Friday, July 09, 2010


Open Thread

After a several week absence, the return of the Open Thread! Have your way on anything you wish over the weekend, into next week, etc. 

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Comic Book Friday: Superman In Gotham

CollegeHumor considers the implications of Superman flying in to stamp out crime in Batman's city:

See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.

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The LeBron Hypocrisy -- It's Not His

How DARE he?  How DARE LeBron James -- not just exercise his free-agent right to take his talents elsewhere -- but turn it into a prime-time televised ESPN event? How dare he drive a stake into the heart of his hometown?

How dare he turn all of this into a circus? How dare he act like the second coming of Michael Jordan when he hasn't won anything yet?

This is the general -- not just Cleveland -- media denunciation of James for his "The Decision" special that announced his plan to play for the Miami Heat. His former owner, Dan Gilbert was ruthless in castigating James for his escape to South Beach. The words drip with venom: "deserted," "cowardly betrayal," "shameful display of selfishness," and the coup de grace:
This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.
In a later interview, Gilbert added that James "quit" during the playoffs. (Strangely though, Gilbert still wanted this "quitter" to resign with his team! Funny that, eh?) 

Again, it all came down to three words:  How dare he?

Well, quite easily actually. It's not like all these bigger-than-the-game impulses just popped into his head out of nowhere. Let's go back a mere seven years:
[With] Jordan retiring for the third--and he says final time--if all of the hype and expectations are valid, the answer to that often-asked question could come in the form of a 6-foot-8, 240-pound, 18-year-old high schooler whose spectacular play has prompted onlookers to refer to him as "King James."
LeBron James, who has been called "the best high school player ever," is a creative dunker with the explosiveness of Jordan and the passing ability of Magic Johnson. Not since Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) was a high schooler in the '60s has a high school sensation gotten so much exposure and generated so much excitement. He is what sports experts call "a legitimate showstopper" who has, during his tenure at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, exhibited the kind of fan-pleasing ability that will likely make him the NBA's No. 1 draft pick on June 26.
James, who has a 32-point scoring average and 3.75 grade-point average, is a cordial, sometimes engaging youngster who is characterized by his unselfishness on the court that's mixed with a bit of flamboyance. And it's those credentials that elevated him to the level where he was the focus of what was called the "Fantastic Scholastic LeBron James Tour," an 8,500-mile, cross-country road schedule that included stops in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Dayton and Greensboro, N.C. 
The McDonald's High School Player of the Year is a unique package of athletic ability and charisma that has enthralled spectators in ways not seen before at this level. This spring, for example, sellout crowds of 20,000 or more attended several All-Star games in which he played, and some paid upward of $85 to see him. There are nearly 1,100 LeBron James items listed on eBay. And when was the last time that a high schooler has generated so much excitement that his regular-season games were nationally televised? Earlier this year, James' introduction to nationwide TV gained ESPN2 its largest audience in two years.
The title of the above article from the June 2003 Ebony?  "Is LeBron James the next Michael Jordan? High school phenom could be the answer to one of the NBA's biggest questions"

Just read that piece. It makes quite clear that, despite what LeBron critics say now, the "King James" appellation was given him by "onlookers."  While other eighteen-year olds high school students are allowed to be eighteen in relative anonymity, LeBron James was anointed by his local school and athletic program as the second coming of Jordan.  St. Vincent-St. Mary High School was allowing ESPN to broadcast his games.  Think about that:  This wasn't just a reporter and camera crew coming by to cover the latest phenom. This wasn't the network covering the end-of-season McDonald's All-Star Games; this was the biggest sports network in the world telecasting a high school game because of a wunderkind. And being rewarded with huge ratings!!  

Yeah, you can bet his school didn't sell those rights for nothing.  And "[James] was the focus of what was called the "Fantastic Scholastic LeBron James Tour," an 8,500-mile, cross-country road schedule that included stops in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Dayton and Greensboro, N.C."

So, a high school team was "treated" to a schedule that might exhaust a college -- or pro -- team.

So, after being pimped out by the adults around him in high school, who helped promote him to the heavens in national media -- accruing all sorts of attention and financial ripples themselves -- LeBron learned a major lesson:  There's major interest in what he does and where he goes -- and if he doesn't market/manipulate the direction of his life, someone else will and they'll reap all the benefits that go with it.  "1,100 LeBron James items listed on eBay."  When he was still in high school!

Did James go about announcing "The Decision" in the "correct" way?  Maybe not. But what was the "correct" way for a still-young man who has been told from early on that every aspect of his life had to be on stage?  NowLeBron James' existence mean to Dan Gilbert's Cavaliers over the last seven years? Hundreds of millions easily.  How much to Cleveland? Arguably billions. But, he's required to "stay bought"?  Really? And Akron-Cleveland got to unilaterally introduce LeBron James to the world, crowned him before his time and reveled as his star grew.  But, he doesn't get to depart that circus on his own terms?  


People may think that LeBron thinks that "This is my world and everyone else just lives in it."  Nope.  He's just taken the cues that the world's been giving him from an early age and has adapted himself to them. And that may turn out to be the best "decision" he ever made.  

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War! What Is It Good For?

...if not "ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (say it again)," it's increasingly become a topic of real debate on the right.  What hath Michael Steele wrought in his impolitic (and quickly retracted) charge that Afghanistan was a war of Obama's choosing?  

Bill Kristol said that Steele should resign; Ann Coulter then wrote a column declaring that Kristol should resign and raised the seemingly-verboten question whether "permanent war" had become a conservative precept.  

That column has triggered requests for open discussion on matters of war and peace -- Afghanistan in particular, but the broader question of foreign policy interventionism.  Conservatives Matt Lewis and David Freddoso discuss the lay of the land.

In the past, it's been said that a slip of the lip can sink ships.  It would appear that Steele's slip of the tongue (if one can charitably call it that) may actually  spark a conversation within the GOP that leads to the ships, planes, tanks, etc., returning home.  

And here's an interesting irony:  The fact that this debate is breaking out in the Republican Party is one more indication that Ron Paul's 2008 campaign (and its war-skeptic rhetoric) may prove to be one of the most influential efforts by a presidential also-ran ever

Stay tuned.  

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