Sunday, December 27, 2009

Forgot To Mention

No Sunday post today. Just too lazy and worthless.

What can I say? It's been busy.

Hang in there.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Not Like I'm Nostradamus Or Anything

But Bobby Petrino will be the next head coach at Florida. Don't say I didn't warn ya.

Friday, December 25, 2009

My Christmas Feeling

It always looked like great fun. On Christmas Day I would always see guys-mostly black guys-walking the course at War Memorial down the street. I took up the damn game about the time Mother went to assisted living in Conway. At least that is my recollection. Time doesn't exist in quite the same way anymore. So I may be off a by a few years.

In any event, I would always see guys out playing golf on Christmas Day while I was en route to spend time with Mom and I would think, "Boy, that looks like fun." Well, now I got the chance, or I would if it were not so damn wet out there. That and it's freezing today.

A friend asked me if I felt like an orphan now. She said that's the way she feels about herself since her remaining parent passed away a year or so ago. To me the question is a little fatuous. To my way of thinking, orphans get created by traumatic events early on in life. Certainly there is nothing remotely tragic about the passing of an elderly person who was terribly ill. But out of respect for my well meaning friend, I will ponder how I do feel.

And the answer is that I don't really know. I feel a strange disconnect from everyday life and my current memory problems are probably a symptom of that sense of disconnectedness. I am told this is "perfectly normal." It may be. But it is also a pain in the ass.

I am also told by well meaning people that they are sorry that Mother passed away during the holiday season. I never tell these equally well meaning people that I have always found Christmas to be sufficiently odious under the best of circumstances and that my "enjoyment" of the holidays will not be particularly diminished by the recent sad turn of events. Like I said, they mean well. So I don't tell them that.

But back to the golfers. I have always wanted to play golf on Christmas. And I have often wondered what it would be like to spend Christmas somewhere else. I know people that go to New York for Christmas. They watch the ice skaters. They take in some shows. I have always wanted to go to New Orleans. To see Papa Noel, the Quarter lit up, the bonfires on the levees. That always sounded like great fun. I hear San Antonio is pretty cool this time of year.

I have never acted on these feelings because I always felt like I needed to see Mother on Christmas Day even though in her last years she did not know Christmas from Arbor Day. I am not a particularly sentimental man. Neither do I ordinarily give in to superstition. And God knows I have very little use for Christmas.

But something made me always spend time with my Mom every Christmas morning. And so that is what I did. I can't do that any more.

Some bright Christmas morning, when you can get out there without being ankle deep in mud, I will go join the brothers out at War Memorial for a round of golf. Or I may walk down the Riverwalk alongside the Mississippi.

The world has changed since December 4th.

And I can leave now.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

The Itinerant Evangelist is an almost peculiarly American institution. At least the ones that made any money at it. St. John the Evangelist allegedly wrote the Book of Revelation while in stir. The apostles had no property and shared amongst themselves. John Wesley and Martin Luther didn't intend to be schismatics. But that's just the way it worked out.

No, the Oral Robertses of this world could only have sprung from the this side of the pond where not only your sins will find you out but they will find you out in Olathe, Kansas. And the God who made Heaven and Earth (and Olathe) will surely bend down and save you inside the tent if you will put let Him into your heart. You don't need no Pope. You don't need no fancy church. You don't need no preacher with a Ph.D wearing vestments. The words in red in the black book are all sufficient.

To what passes for his credit Roberts, unlike many of his ilk, never claimed to have healed anybody. Neither was he an out and out criminal. And although he enjoyed a lifestyle not exactly reminiscent of the early Disciples, neither was he the complete wastrel that his idiot son Richard turned out to be.

Oral Roberts is widely considered to have pretty much invented televangelism. Despite being what passes for the best of an exceedingly suspicious bunch that followed in his footsteps, Oral gave into his latent narcissism in his later life. He founded Oral Roberts University despite not being armed with an undergraduate degree. ORU bestowed unto him an honorary doctorate degree and he modestly allowed others to refer to him as "Dr. Roberts" from that day forward. Acting on the behest of a vision of a 900 foot vision of Jesus (which undoubtedly caused him to crane his head upward) he founded a medical school against the recommendation of the Oklahoma medical authorities.

To raise money for this dubious project, he holed himself up in the Prayer Tower on the campus of ORU and told the flock that God would "take him home" if 8 million bucks was not raised pronto. Amazingly enough, this worked. Alas, the medical school went bust. And this stunt pretty much precipitated the decline of Oral's earthly ministry. the keys for which he eventually turned over to the aforementioned wastrel and idiot Richard.

Back when Oral Roberts got his start, faith healing didn't seem to be so far fetched. Medical technology was fairly primitive then at least compared to what we have now. And if you think about it, when your state's economy depends on agriculture and whether Wildcat Willie can smell oil in that patch of land, well, Oral's audience in Oklahoma was well equipped to walk in faith in many different areas of endeavor.

Oral Roberts is hardly responsible for Fox News and Sarah Palin. But he ushered in this modern era in which palpable falsehoods are accepted on faith. Turn to cable TV or the Internet and you can find a world where evolution is not science, where global warming is a hoax and Barack Obama is not a citizen of this country.

Put your hand on the TV. Believe. And send us money.

Too bad Oral Roberts is not here treading the boards at the height of his powers in our present age. Too bad for him, that is.

My brother Bob and I were in Tulsa about 5 years ago to attend the funeral for my cousin Lesa. Lesa had finally lost her 9 year battle with Hodgkin's Disease.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vox Populi-A Debt to Society

A man was standing outside the Federal Building. He was smoking a cigarette and talking on a cellphone.

" Well, I'm through. It went OK I guess. What? Oh, not until 1. I don't have to see the other probation officer until 1. The one in North Little Rock."

You know it's a big day when you have appointments lined up with both the State and Federal Probation Officers.

You just can't make this stuff up.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Vox Populi: Season's Greetings

NV was in need of tortilla soup for lunch yesterday so we went to a Mexican joint down the road. There was a group of 3 women at the table next to ours. After we placed our order I heard a cell phone ring at the ladies' table. One of the them picked it up.

"Hey!" she said. " Anthony's in jail up in Wisconsin. Anthony. Your son. Yeah he's in jail up in Wisconsin. Wisconsin. No I don't know what he was doin' up there."

She paused to munch on her chips while evidently listening to Anthony's mom. Eventually she spoke again.

" Well see the problem is they got him on a 10 day hold. Which means I don't see how he can make it to Texas in time for Christmas. Anyway, you need to call up there and talk to your son."

And with that she closed the phone and blithely returned to her chips and salsa.

My Sunday Feeling

I wasn't surprised at the news that Tiger Woods had strayed from the marital hearth. Just because he is quite possibly the greatest golfer who ever lived does not make him any more immune from temptation than I am. I guess what I don't understand is how he thought he could get away with carrying on with so many women-I believe that the body count now is up to 10-on a simultaneous basis and get away with it.

Think about it. Tiger is probably the most recognizable athlete on a worldwide basis since Ali. He has made over a billion dollars and is thought to be worth some 600 million. I guess he invested some of that money with Madoff. Maybe that would account for the shortfall. Handsome, non-threatening and seemingly wholesome he made most of that money by endorsing products such as Buick and Nike. In short, he had a scrupulous personal image to protect.

Which makes his downfall incomprehensible to the average person hanging around at War Memorial Golf Course. How can somebody seemingly on top of the known universe be so stupid?

Who knows? Just because you went to Stanford doesn't make you smart. Just because you are constantly in the presence of acolytes doesn't mean you are getting good advice. Somebody in his coterie of yes men had to know what was going on. Or at least suspected it. Did somebody suggest to Eldreck that maybe his catting around might be bad for business? If they did, did he ignore them? Who knows?

As for me, my position on such matters is pretty simple. All of us has done something stupid that we would just as soon nobody ever finds out about. Maybe not as stupid as this but you get my drift. Whatever consenting adults do behind closed doors is none of my business. Nor is it yours. If he and Mrs. Tiger can get past this good for them. After all, it's not like he's accused of committing a criminal act. Unlike a certain local pastor, "certified" life coach and financial planner who got popped for allegedly performing oral sex on a 15 year old boy he met on the Internet. The only people Tiger hurt are his family and friends-if he really has any-and the folks that stand to lose a lot of money because of his all of a sudden turning radioactive.

No, the lesson here is that athletes are only role models by accident. All we know about these people is what they do on the field of play. Virtually anything else is crafted for us by image makers.

Woods announced last night that he was taking an indefinite leave from competitive golf. This is probably a good idea. He needs time to salvage his marriage if it can indeed be salvaged. He needs to figure out where that itch comes from that can only be scratched by models and porn stars.

He needs to forget Tiger Woods the brand for awhile in order to try to get to know Tiger Woods the human being. Which is the hardest thing any of us have to do.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light

This is a fairly modern Episcopalian hymn that is also found in the United Methodist Hymnal. This was the last hymn sung at Mother's funeral earlier this week. Not only is it one of my favorites but I thought that it was particularly apt, for a woman whose battle with depression and Parkinson's Disease had finally ended.

"In Him there is no darkness at all.
The night and the day are both alike."

This is the Mt. Pleasant Chorale and the Iowa Wesleyan College Choir leading the congregation of First United Methodist Church of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa in the singing of this great hymn.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

No post today. My Mother is not long for this world.

Which I guess is a post of sorts.

I will be back someday.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vox Populi: The Notre Dame Fan

Here is last night's text conversation between me and a friend who roots for the Irish who inexplicably lost again yesterday, this time to traditional basketball power UConn who has only been playing DI football since 2002 or something.

Me: Looks like the end for Charlie Weis.

NDF: Come home, Urban.

Me: Urban Meyer would be insane to leave Florida for the 24/7 psychodrama that is Notre Dame football. My personal choice for that job would be Jim Harbaugh if only to prove that the Irish would still suck with a white coach from Stanford. Besides, the Chicago papers say the coach at Cincinnati has the inside track.

NDF: That's what I've heard. I'm saying a novena for Urban.

Me: After all, why waste them on the sick and the poor?

NDF: That's what they're for, asshole.

Me: Ah! Might I suggest that ecumenicism is not exactly your strong suit?

I got no response. Somewhere Ty Willingham and Bob Davie are laughing their asses off.

My Sunday Feeling

I suppose, like Wal-Mart and Dillards, I might be accused of rushing the season. But here are my annual Reasons to Hate the Holidays.

1) Office Christmas parties.

2) Christmas parties.

3) Christmas music

4) Religious Christmas music, (and no I'm not being redundant) especially those exceedingly dreadful Christmas "cantatas."

5) Forced quality time with relatives.

6) Fruitcake.

7) Tedious debates concerning the appropriateness of graven images festooned upon public property.

8) Andy Williams

9) Christmas lights

10) Miniature "Dickens Villages" in front yards. Didn't anybody around here read "Bleak House?" When I think of Dickens I think of tuberculosis. I do not think quaint, happy thoughts.

11) Christmas specials on TV.

12) Presidential proclamations. Believe it or not, Jefferson and Madison thought such official pronouncements on religion as an inappropriate comingling of church and state. It's true. You could look it up.

13) School buses full of kids from the sticks clogging up Woodlane Avenue in front of the State Capitol making it hard for me to cut through on my way to lunch back in Hillcrest.

14) Business failures come January.

15) Reluctance on the part of the Courts to evict deadbeats during this time of year.

16) Buying presents.

17) Returning presents.

18) The inevitable spike in consumer bankruptcies that will take place @ February.

19) "The Little Drummer Boy."

20) Oh. Before I forget, "Hallelujah!' is from the damn Easter Section of "Messiah." Not the Christmas section.

21) Cranberries and cranberry sauce.

22) Christmas cards. I once got a Christmas card from a private investigator who once served me with a subpoena to appear in Court concerning a rather difficult child custody matter. It still hangs on the wall in my kitchen as a silent reminder to me that some people are way too much trouble than they are worth.

23) Drunks calling at midnight.

24) Branson.

25) I really do have a framed subpoena on a wall in my kitchen. No foolin'.

26) TV ads for car dealers and jewelers. Who buys jewelry at the mall anyway? Probably the same idiots that buy golf equipment at Sports Authority.

27) "The Night Before Christmas."

28) Even the dirty version.

29) The "orderly account" of the Nativity in the Gospel according to St. Luke. Which is anything but.

30) People referring to "Messiah" as " Handel's Messiah." Quick. Name another one.

Of course, I have engaged in hyperbole here. There are some good things about the Holidays. It comes but once a year. The tablepiece caught on fire two years ago at my brother John's house. That was fun.

And Bing Crosby's dead. That's about it.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vox Populi: The Country Banker

Me: Hello?

CB: Can I park at your house for the game?

Me: Sure. I don't care.

CB: You ain't goin'?

Me: Nah. It's on TV. I got stuff to do around here.

CB: You live at (insert address here)? Right?

Me: How did you remember that?

CB: I got a lien on your house.

Me: Oh yeah.

CB: That's nothin'. Susan back at the bank that actually closed the loan has your ass on her GPS in case she has to make a quick trip to Little Rock to discuss things.

Me: Y'all's faith in me is humbling.

CB: Bidness is bidness. See you in an hour.

Me: You can park in the driveway. You got a lien on that too.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

Curtis Vance caught two consecutive life terms from a Pulaski County jury that convicted him for the murder of local television personality Anne Pressly. He also was received another 20 years or so for burglary.

I am no criminal lawyer. But it seemed to me that the defense's strategy was not to piss the jury off in order to keep him off Death Row when it got to the penalty phase of the trial. And the fact of his guilt was never seriously in question to my mind. He foolishly gave 3 confessions to the police. DNA matched him up to both this crime and another rape in the little town of Marianna where a detective played a hunch and brought the knucklehead in for questioning for the rape there and ultimately tipped off the police here. Not enough credit has been given the Marianna PD for the solid police work that led to Vance's apprehension.

In any event, the only question to my mind, and to the minds of most other lawyers that I spoke to, was whether Vance would get the death penalty or spend the rest of his days in the joint. One of my criminal lawyer friends said on Facebook that as a "whodunit" the Curtis Vance case was not even particularly interesting.

Ah yes. Facebook. Where the pulse of the zeitgeist may be regularly taken on any subject on any particular day. And judging from the comments I read during the trial, there's a lot of people had what I perceive to be an unusual sense of personal vindication at the outcome of the trial. I know people in the media that were friends with Anne Pressly. By all accounts, and I mean all accounts, for all of her incandescent beauty she was a sober, religious and exceedingly proper young woman.

Her death was exquisitely brutal. She was raped and quite literally beaten to a pulp in a rent house situated in a neighborhood where violent crime is virtually unknown. The incomprehensible violence visited upon this woman in her bed created a spasm of fear in the Heights-Hillcrest part of Little Rock. The sale of handguns spiked. Women in the neighborhood took self defense classes. Women who thought nothing of walking alone started buddying up with their neighbors.

And so relief at the arrest and conviction of the man who killed a beloved public figure and created a panic among law abiding citizens is entirely appropriate. A feeling of personal vindication is not.

Some of the statements in the media and on Facebook have been nothing if not irresponsible. Pressly's mother was quoted as being angry with the defense lawyers for "protecting" the man that killed her daughter. She has been the model of grace and comportment up until now. Her wild grief has colored the better judgment she has historically displayed. In my book, she gets a pass.

Not so the Facebook posters who have stated that God moved the jury to convict (no disrespect to God, but Vance's big mouth helped the jury just as much), who have said that Vance deserves no more appeals or that they should have shot him right there in the Courtroom after the guilty verdict was read.

The people that write such things forget that there is a difference between punishment and vengeance. The criminal justice system attempts to mete out penalties that are proportionate to the offense, taking all the aggravating and mitigating factors into account. This is the job of the 12 people on the jury after they are instructed by the Judge.

Vengeance is personal. Criminal liability is the result of numerous factors only one of which is the act complained of.

From what I can tell everybody did their jobs. The Judge kept the proceedings from becoming a circus. The prosecution got a dangerous man off the streets for good and the defense kept him off Death Row.

No possible outcome in the Courtroom would have brought Anne Pressly back to her friends and family. Neither will irresponsible commentary from those who confuse the rule of law with vengeance.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Book Thrown

Evangelist, pamphleteer and major creep Tony Alamo caught 175 years from US District Judge Harry Barnes today. He was convicted of numerous counts of crossing a state line to transport minors in order to have sex with them.

He shouldn't despair. His lawyers will argue on appeal that the sentence is excessive. Why, with any luck the Eighth Circuit might cut his sentence back to a more clement 90 or so.

Have fun in prison, Bernie!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Whiter Shade Of Pale

Just when you thought you had heard the last of steroid using knucklehead Sammy Sosa, he has reemerged. And this time as a less sepia toned version of his former steroid using knucklehead self. He claims his bizarre appearance is due to a reaction to a cream he uses on his face. It is either that or the dude needs to get a little more sun on his face now that he is retired. Or maybe he is iron deficient.

Or maybe all those years of steroids has turned him into a white guy. If that's the case I have news for him. Being a white guy is not all it's cracked up to be. Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Cole Hamels are all white. You think I'm proud to be part of that demographic? Go see a dermatologist.

But not the one Wacko used.

Here's the AP story on the jump:

Monday, November 09, 2009

Vox Populi: The Taciturn Cardiologist

TC: I remember now that our birthdays are close together.

Me: Oh yeah. I forgot.

TC: Happy Birthday.

Me: Happy Birthday to you.

TC: Thank you.

Me: Thank you.

TC: OK. Now that we got that bullshit out of the way......

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Duty Calls

The usual Sunday offering will not be available this weekend as I am off to Heber Springs to attend a wedding.

Talk among yourself.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

The Birthers are downright apoplectic over the latest setback. As was reported here last Thursday, a Federal Judge in California granted the Government's Motion to Dismiss. You can find the case in last week's post on the subject. The lead attorney for the Birthers is a dentist/lawyer/real estate agent named Orly Taitz. Predictably, she has her own website which you can access here: .

If you will examine the response by Dr. Taitz Esquire to the post I Am Very Angry you will read that evidently she attempted to sue the President as an individual. I deduce this by her statement "I am not obligated to serve the US Attorney as I sued Obama as an individual for fraud that he committed as an individual." Evidently, and without going through the docket, the Department of Justice stepped in and substituted the United States as the Defendant instead of the named Defendants in their individual capacity.

As Rocky the Flying Squirrel used to say, "That trick never works."

First of all, the Birthers and other crackpot litigants have a unique conception of both what a filing fee will get you and what constitutes "fraud." The last time I was personally set upon by nutbar Pro Se Plaintiffs was around Y2K. They filed suit against me and other members of a Board I served on. Our lawyer-who was basically me-filed a Motion to Dismiss for various reasons. Our Motion was sent back to us by the Plaintiff stamped "Refused for Fraud."

I was curious about this, having never had a pleading refused for fraud or for any other reason and so I went to that well known repository of all things nuts-the Internet-to find out what was happening in the land of tin foil hats. Turns out there is a theory-concocted out of whole cloth-that the payment of a filing fee is a contract between the Plaintiff and the Court that means Plaintiff is immune from dispositive motions and gets a trial on the merits of any claim.

Secondly, "fraud" is a pretty expansive cause of action for these folks and basically means "anything Defendant did that we don't like." In the case that just got dismissed the fraud allegedly perpetrated by Obama is that he was not eligible to be President because he was born in Kenya.

Anyway, what I suspect happened was that the tried to get a Default Judgment entered against Obama when he didn't file an Answer within thirty days. The flaw with this theory-or one of them anyway-is that the United States gets sixty days to respond. If I have seen this stunt tried once I have seen it a hundred times.

The argument goes like this: I sued Obama not in his capacity as President but as an individual. Therefore the United States wrongfully substituted and (in this case) I am entitled to my Default Judgment because he didn't answer timely.

The defense probably went something like this: The lawsuit seeks to remove not only Barack Obama as President but most of the Cabinet. How could this suit against him not be in his official capacity as President since there is no other capacity in which he can so serve?

Ah, but to the Birthers and their ilk repose trust in what I call the "magic word" theory of law. If I say I am suing Obama as an individual then that is dispositive of the issue of his capacity. Which is, of course, ridiculous. And the Government soon resorted to the arsenal of technical defenses at its disposal, jurisdictional defenses, failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and Boy This Is Stupid. And there's nothing the nutbar litigant hates worse than a successful technical defense. Because then he doesn't get to go to Court and tell The Truth.

If you will go back to the Taitz's website you will note the usual reaction from the Birthers. The judge that ruled against them took a bribe. The judge was somehow "gotten to." The judge should be impeached. The judge lied to them at the start of the case by saying they would get a trial on the merits which I do not for a moment believe actually happened.

Everything but " Hey, these theories aren't working. Maybe we should cool it for awhile before I got sanctioned again." Or "Maybe I should just stick to dentistry."

But we all know this will never happen. Because it's all a conspiracy.

And there will always be those that are committed to The Truth. No matter what the facts are.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Crazytown Gets A Civics Lesson

US District Judge David Carter dismissed the Complaint brought on behalf of crackpot 3rd Party candidate Alan Keyes and others in which they sought a Declaratory Judgment that Barack Obama is not qualified to be President by the alleged reason of his foreign birth. They also asked the Court to, basically, declare the election of 2008 void.

In a masterful 30 page opinion the Judge basically said two important things. The first thing is that the Plaintiffs did not have standing to sue because they could not establish that they had been personally harmed by the election of an allegedly "unqualified" candidate. The Court pointed out that while Mr. Obama received over 90 million votes, Mr. Keyes received the electoral equivalent of the number of people in the Courtroom for oral argument. The harm to the Plaintiffs being entirely speculative, they did not have standing to sue.

Secondly, by waiting until after President Obama had taken the Oath of Office to file their cockamamie lawsuit, the Plaintiffs shot themselves in the foot. Once Obama took the Oath he was the President, the Court ruled. And as President of the United States he could only be removed by impeachment or due to disability. The Courts have no power under the Constitution to void an election or remove a President.

Undoubtedly these fools will appeal. But this is a very powerful Opinion that will be cited in future cases concerning the issue of standing and separation of powers.

So some good did come out of this. I guess.

Hit the link for the story in Salon where you can read the Opinion in full:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

After you hit 21, the only birthdays that really matter are the ones that end in zero. At least that's what one of the Miracle League dads opined yesterday. I don't know about that. 53 was a pretty big one. I had outlived my own dad by then which is not something every body with bad genes gets to do. At least not in Arkansas.

But 54 was pretty low key. NV had her kids so dinner with the grands took precedence over birthday celebrations. Which was fine with me. I knew that I would be pretty tired after running around with the ML kids all day. So sitting in my chair with a drink watching football sounded pretty good to me anyway. After all, I'm not getting any younger.

Birthday greetings have evolved over time. While I only got 3 paper cards this year, I got over a hundred e-mails, text messages and Facebook notifications commemorating this event. One of the birthday e-mails was from a local car dealer. Imagine how warm and gooshy that one made me feel.

Birthdays are far more important to little kids and being wished a Happy Birthday by a kid in a wheelchair or by a child that communicates by signing is especially poignant for some reason. Maybe it is because their complete and utter vulnerability is never far from one's mind. Birthdays are part of a finite time line. Some of these children will not make it to 54. They just won't. It's hard-it's impossible actually-not to count your blessings when you spend the day with these kids.

One of the kids was talking to NV about her dog. " Dad got her for me when my mother died. So I guess she would 3 years old by now." Afterwards NV said to me, " If I ever complain about anything ever again, just slap me."

Well, I won't do that. I don't hit girls. And I have a public record of having very little use for men who do. As in zero. But I understand the larger sentiment. And I agree with it.

Besides, there are worse ways to spend a beautiful Autumn day in Arkansas than hanging around playing baseball all day. Playing golf comes to mind. I got hugs all day from the good looking women that help out down there. And you thought my service to the Miracle League was entirely high minded. Shame on you. I got hearty handshakes from the men along with copious references to my advanced age and feeble mind. And that's as it should be.

Adult birthdays can be milked for at least a couple of weeks. It's a busy world and people got stuff to do. Time doesn't stand still just because yesterday means I lived longer than some folks would have wagered back in my twenties. I've got plenty of free lunches and dinners coming my way. Woo-hoo!

Spending your birthday under a clear blue sky with friends that you like and kids that you love is not a bad way to go about it.

Besides, just like NV says. I got no complaints. None at all.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

Between writing a review for the paper, doing homecoming at Catholic High, the Race for the Cure and Miracle League, and other things that are none of your business, I have no time for you this Sunday.


Monday, October 12, 2009

What Camel? What Needle?

Dallas area televangelist Kenneth Copeland made an appearance at one of the Big Box churches last Sunday. For the uninitiated, Copeland is one of the more successful of the Prosperity Gospel hucksters whose ranks have thinned with the recent passing of Rev. Ike. According to the account in the local paper, " If you have enough faith to move mountains, Copeland suggested, God can give you the desires of your heart: vigorous health, limitless wealth, unending happiness and eternal life..."
None of which Jesus says in my Bible.
And God knows he can speak with authority about limitless wealth. He has an 18,000 foot "parsonage', he owns a cattle ranch, he has a fleet of luxury vehicles and his own jet airplane. He also has the Senate Finance Committee and the IRS after his ass along with some other of his ilk. The account in Sunday's paper says that he has pretty much stiffed the Committee in its requests for answers to it's questions and so we may assume that Subpoenas will soon issue forth like manna from...oh, never mind.
I am conflicted when it comes to these TV preachers. On the one hand, I don't view them particularly as ministers. You never see them marry or bury. You don't see them holding an elderly person's hand in the nursing home. You don't see them talking down someone who is on the brink of despair. Nope. Can't make any money hanging around hospitals unless you are a doctor or a runner for a lawyer.
Do I view televangelists as criminals? Crooks, yes. Criminals, not so much. It is not illegal to ask people for money. And as long as you don't misrepresent where the money is going it is not illegal. And as far as I can see, Copeland pretty much makes it clear that the money is not going to fund a school in Honduras. It's going to his ministry. Which means it is going to him.
And I don't worry so much about upper middle class types in West Little Rock giving Kenneth Copeland a "love offering" as the paper reports they did. In tasteful buckets adorned with the church's logo. If they are stupid enough to waste their money in this fashion so be it. But I worry about the more vulnerable among us who don't really need to be donating precious resources to a man who by all accounts is already fantastically wealthy.
And Copeland should too. But this would require a sense of shame. And any man that flies into town on a private jet to invoke the Gospel in order to induce knuckleheads to give him buckets full of money is not likely to suffer over much from that condition.
Is this a great country or what?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

My friend George put up a post on Facebook earlier this week. I grew up with George. Played ball with him. We are two different people but we get along despite our differences. One of the differences is that George evidently listens to Rush Limbaugh because his post sounded an awful lot like some of the nonsense that Limbaugh puts out to the faithful on Twitter.

Anyway, George's post was to the effect of " Why is President Obama questioning the finest military minds of our era while our soldiers are dying?" The reason I suspect this post has its origin in a Limbaugh tweet is that you have to assume at least 3 things to ground the question in any sort of reality. Which is SOP for Limbaugh. Let's talk about them. Or I'll talk about them. You can read it if you like.

1) President Obama is meddling. Of course, this is not true. Pursuant to the Constitution, he is the Commander-in-Chief. And Presidents have long clashed with the military.

2) Generals David Patraeus and Stanley McChrystal are the finest military minds of our era. These two gentleman are certainly fine soldiers, patriots and military leaders. But these sorts of decisions are best left to history and not in the fog of war. In any event, that sort of hyperbole is best reserved for that day when George S. Patton and Omar Bradley return from the dead and take over the Command.

3) Which leads you-or causes you to stumble toward- the conclusion that this is why soldiers are dying in the field. Of course, this is not true. Soldiers would be dying in the field even if Obama blindly signed off on every recommendation from the brass.

But the folks that follow Limbaugh are not deconstructionists. They are, after all, dittoheads.

So I asked George if he thought soldiers wouldn't be dying in the field if Obama agreed with McChrystal. I also told him that I was reading a book by James MacPherson called "Lincoln at War-Abraham Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief and how, in the Foreword, MacPherson wrote that Lincoln understood that that military action cannot be considered in a vacuum. Military decisions cannot be divorced from politics. Politics make the policy and policy drives the decisions.

George merely disagreed. But one of his friends responded to our entirely civil conversation by calling me a "dickweed" and saying that Obama was basically ruining the country and he urged me to buy guns, gold and ammo.

Now this was just one guy popping off. But I haven't heard so much paranoid and apocalyptic discourse since Y2K when the phones and computers were supposed to crash at midnight New Year's Day and it was predicted that welfare cheats from the Delta were going to invade Huntsville.

A friend of mine is of the opinion that a quarter of the electorate is insane. I don't know about that but to suggest that President Obama shouldn't be questioning the advice from his military subordinates suggests a basic political and historical illiteracy-remember Sarah Palin suggesting that sharp questioning from reporters violated her 1st Amendment rights to free speech?-that I find disturbing.

Maybe I'm making too much of this. After all, a recent editorial piece by conservative columnist David Brooks cited statistics that tended to show that the influence of Limbaugh and Glenn Beck in actually affecting the vote was highly overrated. I sure hope so. Not so much because I disagree with their point of view-which I do-but that they are irresponsible.

All I know is that I am glad that Abraham Lincoln didn't have to arrive at his gut wrenching decisions about military matters in the age of Twitter and the 24/7 news cycle where people shout at Congressmen and references to Obama as a "nazi" are taken at face value.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Say That Again? I Won WHAT?

I am as surprised as the next guy that Barack Obama one the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. After all, he is the Commander-in-Chief of a country that is prosecuting 2 wars simultaneously and our drones and missiles have occasionally whacked guys in Pakistan who is at least a nominal ally. And, as one wag suggested, we attacked the moon this morning.

After all, he hasn't even been President a year. And while I can understand that the Nobel Committee appreciates the fact that since Obama has taken office the United States has, shall we say, adopted a less bellicose approach to diplomacy. It's not like he's really gotten any results yet. I take his selection as nothing more complicated as a long distance diss to W from Oslo as much as anything.

Predictably, the wingnuts who rejoiced at Obama's failure to bring in the Olympics last week are aghast at this morning's events. I mean, it's bad enough that he got elected President without even being born in this country. Now they are hauling off and giving him a prestigious award like he's a legitimate world figure or something. Equally predictably Obama's acolytes are all gaga over this unexpected gift from the left of left field.
Let me spread the balm of perspective upon all of this. First of all, the Nobel Peace Prize, like the Olympics is over-rated. I mean, they gave one to Henry Kissinger for chrissakes. And to the loons that are apoplectic over this recent turn of events I say "Stuff it." It's their prize. They can give it to whoever they goddamn well want. Show a little class and at least congratulate the man for being-I think-the 4th sitting President ever to receive it.
It honors our country which you purport to love. Whether you like it or not.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

There's No Fool Like An Old Fool

I don't know what planet I was on last weekend but I somehow missed the news that golfer Greg Norman and tennis legend Chris Evert had split the sheets. After 15 months.

If you will recall, Evert was married to former pro skier Andy Mill who was laboring under the impression that he was Greg Norman's best friend when his wife and Norman started carrying on. Norman had to pay his ex-wife $100 million-that's right-$100 million to go away. Their modest and understated wedding only cost another $500,000.

And now this. The British tabs said they couldn't agree on anything much less a place to live. Norman's adult kids are said to despise Chrissie. As for Andy Mill, he said something to the effect that while he would have taken a bullet for Greg Norman, he didn't anticipate that it would be actually fired by Greg Norman.

As my brother John is wont to say about similar, albeit less expensive, forays into doomed relationships, " This situation was not managed well." Ummmm nooooo.

My advice to Norman? Stick with the golf and the wine business. And next time you feel an itch you need to scratch, talk to your accountant.

There are cheaper and less tawdry ways to find girls.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

Despite the lobbying of the President and the First Lady, the bid entered by the City of Chicago to host the next Olympic games was rejected in favor of Rio de Janeiro. For which the good folks of the Chicagoland area should say two words. Thank God.

There is no more relentlessly hyped, thoroughly corrupt, PED infected and civic bankruptcy inducing event on Earth. Michael Jackson's funeral was tasteful and cathartic by comparison. Next to the Olympics the Super Bowl is a modest schoolgirl. Chicago, or New York or whoever else in this great land of ours thought they wanted to host this headache, should thank their lucky stars that Rio successfully out bribed the other cities that sought the hand of the faux royalist grifters that make up the International Olympic Committee.
Don't get me wrong. I love Chicago. But I cannot imagine what an unmitigated cluster it would be to get the various venues up and running by the time of the drag show known as the opening ceremonies. Between the corrupt politicians in the City and State and the Unions, people would be turning themselves into pretzels trying to get a piece of the action.
I get up there every 3-5 years or so. The construction out on the Dan Ryan Expressway is a continuous buzz of activity. The only place I have ever seen where the road work is similarly unending is I-55 through Jackson. They have been working on that stretch of road for 20 years. I don't get it.
Or take Millennium Park in the heart of the Chicago Loop. Sure, it's a beautiful place. But my buddy up there said the cost over-runs eventually hit 500 million. Imagine how the cash register would ring when the unions put a gun to the head of the IOC.
As if the prospect of all of the above were not sufficiently alarming, just think of the security angle. For a big city Chicago, by and large, is pretty safe. But whenever the Olympics are held the host city immediately becomes the target of nuts and terrorists. And then you have your tin-horn potentates that will come to town bringing with them their own entourage of acolytes and security types. As if dealing with the Mob weren't headache enough.
No Chicago you are far better off obsessing about the Cubs and the Bears. Better to leave this ersatz spectacle to the folks that don't have much else to do. On the other hand, running the Marathon south of the border should be interesting. It won't be hot and humid or anything. I'll watch that.
But I have a question, Chicago. Greasing palms is second nature to you people. It's how things get done over there.
How did y'all get outbribed by Rio? Mayor Daley is spinning in his grave.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Program Note

The blogosphere will no doubt be the poorer for this but the usual Sunday piece will not run until Sunday night or Monday. Between work, shooting a high school football game, Miracle League, attending the wedding of one of my best friend's daughter, and going to see Mother at the nursing home, I am covered up this weekend.

Any of you contributors that feel led to jump in, please do so.

Write if you get work.

Bye. Off to the stadium.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Long Arm Of The Law

People have asked me various questions about the Roman Polanski situation. And despite the fact that I am not a criminal lawyer, I think I have a pretty good handle on some of the answers. So here goes:

1) He committed the crime (raping and drugging a 13 year old girl) in the late seventies. Hasn't the statute of limitations run? No. The SOL applies to the period of time the State has to bring the charge. Polanski pleaded guilty thereby tolling the statute. There is no SOL on apprehension of a fugitive. So Polanski is, shall we say, SOL.

2) Why did he flee the United States? Rank cowardice is the easiest explanation. But his people say-and who knows if this is true- that the sentencing judge-now deceased-was influenced by an improper communication from a prosecutor not involved with the case to impose incarceration beyond the 30 days in a psychiatric facility Polanski caught initially. But it is said that this was immediately interpreted by Polanski as a potential miscarriage of justice. So before you could say, "Sacre bleu!" he was headed for France.

3) Why didn't the United States ask France to extradite him? I did not know this until the other day but Polanski was born in France which makes him a French citizen. Most countries, the United States included, will not extradite a citizen except for the most heinous of offenses. Statutory rape evidently is not one of those offenses. Besides, it is my understanding that France's concept of what crimes they will extradite over is something of a fluid concept. It could be that France would have been loathe to send an artiste like Polanski back to face the music at the hands of barbarians back in the States.

4) What did it take so long to extradite him? I mean he was running around making movies and stuff while he was on the lam and stuff? Unlike what is shown on cop shows on TV and in the movies, it is really hard to trace money and people. I mean, the entire intelligence apparatus of the United States and Great Britain have been looking for Bin Laden since 9/11. How has that worked out for them?

Further, and I am engaging in speculation here, despite the heinousness of the crime, Polanski was a relatively low level offender that didn't really justify that level of scrutiny. This is especially important when you consider that the victim received a large settlement and forgave Polanski. Besides, L.A. law enforcement was busy fucking up the prosecutions of OJ Simpson and Robert Blake for a large part of this time.

5) So how did they catch him? Polanski's lawyers recently filed a Motion to have his conviction overturned. This was a dubious strategy for two reasons: 1) American courts typically don't view post-conviction motions for relief filed by a fugitive with favor. I mean, when you take a powder you ain't exactly working with the system. So legally it was a dubious strategy in the first place which undoubtedly had the secondary effect if 2) pissing them off according to various news reports and putting Polanski back on the radar screen where lo and behold they found out that the Zurich Film Festival was going to give him an award. They asked the Swiss authorities to pick his ass up pursuant to the extradition treaty between the two countries. Which they did. Nice work counselors!

6) Isn't it kind of ridiculous to extradite a 74 year old man who isn't exactly accused of war crimes? Sure, especially when evidently the prosecutors failed to make him surrender his passport back when he pleaded out in the first place. Which makes them kind of complicit in my view.
But legally, it's a pretty simple case. I am assuming that even in Switzerland Polanski would have a hard time making bail because, well, he's a flight risk. Duh. Once they get him back here in the US they can and will charge him with all kinds of stuff. And he will go to jail. Once again hubris and narcissism is the downfall of yet another smart ass who was squarely in the cross hairs of The Man.

Somebody put on my Facebook page that Woody Allen has come out in his defense.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

We were sitting at the kitchen table when the kid asked me, "Have you ever been stoned?"

"Huh?" I replied.

"Have you ever been stoned?"

"On drugs?"

" Yeah."

"No. I never fooled around with drugs," I said.

"How about alcohol?"

" Yeah. But not in a very long time."

He put the question to his Mom. Her response was the same.

One never knows what is percolating around in a teenager's brain. Maybe he confused my laconic aura and red eyes with some form of intoxication. I have a defense. I was tired from running around for 8 hours with the Miracle League kids and I had forgotten to put in my new eyedrops, which judging from the price, are made from water hauled in from the Shrine at Lourdes. Secondly, it was 8:30 at his mother's house. We were having a glass of wine. C'mon.

Maybe he just wanted to talk. He just turned 14, I am pretty sure. 14 or 15. That's certainly an age where one is typically first confronted with certain temptations with which we all contend with varying degrees of success for the rest of our lives. Better he get his information from adults than from one of his knucklehead associates.

God knows I have had the "good time fun" in the immortal words of Arlo Guthrie. But after awhile, once you start accumulating a few objects you start to make the risk calculation. My friends and I talk all the time about how we are generally at home by 9 or so. About how it's not worth it. We have all become what we once would have derided as "no fun." And that's OK. As one of my buddies once said, "The people that still party hearty in their late forties and fifties are referred to as alcoholics." As for me, God in His unquestioned wisdom granted unto me a fail-safe device.

I get tired pretty easily nowadays. And thank God for that. And as for street drugs, I wouldn't begin to know where to obtain them if I were so inclined.

I hardly would call my friends a bunch of sticks-in-the-mud. But I scarcely know anybody who smokes cigarettes. I discovered a cigarette butt in the empty base of a flower pot on my front porch. I had to think long and hard before deducing that it was most likely left there by a lady friend who has taken up the infernal habit once again while she is going through many troubles. Which was the reason she presented herself at my little house in the first place. And once her life settles down, I suspect she will kick it once again with renewed vigor.

H.L. Mencken once said something along the lines of "Vice is too dangerous to be left in the hands of the virtuous. It should only be dabbled in by the sinful who know when to fool with it and when to let it alone."

I've been lucky in that regard. For the most part I've known when to fool with it and when to let it alone. And the older I get the more I let it alone. My Uncle Howard no longer partakes in the amber liquid. This is an outcome as unlikely to me as his not breathing oxygen. But he said he just wasn't interested in it anymore. He just lets it alone.

The kid didn't ask anymore questions or let us know what caused him to broach the subject. Maybe it just popped into his head. He's a kid. There's not much of a filter between his brain and his mouth.

Like all of us, he will have to make his own choices and choose his own path. And he's a really good kid. I just hope that he learns to make an accommodation with trouble. And that he learns when to fool with it and when to let it alone.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Henin back. More drama for women's tennis?

Henin back. More drama for women's tennis?

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Vox Populi: Them Old Cotton Fields Back In Atlanta

The following is a text message from yesterday:

tmfw: Have y'all been getting all that rain out there in North Carolina?

Don: Not around here yet.

tmfw: It's been raining like crazy here. The cotton people say that the crops are dropping to the ground and mildewing.

Don: Well, when them cotton bolls get rotten you can't make very much cotton.

tmfw: This is based on personal experience right?

Don: Well, when I was just a little bitty baby my Mama would rock me in that cradle.

tmfw: I know for sure that you don't know the first damn thing about cotton farming. I know that you didn't spend your infancy in Louisiana. And for the record, there's no place in Louisiana that's just about a mile from Texarkana.

Don: I have to go now.

tmfw: Take an umbrella to work tomorrow.

Don: Bye

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

I tried to think of when I was last in an elementary school and concluded that to the best of my knowledge it was 13 years ago when I went to pick my nephew Eli up from school to take him to the hospital when his brother Henry was born. I once walked over to Holy Souls to to get FSO's boys when she was jammed up at the restaurant but I didn't get have to go any further than the playground. Suffice it to say that it had been awhile.

But there I was a week or so ago at Marguerite Vann Elementary School in Conway to be the "secret reader" for my nephew Max's second grade class. While I had never done anything like this before I figured I could get through it as I can read pretty good for a lawyer. Besides it beats working.

I stood in the office and they called for the Vice-Principal who would usher me back to Max's class. There was artwork up and down the hall at chest level to me. I forgot that's how they hang art at a kid's school.

After a few minutes Jeanne the VP showed up. I actually have known Jeanne since the 7th grade or so. She still speaks to me despite that fact.

"I'm glad you could do this," Jeanne said, as we walked arm in arm down the hall. " Max will be so surprised."

"I know," I said. " He hasn't seen me sober very many times."

She stopped and looked at me over the top of her glasses. Whoa. I hadn't gotten an official "teacher look" since high school. It did not bring back fond memories.


" It better be."

I kept my mouth shut until we got to the class.

"You stand here out of sight and look through this window. I'm going to go in and tell the class that I have a surprise for them. When I tug on my ear, that's your cue."

I stood in the hall and bent over to look through the glass. It was like I was in a structure that was designed for midgets. Which in a very real sense I was. Young teachers were going up and down the hall. I never had elementary school teachers that were as hot as the ones I beheld that afternoon. Probably just as well. I had focus issues as a young kid. Having sexy teachers would not have helped on that score.

I looked back through the glass to see Jeanne yanking her ear lobe as if it were the pull cord on a lawn mower. Shit. I was on!

As I walked in, Max's little eyes resembled a slot machine.

" Who's that, Max?" Jeanne asked.

" It's Unc...Unc...I mean it's my Uncle...."

"Paul." she said gently.

"It's Uncle Paul!"

"This is gonna be fun." I thought to myself.

"Class," the teacher said. " This is Max's Uncle Paul. He came aaaaallllllllllll the way from Little Rock to read for us. Say hello."

"Hello Uncle Paul!" came the voices below me.

There were two chairs at the front of the class. One for me and one for Max. The teacher asked me to tell the class what I did for a living. Explaining the practice of law to 8 year old kids is not the easiest thing.

" Wellllll," I said. " Sometimes when people can't agree they have to go see the Judge, who is very wise, to decide stuff for them. And people hire lawyers to help explain their side of it to the Judge."

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" was the response.

A hand shot up. I pointed.

"What do you like to do for fun?" a black kid asked.

I told them that I liked to read, take pictures, play golf and libel people on this blog. I then put Max in a headlock and started acting like I was pounding his head.

"And I like to beat Max up!" I yelled.

"He really does too," said a familiar little voice from beneath my armpit.

The class roared. Like I said, this was gonna be fun.

After that, I read a couple of books. One was about a little Chinese boy named Ping who wanted to grow flowers to impress the Emperor. The other was about a teacher who liked to wear funny ties.

And that was that. I thanked the class for letting me come read to them and I wished them a good day. I also told them that if they studied hard they could go to LAW SCHOOL!

Ok. That part was a lie.

I asked Max's mom the other day what he had to say about my cameo appearance.

" Not much," Shirley said. " He said he got to sit next to you in the front of the class."

"That's it?"

"Look," she said. " Small children are in their own little worlds. They don't remember what you DID. They only remember that you were there. And because you were there Max got to sit in the front of the class."

Which I guess is pretty big stuff when you are 8.

The teacher asked me if I would come do it again. I told her that I would be happy to.

I have to come aaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllll the way from Little Rock. But Max will get to sit in the front of the class. I guess that's pretty big stuff when you are 8.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Stakes Are High

In his column today Wally Hall actually wrote the following sentence about tomorrow night's game against Georgia:

"When the teams meet Saturday night, it will be with anxious anxiety."

You cannot make this stuff up.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another Example Of The Lack Of Civility In Our Society

As far as baseball fights go, this is a good one. As ESPN Magazine's Bill Simmons has pointed out, you could drop a running chainsaw in the middle of most baseball fights and still nobody would get hurt. This one looked like they meant it.

And they say baseball players don't care anymore......

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

Forget the debate about health care reform. Let not your heart be troubled over a congressman yelling at the President during a speech before a Joint Session of Congress. Do not be troubled by the apparent fact that a not inconsiderable number of the citizenry repose trust in the lunatic raving put out by the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs of this world.

No. For high drama you need only turn to women's tennis!

Let's set the scene. Serena Williams was playing unseeded Kim Clijsters in the semi-finals of the US Open last night. And she was getting it handed to her. Clijsters was ahead in the match 6-4, 6-5 and Serena was serving at 15-30 to try to force a tiebreaker. On her second serve she was called for a foot fault, meaning her foot had touched the service line as she served. This made it 15-40 whereupon Serena went off on the line judge as you can see here at the jump:

Accounts vary as to what Serena actually said to the judge. The New York Times reported that she used profanity. Comcast reported that Serena told the line judge that she could "ram the ball down her throat." The line judge evidently told the Chair Umpire that Serena threatened to kill her. And that was enough to give her a penalty point. But she didn't have a point to give and Clijsters was awarded the match.

Now some of you might be asking: Penalty point? Did tennis come down hard on Serena to protect the officials as the NBA or Major League Baseball might have done? Of course not. Tennis is too pussy a sport to do anything like that. On the tape you will not hear the Chair say " Code Violation Miss Williams. Thugging out on the line judge. Penalty point."

No. Serena had reacted to the loss of the first set by destroying a racquet which got her a warning for racquet abuse. The next step in the progression is a penalty point. Which we now know threatening a line judge will get you. And at 15-40 she had no points to squander in that fashion. Game,set, and match Miss Clijsters.

On the tape you will hear noted diplomat John McEnroe bitch that a foot fault should never have been called at that point in the match. McEnroe, who got his own self thrown out of the Australian Open 20 years ago after a heated discussion with the Chair and got disqualified from the US Open for showing up late for a match , is right. These guys foot fault all the time.

And this has already sparked NBA gambler level paranoia in the press and on the Internet. Michael Kay on the Sports Reporters has speculated that Serena basically threw the match so she could blame the ignominy of losing to an unseeded player to getting jobbed by the officials. As if Cljisters showed up from the St. Vincent's tournament here in Little Rock. As if she were Melanie Oudin.

Clijsters, was unseeded because she retired to have a baby and to mourn the death of her father, soccer legend Leo Clijsters, from she says she inherited her steel girder like legs. Prior to that she was a former top 10 player and past US Open champ herself.

Whether Serena threw the match, which is unlikely, or lost her shit at a really bad time which is more likely is beside the point. The WTA is a joke. The Williams sisters pretty much show up to play in Majors when it suits their purposes and routinely mow down the field. Clijsters lays off a couple of years, comes back and does likewise. A 17 year old high school kid cuts a swath through a bunch of Russian models with no other weapons except young legs and a head that's screwed on straight.

You wouldn't see this kind of stuff on the men's side where Federer and Rafa are now starting to get dinged up by the field. And you haven't seen a Serena level meltdown in a Major in the men's game since Jeff Tarango retired. I think he retired. Either that or he was institutionalized.

I may watch the finals tonight. One thing everybody in the claw-your-eyes-out world of the WTA agrees on is that it is good for the game that Clijsters is back because she is such a nice person.

Imagine that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Backfire in Crazytown

There must be something in the water down there that causes Republicans in South Carolina to take complete leave of their senses. First, the governor leaves the state on Father's day weekend, lies about his whereabouts and goes to Argentina to fool around with a woman he would later describe as his "soul mate." And last night Congressman Joe Wilson, shouted "You lie!" at President Obama as he was addressing the Congress about health care reform in question.

Now there has been no dearth of lyin' during this exceedingly fractious debate on health care. Most of it, if not all, has been put out by right wing radio pundits and the whack jobs that subscribe to their bullshit. Think "death panels" and "no health care for Gammie." What riled Rep. Wilson was Obama's statement that he never proposed health care for illegal immigrants. Which actually is the truth.

Look, I think it might actually be a good thing for the President to go to Capitol Hill from time-to-time to take questions from the legislative branch much as the Brits do. I used to watch various Prime Ministers engaged in vigorous debate during "Question Time." It was great fun to watch and damned if the participants didn't seem to be enjoying it as well.

But the Brits are a civil lot who enjoy verbal jousting. Here across the pond we have folks who are convinced despite all evidence to the contrary that the President was not born in the United States. We have guys packing guns outside venues where Mr. Obama is speaking. Here we have a radio host who says that the President "obviously has a deep seated hatred of white people." This despite the fact that Obama's mother was white as were one set of his grandparents. And we have at least one Member who called the President a liar on national TV. There is a difference between strong disagreement with a proposed policy and calling somebody a liar.

But Wilson's big mouth and hot temper may have backfired on him. His opponent in the next election raised $300,000 overnight. His behavior has been condemned by people on both sides of the aisle. Undoubtedly some folks who might have approved of such an intemperate display were disappointed when Wilson apologized. That's not gonna help him any with the wing nuts. And he may have stiffened the resolve of wavering Dems to get some version of this damn thing passed for no reason other than to show folks that the country is not run by utter fools.

But in the meantime maybe the GOP ought to check the water down there in the Palmetto State. There's something that's making some of your elected officials bad crazy.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

No MSF today Sports Fans! I'm taking the weekend off. Be back at it soon!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

In considering the life of the late Edward Moore Kennedy, I kept coming back to the same thought. Namely, I can think of no politician other than Bill Clinton who could inspire more pathological rage in some quarters than Ted Kennedy. Sure there are lots of people that are riled up at Barack Obama. But it's early in the game for his Presidency. And I think most folks are willing to be patient with him seeing as how he inherited an ungodly mess from his predecessor.

One of the regular commentators on my Facebook page is a conservative physician who has no use for the Kennedys. She recently allowed as how she was disgusted that "the left" (as she put it) romanticized Kennedy's life here in the last week without sufficient regard for the messy personal life of his early years.
OK. Fair enough. Let's compare and contrast the public record of both Kennedy and, say, George W. Bush.

Kennedy was born into wealth and privilege. Ditto W. Kennedy went to Harvard where he was kicked out for cheating on a test. W went to Yale where by all accounts he was an indifferent student at best. Kennedy served two years in the Army at a NATO post in France arranged by his father. W's dad got him into the Air National Guard during Viet Nam. W got an MBA from Harvard. Kennedy got a JD from Virginia.
Kennedy got elected to the Senate at 30. W lost his first race for Congress. Kennedy stayed put in the Senate until his death. W was a nominal partner in an oil and gas company in Midland, Texas where he met his future wife.

W wrecked a car while driving drunk. Ted killed somebody doing the same. W quit drinking. Kennedy struggled with it off and on. His first wife Joan entered rehab. They ultimately divorced. W and Laura are still married.

W ran a the Texas Rangers where they passed on a guy named Sammy Sosa. In retrospect this was a good move. W ultimately got elected Governor of Texas. Kennedy decided to unseat Jimmy Carter. He lost when he really couldn't articulate why he was doing it " I fucking hate Jimmy Carter" being no good reason to run for President.
Kennedy returned to the Senate where he became known as a master of bipartisan compromise despite his liberal credentials. He met Victoria Reggie (who was a year ahead of me at Tulane. No kidding.) and they married thus ending the fractious personal life that was his undoing despite his achievements in the Senate. Kennedy is said to have become more devout in his Catholicism. W remains a devout Christian and nominal Methodist with evangelical leanings.

W stole the Presidential election in 2000 although he was aided mightily by the Democrats failure to carry Arkansas or Tennessee which would have put them safely over the top. Kennedy tells Esquire magazine about this that he can work with anybody. This horrifies liberals. W presides over a completely partisan White House, starts one unnecessary war based upon, shall we say, dubious intelligence, erases the balanced budget of the Clinton years, and ignites the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression due to his Administration's failure to adequately regulate the financial system.
The point? Ted Kennedy and George Bush have more in common than either their supporters or detractors would admit. Kennedy's reputation for boozing and womanizing was legendary and exposed him to charges of being a hypocrite and a phony. A friend and I were talking the other day and agreed that Ted Kennedy should have thanked his lucky stars that the Internet and cell phone cameras weren't around during much of his adult life. There is no way he could have survived digital technology in his younger and wilder days.
And yet. I predict that history will judge one of these men with kindness.

Want to guess which one?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vox Populi: A Nice Lady In Area Code 479

Me: Hello? May I speak to Anna?

Nice Lady (NL): Speaking..

Me: PM over at the paper called..

NL: Yes! Thank you for calling me. Did he tell you that I was moved about your story-your article- about your Mama?

Me: Yes ma'am he did.

NL: Did he tell you what I told him about my Mama?

Me: Yes ma'am I think he did.

NL: Can I tell it to you?

Me: Yes ma'am.

NL: Mama had Parkinson's just like your Mama. She was in the nursing home. Skin and bones just like your Mama.

Me: Yes ma'am.

NL: I'm a Baptist. I believe in God's presence.

Me: Yes ma'am.

NL: God appeared in my mama's room and asked her if she was ready to go. I heard it plain as day. Mama told the Lord she was ready to go. I heard that plain as day. And then she went on.

Me: Wow. Goodness.

NL: I'm in a wheelchair. My husband. Well, he's blind.

Me: I'm so sorry. Thank you so much for thinking about me.

NL: Losing your Mama will be hard on you. You call me if you need to talk.

Me: Yes ma'am I will.

NL: I've talked your ear off. I guess you need to go.

Me: Yes ma'am.

NL: You call me if you need to talk.

Me: Yes ma'am. Good luck to you and your husband.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

There is no joy in the Bluegrass State. Louisville's Rick Pitino admits to knocking up a whack job. And last Thursday brought the news that the NCAA stripped the Memphis Tigers of all their victories in 2007-2008 for using an ineligible player, namely NBA Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose. The Tigers were coached by one John Calipari shown above in his first presser as the new coach of the Kentucky Wildcats.

Kentucky now holds the distinction of having a coach in their employ who has taken two teams to the Final Four only to have both trips voided by the NCAA. Marcus Canby signed with an agent. Derrick Rose had somebody take the SAT for him. Calipari swears he knew nothing about either procedural difficulty involving these players.

Which is highly unlikely.

A review of the NCAA's "Public Infractions Report" concerning the Memphis Tigers under Calipari's watch is instructive and should be required reading for every Wildcats fan. The gist of the case against the basketball team is that Derrick Rose was ineligible based on some funny test scores that he failed to explain away. They were also penalized over the coach of the women's golf team's unseemly overtures to some of her players. But that is neither here nor there.

Concerning the ineligibility issue, the report states that Rose-identified as "Student-athlete 1"-took the ACT 3 times in his hometown of Chicago and flunked same thrice. In May of 2007, he went to Detroit and took the SAT which he passed. He certified as eligible by the NCAA upon that basis and on he went to don the Blue and White.

By October, the Inspector General of the Chicago Public Schools (the fact that they have an Inspector General tells you all you need to know about the state of public education in Chicago) notified Educational Testing Services that there were some alleged improprieties concerning the SAT Rose passed in the Motor City. ETS started its own investigation. By now, we are into the college basketball season and the Memphis Tigers are running roughshod over Conference USA with Derrick Rose at the point.

In March, ETS writes Rose to notify him of discrepancies between handwriting samples taken from the 4 tests. Seems the handwriting on the SAT didn't match up exactly with the handwriting on the 3 ACTs Rose flunked. Rose did not respond. ETS wrote him again in April. Again Rose failed to respond. ETS invalidated the SAT score and turned it over to the NCAA and away we go.

Memphis's defense was that a) the NCAA Clearinghouse ruled that Rose was eligible when it appeared he passed the SAT and b) it didn't have sufficient information at the time to suspect that he would be ruled ineligible later. Let us turn now to the Report.

NCAA Committee Member: [I]f you have a test score that is invalidated, you didn't have the scores to be admitted to begin with. Where am I wrong?"

University Legal Counsel: At the time he was admitted on the score that was provided at the time, is that your question? Was he eligible, in looking backwards, whether he was eligible or not?

NCAA Committee Member: Yes. He didn't have the score.

University Legal Counsel: We have acknowledged that.

Committee Member: You have acknowledged that he was ineligible.

University Legal Counsel: Yes, and we have to address that, based on after-the-fact information.

Committee Member: It doesn't matter.

There is no sentence a lawyer hates to hear worse than " It doesn't matter." And upon that basis Memphis is stripped of 38 wins, the runner-up trophy and it must cough up @ 600 grand.

And where is the "student-athlete?" He is starting his second season in the NBA. Last year he was the Rookie of the Year. And Calipari left Memphis one step ahead of the Sheriff. Just as he did at UMass.

Calipari is nowhere mentioned in the Report. But do you believe for one minute that he didn't have any reason to suspect that there was some funny business with the SAT results? The kid flunked three times in Chicago and manages to pass when he gets a change of scenery? In Detroit? You don't think that Rose didn't ever mention to Coach Cal during March Madness that the ETS was bugging him about the test results? Do you believe that?

And guess what? This isn't the first time down this path for Memphis either. They got their Final Four season under Dana Kirk invalidated about 15 years ago. You would think that the prudent thing, once they got wind that the NCAA or ETS was poking around, would have been to sit Rose until they got it worked out. But no.

Look, DI men's sports is a cesspool. And basketball is the bottom of the cesspool. As Mile Lupica says, guys like John Calipari don't hire themselves. And now Kentucky, a known NCAA recidivist itself, has got a guy at the helm that will go down in history as one of the bigger cheaters in the game. I mean, c'mon. Even Jerry Tarkanian didn't have 2 Final Fours voided.

But Calipari has also brought in a recruiting class some have said is the best ever in college basketball. Which is why the bluebloods in Lexington held their nose and hired a known recruiter of thugs in order to up the ante in the dirty arms race between them and Louisville. It's just business.

But don't be surprised at whatever may happen down the road. Just sayin'.