Super Sunday, Total Vindication
Sunday, February 4, 2018
Vol. 7, No. 35
Now This: The television advertising extravaganza known as Super Bowl LII kicks off at 6:30 Eastern time. That’s “52” for those of you who never studied Julius Caesar.
The NFL has lost millions of viewers in recent years and the Super Bowl audience has been slipping, but the big game gets more money than ever for a minute of advertising. Nineteen of the most watched television broadcasts in US history have been Super Bowls.
Gerry Smith writes for Bloomberg News, “It’s not that football sponsors are more loyal, they’re trapped. In a fractured television landscape, National Football League games — and especially the Super Bowl — are still the best way to reach a massive live audience, even if it is shrinking.”
For The Atlantic, Derek Thompson says that a big problem for the NFL is so-called “cord cutters” — people disconnecting from pay television and tuning to streaming services. That’s not all. Thompson says some of the league’s most popular players have retired in recent years and some of the most exciting players still in the game sat out with injuries this season. The fans are a little turned off.
The Game: New England Patriots v. Philadelphia Eagles. The conventional wisdom is that you never bet against New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady. The team is gunning for its sixth Super Bowl title with the QB/Coach combination of Brady and Bill Belichick. Don’t bet against Belichick either.
The Philadelphia Eagles come to the Super Bowl without their star quarterback, Carson Wentz, who went out with a torn ACL in December. They limped along with backup Nick Foles, who was looking inept until he put in a stunning performance to beat the Minnesota Vikings, depriving them of a home turf Super Bowl. Foles will have to match that performance and avoid injury. If he gets hurt, it’s over.
The Patriots are expected to hit the field with their #2 super-weapon, tight end Rob Gronkowski, who suffered on a concussion in the conference championship two weeks ago. He’s 6-6, 265 pounds. Look out.
Complete Vindication: President Trump claims that the so-called Nunes Memo released Friday by the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee is a complete exoneration of himself in the Russia election-influencing investigation. He’s doing everything in his power to damage and kill the investigation.
Working on the principle that “if you say it, it will be true,” the President tweeted, “This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!”
The Nunes memo claims there were political prejudices and improprieties in obtaining domestic surveillance warrants on a Trump campaign adviser. What it does not mention is that the warrant was renewed three times, which means the investigation was producing evidence.
The investigation has not found “nothing” as the President says. Two men have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and two more are under indictment. The Nunes memo delivers no facts or opinions on collusion with the Russians or obstruction of justice.
Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, a rabidly partisan Republican and member of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted, “As I have said repeatedly, I also remain 100 percent confident in Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The contents of this memo do not – in any way – discredit his investigation.”
Nation: At least two people are dead and 70 injured in a collision early this morning between an Amtrak passenger train and a CSX freight train in South Carolina. An Amtrak statement said: “Amtrak Train 91, operating between New York and Miami, came in contact with a CSX freight train at around 2:35 am in Cayce, South Carolina. The lead engine derailed, as well as some passenger cars.”
Downhill: American skier Lindsey Vonn won her 80th World Cup victory in Germany, edging out Italian Sofia Goggia by fractions of a second. Vonn is now six wins short of the World Cup record set by the Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark in the 1980s.
Vonn has had trouble with some serious injuries, but she’s fine-tuned and headed to the Olympics as a favorite.
The Science Section: Researchers have been tromping through the jungle for years searching for the ruins of the Mayan civilization in Guatemala, but digital laser technology mounted in an airplane has revealed whole new worlds. The scientists scanned 810 square miles to reveal 60,000 ruins hidden under the jungle canopy.
The technology visually strips away the foliage to reveal what is underneath. Archeologists have been picking their way through the jungle for decades, missing things that are within feet of them. Pointing to a digital map, Ithaca College archaeologist Thomas Garrison told the BBC, “Maybe, eventually, we would have gotten to this hilltop where this fortress is, but I was within about 150 feet of it in 2010 and didn’t see anything.” — Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a 4,400-year-old tomb near Cairo decorated with rare wall paintings and is believed to belong to a high-ranking Egyptian priestess named Hetpet, according to Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. The walls of the tomb have color paintings of animals grazing, people fishing, bird-catching, making sacrifices, and gathering fruit.” Every new discovery is exciting to the Egyptians, but they also love it because it spurs tourism.
Spreading the Wealth: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan posted a tweet yesterday boasting about the bigger paycheck a Lancaster, Pa., schoolteacher received as a result of the Republican tax bill. When Ryan realized the check was only $1.50 more, he deleted his tweet.