It had to be done

            The timing caught me off guard, but the “mutual agreement” between Virginia Tech and Head Football Coach Justin Fuente to part ways was inevitable.

            The timing was curious insofar as the buyout option on his contract goes from $10 million to $7.5 million on December 15th.   Reports indicate the two sides met in the middle and agree to a $8.75 million settlement.  Yes, I still consider $1.25 million to be a “lot of money.”  Of course, I am now in my mid-fifties and am officially justified in sporting the cranky old man attitude I have now sported for more than thirty years.

            Without hearing more, I am guessing the university wanted to avoid two things.  First, the lame duck “dead man walking” aura of having a coach stalking the sidelines over the last two games who was NOT going to be back.  I can see where that would be demoralizing.

            Secondly, I think they wanted to avoid the possible conflicts that could have arrived had the Hokies managed to rally and actually WIN those two games and qualify for a bowl!  After last week’s impressive performance, if Fuente’s charges had managed to close out with road wins at Miami and in Charlottesville it would have put us at 7-5 with a bullet—heading into a Belk/Music City-tier bowl.  It is hard to jettison a coach when his team is on a clear upward trajectory.

            With Fuente gone the Hokies can focus on football and not have to worry about the immediate future.  Former Hokie hell-raising Defensive Tackle J.C. Price will serve as Interim Head Coach.  That’s a far cry from the spiky-haired Freshman who damned near flunked out of school in the early 90’s after arriving in Blacksburg and spending most of his time drunk off of his ass, playing Nintendo.

            As for Fuente, yes I have been quite vocal about my displeasure in last year’s decision to keep him on board for what essentially amounted to a “trial year.”  That is bad management.  If the Hokies had over-performed this year and Fuente been retained, that was no guarantor of future success.  Neither would have any shortcomings been proof of future failure.  It is the long-term results and the reliable predictors which led me to the conclusion last year that we should cut ties with Fuente.

            What can I say?  At the time of the hire, Fuente seemed the best of the “hot” coaching candidates.  Before arriving in Memphis, the Tigers were 5-31 in a three-year span. But he posted a 19-6 record in the final two seasons of his four-year Memphis stay.  It included the development of a raw talent into an NFL quarterback (Paxton Lynch); earning Fuente a reputation as a “quarterback whisperer.”

            It was hard not to be excited after the first season.  Using a JUCO transfer QB, the Hokies won the coastal and played the eventual national champions from Clemson to a one-score game in the ACC title game.  In the Belk Bowl the Hokies staged a super second-half comeback to beat Arkansas.  They finished 10-4 and were ranked #16 in the country.

            From there the story sours.  It will be hard to revisit it, but here goes. 

***Losses to all 3 in-state FBS programs in 3 years

***6 losses to unranked teams while ranked

***5 losses as a double-digit favorite

***3 straight bowl losses

***6 losses of 21 points or more

***Worst home loss in 45 years

***VT’s only losing season since 1993

***Recruiting that was ranked in the bottom third of the ACC for three consecutive years.

***Streak of 27 consecutive bowl games snapped

***Streak of 16 consecutive wins against UVa snapped

Unfortunately there is more.  We had three starting quarterbacks transfer out of the program in a three-year period.  That is unheard of, especially for a “quarterback whisperer.”  Yes, the transfer portal has made such moves easier than ever before.  But there was a conspicuous pattern under Fuente’s tenure of quarterback dissatisfaction.  That is not a recipe for success.

            And there are other intangibles to consider.  I have said it many times. If you are a college football coach with the charisma of a turnip, you had DAMNED sure better win a lot of games.  Thems the rules.  Fuente did not.  Fans of Indiana University put up with a LOT of shit from Bobby Knight for years…until he started losing a lot of games.

            Add to this Fuente’s very closed-off nature of dealing with the press and other avenue of public outreach.  The program was much more shut off to the public compared to the Frank Beamer years.  Tech football is a marketable commodity and has to be repeatedly “sold” to the public.  The modern head football coach has got to have (at bare minimum) rudimentary marketing skills.  Or at the very least, designate those duties to someone who does.  Fuente fell short in both areas.

            Fuente’s very nature meant that he rarely showed any emotion on the sideline.  That’s fine.  Some of the great stone-faced coaches of the past (Tom Landry, Bud Grant, etc.) are proof that you can be stoic while still being effective.  But when you juxtapose this demeanor against the backdrop of frustration, well, it just felt to rabid Hokie fans that Fuente never shared the frustration with us. That is probably a petty thing, but it is a thing.

It is never easy replacing a legend.  Especially one who still lives a few miles from the stadium where you play.  Simply put, the minimum standard of performance that was set in Blacksburg was not reached by Justin Fuente.  It is unfortunate, since Fuente seems like a genuinely nice guy—a family man with good morals.  I wish it had worked out.  I truly do. And I enthusiastically wish him nothing but the best.

Now we will begin something that hasn’t happened in decades at Virginia Tech.  A full-bore public coaching Silly Season.  Fuente’s hiring was done quickly, sparing us the drawn-out process of bandied-about names, flight records checks and other assorted madness.

Drink up, fellow Hokies.  The next couple of weeks won’t be boring!

Another “life” not worth living

Democratic White Houses SURE love looking at people’s lives primarily through the lens of how much Government can help them.  And their efforts make North Korean Government propaganda look even-handed in comparison.

We remember the odious “Life of Julia” from the Obama administration.  It told the story of a woman who never had to make a crucial decision in her life, thanks to her friendly government. It highlighted a life where the fictional hero simply moved from one government program to another before they assumed room temperature.

Now we are being blessed with the “Life of Linda.”  Ostensibly, this examines how wonderful life would be if we abandoned all fiscal discipline and spent trillions of dollars we don’t have on projects that enrich the constituencies and supporters of certain members of Congress.

The result is the same.  Another mediocre existence where Government is so invasive that it is impossible to do anything where they are not the primary agency.  People are given enough to survive so they can contribute to the collective.

I suppose my libertarian version of the “Life of Chuck” wouldn’t be as compelling.

1. Chuck is born.

2. Chuck dies.

3. In between, the Government leaves Chuck the f*ck alone so long as he is not interfering in the individual liberties of others.  They maintain a system of justice which Chuck rarely notices, since he is not a lawbreaker and always honors the contracts and agreement he enters—and the ones with whom he voluntarily interacts do likewise.  They maintain a military which Chuck rarely notices because our shorelines are safe.  Hell, they even build a road or two.  But for the most part, they are invisible, and are only available on those rare occasions when Chuck needs them for a specific purpose.  Otherwise, Chuck is left largely to his own devices to determine his successes and failures—because every significant life contains a good amount of both.

Doesn’t have a “hook,” does it?

It is fair to note that in both of these government masterpieces there is not even the slightest mention of a father.  There’s a reason for that.  In this idyllic society, the Government is the father.  Evidently they HATE competition.

I can’t wait for senility to set in so crap like this doesn’t disgust me.

Horse de-wormer begets horse sh*t

It’s one thing to witness the sausage being made.  It’s quite another to see legitimately poisonous ingredients tossed in alongside the pig lips and ass parts.

In their zeal to own the rubes, the mainstream media is spending their Labor Day weekend inventing stories based on their view of people living in non-coastal states.  Much like they highlighted two or three stories last year of people ingesting fish tank cleaner in an effort to ward off COVID, they’ve found their 2021 version of hydrochloroquine in horse de-wormer Ivermectin.

The narrative goes that bib overall-wearing hicks in flyover country are SO determined to avoid getting the COVID vaccine that they are latching on to tenuous reports about the efficacy of ivermectin in treating the symptoms.  This hits on too many stereotypes for the august media class to ignore.  They are now reacting with all of the dignity of a starving wolf attacking a three-day old pork chop.

The two most egregious violators are an organization that has a fairly-good reputation…and another whose reputation is shit—yet still gets gullible people to take them seriously.  The Associated Press reported that 70% of recent calls to the Mississippi Poison Control Center were from people who had ingested ivermectin to try to treat COVID-19.  A correction issued a short time later acknowledges that it was actually only 2%.  I’m just a silly yahoo from the foothills, but even I know that is not a “correction.”  That is a “refutation.” 

Given the AP’s business model, hundreds of local/regional outlets shared the original story.  It is unknown how many have shared the correction but it is substantially less.  Of course, that’s the way “fake news” spreads these days.  The unbiased Mainstream Media makes a “mistake.”  99% of the time it is a mistake that casts Republicans in a negative light.  If these were truly honest mistakes, then SOME of them would paint them in a positive light…law of averages, right?

But no.  These are mistakes borne out of a preconceived effort to make conservatives look bad.  Most of them are the result of journalists abandoning all professional discipline in order to “get one over” on someone they hate.

Of course they issue a retraction/correction, as if that makes everything better.  And of course that retraction is seen by about a tenth of the people who saw the original story.

Again…if these mistakes sometimes made rural conservatives look better than they deserve, you would have a point.  But they do not.  They primarily flow in one direction. That is because they are NOT “mistakes.”

Going even lower than the AP, enter the reliably-execrable Rolling Stone magazine.  The publication that has been at the center of two of the worst cases of journalistic malpractice in modern history is STILL churning out pablum that some are ingesting like so much ivermectin.

They were not content to err with a mere mathematical error.  Oh no.  They put out a story that would have made a National Enquirer editor wince.  They reported that an Oklahoma hospital was so overwhelmed with patients who had overdosed on ‘horse dewormer meds’ that gunshot victims were having to wait for beds. 

I mean seriously.  This reads like Proggie Fan Fiction. They picked up the initial details from a local newspaper.  But instead of taking the extraordinary step of calling the hospital to confirm the findings, they ran with it—with a few embellishments.  Of course, a quick call to the hospital would have told them they were treating NO such patients.  And had NEVER treated anyone with those symptoms.  Ah, but that would have shredded the narrative about stupid MAGA supporters slurping horse medicine and being hospitalized, preventing treatment of all of the rednecks who are being randomly shot because of all of the guns roaming around in Oklahoma.   I swear, I bet the writers got sexually excited while drawing this one up.

And the liberal Twitter Blue Check Brigade could NOT help themselves.  They shared this story with reckless abandon.  It was funny to watch their reaction hours later when the story was exposed as bunk.  Some were STILL trying to make it true.  Most just dirty-deleted their tweet.  A couple of honorable ones issued a mea culpa and took their medicine.

This story, and the vociferousness with which it was shared shows the true colors of the media and their allies. They gobbled it up and asked for seconds—and were completely incurious about the source.  That’s because they’re not hungry for the truth.  They are hungry for nourishment to feed their predetermined narrative.  They could NOT ignore a story like this which seemed to be the Holy Grail in terms of narrative-enhancing tropes that they could exploit.

It brought to mind another Rolling Stone hoax that checked off all of the same boxes.  The Duke Lacrosse case dominated the headlines in 2004. When it broke, the mainstream media sprang into action.  Soon, stories appeared in the Durham Herald-Sun about the “culture” of the lacrosse team.  Of course that means they were mostly rich white boys.  The Raleigh News and Observer even sent reporters to the Jersey suburb where two of the accused lived—taking special care to point out that the average home in the area sold for nearly a million dollars.  They featured pictures of the subdivision, lest anyone think they were making it up.

None of these stories were meant to bring about truth, perspective or facts.  They were meant to add to the myriad of things that already divide us.  They injected high-octane fuel into an already-combustible mixture of angst and desperation. The media wanted chaos to fuel sales.  And they wanted most of all to outrage people who’ve learned little else other than outrage.  It basically confirmed every stereotype that the writers and their editors held about certain groups of people.  As such, they abandoned all journalistic discipline and framed the facts in such a manner as to buttress their narrative.  Unfortunately, the ACTUAL facts told a much different story.

Even with that saga fresh in their minds, Rolling Stone STILL didn’t give a damn.  In 2016, they gave us a pile of journalistic dreck which will stand the test of time.  The “UVa Rape on Campus.”  It was a story of an alleged rape on the campus of the august school.  And it was a lie.  The same issues played out.  The writers were told a story that appealed to their stereotypical prejudices. When one read the article, it was like each character introduced came straight out of central casting.  Everyone wearing clearly-defined white hats and black hats. Sound familiar?

The worst part is, there are rarely consequences for those who intentionally spread exaggerations and falsehoods in order to demonize people they do not like.  Yes, Mike Nifong was disbarred for prosecutoral misconduct in the Duke Lacrosse case, but the media ghouls who intentionally poured high-octane fuel on a raging fire paid NO price.  The same sanctimonious Senators who cast aspersions on Brett Kavanaugh with no corroborating evidence are (mostly) still in the Senate.  The jackasses who tried to immediately cast teens wearing MAGA hats as evil incarnate have still been braying about other BS.

At this point, if you happen upon an ivermectin/“horse dewormer” story, your best bet is to assume the story is BS.  That it is merely another attempt by sophisticated urbanites to guffaw at “those Neanderthals” while sipping their Caramel Macchiatos. And you will be correct far more often than not.

From My Libertarian Heart, Get the Damned Vaccine! Please

I am noting some familiar feelings and thoughts sliding back into my consciousness as COVID-19 makes its unsurprising rebound.  Yes, I said “unsurprising.”  The virus has mutated and will continue to.  Why?  That is what viruses do.

It feels like the combination of malaise/ennui/depression I had last fall when case numbers were rising and people were calling me a literal murderer because I simply asked for scientific justification before new restrictions were implemented. I don’t want to go back there but the same people still have social media accounts. I am working VERY hard to tune them out, but I fear it won’t be enough.

The numbers suggest the Delta variant is quite communicable, but not quite as lethal as the original strain.  But that second fact is doing little to soothe the nerves of people who have (unfortunately) become quite accustomed over the last year-and-a-half to seeing the dark cloud behind every silver lining.   I swear there are people who seem positively *giddy* when they say things like, “We’re gonna hafta close the restaurants again!” 

As cases increase more and more are falling back on calls for people to wear masks whenever they’re in the same Area Code as another human.  The President of the United States of America is mulling a proposal to require proof of vaccination for doing something as innocuous as driving to another state.  And there DO exist people who want to empower the most powerful force on the planet with the authority to FORCE people to get a shot.

I am libertarian.  My credo is “mind your own business and keep your hands to yourself.”  I cannot imagine a simpler philosophy.  But just like there are proverbially no atheists in a foxhole, there are evidently no libertarians during a pandemic.  At least no popular ones.  Of course, if I wanted to be popular I wouldn’t be a libertarian.

As a libertarian, I will fight and die for your right to NOT have to put something into your body that you do not want.  That I even have to type that is depressing.  Yet we have become so consumed by fear that there are otherwise-normal people who support empowering an entity with near-limitless power with the authority to force you to have a substance put into your body.  Picture a dystopian film about a futuristic society where faceless agents hold down the hero and forcibly inoculate him with something he doesn’t want.  Over the top?  Yes.  But there are people who functionally want to do this to protect themselves from a malady with a post-vaccination IFR of 99.97%.  Pre-vaccination, it is a mere 99.7%.

For those of you who are bullish on mandatory mask policies and the like, you have NO right to look down on those who are skeptical.  Why should people NOT be skeptical?  The same people who told us “two weeks to flatten the curve,” later said, “We’ll get back to normal when the vaccine is approved.”  Then they said not until it was available for all adults.  Then they said it would have to be received by an overwhelming majority of adults.  Also, these are the same people who told us masks were “useless” —then later said they were “critical.”  And these SAME people said they would not trust a vaccine developed with the previous President in the White House.  But with a new President, that makes the vaccine OK.  The question should be, why is EVERYONE not at least a little skeptical? There is copious justification for asking questions about a substance that’s about to be injected into you when the people who insist you get it have been so mendacious in the past.

That having been said, every single bit of evidence that is available screams one conclusion.  The vaccines WORK.  Now, that does not mean they are 100% effective.  Nothing is.  Ever.  For anything.  If 100% safety is your expectation, you will always be disappointed.  That is a fool’s errand and an authoritarian’s dream scenario.

I’ve been vaccinated.  I got all of the information I could and concluded the risk was worth it. If you reached a different conclusion, that is fine.  I would NEVER force you to do something you did not want to do.  But for those of you on the fence, I urge you to reconsider.  The vaccines work.  Even if they do little to prevent the spread of the new variants, the numbers show they are quite effective in easing the symptoms and avoiding long-term complications.

At the same time, one of the biggest incentives to get the vaccination is a return to normalcy.  Telling people they are still going to have to wear masks, socially distance and all of the other niggling things they’ve had to do for the past year-plus, even if they get the shot—is one of the best ways of making sure they don’t.

So please.  Get the shot.  If not for yourself, get it in order to help ensure this fall’s High School and College football seasons can proceed as scheduled. Let’s think about what is REALLY important here.

Mask Me No Questions

There has never been a situation in human history where wearing a mask did not offer SOME statistical advantage against the spreading of an airborne disease. The question is, does the advantage you gain justify GOVT mandating that activity?

With the Delta variant giving them the cover they need, some of our leaders are floating trial balloons this week, suggesting that if COVID-19 cases continue their incremental increase, we could be partying like its April-2020 all over again.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control issued updated guidance suggesting that even vaccinated people should wear masks indoors. But by the CDC’s own numbers, the chances of a vaccinated person even contracting COVID is one in 2,640. That is your chance of getting a disease that has a post-vaccination IFR of 99.97%. These are what we call “astronomical odds.”

I have an extremely high threshold when the answer is GOVT enforcement. The advantage gained by the mandated activity must be obvious, substantial, and nearly-universal. There is no way that such numbers justify mandatory masking. If you think they do, then you can justify almost anything. In the world of medicine, this is about as close to 100% as you are going to get when dealing with a new virus.

A quick reminder. We have been told at various points in time by our GOVT that:

***Masks are useless — and they are essential.
***Protests were super-spreader events — and they were safe enough, because of the intent.
***The lab-leak theory was racist and xenophobic — and that it was the most plausible explanation.
***Any vaccine developed while Trump was President was going to be rushed and dangerous — and that refusal to take the vaccine is akin to randomly killing grannies.

Here is something MORE insulting. The science that the CDC is using to justify their mask-wearing recommendation for the vaccinated comes in the wake of a large July Fourth party in Provincetown-Massachusetts. This survey of fewer then 200 non-diverse people is being used to conclude that those who have been vaccinated and have COVID can spread it just as easily as the NON-vaccinated. This study only explored those who were tested. It is safe to assume that someone who did NOT have symptoms never bothered with being tested. So the sacrosanct CDC is basing a recommendation covering 330 million people on a singular incident using TERRIBLE methodology. This is insane.

Another insult came yesterday afternoon. When asked about the vaccine, President Biden said, “It’s still a question if the federal government can mandate the whole country, I don’t know that yet.” Let me help you out President. The answer is “no.” If the GOVT can force you to put something into your body that you may not want, then their power has no limits. I am holding back LOTS of expletives here.

I have been MORE than generous and patient with GOVT leaders on this. I have sublimated a lot of my instincts and common sense to follow the herd on many things. I stood on the insulting floor stickers like a good boy. I got the vaccine. In short, I have done everything asked of me. And it is still not enough. It is never enough.

I was called a conspiracy kook (and much worse) when I opined several months ago that there were going to be leaders who were very reluctant to surrender the authority they’ve had for the past year because of the pandemic. Sometimes I hate being correct.

I will not be the equivalent of a trained monkey and participate in COVID Theater. In real life, Charlie Brown does not always keep trying to kick the football, convinced that THIS time, Lucy is being honest. In real life, after being fooled a couple of times, Charlie Brown tells Lucy where she can insert that football. So be it with masks and floor stickers.

CRT is not theoretical. It’s intentional.

One of the defenses of Critical Race Theory is that it is just a “theory.”  Hell, it says so in the title. It’s not only a college discipline, but a grad-school-level study of race and it’s impacts on American institutions like law and politics.

I think we are giving CRT an amount of gravitas it does not deserve.  Based upon my observations, CRT is less of a theory and more of a method.  It’s method is to see EVERYTHING primarily through the prism of race.  Even things that have nothing to do with race, social interactions, etc.  It develops not racial consciousness nor racial awareness.  It develops racial *obsession.*

My Granddaddy had a saying.  (He actually had a LOT of sayings…most of which would earn me a Facebook timeout.).  He said if you looked hard enough for shit, you would find it…just about anywhere.

All this falls under the more family-friendly theory that “you see what you are looking for.”  And if you train your brain to see race everywhere, you will find it.  You will also find the racism you are looking for. It all has to do with your Reticular Activating System.

The RAS is a part of the brain that processes trust. The conscious part of the RAS takes in 40 bits of info per second…while the subconscious part takes in 40 MILLION bits of info per second.  The RAS’ function is to filter for what is important to focus on.  That is a critical role, since otherwise there would be too much information for your brain to focus on.

The most amazing thing about the RAS is that it can be reprogrammed to focus on certain things and to filter out certain things. Quite often that is achieved through repetition.  If you are familiar with the “Tetris Effect” this will ring a bell.  A group of students were tested by letting them play hours and hours of the popular game.  Afterwards, the students reported that they began seeing Tetris blocks EVERYWHERE!  When walking down the street they could “see” buildings being turned over to fit into the puzzle their brain had focused on for 48 hours.  They had “re-trained their brain.”

            It is not difficult to see how a constant focus on race can produce similar results, leading a person to see it in all things, no matter how innocuous. If you train your brain to see race as the main factor in everything, well then, race quickly becomes the main factor in everything. It is only natural that you then conclude that everything that has ever been done, is being done and ever WILL be done includes that same myopic focus on race.  The thought that race is *not* a factor in something is simply not allowed in your world. In your world, the mere suggestion that we judge people on their character and not their skin color is DefCon Level 1 Blasphemy.  MLK is truly dead.

            Don’t get me wrong.  The polar opposite of this would also be bad.  Refusing to see race’s role in obvious things like prison sentences and the like is also a fool’s errand.  That’s why when I tell people my goal is to be “color-blind,” I am quick to point out that this is not a literal thing.  The goal is NOT to “not see color.”  The goal is to make sure it does not play a central role in how I regard a person.

            And yes, I will point out that the obsession with race that CRT attempts to engender is the same obsession with class that Marxists hope to promote.  Honest to God if you replace “race” with “class,” then your standard CRT syllabus is nearly indistinguishable from Das Kapital.

            I am not in favor of the spate of laws states are passing to prohibit CRT-based teaching.  Those can be easily circumvented and (like all other laws) will most certainly have unsavory unintended consequences.  This is a battle over the soul of public education.  Will we utilize an approach that hyper-focuses on immutable characteristics?  Or will we instead hyper-focus on the limitless opportunities each child brings to the table?  Opportunities that will NOT be met if they are taught to view themselves and others primarily by their skin color.

Same As It Ever Was

Reading over the transcript from the President’s speech last night, there are few surprises.  It was boilerplate Big Government worship.  Kinda disappointing from someone who used to be a moderate Democrat.  But of course, Biden isn’t the one in charge now.

The most disappointing part came in something that was not in the transcript.  It appears our President broke out one of the worse modern-day canards in order to justify further erosion of individual liberty.  To wit—the odious “fire in a crowded theater” gambit. 

History time.  The shouting-fire-in-a-theater analogy was written in a majority opinion by Oliver Wendell Holmes in Schenck v. US in 1919.  It was subsequently repeated by untold numbers of censorship apologists in the ensuing century.  What was it about?  The ruling allowed the Woodrow Wilson administration to throw a bunch of peaceful socialists into prison for violating the Espionage Act of 1917.  The alleged “harm” of these anti-war activists, clearly exercising political expression, was undermining recruitment efforts for World War I. 

The ruling which this comment supported has since been struck down as unconstitutional.  Another interesting factoid?  Holmes later denounced his own ruling.  He realized the license he had given people like President Biden to declare any portion of the Constitution null and void based on any extenuating circumstances they could imagine.

This has been the go-to argument for people who have issues with the breadths of the first two amendments to the Constitution.  If you are frustrated that the First or Second Amendments prevent all of your good ideas from being instituted, then you are just the kind of person the Constitution was designed to frustrate.

To further buttress his position, the President assured us that “no Constitutional amendment is absolute.”  Is that so, Mr. President?  Tell me…what are the limitations to the 13th Amendment?  Are there STILL cases where people can be forced into slavery?  What about the 19th amendment?  Are they cases where people can be denied a vote because of their gender?  This can be brought up about a number of other amendments.  You don’t get to tightly interpret the parts you like—then broadly interpret the ones you don’t.   That is wrong.

This is to say nothing of the flat-out lies Biden shared in his urge to make sure no one has a handgun capable of firing more than ten rounds.  Legislation that would target more than 80% of the weapons in current use is an “infringement,” no matter how you dress it up for defend it. 

I was hopeful that the answer to the chaotic Presidency of Donald Trump would not be a lurch to the far-left, with a near-limitless expansion of central government authority and constant erosion of individual liberties.  I was wrong.  And I have little hope that there is sufficient appetite in Washington (or anywhere else) for the maxim that the Government which governs best is that which governs the least.

This sucks.

Put Your Stickers Where Your Anal Swabs Go!

The next battle front in the Covid War will still be fought between those who want to live normal lives and those who want to be protected from practically ALL potential harm.

With lockdowns and overt restrictions fading away, the Safety-At-Any-Cost brigade will demand other restrictions, lest one of the dreaded VARIANTS finds its way into the air.  They will push for plexiglass requirements at restaurants and most any other indoor venue that has more than five people in it.

They will demand HARD PROOF of one’s vaccination status before attending an indoor sporting event or concert.  “Papers, please.”

They will push for the equivalent of Chinese Anal Swabs for anyone bold enough to do something like fly overseas.

They will INSIST that stores do not take up the cute little Kindergarten stickers that tell all of the good little boys and girls where they should stand or they will be punished.

They will force people to undergo temperature checks whenever they walk into a new building.  Or maybe from room-to-room.  You can’t be too careful, you know.

The same people who screamed “Wear the Damned Mask!” are NOT going to relinquish their chance to impact your life. Not when there is fear to be pimped.

Yes…I am employing hyperbole here…but probably not as much as you think.  There is a sizable section of the population who operate under the silly notion that we can eliminate most all societal risk.  Subgroups include those who are scared of their own shadows and others who get a VERY real charge out of being able to influence the behavior of others.

We have to beat them to the punch.  Before this big transition begins, normal people are going to have to demonstrate that we will NOT stand for a world where we have to have our temperature checked more than a dozen times a day.  We will NOT abide having to show vaccination papers in order to walk into an arena and watch the Virginia Tech Hokies choke in another tournament game.  We are NOT going to stand in the spot with the cute piece of tape just because it makes you feel better.  And if we run a business, we are NOT going to put the insulting damned stickers on the floor in the first place.

In short, we are not going to fashion a society based on the fears of hypochondriacs nor the wet dreams of control freaks.  Freedom>Safety.  Always.  Because if there is no freedom, all of the safety in the world is meaningless.

Rushed Judgements

About 99% of those reading this have long since formed their opinion of Rush Limbaugh.  His death this morning, and reading some early reactions, convince me that I might be one of only a handful of people with a nuanced, mixed opinion of the man and his legacy. 

So I come neither to canonize Rush nor bury him.  But I am NOT exaggerating when I say he was the most influential person in the last fifty years in an industry that I have devoted most of my professional career to.

Rush Limbaugh was Trump before Trump.  A big-talking, bombastic figure who exaggerated, bloviated and irritated.  But people listened.  Those who loved him listened.  Those who hated him listened.  He was all of these things, good and bad, but one thing he NEVER was—was boring.

When he was gaining a big audience in the late 80’s, I was graduating college and began working full-time at a station in Danville-Virginia.  It was a conservative area—but steeped with southern politeness.  Rush’s parodies and harsh language was deemed too shocking for the local audience, based on the reaction of the sales people at our station who were marketing the show.  Our station was the first in the market to carry Rush.  That initial reaction quickly melted away and 12-3pm quickly became our most lucrative time of the day to sell.

This is sort of “inside baseball” for those of us in radio, but Rush Limbaugh changed the way AM Radio was marketed and sold.  AM was dead before his show.  Major markets had all but abandoned it.  But Rush and his team put together a unique network of very small stations in very small markets.  Then his talent took over.  Quickly those stations got a little bigger.  Those markets got a little bigger.  And within a decade, he had more radio listeners than any other person on the planet.  He quickly eclipsed Larry King.

When I heard about Rush Limbaugh I envisioned a conservative commentator who had a radio show.  When I actually HEARD Limbaugh, I instantly realized he was a radio guy who happened to be a conservative commenter.  Again—more inside baseball—but Rush’s diction, pacing, delivery and other voice attributes were near-perfect.  You cannot live in the radio business and not envy the pipes.  He had them.

Before the emergence of Rush’s radio show, you had a hard time finding conservative mores represented in mainstream culture.  The driving moral force behind most television, movie and other art was what left-wing values were more treasured. This was rarely overt, but popular culture clearly reflected a left-of-center perspective.  Rush immediately filled a void, speaking to people who sometimes felt that society at large didn’t regard them fondly.  Go ahead.  Call them dumb ‘ol rednecks if you like.  But they tuned in.  And the number quickly suggested that other demographics were tuning in.

Rush’s format was completely different.  It was not listener/caller-dominated.  Most of the content came from HIM.  HE was the selling point—not the callers.  Now it takes a hell of a personality to carry something like that but he did.  For more than thirty years.  Trust me when I tell you that carrying a three-hour live broadcast largely on extemporaneous speaking is a chore!

The empire he was able to build in such a short time was remarkable.  Limbaugh gave conservatives a national stage with his radio show.   I said it at the time and I will say it again—Rush Limbaugh was primarily responsible for the unprecedented Republican takeover of Congress in 1994.  He essentially ushered in a new age of politics.  Again, you can disagree with the politics, but you cannot deny the impact.

A few years later, Roger Ailes witnessed Rush’s popularity and saw a chance to market to that audience on the television side.  The results speak for themselves. Fox News (like them or not) has become a cultural force.

One of the mainstream media’s biggest issues with Rush was the same issues they have with Fox News, right-wing bloggers, etc.  They are proof that the old guard no longer has a monopoly on the flow of information.  This is the information age.  Information is power.  In democratizing political information, Rush will forever be reviled by those who once controlled it.

I most certainly did not always agree with Rush and I most certainly was not a fan of his style.  To be honest, he was a loudmouthed jerk most of the time.  I realize, though, that I was not his target audience.  Controversy sells.  Volume sells.  Drama sells.  Rush’s bombastic style and finger-pointing penchant was way too over the top for my tastes.  But beneath the bluster, the man knew his stuff.  Yes, you had to sit through some eye-roll moments, but there was substance there.  He correctly pointed out that the vanguard of left-guided movements like Feminism and Environmentalism were primarily the movement’s most partisan elements.  They were indignant about that.  Partly because he made it personal.  But mostly because he was 100% correct.

And to a lot of conservatives in the early 90’s, it was a welcome break from the norm.  Politically, the “norm” at the time was to have Ted Kennedy say something awful about you on the Senate floor—and that would be the only clip the newscast showed.  No rebuttal.  With Rush giving a voice of dissent, it amplified others that were being ignored.  Most notably, a young firebrand Congressman from Georgia named Newt Gingrich.

I am not going to bother checking Twitter today.  I’ve seen what some of the more unhinged leftists said about Rush when he was alive.  I can only imagine what they’re saying today so I will make sure that I keep it at that.  There are a few entities that seem to draw out the inner demon on the left—to make them say things that would make Charlie Manson wince.  Brett Kavanaugh was one of them.  But Rush Limbaugh was the Godfather.  The idea of equating “disagreement” with “hatred” wasn’t born with Rush, but it applied right up until his death.  And sadly, well beyond it.

I’m sure a lot of people will say Rush was the precursor to a coarsening of our political and social debates.  There is some merit to that.  Certainly things have only gotten more pronounced in those areas over the past thirty years.  And you could say that they reached their apex with the election of Donald Trump.  Rush was the first of the modern-day conservatives to fire back at people like James Carville—whose political rhetoric and attacks too often went unchallenged.  Maybe the pendulum has swung too far, but what is worse?  A society where one side is able to say most anything about the other—-or one where that other side has a chance to say something back?

Rush Limbaugh was a giant in the field of radio and in American broadcasting.  He pointed out thirty years ago that the American left was dominating discussion and he decided to do something about it.  He did.  Whether you think that is a good thing or a bad thing depends mostly on where you reside on the political spectrum.

As someone who was an indirect beneficiary of his essentially saving AM radio in the nineties, I will tip my cap.  As someone who has misgivings about monopolies on speech and opinions, I will nod my head.  But as someone who values basic manners, I will give a thumbs-down.

We now return you to your regular social media, where the opinions will be much less cerebral and nuanced.  🙂

Requiem for my hero

Nearly 47 years ago I was in a room at Danville Regional hospital after having my tonsils taken out. I was only seven years old…but I needed to recover QUICKLY!! Why? It was April 8, 1974—and I was worried I would miss Hank Aaron going for the all-time home run record.

Hank hit home run #714 on Saturday in Cincinnati off of Jack Billingham. That tied Babe Ruth. They sat him on Sunday, wanting him to have a chance to break the record when the Braves returned home to Fulton County Stadium. Their Monday night game against the Dodgers was going to be broadcast nationally—a rarity back then.

I had my tonsils taken out that morning and nurses shoved ice cream down my throat while I drifted in and out of consciousness. I REALLY wanted to be awake for the game that evening.

My dad was a welder. He was working on building an addition to The hospital. He was working on the roof that abutted the existing floor where I was being treated. He would crawl in through the window and eat lunch with me.

After finishing up work dad crawled in through the window with McDonald’s and hung around until the game started. I was still groggy but determined to watch. Thankfully, Hammerin’ Hank went deep his first time up, allowing me to go to sleep without worrying about missing anything. I slept until Noon the next day.

The next year, as I began my storied Little League baseball career, I did so with a Hank Aaron model Wilson A-2000 glove. Being eight years old, I was convinced that Hank himself had autographed the glove!

Suffice to say, I had no greater sports hero growing up than Hank Aaron. And being young it never occurred to me that my forebears would have considered it taboo for a little white boy from Southside Virginia to idolize a black man. Well, I didn’t see a black male. I saw an elegant athlete with the quickest wrists at the plate I have ever seen (to this day) who could wait forever on even the best pitch and hit it hard. I saw a man who always appeared to be smiling…who was gracious and humble.

I never thought at the time how significant it was to have a father who was raised in SUCH a different time who not only said nothing about my hero-worship, but actively encouraged it. That’s what made it so hard to learn later, while still a kid, that Aaron’s magical chase of Babe Ruth’s home run record had brought out some of the worst letters the US Postal Service have ever delivered. It was staggering the amount of abuse this man was subject to, based solely on the color of his skin. It most certainly was NOT about the content of his character, which was impeccable.

Just by being Hank Aaron, he was able to show an entire generation of little white boys that it was just fine worshiping the athletic skills of a black athlete. Today, we think nothing about such things. Yes there are still major race issues our society must address. But we are MUCH further along than we would have otherwise been because of super human beings like Hank Aaron.

There is an old picture of me I would give almost ANYTHING to recover. Mom took a shot of one of my games at Glenwood Elementary School, where I batted a robust .737 my senior year. Unconsciously, I modeled my swing after Hank’s. Mom took a picture of me during a sweet follow-through on a double. It looked almost EXACTLY like the famous shot of Aaron’s follow-through on his 715th homer. Both arms still over the plate—but the wrists (which generated super-human powers) were already fully bent, having sent another baseball on a light flight. It was my dream to get Hank to autograph that picture of me. Alas, it has been lost to the ages. And now we’ve lost Hank to the ages.

RIP, my hero. I’ll see you one day.

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