Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday's NFL Post-Game

First, in a non-NFL game, I saw the Ball State Cardinals play on Saturday. They are Indiana's only ranked college team and they are quite a good team. Very, very impressive performance by them.

First off, the Giants and the Steelers was a key matchup. Two 5-1 teams and questions were being asked if one was a pretender or if these were two quality teams. The answer was the latter. This was one hard fought game and the hitting was intense. I was frustrated with the Giants' offense for running so much, even uneffectively. I realized this morning, however, that Eli was barely touched and their running game kept the Steelers' pass rush at bay. The Steelers played great goal line defense, but 4 field goals do add up to points. The safety was a huge play and a reminder as to how important a long snapper is.

This was, on another level, the first time Big Ben and Easy E played each other when both were on comparable quality teams. Lots of people said that the G-Men had chosen poorly picking Eli over Ben. In a first head to head match up, Eli won and played an efficient game. Ben had four throws picked. I'm happy with the Giants' choice.

You have to love Mike Singletary's intensity and his dealing with a foolish player. He certainly got his team's attention.

Dallas played a tough D against Tampa Bay. Dallas is at Giants Stadium next week in a huge game.

Drew Brees wanted to have a big game against the Chargers and he did. But Rivers had a good game as well. The Chargers made a difficult choice and two teams have great quarterbacks.

The Browns are looking more and more like last year's quality team.

Tonight is a huge test for the Colts.

And finally, alas, the Bengals. 0-8. Dear Mr. Brown. Marvin Lewis is not going to turn your team around.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rep. Michele Bachmann on Hardball

Last week Rep. Michele Bachmann from Minnesota was on Hardball with Chris Matthews last week. She made allegations that Barack Obama held un-American views and pretty much went on and implicated a large swath of Congress. She called for a major media investigation into all of this. It really was amazing. It was really over the top. I mean, really over the top.

The result was that her opponent received over $1,000,000.00 in donations as a result of her apperance. The RNC pulled out all of their funding for her. It is looking like her political career has gone down the tubes.

Two things have been said in response by her. First off, she has backed away from her comments. She misspoke, she was misunderstood, etc.

The second thing, of course, was that she blamed Chris Matthews. Actually, in watching the interview, Matthews pretty much let her do the talking only asking points of clarification, often with, 'are you sure...?' She had never watched Hardball (right) and didn't know much about Chris Matthews (right) and he trapped her.

A couple of responses.

First, I suspect that she said what she really thought and really felt. Actually, she spoke with such passion and conviction it was painfully obvious that she said what she really thought and really felt.

Secondly, about Chris Matthews. I watch Chris Matthews a great deal. Matthews is actually usually very gracious and even self-depricating. He is willing to allow people, actually wants people to say what they really think about things. He is painfully fair to people from any perspective and despite is loudness and bluster, is a good interviewer. He does have one streak, however, that people like Michele Bachmann find painfuly. He does not suffer fools gladly. If you show up on Hardball and can answer questions with a sense of coherence and knowledge, he's great. If you are a fool, however, when he's done with you people will know that you are a fool. If you are not knowledgeable and show up on his show saying things that you don't know much about, the world will know of your ignorance.

Some time back a radio talk show host was comparing Barack Obama with Neville Chamberlain with appeasement. Matthews asked his guest what exactly Chamberlain had done in appease Hitler. He asked the question probably two dozen times and the guest only kept repeating that he 'appeased.' Matthews was looking to hear the name Czeckoslovokia.

He never heard it. It was obvious the man did not know what Chamberlain had actually done. He, of course, like Bachmann, blamed Matthews for trapping him. If we get trapped in our own ignorance it is not the person who exposes our ignorance to the world who is at fault, it is us.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Isms Show Up

Recently, in New Albany, Indiana, a local merchant told a Chicago newspaper that while he was a lifelong Democrat, he would never vote for an African American for President. Race was the key issue at work. The blogs in out fair city have been afire with people decrying racism as well they should.

Rush Limbaugh, in his recent blast on Colin Powell, stated that the only reason Powell was backing Obama was because of race. Limbaugh’s usual logic was at play as Powell’s rationale, whether one agreed with it or not, was clearly laid out with statements as to why. The reality that Limbaugh missed was that Powell just made his decision; and six months ago Barack Obama was already an African American. Nothing new changed there. Unless Limbaugh believes that Powell recently had corrective eye surgery or something. But I do digress. Rush Limbaugh has made enough comments over the years to demonstrate that he is a pretty blatant racist and his bigotry is pretty easily traced. I would certainly hope that people who have not seen this would be interested in a bridge I’d like to sell them in Brooklyn...

Interestingly enough the current flap about Sarah Palin’s wardrobe is actually pretty sexist in tone.

Take note of things that have been discussed about Sarah Palin.

Her glasses are very fashionable and many women are seeking these glasses. Lots of people have taken note of how attractive she looks wearing them.

The lipstick she wears is one that has drawn buzz.

How Sarah Palin wears her hair, up, down, or a combination of both is a regular discussion. People have opinions on how she wears it.

Obviously her clothing is well coordinated.

It has, we have learned, cost the RNC $150,000.00 to keep her ‘beautified.’

At this juncture I have yet to hear anyone speak about the hair styles of Barack Obama, John McCain, or Joe Biden.

I have not heard anyone speak about the color of their suits, the kinds of shoes they wear, their ties, their pants, or their shirts.

Some recent research showed that on ABC television programs leading female characters have a budget of a bit over $4000.00 per episode for attire, hair, and make up. Palin’s expenses are up to almost 30 episodes----but think about how many times she is on television. Every night, over and over again. And how she looks is scrutinized.

Her appearance is a subject for discussion in so many circles which, frankly, demands that she looks really good. Did they go overboard? Perhaps. Did they seem to contradict her appeal as a hockey mom? Probably----though I strongly suspect if she was campaigning in a hockey jersey and jeans she’d be eviscerated for that too.

We do have a double standard on how men are presented to the world and how women are presented to the world. When that double standard is in play, and it is in play here, this is sexism.

She is being treated unfairly in this regard.

And please note. I am not a fan of her’s, will not vote for her, and am a male. So when I say that she’s being treated unfairly, I think I actually may have a tad of credibility...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Problem with Marginalization

I’m going to begin by stating that I am a hypocrite. I do enjoy Saturday Night Live and I’m amazed at Tina Fey’s imitation of Sarah Palin. She wins the award for the best mimic job on television right now.

There is an underlying current, however, that has a major lack of health and benefit. We have become a society of learning to marginalize people.

For better or worse, Sarah Palin has become very marginalized. When she stands up to speak we think of Tina Fey. We also think of how Tina Fey will portray her. I might not be a fan of Sarah Palin’s, but I do not believe she is lacking in intelligence. She is lacking in education on issues and that lack of education shows itself time and time again. She is partly at fault for accepting the nomination for a position she had no business taking; but she also can fault those who chose her. What has taken place now is quite simple. She has become fodder for Saturday Night Live and fewer and fewer people are taking her seriously. She has become marginalized.

Marginalization is one of the favorite mechanisms of Rush Limbaugh. If one listens to him he is less interested in a person’s positions or arguments, but finds himself more interested in finding ways to demean the person. His comments about Colin Powell and race being the only real reason Powell was supporting Obama. I like to think that most people who can count to 21 with their shoes on do not fall for such foolishness but I would probably be sadly disappointed. Limbaugh ignored the words of Powell and made it all about race so that Powell would be marginalized and not taken seriously. It is a bold gambit, I might add, because Powell is a person of great integrity, courage, and accomplishment. Limbaugh cannot argue with him on merit, so his attempt is to demean him.

It goes on.

We have John McCain being portrayed as a tottering old fool who is all over the lot and not to be taken seriously. This is marginalization in a blatant form.

We have Joe Biden marginalized who lives to put his foot in his mouth so as to make him appear incompetent and lacking in judgment. Again, this is marginalization at its best. Or worst.

So much of the campaign by many has been to marginalize Barack Obama as being Arab, Muslim, odd, friend of terrorists both foreign and domestic. If people can marginalize him enough, he becomes less serious.

This is done because it is an effective political tactic.

No one has been more marginalized than George W. Bush. One can argue that his judgments (or lack thereof) and his failures have helped him earn the role he has right now. That is not an unreasonable or foolish argument. He is leaving a mess behind that no President has ever inherited. Not even close.

But...

George W. Bush is also in an important office and the office of the President means something. Years ago Andy Rooney spoke to a man during the Watergate era and the man had a picture of President Nixon on the wall. Rooney asked the man about having a picture of Nixon on the wall and the man said that he didn’t have a picture of Nixon, but a picture of the President of the United States. The position is less about the person and more about the office.

So when the marginalized George W. Bush spoke before an anxious nation to speak about the economy, he calmed no fears. It really mattered very little as to who wrote the speech or what he said or even how brilliant or dumb his words were. He, he personally, has been so marginalized that hardly anyone takes him seriously.

The lesson in all of this is simple. When we marginalize our leaders, when we make them irrelevant, when we make them little more than laughing stocks, they have no ability to lead us when we have a crisis or reassure us that all will be well.

Being critical of bad leaders and bad decisions is not only a Constitutional right, but a Constitutional responsibility. All good governments require a loyal opposition; but when the opposition works to marginalize the people in power, we all suffer the consequences.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The weekend in the NFL

It was a weekend of upsets.

Last night last year’s 10-6 Giants played last year’s 10-6 Browns. The Giants had read too many of their press clippings and forgot that they were playing a team that had played just as well as they did last year. The Giants offense was bad with Eli throwing three picks, but their defense was putrid. They never once stopped the Browns. Not once. The Browns had two drives to run out clock at the end of both halves and one missed field goal. Other than that, they scored every time they had the ball; most often on long, time-consuming drives. To say that I was disgusted by my team’s performance last night is an understatement. But, they had to lose sometime!

The Cowboys did not look good on Sunday. Now Romo is out for a month. Romo has too much swagger and while is often a really solid NFL quarterback, has a tendency, when things get rough, to be somewhat dumb. The Cowboys have a problem with TO, however and it has impacted Romo. TO is NOT team player. He’s out for himself....always. I suspect every time he goes into the huddle he’s saying he’s open; throw it to me. Having both TO and Pacman Jones on the same team sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

The Bears lost to the Falcons and they have their coach to blame. I’m not a big believer that Lovie Smith has a clue and he consistently provides me proof. He by-passed going for a sure field goal when he needed to put points on the board. All he did was to fire up the Falcons. But he had a one point lead with 11 seconds left. This kind of game is difficult to blow. Most, if not all of that time, will be used on the kick return. Even if the return is for 30 or 40 yards, there will only be time for one play. But a squib kick takes less time off the clock. The clock did not begin until the receiver had the ball. He had a short return of 10 yards, but that brought him to the 40 and there was still time, alas, for two plays. So the Bears’ defense covers the CENTER of the field and allowed the sideline to be open. Matt Ryan’s pass was perfect and bam. Jason Elam will not miss two field goals in one game like that.

The Colts looked awesome on Sunday. Really awesome. The Ravens’ offense is not a big challenge, but their defense is and Peyton shredded them.

The Patriots do not look like a highly competitive team this year. Enough said.

The Bucs started Jeff Garcia and he had a good game. And they were surprised...why?

The NFC is listed as the best division in football. They certainly did not look that way this past Sunday!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

And People Say that Church is Boring

Before I read another posting about Barack Obama picking his nose and eating it in the 4th grade or John McCain passing gas in Kindergarten, I thought I'd post a funny video.




video

Monday, October 06, 2008

This Past Sunday at St. Marks....Our Wonderful Choir!

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1045539980429

This is a Campaign????

Suddenly new names are swirling around the campaign to be President. Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weathermen, a radical group has emerged as someone Barack Obama has associated with. Sarah Palin observed from reading a New York Times article that they ‘palled’ around. She probably should have read the entire article as it observed that they barely knew each other and that Ayers’ activities took place when Obama was eight.

Charles Keating and John McCain’s involvement with the Keating Five is back in the news. This was an instance where John McCain reached across the aisle and found himself in hot water with four Democrats and their involvement with Charles Keating.

Sarah Palin has raised Jeremiah Wright. This will leave McCain open to having John Hagee raised; and Palin herself open to the YouTube video of her with a rather bizarre minister praying over her that she might not be overcome by witches or something or other.

Some will say that these issues are important. Sure. Pigs are going to fly next week as well. Some will remark about character; but character is never really defined by the people we have interacted with in life as much as how we conduct ourselves.

Sadly, this is a really bad turn in this campaign. A really bad turn. This is an angry left that will do whatever it needs to do to win; and an angry right that will do whatever it needs to do in order to win. And all will pretend that this is important.

It makes me wonder if these people who run campaigns are truly serious people and it makes me greatly question their patriotism.

Here are some basic issues.

The United States is at war in two countries. We have a large number of troops in Afghanistan who are undermanned and under-armed to do what they really need to be doing. We have a larger number of troops in Iraq who have sufficient numbers to do what they need to be doing; but a huge question hanging over them as to what happens when the American Army leaves? And, at some point, the American Army has to declare that it did its job and can now go home. The problem with victory in Iraq is that no one knows what it looks like.

But there are major trouble spots. Pakistan is a looming disaster. We have rogue nations such as North Korea, Syria, Iran, and yes, Saudi Arabia. We like to call Saudi Arabia our friends but if one observes where the 9/11 terrorists actually came from and where the funding actually came from, the answer is always the same.

We have major world security issues and our army is stretched out on two fronts and does not have the manpower to respond to another crisis in a meaningful way. This is a major issue.

The biggest issue, of course, is the economy. As more and more economists have stepped forward with what actually happened it seems to be this. Wall Street made some huge bets and lost. Big. Those big time losses have shaken the entire economy because those losses directly impacted banks which had loaned out vast sums of money and insurance companies that had insured vast sums of money----vast sums of money that, for the most part, was on paper and never really in existence. The debate has been raging for months and people were assured that we were not in a recession. Well, the elephant in the living room was that it might be worse than a recession and much of the fault lies at the feet of people who actually bet against this country’s companies.

We also have a major healthcare crisis. We do. We have great sick-care if people can afford it but we have dreadful preventive care and a system with little to no checks and balances. People can charge whatever they want and people can sue for whatever they want. Both parties are defending these contrary positions and helping to keep a crisis a crisis.

These are the issues I care about. Frankly, Charles Keating and Bill Ayers are ancient history. We have far bigger issues and far greater problems and I want to know who has the ideas on how to solve them.

And it might actually require answering the questions given as opposed to the ones we want to answer...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Wow!

The Giants beat the Seahawks 44-6.

Wow.

I'm speechless.

In a good way, of course.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

This is a Great Story

This is a great story!

Really Pro-Life or,....

St. Paul wrote, :”proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.”

I am often struck by the words, ‘whether the time is favorable or unfavorable.’ In another translation it says, ‘in season or out of season.’

In short, if your message comes at a time when people are open and eager to hear the message, proclaim it. But if there is a time when people are going to ignore you or even loathe you, proclaim it.

Paul’s words and listening to the way people speak about being ‘pro-life’ has brought me to reaching a boiling point. Society, the news media, politicians, and even the average person have consistently called people ‘pro-life’ even when they aren’t.

The whole concept of ‘pro-life’ has something of a tradition of being on the front burner when abortion was legalized and capital punishment was reinstated. Roe v. Wade dated back to 1973 and then in 1977 Gary Gilmore was executed, thus beginning the United States back on a trail of killing the worst criminals in society. An ethic, called the ‘whole life ethic,’ often called the ‘seamless garment’ argument was that for a person to be pro-life, that person had to be opposed to abortion, opposed to capital punishment, and opposed to euthanasia.

Lots of details went into this. People disagreed on the circumstances when an abortion could be moral. The Roman Catholic Church determined that a direct abortion was always immoral no matter what circumstances. Most others exempted this when the life or well-being of the mother was in danger and/or in instances of rape and incest.

Anti-capital punishment did not disallow police officers to use deadly force in lives were in danger, and was not considered to be pacifists. It considered killing prisoners to be immoral.

Euthanasia included directly causing a person’s death and physician assisted suicide. In the late 1970's in the case of Karen Quinlan, the Roman Catholic church and the state of New Jersey deemed it moral and legal to removed a person from life support when this life support was considered to be an extraordinary means. This was not euthanasia or assisted suicide, it was merely allowing nature to take its course and allow a natural death.

The label, “Pro-life” is not a political label (or meant to be) it is an ethical principle, an ethical way of approaching life issues. It sets the bar high.

I am consistently disturbed by many people who masquerade (strong word, but I believe to be accurate) as pro-life. Here is what they do:

First, they are anti-abortion.

Secondly, they are pro-capital punishment.

Thirdly, they are against abortion and physician suicide and often confuse natural death/extraordinary means with euthanasia. The Terri Schiavo was very representative of this. Lawrence B. Casey had written a landmark document concerning Karen Quinlan with the same principles being very much in play. Most of the people protesting in this instance had never read the document or had a clue who Lawrence B. Casey was or what he wrote.

Here is the problem.

It is often politically popular to be anti-abortion in certain segments of the population. Among a significant segment of our nation the topic of abortion is one that motivates how people vote and who they will vote for. (The reverse is also true.) As a result, phrases like ‘defending the innocent,’ or ‘defending those who have no voice,’ are used and they are very effective in attempting to make an argument opposing abortion.

It is, however, often politically unpopular to be anti-capital punishment. The people who are executed (presuming the trial was a good one and the verdict was accurate) are legitimately heinous people who have earned the right to die. The issue isn’t what they have earned, however, the issue is how society can, ethically, deal with them. It is far more difficult to defend the lives of the heinous than it is to defend the lives of the unborn. It is also politically unpopular.

In the issue of euthanasia we have less a conflict because euthanasia is not legal. When it happens it takes place very much under the radar and so we don’t grapple with it very much. The real tragedy of the Terri Schiavo case was that some zealots who distorted ethical teachings took advantage of very grief stricken parents. It was a horribly sad story from start to finish.

Politically there are very few pro-life candidates. Actually, I do not know of any. There are people who are anti-abortion, but they are not really pro-life. They might masquerade themselves as such, but they are not pro-life. The ethic behind this actually is a seamless ethic and needs to be.

Which brings me back to the words of St. Paul. These are, to me, wise and clever words. They are words reminding us to hold fast to that which is good, whether others like it or not. It does not matter what the political climate is or who is running, or what party a person is representing. One is either pro-life, or not.

As for me, I do make it my one person crusade to call people out on this one. I will not allow a person to masquerade as pro-life when they are simply opposed to abortion. I respect their opinion on abortion even embrace most of it with a strong belief that circumstances and life and well-being of mothers has to be taken into consideration. But, to be quite blunt, I have little respect for people who proclaim how pro-life they are when they either approve of or have little concern for the issue of capital punishment. For many, it’s a great political position to have, but has little to do with any ethical thought.

I once received a phone call from the National Right to Life Association asking for a donation. I asked them about their efforts to stop capital punishment. I received a song and dance story on how that wasn’t really their fight and blah, blah, blah.

I then said, “You know, I take this pro-life stuff seriously. I’ll tell you what. When you get serious about really being pro-life, call me back.”

My phone has not yet rung from them getting back to me...