Showing posts with label sin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sin. Show all posts

Thursday, August 02, 2012

All . . . and nothing at all

Behold Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, the man who has it all. Except for everything.

He does, however, have an excuse-making, enabling mother who raised her baby boy to be a pluperfect, self-absorbed cad. She seems to be proud of this, blabbing to the Today show that her son's penis only has time for "one-night stands."

If you have the stomach for it, here's part of the story from Fox Sports:

American swimmer Ryan Lochte has become a heartthrob over the past few months, but according to his mother anyone trying to lock him into a relationship will probably be left disappointed.

Lochte's mother Ike told Today that her son focuses so much on his career that he doesn't have time for a girlfriend. She said the following:

"He goes out on one-night stands. He's not able to give fully to a relationship because he's always on the go."

This report comes after an interview in Women's Health when Lochte revealed that the most attractive thing about a woman is keeping a "fit body," and that his celebrity crush is Carmen Electra.

Lochte also claims he mostly sleeps naked, prefers sex with the lights on, and when he sees a woman he wants to meet he makes eye contact and will, "give a wink and come back later because it keeps her thinking."
YOU'D HOPE she's thinking "What an ass!" Or . . . "A social disease is still a social disease, no matter from whom you contract it." But that's probably too much to hope for in this day and age.

Mrs. Lochte! You sure know how to raise 'em. Not.

I really can't add much to what Dr. Ruth tweeted today. A mother who's "wingman" for a son as he goes around using women
sexually, then casting them aside due to being "always on the go" . . . what the hell can you say about that? Words fail, except to repeat that Ryan Lochte has everything, but ultimately nothing at all.

If Lochte represents the stuff postmodern American "heroes" are made of -- and he does -- our end is nearer than we think. You really don't need Chick-Fil-A's Dan Cathy to tell you stuff like that. We presume upon God's mercy at the risk of incurring His justice.

And I say this as "presumer" No. 1.


Monday, July 16, 2012

The South that raised me

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

When I was a child, all of the South was like the Mississippi of this 1966 NBC News documentary, Mississippi: A Self-Portrait.

The only thing was that Mississippi was just a little bit more.

If we all waived Confederate battle flags -- we called them "Rebel flags" -- Mississippians waived them a little bit more. Especially during football season, for the University of Mississippi was (and is) home of the Ole Miss Rebels. Today, the name remains, though the flag and "Colonel Rebel" do not, and that transition was not an easy one for Mississippians.

If we all celebrated "moonlight and magnolias" and venerated "the Lost Cause," Mississippi celebrated and venerated a little bit more.

And if there was ugliness toward blacks -- we called them "Negroes" or "nigras" or "colored," and that's when we were trying to be nice -- or racial strife to be unleashed, Mississippians did what Southerners did back then. Just a little bit more fervently.

I was born in 1961.
Mississippi: A Self-Portrait aired on NBC in 1966, when I was in kindergarten in Baton Rouge. Until 1970, I attended legally segregated elementary schools.

Welcome to my world.

WELCOME to my upbringing as the child of racist parents in a racist, racially segregated society, which represented the only way they knew how to live. Which represented, for a long time, the only world I ever knew.

If you know anything about the South today, watching this film will show you how far it's come in 46 years. If you know anything about the South today, you know how far it still has to go. You also know this:
It gets complicated.

I was raised by white folk just like the white folk in this documentary.

You want to know the dirty little secret of that? The part that makes one both a victim and a perpetrator, brings one to the line where the difference between conscious and unconscious -- willfulness and reflexiveness -- gets . . .

It's this: Ivan Pavlov, of "Pavlov's dog" fame, was right.

Pavlov started ringing a bell whenever he fed his dogs. Soon enough, the dogs began to slobber at the ringing of a bell. We white Southerners of a certain age --
a great many of us -- were conditioned to slobber at the ringing of any number of bells, most of them cracked.

AND THAT'S what the Yankees can't take away -- what maybe even Jesus can't completely take away. We can learn morality. We can accept "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" in our minds and, indeed, even in our hearts.

We can do this. God Almighty compels us to do so; I know this. The force of our will enables us to at least attempt this.

But none of this takes away that goddamned --
God-damned, to be precise -- and devilishly cracked bell that a sick society started to ring in our ears the minute we popped out of our mamas' wombs. If we white Southerners of a certain age are honest, those of us who were neither born saints nor raised by them, we recognize that God-damned, subconscious half a second between some stimulus right out of 1966 (or 1956, for that matter) and the moral conscience that imperfectly informs our conscious mind in 2012.

Most white Southerners won't tell you that; I just did. Because that damning 1966 documentary about Mississippi -- about how old times there were not forgotten -- is pretty much how I was reared in south Louisiana back then. Hell, I remember when my eldest uncle died when I was a junior in high school (and I'm talking 1977 here), it was real important for my old man to find out whether the funeral home in Ponchatoula was "all-white."

The mortician eagerly assured him that, yes, it was. Another place in town was the "colored funeral home."

Because race mixing was
(is?) an issue, even when you're dead as a doornail, sealed in a coffin and 6 feet deep in the good Southern soil.

WELCOME to my world, the one I cannot escape no matter how far afield of the South I might wander. The world that made my mind and haunts my heart. The world that gave so many of us that God-damned subconscious half second.

make sure you go here (and that you watch the segments in order) to see how we're trying -- black and white alike -- to make sense of what made no damn sense at all, God help us.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Simply '70s: Hard-won wisdom born of sin

I always thought this was the best speech Richard Nixon ever gave.

Nearly 37 years on, I still remember watching it. And I remember being incredibly sad, though not as sad as my mother, who thought Nixon was the bee
's knees and got railroaded by the communists.

But it was sad. It's never a happy affair when a man is brought to his knees, no matter how richly deserved and no matter how much his own doing.

IN AUGUST 1974, the republic was saved because the Constitution worked. Back then, no man was above the law. Even the president.

What was remarkable about this, Nixon's best speech, is that he could not have given it just days before. This was the speech of a broken man, a hated man, one who deep down inside knew he had done wrong.

It was a speech born of the wisdom of a sinner. It was the same wisdom David found after Nathan confronted him with his murderous sin -- the same grief later born of a heart broken by Absalom, the son who died in rebellion against him.

The wisdom of sin. And a heart softened by its brokenness.

We are a nation presently full of tragedy, and one that has seen much worse. We, however, are a nation with little sense of the tragic, but plenty taste for anger, strife, hatred and alienation.

We have yet to learn the one hard lesson Richard Nixon learned from the bitter fruit of his own sin:

"Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

There'$ pow'r, pow'r . . . wonder-working pow'r!

There aren't many things that will drag me out of my flu-fouled sickbed to putter around on the blog.

One, however, is the alleged evildoing of a supposedly slimy Bible-believin' preacher. Another is the latest freak show from the Gret Stet.

So when you put those two things together . . .
cough, cough . . . sniffle . . . moan . . . here I am.

And there be Bishop Ricky Sinclair of Miracle Place Church, headquartered in Baker, La. According to the Louisiana inspector general's office, one of Sinclair's biggest miracles was in getting money out of the federal government on nefarious grounds.

OK, so that's not so big a miracle. It's common, as a matter of fact.

Here we go. . . . According to the Louisiana inspector general's office, one of Sinclair's biggest miracles was in almost getting away with not disclosing his criminal record on documents when he applied to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to run a halfway house.

Hang on. That's not a miracle, either. We're talking about bureaucracy, and we're talking about Louisiana. The miracle is that somebody noticed.

This guy and his church are running short enough on miracles that they might be in Dutch with the Federal Trade Commission, too.

FROM THE (Baton Rouge) Advocate this morning:
The report by the office of state Inspector General Stephen B. Street Jr. said Bishop Ricky Sinclair of Miracle Place Church also used people — ordered by the courts to attend a church-affiliated halfway house — to perform work clearing land and building a new home for Sinclair, his wife and family.

In a prepared statement sent via e-mail, Sinclair denied any wrongdoing.

“I have read the Inspector General’s report, and the accusations against me are simply not true,” he said. “Miracle Place and Ricky Sinclair have been serving the people of this area for over 20 years, and we will continue to serve them to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ.”

Street said Sinclair’s fraudulent activities date to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and continued after Hurricane Gustav in 2008.

“You’re not talking about questionable claims here,” Street said.

“You’re talking about blatant, fabricated and deliberate fraud — from scratch in many cases, where they just made things up.”

He said it was “particularly reprehensible” that the fraud was committed against the backdrop of two natural disasters.

Street said the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louisiana State Police and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of the Inspector General assisted with the investigation.

The findings have been referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for possible criminal prosecution, he said.

The report alleges that Sinclair collected $121,281 from FEMA for labor costs for operating his church as a shelter during Hurricane Katrina but spent only $39,950 paying workers. He kept the remaining $81,331, the report says.

I HAVEN'T lived in the Gret Stet since Ricky Sinclair still was a two-bit drug dealer, yet I knew the guy is an ex-con. And, according to the story, all his tracts tout that the guy's an ex-con.

HECK, even Pat Robertson told the entire backslidden world, via his 700 Club TV show, that Bishop Sinclair did time for dealing dope. Yet the Gret Stet of Loosiana couldn't figure out a thing until the inspector general noted that Sinclair and some associates "failed to disclose past criminal convictions, as required, when they applied to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to operate the halfway house program."

Some would call Sinclair a moron for that one. I'd merely say that he was just
(so far, allegedly) implementing the first half of "be ye therefore wise as serpents." In other words, you have to know what you can get away with.

In the Gret Stet, that would be a considerable amount. The "and as harmless as doves" population ain't what it should be.

It's where self-government goes to eat well, clog its arteries and die of a heart attack.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pssssst . . . Eve! Take this smart phone

If you want to learn about modern life -- especially postmodern life -- look at your smart phone.

Because if your life . . . er, your smart phone, is anything like the deal one Omaha man got, congratulations! You're a officially a member of a club born when Eve bought the serpent's line about that apple.

If not that Apple.

IT'S ALL in the book of Sprint, Chapter 4G (as told to the World-Herald):
For two days in late July, Monty Poland searched Omaha for something that didn't exist.

Poland, 39, had just purchased a new smart phone from Sprint, the HTC Evo. The handset, purchased at a discount with a new contract, cost Poland $275, excluding a $100 mail-in rebate.

It was loaded with features, including bundles of applications, the latest version of Google's Android operating system, a touch screen, dual cameras and wireless Internet that could be channeled to make the phone a wireless hot-spot.

Poland discovered those just fine. What he couldn't find was a place to use a feature Evo has that few other smart phones possess: the ability to connect to Sprint's 4G wireless network.

He tried to access the network from many places. At his home near 72nd and Giles Streets? Nope. In downtown Omaha? No way. At the La Vista Sprint store where he purchased the device? Not even there.

That's because even though Sprint proclaims Evo's 4G capabilities on in-store signage, the company's website and in commercials, 4G service isn't available anywhere in Nebraska or Iowa.

The term 4G stands for “fourth generation,” meaning the latest and fastest version of digital mobile functionality. It is superior to 2G, which was introduced in the early 1990s, and to 3G, which dates to around 2002.

Having the latest and most reliable technology is key to companies' profitability, because smart phone customers are hungry for faster mobile Internet connections to stream video, download applications, or “apps,” and browse the web. Mobile phone companies engage in heated battles to reach pacts with network providers while investing billions in the updated networks.

But in the end, all the whiz-bang features need to work.

“It's like buying a laptop computer with supersonic speed, but the local Internet provider doesn't offer supersonic Internet connections,” Poland said. “Why spend the extra dough to buy something you can't use?”

After two frustrating days, Poland revisited the Sprint store and asked a manager why the 4G connection wasn't working.

Poland learned that 4G wasn't available in the Midlands. In fact, it is available in only 48 U.S. markets, of which the closest is Kansas City, near Sprint's national headquarters in Overland Park, Kan.
OVERPROMISING -- and, alternatively, getting suckered -- is what we do as children of the first consumers, who believed Satan when he advertised that "your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad."

I'll bet the scaly SOB stiffed 'em on the 4G service, too.

The thing is, we never learn.



In fact, our entire Western economy is built upon the fact of our permanent placement in planetary special ed. Let's just say it's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Men World

AND THE hell of it -- literally -- is illustrated by what Monty Poland did when Sprint offered him a full refund: He turned it down.

Which explains why America's churches are so empty come Sunday.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The press' big secret that never was

Journalists are human . . . fallen creatures . . . craven . . . eager to go along with the "cool kids."

And they'd just as soon not have all their shortcomings paraded around for the world to see and their credibility to rue.

I'll alert the media.

THING IS, says Jay Rosen of New York University, they'd just spike the story. This, from his PressThink blog, on how Politico let the cat out of the bag, then stuffed it back in there and threw the sack in the river of denial:
As everyone who pays attention to the news knows by now, an article appeared in Rolling Stone this week by freelance reporter Mark Hastings that would up forcing the resignation of General Stanley A. McChrystal as commander of American troops in Afghanistan. Hastings had been invited to hang out with McChrystal and his staff and was witness to their contempt for the civilian side of the war effort, which he reported on. It was a shock to everyone in Washington that McChrystal would make such a blunder, and the press began immediately to dissect it.

The Politico was so hopped up about the story that it took the extraordinary step of posting on its site a PDF of Rolling Stone’s article because Rolling Stone had not put it online fast enough. In one of the many articles The Politico ran about the episode the following observation was made by reporters Gordon Lubold and Carol E. Lee:

McChrystal, an expert on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, has long been thought to be uniquely qualified to lead in Afghanistan. But he is not known for being media savvy. Hastings, who has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for two years, according to the magazine, is not well-known within the Defense Department. And as a freelance reporter, Hastings would be considered a bigger risk to be given unfettered access, compared with a beat reporter, who would not risk burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal’s remarks.

Now this seemed to several observers—and I was one—a reveal. Think about what the Politico is saying: an experienced beat reporter is less of a risk for a powerful figure like McChrystal because an experienced beat reporter would probably not want to “burn bridges” with key sources by telling the world what happens when those sources let their guard down.


Right. And that’s exactly what Gordon Lubold and Carol E. Lee did. They revealed one of political journalism’s state secrets: beat reporters have a motive to preserve key relationships, so they often don’t tell us everything they could, which makes them more reliable, more predictable, in the eyes of the powerful people they cover. They were being good Politico people by asking: how could McChrystal and his staff be so unsavvy?

And Andew Sullivan picked up on it. “Why, one wonders, have we not heard a peep of this from all the official MSM Pentagon reporters and analysts with their deep sources and long experience? Politico explains…” Then he cut to the passage from reporters Lubold and Lee that I began with.

Meanwhile, Thomas Ricks, formerly a beat reporter covering the military for the Washington Post, made a similar observation at his blog for Foreign Policy magazine:

Reporters doing one-off profiles for magazines such as Rolling Stone and Esquire have less invested in a continuing relationship than do beat reporters covering the war for newspapers and newsmagazines. That doesn’t mean you should avoid one-off reporters, but it does mean that they have no incentive to establish and maintain a relationship of trust over weeks and months of articles.

Our reveal is looking pretty good, isn’t it? Gordon Lubold and Carol E. Lee let us in on a little trade secret. They have no motive to make it up. Lee is a beat reporter herself, qualified to speak on the subject. Lubold has covered the military for years. Politico trades in this kind of observation; it was founded to reveal some of journalism’s “state secrets.” Tom Ricks, a former beat reporter for the Washington Post who also covered the military, says pretty much the same thing: beat reporters have an investment in continuing the relationship so they are less risky for a powerful figure like McChrystal.

And then, the next day… the reveal disappears. The Politico erased it, as if the thing had never happened. Down the memory hole, like in Orwell’s 1984. The story as you encounter it online today doesn’t have that part (“would not risk burning bridges…”) in it.
THIS is only "news" because too many in the journalism profession have convinced themselves they're special, an opinion not shared (to the chagrin of The Daily Blab) by much of their audience.

And, by Jove, you don't tug on Superman's cape. Or put Clark Kent's little secret under a banner headline on the front page.

Unfortunately for convenient little fictions, it's already all over
Facebook. It was all over Facebook decades before there was a Facebook.

Episode 1, Season 1 of
Lou Grant was all about it (above). That was 1977. And it wasn't the only time this phenomenon has wormed its way into the popular imagination.

We all know journalists -- or, at least, of journalists -- who are "in the tank" for someone or something. The same goes for reporters who hold back to preserve their "access."

No one likes to be the kid who's always left out. We all crave approval, even from all the wrong people, and we, as a rule, enthusiastically play "the Game."

It takes courage to go against the grain, to be the lone wolf. It takes even more courage to be a truth-teller when doing so is going to cost you big time.

Sure, your editor will praise you for your big "get," but will he or she be so pleased with you when you start getting scooped week after week on all the "everyday" stories, and a few big ones, too? "Access" isn't nothing in a competitive environment.

In the military, they give out medals for heroism because humans, by their nature, aren't. Valor is extraordinary; we recognize that.

Ditto with major journalism awards, like the Pulitzer. True truth-telling, even in journalism, is exceptional.

It's the reason we have heroes. It's the reason journalism students of my generation were filled with visions of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bringing down a president. Of the
New York Times and the Washington Post risking all to publish the Pentagon Papers.

And then Woodward became an editor at the Post . . . and started writing books where he got unprecedented "access" in return for putting the stories born of that access . . . in his books. Later. And not in the Post. Tomorrow.

Journalists? Playing "the Game"?

Who knew?

MOST ALL of us, that's who. At least those of us vaguely familiar with the concept of "original sin" and fully in touch with what true gutless wonders we're fully capable of being -- and how utterly ordinary that is.

In my opinion -- which, to the surprise only of journalists, matches that of scads of folks -- the story here isn't that Politico quickly ran outside to fetch their dirty underwear off the clothesline. The story here, instead, is more like "Whom do they think they're fooling?"

Only themselves. And that's my final answer.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thoughts on a snowy day near Christmas

We tend to talk about the hard times now upon us as if they were a destructive force of nature. A financial hurricane that has come to swamp us like Katrina did to New Orleans.

AH, but it wasn't Katrina that swamped New Orleans. Katrina was a low-grade Hurricane Betsy -- at worst -- by the time she reached the Crescent City.

New Orleans drowned because people, first of all, had been encouraged to build in dumb places over the decades. And, second of all, New Orleans drowned because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built really, really crappy levees which they didn't improve and raise to counteract the city's slow subsidence into the primordial ooze that is the Louisiana delta. (Americans' hastening of and reluctance to ameliorate that sinking feeling is another story covered here.)

Likewise, the economic pickle we find ourselves in right now is anything but a force of nature. Strike that -- the mess we now face is a force of human nature.

Basically, we got greedy. A capital sin that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when the serpent told Eve "ye shall be as gods."

ADAM AND EVE ate the apple. We, on the other hand, bought the apple on credit. From Whole Paycheck. To which we traveled in a big honkin' SUV.

Then we sat down in our McMansion to eat the forbidden fruit while watching Desperate Housewives on our HDTV.

We wanted what we couldn't afford, while business wanted more profit than it had a right to and government kept the gravy train a rollin', even when taxpayers refused to foot the true cost of the services they demanded.

OUR ECONOMY -- our insane expectations, built upon the shifting sands of avarice -- has turned out to be, pretty much, a Ponzi scheme worthy of Bernard Madoff , and we have no idea how to unwind the whole thing without lots of people getting hurt really badly.

The last time our economy was this bad -- lots worse, actually -- we at least paid lip service to the kinds of values that can help a body get through a really rough patch. We at least had a culture that, more or less, reflected those values. That sensibility.

Today, we march to the poor house to a hip-hop beat, singing the praises of bitches, hos, bling, f***in' and thuggin'.

This may not go well.

WE NEED a revolution. Not like Lenin and Marx, but of the heart.

Then, perhaps, we might get some "change we can believe in."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Everybody's crooked deep down

"Say it ain't so, Joe! Say it ain't so!"

It's the refrain of the modern age . . . and of the postmodern one, too.

So, let's see here. Who or what is the latest revered person or institution revealed to be a fraud -- or, in the words of one of my favorite Derek Webb songs, "crooked deep down"?

I THINK this Washington Post story might begin to shed some light:

Some of Major League Baseball's greatest stars, including pitcher Roger Clemens and outfielder Barry Bonds, are linked to the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in a report released today by former Senate Majority leader George J. Mitchell.

The report also names pitcher Andy Pettitte, outfielder Gary Sheffield, shortstop Miguel Tejada, who was traded Wednesday by the Baltimore Orioles to the Houston Astros, and dozens of other current and former players, many of them All-Stars.

"For more than a decade there has been widespread illegal use of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances by players in Major League Baseball, in violation of federal law and baseball policy," the report says. "Club officials routinely have discussed the possibility of such substance use when evaluating players. Those who have illegally used these substances range from players whose major league careers were brief to potential members of the baseball Hall of Fame. They include both pitchers and position players, and their backgrounds are as diverse as those of all major league players."

Mitchell said during an afternoon news conference in New York that each major league team had at least one player linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs during the period that he investigated.

"The response by baseball was slow to develop and was initially ineffective, but it gained momentum after the adoption of a mandatory random drug testing program in 2002," the report says. "That program has been effective in that detectable steroid use appears to have declined. But the use of human growth hormone has risen because, unlike steroids, it is not detectable through urine testing."

Mitchell said that he and his investigators interviewed former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski four times and interviewed former trainer Brian McNamee three times. Players accused of use were given the chance to speak to Mitchell and his investigators but, almost without exception, declined, Mitchell said.

SAY IT AIN'T SO! But, of course, it probably is. Almost assuredly is.

What? You're surprised?

Why, in Heaven's name? It's an old story. One of the oldest, in fact. The only thing that changes is the increasing sophistication of our fraudulence -- in whatever endeavor -- in the face of increased scrutiny, media saturation and a 24-hour news cycle.

So now, scratch out Joe -- as in "Shoeless" Joe Jackson of the "Black Sox" scandal -- and enter "Say it ain't so, Roger! (or Barry, or Andy, or Paul, or Jason, or Gary, or Jose) into your Palm Pilot. According to the big report, they were all juiced, and the big leagues were all about seeing no banned substances, hearing no talk of banned substances or speaking nothing about banned substances.

Of course, when you turn on Fox or ESPN or whatever, what you get is a non-stop PR machine for the major leagues, where all the players ooze High School Musical: The Baseball Team, everybody's a humanitarian, and all those feats of athletic derring-do are solely the result of weight training and Wheaties.

Yeah, and the United States does not torture "enemy combatants," either.

AND HOW ABOUT that Roger Clemens? He's a regular Sheriff Andy Taylor and Mother Teresa, all rolled into one folksy, Texas-sized package of immortality.

That is, if Andy of Mayberry ever got illegal shots in the ass from the likes of characters like this, as reported by The Smoking Gun:

Deprived of a Serpico-like source among the Major League ranks, Mitchell, a former U.S. Senator and federal prosecutor, relied heavily on information provided by a pair of key sources: Kirk Radomski, a former New York Mets clubhouse attendant, and Brian McNamee, who once worked as a New York Yankees strength coach and personal trainer for Clemens and Pettitte.

Additionally, Mitchell's investigators were provided information gathered by federal and state agents who have probed the notorious Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), as well as a nationwide steroid distribution ring that has been probed by the Albany, New York district attorney's office.

According to the report, McNamee told Mitchell that he began injecting Clemens with steroids in 1998, when the pitcher was with the Toronto Blue Jays and that the athlete's performance "showed remarkable improvement." In subsequent years, McNamee said, he also injected Clemens with human growth hormone and testosterone at the athlete's New York City apartment.

McNamee also told Mitchell that, at Pettitte's request, he injected the Yankees pitcher with human growth hormone in 2002, when the lefthander was on the disabled list with an elbow injury. Like Clemens, Pettitte declined Mitchell's request to meet with him.

McNamee, 40, is an ex-cop who recently began cooperating with federal investigators after being confronted with evidence that he received steroids from Radomski and was apparently acting as a "sub-distributor." The report notes that he has been "debriefed extensively by federal prosecutors and agents," who confirmed that McNamee's statements to Mitchell were consistent with those information previously provided to government investigators.

While working for the Yankees in October 2001, McNamee was questioned by Florida cops in connection with the alleged sexual assault of woman in a St. Petersburg hotel pool. The woman claimed the attack came after she unknowingly ingested GHB, the so-called date rape drug. Prosecutors later declined to press charges against McNamee, who cops said was found naked in the pool "thrusting himself" into the groggy woman.

INSPIRING, AIN'T IT? Delve deeper into TSG's excerpts from the Mitchell Report and be even further inspired . . . to throw up.

But then again, I'm probably being a tad hard on Roger and the boys. I'm a fraud, too. Crooked deep down.

And so are you.

But the problem with fraud on such a major-league scale is that, in a world where people, against all odds, want to believe in something -- even if it is in a bunch of grown men playing kids' games for millions of dollars a year -- poor schmucks keep getting taken for saps. That wears on a person.

That wears on a person's psyche, it wears on a person's heart, and it ultimately wears on a person's soul. What it does, drip by acidic drip, is eat away at our ability to trust. It destroys our ability to think anybody anywhere isn't a complete fraud and isn't playing us for fools.

It, like all serious sin, fractures our relationships with one another and turns up the noise level so that the small, still voice of God gets harder and harder to hear. And it makes the world just a little bit more "crooked deep down."

I hate it when that happens.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Be careful with your dreams. They may come true.

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue. And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true.

Harold Arlen wrote it, and Judy Garland lived it to a nightmarish end at age 47.

Sometimes, over the rainbow, the dreams that come true aren't all what they're cracked up to be. And you better be careful about those dreams that you dare to dream, lest they really do come true.

And break your damn heart.

RIGHT NOW, it's starting to look like Louisiana State's football coach, Les Miles,
has an appointment to meet the dream of a true Michigan Man. Miles has the chance to try to fill the shoes of his old coach and mentor, Bo Schembechler, after Lloyd Carr has given up on trying to do just that.

And this grand opportunity to try to go home again comes as Miles and his LSU Tigers chase after a national championship. Could there be anything better than that?

Sure, doing that at your alma mater. Being a hometown hero back in the place you count as home.

Be careful of your dreams. Sometimes they only partially come true.

Can that count as one definition of "nightmare"? I think so, and I know a little something about that.

When you think you have it made, it's important to remember a couple of things: S*** happens, and people can be real jerks. It all falls under The Fall. You know, Adam, Eve, serpent, apple.

Ever since The Fall, we've dealt with sin,
exile, death and chaos. Our dreams are subject to all of those, which quickly can turn them into nightmares.

And sometimes, you think you've landed yourself a really sweet gig. The powers that be tell you how much they love you. They tell you how much they need you. They pay you a nice chunk of change. All of this happens right at the point where you say,
"I'm livin' the dream."

Then, of course, life intervenes. Unless you are exceptionally charmed, things don't always go quite right. You encounter slackers, backbiters and screw-ups. Sometimes, you are one -- or all -- of the above.

And then, to rip off another popular song:

Baby, baby
Where did our love go?
And all your promises
Of a love forever more?

REMEMBER POPE FM? That was an occasional series of posts I did about a Catholic FM station I really worked at, though the name has been changed to protect the guilty. In 1999, I thought I could be there forever.

I'm not there now. It's The Fall,

See, I loved that station, even though the programming wasn't always my cup of tea. I learned a lot, and I did a lot of good there, and I think I made a "religious" station just a bit more accessible to people who don't live in church . . . and who don't see life as a never-ending progression of bad liturgical music and stern church ladies.

The Catholic Church pretty much has been in disarray ever since the Second Vatican Council, despite that council having been much needed. What I learned from my "dream job" is that the folks who think they have the answers on how to set her straight again are pretty screwed up themselves.

Misplaced priorities and toxic spirituality have no ideology. The center did not hold, and one lunatic program director and several crises of conscience later, I was out of a job. The alternative would have been worse.

Still, I felt as though I'd been through a divorce. A nasty divorce from someone I once
had loved.

I HAD SEEN borderline-crazy and completely wrong things done there in the name of Jesus Christ, by the people who ran a radio station that professed to have the Catholic answer. I had just seen the crazy underbelly of, and cold cynicism within, a tool of the Church I sought out as a refuge 17 years ago.

I almost lost my faith. The last thing I did as I gathered up my things and walked out of my office for the last time was to pitch a crucifix on the floor. What had gone on there under Jesus' dying gaze, the indefensible that had been defended in Christ's name -- indeed, under the nose of Jesus Himself in the Pope FM chapel
tabernacle -- was scandalous and a sacrilege.

I had come to believe that not only did the Church not have the answer, it didn't even have a clue.

Do you know how that feels? Do you know what it feels like to have something precious to you start to leave an exceedingly bad taste in your mouth?

It feels like The Fall. And it breaks your heart.

I am still Catholic, by the grace of God. I finally internalized the reality that the Church is not Pope FM, nor is it the flawed men who lead it. Pope FM is a flawed evangelist for the Church; the bishops are compromised shepherds who sometimes neglect their flock.

I am a Bad Catholic, trying to get to tomorrow from today. Intact.

We all are The Fall.

AND THE TROUBLE with our dreams is they sometimes come true . . . and aren't nearly so dreamy. I hope Les Miles thinks about that before leaving a pretty decent gig for his "dream job."

We all know that coaching is a do-or-die, cutthroat kind of profession, all the noble collegiate bromides aside. Boosters are cold, and fans are nuts -- I know this, I are one. A fan, that is. Don't have the scratch to be a booster.

If Michigan were to betray a loyal and true Michigan Man -- or if the loyal and true Michigan Man were somehow to betray it -- could Les take it? Could a coach's coach make the necessary halftime adjustments to his broken heart?

Aye, there be the rub.