Yesterday, May 20th, was voting day here in Georgia with primary elections to decide November general election candidates up for grabs. One of the races somewhat farther from the spotlight was for the seat in the Georgia State Senate, District 9, my district. The incumbent of that office is Don Balfour, one who has held that office for 22 years. Mr. Balfour faced and was cleared of some ethics charges recently, but that’s not the gist of my post. The voters thought it was time for some new blood and Mr. Balfour lost to both his challengers, Mike Beaudreau and P.K. Martin. Those two will face each other in a runoff in July to determine who will run in the general election. P.K. Martin knocked on my door several weeks ago and we had a nice little chat. I liked him and had all but decided to give him my vote when I got a campaign mailer from Beaudreau.
As a result of Georgia’s latest redistricting, my small community was moved from Georgia’s 7th Congressional District to the 4th. This meant that my voice in Washington is now that of Hank “Guam might tip over” Johnson. The gist of Mike Beaudreau’s campaign mailer was that Mr. Balfour was instrumental in that redistricting. I don’t know whether he was or not. What impresses me about Beaudreau is that, in this age of walking on eggshells anywhere race is concerned, he is willing to assert that Hank Johnson’s values may not be representative of mine. Indeed.
Here is the front of Beaudreau’s mailer:
Hank Johnson is an embarrassment and his race has nothing to do with it. In a Congressional hearing regarding the placement of additional military personnel on the island of Guam, he voiced his concern that such placement may cause the island to “tip over and capsize.” Yeah, really. This display of brilliance took place before the House Armed Services Committee in March of 2010. Mr. Johnson has been re-elected since and will most likely win again in the general election this November. The 4th Congressional District, like the 5th represented by John Lewis is predominately black (59.04%). A white person has about as much chance of winning an election there as a fish riding a bicycle.
For more of Mr. Johnson’s unmatched oratory, enjoy his “Imagine a World Without Balloons” speech, or his “Apology for Using the ‘M Word.'” Notice the throngs of people who have packed into the House Chamber to hear him.
I appreciate Mike Beaudreau’s recognizing that Hank’s voice probably doesn’t reflect my values. Perhaps his voice in the Georgia Senate will.
Well, another Masters is in the history books and I am once again reminded why I love it so. Of course the sheer beauty of Augusta National Golf Course is enough to make anyone a fan of this particular tournament. But more than that, the Masters seems to bring out the very best of what is already good in the game of golf. I have long maintained that golf is the last bastion of civility in sports and I am reminded of it year after year.
The Masters always follows the finals of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, “March Madness.” While I understand school spirit, the joy of winning and all that goes with it, I don’t understand how a group of young men who perform like a precision drill team on the basketball court immediately revert to the likes of a street gang, complete with the backward placed, ten gallon caps and t-shirts with “Champions” written all over them.
Likewise, I have never understood “spiking the football” or thuggish behavior in a post game interview. Again, I take nothing away from winning a hard fought contest. But where is the civility? Even baseball, what we used to call “the national pastime,” now seems to be populated with guys who want to show off their street duds and tattoos just as soon as the game is over.
What I see is this… when the last out is made, when the clock ticks down to zero, or when the last putt falls into the cup, professional golfers demonstrate a whole different demeanor than the stars of other sports. Bubba Watson won his second Masters title yesterday. Overcome with emotion, as is Bubba’s tendency, he hugged his caddie, picked up his son, and gave his wife a loving hug and kiss. And then, if the reports are correct, they celebrated… at a Waffle House. That’s my kind of hero.
We human beings are funny creatures aren’t we? There is probably no other in the animal kingdom that can be so guided by its own ego, or its own self image. As a conservative, I continually stand in amazement at the media and Hollywood elite who have so much to say about a., the economy, b., the environment, c., foreign affairs, d., domestic affairs, e., political affairs…. er, let’s just say “all of the above… and then some.”
At one point during the Oscars last night, Ellen Degeneres, an excellent host, I would say, made a joke out of all the actors who had never gone to college. Turns out there are quite a few. Who knew? I thought, from all the expertise that I hear from these folks that most of them held advanced degrees from the very best of our colleges and universities. And, without argument, there certainly are some. A few. So, what is it that makes these people feel so qualified to offer their opinions in so many areas of life? What is it that makes them so sure that their way is the right way?
Well, I have an idea… All you have to do is watch the “Red Carpet” for a concentrated view of the ego polishing of a celebrity. It happens most everywhere they go, of course, but as I said, this is a “concentrated” view. Put yourself in their place… You step out of your limo with your companion of the evening, a 12 on a scale of 1 to 10, either male of female. You’re wearing duds that cost more than the automobile you just stepped out of. There are roars of adoration from a crowd that is being held back by barricades to give you your space. You make your way forward, toward the theater, stopping occasionally in front of a conveniently placed backdrop where you offer your best sultry look, kindly allowing a mass of paparazzi to snap your pic. Cameras click, flash bulbs pop. YOU have arrived.
You are pulled aside by a network reporter and congratulated on your fabulous attire, fabulous escort, and fabulous latest work. The reporter then gets down to the “real nitty gritty,” asking for your statement on the latest storms blanketing the northeast and how they were caused by global warming? The reporter, and yes, the rest of the free world, you believe, hang breathless, waiting for your answer.
Folks, don’t get me wrong, entertainers are entertainers and there are a lot of them that I like a lot. I would still pay good money to see a Michael Jackson concert. But I wouldn’t want him doing my brain surgery. For them to believe that their thoughts and opinions are more valid than others because they have a great stage presence, for me, is just too far to reach.
But who knows? If I were subjected to the Red Carpet… if I were looked upon for my solution to world peace, I might think I was smart, too.
You wouldn’t be the first to think that I’m behind the times. I admit that I don’t know many of the actors nominated for Oscars, Emmys, or Golden Globes and I know even fewer of the “artists” nominated for Grammys. I know little about Philip Seymour Hoffman. Yeah, I know he played Truman Capote and did an excellent job for which he received an Oscar. I’ve even heard him called a “genius.” But, not being a fan, I knew little else about him when the news came reporting his demise in a New York City apartment. Since then I’ve found out that he had a stable and long-lasting relationship with a woman and together, they had three children. I also learned that he seemed to be a decent fellow who treated people with whom he dealt in a pleasant manor.
But this isn’t about Philip Seymour Hoffman. It’s about us.
I’ll go out on a limb and venture that PSH was not the only addict to overdose on heroin the day it was reported. But he was a talented, larger than life entertainer, not some back alley junkie. My question? What’s the difference? Hoffman left three young children whose lasting image of their father may well be of him sprawled out on a cold floor with a needle hanging out of his arm.
So, why, why, why do we glamorize these people, offering them up as poor misunderstood souls who left their adoring public, not to mention their children, far too soon? Why are they victims? The media say that the authorities are on the trail of four individuals who may have been those who supplied PSH with his lethal dose. So? Did they force him into taking them?
I’ve heard it said that recreational drugs are God’s way of saying, “You’re making too much money.” Perhaps that’s so. But I wish someone could explain to me the thought process of one who is about to push the needle into the vein that first time. What is the rationale that says, “Go ahead… do it.?”
Genius? I don’t think so.
I can’t identify the point in time when viewing the State of the Union address went from a painless and sometimes enjoyable exercise in patriotic responsibility to the sensory equivalent of watching paint dry while listening to water drip. Certainly one’s desire to tune in has to do with your opinion of the current star of the show. My opinion of the President can’t get much lower, so I tuned in out of a sense of civic duty. Several observations:
With the shape our country is in, Mr. Obama’s speech really amounted to “putting lipstick on a pig.” Let’s be honest, with the unemployment numbers the way they are, particularly in light of the masses who have left the workforce, the national debt ticking up by the second, the winding down of war in two locations (that aren’t looking very good,) and the general malaise of the country, he had his work cut out for him. He gave it his all, I suppose. As usual, he threw out facts and figures as if they were believable. Do we really think that 9 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare? And after all of those who have lost coverage, do we really believe that there is a net gain? Do we think this albatross of a program will ever succeed? The State of the Union is supposed to be the President’s report to the American People, through Congress, regarding the current condition of the country. Yes, he had a tough job.
I have thought for some time that the reason Obama has kept Joe Biden around is for comic relief. I’m always entertained by the various looks ole Joe gets on his face while he stands loyally behind and to the side of his boss. Usually, the expression says, “How do I look? Do I look okay? Do I look smart?” Of course there is always the pointing into the crowd, as if to people he knows. All politicians do this, by the way, and it signals, “I’ve got lots of friends out there. This is my crowd.” At Tuesday’s address, however, Joe did it at an inopportune time. I’m not sure his boss would have liked it. The boss wants to be the star of the show and don’t anyone dare take the spotlight off him.
The grand entrance and exit of the President has always been entertaining… kind of a political “red carpet.” I’m told that some of the members of Congress get their very early, like Hollywood’s red carpet, to stake out their seats. They do this in order to maximize face time with the President. Whether it is playing to the cameras or to the President himself, I find this a waste of time. But you see many of the same faces, who continue to get re-elected, year after year mugging it up. This almost pales in comparison, however, to those who shove their programs at him, seeking his autograph. Really? Is this the behavior that we expect out of those who are supposed to be running the country?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the presence of Sergeant Cory Remsburg, the Army Ranger who was invited to sit in the gallery next to the First Lady. It was a touching moment in the chamber when everyone on both sides of the aisle, and everywhere else, stood and acknowledged the service of this wounded warrior. Maybe there is some hope for Congress finding common ground after all. Surely this President would not invite this brave and damaged soldier to the event in order to gain support by modeling his own life struggles with those of Sergeant Remsburg. Surely not.
I have many friends who no longer tune in to this annual report. They don’t have the stomach for it, they say. Or, I can’t watch that man for that long. I’m starting to understand their point of view.
There is a new movie that will be released in a few days called “The Butler.” It is the real life story of Cecil Gaines, a black man who overcame an impoverished upbringing and during the turmoil of the civil rights era became butler at the White House. He went on to serve eight presidents. It appears to be a remarkable story of human triumph, overcoming the odds, and is sure to gain wide acclaim. Some might call it a “must see.”
I won’t be seeing “The Butler.”
Why? I’m making a statement. It may be a quiet one and one that won’t be heard by many but it is my vote against two actors with whom I have a real beef.
Jane Fonda plays the part of Nancy Reagan. (Yeah, I agree that the irony of it is worth a chuckle.) In 1972, I was just back from having spent the previous year in Vietnam. I was assigned as an aerial observer, flying around with some pretty remarkable guys in single engine aircraft in the northern part of the country. Imagine my shock… then my disappointment… then my aggravation… then my RAGE when I saw the pictures of “Hanoi Jane,” an American, yuking it up in the turrets of some of the anti-aircraft guns that just months before had been shooting at me and my buddies. She went on to visit the infamous Hanoi Hilton where she admonished our prisoners, telling them they should apologize. She blasted our country and our servicemen in a time of war. She sided with the enemy. You won’t find 5 servicemen out of the over two million who served there who would give Jane Fonda the time of day. (Okay, I’ll give you the current Secretary of State.) I certainly won’t hand over the price of admission to support this movie, even though she is only a minor player in it.
One of the lead actors in “The Butler” is Oprah Winfrey. Oprah has built an entertainment empire through hard work and a lot of talent. She’s probably the most influential woman in America. If Oprah endorses you, you’re in. It was always her stated policy to keep politics out of her show. At least it was until Barack Obama ran for president. She became one of his biggest supporters and had him and Michelle on her show many, many times. I’ve heard that she felt slighted once he got into the White House. So, when he ran again in ’12, she wasn’t as vocal, but she still supported him. It’s her show… I didn’t expect that she wouldn’t support the first black man for president.
But along comes the Trayvon Martin – George Zimmerman case. Oprah, along with the professional race baiters Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson screamed “RACISM” when the jury heard the case, listened to the witnesses, reviewed the evidence and rendered their verdict. Worse, she likened it to the Emmett Till case in 1956, saying she saw no difference. Others have made compelling arguments concerning the vast differences between these two cases. But it seems that all Oprah can see is a black-white issue. The hell with the evidence. The hell with Trayvon’s being on suspension from his school in Miami for multiple infractions. The hell with Trayvon’s love for fighting. So, who are the racists?
I’m one of those who sees our freedoms being eroded, the economy in the dumps, and racial harmony arguably at its lowest in 60 years. All of it being fed by a complicit media. I can’t imagine that “The Butler,”is going to do much to improve matters and Jane and Oprah don’t need my money anyway.
I’ll keep my $10, rent an old John Wayne movie and call it a day.
Several weeks ago, my wife and I had the enjoyable experience of taking our 8 year old grandson to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. If you haven’t been there, Cooperstown is a delightfully picturesque little town in central New York and well worth your visit. Though there is much to do in Cooperstown, the overriding theme, as it should be, is baseball.
Now, there is the actual Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Museum. The Hall of Fame is actually housed within the Museum. As I was walking through the museum, I noticed one exhibit that was a baseball player’s locker. There was a player’s jersey, home team white with the bright red number 14 on it… the jersey of the great Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds. Anyone who claims to be a fan of baseball knows what Pete Rose did while in the game. He is the all time leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562,) and at bats (14,053). He appeared in 17 All Star games. They didn’t call him “Charlie Hustle” for nothing. But, Pete Rose broke the rules. You may remember that just after he retired in 1989, he was placed on the “permanently ineligible” list by Major League Baseball stemming from allegations that he gambled on games. Pete claims to have never bet against his own team, but he accepted MLB’s decision. Two years later, the Baseball Hall of Fame voted to exclude anyone from the Hall who is on the permanently ineligible list. Since then, he has admitted to gambing problems and has even sought treatment. Still, rules are rules. He is still on the ineligible list and he is still not in the Hall of Fame.
But hold it… the title of this post has nothing to do with Pete Rose.
I guess we all have our demons and if Pete’s was gambling, then there is a whole bunch of modern day players who suffer from another one. The use of “PEDs.” However, using Performance Enhancing Drugs is not the demon. The demon is greed, the need for fame or recognition, or maybe the obsession to excel at all costs. There have been far too many players who have been accused of using drugs to boost their performance. Some have admitted to it… most have denied it… repeatedly.
Now I’m one of those who thinks that the salaries paid to men for playing boys’ games is way out of whack. Yes, I know the argument that it is really “entertainment,” and that these guys build big audiences who bring in billions of dollars. But something just ain’t right when an athlete (entertainer) is paid exponentially more than a school teacher… a fireman or a cop… an American soldier… or a President (even a bad one.) Truth be told, I still haven’t gotten over the strike by the players over twenty years ago. How much is enough?
Currently there are some twelve to fifteen Major League ball players under investigation for the use of PEDs. So why is Alex Rodriguez target of my ire? First, he has lied about it repeatedly… and adamantly. Like anyone caught in a lie, it was the evidence from the drug supplying laboratory in Miami that has held A-Rod’s feet to the fire. Secondly, he is the highest paid player in Major League Baseball and the role model for far too many youngsters.
What Pete Rose did had nothing to do with his athletic skills on the field. He didn’t make himself bigger or stronger through artificial means. Those players who use PEDs are exhibiting skills that they would not have without some pharmacist with a batch of drugs.
What are we to do? Have the folks at Cooperstown build another special wing on the building? We could set one aside for “Humans” and another for “Enhanced Humans.” Or, maybe we could just build another Hall of Fame using a Drug Store as the front so we’d know what to expect.
Fairness used to be important in sports. When it no longer is, it isn’t sports. I say, “Adios, A-Rod. And take the rest of the cheaters with you. I want to see my grandson’s admiration targeted toward those players who did it the old fashioned way.”
My pal, Tom Clark, a patriotic American, called the other day and invited me to accompany him into downtown Atlanta this morning to witness a Naturalization Ceremony. This, as you know, is the ceremony in which strangers from foreign lands become bona fide, certified, American citizens. These are the folks who came to our country through the front door. They stood in line, waited their turn and fulfilled all the requirements for citizenship. I accepted his invitation, albeit with luke warm enthusiasm. I’m closing in on the final chapters of a novel that I’ve been working on for over a year and thought the time might be better spent with it.
Boy, was I wrong. What I witnessed today is something that every American should see. My friend aptly said, “We really don’t know that we hit the lottery just from having been born here.” And he’s quite right. Today, approximately one hundred and twenty five newly minted U. S. citizens left that courtroom on the twenty-third floor. some with tears, all with smiles… and all with button-popping pride, being able to say, “Now I am an American.” By our count, folks from fifty-five countries raised their right hands and swore allegiance.
The Naturalization Ceremony is held every other month, or so, in a courtroom downtown in the Richard B. Russell Federal Building, and elsewhere around the State. It is held in federal districts in all of these United States, as needed. Today’s ceremony was presided over by a federal judge and included the presentation of the colors by a contingent from the Sons of the American Revolution. Each new citizen stood, gave their name and country of orgin, then as a group, took the oath. There was a short address by a speaker, then everyone, all of us, sang “God Bless America.” Okay, I’ll admit to tears at that point. Then, a representative from the Daughters of the American Revolution said a few words, ending with, “Welcome home, fellow Americans.”
What a great way to spend Flag Day. Welcome home, indeed.