Monday, August 31, 2009

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

At some point when I was a young boy, I learned that Bobby Kennedy and I had shared the same birthday. This was in the early 1970's, when I was about 11 or 12 years old. At that point I really had no idea who he was, or that he had an older brother who had been an American President who had also been assassinated.

I actually do have a childhood memory of the 1968 U.S. Presidential election. I have a memory of living on American Street in South Philly, and most of the families that lived around us rooting for the Democratic Party candidate, Hubert H. Humphrey, to win the election against Republican Party candidate Richard M. Nixon.

While I didn't understand politics on any level, I sensed a strong 'vibe' from the adults both in my own family and my friends' families that this was a big deal. It was important in some way. It mattered. And since my people were rooting for Humphrey, well then, so was little soon-to-be 7 years old Matt Veasey.

As history tells us, Humphrey lost. I actually remember having the feeling for the first time in my young life of disappointment. I had no clue how all of the people around me could possibly be rooting for someone and expecting them to win, and then having that person lose. It just did not compute in my young mind, and I was disheartened.

Of course, as I said, I was about to turn 7 years old in just a few weeks. Between my birthday coming up, then Christmas, and the early months of 2nd grade at Our Lady of Mount Carmel catholic school with the gorgeous Ms. Sarah Hillock as my teacher, there was plenty to distract me in short order and take my attention away from a silly election.

Despite having that impression of the 1968 election, I have no first-hand memory of the vital national events that had happened earlier that same year with first the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and then of Robert Kennedy. It was only by somehow randomly stumbling upon the fact of our shared birthday a few years later that I began my own infatuation with the Kennedy's that would last for decades.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Michael Vick Deserves a 2nd Chance

It was one week ago that the Philadelphia sports scene was thrown into a tizzy when the Eagles stole the headlines from the world champion Phillies, not with their efforts on the field in their first exhibition game, but off the field with the signing of quarterback Michael Vick.

For anyone who has been living in a cave during this past week, let's catch you up on the Vick story.

He first burst on to the scene a decade ago when as a freshman quarterback at Virginia Tech he finished 3rd in the Heisman Trophy balloting. Following his sophomore college season he was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the first overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. Over the next six seasons, Vick grew into one of the most dangerous rushing quarterbacks in NFL history, and took the Falcons to the playoffs twice.

Vick became a major sports celebrity for his on-field excitement, but it was something that he was involved with off the field that would define the last few years. It came to light that Vick was not only involved directly in, but was also the financial backer for a major dogfighting operation. The losing dogs in the already vicious fights would usually be tortured and/or executed, often by brutal methods. Vick took an active role in this illegal and immoral activity.

In August of 2007, Vick plead guilty to federal charges that had been brought against him for the dogfighting operation. He was suspended indefinitely by the NFL. He was sued by the Falcons, and a court eventually ruled that he had to repay $20 million dollars in bonus money, some of which Vick had used to help finance the dogfighting. He went on to serve a year and a half in prison, then another couple of months under house arrest, and has filed for bankruptcy.

So a week ago when the Eagles announced the signing of Michael Vick, it wasn't only an announcement of the signing of a new player, but it was an announcement of the signing of a man who had become a social pariah in recent years. A man who was considered by many to be an outcast from society. Cruel, sadistic, manipulative, and even downright evil.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Bogeyman Enters Health-Care Debate

I know things have been getting really bad for the ultra-liberal Obama crowd lately, what with real Americans turning out in force and voicing their opinions loudly denouncing the President's policies at so-called 'town hall' meetings, particularly in regards to health care.

The policies instituted by the far-left, elitist Obama administration over the past six months have been staggeringly irrational and irresponsible, heaping tremendous debt on to the shoulders of our children and grandchildren, many of whom actually went out and voted for Obama with delusions of some non-specific "Hope" for some specious "Change".

Is this what they voted for, really? They actually want to be burdened for the rest of their lives by the tax bills, higher prices, and fewer jobs that are coming from these Obama policies?

Polls are beginning to show the truth. A new poll from Time magazine showed that 62% of Americans believe that health-care reform will raise costs in the long term, 65% believe reforms will make things more complicated for regular folks, and 56% believe it will result in less freedom in choosing doctors or health plans.

At the same time, research by Pollster.com, which compiles the numbers of various high-profile polls to get a more significant number, shows that overall support for President Obama, his "approval rating", is plummeting, down now to 52% from a high of 64% just six months ago.

These are significant developments, and the Obama administration and the Democratic Party-controlled congress are feeling the heat.