Archive for the ‘People’ Category

You Go, Michael Vick

President Obama re-ignited the flames of a “controversy” that seemingly is bound to smolder forever. I like animals, especially dogs. I’m neither a fan of the President, nor the NFL. But I’m with Obama on this one.

Every time Michael Vick takes another step that does not evidence failure on his road to redemption, the self-sanctimonious crowd spins into action, wasting no time, sparing no vitriol, to kick him and kick him again. This is expected from single-issue liberals, especially the limousine type, but the battle has been joined from the right, which proves just how utterly confused this story has become.

Let’s start with Tucker Carlson.

“I’m a Christian, I’ve made mistakes myself, I believe fervently in second chances, but Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did [it] in a heartless and cruel way,” Carlson said. “And I think personally he should have been executed for that.


Did he really claim belief in second chances, a “fervent” belief based on his Christian faith, and in the same sentence suggest Vick should have been executed? It’s safe to dismiss this as provocative simply for publicity’s sake. I mostly enjoy Carlson, but he willingly sacrificed credibility for media whoredom. Lost in the blitz (pun intended?) is another human, God’s creature, objectified in the cause of self-aggrandizement.  Shame on Tucker Carlson.

Let’s not forget the lefties who can’t resist similar temptations. They are also in it for the fund raising. But are the donations gathered for the “cause” or to maintain their livelihood? What would they do if they weren’t living on the dole? These self-interested “advocates” also view Michael Vick only as an object to be used for their own advancement, not a living, flawed, human being just as they are. Shame on them too.

Allow me to answer the complaints.

1. Animal Cruelty is an unforgivable sin

Hogwash. Cop killers become causes célèbres (e.g. Mumia Abu-Jamal, FALN). Terrorists’ public images are rehabilitated (e.g William Ayers, Gerry Adams, Yasser Arafat). Baby killers are virtually worshipped. Sex offenders, obligated to register and continue paying for their crimes after serving their time, have defenders of their civil rights. But abuse an animal and there is no redemption. This is insane. I reject the elevation of animal life above human life.

2. We should all be sick of pampered celebrities

I’ve written before about not being enamored of celebrities. They are often self-important buffoons who receive inexplicable special treatment. That, however, is not a capital offense. They also are sometimes targeted for high profile prosecutions to “send a message” to the masses. This is a favored tactic of the IRS, some argue their most effective enforcement mechanism. So celebrity can cut both ways.

It’s safe to say no one would be engaged in this “issue” were Michael Vick not a public person. My bottom line is this: he did his time. What he did was despicable and should always be condemned. But we have more to gain corporately from a rehabilitated sinner. Those screeching the loudest expose pure self interest, masquerading as concern. Like Tucker Carlson, my faith informs my belief in redemption. Unlike him, and all the others, my beliefs must be more honest. I’m not willing to sacrifice them, or a second chance recipient, for an exercise in self-absorbed self-sanctimony.

In the article referenced above, I wrote:

I’m always wary of presuming to “know” public people, and of consequently ascribing unwarranted character, or lack thereof. The parts of their lives which aren’t necessarily guarded are too often carefully choreographed.

I am skeptical of reading too much into celebrity mea culpas. They are usually quite transparent but, even when seemingly genuine, reading another’s heart is impossible. Reading a practiced performer’s heart is even more so. While acknowledging the difficulties, Michael Vick struck me as possessing real remorse. Nothing he has done since causes me to question that guess. Quite the contrary, everything has confirmed it. I’m not willing to judge him by a standard I too would fail. I’m pulling for him and celebrate his success without reservation.

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Memorial Day 2010

Sunday May 30, 2010

Dedicated to the memories of two men who exhibited unparalleled courage and dignity.  Finer men I never knew.

Uncle Bob Grundtvig (1931-2009), USN, an inspiration to all who knew him.

My dearest friend, Mike McLaughlin (1945-2008), USMC, who proved the adage: once a Marine, always a Marine.

May God Bless you both, your comrades in arms, and your loving families.

CBS Sunday Morning ran a piece this morning about the Van Doren family of Clyde, Ohio.

When the Van Doren brothers returned from World War II they volunteered to place flags on Veteran’s graves near their home in Clyde, Ohio. They had no idea this would become a tradition carried out by Van Dorens for years to come. 1

This year, three generations from the family placed over 1,200 U.S. flags at veteran’s graves from the Civil War to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  As flags are set, they pause briefly to announce each fallen hero’s name with due reverence.  The leader of this year’s crew was seven years old when he first participated in the ritual. My favorite segment was him being asked, “Are you obligated to do this” and his response: “It is a privilege.” 2

Watching this story, including the very young grandchildren learning the same values through participation, brought forth the emotion that accompanies indescribable gratitude.  I have deep appreciation every day, but especially this weekend, for all those who served and their families — more than ever for those who gave their lives on my behalf.


  1. Direct link may not lead where expected after this week, because it inexplicably leads to URL containing “1998/07/19.”
  2. Quotes from memory, not verbatim, but accurately capture the sentiment.

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Remembering Wayman Tisdale with Admiration

While flipping channels a couple of weeks ago, I stopped briefly on CMT and heard Toby Keith’s “Cryin’ for Me (Wayman’s Song),” a tribute to Wayman Tisdale.  It was the first I learned of his passing and, after looking up the news, I reflected on my memories of the man.

Wayman Tisdale played basketball at Oklahoma when my passion for the college game was very high, shortly after my own high school playing days ended.  His game was outstanding, his smile was infectious, his love of God and life were unmistakable, and he was immensely charismatic.

I’m always wary of presuming to “know” public people, and of consequently ascribing unwarranted character, or lack thereof.   The parts of their lives which aren’t necessarily guarded are too often carefully choreographed.  With Wayman Tisdale,  there was a genuineness which seemed rightfully to beg such cynicism be set aside.

He  so seamlessly integrated the different aspects of his life that it is unimaginable to me it could be anything but authentic.  The ease with which he moved from speaking about basketball, music, or his faith was inspiring. Never contrived, he exuded a passion for the life God gave him.

I’m not sure where my need to mention him originates. He was a public person I admired; but I’m not much enamored of celebrity and he was  a stranger to me otherwise.  Maybe that’s it. His magnetism impressed despite his celebrity, and I wish there were more public people like him.  I hope it brings a smile and some measure of comfort to his family that there are probably countless others, strangers like me, who will always remember him as fondly as if he were a personal friend.

May God bless Wayman Tisdale, and bless and comfort his loving family. And thank you, Lord, for sharing him with all of us.

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