Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lady Power!

To all the teenage girls: it is high time you demand to be treated like ladies.

I kept thinking that as I read through Rhonda Bodfield and Carmen Duarte's story in the Arizona Daily Star outlining the prevalence of sexual harassment in schools. I won't repeat the specific cases the Star found, but they push into the realm of criminal activity, and in most cases, the perpetrators honestly didn't think they were committing a major offense.

What's worse, the harassed girls often brush it off:
"Some girls have low self-esteem and are embarrassed to say anything or to stand up for someone else," said Renee Valencia, 17.

Vanessa Gonzales, 17, the former manager of junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams, said sometimes it's best to ignore it. "Because if you tell them (the harassers) anything, then it just leads to them calling you a [female dog] and others giving you a hard time," she said.
The disrespectful mentality comes from all over:
And, [Wellesley Nan College researcher Stein] said, kids see it in the larger culture. At sporting events, players often do a quick bum-pat as a nonverbal expression of "good job." "They've seen this behavior as being very acceptable," she said.
"Everything is so sexualized now that it's hard for kids not to pick up on it," said Susan Fineran, who co-wrote the report that ran in Sex Roles.
Which leads to a question the article never asks: Where are the parents?

Every teenage boy needs to hear and understand a form of this statement before entering puberty: "Girls deserve to be treated with respect, regardless of what I see on TV or in the movies, or among my friends, because that's how real men treat ladies. It is not appropriate to touch them in their private parts, no matter how they're looking or what they're wearing or what my hormones are doing."

I never remember Mom or Dad having a talk with me about treating ladies with respect, although I do recall a rule posted in every one of my elementary school classes: "Keep hands, feet and objects to yourself." That was enough. Nobody felt the need to bring the things your bathing suit covers into the discussion. This was at least a decade before the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings brought sexual harassment to the forefront. We also didn't have significant numbers of young women appearing underdressed like Madonna in her teeny-bop phase.

Nowadays, we can't pass this lesson in character development to schools anymore, if we ever did.
Jim Fish, TUSD assistant superintendent for middle schools, has told all of his principals to take a preventive approach to sexual harassment.

"You need to sit down with kids and be clear about what is acceptable and what is not," he said. "We make too many assumptions about what kids should know."
Or worse, we abdicate the responsibility with an excuse: "Boys will be boys." Sometimes, it's "Girls will be girls." Hey, if the guys can act inappropriately, why can't we?

So the kids are left to make up the rules, thinking that grabbing private parts and asking for sexual favors is a normal part of growing up. You can't blame that on MTV or the radio. The media is not in charge of drawing the lines.

But what angers and saddens me the most is the air of resignation among teenage girls who feel it's better for them to shrug off the boorish behavior than stand and yell "STOP!" Perhaps they don't feel like they're real women if they do. They don't feel like they're real women if they're wearing a skirt that comes down below the knee or a cleavage-free top. Don't even get me started on high heels. Ladies don't feel they have options because our culture doesn't reward modest, moderate people anymore. One of my former co-workers had a button in her cubicle: "Well-behaved women rarely make history." Maybe. But I'm willing to bet you most women who made history at least didn't sell out their standards of decency.

Dearest Ladies -- and I mean that term in respect, not patronization -- you are worth more than the going rate. Demand respect. Do not be culturally conned. Live in the world, but don't be of the world, as the Bible tells us. And do not be afraid to draw the line, because everybody else is expecting somebody else to draw it for them. You don't have to demand men bow to you -- although it looks nice -- but you must insist your body is not a toy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


What is a Missouri boatman doing in Arizona? What is he doing as a marshal? And why is he doing a Highland Fling? All is explained at We Make History’s Tucson Barn Dance… more or less.

From the journals of Christopher Francis.
Daguerreotypes by Madame Noire and your humble servant.

Tucson, 1879 --

“They’re going to tire themselves out before the first dance!”

A ring of young ladies prance in a circle as our fiddler warms his strings. It started as a line of lasses linked arm to arm, parading through the hall like proud stallions of the Tucson Rodeo. Then the music hits their ears and they are off to the races.

Now I should be the tired one. The journey from Kansas City to Tucson is long enough to drain a man’s strength without him moving a muscle: part by train, part by stagecoach. I meet a prairie schoolteacher, and she wonders how I survived the trip through Indian country.

“We were outnumbered,” I say. “But six in the chamber and a good shot tends to do a lot of convincing.”

Nearby, my dear lady friend is seeking fashion advice. She has this beautiful lacy cream-colored frock, which I’ll say is a welcome sight to everyone. But it’s no big secret that she’s intrigued by the pretty hoopskirts surrounding her. I can tell she’s looking for a talented seamstress. I wouldn’t think it would be so hard to find one in St. Louis.

Then I see a soldier entering in his woolen blue uniform with this green-ribboned medallion of a harp dotting his chest.

So I say, “Are you in the band?”

“No,” he responds with kindness. “I’m Irish.”

Doggone it. Been a long time since the war, long enough to scramble my memories. I have to be honest with you: If he could be mistaken for a musician, I could be mistaken for a parson. I’m wearing this black frock coat, black vest and a string tie.

“I don’t think they wear the hats,” a lady says, referring to my Stetson.

“Those cowboy priests of the Rio Grande Valley do,” I remember. “The Padres Oblatos.

We’ve got a hall full of ranch hands standing among us in blue jeans and work shirts mingling amongst the ladies sporting bright prairie dresses and bonnets. The cattle business in Cochise County is a right fine moneymaker. Our host, the Colonel, isn’t above wearing some faded denim below his white jacket and bow tie. All of us get to admire each other’s duds as we make the grand procession through the hall and into a circle for a little bit of fun. This is where the Colonel gets to call us all out and such so we can do a little bit of showing off. He calls out the ladies, and then the gents, and like so with the blondes and brunettes, all the short and tall folks, and the people of bad manners who keep on dancing with their hats on. That would be me. That would be a lot of us. But I say if a man’s mop of a top needs a little bit of taming, that’s what the hat’s for.

I like the set dances. A gent doesn’t have to do a whole lot of fancy steppin’, just a whole lot of walkin’. My lady friend and I do this first dance -- I think it’s called the Gallopade -- and everybody gets to sashay down the middle, but that’s as fancy as it gets. Our caller Miss Becky comes up with these numbers that everybody can learn really quickly without having to think too much. It’s not hard to get caught up in the dance, with all the swinging and do-si-doing and sashaying going on.

The same goes for the square dances. I never cared too much for them when I was a boy, but the ones Miss Becky is teaching us are the simplest I’ve ever learned. Even so, they have a few fancy parts. She teaches this one where the couples go round about the ring, taking hands in little circles. “Dive for oyster!” she calls and one of the couples steps forward underneath an arch made by the other two. “Dig for clam!” she calls next, and then the other couple does the same.

We also get to do this square she taught us some time ago, “Birdie in the Cage,” where one lady jumps in to the middle of the ring and we all circle round. Then Miss Becky calls, “Birdie flies out, crow flies in!” and the man’s partner takes her place in the middle. I see this one gent dive into the center, and he’s flappin’ his arms and cawing just like the real bird. We’re all lucky nobody got pecked!

It doesn’t take a whole lot to work up a sizable amount of sweat, so all of us are quite pleased the Colonel has provided for cookies and tea and orange-flavored punch. That punch has to be the best refreshment in Arizona, as it doesn’t take long for it to disappear from the bowl.

During one of these breaks for socializing and catching our breaths, a lady inquires of my trade, probably wondering why I’m all dressed up.

“The riverboat and barge business is doing quite nicely,” I tell her. “With the trade picking up with the South, I’ve gone from working on the boat to owning the boat. The South is diversifying now, branching out beyond cotton. Doesn’t matter if you’re shipping cargo or yourself -- if you need to get something up and down the Missouri and Mississippi, I can take care of that.”

I lean towards her in confidence and whisper. “And if you fancy the dice, that can be arranged too, although I don’t like to talk about that much in front of the ladies.”

All right, so maybe I shouldn’t have said that last part. But I’m still a businessman, and I have to seek out opportunities where I can. That’s how I got myself out of those overalls I once wore and into something more becoming of a gentleman.

Along the way, I learned a few things -- like how to charm a lady or at look like I’m tryin’. A fine miss whom I know from a few previous dances invites me to try a twinkle waltz with her. Lucky for her, I know what I’m doing. It’s a really pretty dance to look at, when you’re stepping forward to face each other and touch hands and before turning away and then turning back. It looks a lot like one of those old Colonial dances. I bet you my great-grandparents would’ve loved to see it.

Some of these cowboys and cowgirls look like they’ve been spending as much time in the dance hall as they have out on the range. I’ll be a Missouri mule if I didn’t see so much fancy steppin’ around during the waltzes, like it was a ballet in New York City or something. Mind you, some folks like to take it nice and easy, but you see these young ones with more grace than the birds soaring through the air.

“Keeping the peace, Marshal Francis?” the Colonel says to me while I’m helping myself to more punch.

“Well, between the riverboat business and law enforcement, I kinda have a divided workflow,” I respond. “I’ve hired a Pinkerton or two for help.”

Okay, so I admit I didn’t tell you everything. I took a job as deputy marshal in Wilcox. I was out this way exploring a shipping deal with the railroads when I saw the need for more security.

“I hope to be coming out this way often,” I explained to the marshal over dusty, day-old coffee. “I can’t stick around here, but with all the rustlers and robbers and Indian attacks, it’s to your benefit if you know what was coming your way, and chances are I’ll probably run into it between here and Kansas City.” It wasn’t a hard sell.

A few ladies, meanwhile, were cornering the Colonel with their own offers. Please, oh please, can we persuade the gents to show off some things they learned during the war? He hadn’t planned it, but he quite generously obliged.

So the Colonel steps back into his duties as a commander and orders the gentlemen to a line on one side of the room, facing away from the ladies. The young girls squeal and giggle with delight and quickly remove one of their shoes. They toss them into this pile in the center. The Colonel asks another lady to mix all those shoes up, as it seems some of them like to pre-arrange what should be all spontaneous and such.

“Count off by twos!”

Most of us still remember our days as soldiers, so the drill of splitting one long line into two shorter ranks isn’t hard. And thankfully, all of us can count.

“How do they look, Sergeant?”

A large man in a Union overcoat agrees we look a little rusty but good enough for the purposes of snagging some footwear.

“Fix bayonets... CHARGE!

The saying goes like this: lead, follow, or get out of the way. I reckon I can still fetch myself a shoe without fallin’ all over somebody else, so that’s what I do. My shoe happens to belong to a pretty lady in a charming green frock. Both of us have plenty of energy left for “Chase The Squirrel.”

My lady friend is finding herself plenty attractive to all the gents and cowboys. I see her enjoying dances with several different people, the way it right oughta be. And I’ll be a Mississippi River toad if she wasn’t the happiest thing after winning a door prize: a gift certificate for some fashionable patterns. She was seeking some fashion advice, and by golly, she found it!

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the Colonel calls, “choose your partner for the old Virginia Reel!”

He loves calling it, even though many of us -- including myself -- know it by heart, from the lines forward and back through every honor and turn and swing. It’s tempting for some of us to dance faster than he can call it, but he insists otherwise: “Wait for the call!”

However, something seems missing: this seems too ordinary for the Colonel’s tastes. He has got to have something up his sleeves. We find out soon enough: “We’ll go through it one more time, in double time!”

He’s not kiddin’. All these ladies and gentlemen rush through that last reel like they’re dancing on hot iron or runnin’ through the Arizona desert. It’s a race with each set trying to beat the others to the end. I’m amazed somebody doesn’t get thrown clear across the room with all the fast swinging going on. A set right in front of the Colonel finishes just before my set does, and they’re proclaimed the winner. Pshaw, if I’d only known it was a contest I would’ve had a few more sips of punch.

The evening is drawing to a close, and a lot of us are worn down like an old set of boots. But the Colonel, he knows a lot of us still have some fire burning in the furnace.

“Are there any Scottish cowboys out there?” he asks.

“Aye!” I answer.

Didn’t I tell you I’m the proud descendant of Scottish parents? They’re working the mines in Kansas. I may have never set foot in the mother country, but their blood is still in me, and if I love a good reel, a good jig goes together with it quite nicely.

So the Colonel calls all of us Highland Cowboys to step to the center of the hall, and we all start doing a jig. Me, I seem to recall this other dance… I think it’s called the Highland Fling.

Ladies come in and tap me on the shoulder to relieve me, and I kindly step out only to step back in and continue dancing for the enjoyment of the fair ones and anybody else who cares to see me kick up my heels. Even the Colonel joins me for a wild swing or two.

After all of that, we have time for one final waltz, where I rejoin my lady friend, who has quite enjoyed all the dancing with all the ladies and gents, as I have encouraged her to do. We try a two-step, and then we both attempt a box step before falling back into the two-step. It’s nothin’ fancy. We don’t mind. Our lives have enough fancy steps.


Y'all see more pictures of the festivities here.

NEXT: Persuasion

Friday, September 18, 2009

Reel To Reel: The Informant!

He can expose bad all by himself.

Going Rate: Not more than matinee price, even if you like director Stephen Soderbergh's films.
Starring: Matt Damon
Rated: R
Red Flags: Language

It's puzzling to see how a man like Mark Whitacre made it as an executive at agricultural powerhouse ADM when he talks like the annoying guy two desks down from you. Boy, does he talk -- about anything: about corn, chemistry, a Renaissance fair, indoor pools, and polar bears in spurts of voice-over that more or less connect to the pictures but chiefly serve to remind you that his brain is as hyperactive as his mouth. Still, during the early '90's, this guy had just enough focus to take down his bosses in a price-fixing investigation by wearing a wire for the FBI. I must've missed the story during my formulative years in the news business.

Maybe it's because Whitacre, as portrayed by Damon, isn't a cut-and-dried folk hero. He seems to perceive right and wrong in terms of what's less burdensome to his mind, which we later find out is bipolar, although a lot of you will probably deduce that in the first five minutes. If only the FBI could've figured that out from the get-go. Whitacre leads agents down a twisted road of corporate intrigue while getting caught up in corruption himself. It has to be frustrating not knowing if your cooperating witness is taking out the garbage or on the take, and that's where the movie obtains a lot of its dynamics and satire.

Otherwise, it's a dry movie about a dry subject with a principal character unconducive to any emotional investment, despite the best efforts of director Stephen Soderbergh (Oceans 11) and a cheeky score from composer Marvin Hamlisch. It has several good plot twists, but they lack intensity and surprise given the cloud that is Whitacre: quirky and a bit zany but not really likable. I didn't root for him as much as wonder how he made it through without ending up in a straitjacket. A comic story about a man who takes down massive corporate corruption shouldn't be a hard sell in post-Madoff America. This one just doesn't have the goods.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The House Will Be In Order... Maybe

The U.S. House voted 240-179 along party lines to formally admonish Republican congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina for his "You lie!" outburst during President Obama's health care speech last week.

But it should have been 434-0.

Many of your congressmen and women had a chance to stand for something more than ideology and partisanship, and they blew it. Miserably. At least now we know the truth: rules of decorum only apply when they're convenient. Rep. Wilson had plenty of opportunities to criticize, cajole and condemn before and after the speech, but he just couldn't wait. At least he didn't throw a shoe.

Booing has been around for ages, just like applause. The line, however, should stop there. We expect better from leaders who address each other on the House floor as "The Distinguished Gentleman." Maybe they just don't want that responsibility, as Rep. Barney Frank indicated: "I think it's bad precedent to put us in charge of deciding whether people act like jerks. I don't have time to monitor everyone's civility."

I also saw Rep. Frank telling Rachel Maddow that heckling is fair game in the British House of Commons: "Oh, I don't think it's a big deal. Look, I think free speech is (garbled), you know, heckling is a tradition, obviously, in the British Parliament. They even have mics that come down to hear the heckles." Somebody please remind the congressman where he's working.

Then I saw Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shrug it off in a Twitter message: "Voted against official disapproval of Congressman Wilson. What he did was unacceptable but POTUS accepted apology. Time to move on."

Yes, it's time to move on, but after taking a stand for character. Congressman Wilson did his part. I hoped Congress would do theirs. But there I go again, expecting too much of our leaders, even on the basics.

The House Rules Committee just released an updated guide for criticizing the president, as reported by Politico:
Under section 370 of the House Rules and Manual it has been held that a Member could:

• refer to the government as “something hated, something oppressive.”
• refer to the President as “using legislative or judicial pork.”
• refer to a Presidential message as a “disgrace to the country.”
• refer to unnamed officials as “our half-baked nitwits handling foreign affairs.”

Likewise, it has been held that a member could not:
• call the president a “liar.”
• call the president a “hypocrite.”
• describe the president’s veto of a bill as “cowardly.”
• charge that the president has been “intellectually dishonest.”
• refer to the president as “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”
• refer to alleged “sexual misconduct on the president’s part.”
I read these guidelines and recall that scene in the summer-camp movie Meatballs where Bill Murray's character subtly tears up a list of rules he has just been handed and deposits them in a trash can.

Your House voted to slap Rep. Joe Wilson on the wrist with a nail file. I'll try not to laugh the next time I hear the words "The Distinguished Gentleman" on C-SPAN. And I won't mind a bit if President Obama and future presidents handle hecklers the same way Ronald Reagan did in 1980, as his Presidential campaign was drawing to a close:

(Facebook readers, please click "Show Original Post" to see the video)

"Aw, shut up!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Arizona's 11

From the Long-time-in-the-making Department comes a proposal to create a new interstate highway linking Phoenix and Las Vegas, tentatively called I-11. It would be made up of new and upgraded highways. As the Arizona Republic reports:
Supporters envision smoother Phoenix-area traffic and closer trade and tourism links between Phoenix and Las Vegas. With a major bypass around Phoenix, from I-10 near Casa Grande to U.S. 93 just north of Wickenburg, I-11 would become a prime freight route from Mexico to Las Vegas and beyond, promoters say.

But the project faces daunting hurdles.

The Phoenix-area bypass alone might cost up to $5 billion, and with no money in sight, a toll road is already being discussed. Decades of planning, studies and government approvals would be required. Even early decisions are years away.
My thoughts: why not a toll road? You place the burden of paying for the highway directly on those who use it. And if you're heading to Vegas, what's a dollar or two given all the money you'll likely be dropping at the blackjack table and poker slots?

As somebody who's made the drive several times up U.S. 93 through Wickenburg and Wikieup, on narrow and often-dangerous two-lane road, it's not a hard sell. But environmental concerns and desert preservation are sure to be the next major issues besides cost, so I'm betting against this road getting built in my lifetime.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Biased And Loving It

Record numbers of people say they don't trust the news media, according to a fresh survey by the Pew Research Center.

From the survey:
Just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate. In the initial survey in this series about the news media’s performance in 1985, 55% said news stories were accurate while 34% said they were inaccurate. That percentage had fallen sharply by the late 1990s and has remained low over the last decade.

Similarly, only about a quarter (26%) now say that news organizations are careful that their reporting is not politically biased, compared with 60% who say news organizations are politically biased. And the percentages saying that news organizations are independent of powerful people and organizations (20%) or are willing to admit their mistakes (21%) now also match all-time lows.
The survey also points out that Republicans are harder on the press than Democrats, although that figure is narrowing.

My line of work gets one of the few roses:
Views of local TV news continue to be less partisan than opinions of other leading news sources. As was the case in 1985, there is very little difference between the views of Republicans (79% favorable) and Democrats (77%); somewhat fewer independents (67%) rate local TV news favorably.
The Pew survey doesn't address the why of declining trust, but let me offer you an educated guess: talk radio, particularly conservative talk radio, which has been growing as trust in traditional news media has slid.

For years, right-leaning talkmeisters have been telling you how rotten and biased the "liberal media" is. And when people tell you that for years, you're eventually going to believe it. Not that we don't deserve the lumps (and last week's big boo-boo involving a security threat training exercise in New York City was a big one), but the pronouncement of bias from those who have a less-than-objective agenda reminds me of that journalistic maxim, "consider the source."

Glenn Beck has been digging into the backgrounds of President Obama's czars. His exposure of Van Jones as a 9/11 conspiracy nut with a foul mouth played a major role in Jones' recent departure. He's also dug up FCC Diversity Chairman Mark Lloyd's head-scratching sympathies for Ceasar Chavez. Here are two people who don't need to be advising the president, but let's be clear: Beck isn't conducing this investigation out of an overwhelming desire to tell people the objective truth: he wants these people gone. It just so happens the facts support his cause. And he, unlike the traditional news media, gets to select only those facts he likes. But nobody's going to accuse him of bias. He's biased to the bone and loving every minute of it.

People don't mind. Beck is near the top of the cable news ratings, up there with Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity (minus Alan Colmes), Lou Dobbs, Rachel Maddow, and Keith Olbermann. To be sure, Katie Couric's ratings are still better than O'Reilly's, but the trend shows cable opinion news shows growing and network news shows declining.

We just buried Walter Cronkite and offered him our tributes as the embodiment of what journalism should be. We might as well have buried that concept with him. Let's quit kidding ourselves. People complain about biased newscasts, but guess what they're watching and listening to? I will offer my thesis once again: Bias is in the eye of the beholder. Many complaints of bias on the part of mainstream news organizations are in fact complaints that the news isn't biased in their direction.

And Pew, if you're going to do another of these press trust surveys, start asking more questions. You may find the answers revealing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

We've Got To Do Better

This is just what Arizona needs: Fife Symington saying he's seriously thinking about running for governor again. Yes, yes, an appeals court cleared him of bank and wire fraud. His record is clean. But you can't get rid of the smell.

"I know Fife Symington," a friend once observed. "He's a nice guy."

I snickered.

"He's a nice guy," he repeated with confident firmness.

I'm sure he is. But Arizona has enough image problems.

We are broke. We have an unfinished budget. The state is borrowing money to pay the bills and digging up cash through a sale/lease-back program of as many state buildings as possible. Standard and Poor's just lowered Arizona's credit rating. State Treasurer Dean Martin (no jokes about Jerry Lewis please, I've heard them all) told KOLD News 13 Political Specialist Bud Foster that it's getting harder to attract business and investors to Arizona because of the budget quagmire. It makes me wish we could trade in the legislature -- as Arizona Daily Star cartoonist David Fitzsimmons illustrated -- as a "Cash For Clunkers" transaction.

Need I mention the guy who carried the assault rifle outside President Obama's VFW speech simply to demonstrate he could? Legal, yes. Smart, not so much. At least you can attribute this mental lapse to a single person. The same goes for that pastor who prays for the death of President Obama, the one who also happens to be from the Phoenix area. People outside the state look at this and say, "You see a trend here?" just as we're dusting ourselves off from digging out of Evan Mecham's hole.

Just to alleviate any charge I'm ragging solely on the Valley of the Sun, Tucson has its share of dysfunction: Rio Nuevo (aka "Rio No-Hay-Vo"), homegrown budget issues, and several assorted political characters I am mercifully not identifying. On the flip side, we have this nice new underpass on 4th Avenue.

As I have lamented before, it's getting harder to find good people to run for office. The good people know better. When you see the sharks, you don't step into the water. And when you have some semblance of nobility, why risk corrupting it?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Teaching Moment

So now we find that President Obama's speech to students is very much non-political, and that preemptive claim of indoctrination from the Florida GOP's chairman -- who hadn't read a word of the speech before venting about it -- was baseless. To be sure, the GOP had more of an issue with the suggested lesson plan for this speech than the speech itself. But here's the reality check: conservatives' hung up on one line in that plan asking students how they could help the president, a line which was quickly scrubbed. Another reality: would these same conservatives have objected to that line if President George W. Bush had been making this speech? Or President Reagan?

The White House could've prevented all this by simply releasing a copy of the president's remarks at the same time the speech was scheduled. Then again, rational people don't automatically assume a presidential speech to children is a brainwashing mechanism. I wonder how much rationality is in Florida GOP chair Jim Greer, who said "I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology." He later said, "It's a good speech," after actually seeing it.

Teachers will be using this speech as an exercise in critical thinking. I hope critical speaking is in there too, as in thinking before speaking. Or as Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-37: "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

A lot of times, we won't have to wait for Judgment Day for our words to acquit or condemn us. A friend of mine says Republicans who went along with this looked like tinfoil-hat fringers. That's not a line you want on your resume if you're trying to win back voters.

UPDATE: I need to add a little context: Jesus was speaking to Pharisees in the above verse who had just seen him heal a demon-possessed man and thought Jesus' power had actually come from Satan. Jesus was talking about blaspheming the Holy Spirit in this context, not politics. That being said, in verse 34-35, He says: "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him." Whether it's in regard to politics, demons, or anything, the bottom line is this: GOD holds us accountable for the words we use as Christians. Even if we think we're in the right, GOD can still say we're wrong if we don't apply HIS principles when we speak and do things the Pharisees' way. It's something I and a lot of people can do better with.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kickoff Time

A big-name school pays a small school gobs of money to bring in their football team. Said team is clobbered to the delight of thousands of fans. In pro wrestling, you call that "jobbing." In college football, you call it the opening game. I'll tell that to the next BCS proponent who argues the entire season is essentially a tournament and that every game counts.

But let us leave the philosophical debates behind. Just enjoy these clips of the University of Arizona Wildcats' home opener, shot by your humble servant who tagged along with the KOLD News 13 sports team. By the way, the 'Cats pummeled Central Michigan State 19-6.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"F" In Reading Comprehension

Wow, what a preemptive hissy fit from the right over President Obama's planned address to the nation's kids in classrooms next week on the importance of staying in school and working hard.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says in a letter to principals:
During this special address, the president will speak directly to the nation’s children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school. The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.
But somehow, this mutated into a subversive un-American threat against our children, according to Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer, who writes in a press release:
"As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology. The idea that school children across our nation will be forced to watch the President justify his plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, and racking up more debt than any other President, is not only infuriating, but goes against beliefs of the majority of Americans, while bypassing American parents through an invasive abuse of power."
Uh, Mr. Greer, what are you reading? Where in Ms. Duncan's letter do you see the terms "health care," "taxes," or "debt," to name a few?

But you probably wouldn't complain if Rush Limbaugh were piped in for 15 minutes, eh?

Or Glenn Beck...

Thanks Mr. Greer for making me proud once again to be an independent.

UPDATE: The St. Petersburg Times' "Truth-O-Meter" does an excellent job of debunking Greer's baseless attack -- it rates as "Pants On Fire."