president bush, “citizen”

Was pleasantly surprised to see the human side of President George W. Bush on Oprah’s talk show yesterday. I didn’t follow his comings and goings while he lived in the White House, so I can’t say I had any inkling what he was really like, personally. Professionally, I saw what the mainstream media offered 24/7. As we all know, much is taken out of context, to support whatever viewpoint is being touted. And, of course, he wasn’t “my man,” although I did vote him into office (like others who thought he might do a good job…hmmm), so I wasn’t inclined to follow George W.’s every move.

Relaxed, congenial, smiling broadly and freely, citizen Bush looked like someone I’d vote for all over again. (Except now I know better.) I guess all Presidents stop aging at lightning speed, once their terms are over. Then they seem to drop 5-10 years off their appearances. Yes, even Clinton, with his full head of white hair. Maybe it’s the strict diet he’s been on, no meat, no dairy, only grains, fruits, and a little fish.

Both Clinton and George W. had their “moments,” which will be a major part of their political legacies, Monica Lewinsky, and the Iraq War which contributed to a near-Depression. As the years advance, such remembrances recede into the corners of our minds, where “cobwebs” form and other memories replace them. That is until some incident stirs up the media, causing them to troll the “archives,” digging up the dirt once more, causing another frenzy. That seems to be the way of the world, our human world.

Life has a way of moving forward, even after major strife, President Clinton faced impeachment proceedings, and in the aftermath of Katrina, President Bush faced unfavorable rhetoric for his failure to respond quickly. Now that both are “ordinary” citizens, we celebrate personal events with them, Chelsea’s recent marriage, and the familial love of the Bush family, as seen on video during Oprah’s interview.

In the “heat of the moment,” I too was angry with these Presidents for their failure to perform their jobs as I, and others, expected. But now I can appreciate them as men with loved ones, subject to human frailties, having done their best with what talents, and shortcomings they brought to the Presidency, Clinton’s womanizing and his stepfather’s alcoholism, and Bush’s alcoholic past. Perhaps we’ll be as generous, when we reflect upon President Obama’s time in office. I’m getting a head start, I already am.

bush gave oprah a huge hug; i do the same for him, and other presidents, past and present, huge hugs for their service…hugmamma.

NFL, for the men

My recent focus has been women, so I’m turning the limelight over to the men.

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, an interesting article got my attention “Who Forgot to Turn Off the NFL?” I have a difficult time paying homage to athletes with attitude who make a lot of money. So I perused the paragraphs, searching for ammunition to bolster my opinion. The subtitle read “As Football Booms, Once-Sleepy Training Camps Become Stages for Grudges, Boasts, PR Stunts and Psychodramas.” Aha! I thought. Here’s fodder for me to chew on.

The article opens with remarks by Dick Vermeil, former NFL coach,  “Sometimes in your effort to make the team better, you bring in players who bring a lot of attention to themselves,…These distractions are an irritation.” The article goes on to list some of the “sideshows.” Cincinnati’s camera-hogging wide receiver Terrel Owens and media magnet Chad Ochocinco are teaming up as “Hot Summer Couples!” Washington’s defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth has failed to pass the Redskin’s fitness test. Might it have anything to do with the fact that he opted out of the team’s off-season training program? Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady hasn’t yet recommitted, once this final year in his 6-year contract expires. Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens safety, grumbles that he’s not able to quickly access game film from the team. Minnesota Viking quarterback Brett Favree still “sits on the fence” about retiring (for the third consecutive year). Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steeler’s quarterback, returned to camp before serving “a multigame league-issued suspension after an incident at a Georgia nightclub.”

NFL Network analyst and former Steeler defensive back and Hall of Famer, Rod Woodson describes current league athletes as “mouthier…and less beholden to the idea that all team business should be handled in the locker room. ‘Today’s players seem like they have an agenda every time they speak to the media,’…” Vermeil contends that “the NFL’s summer landscape has become increasingly loony.” even before the training camps commenced. A contributing factor might be the NFL’s increased popularity. According to Harris Interactive, pro football “has risen to a 35% favorable rating among American adults in 2009, a 46% increase since 1985.” In the past decade it’s shown an average 3.7% increase in regular season TV ratings, while three other major U.S. pro sports leagues saw an average 35% drop in ratings.

“The appetite for all things NFL was apparent Friday in Westminster, Md., when 11,506 attended the Ravens’ first full-squad practice, the largest turnout for a nonscrimmage practice in team history. When the big-talking Jets arrived at their camp site in Cortland, N.Y., on Sunday, 1,500 fans lined the street to welcome them.” Woodson seems perplexed that the league is in the news even when nothing’s going on.

Patriot’s longtime coach, Bill Belichick seems to suggest that present day players are being coddled. ” ‘Compared to when I came into the league, there is no training camp,…in 1975, we started camp July 5 and our first regular-season game was Sept. 21. It was forever; it was 2 1/2 months. So has training camp changed? (The players) have no idea.’ 

 The article ventures to add that training camps in earlier times were “far more likely to induce yawning.” The big news in 1990 from the Vikings camp was how to get more touches for running back Herschel Walker, and that 5 players from the Chicago Bears missed their camp startup. The San Fransisco Chronicle reported one day that phone service in the 49ers dorm was temporarily disrupted.

Comparing the hoopla surrounding NFL training camps today, former NFL coach Jerry Glanville claims “that training camps have always been crazy. The only real difference is the impression itself. ‘It’s just covered better…Nothing that’s going on hasn’t happened before 100 times.’ ” He remembers when the Houston Oilers required players to “complete a mile run in six minutes in order to practice. But the team’s star running back, Earl Campbell, couldn’t do it. The team’s coach at the time, Bum Phillips, came up with a solution, Mr. Glanville said: ‘If it’s 4th-and-a-mile, I won’t give him the ball.’ ”

Have the fans unknowingly created modern-day NFL Frankensteins who lay claim to all they see? Or are we unfairly scrutinizing every detail of their lives in an attempt to know them better? Do the players call attention to themselves, or do the fans put the spotlight on the players with unrelenting adulation? Maybe there’s enough guilt to go around.

what do you think?…hugmamma

“read” the fine print

Whether in black and white or Technicolor, we are all guilty of not “reading” the fine print. The current brouhaha over Shirley Sherrod is proof positive. Of course this is not the first example of our propensity for “signing on the dotted line” before examining all the details with a magnifying glass. Are we a lazy society, an all-about-me society, or just plain dumb?

There but for the “grace of God” go I. Shirley Sherrod went about her work, as we all do, unaware that blogger Andrew Breitbart and his YouTube video snippet was about to catapult her onto the world stage. I’m certain we’d all like our moment in the spotlight; if we could choose the moment. We’d like to “crop” the photo-op to our liking, not assign someonelse the task. Because you know it’ll be to their specifications. Chances are 50-50 that it’ll be a “hatchet” job.

The media, the Department of Agriculture, the NAACP and, it seems, even the White House did not look at the “fine print.” Breitbart had an axe to grind on the back of Sherrod. Called upon the carpet after all the facts were made known, Breitbart has refocused his sights and is now targeting the NAACP. Seems like a more fitting opponent, especially since they were willing to throw Sherrod “under the bus.”

Reader beware. In an internet savvy world we are all open to being misunderstood in a BIG way. We can’t hide. No matter how nimbly we tread, there’s no guarantee that we are not on somebody’s “radar.” What can we do? Nothing, I’m afraid. We’re beyond returning to the “womb.” Privacy is no longer an option, it seems. Proof?

Facebook is being acclaimed as a purveyor of member information. That is not enough to discourage millions from joining. It seems AOL was forced out of India because Facebook dominated the scene there. Rather than relegating Facebook to ignominy, a movie will soon be released giving the internet giant even more exposure. Know what? I’m sure the film will earn millions because moviegoers don’t get that Facebook is really about Facebook, not its members.

Yes, I’m a Facebook member, a very reluctant one. I congratulate its genius for creating a social network that surpasses one’s wild imaginings. However that alone doesn’t atone for their blase attitude about member privacy. My excuse for joining was to view my daughter’s work videos. It irked me when others could see her dance and I couldn’t. If it weren’t for this compelling reason, I would’ve continued to keep Facebook at arm’s length, a GOLIATH’S arm’s length.  But moms will surely agree that our children get us to do things we wouldn’t otherwise do. 

So how do we live our lives going forward? I would suggest we heed the  ATTENTION TO DETAIL “Read” the fine print as best we can. We’re not perfect so we’ll miss some things. When we do we should pause, breathe deeply, and restart our “engines.” More importantly we should feel compassion for others, for unless we “walk in their shoes” we can’t know what they’re really about. The old adage  “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” still applies. In her 80’s, my mother-in-law still purports to living a mantra spoken by a local tv personality in his daily ’60’s talk show. “IF YOU CAN’T SAY SOMETHING NICE ABOUT SOMEBODY, DON’T SAY ANYTHING.” (I’ve taken the liberty of correcting some grammar, because the original phrase used more culturally appropriate language for the viewing audience.)

trying to stay under the “radar”…hugmamma