With all the discussion this summer about things like health care reform, cash-for-clunkers, and our country’s faltering economy, it might be easy to forget sometimes that the men and women of our armed forces have been fighting wars in two nasty, inhospitable countries far, far away for the better part of eight years now. As hard as people think it might be to give up salary for unpaid furloughs or other hardships Americans have had to endure lately, it pales in comparison to getting shipped halfway around the world to get shot at in 130-degree heat.
It’s hard to believe that someone would willingly choose that as a job, yet millions of heroic Americans who believe in their country and what it stands for voluntarily sign on to keep our nation safe from our enemies. It’s especially hard to believe that people would give up seemingly everything to do it, but that’s exactly what former Miami Heat first-round draft pick Tim James did.
Political cable TV shows tend to give me a headache; they’re pointless, absurdly partisan, and my dog refuses to stay in the house when one is on. I’ve also used Bill O’Reilly’s voice to drive raccoons from beneath my house (sorry, PETA). But once in a while their posturing can be beneficial and result in good, clean fun.
Cable pundits have long known that any heartwarming story connected to our fighting men overseas is good for ratings. And that goes for the Iraqi citizenry as well, apparently; especially when it involves literally exporting our national pastime to them. And so we learn that as of Monday, Iraq’s National Baseball Team only had one uniform (a Japanese one), and nine gloves for about 18 players. And three baseballs. But don’t worry — MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is coming to the rescue! Read more…
If you turned on ESPN2 after you woke up this morning, you may have noticed the opening game of the Concederation’s Cup in South Africa kicking off. The Con Cup is essentially a fabricated event, put on by FIFA as a tune-up for the World Cup a year before the larger event kicks off; a way to test the host country’s ability to put on the real show 12 months later.
(You’re paying $500,000-1 million for this team to get crushed in Africa.)
This 2009 Con. Cup got started with a match between the host, South Africa, and Iraq. Wait, Iraq is at an international soccer tournament? How are they paying for it? Well, that’s a good question, particularly since it’s probably setting the nation back at least $500,000 to get to the event and stay there for its duration. The last time we checked, much of that funding was still coming directly from American taxpayers’ pockets.
If you’d told the Oakland Raiderettes that they’d be heading to a place that has warm weather, a tradition of fear based on a fanatical dictator, and thousands of people who are all dressed the same and have a trained predilection toward combat, the cheerleaders wouldn’t bat an eye - that describes every Raiders home game of the last ten years.
It also describes Iraq, unfortunately, and that’s where the young ladies set off to last week. Once there, they put on their variety show for our soldiers at COB* Basra last week. According to REDBULLS.ORG, the official website of the Army National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division, the Raiderettes didn’t disappoint: Read more…
Iraq may be experiencing its first taste with democracy, but the real American exports are just a couple of weeks away. On Super Bowl Sunday (or ass-early Monday morning for them), soldiers across the country will kick back with a couple of beers and watch the big game on large-screen TVs. I think this is the surest sign yet that we won.
Gen. Ray Odierno, the top commander in Iraq (and former tight end at West Point), signed a waiver to allow troops, for the first time, to crack open some cold ones while the Giants win their second straight Super Bowl. The army missive doesn’t mention the Giants, but I’m just going to assume. They’ll be limited to two 12-oz beers, which means no tall boys, no 40s, and no blindingly drunk soldiers accidentally causing major international incidents.
In a war-torn country like Iraq, the re-building of a soccer team was one of the few bright lights for the populace, a rallying point — particularly when the team won the Asian Cup last year by beating Saudi Arabia. Now, that group of players and rallying point for a country is in limbo, as the Iraqi Football Association has disbanded the team and fired its coach Adnan Hamad.
(The Iraqi team is likely in a much less jovial mood than shown in this Asian Cup photo.)
The team missed the final qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with a loss to Qatar on Sunday, and part of the IFA’s reasoning behind the disbanding is a need for more government cash in order to lure foreign coaching talent.
As if Iraq didn’t have enough problems to deal with, now they can’t even get their correct national anthem played:
REUTERS reports how the Iraqi soccer team was treated to the wrong song at a tournament match in Thailand.
Before their game at Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, Iraqi players & officials expecting a patriotic piece heard something completely different on the stadium speakers. As the mistaken melody went on, one Iraqi official stood up & shouted, “This isn’t our anthem, what is this song? Where did they get this from?”
Tournament organizers blame the Iraqis themselves, claiming that the team gave them the wrong CD.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to properly label any music you burn.
DAVID FEHERTY’S LIFE CAN FIT INTO A SHINY, LITTLE BOX: USA TODAY has a cool recounting of a PGA Tour representatives visiting the troops in Iraq last month. Tom Watson and Tom Lehman were the headliners, but CBS announcer David Feherty probably scored the highest recog factor with the young soldiers.
Excerpt: “The troops recognized Feherty — or at least his voice — because he does voiceovers on EA Sports’ Tiger Woods video game.“Feherty, who is from Ireland, had glowing praise for those videogame mavens: “(I was) stunned by the competence and intelligence of every single soldier we met. The smartest people America has are in Iraq.”
That might be a little exaggeration, but if we hung around the people who came up with the FedEx Cup, we’d probably be saying the same thing.
HOLY COW! SOLDIER DOES FERRELL DOING HARRY CARAY: When you’re stationed thousands of miles from home, fighting to keep yourself and your comrades alive, you try to find some levity to make the most of the situation.
COLLEGE HUMOR offers up video of a U.S. soldier in Iraq trying to inject some humor into a routine vehicle inspection. The grunt gets some grins from his fellow troops by talking like Harry Caray. Check that - talking like Will Ferrell talking like Harry Caray.In a gravelly, exaggerated voice, the soldier asks one of the stopped men, “Do you have any weapons of mass destruction?” He follows that zinger up with, “If you had a weapon made of barbecue spare ribs, would you eat it?”
All the confused Iraqi can do is smile and respond, “No understand.”
The GI actually does quite a good job capturing the essence of the ex-SNL’er mimicking the late Cubs caller. And for that, we salute you. Oh, and also for defending the country.But to get a better idea of the original source, we present some other Caray-esque carriers-on to evaulate. Such as:
• ’90s comedian John Caponera.
• Cubs hurler Ryan Dempster.
• And for the ultimate comparison, the Bud Man Himself.