Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Winter Olympics

So Bode was a bust. Jeremy was a joke, and Sasha won only Silver. But let's talk about some of the amazing things that did happen for the Americans during this Olympics.

After the overhyped Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves did nothing in the alpine combined, the unknown Ted Ligety came out of nowhere to win gold.

After getting called out by skiing great Picabo Street for being immature, Julia Mancuso skied a perfect GS and won an unexpected gold, minus her trademark tiara.

Despite Jeremy Bloom, who was probably already focused on the NFL combine, finished 6th, an unknown Tobey Dawson won bronze and hoped that his birth parents in South Korea had seen him on TV and would try to find him.

And then there is the feud between Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis, two long track speed skaters. Their arguments about who betrayed who and who wasnt professional probably cost each of them at least one medal. Overlooked was their teammate Joey Cheek who was voted by his fellow athletes to carry the American flag at the closing ceremony. More important though Cheek donated his $40,000 medal bonus to Ready to Play which focuses on health and creating opportunities through sports for disadvantaged kids all over the world. Cheek will also will travel to Zambia to educate children about HIV. I gotta tell you, I dont care about Hedrick dissrepsecting Davis and vice versa. Cheek embodies the Olympic ideal more than those two idiots combined.

And though she was never close to a medal, how can you not love the story of Lindsey Kildow? She suffered a horrific crash on a training run and severely bruised her hip. She was in a hospital the next day, but two days after her crash she got up and using her poles as crutches finished 8th in the downhill. Who the hell needs Bode? Lindsey Kildow embodied the Olympic spirit for the Americans.

Yes some of the favorites like Bode, Jeremy, and Michelle could not accomplish their goals during these Olympics. Instead we were introduced to Tobey, Lindsey, and Ted. We know in Vancouver in four years, Sasha Cohen, Kimmie Meissner, and Emily Hughes could form the most feared figure skating team ever. We know that Belbin and Agosto will be back and aiming for gold, after breaking a 30 year drought for the U.S. in Ice Dancing. We know that the women's Ice Hockey team will be back and better than ever.

That's what is great about the Olympics. The networks and advertisers try and decide who the stars will be. But everytime the Olympics come around we are introduced to new heroes: men and women who sacrifice it all to reach the top of the world. Here's to the Tobeys, Teds, and Joeys, who showed us with their courageous medal winning performances what the Olympics is really all about.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Spring is Here

Baseball fans judge the change in seasons differently from other people. Though the calendar says February, we know actually that summer is starting. This week baseball fans heard four words that make their hearts soar: Pitchers and catchers report. We still have to wait until the beginning of April for the games to count, though this year we have the World Baseball Classic to keep us occupied, but for those fans that have been waiting for this season since last October no time of year is sweeter.

February is the time when every fan, from Kansas City to Tampa Bay, can dream that their team will hoist the World Series trophy on a magical October night. February is the time when every fan can dream that they will witness history on a cool summer evening in cities from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York. Will they see a no-hitter? Will they see a walk off homerun? Will they witness one of the all time greats break one of the unbreakable records?

Baseball’s allure is multi-faceted. Nowhere else can someone fail seven out of 10 times and be considered a great success. If someone is ever again able to be successful four out of 10 times, he will go down as one of the greatest of all time. Most sports are constantly looking for ways to increase their scoring, and while the homerun is one of the most exciting plays in baseball, many fans believe there is nothing more beautiful than a 1-0 pitcher’s duel or a beautifully turned 6-4-3 rally killing double play.

Baseball’s history is interwoven with that of America. Everyone knows the legend of Babe Ruth and the trade that cursed a team for 86 years. We have all seen footage of Lou Gehrig pronouncing himself the luckiest man in the world.

We know the story of Ted Williams, arguably the greatest hitter to ever play. We know that he may be considered even better if he had not served his country in time of war, not once but twice.

We know the story of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and the chase for 61 and we know the story of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and the chase for 62.

We know the story of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the World Series and Bobby Thompson’s shot heard round the world.

We know the story of Cal Ripken breaking the unbreakable record and saving baseball in one fell swoop.

We know the story of Hank Aaron and the pressure he faced not only on the field, but from the country.

We know all of these things because baseball reflects America. Never was this more true then with the story of Jackie Robinson and what he meant not only to baseball, but to the country. Jackie Robinson changed the landscape of race in America by playing hard and not allowing the hatred and racism to affect him publicly. Americans saw him act with grace and dignity and understood that he was just a man trying to play baseball. Many say that the Civil Rights movement began not with Rosa Parks, but with Jackie Robinson.

Rejoice baseball fans! The boys of summer are back and are gearing up for yet another magical season where hearts will be sent a flutter and fans will be brought to their feet by men who make the extraordinary seem routine. Fathers and sons will sit among the thousands sharing sodas and scorecards talking about the past and anticipating the future. Baseball is back, what history will be written this year?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

National Savings Rate

So NBC News reported last night that the national savings rate last year was -0.5%, that's negative 0.5 percent. That means that people spent their entire income and went into their savings or borrowed to spend more. This is the first negative savings rate since 1933, the bottom of the Great Depression.

Now tonight we know President Bush will talk about Iraq, terrorism, and nuclear weapons because the only way he stays somewhat popular (though NBC has his approval at 39%) is by scaring people. However, he also will probably talk about making sure the economy is secure for the future. What he should do is talk about a national savings plan. For years now the savings rate has been declining because the cost of everything: housing, food, health care, and gas among others has been increasing while wages have stayed steady or decreased. Bush should propose a national savings plan for Americans and provide incentives for saving.

Without a dramatic increase in the savings rate, more Americans will continue to borrow and too many will be unable to pay those loans back. Without savings fewer families will be able to help pay for college which will thus negatively affect the student's savings rates. Without savings fewer Americans will make big purchases thus damaging other sectors of the economy.

Instead of talking solely about fear tonight, President Bush should take the lead and help Americans to save more money for comfortable retirement and grow and support our economy.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Thank God for Google

So some jackasses in the Justice Department decided that they wanted Google, Yahoo, AOL, and MSN to turn over millions of search queries in an effort to track child pornographer and the people that look at that sick shit. Now no one is in favor of child pornography, but does anyone really believe that this is all the government would use the search query information for. Of course not. The government would take the search queries and use it for any number of things. Maybe to track terrorist activity, maybe to track membership is certain groups that aren't quite in line with the Administration's views. Who knows where it would end.

Unfortunately, Yahoo, AOL, and MSN happily turned over the information. Thankfully, Google is holding out and headed to court in what could be a major battle. The fact is that anyone who believes in a right to privacy, including Chief Justice Roberts and soon to be Justice Alito, can in no way condone or rule in favor of the government. In this case, the trust cannot be put in the government because the government has never earned that necessary trust.

The government has caught, prosecuted, and convicted thousands of child pornographers in the past without the help of these companies. Why, all of a sudden do they need this help. Thank you to Google for realizing that people's privacy is one of the most important rights in the United States.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Williams to Die

Barring a last second stay by the Supreme Court, Stanley "Tookie" Williams will be put to death tonight at 12:01am (PST). Williams founded the legendary Crips gang in the 1970s, which unleashed a torrent of violence in LA and has spread nationwide. Williams was convicted of killing four people in two 1979 robberies and has never apologized for those killings, something Governor Schwarzenegger cited as a reason not to grant clemency.

Despite being indirectly responsible for many deaths, Williams has seemingly reformed on Death Row. He has authored numerous children's books about the dangers of gangs. He was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. People ranging from the Presient of the NAACP, to Snoop Dogg, to Jamie Foxx (who played Williams in a TV movie), to MASH star Mike Farrell came to the defense of Williams. It really seems that the sticking point for Schwarzenegger and others was that Williams never apologized or showed remorse for the crimes that he was convicted of.

No matter what you think about the death penalty this case is remarkable. A man responsible for uncalculable death and mayhem, dramatically changing his tune and becoming a force for good. Anti-gang activists are severely worried about the setback in their mission that will come because of Williams' death. No matter what you think of the man, a man with a powerful voice that he has used for both good and bad will die tonight.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The "War" on Christmas

So I'm sure everyone has heard the right-wingers bitching about the "war" on Christmas. They say that when stores wish people Hayppy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, the stores are treating observers of Christmas as second class citizens and embracing political correctness instead of embracing Christmas. These right-wing religious nutballs even got mad at the White House for sending out a holiday card that said Happy Holidays, not Merry Christmas.

Memo to all these assholes: Not everyone celebrates Christmas. A lot of people celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or other holidays. Did any of you brilliant intellectuals realize that Hanukkah starts the day after Chrstmas? Maybe that's why people are saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Or maybe they are saying Happy Holidays because they don't want to offend a large group of customers. Just because people don't specifically acknowledge Christmas doesn't mean they are anti-Christmas. But, that is not nearly good enough for these anti-anybody but them people.

The fact is that there is no war on Christmas. For years Happy Holidays has been the way to include people, not exclude people. The holiday season is about enjoying family and friends and giving thanks for what we have as individuals and as a nation. We should put these petty squabbles aside and enjoy this joyous time of year.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Senator Menendez?

The big news out of New Jersey politics came from a Washington Post blog that Congressman Bob Menendez cut short a vacation to Puerto Rico to meet with Governor-elected Jon Corzine. Rumors have been swirling since Corzine announced his gubernatorial run who would be the next Senator from New Jersey.

From the beginning the big name has been Menendez. He is the third ranking member in the House and highest ranking Hispanic in either house of Congress. He also has the biggest warchest of any of the Democratic Congresman in New Jersey with about $5 million in the bank.

So why hasn't Menendez been named yet? One word: CORRUPTION. Lest we forget, Corzine is only governor because corruption brought down previous governor Jim McGreevey and U.S. Attorney Chris Christie is the perennial favorite in any Republican race due to his tireless work in prosecuting and convicting crooked politicians. This all despite the fact that he has never run for, let alone win political office.

During the gubernatorial campaign, there was a secondary campaign between Democrats jockeying for position with Corzine. Six of the seven Democratic congressman wanted the seat and were tripping over themselves to do anything they could to help Corzine win. There are others in the running as well, including State Senator Nia Gil.

However, Menendez was always the front runner despite accusations of corruption from having an inappropriate relationship with a staffer and, then after she started her own lobbying, steering contracts her way. There are also accusations coming out of Menendez' own Hudson county of political corruption and doing anything to win.

Corzine has a tough choice ahead of him. Menendez is the only Democratic congressman in NJ with a statewide appeal and the money to run in this expensive state. Don't forget the election is less than a year away. However, Corzine is coming into office with the mantle of cleaning up New Jersey, so can he get away with appointing someone who might have some serious skeletons in his closet? Rumor is that a decision could come as soon as today. My bet is still on Menendez, because money trumps all in politics.

Food for Thought: Did Duke Cunningham's farewell speech remind anyone else of Torch's "When did we become such an unforgiving people?" speech? God you gotta love when these pompous asses get knocked down a few pegs.