Saturday, January 27, 2007
I finally got around to getting my "Laughing Liberally/Laughing With The Enemy" stand-up show from last summer in my hands and in uploadable form! This is a good synopsis with my best bits included and good stuff from a few of the other performers.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Drop it all right here! (Like it's HOT!)
Any Sense, Abroad?
Yes, friends, our intrepid Speaker-of-the-House and the Man Who Wouldn't be King are braving afternoon teas and socials in the Southwest Asian desert so that they can "convey to our troops the appreciation of the American people for what they're doing ..."
Howzabout just sending a telegram?
I personally get sick of all these stupid politicos that put unnecessary strain on the security operations of our troops so that they can get their "Adventure Vacation" jollies on. There are MORE than enough military Public Affairs and Intelligence personnel to inform our Congressmen of anything they need to know. After all, what the heck will Pelosi and Murtha learn in pre-planned meetings with impotent Iraqi "leaders"? This Sunday on Meet The Press, we'll be treated to another dog-and-pony show on how the Democrats "feel the pain" of our troops (but not enough to bring them home). Murtha, at least, has some prior experience with Arabs ... well, faux Arabs.
Hey, Madame Speaker, if you really want to do a "Jane Byrne," why not stick around for a tour (seven months) and join our brave young Recon Marines on some daily convoys to Ramadi? THEN, I'll be impressed. Until then, stop wasting our tax money and go eat some bon-bons with Rosie and Babs on The View.
Which brings us to this week's other Retro Record Moment. A fitting song for what's really going on in Pelosi's head:
The GOP Anti-War Candidate?
UPDATE: Chuck gets love from Peggy.
1984 (Give or take a couple of decades ...)
Rock's most feisty band of internecine squabbling---outside of late-era Beatles, mid-80s Rolling Stones, or the Davies Brothers---have decided to give the Reunion Thang another go-round. Considering the duration of the last so-called reunion, I'd say buy your tickets FAST as this thing may only last four or five gigs. Apparently, Michael Anthony is on the outs this time, so be prepared for a Junior Van Halen practicing the four-string.
Anyway, below is the video that turned me into a Van Halen fan back in high school. The onset of senility being what it is, I didn't remember the midgets, or even the rest of Van Halen from this video when looking up the YouTube link. And I darn sure don't remember the surprise ending!!
I do remember David Lee Roth dressed as Napoleon arriving at the penultimate moment in a limo. Just shows I was never a fan of Van Hagar.
Labels: Van Halen Reunion
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Hagel On Fire
For what it's worth, I don't think Hagel is just playing to the cameras. One of the criticisms that he gets hit with is that he's "self-serving" (I mean, more than the average senator). I don't think that's the case here. I think he's saying what he really believes to be the case with the Iraq situation.
Right or wrong, he's calling it as he sees it.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Mike Vick's Waterbottle-gate
And in case you missed the story, this Saturday Night Live skit should help explain what Vick did wrong.
(hat tip to Youtube)
"I Will Not Be Sacrificed..."
NRO's Byron York on the White House civil war sparked by the Valerie Plame leak.
The State of the NFL: Black Coaches
Currently, there are more black head coaches (6) than offensive coordinators (1) and defensive coordinators (4) combined. Considering it was only 16 years ago that the NFL had only one black head coach (Art Shell), this is significant progress.
Are six black head coaches (out of 32 teams) enough? While that is comparable to the black population in society, it is not comparable to the percentage of black players in the NFL. However, that comparison assumes players become coaches, which is often not true. Players generally make more money than coaches. After they retire, they normally pursue higher paying careers, such as broadcasting. When you see former players in the coaching ranks, it is usually (but not always) players of lesser quality, who made less money. For them, coaching is not quite as significant a drop in salary.
Keep in mind that players nowadays NEVER go from playing to head coaching (Norm van Brocklin was the last player I can recall who did this back in 1961). This means any coach has to "pay his dues" in order to become a head coach. Why would any player who has made seven or eight figures want to make five or six figures in order to become a coach? It takes a true love of the game for a player to do this. Unfortunately, for every Mike Singletary (former all-pro linebacker with the Bears, currently defensive coordinator with the 49ers) and Herman Edwards (former all-pro cornerback with the Eagles, currently head coach with the Chiefs), there are ten Shannon Sharpes or Tom Jacksons who go into fields such as broadcasting to make more money.
But that leads to the question of why aren't there more "lesser quality" black players who take up coaching after they retire? Since there tend to be more black players in general in football, it might be a good idea to look at the path they take to the NFL.
They start in high school. Assuming they have success there, then they move up to the college ranks. Assuming they have success there, they move up to the NFL. This is where the "lesser quality" players bust, or have mediocre careers. Considering they have success and glory and fame on two levels, then are another face in the crowd at the NFL level, is it any wonder they get disillusioned with the sport by the time they retire?
Another common thing you see in NFL coaches are guys who played football in college, but never made it on the pro level. Hue Jackson, the only black offensive coordinator in the NFL, was a college quarterback who never played pro football. He went into coaching on the college level immediately after college. Ron Turner, the offensive coordinator of the Bears, was a wide receiver in college who never played in the pros. Mike Martz of the Lions was a tight end in college who became a high school football coach after he graduated. Mike Tomlin, the new black head coach of the Steelers, was a wide receiver in college who never played pro football. Lovie Smith? No pro football experience as a player. One other thing to note is these guys played college football at small schools, not the USC, Ohio State, Florida-type "programs".
For black NFL players, coaching is not the best post-career option for them. They can use their name recognition to make money in other fields.
On the other hand, why aren't more black coaches coming up from the college ranks? That is a question for a college football expert.
OTHER COACHING QUESTIONS
Robert George asked, "Another question that might be asked is why (at least as it seems to me) do there seem to be more black defensive coordinators than offensive ones." There are, by a 4-1 margin (although there are five offensive coordinator openings now, so that might change).
The reason? This is just speculation on my part, but I suspect it is because defensive players in general are not the "glory hounds" that offensive players are (Deion Sanders being a VERY notable exception). Also, in general, defensive players get paid less than offensive players. Therefore, black players playing defense would be more agreeable to pursuing a coaching career after they retire.
Bill Barker suggested, "Just a guess: Fewer black quarterbacks." Actually, quarterbacks are NOT more represented among the coaching ranks than any other offensive position. (If anything, I have seen more former wide receivers in the offensive coaching ranks, but I would not say they are the majority.) The more successful quarterbacks avoid coaching like the plague, regardless of the color of their skin.
While fewer black quarterbacks and fewer black offensive coordinators might be symptoms of the same problem, one does not necessarily lead to the other.
R.A.G. UPDATE (12:50 P.M.): Ed, forgive me for hijacking your really great post. This started out as a simple Comment, but then I realized I was on too much of a roll.
That's a really great analysis. I will add, however, that as much as I was uncomfortable with it, the Paul Tagliabue-Dan Rooney affirmative action rule passed a few years ago seems to have had a tremendous impact on bringing black coaches into the hiring pipeline.
Just look at the Tony Dungy coaching "tree": Herman Edwards, Lovie Smith and now, Mike Tomlin. It goes to show that once one or two qualified minority candidates are allowed into the available pool, the usual social networking dynamics start falling into place. Dungy gets a job; he knows talented people, trains them in a system, is able to put in a good word with a GM when a position opens up on another team, and so on. However, if those first couple of seeds aren't planted, few things will grow.
Interestingly, aside from the Raiders' Art Shell, the initial wave of black coaches -- Dennis Green and Ray Rhodes, came out of the then-dominant Bill Walsh-era 49-ers system. However, there wasn't anything league-wide put in place to help take advantage of that.
Again, it may have been pretty ham-handed, but Steelers owner Rooney's insistence that owners and GMs have minority candidates in the mix seems to have born results.
It was nice to see Rooney put his money where his mouth is by hiring Tomlin. However, if Tomlin hadn't been hired, you could have expected a sh**-storm over the Raiders' hiring of 31- year-old Lane Kiffin -- precisely because of what you said about the need for coaches to "pay their dues."
One of the more frustrating things for black coach aspirants in years past was facing this catch-22: They were told that "you have to work your way through the ranks" -- only to see a white candidate with a seemingly much thinner resume come out of nowhere and get a job for which an on-paper more qualified black coach wasn't even interviewed.
As I said, the Tomlin hiring should mute that criticism, but I can imagine a number of coaches (especially coordinators) -- irrespective of race -- who are truly rolling their eyes at the Kiffin hiring: He's been running the USC offense for one year (one in which it significantly declined from the Norman Chow era) -- and he's suddenly an NFL head coach?? Huh? But that move, I think says more about the increasing senility of Al Davis than it says about the hiring practices in the National Football League.
Anyway, thanks for letting me vent, Ed!
Senator McCain Was Not Asleep
[Update] Critics who have been waiting to have an opportunity to publicly admonish McCain, especially since he has not been a "maverick" in regards to his support of Bush's foreign policy...finally have an opening to attack McCain. And the attack line is perfect: "he's too old to be President."
I admit that the image of him, slumped over, with his eyes cast downwards, was not the greatest image you want the American people to see. But the Senator was not asleep! So lets cut him some slack, and move on.
Labels: Senator John McCain
Bush & Webb States of the Union
Watching it, I thought the best thing about it was the beginning and the ending -- his very gracious recognition of Nancy Pelosi as "Madam Speaker", the first woman to hold that position. She seemed genuinely moved at the president's words -- particularly his noting of her father's service in the House. At the conclusion, the gesture to the "everyday Americans" has been a cliche at SOTU addresses for a quarter century now. However, putting all of them together made for a very powerful impact. It was especially nice to see New York "subway superhero" Wesley Autrey spontaneously send out a salute/kiss to Bush and then turn and hug fellow gallery guest Sgt. Tommy Rieman.
But, the rest of the speech didn't move me much.
However, later, actually reading it, I have to give Bush some credit: Putting aside the usual laundry list of domestic initiatives which will be either DOA under a Democratic Congress (the health insurance tax plan) or will be twisted beyond recognition (the renewal of No Child Left Behind). In contrast, the recount of the war on terror -- some of the actual victories combined with an assessment of what is going on in Iraq on both the Sunni and Shiite sides -- was quite refreshing:
Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented, but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an Al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terrorist cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an Al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean. For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them.It seemed for one of the rare times in the last few years that Bush was actually in command of the details of what is happening in Iraq. That's not the same as being in command of the events on the ground, of course. But unlike his many pedestrian Iraq-focused speeches of recent years, this one seemed more grounded, with little grandiose statements of what would be happening.
It may not change any minds immediately, but, along with new Iraq operations chief Lt. Gen. David Petraeus' testimony at his confirmation hearing, it may presage a period of candor from the administration that might create enough time to get its new Iraq strategy under way.
But is it too late?
Listening to Jim Webb (launch the video player), it was perfectly clear why the Democrats chose him to deliver the Democratic response (again, this sounds like it had Chuck Schumer's fingerprints all over it). As a number pundits mentioned afterwards, he tore up the original speech that the Democrats wanted him to deliver and wrote his own: Very good idea. It was personal, philosophical and political. He mixed in a photo of his Dad serving in World War II and made a generational connection to his own service and that of his currently serving son:
I was proud to follow in his footsteps, serving as a Marine in Vietnam. My brother did as well, serving as a Marine helicopter pilot. My son has joined the tradition, now serving as an infantry Marine in Iraq.He then followed that up with a list of all the strategic and tactical errors the administration has made on Iraq. Unlike the average Democrat who might have given this speech, there wasn't the usual cant. There weren't the typical histrionics. His tone was straightforward, yet forceful. Confident without being arrogant.
Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country. On the political issues those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death we trusted the judgment of our national leaders. We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm's way.
We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.
It was a speech that would appeal to men and women equally.
Jim Webb can sure make a persuasive case for the need to address economic disparity. Republicans might call it "class warfare," but a man like Webb can inspire more people than you might think to enlist on the side of the workers rather than on the side of the CEOs. Hmmm... wonder how John McCain felt to hear Webb swipe Teddy Roosevelt as an example of a president who saw the need to address economic inequality?
Whoever the Democratic presidential nominee is, that person would be a fool not to ask Jim Webb to their running mate.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Topic will be the president's State Of The Union.
Labels: CNN Headline News
RAG on NPR
24 Backlash Is Officially ON
Fair warning: MAJOR SPOILERS!!! (The cell phone one is quite valid -- didn't these guys ever watch that great bit of '80s kitsch, The Day After?)
CLARIFICATION: The "Spoilers" in the above link are only for those who haven't seen last night's show. No spoilers involving upcoming episodes.
Everything You Really Need To Know About The Oscars...
Any occasional stylistic similarities to the humor of a certain blogger are, um, purely coincidental!
Football! Football! Football!
SUPER BOWL XLI: Contrary to what the Media is hyping about being important in this game, the first two black head coaches in a Super Bowl, the truth is there is a more significant factor being overlooked from a football perspective: both of these coaches come from a defensive background.
Tony Dungy was a defensive player who eventually became a defensive assistant coach. Lovie Smith was a linebacker coach with Tampa Bay (under Dungy) before he became a head coach.
This is significant because if you look at the recent history of Super Bowl winners, most of the head coaches have come from defensive backgrounds: Bill Cowher and Bill Belichick, winners of 4 of the last 5 Super Bowls, both came from defensive backgrounds. Jon Gruden was the only offensive coach to win in that period, and he inherited a great defense from previous head coach (TA-DA!) Tony Dungy. Gruden also had a great defensive coordinator in Monte Kiffin.
Once again proving the old cliche: Defense wins championships.
Who will win this Super Bowl? I have to lean towards the Bears. While the Colts have played better defense during the playoffs, the Bears have been playing great defense all year. Add in the superior special teams of the Bears, and the Colts have their work cut out for them.
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Certainly one of the great games in NFL history, although it didn't look that way in the beginning.
The interception by Tom Brady at the end was strange, as it looked like he was throwing directly to Marlin Jackson of the Colts. Sadly, it was common for a lot of interceptions I have seen this year (most of Peyton Manning's interceptions during the playoffs were like this). This comes from teams relying on timing patterns too much, instead of the quarterback actually looking for the open receiver. This gives a huge advantage to a zone defense when the receiver doesn't run the pattern which the quarterback is expecting.
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Aside from the one catch-and-run by Reggie Bush, it was a snoozer.
The Saints achilles heel was turnovers, pretty much what it has been all year. Not counting the safety they gave up, the Saints turned it over 4 times. The Bears did not have a single turnover. Add in the fact the Bears dominated time of possession, and the Saints are history.
BILL PARCELLS RETIRES: Like we didn't see this one coming?
Seriously, I am glad he did. I hope he gets back into broadcasting. I think Parcells brings more to football by his analysis than he does by coaching.
As for the Cowboys? Adam Schefter of NFL Network is reporting a rumor that the Cowboys will go with Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips as their next head coach. But you might want to take that rumor with a grain of salt, since Schefter also reported back on January 20th that Parcells wasn't retiring.
RAIDERS GO KIFFIN: The Raiders are hiring the youngest head coach in NFL history, 31 year old Lane Kiffin, formerly the offensive coordinator at USC. Lane may be better known to pro fans as the son of Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
As a Raider fan, I am pleased. The Raiders have had much more success with young head coaches, from John Madden to Jon Gruden.
THE STEEL CURTAIN GOES TOMLIN (DOWN): Anytime a team hires a new head coach, there is always some risk involved. But the Steelers seem to get it right more often than not.
With the hiring of Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin as the Steelers next head coach, and even with Tomlin's solid credentials (the Vikings defense was one of the NFL's top defenses last season), I can't argue with Steelers owner Dan Rooney. Rooney stuck with Bill Cowher even when many so-called experts thought Cowher should be fired.
CARDINALS GET WHISENHUNT: In contrast to the Steelers success, there is the Cardinals. They seem to have the anti-Midas touch when it comes to head coaches. Even though former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt was considered one of the top head coaching prospects this year, I have to take a more skeptical view of him since the Cardinals hired him.
The last successful Cardinals coach? Vince Tobin took them to the playoffs in 1998 with a 9-7 record, where they lost in the Divisional Round to the Vikings, 41-21. Prior to that, you have to go back to 1984, when they went 9-7 under Jim Hanifan (they missed the playoffs). That's either a lot of bad coaching, or a lot of bad teams. In my opinion, it is a combination of both.
If Whisenhunt can turn the Cardinals into a consistent winner, then Arizona fans should build a 40 foot statue of him. Personally, I think he will be coaching somewhere else in five years. If he is successful, then he is too smart to be in Arizona, and he will leave for more money at a better franchise. Most likely, he won't be able to turn the lemons of Arizona into lemonade, and he will be fired.
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER BENGAL ARRESTED: I can't make this stuff up. From NFL.com:
"Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph was arrested early Monday and charged with possession of marijuana, the ninth Cincinnati player arrested in the last nine months.
The arrest came three weeks after coach Marvin Lewis promised to get tougher on player misconduct, hoping to stop a series of arrests that has embarrassed the team and drawn the attention of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Joseph was arrested on U.S. Route 42 in northern Kentucky. He lives nearby in Union, Kentucky. The Boone Country sheriff's office arrest report said Joseph was the passenger in a vehicle driven by a woman who had a suspended license, was driving slowly and weaving."
Sorry, but I ran out of Bengals jokes a few months ago.
And Iran, Iran So Far Away ...
"Overture, Curtain, Lights! This is it, Tonight's the Night ... "
The State of the Union, that is. That constitutionally required bit of Presidential summation which gives the nation's Chief Executive Officer a bully pulpit for roughly an hour. Then, thanks to "Equal Time," we are treated to a trailer of coming distractions from the opposing party. The subtopic to watch out for is whether or not the President will show any signs of contrition in the wake of the Election "thumping"; Or, will this be the launching pad for yet another expansion of the Global War on Terror? ("G.W.O.T." is not exactly the most awe-inspiring acronym that the Federal Bureau of Cool Operation Names has ever thunk up)
As an aside, are any of the current glue factory rejects in the Presidential Horse Race able to look past their massive egos and remember what started all this in the first place? Or, have we become so forgetful as a nation that crafting useful national security policies takes a backseat to what is still, regardless of how one feels about the Son of a Bush at Pennsylvania Avenue, a real threat?
Bonus points if, upon reading the headline pun, you immediately conjured up Retro Record Thots.
UPDATE: Kudos to EdMcGon for the BB Theme correction. I never could get that thing right. I thought the first words were "Oh, Monsieur ... " until I was 10-years-old. Guess I had Bugs and Daffy confused with Maurice Chevalier ...
Monday, January 22, 2007
Tony Dungy's Moment
But something happened on the way to that promised land. His son committed suicide, and suddenly football became a distant second.
Last year the Colts lost a disappointing game to the Steelers in the divisional round. That loss I'm sure hurt Dungy and his team, but could not compare to the sense of loss he felt after losing his son to suicide.
A year later, football is back, and my hope is that his son, although not here on this earth, is able to be there with his father in spirit, as his father now gets to step into the spot light, and rightfully advance his team into the Super Bowl. This man deserves this opportunity, and has worked extremely hard to get his team to the pinnacle of the National Football League.
This is a man who has great faith in God, is full of conviction, and posses tremendous work ethic.
Coaches like Lovie Smith (who will guide the Bears in the Super Bowl), and Herm Edwards (the Chiefs coach) may not be coaches today if it were not for the tutelage they received under Dungy. Congratulations Coach Dungy. Enjoy the ride!
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Bears vs. Colts
Rex Grossman is vindicated.
Peyton Manning finally has managed to win a "big one" -- and in the final minute, no less.
And, yeah, it's kinda cool that not one, but two black head coaches have led their football teams to the Super Bowl. (Downside of this is that it means black coaches will only have a 1-1 record after the game is over!) Nothing against Lovie Smith, but I'm rooting for Tony Dungy: He's been doing it longer (Jon Gruden won the 2002 Super Bowl for Tampa Bay that should have been Dungy's); he's been a true mentor to other African-American coaches in the league -- notably Smith -- and he's just a real classy gentleman.
Of course, a la Doug Williams 18 years ago, I'm waiting for the first reporter to ask either Dungy or Smith, "How long have you been a black head coach?" or some variation thereof. It will be irresistible -- the fact that the game will be played on the first Sunday of Black History Month will only make it even more of a circus!
So, what? There are two good teams in the game, led by two good men. Let's hope for a good game!
Live Blogging - NFL Championship Games
Bill Come Due
Check out that video of his.
Richardson makes two important points: 1) He has a broad-based resume as "a Congressman, ambassador to the United Nations and secretary of energy" that shows him with a wealth of EXPERIENCE (attention, Mr. Obama) and 2) His listing of accomplishments as governor demonstrates a executive-level ACCOMPLISHMENT of solving specific problems (attention, SENATOR Clinton). And as a Latino, he can toss in the "first of his type" with both front-runners -- and more foreign policy experience than the two of them combined.
Ragged Thots contributor Madscribe said it best in a Comment yesterday:
The DNC being what it is, the ethnic identity politics of Richardson's presence will be fun to watch (I'm running for the Jiffy Pop as we speak!). He also, being a Clinton Royalist, comes to the table with relatively less baggage than Hillary (except for that little drama at the Energy Department in the late 90s). Plus, being closer to the quasi-free market mentality of the DLC than Obama and being a governor and former Executive Cabinet member, Richardson can claim more gravitas than someone just out of a state legislature with no real record (but a ton of book sales and magazine covers).This should actually be an interesting race (of which we shall all be sick of by mid-summer -- of THIS year!
Richardson's presence will also help to show the divisions among the various racial subsets of the DNC, all of which have their own interests which may or may not align with each other, or the party's greater interests. Asians, Latinos, and Jews do NOT have the same stake in Affirmative Action as Blacks, and Latinos do not see themselves as "Black Democrats with Tan Skin." Obama and all his left-wing black cohorts are going to find out the Latino-vote-for- the-black-guy is not an automatic bet. When Latinos have candidates out of their own community to choose from and support, why should they settle for racial sloppy seconds?