The VP Debate: A Massacre?

23 08 2008

Without really getting into the selection of Joe Biden.  I can’t express just how excited I am to see the Vice Presidential debate.  It’s already marked in my calendar.  It was clear that he was in part selected for his aggresiveness and the potential that exists for him to be the Democratic attack dog.  Something that has been sorely missed for far too long.

The Vice Presidential Debate has a tendency to be really boring.  More often than not, the safe pick for each campaign is someone who will speak only when spoken to.  Whether it is Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty facing off against Joe Biden the debate is sure to be hilarious.  I’m hoping that the choice is Pawlenty; he’s a little bland, would be selected in part for his youth and location and definitely not known for being feisty. I’m basically picturing the GOP candidate cowering behind the podium.  Oh man I hope that happens.  This could be quite the event.

Biden in 3


Little League Monster

21 08 2008

This article by Joe DeMartino rang so true that I had to mention it.

It’s not something that you think about often, but facing my Little League Monster is an experience I will never forget.  The sheer terror that was in my heart has not completely left me, more than 13 years later and I don’t know that it will.

My monster was named Jeff Ford and in my mind, he was a freak of nature.  I couldn’t have been more than 5’1, 85lbs at the time, by far the smallest kid on my team and one of the smallest in the league.  So when it came around time to face Jeff Ford’s team, I would be hoping for the week prior that I might not have to face Jeff Ford, that maybe he’d get hurt or have to go out of town.  But that was clearly not in the cards.

On game day, our coach knew the reputation that Jeff had and he without a doubt could see the fear in his eyes.  He knew we were terrified, and tried his best to convince us that the “larger they are, the harder they fall” and that “the faster a ball is pitched, the faster it leaves the park.”  He even challenged us, telling us if any of us were scared, we should raise our hands before the game would start and he just wouldn’t put us in.  I still wish I had raised my hand that day.

As I would approach the batters box I was shaking, there was no need to try to control it.  When I stepped in the box, it was a whole other level of fear.  I think you could have heard my knees knocking for miles.  When he would wind up to throw, I would tighten every muscle in my body, close my eyes at the point of release and just swing.  Needless to say, I never even came close against Jeff Ford.

While I knew that the name Jeff Ford had not escaped me, I was most shocked by the vividness of my memories as I read this article.  I don’t know if these were memories that I had repressed or what, but thinking about them now is pretty amazing.

And the September cover of GQ goes to…

13 08 2008

The one and only, Robert Byrd.  Okay, so it might not be the cover.  But it is a serious feature piece written by Robert Draper on Senator Byrd and one well worth reading.  I’m actually going to go out and buy GQ (I can’t believe I’m admitting that).

This article takes more than the tired look at Robert Byrd, 90-years old and the longest serving member in the Senate (since 1959).  For years, editorials and whispers alike have all held the common theme, “Is it time for Senator Byrd to go?”  In addition to the fact that he is a senator still, even more worrisome is the extremely important role that he holds in the US Senate.  The saddest part is that this is not coming strictly from the right; in fact, the loudest whispers come from those closest to him, the party leadership.  Not entirely surprising given the penchant for status climbing that seems to be inherent in political figures.  But Robert Byrd is not your typical 90-year old, nor your typical US Senator.

While his speeches are the subject of YouTube infamy, showcasing his lack of orthodoxy, they do not however show the effectiveness with which he leads.  I have to admit, nothing made me happier when I was driving all over for United Way than to turn on C SPAN Radio, only to hear the distinct voice of Robert Byrd.  I could listen for hours to that man.  While he may from time to time lose his place or his train of thought, he gets his point across and you can’t help but appreciate the intelligence that he shows when you look past the nature of Senator Byrd’s theatrics.

Reading the interview can be a little painstaking for someone that has faith in him.  It is clear that his age has impacted him severely, but even in such instances, it is still clear that he has his wits about him and definitely his sense of humor.

RD: “We’ve been hearing a lot about age this year,” I say. “Do you think John McCain is too old to be president of the United States?”

RB: “No, he’s not too old to be president! No! Of course he’s not! And I’m not either! You’re looking at a man who could be president—right now!”

Only this isn’t a joke.  He actually does believe this.  The author posits that one day a Senate building might adorn the name of Robert Byrd.  I can only hope this comes true.  He deserves it.

Long live Robert Byrd!

P.S.  One for the road…

Appeasement (the good kind)

8 08 2008

It should be no surprise that the issue of Hillary Clinton’s role in this campaign has not been completely decided as of yet.  There are many Obama supporters, myself included, that could not wait for the primaries to be over so that Barack Obama could officially begin campaigning against John McCain and also so that we would no longer have to listen to Hillary Clinton.  And for the most part, she has fulfilled the role that most hoped she would.  To campaign with Barack Obama on occassion, showing her support for him and even helping him with a little fundraising.

No one expected the reconciliation process to be a smooth ride.  The devotion that many of the supporters on both sides had for their candidates, especially given the historic nature of each is a recipe for disaster.  The Hillary supporters felt that Obama hadn’t done enough to help her with the debts that she incurred or shown her the respect that she deserved.  While Obama supporters have been stymied consistently by Hillary supporters who have been wary to jump on the bandwagon from the start.  This all amounts to very little more than hurt feelings, but it will become a significant problem unless things begin to change.

This relationship between the two sides has charted a perilous course, especially now with Hillary Clinton with the much publicized video of Hillary Clinton discussing her role at the campaign and the potential to be included on a first ballot.

Seen here:

This could be dangerous for Obama, or it could be a huge boon for his campaign, depending on how he chooses to play it.  While this obviously angers and frustrates a great number of Obama supporters, it does not have to be the huge deal that it has been made out to be.  Rather, the Obama campaign should seriously consider putting Hillary Clinton on the ballot at the convention and letting her supporters cast their ballots for her.  While it may seem to be a plea for anarchy, it could work to solidify the oft discussed role and preferences of female voters.

Don’t worry…It was my culture

4 08 2008

If you go back to the brawl, that’s a culture issue right there. Somebody was disrespecting me, so he’s got to understand where I’m coming from. People that know me know that Ron Artest never changed.

–Ron Artest

Really? That brawl in 2004 was about culture? Not about the fact that you have a horrible temper and set off one of the darkest, saddest events in NBA history? That’s a pretty interesting stance on the issue

For those of you that might have missed out (somehow), here is a quick link here. This brawl eventually led to assault charges for a number of players, the video being played on repeat for millions of people around the world to see and finally a number of philosophical changes on the part of the NBA in an attempt to mitigate the effects of the evening. While there was much discussion about the role of the fans in this, given that the fan did throw a beer at Ron Artest.  While no one will condone fans acting like that, it is not the first time and definitely not the last that objects have been thrown onto the playing surface.  There are many old hockey fighting collections where fans will be taunting a player in the penalty box and he will jump up on to the glass and take a swing, but that was always the end of it.  No melee would ensue and ultimately play would continue on as normal.  Why actions like that are tolerated in hockey but not in basketball is subject to a very different debate.  Whatever those reasons may be, we all saw just how different things went in Detroit.

The reason I bring this up is because Ron Artest was just traded to Houston and Yao Ming is obviously a little concerned about the dynamic of his team with this latest roster addition.  Yao expressed concern, albeit in the wrong format by discussing it in the press, but it could have been defused rather quickly.  But Artest turned it into a big deal, by claiming the events of the Brawl in the Palace were the result of his culture and not showing any remorse for the largest black eye the sport has ever seen.  Are you kidding me?

The lack of compunction is something I will never understand.  That night was an absolute disaster for the game of basketball and it set the NBA back a very long way.  To the point that they are so image conscious that they have mandated dress code, not just on the court, but on the bench and after games for press conferences.  Most decisions made on an executive level now have to take into consideration the effect on their image.  And yet, Ron Artest is unwilling to show any remorse for that night.

Don’t worry though, Artest promptly explained that Yao would understand him soon enough and they would be great teammates.  If I were Yao Ming, I would be very concerned.