by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

1. Manny, Happy, Returns

Temple loses head coach Manny Diaz, 44, after 18 days due to the retirement/firing/departure of Mark Richt at Miami. Diaz, a Hurricane alum and the team’s defensive coordinator the past few seasons, makes a U-turn from North Philly to South Beach. Can ya blame him?

(Minutes after we’d learned Richt was gone)

Temple gets the $4 million buyout, its second coaching buyout payment this month. A good way to increase revenue.

2. Damned In Dallas

The two best teams in the nation, Alabama and Clemson, demonstrated why that is so on Saturday. After a 3-3 first-quarter tie, the Tigers exploded for a 20-0 second quarter thanks to three aerial bombs (and three key Irish injuries on defense, principally to cornerback Julian Love as well as safety Alohi Gilman and edge rusher Julian Okwara).

Clemson won 30-3

In Florida, Alabama took a 28-0 lead after one quarter and cruised home to a 45-34 win versus Oklahoma.

Did Notre Dame deserve to be in the playoff? Of course. It finished 12-0 with a more difficult schedule than Clemson itself. But the Tigers, and Alabama, are simply in a different class. And you Georgia fans can zip it. Your playoff was on December 1 and you blew it. Not by much (again), but you did.

3. Steve, Leave!

Former All-American hoopster, national champion and then wunderkind coach Steve Alford is out at UCLA. Early season losses to Belmont and Liberty sealed the erstwhile beloved Hoosier’s fate (apparently Liberty does not offer accident forgiveness on all crashes).

Alford, who took UCLA to the Sweet 16 three times in his five full seasons, is 54 and has now coached at five schools. We covered him back when he took Division III Manchester to the national title game (when I believe they lost to a team coached by Bo Ryan).

4. There She Goes!

Pocahantas is running (kinda) ! Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announces that she is putting together an exploratory committee about running for president a full 22 months before the election.

5. Baby Got Back

A baby born on December 12 in Arlington, Texas, weighs in at 14 pounds, 3 ounces. We assume Jimbo has already offered Ali Medlock.

Music 101

Mixed Emotions

Mick and Keith, but mostly Keith, write this song while on vacay in Barbados. Released in August, 1989, it soars to No. 5 on the charts, the Stones’ last Top 10 hit (to date).

Remote Patrol

RedBox Bowl

Michigan State vs. Oregon

That’s RedBox Bowl, not Birdbox Bowl. You will not see Sandra Bullock no matter how much you squint.


by Chris Corbellini

Week 17 Picks: Chaos Theory at Work

So, Week 17. The week where playoff seeds are set, and for brief stretches right before the 1 pm and then 4 pm games end, the NFL and its fans lose their sh-t entirely. It’s chaos football, and it’s beautiful and baffling to watch.

I’ll explain. We’ll get there. First, know that as this NFL season progressed, while in an oaken classroom that should be a set for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I learned a new phrase: The Attention Economy. Put simply, your eyeballs and tastes are the new currency, and at the moment, every content-provider is fighting for it. Today, these content houses/sports leagues know you can select ANYTHING on a video device, and so, how do they make sure their stuff is at the top of the queue? How do they grab you? That’s the attention economy at work.

On my end, I binge-watch Maisel and Atlanta. I plop down and watch Game of Thrones whenever I can. I’ll toggle channels, accidentally stumble upon and then stay with an NHL playoff game on – any playoff game, because it is white-knuckle spectacle. The NBA has LeBron and my daily fantasy sports obsession, so I check those box scores every night. And I can’t change the channel whenever GOODFELLAS or JAWS is on AMC or HBO. That’s my attention economy, and it’s probably not that much different than most — like Jeff Bebe said in ALMOST FAMOUS: “Most of the time, the best stuff is the popular stuff.”

And still, when the stakes are there, the NFL’s Week 17 trumps everything. No, not just my favorites. Programming, period. That stretch trumps them all. No pun intended. But while we’re here, I’m still waiting for President Orange to scare the hellfire sh-t out of all 32 owners by tweeting how he hates it when wide receivers make one-handed catches – and how if he were an NFL owner he’d make them “catch the ball with BOTH handz, damit”.

I digress. The high stakes of Week 17 also make gambling picks that much more difficult. The Saints have clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, the Cowboys are locked into the No. 4 seed in the NFC, and everything else is up for grabs. And man, is the AFC a sh-tshow to predict right now. Around 7:20 pm or so I have a gut feeling the NFL will have reached apex chaos football, sending the lot of us into hysterics long enough to not notice the back-door covers and broken hearts of NFL players who won’t be getting playoff bonuses.

And yeah, those bonuses are still a thing in an NFL locker room: I had a Spring League alum get a playoff bonus check with the Falcons last year, and to a guy like that at the bottom of the roster, that’s serious coin. I expect a lot of those minimum-salary guys to really hunt this week – which in their case means gunning for big plays on special teams. Look for it. Someone knows he can make $50k (after taxes) in a single play. Maybe another Music City Miracle happens.

As always, home team in caps, with William Hill odds. I also added some percentages to correspond with my picks – they represent the probabilities calculated by The Quant Edge that my picks will actually happen. Full disclosure: I work at TQE as an advisor.

Dolphins at BILLS UNDER 39.5 (71.1%)

With so many AFC teams vying for playoff seeding — eight in all, gunning for six slots — this poop punch bowl game will be banished to the “small TV near the bathroom” in sports bars from Maine to San Diego. The exceptions? Pubs in Buffalo or Miami (and Miami is a hard maybe).

STEELERS (-14.5) beat Bengals (67.8%)

Ooh, that line. Ow. But I’m going to shake it off. The Steelers have all the motivation they need, with two scenarios to advance to the playoffs: 1) Win + hope their best buds the Browns upset the Ravens in the same time slot (4:25 starts) and 2) Win + hope the Colts-Titans Sunday nighter ends in a sister-kissing tie.

The winning at home part won’t be an issue. I see Big Ben just rolling down the field against Cinci, throwing a deep strike or two to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown (if he plays, which should happen), and then hoping Baker Mayfield has some Favre in him at the finish against Baltimore (which won’t happen).


REDSKINS (+7) cover vs. Eagles (66.6%)

The Eagles will win to stay in the hunt, and they would then need the Bears to beat the Vikings to secure the NFC’s No. 6 seed. Again, in the same time 4:25 time slot. Not an impossible dream, and I do like the chemistry Nick Foles has with Alshon Jeffery and Darren Sproles.

Still, some Redskin special teamer is going to keep this close. Philly wins, Washington covers.


Jaguars at TEXANS OVER 40 (64.1%)

Give this to Blake Bortles: He’s an all-time garbage time QB. So, yeah, we’ll get to that over in the fourth quarter, when Blake throws for a meaningless TD – likely because the Texans D is too busy plotting out a Gatorade attack on Bill O’Brien. With a victory Houston will clinch the No. 3 seed (at least), and yeah, I think this Texans team has the potential to go the distance. I saw them up close a few weeks ago, and their ultimate trump card (again!) is DeAndre Hopkins. Too good. Too much. Too young to know they are supposed to be too young to win a Super Bowl.

Last week: 3-1
Overall: 27-34


by John Walters


Starting Five

City Of Blinding Lights*

*The judges will also accept every pun from every song with blue in the title, from “Crystal Blue Persuasion” to “Beneath The Blue Sky” to “Blue Monday Thursday”

Sorry, Mike Pompeo. It was not the Rapture. Instead, something called an “arc flash” at a Con Edison substation in Astoria, Queens, left New Yorkers wondering if the alien invasion had at long last, thankfully, arrived.

When the aliens do arrive, or the Second Coming happens, we’ll be too busy searching for memes/posting on Instagram and Twitter, to even notice.

2. After Antarctic Ambulation, Adulation

At the end of 2018, Oregon native Colin O’Brady gave new meaning to the term “white walker.” With one final, 32-hour/77-mile sleepless push, O’Brady narrowly edged Brit Louis Rudd to become the first human to trek across Antarctica, 921 miles, unaided by wind or any outside device.

O’Brady completed the journey in 54 days, only once stopping for a half day, back in November, to repair a ski. Only two years ago Henry Worsley, an Englishman and Special Forces vet, died after coming within 126 miles of the finish. This is no walk in the park, even though O’Brady somewhat tamed the magnificent continent, the true land down under.

Rudd, as of yesterday, was still out there seeking to replicate O’Brady’s feat. But as Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

3. Baton Near-Death March

Okay, it wasn’t exactly Proud Boys vs. AntiFa, but NYPD Officer Syed Ali versus five homeless men on a subway platform on the Lower East Side certainly drew a large audience on social media (alas, not pay-per-view). It’s nice to see an Ali going toe-to-toe with an opponent in New York City again. “Down goes Frazier!”

Ali, who does not use social media, had no idea that he’d been filmed during this Sunday night altercation. The video has now been seen hundreds of thousands of times.

4. Ticket To Hide*

*The judges will also accept “Whole Lotto Love”

Unclaimed lottery tickets update: Whoever is holding the $1.5 BILLION winning ticket sold in South Carolina back in October still has yet to claim it. They may be waiting until 2019 for tax purposes or they simply may have no idea that they won. Either way, that person or persons has until April to claim their bounty or it returns to the states.

In Plymouth, Michigan, someone purchased a winning lottery ticket last New Year’s Day that guarantees them either $25,000 per year for life or a $390,000 lump sum. They still have yet to claim their prize, which will expire on Tuesday.

Related: Tonight’s MegaMillions drawing is worth at least $348 million, or you can take the $210 million lump-sum cash option (which will leave you with just over $100 million after taxes…it almost doesn’t seem worth it).

Newsflash: If you’re above ground and breathing/walking, you’re already holding a winning ticket.

5. The Fine Print

This is defensive back Antone Exum of the San Francisco 49ers, who recently played an NFL football game for free. As reporter Matt Maiocco details, Exum earns $41,450 per game, or about $700K per season. The NFL fined him $53,452 for a hit in Week 14, and that fine was taken out of his pay, so that he recently was able to show off a pay stub that had zero dollars and zero cents.

Seems a little unfair, no?

Music 101

Life Of Illusion

Former Eagle Joe Walsh had a minor hit with this in 1981, off his There Goes The Neighborhood album. The song also appears briefly at the beginning of The 40 Year-Old Virgin.

Remote Patrol

Garth: Live At Notre Dame

8 p.m. CBS

Is Jesus attempting to start the wave?

A repeat of a show that aired earlier this month, and actually took place in Notre Dame Stadium back on October 20th. We’re rather ignorant about Brooks’ work, but just last night we were talking to true believers in Garth.


by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

He’s only 34 years old. This is what playing the market does to you…

Wow Jones!

What could break the spell of the worst December the stock market has experienced since 1931? Well, the president makes an unannounced flight to a combat zone (his first), Iraq, to visit the troops, which means NO TWEETING, and on the same day the Dow experiences its greatest single-day gain—1,086 points— as well as its greatest percentage gain in nearly 10 years. Coinkydink?

Today, the Dow has already plummeted more than 300 points. If you haven’t sold yet, hold steady, blood.

Bowel Games

We’ll always have A.J. Dillon’s 19-yard TD

The Cheez-It Bowl between Cal and TCU featured nine interceptions, including one following at double pass, and just 17 total points. Whereas the First Responders Bowl from Dallas between Boise State and Boston College, sponsored by ServPro, a company whose tag line is “Like It Never Happened,” was canceled due to lightning after one quarter.

Of course, it’s not the first time someone from Boston had a planned afternoon event in Dallas end prematurely, buuuuut….. (too soon?).

3. Mine Kampf*

*The judges will also accept “Ash Holes” or “Mine Your Own Business”

Four people, two men and two women, entered an inactive coal mine in West Virginia last month. Then their head lamps went out, panic ensued, and a rescue took place. Now authorities have arrested the four, alleging that they entered the mine with the intent of stealing copper wire (yes, but did they actually complete the process of the catch?). Either way, we’re pretty sure there was an Andy Griffith Show episode built around nearly this same premise.

4. Something Afoot, Something Afoul

The New York Times tracked down the Queen podiatrist who allegedly diagnosed the future president with bone spurs in exchange for a rent break from his landlord, Fred Trump. Dr. Larry Braunstein, who passed away in 2007, allegedly told his daughters this story for years of how he helped 45 avoid service in Vietnam.

More pearl-clutching to come.

5. Water Hazard

Two older South Korean males drowned in Thailand while playing golf. Seems they were part of a foursome with their wives. The men were driving the forward cart, the women followed. As they were crossing a bridge the women’s cart rear ended their spouses’, sending all four into the water below. The women were rescued. The husbands, one in his mid-sixties and the other in his mid-seventies, drowned.

That’s a stroke penalty.

Music 101

Saturday Night Special

Few tunes scream “SEVENTIES SOUTHERN FRIED ROCK” like this 1975 classic from Lynyrd Skynyrd. Yes, it’s an iconic southern band dedicating a song to gun control, as the band notes that this infamous handgun “ain’t good for nothin’/but puttin’ people six feet in a hole” and “Handguns are made for killin’/They ain’t good for nothing else.” It’s featured in an early scene from the Burt Reynolds film, The Longest Yard. 

Remote Patrol

Sixers at Jazz

10:30 p.m. TNT

We’re somewhat intrigued by these two up-and-coming franchises, featuring budding stars under-ager-25 Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell…and Grayson Allen (!). Chances are we’d be watching The Godfather (I and II) on AMC beginning at 5:30 p.m., but if you want to watch sports ball, go right ahead.


by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

The first step is admitting you have a problem. Now, about Christian Hackenberg…


Starting Five

1. What Child Is This?

Hours after being taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and diagnosed with a cold, an eight year-old Guatemalan boy dies. So he had access to the same health-care as many of us Americans, it seems. Again, he was eight, or past the age of marginally believing in Santa Claus.

This marks the second child to die in Border Patrol custody this month. Maybe day care just isn’t their thing?

2. Awesome Murphy

Our old friend and colleague Austin Murphy, truly one of our favorite people we’ve ever met, pens a delightful story in The Atlantic about his metamorphosis from seasoned Sports Illustrated scribe to Amazon delivery driver. Imagine, going from being a writer at SI to working at an unglamorous working-class gig for a few months. The horror! I can’t….

Aus, about that urination access issue. An empty and readily available 32-ounce Gatorade bottle should solve most of your problems.

3. Hail Trent, Full Of Grace

We gotta admit, reading Austin’s story on Christmas day reminded us of the many times over the past decade that we’d read a sportswriter on his way to cover a bowl or a Final Four tweet-whine about his interminable wait at the airport or how his seat at WhateverDome is less than ideal. We’d think, those chumps don’t appreciate how fortunate they are, but soon after having that thought we’d almost always remind ourselves, That’s probably what every dead soul thinks when they watch one of us amongst the living failing to take appropriate advantage being above ground on this Earth.

And so on Christmas day it was a true gift to read this piece by Purdue student Tyler Trent, who is battling cancer and may not make it to New Year’s. He gets it.

4. Lawrence of Away-bia

Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, one of three massive Clemson defensive line starters who could be taken in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft, tests positive for ostarine, an anabolic steroid that the FDA says has no over-the-counter uses. Pending the results of his B sample that should be released tomorrow, Lawrence will miss Saturday’s national semi-final versus Notre Dame.

The Tigers go from “cup runneth over” on the defensive line to cup merely full. They still have ACC Defensive Player of the Year Clelin Ferrell at defensive end and AP 1st-Team All-American Christian Wilkins at defensive tackle.

5. Blow Hard

In Sicily, iconic Mount Etna lets off a little steam on Christmas Eve. It was the first lateral eruption on the mountain in nearly a decade and set off a minor earthquake. The billowing smoke, at least from the photo above, appears to be white, which must mean we have a new pope!

Music 101

Sky High

If the term “one-hit wonder” did not exist, bands such as Jigsaw would have necessitated its coinage. In late 1975 this song from the British band with vocals by drummer Dave Beech rose to No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard charts.

Remote Patrol

Newcastle at Liverpool

10 a.m. NBC Sports Net

Liverpool is halfway to an undefeated Premier League season (15-3-0) as the Reds host Newcastle at Anfield, their historic grounds that date back to the 19th century. You’ll Never Walk Alone.


by John Walters

Just one note for today, as we prepare the Christmas Beast (hell, yeah, we’re cookin’!). If you want to participate in one of those “5 Best Christmas Movies” debates on Twitter, these two belong on the list..

A Christmas Carol (1951 version)

Runs All Day on FXM

A Christmas Story

Runs All Day on TBS


by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


Starting Five

Merry Christmas! DON’T PANIC!

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, vacationing in Cabo with his Scottish mail-order bride, phones the heads of major U.S. banks to make sure their stockings are not filled with coal (but, you know, clean coal!), then writes a note to America saying not to worry. Oooooooooooo-kay.


Don’t you love it when the country’s supposed leading financial expert is borrowing from the opening sentence of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy?

In front of a packed house and Bill Walton at Wells Fargo Arena, the Arizona State Sun Devils took down No. 1 Kansas. It’s only the second time the Sun Devils have defeated a No. 1 (at Oregon State, 1981) but it’s also the second time Bobby Hurley’s Devils have beaten the Jayhawks in the past 13 months (they won at No. 2 Kansas last season).

ASU trailed by 8 in the final minutes before going on a 10-0 run, and then holding off the Jayhawks in the final minute.

3. Jesus Christ, Rock Star

As you head off to church this evening or tomorrow morning, remember you are celebrating the birth of a baby whose parents were refugees, who were repeatedly refused entry at inns even though the mother was about to give birth. Remember that this person whose birth you celebrate never owned land, never held a job, never got married or had kids, never had any earthly wealth. He wore a beard (and probably had an ankle tattoo).

Also, that He was utterly uncompromised in his values. He never said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me…unless that brother is illegally crossing a border.” He never said, “He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword…but it’s better to be a good guy with a sword.”

He was a refugee child. He was an instigator. A pain in the ass. He was not someone who made exceptions to rules out of convenience. Just something to remember as you head off to worship.

4. Tsunami Disaster*

*The judges will not accept “Wipeout”, “Crash Into Me” or “Edge of Seventeen.” It’s Christmas, for Lord’s sake.

Nearly 400 people are known to be dead after a tsunami came ashore on the Indonesian island of Java. The pop band Seventeen had just finished a song when the wave, like something out of a movie, crashed through the screen behind the stage. The band’s lead singer survived. Its bassist and manager died, while its guitarist and drummer are missing.

5. Remember: Always Keep Your Tips Up

Music 101

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Don’t ask why The Boss is playing this song in the summertime (Sept. 20, 1978) or why he says, “He’s making a wish/He’s checking it twice…”. Merry Christmas from the entire MH staff, both domestic and abroad.

Remote Patrol

Family Hour.


by Chris Corbellini


Week 16 Picks: The Ballerina Affect

When the money is real — millions of dollars real, life-changing real — and can realistically be won in a manner of eight hours, you will go through some things.

The week before my World Fantasy Football Championship, with a grand prize of $500,000 and the possibility of winning an additional $1 million, I quietly went about my schedule, stubbornly pushed through the doubt and the jags of nervousness/joy, and stuck to the analytics-heavy strategy that allowed me to qualify for it (a first-place finish out of thousands of entries). I ignored the fact that everyone else in the competition was a millionaire pro, or David Portnoy. I ignored a job rejection email I received Sunday morning as I was setting my lineup (an old application, from months ago, and out of nowhere). I ignored the B- I had just received in an accounting course, ending my bid at graduating from an Ivy League institution with a 4.0 GPA. I ignored the commonly-held thought amongst NFL talking-heads and columnists and people close to me that Week 15 was a shit-show week for fantasy football purposes. I ignored my own belief that your life is the choices that you make, and that the nine open slots in my fantasy lineup was the latest and perhaps most absolute example of that belief.

I ignored the loud bells, whistles and alarms of what that money COULD do for me.

And I focused.

And when that lineup was set and my mind was fully fixed and locked in on my choices, I then experienced the wildest, nuttiest, like-huh-what-the-fuck mood swing … from insecurity to ridiculous overconfidence. I’d like to write “in my entire life” to end that sentence, but that would be a falsehood. I had never felt that, such a see-saw swing, and may never again. I did the research. Exactly like before. So, I’m good. Am I good?

I needed to step out of my hotel room and go for a run (the daily fantasy sports company set me up with a Times Square-area hotel room for the competition), but alas, freezing rain. So, I went to the hotel gym, stepped up on a treadmill for a 20-minute burn, and about three minutes in, the oddest thing happened. Across the street on 44th, eye level with me, were four ballerinas and their young instructor, working through a morning practice.  I remember one of them wore a red top. I also remember all of them being exactly what you would expect: Precise, elegant, and just about perfect. At one point, “Clair De Lune” was playing in my headphones, a pure of heart piece, and as they danced and spun on their toes I no longer heard my own breath, or felt the labor of my run, or the stress of a competition. I was just … leveled. Truly in the moment. Afterward, I felt no nervousness on the bus ride over to a Hoboken bar for the competition, and at no point as the NFL games played out was I especially up or down.

Perhaps a good “put it all in perspective” moment was exactly what I needed. Some might even call it a blessing — because I finished 69th out of 75 qualifiers. There is no sugarcoating this: It was the second time playing daily fantasy sports that I closed in on a cool million only to watch the house of cards not only fall down, but burn to ashes.

I won’t go over the logic of my lineup, or defend it, or explain what went wrong out there on an NFL Sunday. And I won’t shrug it all away as bad luck. Degenerate gamblers do that – always complaining about bad beats and how close they came to life-changing money and success — and then they continue to use the same system over and over until the house beats them again. No, I recognize that my base of pro football research needs to be expanded. It’ll be the only way I get there — if I still want to get there. And I know enough about the analytics of the game, and that beautiful bounce-back from the body blows of life, to recognize that every Sunday I’m inching closer to these pros who have a much larger bankroll. I’m doing more with much less.

And I’m good with that.

Oh, and I won $8,000 and had more than a few whiskey shots.

Now on to my Week 16 picks. As always, home team in caps, with William Hill odds. I also added some percentages to correspond with my picks – they represent the probabilities calculated by The Quant Edge that my picks will actually happen. Full disclosure: I work at TQE as an advisor.

O/U Bet: PATRIOTS vs. Bills go OVER 44.5 (70.5%)

As long as Bill and Tom have been in New England and winning Super Bowls, the Patriots have found their success through exceptional game planning, and it must be said … vindictiveness. They want to get back at the lot of us. When SpyGate happened, 18-0 happened. When DeflateGate happened, Tom won another Super Bowl, and the Patriots also convinced offensive coordinator Josh Daniels to stay in New England instead of being the head coach of Indianapolis (the org that “ratted” them out). Last year, I edited together a Super Bowl pregame piece with Al Michaels and Bob Kraft, and the Patriots owner said something very telling: “Jealously is an incurable disease.” I think that’s the team’s mindset — not unlike a teen music sensation reading the comment section from her latest Instagram post:


And yeah, vindictiveness works in pro sports. Just ask Michael Jordan.

So, I respectfully submit the Pats are going to show us all that their reign in the AFC is not yet over, that Gronk and Brady don’t look slow, that Josh Gordon didn’t actually matter … and as a result the team will splatter the Bills at home and clinch their 10th straight division title. If they don’t, then there are some real problems at Patriot Place.

Bengals (+9.5) beat BROWNS (65.2%)

Cincinnati should give Joe Mixon 35+ touches — in open space and between the tackles — and muscle out a close victory. No way Cleveland is a 9.5-point favorite against anyone.

O/U Bet: Broncos vs. RAIDERS go UNDER 43 (64.4%)

There’s a heaping helping of offensive ugliness going on here. Like most suckers, my inclination is to always take the over (“People like scoring!”), but this one has 14-10 Broncos all over it.

Falcons (-3) beat PANTHERS (63%)

As a producer I’d definitely want Panthers QB Taylor Heinicke to pull a Rocky here and maybe knock down the Falcons early, and then cut away to cameras in his hometown bar somewhere in Suwanee, Georgia, capturing the locals losing their minds over it. It’d be a nice story. But no, I think Atlanta’s Julio Jones has a monster game left in him this season, and this one will be it.

Last week: 1-3
Overall: 24-33


by John Walters

Welcome to The Annex. What it is is, on days when we have a little extra time and feel as if we only went off half-cocked during the morning’s IAH!, well, this is our time to go off full-cocked. Maybe we should call it Full-cocked? You can voice your opinion in the Comments on that. So here we go…

The Three Not Wise Men

“All the best people”: Kelly, McMaster, Mattis

Whatever they believed their legacies were going to be, Generals H.R. McMasterJohn Kelly and Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis will be remembered as three men who attached their careers to the Trump presidency and are now historically tarnished for that affiliation. Their collective failures as, respectively, National Security Advisor, Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense were not military. They were not diplomatic.

If only. Their failure was not heeding a lesson they all should have learned by third grade: Never do the wrong thing for the right reasons (I just realized the last eight letters of that  sentence are “treasons”).

I’ve heard the argument: If these three weren’t there, who knows what Trump is capable of? It’s as if, Hey, they’re lifelong conservatives and now they finally have someone on their side in the Oval Office, so they’ll do whatever the team asks and make sure Donald doesn’t do anything too crazy.

The problem is that this wasn’t about the GOP Team. This was about being part of Team Trump. The very act of joining that latter team was no longer about service to your country, or the GOP’s version of the country, but of legitimizing an illegitimate president. If you buy a whorehouse just because you think you can do a better job of protecting the girls, you’re still running a brothel.

Sometimes a thing has to break all the way before it can truly be fixed. The election of Donald Trump was the triumph of ignorance and nationalism over this country’s true ideals. Trump needs to fail, and to fail hard, in order to expose what a disaster he is as a president and as a man.

By signing on with him, McMaster, Kelly and Mattis attempted to hide from their fellow countrymen what a buffoon, what a malefactor, we have in the White House. Were they really trying to protect us, or were they trying to protect an archaic ultra-white conservative ideology embodied by the Republican party?

Screamin’ A

You may not like what Stephen A. Smith is saying here, but there is nothing he says in this clip that is false. And this goes to something deeper that I see on Twitter: people don’t judge things as much by whether they are inherently wrong or right, but by how the consequences make them feel.

What SAS is saying here may not be loaded with Rinaldi-esque empathy (or sap), but he’s absolutely right: While it’s okay to call addiction a disease, it is fundamentally different than the other diseases he mentions because it begins with a choice. And if you argue that a person never had a choice before they were chemically addicted, then you have to realize that you are arguing against the existence of free will itself.

But here’s the point: Why does what SAS is saying here upset you? What is NOT true? Please, tell me. Or do you just not like it that it feels as if he is blaming the addict for his own disease, which, to a limited degree he is? Because, to a limited degree, more so than an Alzheimer’s patient, the addict IS responsible for his disease.

Let’s push this out. On the same night I saw Twitter get upset because on this play…

…Duke’s Zion Williamson was whistled for a charge and fouled out. Now let’s do a little thought exercise. When is the last time you saw anyone under age 35 on Twitter cheer against a dunk? Or cheer for anything that prevented a dunk? That’s what I thought.

So on the above play (I had a clip earlier that showed the play a few seconds before, but cannot locate it at the moment) Duke’s precocious freshman palms the ball at least twice. Then he does commit a charge—he’s out of control as he bangs into the defender. And, okay, maybe reasonable minds can disagree about this, but it seems most of Twitter was upset because 1) he fouled out and 2) the referee was infusing himself into the game.

That’s what referees are paid to do. When someone breaks the rules. It may be that fans don’t pay to watch defense, but if you’re not going to give defenders an equal chance, then the entire quality of not just this game but any game goes out the window. I appreciate that’s very GOML of me to say, but I don’t apologize for being a GOML guy. At least I have a lawn.

The Farm Bill

Lost in all the other mess of yesterday was President Trump signing an $867 million welfare package to America’s farmers. Of course, if you call it a “farm subsidy” as opposed to “white landowner welfare,” it sounds a lot more respectable.

Personally, I’m against the government paying anyone who is healthy not to work, regardless of race or economic station. The pro-farm bill people try to explain to me that they need to do this to keep crop prices competitive, but isn’t that what capitalism is all about? If you have too much product, prices go down. And so a few farmers go out of business. Isn’t that the invisible hand of competition at work?

So then someone tells me that this very program “trickles down” (those magic words) to help the impoverished. Really? Then why not just give that $867 million directly to the impoverished and avoid the middle man?

Nike Was Right

On Labor Day weekend or thereabouts Nike unveiled a TV ad, coinciding with the beginning of football season, in which Colin Kaepernick was spokesman. A few conservative pundits (and a friend of ours) predicted that now was the time to short Nike stock, as the company would take a huge hit.

While the stock is down from where it was in September, look around. Almost all major stocks are down since then. What IS worth paying attention to is that Nike has posted double-digit growth since the ad was unveiled, demonstrating that The Swoosh may understand contemporary America better, thankfully, than Clay Travis or Joe Kernen do.

About That Border Wall…

Charlatan (Chapter 4,691)

As David Farenthold of The Washington Post points out, Donald Trump had a framed Time magazine cover of himself hanging in his office and at six of his golf courses. The problem is that no such magazine was ever printed. Now, yes, anyone can design magazine covers in which they are the cover boy (I think it used to be something you could do at a photo studio), but when you’re as prominent a figure as Donald Trump as opposed to, say, an eight year-old boy, what’s your motivation?



by John Walters



Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the last sane man left in “the room,” resigns. The president threatens to shut down the government if he doesn’t get funding for his border wall. The stock market is tanking. And it’s the first day of winter, Ned Stark. We’re there. Or as Donald Trump might tweet, “We’re their.”

Tweet Me Right

Do you think he and Pence think these are the kind of coyotes that walk around with dynamite from ACME?

Starting Five

Resig Nation

For Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the line in the sand was the fact that his boss no wanted to align in the sand. Specifically, in Syria. When Donald Trump went against the advice of Mattis and the other Joint Chiefs of Staff and in favor of whatever Sean Hannity and Bill Shine advised, the erstwhile four-star general said, “Yup, I’m outta here.”

Mattis joins a slew of well-meaning Republican types who boarded the H.M.S. Trump but then decided, you know what, I’m going to abandon ship before it strikes the iceberg.

Here is Mattis’ resignation letter in full …

…and here are the two excerpts most relevant:

One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.


I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions — to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies.

In short: Stop pissing off our friends and cozying up to our enemies.

Kelly’s gone. Mattis is gone. So who’s the adult in the room? Kellyanne?

2. Morocco Murders

Two Scandinavian women, both in their twenties, trekking by themselves in the remote Atlas Mountains region of Morocco. For a quartet of local men, this was seen as an opportunity. The bodies of  Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark and Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway, were found on Monday. They had been camping near Toubkal (13,671 feet) north Africa’s highest peak.

Motive: the four men, all apprehended, have pledged allegiance to ISIS and were heard on a video pledging allegiance to its leader. Yes, at least one of the women were beheaded and if you search (not very hard) on the internet, you can see footage of the horrific act. People are just so messed up.

3.Juul Riches

So we were on a little road trip over Labor Day weekend with one of our oldest friends, whose daughter was just beginning college. We asked him what’s going on in high schools these days, and he asked if we knew anything about “Juuls.” Never heard of them, we said.

He then proceeded to tell us how Juul is an incredibly popular type of E-cigarette that you can hide in the palm of your hand. One cartridge produces the nicotine kick of an entire pack of cigarettes. Juul, he told us, is rampant in high school classrooms.

How rampant? Yesterday Altria, the tobacco company which purchased a 35% stake in Juul earlier this year for $12.8 billion, handed the company a bonus dividend of $2 billion. Now, we’re not sure how the folks who run personnel for this 1,500-person company based in San Francisco want to divvy up the proceeds, but per staffer this would balance out to a $1.3 million bonus per staffer (and that’s how we’d do it). This way, everyone at Juul could afford to at least rent in San Francisco or Tiburon or Sausalito.

Think about that: you work for a company whose chief goal is to hook teenagers on nicotine, spurring a wave of emphysema and lung cancer for the 2050s and beyond. And you’re doing it near Silicon Valley, where all businesses purportedly exist to “make the world a better place.” And for your miscreantism you may walk home at year’s end with a million-dollar bonus. What a time to be alive….

4. Super Cooper

If you missed this a couple days ago, that’s Cooper Dawson, a three-star defensive end recruit from South Carolina and a five-star human being. For his NLI announcement, Dawson brought out a friend who suffers from cerebral palsy, Kingsley Feinman, to help and actually make the announcement.

Dawson missed his senior season with a torn ACL but as he said at the gathering, “Kingsley taught me that the only disability is a bad attitude.”

What a cool young man. And Cooper, that’s Tom Rinaldi calling on your other line…

5. It’s A Wonderful Reich

We got to thinking, based on SNL‘s skit about what if Trump had never been elected president…what if Adolf Hitler had never been born? There’s probably been a movie or book (or three dozen) tackling this hypothetical in the past, but the world would be such a different place.

Consider: Industrialization may have proceeded more slowly, as World War II spurred the acceleration of some of the greatest (and most worrisome) technological advancements in history. That mustache above might be acceptable, as would the name Adolf.

Granted, Hitler did not create nationalism or racism, he just exploited it (sound like any leader you know?). Something to consider: Adolf was one of six children, three of whom died in infancy. Those are 50-50 odds, but the world came out on the wrong side of them. The fate of 70 million lives, cut short, came down to a coin flip.

Music 101

Travelin’ Man

A true teen pop idol, Ricky Nelson was the son of arguably the most popular TV couple in the 1950s and early Sixties, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson (who were also married in real life). Pop would put his son’s songs onto the show and record sales would soar. This was Nelson’s second and last No. 1 hit, in 1961. Nelson died on New Year’s Eve 1985 the way all true rock stars should—in a small plane crash en route to a gig. He left the world his songs and his extremely blond sons, who would record “After The Rain,” an early ’90s hit that was big on the MTV.

Remote Patrol

Buffalo at Marquette

8:30 p.m. FSN

The 14th-ranked Bulls, who have defeated West Virginia and Syracuse, are 11-0. No. 20 Marquette is 9-2, with losses at Indiana and versus No. 1 Kansas.