Monday, December 03, 2012

Quick Hits: Volume LXII

- This past Saturday morning, 25-year old Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend (who was also the mother of his three-month old daughter) and then drove to the Chiefs facility where he took his own life.

Naturally, it didn't take long for the anti-gun demagoguery to ensue. And because this involves a professional athlete, sports guys like Bob Costas relish the opportunity to scoot their chair up to the big boy table and transcend the superficial journalism that is sports reporting.

During halftime of NBC's Sunday Night Football coverage, Costas proceeded with his normal halftime commentary, but this time it was outside the realm of sport.

Writer Jason Whitlock, with whom I do not always agree but today said it so well that we may as well just quote or paraphrase from the end of his article.

Our current gun culture, Whitlock wrote, ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.’

Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.

In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed. Who knows? But here, wrote Jason Whitlock, is what I believe: If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.

Instead of making the vapid emotional plea to to ban guns, why don't the seemingly intelligent Whitlock and Costas cite statistics showing the decrease in gun related crimes in cities/states where there are stringent gun control laws? They don't because it's an utter fallacy. 

But if turnabout is fair play and we're going to use anecdotes to make our case, please read an open letter a woman named Alexandria penned to Whitlock and Costas. 

The key excerpt:

Do you know what kept me safe? Not some piece of paper. Not a judge tut tutting at (my violent tempered ex) and shaking his/her finger and telling him to leave me alone. Not the police, who, after all, would only be able to respond once he had caused me harm. No, what kept me safe was my Glock. What kept me safe was my Glock and the fact that he knew I had both the ability and the will to empty a clip into his chest if he made good on his statements that if I did not come back, I would not see the next week. He never tried to do any of the things he screamed he would because he knew that not only would I defend myself but that I could. My Ex was nearly a foot taller than me and, at the time, had about 150 pounds on me. If he had been able to get close enough to me to harm me, there were very few options I had to protect myself. But with my Glock, well, I would be able to stop him before he got that close. I am alive today because he knew that if he tried to make that otherwise, there was a better than even chance he would be the one lying there in a pool of blood instead of me.



- Even though the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, which looked to amend the state constitution defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman, was shot down by voters three weeks ago, same-sex marriage is still illegal in Minnesota. As such, the defeating of the amendment was only the first battle in the quest of same-sex marriage advocates looking to legalize such a union.

Minnesotans who want to legalize same-sex marriage gathered Saturday to harness momentum from their election victory and begin their push for marriage equality in the Legislature.

“We believe we can pass marriage equality this session,” said Bee Rongitsch, an organizer for Minnesotans United for All Families, the lead group that defeated a proposed state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

More than 500 people gathered in downtown Minneapolis for a daylong summit focusing on equality and justice for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered. Along with plotting the next steps in the marriage fight, the event included seminars organizing regional leaders in the movement, panels on youth homelessness and a discussion about how the campaign has engaged communities of religious faith.

Hey, the DFL has full control in St Paul, with majorities in both chambers of the legislature as well as the Governor's mansion. They could knock this issue out within the first week of session, right?

This is bound to create tension at the Capitol. Despite wide-ranging wins, the new DFL-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton don’t appear eager to push too hard on social issues that could blow their new majorities (Gotta fleece those taxpayers first. Priorities, people - ed.). Many political watchers say political overreach doomed Republicans over the past two years.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, has said the election was not a mandate for legislators to legalize same-sex marriage. Most DFLers focused their campaigns squarely on the budget
(Which was balanced in 2011. Thanks, GOP legislature! - ed.) and the economy, not the marriage issue.

I'm guessing the DFL would prefer that this matter be handled in the courts, speicfically a case being heard in Hennepin County District court.

But until that matter is decided, certain advocacy groups will not relent.

At the summit, organizers passed around a detailed election spreadsheet showing districts where amendment opposition was strongest and connected it to the results of the winning legislative candidate.

While amendment opposition generally was strongest in DFL strongholds, the data showed several areas where Republicans triumphed and amendment opposition was strong.

In a Chanhassen district, 58 percent of voters rejected the amendment, but elected Tea Party favorite Cindy Pugh to the Minnesota House.

Those legislators are likely to face some of the strongest, most organized pressure to vote for a measure legalizing same-sex marriage, organizers said.

Personally I believe the aforementioned organizers are misinterpreting the Republican opposition to the marriage amendment. The very core belief of Tea Partiers and libertarians alike is limited government. With that in mind, their opposition to the marriage amendment is more a mindset of government shouldn't be defining marriage at all. A "no" vote on the amendment is not necessarily an indicator of advocacy for gay marriage. I daresay that if the legislature did indeed propose a law to legalize same-sex marriage, Tea Partiers and libertarians would show significant opposition there as well. Once again, the issue here is about government intrusion into one's personal life, especially when it comes to something as sacred as marriage.


- With the Minnesota Vikings falling to 6-6 after a loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday, many Vikes fans have reached their limit with the recent wretched play of second year quarterback Christian Ponder. While I have never been completely sold on Ponder, I've always felt he needed a full year to start (in addition to the benefits of participating in full OTAs, mini camp and training camp, something he didn't have in 2011) in order to ascertain whether or not he can make it as an NFL QB. Unless he takes a dramatic step forward over the final four games of this season, I don't see how the Vikings organization can go in to 2013 with Ponder as the definitive starter.

So what to do from here? Well, one thing is for certain: upgrade the Wide Receiver position. With Percy Harvin having missed the past three games with an ankle injury, the current crop of WRs (including Jerome Simpson, Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins) has been a joke. None of the three has been able to get open on a regular basis, and on the rare occasions they do spring free they've had a woeful case of the "dropsies." With running back Adrian Peterson averaging 6.2 yards per carry this season, Vikings opponents are consistently showing 8-9 men defensive fronts in an effort to stop AP. Defenses are practically begging Ponder to beat them, yet he's unable to take advantage.

Unfortunately, the Vikings have been down this road in the all too recent past. Remember how coach Brad Childress was completely sold on Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback when he was drafted in 2006? T-Jack had all of 16 career starts when he was benched early in the 2008 season in favor of veteran Gus Frerotte. Then just prior to the 2009 season, Brett Favre was brought in and ultimately lead the Vikings to within a whisker of the Super Bowl. The Vikes then begged Favre not to retire after the '09 campaign, to the point they threw $20 million at him to play in 2010. As a result, Jackson was left to languish on the bench, which meant the Vikings organization spent 2+ years kicking the proverbial can down the road in terms of his development. It was only after Favre got hurt in late 2010 that Jackson had to step in. It was then the Vikes resigned themselves to the fact the Jackson lacked NFL ability (as well as durability), thus not bothering to re-sign him.

This season, the Vikings have no such veteran presence at the QB position, so the temptation to turn the reins over to such a guy is not an issue. Ponder should absolutely start each of the four remaining games this season with him now knowing full well that his job (and maybe entire career) is on the line. And if Ponder doesn't even show a glimmer of potential over the last month, there are some options out there in terms of veteran QBs under 30 years old. A certain jilted signal caller in the Bay Area comes to mind.

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