Friday, March 31, 2006

Illegals help the economy? The numbers don't add up.

I supported President George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004.

I have always believed he is a man of conviction when it comes to fighting the global war on terrorism.

He made two great choices for the vacancies on the Supreme Court of the United States.

And his tax cuts? Hey, I’ve never met a tax cut I didn’t like.

All that said, I am totally befuddled and more than a little disappointed in the President’s approach to the illegal immigration problem.

The Bush administration’s official position on illegal immigration from day one has been to implement some sort of “Guest Worker” program. This would be a temporary-worker program to match willing foreign workers with willing employers when no Americans can be found to fill the job.

My question is how thoroughly have “willing employers” sought Americans to fill certain jobs as opposed to simply hiring illegal immigrants?

As CNN’s Lou Dobbs pointed out, employers stand to gain a lot from hiring illegals while others bear a significant burden.

"There are 280 million legal citizens of this country. They are the ones carrying the burden of 20 million illegal immigrants. Oh, it's a great benefit for illegal employers. But don't you dare suggest that it is a benefit to working men and women, who are watching $200 billion of wages disappear every year because of illegal immigration. They're paying for their health care. They're paying for their children in schools that are overcrowded. We are failing the people who built this country, the American middle-class. Don't tell me how important illegal immigration is, because it's utter nonsense."

What also has me more than a little disturbed is I am now citing perpetual Bush-basher Paul Krugman, economy professor and NY Times columnist, to further make the case.

The willingness of Americans to do a job depends on how much that job pays - and the reason some jobs pay too little to attract native-born Americans is competition from poorly paid immigrants.

It was we in the conservative base which fought vehemently for your 2004 re-election, Mr. President.

I hope you remember that while placating Mexican president Vicente Fox.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Tale of two Mothers.

Jill Carroll, the “Christian Science Monitor” reporter kidnapped in Iraq earlier this year, is alive and well!

Wearing a green Islamic head scarf, American reporter Jill Carroll walked into an Iraqi political party office Thursday, set free nearly three months after being kidnapped in an ambush that killed her translator.

"I was treated well, but I don't know why I was kidnapped," Carroll said on Baghdad television, only weeks after she appeared weeping in a video put out by kidnappers who had threatened to kill her.

Her family thanked "the generous people around the world who worked officially or unofficially" to gain her freedom.

During the whole ordeal surrounding Ms. Carroll’s detention, I was struck by the contrast between Carroll’s mother Mary Beth and Cindy Sheehan, mother of fallen soldier Casey Sheehan.

After Casey Sheehan was killed in the Iraqi conflict, Mrs. Sheehan turned her son’s death into a personal vendetta against President George W. Bush.

In addition to speaking out against the Iraq war, Sheehan has taken to spewing rhetoric on Hurricane Katrina, Israel-Palestine and taxation. In doing so, she has become a pawn in the liberal assault on Bush’s presidency. Michael Moore gleefully took advantage of Mrs. Sheehan’s newfound celebrity (since Moore himself was exposed as a fraud) by propagandizing her comments on his website. For me, one of the worst aspects about Sheehan’s rise to fame is that it is attempting to resurrect the career of another Bush loather in actress Susan Sarandon. Good ol’ Suze has been slated to portray Sheehan in a biopic film. Wasn’t it bad enough movie audiences had to endure Sarandon in “The Banger Sisters?”

Again, I have said many times that I truly sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. I’m told that there is nothing more heart-wrenching than your child leaving this earth before you do. I do not doubt that one iota. But the fact of the matter is Casey Sheehan volunteered to join the military and serve his country. When it comes to matters of war, our soldiers are not placated. They are made fully aware of the possible consequences that come with combat. Nevertheless, in an August interview with NPR, Mrs. Sheehan shamelessly accused the military of having lied to her son and that Casey was somehow duped into enlisting (listen to her disgraceful performance in that interview here).

Compare Mrs. Sheehan’s actions to the grace and dignity shown by Mary Beth Carroll. For the last three months she has had live with the dreaded fear that she may never see her daughter alive again. I can’t imagine the day-to-day trepidation that Mrs. Carroll felt in not knowing the fate of her daughter.

Jill Carroll had voluntarily gone to Iraq to report on the plight of the Iraqi people in war time. Upon her capture, there must have been a myriad of emotions going through the mind of Jill’s entire family. From everything I have read on this story, the Carroll family has never made public their stance on the Iraq war.

Instead, Mrs. Carroll came out and made a dignified plea for her daughter’s life.

Taking vengeance on my innocent daughter who loves Iraq and its people will not create justice. To her captors, I say that Jill's welfare depends upon you. And so we call upon you to ensure that Jill is returned safely home to her family, who needs her and loves her.

When interviewed by CNN in January, Mrs. Carroll stated that she had talked with her daughter about the dangers of going to Iraq.

"I told her frankly how I felt if she was kidnapped, what I would be thinking, and [that I would be] supporting her and knowing that she was doing what she loved and what she thought was very important to do, and that that would give me and her family comfort at this time, and it does," she said.

"She knew what the dangers were, she knew what the risks were, and she chose to accept those, because what she was doing to communicate to the world the sufferings of the Iraqi people was important."

I am certain Casey Sheehan also knew the dangers of his mission and what the risks were. By joining the military, he too chose to accept those risks knowing the importance of his service.

I know Cindy Sheehan still grieves her son’s loss. But couldn’t she, like Mary Beth Carroll, honor the commitment of her child in spite of not agreeing with the mission?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Another "Toy Story".

I’m sure you’re familiar with these “Toy Chest” machines. You insert money and attempt to grab a toy by strategically lowering the claw over the prize you want.

What happens if a kid, who desperately wants a toy, does not have money to play the game?

Devin Haskin isn't the first little boy to find the inside of a toy machine too enticing to resist.

When the 3-year-old Austin, Minn., boy crawled through the discharge chute of a Toy Chest claw machine at a Godfather's Pizza in his hometown, he ended up on the other side of the glass surrounded by stuffed animals.

Rescuers had to pry the door open to get Devin out, though the boy was in no hurry to leave.

I bet not.

As an aside, I wonder if Devin’s older brother suggested getting twenty bucks worth of quarters and playing the game to try to get him out. As an older brother myself, I can vouch for the fact that it’s more creative than coercing the younger sibling into swallowing a nickel.

I’ve been apologizing to my younger brother for thirty years over that one.


So proclaimed the 80s favorite stoner Jeff Spicoli, played by Sean Penn in the 1982 film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

These days, it appears Spicoli’s alter ego may be on something a little more potent than marijuana.

Hollywood activist Sean Penn has a plastic doll of conservative US columnist Ann Coulter that he likes to abuse when angry. The Oscar-winner actor has hated Coulter ever since she blacklisted his director father Leo Penn in her book “TREASON.”

I thought Coulter’s more astute observance in said book was about Sean himself, proclaiming him the head of “Chain-Smoking Drunks Against War.”

(Penn) takes out his frustrations with Coulter, who is a best-selling author, lawyer and television pundit, on the Barbie-like doll. In an interview with The New Yorker magazine, Penn reveals, "We violate her. There are cigarette burns in some funny places.”

I wonder if Penn breaks into “Spicoli speak” when debasing the Coulter doll.

Come on, Sean. Practicing voodoo? Even when Spicoli got high he only banged a shoe against his head.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Watching ladies skate? Go figure.

When do you tell your wife you love her? Whenever possible.

What is one of many ways you can show your wife you love her? By taking a genuine interest in what she’s interested in.

My wife has been a fan of figure skating for quite some time. Even before the superficial interest generated by the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding scandal, my wife always eagerly anticipated the Olympic figure skating championships.

Over the past few Olympics, I have learned the names of such stars as Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes, Tara Lipinski and Sasha Cohen. I have even gone so far to take in interest in my wife’s favorite skater (Kwan) and her attempts to land the elusive Olympic gold medal.

Saturday evening, my vague interest seemed to turn into borderline fanaticism.

We were visiting my in-laws Saturday evening when I went to their computer to check With the NCAA men’s basketball tournament taking place, I was eager to see the results of that day’s games. Before I went to the college scoreboard, I saw a headline that stated 16-year old Kimmie Meissner won the 2006 World Figure Skating Championships. I sprung out of the chair to tell my wife the exciting news. I knew it would please her since she liked Meissner but was not a fan of Cohen.

My wife’s reaction was as predicted. Mine, however, was highly unusual. I found myself enthusiastically giving details of Meissner’s victory, how she nailed seven “triples” in a near “flawless skate.”

I even joined my wife in watching the replay of the skate on ESPN. In watching Meissner skate I commented on her perfect landings after the “triple Lutz-double toe.” But when I used the phrase “triple Salchow”, I knew something had gone desperately wrong. I had gone from being a loving, supportive husband to, dare I say, a FAN???!!

How could this be? I live to see a hard-hitting tackle in an NFL game. I gauge the quality of an NHL fight by the amount of blood spilled.

But being engrossed in ladies figure skating??

Not to worry. Emasculation had not set in. This afternoon, I sat down to watch college basketball. I sat in my favorite chair with a bowl of popcorn in my lap, my favorite beverage (Diet Coke) in one hand……

…..and my other hand tucked in the front of my pants.

All seemed right with the world.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Minnesota nice.....unless you ask for a trade.

In case you didn’t realize (and judging by consistently empty seats at Target Center, you in fact didn’t), the Minnesota Timberwolves still have seven home games remaining this regular season.

Their final stretch begins today when the Wolves host the eeeevil Stephon Marbury and the New York Knickerbockers. We all remember Marbury. He was the young point guard phenom the Wolves acquired in a draft day swap with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1996. Upon that acquisition, visions of countless NBA championships danced in the heads of Wolves fans. Steph and Kevin Garnett were the modern day Magic and Kareem, bringing “Showtime” to the Upper Midwest.

However, after only two seasons, the dreams were shattered.

In February 1999, Marbury demanded a trade to a team where he would be highest paid. Under the collective bargaining agreement signed by the NBA and its players in 1999, the maximum contract Marbury could attain was a 7-year, $86 million pact. Since Garnett signed for $125 million prior to the new agreement, Marbury could not be highest paid on the Timberwolves. I guess his ego couldn’t handle the degradation of getting by on only $12.3 million per year. So Steph forced a trade to the New Jersey Nets where he signed the exact same 7-year deal the Wolves offered, all so he could be the richest guy on the Nets squad.

In Marbury’s first visit to Target Center as an opponent, he was booed mercilessly by the Wolves faithful. Every time he touched the ball, a steady stream of cat calls would rain down. In fact, whenever Marbury returned to 600 1st Avenue in subsequent seasons (whether it was with the Nets, Suns or Knicks), he was served constant reminders of how the fans felt they were robbed of an NBA title or two.

I have been a Minnesota sports fan for almost thirty years now. I can honestly say that Twin Cities’ sports fans have some of the thinnest skin amongst any devotees. A player demands to leave a Minnesota organization for whatever reason, the Minnesota faithful feel spurned. So the fan reaction towards the defectors upon their return with a new team will sometimes border on the irrational.

I remember when Chuck Knoblauch asked the Minnesota Twins to trade him after the 1997 season. The former second baseman was dealt to the New York Yankees for pitcher Eric Milton, Shortstop Cristian Guzman and Outfielder Brian Buchanan.

Knoblauch was a popular player here since his inaugural season of 1991 when he was voted AL rookie of the year. He was also a key component of the Twins winning the World Series that same season.

However, after about five or six years when it became obvious the Twins didn’t want to field a competitive team, Knoblauch asked to be traded after his seventh season with the club.

You can imagine the slap in the face the fans felt when Knoblauch caught on with the Yankees in 1998, the first year in what would be three straight seasons ending in a World Series title for New York.

Despite the Twins getting in the trade a solid starting pitcher in Milton and a slick fielder in Guzman (both made the AL All-Star team in 2001), the fans only remember Knoblauch committing the unforgivable sin of wanting to leave Minnesota.

The absurdity culminated in May 2001 when Knoblauch came to town with the Yankees, this time as a left fielder. Since Knoblauch had completely lost his competence as a second baseman, he was relegated to the outfield. In left field, he was easy pickings for the still-bitter Twins fans as they who proceeded to shower Knobby with hot dogs, coins, etc. The game even had to be delayed until the impromptu littering ceased. It was bad enough that Knobby’s career was in a downward spiral. He had to face the wrath of some scorned Twins fans.

Whether it’s the Minnesota Vikings’ faithful jeering former lineman Todd Steussie or Minnesota Wild fans booing an entire team (The Dallas Stars, formerly our Minnesota North Stars) in the Wild’s debut season of 2000, sports fans in this state seem to have long memories.

It’s time to GET OVER IT!

The fact of the matter is there will never be another “dynasty” in pro sports where it’s the same players year in and year out leading a single team to glory.

As long as the jersey says “Minnesota”, the player donning that attire is who’s representing this state in the sports world.

Like Jerry Seinfeld once accurately proclaimed: “We’re rooting for laundry.”

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Grumpy Old Men.

The ripple effects from Laura Ingraham’s appearance on The Today Show earlier this week just don’t seem to end. Ingraham, who returned last month from a week-long trip to Iraq, expressed her frustration with the Mainstream Media not reporting some of the positive aspects of the Iraq war. During her interview on Tuesday’s show, Ingraham felt that too many negative stories about the conflict are being perpetuated by media types who have never even been to Iraq.

Jack Cafferty was, as usual, in “Grumpy Old Man” mode in his Thursday appearance on CNN’s “The Situation Room.” When asked of the perceived negative coverage of the Iraq war, Cafferty had this to say:

“This is nonsense. ‘It’s the media’s fault and the news isn’t good in Iraq.’ The news isn’t good in Iraq. There’s violence in Iraq. People are found dead every day in the streets of Baghdad. This didn’t turn out the way the politicians told us it would. And it’s our fault? I beg to differ.”

Again, no one is portraying Iraq as some peaceful oasis (unless you count the time Michael Moore did so in his film “Fahrenheit 9/11”. The scene with Iraqi kids flying kites just prior to the first air strikes). And certainly no one is blaming the media for the violence. The point Laura Ingraham was making is that if you go out and talk to the soldiers on the ground, the Iraqi military and the villagers (like she did), they certainly will not concur with the MSM that all hope is lost.

Last month, “60 Minutes” correspondent Mike Wallace, 87, was promoting a story he did on four severely wounded veterans of the Iraq war. You can imagine the shock experienced by this Grumpy Old Man when he was told by the wounded soldiers that they actually support the mission in Iraq.

“I was astonished: Almost all of them support the war, despite the fact that it’s taken such a toll on them. We asked them flat out: Should we be there? And the ones that are the most severely hit believe yes, we should have been there. They are not angry at the President, they’re not angry at the establishment.”

However, the same can not be said for Mr. Wallace. Apparently still bitter over the fact President Bush has declined his repeated interview requests, Wallace told the Boston Globe in December what he would ask the President if given a chance.

“What in the world prepared you to be the commander in chief of the largest superpower in the world? In your background, Mr. President, you apparently were incurious. You didn't want to travel. You knew very little about the military. . . . The governor of Texas doesn't have the kind of power that some governors have. . . . Why do you think they nominated you? . . . Do you think that has anything to do with the fact that the country is so [expletive] up?”

Yes, these are just two examples of some of the pompous windbags working in the media. All of a sudden they should be exempt from criticism? And just because Wallace has interviewed every U.S. President since Kennedy, that’s supposed to mean something to President Bush?

The MSM no longer has a monopoly on the news.

And that has them downright grumpy.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The $10,000,000 question.

When the Washington Nationals acquired Alfonso Soriano from the Texas Rangers in an off-season trade, they preferred he play left field instead of second base. In his five-year big league career with the Rangers and New York Yankees, Soriano has been a very good hitter. However, his defense at second base has been (to be kind) less than adequate. Despite that fact, Soriano was adamant he stay at second base. It got to the point where he insisted on playing second base…..or not at all.

On Tuesday, he released a statement that he would make up his mind today.

"I'm going to think about it," Soriano told, saying he was going to talk with his wife and agent.

Talk to his wife? Soriano is scheduled to make $10 million dollars this season. With about 26 weeks in a baseball season, players are paid every other week.

That’s a gross salary of $769,230.77 every two weeks. With about half going to taxes, you’re talking approximately $390,000 take home pay.

I can imagine that consultation with the wife:

Wife: How much will you get every two weeks if you play?

Alfonso: About $390,000.

Wife: And if you don’t play?

Alfonso: Zero.

Wife: Get your left fielder’s glove!

Soriano was indeed in left field for today’s spring training game.

Today Show becoming yesterday's news.

I have always thoroughly enjoyed listening to radio host Laura Ingraham (center, with my wife & I). She’s a reformed lawyer who has authored two books and hosts one of the most popular syndicated radio shows in the country.
Her passion for conservative politics is beyond reproach. However, since her visit to Iraq last month, she has taken that passion to another level. It’s one thing to proclaim support for the troops and their mission in the Iraq war, which Laura has genuinely done. But it seems a whole new perspective has overcome her since she broadcast her radio show from Iraq.

So it was a joy to see Laura taking on NY Times reporter David Gregory and Democrat strategist James Carville on the Today Show yesterday.

Laura definitely took it to the guys when given her first opportunity to respond to Gregory’s point that President Bush is trying to speak candidly about the war but is not being heard.

Ingraham: "Well here, here's what I think David. I think with all the resources of networks like NBC. The Today show spends all this money to send people to the Olympics, which is great, it was great programming. All this money for ‘Where In The World Is Matt Lauer?’ Bring the Today show to Iraq. Bring the Today show to Tal Afar. Do the show from the 4th ID at Camp Victory and then when you talk to those soldiers on the ground, when you go out with the Iraqi military, when you talk to the villagers, when you see the children, then I want NBC to report on only the IEDs, only the killings, only, only the reprisals. When people are on the ground whether it's recently, David Ignatius of the Washington Post, whether it's recently..."

Gregory: "Okay but, but Laura let's be, hold on, let's be..."

Ingraham: "Let me finish David because you got, you guys are, no, no, let me finish, let me finish..."

Gregory: "Wait a minute Laura! Wait a second! If you want to be fair. First of all the Today show went to Iraq. Matt Lauer was there, he reported there."

Ingraham: "Did he do a show, did you do a show from Iraq?"

Gregory: "Okay and we, and we've got a bureau there so..."

Ingraham: "Yeah. David, David to do a show from Iraq means to talk to the Iraqi military to go out with the Iraqi military, to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off. It is very difficult in Iraq. People are struggling..."

Gregory: "And you, and you think Iraq is safe enough to, have you been there long enough to venture outside the hotel balconies?!"

Ingraham: "David, yes I did. I wasn't in a hotel balcony I was out with the U.S. military and it can be done in any part of the country.”

Well, Gregory got one thing right. Matt Lauer did indeed report from Iraq just last August. I seem to recall Lauer attempting to perpetuate the “doom-and-gloom” reporting that has taken place for most of the past three years.

Here’s an excerpt of an interview done with an optimistic Captain Sherman Powell in Baghdad.

Lauer: "Don't get me wrong, I think you're probably telling the truth, but there might be a lot of people at home wondering how that could be possible with the conditions you're facing and with the insurgent attacks you're facing. What would you say to those people who are doubtful that morale could be that high?"

Powell: “Well sir, I'd tell you, if I got my news from the newspapers also I'd be pretty depressed as well!"

Lauer: “What don’t you think is being correctly portrayed?”

Powell: “Sir, I know it’s hard to get out and get on the ground and report the news, and I understand that, and I appreciate that fact. But for those of us who have actually had a chance to get out and meet the Iraqi Army and Iraqi police and go on patrols with them, we are very satisfied with the way things are going here and we are confident that if we are allowed to finish the job we started we'll be very proud of it and our country will be proud of us for doing it!"

It would appear that the Iraqi conflict is the equivalent of “The Chinese Bamboo Tree.” In a nutshell, a seed for the tree is planted. For a whole year the seed is watered and fertilized but nothing appears. Year two, the seed is watered and fertilized, but nothing appears. Same with year three and year four.

In the fifth year? The tree grows 80 feet!

President Bush has cast a long-term vision for Iraq in the motif of The Chinese Bamboo Tree.

The pessimists, however, are ready to dig up the seed after only three years.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Separated at birth: Mark Madsen & Trevor Carlson.

Mark “Mad Dog” Madsen (left) and Trevor (no relation to yours truly) Carlson.

Mark Madsen plays pro basketball for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Trevor and his wife Noel are good friends of my wife & I.

Israel will be OK.

President George W. Bush, in a speech given yesterday, addressed Iran’s repeated threats of nuclear action against Israel.

"I made it clear, and I'll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally Israel," said Bush, who was apparently referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for the destruction of Israel.

President Bush has never made any secret that he is grounded in his faith in the Lord. There are those who may be appalled by his steadfastness in the face of such a dangerous foe like Iran.

I believe President Bush’s boldness can be attributed to what the Word of God has to say about the fate of the Holy Land.

This is the word of the LORD concerning Israel. The LORD, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares:

"I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.

On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.

On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness," declares the LORD. "I will keep a watchful eye over the house of Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations.

Then the leaders of Judah will say in their hearts, 'The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the LORD Almighty is their God.'

Zechariah 12:1-5 (New International Version)

I guess the message is pretty clear.

Those nations who choose to wage war on Israel will do so at their own peril.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Breaking Barriers.

A little over a month ago I posted a blog entry detailing the struggles in my relationship with my Dad. Many friends, relatives and peers have contacted me via phone and e-mail to let me know how much they appreciated what I had written. As a result, I have been through much prayer and introspection in the last five weeks, wondering what life may hold for me when I become a father.

Thankfully, I have an incredibly loving wife with whom I can raise a child. I can already tell she is going to be a great Mom! All of her life she has had a terrific relationship with her Mom and Dad, who are still married today after almost 40 years! My mother in-law has been a great example on how to make a happy home. I can honestly say that my wife is successfully applying those techniques.

Unfortunately, I did not have a good example of what it was like to live in a harmonious environment. My Mom and Dad divorced when I was only three years old. Since Dad moved to California shortly thereafter, I did not have much of a relationship with him in my formative years.

When I began to date in college, I found myself almost completely incapable of maintaining a cordial relationship with a woman. It may have started out nice, as it usually does in the wooing stage. However, I would feel myself becoming cynical and impatient after a few weeks. It was a proverbial Dr Jekyll turning into Mr. Hyde. It also didn’t help that I inherited Dad and Grandpa’s hair-trigger bad temper. Needless to say, the breakups with girlfriends were less than civil. I was even engaged to be married after I graduated college in 1992. That lasted all of five months.

At that point, I just accepted as my lot in life that I, like my Dad, had an inherent inability to maintain a good relationship with a woman.

Thankfully on July 11, 1998 I met the woman who made me want to be a better person, the woman I would one day marry. Jennifer & I have been married now for 5 ½ glorious years! Now we are thinking seriously about starting a family. Obviously, my family history weighs on my mind in how effective I will be as a Dad. This is the very thing which I have been strenuously praying over.

What I can tell you is recently I heard an encouraging word from God. No, it was not His actual audible voice. God can speak to one through many venues.

Within the past week I began reading a fantastic book entitled “Your Best Life Now”, by Joel Osteen. What really impacted me was the following passage contained in Chapter 4, a chapter entitled “Breaking the Barriers of the Past.”

Maybe you are living with the things that have been in your family line for two or three or more generations. Alcoholism, drug addiction, poverty, depression, anger, low self-esteem, whatever the problem, the good news is that you have an opportunity to break the negative cycle. You can choose to rise up and say, “With God’s help, I’m turning the tide. I’m trusting God and taking responsibility for my own actions. I’m setting a new standard.”

I had read that excerpt before I went to bed Thursday evening. Combine that with the song I heard the very next morning on my clock radio as the alarm sounded. I awoke to Sara Groves’ song “Generations.”

Remind me of this with every decision.
Generations will reap what I sow.
I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I will never know.

I have indeed decided to set a new standard.

The well-being of my future generations depends on it.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Separated at birth? Susan Sarandon & Cindy Sheehan.

OK, I don’t see much of a resemblance either. However, Hollywood seems to think their makeup artists will be able to use their brilliant techniques to make them look alike.

Drudge linked to a story which stated that actress Susan Sarandon will portray anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan in a biopic movie.

Both ladies’ rhetoric against the President has been similar so Sarandon seems to be the logical choice.

Since this movie will no doubt aim to ridicule President Bush, the producers will probably solicit the services of actor Timothy Bottoms to play the part of Commander in Chief. It is Bottoms who starred in the Presidential satire “That’s My Bush”, a 2001 TV series aimed at parodying the Bush administration.

I wonder if they’ll have Michael Moore portraying himself as Mrs. Sheehan’s puppet master.

Friday, March 17, 2006

So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehn, good night.

Anybody looking for a pet llama? I bet I know where you can get one at a discount.

Michael Jackson has shut down his Neverland Ranch for good. Employees were summoned to the ranch this afternoon in staggered groups, given back pay for 12 weeks through today, and were told the ranch had been shut down by the California Department of Labor.

In fact, Jackson made the decision to lay off more than 60 loyal staffers after making them wait through three months with no pay. Their health insurance ran out on February 28th. Last week, the State closed the ranch because Jackson carried no workmen's compensation.

The “Bad” thing about this whole episode is that the workers didn’t “Beat It” a lot sooner than they did. Now there may be lawsuits filed by Neverland’s former employees. My advice to them is “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough.” Since these workers feel quite jilted they want somebody to answer for their plight. I guess frivolous lawsuits have become “Human Nature.”

Jackson faces several lawsuits as well as the foreclosure on $270 million of loans.

Still not clear is who paid the final back pay, which could have totaled $400,000. Jackson also has to pay the state two separate fines, one for $69,000 and another, to be determined on Friday, over $100,000.

I almost feel sorry for Michael in this whole situation. However, if he chooses to blame someone for his difficulties, he need not look any further than “The Man in the Mirror.”

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Democrats can run but they can not hide.

Yeah, there’s perfect harmony and unity in the Democratic party today. They’re unified against one of their own.

Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold accused fellow Democrats on Tuesday of cowering rather than joining him on trying to censure President Bush over domestic spying.

"Democrats run and hide" when the administration invokes the war on terrorism, Feingold told reporters.

Why do you suppose that is? Could it be because the President actually has a plan to combat terrorism, a plan which has been implemented and is working?

Feingold's resolution condemns Bush's "unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans within the United States without obtaining the court orders required" by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The only regret we should have about this so-called “domestic spying” is that it wasn’t put in to play prior to September 11, 2001. In testimony at the trial of confessed Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui last week, details were given that nearly all of the 9/11 hijackers made calls from the U.S. to a single phone number in Hamburg, Germany.

Let’s suppose the White House, prior to 9/11/01, received a tip stating terrorists were planning on attacking the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, etc. One way to obtain information would have been to listen in on the dialogue exchanged in those aforementioned calls made to terror cells in Germany. What if the request for surveillance had still been tied up in the FISA courts on 9/11/01? Can you imagine the rhetoric from Feingold et al? “The President clearly violated his oath to protect this nation. A matter this pressing should not be bogged down in a bureaucracy of courts.”

Time is of the essence when it comes to National Security. Since Congressional Democrats have been consistently described as weak in such matters as this county’s security, they seem to be running for cover from the Feingold resolution.

Democratic senators, filing in for their weekly caucus lunch yesterday, looked as if they'd seen a ghost.

"I haven't read it," demurred Barack Obama (Ill.).

"I just don't have enough information," protested Ben Nelson (Neb.). "I really can't right now," John Kerry (Mass.) said as he hurried past a knot of reporters -- an excuse that fell apart when Kerry was forced into an awkward wait as Capitol Police stopped an aide at the magnetometer.

Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) brushed past the press pack, shaking her head and waving her hand over her shoulder. When an errant food cart blocked her entrance to the meeting room, she tried to hide from reporters behind the 4-foot-11 Barbara Mikulski (Md.).

"Ask her after lunch," offered Clinton's spokesman, Philippe Reines. But Clinton, with most of her colleagues, fled the lunch out a back door as if escaping a fire.

How fitting. The Democrat’s 2006 election aspirations to regain power, like Feingold’s resolution, seem to be going up in smoke.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Separated at birth: Ashton Kutcher & A.J. Detwiler

Actor (and "Mr. Demi Moore") Ashton Kutcher (left) and Pennsylvania high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler.

Who's A.J. Detwiler? Read his heart-wrenching story here.

Culpepper dealt.

It’s official. Daunte Culpepper is now a former Vikings quarterback.

Two months of increasing acrimony came to an end Tuesday when the Vikings traded quarterback Daunte Culpepper to Miami, reportedly for a second-round draft pick.

The team confirmed that the trade has been agreed to in principle, but a team spokesman would not confirm the compensation. That reluctance indicates the price tag might be contingent on a physical that Culpepper is scheduled to take today in Miami.

This trade culminates what has been a stunning fall from grace. Culpepper was anointed the team leader this time last year when the Vikings jettisoned wide receiver Randy Moss to Oakland. In the eyes of the Vikings brain trust, Culpepper’s performance in 2004 in the five games without an injured Moss seemed to solidify Daunte’s stature. Hence, Moss was moved.

However, a horrible start to the 2005 season, a prominent role in the “Love Boat” scandal and a devastating knee injury put Culpepper’s Viking career on thin ice. Combine that with a whole new coaching staff looking to implement a new offense as well as Culpepper’s refusal to rehab his knee at the Vikings facility, you had what appeared to be irreparable morale damage.

When drafted number eleven overall in the 1999 draft, Culpepper was a “can’t miss” franchise quarterback, a “Steve McNair in a linebacker’s body.”

Seven years later, the Vikings are once again without a long-term solution at QB.

Separated at birth: San Fran Nan and the Runaway bride.

Is it possible that Nancy Pelosi (left) gave up Jennifer Wilbanks for adoption 30-plus years ago?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Remembering Kirby with a smile.

As expected, the Kirby Puckett memorial service on Sunday at the Metordome ran the gamut of emotions. There were cheers and tears as well laughter and sadness.

Here is one final laugh-out-loud moment that made Kirby the jolly fella we all wish to remember.

In May of 1997, Kirby stopped by “The Late Show with David Letterman” to be a part of the Letterman staple known as the “Top Ten” lists.

The category?

Top Ten Ways to Mispronounce Kirby Puckett

10. Kooby Pickett

9. Creepy Pockets

8. Bernie Crumpet

7. Turkey Bucket

6. Buddy Hackett

5. The Puckett Formerly Known as Kirby

4. Punky Brewster

3. Kent Hrbek

2. There once was a man from Nantucket who Kirbied his very own Puckett

AND #1.....

....... Englepuck Kirbydink

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Packing it in.

The Minnesota Vikings started the free agency period with a flurry this weekend, including the signing of Green Bay Packers kicker Ryan Longwell.

If you ask the reaction of any Packers fans most of them will immediately tell you that Longwell “wasn’t that good anyways”, or something along those lines.

When the Vikings signed former Packer Darren Sharper last year, many of my friends and relatives who are Packer backers scoffed at that acquisition saying Sharper was well past his prime. Yeah, all Sharper did last season with the Vikings was tie a career high with nine interceptions and gain a berth in the Pro Bowl.

There is no doubt that the Green Bay Packers are one of the most storied franchises in all of pro sports. Their twelve championships are more than any other team in NFL history. However, their fans are some of the most insufferable and delusional devotees you’ll ever find attached to a sports team. In their mind, no football player worth his salt would ever have the audacity to leave Green Bay. So if a player gets cut (Sharper), he’s past his prime. If a player leaves voluntarily via free agency (Longwell), he lost his edge and wasn’t going to be re-signed anyways. Or if a player commits blasphemy and says “I really have no interest in playing for Green Bay again” (Javon Walker), he had better watch out for his dog.

It’s a new era in the NFL, Packer fans. Players don’t really care about Green Bay as much as they do Greenbacks.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Former dictator dies.

There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction.

We invaded this region because their leader was a murderous dictator.

The so-called leader of this country has been on trial for war crimes.

The aforementioned leader, while awaiting continuation of the trail, died today in his jail cell.

Former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, the so-called "butcher of the Balkans" being tried for war crimes after orchestrating a decade of bloodshed during his country's breakup, was found dead Saturday in his prison cell. He was 64.

Milosevic, who suffered chronic heart ailments and high blood pressure, apparently died of natural causes and was found in his bed, the U.N. tribunal said, without giving an exact time of death.

I had you going, didn’t I? Didn’t the rhetoric I used to begin this post match that of the talking points uttered by liberals regarding a certain Middle East conflict?

I guess another question would be is where was Cindy Sheehan when the U.S. invaded the Balkans in the 1990s? Sean Penn? George Clooney? Tim Robbins? Jane Fonda?


Oh, that’s right. Bill Clinton was President in the 90s. General Wesley Clark was a Democrat.

My bad!

Friday, March 10, 2006

One final goodbye.

The sorrow surrounding Kirby Puckett’s death, and the subsequent reminiscing of his life, has endured throughout Minnesota this entire week.

When Puckett’s passing was officially announced Monday evening around 7:00 pm Central time, the Twin Cities media definitely felt the impact.

Dark Star knew it wouldn't be easy to do his show Monday night hours after the death of Twins great Kirby Puckett. But shortly after going on the air, the WCCO Radio host realized this was something special.

"One of the first calls was Justin in Menomonie [Wis.]," Star said. "He said, 'I want to tell you my memories of Kirby from when I was 5 years old. I had a pair of Kirby Puckett pajamas with No. 34 on the back of them, and I wore them every single night until they were worn to a frazzle. I still have them today.' "

On and on, the calls continued to Star's late-night show. It would be the same on KFAN, with callers filling up the phone lines to share their Puckett stories. "It occurred to me very quickly that I'm going to do the most significant thing I've been afforded an opportunity to do in 20 years [on WCCO], and that was to allow people to grieve over the loss of Kirby Puckett," Star said. "If I'm in this business another 20 years, I'll never have that kind of responsibility again."

Sports talk radio usually is filled with predominantly male callers worried about such pressing matters as Daunte Culpepper's latest e-mail message. But this week the airwaves became much more. They served as a gathering place for people to grieve and remember.

"It's like the state conducted a town meeting in the last 72 hours," said Mark Rosen of WCCO-TV (Ch. 4) and KFAN (1130 AM). "It was cathartic for people to call up."

Rosen, who was with the Twins in Fort Myers, Fla., when Puckett passed away in Arizona because of complications from a stroke, grew up in the Twin Cities and started at WCCO-TV in the early 1970s. He compared the grieving around the state to that of when former Senator Hubert Humphrey died in 1978.

"I think sign-on to sign-off, especially Monday, [KFAN] could have done 24-7 with Kirby and I don't think anyone would have tired of it," Rosen said. "I was listening going, 'Wow, what a story.' "

Star experienced the same thing. "From the minute we went on the air Monday to the end of the show we didn't have an open phone line," he said. "We have a sponsor that called me and said, 'Don't play our commercials anymore, just play the Spanish [language] home run call of Puckett's home run [from Game 6 of the 1991 World Series]. Here's a car dealer who forfeited his time so people could enjoy part of the wonder of who Kirby Puckett was."

We didn’t learn to appreciate Kirby only after his untimely passing. We were appreciative for every time #34 emerged from the dugout and jogged onto the baseball field.

With a public memorial service taking place this Sunday at the Metrodome, we have one last chance to say goodbye to the most popular player in Minnesota Twins history.

There’s the old adage “You don’t know what you've got until it’s gone.”

But with Kirby Puckett, we knew.

And we loved every minute of it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ms. Smith goes to Washington.

Former..uh...”model” Anna Nicole Smith has taken her claim to her late husband’s oil fortune all the way to the Supreme Court.

When Smith was 26-years old, she married oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall, who was in his late 80s. Marshall died eleven years ago at the age of 90. Smith, now 38, has had her efforts to claim an inheritance repeatedly blocked by Marshall’s family. Mr. Marshall was said to have been worth over $1 billion at the time of his death.

While I couldn’t care less about this vapid airhead Anna Nicole Smith or her plight, I had to laugh at what appeared to be a double entendre uttered by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Roberts said the case involved "a substantial amount of assets.''

That’s all for now.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Indecent Proposal: 21st century style.

Do you remember that movie from the 90s, “Indecent Proposal”? The basic premise is a multi-millionaire (played Robert Redford) offers a husband (Woody Harrelson) $1,000,000 for a night with his wife (played by Demi Moore). I’m assuming it wasn’t for an evening of playing scrabble.

That film presented what would be one of the most loaded questions in the history of marriage. The wife asks her hubby “If a man offered a million dollars for one night with me would you take him up on it?”

Do you think the continued rise in the divorce rate in this country had anything to do with how the guy answered that question?

But I digress.

ESPN guy Mike Greenberg recently wrote a story for It was in regards to the comments from Masha Kirilenko, wife of an NBA player.

In case you missed what was inarguably the most important sports story of last week (labor, schmabor; we've had work stoppages before) the wife of Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko told ESPN The Magazine that she has given her husband an allowance of one woman per year.

She said that because women are forever throwing themselves at him and because things that are forbidden only become more desirable, she has told her husband he may have sex outside their marriage one time per year.

"If I know about it," she concluded, "it's not cheating."


Wow, indeed.

I know this story was meant as a light-hearted anecdote, the ultimate living one’s life vicariously through another.

I don’t know anything about the Kirilenkos. How long they’ve been married, what vows (if any) they recited, etc. But I think this is merely an extension of the continued decay of our culture.

Think about it. What’s the thought process behind giving teenagers contraceptives? “Oh, they’re going to have sex anyways.” THAT STILL DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT!

AC Green, an avid promoter of abstinence education, was a 16-year veteran of the NBA (1985-2001). All the while he played he was never even married. However, Green had the moral integrity and discipline to stay abstinent until his 2002 marriage when he was 38-years old!

If AC Green can keep from succumbing to temptation for the 16 NBA seasons he didn’t have a wife, what excuse do the married NBA players have? They only have to endure week-long road trips.

Warm wishes to a great friend on his milestone birthday.

Can you believe this guy is the big 4-0?

It was around November of 1999. My fiancĂ©e (now wife) and I were sitting in the dining area of a local Barnes & Noble book store. As we were discussing some pertinent details of our wedding that was eight months away, we happened to notice a sharp-looking couple seated at a table right next to us. What really caught our eye was the book the young lady was immersed in. The title “Jesus, CEO” piqued our interest and seemed to indicate that these were fellow believers in our midst. When my gal asked this particular young lady “Is that a good book?” we had no idea that would be the beginning of a blessed friendship.

Within a month of that initial meeting, Greg & Ruth Bittner invited us to their home for dinner.

For the next few months, however, our correspondence consisted mainly of telephone and e-mail communication. We quickly learned that Greg & Ruth were folks who thrived on the busyness of life.

It was around late May of 2000 when our wedding was fast approaching. I was in the process of cleaning out my apartment since I would have a new residence as of that July. As luck would have it, Greg & Ruth would be having a garage sale. I brought over a microwave and a few other items I would no longer need. While Greg greeted us when we stopped by their home, we regretfully were unable to say hi to Ruth as she was a bit under the weather. A week or so later, we learned why Ruth had been so fatigued. She was carrying their first child, due in January 2001!

We would see Greg & Ruth again the day of our wedding. We had known this couple all of eight months and had visited with them in person on maybe two or three occasions. Yet we felt such a strong connection with them that we requested they attend our nuptials.

Ruth and Greg at our wedding reception, 7/7/2000.

In the six-plus years we have known Greg & Ruth they shared in the joy of our wedding and we were privileged to meet their son when he was less than a week old. We have also shared their sorrow in the passing of Ruth’s father.

I have to say that one of the defining moments of our friendship took place this past Father’s Day weekend. Greg & I had the opportunity to host a two-hour talk show on AM 1500 KSTP on that Sunday. While we were at his home on that Saturday prepping for our on-air excursion, Greg shared some memories of his father, who has been deceased since 1990. I had known Greg’s father had passed away but I never knew how to delicately inquire about the circumstances surrounding his passing. It was in preparing for our Father’s Day radio show that I realized the genuine love Greg had for his father and how much he truly misses his Dad to this day. I can't tell you how incredibly flattered I was that another man would share with me such deep-rooted sentiments about his father.

Greg & I having fun on the radio, 6/19/2005.

There are so many more wonderful anecdotes I could share regarding our friendship with Greg & Ruth. From our “fireside chats” to the mindless fun at a Weird Al Yankovic concert to our experience at witnessing the film “The Passion of the Christ”, we have created some life-long memories.

So it is on this day, March 8, 2006 that I would like to recognize yet another milestone in the life of one Gregory P. Bittner.

Happy 40th birthday, my friend!

Whether you realize it or not, your friendship has truly been a gift from God.

Whose option is it anyways?

It’s the first Tuesday of March in an election year. That date signifies it was the night for precinct caucuses, which my wife and I took the liberty of attending this evening.

Among the items on the precinct caucus agenda is the consideration and adoption of resolutions for our political party’s platform. If the resolutions are passed, they are then forwarded to the Senate District Convention.

One of the resolutions introduced at our gathering was one to change a current law regarding genetic testing on newborns. The legislation which exists today is a newborn in Minnesota is screened for approximately 50 health risks by the Department of Health. The blood/tissue samples drawn during these tests are then stored in the health department laboratory. Naturally, there may be parents who would balk at such a scenario as having their child’s DNA stored in a lab. Therefore, the parents have two options. They can either request that their child’s blood/tissue samples be destroyed within two years or they can opt out of the newborn screening altogether

What further complicates this whole issue is some parents have claimed that hospital staff has never informed them of their rights under state law.

Two Minnesota lawmakers, Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, and Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, are co-sponsoring legislation that would have parents “opt-in” for newborn screening. That essentially means that the total discretion is left to the parents on whether or not they want to subject their newborn to such tests. With an “opt-in” law, people who feel strongly in favor of genetic testing can take the initiative to ensure that newborn screening takes place.

Please stay updated on this on other health care issues by visiting the web site for “Citizen’s Council on Health Care.”

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Minnesota sports legend passes on.

Kirby Puckett
Minnesota Twins hall of famer Kirby Puckett passed away yesterday, eight days shy of his 46th birthday. Puckett suffered a massive stroke Sunday in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he has made his home for the past few years.

I first remember hearing the name “Kirby Puckett” in my freshman year of high school when “Puck” made his major league debut in May 1984. The Twins were playing the California Angels that evening, which meant the game started at 9:30 pm, Central time. I had a habit of being in bed by 9:00 on school nights. I use to call the St Paul Pioneer Press sports hotline when I awoke every morning to catch all of the results from the night before (Yes, kids, there wasn’t always an internet). The recorded message on the morning of May 9, 1984 sounded something like this: “The Twins defeated California last night, 5-0. In his first big-league game, Kirby Puckett went 4-for-5.”

His call-up from the Twins AAA affiliate in Toledo, OH was the stuff of folklore. He flew to LA International airport and took a taxi to “The Big A” in Anaheim. However, he didn’t even have enough money for the cab fare. The Twins employee who paid the tab had no idea what kind of investment that was.

I had been a Twins fan since the mid-70s. Ever since they had traded away Rod Carew after the ’78 season, the club was never much of a factor. In fact, they had just come off two dreadful seasons in 1982-83, losing 102 and 92 games respectively. Baseball was all but dead in the state of Minnesota until Puck came along.

He was one of the catalysts in the Twins winning the 1987 World Series, the first in the franchise’s 27-year history and the first professional championship in Minnesota since the 1954 Minneapolis Lakers.

Given he had such an outstanding career with so many great memories, there is one defining moment: Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. After falling behind 3 games to 2 against the Atlanta Braves, the Twins returned home. Sensing his teammates gloom and doom demeanor, Puck shouted “Hop on my back, fellas. I got this one tonight.” In the game, he leapt high against the right-center field wall to rob Ron Gant of an extra base hit. Puck also drove in three runs, including the game-winning homer in the 11th inning to give the Twins a 4-3 win. The Twins would win their second title in five years with a 1-0, 10-inning thriller in Game 7.

After a stellar 1992 season, Puck was a free agent. Despite higher offers elsewhere, he re-signed with the Twins for 5 years, $30 million! Just 8 ½ years earlier, he was a 24-year old kid who couldn’t afford a $70 cab ride. Now he was one of the highest paid players in a sport he worshipped since his youth in the Robert Taylor homes on Chicago’s rough south side. The projects where Puck grew up were dubbed “A place where hope goes to die.” Yes, Puck truly was one of those “rags to riches” stories.

Puck was one of the most beloved players amongst teammates and opponents. He was equally revered by home fans and opposing fans. He was even borderline worshipped by some media figures. Bob Costas of NBC-TV had a son in 1986 who he named Keith Michael Kirby Costas. Bob Ryan, Boston Globe sports columnist, registered his golden retriever with the American Kennel Club as “Ryan’s Kirby Puckett.”

With all of that adulation, when did things start to crumble beneath Puck?

Many people ascertain that it was Spring Training 10 years ago when the personal decline of Kirby Puckett commenced. He was swinging the bat well that spring. The anticipation of being in the same lineup with Paul Molitor gave the whole Twins team a reason for optimism in the 1996 season.

However, it was one morning in March that year where Puck’s world began to crumble. He awoke with blurred vision in his right eye. He figured he slept funny. Then a black dot appeared in his vision.

As tests would later prove, he had glaucoma.

Puck continued to go through tests and diagnoses. Finally in July that year, he would undergo a risky procedure on his eye which would either heal his vision or render him virtually blind. We all know how that saga turned out.

He was still in the spotlight, with the Twins honoring his retirement in a 1996 pre-game ceremony, retiring his jersey #34 in 1997 and inducting him into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2000. In fact, Puck was often trotted out to generate interest in a Twins franchise which was in the midst of eight consecutive losing seasons (1993-2000). Fans would come out to the Metrodome in pretty good numbers for the various pre-game ceremonies honoring Puck. Once the game started, however, fans would leave in droves.

It was in 2001 when Kirby Puckett reached the ultimate in his profession - induction into the baseball Hall of Fame. He was the second youngest first-ballot inductee behind Sandy Koufax.

Sadly, it proved to be Puck’s last moment of glory in the sport he so dearly loved.

Puckett’s on-field accomplishments were beyond reproach. However, it was learned just a few years ago that he had a rather sordid off-field life. This fun-loving, always smiling character on the field was painted as a low-life off of it. It was alleged in a Pioneer Press article that Puck had mistresses since the mid-80s. While Puck appeared to be a loveable humanitarian in the public eye, his then wife Tonya was supposedly the one spearheading all of the charitable endeavors.

Because the Hall of Fame induction was his last hurrah, Puck’s life appeared to be in a downward spiral. His demise was even a feature story in a March 2003 edition of Sports Illustrated. He had virtually no role within the Twins organization, located at the address which bears his jersey number and name (34 Kirby Puckett Place).

Many within the Twins family had begun to worry about Puckett’s health. There was an alarming genetic trend of his family members dying in their 40s and 50s. Puck, who was in his 40s, was gaining weight at such an alarming pace that many worried about his heart. Rumor had it he moved to Arizona because the climate was better for his health. Others speculated it was to completely withdraw from the public eye. Whatever the case, not much was heard about his life since his April 2003 acquittal of sexually assaulting a woman in a restaurant bathroom.

Then came the stunning news on Sunday. Kirby Puckett had suffered a stroke. There never seemed to be any hope that Puck could recover. Then it was announced yesterday afternoon that he would be taken off life-support.

Then he was gone.

This beloved figure of Minnesota baseball was dead at the age of 45.

Puck’s life, like his baseball career ten years earlier, had ended way too soon.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bob Kalsu: An All-American on and off the football field.

The Army announced on Saturday that a criminal investigation will take place in the death of former professional football player Pat Tillman.

I certainly recall Tillman’s conviction and courage when he announced in 2002 that he would walk away from a lucrative NFL contract to fight for his country. Sadly, Tillman was killed in action in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. The death was initially ruled an accident. However, The Department of Defense now believes that a criminal probe is warranted.

Some people incorrectly assume that Tillman was the first professional player to pay the ultimate price for his country.

That distinction actually belongs to James Robert “Bob” Kalsu, Sr., who was killed in Vietnam on July 21, 1970.

It was July 2001 when I first heard the story of Bob Kalsu. William Nack of Sports Illustrated had just written about Kalsu’s remarkable story for that week’s edition of the magazine. Nack was being interviewed about his article on a local sports radio station, detailing the accounts of Kalsu’s young life. I found myself mesmerized by the story.

An All-American offensive tackle at the University of Oklahoma, Kalsu completed a stellar rookie season with the Buffalo Bills in 1968. He would leave professional football in 1969 to join the conflict in Vietnam. Bob would leave behind pregnant wife Jan, whom he had been married to less than two years, and a one-year old daughter named Jill. Bob would see his family one last time in May 1970 while on leave. He would return to Vietnam where he eagerly awaited the news of the arrival of his second child, due in July.

The most heart-wrenching part of the story was Bob would not live to find out he would have a son. On July 23, 1970, just two days after Bob was killed, James Robert Kalsu, Jr. was born. Initially the boy was named Robert Todd Kalsu. Upon learning of her husband’s death just hours later, Jan renamed the boy. She had recalled the silent prayer she conveyed to God prior to Bob leaving for Vietnam: “If you need him more than I do, please give me a son to carry on his name.”

There are so many other wonderful attributes to this story, that I highly encourage you to find a copy of the July 23, 2001 edition of Sports Illustrated.

About 3 ½ years after hearing Bob Kalsu’s story, my wife and I took a trip to Washington, D.C. One of the many stops on our three-day excursion was a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Still moved by Kalsu’s heroics, I decided to locate his identification on “The Wall” and trace his etched name.

I still have the etching tucked away in that very Sports Illustrated issue that featured Bob on the cover.

Upon returning from my trip to Washington, I felt the urge to contact someone in the Kalsu family. Since sports and American history are two passions of mine, I had to let them know how much Bob’s story moved me.

I was able to contact Bob’s daughter, Jill Kalsu (now Horning).

She was gracious enough to send a reply.

Dear Brad,

It was such a wonderful surprise to receive your letter. You made my day! Usually it is my mom or my brother who are contacted about my daddy. My feelings always get hurt. I always feel left out so I feel very touched. I read your letter to my mom and my brother. They thought it was very beautiful.

I can't tell you how amazed we are by how many people are touched by the life of my dad. He truly impacted so many people by how he lived his life. Now after he has gone to be with our Lord, so many more are touched by his life. A day doesn't go by when I don't think about my dad and how much I miss him.

Now that I have my own children, I miss the fact that my children don't have a grandpa. I don't ask "why?" anymore because I know that my daddy did what was right and fulfilled his duty to his country. While doing this, he had such an impact on many soldier's lives. There are no accidents with God.

I am so into American history and sports too. I always say that if I had not become a teacher, I would have loved to have been a political science major. I am so glad that you and your wife were able to go to the Vietnam Wall. The experience there can not be put into words. I have only been to D.C. one time, and it was only for about 5 hours. My experience at The Wall is hard to put into words. I hope to one day go with my husband and children to spend more time there and also to see the many other sights there.

I pray that God will bless you and your family always. Thank you so much for taking the time to write me.

With warmest regards,
Jill Horning

And my warmest regards to you and your family, Jill.

Thank you so much for sharing the story of James Robert Kalsu, Sr., a true American hero.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Oscars or Osamas?

With the Academy Awards approaching this Sunday, the buzz surrounding the event is similar to what it’s been the past few Oscar ceremonies. What kind of political rhetoric will be spewed?

Michael Moore (accepting Best Documentary award for “Bowling for Columbine” in 2003): “We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fiction of duct tape or fiction of orange alerts, we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you.”

Sean Penn (during acceptance speech of Best Actor award for “Mystic River” in 2004): “One thing we actors know, other than there were no WMDs…”

Chris Rock, last year’s emcee: "I'm not going to bash Bush here tonight. I saw 'Fahrenheit 9/11.' I think Bush is a genius. I think Bush did some things this year that nobody in this room could do. ... Because Bush basically reapplied for his job. And can you imagine applying for a job and while you're applying there's a movie in every theater in the country that shows how much you suck at the job? It would be hard to get hired, wouldn't it?”

This year’s extravaganza will be emceed by Jon Stewart, who makes his living hosting the faux news program “The Daily Show”, which parodies politics, etc.

In Charles Krauthammer’s most recent column, I believe he provides some great insights to the continued depravity in Hollywood.

Nothing tells you more about Hollywood than what it chooses to honor. Nominated for best foreign film is "Paradise Now", a sympathetic portrayal of two suicide bombers. Nominated for best picture is "Munich,'' a sympathetic portrayal of yesterday's fashion in barbarism: homicide terrorism.

But until you see "Syriana", nominated for best screenplay (and George Clooney, for best supporting actor) you have no idea how self-flagellation and self-loathing pass for complexity and moral seriousness in Hollywood.

"Syriana's'' script has, of course, the classic liberal tropes such as this stage direction: "The Deputy National Security Advisor, MARILYN RICHARDS, 40's, sculpted hair, with the soul of a seventy year-old white, Republican male, is in charge'' (Page 21). Or this piece of over-the-top, Gordon Gekko Republican-speak, placed in the mouth of a Texas oilman: "Corruption is our protection. Corruption is what keeps us safe and warm. ... Corruption ... is how we win'' (Page 93).

The political candidates supported by Hollywood folks continue to be rejected on Election Day. So how does Hollywood react? Like a bunch of petulant children. They don’t get their way so they attempt to belittle and smear the victors.

Most liberalism is angst- and guilt-ridden, seeing moral equivalence everywhere. "Syriana" is of a different species entirely -- a pathological variety that burns with the certainty of its malign anti-Americanism. Osama bin Laden could not have scripted this film with more conviction.

It will be interesting to see if bin Laden quotes movie lines from “Syriana” like he did with “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Global warming talk results in a lot of "hot air."

Every weekday at 4:30 pm on AM 1500’s “Garage Logic”, meteorologist Dave Dahl of KSTP-TV appears with Joe Soucheray to give an up-to-date local weather forecast.

As the outlook is wrapped up, Dave Dahl goes over the record high and low temperatures for that particular date.

The banter between Dahl and Soucheray goes something like this:

Dave Dahl: Our records for the day, Joe.
Joe Soucheray: March 2.
Dave Dahl: 54.
Joe Soucheray: 54.
Dave Dahl: In 1923.
Joe Soucheray: In 1923.
Dave Dahl: Minus 17.
Joe Soucheray: Minus 17??!!
Dave Dahl: In 1913.
Joe Soucheray: In 1913. More proof of global warming.

This running bit that Soucheray and Dahl have on a daily basis is aimed at parodying the global warming crowd.

But you see the anecdotal evidence here. The record high for March 2 occurred ten years after the record low for the same date. Therefore, as some will theorize, the planet must be getting hotter and hotter as the years roll on.

However, Dave Dahl has been one of the few people I’ve heard in the scientific community to decry the mass hysteria that this planet is doomed.

Surface observations indicate that warming has been occurring over the last 20-30 years. Satellite observations over the same period show just the opposite. Since the earth has been around for about five billion years and we only have consistent records for about 120 to 150 years, you can see how difficult it is to come up with a conclusion based on a blink of an eye in geologic time. The atmosphere is such a huge thing that it seems very arrogant to me to think that we humans, who only occupy about 10 percent of the Earth’s surface, can have enough of an effect to create change in the Earth’s climate.

Yes, there is scientific data to show that there are increased levels of carbon in the atmosphere. But is the source of those higher levels solely attributed to human activity, especially here in the U.S.? I don’t know that there has ever been conclusive proof of that.

Don’t get me wrong, here. I am certainly in no position to dismiss any theories that may be brought forth by credible research scientists, pro or con. Again, I am unable to wrap my finite little mind around the theory that humans driving cars and blow drying their hair contributes to global destruction. Well, I have a clear conscience. I have no hair to blow dry.

Seriously, what I resent is an impudent little pipsqueak like actor Leonardo DiCaprio getting on some sort of high horse lecturing us on how we are destroying the planet with our daily activities.

How about former Vice-President Al Gore? Global warming has been a pet project of his for years now. It was only last month that Gore declared humans have only 10 years left to save the planet from turning into a total frying pan. As I write this post, we’re down to 9 years, 332 days, 11 hours, 18 minutes.

As with every other issue that whips the liberals into a frenzy, a significant amount of blame has been placed on the shoulders of President George W. Bush. According to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. it was Bush’s rejection of the Kyoto Protocol that led to Hurricane Katrina. Oh, and do you remember the multiple hurricanes in Florida just over a year ago? Yep. Failed environmental policies of the Bush administration were responsible.

Recently, President Bush has come out in staunch support of alternative fuels. Given our high reliance on foreign oil and the alleged environmental damage caused by fossil fuels, this seems to make sense for our economy as well as preserving the planet.

So when legislation is introduced for the transition to alternative fuel, it will be a defining “put up or shut up” moment for Congressional Democrats.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Can I get a witness?

This is a nice, thought-provoking (and somewhat convicting) Ash Wednesday testimonial by Lauren F. Winner.

The imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday is nothing if not bold. A dark and undeniable slash across your forehead, a bold proclamation of death and resurrection all at once. I forget it is there, sashay out of church without thinking about it, until I get stares on the subway. There might be some neighborhoods in New York where forehead crosses on Ash Wednesday are commonplace. But on my subway, full of sophisticated Upper West-Siders, I see only one other person on the whole train with ashes.

When I get to campus, I feel truly uncomfortable. Columbia University, its charming chapel notwithstanding, is a place devoted to different types of truths, not so eager to proclaim this one. The cross also stimulates other people's questions. It provides an unmistakable opportunity -- even obligation -- to witness.

Since no one came to faith as a result of my ashes, maybe my Ash Wednesday evangelism wasn't a rousing success. But ... it did some spiritual work on me. I was brought face-to-face with my own discomfort about being a Christian on a secular campus.

Well said, Lauren.

I must admit that I have wrestled with some of the same issues of discomfort in my life. For example, my wife and I attended the “Love and Respect Conference” a couple of weekends ago. This was a weekend seminar talking about, among other things, a wife adhering to the biblical principle of giving her husband unconditional respect. You can imagine how that might go over with any secularist females. So when I arrived at work that following Monday, I had the obligatory inquiry of “What did you do this past weekend?” Even though the weekend conference was incredibly uplifting, I still found myself almost stammering through the response.

However, I don’t necessarily consider that a bad thing. It reminded me that I still need some guidance from the Lord in being a good ambassador for His kingdom.

Democrat sharks attempt to make Wal-Mart their feeding frenzy.

Last December, I was walking down State Street in Madison, WI when I was approached by a man wanting me to sign a petition. It was a petition aimed at attaining better benefits for Wal-Mart employees. I respectfully declined. I realized most Wal-Mart employees didn’t operate under the delusion that a greeter position or cashiering job typically garnered any kind of benefits. Therefore, I had no vendetta against the successful company and I’m an unapologetic capitalist to begin with. Needless to say, I was shouted at in typical liberal frothing–at-the-mouth style.

For some time now, I have been wondering why the liberals have this obsession with Wal-Mart. After all, their products are priced so inexpensively that it is a benefit to low-income people shopping there. It’s the liberal Democrats who like to remind us that they are the party of the “little guy.” Based on that claim, wouldn’t it behoove the libs to support Wal-Mart unconditionally?

It is only after reading this piece by Brendan Miniter in the Opinion Journal that I learned of the liberal’s true agenda for attacking Wal-Mart: Expanding government.

With the war on Wal-Mart now heating up in nearly three dozen state legislatures, I put a call in to someone who was in on the ground floor in pushing to force the retailer to spend more on health care for its employees. What Maryland's Delegate James Hubbard, a Democrat from Prince George's County, had to say was revealing of both why he backed his state's "Wal-Mart bill" and what this fight is really about: expanding Medicaid and other taxpayer-funded health-care entitlements.

Let's first understand that the drive to enact anti-Wal-Mart legislation has very little to do with the retail giant except in two respects: dipping into its very deep pockets, and using the controversy surrounding the company to mask the larger agenda of expanding already-bankrupt entitlement programs. Of course, in this war legislators have a ready made ally in the AFL-CIO, which has its own reasons for going after the nonunionized company.

So what you have here is a Democrat “perfect storm.” Growing the size of government by sticking it to a financially sound company, all while strengthening the union vote.

Even if it doesn’t work, the Democrats can perpetuate the myth that their efforts were dedicated to helping the “little guy.”