Go Your Own Nay

Wiz

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE — Let the oddsmakers make their odds.

Let the doubters doubt.

Let the naysayers nay.

Let the Nick Foles haters hate.

Let the national networks do their little human interest features on players from other teams.

They neither have the Eagles pegged nor right where they want them.

They have the Eagles right where they need to be – the No. 1 seed, playing at home in a championship game against the second-seeded Minnesota Vikings.

Chips on shoulders aside, there are several reasons for optimism heading into Sunday night’s game, the outcome of which will determine if the Eagles will go to the third Super Bowl in their history.

Let us count the ways:

In Through the Outdoor: While the forecast does not call for the same kind of bitter cold that served as the backdrop for the 15-10 win against the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, the game will still be played outside and not in the cushy temperature-controlled environment in which the Vikings played 11 of theirs games, counting playoffs (10-1 inside).

Plus, with kickoff coming at 6:40, there should still be a chill in the air – and enough of a wind to affect kicks and punts and passes that it will be felt, even if it is not to the extreme.

This is not to say the Vikings are ill-equipped to play outside. These are professional athletes, and the No-Dome Syndrome might have been more of an issue with a high-octane team like the Saints, who were defeated last Sunday by the Vikings on a miracle heave-ho from quarterback Case Keenum (1-4 on the road against teams with winning percentages of .666 or better) to Stefon Diggs (getting behind a safety not named Malcolm Jenkins).

The Vikings, like the Eagles, play stifling defense and effective offense. However, it should be noted that their defense is not quite as prone to stifledom on the road, where they give up just under 20 points per game. They pitched one road shutout – in Green Bay – but that was with Brett Hundley quarterbacking the Packers. Take that out, and they are giving up 22 points per game.

For as maligned as Philadelphia fans are for throwing snowballs at Santa Claus around the time of the American Revolution, they will be bringing the noise to back a defense that has been stifling at home.

Wiz With: There was a lot of worried talk – maybe too much, in retrospect – when MVP candidate Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending knee injury. Even though Nick Foles guided them to a crucial victory against the playoff-bound Rams in Los Angeles (playoff spot clinched) and then looked like his 2013 version against the lowly Giants (division clinched), the haters started hating after a forgettable performance in a win over the Raiders (home field advantage clinched) before not getting out of his funk in a cameo against Dallas.

Reality is that football is the ultimate team game, even when you lose your franchise quarterback. While the game plans were purposefully vanilla against the Raiders (a risk that almost backfired) and the Dallas in a glorified preseason game, other players were not on the field as well.

Let’s focus on one in particular: left guard Stefen Wisniewski, who was out of the lineup for the Giants and Raiders games before coming back for a few “timing” snaps against Dallas.

The unsung hero of the line, whose assertion into the starting five instead of Isaac Seumalo seemed to make the difference in the offense, Wisniewski used the bye that Foles helped earn to be back in midseason form against the Falcons. Result? Left tackle Hal Vaitai was more stable, while center Jason Kelce – a finesse pivot who thrives between physical guards like Wisniewski and Brandon Brooks – played outstanding.

Against a stellar Vikings’ front line, featuring a defensive end in Everson Griffen (13 sacks), who will likely big looking to take advantage of Vatai, the presence of a healthy Wisniewski – instead of Seumalo or Chance Warmack – is not as sexy to talk about as a receiver-corner showdown, but it’s vital. Games are still won and lost upfront. That’s why these two teams are still playing.

Second Helping: In many ways, if you break it down, last week’s meeting with the Falcons was more daunting, and it was more understandable that the Eagles were underdogs. Atlanta was the defending NFC champions and really made blowing a Super Bowl into an art form. It was a team that had been there, with something to prove, and had the hot hand. Conversely, the Eagles were loaded with players in their first NFL playoff game. Combine that with the layoff, and it could have spelled doom. Instead, the Falcons scored all 10 of their points off turnovers (a field goal after a Jay Ajayi fumble and their only touchdown following a fluke where a “poison” punt seemed intent on ricocheting of every guy in a green uniform). With that first experience in the books, and all the rust shaken off, the Eagles will go in relatively healthy and raring to go.

Celluloid Heroes and Zeroes: The Eagles have likely been scouting the Vikings for a while now, and vice-versa, but they couldn’t ask for a better game film to look at than last week’s miracle win against New Orleans. They get to study the Vikings (two of their losses outside) looking flawless in the first, looking flawed in the second as they blew their seemingly insurmountable lead, only to reclaim it on a play that will not only never happen again for a long time, but might have them in a psychological mode where the way they won syphoned a lot of gas in the tank. The emotional needle could be close to E on Sunday. The Vikings are talking about the walk-off touchdown more than they are the Eagles. It’s not a knock on the talent level, as nobody gets this far without a lot of it, but it is still a game of emotion. The Eagles’ win over the Falcons was a more businesslike win in a defensive slugfest.

History is Our Story: As mentioned earlier, as the No. 1 seed at home, the Eagles are on the right side of a 28-12 record. They are also 4-0 as home underdogs. In their history, they are 3-0 against the Vikings in the playoffs. Most notable are home wins in 1981 (1980 postseason) and 2005 (2004 postseason), which ended with the Eagles in the Super Bowl. In 2005, they beat the Vikings (27-14) and then the Falcons. Will it be the inverse order this time around? The oddsmakers, naysayers, self-proclaimed experts and Nick Foles haters all say no. But a lot of signs point the other way as well.

This analysis originally appeared at http://www.phillyphanatics.com

Powerless Empowerment

LisaMossie

By LISA MOSSIE

I can’t think of a better metaphor for the shallowness of our political culture than the recent Golden Globes Awards show.  We’ll get back to the “President Oprah” moment in a bit, but first, let’s look at “Time’s Up,” which was launched by Hollywood Starlets dressing in black to “raise awareness” on an issue about which they were all already aware.  The irony of these starlets protesting their objectification by wearing the most revealing of outfits was apparently lost on most observers. But let’s hear those women roar, right?

If 2018 is finally going to be the often promised “Year of the Woman,” then let’s hope it evolves into something deeper than its flimsy window-dressing beginnings.

Nowhere is the shallowness of this movement more effectively illustrated than in my own township of Upper Providence, Montgomery County.  As one of the Republican candidates for Supervisor in my township, I knocked on thousands of doors.  I was getting very positive responses during my canvassing, until about two weeks before Election Day.  It was then that undecided women who answered the door started telling me that they “would love to vote for me,” but they couldn’t vote for a Republican.  They “had to send a message.”  These words were repeated verbatim at several stops, and then again on Election Day at the polls.

“I’m sorry, but I have to send a message.”

Presumably, that message was to Trump, who was not, to my knowledge, on the ballot in my township.

Nevertheless, they persisted.  The Democrats’ impressive Get Out The Vote apparatus was deployed with a vengeance in Upper Providence.  We watched as visibly angry women marched literally by the dozens to “send a message” to Trump and the patriarchal Republican Party by electing instead Democrats Laurie Higgins and Helen Calci, two politically unknown women, and John Pearson, a two-term Democrat retread.

Vive la Resistance!

Well, maybe not.  The top vote getter was Laurie Higgins and she worked hard for it.  As her opponent, I can only respect the enthusiasm and long hours she put in to campaigning; she may even have knocked on more doors than I did.  Flying mostly solo, but sometimes accompanied by other local Democrat women, Higgins reported her daily door knocking efforts on Facebook while noting on several occasions that John Pearson was back at his place of business, a bar that they called their campaign headquarters, “holding down the fort.”  One would assume for her efforts, if not for her vote totals, that Laurie Higgins would have been elected Chairman of the Board, and if not that, at least Vice Chairman.  She certainly earned it.

So how to explain the fact that not only does Higgins holds no leadership position on the Board whatsoever, but that a vocal Trump-supporter and active participant in the Trump Campaign, Republican Al Vagnozzi, is Vice Chairman to John Pearson’s Chairman?  How to explain that Jim White, a Montgomery County Republican Committee member until literally just days before the election, an RNC delegate and one of the Trumpiest of Trump supporters in Upper Providence, gets the appointment to Chair the vacancy board?  The newly elected Democrats did the Montgomery County Republican Committee a further good turn in keeping the solicitors’ position with Dischell Bartle Dooley.

Is this the female empowerment “message” angry Democrat women wanted to send?  If so, I’m afraid it got a little muddled in the translation because from where I’m sitting, it looks like the patriarchy is still running the show.

You’ve been had, ladies.  And it’s not just Republicans who’ve been taking advantage of you.  Admittedly, my Township is the exception, which was a true bipartisan effort.  Typically, there is not this much of the political chess board exposed to the electorate. The tale of the vote totals shows only one Republican was supposed to make it across the finish line, keeping the Republican majority intact in Upper Providence, which probably would have happened but for the effectiveness of the Democrats GOTV efforts and the depth of Trump anger.  Because when the Democrats take over in Montgomery County, it’s usually simply to hand over the keys of power to a Democrat solicitor, like Sean Kilkenny or Jason Salus, two Democrats who are collecting control of Montgomery County Municipalities like kids collect Pokemon.

But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Democrat-led movements such as Indivisible and Emerge are looking to duplicate the overwhelming successes of 2017 and are now recruiting women to run for PA State Senate and Representative. It seems the only qualifications for candidacy are lady parts and the ability to hit as many feminist talking points as possible.  Katie Muth, a candidate for PA Senate District 44 announced her candidacy by telling her real “Life of Julia” story:  she proudly talks about how she is a “product of public resources” and about her personal need for easy access to abortion.  Sarah Campbell-Szymanski, a candidate for State Rep in PA 150, takes the feminist box checking to a new level:  not only does the blue-haired candidate talk about her “almost” abortion, but the married, unemployed mother-of-one has also decided to run as an openly bisexual candidate.  Mary Jo Daley, the current State Rep for PA 148, dyed a blue streak in her hair to show solidarity with Sarah. And remain relevant.

To be fair, I don’t think any of these political novices know what awaits them after election.  I am sure they are being given every encouragement by the Democrat party while it works to keep their women voters in a constant low state of Trump-induced agitation.

None of this is about putting women in power; it’s about capitalizing on a newly “woke” voting block so that the folks who are already wielding power can solidify or increase their hold thereof.  They are effectively manipulating women to do it. And they will continue to manipulate them as long as they can keep Democrat women angry and engaged enough to vote Democrat, but not so engaged as they take the time to look beyond the hashtag social media activism and an annual pink-pussy hat march.

Point being, we are not electing ideological leaders or change agents; that would change the balance of power and those in power promoting these candidates like the power structure just fine where it is, thank you very much.  This is about electing placeholders who will cede power to anointed party leaders, unelected appointees and backroom deal makers or face defeat in their next election.  It takes a little bit more than donning a pink hat and baring your soul on Twitter with your #metoo moment to be successful in politics.  But more importantly, it takes an electorate willing to invest time and effort to educating themselves beyond the flimsy window dressing to distinguish real leadership from malleable ingénues with a positive electability quotient.

So a President Oprah is not all that farfetched.  As long as she wears black at the proper awards functions and speaks the right platitudes to the sisterhood, why not elect her?  It’s not like her lack of policy knowledge or experience really matter.  It’s not like her devotion to quack medicine or fad diets make her any more or less unqualified than anyone else.  She’s a woman.  She says the right things to women.  She has a following.  She can win.  She is the perfect candidate for this moment in time.  Why not elect her?

She’s not going to be running anything, anyway.

Feeling For Foles

Nick-Foles-2

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE — All across the nation, there are young boys – and probably some young ladies, too – dreaming of being an NFL quarterback.

Reality often squashes those dreams. If they are lucky, maybe they get to run the scout team in high school and parlay that skill into quarterbacking the flag football team for their frat in college.

End of the day, there are NFL-level jobs for 32 of the trillions to start, and another group to either back them up or hang on a practice squad with as much job security as seasonal help for a department store about to declare bankruptcy.

The opportunity to be under center for a playoff game only enhances the aforementioned dream.

All that said, when Nick Foles sits back in the shotgun for the first time in the Eagles’ Divisional Round Playoff game one week from Saturday, no one should want to be in his spikes.

Unless the Eagles win it all, it will be all his fault. And if he pulls a Jeff Hostetler and wins it all like “Hoss” did in Super Bowl XXV for the Giants, it will be portrayed as the Eagles doing it in spite of him.

It’s neither fair nor accurate.

In 2013, when Foles threw 27 touchdown passes against two interceptions while ringing up an outer-worldly 119.2 QB Rating and winning MVP of the Pro Bowl, he immediately became saddled with the label as “the guy who will never do that again” instead of “he may not do that again, but we’re OK if he comes close.”

Meanwhile, the league is full with quarterbacks getting multiple opportunities to play based upon the pipedream that they can “do that” just once.

As the postseason approaches, it is time for a serious reality check.

Even before wunderkind Carson Wentz was lost for the season with a knee injury, the realistic perspective from the “thinking” part of the media and fan base was that he gave them a chance – key word being “chance” – to bring the Eagles Nation its first championship since 1960 and the first in the Super Bowl era. The hoisting of the Lombardi Trophy was far from a foregone conclusion, with the nailing down of a first-round bye and the home field advantage being seen as a major step in the right direction.

It may not have been pretty, but Foles kept that train on the tracks.

If pretty is what you want from Foles, you are going to be disappointed. If you want a guy who finds a way to win, even if it is by virtue of avoiding finding a way to lose, Foles fits the bill.

By the numbers

In 2012, as a rookie on a hideous team in Andy Reid’s final season, Foles started the last six games and was 1-5. Throw that out the window – as you should, considering the implosion going on around him – and he is 21-12 for his career.

In 2015, after being sent to the St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams, Foles was 4-7. He was replaced by Case Keenum, who went 3-2 but was still sent into exile after going 4-5 as a placeholder for Jared Goff last season.

Ironically, it is quite possible Foles and Keenum – now quarterbacking the Vikings after Sam Bradford (the guy traded here for Foles from the Rams before the Eagles traded Bradford to Minnesota for first-round pick that turned into promising defensive end Derek Barnett) – could match up in the NFC Championship Game at the Linc. That scenario is getting too far ahead of ourselves, but it would kick more dirt on the legacy of former Rams’ coach Jeff Fisher, who clearly stayed in the game well past his expiration date.

If you’d like to see the glass as half-full, we can throw out Foles’ 4-7 mark with the Rams, too. To be fair, we can subtract his 1-0 record starting last year for Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs. And we won’t even subtract the loss after playing less than a half in the season-ending loss to Dallas. This leaves us with Foles’ record as a starter, not counting his stoic-under-fire rookie season, as 16-5 in an Eagles’ uniform.

And yet, with winning being all that matters, he has gone from St. Nick status to the Grinch status while still keeping the Eagles in position to do what has not been done in most our lifetimes.

He may not have left a highlight reel under the tree, but we unwrapped a crucial first-round bye to rejuvenate the team and then the chance to play two home games before likely meeting New England or Pittsburgh in the Big Dance in Minneapolis.

Home teams only win at a rate slightly above .500 in the wild card round, but that percentage goes up over .600 in the divisional and championship rounds, so we are talking about substantial steps toward the ultimate goal.

Did Foles do it alone? No, not all.

He’s not Carson Wentz. He won’t strap a team on his back and will it to victory. He won’t avoid three sacks on a third-and-12 and turn it into a 20-yard gain to spark a scoring drive. He doesn’t have the athleticism that makes the Eagles impossible to stop in the Red Zone.

But Wentz will be the first one to tell you he wasn’t doing it alone, either.

It will take a village

What would be your reaction if a crystal ball revealed Foles’ two-game playoff stats as follows: 26 completions in 67 attempts for 281 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions?

You would not be expecting the Eagles to be in the Super Bowl, but those are the exact numbers Ron Jaworski put up for the Eagles – with “Jaws” throwing three picks in the Eagles’ 27-10 loss to the Raiders in Super Bowl XV.

They still got there, with others filling the void on what were tough days, weather-wise, to throw.

The feeling here is that you should be less worried about Nick Foles and more worried about left tackle Halapoulivaati Vatai and his ability to stave off what will likely being the opposition’s best defensive end and/or blitzes. He will be targeted, and it would be a shame to lose a possible safety valve receiver – tight end or running back – to help him block.

You should be more worried about cornerback Jalen Mills, who bites on double moves faster than a shark bites bloody chum.

Vatai and Mills are among many Eagles who will be playing in their first playoff game. Foles is not among them. Actually, he started at quarterback the last time the Birds were in the postseason and led a fourth-quarter comeback against the Saints that the special teams and defense could not hold.

The special teams and defense need to do their part this time around. While it is likely the offense will at least initially play more for first downs than touchdowns, punter Donnie Jones will need to avoid touchbacks. He’s a tenured veteran, and that’s what he is paid to do. If a game of field position means more field goals than touchdowns, rookie Jake Elliott can’t afford to miss. Every point counts.

And, to be honest, this team – even with Wentz – was not reaching the Promised Land without unforgiving defense. First against the run during the season needs to carry over to the postseason. In terms of sacks and turnovers, quality over quantity would be a fair trade.

And some secret weapons, in all three phases, could be the difference. How about dusting the moth balls off of Trey Burton, or trying to take a strategic deep shot with rookie Mack Hollins? This is the first season since Dave Fipp has run the special teams without a kick return for a touchdown and two since a punt return to the house.

That’s a direct challenge to Kenjon Barner, who has been flirting with disaster on some punts down the stretch. Or maybe Corey Clement fields a short kickoff and goes all the way?

And maybe this could be when Jay Ajayi breaks loose as the clear No. 1 back and turns 15-20 carries into more than 100 yards.

If most or all of this is there, the offense does not need to score 30 points in what will be cold conditions that should favor the Eagles.

The recipe for victory is right there. Repeat it again the following week, and we can talk about the third time being the charm for the Super Bowl.

Setting up to Succeed

The coaches have to put the players in position to win. In the NFL, especially when the stakes are raised, it is – as the kids say – “a thing.”

Nick Foles is what he is: a system quarterback. If the offense clicks, Nick clicks. If it doesn’t, he won’t. That’s not all on him.

While the Eagles have struggled on third down lately, head coach Doug Pederson accurately pointed out that the issue is really first and second down. That means establishing the run and setting up some nice screens and maybe going more the dink-and-dunk route to get Foles into a rhythm.

It’s also fair to submit that the game plan was purposefully vanilla against Dallas, and probably not too elaborate against Oakland, either, as the feeling may have been that the Raiders could be beaten without playing a full hand for future opponents to see.

If so, it was a risk that almost backfired.

But it didn’t.

We are right where we need to be.

This can still happen, and Foles will not be the reason it doesn’t.

What has to happen?

Cut down the penalties to nullify positive offensive plays, let alone extend drives for what will be good opponents who will capitalize.

There can’t be drops, like that of Torrey Smith on third down when Foles had the offense moving on the first possession against Dallas. It is highly likely that if that pass is held, Smith runs for a while. The Eagles come away with points – three or seven – and Foles likely exits with everyone feeling a whole lot better about him right now.

But when you are Nick Foles, the “guy who will never do that again,” that’s not the way it is.

Nobody really ever feels good about you. Even when you throw four touchdowns in your first start, it is quickly pointed out that it was against the Giants.

It’s a bad spot to be in, but that does not mean the outcome can’t still be good overall.

Even if the guy living out the American dream gets no credit.

This column initially appeared at phillyphanatics.com

Open Letter to Alabama Voters

ForMooreBlog

Dear White Alabama,

I know you don’t me well.

In fact, you don’t me at all. Doubt you would if you could. I am, after all, a Yankee – and one of them “Bernie Bernstein” Jews on top of that.

Probably would help if I told you I was a non-practicing Jew, because that would make me even more of a heathen in your twisted view.

Our connections are few, really. On Sunday mornings, when y’all were at church and hearing your ministers justify your hate from the pulpit, my grandfather – I called him Poppy but, for your sake, I’ll say “Grandpappy” – would break out his string instruments. One of his favorites, played with a banjo on his knee, was “Oh Susannah.”

And once, while on vacation in Florida, all the menfolk gathered round in the hotel lobby and watched the 1973 Sugar Bowl game between Notre Dame and Alabama that received a staggering 25.1 Nielsen rating.

In the neutral ground of South Florida, it was just me and some guy with a twang and a crew cut pulling for y’all. I didn’t quite get all the Notre Dame love, but my next several decades on the planet – and opening some them there American history books — have “learned me up” a bit.

Upon further review, it was probably more dislike for ‘Bama than it was love for and often self-righteous Notre Dame program.

While Notre Dame was a Catholic school born from an era when Catholics did not have many options for higher learning, black student-athletes first showed up in South Bend after World War II and the first non-white football players came in the 1950s.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s Bear Bryant didn’t start recruiting black players until he took that 52-6 ass-whooping against racially mixed USC in 1970.

Here it was, just a few years later, and an Alabama team with black players was looking to secure a national title with a win over Notre Dame.

I would have been a bit peeved, too.

But what did I know? I wasn’t even 8 years old. I was on your side. I was rolling with the Tide (maybe the only Yankee Jew ever to do so).

But yeah, other than that, you don’t know me.

I may as well be an alien from another galaxy.

Sometimes, though, that’s we need when it comes to advice and constructive criticism.

Yes, Alabama, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have much of a positive reputation around the rest of the country.

You are right down there with Mississippi, and that’s nothing to be proud of, is it?

Even some of your other southern brethren – like in Virginia, Tennessee and the Carolinas — are a bit ashamed of you.

On Dec. 12 — 2017 years after the arrival of your lord — you have a chance to begin changing your image a bit.

No one is expecting a complete and total metamorphosis – I’ll wait while you go down to that library place two counties over, wait in line for the one tattered dictionary and look it up – and that would be hypocritical to expect one.

All of us need to look in the mirror. All of us have room for improvement. All of us have skeletons in our closet. All of us could show others a different side of ourselves.

And it has to start someplace.

It can’t be done all at once.

So let’s keep this as small as a plate of grits (I do eat them, and like them, by the way).

This Roy Moore thing – or thang – is that line in the sand.

The rest of us see you one way.

There is a reason I – and many others – have flirted with a brain hemorrhage from laughter while watching “My Cousin Vinny.”

We’re not laughing with you. We’re laughing at you.

We see you as a bunch of separate-water-fountain-drinkin’, lynch-mobbin’, cross-burnin’, toothless-smilin’, big-butt-lovin’, bible-misinterpretin’, gay-hatin’, wildlife-huntin’, George-Wallace-alter-worshipin’, Conferedate-flag-wavin’, tobacky-chewin’ traitors still fighting the Civil War and proud of your low ranking in education.

Show the rest of us we are wrong.

Stereotypes – all stereotypes, up to and including Yankee Jews – are built upon some basis of fact.

But they are patently unfair, because there exceptions to all rules.

Be the exception to that rule on Dec. 12, and do not elect that creepiest of creeps, Roy Moore, for senate.

Show us that you can put what’s right over being white, and that party affiliation is not in the Ten Commandments. Show us what being a Christian is more than selectively absolving people of their sins.

Yeah, yeah … I know your voting machines probably wired to start to overheat once a Democrat, in the post-Dixiecrat era, nears 50 percent.

We’ll send in the fire companies to put out the fires.

And, really, is Moore’s challenger, Doug Jones, so horrible?

It is only recently, since the repeated allegations against Moore being a pedophile surfaced, that he started treating the blacks in your state – a good portion of which can’t vote because of a systematic lockout via crime-and-punishment that would be more akin to North Korea – like actual people.

Yeah, yeah – he prosecuted them “good ‘ol boys” who bombed that church and killed those girls back in the 1960s, but that was one of those steps toward dealing with your history that we discussed earlier, was it not?

And trust me – as much as you can a Yankee Jew – on what I’m about to tell you: Doug Jones, at least by blue-state standards, is pretty much a Republican anyway.

But he’s not a teen-girl-stalkin’, gun-wavin’ caveman like Roy Moore, who probably belongs in jail more than he does in the US Senate.

Even before the allegations, he was so deplorable that Lord Deplorable in the White House didn’t want any parts of his act (UPDATE: He now says, “Got ’em, Roy,” because, well, every day is new low).

So, come Dec. 12, if you do us this solid – that’s Yankee talk – we’ll return the favor.

We’ll bless your hearts.

Peace,

Gordon L. Glantz

Mayor of Gordonville, USA

P.S.

As far as Alabama or Auburn players helping the Eagles, we’re still cool.

We Get The Government We Deserve

Tom Hampton

 

By TOM HAMPTON

In less than two weeks, Roy Moore will be the newest member of the United States Senate.

Why?  Because he’s exactly what the people of Alabama, and the nation, deserve.

Now of course, you’re reading this, and you’re already offended, because if you’re a person who runs in the same circles as I do, you’re not someone who traffics in the same ideologies that people like Roy Moore does…you’re a generally tolerant person who puts a lot of stock in “live and let live”, you don’t trade in hatred, in bigotry, in sexism, in demonizing people based on race or religion…you understand that the constitution was actually written to enforce freedom of religion, and you don’t twist that principle to leverage Christianity over other faiths or practices.

And that means that you, like myself, are in the electoral minority in this country.

Sure, we all know that there’s a huge unrepresented ghost-herd of “reasonable disconnected citizens” out there who don’t hate people, but also don’t vote, don’t participate in the process, and as such – don’t COUNT…because they’re unwitting participants in the rise to power of unrepentant assclowns like Roy Moore.

Let’s be clear, here….political scandal is NOT a new thing.

But the vast majority of scandals past ended predictably – with the ensuing publicity resulting in resignations (Mark Foley, Larry Craig, Tom DeLay, etc.) and occasionally jail time (William Jefferson, Duke Cunningham, and the like).  There have been the odd outliers who managed to escape any real electoral scrutiny after coming out on the other side of various scandals, but – until very, VERY recently, they seemed to be – by far – the exception rather than the rule.

We’ve entered a new age, though.

We’ve entered the Age Of Zero Accountability here…where you can publicly rape and pillage as long as you have an R after your name and walk the streets unmolested.

Now, we have assholes like Scott DesJarlais, who managed to get re-elected by a horde of trailer dwellers in East Tennessee after a laundry list of shitty behavior.  For those of you who are old enough to remember this past summer, there’s Greg Gianforte – who was elected LITERALLY THE NEXT FUCKING DAY after being brought up on assault charges for physically attacking a reporter…and first lying about it, but being disproven by an audio recording of the attack.  (some of you who actually bother to watch the news may remember the “man on the street” soundbites of folks who said that the fact he went at Ben Jacobs actually made them MORE likely to vote for Gianforte.)  And, hey – if you remember that, you probably remember the good folks of Georgia electing human cardboard cutout Karen Handel after famously telling her potential constituents that she “did not support a living wage”.

You see, we don’t punish our lawmakers for wrongdoing now, and – shit, even WORSE – we reward garbage humans with seats on Capitol Hill in light of incontrovertible evidence of shitty behavior.

Alabama, the state currently in question, actually has a colorful recent history of rewarding shitty behavior in lawmakers – their state Speaker of the House, Michael Hubbard, was famously brought up on two dozen counts of corruption prior to election day and – guess what – he won re-election.  Oh, and not only that – once re-elected, he was given his old Speaker job back by his fellow lawmakers WHILE AWAITING TRIAL.

Then, of course, there’s Robert Bentley, the gross, Viagra-popping, secretary-groping, dirty-talkin’ Governor who got caught on tape saying some truly creepy shit to the object of his affection.  Oh, and due to the politically exquisite timing of that particular shitstorm, it turns out that there was a Senate seat to name someone to – what with perennial Disney Bad Guy Jeff Sessions becoming Attorney General and all.  So Governor SexyTalk named his Attorney General, Luther Strange (no, you really CAN’T make shit like that up) to replace Sessions on Capitol Hill…mere moments after he managed to squelch impeachment proceedings against Bentley in his capacity as state Attorney General.

So you see, that’s how shit works now.

We are a nation of knuckle-dragging, Budweiser-swilling intellectual midgets who are not just unafraid, but PROUD to reward garbage humans at the ballot box.  And in the Gilded Age of Trump, all bets are off.

Beat up a reporter?  You Win.

Fuck a mannequin out of wedlock while your terminally ill wife is dying of cancer, all while leading a good old torches and pitchforks revolt against a sitting president for a less shitty plot of your own story?

You Win.

Arrange for an abortion for your mistress while running on a staunch pro-life position?

You Win.

Two Dozen Counts of Corruption?

You Win.

Alabama, it’s not as if it’s a choice between two similar fucking shades of grey, here.

You’re not choosing between two similar mindsets who have slightly different outlooks on intricate legislative points…two guys who are both shitty but maybe one is slightly less shitty than the other.

There is ZERO nuance involved here.

You’re literally choosing between a fucking nutjob whos’ been thrown off the bench not once, but TWICE – for failing to enforce constitutional law.  A dude who, even BEFORE the truly shitty stuff started coming out recently, was ALREADY a drastically awful candidate – but in light of his fondness for teenage girls and getting banned from the mall and all the avalanche of crap that’s come out lately, it’s as if the cherry on top of the whipped cream somehow actually became the entire fucking sundae….

…you’re choosing between that guy and a lawyer with decades of prosecutorial experience fighting for the people of your state, to include actually sending members of the Klan to jail for bombing a church and killing four children.

You’re literally being asked to choose between John McClain and Hans Gruber, and you’re charging to the polls yelling “Yippie Ki-aaaaay, Motherfucker!” in a German accent.

In two weeks, Doug Jones will join Jon Ossoff and Merrick Garland on the sidelines to watch the final chapter of this shitstorm run its course towards swallowing up our democracy…and we’ll deserve every sad, ridiculous, avoidable landmine that we collectively step on.

Hide your daughters.

Seven for Heaven

 

Celek Point

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE — Back in the preseason, before the reality sets in that every other team in the NFL has undrafted rookie skill-position players looking like unearthed gems and veteran free agents who look like magic panaceas to all previous ills, veteran Eagles’ tight end Brent Celek was interviewed on the sideline. He was asked about the prospects of the 2017 version of the team, in the second year of the Doug Pederson/Carson Wentz era, moving out of the shadows of 7-9 mediocrity.

A grizzled veteran of trench warfare, Celek refused to buy into any “sky is the limit” cheerleading.

Instead, to paraphrase, he explained that every season – heck, every game in season – has adversity built into it.

While Celek – who has played under three coaches now – allowed that some exciting talent was in place, and previous holes were seemingly patched by de facto GM Howie Roseman and sidekick Joe Douglas, it would impossible to predict the way it would translate into the won-loss column until the team faced adversity and how it then dealt with it.

What could not have been known in the humid air of that August night was just how much adversity, and how much success, it would translate into.

The Eagles have since lost four Pro Bowl-level players: first all-purpose yardage magnet Darren Sproles and special teams demon Chris Maragos, and then Hall of Fame-bound left tackle Jason Peters and middle linebacker Jordan Hicks.

They lost their projected No. 1 corner, Ronald Darby, to injury after trading away reliable receiver Jordan Matthews.

They lost their kicker, Caleb Sturgis, only to land a rookie, Jake Elliott, who won them a game on a 61-yard boot at the buzzer and continues to kick at a high level.

They overcame national naysayers, doubting the team and its coach. They overcame local media attempts to make it sound like defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was plotting a coup.

They overcame beginning the year with two road games, not to mention three of the first four, and also playing on the road on a short week in Carolina, where they were undaunted by lopsided officiating.

They have found ways to win the same kind of close games they found a way to lose last year.

And they overcame the adversity of having to wait until the second week in November – and nine games into the season – before catching their breath and enjoying a bye week.

While the Eagles’ still have concerns – such as not being able to afford another substantial injury at offensive line or linebacker – they have gone beyond Celek’s wildest dreams.

Not only do they sit atop the NFC East standings, but, at 8-1, they have the best record in the entire NFL. And talk of maybe just squeaking into the playoffs at, maybe, 9-7, has turned into realistic expectations of getting a first-round bye, home-field advantage and – whisper – a trip to the Super Bowl.

The bad news is that the Eagles now hit another tough stretch of schedule.

The good news is that, at least in the division, they have earned themselves a bit of breathing room.

Before any champagne is uncorked, please remember the Eagles of 1994, who started 7-2 and finished 7-9. Remember the Eagles of 2014, who beat up the Cowboys, 33-10, in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day to take a two-game lead in the division, only to miss the playoffs altogether.

Yet, this team seems different in many ways.

It has more locker-room leaders – Celek and safety Malcolm Jenkins, not to mention Sproles and Peters – than it is does locker-room lawyers.

While the jury has not rendered a final verdict on Pederson, he seems a bit more grounded – and committed to the long haul – than Rich Kotite and Chip Kelly.

And quarterback Carson Wentz, who is currently on a collision course with a boatload of postseason accolades, is not Mark Sanchez or Bubby Brister.

Aside from being the complete athletic package, and possessing the leadership skillset that makes him the quarterback of the future, Wentz would trade any prize ticketed for his trophy case for a ring on his finger and a lifetime key to the city.

Still, just as Celek cautioned back in the preseason, the Holy Grail for the Eagle Nation – most of which is too young to recall much about the 1960 championship season, let alone those of 1948 and 1949 – it will not happen without dealing with more adversity.

We won’t waste space here going gray over the litany of things that can go wrong. We all know what those things are. We have lived through them.

Instead, let’s look what needs to go right during the final seven games for the Eagles to be positioned to get to the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, and to not be content with taking selfies on media day, but actually win it all.

Let’s call it the Lucky Seven:

1. Stay Healthy

This is football, and football is a violent game. Injuries happen, and they will continue to happen. Just because the Eagles have been hit hard doesn’t mean they will be spared. Nonetheless, while they have a more than capable No. 2 quarterback in Nick Foles, Wentz has to stay upright. Also, they can overcome injuries as many spots. Last week, for example, Pro Bowl-bound tight end Zach Ertz was scratched but Trey Burton and Celek picked up the slack. Sproles went down, and undrafted rookie Corey Clement has filled the void while recently acquired Jay Ajayi adds another option. Rookie Mack Hollins can step in for an injured receiver.

However, they are down to their final options on the offensive line, especially tackle. Hal Vatai – aka “Big V” – isn’t Peters, but he is not Joe Conwell or Antone Davis, either. If Vatai or Lane Johnson goes down, the next up is Isaac Seumalo, who was already benched after being handed the left guard job now manned by Stefen Wisniewski. On the other side of the ball, the injury to Hicks has allowed more snaps for Mychal Kendricks, who previously came off the field when Schwartz went to two linebackers. After requesting a trade in the offseason, Kendricks is having a career year while fellow linebacker Nigel Bradham is playing out of his mind. Lose one or the other, it suddenly means more snaps for Joe Walker, a seventh-round pick in 2016 who is essentially a rookie because he missed last season with a knee injury. Darby also needs to get back into the mix at close to 100 percent, because better teams and better passing games will soon exploit rookie Rasul Douglas. And the safety tandem of Jenkins and Rodney McLeod is essential. Not much behind them.

2. Lasso the Cowboys

The Eagles still have two games with the second-place Dallas Cowboys, including the first game back from the break, in Dallas, on a Sunday night (Nov. 19). A win there would put Dallas well behind the pace, while a loss would keep them within striking distance.

3. Lay It On The Line

The football graveyard is littered with defensive fronts that spent the first halves of a season being compared to the Purple People Easters, Fearsome Foursome and Gang Green, only to fizzle and fade away down the stretch. The Eagles have had such exceptional play from their defensive front that the same comparisons are occurring now. It is premature to go there, in terms of a place in history, but the immediate concern is to maintain that dominance against the run and continue with a pass rush that is top-flight at forcing early throws and does well enough at getting home with sacks.

On paper, there seems to be enough depth to avoid hitting a wall. Pro Bowl tackle Fletcher Cox has benefitted from Timmy Jernigan as much as Jernigan has flourished next to him. Beau Allen is the consummate third tackle and Destiny Vaeao is getting more snaps. Outside, the presence of first-round pick of Derek Barnett, who gets better each week, has seemingly made Vinnie Curry better, while Brandon Graham in Steady Eddie on the other side. Meanwhile, veteran Chris Long has proven to be a welcome addition. Steven Means, a nice player in his own right, can’t even get on the field.

4. Maintain Focus

“One game at a time” is what is taught on the first day of Coachspeak 101. However, for reasons never really pinpointed, it often sticks with certain teams. Pederson keeps saying it, and the Eagles keep living it. However, as the season goes on and the glare of the national spotlight grows more intense, this has to be maintained. After Dallas, win or lose, the Eagles come home to face a young Chicago team – not much unlike the Eagles of a year ago – that won’t be a pushover. It is the ultimate trap game, with three straight road games to follow.  The first two road games are against likely playoff teams, Seattle (Monday night) and the Los Angeles Rams, before getting a bit of a theoretical breather in the Meadowlands against the hapless New York Giants. Those road games are followed by a Christmas Day home game against the Oakland Raiders, who may be playing for their playoff lives.

Without the senseless drill of going game by game, let’s say the Eagles need to go through this tough stretch at no worse than 3-3 – although 4-2 would look a lot better – in order for the final meeting against the Cowboys to feature Nate Sudfeld handing the ball off to Kenjon Barner and throwing passes to Shelton Gibson while the starters and key subs rest, hopefully for two weeks, for the playoffs. Not going to happen without continuing to buy into the one-game-at-a-time approach.

5. Keep Adding to the Supporting Cast

There have been some pleasant surprises, from Elliott being next to automatic on field goals (not quite the same on point-after kicks) to Clement to slot corner Patrick Robinson to Chris Long to Wisniewski to Douglas. That would mean Vatai holding his own, the continued maturation of Agholor as a slot receiver and a strong second half from emerging first-round pick Derek Barnett in the defensive end rotation. Extra defensive backs like Jaylen Watkins and Corey Graham and Douglas, if he goes to the bench in favor of a healthy Darby, would help the cause with some key plays and key times. And it wouldn’t hurt the cause to see Ajayi break loose for 100-plus yards in some of these tough road games, or to see Barner turn a game around with a punt return to the house (and then hand the ball to Sproles on the sideline). While Alshon Jeffery and Wentz seem to be clicking, it would be nice to see Torrey Smith regain his quarterback’s confidence.

6. X out the X

That would be the X on their backs. This relates to Points 4 and 5. While the players need to act like they have been here before and not give fuel to anyone’s fire, the coaches have to not become overly predictable. A downside of being the best team in the league nine games in is that it gives future opponents plenty of tendencies to study. It is a fine line to walk, between not doing what brought you to the precipice of a bye week and home-field advantage and still keeping a trick or two tucked up your sleeve.

7. Believe

Believe in the odds (a rent-a-city like Tampa Bay won a Super Bowl, for crying out loud). Believe in Wentz as the messiah. Believe in Pederson. Believe in magic – the breaks and bounces never seem to go our way finally going our way (61-yard field goal, for example). The team seems to believe it, and they may not get the pending sense of doom many of us feel, but it wouldn’t hurt to go with the flow. And, most of all, believe that inevitable adversity can be overcome.

This column/analysis first appeared at PhillyPhanatics.com

Waiting In Vain

ForBlog

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE — I’m still waiting.

For what, G2?

To reach the expiration date on when it’s not “too soon” to talk about America’s gun addiction after a mass shooting, that’s what.

We all know the typical protocol.

It’s been the same modern-day response, going to back to 1984, when unemployed security guard James Oliver Huberty opened fired in a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, Calif., killing 21 and wounding another 19.

The sordid history of systematic silence continued with Edmond, Okla. (14 dead, 6 injured) in 1986 and a school playground in Stockton, Calif. (5 killed, 29 injured).

These were all enough for his right-wing holiness himself, Ronald Reagan, to come out against semi-automatic weapons.

They even put a silencer on that one, though.

The 1990s opened with a bang in Jacksonville in June of 1990 (10 dead, 4 injured), and then 1991 in Killeen, Texas (22 dead, 20 injured). The 1990s saw six more – from Iowa City to Olivehurst, Calif. to Garden City, N.Y. to Jonesboro, Ark. – before the issue seemed to clash with the internet age, magnifying it, when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 and injured 24 in Columbine, Colo.

Let’s talk now?

Stifle, they said.

Post-Columbine, mass shootings became so commonplace that you could put loose change in the D.C. jukebox and get the same sick song – with lyrics like “nothing could have stopped it” and “if a bad guy wants to get his hands on a gun, he will” and the chorus of “it’s too soon” to discuss gun reform/control – that we would take extreme horror to bump the more paranoid post-9/11 fear of terrorism from the public psyche.

Instead, thoughts and prayers.

What kind?

Silent ones.

We had several tragic shootings fly under the national news radar during the Iraq War years, but it was hard to ignore after a Virginia Tech student, Seung-hui Cho, killed 32 and wounded 17 on his campus in 2007.

Six were killed and Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was among the 11 injured in a 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona. A year later, in 2012, 12 were killed and 58 injured in a post-midnight showing of the “Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Col.

More admonishments against getting to the heart of the matter, even as hearts were being broken, came from elected leaders ignoring what most Americans want, which was some form of gun control/reform.

The moment of reckoning seemed to come, before it went just as fast, when 20 first-graders were among the 27 dead (hate counting to the shooter) at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Then-president Barack Obama made a tearful and eloquent plea that fell upon deaf ears. Instead, more loaded up guns before he came and took them away.

Hate to say those children, the same age mine was at the time, died in vain. But, they died in vain.

The year 2015 saw nine black people killed by a White supremacist while praying in a church and 14 killed and 22 injured in San Bernadino, Calif.

In 2016, we had 49 killed and 58 injured at an Orlando night club.

This year, we’re still wrapping our minds around 59 dead and 500-plus injured at a Las Vegas outdoor concert, and the president visited and cautioned against talking about gun laws, while three were killed just the other night at a Colorado Wal-Mart.

So, while we can’t even discuss one’s right to bear arms without being accused of being a communist, we can’t send our kids to elementary school or high school or college without fear of that phone call.

We can’t serve our country without fear of one of our own opening fire.

We can’t go to a night club or a concert or a midnight movie.

And we can’t pray in a house of worship – even if those prayers are for the victims of gun violence, a mandate which is always part and parcel of the “too soon to talk about it” chorus.

We can’t shop or eat lunch in a courtyard.

It is in the First Amendment to talk about our concerns, and to protest and seek change, but not when the Second Amendment is in play. That’s the same Second Amendment many of us – actually, most of us — believe is loosely interpreted to protect gun laws to the extreme that we have to shrug off not only mass shootings, but all forms of daily gun violence.

A may come before B everywhere else in the civilized world, but the First Amendment does not come before the Second in the land of the allegedly free and the home of the purportedly brave.

We are told we are trying to infringe upon liberty – even though the idea of “nothing we can do about it” infringes upon all our freedoms.

This litany mass shootings took place from coast to coast, and the shooters were almost exclusively men. While they came in all skin tones, most were white.

Some were known to have psychological issues, and others seemingly “snapped,” in such an unpredictable way that the out-of-context “improved psychological care” mantra —  from the same right-wing base that cuts those same funds — is borderline pathetic.

And it’s all to protect the sanctity of the almighty Second Amendment, and the powerful gun lobby.

The one common denominator in mass shootings (defined as four more casualties) is guns.

Smirking their smirks, they say: guns don’t kill, people do.

Actually, guns don’t kill. How can they?

They are inanimate objects that need to be loaded with ammo and pointed at a target.

People with guns kill.

And there are too many of them in too many hands.

But let’s not talk about that.

Just hush up.

Let’s sit in the waiting room and wait for our numbers, or those of our loved ones, to be up.

While we wait, let’s look at the rules – and how they change in the right-wing narrative — for a terrorist attack carried out by a lone wolf ISIS sympathizer, complete with a weird-sounding name, who came from a country not on the president’s banned list who killed mostly tourists by running them over with a rented truck on a Lower Manhattan bike path.

But when the Halloween nightmare unfolded on the bike path, it didn’t stop the president from taking to Twitter and unleashing one of his unfiltered random attacks.

In that case, unlike Vegas, he couldn’t talk about it soon enough.

He spat spitballs at New York senator Chuck Schumer, saying the lottery program that allowed certain immigrants to stay on green cards, was a “Schumer Special.”

Actually, Mr. President, how would you like your crow cooked for that special, before eating your words.

Schumer supported the measure eons ago – way before 9/11 paranoia was spawned – and it was in what was something quite rare today — a bipartisan measure signed into law by a Republican president, George H.W. Bush.

Isn’t that a kick – or maybe a playful pat – on the butt?

Furthermore, Schumer – in the Gang of Eight — has since been part of efforts to amend that measure, only to be rebuffed.

Hard to get those facts straight at 3 a.m., though.

Guess, for once, it was too soon, huh?

Later in the day, the president shifted gears and took aim at the justice system, calling it a “joke” and a “laughing stock.”

He was talking about terrorism, and how we vet incoming immigrants and punish them (not sure how to properly punish someone who wants to die) when they are naughty. Can’t completely argue, to be honest. A lot of things needs improving, especially when the goal is to be “great.”

Still, couldn’t the same be said of how we deal we have dealt with gun violence in the last few decades?

Is it not a “joke” and a “laughing stock,” particularly in the eyes of the outside world?

I know we don’t want to let the facts get in the way of an emotive outburst, but let’s look at some basic math.

We are considerably more likely to die in gun violence (1 in 350, and 1 in 15,325 in a mass shooting) than in a terrorist attack (1 in 20 million, counting Oklahoma City, 9/11 and the most recent incident), so let’s get back on schedule with the reality check.

In the meantime, I’m still waiting.