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.
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 militarism — congrats 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.
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.
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…
“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.)
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.)
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!
(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.
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.)
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.)
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.)