Some Thoughts On An Eventful Weekend In Sport

sporting-civilizer.jpg Sporting Civilizer

1.  I read on several blogs this weekend that doing a shot every time Bill Raftery says “A little kiss!” or “A smooch!” or “A smoocheroo off the glass!” or “All you need is Love!” is a fun annual March Madness drinking game.  I would like to propose a rule change:  every time Bill Raftery says one of those things, you punch Bill Raftery in the mouth.

2.  Davidson had a nice run, but they were 5 deer in headlights on their last possession.

3.  It’s always fun watching Woody Austin lose.

4.  Watching the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania entrance, complete with Latin chant music, tolling bell, druids with torches aflame, and roiling smoke, in high definition on a 42-inch plasma screen TV is an experience that none should deprive themselves of.

Advertisements

Elite Eight!

bj-fucking-raymond.jpg

Suck it, Huggins

The Beijing Olympics: Time To Party Like It’s 1984

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

Someone remind me why we’re going to such lengths to be chummy with Red China, again?  Is it because we fear their billion-man, technologically limp, under-equipped, maybe scary someday but not right now army?  Are we as a nation enthralled, like the olden courts of Europe were with foods cooked in New World spices, with consumer goods whose special ingredient is lead?  Are we unsatisfied with only having one continent-sized hole in the ozone layer, and we want to do whatever is necessary to help China burn a second one of those bastards in there?

Compelling as those reasons might be, I’ve yet to come across anything about China that makes the light inside my head go on and makes me say “Now these are the kinds of people I want to snuggle up to.”  And that’s before I even get to the part about China propping up the genocidal Sudanese government with weapons and aid, or mowing down endangered animals everywhere.

dead-tv.jpg

But their latest trick is just as galling as whatever else is inside their insidious bag of them, considering how many people are watching – watching plausibly live, apparently.  The Chinese government, in a move that passed with scant international comment, has banned live Olympic coverage from Tiananmen Square.  Fearful of protesters seeking to draw attention to the martial crackdown in Tibet, or hell, protesters seeking to draw attention to any given one item on China’s laundry list of human rights/ecological/diplomatic abuses, the Chinese will not allow any live shots from the famous square lest their Big Brotherish stage managing of their big coming out party be ruined with an inconvenient appeal to the conscience.

I don’t care how significant our commercial interests in China are, I would really like to know how our elected and our appointed officials can continue to look the other way on what can only be termed insidious and Orwellian policy on the part of the Chinese.  It’s bad enough that the country exercises draconian controls over the flow of information to its own citizens, but it is utterly despicable that the rest of the civilized world has gone willingly into the dark along with the Chinese people, voluntarily blind to the consequences of their support of a country whose policies and actions are completely at odds with what I thought was the character of the West.

World governments obviously cannot be counted on to do the right thing here, so this is an open plea to the athletes – there is no bigger stage for an individual than the medal stand after you win gold.  So while your national anthem is playing, your flag is flying, and your medal is gleaming, please, use it.  Have the courage your sponsoring government does not.

Attention Women – Prostitution Can Help Make All Your Dreams Come True: Quote Of The Day

“The girl’s butt we have on there now is pretty good, but if you can get (Dupre) to do it, and to make some personal appearances, it’s like Paris Hilton or something.  We are trying to work out a contract.”

– Martin Silver, chief executive of Star Industries — owners of the U.S. rights to the Georgi vodka brand, currently in talks to pay Spitzer hooker Ashley Alexandra Dupre more than $100,000 to be this year’s Georgi “butt girl,” the brand spokesmodel who gets a close-up ass shot on the back of taxicabs and city buses in New York City.  (source:  adage.com)

Obama’s Race Speech: Critically Acclaimed Flop, Or Ballot Box Office Gold?

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

I don’t want to spend any time here rehashing, commenting, or otherwise opining on Barack Obama’s reallybigspeech on race he gave this week.  Everybody in the American PoliticoDrome with a microphone or a blog or a ham radio has already graded the Illinois Senator and have largely settled on the same conclusion: “Nailed It!”

After Obama ended the speech, a brief content analysis ensued, and since then we’ve been hearing the media say, essentially, the the address was the single greatest collection of words in English since The Beatles White Album, only more lyrical.  Nicholas Kristof, for example, proclaimed it “the best political speech since John Kennedy talked about his Catholicism…It was not a sound bite, but a symphony.”  The Los Angeles Times, comparing Obama to Lincoln and his speech to the 16th president’s “House Divided” speech, said “Sen. Barack Obama, another lanky lawyer from Illinois, planted one of those rhetorical markers in the political landscape Tuesday.” 

So it’s unanimous, Obama’s speech was an oratorical masterstroke.  But here’s what I’m more interested in:  did it work?

A feature of America’s politics is an odd bifurcation:  the proliferation of 24-hour news networks has created a small chattering class – people who either have their own TV shows or people whose job it is to make 5 minute soundbite-laden appearances on those shows – and the rest of the public.  The news networks have to fill all that air time somehow, so they bring in all these pundits, and panels of pundits, and they spend literally hours dissecting an event like Obama’s speech or the New Hampshire primary.  The news channels seem to have modeled themselves on the Sunday afternoon NFL pre-game shows, or ESPN…lots of analysis and banter about a single topic that will play out on its own, in reality, entirely independent of what was said on TV.  Dan Marino can talk all he wants about the importance of containing L.T., and how the 3-4 defense plays into that goal, but it’s quite likely that Philip Rivers is going to be the guy driving the offense and stopping the run will never come into play.  The 24-hour news complex is a lot like that.  Stuff happens, they talk about it, and stuff continues to happen.

This dynamic is interesting to me because these talking heads are the only people who have any kind of a mass-audience reach, which naturally lends their position to that of national political arbiters.  They are the experts, we’re meant to understand, they are the ones who spend their day studying this politics thing, this for gosh sakes is their job.  But coming home from work and turning on Hardball, or Countdown, or The Situation Room(just kidding on that one), you can’t help but get the feeling as the campaign drags on that these people truly are talking in a vaccum.  They get an event like this latest speech on race in America, they make very certain and declarative remarks like “Obama said exactly what he needed to say, and this is going to turn out to be a turning point in this campaign for the Democrats,” and then they praise the whole thing from every angle.  If you watch these shows, you’d think Obama positioned himself as a politician with supernatural talents who has triumphantly opened a productive dialogue on one of America’s seediest and buried-but-just-under-the-surface issues.  Surely such an acheivement leaves the petty, sniping Hillary Clinton behind as a relic, just another pol trying to win an office.  Obama is America, the Upgraded Version.

And then I poke my head out of the punditry cloud, and come across some data that raises an eyebrow:  a few days before the speech, Obama had a statistically significant lead over Clinton nationally among Democrats.  And then, a couple days after Obama’s Best Speech Ever, Obama’s lead evaporates and Clinton takes the lead.  She jumped ahead in the crucial upcoming state of Pennsylvania.  Huh?  I thought Obama faced the toughest test of his campaign, stepped into the full glare of the gaffe-hungry media spotlight, and delivered like Eli Manning facing a furious New England rush…if he did so beautifully, why is he losing so soon afterward?

It’s been a real blogosphere education…I never, ever, really thought that the political opinion mill had much of an effect on public opinion – it’s the news media with their reporting on issues and scandals that moves the needle for the average voter.  But this Obama speech crystallized something for me.  The news channel pundits really are, like this post title suggests, movie critics – people well-versed in commenting on a highly subjective topic, and whose opinions are very likely to be outright ignored by the only people who matter – the ones who buy movie tickets.  And Pat Buchanan, Joe Scarborough, Rachel Maddow, Dee Dee Myers, Dana Milbank, Tom Brokaw and their like can talk about how well the respective candidates are doing and how effectively they are campaigning, but those opinions are quite likely to have all the influence of the Village Voice’s endorsement of a subtitled Hungarian romance movie…say what they want, no one’s seeing it.

Barack Obama has been the critics favorite for many months now, but as the road gets rocky, it looks like we’re going to find out if the man’s act has, as they say in the movie business, legs.  The media has certainly set their narrative, but they keep forgetting to include one thing – regular people are actually going to vote on this stuff.

Bear Stearns Goes For Two Dollars A Share

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

If you haven’t heard by now, you’re gonna hear a lot about it soon…Bear Stearns, the venerable, aggressive I-bank lately rocked worse than many of its money-grubbing breathren by the subprime securities implosion, is being sold to JPMorgan Chase for $2 a share.  It closed on Friday at $30, with a market capitalization of around $3.5 billion.  And it’s going to Chase for an incredible $250 million.  Two dollars a share for Bear Stearns!  Seriously, this disaster involves fuckupery so egregious that it makes the guy who rammed the Titanic into the iceberg look like a pilot on par with Charles Lindbergh.

bear-stearns-hq.jpg

Bear Stearns, founded 1923.  Keep watching the building, you should start seeing the greedy imbeciles who sank the company taking swan dives pretty soon.

There has been, and will continue to be, thousands of words written dedicated to a post-mortem examination of Bear Stearns and the subprime meltdown in general.  I urge you to read them, but if you don’t feel like it, here’s all you really need to take away from all this:

If you are going to buy up a bunch of mortgages in billion-dollar bundles for the expressed purpose of getting a fat return on that investment, and you are going to buy so many of those mortgages that the very solvency of your company will come to lean on their performance, and that performance is wholly predicated on the very performance of those mortgages – by which I mean, very simply, are the individuals living in houses they got with these mortgages writing their check to the bank (and ultimately you) on time – then god dammit, MAYBE YOU WHARTON SCHOOL DIPSHITS OUGHT TO MAKE SURE THE MORTGAGES YOU’RE BUYING WERE UNDERWRITTEN THE RIGHT WAY AND THE BORROWERS CAN PAY.

Shall I Make Up The Gubernatorial Couch Again Tonight, Sir?

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

There is a silver lining for Eliot Spitzer.  He may have wrecked his marriage, cost himself the governorship, damaged his long-term political career, and taken himself off the VP list for the coming election, but he’s gotta look on the bright side.  At least the FBI affidavit, which reports the following details…

* Kristen, the prostitute, “liked him [Spitzer] and did not think he was difficult.”

* Spitzer did not ask the lady to “do things that, like, you might think were not safe,” and she was “OK with whatever went on.”

…might reveal him to be an adulterous cad, but it’s not like he’s a total perv or anything.

eliot-spitzer-measures-up.jpg

If only there was some sort of hooker scandal-related remark that fit with this picture…

And hey…he might even have coined a new political catchphrase!  I’m pushing hard – the next time a politician gets caught up in a prostitution sting, no matter that politician’s level of visibility or obscurity, I think we oughta say something like “Man, Senator Smith sure got Client 9’d, didn’t he?”