Monday, August 27, 2007

What do we owe New Orleans?

As the second anniversary approaches of Hurriance Katrina, the Dallas daily newspaper asked this question: What do we owe to the city of New Orleans?
Yes, the local government and the state officials are probably corrupt and incompetent but their failures do NOT match the malfeseance and ineptitude of those lounging in Washington, DC. It is just redundant to list all the problems, illegalities and heinous responses from FEMA, the White House, etc. to a city and a people that should be treasured, not ignored, by Americans.
The federal government owes New Orleans as much as it owes Baghdad. At least New Orleanians pay taxes, goddamit. Iraqis are killling our troops while its government plays pussyfoot and bitches like little babies ("Momma, mean old Hillary pikced on me today!"). Not one much fucking dime should be spent there. Instead it should be plowed back into American infrastructure to rebuild THIS nation. Fuck Iraq and fuck the Iraqis!
The feds relocated a huge segment of the New Orleans population to the four winds, to ALL parts of the U.S., as far away as California and Utah, without asking anyone if they wanted to go there, via a ONE-WAY ticket. No honest attempt has been made to help these people return and resettle and ... rebuild. They said, "Hey you are and here you'll stay!" If you're black and from New Orleans, what is Utah or West Texas hold for you???
Billions, as has been the case in Iraq, has been squandered by FEMA and other federal departments, along with state and local officials, because, as of THIS date, no one has figured out how to deal with the disaster ... two years after the fact. At some point, this dog will get tired of chasing its tail and just stop. The feds have asked the survivors to accept shit and call it home.
But if we, as Americans, will not save and rebuild an AMERICAN city, what in God's name are we doing wasting a possible trillion dollars or so in the sands of a foreign land? This isn't xenophobic or isolationst; it's about doing for Americans FIRST and then helping the rest of the world. We show by example and how we haven't rebuilt New Orleans isn't showing the rest of the world a damn thing.
And we won't so long as George W. (Brownie, You're Doing a Heckuva Job) Bush is around. Or any other Republican.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

How to be the best possible FOOTBALL FATHER

Author's Note: The following column appeared in today's (Aug. 16, 2007) ediiton of the Dallas Morning News' Collin County Opinion Pages:
This month, the son of a dear friend of mine is embarking on his high school-level football career at one of Collin County’s programs. He is a young, talk strapping lad, with dreams of sacks and tackles dancing in his head.
His mother will sit in the stands for each of his games with a singular desire – that her little boy not get hurt – because that’s what mothers do. Despite a heavy business travel schedule, my friend’s husband will be there for his son’s games, either on Thursdays or Fridays. I hope that his eyes are filled with tears of joy from the pride he will feel watching his offspring perform.
In my years of watching and covering high school football (I estimate at more than 300 games), I have seen and heard it all – much of which is not pretty or useful – from all kinds of dads – the good, the bad and the really, really ugly. You can talk all about stage mothers and little league parents, but bad behavior by a football father can be as abhorrent as it gets.
There have been fathers who have charged the field to attack coaches and officials as well as grabbing their child by the face mask or even slapping the head. I’ve heard language that would make sailors blush and seen behavior I would believe to be “certifiable.”
Here are my suggestions to be the proper “football father.”
1) Do NOT yell at your child from the stands. There are too many ears in the stands, connected with too many mouths. Such boorish behavior only makes the father look bad and such impressions are quickly spread. Besides, unless you’re alone in the stadium, or have a voice like Foghorn Leghorn that can pierce through the shrill of 5,000 others, the intended target can’t hear you anyway.
2) Do NOT live your sports fantasies through your son. He is who he is; not who you used to be … or wanted to be. Living vicariously through a 15-, 16- or 17-year-old only hampers any athletic development on his part and will ultimately be injurious to the ongoing father-son relationship.
True, they don’t understand YOUR music or why you do what you do (and vice versa), but, in most cases, they will make you, as a father, proud.
3) Do NOT criticize your son’s coaches out loud in public. Bad plays are almost always due to poor execution (physical mistakes) rather than poor play calling. Besides, if you could do better, you’d be out there with your lower-than-you-should-be-paid teacher’s certificate, listening to verbal abuse heaped upon you, working six or seven days a week for 12-14 hours daily during the season, with your job performance splashed across the sports section every Saturday morning.
4) Analyze rather than criticize. The object of post-game analysis is to learn why things went right and, if some aspects failed, to discover why they were wrong. This is the true nature of coaching. What coaching needs to promote is effort; if you try to do your best all the time, no one can ask for more out of you.
One truism is not expressed to young athletes enough – sometimes your best just isn’t good enough. There are times when the other player or the other team is just better. But if you give that total effort, then you can hold your head high regardless of outcome.
5) Be positive, be happy, be there! He’s young, healthy, and wants to be part of a team effort rather than a lone wolf. A young man can learn so much more about life and relating to other people through team sports than individual activities. Football, in its purest form, promotes that more than any American sport on the landscape.
It is true that those positions that produce the points (quarterback, wide receivers, running backs) earn the acco­lades; it’s the nature of the game. However, without a collective effort of 22-plus men (linemen, defenders and even kickers), nothing gets done, no play succeeds and no touchdowns are scored. So encourage him.
I learned the hard way. The worst summer of my life was trying to coach a T-ball team with my son as its second baseman. It was a total no-win situation because nothing I said, or didn’t say, was going to be right in his eyes. I broke too many of my own rules and it took years to right that ship. I’ve watched and learned; I’ve been there and experienced most of that – to obtain a pretty good conception of how a football father should act from what us old-timers used to know as “the peanut gallery.”
Dad, let Mom do the worrying and you do the cheering. Your son will worship you for it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Katrina anniversary: Still no help for NOLA

In less than two weeks, it will be the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and what was effectively the destruction of (perhaps) the greatest American city - New Orleans. And in that time, little has been done to revive this asset to our nation to anything resembling its former self.
If you don't believe me, simply find a copy, or watch one of the HBO channels, and see Spike Lee's genius (and humbling) documentary "When the Levees Broke," the four-hour series that will break your heart all over again. Every topic examined - from the warnings to the government's response (immediate after the rains came and in the months following) - essentially remains as it was - stagnant and non-productive. Spike could have an addendum about how the insurance companies found a friendly federal judicial panel to void any responsibility for payment of damages to NOLA homeowners (mostly midle class to poor), how those lousy, piece of shit FEMA trailers turned out to be tiny tubs of toxicity to how most of the Ninth Ward is still a pile of rubble, two years later. Spike could show how Mississippi has been helped far more because IT has a GOP governor and Louisiana does NOT.
He could show how people like Karl Rove turned their back on Louisiana because those evacuated were mostly black and not likely to support HIS boss. Spike could also show how quickly the White House responded with help, such as the Minnesota I-35 bridge collapse, and a personal visit, compared to the slow response to New Orleans' plight. By the way, the governor of Minnesota is a ... Republican.
He could also show how many people were relocated to all parts of the U.S. and not given any means - financial or otherwisae - to return to their HOMES while those homes are being bought, sold and plowed from under them.
This anniversary should not be marked by celebration, but by prayers for the shame it has brought upon our society and our nation. It is a pox on our nation's house that we STILL seem not ready to solve. And that is a crime for which NO ONE is answerable.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Confronting the homeless problem

There was an interesting question on the blog from the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News (Dallas Morning Views) - what to do with homeless people. Here was my response:
First, people must recognize that the "homeless" usually are NOT there by choice, but by circumstance. A little more compassion other than treating them as throwaway people would be nice.
Second, there must be a division as to the reasons and then those problems must be dealt with. Homeless people with children are more often economic victims and resources must be provided (private is just fine if the sector is willing and compassionate) to get them OFF the dangerous streets, into a safe and clean environment, offer some semblance of training and job placement and prepare them to re-enter sosciety as productive and independent people.
Third, for those homeless suffering from drug, alcohol and mental prolbems, there must be facilities willing to accept them and treat them. The goal is to get them help and, hopefully, after time, return them (if possible) as productive societal members.
Fourth, recognize that there are homeless in places not normally associated with sucha problem. We have many homeless people here in rich old Collin County, although the citizenry and too many elected officials, would just as soon have them disappear into thin air. They won't and it is a growing problem that MUST be confronted. Because more and more, with the growing foreclosure problems, a new breed of homeless person will emerge -- unable to cope with the rapid personal decline and unknowledgable about where to turn in troubled times.
But first, to get them OFF the streets, society must have a place for them to go and enough room and resources to handle the influx.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Keep your mouths SHUT!

In the wake of the tragic and horrific bridge collapse in Minneapolis, I'll make this short and sweet:
Here is Dallas, certain off-the-wall,non-thinking local radio talk show hosts spent SO much airtime claiming that the bridge collapse could be an act of terrorism? WHY? To stir up fears among people when it is unneccesary (certainly without a shred of evidence to prove any such theory)? I can imagine that some radical right-wing, anti-foreigner (and not the 1970s rock group, either) yakkers spread the same horseshit on a national basis.
Such irresponsibility, merely to pander to an audience, should not be tolerated by the general public. People should flood local outlets with complaints that driv ehoem the same point, "We wills topping listening to your station and this drivel."
Remember, HAVING the freedom of speech also means you have the freedom, and good sense, to know when NOT to use it.
So shut the fuck UP!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Hey, Rummy, you dummy, you ARE responsible!

This is the AP lead to today's (Aug. 1) Congressional testimony by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appearance about the coverup and lying concerning the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman, the former NFL star who died in combat, from friendly fire, in Afghanistan:
"WASHINGTON -- Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld defended himself and took no personal responsibility Wednesday for the military's bungled response to Army Ranger Pat Tillman's friendly-fire death in Afghanistan."

While, in this sungular case, it is quite believeable that he was never told the truth, it just sounds like more of the same from the Bush administration. It was this attitude, set by the leader of that department (Rumsfield) that led to having three-star generals lie to superiors in order to make bad things look better instead of telling the truth and dealing with that.
So, in that respect, Mr. Rumsfeld IS responsible. He SHOULD be held accountable... but he won't.
Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Myers said he felt no responsibility whatever to answer for anything -- as callous a remark that can be made with the family in the same room. Such "me first" thinking is what has led the U.S. to become so hated around the world and led to the military debacle that is Iraq.
Lying - THAT is the real legacy that will be left, like so much DOGSHIT, by the Bushies. It will take decades for this nation to recover.
Goddamn them all!