Get rid of professional all-star games

Tonight, the NBA will hold their annual all-star game which is actually more of a glorified street ball game than an actual contest. I am not even sure defense is allowed to be played or else a player will be given a technical foul! And the same holds true of other all-star games. The NFL all-star game was a complete joke! I have seen more effort at a local park with a bunch of fat guys playing touch football. About the only one that really resembles a contest is the major league baseball game.

I have often wondered why pro sports even have all-star games. I’m sure it is a great honor for a player to be picked for the game but the level of effort at these games is really sad to see. For example, the NBA is playing a condensed schedule this year with many games in a short period of time. Do you think a player will go all out in one of these meaningless all-star games? I certainly would not. I would save my legs for the more important games coming up and not risk getting hurt. That was very apparent during the NFL game last month. The intensity level of that game was alarming. I would have rather watched a bowling match!

There is probably no real solution other than to simply cut these games out. If a want to watch a bunch of NBA all-stars play together, I will watch the Olympics.  The thought of watching a bunch of athletes play half heartedly  in a game that does not mean anything is not appealing to me. It is time for the major sports to scrap their all-star games or dramatically do something to make them more meaningful and interesting.




What would you give up for Lent?

Every year at this time, people talk about what they are going to give up for Lent.  Perhaps, it is a certain food item or maybe a particular luxury like watching television or heavens forbid, logging onto Facebook. I know that would be very difficult for many folks including myself. But the whole idea behind Lent is to give up a certain thing or part of your life for those 6 weeks between Ash Wednesday and the day before good Friday. So what would you give up for Lent?

I have never particularly given up anything for Lent despite the fact that I consider myself a Christian.  But I admire those people who feel the need to make those sacrifices because that is what Jesus did just before he was crucified.  He spent 40 days fasting and his example is something more people should look at.

For instance, getting back to Facebook. I know millions of people are addicted to that silly little website. Suppose you stopped using it for 6 weeks. Would you be able to survive and go on with your life? At first you may say no way!! I love my Facebook and could not survive those 40 days without it. Oh really?!! I know it is a really fun site for many people but look at all the time a person may spend on that site. Maybe there is a better use of your time like helping a family member out or an elderly neighbor across the street.

Or maybe you have a liking for drinking alcoholic beverages. I hear so many people say they are giving up drinking for Lent. By not drinking, you may actually be helping your own health. Maybe after the 6 week period is up, you will find it a lot easier to quit drinking. I personally know people who have done that.

Suppose someone  sat down and really looked at those things they may consider giving up for Lent. Are they really needed in your life? If I had to give up anything for Lent it might be ice cream. I love ice cream but could easily do without it. I could become healthier by not eating it and my grocery bill would be a little smaller each month. Maybe I could use the money I save to send to some charity and help some kid in need.

For those practicing the Christian religion, the period of Lent is all about making sacrifices in your own life so that you can grow and become a more disciplined person. And at the same time,  focusing your attention on what the Christian faith is all about.


The voter ID debate

In just about every election these days, the dirty f word, fraud, is bound to come up.  For instance, how could names and addresses of registered voters not even exist when an investigation takes place? I know it has happened in this state. And there are always those cases when a bunch of ballots suddenly show up and many of them are in favor of a certain candidate. You would have to be very naive to believe that voter fraud does not happen.

In an effort to help curb this problem, many states are requiring people to show a picture id before they go in and vote.  While this is not the full proofed way of preventing all fraud from happening, it can go a long way for eliminating a good portion of it. Yet, there are several people who claim this method will discriminate against lower-income people, older people and college students.

I think that argument is a bunch of crap! First of all, this is the 21st century. How hard is it to get a picture id? You are required to produce a picture id for so many things. Something as important as voting should require an id. It’s a no-brainer!! When I go in and get my license renewed, the bureau place takes a photo of me. Why can’t we issue special id cards for those folks who do not have a photo id? I’m  sure there has to be some way of producing a photo id of everyone who wants to vote. Maybe it is not as simple as I make it out to be but getting a card with a picture on it should not be that difficult for crying out loud!!

Of course a lot of  this deals with partisan politics. Naturally, Democrats are opposed and Republicans are in favor. The thought is this will lower the turnout among poor people and help the Republicans.  I find it hard to believe that in this day and age, this is even an issue. If there is a will to vote, there should be a way.  Of course, it really boils down to people taking the incentive to actually get a picture id. The real issue is why more folks do not have one and what is their excuse.


Religious liberty and government mandates

The recent news of the controversy involving the Catholic church and the Obama administration regarding contraceptives brings up some very interesting points about how far the government should go in forcing mandates on people and institutions.

I personally feel it was a horrible blunder and very insensitive on the part of the administration to force this mandate on Catholic institutions. Every religion has certain guidelines and principles that they follow and teach. Apparently, the Obama administration figured they were above these things by forcing a mandate on those institutions.  You have to wonder if he would have done the same thing to a Muslim institution. Seriously!!  Thankfully and to his credit, he did kind of changed his stance but is it right to force insurance companies to cover contraceptives and force the premiums to go up?

Maybe while he is at it, Obama can force insurance companies to cover other areas such as pedicures, manicures, nose jobs, eye brow waxing, you name it! I thought health insurance was to cover major health issues like heart diseases and cancer. I can see in the very near future when full term abortion will be a required to be covered and imagine the controversy that would bring. That would be totally wrong!

These mandates are just the start of what could happen in this country in the very near future.  Forcing mandates on religious places is not the American way and not very constitutional.  A great thing about this country is the fact that we can have great religious freedom without  government intervention. Hopefully this can continue in the future.  The latest mandate will be remembered by this voter in November.

Linsanity hits the sporting world

First there was Tebowmania, now the sports scene around the country has another upstart athlete to pay attention to. His name is Jeremy Lin and he could very well be the next big superstar in the NBA, but unlike many of the big stars, this kid has basically come out of nowhere.

This country loves underdogs in sports and there is no greater example than Lin.  Up until about a week ago, I had never heard of this guy at all.  He was just another college player, never drafted and cut by a few teams. Somehow, he ended up with Knicks.  I recall watching Sports Center and seeing some unknown point guard for the Knicks pour in 23 in a game last weekend and not really thinking much about it. After all, the Knicks have terrible point guards so maybe this was just a one time occurrence. But Lin backed up it with a few more great games and suddenly he was creating a buzz in the sports world. Suddenly, this guy who was sleeping on his brother’s couch in New York since joining the Knicks, is the talk of the NBA.

Last Friday night, I decided to check out the Lakers vs Knicks game to see first and foremost who this kid is. And believe me, I was very impressed! Seeing him tear up Kobe and the Lakers was very special to see. You just had to be cheering for this guy!! I got goosebumps just watching and seeing the excitement he generated in the Garden and from the nation.

I have no idea if this will continue for Lin but this guy can play. He is a big inspiration to many border line players around the league and other sports too. He could of given up after being cut by two teams but he believed in himself and never gave up. Eventually his time came and he is making the best of it.  He is one of the better sports stories to come about in a long time and a big inspiration to many athletes. I just hope he can continue this play and become an all star.

Remembering Whitney Houston

Like many people, I was stunned to hear of the death of Whitney Houston last night.  It is sad when someone that young, beautiful and talented finds their life cut short at such an early age.

Houston pretty much came of age in the mid 80’s.  I was in college during that time and her countless hits bring back some many fond and not so fond memories of those days in my life.  It was impossible not to turn on any pop music station and listen for more than an hour without hearing a song from her. She was about as big an icon during the 80’s and 90’s as any artist was. I was not a huge fan of her’s but admired that awesome singing voice. Maybe one of the best of all time.

Unfortunately in recent years, many negative stories have been linked to her name.  Stories of drug abuse have somewhat tarnished her image and who can forget the very rough marriage she had with Bobby Brown.  The tabloids had a field day with that relationship. Despite having all that success, she appeared to be a woman who had many problems and battles in her life.  Perhaps those issues eventually lead to her death.

Whitney Houston may be gone but her music lives forever. It is really sad that a woman who sang so passionately about love dies just before Valentine’s Day. She will easily go down as one of the greatest singers of all time.

Thoughts on the Republican nominee battle

Tomorrow is the day when the great people of this state, Minnesota,  hold their caucus to pick the Republican nominee. It has been quite a war so far with what, about 546 debates so far, endless accusations and mud-slinging. But now it appears to be pretty much a two-man race, which may change with Rick Santorum appearing to be picking up steam.  He many even win our state’s nomination.

Actually,  I believe all the candidates left are very solid and have some great ideas that I support.  I love Mitt Romney’s background in the private sector and his ability to balance the budget of his state without raising taxes. Newt Gingrich has many years of experience in Washington and his toughness and good conservative values are impressive as well. Santorum and Ron Paul have a good platform as well although I believe Paul’s foreign policy might be a little extreme. But essentially, Romney appears to be in the driver’s seat to get the nomination although anything can change in the next few months.

The whole idea is to pick a candidate that has the best chance to be Obama and it appears Romney may be that guy in my opinion.  In any election 1/3 of people will vote Democrat, 1/3 Republican no matter who the candidate is. The key is to pursuade the remaining 1/3 and Romney appears to be that guy.  He has a strong record as a governor and plenty of money for campaigning.  If you think his attack ads against Gingrich are bad, imagine what they will be like against Obama. And he will have plenty of them, believe me!!

On the negative side, Obama no doubt will run a class warfare campaign and  the revelation that Romney paid only 15 percent of his total income on taxes will be an issue, albeit all legal and within the system. But the average middle Joe or Jane out there doesn’t understand that and he may get the image as just some rich tax dodging millionaire. I can just see the Democrats coming out with bumper stickers saying,  ” I paid more taxes than Mitt Romney”.  His universal health care plan for his state is very much like Obama’s plan and that will be another issue as well.  His argument that it only fit his state is something he will have to hammer home with the voters.

I really like Newt Gingrich but the former Speaker of the House has some serious baggage issues, not necessarily with his past marriages, but with his time served as the Speaker. His ethic violations and criticism about his leaderships style, even coming from Bob Dole, is a concern . But I like his experience and seeing him debate  Obama would be a treat.

Late in the summer, a candidate will be picked. Then the real battle will begin in what promises to be one of the toughest presidential races of all time. Will the Republicans pick the right guy or are we in for another four more years of Obama? It should be very interesting to say the least!!