Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good Behavior Starts At Home

Good Behavior Starts At Home
By Jon Wagner Sr. Writer at Large Football Reporters Online

Recently, the New York Giants have been bad.

No, they haven’t been well-behaved at all over the past four weeks.

They’ve been undisciplined and careless, mistake-prone and unfocused.

They’ve been so bad, that in the span of just one month, they’ve gone from a 5-0 member of the NFL elite to a mediocre, middle-of-the-pack, 5-4.

And, now they’re being punished for their actions.

A very tough schedule lies ahead for them, and they’ll have to work extra hard and do nearly everything the right way, just to get back to being what most had previously expected of them.

But, they’re on their bye week, so they have plenty of time to think about what they’ve done, and how to do much better going forward.

When you’re away from home, sometimes you forget certain lessons, and it’s easy to go astray.

That’s why, if you’re a Giants fan, you’ll have to excuse the two bad road losses, by 21 points to the Saints, and by 23 points to the Eagles.

After all, the Giants weren’t going to win those games anyway. So, why fret about them? It’s the NFL, it happens, especially in tough places to play, like New Orleans and Philadelphia.

Even with those two defeats, New York still has a winning 3-2 road record, which included at one point, three straight road wins and a victory over now first-place Dallas.

However, at home, we should all know better. At home, it’s easier to remember and follow valuable lessons of how we’re supposed to act.

Yes, at home, we should all definitely be on our best behavior.

And, so should the Giants.

But, during their current four-game losing streak, they certainly haven’t.

It’s the home losses aided by some very sloppy play, and misguided moves by the Giants’ coaching staff, which have really hurt the Giants more than anything so far this season.

The Giants let two very winnable games, each very much there for the taking in the fourth quarter, against teams visiting all the way from the west, slip away all because they acted poorly at home.

Against Arizona, the Giants outgained the Cardinals at home by 39 yards. Okay, not much, but they did win the battle both through the air (albeit by just four yards) and a little more significantly on the ground (by 35 yards). And, they controlled the time of possession, again not by a lot (by a mere 32 seconds), but it was still in their favor. When a football team does those things at home, it should win.

But, not when they’re not careful. Not sticking with the running game when they should have at times, and at others, poor execution early in several different series which repeatedly set up third-and-longs. Add seven penalties, two fumbles (one lost), and three interceptions, including a final one fairly deep in Arizona territory, trailing by just a touchdown with 68 seconds left, and it all cost the Giants a home win they should have had.

In their latest loss, the Giants outgained San Diego 304-226 yards (116-34 rushing), while holding the ball for over fifteen minutes more (37:47 to 22:13) than the Chargers. And, the Giants were even a little more disciplined at least when it came to hanging on to the ball, winning the turnover battle, 2-1. Again, when you accomplish all of those things in a game, particularly on your home field, you should come away with a victory.

Again though, a lack of focus and attention to detail led to another heartbreaking home loss. Nine penalties totaling 104 yards, 84 more yards than the 20 yards the Chargers (who committed only three penalties) were penalized more than wiped out the 82-yard rushing advantage the Giants held. And, no penalty was worse than the 10-yard holding call on right guard Chris Snee immediately after the Giants took over after an interception at the San Diego 4-yard line with a three-point lead and just 3:14 left in the game. Include the coaching staff in the blame for the bonehead miscues as well, for not going for the win and playing things much too conservatively, settling for a field goal after Snee drew the flag, only to lose on a Charger touchdown in the final half-minute.

If the Giants would have taken care of business in those two home games, their whole season would look drastically different today.

In lieu of their current four-game slide, the Giants would have simply split their past four games.

Rather than an uninspiring 2-2 home record in 2009, the Giants would be a perfect 4-0 at the Meadowlands.

Instead of third place in the NFC East, the Giants would be in first place.

And, in place of a 5-4 record and great playoff uncertainty, the Giants would be 7-2 and thinking about making a push for a home playoff game.

Perhaps it was to be expected given the Giants’ recent history. This is nevertheless, virtually the same team that went only 3-5 at home while winning eleven straight games away from Giants Stadium during their Super Bowl winning year just two seasons ago, and it’s the same team that earned the top seed and home field throughout last year’s playoffs, only to lose their lone postseason game -- where else -- at home last year.

As bleak as things seem right now for the Giants, knowing that no team which has gone through a four-game losing streak in a season has ever made a Super Bowl, it could be much worse.

The current wild-card picture reveals that Atlanta and Philadelphia, each 5-3 and just one-half game ahead of the Giants, are the only other non-division leaders besides New York with winning records in the NFC. And, the Giants play both of those teams at home, in addition to getting a home date with Dallas, which the Giants trail by 1½ games for the NFC East division lead.

Righting themselves at home can still solve a lot of problems for the Giants’ season even if they falter badly once or twice more on the road.

As tough as the overall remaining schedule is for New York in its final seven regular season games of 2009, even if the Giants have a road game or two as bad they had in New Orleans and Philadelphia, they can still achieve the goals they set out with when they were 5-0.

If the Giants can finally play a lot more crisp and sound football at home, as they should, with a bad Washington team left on the road, Big Blue could still realistically achieve a 10-6, or perhaps an 11-5 record, if they could also steal just one of the tougher games left on the road. There’s also the possibility that a normally tough road game at Minnesota may mean nothing to the Vikings in the final week of the season, which would make that road game a lot more winnable than it looks today. Those types of scenarios could very much have the Giants acting as the dangerous playoff team in January which most expected to see a lot more before New York’s current four-game losing streak.

To do that though, the Giants have to refrain from the types of costly mistakes which they should never make on a consistent basis, especially at Giants Stadium.

Thus, for the rest of their season, the Giants must remember that good behavior always starts at home.

Lou Dobbs makes mistake in resigning from CNN

Lou Dobbs, who's Couch Potato Conservative rants have been the occasional target of many a liberal blogger like myself, said yesterday that his Wednesday segment would be his last one. It was an abruptly delivered message without fanfare or joy, and all serious and unfortunate.

Lou Dobbs

Lou Dobbs made a massive mistake in leaving CNN.

From what I'm reading, Lou Dobbs departure was related to an event hosted by FAIR, or Federation for American Immigration Reform, on September 15th and 16th. FAIR, according to the Dallas Morning News' Lynn Woolley and confirmed here, has been branded a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Apparently Dobbs was to and did appear on the "radio row" of at this event, which caught the attention of Media Matters boss Eric Burns, who blasted Dobbs in a letter to CNN President John Klein you can see here.

Burns wrote:

“Mr. Dobbs represents an ongoing threat to CNN’s credibility as a serious news organization, in no small part because of his polemical coverage of immigration issues and his continued use of his CNN show to lend prominence to groups such as FAIR. The attention and legitimacy he gave to the “birther” movement — and CNN’s condoning of his actions — did real damage to that credibility. His participation in the upcoming FAIR rally would do further, serious damage. We urge you to finally acknowledge that Mr. Dobbs’ actions in this and other contexts are inconsistent with the reputation that CNN strives to maintain.”

Lou not only appeared at the FAIR event but continued to hammer away at the birther issue, which I have said seems to be the issue to heart by right-wing extremists and racists:

It's no secret that a number of powerful organizations were out to get Dobbs, and via websites like Drop and Basta crafted a well-orchestrated campaign to have him removed from CNN's prime time line up, even creating videos like the one below, that provide a visual list of Dobbs "history of hate":

Still, while Lou Dobbs was certainly annoying, he was starting to balance this rather nutty commentary with attention to some powerful issues like the declining middle class and the loss of jobs in America. Indeed, his most recent shows showed an adjustment of sorts in his message. So just as I was starting to think differently about him, Dobbs went and pulled the plug on himself.

What I can only conclude is that CNN's John Klein asked Dobbs to become more objective and Dobbs thought that was the last straw. Also, given that Dobbs show had taken a ratings dive, CNN saw Dobbs as expendable and they were right. No one's crying tears over his departure, including me.

I think,as much as I disliked Dobbs message, I wanted to believe there was a better person back there behind the screen and was willing to give him a chance if he just understood and appreciated and stopped how he was hurting the feelings of people of color.

But maybe he's not the person I thought he was.

Lou Dobbs will never see a platform like the one he had on CNN again unless he becomes more contemporary and stops acting like the angry old homeowner yelling "Get off my lawn!"

But I can't see Dobbs doing that. He blew it. He's gone.

Amazon Defense Coalition is foreign nonprofit corporation

Time again to expose real problems with the so-called Amazon Defense Coalition - which fails to sue Ecuador, or any other oil company save for one that's no longer there (Chevron) and regarding environmental damage in the Amazon River Delta - where it is an organization that's really just a front for a group of savvy trial lawyers to make a financial killing.

According to the work of blogger Bob McCarty and blogger Carter Wood, of Bob McCarty Writes and The Shop Floor respectively, the Amazon Defense Coalition is actually named "Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia" in Spanish, and was formed by lawyer Steve Donziger to file for personal injuries Donziger claims Ecuadorians suffered by Chevron / Texaco oil production activities that stopped in 1992.

Donziger formed the group in Ecuador, thus making it a foreign nonprofit. Moreover Ben Barnes, a powerful lobbyist who represents a number of American firms, including the law firm Kohn, Swift, and Graf, failed to mention he also provided services to ADC in his 2008 lobbying registration file, which you can see here.

But Barnes has another lobbying registration document (here) filed September 9, 2009, that listss "Frente" as his client, but at a New York City address of 245 W. 104th Street.

That listing just happens to match the address (again 245 W. 104th Street) used for a Federal Elections Commission Itemized Receipts form (here) completed by "Udall for Us All Committee", a group which McCarty says raised money for Democrat Tom Udall's U.S. Senate run in New Mexico.

The problem is that Barnes claimed not to represent a foreign company when Frente itself is just that.

Now, there's nothing wrong with having a foreign client, but listing that client with an American address raises a red flag. If Barnes is involved with any State Department issue that impacts Frente, he would have to recuse himself from that activity.

Stay tuned.

President Obama at Arlington National Cemetery

President Obama at Arlington National Cemetery

Yesterday, President Barack Obama made an abrupt change in his schedule and went over to Arlington National Cemetery to visit out fallen heros of wars past and present. Al Rogers over at The Daily Kos writes a moving blog post worth reading.

Sarah Palin on Oprah: Oprah gives video preview

The much-talked about, trashed, panned, hailed, and anticipated appearance of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on Oprah is closer to its airdate, but the interview was actually done Wednesday, November 11th.

Oprah herself made this YouTube video explaining how Sarah Palin's visit went:

In it, Oprah says that "lot's of people didn't want her on; lots of people did. Lots of her supporters didn't think that she should come here, but she did. And we talked about everything. We talked about inside the campaign, about what it felt like when she first was asked to be vice president. We talked about Bristol. The pregnancy. We talked about Trig, her baby. We talked about (and here Oprah looks up at the camera) Levi Johnston. We talked about her marriage. We talked about everything."

The event airs Monday, November 16th 2009. In other words, this Monday, and perfectly timed with the release of her book "Going Rogue".

I still believe leaving politics was a terrible mistake for Governor Palin, but if she did so to be able to earn the multi-millions she's making from the book, I can understand. But President? No way, baby.

Taylor Swift warmed up for CMA to Timbaland's "Morning After Dark"

Taylor Swift and Timbaland

Just before Taylor Swift's record-setting night at the Country Music Awards, where she won four awards including CMA Entertainer of the Year, Taylor Swift tweeted this:

Getting all pumped up for the CMA's, blasting timbaland 'morning after dark' in the dressing room. PARTY!!
10:28 AM Nov 11th from Echofon

So Taylor Swift was gonna be the first one up and the last one out. (If you know the song.)

This may read as meaningless as first, until you consider that as far back as August of this year, Timbaland said he wanted to collaborate with the very same Taylor Swift.

Timbaland has made a name of collaborating with talented artists, but lately he's aimed squarely at the young female demographic, having just completed a collaboration with Miley Cyrus called We Belong to the Music scheduled for release as part of his album Shock Value 2 December 8th.

No word, as of this writing, on when a Taylor Swift / Timbaland team-up will happen but if Swift's listening to his new release and tweeting about it, that's a sign she's certainly open to the idea!

Oh, and if you're wondering what the lyrics are to Morning After Dark:

Hello Mr. Mosley
I’m glad you’re my maker
My Loyalty lies in your hands, you’re my breath taker
Your body, your kiss is in unknown demand
So take command, go Timbo

I be the same when it all goes up
I be the same when it all goes down
Not the first one, open it up
I be the last one closin it out
Don’t know if I’ll give you a shot yet
Lil Mama I’m peepin your style
Do I think you’re dope enough, yup
One way of findin it out
The way you came at me, boo
Don’t care, not afraid I’m like Wild
Really want it from head to toe
Question if she gon let it out
Anyway the hour glass go
I don’t worry anyhow
Why don’t we see where it go
Let’s figure it out

When the cats come out the bats come out to playy Yeahh
In the morning after
The dawn is here, be gone be on your wayy Yeahh
In the morning after
When the cats come out the bats come out to playy Yeahh
In the morning after
The dawn is here, be gone be on your wayy Yeahh
In the morning after Dark

Owww, Oooohhh Owww

Come on SoShy

I got a little secret for ya
I never sleep when comes the night
But everytime I smack my fingers
I switch back into the light
My moon belong to your sun
Your fire is burning my mind
Is it love or is it lust
Something that I just can’t describe (ah)
Am I the one and only (ah)
Cause you’re the only one (ah)
It felt so long and lonely (ah)
Waiting for you to come
It’s lookin bright and early
I’m willing to close my eyes
This is the unusual story
Timbo and SoShy

Timbaland Morning After Dark lyrics found on
When the cats come out the bats come out to playy Yeahh
In the morning after
The dawn is here, be gone be on your wayy Yeahh
In the morning after
When the cats come out the bats come out to playy Yeahh
In the morning after
The dawn is here, be gone be on your wayy Yeahh
In the morning after Dark

Heyy, Heyy, (ay) Heyy, Timbo!

You talk about takin it slow
I’m talkin about takin it Wild
Don’t wanna be too up front no
Baby you know it’s my style
I’m talkin about lightin it up
You talkin about dimmin it down
Don’t think about lettin it go
But I’ve never seen no king that bows
Yes I’m the one and only
You know I see right through ya
I get it your magnetic
So you draw me right to ya
Maybe I give you a shot yup
Maybe you deserve the crown
Won’t give you a treasure map yet
Cause you’ll figure it out

When the cats come out the bats come out to playy Yeahh
In the morning after
The dawn is here, be gone be on your wayy Yeahh
In the morning after
When the cats come out the bats come out to playy Yeahh
In the morning after
The dawn is here, be gone be on your wayy Yeahh
In the morning after Dark

Dark dark dark dark dark
In the morning after dark
Dark dark dark dark dark
In the morning after dark
Please don’t leave me girl
In the morning after dark
Please don’t leave me girl

(Please don’t leave me girl)

When the cats come out the bats come out to playy
When the cats come out the bats come out to playy
Play play
The dawn is here be on your way
When the cats come out the bats come out to playy
Play play play
The dawn is here be on your way (way way way way…)

Taylor Swift CMA entertainer of the year - she deserves it

Taylor Swift CMA entertainer of the year! Wow.

As I was in a YouTube Community Roundtable meeting, Taylor Swift was accepting an award she really deserves: CMA entertainer of the year, and winning four major awards in all, including Female Vocalist of The Year, Album of The Year (for Fearless), and Video of The Year (for Love Story).

Now given what I've written about her and the now famous Swastika photo incident, you may think I don't like Taylor Swift...


No. Taylor Swift's awesome.

As I've written before, Taylor Swift's voice is like a taste of Heaven. You Belong With Me is in my playlist right beside the classic Signed. Sealed. Delivered. by the President's Medal Award winning Stevie Wonder. I listen to both songs (and others) again and again. But when it comes to doing the Texas Two-Step, which I learned as an undergraduate at Texas-Arlington (my Master's Degree is from Berkeley), I'd have to pick You Belong With Me.

And I totally disagree with Wynona, who said:

"You want my honest comment? It’s too much too soon. Time is God’s way of keeping everything from happening at once. It’s just too much of a good thing too soon."

I really don't think anyone has a set time that falls in line with a "norm". That Taylor Swift's 19 years old (soon to be 20) is meaningless to me. I'm proud of her. Some people marry early, others late, some never at all. Some entertainers peak early in life and stay there and remain a part of our lives for a lifetime. I think that person's Taylor Swift as much as it is Tiger Woods in Golf or LeBron James in the NBA. I really do.

That's the reason I was so hard on her for what some think was a small error in "that photo". Taylor's a public figure, and now a huge one. I want her to stay on top, much as I get the impression someone like Wynona will be waiting for her fall.


Taylor Swift's had a magical, God-sent year. It started with the release of her album Fearless, which went Gold or Platinum in 16 countries, and continued with her MTV Video Music Awards "Best Female Video" win, and a massive PR boost courtesy of Kanye West, then it was the Swastika issue, which kept her name out there just as she waa preparing for hosting Saturday Night Live, which she hit out the park.

She did.

So now, after a phenomenal 2009, Taylor Swift's officially a mega-star. Here's to my prayer, my wish, that the stays that way without incident and understands her jobas a role model for young women.

Elizabeth Lambert is the modern female athlete

Elizabeth Lambert, who achieved Internet and now television fame by basically hitting, hair-pulling, and beating the tar out of BYU's women's soccer team, is the picture of the modern female athlete.


Yes. And no, this is not an endorsement of her actions in any way, but given the attention she's gained from her dirty play, I think its important to now place Lambert in the appropriate social context. Elizabeth Lambert is the sum total of both positive and negative social change.

The making of Elizabeth Lambert started with the passage of Title IX, which opened the door for women to play sports and achieve a level of education equal to that of men. It was long overdue. Title IX's impact on American society can't be underscored: by giving women a sports outlet, it caused the reformation of what it means to be female.

Now, it's perfectly acceptable for a woman to be "tough" and have and show muscle. Even our first lady, Michelle Obama, is admired for her well-sculpted arms. But beyond looks, women in sports can copy not only the play of female athletes, but males players too.

Ask a WNBA player like Cappie Poindexter of the Phoenix Mercury and she'll tell you that NBA great Michael Jordan is her role model and the person she'd most like to play in a game of one-on-one basketball. In soccer, there was the dirty play of Marco Materazzi before we ever heard of Elizabeth Lambert.

The mainstreaming of women playing sports has also grew with the normalization of feminist culture. The idea of a woman as a "bitch", once thought undesirable, is now a magazine (which should be saved!), considered a complement, and used to identify a woman who's tough and would just as soon throw a punch as a man.

To me, there's nothing at all wrong with these developments and they've produced some of the most extraordinary and exciting female leaders of our time, today, from Hillary Clinton in politics to Serena Williams in tennis. No, one may not like what she said to that linesperson a few months ago, but no one can deny her expression of anger, fury, and raw power:

It's a display we're not used to seeing from a woman. But in 2009 it's far more commonplace. Is it bad? No. Is what Serena Williams, or to a much greater degree Elizabeth Lambert, a good example for female athletes to follow? Of course not. But that kind of decisive, forceful, determined person is what a leader makes and that's really the gift we all enjoy from the rise of women's sports.

Elizabeth Lambert is the modern female athlete.