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Thoughts on Events the Week of January 29

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on February 6, 2018

A Reading by the President: I did not watch the State of the Union address. Like any other scripted speech that Trump reads from a teleprompter, he didn’t mean a word of it, so what’s the point?

And no matter what Trump said about programs, there will be no other spending programs. Why? Because there is no money left for any other programs. Republicans gave it all away already to their very rich donors and large corporations.

Trump talks about spending 1.5 trillion dollars on infrastructure, but if he were serious, he wouldn’t have cut taxes by $1.5 trillion first. It makes no sense, unless you understand that Trump’s only “program” is to enrich himself.

My boycott of the speech may have caused me to miss something special, though. I heard a snippet or two of Joe Kennedy’s response, and it was moving. Also, the red hair notwithstanding, when I looked at him, I saw Bobby, bigger than Dallas. To people my age, that is magical, the possible realization of a dream that was taken from us.

The Bump: Presidents typically experience at least a short-term bump immediately after a State of the Union Speech. Same with Trump; his approval rating increased to 40.2%.

The Memo: I don’t care a fig about this memo. It’s a load of crap, written by a discredited slime ball. What I do care about is this: the memo contained classified information given to the House Intelligence Committee, with the expectation, as with all such information, that it will be held in confidence by the Committee.

Chairman Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) exposing that information betrays and destroys the trust between the intelligence community and Nunes’ Committee, which is charged with having oversight responsibility for it. How can intelligence services – ours, or other countries’ – risk handing classified information over to his committee now?

What happens when Nunes asks for something from the FBI and they say “No?” How can oversight possibly work in this environment? How can that trust be restored. For starters, Nunes should leave the Committee, and the House, altogether. He is beneath contempt.

Super Bowl: I enjoyed this Super Bowl more than any in recent memory. Good game, some excellent performances, good broadcast coverage, and the underdog won despite a great performance by Tom Brady, about whom more below.

Part of the Eagles’ success was doubtless due to the daring of the coach, Doug Pederson. He is more of a risk taker than many others in the NFL. He called one surprising play with fourth and goal at the two rather than take the field goal, which resulted in a touchdown.

The announcers called it astounding, because conventional wisdom is to take the three points, and most coaches would do that, particularly in a high profile game. But if he had taken the field goal and made it, Philly would have been up by six points. A Patriot touchdown would have given them the lead. This way, Philly had a two score lead of 22-12 at the half. Besides, Peterson had a well thought out, unusual but relatively safe play ready for this situation.

Many statisticians have demonstrated that pro coaches tend to play more conservatively than the probabilities suggest they should. One reason could be that NFL teams are so scrutinized by the press that if a coach takes a risk and it goes wrong, he will be second guessed by the press – in this case the Philly press – and his fans – in this case the Philly fans, the ones who booed Santa Claus – mercilessly. It’s safer to do the expected, but not necessarily smarter.

The game provided evidence supporting my position that instant replay doesn’t improve the game but only disrupts the rhythm of it. The review staff had two close sideline boundary calls on touchdown plays. They got one right and blew the other one completely, to the point Chris Collingsworth said about the call and the rule, “I give up!”

If the review booth can’t do better than 50/50 (basically the same as a coin flip), what’s the point? Leave the calls in the hands of the officials. They’re average will be better than that. (BTW, the bad call could have affected the outcome of the game. It gave the Eagles a touchdown they didn’t earn.)

Back to Brady: I read the morning of the game an article with the headline, “Why does everybody hate Tom Brady?” I don’t hate Brady. I admire and respect him. He’s arguably the best quarterback who ever played the game. I don’t think others hate him either. They may think they do, but what they really are feeling is envy and frustration because he wins so much. He keeps other teams out of the Super Bowl, no matter how hard they try, and there is something about us that cheers the underdog, the more so when the favorite has been the favorite for a long time. In my opinion, a true champion is one who wins consistently over time, not a one time winner.

Besides, too many fans base an unhealthy amount of their perceived self-worth on their city’s team. (That’s why, believe it or not, domestic abuse 911 calls spike in a city when its team loses.) I’ll bet any of the “haters,” given the opportunity, would welcome Brady to their team in a heartbeat.

The commercials were better, overall, than in recent memory, too, though there were a couple of real clunkers. Tide spent a ton of money, but used it creatively. The Australia Tourist Bureau commercial was terrific. The NFL made a terrific one for itself, using Ely Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. in a “Dirty Dancing” spoof post-touchdown celebration dance routine. Every football fan would have found it hilarious.

The Sprint commercial, with AI robots mocking their creator for still using Verizon was excellent, with a good payoff at the end. I’m sure Millennials loved that one.

It was notable that a lot of the commercials were based on themes of inclusiveness, tolerance and respect for one another. Perhaps advertisers sense that consumers feel unsettled by the messages of the Trump administration and will respond positively to some counterpoint.

I didn’t watch the halftime show after learning that Janet Jackson wouldn’t be appearing with him this time. Without Jackson’s bare boobs, Timberlake isn’t that big a draw for me. I’m sure the show was entertaining, but I read there were some sound mix issues.

Status of the States: I’m as happy as a Munchkin relieved of a wicked witch. I give all the worst states a pass this week.

 

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