More than sports … as opposed to “more-on” sports

One of my favorite on-line sports features is the Tuesday Morning Quarterback (TMQ) on ESPN.com I’ve linked the author, Gregg Easterbrook before because he has a creative and insightful take on sportswriting often makes me say, “Yeah, why is that?” (Today’s main feature on why the NFL should abolish Injured Reserve and the 53-man limited roster is breathtaking.) What I really like, however, is his tangential observations on our culture, and today’s (always) lengthy entree had several zingers.

Here’s his take on the dueling attack ads in Virginia senate race:

REPUBLICAN ATTACK AD
Soft, lilting female voice. Because voters worry that Republicans are too right-wing, the voice-over in Republican attack ads is always a sweet, reasonable-sounding woman.

“Did you know that Jim Webb reads novels? That he thinks about sex? Jim Webb has never denied thinking about sex! Jim Webb has been known to receive money. The exact amount of money he has received has never been disclosed! Many drug dealers drive their cars on highways, and Jim Webb drives his car on highways. So what’s the difference between Jim Webb and a drug dealer? While serving in the Vietnam War, Webb frequently used profanity, and is rumored to have thought about sex. When five brave firefighters died trying to stop the California wildfire, Jim Webb did nothing to rescue them — nothing! As a Democrat, Jim Webb advocates mandatory homosexuality, tax-funded Cadillacs for welfare recipients, the abolition of religion, surrendering our country to the United Nations and letting Saddam Hussein out of jail on a technicality. If Jim Webb is elected, Osama bin Laden will be placed in control of the United States military. Why won’t Jim Webb release the details of his thoughts?”

DEMOCRATIC ATTACK AD
Booming, macho voice. Because voters worry that Democrats are too squishy, the voice-over in Democratic attack ads always sounds like a steroid-swilling bodybuilder.

“Maybe George Allen is no longer a Satan-worshipper, but many Satan-worshippers are skilled at hiding their true allegiance. The postman, the school principal — can you be sure they are not Satan worshippers? Can you be sure George Allen is not? As a Republican, George Allen favors mandatory pregnancy, nuclear war against Canada, and the resumption of the Atlantic slave trade. George Allen never has explained adequately where he was on May 23, 1983. Investigators have found many documents related to George Allen. George Allen has been observed leaving meetings. Some of these meetings occurred in private! If George Allen is re-elected, major oil companies will charge for gasoline. George Allen has never denied that George W. Bush is President of the United States. George Allen, George Bush. Powerful insiders don’t want you to know that both have the same first name!”

Speaking of elections, here’s this (I think) satirical note:

Washington, D.C. — Nov. 7: Former president Jimmy Carter leads a team of international observers that will monitor elections in the United States today. Observers from Nicaragua, Guatemala, North Korea, Mexico, Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan and the West Bank will watch polling places for signs of fraud or suppression of the vote. In recent years, Carter has led many international teams to monitor elections in fledgling democracies plagued by voting scandals. This is Carter’s first election-monitoring mission to the United States itself. International observers wearing blue armbands will be stationed at polling places across Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Nevada. “We hope to help the American people vote freely and see their votes counted,” Nicaraguan team member Daniel Ortega told the Associated Press. Observation team member Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria said, “Once America learns to hold elections without irregularities, further intervention by the international community should no longer be necessary.”

He also had an interesting proposal on how to clean up the abuse of the public trough in Washington, D.C. that comes from lobbying and earmarking. Somehow his idea sounds kind of un-American, but I like it:

Related point: Jodi Rudoren and Aron Philhofer of the New York Times recently reported that 1,421 state and local governments have hired Washington lobbyists, who in 2004 spent $110 million on lobbying in order get more than $60 billion designated as “earmarks,” or special budget favors to specific places or programs. That is to say, $110 million in state and local tax money was expended to divert $60 billion in federal tax money — most of which came from people who live in states and cities, state and local taxpayers being the sources of most federal taxes. To get these favors, state and local governments hire as lobbyists former members of Congress or former congressional staffers, who then use their insider status to fleece the taxpayer. This is a classic “sliver strategy” — Congress hands out $60 billion in favors so that cronies of members of Congress can rake in $110 million in lobbying fees. Because what goes directly into the cronies’ pockets is only a small sliver of the overall waste, the sliver goes unnoted. I bet there is bipartisan consensus that Republicans and Democrats alike both don’t want this investigated, either!

Wouldn’t taxpayers come out way ahead if the salaries of members of Congress were raised to, say, $1 million per year, but in return all forms of outside income were banned for senators and representatives while retired members were permanently banned from lobbying? Raising congressional salaries to $1 million per year would cost the federal taxpayer $535 million — a bargain compared to $60 billion in earmarks and other wasteful spending that Congress approves for reasons of cronyism.

Finally, after seeing this item in TMQ, I’m predicting a surge in new email spam offers for the following “enhancement”:

Dear, the Garage Enhancement Truck Is Here: Recently TMQ included an item about fancy garage appliances as the new frontier in suburban acquisitiveness. How soon, I asked, until garage renovation strikes? Answer: not long! Many readers, including Jayne Mulholland of Charleston, S.C., alerted me to this new company, Premiere Garage, which calls itself “The Leader in Garage Enhancement.” Let’s hope that’s natural garage enhancement! Check the company’s photos, which showcase spotless garages unlike any that have ever existed in human history. These garages remind you of car ads that feature a guy in a convertible roaring down the open road with not one single other vehicle anywhere for miles around. The Premiere Garage FAQs page has this exchange:

“Q. My garage is full of stuff. What do we do with it while the floor is being coated?”

“A. It is the homeowners’ responsibility to remove all possessions from the garage.”

This may look like I’ve lifted his whole column, but it’s probably only about 25% of his weekly exposition. Read the whole thing to find out more about smart is it, really, to have the world’s largest container ship (191,000 tons, more than twice that of a Nimitz-class supercarrier) crewed and controlled by just 19 people, plus sections entitled “News from the Edge of the Solar System” and “News from the Edge of the Universe”, plus a heaping-helping of inside-football tactics and the ever-popular “NFL Cheerleader of the Week” offering.

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