Saturday, March 18, 2006

James Spader is My Hero

Did you happen to catch a recent episode of the ABC series Boston Public? Yeah, me neither. Truth be told, I never have seen the show. From what I gather, Spader plays a rather unsympathetic character on the show, a smarmy lawyer with a heart of less than gold. Also? Shatner is on this show, and he’s always gold. I’m amazed I don’t watch, come to think of it.

The clip is here.

I haven’t even seen the entire episode mentioned above, only this clip. Spader’s character is defending a woman who is avoiding paying taxes in protest. It’s perfectly setup, having the prosecutor rant to the jury about how her form of dissent is unpatriotic, and how they, the jury, have little choice but to convict. Spader’s address to the jury is nothing short of astonishing, in the fact that it was broadcast on commercial television. It hits on all the relevant points of how dissent in this country is quickly labeled as unpatriotic, when the reverse is true. He dares to question the jury (and in reality, all of us) where our outrage is while all of these decidedly un-American things have occurred under the guise of a War on Terror. Things like a war based on misinformation, state sanctioned torture, warrantless wiretaps, etc.

I can only imagine that ABC has received a backlash form the traditional media lapdogs (Hannity, Limbaugh, etc.), ironically, calling them unpatriotic traitors. Yes, yes we get it: Hollywood is full of left wing liberal nutjobs who hate America and love muslims/commies. Hopefully, they will receive an equal number of comments applauding the bravery of airing this. Contact them here and tell them what you think.

We live in dangerous times. The climate of fear that has been placed upon us was not done so by accident. Having a population living in constant fear of whatever bogeyman we can think of (in this case, Muslim extremists) allows a government to get away with things far above and beyond rational democratic actions. The populace, when kept uneducated about such things, and in a constant state of anxiety, is far more likely to accept Police state type security measures, all under the guise of “protection”. Playing upon those fears is manipulative and more in line with the governments we claim to despise. Think that color coded terror alert system will ever sink below yellow? Yeah, me neither. Disagree with the current administration? You must hate America! Want to speak out, as is your right? Move over to that “Free Speech Zone” three blocks away. (Funny, I thought all American soil was a “Free Speech Zone”.)

Thankfully, it seems like we Americans might finally be waking up and smelling the coffee. Dubya’s approval ratings are the lowest they’ve ever been, and continue to sink each time the polls are taken. Even members of his own party are openly questioning the policies they helped put into place, though a lot of that could be due to election year posturing, as nothing is worse that to have the stench of an unpopular president on you while campaigning. Soldiers are openly questioning what the hell they are trying to accomplish in Iraq, and why they have to do so with inadequate equipment. Here’s a hint: maybe the goal isn’t to “win”, but simply to remain there and keep the war machine rolling along. There are profits to be made, after all, eh Dick?

The proof will be if, this November, things change enough to dismantle the Republican majority in Congress. I’m not saying the Democrats are any better, by any stretch. After all, many of them voted for this war, though they later claimed they were misled. They further proved their weenie-ness this past week when Russ Feingold produced a measure to censure the President, and the afraid-to-dissent-and-seem-unpatriotic Dems let him twist in the wind. The Dems need to convey a better message than “We’re not them” in order to rally the voters. We can force them to revert to being the party of FDR and JFK, if we do it right, and not reduce them to being the party that has to defend Pro-Choice all damn day. The tent needs to get bigger, and they can’t be held captive by the extreme fringes, which seems to happen every election cycle.

It would send a message if many incumbents were defeated, and that should be the goal. See who is up for reelection in your district, make sure the voting machines work (that is, they aren’t made by Diebold), and vote for change. Me? I’m going to do my damndest to make sure that my state senator, noted Republican-in-Donkey-clothing Joe Lieberman, gets ousted.

Remember, this country was founded by a group of intelligent, pissed off guys, who were tired of living under the rule of an elitist system of which they could never be part. Sound familiar? Dissent is not only in our blood, it is our responsibility. At the very least, we need to restore the system of checks and balances designed by these brilliant thinkers, which were setup to prevent anyone, even our elected (or in this case, selected) leaders from putting themselves above the law. As Sean Hannity likes to say, "Now more than ever." Indeed, Sean. Indeed.

Fan for Hire Update – We have a winner!

The results are in! After being contacted by six NBA franchises, and carefully going over the responses, I have decided which team is the recipient of my rooting loyalty. The winner is…….the Phoenix Suns!

I received this reply from Karlis Kezbers, Account Experience Specialist, in response to my original e-mail:


Great to hear from you and glad to hear that you are interested in joining the Phoenix Suns. Before we make our offer, I do want to let you know that we always have the best interest of the fan in mind, so may I offer a few suggestions:

1) Join up with a mid level team for three years and buy a half season package. After the third year, nationally state that you are unhappy and want a new deal. This will entice Isiah to call and sign you to an 8 year $120 million dollar deal. (This would be looking out for your best interest financially.)

2) Go overseas for a few years and follow an Italian team. After a couple years, declare yourself eligible for the NBA draft. The Knicks will more than likely pick you in the 2nd round and then lock you up for an 8 year $120 million dollar deal. (looking out for you financially.)

3) Become a Suns fan. We're coming off of a 62 win season, with the MVP of the league, coach of the year, and executive of the year. Currently, without arguably our best player, we are atop of the Pacific Division by 6 games, positioning ourselves to be at least a 3 seed in the Western Conference. We have made moves this season to help us acquire Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, James Jones, and Eddie House. We pride ourselves on putting the best team on the floor, showing top of the line entertainment, and providing the best service in the NBA. (obviously, looking out for your best interest as a fan)

Please let me know if you have any other questions or comments regarding the Suns. We look forward to having you as a lifetime fan!

Note that the Suns were my choice despite not being offered any material goods, i.e. T-Shirts, hats, etc. The outstanding reply was a big part, but these other factors played into my decision:

The team is well managed (again, after witnessing the Dolan/Thomas regime, anything looks good by comparision)

The Suns are consistently competitive.

They will be competitive for the foreseeable future.

They are an entertaining, high energy team.

They’re not run by Isiah Thomas.

Currently, the Suns sit with the #2 seed in the Western Conference, and despite having big problems matchup-wise with San Antonio, are a legitimate threat to take the conference title. Go Suns!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Am I Being Monitored? I’ll Probably Find Out.

Now that Bush, Cheney and the neocon gang want to be all up in our personal business (see Act, Patriot and Tap, Warrantless Wire), I began to wonder what behavior, if any, I would personally do which could result in a visit from Big Brother. This blog is pretty much non-political, so I doubt it would turn up in any high powered searches (until now, perhaps). I don’t recall any phone conversation where I trashed the current administration, as most of those rants were done face-to-face.

Oh wait – I’ve recently made a few trips to my local public library, and was browsing for books when I did a search for Al Franken. Now, I like Franken, ever since the salad days of Saturday Night Live in the 70’s, he has consistently made me laugh. I recall seeing him at a corporate event a few years back and thoroughly enjoyed him. His books balance facts, heavy sarcasm, and intelligence to make his points. I don’t agree with everything he says, but nonetheless he is a very enjoyable read, and listen on his Air America radio show.

I found the book I was looking for, Lies and The Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, and grabbed a copy. While in the aisle, I also came across, then checked out these other items:

When You Ride Alone, You Ride With Bin Laden, by Bill Maher
Bushwacked!, by Molly Ivans
Stupid White Men, by Michael Moore

I read those, then went back and picked up the following:

Dude, Where’s My Country?, by Michael Moore
The Truth (with Jokes), by Al Franken

Man, I’m screwed. I mean, if they’ve been poking around vegetarians and nuns, what would they do with me? The WARNING: LEFTY EXTREMIST alarms were probably ringing like crazy at the NSA. Maybe I should go back and grab a Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly or Ann Coulter book to balance it out. (Truthfully, I have read books by O’Reilly and Coulter, and got them from this library, but that was before the snooping began.) That would probably confuse the hell out of the poor schlub who was on Library Duty that day.

Guess if you don’t hear from me for awhile, assume the worst. Welcome to 1984.

Fan For Hire

I'm a pretty big sports fan, as you might have gathered form some previous posts. I grew up when the "Big 4" professional sports consisted of Baseball, Football, Basketball and Hockey. Today, in terms of fan base, you'd have to bump hockey in favor of NASCAR, as the NHL seemingly has gone out of its way to alienate its fan base (canceling a season after recklessly expanding might be a factor). I've tried to see what all the fuss was about regarding stock car racing, and could now be considered a very casual fan. Very casual.

For baseketball, the choice for my favorite team was simple : the New York Knickerbockers. Not only were they a great team during my youth, they were local. Tons of media coverage, and interesting, talented players like Clyde Frazier, helped make rooting for them a joy. Like any good team, they endured their share of hard times, but I always stuck with them. When they hit the jackpot in 1985 by winning the Patrick Ewing lottery, I was pumped. The glory would return to the Garden!

Well, there were a few close calls, most notably the '94 Finals where the Knicks took a 3-2 lead to Houston and lost both games, and the title, but they never did win another championship. An underdog run to the Finals in '99 didn't hurt as much, as they were simply not as good as the Spurs, who took the crown in five games. Still, they were always competitive and in the playoff mix every year. One could make a rather convincing argument that being an elite team during the same time as the Jordan Bulls was an impossible hill to climb. For the Knicks, it certainly was.

Despite the recent years of poor play, I continued to stick by my team. It's what you're supposed to do, right? After Isiah Thomas was hired to be the General Manager in the aftermath of the awful Scott Layden regime, I was taken aback slightly. I had always despised Thomas, both as a player with Pistons, then as an executive who buried the CBA. Still, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, what with the bountiful resources the Garden would provide him. I figured it could be an interesting mix.

Well, two plus years in, it has become an absolute disaster. Thomas continues to make player moves which boggle the mind, taking on enormous salaries nobody else wants, which in turn destroys any flexibility the could have regarding the salary cap. Hiring Larry Brown at $10M per was also suspect. Brown, a noted carpetbagger who can't seem to stay in one place for more than 2-3 years, was never going to win with the roster he inherited. The soloution from GM Isiah? Throw more bad money after mediocrity, and ask the Genius Coach to somehow make it all work. The moves were puzzling to any observer, and the NBA beat writers struggled to figure out if perhaps there was some grand plan Thomas was cooking up, and that somehow all of the moves would make sense later. We're still waiting, Zeke.

The last straw, for me anyway, came a few weeks back when Thomas dumped a hefty expiring contract (Penny Hardaway) along with a decent young player (Trevor Ariza) for Steve Francis. Um, Isiah, you already have a selfish, overpaid point guard, correct? You are aware that during the game, only one ball is in play at a time, yes? Oh, did I mention that the Knicks currently have the ugly combination of the highest payroll, and the worst record in the laague? That is truly a remarkable accomplishment, but hey, at least we'd get the best odds to win the Draft Lottery, right? Um, no. Thomas decided, in all his wisdom, to send the pick to the Bulls in the Eddie Curry deal, and not have the pick lottery protected. Thus, when this season ends with New York likely grabbing one of the Top 3 choices in the '06 Draft, the Chicago Bulls will have the honor of selecting the player. Unbelievable.

After that, I took a step I had never undertaken in the course of my fandom: I was walking away from one of my teams. My plan was rather simple. I would contact as many teams as I could via their web sites on, sending an email to the fan relations/marketing division expressing my sudden availability as a fan. I though about eBay, but couldn't decide how to make it work, since money would have to change hands and I didn't think any team would be that desperate. (Although I imagine Isiah might toss me a contract, but he's out of the running here).

I ended up contacting 19 teams (thus far), with the message below:

I am a lifelong New York Knicks fan. Well, I was, but no longer can tolerate the inept management and general joke the once proud franchise has become. Therefore, I am putting my loyalty up for grabs. Every team inthe NBA NOT residing in Madison Square Garden will receive correspondence from me, and the franchise which provides the best response will gain a new fan long as it doesn't hire Isiah Thomas at any point in time, in which case all bets are off.

This was risky, in that there are several franchises I absolutely can't stand (Lakers, Bulls, Celtics), but bound myself to my word: best response gets my rooting interest. Imagine my surprise when the first response I received, a few minutes after hitting send, was from the Boston Celtics. Gulp. Turned out to be an auto-reply. Phew.

So far, I've received 6 responses, some of them awesome. Minnesota offered gear, and tickets if I could schlep my butt to Minneapolis (in February/March?). Utah did as well.

I will set a deadline of March 15 for all responses, and will adhere to the terms of the deal. Admittedly, I'm awaiting a response from Mark Cuban, who I think would like nothing better than to stick it to the Knicks by publicly taking one of their fans. Nothing yet from Mark. I'll keep you all posted as this all plays out.

I think I should also be looking at the team structure as part of the equation. For example, how is the team currently managed? What is the cap situation? Roster balanced with good young guys and decent veterans, who could conceivably make a run in the post-season? That kind of stuff. Should be fun!