Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dogfighting? What's the problem?

I haven't blogged on the open investigation into Falcons' QB Michael Vick's possible involvement in dogfighting. Even though it sounds bad, I thought I'd wait to see if any charges would be filed against Vick first and go from there. But Washington Redskins RB Clinton Portis and Tackle Chris Samuels changed that.

As I was driving home from the NCAA tennis championships in Athens last night, I heard a clip of an interview that Portis and Samuels gave to a Norfolk, VA television station yesterday. When asked about the Vick investigation, Portis said if Vick were convicted of dogfighting and went to jail, that Vick would be "put behind bars for no reason."

According to this MSNBC report, he went on to say:

“I don’t know if he was fighting dogs or not,” Portis said in
the interview. “But it’s his property; it’s his dogs. If that’s what he wants to do, do it.”

As he was speaking, fellow Redskin Chris Samuels was in the background laughing and making jokes about "Animal Planet."

The good thing for Portis is that he has agents and representatives from the Washington Redskins to come in behind him and clean up any mess that his ignorant ass happens to make in public. The Redskins issued a statement for him supposedly clarifying his feelings on dogfighting, saying that Portis doesn't "condone" dogfighting.

Yeah right. His original statement was clear enough for me.

After the clip was aired, there was an interview with an official from the national Humane Society. He estimates that there are over 20,000 animal fighters in our country alone. And there are breeders that breed dogs for dogfighting purposes and ship them to other countries.

So if something good comes out of all of this, hopefully it will be more public awareness about
animal fighting. Tougher laws need to be enacted along with tougher punishments for those that take part in animal fighting, own paraphanelia, or breed for these purposes. And it needs to be started right here in Georgia.

But the Redskins and the NFL could make a real statement of their own and get the message to Portis, Samuels, and any other idiot in their league that thinks dogfighting is funny.

Oh, and Mr. Blank, I wonder what's going through your mind, as well as the social conscience of the Atlanta Falcons organization? **Because, as it is, there are reports that scores of dogs found on Vick's property in Virginia will have to be euthanized or treated for injuries and malnutrition. The people of Atlanta and the entire country are watching to see just what you're going to do about this.

**P.S. May 26th's edition of the AJC contains an AP article quoting Prosecutor Gerald Poindexter as saying that earlier reports saying that dogs found on Vick's Virginia property were injured and malnourished are "erroneous." No charges have been filed in the case yet.

Monday, May 21, 2007

For Tennis Fans

These past few days, the University of Georgia has been hosting the men's and women's NCAA tennis championships. Athens has proven to be, by far, the most successful location for this tournament for the past 30 years. The beautiful Henry Field tennis stadium, the enthusiastic community support, the indominable Dan Magill, and UGA fans (5 to 6 thousand of them) have combined to make this one of the best and well run operations in all of collegiate athletics.

The Lady Dawgs bowed out of the quarterfinals last night to an underdog Cal Bears team that really played well. The Bears will meet Georgia Tech in the semis tommorow. Tech Coach Bryan Shelton has really built a nice program over on the Flats. They have yet to reach the heights of their Lady Dawgs counterparts. But a very nice rivalry is brewing. I like Shelton a lot and respect him a great deal. I can remember seeing him play Connors at Wimbledon in the late 80's. Tech's very lucky that this prodigal son came back to work for his alma mater.

The UGA men's team is in semifinal action right now vs. the University of Virginia. UVA is one of the few teams to have tested the Dawgs this year, as UGA went undefeated for a second regular season in a row.

For those of us who are stuck elsewhere, you can watch the matches live via the internet. Here's a link to live action going on as I type.

With the recent changes in my personal life, I have reached back into my childhood and started playing tennis again. I haven't played a match other than for fun since 1991. Work, life, and higher priorities are my excuses for only playing around 5 singles matches and maybe 15 doubles matches in the last 16 years.

That is until this April. I started playing with a very competitive guy, Chris, that has a nice game. He's also a fitness fanatic as he constantly breaks his personal records for things like most situps (3,420) in one day and miles ridden on a bike (163.5). He's actually better than I am, and definitely more fit. But I'm making some improvements in both areas.

Yesterday we played our 5th match vs. one another and I finally got a set off of him in a 3 out of 5 match. As is usual so far, I'm good for about one good set (usually the 2nd set) against him. But since its warmed up I've been tiring faster than he in the heat. I think we must have played about 2.5 hours yesterday with one long break to change courts.

We started out playing at the intramural courts on the UGA campus. But, after a set and a half, we yielded to the very polite womens coach at Vanderbilt University as our guests, who needed our court for his players to warm up. We wished him well and his players, and went to a different location.

The break must have bothered Chris, because I was able to take the momentum in our new surroundings and win the 2nd set in a tie breaker. Unforunately, I was a little too satisfied with my accomplishment and played very loose to start the 3rd. By the time I got back to playing decently, I couldn't win the big points. I led either 30-0 or 40-0 in FOUR consecutive service games only to lose all of them. And in my last gasp in the 4th set, I came back from 40-0 down on his serve to gain 3 different break point chances only to lose that game too. My goose was cooked, and so was my head in the mid day sun without a hat.

Maybe ole Steve needs to get me back into the gym and train me. And then I need my friend Jeff from Chicago to get down here and groove my strokes and help me with tactics. Because Chris, you're definitely kicking my ass! But it's been fun. Well done.

"The Assault on Reason"

Peter, from Blog for Democracy, gives us some good reasons to pick up Al Gore's new book. He needn't apologize for being a fan of Al's. I am too.

Idealists tend to get blasted these days. But Peter embraces that mantle unabashedly. As for his call for more idealists to get involved in the political process, and make it work the way it should, I wholeheartedly agree.

Here is another good write up on Al's new book.

C'mon Jimmy, don't back off now!

Former President Carter created a huge stir this weekend when he called the Bush administration "the worst in history," because of its lack of diplomacy and foreign policy blunders in the Middle East. Of course, Jimmy's known for saying what he thinks. He's been openly critical of Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II while each were in office. He's also usually on the mark, as he was this weekend.

Of course, this puts the right wing spin machine into anti-Carter mode. They've learned their lessons well from the days of the Great Masterbator who was very successful at masterbating the masses by telling them what they wanted to hear while blaming his predacessors for all of his problems. Unfortunately for them, many more Americans, unhappy with what they've seen unfold since 9/11, have caught on to their schtick.

But this morning, Carter is backing off of his statements about the Bush administration. In this day and age when we really need truthful voices, it was refreshing to hear a fellow president tell it like it is about the current president and his administration. Politeness and tradition need not stand in his way of speaking truth to the American public.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Festival of Books puts the big picture together on Iraq and Bush

Saturday afternoon I got caught up in the re-run of CSPAN's coverage of last April's L.A. Times Festival of Books. One segment included a panel of journalists and scholars, each having written books on the war in Iraq or aspects that greatly affect Iraq, came together to discuss the Bush administration's Iraq blunder, the role that corporate America plays in why we're doing what we're doing in Iraq, and our complete lack of dipomacy and lack of understanding of the Middle East. The panelists included Chris Hedges, William Langewiesche, T. Christian Miller, and Robert Scheer.

The highlights of the panel discussion included listening to Langewiesche expound on the notion that someone is indeed benefitting from what we're doing in Iraq, and its not the Iraqis, the American people, nor our soldiers who are fighting and dying for causes that have nothing to do with our national security. Langewiesche did not contain his criticism of our whoring ourselves out to corporate interests to only Bush and the Republicans. He also sent a shot accross the bow of our major Democratic candidates for 2008 as well.

I also thought Scheer's comparisons of the arguments against pulling out of Iraq to the arguments against pulling out of Vietnam in the 1970's. As he pointed out, Republicans argued that leaving Vietnam would be ceding southeast Asia to communism. Instead what happened was Vietnam and China went to war over a border dispute. Communism did not run rampant throughout the region. And, in fact, today capitalist ventures like McDonalds and Wal-Mart are doing quite well in both China AND Vietnam. As for fears that leaving now would mean that American casualties will have been inflicted in vain. As Mike Gravel says, their efforts were in vain the moment we attacked a country that represented little or no threat to us.

Scheer went on to use this analogy for our situation in Iraq. It's like a burgler who needlessly broke into someone's house and then refused to leave because of a fear that his victims can't survive without him. The Iraqis clearly want us to leave. Putting the best face possible on our forray into Iraq, if it was just to take out a tyrant like Saddam, we accomplished that. It's time for the Iraqis to have a chance to go about rebuilding their country and their lives.

But Chris Hedges was probably the most controversial, and maybe the most poignant. Having lived and worked for a long time in the Middle East, he has friends in Iraq and Iran. These friends are not government officials, and they have nothing to do with the military of either country, or any radical militia. They are simple ordinary citizens of their country, just as you and I are here. They are the ones that are caught up in the power struggle involving our governments, which sometimes do not have the best interests of the average American, Iraqi, or Iranian at heart. He says we owe these people an apology. First for invading the region in 2003 without provocation, and secondly for our failure to do anything about it by re-electing Bush in 2004.

Hedges goes on to say that he thinks that Bush should be impeached, despite his short time left in office. It's his opinion that it's the only way that the U.S. can restore its moral and legal authority as a world leader. He says that the Bush administration has broken both national and international law. And he's definitely correct in saying that we have created more enemies in this world since 2003 than we've killed or detained.

Hedges went on to renew his pledge that if we go to war with Iran, he won't pay his income taxes. Lets just hope that it won't come to that.