The Aggravating Pace of Change

Since 1992 (except in cases of injury) the Green Bay Packers have employed exactly two (2) quarterbacks – Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, who leads them now. Not coincidentally, Favre is in the Hall of Fame and Rodgers will surely be enshrined in his first year of eligibility. Set your TiVo for five years after he retires.

In the same time span, nearly 35 quarterbacks have played for the Chicago Bears. From Jim Harbaugh, Peter Tom Willis and Will Furrer in '92 to Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles last season. Sprinkled in the list are such NFL legends as Moses Moreno, Cade McNown and Henry Burris.

The last great QB they had was Sid Luckman, whom they drafted before WWII and who retired in 1950. Such is the fortune the Bears have had at what is now considered the most important position in team sports.

The last Next Big Thing the Bears had at QB was Mitch Trubisky. If you follow the NFL, you may know that GM Ryan Pace traded several draft picks to move up one (1!) spot to select Trubisky with the second overall pick. But you surely know that he passed on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the process. The punchline to that joke is that Pace still has a job and will be entrusted to select the Bears Next Big Thing.

Trubisky's Bears career officially ended today, a day after the Bears agreed to terms with washed up former Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton. The litany continues. With any luck, the Bears will suck bad enough next year for even Bears ownership to cut their losses and launch Pace's ass. It seems the only way forward is down.

670 The Score's Dan Bernstein: Nobody Says Nothing Quite Like Bears GM Ryan Pace

Bears general manager Ryan Pace has mastered the art of talking into a microphone for minutes on end and saying absolutely nothing. The minuscule nature of his content-to-words ratio is astonishing. Almost as astonishing as owner George McCaskey's gullibility quotient in keeping Pace employed for so many years.
One can only hope the team's mediocrity will soon be broken. With any luck, the Bears will be miserable enough next year to impel McCaskey to fire his ass. I'm holding out for 2-12. Anybody with me?


Several unrelated events all happened on today's date (February21.)

(1) In 1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published “The Communist Manifesto.”

(2) In 1857 Congress outlawed foreign currency as legal tender in the U.S.

(3) In 1918 the last Carolina parakeet (or budgie) died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.

(4) In 1934 Nicaraguan rebel leader Augusto Cesar Sandino was assassinated by his country's National Guard.

Oddly, all of these events would be indirectly referred to in a song by the Clash called "The Magnificent Seven" or the album it appeared on. To wit:

Karlo Marx and Friedrich Engels (1)
Came to the checkout at the 7-11
Marx was skint – but he had sense
Engels lent him the necessary pence” (2)

Vacuum cleaner sucks up budgie!” (3)

And the song itself is the opening track on an album by the Clash called “Sandinista!” The record was named for the Nicaraguan rebel force that overthrew the country's longtime dictator, Anastasio Somoza (Debayle). Somoza had been the latest Nicaraguan ruler in a family dynasty that had controlled the country for over forty years.

The dynasty had been founded by his father, also named Anastasio Somoza (Garcia). National Guard troops led by the elder Somoza had assassinated the anti-imperialist rebel Sandino (4) and Somoza would subsequently seize power in 1936. In 1979 the rebels who called themselves the “Sandinistas” would overthrow the younger Somoza.

It's worth noting that the Sandinistas were a socialist group that presumably held “The Communist Manifesto” in high regard. Personally, I have no fondness for Communism and only bring all this up because of the strangeness connecting these events. I will say that the Clash apparently found common cause with the Sandinistas from the standpoint that they threw off imperialist oppressors and took their country back. Whether the band would approve of what the Sandinistas subsequently did with their country is, I suppose, up to question. You'd have to ask them.

Finally, I have no reason to think the Clash knew anything about all these coincidences. And of course, none of it really matters. If you're among the few who've read this far, you can file it under the category labeled, “What the hell does any of that mean? But it is kinda weird.”

It's the 14th Amendment, Stupid!!!

The main point, then, is that Congress can apply the 14th Amendment disqualification to Trump by majority vote.”

Impeaching Donald Trump after he's left office is NOT unconstitutional. Other officials (though never an ex-president until Trump) have been impeached after leaving office. Not only is that precedent, but common sense also comes into play: if officials couldn't be impeached after leaving office, there would be nothing preventing them committing “high crimes and misdemeanors” shortly before the end of their terms and leaving before they could be held accountable.

However, in the crucial court of public opinion such logic doesn't matter because too few average observers can appreciate such subtlety of constitutional law. Most people will just look at you crosseyed and say, “You mean you're gonna impeach him when he's already out of office? How stupid is that?”

So once again, Trump has been impeached and once again, spineless and principle-free Republican lawmakers will fail to convict. This will give the Inciter-in-Chief yet another victory to crow about; it will only bolster his myth among the true believers, making him even harder and more dangerous to stand up to in the future.

Democrats should have avoided impeachment altogether. The so-called “unconstitutional” nature of impeaching a former president – while wrong – provided easy cover for Republican House members not to impeach and Republican Senators not to convict. It should have been presented as a simple matter of his having violated the Constitution. It's right there in the 14th Amendment:

No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.

And, according to (and others) finding Trump guilty of violating the 14th Amendment would require only a simple majority, rather than the two-thirds Senate vote required to convict him in his impeachment trial.

But no, once again, Democrats have apparently let a little success (the election of Biden & their new slim majority in the Senate) cloud their judgment. In their zeal to punish Trump, they've ignored the much easier way to do it (applying the 14th Amendment) and have opted instead for the near-certain failure of impeachment.

At least I get to join the company of the celebrated Will Rogers by saying, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

Principle is Gone-zo: Fear and Cowering in the Impeachment Trial

It's so cute how the Democrats on Capitol Hill think that presenting more evidence will convince their GOP colleagues that Trump should be convicted in his impeachment trial. Of all the things that enter into the Republican calculus of how to proceed politically, the weight of evidence is not among them. Much more salient to their strategy is trying to appeal to Trump's knuckle-dragging base and trying to avoid being killed for crossing them.

Replaying video of the events of Jan 6 and including footage not previously seen only increases Republicans' terror of being murdered by these boorish hooligans. And that's not hyperbole. GOP politicians know that publicly standing up to Trump exposes them to the very real risk of harm at hands of these thugs.

Stimulus Needs to Be Stimulating

I've often described myself as a “moderate lefty.” Maybe some (or most?) progressive Democrats will disagree with me, but I think Chapman makes a lot of sense here. I believe it's true that in today's economic situation, Congress shouldn't skimp in spending to help struggling Americans. But $1400 each for everybody doesn't make sense. As I understand it, that's what President Biden (of whom I'm a BIG fan) wants to do.

I'm in agreement with Chapman that it should be limited to people who REALLY DO need it. Everybody would love free money, but many Americans would just use it to pay down debt or add to their savings. It needs to go to people who'll spend it. THAT'S how you stimulate the economy.

For God's sake, yes, let's inject lots of money into the economy where it'll do the most good. Now's not the time for austerity. But giving it to people who don't really need it is not going to help. Low and low-to-middle income people; struggling businesses; COVID relief. That's where the money should go. Not to people who'll just put it in the bank or pay off their credit cards with it.

In Space, No One Can Hear You Dance or Seeing the Clash at the Aragon Ballroom

Look at the second photo in this article. On the other side of the red fire department vehicle is an alley running between the Aragon Ballroom and the elevated railway tracks. On Aug 13, 1982, Mike Helm, Patrick Slater and I got in line at about 10am and sat down against the wall beneath that fire escape and waited for the doors to open in the evening so we could see the Clash perform on their Combat Rock tour. Graffiti on the wall provided the first of many dramatic and thematic touchstones for the day. It read, “UFO AIN'T SHIT WITHOUT SCHENKER!”

There were maybe only six people in line in front of us so we ended up front and center at the stage. Those kids (I think they'd all come together) had a boom box and treated the growing crowd to the band's entire catalog, continuously repeated until showtime. Immediately after we sat down in line, a couple of guys got in line behind us, lit a joint and passed it our way. It was a glorious day in the company of strangers who became fast friends gathered around our obvious common interest (and the only one that mattered, as it were.)

Mike, Pat and I were living in Cincinnati at the time, but Chicago was the closest the Clash would come to us on their tour. A huge fan, I immediately bought as many tickets as I could afford, as a bunch of my friends wanted to go. To use a football metaphor, I way outkicked my coverage on that one (a story unto itself.) As a result, I had 10 extra tickets and spent part of the day running off to try to hustle as many as I could sell (which was exactly none.)

We'd driven to Chicago the previous day – a trip that took better than twice as long as it should have (another story unto itself – let's just say that another touchstone of the experience was “Where in the hell is Lake Bluff?”) We had nowhere to go when the concert ended. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

For those in the know, this was after Topper Headon had been sacked and before Mick Jones was. As I understand it, the Clash always opened their show with “London Calling,” and that's what they did this night (oh yeah, and on top of everything else, it was Friday the 13th.) When they'd come out on stage, it was apparent that Jones and Joe Strummer had just had a king-hell argument in the green room. But anger played into their wheelhouse as performers and the show was great.

When it was over, it took forever to empty the place out. (And bear in mind, we were among the first in and, therefore, among the last out.) With the possible exception of a pickup basketball game years later in 100+ heat, I've never been so hot in my life as I was that night, slowly trundling out of the Aragon, all of us sweating profusely. It was the height of summer, so even in the evening, it had to be in the upper eighties. But it felt like heaven on earth when we finally hit fresh air.

After the show, and 300 miles from home with no place to go, we lazily threw frisbee for an hour or more as we let the parking garage clear out. Not that that really mattered because, as I said, we weren't going anywhere, anyway. We got pancakes at an all night diner and spent the rest of the night til dawn either walking along Lake Michigan or around the very sketchy neighborhood in the environs of the Aragon. We wouldn't realize until afterward just how dangerous a place this was at that hour for three white kids from the suburbs.

There's much more to the story but I'll just add this. My mom was born and raised on the south side of Chicago, so for me, this was sort of a coming home. Mike and Pat would head back to Cincinnati without me (10 extra tickets and two cars for three guys – efficiency was not our strong suit.) It was the summer after high school graduation and my first time away from home without my parents. I'd decided to make a vacation out of it. I'd see my aunt and uncle in the Chicago burbs, then visit my grandfather on his farm in Iowa. I'm a city mouse/country mouse kid, if you haven't already noticed. And tying a bow on (at least part of) this experience, when they were dating in the late 50s, my farm kid dad and Italian-Catholic mom had danced to big band music at the Aragon. So yeah,it was sorta like coming home.

Three Pieces of Underrated Vinyl - "Sandinista!"

Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone writes a pretty spot-on review of The Clash's Sandinista! on the occasion of the – can it be?! – fortieth anniversary of its release. I have a couple quibbles – chiefly that he describes Topper Headon's drumming as “floppy.” Headon is among the crispest, tightest – and surely, most underrated – drummers of all time. “Floppy” isn't an adjective that springs to mind when I think of him. Joe Strummer basically said he was the missing link that made the band go. It wasn't til Headon signed on that the Clash became the Clash.

Like Sheffield, though I love London Calling, Sandinista! is my favorite Clash album. But where he favors side 3, it was side 2 that mesmerized me. (“Rebel Waltz”/”Look Here”/”The Crooked Beat”/”Somebody Got Murdered”/”One More Time”/”One More Dub.”) Not surprising. The record was all over the map so it stands to reason different listeners would find different points of purchase on it. Also like him, I suppose it's no reach to assume, it was in heavy rotation in my headphones as a teenager. I've long counted it in my “desert top five.”

Forget Impeachment -- It's Right There in the Constitution

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell affirmed the obvious when he said: 'The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government, which they did not like.' That is sedition, plain and simple.”

The House needs to stop wasting time trying to impeach Donald Trump. Constitutional or not, the fact that he's already out of office gives House Republicans an easy excuse and cover not to vote for it. And it gives the same to Senate Republicans not to convict.

As I've been saying from the start, the 14th Amendment gives clear constitutional direction that seditionist office holders must be evicted from office and forbidden to run again. That starts with Trump and certainly includes Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Mo Brooks and Rudy Giuliani. And maybe others. Plus, as Chapman points out, it “would also affix a unique and permanent mark of infamy on the 45th president, which he has earned in full.”

Say what you want about Nancy Pelosi, but she's a smart and experienced political operative. Here's her chance to prove it. It's the Constitution. It needs to be invoked.

The Stock Market: An Inaccurate Barometer

Donald Trump always presented the stock market as a reflection of the economy and crowed about it when it was doing well. (I don't remember him talking about it much when it was down; funny, that.)

Conveniently for our former First Charlatan, the Dow is a scoreboard, as it were, and served as a bauble he could dangle in front of the eyes of his supporters. Most of them likely didn't understand the significance of it beyond “Up good, Down bad,” which isn't necessarily true anyway.

As a matter of full disclosure, I don't know much about the economy either, but I know enough to understand that the value of the stock market is by no means a reflection of economic health. In fact, as Robert Reich explains here, the stock market is doing splendidly while the economy has cratered.