Musings from the Bunker 9/22/20
Thank you to Jay Eagan for the new year’s greeting from the great Sammy Davis, Jr.!
I was lucky enough to see Sammy perform at Caesar’s Palace many years ago. I have never witnessed an entertainer who was so multi-talented and who committed so much to the performance. He sang, danced, did impersonations, told jokes, related stories, all in a hyper-active display of energy. When he finished (and before his encores), he had sweat through the entirety of his shirt. He was the definition of “leaving it all out there on stage.”
IS 18 OLD ENOUGH TO CARRY A GUN—OR VOTE?
Last week, the “first son,” Donald Trump, Jr., attempted to minimize the gravity of the murder of protesters by one Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha Wisconsin. “We all did stupid things at 17.” This is a guy who bragged, shortly after killing two people and sporting an automatic weapon, “I just killed somebody.”
Sure we all did stupid things. Staying up late? Not studying? Skipping class? Drinking too much? Hitchhiking? Skydiving? But most of us did not carry weapons to demonstrations and far fewer actually discharged a weapon, much less kill another human being.
This got me thinking about whether this tender age really should be held to a lesser standard of behavior and, if so, also should receive fewer responsibilities. A while back it was decided that 18 year-olds should be entitled to the vote. This was a big deal in the 70s. Indeed, I competed in a speech tournament advocating for the 18 year-old vote. After a hard-fought battle to extend the franchise, our youth have among the lowest percentage participation in voting. This election, the turnout of these youth may be a key factor. Not exactly the same as shooting someone at a rally, but with profound consequences as well…
BEST BASEBALL MOVIES
The playoffs are soon to begin. Baseball, more than any other sport, lends itself to great novels and movies. This is my list of classic baseball movies. You may remember others—feel free to comment.
• Major League (already discussed in detail in comedies)
• The Natural. Bernard Malamud, Robert Redford and Glenn Close—together! Okay, so maybe not the original ending from the book but wow. The lady in white and the lady in black. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0lof7tFKtE. And here’s Redford pitching to “the Whacker” (presumably a barnstorming Babe Ruth), with Robert Duvall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdtCFKVtSls. This movie is as much about good and evil, temptation and choices as it is about baseball.
• Field of Dreams. Great (but not as great as the Natural). People will come…here is the James Earl Jones speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBwhjAhNmKA. The one constant along the years is baseball… Not a bad speech for these days. And then there’s Midnight Graham (aka Burt Lancaster) stepping from the stands. He does a mean impersonation of Bill Sonnenberg with the doctor’s black bag and the calm, confident demeanor of a country doctor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6bD23vEigE
• Bull Durham. Susan Sarandon, a baseball groupie, and her relationships with long-time minor leaguer, Kevin Costner (“Crash Davis”), whose career is on the way down, set out to help Tim Robbins, a wild pitcher on his way up.
• Moneyball. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill and the “science” of baseball.
• A League of Their Own. Geena Davis and Madonna playing for manager Tom Hanks. Based on the true story of the women’s leagues in WWII. Come on. There’s no crying in baseball! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M8szlSa-8o
• 42. The story of Jackie Robinson, for all the reasons I mentioned a few weeks ago.
• Million Dollar Arm. It’s wonderfully corny and nearly unbelievable. Indian cricket players coming to pitch in the U.S., via the scouting of Jon Hamm.
• Angels in the Outfield. Yes, it’s the Angels. Yes, it’s Disney. Yes, it’s the awful periwinkle blue uniforms with depictions of wings. But it has Danny Glover—making it watchable.
• Knuckleball. Really a documentary. Phil Niekro, Tim Wakefield and others were practitioners of this greatest of deceptions. If you’re a knuckleballer, you can pitch forever. Hoyt Wilhelm and Niekro pitched into their late 40s. Worth the watch… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHs8VCn_3b8
Next movie list will be inspirational sports stories of the kind Andrea and Dave Swartz love…
TIME TO GO ON RECORD
Sometimes you need to just put yourself out there. Here are my predictions that you can take to the bank (well, at least have something to prove to me that I’m wrong). Most shouldn’t be surprising:
• Supreme Court nomination will be announced this week
• It’s a woman; Trump masquerades not as the sexual predator of the past, but as the great protector of women’s rights
• Four Republicans will state they oppose confirmation prior to the election. Murkowski and Collins already are on record. Cory Gardner, Chuck Grassley and Lindsay Graham have no spines. Unless there’s one more (in addition to Mitt Romney, who may or may not want to postpone), this means it will move forward.
• Hearings will begin in October. The vote will be in November (but before November 30, when Mark Kelly is expected to be seated from Arizona, changing the calculus.
• Even those Republicans in favor of delaying will still vote for confirmation after the election, after the fastest and most abbreviated hearings of the modern era.
• Contrary to the conventional wisdom that this fight will boost the Trump-vote, it will in fact increase turnout among more liberal voters who have not yet been energized to go to the polls (or vote absentee), including Black, Gay, young, female, and pro-choice voters. All partisans will make every effort to vote.
• Biden will win the presidency. Delegitimization of mail-in ballots will be the big issue, an issue created with the help and inactions of the Trump administration.
• The Senate will flip. Democrats need four seats to offset the current 53-47 split and Doug Jones’s likely loss in Alabama. Gardner, Collins, McSally, Tillis, Loeffler, and Ernst all are at risk of losing. The first three are, I think, nearly a lock to be defeated.
• In January, there will be serious discussions about increasing the Supreme Court from nine Justices to thirteen. They will settle on eleven, for reasons I’ll explain later this week.
• Saudi Arabia will establish diplomatic relations with Israel in October.
• The Justice Department will announce further investigations (and maybe even subpoenas or indictments) of several Obama administration officials related to the “Russian Hoax Investigation” in October. Our Attorney General has no shame.
• Something else will happen, completely out of left field…
WHAT A MORON
Of course I meant “Notorious RBG” (and not “Infamous”), as my daughter Lauren and Mark Schwartz pointed out… Mark explains the reference:
“…a play on rapper Biggie Smalls' Notorious B.I.G. nickname — in 2013 when New York University law student Shana Knizhnik created a Tumblr bearing the name to highlight Ginsburg's dissent in the landmark Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder.”