Tag Archives: John McCain

Two giants leave the stage: Wrestling with the many things to love and hate about John McCain. And Neil Simon was a playwright God. And the U.S. Open begins!

Messy, non black-and-white lives make for very confusing obituaries when a person dies.

We so easily want to place people into neat categories: Good guy, bad guy. Hero, or villain. Genius, or idiot. Nuance doesn’t play so well in 2018, when everyone must have a take on something immediately.

The life of John McCain, which ended Sunday at 81, does not categorize easily. There is so much that happened to him, or that he made happen, and if you take just that side of it, you can decide for yourself if McCain was a hero, or someone not worthy of admiration.

Me, I think he’s both. Let’s start with the good of John McCain: He was a war hero; he survived 5.5 years of captivity as a prisoner of war, refusing to be let go early because of his famous Navy family and suffering unspeakable horrors. He also had a distinguished career as a Senator, helping write the McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws which have been obliterated over the past 20 years.

In 2000 he should’ve been and could’ve been the Republican presidential nominee, but George W. Bush and Karl Rove did some unspeakable things to McCain in S. Carolina, and so he lost, but he captured the imagination of millions of voters who believed he was a “different” kind of politician.

He ran a poor, mostly civil campaign for President of the United States in 2008, and in the last two years battled brain cancer bravely, and battled (in spots) the evil of Donald Trump.

And now the other side: He was a major figure in the Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s, and possibly should’ve seen jail time. He inflicted Sarah Palin on the world, and you absolutely can draw a straight line from that dim-witted fool being named as a VP nominee in 2008 to the intelligence-deprived Americans who put a failed business exec turned TV star into the damn White House.

McCain, for all his bluster, was much more conservative in his voting record than Democrats pretended he was, and for all his anti-Trump blather, he still voted to pass tax cuts that were horrendous to the middle class, and he still refused to stand up to Trump legislatively and give him more losses that he deserved. There was a lot to like about John McCain, and a lot to dislike about him.

As one of my favorite writers, Bruce Arthur, said on Twitter Sunday, McCain lived “a big, messy, significant life.”

He was many things, to many people. But I do believe his heart was usually in the right place, and he thought what he was doing was right.

I’ll leave you with this, that stuck out at me Sunday: John McCain lost the Republican nomination for President to George W. Bush, and he lost the presidential election to Barack Obama. He has asked both men to deliver the eulogies at his funeral.

**Next up, it’s a holy day in my life today as my annual two week bacchanalia of fun, freelance writing and so much great tennis begins with the start of the U.S. Open.

Qualifying week last week was awesome as usual, but now, the real party starts: 128 men, 128 women, all as of 11 a.m. this morning with an equal shot to win the last major of the year.

I have no idea who will win the women’s title; many are picking Serena Williams but I just can’t see it; she’s still playing her way back into match shape. I could see Sloane Stephens repeating, I could see Angie Kerber taking the title, too. But I’m sure I’ll regret this but I’m going with American Madison Keys to finally make her big breakthrough and take home her first Slam.

On the men’s side, of course my heart says a certain Swiss gentleman will win, but he’s got a tough draw once we get to the second week. I’d love to see Novak Djokovic follow up on his Wimbledon win with a title, but not sure he’s all the way back yet.

So I’m picking Nadal, boring though it is to go with the top seed.

Whoever wins, I guarantee one thing: It’s going to be a fantastic tournament. Couldn’t find a really good preview or hype video for the upcoming Open, so I thought I’d play my favorite Roger Federer shot of all time, from the 2009 semis. Unbelievable.

**Finally today, a few words about the great Neil Simon, the playwright who died Sunday at 91. Maybe, along with Arthur Miller, the greatest American theater writer ever, Simon wrote so many classics, including “The Odd Couple,” “The Goodbye Girl” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” He was a television and film writer as well, and he was so, so damn funny.

“The Odd Couple” alone was such a classic it’s been made into movies, TV shows and been imitated forever; the slob who lives with the neat freak is a staple of popular culture.

Simon was the recipient of four Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, the Kennedy Center honors (1995), four Writers Guild of America Awards, an American Comedy Awards Lifetime Achievement honor and, in 1983, he even had a Broadway theater named after him when the Alvin was rechristened the Neil Simon Theatre. (pretty great honor when you’re, you know, still alive.)

What a remarkable life he led.

Everybody into the pool! I help you win your NCAA office pool. And Julianne Moore does a great Palin in “Game Change.”

My favorite time of the year is here.
The Madness of March. Brackets, baby, brackets. Since Sunday at 6 p.m., around studying for a big exam Monday, yours truly has been studying, analyzing, and talking myself into picks for the NCAA Tournament starting Tuesday.
Since I know most of you are in pools at your office, I’m here to help. If any of my picks pan out and you end up winning a huge amount of money, feel free to donate to my “pay the government back its student loan money” fund.
First things first: I think the committee did a really good job this year. Except for putting Iona in over Drexel, I can’t really quibble with the 68 teams they put in. And even Iona getting in doesn’t kill me; at least more mid-majors got in this year.

OK, some quick thoughts on the bracket:
— First-round upsets you should pick: Long Beach State over New Mexico (LBSU is really good, and almost beat Kansas and UNC this year); Davidson over Louisville, Iowa State over UConn, and Ohio over Michigan. Possible sleeper: Belmont, a 14 seed, over Georgetown. That will be a very good game.
— Sleepers to maybe get to Sweet 16: Wichita State as a 5 seed, Murray State as a 6, St. Mary’s as a 7.
— Best first-round game to watch: Wichita State vs. VCU (Thursday, 7:15 p.m.. Of course you remember VCU made that miraculous run to the Final Four last year. This is a totally different Rams team, but still pretty darn good.
— My Duke boys didn’t get that bad of a draw; can’t complain too much. I think a game against Notre Dame in the 3rd round is winnable, but after that I can’t see the Devils beating Baylor. I think Sweet 16 is about as good as I can hope for this year.
— My very preliminary Final 4 picks: Kentucky (duh), Michigan State, Ohio State, and (I really hate to do this) North Carolina. And let’s go with the Spartans and their star, Draymond Green (that’s him up above) to win it all, because Tom Izzo is awesome and so is his team. I just think Kentucky, who everyone will pick, will fold like usual when the going gets tough.
Can’t wait for the Madness to begin!

**Ever since the historic 2008 presidential election ended, I’ve been waiting for Hollywood to make a whole bunch of movies about it.
I mean, it was an incredible, world-altering race for so many different reasons, but almost four years later we’ve had a ton of books about the Obama/Hillary/McCain/Palin duel, but no flicks.
Happily, HBO has changed that, premiering “Game Change,” based on a book by Mark Halperin and John Heilmann. With so much material to choose from, the producers decided to simply focus on Sarah Palin and McCain’s bizarre choice of her, and all that ensued.

The movie was terrific. Julianne Moore, as Palin, does an even better Sarah than Tina Fey did. Ed Harris as John McCain was dead-on, and Woody Harrelson was really good as McCain campaign leader Steve Schmidt, who was completely befuddled and then angry as Palin’s lack of knowledge about the world was slowly revealed.
The look on Schmidt’s face when Palin didn’t know what the Federal Reserve was was priceless.
The movie does move along slowly at times, but you really can’t say it makes Palin look worse than she really is; sadly, most of the horror show that the movie portrayed really did happen. She really is that stupid and vapid.
Really good film; check it on HBO when you get the chance.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” close to death. One very tough puppy. And a little thing that made me feel old

So we moved one step closer to finally getting rid of the disgusting “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of the U.S. military this week.

The House of Representatives voted to kill it on Thursday, so now it moves to the Senate. An important committee in the Senate, the Senate Armed Services Committee, also voted to let this exclusionary, homophobic, anti-civil rights law die a slow death (And shame on Jim Webb for voting against this).

There will be more fighting next week, from the old-guard Republicans, who despite poll after poll showing that most Americans want anyone to be able to serve, still think it’s a terrible idea.

Gay-hating senators like John McCain are vowing to filibuster this amendment, making oh so much noise and sounding so much like those who railed against women having the right to vote, and African-Americans having the right to vote.

There’s still so much wrong with this country, so much that needs fixing. But finally, within a matter of months, any person brave enough to want to serve in the military, will be able to do so.

And thank God for that, on this Memorial Day weekend.

**So this is fairly incredible. A woman in Rock Hill, S.C. drove for 30 miles, following an ambulance taking her husband to the hospital, with a stray puppy stuck under her front hood.

The poor little guy had been abandoned near the woman’s house, climbed in there somehow, then got stuck on top of the hot transmission.

He turned out to have stomach burns, but he’s OK now. Check out the amazing story here.

**OK, this is just something that might make fellow Generation X’ers like myself feel old.

I was watching “Glee” the other night and the character Rachel Berry was talking to her biological mother, who she’d just met. The mom, Shelby, asked her how she got her name Rachel.

And she said, “My dads were big fans of ‘Friends.” And then it hit me that a high school senior was now old enough to have been born during “Friends,” which started when I was in college.

Wow. It’s the little moments that stop you in your tracks.

The lost speeches of Palin, and why I think Americans are fat

00palinspeaking

So you may be happy or sad about this, but blogging may be a little light the rest of the week. Family is in town from New York and I’m showing them all the excitement that Central Florida has to offer. Today, the Kennedy Space Center. Truly a cool place that I think the ‘rents will enjoy.

So one of the beauties of the Internet age is that nothing, nothing is ever really lost. Someone, somewhere, always has a Xerox or an email or something proving a document existed.

And so my friends (John McCain tone intended), thanks to The Daily Beast, I give you links to the two speeches the great former governor of Alaska never got to give. If you remember back then, on Election Night, Mrs. Palin desperately wanted to give a nationally televised concession speech after John McCain’s eloquent words, but the McCain campaign wouldn’t let her.

That’s too bad. I would’ve loved to heard these beauties. Enjoy.

milkduds

**OK, I know this isn’t exactly breaking news, but here’s one small reason Americans are so overweight. There is candy everywhere, in every store now. I was standing in line at Bed Bath & Beyond Tuesday and there, in front of the register, were a dozen candy options. Chocolate, gummy bears, you name it. And I’m thinking: We’re in a linens and housewares store, why in the name of Willy Wonka is candy for sale?

Happens everywhere. At Staples, at Office Depot, no matter where you go, there’s candy for sale. Are we that pathetic of a nation, so dependent on instant gratification, that junk food as to be available to us, at all times?

I guess so.

**Finally, the Denver Post did something last week that I’m amazed more papers haven’t done: They forbid their sports writers from picking winners of games of teams they cover. I always thought it was kind of silly that we sports writers picked who we thought was going to win. Does it compromise our integrity, as Post editor Greg Moore said? I don’t know.  But he’s right: Do political reporters pick election results? No.

I know it may seem like no big deal, but Moore is absolutely right. Most sportswriter I know hate picking games, because no matter what you do, the team you cover, or its fans, will be mad at you.

And believe me, if there’s one thing sportswriters don’t need, it’s more people mad at us.

The day the world changed. And tennis violence between octogenarians

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It was November 4, 2008, and I knew the world was changing.

At least I hoped so. It’s so easy in this day and age to be cynical. It’s so easy, in our instant culture of “what’s important today is not important five minutes from now”, to forget when transformative moments happen.

So even though I’ve been a little bit disappointed in the presidency of Barack Obama so far, I think it’s important to take a minute and remember the feeling some of us felt that night.

It had been such a long campaign. I followed it more closely than I had followed anything in my life. Every day felt like another skirmish. What did Hillary say in Indiana? Can you believe the crap the McCain campaign was saying now? It was like a long, tough struggle where you were never really sure if your side was going to win.

I was a John Edwards supporter when the long slog of the ’08 campaign began. I’d been an Edwards volunteer in ’04, and was a huge fan of his. I’m still not really able to come to terms with what we found out about him last summer, so that’s all I’ll say about Edwards.

After Edwards dropped out, I knew Obama was my candidate. He had impressed me throughout the early parts of the campaign, but it was his Iowa victory speech, one of the most inspirational speeches I’ve ever seen, that officially won me over.

And so, the campaign that never ended went on and on, until November 4. I saw some things that night that fortunately I’ll never be able to “un-see.”

I saw an older black woman named Rose who I’d come to befriend, watching the election be called at 11 p.m. and crying her eyes out. She marched in Alabama and Mississippi as a kid, and now … this. I saw white people cry, too, and women and children and old people and everyone from across the spectrum, who never thought they’d live to see the day when hope beat fear, and an African-American was elected leader of the free world. I remember staying up even later than usual that night, not wanting to go to bed.

Not wanting the night to ever end.

I get chills still thinking about it, and got some more watching HBO’s new movie about Obama, “By The People.”

I know Obama hasn’t delivered on all his promises yet, but I’m still hopeful he will.

After the night of Nov. 4, I’ll have hope for a long, long time.

(The video above is a cool thing put together after the election by the great people at DailyKos.com. Kind of a permanent keepsake of that night.)

oldtennisguysfighting

**OK, and now for something completely different.  I love this story. Apparently two 80-something tennis players in Arizona were fighting at the tennis complex of the retirement club they live in, and the cops had to be called. And the cop had to use force to restrain one of them!

And I thought the biggest fights among 80-somethings was whose kids visited less, and which brand of prunes is most enjoyable.