Tag Archives: Andrew Sullivan

NSA employees use their power to spy on their lovers. Why the hell are we going to war in Syria? And a hockey player cracks me up

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**Quick update to Tuesday’s blog post about Reilly Opelka, a tennis phenom I first wrote about when he was 11: He played really well but lost his first match in the U.S. Open Juniors, 6-4, 6-4. Still, it was a kick watching him on such a big stage. I said to his parents afterward, “I have a feeling this is going to be an annual tradition, meeting at the Open to watch Reilly,” and they laughed. Here’s the story I wrote on Reilly Tuesday for Flaglerlive.com, a website in his hometown.

So this story apparently came out last week but in all my chaos with moving apartments I missed it. Which is a shame, because I laughed out loud when I heard it.

In addition to sorting through phone records and doing some data-mining on American citizens and their cell phone calls, it seems the employees at the National Security Agency have been doing something else during work hours: spying on their spouses and boyfriends/girlfriends when they’re travelling.

Which, let’s be honest, is exactly what you or I would do if we had the same capability.

**Next up, I have to admit that I’ve been in a bit of a news vacuum the past week, as I’ve spent most of my days at the U.S. Open or unpacking boxes. But the more I hear about our impending invasion of Syria, the more freaked out I get.
Does this not sound exactly like what went on in 2003, when an administration swore to us that they had evidence of a Middle Eastern country doing dastardly deeds, and potentially worse?
Do we not have John McCain and Lindsay Graham once again beating the drum for war in the Senate? Do we not have a Secretary of State who keeps telling us it’s imperative we do something, or the world will fall apart?

I mean, President Obama, does it not freak YOU out when John Boehner and Eric Cantor are enthusiastically supporting a position you have taken?

I certainly don’t have all the answers, and maybe Syria did use chemical weapons against its people.
But to my former colleagues in the print and TV media, I beg you: Please, please PLEASE be a little more skeptical in your reporting than you were about Iraq in 2003. Think of the thousands who have died because of that senseless war Bush and Cheney inflicted on America, and please raise some red flag questions to our leaders. Thank you.

This sentence from Rod Dreher, a conservative writer, also scared the hell out of me:

“Unless there is a rebellion in the Congressional ranks, in both parties, we are going to do this thing. We are going to bomb Syria to make Syria safer for al-Qaeda and other Islamists. This country never, ever learns.”

As usual, Andrew Sullivan speaks to this fear of yet another intractable conflict better than I can.

**Finally today, the last word goes to Teemu Selanne, a hockey player I always liked, and now I like even more after this video explaining why he’s not retiring just yet:

The Clintons criticizing Weiner: The ultimate in chutzpah. Scott Simon and a tribute to his mother. And Mike Francesa, a buffoon again

I’m rarely left speechless. But Bill Clinton, take a bow. I have nothing to say.

There is gall, there is chutzpah, and then, my friends, there is Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary criticizing the behavior of Anthony Weiner.

That takes the cake. I mean, BILL CLINTON taking another man to task for sexual behavior that was 1/100th of what he did as President of the United States, and for most of his life! Bill and Hillary, actually tsk-tsking the Weiners for staying in the mayoral race, when Bill and Hillary sat on a couch on “60 Minutes” in 1992 and lied, outright lied, to Steve Kroft about Jennifer Flowers!

Amazing. The great Andrew Sullivan says it all right here in a brilliant post today on the Clintons:

Money quote: “The Weiner affair is a trivial non-event compared with the Clintons’ reckless, mutual self-destruction.”

**I’m pretty sure I’ve written here that without question, the biggest schmuck in sports media today is Mike Francesa. Loud, arrogant, completely dismissive of anyone else’s opinion and as terrible an interviewer as has ever held a mike, Francesa’s insufferability on WFAN radio just gets worse every year.

I don’t listen to him at all, but he still occasionally shows up on my radar thanks to the joy I get reading Phil Mushnick in the N.Y. Post pointing out his latest awful behavior on air, and other media sites chiming in as well.

The latest example? Here’s Moe, a caller from Queens, who is a big Francesa fan and has decided to propose to his girlfriend (a fellow fan) live on the air.

And as he gets started, well, this happens…

I mean, just repulsive. Here’s a nervous dude trying to do something different and unique, and Francesa hangs up on him.
Why anyone listens to him anymore is beyond me.

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**Finally, a few words about something amazing going on on Twitter the last few days.
You might know who Scott Simon is; he’s been an NPR radio host for decades. He’s got a beautifully smooth voice and he often does little “essays” for various NPR shows, and hosts his own show, too.
Anyway, Simon is in a terrible place right now, at his mother’s bedside as she lay dying (note: She passed away Monday night). It sounds like Patricia was a wonderful woman, and in just 140 characters or less, Simon has been giving us a beautiful, heartbreaking look at what it’s like to watch a loved one slip away.

Here are a few sample Tweets from the last few days:

“I know end might be near as this is only day of my adulthood I’ve seen my mother and she hasn’t asked, “Why that shirt?”

“Mother cries Help Me at 2;30. Been holding her like a baby since. She’s asleep now. All I can do is hold on to her.”

“I love holding my mother’s hand. Haven’t held it like this since I was 9. Why did I stop? I thought it unmanly? What crap.”

“I just realized: she once had to let me go into the big wide world. Now I have to let her go the same way.”

There are many, many more beautiful words from Scott Simon found here.

Angelina Jolie and celebrities who “get” it. Jimmy Connors: Still a jerk. And the very first episode of “Sesame Street” unearthed

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I may be one of the six or seven straight males in the world who never found Angelina Jolie gorgeous.

Oh, I always knew she was beautiful, but I never got what the whole craze over how sexy and awesome and hot she was. To me, Eva Longoria or Nicole Kidman or Ashley Judd were infinitely more attractive.

So I never paid Jolie much attention when she just seemed like the latest in a long line of vapid movie stars, someone who would clearly fade away when her looks did.

But Angie has turned out to be so much more than a vapid movie star. She and her husband (some dude whose name I forget, Brad something or other) do excellent humanitarian work all over the world, and this week Jolie wrote a beautiful, moving essay in the New York Times revealing that she recently had a double mastectomy due to doctors finding she had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer.

Jolie came public not because she had to, but because she wanted to help other women who may be fearful of the disease.

“Life comes with many challenges,” she wrote. “The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”

Bravo to Jolie for “getting it,” and realizing that her celebrity affords her an enormous platform to do good.

**Jimmy Connors was known for a lot of things in his tennis career, but being a jerk was always one of them. Connors was mean to chair umpires, surly to other players, and overall just a bad dude.
There are numerous, numerous examples of this, and it’s quite clear that Connors still hasn’t learned any manners or tact. In his new autobiography that Jimbo is now hawking everywhere, he strongly, strongly implies that an impediment to his relationship with Chris Evert in the 1970s was her decision to have an abortion.

Connors writes he “was perfectly happy to let nature take its course and accept responsibility for what was to come.” He bitterly writes to Evert in the book, “Well, thanks for letting me know. Since I don’t have a say in the matter, I guess I am just here to help.”

Connors never had the decency to tell Evert he was writing about this in his autobiography, and this was obviously a very private matter to the tennis legend. She angrily responded to Connors, but that hasn’t stopped him from talking about Evert in all the talk shows he’s been going on.

What an absolute schmuck Jimmy Connors continues to be.

**Finally today, in the middle of a post on Andrew Sullivan’s blog about how the name “Sesame Street” came to be, there was this fantastic clip of the very first episode of the show we all grew up on, which aired on November 10, 1969.

Here’s the opening scene (above); I always smile just hearing the theme song, don’t you? And I love the opening Bert and Ernie scene (starts at the 3:30 mark).

Two great sporting events on a Wednesday night. A high school refuses a kid a diploma for parents cheering too loud. And the enormous lies of Mitt Romney

We had two great sporting events going on simultaneously last night.
In one, the L.A. Kings tried to complete one of the most remarkable playoff runs to a championship of any sports team ever. They tried to win a Stanley Cup in front of their home fans, which is extremely cool and surprisingly rare.

Watching the Cup get skated around is one of my favorite moments in all of sports (see above video and try not to get goosebumps).

But alas, the bums from New Jersey (yes I’m still bitter over the Rangers’ defeat) stole a game and prevented an L.A. celebration.  It was, incredibly, only the third loss of the entire playoffs for the Kings.

It wasn’t that exciting of a game, to be frank, which is why I found myself watching much more of the second great sporting event last night.

I’ve had a man-crush on Kevin Durant since his transcendent freshman year at University of Texas; it was the single best season I’ve ever seen for a freshman. So it was great to see Durant, as nice and classy a kid as you’ll find in the NBA, lead his team to the NBA Finals for the first time, beating the San Antonio Spurs.

Truly amazing how fast this series turned; a week ago the Spurs had won a ridiculous 20 straight games and it seemed like nothing could stop them from winning the NBA title. And now a week later, they’re toast. Going home for the summer.

I don’t care if Miami or Boston wins the East, neither one of them is beating Oklahoma City. Great to see new teams step up and demand to be recognized, and I love seeing a talent like Durant getting to be on a national stage this spring.

And check out the cool video above at the :24 mark, when Durant walks over and hugs his Mom. So sweet.

**From something great to something that turned my stomach. Check this out: A high school senior in Ohio named Anthony Cornish has been denied a diploma he rightfully earned.

Why? Because Mt. Healthy High School officials said his family cheered too loud when his name was called at graduation.
Seriously, I’m not making this shit up. The school wants Cornish to do 20 hours of community service to make for the disruption caused by his family making too much noise when Cornish’s name was called.

I know this sounds like I made it up or stole it from The Onion, but click here for all the details (with video of the graduation).

What an absolute disgrace.

**Finally, I know it’s a Presidential election year, and I know candidates lie all the time, but this Mitt Romney whopper continues to piss me off. Here’s what he said the other day, brought to my attention by the great Andrew Sullivan’s blog:

“With America in crisis, with 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work, he hasn’t put forth a plan to get us working again. Now I know we’re getting close to an election so he’ll come out with one soon, but three and a half years later, we’re waiting.”

Are you freaking kidding me, you pompous blowhard? How about TARP, and the jobs bill in January that your fellow Republicans kept voting down or even refused to debate in Congress?

Mitt Romney cannot be elected President. I keep telling myself no one this phony, this completely full of crap, could really lead the free world.

Then I remember W., and I start to shudder.

The great Peyton Manning exits Indy with class. How tasing people has been turned into a sport. And an Iranian girl singing Adele, beautifully

Pardon me for a moment while I channel my inner Dick Enberg

It is so rare that we get a moment like this in sports anymore.
When a great player who has starred for one franchise his whole career, and led that team to glory and championships, has to face the final curtain (as Mr. Sinatra beautifully put it), it almost never ends well.
The player gets old, he gets hurt, the team eventually realizes it has to cut ties with him and start over, and bitterness creeps in among fans and players.

And sure, with Peyton Manning, one of the 10 greatest quarterbacks to ever play (he’s in my Top 5, along with Montana, Unitas, Brady and Marino), it wasn’t the happiest ending that took place Wednesday. He’s had four neck surgeries in the past two years, the great team around him crumbled, winning only two games last year, and he’s owed a Titanic-sized amount of money.

So it was no surprise when the Colts decided to release No. 18 Wednesday. But check out this snippet from Manning’s farewell press conference. See the real emotion between the owner, Jim Irsay, and Manning. This was done with as much class as possible for a team basically telling a player “We don’t want you anymore.”
It was kind of heartwarming to see Manning get so choked up, talking about the love affair he had with the city of Indianapolis. As fans, it’s how we always want the starts we worship to feel about us, but so rarely do.

It’s sad Manning has to finish his career somewhere else (and for my fellow Jets fans praying he’ll make Met Life Stadium the home for the entire Manning family, I say keep dreaming. He ain’t coming here).

But it was nice to see such an amicable parting, and to see an athlete who loves the city that helped make him famous right back.

Taseball, posted with vodpod

**OK, I’m not even going to try to explain this one. But it appears there is now a sport called TaserBall, where the object of the game is to, well, Tase the opponent. The “sport” is played kind of like soccer, except with giant medicine-ball sized balls, and the way you play defense is to tase the opponent.

“These give out between 3 to 5 milli-amps,”Leif Kellenberger, one of the inventors, said said of the tazers. “It feels like a rubber band snap. It’s shocking but will only make you twitch or drop the ball.”

Yeah, somehow I don’t see this one catching on at your local playground. However, when the announcers at the games say “There’s electricity in the air here tonight,” they will now mean that literally.
Stephen Colbert’s take on this “sport” is here. 

**Finally, while we’re hearing about how evil Iran is these days, and how nuclear war is inevitable, from Andrew Sullivan’s blog comes a YouTube video of a 13-year-old girl, singing some Adele.

As Sullivan points out, this is not just some faceless enemy Israel and/or the U.S. could be at war with. This beautiful young girl with a sweet voice lives there, too.

A very strong defense of Obama with which I kind of agree. An awesome website about giving thanks. And the mystery of the JFK “umbrella man.”

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I certainly did; it’s always my favorite holiday, thanks to being with loving family, and my Aunt Linda’s as-always simply magnificent cooking (though a shout-out to my cousin Marni for her delicious sweet-potato with pecans dish, mmmm good.)

We start today with President Obama, who I am thankful for, believe it or not. I do criticize the President quite a bit here on the blog, because liberals like me are often disappointed that he’s not liberal or progressive enough. But Andrew Sullivan, as he often does, has snapped me back into reality, and given me a dose of perspective, on our President. Obama actually has done quite a few good things in his almost three-year term so far, and I think sometimes we liberals forget that.

And hey, it could be a lot worse, I’m reminded every time I watch one of the GOP debates.

Check out Sullivan’s excellent take on Obama here.

**48 years ago last Tuesday, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. I thought I’d seen and heard about every single detail of that awful day in Dealey Plaza, but this short video from the New York Times was really fascinating. It explains why, on a perfectly clear and sunny day on Nov. 22, 1963, one man stood in the crowd holding a black umbrella.

Really interesting, and worth five minutes of your time.

**Finally, a wonderful website in the spirit of Thanksgiving. Epicthanks.org has a very simple premise: You go on there, upload a photo of someone you’re thankful for, and then write a few sentences about why you’re so thankful.

Such a simple concept. But such an uplifting place to visit.