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'.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This Here's Not The End Of The World

Thus spake Antwon Womack who got caught lying about his age and educational status in his bid for the Birmingham School Board. Thank God nothing like that could possibly happen here in Little Rock. Right?

Check it out. It's hilarious.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Padraig Harrington Amazing Shot 2nd Round 2009 PGA Championship

Don't try this at home, kids!

My Sunday Feeling

"Times aren't easy, but if I can get through 9/11, I can get through anything in my life. And I got through 9/11 and there's nothing ever going to come close to that. We'll get through this in a positive way and move on."

Rick Pitino

Note to self: If ever I am drinking late some night in a bar-What the hell. It could happen.-and a woman with whom I had chatted earlier in the evening returns looking for me and starts "hitting on me" I should immediately call for a cab. If however, we start getting busy in the floor of the restaurant, and should she inform me in the process of said getting busy that she is not compliant with a birth control regimen and that this will require me to "pull out" then I hope that I have the sense to quickly jump up and run out the door.

But if I don't have sense enough to get myself into the night air at that point, at least I would hope that I didn't knock her up. Or that if I did, it would not be in a Roman Catholic town like Louisville and that my babymamma wouldn't turn out to be crazy, an extortionist or both.

But as Louisville Head Basketball Coach Rick Pitino now well knows, once you set things in motion down certain paths, it is sometimes hard to make these things go away quietly.

I figured that Pitino had gotten hooked up with the wrong person back last Spring when it was reported that he had gone to the FBI to complain that he was the subject of a blackmail attempt. And in due course, one Karen Sypher, the estranged wife of Tim Sypher, the equipment manager at Louisville, was indicted for extortion. As if that weren't bad enough, she did indeed become pregnant through their liaison-or at least she said that's how she got pregnant back in 2003. And Pitino gave her some money. She says it was for an abortion. He said it was because she needed health insurance. Which wasn't his original story to the FBI.

One of the more peculiar aspects of this story involves the meeting at which she informed him that she was in a family way. Pitino and Sypher met to discuss this situation at the condo owned by the equipment manager. Who eventually became Tim Sypher's husband. That's where she met him. I mean, that's just bizarre. Not only that, but this means she has been hanging around at basketball games and office functions since that fateful night in 2003. This could not have been much fun for Rick.

Mrs. Pitino: Why is Karen staring at you?

Mr. Pitino: Karen who?

Oh and it gets worse. Sypher went to the Louisville police after she got indicted. She claimed Pitino raped her twice. The cops noted some New Holland Tunnel gaps in her story and didn't charge Pitino with anything. Meanwhile, the local media up in the Bluegrass State have dug up a picture of Sypher in something slinky for a personal profile in a website called They dug up a sexual harassment lawsuit that she filed against a former employer in 2000. Claims she was sexually assaulted by the boss on numerous occasions. The case settled. And now, she says that the equipment manager was paid by Rick Pitino to marry her in order to ensure her continued silence. Yeah right.

This woman is no longer "inconvenient" as they used to say. She is now even more trouble than she was back in 2003. Because now she won't shut up. Nooooooooo, this isn't going away anytime soon. And as long the missus allows him to remain in the home Rick Pitino is going to get to learn first hand what it must be like to be Bill Clinton, John Edwards and Mark Sanford. He will not like this experience.

As you might imagine, there are people, notably Roman Catholic people, calling for his scalp. As you also might imagine, since Rick Pitino is one of the most famous coaches in the history of the game and a proven money maker, the UofL brass is sticking with him.

And yes there certainly is a morals clause in Pitino's contract and his escapade has brought unwanted negative publicity to both himself and his employer. And yes, other coaches have been fired for similar sex and alcohol related misdeeds. And no, Pitino would not tolerate this sort of behavior from one of his players.

But this is Men's DI hoops we are talking about, where hypocrisy is as much an active ingredient as the ability to stick the jumper. We may make way too much of coaches being role models. Adults should be role models and that is where Pitino has failed. But it's not like he has a history of this sort of behavior-at least that's not his reputation-so while perhaps his behavior merits disciplinary action of some sort, he certainly does not deserve to be fired.

Men and women have been behaving stupidly with their clothes off since before the time of King David. He is just one more. If his wife and family can live with it, I certainly can. It is none of my business.

But still. Folks have said that it everybody would be better off if Pitino took a leave of absence for awhile. I mean, my God. Just wait until the Cardinals go visit the Wildcats at Rupp. Imagine the signs those kids are gonna come up with. How could anybody bear up under such stress?

Easy. The coaching world is full of outsized egos and Pitino's is one of the biggest. If you have any doubt about that just consult the quote at the top of the page. He made this statement about the time that Sypher got indicted last Spring. He lost a brother-in-law in the attack on the World Trade Towers. Just like then, he said he would "get through this in a positive way and move on."

Up until now I thought the 9/11 attacks were one of the most craven acts of terrorism in history. Rick Pitino thinks it's all about him.

He'll get through this just fine. Really he will.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Drunken Preacher's Sermon - Easter Sunday

We may safely assume that this was Brother Leroy's sermon. Thanks to Strangepup for passing this along.

My Sunday Feeling

President Obama's birthday was earlier in the week. I wish him well and I hope he and his wife had a nice celebration. But as been pointed out in both the New York Times and the Washington Post-and everywhere else on the Internet there still remains a certain segment of society-or at least the segment of society that remains unmedicated-that Mr. Obama is not qualified to be President because he was did not celebate his first birthday on American soil.

Article II, Section 5 of the Constitution states that "No person except a natural born Citizen" is eligible to be President of the United States. While this seems antiquated to me it is still the law. I attended a Naturalization Ceremony last Spring in Judge Holmes' courtroom. After it was over he told the assemblage that they "were as American as me." Except Leon Holmes could run for President and a naturalized citizen cannot.

Which brings us to the current "controversy." The folks-known as "Birthers"- that are convinced that Barack Obama was not really born in the United States are raising hell all over the Internet and the air waves about his ineligibility to hold the office. They believe this despite the copious evidence to the contrary. A true copy of the Certificate of Live Birth showing that little Barack took his first breath in the State of Hawaii does not convince them. They want to see the original document which the State of Hawaii sensibly refuses to produce for inspection. The fact that authenticated documents are admissible as evidence is not sufficient.

But OK. This would have required Obama and his acolytes to pull off a massive conspiracy which involved the local press which published the announcement of his birth. And it would have required everyone in this massive conspiracy to keep quiet about it for all of these years which never happens. Also, it is legally superfluous seeing as how he was born to an American mother. Which makes Barack Obama as much of a "natural born Citizen" as me and Judge Holmes.

Here's a thought. Perhaps the Birthers should also try to prove that Arnold Schwartzenegger was really born in Michigan or something so he can qualify to run for President once he is able to escape the California statehouse. That makes as much sense as trying to prove that Barack Obama is not an American by birth and there's just as much available evidence.

I have always said that you are entitled to your beliefs but that you are not entitled to your own facts. I don't believe that I have ever seen another time in my lifetime where more folks were confusing what they dearly want to believe with what is factual. It is proof positive of the reach and scope of the Internet that so many people are compelled by the deranged thinking it occasionally puts out.

We are told that abortion is murder. Of course this is not true. You may believe that it is morally wrong and you have the right to oppose it. But it is a legal procedure and women have a right to avail themselves of it.

We are told that teachers should be free to "teach the controversy" that allegedly exists between Creation Science and Evolution. Of course this is not true. There is no controversy in modern science about the Theory of Evolution as a means to describe biological change over time. But you have to admit that there is not much of a down side to a pathological hatred of Darwin. If you are gonna diss a scientific theory Evolution's the one. You ignore the theory of gravity at your peril.

And now we are told that the new reforms of Health Insurance will lead to euthanasia and "death panels" that will decide which disabled children will be allowed to receive medical services. Of course, this is not true. Hit the link for an editorial in the Boston Globe about the claims about euthanasia:

Finally, we are told that these reforms will institute rationing of health care. Of course this is not true. Insurance companies ration health care all of the time. And have for years. When I fell and hit my head my insurance company initially refused to pay for an MRI because I had not consulted an Otolaryngologist first. I had a friend who was told he needed a new medicine for a tumor in his brain. The insurance company initially said it wouldn't pay for it. This is rationing of health care pure and simple. It happens every day. The new proposed reforms will not "institute" this practice.

God knows it is a complicated world out there. And people necessarily tend to be wary about things they don't fully understand. Which is why if the proponents of these reforms want the damn thing to pass had better do a better job of explaining them.

Because people are confusing their beliefs or what they are being led to believe with the facts. And it is gumming things up.