Monday, January 25, 2010

Who Dat?

Who Dat! Go Saints! Oh when the Saints go marching on, oh when the saints go marching in, oh Lord I want to be in that number when the Saints go marching in!

New Orleans has finally reached the Super Bowl, ts football team a victor in a hard fought contest last night over the tough and talented Minnesota Vikings. The win has energized a city that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina only a few years ago.

The Saints came into existence in 1967 and found themselves in the heart of the college football bible belt, so to speak. For years they were a woeful and hapless team struggling for decades, even failing to finish with a winning record for their first twenty-five years. Yet from their earliest days the city was crazy about them Saints. It was their pro-team, the big leagues.

There were a few highlights along the way in those early days, but too few. Tom Dempsey, "straight on" old style kicker, hit a record 63 yard field goal during an early home game at Tulane Stadium, where the team first played.

Quarterback Archie Manning starred on the team, which is amazing since he was first a star at LSU's rival Ole Miss. Archie fell in love with the city and made it his home. He raised three sons there including Payton and Eli Manning. Brett Farve grew up in nearby Kiln, Mississippi, and the Saints were his childhood favorite team.

After Katrina the population of the Crescent City shrank to about 250,000, a nearly 50% loss. Parts of the city were destroyed and its future was bleak. New Orleans has slowly recovered much of its footing. Now the population hovers around 350,000 and it is growing.

New Orleans is unique in America because of its culture, strong French heritage and its music. The French Quarter is pretty much back to normal as tourists throng to the many nationally known restaurants and bars. There is still much to be done in other parts of the city, and Katrina's scars and a troubling crime rate still haunt everyday life.

But the Saints, led by Drew Brees and Reggie Bush, are a shot in the arm for the city and a promising sign that the city is as great as ever. The hope never dies.

Who Dat? Dems the Saints, the New Awlins Saints!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Take the voters for granted and you will be Schilling-ed! That is the big message coming out of the Massachusetts special senatorial election Tuesday.

President Barack Obama was swept into office on a message of change. He inherited a massive national debt, huge deficits, a crashing banking system, growing unemployment, two wars and a health system that leaves 40 million Americans uncovered or under covered. President Obama's message of change resonated with voters who flocked to the polls election day in response to his call.

But what has changed? To his credit the president got an economic stimulus package through the Congress. But its effect on job loss is negligible. Worse, the bill was laden with earmarks, pet projects attached by members of Congress.

The battle for health care reform has dragged on for months. While both houses have passed bills, there are significant differences in the two versions and it is unclear to most Americans what benefit either has for the country. Republicans have muddied the debate with partisan attacks and have failed to propose a viable version of their own. Health industry lobbyists working behind the scenes on Capitol Hill have guided the debate. Now Tuesday's Massachusetts election results ensure that the minority party will be able to block any meaningful reform. This leaves Democrats debating whether there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Meanwhile the American jobless rate stands at 10%, and the number grows to 17% when the underemployed are counted. The people are hurting and worried about their future. Most experts predict that job growth will be slow and many jobs will not return. There are urgent speeches about the problem, but words and patience do not heal the wounds of the destitute.

Banking reform has stalled too. There are complicated regulations and complex financial matters to slog through for sure. But the focus seems to be on executive compensation and bonuses, not on fixing the failed system that got us to this awful place. Yet an extraordinary number of Americans are on the verge of defaulting on their home mortgages.

Meanwhile the threat of terrorism hangs over America's shores as two costly wars drag on in distant countries with uncertain outcomes. How many surges will be needed before American soldiers will be able to return home safely?

President Obama remains personally very popular with Americans. What's not to like? And it is good that we have gained more respect around the world. But our domestic problems weaken America and undermine our negotiating position.

Both Republicans and Democrats have failed to put aside partisan politics for the good of the country. That is why Massachusetts independent voters, who voted for President Obama, voted for Republican independent Scott Brown. His message of change resonated with his state's constituents. That message was directed at both parties.

Brown's opponent took the voters for granted. Martha Coakley didn't connect. She appeared out of touch. Curt Schilling was a Boston Red Sox hero who helped his team win its first World Series in nearly a century. And that was just six years ago. Yet she called him a Yankee! She was Schilling-ed at the polls.

Come on Washington, it is time to listen to the people. It is time to put America first!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rush to Judgment

The stench of death permeates the air as dead bodies clog roadways and arteries. The painful pictures of Haiti's injured and deceased are almost incomprehensible. But this unbelievable disaster is not enough to deter conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh from immediately spewing his political agenda.

The country of Haiti, crushed and flattened by a powerful earthquake, finds millions of its citizens in dire need of food, water, medicine and shelter. Hope lies a few miles away at a crippled airport crammed with aircraft, supplies and rescue personnel that are overwhelmed by logistical problems. Time is running out.

Once again, Americans are responding to this heart-wrenching crisis with an outpouring of compassion and humanity. Volunteers from Florida, Virginia, California, and from all regions of the country have already flown to the frontlines of this great tragedy. And thousands of Americans have donated more than $8 million to the American Red Cross for Haiti relief — $10 dollars at a time — by texting HAITI to 90999. The Red Cross set the texting service up with the help of the U.S. State Department and the Obama Administration.

But in a radio studio, located just a few hundred miles from the devastation, a single pathetic voice cries foul! “Everything this president sees is a political opportunity, including Haiti, and he will use it to burnish his credentials with minorities in this country and around the world, and to accuse Republicans of having no compassion,” conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh said yesterday on his radio show. “We've already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.” In fact, soon after President Barack Obama first spoke about the Haitian tragedy Limbaugh compared the president’s quick response with the three days it took President Obama to comment on the terrorist attack on an American airliner over Detroit. Limbaugh said the president was trying win over minorities, the “light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.”

So why has Limbaugh decided now is the time to complain about how U.S. tax dollars have been used by Haiti in the past? Why does he feel he must highlight that country's long-standing lack of government, infrastructure or hope? Right now children are dying from injuries, dehydration and lack of food. Thousands of injured victims will die unless they receive treatment soon. This is an immediate crisis. So what can Limbaugh possibly be thinking; why must he always reduce everything to politics?

Does his ego need more attention? Or his persona need more publicity? Is he worried that Americans might actually join together, even in these hard economic times, to help those in need? After all, a country divided is good for Rush's ratings. Or is he more concerned that injured and displaced Haitians will be temporarily allowed to enter this country, more specifically his home state of Florida?

Even as most conservatives remain quiet about the president's actions, Limbaugh inexplicably defends his shameless position. Yet his explosive on-air response to a caller sounded defensive, “What I’m illustrating here is that you’re a blockhead.... that you’re a close-minded bigot who is ill-informed.” The final blow, "Your mind is totally closed. You have tampons in your ears. Nothing is getting through other than the biased crap that you read.” Doth protest too much?

One of the founding principles of our great Democracy is freedom of speech. The Federal Communications Commission, which grants licenses to radio and television broadcasters, does have programming prohibitions. One of them is, “Profane language, which includes those words that are so highly offensive that their mere utterance in the context presented may, in legal terms, amount to a 'nuisance.'" Rush Limbaugh's weekday program is syndicated on hundreds of radio stations throughout the country that are licensed by the FCC. Are Limbaugh's comments more offensive than Janet Jackson's wardrobe failure?

Rush Limbaugh has once again proven that, as great and noble as this country is, and as generous and caring as its people are, there is always one rotten egg.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Growing Pains

It is a bit unnerving to hear that your child has been injured, especially when she is several hundred miles away. Thank God everything is okay.

Our daughter has taken to snowboarding, although she has only done it a few times. For sure, she has great potential but she is, nonetheless, a novice. And, as so often happens, after a weekend of fun in the sun and snow, she asked to take one more run down the hill and ended up crashing.

For whatever reason, she simply lost her balance and fell forward. She extended her arms to break her fall but nearly broke both wrists in her effort. She was immediately taken to a nearby medical for an examination. Both writs were swollen, especially her right wrist, which she uses for writing. Doctors obtained permission from us to conduct an X-ray, and shortly after we were told the results were negative.

It is strange what thoughts come to mind when one experiences such an accident. For our daughter it was guilt; she was at fault; she was stupid. Shortly after receiving the results we spoke directly to the embarrassed victim. "I am afraid you are not going to let me come up her again," our upset daughter lamented, "That you won't let me snowboard again." Of course, we assured her that that's not true, she could go again in the future. She reported the pain was nine on a scale of one to ten, but she showed strength and courage in dealing with the injury and pain.

So our barely teenage daughter encountered one of life's unpredictable setbacks and survived a little wiser. The upside, she was able to return to school the next day, one arm in a soft cast and sling, bask in sympathy while telling all her friends about her most memorable adventure. These are life's growing pains, literally!

UPDATE: A New York orthopedist reviewed our daughter's injuries and took x-rays. It turns out that she has a small buckle fracture below her left wrist and a small fracture on the growth bone of her right wrist. She is now wearing removable splints and should heal in two or three weeks. "She will be back on the ski slopes in three weeks", the doctor proclaimed. The young heal quickly, ah to be young again!