Fire Mike Shula Now

UPDATE: For the latest diatribe on still more reasons to fire Mike Shula after the Auburn debacle, click here.

Today's Alabama-Arkansas game was a debacle that's hard to put into historical perspective. Maybe the loss to Vandy in 1984 was worse...but I doubt it. To control the clock for 40 minutes, be able to move the ball through the air at will, and yet end up losing in overtime is utterly inexcusable. And while Leigh Tiffin missed FOUR kicks, any of which would have won the game, the blame rests on the coach more than the player.

Cowardly ultra-conservative play calling (on both sides of the ball) late in the game and then in overtime doomed Bama. They completely outplayed Arkansas in every phase of the game except for rushing. So what does Shula do? Keep calling running plays into the middle of the line--the plays that haven't worked all day. And keep trotting Tiffin out, without coaching him at all on foot placement (his plant foot is too close to the ball, which is why he can't get his leg swing right--and even I can see that on TV) when a kicker who won THREE games last year with field goals stands and watches.

The truth is that even Mike DuBose could have won that game, and he was the worst coach Bama had since Ears Whitworth...until now. Alabama's players did not deserve to lose today. And if they had been competently coached, they'd be 4-0. Shula has had three years plus now to prove himself a good football coach. He has done anything but. A famous last name and being an alum simply isn't enough. It's time for him to go.


A Question for Muslims

What better way is there to protest a statement that your religion is violent than by burning churches and killing a nun? Yep, that'll pretty much change everyone's mind. Religion of peace? More like religion of pieces.


A Health Scare I'm Not Scared Of

We constantly see and hear things in the news that we're supposed to worry about. Too much sun...not enough ozone...we're too fat (or too thin if you're a Spanish model)...we drink too much (well, not me but you get the point) or we should drink more...and the list goes on. But I am happy to tell you that today's health scare de jour holds no terror for me.

There is NO CHANCE in the world that I'm ever going to come down with e coli from eating spinach!


No Laffey Matter

Well apparently the unreliable RINO Lincoln Chafee has won his primary against Steve Laffey in Rhode Island. For some reason explicable only to God and Elizabeth Dole, the Repubs gave their biggest traitor over a million bucks to help him beat back a challenger. That money could have been used in a race for a real Republican incumbent like Santorum or a challenger like Steele or Kennedy...but no, they wasted it on Chafee, who didn't even vote for Bush for President (and said so out loud)!

If you are moved to donate politically, please do so directly to candidates rather than the inept and clueless national Republican groups. They don't deserve one dime given the way they spend it.


The Democrats Have Lost Their Minds

The United States of America is better off when we have two serious, adult politcal parties. Right now we barely have one. In just the last seven days, here's a sampling from the Democrats:

1) Today at a 9/11 memorial, Democratic Congressman Jim Moran (VA) could not restrain his bile. From the Sun Gazette: Moran then maneuvered into more sensitive ground, suggesting that the country was not safer and intimating that the Bush administration's foreign policy was headed in the wrong directions.“More people hate us,” Moran said, a comment that drew an outburst from the crowd.“My brother died on 9/11 - don't make this political,” a woman in audience cried out.

2) Also in Virginia, Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb has so far refused to heed Nancy Reagan's objections to his use of her husband in a campaign ad. Picking a fight with Nancy Reagan is a great way to reach out to moderates and independents. They really go for that kind of sensitivity.

3) Missouri Senate candidate Claire McCaskill said, "George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black." No comment needed.

4) West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller (according to that well-known right wing news outfit CBS) "says the world would be better off today if the United States had never invaded Iraq — even if it means Saddam Hussein would still be running Iraq. He said he sees that as a better scenario, and a safer scenario, "because it is called the 'war on terror.'" Does Rockefeller stand by his view, even if it means that Saddam Hussein could still be in power if the United States didn't invade? "Yes."

5) Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV) and five other Dem Senators sent a letter to ABC threatening their broadcast license for airing "The Path to 9/11" miniseries, because they didn't like some of the contents. So much for freedom of speech.

I could go on...but what's the point? These elected officials and candidates are not some fringe of kooks. (Both parties have plenty of those.) These are the mainstream--the leaders of the party of FDR, Harry Truman, JFK and Scoop Jackson, who must all be turning over in their graves. I have to believe that this is going to backfire on them in a big way, and that once again the Dems will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the elections now just 8 weeks away. If the American people pay the least bit of attention, they will receive the electoral punishment their insanity so richly deserves.

Batting One Thousand

President Bush is a baseball man. He has brought his love for the game to the White House with him. And today, on the 5th anniversary of 9/11, it's time to give him his due. In baseball terms--he's batting one thousand. I don't think he's done everything perfectly by a long shot. I wish he would be more willing to name our enemy, and I wish he would commit more troops and resources to Iraq and Afghanistan and do what it takes to win the war.

But it's worth noting an irrefutable fact (and one that very few of us on 9/12/01 would have believed): America has not had another terrorist attack on our shores for five full years. This is a notable achievment. It's not as if those who hate us have given up and gone away. They are still trying everything they can to bring death and destruction down upon us. But they have (so far) failed.

It's a point Bill Whittle made on the 2nd anniversary and it's worth repeating today (emphasis added): Say what you want about George W. Bush and his policies – that is of course your right. But consider this, all you defeatists and self-haters out there: it is barely possible, mathematically, to tie the President’s record for defending this country from a new terrorist horror. You cannot – not even hypothetically – improve upon it. This is a fact that is undeniable and so obvious that only a few will see it.

And at what cost? Did jackbooted storm troopers descend in the night from black helicopters to take away those voicing dissent? Or do the most vile and baseless accusations fly hither and yon, blown ever larger by a terrified and complicit media elite? Did hundreds of thousands of Muslims have their businesses torched, their families terrorized and beaten, the rest hauled off to concentration camps, or are you far safer, both physically and emotionally, as a Muslim in the US then you would be in any middle eastern country – safer and less harassed, without question – than Jews are in France today? Have we given up our liberty and lifestyle for this perfect record, or do we still go to football games and shopping malls and fly, more or less, the way we used to?

And we have been blessed with a President who for all his faults, gaffes, mistakes and compromises has nevertheless maintained the one simple, essential, necessary character trait needed to fight -- and win -- a war against ruthless enemy and the armies of useful idiots that rally to its defense: single-minded determination and an utter disregard for criticism from those who should know better. For all his many manifest failures, it is hard to imagine a politician less effected by the legions of hysterical people determined to put off this fight. In my eyes, he has not tired, he has not faltered, and he has not failed.

It remains to be said that five years of success in protecting us is no guarantee that we'll succeed tomorrow. We have to be right every time; the enemy only has to be right once. But credit where credit is due--President Bush has done the job.

The Less Things Change

Yesterday I argued that 9/11 didn't change the world, it just revealed (to a depressingly small number of people apparently) more clearly the world we already lived in. Displays of our continuing collective amnesia were on display again this morning, as Matt Lauer described 9/11 as the "day that ended our innocence"--as if all the terrorist killings of innocent Americans before that were somehow meaningless preseason football games that didn't count. This follows Andy Rooney's asinine remark last night on 60 Minutes that we should just stop behaving in ways that make people want to kill us. Yep, that's the problem, we stupid Americans just keep clinging to our freedom rather than accepting our rightful place under Islamic law. Good insight there Andy.

Now (as always) comes the incomparable Lileks to put the words better than anyone:

If 9/11 had really changed us, there’d be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead there’s a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors. The Empire State Building took 18 months to build. During the Depression. We could do that again, but we don’t. And we don’t seem interested in asking why.

Flights of Angels

Nearly 3,000 people died five years ago today. On an historical scale, that is not a huge number. Many more Americans died on the first day of the Normandy invasion--some 6600, and it does not even approach the 23,000 dead soliders at Antietam. The 9/11 death toll does surpass Pearl Harbor (2400). But the difference is clear; all of those were primarily military deaths. The closest civilian event in the US would be the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. Exact figures were never established, but it is believed to have been around 3000 dead.

But in terms of its impact on our society, 9/11 stands as a defining moment. The diverging world views that drive some men to crash planes into innocent civilians lead others to rush toward the flames, trying to save all that they could. It is terribly impolite to say so, but we are indeed fighting a war against a group of religious fanatics who wish to drag us back to the Dark Ages to live under their religious law. And though some describe this as a clash of civilizations, that is really a misnomer--because the other side isn't civilized at all.

On this day of remembrance, friends and family members of those lost five years ago will deal with a pain most of us thankfully can only imagine. Each of the dead shares this in common--whether they died without even knowing what happened or intentionally put their lives at risk to save others, they are heroes and casualties of war. And as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, it falls to us as the living to ensure that they have not died in vain. I will spend this day remembering those who died and praying for those they left behind...and hoping for victory in this war we did not choose, but must win.

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince:And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2


The Fool's Paradise of the 9/10 Worldview

Five years ago tonight, nothing had happened...at least that's what we want to tell ourselves. The horror of 9/11 was still one day in the future. But the driving force that plotted and executed the massive destruction of that day was easily visisble--we just weren't looking. This partial list is courtesy of D J Drummond:

02/26/1993 – World Trade Center bombed
03/08/1995 – Two U.S. diplomats in Pakistan murdered
06/25/1996 - Khobar Towers bombed
11/12/1997 – Four U.S. businessmen kidnapped and murdered
08/07/1998 – Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya bombed
10/12/2000 – U.S.S. Cole attacked by suicide bombers

I'm sick and tired of this blathering about whether we're safer or not--we weren't safe then, we aren't safe now, and we're not going to be safe tomorrow either. The sad reality is that we live in a world populated with people who are ready, willing and able to kill us, and to die in the effort. There is only one way to be safe from such people, and frankly there's no way to identify and kill them all before they strike.

And we just don't get it. Collectively as a nation, we are refusing to accept the reality of the world and deal with it. Please note carefully, I am not saying we are refusing to accept the reality of the post-9/11 world. We refused to accept reality pre-9/11 as well. Terrorism was a reality before before the first plane crashed into the tower. The threat did not originate that day. The world really didn't change that day, although it has become cliche to say that it did.

Too many Americans are tired of fighting the war on terror. They want it just to go away. One of our major political parties is staking its entire electoral strategy on promising to quit fighting. Lest you think I exaggerate, go look at Ned Lamont's victory over Joe Lieberman in the Senate primary in Connecticut, and take a good hard look at his proposals for the war on terror. Although he's smart enough not to say it directly, the net result is capitulation. Frankly many of the Republicans aren't much better.

This is not a partisan issue--or at least it should not be. It's literally a matter of life and death. And our enemies don't care whether we think so or not. In fact, they'd rather that we didn't--it makes their job easier. The reality is that five years later, we still don't get it. And I fear that one day, probably soon, that failure to face reality is going to bite us in such a way that will make 9/11 look like a flea bite. I wish so desperately to be wrong...


Winning Ugly

Between grief and nothing (as Mr. Rooney said) I'll take grief. It's better to be on the W side of an ugly game. But I have to tell you this--Bama is in for a LONG year. There are too many teams on the schedule that are good to play like we're playing. All of the things that have concerned me since the hiring of Mike Shula are on full display. Poor play calling, poor game preparation, a serious lack of intensity and focus, too many turnovers...he may be a chip off the old block, but he's way short of his dad. And he doesn't show any signs of improving as a game, either during games (where he still all too often looks like Bambi in the headlights on the sidelines) or in getting the guys ready to play. Mark me down as not being sold.


I Just Called To Say I Love You

In a typically brilliant piece, (it would be well worth your time to read the whole thing) Peggy Noonan reflects on the calls made by the passengers on the hijacked planes on 9/11:

The phone calls and messages left on answering machines, all the last things said to whoever was home and picked up the phone. They awe me, those messages.

Something terrible had happened. Life was reduced to its essentials. Time was short. People said what counted, what mattered. It has been noted that there is no record of anyone calling to say, "I never liked you," or, "You hurt my feelings." No one negotiated past grievances or said, "Vote for Smith." Amazingly --or not--there is no record of anyone damning the terrorists or saying "I hate them."

No one said anything unneeded, extraneous or small. Crisis is a great editor. When you read the transcripts that have been released over the years it's all so clear.


Strap on the Pads, it's Football Time!

Before I was married, I used to tell people football was my second religion...it's now a distant third! But I still get a little extra spring in my step when a new season starts. Admittedly it's hard to get up for a game with a team nicknamed the Rainbow Warriors (although it's certain that Hawaii is playing Bama only for the pot of gold at the end of the ticket line), but still...there's only one thing to say on a day like this:


The Peter Principle

I'm delighted that Steve Centanni of Fox News and his cameraman were released alive by the Palestinian terrorist thugs who kidnapped and held them for nearly two weeks. One of the things that's sparked a lot of comment since their release is the forced "conversion" to Islam they professed at gunpoint. That's been rolling around in the back of my mind for a few days now, and here's my observation.

I don't know what I would do with a gun in my face. I would like to think that I would not accept the "invitation" even with the threat of death. I don't know Centanni's religious persuasion, but the history of the Christian church is filled with martyrs who died rather than renounce their faith in God. Our heritage as believers is derived from people who could not be swayed by torture or even death.

But the real world often intrudes on what we say we would do. None of us who have not been faced with such a threat can say for sure how we would respond. Peter vehemently and postively vowed that he would never deny the Lord, just a few hours before doing so repeatedly. Yet my reflection wouldn't be complete without this closing thought. Peter did deny Christ to save his skin...but he ended his life as a martyr for his faith. He may have failed one test, but he (and God) refused to allow that failure to be the final word on Peter.

So here's my thought for today: Even if you have failed the Lord (and we all do, in ways large and small), that doesn't have to be the end of the story. Maybe rather than being called on to die for your faith, you were called to live it--and failed. Get up and run to the Father for strength and forgiveness and get back in the fight.

And one short PS. Any "religion" that gains its converts at gunpoint is too weak to be worth much in this world or the next.