Thursday, November 24, 2011

Beaten With A Drumstick...My Thanksgiving With the Republican Wannabes

Thanksgiving 2011 was like no other, as the entire Republican presidential field came to our home for turkey and fixins. 

How were we so lucky?

Amazingly, we were chosen via robo call to host the live event for Donald Trump's new Internet channel, EGOTV.

Here's how the day went:

10:00 am - The candidates arrive in their custom made buses, creating quite a traffic jam in the driveway.  My wife and I greet them along with our children.  The kids love Rick Perry's bus, which includes a flat bed and gun rack, complete with a turkey hunted down with his bare hands a few hours earlier. 

10:30 am - "Turkey Bowl" football game.  The highlights: 

Newt Gingrich insists on being game historian, making rules such as "Go deep, go out," or "One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi"  sound like a dissertation on molecular physics.

Mitt Romney plays quarterback for both teams, naturally.

The game is tied going into the final minute when Romney completes a pass to Herman Cain, who bowls over Jon Huntsman and Michelle Bachman, then races towards the goal line with Ron Paul latched onto his right leg. With ten yards to go, Perry (who found it hard to run in cowboy boots) manages to lasso Cain from the sideline, bringing him down head first with a thud.

As everyone rushes to Cain's aide, he sits up, dazed, and explains that there is, "All this stuff twirlin' around in my head."

12:00 noon - The candidates watch football and wait for dinner.  Perry cheers for his Cowboys, while Romney can't decide who to root for when he isn't nervously changing channels.   Cain, still dazed, tries to remember where he has seen Huntsman and Rick Santorum before. 

3:00 pm - Dinner. 

At the dining room table sits my wife and I, along with Romney, Gingrich, Perry and Cain.

In the next room, at the kids table, my children sit with Bachman, Paul, Huntsman and Santorum.

Gingrich leads a prayer which goes on for over an hour, after which he announces a new book on Thanksgiving (written while everyone else was watching football), available on Amazon for $24.95.

Discussion centers around who can be the most conservative, with several ideas bandied around including:

- Privatizing Social Security, with funds invested in a nationwide chain of drive thru gun shops (Perry)

- Putting God on the $20 bill in place of Andrew Jackson (Santorum)

- Converting Head Start into a vocational job training program (Gingrich)

Things get heated over taxes as Paul begins jumping on his table while Bachman shoots peas at the other candidates.

At one point Cain says, "I am against government aid to pilgrims for the following reasons...LINE!!"

6:00 pm - Departure.

The candidates begin to leave.  Perry says to my wife, "Boy, there were three great things about today, the food, the company and......let me get back to you."

Plenty of pleasantries to go around. 

And who gets the leftovers?  We do, the voters.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Too Many Cooks in The Presidential Kitchen

It's official.  I have "debate fatigue" before primary season even starts. 

It seems there is a Republican presidential debate on every night, or at least as often as "Law and Order." 

I love a good debate, and God bless 'em for having so many of them.  They have provided plenty of good moments and, indeed, some comic relief. 

But every time I watch and scan the stage I can't help but think of the old Bill Murray routine on Saturday Night Live, the one where he would give his Academy Award picks for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress, ignoring the Supporting Actor and Actress nominees because "who really cares about these anyway."

Here's the link:

At some point soon, if they don't drop out on their own, someone from the RNC needs to step in and prod "Supporting Actors" Ron Paul, Michelle Bachman, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum et al. to exit for the good of the party. 

I suspect the number of candidates will dwindle anyway, drastically, after the New Hampshire primary.  Until then, voters are stuck with a diluted message delivered by candidates shouting into the wind.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Joe Paterno Must Go

Joe Paterno, the legendary Penn State University football coach, the winningest coach in the history of college football, is all but gone for his role in an explosive abuse scandal involving one of his former coaches. 

Jerry Sandusky, who served as an assistant coach under Joe Paterno for over two decades, was indicted this week, charged with sexually assaulting over 40 young boys dating back to 1994.   Sandusky, who suddenly retired in 1999, continued to office at Penn State while running a not for profit called The Second Mile, which benefited at risk youth. 

And, prosecutors say, he continued to molest young boys. 

In 2002, Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant to Joe Paterno, allegedly witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in the football locker room showers.  The assistant told his father about the incident immediately, then Paterno the next day. 

Paterno then reported the incident to his boss, Athletic Director Tim Curley, who resigned earlier this week.  

The consequence for Sandusky?  No legal action, no police intervention.  He lost his locker room keys. 

I am sickened on two levels.

First, how does McQueary witness a rape and not intervene?  How does he fail to call the police himself?

When McQueary tells his father, how does the father not call police? 

And when McQueary tells Paterno, how does Paterno not inform the police? 

Life in Happy Valley won't be the same for a long, long time.  Not for the victims, for Sandusky, for the administrators, for Paterno. 
If the allegations are true, then at a minimum Joe Paterno looked the other way while a predator on his staff raped children as young as ten. 

I am especially sickened, as a Catholic, with the parallels between the Penn State abuse story and the Catholic priest abuse stories.  

In both cases, given the opportunity to protect our children, those in charge looked the other way.

Maybe it's pure coincidence that Sandusky's arrest comes weeks after Paterno won his 409th game, making him the winningest coach in the history of college football. 

In the end, Joe Paterno will be remembered as a man who lacked courage, who failed to protect children from a monster.  A man who appeared to stand for so much, a "molder of men," in the end stands for nothing.  Except winning games. 

Legally, Paterno is in the clear.  Morally, he's on an island.

It's time to go, Joe.  Now please.