Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Drive and Dish is a basketball blog, so one might expect us to be engrossed in Thanksgiving college basketball tournaments. But we've never spent much time covering college Thanksgiving basketball tournaments on this blog. Of course, since we're basketball people, Thanksgiving basketball tournaments have been part of our lives. We played in them during high school and college. We've attended several of them as spectators. In general, we like Thanksgiving tournaments. They're fun. But we've never spent much time blogging about them. That's probably because Thanksgiving tournaments, fun though they may be, take place so early in the college basketball season that they're not terribly significant in the overall scheme of things.

November college basketball games are usually long-forgotten by the first week of January. By the time March Madness rolls around, November is usually such a distant memory that, for most observers, Thanksgiving tournament games seem like they were played in a previous decade. So Drive and Dish no longer spends much time fretting about them (in the first two or three years of this blog, we actually did give them some attention [more here, and here]).

But basketball commentary or not, it has become something of a Drive and Dish tradition to wish its readership a Happy Thanksgiving. And this year, it's no different. So Happy Thanksgiving, Drive and Dish readers!

At one point, it also became something of a Drive and Dish tradition to celebrate the opening weekend of the 'holiday season' -- one of the biggest party weekends of the year -- by posting one of Drive and Dish writer/editor Trashtalk Superstar's new DJ mixes on Thanksgiving day (Mr. Trashtalk spent several years rocking parties and clubs from behind the turntables, in addition to his many other duties). But last year, Drive and Dish wished its readers Thanksgiving pleasantries without posting a new DJ mix. That new 'tradition' will be extended to this year, as we have no new Thanksgiving weekend DJ mix to post. A special New Year's Eve Drive and Dish DJ mix to send 2011 out in style and welcome 2012 may not, however, be entirely out of the question. Stay tuned...

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wichita State Wins NIT

Thursday night, Wichita State captured the N.I.T. title by upsetting Alabama 66-57 in the N.I.T. finals at Madison Square Garden in New York City. With the win, the Shockers became the first Missouri Valley Conference team to win a men's basketball postseason championship since Bradley won the N.I.T. in 1982. Though the the Missouri Valley has a rich and storied history, and though it's been one of college basketball's most prominent Mid Major conferences in the recent past, the league has been perceived as sub-par for the last four seasons. And that bad image has kept the Valley from garnering an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament over that period of time. This year, regular season conference champion Missouri State lost in the Missouri Valley tournament failed to land an NCAA Tournament bid. But with Wichita State winning the N.I.T, and with Creighton facing off against former coach Dana Altman's Oregon Ducks in the College Basketball Invitational (C.B.I.), the Valley has shown well this postseason.

Through his tenure at Wichita State -- and during his earlier days at Winthrop -- Shockers head coach Gregg Marshall has proven to be an outstanding college basketball coach. Over the years, his name has been mentioned frequently in conjunction with head coaching openings at higher profile programs. Whether or not Marshall has actually pursued any of those coaching positions remains unclear. As we've mentioned before, writers like to speculatively throw coaches' names around when writing about coaching vacancies. But for what it's worth, Marshall's name is being thrown around again this year with regard to several of the coaching vacancies at high major schools.

Gregg Marshall a long history of fielding highly competitive teams at Mid Major institutions. Now with an N.I.T. title in tow, he's likely to garner significant interest from Athletic Directors at big name schools with vacancies as he heads to the NABC coaches' convention at the Final Four in Houston.
the first postseason championship for the Shockers' basketball program.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

McCain's 2008 Campaign: Lifetime Achievement Award

The following is the text of an e-mail that yours truly sent during a relatively brief e-mail exchange with Lisa Schiffren of National Review Online. It summarizes my thoughts on John McCain's much-celebrated concession speech:

The moment John McCain secured the Republican nomination, I suspected that he (and the party heavyweights) would treat his nomination as if it were a lifetime achievement award for an old warrior who was predestined to lose, just as Bob Dole and Jack Kemp had more or less done in 1996. It was my sense that rather than use his nomination to establish himself as the leader of his party, or as an advocate for any particular policy initiative or political ideology, McCain would view his candidacy as the means by which his legacy would be cemented: as the devoted, life-long servant to his country whose cordial, gentlemanly campaign stayed out of the way as his barrier-breaking opponent steamrolled his/her way into the history books (I suspected that McCain and the GOP establishment had thrown in the towel before they even knew whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee). McCain would essentially be Stephen Douglas, or Sonny Liston, or the pitcher who served up the ball that Hank Aaron hit out of the park to break Babe Ruth's home run record.

Each time McCain delivered a campaign speech, I wondered if he was actually trying to win votes, or if he was merely attempting to define the themes of his political legacy. Barack Obama promised to change the country and change the world, even if he never quite told us how he planned to do so. John McCain's campaign reminded us that McCain had always put country first: If McCain failed to articulate a consistent, policy based, vision for the country, he succeeded in reminding us of his impressive history as a hero, a maverick, and bi-partisan reformer.

When John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate, I actually started to think that maybe McCain wasn't merely content with taking a fall after all. Maybe he was actually serious about winning. The mainstream media had laid out* and given their seal of approval** to several safe, respectable and mind-numbingly boring potential running mates for McCain to chose between (Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Joe Lieberman). Had McCain chosen any of the MSM-approved dead-weight running mates, the media would have treated the old man to a respectful enough send off down the political river Stix. Then McCain threw the Obama campaign and the Obama-partisan mainstream media for a loop with the choice of Palin, which caught them off guard like a sucker punch to the throat. For a moment, it appeared as though McCain was really trying to win. But alas, the final 3 months of the campaign revealed scant evidence that McCain was truly "in it to win it," as Hillary Clinton might say.

Ultimately, the more I heard McCain on the campaign trail, the more I envisioned him delivering his concession speech. I'm not the least bit surprised that McCain's concession speech was so well delivered. He's been practicing it for almost a year.


* The Monday following McCain's surprise choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate (Palin was introduced at a Friday morning rally in Dayton, Ohio), ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin said on WLS AM radio in Chicago that McCain was "irresponsible" for having chosen Palin. He actually said that members of the media (it appeared as though he implicitly included himself in that group) had made it known to McCain which candidates would be considered "acceptable" running mates.

** ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin said that there had been several acceptable choices for running mate available to McCain, all of whom the Washington, D.C., media had thoroughly investigated and been prepared to provide commentary on. Halperin said that McCain had been "irresponsible" and "reckless" for having chosen the then-unknown Sarah Palin as his running mate. He stated that McCain had "no business" picking Palin, as she had been not been investigated by the Washington Press Corps.

Additionally, Mr. Halperin said that the media had "waves" of investigative reporters en route to Alaska who would look under every rock to find unflattering information on Governor Palin. He stated flatly that McCain would be maid to "pay" for having chosen Palin as his running mate, and that he would ultimately regret having made the unconventional (i.e., not sanctioned by unofficially -- but obviously -- pro-Obama mainstream political media).

Friday, October 31, 2008

Tribune Company: That Was Then, This Is Now

The following is cross-posted from our parent blog, Drive and Dish (Drive and Dish is a basketball-oriented blog with a light and breezy tone---this is a dense post about politics which belongs on this site far more than it belongs on Drive and Dish):

Drive and Dish started out as a blog devoted to offering commentary on the game of basketball -- with a heavy emphasis on dishing out commentary about college basketball. But we found that when basketball was out of season, we didn't have much to write about. So after slumming through the summer of 2007, Drive and Dish's editorial staff decided that when the 2008 Final Four was in the history books and the NBA Finals' game clock hit 00:00 for the last time, Drive and Dish would expand its reach to include subjects other than basketball -- at least until basketball resumed.

We'll get back to being basketball intensive once college basketball tips off (the NBA regular season just started, but our core readership is primarily made up of college basketball fans, and as such, our NBA material goes largely unnoticed). But for now, our crack team of writers (me) is chomping on the bit to weigh in on so much non-basketball material that it would simply be an untenable position for Drive and Dish's editors (me again) to force them to remain focused exclusively on the hardwood.

Lately, Drive and Dish has been following the rapid decline of the once great Chicago Tribune (more here).

Now the Chicago Tribune's parent company, Tribune Company, is embroiled in a controversy over the Los Angeles Times' (the Los Angeles times is a Tribune Co. newspaper) refusal to release a videotape that purports to show Illinois Senator and Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama offering a toast to -- and lavishing praise on -- Rashid Khalidi, a college professor and political activist who has been both an outspoken opponent of Israel, and a supporter of Palestinian terrorist activity.

Mr. Khalidi currently serves as the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University and as the Director of the Middle East Institute at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. But as the New York Sun reported in 2005, Mr. Khalidi was a director of the official Palestinian press agency, WAFA, from 1976 to 1982 and later served on the PLO "guidance committee" at the 1991 Madrid peace conference (more background on the PLO here, more background on Mr. Khalidi's involvement with the PLO here).

The videotape in question was filmed in 2003, at a Chicago going away dinner for Mr. Khalidi (who, at the time, was departing the University of Chicago to take his current post at Columbia). The event was hosted by the Arab American Action Network,* a political advocacy and community organizing group which Mr. Khalidi founded in 1995 with his wife Mona. Allegedly, the dinner featured several speakers who voiced fervent anti-Israel sentiment, as well as disapproval for America's support of Israel. One speaker is said to have compared Israeli settlers on the West Bank to Osama Bin Laden. Another speaker supposedly voiced her anger over U.S. support for Israel and warned that if Palestinians can't reclaim their own land, "you will never see a day of peace."

Although the L.A. Times refuses to release the videotape, Times staff writer Peter Wallsten did acknowledge the tape's existence in an April article in which he examined Senator Obama's position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In his account of the videotaped going away dinner for Mr. Khalidi, Mr. Wallsten did his best to pave over the assorted speakers' rough edges. But he hinted at the incendiary nature of some of their remarks by stating that Senator Obama "adopted a different tone in his comments and called for finding common ground."

Throughout his run for the Presidency, Senator Obama has done his best to ameliorate fears that he may not favor the continuation of America's longstanding support for Israel. Officially, Senator Obama has positioned himself as a pro-Israel candidate, which has helped him keep Jewish voters -- an important constituency within the Democratic party -- and other supporters of Israel more or less happy. Yet in his L.A. Times piece, Mr. Wallsten implied that Senator Obama's videotaped remarks at Mr. Khalidi's going away dinner may have left some room for doubt about the veracity of the Senator's support for Israel:

"(the) warm embrace Obama gave to Khalidi, and words like those at the professor's going-away party, have left some Palestinian American leaders believing that Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say."

What's more, the L.A. Times piece quotes Mr. Khalidi as having pointed to Mr. Obama's sympathy for the Palestinian cause when he instructed the primarily Palestinian American crowd to support Mr. Obama, then an Illinois state senator, in his bid for the U.S. Senate:

"You will not have a better senator under any circumstances."

So what does all this have to do with the Chicago Tribune?

Well, Chicago based Tribune Company is the parent company of both the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. And in the case of the L.A. Times' embargoed videotape of the Rashid Khalidi going away dinner, a Tribune Co. owned newspaper is refusing to release information -- in the form of a video that would likely go viral within minutes of its release -- that could damage Senator Obama's chances of becoming the next President of the United States. The Times cites its desire to preserve "journalistic ethics" as the basis for its decision to withhold the potentially incendiary video (the paper maintains that the anonymous source who leaked the videotape to them requested that the video not be released).

But the L.A. Times has already cited the videotape as evidence that Senator Obama's official position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict -- and by extension, his position on U.S./Israeli relations -- may be little more than political window dressing.

Thus, by refusing to release the videotape, the Tribune Company's L.A. Times gives the appearance that it is attempting to lend a hand to Senator Obama's bid for the Presidency -- a bid which the both the L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune have endorsed -- by shielding the Senator from the political fallout that the videotape's release could prompt.

But in 2004, the Tribune Company's Chicago Tribune lent Senator Obama a hand in his bid for the U.S. Senate by filing suit to gain access to the sealed divorce records of Mr. Obama's Republican opponent, Jack Ryan. Prior to the Tribune's lawsuit, Mr. Ryan had refused to answer questions about his divorce. So the Tribune hired a team of high-powered lawyers and sent them to Los Angeles to pry Mr. Ryan's divorce records open. Mr. Ryan and his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, fought to keep their divorce records sealed, citing their concern that the records' release could have an adverse affect on the welfare of their disabled 9 year old son. But despite acknowledging that "(p)eople are desperate to prevail and are often willing to say almost anything" in divorce cases, that "(f)alse allegations may arise in as many as 80 percent of custody battles," and that "a growing body of evidence (demonstrates) that high-conflict divorces create more long-term problems for children," the Tribune argued that the Ryans' privacy and the well being of their son were less important than the "public interest."

Ultimately, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Schnider ruled that the Ryans' divorce records should be partially opened to the public. Among the contents of the Ryans' divorce files was Mrs. Ryan's allegation that Mr. Ryan had taken her to sex clubs, where he had attempted to persuade her to engage in amorous behavior in front of crowds.

Mr. Ryan denied that specific allegation, charging that it was employed as a tactic by his ex-wife in an attempt to gain the upper hand in their child custody dispute.

But the damage was done. The Tribune's headline read: “Ryan File a Bombshell; Ex-Wife Alleges GOP Candidate Took Her To Sex Clubs.”

Jack Ryan was forced to drop out of the U.S. Senate race four months and one week before the 2004 election.

And Jack Ryan wasn't the first political opponent of Barack Obama's whose sealed divorce records were uncovered by the Chicago Tribune. Indeed, the Tribune exhibited a bipartisan interest in the sealed divorce papers of Mr. Obama's political opponents: Mr. Obama's chief rival in the 2004 Democratic Senate primary, Blair Hull, saw his campaign implode after an anonymous tipster informed the Tribune that Mr. Hull’s ex-wife had filed for an order of protection during their divorce proceedings. It is widely believed that the source of the Tribune's leak in the Blair Hull's divorce proceedings was long-time Obama adviser and current chief political strategist for the Obama campaign, David Axelrod (who is, himself, a former City Hall reporter for the Chicago Tribune).

In a 2007 profile of Mr. Axelrod, the New York Times acknowledged that the Obama campaign -- and perhaps Mr. Axelrod himself -- had been responsible for leaking details of Mr. Hull's divorce proceedings to the Chicago Tribune:

"Axelrod is known for operating in (the political) gray area, part idealist, part hired muscle. It is difficult to discuss Axelrod in certain circles in Chicago without the matter of the Blair Hull divorce papers coming up. As the 2004 Senate primary neared, it was clear that it was a contest between two people: the millionaire liberal, Hull, who was leading in the polls, and Obama, who had built an impressive grass-roots campaign. About a month before the vote, The Chicago Tribune revealed, near the bottom of a long profile of Hull, that during a divorce proceeding, Hull’s second wife filed for an order of protection. In the following few days, the matter erupted into a full-fledged scandal that ended up destroying the Hull campaign and handing Obama an easy primary victory. The Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in print that the Obama camp had “worked aggressively behind the scenes” to push the story. But there are those in Chicago who believe that Axelrod had an even more significant role — that he leaked the initial story. They note that before signing on with Obama, Axelrod interviewed with Hull. They also point out that Obama’s TV ad campaign started at almost the same time.
(Emphasis mine).

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines irony as:

"1a. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning. b. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning. c. A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect. See synonyms at wit1. 2a. Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs ..."
(Emphasis mine).

Considering the zeal with which the Chicago Tribune pursued, uncovered, and reported on the sealed divorce records of Barack Obama's opponents in his 2004 bid for the U.S. Senate, one might have expected that the Tribune owned Los Angeles Times would have adopted a similar urgency toward releasing the videotape of Rashid Khalidi's going away dinner -- especially since Peter Wallsten's April, 2008, L.A. Times article implied that the videotape opens the door to the possibility that Senator Obama's official position on American foreign policy toward Israel may not actually reflect his true feelings on the issue.

How ironic, then, that the L.A. Times refuses to release the video. When Barack Obama's opponent Jack Ryan, and his ex-wife sought to keep their divorce records sealed, a Tribune newspaper sued to have the records unsealed on the grounds than the Ryans' privacy -- and their young son's well being -- were less important than the "public interest." But now a Tribune newspaper is refusing to release a videotape that could further illuminate Senator Obama's position on American foreign policy toward Israel on the grounds that doing so would violate their "journalistic ethics."

In fairness, the Tribune Company is now under different ownership than it was under in 2004. But one thing that hasn't changed since 2004 is the Tribune's apparent imperative to lend a hand to the candidacy of Barack Obama.

* Through his service on the board of the Woods Fund, Barack Obama voted to grant more tha $70,000 to the Arab American Action Network, an organization created by Rashid Khalidi (more here, and here).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

25th Anniversary of the First Cell Phone Call

The following is cross-posted from our parent blog, Drive and Dish (it was posted on Monday, October, 13, 2008 -- the date of the 25th anniversary of the first commercial cell phone call):

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the first commercial cell phone call:

"It was on Oct. 13, 1983, that Bob Barnett, then president of Ameritech Mobile Communications, placed the first commercial wireless call from inside a Chrysler convertible at Soldier Field in Chicago, to the grandson of Alexander Graham Bell, who was in Berlin, Germany."

Like the Internet, cell phones have -- in a short period of time -- radically changed the way in which people live their lives. These days, it's difficult to imagine life without cell phones. But it wasn't all that long ago that the use of cell phones was largely limited to the wealthy and/or powerful.

The picture below is taken from a scene in Oliver Stone's 1987 film "Wall Street." Michael Douglas portrayed the fictional Wall St. arbitrageur Gordon Gekko (more here), a character who was allegedly loosely based on a composite of Ivan Boesky (more) and Carl Icahn.

Gekko's character became a cultural icon in the late 1980's and achieved renown for his assertion that "greed is good." The scene pictured below made waves with movie audiences in the late 80's because Gekko's use a cellular phone to conduct business while at his oceanfront vacation home was widely viewed as a sign of excess. Cellular phones cost about $4000 in those days, and many Americans weren't even aware of their existence. The concept of a cocky rich guy cutting deals while standing on the beach in his bathrobe blew a lot of people's minds.

Back in the late 80's, the only person I knew of who had a cell phone was a friend of my mom's. She had a cell phone because she was a newspaper reporter who covered city hall meetings and court cases. Her cell phone came in it's own briefcase like charging apparatus.

Around 1993 or 1994, Motorola came out with a smaller, more affordable flip phone. That allowed cell phones to become more accessible to the public. But they didn't exactly become ubiquitous overnight. As of '94, cell phones were still largely a viewed as a luxury item.

The first time I saw one was at the '94 Western Open. I was in my late teens at the time and was with my parents as we watched Nick Price put on his last hole of the day. We'd been at the golf tournament all day and I hadn't solidified my social schedule for the night. As such, I was growing uneasy as late afternoon was quickly giving way to night (the Western took place in July, when the daylight lasts past 8:00 PM). I knew that I would have to get home soon if I wanted to be able to get in touch with anyone before they headed out for the night. But the golfers were taking quite a while to finish, and I knew that it would take a while to get out of the parking lot.

Standing just outside gallery were two young, professional looking Filipino guys who had a big gray Motorola cellular phone. Because they were in possession of the latest cutting edge technological gadget, they were able to call friends and hammer out their plans for the night -- in spite of the fact that they were on a golf course and nowhere near a land telephone. My jaw practically dropped as I watched those guys plan their evening from the 18th hole (understand that in 1994, cell phones were still something of a novelty -- outside of the high rollers, hardly anybody had one). I was watching the future play out in front of my eyes. If only I'd had a cell phone, I could have called friends and nailed down my plans for the night ... from the golf course.

It was at that moment that I had an epiphany: I knew that I had to get a cell phone!

When I finally got home and started making my phone calls, all of my friends had already left for the night ... exactly as I had feared. I'd been proven right. Prior to that evening, acquiring a cell phone hadn't been high on my list of priorities. But after enduring one short phone conversation after another in which a friend's mother/brother/sister informed me that the friend I was attempting to contact had already stepped out for the evening, cell phone ownership suddenly rocketed to the top of my list.

Two years later, as a college student/summer intern for House of Representatives, I was issued a cell phone for work. Although I had to return the cell phone when the internship ended, it had essentially changed my life for the months in which it was in my possession. I lobbied my parents heavily to buy a cell phone, if not for me, for the family. Although my dad remained dead set against cell phones (as he remains to this day), my mother purchased a Motorola phone for me as a birthday gift.

It was the same model as the phone on the left:

When I got the phone (at end of 1996), I was about the only guy among my friends (either at college or back at home) who had a cell phone. Believe it or not, people were really impressed by the fact that I had a cell phone.

Often, I'd be out with friends when someone would suggest that we find a pay phone and call some other friends. When I'd offer the use of my cell phone (which I always kept turned off in a gym bag), people's eyes would light up. They'd say things like, "Oh wow. I didn't know that you had a cell phone."

As recently as 1996 or '97, most people still relied on pay phones to make calls when they were away from home.

But within two or three years, everybody and their mother had a cell phone (except for my father).

Now I've got an iPhone and a two year old Motorola RAZR. But like 30 percent of the American population, I don't have a land line.

Without my phones, I'd be absolutely lost.

Cell phones (and now smart phones) have changed everything.

Bienvenidos a "Off Topic"

World famous, critically acclaimed and award winning basketball oriented blog Drive and Dish presents "Drive and Dish Off Topic," a spin off of the popular basketball blog. "Drive and Dish Off Topic" was created by Drive and Dish's editors for the purpose of acomodating Drive and Dish readers' increasing demand for non basketball oriented content.

Over the course of summer 2008, Drive and Dish began to allow its writers to dabble in writing about non-basketball related subjects (because basketball wasn't in season and because our traffic dropped off substantially after the Final Four concluded). Recently, however, reader demand for new content related to non-basketball topics has increased substantially. But with basketball season about to tip off, Drive and Dish will be busy dishing out basketball commentary. So we created "Off Topic" to be the new home for most of our non-basketball commentary.

Welcome to Drive and Dish's "Off Topic."