Archive for September, 2009

Indian Wells 2009–Meg Whitman

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Quick administrative note before the main event: I taped a segment for the Dennis Miller radio show that will air tonight around 8:10pm PST on 870 AM in Los Angeles.

Now on to business.

At the 2009 California Republican Party Fall State Convention in Indian Wells, I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Meg Whitman.

Meg Whitman is the Founder and former CEO of eBay. She is currently running for the Republican nomination for Governor of California.

(In a completely irrelevant note, she has one incredibly hot brunette staffer. While some find this irrelevant, they can go read another blog. Anyway, the girl is not a Hebrew, so she is off limits. What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, Meg Whitman.)

As I was saying before I drifted off and interrupted myself, Meg Whitman is running for Governor. While I am publicly officially neutral in the primary race, I came away from hearing her speak quite impressed.

She has a very commanding presence about her. She is tall, elegant, and very dignified. More importantly, she is exceptionally astute to the problems afflicting California. I was expecting standard boilerplate. Then midway through her speech, she started giving the audience a ton of substance. I cannot remember the last time a candidate for political office offered specifics on anything.

I can say with certainty that Meg Whitman is worth giving a listen to.

With that, I present some remarks from Meg Whitman.

“I am proud to have as my campaign chairman former Governor Pete Wilson.”

“In Riverside County, there is 30% unemployment.”

“California spending has increased 80% in the last ten years.”

“California has added 40,000 new government employees since 2004.”

Ms. Whitman then showed a passion that comes with having spent her adult life in the state.

“I refuse to let California fail.”

“I am consistent and principled. People will always know where I stand. I won’t repackage myself.”

“I started a company with 30 people and four million in revenues and built it into a company with 15,000 employees and eight billion in revenues over ten years.”

“I am competent, efficient, focused, and accomplished.”

“Government does not create wealth. Inspired individuals do.”

“I have been inspired by long friendships with Mitt Romney and John McCain.”

Ms. Whitman then turned her remarks to nuts and bolts, and did so in an engaging manner.

“My three priorities will be to create jobs, cut spending, and fix our broken education system.”

“I will create two million private sector jobs by 2015. I will reduce taxes and redundant regulations.”

“I will provide sales tax exemptions for research and development, and for manufacturing firms.”

“Politicians in other states tried to get me to leave California when I ran eBay. As Governor, you can be sure that I will be burning up the phone lines to Colorado, Utah, Texas, Nevada, and beyond to get their businesses to come here.”

“Bureaucrats lack the desire to think things through. Politicians lack the courage.”

“On my first day, I will put a moratorium on new regulations until the economy gets better.”

“The needs of the environment have to be balanced with the needs of people and the economy.”

“I will declare a one year moratorium on AB 32, which provides greenhouse gas requirements. I am not going to repeal it, but the law allows the Governor to place a one year moratorium on it when economic conditions dictate.”

“Liberal environmentalists may not like people or jobs, but California needs both.”

“The problem is not revenue. Our addiction is spending.”

“For those interested in being popular and getting reelected, becoming California Governor is not a good fit.”

“I will reduce the state work force by 40,000 people. This will save three billion dollars, and take us back to 2004-2005 levels.”

“Right now every state worker gets an automatic annual pay increase. This cannot continue.”

“We need to apply the same passion and drive toward fixing education that we have done with winning wars and sending a man to the moon. We cannot lose our ability to innovate. We need the next eBay, Google, Genentech, and Amgen.”

“We need more charter schools. We need to make California schools number one by the next decade.”

Ms. Whitman has a deep love for California. Her husband is a neurosurgeon, and she beams with pride at her two sons, one of whom “has a job and pays his own rent.”

California was once the Golden state. I have built my life here. I love it here. I want this place t succeed and be functional again. It needs less bureaucracy, and must be more hospitable to business.

Given that Ms. Whitman is from the Bay Area, I did not ask her if she was willing to put San Francisco on eBay. (I am sure somebody in Boston or Seattle would overbid on it.)

I am sure she has her own creative ideas for this state.

The problems run deep, but Ms. Whitman has the business acumen.

Hear her out. I am glad I did.


California Republicans Party–Indian Wells 2009

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

This past weekend I attended the California Republican Party State Convention in Indian Wells, California. Indian Wells is somewhere Past Palm Springs, unless one is driving from the other direction, at which point it is past something else.

I had so much fun this weekend that I needed to fast for 24 hours on Monday just to cleanse my system. Of course, that may be more because of Yom Kippur.

What makes state conventions so enjoyable is that virtually every organization is represented. The Republican Women’s Federated, Young Republicans, College Republicans, Log Cabin Republicans, the California Republican Assembly, and virtually every other right of center group desiring low taxes and dead terrorists showed up.

The highlight for me was that I had the honor of being on a panel about politics and media with my friend Larry Greenfield of the Claremont Institute.

It was well received by several ladies of the Republican Women’s Federated, who basically represent most of the only opinions in my existence that matter.

(Sorry guys, but there is nothing like spending time with lovely Republican Women.)

Another panel featured Andrew Breitbart, Evan Sayet, and Tom Del Beccaro.

Andrew Breitbart is the brains behind Big Hollywood, but right now he has a not so cold war going on with ACORN. They have decided to sue him because they are corrupt, and he has the audacity to help expose that corruption.

Evan Sayet has been doing his Right to Laugh series of conservative comedy in the Los Angeles area, and now he is going nationwide with upcoming appearances in new York.

Tom Del Beccaro is the Vice Chair of the California Republican Party, and appears to be headed for the top job at some point. He is also the author of the “New Conservative Paradigm,” which has been praised by Mona Charen.

Gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner, and Tom Campbell were all in attendance. I had the chance to meet all three of them, and listen to Ms. Whitman speak at a luncheon featuring Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard. I am officially neutral in the race, but leaning toward one of them.

With regards to the Senate race to fire Barbara Boxer, Chuck DeVore was in attendance. I have met him many times, and been an undercard at more than one of his events. He and his wife Diane are fabulous. Chuck DeVore is not just a good conservative. He is also a very likable individual that is very good with the new technology.

(Ms. Whitman invented some of it as the CEO of Ebay, but Chuck has taken it to a new level.)

People representing Carly Fiorina were in attendance, but Ms. Fiorina was not there herself. I have no more to say about that since I would rather cover people that were there.

Pete Kesterson and Dana Walsh were in attendance. He is running for Congress against Jane Harman while she is running for Congress against the Pelosiraptor.

Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana spoke at a dinner. I had the honor of hearing him speak at the National Young Republican Convention in Indianapolis. He lit the place up, and it was nice seeing him again. Congressman Buck McKeon was in attendance as well.

One particular person that I was thrilled and honored to meet was former California Governor Pete Wilson. I came to California in 1990, and was proud to watch him defeat Dianne Feinstein by a razor thin 51-49%. I told him that I remain a Pete Wilson Republican 20 years later. I look forward to interviewing him soon, and still think I picked the right primary candidate for the 1996 Presidential race. Had he not had throat surgery, he may have become President.

In a bizarre personal twist, I met my girlfriend at the last convention, and we broke up as soon as this one ended. I guess things do come full circle. It would have been nice to have broken up before attending a conference with gorgeous Republican women, but life does not work that way. It is not easy to get hundreds of GOP women in the same room. I know they do not come to my home for dinner.

Anyway, In the coming days I will have more regarding the convention, but for now I wish to link to many of the various new friends I made.

Three people in particular that made this a great weekend were Greg Poulos, Thaddeus Taylor, and Don Genhart.

Greg Poulos runs the Contra Costa GOP. Thaddeus Taylor, who in an irrelevant fact that amuses only me looks like actor Jeffrey Tambor, runs the Inyo County GOP. I know nothing about Inyo, but if Thaddeus is there, count me in.

Don Genhart is a guy who runs a pet service among other things. He also was one of the major forces behind the Log Cabin Republicans 30 years ago. More importantly, the man dresses in ways that I can’t get away with. Miami Vice style suit jackets are no problem for this guy. One night is what Pink, then purple, and finally, something that is either teal, turquoise, aquamarine, or something that I used to call a shade of light bright sky blue.

Personally I do not think it is fair that only gay men get to dress that way. I love the ladies, but would wear any of those suits if I was not in finance. I can’t pull it off. All hail Don Genhardt.

Matt Robbins, a political director for the party, is another guy that has been great to me. With guys like him, it is no surprise that the party is improving.

Paul Mize does his part for the troops.

At the last convention in February people were dispirited. At this convention the energy was palpable. Republicans are energized.

The next state convention is in 2010 in Sacramento. I am already getting ready.


Yom Kippur–The Sacramento Queen and I Broke Up

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Today is Yom Kippur.

Here are the briefest of pre-written thoughts.

1) The man I am is far from the man I need to be. Some days I worry the gulf is widening.

2) I hope I am doing what is right, and fixing what is wrong.

3) I wish God to bless his children the Jewish people on this holiest of holy days, and also to bless all the children of the world.

4) I am glad the NFL moved the Jets game. I know this is not a Jewish nation, but it was a very respectful gesture.

5) The Sacramento Queen and I broke up. There were no villains. I wish her well.

6) I worry about my family, and wonder what will become of us all. Things were simpler when my grandparents were alive.

7) Politics will return tomorrow. Today, as I fasted for 24 hours and tried to cleanse my system and my soul, I simply pray for all humankind to have peace, love, and tranquility.

God bless you all.


NFL 2009–Week 3 Recap

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Tonight begins Yom Kippur, but until sundown, today is about football. For those Jewish people watching football, make sure you are done eating by halftime of the night game. After gorging all day during the games, fasting for 24 hours should be less difficult. We can eat again around halftime of the Monday night game.

Check with a Rabbi for the exact times since the NFL time is an estimate.

Now for football, specifically the Week 3 NFL Recap.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Philadelphia Eagles–Michael Vick returned to regular season professional football for the first time since 2006. Yet with Donovan McNabb injured, Kevin Kolb started, with Vick lining up in various positions including wide receiver. LaShain McCoy ran well on the ground out of the Wildcat.

A poor punt had the Eagles starting at the Kansas City 48. McCoy took a wildcat snap up the middle for a 5 yard touchdown to put the Eagles up 7-0.

Kolb hit Deshean Jackson for a 43 yard pass early on to set up one score, and on a 64 yard pass up the middle where he split the defenders for a touchdown. The 43 yarder led to a 1 yard Kolb run up the middle to put the Eagles up 14-0. In the second quarter, the Eagles had a 4th and 1 at the Kansas City 44. Kolb fired incomplete, and Matt Cassel finally got the Chiefs on the move. A 13 yard touchdown pass to Bradley hadthe Chiefs within 14-7. That lasted one play, when Kolb threw the deep connection to Jackson. One play and the Eagles led 21-7 early on and rolled.A 14 play, 6 minute drive led to a David Akers field goal to put the Eagles up 24-7 at intermission.

The Eagles added a field goal in the third quarter, and Kolb connected with Brent Celek on a 35 yard touchdown to extend the blowout at 34-7. Give plenty of credit to Andy Reid, who has plenty of large egos, and is balancing them well. The Eagles are 3-0, and looking solid. Yet Kansas City is awful, but the Eagles won big. 34-14 Eagles

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens–This was a case of a very bad team on the road against a very good team. Brady Quinn was given the starting job over Derek Anderson, and while it is still early, there may be some grumbling. This is not totally fair to Quinn, since the entire team is a mess. As for the Ravens, while Ray Lewis and the defense still lead the team, Joe Flacco is a leader and not just a placeholder. He threw for 342 yards on the day.

Quinn threw an interception 3 minutes into the game that had Baltimore starting at the Cleveland 31. The Ravens were expected to win easy and they did. Willis McGahee ran for a pair of touchdowns, the first a 7 yarder after the turnover to put Baltimore up 7-0. After a Cleveland punt, Flacco led a 12 play, 6 minute drive from the Baltimore 14 to the Cleveland 18, leading to a field goal and a 10-0 Baltimore lead. In the second quarter Flacco led a staggering 16 play, 7 1/2 minute drive from the Baltimore 3 to the Cleveland 5. Again it only produced a field goal, but the Ravens led 13-0. Another Cleveland punt led Flacco to lead an 80 yard drive culminating in McGahee second score, a 15 yard run to put the Ravens up 20-0.

With the Ravens up 20-0 in the third quarter, Quinn was Benched, but Anderson came in and threw 3 interceptions, in addition to an early one by Quinn. One of the interceptions set up a 34 yard run by McGahee which led to a 9 yard touchdown run by Rice. In the fourth quarter, Flacco went deep to Derrick Mason for a 72 yard touchdown pass to end the scoring. 34-3 Ravens

New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers–This was another case of a good team playing a bad team, with no surprises. Byron Leftwich was 7 for 16 for only 22…yes 22…yard passing the entire game. The Buccaneers had only 5 first downs and 86 total yards all day. The Giants simply played New York Giants football, which was hard running and tenacious defense. They began with a 12 play, 7 minute, 80 yard drive that featured a healthy dose of battering ram Brandon Jacobs. He took it in from 6 yards out as the Giants led 7-0 after one and 14-0 at the break. The second score was a 7 yard Jacobs run set up by a 38 yard run by Ahmad Bradshaw, who also had a 14 yarder on the opening scoring drive.The score would have been even wider had a 17 minute drive late in the half not been wasted when Jacobs was stopped on 3rd and 1 form the 2 and Tynes missed a 21 yard field goal. It did not matter.

The Giants began the second half with a 12 play, 7 1/2 minute drive. This time Tynes connected from short range to make it 17-0. A 12 play, 6 1/2 minute drive in the fourth quarter led to Eli Manning throwing an 18 yard touchdown pass to Moss. It was remarkable only in that Manning actually had to throw the ball at all as the running game gashed Tampa Bay. After the game it was announced that Leftwich would be benched next week in favor of Josh Johnson, who has never started. Leftwich was awful, but Big Blue just dominated on defense to get to 3-0 in convincing fashion. 24-0 Giants

Atlanta Falcons @ New England Patriots–Atlanta and Matt Ryan are up and coming, but Tom Brady and New England have done this forever. Both teams led long drives that bogged down inside the 10 yard line, as the exchange of field goals had the game tied 3-3 after the opening quarter The Falcons 12 plays and 5 1/2 minutes was matched by New England going 15 plays and 8 1/2 minutes, but neither team reached the end zone.

The second quarter featured New England starting a drive just shy of midfield. Brady hit Randy Moss for 10 yards, but old reliable Fred Taylor did the rest with gains of 8, 19, 6, and finally 8 yards to put the Patriots up 10-3. A strong kickoff return had the Falcons starting at their own 41. Ryan hit Jenkins for 18 yards. On 4th and 3 from the New England 34, Mike Smith decided to gamble. Matt Ryan hit White for 7 yards to keep the drive going. A 21 yard completion to Jenkins set up Michael Turner from 2 yards out, and the game was deadlocked 10-10.  New England punted, but a fumble by Michael Turner with 4 minutes left in the half led to a drive and a field goal that had the Patriots up 13-10 at the break.

The Patriots struggled most of the day in the red zone, while the Falcons went nowhere in the second half. New England took the second half kickoff and went 79 yards in 13 plays over 6 minutes, bogging down at the 4 yard line. Another field goal had the Patriots up 16-10. Atlanta moved the ball, but on 4th and 5 from the New England 38, they punted rather than try the 55 yard field goal. New England took over at their own 15, and Brady led a 16 play drive that may have featured the gamble of the year.

On 4th and 1 from their own 24, Bill Bellichick decided to go for it. Morris picked up 2 yards up the middle, as the tabloids missed a chance to crucify the call. On 4th and 3 from the Atlanta 37, Brady hit Moss for 21 yards. Again the drive bogged down in the Red Zone, but another field goal had the Patriots leading 19-10 going into the final quarter.

The Patriots finally iced the game midway through it with a 36 yard touchdown pass by Brady to complete the scoring. The Falcons are growing, and the Patriots are not ready to decline. 26-10 Patriots

Tennessee Titans @ New York Jets–For those who thought this was a game between the Houston Oilers and the New York Titans, blame the retro uniforms. Bum Phillips was not on the sidelines. As shocking as it is that the Jets are 2-0, the Titans being 0-2 is more shocking. Yet the real storyline is that Mark Sanchez is no typical rookie. He is the real deal. As for the Titans, they are uncharacteristically undisciplined for a Jeff Fisher team.

Sanchez showed real veteran presence early on. While apparently stopped at the one yard line, Sanchez stretched the ball over the goal line while getting belted. His 14 yard scramble had the Jets up 7-0. Yes some reporters want to put Sanchez in the Hall of Fame after 3 games, but this kid is very good, and levelheaded. Tennesee then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Jets took over at the Tennessee 19. Sanchez hit Hartsock for the 2 yard score to quickly make it 14-0 Jets. Yet Tennessee fought back.

The Jets were in complete control when they faced 3rd and 8 from the Tennessee 36, Sanchez was then sacked and fumbled, as Tennessee took over at their own 45. Chris Johnson ripped off a 20 yard gain, and Kerry Collins hit Nate Washington for 16 yards. Lendale White ran it in from 5 yards out to get the Titans to within 14-7. With 1:54 left in the half, Collins took the Titans from their own 20 to the New York 20 in 12 plays. Rob Bironas kicked a 38 yard field goal to make it a 14-10 game at intermission.

Jay Feeley kicked the second half kickoff out of bounds, and the Titans took over at their own 40. On 3rd and 9, Collins hit Britt and Alge Crumpler for a pair of 27 yard gains. When Collins tossed a 9 yard touchdown pass to Washington to complete the drive, the Titans led 17-14. However, his final 13 passes were incomplete as Tennessee ran out of gasand into a Gang Green defense with an attitude.

Neither team moved the ball, but with 7 minutes remaining, Tennessee fumbled another kick, this time a punt. The Jets took over at the Tennessee 23. Sanchez found Jerricho Cotcherry for 6 yards for the go ahead score at 21-17 with 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The field position battle favored the Jets, and they took over at their own 40 with 13 1/2 minutes left in the game. Sanchez quickly found Cotcherry for a 46 yard gain to set up a field goal. The Titans only trailed by 7 points with 5 minutes to play, but Kerry Collins was harassed all game. He was intercepted with just over 4 minutes left, and beaten up when the Titans had one more chance. Rex Ryan is using Sanchez perfectly, and Sanchez is the first rookie quarterback since the 1970 merger to go 3-0. Next week the team faces red hot New Orleans. As for the Titans, they were 13-3 last year, and are now 0-3 this year. 24-17 Jets

Green Bay Packers @ St. Louis Rams–This was a great series when it was Brett Favre against Kurt Warner. Aaron Rodgers against Marc Bulger is less scintillating, although neither of them are stiffs. Yet Rodgers against Kyle Boller is not so interesting, and when Bulger got injured in the first quarter, that is what this game brought us. The Rams actually had the first scoring chance, but a 48 yard field goal attempt was blocked.That led to Mason Crosby trying from 48 yards out, and he connected to put Green Bay up 3-0. Bulger then fumbled, Green Bay took over at the Rams 15, lost 5 yards, and kicked another field goal to lead 6-0. Bulger was injured on the next play from scrimmage when Stephen Jackson fumbled, Green Bay took over at the St. Louis 12, went nowhere, and kicked a third field goal to lead 9-0.

Yes, the Packers led, but their offense was almost as pathetic as the Rams. The Packers finally got going offensively in the second quarter, and a 46 yard pass from Rodgers to Donald Driver set up a 1 yard run by Kuhns that had Green Bay leading 16-0. Boller then finally got the Rams on the board, leading a 10 play, 5 minute, 78 yard drive that ended in a 16 yard touchdown pass to Fells to make it 16-7 with 5 minutes left in the half.

Green Bay took over at their own 11, and Rodgers began slicing and dicing the Rams. He hit Driver for 15 yards, and on 3rd and 7 went deep to Greg Jennings for a 50 yard gain. On the next play Bulger hit Driver for the 21 yard touchdown pass to put the Packers up 23-7. WIth only 1:47 left in the half, Boller ran the 2 minute drill to perfection. From the Rams 16, he hit Burton for gains of 16 and 14yards followed by a 10 yard scramble himself. Jackson picked up 12 more, and on 3rd and 10, Boller scrambled for another 13. Boller then hit Fells for the 19 yard touchdown with 2 seconds left to get the Rams to within 23-14 at intermission.

A 53 yard field goal on their first third quarter drive pulled the Rams to within 23-17 after a 12 play, 5 1/2 minute drive, but they got no closer.  On the first play of the fourth quarter, Rodgers hit Jennings for a 53 yard gain. Rodgers then scrambled for 12 yards and then took it in himself from 5 yards out up the middle to ice the game at 29-17. An interception by Charles Woodson at the Rams 26 set up one final score.The Rams have lost 13 straight going back to last year. They no longer can hide behind Detroit. They may be the worst this year so far. The Packers were highly touted during the regular season, and beating the hapless Rams does not erase last week’s debacle. Nevertheless, a win is just that. 36-17 Packers

San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings–This lived up to its billing as a thriller. Frank Gore got injured early, and Adrian Peterson shined. Favre added to his legend. Those wanting him to stay retired can now shut up. A 30 yard touchdown pass by Favre had the Vikings up 7-0. A field position battle in the second quarter followed by a poor punt had Minnesota starting at the San Francisco 34. This led to a field goal and a 10-0 Vikings lead. San Francisco came back, and on 4th and 1 from the Minnesota 36, a deep pass resulted in defensive pass interference at the 5 yard line. Shawn Hill hit Vernon Davis for the score as the Vikings led was cut to 10-7.

With just over 6 minutes in the half, an interception of Hill had Minnesota at their own 27, and Favre went to work. The 49ers defense self destructed with a pair of 15 yard penalties, one for unnecessary roughness and one for taunting. The 30 yard gift led to a field goal. With 1:53 left in the half, Favre moved Minnesota from their own 20 to the San Francisco 26. Then all hell broke loose.

On the last play of the half, with the Vikings leading 13-7, a field goal attempt by Ryan Longwell would have put them up by 9. Instead it was blocked and returned 69 yards for a score by Nate Clements in front of a shocked Minnesota crowd to put the 49ers up 14-13 at halftime.

Early In the third quarter, an interception of Favre led to a field goal that had the 49ers up 17-13. Unfortunately, they then had to kickoff to emerging Minnesota star Percy Harvin. The wide receiver returned the kickoff 101 yards to put the Vikings up 20-17. He has only played 3 games, and has a spectacular touchdown in each one.

With 13 minutes left in the game, Shawn Hill Hit Vernon Davis for a 31 yard pass, followed by a 28 yarder to Isaac Bruce. Hill then found Davis for the 20 yard touchdown as the 49ers led 24-20 with 8 minutes left.

Unfortunately for the 49ers,  over the last decade and a half they have lost many games to Favre when he was a Cheesehead. He is now in Purple, but just as gifted as ever. With 1:55 left, Favre threw incomplete on 4th and 5 from the San Francisco 47. Yet the 49ers ran only 26 seconds off of the clock as the Vikings took over again at their own 20. Some may Singletary was too conservative, but he can’t make blockers block and runners run.

Favre hit short passes to Shiancoe, Rice, and Harvin to set up the final play, a 3rd and 3 from the San Francisco 32. With 12 seconds left, from the San Francisco 32 yard line, Favre scrambled, avoided a tackler, and fired a perfect pass just before being hit to the back of the end zone. Greg Lewis made a spectacular catch and got both feet in bounds with two seconds remaining. Watch the play oiver and over again, and remember that forcing our best into premature retirement is due to our own inability to understand that wisdom comes with age. As for Favre, he simply did it again.

Despite no Frank Gore and an 0 for 11 performance on 3rd downs, the 49ers are a much improved team under Mike Singletary, and were a miracle away from 3-0. Yet the king of miracles did it again, and the 3-0 team is in Minnesota. 27-24 Vikings

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans–The Texans are much improved and the Jaguars are struggling. Yet this turned out to be an exciting game with several lead changes. A 52 yard field goal by Josh Scobee midway through the opening quarter put the Jaguars up 3-0. Later in the quarter, a punt had Houston taking over at the Jacksonville 44. Matt Schaub hit Walter for 24 yards and then Slaton for the 18 yard touchdown to put the Texans up 7-3.

In the second quarter, David Garrard scrambled from 2 yards out to complete a 10 play drive and give the Jaguars a 10-7 lead. Schaub came right back and had the Texans up 14-10 with a 9 yard toss to Walters with 5 1/2 minutes in the half still to go. These offenses were just getting warmed up. Maurice Jones-Drew quickly rambled 61 yards to put the Jaguars up 17-14. The Texans did lead 21-17 at the break when Schaub hit Daniels for a 2 yard touchdown with 19 seconds left to cap off a 66 yard drive.

To start the third quarter, Garrard led the Jaguars 83 yards. Jones-Drew scored again, this time from one yard out, to put the Jaguars back on top. The drive featured a pair of 3rd down conversions, including a 28 yard pass to Sims-Walker on 3rd and 10 from just past midfield.Schaub came right back, leading a 12 play, 6 minute drive that went from the Houston 18 to a 4th and 1 at the Jacksonville 8. Gary Kubiak decided not to gamble, and the field goal deadlocked the game.

With the game tied 24-24 early in the fourth quarter, Jacksonville took over at their own 13. Jones-Drew ran for 11 yards and  Garrard hit Torry Holt for 27 more. Thomas ran for 13 more, and Jones-Drew ran for 4 yards on 4th and 1 from the 12. Jones-Drew then barreled in from 8 yards out for his third touchdown of the day to put the Jaguars up again only 40 seconds into the final quarter.

Jacksonville fumbled the ball away with under 5 minutes remaining, and the Texans had the ball at midfield. Schaub hit Walters for 18 yards, and Slaton ran for 20 more. Matt Schaub was 26 of 35 for 3 touchdowns, but he thought he had a fourth one. Instead, on 1st and goal from the one, offensive pass interference nullified the tying score. Then trying to run it in, the Texans fumbled at the goal line. An offensive shootout ended with defense and a turnover.  Both teams are 1-2, as Houston has won on the road but lost twice at home. 31-24 Jaguars

Washington Redskins @ Detroit Lions–Yes the Lions had lost 19 straight games, but this is a new season. The Lions were only 0-2, and both losses were to undefeated and very good teams. The Lions are simply not that awful this year. Matthew Stafford was not part of the losing culture, and neither was coach Jim Schwartz.

The Redskins failed to convert a 4th and goal at the one early on when Clinton Portis went nowhere. A key play in a scoreless game occurred when the Lions failed to convert a 3rd and 3 from the Washington 34. A penalty on Detroit should have been declined to make 4th and 3, which would have set up a 51 yard field goal. Jim Zorn accepted the penalty. Yes it pushed Detroit out of field goal range, and was most likely a good coaching decision. Yet it gave the Lions another chance, and on 3rd and 13, Stafford ran for 15 yards. This set up a 21 yard touchdown from Stafford to Bryant Johnson to give the Lions a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Detroit took over after a punt at their own 6. Stafford led a long drive that reached the Washington 14. Detroit settled for a field goal and a 10-0 lead. Another Washington punt again had the Lions starting at their own 6, and again Stafford drove most of the field, reaching the Washington 8 in a ridiculous 18 play drive over 7 minutes. The Lions kicked a field goal and actually led 13-0.

In the second half, the Redskins needed less than 2 minutes to close the gap to 13-7 when Jason Campbell hit Santana Moss on a 57 yard touchdown pass.Both offenses then went to sleep, and the Lions avoided disaster by recovering their own fumble at their own 10 yard line. With 9 minutes remainign in the game, the Lions took over at their own 15. Stafford showed veteran poise.

On 3rd and 1 from the 24, Stafford hit Calvin Johnson for 9 yards and then again for 18 yards to the Washington 48. A deep pass led to a defensive pass interference call. When the Lions scored a 2 yard touchdown on the ground with Maurice Morris, they led 19-7 with under 6 minutes remaining. Yet they did not make it easy. Changing a losing culture is never easy.

From the Washington 28, Campbell hit Moss for 21 yards, Antwon Randle-El for 15 yards, and finally 4 yards to Cartwright. The Redskins made it a 5 point game with 2 1/2 minutes left, and got the ball back at their own 22 with 1:05 left. With 8 seconds left, the Redskins faced 4th and 10 from the Detroit 36.

Yet for some inexplicable reason, Jason Campbell did not throw a Hail Mary on the last play as the Redskins opted for a hook and lateral play. They actually made the first down. There was enough time to run out of bounds, but for another inexplicable reason, the ball carrier stayed inbounds. As the announcer said, “Game over. Losing streak over. Nightmare over.”

Yes, the Lions responded to this win with popping champagne corks in the locker room. Yet while many will look at this as the ending of a 19 game losing streak, others should see that this team is 1-2. That is not awful. They will slowly improve. As for the Redskins, they are headed in the wrong direction. 19-14 Lions

Chicago Bears @ Seattle Seahawks–The Walrus is still retired and the Hasselbeck is still injured. Seneca Wallace did throw a 39 yard touchdown pass to Julius Jones, as Seattle led 7-0 early on.Cutelr led the Bears from their own 21 to the Seattle 17 before being intercepted. Wallace took over and led Seattle to the Chicago 28, where a field goal made it 10-0 Seahawks. In the second quarter, a poor Chicago punt had Seattle set up at the Bears 47. On 3rd and 10, Wallace hit Nate Burleson for a 20 yard gain, setting up another field goal and a 13-0 Seahawks lead.

With 7 minutes left in the half, Cutler and the Bears took over at their own 34. Cutler methoidaclly moved the team, and with 2 minutes left in the half, 3rd and goal at the one went nowhere. On 4th and goal Lovie Smith went for it, and Cutler threw a touchdown pass to get the Bears within 13-7 at the break.

At the start of the second half, TJ Houshmanzadeh fumbled, and the Bears took over at the Seattle 42. Cutler hit Devon Hester for 22 yards and then threw a 7 yard touchdown toss to Johnny Knox to put the Bear up 14-13. Midway through the period Wallace was intercepted by Lance Briggs at the Seattle 14. The Seattle defense sent Chicago backwards, and the Bears settled for a field goal to lead 17-13. Wallace then led a 13 play, 6 minute drive from the Seattle 20 to the Chicago 21 before Seattle had to kick a field goal of their own to pull within 17-16 only seconds into the final quarter.

With 8 minutes remaining, Cutler was sacked and fumbled, and it was Seattle that began at the Chicago 39. Seattle picked up one first down before the Bears clamped down. Olindo Mare hit a 46 yard field goal to put the Seahawks back on top 19-17 with 5 minutes left. The Bears took over at their own 29. Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson moved the ball to the Seattle 36. Cutler then went deep and fired the touchdown toss to Hester. A 2 point conversion pass to Bennett was successful, as the Bears were back up by 6 with 1:52 left.

On 3rd and 2 from the 28, Julius Jones picked up 20 yards. On 4th and 1 from the Chicago 43, Wallace hit Owens for 6 yards. Yet on 4th and 2 from the Chicago 29, with 30 second left, Seattle failed to convert. Chicago had survived this topsy-turvy game. 25-19 Bears

New Orleans @ Buffalo Bills–Dick Jauron remains employed, but playing a Saints team that put up 93 points in 2 weeks does not help matters. Brees immediately led the Saints 82 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes, with a one yard Hamilton run putting the Saints up 7-0. Seconds into the second quarter the Bills executed a perfect fake field goal with a 25 yard touchdown pass by punter Moorman to tie the game 7-7 on the second play of the second quarter.

With 6 minutes left in the half, a Buffalo fumble set up New Orleans at the Buffalo 32. Hamilton picked up 16 yards, and the Saints kicked a field goal and  took a 10-7 lead at halftime. A scoreless third quarter was [art of a game where Brees did not throw a touchdown pass, as the Saints only led 10-7 entering the fourth quarter.Buffalo missed a chance to tie the game late in the third quarter when a Trent Edwards was intercepted on 3rd and 3 from the New Orleans 27.

Yet while Drew Brees did not throw another 10 touchdown passes, Pierre Thomas ran wild late in the game. A 34 yard touchdown run by Thomas gave the Saints breathing room at 17-7 with 10 minutes left. After a Buffalo punt, Brees led the Saints form their own 34 to the Buffalo 13. A facemask penalty against the Bills began the drive, and a field goal ended it as the Saints led 20-7 with 3 1/2 minutes left.

Buffalo turned it over on downs deep in their own territory, and a 19 yard touchdown by Thomas with 2 minutes left padded the score. The Bills hung tough, but were overmatched. Terrell Owens had his streak of 185 games with a catch snapped, as the Saints remain unbeaten. 27-7 Saints

Miami Dolphins @ San Diego Chargers–This game featured a pair of overrated teams. Miami had the ball last week for 45 minutes and lost. This week the Dolphins began with a 17 play, 9 minute drive that ended with a fumble for a touchback. The game was 3-3 at halftime. For some reason the second half was played.

Pennington was injured 4 minutes into the 3rd quarter. Chad Henne came in and led Miami to a field goal to lead 6-3. Then the Chargers finally got going. With 2 minutes left in the third quarter, Philip Rivers hit Floyd for a 47 yard gain. Rivers then ran 5 yards up the middle to put San Diego up 10-6 after three quarters.

After a Miami punt, Rivers hit Vincent Jackson for a 55 yard gain to set up a field goal that had San Diego up 13-6. After a bad Miami punt, San Diego started past midfield.  With 7 minutes remaining, a short field goal had the Chargers up 16-6. With 6 minutes remaining, Henne was intercepted by Eric Weddle, who raced 31 yards for a score to put the Chargers up 23-6. Norvelous Norv Turner has the Chargers up 2-1, meaning that he will keep his job this week. The Dolphins went from 11-5 last year to an 0-3 start this year. Bill Parcells usually sees his teams rapidly improve, take a big step backwards, and then get better again. 23-13 Chargers

Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders– For more on the game of the day, go to Just Blog Baby.

With 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Broncos had 4th and goal at the one. The Silver and Black had a brilliant goal line stand. Unfortunately, the offense gave it right back. Yes, Jim Plunkett hit Cliff Branch for 99 yards back in 1983, but that team was good. JaMarcus Russell went deep for Darrius Heyward-Bey, who fell down, resulting in an interception. Kyle Orton led the Broncos 23 yards to put Denver up 7-0. Another Russell interception led to a field goal and a 10-0 Denver lead. The Broncos led 13-3 at the half.

Denver coasted in the second half. Orton is often referred to as a game manager, but he wins football games by not making mistakes. As for Russell, yes he has two rookie receivers, but he makes too many mistakes. Even Darren McFadden, who is shaping up to be all world, contributed to the debacle today by fumbling inside the Denver 10 to kill a potential scoring drive. Denver is 3-0, but has beaten up on bad teams. Sadly, the Raiders are one of them. 23-3 Broncos

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals–Yes Cincinnati beat Green Bay on the road last week, but surely the defending champs would beat them up. That is why they play the games.

Pittsburgh began their first drive on their own 20, and 11 plays and 7 minutes later, were facing 4th and goal at the Cincy one. Mike Tomlin decided not to gamble on the road, and the field goal had the Steelers up 3-0. On the next Pittsburgh drive, Roethlisberger hit Willie Parker for a 27 yard sideline touchdown pass to put the Steelers up 10-0. Pittsburgh tacked on a field goal to lead 13-0. On the next Pittsburgh drive, they failed to convert on 4th and 4 from the Bengals 35, eschewing the field goal and turning it over on downs. They were dominating, but the game was close on the scoreboard. Cincinnati finally cracked the scoreboard with a field goal, but Pittsburgh led 13-3 at the half.The second half was a new game.

Early in the third quarter Big Ben was intercepted, resulting in a 30 yard touchdown by Joseph. The Bengals missed the extra point, trailing 13-9. Roethlisberger came back on the next Steelers drive and threw a perfect deep pass to Limas Sweed, who dropped it in the end zone. A missed 51 yard field goal wasted another scoring opportunity. Late in the third quarter, Big Ben led a 75 yard, 11 play, 7 minute drive that finished with Roethlisberger taking it himself from one yard out. The Steelers led 20-9 after three quarters in a game where the Bengals had done nothing. Seconds into the fourth quarter, the Bengals missed a 52 yard field goal.

Yet the Bengals hung tough. After a Pittsburgh punt, Cedric Benson ran 23 yards for a score. They closed the gap to 20-15 with 9 minutes left. Although the 2 point conversion failed, the Bengals got the ball back, and Carson Palmer led one final drive from the Cincy 29 with a full 5 minutes. With one minute to go, Palmer converted on 4th and 2 from the Pittsburgh 20 with a 5 yard pass to Laverneous Coles. On 4th and 10 from the 15 with 36 seconds left, Palmer hit Leonard for 11 yards. Leonard made a spectacular move to pick up the first down, shedding a tackler and using his arm as leverage to stay upright, followed by a lunge that was just enough. Palmer then threw the 4 yard touchdown pass to Caldwell with 14 seconds left. Marvin Lewis pumped his fists, and Mike Tomlin was gracious in defeat. Yes the Steelers wasted plenty of chances ina  game they owned, but the Bengals showed plenty of heart. 23-20 Bengals

Indianapolis Colts @ Arizona Cardinals was the Sunday night game. This was expected to be aerial show between Peyton manning and Kurt Warner, but only one team showed up. It was not the Greatest SHow in the Desert. The Cardinals did lead 3-0 after the first quarter, and were going in for another score when Tim Hightower fumbled inside the 10 yard line to end the drive.

Manning then exploded. He ended the day with 379 yard passing and 4 touchdown passes. 3 of them came in the first half to lead 21-3. The Cardinals managed to reach the one yard line again before Warner was intercepted in the end zone off of a deflected pass. The Cardinals did get in the end zone just before the half to make it 21-10, but the Colts clamped down in the second half.

The Colts tacked on another touchdown and a field goal to get to 3-0 as the Cardinals fell to 1-2. 31-10 Colts.

Carolina Panthers @ Dallas Cowboys was the Monday night game. While Jews were starving from fasting, both offenses played like malnourished athletes needing a meal. A missed Dallas field goal was the highlight of an awful first half that was deadlocked 0-0 after 28 minutes. Yet while Tony Romo and Jake Delhomme had a tough opening half, Delhomme got going in the final 2 minutes. A pair of 25 yard passes to Donte Rosario put the Panthers up 7-0 with one minute left in the half.

The second half began with a Carolina punt and Dallas working with the ball just shy of midfield. Felix Jones ripped off a 40 yard gain, and Tashard Choice appeared to have just reached the pylon before a successful challenge by John Fox put the ball back to the one. A 3rd and goal run failed, and on 4th and goal from the one, Wade Phillips decided to go for it. However, a false start penalty killed the play, and on 4th and goal from the 6, a field goal cut the Panthers lead to 7-3. Another Carolina punt again gave Dallas excellent field position at their own 42. Tashard Choice ran it in from 10 yards out to put the Cowboys up 10-7 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter.

Late in the third quarter, a 79 yard touchdown pass from Jake Delhomme to Muhsin Muhammad was called back due to offensive pass interference. The Panthers punted again, and Dallas again moved the ball. Yet again they bogged down deep, as Wade Phillips called a pair of consecutive passing plays from the 2 yard line that went nowhere. A field goal with 12 minutes left in the game put the Cowboys up 13-7. What little suspense existed evaporated when Terrence Newman intercepted Delhomme and raced 25 yards for the knockout blow with 5 minutes remaining. Choice ran in the 2 point conversion. Dallas improved to 2-1, and one year after being 12-4, Carolina is a head scratching 0-3.  This team has not been the same since their playoff debacle last year. 21-7 Cowboys


Slamathon Saturday

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Before getting to the Week 3 NFL Predictions, I want to announce to the world that as of a couple weeks ago, I became a football champion.

Thank you Slamathon.

On September 10th, 2001, I gave a speech in Oakland. By sheer coincidence the next day I ended up at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum. The stadium was right near my hotel. I took a walk, and just ended up there. I walked all around the stadium, and somehow, through several flukes and misadventures, I ended up inside the stadium in the front row, 50 yard line.

I have been 50 yard line, front row before, with my 68,000 closest friends cheering on the Raiders. However, this time it was just me in an empty stadium. I had a feeling I was not supposed to be there. I also worried that if I could crack the defense of the Oakland Coliseum, there is no telling what San Diego would do later that week.

I found a couple groundskeepers and took a bunch of pictures. However, the head groundskeeper was not around, so I could not walk onto the field and stand at the 50 yard line.

It did not matter. I had a whole stadium to myself. On 9/11 of 2009, I felt the power of the silver and black. For a half hour, my thoughts on 9/11 were peaceful. Of course, I then had to leave the stadium, since again, I certainly should not have been there. I caught my 2pm flight back to Los Angeles, and had another sobering 9/11.

Yet on 9/12, I had a challenge that I had never faced before. My football team, Slamathon, the best team in the Planet Social Sports Adult Sports League, was on its way to a championship. I got to be a part of it.

Some may think that winning some intramural championship means nothing. After all, there was no money involved, no endorsements, no television cameras, and no fame. These people know nothing about football. Anybody who thinks that football is about celebrity never saw players crying their eyes out after winning a championship.

I am well aware that Slamathon would have won it all without me. However, to be a part of it was an amazing experience.

I have said over and over that I do not envy pro football players for their money, fame, or other accolades. The one thing I do envy is the right to be in the locker room on a Sunday. I have friends who played high school football, and just being in that locker room before the game is a thrill they will have forever.

On September 12th, I got to be part of that feeling. Yet before the glory came the guts.

Slamathon was a wild card. Our first opponent played us tough early on, and we were only ahead 16-12. Yet this team has some ridiculously good players. A couple of bombs put us up 30-12. Now I am 37 years old, and some of these players are 25. I can’t do what I did at 25. I rushed the passer because it took less energy that playing the deep routes all game.

On the last play of the half, I got to be part of the Greatest Show on Natural Grass. I rushed the passer, but he got the Hail Mary off just before I got to him. The ball was intercepted in our end zone, and Slamathon does not take a knee. They wanted to coast to coast, with a bunch of laterals. Everybody else raced to the other side of the field, but I realized tat I should stay put just in case. Well just in case happened. After 70 yards and several laterals, a teammate spotted me all the way on the other side of the field. I caught the lateral, raced the last 25 yards, and had my only touchdown of the season. We led at the half 36-12, and I got to be part of the Los Angeles version of the Music City Miracle.

We ended up winning the first playoff 60-12. Yet we had more to do.

Our second playoff game was much closer. This team took us to the limit. We kept trying to put them away, and they kept coming back. We again led 16-12, and every time we established a cushion they responded. Yet when I rushed the passer on one play, I batted the ball and intercepted it. Picture a defensive tackle realizing he is holding a football and having no idea what to do next. I would have lateraled it to my teammates, but the desire to not screw this good fortune up led me to go to the ground. Three people closing in on me helped.

With a fellow nicknamed “Scotty Tecate” due to his ability to drink as well as he plays quarterback tossing bombs to a guy named Andrew whose drinking is only matched by his ability to twist his body around and catch bombs, we eventually put the game away 36-26. We were now in the finals.

I kept trying to pressure the quarterback, but I could not get to him. At halftime we only led 14-8, and in the third quarter the game was actually tied 14-14. We went ahead 22-14, but only led 22-20 late.

Yet if there is anything I know, it is that the truly best simply dig deep. Precision passing , tough defense, and some luck had us up 38-20. If I had anything to do with this, I cannot recall.

Yet I did have something to do with how the game ended. I chased the quarterback, and he kept running outside the pocket. After what seemed like several years, I finally caught him, as we both fell to the ground in exhaustion. When I looked up, I saw all my teammates walking away. I could not figure out why. They also had their hands above their heads. I thought it was some sort of prayer. The official told me that I had actually caught the quarterback behind the goal line for a safety.

Who knew? I just knew I needed oxygen, or at least some Gatorade. Yet the game soon ended, and Slamathon had a 40-20 win and a championship.

Again, I had nothing to do with their success before this year. They won three straight years, and thos year was the four-peat. Yet what happened after the game ended will always stay with me.

The lunatics I play with know that football is about fun. They actually brought a kiddie pool to the park. When the game ended, we all ran straight for the pool, dove in, and got soaking wet. Somehow all 15 or so of us fit in this kiddie pool. The pictures were cool. Then we poured the water out on the grass, and made a slip and slide, which I took part in.

As they all drank their beers, and I had my fists pumped in the air, I realized that even though this was not an indoor enclave, I was part of the locker room.

At age 37, I immediately announced my retirement after the game. I am already waffling.

Buddy Ryan once said something very meaningful to his players.

“In football, I guarantee that you will make money. You will get fame. You will make friends that you will have for the rest of your life. Yet a championship ring…you have to earn that.”

I made friends that I will have forever. Yet at age 37, when my body can’t do much more without needing ice afterward, I got to be part of the slip and slide world that is Slamathon.

I not only got to be part of a championship team, but I got to be part of the craziest locker room on Earth.

It is not about money, power, or fame. It is about football.

I am now quasi-retired, rooting for my Raiders on Sundays. Yet on Saturdays, when others are watching college games, I will say that the best team I ever saw on a Saturday were my friends in Slamathon.

When the season starts again, I will get the itch.

My couch will be tempting, but so will the fact that I love football.

Let’s get it on!

(after a much needed offseason rest)

Now for the Week 3 NFL Predictions.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Philadelphia Eagles

(No line, Eagles win)

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens

(Ravens by 13, they cover)

New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(Giants by 7, they win but fail to cover)

Atlanta Falcons @ New England Patriots

(Patriots by 4, they cover)

Tennessee Titans @ New York Jets

(Jets by 2 1/2, Upset special, Titans win outright)

Green Bay Packers @ St. Louis Rams

(Packers by 6 1/2, they win but fail to cover)

San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings

(Vikings by 7, they win but fail to cover)

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans

(Texans by 4, Upset special, Jaguars win outright)
Washington Redskins @ Detroit Lions

(Redskins by 6 1/2, they win but fail to cover)

Chicago Bears @ Seattle Seahawks

(Bears by 1, they cover)

New Orleans @ Buffalo Bills

(Saints by 4 1/2, they cover)

Miami Dolphins @ San Diego Chargers

(Chargers by 6 1/2, they win but fail to cover)

Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders– For more on the game of the day, go to Just Blog Baby.

(Raiders by 2 1/2, they cover)

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals

(Steelers by 4 1/2, they cover)

Indianapolis Colts @ Arizona Cardinals is the Sunday night game.

(Cardinals by 1, Upset special, Colts win outright)

Carolina Panthers @ Dallas Cowboys is the Monday night game.

(Cowboys by 10, they win but fail to cover)


When a Soldier Dies

Friday, September 25th, 2009

At Sean Hannity’s Freedom Concert, I sat next to a very kind woman named Mary Johnson. Her son was PFC Franklin Betts. He died in 1997 while serving in the military. While every death, including every death of a soldier, is tragic, this death is particularly sad since it was totally avoidable. He died not from a stray bullet, but from the flu.

Mary Johnson has lived every parent’s nightmare. Her child predeceased her.

Her story is lengthy, but if one human being benefits from her words, then it will be more than worth the read. Her remarks have not been edited. Interspersed with her story are some poems written by her late son. With that, I present the story of Mary Johnson’s late son PFC Franklin Betts.


When a soldier dies, no one is prepared.  The news comes as a shocking blow and life as we once knew it dies also.  This is the story of how one parent was able to survive the news that her young soldier had died.
When my young soldier, PFC Benjamin Franklin Betts died, I honestly didn’t think I could survive.  How does anyone get through the death of a child.  I desperately needed to know that I could and would.  I frantically searched for information or role models who could show me the way out of the horrific pain I felt over the death of my young son.  What I found was, that there was a way, a path you might say, that could bring me to another day and a future where joy and hope prevailed once again.
My path, through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, is my path.  All paths are unique.  This is a book about my journey along that path.  I share it with you in the hope that it will give you hope, a sort of map, as you travel your path.  It is a journey that is both difficult and lonely but fulfilling and life changing once on the other side.  You CAN get THROUGH this and you CAN make it to the other side of your valley.
May God bless you and keep you in his loving arms through your journey.  I know that He will if you will just ask.  Ask him now and know that He hears you and will answer your prayer.

Capable Hands
PFC Benjamin Franklin Betts

Oh no something happened again
Deep inside you wish the world would end
You turn your back on all you know
To let your tears flow
There’s a secret that’s centuries old
It’s a secret that’s been told and told
God has a plan, one you may not understand
You may not see it now
Like standing on a mountain looking across valleys unseen
A path to point unknown

Creating the world is easy to understand
But the trials of your life, you believe are beyond his command
Somehow too great for his mighty hand
Hands that were able to shape the skies and the seas, the mountains & trees
But not able to help you or me

It may be a secret now
But it will all work out somehow
It may not be the way you’d hopped or planned
And you might not understand
But God has a plan

When everything goes array
When it takes everything in you not to break down and cry
Remember God has a plan
It’s the same as a day when everything goes your way
When things couldn’t fall more perfectly into place
Remember God has a plan

Through the good and the bad
Through the happy and the sad
Remember God has a plan
Rest easy, your heart’s in capable hands

Notification that my son had died.
The October morning could not have been more beautiful.  The sky was a radiant blue with wispy clouds brushed ever so delicately, as on a brilliant canvas.  As I was preparing to leave for work, I remember thinking to myself “this is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
I ran back into the house to get the rest of my things when the doorbell rang.  It was 7:00 a.m.  “Who could that be?” I asked my husband.  When we opened the door there was a young soldier standing at the door.  He couldn’t have been much older than 21, the age of my own son.  He was shaking and appeared pale and scared.
“Mrs. Johnson?” he asked.  “Yes”, I responded.  “On behalf of the President of the United States, I regret to inform you that your son died in his sleep last night.”  “WHAT!  YOU MUST BE MISTAKEN!”  I replied, “My son is in Germany, there must be some kind of mix-up!”  He replied “Yes maam I know.  Your son Benjamin Franklin Betts, died in his sleep last night, they found him dead in his room in Germany at 4:00 a.m. this morning.”
With those few words my whole world changed!  My soul plunged into a hell I never knew existed.   I was to learn that hell had no boundaries and no escape.   It was a place that was both dark and full of terror.  “No, this can not be!” I kept telling myself.
My husband dialed Ben’s phone number.  Soon someone answered and we asked to speak to Ben.  There was a very long pause.  Finally a voice responded and affirmed that Ben really was dead.  No one knew for sure how he had died.  He had been sick with the flu the previous week but cause of death was still unknown.  In order to determine the cause of death, Ben’s body was on its way to Heidelberg for an autopsy.
Suddenly my whole life came crashing in.  I felt a crushing blow to my stomach that took my breath away.  Moans, deep within me purged from my being.  I lost track of minutes, hours, and days.  In the haze of shock, sedatives and tears, I had a funeral to plan.
This nightmarish reality that invaded my life consumed my days and tormented my nights.  I kept thinking that soon I would awake and this would all be over and I could call and talk to Ben.  I could not believe, much less accept, the fact that my son was dead never to come home again, that I would never see his smiling face again.  Never again would I hold him in my arms.  “No God, this cannot be!”

Execution of a Military Funeral
Regardless of what I thought or felt, there were gut wrenching phone calls to family and friends that had to be made.  Decisions had to be made and a military burial executed.  I remember hearing faceless voices tell me how sorry they felt.  People visited and I thought it strange how well I was functioning.  Shock was a welcomed state at that point.  It was important not to feel for a while if I was to accomplish all those important tasks of honoring my beloved son one last time.
It was then that God first showed his presence.  The National Cemetery in San Diego, Ft. Rosecrans, had not had a burial site available since 1966.  Suddenly, that day a burial site became available.  Ben would be laid to rest close to home and we wouldn’t have to travel over 60 miles to Riverside for his final tribute.
Seeing the flag draped casket entering the church catapulted me back into reality.  That was my son Ben in that casket and I felt my knees fold under as I began to drop to the floor.  The sobs and the tears flowed again.  My pastor and husband reminded me that the memorial service was about to begin and the church was packed.  I was amazed to see so many people.  My family was there, as well as friends, coworkers, and even my son’s teachers.  They were all saying the nicest things about Ben and what a special person he was.  I felt so proud.
With the final devastating playing of taps, the memorial service was over.  Once my dead son was properly memorialized, all left — as the saying goes — to get on with their lives.  I returned to the devastation that once was a life.  Before October 20th my life had been so full.  It was full of hope, anticipation of the future, and joy.  I was clueless about how I was supposed to get on with my life now, when I just buried the heart and soul of my future, my son.
I thought once the funeral was behind me, the worst was over. How naive I was.  I soon learned my unplanned journey through a living hell had only just begun.
Ben was my only son and I loved him as I had never loved before.  It was a totally unselfish love.  More than that, I also liked him immensely.  We were more than just mother and son; we were the best of friends.  He was outgoing, fun to be around, playful, and always thinking of others.  If I didn’t have the privilege of being his mother, I would have cherished him as one of my closest friends.
I envied Ben.  He got the better of the deal.  Ben had died doing something he loved in service to our country.  He was in heaven now and would never have to shed another tear or suffer another loss.  I had to live on, in this deep despairing pit.  The utter despair shrouded the weeks and months that followed. A part of me died with him that October morning and pieces of me died again and again as I was confronted with the cold reality of Ben’s death and how dismal my future and my life had become.  Yet each morning I awoke, condemned to live another day.
Loosing a son is like having someone rip my right arm off.  A part of me was, and still is missing.  This jagged wound is more painful than any injury or affliction I’ve ever suffered and has caused agony in every nerve in my body.  Would it ever heal?  Would I ever be able to go on?
On October 27, 1997, another beautiful fall day, I buried a man who proudly wore the uniform of the United States Army.  More importantly, I buried an exceptionally good man, my son.
Learning the truth about what happened.
It took six long months to get any details around my son’s death.  A formal investigation had been conducted and when concluded was classified “CONFIDENTAL”.  I could not find out why my son had suddenly died for no apparent reason.  I had talked to him on the tenth of October and he was fine.  He shared with me the fun he had celebrating his 21st birthday at October Fest in Munich.  On the 20th of October, he was dead.  What happened, I kept asking.
On the one-year anniversary of my son’s death, I flew to Frieberg, Germany to get answers to the questions that plagued my every waking hour.  It was a difficult and painful trip to make but well worth the effort.  Here is what I learned.  My 21-year-old son, in service to his country had died due to complications of the flu because of medical negligence.
During that visit I learned that the service men in my son’s company had been issued some kind of shot.  Shortly afterward many of his comrades, including Ben, became ill with flu like symptoms.  The virus settled in Ben’s sinuses.  On Tuesday, October 14th 1997, Ben went to the infirmary.  With red cerebral fluid in his ears (as notated on his medical records which I was finally able to obtain), a medic administered Tylenol and sent him back to work.
Thursday, October 16th 1997, Ben returned to the infirmary, he was worse and had been vomiting every hour for 15 hours.  He was weak and totally dehydrated.  The medic gave him suppositories and sent him back to work.  On Friday after work, Ben collapsed in his room.  No one looked in on him until he didn’t report to duty at 4:00 a.m. on Monday morning, October 20, 1997.  He was found dead!
Ben didn’t die in the glory of battle.  He died sick and alone in his room.
During that time I thought about Mother Theresa and how she dedicated her life to helping those who were sick and suffering in India so they wouldn’t have to die alone.  My son, working for the richest government in the world, suffered and died alone in his room.
And so Ben made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  He gave his life. The death of my son was my deepest and darkest fear.  It takes every ounce of courage, strength and endurance I possess to live on.  I have suffered and endured the unfathomable as a result of Ben’s death.  How would I ever go on!

Watching My Watch
PFC Benjamin Franklin Betts
Time crawls by when I can’t peel my eyes from the clock
I wish I were so clever as to control something going on     forever
I wish I could command the world’s second hand
Too many times I watch the face of my watch
Just to see another minute drag past
Too many times I wish the world would just stop
No matter what I wish deep inside I know
Time is out of my control

Deep inside I know I’m living on borrowed time
It isn’t mine it’s just sudden death overtime
That’s why I try to fill each day,
That’s why I try to do my best
Tomorrow may never come; tonight may be my final rest
No matter how hard I try, the days continue speeding by
Time is out of my control

Yet still I know
I’m livin on borrowed time

Learning to go on.
Although I lost my father several years before, trudging through this valley of the shadow of death was ever more frightful and challenging.  I wanted to die.  Every waking moment was agony.  I contemplated suicide, as I desperately wanted to see my son again.
I knew Jesus and the miracle of the Resurrection.  I also knew that Ben had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  I gained comfort from knowing that Ben was with the Lord, safe and in heaven.  What concerned me was my desire to join him.  I wasn’t sure about what would happen to me if I took my life and in that event if I would ever see Ben again.  So I struggled to keep that thought at bay.
I did start driving recklessly.  My inability to concentrate left me confused many times about where I was or what I was doing.  I’d hear some song or story on the car radio that would remind me of Ben and I would begin to sob.  I was unable to control the sobbing once it started. I would begin weaving from lane to lane placing not only myself in danger but also innocent people.  I had enough sense to know that was not right and soon pulled off the road.
These periods of sobbing were unlike anything I had experienced before.  It was like a convulsing deep within my chest, deep within my soul.  I knew I needed help!  I didn’t want to hurt someone else.  Also I didn’t want to end up one of those people, who after loosing a child joined the living dead and spent the rest of their life angry and resentful.
Reaching out for help
A friend suggested that I contact the Hospice and try and get some much needed counseling.  It was a lifeline for me and I hung on with everything in me.  I believe that the most important aspect of my personality that has saved me and helped me in my survival of this terrible ordeal was my willingness to ask for and receive help from others.  So many people go through life believing it is weakness to ask for help.  I know I did.  I thought “I can do this”, “I can get over this and in a couple of weeks I’ll be fine” or “it’s weak to need help, I can do this on my own”.  Ya right!  I had a lot of rethinking to do.
At the Hospice it was suggested that I join a support group for parents suffering from grief over the death of a child.  I was also given literature and books.  I began reading everything and anything I could find on the grieving process.  I read about people who were successful in going through such an ordeal and making something good come out of their pain.  I learned about and met others who were stuck in the pain and as a result the rest of their lives were filled with anger and resentment.
I began to see patterns of how some people managed to move through the process of grief successfully.  There are several things I found most helpful.  I wish to share them with you, the reader, so that others who have to walk this journey will know they are not alone and that there is a way out of their dark valley.
Stages of grief
To go through the stages of grief requires a keen understanding of the following five points:  First grieving is a process with stages, each of which needs to be acknowledged and accepted.  Second, it is hard work.  Third, it takes time and lots of energy to deal with the unpredictable waves of feelings and emotions. Fourth, the journey is a lonely one that each person travels alone.  Fifth and most important, it is possible to get through this and life can once again be filled with joy.
Shock is the first stage in the grief process.  This is the time where one feels numb or anesthetized.  Actions seem mechanical as if one isn’t all there.  I learned that this period of shock is the body and mind’s way of protecting the psyche by allowing the reality in slowly.  Being in shock is also a very useful form of denial as it helps one to execute a proper memorial and face the hard work ahead.
It is important during this stage to maintain awareness of the body’s need for rest.  It is OK to take naps and perhaps even beneficial.  Sleep is one of the most important elements of the healing process.  There are waves of emotion that come over a long period of time that can be exhausting.  They occur frequently in the beginning, and later in process, these waves of emotion do subside a bit. If sleeping is a problem, it is not a sign of weakness to contact a physician to obtain help in the form of medication.
Maintaining good nutrition and not indulging in high intakes of alcohol or food will help a great deal also.  Large amounts of alcohol and sugar will only intensify the depression and hopeless feelings.  Alcohol is itself a depressant.  Large amounts of sugar and or carbohydrates cause the blood sugar level to spike up and then drop suddenly causing bouts of depression and other negative reactions within the body.  I, like many others, grew up using food for comfort.  But I soon learned that no amount of food would take away the pain I was feeling but would only add to it.  And if you are on the other end of the spectrum, the inability to eat will only worsen the pain as the body needs proper nutrition to endure the stress of grieving.
As the shock wears off, the denial phase starts.  I struggled with thoughts like “No this really didn’t happen” or “this must be some kind of mistake”.  I would see Ben’s face in the crowd or walking down the street.  It wasn’t until I went to Germany, to where my son died that I could finally accept the truth.
As more and more of the reality sets in, the acute pain of the anger stage is experienced.  At this stage there are intense emotions.  One may be uncomfortable expressing such intense feelings and struggle to hide them.  This is the time when support groups are particularly important. Expressing emotions and the pain is very important and encouraged, if one is to move through the grief process.  Support groups provide listeners who understand what one is going through, as they have walked this road themselves.  To heal, one must accept whatever the feelings are and express those feelings in a caring and supportive environment.  Support groups provide that type of environment.  To conceal or deny feelings of anger, only prolongs the process and increases the physical and emotional distress, possibly for years or maybe even a lifetime.
Much of the anger that surfaced for me was around how my son died.  Not getting all the details around his death or why it happened was very frustrating and difficult.  It took a long time to work through my anger.  I felt extreme anger toward the doctor who didn’t treat my son appropriately and was responsible for his untimely death.  I felt anger toward the United States Government, and the Army. I even felt extreme anger with God because isn’t it ultimately God who is responsible for life and death. What I learned about being angry at God is that it’s OK to express anger at God.  It is even better than OK, it’s necessary.  Even though I was expressing anger at God for taking my one and only son, at least I was communicating with God.  I learned that God is big enough and understanding enough to deal with my anger.
I finally took the opportunity to go to Germany and the base where Ben died.  It was there that I was finally able to get all the details and information surrounding my son’s death that I desperately needed.  It was such a miraculously healing experience!  The miracle was that the chaplain there on base just happened to be a member of my extended family as he was married to my second cousin.  He transitioned there shortly after Ben died and knew the doctor responsible for my son’s death.  Here was a man, who was a minister, an officer in the Army and a family member all rolled into one person.  Through the grace of God, my “cousin” was able to walk me through the process of forgiveness.  Isn’t that odd?  Or is it God?  For me, it truly was God once again revealing himself to me in this difficult ordeal.
The Anger stage was particularly difficult for me.  It threatened to destroy my marriage.  I was so angry that I didn’t care what I said or who heard it.  In order to save our marriage, my husband and I needed to separate for several months.  My husband was not my son’s biological parent and had only known him for a few years.  He never really had an opportunity to learn all the beautiful qualities my son possessed.  He did not share the same intense feelings that I had.  His grief process was completely different.  It was important for me to be able to deal with my anger and intense emotions and not hurt him.  For biological parents living together it is even more difficult.  Everyone grieves differently, everyone’s process is unique. It is difficult to stay connected in the marriage when so many feelings and emotions tear at the very fabric of the relationship.  This is when a good Christian counselor or pastor can help.  Reach out to your church community or if you don’t have one, get connected to one, it helps.
There is a story in the Bible where a sick man was lowered from the roof into a room where Jesus was.  He needed to be healed.  That is what my loving church community did for me at this time of my life; they held me up on a stretcher to the Lord for healing.  Through them I felt the Lord’s comfort and healing power.
Another strong emotion that surfaces at this time is Guilt.  “Why didn’t I do….”, “I wish I would of….” plagued my mind.  I see guilt as just another form of anger which is directed at self.  Years before my son’s death I learned an important lesson about how to avoid guilt.  The tip I learned early on in my son’s life was the importance of communication and telling loved ones how much they matter.  I am so grateful that I took opportunities to tell my child what a precious and beautiful son he was.  I wasn’t a perfect mom but with the help of long time friends, I was able to learn to focus on the good things I did do as a loving mom and to learn to make living amends for my bad choices by doing something special for someone here on earth.  I also learned the importance of telling people I love every opportunity there is, how much I love and appreciate them. I am constantly aware of how quickly a loved one’s life can be snuffed out and so I make the most of each moment.
Next I sunk into the Depression stage of the grief process.  If you suffer from clinical depression, as I did prior to Ben’s death, this stage can be particularly dangerous.  I went to see a psychiatrist as soon as I could get an appointment to discuss and review my medication regime.  I talked a great deal about what I was feeling and how the death was affecting me.  I also cried nearly constantly at first and later on a daily basis.  I was a unexpected surprise when one day I noticed that I hadn’t cried all day.  I was sure that I was cured and that the grief process must be over for me.  That was at two months.  Boy was I surprised the next day when the flood of emotion and tears came surging back into my existence.
This is when the realization that Ben was really gone hit the hardest.  It was around six to nine months.  The shock had worn off and I missed him terribly.  I would start talking about Ben, as others do about their kids, and the people I was speaking with appeared physically uncomfortable.  Their response was either to change the subject, excuse themselves, or just walk away whenever I mentioned Ben’s name.  No one wanted to talk about Ben; after all he was dead and gone.  I heard a great deal about the importance of getting on with life.  I’m guessing that others expected that at six or nine months I should be done grieving and ready to get on with my life.  Some people even told me as much. I soon realized how uncomfortable people are in our society with grief and the tears, anger, or depression expressed in grieving the death of a child.
Because of these unrealistic expectations, I began to think that something must be wrong with me because I still was hurting so badly.  This is when I struggled most with thoughts of suicide.  I made a plan.  I was desperately searching for relief.  Each day I awoke not knowing if or how I would get through the day.  I got to the point where I knew I couldn’t possibly go on.  My plan failed, so I called a friend.  With the guidance from friends and loved ones, I checked into a hospital.  For two weeks I cried, screamed and people listened.  There I completely fell apart and felt safe doing what I needed to do to work through every bit of anger in me.  I was only in the hospital for two weeks but it saved my life.
As part of the treatment process, the doctors encouraged me to get in touch with those things that had once given me pleasure.  One such pleasure I remembered came out of the memory I had of the fun Ben and I had with our dog.  I had always had a dog growing up and I realized how much I loved having a pet and needed one in my life now.  As a new puppy, my dog Mandy Mae would spend many lonely nights entertaining me by being a cute and totally absorbing puppy.
I also got in touch with my fascination for learning about new places, experiences, and cultures.  That was another thing Ben and I shared.  He joined the Army so he could see the world.  I decided that I was going to live out that dream and start traveling.  Thus traveling became something to focus on and an important addition to my list of things that gave me pleasure and would ultimately create meaning and joy in a life without Ben.
As I progressed through the healing process, I remembered the excitement I felt learning new things.  A spark of curiosity would carry me into the literature for months.  I had always wanted to continue my education and obtain a doctorate but had not made the time.  Going back to school became the third item on my list.
Finally, I rediscovered my faith.  I soon became aware, that in the depth of my despair, there was closeness with God that I had never before experienced.  I sensed that God was physically there with me, carrying me, and that He wanted me to live on.  I turned my life and my will over to him as I never had before.  I placed all my pain and my life in God’s loving hands.  I was ready to leave the hospital.
Another strange phenomena I experienced during this period in my process, I would see Ben’s face on strangers or hear his voice coming from young men I briefly encountered.  If a saw someone in an Army uniform or fatigues, I would want to approach them and hold them, pretending it was Ben.  Anyone in a uniform was fare game to hear my saga.  But instead of being rude or trying to get away from me, thinking I was crazy, most military personnel would respectfully listen and offer comfort.  As one young Marine said to me “Maam, when one of our comrades falls in the line of duty, no matter what branch of the service, it is our privilege to help comfort or be there for the family however we are able”.  The military became my source of healing and that sense of camaraderie helped me to see the human side of the Army.
Within the military community, there is also an organization called T.A.P.S., Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.  T.A.P.S. was instrumental in my grief process. T.A.P.S. was founded by Bonnie Carol, a widow whose husband, Tom Carol died in a plane crash.  Being a survivor herself, she saw the need for such a support system.  Military deaths are cloaked in mystery and many times it is difficult to deal with the bureaucracy of such a powerful institution as the military or its foibles.  Such was the case with me.  It was very difficult to discover why a young, healthy man would suddenly die from complications of the flue.
By getting involved with T.A.P.S., I was able to meet with the Secretary of the Army and express the deplorable situation that surrounded my son’s death.  Each year there after, on Memorial Day weekend, I attended the TAPS annual conference in Washington D.C.  There, survivors of military casualties come together for a weekend of counseling, support groups, and educational seminars.  In the beginning I would see others who had learned to live again after the death of their loved one and that gave me hope.  Each year I returned to TAPS I saw in others healing that had taken place during our time apart.  I was never aware of the slow healing within me.  It was only when I saw it in others, year after year, that I realized I must be getting better myself.  Here were people not only learning to survive such a terrible ordeal as mine, but were thriving and helping others.  This is the final tool I used to heal my pain, getting out off self and helping others. Now each year I return to Washington D.C. to be that source of hope to others.  I take and make calls to other parents just starting down their path and try to be their light at the end of a dark and lonely tunnel.
Acceptance is considered by many to be the final stage of grieving. For me it took five years.  I remember it clearly.  It was the five year anniversary of Ben’s death.  I was drawn to his photo album and I was finally able to look again at his pictures.  Suddenly I was filled with gratitude.  Yes I felt gratitude once again, for all those precious moments we had during the 21 years he was on this earth.  It is with the acceptance that Ben not only died but he lived that the healing process was complete and I was able to move on.  This isn’t meant to discourage anyone but to let you know that it does take a long time and a great deal of work to get to a place of acceptance.  But be assured, it will come if you will work for it.

You And I
A Friendship Song
Benjamin Franklin Betts

I step out of the dark, into the light
Away from the terror of the night
Standing waiting, side by side
Off in the distance there’s an uncharted road
Stretching further than we can see
I look to you and you turn to me
We decide to walk along
Writing in our hearts a new song

We’ll keep walking we’ll keep traveling on
Until our last days are done, until we have won
Togetherness is the only way
To make it through tomorrow
To make it through today
Forever is not too long
Just as long as we hold on
Unburdened and unstoppable

I’ll trust in you, please trust in me
Together we can’t be beat
With God’s help this is true
The best combination is me and you
As we walk, as we run
Together facing daily battles that must be won
Together we can’t go wrong
Singing this friendship song

The hope and comfort I have today
It’s fall again.  The skies are blue and there are those familiar wispy strokes of white cloud painted ever so artistically across the blue.  It has been seven years since Ben went to be with the Lord.  Today I am able to look at those blue skies, feel the chillness in the air at night, and all the signs that indicate that summer is over and the fall is just around the corner.  Since Ben died, I entered this time of year with dread.  Today I feel tremendous amount of joy and gratitude that runs deep within my being.  As Gibran has said in his book The Profit “Pain carves the well that holds my joy”. The fact that a young soldier, PFC Benjamin Franklin Betts, was here on this earth and I was able to spend 21 years celebrating life with him brings great joy to my heart.
It is hard to believe in the beginning when the news first arrives that anything could ever be the same again.  No, life will never be the same.  My life is totally different today because my focus on life is different.  I am not the same person I was prior to October 20, 1997.  Today I am able to see life through a new lens.  I am able to care more about people than things.  I guess you could say I am a more caring person as I feel a great depth of compassion for others who are suffering the loss of their child.  I am a person who is committed to helping others get through the grieving process, to help you the reader.    Today there is some sense of normalcy in my life.  What does that normalcy look like?
First, I have greater depths of love in my relationships today.  I don’t take anyone or any time with a loved one for granted.  I know how quickly life can be snuffed out, so today my relationships are much deeper and richer.  I tell people all the time how much I appreciate them.  I am not afraid or reluctant to tell close friends and family member that I love them.  I live each day as though it were my last.
I have faith today and the assurance that ALL things work together for good with those who love and serve the Lord, Rom 8:28.  I have seen so much good and so many people’s lives touched all because my son lived and died.  Good does come out of tragedy!
I have hope today.  My hope is that when I take my last breath on this earth and my next breath in eternity, I will stand before my Lord and hear him say, “Well done good and faithful one, welcome home” and my son Ben will be there beaming from ear to ear, and will say, “Way to go mom, I am so proud of you!”     Every deed I do, every word I say, every thought I think leads to that moment.  St Paul once said that to die is to gain but to live is to suffer.  Yes I do still hurt every time I miss Ben, but I know beyond a shadow of doubt that one day I will see him again.  What a wonderful reassurance!
I have purpose in my life today.  Each day has meaning as I commit to helping others and making my small part of this world a better place.  Theodore Isaac Rubin once said that “Few people can fail to generate a self-healing process when they become genuinely involved in healing others.”  There is a caution attached to this.  It is important not to rush into helping others at the expense of your own healing.  I have read of others who accomplished great things after a death of a child only to have a melt down two to three years later.  One way or another, the grief will make itself known and have to be dealt with.  I decided at the onset from the readings that I did, to attach the grief head-on.  I desperately wanted to get through the grief and then move on with my life.  I didn’t want to take any detours or prolong the pain in any way.
These tools I have shared with you through this book are compilation of all the readings I have done, support groups I attended, and advice I received from other survivors.  These tools worked for me.  They may or may not work for you.  Take what you want and what works for you, and leave the rest.  Then pass it on and together we can support others who are paying the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, the death of their loved one, their soldier.

Locked Away
PFC Benjamin Franklin Betts

I struggle so hard for what is given
Nothing is free in a life worth living

Gifts are more precious when they’re earned
Something sacrificed, something learned
There are lessons to be learned
Most of them aren’t easy

I’ve felt pain in my pleasure and pleasure in my pain
I’ve had it rain on sunny days and felt sunshine on rainy days
I’ve worn a smile on my face and a frown on my heart
Suffered the bitterness of rejection from the start

I’ve never known the answers
At the questions I can only guess
When things go spinning out of control
I struggle to be free from this mess

Freedom is an empty day spent without a care
Freedom is a clear mind, the shelves of reflection bare
Freedom is always just out of reach
No matter how hard I try

I struggle to do my best; it puts my soul to the test
Pass or fail, win or lose, somehow you end up feeling used
I know I have some answers locked inside me
First I have to find the door before I worry about a key

I feel I hold the answers
But they’re locked away
Waiting to be opened on that special day

May God bless Mary Johnson on Earth, and PFC Franklin Betts in Heaven.


Armageddonijad and Khadafi Duck

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Today the Tygrrrr Express is Indian Wells Bound. This weekend is the California Republican Party State Convention. I will be one of many speakers.

One reason this event will be so fabulous is because Mahmoud Armageddonijad (nee Ahmadinejad) of Iran and Mohammar Khadafi Duck of Libya will not be invited. In fact, they are forbidden from attending.  Even better, Helen Thomas will not be allowed to ask any questions of any of the speakers. Only distinguished people need apply.

While Indian Wells will be the happiest place on Earth, New York City will be the most miserable. Even Governor Patterson cannot be blamed for this one.

For those who do not know, Gotham City is the location for the most useless, worthless, and corrupt organization on Earth. Yes, the only people that make ACORN seem like law abiding citizens would be the member of the United Nations, which ironically consists of neither.

For one thing, Palestine is not a nation, so technically they should not show up until a worldwide conference on supporting terrorism is created. Actually, given that Libya and Syria have been on the U.N. Human Rights Council, I guess the people of the fictional land of Palestine fit in perfectly.

For those who wonder why America does not kick the U.N. out of New York City headquarters, it is because it is important to keep friends close and enemies closer. Also, it is amusing watching some of these clowns try to pitch tents in areas and then be chased out by citizens that dislike genocidal lunatics.

Besides, why should we have to use up frequent flyer miles? Let them travel. We own the organization anyway. We are the largest shareholder due to the fact that we pay the largest amount of dues. When these other parasitic nations pay their fair share, we can relocate the organization to its rightful place in Damascus, and then blow it up after all the democratic delegations leave the meetings.

Because we have given our word that despots are allowed to attend these meetings, we cannot engage in targeted assassinations once they arrive. This is in keeping with the principle of gun rights that says that you can shoot the intruder that invades your home, but not if you invite them in.

(Homer Simpson found this out with Ned Flanders.)

Where we have failed to draw the line, where we keep getting it wrong, is with media coverage. There should not be any. News organizations should cover news. This should eliminate the Emmys, Oscars, and United Nations functions.

Professional sports now gets it right. When a crazed fan runs on to the field, cameras that used to cover this now deliberately look away to avoid giving the attention seeker the publicity they crave.

(Even better is that in football, the athletes on both teams fighting each other unite to take a free shot at the intruder. That part can be covered provided the agitator is injured.)

Under this principle, which works, the media should not cover the United Nations. It does not do anything. It gives meaningless speeches that amount to nothing.

(Some would put President Obama in this category, but at least he is secretly trying to do things, although without admitting this. They may be the wrong things, but he does have a stealth agenda. A better parallel in terms of a complete lack of an agenda would be Bill Clinton.)

While I still maintain that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama talk too much and say virtually nothing of substance, they were democratically elected. Also, while they may be narcissists, they are not genocidal wack jobs.

Such charitable praise cannot be doled out to Armageddonijad and Khadafi Duck.

What legitimate organization gives these people a speaking platform?

In a self-congratulatory act that would make the U.N. proud (boy does Obama fit in well in that regard), many delegates walked out of Armageddonijad’s stump speech.

He should not have been allowed to speak to begin with.

Was Howie Mandel not available? Maybe Alan Thicke? Heck, Pauly Shore could have emceed this event given that he used to be “the weasel,” while most of the delegates are a bunch of weasels.

These events are spectacular in their insignificance. Watching plutocrats feast on 7 course meals while decrying world hunger is almost as delightful as watching them drive in limousines one block and congest traffic so that they can give pious speeches on reducing carbon emissions. Even Al Gore and John Edwards are less phony (barely).

Khadafi Duck rambled for over an hour and a half, without apologizing for having nearly 300 people murdered on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Armageddonijad then spoke for 30 minutes without apologizing for basically being himself.

Here are some of his “thoughts.”

He said that we should stop printing money, spreading inflation, and engaging in unbridled capitalism.

(I think he is just jealous that Jews like Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke get to run a central bank and he doesn’t.)

He predicted the “end for those who defy democracy.”

(Good. He just gave permission for us to kill him.)

He criticized the “Inhuman policies in Palestine.”

(Even Better. Let Israel blow up Hamas and Hezbollah and get find some human beings willing to rule these people. The inhuman policies in Gaza are 100% the fault of those living there. The man funding much of this misery, ironically enough, is Armageddonijad.)

“The U.S. has racist ambitions.”

(Maybe he was talking to the Pelosiraptor. Nancy Pelosi frequently accuses Republicans of this, along with most Obama advisers. We have a black President. Is Armageddonijad implying that black people are trying to take over the world?)

He lamented “Afghanistan drug trafficking.”

(I lament his trafficking in world wide terrorism.)

“Change must be structural, theoretical, practical.”

(He must have taken an Obamanomics course. That statement is downright platitudinous in its meaninglessness.)

By grace of God, Marxism is gone. Capitalism will meet same fate.

(Good. We can start by cutting off his finances. The Palestinians are poor, Iran has oil wealth. He should give the money to them.)

He pointed out that “Gitmo is not shut down, there are secret prisons in Europe.”

(How does he know this if the prisons are secret? This fails on definition alone. Also, I think he called Obama  a liar for not keeping his word.)

He wants the “elimination of all chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons.”

(We can drop them over his palace. Then we will not need most of them any more.)

However, he then said that “All nations do have the right to access to peaceful technology.”

(This is purely Clintonian. A peaceful Armageddonijad is like a pleasant member of NOW.)

Iran one of the most progressive democratic governments in the world

(Liberals call themselves progressives. Maybe now they will be ashamed to use that word. I wonder why Armageddonijad avoids the word liberal. Maybe he does not want to lose in Iowa or New Hampshire in 2012.)

He complains that we “supported Saddam, and then took military action against same man.”

(We supported him because Iran was worse. Saddam then briefly became worse than Iran, which takes talent. Now Iran is # 1 again in the homicidal polls. He is Homecoming King.)

As for Khadafi Duck, I do not speak gibberish.

However, in plain English that even a dictator can understand, I would not lose sleep if his plane was blown up over the ocean. We could then express regret but free the culprit in the name of the dictaotrs really having it coming.

For those who want to criticize me by saying that my words stoke their fires into trying to do the same to us, my response is simple.

They already are. They have been for almost 40 years. Everybody except the United Nations and most college professors understand this.

(The group “Stand With Us” understands this. A rally in Westwood in Los Angeles was successful, and more rallies in New York, Detroit, and elsewhere are taking place today. I thank Rachel at “Culture For All” for informing me of these anti-Armageddonijad rallies.)

Then again, given the history of Bill Ayers, Armageddonijad and Khadafi Duck can always retire and find a job at a Poison Ivy League University teaching political science.

After all, as we saw this week, nobody is too crazy for leftists to offer a platform.


Yom Kippur Phoniness

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Sunday night begins Yom Kippur. For 24 hours, until Monday night, Jews fast. After not eating, we feast.

More importantly, we atone for our sins. We apologize for those we have wronged to the people we have wronged. This can lead to many heartfelt words. Some of those words may be expressed in a blog offering sincere contrition.

That will not be this blog. Not today. The holiday is not today.

Today I am going to recommend that many liberal Jews skip Yom Kippur entirely.

Stay home from Synagogue. Ignore the holiday. Apologize for nothing.

Is it because they are perfect just the way they are?

No, even though many of them think they are.

It is because their prayers will be insincere. They will be engaging in Yom Kippur phoniness.

Now I know at this point liberal Jews will get indignant, because they took sanctimoniusness 101 in college along with smugness 102 and self-righteousness 103.

Yom Kippur is about sincere attempts to be a better human being. It is about sincerely looking deep inside oneself and finding out how we can give in to our angel selves and overcome our internal demons.

Liberal Jews have zero interest in doing this.

Here is the test. When liberal Jews are apologizing in the abstract, they should try making a specific apology.

“I apologize for every bad word and every bad thought I have ever had about George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, and any other conservative or Republican. I also apologize for harshly judging random conservatives and Republicans I have met without bothering to get to know them or give them a chance. I will make a sincere effort to stop engaging in Ideological Bigotry.”

Does any serious person think that liberals are going to do this?

Of course not. Why apologize when one is convinced that their bad behavior is justified?

Judaism is about self reflection. It allows much self criticism, sometimes to the point of groveling. Yet while Jews apologize for things that are not their fault, they cannot bring themselves to apologize for their treatment of evangelical Christians.

Was there a time in history when Christians were the major source of bigotry toward Jews?

Yes, hundreds of years ago.

I’m over it.

The Christians of today are good people, and they deserve to be treated like human beings.

This does not mean Jews should become conservatives, although it would be nice if they would.

It does mean that the irrational hostility toward conservatives based on centuries old grievances must cease.

I am constantly questioning my own behavior. I do not discuss it on my blog, because my blog is about issues, not me. Yet I look in the mirror, and I worry that the man I am and the man I want to be are separated by an ever widening gulf. I remind myself that I do not have to always be right, but I do have to be fair. I question whether I cross the line form hard hitting to mean.

Most of the time, I believe I fall on the side of decency, although there are some close calls.

I will not give phony apologies. There are people whose death would make my life better. Some of them are relatives that grow exponentially useless by the day. I have no intention of apologizing for how I feel about them. However, I will absolutely question whether there are things I could have done so that the anger I feel toward them will eventually dissipate. If they reach out to me, again in a very sincere manner, of course I will listen. I have to do that.

Yet atoning for sins does not mean becoming a patsy and being a pushover. I have no patience for losers.

I have no patience for a lot of things. I definitely need to work on that. When I do the atoning ritual of Tashlich, I will try my best.

Yet I know bigotry is wrong. I know that when I wake up in the morning I am every bit as flesh and blood as any liberal. I also don’t hate them for existing and breathing.

Some of these liberals actually through clenched teeth will apologize for their anti-conservative hatred. They don’t get it. Sincere apologies do not come through clenched teeth.

Unless liberal Jews can truly apologize for the hate they feel for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Sarah Palin, which in reality masks a hatred for an entire group…conservatives, mainly evangelicals…they should just stay home.

I know that would make my Synagogue experience more enjoyable.

I will do some apologizing on Yom Kippur. Yet at least it won’t be phony.

Hineni. Here I am. Jewish, Conservative, proud, and determined to stop ideological bigotry.


Black Blood Cells, White Out, Ritz Crackers, and Vanilla Extract

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Answer: Obama on Letterman, and the Emmy Awards.

(Either Johnny Carson or Alex Trebek give us the question.)

Question: Things that are irrelevant. Now on to the news.

I have now built a circumstantial case proving that President Barack Obama hates white people.

First comes the water Issue that is decimating Central California. Actor Paul Rodriguez and Sean Hannity have been highlighting the fact that farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are starving. The drought has hurt the California agriculture industry, but the environmentalists have hurt more. A two inch minnow fish has been declared more important than the farmers. The Federal Government has ordered the water turned off.

Obviously President Obama is doing this because the farmers are white. True, some of them are Latino, but given that Latinos supported his primary opponents, they are closer to white than black.

Then President Obama decided to surrender on Missile Defense. The man that wanted to get along better with our allies decided to throw Poland under the bus. Poland has always been a loyal ally of America. Yet the Polish people are not respected by liberals in the same way France is because Poland likes this country. Also, they like Ronald Reagan, and not leftist oppression.So why did Obama do this? Because most Polish people are white. If there are black people in Poland, I have never met them.

The third piece of evidence is the unending corruption of ACORN. Most of the critics of ACORN are conservatives. Most conservatives are white. Therefore, Obama defends ACORN because he hates white people.

In further news, White-Out is a racist product. If Somebody had invented “blackout,” “Jew-out,” or “Gay-out,” there would be riots in the streets.

Ritz Crackers are another racist product. Imagine if a snack was known as “Ritz Darkies,” or some other epithet.

The term “pure vanilla” is racist. All vanilla extract should immediately be replaced with chocolate extract to make up for America’s past. They are both brown, but that is besides the point.

Lastly, all scientists and God are racist because black people have white blood cells but white people are not allowed to have black blood cells.

Everything is racist. In fact, until milk is colored black, Selma, Alabama should be in every third sentence of every school textbook.

Ok, my point has been made as plain as black and white.

Just because Barack Obama is indifferent to the suffering of California farmers does not make him a racist. He truly is colorblind in his lack of regard for most people. He is every bit as insincere with many black people as he is with white people.

As for Missile Defense, Barack Obama is not a racist. He is just an appeaser and an apologist. He is just as willing to surrender to a nation run by any person of any color, provided that it is bad for this country. Also, he has tapped into the ideologically bigoted culture of today’s American left. George W. Bush favored Missile Defense, therefore Barack Obama has to be against it. If George W. Bush were to cure cancer, Obama would announce that the American Medical Association is outraged at doctors being forced out of work. If Bush says black, Obama says white…so to speak.

This leads into ACORN. President Obama is not going after ACORN’S critics because they are white.

Yet the critics are not going after ACORN because they help black people.

Critics of Obama are not going after him because he is black.

This is where the left gets confused. Aren’t the people on the right racists, sexists, bigots, and homophobes, while those on the left are noble purists with beautiful intentions?

Furthermore, doesn’t this mean that if somebody is a member of a minority group that has suffered greatly, that all members of that aggrieved group automatically be given lifetime immunity from any and all criticism for anything and everything?

Well if you’re a liberal, then yes, absolutely.

Racism is poisonous, but conservatives understand that tossing out the race card at the slightest hint of unrelated and self-inflicted problems only makes things more difficult for victims of real racism.

Corruption and greed are colorblind. All humans are capable of sin.

Charles Rangel is a corrupt tax cheat. So is Timothy Geithner. Yet Charles Rangel continues to skate by.

David Patterson is the incompetent governor of New York. His race is irrelevant. His lack of effectiveness is the issue. It is called David Dinkins Syndrome. He wasn’t tough enough for the job.

William Jefferson had $90,000 cash in the freezer. His race was not the issue. His corruption was.

Yet what do all of these criminals (Patterson not accused of crimes) have in common? They blame institutional racism for their own bad deeds.

Barack Obama ran as a post partisan President. Instead he and his colleagues on the left play the race card when conservatives dare to disagree with him.

Nancy Pelosi and other guilty white liberals are willing to label conservatives as racists to win at politics. They are willing to pass a national health care plan by tearing this nation in half. They imply that people who sharply disagree with Obama are going to murder him in cold blood, despite that fact that it was liberals that burned President George W. Bush in effigy.

They don’t care about anything but winning at all costs.

I will not be labeled a racist just because I want low taxes and dead terrorists.

I will not be afraid to criticize Barney Frank, Jim McGreevey, or any other gay politician that uses their sexuality to intimidate others.

I will go after any corrupt politician, even if they are black like Mel Reynolds.

I will also criticize white liberal corrupt politicians, be they Eliot Spitzer or Jon Corzine.

I will go after conservative politicians that are corrupt, be they Randy Duke Cunningham or Mark Foley.

I want to root out corruption from crooked black and white politicians.

This is known as chocolate and vanilla extract.

Racism must be stopped. So must racial grievance mongers crying wolf, even if they are leading this country.


Rosh Hashanah and Football…Perfect Together

Monday, September 21st, 2009

As a devout Jew and a devotee of the National Football League, I face a conflict every few years when the High Holy Days fall on my holy NFL Sunday.

September 20th, 2009 was Week 2 of the NFL Season. It was also the second day that the Jewish people turn 5770.

Some Jews are so devoted and disciplined that they would simply skip the games without batting an eyelash. Sure they could Tivo them, but without much concern.

Other Jews have virtually no Jewish identity, and watching football would make more sense than celebrating some holiday.

I care about both.

So what does one do?

One year I simply ran back and forth like Mrs. Doubtfire across the street between the Chabad House and Maloney’s Sportsbar. That was exhausting. It was also meaningless, since I do not remember any of the service, or the scores of any of the games, or even what year it was on the Hebrew or NFL Calendar.

I consulted several years ago with my close friend’s father, who is a proud Jew and die hard football fan.

He broke down in simple terms why he would be watching the games. It was like Judaism explained with Xs and Os. Boy was my friend raised right.

Yet at a Rosh Hashanah dinner on Saturday night, a young Rabbi provided me with some invaluable information.

This Rabbi was a left-winger. He liked Barbara Boxer and Keith Olbermann. Politically we could not be more different. Yet what some people fail to understand about me is that I do not demonize political opponents. I prefer friendly dinner conversation, and only react with hostility when confronted with it first. I became a blogger due to a hostile woman at a dinner party. Coincidentally, these were the same hosts.

While this Rabbi and I did not agree on politics, he liked football. With me, that offers the potential for instant kinship. His knowledge of football was outmatched by his knowledge of Judaism, and I am forever grateful for this.

He informed me that a Synagogue in Pacific Palisades was doing something that to my limited knowledge had never been done before. Kehillat Israel was simulcasting their service on the internet.

I have been to Kehillat Israel 3 or 4 times. While it is a Reconstructionist Synagogue, meaning it is very “new-agey,” my experiences there have been pleasant. The Rabbi is very nice and friendly. Although the Synagogue is very liberal in terms of beliefs, I never felt it to be an ideologically vicious place. In fact, this Temple was what true liberalism was supposed to be–tolerant.

I am under no illusions that the purpose of this simulcast was not to help me. It was so that elderly and sick hospital patients could participate in the holiday experience. Yet I benefited from this.

As with any NFL Sunday, I had multiple televisions broadcasting multiple games. This was in addition to some live blogging of the games. Yet my computer was also hooked up to the Kehillat Israel Rosh Hashanah Service.

As I watched the Raiders battle the Chiefs, and my friend watched the Cardinals play the Jaguars, at a certain juncture we muted the televisions. The Rabbi was about to blow the Shofar (ritual ram’s horn). It was just as beautiful, meaningful, and spiritual had we been in the Synagogue. In fact, it was better because it was a new experience. When the Rabbi was finished, he went into his Sermon. I confess that at that point attention returned to football.

The Rams horn did not inspire the St. Louis Rams, who lost 9-7. Also, it was pointed out to me that the Minnesota Vikings have a Shofar on their helmet, although neither Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, or Brad CHildress are Jewish. However, the Raiders won 13-10, and the Cardinals won 31-17.

(In Emmy Award news…oh who cares, nobody watched.)

More importantly, I got to watch football and still attend a Rosh Hashanah service.

This will not be something that most synagogues will do. After all, Reconstructionist Judaism is far left. In Orthodox Judaism, electricity is forbidden on the Sabbath,

So while I normally fall on the side of the conservatives (Not to be confused with Conservative Judaism, where the conservatives are actually the centrists), I have to confess that a liberal Rabbi and a liberal Synagogue helped me have a truly enjoyable start to the New Year. Of course, the Raiders winning did help.

Some will say that I should have just gone to temple and skipped the game. This would have been an awful idea since I would have been thinking about the game. I would have been physically in temple, but my mind would not be on Judaism.

This way, when I muted those televisions, I was completely focused on the Jewish Shofar ritual. My attention span was not divided. This was a marriage of ideas, since when a couple gets married, they do not split themselves into 50%, but unite into one couple of 200%.

I remember every detail of the football games. I also clearly remember how nice it was to hear the Shofar.

NFL 2009 Week 2 was awesome.

So was Rosh Hashanah 5770 Day 2.

Happy New Year all.

Thank you Kehillat Israel of Pacific Palisades.

Oh, and JaMarcus (Russell, Raiders Quarterback), step it up buddy. This was a close one.