Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Saturday, December 25, 2021 12:27 am

A light in the darkness

For years now, since my kids were tiny, it has been my habit to stay up after everyone else has gone to sleep, watching in the dark as Christmas Eve turns into Christmas Day.

Christmas stories from the Bible generally come from Luke’s Gospel. But in recent years, one verse from John’s Gospel has reverberated with me more, and not just because I think about it at midnight. It’s a symbol not just of Christmas, but of everything — where we stand as a people and as a country, and where good and evil stand in this world. In both this country and the world, good is under constant, dangerous assault from evil. But evil has not yet triumphed.

Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. We don’t know what the future holds. All we know is the present, here and now. And this present might look very different to a Ukrainian, or an Uighyer.

But here’s how it looks to me, as John’s Gospel, Chapter 1, verse 5, has it:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

No whitewashing the past. No guarantees about the future. Just the Present, here and now.

That’s not the story Luke’s Gospel tells. It foretells the triumph of the Prince of Peace. But you and I, in the here and now, in the brief time we have here on Earth, have no guarantees.

What we have, I hope, is faith, even in the darkness. What we have, I hope, is the willingness and ability to work, right now, today, to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth. What we have, I hope, will be enough.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021 10:31 pm

Friday Random 10, Tuesday-night-after-class edition

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 10:31 pm

Rolling Stones – Get Off My Cloud
Chrissie Hynde – I Shall Be Released
Bruce Springsteen – The Rising
The Connells – ’74-’75
The Isley Brothers – Between the Sheets
Counting Crows – Goodnight Elisabeth
The Jayhawks – I’m Down to My Last Cigarette
The BoDeans – Don’t Be Lonely
U2 – New Year’s Day
Public Image Ltd. – Public Image

lagniappe: Dan Auerback – Goin’ Home

Friday, December 10, 2021 5:00 pm

Friday Random 10

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 5:00 pm

Monsters of Folk – Dear God
Wilco – Candyfloss
The Kings – This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ to Glide
Graham Parker & the Rumour – Local Girls
Hindu Love Gods – Battleship Chains
All-American Rejects – Dirty Little Secret
The Brains – Money Changes Everything
Bruce Springsteen – Better Days
Cat Power – Lived in Bars
Guns N’ Roses – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

lagniappe: Afghan Whigs – Night by Candlelight

lagniappe: Afghan Whigs –

Friday, December 3, 2021 4:54 pm

Friday Random 10, Top 10 Porch-Weather Day Edition

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 4:54 pm

R.E.M. – Mr. Richards
Rolling Stones – Satisfaction
Solomon Burke – Revelation Generation
Iggy Pop – Angel
BoDeans – Runaway Love
Offspring – Nitro (Youth Energy)
Blink 182 – Don’t Leave Me
The Clash – Rudie Can’t Fail
Sex Pistols – Belsen Was a Gas
Elvis Costello – Miracle Man

lagniappe: Third Eye Blind – The Background

Sunday, November 14, 2021 9:05 pm

Panthers 34, Cardinals 10

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 9:05 pm
Tags: ,

If there weren’t going to be butts in stadium seats for next week’s Panthers home game against the Washington Football Team before, there will be now.

In limited action in his first appearance at QB for the Panthers since Week 2 of the 2019 season, Cam Newton ran for one touchdown and threw to Robby Anderson for another. The plays were sandwiched between a Cardinals fumble forced by Hasaan Reddick, a turnover on downs, and a Cardinals interception and, with a Zane Gonzalez field goal, put the Panthers up 17-0 before the Cardinals, 8-1 coming into this game, even knew what was going on. (Gonzalez hit all four of his attempts today. Can I say what a pleasure it is not to have every Panthers field goal be an occasion for drama?)

Newton would touch the ball only a couple more times, but his impact put the league on notice: This team, with Newton (at least in short-yardage situations) and a fully healthy RB Christian McCaffrey, is not the team that lost five of its last six and lay down and died the past few weeks. Prior to this game, the Panthers had scored one touchdown in 12 quarters. Today, they scored twice in under 12 minutes and cruised to victory, evening their record at 5-5.

In fairness, Arizona QB1 Kyler Murray is still out with an injury. But Colt McCoy ran that team’s offense creditably last week. Certainly, there was no indication that the Cardinals would roll over the way they did.

McCaffrey looked like his hamstring wasn’t bothering him: He got 23 touches (13 rushes for 95 yards, 10 catches for 66 yards) and was pretty much uncontainable on the outside.

But this win was a complete team win. Even the O-line, arguably the league’s worst, played well today, with Pat Elflein replacing the injured Matt Paradis at center, and at one point the Panthers had accumulated 16 first downs to the Cardinals’ three. The defense, which came into the game second in the league overall, was ferocious, allowing the Cards only 149 yards, forcing three turnovers on downs, and garnering four sacks, with Reddick getting 1.5, to go with their interception and fumble recovery.

The Panthers return home next Sunday against Washington, whose coach, Ron Rivera, and general manager, Marty Hurney, held those same positions with Carolina when the team drafted Newton first overall in 2011. Bank of America stadium will be packed, and I can’t even imagine the energy it will contain when Newton, the 2015 MVP who led the Panthers to a Super Bowl that year, takes the field. The team still likes P.J. Walker in a backup role, and he was 22-for-29 today for 167 yards, but his interception was ugly and probably sealed his fate as the starter.

As I said a couple of days ago, I don’t know what’s going to happen with this team. But they would get a wild-card slot at 5-5 if the season ended today, and today all three of their divisional rivals lost. The Panthers play Miami after Washington, then get a bye before their last five games of the season. They will play divisional rivals in four of those games, so after the bye their fate could be very much in their own hands.

Friday, November 12, 2021 11:33 pm

Steve Bannon has been indicted. Hallelujer!

Why are so many people so overjoyed that Steve Bannon has been indicted (on two counts of contempt of Congress, for failure to testify and failure to provide subpoenaed documents)?

Simple. People elected Joe Biden president by 8 million votes and gave Democrats control of both houses of Congress because they wanted two things: action and accountability.

They’ve seen action, such as COVID relief (for which exactly zero Republicans voted) and the bipartisan infrastructure agreement (where the Republicans who voted for it are now being threatened by House GOP leadership with being stripped of their committee assignments). The country still needs for the Build Back Better Act to be passed, and it desperately needs some legislation protecting voting rights to be passed before 2022. But Biden and the Dems already have done more for American families than any president since FDR.

But Bannon’s indictment is the first bit of accountability for anyone important that those voters have seen since Biden’s inauguration. That matters, not just today but also for Dems’ 2022 and 2024 election hopes — and for the future of U.S. democracy.

The return of Cam

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 10:34 am
Tags: ,

Given Cam Newton’s injury history and the worst offensive line he has ever played behind, his return as QB1 for the Panthers could mean nothing — or a playoff berth.

Talk about a game changer. While the results on the field have yet to manifest, the return of former NFL MVP Cam Newton as quarterback for the Carolina Panthers has put a whole new positive spin on what had been shaping up to be a dismal season.

Even if Cam is not the magical Cam of 2015 anymore, he’s likely still a significant upgrade on current starter Sam Darnold (expected to be on injured reserve for four to six weeks with a cracked shoulder blade), P.J. Walker, and Matt Baxter, the other QBs on the roster. But more on the on-field aspect of this in a second.

For one thing, Cam Newton will provide a huge jolt to a Panthers locker room (particularly the offense) that it has needed all season. For another, the hope that Newton represents has sent fan enthusiasm through the ceiling. That translates into more butts in stadium seats, which makes for a better home environment for the team and more money for owner David Tepper, which is what he’s all about. Newton’s likely home debut will be Nov. 21 against the Washington Football Team, whose head coach and general manager were with the Panthers during Newton’s previous tenure, and whose roster features some former Panthers. It’s an instant rivalry game. And perhaps most critically for a rebuilding team, it stops the hemorrhage of draft picks in exchange for quarterbacks.

Now, about on-field performance.

Newton is 32. While he is a generational talent, it is unlikely in any event that he would be able to rekindle the performances of his youth — and extremely unlikely given that he is working behind arguably the league’s worst offensive line, a line worse than any of the bad ones he played behind after the magical Super Bowl season of 2015.

On the other hand, he has the league’s best RB1 (now that Derrick Henry is out) in Christian McCaffery and a talented stable of receivers, from DJ Moore, who has quietly become one of the top four or five wide receivers in the game, to emerging pass-catching tight end Tommy Tremble. If anyone can revive the moribund WR Robby Anderson, who had 1,000 receiving yards last year even without catching many deep passes (because Teddy Bridgewater, now with the Broncos, didn’t throw many) but has been an utter dud this year, it’s Newton.

And let’s not forget Newton’s running ability, especially in short-yardage and goal-line situations. He scored 12 rushing touchdowns with New England last year, to run his league career record for QBs in that category to 70. But even beyond those situations, Newton and McCaffrey, or Newton and rookie RB Chuba Hubbard, can run run-pass options all day. In short, this offense with Newton at the helm has the potential to keep itself on the field, and thus keep opposing offenses off the field, for big chunks of time. That also provides more rest for that talented defense.

I’ll admit I have no idea what will happen. This team has dug itself a big hole, and it’ll likely get deeper Sunday against Arizona (Newton won’t be playing and may not even be active). But I’ll give you my worst- and best-case scearios. keeping in mind that the back half of the team’s schedule will be significantly tougher than the front half was.

My worst case is that Newton badly underperforms his potential and/or gets injured again, a nontrivial possibility behind this putrid offensive line. The team, now 4-5, could finish 4-13 or 5-12.

My best-case scenario looks something like this: The team’s offensive production goes up by 7-10 points per game and the defense continues to hang tough, keeping the Panthers in at least mathematical contention for a playoff spot entering Week 17, the season’s penultimate week. At that point, for the Panthers, who will finish the season at divisional rivals New Orleans in Week 17 and division leader Tampa Bay in Week 18, it could be win-or-go-home in both games. Those are long odds, but in one game, anything can happen.

Friday, November 5, 2021 6:45 pm

Friday Random 10

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 6:45 pm

Tunes wafting in on the breeze, barely (if at all) audible, from the pregame festivities at my kids’ high school a mile away:

Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
Survivor – Eye of the Tiger
Tag Team – Oops, There It Is
Smashmouth – All Star
Gap Band – You Dropped a Bomb on Me
Blink 182 – All the Small Things
Bill Conti – Rocky theme
Bruce Springsteen – Glory Days
Black Sabbath – Iron Man

lagiappe: Van Halen – You Really Got Me

Saturday, October 16, 2021 5:59 pm

Friday Random 10, Saturday live-band-next-door edition

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 5:59 pm

Poison – Nothin’ But a Good Time
Billy Joel – You May Be Right
The Black Crowes – Hard to Handle
Bryan Adams – Run to You
Dolly Parton – 9 to 5
Tim McGraw – Refried Dreams
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Run Through the Jungle
Luke Bryan – One Margarita
Little River Band – Lonesome Loser
The Police – De Doo Doo Doo

lagniappe: Radiohead – High and Dry

Friday, October 8, 2021 6:36 pm

Friday Random 10

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 6:36 pm
Tags: ,

Steely Dan – Third World Man
R.E.M. – Rotary Ten
Grandmaster Melle Mel – White Lines (Don’t Do It)
U2 – Two Hearts Beat As One
Drivin’ ‘N’ Cryin’ – Around the Block Again
Replacements – We’ll Inherit the Earth
Run-DMC – Sucker MCs
Connells – Upside Down
Squeeze – Pulling Mussels from the Shell
Them – Gloria

lagniappe: My Terrible Friend – When I Decide

Thursday, October 7, 2021 4:49 pm

Dead anti-vaxxer schadenfreude

The Washington Post has an article up asking whether the schadenfreude many people feel as the result of the death by COVID of an anti-vaxxer is somehow making us less empathetic. Lord, I hope so.

The article quotes Macalester College researcher Piercarlo Valdesolo, who looks at moral judgment, as saying three things can cause people to feel schadenfreude: In-group/out-group psychology (because vaccination, or its willful refusal, can be a political identity; for the sufferer to have had the ability to avoid his fate, and this:

“… it needs to feel like the sufferer has done something harmful and that they deserve it,” Valdesolo says. “People who are vaccinated interpret the vaccine as something you do not only for yourself but to protect others, and not taking it actively harms other people. And when you’ve got an out-group member who is harming other people, perhaps people in your own group, now you’re prone to think, ‘Okay, this person deserves it.’ ”

And that’s the thing that the article, objective to a fault, doesn’t dwell on. The sufferer HAS done something shameful. They DO deserve it. Vaccination IS something you do not only for yourself but to protect others. Not taking it DOES actively harm others, whether directly via transmission or indirectly by providing a place for the virus to mutate and become potentially even more transmissible and/or harmful. The piece didn’t give those facts enough attention.

Moreover, the antivaxxers are literally the reason why none of us can have nice things. We can’t go out and mingle in public places without a mask. We can’t enjoy entertainment or nightlife without a mask, or sometimes at all. Traveling, especially by air, is more of a hassle. We can’t visit family and friends. And all of that is because earlier this year, a nontrivial percentage of Americans boneheadedly decided that real Americans don’t get vaccinated. Some antivaxxers even are campaigning against vaccinations against smallpox and polio. These people do not deserve empathy, for they certainly have none for us.

Anti-vaxxers deserve nothing but contempt, and society needs to make their selfish, even cruel behavior as inconvenient and expensive as possible. There is some good news, though: From airlines to medical centers, we’re seeing that vaccine mandates work. United Airlines, which mandated vaccinations for its employees, reports having received 20,000 applications for 2,000 flight-attendant positions — a higher ratio than before the pandemic. Turns out people want to work where vaccination is mandated.

So let’s have many more of them. Let’s have a federal vaccine mandate. That’s how we get back to where we were pre-Covid. And getting back to where we were pre-COVID is one thing we all can agree on.

Friday, October 1, 2021 6:04 pm

Friday Random 10

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 6:04 pm

Veto – You Say Yes, I Say Yes
Graham Parker – Anniversary
Iron and Wine – Half Moon
Warren Zevon – Hasten Down the Wind
My Enemy – My Enemy
Gin Blossoms – Highwire
R.E.M. – Crazy
Chicago – 25 or 6 to 4
Dreams So Real – Here Comes the Train
Blink 182 – Anthem

lagniappe: Blondie – Denis

Friday, September 24, 2021 6:06 pm

Friday Random 10

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 6:06 pm

Bus Boys – Dr. Doctor
Foo Fighters – Iron Rooster
R.E.M. – Sweetness Follows
The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
Dee Clark – Hot Potato
Bauhaus – Kick in the Eye
Stealin’ Horses – Ballad of the Pralltown Cafe
Bruce Springsteen – Youngstown
Pressure Boys – Is This Normal?
Hollies – On a Carousel

lagniappe: U2 – Fire

Saturday, September 11, 2021 8:46 am

9/11 + 20

I’ve already said what I need to say about what we lost on 9/11 and in its aftermath — what we lost, and what we pissed away. So today, as is my habit on this anniversary, I’m directing you to what Sars Bunting wrote three days after 9/11, as haunting and elegiac as anything I’ve ever read on the subject.

Sunday, August 15, 2021 7:38 pm

Colts 21, Panthers 18

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 7:38 pm

As you might expect of the first preseason game, it was ugly; at one point each team had 7 penalties, and that was before Carolina’s third-string O-line committed false starts on three consecutive plays.

The starters didn’t play on either side of the ball, so today was an opportunity to get a hard look at the second- and third-stringers. Primarily for the Panthers, that meant no Sam Darnold or his likely offensive weapons. Whether Darnold will outperform his time with the Jets and become the franchise QB the Panthers need will remain unsettled for at least another week.

The second-string defense had some really good moments. DEs Yetur Gross-Matos and Marquis Haynes, who started, had some excellent play between them, including a strip-sack and fumble recovery by Gross-Matos. The secondary looked good in spots as well, although it gave up 116 first-half yards; safety Kenny Robinson had the team’s only interception. Daviyon Nixon and Bravvion Roy both showed they could play at DT. Linebacker depth remains a concern. And Frankie Luvu forced a turnover by sacking Colts QB Jacob Eason deep in his backfield on fourth down.

P.J. Walker had a decent first half at QB for the Panthers. He was only 10-for-21, but he racked up 161 yards passing, a decent half’s work, and didn’t turn the ball over. He hit rookie second-round pick Terrace Marshall three times on five targets, and Marshall converted for 88 yards, looking about as spectacular as he did in Draft Night tape. Will Grier in the second half was a significant drop-off from Walker, going 6-for-10 for 31 yards. Were it up to me, Walker is the backup and Grier ends up on the street. In O-line news, Brady Christensen looks like he’s at least good enough to back up Taylor Moton at RT (if Moton doesn’t end up moving to LT). Other than him, though, the O-line play was not good, particularly in the second half, which will not assuage fans’ fears that last year’s anemic run game and inadequate pass protection will recur. In fairness, the line likely would have looked better if G Dennis Dailey had played with the second team, but he was excused for the weekend to tend to a family matter.

Rookie RB Chuba Hubbard looked good in the first half, getting seven carries for 80 yards, most of which was on a 60-yard run on third and short. He ran into the pile, which consisted of collapsing Panther O-linemen, then bounced back out and around right end. He should have made it to the end zone, but one of the fleeter Colts caught up with him.

Thomas Fletcher, who’s being given a look at long snapper, gave the team no reason to replace stalwart J.J. Jansen with him, but he did recover a fumbled punt. For kicker Joey Slye, every kick was an adventure. He missed a 60-plus-yarder, although he was not short, and he missed an extra point. A couple of his field goals were just inside the uprights.

Without a single starter on either side of the ball, it’s difficult to make any sweeping pronouncements about the state of the team. The practices this week with the Baltimore Ravens, and the game next Saturday in which the starters will play, should give us a much better picture.

Afghanistan was never winnable

Filed under: Reality: It works,Say a prayer — Lex @ 5:26 pm

The news from Afghanistan today in the wake of the American troop pull-out is grim: The Taliban have taken the national capital, Kabul. The U.S. has dispatched 2,500 Marines and soldiers to assist in the evacuation of U.S. Embassy personnel and dependents. Meanwhile, Afghan soldiers and political leaders are surrendering to the Taliban or fleeing to Kabul in hopes, probably vain, of being evacuated by the U.S.

Anyone who was around for the fall of South Vietnam in 1975 knows how this is going to go. I was around for it, not least because my ninth-grade health teacher, Larry Byers, had served a tour in Vietnam and had, arguably, an extracurricular interest in what was going down. He devoted several of our classes to watching TV news about the North Vietnamese advance on Saigon and the hurried American attempts to abandon the place, rather than on the regular health curriculum. Neither I nor, so far as I recall, any other boy in that class felt cheated.

So what puzzles me today is why so many people who were around for the fall of South Vietnam didn’t see this coming.

The reason the U.S. went into Afghanistan in 2001 — or at least the reason the government gave us — was that the Taliban in Afghanistan was protecting Osama bin Laden, who had, with a lot of Saudi help and money, planned and launched the 9//11 attacks. So, on the surface, it seemed logical to go in and pursue bin Laden and his Taliban protectors.

Thing is, the Taliban were mostly the same guerillas the U.S. had armed to try to expel Soviet invaders during the 1980s. They succeeded, but that didn’t mean they were U.S. allies. For all that, Afghanistan remained very tribal, with only a loose central government. The best the U.S. could have hoped for, the only thing that might have had a chance of looking like a victory, would have been to pop into the country, kill or capture Osama bin Laden, and pop right back out, letting the devil take the hindmost.

That is not, of course, what happened.

Bush allowed bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora in 2001 by sending Afghan units after him instead of well-trained, well-supplied U.S. military units. And with that escape went any chance of anything that the U.S. could point to as a victory in Afghanistan. Bush should have evacuated the country then and there.

His next best option was to take that time to work with Afghanistan to try to stand up a competent Afghan army and national police force. Whether that was doable under any circumstances was arguable at best. It clearly was never going to be doable if, after occupying Afghanistan, the Bush administration and the military immediately turned their attention and resources to the invasion of Iraq (under the, shall we say, mistaken belief that Iraq was preparing to use weapons of mass destruction). I’m not sure when soldiers on the ground first decided that the war was unwinnable, but they definitely had by the time bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan — more than a decade before we finally withdrew.

This is going to be awful for the Afghan people, particularly women and girls. But it’s too late for us to mount a military offensive to drive the Taliban back into hiding. America has along since tired of fighting this war — both service members and the public at large, except for some of the generals, who, remember, have been lying to us for years about how that war was going. No, the time for doing something passed long ago.

Thursday, August 5, 2021 12:08 am

Friday Random 10, Wednesday-after-class edition

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 12:08 am

Steely Dan – Bad Sneakers
Replacements – Shooting Dirty Pool
Blink 182- Josie
Graham Parker – Don’t Ask Me Questions
R.E.M. – Walk It Back
Dictators – Faster and Louder
Mudcrutch – Love of the Bayou
Pressure Boys – Hallow’s Eve
Wilco – More …
Tonio K – The Ballad of the Night the Clocks All Stopped (and the Government Failed)

lagniappe: LMNT: Hey Juliet

lagniappe lagniappe: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Chicago, 1/16/2009: Thunder Road

Tuesday, August 3, 2021 12:21 am

Friday Random 10, Monday late night edition

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 12:21 am

R.E.M. – Shaking Through
Commodores – Brick House
Lyres – Ain’t That Lovin’ You, Baby
Sarah Siskind – Falling Stars
The Hold Steady – The Weekenders
Hindu Love Gods – Walking Blues
Roy Orbison – Working for the Man
Connells – Something to Say
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Comin’ Home
U2 – Stuck in a Moment

lagniappe: Scarface – Money and the Power

Friday, July 16, 2021 11:08 pm

Friday Random 10

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 11:08 pm

Counting Crows – Hangin’ Around
Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues
Jerry Lee Lewis – Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On
Islands – Rough Gem
R.E.M. – Pale Blue Eyes
AC/DC – Moneytalks
Solomon Burke – She Thinks I Still Care
Pink – U + Ur Hand
The Offspring – Come Out and Play
Monomyth – Candleholder

lagniappe: Rolling Stones – All Down the Line

Friday, July 9, 2021 6:08 pm

Friday Random 10

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 6:08 pm

R.E.M. – Can’t Get There from Here
Connells – Gauntlet
Pressure Boys – Lava Booger
Rolling Stones – Time Is on My Side (live)
New York Dolls – Frankenstein
Warren Zevon – Jungle Work
Pearl Jam – Corduroy
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Thunder Road (live acoustic)
Counting Crows – Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby
Third Eye Blind – London


The Cult – Brother Wolf, Sister Moon

Friday, May 14, 2021 5:05 pm

Friday Random 10

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 5:05 pm

Neil Young & Crazy Horse — Country Home
R.E.M. — Chorus and the Ring
The Brains — Hypnotized
The Smithereens — Blues Before and After
The Cult — Revolution
Big Pink — She’s No Sense
Hornit — Twisted
Squeeze — There’s No Tomorrow
R.E.M. — New Orleans Instrumental No. 2
Diana Krall — They Can’t Take That Away From Me

lagniappe: Cheap Trick — Oh Caroline

Friday, April 16, 2021 4:52 pm

Friday Random 10

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 4:52 pm

Elvis Costello – Mouth Almighty
Solomon Burke – These Arms of Mine
Crowded House – Something So Strong
Bob Dylan – Lay Lady Lay
Brothers Johnson – Get the Funk Out Ma Face
AC/DC – Moneytalks
U2 – Love Rescue Me
R.E.M. – All the Way to Reno (You’re Gonna Be a Star)
Velvet Underground – Heroin
John Hiatt – Circle Back

lagniappe: Suicidal Tendencies – Institutionalized

Wednesday, April 14, 2021 4:39 pm

America doesn’t value journalism’s values, and why that’s a bad thing

For America to function well as a democracy, more Americans need to adopt the values of journalists rather than disdaining them.

Media columnist Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post brings news of a new study that finds that when you ask Americans what they think of common journalistic values, without telling them that the values are from journalism, people don’t think much of them.

The study tested five core journalistic values — oversight, transparency, factuality, spotlighting wrongdoing, and giving voice to the voiceless — and found that only one, factuality, enjoyed support by a majority of Americans surveyed (about 70 percent). Sullivan also notes:

The value drawing the least support is the idea that a good way to make society better is to spotlight its problems. Only about 3 in 10 agree.

And only about 1 in 10 Americans fully support all five of the journalism values that were tested.

Researchers believe the lack of support is attributable more to people’s moral instincts than to their politics.

The report divides respondents into four groups, according to their various moral principles: Upholders, Loyalists, Moralists, and Journalism Supporters. Alas, that last group is the smallest of the four. But we have a chance of making inroads with some of the others.

Upholders, for example, put a high value on respect for leaders and groups [and therefore do not rate the journalistic value of oversight highly]. “They worry that some of the things journalists believe in can be intrusive and get in the way of officials doing their jobs,” the report notes. They would like to see more stories about what works, not just what is going wrong. In general, there is an appetite for more solutions-oriented journalism.

I was doing solutions-oriented investigative journalism back in the ’90s, and I wasn’t alone, for whatever that insight is worth.

The study couches its findings in the context of public trust in the news media, which, Sullivan notes, has dropped from about 70% in the early 1970s to about 40% today. And she raises the question: If journalism’s values aren’t popular with the public, does journalism need new values?

I’m going to argue just the opposite: For America to function well as a democracy, more Americans need to adopt these values of journalists rather than disdaining them. The fact that Journalism Supporters were the smallest identified group among study subjects explains a helluva lot about what’s been going wrong in our country over the past 50 years. There is some corroborative evidence in the report, which finds that support for journalistic values correlates with education level, for example.

You also cannot talk about American trust in news media without talking about the unrelenting conservative campaign against news media that dates at least to the Nixon administration. When conservatives haven’t been trying to squelch news media, they’ve been trying to co-opt it, as the Reagan administration’s Michael Deaver did, or discredit it entirely, which has been Donald Trump’s approach as he developed the concept of “fake news” — news that reported information that he didn’t like or that made him look bad. His epithet had its roots in the Nazi phrase lugenpresse, or “lying press.” So Trump, in the memorable phrase of Trump advisor Richard Bannon, set out to “flood the zone with shit” — so much shit that our news media, as big and wealthy as they are, literally could not keep up. Nor could our institutions, such as the Congress and the courts.

Relatedly, you cannot talk about that trust without acknowledging that the real decision makers in U.S. news media — the people who decide how much money there will be for news coverage and where that coverage money will go — are almost all wealthy people who identify with the wealthy and powerful, not the man or woman on the street and certainly not with racial/ethnic minorities, LGBTQ folks, and so on. They are not about giving voice to the voiceless, and the people whom journalists try to hold to account frequently are their friends.

But the Framers of the Constitution understood how badly the nation they had created would need these journalistic values. That’s why they included freedom of the press in the First Amendment. And they did so even though the press of the day was in many ways as antagonistic, partisan, and virulent as it is today; it is no coincidence that among quotes about journalism attributed to Thomas Jefferson is at least one that praises newspapers and at least one that damns them. The Framers envisioned that in the nation they were creating, any man — at least, any propertied white man — might function as a journalist. Societal moves toward more equity as time passed and the advent of the Internet and portable devices have brought what the Framers envisioned into full view.

And can anyone seriously argue that the country would be better off if journalists did not value oversight, transparency, factuality, spotlighting wrongdoing, and giving voice to the voiceless? Can anyone argue that the country would be more democratic without those values? Certainly the Framers would not.

If we are to keep the Republic the Framers vouchsafed to us, the country needs journalism more than journalism needs the country. Journalism and its values should be taught as early as elementary school, and American citizens who are serious about protecting and improving our democratic republic should embrace these values not just in their own lives but also in their political and moral choices.

Thursday, March 11, 2021 5:46 pm

Friday Random 10, Thursday Porch-Weather Edition

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 5:46 pm

The Vibrators – Watch Out Baby
Mission UK – Like a Hurricane
The Clash – The Right Profile
James Brown – Think
R.E.M. – Arms of Love
Warren Zevon – The Heartache
Sarah Bethe Nelson – Paying
U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Carl Perkins – Blue Suede Shoes
Cheap Trick – Ain’t That a Shame

Lagniappe: New York Dolls – Jet Boy

Friday, March 5, 2021 11:34 am

The truth about truth and reconciliation?

A new article implies that Greensboro’s 2004 Truth & Reconciliation initiative was less a well-intentioned failure than grift.

Mother Jones magazine has published an interesting take on the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, the city’s 2004 Truth and Reconciliation Commission convened to investigate the massacre, and T&R processes generally. I think the writers’ conclusion is generally correct: Such processes can be long on truth but usually are short on reconciliation. I had that same impression of Greensboro’s process when I covered it almost two decades ago.

That said, the writers depict the T&R process less as a well-intentioned failure than as a grift of some sort (they refer derogatorily to the so-called “Truth and Reconciliation Complex”), which I don’t think is accurate, let alone appropriate. I think that in part because the piece basically ignored that many of the former CWP members did indeed acknowledge and apologize for the fact that their intemperate language helped raise the temperature of the times and might even have prompted the violence. The writers convey the impression that the CWP members in general, and the Rev. Nelson Johnson in particular, were using the process as a means of squeezing out from under any responsibility for the incident and the deaths. I have no idea what was in Johnson’s mind at the beginning of the T&R process, but I was there and can tell you what resulted from it: Johnson and many of his colleagues apologized, publicly and unreservedly, for their roles. And while the writers acknowledged that the city was found liable for its role, they generally whitewash by omission the Greensboro Police Department’s involvement via informant.

As with all parachute journalism, it gets a few other things wrong that locals would spot easily: Greensboro hasn’t been a “mill city” for decades. It is located west, not north, of the “university-heavy” Research Triangle. And Greensboro is pretty university-heavy itself — between UNCG, N.C. A&T, Bennett College, Greensboro College, Guilford College, GTCC, and Elon Law, it is a bigger college town than Columbus, Ohio.

I’ll be particularly interested in the response of Jill Williams, then the executive director of the GTRC, who is quoted in the piece but described as if she somehow benefited personally from what the article implies is the grift of T&R work by getting jobs at, first, the Andrus Family Fund, which funded Greensboro’s T&R Commission, and then the International Center for Transitional Justice, another nonprofit.

The writers apparently are involved in a larger project examining T&R processes generally, which is fine. And they certainly are correct that Greensboro’s T&R process didn’t result in much reconciliation. But they fail in examining why.

I’ve lived in Greensboro for almost 35 years. I was a journalist here for 22 years. In particular, I was the journalist who patiently nursed along a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI for years during the 1990s, seeking declassification and disclosure of that agency’s records on the massacre and subsequent investigation. (Those records were released in time for the News & Record to report on them around the 20th anniversary of the massacre; my colleague and friend Lorraine Ahearn wrote the articles, which you can still find on the N&R’s website.)

My impression as someone who didn’t grow up here but has lived here a long time is that part of the reason there hasn’t been reconciliation is not just that people had a pox-on-both-their-houses attitude toward both the Klan/Nazis and the CWP. No, a lot of white folks in this town still believe that it’s perfectly OK for rightists to kill leftists in the streets — that the victims had it coming. (That attitude has been reflected nationally in the rise of Donald Trump as a political figure, with its apotheosis being the Jan. 6 seditious attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump followers.) That attitude is morally stillborn, but it still prevails.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021 5:04 pm

We told you this would happen

Republicans on a dangerous antidemocratic path since 1994 today conjured violence in the people’s U.S. Capitol.

As I write, hundreds or thousands of pro-Trump supporters have breached the U.S. Capitol — for the first time since the War of 1812, according to the Capitol historian — and forced the suspension of what should have been a pro-forma, if lengthy, counting of Electoral College ballots. TV news shows evidence of at least five injuries and is reporting that at least one person has been shot and critically wounded (UPDATE, 5:48 p.m.: she died) inside the Capitol. Moreover, at least one explosive device was found at the Capitol. These rioters — yes, rioters — were there at the urging of President Donald Trump, who spoke at the protesters’ rally earlier today and urged them to march on the Capitol, raving falsely that the election had been stolen from him.

So many of us told you this would happen. You laughed, or demurred, or insisted that we were taking Trump too seriously. Not so much, it turns out. Welcome to the banana republic, population: you.

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd calls this “unfortunate.” But it is seditious conspiracy. U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called it “sedition” and said, correctly, “This is what the president has caused.”

Here is the seditious-conspiracy statute, 18 USC 2384:

“If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

The rioters conspired to oppose by force the authority of the U.S. government and by force prevented, hindered, and delayed the execution of U.S. law, and took and possessed the Capitol contrary to the authority of the U.S. government. Every single one of them needs to go away for 20 years. So does Trump himself for inciting this sedition.

It’s not just Trump who has brought us to this pass. It also is the Republican Party. Republicans have been marching down an antidemocratic, minority-rule path since at least 1994. Republicans rioted in 2000 to interrupt the vote recount in Florida — not one of them was arrested, and a recount was unlawfully stopped — and Republicans have ignored decade-old warnings that the likeliest source of domestic violence and terror was not Islamicist terrorism but homegrown right-wing white nationalists.

And so here we are.

It’s not clear now why the Capitol Police weren’t prepared for this, but they weren’t. The protest had been talked about on social media for days, and Trump had been egging his right-wing nationalist followers on. Moreover, its lack of preparedness raises the question of how it is going to ensure security and safety at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration in two weeks.

It’s also important to note that if this had happened in any state, that state’s governor could have called out the National Guard immediately. But in D.C., that request must be relayed up the Department of Defense chain of command, which delayed the Guard response today. If you’re looking for another argument for statehood for the District of Columbia, welp, here you go.

How did Capitol Police allow this to happen, and how are they going to ensure safety at the presidential inaugural in two weeks? One of those questions has a long-term answer, but one needs to be answered right away.

How do we prevent this from happening again? For one thing, swift enforcement of the criminal law, and, yes, some people need to be made examples of. For another, Donald Trump must be impeached immediately and removed from office to ensure he never again holds a position of trust and responsibility within the U.S. government. He also needs to be criminally charged after leaving office for inciting this riot, for it wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t egged the protesters into rioting and sedition. He eventually gave in to requests from Republicans to urge the rioters to stand down, but even in doing that, he made clear where his sympathy lay, calling Biden supporters names and telling the rioters, “We love you.”

Three other Republicans, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, bear particular responsibility for today’s insurrection. They were the prime movers behind the efforts of some Congressional Republicans to overturn the valid, duly certified electoral-college ballots submitted by some states that Biden carried. They knew that under our Constitution and the law, they had zero chance of success, but Cruz and Hawley, at least, both hoped to win the approval of the Trumpite base as they plan their respective runs for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. Gohmert, after his joke of a lawsuit was dismissed, went on the far-right-wing outlet Newsmax to say that the correct response to the dismissal of his suit was “violence in the streets.” All three should be expelled from Congress and indicted and prosecuted, as well.

The government must begin taking white-nationalist terrorism seriously, devoting resources to undermining and punishing it swiftly and harshly when it manifests. Biden, in his remarks, emphasized that the rioters were a tiny minority, and perhaps they are. But they look more numerous than that — and a number of rioters told MSNBC reporters today, “This is not over.”

But we’re not going to be out of the woods until American voters start holding Republican politicians responsible for sedition. And I see zero likelihood that that is going to happen anytime soon. So it’s entirely possible we could see sedition like this again, perhaps as soon as at Biden’s inauguration.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Saturday, December 12, 2020 2:01 pm

Punish them, or they’ll just keep coming back

The Constitution specifies how sedition by American officials should be treated. Let’s follow the Constitution.

Ever since the pardon of Richard M. Nixon by Gerald Ford, we in America have been letting GOP criminals off the hook. Ford pardoned Nixon. Reagan and Bush the Elder got away with Iran-contra. Not only that, on his way out of office, Bush the elder pardoned Iran-contra conspirators with the assistance of Bill Barr, then as now an attorney general who believes there are no legal constraints on the executive branch. Bush the Younger, and his minions, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Don Rumsfeld, et al., got away with torture.

And what do we have to show for all this lenience? The worst batch of GOP criminals yet.

It remains to be seen whether Donald Trump and his minions will be held to account. But as bad as their crimes were, there’s one even bigger issue implicating Trump, 18 state attorneys general, and more than half of House Republicans: seditious conspiracy, an attempt to overturn the lawful and fair outcome of a presidential election.

Earlier this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued four other states, arguing 1) that they had violated their own constitutions/laws by allowing executive-branch officials rather than legislators to change election laws and 2) that Texas somehow had been harmed by this. Notwithstanding the fact that Texas did some of the same things that it was accusing other states of doing, 17 Republican attorneys general filed amici briefs signing on to the suit, as did more than half of House Republicans.

The suit was the most egregious of more than 50 legal actions Trump’s lawyers have taken since the election to try to overturn the will of the people. Joe Biden won the election popular vote by 81 million to 74 million and the Electoral College by 306 to 232. Had all the votes been counted on election night, people would be talking about Biden’s comfortable margin of victory. Vote tallies eventually were certified throughout the United States, and Biden won fair and square. Even Bill Barr who has served in office more as Trump’s personal attorney than as attorney general for all the people, admitted finding no significant issues in the election, let along anything approaching the wild accusations of cheating that Trump supporters had leveled. (That has led to renewed talk that Trump might fire him — imagine, not being corrupt enough for Trump.)

But because it took most of a week to count the ballots — because of Republican-approved measures, but that’s a long story — Trump could screech about “election theft” and his backers believed him, the fact that he is, at this writing, 1-56 1-58 in court notwithstanding. Many of those suits were almost literally laughed out of court.

The attorney general of Pennsylvania, one of the states sued by Texas, didn’t laugh at the suit. He snarled at it instead, calling it “seditious abuse” of the legal process. And he was right: The lawsuit was a seditious conspiracy of the type barred by 18 U.S.C. 2384:

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

The suit struck the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, at least, as in violation of this statute, at least as far as conspiring to overthrow a duly elected government went. (And there’s precedent for documents being acts of sedition: Consider the articles of secession of the Confederate states.) And believe it or not, the Constitution has something to say about that. From Section 3 of the Fourteenth 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. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

“No person SHALL.” That means that the House has an affirmative duty not to seat for the 117th Congress (which opens Jan. 3) any House member who signed on to the “seditious abuse” of the Paxton lawsuit. And IANAL, but as I read this, residents of the states whose AGs signed on may sue in federal court to have their respective AGs removed. I hope at least some of them will. (Paxton himself has more immediate problems: He has been under indictment since 2015 on securities-fraud charges, and some top aides who recently left his office have accused him of taking bribes and abusing his office. I speculate, and I am not alone, that he started this whole thing just to catch Trump’s eye in hopes of being pre-emptively pardoned before Trump leaves office.)

Refusing to seat that many House members at once would be unprecedented and would heighten the already huge conflict between Republicans and Democrats. And I’m not under any illusions that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have the guts to do it, even though the language of the 14th Amendment appears to give her no choice. And I get the idea that Biden and his team, as well as congressional Democrats, will face so much Trumpian damage come Jan. 20 that their triage of the many crises we face may not allow time to be devoted to this.

But the Republicans have been playing with the fire of fascism since at least 1994 and arguably since the early 1960s. Their doing so has damaged the country repeatedly in significant part because they are never held to account. It is high time they got burned by their own flame, in public fashion, to discourage anyone else from engaging in sedition. Otherwise, history suggests, it’ll happen again. And next time, the perps might be just as evil and unpatriotic as Trump and his allies — and nowhere near as stupid.

Thursday, December 10, 2020 4:28 pm

Friday Random 10, Thursday edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 4:28 pm
Tags: ,

Monkey Sees — Chris Mars
Say a Prayer — Tom Verlaine
Smells Like Teen Spirit — Nirvana
Mixed Emotions — Rolling Stone
Nashville Skyline Rag — Bob Dylan
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town — Pearl Jam
There at the Top — Squeeze
This Too Shall Pass — OK Go
Pablo Picasso — Burning Sensations
I’ll Go Crazy — James Brown

lagniappe: Look Through Any Window — Hollies

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 5:51 pm

There must be prison

If President-elect Joe Biden doesn’t appoint an attorney general who is inclined to investigate and prosecute at least the biggest crimes of the Trump administration, then he is being derelict in his duty.

Donald Trump has committed so many crimes — not just impeachable offenses, but outright crimes — in broad freakin’ daylight that it seems impossible to consider that perhaps he shouldn’t be investigated and prosecuted for them once he leaves office.

But apparently it’s not impossible for Joe Biden to consider. NBC News reported today that Biden has told aides that he’s concerned that investigations would divide the country, but that he would leave decisions up to an independent Justice Department.

On the one hand, this was predictable, given how Biden campaigned as a uniter and not a divider. And, sure, everyone wants to dial down the partisanship a little, right?

But on the other hand, OH COME ON.

I can’t believe we’re even having to say this, but, hell, YES, he should be criminally investigated, prosecuted if probable cause is found, and sent to prison if convicted. Biden says he wants the Justice Department to be independent — and that’s good! But if he doesn’t appoint an attorney general who is inclined to investigate and prosecute at least the biggest crimes of the Trump administration, Biden, who as president has a constitutional duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” is being derelict in his duty.

Here’s the thing: For 50 years, we have been letting criminal Republicans off the hook. What do we have to show for these 50 years of letting GOP criminals off? More and worse GOP criminals. The normalization of everything from political dirty tricks to torture and treason. And a republic that was at the edge of the abyss before Biden beat Trump and is still one hell of a long way from out of the woods. If we are to avoid anything like a Trump administration again, which everyone who believes in democracy thinks would be a good thing to do, then we must punish Trump and his minions.

The sins of Donald Trump and his minions have been so many, varied and spectacular that if I were to list them all I’d be writing this blog post for the rest of my life. Just for starters, let’s look at the stuff he did right out in the open, like permanently separating immigrant children from their parents at the border — at least 666 that we know of. I am not a lawyer, but that appears to me to constitute one form of genocide under the U.S. genocide statute, 18 USC 1091(a)(6). And it’s not just Trump who is culpable; other investigative targets should include Alex Azar, then and now Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Kirstjen Nielsen, then Secretary of Homeland Security, as well as Trump White House aide Stephen Miller, who has been reported as being behind the separation plan.

In addition, federal prosecutors in Manhattan named “Individual-1,” later identified as Trump, as an unindicted co-conspirator in the conspiracy to violate election law by funneling hush money to Stormy Daniels. Currently, a Watergate-era Justice Department policy precludes indictment of a sitting president, but that protection evaporates once Trump leaves office Jan. 20.

Vol. 2 of the Mueller Report indicated that Trump obstructed justice up to 10 times during the investigation. Indeed, Special Counsel Robert Mueller made it clear that if not for that Justice Department policy, he would have indicted Trump on a number of those counts. (Some more clearly include all three statutorily defined elements of the crime than others.)

And those are just what is out in the open. Subjects crying out for either new or renewed criminal or counterterrorism investigation include the 2016 Trump campaign’s relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Trump’s finances, of which the little that has come to light has suggested the possibility of tax fraud, bank fraud (or both), and conspiracy. Trump’s former CFO cooperated with the Mueller investigation and is now cooperating with state and local prosecutors in New York.

It’s not just that the crimes themselves are bad, although they are. Trump’s entire administration was full of grifting (almost $200 million in tax money to his resorts for golf alone), and he ran the government not like a chief executive, but like a mobster. Every relationship was purely transactional, with nothing undertaken in the nation’s best interests. He didn’t even try to govern in the interests of states that had not voted for him in 2016.

The reason that prosecution would be so symbolically important is that it would send the signal that that’s not how you faithfully execute the office of president — and that no one else should try it ever again.

Joe Biden also would be wise to ponder his decision in the context of the 2022 midterms. Voters in the 2018 midterms indicated strongly that they wanted Trump held accountable, and a majority of Americans approved his impeachment earlier this year. If Biden doesn’t at least look like he’s trying to seek justice for Trump’s crimes, a lot of the Democratic base will sit home in 2022, just as they did in 2010, with disastrous results for the party, for the country as a whole, and for many states. They shouldn’t — I get it; it would be stupid and self-destructive — but they probably will.

Finally, if Trump and at least some of his minions do not go to prison for their crimes, then the country will be admitting that we are no longer a nation under the rule of law. And if we’re not that, then what good are we?

Saturday, September 12, 2020 8:00 am

The Panthers will go 4-12 and miss the playoffs

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 8:00 am

Obviously, I’d love to be wrong about this. But facts are facts.

I’ve been watching this team since its first home exhibition in 1995. As goes the O-line, so goes the season. The Panthers, who gave up more sacks than anyone else last year, have a decent O-line on paper, but basically no depth. Moreover, starting left guard Dennis Daley already is out with an ankle injury for Week 1, and as I write this there’s no one listed behind him on the depth chart. Obviously SOMEbody will play, but that’s going to hurt the run game and result in a lot of pressure on QB Teddy Bridgewater.

As for the rest of the offense: The WRs are potentially a huge threat, especially if Curtis Samuel breaks out like he hinted at last season, and offer Bridgewater a lot of weapons, not to mention RB Christian McCaffery, who is as good a slot receiver as there is in the league (and proved it last season with a 1,000/1,000 season) when he’s not running the football. If Bridgewater gets time to stay in the pocket and work his progressions — and that’s a big if — the Panthers may hang a lot of points on a lot of people.

But that won’t be enough. The defensive front seven couldn’t and didn’t replace the retired ILB Luke Kuechly. First-round draft pick Derrick Brown and Kawann Short, returning from injury, will make the Panthers tough up the middle. But will the linebackers be able to close the deal on running plays? And will that front seven be able to sack the star QBs they’ll be facing twice in Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan? Depth also is a concern here.

But the real concern, and it’s huge, is the DBs. Tre Boston returns at safety, but he’s joined by Juston Burris, who has started only nine games in his career. Donte Jackson has this year to prove he can be the man at CB1, and while he has shown flashes, he’ll face some of the toughest WRs in the league twice and I just don’t know how he’ll do. Rookie Troy Pride will start at the other corner, and you know QBs will be firing at him early and often.

On special teams, I’m not sure K Joey Slye won’t be gone by midseason. (I was reminded again Thursday night watching the Chiefs that the Panthers could have had Harrison Butker at kicker but let him get away. That one hurt.) Pharoah Cooper will return kicks and punts, but this special team is going to have to perform significantly better than it did last year.

But here’s the biggest reason I think the Panthers are going to have a poor year: luck. For them to have success (a playoff spot, which they still might snag at third in the division under the new playoff format), a lot of things would have to break just the right way in the league’s toughest division. The Panthers haven’t been lucky since the 2015 season, and I’m not feeling lucky on their behalf heading into 2020. I think injuries will hurt the O-line and the linebackers, and I don’t think our corners are up to their competition. I also don’t think this new, young team will be able to handle adversity well, starting with the fact that they’re playing the eighth toughest schedule in the league. I see wins against perhaps the Chargers, Lions, Bears, and Washington and a high draft pick again in 2021. Again, I hope I’m wrong.

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