Tebow Love

OK.

I, and most people who think they know something about football, have been pretty vocal about the fact that Tebow sucks as a quarterback. The people who disagree with us insist his intangibles make up for his lack of tangibles, an argument so absurd that we have trouble getting our heads around it. If tangibles don’t matter, maybe I should not have been so quick to dismiss a career as a porn star.

Of course, what drives most of us crazy is that the people who are making the argument for Tebow happen to be not only white, but bat-shit crazy evangelicals, raising the suspicion in our minds that maybe this isn’t about football and logic at all, but about racism or religion. After all, for years after blacks were finally allowed to play professional football they weren’t allowed to play quarterback because they lacked intangibles like intelligence, unlike white quarterbacks like Terry Bradshaw and Kerry Collins, the latter of whom was so smart that he thought his offensive line (the guys charged with protecting him) would enjoy hearing racist jokes. But Kerry failed to notice his O-line was black, and the next game they looked less like football players and more like matadors letting bulls rush by. In other words, the intelligence thing was yet another bit of back door discrimination. Continue reading

On the lam with poet Tony Medina

Tony Medina sweeps into the Japanese steak house with the old Vapors song on his lips: “I think I’m turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so.” Even as he sings, he swoops around the end of our long table to hug his former mentor, the poet Maria Gillan, sitting at the far end. In the background, a fireball fwooshes up from one of the other grills across the room.

Our own chef has not yet started to cook. We’ve been waiting for Medina, the guest of honor, who’s back here in Binghamton, New York, for a brief writing residency at his alma mater. “He needed pants,” Gillan had told us a few minutes earlier, when Medina called to let us know he was running late. “He’s at Boscov’s, trying on pants.”

This is how Medina’s homecoming gets announced, with great good humor and the smell of sizzle in the air. Continue reading

Examine the influence of the 'sacred trinity' on U.S. military spending — now

Sitting before Congress — and a dozen stalwarts of opposing political ideologies — is the opportunity to question the economic and moral wisdom of what author Andrew Bacevich calls the Washington rules — a “sacred trinity: an abiding conviction that the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism.”

These Washington rules — America shall protect and, more importantly, project American values because they are derived from American exceptionalism — require great military expense born by you and me, the taxpayers. That expense now faces a congressionally mandated deficit reduction process.

Come the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 23, six Democrats and six Republicans must identify at least $1.5 trillion in cuts in federal spending over the next decade. If they do, then Congress must vote yea or nay by Dec. 23. If they do not, the Budget Control Act triggers automatic cuts totaling $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, slashing, among others, military spending. (Note that some folks are trying to detrigger the trigger.)

The so-called super committee, formally known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, exists because Congress demonstrated neither the political will nor moral courage to tackle deficit reduction in a rational, non-confrontational, non-ideological way. None of its members has the stomach to cut military spending; the political cost would be, they think, unbearably high.
Continue reading

The transplant equation

I find myself in the uncomfortable position of waiting for someone to die–someone that I don’t know and will never meet. That person has to die so that someone I know can live. Because I don’t know the donor, it seems not a matter of 2-1=1, but rather it’s 1-1=1. That equation came to me and I can’t shake it. The anonymity of the “relationship” skews the math.

My mom’s friend, I’ll call her Joan, needs a kidney. About a week ago Joan got the phone call that she had moved to the top of the donation list. Mom is Joan’s transportation once the call comes that a kidney is available. Since the call we’ve been waiting and making plans: someone to take care of Joan’s cats, someone to get Mom’s beagle to the kennel, contingency plans for making the trip if it’s snowing. Mom has her bag packed—so does Joan. It’s rather like a pregnant woman getting ready for the trip to the hospital.

Except for that death part. Continue reading

Is Rick Perry trying to get rid of nuclear weapons?

Running for the Republican nomination for president, Rick Perry has been prone to flubs that raise questions about his suitability for the office. (Hey, at least they draw attention away from the truly epic scale of his corruption, as chronicled by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone.) His worst may have occurred at the November 9th debate, when he expressed his wish to eliminate three federal agencies.

Apparently, though, he failed to write them down on the palm of his hand a la Sarah Palin and was only able to remember two. Fifteen minutes later, after referring to his notes, he informed those in attendance that the third federal agency he would target was the Department of Energy. In fact, he calls for its abolition on a regular basis.

Aside from strangling government in general, why is the DOE high on the list of agencies condemned by Republicans? First, it exists to advance energy technology and innovation, which includes wind and solar, of little use to a party dependent on the funding of legacy energy like oil and gas. Also, Republicans can’t resist kicking the dead horse of Solyndra, described by the Washington Post as “the now-shuttered California company [which] had been a poster child of President Obama’s initiative to invest in clean energies and received the administration’s first energy loan of $535 million.”