Archive for September, 2012

It just makes me wonder

Here it is; another great thing about the computer…you will never have to buy a new deck of cards! Just thought I’d share that with you. Heck, you can even change the appearance of your cards…you don’t even have to deal; the computer will do it for you. Is that great or what?

If a kid gets his ass paddled – in a state where paddling is allowed – doesn’t it make you wonder why the mother didn’t sign the permission slip in the first place? Maybe she knew her kid was a little shit but she was ignoring the whole situation. And how do we know she didn’t take the ‘expose’ pictures after she’d paddled his little bottom some more after he got home?

If we have trillions of dollars of debt, why do we continue to send money and costly supplies to people who hate us?

Why is the United Nations headquartered in New York? If there was a branch built in Athens, it might help their economy.

If the NFL officials strike could be settled in less than 24 hours, it really makes me question how serious the League was in negotiating in good faith in the first place.

When Beverly Scott takes over the MBTA as the new general manager, do you think she’ll increase the fares six-fold. Past performance doesn’t lie.

Why don’t employers check academic credentials as well as personal or professional references for people who are taking positions of responsibility? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!

Do you think the Red Sox will move to Bozeman, Montana and let a real major league club play ball in historic Fenway Park?

If we have all these walks, runs, and rides to find a cure for cancer, how much of it is actually getting to the researchers who can use it?

How come my retirement plan increased by less than two dollars a month while my health insurance premium was increased by over twelve dollars a month. Obama closeth the doughnut hole and insurance companies increaseth the premium [to cover their bonuses].

Why are we so surprised at the inherent bad in people? This, “Oh and he seemed like such a nice man” bullshit when the pedophile next door is arrested. No one believed me about my Scout leader until he was picked up. My folks were surprised; I was just a kid, but I wasn’t…and no, he had never laid a hand on me. There was just something weird about him.

Is it so surprising that we have so many crazy shootings in the United States? Checking backgrounds of people seems to be a lost art, not to mention the ease of buying military-grade weapons in this country.

Why do we act shocked when a Japanese major league ballplayer refuses to accept his salary and bonuses after he has a lousy couple of years. Their culture differs from ours. They are about, in this case, team over individual. Everything they do seems for the benefit of something larger than themselves. We could learn a lesson from that attitude.

What makes Tom Cruise, at 5’7” believe that he can play a 6’5” wandering nomad by the name of Jack Reacher.?  Lee Child [a.k.a. Jim Grant] created a wonderful fictional character. Cruise bought the rights to the series. Sorry, Tom, but you just don’t have it for this guy. It’s so unbelievable as to be laughable.

Why doesn’t Karl Rove know better than to be making telephone calls on behalf of Republican candidates for office? Doesn’t he realize the stigmas of ineptness and extremism that are attached to him?

Why do we keep electing people to Congress who are convicted criminals of one sort or another? There are certain jobs in this country where the term, “higher standards,” is part of the job requirements. The days of Jesse Helms and Fanny Fox are behinds us. Isn’t the country in enough trouble without electing untrustworthy people to make our laws?

Who gets all hot and bothered about Prince Harry running around in his birthday suit? For that matter, is anyone really interested in seeing  the Duchess showing off a couple of fried eggs, sunny-side up? As the proctologist said, “See one asshole; you’ve seen ‘em all!”

Why does Apple keep coming out with new versions of their I-phone? Why don’t they just wait until they have it right before duping the public…again…and again…and again…and, ah forget it!

Lawyers practice; doctors practice. Clients go to prison; patients die. Hmm, don’t you think they should stop practicing until they can get it right?

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Can you imagine just how much media moguls must drool every 18 months…drool, absolutely salivate all over their $200 neckties, their $1,000 shirts, and their $7,500 suits? Not only that, but each 18 months, it only gets better. Republicans and Democrats now spent somewhere over $100 million each…to attain the office of President of the United States. You have got to be kidding me. Hell, the job only pays roughly $570,000 a year. So why then would anyone the kind of money the campaigns are spending?

It seems to me that there might be two very important reasons why a party would spend well over a hundred million bucks to have their person in the Presidency: ego. “Wait a minute,” you say, “That’s only one reason.”  No, it’s two reasons. It’s the ego of the party that believes it knows what is best for each and every American man, woman, and child, and ego of the individual candidate who believes that he or she can accomplish what the party wishes. The latter, by the way, is not such a bad thing. If a candidate, man or woman, honestly believes that she or he can make a difference in America, God Bless ‘em…they’re wrong, but bless them.

I say the candidates and/or incumbents are wrong because Americans, by and large, don’t care. As long as they can get up in the morning; put on some clothing that isn’t in tatters…hey, the clothes might even be pretty new…have something to eat; go to work; have lunch; come home safely; have dinner/supper, and; sleep without worrying about their throats getting slit, they couldn’t care less about who’s sitting in some funny-shaped little room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The only time you will get them to care is  if they don’t get a refund on their taxes – on which many of them have cheated anyway – or if their kid is sent off to a war in which they have no interest and that kid gets killed. At those points, they begin to get pretty pissed; at those points, you might have a couple of new voters. And because those things were done under one incumbent’s watch, they will be more inclined to vote for the other candidate …unless he or she has a reputation that’s worse than that of many members of Congress…and we have people in prison whose reputations aren’t that bad.

In Massachusetts we have a couple of people vying for a Senate seat. The incumbent is Senator Scott Brown, a Republocrat. Brown isn’t afraid to cross the aisle of the best interests of the country and the state can be served.  One of the things that I really like about Senator Brown is that he co-sponsored the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or Stock Act that made it illegal for members of Congress to take advantage of insider information to make money on Wall Street. Are you kidding me? As Senator Brown says in one of his ads, “If you did that, you’d be in prison.” Was that a perk or what? No wonder people wanted to get to Congress. It makes you wonder just what other little deals take place that allow members of Congress to become rich. Here are some statistics regarding the 535 members of the United States Congress:

  • Some have been accused of spousal abuse
  • A few have been arrested for fraud
  • Several have been accused of writing bad checks
  • Over 100 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
  • A small number have done time for assault
  • Too many cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
  • Over a dozen have been arrested on drug-related charges
  • Several have been arrested for shoplifting
  • Some are currently defendants in lawsuits
  • In keeping with the rest of the country, some have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the members of the Congress of the United States of America! Granted, this list is of past as well as present members of Congress. These are the things that have been documented. Heaven only knows of what other misdeeds these miscreants might be guilty.

The deed or misdeeds of Congress is not really the point of this article. I have three very simple questions: Why do we allow the spending of so much money to elect a president; second, why is the President – or the opposition candidate for that matter – allowed to begin campaigning for the office over a year and a half ahead of the election, and; third, who the hell is running the country when it’s leaders are out on the campaign trail?

Here are some arbitrary solutions to the questions above. They are not answers; the answer are simple…”We’ve always done it that way.” That doesn’t make it right, obviously, but it’s the answer we’re likely to get. Here are proposed solutions:

  • Campaign costs for the Office of President of the United States are not to exceed $10 million;
  • As of this moment, Super PACS are abolished. If that group wishes to throw money around, let them invest it in the infrastructure of their communities;
  • Any celebrity or public figure who endorses a candidate in such a way that it becomes a news story or a television commentary will be subject to a fine of $1,00,000 which will go into a fund to pay down the deficit;
  • The months of September and October will be the months in which (a) three debates will be held, with all parties represented. In addition, these will be the only times in which public campaigning will be allowed.
  • Conventions of the two major parties will be held simultaneously at [obviously] different locations during the last week of August. If this is inconvenient for the major news outlets, too damned bad; it’s the future of our country we’re talking about, not your ratings.
  • Congressmen/women who are running for election will be held to the same standards as above with the exception that their campaign costs shall not exceed $5 million.

Is any of this realistic? No, it probably is not, but wouldn’t it be a great thing if we could reduce the number of television ads, billboards, and banners that are plastered across the countryside years before an election is being held? One of the arguments I’ve heard is that all of this campaigning provides jobs. I cannot help but wonder if that’s a good thing. Just how many paid positions are there, anyway?

I’d like to see a nation where the President doesn’t have to be away from the business of running the nation because he/she has to be on the campaign trail for 18 months. I’d like to see a nation that demands Congress are in session more than 140-150 days a year. Hell, if you or I worked that number of days we wouldn’t have a job. The Congress that preceded this one worked twice as many days…time to break out the whip!

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Once upon a time, long, long, ago, in a country called America – actually, it was the United States of America but, hey, let’s keep things brief [ha] – there was a word that had a great deal of meaning. That word was “loyalty.” Actually, that’s bullshit. The word, “loyalty” was loyalty to your own clan or kind; it had nothing to do with being loyal to those who might be the slightest different from you or your family…in any way possible. The Puritans left the colonists because the colonists didn’t believe as they did. Those who were loyal to the crown, the Tory Conservatives felt that the Whig Patriots were traitors, which, truth be told, they were…or were they?

America has been about as screwed up a nation as one can possibly imagine. There were those who wanted to run the Colonies in much the same manner as the Crown ran the ‘home country.’ The wealthy controlled the land and all that was on it, from the fish in the streams to the animals in the woods to the villagers who worked on the land. It appears from my reading that rising above the stature of one’s birth was impossible unless it was done by deceit, rebellion, and murder.  Lincoln might have announced the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but Congress didn’t make it a law. Indeed, it wasn’t until 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. the Board of Education that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white children was unconstitutional. Even then, many states fought the idea of integrating schools. That was two years after I had received my high school diploma and was already working on an undergraduate degree. Talk about living in a world of ignorance; mine was and, quite frankly, has remained a white bread world for well over 50 years.

When one (me) lives in total ignorance of the world around them, I’m unable to comprehend exactly what causes it. Certainly, I’d heard of the Bromley-Heath and Columbia Point housing projects in Boston. Hell, I even watched Columbia Point being built while on my way to classes, but it never occurred to me what the living conditions would be like. People used to tell me that I was crazy to hitchhike from Columbia Circle just about the project, but nothing ever happened except when a white man tried to run me down. I’d been picked up by blacks and whites and never had a problem in the world. By then, of course, there were no Tories or Whigs, and the Democrats and Republicans dueled in a gentlemanly fashion to ensure that what they were doing was best for the country and not for a political party.

It never really dawned on me that black people weren’t getting the same brand of education that white people were getting. Then integration hit Boston, and it became apparent that there were certain groups of whites who didn’t want their children exposed to blacks. They didn’t understand that there were an equal number of black people who felt basically the same way. In back of it all was the same old story; blacks were not being given equal education and whites didn’t want the black community to learn the truth…pretty goddamned sick, isn’t it?

We began to wonder why more and more black kids were dropping out of school and doing things like robbing and earning their money illegally. No one ever seemed to give a hell of a lot of thought to the fact that schooling was doing anything for them. The ‘niggers’ – that’s just a word but it’s exactly how some people thought of those of a different color – were still second-class citizens and anything that whites could do to ensure it would stay that way would be done. However, whites don’t deserve all of the blame. Mothers with six kids by different fathers didn’t seem to be all that uncommon in the black community. Don’t ask me why, but who’s going to discipline the younger kids if there’s no dad around to accept the responsibility. A quick fuck or two maybe fun and games, but it also entails a certain amount of accountability and responsibility. More and more, black leaders like Bill Cosby, Fifty Cent, Snoop Dog, and others are coming forward to chastise both black men and women for not accepting responsibility for their actions.

When drugs hit the streets of Boston –LSD was introduced around 1963 – Marijuana was already a money-maker, the drug having been introduced in the early 1900s to America. It was easy money, but money with a curse. One never knew whether or not the buyer or even the seller might be selling the ‘real deal.’ What better way for kids with a third-rate education or none at all to pick up extra money? To appropriately write on this subject would take volumes of both research and putting together a coherent piece. That is not what this essay is about.

This essay is really about me and the world of ignorance in which I have lived my life. I’m not proud of having not experienced some of the trials that people of different colors and ethnic backgrounds have experienced. I can now better understand why I sometime received strange looks when I’d make a comment that today sounds to me so stupid and insensitive. At Babson, our financial aid director was Edwina Middleton, a black lady. One day I was in ‘Eddie’s” office when a group of freshmen, all black, came in and asked if she had any idea where they could get a haircut. Without thinking, I suggested a place not far from campus. Both Edwina and the kids just stared at me. She then game them some suggestions while I sat there looking like Mickey the Dunce. After they had left, she asked, “Do you honestly think blacks and whites have the same kind of hair?” I had to admit that I’d never thought of it, but yeah, that’s what I thought.

In some ways, I suppose, it’s good to be deaf, dumb, blind, and ignorant. That doesn’t mean you have to stay that way.  Since that day, there have been plenty of opportunities for me to learn the differences between races…and I’ve damn well made it a point to do so. People really are quite worlds apart in the way they look at life and the way in which they live it. It’s no wonder that there is such confusion and anger of some toward others. It’s my belief that Christians wouldn’t react as violently to a video depicting our God as a buffoon; Muslims really get pissed (even though that particular video had little to do with the attacks on US embassies). Jews have been ridiculed for years about their business practices, their physical descriptors, etc. I’ve not seen the Jews go on a rampage against those they thought responsible. My message to the Muslims is, “Grow up and get over it. You have bigger problems. And if you let a small group of terrorists influence you so completely, you are just plain stupid!”

It’s taken me 78 years to learn the differences in people and their beliefs. Now if I could just understand why Democrats and Republicans don’t really give a damn about their own country, perhaps I could die in peace. Hmmm, I wonder…

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Play the hand

In a game of cards, you have little choice but to play the hand you’re dealt. Sometimes the cards are really great; other times…well, to be brutally frank, they really suck. The beauty of a card game, however, is that you do have future hands to which you can look forward…unless you’re on a really bad streak, and then – trust me on this one – bow out before you have to walk home in either your boxers or your panties and bra…and that just ain’t worth the trouble.

In life it’s something of a different story. At least, that’s what they tell everyone but Shirley MacLaine who knows exactly how many times she’s been reborn…to each his own. Many of us feel that the life we have is not a dress rehearsal; that the cards – or life, if you prefer – that we have been dealt are the ones in play; we don’t have any ‘do-overs,’ ‘Mulligans,’ or whatever term is used elsewhere. This is it, baby, for better or worse, what you’ve got is all you’re gonna get.

We all have some cross to bear in our life. I’m reminded of the man who was in church, praying to the Lord. “Oh, Heavenly Father,” he complained, “my cross is too heavy. I don’t believe I can carry on with it. Is there a way in which you could give me a lighter cross to bear?” Much to the man’s surprise, shock, and chagrin, the Lord replied. “Take your cross to the front of the church and place it on the altar,” the Lord said. The man did as he was instructed. All of his worries and cares combined in that cross were immediately lifted from his shoulders. “Since everyone must bear some burden,” the Lord then said, “walk to the rear of the church. There you will find other crosses. I have placed them there and you must select one.” The man did as he was told. The rear of the church appeared to have grown larger. It seemed there were hundreds of crosses. Many reached out of sight; others were gnarled or covered in nails. After much searching, the man finally spotted a small cross over in a corner.  He hoisted it on his shoulders. It wasn’t as heavy as the others looked; it wasn’t as ugly or ferocious as many of the others. “This will be my cross to bear Lord,” the man said. “I thought it might be,” the Lord replied. It’s the one you carried when you entered my house.

The point, of course, is that we, you and I, have no clue to the burdens that are being borne by others. It’s been said that with age comes wisdom. I’m not absolutely certain of that, but there certainly is one thing that we most of us learn…there is always someone who has a more difficult life than we have. If you have any heart at all, you will hear stories along the way that will cause you to reflect and realize that you’re better off walking in your own shoes than you are in another’s.

I have an acquaintance; I can’t really call her a friend because we don’t socialize other than when we meet occasionally. She is the sole support of what is left of her family. Her brother lives with her. The brother was born with cerebral palsy and brain damage. Remember now, she is the sole support which means she has to have a caretaker for her brother during the day; that equals money. She holds two jobs just to make ends meet…oh, and the brother was just diagnosed with brain cancer. You want that situation? Yours may be better; it’s a bit difficult to believe it’s worse, but I suppose it could be. I couldn’t walk in her shoes even if I wanted to do so. I just don’t believe I have the strength to handle it. She’s one of my real heroes.

As you go through this thing we call “life,” count your blessings as well as your burdens. You don’t have any blessings, you say. Ah, my friend…if you are reading this; if you are capable of reading this; if you have a computer; if you have electricity; if you are able to breathe and take the time to read this, just think of how fortunate you are. You are alive; you have a computer; you are capable of reading and are not blind…what wonderful blessings these are. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions who are not as blessed as you. It seems to me that it’s so much easier to complain than it is to say, “Wow, I am truly blessed with what I have.” That’s important for you to know.

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“Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own.”  That quotation is attributed to Carol Burnett, the rubber-faced, ear-tugging, mouth-the-size-of-the Ted Williams tunnel entrance with a voice to match, although I did get the quote from the Internet. This means that it could have also been cited as having come from Harvey Korman, one of her co-stars. It doesn’t really matter. If Ms. Burnett did say it, I wouldn’t be surprised; she’s an exceptionally bright lady. And, if she didn’t say it, what the hell, it’s a good quote; might as well accept the error.

Because of Ms. Burnett’s battle with the National Enquirer, there is a good chance that she made the above remark. Without going into details, let me just say that with some of her ‘winnings’ from the suit, Ms. Burnett made a contribution to U.Cal-Berkeley, indicating that she “hoped the suit would teach aspiring journalists the dangers of defaming individuals in articles.” [Quotation marks are my own; I have no resource for ensuring her exact language].

All of the above aside, words, once they are mouthed or printed, do develop a life of their own. In print, they may be taken out of context, twisted, reformed to a positive or negative. In that regard, they may be considered similar to the forward pass in football: Three things can happen when you throw a forward pass; two of them are bad. When words are set to print, rarely do two people read them in the same way. This is simple enough to demonstrate. Go to the meeting of any book club and ask the members to interpret what they have just read. They will, eventually, come to some form of consensus, but you may be old and gray by the time you understand that on which they actually agree.

Several years ago I penned an editorial opinion piece regarding an altercation that had taken place between a teacher and a student. The student claimed that the teacher had struck him, as with a fist. The teacher claimed this was untrue. Accusations were flying fast and furious, with everyone from the superintendent of schools to the “victim’s” brother who was away at school at the time. There were those, I personally believe, who would have tarred and feathered the teacher and ridden him out of town on a rail. The teacher was saying nothing. Au contraire on the part of the student and his family. The so-called witnesses to the situation also were strangely quiet; these were ‘friends’ and classmates of the “victim.”

In my piece it was my contention that everyone should shut the hell up; that airing dirty laundry in public before all of the facts were known was inappropriate. I believed then, now, and forever that there were only two people who knew the real facts of the case…the two people involved in the ‘altercation.’ My words were misinterpreted by everyone from the family – the father confronted me at the gym and wanted to go one-on-one – to the superintendent of schools who called me and asked that I print a retraction of some kind. We eventually agreed to disagree on what the editorial opinion piece actually was saying.  As I pointed out to more than one person, it was just that, an opinion piece. The brother who had been away at college actually dropped by the house and left a three-page, hand-written letter, lambasting me for my opinion, demanding a retraction of what I had written – guess I’m not entitled to have opinions – and vaguely threatened bodily harm…sorry, I can’t be bothered if you’re just going to drop the envelope and run to your car.

My experience was a minor skirmish compared to that of Ms. Burnett. We do, however, share one thing in common: She continues to do as she damn well pleases, and I continue to write what I damn well please.  Beyond that, we’re alike in our desire to say what we honestly believe – she’s older and does it better.

I have always adhered to one quotation when writing:  “The moving finger writes and having writ moves on; nor all the piety nor wit shall lure it back, nor all the tears wash out a word of it.” I really don’t know when or under what circumstances, noted mathematician Omar Khayyam penned those words, but they stand out as solid advice for any writer. Once it is written; once it is out there for all to see, there is nothing you can do to lessen any pain it might cause. Therefore, before you write something nasty about another, give it Socrates triple filter test. First, do you know for certain that what you are about to write is true? The second filter is that of ‘goodness.’ Is what you are about to write something that will show or enhance the reputation of the person about whom you are writing? And, third, will what you are writing be useful for all to know? If you’re unsure that it’s true; if it’s insulting and has few if any redeeming qualities, and; if it’s not going to be useful to a wide audience, why bother to write it? All too often I’ve seen writers try to make a name for themselves just to enhance their own reputation by being nasty toward others. We really don’t need more hacks trying to act like political ad writers.

Writing, for me, is cathartic. I do what I do because I love doing it. As my late friend, Robert B. Parker, once told me, “The only way to learn to write is to write. Most of it will be garbage but somewhere in there, there might just be a nugget.” I’ve yet to find that nugget, but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying.

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I love watching football on television. By the time the end of August rolls around, I begin to get a bit quirky, thinking about all of the upcoming collegiate and professional football that will begin the first week of September and last into February. It’s thrilling to watch the runs, the tackles, the sweet feel of a long-completed pass for a touchdown or an equally long TD (that’s football talk) run as some Heisman candidate tiptoes his way down the sidelines for the “big gainer” that puts his team in position to “put six on the scoreboard” for the home team.

I tried playing football once. I didn’t mind all of the conditioning work or putting on all of that gear that made you look like something you could never be. I enjoyed it until our first scrimmage when Charlie Chimes (a real name, so help me), rang my bell with a block that sent me direct from the playing field to the local soda shoppe to enjoy a chocolate frappe. One hit; that’s all it took before I realized that this really was a sport that could be better enjoyed from the sidelines than on the field…safer and a hell of a lot healthier also. I had participated in games of tackle football without all that padding, and I guess we just didn’t hit that hard for fear of being hit harder in return. It wasn’t really even the hit that Charlie put on me; it was more the look in his eyes. You know, the kind that sends the message that says, “You are mine and I will grind you into little pieces and spit on them;” that kind of look; the one that immediately tunes up your brain, which sends its own message…get out of here now before you get yourself killed!

I watched Alabama play today. They have five offensive linemen who can run forty yards in under five seconds; not only that, but each of them weighs over 300 pounds. They don’t block their opponents; they eject them. To say that they enjoy what they do to opponents is akin to saying that the lions enjoyed their trips to the Coliseums to have dinner with the Christians. One can, I suppose, receive some solace in the fact that because these people weigh in at such a horrendous amount, one would never have to sit next to them in a classroom…a) there are no college classroom seats large enough or strong enough to hold them, and b) when did you ever see a Division I college football lineman in a collegiate classroom? That really isn’t fair, but there are far too many D1 players who are on the field Saturday afternoons only that they might reach the next level and someday be able to play on Sunday.

All of these ‘little’ things aside, When you look at the size of the stadiums in which these gladiators compete, you realize where Zeiss, Nikon, Swift, Bushnell, and Canon are making their money. In addition, I’ll bet that the oxygen vendors do a hell of a business in the top tiers. You mean you have to pay just to get a nosebleed…and that’s not even on the field? “Oh, it’s not the same on television,” these die-hard fans will tell you. They’re right. They’re so far away from the field that the sound of a touchdown doesn’t reach them until the next kickoff. As the season moves along, they’re freezing their collective butts off while I’m sitting in front of a warm fireplace chomping on popcorn, maybe having a little drinkie or two, and taking in all of the close-up action from less than ten feet away. With high definition television, I can even make out the tattoos on most of the players. What is it with these tattoos? Assuming that you do graduate from college, and assuming that you aren’t quite good enough for the NFL, how are you going to explain a body that looks like a roadmap to a prospective employer? Is this supposed to inspire confidence at Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Macy’s, or even MacDonald’s?  Uh, I really don’t think so. There really is life after football guys; before you decide that you wish to look like something out of the Metropolitan or the National Gallery, consider the consequences of your actions.

I kid about college football. It’s a great sporting spectacle. In addition to entertaining the students and alumni, it can also be the difference between a new chemistry lab or postponing its building. Big time football and a highly successful program is mana from Heaven for development officers and college presidents. We win on Saturday; our alumni appeals are answered positively until the next Saturday; we lose and don’t bother to make the calls.

Football is wonderful. It’s a great learning experience. If you’re like me, you learn that the first time you get hit by someone about twice your size just how great football can be…for someone else. I place much too high a value on my healthy body for continued participation. Being a spectator really has its advantages…no pain, no pain!

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Muslim true believers have every right to be upset about some film, made by some yahoo’s who are as crazy as any jihadist every thought of being. It’s wrong to be insulting to a true believer’s God, no matter what name he or even she goes by.

Now, that having been said, I’m willing to put up everything I have – the house, the car, the cash – to bet that less than half of the people who killed four Americans in Libya, and the assholes who attacked the American embassies in Egypt, and Yemen were true believers in Allah. They were a goddamned mob, led by a group of terrorists and with a mob mentality that seems far more common in the Middle East than it is anywhere else in the world. These were planned assaults designed to coincide with the week in which September 11th occurred.

You want to kill Americans? That’s fine, but just remember that retaliation can be a bitch. As far as this American is concerned, you have all stepped, once more, across the line between protest and terrorism. It’s fine to catch a few of the planners and quietly eliminate them from earth. They want their 72 virgins or whatever the number is up to now? Great, let’s send them on their way. However, those hangers-on, the joiners, the ones who wouldn’t dare do a damned thing without a mob of similar crazies behind them should also be punished. That bastard who was holding the star from the American flag; we can find out who he is…kill him. Those people on the top of the embassy wall, we have some great television footage of them. They can probably be identified by someone in the Libyan intelligence community…kill them. 

These do not appear to be people with whom one can reason. They understand rocket grenades, AK rifles, and sneak attacks. They say that they understand diplomacy; they lie through their teeth. This is a society – if that’s what one wishes to call it – that does not believe in peaceful coexistence. It’s a warlord society. The culture is not one which promotes democracy; they say they do and then prove on a regular basis that they do not. Where the hell do we get off thinking we can help these people? They-don’t-want-our-help! Jimmy Carter brings Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin together and they sign a peace treaty. What happens next? Sadat is assassinated.

It’s just not worth it for America to continue its efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East. My question to the President, to the members of the military, to the members of the intelligence community is simply this: Do you have terrorist training camps on your radar? We both know the answer to that. Perhaps my reaction is a bit harsh, but it is that the very minute we received word of the attack in Libya, two terrorist camps should have been removed, either by smart bombs or by something less obvious. No press releases; no television footage; just a couple of camps removed. Terrorists will know who was hit and why. We don’t have to brag about it. If the camps were in Libya, so much the better; if not, we are still sending a message.

This country has, for too long a period, attempted to justify its existence to the rest of the world. Let’s get over that erroneous thought process right now. If you slap us, we will hit you. We will no longer play like the scared kid in the schoolyard who wants everyone to be his friend; that usually winds up with no one being the kid’s friend and he gets his ass kicked daily.

Diplomacy is wonderful; it really is. Reasonable people with different views can almost always find a common ground and work their differences out. It’s consensus decision-making. Neither side may be one hundred percent satisfied, but each can live with the decisions upon which they have agreed. Time and time and time again, Middle Eastern nations have demonstrated that this is not the way in which they operate. The Middle East believes it has America in a stranglehold because of oil…and they’re right. We are dependent on foreign oil. So what does that say? Either we develop synthetics or we move away from fossil fuels as a source of blackmail by others.

“It’s not that simple,” you say? Tell that to the coal miner in Pennsylvania who’s till coughing up that black shit after every shift. Tell it to the farmers in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa whose crops failed this year because we didn’t know how to prepare for the type of 100-year drought that we’ve seen this year. Tell it to the elderly in Florida and Arizona who have to decide between food on the table and medicine that will keep them alive because Congress has to have its pissing contests about how we should care for our senior citizens.  Tell that to the  twenty-five percent of young children in America who are living in poverty. Sheldon Danziger, the director of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, said a UNICEF report does a good job of summing up what many economists have believed for a long time. “Among rich countries, the U.S. is exceptional. We are exceptional in our tolerance of poverty.”

“Danziger said he was especially impressed by a figure showing Canada and the U.S. have the same relative child poverty rate — 25.1 The chart also showed that after government taxes, benefits and other social programs, Canada’s child poverty rate drops to 13.1, while America’s barely budges, hovering above 23.1 percent.

“Basically, other countries do more,” he said. “They tend to have minimum wages that are higher than ours. The children would be covered universally by health insurance. Other countries provide more child care.”

With all of the problems that we have in our own backyard, we are supposed to tolerate what some malicious, vicious, ignorant, and arrogant mob does? I don’t think so. I don’t believe democracy will ever fully come to the Middle East. Why should we let it get in the way of where we wish to go?  If they push, we can push harder. It should not and would not lead to total annihilation of the planet. If ham-fisted diplomacy is what is called for, let us not be fearful of using it…oh, and as far as the idiots who made the film that started this whole brouhaha, let’s take them out to the middle of the desert in Egypt or Saudi Arabia, and have them do a film about God and the and the bleached earth He gave to us. A bottle of oil for each of them…oh, yeah!

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