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MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACKING

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First my condolences to Baltimore fans everywhere on the Ravens heartbreaking loss Sunday – and my apologies for exploiting it in this not so clever segue. A great effort, and whether one focuses in on the pass that Lee Evans couldn’t hold on to in the end zone or the last second field goal attempt shanked by Billy Cundiff, the Patriots still won 23-20. Monday morning quarterbacking allows us sports fanatics to let off some steam and even makes us feel better - a phenomenon we Chicago Cubs fans relearn year after year. But the bottom line, post-pontificating doesn’t change the end result, unless of course you’re a GOP presidential candidate and your name is Newt Gingrich.

In what can only be described as an old-fashioned ass-whupping, Gingrich won last weekend’s South Carolina Primary by an astounding 12 points. A week ago the thought of such a result was at best a pipe-dream, even among Gingrich disciples. Yet Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, recipient of $1.6 million from Freddie Mac and $10 million in PAC funds in the last three weeks from one source,(the Adelsons), adulterer and thrice married - somehow convinced South Carolina primary voters that he was a Washington outsider and a non big money, conservative, family values type of guy.

Newt accomplished this by first tapping into the “anger” of the South Carolinian electorate. Pick your topic or issue, Gingrich knows what’s wrong and he articulates the “problems” exceedingly well. Secondly – and here’s the magic - he’s also brilliant in historical hindsight. The quintessential Monday morning quarterback, Newt may make you feel better with his after the fact genius, but the end result is still the same. That he positions himself as the solution or even savior, all the more amazing, considering he’s a walking talking example of the problem.

Needless to say, former front runner Mitt Romney is reeling – besides South Carolina, he officially lost in Iowa and now his tax returns have been made public. (Unsurprisingly, the $20+ million Romney “earned” in each of the last two years was investment income not wages – not a bad gig if you can get it. My point is not to belittle Romney for the income, but rather question the “strategy” of making his wealth an issue.)

As evidenced by Monday night’s debate, Romney and his campaign team have decided to go “toe to toe” with Gingrich. In theory this is the right idea, but unfortunately in practice, slugging it out with Baby Huey may be simply above and beyond Romney’s capabilities. And to be fair, there aren’t many who could play and win with “Newt’s rules”. (Also attempting to list Newt’s faults in one breath – as Mitt attempted to do – is impossible. Nobody has that kind of lung capacity.) For as we’ve learned, Newt either makes things up or simply denies the historical past – all the while talking about how brilliant he is. What Romney does well is appear aloof and condescending, particularly with that spooky grin of his. And what he needs to do – just a suggestion mind you – is to goad Newt and then allow Huey to punch himself out.

One simple case in point, Gingrich’s highly lucrative connection to Freddie Mac and whatever self-designated role he assigned himself there – historian, consultant, grand pooh-bah or resident genius. According to Newt, he alone foresaw the mortgage default debacle and the ensuing financial crisis, yet no one listened to him – in fact no one seems to have heard him. And there’s the rub and Romney’s opportunity. Gingrich either didn’t predict the crisis or he did and was ignored. If he wants to point the finger of blame at all the folks on Capitol Hill he “talked to”, well that sounds a whole lot like lobbying. The point that Romney needs to make is that in a moment of crisis, “Leaders lead and they’re not ignored.” End of discussion.  Gingrich’s “Amazing Kreskin” moment is either fabricated or he couldn’t carry the day in preventing the mortgage disaster. Neither conclusion sounds very “transformational” to me, but rather very mundane.

If Newt sounds “good” on the campaign trail, well that’s his point. The man has been stumping for “savior of the world” for years now. Regardless of how much you “believe” of Mrs. Gingrich’s, (#2), interview from last week, the Newt quote, “People want to hear what I have to say. It doesn’t matter what I do.”, rings eerily true. Personally I never thought he’d go this far, but yet Newt’s still here – and rising. What I find most disconcerting – even downright scary – is that I am in full agreement with Ann Coulter, who thinks that Newt is not only unelectable, but unfit for office. Yikes!



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Comedy Clips of the Week

KEVIN SPACEY

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Producer, director, screenwriter and Oscar award winning actor Kevin Spacey Fowler was born on July 26, 1959 in South Orange, New Jersey. He has starred in such movies as The Usual Suspects, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, L.A. Confidential and American Beauty. One of his many talents is uncanny impersonations of famous people. The clip below is from Inside the Actors Studio as he runs through his repertoire for James Lipton. Highly entertaining and what a mind Mr. Spacey has.

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HERMAN CAIN IS A VERY FUNNY FELLOW….RIGHT!

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If nothing else Mr. Cain has a future in improvisational/sketch comedy.

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Sports

JESSE OWENS

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On August 3rd, 1936 Jesse Owens won the 100 meter sprint in the Summer Olympics held in Berlin. This was the first of his four Gold Medals, which included the Long Jump, 200 meter sprint and as a member of the 4x 100 meter relay team. A record that wasn’t equaled until Carl Lewis did it in 1984.

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JOHNNY EVERS

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Second baseman John Joseph Evers was born on July 21st, 1883.  Known as “The Crab” for his style of play in the field, Evers is also remembered as one of the smaller players to make it in the major leagues, weighing in at 100 lbs as a rookie and never topping out at more than 130 lbs during his career.

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Classic Movies

UNFORGIVEN

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Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Jaimz Woolvett and Saul Rubinek, the film Unforgiven premiered on August 7th, 1993. So often with classic movies the plot here is a simple one, an aging and retired Old West outlaw/gunslinger takes on one more “job” to avenge the brutal beating and disfigurement of a prostitute.

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HANG ‘EM HIGH

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Directed by Ted Post and starring Clint Eastwood, Inger Stevens, Ed Begley and Pat Hingle, the film Hang ‘Em High premiered on August 3rd, 1968. Fresh from filming the Dollars Trilogy with Sergio Leone in Europe and known to the American TV viewing public from his time on Rawhide, Clint made this movie – which really wasn’t much of a stretch. Playing a man wrongfully lynched – he’s rescued by a US Marshall just in the nick of time – Eastwood goes to work for the “local” judge, (Hingle), as a Marshall with the goal of “finding” the men who strung him up. This theme of frontier revenge/justice one that Clint would “revisit” several more times in his career. In this movie we meet Alan Hale, Jr. – the skipper from Gilligan’s Island – and a young Bruce Dern and Dennis Hopper. And even this early in his career Eastwood had an eye on the future; this movie was the first to be produced by Eastwood’s Malpaso Company.

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Dates In History

GULF OF TONKIN RESOLUTION

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On August 7, 1964 Congress passed what is now known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Lyndon Johnson “the power to take whatever actions he deems necessary to defend Southeast Asia, including the use of armed force.”  Although not a formal declaration of war, the Resolution was used by the Johnson Administration as the legal basis for the future conduct and escalation of the war in Vietnam.

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PT-109

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On August 2nd, 1943 the Patrol Torpedo boat skippered by future President John F. Kennedy was rammed and split in half by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri. The PT-109 sank within minutes taking two of its crew with it. The remaining 11 survivors grabbed what they could and began swimming the 3.5 miles to the deserted Plum Pudding Island - in the Pacific among the Solomon Islands. Two of the crew members were badly injured, Kennedy towing one to safety by taking the injured man’s life preserver strap in his teeth while swimming. The crew was rescued six days later after a coconut with the crew’s location carved into it was passed along to a Solomon local who passed it along to the US Navy. The coconut with its SOS message was preserved and adorned the JFK Oval Office as a paperweight.

 

Music

LOUIS ARMSTRONG

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One of the founders of jazz; musician, singer, entertainer, and trumpeter extraordinaire, Louis Daniel Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Much has been written and said about “Satchmo” – genius, friend to many but close to few, comical, optimistic – whatever – to appreciate the man and his legacy listen to his music. Louis Armstrong was one of a kind.

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ADAM DURITZ

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Lead singer and founding member of The Counting Crows, Adam Duritz was born on August 1st, 1964 in Baltimore, Maryland. The son of two Jewish doctors Adam admits he is “impersonating African-Jamaican”, starting with the dreadlock hair extensions. In articles I’ve read Adam described as morose, tortured, melancholy and pretentious. And maybe he is. All I know is that when he and his band mates get together and make music something happens and it’s a good thing. The Counting Crows are still one of the best bands to see live for my money.

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Political Clips

HUNTER S. THOMPSON

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Hunter S. Thompson, the father of gonzo journalism, counter-culturalist, iconoclast, and someone who seemingly took Richard Nixon’s existence on this earth personally, was born on July 18, 1937, in Louisville, Kentucky. He was a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone, it was his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that combined all that made Thompson either loved or reviled – Drugs, alcohol, guns and contempt for authority – as the protagonist and his attorney make their way through Sin City. His follow up book, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign trail ‘72, tracked that year’s Presidential election and Thompson’s ever growing hatred of President Nixon.

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NOT THAT JOE WALSH …THE CRAZY ONE

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I’ve mentioned our local (Illinois) collective Congressional embarrassment before –

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Crime

WILD BILL HICKOK

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On August 2nd, 1876, James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok was shot and killed while playing poker in a saloon in Deadwood, located in the Dakota Territory. Prior to his final stop in Deadwood, he’d been a Union soldier during the Civil War, specifically as a scout and a marksman. After the war he became a stagecoach driver and then a lawman in Nebraska and Kansas. After turning in his badge Hickcok had toured the East with Buffalo Bill and after giving an interview with Harper’s magazine was now famous as a gunslinger – Wild Bill claiming that he had killed at least 100 men. If the number seems preposterous, it should be noted no one argued with Hickok’s claim.

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PUBLIC ENEMY #1

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On the very warm Chicago evening of July 22, 1934, John Dillinger exited the Biograph Theater after watching “Manhattan Melodrama”, (a gangster movie), starring Clark Gable, William Powell and Myrna Loy. With Dillinger was his new girlfriend, Polly Hamilton, and her “landlady” Anna Sage—“The Lady in Red”—who was actually clad in orange that evening.

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