Over-the-top Rhetoric: You’re doing it right

via The Conservative Outpost

I wish I knew what was behind that "censored" box and who put it there.

I’m not sure how, but I got on the e-mail list for “Conservative Outpost,” which is exactly what it sounds like. As an information junkie, I read it so I can understand all sides of the issues. Their latest missive was commentary from Drew McKissick (screenshot attached) titled “Advancing censorship with dead bodies.” I know what you’re thinking: It’s about Hosni Mubarak, right?

After all, the Egyptian military leader and president, is seeing his country go through a violent civil upheaval. Protesters are dying in clashes with riot police, internet and cell phone service is being shut off by the government and police are reportedly confiscating cameras from guests, including tourists, at the Hilton Hotel in Cairo.

Advancing censorship with dead bodies? Gotta be Mubarak, right?

No. It’s Obama and the Democrats. See, Obama didn’t speak up soon enough or forcefully enough when Conservatives were blamed for inspiring the shootings in Tucson with their violent rhetoric, and now some Democrats are questioning if it’s time to re-instate the Fairness Doctrine.

It’s not, and they won’t. Those calls, which do happen from time to time, have not amounted to anything in the past, and President Obama himself has previously spoken out against it.

So for those of you keeping score at home…In the past week or so we’ve had a Democrat on the floor of the House compare Republicans to Nazis and this guy, McKissick, accuse Democrats of “advancing censorship with dead bodies.” Now that’s what I call bi-partisanship!




Friday Soundtrack, or John Legend and The Roots get me movin’

John Legend and The RootsThanks to the phenomenal Springfield-Greene County Library District, I’m currently spinning “Wake Up” by John Legend and The Roots. It’s an album that I had high expectations for. Combining my favorite band of all time with my favorite R&B singer? Potential rockability is off the charts here.

“Wake Up” is everything I imagined it could be. The album puts a modern spin on some protest songs from the ’60s and ’70s, giving them a modern feel. The songs retain their classic feel without sounding dated, thanks in part to verses from MCs Black Thought and Common. These songs, though written in another era, have messages that are just as relevant today.

That includes the Friday Soundtrack selection “Wake Up Everybody,” originally done by Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes in 1975, with Teddy Pendergrass on lead vocals. Legend and the Roots are joined by Melanie Fiona and Common in their version. Enjoy.


Is close the new normal for Missouri State?

Will Creekmore

It's going to take heroics like those shown by senior post Will Creekmore for Missouri State to wrap up a conference championship. There are no cakewalks in the Valley.

It’s been a couple of days now, but I wanted to share some thoughts on Missouri State’s close shave at Drake. The Bears – tell me if this sounds familiar – struggled, and actually trailed a good portion of the game, before rallying to win. The final score was 73-70.

Not the result a lot of people expected considering Drake entered the game 3-6 in Missouri Valley Conference play. But the Bulldogs were scrappy, fed their hot hands and found ways to stay in the game.

Get used to it, Bears fans. This is the new normal.

Conference play is By Any Means Necessary time, and the Valley is no different. In fact, the Valley is even tougher, considering its conference tournament is one of the first played each year. That means the teams pack 18 league games into just a couple of months. Missouri State will play its slate in just 60 days, averaging a league game every 3.3 days. The Bears have four days off between the win at Drake and a home game with defending Valley champ Northern Iowa, their biggest break since they had six days off between games with Arkansas State and UNI in December.

It’s a grind, and everyone is subjected to the same schedule. Winning down the stretch is just as much about grit and determination as it is talent. The Bears are now 4-1 in Valley games decided by 3 points or less, a testament to their grit.

There’s also the bulls-eye factor. Missouri State is in first place. They’re getting Top 25 votes. They’re being mentioned as a potential at-large team. They are the team to beat. Nobody in the Valley will hit the floor in awe of the Bears and they will all step it up a notch to try and beat the league leaders.

One more thing that will play a role down the stretch is something I haven’t heard much in the local media: There are no secrets at this point in the season. This is what happens in conference play: I know what you’re gonna do, you know what I’m gonna do, so let’s go see who does it better. There are no surprises right now. Opponents have a scouting report on every Bear – even the freshman – by now and know how they like to shoot, catch, dribble, defend, etc. Like Chuck D of Public Enemy said, “It’s not a matter of skills, but a battle of wills.”

The win is the thing from now on for Missouri State. Be it three points or 30, they just need the W.

The Homestretch

Mighty MO State is closing in on its first-ever Valley regular season title, still leading second place Wichita State by one game with eight to play. Indiana State has faltered recently, losing at WSU in multiple OTs before letting a big lead slip away in a home loss to Evansville. The Trees are now two games back, as is always-dangerous Northern Iowa. Here’s a look at the contenders and what they have left.

1. Missouri State (9-1): The Bears still have schedule on their side. MO State plays five of its last eight league games at home, with trips to Evansville (5-5), Illinois State (2-8) and Southern Illinois (4-6) remaining. That’s not a UNI-WSU-CU swing by any stretch of the imagination, but there are also no nights off. MSU is in the enviable position of controlling its own destiny. All they need to do is win.

2. Wichita State (8-2): It’s been pointed out that the Shockers, the preseason Valley favorite, may have lost some of their edge at home. WSU is perfect on the road in league play, but lost to both MO State and UNI in The Roundhouse and needed triple overtime to stop Indiana State. WSU has four home games and four road games left, including trips to UNI, Indiana State, and Missouri State. In other words, the Shockers can help themselves on the court.

3. Indiana State (7-3): Is the magic starting to fade for the Sycamores? They gave the Shockers all they wanted before finally succumbing, but followed that up with a puzzling home loss to Evansville. The Sycamores need a win – fast – or their momentum might be gone. Easier said then done. The Sycs have five road games left to play, visiting Creighton, Illinois State, Missouri State, Southern Illinois and UNI. They also have a visit from Wichita State so they, like the Shockers, can help themselves in the race for first place.

4. Northern Iowa (7-3): The Panthers worry me as much as any of these other teams (and I would throw Southern Illinois into that group). The Panthers have toiled quietly in the shadow of Indiana State’s hot start and, after a 1-3 start, have won six straight league games. True, four of those games were at home, but they got a great road win at Wichita State. The Panthers are well coached and talented, and their game this Sunday, Jan. 30, at Missouri State could be epic. A win for Mighty MO State puts them on step closer to wrapping up the title. A loss? Then it’s Katy Bar the Door.


State of the Snoozin’

State of the Union 2011

I like comparing the way Biden and Boehner clap.

Obviously the big story of the past 24 hours has been the State of the Union Address. I don’t really have a lot to add to it. Even though I make it a point to watch State of the Union Addresses, they’re all kind of…boring.

I don’t know that I categorize them as political pep rallies, but they always tend to be pretty partisan. You could pretty much tell where the Democrats were last night by the standing ovations. And guess what? If you watched Fox News, I”m sure the general consensus was that it was okay at best, and if you watched MSNBC then the general consensus was it was pretty good at worst. Nobody’s breaking new ground here.

But I feel like it’s my duty as a good American to see what the President has to say, then watch the response from the opposition party – or, in this responses. You want analysis? You’re gonna find a lot better elsewhere, so I won’t even try that. Here, though, are some random musings.

I actually did like President Obama’s address, but that’s par for the course. The man can flat give a speech. I appreciated the focus on education, obviously, and noticed the reaches across the aisle to show a willingness to work with Republicans. I loved the salmon joke. Fantastic. This wasn’t his best speech as President, but I thought it did the job.

Paul Ryan’s response was something I was actually looking forward to. What little I know about the Wisconsin Republican has intrigued me, and he seems like someone capable of being a formidable candidate that would appeal to a younger crowd. His speech, though, felt flat to me. There wasn’t a lot of substance to it. I was also eager to see Michelle Bachmann’s response, and it was just what I expected. The Tea Party Republican from Minnesota relayed the usual platitudes and talking points.

Even though nothing really blew me away last night, there are two things that made me glad I watched:

1. Post-speech fact checks. Find them and use them. (I recommend Fact Checker at The Washington Post in this case. He got both sides.) Non-partisan fact checks are perhaps the greatest tool voters have in this time when voters seem to prefer to get their information from biased media sources. The truth is out there, you just have to be willing to work a little bit to find it.

2. I need to get more active. Bachmann said “Please know how important your calls, visits, and letters are to the maintenance of our liberties.” My representative, Billy Long (*sigh*) told the Springfield News-Leader that everyone he talked to was in favor of him voting to repeal the health care reform act. Clearly he didn’t speak to me. That’s something I can fix. You can, too. Whether you agree with me on issues or not, you can agree with me that – outside of voting – the biggest thing we can do to make sure government is working for us and hearing our voice is to reach out to them.


I like that Boon Boo Ree, I like that Boon Boo Ree!

I like that Boon Boo Ree...

Until Saturday night, he was merely known as Teal Bunberry. Now, he's forever Boon Boo Ree to me.

One of the most epic soccer goal calls ever – certainly in the history of international friendlies – has gotten even more psyched up for the 2011 MLS season.

And I was already pretty aped, for a lot of reasons. After years of false starts, Sporting Kansas City (nee Kansas City Wizards) will open its soccer-specific stadium in June. SKC should have a dynamic attack, thanks to Davy Arnaud, Omar Bravo, Teal Bunberry, Kei Kamara and Ryan Smith. Jimmy “The White Puma” Nielsen is back in goal. And, of course, Jack Jewsbury – The Pride of Springfield – will be playing in midfield. Then there’s the matter of the team’s new identity, which – after initial skepticism – I’m all about. The logo is growing on me, the brand is being used well, and the new kits are solid.

It was already a near-perfect storm of excitement for me, and it’s just been upgraded to category 5. Bunberry got into the United States’ friendly with Chile in the second half and, after Juan Agudelo was tripped up in the box, Bunberry stood over the ball to take the penalty kick. Chile goalie Paulo Garces guessed wrong and Bunberry coolly slotted home for his first USMNT goal. The call on Telefutura is now an internet sensation:

Yeah. That’s a Black Eyed Peas reference. It didn’t take long for the mashup to hit YouTube, and it’s just as good:

It’s taken off from there. The Cauldron, a collective of the club’s most ardent fans, has started a “Boon Boo Ree” T-shirt design competition (the winner will be printed and sold) and, if you look hard enough, you can find the mp3 of the mashup online.

And it all hit less than 48 hours before SKC opened preseason training in Arizona. They’re there now, getting ready for a regular season that will require them to play on the road until the June 9 home opener with the Chicago Fire.

Interested in keeping up with Sporting KC? It’s easy to do, even down here in the Queen City of the Ozarks. There’s a Web site, an official blog (The Sporting Way), and an active news blog operated by Charles Gooch, the Kansas City Star’s beat writer (The Full 90). There are also a handful of very good independent blogs, including my personal favorite, Down the Byline. The Back Post, The Daily Wiz and Sporting Times are also worth a look.

But SKC also has a great presence in social media, with an incredibly active Twitter feed, which they often use to live Tweet during matches – a big help for people like me. Several players are also active on Twitter. Kamara is a must-follow for sure, especially after he organized a snowball fight between Sporting players and fans recently:

That’s a level of access fans so rarely get to professional athletes. Everyone looked like they were having a good time, and Kamara even treated participants to his beloved Chipotle when they were done. Can’t beat that.

Wish I could’ve been there in person – and not just for the free Chipotle. Sadly, I haven’t been to a KC match since 2007, a streak I’ll break some time this summer. It’s not easy being a soccer fan in a place where a lot of people don’t “get” soccer. But I think the culture here is changing a bit, with a move to start a chapter of American Outlaws and some well-attended World Cup watch parties at Farmers Gastropub, who has been very supportive of the local soccer community, organized by the indefatigable Ole Olson of SGFsoccer.com. I’ll tell any of you on the outside the same thing I say about hockey: Just go see it in person. Then you’ll understand it.

That’s it for now. I’ve got to go work on my Dougie, set to the tune of the Boon Boo Ree mash-up.


Martin shows emotional side after Mighty MO State rallies past Creighton

Missouri State coach Cuonzo Martin shows a rare burst of emotion after his Bears erased a big deficit to knock off Creighton.

We’ve been duped. Missouri State’s Cuonzo Martin isn’t some sort of basketball coach robot, skilled in the Xs and Os but unable to feel – or show – any emotion. Martin, described as “steely” and “even-keeled” by Tag SGF’s Allen Vaughan left his emotions all over the floor of JQH Arena for everyone to see after Mighty MO State rallied from 15 down to earn in improbably, last-second, 67-66 win over Creighton Jan. 22.

Martin exuberantly slapped high-fives with Creighton’s players in the post-game handshake line, then turned to exhort the crowd to make even more noise – if that was possible for the raucous crew of 10,655. The display of pure joy continued as Martin and his assistants crossed the court and headed to the locker room, captured epically in KSPR’s highlight package.

So who was that man with his emotions on his sleeve? Not the Cuonzo Martin we know, right?

“Coach Martin is probably the most passionate person about something that I’ve ever met in my life,” Missouri State junior Kyle Weems said in the post-game press conference. “I’m pretty sure that he was pretty happy.”

Weems, it would appear, is both a frontrunner for Player of the Year and Understater of the Year. Martin finally came clean in that same presser, saying:

“I’m always emotional in practice, but in game situations it’s about our guys performing. This time it just came out.”

Did it ever. Do yourself a favor and make sure to watch KSPR’s highlights so you can see this hand-waving ball of joy. Then go back and take a look at Martin’s demeanor and decision making during the game. It’s clear that Martin is more than just words. The emotions were in check and it was all about the Bears performing. And perform they did.

Missouri State held Creighton to just two baskets in its final 11 possessions and chipped away at a 15-point, second half deficit. Weems came up with the final clutch offensive play, outsmarting a pair of Bluejays on the left baseline to earn an uncontested lay-up for the winning points. Weems and point guard Nafis Ricks flipped the script on Creighton, as Weems faked a drop step like he was backing up for a lob, then darted towards the basket to get the ball from Ricks.

“They had been sitting a guy in front of me all night, and I thought they would sit McDermott behind me, but they didn’t,” Weems said. “I gave Nafis the look like, ‘I think they’re both going to run with me if I take a step back.’ They did and I just made a basketball play. Nafis made a perfect pass.”

Senior Jermaine Mallett then sealed the deal, poking the ball away from Creighton’s Antoine Young at halfcourt, then diving on the ball and shuffling it back inbounds, where Adam Leonard scooped it up and dribbled out the clock. That play involved a spot of shrewd coaching that didn’t go unnoticed by ESPN commentator Dan Dakich, who said “This was a great move by Cuonzo Martin, putting Mallett on Young. Changed the defensive outlook.”

That Weems and Mallett were even in position to make those plays is no small miracle. The Bears could’ve easily folded after they fell behind by 15 points early in the second half, especially after Wednesday’s heartbreaker at Indiana State. But they didn’t, thanks to the steely, even-keel Martin fans have grown to know and love.

“I kept telling our guys, ‘Let’s walk ourselves back into this game,’’’ Martin said. “I kept telling them that we’re fine. We just needed to get stops. We do a great job of getting stops when we have to. This is what happens when you’re fighting for that championship spot. You have to find a way to make plays. We found enough plays and got enough stops to win the game.’’

And there’s no doubt that the Bears have the calm version of Cuonzo Martin to direct them in game situations as they chase the first regular-season Missouri Valley Conference championship for the school, as well as a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

“Missouri State, probably (has) no business winning this game, but they never flinched,” said Dakich on the broadcast. “Cuonzo Martin kept it cool on the sideline.”

Cool, at least, until the final horn.


Required Reading:

Bears save best for last in dramatic win over Creighton  (Springfield News-Leader)

Clark: Bears’ find-a-way resolve put on display (Springfield News-Leader)

Bluejays fall to Bears in final seconds (Omaha World-Herald)

Notes: No comfort for Jays in JQH Arena. (Omaha World-Herald)

Highlight video, as Tweeted by @BillyJansen

QCFM vs. The Heritage Foundation, Round 1

The Heritage Foundation

It's on like Donkey Kong.

I saw this on Facebook, linked by Michael Durbin, an old friend and author of Principled Thoughts. It’s an entry in The Heritage Foundation’s blog, “The Foundry,” about the House vote to repeal H.R. 3950 – Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They take the stance that it’s not a political stunt that will eventually amount to nothing. It’s actually an “important step in the democratic process of protecting and conserving our constitutional freedoms.”

Allow me to respectfully disagree with the author, Ed Feulner, and make my case here. A quick note, though: Feulner is president of the The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, holds an MBA and a Ph.D., is a published author, public speaker, well-respected conservative who has served on congressional task forces and commissions, etc. etc. etc. So, yeah, I’m punching up a weight class or two here, but as Cam Janssen of the St. Louis Blues knows, you gotta do that sometimes.

I read the blog entry with an open mind, but Feulner lost me right off the bat – and not just by using the pejorative term “Obamacare.” Feulner calls the healthcare reform law “increasingly unpopular” without any references at all. And there’s good reason for that, because he’s completely wrong. This bill is not as unpopular as some conservatives would lead you to believe.

A CBS News/New York Times Poll from Jan. 15-19 shows 48 percent of Americans want Congress to let the law stand, while 40 percent want it repealed – outside the +/-3 margin of error. In November 2010 those numbers were 44 and 45, in favor of repeal.

Even more interesting in that poll is that, between November and January, the percentage of self-identified Republicans who want it repealed went down from 76 to 73 percent. Democrats’ support for the law went from 71 to 77 percent, while independents went from 38 to 45.

That’s increasingly unpopular?

And I’m not putting all my eggs in the CBS News/New York Times. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from Jan. 13-17 found support for repeal at 45 percent and opposition to repeal at 46 percent. That same poll has found that the percentage of people who feel “this plan is a good idea” has gone from 32 percent to 39 percent since Dec. 2009, while the percentage of people who feel “this plan is a bad idea” has gone from 47 to 39 percent.

That’s increasingly unpopular?

ABC News and The Washington Post find support for and opposition to healthcare reform has gone virtually unchanged since March, with roughly 50 percent opposed and 45 percent in favor

That’s increasingly unpopular?

In fairness, a CNN Opinion Research Poll has support for repeal of the entire bill at 50 percent and opposition to repeal at 42 percent, but there’s no previous data to show if that’s gone up or down. Also, that’s just one poll. The majority of the polls I found paint a picture of a country pretty evenly divided on the topic of repeal.

Clearly he’s opposed to this healthcare reform bill, as are a lot of conservatives and some independents. I’m not opposed to it, just like some other independents and a lot of liberals. I’m not going to hash those arguments out. Read this post and this one, both by Ezra Klein, to see the other side of the coin. My beef with Feulner isn’t about his opinion of this healthcare reform act. He’s entitled to his own opinion, and I’m sure he came to his conclusions honestly and fairly. My beef is with his characterization of the bill as “increasingly unpopular” when data clearly contradicts that claim. How can I trust any of your other arguments when you characterize something that is statistically gaining support as “increasingly unpopular”?

That false claim is one of the primary pillars of his argument. He says for majority leader Harry Reid to not let repeal come to a vote on the Senate floor would be to “thumb his nose at the will of the American people.” What he really means is the will of approximately half of the American people. If Republicans work to de-fund or repeal healthcare reform, they, too, are thumbing their nose at the will of approximately half of the American people.

Fuelner finishes up by saying that debate on health care reform can begin again. It is “a national debate we need to have, and we need to have it now.” To which I say, “Noooooooo! Please!!!!!!! Noooooooooooooo!” I don’t know if my stomach can take another round of that.

Alright. If we’ve got to do this again, I want a clean fight, Republicans and Democrats. No low blows, no “death panels,” no “socialists,” no “fascists,” no “ramming it down our throats.” None of that. Feel free to work the body, throw the jab and stick and move. Now touch gloves and come out boxing.