Two Steps from Hell
— United We Stand,
Divided We Fall ...
Beat the drums. Clash the cymbals. Today is another opportunity to “yank the country by the bootstraps” and make this nation work.
My vote? First, as a start on national unification, ban lobbyists and bar Grover Norquist. Eliminate the straight-party vote, forcing citizens to be informed about candidates. While we’re at it, eliminate political parties. These entrenched adversaries have created what some call the most polarized nation since the Civil War. How do you govern in the face of gridlock?
The insoluble problem in our entitlement society is that one can’t get elected on a platform calling for the painful decisions that are needed. Too many vote for themselves, not the candidates. Maybe capitalism, which has become unbalanced, wasn’t meant to last forever. We’ve screwed it up, so we deserve what we get, and it isn’t chocolate ice cream.
Oops, you caught me trying to sneak out of my fun-and-games pigpen. So here are my votes in a more narrow and familiar range.
And, we’re off ...
— My first vote is against early voting. With more information gained Sunday, I’ve made an overnight swing to Tracy Abrams as Illini point guard. He is not a natural like Frank, Deron, Dee and Demetri, but he could be another Chester Frazier with his bulldog tenacity. Meanwhile, John Groce tackles the job of trying to break Brandon Paul from his turnover tendencies. Basically, Groce doesn’t have a true point (Matt Bollant does in Alexis Smith) and must work around it.
— I vote for a four-team playoff in college football (due in 2014) and, while not yet convinced, look forward to studying plans about stretching it to eight.
— I vote for Jerry Colangelo as Mr. Basketball for his success in herding all those egos brought together for the U.S. Olympic team.
— I vote for Yadier Molina as MVP of the Cardinals because leadership and savvy mean more than batting statistics.
— I vote for Angels outfielder Mike Trout as American League MVP because speed and defense mean more than Triple Crown numbers and the Gold Glove, which he didn’t get.
— I vote for Bo Ryan as the most proficient college basketball coach for milking the most out of his talent. His Wisconsin teams have finished higher than projected almost every year. Now let’s see how he does without injured standout Josh Gasser.
— I vote for UI grad Shahid Khan, the mustachioed one on “60 Minutes,” for leaping the highest from a standing start, and trying to do the same thing with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Few realize the extent of his contributions to the UI.
— My vote for Illinois “Sportswriter of the Year” goes to Paul Klee, even though he’ll miss the last two months as a new resident of Denver.
— I’m prepared to vote for “Justified,” which returns in January, over the “Boardwalk Empire” series that was dragging prior to Sunday’s explosive ending.
— My respect goes to the Noels and Robesons, whom I happen to know, and to dozens I don’t know for their incredible support of Krannert. And Clint, we miss you.
— I watched the Country Music Awards this week and voted no. I know Johnny Cash died, but where were George Jones and Merle Haggard? And who were those young guys making all that noise?
— I vote for Tony Clements because he makes me laugh.
— Here’s an advance vote for the upcoming movie “The Lone Ranger,” with crazy Johnny Depp taking the Tonto role from the late Jay Silverheels, and upstaging the masked man. Looks like “Hell on Wheels,” only better.
— I call for unanimous support of Bob Easter for an extended term as UI president, proving it’s not necessary to look beyond the campus for leadership.
— Nebraska’s fans earned my respect as the best anywhere after watching them fill the stadium at Northwestern, and this after the Cornhuskers lost 63-38 to Ohio State.
— I vote for Urbana’s George Will as “Man of the Year” for defining the nation’s financial problems and presenting them in words I can understand, which is not always the case.
— I congratulate George Shapland for being a community mover-shaker and entrepreneur without flaunting it. Keep going, George.
— My vote goes to the Bears’ Lovie Smith as the most underrated and overlooked professional football coach. Or did you think those defensive performances were an accident?
— After first giving the benefit of doubt, I now vote for Graham Spanier as “Biggest Loser” for putting Penn State football ahead of his duty to mankind and being revealed by the same kind of incriminating evidence that Richard Nixon left behind.
Stuffing the ballot
— My vote for greatest Illinois product in the NBA stays with Isiah Thomas, although Dwyane Wade and Kevin Garnett will draw strong consideration when they retire, and Anthony Davis may someday reach that level.
— I vote for Mike Ditka and Clint Eastwood for being Mike Ditka and Clint Eastwood. And I join the throngs in congratulating Tom Kacich for being Tom Kacich.
— I vote for Mike Small as the UI’s top coach because he’s accomplishing something difficult and challenging with an outdoor sport in the chilly Midwest.
— Mark Emmert gets my vote as NCAA president for toughening and streamlining the rulebook, but I can’t get over the feeling that he was too hard on Penn State players and fans.
— I vote for Lou Henson in basketball’s Hall of Fame, and I have poison darts to strike down anyone who disagrees.
— I dig two characters named Woody. ESPN sports guru Woody Paige always makes me perk up, and I’ll watch anything actor Woody Harrelson does. They’re goofy in good ways.
— Mid-state Illinois receives my nod as the “Best Place to Live” because it doesn’t have oceans pouring into homes, doesn’t have earthquakes, and is just far enough from Chicago.
— And I made this long, so he might not read this far, but Jim Rossow gets my vote as Sports Editor of the Decade. This column was his idea, and wait’ll you see the next one he’s prodding me into.
Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.