Tag Archives: Los Angeles Times

Otto Graham: The Greatest Pro Football Quarterback Ever

Ottobanner1 ottobanner21390174447012-USATSI-7685836The NFL conference championship games that were played today were as thrilling and satisfying a pair of gridiron contests as a football fan could desire. It was great to watch two veteran quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning face off for the AFC title – and then enjoy the next generation of star quarterbacks, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, do battle for the NFC crown.

otto-grahamHowever, in the lead-up to these games – and undoubtedly in the two-week media hype extravaganza that will precede the Super Bowl, there’s one thing that will bug the hell out of me.

In all the talk about Manning and Brady and Wilson and Kaepernick and the great quarterbacks of all time – there’s one name that won’t be mentioned.

It’s the one name that should always be mentioned.

Otto Graham.

A couple of months ago I was listening to sports talk radio host Colin Cowherd hosting a discussion of the greatest NFL quarterbacks on his morning radio show. Cowherd had the nerve to say he didn’t want to hear about guys like Otto Grahama who played in the “no face mask era”.

JETS DOLPHINS AFC CHAMPIONSHIPWell, Colin, here’s proof that Otto Graham wore a face mask in the NFL.

(Later in this post, I’ll show why Cowherd’s comment proves there’s an even deeper gash in his NFL football knowledge regarding Graham and face masks.)

imagesThen, last month, The Los Angeles Times ran an article by Mike DiGiovanna ranking the top 10 sports records that’ll never be broken. Candidates were chosen from professional sports, the Olympics and major college sports programs – and the writer limited his choices to records set from 1940 on.

Otto_GrahamBut DiGiovanna did not find a spot on his list for the most unbreakable professional sports record of all post-1940. It’s a record that will always be held by Otto Graham.

After his brilliant college career at Northwestern University was interrupted – and his professional career was delayed — by his service in the Navy during World War Two, the great Hall of Famer Otto Everett Graham, Jr. played 10 seasons of professional football for the Cleveland Browns – and took his team to the championship game all ten years!

otto-graham-brownsThat’s right, ten out of ten.

Let me say that again.

Otto Graham played 10 seasons of pro football for the Cleveland Browns – and took his team to the championship game all ten years!

And he won 7 of those 10 championship games.

Can you imagine a more unbreakable sports record?

13543826d76ec7bffd208f621ebdb2adFrom 1946 to 1949, Graham and The Browns dominated the All-America Football Conference. Then, they joined the NFL in 1950. Did Otto and his Browns struggle as an NFL expansion team? Hardly. They simply ran off an unprecedented and unequaled string of 6 straight NFL title game appearances from 1950 to 1955.

After that, the legendary Otto Graham retired as a player at the top of his game. (Just like another Browns legend, Jim Brown, would do in the following decade.)

tom-brady-bill-belichickjpg-95e8c0ab5d279e48_largeIt drives me crazy to hear otherwise intelligent and knowledgeable football pundits talk about Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick as perhaps the most successful quarterback and coach combo in NFL history.

Really?

Brady & Belichick? Oh, please…

otto-graham-1Paul Brown was coach of the Cleveland Browns during Graham’s entire career. Did Brady and Belichick get to the title game 10 seasons in row?

Okay, let’s throw out the AAFC years and stick to Brown and Graham’s NFL years. Have Brady & Belichick gotten to 6 NFL championship games in a row? And Brown & Graham won three of those title games, including Graham’s last game, the 1955 championship. Like I said, Otto Graham went out on top.

And, for all you stats geeks, consider this:

hof-grahamWith Graham at QB, the Browns posted a record of 114 wins, 20 losses and four ties, including a 9–3 playoff record. And while many of Graham’s records have been surpassed in the modern era — he still holds the NFL record for career average yards gained per pass attempt with 9 yards per attempt. That’s not 9 yards per pass completion – that’s 9 yards per pass attempt.

Basically, Otto Graham was good for a first down every time he threw the damn football.

otto-graham-signed-image-3Graham also holds the record for the highest career winning percentage for an NFL starting quarterback, at 0.814. If winning is the greatest measure of a pro quarterback – Otto Graham was better than Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady and all the others.

And he was tough as nails, Colin Cowherd.

In fact, Mr. Cowherd, for your information — Otto Graham played a role in ushering in the face mask era in pro football.

pro53chinOtto Graham led the Browns to 11 straight wins to start the 1953 season. (Their lone loss came in the season’s final game against the Philadelphia Eagles.) Late that season, in a game against the 49ers, Graham took a forearm to the face that opened a nasty, bloody gash it took 15 stitches to close. Was he done for the game?

No way. This was Otto Graham.

His helmet was fitted with a clear plastic face mask and he came back into the game — which The Browns won. Graham’s injury helped inspire the development of the modern face mask.

Browns HOF galleryAll right, I’ve had my say. Look it all up yourself. I’m tired of getting pissed off and wanting to throw things at the radio and TV when I hear all this yakking about the best NFL quarterbacks ever – and never any love for Otto Graham.

Now, onto the Super Bowl.

Peyton Manning is amazing. Russell Wilson is exciting. But Otto Graham was the best ever.

And I’d say that even if he weren’t a fellow Northwestern alumnus.00066

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A Day at the Races: Birthday Fun at Santa Anita Park.

Club House and Grand Stand Santa Anita, Los Angeles Turf Club ArcadiaDSC_6796 - 2013-02-16 at 14-12-58DSC_6805 - 2013-02-16 at 14-18-03(Color photos by Steve Stroud.)

Damon Runyon would have loved it: a splendid day at Santa Anita, the crown jewel of So Cal horse racing.

RUNYON-DAMON-PHOTOOf course, Runyon was a New City habitué, following the ponies at Aqueduct rather than the historic track at the foot of the mountains in Arcadia, California.

But the guys and dolls who gathered at The Turf Club to mark our great friend Jim Newton’s 50th birthday were the kind of colorful characters that Runyon would have loved to populate his classic stories.

It’s fitting that Runyon was a newspaperman, because “Gentleman Jim” Newton — and so many of our dear friends who joined us at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, February 16th — are journalists who have toiled at The Los Angeles Times.DSC_6914 - 2013-02-16 at 17-17-59

the-lemondrop-kid-bob-hope-william-frawleyIt felt a bit like a scene from Sorrowful Jones or The Lemon Drop Kid as this Pulitzer Prize-winning group of writers and reporters were soon turned into a bunch of rabid horseracing railbirds.

My wife Victoria, daughter and I were attending Santa Anita Park for the first time – nearly eight decades after the oldest racetrack in Southern California opened on Christmas Day 1934.
img_5288-dress-code-signMovie producer Hal Roach – the guy who brought us Laurel & Hardy and The Little Rascals – helped to open The Turf Club: the very same swanky section of the park that we gathered to celebrate Jim’s birthday.

We were all dressed appropriately for the venue — and ready for an afternoon of adventure at the track.

Carol "Lucky Lady" Stogsdil peruses the racing form in search of a winner.

Carol “Lucky Lady” Stogsdill peruses the racing form in search of a winner.

Henry "The Horse" Weinstein makes notes on his next wager.

Henry “The Horse” Weinstein makes notes on his next wager.

hollywood-park-inglewood-curtis-burnett-grantIn its glory days, Santa Anita attracted Hollywood luminaries including Betty Grable, Lana Turner, Jane Russell and Cary Grant. Bing Crosby and Al Jolson were among the stockholders. Spencer Tracy, Errol Flynn, and “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek have owned horses that raced at Santa Anita. (One of horses racing the day we were there is owned by pro golf great, Greg Norman.) Santa Anita was the place where, in 1940, the legendary racehorse Seabiscuit won the Santa Anita Handicap in his last start.

021912-opinions-history-internment-matsumoto-gallery-4-ss-662wOf course, historian Jim Newton was quick to inform me that from 1942 to 1944, Santa Anita Park was used by the U.S. government as a transport center for nearly 20,000 Japanese-Americans bound for internment camps like Manzanar in California’s Owens Valley.

Unlike those unfortunate internees during that infamous episode in Santa Anita’s history, we came to the racetrack voluntarily – and once we beheld the glorious view from the grandstand, gazing out across the exquisitely groomed grounds to that mountainous backdrop – it was hard to understand why, after more than 20 years of life in Los Angeles, we’d never been to Santa Anita before.DSC_6924 - 2013-02-16 at 17-54-54

Spending the day at The Turf Club made our Santa Anita experience even more special. You can’t find a better place to people-watch between races.

DSC_6807 - 2013-02-16 at 14-27-15Ordering a drink at the luxurious Turf Club bar or placing your bets at the club’s private wagering windows, it’s easy to conjure the excitement and glamour of Santa Anita’s heyday.

With its dress code strictly enforced and its aura of opulence and classic, old school charm, the Turf Club is a bastion of civilization in a rapidly changing time.

And then there are the horses.DSC_6734 - 2013-02-16 at 13-32-47

DSC_6749 - 2013-02-16 at 13-44-50Over the course of the 10 races that day, Victoria and I placed our wagers on thoroughbreds with names like God Of War, Smil’n From Above, Great Hot (an 8-1 shot that earned Victoria $80 on a $10 bet), Camille C, Jubilant Girl, Jesse’s Giacomo and Hard Buns.

DSC_6854 - 2013-02-16 at 14-50-43I should have bet on Judy In Disguise to win in the 8th race. My rock & roll instincts told me to go with the filly named after the 1968 hit song by John Fred and his Playboy Band (also covered by Gary Lewis & The Playboys later that same year) – but I second-guessed myself. Judy in Disguise won the race going away.

One of the horses was named Ghost of a Chance. C’mon. Really? How can you put your money down on a horse his owner calls a Ghost of a Chance?

By the time the last horse crossed the finish line, Victoria and I broke even betting on the ponies – but our day at races was a clear winner.

And here’s a sure bet.

It won’t be another two decades before we pay our next visit to Santa Anita Park.

Birthday boy Jim Newton celebrates a winner!

Birthday boy “Gentleman Jim” Newton celebrates a winner!

Our photographer, Steve "Shutter Bug" Stroud, at The Turf Club.

Our photographer friend, Steve “Shutter Bug” Stroud, at The Turf Club.

Our hosts, Jim & Karlene: the First Couple of Cool.

Our hosts, Jim & Karlene: the First Couple of Cool.

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Filed under Beauty, History, Sports

Why is Jonah Goldberg Featured in a Great American Newspaper?

goldgerg1originalHow does someone get to be a political pundit? How does someone become a political TV talking head? How does someone end up an opinion page columnist for The Los Angeles Times?

s-JONAH-GOLDBERG-largeRight wing tool Jonah Goldberg has managed to achieve that mass media trifecta. And, in Jonah’s woeful case, his advancement is a victory of nepotism and narrow thinking over intellectual capacity, wisdom and common sense.

Goldberg has somehow become a nationally syndicated political columnist and frequent TV pundit without ever having entertained a serious thought in his lead-lined head. But before we delve into the shallow and flimsy foolishness of his most recent LA Times column — let’s examine how young Jonah rose to his lofty, loony professional position.

Baby Jonah was born in March of 1969 – a year after the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and the onslaught the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. Whatever young Jonah learned about the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960’s he must have read about many years after those epochal events. And his perspective had to have been colored by his mommy, Lucianne Goldberg.

Yikes.

Portrait of Pussycat League Cofounders

Jonah’s mom is the blonde.

Long before she became infamous for promoting the Monica Lewinsky scandal, publisher Lucianne Goldberg was already up to no good. Her son Jonah was just a one-year old baby when Lucianne co-founded the “Pussycat League” – an organization dedicated to opposing the women’s liberation movement. Jonah turned three during the 1972 presidential campaign while his Machiavellian mom was covering George McGovern’s candidacy as a reporter for the Women’s News Service. Problem was, Lucianne was on leave of absence from the Women’s News Service at the time. (Maternity leave?)

tripp3a_111298ftwpLater, it was revealed that she was being paid to spy on McGovern and those traveling with him.

Right wing toolery and questionable journalism are literally mother’s milk to Jonah Goldberg.

jonah_goldberg_cover_Page_1_Image_0001.380Soon after Jonah graduated from college in 1991, his mom’s creepy right wing bonafides helped him land into a gig at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. He joined National Review as a contributing editor in 1998 and was asked to launch National Review Online. In an intellectually vacant universe dominated by know-nothing blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity — a college-boy, think-tank nerd like Jonah won a reputation as a deep thinker. Much like Paul Ryan (remember him?) was considered a “serious” thinker with respect to the nation’s budget and debt.

And now, Jonah regularly appears on The Los Angeles Times opinion page. What he writes is usually shallow, ill-considered, conservative dogmatic drivel. His column this week is a case in point.

Here’s Golberg’s latest column in The Los Angeles Times, along with my commentary IN BOLD CAPS:

Goldberg: Soldier Girl Blues

The decision to allow women in combat hasn’t stifled the debate.

By Jonah Goldberg — January 29, 2013

What if, during the presidential campaign, Mitt Romney had accused President Obama of wanting to let servicewomen serve in combat? After all, Obama had hinted as much in 2008. What would Obama’s response have been?

0_22_450_033109_han_jonahHERE WE GO — JONAH STARTS RIGHT OFF BY SETTING UP A STRAW MAN. MITT ROMNEY DIDN’T ACCUSE PRESIDENT OBAMA OF WANTING TO LET WOMEN SERVE IN COMBAT – IT WASN’T EVEN AN ISSUE IN THE 2012 ELECTION. BUT, OH MY, WHAT IF HE DID? (LET’S JUST IGNORE THE FACT THAT JOURNALISTIC JONAH DOESN’T BOTHER TO CITE OBAMA’S 2008 “HINT” ABOUT WOMEN IN COMBAT. WE’LL JUST TAKE HIS WEASEL WORD FOR IT.)

My hunch is that he would have accused Romney of practicing the “politics of division” or some such and denied it.

DownloadedFileBOOM! OUCH! JONAH LOWERS THE BOOM! HE GUESSES THAT IF ROMNEY HAD MADE AN ACCUSATION THAT HE ACTUALLY DIDN’T MAKE IN REAL LIFE – THEN OBAMA WOULD HAVE REPLIED IN A WAY THAT JONAH SIMPLY IMAGINES HE WOULD RESPOND. AND JONAH DOESN’T APPROVE! DID IT OCCUR TO JONAH THAT’S HE’S HAVING A FANTASY DEBATE WITH HIMSELF?

In any case, wouldn’t an open debate have been better than putting women into combat by fiat?

130125-women-in-combat-stay-classy-conservativesOH PLEASE, JONAH! DO YOU REALLY THINK OBAMA WAS THE GUY WHO “PUT WOMEN INTO COMBAT?” DIDN’T BUSH AND CHENEY ALREADY DO THAT? HAVE YOU READ THE HISTORY OF THE WARS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN, JONAH? HOW MANY WOMEN HAVE BEEN KILLED IN COMBAT ALREADY? THERE ARE NO FRONT LINES IN THESE WARS AND MANY A FEMALE GI HAS ALREADY COME HOME IN A BODY BAG. WOMEN JUST DON’T GET COMBAT PAY – AND THEY DON’T GET THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVANCEMENT THAT COME WITH COMBAT EXPERIENCE.

You’d think the folks who are always clamoring for a “national conversation” on this, that and the other thing would prefer to make a sweeping change after, you know, a national conversation.

Instead, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the change on his way out. And Panetta has been lionized even though it wasn’t really his decision to make. If the president didn’t want this to happen, it wouldn’t happen. Perhaps Obama let Panetta run with the idea, just in case it turned out to be a political fiasco.

images-1THIS IS A LOT OF ILL-INFORMED, WHOLE CLOTH CONJECTURE ON JONAH’S PART: TWO PARAGRAPHS OF COMPLETE NON-JOURNALISM. DID CUB REPORTER JONAH EVER TALK TO SECRETARY PANETTA – OR EVEN AN UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE (SPEAKING OFF THE RECORD IN THE SHADOWS OF A WASHINGTON PARKING GARAGE) — ABOUT HOW THIS DECISION WAS MADE? OR DID JONAH SIMPLY YANK ALL OF THIS SUPPOSITION OUT OF HIS RIGHT WING RECTUM?

The good news for Obama is that it hasn’t been. Absent any informed debate, polls support the idea.

130123223824-women-marines-afghanistan-story-topOHIGOD! A MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SUPPORT GENDER EQUALITY IN THE U.S MILITARY! HOW SHOCKING! I’M SORRY JONAH DIDN’T GET A CHANCE TO MODERATE “ANY INFORMED DEBATE” ON THE ISSUE. IF JONAH HAD BEEN THE NATIONAL DEBATE MODERATOR, WOULD THE AMERICAN PUBLIC HAVE REJECTED THE IDEA THAT WOMEN SHOULD SERVE IN COMBAT? I DOUBT JONAH’S POWER TO MOVE THE MATION’S CONSCIENCE. (SEE, I CAN RAISE STRAW MEN, TOO! IT’S EASY. I SIMPLY IMAGINE JONAH DOING SOMETHING – AND THEN I CAN CRITICIZE HIS ABILITY TO DO THE THING I IMAGINED HIM DOING!)

Indeed, the Republican Party has been shockingly restrained in even questioning what is a vastly bigger deal than the lifting of the half-ban on gays in the military — “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The mainstream media have celebrated the milestone and largely yawned at the skeptics.

Most lacking from the coverage is any attempt to explain how this will make combat units better at combat. Instead, we’re told that gender integration is necessary because without combat experience, it’s hard for women to get promoted.

women_military_cc_imgHERE, JONAH STARTS TO GET IN OVER HIS HEAD. HE WANTS TO APPEAR FAIR AND REASONABLE – BUT HIS PREDJUDICE IS CLEAR AND INESCAPABLE. IN THE NEXT FEW PASSAGES, HE STARTS TO SOUND A LOT LIKE THE INTOLERANT MORONS WHO ARGUED AGAINST BLACK SOLDIERS SERVING ALONGSIDE WHITE SOLDIERS IN COMBAT.

Lifting that glass ceiling is an understandable, even lofty desire. But what does it have to do with making the military better at fighting?

111YAWN. ANOTHER CODDLED, SILVER SPOON CONSERVATIVE CHICKEN HAWK SHARES WITH US HIS INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE OF HOW THE MILITARY WORKS. JONAH EVEN KNOWS MORE THAN A FORMER AIR FORCE INTELLIGENCE OFFICER.

My point isn’t that women should be kept out of all combat roles. Indeed, as many supporters of the move are quick to point out, women are already getting shot at. “In our male-centric viewpoint, we want to keep women from harm’s way,” Ric Epps a former Air Force intelligence officer who teaches political science, told this newspaper. “But … modern warfare has changed. There are no true front lines; the danger is everywhere, and women have already been there in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

True enough. But does anyone believe such changes are permanent? Will we never again have front lines? Or are the generals simply fighting the last war and projecting that experience out into the future?

Women In CombatIS JONAH SERIOULSLY CONJECTURING THAT THE WARS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN ARE OUTLIERS – AND THAT, IN THE FUTURE, WE’LL RETURN TO WARS WHERE THE FRONT LINES ARE CLEAR AND WELL-DEFINED? SINCE JONAH IS SO GOOD AT IMAGINING — WHAT WARS DOES HE IMAGINE. OUR BIG, SET PIECE WAR WITH CHINA? IS HE DREAMING OF OUR INVASION OF NORTH KOREA? OR IS HE CONTEMPLATING OUR INVASION OF IRAN — WHICH, OF COURSE, UNLIKE IRAQ OR AFGHANISTAN, WOULD HAVE CLEAR FRONT LINES, RIGHT? HAS JONAH EVER HEARD OF ASYMETRICAL WARFARE? GUERILLA WAR? INSURGENCY? OR IS HE STILL WISTFULLY WATCHING “SANDS OF IWO JIMA” AND “THE LONGEST DAY”?

Heck, if we’ll never have wars between standing armies again, we can really afford to cut the defense budget. Something tells me that’s not the conclusion the Pentagon wants us to draw.

toy-soldiersOH, GOOD LORD. WILL SOMEONE PLEASE TELL JONAH TO PUT HIS TOY SOLDIERS BACK IN THE BOX AND CRACK A BOOK ON MILITARY HISTORY? EVEN WARS BETWEEN STANDING ARMIES CAN DEGRADE INTO GUERILLA WAR AND INSURGENCY. SADDAM HUSSIEN HAD A STANDING ARMY IN IRAQ, REMEMBER? THEY JUST DIDN’T STAND VERY LONG AGAINST OUR INVASION. INSTEAD, THEY MELTED AWAY TO FIGHT IN CRAFTIER WAYS: TO DO THINGS LIKE BOMB AMERICAN MESS HALLS IN THE GREEN ZONE.

AND BTW, JONAH – YOU AND I BOTH KNOW THAT, GIVEN THE CLOUT OF THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX – WE COULD HAVE NO ENEMIES AND FACE THE PROSPECT OF ETERNAL PEACE – AND WE STILL WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCE THE PENTAGON BUDGET.

AR-710229995.jpg&maxw=350&title=1I CAN’T STAND ANYMORE OF GOLDBERG’S COLUMN, SO I’LL CUT TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH…

Obama’s decision hasn’t stifled the debate, it’s merely postponed it until the day Americans see large numbers of women coming home in body bags too.

WE’VE SEEN FEMALE SOLDIERS IN BODY BAGS ALREADY, JONAH. THAT’S WHY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND SECRETARY PANETTA ARE CHANGING THE POLICY – AND ACKNOWLEDGING THAT WOMEN ARE ALEADY SERVING IN COMBAT.

PLEASE, LOS ANGELES TIMES, CAN’T YOU JUST RUN ANOTHER FUNNY POLITICAL CARTOON IN PLACE OF THE BRAYING, BANAL WORK OF THIS HAREBRAINED HACK?

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Banal & Bankrupt Notions from the Squishy & Feckless Political Center: An Examination of the Weak, Useless, and (perhaps) Willfully Naive Thinking of Columnist Doyle McManus of The Los Angeles Times.

doylebanner 1Barack Obama Sworn In As U.S. President For A Second TermWithin days of President Barack Obama’s triumphant and stirring Second Inaugural Address, we were treated to a seemingly profound and thoughtful newspaper column by Los Angeles Times opinion writer, Doyle McManus, who gave us his sage and pointedly disappointed observations on the tone of Obama’s speech. Deeply serious Mr. McManus thought President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address should have struck a less partisan attitude. But who the hell is Doyle McManus? What is he thinking? Why is he such a naïve, right of center, post-partisan fetishist? And why should we just ignore what he writes?

6a00d8341c7de353ef0133f5907330970b-320wiDoyle McManus is a son of privilege. Born in 1952, the son of a San Francisco advertising executive, he graduated from Stanford University. A Fulbright scholar, Doyle attended the University of Brussels before joining The Los Angeles Times in 1978. Thirty years later The Tribune Company made him a columnist. Mr. McManus is an accomplished journalist — he’s covered every presidential election since 1984 — but he’s managed to keep his rose colored classes perched on the bridge of his centrist nose.

And his opinion of President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address is a gob of lukewarm spit.

Here’s middling, piddling, pusillanimous Doyle’s opinion column in The Los Angeles Times, along with my commentary IN BOLD CAPS:

Obama’s reach wasn’t long enough

By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

On the eve of Inauguration Day, White House political strategist David Plouffe promised that President Barack Obama’s inaugural address would include a call for bipartisan cooperation.

“He is going to say that our political system does not require us to resolve all of our differences or settle all of our disputes, but it is absolutely imperative that our leaders try and seek common ground,” Plouffe said on ABC.

But it was hard to find that outstretched hand in the inaugural speech Obama gave Monday.

mitch-mcconnell-make-obama-one-term-presidentREALLY, MR. DOYLE? DID YOU REALLY EXPECT THAT, AFTER REPUBLICAN SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL GREETED OBAMA’S FIRST INAUGURAL BIPARTISAN OVERTURE WITH A CLEARLY STATED DETERMINATION TO MAKE PRESIDENT OBAMA “A ONE TERM PRESIDENT”, THAT OBAMA WOULD STRETCH OUT HIS HAND TO HAVE IT BITTEN AGAIN?

In 19 minutes, Obama delivered an eloquent, powerful and often combative summary of his values as a progressive Democrat who believes that an activist federal government helps make America great.

And if there was any question about how ambitious an agenda Obama intends to pursue in his second term, the answer was clear: He’s going big, not small, just as he did in 2009.

The president listed a daunting series of priorities: a fiscal deal including tax reform, measures to reduce health care costs, a new immigration law, gun control and education reform. He made a point of promising progress on climate change, a priority he seemed to have abandoned during his difficult first term. He added full equality for gay Americans, an item that made its way onto his first-term agenda only through a campaign-year back door.

Obama knows that he will need to win some Republican votes, especially in the House, to accomplish any of those goals. But on Monday he chose to assert his electoral mandate rather than extend an olive branch.

0122-OBAMA-BOEHNER-sized.jpg_full_600AH, YES – THE OLIVE BRANCH! JUST HOW WILL EXTENDING AN OLIVE BRANCH – WHICH McCONNELL AND BOEHNER REJECTED DURING OBAMA’S LAST TERM – GET THESE NEANDERTHAL, TEA PARTY-DRIVEN REPUBLICANS TO MOVE FORWARD ON TAX REFORM, REDUCING HEALTH CARE COSTS, COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION LAW, GUN CONTROL AND EDUCATION REFORM – LET ALONE EQUALITY FOR GAY AMERICANS? ARE YOU SERIOUS, MR. McMANUS?

If there’s a second half of his strategy — a secret plan to help bring some Republicans to “yes” — the president is keeping it well hidden.

Most inaugural speeches are so anodyne — full of airy invocations of national unity and vague calls to greatness — that the words are forgotten by lunchtime. Not this one. It was a progressive’s call to arms.

1358788602_barack-obama-inauguration-speech-467OF COURSE IT WAS. IT WAS A MAJORITY OF AMERICANS – PROGRESSIVES, LIBERALS AND DEMOCRATS – WHO ELECTED HIM. AND HE WAS SPEAKING TO US – THE MAJORITY WHO ELECTED HIM AND WANT TO MOVE THE COUNRTY FORWARD. WHY DOES THAT SURPRISE YOU, MR. McMANUS?

“We have always understood that when times change, so must we,” Obama said, “that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges” (are you listening, Tea Party?) and “that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.

“A great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life’s worst hazards. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.”

And instead of gauzy invocations of common ground, Obama issued a series of surprisingly tart political zingers aimed, not so subtly, at his adversaries.

“Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it,” he said. “We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky or happiness for the few.

“We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”

He even took aim at Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee, who has derided recipients of federal benefits as “takers” rather than “makers.”

photoAMAZING! OBAMA ACTUALLY RE-STATED THE ARGUMENTS THAT WON HIM RE-ELECTION! MR. McMANUS SEEMS TO BE SHOCKED THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA WOULD ACTUALLY EMPHASIZE THE KEYS TO HIS VICTORY: CHAMPIONING THE 99% — AND PROTECTING FDR’S NEW DEAL SOCIAL SAFETY NET.

“The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security … do not make us a nation of takers,” he said.

Ryan, who was on the platform listening, took the high road with a statement that said: “We (have) strong disagreements over the direction of the country. But today we put those disagreements aside. Today we remember what we share in common.”

Privately, though, many Republicans were seething.

AP771916897310_620x350BOO HOO HOO. PAUL RYAN IS SEETHING. CRY ME A RIVER, McMANUS. CAN YOU IMAGINE ANYTHING OBAMA MIGHT HAVE SAID THAT WOULD HAVE PLACATED ANTI-NEW DEAL TEA PARTIERS LIKE RYAN? SPARE ME THEIR CROCODILE TEARS. 

It was a long way from the Barack Obama of 2009, the brash young idealist who promised to change the way Washington worked, seek post-partisan solutions and banish “the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long.”

2700349-president-barack-obama-2013-obama-inauguration-650-430IT WAS A LONG WAY FROM THE RELENTLESS PUNCHES THAT OBAMA TOOK IN THE FACE FROM THE GOP AFTER OFFERING AN OLIVE BRANCH IN HIS 2009 SPEECH. WERE YOU THERE, MR. McMANUS? DID YOU MISS PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FIRST ADMINISTRATION? WERE YOU SLEEPING THE PAST FOUR YEARS – AND JUST WOKE UP, IMAGINING YOU’RE IN POLITICAL FANTSASY LAND?

This year, instead of an outstretched hand, he delivered a slap. “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate,” he said.

Obama has been trying this more pugnacious approach since the November election, and it has undeniably made him more effective — so far. He forced Republicans to back down on income tax rates at the edge of the “fiscal cliff,” and he appears to have forced them to back down again on their threats to block an increase in the federal debt ceiling.

boehner-kelly-clarksonDUH. GETTING TOUGH WITH THESE GOP CLOWNS ACTUALLY WORKS. BECAUSE REPUBLICAN IDEAS ARE MORIBUND – AND THEIR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA IS DETRIMENTAL TO PROGRESS.

It’s impossible to blame any politician, even a president who once promised post-partisan hope and change, for surrendering to reality and doing what works. But it sure isn’t pretty, and, more important, it may not always be effective.

At some point, Obama is likely to need willing collaborators from the opposition — if he hopes to pass an immigration reform law, for example, or negotiate a long-term deal to reduce the deficit.

When that day comes, the president may find himself wishing he had devoted a few more words of his second inaugural address to offering an outstretched hand.

obama-inauguration-elite-dailyREALLY, DOYLE McMANUS? DESPITE ALL HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY, DO YOU TRULY BELIEVE THAT THE GOP CULTURE WARRIORS AND TAX FETISHISTS WERE GOING TO BE ASSUAGED BY OBAMA SPEAKING A FEW “MORE WORDS” IN THEIR FAVOR?

DO YOU TRULY BELIEVE THAT BOEHNER, RYAN, McCONNEL, RAND PAUL AND THE REST OF THE GOP WILL ACTUALLY RESPOND POSITIVELY TO OBAMA “OFFERING AN OUTSTRECHED HAND”?

IF SO, THEN DOYLE McMANUS — YOU ARE EITHER A COMPLETE FOOL OR SOMETHING MUCH, MUCH WORSE. 

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