Thursday, June 26, 2008

Augustin Goes Pro for Good

This is a cross-post from my new blog, Monozygotic, but it was too relevant not to post it here.

So D.J. Augustin went ninth in the draft to the Charlotte Bobcats, not bad for a sub-6-foot point guard. I’ll admit, I was skeptical when he announced he’d go pro. After covering the Longhorns during his sophomore season, I knew how good he was but I also saw him struggle against Memphis. It seemed like that would be the best example of what he’ll face in the NBA, and it didn’t go well.

Plus, I knew how family-oriented and focused on academics he is. During the conference portion of the situation, he said he’d be coming back next year, and I didn’t think he’d change his mind.

But I guess I was too close to the situation to be able to assess it accurately. For the distant observer, it was obvious. He was an AP All-American and bound to be a lottery pick. He got the chance to live out his dream and make a ton of money in the process, and he could do it NOW.

Or he could play another year of college ball.

Before last season, Augustin worked out a lot with T.J. Ford. Ford had a message for him: “You’ve got to run the show. You’ve got to do it.”

He’ll have the same mission in Charlotte. A Charlotte Observer columnist, Tom Sorenson, saw this coming and delivered a short scouting report on Augustin.

“Augustin, 20, is almost slight. But he runs an offense beautifully. And get this: He would rather create shots for his teammates than for himself. And he can shoot. There is purity to his game.”

That sounds about right.

Good luck D.J.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A History Lesson for Bissinger

Buzz Bissinger is at it again, and I have to write a rebuttal somewhere. (Multiple somewheres it turns out.)

To get up to date on blog-hatin' Buzz's latest, read this:
And go ahead and read this:

There's a lot of garbage to get in a tizzy about. I'm just going to take issue with one remark of Bissingers.

Bissinger: "You have blogs that proudly parade around saying, ‘We don’t need no stinking credibility or stinking information — it doesn’t matter what you say or do if you know how to write.’ They cover themselves under the mantle of the First Amendment. But if John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had any idea what the First Amendment would have wrought, they would have canceled it.”

That he chose to say that shows mind-numbing ignorance.

John Adams was a Federalist. Thomas Jefferson was a republican. Jefferson certainly wasn't interested in meddling with the press' right to do as it pleased, and Adams only took such steps when the prospect of war drew near.
Jefferson went so far as to commission Philip Freneau to publish the National Gazette, a republican-supporting, Federalist-bashing paper that cared little for accuracy and less for fairness. On the occasion of George Washington's 61st birthday: "Who will deny, that the celebrating of birthdays is not a striking feature of royalty? We hear no such things during the republic of Rome...
"If this evil was of no great extent, than merely debasing those who are in practice of it, I should not feel much concern. But when I consider it a foreruner of other monarchical vices, and holding an improper example in this country, and an example of precedent, I cannot but execrate the measure."

Washington was a favorite target of the National Gazette.
But the publication wasn't anomalous. It was a reaction to the Gazette of the United States, which was published by John Fenno and supported by John Adam's fellow Federalist Alexander Hamilton. The paper was born, in the words of Fenno himself, "for the purpose of demonstrating favorable sentiments of the federal constitution and its administration." But as often as not, it made attacking the opposition a higher goal.
And Thomas Jefferson was the primary target.
As Eric Burns recorded in Infamous Scribblers (my main source for all this information): "In a 1796 issue of the Gazette, under the pen name Phocion, Hamilton expressed his alarm at the 'pretensions of Thomas Jefferson to the Presidency.' Jefferson was in that category of men who are 'most dangerous,' against whom the populace must be constantly 'on our guard.' Hamilton suggested that Jefferson was a 'demagogue,' that he wore the 'garb of patriotism,' but only as a disguise; that he spoke the 'language of liberty,' but only to deceive others about his real intentions."
It is worth noting that Adams himself wrote for the Gazette of the United States at least once.

So you see, Adams and Jefferson were both familiar with the press at its most hateful. An irresponsible, “snarky” press did nothing to weaken either of the men's convictions that the press should be unrestrained.
It took a lot more than that.
In 1798 Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts. The Sedition Act made "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" illegal. Ostensibly, the acts were to protect the nation and prevent internal strife from weakening it in a time of crisis.
Jefferson wouldn't stand for that. Along with James Madison, he drafted the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions that passed in both states' legislatures. The resolutions were a direct response to the Alien and Sedition Acts and stated that the Constitution was a "compact" — an agreement between the states. Therefore, the states held the right to deem an act of Congress unconstitutional.
The resolutions failed in every other state in which they were introduced but they stand as proof of Jefferson's unwavering dedication to freedom of the press and states' rights as a whole.
I can comfortably say that John Adams would have tolerated freedom of the press in spite of blogs.
Without any qualifications at all, I can say Jefferson would have fought for freedom of the press despite what it has wrought. When he controlled it, the press was as mean-spirited and "snarky" as it is today.


Burns, Eric. Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism. New York: PublicAffairs, 2006.

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