Monday, September 26, 2011

MC-D's Indianapolis Colts Haiku, Week 3

D and Addai: Indy's Dynamic Dyad; Kaylee Becomes a Cowabunga Keiki 

Colts look better!
Kate Agrees. The grands take Kaylee
On her first beach trip.

--Mary Campbell-Droze

At this point I would be remiss if I didn't note that the quantity of Indianapolis Colts content in the haikus themself seems to be falling in direct inverse proportion to the number of losses they are piling up.  (On the bright side for Mary, Peyton looked good up in the press box last night.  At least he wasn't wearing a cervical collar!)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Who Will Create the Frame for the 2012 Election?

(So here's a post in which I try not to be Mr. Crankypants about politics, but instead try to share a look at politics in a way that may actually help some of you to see some of the same things I see when I look at the upcoming campaign.  Let me know if you find it helpful, and I may crank out a few more as November 2012 looms.)

You will often here political commentators talk about "framing the issues" but I don't know that they often do a good job of explaining what it is, or how it's done.  The reason framing of issues is especially important in an election campaign.

If the battle lines follow the framing of the current jobs and deficit debate, the Democrats might finally be on the winning side of the rhetorical frame for the first time in a long time.  The shape of what we'll likely see became a bit clearer to me as I read this story in the Sunday New York Times: Obama Offers Plan to Cut Deficit by Over $3 Trillion (New York Times, Sept. 18, 2011)

In particular, these two paragraphs struck me:

Mr. Obama’s proposal is certain to receive sharp criticism from Congressional Republicans, who on Sunday were already taking apart one element of the proposal that the administration let out early: the so-called Buffett Rule. The rule — named for the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett, who has complained that he is taxed at a lower rate than his employees — calls for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers. 

That proposal, which was disclosed on Saturday, was met with derision Sunday by Republican lawmakers, who said it amounted to “class warfare” and a political tactic intended to portray his opponents as indifferent to the hardships facing middle-class Americans. 

If that's the framing for the 2012 election, the Democrats will win.  And the Republicans will have helped them by making such a huge screaming deal out of long-term deficits, and by then forcing the question of "tax cuts for billionaires" vs. "cut Grandma's Social Security check and take away her arthritis medication."

However, in terms of the linguistic battlefield for the 2012 election, I'm not sure it will play out that way. The GOP deserves credit for one of their great strengths, their ability to impose a verbal frame on an issue by repeating their preferred term in lockstep.  For example, this is how they brought us "the death tax" to replace "the estate tax" a change that worked to their great advantage in that debate.

Language provides a powerful frame for issues because the terms to discuss an issue often serve to define it in a voter's mind.  And the best way to get the media to adopt your preferred terminology is to repeat it incessantly.  Democrats are notoriously undisciplined on this front, which is why they keep debating Social Security "entitlements" instead of "earned benefits."

You'll also notice the GOP's talking-point discipline in the current tax debate as GOP pols and pundits focus exclusively on the income tax without including regressive federal taxes like payroll and excise taxes, or state or local taxes that also tend to be regressive.  It is simply not at all true that lower- and middle-income families don't pay federal taxes. In fact, they pay those other taxes as a much greater portion of their income than do the wealthy.  And so from the anti-income-tax crowd you will see a steady succession of charts showing only the income tax without ever discussing payroll, excise, state, or local taxes, or indeed the total tax burden.

Cutting out one piece of an issue from the broader debate also provides a frame.  If you can convince a lot of people that most of America is freeloading off a tax burden that goes only on a very few, that seems a lot more unfair than if you demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of Americans pay a greater percentage of their income in federal taxes to pay for Social Security and Medicare than do the wealthy.

(FWIW, here's a link to a pretty good analysis of total tax burden by income from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.)

One last thought about the linguistic framing we're seeing as we head into 2012.  One of the odder current verbal ticks of the GOP is their insistence on calling the wealthy "job creators."  I understand why they do it, but this one might come back to bite them because reality keeps demonstrating that showering the wealthy with tax cuts doesn't actually create any jobs. I sense increasing eye-rolling as that phrase gets thrown out there more and more often.  It just feels like rhetorical trickery taken that one step too far.  In an age of nearly 10% unemployment while we have the lowest tax burden on the wealthy and the highest corporate profits in 50 years, that gap between linguistic framing and reality starts to look pretty awkward.  We'll see how it plays out.

As the campaign cranks up over the next 14 months, don't just look at what the candidates are saying.  Look at how they're saying it.  That will tell you how they're framing their argument and their campaign.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Caution: The Most Disturbing Limerick Thread of All Time

The trouble started with the usual cast of characters and an e-mailed link to some weird (and in this case truly disturbing) news:

From: Tim Kardos
Subject: What rhymes with todger? 

Chinese bloke gets eel lodged up todger: 
Anguilline exfoliation treatment ends in 'severe pain'

From: John Magee

Aaaaagh!!!!! This isn't limerick-able.  It's really more suited for some sort of horrible horror movie.

The horror. The horror.

From: Mary Campbell-Droze

So far I have a title: The Artful Dodger Todger Lodger.  And it sounds like Mugs would prefer that's as far as I get.

From: Tim Kardos

A word for todger that rhymes
Would help in composing these lines
About a Chinaman's penis
And a bath with some eelies
Thank god they didn't have spines

From: Mary Campbell-Droze

The lesson we learned from this farce:
Take care if your clothing's too sparse.
Whether eel-filled lakes
Or in public---Pete sakes!---
Just be sure to cover your arse.

From: John Magee

The eel in the Chinaman's todger
Was quite an unwelcome guest lodger.
It swam up the urethra
Which you'd usually peethra,
To which I say, "AAAAAGGGH! AAAAAGGGH! AAAAAGGGH! Don't tell me any more! Dear God, please make it stop!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Colts/Katie/Kaylee Update, Week 2, in which MC-D's pain continues...

Hark! Hark! The Colts Do Yark! 

Colts get dog-bit. Ra- bies?
Kate sez, "Not me!" (Kaylee
drools, but is teething.)

-- Mary Campbell-Droze

Monday, September 12, 2011

NFL Week 1 Beagles, Colts, n' Grandaughters Haiku Report

Pondering the Post-Peyton Playbook and Performance Pithily, or, PPPPPPTH

Dear Kate: Colts ain't great.
But Captain Comeback's Niners
Win! Kaylee says, "FUB!"*

* "Football" is currently a single-syllable word within the 14-month-old demographic

--Mary Campbell-Droze

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Lost Souls Fantasy Football League 2011 Preview

Howdy everybody, and welcome to the Lost Souls 2011 Preview!

Will United Loonies, Inc., repeat as the playoff champion? Will the Death Mutants continue their incredible run of regular-season points championships? The numbers (courtesy of David Dodd's stats forecast on don't lie.  But they have been known to shade the truth a bit on occasion.  This time they forecast a new King of Lost Souls and a closer title race than ever before.  Indeed, it looks as if nearly everybody could make a run at the title this year.  So without further ado, it's on to the show!

2011 Forecast Rankings
1. The Wraiths, 11-1, 89.4 ppg.
2. Death Mutants, 10-2, 88.5 ppg.
3. United Loonies, Inc., 8-5, 86.7 ppg.
4. Puking Buzzards, 7-6, 85.6 ppg.
5. Sirenian Sisters, 6-6, 82.9 ppg.
6. Rapid Molasses, 6-6, 82.1 ppg.
7. Custom Critters, 6-6, 81.4 ppg.
8. Spaz Corps, 5-7, 79.9 ppg.
9. Screaming Babies, 5-7, 79.7 ppg.
10. Savage Iguanas, 4-8, 77.0 ppg.
11. Howling Huns, 3-9, 73.4 ppg.
12. Spandex Stallions, 2-10, 71.9 ppg.

1. The Wraiths, 11-1, 89.4 ppg.
QB - Drew Brees (346.6 pts.), Jay Cutler (267.4 pts.), John Beck (92.3 pts.)
RB - Ray Rice (245.8 pts.), Rashard Mendenhall (220.5 pts.), Mike Tolbert (131.9 pts.), Demarco Murray (85 pts.), Marion Barber (78.8 pts.)
WR - Vincent Jackson (181.1 pts.), Brandon Lloyd (158.3 pts.), Dez Bryant (155.4 pts.), Mario Manningham (145.4 pts.)
TE - Aaron Hernandez (111 pts.), Dustin Keller (94.4 pts.)
K - Nate Kaeding (130 pts.), Shaun Suisham (116 pts.)
D - Philadelphia Eagles (160.3 pts.), Arizona Cardinals (51 pts.)

Break up The Wraiths! The projections forecast a new King of Lost Souls!  We shall see whether they can really knock off the Death Mutants, but Ray's team is a legitimate title contender led by studs QB Drew Brees, RBs Ray Rice, RB Rashard Mendenhall, and WR Vincent Jackson. The Wraiths also benefit from strong depth at QB, RB, and WR, the potent Philly defense, and top kicker Nate Kaeding bringing up the rear. This team looks good from top to bottom, and they look deep enough to weather the bumps and bruises of the season.  We could be witnessing the dawn of the next Lost Souls dynasty.

2. Death Mutants, 10-2, 87.5 ppg.
QB - Sam Bradford (292.1 pts.), Blaine Gabbert (78.4 pts.), Peyton Manning (???.? pts.)
RB - Adrian Peterson (245.5 pts.), Steven Jackson (202.2 pts.), Mark Ingram (178.6 pts.), James Starks (108.6 pts.), Ben Tate (60.6 pts.)
WR - Andre Johnson (200.4 pts.), Larry Fitzgerald (178.8 pts.), Austin Collie (128.8 pts.), Jacoby Ford (114 pts.)
TE - Antonio Gates (135 pts.), Lance Kendricks (80.8 pts.)
K - Stephen Gostkowski (127 pts.), Garrett Hartley (61 pts.)
D - New York Giants (131.3 pts.), Atlanta Falcons (107.3 pts.)

The numbers had already forecast a fall from the top spot for the Death Mutants before today's neck surgery put Peyton Manning out for most of the year.  Now, it's time to see how Plan B(radford) goes.

Maybe years of anti-Bryan legislation have finally taken their toll.  Or perhaps it's just roster neglect from a sleep-deprived father of twins.  Whatever the cause, the Mutant dynasty is suddenly vulnerable thanks to Manning's neck injury, aging RB Steven Jackson, TE Antonio Gates's sore feet, and suspect kicking and defensive squads.  Will the Mutant King be toppled?  Bryan hasn't had to scramble mid-season in quite a while. Stay tuned, fasten your seat belts, and hang on tight to your stud QBs. It's gonna be a bumpy ride!

3. United Loonies, Inc., 7-5, 86.7 ppg.
QB - Michael Vick (367.1 pts.), Matthew Stafford (302.4 pts.), Colt McCoy (237.1 pts.)
RB - Frank Gore (208 pts.), DeAngelo Williams (179.3 pts.), Marshawn Lynch (156.8 pts.), Willis McGahee (103.3 pts.), Bernard Scott (97.4 pts.)
WR - Dwayne Bowe (163.5 pts.), Reggie Wayne (145.3 pts.), Sidney Rice (113.5 pts.), Mike Williams SEA (89.5 pts.)
TE - Vernon Davis (121.9 pts.), Jared Cook (92.1 pts.)
K - Adam Vinatieri (114 pts.), Robbie Gould (105 pts.)
D - Pittsburgh Steelers (183.3 pts.), Miami Dolphins (81.3 pts.)

Poor Loonies. Always forecast to at least be a bridesmaid. Always doomed to mediocrity.

2010 was an exception to that rule, however, as the Loonies rallied late last year to win the playoffs after a disappointing regular season. In theory the addition of high-scoring paragon-of-virtue QB Michael Vick could lift the Loonies to their first regular-season championship.  In reality the Loonies will get four total games between Vick and QB2 Matthew Stafford, leaving 3rd-stringer Colt McCoy to lead the Loonie squad for most of the season.  Beyond the looming QB debacle the entire Loonie squad is flush with injury-prone malingers. Even K Adam Vinatieri missed 10 games on the DL in 2009. Let's face it, I'm screwed.  Andrew Luck, here we come!

4. Puking Buzzards, 7-5, 85.6 ppg.
QB - Philip Rivers (350.8 pts.), Joe Flacco (280.8 pts.), Andy Dalton (206 pts.)
RB - Darren McFadden (211.2 pts.), Matt Forte (200.5 pts.), Daniel Thomas (101.9 pts.), Michael Bush (92.2 pts.), Stevan Ridley (65.3 pts.)
WR - Roddy White (184.7 pts.), Kenny Britt (141.5 pts.), Steve Johnson (140 pts.), Marques Colston (122.5 pts.)
TE - Jason Witten (124.3 pts.), Jermaine Gresham (80.2 pts.)
K - Lawrence Tynes (111 pts.), Dan Bailey (106 pts.)
D - New York Jets (160.3 pts.), Indianapolis Colts (73 pts.)

The Buzzards look set to make another strong run this year, led by the studly quartet of QB Philip Rivers, RBs Darren McFadden and Matt Forte, WR Roddy White, and TE Jason Witten.  If those four live up to expectations this is another squad that could make a run at the title.  If not, well then the buzzards will be circling high above ... er, the buzzards. (Do they do that? It seems awfully cannibalistic.)

5. Sirenian Sisters, 6-6, 82.9 ppg.
QB - Ben Roethlisberger (320.9 pts.), Mark Sanchez (276.6 pts.), Shaun Hill (17.1 pts.)
RB - LeSean McCoy (217.7 pts.), Maurice Jones-Drew (215.2 pts.), Jonathan Stewart (112.3 pts.), Jerome Harrison (72 pts.)
WR - Hakeem Nicks (181.5 pts.), Santonio Holmes (153.6 pts.), Santana Moss (130.2 pts.), Lee Evans (100 pts.), Chad Ochocinco (96.5 pts.)
TE - Marcedes Lewis (103.8 pts.), Chris Cooley (59.4 pts.)
K - Jason Hanson (111 pts.), Jay Feely (101 pts.)
D - New England Patriots (146 pts.), San Diego Chargers (115.7 pts.)

After several good drafts the window of opportunity is wide open for the Sirenian Sisters.  QB Ben Roethlisberger "With Cheese", RB LeSean McCoy, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, WR Hakeem Nicks, and WR Santonio Holmes all look poised for career years.  This could be the year that the Sisters vault to the top.  (Note to Self: Conduct investigation into why Monique picks good players off my draft lists, while I pick crap. Second Note to Self: Be sure to give Monique bad Yahoo rankings for her draft next year. Third Note to Self: Be sure to delete these "Notes to Self" before posting this preseason writeup where she can see it.)

6. Rapid Molasses, 6-6, 82.1 ppg.
QB - Matt Ryan (297.4 pts.), Ryan Fitzpatrick (214.2 pts.), Alex Smith (191.4 pts.)
RB - Jamaal Charles (244.1 pts.), Peyton Hillis (214.5 pts.), Chris Wells (171.2 pts.), Montario Hardesty (69 pts.)
WR - Greg Jennings (168.6 pts.), Miles Austin (162.3 pts.), Mike Thomas (119.8 pts.), Greg Little (83.5 pts.), Antonio Brown (65.6 pts.)
TE - Brandon Pettigrew (91.5 pts.), Todd Heap (58.7 pts.)
K - Sebastian Janikowski (110 pts.), Matt Prater (98 pts.)
D - New Orleans Saints (130.7 pts.), Chicago Bears (124 pts.)

The Molasses look like another squad that will be a serious title contender again this year after finishing 2nd in total points in 2011.  There's a lot of young studliness on this squad in the form of QB Matt Ryan, RBs Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hills, WRs Gregg Jennings and Miles Austin, and TE Brandon Pettigrew.  (Hmmmn ... here we have yet another wife who's drafting acument his weekend has again proven she knows more about fantasy football than her husband.  Gentlemen, it's apparent to everybody that we all married up without ceding fantasy football, too.  Please, pick up the pace. Men everywhere are relying on you.)

7. Custom Critters, 6-6, 81.4 ppg.
QB - Tom Brady (359.6 pts.), Donovan McNabb (230.4 pts.), Jake Locker (25 pts.)
RB - Ahmad Bradshaw (190.2 pts.), Reggie Bush (164.4 pts.), Joseph Addai (139.6 pts.), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (122 pts.)
WR - Mike Wallace (168.7 pts.), Julio Jones (126.2 pts.), Jeremy Maclin (117.8 pts.), Nate Burleson (103.3 pts.), Plaxico Burress (101.3 pts.)
TE - Owen Daniels (117.3 pts.), Visanthe Shiancoe (61.5 pts.)
K - Alex Henery (123 pts.), Connor Barth (102 pts.)
D - Green Bay Packers (158.2 pts.), Dallas Cowboys (89 pts.)

The Critters look like another team that could make a run at the title. Any squad with QB Tom Brady is always going to be a contender, but they'll need better-than-expected seasons from some of their other players to get over the top.  Fortunately for Critter fans everywhere, the roster features a lot of players with upside this season. It seems likely that two of their four RBs (Bradshaw, Bush, Addai, and the Law Firm of Benjarvus Green-Ellis) will manage to outproduce their projections.  There's crazy upside between their young WRs (Wallace, J.Jones, and Maclin) and their savvy vets (Burleson and Plax), and TE Owen Daniels spent the preseason as everybody's fantasy sleeper darling.  At worst, the Critters look like a team finally ready to move out of the second division.

8. Spaz Corps, 5-7, 79.9 ppg.
QB - Aaron Rodgers (380.4 pts.), Matt Hasselbeck (213.3 pts.), Colin Kaepernick (34.6 pts.)
RB - Chris Johnson (240.8 pts.), Fred Jackson (164.2 pts.), C.J. Spiller (108.8 pts.), Pierre Thomas (105.9 pts.), Thomas Jones (81.2 pts.)
WR - DeSean Jackson (147.1 pts.), Wes Welker (135.5 pts.), Lance Moore (113.8 pts.), Steve Breaston (75.2 pts.)
TE - Rob Gronkowski (115.8 pts.), Heath Miller (78.4 pts.)
K - Neil Rackers (116 pts.), Dan Carpenter (102 pts.)
D - San Francisco 49ers (109.2 pts.), Tennessee Titans (62 pts.)

The Good: Two top-shelf studs: QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Chris Johnson.
The Bad: Suspect starting production at WR1, WR2, TE, and Defense. Suspect depth at QB and RB.
The Spazzy: Weird Al Yankovic with his finger in a light socket.

9. Screaming Babies, 5-7, 79.7 ppg.
QB - Matt Schaub (301.6 pts.), Eli Manning (286.6 pts.), Vince Young (40.9 pts.)
RB - Arian Foster (235.9 pts.), Felix Jones (196.1 pts.), Jahvid Best (173.4 pts.), LaDainian Tomlinson (84.9 pts.), Kendall Hunter (57.2 pts.)
WR - Brandon Marshall (145.3 pts.), Percy Harvin (137.7 pts.), Mike Sims-Walker (110.8 pts.), Braylon Edwards (94.7 pts.)
TE - Jermichael Finley (130.3 pts.), Zach Miller (81.0 pts.)
K - Josh Brown (104 pts.), David Akers (96.0 pts.)
D - Detroit Lions (113 pts.), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (101.3 pts.)

Who'd have thought it? Eli is the right Manning to own this year. The End Days are nigh, my friends.

Beyond their backup QB, there's a lot to like on Chris's improving roster, starting with QB Matt Schaub.  But there's also a ton of injury potential with red-cross question marks around RBs Arian Foster, Felix Jones, Jahvid Best, as well as all four WRs: Brandon Marshall, Percy Harvin, Mike Sims-Walker, and Braylon Edwards.  If the pieces fall into place, the Babies could scream up the rankings.  But it's more likely that they'll end up in the diaper dumpster.

10. Savage Iguanas, 4-8, 77.0 ppg.
QB - Tony Romo (353.9 pts.), Matt Cassel (246.8 pts.), David Garrard (188.4 pts.)
RB - LeGarrette Blount (189.1 pts.), Shonn Greene (171.7 pts.), Cedric Benson (161.6 pts.), Ricky Williams (81.1 pts.), Shane Vereen (46.2 pts.)
WR - Calvin Johnson (197.5 pts.), Malcom Floyd (111.8 pts.), Robert Meachem (97.5 pts.), Deion Branch (85.7 pts.)
TE - Jimmy Graham (109.3 pts.), Tony Gonzalez (91.4 pts.)
K - Mason Crosby (129 pts.), Rob Bironas (103 pts.)
D - Kansas City Chiefs (60.3 pts.), Oakland Raiders (59 pts.)

Incredibly enough, a case can even be made for the Savage Iguanas to lizard their way back to fantasy relevance in 2011.  QB Tony Romo, RBs LeGarrette Blount and Shonn Greene, WR Calvin Johnson, TE Jimmy Graham, and K Mason Crosby could all be top players at their positions.  But there's a problem in a WR2 position that looks like a committee of Malcom Floyd, Robert Meachem, and Deion Branch.  And the KC/Oakland combination at defense is the poster child for this year's "Draft Duds Not Studs" campaign.

Ron, you shoulda persisted.  If you had just tried to draft Chris Johnson a few more times this year, I'm sure that Bryan would've eventually put him on your squad!

11. Howling Huns, 3-9, 73.4 ppg.
QB - Josh Freeman (302.2 pts.), Cam Newton (232.2 pts.), Chad Henne (181.5 pts.)
RB - Michael Turner (196.2 pts.), Knowshon Moreno (167.3 pts.), Delone Carter (90.9 pts.), Roy Helu (76.5 pts.)
WR - Mike Williams TB (157.4 pts.), A.J. Green (124.9 pts.), Steve Smith CAR (110.1 pts.), Michael Crabtree (77.3 pts.), Emmanuel Sanders (52.8 pts.)
TE - Kellen Winslow (94.2 pts.), Greg Olsen (80.7 pts.)
K - Billy Cundiff (113 pts.), John Kasay (58 pts.)
D - Baltimore Ravens (132.3 pts.), Carolina Panthers (62.7 pts.)

The current state of the Huns can only mean one thing: Bryan, you need to start doing more household chores so that Cynthia can get back to concentrating on football!  This looks like a rebuilding year for the Huns, much as it will be for her beloved Panthers.  Cynthia's going about it the right way with a lot of youth with upside on the squad: QBs Josh Freeman and Cam Newton; RBs Knowshon Moreno, Delone Carter, and Roy Helu; and WRs Mike Williams (the good one from TB), A.J. Green, Michael Crabtree and, Emmanuel Sanders.  There may be a future in Hun-dom, but 2011 looks like a lost cause.

12. Spandex Stallions, 2-10, 71.9 ppg.
QB - Kevin Kolb (272.4 pts.), Jason Campbell (248.7 pts.), Kyle Orton (225.8 pts.)
RB - Ryan Mathews (170.0 pts.), Tim Hightower (159.8 pts.), Brandon Jacobs (142.1 pts.), Ryan Grant (132 pts.)
WR - Anquan Boldin (138.7 pts.), Pierre Garcon (123.2 pts.), Johnny Knox (107 pts.), Hines Ward (95 pts.), Derrick Mason (72.6 pts.)
TE - Dallas Clark (120.0 pts.), Fred Davis (78.7 pts.)
K - Matt Bryant (111.0 pts.), Josh Scobee (109.0 pts.)
D - Minnesota Vikings (108.3 pts.), Cleveland Browns (56.7 pts.)

My mother always told me that if you can't say anything nice, you shouldn't say anything at all. So, here goes.  Well, um ... TE Dallas Clark would've been good if Peyton Manning wasn't broken.

Oh, Susan, Susan, Susan. I can only imagine you were hoping the lockout would continue well into the regular season so that you wouldn't have to roll this motley assortment onto the field.  On the bright side, Spandex Stallions fans around the globe congratulate you on your clever strategy of locking up the Andrew Luck draft pick this early!

And that's the 2011 preview.  Have a fun season everybody.  And remember, friends don't let friends trade their stud QBs to Bryan.