Category Archives: Current Events

RIP, Lauren Hill

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Friday, Lauren Hill, the 19-year-old basketball player, lost her battle with an inoperable brain tumor. Cancer may have defeated her, but it could not conquer her. Taking Dylan Thomas’ advice, she did not, “go gently into that good night,” but — in her own inspirational way — would “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

For those who may not know her story, it is a deceptively simple one. A basketball crazy young lady from the basketball crazy state of Indiana, this Hoosier had one desire — to play college basketball. After her senior season in high school, she signed to play for Mount Saint Joseph College in Cincinnati, Ohio. She wasn’t after a scholarship MSJ is a Division III school in the NCAA’s hierarchy and so does not award scholarships . . . it didn’t matter because she wasn’t in the game for the money, she just wanted to play. Unfortunately, during that senior year, Lauren received a chilling diagnosis from her doctors. After testing because of increasingly frequent headaches, they had found a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma — in layman’s terms, a brain tumor — completely inoperable. Her prognosis was two years at the outside.

Still, she refused to give up and continued on with her senior season, playing though the nausea of chemotherapy treatments. By the time her freshman season with Mount Saint Joseph drew near, her symptoms had started to worsen. It seemed the two-year time frame may have been a little too optimistic. But, she wanted to play. Her coach made some calls. Some other people made some calls and the usually intractably draconian bureaucracy that is the NCAA actually showed a soft side. MJS would begin their season two weeks early.

By tip-off, Lauren’s condition had progressed to the point where she couldn’t reliably use her dominant hand. Instead, she scored the game’s first points with a left-handed lay-up in front of a packed house at Xavier University’s Cintas Center. She bookended the game with another lay-up as time expired to end the contest. In all, Lauren managed to play bits of five games, scoring ten points for her brief collegiate career, but everyone knew this was a fight against an unbeatable opponent. All too soon, Lauren could no longer take to the court. She left school and went home to face the inevitable.

From a wheelchair and a hospital bed, Lauren still inspired others. Unable to play the game she loved, she turned her full attention for her remaining time towards raising money for cancer research. Her nonprofit organization, which will outlive her through her school, raised over $1 million dollars towards finding cures for pediatric cancer. Her goal was to raise $2.2 million before she died so she would match her jersey number . . . she almost made it.

Earlier today, her family, friends, teammates, and school honored her life at the same 10,000 seat arena where she made her first points as a college player. Everyone who spoke talked about her courage and determination. She realized she wasn’t going to beat this cancer early on, but she resolved not to let it beat her either. In the end, her beautiful ship slipped beneath life’s waves . . . broken and battered, but with all flags still flying.

Love y’all, and keep those feet clean.

Can’t Buy Me Class

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You have got to be effing kidding me?

Somebody needs to say it and since it seems no one is jumping up and down going “Oh, oh, pick me, pick me!!” I guess I’ll say it . . .

Kanye West, sit down and SHUT THE $%&# UP!

I try to be good to everyone. I try not to speak harshly about people I don’t know extremely well because I haven’t walked that proverbial mile in their shoes, but in this case, I’m making an exception due to overabundance of evidence of douchebaggeriness and all the evidence points out Kanye Omari West is without a doubt the biggest douchebag on the planet.

I don’t care if you think he is “talented.” I don’t care if you think he is a “musical genius.” I don’t care that he has more money than several small countries, has won over 20 Grammy Awards, and married the biggest skankapotamus in a FAMILY of skankopottomi since Paris Hilton. All his success, fame, and wealth have managed to prove is no amount of money can buy class, taste, or sophistication.

I will never have the man’s money or fame and I wouldn’t touch his wife with a ten foot pole, but I am proud I have one thing he with all his riches will never get — I HAVE RAISING! I don’t know what Kanye’s ex-Black Panther father and tenured professor mother taught him, but manners apparently never made it onto the syllabus. At least I know how to lose with as much grace as I win . . . of course, I’ve had a hell of a lot of practice, but still.

Mama, Daddy, both Papas, and both Grannys as well as several coaches and teachers over the years all taught me when you win you shake the other person’s hand and when you lose you do the same. You don’t barge into their moment of glory like an asshat to blather on about how much more you or Beyonce’ deserved this or that award. Three times this overgrown adolescent has stormed the stage of an awards show to interrupt the people legitimately getting the award in order to grab the spotlight and put forward his own version of life.

Somebody please give Baby a sucker or a binkie and explain to him life is like that.

The man spouts off whatever comes into his head regardless of how factual or farcical it may be. He has the audacity to call the sitting President of the United States a racist. Oh really, Kanye? Of course the son of a Black Panther couldn’t be just the tiniest bit racist, could he? Wouldn’t know a THING about that would he? Oh, and for the record, YES some black people are hugely racist. So are some Asians, South and North Americans, Europeans, Australians, and — if we could communicate with them — we’d probably find out some of the damn penguins on Antarctica are racist too. “Red and yellow, black and white; everyone’s a racist if the issue’s right.” When West didn’t get picked to open the 2007 VMA awards in favor of Britney Spears, he famously pouted, “Maybe my skin’s not right.” Sure, it’s all because you’re black, Kanye. The fact you’re also a raging asshole has nothing to do with it.

Long as I’m on the subject, it seems funny to me a man who seems to think everyone but him is racist has never barged in on an acceptance speech by a fellow black artist. Why is that? Are only WHITE artists not as good as Kanye West? Personally, I’d love to see him storm up on stage when someone like Tupac, DMX, Cypress Hill, or Biggie had been accepting an award. I’m thinking they wouldn’t have stood off to the side like timid little girls and let West spout his screed.

I don’t agree with too much President Obama says lately, but when he called Kanye a “jackass,” I had to send the POTUS a thank you card. Seriously, how big of a douchebag do you have to be to get called out on national media by the freaking PRESIDENT?

Also, I’m curious. What’s all the butt-hurtness over Beyonce’ not winning ten or twelve more awards anyway? If I was Jay-Z, I’d be getting a little tired hearing my wife’s name in the mouth of such a man as Kanye and if I was Kanye, Jay-Z would be one of the last people I’d want to piss off. What about Kim Skanadashian? Can’t she keep a better leash on her man? Isn’t she a little upset about him always gushing over another woman . . . c’mon, girl!

One last thing. It takes some serious hubris to pose on a magazine cover as the Son of God, and I can’t fathom the arrogance behind naming an album Yeezus and actually allowing people to all but worship oneself. Of course, this is a man who has stated on more than one occasion his line of work is just as dangerous as serving in a war or working as a police officer.

Oh, almost forgot, one MORE last thing. For all you MORONS who think Kanye “Waste” somehow “discovered” Paul McCartney, Sir McCartney has also won 21 Grammy awards AND an Oscar to boot. He won half of them before West was even a twinkle in his daddy’s eye. Paul McCartney didn’t need Kanye West to make him famous, a small side band of his managed to do that for him quite well. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? They’re known as The Beatles.

Just saying.

Always remember, even though I despise Kanye West, I love y’all, so keep those feet clean.

 

Tom Brady’s Balls Lie A-Mouldering in the Grave

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https://i1.wp.com/suffolkvoice.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/54bfc2f009f97.image_-600x340.jpgMy mother tongue fails utterly and completely to provide me words to describe how tired I am of hearing about Tom Brady’s balls. I don’t care about Brady’s balls, Blount’s balls, or Belichick’s balls. I don’t care about any of the New England Patriot’s alleged soft balls.

I. Don’t. Care.

Unfortunately, I can’t turn on the radio or the television without some talking head giving some exhaustive explanation of whether or not the Patriots had soft balls and if so why and who is responsible for the whole unintentionally-fraught-with puerile-humor debacle now known as “Deflate-gate.”

De-freaking-flate-gate. Really?

For my foreign readers and those who — luckily — are heretofore blissfully unaware of what I’m ranting about, allow me to give a brief precis of this whole tawdry affair. A week ago yesterday, the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots played a game of American football to determine which of the two would represent the American Football Conference in the upcoming Earth-rotational-pausing event known as Super Bowl XLIX (that’s 49 for those Roman-numerally challenged among us). During said game, a Colt defender intercepted a pass thrown by Tom “Golden Boy” Brady. The Colt defender pointed out to someone that the ball felt somewhat “flat” or “deflated.” The referees took possession of the dozen balls the Patriots had been using throughout the first half of play and determined — using a gauge, bare hands, or possibly chicken-blood-based voodoo, no one seems to know — that eleven of the balls were, indeed, underinflated by 1 to 1.5 psi less than the rules allow. Apparently, the Patriots were cheating.

Much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth followed.

Because of these flabby balls, I have endured a solid week of accusation and counter-accusation; blame laying and blame deflection; players defended and players used for speed bumps for the team bus. Saturday, I sat through a physics lecture by an NFL head coach. If you are looking for something to compare that to, imagine Neil deGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins teaming up for a series of revival services at the local Southern Baptist Church. Awkward, ridiculous, and out-of-field do not provide even a good beginning description of how horrible that interview was.

I realize lots of you have the same question: “If you hated hearing about it so much, why did you bother listening and watching it all?” My very simple answer is I DIDN’T HAVE A FREAKING CHOICE!

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Ya freakin’ THINK?!?! The REAL Watergate didn’t get this much coverage.

This crap has been everywhere for a week. I expect ESPN to discuss something like this ad nauseum because, after all, they are a sports network so it’s kinda their job. I wasn’t even surprised when my local sports radio station opened last Monday morning with this story as lead. I was a little worried when it was STILL the lead story on Friday, but, again, it’s a sports station. However, I AM standing mouth agape at the amount and priority of coverage real life NEWS stations gave and are still giving this insanity. ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News have all run more than one sizable story about what is, at its core, ONLY A STUPID SPORTING EVENT!

How about this? Did anyone realize, in the midst of all the ballyhoo about balls, that the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the hand of the Doomsday Clock two minutes ahead so that it now sits at 11:57? That’s three minutes til Armageddon. The symbolic clock hasn’t been set this close to symbolic midnight since 1983 back when Ronnie Ray-gun was Hell-bent on winning the Cold War even if it meant we all went up in a red-white-and-blue mushroom cloud. Instead of reflection on what this says about our fragile world, Americans sat glued to talking head explanations of how a ball should feel in the quarterback’s hand.

What about coverage of the events leading up to the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz Death Camp? One would think marking the seventh decade since one of the most horrible dens of atrocity known to man was broken open for the world to see might garner extensive attention. Unfortunately, the poignant ceremonies leading up to the January 27 anniversary have all fallen under the shadow of a giant grey hoodie with the sleeves cut off.

A massive, once-in-a-century type storm is brewing in the northeast, right in the backyard of the “Deflate-gaters.” This storm has crept across the northern USA steadily gaining strength for a week now, but the only cold air people seem to care about is the air in those limp Patriot balls and volume upon volume of hot air is being released in the explanation.

In Syria, the Kurds won a major victory over ISIS militants. In the Ukraine, thirty people died and 130 fell injured by shellfire from Russian separatist militias. President Obama had high level talks with the Indian Prime Minister for the first time in the POTUS’ two terms in office. Ebola killed several more people in West Africa and Boko Haram attacked yet another city in Nigeria. Yet, in America, NONE of these stories garnered a FRACTION of the attention surrounding a dozen undersized balls on an American football field.

Why do we still wonder why the rest of the world thinks we’re idiots? We ignore massively important issues in politics, science, economics, etc, but flock like buzzards to a rotting carcass over an insignificant story surrounding a GAME. We turn our backs on events and movements of supreme importance, but we make sure everyone knows the status of Tom Brady’s balls.

This was a great country once and I think it is still the best on Earth, but our priorities are so out of whack I shudder to think what another few decades will bring.

#declineandfall

Love y’all and keep those feet clean, but PLEASE, in the name of all that’s holy, don’t mention Tom Brady’s balls to me again!

On Snipers

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Earlier today, documentarian, social commentator, and bad film maker Micheal Moore enraged some and emboldened others when he declared the late Chris Kyle, subject of the current box office front-runner American Sniper, was — like all snipers — “a coward.” I believe Mr. Moore to be incorrect in his assessment of military snipers; while I do not ascribe any particular courage to snipers, I am certain they are in no way cowards. In fact, of all the combatants on the modern battlefield embroiled in modern warfare, snipers know better than any other the true face of war and its unfathomable costs.

Long years ago, warfare was bloody, smelly, claustrophobically close, and violently personal. In ancient times, men would stand in the heat of a summer day hacking at one another with swords, spears, and axes of copper, then bronze, then iron. A soldier saw the face of each opponent he killed. Often he would leave the battlefield soaked in blood and gore which was not his own, but belonged to his foes . . . or his friends. War was serious business.

Beginning in the Medieval period, however, the distances between combatants changed. Longbows and a little later crossbows lengthened the battlefield from face to face out to a couple of hundred yards. Unquestionably men would still finish the day with sword and axe in hand to hand combat, but the archers and crossbowmen firing in massed formation seldom saw the person who fell pierced to the heart by their projectiles.

Then came firearms and the game evolved dramatically. Now men stood at distance and blasted at one another with muskets while their compatriots in the artillery corps shot cannonballs through the ranks opposite them. Some military historians debate if the smoothbore musket was a great improvement over the longbow in terms of accuracy and rate of fire. One thing is certain, the Brown Bess took much less training and practice than the yew stave stringed with gut cord so common people rather than warriors started becoming more active participants in war.

Long about the American Revolution (sure, leave it to the Yanks) though, some enterprising gunsmith rifled the barrel of a musket. Now, instead of a range of a football field, a man with good eyesight could shoot an opponent through the vitals at over 400 yards. Thus were the first snipers born on the battlefields of North America.

From the beginning, snipers have been a hated group. The British during the American Revolution repeatedly wrote about how “unsporting” and “barbaric” the rag tag American riflemen were for refusing to stand in neat ranks and march resolutely towards another line similarly arrayed whilst shooting at one another all the while. The early Kentucky rifle carrying militia men were hated, but they lived to shoot another day . . . and they taught the British the folly of those bright red uniforms with the big brass buttons.

Ever since rifles became widespread in combat, every military — at least in times of war — maintained units of snipers. Sometimes, they were professional hunters or of similar occupation allowing excellence with a rifle and superior marksmanship. Later, men would train in the art of sniping. No matter what their background, however, it was (and remains) the sniper who carries the tradition of the personal, bloody killing of the ancient battlefield.

Today, snipers don’t carry an assault rifle capable of spraying down jungle and plain alike with hundreds of rounds in a blink. Snipers don’t have the conscience clearing luxury of blindly firing during battle at some movement and later being able to say to themselves, “Maybe I didn’t kill anyone.” Snipers KNOW they kill people. It is what they are trained to do and every time they look through their telescopic sight atop their high powered sniper rifle and pull the trigger, the SEE the target — the person — crumple and fall. Combat for snipers is ALWAYS personal, even if it may not necessarily be close.

On the battlefield, snipers are always certain of one thing — if they are captured, they WILL be summarily executed. EVERY army kills enemy snipers unlucky enough to be captured, “international laws of war” be damned. Captured snipers are killed out of hand for one simple reason — RAGE. Nothing on the modern battlefield is as terrifying as a trained sniper. If you get killed by a mortar round, it was your time. Shot during a firefight? Same thing. But sitting quietly eating an MRE and your buddy’s head explodes next to you like a pumpkin dropped from the roof? You know he died because a MIND, a THINKING person deliberately WANTED him dead. Snipers rob an army of its peace even in the rear area.

A sniper can change history with one pull of the trigger, or one shot not taken. For example, in 1777 at the Battle of Brandywine, British sharpshooter (sniper) Capt. Patrick Ferguson had an unusually tall, American officer in his rifle’s iron sights but he chose not to shoot the man because the officer had his back turned and it wouldn’t have been very “gentlemanly.” That tall officer was George Washington. Imagine how different the American Revolution might have been if Ferguson had pulled the trigger.

So, to answer Mr. Moore simply, “no, snipers are not cowards; they are soldiers.” Of all soldiers save medics, the sniper knows the blood of war most intimately. He is a hunter of men; a killer of men. A killer, but not a murderer. The sniper kills those who would kill him, his friends, and his fellow soldiers. I’ve personally known two snipers and also heard Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock speak at a dinner I attended. None of them bragged about the men they had killed. They did what they were trained then instructed to do, just like Capt. Paul Tibbets of the “Enola Gay.” They put sights on a man, pulled the trigger, and watched him die. I can’t imagine a coward being able to do that.

Love y’all. Keep those feet clean.

So Long, Mr Jeter, and Thank You

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A baby-faced Derek Jeter looks out from his 1993 Topps Stadium Club rookie card.

I hate the New York Yankees with a passion usually reserved for Crusades. Three times in the glory days that were the 1990s, the hated Bronx Bombers dashed the World Series hopes of my beloved Atlanta Braves. I suppose I inherited my hatred of all things pinstriped from Papa Wham. I’m not sure Papa “hated” anything, but he did express a stern dislike for the Yanks.

Having said all of that, I do admire the game of baseball to a fault and when a player is worthy of making baseball history, I like to acknowledge a life well lived and a career worth remembering. With that in mind, I bid a nostalgic farewell to New York Yankee shortstop and Captain, Derek Jeter.

Jeter took his last at-bat today at Fenway Park in Boston and hit a single, fitting for a player who is at the top of the Yankee’s all time hits list and sits at number six on the same list for MLB with 3,465 putting him just below the legendary Tris “Grey Eagle” Speaker and a shade above the equally-if-not-more legendary Honus “The Flying Dutchman” Wagner (a fellow shortstop, btw). Definitely not shabby company by any metric.

What makes Jeter even more special — at least in my mind — is in an era of massive payrolls, egos, and free agent deals, Number 2 spent his entire two decade career with one team. Of course, when that team IS the New York Yankees, it’s understandable, but still, very few players — and almost none of Jeter’s performance level — stay in one place anymore but prefer to chase the next big contract with some other team, be they perennial contender or celler-dweller. Jeter made New York City his home — at least during the baseball season — for twenty years and never seriously looked to go anywhere else.

Perhaps it was this loyalty which prompted irascible Yankee’s owner, the late George Steinbrenner, to name Jeter as the 14th Captain in the long and storied history of the Wearers of the Pinstripes. When you consider some of the names on THAT list — Don Mattingly, Thurmond Munson, Craig Nettles, oh, and a couple of guys named Gerhig and Ruth — it puts Jeter’s place in Yankee history in some perspective. He may not be “The Greatest Yankee Ever” and I’m not sure any group of baseball writers, players, or managers could ever pin that title on any one of the greats who played in the Bronx, but he would certainly be in the dugout in reserve and probably on the field at shortstop with the first team.

Just as much as his performance speaks volumes about his career, the words which DON’T come up in conversations about him are equally important. Despite playing near the high water mark of what is now known as “The Steroids Era,” Jeter’s name has no taint of PEDs to cling to it. No one has ever seriously accused The Captain of juicing and his time on injured reserve as well as his stints in physical therapy point to a guy who didn’t cut corners to play the game he loved. Derek Jeter, who I like to think of as “The Anti-A-Rod,” is one of a handful of players like Cal Ripken, Jr. Ken Griffey, Jr. and my own beloved Dale Murphy who played the game right — no shortcuts, no special favors, just hard work.

Fond farewells, Captain. Hope you have a great retirement.

Of all the qualities that make Jeter a memorable player, though, the greatest is probably his conduct OFF the field. For twenty years, Derek Jeter spent a majority of his time in the hottest spotlight and under the most powerful microscope in the United States. I’m talking about the shark tank that is New York City with its ability to eat celebrities of all shapes and walks of life and turn their lives into a paparazzi fueled Hell. A lot of players and celebs with half Jeter’s talents managed to upset the wrong journalist and ended up in tears amidst one scandal after another. Not Jeter. Despite being one of the biggest in a constellation of stars roaming the Big Apple, Jeter maintained his privacy and his dashing public persona as well.

Oh, to be sure, Jeter is a real life Bruce Wayne in many ways. Mild mannered billionaire playboy by day, hero — on the diamond, not in the alleys — by night. He even has his own extravagant “Batter’s Cave” in a penthouse apartment high atop Trump Tower in Manhattan! The string of lovely ladies who have graced Derek Jeter’s arm at one time or another is long and luxurious, but not very lascivious. So far, no woman from pop singing star Mariah Carey to eye-candy actresses like Jessica Biel and Minka Kelly have managed to wrestle The Captain down the aisle to the altar, but neither have they be splattered across the front page of tabloid after tabloid in one unsavory scandal or another.

So, the numbers don’t lie. Jeter has played a Cooperstown caliber career for twenty years in New York. He’s done it as the consummate professional all the while thriving in the media flashes and enduring the stormy moods of Mr. Steinbrenner. That makes him special all by itself. Goodbye, Captain, and thanks for the great memories, even if you were a Yankee.

And as for all of you . . . Love y’all, and keep those feet clean!

Abuse and the Afterlife

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NFL players charged with domestic violence along with the man who enables them.

NFL players charged with domestic violence along with the man who enables them roasting in Dante’s Inferno.

I am not an expert on the afterlife of any religion, including my own Christianity, but if the afterlife is a means of obtaining ultimate justice from a holy and just God, I am certain of one thing — an especially hot, miserable, and demon infested corner in the lowest bowels of Hell is reserved for people who abuse children, the elderly, the helpless, and animals. Then, right below THAT little slice of paradise will be a sewer just for men who abuse their spouses, girlfriends, and other women in their lives.

It’s one of the first lessons I learned even before I went to kindergarten as a child: BOYS DON’T HIT GIRLS! It is a rule deeply etched into my psyche, into my very bones. Every boy I knew growing up, from all sides of the tracks and every type of home environment had the same lesson drilled into them: BOYS DON’T HIT GIRLS! I realize some of them probably didn’t see the lesson modeled very well for them at home and some of them were probably too busy trying to dodge punches themselves to give much thought to philosophy of gender, but all of us learned it nonetheless.

I am extremely biased because I saw men modeling the lesson for me all the time. Daddy and I have had our disagreements over the years and he and Mama divorced when I was small, but I can swear to this and Mama confirmed it long before she ever died — for all of Daddy’s faults, he never raised his hand to Mama nor lay a single finger on her in anger. Even in the most bitter moments of their marriage disintegrating, Daddy didn’t even raise his voice to argue with Mama. He and my stepmother, Teresa have been married nearly 40 years now and they have had some barn burners of fights, but Daddy has never so much as taken an aggressive step towards her. Neither of my Papas were violent men. I don’t know if I ever heard Papa Wham speak above a normal conversational tone more than twice all the days I knew him.

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The face of domestic violence. What if Lindsay was your neighbor, co-worker, or even a stranger in a store?

Apparently, though, many of the “men” now playing professional sports think it is somewhat fashionable to knock the important women in their lives unconscious, as Ray Rice recently did in a horrific moment captured on a hotel security camera. Strangely, once the video surfaced to wide exposure, we find out a veritable slew of other players have CDV charges pending or even convictions. Looks like a lot of NFL “men” aren’t “leaving it all on the field” but instead are “bringing the pain” home to their loved ones . . . although how you can claim to love someone you just knocked unconscious with a left hook worthy of George Foreman is beyond me. What seriously turns my stomach, however, is how so many people are more concerned with whether or not these players are going to be allowed to continue on their teams instead of how they are punished. I don’t think the argument should be on if they get to stay in the NFL; it should be whether or not they get to stay on the streets or even stay in our midst.

But that’s all I have to say about the NFL’s domestic violence woes because I’m not naive enough to think this is an NFL problem — domestic violence is a societal problem. All across the nation in every region and every demographic, men are terrorizing their wives and children. Some stories are nothing short of nightmarish like Lindsay Arp who was left disfigured and partially paralyzed after her live in boyfriend poured boiling oil over her body while she slept. Here in South Carolina a man has recently been arrested for murdering his FIVE children, dismembering their bodies, and scattering the pieces in garbage bags all across four states.

That’s just two cases out of THOUSANDS! What I want to know is why isn’t anyone doing anything about this? These people had neighbors, co-workers, SOMEONE had to have noticed. The were not like the Lykovs living alone a million miles from nowhere. Clerks at grocery stores had to notice black eyes. Why didn’t anyone do anything until it was nearly too late for many CDV victims? This is what disturbs me the most. Have we not progressed any farther as a civilization than the New Yorkers of Kitty Genovese’s time, than the Europeans who watched their neighbors loaded into boxcars in the late 1930s and early 1940s?

Patrick Stewart - Domestic ViolenceOnce upon a time in this country, granted it was long, long ago and seemingly in a galaxy far far away, a man would not idly stand by while another man beat a woman or a child. Oh, sure, every generation has raised its share of people who refuse to “get involved,” but our current generation seems to me especially craven. What are we afraid of, being sued? Do we possess anything more dear to us than another human’s life? I’m afraid that answer is “yes.” Are we terrified of being shot or stabbed ourselves? Is our own life so much more valuable to us than anothers? Again, I’m sure it is “yes” for all but a meager handful of people.

This attitude of apathy must change. If the hands of the police are tied, society must step forward and use pressure to change this odious behavior. We cannot be afraid of embarrassing a woman or her husband by asking, “Honey, how did you get that black eye?” She may well be one of the multitude of women who desperately want to get out of an abusive, dangerous situation but don’t know how to take the first step. Abusers need to know we are watching and we will not tolerate this kind of behavior. Certainly people have their rights to privacy; but we also have a duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves and to defend the defenseless. We will send armies to foreign shores to fight for other cultures, other people, but not lift a finger to stop the violence we see in too many homes today. We cannot afford to forget what Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for evil men to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Do something.

Love y’all, keep those feet clean.

 

The terrorists have won.

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Osama bin Laden accomplished what he set out to do even though our SEALs killed him deader than John Edwards’ political career.  He was a smart man — an asshole to be sure — but an intelligent man. I don’t think he believed flying those jets into our buildings 13 years ago today would destroy America. He knew about Pearl Harbor, so I’m certain he knew he was going to royally piss us off with his nasty sucker punch. He also knew what happened to the Empire of Japan once they pissed us off, too. He wasn’t trying to destroy our country . . . even now we are much too strong for anything approaching the end of America. So what if we go flat broke? We’ve got ten giant nuclear aircraft carriers afloat with three more being built as I write this. If ten carrier task forces can’t keep the bill collecting countries away, the 2,104 mushroom makers sleeping silently beneath the Midwestern prairie or lurking 150 fathoms down in eighteen underwater states most definitely will. Bin Laden and al-Queda brethren couldn’t destroy America so instead they did something much more sinister — they destroyed our way of life.

How many times have you heard a talking head or some radio guru say “We live in a ‘Post-9-11 World?'” What they are saying  (whether they are happy about it or not is largely a function of their politics) is we went to bed on September 11, 2001 and when we woke up on September 12, 2001, the world — and especially the United States — was a radically different place. One of the jets should have taken out the Statue of Liberty because the American patron saint “Miss Liberty” was the first casualty of what we call now The Global War on Terror.

In the days, then weeks, then months following 9-11, we reacted in typical American fashion. Fifty-four Forty or Fight! Remember the Alamo! Remember Fort Sumter! Remember Custer! Remember the Maine! Over There! Remember Pearl Harbor! Remember the Maddox! Bomb,bomb, bomb; bomb, bomb Iran! We like to fight here in America. It’s what we do when people sneak attack us . . . or not, but I digress. It’s understandable why our leaders launched immediate retribution against al-Queda. As Principal Vernon so eloquently put it to John Bender, “You mess with the bull, son, you get the horns.” Still, I agree with Dan Carlin when he says we need a law against passing laws in a time of deep emotional upheaval in our country. Unfortunately, those laws don’t exist . . . so here we are.

I try to limit my posts to around 1000 words, give or take a hundred or two, but even if I stretch out this post to double the normal size, I couldn’t get in everything our government has done to destroy our liberty in the name of keeping us “safe”, so this will have to be a skimming, but I hope when it’s all done, you’ll agree with me that America may still stand and she may be the greatest country on Earth to this day, but the same cannot be said for Lady Liberty. It has gotten so bad, I firmly believe our beloved Founding Fathers would not only be unable to recognize the country they created, but they would probably be arrested for treason or — at the absolute minimum — placed high on the domestic terrorists watch list.

“Here to protect YOU from your FREEDOMS!”

For starters, they would run afoul of The U.S. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act of 2001. In the — again, understandable — furor surrounding the 9-11 attacks, the 107th Congress handed over 225 years of work towards liberty and freedom in our country to unelected bureaucrats and government agents. The provisions of the act are nothing less than astounding. Title 1 of the act gives the FBI, CIA, and NSA a blank check to pay for DOMESTIC surveillance AND authorizes those agencies to ask for MILITARY assistance in monitoring suspicious civilians. Title 2 is one of the most odious parts of the law to anyone loving privacy and liberty. Under its provisions, government agencies — again, UNELECTED and so UNACCOUNTABLE people — can legally access your documents, tap your phone, demand your library records, and pretty much walk in your house and search it all without a court order provided you are “suspected” of being a terrorist.

Now THERE is the rub, to quote the Bard. “Suspected of being a terrorist?” First of all, who is defining what a terrorist even IS? Sure, all of us common folk think we know what a terrorist is — it’s someone like Osama bin Laden or his ilk. Terrorists are always “over there” unless they are some demented homegrown folk like Timothy McVeigh. Terrorists are obvious! Well, they are until the lawyers get involved. The Federal legal definition of terrorism includes both foreign and domestic and it runs three computer screens long at 1280×1040 resolution and the upshot of it is a terrorist is pretty much anyone someone in the government WANTS to be a terrorist. Greenpeace is a terrorist organization, for example.

The PATRIOT act and subsequent legislation has absolutely gutted the Bill of Rights, particularly the First and Fourth Amendments. In 1968, Chicago erupted in protests during the Democratic National Convention. These people gathered right outside the building housing the convention. Even today, images of Mayor Daley’s police force bludgeoning young and old, male and female alike with batons evokes a sense of the definition of police brutality. Of course, assemblies and protests like that are a relic now.

Today, if your group wanted to protest the President or some convention, you would be assigned to a “Free Speech Zone” blocks away from whomever or whatever you wanted to protest. No pictures of any beatings would surface because your protest would take place far, far away from any stray media coverage. Most likely, no one would ever know your protest occurred. Of course, the government will tell you if you protest your protesting that the whole affair was, “For your safety and protection!” Who are “we the people” supposed to be protected from?

So, the bureaucrats at the intelligence agencies and in the Department of Homeland Security don’t want us to “peacefully protest” because someone might get hurt? We can’t vote them out of office because they aren’t elected in the first place. We can’t fight them in court because any pertinent evidence we might want to introduce will quickly be redacted under the all-encompassing phrase, “for national security concerns.” Where are we headed if we can no longer “petition our government for redress of grievances” without running the risk of being labelled a terrorist? To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, if you make peaceful demonstrations impossible, you assure violent demonstrations will happen.

That’s just the First Amendment. The Fourth Amendment is an even bigger joke today. We live in a surveillance state today. Everything you do, type, create, or say on the phone is probably recorded somewhere and if you trip enough flags, it’ll get analyzed and once you get analyzed, anything can happen. If Edward Snowden’s revelations didn’t wake people up, I’m not sure what it is going to take. He produced a smoking arsenal of evidence that our government is spying on us . . . but why? Many of you may recently have switched to Facebook Messenger on your smartphones. If you have, you know of the many warnings different quarters have raised concerning potential privacy leaks. When I asked Budge if she was going to switch knowing how much information an agency could track, she said, “Why not? They already spy on us every other way.”

So, thirteen years on, Obama laughs from his watery grave at what has become of American liberty. What was once the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” is now the “Land of the Watched and the Home of the Caged.” People need not point fingers at any particular administration either. Democrats who howled about how egregiously President Bush was treating our rights have completely shut the hell up now that their man is in office. President Obama has continued, if not increased the same policies President Bush started. THAT is what people don’t understand! These laws NEVER go away! Once they are on the books, “we the people” have ceded another bit of our power over our government. We’ve given these powers to our executive, do we really think another executive is going to give them BACK?

In his speech to the American people on September 11, 2001, President Bush said, “”Today . . . our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts . . . . Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America.” That is where the President was wrong. The monsters hit us, so we went out to hunt them, but we failed to take Nietzsche advice, so we became monsters ourselves. Be angry at me if you will, but it does not change the fact the terrorists have won because we may not have lost our country, but we’ve lost what our country stands for.

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

 

TEOTWAWKI . . . Redux

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https://i0.wp.com/cdn.gretawire.foxnewsinsider.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/billy-graham.jpg

People might not agree with him, but I’ve never heard anyone call him anything but a good man.

I have a confession to make. Actually, I’ve made it before, but I’ve picked up a lot of followers since then and recent events plus the date have brought this heavily to my mind once again. Some of y’all that I’ve picked up will read this and dismiss me as kooky and probably never read anything I write again. Well, it’s seventeen months from an event I lived my life believing would never occur, so I’ve got to get this off my chest and I guess the chips will fall where they may.

Until October 16, 2006, I was completely, unshakably convinced I would never die — honestly, hand to Heaven, absolutely no joke.

Not only was I certain I would never die, I was JUST as certain Mama, Papa John, and many of my believing friends and family would never taste death either. Standing in front of Papa John’s casket in a driving rain on October 18, 2006 but a huge crack in my uncrackable faith; standing in front of my Mama’s casket on a beautiful, crisp spring morning seventeen months ago shattered it altogether. I am mortal, Budge is mortal, and all my friends I never expected to see buried are mortal.

The reason for my crystal clarity on the matter of my de facto immortality is twofold and one of those reasons I am not prepared to discuss, and may never discuss here or anywhere else, but the second suffices — Mama raised me believing and expecting the Rapture of the Church. Quite simply, Papa, Mama, and I were never going to die because we — and all other believers — were going to be taken up bodily to Heaven to ride out the coming Great Tribulation before our return with Jesus Christ as part of Heaven’s army at the climactic moment of the Battle of Armageddon. I wasn’t going to die. I was going to watch Jesus deal a death-blow to the Antichrist and usher in the Millennial Reign of Christ on Earth.

At one time, I was just as unshakably certain of this as I am now that the Sun will rise in the east and set in the west tomorrow. That is to say, I took it as a matter of course. I couldn’t get my mind around how anyone WOULDN’T believe Jesus was going to take His Church at any second. Then the massively successful Left Behind series of 16 novels came out and all of a sudden, people were talking about what I had believed for certain all my life on Oprah and the Today Show with Katie Couric. The Last Days were the hottest topic of conversation around for a while. Those books closely mirror what I learned as a child and what my own Bible study convinced me of further as an adult.

This series is pretty close to the doctrine I learned growing up.

Then Papa died. Then Mama died. I wasn’t crystal clear on ANYTHING anymore, much less the imminent return of Jesus. Those were black, black days and their shadow and chill haven’t completely left me even now. Some days even now, it’s all I can do to hold on to ANY faith in anything.

I didn’t think about the Rapture anymore. The church I attend now does not stress or teach on the Last Days because our two teaching pastors are diametrically opposed to each other in their views on eschatology (fancy word for “study of the last thing). Good, conservative thinking, Bible-believing Christian people have several opinions on the matter. It’s a big deal and when I was younger, I studied it religiously (no pun intended). I devoured every book on end times I could find and believe me, there’s a lot written. Then, I just stopped because it didn’t seem important anymore with Papa, and especially Mama, dead.

This evening, however, Budge found and read an article to me with the headline “Billy Graham Sounds Alarm for Second Coming.” That got my attention because Reverend Billy Graham is the real deal. The man is 95 years old; he’s been preaching crusades across the world for over SEVENTY YEARS — and his televised crusades were the ONLY thing Papa Wham would switch a Braves game for — in all that time no one has dug up the first speck of dirt on him and don’t think they haven’t tried. No women, no drug use, no money schemes, NOTHING. Seventy years and he’s squeaky clean.

The article took me aback because in all the years I’ve listened to Dr. Graham speak and preach, I’ve never known him to weigh in on End Times. I figured he probably had solid beliefs, but his message was always more about getting people saved than about a heavy theological topic like eschatology. He never mentions it in either of his biographies or in any other writing I can find he’s done. So what? Well, he’s 95 and preachers with that many miles on them don’t usually start making up stuff. If HE is seeing clear signs of the end of days enough that he wants to go on record about it, maybe it’s time to look around a little.

I’m going to set this plane down now by saying I know this isn’t one of my better pieces, but quite honestly, looking at current events and reading the Bible and listening to what other people are saying . . . well, I can’t help but wonder. Most of the major end time prophecies and theories revolve around the Middle East, specifically Israel. In fact, a great many prophecy scholars point to May 15, 1948 as the moment the End Time clock started ticking — Israel, after 2000 years of wandering, became a nation again and with the way Syria is going . . . and Russia (yes, I know Russia isn’t in the Middle East, but Google “Gog and Magog) and things just start looking, I don’t know . . . plausible?

Anyway, I Love y’all, and keep those feet clean!

 

 

Tommy John Is Not a Doctor!

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Dr. Frank Jobe  1925-2014 The Surgeon

Dr. Frank Jobe
1925-2014
The Surgeon

I was reading through the sports pages on MSN today and amidst all the bracketology talk and bubble predictions about the upcoming NCAA tournament, I saw an article stating Frank Wilson Jobe had passed away March 6th at the age of 88. I figure only the most diehard baseball fans would know that name, but Frank Jobe, in my opinion, should go into the Baseball Hall of Fame on a special ballot even though he never played baseball at any level, never threw a pitch, or fielded a grounder. Instead, DOCTOR Frank Jobe developed a procedure which altered the way injured pitchers looked at their futures and to date has saved the careers of some of baseball’s most noted pitchers including players like Chris Carpenter, John Smoltz, Ben Sheets, and quite recently Stephen Strasbourg. The procedure is properly termed “ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction” but baseball fans everywhere refer to it by the name of its first recipient — then Los Angeles Dodgers left-handed pitcher Tommy John.

Tommy John was a pitching star in the Dodger organization when he blew his elbow out in 1974. At that time, John’s injury was considered career ending. In fact, the fantastic career of another Dodger – legendary Sandy Koufax – had been truncated in 1966 by the same injury John was facing. Tommy John, however, refused to accept such a bleak diagnosis and approached the team’s orthopedist, Dr. Jobe, about ANY possible fixes. Dr. Jobe had a colleague who had used ligament harvesting to treat polio patients’ paralysis and the two doctors mulled over the idea of using a similar technique to replace the ruined ligaments in John’s throwing elbow. From the start, Dr. Jobe was bluntly honest with Tommy John. In an interview I heard on ESPN radio Tommy John recalled, “I asked Dr. Jobe what would happen if I didn’t have the surgery and he said, ‘You’ll never pitch major league baseball again.’ So I asked him what would happen if I did have the surgery and he said, ‘You’ll PROBABLY never pitch major league baseball again.'”

The Guinea Pig Tommy John in 1975,  his rehab year.

The Guinea Pig
Tommy John in 1975,
his rehab year.

But the surgery was a success beyond anything Dr. Jobe could have hoped for. After a complete year of rehabilitation – a practice still followed today — Tommy John returned for the 1976 season and went 10 – 10, which was considered completely miraculous at the time. He also showcased the durability of the reconstruction by pitching fourteen more seasons before he finally retired in 1989. Today, estimates vary, but most hover at around one-third of all major league pitchers have (or will have) some degree of Tommy John Surgery. Thanks to a pitcher who wasn’t ready to throw in the towel and a doctor who was willing to try something entirely untested to put him back on the mound, a blown out pitching elbow no longer means an end to a career, but for many pitchers – the original recipient among them – it signals the beginning of even better performance.

Hopefully, Cooperstown will think the same way I do and eventually, Dr. Frank Jobe will have a bronze bust in the special wing of the Hall of Fame to honor the man whose procedure saved the careers of nearly 100 major league pitching stars even if the non-baseball public continues to think Tommy John was the surgeon and not the patient!

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

Cauliflowers to Canteloupes

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Michael-Sam-Jason-CollinsTwo days ago, Jason Collins became the first openly gay player to participate in an NBA basketball game. Michael Sams, a linebacker from the University of Missouri, stands to become the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team at some point during the upcoming Draft. Both of these men are obviously making waves in their respective sports and driving conversation throughout the country about civil rights, inclusion, and tolerance in locker rooms and beyond. Collins’ and Sams’ sagas are a mirror of the current state of American society. Seventeen states have already legalized same-sex marriage and others have legislation pending. No doubt the times they are a changin’ to quote Dylan.

That’s great. I don’t have a problem with same-sex marriages or gay players in pro sports (or college, high school, rec leagues, and intramural), or two guys holding hands or two girls kissing. Live your life as you want to live it. I take flack from some devout Christian friends, but I’m okay with that. My religious views and views on civil rights do not interfere with each other. In many ways, I have a “wall of separation” between my religion and my politics.  Having said all that, I do have one serious problem with the rash of Sam and Collins supporters — especially sportswriters and sports announcers who should know better — I’m tired of hearing these two guys compared to Jackie Robinson. Let me be clear, what Sam and Collins are doing is vitally important, but THEY ARE NOT JACKIE ROBINSON and putting them with Jackie is comparing cauliflowers with cantaloupes.

First off, neither is the talent Robinson was. Collins is an eight-team journeyman player who had been out of basketball nearly a year before the also-ran Brooklyn Nets signed him to a ten-day contract. Sam is an unknown commodity yet to play in the NFL, but it’s not like he set the world on fire at Mizzou. Jackie Robinson was a six-time All-Star. He was the Major League Rookie of the Year in 1947. He won the 1949 batting title and was twice the stolen bases champion. Doesn’t matter that he broke the color barrier as well — he had the goods on the field too.  Jackie broke the color barrier, not because he was a black player, but because he was the BEST black player. He might have been many things, but Jackie Robinson wasn’t a gimmick. I may be proven wrong, but neither Collins nor Sam is likely to have their jersey number retired by an entire league.

Secondly, neither Sam nor Collins have had to endure ANYTHING approaching the abuse Robinson faced in his early MLB career and they NEVER will. It’s a different country now and people would go to jail for Federal hate crimes if they talked the way crowds spoke to Robinson. When Sam takes the field for whatever team drafts him, no one — especially an opposing manager — is going to yell out “Faggot! Get back to the gay clubs,” but a Philadelphia Phillie manager screamed at Jackie to “get [his] nigger ass back to the cotton fields!” Any team Sam or Collins plays for will not have to choose between sleeping in a hotel without them or sleeping as a team on the bus with them the way the Brooklyn Dodgers sometimes had to choose on their road trips. Perhaps people’s feelings about those who are different from them haven’t changed, but today’s bigots can’t hide behind badges and laws  . . . at least in America — in Uganda or Saudi Arabia, you’ll have to take your chances.

Also, a rabid bigot may see gays and lesbians everywhere, but demographic experts put the HIGHEST number of gays at 10% of the American population while a reputable Gay and Lesbian think tank put the numbers between 5% to 8%. By contrast, 15% of Americans are Black and that doesn’t include the further people the census say identify as “other race.” Sam and Collins are representing a sometimes vocal community, but Jackie Robinson had the hopes of an entire PEOPLE on his broad shoulders, and those people were in constant danger just for being themselves. According to the Tuskegee Law Institute, 3445 black men were lynched —  murdered without trial — in the United States from 1882-1968. 240px-JrobinsonSure, gay people have endured violence, but nowhere near the scale black people faced. A black child could be murdered WITHOUT PENALTY in parts of the US as late as the 1950s just for “talking fresh” to a white woman. Don’t think so? Google Emmitt Till. That is the kind of vitriol Jackie Robinson faced when he was out on the playing field.

Finally, and this won’t be popular, but all Sam and Collins had to do to live quiet normal lives was simply to keep their mouths shut. They chose to come out; no one twisted their arms. I realize no one should have to hide being gay to play his chosen sport much less live a regular life. I agree, I understand the argument, and sooner or later it’s not going to be that way, but the fact remains, a gay person can hide being gay, but a black person has ZERO chance of hiding being black. People are arguing both ways about homosexuality — is it birth or is it choice? The jury may be out on what makes people gay, but no one is debating what makes a person black. White people are born white; black people are born BLACK. You have more chance of hiding a golf ball in a glass of spring water than being a “closeted black man.”

So, Michael Sam and Jason Collins are definitely moving the conversation on equality of sexuality in this country forward, but to put them into the same mold of Number 42 is a poor comparison at best and cauliflowers to cantaloupes at worst.

Hope I didn’t make anyone too mad, but if I did, it’s like a bridge . . . you’ll get over it. In any event, love y’all and keep those feet clean.