Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Error at the HttCttD Head Office

Aww crap, we forgot to include most of these guys.

Ehh, forget it. Now that we're done with the 1st Round, we're not starting over.

If you haven't already voted in our last 1st Round fight, please do so. Dwayne Camacho from Idiocracy is fighting Bernard H. Stuckey Herbert Hoover.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Camacho vs. Hoover

Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho
Served as fictional President of the United States  in the 2006 film Idiocracy
Portrayed by Terry Crews
Age Served: Crews was 38 when Idiocracy was released 

PROS: Fighting champion — Camacho is a five-time Ultimate Smackdown champion. That’s not a thing that exists now, but using deductive reasoning, it’s probably fair to say that to become a champion of the Ultimate Smackdown, you have to be pretty good at fighting. At the very least, be proficient at administering — as well as defending yourself against — smackdowns. And he’s the five-time champion, which means it wasn’t a fluke win. To put this in Wimbledon terms, this would make Camacho a Björn Borg, not a Richard Krajicek.
1996: The Wimbledon where every seeded player completely choked.
You, the naysaying reader: Yeah, but who knows when those titles were won?

True. That could have been two decades prior. Maybe he’s really let himself go since then. But, no. He’s still a bad ass. You can just ask the rehabilitation officer named Burrito Supreme (just don’t ask me to explain that previous sentence).
Oh you can’t, because President Camacho has giving Burrito Supreme a Presidential Smackdown.

Fearless — For what seems like the entire movie, Camacho is flanked by a gaggle of ladies. Even when he’s at the Rehabilitation Arena, he’s sitting in the crowd with what seems to be absolutely no security detail.
He doesn’t even care about assassination attempts.

Maybe he’s fortunate to be living in a time when people are too dumb to formulate assassination plots. Or maybe he knows no one would dare come at him.

CONS: Product of his time — Camacho is president at a time when intelligence is not valued. Anyone who uttering a complete sentence free of grammatical errors is considered a “fag.” Babies are often named after products. To me, this shows a lack of intelligence on the parents' part, though it does explain two of Camacho's middle names. A popular show of the time is Ow, My Balls, in which a guy is hit repeatedly in the groin by different objects. The #1 movie in America that year is Ass, which is simply 90 minutes of a guy’s ass. It apparently won eight Academy Awards — tying films like My Fair Lady, Gandhi and Amadeus.
Just three Oscars away from tying Titanic.
Who would the people in this world elect as president? Who else but a five-time Ultimate Smackdown champion and porn “superstar.” So basically, the future doesn’t seem to have too much of a meritocracy going for it.

This could mean that Camacho would be very easy to outsmart.

Not a problem solver — Economy in deep neglect. Though Camacho acknowledges that things aren’t going great. There was the Great Garbage Avalanche of 2505. There’s the fact that buildings are crumbling, but the only thing done to fix that is to tie them to other buildings for support. One of the biggest problems is that the crops have been failing. Part of the reason why the crops are failing is because an energy drink is being used to water them instead of actual water.
In case your thirst needs to be mutilated, which is pretty often.
Camacho’s Cabinet members make an airtight argument to continue the practice.

Well, the argument seems airtight to them, but the video shows a bigger problem: Camacho hasn’t picked a very intelligent Cabinet. And yes, you did see correctly. One of the Cabinet members is a kid. He was given the job because he won a contest.

This is made even worse by the fact that Camacho seems to be giving weight to the advice of his Cabinet members. Apparently, he can’t even come up with good ideas of his own, he has to follow the ridiculously horrible ideas of his idiot Cabinet.

So, he’ll be entering the Arena with pretty much no tactical ability whatsoever.

Herbert Hoover
31st President of the United States
Served: 1929-1933
Ages during term: 55-59

PROS: The Great Humanitarian-- Herbert Hoover's pre-Presidential resume is pretty much about two things: mining, and feeding people. Both are important-- his work as a mining engineer gave him an international presence before World War I broke out. And once said war broke out? Hoover immediately went into organizational mode, first leading a team of volunteers who helped evacuate 120,000 Americans from soon-to-be-war-torn Europe. And he wasn't done there!
He actually looks kinda mean, here. Although maybe it's just because someone squashed his hat.
Once Germany invaded Belgium, the Belgian people found themselves on the wrong end of a food shortage. Hoover rolled up his sleeves and established an organization, the Commission for Relief in Belgium, that would essentially feed the nation for the duration of the war. He also spent the war in perpetual diplomatic talks with Germany, crossing the North Sea more than forty times to ensure that the Germans wouldn't, you know, snag all the food that was supposed to be going to Belgium. At its height, the CRB had an $11 million-a-month budget, and sported its own factories, navy, and rail yards. Hoover became an international hero for his efforts.
When they start naming town squares in Belgium after you, you know you've done something right.
Once the United States officially entered the war, Hoover switched gears, but still kept within his food-related wheelhouse. He was appointed head of the U.S. Food Administration, and coined the slogan "Food will win the war." To that end, he encouraged Americans to forgo eating certain foods on certain days of the week, so that the saved food could go to U.S. troops. The plan worked, and helped prevent food rationing back in the States. And was he done when the war was over? Of course not! Hoover continued to organize food shipments overseas in the years following the war, providing famine relief not only for the Allied nations, but for Germany/Central Europe, and even Russia. The latter part caught him some heat, given that it had just gone bolshevik, but Hoover persisted, because it was the right thing to do.

Hoover's rep as a humanitarian organizer grew so great, that when large swaths of the Mississippi River flooded in 1927, the affected areas petitioned President Calvin Coolidge specifically for Hoover's aid, despite the fact that Hoover was Secretary of Commerce at the time, and that post had fuck all to do with flood relief. They knew that the man would get it done, and whaddaya know, he did!
Of course, his plan did involve child labor... Nah, just messin' with ya.
So, what does that have to do with fighting? Clearly, Hoover is good at managing logistics on a grand scale, and knows how to do so while facing hostile opposition. I'd say those are positives when facing a fight to the death.

Good health, long life-- In 1948, former President Hoover appeared at the Republican National Convention as a special guest. It was to be his "goodbye" appearance, as the unspoken thought was that he would not live to see the next convention. Lo and behold, he was still alive in 1952, so they went through the whole thing again... and again in 1956... and again in 1960.
No, they didn't bring him back for the 2008 convention, this is just C-SPAN killing time during that convention.
It would be until 1964 that Hoover finally missed a convention. Not because he was dead, of course, but because he was finally showing his age. He died a few months later of internal hemorrhaging. He was 90 years old, and the ill health that prevented his appearance in San Francisco was the first real bout of seriously poor health he had suffered. He didn't suffer a particularly sickly childhood, either, like some other presidents we could name. So one thing is clear: the dude apparently had fantastic genes.

Hoover was also clearly a survivor. Quick-- how do you outlast a survivor in a fight to the death? You don't.

CONS: Prone to Bouts of GREAT DEPRESSION-- Hoover was a major advocate of a kind of volunteerism, which called for cooperation between government and private business so that the former did not have to overly regulate the latter. While he always denounced full-on laissez-faire economic policies, he believed that government regulation was too burdensome, and that providing direct government assistance de-incentivized work. All that probably would've been well and good, except for that the absolute bottom fell out of the U.S. economy in 1929.
When the Great Depression hit, people turned to the government for help. And Hoover? Well, he sort of sat there. Okay, that's not entirely true. Hoover decided one way to help solve unemployment was to... kick out all the Mexicans who were taking U.S. jobs? That can't be right. Oh, no, it's right; from 1929-1937, Hoover directed the forced repatriation of over 500,000 Mexican nationals, never mind that many of them were legal U.S. Citizens. In the wake of the deportations, unemployment? Stayed astronomically high.
Just in case you thought blaming the Mexicans was a new idea, or something.
His next crackerjack idea was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff act. While Hoover couldn't take credit for the fantastic name, he could take credit for his 1928 campaign where he called for higher tariffs on agricultural imports (thus to make them more expensive, which would in turn make American products more appealing). Congress took him up on the idea, but Congress being Congress, they couldn't get a full bill passed by both houses until 1930. Still, the act did what it was supposed to do, raising prices on foreign goods. Unfortunately, nations around the world had been affected by the Depression by then, and these nations promptly raised their own tariffs, causing U.S. exports to plummet. International trade as a whole decreased sharply, and the Depression grew.

"I should've voted for Al Smith..."
Jesus, those were some terrible ideas. In a related story, Hoover was crushed when he ran for re-election against a man whose message was "look, we're going to actually get you out of this mess, rather than just make things worse." Battle-wise? If things start going poorly for Hoover, you've gotta wonder if he can figure out the right way out of whatever mess he finds himself in.

Also? We feel this should be mentioned-- We said before that Hoover was called in to help organize relief efforts after disastrous flooding in 1927. During that time, however, things went somewhat poorly for the African-Americans who were affected, and yes, we're saying "poorly" even against the handicap of their already living in the Jim Crow south. African-Americans were forced into camps which they were not allowed to leave, unless they were being conscripted at gun point to work as laborers. Money that was supposed to go to black sharecroppers was funneled elsewhere.
Yup, bringing these little guys back.
By this time, Hoover already had his eye on the presidency, and knew that if this got out, his aspirations could be sunk. So, he struck a deal with leaders in the black community: they would keep quiet about the various injustices they were suffering under Hoover's nose, and Hoover would make civil rights a priority of his administration.

Hoover proceeded to win the election in 1929 by courting, essentially, Southern racists. And once he was in office, he proceeded to do less for civil rights than he did to improve the economy. As a result, blacks shifted en masse to the Democratic party, an allegiance that largely remains in place to this day.
In short, Hoover's an asshole. This shouldn't really affect his standing in the Arena, but it's also well worth pointing out that in this whole affair, he managed to piss away a solid support base for his party for generations to come. That's an incredible amount of fail, right there. You can't beat someone in a fight to the death with that much fail dragging you down.

The Fight
Tony: Real contrast in styles this week. On the one side, an Ultimate Smackdown winner who is also a complete moron. On the other, a Stanford-educated engineer with no real combat experience. Step right up, folks! It's the Stoppable Force vs. the Moveable Object!

Okay, enough clap-trap. Down to business. Look Camacho may look like he has the edge here, but his opponent is no fool. All Hoover really has to do, when it comes down to it, is pull the old "look behind you!" trick a few times. Then he wallops Camacho for a bit, Camacho comes back, repeat. If Camacho had the brains to fight this tactic, maybe he wouldn't have trusted the irrigation of his nation's crops to a sports drink. I'm just saying.
Doug: Yes, the whole crop watering thing wasn't Camacho's shining moment. Complex thinking isn't his strong suit. You know what is? Fighting. Winning the Ultimate Smackdown five times probably means he's well beyond falling for that "hey, look behind you." Even if it did work, how exactly is Hoover going to "wallop" someone who is bigger than him and who is used to taking a hit? Wallop seems to be an exaggeration. He may connect, but once Camacho realizes he's been tricked, he's going to come down on Hoover. Hard.

The only way Camacho's mental ineptitude will work in Hoover's favor is that Camacho will have no idea of that nonsense Hoover pulled with African-Americans in the South. Because you know who would get filled to the brim with rage about mistreatment of African-Americans? An African-American with a short fuse. Luckily for Hoover, it's doubtful that the schools of Camacho's time would cover 20th century history with all that much care.
Facts may take a back seat in the future, as this comic predicts.
Tony: I'm guessing that the people of Camacho's time aren't smart enough to even think up the "look behind you" trick, so if Hoover deploys it, he'll have a substantial edge. And you're right-- he won't be able to score a decisive blow all at once, but if he puts enough points into his dodge skill, he'll be able to withstand Camacho's retaliatory blows with ease, then boom: more kidney shots. Those things add up quickly.

The racial point here is an important one, I think, and given that Camacho probably won't know what's up, the edge goes to Hoover. I realize the 1930s were a substantially different time, but you have to be a tremendous asshole to pull what Hoover pulled. Like, "your picture is next to the word 'asshole' in the dictionary"-level asshattery. So when he goes up against an African-American in the Arena, Hoover's gonna think to himself "Oh, I am having none of this." And then, blammo.
Doug: Your argument is based on an assumption that is as huge as it is specious. And here's why.

As people have been getting dumber, so have their forms of entertainment. Wouldn't it make sense that people would still pack arenas to watch people beat the crap out of each other? Yes, of course. It would even make sense to say that to hold the audience's attention, the fighting would have to get meaner and more ridiculous; and in order for a fighter to succeed, he would have to be extremely tough and much better at fighting. In other words, while mankind was getting dumber, fighting techniques would have advanced.

So, while I'd agree that the average person in Camacho's America would fall for "look behind you," I am going to need convincing that an experienced fighter like Camacho would as well.

I'm also going to need convincing as to how organizing a food drive for Belgium would automatically make someone able to take hits from a world-class superfighter from the future. Because that's a bigger stretch than Camacho falling for a lame trick and then losing because of it.
Tony: Now, see, I could totally get up on my high horse and bust out some ten-dollar words about why all that reality TV the kids watch these days portends the end of society. However, no one wants to read that, so I'll just point out that your theory has some holes there, bucko.

Now, you're right in that dumber people = dumber entertainment. That's why we have Jersey Shore now, and Ass later. But we're not talking about entertainment, per se, we're talking about fighting, and there's a bit of a difference. Sure, things like pro wrestling have gotten more outlandish over the years, but the core is still the same. Then, you get your MMA fighting, which is probably more analogous to Ultimate Smackdown Whatever. It actually had to get safer to get a hold in popular culture.Yes, even at a time when America was ostensibly getting dumber, MMA had to get cleaner to take off. Interesting! And that's not even considering boxing, which is a shell of its former self. My point is that you can't graph mass intelligence on the same plot as violent entertainment. Or at least, I won't let you do that without at least one Sociology degree.

Meanwhile, here's the deal about Hoover: he knows how to glad-handle hostile opposition. He knows how to pull off herculean tasks of organization. Think he's gonna lose this fight. If he's gonna let that happen, Hoover will be… *sunglasses* dammed.
YEEEEAAA— Uh-oh! Ehh, I'm sure Superman's got this one.
Doug: Unfortunately, I only have a Sociology minor, so I can tell you about Emile Durkheim and his studies with suicide, which will be of no help — like the rest of my degree — unless you count the anomic or egotistic suicide Hoover will surely consider when he learns he is to face Camacho. (NOTE: This isn't a great example of anomic or egotistic suicide, but what do you expect? I got that degree 10 years ago.)

True, the sports you mention have been Nerfed a bit in the name of safety. For example, 19 people died as a result of playing football in 1905 alone. This year, the only notable death in football I can think of was music's and that was during the Super Bowl halftime show. HEY-O! 
This technical difficulty was a pleasant distraction from the horror caused by The Black Eyed Peas.
However, somewhere between now and Camacho's 25th century, safety seems to have taken a back seat. This is apparent when you gaze at the city skyline and find crumbling buildings tied to each other to prevent complete collapse.
None of this matters, because I can't really see the relation between your point and whether or not professional fighters will start falling for the "look behind you" move.

Hoover's going to try that, but it won't work. And when things don't work, what does Hoover do? He tries them again and again until FDR runs against him and wins — or in this case, Camacho stands above him victorious.

Mister, the Arena sure couldn't use a man like Herbert Hoover again.
Those might have been the days, but maybe it's time to move on.

Comacho vs. Hoover

Friday, August 26, 2011

Profiles in Winning

Ask not what the 2nd Round can do for you...
...ask what you can do in the 2nd Round.

Kennedy vs. Kovic

John F. Kennedy      11 (73.3%)
Dave Kovic     4 (36.7%) 

Hats off to the comatose William Harrison Mitchell for somehow outliving his more healthy stand-in.

After watching this video, it's a wonder why we even bothered posing this question this week:

Though, actually, I don't know how much of this song is accurate. Judges will conduct tests to investigate the song's charge that JFK was replaced with a robot before entering the ring.

QUICK NOTE: We had a video ready in case Dave won. Because whose Friday couldn't use a little Gilbert & Sullivan? (Okay, maybe most people.)

This week's COTW was brilliant in its simplicity. But sadly, its author didn't even want to take credit for it.
If you don't get this joke, then clearly your project this weekend is to watch A Fish Called Wanda. Kline won an Academy Award for it.
This picture was taken the same month he married Phoebe Cates.
It was a good month to be Kevin Kline.
JFK will advance to the 2nd Round, scheduled Dec. 19. Next week is a matchup we've been looking forward to here at the HttCttD Offices: Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho from the 2006 film Idiocracy vs. Herbert Hoover. Not because it's a fight between two guys name Herbert, but because it is the final fight of the 1st Round. Be sure to tune in for that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hail to Made-Up Lyrics

It must be difficult hearing the same song every single time you make a public appearance somewhere. Presidents could probably hear Hail to the Chief several times in one day, which must work out to thousands of times in a single four-year term. Imagine what that's like to two-termers.

Or worse, imagine what that must be like for people like George H.W. Bush. Though he and Reagan didn't appear everywhere together during Reagan's term, he must have heard his share of it during his eight years as vice president. Then, the following four years, the song was inescapable.

Fortunately, for Richard Nixon, he was able to take an eight-year break between his time as vice president and president. It must have been nice for him to get away from the tune for a little bit.

The movies would have us believe that presidents make up their own words to Hail to the Chief. That seems pretty probable. Kind of like making up words to the Super Mario Brothers theme, you hear a song without lyrics enough times, your own lyrics fall into place.

The song actually does have lyrics, but they're not nearly has fun as the ones listed below.

In Dave, William Harrison Mitchell sings his version with much gusto in the White House shower.
Hail to the Chief, he's the one we all say "hail" to.
We all say "hail" because he keeps himself so clean.
He's got the power, that's why he's in the shower...
The problem with these lyrics is that they're shower-oriented. They're only true when he's in the shower. I would hope the band doesn't play the song while the president, though I suppose it's possible that we may get a president who's "into that sort of thing."

Pausing real quick, can someone out there play "Attorney General" for us?

First lady Ellen Mitchell may have broken a law here. She burst into the bathroom while Dave was in the shower, and she forced him to expose himself to her. Bear in mind, at this point, she knows that the man in the shower is not her husband. This seems like it would warrant a sexual assault charge of some sort, or are we just being overly prosecutorial here?

Think of it this way. A man bursts into a bathroom where a woman is showering and he forces her to turn around to show him her body. Now, he doesn't touch her, but he definitely sneaks a peak. It just seems like, while it could be a lot worse, this guy would be registering as a sex offender.

Moving on to My Fellow Americans, a 1996 film that somehow flew under our radar while we were choosing fictional presidents. You want fictional presidents? This movie's got three; played by Jack Lemmon, James Garner and Dan Aykroyd.

In addition to three overlooked fictional presidents, it also has two versions of Hail to the Chief. At a point in the movie, two of the former presidents admit to having made up lyrics to the song.

Russell P. Kramer
Hail to the Chief, he's the chief and he needs hailing.
He is the Chief, so everybody hail like crazy.
Matt Douglas
Hail to the Chief, if you don't, I'll have to kill you.
I am the Chief, so you better watch your step, you bastards.
We'd say Matt Douglas wins this contest.

But while we're on the subject of fake Hail to the Chief lyrics, we would be remiss in not mentioning the lyrics that the Brady children sing in The Brady Bunch in the White House when their parents, the President Mike Brady and first lady/Vice President Carol Brady enter the room for a state dinner.

Hail to the Chief, he is walking in the room now.
All hail the chief, he's the leader of the land.
Let's all applaud, and give cheers for our dad now.
Hail to the Chief, and he's holding our mom's hand.
I'll give the Brady kids credit, they make up more lyrics than any of the others here. Though to Dave's defense, his version of the song was interrupted by a possible sexual predator.

Just a reminder, if you haven't already, please vote in this week's fight between JFK and Dave.
Another reminder, do yourself a favor and never watch The Brady Bunch in the White House.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Kennedy vs. Kovic

John Fitzgerald Kennedy
35th President of the United States
Served: 1961-1963
Ages during term: 44-46

PROS: Knows how to stare down death — Unlike many other presidents who served during World War II, Kennedy was already in the armed forces prior to Pearl Harbor, having joined the Navy in September of 1941. That's some good timing, there, JFK!
Perhaps he knew that, as a hunk, he was going to be drafted anyway.
A year later, Kennedy had risen to the rank of Lieutenant, and was commanding a PT boat in the Solomon Islands when said boat (PT-109, for those of you scoring at home) was rammed by a Japanese destroyer. Kennedy gathered the surviving troops amidst the wreckage and asked if they wanted to keep fighting, or surrender. "A lot of you men have families and some of you have children," he said. "What do you want to do? I have nothing to lose." Well, nothing except the massive pile of wealth and privilege he was born into, but, whatever.
For your consideration: the Kennedy family home.
His crew voted to fight on, and he led them in swimming towards a nearby island. Oh, and he also towed an injured crew member the entire way, holding the man's life jacket strap in his teeth. In his teeth, people! Hours of swimming later, his troops were saved. Well, no, they had no food or water, and Japanese patrols were everywhere. So, not saved, yet. Kennedy sent out again, swimming another four kilometers to another small island to procure food and water. He later led his men to this island, and from there, they were rescued. Kennedy received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his actions, and continued to serve in the Navy until just prior to the end of the war in 1945. Even better, he later developed a witty quip to downplay his heroism; when asked how he became a war hero, JFK later said "It was involuntary. They sunk my boat." 

Once he became president, Kennedy still retained a significant portion of the badassery he had exhibited during the war. Nowhere was this more apparent than a little tete-a-tete he had with the Russians called the Cuban Missile Crisis. Reduced to its essentials, the crisis went something like this: The United States discovered that the Soviets were planting nuclear missiles in Cuba, which was obviously a worrying discovery. Kennedy and his advisers argued a lot about how best to deal with it. Kennedy eventually decided that he would form a naval blockade around Cuba and dared the Soviets to run it. The Soviets eventually backed down, and removed the missiles (Kennedy, for his part, agreed to eliminate similar missiles NATO had placed in Turkey).

That retelling is a little dry, so what you're not getting is that during the three days the crisis raged, the world moved closer to a worldwide nuclear conflict than it had before — as close, in fact, as it would get in the entire cold war.
The stakes.
So, yeah, the guy knows a little something about persevering in the face of adversity.

An Apt Student — En route to graduating summa cum laude from Harvard, Kennedy wrote his senior thesis on the failure of the appeasement policy in England. This was a rather topical issue, as it was 1940 and all. While Kennedy initially preferred to keep his thesis private, his father encouraged him to publish it. Upon completing the thesis, Kennedy did just that. The resulting book, Why England Slept, became a best-seller, and established JFK as a serious analyst of politics and history.
Why? Because it was night. Geez.
Kennedy later repeated the trick while serving in the United States Senate, writing a second book titled Profiles in Courage, which detailed a number of incidents in which senators had gone against public opinion, or crossed party lines, to act on their convictions. And we're not talking things like "Senator Derpface voted against some dinky tax cut/hike," we're talking Robert A. Taft opposing the Nuremburg Trials on the belief that the prosecution would be ex post facto (in other words, because the Nazis were being tried for things that hadn't been defined as crimes before the trial started). The final book was another success; Profiles in Courage became a best-seller, and netted Kennedy a Pulitzer prize, to boot.
You know if was a big deal because they put it on T.V.
As a student of history, Kennedy knows how various tactics can be effective in various situations. Certainly some of that will give him a tactical edge in a fight to the death.

CONS: Blown away, what else do I have to say?

What? No? Oh, fine.

His problems go back, back, back — We mentioned before how Kennedy was already in the Navy when World War II finally reached America. What we didn't mention was that the Navy was Kennedy's second choice. He had attempted to get into the Army beforehand, but chronic back problems he experienced doomed that particular dream. Now, what kind of back problems would prevent someone from serving in the Army, but not the Navy? We have no idea, but them's the breaks.
"Suck it, Army boys."
Now, we'd say that those problems apparently weren't that serious, because Kennedy actually re-injured his back during the aforementioned PT-109 excursion, and he still managed to swim for hours and hours and do all the rescuing and what-not. So, what's the big deal? Well, following his election to the Senate in 1952, Kennedy's back... er... struck back. He underwent a number of spinal operations over the next two years, and became so weak at one point, last rites were performed. He eventually recovered, of course, but said back would continue to bother him the rest of his life. You know what you don't want going into a fight to the death? Physical weakness. Just saying.

Gets by with a little help from his friends — We also made a passing reference earlier to Kennedy being born to a life of incredible privilege. So, about that. Kennedy's family was already a bit of a New England dynasty before JFK was born; his maternal grandfather had served as mayor of Boston and as a three-term congressman. As such, Kennedy attended the finest public schools, and traveled the world extensively with his family. His 1939 trip was something of a barn-burner; he traveled throughout Europe, with stops in France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union. He made it back to England on the same day that the Nazis invaded Poland, which counts for some hella-good timing. His family stuck around and were present in the House of Commons when England declared war against Germany. Later, he toured South America, apparently just for kicks.

So what we're trying to say is, the guy came from serious wealth, and that wealth carried with it some serious power. So, remember how Kennedy couldn't get into the Army, but managed to get into the Navy instead? Well, the director of the Office of Naval Intelligence at the time turned out to be a guy who had served as Joseph Kennedy's (JFK's father) naval attaché. So, the elder Kennedy pulled some strings, and boom! JFK was in the Navy.

And about Profiles in Courage? Oh, man, Profiles in Courage. So, as it happens, Kennedy didn't really write most of it. While he did write the tone-setting first and last chapters, and did supervise the assembly of the manuscript as a whole, it was his speechwriter, Theodore Sorensen, who did most of the writing. Apparently, this was by arrangement, but aside from a note in the book's introduction, Kennedy never really acknowledged Sorensen's work, even when the book went on to win a Pulitzer.
Then again, would you give this guy a Pulitzer?
Oh, and about that Pulitzer. So, Profiles in Courage was technically never nominated for the prize in question. How did it win? Turns out that Joseph Kennedy was pals with a few select members of the prize committee. He asked them to vote for it, they did, and boom: Pulitzer-prize winning author, John F. Kennedy.

Our point in all this? Kennedy often relies on family contacts or other such behind-the-scenes skullduggery to get things done. He's not going to have that support system behind him in the Arena, just a balky back and an opponent out to kill him. Could be trouble.

Dave Kovic
Stand-in for William Harrison Mitchell
Portrayed by Kevin Kline in the 1993 film Dave
Kline was 45 at when Dave was released

PROS: Excellent health — When he was to take on the presidential stand-in role full-time following the real president’s debilitating stroke, Dave’s first order of business was to sit through a medical examination. The doctor was very impressed. Now granted, he was under the impression that the patient in question had just suffered a minor stroke.

The doctor said that they were amazing results, with no problems. He barely even believed the patient just suffered a stroke, regardless of how minor it was. This is not to say that Dave’s health is great for someone who just had a stroke. It seems to be great, period.
"That's strange, Mr. President. It seems as though your blood type has changed."

People couldn’t believe the amount of energy he suddenly had. Political commentators compared him to a high school track star. So, Dave clearly has the health, energy and youthful exuberance to hold his own in the Arena.

Yet, the only people who were able figure out that Dave wasn't actually the president were the first lady and Oliver Stone, who had a conspiracy theory that turned out to be right. Even though it was a complete coincidence that he resembled the president, the fact that so few people is a bit unnerving. People in the Dave universe should be glad that he only used this talent for good.
Okay, maybe not for "good," but definitely for non-evil purposes.

Not actually president — As we’ve mentioned before, being president is an awfully stressful job. There’s that whole study that says that for every four years a president serves, he ages 10 years.

There’s no study about how much running a presidential campaign ages someone, but given how grueling it is, it probably speeds up the aging process. Plus, there’s whatever stressful job the president holds before that (governor, senator, general, etc.) that gave him enough exposure to be even considered for presidential nomination.

Dave doesn’t have any of that. He was running his own temp agency. I’m sure that has some tense moments, but he seems to enjoy it just fine. It’s not like he comes home moping about how he hates his life. Clearly, there’s a song in his heart. I mean literally. When the Secret Service was waiting for him at his apartment, Dave was singing Oklahoma.

This guy has very little stress to speed up aging. He’s 40-something guy in the body of a 40-something guy who has the energy of a high school track star.

CONS: Not actually president — Having Dave fill in for Bill Mitchell in the Arena sets a dangerous precedent. What was stopping Baxter Harris, Mike Brady or John Tyler from bringing in a look-alike? Why does Mitchell get the special treatment?

Hell, why not just put Harrison Ford in the Arena and see how he does?
No, we won't drop it already.


Not a fighter — Nowhere in the movie does Dave mention any experience in the military or fighting. It is implied that he has some experience playing baseball. He keeps a baseball glove in his desk drawer in his temp agency office, and when he throws out the first pitch at Camden Yards, fires one right into the strike zone, much to the catcher’s amazement.
Mr. President is a pitcher and not a belly-itcher.

Is that all he’s got? Some baseball experience? Woo boy.

The Fight
Doug: Both of these combatants would be very young, so they come out even in that respect.

I don't want to downplay JFK's heroics during the whole PT-109 incident, but that was 20 years earlier. JFK was physically in sad shape. Not just his issues with his back, but he had also been diagnosed with Addison's disease and hypothyroidism. He was in constant pain.

And then there's Dave, who invigorated the Mitchell administration with his sheer energy. I don't think I've seen any pictures of JFK rolling around on the White House lawn with his dogs.

Tony: Being in constant pain would make someone pretty pissed off, I'd bet. That's gonna be a mental edge in the Arena. Plus, you could probably come up with a lot of witty rejoinders around it. "I'm gonna make you wish you hurt as much as I do." That sort of thing. Big plus for JFK.

And no, video of JFK frolicking with the family pets is scarce on the ground. That's because Kennedy wasn't out there invigorating his Administration-- he was out there, invigorating America. Oh, look, Dave Kovic has big robot arms! Who cares! Kennedy dared the country to get off its ass and go to the moon. Dave can't possibly top that kind of energy.

Plus, there's this. Dave Kovic knows damn well he's a fraud. He knows it up and down, back and front, in and out. How's he going to react when he gets dumped into the arena? He knows he shouldn't be in there! It's that other guy, Mitchell! He should be in this fight! And he'd be in a coma! He'd be much easier to fight! No, please! No! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Yeah, Dave may be cute, but in the Arena? He's a goner.

Doug: Yeah, JFK's pain will make him cranky, but if he can't move, he can't move. Maybe in the moment, he might get some adrenaline going... if only he had a fully-functional Adrenal gland... but he didn't. He is severely limited by his health problems.

Pushing the U.S. to land on the moon was neat. True. But all that was was part of a pissing match with the Soviet Union. It made the U.S. feel good. We're #1! We're #1! If getting a man to the moon was so important, then why hasn't anyone walked on the moon since 1972? Because after pissing away billions of dollars, we found out that there's not much to do there except hit golf balls.

Dave's crusade was to tackle unemployment. It may not be as exciting as moon landings — no one's dressing up like a job recruiter for Halloween — but it actually helps Americans. How many children ate breakfast this morning because their parents have a job? Now compare that to the number of children who ate breakfast this morning because our flag is on the moon.
And of course Dave knows he's a fraud. He doesn't care, he's still doing what he has to do, even if it pisses people off. Take for example how he went over the Chief of Staff's head (the one who was angling from the presidency and calling the shots for Dave) and found funding for that homeless shelter. Who else was going to do it? No one. Dave will step up when he needs to. And the Arena will be no different.

Tony: Since when was JFK an FDR-level invalid? He's got some problems, sure, but he can move with the best of them. Just as Norma Jean.

Now, wait a damn minute — are you trying to tell me that the space race didn't create jobs? Spearhead innovation? When did you become a libertarian, exactly? Good grief.

Yeah, Dave tackled unemployment. He did this despite having no goddamn idea what he was doing, and he had to drag his best friend, who was also grossly unqualified, into the mix. Which, let's think about it: how many friends do you have who, if they confessed to you they were in the middle of a coup d'etat, would be all "Cool!" and help you slash millions of dollars in government fundings just for the sheer hell of it. 

Dave is, at his heart, a mimic. And he can only really mimic one guy: President Mitchell. If he could mimic a fighter of some sort, then JFK might be in for a fight. But he can't. So Kennedy is home free.

Doug: JFK wasn't an invalid, but he was on a lot of pain medication. Plus, he wore a back brace for most of the time. I can't remember where we stand on medication in the Arena. In the past, we've allowed for Pierce and Grant to fight while under the influence of alcohol, which means it would only be fair that JFK can be on his pills. The back brace, however, would have to go. He could probably grit his teeth and work through it for a bit, but Dave will be at an advantage since he wouldn't feel the need to double over in excruciating pain.

And yes, of course the space race created jobs. But it wasn't for the sake of creating jobs, it was to show that we could win the space race. Dave's program was to create jobs everywhere. Not just near the places where NASA did stuff. And who the hell cares if Dave knew what he was doing. He still did what he set out to do. I'd argue further, but ability to create jobs isn't going to help anyone win a fight.

It doesn't matter if he's a mimic. He's got energy screaming out of his ears. He can run laps around JFK, who has nothing going for him but good looks, wealth and great connections; none of which will help him here. Ask not what JFK can do in the Arena, because we can't do too much.

Tony: Yea, the brace is out, but he gets to coast on whatever he took before getting in the arena. And that right there could be fun. You never know what's in the Presidential Bathroom Cupboard.

Sorry for dragging us down a tangent, there, with the jobs stuff. It's just that according to everything I see on TV or read on the internet, creating jobs is the absolute most importantest thing a President does, ever. I just let that logic into the Arena, is all.

All of Dave's energy is going to go for naught if he doesn't have a clue what to do when he gets in there, and I'm telling you, not only is he not going to have a clue, he's going to forget what clues even look like. Once Kennedy is through with him, Dave's face is going to look like ein Berliner. Mark it down!

The Chief: A Berliner?

Be sure to vote and comment. Polls close Friday 9am MDT.

Kennedy vs. Kovic

Friday, August 19, 2011

Another Prematurely Placed "Mission Accomplished" Banner

Harrison must have planted some well-placed coughs onto George W. Bush.
Because he came out the victor in this week's fight.

Bush vs. Harrison
George W. Bush   9 (39.1%)
William Henry Harrison      14 (60.9%) 
It was a lively week, getting the most comments and votes in a long time. A lot of the comments brought up some great points, but jacqui brought us our favorite:

At the risk of editorializing — which we generally try not to do on the Friday posts, but it's hard sometimes because we're a teensy bit invested in the project as a whole — what is it about seeing George W. Bush's name on a ballot that makes people vote for the wrong person?

(To be fair, there were some good points made for William Henry Harrison winning, however most of his supporters seemed to be in the "@#&$*% Dubya" camp. That's... maybe a less-compelling reason than we usually hope to get from our readers.)

William Henry Harrison will face George H.W. Bush in the 2003 World Series 2nd Round, which is scheduled Dec. 12. Next week,  John F. Kennedy will meet Dave from the movie Dave, possibly our most youthful fight yet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tippecanoe and Others Too

As mentioned Monday, Harrison proved to be an effective leader during Tecumseh's War. In 1811, he launched a successful attack on Tecumseh's village on the Tippecanoe River, which earned Harrison the nickname "Old Tippecanoe." Not mentioned is the story of how Tecumseh's brother, Tenskwatawa who was also known as the Shawnee Prophet, supposedly put a curse on Harrison following the attack.

The story goes that the curse said that Harrison would die while he was the leader of his people. Okay, that happened. Of course, after the fact, it's easy to say that something happened because of a curse. However, the curse continues, and here's where things vary depending on the source, but it basically said that any president elected in years ending in zero will also die in office. So basically, every 20 years, or so.

Now, I'm not sure where you've called bullshit, but here's what just doesn't add up to me.

This seems like an awfully specific curse. Okay, it's one thing to curse the general who ransacked your village. But to curse him so that he'd die some unspecified time in the future — in this case, 30 years later? And then to curse future leaders in a set pattern? Why not curse every future leader to die? Or put a curse on the general keeping him and his people from advancing on Shawnee land?

See, things don't add up... except, the "curse" kind of existed for 120 years

William Henry Harrison
Elected 1840
Died 1841

We got into his death earlier this week. If you'd like an amusing, but not all that accurate retelling of his death, here you go.

Abraham Lincoln
Elected 1860
Died 1865

Following the end of the Civil War, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer. Again, if you'd like an amusing, but not all that accurate retelling of his death, jump to about 0:27.

James A. Garfield
Elected 1880
Died 1881 

Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau, who believed that Garfield owed him an ambassadorship despite the fact that he was nowhere near qualified. No one has made a funny video about the Garfield assassination. Yet.

William McKinley
Re-elected 1900
Died 1901

McKinley was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz at the Pan-American Exposition. Czolgosz had hoped the move would get him in good with the anarchist movement, but they pretty much denounced that sort of thing.

Warren G. Harding 
Elected 1920
Died 1923

Harding died during a cross-country trip. Some theories say that his wife killed him to save him the embarrassment from the number of scandals brewing from his administration, but it may have been just that the hard-drinking president in already poor health didn't take to well to extended trips on a non-air conditioned train during the summer.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Re-elected 1940
Died 1945
While running for his fourth presidential term in 1944, a doctor said he doubted FDR would live six months. In April 1945, FDR suffered a fatal stroke, but there's no record of how much that doctor won in that pool.

John F. Kennedy
Elected 1960
Died 1963

JFK was assassinated during a motorcade in Dallas. They want you to believe it was Lee Harvey Oswald who shot the president. It was probably the FBI, the CIA and LBJ. Though we have absolutely no proof of this, we would love to give a long, uninformed rant explaining our detailed yet unfounded theory on the subject.

Ronald Reagan
Elected 1980
Shot 1981
Reagan survived an assassination attempt from John Hinkley Jr. Did this break the supposed curse?

George W. Bush was elected in 2000 and he survived his entire eight-year term. So, maybe?
Bush has a message to the Curse of Tippecanoe
In 2005, Sarah Vowell was touring to promote her latest book, Assassination Vacation, in which she researched the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. Given the huge crush I had/have on her, I went to see her at the Philadelphia library. While she made herself available for autographs, I knew that she doesn't really enjoy giving them. Not that she's against it, she just doesn't understand why someone would want her autograph. This, however, didn't stop me.

While she was signing my book — which obviously didn't take very long — I nervously asked her her thoughts about this curse. I figured she just wrote a book about three of these deaths, she must have something to say about it. She gave a very short answer, "Oh, well Bush is safe, because you actually have to be elected in a year ending in zero."

At the time, I was a bit disappointed by her terse, almost disinterested, answer and regretted not waiting for the Q&A session during the talk, as she seemed more spirited when she didn't have to have one-on-one conversations with complete strangers (and I really can't blame her, either). Years later, I'd have to say, good dig at Dubya, Sarah.

I guess we'll see how this curse shakes out after the Election of 2020.

In the meantime, you can show your support for the guy who first fell victim of this supposed curse or the guy who was able to avoid it here.