IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

June Swoon (Dating Back To New Year’s)

It’s July 1st. Thus endest the worst month the stock market has experienced since 1970. That’s 52 years. And the past six months have been horrible. It’s funny (and scary) how the market seemed to peak right at New Year’s before beginning its inexorable decline. But things still seemed sane until late March. Oh, a dip here and there, but nothing too crazy. Then April happened. And May. And, finally, with a shudder, June. A look at a few major companies’ declines over the year’s first half:

Company January 1st June 1st July 1st

AAPL $183 $151 $136

TSLA $1,118 $775 $673

DIS $158 $110 $95

And on and on and on. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China’s shutdown. Inflation (or, if you’re cool, “stagflation”), primarily due to the invasion of Ukraine. Folks, it cannot get much worse. If you were caught blindsided, well, my condolences. No advice here, other than to say the good news is that there are plenty of jobs available. Almost any place I visit lately I hear that they are “under-staffed” and just last night a 22-year employee of Basha’s told me “nobody wants to work any more.” That’s only half-right. The correct statement is “Nobody wants to work at that salary.” Oh, an undocumented/illegal immigrant might, but that’s about it.

What goes up must come down. And, almost always (thanks, Lehman Brothers), what comes down and eventually goes back up. Stay the course. Courage. Or, as William Wallace once exhorted his men, “Hoooooold!”

Flight On!

Effective in 2024, UCLA and USC will be leaving the Pac-12, America’s glamour conference, for the Big Ten. Why? Because FOOTBALL IS KING and the schools’ leadership did not want to be left behind by what they see transpiring with the SEC and Big Ten TV contracts. So now you’ll see UCLA’s baseball and swim teams venturing to Madison or College Park for games/meets simply to sate KING FOOTBALL? I guess so.

It’s sad and wrong and what’s no better is the muted response from national college football media. Hey, will this affect my boondoggle trip to Scottsdale in May for Pac-12 meetings? No? Okay. From the little I’ve seen written thus far, the overall reaction is a sanguine tone. Oh, this is happening, it’s inevitable, just role with it. Thanks, Maggie Haberman.

But we digress. College football is healthiest as a regional and parochial sport. That’s part of its fabric, its culture, its identity. But the suits at ESPN and Fox simply do not care. They believe that they can make any alteration they please and the FOOTBALL IS KING is so robust that it can survive it. It reminds me of when U2 released Pop and Bono and the gang had a rude awakening. So shattered were they by the reaction that they came out the next time with arguably their best album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind. The boys from Dublin got back, got back, got back to where they once belonged. College football will experience that day of reckoning soon. Even if national college football writers are, to this moment, slow to decry the apostasy of the game’s guardians.

Maybe when they stage the UCLA-USC game at Met-Life Stadium in 2026 people will finally realize…

It’s The Hard That Makes It Great

Happy 30th birthday to A League Of Their Own, which was released on July 1st, 1992. At the time Madonna was arguably the world’s biggest pop phenomenon (when MTV and such titles still mattered) and this film was seen as another effort (see: Dick Tracy) to turn her into a bonafide movie star. Instead, it proved that A) Madonna would not be but that B) Tom Hanks would be. You’ve got to remember, in 1992, Tom Hanks was not yet Tom Hanks. Sure, he’d had major hits such as Splash and Big, but he was also two years removed from A Bonfire of the Vanities (a career-killer of a film for almost everyone involved) and had yet to bounce back. His future was still unwritten.

The film was promoted as a Madonna vehicle, or as Madonna-and-Rosie O’Donnell are the new Crosby and Hope, Martin and Lewis. Fortunately, director Penny Marshall understood that she had a dynamite script and a couple of true pros in Hanks and Geena Davis. All credit to Lowell Ganz, whose screenplay crackles. From the lines you remember—”There’s no crying in baseball” and “It’s the hard that makes it great”— to the ones you maybe forgot (“Ever been married?” “Twice.” “Any children?” “One of them was.”).

Even better, the film eschews the Hollywood ending. I didn’t enter the theater that day expecting to like this film. Instead, I loved it. And came away with a whole new appreciation for Hanks, who—watch it again— performs as if his entire future depends on it. Which it does. He really is Jimmy Dugan, which is perhaps why he embraced the character so fully. Up next? In quick succession, Forrest Gump, Philadelphia (vomit, but okay), and Saving Private Ryan. I don’t know if all of those triumphs happen without this movie… the one he truly deserved a Best Actor for.

*****

postscript: We’re going on a little trip, and will be radio silent for at least a week. It’s really not the best time for us to be traveling, with no job and a massive gut punch to the savings, but as Professor Keating once advised his students, Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. And so it’s rosebud-gathering season. We’ll be back. We think. Happy 4th. And before we go, please carry this wisdom from George Carlin with you….

NOTHING’S WHERE YOU THINK IT IS

by John Walters

Of all the terrible 6-3 calls the Supreme Court has made in the past fortnight, two that should stand out as the worst are 1) the reversal of Roe v. Wade and 2) today’s decision that the EPA cannot regulate carbon dioxide emissions. And those two decisions should reveal to anyone who cares to keep score what Mitch McConnell’s race-baiting and all the “Take Back America” rallies and “They’re not sending their best people” rallies have always been about: the white money that runs this country was always about putting FEAR into white voters’ hearts about the Dems taking away white supremacy and GOD (read: Christian values) in order to elect Trump in order to gain control of the Supreme Court (three justices added during his term) in order to make decisions that will maintain the power structure of white males (the abortion ruling) and the oil companies (today’s).

Look at this list of the Top 10 market cap companies from 1980. What you’ll notice, and quickly, is that SIX of them are oil companies and two others are traditional fossil-fuel burning automobile manufacturers. These are the corporate monoliths that ruled the world when the septuagenarians and octogenarians who are now keeping their old, decrepit hands on the wheel of Congress and the Supreme Court were coming up in the world. These are the corporations to whom McConnell and company are beholden. And if you don’ believe this line of reasoning, just listen to Ned Beatty’s famous diatribe from 1976’s Network:

Alas, it is all true. Mitch and his cronies have never cared about the rights of the unborn (or of the past-born), much less Christian values (get a load of Donald Trump’s lifestyle, from Epstein parties on down). They only care about power. And they married Big Oil long ago. And the traditional White Male Power Structure. So you fast forward to a relatively recent period (not sure of the exact date), and you’ll see that SEVEN of the 10 largest companies are TECHNOLOGY companies, two are health, and one is basically a giant holding company. ZERO oil companies. And Mitch & Co. already have one mistress. He’s got no interest in courting tech companies run by brown people from Asia or woke progressives in hoodies. So they took their fight to Supreme Court nominations and ratifications, playing dirty in the last days of both Obama and Trump (using directly conflicting logic to validate their actions on each occasion; if A is true, B must be false, but Mitch & the boys just said, “F**k it. Try and stop us.”)

And so while insolent or ignorant Americans drone on about gun rights or Christian values or “they won’t replace us,” Mitch and his cronies chuckle. They’ve secured the six Supreme Court justices, who are either bought and paid for (Kavanaugh) or so backward (Barrett) or both (Thomas) that they can run/ruin this country from beyond the Oval Office. That’s all they ever cared about. They just used those shadow issues to manipulate voters into giving them the seats they needed in Congress (and the White House, for four years) to have their way. They basically slipped a date-rape drug into the conservative Christian American psyche.

Yesterday Clarence “Uncle” Thomas provided a sound byte about “north is north,” that right is right and it’s inalienable. But he wasn’t talking about legal matters. He was talking about values. Which, last we checked the Constitution, is not the Supreme Court’s bailiwick. Never was supposed to be. And here’s the funny thing. North is not necessarily north. It’s completely arbitrary. There’s no outside frame of reference that dictates that the northern hemisphere (where most of the white people are from) should be at the top of the map and the southern (mostly brown people or white colonists from England, Spain, Portugal, Holland) should be at the bottom.

Take four minutes if you have not already seen this clip from The West Wing and change your life/have your mind blown. Chances are that if you are a Democrat—or a centrist/exhausted majority member like me—you’ll be amazed or you’ve already seen it. Chances are that if you’re a conservative you won’t last the full four minutes or you’ll find some way to rebuff it because the last thing most conservatives ever want to do is have the truth alter their politics.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Jersey Girl

How does a 24 year-old woman from Pennington, N.J., who graduated from Christopher Newport U. come to hold the fate of democracy in her hands? That’s a good question. Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Mark Meadows, took the stand for two hours yesterday and delivered the most damning testimony related to TFG and January 6 yet. We don’t know how she came to be this close to the power mongers circled around MOGUL, but we can guess why she agreed to testify: she’s young. Her values have yet to be corrupted by power and money and needing to pay off that mortgage and the tuition at Cornell and the private prep school and the second home on the Eastern shore. She’s probably just renting in Dupont Circle and hoping to make this month’s car payment on the Camry. Lack of materialism is a serious threat to a corrupt administration.

Perhaps, and we know this sounds sexist but it also may be true, Hutchinson veered so close to the nucleus of world power due to, well, look at the photo. If you attended college in the northeast or Midwest, you know that look. It’s the lass who looked just okay before spring break but after a week in Fort Lauderdale or South Padre Island soaking up rays, returns as a valkyrie. Mark Meadows, you filthy dog.

Serena Swan Song?

Turns out Serena Williams’ visit to London this summer was only a layover. The (second-) most decorated player in the history of women’s tennis fell in the first round to Harmony Tan (my nickname for Cassidy Hutchinson, by the way) in a third-set tiebreaker. Williams, 40, is now five years removed from her most recent grand slam win (the Aussie Open) and remains stuck at 23. Margaret Court retired with 24, but it was definitely a different era.

Sauces Close To The President*

*We stole that from Twitter

Among the more damning testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson yesterday…. Donald Trump insisted he be driven to the Capitol after his saber-rattling speech (“I’m the f***ing president!”) and then lunged at both the wheel and his driver. Earlier, when he was told by his attorney general, William Barr, that there was no widespread voter fraud, he tossed his plate of food at the wall, smearing it with ketchup. Also, that he told the SS not to have metal detectors at his rally, since obviously the people coming to watch were not there “to hurt me.”

Listen, Joe Biden: Lock. Him. Up. Like, now. So you’ll rouse a hornet’s nest of angry Republicans and MAGA dolts. So what? They hate you anyway. They’re going to hate you no matter what you do. So at least ou can do the right thing. And you might say, Yes, but no one has ever arrested a president before. That’s because no president has ever committed treason before. Please, Joe, Dems: take a long look at the Lincoln Memorial, or even just stare at the front of a $5 bill. That dude knew how to take a bold step. And not for nothing he’s widely acknowledged as our greatest president. You have far more than enough justification to lock up Trump and Meadows and Stone and Bannon and Flynn.

Do it already. Before it’s too late. If Brittney Griner can be detained with so little justifiable cause, surely these dudes can.

NATO About To Become Much Hotter

Talk about climate change. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has extended invitations to both Sweden and Finland to join, ensuring that temperatures will rise during NATO conferences. Yowza! In case you were wondering, Norway is already part of NATO. Really, all that needs to happen is to invite Venezuela and Brazil to join. And perhaps Australia. Then it’ll be a… Model U.N.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Long Twain Running

Jon Stewart recently received the Mark Twain Award for Humor. Not sure how recently, only that it was some time after the Oscars. There’s a few good clips that popped on the Second-PersonTube that I wanted to share with you. The first is from Stewart himself, who opens with kind words about his family but then brings down the axe in the last few minutes. Stick around ’til the end or just fast forward directly to the halfway point.

Then there’s Stephen Colbert, who in my opinion had the funniest of all the encomiums (encomia?).

And finally, here’s Dave Chappelle, being utterly Chappellian. One interesting note: Olivia Munn, who briefly worked on The Daily Show, spoke and she was funny. Her baby daddy, John Mulaney, did not.

Snell Game

For us, one of the more shocking sports moments of the past five years was when Rays manager Kevin Cash, his team having ALL of the momentum in the World Series, decided to pull Blake Snell with one out in the sixth inning of Game 6. Let’s look at the numbers: the Rays had pulled off an unlikely rally to win Game 5, staving off elimination and a Dodgers championship. Now, in Game 6, the Rays led 1-0 and Snell, who had struck out nine, was working on a two-hitter. He’d already struck out the Dodgers’ top three batters twice, and the top of the lineup was coming back up. He’d just allowed a one-out single, but he’d only thrown 73 pitches.

Cash pulled him. Analytics > Instincts. The next batter, Mookie Betts, doubled and the Dodgers would score two runs that inning en route to a 3-1 win.

This morning, for no particular reason, we decided to check up on Blake Snell. Now with the San Diego Padres (he never threw another pitch for Tampa Bay), Snell is 0-5 with a 5.60 ERA. This is a former Cy Young Award winner who went 21-5 in 2018. Can you say enigmatic? At least one smart publication decided to explore this bizarre funk in depth.

Jimmy, Jack & Lorne

It’s anecdotes such as this one that have long given reason for Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee to exist. We love that Fallon was smart enough to appreciate the moment and we also love that Seinfeld specifically calls out the “melancholy.” ‘s wonderful.

Losing? Your Religion

Came across this tweet over the weekend (there’s a whole thread here… go find it if interested) and found it enlightening. But also affirming what we’ve been thinking for quite some time. We thought of John Lennon’s lyrics, “Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion, too.” Of course, being such a proponent of peace and pacifism, it was only fitting that Lennon met a violent death at the hands of his own fame. His price for giving the world so much joy was to be murdered. I wonder if you can think of anyone else in history who suffered a similar fate.

But this was not meant to be a John Lennon item. We digress. As America veers dangerously closer to a theocracy (kneeling on a football field in protest is bad but to do so in prayer is now federally protected), we notice how many good souls in our lives are either agnostic or atheistic and how so many Trumpian souls are overly fixated on religion or “the Bible.” While not really appreciating what the Bible is, in a historical context. I shared that video from the female news anchor last week, and now this thread. This coming from someone with 16 years of Catholic schooling.

The right’s implacable stance on all things, justified by “the Bible,” would be hilarious if so many of their hopes and wishes were not now being vetted by the Supreme Court. These people do not understand Jesus, nor do they want to. Jesus was a long-haired, homeless and unemployed hippie whom these Christians would surely not want to see within a mile of their multi-million dollar cathedrals. And Jesus was the ULTIMATE in accepting any man or woman for whom they were, and how they treated their fellow man. Does not sound like most Christians I know today.

I had this thought, too, over the weekend. I’m imagining an economics professor at my alma mater, a priest hopefully, explaining to his (it would be a he, for sure) students that cryptocurrency is a sham, that it’s all built upon the self-perpetuating faith of its denizens that crypto is real, but that there’s no real substance behind it. And that the only reason cryptocurrency exists is because those who’ve already profited from it or who hope to profit more are able to pull in true believers from the wilderness. And then I’m imagining this econ professor staring out the window of a golden dome as he says this, looking upon a statue up top dedicated to the only known virgin in history to have given birth.

Full Mental Jacket

We love this story from Vince D’Onofrio, telling Rich Eisen how he landed the part of Private Gomer Pyle in Full Metal Jacket. Also, here’s the Lon Chaney scene he’s talking about. Notice, by the way, what an excellent talk show guest that D’Onofrio is. He knows he’s on to tell stories, and he’s brought a full bag with him.

SEND LIARS, GUNS AND MOMMIES

by John Walters

Quite the week for the Supreme Court of the United States. In no particular order—chronologically or logically—the majority of SCOTUS struck down separation of church and state, a century-old law on handgun regulation, and the right of women to have an abortion. Next week they’ll be coming for gypsies, retards and Jews.

Remember seeing those two planes fly into the World Trade Center (okay, you only saw one in real time) and witnessing that fantastic explosion and being gobsmacked by the surrealism of it all… but not yet quite being able to appreciate the phenomenal loss of life and grief and ruined lives of so many others connected to those 3,000 or so victims? Well, this week Clarence Thomas and the Robe vs. Wade crowd crashed the plane into the Constitution. The collateral damage, the loss of life and freedom to individuals you know or will know about, is on its way.

Oh, and “Liars” is in the title above because the last three justices confirmed, all in the past five years, said during their nomination hearings that they considered Roe v. Wade “settled law.” We all knew that they were lying… this week they took the opportunity to prove us correct.

I live in a dumb state. Let’s get that out of the way first. I constantly hear people in Arizona say we have to save OUR country and I’m always bemused by that. Who is “OUR?” I know, we all know to whom OUR refers. The people with whom these Arizonans (and perhaps conservatives in your area, too) disagree are also American. It’s also their country. It’s sad that I even have to say that. When you buy into a democracy, you buy into the notion that you don’t always get your way. The majority does. But that’s not what the “OUR country” crowd subscribes to: they’re more of a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose gang.

The America your great grandparents grew up in did not allow women to vote. The America their grandparents grew up in did not allow blacks freedom. Did these people contend with their own grandparents lamenting that they needed to save OUR country? To not emancipate blacks? To not give women suffrage?

But suddenly OUR country is under attack. And so modern-day Republicans are doing the ol’ “We had to kill the patient in order to save him” trick. Democracy and free elections? Not if we have to surrender OUR country. Legal precedent being upheld? Not if we lose OUR country.

In my years, I’ve come to see (firsthand, from family and friends) the fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. The former are like, I don’t like that, I’m not gonna do it. And the latter are like, I don’t like that, YOU’RE not gonna do it.*

*The caveat being that if a Republican likes something and a Dem even bothers to object to it, the R screams out about his rights being infringed upon or being canceled.

Earlier this week, in a text chain with high school buddies, split across the political spectrum, perhaps my wealthiest friend (a corporate consultant), talked about the coming reality of Universal Basic Income (in other words, CEOs would rather help pay out welfare than continue giving jobs to humans at the expense of a higher stock price). So I replied, “People need a purpose. Not handouts. If you want to destroy the world, take away people’s (men’s) reasons for getting up in the morning.”

And with that one of my conservative buddies typed, in ALL CAPS, “DO WE HAVE A CLOSET REPUBLICAN IN OUR MIDST?”

Short answer: No, because I’ve never believed in using corruption as a means to an end. I did ask my conservative friend why so many of his conservative farming brethren are happy to accept a huge check from Uncle Sam to NOT work their land. But, hey, white landowners could never possibly be welfare queens, now could they?

Returning to this week’s decisions, let’s make it simple: the majority of SCOTUS is not interested in babies or liberty or religious freedom (Christianity, yes, but not religious freedom per se). All of these rulings are designed to keep women subservient, to prevent the upward mobility of poorer people, to come closer to establishing a theocracy and also an autocracy. And all of these rules will ratchet up crime (read Freakonomics and see what the authors discovered about what happens 18 years after a country takes away abortion right), which will help pols put more police on the streets and boost more fear in communities, keeping uneducated folks scared and allowing those in power to keep the masses under their thumb. Or in jail.

Notice how often you’ve heard the term “defund the police” since George Floyd was murdered. How many times, if ever, have you heard those same people decry “defund education?” Probably never. Because the last thing they want is to fund public education. If you’re a Republican, you’re either A) wealthy enough to send your children to a private school and you do or B) too ignorant to realize how much you’re being manipulated.

I should state, for the record, that I love this country (you can say that without having to add that it’s “the greatest country on Earth” because anyone who says this has usually been to fewer than five countries…it’s the same idiocy that leads people to call LeBron “the GOAT” who can’t even tell you who Kareem or Wilt were). But there’s a difference between loving something (maturity) and being impervious to any critiques to it (cultism). Go read Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower or The Last Stand (about, respectively, the first two generations of settlers and George Custer) and you’ll learn that so much of what you devoured in elementary school was pure myth. The very term “Custer’s Last Stand” is a lie since he and his men had been chasing the Sioux (on the Sioux’s federally appointed land) for months and then when they finally caught up to them, the Sioux kicked their asses (Custer was killed, his penis was chopped off and they stuffed it in his mouth… you probably never read that in 8th grade history… or the fact that the U.S. govt got the news right about now in 1876 but they held off informing the public for a week or so until after the country’s centennial celebration had ended).

Which is why the GOP is so against education. America, like every family I know, has a checkered past and present. Very few things in this world that have human interference are pure good or pure evil (even the Patriots had Gronk to offset the maleficence).

Lastly, let’s not finish this polemic without blaming another uniquely American phenomenon that I’m partly accountable for: the madness of the masses when it comes to big-time sports. Major sports have now easily bypassed religion as the opium of the masses. Those in charge understand and appreciate the palliative effect sports has on keeping the middle to lower classes distracted. Pre-occupied. Under control. And the funny part is that the majority of big-time athletes are the very minorities whose communities (at least those in which many of them were raised) are being destroyed. It would be beyond wonderful if every black or Hispanic big-time athlete simply walked out of sports until America got its act together. They could bring down the Mitch McConnells and Clarence Thomases of the world in a month or two, especially if NFL players took this stand. That, understandably, is a lot to ask of individuals.

Meanwhile, five men and one handmaid in black robes just made a decision that will adversely affect more than half the citizens of the United States, a group numbering more than 167 million. The very definition of tyranny of the minority. So I’ve come to adopt, in this political climate, Walters’ Postulate: The quality of life in these United States is inversely proportional to the number of times you hear reasonable people invoke “Portugal” as a potential landing spot.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

That may or may not be coach McCollow in the background, but either way the waist-size is about right

Edina-sty In The Making

Last week Edina (Minn.) High School won the boys state golf championship in the Land of 10,000 Water Hazards. This is fabulous news because the Hornets are coached by our favorite coach in any sport at any level, Mike McCollow (better known as Katie’s Husband). The Hornets led by three strokes after the first day (each school sends six golfers out, and the four best scores are kept), but then won going away, by 14 strokes, though their state co-medalist (i.e. individual champ), Jack Wetzel, played his final three holes in a driving rainstorm. It’s Minnesota. These are hearty people.

It’s a feel-good story, as Mike took a bunch of hard-scrabble kids from the wrong side of the arboretum and molded them into a cohesive unit of strokers (and we all know how difficult it can be to get high school boys to stroke units cohesively). Kind of Stand And Deliver meets Tin Cup. Among others, Mike received congratulatory calls from Bill Self (one of his closest friends, whose own championship this year was also kinda cool) and Steve Rushin (who once hit a tee shot into an adjacent lumber yard and proclaimed, “Two…. by fore!”). On to the next one.

You Can Call Me Ray

In the Mekong Delta of Cambodia, behold the largest freshwater fish ever caught on record. This stingray measures nearly 13 feet long and weighs almost 600 pounds. We’re happy to report it was tagged and released in order to some day terrify Charlie as he’s doing 20 clicks en route to the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Go, Go Joseph

We have yet to see Top Gun: Maverick, and we doubt that we will in the near future. It’s not that we don’t love Tom Cruise (we do, though we prefer him as Jerry Maguire of Joel Goodson or Stefan Djordjevic or even Jack Reacher), it’s just that—and correct us if we’re wrong—there’s something so MAGA about getting your rocks off cheering for America military prowess knowing that there is an actual battle out there that needs fighting and the U.S. is not lifting a trigger finger (besides sending $$$) to help.

We sent troops to Korea. To Vietnam. To Iraq. To Afghanistan. And to countless trouble spots in Africa and at a small liberal arts college in Ohio. So why not send troops to Ukraine? Now, the classic I-haven’t-thought-about-it-much-but-Tucker-Carlson-says-it-so-it-must-be-true response is, “You don’t wanna start Word War III.” Well, here’s a newsflash: Vladimir Putin already did so, a day or two after the Winter Olympics ended.

Taking Ukraine, for Russia, is not just about occupying the land. It has numerous collateral advantages, such as driving up fuel prices world wide, which puts the current White House administration in a bad position, as higher fuel prices jack up the price of everything else (hello, INFLATION!). It also creates a massive food shortage and famine in other parts of the world (Ukraine is Europe’s breadbasket), which helps to destabilize other democratically-elected governments. Do you really believe that Putin and Steve Bannon and Mitch McConnell did not take all of this into consideration before Russian troops began shelling Kyiv last February? Certainly they did.

One major criticism of Democrats—and it is most always valid—as that they are frustratingly milquetoast. It may soon be too late for them to have a say in the matter. So what are we espousing? The U.S. (and perhaps other NATO countries) should stop worrying about potential ramifications and do the right thing, not just by President Zelensky and his people, but by the U.S.A. We SHOULD send troops into Ukraine and also provide air cover in Ukraine. The same Republicans who were in favor of Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan will, shockingly, be against this. Even though the principle is the same. Maybe because for once we would not be fighting brown people. Or because it wasn’t their idea. Or, most likely, because anything that behooves Putin and Russia also behooves them.

But we have the moral authority to assist Ukraine. And as good a job as Ukraine has done for three-plus months, they may not be able to sustain it. And then where will the rest of the world be? But Ukraine’s relative success at frustrating the supposedly far superior Russian military underlines that Putin’s troops are poorly trained and also know their invasion is unjust. We could be heroes. While also showing the big bully on the Eastern bloc that he’s really not all that much.

Would Russia really launch a nuke, anywhere? Not unless Putin is suicidal. Might he be at some point? I don’t know, but to us the risk of not acting here has far graver consequences. Meanwhile, gas prices remain high, Fox News continuously blames it on the administration knowing that’s not the real reason but also knowing too many Americans at this stage don’t bother to do the math themselves. The Dems, and Biden, instead of sitting back and hoping that America begins subscribing to The Atlantic and Washington Post, should do something every red-meated American can understand: punch back at a bully.

Maybe then I’ll go see Top Gun: Maverick.

The Power Of The Dogs

The photo alone should win a Pulitzer Prize. It’s from a story in The New York Times about three bitches who traveled 1,300 miles across Africa to forge a new beginning for themselves. I imagine they’ll be launching a podcast soon.

Pan-Dementia


What if First Take, or Meet The Press, or Crossfire, were reimagined at a Renaissance Fair? Here it is, America: pan-slapping.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Four For Four

Kerr, Curry, Klay and Dray. Four men who’ve stuck together for about a decade now and earned four NBA championships for the Golden State Warriors. They do it with teamwork, with joy, with humility and with selflessness. Let the clown-show talk shows spend all winter and spring discussing Kyrie and LeBron and Harden and KD and Luka, but when June comes around, it’s these four. Their names stay out of the mouths of the First Takers all season until June, when they must be mentioned.

Holy Cannoli!

Four NBA titles in eight years. In two other years, they held 3-1 and 3-2 leads in the NBA Finals and were it not for injuries (and a one-game suspension to Green), should have won both of those. In the other two years, they were without Klay entirely for both and without Steph all but entirely for the other.

Let’s face it: When Klay tore his ACL in Game 7 of the 2019 NBA Finals, you’d be forgiven for thinking the dynasty was over. Especially with Kevin Durant headed out the door. Instead, Klay rehabbed for TWO years (an Achilles tear on top of that), Steph and Draymond showed no drop-off, and the Dubs added key young players such as Andrew Wiggins (this series MVP runner-up), Jordan Poole and Kevon Looney.

As for the eternally humble Steve Kerr, it’s his ninth NBA championship as either a player or coach who played with all-timers (Jordan, Duncan) and now coaches one (Steph). “I’m just a guy who hangs around superstars,” he said last night.

Boston led 14-2 early last night and Marcus Smart had just flop/induced fouls on both Curry and Thompson on the same Celtic possession. For Thompson, it was his second. But the camera showed him lookin toward the Dubs bench, either toward coach Steve Kerr or self-actualization guru Tony Robbins, and motioning, “We got this. Don’t worry.” Not long after that, the Dubs went on a 27-0 run, the longest such Finals scoring streak in 50 years, and the lights effectively went out for the Celtics. They never came closer than nine points the rest of the night.

Super Teams? All three of Golden State’s future Hall of Famers were drafted by the Dubs. None were chosen first overall. Curry was taken 7th in 2009, Klay 11th in 2011, and Draymond 35th in 2012. All by the Dubs. All in the midst of the Super Team Era. Sometimes the good guys, doing it the right way, do win. Which leads us to the next item.

Fifty Sense

It was 50 years ago today, just after midnight, when the call came in to the D.C. police that there was a break-in in progress at the Watergate office plaza. Narcotics cops, who were nearest, took the call and found five intruders inside the Democratic National Headquarters. If you’ve seen All The President’s Men, then you know that 1) their cross-the-street spies were confused by the arrival of plainclothes dudes and did not make them as cops immediately and that 2) the crooks were sloppy, leaving an outside door lock taped down (for easy exit), which alerted the security guard that something amiss (the actual security guard, the first person to appear in the film, played himself).

So here we are fifty years later. What was once “follow the money” is now “follow the obvious.” Follow the video, follow Donald Trump’s own words, follow every word of incriminating testimony that is overwhelming these January 6th hearings with all of the co-conspirators unquestionable guilt. Fifty years ago Watergate happened and 14 months later President Richard Nixon (GOP) was forced to resign after conscientious elder statesman senator from Arizona, Barry Goldwater, advised him that it was the right thing to do. That if he didn’t, they’d impeach him. Fifty years later, the Republicans have no such ethical bellwether (outside of Liz Cheney, whom they mock). The entrenched GOP power whores, Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Kevin McCarthy, etc., are just sitting there and saying, in essence, “Yeah, so what?”

As a nation, we’ve back-slid. It’s the thief running out of the Best Buy with a TV under his arm looking at the store clerk with brazen contempt, saying, “If you tackle me, YOU’LL get fired and they’ll probably apologize to me to avoid the lawsuit.”

Justice is upside down. The only hope for this country, and I don’t think I’m being too dramatic here because far more influential folks than the writer of an inconsequential blog are saying so, too, is to indict every one of these clowns, from Donald all down, and take them to trial. In later years Richard Nixon would infamously, shockingly tell David Frost, “It’s not a crime if the president does it.” Those words forever tarnished an already complicated legacy. If we really believe that no person, not even the president, is above the law, well here’s your obvious litmus test. Otherwise, it’s all over.

In the year 2022 the Republican Party is a terrorist organization. Listen to the conservative judge above. This man was Ted Cruz’s mentor. And he is saying this. Listen to him.

Maybe We’re Amazed

Bruce joins Sir Paul in NJ last night

Sir Paul McCartney turns 80 years old tomorrow—and he just ended his American tour last night in East Rutherford, N.J. Five years ago, a few miles south in Newark, we saw him live for the first time. Even at 75, he was spry, energized and incredibly humbled by the throng of humanity enveloping him in love. He played a loooooooooong set or two of songs from both the Beatles and Wings, and like our guy Springsteen, left us not wanting more but rather thinking, Maybe you should take a knee; you’ve more than redeemed the price of this ticket. Easily a top 5 concert in this person’s list.

I thought about this last night: the Beatles would never have come close to being the Beatles without Paul. Besides his obvious songwriting talent and those Liverpudlian vocals that often provided the right fitting somber tone to a classic (“Yesterday,” “She’s Leaving Home”, “Hey Jude”, “Let It Be” as starters), it was Paul’s ineffable charm and sweetness that launchd Beatlemania. Ringo was goofy, George was dark and brooding, John was brilliant but caustic. Paul was… relatable. Cheerful. Amiable. Happy. Ringo grinned. George frowned. John smirked. But Paul smiled.

nd he still does. We love him (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!). All together now: Happy Birthday!

If you’ve never seen this Ultimate McCartney moment, do yourself a favor…

Uncle Milty Schools a Che Guevera Doppelgänger


An oldie but a goodie from Milton Friedman, who is right here. Liberty >>>> Equality.

The government owes you roads that work. Cops that do their jobs with competence and without favor. Judges who are incorruptible. The government does not owe you a house. Or food. Or even health care. There, I said it.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Deja Vu Doo

Rule No. 7. Which, as you longtime readers know, states that “at any given Major League Baseball game there is a chance you may witness something that has never before occurred in a Major League Baseball game.”

It happened last night in Texas, and then some. Not only did the Houston Astros become the first team ever to perform two immaculate innings–an immaculate inning is nine pitches, all strikes, three outs— in the same game, but the two Astro pitchers, Luis Garcia and Phil Maton, faced the identical three Texas Rangers batters in so doing. Those men whose names are infamously and inextricably linked to baseball lore are Nathaniel Lowe, Ezequiel Duran and Brad Miller. Those are the Rangers’ 6, 7 and 8 hitters.

Houston won 9-2 on manager Dusty Baker’s 73rd birthday.

Pence-ive Response

While his boss was playing the role of Dr. Heckle on the afternoon of January 6, 2021, vice president Mike Pence was clearly Mr. Hide. Here he is in his Senate office, his wife drawing the curtains closed, as the rioters stormed the Capitol. Mike Pence is certainly no hero, but if he had bent to Donald Trump’s will that day he definitely would have had plenty of support from the bearded goons and ghouls who’d likely illegally parked their F-150 trucks on side streets off Dupont Circle and in the Adams Morgan district. We might be in the midst of a civil war right now (I know, I know… ha; we already are). Karen Pence pulling the curtains is the ultimate tell here, and you have to wonder what Pence’s daughter it thinking. Moreover, look closely at Pence’s face, as he seems deep in thought. Reminds me of the look on the face of Sir Alec Guinness in the final scene from Bridge On The River Kwai, as just before death, he utters, “My God. What have I done?”

Madness.

Not exactly breaking news

Jock-Strapped*

*Judges will only accept “The Pathetic” if it is deemed to be apolitical

Six months ago, when everyone’s stock portfolio was bulging, The New York Times purchased The Athletic for $550 million. The company’s bro-code founders, Adam Hansmann and Alex Mather, must have thought they were being punked or they were living inside a Silicon Valley episode. After all, while The Athletic is a quality product, it hadn’t exactly been doing anything since its 2016 launch except losing money. Even Jim Cramer at CNBC quipped that the NYT could have landed the sports subscription website for 1/10th the price.

Today, the bill came due for the company’s journalists as The Athletic laid down a “no politics” rule for staff. In the words of Chief Content Officer Paul Fichtenbaum, who used to occupy an office right across the hall from your scribe at SI, “We could stand up for our rights but we should not say we disagree with somebody’s politics.” Never mind that standing up for your rights will implicitly, often, be a direct refutation of someone else’s politics. If you’re Kyle Rittenhouse, your standing up for your right to carry a weapon into a strange town was a tacit disagreement with BLM. Of course, that type of non-committal statement from Fichtenbaum is exactly the type of banal corporate-speak that allowed him to rise to the station he now occupies.

How would The Athletic now cover Jack Del Rio? The LIV Tour? Herschel Walker’s candidacy? Sports has NEVER been devoid of politics, culture or society. It has ALWAYS been a conduit for people to discuss such matters.

I don’t know if this is a fatal move for The Athletic, but it’s a sad day for independent journalism. Been a lot of those lately. When this purchase happened in January, I smiled. Having been through one or two of these marriages before, what I know is that the one doing the buying is going to be the one calling the shots. The idea of the entity being purchased retaining its independence is hilariously naive. I imagine Jerry Hall was a tad surprised when her husband Rupert Murdoch actually suggested they consummate the marriage. You gotta serve somebody.

Jay Walking

Yesterday Fed Chair Jay Powell announced that he was raising the prime lending rate by 75 basis points, an act that at least 10% of Americans probably actually understand. And by understand I mean that they could explain it to a total stranger and

that stranger would be able to walk away understanding what he or she was talking about. But the idea behind it all is to curb inflation, which will help hold off a recession. And so the stock market spiked higher after Powell’s announcement. And overnight the European markets had sober everyone up and today the stock market is stumbling around with a terrible hangover. It’s almost as if Russia invading Ukraine, China refusing to accept American vaccines, and half the country being baths crazy racist gaslit is a toxic mixture. But what do I know? I’m just an apolitical sportswriter. When I’m working.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Relax, Kevin Costner Is Safe

Massive flooding at America’s first nations park, Yellowstone, sounds like quite a two-part season premiere for its eponymous adult soap opera. But no, this is real. As flash flooding has knocked out roads and even a bridge, parts of the park will remain closed for the foreseeable future (as well as for the unforeseeable future, which goes without saying). But what of the buffalo and bear and elk that inhabit this captivating park? Will they be laid off? Furloughed? Half-pay? They gotta eat, too.

One-Hit Wonder Bummer

St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Miles Mikolas was one out away, actually one strike away, from his first no-hitter. The 6’4″ 33 year-old, who has been in and out of baseball the past 10 seasons (fewer than 70 career decisions despite an 18-4 record in 2018), had a 2-2 count on Pittsburgh’s Cal Mitchell. Busch Stadium, or whatever it’s called these days, was ready to erupt. After all, the Cards have not thrown a no-hitter in 21 seasons.

Mikolas, who sports a classic old-timey baseball face, threw a curve. Mitchell jumped on it, hitting a straight and true shot to dead-center. Cardinal centerfielder Harrison Bader, a Gold Glover, was on his horse. This had the chance to be the perfect ending to a nearly perfect game (an unearned Pirate run scored in the fourth following an error). It would be a Top Plays catch. But the ball sailed a foot or so over Bader’s head and dropped. You could argue that if Bader had simply gone into a dead sprint instead of tracking the ball as much as he did, he might’ve caught it. Yes, maybe Willie Mays or Jim Edmonds or Mike Trout or Andrew Jones makes that catch. But it was a clean hit.

Mikolas was lifted, having tossed 129 pitches. That’s the most in the majors this season.

Stock Shock

We’re not going to discuss the economy, or Jay Powell, or basis points, or stagflation…. because we don’t really understand it. But we will note where some of the gucci stocks of a year ago find themselves this morning, where the stimmy kids went wrong, so to speak.

Peloton (PTON): July 7, 2021……… $129 Today: $9.75

Robin Hood (HOOD): August 8, 2021…..$85 Today: $6.96

RIOT Blockchain (RIOT): Nov 15, 2021……. $46.28 Today: $4.86

Unless you were short, you took it in the shorts. Or, better, avoided these altogether.

Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooallllllllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!

In the rain and mud of San Salvador, the USA and El Salvador met in a CONCACAF matchup. The U.S. trailed early in stoppage time when a perfectly lofted pass to found Jordan Morris’ head, and then found its way into the net. Andres Cantor had the rest. It’s jarring to hear him transition to “Stanford Cardinal,” no?

Liz Means Biz

Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in. Thank God we’ve eliminated corruption from the highest office in the land and are no longer vulnerable to such chicanery.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Wiggin’ Out

The best player on the court for Golden State, for the second NBA Finals contest in a row, was former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins (perhaps the Suns should reconsider that rumored sign-and-trade with DeAndre Ayton). On an evening when the planet’s top shooter, Stephen Curry, went 0-9 from beyond the arc (the first such night since Nov. ’18), Wiggins, now in his 8th season, finished with 26 points and 13 boards. For the second game in a row, both Dubs wins, it was Wiggins who buried the important shots in the decisive moments of the fourth quarter as GSW won, 104-94.

Everyone’s favorite Twitter follow, @rexchapman, noted that 36 years ago Andrew’s dad, Mitchell Wiggins, had a solid Game 5 versus the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals (the Rockets won that game, but the Celtics won those Finals).

Pops. Yes, three of Golden State’s five starters are the sons of NBA players. At some future date, at least 90% of NBA players will be the offspring of NBA players. It’ll be like almost a whole other species.

RIP, Officer Bookman

Philip Baker Hall, renowned character actor, passes away at the age of 90. Yes, he appeared in Boogie Nights and Magnolia and a plethora of other films and TV shows, but his appearance on Seinfeld as the hardscrabble New York Public Library cop will gain him eternal (or as long as YouTube exists) renown. So many great lines that a few get lost (“hippies burning library cards”). Only Col. Flagg’s appearances on M*A*S*H are in the same league, and might it be said that Hall is channeling Col. Flagg here?

Questions, so many: Did Larry David/Jerry Seinfeld write this scene with Hall in mind? Or, with the character Col. Flagg in mind? Was it originally this long or did they see Hall’s potential and expand it? Did Hall just take this scene and run with it– the finger-pointing, for example?– or did they map all of this out for him? How did he keep a straight face?

Lowering The Barr

So, if you’re scoring at home, the former Attorney General, William Barr, testified that his former boss, Donald Trump, was “detached from reality” in terms of his ELECTION FRAUD! imprecations in December of 2020, but instead of informing the country that Trump’s cries were fraudulent, he simply resigned and went on his way. Listen, if you guys wanna burn down the Sequoia National Forest, leave me out of it. I won’t call the fire dept. or the cops, but I don’t wanna be associated with it.

I mean, don’t lawyers get disbarred every week for far less than this? This man was an accomplice to the greatest election fraud in presidential history, and his only response is to walk away as Trump’s tossing the match onto the pile of logs? Wow. And he behaves as if he is somehow the sensible adult.

Meanwhile, where did most of that $250 million the the Trump Election Fraud fund go? Man, he never changes, does he? It’s his birthday today. Thought we’d mention. He should be serving the rest of them in prison. #LockHimUp

Archie Bunker On Gun Control

A few years ago I had the pleasure of sitting down with Rob Reiner for an hour and the first thing I said to him was, “You once were on an iconic sitcom featuring a bigoted blowhard from Queens…”

Reiner smiled. “Yes,” he said, “but at least Archie Bunker had empathy.” Which is true.

Two clips here, from 50 years ago, demonstrating how little progress the USA has made on gun control. Notice in the first clip that the audience guffaws at Archie’s suggestion of arming passengers. Today that’s practically a GOP talking point.

All In The Family was such a smart, hilarious and important show. And it’s every bit as relevant today. Just think about the theme song (“And you knew who you were then/Girls were girls and men were men…”). That’s in 1972. The more things change….

Montrezl With the Fezl in the Wezl

Charlotte Hornets forward Montrezl Harrell, 28, is in some serious trouble. On May 12th in Richmond, Ky., Harrell was pulled over for following a car too closely (that’s a thing?) and then cops found THREE POUNDS of weed (even Britney Griner’s like, “HOW MUCH???”) in vacuum-sealed bags. That’s a felony and in the eyes of the law makes him a dealer. The po po said they smelled the weed, but it was, again, in vacuum-sealed bags, go I dunno on that one.

If convicted for drug trafficking, Harrell could spend up to five years in prison. As he’s right in his NBA prime at the moment. Do they even have chain nets in the yard? Tough to maintain your game in the joint.

The Hornets are/were Harrell’s fifth team in eight NBA seasons. That’s a red flag. Someone knew something long ago.