The Gospel Truth

A Political Football Part I

January 30, 2010

I remember when we first moved to St. Louis 40 years ago that we had a party and the sister of a priest friend asked me to make her a scotch and coke.

Now I know very little about chemistry or the fine art of mixology but I do know that what the inexperienced drinker ordered had the potential of being a toxic cocktail.

I am starting to feel the same about sports and religion.  I interviewed Joe Garagiola 35 years ago and he talked of the way baseball players were making novenas before they actually got into the batter’s box.

He said his friend Yogi once wiped out the sign of the cross that Jimmy Piersall used to  draw in the dirt.  Yogi told him “why don’t you just let God watch the game.” (That’s why they had the hole in the old Dallas stadium so God could watch His team.)

Politics and sports, as well as war and sports have always been fair game for analogies.  Friday’s paper had a stern and defiant president demanding that the Republicans get off the sidelines and get in the game.

Oh I think they have been in the game all along.  It has been his horrendous play calling that has driven them off the field.

Maybe his team should just punt since they have done little to advance the ball of prosperity the past year.  Let the other side give it a try.

Franklin Roosevelt used to call himself the quarterback who would use all sorts of plays to advance the economy.

I hate to tell those who thought he scored all the time that he fumbled the ball on most occasions and even tried to intimidate the Supreme Court Referees by bringing in his own pack of judges.

But religion is different!  As I said with the McGwire flap, it was bad enough trying to understand the economics of sports with salary caps, exorbitant contracts, union negations and the season-ending strike of 1994.

Now I have to understand the science of steroid-cocktails, greenies and all sorts of pharmacological mixtures that detracts from the game on the field.

Now it seems abortion has embedded its ugly head on the playing landscape.

An abortion controversy is brewing that involves Tim Tebow, the outstanding quarterback from the University of Florida and the first sophomore ever to win the Heisman trophy.

An outstanding young man, Tim was also the first college football player both to rush and pass for 20 touchdowns in a season. In the past three seasons he led his Gators to two national championships.  This year he fell just short, losing to the eventual champion, Alabama’s Crimson Tide.

At 6 feet 3 inches and 245 pounds, Tim Tebow is an imposing figure.  History might regard him as the greatest college football player who ever lived.

During this coming Super Bowl he hopes to pay tribute to his mother by producing an ad that is scheduled to air on CBS during the February 7th game.

While the ad was produced by Focus on the Family, an admittedly a pro-life group, it is not a negative attack on Planned Parenthood for the evil they do behind closed doors.

Tim’s story and especially that of his mother is an inspiring one.  His parents Bob and Pam Tebow, who was pregnant with their fifth child when they traveled to the Philippines on a missionary trip about 23 years ago.

Pam contracted amoebic dysentery and the medicines used for her recovery threatened her unborn child—Tim.  Her doctors advised her to abort the her son.

Fortunately for Tim, his mother ignored their advice and gave birth to him on Aug. 14, 1987.

She had listened to her heart and her conscience instead of a medical doctor who was living in defiance of his Hippocratic Oath and advising her to do harm to her unborn child.

It is a travesty that the pro-abortionists have politicized  medicine by almost eliminating that oath from its ethical training and trying to force all medical schools—even Catholic ones to teach abortion techniques.

Makes you wonder where your doctor stands when you are elderly and they want to pull the plug on you before your time is up.  Or maybe they just need your bed for a wealthier patient.

Now they are trying to turn the Super Bowl into an a political football issue.

Tim Tebow is a living embodiment of what women sacrifice on their altar of choice.  He’s 245 pounds of human flesh and blood that had his mother listened to her doctor, would have been flushed down the memory hole of history.

There’s more to the Tebrows’ story but I will save it to later in the week.  I will also add some comments about the “coach,” St. Louis University’s Rick Majerus and how every time he opens his mouth off the court he sticks his ample foot in it.  Someone should off him a gag of common sense and verbal logic.

A Torn Garment

January 25, 2010

In May of 2008 I interviewed Father Frank Pavone the director of Priests for Life on Phyllis Schlafly’s weekly radio program on KSIV.  In discussing his 2006 book, Ending Abortion, I noticed that he had substituted the term, A Consistent Life Ethic, for the old Seamless Garment.

The latter was a metaphor employed by the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin that expanded the range of life issues from abortion and euthanasia to a broader horizon that included nuclear war, poverty, labor unions, and the minimum wage.

The Cardinal’s metaphor has always bothered me because its very name implied a moral equivalency among many disparate issues.  A priest friend told me years ago that it trivialized abortion opposition.  It is a bad garment that the Church should tear to pieces.  Otherwise they will never win the battle over abortion.

Over the last many years, the garment has had the unintended consequence of allowing several Catholic politicians to hide their pro-abortion promotion under its mantel.  Illinois Senator Dick Durbin ran a poll on its 22 “moral” issues among the 15 Catholics in the Senate in 2004.

The surprising “winner” was pro-choice advocate John Kerry with a score of 64%.

Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, then the only anti-abortion Catholic senator, finished at the back of the pack.  Pope John Paul II let the world know that there was a hierarchy of life issues in his encyclical, The Gospel of Life, when he wrote abortion and euthanasia are crimes, which no human law can legitimize.

The issue that has caused the most consternation for those of us who want to concentrate on the primary life issues has been the death penalty.

No other garment issue has distracted more from the energy needed to fight abortion and euthanasia than the death penalty.

Curiously, most of the pro-abortion Catholic Senators in Durbin’s poll were against the death penalty. I find it difficult to understand Catholics who can condone the slaughter of over 43 million unborn children since 1973 and yet protect the lives of convicted murderers.

Since 1930 fewer than 5000 convicted criminals have been executed.  This has been usually after having exercised their constitutional rights of due process, including lengthy appeals, a last meal, clergy council, and family visitation.  This was far more than they granted their innocent victims.

The Catholic sense of proportionality alone should require us not to exert any undo efforts on this lesser cause when there is still so much to be done in truly ending abortion.

On an intellectual level my main problem with the death penalty is that I have not heard one argument against it that makes any sense.  Most opposition focuses on anecdotal stories of emotional hyperbole that in some cases have bordered on a pitted assault on our judicial system.

Other arguments have abused the English language to the extent that words have lost their meaning.  They say that the death penalty is vengeance and legalized murder.

If so, than all punishment is revenge and incarceration is legalized kidnapping. When language flies out the window, true justice goes with it.

During Mass years ago, one priest asked us to pray for the end of the intrinsic evils of abortion and the death penalty. Contrary to his moral equation, my college ethics book in the early 1960s, complete with an imprimatur, listed the death penalty as one of the three moral exceptions to the Fifth Commandment. (Sixth Commandment in Protestant Churches)

If the death penalty were intrinsically evil, then the Church is guilty of having taught evil for a 1000 years.

Every so often a salacious murder surfaces underscores the internal weakness of the death penalty abolitionists.  I am referring to the brutal slayings in Cheshire, Connecticut in 2007.  Joshua Komisarjevsky and Stephen Hayes broke into the home of Dr. William A. Petit, Jr. and his family.  They knocked the husband unconscious.

Then they raped and strangled his wife Jennifer and molested his daughters, 11-year old Michaela and Hayley,17, tying them to their beds in the process. They set the house on fire. The father broke free of his restraints and escaped but his daughters died of smoke inhalation.

In defeating the tireless efforts of abolitionist, State Representative Michael Lawlor, a Democrat, out-going Governor, Republican M. Jodi Rell cited only one case–the Cheshire murders.

I know this is an anecdotal example and there is always the issue of ambitious DA’s abusing their power and prosecuting the wrong person but on a whole the only way that justice can be served is with the availability of the death penalty for such heinous, inhumane crimes, such as the Cheshire killings.

As Petit said “My family got the death penalty and you want to give murderers life. That’s not justice!”  He could have added that his family perished without any benefit of a trial.  I don’t think anyone can argue with this.

The only argument that I have to listen to is the one made by Pope John Paul II in his Gospel of Life. As an addendum to his implicit condemnation of the seamless garment the pope stated that he believed that the cases necessitating the death penalty were very rare, if not practically non-existent because of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system.

Unfortunately he did not illustrate what these improvements were that allowed for his modification of a Church teaching.  His statement seems to contradict many other opponents of the death penalty who think that the justice system is in total disarray.

Until I hear a more coherent answer, I will adhere to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which allows for the right and duty of legitimate public authorities to punish malefactors by means of penalties in commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty.

As an after-thought, I wonder how many of you have seen the Sean Penn movie, Dead Man Walking, loosely based on the efforts of Sister Helen Prejean, an ardent opponent of the death penalty?  I think it is a great ad FOR the death penalty.  Tell me what you think by making a comment

A Saturday Morning Stroll

January 22, 2010

The recent seismic disaster in Haiti should cause all of us to pause and consider the fragility and fleetness of life.  As the poet John Donne wrote centuries ago, every man’s death diminishes our own lives.  When the bell tolls for one or for 250,000 Haitians, it signifies that some day a bell will toll for us.

At Holy Cross my alma mater in Worcester, Massachusetts, it has been standard policy for many years to send a simple postcard, tolling the bell for a newly deceased classmate.

I have always dreaded receiving these messages of death.  While the harmless looking cards might signal the loss of a friend whom I had lost track, they also contained the unwritten message that someday, Holy Cross would be sending a card with my name on it.

Most people don’t like to think of death, especially their own.  I think Woody Allen had it right when he said: I don’t mind dying. I just don’t what to be there when it happens!

I doubt if any Catholic or Christian can ignore thinking about it.  It is part of the ritual of our faith.

On January 22nd of every year the Catholic Church takes part in a national memorial service all over the country to recognize that a “culture of death” that has regrettably become part of the American heritage, embedded deeply, not just in the Federal Constitution but also the mores of the land.

Two years ago my wife and I journeyed to Washington to march on the 35th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that established abortion as part of our culture.

The weather was overcast and a bit chilly but the rain and snow held up for the entire afternoon.  It was just the two of us, and 350,000 of our closest friends that marched up Constitution Blvd. toward the Supreme Court Building.

We walked right in front of the Archbishop of St. Louis, Raymond Burke as he led about 60 seminaries in the Rosary.  I came perilously close to tripping him as I veered into his path at one point.

It was so refreshing to see the young and old, walking together for a cause that truly exposes the evil that has slowly been poisoning the soul of America’s true humanitarian spirit.  The overwhelming response to the devastation in Haiti just underscores the deep contradiction that abortion has caused in America’s soul.

Like the millions of stricken Haitians, the unborn are a part of our human family.  They are an endangered species that has fewer rights than the bald eagle or the snail darter.

As the march ended and we were working our way back to the historic Willard Hotel where we were staying, the sun peaked out from the clouds… as if God was giving us His thanks.

My wife later told me that this march was one of the most memorial things she had ever done as a Catholic.  That’s saying something because we were married in the Church, had three children and four children baptized and two Catholic weddings.

My wife and I usually do the local march in St. Louis.  This January I had to leave her home.  After a Mass Archbishop Robert Carlson led us over to the Planned Parenthood “killing center” on Boyle and Forest Parkway.

It wasn’t a bad day–a little chilly.  We have made this eight block walk in all sorts of dismal conditions.  One year there was a light snowfall we walked to Forest Parkway.   My wife had several snowflakes randomly decorating her hair and earmuffs.

I think at that moment she looked more beautiful to me than any other time I could remember to that point.  I wish I had the foresight to have taken her picture.

This year as I strolled along the route, trying to keep up with the prayers coming through the hand-held radios, my mind started wandering.  I could feel this wonderful and exhilarating sense of peace and unity. I was among the best and nicest people I had ever know.  What a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

Over the 24 years I have been associated with this cause, these people have filled me with a sense of compassion, dedication and humility that I have never had before.

I felt warm just by being around them…no matter what the temperature. I have watched them age, some could hardly walk and yet they still come every year.

When we got to the site, we lined up on the west side of their building and said another Rosary.

A recent issue of the Sunday Visitor featured the story of a nine-year-old girl who joined her mother at an abortion protest, not unlike this one, at the notorious site of the late Dr. George Tiller’s abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas.

Before his murder last year Tiller performed late-term abortions.  I have even seen pictures of his oven that he used to dispose of his victims.

When one “client” eased by in her car the little girl asked her not to kill her baby. Perhaps it was her innocence or the pleading eyes of the little girl, or maybe the grace of God— perhaps they were the same thing but she decided to spare her child and drove away with the life within her intact and uninterrupted.

Rumor spread quickly our ranks that the protestors that do this every week had similarly saved another life. Maybe it doesn’t sound like a lot but to those two babies it is everything.  Life is truly a gift from God that we all have to cherish and respect in all its stages.

I used to have a bumper sticker “Chose Life” for years.  A friend told us that her daughter–pregnant and unmarried— saw it in my driveway and decided to keep her baby.  We just never know when what we do will positively affect another person’s life–in this case two people’s lives.

As I was standing there, I noticed that Planned Parenthood had a sign about their “quality, affordable health care.”  It sounds like “Obama Care,” has now become “Obamabortion Care.”  If pregnancy is a disease, I guess we are all a little bit sick.

A Big Mac Attack Part II

January 17, 2010

We all know now that McGwire was thinking of quitting, so bad was his pain in the early 1990’s from a chronic heel problem.

The idea of such a gentle giant succumbing to an “Achilles Heel” malady is laden with a rich irony.

Suppose he did quit in 1994?  I doubt I would still be a baseball fan!   Just as the Babe did in 1921, “Big Mac” literally saved baseball for me and I’ll wager millions of other die-hard baseball fans.

He literally took it off the railroad tracks of self-destruction in 1998 before the sinister villain of owner/player greed eviscerated it for all time.

“Big Mac” led a cavalry charge over the hills to save the wagon train.  With a little help from Sammy Sosa, McGwire pulled baseball back from the brink.

For those with short memories…in 1993 Major League Baseball was forced to cancel it annual World Series because the billionaire owners could not get an agreement with their millionaire players.

As a result we were all deprived of parts of two seasons and…the WORLD SERIES.

The last time there was no Fall Classic was 1904 when the National League’s John McGraw refused to play the upstart league’s champion Philadelphia Athletics.

In those 50 years baseball had survived two world wars, a Depression, Korea and Vietnam and several political assassinations.  It was unforgivable.

That’s like someone canceling Christmas because the elves went on strike.  It’s like the Pope refusing to say Midnight Mass in the Vatican because his Swiss Guard had gone on strike.

And believe me baseball has always been my game. Due to my indelible attraction for the game, I later taught what is arguably the first accredited baseball history course in the midwest at Maryville College in 1973-74.

Unlike most of our “professional experts” I have studied the game in its entirety and know its history–even its sordid side.

For me to walk away from a game I have loved and cherished since I first heard Vince Scully’s dulcet tones describe Pee Wee Reese ‘s sterling play at short-stop in 1952, would be tantamount to Tiger Woods forgoing golf and  saying he was entering a Buddhist monastery.  (Maybe he should do just that!)

What McGwire admitted to having done pales in comparison to the Black Sox of 1919, Ty Cobb’s beating of a crippled heckler in 1910 and Pete Rose’s nasty demeanor.

And while I am on Rose a USA Today columnist had the thoughtless temerity of favorably comparing him with Mark McGwire.

I suggest that she read a little history and then maybe she might understand that it was gambling that nearly killed baseball for good in 1920. What McGwire did in the short run at least was very good for baseball.

Those who had suspicions, like writer Ring Lardner did in 1919, should have raised them when baseball was losing its hold on the public consciousness.

Fat chance our keepers of the faith would have further jeopardized their dying golden goose.  It is only under the protective coating of baseball’s boundless success and record attendance–largely due to “juiced” players that they dare rock the boat of baseball history.

So please stop with all the self-righteous, “holier than thou” gum-beating!

About Big Mac’s regrettable appearance before Congress–just what business does the United States Congress have with baseball? Like they are the beacons of honesty and integrity?

Haven’t these people already ruined much of what is decent about American life?  Why do they have to put their ignorance to work on our once great National Pastime? Aren’t these the same people who are trying to destroy the best health care system in the world?

I knew immediately that McGwire refusal to answer their questions was the work of his attorneys. They could not get him immunity, so as they say  “silence is golden.” (I wonder how much gold he had to pay them and if he got his money’s worth.)

Now we find out that they warned him that he could have suffer prosecution or a grand jury hearing if he said the wrong thing.  What would trigger that?

Had “Big Mac” broken the laws of the land or were they referring to his denials as being perjury?  It seems to me all this flap about drugs and steroids–are they the same thing?  Are all steroids essentially the same?  Are they all bad for you?

I have always resented having to learn economics to understand baseball…now I’ll have to study pharmacology!

Too bad it just wasn’t just about sex…. Tiger Woods could have lied his head off in front of Congress and no one would have cared, except maybe Kenneth Starr.

Let Congress investigate golf and leave baseball alone!

I think one could make the case that both his “co-defendants” before Congress who even addressed their questions might have perjured themselves.

Sammy Sosa immediately forgot what little English he knew and Rafael Palmeiro vehemently denied he had used anything.  When he was busted months later for doing what he denied it made his testimony very suspect.

And how can anyone gauge if his steroid use added any home runs to his total?  Most of his dingers I saw cleared the walls by 50-100’.  How far did he really need to hit them? Do you think the Governator could hit a fastball or Lou Ferrigno?

McGwire still had to hit the ball.  Look at his rookie photos with Oakland when he was relatively slender.  He hit 49 home runs, still the rookie record I believe.

Lets face it since 1968 when no one in the American League could hit more than .301 baseball has done everything in its power to add power to the game. If you are looking for the origin of the “untraditional” DH, 1968 is arguably where to start.

To help the batter, ML baseball lowered the mound, outlawed pitching inside.  They also made smaller stadia while batters padded themselves like goalies.

Baseball did everything but make them pitch underhand or better put the ball on a tee.

As an aside to the Maris family who now say that McGwire’s admission means that their late father regains his home run record.

Maris hit his 61 home runs in 163 games.  Babe Ruth hit 60 in 155 games.  Maris got his 60th in his 156th game and his last one in the last game of the 1961 season.

So if McGwire is off the pedestal he stood on for three years, I think so is their dad.

To this with all due respect, get a life.  Without the other “M” in the Yankee line-up hitting in front of their dad, I seriously doubt he would have broken the Babe’s record.  And he had a longer season to surpass the Babe.

And to people who say that they should expunge all their records, thinking that makes as much sense as whistling “Dixie” in a dark alley in Harlem.

And what about Barry Bonds, who looks like he has been filled with helium? He broke a lot of hearts with his 73rd homer run in 2001.

Was he injured?  Rumor has it that he “pumped up” to beat “Big Mac.”  Now I have trouble with that attitude.

From what I understand he has more trouble with the IRS than he does over any home run record.

Look I have studied “Big Mac” from afar for years and think he is an honest, decent, quiet, almost shy kind of giant, who like his mentor and boss, Tony LaRussa does not impress with his communication skills.

I think he is still very family oriented and as he said, he did not want to put them through the anal exam that Congress often pleasures itself with.  I can believe that.  So I am glad that he is coming back to baseball because it was poorer without him.

I hope he can get his reputation back and maybe even make the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

I am however, eternally grateful that he did not go on with Oprah to make his teary confession.  That might have been more than I can take!

And finally I have my own “confession” to make. Though I do not list it in my bio, one of my favorite accomplishments was capturing a photo of “Big Mac’s” historic 70th homer on September 27, 1998.  It now hangs in the “McGwire Room” in one of the leading trattorias in Clayton.

A Big Mac Attack Part I

January 14, 2010

During the first time we visited England in 1986, we had just finished touring Windsor Castle.  It was around 2PM and we had nothing to eat since our prunes and cereal at 7AM.  The only available place for a quick-lunch was a McDonald’s or as our children used to say, “a Mickey D’s.”

I must confess that I was a cultural anomaly because in my 43 years I had never eaten in one before.  It was the best tasting, most delicious meal I consumed on the whole trip—let’s face it the Brits are not known for their culinary skills.  It was like being back in the states.

I guess you could say that this was my first really “Big Mac Attack.”

Well I have been listening and watching a new, more vituperative “Big Mac Attack” that is starting to frost my pancakes.

Mark McGwire, the retired home run hitter who gave so much to St. Louis is under an assault that maybe only George Bush or Sarah Palin could relate to.

Most of our local writers, commentators and pundits and many in national newspapers–the self-appointed “guardians of the game” have all chipped in with their two-cents worth of analysis…and quite frankly Scarlet, I don’t give a…. what they think.

The recent flap attendant to Big Mac’s “confession” has left me with more questions than I really need.

First all what exactly did he do wrong?  I remember when some snoopy reporter saw a bottle of “Andro,” (short for Androstenetrione) in his locker at Busch Stadium in plain sight.  Mac wasn’t trying to hide anything.

He has recently admitted to taking HGH—a human growth hormone, which as advertised on the NET seems to have some health benefits—so they say.  Was he taking anything else?  All I have read is STEROIDS lumped together as if they all did the same thing.

If I remember correctly baseball and our “brave keepers of the flame” did not say much if anything about drugs–outside of cocaine, marijuana and the like–but nothing about performance enhancement drugs in the early 1990s.  Does this include caffeine, vitamins and the ubiquitous “greenies?”

Could we not say that the media failed dismally to properly monitor the situation while players were corking their arms, instead of their bats?

Or just maybe they liked the ride McGwire et all gave the game that had declined in interest in 1994.

In 1986 when Cards manager Whitey Herzog had confiscated a boatload of Mets’ slugger Howard Johnson’s bats for analysis–yeah they cut them in pieces to see if he had “cheated,” I quipped that he corked his arms instead of his bats.  Little did I know I was a modern Nostradamus!

While I am on it, let me say that baseball players are ALWAYS looking for the edge that will help them compete better.   Cheating is the nature of the game.  That’s why they have umpires. The late Billy Martin once said, Cheating in baseball is just like hot dogs, French fries and cold Cokes.

Some critics have made a distinction between cheating on the field which can be detected and cheating behind the scenes which is presumably more difficult to detect.

Gaylord Perry, who threw a doctored ball, is in the Hall of Fame, as is the great New York manager John McGraw. But when Perry put his KY Jelly on the ball he did it on the mound before the umpires, opponents, and fans. So the argument goes he could have been caught.

When John McGraw was coaching at third and he held the runner’s belt to slow him down, McGraw risked getting caught in the act.  Actually one smart runner unhooked his belt and McGraw was left “holding the evidence.”

Is that a fair distinction–no cheating off the field?  Maybe so but when “Big Mac” was allegedly “doctoring” himself, to my mind, major league baseball did not have a coherent policy for pharmaceuticals–and that’s what we are talking about–not hard drugs per se.

These are not children like us, playing in the schoolyard where we judged our own plays, usually with honesty and fairness…because we were kids and no money was involved.

Big contracts and Big TV has changed all that.  These athletes are under great pressure to produce or take up coaching.

But leave it the press–they made a federal case out of his using this drug, which was not on any major league banned list at that time.

And why did he use it?  He said to promote healing.  When athletes work out using hundreds of pounds of weight in several repeats they literally tear hundreds of tiny capillaries that cause soreness the next day.  That might prevent them from a vigorous workout the next day.

If he was just using “Andro” or any other drug to speed his healing process, is that so wrong?

I know this for a fact.  When I work out with my wife’s “girlie man” 3lb weights, I can’t raise my arms above my head for three days.

I know the man did the work.  So what is the big deal that he used steroids for medicinal purposes?  I drink red wine for the same reason.

I have also taken steroids for an allergic reaction to some enzyme in a salad dressing.  And I still can’t hit the fastball or the curve— let alone all the “trick pitches” they use today.

Did I develop the physique of behemoth or the curves of a woman?

Besides the periodic shaving of my tongue, I have had no problem whatsoever.

I just wish someone had developed a mouthwash that acts like a depilatory.

A recent New York Times article reported that “Big Mac” seriously considered quitting baseball in the early 1990s because of a recurring heel problem.  So he was advised to take the steroids to literally heal his heel.  Why is that so hard to believe or accept?

If he had a doctor’s prescription would that have changed the public’s perception?

Whom would you more readily believe—“Big Mac” or that pariah, Jose Conseco (the author of Juiced) who wants to sell more books?  To me he’s Jim Bouton without the raw humor.

(Bouton wrote a revolutionary tell-all book about baseball, Ball Four in 1971 that charaterized his fellow Yankee teammates, Mickey Mantle as a voyeur and Yogi Berra as some kind of “naked ape.”)

I think it is patently unfair to judge “Big Mac” by what happened after he hung up his spikes. Does that justify steroids?  I really don’t know.  Have we had an open and honest discussion about the pros and cons of this issue?

Should healing drugs be the exception?  I think that depends on if it does any permanent damage to a player’s health.

Do steroids really enhance a player’s performance?  Many people seem to think so.  And if so how much?

Others say it just has a placebo effect—gives the player the feeling and confidence that he can give the ball a long ride.

Maybe taking steroids is a lot like smoking cigarettes and should be left up to a person’s free choice when it involves the “care of his own body?  Where have I heard that argument before?

To me this issue is a lot more complicated than the righteous indignation emanating from most pressrooms and media pulpits.

(Look for more discussion on this salient issue early next week

The Cellophane President PART II

January 11, 2010

Let’s go back to Obama’s birth.  Do we really know if he is a native-born American?  A big controversy erupted when some people questioned his constitutional qualifications for the presidency.  Was Obama actually born in the United States?  This is not an extraordinary question.

Republican Barry Goldwater’s opponents raised the same question during the 1964 campaign.  Goldwater had been born in 1909 when Arizona was still a territory.  It was a legitimate question and the courts found that a US territory still made him a native-born American

The same question was asked of Arizona Senator John McCain before the 2000 election.  He was born in 1936 well after it became a state in 1912 but he was born in the Canal Zone where his father was serving in the United States Navy.  The courts also decided in his favor and he was deemed eligible for the presidency.

Now President Obama says he was born on August 4, 1961 in Hawaii. Hawaii became a state in 1959 so that is not in question.

Many say he was actually born in Kenya because his paternal grandmother says she was there and witnessed his birth.  She has never been to Hawaii to my knowledge.

To date no one has ever produced an official Hawaiian birth certificate.  I have seen some fake birth certificates without the official state seal.  They are the only “evidence” that has ever been offered as “proof.”

I guess Obama is more important that Goldwater or McCain and can‘t be troubled by the formalities of answering the questions about his eligibility to be president.

This would be a simple problem to solve—like Jerry Maguire could have said…Show me the real certificate!

There have been several lawsuits trying to get the proof one way or another and the Obama camp has spent over a million dollars just to thwart attempts at closing the issue.  The beat goes on!!!

I have also seen a report that alleges that his boyhood mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, the self-professed communist was his natural father, which would make the other accusations moot.  In his first book, Dreams from My Father, Obama says “Frank” was like a father to me.

At first thought this sounds far-fetched— something not even worthy of the tabloids, yet their facial resemblance is uncanny.  If one put both Barack Senior and Davis in a line-up, Davis would win hands down. Too bad we can’t do a DNA test.

When he wasn’t fomenting against the USA, Davis was a prolific writer.  While he wrote a good deal of poetry, he did write a soft-core pornographic novel that involved a Lolita-like affair with a 14-year-old girl, named Ann.  The book was entitled: Sex Rebel: Black (Memories of a Gash Gourmet) in 1968 under the pseudonym, Bob Greene.

(Warning: the title and its content are X-rated!)

Davis was said to have been a close friend of Obama’s grandfather, Stanley Dunham.  It would not have been inconceivable that Ann Dunham was the girl in the book.  But then again like with JFK we probably will never know the truth.

Then there is the cloud of silence that has descended over his college career.  We know next to nothing about his first two years at Pepperdine University in California.  The same goes for his last two years at Columbia in New York City.

What were his grades?  We saw George W.”s and even John Kerry’s in 2004.  How come we don’t know how well or poorly he did?

Then there is Barack Obama’s stay in Indonesia with his mother and stepfather Lolo Soetoro in 1967.

In 2007 an Associated Press photograph revealed an image of Obama’s registration card at Indonesia’s Fransiskus Assisi School, a Catholic institution.

The school card listed Barry Soetoro as an Indonesian citizen born Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His religion is listed as Muslim.

Given the world situation with radical Islam and the West, and all the recent attacks or attempts on Americans from Muslim extremists, it might be nice to know if our president had any current leanings toward his old religion.

During the 2008 campaign some reporter had the temerity to ask Obama if he were still a Muslim and he said that he was not currently practicing Islam. Hmmmmm!

I wonder if we can get a fake copy of his baptismal certificate since we were lead to believe that he is now a Christian.

I think the problem here resides in Obama’s dismissive attitude to these issues.  In effect his lack of transparency and honesty raises more questions than he answers.

But this is all consistent with what I thought him to be before the election.

President Obama has always been different—-a mysterious figure with the appearances of dark secrets that cloud the public’s perception.

To me he is like a hollow man who has virtually come out of nowhere to have a meteoric ride to the most powerful office in the world.  Sounds like something George Lucas should explore.

We see him but we see through him and there is little else to see.  It is as if he did not exist until he came to Chicago.  It is no odd coincidence that Joel Gray’s character also was also in “Chicago.”

In an age that is so surfeited with information that every morsel of knowledge about even a candidate for the presidency is on the public record in seconds, the case of Barack Obama is an anomaly.

We knew every thing one would want to and even more about George W. Bush from his cheerleading, to his excessive partying before he became president.

Obama’s guardian angels in the mainline media have treated him as if he were in the Witness Protection Program.

Now that would be a stroke of genius!  No one but maybe Tony Soprano would think of looking for a disloyal family member there.

The Cellophane President PART I

January 8, 2010
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Last year my precocious six and a half-year old granddaughter asked me whom I thought was the worst president.  I don’t really know what prompted her to ask me that question but I admire her spirit of curiosity that is fueled by her IQ of 136.

I just hope the American school system does not squelch her ability to ask the important question “Why,” which I believe to be at the root of all learning.

I told her to be truthful I thought our new president was the worst I had ever experienced.  I proceeded to give her a few basic reasons for my choice.

I think he has handled the Bush mess as badly as anyone can imagine.  His fiscal and monetary policies threaten to send us into another Depression, similar to the one his idol Franklin Roosevelt extended in 1933.  His insane Heath Care bill threatens to bankrupt the country.

Candidate Obama promised us his administration would be run on honesty and transparency.  Now as we near the end of his 1st year in office, it is clear that this has not been the case.  I have written widely on his ideas and policies for the Mindszenty Foundation.  (All my articles can be accessed at

For a while I have been trying to capture the essence of his leadership ability or lack of since he tool office last January.  It is almost as elusive as trying to assess his character.  I have called him the Hawaiian Candidate, my allusion to Richard Condon’s book and the subsequent film adaptations of The Manchurian Candidate.

As much as I like the analogy, I don’t believe it goes far enough.  Perhaps President Obama is more like a character from the Bob Fosse play, Chicago.  I saw veteran actor, Joel Gray’s perfect rendition of his song, Mr. Cellophane Man on Broadway several years ago.

While Obama is hardly an invisible man–he gets more face time than the gecko in the insurance commercials— he does approximate the lyrics of the song about being unknown by most people who encounter him.  He seems to have no essence or what John Kerry called gravitas.

Sure we know he likes basketball, is a die-hard Pale Hose fan, is married to Michelle and they have two little girls.  They called him “Barry” in high school in Hawaii.

Like Clinton and George H. W. Bush, he’s a southpaw. (It took Albert Pujos’ catcher’s balk to spare him the painful embarassment of bouncing his 59′ curve ball in the All-Star dirt last July.)

We know that he lived in Chicago where he was a community organizer then he went to Harvard Law School where he was the president of their Law Review.

Even his supporters have to admit that this is a very brief resume for a world leader.  I seriously doubt that Sarah Palin was qualified to be president but her credential greatly outweighed those of our current president.

So what do we REALLY know about him?

What religion is he?  We know he studied Islam in Indonesia where he lived with his mother and stepfather during his early years.  He did attend Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s Church in Chicago, which was ostensibly a Christian Church but since he has been president has he ever set foot in a similar church?

Stories abound that he is a closet Muslim. He is the first president who did not celebrate Christmas since people took notice of that kind of thing.  Now I read that he is pushing a 44-cent Muslim stamp. Others say that he had the Gitmo prisoners tried in a criminal court in NYC and not before a military tribunal because he did not want to send a fellow Muslim to the gallows.

Balderdash? Bunk?  Maybe–but I would really like to know what his religious beliefs are.  An honest president would tell us.  Wouldn’t he?

Look for Part II Early Next Week

Fighting for our Rats

January 1, 2010
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In the epic movie, Gettysburg, based on the late Michael Shaara’s highly acclaimed novel The Killer Angels, a young Union officer asked a group of prisoners why they were fighting the bloody war.  The most vocal of the trio said that “we’re figthin’ for our rats!”  He probably perceived the Northern invasion of their sovereign territory as a violation of the South’s limited definition of human rights.

I would wager that Johnny Reb’s lack of education caused him to miss the irony of his words. No mention was made of the injustice of slavery or the fact that he was standing in Pennsylvania when he said his powerful words.

America’s founding fathers probably would have agreed with the Confederate soldier about his “rats.”  Many would have approved of the South’s reasons for succession.

Jefferson, Madison et al were very clear as to what the rights of the individual meant.  After a great deal of debate they settled on three basic human rights that each person born into this country would enjoy under the new American form of republican democracy.

These rights were the right to life, followed by the right to liberty and finally the right to own property.  Without these rights no human being can be totally a free agent.

Thomas Jefferson later broadened the property right because ownership was not yet widespread.  He thought the pursuit of happiness covered all his bases and implied that a free people would pursue happiness by the acquisition of property in time.

The passing of time has also made the idea of individual “rats,” as Johnny Reb phrased it, an elusive concept that has been further clouded by the last three generations of legal and political obfuscation.

“Rats” for most Americans today conger a meaning of an entitlement without any concomitant responsibility.

The pursuit of happiness now means more like a guarantee of happiness…by the Federal government. It was FDR who gave us the notion of the “guarantor state” that dominates our politics today.

The semantics have further distorted the meaning of “rats.” Most people think they have a “rat” to drive or a “rat” to vote.  These are not rights but privileges that they had to qualify for.  They did not come with their birth certificate as natural rights do.

Take the “right to choose,” which has enveloped a nation in a culture war that makes no promise of ever ending.

In America no right is absolute but the “right to choose.”  A person can forfeit his life by taking or trying to take the life of another.  Millions are incarcerated in American jails and prisons for violation the laws of the land and the country’s tax laws give government an inordinate claim on a man’s property.

In politics, the right to choose is a code word for the privilege of a woman to kill her unwanted unborn child. No human can have an inborn right to kill another human being.  If the rights come from outside, they are not “rats.”   They are privileges.

But according to many American politicians, especially our current president, the right to choose to kill her unborn children must be available to every woman and paid for by those who are opposed to it.

In truth abortion is a privilege given to women by men for the benefit of men.

All rights swim in the pool of morality.  The morality of choice is determined by what is chosen, not by the act of choosing.  A man may freely choose to kill another.  That is an evil choice,

In reality choice is also not an absolute.  Everyone has the right to choose.  But not every choice is a moral one.  Laws and moral reasoning often temper or nullify many of our free choices.

This all brings me to health care.  My Catholic Church has been saying that health care is a “rat” that has to be protected and even paid for by the government. One may argue that access to health care is a derivative of the right to life.  No hospital can legally turn away any patient.  It’s the law!

Therefore why should the taxpayer be legally or morally obliged to pay to see that everyone is medically insured in this country?

Associated with every human right is the corresponding obligation to work and provide for one’s own health care.

Food, lodging, clothing and even education are also derivatives of the right to life.  This does not mean that the dwindling base of American taxpayers has to pay for the food, clothing etc. of those who for whatever reason cannot or do not want to pay for their needs.  Americans are not their “brothers keep” in that sense.

Of course there are many, who are mentally ill or indigent, who have fallen through the cracks of society.  They need to be helped but not because it is their “rat” to the nation’s largesse but out of Christian charity and human kindness.  This is NOT something that Americans owe to the least of their brethren.

Churches used to preach charity as their main means of helping the poor and saving souls.  Now most religions have tethered themselves to the federal government’s limitless pipeline to the pockets of the American taxpayer.

It is as if the Church’s responsibility to the poor has been delegated to the federal government, which exploits the poor and homeless to garner votes and power.

The government’s only function in life is perpetual rule at the expense of our “rats.”  Since this money has been confiscated from the taxpayers, it has not been freely given and allots them no spiritual benefit.

If high octane ObamaCare becomes the law of the land in 2010, the unborn will not be the only endangered group fighting for their “rats.”


About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at