Thursday, September 10, 2009

Do Look Down

There has been a big deal made out of Senator Joe Wilson (R-SC) yelling "Liar" during President Obama's big speech last night in front of a joint session of Congress. People are outraged that someone would yell at a President. I heard one analyst on CNN call a joint session of Congress "one of the most sacred meetings of our government". Sacred? Really? Regardless, if I recall, this is the United States of America. We have the 1st Amendment here; the right to free speech. Granted, Wilson represents everything I hate about the Republican Party (rich, white and Southern), but he stills has the right to voice his opinion, and the opinion of his constituents. This episode, and the reaction to it, represents how elitist our politicians are. Since when do we have such a high standard of manners in this country? Furthermore, what would the reaction be if someone yelled that at Bush during one of his speeches about Iraq?

Although I disagree with him, I admire the fact that a congressman had the fortitude to publicly call out the President. The job of the Legislative Branch is to check the powers of the President. Senator Wilson did just that. Had Democrats and Republicans had the same fortitude in 2002 and 2003, about 50,000 more young Americans would be alive today rather than dead in Iraq. The President is not our King, not our one Ruler. He must constantly be kept in check by the people and those who represent the people. It's about time someone stood up to the Office of the President. The Executive, under W. increased its power exponentially. Obama has not once mentioned scaling back executive power. No ruler will give up his power once given to him. People yelling at the President is necessary to an active democracy. What is even more vital, however, is that we, as the American public take every opportunity to yell at our elected officials.

H.L. Mencken is credited as saying that, "The only way a reporter should look at a politician is down."


Friday, June 26, 2009

According to Plan

I should say that this post is inspired by the recent premier of The Dark Knight being on HBOHD at least once a day. If you haven't watched it in HD, you are definitely missing out. Also, I'm writing this the day after the "tragic" death of Michael Jackson.
The outpouring of grief and emotion after the King of Pop's death is, among other things, pathetic. While my man could sing and dance better than anyone, back in the day, he really hasn't done anything good in about 20 years. And it goes without saying that he touched little boys. It's sad that so many people worship someone who is best known as an entertainer. People don't line up outside of VA hospitals when a 21-year-old soldier dies of complications from shrapnel in his brain.
I think this speaks to the misplaced priorities in our culture. People are putting so much energy into grieving for a man they never met. They are spending money to buy roses to put on makeshift memorials for a person who never even knew they existed. Fans are crying over the loss of someone who sang and danced for a living. And furthermore, did I mention he touched little boys? Sure, yea, I know, he was never convicted of anything, but he did settle a bunch of those cases out of court for millions of dollars. Also, what grown man puts himself in situations like that? Boo hoo, I know, Michael Jackson didn't have a childhood and Joseph beat him. So what? Unfortunately, thousands of children in this country are abused and have to grow up too fast, but that's not an excuse for being a creeper. Joe Torre got beaten by his dad, nuff said.
One of the most evil characters in American cinema, The Joker said, "You know... You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go 'according to plan.' Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan." But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds! "
People don't really care when most people die, but when anybody with any amount of fame passes on, it's a "tragedy", "so sad", "a shock". It really upsets me that people shed tears over this man. Yes, he was undoubtedly a big part of American culture (in the '80s and '90s) and there will probably be no one like him again (parents of little boys are rejoicing). But that's not sad, that's just life. Something sad is that 12.7% of all American deaths in Iraq have been 21-year-olds or that 79% have been under that age of 30. Something sad is that 15 million kids in American don't get enough food. Those things are sad. Put people don't shed tears for things like that or spend money to try and rectify the situation. I guess we shouldn't care because that's all "according to plan".

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Are You Not Entertained?

Howdy there folks. Been some time I know and I apologize to the 3 people who actually check this blog. My bad, but I've been busy. I've talked a lot about politics and some of the generally horrible stuff going on in the world, but for this post, I'm going back to the one thing I know really well: sports. This year, the sports world has been shocked by the allegations and confessions that both Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez are (and most likely were) steroid users. Talking heads talk of their "disappointment" and "dismay" that players of their stature would even consider using steroids. When it comes down to it, however, it doesn't really matter. Steroids or no, , the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and even the MLS are as exciting as they've been as least in my 23+ years on this planet. Professional sports are, have always been and always will be a diversion; an organized form of entertainment. Regardless of the health and moral issues associated with steroids, have you not been entertained during the so-called "Steroid Era"?

To start, anybody who hates on steroids and steroids users has a short memory. How many among us were not enthralled during the summer of 1998 when Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa were pumping out homeruns at incredible paces? For all the sanctimonious baseball writers who say they will never vote either of these men into the Hall of Fame, without them, most of you would not have a job right now. Those two men, not Cal Ripken, saved baseball after the strike of '94. Sure, it was awesome and impressive to see Cal break Lou Gehrig's consecutive game streak, but let's be honest, stadiums don't sell out to see a guy show up to work a lot. Chicks dig the long ball. Admit it, even for those of us who appreciate a seeing eye single between short and third, a home run is still the coolest thing in baseball. As Roger Angell succintly put it, "Home runs tend to stop a game--the men on base, the defensive deployments, the pitcher's struggles, the count, the score--has been snipped, and all our attention falls on the hero."

Second, and I've said this before on this very blog, sports is a business. As much as we like to thing that there is something pure about sports (and there is to some extent), sports are a BIG business nowadays. Just like everything else, capitalism has turned sports into a commodity; something bought and sold at ever-increasing prices. As competition increases, participants in the commodity chain have to take ever more drastic steps to gain an advantages over others. This in turn makes them big bucks. I do not judge or hate on any ahtlete for using steroids. If owners are going to pay me to hit balls 500ft 50 times a year, then I'm going to take their money. Show me a person who wouldn't want to get paid to play any sport for a living and I'll show you a psycho. ARod, Manny, Sosa, McGuire, etc. get or got paid to play ball everyday. Sure beats sitting at a cubicle, teaching bratty middle schoolers or picking up garbage (nothing wrong with any other things, but playing ball everyday is definitely better). Judge ARod and Manny all you want, but you'll have to judge them all the way to the bank. Sure, you may be disappointed in them, but their checks still clear every two weeks. And if you really want to judge somebody, judge the people in the financial sector who have shaken our economy to the ground. ARod may be an asshole, but it's not his fault that your 401(k) has no money in it anymore.

Finally, let's take baseball, and all sports, for what it's worth. They are entertainment. They give us something to look forward to after a long day of work. They, perhaps more than any other institutions in the U.S. bring people together to focus on something positive. They keep thousands of children and adults in shape by offering a cheap form of exercise. They allow us to follow rules that, for better or worse, make sense to us. Sports are just plain fun. Steroids don't ruin the fun. What steroids have done is pulled away the curtain that protects us from seeing the business of sports. And always remember, no matter the level, it is just a game. As the man Reggie Jackson said, "I am reminded that when we lose and I strike out, a billion people in China don't care." There are far greater problems in the world than anything that happens in the sports business. But business though it may be, it is the most entertaining business I know.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Please Read This

Please, just read this article. It's a little long, but please do it. It'll be worth your while.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Madoff Mayhem

Ok, before I begin this rant, look at this picture. My man Bernie is straight pimpin'. Not only does he not have to carry his own umbrella, but the person who carries it for him remains out of his sight. Shalom L'chaim bro.

Bernie Madoff is an asshole. He knowingly defrauded hundreds of his own people out of their life savings in order to make himself a fortune. As of today, he's set up to spend his last days behind bars. That's fine, but for people like this I'm a bigger fan of the firing squad (that's quick, no sodium pentathol).

So Madoff is done (sorry, but Bernie in my book is CF #51, so I won't tarnish the name anymore). Good job justice system, you got something right for once. But, one question: Where are the prison sentences for the CEOs of AIG, Lehmann Bros., Bear Stearns, Citi, BofA and the heads of Fannie and Freddie? All these usurers got us to where we are now; in a drain spinning down.

It would be hard to any lawyer or politician to convince me that these people don't belong behind bars making friends with some poor minority inmates. Not only would it be an interesting experiment to see the winner of Darwinism v. Social Darwinism, but it would be righteous. We are a country that jails 2.2 million citizens. Over 1 million of those are for non-violent drug offenses. Most of these 2.2M come from poverty. Yet those with suits and an MBA get a slap on the wrist. Their children get to keep their trust funds and Upper West Side palace apartments. This has nothing to do with white or black, but everything to do with rich or poor.

It's the white collar criminals who really ruin people's lives. In hard times, people want their money to be safe, yet the greed of a few has ruined the frugality of the many. You never hear of bank robberies anymore; maybe it's that the bankers have already taken it for themselves.

Drugs are bad, but a drug dealer never took hundreds of his own people for their life savings. Drug dealers buy for a nickel and sell for a dime. Drug dealers are trying to be successful in a society that has set them up for failure. Drug dealers never bought up bogus mortgages. Drug dealers know better than to lend money to people who can't pay it back. What is and is not a crime is a social-construction. Selling drugs is illegal because poor people do it. Buying up bad mortgages and speculating with other's money isn't because people do it from an office with a suit on.

"Capitalism is glorified institutionalized street crime. "

Friday, February 13, 2009

No, You're the Asshole

Let me start by saying that I have never been a big fan of ARod. I never wanted the Yankees to get him, but hell, the man is an incredible baseball player no matter what I think of him personally. As anyone who hasn't been living in the Congo knows, it turns out that ARod used steroids between 2001 and 2003 (at least). Once again, I need to say it: So What? Why is this such a big deal?

I can't tell you how many times I've heard the expression, "Well, [insert players name] knows that [insert sport here] is a business" whenever a player is getting cut or traded. Owners and GMs will do almost anything to win. They'll cut or veteran players who have played their hearts out for a team. They'll give up on young players before they have a chance to prove themselves. Anything. As long as the team remains profitable. But when a player tries to get an advantage to make himself more profitable and get paid, this is a problem.

If we, as fans have to accept the fact that baseball is indeed a business, then we have to accept that everyone involved is, in his own way, a businessman. ARod did the equivalent of bankers giving out bad loans in hopes of a personal payout. People will judge ARod and people will hate on him a ton. He made a raitonal choice: the risk of taking steroids did not did not outweight $25 million per year. I'm sure whoever came up with that headline figured the risk of public insulting someone did not outweigh the notoriety he would get in his job. But I ask of anyone willing ot cast judgement: If you knew you could get $25 million per year for the next decade, but you had to take steroids, wouldn't you at least consider it?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Michael Phelps, Rockin the Ganj

Michael Phelps is pretty much the man. He has 14 Gold Medals, 7 world records and was born 31 days before yours truly. I've graduated college, that's about it. Now Phelps has experimented with the most deadly drug in the world, marijuana. The drug that automatically makes you try heroin within seconds of inhalation. The drug that has been the scourge of the inner cities since the 1980s. The drug that will make you bigger, faster, stronger and get you into professional sports. The drug that you can get from a doctor and then sell to all your friends who want to stay up late and study for finals. Oh wait, none of those things are pot. My damn memory's going....

There's an old saying that you can't judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes. Fair enough. So, anyone who wants to start throwing stones at Phelps, feel free to do so, but remember, you have to walk a mile in his shoes. You have to imagine being the most famous swimmer in the history of the sport. You have to imagine being the person who made millions tune into the Olympics even though doing so would be tacit acceptance of China (ew, gross). You have to imagine having broken Mark Spitz's record for individual gold medals in one Olympics. You have to imagine having done all this and being 23 years old. I wish I could be a criminal like Michael Phelps.

Everyone needs to back the fuck up. The dude toked a bong at a party, the reefer equivalent of taking a shot of Cuervo someone hands you even though tequila makes you sick. Yea, I know he's a role model and kids look up to him. It is parents' responsibilities to make sure their kids aren't smoking pot (or maybe to make sure they are smoking pot to aid them in winning 14 gold medals - think about it); so sucks to that argument. Yea, he broke the law. I broke the law about 20 minutes ago, I was going 55 in a 40 zone and that endangered a lot more youngins than Michael Phelps. This incident is perhaps the greatest argument for the legalization of marijuana. The United States, where pot is illegal but the President, a Supreme Court Justice, and its most famous athlete have toked. The United States, land of free, home of the hypocrites.