Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

A pretty amazing March, in so many cities, gives me hope. A crushing loss for Duke made me sad, but how ’bout Loyola? And a Brazilian basketball shot I’ve never seen.

Well that was quite a weekend. On many, many fronts.

Before I get to the Stormy Daniels interview, and my agonizing three hours watching Duke come oh-so-close to another Final Four appearance before losing, I have to talk about the hundreds of thousands of people who marched on Washington, D.C., and in cities (and countries) all across the world on Saturday.

(My mother was one of those people, and I probably would’ve been too if not for months-ago purchased tickets to “Paw Patrol Live!” for me and the 3-year-old. Hey, you don’t mess around when Chase is on the case.)

It was called the March for Our Lives, but really, it was a March for the Future. For new leaders, for victims of so many school shootings in the past finally finding their voice, for the kids at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High who have galvanized so many of us.

It was truly a stunning event, and I think I agree with Esquire writer Andrew Cohen when he says “there’s no turning back now, our national debate about guns is over. The only question is how far and how fast change will go.”

I have lots of thoughts about the march and what it might accomplish, but it’s late and I’ve got lots to say about March Madness and neither one of us has time to read a 3,000 word post.

So let me just say these four things:

1.Signs like the one above just devastate me. That children like those the age of the one’s murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary, could be thinking about these things and having to deal with them is just… an incredible failing as a society. For a great gallery of photos from Marches across the globe, click here.

2. The speeches were fantastic; I highly recommend watching Emma Gonzalez’s moving tribute to her classmates who died, stay with it for all six minutes. But this speech, by 11-year-old Naomi Wadler, of Virginia, just knocked my socks off. The poise, the intelligence, the ability to be so forceful at her age… just amazing.

3. The absolute most important thing to come out of Saturday’s marches in the U.S.? Thousands of new voters. All of the speeches and all of the outrage does no good if it doesn’t lead to people showing up on the first Tuesday of November to vote, this year and every year. Too many times enthusiasm has petered out, I pray it doesn’t happen this time. Because this is a tsunami of political change just waiting to happen, if the momentum is kept up until Election Day.

4. The New England Patriots lending their team plane to transport the Parkland community families to fly to Washington, D.C. was an incredibly classy gesture. And you people know how hard it is for me to say anything nice about the Patriots. But this was a fantastic good deed.

**And now, to the NCAA Tournament. Another tremendous weekend of games. I gotta start with my Duke team, first. What a brutal loss Sunday night’s OT defeat to Kansas was.

Not just because of the shot by Grayson Allen, above, that rolled around the rim TWICE before bouncing out, a shot that would’ve won the game for Duke in the final seconds of regulation.(I’m going to be seeing that one in my head for weeks.)

But because it was an excruciating performance. The Blue Devils didn’t get the ball to their star, and the best player in America, Marvin Bagley III, nearly enough. Duke couldn’t hit a 3-pointer to save its life, saw Wendell Carter Jr. get into terrible foul trouble (and foul out on a hideous call by the refs.)

Even still, Duke was up 3, with 1 minute to go in regulation, and couldn’t close. All credit to Kansas and Malik Newman, especially. It was a sensational battle, and the Jayhawks deserved to win.

Duke fans are spoiled, 100 percent. But to be that close to a Final Four and not get there… ooof.

— Then there’s the amazing story of Loyola-Chicago, winning yet another game Saturday and sending 98-year-old nun Sister Jean Schmidt into an even greater stratosphere of celebrity. This Ramblers team, an 11 seed, winning like it has and getting to a Final Four, is just such a beautiful story.

— I thought the line of the weekend was from Yahoo! sports columnist Pat Forde: “Two women have dominated the headlines this weekend: Sister Jean and Stormy Daniels. They don’t have a lot in common.”

— I got zero Final Four teams right in my bracket. Somehow, 550 people out of 17.3 million on the ESPN bracket challenge picked all four Final Four teams. I think we’ll get two excellent games next Saturday, but this is Villanova’s title to lose right now. I think they are certainly the best team left.

But are YOU gonna bet against a 98-year-old nun?

**And finally, I guess I should say something about the Stormy Daniels “60 Minutes” interview, and how I completely believe she’s telling the truth, and how I’ll never look at a Forbes magazine in my doctor’s office the same way again, and how I can’t wait to see how all the evangelicals who talk about what a great moral, Christian man Trump is twist themselves into knots defending this man, and how all the outraged folks who are still pissed about Bill Clinton and Monica and Gennifer Flowers feel about President Orange Man having oh so many extramarital affairs.

But mainly, I look at that interview and see a star-struck woman who had her life threatened because she was in awe of the celebrity and power of Donald Trump and blames herself for all that happened because she agreed to go up to his hotel room one day.

And that makes me sad, and nauseous.

But instead of dwelling on that interview, I want to show you something amazing. In the Brazilian basketball league, playing for a team called Cearense, a man named Paulinho Boracini went to the free throw line with his team down three points, in the final seconds. He made the first foul shot. And then he did this (above), which I’ve never, ever seen before in four decades of basketball watching:

I mean…. that’s incredible. He could try that 1,000 times and not do it again. The 3-pointer is crazy enough, but how about the little bank of the glass, too?

Insane.

Michelle Obama and the Democrats show how it’s done, with 2 beautiful days. And Trump pissed off his littlest followers, and now they’re suing

My goodness, what a breath of fresh air the last two days of the Democratic National Convention has been.

Look everyone, actual grown-ups giving speeches, with specifics, and those crazy little things called facts, and somehow giving us the idea that America isn’t a complete hellhole just a few weeks away from total obliteration!

The contrast could not be more obvious. Monday night and Tuesday night in Philadelphia, a cross-section of America, people that actually look like America, walked up to the podium and spoke from their heart with an uplifting, realistic message.

And Tuesday night, a little before 7 p.m., a woman became the nominee of one of our two major political parties, for the first time ever. Even though it has been known for months that Hillary Rodham Clinton would make history, it was still pretty amazing to see it happen.

So much I want to talk about from the first two nights, but I have to start with the greatest speech from a First Lady, maybe ever.

— I mean, how inspiring was Michelle Obama? This highly educated, graceful, beautiful woman stood on the stage at the Wells Fargo Center and tore the roof off. She spoke so movingly about her daughters, and about history, and starting at the 11:30 mark of the above video, uttered one of the greatest passages I’ve ever heard spoken.

“Today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent black young women, playing with their dog on the White House lawn.”
What an incredible line, delivered beautifully. I know she would never, ever do it, but I’d vote for her for elected office in a nanosecond.

– Cory Booker = the 2024 Democratic Presidential nominee. He was powerful and passionate Monday night as well, making the case for Hillary strongly. I still think he should’ve been the VP pick.

MothersofMovement.DNC

— Another sensational moment Tuesday night was the speeches by the Mothers of the Movement, moms whose children had been killed by law enforcement in the last few years. Hearing their gripping, beautiful words of pain and grief is so important.

— Can’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t think the speakers the first two nights hit Trump hard enough, specifically, how incredibly terrifying a Trump Presidency would be. The GOP spent four days last week on doom and gloom and fear and horror, preying on Americans’ worst nightmares.

I think 20 minutes of the nightmare of Trump and Putin destroying the world is in order, maybe tonight by Joe Biden. The case has to be hammered home, over and over, how catastrophic a Trump win would be.

— The Big Dog, aka Bubba, aka Bill Clinton, gave a long and mostly terrific speech about his wife Tuesday night. He humanized her, which needed to be done, telling great anecdotes about their life together, but when talking about how she sticks with things, he might’ve said “And she stuck with me through all my cheating and zipper problems, even after I got oral sex in the Oval Office! How ’bout that woman!”

Still, he was solid and seemed to, as always, relish the spotlight.

— Finally, allow me a few words to vent about the idiotic Bernie Sanders delegates who heckled, booed and disrupted the first two days: GROW UP. Seriously, grow the f up. Heckling Elizabeth Warren with chants of “We Trusted You!” and, most amazingly, “Goldman Sachs” was just ridiculous. Elizabeth Warren, the most anti-Wall Street politician in the country, getting heckled with “Goldman Sachs” chants… so stupid.

The ideological purity and absolute fealty they were demanding was so naive and juvenile, and booing their OWN hero, Bernie Sanders, during his speech Monday and then again on Tuesday showed these narcissistic blowhards to be beyond the pale.

We Bernie fans desperately wanted him to win. He didn’t. Shit happens. Get on board and realize a Trump Presidency would be astronomically awful. Grow up.

**Finally today, this story, pointed out to me by avid blog reader (and wonderful friend) Will, just about made my freaking day. Do you remember that incredibly creepy “pep rally” video I posted on the blog back in January, of three little girls doing a dance routine before a Donald Trump rally? If you don’t recall it, watch it above (Their group is called “USA Freedom Kids,” which sounds like an awful charity or something.)

Then again, maybe don’t watch it: It’s about the worst piece of propaganda I’ve seen since that awful Rick Santorum “Game on” commercial back in 2012.

Anyway, I’d forgotten about these little misguided darlings until Tuesday, when the Washington Post ran a story saying that the father/manager of one of the girls, Jeff Popick, is suing Trump because he never paid the group what they were promised.

“These are guys that insist they’re straight shooters,” Popick said, “‘You may not like what we’re going to say, but we mean what we say and we say what we mean’ — and they just would not say anything of any substance!”

“I’ve invested a lot of time, effort, money,” he continued, “and it’s just been complete silence.”

You can screw with lots of people, Donald Trump. But you do NOT fuck with the USA Freedom Girls, OK?

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

clintonkaine_072016getty

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.

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.

scottsimon

**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.

A few words about Andy Roddick’s legacy. Bill Clinton wowing us all over again. And the 5-year-old Minnesota Fats wannabe.

Some thoughts on two American originals, Andy Roddick and Bill Clinton, while still being stunned that the greatest of all time, Roger Federer, was sent packing from the U.S. Open Wednesday night…

Andy Roddick retired from tennis Wednesday. His career and lasting legacy is hard to sum up in a few hundred words, but I’ll try.
First, let’s start with the good. He was unquestionably the best American tennis player of the last 10 years. He took the torch from the greatest generation of U.S. stars, guys like Agassi and Sampras and Courier and Chang, and pretty much carried it by himself. He won one Grand Slam title (that’s him at the ’03 Open, above, and damn doesn’t he look young?), reached three Wimbledon finals, and I would say, vastly overachieved in his career.
The kid had a big serve, a big forehand, and hustle. That’s pretty much it. And he managed to stay in the top 10 for so many years on those weapons and his desire.
He also, it must be said, gave tremendous amounts of time and money to charity through his foundation. And he was often hilarious in press conferences, rarely taking himself too seriously.

Now, the bad: In big moments, he never was able to step up and finish. The ’09 Wimbledon final, one of the best matches I’ve ever seen, he just couldn’t quite do enough to put away Roger Federer.
But the bigger black mark for me, and why I wasn’t rooting for Roddick yesterday, was his deplorable on-court behavior. He was awful in yelling at umpires and linespeople, often humiliating them in front of millions. Take a look at this,  or this, or even this.   When he was a 20-year-old kid, OK, maybe you can chalk it up to immaturity. But when he was still acting like a spoiled baby on-court a few months ago, well, that speaks to character.

So I watched yesterday with mixed emotions. I thought Roddick’s opponent, Juan Martin del Potro, showed true class, and Roddick was graceful and emotional in defeat. It was a hell of a career; I just wish Roddick could’ve been more of a sportsman and a grown-up all these years.

**Keith O’Dell Jr. is 5 years old. He’s really good at playing pool. Watch this, and then watch out for this kid stealing your money at your neighborhood pool hall (do they even have those anymore?)

**Finally, Bubba Clinton’s speech last night. Man oh man was he fantastic. I’d vote for him again right now, even knowing what a sleazebag he is/was with women. Of all the wonderful turns of phrase our last two-term Democratic President used last night (and his “arithmetic” line was brilliant), what I thought was most important was him calling out the GOP for their lies about health care and about Medicare.

Ole’ Bill was in Southern Preacher mode last night (has anyone in human history loved the spotlight as much as he does?) and he connects with an audience like no politician I’ve ever seen. Great to see he and Obama on stage at the end together; going to be hard for Obama to top Clinton’s speech last night.

And MSNBC, please, can we stop with the “Hillary 2016” stuff? Let’s get this election won first. Thank you.

Great letters from Presidents past. The great Mariano Rivera begins his curtain call. And a Charles Dickens theme park, seriously?

You want to make history come alive for today’s kids? This is one great way to do it.
This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while. The fabulous website Mentalfloss.com has highlighted 10 of the best letters from U.S. Presidents in history, as compiled by the organization Letters of Note. This compilation, which has the original letters as well as an easier-to-read transcription, has some beauties in here.
John F. Kennedy’s childhood letter to his father, asking for a bigger allowance so he can buy “cholcalote marshmellow sunday with vanilla ice cream. (OK, so young JFK wasn’t the best speller.) Bill Clinton’s letter to Chris Webber after the ex-Michigan star made a huge mistake in the 1993 NCAA championship game. A brilliantly scathing, short note from Harry Truman to a critic who ripped Truman ‘s daughter’s performance on stage. An Abraham Lincoln letter to some schoolchildren who wanted all slaves to be freed.

And in what may be the first time I ever say anything nice about Ronald Reagan, a touching and warm love letter he wrote to Nancy on their 20th anniversary (above. The transcription is wonderful if you can’t read Ronnie’s handwriting).

These are living, breathing documents that give us insight into how some of these great minds work. It’s truly a wonderful way to spend a few minutes.

**Well, we Yankees fans knew this day would come at some point. But it’s still going to be rough.
The great Mariano Rivera, the finest relief pitcher of all time and a man whose ticket to Cooperstown has already been bought and paid for, hinted when he got to spring training this week that the 2012 season may be his last.

Rivera, who has been throwing the same pitch for 16 years and still getting batters out with it, is the epitome of class and grace. Even Yankees haters can’t find anything bad to say about him. Baseball, and Yankee Stadium, will be a poorer place when No. 42 hangs it up. Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal has a nice column up about Rivera here.

**And finally today, an idea I can’t believe made it all the way through to fruition. Some geniuses in England decided that the best way to keep the memory of Charles Dickens and his books alive was to create Dickens World, a theme park dedicated to the author of books mostly about bleakness, and despair.

There are actual rides like the Great Expectations Flume Ride, which drops you off into a sewer, and the operators of the park have even created authentic smells, like the ones found at the lovely orphanage in “Oliver’s Twist.”

I would love to know exactly who the demographic is for this place. And I also want to know how bored you have to be before saying on a European vacation “Mom, Dad, let’s go splash into a sewer!”

Bill Clinton, wedding officiant. And pondering Angelina Jolie’s latest gesture

**A light-hearted blog for a lazy summer Sunday afternoon while I’m on vacation:

I can’t believe I missed this last week; I mean, I know I don’t pay as much attention to the news when I’m on vacation and everything, but this story was so far up my alley, it should’ve jumped up into my lap.

New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, a pretty good liberal in my book,  got married to a former Hillary Clinton aide named Huma Abedin on Long Island (at a place that my wife and I actually looked into holding our wedding).

And the officiant at the event? Bill Clinton. That’s right boys and girls, our 42nd President, a man who had his fly open more than Dirk Diggler in the 1970s, was up there preaching to the wedding guests and the happy couple about love, honor, and obeying your spouse. About staying loyal and faithful and all that good stuff.

Somewhere, Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones are wondering where their invitations were.

Bill Clinton, officiating a wedding. So many jokes here I don’t even know where to start. Wouldn’t this be like Al Capone be named head of the police department in Chicago? Or Dick Cheney taking over as head of the EPA?

Good luck to Congressman Weiner and his bride. And please, for the love of the Arkansas state troopers, please ignore everything President Clinton told you last weekend.

**So I saw Saturday that Angelina Jolie, who I honestly truly never found all that attractive (and yes, I realize I may be the only heterosexual male who doesn’t think she’s hot) has invited real-life Russian spy Anna Chapman to the opening of Jolie’s new movie, in which she plays a real-life Russian spy.

So I got to wondering: When Jolie stars in a film playing a character who steals another woman’s husband in the same profession and then has lots of kids with him, will she be inviting Jennifer Aniston to the premiere?

Jets beat the hell out of the Raiders, a “Little House” spoof, and the Yanks go back to the Series

Jets Raiders Football

For a while in the early part of this decade, it seemed like the Oakland Raiders ripped my heart out every year.

They beat the Jets big, they beat them small. They beat them in the regular season, they beat them in the playoffs. OK, no more Dr. Seuss-like pronouncements. But basically, the Raiders owned the Jets.

That’s why Sunday was so sweet for me, and for, I’m sure, all the Jets fans out there. Sunday, against one of the worst NFL teams I have ever seen, Gang Green beat the ever-loving stuffing out of the Raiders, 38-0.

Except for one horrible injury to Leon Washington, who suffered a broken fibula and about whom a teammate said “I could see blood spurting out. I’ve never seen anything like that before” (lovely), it was a sensational day for the Jets.

They finally did what they should’ve done last week: run, run, and run some more, and throw the ball only when absolutely necessary.

Thomas Jones looked terrific, as did rookie Shonn Greene (though, unlike the Mets’ Shawn Green, I don’t think is Jewish), who replaced Leon Washington.

Mark Sanchez did just enough, though I have no freakin’ idea why he was still in the game to take a couple of hellacious hits late in the fourth quarter. Sanchez was poised, confident, and made the throws he needed to make. And really, that’s all we should ask of the kid. These Jets fans who are ready to throw him out after a few bad games are morons. The kid has now started 23 games since high school.

The Jets defense was outstanding (welcome to the season, Calvin Pace, you of your two strip sacks), and JaMarcus Russell, God bless you for being so awful. He basically gave the Jets their first two touchdowns. I was legitimately sad when the Raiders pulled him.

Losing Leon is a huge blow; his dangerous kickoff returns alone make him a big asset. But with this win, the Jets stay a game back of New England, and have a chance at some Dolphins revenge next week.

Man, this Jets team is hard to figure after 7 weeks: Three straight wins, then three straight losses, now a resounding win. Ask me around Thanksgiving and I’ll be able to tell you if they’re any good or not.

Some other quick-hit thoughts on this NFL Sunday:

**Good God the Saints are explosive. Down 24-3, they scored 43 points in the last two quarters and the last minute of the first half. Forty-three! Couldn’t happen at a better time, against the hated Dolphins. Thanks, Drew Brees. If the 4-3 Jets can beat 2-4 Miami next week at the Meadowlands, that could just bury the ‘Fins’ playoff hopes. Lovely.

**Ah, that’s the Brett Favre I remember from last season. A fumble in the fourth quarter in the red zone against Pittsburgh, returned for a touchdown, then an INT that wasn’t his fault a few minutes later.

**So someone please tell me how JaMarcus Russell is still a starting quarterback in the NFL. If he’s an NFL quarterback, I’m Manute Bol.

**Go ahead, you figure out the Cincinnati Bengals.

pettitte

**As for the New York Yankees, I of course am thrilled to see them finish off those poor-fielding Angeles of Los Angeles, 5-2 Sunday night. It seems like it’s been a lot longer than six years since the Bronx Bombers have been in the Series, but that’s probably just something obnoxious Yankee fans like me think sometimes.

Couple thoughts:

1. This will be a longer post this week, but the Yankee fans’ adoration of Alex Rodriguez is something I never thought I’d see. Much like with Bill Clinton, I’ve always been so conflicted about him, myself.

2. It amazes me what pressure can do to human beings. The Angels were a fantastic defensive team in the regular season. But in the pressure cooker of October, they melted like an egg on a sidewalk in Florida in July.

3. Also, memo to FOX baseball directors: We really don’t need to see a fan reaction shot to EVERY out. And why do we care if Giuliani’s at the game anymore? He hasn’t been the mayor since 2001.

**Finally, I was watching a Rangers game Saturday night through the NHL’s free preview of its Center Ice Package, and the telecast was a “Hockey Night in Canada” production. Always a good time. Anyway, I heard a promo for something that I couldn’t believe was real, but apparently it is.

There’s a Canadian sitcom called “Little Mosque on the Prairie.” Seriously. According to the show’s web site, it’s an internationally-acclaimed comedy about Muslims and Christians attempting to live in harmony in the small town of Mercy, Saskatchewan.

This brings to mind all kinds of jokes in my head (would Laura Ingalls Wilder ever go to Mecca?), but I’m sure many of them would be offensive.

Anyway, here’s a clip of the show, from the first episode: I found it interesting.

R.I.P., Teddy Kennedy, last of the great liberals

 

tedkennedy

Whatever else you see or read today or in the next few days about the late Edward Kennedy, let me assure you of this:

The man did not get cheated by life. He lived four or five lifetimes in his 77 years: a young kid just hoping to carry the mantle of his slain brothers; a senator who many thought was a lightweight but grew into a powerful advocate, an incredibly wealthy man who cared deeply about people who had so little money.

He was also shamed and disgraced after being responsible for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick in 1969, pathetically leaving the scene of the crime, then not reporting it for hours while Kopechne drowned; and finally, after the drinking and carousing and womanizing was finished, he became a fantastic and distinguished voice of experience in the Senate, raging against big-company greed and fighting so hard for things like aid to the poor, civil rights, and immigration.

Really, the guy lived enough for three or four movies about him.

One of the things I said in a post last month about Kennedy is that he was such a tragically flawed hero, and was such a lightning rod, that most people either loved him or hated him.  I mean really, have you ever met anyone with no opinion on Teddy?

Just as so many of us on the left were thrilled he was championing causes few believed him, he was mocked viciously on the right, for his excessive alcohol intake (a woman in my office has a bumper sticker that reads: “I’d still rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than drinking with Ted Kennedy.”)

Much like with Bill Clinton, I think that if Teddy could’ve eliminated some of the more noxious elements of his personal life, he could’ve accomplished so much more.

As much as he did accomplish (helping pass the Voting Rights Act, helping found OHSA, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, getting the minimum wage raised, starting the wildly successful SCHIP program for kids’ health), I feel that he could’ve had an even bigger impact, perhaps as President, if his wildly reckless behavior had been curtailed before the 1990s.

There are some people that I’ve read today who think Kennedy’s death from a brain tumor will spur change and action on the health-care debate, that now there will be some kind of symbolic unity and America will finally get a strong universal health-care plan.

Yeah, I’m not seeing that; Republicans and special interests are too dug in and this goes way beyond Teddy Kennedy’s legacy. 

What I keep thinking about today is, who’s going to fill his shoes? I don’t mean, literally, who’ll take his Senate seat.

I’m talking about, who’ll be the charismatic liberal voice in the Senate? We lost the great Paul Wellstone in a plane crash in 2002, and now Kennedy has died.

There are other liberal Senators fighting for our causes, men like Russ Feingold and Dick Durbin, but they lack the national profile and, quite frankly, the charisma of other past standout Senators.

I just fear that with Barack Obama turning out to be more of a centrist than I hoped, that with Kennedy’s death the era of the mad as hell, fire-breathing liberal championing those who don’t have anyone else to champion them is officially dead, too.

Who will speak for those without a voice? Who will argue on behalf of the single mother working two jobs and still being unable to pay the mortgage, or the minimum-wage-earning man trying to earn a living and break a cycle of abject poverty in his life, or in his surroundings? Hardly anybody speaks for those people now above a whisper, and now poor people lost one of the few megaphones they had left.

I thought John Edwards could be that voice once, but, well, we know what happened to him.

I think historians decades from now will see Kennedy in a mostly positive light; the alcohol and indiscretions will be glossed over, and his legacy will be that of the only Kennedy brother who lived a long life, and packed as much into it as it could.

Adam Clymer maybe summed up Kennedy best in his 1999 biography:

“The deaths and tragedies around him would have led others to withdraw. He never quits, but sails against the wind.”

Farewell, Senator Kennedy. You lived one hell of a life.

And say hi to Jack and Bobby for us, too.

 

 

Why Bill Clinton still fascinates and frustrates me

bill_clinton

So I found myself thinking about Bill Clinton again Tuesday night, because once again, he has ridden into the spotlight on his steed. Apparently he convinced Kim Jong Il, our little friend in North Korea, to release the two American journalists who were captured back in March for allegedly entering the country illegally.

Clinton flies into Pyongyang, schmoozes for many hours with possibly the craziest world leader going right now (Hugh Chavez and Robert Mugabe, my apologies), and then he and Euna Lee and Laura Ling get on a plane and suddenly, POOF!, the Americans have been pardoned and all is right with the world and there’s the big guy smiling and will someone please get this man a cigar?

Now, a couple of things before I get to my main point: One, a decent argument could be made that since Ling and Lee allegedly admitted to illegally entering the country, they were indeed guilty and American power should not have been used to free them. To quote a person I know, “They knew what they were doing was wrong, did it anyway, got caught, and now, because America is America, they get to come home.” I’m not saying it would be a popular argument, but you could make it.

And before we all excoriate Mr. Clinton for hogging the spotlight, apparently many other negotiators were involved in the freeing of the “North Korea Two”, and many other statesmen were considered before the North Koreans expressly asked that Bubba be involved at the end (This made me laugh for some reason, like the North Koreans are some TV talk show show director and an agent is pitching guests: “No, we don’t want Jimmy Carter or Al Gore, give us someone bigger”).

Still, this episode is No. 4,545 in the Bill Clinton file in my mind as I try to figure out how I feel about the 42nd President of the United States. Seriously, I go back and forth on him like a kid choosing between the hot fudge sundae or the seven layer cake. Rarely do I feel the same way about him twice in a row, if you know what I mean.

Sometimes I hate him and get so angry that he wasted so much of his time as the most powerful man on Earth shtupping interns and getting bogged down in scandal after scandal. Other times I marvel at his brilliant mind, tremendous fund-raising prowess, and skillful powers of pursuasion.

I hated him when he played sewer-water dirty in the presidential campaign of 2008, showing how incredibly desperate he was to get back into the White House. I admired him when he helped Barack Obama win.

Why, I sometimes raged during the 1990s, does a man with so many extraordinary gifts have to have so many extraordinary flaws? And why now, as he does so many great things world-wide, with the Clinton Foundation raising billions to help so many outstanding causes, does he still say and so many stupid things?

One memory often shoots to the front of my mind when I think about Clinton: When I volunteered for the John Edwards for President campaign in New Hampshire in the winter of 2003-04, I stayed with a couple who had worked for Clinton in 1992 and ’96. I will always remember the sheer wonder and thrill in their eyes when they talked about meeting him, and how he made them feel important, and how I felt like for a few minutes like they were 9 years old and talking about meeting a rock star. The guy just has that effect on people.

I hate him. I love him. I hate him. I love him. I hate him. I love him.  I honestly don’t know how he’ll be treated by history, nor do I know how I’ll feel about him tomorrow.

I just know he’s endlessly fascinating, because he’s so damn human.

P.S. So for those people who think Keith Olbermann of MSNBC, who has turned into an amazing voice for liberals in this country, only calls out Republicans, here’s some proof he hates all political scumbags, Democrats included. This health care thing is making me madder and madder, as we drift further away from a solution: