Monthly Archives: October 2010

A New Day of Glory for the Great (you heard me right) Cleveland Browns!

On Sunday, October 24, 2010, the Cleveland Browns went to New Orleans and stunned the Saints with a 30-17 upset victory over the defending Super Bowl champs.

The Browns aggressive defense sacked Saints quarterback Drew Brees three times and pressured him into tossing four interceptions – two of which were returned for touchdowns by the Browns’ 33-year old veteran linebacker, David Bowens.

Bowens celebrated his second touchdown with perhaps the worst somersault into the end zone in NFL history. But Browns fans, starved for gridiron glory, nonetheless flipped for Bowens’ endearingly enthusiastic but awkward flop. We’ll take it.

And we’ll take the win.

That the downtrodden 2-5 Browns should knock off the celebrated New Orleans Saints was a shocking turn of events — but few NFL fans realize that Cleveland has now defeated the defending Super Bowl champs for the third straight season. That’s right, buddy. The Browns beat the NY Giants in 2008, our rival Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009, and now the Saints in 2010. Only seven NFL teams have scored that unlikely trifecta.

Once again, we’ll take it.

Browns fans have had precious few accomplishments to cherish since 1964 when Cleveland won its last NFL championship – back in the Mud and Ice Age before indoor stadiums and Super Bowls.

Full disclosure: I have a soft spot in my heart for the Saints because my father was born and raised in New Orleans. (Click here for that story.) Until recently, it has been my misfortune to suffer perennial heartbreak in both the AFC and NFC – and I’ve never had to worry about my two favorite teams meeting in a Super Bowl.

While living in Chicago in the mid-1980’s, I gleefully jumped aboard the Bears bruising bandwagon just in time to experience Sweetness, Iron Mike, the Punky QB, Refrigerator Perry and the Super Bowl Shuffle in 1985.

But that was borrowed glory.

So was the Saints Super Bowl championship last year.

Cleveland is my hometown — so I am first and foremost a Cleveland Browns fan.

To be a Browns fan (much like being a Cleveland Indians fan) is to swell with pride, imbued with memories of the club’s storied history.

The Browns dominated professional football in the postwar period, from the mid 1940’s to the early 60’s like no other team before or since. And while much of these laurels were earned before my birth in 1958, the Browns — led by the Greatest Football Player of All Time, Jim Brown — were still an NFL powerhouse in my youth.

I was six and a half years old on December 27, 1964 when Gary Collins caught three touchdown passes from Frank Ryan to defeat Johnny Unitas’ Baltimore Colts 27-0 and win the Browns’ fourth NFL championship in front 79,544 freezing but frenzied fans at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. It was the first NFL title game to be televised by CBS. That legendary victory was also the Browns high water mark.

My connection to that hallowed 1964 team was made even more personal by the fact that my varsity football coach at Cleveland Central Catholic High School, Stan Sczurek, appeared in 14 games for that ’64 Browns title team. I still remember seeing Coach Sczurek wearing his NFL championship ring. A two-way star at Purdue, Stan Sczurek was taken by the Browns in the 4th round of the 1962 draft and played in 34 games for Cleveland between ‘63 and ‘65 before being sent to the NY Giants in ’66. We didn’t win many football games at CCC, but I can always say that I played football for a guy who wore Browns jersey #38 in 1964.

The '64 Browns. That's Stan Sczurek 3rd from right, #38. (Behind #36)

For the next 46 years, golden memories of Otto Graham, Mac Speedie, Jim Brown, Ernie Green, Leroy Kelly and Paul Warfield have faded as the Browns have been buffeted by infamous moments of near greatness in the 1980’s, shamed by The Pass, The Drive, The Fumble, and the ignominious loss of the franchise when traitorous owner Art Modell announced that he was relocating the Browns to Baltimore for 1996 season. Modell literally absconded with the team in the middle of the night, bound ironically for the city we’d bested on that glorious December day in 1964.

Three seasons later, Cleveland got the Browns back. The team’s name, its colors, and its glorious stats and history were restored. But another decade of football frustration followed.

All you really need to know is that Cleveland is the only current NFL city whose franchise has neither played in, nor hosted, a Super Bowl.

Alas, it was not always so.

As Cleveland Browns supporters celebrate our team’s recent moment of upset glory in the Big Easy, it’s time to remind NFL fans of the hallowed history of the great Cleveland Browns, whose history makes lesser franchises like the Cowboys and Patriots look like Johnny-come-lately flashes-in-the-pan.

The great Paul Brown.

Founded in 1944 by owner Arthur ‘Mickey’ McBride and head coach Paul Brown (whom the fans voted to name the team after), the Browns began playing in 1946. At the time, Cleveland was also home to the 1945 NFL champion Cleveland Rams, whose star quarterback Bob Waterfield was married to movie star Jane Russell. The Rams left for Los Angeles before the Browns ever played a game. (I hate to brag again, but my high school athletic director, Len Janiak, played for the Cleveland Rams from 1940 to ‘42. It wasn’t until I got to high school and learned Len Janiak’s story that I knew why the football team at Rhodes High School in my neighborhood was called the Rams – and why their helmets looked just like the ones worn by Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones and the rest of LA’s Fearsome Foursome.)

Otto Graham & Coach Brown

From the start, the Browns dominated the new All-America Football Conference, winning all four league titles. In 1948 the Browns became the first pro football team to finish the season and playoffs unbeaten and untied: 24 years before the NFL’s first “perfect team”, the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

How good was that Browns team? They were so good the league had to break them up.

A young Y.A. Tittle

When The Browns’ ran up their undefeated streak to 29 games — including 18 straight victories – they were forced to give up the rights to some of their younger players, including the future Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle, who was sent to the Baltimore Colts in ‘48. (Why is it always Baltimore?) Can you imagine such a scenario today?

Before the decade was out, the Browns’ dominance led to the AAFC’s merger with the NFL. At the end of the 1949 season, the Browns, the 49ers and the Colts joined the NFL. The 1950 Browns wasted no time showing they were still the best – winning the NFL championship in their first year in the league.

Throughout this heady period, the Browns were led on the field by quarterback Otto Graham – who (I must brag again) played for my alma mater Northwestern University as a tailback, graduating with the school record of 2,938 total offensive yards, a record which stood until 1964. Head coach Paul Brown turned Graham into a quarterback in 1946 – and the rest became NFL Hall of Fame history.

Cleveland was the center of the football universe. In fact, in the 1950 championship game the Browns faced none other than the former Cleveland Rams, now located in Los Angeles. The Browns won 30-28 on a last-second field goal by Lou Groza. Lou “The Toe” Groza was still kicking game-winning field goals when I was a kid. Incredibly, Lou didn’t hang up his spikes until 1967. To young Browns fans like me, Lou was a living legend.

Lou’s teammates on those great Browns teams of the 1950’s crowd the Hall of Fame today: Otto Graham, Marion Motley (#76 at left), Dante Lavelli and Len Ford, among others. In 1951 and ’52, they reached the championship game and lost – and in ’53, after winning 11 straight games, they lost again in the NFL title game.

Willie Mays makes "The Catch" in '54 Series

Then in 1954, not long after the mighty Cleveland Indians (with their lofty 111-43 regular season record) suffered one of the most embarrassing defeats in the history of The World Series at the hands of Willie Mays and the NY Giants – the Browns reasserted their NFL dominance, crushing the Detroit Lions 56-10 in the NFL title game.

The Browns intercepted Lions quarterback Bobby Layne six times and forced three fumbles. Otto Graham tossed three touchdowns and ran for three more. The next year, the Browns won their third NFL championship, beating the former Cleveland Rams 38-14 in Los Angeles.

But it was the end of an era.

Suffering from injuries, the truly legendary Otto Graham retired after the ‘55 season. Thus ended the greatest run of success in the history of professional sports.

In their first decade as a franchise, the Cleveland Browns reached the championship game all ten years – and won the league title seven times. Even the vaunted New York Yankees have never done that. It’s safe to say no sports franchise will ever equal the record of the Cleveland Browns from 1946 to 1955.

That all happened before I was born. But something else happened the year before I was born.

Jim Brown.

In 1956 the post-Otto Graham Browns recorded the only losing season they would suffer in their first 28 seasons as a franchise. However, further football glory in Cleveland was assured in the ’57 NFL draft when the Browns took fullback Jim Brown out of Syracuse.

Jim Brown was the NFL’s leading rusher – and its Rookie of the Year — in ’57, grinding out 942 yards in a 12-game regular season. (NFL teams now play 16 regular season games, so 1,000-yard rushing seasons are common.) Brown led his team back to the NFL championship game for the 11th time in 12 seasons, but they lost to Detroit.

Jim Brown ran for 1,527 yards in ’58 — nearly twice as much as any other NFL running back. In ’59, he led the league again with 1,329 yards. And in 1960, Brown’s 1,257 yards were once again tops in the NFL — but the team still finished in second place at 8-3-1. With the greatest running back in the history of the game setting records that would never be broken, the Browns has still managed to miss the NFL championship three years in a row. It was unheard of. Something had to give. Enter Art Modell.

Art Modell & quarterback Frank Ryan

Modell bought the team in 1961, and that year Jim Brown led the league for a fifth consecutive season while the Browns finished two games out of a spot in the championship game. Relations between Modell and Coach Paul Brown deteriorated quickly.

Before the ’62 season started, without telling Modell, Paul Brown made a secret trade for the rights to another Syracuse running back, Ernie Davis — the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.

Tragically, Davis was stricken by a fatal form of leukemia and never played a down for the Browns. (Ernie Davis died in early ‘63.)

The ’62 Browns finished 7-6-1, and Jim Brown failed to lead the NFL in rushing yards for the only time in his career. Modell capped that dismal season by firing Paul Brown and replacing him with Brown’s assistant, Blanton Collier.

Jim Brown had his best season in 1963 with an NFL record 1,863 yards. Imagine that. That’s an average of 155 yards a game! But it wasn’t until ’64 that the Browns returned to their rightful place at the top of the NFL heap.

In the ’64 college draft, the Browns chose Ohio State receiver Paul Warfield in the first round, who immediately became their leading receiver, and the team used it 8th round pick to land Morgan State’s Leroy Kelly, a kick returner and running back who would eventually succeed Jim Brown. (Two future Hall of Famers in the same draft. Not bad, huh?)

Frank Ryan delivers the ball to Gary Collins during the glorious '64 season.

After the 1965 season in which Jim Brown was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player for the third time with 1,544 yards, the Browns lost the NFL Championship game 23-12 to Coach Vince Lombardi and quarterback Bart Starr’s Green Bay Packers in frozen Lambeau Field.

Then, suddenly and shockingly…

…the Browns lost Jim Brown.

In the summer of ‘66, the incomparable Jim Brown stunned the sports world by announcing his retirement from football.

Brown had been filming the now-classic World War II movie The Dirty Dozen in London – and, in an unprecedented move for an athlete of his caliber in the prime of his career — Jim Brown, the greatest player to ever step between the lines on a football field —  decided to “go out on top”.

There would be more thrills and glory to come, but the Cleveland Browns two incredible decades of pro football supremacy were over.

Two years later, led by Jim Brown’s stellar backfield successor, Leroy Kelly and the great Paul Warfield catching passes from quarterback Bill Nelsen, the Browns reached the 1968 NFL championship game against the Baltimore Colts. The Colts shut out the Browns 34-0 to go to Super Bowl III.

In 1969, the Browns offense was as potent as ever, as Nelsen threw for 2700 yards and 23 touchdowns to lead his team to a 10-3-1 record. Alas, the Browns lost the NFL championship game 27-7 to Joe Kapp and the Minnesota Vikings.  11 years old at the time, I was starting to feel the pain of playoff disappointment.

Warfield would go on to become a key weapon for the unbeaten '72 Dolphins.

After the gridiron heroics of the 1940’s and 1950’s — and the glory and near-glory of the 1960’s – the next four decades of Cleveland Browns football were more about frustration that exultation.

In 1970, the AFL-NFL merger put the Browns, Steelers and Colts in the new American Football Conference – and the trade of Paul Warfield to the Miami Dolphins for a draft choice to get Purdue quarterback Mike Phipps – were dual body blows to the once-proud franchise. After beating the New York Jets in the first Monday Night Football broadcast, the Browns stumbled through the season finishing 7–7. In fact, they would stumble through much of the next 40 years.

In the 1980, “The Kardiac Kids” wrote their fond footnote in Browns history.

Led by League MVP quarterback Brian Sipe, who passed for 4000 yards and 30 touchdowns, the resurgent Browns faced the Oakland Raiders in their first playoff game in eight years. Known for their late-game heroics, it was sadly ironic that The Kardiac Kids’ season ended in heartbreak on a play in the last minute of the game.

A play forever after infamous as “The Pass”.

On that fateful play, with the Browns trailing 14-12 on the Raiders’ 13 yard line — easily in range of a game-winning field goal — Coach Sam Rutigliano inexplicably called for a pass play “Red Right 88“. Sipe’s unnecessary pass into the end zone was intercepted. The Raiders won the game – and went on to win the Super Bowl.

In 1985, University of Miami quarterback and hometown boy, Bernie Kosar, was the Browns #1 draft pick and took over the starting job midway through the season. With Kosar under center, the Browns would reach the playoffs each of the next five seasons, getting to the AFC Championship game in three of those years. For the Browns, the Kosar years would be their last grasp at NFL glory. And they would be remembered for a bittersweet a series of stunning, heartrending defeats.

In 1986, with Kosar slinging the ball for 3,854 yards and a dominant defense manned by five Pro Bowlers (Chip Banks, Hanford Dixon, Bob Golic , Clay Matthews and Frank Minnifield), the Browns ran up the best record in the AFC, and advanced to the AFC Championship against the Denver Broncos in Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The Browns were defending a 7-point lead, and the Broncos were pinned on their own 2-yard line with 5:11 left to play.

Then, John Elway led his team on “The Drive“.

After taking the Broncos down the field, there were just 37 seconds on the clock when Elway threw a touchdown pass to tie the game at 20-20. Minutes later in overtime, 79,973 stupefied Browns fans watched in insufferable silence as the Broncos kicked a field goal to win the game.

The following year, the Browns looked like they were rolling to a championship again, led by eight Pro Bowlers: Kosar, Mack, Dixon, Golic, Minnifield, Clay Matthews, wide receiver Gerald McNeil and offensive lineman Cody Risien. The season culminated in Denver with a rematch against the Broncos for the AFC Championship.

This time, down by 3 points with 1:12 to go in the game, the Browns were on the Broncos’ 8-yard line, when Kosar handed off to his dependable warhorse, running back Earnest Byner — who rumbled toward the end zone.

It looked like game-winning touchdown for sure. Instead, Byner coughed up “The Fumble” – and the Broncos crushed the Browns title dreams again.

In the 22 years since “The Fumble”, Browns fans have had little to cheer about. In the years since  the Kardiac Kids and Kosar and company rattled our collective nerves, we’ve come to almost cherish the kind of late-game championship heartbreak we suffered in the 1980’s.

And then came last Sunday’s beat-down of the New Orleans Saints.

Damn, that felt good.

Could it be that the Cleveland Browns — one of the NFL’s greatest franchises — is poised for a return to glory?

After “The Pass”, “The Drive” and “The Fumble” – why not…

“The Comeback”?


Filed under Sports

Mid-Term Madness: The Top Ten

With the continuing misadventures of the Tea Party candidates, Election Season 2010 has, despite the efforts of Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show, entered the realm of Beyond Satire.

Radical policy positions that would have seemed extreme in any other election year – such as abolishing the Department of Education, ending Social Security, and requiring victims of rape and incest to give birth to their attackers’ progeny – are no longer confined to the far right wing of GOP politics. Given the Tea Party’s success in GOP primaries, it appears that anti-government dogma, anti-immigrant hysteria and Taliban-like anti-female and anti-gay social conservatism may become central planks in the mainstream Republican Party platform in 2012.

Of course, there’s also an undercurrent of creeping fascism — which is really creepy — but let’s stick with the outright crazy stuff for the moment. After all, even the more sane, sophisticated and relatively humorless right wing ideologues and corporate robber barons have to be stunned by the pageant of unskilled, unfettered, uneducated and unhinged campaigning on display in the run up to November 2, 2010.

In many states across the country, political aspirants with scant experience in public service who would have been considered fringe candidates in the past (if not the lunatic fringe) are now making national headlines on the campaign trail, in debates, and on the Sunday talk shows.

You’ve got to laugh to keep from crying.

Here, then, are some of the biggest jokes of the 2010 election. There have been so many wacky (actually quite scary) moments involving today’s kooky crop of candidates that it’s time to round up Mid-Term Madness: The Top Ten.

1. Aqua Buddha

Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul, a Republican darling of the Tea Party movement, had already raised eyebrows with many of his extreme anti-government positions, borne of his passion for novelist Ayn Rand’s everybody-for-themselves Objectivist philosophy. But if wanting to do away with public schools and Social Security didn’t brand Rand Paul a fringe candidate, what would Kentuckians make of accusations that, when he was in college, Rand Paul tied a woman up and forced her to bow down before the “Aqua Buddha”? (Which sounds, to me, a lot like some sort of exotic bong.)

The candidate’s still-anonymous accuser said he “took me out to this creek and made me worship Aqua Buddha.”

She added that the whole thing was so “weird” that she ended relations with Paul and his friends. But will Kentucky voters end their weird relationship with Rand Paul? In 2010, who can say?

2. “I’m Not A Witch”

Christine O’Donnell, Delaware’s Republican nominee and Sarah Palin’s endorsed Tea Party candidate for Joe Biden’s Senate seat, spent a lot of the 1990’s as a chirpy, sexy, conservative talking head on TV shows like Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect. As a result, Mr. Maher had a lot of video clips with which to torture O’Donnell’s candidacy, including her prudish crusade against masturbation and her startling admission that she “dabbled in witchcraft” while in high school.

The facts that O’Donnell has no real qualifications for high office, has lied about her education bona fides (no, she didn’t attend Cambridge) and can’t recall a single Supreme Court decision haven’t dampened her Tea Party support – but the witchcraft thing pricked the deaf ears of even the lowest-information Delaware voters.

As a result, O’Donnell had to spend good money on a statewide television ad to declare, “I’m not a witch.” (President Nixon must have been chuckling in his grave.) But the craziest part of the ad is when O’Donnell says, “I am you.”  Oh really, Christine? I don’t think so.

3. The SS Candidate

How to win friends and influence people?

Well, for one thing, don’t go around proudly dressed as in a Nazi uniform.

That’s what Republican Congressional nominee Rich Iott, whose district lies in my home state of Ohio, should have known. But, then again, parading around as a Nazi is such a good time, right?

Mr. Iott is a military history and reenactment buff who likes to parade around in a German Waffen SS uniform. (That’s Rich Iott dressed in Nazi drag in the picture at left. He’s the guy second from right. Far right, that is.) Candidate Iott also likes to participate in Nazi re-enactments. So, what’s wrong with that?

After all, Iott says his interest in Nazi Germany is historical and he doesn’t subscribe to Nazism – and some on the right wing have defended him, arguing that Iott also attends Civil War re-enactments in a Union army uniform.

The problem is that the Waffen SS were a particularly evil bunch of murderous rat bastards.

Unlike the conscripted citizen soldiers of the regular German Army (or Wehrmacht), the Waffen SS were a volunteer arm of the Nazi Party that enthusiastically committed countless war crimes and atrocities, including their prominent role in the slaughter of Jews and other “undesirables.” That should make Rich Iott undesirable as a Congressman from my home state. But will it?

Above is a photo of Rich in his jaunty Nazi cap, third from the right (wing).

4. Mr. Green (Does Not) Go To Washington

No state can outdo South Carolina for crazy. But what happened in the 2010 Democratic primary was absolutely nuts. Somehow, an unemployed 32-year-old Army veteran named Alvin Greene with no campaign funds, no posters and no website defeated a well-funded former judge and state legislator, Vic Rawl, for the right to oppose the incumbent GOP Senator Jim DeMint, another Tea Party darling. The mainstream media ignored the possibility of electronic vote tampering and dirty tricks leading to Greene’s election – but they couldn’t ignore how spectacularly unsuited and unprepared Greene was to campaign for, much less hold, a high office.

And if it wasn’t strange enough that a guy with no political experience, unemployed for nine months, somehow paid a $10,400 filing fee and all his other campaign expenses from his own personal funds – the sad, self-defeating saga of Alvin Greene got more bizarre when a Richland County grand jury indicted him for disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity (a felony) as well as a misdemeanor charge of communicating obscene materials to a person without consent.

According to prosecutors, Greene approached a female student in a University of South Carolina computer lab, showed her some obscene photos online, then talked about going to her dorm room. When a reporter from a local TV station pressed Greene to elaborate on the indictment, the accidental candidate told the reporter to “leave [his] property” and “go away.” Unlike Jim DeMint, I wish this whole sorry example of political dysfunction (and dog whistle race baiting) would go away.

5. Headless Bodies in the Arizona Desert

Batty, blustering Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s erratic reelection campaign has earned her two spots on this list. Brewer’s relentless demagoguery on the immigration issue and her support for Arizona Senate Bill 1070 (the “show me your papers” law) have made her a darling of the right in that troubled border state, despite the fact that she’s several bricks shy of a load. In fact, in her zeal to portray the threat from illegal immigration in as dire a light as possible, Brewer finally lost her head.

As Dana Milbank wrote in the July 11th edition of The Washington Post, “The Arizona governor, seemingly determined to repel every last tourist dollar from her pariah state, has sounded a new alarm about border violence. ‘Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded.’” She also mentioned “beheadings” on Fox News. (One can only imagine the cutting, incisive follow up questions from her Fox interlocutor.)  Two months later, with no evidence of any headless bodies littering the Arizona desert, and no law enforcement officials willing to back her claims, Governor Brewer conceded she “misspoke” when she claimed that headless bodies were found in her state’s desert. But her half-hearted semi-apologia came only after her Democratic opponent decapitated Brewer over her headless nonsense in their gubernatorial debate. And how did she handle the issue with the press immediately after the debate? You gotta see it to believe it.

6. Jan Brewer’s (Very) Long Pause

Jan Brewers absolutely stunning (actually, stunned) opening statement in the Arizona Gubernatorial Debate on September 1st must also be seen to be believed.

Only in wacky, way-out Elections Season 2010 could a politician possibly survive turning in a performance like this on a televised debate.

7. Carl Paladino

The New York Republican Party had planned to run former U.S. Representative Rick Lazio to become the Republican candidate for New York governor in the race against Democrat Andrew Cuomo, the son of the revered former Governor Mario Cuomo. Instead, thanks to the Tea Party’s clout in the NY primary, they got little-known businessman Carl Paladino.  According to Dick Brennan in The Queens Courier, “Paladino has been dubbed by some as ‘Crazy Carl,’ but the reality is that Paladino is crazy like a fox. Nobody can figure out his strategy, so why not just call him a nut? In fact, the multimillionaire from Buffalo is following a plan, and sticking to it with great discipline.It’s easy to see the first part of his program: hit and run politics, guerilla war, throw your bombs and run for cover. By bombs we mean politically incorrect statements, the more outrageous the better.”

Among the rhetorical bombs tossed by Paladino are his claims that students are being “brainwashed” into believing that the gay lifestyle is a valid option. (This from a guy whose son is the landlord for two gay bars.) Out of the blue, Paladino criticized the media for not asking completely unfounded questions about Cuomo’s marital fidelity. (Crazy Carl claimed to have evidence, but revealed none.) And then there’s Paladino’s penchant for off-color e-mails, like the video he sent to friends of Africans dancing in traditional dress that was titled “Obama Inauguration Rehearsal” – and the video he forwarded of a woman having sex with a horse. The Tea Party doesn’t seem to have the most vigorous vetting process, does it?

8. Sharron Angle

Did I mention that The Tea Party doesn’t seem to have the most vigorous vetting process?

Of all the Senate Democrats in trouble this election season, Harry Reid of Nevada looked like a soft target for the GOP this fall. Nevada’s economy has been devastated by the housing crisis and Harry Reid is, well, Harry Reid. A decent, stalwart, western Democrat – but not the most charismatic or inspirational politician one could hope for. (As a Californian, I see Harry as the Gray Davis of Nevada.) But, once again, The Tea Party insurgents blew up the GOP’s hope for an easy victory by nominating the most spectacularly unqualified, un-muzzled, and unbelievably obtuse candidate to contend against Reid: Sharron Angle, an ultra-right former member of the Nevada state legislature.

Daniel Kurtzman has listed “The 10 Most Ridiculous Sharron Angle Quotes (So Far)” at (and you should check them all out.) They don’t even include her recent suggestion that many of the Hispanic high school kids she was speaking to looked Asian to her. But here’s just a few…

“People ask me, ‘What are you going to do to develop jobs in your state?’ Well, that’s not my job as a U.S. senator.”

“The Federal Department of Education should be eliminated. The Department of Education is unconstitutional and should not be involved in education, at any level.”

And she said this to explain why she opposes abortion — even in cases of rape or incest. “I think that two wrongs don’t make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade.” Only amid the madness of Mid-Terms 2010 could such a fringe nutcase become Nevada’s junior Senator.

9. Joe Miller or Joe Stalin?

Ah, Alaska! The state the just keeps giving to satirists, cynics and those awaiting signs that the end of the world is upon us. Now the Tea Party voters of Alaska, with the endorsement of no less an authority on wacko, vacuous, right wing politics than Sarah Palin, have given us Joe Miller: he of the permanent five o’clock shadow – and shadowy ideas about how to govern our country. But you’d think that a candidate representing the party of St. Ronald Reagan, who famously stood before the Berlin Wall and uttered the words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” would be loathe to show admiration for Joe Stalin’s infamous Cold War barrier to freedom. Alas, in 2010, any strange thing is possible.

In fact, at a town hall meeting, GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller praised East Germany as a model for how the U.S. might defend its borders. According to Joe (that’s Miller, not Stalin, though I can understand the confusion), “East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow,” of cross-border traffic. “Now, obviously, other things there were involved,” Miller conceded, but… “We have the capacity, as a great nation, obviously, to secure our border. If East Germany could, we could.”

Of course, awful visions of barbed wire, machine guns and Checkpoint Charlie aside, Joe Miller fails to understand that the Berlin Wall was built to keep East Germans in – not to keep illegal immigrants out.

Can being such a wacko keep Joe Miller out of the Senate?

Let’s hope so.

A guy like Miller almost makes me want to write in M..u..r..k..o..w..s..k..i. Then again, now that this is a three-way race, the Democrat, former Sitka mayor Scott McAdams, just might sneak in. Provided Joe doesn’t build that wall to keep him out.

10. Sarah Palin as Tea Party Kingmaker

That’s all you need to know about the lunacy of Election 2010. A know-nothing former pageant princess, ex-mayor of a tiny town, failed Governor, failed Vice Presidential candidate and a woman who quit her job working for the people of Alaska to line her pockets at Fox News, TLC and anywhere they’ll pay her big bucks to speak – is somehow a Tea Party kingmaker, capable up upsetting the mainstream GOP applecart. It’s actually fun to watch. Just imagine how the relationship between Mitch McConnell and John McCain is going lately.

Thanks, Senator McCain. If you hadn’t chosen Sarah Palin as your running mate, the GOP might have had a good chance of taking the Senate in 2010. So you could say all this mid-term madness started with McCain.

No nutty deed goes unpunished. Especially in this election season.

And now, the dream GOP/Teas Party ticket for 2012…

Now, that would be truly beyond satire. (Oh, but we’d have to try, wouldn’t we?)


Filed under Politics

“The Vic & Paul Show” DVD

“The Vic & Paul Show” experience is now available on DVD, in classic early 1960’s black & white.  The entire show, from musical director Steve Rashid’s elegant and jazzy introduction to the passionate show-closing love tango between Antonin Scalia and Sonia Sotomayor can be yours for just $5.00. (Basically the cost of production and delivery.)

Host your own “Vic & Paul Show” house party this holiday season – or stuff someone’s Christmas stocking with more than an hour of music, merriment, and comic mayhem — written and performed in June 2010 at the Push Lounge in Woodland Hills, California by Paul Barrosse, Victoria Zielinski and Steve Rashid.


Allow a week or two for delivery.

“The Vic & Paul Show” was captured on camera by Robert “Robby Gandhi” Mendel, Rockin’ Ronny Crawford and Daniel “Yamo” Rashid — edited by Paul Barrosse.


Filed under Art, Beauty

A Ballot Box Ballad…

The Midnight Post of Progressive Paul

In 1860, as our Nation neared another Great Crisis in its history, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a stirring poem immortalizing the exploits of the Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere during our country’s first Hour of Great Crisis. Now, as a Lesser but Sill Great Crisis looms, allow me, with all apologies, to paraphrase that great American poet with the following ballot box ballad.

Listen, fellow voters, and hear the call

Of the midnight post of Progressive Paul

On the eighth of October, Two Thousand Ten;

Hardly a man must be reminded again

That Election Day looms twenty-six days in all.

In Delaware, Illinois, and up in Wisconsin,

Our foemen are gathered from out of the loony bin.

In Kentucky, Alaska and Harry’s Nevada,

The Tea Party GOP with ideas nada,

Are nonetheless poised for a hostile invasion

To turn backward the Progress of our Hopeful nation.

And Carly and Meg from their coffers untold,

Spend fortunes to see if my State can be sold.

In headlines, on TV, it’s easy to laugh

At the witch-dabbling jokes writ by Letterman’s staff

But the serious Consequence of all this madness,

Could add up this November to electoral sadness

And those who are safe and asleep in their bed

When a new morning breaks on that Day of Decision,

Must rise up and march to the polls with firm tread,

And join in the ranks of their Liberal kinsmen.

You know what can happen. In the books you have read,

How our previous enemies fired and fled,

How our Patriot heroes gave them ball for ball,

From behind each fence and farmyard wall.

Yet this time the Redcoats are deep in disguise,

With faux populist flags waving, stars in their eyes,

With pockets full-laden with Corporate gold,

Their secretly funded Ads, they fire and load.

So through this dark night writes Progressive Paul;

And so through the night goes his cry of “Awake”!

To every American city and state,

A cry of defiance – a rallying call,

A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,

And a blog post that shall echo forevermore!

(Or at least for the next 26 days…)

For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,

Through all our history, to the last,

In the days of darkness and peril and fog,

Lefties and Democrats rise to the call

Of the tapping computer keys of his blog,

And the midnight post of Progressive Paul.


Get out and Vote on November 2, folks! Hope & Change is up to Us.



Filed under Politics