#WeCallBS Movement Needs To Learn How To Play Politics…

I was happy to see this past weekend the public vigils and ceremonies honoring those who were slaughtered in Parkland last week…sorry, but what else can you call it other than slaughtered?…at the same time, as so many have regarding this and so many other things…maybe they proved me wrong about how long the Parkland tragedy will stay in our public consciousness…in my last post I made a point of writing that it wouldn’t take long for us to move on…to disregard any lessons or political changes that could have come from last Wednesday’s events…how school shootings have become the new normal…a senseless, but accepted part of our society…we all hold our noses and just move on…

this time it might be different…this time the students, not just in Parkland, but in many other cities and small towns, have added their voices to the national conversation over gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment…and to political campaign contributions and the National Rifle Association…and this is where as students, the #WeCallBS movement will find a massive hurdle…as strong as their will is…as loud as their voices shout…many are too young to vote…and that is absolutely the defining issue in the #WeCallBS movement vs. the NRA and congressional democrats and republicans…all of these strong young voices won’t resonate with the members of our congress because they are in no danger of losing their seat…losing their NRA money…because of a largely too-young-to vote movement…

If the #WeCallBS movement wants to make a difference it will need to have money and it will need to know how to spread that money around…just like the NRA does now to advance their warped view of the 2nd Amendment…Congress and the office of the President are up for sale…and no, it didn’t just start with this president and this congress…there is a saying that goes…

“To be the man, you have to beat the man”.

When it comes to gun legislation in America, the NRA is the man…they have the most money for buying votes…the largest membership, otherwise known as voters…and can influence any election, any ballot question, any vote by congress they feel crucial to their defense of the 2nd Amendment…they can financially support a candidate just as easily as run attack ads against those they consider a threat to their way of life…right now the NRA is the 800 lb. gorilla behind the 2nd Amendment debate…in the House and especially in the Senate…

#WeCallBS needs to have the ability to challenge them…financially and in voting membership…they scream they know about government…they now need to learn about back room politics and how to win and influence members of Congress…simply, they need to know which Senator’s seat…or which Congressman’s gun debate vote is up for grabs, and put it in their pocket, not the NRA’s…and when our leaders like Florida’s own Marco Rubio whose own seat is Encrusted  with so much NRA money say, “Let us pray.”…#WeCallBS needs to shout, “Let’s change, what’s it gonna cost us?”…

Marches on Washington, prayer vigils, and social media are great starts…those things alone won’t unseat a Senator, won’t change a Representative’s vote…#WeCallBS has to become more than just a movement to save students lives…they will need learn how  real politics works to silence the 800 lb. gorilla in the room…if #MeToo can effect change, so can they…


I Really Hate It When…

Is there such a thing as a journalistic code of ethics in sports? If not, when and why did it disappear?

Does anyone share my irritation when the sports media uses “sources close to”… or “sources with knowledge of”… as their way to substantiate information used in a report or column? To be honest, if you won’t name the source, then you’re report simply amounts to here-say. 

…and if you’re a source willing to give information, go on the record.  If you won’t go on the record…again, how can you be considered a credible source?

I know, this is only sports, grown men playing kids games, not the Watergate Scandal and it’s confidential informant Deep Throat. That kind of journalism brought down a President and earned a Pulitzer Prize for The The Washington Post. Much of today’s sports commentary is just not that important. And if an important event occurs, whether an actual sporting event or something in an athlete’s personal life, be it legal or illegal, just about any caller can get on the air and present him or herself as an expert, someone with inside knowledge, someone with a phone, someone given the use of public airwaves to say just about whatever they want. Mostly unsubstantiated. Not vetted. Just like information we get from some members of the media.

Consider the 2014 release of the Eagles DeSean Jackson. The original NJ.com report quoted only “sources within the organization” regarding Jackson’s ties to 2 Los Angeles gang members. The story also quoted the “infamous” source within the organization saying the team was concerned about Jackson’s influence on younger players.

Meanwhile, Derrick Gunn from Comcast Sports Net broke this story wide-open with information from his well-founded sources:

“I talked to someone (?) this morning that basically said that when a player is one of your highest paid players in the Eagles’ organization, especially with the new culture and the new attitude, the new direction they’re trying to build now in Chip Kelly’s regime,” Gunn said, “they expect you to hold yourself to a certain standard both in the locker room and outside the locker room as well.” 

You could almost see Chip Kelly’s hand in D. Gunn’s back manipulating his mouth. 

“And there’s a lot of stuff (really, someone and stuff?) that probably hasn’t even come out about DeSean yet (and it never did) that we’re going to find out in the days, weeks, months and even a year from now that we’re going to learn about, but he was not the kind of player in the locker room that the Eagles wanted to have an influence on the younger players.” and…“I was told by a couple of sources that he did not have the best work ethic in the locker room.

So D. Gunn, gives us “someone?”,”a lot of stuff?” and “couple of sources?” See any Pulitzer Prize winning journalism there? I realize that DeSean Jackson getting cut is an old story, but this story says more about the not so ethical environment that exists in the world of sports talk radio, internet reporting, and even TV news and talk shows. And let’s not be naive, sports teams use these guys all the time to advance their own agenda. And the media knows it, sometimes they have to walk a thin line between what information the team wants released versus the opportunity for future stories.

Remember all of those book reports and term papers we did in school? If we wrote that something was a fact, we had to list the source of that information, be it encyclopedia, newspaper article or some other source. “A lot of stuff” wouldn’t have been accepted as fact, and “unnamed source” wouldn’t fly as a reference. When did members of the media decide that this fundamental rule no longer pertained to their reporting?

I know, I can hear the battle cry now, ” We have to protect our source. If sources can’t remain anonymous then we won’t be able to get the information needed for the article. After all dear reader (or listener), it’s all to keep you better informed.” I have a different theory. How about the lack of naming a source comes down to a couple of simple factors…

…the unwillingness of the reporter to keep digging for a credible source who will go on the record and the competition between news agencies to….get it first!

Honestly, I can’t see how it matters who got a story first with the way the the news is reported, especially in the case of sports, where stories are hashed and re-hashed by multiple hosts over and over again on multiple media outlets for days and weeks at a time.  After beating a story like a rented mule for a day or two, most fans don’t remember or care who got the story first. And if you listen to multiple stations as I do, often times you can recognize the same caller on those stations voicing the same ideal or opinion. Over and over and over…To be honest, it must be difficult for some sports talk hosts to show up for work everyday given the repetitive nature of their industry.

So in the true spirit of some of today’s media employees…

“Unnamed sources with first-hand knowledge of the decision, say the Sixers are considering trading this year’s first pick in the draft Ben Simmons, to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Cavaliers 2017 and 2018 first round picks. Someone said he believes the Sixers need more assets if they are going to make a run at the 2022 playoffs. The source also said Sixers coach Brett Brown couldn’t be happier and is excited about starting the 2016 season with the same team that finished last year.”

There, see how easy that was? I didn’t even get off the couch or call anyone. And if it doesn’t happen, I’ll just blame it on my source, that I can’t name. You heard it here first!

Like many sports fans I listen to sports talk radio during the course of my workday. I understand that interviews are a part of the job, but isn’t it somewhat disingenuous for a host to call for the dismissal of a team’s general manager or openly criticize an athlete’s play (pick a player, any sport) then fail to bring up those criticisms when interviewing that front office person or athlete? Consider the end of Phillies G.M. Ruben Amaro’s tenure with the team. Talk show hosts openly called for his immediate dismissal daily, then complimented him on his “honesty and his availability to the fans”. A typical interview might consist of a question or two about what to do with Ryan Howard, the teams current home stand or road trip, and maybe a hot prospect in Reading or Lehigh Valley. In other words, largely vanilla and lacking any controversy, and filled with clichés like, “one game at a time”, ” I can’t say enough about him”, or “he always gives 110%.”

Some members of the media bill themselves as the voice of the fans…and I guess that’s true, however with that claim comes the requirements of objectivity, accuracy, fairness, and accountability. And adhering to those principles are where some members go off the rails.

Don’t be too hard on yourselves sports media, at least you’re not sensationalizing the weather like our local TV/radio stations or The Weather Channel.

PA House Bill 1947…

…and the protests of the Catholic Church.

I never planned to use this blog site as a forum for a discussion on social or political issues. However, events in Harrisburg last week and at the church I attend have given me a reason to reconsider that plan.

The issue at hand is PA Houuse Bill 1947 which amends current child sex crime laws in the state. The bill was overwhelmingly passed (180-15) by the House in April and discussions in the Senate were held last week, much to the dismay of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.

The Bill and my understanding of it:

House Bill 1947 would allow any survivor of child sexual abuse who has not yet reached age 50 to seek civil justice and file a lawsuit against perpetrators of sexual abuse and other responsible parties which permitted the abuse-i.e., a priest and a diocese or a teacher and a public school district. The current civil statute of limitations gives victims until only age 30 to bring a civil lawsuit.

House Bill 1947 would also eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sexual abuse crimes going forward, and would eliminate state law immunity for public schools which act in a negligent manner in permitting the sexual abuse of children.

To sum it up: Both Public and Private sectors would be liable both civilly and criminally for all sexual abuse crimes until the victim reaches the age of 50 once the bill is signed into law. But, only private sector institutions, such as the Catholic Church could be held retroactively, possibly allowing many out-of-date suits to now be filed and opening the Church up to additional financial liability. In addition, the threshold for suing public institutions are lower than those in the private sector due to the law of sovereign immunity.

Recently many churches in our Archdiocese read a letter from Archbishop Charles Chaput voicing the church’s objections to the bill from a political and financial viewpoint.

Before I start to comment on this, I’ll give you my personal disclaimer: I am not Catholic. My wife is however, and we’ve raised our kids as Catholic. I attend church almost every Sunday, however I chose not to convert to Catholocism for personal reasons.

I will include some excerpts from the letter if you haven’t seen it along with my thoughts on its content and what I feel is its meaning. I found the content of the letter to be an insult to my intelligence and obviously, extremely self-serving:

“A bill is currently pending in our state senate, HB 1947, that poses serious dangers for all of our local parishes and for the ministries, charities and schools of our archdiocesan Church.”

  • Is Archbishop Chaput telling us that due to the possibility of increased financial liability from victims of clergy abuse that church programs may be cut and churches or schools closed? And why if money is donated through the church to fund a specific charity, would that money go anywhere other than to that charity?

“…and especially to oppose any retroactivity provision in the civil statute of limitation covering sexual abuse.”

  • Eliminating the retroactivity portion of the bill would eliminate any currently out of date civil liability. The church would clearly benefit financially from maintaining the current statute of limitations. The Archbishop doesn’t even mention the criminal portion of the bill which tells me the objections are clearly driven by money.

“All of us are rightly angered by the crime of sexual abuse. Over the past decade the Church has worked very hard to support survivors in their healing, to protect our children and to root this crime out of Church life.”

  • The church has absolutely worked harder to make children safer. Parishioners who take part in ministries such as the CCD Program and other ministries are now screened more responsibly and must be certified that they have not been charged or convicted of this heinous crime. As for Priests or Deacons, I don’t know what the process is, I only hope it is enough to weed out any child predators.

“The problem with HB 1947 is its prejudicial content. It covers both public and religious institutions — but in drastically different and unjust ways. The bill fails to support all survivors of abuse equally, and it’s a clear attack on the Church, her parishes and her people.”

  • Simple question. Would the church be satisfied if the bill inPublic and government institutions are covered by the laws of Sovereign Immunity. It’s not a new concept and the church knows that. They choose to ignore it however in any discussions of the bill. Today, the general rule is that public institutions such as our state and federal government have immunity from actions that arise while carrying out their official government duties. Otherwise, most claims aren’t precluded by sovereign immunity. If I understand this, would child molestation be included in carrying out official government duties? Would the Vatican enjoy the laws of Foreign Sovereign Immunity? It does, and don’t think they won’t use it. HB1947 is not an attack on Catholic parishioners. Predator priests and the criminal actions of hiding them by church hierarchy are however.

“This is not just an archdiocesan problem. In other states where similar legislation passed, local parishes have been sued, resulting in parish and school closures and charity work being crippled.”

  • Is that because the courts have already ruled on the constitutionality of recent changes in other states? They did and it is. And again, the Archbishop uses the threat of school and parish closures as a result of this bill passing and not the abusive acts or mismanagement of the church. He doesn’t get it.

“Please act now to contact your senator, and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and urge them to oppose HB 1947 and any effort to impose civil statute retroactivity.”

  • Again, only mention of the civil portion, or the financial liability of the bill, not the criminal portion. As I said earlier, I think this is just totally and wholly a money issue. In the past insurance companies may have paid for part of any past settlements, but there is a growing sentiment that these actions are deliberate and heinous and should not be covered under a church insurance policy. For once, I agree with the insurance industry.

This bill is a Pennsylvania House Bill, however similar bills have already been passed in other states including California, Minnesota, and Delaware. 

In an article written by The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, a Catholic advocacy group, and posted on their website:

“In Delaware, where a retroactive law was adopted, more than half of the individual parishes in the state were sued. One parish in Delaware was hit with a verdict of over $3 million. Very few could afford to go to court; none were able to defend themselves on their own. Financially, they had no choice but to join a group settlement without establishing the facts of individual cases. The Diocese of Wilmington had to close two struggling inner-city Catholic schools because diocesan funds were drained paying out settlements. The diocese had to lay off 10 percent of its workforce, and shut down or severely cut back on its Catholic Charities programs that help all people regardless of creed.”

Two immediate questions come to mind. Were the displaced students transported to a different parish school (on public school buses, which is what happened at our parish), and again, why would the Catholic Charities program be affected. Up to 65% of the money received by them comes from the federal government. Is PCC saying the money was used for paying lawsuits incurred by the church because of its predator priests? If so, the government needs to investigate its relationship with the church. In my opinion, that action borders on the criminal.

The sexual abuse of children in this country continues to be a hot button topic, unlikely to go away anytime soon. And it shouldn’t. The abusive actions and cover-ups at both Penn State University  and the Catholic Church should not be forgotten. No matter what your opinion of HB1947, take the time to understand the issues involved and the ramifications of any law changes that might take place in your state.

The opinions I have expressed are mine alone based on how I understand HB1947 and interpret the letter from Archbishop Chaput. Please feel free to comment, agree or disagree, on the contents of the bill and/or the letter.


My Facebook Friends…

…Disney World and a tongue-in-cheek look at the role one man’s Facebook friends and Disney could possibly play in his cremation and trip to the after-life.

Let me start out by assuring anyone who cares…

I am not dying, at least that’s what the doctor told me at my last check-up. I’m not even sick…that I know of, although as I’m writing this I am fighting a nasty little cold.

However, without trying to be too morbid, I thought this might be a good time to take a look at my current state of affairs…being of somewhat sound mind and…well, we’ll skip the body part.

Most of my affairs are in order…a will, life insurance, enough to pay off the house and the vacation club with some left over so those left behind can have some fun, and finally, the cost of whatever send-off my family feels I’ve earned. About the only thing left is to decide where I end up. Location, location, location. More on that later in the post.

Now if we believe that Facebook is a microcosm of our place in society…could it then also be a predictor of who will be there with us…you know, at the end of it all.

Let me start by saying that my Facebook identification is a sockpuppet. Or, am I a sockpuppet? Who knows? Generation Y’ers and their urban dictionary terms. I chose my I.D. simply as a tribute to my family pet. Nothing more, nothing less. Is it any different than someone who has an account but uses a different profile picture? Aren’t you also hiding your true identity? Enough said…moving on.

So if Facebook is a true snapshot of who I am…it appears I am overflowing with all of 12 friends. And if I were to really crunch the numbers you would see that it’s not even an extremely diverse group. For the record…

…there are 2 family members…there are 2 friends of a family member who I wouldn’t even know if not for said family member…4 friends from my son’s days in scoutingand 4 who I know from work. Sure, is there more, would there be more who show up for my send-off and a post soiree? Probably…there’s always more family members who might come out of respect for the left behind…but that’s more of an obligation than a friend thing. If I were a betting man, which at that point it would be obvious to all…I no longer would be, having gone all in and lost…I’m guessing the left behind members of my family would draw a bigger crowd of their own friends than the definitely departed. The folks I know are more of a “Let’s just go to the reception and skip the wedding crowd.” (A note to my wife here…save the cheap ham and Velveeta Cheese and those little packs of mayo you get from the Wawa for this crowd…oh and the RC Cola too, one can only though.)

So where exactly does that leave the former me? I would hate to take the chance of having any kind of a service that wouldn’t draw enough people to carry me out of the church for my final ride. And as my Facebook account stands today, they might have to grab some neighborhood kids to help with that. Or maybe even check Craig’s List for some help…just be careful because there’s some real weirdos on that site. Anyway, no worries…there should be enough money left over from insurance to cover the cost of hiring anyone.

And if I can circle back to my earlier thought on location. The plan is for the wife and I to spend our twilight years in Florida, maybe working part-time for our favorite publicly traded company… Disney. That and to eat out every night. Doing that however will probably reduce even further my number of Facebook friends who might come for my final big day. (Honey…if anyone from PA decides to come, let them use the time share for a couple of days). With most of my internet friends probably unwilling, uncaring or just not able to combine a short Disney vacation with my final adieu, the outcome is now clear…at least to me…

cremation! There’s no sense in using up good real estate just to drop an over-priced box with decaying old me in a deep hole. And let’s be honest here…if you believe that only my spirit will enjoy my after-life in Hea…wherever…then by all means, take what parts can still be used and flame-broil the rest. Ashes to ashes…dust to dust and all that. The only decisions to be made are where I end up,what I end up in, and how many people would like a take-home keepsake to remember the event. To make things easier for my family I was able to locate some options for them to consider…

I know what you’re thinking…isn’t that the Stanley Cup? And aren’t those contact lense cases? It is and they are. Are they somewhat garish? Yeah, probably, but I like them, and it is final my wish after all. Assuming I’ve made it to my retirement place in sunny Florida, I’d also like to have some of me spread around in my favorite places. Again, I’ve provided some options…

Anyone who knows me…and there are so few, knows I love 2 things…vacations at Disney World and a really good conspiracy theory. If you notice the top 2 photos, one is from The American Experience in Epcot and the other from The Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom. The conspiracy?…

I would like to be put into these shows. That’s why I need maybe a rogue employee (more of a prankster or a scamp) who can place me into…

  • the jacket pocket of Teddy Roosevelt in The Hall of Presidents and…
  • the jacket pocket of Mark Twain or Ben Franklin in the American Experience.

Obviously it would take multiple people to pull this off, giving birth to the conspiracy. My wife can provide the late me, lovingly(?) packed in 2 of the colorful contact lenseimage cases as shown above. If they’ve been able to hide Jimmy Hoffa for all of these years, how hard can this be? My wife is extremely trustworthy, and I obviously won’t be talking, so former or current Disney employee, it will be up to you to recruit anyone you need to execute the deed. So…

anyone have a guy who knows a guy?

And finally…part of my preparation for the hereafter will be changing my dietary needs ahead of a possible oncoming zombie apocalypse. We can’t just ignore it…it’s the elephant in the room. So, I have chosen to become…VEGAN! That’s right…veganism. A non-meat eating, lactose intolerant zombie you can feel safe to be around! A zombie to ride Space Mountain or see The Festival of the Lion King Show with. Just a walker…not a biter. Should an apocalypse occur before I make it to Florida…and you see me…heading north…TURN ME AROUND AND POINT ME SOUTH! And no pointing me in the wrong direction or taping a KICK ME sign on my back, or dressing me up in weird clothing for your own amusement. Don’t be that guy!