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Posts Tagged → values

Vote for the Boy Scouts tomorrow

While the Boy Scouts are not actually running for office in tomorrow’s primary election, the principles of that venerable American institution are certainly being voted on.

Voted on in the sense that there are candidates who are go-along get-along types, for whom holding elected office is a career, a business opportunity, an ego boost (let’s call all these types “swamp dwellers”).

And then there are candidates for whom holding elected office is a sacred duty of service to one’s fellow citizens. These candidates stand on the bedrock principles that founded America and which make it great. These principles are bound up in the fabric of our institutions, like the Boy Scouts, which taught those values and ideas (self-reliance, accountability, community).

Last week about eight people on the national board of the Boy Scouts of America voted once again to give in to extremist demands aimed at gutting everything the Boy Scouts stand for.

This time this small handful of people voted to change the name of the Boy Scouts to just “Scouts,” paving the way for an undefined, politically correct, genderless soup standing for vague good feelings. Maybe. At the cost of boyhood.

As one might expect, those Americans with the greatest connection to the Boy Scouts as founded have now begun to officially withdraw from the “new” organization. The Mormons were right up front in their abandonment of the sinking ship. Good for them. My own son just found out about it last night. After seven happy years in the Boy Scouts, he said “I do not want to do this, I do not want to participate in this. This is not what I signed up for.”

How incredibly painful.

The gutting of the Boy Scouts is symbolic of the leftist ailment we are experiencing across America and the liberal civil war being forced upon all normal and good Americans.

Those representatives who are supposed to be on the front line, defending us from constant assaults, are actually AWOL or worse, whether they are elected in politics or sitting on non-profit boards.

Across America we see people get elected to office, and they have no intention of doing anything except holding that office. Or worse, using it for self-enrichment or cultural destruction. What is happening on the Boy Scouts board is exactly what is happening across America.

Tomorrow I will be working a voting poll, helping two candidates I like, for the simple reason I believe they are tough enough to stop our bleeding, stop our cultural deflation, good enough to use public office for public benefit. They are Paul Mango and Andrew Lewis.

Locally, here is who I will be or would be voting for:

Paul Mango for governor. Paul is a good guy, a US Army veteran, rated more conservative than his two opponents. Laura Ellsworth is rated as “Liberal,” and moderate state senator Scott Wagner has become the very swamp creature he said he was against.

Peg Luksik for Lieutenant Governor.

Andrew Lewis for state house. Andrew is a fine young man, a US Army veteran, with strong character. His opponent, liberal Adam Klein, is the very essence of the political establishment swamp destroying Pennsylvanians’ hopes, dreams, and rightful expectations.

Either George Halcovage or Scott Uehlinger for Congress, over Dan Meuser. Dan has so many issues, some of which have been listed on this blog, his candidacy is an example of why diligent citizen action is required to hold on to our government. Meuser is DC swamp through and through.

Both Lou Barletta and Jim Christiana are rated as “somewhat conservative,” and neither one impresses very much through some particular distinction. On the one hand, Barletta has earned a good name for himself on illegal immigration (i.e. protecting US taxpayers’ and citizens’ rights), while Christiana is a young go-getter. Either one will be superior to political careerist disaster Bob Casey.

Tomorrow, while I am voting for and supporting particular candidates as a volunteer poll watcher, I am inwardly doing it for the old Boy Scouts and everything they stood for.

I want my America back. I want the old-fashioned values  on which America was founded. I want the Boy Scouts back. Voting for these people above helps us move Pennsylvania and America in that positive direction.

 

The Wonder of Elvis

Elvis Presley was a wonder in so many ways.

Youthful cutting-edge song writer and musician, he combined mountain folk music with country, blues, and gospel, with substantive themes and meaningful words, creating his own powerful sound with bi-racial bands that captivated people around the world. Come to think of it, in some ways like Ray Charles, a similar creative genius who also went on to make his own unique blues and jazz sound (also drawing upon sacred music) during the same time.

Both men created, captured, and represented certain turning points in American culture in their music.

But Elvis was more than a musician of meaningful songs. He also wrote, directed, and starred in dozens of movies, for which he wrote or performed some or all of the sound tracks. Like his music, Elvis movies are about simple life themes, like love, relationships, community, commitment, family, patriotism, public service, and God. Gosh his movies are corny, with clunky acting, but they carry important and positive messages Americans could sure use a dose of today.

In the 1950s, when Elvis was debuting, American women were married to the scarred men who had returned from the battlefields or the military training grounds of World War II. A lot of these men were tough, hardened either from the Great Depression or from their military experiences, or both. Romantic thoughts or gestures, tender touches, gentle words with their women were pretty scarce then.

Along came Elvis, singing to these women about loving and relationships they could only dream of, representing a model man they could only hope for. In his way, Elvis taught men of his generation how to respect and treat women right, mostly by singing about the kinds of feelings women had and how men could aspire to satisfy them.

Women screamed and swooned, and men wanted to be his friend.

Meanwhile, other entertainers were singing about banging in the back of a car, and most popular music hasn’t moved too far forward since. OK, it is true that later on Elvis developed that hip thrust, but he let it stand on its own without any words to back it up.

He was a good soldier, literally, volunteering for the US Army at a time when most of the people being drafted to serve in combat were less privileged young men without access to lawyers or school deferments. His military service was mostly symbolic, but inspiring. Asked by a reporter in 1971 what he thought about the anti-war protestors, he responded that he was just an entertainer and would rather keep his opinions to himself.

In private Elvis was no Lothario. Reportedly chaste and deeply religious, his child was born exactly nine months to the day after his marriage to Priscilla. No fooling around or cutting corners.

After developing his own sequined and bejeweled stage look, Elvis wore a freakin cape, and yet still commanded the adoration or respect of everyone around him, be it president of the United States or hard bitten businessmen. He was authentic, real. A humble, simple country boy. With a big shiny gold belt under his coat!

He was relatable, because he was real.

“Before Elvis there was nothing,” said John Lennon of the Beatles.

“When I heard Heartbreak Hotel, I was transported,” said crusty Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, no pushover or soppy romantic.

Elvis’ impact on the development of music was unequaled.

Embodying so many unique, separate, divergent, and ultimately convergent strands of American identity, Elvis was a wonder no matter how you analyze him. He represented the best of America, the best of its values.

Elvis is still be the King of Rock and Roll, four decades after prematurely reaching the Promised Land. His generous spirit lives on, albeit appreciated by fewer and fewer. No one since has attained his heights or impact on popular culture.

America could use a pop culture figure like Elvis today. Someone to bridge the gaps between us, to help inspire and unify us, to sing to us about our best qualities, about love and gentleness.

We need and miss you, Elvis.

NFL – “No F@#*n Loss”

As part of the entertainment industry’s decades-old war on American culture, ESPN and now the NFL have joined the politically correct pile-on.

Hollywood has led the way, surely, with its movies’ power of suggestion.

That Hollywood increasingly excretes unvarnished political activism in the guise of children’s movies as well as rated R adult movies is a thing of pride to that city; no one there even denies it. Hollywood is really just a communication propaganda arm of one political party.

But you cannot discount the increasing effects of ESPN reporters who now openly write that President Trump and his supporters are “white supremacists,” among many other examples of overt daily political activism by ESPN staff.

When I write “effects,” I mean the boomerang effect, which is where the intended results of one’s actions negatively rebound and injure the person who started it. These are ironic consequences, the best, most well-earned.

Perhaps the pinnacle of this boomeranging political activism is the anti-America statements by NFL players. Taking a knee and not standing during the national anthem wasn’t enough. Now some NFL players are making political videos that are shown at the game opening, or at half-time.

Well, removing the ESPN application from my iPhone was easy. There, ESPN, I am done with you. You are out of my life. See ya!

Over the past few years, ignoring the latest crop of poorly acted, poorly scripted, CGI-heavy Hollywood movies was a little more difficult, because Saturday night out at the movies with ice cream afterwards is a regular family thing. Even a lame movie would nonetheless entertain us and provide food for discussion later on. Like, was the movie’s symbolism consistent with its message? Did the message flow, or did acting anomalies and hiccups sidetrack the message? Was the message worthy, or was it muddled, or even negative?

These kinds of conversations with our kids were always stimulating, because as parents we enjoy watching our children grow. Nonetheless, unless a movie is exceptional in every way, we now decline to spend our money on a product from Hollywood, because that city is constantly at war with our values.

Now we have the National Football League, the NFL, getting all poseur-like. The NFL, too, is starting to see a substantial decline in business income. Why?

Illiterate men of the NFL, who have earned tens of millions of dollars in a few brief years’ time simply for running up and down a field, are out complaining about their station in life. You cannot make this stuff up. We indeed have phenomenally successful young men from disadvantaged backgrounds, whose wealth is largely accumulated from admirers of a different skin color, now claiming discrimination. And therefore, they take a knee during the American anthem.

In short, they tell their audiences and fans to go to Hell.

I don’t deny these guys have a right to stage their silly protests. But I have no duty to watch them, or to listen to their nonsense. And I have the right to stop watching their football games altogether, which is what I have now done.

This past January I called the NFL headquarters in Manhattan. Sharing my opinion of the league’s unwillingness to bring the football games back to being just about the games was the goal of the call. But, try as I might, finding a live human being was impossible. The phone menu just kept rotating through, taking me back to the beginning each time.

So I just started punching random numbers in to the phone.

Next thing I know, I was into the voice mail of a young NFL staffer, whose name I do not recall. But you know I took that opportunity to leave a detailed message on his voice mail.

My message to him was simple: Since I was eleven years old, I have looked forward to new NFL seasons. I always enjoyed watching NFL games.  But that enjoyment has diminished lately because of all the fake moaning, fake victimhood, fake whining by these anti-America grandstanders on the football teams. And so I kindly asked the league to give players a simple choice: Dear employees, play, or leave, but no more political crap on someone else’s dime.

Unsurprisingly, I did not get a call back from anyone at the NFL. The organization seems to take people like me for granted. At their own peril.

Well, I did not watch one single NFL game last year, and I will not watch one single NFL game this year, either. And I will keep spending my time on other activities until the NFL gets its players to commit to just playing the game, and to stop insulting good people who have not had a racist thought in their lives. Or perhaps the time I free up that I used to spend watching NFL games on TV will become better spent, irrespective of the political landscape.

Yes, I know, it is common now for people to assert that disagreeing with them on policy issues automatically means you or I are “racist.” The contrary facts do not matter to them. As a result, nothing has done more damage to the battle to end discrimination and racism than this constant crying wolf by crybullies and rich crybabies.  I am a very good person, I am not a racist, and I am tired of being told I am a bad person because I do not share some silly ideology.

Guys, just play ball. OK?

I have now arrived at a place where the NFL has taken on a new meaning: No F@&#’n Loss to me. I don’t miss it.

 

My impression of Paul Mango, candidate for PA Guv

Three weeks ago I spent half an hour on the phone with Paul Mango, newly declared candidate for Pennsylvania governor.

We talked about his candidacy, his background, political issues, economics, hopes and challenges, etc. We then followed up with several back and forth emails, each one of his expressing specific appreciation and thanks for how the exchange had benefited him in a certain way. He is a new candidate, new to politics (other than as a very generous donor to Republican candidates), and he is digesting a lot of new information and ideas, new ways of thinking.

Last week I met Mango at his formal campaign announcement at the Twin Ponds sports and fitness center in Camp Hill\Mechanicsburg.

Twin Ponds previously served as the region’s HQ for primary and general election candidate Donald Trump, who won Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes by a margin probably accounted for just by the simple dedication of Central PA’s “normal Americans” in both political parties. The big facility is run by a pretty, petite firebrand of a woman, Mrs. Patton aka General Patton.

Here are my impressions of Mango (and yes, I know, he’s just getting started):

He is impressive in several key ways: His family background and values, his education and military service, and his high level professional work experience.

Paul Mango is a very smart, confident, and empathetic man, who comes across as a reserved, reflective, nice person, and a responsive, good listener.  He is positive and genuine.

I questioned him in person about how he will compete against candidate Scott Wagner, who has spent years battling in the trenches with a lot of conservative voters and activists, against entrenched establishment political hacks in politics for personal financial gain, and who has thereby built up credibility with many politically active citizens who value bravery and honesty.

When I pointed out that Wagner has also alienated a lot of people (including many of his former supporters) in that process (because Wagner seems selfish, arrogant, and unappreciative), Mango responded that he will not say anything negative because he has never seen valuable leadership succeed except through “inspiring people.”

That is a very high bar to set for one’s self, much less one’s political competitors, but it is worthy because it says Mango has integrity. The Wagner campaign has already criticized Mango for supporting Cruz first, and then Trump later, though I got the impression that is what Scott Wagner did, too, like a lot of us did in last year’s Republican primary. Here we go, the mud is already flying!

Well, to start, if Mango is going to inspire voters, then he needs to increase his positive speaking energy, his intensity, his passion. The other night he came across as a little nervous, and definitely way too deliberative, almost plodding, at his formal announcement. His prepared speech was long and the delivery was very, very slow.

Recall that Abraham Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg is so hard hitting because it was not long and plodding, but brief and hard hitting.

Despite serving in the 82nd Airborne and actually being a warrior, Mango’s even-keeled demeanor does not seem warrior-like, while his main competitor, Wagner, did not do military service and yet is a proven culture and fiscal political warrior.

Though he wore jeans, work boots, and an Oxford shirt, Mango is the very definition and personification of “corporate,” which will probably look or smell like moderate RINO to the trench warfare grass roots conservatives. Time will tell if that first impression is accurate.

His approach to fixing government is his approach to fixing businesses, about which it is best to just quote my activist friend Ron:

The problem with these guys [corporate/business/ Chamber of Commerce GOP candidates who compare running government to running business] is they all have plans to fix government by running it like a business. This is not a unique viewpoint and it has never worked. This is politics, not business. Took me a while to accept that.  He can have the greatest plan ever but it won’t matter because politicians don’t care [about people, policy, economy etc.].  They care about themselves and getting re-elected.”

It is a fact that careerist politicians in BOTH PARTIES do not act like corporate employees, because there is almost no accountability in politics. The old quip about the only accountability in politics resulting from being “found in bed with a dead girl or a live boy” probably doesn’t even apply today.

Like him or not, candidate Scott Wagner goes right to the key policy battles: Corrupt blood-sucking unions, ridiculous regulations that violate our federal and state constitutions, wasted and stolen taxpayer money.

That is where the rubber meets the road in the culture war for America’s soul and the war for a middle-income economy.

This is the battle front between America as it was founded and as we knew it, and America as a bastion of totalitarian socialism and politically correct thought police, envisioned by the Left.

Candidate Mango will probably arrive here at the same battle front, eventually, because the leftists’ violent street battles across America tell us that nice words alone don’t work, and Trump’s improbable win says it all (JEB! was also the quintessential corporate nice guy, and GOP voters utterly rejected him).

Mango’s steady personality seems to avoid conflict, which though commendable and reassuring in so many other settings, can send the message to some voters that he may be like a zillion other mainstream RINOs who are unwilling to dive into the bar room brawl that needs to happen for America to be set right. These careerist RINOs don’t want to get their hands dirty waging political war, which tells voters that they really just don’t care very much about political or cultural outcomes.

Mango is smart enough to see these facts and voter trends. Whether he arrives at that messy policy battle front sooner or later is the question. If he finds a way to comfortably voice his quiet intensity, his passion, his compassion for working Pennsylvanians, then he will overcome the potential impression that he is another empty GOP suit (I was told that PA GOP kingmaker Bob Asher has NOT supported Mango, which appeals to the conservative, independent-minded base).

I like the guy and I am looking forward to seeing him develop over the next six months, because, again, he is new to politics and just getting started.

“Black Shoes. Basic Blues. No Names. All Game”…. gets me back in the game

Congratulations to the Penn State football team on its defeat of Wisconsin for the Big Ten conference title last night.

How strange that Ohio State is in the running for the national title, when they neither beat Penn State in the regular season (OSU lost to PSU), nor did they win their conference (PSU won it last night).

We are back in the familiar conundrum of old, where PSU got and still gets no respect. How many decades did PSU go winning, winning, and winning, but frequently blocked  from playing for the national title?

It is time to stop this unfairness and give to PSU what is their due: A shot at the national title. This requires making the OSU guys feel bad, which is nearly always what happened to PSU in the past. Sorry OSU, enjoy a shot of your own medicine.

After coach Joe Paterno was railroaded and publicly humiliated at PSU by a weak board and a weaker CYA-run administration that made former assistant coach Mike McQueery a wealthy man, my interest in PSU everything pretty much dropped to zero. I stopped watching the games, stopped caring, stopped donating to the university, and basically dropped PSU from my life. The cataclysmic Paterno auto de fe signaled a break from the core values and principles I had grown up with and identified with. I was no longer Penn State Proud.

That said a lot, because I grew up in the State College area, graduated from PSU, my mother has her PhD from PSU, and I attended PSU home games from the time I was seven until I left for Vanderbilt to pursue my career as an academic.  Plenty of our family have graduated from PSU, and watching Penn State football together during the holidays was a family tradition. I went to school with two of the Paterno kids and still maintain contact with one of them, the one I was closest to and spent the most time with. Time spent in the Paterno home listening to Coach Paterno recruit players shaped my own life. He was all about clean living.

Last night’s win over Wisconsin was meaningful to me not because PSU is back in the winning game, but because the fans, the alumni, the board (more on that pathetic, worthless PSU board of trust-less-ees in a moment) and the administration have given Coach Franklin the breathing room to resurrect the destroyed team from the ashes of annihilation at the hands of State Senator Jake Corman, disgraced pedophile Jerry Sandusky, the NCAA, former FBI head Louis Freeh (a great fiction writer), PSU administrators, and the worthless PSU board.

Coach Franklin needed the space and time to breathe new life into a program that always was and always should be top ten quality. He needed the kind of space and patience Paterno had received. Getting the damned names off the jerseys, and getting back to the no-frills basics of Black Shoes, Basic Blues, No Names, All Game. Getting this space marks somewhat of a return to normalcy, where professionals are allowed to be professionals. Professionalism was one of the former hallmarks of PSU football. Staid dedication and loyalty were once a hallmark of PSU administrative culture. The former players’ conservative, humble, and respectful approach to playing football always contrasted with the weak hotdogging that plagues the NFL and most college teams.

Shades of Coach Joe Paterno here. Might we be touching greatness again? I am looking.

So I am now finding myself maybe interested once again in PSU football. But not all football, because I am still boycotting the NFL – not one NFL game watched this season – due to the league’s support of anti-America player Colin Kaepernick. Thank you, PSU folks. This could be rewarding to me, as leaving PSU football was a sad time in my life.

Now, about the PSU Board of Trustees, that worthless aggregation of empty names that supposedly runs Penn State University.

Last week, Harrisburg businessman Alex Hartzler was appointed to the PSU board by Governor Wolf. Alex and I attended PSU together, and we were both active in politics there. We have stayed in touch for the past fifteen years. Alex’s entrance into the snake den is a bright spot, because simply put, Alex don’t give a sh*t about whatever crybaby weak stuff the other members are bringing in as fodder for their continued presence there.

Alex and I differ on almost every policy subject. He is one of the few Democrats I know to ever emerge from Lancaster County, and a farm boy at that. I am a Constitutional conservative who thinks the Republican Party is worthless, and also from Pennsylvania farm country. While Alex has maintained his partisan loyalty to one party, even as it was going over the cliff, he has always displayed a sharp and incisive intellect and tough attitude that brooks no bullcrap. I think Alex Hartzler is exactly the kind of person to help PSU get its act together. Yes, he will want policies on climate change junk science, same-sex bathrooms, and a bunch of other PC issues that I believe are unworthy of consideration let alone debate, but at the end of the day, I expect to see lightning bolts from the moribund board. Thank you, Alex.

Let’s get the PSU show back on the road.

If it smells bad, it’s bad

Donald Trump wasn’t my candidate. Lacking a political or social track record appealing to my values, he was going to be enjoyed for having mixed it up with the corrupt political establishment.

But then Ted Cruz began behaving in ways inconsistent with my values, too, and I began second guessing my loyalty to his campaign.

American voters across the country have increasingly complained about voterless primaries run by insiders. Actual voters, public opinion, have been shunted aside in Colorado, Wyoming, Indiana, and elsewhere.

We are then lectured about “the rules,” and how if people want to win, they need to play by the rules.

Well, in Georgia there were no rules. It was Lord of the Flies, anarchy, where voter sentiment was tossed out and insiders voted themselves into delegate roles inconsistent with the actual vote outcome.

Rules? The rules here are meaningless. They change with the wind. They’re open to interpretation. They apparently don’t mean much at the end of the Election Day, and across America actual voters are complaining that something smells bad. They’re saying they are being disenfranchised.

If our voters say it smells bad, then it’s bad.

On Facebook some people I know and respect assert that Trump is “whining” about losing, that he’s disorganized, that he doesn’t care about or want to learn the various state rules. That he doesn’t want to play by the rules.

Problem with this thinking is, Trump is merely giving voice to the hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens feeling shut out from their political process. When our fellow citizens express these concerns, we must listen. When they say they’re being ripped off by insiders playing by rules that are by their nature fast and loose, we should listen.

When voting fails, the fabric of society is tearing.

Real conservatives are principled. First and above all else, conservatives follow our Constitution and the basic, essential principles devolving from it. Like one citizen, one vote as the basis of our republic.

People who say they don’t care about these claims, who say they don’t care about Trump or his supporters, are really saying they just want to win and they don’t care how they do that.  And that right there is as unprincipled as it gets.

Cruz’s character is being tested here. In my sad opinion, this candidate I donated to, campaigned for, lined up endorsements for in Pennsylvania, is demonstrating poor character. He should be disavowing the voterless primaries he has “won,” as well as the delegates he has “turned,” despite the will of the voters who created those delegates in the first place.

No question, Cruz better represented my values early on. But now, his actions say that my perception of his values was wrong. And thus, I’m not voting for that, or him. I’m voting for the voters and their voice, their best advocate, Donald Trump.

On Being a Dinosaur

I am a dinosaur.

In so many ways, my beliefs, ideals, values, education, outlook, hobbies, lifestyle, and behavior seem as outdated and as uncommon as the dinosaurs that died out long ago.

Put another way, I am one of the Last of the Mohicans, certainly not THE last, but one of a dwindling group that sees the world differently than the corrosive pop culture fed daily to Americans by Hollywood.

And I am proud to be this way, to be a patriot, to exalt individual citizen rights and liberties above government intervention, to take risks and make sacrifices in a free market capitalist society that rewards hard work and penalizes laziness.  American Sniper, Act of Valor, and Lone Survivor are the only movies that moved me in many years because I believe in military heroes, although the Lord of the Rings productions are highly entertaining.

Meanwhile, pop culture would have every American equally unhappy, equally deprived of their rights and liberties, equally planted on a couch eating junk food and watching mindless TV shows that are at war with the underpinnings of Western Civilization.

(A short, hard-hitting article about Hollywood’s destructiveness by one of its most famous writers is here.)

And I am also an old-fashioned “Hook-and-Bullet” conservationist, a hunter, life-long gun owner and fisherman, an NRA member and even more so, a FOAC member who means it when I say “You can have my guns when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.”

But did I mention that conservation is a huge part of my identity? You know, farmland preservation, wildlife habitat protection, forest land acquisition for public ownership, and wilderness areas where I can hunt, fish, camp, and hike without seeing or hearing another human being for as long as I am out there.

And why is it so hard for so many traditionalists to see that traditional American values are directly tied to, and derive from, rural landscapes? And that our remaining rural landscapes are precious fragments of the great American frontier, on which our national identity and Constitution were forged?

So why wouldn’t a conservative want to conserve those rural landscapes that gave birth to his identity and values, that enshrine Constitutional rights and self-reliance?

For some strange reason, an increasing number of gun owners are not hunters, and do not really show that they care about wildlife populations or wildlife habitat, or about land and water conservation.  When I attend meetings at different sportsmen’s clubs, like Duncannon Sportsmen, and I hear the Conservationist’s Pledge, my heart wells up and I nearly get as teary-eyed as when I hear the national anthem, or the Pledge of Allegiance.  It doesn’t help that most of us in the room are sporting lots of white in our beards and on our heads.  The next generation seems to have taken a lot for granted, because all of the battles we fought decades ago bore such abundant fruit.

All this makes me a dinosaur, and although I recognize it, I am not happy about it.  I feel like I am watching the greatest nation on Planet Earth disintegrate under my feet, and it scares me, makes me sad, and makes me want to do what I can to try to prevent it from happening.

I do not want traditional American values to go extinct, like the dinosaurs, because although those values may not be in vogue right now, America was founded on them and the nation cannot successfully continue on without them.

Confluence of disparate traditions

Today marks the first time in about a thousand years that Hanukkah falls on the same day that ended up being America’s Thanksgiving holiday this year. It’s an unusual overlap symbolizing the confluence of Judeo-Christian values. Both holidays are about giving thanks to God for salvation from death, both holidays celebrate freedom. Today, may your Thanksgiving be doubly blessed with the presence of Hanukkah’s first day, and may it portend good things to come for America.

Penn State Pain

Players names on football jerseys just does not compute. Feeling mucho pain over the NCAA atomic bomb on PSU’s football program, watching games the past couple of years has been tough to do. Am I a loyal PSU alum? Sure. But with superlame trustees, the school has given up on nearly all it stood for over the past five decades. If the trustees don’t care, why should I fight so hard to clear Paterno’s name and values? And why should I be expected to cheer on something a mere shadow of its former self?

The Joe Paterno Empire Strikes Back

The family of late Penn State University football coach, icon, leader, and hero Joe Paterno has struck back at the “investigative” report by former US FBI director Louis Freeh.

Releasing an analysis of Freeh’s report that is similar to one posted on this blog last year (http://joshfirst.com/blog/2012/08/16/the-sandusky-disaster-kids-lose-penn-state-loses-ncaa-loses-theres-still-no-lesson-here/), the Paternos have taken an important step in regaining lost ground.

Lost ground was rapidly created by an uncritical press, willing to serve up maudlin caricatures of what may have happened around convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky, rather than carefully scrutinize the facts and evidence we have in front of us, and then wait for the facts and evidence that we do not have but yet expect to see come out in the upcoming trials of Spanier, Curley, and Shultz.

A rush to judgment has never been so well documented, and then so well defended by a sea of armchair quarterbacks using 20/20 hindsight. Analyzing the comments on internet sites, like Forbes, ESPN, and any other reporting or opinion venue, you’d think that Joe Paterno was the real culprit, and not Sandusky.

Freeh’s report is as bad as a report can get. It is more representative of a Kremlin kangaroo court than the best America has to offer. After a career-start seven-year stint in Washington, DC, spent writing federal policy and law, my take on the Freeh report is that it is outrageously flawed.

Its worst defect is its use of wild conjecture (e.g. relying on hearsay in one email from Tim Curley to Graham Spanier and Gary Shultz about an unnamed “coach”). Nowhere does it say “While key facts are lacking or presently unknown, it is prudent to await casting judgment….” Rather, Freeh’s report is judge, jury, and executioner all at once, and it clearly aimed to destroy one person: Joe Paterno.

Importantly, Freeh’s report exonerated the sitting PSU trustees, most of whom had sat idly by and never challenged Spanier, even when one or two trustees began to ask him hard questions. Were those lazy trustees culpable? Why not?

Most important, Freeh was used by PSU and the NCAA to lower the standards bar, to decrease expectations in college football, rather than to elevate them. By arguing that Joe Paterno was deeply flawed and a hypocrite, Freeh made the classic morally relative argument that we are all pathetic losers, that there are no real heroes, that there are no really good men, and that no one should expect any to show up anytime soon.

Finally, if the PSU trustees fell down on the job and used the Freeh report to cover up their failings, one cannot escape the sense that at least some of the Paterno family members do not grasp the positive way that Joe Paterno is still viewed by many of us Nittany Nation members.

Last year, while communicating with one of the Paterno kids, I was struck by his inability or unwillingness to recognize the breadth of Joe’s legacy. That is, if Joe Paterno left a legacy, then it is beyond the family to solely claim, because it is carried by his believers. Joe’s legacy belongs to all of us, because he was representative of all of our values, hopes, and expectations, and our support is not about the family, but about the symbol that was Joe Paterno.

To that end, wouldn’t it be refreshing to see the family rally the troops, rather than look so deeply inward. Casting the Freeh report as a culture war attack on rare core values, rather than on a person, would more accurately frame this subject.

Unlike the vast majority of people with an opinion on this subject, I have actually read the Freeh report. It sucks. It is unprofessional. It is unworthy of Louis Freeh’s name, and it is unworthy of Penn State University’s name. It is nearly useless in understanding all of what happened with Jerry Sandusky, and how he continued to molest and rape little boys when some adults around him either suspected or had been told he was a pedophile. Shedding light on 33% of an issue raises more questions than it answers. Truth is not what was sought, but it is what is at stake. Bigger truths, like traditional core values that are under attack everywhere, suffer from this.

So, it is my hope that the Paterno family, and former governor and US Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, will continue their efforts, and also expand them to encompass the bigger picture. Good luck, folks, we are standing with you.