Archive for November, 2012

Nov
29

Holy Bidding, Batman!!

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It was one of the coolest things I ever saw on television, and I was just a wee lad of four years old.

Oh, how I loved to watch the Batmobile in the Adam West-ravaged, 1960s TV series, “Batman,” leave the Bat Cave.

First, there was the firing of the ignition, which always included the stock shot of flames shooting from the Batmobile’s exhaust. That was cool, too.

But there was something about the black, souped-up 1955 Lincoln Futura zooming from the cave that captivated me.

That’s because there was this small guard rail that would flip down, enabling the Batmobile to pass through. THAT was the coolest thing.

Some things just grab us and don’t let go, particularly from our youth.

There was something about that guard rail flipping down that I thought was just so awesome in its simple auspiciousness.

That image comes to mind as I read that the Batmobile is going up for auction. It’ll happen on January 19, 2013, at the Barrett-Jackson auction house in Scottsdale, AZ.

The Batmobile is a 19-foot long, black work of art—maybe the coolest vehicle ever, something that Henry Ford could never have conceived in his wildest imagination.

So how much will it fetch in auction?

No one is saying, which is appropriate, because mystery has always been such a large part of the Batman character, from the comic books to the “Dark Knight” movies.

George Barris and his original Batmobile creation


The original Batmobile (there have been some replicas) was created by George Barris, a Los Angeles-based car customizer. I don’t know if Barris was given a blueprint, a clay model, or was just left to his own devices, but regardless, he created a masterpiece. The machine (it seems too small to call it a car) has been kept in marvelous condition over the years.

There was so much for a small boy to love about the Batmobile. The flaming exhaust, the bubble top, the siren, the wings, etc., all captivated. And, come on—it was 19 feet long!

Thanks to YouTube, here’s a 29-second clip of the boys racing to the Batmobile and leaving the cave. Watch for the guard rail flipping down just before the machine hits the highway!

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Nov
28

Two Minus a Half Men

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I’m not sure which is more troubling—that Angus T. Jones has come out against his own show, “Two and a Half Men,” as being “filth,” or that it took the young man so many years to come to that conclusion.

Jones, 19, who has been part of the one-joke show for its entire nine-year run, blasted “Men” in a video recorded in October but that has just recently popped up on YouTube.

Appearing with a mostly shaved head and looking like either a hostage or a cult member, Jones says to the camera, “I’m on ‘Two and a Half Men’ and I don’t want to be on it…Please stop watching it and filling your head with filth,” Jones adds. “Do some research on the effects of television and your brain, and I promise you you’ll have a decision to make when it comes to television and especially with what you watch on television.”

Thanks for the advice, Angus, but I don’t think you need to do much research to come to the conclusion that “Men” is not exactly a TV show that is brimming with highbrow humor.

For nine years (the past two with Ashton Kutcher as Jon Cryer and Jones’ co-star; the first seven were with the manic Charlie Sheen), “Men” has managed to crank out episode after episode on a premise that would appear to have a short shelf life.

Jones plays Cryer’s son. Cryer is divorced and for the first seven years he shared an apartment with his boozing, womanizing brother Charlie (Sheen, in a real stretch). Cryer has a contentious relationship with his ex-wife, which, when Jones was younger, was played for laughs as Jones was the feuding ex-spouses’ pawn.

Kutcher joined the show two seasons ago as suicidal billionaire Walden Schmidt, who was saved from his death march into the Pacific Ocean because it was too cold. Schmidt then wound up at the late Charlie Harper’s home and taken in by Cryer’s character, Alan.

So where is all the “filth” (Jones’s word) that Angus T. Jones is talking about?

Well, pretty much everywhere.


Angus T. Jones

“Men” shoves sex in your face, plus juvenile bathroom humor; the hilarity of divorce when kids are involved; alcoholism; one-night stands; teen apathy; and other bad character traits of various guest stars and secondary players.

Other than that, it’s clean and wholesome fun.

Jones’s tirade would appear to be his way of ending his contract, though there has been no comment yet from Warner Brothers studios, the studio where “Men” is shot, about their child star’s outburst.

When a celebrity spouts off such religious righteousness, it is often an indicator that he/she is about to walk away from the business. But it’s far too early to determine whether Jones’ pious-filled beat down of “Men” is an indictment of just that show, or of the business in general.

Maybe we’ll see Jones turn up somewhere else on television, a medium not known for its dignity.

The kid is right about “Men,” of course. Even if he is a bit of a slow learner.

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Vince Lombardi is dead. Mike Ditka has faded away.

Bill Belichick is all the rage. Mike McCarthy lives on.

The Lions, the team that can’t shoot straight and hasn’t since 1957, is once againzigging when the league’s winners are zagging.

They are a team wound tight, and it all starts with their coach.

Lombardi and Ditka, two larger-than-life coaches, were godfathers of their time. There was no coach in the NFL that could evade the shadow cast by Lombardi in the 1960s, a decade he and his Green Bay Packers owned.

“What the HELL is going on out there?” Lombardi bellows even today from the sidelines, his immortal self still pumped through our televisions thanks to NFL Films. “You’re supposed to be a helluva defensive team! Didn’t look like it to me! Eighty yards down the field, just like that!”

“Nobody’s tackling out there! Everybody’s grabbing. NOBODY tackling. Grab, grab, grab!”

It’s forever iconic—Lombardi on the sidelines, in his winter coat and hat, gap-toothed and angry as his defense jogs off after surrendering a long scoring drive. Wanna bet that the Packers won the game anyway?

Ditka, aka Iron Mike, is also forever captured on celluloid and stamped on our consciousness. Chomping on his gum, Ditka gets in the faces of Richard Dent, SteveMcMichael, Jim McMahon and at whoever else Iron Mike wants to rattle his saber.

Like Lombardi in the ‘60s, Ditka was the coach with the big shadow in the 1980s. His Bearsonly won one Super Bowl in the decade, but his teams were always contenders and his 1985 squad might be among the Top 5 teams in NFL history.

Lombardi and Ditka were coaches wound tight at a time when that worked. They were rah-rah and fiery and the Knute Rocknes of their time, when Knute Rockne was still relevant even in death.

That was then.

Having a head coach that is a loose cannon isn’t what works in today’s NFL.

Belichick, the New England Patriots coach since 2000, would come in last in a Mister Congeniality Contest. He has the personality of mold. You’ll find better quotes from a frog.

McCarthy, today’s Packers coach, is the anti-Lombardi. McCarthy doesn’t toss his rolled up play sheet to the ground. He doesn’t bark. He hasn’t uttered any iconic quotes and never will. Whereas Lombardi looked like a football coach, McCarthy could be your next door neighbor who borrows your lawn mower. Probably even the one who loans you his.

Boring works in today’s NFL. Staid is the way. A general calm, from top to bottom, is what today’s winning franchises exude.

Today’s winners don’t bitch about not getting respect, especially when none is deserved.

 

The Lions are a team wound tight, in a freefall from their brief stay at respectability. If you want to finger point, you can skip the 53 guys in uniform and zero in on their coach, Jim Schwartz.

This is a guy who can’t even get through a post-game handshake without a hockey game breaking out.

I’ve been a supporter of Schwartz’s, and with good reason. He took a team from the abyss of 0-16 and gradually and steadily improved them, going from two wins in his first season to six in his second to 10 (and a playoff berth) in his third.

But going 2-14 and 6-10 and 10-6 (plus a first round playoff knockout) is one thing. Being consistently good and being spoken of in annual Super Bowl contender discussions is quite another.

Teams like the Patriots, Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens et al, teams who always seem to have 10+ wins every year and show up annually to the NFL playoff party, are franchises rooted in calm and which have cool heads from top to bottom.

They don’t act impetuously. Their players don’t whine to the media, or run afoul of the law or the league’s rules. Their coaches don’t act like raving lunatics.

If the Lions are going to be more than occasional (read: flukey) playoff participants, they have to calm the heck down.

They have to stop stewing about lack of respect, as center Dominic Raiola did before last Sunday’s game against the Packers. The (then) 4-5 Lions, Raiola felt, weren’t getting any love from national media websites who were dismissing his team’s playoff chances. He dared to compare the Lions to the also 4-5 New Orleans Saints.

 

“But then the Saints are 4-5 and they’re right in the hunt,” Raiola told the Detroit Free Press. “How the (bleep) does that work out? I don’t know. Whatever. We’re 4-5, too. So they’re basically writing us off.”

The Saints won the Super Bowl three years ago. They have been winners for several years running. The Lions have one playoff win in 55 years. And still Raiola wonders why the Saints’ 4-5 isn’t treated the same as the Lions’ 4-5.

When was the last time you heard a player from the Patriots, Packers, Steelers, Ravenset al complain about a lack of respect?

Raiola was at it again earlier this week, after the Lions imploded against the Packers and before the 9-1 Houston Texans came to town for the annual Thanksgiving Day game. He was speaking about Houston defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who is having a remarkable season.

“Bring it,” Raiola dared Watt through the media.

So Watt brung it, to the tune of three sacks, several quarterback hurries, five tackles and a couple of batted down passes. And the Lions lost.

The Lions, against the Texans, let another game slip away largely because of a gaffe committed by their head coach that was borderline incompetent.

Schwartz tried to challenge a touchdown scored by Houston running back Justin Forsett, an 81-yard gallop that should have been nullified by virtue of the fact that Forsett was clearly down according to TV cameras, yet the officials’ whistles didn’t blow. A booth review, automatic on all scoring plays, surely would have called the touchdown back.

 

But Schwartz, acting as impulsively and with the same lack of discipline and brains that his team frequently shows, whipped out his red challenge flag and slammed it into the Ford Field turf, a move as illegal as going through a red light, according to the NFL rule book, which states that attempts to challenge a touchdown play are as against the rules as they are unnecessary.

Now, you can say that the rule is silly. You can say that it would be nice if the referee, Walt Coleman, would have sidled up to Schwartz and said, “Jim, put the flag away. The guys in the booth will take a look at it.”

But Schwartz should know the rules. Of all the boneheaded moves the Lions (and their coaches) have made over the years, Schwartz’s blunder might be at the top of the list. It’s right up there with Marty Mornhinweg taking the wind and Bobby Ross going for two.

“I was just so mad, I had the flag out before (Forsett) got to the end zone,” Schwartz told the media after the game.

The Lions are undisciplined, mouthy and in a freefall.

Just like their coach.

 

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Nov
23

The Question Is…(Beats Me)

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When I first started watching “Jeopardy,” the dollar values were $10-50 for the first round and $20-100 for Double Jeopardy. The answers were revealed by stagehands pulling cards backstage. The only lights were the ones illuminating the stage. Don Pardo was the show announcer. Art Fleming was the host, and he didn’t have all sorts of foreign words to over-pronounce. No one won trips or tens of thousands of dollars. The categories included such as “Potent Potables” and “Potpourri.”

But the game was still damned hard to play, and needed legitimate intellect in order to succeed. “Jeopardy” was never about spinning wheels or drawing cards or shouting “Big Money! Big Money!” or “No Whammies!” It was never about dumb luck or bouncing up and down on stage like a contestant on “Let’s Make a Deal.”

“Jeopardy” is the one game show that can make me feel intellectually bankrupt. Yet it’s that very feeling that draws me to it, like an insect to a porch light.

Not that I am an avid viewer. I don’t stop what I’m doing at 7:30 p.m. to flip on channel 4 to catch Alex Trebek, that crusty old Canadian, delight in pronouncing various languages’ words. But when I do happen to tune in, when the stars and the moon align properly, I find every episode to be challenging and fun.

There’s a small joy I take in every “Jeopardy” question I can correctly ask. Each one is a mini victory. I consider myself a pretty good trivia guy, but the stuff these “Jeopardy” people know isn’t trivia, it’s a bunch of mini college theses.

There hasn’t been an episode of “Jeopardy” yet, where I haven’t mused aloud, “How do these people know this stuff, anyway?”

How does one study for an appearance on the show? How do you bone up on subject matter that can range from 18th Century European Literature to the history of minerals?

Yet Merv Griffin’s creation (he came up with the idea of providing questions for answers, he said, while on a plane) has been featuring eggheads in six different decades now, all asking questions involving subject matter that I have no idea about how they have acquired the knowledge.

I’m a sucker for Final Jeopardy.

If I don’t see any other part of the show, I want to see Final Jeopardy. And not just because of the iconic music that’s played while the contestants scribble their questions.

It’s the ultimate challenge. They give you the category then take a commercial break, giving you the requisite two minutes to wonder what on Earth the answer could be. Then Trebek comes back and reads the answer. The music is cued and plays. Everyone—the contestants in the studio and those of us at home—have about 60 seconds to come up with the correct question.

There’s no better feeling of accomplishment than correctly identifying the Final Jeopardy question. It can more than make up for the previous 22 minutes of feeling like an idiot, which those eggheads make me feel like.

I caught the show last night, while at my mother’s house for Thanksgiving. As usual, I was correct a pathetically low percentage of the time. As usual, I felt like an intellectual midget.

And, as usual, I can’t wait to try it again.

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Nov
21

Replacing the Cloak

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The Sesame Street Muppets have become such a part of our social consciousness that I don’t think any of us really stop to think that the Muppets aren’t living, breathing creatures—we must remember that they’re puppets, controlled and voiced by living, breathing humans.

Humans, as in imperfect beings.

The face of Elmo, one of the more popular Muppets, was ripped off in a shocking and vile manner recently, revealing that its puppeteer, Kevin Clash, has been allegedly involved, in the past, with some hanky panky with at least one underage youth.

Two accusers came out against Clash, who is openly gay. The first recanted, saying that the relationship was consensual and legal (age-wise). But then a second accuser surfaced, and this one says that he and Clash became involved when the former was just 15 years old.

The second accuser has slapped Clash with a $5 million lawsuit, claiming he (the accuser) had only recently become aware of “adverse psychological and emotional effects.”

Uh-huh.


Kevin Clash and Elmo

Regardless of the credibility of the accusations, Clash has submitted his resignation. Elmo is in need of a new alter ego.

Sesame Workshop issued this statement regarding Clash’s resignation.

“Sesame Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential. Kevin Clash has helped us achieve that mission for 28 years, and none of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from ‘Sesame Street.’ This is a sad day for ‘Sesame Street.’”

To Sesame Street’s credit, they were ready to welcome Clash back into the family once the first charge was recanted. Clash’s sexual orientation, thankfully, wasn’t enough to pull the plug on him as being Elmo’s puppeteer. But when the second charge came down, along with the accompanying lawsuit, SS felt like it had no choice but to call for Clash’s resignation.

It’s hard to argue with SS and Clash’s decision. The SS brand has been a part of American households and families for about 40 years. Why should they risk any additional bad press and scuttlebutt by bringing Clash back while there is all this legal stuff going on?

Besides, the mystique and aura of Sesame Street’s Muppets are based almost solely on the anonymity of the puppeteers. Yes, folks eventually found out that guys like Frank Oz and Jim Henson operated and voiced many of the original Muppets, but for the most part we aren’t visualizing humans behind the scenes when Kermit the Frog or Miss Piggy are doing their thing. 

They’re not puppets, they’re Muppets, for crying out loud! They’re practically human.

The seedy story that is about to unfold about Kevin Clash (under-aged boys, meeting online, etc) is one that Sesame Street just as soon let play out somewhere else—anywhere else, other than behind Elmo’s back.

It looks to be the end of a 28-year ride for Clash as Elmo’s puppeteer, but it’s an ending that needs to happen.

The sooner the anonymity of Elmo’s puppeteer is returned, the better.

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In the mostly inglorious history of Thanksgiving football in Detroit, the Lions have dragged themselves onto the field with a variety of emotions.

They’ve been prohibitive underdogs, the Turkey Day game their only appearance on national TV, where they’ve been the Washington Generals to their opponent’s Harlem Globetrotters.

They’ve come in as hopeful spoilers, trying to be the scrappy group of rejects that ruins their more formidable opponent’s playoff run.

They’ve run onto the field with false bravado, perhaps even with a winning record, determined to show the nation why they deserve respect.

They’ve laid eggs, played the game of their lives and suffered stinging and sometimes cruel defeats.

They may as well play these games on February 2, because there’s a Groundhog Day aspect to Thanksgiving Day football in Detroit.

Every fourth Thursday of November, Lions fans wake up, wash and stuff their bird, jam it into the oven, flick on the parade on the tube (or traipse downtown to see it in person), and can’t wait until 12:30 p.m. to arrive. As if last year didn’t happen.

This is because a myth has been propagated for decades: that the Lions always turn in a fine performance on Thanksgiving Day.

The facts don’t bear that out, and recent results are finally starting to hack away at that Redwood of a myth.

 

The Lions, in the past 11 years, have won one Thanksgiving Day game, and that came way back in 2003.

Just call them the Myth-Busters.

But of all the emotions the Lions have carried with them onto the gridiron on Thanksgiving, only once have they strapped on their helmets with sheer, unadulterated rage.

It happened 50 years ago to the day of this year’s holiday game.

November 22, 1962.

The Lions played the Green Bay Packers that day, and never before or since did they take the field with such a chip on their shoulder, regardless of the date, regardless of the situation.

The Lions’ crankiness could be traced to their first meeting with the Pack in ‘62, about a month or so prior, in Green Bay.

In the rain, on a muddy field, the Lions let one slip away—literally.

Nursing a 7-6 lead and with the football near midfield in the closing minutes, the Lions had the undefeated Packers on the ropes. Perhaps one more first down, just one more, would salt the game away in the gloom of Green Bay. The date was October 7.

Then the Lions made their slip-up.

The Lions defense mauled the Packers that day, limiting the defending NFL champs to two measly field goals all afternoon. And that defense was on the sideline, watching its offensive counterparts about to commit football harakiri.

 

Football 101 says that in the situation the Lions found themselves in—a lead late in the game, with the football—the course of action is to keep the ball as grounded as a wayward teenager.

In that moment, only a loon would call a play requiring quarterback Milt Plum to fade back and dare a forward pass. Only a stark, raving madman would suggest anything other than a nice, safe running play—especially in the unsure footing that day.

As the Lions defense looked on helplessly and in horror, Plum shot a pass toward the sideline, where intended receiver Terry Barr slipped in the mud. Plum’s throw was easily picked off by cornerback Herb Adderley, who galloped downfield, deep into Lions territory.

Moments later, Paul Hornung booted a field goal in the waning seconds and the Packers shocked the Lions, 9-7.

The Lions trudged off the field, losers of a game they had in their hip pockets, that is until someone—it wasn’t initially known who it was—foolishly called for a pass. Even if the Lions hadn’t made that first down on the ground, they could have punted and pinned the Packers deep, with not much time remaining.

That loss divided the team, maybe for years—certainly for the rest of that season. In the locker room afterward, it was demanded of Plum which birdbrain called for that pass. Plum didn’t give the inquisitor—it may have been Alex Karras or Joe Schmidt—a satisfactory answer.

WHAM!!!

Karras’ helmet flew past Plum’s head and smacked against the wall, hurled by its enraged owner.

 

Defense vs. offense.

The Lions played on after the game in Green Bay, dropping a tough one to the New York Giants a couple of weeks later. The Packers kept winning, and they were still unbeaten when they squared off against the Lions on Thanksgiving.

Green Bay was 10-0; the Lions were 8-2, though both teams knew that the records should have been an identical 9-1 for each side.

Raging with anger, the Lions defense tossed the Packers offensive line around like rag dolls in their relentless pursuit of quarterback Bart Starr. Karras, Schmidt and the rest of the defense played the game of their lives that Thanksgiving, sacking Starr 11 times (the stat was unofficial back then) in front of a national TV audience.

The Lions roared to a 26-0 lead and won, 26-14. The champion Packers didn’t have a prayer.

In the end, though, it didn’t matter. The Packers finished the season 13-1; the Lions, 11-3. No Wild Cards back then. The Lions finished in second place; the Packers returned to the championship game and beat the Giants for the second year in a row.

Had the Lions not let that game in Green Bay slip away, both teams would have finished 12-2 and met in a divisional playoff contest.

And never in the past 50 years have the Lions played any Thanksgiving Day game with the fury they displayed against the Packers on November 22, 1962.

Disrespected? Yes. Dismissed? Yes. Hopeful? Yes. Enraged? Not for a half-century.

But they sure have caused such rage, haven’t they?

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Nov
16

Frankly, Scarlett…

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So did you hear about the Cleveland woman who had to stand on a busy street corner and hold up a sign that says Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus”?

To recap: 32-year-old Shena Hardin was caught by surveillance camera, driving her car on a sidewalk to avoid a school bus that was loading and unloading children. Her sentence, as handed down by a Municipal Court Judge, was to hold the sign for one hour each on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, in 34-degree weather and in full view of rush hour drivers. 

Hardin also had her license suspended for 30 days and she was ordered to pay $250 in court costs.

Apparently, Hardin was the victim of a good old-fashioned sting, put on by the bus driver, because the incident in which she was caught by the camera was not the first time she had driven recklessly in order to avoid waiting for the kids to get on and off the school bus.

Shena Hardin serves her sentence


Whether you agree with Hardin’s “Scarlet Letter” type sentence or not, it would be hard to disagree that other offenses might merit similar sentencing from the court of public opinion, if it were left up to them.

To wit:

Non-use of turn signal. This is the ultimate in arrogance. The offender is telling us, “You don’t need to know what I’m about to do, until I reveal it.” Suggested sentence: Not allowed to order own food at restaurant for next two meals out. Offender has to eat whatever the server brings, not revealed until the plate hits the table.

Rolling through/failing to stop at stop sign in residential neighborhood (where there are kids and pets about). The disrespect for those red, octagonal-shaped signs is getting ridiculous. I walk our dog daily and I see vehicles cruising through stop signs routinely. Suggested sentence: Offender must stand in the middle of a high school hallway during lunch rush, wearing a brand new, all-white outfit.

Tailgating in a residential area. Nothing grinds my gears more than being followed closely by some clod in a 25 mph residential area. I don’t like being tailgated, period, but something about cruising down a side street, usually going to or from home, with a very aggressive, very impatient dufus riding my rear is just so wrong. Suggested sentence: Offender must spend next session of opening and responding to e-mails with someone (a stranger) looming directly over his/her shoulder the entire time.

Taking two spaces in a parking lot. This one needs no trumping. Suggested sentence: Offender must watch helplessly as person ahead of them in line orders the last two pieces of cheesecake, and only eats one—throwing the second one in the trash.

Cutting across two lanes of a freeway in order to exit, last minute. This one is not only annoying but freaking dangerous. Most people know, way ahead of time, which exit they’re taking. Why you decide at the last possible moment that you suddenly need to bid farewell to the freeway is beyond me. Suggested sentence: Since this is usually a male offender, sentence is for offender to be cut in front of, at the last moment, by a counterpart who wants to use the only available urinal in a public restroom. And I do mean at the last moment.

Those sound like apt punishments, eh?

Categories : crime, Enotes, justice, laws, society
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Nov
13

E-affairs

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Sex, lies and…e-mail?

Videotapes are so passe. And who has a VCR player anymore, anyway?

E-mail (and its evil spawn, texting) is the smoking gun of the 21st century, when it comes to catching those engaging in extramarital affairs. And it seems no matter how powerful and how high up the food chain you are, you’re not impervious to its tentacles.

Witness what’s happening at the CIA and the Pentagon these days.

First, General David Petraeus (rhymes with Betray Us) was busted, and subsequently resigned his post as Director of the CIA, for engaging in hanky panky with a mistress, much of it via e-mail.

Now the military’s top man in Afghanistan, General John Allen, might be in the same kind of mess. E-mails, once again, are being scrutinized.

It’s a sort of love triangle, with Petraeus’s mistress allegedly sending threatening e-mails to the woman who Allen has been allegedly fooling around with.

As The Pentagon Turns.

Gen. David Petraeus



This, of course, is unbecoming no matter what, but when it involves men of the stature of Generals Petraeus and Allen, well then it moves into another category of unbecoming.

Women might be right. Maybe men do think with their penises—in general (sorry, pun intended).

Recall how text messages and e-mail helped bring down Detroit’s young and promising mayor.

There really isn’t any shock value, anymore, to the philandering powerful man story, even when it comes to Petraeus and Allen. I mean, did your jaw drop when Petraeus resigned, and you found out why he resigned?

Surprised? Sure. Shocked? Maybe not so much.

At this point, only such an affair involving the President of the United States would be shocking enough for us to be, well, shocked.

One by one they fall, betrayed by their own anatomy below the belt.

Politicians. Corporate leaders. Entertainers. And now, CIA directors and generals.

The question isn’t really “Who’s next? but rather, “When?”

When will be the next time we read of a powerful, entrenched man toppled by his pee-pee?

There are 48 days left in the year. Plenty of time to squeeze another scandal in, maybe before Christmas.

Categories : justice, laws, military, society
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The Detroit Lions scored four rushing touchdowns last Sunday in Jacksonville. They have 10 rushingTDs thus far, a pace that would give them 20 for the season, which would eclipse 2011’s mark by 11.

Yippee.

The game in Jacksonville was an anomaly of immense proportions. The 10 rushing TDs so far in 2012 are cute and all, nothing more.

Get it out of your head if you think the Lions have established a running game that will make them a quote-unquote balanced team.

Ha!

The Lions will only go as far as the golden arm of Matthew Stafford will take them. Period.

Trouble is, that arm has been flinging the football high and wide, and low and outside. If Stafford was a pitcher, he’d be a young Sandy Koufax, who was described by a scout thusly: “He’d be a great pitcher, if the plate was high and outside.”

Stafford has his yards. He’s piling them up like a squirrel does with the nuts for the winter. He’s averaging about 300 passing yards per game. But unlike a squirrel’s stash, Stafford’s yards haven’t all been beneficial to the Lions’ cause.

Some of the yards are paper yards—phony stats that make the day’s work look much better than it really was. The telltale stat is touchdown passes, and that’s where Matthew Stafford, 2012, is in default.

Stafford, through eight games, has eight scoring passes. That’s one per game. That’s 16 for the season. That’s lousy.

In 2011, Stafford lasered 41 passes into the end zone, into the willing hands of Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew et al. It was, by far, a franchise record. Stafford, healthy for a full year for the first time in his young NFL career, led the Lions into the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.

Stafford also threw for over 5,000 yards in 2011, which was another first for a Lions quarterback. But as nice as the yards were, it was all those touchdown passes that impressed. Let’s face it: No NFL team drafts a hotshot QB because he does a great job handing the ball off.

Stafford’s golden arm, in 2011, bailed the Lions out of one mess after another. Time and again, his team would fall behind early, the hole getting deeper the longer the game went on. A 17-point deficit inMinnesota. More than that in Dallas.

Then Stafford, the kid who went to the same high school as that escape artist of the 1950s, Bobby Layne, would go to work, slinging the football all over the field in a frenetic game of catch-up. More often than not, the recipe worked: start slow, end fast.

Stafford was Dudley Do-Right, his team the girl tied to the railroad tracks.

The comebacks of 2011 weren’t dumb luck. Stafford, even after sluggish beginnings, would carve up the opposition in the second half, a surgeon with a scalpel. His throws were dead-eye accurate, the proverbial needle threaded with lethal precision.

The second half of Lions games last year went like this. Cue the theme from The Lone Ranger. Start biting the nails. Keep one eye on the clock, the other one closed.

Stafford marched the Lions down the field to victory last season with his golden arm, damning the torpedoes and delivering the football into the sure hands of his receivers, always just out of the reach of the defenders. The Lions had no running game to speak of last year, but it didn’t matter.

It didn’t matter if every fan in the stadium, the announcers in the booth, the millions watching on TV, the cheerleaders or the chain gang knew that the Lions would send Stafford back to pass on virtually every down. It didn’t even matter if the 11 guys lining up across from him knew that he was going to throw. Stafford came out on top anyway, for the most part.

It hasn’t been quite the same in 2012, not that we should have expected it to be.

The NFL can be a fascinating league. Its seasons are like a series of books written by the same author, but not as an anthology. If you were to chart most teams’ progression over a period of five years or so, it would look like an EKG reading.

Rare is consistent excellence. Only a choice few teams can be counted on to reach the playoffs every year.

Trends don’t last more than a year at a time, either. Your team might be a great inducer of turnovers by their opponents one year, not so good the next. And so on.

Last year the Lions mastered the art of the comeback. This year, they have won three of their four victories by scoring in the final 30 seconds, and they have indeed been coming from behind, but it’s an awfully dangerous way to live, especially with Stafford not being quite the same passer as he was in 2011.

The comeback, trademarked so famously by Bobby Layne in the 1950s, was never designed to be a way of life. It was only supposed to be called upon on occasion, not every damn week.

The Lions fall behind too much, the exception being last Sunday in Jacksonville, a rare frolic for them. Stafford didn’t have to sling his gun. The Lions scored four touchdowns with him handing the ball off. That was the anomaly.

The concern, and it’s a valid one, is that Matthew Stafford this season has been too erratic. His once accurate arm has betrayed him too often, and not just with difficult throws. Basic tosses are going astray. High, just out of the reach of wanton fingertips. Wide, too far for even the longest of arms to grab. Low, skipping off the turf into the receiver’s belly.

Too many errant throws.

It doesn’t matter how much the Lions run the football. They are, not yet, a team that is going to ram the ball down anyone’s throats with any consistency. The Jacksonville Jaguars, it should be noted, are not exactly a league powerhouse.

The Lions will only go as far as Matthew Stafford’s golden arm will take them. That arm, so far this season, has been puzzling in its too-often inaccuracy.

It’s one reason, maybe the biggest, why the Lions muddle along at the halfway point of the season with a mediocre 4-4 record.

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Nov
08

A Time to Heal, Compromise

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OK, so you’re Barack Obama. You woke up Wednesday morning having been re-elected as President of the United States.

But over 57 million people voted for the other guy—almost half the electorate.

It’s a sobering thought, or should be, as Mr. Obama starts Term II.

This was among the most bitter, divisive and nasty presidential campaigns in recent memory. Maybe ever.

You can blame Social Media for that. But more about that in a second.

Obama is president of everyone, of course (not just 47 percent), but knowing that about half the people don’t want you in the Oval Office certainly should have a bearing on how you govern, no matter if you feel that your agenda and ideology are right, and theirs isn’t.

But it’s also a great time for compromise and reaching across the aisle, because no longer can Obama’s detractors in Washington rally around their flag of making him a one term president. That ship has sailed, though not necessarily with breakneck speed, given how close the popular vote was.

But it has sailed, so let’s get to work and get some stuff done. Speaker of the House John Boehner has offered an olive branch and a conciliatory tone, which is more than you can say for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. It should also be noted that McConnell is up for re-election in 2014.

It’s time now for Obama to gather the haters in Congress around him and say, “You guys wanted me gone. Well, I’m back. Deal with it, and let’s end gridlock.”

So we have a dichotomy of sorts here. There’s the fact that nearly half of over 117 million voters wanted Mitt Romney as president. Yet there’s also a magnificent chance to work on the soft underbelly of a GOP that got slapped in its behind on Tuesday, losing some key Senate races, most notably Elizabeth Warren beating Scott Brown in Massachusetts.

Obama Term II should be more interesting and even more productive than Term I. It could also lay the groundwork for continued Democratic presence in the White House come 2016. Someone might have some long coattails on which to ride into the Oval Office.

Obama had over 59 million votes, but 57 million voted for the other guy





Back to Social Media.

Facebook and Twitter weren’t nearly as widespread in their use during the 2008 campaign. But in 2012, the vitriol and political posts and ensuing mean-spirited, nasty threads that resulted truly ended Facebook friendships or at the very least caused animosity that will take a while to dissolve. Sounds silly, I know, but it’s true. I was among those who got involved in some pretty nasty back-and-forths.

With FB and Twitter, it’s just so easy (too easy) to log on, rap out something in anger or passion, and then maybe you’d wished you hadn’t. Maybe what you threw out there you should have kept to yourself. But the flip is that sometimes you stay on the sidelines too long, holding too much in, and you have no choice but to put in your two cents.

Trouble is, those two cents can rapidly turn into a buck and a half once the dissenters start responding.

I’m sure we’ll all heal from this angry campaign. We always do. But the tone is set in Washington. If we see our leaders coming together, reaching across and banging out some bi-partisan legislation, maybe that will accelerate the healing.

But I think we can agree on one thing.

Thank goodness this campaign is over with!

Categories : Enotes, Politics, presidency
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