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That Green Lantern Won’t Raise Itself!

[ 16 ] September 8, 2014 |

Shorter some random Fox News hack: “If only Mitt Romney had won, we wouldn’t have had all these domestic violence problems over the years, either.”

…BREAKING: Fox & Friends will always be the stupidest show in the history of television. 

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Ophelia Benson Makes Me Post Adam Sandler Clip

[ 54 ] September 8, 2014 |

Penises, go to your homes!!!!

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Gerrymandering in Pennsylvania and Maryland

[ 60 ] September 8, 2014 |

Evidently, as long as states have to produce compact, contiguous districts the House will be have a Republican tilt, and hence the role of gerrymandering in creating the GOP’s lock on the House is overrated. But having said that, as Weigel says the difference between a Republican-gerrymandered state and a Democratic-gerrymandered one can be highly consequential.

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Let Us Remember the Most Important Part of the Story: He Didn’t Smoke Pot

[ 118 ] September 8, 2014 |

What merits a two-game suspension to from the NFL.  But, as the team would still remind us, this kind of thing entails mutual responsibility: for one person to punch someone in the face requires another person to be punched in the face, so really everyone has a role in the “incident.”

Relatedly, some classic Peter King hackery. 

…to be fair and balanced, it must be noted that we have no evidence that Ray Rice ever committed a real offense of seriousness like selling his NCAA jerseys, threatening the country’s most precious resource, its Noble Ideals of Amateurism.

Petchesky:

There are three possible explanations here. The first is that every single reporter who said the NFL had seen the video was lying. This seems unlikely, since they were all telling the same lie, both for public consumption and in their off-the-record talks with us.

The second is that the NFL was lying to all of the top football reporters back then about having seen the video, in some attempt to smear Janay Palmer.

The third is that the NFL is lying now about not having seen the video—that league officials saw what everyone has now seen, for whatever reason actually found it exculpatory, and are now making false claims to protect the league’s image. This interpretation is supported by an employee of the Revel, the Atlantic City casino where the fight took place. He tells TMZ that the NFL saw the footage before disciplining Rice.

Whatever the case, it’s almost certain that the NFL lied at some stage here, and that the league played a handful of its most loyal reporters in the process, suborning them into a smear campaign against a victim of domestic violence.

 

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Falklands to a Fault

[ 88 ] September 8, 2014 |

My latest at the National Interest takes a look at the legacy of the Falklands War:

The Falklands War ended with a decisive British victory over thirty years ago.  Nevertheless, the war remains alive in the imagination of analysts and historians. Although the conflict happened outside of the normal “zones of crisis,” it has long held the attention of students of warfare.  The war, which involved a conflict over territory between two established nation-states with large, capital intensive military establishments, seems almost quaint today.  However, the issues that brought about the war, the manner in which the war was fought, and the situation the war left behind continue to hold important lessons for practitioners of foreign policy today.

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The Mixed Legacy of Joan Rivers

[ 64 ] September 7, 2014 |

Really good piece. 

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2014 NFL II: The NFC

[ 56 ] September 7, 2014 |

NFC East 1. Phi 2. NYG 3. Wsh 4. Dal  This is an easy division to pick, even though it seems pretty unlikely that Nick Foles is the QB he appeared to be in the stats last year (and the criteria for picking his backups appears to be 1)played at USC and 2)shitty.)  Nonetheless, with a first-rate coach the offense will survive a little regression and the loss of Jackson.  And the rest of the division is hideous.  I don’t disagree with Barnwell that Eli is due for some bounceback.  But what Barnwell — who has something of a blind spot about his team’s QB — is leaving out is that Rivers has always been a better QB than Eli, and even at his best Manning was never remotely as good as Rivers was last year.  (Yes, yes, I know, 2-time Super Bowl MVP.  Only 1)nobody really thinks Manning was more valuable than Tuck or Strahan in the first game, and 2)yes, if only Rivers and Marty Schottenheimer hadn’t conspired to force Marlon McRee to return what would have been a game-ending interception then they’d be clutch.  I wouldn’t bet that Eli will even be average this year, and their defense is likely to regress too.   And yet…the Redskins are a dysfunctional organization with an unproven, unimpressively credentialed coach, and it’s hard to know both if RGIII can stay healthy and what his skills are at this point if he does.  (Look for many HOT TAKES arguing that Kirk Cousins and his 5% interception rate and fumble per game deserve the job, which will not go well if it happens.)  The downside potential for the Cowboys is massive.  First of all, you’re taking 39 games of Ware, Lee and Hatcher away from what was already an atrocious defense.  I don’t want to dis Tony Romo, who has become a poster boy for the syndrome of unfairly blaming your team’s best players for its failures.  But he’s 34 and he gets hurt a lot, and if he has an Eli-like decline in performance or gets hurt this team could lose 14 games.

NFC North 1. GB 2. Chi(*) 3. Min 4. Det  On the other hand, every team in this division is vaguely credible — any of the 4 would be contenders in the east.  Of the two offense-first quality teams, I’ll take the one with Aaron Rodgers over the one with Jay Cutler, thanks.  (Also, while Jeffrey is very good whether he’s as good as he looked last year is an open question; he;s one year removed from 24 catches in 10 games, after all.)  My defense of Marvin Lewis shouldn’t be construed as a knock on Mike Zimmer; he’s an excellent coaching prospect, and while you never know where a top coordinator will fall on the LeBeau-to-Belichick head coaching spectrum until you give them the job he has talent to work here and should improve on what was the 27th best defense in the league.  Either Cassel will be good or what I’d bet is the best QB in the 2014 draft class will take over, with Cordarrelle Patterson and the one running back you can count on to be really good to work with. The Lions also have talent, of course. I might pick them as a wildcard if they had hired Smith or Zimmer, but Caldwell was a very strange hire, and while they’re capable of winning double digits the FO projections have them last in the division and I see no reason to disagree.

NFC South 1. NO 2. ATL 3. TB 4. CAR The Saints are one of the 3 or 4 strongest teams in the conference, although their defense might regress a but this year. I have no idea what to make of the Falcons, but Barnwell is pretty convincing that they can be expected to be more 2012 than 2013, although with that defense I don’t see them winning on the road in the playoffs even if they squeak in. There is some reason for optimism in Tampa Bay; not only getting rid of Greg Schiano but adding a coach who took Rex Grossman to the Super Bowl should be worth several wins in itself, and they have more talent than their record last year reflects. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them in the playoffs, but I think they’ll have to find the right QB after McCown turns into a pumpkin. Everyone thinks the Panthers will regress and I’m going chalk; Newton has been given nothing to work with and they don’t even have Newton to start the season.

NFC West 1. SEA 2. SF(*) 3. STL 4. ARI Amidst the discussion of alleged officiating changes, some people — morons, strategic whiners — seemed to be arguing that it was lax officiating that made the Seahawks defense look so good. This isn’t true, and with Harvin healthy this remains the best team in the NFL (although, as we recently discussed, Denver is probably the single team most likely to win the Super Bowl because their path is so much easier.) The injuries and suspensions afflicting the 49er defense are real but the effect has been overblown. It will make it hard for them to win the division, but they remain an outstanding team. I especially like the depth they’ve added at wideout, important in a division with Sherman, Peterson, and the Rams pass rush. On the two defenses-in-search-of-a-QB I’ll stay with the numbers and pick the Rams ahead of the Cards.

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The NFL 2014 1: The AFC

[ 67 ] September 7, 2014 |

AFC East: 1. NE 2. MIA 3. NYJ 4. BUF Personnel Person Bill Belichick has finally given Coach Bill Belichick some talent to work with in the secondary, and if Revis stays healthy this will be the best Patriots defense in many a moon. The supporting cast of a declining Brady has been improved as well, although it remains second-rate for the 13 games Gronkowski isn’t on the field. So they’re clearly the class of the division. A lot of analytical types seem to like the Dolphins for the wildcard. I still see team that needed to beat one of two pretty bad teams with nothing to play for and were outscored 39-7, so I’ll believe it when I see it. One of those were the Jets, who weren’t as good as their 8-8 record. Their offense should be improved. Eric Decker is like the Mariners getting Austin Jackson; freed in the Cato sense from Peyton Manning he’s not going to be great, but he’s a massive upgrade on Stephen Hill. But the Jets, with plenty of cap space to work with and plenty of good corners available, because of the injury to Millner are starting the year with a secondary consisting of “some guys Rex Ryan just met at a Hooters,” all of whom are better than Kyle Wilson. Their front 7 is good and Ryan is good, but not that good.  The Bills might not be the worst team in the league, but they may well have had the worst offseason. One of the best players from their excellent 2013 defense left, another is out from the year. They lost one of the league’s best defensive coordinators and replaced him with a guy whose team gave up 478 yards to a team in a massive blizzard. And the Sammy Watkins trade might actually be worse than the Browns’ Trent Richardson debacle. Sure, Watkins is a more valuable prospect ex ante than Richardson, and has to have more after-the-fact value virtually by definition. But two first rounders, when the second is likely to be a top 5? For a wideout on a team that probably doesn’t have an NFL QB? That’s crazy. It’s a sad situation.

AFC North: 1. CIN 2. BAL(*) 3. PIT 4. CLE Any of the top 3 could win the division. I think there is, to be frank, a hint of racism in the amount of credit the Bengals’ coordinators have gotten for the team’s success. Lewis was, after all, the most important coach on a Super Bowl champion that won with Trent Dilfer (the head coach was an offensive coach who never got another head coaching job,) and his record with the Bengals has been good. Their defense is still the best in the division, and while you can’t win a Super Bowl with Andy Dalton we know you can win a division with him. The Ravens are due for some bounceback. The Steelers still have the best QB in the division and you have to respect that. But the defense is in steep decline, and while it’s possible that Legendary Coordinator Dick LeBeau still has his fastball at 76, I note again in the second last game Tim Tebow started as an NFL QB he torched the Steelers for 316 yards and no picks. The next week, we went 9-26 against the league’s 28th-ranked pass defense, and although he was 24 and healthy now has a job getting Woody Paige’s coffee or something. The Browns have a better long-term prognosis than the Bills, and I like the Pettine hire, but with Gordon out the future won’t be this year.

AFC South: 1. HOU 2. IND 3. TEN 4. JAX A little contrarian. I like everything about the Texans except the QB, admittedly a major problem. The Colts are the opposite; the QB is going to the Hall of Fame if he stays healthy, but his supporting cast is what you’d expect from a team run by numbnuts who would trade a #1 pick for a replacement-level player at a position where a good player wouldn’t merit one. They could win again anyway, of course, but I think this year they’ll regress a bit and if the hits start catching up with Luck….I don’t see either the Titans or Jaguars having any real chance of competing in a weak division.

AFC West: 1. DEN 2. SD (*) 3. KC 4. OAK What can you say about the Broncos? The best team in the conference got better. The star is 38 and two years removed from a season-cancelling neck surgery that caused some numbnuts to wonder what his value would be going forward, but that’s the only real question. I’d pick the Chargers to win the Central South without hesitation. I’ll say more about Rivers when I get to the Giants, but I think his performance last year is for real, and the defense should be better. Everyone thinks the Chiefs will regress and I don’t disagree, but they’re certainly not bad. The Raiders are likely to have the worst record in the conference.

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David Simon’s First Great Show

[ 109 ] September 7, 2014 |

Homicide is indeed massively underrated. It’s not as good as The Wire overall — particularly towards the end you can hear the network notes making the show not as good as it could be — but it might have had a better cast and at its best was phenomenally good for a broadcast network show.

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The Carbuncle Cup

[ 153 ] September 6, 2014 |

The winner of England’s ugliest new building:

lead

Thoughts? Snarky comments?

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Today in Badasses

[ 23 ] September 6, 2014 |

Manolis Glezos:

Today, he is an iconic figure in Greece, a leftist who transcends ideology and a national symbol of resistance — beginning in 1941, when he and a friend, Apostolos Santas, ripped down the Nazi flag from the Acropolis, risking death as Hitler’s forces conquered Athens.

That brazen act was telegraphed the world over and inspired millions during one of Europe’s darkest hours. A snowy mane has replaced the brown locks of Mr. Glezos’ youth, and his powerful frame is now stooped. But his steel-gray eyes still burn with conviction, especially when he recalls his foray to the Acropolis.

“We had absolute consciousness that it was a historic moment,” Mr. Glezos said one recent weekend at his home in an Athens suburb, where he greeted a reporter with a viselike handshake. “No struggle for what you believe in is ever futile.”

He has turned up the volume on that message with his latest fight against German-led austerity in Greece, which has gotten him pepper-sprayed, hospitalized and arrested. His platform won him a landslide election victory in May representing Greece’s leftist party Syriza in the European Parliament, where he began work this month as its oldest lawmaker.

“Across Europe, I keep hearing the same theme,” Mr. Glezos said. “People are saying, ‘I don’t want others deciding my future for me.’ ”

Dang.

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A Hack Needs A Home

[ 41 ] September 6, 2014 |

Serial plagiarist and serial hack Benny Johnson has found a new job in what can charitably be called the field of journalism. Three guesses on his new employer and the first two don’t count!

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