Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cleveland United Way spits on Irving Berlin's Merit Badge

In 1893,  a frail Jewish boy landed at Ellis Island.


He recognized that the new land was without the brutal Russian pogroms that  threatened the life of his family in the old country.


The new country was one of free expression and religious liberty.


That little boy became Irving Berlin, arguably the greatest composer of American song.


Just watch the film "White Christmas"  if you disagree.


Fast forward to Monday last week, when the United Way  of Greater Cleveland announced it would discontinue support for the Boy Scouts.


The  United Way has trouble with the Scouts' stated policy prohibiting openly gay  Scout leaders and members.


Let's clarify something. The Scouts don't ban gays from joining.


Most members are age 12 or younger.


The Scouts say that what individuals do privately is none of their business and leaders can freely live their chosen lifestyle at home.


It's the equivalent of the "Don't ask don't tell" policy adopted by the United States military until Barack the Brilliant discovered the importance of the homosexual vote.


The real intolerance here is maintained by  United Way because they are unwilling to tolerate the idea that some organizations actually live by a  moral code.


The Boy Scouts of America  have the temerity to believe that the gay lifestyle should not be injected into scouting life.


Forget the fact that an objective statistical analysis shows that gay men are much more likely to be infected with diseases such as AIDS.


In America, organizations such as the Boy Scouts have a protected right to espouse moral positions like this even if we don't agree with them.  


The United States Supreme court recently ruled in favor of the  Scouts on this question.



Whether the gay tendency has been engendered in the individual from birth or somehow developed over time, the Boy Scouts are like the Catholic Church and millions of Americans who recently showed support for the traditional family by filling up on Chick-fil-A.


Irving Berlin believed deeply in the principal of freedom of expression and he believed in  the moral concepts embodied by the Boy Scouts of America.


In 1940, Irving Berlin directed that  the royalties from the song "God Bless America"  go to  the Boy Scouts.


Every time that song is played in public, the Boy Scouts'  cash register rings.


They have had their challenges over the last several years, some of which include  Scoutmasters committing sexual abuse.


They have taken corrective measures.


The Boy Scouts have changed with the times and membership is  on the upswing as a result.


But one thing they have not changed.


They have refused to back down as it  relates to their moral principals.


I like that.


I also used to like contributing to United Way.


Not anymore.


If you support  the Boy Scouts and their right to take a moral stance, let United Way know.


That little boy  who escaped the anti-Semitism of Russia knew something about freedom.


Sing it proudly, Scouts.


God Bless America.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

How do I love thee, Pollster? Let me count the wives.

This political season has generated more polling than any other in history.


And because of the technology available to campaign committees, it's easier than ever to conduct a telephone survey to see exactly what voters are thinking.


Computers are dialing my house like crazy followed by a list of questions easily answered with the punch of a number on the keypad.


My favorite, though, is the personal interview where I get to talk to a real person.


I am enjoying it thoroughly.


You see, as a kid, I never had the guts to pull some of the pranks designed by the Eddie Haskell types I knew.


Calling the local Walgreen's to ask if they had Prince Albert in a can was a laugh riot to my juvenile mind ( "Well, you better let him out then.")


But I always left such mischief to the disreputables in our ranks.


I was above such behavior.


Occasionally, I found humor in the poor soul wearing a "kick me" sign surreptitiously taped to the back of his shirt.


Today we call this bullying followed by an investigation and eventual expulsion of the ruthless miscreants who would so demean their fellow student.


But never  a perpetrator of practical jokes was   I.


Until now.


Quinnipiac, Harris, and Gallup keep calling me and I am truthful regarding my choices for office.


But I must admit I'm having a ball with the demographic inquiries these pollsters make.


I think it's an invasion of privacy.


Therefore, I seek revenge.


I am creative when responding.


Last week, I was a high school dropout practicing Islam.


A couple of days ago, I was a single mom working part time at a Tattoo parlor.


Three weeks ago, my annual income ballooned to over one million dollars and I was 91 years old. My spouse was only 23.


The kids can't wait for me to kick so they can get their hands on that money.


One  earnest political interrogator wanted details of my marital status.


On that day, I had 15 wives.


I can't help it.


It's a religious practice.


No names. Just wife number one, wife number two, wife number three, etc.


Funny thing.


I never get them confused.


I'm  waiting to see the results on television.


"Among fundamentalist bigamists, Mitt Romney leads Obama by 10 points."


And accents.


I've used several of them, all of them bad.


One time I lost track and switched from a proper English accent to one from the  Jersey shore.


The poor chap listening to me couldn't  understand why a former butler from London kept on saying "Yo, man, how's it hangin' ? ".


I told you it was bad.


So political hacks, be warned.


Call my house if you want to.


You never know what rare character will emerge to answer your questions.


Have a nice day.


By the way, have you seen wife number eleven?


She picked up my dry cleaning last week and I can't find my loincloth.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Yuppie Parents Sometimes Out of Control on the Roadways of Life

Who are these people?


They are so busy that they have to combine activities  not meant to be done at same time.


Some of our young moms and dads love to run for exercise.


Jogging mile after mile.


Sometimes a marathon here and there but always running.






Dinner with friends.


Maybe a little wine tasting.


Their  house is full of the latest technology and enough gym equipment to launch an Olympic team.


But then mother nature intervenes.


Along comes baby.


What are they supposed to do now?


Which leads us to the yuppie combo plan.


Everyone knows that good parents take Junior out for some fresh air every day.


This is a problem.


After all, the daily routine must include nails done, Pilates, yoga, lunch with friends, and don't forget the daily Starbucks run.


But America's sweethearts are ingeniously clever.


Heather and Brad can have it all by doing two things at once!


Breakfast while answering e-mails.


Texting while getting a pedicure.


And … America's newest competitive event.


Baby buggy boogie boogie.


You've seen it.


Mom or dad pushing the baby buggy while running, headset place firmly over the ears to listen to the audio version of the latest from Oprah's book club.


This super parent has got to work up a good sweat.


Got to be ready for the Save The Botox Clinic marathon.


So what if baby Megan gets a bumpy ride?


Mustn't let baby's excursion interfere with training.


Now I've seen this little endeavor in my own neighborhood.


It makes me nervous.


Some of these runners are really moving.


That padded top-of-the-line pram with spring-loaded shock absorbers is really rattling down the uneven sidewalk.


I hope the infant's teeth haven't come in yet because it will be hard not to lose them during this rough ride.


Here's a frightening variation.


Bicycle enthusiasts have invented a scary chariot for the unfortunate tot that gets attached to the back of the bike.


Baby trails mom or dad in this plastic and canvas deathtrap on wheels that bumps down the highway about 13 inches off the ground.


Are you kidding me?


By the time the delivery  truck has sideswiped  baby, it's too late.


Ben-Hur was safer when the Romans tried to run him off the track in the Roman Colosseum.


Look, young parents.


I get it.


You're busy.


But give your kids a gift that only you can give them.


Your full time and attention.


Read a book to them.


And don't rush it.


Skip the stroller Sprint or the bike a baby and do it the old-fashioned way.


Make your kid number one.


Take them out to let the sun and the wind gently caress them.


Even babies can sense when mom or dad is merely squeezing them into their self-centered schedule.


Look, your glutes may not be as tight as you'd like under my plan.


But your kids will be safer.


And the love you demonstrate will be good for another body part.


Your heart.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Me and Art Modell: We almost made a big deal

As Mayor of the City of Euclid in the mid-1990s, I flew to Florida for a private chat.


With the man destined to become the most detested owner in sports.


Art Modell.


I didn't want to steal the Browns.


But I also sensed that Mayor Mike White was allowing his pride to get in the way.


The Browns, I feared, might be allowed to slip away.


So I made a daring play.


Art Modell and I convened in a posh hotel conference room during the NFL  owners' meeting.


Could  the Browns move from downtown Cleveland into suburban Euclid, Ohio?


Nuts, right?


Not so.


There is precedent for such a move.


New York, Boston, and Detroit  teams have played in facilities outside City limits.


The idea was to pursue the plan only if Cleveland officials refused to build a new gridiron palace.


I wasn't going to poach.


I wanted the Browns in Cleveland.


But if that were not possible, a Cleveland suburb would at least keep them in Northeast Ohio.


We discussed a couple of potential  locations and I presented an ambitious financing concept.


It was a heady time.


I loved the Browns and still do.


As a kid, I wore number 86  because of wide receiver Gary Collins.


Collins caught three touchdowns in the 1964 championship game in an upset over who else but Baltimore.


Jim Brown, the greatest player in football history,  wore brown and orange.


Brian Sipe and the Kardiac Kids.


Bernie, the   gutsy gangly leader of a potent offense.


The Browns are a part of us.


They are Cleveland.


And here I was talking to the icon who  invented Monday Night Football.


Modell must've thought  I had a lot of chutzpah.


The Browns owner promised  he would get back to me if and when the City of Cleveland forced him to walk.


I never heard from him again.



Modell then made a surprise announcement that he was moving the Browns to Baltimore.


He broke my heart.


The rest, as they say, is history.


Would they have been called the Euclid Browns?


Not likely.


But at least they would've been here.


All the bloodletting  could've been avoided.


The team never had to leave.


I think  Modell was  disturbed that Cleveland politicians refused him a new stadium.


After all, the taxpayers built a new home for Dick   Jacobs and the Indians.


Mike White called his bluff.


Modell wasn't bluffing.


Even suburban mayors have big dreams.


And in 1994, I sat down with sports history and had a conversation.


I will never fulfill my fantasy of getting a hand-off and running to daylight through a huge hole opened up by Gene Hickerson.


But I'll always love my Browns.


I almost got a chance to save them.


For all of us.


I wish only good things for the soul of Art Modell.


If only he had called me.


Sometimes I sit at my desk and daydream.


Maybe he'll call.


I'm waiting, Art.


Give me the ball.