Monday, December 28, 2015

Eulogy for Meadowlark Lemon, the Clown Prince of Basketball

Meadowlark Lemon on Athletes

Basketball legend Meadowlark Lemon died at age 83 in Scottdale, Arizona on December 27, 2015.  Lemon was the court jester of the Harlem Globetrotters for 22 seasons before venturing off to play for the Bucketeers, then later with the Shooting Stars and in 1988 starting "Meadowlark Lemon's All Stars".  In 1994, Lemon played 50 games for the Harlem Globetrotters while still playing for his own touring team.

In Meadowlark Lemon's prime, he played 325 games a year. After missing one game in Germany after a bad meal of goulash in 1955,  Lemon played  7,500 consecutive games for the Harlem Globetrotters, which was the equivalent of 92 NBA seasons. But Lemon was known for more than his perfect attendance on the courts.
Wilt Chamberlain played with Meadowlark Lemon for the 1958-59 season on the Harlem Globetrotters.  Wilt Chamberlain lauded Lemom shortly before his Wilt's death in 1999:  “Meadowlark was the most sensational, awesome, incredible basketball player I've ever seen.  People would say it would be Dr. J or even [Michael] Jordan. For me it would be Meadowlark Lemon.”  Lemon could make unbelievable behind the back half-court baskets and was known for his long range hook shot. 

Supplementing his superior skill set at basketball fundamentals, Meadowlark Lemon was a showman.  He enthusiastically embraced being the "Clown Prince" of basketball, by doing a regular shtick of throwing a bucket-full of confetti and pulling down the pants of referees.  Meadowlark Lemon was inducted into both the Basketball Hall of Fame and the International Clown Hall of Fame. 

Aside from being an athlete and an entertainer, Meadowlark Lemon had a spiritual side.  Lemon became an ordained minister in 1986 and a Doctor of Divinity in 1988 from Vision International University.  Along with his second wife Dr. Cynthia Lemon, he founded  Meadowlark Lemon Ministries with a mission "Changing lives to change the world" by   leveraging his books, media, evangelical outreach along with Camp Meadowlark basketball camp as inspiration to stay focused and finish strong message aimed at keep kids away from the path of substance abuse. 

Meadowlark Lemon Ministries has a special outreach to youths in detention facilities and prisons.  Meadowlark's message to these troubled souls is that you are not alone, you are uniquely special, God has great plans for you and you are forgiven. 

Through his excellence on the courts and comedy, Meadowlark Lemon could entertain and elevate his fans.  Parlaying his successes on the court to his ministry, Meadowlark Lemon helped elevate himself and others to a higher level. Rest In Peace Clown Prince of Basketball. 

Epitetus on Wealth

Epitetus on Wealth

Oscar Wilde on Life

Oscar Wilde on Life

Friday, December 25, 2015

Henry Longfellow on the Bells of Christmas Day

Henry Longfellow
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep.
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men!"

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Good Grief! School Censors Linus Van Pelt's Meaning of Christmas Part to Be Politically Correct

The kids at W.B. Castle Elementary School in Wittensville, Kentucky was slated to perform a Charlie Brown Christmas as part of their Christmas were slated to perform a Charlie Brown Christmas as part of their Christmas Pageant.  But Johnson County School Superintendent Thomas Salyer issued a memo which directed schools to avoid endorsing an particular religion in their holiday performances.  

While Superintendent Salyer would permit Christmas plays, the public official delineated the acceptable civil credo:  “The U.S. Supreme Court and the 6th Circuit are official capacities and during school activities. However, our district is fully committed to promote the spirit of giving and concern for our fellow citizens that help define the Christmas holidays.”

In short, this meant that W.B. Castle Elementary School Principal Jeff Cochran the Linus Van Pelt monologue which recites Luke 2:8-14 which reveals the true meaning of Christmas. 

Parents would not take the Christmas censorship sitting down.  There were a few days of protest at the Johnson County (KY) Schools Headquarters in Paintsville.  Glenn Beck  blasted  the District's decision to censor A Charlie Brown Christmas on his national radio show. Beck suggested:

I would get together with parents and I would — if I knew this was coming — take the script of what Linus actually says and I would stand up as a block of parents and just stop the show and just all of us at that point, ‘Doesn’t anybody know what Christmas is all about?’ And all of the parents stand up and just start saying it, even as the play is going on.

In fact, some in the crowd did just that, reciting the Lukian nativity narrative at the climax of the childrens' play. Principal Jeff Conrad lamented: "[T]here were a few more lines in the play, and that was the end of it. I wish that they had let the kids do the play.”   So for Cochran, it seems the pageant was just a Kodak moment for proud parents watching their tykes get dressed up and perform and damn the content or the reason for the season.

Is it any wonder that America is being culturally hollowed out?  Americans seem to appreciate the trappings of Christmas but are discouraged from sharing the true meaning of the Yuletide cheer in public and schools had better not expose their wards  to learning least they be considered less inclusive. 

This year marked the 50 anniversary of the first broadcast of "A Charlie Brown Christmas". The story touches on over-commercialization and the secularization of Christmas. Ironically, the school district's censorship of the key passage underscores the contemporary relevance of the cultural icon. 

It was controversial, even in the mid 1960s to have a religiously themed Christmas television special. Producer Bill Mendelson was worried about quoting scripture in the script.  But Mendelson recalled: 

The first thing Schulz had said was, "If we can talk about what I feel is the true meaning of Christmas, based on my Midwest background' — he was a real student of the Bible — 'It would really be worth doing.' If we hadn't gone that way, we wouldn't have done the show.”
So it is gratifying that the Kentucky parents honored the true meaning of Christmas by telling about the miracle of the Incarnation, despite derision and official obstacles. 

Recalling Christmas Eve At the Moon

Apollo 8' astronaut Frank Borman's Christmas Eve Prayer
 Three NASA astronauts circled the Moon in December 1968 on a mission to prepare for the first human landing on the Moon the next year.  .

When transmitting to Mission Control in Houston, Frank Borman and the crew of Apollo 8  gave a Christmas Eve prayer which might scandalize avowed atheists or today's adherents to the creed of political correctness.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Favorable First Amendment Slant Should Save the Redskin's Trademark

For several years, there has been a politically correct effort to force the Washington Redskins to change their name.  In fact, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was convinced with withdraw the NFL franchise's trademark protection in 1999 and 2014, citing that "the term redskin" as derogatory and offensive even though the USPTO had approved the mark over 80 years before. Washington Redskin's owner Daniel Synder appealed claiming that case law and the weight of the evidence had been ignored.  A federal district court agreed with the Patent Office's withdrawal of the trademark in July 2015. 

However, a Federal Appeals court handed down a ruling which may well be a game changer.  The Portland Oregon dance rock band "The Slants" won a Federal Appeals Court case which began in 2011 over their provocative moniker.  The Slants are composed of Asian Pacific Island band members and pride themselves as taking on racism presumably by embracing a name which many consider to be ethnic slander. 

The Slants

In a December 22, 2015 decision, the Federal Appeals Court ruled:

“Many of the marks rejected as disparaging convey hurtful speech that harms members of oft-stigmatized communities. But the First Amendment protects even hurtful speech...
The government cannot refuse to register disparaging marks because it disapproves of the expressive messages conveyed by the marks."
That ruling ended The Slant's legal Misery, but also serves as a strong indication that the Redskin's ruling will not stand. The Redskins were stripped of trademark protection because of "hurtful speech".  In addition, the Redskin's case is even stronger as the USPTO had already approved the trademark years before and then sought to yank it away.  However, because the Redskin's appeal is in another circuit, the Slant's ruling is not automatically set a precedent.  And the US Supreme Court could also overturn the Slant's First Amendment trademark protection.

But until then..

UPDATE: 01/18/2017:  The Slants get their day at the highest court in the land as Lee v. Tam reaches the Supreme Court. The justices will decide whether the government can penalize free speech which it finds offensive or if the government granting a trademark protection allows it to disassociate from ideas which the public might find offensive 

Ted Cruz: McConnell Most Effective Democrat Leader

Malcolm Muggeridge on Going With the Flow

Malcolm Muggeridge on going with the flow

How The Donald Trump May Ruin Christmas for America

Rick Wilson on How Donald Trump May Ruin Christmas

Considering the crude back and forth between "The Donald" demanding an apology from she who will be coronated First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rick Wilson's predictions seems right on the mark. 

Opponents of Donald Trump are also using the Yuletide season as a time to score points against the current national Republican front-runner.

But as P.T. Barnum is supposed to have said: "I don't care what you say about me, but just spell my name right." 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Why Graham's Gone

Senator Lindsey Graham drops out of Republican Presidential race

December 21st was the last day for filing to be on the 2016 South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary ballot.  It is no coincidence that it was the same day the Senator Lindsey Graham dropped his quixotic campaign to be the GOP POTUS nominee.

Aside from absorbing accolades from the press corps in several of the under-card Republican debates,  Lindsey Graham has been a non-entity in the Republican Presidential Campaign.  The only place in which he excelled was consistently coming in last place all year in The Blaze's monthly Presidential Preferences among Glenn Beck listeners.

It is questionable if Senator Graham ever had a realistic pathway to primary victory in the GOP.  His best hope would have been to win as a favorite son in South Carolina and parlay primacy in the Palmetto State into Big Momentum going in the nine SEC primaries the week afterwards.  At that point Graham might have held some sway with delegates if there was an open Republican convention in Cleveland. Still those were pretty impossible dreams.

Alas, Graham only garnered 0.5% in most national polls and perhaps 4% in his home state of South Carolina. Graham presumably did not want to be thought of like Gov. John Connolly (D/R-TX) who famously spent $10 million to win 1 delegate in South Carolina during the 1980 cycle.

 Even though Graham won re-election to his third term in South Carolina in 2014, a colossal failure on the Presidential Primary stage might be a memory which loomed large in a state where he was considered a weak incumbent and only took 55% in the 2014 General Election.

Aside from ego, Graham seemed initially driven to strengthen the American military, especially during a time of war. Some might suspect this issue oriented campaign was meant as a counterbalance to a more neo-isoloationism espoused by his libertarian Republican rival Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).  However, Graham shifted to taunted Donald Trump from the small debate stage. He may calculate that his absence in the Republican field will allow his Senate sidekick, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to make a more consequential endorsement for the New Hampshire primary, which McCain won in 2000 and 2008 so his word may carry some weight.

Besides, Graham's reputation for warning "We're at war" along with his 30 plus years service in the National Guard may make him a candidate to be Secretary of State in a prospective Jeb! or maybe Marco Rubio administration, particularly if the Graham endorsement is timely and effective.

Cruz-ing to Spoil Star Wars?

Ted Cruz on Star Wars

When Republican Presidential hopeful Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) closed a press availability, he came close to spoiling a salient detail from Star Wars episode 7  The Force Awakens. 

Legal Insight on Immigration Restrictions

When Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump made his modest proposal to temporarily halt all Muslims from coming to the United States after the San Bernadino shooting, there a flurry of political protestation at such an "unconstitutional" proposal.  

Well, Temple Law Professor Jan C. Ting offered countervailing perspective to this "unconstitutional" conclusion.  The electorate may decide that a Muslim ban is immoral, unwise or unworkable, but Ting concludes that no kind of immigration restriction is unconstitutional. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Trump PR Flack Bombs Out at Nuclear Triad Retort

Katrina Pierson's response to Bill O'Reilly's follow-up about Donald Trump's stumble at the Las Vegas GOP Debate was huuuuuge. Perhaps Ms. Pierson was unaware of M.A,D,, mutual assured destruction.  Hence the need to have three different means to deliver nuclear armageddon so our opponents would never deign to use them on us.  Wow.

And I thought that Trump's original answer on the nuclear triad was unsettling.   It underscores trepidations of a troll party takeover of the GOP.

Carrie Fisher on Success

Carrie Fisher on Success

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Donald Trump on the Nuclear Triad

The Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas hosted by CNN and Salem Media was focused on Commander-in-Chief questions.  Thus foreign policy, national security and military issues were going to be in the forefront of the 5th debate in the 2016 GOP primary cycle.

To dig deeper on candidates' knowledge and national security prioritization, Hugh Hewitt asked Donald Trump a question about the nuclear triad, which has been the centerpiece of American national security strategy since the 1960s. 

Donald Trump's answer during the Las Vegas Debate was quite revealing.

First the brash billionaire engaged in some self-aggrandizement about his prescience about the 2003 Iraq War. But afterwards, there is some bluster which bluffs about how America has to be careful about not being drawn into war in Syria.  Then Trump pivoted to mocking the Obama Administration's obsession with climate change and global warming instead of nuclear proliferation, which Trump deemed was the nation's top priority.

Hewitt redirected his question to Trump asking about which leg of the Triad should be prioritized.  Trump claimed that the devastating power of nuclear is very important to him.

Trump loves to mock politicians for being stupid but res ipsa loquitur.  When Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) picked up the line of questioning, he managed to school the audience on the nuclear triad without explicitly embarrassing Mr. Trump.

Trump supporters have been trained to attack reporters who embarrass their Dear Leader. They also will claim that it was a gotcha' question which wonks may know the details but is not necessary for a Chief Executive like Mr. Trump to be well versed.

Hewitt's question was not on specifics like how many Ohio class nuclear submarines need to be built or what make of aircraft will replace the superannuated B-52s. This was at its base an opportunity for a Presidential candidate with no national security experience to show well informed decision making skills.  In a more specific sense, at a time when sequestration has decimated Pentagon procurement and there are not unlimited funds, it illuminates how a Commander-in-Chief Trump would choose to lead our nation.

This is not the first time in which Hewitt has exposed areas of ignorance in Donald Trump's foreign policy knowledge.  During a radio phone interview in September 2015, Hewitt asked Trump about the Quds forces (special forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards) and  Trump rambled on about how the Kurds were poorly treated by US. 

When Hewitt asked Trump about players on the Islamic terrorist roster without a scorecard, Trump decried the gotcha question. Trump insists that he would find absolutely great people to handle it.  Then Trump circled back to the Kurd subject on which he seemed well briefed.  Trump closed with his bluster: "In that case, first day in office, or before then, right at the day after the election, I’ll know more about it than you will ever know. That I can tell you."  

Perhaps we should expect the same sort of after election omniscience on the nuclear triad too?

The November 13th Paris atrocities and the San Bernadino Shooting has made the 2016 Presidential Election to be a National Security election. Voters will need to discern whether they want a Commander-in-Chief who is a foreign policy tabla rasa but who presumes to become pansophical as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Stop Pulling Chris Matthew's Leg

At the Las Vegas GOP Debate, MSNBC political color commentator Chris Matthews got an offbeat question by a puckish conservative journalist asking about his leg.

Matthew's "bromance" with Obama has been on the skids since last October, when Matthews blurted out that the President was getting intellectually lazy.  

Granted, the exchange was amusing but an ambush interview is uncouth. But judging by Matthews reaction after the MRC reporter steps away, Matthews just does not like having his leg pulled by others about his Obama thrill.

Sarah Palin on Political Correctess and Suicide Vests

Sarah Palin on Political Correctness

Carly Fiorina on Obama Immigration Ineptitude

Marco Rubio on US Born Foreign Fighters

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Rick Santorum on Islam

Lindsey Graham on Fighting ISIS

Mark Levin on Populism and Ethanol

Mark Levin educates Donald Trump on Ethanol and Statism

As Republican Presidential Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has risen to the top in some polling in Iowa, Donald Trump sees his huuuuuge lead being challenged.  Thus, Trump goes on the attack of his challenger, by noting that Cruz has opposed ethanol subsidies.

This line of attack got under the skin of Mark Levin, who has mostly been supportive of the brash billionaire's upsetting the GOP establishment's apple cart. 

Levin went on a rant to educate listeners about the odiousness of ethanol mandates and subsidies and sought to educate Trump on the right sort of populism.

Donald Trump on Promotion

Donald Trump on Promotion

Frank Reagan on Peace

Blue Bloods' Frank Reagan on Peace

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Roger Staubach on "The Extra Mile"

Roger Staubach on "The Extra Mile"

The annual Army-Navy game is the last game of the college football regular season.  It is an over a century old rivalry between two military academies.

During the first half of the 20th Century, the Navy Midshipmen and the Army Black Knights were in contention for the national championships.  However, nowadays the five year commitments which academy athletes make to their armed service makes professional sports players about as rare as a rocking horse's manure. Yet players give their all for this annual match-up.  They are inspired to go the extra mile.

Frank Sinatra on Enemies

Frank SInatra Jack Daniels alcohol bible enemy

On the centenary of Frank Sinatra's birth, we celebrate the golden voice of Old Blue Eyes.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Considering When Doles Are Lemons And Not Pineapples

Bob Dole on Ted Cruz

Ex Senator Bob Dole (R-KS)  offered some sharp comments about the surging conservative candidacy of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

The 92 year old Dole served four terms in U.S. House (R-KS 6th & 1st) and who had a moderate voting record that bridged the gaps of the Kansas Republican party.  President Gerald Ford named Dole as his choice for his Vice Presidential running mate in 1976. Dole was also was a five term Senator from Kansas who resigned from the body in 1995 for his furtive campaign for President against President Bill Clinton.  Now Dole is a elder statesman surrogate for 2016 Republican Presidential hopeful former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL). Who can argue with experience like that?

The strategy for the Jeb! Bush campaign is to rely upon endorsements and advertising to achieve victory.  Wheeling out Bob Dole to write fundraising letters and make television appearances seems to epitomize the strategy.   What are they thinking?

Bob Dole has been out of office for twenty years! This may not seem significant to Jeb! as he has been out of elective office for nearly nine years himself, but Dole was the head of the ticket four presidential cycles ago.    When Dole ran for President in 1996 he was 72 years old.  Due to his World War II battle injuries, Dole did not give a vibrant persona on the campaign trail and was savaged by a Saturday Night Live satire of Dole being kicked out of the Real World house.  The years of Viagra commercials and Howard Stern appearances will not make Bob Dole seem fresh. 

Then it is imperative to consider the source of a conservative critique.  Bob Dole was renowned for his moderate voting record.  During the 1976 Presidential campaign, he took the second slot during the Kansas City GOP Presidential Convention to contrast the conservative insurgent, then Governor Ronald Reagan.  Dole was not know as a strong voice for conservatism during his ten year tenure as Senate Majority Leader.  Yet at this late date, Robert Dole is going to be the arbiter for real Republican conservatism.

Dole's charges against Cruz are that he tried to shut down the government.  The legislative branch creates governmental budgets and the Executive Branch.  Cruz gave a flying flip in to use Congressional Power to roll back Obamacare, an issue which gave Republicans a majority in the House after the 2010 elections and ultimately the Senate after the 2014 election.  But it is so much easier in the District of Calamity Cocktail Party to go along and get along and occasionally offer some red meat when back home around election time. 

Per Bob Dole, the second scarlet mark on Senator Cruz was calling Senate Majority Leader(?) Mitch McConnell a liar on the Senate floor.  Oh, the humanity.  A breach in protocol in the world's leading debate society.  The problem is, to put it in Texas twang, it's ain't necessarily so. Kind of like McConnell's word. Cruz recounted the truth about broken promises but avoided the label of liar,

Dole's damning of Cruz's conservatism underscores how out of touch elites are about the sentiments of the grassroot Republicans.  With Trump, Cruz, Carson and Rubio attracting the support of over 50% of the base GOP voters, it is an odd tactic to claim that their outside the beltway dissatisfaction with the status quo are not real conservative Republican sentiments. 

The medium is also the message.  Dole delivered his diatribe against Cruz and Trump on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell show.  It is dubious if ANY conservatives watch that program much less are swayed by the rhetoric. 

Dole's attacks against Cruz may extend from political animus to a concerted strategy.  It has been postulated that Jeb! proponents  will scatter shots against most of the rest of the GOP field save "the brash billionaire  to make it a damoclean choice between Jeb! and "the Donald".

After Dole's Andrea Mitchell hit, one should wonder about when Doles are lemons and not pineapples.  At this stage in the process, Dole would be wise to can it.

Donald Trump on Time Magazine's Person of the Year

Donald Trump on Time Magazine Person of the Year Angela Merkel

Time Magazine announced the 2015 Person of the Year.  German Prime Minister Angela Merkel who led the European Community in its response to the Syrian Immigration Crisis, was named the Person of the Year.   The runner up was ISIS leader , Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  Billionaire Republican Presidential hopeful Donald J. Trump came in third.  

But this snub did not stop Mr. Trump from trying to dominate the headlines by posting a sour grapes tweet about Time Magazine's choice.  

Wonder how Trump will react if he does not score huuuuuge victories in early contests like the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Alas, it does not take much imagination to anticipate the narcissistic ire which such defeats will inspire. 

Albert Camus on Writing

Albert Camus on Writing

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015

Thomas Sowell on Obama Oval Office Address

Thomas Sowell on Obama Oval Office Address

Ralph Peters Unafraid to Opinion About Obama's Oval Office Address

Lt. Col. (ret.) Ralph Peters calls Barack Obama a total pussy

Fox Business host Stuart Varney asked Lt. Col. (ret.) Ralph Peters what he thought after hearing President Obama take the specially installed podium in the Oval Office to address the aftermath of the San Bernadino terrorist atrocity.  Peters did not disappoint in offering an unvarnished opinion.

Peters was certainly more blunt than Mika Brzezinski's daughter, but it again demonstrates that the speech was poorly received and this reaction was widespread.

Update: 12/08/2015: Fox Business Network and Fox News Channel placed military analyst Ralph Peters on a two week suspension for his salty language regarding President Obama.  Fox programming executive Bill Shine stated: “FOX Business Network and FOX News Channel do not condone the use of such language, and have suspended both Peters and Dash for two weeks.”