Saturday, January 31, 2009

If the GOP Thinks Palin is the Answer, What's the Question?

Say it isn’t so! It’s hard to watch any news channel recently without Sarah Palin getting some coverage.


If she had something to say, that would be one thing, but most of it consists of a lot of whining about how horribly she was treated during her candidacy for Vice President. There’s no question some press coverage, especially in the entertainment and tabloid media, was vicious, false, and totally uncalled for. The rumors about her son, her daughter’s pregnancy and other vulgar insinuations were completely out-of-bounds and it is appalling the extent to which the mainstream media tolerated it.

Does Ms. Palin have a grievance? Of course she does, but how she handles it also matters for it reflects whether or not she has the right chemistry to be an effective leader.

An effective leader needs to know how to stay above the fray and to recognize what the fray is and what sources of conflict require engagement. While it would have been appropriate for her to acknowledge that some media coverage was very hurtful for her family and her to endure, she needed to say a few words and then move past it not to dwell on it. A good piece of wisdom is, “Never argue with an idiot. They’ll bring you down to their level and beat you with experience every time.”

The true story of Sarah Palin is that she lacked the maturity, experience, and intellect to deal with the legitimate media altogether and she made herself look ridiculous not the interviewers who she feels were too harsh on her. Katy Couric is capable of being much tougher than she was with Ms. Palin. In fact, on balance, as biased as the media was favoring the Obama campaign, they weren’t particularly nasty with Ms. Palin. If she had anything important to say, she would have gotten some measure of coverage. The only really idiotic question asked of her was her opinion of the “Bush Doctrine.” The so-called Bush Doctrine was the construction of the elite Washington Media, the kinds of chatterers who dominate the Sunday morning news programs that evolved to mean different things as President Bush’s foreign policy objectives changed over time. President Bush never identified anything as specifically being his doctrine of foreign policy, middle east engagement or anything like that. Ms. Palin’s fumbling with that concept only showed that she did not tune in to the “inside the Beltway” chit-chat which is its own world with its own language. Quite possibly, a good measure of her appeal was that she was not a part of that world, but it was also one of her weaknesses.

The more one hears Sarah Palin, the more one-dimensional and totally unsuited for higher office she becomes. Yes, she seems to be a good person though obviously pretty full of herself. It was surely a moral and brave decision to continue her pregnancy when she knew her child would have Downs’ Syndrome. She is a good roll model for post-feminist America where family responsibilities can be restructured by mutual agreement of both spouses so the necessary family duties are fulfilled but both spouses are free to pursue their lives, personally and professionally, to its fullest.

What Sarah Palin lacks, besides experience, is intellect. The more she is interviewed, the more she reveals there is not much of a deliberative process at work. She’s good with some facts and figures, but to analyze and synthesize the broader picture and to see things in a meaningful context is beyond her intellectual grasp. She is a high energy person who works very hard, but in the great beehive of political activity, she is much more the worker bee not the queen bee.

Why does she give the impression that she is owed some higher honors as some kind of entitlement as a result of how she was wronged during the 2008 election?

Make no mistake about it, the McCain organization handled her poorly. They had no sense of how to maximize her good qualities and reduce her negatives, but what else is new? The McCain campaign was one of the biggest political disasters in Post World War Two politics. What is really remarkable is that he didn’t lose by a much wider margin as the campaign never established a unifying message and refused to play hardball in an effective manner on the myriad of conspicuous liabilities that made Barack Obama totally unsuited to be President of the United States. They refused to deal with the Jeremiah Wright fiasco and only brought in the issue of Bill Ayers after the media more or less forced it one them. They never had anything compelling to say about Obama’s lack of experience and horrible extreme left wing influences and associates.

Against this backdrop of an incompetent organization, and quite likely, the Palin appointment was yet another manifestation of this incompetence, defining Sarah Palin as one heart beat away from the President became a difficult task. As only a recently elected governor of Alaska having little long term political grooming, they absolutely obliterated their biggest advantage against Obama: experience. Sure, the comparison of the Presidential candidate to the Vice Presidential Candidate is not a direct correlation. However, did the voters not have in the back of their minds that John McCain was the oldest man ever to run for President and had previously been stricken with cancer?

Rightly or wrongly, it was easier to think of Palin being a Vice President who’d have a much greater chance of becoming President than Obama’s veep selection, or the Presidencies of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or George H.W. Bush for whom age could not be made an issue.

To think of Buffy the Moose Killer as Madame President is a horrifying thought. Her casual language of never pronouncing an “ing” along with all the “didja’s, won’t cha’s, and gonna’s” surely made her seem lacking in any kind of prep school or collegiate grooming expected of the managerial class. Yet she never had the gravitas and character to be a modern day folk hero who could get away with it.

Even conservative commentators pointed out her total lack of intellectual curiosity. She’s not a person who has any sense of nuance or subtly. She lives in a world of clear, literal answers, yes and no questions, and crudely defined, intellectually detached notions of right and wrong.

So now she has thrust upon us “Sarah PAC,” the typical first move of someone wanting to run for the big prize, the Presidency. She’s making the rounds as if she is the new face of the Republican Party, and unless the GOP can come up with some new faces, she will win that honor by default. Clearly, John McCain, by losing the election and being so quick to ally with Democrats on the Senate floor cannot claim that honor. There are plenty of Republicans who have scores to settle with the Arizona Senator for not supporting them in their fall election campaigns under his false hope along with Sarah Palin who played into the same mantra to be more of an independent candidate.

Give Sarah Palin credit for being a hard worker, but the more we see her, the less we like her as her limitations become more and more apparent with each engagement. From her nomination until election day, what we did not see was any evidence of growth on the campaign trail. Her greatest performance was her convention speech. The best she had to offer hence was essentially mini-encores of that speech. She has a lot of learning to do and needs to amass some very serious experience if she is to have any hopes of being a Presidential candidate or even a good Vice Presidential candidate. Hard work and experience will only get someone so far if the person in question lacks the true intellect and judgment to be an effective leader in the first place. Clearly, Ms. Palin lacks the depth and gravitas to be taken seriously.

In her own words:

On “Roe b. Wade”

"Well, let's see. There's ― of course in the great history of America there have been rulings that there's never going to be absolute consensus by every American, and there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So, you know, going through the history of America, there would be others but ―"

October 1, 2008: Interview with Katy Couric

On the Vice President’s Role in the Senate, Badly Mistaken

"[T]hey're in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom."

October 21, 2008, KUSA, Denver, Colorado, TV interview

Okay, This was a long time ago, but… (DUH!!!!)

"I don't believe in interracial relationships, I was born in Idaho and raised to believe
that whites and blacks shouldn't mix or date each other"


Were There Dinosaurs in Alaska?

"I want creationism as the only theory taught in our schools"

Yeow, What is Her Middle Name?

"He can say he is a Christian but as far as I'm concerned, Obama is a Muslim, look at
his middle name"


Hmm, Has She Ever Looked at a World Map?

“They are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan.”

Fundraiser, San Francisco, October 5, 2008.

Would "Universal Eye Care" Help the Blinking Problem?

“I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink.”

ABC interview September 2008.

Omnipotent Mayor?

“I'm the mayor, I can do whatever I want until the courts tell me I can't.”

As quoted Former City Council Member Nick Carney in response to his questioning her on the lavish renovation of the Wasilla mayor’s office.

Keen Insight on Foreign Affairs

“I don't know a lot about Iran, I just heard that they are bad people"


Bruce Springsteen is Boss, but...

… he’s also an asshole. Should we be surprised?

Hell no! We’ve all had bosses who are assholes. How often have we suffered with a boss who thinks he’s the center of the universe as if all would stop moving if it weren’t for him. Likewise, think of the boss who seems to fall in love with the sound of his own voice as if every word he says is important. We’ve all had bosses like that. Bosses talk the talk about how great their support workers are, but in truth, many of them will use them and get rid of them as they see fit not always in keeping with what’s best for the company. The asshole boss often has opinions on everything and many of them don’t have anything to do with the job at hand, but he sure wants you to know what they are even if he’s terribly misinformed. The asshole boss casts himself as a larger than life figure, might even have a coffee cup with his name and title on it or his initials monogrammed on the sleeves or pocket of his dress shirts, all signs of extreme vanity where a little bit of status and success goes right to their big heads.

Can you see some parallels between the boss from hell and Bruce? Hell yeh! Look at Springsteen’s involvement in politics especially during the last two Presidential campaigns but really this goes all the way back to his disdain for Ronald Reagan. How shamefully “The Boss” has become the virtual spokesman for organizations like “” the radical left, the lunatic fringe of the Democratic party. Listen to him speak out on political issues and imploring his loyal minion of fans to support the candidates of his choice. He speaks so sanctimoniously with such pioused conviction while presenting such an air of condescension toward anyone who would dare believe in anything other than the cause, it’s hard not to see a narcissistic asshole in full glory. His gestures and tone of voice sound as if his words are divine edicts not just one man’s opinion as if he has any real inside knowledge of what makes this society tick. In his case, that would be highly doubtful.

Does Bruce Springsteen have any idea the extent to which he is alienating many of his fans and does he really care?

He seemed to trash his working class roots after the success of “Born in the USA” afforded him legend status in 1984. Quickly, he was off to Hollywood with his trophy bride, Julianne Phillips, ready to sit poolside in Beverly Hills and Malibu with Hollywood’s elite, and it sure wore off on him. The E Street Band who had labored slavishly to put him on the top were suddenly expendable except for the newly acquired red-headed backup singer who quickly became his bride. Gone were Little Steven, Clarence Clemons, and all but pianist, Roy Bittan, as “Lucky Town” and “Human Touch,” two separate albums released on the same day, failed to impress even some of the most loyal fans. His return to New Jersey went largely unnoticed as the last decade of the 20th century would not prove kind to the boss’s fortunes.

He’d alienate many fans with the release of “Streets of Philadelphia” a mournful tune used as the them song about a poor soul, a gay attorney, who died from AIDS. While we absolutely do not condemn his sympathies in supporting this film, others saw otherwise. His blue collar base is also decidedly anti-gay, and surely “the Boss” couldn’t raise the consciousness of such folks. It would have been nice if he could have.

While the 90’s would prove to be the decade creativity and spirit seemed to have died in pop music where the music industry became largely reduced to four mega record companies, where the industry’s model seemed to follow that of McDonalds, making pop music into junk food, bland, consistent, and not very good for you, Bruce did little to serve up any recipes for something better. In fact for most of the decade, his presence was noticeably absent. His attempt to reinvent himself as the reincarnation of Woody Guthrie on the album, “The Ghost of Tom Joad, 1995, failed to create much interest at all.

The Boss would be asleep at his desk with the door closed for most of the rest of the decade only issuing a massive four C-D boxed set of outtakes, unreleased material, and alternate versions, a treat to his real fans but a “you got to be kidding!” to the broader public.

The new millennium roared in with good news and bad news for Bruce Springsteen. The good news was reuniting the “E Street Band” and hitting the road, the bad news was a terrible song which made “The Boss” a disgraced enemy those he insulted viciously with the release and performance of “American Skin (41 Shots)” where Springsteen points the finger at the New York City Police for the tragic accidental shooting death ofAmadou Diallo. Not only did Springsteen stick it to the NYPD, he also helped create a picture that to be an immigrant in America is to be exploited. The inferences are clear, as best expressed by the following (not to mention the line “41 shots” is repeated forty-five times in the song).

It ain't no secret (it ain't no secret)
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in your American skin

(41 shots)
(41 shots)
(41 shots)
(41 shots)

The city of New York was understandably divided over this tragic event. There was no question Amadou Diallo was an innocent man, but his horrible death was not a case of police genocide. It was an irreversible dreadful mistake that shook the ranks of the NYPD to its roots with shame and sorrow. These were not renegade officers. They were scared and maybe a little paranoid creating a lethal mindset when feeling threatened by the likes of a black man who might have been slow to respond for lack of his mastery of English. Regardless of what Springsteen intended, he poured salt on an open wound making a hurtful event in America’s largest city a world-wide scandal.

After the horrors of 9/11, Bruce Springsteen was the first major artist to offer an album influenced by the murderous disaster. “The Rising” offers many insightful songs of heeling and loss, in most respects, a perfect album for its time.

For all the good Springsteen did with his glorious album, when it was time to make sure another 9/11 would never happen again and our country faced the difficult consequences of the war on terror, the Asshole Boss was back in full glory. Rather than supporting our troops or the war effort to make sure another 9/11 could never happen, Springsteen swung to the hard left becoming part of the chattering bobbleheads reciting the anti-American mantra of the hard left.

Has Bruce Springsteen ever come across as more sanctimonious or over-dosing more on his sense of self-importance than performing “The Rising” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a gospel choir dressed in burgundy right behind him as part of the huge Obama inaugural celebration, a historic occasion to be sure, but also pocked with the incivility and dishonorable behavior of thousands who taunted the departing President and Vice President and their spouses even mocking and laughing at Vice President Chaney who was confined to a wheelchair for sustaining a back injury while moving out of the Vice Presidential mansion. While Springsteen did not instigate this disgraceful behavior, his attitude of self-righteousness surely helped fuel it.

So now “The Boss” has a new album out, perhaps the first major release in the new era of Obama-Nation, “Working on a Dream.” Loyal fans will find it a good listen for several plays giving a little refresh to their Springsteen collection before the novelty wears off and they return to the established classics like “Born to Run” and “The River.” For the rest of us, it’s a largely forgettable product as have been most of Springsteen’s albums since “Tunnel of Love.”

Bruce Springsteen surely deserves tremendous acclaim as part of the incredible wave of pop music that started with Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and Rolling Stones and concluded with the rise of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and John Mellencamp. Springsteen’s music attempted to wed the lyrical magic of Bob Dylan with the showmanship and energy of the Rolling Stones. At his best, Springsteen succeeded brilliantly, but sadly paying the cost to be the boss has been a very expensive proposition for Bruce Springsteen. It appears to this listener, somewhere along the road, he sold his soul, the spirit that made “Born in the USA” such a breakthrough album, to be firmly established as “the Boss” of Pop Music.

While Springsteen might be the Boss, he will never surpass the feats of another New Jersey titan, who will forever be Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra. Bruce Springsteen has a long way to go before coming close to measuring up to his fellow Jersey dignitary.

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Get Your Goat" Takes On New Meaning in Africa

Here's a story from Nigeria that's just too good not to forward. Remember, according to legend the New Messiah, Barack Obama, is the son of a goat farmer. Surely, the United Nations Human Rights Commssion, Amnesty International, PETA, the ASFPCA, and Hilary Clnton's State Department must investgate this. The implications, if true are staggerng.

Stevie Ncks fans, hmm, there's a "South Park" episode involving Ms. Nicks and a goat that might come into play here too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Geithner Matter: Poor Reflection on Obama's Personnel Choices

The Rubber Stamp Senate: So Much For Oversight

File this under one of many articles we’ve written, WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE?

The Democratic Party led Senate Finance Committee has recommended Ted Geithner to be Secretary of the Senate with only a couple of Republican Senators raising much of an inquiry at all to this figure’s despicable conduct playing loose and dirty with his taxes and hiring a domestic worker for whom the proper taxes were not deducted.

Bill Clinton lost two nominees, Kimber Wood and Zoe Baird while George W. Bush lost Linda Chavez for the same “Nanny-gate” issues using the inside the Beltway jargon. If that alone was enough to disqualify these appointments, how can Geithner possibly slide in given his failure to pay taxes over a four year period.

How a person who will oversee the treasury and the disbursement of funds targeted to struggling businesses can possibly be seen fit for the job over what he called “careless mistakes” and blamed on using “Turbo-Tax” to compute his taxes. His liability is at least $34,000 in money due the government.

To his credit, Arizona senator, Jon Kyl grilled the nominee aggressively demanding answers and refusing to accept the usual parsing the truth and flimsy excuses. Sadly, Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican, acknowledged the dilemma of Geithner’s misconduct but seemed way too enamored of his possible talent for the job. If there was every an issue for which the Republican had good reason to flex some muscle this would be it. The Democrats surely derailed many Republican nominees on much lesser concerns which often smacked of political disagreement and little more not something of substance such as a candidate for a cabinet post who could not take responsibility for his taxes and a personal hire.

It’s nothing new for the Democrats to be two-faced liars. It’s the way they’ve done business for over a generation. While President Barack Obama speaks of lofty new ethical requirements including his new rules for hiring lobbyists and where his talent can work for the balance of his administration should they leave his administration, what are they doing that really has any substance? For starters, the restrictions on lobbyists could surely serve to limit the talent willing to work for the administration and some would be excluded up front. We can look at the career of Secretary Diane Auer Jones, one of the most honest and ethical people in Washington, a talent like hers would not have been appointed nor would she have been able to accept the position she accepted upon leaving her Assistant Secretary post at the Department of Education. Of course it will be interesting to see what people Obama considers lobbyists as opposed to being “activists.” Those with corporate or big institution connections would surely be lobbyists, but what of political action groups and labor unions?

That someone who has engaged in misconduct at Ted Geithner has clearly shows actions speak louder than words. There is no talent so unique and vital at time like this that there isn’t someone very qualified to run the Treasury Department who doesn’t carry Mr. Geithner’s baggage. We should also be suspicious of the Obama’s team’s vetting process for issues like this to slip through the cracks.

Undoubtly, the Senate will rubber stamp this nomination when it comes to the floor for a vote. We will be watching to see how spineless the Republicans are in dealing with this matter. Want to bet many of them will vote for confirmation?
Failure to pay $34,023 in Federal taxes, so should a man who can't keep his own taxes in order supervise the IRS?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dutch Conservative Changed for Making Anti-Islamic Comments

Here's an article from the AP wires that is frightening. A dutch Freedom Party member, Geert Wilders, made a film critical of Islam equating their behavior with fascism and comparing The Koran to Adolph Hilter's Mein Kampf. While it would be terribly wrong to indict all followers of Islam, the free discussion and criticism of Islamic culture is warranted as the Islamic Terrorist Movement is possibly the world's greatest security threat and has resulted in the death of tens of thousands innocent people around the world.

It is particularly ironic that just a few headlines later was an article about the edict from Melborne, Australia. His statements are not surprising for Islam, but sure seems weird coming from Australia. According to this cleric, it is perfectly okay for a man to beat his wife for disobedience and it is also okay to force his wife to have sex with him. In the Islamic world that's okay. In the civilized world, that's called RAPE. Okay, the knee-jerk reaction from liberals is that this is just one out of context event; however, through out the Islamic world, law establishes women as having less legal protection than men. Arranged marriages are the norm. In moderate Islamic countries, ladies must cover their hair. A little less moderate countries women must cover all but their eyes. Some are required to wear all black. Some even are required to wear burkas. The punishment for dress code violations -- beatings, stonings, or even worse. As the great 20th Century American philosopher, Casey Stengel noted, "You can look it up!",27574,24946317-1243,00.html

Make no mistake about it, the historic figure of Mohammed is no nice guy. Read biographical information about him written by Muslim scholars themselves and see what his story is all about. He was no Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gandhi, or Zen Master. He was a fierce warrior and polygamist.

While anyone can take passages out of the writings of any religion and find justification for cruel behavior, one would have to be totally ignorant in reading The Bible and not seeing a lot of heart and humanity. Whether it's the notion of turning the other cheek or the tale of the good samaritan, the scripture is full of tales of good deeds and compassion. One would not get the same warm feelings from reading the Koran as it explicitly condemns nonbelievers and speaks frequently of harsh punishment for those who do not submit to Allah. Afterall, the literal meaning of Moslem is "one who submits."

Political correctness is far more evil than the kinds of injustices it attempts to address. One person's hate speech is another person's declaration of protest. While bigotry, racism, and religious intolerance should not be tolerated, criminalizing such expression is more dangerous if for no other reason who draws the line between that which is free speech and that which crosses the line. While we know one should be punished for yelling "fire" in a a theater, even some of the most vile and hateful speech is better expressed and subsequently criticized than being pent up to find more perverse means of expression.

How quickly people forget, the flip side of free speech is that a person is responsible for the words he or she speaks. We are all compelled to speak out against those who speak hate, lie, and distort the truth.

Sadly, in Islamic culture such protest is not permitted. Speaking the truth even if it goes slightly against the prevailing established view can result in death or mutilation. Sadly, as the article link above shows, the Netherlands have taken one step in that direction.

We maintain at heart, the book of Islam is flawed scripture and that Mohammed, in Christian terms, should be considered a false prophet. As politically incorrect as those words are to some, we are not only asserting our first amendment right to free speech, but we are further speaking the truth not from a devote Christian point-of-view, but from a historical and objective perspective.

Western citizens should be skeptical and inquisitive when examining the world of Islam. Clearly, not all religions preach the same message. While it is unholy for "infidels" to read The Koran, we should take the time to learn about the history of Mohammed and see exactly what their holy book says. Its words are being used to justify genocide. Why?


The Idiot Left Doing What It Does Best

Here's to every last worthless idiot who booed and taunted President Bush, mocked and laughed at Vice Present Chaney, and every showed disrespect for two fine American ladies, Laura Bush and Lynne Chaney. There is no excuse for their disrespect, contempt, and lack of civility. The ceremony itself should be above political theater. It's a part of what makes our crazy civilization work. That anyone would think chanting, "Na-na-na-na, Na-na-na-na, hey-hey-hey, GOODBYE" is an acceptable public expression toward an outgoing President during his successors' inauguration shows just how low the moral fabric and sense of what our democracy is all about.

Agree or disagree with them politically, that's fair, but to taunt and mock anybody in public is the behavior of moronic savages. An inauguration is not a sporting event, "American Idol," or a pro-wrestling match. We should endeavor to treat others the way we would want to be treated. Surely this is the way both the Bush's and Chaney's conducted themselves.

Almost as disturbing, while this hooligan idiotic behavior was taking place, why weren't other members of the audience seen trying to "shush" these loathsome idiots?

That our country has become so tolerant of misbehavior and is so quick to look the other way in the presence of antisocial behavior as we watched in horror as an elderly man was struck by a speeding motorist in broad daylight with plenty of onlookers who continued to just go about their business in New Jersey last summer.

In a broader context, we are all swimming in the cesspool of moronic conduct we have helped create if by no other means than our passive consent.

Damn these petty fools. May they pray that others treat them with more respect than they've shown four fine Americans who have given their service to help make our lives better. Never has there been so much emphasis on helping deal with the AIDS crisis in Africa, as just one for instance. Laura Bush's contributions are many, but she seeks and gets little recognition for it. Lynne Chaney is a tremendous advocate of education and teaching American history. Again, she approaches it in a very low key fashion.

What kind of society is ours in 2009 anyway?

Watch this video clip and think how nice it would be to spray these assholes with some really powerful mace and pepper spray. The scum.

Free speech has its limits and while perhaps these damned fools are free to express themselves in all appropriate public venues, interupting and acting disrespectfully during a solemn cermony that is the essence of the workings of our Democracy is way over the line. They are partners with those jerks from the Westboro Baptist Church, perhaps the lowest scum of those who protest with no sense of propriety, who taunt and ridicule grieving families of fallen soldiers with their "God hates fags" fascism. While perhaps such fools should not be arrested, they should at least be removed from the event. There's a fine line between open public expression such as a demonstration and behavior that is clearly illegal like the Code Pink knuckleheads who work their way into hearings and speeches on Capitol Hill and engage in their silly thoughless petty rituals. This is part of the same thug intolerant mentality on many college campuses where speakers whose views offend the leftist orthodoxy are harassed, assaulted, and bullied ultimately often being denied their opportunity for their free expression. Hello Columbia University! Even Hilary Clinton got a taste of such during her campaign for President. Denying others their opportunity to speak by yelling, screaming, and disrupting is not an expression of free speech. It is the behavior of absolute morons.

Anyone who participated in this nonsense is an idiot, a pathetic ignorant fool, or both. Given many of them are no doubt a product of modern American public education should be no surprise where American history and civics has been reduced to the tales of America the wicked and tales of the government system as a place to gain entitlements and to hit the jackpot if one has a grievance that can be resolved by litigation.

Protest works when it raises consciousness. When it just serves to show how pissed off some folks are with their grievances usually accomplishes little more than giving juicy fodder for their opponents.

While we are distressed by the outrageous behavior of some and condemn their lack of common decency, we also recognize that there are many forms of public expression we find hard to tolerate, but the alternative, silencing them, is far worse.

Here are the limits:

1-Protesters do not have the right to interupt meetings and shout down speakers. It is not exercising free speech to invade others excercising their right to assembly and their free speech. Surrounding the event with pickets and having counter presentations is acceptable. The actions of those from Code Pink who have interupted meetings and addresses on Capitol Hill can not be tolerated nor can those who disrupt planned events such as speaking engagements on college campuses.

2-Disrupting funerals and taunting families of fallen soldiers While some lawyers can argue they are practicing their first amendment rights regarding free expression of their religious beliefs and free speech, there are times that simple common sense trumps technicalities.

3-Attempts to intimidate or coerce others for their political or religious beliefs or because of their own political or relgious beliefs is not acceptable.

4-People have the right to be secure in their persons and this includes not being taunted by others in inappropriate ways.

Surely some levels of protest today is a far cry from how Martin Luther King and the vast majority of anti-Vietnam war activists conducted themselves. There was a lunatic fringe back then too, but it seems like today they are tolerated or even saluted by the infotainment world.

Monday, January 19, 2009

President Bush Pardons Few in Final Hours

Pardon Me!

We applaud President Bush for not issuing a raft of last minute pardons as has been a building tradition in recent administrations. The pardons granted by George W. Bush are far less than half those granted by Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan on their departure from office.

Is it possible that Clinton’s pardon of crooked financier, Mark Rich, as well as members of a Puerto Rican terrorist gang, actions which are subjecting Barack Obama’s nominee for Attorney General, William Holder, to much scrutiny since he dig much of the legal legwork to enable Clinton to rush these pardons through, could have muddied the public’s confidence in the pardoning process thus making President Bush extra cautious not to do anything that could be seen in the same light? Could it be that the President is simply being consistent with his behavior through out his political career believing in the legal process and the rule of law not wanting to grant any special considerations that would override the intent of judges and juries who passed judgment on possible candidates for pardon?

Some expected that Bush might pardon Scooter Libby. He did not having earlier commuted his sentence. Likewise there was a huge uproar particularly among the conservative talk show community demanding pardons of border agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean who shot and wounded a border suspect who later proved to be a drug dealer. While the shooting victim was a lowly slug, the kind of criminal who makes the southwestern border issue a rallying point for many as the Mexican Border a porous boundary of little consequence allowing infidels and insurgents to freely crawl into America along with those who are simply in search of a better standard of living, nevertheless, these agents were tried and found guilty of unlawful conduct including trying to cover up their deeds involved in the shooting. While we applaud forceful and assertive action dealing with criminals who pass into the United States, we do not condone enforcement agents who act above the law, in essence acting as prosecutor, judge, jury, and possibly executioner with guns by their sides. President Bush acknowledged these agents were guilty of a crime but also, on compassionate grounds, felt they had paid their debts for their conduct, and while not granting them full pardons, commuted their sentences so they could return to their families and attempt to put their lives back together.

We applaud President Bush for not giving into political pressure or other influences to use the pardon process as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for those who have not served their time but had the support to utilize the political process to overturn the legal process.

Surely it would be out of character for President Bush to perform a necessary action much like Ford’s pardon of Vietnam Draft Resisters, and pardon every person rotting in jail for things as basic as simple marijuana possession. We continue to support emphatically the full legalization of marijuana, subjecting it to appropriate government standards, selling it legally, and taxing the hell out of it, taking a multi-billion dollar industry off the black market and putting it in the retail market where it belongs where it can generate tax revenue without taking any money away from citizens who need the money to make ends meet or the more fortunate whose money can be a vital part of growing the economy which would be taken out of the free enterprise system if seized by taxation.

Prohibition of alcohol provided nothing beyond the growth of organized crime, and while we look at the pardon of two border agents patrolling a leaking sieve through which much elicit drug traffic travels as a reminder that under the status quo, marijuana sales provide a huge cash cow for criminal elements who engage in far more evil deeds than selling a little reefer. The entire country of Mexico is corrupted by the organized crime behind the drug market holding towns, villages, and entire regions hostage to the evil grip of Mexicali drug lords.

What would be a greater contribution to our nation’s security than taking assertive measures that could help Mexico develop a thriving conventional economy and a political system rescued from the demonic grip of the drug cartel?

These are issues to be dealt with by future administrations. Right now, we applaud the efforts President Bush has made to keep integrity in our justice system above petty political considerations and some segments of public opinion.

Thank You, Ravens!!!

Quickly embraced as fans turned Whacko for Flacco, Baltimore's "Joe Cool" won over the city's sports fans wearing #5, a number distinguished by one of Baltimore's greatest legends, Brooks Robinson. May the young Flacco be blessed with good health and great performance so perhaps some day he could be mentioned in the same breath as Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, and Johnny Unitas.

The carriage turned back into a pumpkin just a few minutes too soon as the Baltimore Ravens amazing “Cinderella” season came to a painful loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers moving down the field just a Matt Stover field goal field goal away from a trip to their second Super Bowl. All hell broke lose in the final moments including a devastating turnover which left Ravens’ runner Willis Magahee lying motionless on the field for several minutes before being removed on a stretcher. It seems like the game was playing in reverse as so often Ed Reed would strike with the decisive interception that would break the back of the opponent, but there’s one other player lurking in the secondary who can turn lose ruination on the unsuspecting opposing offense, Troy Palamalo. Clearly, the Steelers were the stronger team on this frigid winter night in the Steel City, nevertheless, the Ravens were in a position to win deep into the fourth quarter perhaps due in part to sending Heinz Ward to the sidelines early in the first quarter after Ward was successful in achieving two first downs for Pittsburgh.

Congratulations to the Steelers. Though they have had their sloppy moments at times, when they won, they looked like the best team in the NFL. They might not play with the soldier like precision of the recent dominant New England Patriots teams nor does their offensive attack play with the smoothness and harmony of a Peyton Manning led attack in Indianapolis. Instead, the Steelers brawl with their opponents, and in most slug-outs they’re the bullies no one wants to face when something important is on the line.

Losing always hurts even when a team has overwhelmingly exceeded the loftiest expectations for the entire season. However, the Ravens entered the post season two years ago with the second best record in the AFC and tied for the second best record in the NFL overall, they looked wimpy and confused in playoff action against the Indianapolis Colts. Right out of training camp, the Ravens’ fortunes began to slip away with one key injury after another as Quarterback Steve McNair looked suddenly old and frail and Kyle Boller showed no growth from a year in apprenticeship under McNair eventually suffering an injury that would remove him from action at the end of the year. The losses mounted, and team unity fell apart where players appeared openly defiant of their coaches on the field as best witnessed by their meltdown against New England where they were poised to end New England’s perfect season but as the game slipped away in the final minutes, discipline totally broke down with insane penalties and little coordination on the field including many reserves called into action as many starters’ seasons were already finished. Owner Steve Bischiotti, despite earlier intentions, promptly fired head coach, Brian Billick looking for a assertive but fair coach who could restore discipline and a sense of team play which had eroded so miserably. Against that backdrop, Quarterback, Kyle Boller, became a scapegoat for many fans fearing the 2008 team would suffer through yet another attempt to try to get the struggling QB righted as a winning field general. Fans looked to Troy Smith who just completed his rookie year after winning a Heismann trophy for Ohio State and playing in national championship games. The Ravens appeared close to signing Dallas Cowboys’ offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett to replace Billick, but after visiting Baltimore amidst much media hoopla, Garrett declined the Ravens offer. While some more prominent names were mentioned, the Ravens hired John Harbaugh, brother of former Ravens and long time Chicago Bears’ QB, Jim Harbaugh and Special Teams Coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. While the Harbaugh name was familiar, his experience to become a head coach seemed like a bit of a gamble to many, but his straight forward and disciplined manner created a strong first impression. He was able to retain defensive coordinator, Rex Ryan, and brought Cam Cameron, architect of successful NFL offenses including building that of the San Diego Chargers, as offensive coordinator.

As the NFL draft approached, the Ravens sought to deviate from their normal practice of selecting the best player available in favor of maneuvering to find a candidate who had the necessary qualities to hopefully be the franchise quarterback the team had lacked from its move from Cleveland. Boston College’s Matt Ryan was clearly the top prospect in the draft, but the Ravens saw no way they could get in a position of drafting Ryan, so they positioned themselves to pick Joe Flacco from the University of Delaware. Despite Delaware not being a BCS Bowl eligible school, they were impressed with Flacco’s abilities and demeanor hoping studying the position on the sidelines in the NFL, he would be ready in a season or two to assume the starting role.

As training camp opened, two things were clear: the Ravens ultimately saw themselves in rebuilding mode despite having many key players from the team that ran away with the AFC North title in 2006; furthermore, the quarterback for 2008 would either be Kyle Boller or Troy Smith with many fans and Ravens players not so secretly were pulling for Smith to dominate in preseason as another year of watching Kyle Boller struggle was beyond tolerance.

Entering the preseason, few would have suggested the Ravens could play for a winning record much less be one game away from the Super Bowl. The happiest projection most of the most knowledgeable local media could offer was the Ravens could finish 7-9 if all the pieces fell into place. A .500 record would be a miracle. The Preseason turned ugly fast. After edging the New England Patriots by one point, the Ravens would drop their next three games looking progressively uncertain with many positions being question marks as the body count due to injuries mounted. Kyle Boller suffered a shoulder injury and looked unlikely to start the season. All signs pointed to Troy Smith locking up the starting QB job, but the organization was insistent they wanted to bring Joe Flacco along slowly. When Smith couldn’t start because of an apparent stomach ailment, Flacco was rushed in to make a preseason start, but when Smith was not able to perform for a second week in a row and his illness turned out to be a more serious infection, suddenly Flacco was being prepped for a bigger role.

The first day of the 2008 season was at hand. Joe Flacco was the next man standing and would be the Ravens’ starting QB. Joe Flacco held his own as the team beat the Cincinnati Bengals convincingly in week one. They were scheduled to play in Houston for week two, but Hurricane Ike forced the game’s postponement until week ten. As such, the Ravens would have the second week off and then carry on for the rest of the season without benefit of a bye.

Confidence would be elevated some when the Ravens obliterated the Cleveland Browns in Baltimore 28-10, but that confidence would be tested and all those nasty questions from the preseason got louder over the next three weeks as the Ravens lost to Pittsburgh then Tennessee by a field goal and then lost miserably to the Indianapolis Colts who had been struggling up to that point in a 31-3 blowout. The coaching staff appeared to tightened wraps on Flacco to try to present simple, fail-safe game plans, while trying to build a more competitive offense with the assortment of seemingly mismatched pieces they had.

The Ravens travelled to south Florida for week seven to engage the Miami Dolphins who just one year early won their only game against the Ravens. The Ravens won decisively and returned home to play the Oakland Raiders. Though the Ravens were a touchdown favorite to beat the Raiders, this game introduced the 2008 NFL world to what would go on to become a dominant playoff quality team implementing trick offensive schemes and furthering their vicious defense to new extremes where by the second half many opponents would look dazed and bewildered after experienced “organized chaos” the Rex Ryan defensive scheme executed by Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Bart Scott, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, and a cast of specialists, thugs, and bullies. They’d take their show on the road as they faced Cleveland and Houston essentially turning their seasons into total chaos.

A trip up the road to the New Jersey swamps to face the defending Super Bowl champs gave the Ravens a painful jolt as the teams they had been feasting upon did not have a winning record between them. The Ravens looked overmatched across the board against the Giants, but those distinctions would no longer prove relevant as the Ravens marched through the remaining six games of the season winning five out of six of their remaining games where after a brilliant pounding of the Philadelphia Eagles the next week would heat up talk of the Ravens being a legitimate playoff contender, but they were also now in the tough part of their schedule aside from getting a breather against Cincinnati. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers would defeat the Ravens in a late controversial touchdown that gave the Steelers the win.

Rumor had it that given week 16 slotted the Dallas Cowboys against an AFC North opponent, rumors spread through the media that Jerry Jones pulled some strings to have the Ravens square off against his team to hopefully assure the Cowboys with a victory playing their last game at Texas Stadium with a huge farewell ceremony scheduled for after the game. The Ravens proved to be gracious party-poopers embarrassing the ‘Boys to a convincing 33-24 defeat where Ed Reeve interceptions and long record setting running plays broke the back of the Dallas Cowboys all but destroying the Cowboys’ shot at post season play unless a lot of crazy luck went their way the next day during the regular Sunday schedule.

All the Ravens needed to do was beat a struggling Jacksonville team and they’d be playoff bound. The Ravens would take their final bow before their admiring home fans establishing an unthinkable 11-5 record looking strong going into the Wild Card round of the playoffs where they were favored to beat Miami.

While the Ravens surely proved themselves a respectable team by the time they destroyed Philadelphia, the gig was surely up when they’d face the Tennessee Titans, the NFL’s most winning team. Ravens fans were confident that the Ravens would find the secret to success since they only lost by a field goal earlier in the season and were a much stronger, more experienced team by the playoffs’ second round. In what was becoming typical fashion, the Ravens played conservative offense while the defense gutted their confidence. Turnovers killed the Titans leading the Ravens off to Pittsburgh as the one remaining foe to conquer before a possible Super Bowl bid.

With four minutes remaining the Ravens could have been marching down the field to win by one point on a Matt Stover automatic field goal. Instead of hitting between the uprights, the Ravens hit the Pittsburgh defense that appeared to present the Ravens with the same little shop of horrors that the Ravens had so expertly laid upon their opponents for most of the season.

Pittsburgh was the number one defense against the Ravens’ number two. While the Steelers clearly dominated the Ravens in all areas, the Ravens held the Steelers close until the final collapse.

It hurts to end in defeat, but John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, and the entire team provided Chesapeake Bay country with one of its most exciting football seasons ever even with the large number of players on injured reserve lost for the season.

Perhaps the sports world witnessed the makings of what could be one of the hottest rivalries in sports for years to come as the Pittsburgh Steelers truly look like they could now be the AFC’s top team and should remain solid for years to come. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens are a team on the rise.

To repeat their 2008 performance in 2009 will be difficult. No one will be surprised by the Ravens next year. Opposing teams will be prepared and much more familiar with the organized chaos they face. In the free agent/salary cap era, teams struggle to hold on to all their top talent regardless of the teams’ bankrolls. Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Bart Scott are all at the end of their contracts. Signing all three of them will be difficult particularly if the team seeks to find a stud top notch receiver or some other skill position standouts to help give Joe Flacco’s offense more options. Finally, the Ravens will face a particularly tough schedule next year. While they will compete against the AFC West and NFC North gives them foes like the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, and Detroit Lions, by finishing in second place, they’re slotted to face both the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots while the Steelers are rewarded with the first place teams of the Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins. Having new leadership having fired their head coaches, teams like the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos might have new energy not shown in 2008. In a league built to try to achieve parity, the Ravens will be pushed to their limits to try to advance to the next step, a division title and a Super Bowl bid for 2009. By the time most readers see this column, it is a strong possibility Rex Ryan will be introduced as the next head coach for the New York Jets.

The Baltimore Ravens have a good blend of veterans and young players with a developing nucleus that could make them strong contenders for years to come. Fans and players alike will look to next year with high hopes of turning the tables on the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s been awhile since there has been such a strong rivalry within a division for national bragging rights, but nothing could help make the Ravens a truly national team than the AFC North having a hot rivalry much like the great battles between the Redskins and the Cowboys during the ‘Skins’ first Joe Gibbs era. Meanwhile, if they’re not there already, the Ravens surely belong in the fraternity of the well-established AFC elite with Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, New England, and Denver.

Once the memory of the final loss against Pittsburgh subsides, the 2009 offseason should be one of interesting developments as the Ravens move toward the draft and finding a few missing pieces to make them the team to beat when training camp opens in just a little over six months.

Go Ravens! You’ve made Baltimore and the Chesapeake Region proud!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Is This the American Way to Welcome a President?

Since When Does an American Leader Demand So Much Hoopla?

In days of old, countries ruled by Kings would have grand spectacles to celebrate royalty with grand pomp and circumstance marking everything from royal birthdays to some farting little prince cutting his first baby tooth. The pageantry served to make the royal figure look larger than life and with all the elaborate staging, every dancer, marching soldier, and jester following the event’s script to perfection, would help serve subtle reminder that the masses likewise should get in line and march according to plan subservient to the will of the King himself.

In the 20th Century and in a few unhappy oppressed nations today, dictators most notably the Communists, would have huge parades with goose-stepping soldiers marching in tight formation, stone faced and robotic, while truck after truck would cruise down the parade route showing off mighty rockets and other military equipment all serving the show the power and might of the dictator while showing the precise control he extends over his subjects completely obliterating any sense of personal liberty or individualty.

Nations ruled by tyrants who serve by royal entitlement or through totalitarian systems are used to grand ceremonies which elevate their leaders to superhuman status. It helps to reinforce their grip by demonstrating through the largesse of the grand event their power and status while reminding the rest of the population how small and helpless they are.

In democratic countries, little is done to celebrate its leaders. Sure there might be some holidays to mark the birthday of some noteworthy historical figures as the United States used to celebrate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but now lumped in together as a late February holiday called President’s Day. How is President’s Day celebrated? Government offices are closed. Retailers have huge sales to draw in citizens enjoying a day off. In various forums, some speeches or small ceremonies might be offered to honor our leaders, but they are rather controlled events, no huge parades, no drill teams, no rituals.

Instead we celebrate the 4th of July, Independence Day, which honors the issuance of the Declaration of Independence our founding document which establishes what it means to be an American and the liberties we all enjoy as citizens. Further, this noble document establishes that all men enjoy certain unalienable rights bestowed upon them by their creator then systematically destroys the concept of individuals serving as subjects to a royal, specifically the rule of the British crown. This is the day for parades and wild celebration, but our nations’ leaders may appear at some of them, their role has traditionally been rather low key and never the focus of the event itself. The President might make an appearance at the July 4th celebration in a particular city but the event not the person is the focus.

The transfer of power on Inauguration Day traditionally consists of a well defined presentation where upon the exiting President appears on stage with the incoming President who is administered the oath of office by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and then gives his inaugural address, some of which have been major historical speeches such as John F. Kennedy’s and Ronald Reagan’s. Once that is completed, a festive patriot parade commences as the new President leaves the Capitol to establish himself in the White House for the first time. The President of the United States enters office and departs as a citizen just like every one else in the country. The greatness of the people and their shared liberties is far more sacred than the roll to be filled by the elected leader who has but four years to serve with the possibility of a second term if re-elected.

In this context, the extended celebration of Barrack Hussein Obama’s ascent to the Presidency seems overblown and historically out of context even arrogant, irresponsible, and financially impudent given the harsh financial hardships many Americans are facing today. While hopefully donors and other sources besides the Federal Government are footing the bill for the multi-day hoopla, it still smacks of being excessive, contrary to the humble nature of most inaugurations, and smacking of being way to reminiscent of the ceremonies befitting dictators, tyrants, and kings. It's pretty ironic that the media and some Democrats expressed their outrage at how much was spent on Dubya's last inauguration which cost but a fraction of what the Obama-Mania fest will run.

For African-Americans, no Presidential inauguration ever had the historical significance of the 2008 Presidential election. One hundred and fifty years ago, many of their ancestors were held in slavery and continued to face second class citizenship and legal oppression until little more than forty years ago. The White House and Capitol, the great symbols of freedom we hope them to be were erected, in part, by slave labor. While the legal obstacles are gone, vast segments of the African-American population has not integrated with the good life enjoyed by most Americans as witnessed by the enormous number of single mother homes, young men entrapped in the legal system where more black men of college age are in jail, awaiting trial, or on probation than enrolled in college. Standardized tests show overwhelmingly an alarming achievement gap between African-American students compared to those of other races. The percentage of Blacks living in substandard living conditions far exceeds the percentage of other Americans. While institutional barriers have been destroyed and African-Americans with adequate skills and education function on all high levels of society including senior positions in government and corporate board rooms, millions still are not stakeholders in the American Dream. Much work still remains and the barriers today are not as stark and easily identified as in the past. As such, the election of an American President with an African father is a powerful symbol of hope and progress and for every African-American who has suffered the trauma and humiliation of racism, this is a huge milestone in American History worthy of tremendous celebration, but shouldn’t this be a celebration of African-America not so much the canonization of one man?

Somehow, the extreme glorification of one man against the back drop of the American Experience fails to add up. Barack Obama is not a product of the struggle endured by African-Americans when almost immediately after the first white European settlers arrived, so did slaves who labored to build this great land by the crack of a whip. Think of the hatred and resistance Jackie Robinson endured, the murder of civil rights activists in the deep south in the early 1960's, and the extreme measures necessary to allow African-Americans equal access to public education and public accomodations as witnessed by Rosa Park's courageous act simply refusing to sit in the back of a public bus. Sadly, when we look at the state of urban school systems, their record of failure, and the unruly atmosphere that permeates many of them, one has to wonder what kind of real progress has taken place at all in public education for many predominantly African-American communities. Obama’s lineage had no part in this struggle. His father was a native of Africa who married a white American from Kansas and eventually returned to Africa. While Obama is African-American in one sense, that he was not raised a part of the African-American community but by college educated parents never subjected to the realities the ancestors of most African-Americans does not ring true in Obama's world.

While it is not for a white writer to argue definitively the “shoulds” concerning what Barack Obama represents to African Americans, there’s something disturbingly shallow and non-genuine about this historical achievement his election represents. Furthermore, the cult of personality, the elitism, the celebration of the man, not the orderly succession of power is most disturbing. Given the news media’s and entertainment industry’s (in truth they are one in the same industry) infatuation with the Obama campaign, their embrace of extreme left-wing politics, and the massive efforts through using their power to grant tremendous favorable exposure to Barack Obama creating his great mythic status while tarnishing other figures in the past election, it’s only natural the media would make Obama’s ascent to power a huge show business production. The media coverage leading up to Tuesday's inauguration ceremony is unprecedented.

Does not this massive celebration, the “whistle stop tour” beginning in Philadelphia making stops for huge public engagements such as what the city of Baltimore staged this afternoon to its final destination in Washington, DC smack of a kind of elite grandeur and overwhelming spectacle that is way out of sorts for how we have viewed our presidency in the past?

How well George W. Bush understood his office in his farewell address by noting:

It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your President. There have been good days and tough days. But every day I have been inspired by the greatness of our country and uplifted by the goodness of our people. I have been blessed to represent this Nation we love. And I will always be honored to carry a title that means more to me than any other: citizen of the United States of America.

In these words, our departing President gets it. This is what the United States is all about and surely the judgment of history will be much kinder to this humble man’s service to his country than the brutal mistreatment he received by the very same people who are thrusting superhuman status on his successor.

When the President of the United States is no longer one of us, that will be the end of us.

Friday, January 16, 2009

ART MODELL: Football Hall-of-Famer!

The Baltimore Ravens play in their second NFL Championship Game on Sunday in their brief twelve-year history in Baltimore. How fortunate we are in Baltimore to have one of the NFL’s most successful and classiest organizations, and for that, we owe tremendous thanks to Art Modell, the team’s original owner. Under the guidance of Ozzie Newsome, who played his way to the Hall of Fame for Modell’s Cleveland Brown’s, the Ravens have been a team built on stability and character avoiding the cheap fix that often rattles many a promising team to its core.

Surely, Baltimore fans not withstanding, Art Modell moving the former Browns franchise to Baltimore is not his ticket to the fame and recognition he deserves. Sadly, it would be hard to identify a sports franchise owner who has been more vilified for his decision to move a team from one city to another. While we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the greatest game ever played, the Baltimore Colts stunning overtime victory over the more established and recognized New York Giants, we cannot help but sense a cruel irony to all of this. That famous game after the 1958 season is credited for launching the NFL as a national sport on equal footing with major league baseball. From that famous game until Super Bowl V, the Baltimore Colts were one of the top teams in the NFL overshadowed mainly by Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers. With Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, John Mackey, Gino Marchetti, Art Donovan and other hall-of-fame and noteworthy players, Baltimore was the toast of the NFL. As devastating as it was to see those greats unceremoniously dumped at the end of their careers, the Colts rebuilt quickly to win three consecutive division championships from 1975-1977. Sadly, from the next season, 1978 until the Colts left for Indianapolis and many years thereafter in the Hoosier Dome, the Colts became one of the most shameful franchises in the pros. Yes, Memorial Stadium was a horrible field for football as the upper deck extended between the opposite 50 yard markers around home plate from the baseball configuration. Beyond that were mostly just bleachers elevated above ground level. The state and city did not take the threats of losing the Colts seriously, though a drunken Robert Irsay would often be caught stumbling off a plane having visited numerous cities trying to attract his NFL team. Irsay delivered a terrible product on the field as well. Toward the end, fans started losing interest and the fix was in.

Where was the outrage when the team, fans, and city that put the NFL on the map lost its storied franchise?

Meanwhile, on the west coast, maverick owner, Al Davis, moved his Oakland Raiders to the Los Angeles Coliseum. Where was the outrage?

After the 1987 season, owner Bill Bidwell moved the Cardinals franchise from St. Louis to Arizona. Busch Stadium was essentially the same design as stadiums in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. Where was the outrage?

After the 1994 season, Georgia Frontiere moved the Los Angeles Rams to St. Louis while Al Davis moved his Raiders back to Oakland leaving the nation’s second largest city and marketing area without professional football. Where was the outrage?

In late October, 1995, Art Modell announced that he was moving the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore. From the big media centers on both coasts and through out the heartland, the press and sports fans screamed, “FOUL!” A tide of outrage swept the nation as the city of Cleveland attempted every legal maneuver to keep the Browns from relocating to Baltimore. Art Modell was vilified as few public figures ever were so denigrated. This kindly avuncular gentleman was subjected to every mean-spirited slur and insult imaginable. It was his greed and poor performance as an owner alone that was reason for the move. And the reasons for the other team’s departure from their original cities were……?

Meanwhile, the year after the Browns bolted for Baltimore, Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams snatched his franchise out of Texas for two years in limbo playing in Memphis and on the Vanderbilt campus while Nashville erected a modern stadium to host the rechristened Tennessee Titans. Outrage? Hell no! Business as usual in the NFL….

Reality check, on a certain level all sports are businesses and as such, those elite few who own such major teams have a set of non-negotiable expectations from the cities in which their teams’ reside. What was deemed an acceptable stadium changed dramatically from the late 60’s into the new millennium?

The onset of the “cookie cutter” stadia in the 60’s and early 70’s created new requirements for stadiums with such amenities as luxury suites and other perks for the corporate crowd, but in their design were planted the seeds of their demise. In the interest of creating mega-complexes accommodating both baseball and football, the facilities compromised the fans’ experience of both sports having a cold, contrived artificial atmosphere. Nevertheless, they were moneymakers and from San Diego to the East Coast, the new era of sports arenas hastened the doom of fields like Memorial Stadium and the old “Mistake by the Lake” in Cleveland.

While the Meadowlands complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey presented a modern concept for a football only stadium in Giants Stadium, it was seen as the kind of luxury only New York could afford. The irony or ironies was the city whose stadium was too archaic to retain the Colts, became the home of the grand idea of what stadiums should be when Baltimore introduced Orioles Park in Camden Yards as Memorial Stadium had become too primitive for baseball as well.

Cleveland was one of the cities next in line to introduce a new “retro” baseball field while new concepts were on the drawing boards as cities attempted to lure expansion franchises to be awarded by the NFL. In the spitting image of its Baltimore counterpart, Jacobs Field opened to much applause on the shores of Lake Erie while public money not only paid for the new baseball stadium but also provided funds for the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and other downtown attractions.

Odd man out, Art Modell.

Art Modell presented his needs for a new stadium and felt assured he would receive accommodations much like those granted the Indians who had been given up for gone several times before the new ballpark was erected.

NFL Expansion was announced in 1994. Amidst speculation that Baltimore and/or St. Louis would surely be top candidates to rejoin the NFL, instead awarded Charlotte, North Carolina the first expansion team, then Jacksonville, Florida, to the surprise of many received the second award. Soon after that, the Rams moved to St. Louis taking advantage of the new facilities they had to offer, but many owners were quite impressed by the Baltimore proposal. While Jack Kent Cooke did not relish an NFL team just over thirty miles and attempted to block a team in Baltimore, the prospect of moving to Baltimore was mighty attractive to owners dissatisfied with their existing arrangements.

The City of Cleveland and State of Ohio did little to acknowledge Municipal Stadium was a crumbling wreck in need of replacement. Modell’s deadline came and past, thus the Browns were Baltimore bound.

Unlike any other sports move, Art Modell and the NFL were most accommodating to the city they had vacated, leaving the Cleveland Browns name and rights to its history in Cleveland to be assumed should Cleveland meet the criteria for a new football team. As such, the play of the Cleveland Browns would be considered “suspended” for three seasons as a new state-of-the-art football field was erected on the exact spot of Municipal Stadium on the shore of Lake Erie. The new Browns returned to play for the 1999 season. Cleveland got its new modern stadium. Local investors would own the Browns, and they were freed from Art Modell the ironic figure who had become the subject of their scorn.

Meanwhile, as the game of musical chairs for NFL franchises continued, it has more or less come full circle. Baltimore, Cleveland, Oakland, St. Louis, and Houston all received NFL franchises, three through relocation, two by expansion leaving only Los Angeles without a team. Then all should be well aside from missing out on LA one would expect, right?

Not for Art Modell. His name still evokes scorn from football fans around the nation ignoring the important roll he played in helping build the NFL into the successful sport it is today.

Prior to owning the Browns, Art Modell’s background was in television production and public relations. He was a visionary who could see the huge potential the game of football had as a televised event and had the marketing savvy to know how to sell it. Art Modell played a leading roll in establishing the lucrative national television contracts where revenue from the networks would be divided between all franchises. Modell was also instrumental in helping to get Monday Night Football launched.

Modell was not only one of the most influential and effective NFL owners in the 1960’s and 1970’s, his contributions to Cleveland and Northern Ohio were tremendous contributing to many local charities using his position to be a powerful fundraiser.

As a rust belt city losing its industrial strength, Cleveland, Ohio was a city facing tremendous problems in the 1970’s and was in severe financial trouble. Art Modell single-handedly labored to preserve not only football but major league baseball as well as the city could not afford to maintain its stadium. Modell established “stadium Corp” where he would lease the stadium from Cleveland for one dollar a year, and assume all maintenance and repair costs while subleasing the stadium to the Browns and Indians. Modell had even invested in property in Strongsville, Ohio as a potential site for a new stadium.

Lacking modern revenue generating sources such as luxury suites and relying on the success of his football franchise as the sole source of income, Modell’s financial stability became weaker as operating costs increased tremendously with no nest egg for any bailout funds.

Unlike owners moving franchises simply for greener pastures, the rich getting richer, for Modell it was a matter of financial survival. The only way he could retain the franchise was to move the team since neither Cleveland nor Ohio would step forward to provide him a deal on the same terms as what they had given the Indians. Interestingly enough, in moving to Baltimore, one of the terms of both the Ravens and the Orioles lease is one of mutual parity where anything the Stadium Authority does to benefit one team must be offered in comparable form to the other. Such a proactive move in Cleveland would have kept Modell in Ohio.

Many Browns supporters suggested Modell was obligated to pursue another possibility to right his finances, to sell the Cleveland Browns to local interests. While such a move might have been laudable in some circles, it ignores the hard reality that professional sports are business entities. Cities compete to provide the best financial packages for the billionaire owners who command such enterprises.

Ironically, Art Modell is not such a figure, just a millionaire largely due to his moving the Browns to Baltimore. While outside of the cities that were scorned by having their teams uprooted, names like Bud Adams, Robert Irsay, and Bill Bidwell mean relatively little negative outside those cities from whom their beloved teams were removed.

What did Irsay or Bidwell do for the well being of the National Football League? Did Robert Irsay do anything to support the City of Baltimore while he owned the Colts?

Art Modell is one of the key figures whose vision and hard work off the field helped make the NFL the great spectacle and huge financial juggernaut it is today. Fans, players, team executives, and owners alike owe thanks to this humble, kindly man who deserves to be enshrined in Canton, Ohio while he is still well enough to attend such honors.

If he is to be vilified for the Browns relocation to Baltimore, other owners are far more villainous than Art Modell is. Any examination of franchise relocations would tell the same.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

NFL Playoffs: The Conference Championship Rounds

Baltimore versus Pittsburgh, Philadelphia versus Arizona, who would have seen this scenario in September? Surely, the Ravens and Steelers have one of the hottest rivalries in the NFL that could evolve into the kind of relationship fans think of when the Yankees play the Red Sox, Michigan plays Ohio State in college football, or North Carolina plays Duke in men's basketball. The NFC contest is more the odd-couple. Arizona has had chances to build a competitive team for years and rise above the status of the Detroit Lions. This year, they did it. Philadelphia has been an extremely strong team in the McNabb/Reid era though seldom are recognized as such as untimely injuries and other setbacks have kept a strong team from the promised land for many season.

The Steelers are between a six and seven point favorite to beat the Ravens. They've been one step better and perhaps a little luckier than the Ravens this year. That they finished a game ahead in the AFC North Standings shows that as do their two games that went down to the bitter end where Pittsburgh had just enough to win. The experts are correct to dubb the Steelers as the favorite, but one step forward by the Ravens, the Ravens win. One step back by the Steelers, the Ravens win. Winning three straight against a team like the Ravens even at home is a tough challenge. This game could well be determined by a field goal and the team that has the wind at its back and doesn't have to kick into the open end of Heinz Field in the fourth quarter could win. Go RAVENS!!!! We want the Vince Lombardi Trophy to reside just south of the Mason-Dixon line.

The Eagles are a field goal favorite in Arizona. The home team gets a three point bounce, so this game is seen as a draw to the Vegas crooks. We like the Eagles. They have more weapons and they've shown to have a much tougher defense than expected that should be able to rattle Kurt Warner and his attack on offense. Give Arizona credit. Maybe Atlanta was a pretty equal foe, but Carolina should have clobbered them. How much of it was Arizona's strengh and not a Carolina choke is up for debate. So many of the Panthers problems appeared to hinge on poor decision making and horrible execution rather than being overpowered by a greater team.

We love the notion of a Baltimore-Philadelphia Super Bowl. If we weren't Ravens fans, an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl would be fun to consider too. The "exo-burbs" of Baltimore and Philadelphia overlap on the Eastern Shore of the Susquehanna River. Each team's home field is just another exit off of Interstate 95, about 100 miles apart. Both Balimore and Philadelphia have teams with quite an attitude. What a joy it is to remember the once great Baltimore Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies in five games in the 1983 World Series. Only the prospects of facing the Redskins could create more energy in Baltimore. Likewise, having to conquer Pittsburgh to get there is perhaps the most exciting rival Baltimore could face to earn the right to fight for the championship. Baltimore and Pittsburgh have so much in common, former industrial cities, baseball teams with a great history that have been nowhere to be found in the last decade plus, and a certain "blue collar" attitude toward their football teams. A Ravens win will elevate the Baltimore/Pittsburgh rivalry into being legitimized as one of the great rivalries in all of sports.

The Ravens can do it, but they will need to play their best game with some key players hurting. It will be a game determined by will and wind quite possibly needing a Matt Stover field goal to win the game. A low socring game decided by a field goal could be the outcome.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mayor Sheila Pratt Dixon: Baltimore's Latest Shame


"You owe me!"
Toxic attitude endemic in many politicians today.

We call your attention to the blog, "Sheila Dixon's 6th Sense," from the link below. While we often disagree with Dan Rodericks liberal sentiments, he captured the essence of Baltimore's indicted mayor's persona quite effectively.

In Dixon's own words, "To be honest with you, no, 2 1/2 percent, based on what I do seven days a week, 24 hours, trying to raise a family, a daughter in college."

Isn't there a sense of "you owe me" in this attitude? Considering all the perks and privileges of office and that the Mayor of Baltimore makes an attractive salary to begin with, this is one hell of an attitude for a person governing a city with so many needy and hurting people.

Rodericks is correct, Dixon has an undeniable sense of entitlement, "you owe me because I'm me." As such is it any wonder, her indictment states she would have snatched up gift cards donated by various local businesses to be given to Baltimore's least fortunate? And on what necessities did Ms. Dixon reportedly redeem her stolen loot? All kinds of home entertainment goodies for starters! Ms. Mayor deserves a Playstation III at the expense of clothing for a needy Baltimorian!?!?!?!?!?

This kind of corruption and hypocrisy cannot be tolerated. How shameful it is to suggest that since the state prosecutor is a holdover from Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich's term that this mess is somehow politically motivated. There's no witch hunt here. It's a matter of greed and corruption, period. How unfortunate it is that the city must deal with a mayor who acts above it all and would so selfishly steal from those she supposedly was elected to help.

If found guilty, let's hope she gets no more consideration than the total disregard she's shown for the citizens of Baltimore. All she's entitled to now is being forced from office, prosecution, sentencing and then fines and imprisonment. If she fulfills her debt to society, she will be given the opportunity to earn her way back into society in some capacity, but her reputation will always be tarnished. Overcoming that will take the most unselfish and focused efforts imaginable where she takes it upon herself to do well.

Blaming others is not the answer nor is believing they owe her something. Somehow, we can here echoes of the same kind of attitude in Baltimore's City Hall that is resonating in the Illinois State House as the Governor Rod Blagojevich saga plays out. It is no surprise that their political values and political behavior are so similar. Both speak of being champions of the poor and disadvantaged while exploiting them every step of the way.

Baltimore has many overwhelming problems, but it is a beautiful city with so much potential. We need leaders who recognize that potential and rally its citizens getting many of those left out in the cold involved as stakeholders in the city's future.

Radical Left Within Democratic Party Seeks to Criminalize Bush Administration's War on Terror: THE BASTARDS!!!

Misunderstood and maligned, many Democrats seek criminal action against President Bush who has, regardless of what criticisms rightly or wrongly he has endured, kept America safe and free druing the war on terrorism.

Note the following article from the Associated Press.

Any American who treasures his or her liberty and believes in the rule of law must be horrified by the insane extreme conduct by the radical left of the Democratic Party. The calls are widespread from elected officials to their enablers in the Media establishment as best represented by the New York Times, their reporters and columnists, and all the other less prestigious papers who draw from them for inspiration to seek criminal probes of the Bush Administration for evidence of breaking national security laws and committing war crimes in their fight against terrorism. They cannot simply accept that they have been given the opportunity to work with in the regular legislative and executive functions with a sympathetic administration about to assume office. They seek to criminalize those whose actions don't concur with their warped radical agenda.

What has the Bush administration done so criminal? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

Since September 11, 2001, there has not been one single terrorist attack against the United States or its major interests abroad. They have pursued strong and effective action to protect us from terrorism and maintain our freedom and liberties here at home. Has there ever been a case of any behavior where the Bush administration has gathered unlawful material on any of its critics or political adversaries?

Of course not. If anything, George W. Bush and his administration have been total wimps in dealing with their critics. There has never been a hint of obtaining FBI files as was revealed in be in the hands of Hilary Clinton under her husband's administration, no "Travel-gate," no enemy's list, no IRS audits or FBI action against any of their adversaries. There is not the slightest hint of the kind of wretched behavior Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson engaged in against anti-war foes during their tenure.

The Bush administration has been tough on those who deserve it, our enemies, radical Islamic extremists. Nevertheless, all those who have visited the prison at Guantanemo Bay report comfortable, accomodating living conditions for some of the most vicious terrorists who actively plotted to kill us as they did on 9/11/01. When one examines the transcripts of exactly what kind of behavior constituted "torture" in the minds of the Liberal press, one would hardly be upset at all in what amounts to assertive interogation. Should parents put their children on trial for torture for subjecting them to loud annoying music? Should children put their parents on trial for not serving dinner until they fulfilled a few responsibilities? Yes, it's almost that simple.

Meanwhile, the guards protecting us from these goons are subjected to constant taunts having prisoners throw their own feces at them and other vile actions they are capable of doing.

God help us our strict and assertive attention to the war on terrorism is on the verge of softening and "Gitmo" will be history sooner than later. If there's anyone on the left who doesn't believe its a matter of "when" not "if" the next terrorist attack takes place. Every effort we make to loosen our grip on the evil scum of the earth who would kill us and every attempt to make our policies less comprehensive will hasten that day.

We have a very dangerous enemy within in the form of the Radical Left in this country, vast segments of the news media, the Democratic party, the entertainment industry, and on college campuses through out the country. All policy is subject to debate but we are engaged in a war that we did not chose. It chose us. We simply chose the theaters of engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Terrorism and Radical Islam is on the march as we speak in Isreal where Palestinian Terrorists from Hamas and Hezbolah are attacking unprovoked Israeli population centers within their missiles range. Rather than screaming outrage for these acts of terror and aggression against inoncent Israeli civilians, the outrage is cast upon the Jewish state's attempts to defend itself and destroy those who are attacking them.

This kind of logic is absolutely sick. Sadly, there are few sources that speak up against the prevailing media. So much of what the public knows about the world situation and the march of Islamic terrorism is seen through the prism of a corrupt and biased media whose behavior at best is a soft form of treason.

Monday, January 12, 2009

40 Years Ago Today: January 12, 1969, Baltimore's Biggest Bombartment Since Fort McHenry!

Joe Namath, an image that still haunts Baltimore football fans.

"We'll win the game. I guarantee you."

So boasted New York Jets Quarterback, Joe Namath, on the eve of facing the highly favored, Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. No one could think that the toast of the NFL could lose to the upstart AFL team, but the Jets won convincingly against an ailing Johnny Unitas and Don Shula's Colts. The Colts favored by 19 points took the 16-7 loss made more painful by the boastful antics of the free-spirited "Broadway Joe's" brash comments.

The victory gave the AFL equal status to the well-established NFL as the pace toward total integration between the two rival leagues accelerated to the NFL configuration as it would exist for many years to come, two conferences, three divisions each, made equal with Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Baltimore moving to the AFC to begin the 1970 season to complete the merger.

Ironically, the following October, New York and Baltimore would meet again in the championship to decide it all, the 1969 World Series. The Orioles were highly favored to beat the expansion, New York Mets, who were still thought of as the bumbling expansion team that struggled to do anything properly just a few years early. The Orioles won the first game, but then dropped four straight to the New York Mets.

Baltimore fans would love to have such bad luck in baseball forty years later, right?

SPRINT CUP: 2009, NASCAR's Cold Dark Winter

Much has happened since Jimmie Johnson was crowned champ in Homestead just a few weeks ago, and now that we’re in the thick of the NFL playoffs with the Super Bowl less than three weeks away, Speed Week is already almost upon us, but what will the scene be when the cars unload and engines fire. Here’s some of the changes and issues that we will be talking about when Daytona comes alive in just four weeks.

First, the end of a legend is upon us. No matter how one might spin the subject, Richard Petty’s active role in NASCAR is over. Sure, in theory, Petty Enterprises merged with Gillette-Evernham, but it’s more of a buy-out than a merger. Gillette-Evernham gets to run the #43 car and use the Petty name for marketing purposes, but the old family business is no more. Just ask an angry Kyle Petty who was all but eased out when the Boston investors bought into the company.

Bill Davis racing is history. Perhaps someone buying the team can construct something, but it looks like Dale Blaney could wind up with the new Tommy Baldwin racing.

Where will Bobby Labonte wind up? Talk is he could be in the #8 ride with Earnhardt-Ganassi. How will that shotgun wedding play out with Juan Montoya, Martin Truex, and Aric Almirola and ride allocation. Apparently, there has been little sponsor interest in the #8 ride with Almirola, hence Bobby Labonte, a good guy and former champion to the rescue.

The Legendary Wood Brothers are poised to do business by coaxing Bill Elliot out of retirement for a part time schedule of maybe twelve races. The #21 car is one for the history books. How delightful it would be to see them score a top ten or two.

The biggest excitement has to be the creation of the Stewart/Haas team with Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman establishing a new dynamic duo running Henndricks equipment. The challenges are enormous but so is the talent.

While neither the #28 or #38 cars have sponsorship for Yates racing, welcome Paul Menard in the #98 car sponsored by Menards. Yates raced respectably last year despite the constant sponsor chase with Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland.

Richard Childress has one team in growth mode going to four full time rides as Cheerios/General Mills sponsorship goes to the new #33 team which will be piloted by chase contender, Clint Bowyer. Meanwhile, Hendricks cast-off, Casey Mears, mans the Whiskey Ride, Jack Daniels #07.

Robby Gordon switches manufacturers again going to Toyota. Hopefully they’ll send the right parts unlike his switch from Ford to Dodge last year.

Lots of eyes will be on rookie, Joey Legano, who looked brilliant in Busch, but way over matched in his Cup audition. The Gibbs team will look to be stronger in the Chase considering how dominating Kyle Busch was during the regular season.

Finally, our sentimental favorite is Mark Martin racing full-time in the #5 car, the Corn Flakes Box, for Hendricks.

Make no mistake, the economy and the dark cloud hanging over the domestic auto industry will cast a huge shadow over all of NASCAR, perhaps more on the lower series than Sprint Cup. It’s not a long shot to say the Dodge brand name might not exist by the end of the 2009 season. Ford and especially general motors have tough challenges getting their corporations righted during the current recession. Even Toyota lost business in 2008. Sponsorship dollars will be harder to come by as will butts in the seats at race tracks around America.

Still, once the green flag drops to begin the Daytona 500, the competition will be what matters and 2009 should be a very entertaining season with some great stories to tell. Betting money would be on a champ from Gibbs, Hendricks, or Roush, but what will Childress have to offer as he had three cars in the chase in ’08. How will the dynamic duo of Stewart and Newman fare with a hot new team.

OOPS, ONE MORE THING.... could anyone write about Sprint Cup without mentioning “junior.” Here’s our take. Dale Earnhardt Jr. showed much potential in 2008 and got one monkey off his back winning in Michigan in June, but there were far too many races where silly mistakes and lack of communication with the pits, his cousin, Tony Eury Jr., cost the team dearly. They must iron out those problems and focus. From our standpoint, we love Junior, but 2009 is the “No Excuses” tour for the #88 car.