Monday, December 11, 2006

Hastings deserved better

DeWayne Wickham of USA Today has a good take on why Alcee Hastings should have been the choice as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee despite his betrayal by his Democratic leadership and colleagues. In an op ed piece entitled "Hastings paid penance and deserved better" Wickham summarizes Hastings service on the committee since 1999 and shows that Hastings did indeed deserve better treatment.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


A recent encounter between President George Bush and newly elected Senator from Virginia Jim Webb has made the news. Apparently the exchange took place while at a White House reception for newly elected members of congress. To make a long story short, the President asked Webb how his son (who is serving in the military in Iraq) was doing. Webb replied that he'd "like to get them out of Iraq". At this point Bush is supposed to have replied "that's not what I asked you", followed by Webb's reply that "that's between me and my boy". Later on Webb is supposed to have said that he felt the urge to punch the President.

In a partisan dichotomy of responses to the encounter, most Democrats are taking Webb's side while most Republicans are taking Bush's. George Will immediately pronounced Webb a "pompous poseur" while Eleanor Clift lauded him for not "sucking up to power". However, as I often explain to my son ( a.ka. "the teenage moralist pacifist leftist vegetarian" at our house) you can't always label or categorize people or their responses to different stimuli. Peggy Noonan had a really good article in the Wall Street Journal basically poiniting out that President Bush was the one out of line. No one has ever been able to accuse Ms. Noonan, a former speech writer for President Reagan, of being either a liberal or a Democrat. One point I particularly liked that was made by Noonan was when she asked if one could visualize Abraham Lincoln responding the way Bush did. In case I need to spell this out, one could not. They'll probably start calling Noonan a RINO too now, and cast her to the outer circle along with me and the other apostates. Oh well, she's a parent as well as a great writer, so she's proven she can take the tough stuff that life throws at you.

Just for the record, I basically still like President Bush personally. Even though I no longer consider myself a Republican, I'm not one of those folks who get their kicks out of personally attacking the man. I believe he's sincere about "compassionate conservatism", I think his motives for attacking Iraq were just what he says they were, and I think he's the only Republican besides South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham who "gets it" on immigration. Having said all that, he was wrong in this contretemps with Senator elect Webb, just like he's wrong about Iraq and the rest of the middle east. I'm afraid I agree with Noonan and Clift on this one.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I must be too forgiving a person. As usual I find myself in the minority opinion regarding a couple of prominent people in the news who've messed up in the public eye, one recently, the other years ago. To whit, Atlanta Falcon QB Michael Vick and Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings.

Vick of course, lost his cool after Sunday's Falcon's loss to the New Orleans Saints, giving fans "the finger" as he left the field. He released an apology fairly soon after, but he's been raked over the coals by letter writers to the local Atlanta paper and by sports writers across the board. Hastings apparently can't outrun his past impeachment as a federal judge, since Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has found it the better part of political expediency to deny Hastings in his bid to become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, despite his having the seniority for the post.

The conventional wisdom on these two gentlemen seems to be that (1) Vick is a spoiled brat who should take being heckled and booed and insulted and like it, because after all, he's paid a lot of money as a pro athlete, and (2) that Hastings is a an impeached former judge who should never be allowed any post of power because of his same impeachment from years ago. As usual, I find myself at odds with the almighty CW.

In Michael Vick's case, he's human and he's still very young. Football is an emotional game, and from what I saw last Sunday, Vick may have been one of the few Falcons playing with any amount of courage and heart. He also seemed to be one of the few who was actually upset by the loss. That doesn't seem spoiled to me. I'd WANT my quarterback to be upset when we lose. To castigate him for doing something I was tempted to do last week to the redneck Newnan truck driver who honked his horn at me (after tailgating me for several miles) simply because I was going the posted speed limit seems a little much to me. Simply put, Vick shouldn't have given the obnoxious fan the finger. He did, he aplogized, and he didn't hide from the media later on. Give the young man a break (and some decent receivers and linemen while you're at it.)

In Alcee Hasting's case, I'm reminded of the time when congress tried to keep Adam Clayton Powell out of office, or the time when the Georgia legislature tried to do the same thing to Julian Bond. Hastings is a duly and legally elected member of Congress since 1993. He was never found guilty in a court of law for any actions as a judge. By all accounts he's served on the Intelligence committee faithfully and honorably during his tenure in Washington. His impeachment in the House of Represetatives was overturned in Federal Court only to lose on appeal when the Supreme Court said Federal Courts had no jurisdiction in the case. It's a travesty that he was bypassed for the Chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee. If I didn't know better I'd swear it's because he's of African-American descent.

Let me make a point here before I get castigated for the previous remark. I'm just a fat old white guy starting to lose his hair, but I've been around long to see this kind of thing for years now. Examples? Plenty, just off the top of my head. Maynard Jackson doesn't get the Democratic National Committee Chairmanship in 2001. Herman Cain can't win the Georgia Republican primary for Senator in 2004. Andrew Young can't win the Georgian Democratic primary for Governor in 1990. Sylvester Crooms can't get the coaching job at Alabama in 2003 (just for fun, ask Alabama if they'd take him now?). Kweisi Mfume can't get win the Maryland Democratic primary for Senator this year. Republican Michael Steele can't win the general election for same. Harold Ford, Jr. can't win the election for Senator from Tennessee in 2006. The list goes on and on. In every case I've mentioned one can make a logical case why race had nothing to do with the outcome. Maybe so, but it sure does seem that the law of averages would fall a different way just once in a while. In the case of Hastings, he deserved the Chairmanship, pure and simple. He didn't get it. Maybe next time, but if I were a member of Congressional Black Caucus I'd be mad about this one.

Not that they should give the House Democratic leadership the finger or anything though...

What Would Jesus Do?

Apparently the Christian Coalition of America, a conservative Political Advocacy Group, has a different answer to the "WWJD" question than the Rev. Joel Hunter. Hunter is a pastor of a nondenominational megachurch in Longwood, Fla., and had been the choice for CCA President until the group's Board of Directors decided that Hunter's ideas about expanding the group's mission to deal with such issues as poverty, AIDS, global warming, and the death penalty were just way out of line for a group with Christian in their name.

In a Washington Post story "Second New Leader Resigns from the Christian Coalition" dated for Nov. 29, 2006, it was reported that several CCA state organizations, Georgia's among them, had broken away from the national organization because of differences with Rev. Hunter's planned agenda of broadening the group's focus to actually deal with some real world problems in a Christian compassionate way.

While there may have been more to the story than that, since the article indicates that some of the problem may have been a resistance on the part of Roberta Combs, chairman of the coalition's four-member board, to part with control of the organization, I still think it's sad that the dichotomy between liberal and conservative has gone to such lengths in this country that a person such as Hunter is "radicalized" for his beliefs. Some of his apparently "far out" ideas include items such as a consideration of raising the minimum wage and an opposition to the death penalty. I guess that the CCA now has posited their own answer to the proverbial WWJD and apparently it doesn't include ministering to those with AIDS or on death row, among others. The good folks of the CCA might want to go back and read Matthew 9:9-13 and see what it says about reaching out those in need. Just my opinion.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Post Election Thoughts

It's taken me this long after the election to get onto our home computer, between the "bogarting" of it by the teen age moralist and the sainted spouse and the pre teen cat whisperer. Maybe it's time for us to get more than one of the "infernal machines"? Incidentally, do I show my age by using the term "bogart" to mean monopolization? Guess I listened too much to my "Easy Rider" soundtrack album back in my youth.

I was happily surprised by the Democratic pick up of both Houses of Congress Tuesday. As I wrote right before the election I was pessimistic about us picking up the Senate and also about the chances of some statewide Democratic incumbents in Georgia. Thankfully Thurbert Baker and Michael Thurmond were both re-elected, although Thurmond's race was much closer than it should have been. As I've often said and wrote, Michael Thurmond has done an excellent job of running the Georgia Department of Labor, and for him win by anything less than a landslide speaks ill of Georgia voters. Instead of 54 plus percent he should have won with 60 or 65 percent. Still, I was quite happy to see this deserving intellectual leader returned to office for 4 more years. In Thurbert Baker's case, he won with 57 percent of the vote. One interesting fact I noted about Baker's re-election was that he had a majority in most of Georgia's counties. The fact that my home Coweta county gave 57 percent of it's vote to Baker's opponent told me all I need to know about how Republican and "red" Coweta county is at this point in it's history. Hopefully that will change over time. It seems kind of sad that the birth place of one of Georgia's most progressive Democratic Governors would be so conservatively Republican. I'm speaking of Ellis Arnold of course, who as Governor from 1943-1947 was far ahead of his time. Of course Arnold's reward for being so progressive and liberal was that he was never again to win an election in a long lifetime after 1947. Sometimes I despair of my home state and it's politics. Stil in all, a good night to be a Democrat nationally, and a better night than I had hoped to be a Georgia Democrat, with at least some Dems winning statewide races.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Odds and Ends - Election Countdown

A little over a week ago, the teen age vegetarian moralist and I went to hear a University of Georgia history professor speak about the south. Dr. James C. Cobb is quite an interesting speaker and historian. Seems like a nice guy too. I've added his blog
  • Cobbloviate
  • to the list of my favorite net voices. My advice to the 2 or 3 fans I have who read this blog is that you should check out Cobb's thoughts on the body politic. His take is that next Tuesday's election will be about average or below average historically for out of power party gains during 6th year mid-term elections. He also posts a link to op-ed writer Charles Krauthammer's recent piece documenting why that probably will be the case. Sadly, I think both men are correct. I don't see major gains for the Democrats, probably winning the House, but not by any landslide, while I'm afraid they'll fall short in the Senate. I already figure my lone vote against the tide of Georgia Repulicanism won't make a major difference as the GOP takes over more statewide offices. I'm hopeful Michael Thurmond can survive, but I won't be surprised if he's voted out. Sad, but not surprised. The man's only done the best job ever as the state's labor commissioner and his reward will probably be to be booted out for Republican Brent Brown, but I guess we'll see whether or not that's the case come Tuesday evening. I sincerely hope I'm wrong on this one, kinda like I am weekly on my pro football picks.

    Speaking of football, there was some poetic justice in the collegiate gridiron world this weekend, with Mississippi State defeating Alabama. Sylvester Crooms is the man the Tide should have hired as their head coach years ago, and I enjoyed seeing his team stick it to his former school.

    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    Sorry for the hiatus

    Recent real life obligations and obstacles have kept me from posting of late, among them family illnesses and computer monitor death (thanks to one of our cats, but that's a story for another time). I've had a lot of thoughts about much of the recent news in the political and sports worlds. I won't try to catch up on all of them, but I will say that the Mark Foley scandal depresses me in the way that the Republican leadership apparently failed to confront the situation. Another reason that November 7 is looking more and more like a Republican debacle.

    I haven't read Bob Woodward's book State of Denial yet, but it's on my list. I was a major George Bush supporter when he became President in 2001 and I've been one of his more loyal supporters even as I've been drifting away from the Republican party in general, but Iraq is looking more and more like a terrible mistake. I was discussing Woodrow Wilson yesterday with my historian wannabe son. When I mentioned how Wilson refused to listen to any criticism of his foreign policy an image of Donald Rumsfield came to mind. It starting to look like the decisions of George Bush's Presidency may have as many negative consequences as that of Wilson, a really disturbing thought.

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Football is here!

    One of my favorite months of the year has finally arrived, September, with its opening weekend heralding in high school and college football, while next weekend will see the advent of the NFL regular season games. Also, although I haven’t attended a meet since the last time I coached it in 1987, I’m sure another one of my old favorites, cross country, is in the midst of its inaugural contests. While the temperature still climbs to the 80’s down here during the day, the faintest touch of fall seems to be in the night and morning air. Of course that later feeling could all be simply wishful thinking on my part.

    I no longer coach, and I rarely even go to games anymore, since no one in my family shares my passion for the sport, but I do keep up with the sport religiously, mostly on the internet but also through the mediums of radio and, to a lesser extent, television. Like many other Americans I’m in a fantasy football league. Computer woes forced me to miss my draft, and I’m still off line as I type the text of this blog, so I won’t know who my fantasy players are for a bit, but I already know who I’m rooting for in the sports world, just as I know whom I’m rooting for in the political one. Like the poet I’m a mass of contradictions when it comes to my choices, but I’m old enough not to let it worry me anymore.

    To start with, I’ll still root for my hometown Atlanta Falcons, although I’ve lost most of enthusiasm for Mike Vick. I really thought last year would be the year he would breakthrough as a quarterback, but it didn’t really happen. Neither did he show the maturity or leadership I would have hoped in adversity. Hope springs eternal, but if he doesn’t make major strides this year then it might be time to look elsewhere, D. J. Shockley anyone?

    I’m not quite as big a Jim Mora fan as I was once either. Of course I readily admit that I wanted us to hire interim coach Wade Phillips or Lovie Smith back when Arthur Blank was checking out replacements for Dan Reeves. That didn’t happen, but if we don’t at least reach the playoffs this year then it might be time to send out resume requests again.

    Still, all in all, I’m a birds fan, and I plan to especially cheer lustily every time Warrick Dunn, Patrick Kearney, Ed Hartwell, Rod Coleman, John Abraham, Grady Jackson, Keith Brooking, DeAngelo Hall, and Shockley are on the field. If my preferences seem weighted to the defensive side of the ball that’s because it was my favorite side to play in the meager couple of years that I played the sport in high school. When it came to coaching I preferred working with the linemen so my preferences show that also.

    In the non Falcons NFL world, this year I’m rooting for wide receiver David Boston to have a big comeback year and play well for the Tampa Bay Bucs. Boston has had a lot of problems over the last few years, many of then his own fault perhaps, but I’m a big fan of underdogs and comeback stories. If that biblical father could let the prodigal son come back then who am I to deny the same chance to some of football’s prodigal returnees?

    In keeping with that theme, I’m also rooting for Marcus Vick to stick with the Miami Dolphins and get some playing time, along with hopefully some new found maturity and judgment. I’m pulling for the position switchers, such as former Penn QB Michael Robinson, now a running back for the San Francisco Forty-Niners, and former Missouri QB Brad Smith, now trying to make the New York Jets as a receiver. For what it’s worth both had good games here at the end of the preseason, as did the younger Vick and the veteran Boston.

    Among the bigger names in the sport, I’m a fan of Jamal Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens, hoping he can make a comeback to his 2000 yards plus year of a few seasons ago. Hopefully Jamal has grown up some and also recovered from injuries. Ed Reed is another Raven I’m cheering on. I’ll always root for Tiki Barber of the Giants, as well as his brother Ronde of the Bucs. I’m pulling for Georgia Southern alumni Adrian Peterson of the Chicago Bears (ok, hardly a big name, but a stellar kid with a lot of heart – check out his bio sometime) as well as Bears back up QB Brian Griese, son of Bob Griese of my beloved early 70’s Dolphins team fame.

    I’m cheering the New Orleans Saints when they’re not playing against my Falcons, because that city (beloved of my wild partying youth) needs some good news. Along that line I’m especially rooting for Drew Brees, whom I cheered for in San Diego, and rookie Reggie Bush, to both have great years.

    On the coaching side I have my definite favorites that I try to follow and urge on. Sean Payton of New Orleans is one of the ones I’m rooting for. Another is Art Shell, long a favorite of mine when he was here with the Falcons as a line coach. Art has made a comeback with the Oakland Raiders, and I’m with him this time through the proverbial thick and thin. I just hope Al Davis feels the same way. I’ve already mentioned my liking Bum Phillips’ son Wade, and I hope he and his defense have a great year in San Diego, maybe leading him to another head coaching gig.

    Every year it seems there’s a coach that’s been unfairly treated or blamed for things that weren’t his fault. That’s the nature of the business, all the way from high school to college to the pros. Because of that I like to pick at least one coach each year whom I root for simply because I think he was given the shaft. In this year’s category of “he was wronged” I nominate what will probably be an unpopular choice with many, but as any reader of this blog knows I don’t mind being contrary or controversial. Heck, I’m the same guy who thought Mike Price was done dirty by Alabama, which is one or two reasons I’ll never cheer for the Crimson Tide again (failure to hire Sylvester Crooms is the other, in case you’re wondering). I’m also the guy who felt that George Leary was done dirty by Notre Dame, but since they then turned around and screwed Tyrone Willingham I figured that showed what character (or lack thereof) resided in the leadership of that supposedly hallowed institution. Liking present head coach and former Patriot Charlie Weiss, along with his assistant Bill Lewis (who was screwed by Georgia Tech several years ago himself) is the only reason I even consider rooting for ND from time to time nowadays.

    At any rate former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice is my choice this year as the guy who was done dirty. While Mike wasn’t perfect, Minnesota’s owners never treated him right, showing little support and vastly underpaying him while he was there. Also, as supposed savior Brad Childress is now discovering in Minnesota so far, it’s very easy to say “we won’t have any scandals or controversies on this team” but a little bit harder to actually have that happen. Suffice to say I’ll be cheering Tice on this year in his stint as an assistant coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars, while I’m secretly enjoying every little bad thing that happens in Minnesota.

    There are other coaches that I annually support, among them the Seahawks Mike Holmgren, Pittsburgh’s Bill Cowher, (yes, I suffered emotional trauma during last year’s Super Bowl, since I wished both could win), the afore mentioned Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears, along with Romeo Crennel of the Cleveland Browns. I ask you, how can you not like football coaches with names like Lovie and Romeo?

    Finally, the coach I’m really rooting for this year is Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts. Dungy has been a class act for years, and he deserves to take a team to the Super Bowl. Will the Colts make it this year? I think so, but we won’t really know till the playoffs, will we? That’s what makes the sport so much fun. Stay tuned.

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Mickey Spillane passes, R. I. P.

    One of the more controversial and best selling authors of hard boiled private eye fiction passed away Monday. Mickey Spillane (March 9, 1918 - July 17, 2006), creator of tough guy Mike Hammer and star in his own right of many of the popular Miller Lite commercials. I was never into his books as much as I was Raymond Chandler and Walter Mosley and others, but I loved those covers with his second wife posing on them. Man! Seriously, Spillane was an interesting complex man who contributed more than his share to American pulp and pop culture. Coach takes a moment to salute him.

  • Mickey Spillane obit on yahoo

  • Spillane obit at cbs
  • Sunday, July 16, 2006

    Denmark Vesey revisited

    In a country so lacking in historical self knowledge as ours, mentioning the name Denmark Vesey in conversation will probably draw blank stares from most folks. Vesey was a free black man who was executed in 1822, for supposedly planning a slave revolt. He's been in the news recently in a couple of stories. One item was where a historian called into question whether or not Vesey was actually planning such a revolt or whether the whole thing was cooked up by the authorities of the time as a way of silencing and getting rid of Vesey, who was apparently a courageous person who spoke his mind about the evil system of slavery that the US allowed until Abe Lincoln saved us from ourselves.

    The other news item is that a group of citizens in South Carolina think a monument needs to be put up honoring Vesey. This seems fair enough to me, regardless of whether or not DV was planning a revolt. Certainly there are enough monuments to southern slave owners and confederate revolters around here in Georgia and South Carolina. I would think we could put at least one up to a man who courageously stood against slavery. Mark me down as a vote for a Vesey monument. While we're at it, how about some memorials to the many folks who fought against segregation and racism during the Jim Crow era? There are a lot of unsung heroes and heroines who spoke out and fought for justice in this country, and their story needs to be more celebrated. Just a thought.

    Here are some links to the stories mentioned. The first two are basic bios:

  • Denmark Vesey on wikipedia

  • another Vesey bio

  • Here is the revisionist article from The Nation regarding whether or not Vesey was planning a revolt. Let me throw my two cents in here that I certainly think DV a hero either way. If I was alive in 1822 and saw no future for my children or other human beings who were in chains simply because they looked like me, then I hope I would have been planning some type of revolt. Period. Anyway, here's the article.

  • Denmark Vesey: A New Verdict

  • And here is the story about the Denmark Vesey and Spirit of Freedom Monument Committee, the group of folks pushing for a monument. The article doesn't say how to reach the committee or founder Henry Darby. If any of my readers know please forward the info to me. I'd like to hear how the iniative is going.

  • Denmark Vesey monument proposed
  • Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Jack Kemp scores a direct hit

    A recent article by Jack Kemp compares those Republican congressmen who are opposing the extension of the Voting Rights Act to the 1850's American party (commonly known both at the time and today by their nickname as the "Know-Nothing" party). Kemp, who has actually spent much of his life working with minorities (unlike most Republican leaders) and embracing the big tent concept of the GOP understands the symbolism and the perceptions that Republicans send out when they oppose Civil Rights measures like this. Unfortunately he's probably a voice crying out in the wilderness, just like President Bush is in the immigration debate. I predict that this stance will basically win the GOP a few more elections at best, and that then there will come a period of Democratic dominance to rival the old New Deal coalition. The only thing saving Republicans right now is that many moderate swing voters still fear the looney left wing of the Democratic party and it's lack of credibility on defense. Of course, if the Republicans keep alienating Latinos, Blacks, Women, Gays, and various other political and ethnic groups, along with squandering their perceived areas of strength - foreign policy and defense, by their inability to end the prolonged Iraq war, face down North Korea and Iran, then the Democratic renaissance wave may come sooner rather than later.
    For now Republicans can sit back and gloat as the Tom Tancredos, Lynn Westmorelands, and Jeff Sessions of the party win their safe districts, but the day will come when a few African American votes or Latino votes might win an election, and guess what? They ain't gonna be there...
    Kemp, making more sense than the whole House of Representatives...

  • Those Who Oppose the Voting Rights Act are true "Know-Nothings"
  • Sunday, June 04, 2006

    Close that Border!!!!

    Those politicians and demagogues who continue to harp on the possibility of terrorists crossing our borders have been proven right! See the link:

    Canada Nabs 17 Terror Suspects

    Only problem? It's not the border they keep harping about. It's the Canadian border. Are we going to build a fence? Are we going to send troops? Are we going to make sure that children of Canadians born in the U.S. can't become citizens?

    Or do we only do that for our southern border?

    I can hardly wait to hear what Tom Tancredo says about this.

    Tuesday, May 30, 2006

    Some more words to ponder.

    Some more words to ponder.

    The New Colossus,
    by Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)

    Written in 1883. In 1903, engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the Statue of Liberty.

    "Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
    With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
    Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
    A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
    Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
    Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
    Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
    The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
    "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
    With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

    Sunday, May 28, 2006

    A Voice of Reason

    Tamar Jacoby is a major voice of reason within the immigration debate. Required reading for anyone interested in a rational take on the subject. As she says in one of her articles:

    "I believe that immigration is driven by market forces, and that by and large it is good for the U.S. Our challenge today is to find a way to control it - not pretend that it doesn’t exist or that we can simply wish it away."

    Jacoby stands against those descendants of the 1850's American Party (known as the "Know-Nothings") who

    "hold that we can seal our borders, do without immigrants, and easily drive the 11 million illegal immigrants already here to leave the country by enforcing existing laws."

    As Jacoby says later on in her article, those folks who make this argument have "their heads in the sand."

    Here's the link:

  • Debating Immigration
    An analyst defends herself, and her critics rejoin

  • And here's a link to some more from the erudite and thought provoking Ms. Jacoby:

  • Tamar Jacoby
  • Craig "Ironhead" Heyward dies

    One of my favorite football players, both for his style of play and his apt nickname died after a courageous fight against a brain tumor. Craig "Ironhead" Heyward passed away at age 39. I remember him as an Atlanta Falcon in 1995 when he rushed for over a 1,000 yards. He was a tough player who was fun to watch. Teammates also spoke of his sense of humor. Len Pasquarelli of ESPN wrote a wonderful article about his memories of the former collegiate (at Pitt) and NFL (several teams) standout.
    Here is the link, it's worth a read even if you're not into football.

  • Ironhead was a nickname, Craig was the man
  • Hicham El Guerrouj retires

    One of the greatest middle distance runners in history has retired. Hicham El Guerrouj of Morrocco, world record holder in the 1500 meters, the mile, and the 2000 meters has announced that he is retiring from serious track competition at the ripe old age of 31. He has said that he will continue to run for fun, and plans to even run some marathons for pleasure(!) in the future. While I'm not sure that he was the greatest ever (Paavo Nurmi, Said Aouita, Sebastian Coe, and Nouredine Morcelli, not to mention Jim Ryun and Kip Keino all vie for that title) El G was certainly one of the greatest ever. His double gold medal performance at the 2004 Olympics was a historic performance, and everthing I ever saw or read about him painted him as a gracious competitor. I remember when he won the Prefontaine Mile a few years ago and Alan Webb placed behind him in an American High School record, El G pulled the young American with him on a victory lap. Truly a class act. El G will be missed as a racer, but I think we will still see him as a mentor and spokesman.
    Congratulations El G, you always gave your best.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    Anything but slow...

    Tuesday, the last day of January, 2006 was anything but a "slow" news day. First, and foremost to my mind, was the passing of the gracious and dignified Coretta Scott King, the "First Lady" of the Civil Rights movement. While her recent health problems made the news of her passing a little less of a shock than it might have been, it still was a moment of profound sadness and a reminder to me of the mortality of all of us. More about this great American later.

    January 31st was also the last day of Alan Greenspan's tenure as FED chairman. Greenspan was in many ways as influential as any President during his 18 years on the FED. His ideas and pronouncements shaped both national and international economic events and policies. It will be interesting to see if his successor is as much of a media star as Greenspan was.

    During the day, the Senate confirmed Samuel Alito to take over the Supreme Court seat held by Sandra Day O'Connor. Alito will probably be less reactionary and conservative than the radical Republicans who threw over Harriet Miers for him think. Only time will tell. The fact that one of his first actions was a death penalty delay granted shows him to be open minded. Bet that's killing the crowd that hated Miers...

    Last, but not least, the day was one of the craziest or annual sports events, Super Bowl Media Day. Want to know "everything" about your favorite Super Bowl team players? Just listen to the inane questions asked by the media on this day of days. My all time favorite? When Redskins QB Doug Williams was asked "how long (he) had been a black quarterback", his reply? "All my life," said the bemused Williams, proving once again that journalism majors should actually be forced to learn something in college...

    Sunday, January 29, 2006


    I missed a reunion of Hapeville High School (1977-82 years) last night due to illness and some family crises. I feel bad about that. While I love my present job, the best years of my teaching career were at Hapeville from 1981 to 1988. My best wishes and prayers go to all my former students and colleagues from there. Hopefully I'll run into most of them again.

    Last night's reunion sounded like it would have been particularly good, as the lady in charge obviously had worked hard on it and had secured a great list of former teachers and had sent out the word to all and sundry. I'm particularly sorry to her and to my former mentor Ms. Parramore, the one who thought I had potential but despaired of my ever growing up and being a proper role model. Dear Ann, I've worked on the growing up thing. If I'm ever half the teacher you were I'll be happy. You were the best I ever saw in all my years of teaching.

    PS - my sister also wanted me to go to the reunion and find out what ever happened to her friend Greg Barber (sp?). If anyone knows, send me a line, ok?

    Saturday, January 28, 2006

    4, four, fore...

    My brilliant and pretty sister asked me to do the 4 favorites quiz. Astute readers will note that I cheated on a couple of items.

    Four jobs you've had in your life: Truck driver/dispatcher for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, history teacher/wrestling and track coach for 3 different high schools, sales clerk for Hastings entertainment centers, and currently counselor at an Alternative School.

    Four movies you could watch over and over: True Lies, A Fistful of Dollars, A Christmas Story, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Fiddler on the Roof and Big Jake tie with these titles, and new movies Serenity and King Kong may eventually worm their way in).

    Four great fiction books: (My own additional 4 spot here) First Blood, by David Morrell; A Little Yellow Dog, by Walter Mosley; The Riot at Bucksnort, by Robert E. Howard; and Sometimes A Great Notion, by Ken Kesey.
    First Blood is still the most riveting can't be put down book I've ever read and I first read it about 1974. Plus I've briefly emailed David Morrell and found him to be a polite classy guy, for what that's worth.
    Same with the next author - Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlings and his friend Mouse are two characters I can't live without - any of this series books are a joy to read.
    Bob Howard was the creator of Conan the Barbarian, but his little known humorous tall tale westerns are some of the funniest and best things I have ever read, on a par with P. G. Wodehouse in his own individual way.
    Ken Kesey is best know for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", but Sometimes A Great Notion (title lifted from song "Goodnight, Irene") is better, read it and see.

    Four great serious songs: (another personal addition) Copperhead Road, Steve Earle; Rooster, Alice in Chains; Gangsta Paradise, Coolio; Flood, Jars of Clay.
    Copperhead Road reminds me of my moma's people from Copperhill, Tennessee. Don't know about the moonshine part, but one of my turn of the last century ancestors was nicknamed "Shotgun" Simonds cuz he always carried a shotgun after some men beat him and left him for dead. Later on in the depression and world war II my Grandpa Simonds worked in the copper mines and steelmills and also rocked the system by being a labor union activist who was briefly jailed for his beliefs and activities before settling down in Atlanta with the family after the great WWII. I think he'd have liked the song. The song is good enough that I forgive Steve Earle our political differences.
    Rooster reminds me of those friends who are all a little bit older than me, old enough to have served in the military during the Vietnam years.
    Gangsta Paradise is a paean to those young men I've seen for the last eighteen years while working with at risk students.
    Flood is a comment on the human condition. If Frederick Douglass (1818 - 1895) could survive slavery and civil war and reconstruction and Jim Crowe; if Enguerrand VII de Coucy (1340 - 1397) could survive war and bubonic plague in the apocalyptic 14th century; then I guess with God's help we all can survive terrorism and war and in this our own apocalyptic 21st century.

    Four places you've lived: College Park, GA; Athens, GA; Stockbridge, GA; Newnan, GA.

    Four TV shows you love to watch: How I Met Your Mother, Desperate Housewives, Family Guy, The Simpsons. When it comes to tv and movies I go for a humorous take on the human condition. My reading tastes sometimes tend to darker stuff.

    Four places you've been on vacation: New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle. All are great, none compare to Panama City Beach or Spokane, Washington.

    Four websites you visit daily:,,, and Also,, and (ok, so I keep cheating on the number 4 - I was never that great in math).
    Just as an aside, Kevin Burton Smith of and I have totally different political slants (well, we may agree on immigration and gay rights so maybe we're not totally different) but I still love reading his take on things cuz he's always dead on honest (no guessing where you stand with Kevin - I prefer folks like that) and thrillingdetective is the site that got me back into reading hard boiled private eye stuff years after my college days of reading Raymond Chandler.

    Four of your favorite foods: This is the vegetarian list only per order of my vegan son: scrambled eggs and cheese, fried rice, green bean casserole, bannana pudding (only my mother's though).

    Four places you'd rather be: Lewiston, Idaho; at the movies; at the library; at home.

    Four albums you can't live without: ok, I can tell you the groups - don't ask for complete specifics: The Who (the one with Baba O'Reilly), Strawbs (the one titled Ghosts?), Aerosmith (the first greatest hits one), and Linda Ronstadt (the original one with "Poor, poor, pitiful me" - which is a good way to describe her politics).

    Four magazines you read: Slate, National Review, Sports Illustrated, The Cimmerian.

    Four cars you've owned: the white Escort GT, the green Buick Skylark, the green Honda (?) GT I bought from my friend and co-worker Rick in the 1980's, and the one I have now - a Honda (?) Accord (?) - I think. Anyone who knows me knows that I love my cars in my own way, but that I am clueless as to year, make, and model unless it is visually right in front of me. I once got my car impounded by a #@% wearing a police uniform because I had to think about what kind of car I was driving - my dad had just helped me out and purchased it for me. True story. I won't say where the #@% policeman worked because all the other lawmen in that county are first class, but this man was a loser.

    Four people to do this meme: Carri, Reid, Liana, Maxine (this last might be kind of hard since she's off line).