Thursday, November 29, 2007

Random Musings

Wow. The Dancing with the Stars finale took place the other night. I think it took them two nights and several hours to announce the winner. It took this long for three reasons. Ratings, ratings, and ratings. All those ratings bring in big bucks. It doesn't bother me in the least. I didn't watch it and I don't know who won and I don't care.

I've never watched American Idol either. I don't know who won, but I do know that some guy named Sanjaya was awful.

I will, however, watch Iron Chef America this coming Sunday night. Louisville's Oak Room's executive chef, Todd Richards is going to be squaring off against Iron Chef Cat Cora. Cool stuff. I just hope that the secret ingredient isn't something like squid ink or brussels sprouts.

It never fails to amaze me. Commentators in watching the Republican You Tube debate saw that Rudy Giuliani has an aggressive and mean side. He's a New Yorker, he's an Italian American who was a Federal Prosecutor who went after the mob in New York City. Giuliani, unlike a lot of the chicken hawks, is legitimately tough. He had to be. He was prosecuting people who, if they got off, would have killed him. Gleefully. Whether you like him or not, this is him and this is his personality. I actually found it interesting that Pat Robertson is supporting him. Pat Robertson loathed Bill Clinton and went on and on about Bill Clinton's sexual ethics or lack thereof. Bill has nothing on Rudy on that department. I guess, for Pat Robertson, one's sexual ethics matter only if you are a Democrat...

It's interesting. Most of our federal agencies are, at present, a mess. The Bush Administration is anti-government and the best way to make a case for anti-government is to assure that government agencies are inept. They have done this. Whoever becomes the next President has to fix virtually all the federal agencies and grapple with a severely strained military fighting two wars.

So here is my question. Who in their right mind, would want to become President?

This earth shaking news is just in. On the MSNBC website they have a headline that Britney Spears may have mental problems. Spears displays serious problems, say health experts. Praise the Lord for these experts because no one else could have figured that one out.

The main headline on the Faux News website was that a missing college student was living a double life as a porn star.

I live to read about all these vital stories.

Some football predictions. I'm going on a limb and will get laughed out if or when I'm proven wrong, but here are some of my fearless predictions:

The Cowboys are going to crush the Packers like bugs tonight.

Rex Grossman is going to have a breakout game this weekend against the New York Giants.

The Dolphins are going to beat the Jets.

Finally, Todd Sauerbrun's IQ will still be very low.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Amazing Dishonesty

Karl Rove was a recent guest on Charlie Rose’s show and was interviewed. He is writing a book (DUH!), and has a big surprise in it. He informs Mr. Rose that the Bush Administration was upset with Congress in the autumn of 2002 because Congress was pushing forward to have debates about invading Iraq. The Bush Administration, according to Karl Rove felt that congress was pushing them to war. If one reads news releases from October of 2002 from www.whitehouse.gov, one would find out that Karl Rove is exhibiting great dishonesty.

Here’s the thing. The Bush Administration is the administration that brought us to war in Iraq. This is not an opinion. It’s pretty much a simple fact. The Bush administration, according to the news articles on the White House website was happy to have Congress have the debates and issue authorization.

Talk about chutzpah! Talk about an amazing sense of dishonesty. Sadly, the Karl Rove’s of the world are mightily abundant, those people who willingly commit character assassination and teach others to do it. Politicians are no longer taught statesmanship, they are taught character assassination and we are the worse for it.

But then President Bill Clinton addressed the war. In 2002 he supported the war in a very vocal fashion. He made speeches to the effect that Saddam Hussein was a threat and that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. I was opposed to the war from the start as it violated the ethical Just War Principles, but I did give Bill Clinton a listen. He surprised me at the time.

But now, in his speeches, low and behold, Bill Clinton is now saying that he was against the war from the start and never for it. I’m guessing that you have to determine what the word ‘for’ is.

Karl Rove and Bill Clinton are never people who worried about telling the truth. But this is crazy as the records of their lies are very much out there.

Lots of people in Congress and the media made determinations about the war based on the intelligence that the Bush Administration gave them. We now know that the reports were cooked and tilted to back what the Administration wanted. Hans Blick, the weapons inspector was vilified by Rove, and his intelligence reports that there were no weapons of mass destruction were ignored. They were right, but they were ignored.

I give most of the people in Congress a pass on this. They based their decisions on bad information. They should have pursued more information, but they didn’t. For that, they should be criticized. They didn’t, however, have a reason to not believe what they were given.

Karl Rove knew better and Bill Clinton had to know better. He was the President for 8 years and certainly had been briefed by the CIA very extensively. He might have been in his lazy boy eating a Big Mac when the war debate took place, but his knowledge of the region was greater than average.

As an aside, Hillary’s statements on the war, now, have to be also suspect.

This is all such amazing dishonesty.

Over 3800 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq. At the very least people ought to be honest about the events and thoughts leading up to the war.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tuesday Morning Quarterback

Yes, I know that I’m supposed to be a Monday morning quarterback but I didn’t get around to it until Tuesday.

First, and most obvious, hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the Redskins’ Sean Taylor who was shot and ultimately killed in what appears to be a break in at his house. It is a tragic crime and is terribly sad.

This weekend in the NFL was not a good one for me.

I’d begin by saying that my Giants played the Vikings. That would be strong. My Giants laid down like dogs in front of the Vikings might be a better image. The game ball for the Vikings should have gone to Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning who was significantly more accurate throwing to Viking defenders than he was to Giants’ receivers. He threw three touchdown passes to Viking defenders and one was run back to the Giants’ 8 yard line. In his post game interview Manning had his “Aw schuck’s” attitude and or lack of reaction. Peyton plays with a fire in his belly and Eli just seems to lack much development as an NFL quarterback. Having said that, the Giants’ defense allowed a 9 minute drive against them in the third quarter. This was a team that deserved to lose.

It’s obvious that the Eagles didn’t get the memo that you’re supposed to become rugs when you play the Patriots and let them walk all over you. They played an amazing game against the Patriots.

A.J. Feeley needs to be the Eagles’ new starting quarterback. Donovan McNaab has always lived with a monkey on his back since the comedian Rush Limbaugh’s in his failed attempt at being a sport’s analyst made his incredibly ignorant comments about McNaab. Being a Giants’ fan, on the receiving end of McNaab’s playing ability, I know he was a quality quarterback in the NFL. There is a hill that he seems to have gone over, however. He’d be better off playing for the Ravens who seem to delight in getting over the hill quarterbacks in their team.

The Dolphins and the Steelers game. THAT is real football. Fun. Probably nasty to play in, but fun to watch. It is amazing, however, how good teams always manage to win.

Do you get the impression that the golden carriage has turned into a pumpkin for the Lions and the Titans?

And that the pumpkin has turned into a carriage for the Browns?

I think that I saw Jeff George warming up on the Ravens’ sideline last weekend.

Here is my prediction. The Giants’ next two games are against the Bears and the Eagles. The Giants were, at one point, 7-2. In two weeks they will be 7-6 and history will repeat itself with a second half of the season collapse. Will Tom Coughlin survive another collapse? I doubt it.

Jack Del Rio cut Byron Leftwich just a bit more than a week before the season began. He placed the team’s fate and his own fate as the Jags head coach by choosing to go with David Garrard. Talk about good decisions. In watching Leftwich in Atlanta, it’s obvious that is biggest problem is his incredibly slow release. In his last game with the Falcons one of the beer vendors sold three beers from the time that Leftwich saw the open receiver to the time the ball left his hand...

And saving the best for last. Todd Sauerbrun. Before the game against the Bears he boasted that he would not kick away from the Bear’s Devin Hester. You know, Devin Hester who FEASTS on returns. Often the only thing that stops his returns are the walls of the stadium. Opposing special team players certainly haven’t.

Then there is Todd Sauerbrun. He wasn’t afraid of Devin Hester. Too manly for that.

He punted to Hester. The last player he had to beat was Sauerbrun. Hester cut, and Sauerbrun was so faked out his jockstrap hit one of the officials standing by. Touchdown. Lesson learned.

But, no, this is the manly and brilliant Todd Sauerbrun. He also kicks off for the Broncos. He kicks off directly to...

One can only speculate on what he was thinking. The Bears had two number 23's. Two guys named Devin Hester. One guy who returned punts, another guy, same name, same number, but very slow returned kicks. So, the manly and brilliant Todd Sauerbrun kicked off directly to Devin Hester.

One person to beat. Todd Sauerbrun. Sauerbrun’s jock strap landed in some guy’s beer in the third tow and Hester scored a touchdown.

Later on the manly and brilliant Todd Sauerbrun decided, finally, to not kick to Hester. He turned right into a blitzing guy and kicked it to him. Blocked punt returned for at touchdown.

After the game, the manly and brilliant Todd Sauerbrun said that Devin Hester had won it for the Bears.

No Todd, you did.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Another Inconvenient Truth...

There is another inconvenient truth that people ought to be concerned about in the next Presidential election, but probably won't be.

This week's edition of Newsweek is a tale of two columns. The first column is a political strategy written by Karl Rove. His column is on how to beat Hillary. He lays out a carefully thought out approach and makes sure to alert the reader that Hillary is, in his words, 'hard and brittle.' He tells the candidate that everyone knows Hillary, hint, hint, hint, and needs to portray himself as, well, not her. One ought never underestimate Karl Rove. No one has been a more efficient and effective character assassin as he.

The other column is written by Anna Quindlen and she makes people painfully aware of another inconvenient truth. Hunger and poverty are national problems----but not really issues.

She speaks of a soup kitchen line at a church in New York City. The church operates a soup kitchen every day and they feed close to 1000 people each and every day. It has become a struggle because food donations are down.

Actually, what she writes, is painfully real. In New Albany, Interfaith's food pantry has been hit hard and has suffered from a falling inventory. In the downtown a series of churches provide meals each day. At St. Marks, we have our soup kitchen on Saturdays at noon. We used to feed 35-40 people. We now consistently feed around 80. Cuts in government spending on feeding the poor are impacting not only those who are poor, but those who are committed to feeding the poor.

It has become fashionable for people of faith to speak about values issues. The values issues generally boil down to abortion and gay marriage.

Sadly, rarely does poverty get a mention. Rarely does hunger get a mention. Churches are failing, frankly, in making Jesus' highest ethical priority, their ethical priority.

Meanwhile, those looking to become President are laying out strategies of victory. They will chart out how to portray themselves. How do vilify their opponents. And what issues will play in Peoria...

Sadly, the inconvenient truth of hunger and poverty will go unaddressed and ultimately not care for.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

So Much for Critics...

My family has a tradition. We enjoy going to the movies on Thanksgiving Day. We actually also tend to go on Christmas Day. We were deciding what movie to see.

Thanksgiving and Christmas, movie wise, is not the type of movie where one has to think a whole lot. It needs to be funny, feel good, or both. Nothing too taxing. The Jason Bourne movies do not fit the bill on the holidays.

It pretty much boiled down to "August Rush" or "Enchanted." I printed out the reviews. "Enchanted" got really good reviews and I still want to see it. It does look funny.

But "August Rush" got dismal reviews. On critic said that it wasn't a bad movie, it was an aggressively bad movie.

Funny thing on Yahoo, however. The critics reviews were harsh and awful. It barely earned a 'C,' grade wise. But Yahoo users gave it a 'B+." Huge difference. Over my grumpiness and self-righteous statements of my personal sacrifice in seeing such nonsense, we went.

So much for the critics. The music was great and Freddie Highmore demonstrates, again, that he is the best child actor out there right now. The story had some holes in it. Most do. The movie needed to be edited a bit more aggressively. It was about 15 minutes too long.

It was sentimental and maybe even corny, but the characters in this movie are difficult to dislike. Even Robin Williams, "The Wizard," who is the 'bad guy' in the movie has some very endearing qualities. It is ultimately a story of two great musicians who have one night together and circumstances keep them apart and a child neither one is aware of is out there in an orphanage, hearing music and believing that the music comes from Mom and Dad and will one day bring them together. The boy, who is a musical prodigy, determines that his music will be heard and Mom and Dad will find him and they will all live happily ever after.

It strains a bit and stretches things a bit and you can probably figure out how it ends.

But when it ends and you look around the theater, people are drying their eyes and feeling good. It was obvious that the people enjoyed the movie a lot. I enjoyed the movie a lot.

Then I remembered something. I once watched one of the most critically acclaimed movies of all times. Critics loved it. It was called "The Unbearable Lightness of Being." The length of that movie was about 2 months long. Long, long film. Taught me a lesson. Don't ever see a movie with the word 'unbearable' in it. Critics loved it.

So much for critics...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

Tomorrow is a day for giving thanks. People gather around tables with family and friends, eat turkey and enjoy each other's company. Many clergy really enjoy Thanksgiving because, unlike Easter and Christmas, it doesn't come in the midst of a really big season and doesn't inherently demand a Worship Service. Some churches do have them and that's great. I'm going to enjoy the holiday. What is extra special, for me, is that our church youth group, which I run, is making dinner in the Soup Kitchen on Saturday. A good way of giving thanks is to give service and we have that opportunity.

It is easy to overlook the importance of giving thanks. We live in a culture where people disagree politically, theologically, and almost in every other possible way. Often in our blogging we get into debates, sometimes heated, about the wide range of topics that many have a passion for.

I give thanks for all. To me it is wonderful that we are blessed with so many perspectives and have the freedom not only to have, but to express those perspectives.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday Morning Quarterback

Well, I need to begin with the Giants. They beat the Lions in Detroit and held the Lions to 10 points on the field where the Lions are averaging 31 points a game. Michael Strahan had a huge game. Eli was efficient. I'm concerned about Brandon Jacobs' hamstring. They need him to be healthy. I feel better about them than I have in a long time. They actually have a defense again.

A few weeks ago people were saying that the Steelers belonged 'up there' with the Patriots and the Colts. Yesterday the Steelers lost to the Jets. This was the Jets second win of the season. The Steelers lost to the Jets. Anyone tells you that they are competitive this year, just say this sentence. The Steelers lost to the Jets. It's all you need to say.

The Browns swept the Ravens this year. The 51 yard field goal that almost wasn't, but was, turned into a morsel of revenge for the Rat-eaters leaving Cleveland years back. Just a morsel, but morsels are good. Brian Billick, to his miscredit, mismanaged his team and it was his decisions that helped lead them from sure victory to defeat. The man's arrogance is incredible and it cost his team dearly. It was entertaining, however, watching the officiating crew which obviously blew the first call and not being able to review it, come up with a solution. I suspect that the call to the booth was truly, "We can't review it. But, do you know any GOOD restaurants in this city? Last night we went out and had a GOOD time. The Browns uniforms look pretty GOOD, don't you think?"

Barack Obama claimed that the officiating crew was doing all of this at the behest of the Clinton campaign. He read about it on Bob Novack's column.

The Steelers are claiming that Kathleen Harris did the point counting in their game against the Jets. It was the only way they could have lost...

The Bills defense held the Patriots to 56 points last night. I don't know of anyone who can beat them this year.

I figured out why Brett Favre is so successful this year. He's taking Levitra. I figure that any medication that can strengthen you and inspire you to carry two, his and her bathtubs, outdoors, can strengthen you late in your career. It's the only plausible explanation to this amazing year.

All the experts were decreeing a couple years back that TO and Moss were finished. So much for experts.... Of course, these were the experts who also were talking about the Steelers this year.

Tony Dungy's game management at the end was questioned far and wide. He was right and, unlike Brian Billick, his 'end game' decisions helped seal a victory. The Colts are playing tough, but it's a tough time for them. When I saw them wearing name tags in the huddle yesterday I knew that these guys hadn't played together very much.

The Bears are back to trying to win with Rex Grossman. Not unlike the Ravens with Kyle Boller. These are guys who can tease you, but when you fall in love with them they kill you. Vinny Testaverde was/is like that. Brian Griese has built a career on it. Drew Bledsoe's career was the same way. They look like all world one week, and the next week they find open defenders with alarming regularity. That's why the Giants gave up on Kerry Collins a few years back. Same thing. They deceive you into thinking that they are the guy....but then t'aint.

It's obvious that the University of Louisville football team missed Bobby Petrino in a big way this year. But one has to believe that Bobby Petrino missed the University of Louisville football team this year as well.

The Steelers lost to the Jets yesterday. That was a likely as Letterman writing jokes for Leno...

The Chargers and the Saints were supposed to be huge contenders for the Super Bowl this year. It looks like there may be a special game for these two teams. The Stupor Bowl.

Ironically, the AFC East has a good chance of having the only two perfect teams in the league this year. The Patriots and the Dolphins both look like they are on the road to perfection. One has to see the irony of the Dolphins situation in this...

I'm realizing that I've been a little too hard on the Steelers today. They did lose to the Jets, however. But I'll have to eat my words if they beat the Patriots...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Exactly What Battle?

ROCK recently put up a billboard on I65, Someone's Daughter. It is near the porn store off of 65 and is a demonstration opposed to that facility.

It would, on some level, be nice to be able to stand with this group. I do not believe that they are truly wrong about the issues of pornography and the difficulties the sex industry bring to any region. It is a legitimate issue on so many levels.

The problem is that as I watched their video I did not get the impression that ROCK is a group that's main interest is in dealing with the local sex industry. The very name of the organization, Reclaim our Culture Kentuckiana, hearkens to something more. A lot more.

They decry a moral decline in a culture and claim this as a fact. I hear this a great deal and it's usually from people who haven't studied ethics. Every generation and every culture has its issues. We often hearken back to the 40's, the 50's, and the early 60's as the 'best of times.'

Racism was rampant.

Sexual harassment was rampant.

Domestic violence was rampant.

The percentage of gay people in the population was, I would imagine, the same as now. The only difference between now and then is that people pretended not to notice back in that time period.

The abortion issue is often raised. I knew a female doctor from that era who told me (when she was in her 80's) that not much had changed. She said that in 1965 they were merely called D&C's.

People make the statement that we are in a moral decline. The reality is that, like most eras, we live in the best and worst of times ethically.

In watching the video they spoke of oppression of Christians and a suppressing of religion. I've been a pastor for 24 years and guess how much oppression I've suffered? Zip. Nada. Prayer in schools is not illegal. I dare say many students have quietly prayed in taking exams. The only thing banned were the collective prayers in classrooms. I hear that the 10 Commandments have been removed from society. Maybe courtrooms, but St. Marks has the 10 Commandments posted outside in our building. Guess who told us to remove them? Not a soul. I still attempt to live by them. Whether they are posted over a judge in a courtroom does not add them or subtract them from public life.

There is talk about increasing secularism in our society and a rise in humanism. All of this is a departure from the Judeo-Christian values this nation was built on. Huh? Has anyone ever read anything about the founding fathers? John Adams was a Congregationalist (actually my demonination) and was very much faith driven. Most of what his faith was driving him to do was to forbid slavery in the new nation.

George Washington was a member of the Church of England. He wasn't very showy about his faith. Ben Franklin wrote a very entertaining essay on traveling evangelists. He found them to be entertaining and cautioned people not to carry too much money to revivals as these preachers were highly skilled at getting people to part with money. Jefferson and Madison, who were the main authors of our foundational materials were Theists, very, very marginal in their religious beliefs.

This was the Age of Enlightenment and, frankly, religion wasn't a big deal. St. Marks was founded in 1837 and the vast majority of the nation, at that time, was unchurched.

So, I wonder when these Judeo-Christian values popped up?

So, here's my question. Exactly what battle is being fought? Are we looking to confront the sex industry or is there a wider agenda to set the political table for candidates who support them?

In watching ROCK's video people may get the impression that they represent all Christians. They certainly don't represent this one.

I'm all for grappling with the porn industry and confronting prostitution. I'll wait for a group that is more concerned about that they pushing a much wider agenda.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

God and Country

On Tuesday when I went to see the President I became rather angry at something.

I wasn't a protester or an admirer. I was simply an American citizen who wanted to see the President. I was surrounded by people holding signs, many quietly, and people holding signs and shouting. For the most part, the vast majority of the people were respectful of the fact that we were all Americans and people disagreed with each other. In many ways, it was a microcosm of the nation.

But then I got annoyed. Some folks who supported the President began shouting at those who don't, "God and country." The presumption was this. The people who don't support President Bush are not people of faith and they are not patriotic Americans. This does seem to be a prevailing MYTH and I'm, frankly, annoyed by it.

Here's some reality. Do I support the war on terror?

I absolutely support the war on terror and I want what is best for our troops. I believe that we had to go into Afghanistan as it was the center of the Taliban activities and a refuge for the terrorist. My biggest issue with invading Iraq was the it was and is a diversion on the real war on terror. We had Iraq well contained and they were not a threat to us. Frankly, I'm more concerned with Iran, Syria, and North Korea. And we, military, are not in a position to make any major responses. It is insulting when people insinuate that people who are opposed to the war in Iraq are not patriotic or do not want what is best for the United States. It is also wrong.

Secondly, I was not aware that God belonged to any political party or endorsed any political party. I was unaware that God stands next to George W. Bush or any person and says that unless you support this person, you are no supporter of mine.

Many people who call themselves 'liberals' attend church each week. They pray, they read their Bibles, and some of them have actually become clergy who are trying to dedicate their lives in the service of God.

Do I believe in God and Country? You bet. And to suggest otherwise is not only insulting, it is a despicable lie.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Well....

I have never seen a President before and here was President Bush about two blocks from where I work. What an opportunity to see a sitting President!

Lori and I (Lori is my Associate Pastor) went out there and stood waiting for 1 hour and 45 minutes. I am not a fan, but seeing a President would be cool. True man of the people that he is, his motorcade ducked down a side alley and he went in the back door of the place. None of us saw him. But we went to lunch and stared at the building (from across the street) that he was speaking in. So that was my big shot at seeing a President and he blew it!

My secretary did see us on TV, however. We were standing in front of all the protesters and signs. We weren't protesting, just there to see a President.

It certainly was interesting.

One guy who was against the war banged a drum the entire time. He kept a good beat, but the drum playing got a bit annoying. Another group sang "God Bless America," badly, I might add, to drown him out. He stopped and let them sing. Then he played louder. Later on the "God Bless America" crowd did the "Pledge of Allegiance," which is fine. The drummer stopped while they did the Pledge and then started up again and played louder upon their finishing.

It looked like there were a lot more protesters than supporters. We were in front, but I suspect a lot of people were like us, simply wanting to see a President.

Interesting things.

One group was yelling and had posters than 9/11 was an 'inside job.' (I looked to see if they were wearing Rosie for President buttons, but they weren't.) That group is a bit extreme and frankly, 'out there.' Others were protesting the war.

There were a lot of "Support the Troops," posters, both among the protesters and the supporters of the President. Frankly, I've not met one person who doesn't support the troops. Supporting the troops and supporting where the troops are sent to fight are different issues.

I was annoyed at the people yelling, "God and country," as if only the supporters of President Bush love God and country. I'm not a fan of his, but I love God and country as much as the next person.

I do wish he had gotten out in front of the Grand and at least waved. I recognize security issues, but there was a lot of security and the few seconds he would have been out front would have meant the world to everyone out there. I wasn't there to make a statement. I was there to see a President and I didn't. All I got out of the experience was a headache (drum and bad singing), and sore feet.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The President is Coming to Town

Well, the President is coming to town. Tomorrow. Just around the block from me. I walk out the side door, walk through a parking lot, and walk half a block and there he will be. I keep saying that I would never go see him, but this is about as close as he could get to seeing me.

I have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, wow, we have to hand it to the people who got him to stop and speak in New Albany. He's also going to be speaking downtown. Regardless of how one feels about a President, his party, or his convictions, it is an amazing thing for the President to come to town.

Conversely, he will be touting his economic plans and how great they have been. For some. We will have to close our Clothes Closet tomorrow. The Clothes Closet serves the poor and and the working poor many of whom have not done well with those economic plans. The price of fuel and health care costs are devastating a whole lot of people and shrinking the middle class.

Presidents, unfortunately, are very insulated. The White House is far removed from the average person. Even when he walks into the Grand in New Albany many of the people around him will be thrilled that he is there and won't have a chance or opportunity to sit and talk with him. I wish, I so greatly wish, that he could or would sit down for coffee at Treets or the Little Chef and listen to people who aren't his fans and really hear what they have to say.

In a season of campaigns Presidents and people vying to be President do a lot of speeches. I wish they'd have the ability to do a lot of listens. Not just listen to the people around them, not just listen to the people who adore them, but listen to the people who respectfully disagree with them.

I just may show up in the crowd and if he wants to have a cup of coffee with him, I'll be happy to buy.

This Weekend in the NFL

Well, whatever you feel about Tony Romo and Terrell Owens, they are definitely good players and the Cowboys are a really good team. To my Giants credit, they played with them for the first half, but the Cowboys were just too much.

Eli Manning is an enigma to me. He has a great arm and has the capacity to make some great throws. He also is inclined towards some boneheaded mistakes and some incredibly inaccurate throws. They say that he is 'laid back' but three delay of game penalties is downright criminal. This young man needs to have a fire lit under him or a size 12 shoe inserted some place. It is often unfair that he is compared to his brother, but he's just not getting the job done at the moment. At least not consistently.

What do you call it when the best quarterback in the NFL throws three interceptions and the best kicker misses a chip shot? You ultimately call it a loss. Funny, however, the Colts had a mid-season swoon last year and everyone decreed that they were done. You don't win the Super Bowl until you actually show up and win the Super Bowl.

What is with the Saints?

Rememer the Titans? (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) They look good at times and at other times. Vince Young is learning the harsh lesson that being a great quarterback in the NFL is about throwing, not running. He got away with it last year, taking NFL defenses by surprise. You don't surprise NFL defenses for two years in a row. This young man has great talent, but he's going to need to learn how to be a more productive passer.

Last week I was about to say that Donovan McNabb looks finished. He seemed to have lost a step and not have the ability to plant and throw down field like he used to. So much for my prognostication of last week... (And no, I was not on the band wagon that he was over-rated. I've watched him pick apart the Giants for too long to believe he's anything other than a really fine NFL quarterback.)

Last year I felt that Ben Roethlisberger was overrated and his overrating had finally caught up to him. Again, so much for my prognostication of last year. He looks like he's going to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL for many years to come. And, the Steelers sure look smart by hiring Mike Tomlin. Wow. He's done a great job.

The Falcons are 3-6 and have won two games in a row. Bobby Petrino inherited a mess and he doesn't have a quarterback or many of the key players he needs to win a great deal. The Falcons, however, are turning into a disciplined team that is going to play hard against their competition and win some games.

Last year I kept reading about Charlie Weis (head coach of Notre Dame) being a genius and how he was a great pick for their program and was going to be one of the best college coaches of all time. Sean Peyton (head coach Saints) was the anointed one of the NFL. The genius talk has died down a lot. So much for other people's prognostications of last year.

It just goes to show you, you can't make predictions. As Chris Berman says over and over again: You have to play the game.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

An Amazing Veto

President Bush vetoed a water projects bill claiming it was too expensive. Congress voted to override the veto and they did so with an overwhelming majority.

What an amazing veto. In the last decade we have had damage never seen before inflicted on our nation by hurricanes. A major city was devastated like no American city had ever been devastated before. This bill would help fix up defenses against water damage. Expensive? Yes, for sure, but it's a heck of a lot less expensive to prevent damage than to do the repairs from damage.

His veto was very, very short-sighted and demonstrated a tremendous lack of research and comprehension on his part. He rarely fails to amaze me.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Tuna Sandwich Law


I call it the Tuna Sandwich Law. It goes like this. In a two party election a tuna sandwich will get 40% of the vote. There are always enough die-hards who will vote a straight party ticket so even a tuna sandwich is assured of getting 40% of the vote. My law, to this, is if you score higher, than you beat a tuna sandwich; if you get lower than 40% you didn't do as well as a tuna sandwich would have done.

When Hillary Clinton first ran for the Senate in New York the Republicans chose a man, Rick Lazio, who had somehow dazzled his party's leadership into thinking that he had a measurable IQ. When he first entered the race, it was close. Then he spoke. He did worse than a tuna sandwich would have.

After watching all the ads for the Kentucky Governor's race I felt cheated that we in Southern Indiana could not vote. If we had to endure all the commercials, we should have had a right to weigh in. To his credit, incumbent Governor Ernie Fletcher narrowly beat the tuna sandwich out by getting 41% of the votes. He really was a dreadful governor. It is mystifying.

He defeated Ann Northup in the Republican primaries. He used Ms. Northup's Roman Catholicism against her in parts of the state where that tactic would work. It was shameful but effective. It also was an incompetent fool defeating a woman who might have been elected Kentucky's Governor. Unlike him, she had a chance in a general election.

Fletcher's campaign was about not wanting casino gambling. His opponent's best commercial was a clip of Fletcher's inaugural address. That's always frightening. Fletcher ran on the 10 Commandments----things he likes to see posted but doesn't feel any need to obey them, and prayer in schools. Well, private prayer in schools is still legal and public prayer in schools is illegal. Is he suggesting that private prayer in schools is illegal----and doesn't know the law, or is he suggesting that he wants to lead the state into breaking laws?

Frankly, the only thing I saw Fletcher running on was that he was opposed to casinos and or gambling because some people in some other unnamed places lost money in the casinos.

It's difficult for an incumbent to have so little to run on.

He can take great solace, however. He did better than a tuna sandwich would have.

But barely.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Torture

President Bush recently said:

"I believe the questions he's been asked are unfair," Bush said in an Oval Office session with reporters. "He's been asked to give opinions of a program -- or techniques of a program -- on which he has not been briefed."

This has come after Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey seemed to bypass or evade water boarding as torture. From most descriptions I have read of water boarding, it is torture----the big question we have to wrestle with is whether or not we condone torture.

Some have said that torture has led to us receiving valuable information. Others will argue that it makes any information we get very suspect.

Be that as it may, several observations.

First, the Congress not only has a right to ask Michael Mukasey his views on water boarding and torture, they have a responsibility. The previous Attorney General did approve of torture and water boarding. For the President to say that they are asking Mr. Mukasey these questions is unfair because he hasn't been briefed is beyond lame. Surely this man, an experienced attorney and judge has a clue. At least one would hope.

The problem I have with torture isn't about its effectiveness or its legality. It concerns the morality of it. As a Christian pastor my moral codes are defined, in part by my faith, my reason, and philosophical principles. There is an old philosophical adage that states that the end does not justify the means. Simply put, one cannot do something immoral in order to get to something good. We can make lemonade out of lemons, make the best out of a bad situation, but we cannot do evil in order to accomplish something we see as good.

What concerns me about this President is that he ran on a 'values' platform.

He claims to be pro-life, but he supports the death penalty---REALLY supports the death penalty.

He vetoes bills aimed to help the poor and even poor children.

He ignored most principles of the just war theory to launch a unilateral war against a sovereign nation.

And prisoners ARE tortured. They simply are.

Okay, he's opposed to abortion, an issue that impacts a very small percentage of the population.

He's anti-gay rights. To discriminate against a portion of the population because you don't accept their sexual orientation doesn't strike me as a great deal different from discriminating against people's genders, race, or nationality. I was born male, I have a heterosexual orientation, I am Caucasian, and I am half Italian, half Irish. Of these aspects about myself I choose:

a. To be male.
b. To be straight.
c. To be Italian and Irish
d. None of the above.

So, our current President ran on values. They certainly aren't the values of Christianity, they certainly aren't the values of mainstream ethical philosophy, so it makes me wonder just whose values he ran on and by whose values he governs.