Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Indulge me in a little espn.com bashing.

This article by Patrick Hruby on ESPN.com bothered me. Mostly because it's riddled with inaccuracies and biases that'd get him laughed at on a shitty Free Republic thread.

Let's first address who Hruby is. I liked some of his NFL columns, but I was always a little suspect by the "Hruby is a sports columnist for the Washington Times". I guess everybody's gotta get paid, but a rag that spews reactionary, racist lies for a mad cultist and dictator armer ain't the place I'd go looking for good writers to poach. I know Hunter S. Thompson used to write some political stuff that'd annoy right-leaning readers, but I also think he usually had his facts right too. And sure, this column is kind of tongue in cheek, but if you make jokes about a cow's dick, you oughta call it a bull.


I cannot believe the editor allowed the first sentence in.

George Soros is a pot-endorsing, Bush-bashing billionaire.

Err... He's also an incredibly successful businessman, generous philanthropist, author, rags to riches story, etc. But let's focus on what Hruby says... Soros has contributed to legalization campaigns, but he's no Timothy Leary. The things I've read by him about weed talk almost exclusively in terms of the failure of the drug wars and the successes of weed as a medicine, which I will personally vouch for. I've seen Lyndon Larouche groups criticize Soros' stance on weed, but I can't get very far into it because of the anti-semitism and ignorance. As for Bush bashing, it's no secret that Soros disagrees with just about everything Bush has done. He wrote and paid for publicationof a full page ad against re-electing Bush. But if you actually read what he says, you see specific policy criticisms (which I'm not saying I agree with) and not personal attacks. This is just one example of bad argument making. Take a man's positions and characterize them as harshly as possible (or take the side of lunatics). Awesome job so far. But it gets worse.

Republicans say a Soros-owned team would send the wrong message, alienate Capitol Hill and generally presage the end of days, even more than gay marriage.
Democrats counter that politics and baseball don't mix, and that lawmakers should stick to more important matters. Like blocking presidential appointments.

Here's the root of the problem with the writer. Hruby requires the reader to have knowledge of and agree with ridiculous wingnut propaganda to figure out what he's writing. "Send the wrong message" only makes sense if all you know about Soros is drug legalization. Is $400,000,000 worth of philanthropic donations annually "sending the wrong message"? And how would a part owner of a baseball team "alienate" Capitol Hill? Of course the sarcastic "blocking presidential appointments" deserves its own paragraph but my head keeps spinning thinking about what an ignorant statement it is. Blocking incompetent and corrupt appointments is kind of important (whether it's Democrats or Republicans doing it). Now, repeating groupthink might be fine if you're some D-list blogger who has like 4 readers. But I don't think it's OK for a paid writer for one of the biggest websites in the world.

On the plus side, no one has invoked the Nazis, Hitler or the Holocaust. Not yet, at least.

Not so fast, Gonzalez. And at that, doesn't the quote from Rep. Davis smack of anti-semitism too? "Not the sort of fellow" we need in Washington? Especially when the former-Bush partner, Republican donor, rival bidder for the Nationals is the guy Nixon went to to eradicate Jews from the FBI...

Then Hruby matches up two thinly veiled threats at MLB and Soros by Republicans against a Democrat saying that what the Republicans are saying is ridiculous, and Hruby calls it "partisan feces-throwing." Head throbbing. OK, let's use a metaphor. Let's say Democrats proposed, building a bridge to the moon built with the bones of Mexicans executed trying to sneak into our borders. If Republicans opposed this because they'd prefer Chinese immigrants and refused to pass the bill, it might arguably be partisan sniping. But if the Republicans in the metaphor responded with "We shouldn't do that because it's absolutely ridiculous, wrongheaded and illegal," it's not partisan feces throwing. It's called intelligent governing. This is just another example of writers feeling like they have to say "Some say this, while others say that..." when it'd probably take fewer words to say "one group are acting like eight year olds in a sandbox, while others are calling them on it."

And from there on, it descends into terrible jokes, mixed metaphors and struggling sarcasm.

Namely, what's the point of being in charge if you can't throw your weight around? Or stick your schnoz where it doesn't belong?
Richard Nixon once drew up a play for Miami coach Don Shula to use in the Super Bowl. Ralph Nader publicly called on the NBA to review the officiating in a Lakers-Kings playoff game.
Just last week, a House committee approved separate bills to regulate boxing, steroid testing and Maria Sharapova's grunting. One of those is made up. Still, the fact remains that our duly-elected representatives meddle in athletics all the time.
Hey, Congress cleared up the steroid problem. Why not the Nationals' ownership bidding?And I, for one, welcome our political sports overlords.

So is it good to abuse power or not? I don't really see anything wrong with Nixon's play. I'd say Nader's complaint might be the only thing in the last 10 years I've agreed with Nader on. Government has been regulating boxing for centuries. And I think the steroids thing might be the only thing Bush has mentioned in the state of the union that the majority of the American people still agree with him on.

Hruby's paragraph long jokes on No Child Left Behind and NAFTA make no sense, in political or sports terms. And his CIA/Vlad Putin bit could've added Putin's KGB background (it's only been in just about every article about the purloined ring). Jay Leno would refuse to say the Freedom Fries and Oprah bit. Seriously. And the Tom Cruise thing has been written by every 4th grader with internet access.

Hruby links to the Pig Book, which is fine, I guess. I sort of wish he'd have said which party controls the budget drafting, debate, committee decisions, conference reconciliation, and approval power. But then again, if Hruby had written it, he'd probably have to clean the shitters at several mass weddings to get back in good graces.

But here's the thing that annoys me the most. Hruby follows the mythmaking and calls Ronald Reagan a "tax-slashing" president. Reagan did cut taxes in his first year in office, 1981. It was such a spectacular budgetary failure that he was forced to raise taxes immediately in response in 1982. He rolled back corporate taxes and income taxes. As a percentage of GDP, Reagan's '82 increase was larger than crazy tax and spend Clinton's 1993 tax increase. Then Hruby says how naming the Washington Airport after Reagan "ought to be enough". I've said this before to many people. Name bridges, theatres, schools, anything after Reagan. But the one thing that they should not name after Reagan is an airport. He tore up too many families when he fired the air traffic controllers.

But back to Hruby's awful writing...

Should a new era of federal sport oversight come to pass, critics surely will lambaste it as a dangerous step toward totalitarian government. I say au contraire. Bush is a former baseball owner. Representative Tom Osborne (R-NE) coached Nebraska football. In recent years, Congress has passed resolutions honoring John Stockton, Roger Clemens and the San Jose Earthquakes, as well as one authorizing the use of force against Iraq. Open your eyes: the sports-politics complex already exists. We are through the looking glass.

I guess when someone does something before they go into politics, it's the same as intrusive federal regulation of that something. I'm sure he had to think "I can't be this stupid" while he wrote this paragraph. And resolutions honoring people is also totalitarian. I'm surprised he didn't compare invitations for photo ops at the White House to Gitmo.

We are through the looking glass. Absolute idiots get paid to write for a living.

And as an antiseptic for the "it was satire" argument, yeah, but satire is supposed to have a point, and y'know, be funny. This article sucked bad. The editors never should've let this go on Page 2. And Patrick Hruby has proven himself a douche too.

For an actually intelligent take on the Soros/Nationals thing, see Sally Jenkins' article in the Washington Post. I agree with just about all of it. Especially the mocking of Tom Davis' petulance.

And now I'll go back to writing about movies and commercials and all kinds of crazy shit.