Tag Archives: Barack Obama

The Obama era ends: A few thoughts on how history will see him, and how much we’ll miss him. The greatest TV program guide description ever, from Australia. And thoughts on Joe Biden, whose reputation has changed so much in eight years.

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People are very quick to pronounce that something or other is “the end of an era.”

Friends say it all the time, when a buddy gets married, or when people go off to college and leave all their childhood friends behind. Sports commentators are the worst offenders, always declaring one team’s run of success “the end of an era” when it ends.

But as much as I hate that overused and hackneyed term, I gotta tell ya: This week really does feel like the end of an era. Barack Hussein Obama, a Hawaii-born mixed-race kid who was blessed with the kind of charisma we see once every 40-50 years in politics, is leaving his job as President of the United States.

And he did an outstanding job. You could go by the numbers and facts: Incredible economic growth, lowest unemployment (under 5 percent) in decades, two big election wins, passing universal health care, saving General Motors while killing Osama Bin Laden.

You could go by the less-tangible successes: How decent, how kind, how funny this man was; how he went eight years in the White House without a major scandal. How he signed a historic climate change agreement that finally, finally forces the world to take this problem seriously. How he gave us Michelle Obama, the coolest and smartest First Lady (not to mention, most beautiful) maybe ever.

Or you could go by what he didn’t do: Never stooped to the lowest levels of slime thrown at him from the right; never bemoaned his fate upon inheriting a catastrophic economic situation in 2009, never failed to blame himself at least partially when things didn’t go the way he or the Democrats.

No, he wasn’t perfect: He wasn’t the liberal hero many of us wanted/hoped he’d be; his Justice Dept. spent way too much time going after journalists who wouldn’t reveal their sources; he never had quite enough fire in his belly to fight down and dirty with the GOP, and he never did get around to making his administration as transparent as he claimed it would be.

But this man from Chicago, this “skinny kid with a funny name” accomplished some extraordinary things in this era of polarization and hate. He brought hope back. He showed African-Americans, and all Americans, what’s possible in a leader. He brought respect and grace and intelligence back to the White House, and tried his best to keep on being optimistic about America.

And when you contrast him with the next guy who’ll be in the Oval Office… let’s just say I’m already nostalgic for the last eight years.

Thank you, Barack Obama, for all that you have done for this country. You deserve a few months of sleep, the ability to play pick-up basketball whenever you want, and a rich and rewarding life outside Washington, D.C.

We will miss him greatly. Will.i.am, take us out…

**Next up, I laughed really, really hard at this TV guide-like synopsis of this week’s programming from a newspaper called the Scotland Herald.

It’s about a certain event happening in America on Friday. Bravo to whoever at the newspaper wrote this, for creativity.

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**And finally today, let’s not forget that Joe Biden is leaving the stage this week, too. He’s been an excellent vice-president, it appears, pushing Obama to the left on some issues and continuing to use his status for good. He has suffered many tragedies over the years, including of course losing his son Beau in 2015, but he has always maintained his humor and his passion.

I was thinking, watching that incredible speech he gave when Obama surprised Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom the other day, how much Biden’s reputation in the public eye has changed in eight years. In 2008, he was “Crazy Uncle Joe” of the Senate, the proud Delawarean who made verbal gaffes, wasn’t really taken seriously as a Presidential candidate both times he ran, and wasn’t considered by most people a major political figure.

Now look at him: Most Democrats think he would’ve beaten Trump, he’s considered a statesman and a great partner to Obama; a guy who has been completely at ease in his own skin the last eight years, after often seeming like someone trying to impress.

There’s talk about Biden 2020, but I think he’s done. He’s going out on top, and man, what a great public speaker he turned out to be.

 

Good News Friday: A kid with Down’s Syndrome scores a touchdown, and his dying mom cries. Zach Galifianakis does a hilarious “Between Two Ferns” interview with Hillary. And a 6-year-old offers to house a Syrian boy in a letter to Obama

And a Happy Friday to all of you out on the Interwebs. As we try to put a happy face on yet another week that had so much sadness (unarmed African-American men getting shot, terror suspects in New York, riots in Charlotte, I mean honestly, how much more can we take?), we begin with a beautiful story of a high school football team giving a boy the thrill of a lifetime.

Robby Heil is a water boy on the Novi High School Wildcats football team, and he has Down’s Syndrome. Last week during a regulation game, Novi decided to let Robby carry the ball and score a touchdown.

That alone would make this a great story. But it gets better: With his mom Debbie watching on the sideline, crying, Robby ran for a TD. Debbie has bone cancer, and it’s terminal. To watch her face explode with joy as her son scores, well, if you’re not getting a little emotional watching it, you’re a harder-hearted person than me.

“I’ve always been proud of him, but this was incredible,” Debbie said.

I can’t get enough of these videos.

**Next up today, this was the funniest thing I’ve seen all week, all month, hell, maybe all year.

Zach Galifianakis had a viral video hit with his “Between Two Ferns” interview with Barack Obama in 2014, and now he’s back with an interview with soon-to-be President-elect Hillary Clinton (relax, my fellow liberals who are panicking. Trump IS NOT winning this thing).

There are SO many great lines in this five-minute interview, including “For our younger, younger viewers, how does it feel to be the first white President?” how Hillary feels about losing “the Scott Baio vote” and a great riff about what happens if Hillary gets pregnant.

I read a little behind the scenes about this and it turns out doing the show was Hillary’s idea. Best idea she’s had all campaign.

Enjoy.

Finally today, I thought this was a beautiful example of humanity. A 6-year-old boy from Scarsdale, N.Y. saw and heard some of the horrifying stories coming out of Syria, including that awful photo of the little boy which I won’t post here, because it’s just too awful to see again.

Alex decided to write President Obama a letter, inviting the boy to come live with him and his family. “I have a friend from Syria at my school,” Alex says. “His name is Omar. I will introduce him to Omar, and we can all play together.”

Just a really sweet boy whose compassion could sorely be used by millions.

 

After last week’s debacle, Hillary and Kaine get their shot. The Rio Olympics are already a disaster. And remembering the biggest moment of Hall of Famer Mike Piazza’s career

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There’s always something to be said for going last in a two-person competition. You get to leave the final impression, you can see what the other person did and NOT do that, and maybe most importantly with this week’s Democratic National Convention, the bar for “being better than your opponent” has never been lower.

I mean, is it possible for Hillary Clinton and Co. to make a worse impression, to come off more disorganized, racist, plagiarizing and lying through their teeth than the GOP? I honestly don’t think it’s possible.

Lots of things I’ll be watching for in the next days, some quick-hit thoughts on what should be a pretty good show in Philadelphia:

— Tim Kaine in his national spotlight audition. I didn’t love Hillary’s choice of the Va. Senator as veep; he’s a bland, moderate white guy, when so many more appealing choices were available (Julian Castro, Elizabeth Warren, hell even Tom Perez would’ve gotten people more excited). But after a few days of reading up on Kaine’s background (dude’s never lost an election, that has to be encouraging), voting record, etc., I think he’s probably a decent choice. I don’t love that he loves Wall Street and banking deregulation so much, but otherwise he checks most liberal boxes. And he’ll help in Virginia. I’m anxious to see what kind of performer he is under the huge spotlight this week.

— Bernie Sanders speaks Monday night, and boy will he have a lot to say. The DNC email leaks scandal is one thing, and happily, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the maestro of the incredibly tilted Democratic primary this year, has resigned. But I really want to hear how Bernie speaks about his core issues, since he did so much better than anyone thought he would, and what he says about Hillary, after months and months of attacking her.

— Michelle Obama speaks tonight, too; will she make me and millions of others happy by starting with “When I was a young girl growing up in Slovenia…”? That would be so awesome.

— The Big Dog, Bill Clinton, talks Wednesday: Will he talk about Hillary as her husband, or as a future President, and how many great one-liners about Trump will he get off?

— Barack Obama’s speech on Wednesday; he and Hillary have some history together as rivals and then partners, and he, too, is in supreme position to push back on all the lies Trump told last week. I hope he calls out every one of them.

Should be a fascinating four nights.

View of an athlete's room at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBAYASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images ORIG FILE ID: AFP_DI6ZI

**Next up today, rarely has an Olympics looked more like a shitshow than these Rio Games appear to be. So many problems in Brazil right now, from the economy, to the uncertain political leadership, and the nation looks completely unprepared to host an Olympics, who oh by the way, start in 10 days.

I don’t know, you think THIS is a bad sign? Sunday the Australian delegation announced that upon arrival at the Olympic Village, where thousands of athletes will be staying, the place was “uninhabitable.”

The toilets wouldn’t work, there was a rank smell, and all sorts of exposed wiring. Again, this is TEN DAYS before the Olympics.

Man oh man, I know lots of Olympics have looked like they’d be disasters before they started, and everything then ran smooth, but I don’t see how that happens here.

**Finally today, one of the few baseball things I pay attention to each year happened Sunday, the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

I was incredibly fortunate, when I worked in upstate New York for the Glens Falls Post-Star, to get to cover two HOF inductions, and they were awesome, some of the best things I’ve ever covered. Cooperstown is such a special place, the people are incredibly friendly, and Otsego Lake is spectacular.

Anyway, Sunday was this year’s ceremony, with Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. being enshrined. Griffey Jr., was a no-doubt pick, and it’s still incredible to me that he didn’t get 100 percent of the vote (No one ever has.)

Piazza’s a more iffy case, because rumors of steroids (very, very strong rumors) have dogged him for a long time. But as a New Yorker, what I’ll always remember Piazza for, beyond the whole “Roger Clemens throwing the bat at him in the World Series thing, is that he gave me one of the most indelible sports memories I’ll ever have.

On Sept. 21, 2001, the Mets and Atlanta Braves played the first professional sporting event in New York City since 9/11. The whole city had been feeling so awful for 10 days, and sports seemed even less important than usual. Nobody was smiling, for any reason.

In the bottom of the eighth, with the Mets down a run, Piazza pummeled a pitch over the center field wall for a go-ahead home run. Shea Stadium went nuts. I remember going nuts, too, and I’m a Yankees fan. As Piazza rounded the bases, the sound from the crowd just kept growing and growing, and the TV cameras flashed to a bunch of FDNY firefighters in the crowd, and I get goosebumps right now just watching the above video.

An incredible night I’ll never forget. After so much horror, for two minutes, millions of New Yorkers got to feel just a little bit of joy.

So I’ll always be grateful to Mike Piazza for that.

An incredible speech, and a sweet hug, remind me what we’ll miss when Obama’s gone. And a real-life version of “The Americans” happened a few years later.

It is easy, now in the beginning of what will be a long, ugly and historically expensive fight to be the next President of America, to romanticize the past.

To remember how hopeful, how enthusiastic, how downright excited millions of us were eight years ago at this time, when a totally new kind of President, a different kind of person than we’d ever campaigned for or tried to get elected, actually shocked the world and got the job.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Barack Obama in the past few weeks, about how he has restored decency and honor to the White House, how after consecutive presidencies marred by blow jobs and death-causing lies and stupidity, he has simply kept his head down and against more dug-in opposition than any President has faced, done a damn good job.

He will be greatly missed, even by those of us who got mad at him sometimes for not accomplishing everything. Two things over the past week made me realize just how terrific a man we’ve had as President really is.

The biggest nostalgia moment for me came when reading and watching Obama’s mesmerizing commencement speech at Howard University last Saturday (it’s embedded above; click here if you just want to read it.) It was an astounding, uplifting, powerful speech, one I think was maybe his best since the 2008 campaign. It was honest and challenging; soaring and grounded in humility all at the same time.

The part that struck particularly for me, as a liberal who has seen freedom of speech suddenly become optional at many college, was this passage:

So don’t try to shut folks out, don’t try to shut them down, no matter how much you might disagree with them. There’s been a trend around the country of trying to get colleges to disinvite speakers with a different point of view, or disrupt a politician’s rally. Don’t do that — no matter how ridiculous or offensive you might find the things that come out of their mouths. Because as my grandmother used to tell me, every time a fool speaks, they are just advertising their own ignorance. Let them talk. Let them talk. If you don’t, you just make them a victim, and then they can avoid accountability.

Exactly. Let the fools speak, then ignore and refute.

It’s a sensational speech, one that moved me to Tweet at Jon Favreau (not the actor, the Obama speechwriter) Saturday night after reading it and asking if Obama wrote it.
Because Twitter is awesome and you have access to people like Favreau who sometimes are nice, he replied that he heard Obama had ” quite a bit to do with it.”

Not surprised. I’m also not surprised by this super-cute video. The President came to Flint last week to discuss the indefensible water situation there, and 8-year-old Amariyanna Copeny was there to greet him. She wrote Obama a letter asking him to come visit, so she is “credited” with helping get him to Michigan.

When they met, well, this happened.

I’m really going to miss this guy. And I’m not alone.

**Finally today, I haven’t been writing much about the best show on TV, “The Americans” this season because we’re usually a few days late watching it, but it has been as incredible as ever (Tangent: My head is still spinning from watching the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas movie “Confirmation” this week and seeing Poor Martha from “The Americans” playing Thomas’ wife in the flick. Martha, how could you go from Clark to Clarence Thomas???) .

Anyway, as fabulous as “The Americans” is, this true story about a real American couple whose teenaged kids one day discovered their parents were Russian spies is mind-blowing. Donald Heathfield and Tracy Foley lived a normal life, so everyone thought, until in 2010 when the FBI showed up.

Tim and Alex Foley tell the story of how their parents’ double-lives were revealed in exacting detail. Truly a fascinating read.

Though I think the tale Henry Jennings from “The Americans” will one day tell a psychiatrist might top it.

 

Leicester City is about to win the most improbable championship in sports history. Obama with a kick-ass routine at the WHCA. And the man who robbed his own store to tip a prostitute

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What I know about soccer can pretty much fit into a thimble. Not even a real thimble; a thimble like you see on a Monopoly board.

I used to hate the sport, now I’m indifferent to it, and like millions of American sports fans, I pay attention at World Cup time. I fully appreciate and understand why soccer has gotten huge in the U.S. over the last 20-25 years, and no longer mock those who love it.

But I don’t pay much attention to it.
Except in the last few weeks, I’ve seen headline after headline about this little city in England and their improbable, impossible accomplishment: Winning the title in the English Premier League, the most famous league in the sport.

Leicester City, which a few years ago was bankrupt, which last year was almost relegated to the “minors,” is about to win the championship (They didn’t clinch Sunday, but have several more chances). My cousin Rob, who I love dearly, is an enormous futbol fan, so I asked him to put Leicester’s incredible accomplishment into terms American sports fans may understand.

“It’s a AA baseball team in 2012 finishing in first and deciding they want to play in AAA. After two years, without getting any new players, they purchase a MLB franchise and play in the majors and finish last. The next year, they win the World Series, beating the Yanks, Red Sox and Royals in the playoffs, then the Mets in the World Series, with basically the same team they used in AA.”

Alrighty then. Pretty freaking huge. Rob wasn’t satisfied with that analogy, though.

“Or it’s like a D-League team winning the NBA title and beating Cleveland, San Antonio and Golden State in the playoffs. It’s incredible. Never happens.”

I think the odds on Leicester were something like 5,000 to 1 this year. And in the next few days, they’re going to win the title.

This is why we watch sports: To watch the impossible, become possible. Never heard of Leicester City until a few months ago. Now, I think they’re most unlikely team sport champion ever.

Sports.

**Next up, every year around this time I tell you how ridiculous, unprofessional and silly it is for a roomful of journalists who cover the White House and a roomful of politicians the journalists cover to sit at a glamorous dinner for 4 hours and act as best buddies. It’s the worst of “clubby insider Washington” and I think it’s a terrible idea for “impartial” reporters.

But every year since 2009 I’ve watched the headliner’s routine, because whatever else you want to say about the man, Barack Obama is damn funny. I know he’s got speechwriters but delivery is part of it too, and the man is terrific.

Saturday night he was on fire, with a literal mic-dropping performance. Some of this best lines (I encourage you to watch the whole speech, above):

On the next president: “Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot. And it’s anyone’s guess who she will be.”

On getting old: “Eight years ago, I was a young man full of idealism and vigor. And look at me now, I am gray, grizzled and just counting down the days to my death panel. Hillary once questioned whether I would be up ready for a 3 a.m. phone call. Now, I’m awake anyway because I have to go to the bathroom.”

On Bernie Sanders: “Bernie Sanders is here! You look like a million bucks. Or to put it in terms you’ll understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each.” (Editor’s note: I was stunned, stunned that Bernie was there. SO not his scene, so at odds with everything he stands for.)

Making a pot joke: “In my final year, my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high, I was trying to decide on my major.”

On Trump: “They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president, but in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world — Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan.”

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**Finally today, blog sleuth and good friend Will S. always sends me crazy crime stories, and because I’m old and forgetful I often forget to use them.

But when he sent me this one over the weekend, I immediately knew it was going in the blog today.

The lede: “An Oregon man is accused of robbing his own pet store and using a stolen primate to tip a prostitute.”

I mean … come on, you are totally reading the rest of that story!

“Girl Scout cookie money and a laptop were also taken from the Zany Zoo Pet Store.

“Authorities arrested the owner in the parking lot of a state police office. They say he walked out of a porn shop next door and was high on drugs. (You don’t say!):

Through interviews with Nathan McClain, police say they found out he robbed his own store.

Police add they learned he paid for sex with a prostitute using the Girl Scout money and then gave her the primate named “Gooey” as a tip.”

Thankfully, “Gooey” is OK.

Now, there are a LOT of jokes to be made about sex with a prostitute and a primate named “Gooey,”… but your humble blogger is too classy to make them.

(Or, actually, I thought of way too many to choose just one.)

 

Good News Friday: Puppies bring joy everywhere. A 90-year-old widower is about to get married again, to a 40-year-old man. And the funniest joke each President ever told.

Happy Friday to everyone in Internet-land. As we anxiously await the start of the Cruz/Fiorina Presidential administration (as someone on Twitter wisely noted, “tomorrow Cruz will tell us the site of his Presidential library!”), I bring you three good news stories to take you into the weekend.

First up, it’s a pretty well-known fact that puppies make people happy. But every once in a while it’s nice to be reminded of that fact, especially when the puppies are adorable and show up somewhere en masse as a big surprise.

So take two minutes and watch these canines invade a senior citizens’ center, a pre-school, and a gym.

So freaking adorable.

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**Next up, I thought this was a pretty astonishing story told by former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford in the New York Times on Sunday. Wofford was married for 48 years until his wife, Clare, died in 1996. He was convinced he would never find love again, until five years later, when Wofford was 75, he met a 25-year-old named Matthew Charlton on a beach.

From this wonderful, emotional piece: As we talked, I was struck by Matthew’s inquisitive and thoughtful manner and his charm. I knew he was somebody I would enjoy getting to know. We were decades apart in age with far different professional interests, yet we clicked.

I admired Matthew’s adventurous 25-year-old spirit. When he told me that I was “young at heart,” I liked the idea, until I saw a picture of him on a snowboard upside down executing a daring back flip. The Jackson Hole newspaper carried the caption, “Charlton landed the jump without mishap.”

We took trips around the country and later to Europe together, becoming great friends. We both felt the immediate spark, and as time went on, we realized that our bond had grown into love. Other than with Clare, I had never felt love blossom this way before.

Wofford is now 90. Charlton is 40. They’re getting married on Saturday. Wofford closes his beautiful essay with this (I highly recommend the whole thing):

At age 90, I am lucky to be in an era where the Supreme Court has strengthened what President Obama calls “the dignity of marriage” by recognizing that matrimony is not based on anyone’s sexual nature, choices or dreams. It is based on love.

Love always wins over hate. Every time.

**And finally today, the idiotic and wholly unprofessional White House Correspondent’s Dinner is this weekend, an event no self-respecting journalist has any business attending.

But it is a big deal, and often leads to some funny lines. To celebrate the dinner, the Washington Post did a cool story collecting what they felt are the best jokes ever told, by each President in history. Here are a few samples (I think Obama has definitely told better than the one they chose, I always liked his line about “I’m getting older; I’m not the strapping young Muslim Socialist I used to be.” )

Barack Obama, at the 2012 White House correspondents’ dinner

“I have a lot more material prepared, but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew.”

George H.W. Bush, at the 1989 Gridiron Club dinner

“People say I’m indecisive, but I don’t know about that.”

Lyndon Johnson, on Gerald Ford

“So dumb he can’t fart and chew gum at the same time.”’

Abraham Lincoln

“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”

Check out the whole list here; some of them are actually pretty funny.

 

Celebrating the life of the incredible Prince. Vin Scully, as sharp as ever at 88. And Obama and Steph Curry make a great mentoring video

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It is Friday, which usually means I post only Good News stories, and it would be impossible for anyone to say that the death Thursday of 57-year-old music icon Prince Rogers Nelson is good news.

It’s tragic news, because anytime the death of someone leaves less genius in the world, it’s a tragedy.

Prince was so many things, to so many people. To me, he was an incredible voice, a scintillating talent who could sing, dance, write music, play 30 instruments all in one sitting (he once did an entire concert like that, playing each instrument for three minutes each), and pretty much revolutionize music in his own way.

He was an epic music producer for so many other artists, he was a trailblazer in fighting record companies for what he believed he should rightfully get paid for music rights, and more than anything else, he was just a weird, weird dude.

Exhibit A, the story of Prince playing ping-pong with Jimmy Fallon.

Then there’s Kevin Smith’s fabulous re-telling of a week spent with Prince making a documentary (watch if only for the revelation that Prince buys workout clothes from the boys department at Nordstrom!)

He was one of a kind, and his music got me through a lot of long nights in college; my friend Brian Hickey would put a Prince CD on while a bunch of us toiled away on deadline at the school newspaper The Review and we’d get a burst of energy from “When Doves Cry” and “Kiss” and most of all, “I Would Die 4 U.”

His unique voice has been silenced forever. Goddamn, we’ve lost Bowie, Glenn Frey, and now Prince this year and it’s not even May yet.

Rest in peace, sweet Prince. You will be missed.

** Next up today, a small tribute to a giant of a man. Vin Scully has been broadcasting Dodgers games for 67 years, and the 88-year-old has announced this will be his last season. Scully will be celebrated all season, for his kindness to others, his humility, and just his remarkable ability to weave interesting stories  through his broadcasts.

Already this season we’ve gotten two classic Scully stories. The first, embedded above, about why the No. 13 should be celebrated, not feared. And the second, below, is just an incredible story about Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, and a snake, and some other stuff.

**Finally, Barack Obama and Steph Curry did a video, a public service announcement about mentorship last week, for the organization My Brother’s Keeper.

It is, predictably, awesome, and put a big smile on my face when I saw it.

 

 

The Jets behave like the Jets, and I still am somewhat surprised. Obama and Seinfeld have coffee and drive around. And the Dashcam Pro infomercial is hysterical and awful

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How I can now spend the three hours next weekend that I thought I’d be watching a New York Jets playoff game:
1. Taking a walk outside in freezing January temperatures.
2. Catch up on my correspondence.
3. Contemplate why my 16-month-old gets such immense joy from ripping a piece of toilet paper from the roll, walking to the garbage can, and dropping it in. Then repeating this behavior 11 more times while giggling.
4. Decide once and for all, if I prefer Ginger or Mary Ann.
5. Start learning a foreign language.
6. Beat myself over the head with a wooden mallet, which, let’s face it, is pretty much the same experience as watching a Jets game.

Happily, any and all of those options are at my disposal, since my pathetic excuse for a football team decides the best way to finish off what has been a surprisingly fabulous season is to play an awful game they had to win up in Buffalo, to qualify for the playoffs.

I’m not going to get all upset and riled up again going over all the details. Suffice to say, I was angry for a good solid hour after the game Sunday, then spent 20 minutes mad at myself for being 40 and still allowing this franchise’s performance to affect my emotional state.

So, you know, typical end to the Jets season.

**Next up today, you know I love me some Jerry Seinfeld, and I love when Barack Obama does pop-culture-y things that shows off his sense of humor, so of course I loved this episode of “Comedians in Cars Coffee,” that debuted last week, with Seinfeld and our Commander in Chief kicking it in the White House.

My two favorite parts (and I recommend the whole thing🙂 at the 10-minute mark when Seinfeld asks Obama about if he ever touches the thermostat in the White House, and at around 14:00 when Seinfeld says “How many world leaders do you meet and think they’re completely out of their minds?”

**Finally today, it’s been a while since I’ve had fun with a terrible infomercial on this blog, but I saw this commercial the other day and was immediately horrified/fascinated, which is exactly the reaction you want when watching one of these. Have you seen this, people? It’s the Dashcam Pro videocamera for your car, and it’s apparently a MUST-have item for your vehicle.

I have lots and lots of questions after watching this: First of all, given what we’ve seen on the news the last few years, I have total faith that the white police officer would be fine with the militant-sounding African-American driver in an accident reaching over to his windshield and shoving a small camera in his face.

Next, the first few clips show innocent people getting their cars smashed and their fabulous camera footage saving them. But at the :21 mark, the “innocent” woman is applying makeup while driving and then gets hit. Isn’t she the one at fault here?

Also, at 1:05 they brag about flipping the camera screen on road trips to “capture all those special moments” in the car. Are you kidding me? No actual family has ever had a “special moment” on a road trip. It’s four hours of bickering, threats to turn the car around, or sheer boredom. And if the camera is facing the other way, isn’t going to miss the accident you’re about to have when you turn around to smack your kids?

Wait, I’m just getting started. Do we really need yet another device to be distracted by/have to pay attention to in the car? Will one of the people who get into an accident use the “sorry officer, I was adjusting the angle of my stupid dashboard camera.”

“It’s the most important tool you’ll ever buy for your car!” Really? New brakes, replacement tires, none of that is more important?

And yet… I almost kinda maybe want the thing.

My Nets squeak out a Game 7 win. The worst political ad, maybe ever. And Obama kills it as usual at WHCA

NetsRaptorsBasketball-012c8

You would think, with a $190 million payroll, a ton of veteran experience and a coach who played forever, that the Brooklyn Nets wouldn’t need to make a great defensive play at the end of Game 7 on the road to win a first-round playoff series.

But that’s what it took. And you know what? How hard it was doesn’t matter. The pro basketball team I’ve rooted for since I was 14 is moving on to play the Miami Heat, who will promptly smack the Nets into the offseason in, oh, five games.

But hey, let me enjoy Sunday, since the Rangers gave me no enjoyment Sunday night at all (Not that I was surprised. This team is incapable of winning two in a row in the playoffs.).
The Nets were brilliant at times Sunday against a pretty damn good Toronto team and an insane Raptors crowd (seriously, those northerners were loud.) Joe Johnson was fantastic. Alan Anderson was great, too, and Marcus Thornton (Marcus Thornton!) was huge in the second quarter.

But the Raptors kept fighting back, and I got nervous like I do when that happens in an elimination game. Kyle Lowry was magnificent, Demar DeRozan was good, and even Grievis Vasquez, who I’ve hated since he was a Terp, was playing well. And the Nets crumbled, and the lead was down to 1, and the Raptors had a shot to win…

And then Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who have played about 4,000 playoff games between them, combined to make one final stop and preserve the win.
Great game. Great win. Great 1st round of the NBA playoffs (I saw most of Game 7 of the Warriors-Clippers Saturday night too, and that was fantastic as well. Steph Curry… man!)

It’s a wonderful time of the sports year, isn’t it?

**Next up, this is without a doubt the stupidest political advocacy ad I’ve ever seen, and it’s the worst by a mile (hat tip to my old friend Frank G. for pointing me toward it). In Harrisburg, PA this TV ad (paid for by the union that represents liquor stores) has been running as the state considers allowing beer and wine and other alcoholic beverages to be sold in gas stations and supermarkets.

Now, this is not a big deal at all in most states, but in Pennsylvania it’s still illegal, and well, these “fake moms” on the playground are not going to stand for any legality.
Truly, the arguments made here are the most inane you will ever hear, and the statement at the 20-second mark about deaths in N.C. is just completely irresponsible and wrong.

**Finally today, my usual cut-and-paste diatribe about the White House Correspondents Dinner, held again this past weekend: It’s ludicrous, stupid and unprofessional to the extreme for professional journalists who cover Congress to drink, party and have a gay old time among them at this event every year; there’s no way you can cover such important people and topics objectively when you spend five hours every year schmoozing and kissing up to them like this.

That said, as always our President was pretty damn funny in his speech; I liked the Joe Biden “shoe” joke the best:

Highs and lows of a sports weekend: Rangers up, Nets dow. Jets? Who the hell knows. And Obama kills it at the silly Correspondents Dinner

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This past weekend was one of those rare times of year when my three favorite pro sports teams were all making news and doing big things: The Rangers, the Nets, and the Jets all either delighted me, angered me and left me scratching my head and pulling out my few hairs left.

It was a worlds-colliding kind of sports weekend. Some highlights/lowlights from my point of view as a NY sports fan:

**The Nets: Since I’d like to get the misery out of the way first, that was one of the all-time brutal, gut-punching losses Brooklyn suffered Saturday. Deron Williams and Co. were up 14 points with less than four minutes to play … and lost.
That’s really, really hard to do. But if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it. Turnovers, missed free throws, and some holy spirit of Magic Johnson got into Nate Robinson of the Bulls (the most obnoxious player in the NBA, am I right?), and all of a sudden the game went to overtime.
Where of course, the agony got drawn out for us Nets fans, as it stretched to three OT’s before the Bulls won.
Just a horrendous performance at the end by the Nets, and P.J. Carlesimo’s coaching job was as bad as the players’ performance. Series is now 3-1 Bulls, but it’s basically over. Damn.
**The Rangers: On a much happier note, my favorite hockey team appears to finally have stopped underachieving the last few weeks, and roll into the playoffs on a high note. Very excited to see Rick Nash and Derek Stepan scoring so much, and I think the Rangers have a very winnable first-round series against the Capitals. (Gotta love the NHL playoffs, the best in any sport).
Not saying the Rangers are winning the Cup or anything; they’re nowhere near as good as Pittsburgh, Chicago, Anaheim or Boston. But at least finally, after 3 months of mediocre hockey, they’re showing what’s possible with all that talent on the team.

**The Jets: Finally, the New York Jets, America’s most dysfunctional football team. I don’t know what the hell to think about a team with so few offensive weapons deciding that, instead of drafting some, let’s take a QB in the 2nd round who back in October was considered a Top 5 pick, yet by April wasn’t even worthy of a first-round choice.
Which is to say, the more everyone saw of Geno Smith, the less they liked him. Except for the Jets, who apparently decided five QBs on the roster already weren’t enough.
I spent Saturday trying to talk myself into the Geno Smith era: Hey, at least it means I won’t have to watch Mark Sanchez anymore, and maybe the kid will prove all his critics wrong who say he fumbles too much and can’t read defenses well. And maybe the Jets will be smart with him and let him learn on the bench behind David Garrard for at least half a season…

But who the hell am I kidding? I was rationalizing big-time. Taking Smith was not a good move by my Jets; I can’t see any way he can succeed this year with such little talent around him.
But it’s April; no sense stressing over the Jets’ miseries just yet.  There’ll be plenty of time for that in the fall.

Let’s go Rangers.

**Finally today, I say in this space every year how ridiculous and unprofessional I think the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner is.

Reporters whose job it is to investigate and cover politicians in that town get together and share drinks and back-slaps with the same people they’re supposed to be impartial about.

It reeks of unprofessionalism and “insider-ness”  and everything people suspect about the culture of Washington.

But they’re going to keep having it every year, and with a pretty funny President in office, I usually get some good chuckles out of the POTUS speech.

Some of his best lines from the video above:
— “You know, sometimes I look in the mirror and realize I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist I used to be.”
— “CNN covers ever angle of a story, just in case they stumble onto the right one.”
— “Sheldon Adelson spent $100 million in 2012 to try to get Republicans elected. He would’ve been better off offering me $100 million not to run.”