The Other Football

Hi, everyone, my name is Randy Paul. I normally blog at my own blog, Beautiful Horizons. John has graciously accepted my offer to blog about the upcoming soccer World Cup in South Africa starting in June.

My love of this sport goes back some thirty-six years and I blog about it regularly. A brief explanation as to my passion for the game is here. I have a breakdown of the groups and my educated guesses as to who comes out of the group stage in this post.

A bit about my biases: I’m married to a Brazilian and unless I’m possessed by an urge to sleep on the couch, I tend to pull for Brazil – except when they play the USA. I want to see the sport grow here and success on the international stage will only help. While I admire a number of Argentina’s players, especially Leo Messi and Gabriel Batistuta from several years ago, I don’t much care for Diego Maradona.

I think South Korea got away with murder in 2oo2. I’m not a big fan of the Italian national team’s typically boring defensive game, although I credit their last coach with some daring play in the 2006 World Cup. I think England has some fine players, but I think they are overrated. Spain is my favorite team in Europe, Ivory Coast in Africa and Japan in Asia.

On the club level, I pull for Arsenal in England, Barcelona in Spain, Lyon in France, Fiorentina in Italy, PSV Eindhoeven in Holland, Cruzeiro in Brazil and FC Kaiserslautern in Germany.

So, enough about me. As of this writing, there’s 129 days till the start of the first match. I’ll be back around Memorial Day with some updated predictions educated guesses. I hope you all will follow along and add your comments!

Grammy’s Open Thread

Sorry for the delay, I fell asleep. Again.

Two Chuck related things:

My brother and a friend both have informed me that Casey and Sarah both do voice effects in ME2.

I am a huge fan of the move “the Morgan.”

Taibbi on Bobo on Haiti

Matt Taibbi is a very controversial topic here. Some laud him as today’s Hunter S. Thompson, some deride him as a self-indulgent hack. In any case, I thought his piece on David Brooks’ column on the Haitian earthquake was excellent, not because I hate Bobo (though I do), but because it goes to something central to our current public dialog: the need to blame victims.

It’s natural, of course, that when something terrible happens to someone else you want to say it couldn’t happen to you. My neighbor dropped dead of a heart attack? He smoked, I don’t. That kid across town got hit by a stray bullet walking home from school? He was probably in a gang.

Maybe thinking that way is what keeps us from living under our beds. But when it meshes with politicizing and patting yourself on the back, it’s ugly. Taibbi:

TRANSLATION (of Bobo): Although it is true that Haiti was just like five minutes ago a victim of a random earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people, I’m going to skip right past the fake mourning period and point out that Haitians are a bunch of lazy niggers who can’t keep their dongs in their pants and probably wouldn’t be pancaked under fifty tons of rubble if they had spent a little more time over the years listening to the clarion call of white progress…


Again, unlike Brooks, I actually lived in the Third World for ten years and I admit it — I’m not exactly in the habit of sending checks to Abkhazian refugees, mainly because I’m not interested in buying some local Russian gangster a new Suzuki Samurai to tool around Sochi in. And I’ve actually seen what happens to the money people think they’re giving to Russian orphanages goes, so no dice there, either.

But you know what? Next time there’s an earthquake in Russia or Georgia, I’m probably going to wait at least until they’re finished pulling the bodies of dead children out of the rubble before I start writing articles blasting a foreign people for being corrupt, lazy drunks with an unsatisfactorily pervasive achievement culture whose child-rearing responsibilities might have to be yanked from them by with-it Whitey for their own good.

It’s a short step from lamenting that “Responsibility is often not internalized” (as Brooks does) to talking about strapping young bucks buying T-bone steaks with their UN relief checks.

Pure speculation

Dana Milbank had a column the other day about how it would be great for Obama politically if Republicans gained control of Congress. It was pretty typical TNR-style contrarian wankery, though since this was the first time that anything has ever been good news for Obama, maybe I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Now, I have no idea if Republicans will get control of the House — it seems like a longshot, since they have to pick up 40 seats to do, but I’m no Nate Silver, so what do I know?

It seems worth asking: what would Republicans do if they gained control of the House? Presumably, there would be a lot of absurd, numberless bubble-chart proposals, for sure, but I don’t think anyone would pay much attention to them. My guess is that politically, the biggest thing would do is start lots of investigations. What do you think they would investigate? Anita Dunn and Van Jones, probably, but what else? Would they delve into Obama’s pre-presidential years? Would they hold hearings on his birth certificate? Would they impeach him? Would the press go along with all of this the way they did with Whitewater and Travelgate and Socksgate? My gut feeling is that the answer to the last three questions is “yes”.

Update. There is already an impeach Obama website, per the comments.

I do think that Republican candidates for Congress should be asked whether or not they support impeaching Obama.

Update. Michael Savage is onboard. Does anyone know if Glenn Beck has recommended impeaching Obama?

Update. A friend who is a bit more knowledgeable about Congress writes:

But weren’t the wheels already starting at the Clinton White House by this time? Clinton entered office with a Flowers and Whitewater (they were both campaign issues IIRC) and then the WH Travel Office issue broke in the first or second year of his term.

Obama has nothing right now, other than maybe the little bit of land, and that was clearly not a real issue. He hasn’t lied about it, either. Plus, he seems to be really committed to his wife and family, and his wider family is both small and seem pretty sane.

Republicans need at least a 20 vote majority to impeach, plus the right kind of zealots on the Judiciary Committee. Not every Republican on the Judiciary committee is willing to wipe his/her ass with the Constitution just for political benefit.

And there’s no special prosecutor law anymore. Starr did all the legwork for the Clinton impeachment.

Douthat & O’Keefe, Legacy Comics

You know the old chestnut, “History repeats itself — first as tragedy, then as farce”? Well, comedy works the same way. And it turns out (sorry, DougJ) that Ross Douthat might actually consider himself to be a comedian, in the mold of Bill Murray.

Recent events have convinced me that Douthat, the NYT’s “new, young” opinionator, and James O’Keefe III, “conservative activist” and FBI person of interest, are spiritual twins. Twin sons of different mothers, perhaps, sharing the same patriarch, or Patriarchy. They are rising conservative stars, young men who strive to turn their separate highly privileged upbringings into quick fame and fortune, using only the gushing springs of wingnut media welfare and the time-honored (read: worn & outdated) tropes of frat-boy philosophy. They are the two sides of modern Libertarian-Conservative “funny”. They are Legacy Comics.

Generally, “legacy comics” is the term for those funny-page panel strips in your local newspaper that haven’t been funny within living memory, i.e., since the original creator went senile or died. Of course, nobody expects serial strips like Rex Morgan MD or Dick Tracy to be entertaining — they’re the graphic equivalent of David Broder, staggering onwards only because the newspapers’ aging editors can’t bear to admit that the average American gets their daily medical / forensic entertainment from television and their daily political / criminal entertainment from the Enquirer and Drudge. But some of the unfunniest stuff in the funny pages used to be entertaining, in a distant time and a vanished context. Most comic readers under 40 remember Jonny Hart as a bitter, christianist altekacker, but in the early 1960s stuff like “Clams got legs! – Now we’ll have to kill him” or “How sweet — he killed me a friend” were mordant and unexpected enough to be hilarious. Even the early Peanuts strips had a certain edge, back when the stereotypes now enshrined in Mad Men were not charming vintage sketches but scary soul-damaged individuals like The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. The problem is that creativity isn’t a bottomless well — not even the kind of creativity that gets expressed as three-panel jokes on a five-to-seven-days-a-week basis. Newspaper editors and readers hate changes, and want the comic artist to keep giving them the same-thing-only-different to go with their coffee; the comic artist burns out, dies, or gets too senile; so the “franchise” gets handed over to the artist’s otherwise-unemployable offspring, or to the “assistant” who’s been cleaning up the misspelled words & palsied drawing for the last quarter-century.

Actual live comedians have the same problem… just look at Chevy Chase. You can only do so many pratfalls before turning into Jerry Lewis. Comics burn out, sometimes literally (hello, Richard Pryor). The wise or lucky ones find a way to transition into a different branch of entertainment, like Cosby moving from stand-up to I Spy to sit-com. Those less lucky end up dead or vanished. And twenty years later, when media classes and YouTube have turned their patented bits and tics into Classics of the Form, some punk (whose parents once broke comedians’ hearts by sitting stone-faced at an undersold gig, determinedly not getting the point) looks around at a roomful of his frat brothers wetting themselves over their forty-fifth viewing of Animal House or SNL: The Classic Years and says to himself, “I could do this, if only I can figure out where the money is.”

Now, James O’Keefe, “guerrilla videographer”, has openly declared himself a political comedian, at least while the FBI is still investigating his “boyish hijinks”. Cruel liberals have compared him unfavorably to vintage right-wing funny guy G. Gordon Liddy, but O’Keefe’s obvious role model (and this would kill the poor man, if he weren’t already dead) is the late, great John Belushi. Unfortunately, O’Keefe’s understanding of Belushi’s cut-yourself-on-the-bleeding-edge physical comedy is as superficial and moronic as a Republican congressman’s understanding of legislative debate. O’Keefe looked at the Blues Brothers and said to himself: “Big sunglasses and trash talk — the coloreds love that stuff! Wrecking other people’s lives — that never gets old!”

But Ross Douthat is nowhere so obvious. He is, after all, a Harvard man, as he will not hesitate to remind you. Not for our Ross the cheap laffs of mere physical comedy. He has a subtler and longer-lived role model: Bill Murray, the Maynard G. Krebs of the mid-1970s. Murray has made a profitable career out of being The Guy Who’s A Little Too Hip for the Room. And he does that role very well, even if it’s not a setpiece to everyone’s taste. For Douthat, it’s all about the ironic distance… nobody with sufficient education to get into Harvard is going to decorate his room there with posters of Russell Crowe and Audrey Hepburn without tongue so firmly in cheek as to protrude from the vulgar bodily orifice. Even among the Modern American Conservatives, a tribe not known for its self-awareness, no young man claiming to be heterosexual is going to publish a memoir where finding out a potential sexual partner has taken intelligent precautions against pregnancy is a boner-killer. Nobody who doesn’t consider himself A Little Too Hip for the Room is going to start his career as a big-time NYT intellectual with a column titled “Dick Cheney for President“.

Yes, the inescapable conclusion is that Ross Douthat considers himself a comedian. But the question remains: Are we laughing with him, or just at him?

Give ’em Hill

PUMAs are going on Breitbart now. No could have predicted.

We are receiving help with this stand against PUMA hunters from the most unexpected and encouraging places.

As we talked about on Breitbart yesterday, there are a great many layers to all of this. There are many Obama supporters involved. This has been going on for some time. Many people’s lives and businesses have been ruined because they did not support Obama.

The American voters need to hear this story. These attackers need to be exposed, just as they outed many anonymous Hillary bloggers. The difference is, once identified and exposed, instead of being menaced (the way these Obots attacked Hillary supporters), these people will be prosecuted.

I’ve been so caught up in health care and the Washington Post chats and whatnot that I’ve lost track of PUMA mythology, so I don’t understand what they’re talking about.

Update. The comment section is good.

Tech Help

How do I go about getting this on my phone:

et these files on my phone.