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Not Too Distant Mirror.

“The ritual, by now, is well-established. President Barack Obama will travel to the lower house of the national legislature from the executive mansion, and…give a long speech extolling the nation’s virtues and present circumstances — the state of the union is invariably described as ‘strong’ — and laying out the regime’s priorities.”

A day before the big show, Joshua Keating’s consistently funny If It Happened There column at Slate looked at the State of the Union. “Members of the opposition typically do not applaud, though they occasionally join in with approval of paeans to the nation’s powerful military, the leaders of which typically sit stone-faced in front of the gallery.”

Which, of course, is exactly what happened. There are innumerable things Congress could be doing right now to create jobs, spur opportunity, expand the frontiers of knowledge, and generally make life better for families in America. Some of them — raising the minimum wage, ensuring equal pay for women, investing in infrastructure and early childhood education, admitting climate change is happening and proceeding accordingly — were even mentioned in Obama’s remarks, not that we can expect much in Year Six of this presidency (and an election year to boot.)

But with all due respect to Sgt. Remsburg’s sacrifice, when the only thing all of our nation’s legislators can get effusive about is venerating Americans wounded in battle, the republic is in a bad way indeed. As James Fallows put it: “[W]hile that moment reflected limitless credit on Sgt. Remsburg…I don’t think the sustained ovation reflected well on the America of 2014…the spectacle should make most Americans uneasy.” That it should – The last refuge of scoundrels and all that.

“This Sunday, the eyes of millions of Americans will turn to a fetid marsh in the industrial hinterlands of New York City for the country’s most important sporting event — and some would say the key to understanding its proud but violent culture.”

ICYMI, If It Happened There has aptly covered the Superbowl also. “The ethics of such an event can be hard for outsiders to understand. Fans, who regularly watch players being carted off the field with crippling injuries, are unbothered by reports of the game’s lasting medical impact on its players. Nevertheless, fans and the national media can become extremely indignant if players are excessively boastful at the game’s conclusion.”

Speaking of the handegg finals — as usual, also not lacking for tawdry paeans to militarismcongrats to the Seahawks on a convincing Superbowl XLVIII win. As I said on Twitter, I had no real dog in this fight – I was just happy to see the two states with sane marijuana laws karmically rewarded for their forward thinking.

Snowpocalypse Now.


Snowpocalypse last December was only the beginning. Now, it’s Snomageddon. (And unfortunately, I uncorked all my tauntaun jokes back in 2003.) Anyway, yeah, we in DC have taken a massive snow hit — at least 2 feet already — and it’s still coming down strong.

As you can see from the pics above and below, at least Berk‘s been having great fun with it, although he may feel differently if I take him to the 2pm Dupont shootout.


Update: It’s all fun and games until somebody bruises their brain. While the snowball fight was great fun (and a hearty gratz to New Awlins), slipping on the ice while walking Berk later that evening was less so. So I’ve been suffering a (hopefully) minor concussion since Saturday, which mainly means I’ve been lying on the couch with a headache, playing low-intensity xBox games like Lego Batman and Mass Effect while the snow falls. Only one night of nausea, fever, and other nasty symptoms, tho’, so hopefully by this point, I’m on the mend.

Brettie and the Jets?

In a move that will likely rival MJ’s ho-hum final years in Washington, the New York Jets sign quarterback Brett Favre from Greenbay. I’d say this was a panic move that’ll clearly backfire, but, then again, the Jets were rolling with Vinny Testaverde for a few years there, and he was older than dirt too. At any rate, NYJ are as close to a NFL team as I have in my fan arsenal, so here’s hoping it pans out.

Giant Upset.

In easily one of the most exciting Superbowls in recent memory, Eli Manning and the NY Giants score an upset 17-14 victory over the seemingly inevitable New England Patriots. (The big losers? NE’s offensive line and pass protection, which looked terrible last night.) Inasmuch as I’m an NFL fan, I root for the Jets. Still, I’m all for a good game, and backing the NY-area underdog against the (increasingly suspect) Patriot machine was an easy call. Besides between the Sox last year and arguably the Celts this summer, a perfect Patriot season would’ve made Hub-area fans totally insufferable. So, congrats to the Giants, and let’s hope Sen. Obama benefits from a similar kind of underdog magic tomorrow…

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich…’s T.O. Jersey.

“Cheering and screaming! Every Sunday I would cheer and scream for what?! How can they do this! 13-3 and home field advantage and they lost to the f**king New York Giants!…ELI SUCKS!” How did William Shirer miss this? As seen at TNR: From deep within his bunker, Adolf Hitler laments the Dallas Cowboys’ season. Perhaps in poor taste, as jokes making light of the Nazis often are, but still, I found this pretty doggone funny. (And it brought back fond memories of Mr. Bimmler.)

Colt 41.

Lackluster game (the exciting first quarter turnover-fest notwithstanding), lackluster ads (mostly retrograde frat humor and talking animals — bring on the Sonic guys and the Geico cavemen.) Still, the Indianapolis Colts won the Superbowl 29-17 last night. (Then again, if all the victory speeches are correct, Indianapolis was pretty much a lock anyway, having God on their side and all. Before invoking any Higher Authority, I myself might pin the victory on the choke-artist deluxe performance of Chicago Bears’ QB Rex Grossman.)

Off the Charts.

For any sports gambling aficionados (or stock market junkies) out there who happen to venture by the site, a very good friend of mine from college has just started MLBcharts.com (although he also covers the NBA, NHL, NCAA, and soccer therein.) Basically, he’s been applying stock market valuation principles to sports gambling, with positive results (for him, anyway — a few March Madness games notwithstanding, I’ve been watching his success from afar.) At any rate, go check it out!

Say it ain’t so, Joe…and Clyde, and Jerome…

(Like I needed to another reason to think less of A-Rod.) By way of my friend Mark, here’s an interesting list of campaign contributions made by sports figures since 1978. Some of the bigger Democratic donors include Hank Aaron, Andre Agassi, Michael Jordan, Robert Kraft, Alonzo Mourning, Bud Selig, Dean Smith, and David Stern. As for athletes buttressing the GOP, they include several football (Troy Aikman, Bobby Bowden, Mike Ditka, Peyton Manning, Roger Staubach) and racing (Mario Andretti, Brian and Bill France, Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Richard Petty) stars, along with Jerome Bettis, Clyde Drexler, Karl Malone, Lute Olson, Rafael Palmeiro, A-Rod, and Marge Schott.

Steelers’ Reels / Capt. Cromwell.

Another Superbowl has come and gone (Congrats to the Steelers, some of the calls notwithstanding), and — while I personallly preferred the FedEx cavemen and Hummer monsters — some new movie ads were scattered throughout the game, including new looks at V for Vendetta, MI:III, Poseidon, and Pirates of the Caribbean. (And, also in movie news, the increasingly over-stuffed Spiderman 3 picks up another marquee name with James Cromwell as Capt. Stacy, Gwen’s father.)

Pass the Ball, Dog…

I must admit, between the relentless, team-killing ego and that highly suspect night in Colorado, Kobe Bryant is far and away my least favorite player in the league. But, 81 is 81. Even given that Kobe never passes up a single shot and clearly makes his teammates worse, that’s a pretty impressive night of work against any NBA team, even the lowly Raptors. (And, oh yes, congrats to the Steelers and Seahawks on lopsided victories…see y’all in Detroit.)

American Hero.

“Tillman had very unembedded feelings about the Iraq War. His close friend Army Spec. Russell Baer remembered, ‘I can see it like a movie screen. We were outside of [an Iraqi city] watching as bombs were dropping on the town…. We were talking. And Pat said, “You know, this war is so f***ing illegal.” And we all said, “Yeah.” That’s who he was. He totally was against Bush.’” By way of a friend of mine from high school, The Nation‘s Dave Zirin explains how the Dubya administration’s use of slain NFL safety (and Chomsky fan) Pat Tillman as poster boy for the Iraq war was, like so much else in the lead-up to this conflict, built on lies.

McCain v. Giambi.

In very primary-friendly fashion, John McCain announces a federal anti-steroids bill for all professional sports, to be administered by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

The Eyes Have It.

If the andro that helped McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998 was an unnatural, game-altering enhancement, what about his high-powered contact lenses? ‘Natural’ vision is 20/20. McGwire’s custom-designed lenses improved his vision to 20/10, which means he could see at a distance of 20 feet what a person with normal, healthy vision could see at 10 feet. Think what a difference that makes in hitting a fastball. Imagine how many games those lenses altered.” Drop the juice for a sec — Slate‘s Will Saletan wonders aloud if optical enhancements also constitute cheating in baseball, football, and golf.

Pats and Bats.

Well, there may have been no nipple sightings during this year’s somewhat sloppy Superbowl (McCartney, you tease) — nor, as Seth Stevenson points out, were there much in the way of memorable ads — but we did get another look at Batman Begins, which included what appears to be our first glimpse of The Scarecrow, as well as a disaster-movie moment from War of the Worlds. I was hoping for more, but ah well.

Let the Eagles Soar.

In other sports news, the Superbowl is set: New England v. Philly. I usually root for the AFC, but I’m over the Pats at this point, and Boston already had the Red Sox win in October…any more sports mojo for New England and Bostonians will become absolutely insufferable. So, with that in mind, I’m pulling for the underdogs, Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. (Take that, Rush.)

Dark Globe.

A weekend of playoff football (ugh, so close, Jets) has fed into the Golden Globe awards which, I must say, have been pretty disappointing this year. I root for both Clive Owen and Natalie Portman in general, but Closer was a lousy film, and I would have much preferred to see some love for Eternal Sunshine at some point in the evening, even if Sideways and The Aviator are deserving in their own way. (I have yet to see Million Dollar Baby or Ray, but would be very surprised if they turned out better than Charlie Kaufman’s magnum opus.) Ah well, perhaps this’ll help Jim Carrey beat the Golden Globe curse.

The Republican Pastime (Redux).

He may not be able to stay awake during the Superbowl, but Dubya loves him some baseball…and, as it turns out, baseball owners love them some Dubya. “More than a dozen current and former owners and family members are among the president’s top re-election fundraisers…Seven are Bush ‘Rangers,’ each raising at least $200,000, and six are ‘Pioneers’ who have brought in $100,000 or more.
” In contrast, Kerry received a paltry $2000 each from Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and Padres owner John Moores. Hmmm…between this and the Tim Robbins Hall of Fame fiasco last year, I must say I’m feeling pretty proud to be an NBA fan right now. While baseball lines Dubya’s coffers, basketball puts up a Dem for president (albeit one who appears to have fallen off the radar at this critical political juncture.)

The A-Rod Write-Off.

Well, thank goodness the GOP Congress has finally done something to alleviate the financial burden of sports team ownership in this country. When I think of all the pain, misery, and degradation that Mark Cuban, George Steinbrenner, and other multi-millionaires have been subjected to by the tax code of late, my heart just sickens. Now hopefully Congress will turn their attention to eliminating the IRS entirely, and I’ll be able to sleep knowing that no corporate CEO or energy baron will ever again be unduly harrassed in this great nation.

Take a pass, Rush.

See, this is why you don’t hire right-wing throwbacks to cover football games…Rush Limbaugh invokes the “black quarterback” canard during an Eagles game, claiming that Donovan McNabb has been overhyped because “the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.” I presume he also thinks the media was behind the respective successes of Randall Cunningham, Kordell Stewart, Steve McNair, and Michael Vick (currently the most exciting QB in the game.) In keeping with his jackass nature, Rush is naturally standing by his comments. (For their part, Clark, Dean, and Sharpton have also weighed in.) ESPN should do the right thing and let Limbaugh dangle, but I doubt that’s going to happen…even with whatever dirt the Enquirer‘s drudged up on him. After all, as this story notes, “Limbaugh once said he felt guilty about telling an African-American caller to ‘take that bone out of your nose and call me back.’ He still uses the mock dialect ‘ax’ instead of ‘ask’ when discussing black leaders on his syndicated radio show and often plays the theme song ‘Movin’ On Up’ from ‘The Jeffersons’ when referring to Carol Moseley Braun.” Does this racist buffoon have any business covering the world of sports? Update: Well, that’s then…Rush resigned. Smart of him to try to nip this Lott-sized bud now before everyone starts taking a closer look at his long history of questionable racial remarks.

Welcome Back, Mr. Anderson.

During a 48-21 Tampa Bay blowout which never really got off the ground in terms of excitement, The Matrix sequels delivered the goods with this great new trailer. With the possible exception of Terry Tate, Office Linebacker (and I liked the Yao-Yo bit too), it was the highlight of the evening.

Whoops.

The NFL admits they botched the biggest call of the Giants-49ers game on Sunday, allowing San Francisco to escape to the next round against Tampa Bay. I remember thinking the game ended screwy, what with the offsetting penalties on third down. Ah well, at least the Jets went through. They’re the NY team I root for anyway.

Gambling man.

The good doctor returns for another NFL season. Not a very good effort this time around, but with HsT, you never know.

Omsbudsdog Emeritus

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