a church in Texas, according to Politico. "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

10. The Strangest Thing I Saw This Week.

Vin Scully and the Honky Tonk Man.  They are both cool, cocky, and bad.

That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time.  If there is a next time...

Your pal,


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