Sunday, January 31, 2010

Anti-sprot hype

Yes, it's probowl day and nobody seems to notice, which is a a good thing. I think exhibition games are a waste no matter what the sport. Well, except NASCAR.

But a strange thing is happening. America is suddenly pretending that it cares about winter sports. There's alpine skiing on Universal, figure skating on NBC, bobsledding on Speed Chanel, and moguls on Versus. It can only mean one thing: the Olympics are two weeks away.

Every two years. I love this. :)

Friday, January 29, 2010


Although Schumer (whom I like) and Mayor Bloomberg (who at this point I don't like) both support moving the trial of 9/11 conspirators out of lower Manhattan, I think it's a terrible idea. To do so would be a cowardly retreat both from justice and from the terrorists. To borrow language from the Bush administration, to move the trial now would be letting the terrorists win.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pot meet kettle

On Outside the Lines yesterday, ESPN, investigating the Gilbert Arenas/Javaris Crittenton fight, took a serious look at the culture of gambling in the NBA, and whether or not gambling should be banned on team facilities (the fight in question, which lead to guns being drawn, was over a gambling debt from a poker game on the team plane). Bob Ley, the host, at one point asked "is gambling a part of the NBA culture?"

Well, duh! Gambling is a part of American culture. Look at our love affair with Las Vegas, the proliferation of Indian casinos, of how states use lotteries to prop up their budgets. We are a gambling obsessed nation.

And ESPN already knows this. In fact, they are so entwined with gambling that they really have no place investigating it. They are too big a part of it. The popularity of poker in America is driven primarily by ESPN's coverage of the World Series of Poker, to which they devote several hours of programing a week. They also cover fantasy sports, another form of gambling, make picks on games, and even discuss the spread in the NFL. If sports and gambling are inseparably linked in the United States then ESPN is a big reason why. And for them to question that, or to investigate gambling in the NBA, is hypocritical. They are too big a part of the issue to be objective. I have used the following line dozens of times before, but never was it more apropos:

I am shocked! Shocked! To discover there is gambling going on in this establishment!

* * *

According to David Gibson in Politics Daily, Catholic Bishops have sent an open letter saying that passing health care reform is a moral imperative and that quality health care is a basic human right. They urged that politics be put aside and that health care reform be passed immediately. The language used by the bishops was castigating. Although they would be happy to see the current legislation pass, they go far beyond it. They advocate universal coverage, not the swiss-cheese coverage proposed in the House and Senate bills, as well as coverage for immigrants regardless of legal status, and while they don't want to see abortion covered they would be ready to compromise on that to get reform passed.

Their position is significant because the Church has long been one of the staunchest of allies for the republican party. The fact that Nancy Pelosi, John Keary, Chris Dodd and the late Ted Kennedy are or were all practicing Catholics aside, the Church has become the place in the conservative movement where intellect and spirituality meet. The Church has been the leader of of the pro-life movement since Roe v Wade was decided. Many prominent conservatives have converted to Catholicism in recent years, including Newt Gingrich, Laura Ingram, Robert Novak, Sam Brownback, Jeb Bush, Tony Snow, Lawrence Kudlow, and Robert Bork. The Supreme Court has been packed with Catholics, mostly in the hope of overturning Roe v. Wade. The Bishops have had a great deal of influence in American politics, more than is comfortable for many moderate Catholics or for Jeffersonian secularists. While their influence should not be overstated--they also oppose the death penalty, but have made no headway in persuading conservative politicians or justices to oppose it along with them--it is significant that the most prominent conservative intellectual body in America has come out strongly in favor of health care reform. If it swings just one or two votes in the senate it could be a game changer.

Though Maddow is probably right and the hope of republican votes is just a unicorn and farries fantasy.

* * *

Last Thursday's Word segment on Colbert was the best ever!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The final tragic death of Ted Kennedy

Ok, here goes:

You will here this a lot tonight: it will be the ultimate irony if to see the senator occupying Ted Kennedy’s seat cast the vote that defeats health care reform.

Democrats are getting a wakeup call. Unfortunately it might be from Leon from “Blade Runner.”

John Dean is wrong—the only way to get health care reform is not to start over. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have had a plan in place for this contingency for days now. I don’t know what it is yet. It might be as simple as not seating Scott Brown until after they vote. It might be simply passing the Senate version unaltered. But they cannot not pass something. If they do they will lose both houses and probably the White House. And the Republicans know it.

Hey, dummies! You can’t take any state, any vote, for granted!

Dean is also wrong about the cause of this defeat. It is not because the health bill is not strong enough. But Dean is right about the other half of this. This is because the democrats are not strong. They are weak. They are sand in your ace pushovers. They are the geeky weak kid who gets bullied by the frat boys. Frat boys are nearly always republicans.

Obama needs to be more Reganesque and less Carteresque. Really.

Hubris brought low: Obama campaigned for Coakley. He campaigned for Corzine. He campaigned for Chicago to get the Olympics. He failed on all fronts. The president has no coattails.

Let’s face it, people are mad. That is why Barbra Coakley lost. And for some reason they are blaming the people brought in to fix this mess, not the yahoos who caused it in the first place. I mean, how can you support the Republicans to fix anything, let alone their two wars, their economic crisis, their national debt, their mess?

Dean is right. Democrats need to get tough. They need unleash Rahm Emanuel and start attacking. They need to redefine the debate. They need to shift to the left. The problem with the Democrats is that they are more decent than Republicans. President Obama wants to treat republicans with respect, to work with him, and the Republicans want to burn the nation around down his Alfred E. Newman ears.

The conservative movement is on a roll. They have seized the country and they control the debate. Sarah Palin will be the next Republican nominee. The democrats may well loose the house this fall. They could even lose the senate. If they don’t wake up they will be as dead as they pronounced the Republicans just a year ago. Remember that? Remember how the republicans were going to be wandering through the wilderness for the next twenty years after they got so soundly trounced just fifteen months ago? Guess what: political cycles are shortened in the internet age. The years the Republicans spent searching for Ronald Regan have been reduced to basically a summer. That’s all it took to seize control of the debate again. Yes, they do it with lies and deception and unadulterated bullshit—but that stuff works.

So Democrats, in the words of a great philosopher, nut up or shut up.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

On Bullshit

Ok, so I've figured out what it is about the Republicans that is so infuriating. It's not just their do-nothing obstructionism, or the latent racism of some of their propaganda. It's not even the fact that they caused this whole mess we are in with their de-regulation of the finance industry, the way they ignored global warming, their senseless war in Iraq..... you know.

No, I just realized that I am tired of their bullshit. They are so full of it--full of bullshit. It's probably because the line between politics and entertainment has become so blurred these days. Whatever the reason, they are just so full of bullshit. And I'm tired of it. And I'm tired that some people still believe their bullshit. I believe that some of them are indeed operating from a sincere philosophical political position--that they believe in small government, traditional family values, etc.--but for the most part they are just full of bullshit.

For instance, take this birther bullshit, the idea that President Obama might not have been born in Hawaii and therefor isn't eligible to be President. But he's got all the documentation Hawaii requires, Hawaii says he was born there, the courst threw out the case long ago, and yet they still insist on this bullshit--bullshit so blatant that even Glen Beck -- GLEN BECK -- has called it bullshit.

And speaking of Beck, his bullshit about the president appointing Communists to the government. What is this, the 1950s? We aren't at war with the communists anymore, dummy. We are at war with the Taliban and with al Queda, which are decidedly not communist (and which, by the way, only exist because we propped them up when we were at war with the Communists). It's bullshit. Of course, so is his definition of communists and socialists. What Glen Beck calls a "communist" is really just anyone to the left of Hillary Clinton. And apparently anybody can be a socialist in Beck's world. He pilloried Teddy Roosevelt as a socialist (maybe he just got his Roosevelts wrong). His bullshit over the iconography of Rockefeller Center was even more stupid, because it demonstrated his total ignorance of iconography, of art, of the Rockefellers (can you imagine? calling Nelson Rockefeller a socialist?) and the history of the building: One of the most famous incidents in the history of art occured when Rockefeller objected to a mural Diego Rivera had painted for Rock Center and ordered it destroyed, because it was what Beck is claiming the art there still is, too socialist. In other words, this is a place where socialist art was specifically excluded and destroyed, and Beck insists that it is decorated with socialist art. Because he's full of bullshit.

You've heard all this bullshit: Obama is a socialist (bullshit: if he were a socialist he'd be pushing for socialized medicine); Obama is weak on defense (bullshit: just because he thinks before going off half cocked), Obama wants to kill grandma (bullshit: pure unadulterated bullshit).

I'm not saying liberals aren't full of bullshit too. Keith Olberman's bullshit often annoys me, and Bill Maher makes me scream sometimes, but their bullshit seems less onerous. Maybe it's my own bias, but liberal bullshit doesn't seem to be as outrageous, nor does it seem to be pervasive. I don't think the liberals actually believe their bullshit, nor do they believe others will believe their bullshit, and their bullshit is nowhere near as deep as the Republicans bullshit is.

No, the Republicans, following the example of Limbaugh and Gingrich and Reagan, have turned bullshit into an art--a shameless art. Nobody bullshits better than a Republican.

(apologies to Howard Beale)