This Is Rope-a-Dope With Actual Dopes

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Photo credit: SUSAN WALSH - Getty Images
Photo credit: SUSAN WALSH - Getty Images

(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To The Last Post Of The Week From The Blog’s Favorite Living Canadian)

For most of his career, Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton refused to give interviews. Carlton was an extraordinary talent. Famously, in 1972, he won 27 of the 59 games the Philadelphia Phillies won. He was elected to Cooperstown in 1994 and, that same year, Carlton finally granted an interview to Pat Jordan, a former major-league pitcher himself who became a successful writer and author. It turned out that Carlton had a lot to say, and most of it was stone crazy. Carlton lived in what Jordan called a “bunker” in Colorado. He evidently had lots of time to puzzle things out. From Deadspin:

He glanced sideways again. "The Revolution is definitely coming." He believes in the Revolution, only he isn't precisely sure which of a myriad of conspiratorial groups will begin it. Possibly, he says, it will be started by the Skull and Bones Society of Yale University. Or maybe the International Monetary Fund. Or the World Health Organization. There are so many conspiracies, and so little time. Sometimes all those conspiracies confuse him and he contradicts himself. One minute he'll say, "The Russian and U.S. governments fill the air with low-frequency sound waves meant to control us," and the next he'll say, "The Elders of Zion rule the world," and then, "The British MI-5 and-6 intelligence agencies have ruled the world since 1812," and, "Twelve Jewish bankers meeting in Switzerland rule the world," and, "The world is controlled by a committee of 300 which meets at a roundtable in Rome." The subterfuge starts early. Like the plot by the National Education Association to subvert American children with false teachings. "Don't tell me that two plus two equals four," he once said. "How do you know that two is two? That's the real question.”

This, of course, was garden-variety 20th century conspiracy-mongering, much of which had resulted in a lot of really terrible history. Carlton went on.

He believes that the last eight U.S. presidents have been guilty of treason, that President Clinton "has a black son" he won't acknowledge and that his wife, Hillary, "is a dyke," and that the AIDS virus was created at a secret Maryland biological warfare laboratory "to get rid of gays and blacks, and now they have a strain of the virus that can live ten days in the air or on a plate of food, because you know who most of the waiters are," and finally, that most of the mass murderers in this country who open fire indiscriminately in fast-food restaurants "are hypnotized to kill those people and then themselves immediately afterwards," as in the movie The Manchurian Candidate. He blinks once, twice, and says, "Who hypnotizes them? They do!”

All of which briefly gave the Hall of Fame pause; there was an outcry that Carlton’s talk about the Elders of Zion was pure, uncut anti-Semitism, which it certainly was. If Carlton were a marginal candidate, the interview might have sunk him, but his credentials were overwhelming, so he sailed through induction.

Photo credit: Louis Requena - Getty Images
Photo credit: Louis Requena - Getty Images

I was reminded of all of this when Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers unburdened himself of the sum total of his expertise in virology and epidemiology on Friday. He also played a clever game of wingnut Bingo, tossing in references to the “woke mob,” “cancel culture,” and “Joe Rogan.” From Yahoo! Sports:

"I realize I'm in the crosshairs of the woke mob right now," Rodgers said. "So before my final nail gets put in my cancel culture casket, I think I would like to set the record straight on so many of the blatant lies that are out there about myself.” … Rodgers continued to speak uninterrupted. He invoked "my body, my choice," thanked Joe Rogan for giving Rodgers advice and quoted Martin Luther King Jr.

I learned one thing during my 35-odd years of writing about sports and the people who play them, and that is you can never tell. Athletes of the caliber of Aaron Rodgers have been so single-minded throughout their lives that what they think about events and issues removed from sports bubbles around beneath the surface until it erupts occasionally in strange directions. This isn’t the same thing as athletes who speak out on issues and events, many of whom have a track record of activism we could consult. In the case of Carlton and Rodgers, though—one athlete who never talked about anything, and another one who, outside of his salary disputes, hadn’t ever said a controversial thing in public in his life—we have a sudden look at what’s bubbling under there. Of course, Carlton couldn’t sicken strangers into believing in the hidden hand of the Council of Rome. Aaron Rodgers, conceivably, could sicken a teammate, or a teammate’s wife, or a teammate’s child.

"I go back to these two questions for the woke mob. If the vaccine is so great, how come people are still getting Covid and spreading Covid and unfortunately dying from Covid? If the vax is safe, how come the manufacturers of the vaccine have full immunity?"

Oy. Maybe the wrong guy lives in a bunker.

Jeffrey Clark, the former assistant attorney general who, according to a Senate report, volunteered to be the point man at the Department of Justice for an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, paid a brief visit to the special committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. According to Betsy Woodruff Swan in Politico, Clark declined to cooperate and, through a letter from his lawyer that BWS saw, Clark cited a particularly bizarre reason why.

“Mr. Clark will, of course, abide by a future judicial decision(s) appropriately governing all underlying disputes with finality, but for now he must decline to testify as a threshold matter because the President’s confidences are not his to waive,” reads the letter, dated Nov. 5 and addressed to select panel chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). The letter is unusual and surprising; to make the case that Clark cannot testify to the Jan. 6 committee, it cites a separate letter in which Trump’s lawyer specifically said the former president would not try to block Clark’s congressional testimony…MacDougald's missive argued to the Jan. 6 panel that Trump's letter declining to impede Clark's testimony should, in fact, block it.

It’s easy to play rope-a-dope when you’re doing it with actual dopes.

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: “I Take What I Want” (Tinsley Ellis): Yeah, I still pretty much love New Orleans.

Weekly Visit To The Pathe Archives: One of the most eloquent speeches given at the climate summit in Glasgow came from Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados. Mottley was speaking on behalf of all island nations that face the most direct threat from the climate crisis, small countries in danger of sinking into the rising seas. As a tribute to Ms. Mottley, from 1957, here are some fishermen from Barbados…and in living color! I do not think I am alone in observing that, thanks to a heavy dose of Monty Python in my youth, I cannot listen to British narrators without giggling. History is so cool.

This Week In Old Stuff: I’ll still stick with aspirin and the hair of the dog, thanks. From Smithsonian:

The team found the ring in Yavne, south of Tel Aviv in central Israel, at a site that was home to a huge wine-making operation during the Byzantine era, reports Stuart Winer for the Times of Israel. The location is particularly striking given ancient lore regarding amethysts. “Many virtues have been attached to this gem, including the prevention of the side effect of drinking, the hangover,” says Amir Golani, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), in a statement. Researchers made the find near a warehouse used to store wine at the production facility, reports Rossella Tercatin for the Jerusalem Post. They were able to date the landfill where it was unearthed to the seventh century—a tumultuous time when the Byzantine Empire lost control of the region to Arab Muslim forces. The ring itself may predate this period.

Well, that’s enough to drive a fella to drink.

It is always touching to see a son’s devotion to his father. From the Washington Post:

The statement, which identified the teen as Youngkin’s 17-year-old son, emphasized that he did not end up voting and stated that he did not violate any state election laws. The Washington Post is not including the teen’s first name because he is a juvenile and has not been charged with a crime. The teen walked into the voting precinct inside the Great Falls Library on Tuesday afternoon, presenting his driver’s license to election officials when asked for a proof of identity, according to Jennifer Chanty, the precinct captain there.

Wait. Youngkin’s political operation gives up the kid, but the Post decides not to do so? Somebody needs to be fired.

Is it a good day for dinosaur news, UK News? It’s always a good day for dinosaur news!

Researchers report the unearthing of two almost complete skull fossils of the plant-eating dinosaur in Jameson Land, east Greenland. The new dinosaur species honours the local Inuit language – its scientific name Issi saaneq means ‘Cold Bone’. Previously mistaken for an already-existing species, Cold Bone lived during the late Triassic period approximately 214 million years ago when East Greenland was connected to Europe.

If a blues musician doesn’t scoop up “Cold Bone” as a stage name, this would be such a waste of obvious evidence that dinosaurs lived then to make us happy now.

I’ll be back on Monday to see if the House of Representatives has managed to stagger out of session yet. Be well and play nice, ya bastids. Stay above the snakeline, wear the damn mask, and get the damn shots, even the boosters. Don’t be an Aaron.

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