Archive for October, 2010

And He Scores!

Suh was on fire today in Detroit’s game against the Washington Redskins.  In addition to getting two sacks (of the renowned Donovan McNabb), he scored a touchdown!

This isn’t supposed to happen in the pros, folks–defensive tackles do not score.   I guess Suh never learned this because they let him play fullback at Nebraska on occasion.

Speedy Santana Moss wisely ran just a tad too slow to tackle Suh before he reached the endzone:

Suh looks ready to tackle Moss instead, touchdown or not, ball in hand or not.


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Scary Season

Like you, Doc, I’ve been trying to dodge the morosity emanating from the upcoming election’s probable results.  But it sneaks in.  I’ve been waking up nights with a vague feeling of dread, which took me a little while to figure out.  When I did, it was as if the proverbial light had come on.  Of course! I said to myself, it’s that biennial season when once again I get to watch my fellow citizens misplace their brains.  Yeah, that is dreadful.
I think the Wingnuts are trying to steal yet another holiday.  They’ve already taken over Christmas, in order to ‘protect’ it from godless liberals.  And they had to kick us out of Fourth of July, natch’, ever since we became traitors and terrorists for opposing the Iraq War.  But now they want Halloween.  They seem to be conflating the holiday with the swiftly following election.
A person might think from watching the Rally to Restore Sanity that Halloween is quite safely still in the hands of Those Who Have a Sense of Humor.  But you know the Wingers are in a froth this morning, warning the faithful against entrusting the running of the country to such people, since they so clearly refuse to take things seriously.

After all, when Republican indulge in antics appropriate to the current holiday – monstrous behavior (stomping on the head of a woman with whom they disagree); trickery (swamping the ballot with zillions of write-in candidates so as to confuse votors); scare tactics (trying to convince us all that residents of inner cities plan to overvote in such massive, yet sneaky and undetectable numbers that they’ll throw the election); or disguises (Rand Paul dressing up for the Kentucky electorate as a christian, or for that matter any number of lechers, adulterers and pederasts impersonating family values supporters) – they’re acting in deadly, angry earnest.
Then again, they don’t seem to have any other mode.
I didn’t really care for Halloween as a kid, not being all that fond of getting scared.   But these days, ghouls and goblins seem downright sociable compared to the fiendishness being offered up by conservatives.  Scaarreee!

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Wowzer!   Nebraska beats Missouri, 31-17!   Yea!    Hooray!

The best part:   Roy Helu, Jr., became Nebraska’s top single-game rusher, beating out even Heisman winner Mike Rozier.   He ran for three touchdowns and over three hundred yards!   Here he is, going for 73 yards early in the game:

Another highlight:    Nebraska made a goal-line stand, holding off Mizzou for four straight plays as they tried to score from the 2-yard line.  Just like the old days.   Reminds me of another very old song:   “I hear ya knockin’, but ya can’t come in.”

Did I mention that Mizzou was undefeated until this afternoon?   Ranked number 6 in the national standings?

Ta-effing da!

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You Get What You Pay For

I have tried not to invest in the upcoming elections because I know my side is going to lose.   In 2004 I worked very hard to elect  John Kerry, and I was stunned when he lost.  Not because Kerry was my ideal candidate, or even because I thought he would be a great president (although if we had elected him, or Gore in 2000, I suspect the country would not be in the double binds it is now, with a sour economy and massive resistance to new energy policy).   No, I simply could not imagine how the American people could give a second term to George Bush, who had started two unnecessary wars, struck down all sorts of environmental and financial regulations, stopped stem-cell research, tortured people, and vacated habeas corpus.   And of course there’s the economic meltdown Bush handed over to Obama.

Nevertheless, the people chose Bush (and Rove and Cheney).   When, at my haircutter’s, I asked women who confessed to voting for Bush why they had done so, they said they did not know.   Today, of course, supporters of the right wing do know why they support radical candidates.   This week Rachel Maddow interviewed supporters of Joe Miller in Alaska.   Two of them said they opposed Eric Holder’s appointment to the Justice Department.   When Rachel asked one to name something Holder had done that he didn’t like, the young man was stumped–he couldn’t think of anything.   The woman standing next to him could think of something, though:   Holder had refused to prosecute the Black Panthers who intimidated voters and hence stole the election for Obama.   Never mind that there were only two black men calling themselves Panthers standing in front of a polling place used mainly by black voters, and that they had broken no laws.   Thanks, Faux News.  Rachel tried to reason with this woman.   Not me.  I have given up on challenging ignorance fueled by racism.   When someone of  this ilk persists in pestering me, I simply say I am not interested in talking to someone whose vile beliefs are on such ignorant display.   Call me an elitist if you like–you won’t be the first.

All the trends oppose Democrats in this election.   They are “in power,”–even though that doesn’t count for much in the current political situation–and the party in power generally loses during midterms.  Add to that a bad economy.  Even though the economy is  not Obama’s fault, and he has worked wonders turning it around.  From what I can tell the turnaround is solid (unless the Republicans win Congress, in which case they will deregulate Wall Street, and then it’s only a matter of time until the next crash).  But evidence of its solidity is appearing too late to help the Dems this year.   In addition, the conservative money/media machine that  began during the 1970s has finally become so powerful that large swatches of the American people have simply gone mad, as far as I can tell.   Add to this that the conservative justices appointed to the Supreme Court by a string of Republican presidents and Senates are utterly corrupt (see, for example, the Citizens’ United decision or, for that matter, the selection of Bush as president).

It looks to me as though the Democrats will lose the House.   If they hang on to the Senate, they will only have a two or three vote majority–not nearly enough to stop filibusters or block holds on appointments or pending legislation.   Since this appears to be the best case, I’ve been trying to imagine what will happen starting in January.

First possibility:    Blue Dog Democrats will go down to defeat, so the House and Senate caucuses will become more progressive.   If they unite under a strong minority leader in the house and probably Chuck Shumer in the Senate, they can serve the same function the Rethugs have been serving during Obama’s first two years in office:    block everything the Rethugs propose.   In this scenario the Rethugs may have enough votes in the House (although I doubt it, because the traditionals and the tea partiers will be at constant loggerheads) to propose legislation, but anything they manage to pass will lie fallow in the Senate, as so much Democratic legislation did during this term.   In addition, the Dems can take the opportunity as a minority to explain things like the negative impact of Citizens United and the positive impact of health care legislation, the stimulus, financial regulation, and so on.  If they have the cojones.

Second possibility:   Republicans win it all.   In that case, look for:   constant attempts to impeach Obama and to overturn all the legislation passed during the previous two years.   Hope and pray that no Supreme dies or decides to resign.   If you’re on social security and medicare, start looking for work.  Take all of your money out of the stock market (and the banks?) and hide it under the mattress.   Start growing your own greens and keep chickens.  Buy a bicycle, because only the rich will be able to afford gas.  And so on.

In this case we’d do well to heed my title, something often said by an old friend from graduate school.   If the American people hand over their government to crazies like Sharron Angle and Ken Buck, they will indeed get what they paid for.   Then we can only hope that Waylon’s motto also holds:   “what goes around comes around.”

UPDATE:    Krugman is feeling equally bleak (from today’s NYT):

“But we won’t get those [needed economic] policies if Republicans control the House. In fact, if they get their way, we’ll get the worst of both worlds: They’ll refuse to do anything to boost the economy now, claiming to be worried about the deficit, while simultaneously increasing long-run deficits with irresponsible tax cuts — cuts they have already announced won’t have to be offset with spending cuts.

So if the elections go as expected next week, here’s my advice: Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

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Obama Faces Jon Stewart

President Obama appeared on The Daily Show last night–you can watch the entire interview on Comedy Central if you like.

I found out about this when I tuned into MSNBC briefly this morning to learn whether there was any news worth worrying about.  Three commentators were ripping the President’s performance to shreds, saying he “looked defensive.”   So I taped a morning rerun, which I’ve just watched.

The thing I noticed, aside from Obama’s rapidly graying hair, was how utterly serious he was.   Stewart tried to establish a funny tone, and Obama got off a couple of zingers on Stewart.  But Obama was clearly on the show  to make a point:   however disappointed progressives are, you must vote.

Obama even become a little angry when Stewart pressed him on the supposed “failure” of the health care bill, pointing out its many benefits, and noting that 90% of what we wanted is better than nothing–which, given the current congressional gridlock, are the available choices.   Whether you believe this or not, Obama made a compelling case that progress will only occur when (if) Congress can rid itself of the filibuster, as well as the Senate rules that allow a single Senator to block Presidential appointments.  As he said, he was forced to face the most serious financial crisis in recent history without a deputy secretary of the Treasury, because that person’s confirmation was put on hold.

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Over the years, Trep, you and I have wondered what motivates the conservatives who appear to be so angry.   That anger was graphically displayed this week when a Rand Paul operative actually threw a woman to the pavement and stomped on her head and shoulders.    He then asked for an apology, which behavior is consistent with that of wife-beaters and child-abusers:  “Look what you drove me to do!”   So the anger proceeds from a violated sense of entitlement?   Is that it?

Maybe it is.  Esquire reporter Tom Junod cites something said by a well-to-do friend as they sat on the friend’s expansive porch, near his large new grill, looking at the 26-foot fishing boat in the driveway.   Sipping his drink, the well-to-do friend said of Obama:   “I hate that elitist bastard.”    His visit with this friend inspired Junod to write a piece entitled “Sore Winners” which is well worth your time:   http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/sore-winners-102710. I’ll quote just a bit to whet your appetite:

“It is one of the biggest dividing lines  between liberals and conservatives: sensitivity. Liberals are supposed to be the sensitive ones, but even the liberals who worked themselves into a froth over George W. Bush never really cared very much about what he thought of them. But conservatives care what President Obama thinks. They care to the point of imagining what he thinks. I get the same feeling listening to them that I’ve gotten living in the South and listening to Southerners tell me about Yankees and the War of Northern Aggression. Well, although I’ve lived in the South nearly 30 years I’m a Yankee born and raised, and I can tell you with reasonable authority that no one in North thinks or talks about the Civil War. Nor do they talk about SEC football. Nor do they worry about what Southerners think of them, whereas I’ve heard many Southerners explain the football prowess of SEC schools in terms of self-esteem — i.e., that success on the football field is what allows Southerners to feel they’re “just as good” as everyone else, even though everyone else is blessedly unaware of the outcome of the Iron Bowl, or even where it’s played.”

Junod’s thesis is that conservatives, even very successful ones like the Koch brothers, really worry that somebody is looking down on them, that somehow, even though they’ve lived the American dream, there is something they haven’t done right.   So every time a “liberal elitist” (which seems to be their name for anyone who disagrees with them) claims that global warming is happening and it is caused by human practice, they feel looked down upon, made fun of, mocked.  In their lives, it’s fourth grade all the time.

Who would have thought that an imaginary lack of status was the key to conservative anger?

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You want a fluff post that requires little thought and has lots of pictures?   Here you are.   Yesterday after we talked about Okie State’s horrible orange uniforms, we wondered if the uniform had anything to do with successful performance.   So this morning I did a little research.   I was surprised to discover that this burning question interests a lot of people.   Sports Illustrated even has a photo show of its choices for best uni.

I arbitrarily define “best” as “simplest.”   A simple uniform does its job:   it protects the player, shows his school colors, his number, and perhaps an identifying insignia.  That’s all.  This leaves out of contention teams like Boise State, whose awful blinding blue unis I’ve already dissed somewhere on this blog.   It also leaves out Oregon, who is also at the top of the football heap right now.   Oregon asked a designer to do its unis, for Pete’s sake, and here is the result:

Supposedly there are some 384 different combinations available when pieces of each color are switched around (there’s also a yellow helmet that they don’t seem to wear very often.  I wonder why).  So the ducks (yes, their mascot is a duck) can appear in a different uniform every Saturday.   Here is their relatively conservative black version (are those supposed to be duck wings on the guy’s shoulders?):

Happily for my emerging hypothesis, neither Boise State nor Oregon has ever won a national championship in football.

Penn State players probably wear the simplest and most classic uniform of all.   Sadly, they own only 2 national championships.

And now on to the big boys of national championships.   Here are the top ten schools, excluding the ivies.   I exclude the Ivy League because most of their championships were earned before a lot of schools actually played football.   For example, Penn  won their last championship in 19o8, Harvard in 1919, and Yale in 1927, while Princeton hung on the longest, last winning it all in 1935.

Notre Dame has the most national championships, holding 13;    then comes Alabama (12), Michigan (11), USC (10), Pitt (8), Ohio State (7), Oklahoma (7), Minnesota (6), Miami (5), and Nebraska (5).   A couple of these teams haven’t won in a long while, like Pitt, which won its last championship in  1976, and Minnesota, which was last heard from in 1960, when only white guys were allowed to play football at historically non-black schools.  So I didn’t show their uniforms, which presumably don’t look the same now as they did twenty-five or fifty years ago.

Clearly simplicity does count.   Here is Notre Dame:



Here on this blog you’ve seen plenty of pix of Nebraska’s uniforms, with the simple “N” on the helmet.   Nebraska has worn something like the current unis for forty years.  So it would seem that simplicity in uniform is consonant with excellence on the football field.  Or maybe it’s that a tradition of excellence (all of the winning schools, except perhaps Miami, have long histories of fielding very good teams) dictates that players wear uniforms that say something like “We’re not flashy;   we’re substance.”

There is one blip on my conclusion that simplicity breeds excellence.   Oklahoma’s uniforms are indeed simple relative to, say, Oregon’s.  But they were designed by Nike, which renders them non-classical in my book:

Those red shoes make me nervous, and probably explain why Missouri was able to beat them last Saturday night.

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