Who Are These Guys?

Pretty impressive win tonight for the Cleveland Browns — but equally clearly, a stunningly bad performance for the Cincinnati Bengals . . . and especially QB Andy Dalton.

I’m not saying the Browns are world-beaters, but they beat the Bengals thoroughly and convincingly.  The Bengals lost at home for the first time in years, and the Browns won a division game on the road for the first time in forever.  The Browns D shut down the Bengals and forced a lot of turnovers, and the offense ran the ball when out had to do so — and now the Browns are tied for first in the AFC North.  Great games for Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, the entire Browns defense, the offensive line, the running backs, and Brian Hoyer.  Oh, and the coaching staff did a pretty good job, too.

Hey, am I dreaming?  And is Andy Dalton having a nightmare?

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Mellow Mushroom Moves In

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They’ve just finished a new building project in the Market Street area of New Albany, a short walk from our home. A Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers shop is moving in and will be opening soon.

For years, Eagles Pizza has dominated the New Albany dine-in pizza market, without any real competition for the crown. Now there will be competition. Does anyone know if Mellow Mushroom makes a good pie?

The Battle Of Ohio, 2014 Edition

Tonight the Cleveland Browns play the Cincinnati Bengals on national television — if you can call the NFL Network national television.  It will be test of the team that will cause Browns fans to hold their breath for a number of reasons.

First, Browns fans are used to one immutable rule:  if the Browns are on national TV, they will suck.  Sure, the Browns have won some of those games, but the wins have been dismal, low-scoring, ugly affairs.  More often, the Browns get clobbered, embarrassed, and exposed and their hopeful fans get deflated.  It’s one thing for Browns fans to suffer through lame efforts like we’ve seen the last three weeks when the Browns are playing on an watched, regionally televised that gets the worst broadcast team on the network, it’s quite another thing to suffer the red-faced humiliation that comes from getting schooled on prime time.

Second, the Browns’ schedule has been the weakest in the NFL so far, which is why no one respects them.  In their last three games, the Browns have played a winless team, a winless team, and a team with one win — and they lost one of those games and barely eked out wins in the other two.  A win is a win is a win, but the Browns are the flimsiest 5-3 team in the NFL.  The Bengals, on the other hand, are a team that made the playoffs last year and has a lot of talent and experience.  The Browns have beaten New Orleans and Pittsburgh at home this year, but the Bengals will be the toughest test yet.

Third, the Browns are on the road, and playing in a venue where the Bengals have won 14 straight regular season games.  The last time the Browns had a road game, they played an appallingly bad game and lost to previously winless Jacksonville.  How are they going to perform in “The Jungle,” where Cincinnati seems to play like Super Bowl champs?

Still, it’s the Battle Of Ohio, and this is a series where upsets have often happened before.  If the Browns want to make a statement that they are for real, this is a good place to do it.

The Voices Of The Non-Voting

President Obama held a post-election press conference yesterday.  The AP says he struck a “defiant” tone; another report says he laid out a “centrist” agenda. These days, it seems, everything is characterized differently depending upon the perspective of the reporter.

I won’t join in that parade, but I did find one of the President’s comments interesting.  He said:  “To everyone who voted, I hear you. To the two thirds of voters who chose not to participate yesterday, I hear you too.”  To my knowledge, no reporter in the room asked the logical follow-up question, which is — “well, what do you think they are saying?”

How do you interpret the meaning of the act of non-voting?  Are non-voters saying that they are so turned off by the political process that they want to have nothing to do with it, or are they saying that they just can’t be bothered to do what many of us consider to be our civic duty?  Is there any message to be heard at all?  Or is the President suggesting, instead, that the results of Tuesday’s election are somehow not meaningful or even legitimate because a large number of people didn’t vote — even though early voting, voting by mail, and other options make voting now easier than it has ever been before?

Any argument that President Obama should be guided by his personal interpretation of the unexpressed wishes of the non-voters is uncomfortably reminiscent of President Nixon’s stubborn insistence that his Administration was supported by a “Silent Majority” of Americans.  Shortly after he was first inaugurated, President Obama met with Republicans and reminded them that “elections have consequences” and he was the winner.  He was absolutely right then, and that sentiment remains correct now.

Actions speak louder than words — or inaction.  If people didn’t vote in the election, after being repeatedly urged to do so by the President, by Republicans, and by hundreds of millions of dollars of TV ads, it was because they didn’t care.  Efforts to discern positions they chose not to express are a waste of time.  The President would be better served by attending to the message sent by those people who cared enough to cast their ballots.