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18 August 2008

Packers Fan My Foot

John McCain famously claims that he told his Vietnamese captors only the names of the 1967 Green Bay Packers starting lineup when his prisoners asked for the names of the men in his squadron. One might expect that a true football fan might know that sort of thing (although it seems odd that he would be a fan of a football team from a small town in Wisconsin).

In McCain's best-selling 1999 memoir "Faith of My Fathers," McCain writes:

"Once my condition had stabilized, my interrogators resumed their work. Demands for military information were accompanied by threats to terminate my medical treatment if I did not cooperate. Eventually, I gave them my ship's name and squadron number, and confirmed that my target had been the power plant. Pressed for more useful information, I gave the names of the Green Bay Packers offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron. When asked to identify future targets, I simply recited the names of a number of North Vietnamese cities that had already been bombed."

In 2005, A&E ran a movie version of "Faith of My Fathers."

And McCain discussed that precise clip on CNN.

The actor playing McCain, asked to name the men in his squadron, says: "Starr; Greg; McGee; Davis; Adderly; Brown; Ringo; Wood."

Cut back to real life. The CNN anchor asks McCain: "For those who don't know the story, were those NFL football players?" "That was the starting lineup of the Green Bay Packers, the first Super Bowl champions, yes," McCain responded.

The actually existing starting offensive line of the Green Bay Packers in 1967 was:

  • Left Tackle Bob Skoronski
  • Left Guard Gale Gillingham
  • Center Ken Bowman or Bob Hyland
  • Right Guard Jerry Kramer
  • Right Tackle Forrest Gregg

Of these, only Gregg is mentioned in the script.

Bart Starr was the team's starting quarterback and was genuinely famous.

Max McGee was a reserve receiver whose best days were behind him (he caught 3 passes in 1967 and retired that year).

Willie Davis and Herb Adderley were starters on defense.

Tom Brown was a starting safety; Robert Brown was a defensive backup; Allen Brown was a backup tight end.

Jim Ringo played center for the Packers but was infamously traded to the Eagles in 1964.

Willie Wood was a starting defensive back.

Starting lineup? Hardly. Any Packers fan worth his salt would remember the Ringo trade.

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Posted by Tim W at 8/18/2008 10:40:00 AM

08 August 2008

Fanning the Flames

Conservatives generally hate Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the huge quasi-governmental agencies in the United States that backstop a good chunk of the residential mortgage market. After all, markets never prove wrong about anything as simple as mortgages, so the government should just butt out.

Markets, of course, fail often enough that even Americans believe that the government should step in—hence, the lack of outrage when the recent housing bill essentially backstopped Fannie and Freddie's debt.

What is a good conservative to do now? Make something up. Take this letter to Barron's:

One thing that really bugs me about Fannie and Freddie (Editorial Commentary, July 21), is that they do not pay federal or state income taxes, so the taxpayer is already subsidizing them. Who knows what they would have paid in taxes if taxed as an ordinary company?

Alas for the readers of Barron's, whoever edits the Mailbag column could not be bothered to check the assertions in the letter. While Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are exempt from state and local income taxes, they are indeed subject to federal income taxes. While both have low effective tax rates, they have used federal tax credits for affordable housing and historic rehabilitation—the same tax credits that other companies can and do use—to get that way.

(What a pleasant world it would be if letter writers were equally up in arms when companies avoid state income taxes by paying royalties for intellectual property use to shell companies in Delaware or Montana.)

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Posted by Tim W at 8/08/2008 02:15:00 PM

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