Archive for the ‘Prescient observations’ Category
Folks, when it rains, it pours.
While I was working on my previous update, I had written this about my favorite team, which are of course the Milwaukee Brewers. They are currently on a four-game winning streak, and I thought it worthy of celebration. So here’s what I said, moments before the news about Ryan Braun broke in Milwaukee:
The Milwaukee Brewers are on a post All-Star break roll, sweeping the Florida Marlins out of Milwaukee yesterday and winning all three low-scoring games due to excellent pitching (Friday’s starting pitcher was Kyle Lohse, Saturday’s was Yovani Gallardo, and Sunday’s was the rapidly improving Wily Peralta) by both starters and bullpen.
Let’s see how well they do against San Diego tonight, though I do think they should have an excellent chance as the Padres have won only two more games than the Brewers and are exactly the same in the loss column.
(Granted, it seems odd to quote myself.)
I wrote this prior to the knowledge that Braun had accepted a 65-game suspension and will consequently be out the rest of the 2013 season, forfeiting over $3 million of his 2013 salary. (Please see this link from Yahoo Sports for further details.) Which is why I pulled it out of the previous post, quoted it here, and now will have to discard all of that as the much bigger story is Braun’s upcoming absence for the remainder of the 2013 season.
Look. I’m someone who fully believed that Braun was innocent of using any performance-enhancing drug (or PED, for short). Mistakes can happen when it comes to drug testing; they’re rare, sure, but they still can happen, and it seemed plausible to me that a man whose physique had never changed, whose lifetime numbers (batting average, on-base-percentage, slugging percentage, etc.) had never changed, either, and who vehemently declared his innocence was worthy of defending.
It has also seemed to me, for quite some time, that Major League Baseball has a grudge against Ryan Braun. They are annoyed that he managed to win his arbitration case in 2012, and that he was never suspended at that time for PEDs. And they have continued to go after him since then, doing their best to vilify his reputation in the process.
So, what am I to think of this statement from Braun, then?
As quoted from the Yahoo Sports article by Jeff Passan:
“As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect,” Braun said. “I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed – all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”
This statement doesn’t really say anything, does it? Other than that Braun accepted punishment for unnamed “mistakes,” apologized for the “distraction” afterward, and wants to play baseball again, there’s nothing here for a fan of the Brewers to really hang her hat on.
This article by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel baseball beat writer Tom Haudricourt clearly states this about the Ryan Braun suspension:
Major League Baseball has suspended Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun without pay for the remainder of the 2013 season and he has accepted the penalty, meaning he was caught red-handed either buying and/or using performance-enhancing drugs.
The suspension takes place immediately, so Braun will be suspended for the final 65 games of the season, beginning with the Brewers’ game Monday night at Miller Park against San Diego. The sanction came as a result of MLB’s investigation into the infamous Biogenesis clinic, which was exposed as having sold PEDs to players after documents were released to various news agencies earlier this year.
The suspension also exposed Braun as a liar because he has stated many times that he never used PEDs and never wavered from that stance.
So it appears that Tom Haudricourt isn’t too thrilled with what happened here, either.
Again — as a writer, I am trained to spot inconsistencies. Braun’s story, as Tom H. clearly said, never wavered. Braun loudly proclaimed his innocence at every turn. Braun blamed the guy who collected the urine test for the reason it came up positive, and was able to make that stick, and doing so made it appear to me that Braun really was telling the truth. Especially as Braun hadn’t failed any other drug tests before, or since.
But there are other ways to cheat the system. Baseball itself knows that better than anyone, and fans — even good ones, like myself, who are aware of steroids and other PEDs and know something of their effects on the body — aren’t really able to fully grasp why someone like Ryan Braun, who seemingly has the world at his feet and has no reason to skirt the rules whatsoever, has now admitted to doing so.
Even if his admission has all the oomph of a non-admission, mostly because he hasn’t said exactly what he’s been accused of doing.
Baseball fans will forgive almost any player if he tells the truth about what he’s done. Andy Pettitte said he used HGH — human growth hormone — in an effort to heal from injury faster, and wasn’t suspended. Alex Rodriguez admitted to using unspecified PEDs a few years ago, and wasn’t suspended (though he may be now due to apparently using them again via Biogenesis). Fernando Vina admitted to using steroids when he was with the Brewers long after the fact — he was a broadcaster, by then — and no one has ever vilified him.
But when someone doesn’t admit it and apparently did use them — whether it’s Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, or Rafael Palmeiro — fans get upset. And then the player in question faces consequences, including shunning, booing, boorish behavior by the fans, or worst of all, exclusion from the Baseball Hall of Fame.
My attitude regarding PED use remains much the same as it’s always been. I think if you’re trying to stay healthy to play baseball, that’s a lot different than trying to cheat the system, which is why McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Bonds (if he really did use them) should be given a pass, as all of them had well-known health problems that steroids/PEDs may have alleviated. And if you’re willing to accept all sorts of adverse effects on your body, as seen by Lyle Alzado’s tragic death after his brilliant NFL career not so long ago, have at.
My particular problem with Braun isn’t that he used (or maybe didn’t use) PEDs. It’s that he still hasn’t come clean regarding that use.
I believe very strongly in redemption and second chances. But one of the things most people need to do before they can fully proceed with either is to be honest. With themselves. With the other important people in their lives.
So far, Ryan Braun hasn’t done this.
Like it or not, Braun is a public figure by the dint of his baseball stardom. That’s why whatever happened must be explained to those who’ve supported him from the beginning — some specific explanations, not today’s weasel-worded non-denial denial — the fans of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Until he does, he’ll probably face all sorts of unintended consequences of today’s admission. And he’ll keep on facing them until he’s finally, fully and freely explained just what happened here that’s bad enough for him to accept an unpaid suspension for the rest of the 2013 season.
Folks, I’ve been hip-deep in editing this past week — I’ve been doing a last-ditch edit of my novel, ELFY, and have decided to re-do some chapter lengths. I also edited a short project for a friend, and have consulted on two other projects . . . and as if that’s not enough, I prepared for a concert with the Racine Concert Band that was unfortunately rained out last evening, too. (I was to play my alto saxophone.)
So I’ve had plenty going on, which is why I haven’t written a blog in over a week, why I haven’t reviewed any books, either, and quite frankly, haven’t really had much time to even turn around. (Ask my friends, as they barely see me, online or off.)
At any rate, here’s what I think about this, that, and the other, July 2013 style:
The George Zimmerman trial stirred up a lot of bad feelings. The African-American community is outraged, as is completely understandable, that Zimmerman wasn’t held accountable for his actions by the Florida court system. The Hispanic community is upset because they mostly seem to believe that Zimmerman is a poor reflection on them. And many white Americans seem to believe that Zimmerman is a martyr and should be embraced at all costs.
While I completely understand how the public at large could have conflicting feelings — and these three segments of the American “melting pot” could feel in completely different ways — the fact remains that as Zimmerman was not initially charged with anything for over a month, many bits of evidence were completely lost. The prosecution didn’t have much to work with, which may be partly why they seemed to do such a terrible job in going after Zimmerman. And the laws of Florida are such that there was absolutely no way with the evidence the prosecution had left to work with that the prosecution could have ever gotten a jury to sign off on the charge of second degree murder, either, no matter how competent the prosecution had been.
I said on my Facebook page that I thought Zimmerman would not be convicted of second degree murder or the high degree of manslaughter, which came into play only in the final days of the trial and was ill-defined to boot, not because I think Zimmerman is an innocent — he’s not — but because the prosecution hadn’t proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Had the prosecution gone after something much more likely to have been understood by the jury, albeit with much less high of a profile than second degree murder, they would’ve charged Zimmerman with whatever Florida calls “reckless endangerment of human life” coupled with “unlawful use of a firearm.” Zimmerman most likely would’ve been acquitted of the last due to the way Florida’s laws are written, but at least the prosecution would’ve had a snowball’s chance in Hell of making the charges stick.
A sentence for something like that in Wisconsin to a first-time offender is usually anywhere between two to five years in jail coupled with the loss of the firearm in question. I think if the jury had been looking at something like that for Zimmerman rather than the lengthy stints in jail required for second degree murder or the high degree of manslaughter the Florida authorities were going after, they may have been able to consider the actual evidence in a different light.
All I know is, I’m glad there weren’t nationwide riots after the verdict was read, and that the jury’s verdict has been respected (even if not appreciated by vast segments of the population). Because truly, there are better ways to continue the conversation Trayvon Martin’s untimely death has prompted than to cause permanent damage to people and objects — like actually talking.
Edited to add:
A very interesting column by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane has this to say about the Zimmerman trial:
After Zimmerman’s acquittal, widespread dissatisfaction was expressed by black and white supporters alike who didn’t understand how an African-American teenager’s life could have so little value in the criminal justice system.
Without a video, the Zimmerman jury felt compelled to buy the defense portrayal of Zimmerman as someone just defending himself from attack, even though testimony showed he sought the confrontation by stalking the teenager in the dark of night. Zimmerman’s self-defense argument (not technically “stand your ground”) angered many black parents, who wondered how someone could be considered not guilty after initiating contact with a black teenager who ended up dead.
I agree wholeheartedly with Kane’s assessment, and think this is the main reason why the jury wasn’t able to do any more than acquit Zimmerman of what he’d been accused of — particularly because the evidence was definitely not there (something the prosecution must have known) for second degree murder due to the 45-day delay between the death of Martin and the arrest of Zimmerman.
(Now back to my original post.)
I’m also reading a really interesting book right now by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks called THE GREAT PARTNERSHIP: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning. I have found it most enlightening thus far, and may post some quotes from it soon.
So that, and watching baseball (thoughts about the 2013 Milwaukee Brewers and Ryan Braun accepting a 65-game suspension will be forthcoming, honest), and working are what I’ve mostly been doing this past week.
And because of all I’ve been doing in July, I didn’t get a chance to mention that I’d passed my third year of bloggery (is that even a word? ‘Tis now.) here at WordPress earlier this month. (Hip, hip . . . something?) But I hope things will have calmed down so much by this time next year that I will be able to write a much more proper celebratory blog — or at least an informative one — discussing what I’ve learned from blogging, my fellow authors, and you all . . . because I’m sure that post is inside me somewhere.
At any rate, thanks for continuing to read my blog despite the infrequency of my recent postings. I truly appreciate it.
Today, the United States Supreme Court struck down two laws, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) and California’s controversial Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in that state. With two different 5-4 rulings, the Supreme Court has affirmed that discrimination on the basis of whom people love is illegal — at least, if you are in one of the twelve states where gay marriage is legal already, the District of Columbia (where it’s also legal), or in California, where it’s soon to be legal again.
Here’s a link to a story on Yahoo regarding the overall historical impact of these two different decisions, what the groups on both sides plan to do next, and so forth and so on.
As for what I think? Well, I’m very pleased that the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and threw out California’s Prop. 8 (albeit on a technicality), because I believe everyone who’s above the age of consent and is in love with a supportive and loving partner should be allowed to marry that partner. Whether it’s a man and a woman marrying, two women, two men, or two transgendered individuals, what matters is the love — not the form of that love.
The only thing that bothers me about these particular decisions is the limitations placed upon them by the Supreme Court. In striking down DOMA, the Supremes basically said that if you legally married a same-sex partner in the various states where it either is legal now or has been legal in the past (and was legal at the time, such as in California until Proposition 8 was voted for by that state’s voters), the federal government must treat you as married. And that way, you have all the rights and privileges of a married couple — which is exactly as it should be.
However, if you’re in a state like Wisconsin, where we have a state-specific version of DOMA on the books, if you are a same-sex couple you still cannot marry under the law. You are still allowed to be legally discrimination against in taxation, adoption, and other issues, under the law. And unless and until we get a Democratic Assembly and/or a Democratic Governor, things are unlikely to change due to the bunch of radical Republicans we have right now in Wisconsin, as in addition to these radical Rs running the state into the ground, they also oppose same-sex marriage on reactionary terms — not on realistic ones.
In other words, the Rs in Wisconsin see marriage as a religious ceremony first, with statehood recognition of that ceremony coming second. (This does not really make much sense because many non-religious people or those who are religious but want to save on money go and get married before the judge in a courthouse in a non-religious ceremony. But it’s how they seem to believe.) The rights and privileges a married couple gets in Wisconsin cannot go to a same-sex couple — not even in Madison, which has had domestic partnership benefits for many years — because that’s what the radical Rs want.
I have news for these Rs. Marriage is for everyone. That’s basically what the Supreme Court said today, even though they stopped short of striking down other statehood bans like Wisconsin’s in their narrowly targeted rulings. If you are in love, and you want to get married, and if you want to raise a family, you should be allowed to get married and raise that family. Period.
This is one of the few cultural issues where the Rs have largely been out of step with the mainstream of Wisconsin and the rest of the country. For example, there are now three Republican U.S. Senators who are for gay marriage — Rob Portman of Ohio, who has a gay son, Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. There are a few others, like John McCain, who’ve said before that they have no problem with gay couples, per se, but they don’t think these couples should be allowed to marry. Then the rest of the Rs basically want to take the country back to the 1950s, if not earlier, on cultural issues — which isn’t likely to happen, fortunately for the rest of us.
In Wisconsin, I don’t know of any single one Republican Senator or Assemblyman who believes that same-sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states. (Or even just in Wisconsin.) All eighteen Senators oppose same-sex marriage; all sixty Republicans in the Assembly oppose it.
And, of course, Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker also adamantly opposes same-sex marriage, mostly on religious grounds.
Look. For the most part, I’m for most religions, providing they help people and give meaning and value to their lives. But when a religion insists that some people are better than others — in this case, a heterosexual married couple matters more than a same-sex married couple — that’s where I start to get upset.
And when a politician can’t even be bothered to say, “Look. I haven’t really studied the issues yet, but my religion has always said that gay people are sinful. That’s why I really cannot support marriage equality,” but stands behind the religious fig-leaf as if the religion is doing his or her thinking for him, that really bothers me.
My thought right now is that this issue, along with the new legislation that Scott Walker said he’ll sign that mandates that all women get trans-vaginal ultrasounds before having a medically necessary abortion (unless you’ve been raped or a victim of incest and have gone to report the same), is the most likely one to defeat the Wisconsin Rs.
So those of us who worked so hard to recall Scott Walker (myself included) may still have hope. This is an obstinate man we’re talking about, someone who firmly believes everyone in the state is behind him despite the recall evidence to the contrary. And he’s leading a radical party that’s done a lot of things that voters disagree with, to boot — so when he’s up for re-election in 2014, if we have a Democrat with statewide recognition to run against him (please, not Tom Barrett again — I like him, but he has proven he can’t win against Walker), we should be able to get him out.
As for me, I voted against Walker, signed the recall, voted to replace him, and will vote against Walker again in 2014. (I’m on the record as saying I’d rather vote for an empty paper bag rather than Walker, as that empty paper bag will do far less harm.) But I’m a realist. I know Walker hasn’t done what he said he would do — not with regards to jobs, not with regards to honesty and transparency, not with regards to anything, except for one (he kept his promise to turn down the money for light rail, as he found it unnecessary; however, in so doing, he also eliminated at least three hundred prospective new jobs) — and I want him out of there before he manages to harm the state even further.
My advice for the Wisconsin Rs is this — get with the program regarding same-sex marriage. This issue is not going to go away any time too soon, and most younger voters disagree with you and your stated beliefs on this issue. And if you are unwilling to change with the times, and admit that all marriages should be equal under the law, you will be voted out.
Maybe not in 2014. Maybe not even in 2016.
But you will be voted out.
And I, for one, will be very happy once you are, as you’ve done more than enough damage already.
So far in 2013, the Milwaukee Brewers are a riddle wrapped in an enigma, then enclosed by a tesseract. (Yes, they are just that frustrating.)
Before you ask me how a riddle can be wrapped in an enigma, much less be enclosed by a tesseract, think about Jean Segura. Think about how this young man has been among the National League’s top hitters thus far, and currently leads the league with a .355 average. Then think about his main claim to fame — running the bases in reverse.
Then think about Carlos Gomez, a guy who’s never met a low, outside fastball he didn’t like to wave at. He, too, is among the NL’s league letters in hitting, something that is astonishing enough to perplex. This is a guy with a career .253 average, folks . . . yet he’s currently hitting .329. (Go figure.)
Then consider that not one, not two, but five Brewers in the starting lineup — Segura, Gomez, Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez (in a limited sample) and Norichika Aoki — are currently hitting over .300 — which is astonishing. (Also, reserve infielder Jeff Bianchi, who just came off the DL, is hitting .357 thus far.)
But the rest of the team doesn’t have even a .250 hitter among them, as Yuniesky Betancourt continues to slump from his extremely fast start, Rickie Weeks’ woes continue, and Jonathan Lucroy’s bat has gone ominously silent.
Still, despite all that, the biggest problems with the current Brewers squad lies more with the starting pitching than it does their inconsistent hitting. The starting rotation consists of Kyle Lohse (1-5, 3.76 ERA), who’s pitched decently to better but has had little run support, Yovani Gallardo (3-4, 4.50), who’s had some good outings and some bad ones, Marco Estrada (3-2, 5.44), who’s had the run support Lohse has lacked with a mostly subpar effort, and two rookies — Hiram Burgos (1-2, 6.58) and Wily Peralta (3-4, 5.94) — who’ve mostly proven that they deserve to be sent back to AAA forthwith.
Look. The 2013 Brewers have a decent bullpen, even though John Axford hasn’t truly been up to snuff. (Looking better lately, though, and he pitched a fine inning in Monday night’s 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.) Guys like Burke Badenhop, Tom Gorzelanny (currently on the DL), Mike Gonzalez, and even the recently brought up Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) have done well, while closer Jim Henderson has saved eight games in eight chances, which is quite good.
But the 2013 Brewers only have two legitimate starters in Lohse and Gallardo. Estrada would be better off as the Brewers long man and spot starter, but as he’s the third-best healthy starter the Brewers currently have, he’s in the rotation to stay. And really, while Burgos and Peralta have both shown flashes of competence, they’ve mostly shown that neither one is ready to be a big league pitcher, day in and day out.
Complicating matters is the lack of healthy players Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has to call upon. Roenicke still awaits first baseman and power hitter Corey Hart, who is now slated to return sometime in June according to Adam McCalvy. Roenicke also awaits the return of pitcher Chris Narveson, who’s certainly a much better option even coming off major shoulder surgery than either Peralta or Burgos. (Perhaps better than both put together.)
And both Braun and Lucroy are playing despite persistent neck stiffness because there really isn’t anyone else to put in their slots. Mind you, it’s very difficult to replace someone who’s won the Most Valuable Player Award like Braun. But when no one can out-hit the currently light-hitting Lucroy, you have major problems.
Basically, I see the Brewers’ problems as threefold.
- They need two more good starters before they’re going to be able to be consistently competitive.
- They need the return of both Hart and Narveson, even if the Brewers “brain trust” of General Manager Doug Melvin and Assistant GM Gord Ash decides to keep Narveson in the bullpen.
- They need far better situational hitting than they’ve shown thus far, as it’s inexcusable to have someone hit a triple (like Lucroy did the other day) to lead off an inning but have him still standing on third base at the end of the inning because no one can figure out how to hit a long fly ball to get him home.
If the Brewers can fix all of these things within the next three weeks, they may manage to salvage their season . . . and, not so incidentally, their manager’s job.
But if they can’t fix it, someone’s head is going to roll. And that person is most likely to be Ron Roenicke, even though he’s obviously not to blame for the Brewers total inability to bunt, hit sacrifice flies, or do whatever it takes to score runs, nor is he to blame for Peralta and Burgos not being quite ready for prime time just yet.
For the latter, I blame Doug Melvin and Gord Ash. They had to know that it’s risky to start out a season with not one, but two rookie pitchers, no matter how well Peralta pitched at the end of last season and no matter how good Burgos looked in the World Baseball Classic, yet they were actually prepared to go with three rookies if they couldn’t come to a deal with Lohse or another veteran starter.
Anyway, my hope is that the Brewers will start to remember their situational hitting skills and use them more frequently. (They did a good job scratching and clawing for a run tonight, but then again, the guy hitting the RBI groundout was Nori Aoki, who happens to be the best situational hitter on the club.) That, along with some more run support for Lohse and two additional quality starters if the Brewers can somehow acquire them, can turn around the 2013 season and save Roenicke’s job.
But that’s a tall order, as every team in the league knows that the Brewers need pitching — and will make them pay high to get it.
Note: Stats had not yet been updated as that sometimes takes a few hours after a loss when I’d originally composed this blog. The records, averages, etc., have been fixed, as has the information about Corey Hart’s proposed return. (That Hart’s rehab goes slowly isn’t entirely a surprise, but as many fans have hoped Hart would return sooner rather than later — and as I’m assuredly among that particular group of fans — I’d said that I believed Hart would return on the first available date as I hadn’t yet checked out McCalvy’s blog post.)
Today was a watershed moment in American sports history, because today was the day that Jason Collins, a 12-year veteran center in the National Basketball Association, came out as gay. Collins is the first-ever professional athlete in any of the four major professional sports — hockey, baseball, basketball, or football — to come out while he’s still playing.
My first reaction: Hallelujah!
Then I read Jason Collins’ three-page, first-person story in Sports Illustrated (written with Franz Lidz). There are many relevant things here, including why Collins felt the need to come out, what his background is (he’s Christian and believes in Jesus, who promoted tolerance and mutual understanding), and why being gay is not a choice.
Instead, it’s just who Collins is, right along with his basketball ability, his love for history and the civil rights struggle, and many other admirable qualities.
Here’s a relevant quote from the third page of the SI story:
Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start. It all comes down to education. I’ll sit down with any player who’s uneasy about my coming out. Being gay is not a choice. This is the tough road and at times the lonely road. Former players like Tim Hardaway, who said “I hate gay people” (and then became a supporter of gay rights), fuel homophobia. Tim is an adult. He’s entitled to his opinion. God bless America. Still, if I’m up against an intolerant player, I’ll set a pretty hard pick on him. And then move on.
Speaking of Tim Hardaway, as Collins said, Hardaway has completely changed his opinion. Michael Rosenberg wrote at Sports Illustrated about how others have reacted to Jason Collins’ groundbreaking announcement — remember, Collins is the first-ever pro athlete to come out as gay in a major male American professional sport while he’s still an active player — and he included a quote from Hardaway:
Several years ago, (Tim) Hardaway made some harsh anti-gay comments, and the backlash was severe enough that Hardaway decided to educate himself about homosexuality. His views have changed radically. He told me he was wrong several years ago, and that gay people deserve the same rights that heterosexuals have.
Hardaway, who now works for the Miami Heat, also said this:
“If people on teams were to come out, people would get over it and accept it and move forward. I really do think that. Any sport. If one person or two people, whoever, comes out in any sport, that sport will accept it and go from there.”
My second reaction: Amen!
Then I read this story by openly lesbian professional tennis player Martina Navratilova, also at SI. Navratilova knows a great deal about professional pressure to remain closeted, as she was the first major pro sports player in any league to come out as lesbian back in 1981.
Navratilova praises Collins, which makes sense, and then gives a brief history of how difficult it’s been up until the past few years to get support in any professional sports league for gay rights, including the ability to be open about your sexuality rather than closeted. But she stumbles a bit, in my opinion at least, when she references the late, great Reggie White.
White, as any Packers fan knows, was one of the greatest defensive ends in the National Football League (see this link from Packers.com that summarizes White’s career nicely), and was enshrined in the NFL’s Hall of Fame in 2006. He was also a Christian minister, and had been raised with fundamentalist Southern Christian values. Because of this, while White loved everyone, he was not particularly tolerant of gays and lesbians and actually took part in a well-advertised TV campaign to try and get GLBT people to “cease” their homosexuality.
This was offensive, and both the NFL and the Green Bay Packers objected — but for the wrong reason as they were more upset that Reggie actually wore his football jersey in the ads than anything else.
White also could be verbally awkward, as when he went to address the Wisconsin Legislature in March of 1998. White said something about how Asians are endlessly inventive that sounded awful, like a racial stereotype, rather than the compliment he had intended. And his comments about other races, including African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans were no better.
All of these things caused White to lose out on a professional announcing gig after he finished playing football. So White did suffer censure.
White died in 2004. And at the time, he was attempting to educate himself in ancient Aramaic, as he believed that certain scriptures of the Bible may have suffered by translation — which means that he had apparently had a consciousness raising of sorts. But he didn’t get the time he needed to learn more, as he died of sleep apnea. (Here’s a link to the Reggie White Sleep Disorders Foundation, which is located in West Allis, Wisconsin.)
Now, whether this means White would’ve evolved on this issue is unknown. But I do know that in 2004, President Obama was against gay marriage. Hillary R. Clinton, while adamantly for gay rights in most senses, was also against gay marriage, as was her husband the former President. Tim Hardaway was still against gay rights (which, to be fair, Obama and the two Clintons were for), and hadn’t yet educated himself on this issue. And there were many, many people in all walks of life who said ignorant and bigoted things about GLBT Americans — so Reggie White was not alone.
Look. I met Reggie White in the summer of 1996. He was promoting one of his books, which was a Christian missive about how you need to make the most of every day you’re on this Earth and treat people with kindness and respect. I got to talk with him for fifteen or twenty minutes, without handlers of any sort, as I apparently impressed him because I didn’t ask for an autograph and just talked with him as a real, live human being. (Thank God/dess for book tours, eh?)
I related to White as a minister, and didn’t see him solely as a great football player. And White was a compassionate, caring man — he wanted to know what was going on in my life, and he gave me some advice that’s stuck with me to this day.
I truly believe that had White lived to see 2013, between his studies of Aramaic (he even was studying the Torah itself) and his knowledge of people and his love for everyone, he most likely would’ve changed his opinion. He may have even worked with Athlete Ally, which is a group of straight athletes supporting gay athletes — something that didn’t exist in 2004.
We all have to remember that when White died, he was only 43. He lived a good life. He loved God (who he couldn’t help but see as male, but also saw as all-inclusive — I know this from talking with him). He cared about everyone, and he loved everyone.
But he didn’t get to live another nine years. And in those nine years, anything could’ve happened.
That’s why I wish Navratilova had picked a still-living athlete with a homophobic stance. Because there are still quite a number of those, and with one of those she could’ve had a good, spirited and honest debate as to why whomever she’d picked is still so closed-minded in this day and age.
But as she didn’t — and as I’m a Packers fan who once got to speak with Reggie White at great length — I felt I should respond. Because it’s only right . . . White was a great man in many respects, but yes, he was flawed on this issue.
Still. He was a great man, and he is now deceased. It is time to let the dead rest, while we continue to support progress in all aspects of American life.
Folks, I’m still much more sick than well, so I hope this post will make sense. But I’m so tired of watching talking heads discuss various efforts in Washington, D.C., to curb gun violence as none of them seem to really understand what’s at stake.
What’s worse is the latest Internet meme, which goes something like this:
Right-wing gun owner (it’s always someone from the right, as if there are no left-wing gun owners, a logical fallacy): I told off a bunch of granola-eating hippie chicks at the sports bar yesterday!
Right-wing gun owner’s friend: Really?
RWGO: Yeah! I told those hippies that if an intruder was in their house, dammit, they’d want a gun and they’d want it fast!
RWGOF: Yeah? Then what happened?
RWGO: They agreed, put their tails between their legs, and left. How about that?
First off, this meme has got to go for a number of reasons.
- It states the problem in extremely simplistic terms.
- RWGO always wins, because the granola eating hippie chicks are always stupid and can’t reason their way out of a paper bag.
- There’s never any mention of those legitimately trying to curb the spread of gun violence in the United States, such as the various police departments, elements of the U.S. Armed Forces (especially the National Guard and the Army Reserve), and the Border Patrol agents . . . because guess what? Curbing illegal guns coming in from Mexico, which has been mentioned many times on Fox News and other right-wing media sources, is also part of stopping the spread of gun violence!
Look. The National Rifle Association has a much bigger media and lobbying presence than they probably deserve. And the NRA’s stated message on curbing gun violence in this country (such as what happened in Aurora, CO, in Arizona, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School) is this: “The only way you can stop a bad man with a gun is by having a good man with a gun right there.” Which is, in and of itself, an extremely simplistic message if you come right down to it.
There has to be a better way. And I’m thinking that as the United States Senate couldn’t even come up with a simple agreement on background checks — something 86% of the country supports (including most Republicans and gun owners of all political persuasions) — we’re going to have to look outside the Congress to do it.
So whom should be we looking at, if the Congress is not capable or qualified to study this issue? (Or perhaps even to ask the right questions, if the recent debate on the various amendments is any judge. Mind, I appreciate principled objection, but so many of the legislators who voted against the background check legislation seemed like the blind leading the blind.)
Perhaps we need to look at the various police departments, to start with. What do most sheriffs suggest when it comes to gun violence? Do they think background checks will help? (Why, or why not?)
Next, there is one thing most of my right-wing friends have agreed with from day one, and that’s that everyone who owns a gun should be properly trained. I think that mandating a certain number of hours at the firing range for all gun owners (but most especially new ones) might be something various state legislatures can pursue. And if you want to be stationed in a school (or you’re already a teacher, principal, or the like), taking an extra course on how to deal with pressure situations would not be amiss.
Because taking the training may at least help curb the incidents where someone who isn’t trained has a gun, and it goes off. (Like Plaxico Burress.) Sometimes, no one is hurt when this happens, but most of the time, someone is hurt or killed.
Finally, there needs to be a determination of what kinds of mental illness are the most dangerous. One of the very few decent points I’ve heard from any right-wing pundits is that mental illness is a slippery slope. Grief is often classified as a mental illness (it isn’t); having panic attacks is classified as a mental illness (which isn’t anywhere near as severe as someone overtly psychotic); someone who’s bipolar but always takes his/her medicine is still mentally ill, but has a controlled illness — and should not that person have a gun if he or she wants one?
Back to the Internet meme, though.
If someone came up to me in a coffee house, or in a sports bar, and said to me, “Hey, Barb! I know you don’t like guns, but if someone was in your house and had a gun and was ten feet away, wouldn’t you want one?,” do you want to know my answer?
“Hell, no, I don’t want one!” I’d say. “I’d rather have a baseball bat. That’s something where, even if the intruder gets it away from me, I’d at least get one good whack in — and it might even work to knock that gun out of the guy’s hand.”
Because, really. I know I don’t like guns, I’ve not been trained to use one, and even if I went and learned at a rifle range or whatnot, I’d still be way below par because it’s really not my skill. (Plus, hello? I have carpal tunnel syndrome. This wouldn’t make it easy for me to control a firearm. Just sayin’.)
At any rate, what I’m trying to get at is that somehow, the left and right are now so polarized that Internet memes, like the one I discussed before, are taken at face value by many of my right-leaning friends. And that’s as wrong as someone saying, “Background checks will get rid of all gun violence!,” something my right-leaning friends would automatically abhor (and rightly).
At this point, I don’t know what the hopes are for an honest dialogue among regular, honest Americans of all political persuasions. I tend to think that way too many of my left-leaning friends don’t know any right-leaning people (or if they do, they don’t see any value in most of what they say), and that it’s the same way for my right-leaning friends — they see very little value in whatever their counterparts on the left (or in the center) have to say.
That’s sad. That’s even shameful, considering how we as a country were founded because of a bunch of ornery dissenters.
But it’s where we’re at. And because I’ve seen this Internet meme one too many times in the past twenty-four to forty-eight hours, I just had to speak up and say, “This meme is stupid. Can’t we all use some logic, and just figure out a solution to these problems already?”
Because one thing’s for sure. Our Congress is not about to do thing one about it.
Note: This is a heavily divisive issue. Many of my friends on both sides have hair triggers and are extremely upset. I want a dialogue, something that hasn’t yet occurred at the national level — I’d like to know what, if anything, aside from better training for people who own firearms might offer some hope to those who’ve lost loved ones to gun violence.
Further note: Comments must be polite, or they will be deleted. (You have been warned.)
Folks, as I continue to watch my favorite baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers, stumble out of the gate, I have revisited a few of my baseball blogs from the past week-plus. Some of the comments I’ve made obviously were insightful — I suggested bringing up Blake Lalli, mostly because we need three catchers if two of them are likely to play due to being short-handed on the infield — but some were clearly not.
I wonder, sometimes, if this is how Brewers manager Ron Roenicke feels. Roenicke has all sorts of stats available to him that I’m not likely to ever see — even in these days of WAR (Wins Above Replacement), BABIP (Batting Average of Balls in Play), and other esoteric stats — and yet, he, too, can be wrong and get second-guessed. Frequently.
Now, I’m still not backing off what I said last night about Rickie Weeks. Weeks has a well-known tendency when in a serious slump to wave at the outside fastball. He’s done it for years, he’s unlikely to ever change, and because of this, he’s not the world’s best hitter to have up in a clutch situation.
Batting Weeks fourth was possibly the best choice considering the others tried at clean-up since Aramis Ramirez went on the 15-day DL (Alex Gonzalez and Jonathan Lucroy) did not do well. At least it was a change, and with change comes the possibility for better even if it doesn’t always happen.
My blog last night (the first half of it, anyway) was more about how frustrated I was that Weeks wasn’t pinch-hit for by either Martin Maldonado or Lalli, both of whom were still sitting on the bench. Maldonado has been an acceptable hitter with some power, while Lalli is a bit of an unknown quantity and might’ve taken St. Louis Cardinals’ closer Mitchell Boggs by surprise. And either of them could’ve done the same thing as Weeks — struck out on four pitches (the MLB recapper says only three, which I find odd) — but with greater panache.
That is, if panache matters in a 2-0 loss where the Brewers only garnered two hits, one by Nori Aoki in the first and one by Jean Segura in the ninth.
Speaking of Segura, I’m glad his injury wasn’t serious enough to put him on the DL. I’d called for that when I thought there was absolutely no way the Brewers would bring up another position player except by putting one of their few reasonably healthy ones on the DL; considering how Segura and Aoki are among the few bright spots on the team (Braun is hitting for contact and has a .406 average, though he took “the collar” with an 0-4 with 3 Ks last evening), it would’ve been a shame to shut Segura down.
So that’s a suggestion I made that obviously would’ve been a bad move for the team. And since I go off all the time about how I don’t understand this, that, or the other move by Roenicke, I may as well admit when a move I’d have made definitely wouldn’t have worked.
And two other suggestions I made — those of bringing Chris Capuano onto the Brewers and putting Chris Narveson back in the starting rotation for the Brewers — obviously won’t work at the moment, either. Capuano should get several weeks in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation now that former Brewers ace Zack Greinke is on the DL due to an injury to his collarbone sustained in a recent bench-clearing brawl with the San Diego Padres. (Carlos Quentin, who precipitated that brawl for the Padres, has been given an eight-game suspension. He’s appealing, so he’s still playing, but eventually he’ll have to sit.) And Narveson is on the DL with a blister on his pitching hand, so he’s obviously not a candidate for the rotation at this time.
One other suggestion I made requires more thought and far more information — that of sending Wily Peralta back down to AAA ball. Peralta had a good, solid start against the Cubs on Tuesday evening despite some horrible weather. But because it was so cold, and no one hit particularly well in that game for either side, it’s possible that Peralta’s performance looked a bit better than it actually was.
Even so, Peralta now has one terrible outing, and one good one. His ERA remains higher than it should be at 4.50 in twelve innings of work. I’m not convinced he’s the best answer over time, but he’s probably the best pitcher the Brewers have available unless they want to bring up Hiram Burgos from AAA Nashville. (Or until Capuano becomes available again down the line, providing “Cappy” can stay healthy.)
The main thing to remember with the Brewers right now, if you’re an ardent fan, is this: it’s still a young season. Anything can happen, no matter how bad things look right now. We have had some good pitching from Kyle Lohse and Jim Henderson (with relievers Figaro, Gorzelanny and even Gonzalez looking better every game) and some good hitting from Aoki, Segura, and Ryan Braun. Alex Gonzalez’s fielding all over the infield has been solid. Yuniesky Betancourt hasn’t been bad, especially considering he was a very late signee and had no Spring Training with the club. And so far, Maldonado has continued his hitting ways, as in a limited sample (four games), he’s hitting .286 thus far.
So it’s not hopeless.
Just remember, fellow fans, that it’s much easier for us to second-guess. I don’t often say something like this, because it is blindingly obvious, but here goes: Since we’re not there in the clubhouse, and we don’t know who has what nagging injury to deal with, or who may have come in hung over that might temporarily be in Roenicke’s doghouse for good reason, or who has the flu and can suit up to make things look good on the bench but can’t really play, we don’t have all the facts most of the time.
All of that said: I’d still have put in Maldonado, or maybe Lalli, to pinch-hit for Weeks last night. (I stand by that and will stick to it.) Though they are at least playing today — Maldonado’s catching for Yovani Gallardo, and Lalli is about to make his first-ever big-league start at first base — so maybe they’ll spark the Brewers to a big win.
The Milwaukee Brewers 2013 season is well underway, and there’s only one thing any observant writer can say: The Brewers look dreadful in just about every respect.
While there are some good things happening — Norichika Aoki’s four hits today (during his promotional bobblehead day), a clutch Sunday double by rookie OF-3B Josh Prince, the strong six innings pitched by Kyle Lohse on Friday, and the two good relief appearances by Jim Henderson among them — there are many more extremely frustrating things going on, which befits a team with a woeful 1-5 record.
First, and worst: The Brewers have faced many injuries already this season. Consider that half the Brewers starting infield is currently on the disabled list (DL) — first baseman Corey Hart, of course, had knee surgery back in February, and third baseman Aramis Ramirez tweaked his knee while sliding into second base on Friday evening. In addition, both prospective utility infielders, Taylor Green and Jeff Bianchi, are on the DL along with backup first baseman-outfielder Mat Gamel (out for the year), while Brewers rookie starting shortstop Jean Segura sustained a bruised left thigh on Sunday and is now considered “day-to-day.”
But the most frustrating injury is to Brewers’ MVP Ryan Braun, who is out with neck spasms. While not on the DL, he’s unable to play — the closest he’s come to actually getting in a game since Friday was standing in the on-deck circle earlier today — and that means that the Brewers three best hitters are currently unavailable.
That doesn’t mean the Brewers aren’t trying in the hitting department. They certainly are. Players like Aoki, Prince, the recently signed Yuniesky Betancourt, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez are all doing their best to score runs.
Second, many players are playing out of position due to injury. Betancourt and Gonzalez between them, shortstops by trade, have played every position except second base, while Prince, an outfielder, played third base for the first time since AA ball on Sunday due to a lack of bench players.
Third, while the Brewers are carrying eight relief pitchers, half of them aren’t doing well. The worst of the lot has been closer John Axford, who has an ERA of 20.25 and a record of 0-1 (being the pitcher of record this afternoon in an eleven-inning loss) with one blown save, four home runs, and six earned runs given up in 2 and 2/3 innings pitched.
Now, it is still early, so Axford’s extremely depressing ERA is misleading. But giving up six earned runs — with four of ‘em being HRs — in less than three innings worth of work is extremely concerning. Worse yet, Axford has not looked sharp; his “three up, three down” tenth inning today is also, and quite unfortunately, misleading in that Axford gave up two fly ball outs that went to the wall (one in the deepest part of left center, the other to left) before striking out the third batter only after throwing a pitch wildly over the umpire’s head on a 1-2 count.
So, Axford has not looked good. Mike Gonzalez (13.50 ERA), who came in today in relief of Axford, has had a good appearance and at least two bad ones. And aside from Henderson, Brandon Kintzler, Alfredo Figaro and Chris Narveson, every other reliever has had at least one bad outing amidst a good outing or two.
Fourth, the starters, as a group, have also looked awful. A bad relief pitching corps could be circumvented if the starters were up to snuff. Unfortunately, the only starter who’s actually looked good to date is Lohse (with a sparkling 1.50 ERA). Gallardo (5.73 ERA) has looked, at best, serviceable. Estrada (7.20 ERA) looked awful against Arizona. Mike Fiers (10.80 ERA) had a forgettable start. Peralta (6.70 ERA) has looked overmatched since spring training.
As to who is available among starting pitchers? Well, former Brewers lefty Chris Capuano (12-12, 3.72 ERA in 2012) is a forgotten man in the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen, and is a better pitcher than Estrada, Fiers or Peralta. Narveson, who is in the bullpen probably because the Brewers are afraid of re-injuring his surgically repaired left shoulder, is also a better pitcher than Estrada, Fiers or Peralta. Those two pitchers would give the Brewers two lefties on the starting staff, and would at least make it harder for opposing teams to tee off on Brewers pitchers.
Also, Aaron Harang (10-10, 3.61 ERA) has already been designated for assignment by his new team, the Colorado Rockies. Harang, too, is a much better pitcher than Fiers or Peralta, and is probably better than Estrada. So if I were the Brewers, I’d certainly be willing to give Harang a look-see.
There are also two quality relievers currently without teams. One, Francisco Rodriguez, is well-known to the Brewers and is unlikely to be signed due to his 2012 struggles with the team. But the other, Brian Wilson, would be an intriguing choice — while Wilson would undoubtedly need time in Arizona in extended spring training before getting some rehab appearances in the minors, at least the Brewers would know that help would eventually be on the way.
My advice is as follows:
- Send Axford to a sports psychiatrist (if Axford isn’t already seeing one), as that may help.
- Sign Wilson, which would give Axford some competition, as Axford seems to do better when someone is seriously competing with him for the job.
- Trade for Capuano (and maybe even Harang).
- Send Peralta down, as it appears he needs more time in AAA ball, and think seriously about sending Fiers back down as well.
- And, last but not least, put Segura on the DL and call up Blake Lalli. The Brewers need a third catcher badly, and Lalli worked with the Brewers staff extensively in spring training due to both Lucroy and Martin Maldonado playing for Teams USA and Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Lalli also hit well in the spring, and certainly cannot hurt the Brewers any at this point.
The last move is necessary because the Brewers are unwilling to put Braun on the DL and obviously cannot handle having only three healthy bench players. In Sunday’s eleven-inning game, the Brewers actually had to use Lohse, the best hitter of the available starting pitchers, as a pinch hitter because that was the only move left for manager Ron Roenicke. But Lohse struck out to end the game (of course).
As it stands, though, I feel sorry for Axford. I’m sure he’s trying his best, as is everyone else on the team — you don’t get into professional sports if you aren’t interested in doing well for yourself and your team, after all. But it’s obvious that something is still not right with Axford, and my guess is that whatever is it has more to do with his head than his mechanics or his will.
I just hope he can sort it out, and get back to pitching the way Brewers fans know he can. Or it’s likely to be another long, frustrating season for the Brewers in 2013.
Folks, some stories seem like broken records.
Take the story broken by Yahoo Sports through its blog “Big League Stew.” The headline reads, “MLB’s PED Vendetta Against Ryan Braun: Seeks Informants, Offers Immunity for Players Testimony.”
This article points out that Major League Baseball, in its infinite whatever, is using the Biogenesis Clinic information that has been leaked to the press as a way to go after Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun. Braun is the only major leaguer known to have successfully appealed a positive drug test, and MLB apparently just cannot handle it at all.
Instead, they wish to punish Braun after the fact despite losing their case in arbitration against Braun in 2012 — legally binding arbitration, at that.
MLB is even willing, according to an article at USA Today by Bob Nightengale (which the Yahoo Sports blog references), to grant some players immunity even if they test positive for PEDs themselves. Which seems extremely counterproductive if MLB’s interest here is in the cleanest sport possible . . . but more on that in a bit.
The reason MLB is upset is because their officials insist that Braun used performance-enhancing drugs due to a highly elevated level of testosterone in Braun’s urine sample back in 2011. Braun won his appeal in 2012 (here’s my earlier blog post on the subject); at the time, MLB “vehemently disagreed” with the decision. Later, MLB fired arbitrator Shyam Das, which looked terrible from a public relations standpoint — as apparently, the only arbitrators they want are the ones who rule in MLB’s favor.
As Ray Ratto pointed out in this column from February 23, 2012 (note that the lack of punctuation is also in the original column; the look of this has not been altered in any way save to cut out one link):
Rather than announce that Braun had won his appeal and had been found not guilty according to the procedures and protocols set up and approved BY Major League Baseball, it chose instead to swine-slap Das ruling, deciding that when they say guilty, they mean guilty.Now we dont know whether Braun hornswoggled the arbitrator, the system or nobody at all. We wont call him innocent or guilty. We will say, though, that he played by baseballs rules, he followed baseballs procedures, he went through baseballs process, and he was found not guilty.Thus, it is inconceivably bad form for baseball to scream about the result just because they wanted it to be something else.
Obviously, I agree with this assessment.
Ratto’s words, however, have proven prophetic in how MLB has behaved with regards to Braun. Take a look at this (also from Ratto’s above-referenced column):
The process is supposed to be about finding the truth, not getting the desired result. The desired result IS the truth, and baseballs system says Braun didnt do what he was accused of doing.MLBs reaction, though, shows that for it, testing isnt about determining a players guilt or innocence, its about nailing guys.”As a part of our drug testing program, the commissioner’s office and the players’ association agreed to a neutral third party review for instances that are under dispute, a statement from Rob Manfred, managements representative on the three-man appeals panel, read. While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.”Vehemently disagrees? Its your system, Robbo, the one your negotiators demanded. Is it only a good system when you win? (emphasis added by BC)
And if that’s the case, MLB is going to keep going after Braun in the same way Inspector Javert went after Jean Valjean in Les Miserables — even though it will do no good, much harm, and cause much strife for all concerned.
Look. I’ve thought and thought about this, and I’ve come to the same conclusions as in my original blog post on the Braun/PED issue:
Braun has been an outstanding player from the time the Brewers brought him up. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2007. His lifetime numbers are comparable to his MVP numbers; over his last five seasons, he’s averaged 36 HRs and 118 RBIs a season, and has hit over .300 every year except 2008 (when he “only” hit .285); his lifetime batting average, over five complete seasons, is .312.
So I don’t really see where Braun could’ve been taking anything that was of an enhancing nature, especially if he’s never tested positive before (and indeed, he hasn’t).
Jumping a few paragraphs, I said back in 2011:
. . . my view is that Braun’s statistical performance was well within his own normals. So it’s very hard for me to believe that Braun actually did take anything illegal of the PED variety; because of that, and because of my admittedly laissez-faire attitude toward baseball players and legal drugs, I believe Braun should be considered innocent until and unless he is proven guilty.
And as we now all know, Braun was found not guilty.
Which makes me think that Braun had a point. He wasn’t juicing then, isn’t juicing now, and that as much as anyone’s performance can be in these days of high-tech nutrition and personal trainers, he’s as clean as they come.
Since Braun has been proven to not have taken PEDs under binding arbitration, MLB should really let it go. Because the longer they pursue this mindless vendetta, the more they look like Inspector Javert — and with far less reason than that fictional French bureaucrat of old.
My final take? I suppose it’s MLB’s prerogative to look silly, spiteful and stupid when it comes to this apparent vendetta against Ryan Braun.
But speaking as a long-time baseball fan, I wish they’d knock it off.
In the last week, two prominent politicians have come out in favor of same-sex marriage — one, of course, being far more prominent than the other.
The latter person is former Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady, Hillary R. Clinton, who today endorsed same-sex marriage with a video put out by the Human Rights Campaign, while the former is Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. Portman said his main reason for changing his stance from firm opposition to firm support is his son — who has told him he’s gay, and wants full rights to marry any partner he may take in the future.
This article from PennLive points out how difficult it’s been for Portman, the only Republican Senator in open support of gay marriage, since he’s made his stance public last week. And despite such well-known Republicans as former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Sec. of State Colin Powell also being in support of same-sex marriage, it’s far more easy for a Democrat like Mrs. Clinton or sitting President Obama to admit that he or she supports same-sex marriage than it is for any active Republican officeholder.
Why is this?
PennLive points out that Portman said:
Portman said his previous views on marriage were rooted in his Methodist faith. However, he wrote, “Ultimately, for me, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.”
Yet most Republican leaders apparently met this with either stony silence or, as PennLive’s article put it, “a shrug,” while Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner actually told ABC’s This Week that he’d oppose gay marriage even if his own son was gay.
It’s hard to see this particular comment as anything except a slam against Senator Portman.
Fortunately, it’s not as difficult for a well-known Democrat to let it be known she is in favor of marriage equality.
Mrs. Clinton said that her work at the State Department, including the signing of measures meant to protect long-term same-sex couples, made her reconsider her beliefs (best paraphrase from her video for the HRC, which is available via PennLive). That’s why she, too, has now come out in full support of same-sex marriage.
And, thus far, the Democratic (or democratic-leaning) talking heads on both MSNBC and CNN seem in full support of Mrs. Clinton’s stance, which is not a surprise. The titular head of the party is the President, who is also in support of same-sex marriage (though perhaps less wholeheartedly than Mrs. Clinton).
So, on the one hand we have the Republican Party, which doesn’t seem to want to budge except for a few brave individuals like Senator Portman and several retired Republicans like Cheney and Powell. And on the other, we have the Democratic Party, which has an openly lesbian sitting Senator (Wisconsin’s own Tammy Baldwin), and has embraced advocacy of same-sex marriage as a human rights issue.
Which, to my mind, it is.
Look. This is an issue that everyone should get behind, but it may be impossible for some older Americans to fully understand. Nevertheless, if two people want to marry, and both are consenting adults, the state should allow them to marry. Not stand in their way.
And as far as the religious objections go, we have separation of church and state in our Constitution for a reason — which is why individual churches may still say no to same-sex marriage without penalty.
But it’s also why our country, as a whole, should say yes.
On a personal note, I’m very pleased that Senator Portman has been willing to publicly admit that his stance has changed. This makes me believe there’s at least some hope for the Republican Party to stop making marriage equality a partisan issue — despite well-known obstructionists such as Speaker Boehner.