Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Francisco's Wild Pitch Not a Hit with Fans

Francisco’s Wild Pitch Not a Hit with Fans
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 14, 2004

Texas Rangers rookie pitcher Frank Francisco uncorked a pitch so wild in the Monday night September 13 game against the host Oakland Athletics, that it went nowhere near another player. In fact, at the time, Francisco was not even in the game, nor was his missile a baseball.

In his best impression of college basketball coach Bobby Knight, Francisco launched a folding chair into the stands alongside the Rangers bullpen. The chair ricocheted off one fan before breaking the nose of a female fan. A day later, Francisco found himself under arrest for aggravated assault. He was subsequently released on $15,000 bond.

Francisco, a right-handed reliever, had already pitched – and ineffectively at that – yielding an earned run on one hit and two walks in the seventh inning and one batter in the eighth. But during the ninth inning, after the Rangers had tied the game at five apiece a melee ensued that pitted Oakland fans against Texas ballplayers.

Initially, Rangers reliever Doug Brocail had been engaged in verbal jousting with A’s fans. As the oral combat intensified, Brocail ultimately had to be restrained by his teammates. At that point Francisco, who just turned 25 on September 11, and Rookie of the Month for August, took matters into his own hands by unleashing the four-legged projectile.

Regardless of the taunting and verbal abuse thrust upon players by unruly fans, there is no excuse for players to retaliate by physically assaulting the paying customers. Make no mistake; if fans are abusive, security has a responsibility to eject them from the stadium at once. Children do not need to be subjected to salty language and abusive behavior from fellow fans. If security must be increased, so be it. If fans are unruly due to an excess of adult beverages, the stadium authority should consider eliminating beer from the menu. If fans can’t do without beer for the duration of a baseball game, they should stay home where they would save about $5 a brew.

As for the more serious issue at hand – that of rookie pitcher Frank Francisco and his temper – his penalty should be severe and send the appropriate message to him and the rest of the league. Francisco should be suspended from the game for one full season – without pay. That pay should be given to the injured parties as compensation. If there are lawsuits, Francisco should be responsible for covering all costs. If charges are to be pressed, and they ought to be, Francisco should be punished to the fullest extent allowed by law.

The message sent is that this behavior is unacceptable and the players must rise above it. Whether or not they want to be, and Charles Barkley notwithstanding, professional athletes are role models.

For those who object to such a stringent punishment, remember, a crime has been committed and restitution must be made. Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and the Texas Rangers organization should present a unified stance on this issue letting Francisco know that he is responsible for his actions and they are indefensible.

The same type of stringent punishment must be meted out should similar actions be perpetrated by athletes in other professional sports. If similar situations occur under the auspices of the NCAA or other amateur sports leagues, such players should lose scholarships and or eligibility. Athletes need to know that they are neither above their game nor above the law.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Alexandria, VA.

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Flushing Out the Johns

Flushing Out the Johns
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
July 7, 2004

Anyone surprised by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry’s (MA) selection of Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) as the senior John’s running mate for the 2004 race for the White House has undoubtedly been cloistered in a cave in Outer Mongolia or working for the New York Post.

Another Pretty Face?
On its face – Edward’s face – this looks to be a smart choice, as myriad news agencies have said Edwards will appeal to women and young voters. Hmm – is this the liberal media taking a sexist approach by suggesting women will vote for the Johns because Edwards is a pretty face? Where is the NOW gang and other feminists decrying this suggestion? Where is their outrage?

It is preferable to dig deeper than one’s looks when determining who will chart the course for the future of this great nation. Sure, Sen. Edwards has a youthful appearance (age 51), and yes, he is charismatic and smart – North Carolina State University undergraduate and University of North Carolina School of Law. But, as with Sen. Kerry, who served his country in Vietnam, it is important to study what the two Johns have done while in the US Senate.

Both men supported the current military actions in Iraq, but neither voted for the $87 billion in supplemental funding. Genuine concern has been raised regarding the fitness of the two Johns to properly arm and defend the United States during a time of war. Don’t take my word for it. Take the word of liberal stalwart and former Mayor of New York City, Edward I. Koch. “I do not agree with President Bush on a single major, controversial, domestic issue, whether it's tax reductions or health care. But he has been superb both on the war on terror and on Israel. That is why I am voting for him. I don't believe the Democrats have the stomach for the fight against international terrorism.”

Shalom Senators
Koch continued, saying, “In my book, the three presidents who have been the most stalwart friends of Israel are, in order, George W. Bush (43, as they call him, not 41), Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. … John Kerry conveyed his lack of knowledge on the subject of Israel when he stated that he would on election appoint either former president Jimmy Carter or former Secretary of State James Baker, both hostile to Israel, as his representative to the Mideast negotiations.”

In addition to Kerry’s lack of knowledge as aptly described by Koch, is Edwards’ clear display of ignorance in 1998 as quoted in Charles Peters’ article “Tilting at Windmills,” that appeared in Washington Monthly in June 2003.

“One evening while he was campaigning for the Senate in North Carolina, Edwards was faced with a choice of several events he might attend. An advance man suggested, ‘Maybe we ought to go to the reception for Leah Rabin’ Edwards responded, ‘Who’s she?’ ‘Yitzhak Rabin’s widow,’ replied the aide. ‘Who was he?’ asked Edwards.”

Additionally, in none of the 74 bills Edwards sponsored since joining the Senate in 1999 has included language regarding Israel or the Jewish community. Edwards also voted against bills funding aid to Israel in Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001.

Pocket Picking Liberals                                                          
The two Johns have called for the repeal of the Bush tax cuts, are against the repeal of the “death tax,” have already stated they would raise the taxes on capital gains and reinstate the dividend taxes. Corporate America will suffer at the hands of the two Johns, ultimately forcing people to lose jobs. As increased taxes and greater regulation puts a stranglehold on American corporations they will find more ways to cut costs – exporting jobs and cutting American payrolls is just one example.

Both senators support abortion rights, although Kerry recently said he believes life begins at conception and that he personally opposes the life-ending procedure. Yet, he and Edwards voted against the ban on procedure commonly known as partial birth abortion. The two senators are ideological soul mates. Take the word of the non-partisan National Journal, having rated John Kerry the most liberal US Senator and John Edwards the fourth most liberal US Senator. That’s only a little bit surprising considering their main competitions are Senators Edward Kennedy (MA), Barbara Boxer (CA), Russ Feingold (WI), Barbara Mikulski (MD) and Charles Schumer (NY). This is the most liberal ticket since George McGovern chose Sergeant Shriver as a running mate in 1972. The end result? Richard M. Nixon trounced McGovern 49 states to one – McGovern winning the typically liberal Massachusetts and not even his home state of South Dakota.

Absent-minded Senators
While running first and fourth in the liberal category, Kerry and Edwards run first and second, respectively, in attendance. More accurately, lack of attendance, as Kerry has missed the most votes this year with Edwards missing the second most votes. Kerry has already undergone scrutiny from his home state of Massachusetts as several lawmakers have called for the junior senator to resign his seat in order to fill it with a working and voting senator. And when asked about her working experience with the senior senator from North Carolina, Elizabeth Dole (R), the junior senator from the Tar Heel State replied that having only been a colleague of Edwards’ for one year, it’s hard to evaluate since he is so often absent.

Kerry on Edwards
If the two senators are so ideologically matched, save for Kerry opposing the death penalty and Edwards supporting it, what is the point of having Edwards on the ticket? Aside from Edwards’ folksy charm going up against Vice President Dick Cheney’s appearance of quiet brooding, which will only be exhibited in one face to face debate on October 5.

Will Edwards bring the South to the Democratic column on Election Day?

Not according to Kerry, who in February of this year said, “Edwards says he’s the only one who can win states in the South… He can’t win his own state.”

Does the freshman senator bring experience to the table?

Not according to Kerry, again commenting this year, when he said of Edwards, “In the Senate four years – and that is the full extent of public life – no international experience, no military experience…”

“Mr. Edwards has spent only a few years in public life. When he departs from a stump speech and discusses domestic issues or – particularly – foreign affairs, his lack of experience shows,” said Kerry earlier this year.

There’s no need to listen to Republican rhetoric when John Kerry’s words on his choice for vice president speak volumes.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Mourning in America

Mourning in America
By Sanford D. Horn
June 5, 2004

I cast my first ballot in 1984 when I voted for President Ronald Reagan, the same year I turned 18. I couldn’t wait to vote. On my birthday I went to town hall in Springfield, NJ registered to vote and applied for an absentee ballot as I would be a freshman attending the University of Maryland that fall, where I joined the College Republicans and volunteered for the Reagan reelection campaign.

I even volunteered for the previous presidential campaign in 1980 when I was not even old enough to vote. I took pride, at age 14, to be able to tell people that my father, a candidate for Town Council that year, and one of my political heroes, appeared on the same ballot with Reagan.

I also count President Reagan among my political heroes. The Great Communicator restored dignity and pride in being an American following the malaise that was the Carter administration featuring 20-plus percent interest rates, over 10 percent unemployment and the Iranian hostage crisis. Ronald Reagan won the 1980 election in a landslide over Carter saying it would be “morning in America again,” and that the United States was a “shinning city upon a hill.” Reagan, outspoken, honest, dignified and principled also restored respect to the office of president and respectability to the presidency.

During the 1984 reelection campaign President Reagan exhibited his brilliant sense of humor during a specifically memorable moment in a debate with his Democratic opponent former Vice President Walter Mondale. The President was asked if age would be an issue during the campaign – referring to his age, 73, at the time. Reagan quipped he wouldn’t make his opponent’s youth and inexperience an issue, to the roars from the audience.

Reagan exhibited that same sense of humor following the assassination attempt made on him just over two months after taking office when he asked the doctors at the hospital if they were all Republicans. He awoke to tell his wife Nancy, “I forgot to duck.”

A brilliant orator, Reagan, a former president of the Screen Actors Guild, appeared in 53 motion pictures, perhaps most notably as George Gipp where he uttered the now famous, “win just one for the Gipper.” The onetime Democrat had decided to become a Republican when he said the party had left him and not the other way around. He realized high tax rates would not be the way fix America’s economic crises through personal experiences as an actor when his tax rate reached 90 percent. Why would anyone work for 10 cents on the dollar, he wondered. As president, Reagan oversaw the reduction of the top tax rate from above 70 percent to 28 percent.

An Army Captain from 1941-45, President Reagan oversaw the rebuilding of the United States’ military and restored pride in the wearing of the uniform. Thanks to Ronald Reagan the United States emerged victorious from the Cold War with nary a shot fired, in spite of referring to the Soviet Union as “the Evil Empire,” much to the chagrin of his liberal detractors.

President Reagan boldly stood in front of the Berlin Wall and implored Soviet ruler “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall,” when Reagan’s advisors strongly suggested he not offend his Soviet counterpart with such strong language. The wall soon came tumbling down as did the threat of Communism.

Considered the Father of the Modern Conservative Movement, Reagan received the baton from Mr. Republican himself, the late Arizona Senator Barry M. Goldwater, another of my political heroes, and someone I had the privilege to meet and interview.

President Ronald Reagan displayed the indomitable American spirit with his good natured ness, fine sense of humor, appreciation for his nation’s history, regard for loyalty, strong leadership qualities, depth of character and desire to make America a greater place for future generations to enjoy. Like him or dislike him, when he left office in 1989, Ronald Reagan enjoyed the highest popularity of any American president.

Although President Reagan suffered for the past decade with the horrors of Alzheimer’s disease, an incalculable amount of credit must go to Nancy Reagan, his wife since 1952 for standing by her husband’s side and taking care of him. At 93, President Reagan lived longer than any other American President. Quoting Ronald Reagan, “even when you’re prepared, you’re still shocked when someone dies.”

G-d Bless Ronald Reagan and G-d Bless the United States of America.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

VA Budget - A Taxing Crisis

VA Budget – A Taxing Crisis
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
April 7, 2004

In responding to an e-mailed survey from a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, my thoughts turned to the quandary facing that body, and the Senate and the Governor – that of the budget. The survey was riddled with loaded questions apparently designed to make someone feel good about a tax increase and assuage a conflicted conscience about raising them.

The problem is not the need to raise taxes versus the ability to provide services to the people. The problem is the ability to better spend the dollars that are already being extracted by Richmond. The tax structure, as Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R-Fairfax) has said many times before, is the problem. We are no longer an agrarian economy in this Commonwealth. The taxing structure needs an overhaul. Pork barrel projects need to be stripped away and revenues coming to Richmond need to be allocated in a more responsible fashion. 

Should the tax on food in supermarkets be completely eliminated, people would spend that amount plus more on food when grocery shopping over the course of a year. That additional spending would increase the coffers of the supermarket chains as well as the food production companies, etc. With the increased revenues of those companies, they in turn would pay more dollars in taxes, but not a higher rate of taxes. Perhaps there would be a zero sum gain, but chances are, the revenue of the Commonwealth would increase. Put more money in individuals' pockets, they will be more inclined to spend it, thus raising revenues of the companies producing the goods and services used by Virginia residents and in turn raising the revenue of the Commonwealth. Corporate Virginia would pay more in tax dollars without a tax percentage increase and they would still reap the benefits of tax reductions to individual consumers because they would experience a spike in their revenues.

The same would be true by eliminating the numerous tax exemptions enjoyed by many corporations in Virginia. There are more consumers than there are corporations. By lowering the taxes of individual Virginians they will ultimately spend more, thus raising the revenues of the corporations who lost those tax exemptions. Again, they would pay more in tax dollars but not due to a tax rate increase. Corporate Virginia's only tax increase would be the elimination of the exemptions.

The key is the responsibility the members of the Virginia House and Senate are taxed with. They have been elected to represent the citizenry. They should not go to the citizenry and ask them to do their work for them via potential referenda. Any member of the legislature who thinks referenda are the answer should be voted out of office for not doing their job. Hard decisions must be made regarding where the money must go and who will pay it and how it will be paid. It's time the legislature became accountable for the tasks they were hired/elected to do. If they can't handle that responsibility, they should step aside for someone willing to do just that.
Many of the proposals in House Bill 5018 are sound, but some are questionable. Elimination of the estate tax is a wise move, one that the federal government ought to emulate. I've already expressed my support for the reduction of the tax on food, but would like to see it eliminated completely. My home state of NJ neither taxes food nor clothing for example. Raising the personal exemptions is also a good move as it will put more money back where it belongs – in the hands of those who send it to Richmond in the first place. Raising the filing threshold is also a good move.

Playing with the age deduction, on the other hand, with a means test, gets tricky. Who determines such means? Upon what will it be based? Net worth? Will that include land and property? Will that be based solely upon income? Will it be weighted to give a greater deduction to people living in more costly parts of the Commonwealth such as Alexandria and Fairfax County while giving a smaller deduction to those residing in the southwest corner of Virginia? Certainly there will be a legislative impasse on this issue for the same reason there are regional squabbles over how much money goes from Northern Virginia to Richmond for the purpose of funding less affluent portions of Virginia. A member of the legislature from the southwest supporting such a plan would be voted out in a country minute as would a member from Northern Virginia voting against such a measure, thus the standoff.

Raising the sales tax half a cent is only beneficial if the money stays where it is raised – and that needs to be guaranteed. If not, forget it. Raising the cigarette tax is only beneficial if all that tax revenue is earmarked for health-related concerns. While not a smoker, I object to raising the cigarette tax so prohibitively in order to coerce people from using a legal product. Tobacco growers and cigarette companies have the legal right to exist and make livings. Such a tax is regressive and will only hurt the poor, driving a deeper rift between the alleged haves and have nots. A modest increase in the cigarette tax is fine, again only if earmarked for health-related concerns.

Personal and legislative responsibility remains the keys to solving this budgetary crisis. Eliminate the boondoggles, pork barrel projects and restructuring the taxing system are the first paths to take down this long, twisted road toward continued solvency. Those who cannot handle the tasks at hand should step aside for those willing to make the hard decisions.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria. He is also a member of the Alexandria Public Records Advisory Commission.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Buy Me Some Sushi and Cracker Jacks?

Buy Me Some Sushi and Cracker Jacks?
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
March 30, 2004

The alarm went off at five in the Blessed a.m. My eyes actually opened at in time to see the first pitch thrown in the first game of the regular season following the first error committed – fumbling around in search of the remote in order to watch the Tampa Bay Devil Rays take on the New York Yankees.

Thus began the 2004 Major League Baseball season in the dead of night under the cover of darkness. In the Aloha State, baseball fans could have caught the season opener shortly after the conclusion of their late evening news instead of falling asleep to some grade-z movie on some innocuous cable station.

While Mickey Mantle’s in New York City served lox and bagels as part of its pre-sunrise game’s menu, right-handed pitcher Victor Zambrano of the Devil Rays served up the first pitch of the new season to Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter – at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. This is just plain wrong on so many levels.

I’m no fan of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, yet on this day, even in my sleepy, semi-conscious state, I could root no harder against the team America loves to hate – the Yankees. After all, I have been a New York Mets fan for over 30 years and to root for the Yankees is sacrilegious. So four batters into the game – before the first cock-a-doodle-do – when Jason Giambi slammed a two-run home run over the leftfield fence giving the hated Yankees a 2-0 lead, I thought, “what a waste of a sacrifice of much-needed sleep just to see the Yankees win again.”

Naturally, I began thinking of the many things that this specific game represented in what is wrong with what used to be America’s pastime – as well as some much needed hot tea and breakfast.

Opening Day of Major League Baseball used to be a glorious tradition – summoning spring from the south, returning it to the north to take the chill off the days of early April even on days when some games could have been played with snowballs instead of baseballs.

Opening Day of Major League Baseball meant a Monday afternoon game in Cincinnati featuring the Reds, nee Redlegs, the game’s oldest team. Such a game should still be the season opener where the Reds host either the Chicago Cubs or Pittsburgh Pirates, two of the league’s other oldest teams and National League Central Division rivals to the Reds. Not an American League contest featuring a team with an over $200 million payroll (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I’m a capitalist, after all) and a team that has never finished out of last place.

That leads to another problem in baseball – three divisions. There are three divisions in each league because there are too many teams in baseball. When a Major League pitcher is considered good with a 3.98 ERA (Earned Run Average for the uninitiated), Pedro Martinez notwithstanding, there’s something wrong. The talent pool in the sport has become too shallow with the addition of so many teams over the past decade.

Major League Baseball has 30 teams which lead to the three division system and the advent of an extra layer of playoffs with the birth of the wild card. This is a concept used in the National Football League which will only lead down the slippery slope to turning baseball into the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League where everyone except the Washington Wizards and New York Rangers can make the playoffs from their respective sports.

On the other hand, when Major League Baseball talked about contraction during the past two seasons, the small market Minnesota Twins proved why they should not have been on the potential chopping block by winning the Central Division. They have existed in the Twin Cities for more than 40 years and have a tradition that dates back to their days as the first Washington Senators.

Contraction would, however, help to solve some of the talent pool problems with the elimination of two teams. I would drop the Florida Marlins and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from the league. Two World Series championships notwithstanding, the Marlins are not a storied franchise, and after the first championship the ownership gutted the team for economic purposes turning them into a laughing stock for several years. The D-Rays have been perennial basement dwellers with no hope of rising above mediocrity, Lou Piniella or no Lou Piniella. Beside, baseball should not be played in Florida after April 1.

After eliminating the two Florida teams, return the Milwaukee Brewers to the American League where they started following their one-year stint as the Seattle Pilots. (Trivia: What one season did the Pilots exist? Name the only player to play for both the Pilots and the Seattle Mariners.) There are those who think the Brewers should remain in the National League because of the loss of the Braves to Atlanta in the 1960s, but for the purpose of having balanced leagues, this would work better.

Additionally, the Montreal Expos should be moved to Washington, DC. Our nation’s capital has suffered far too long with losing franchises in the Capitals hockey team, the Wizards and the long commute to Baltimore to see the Orioles. Make no mistake – Camden Yards is a great venue to see a ballgame, and the Inner Harbor is a fine place to eat and see an outdoor concert, but the nation’s capital is incomplete without a baseball team. The Expos barely draw enough fans to field a team of their own. They haven’t had an English-speaking television venue in years and the French version barely broadcasts enough games for anyone to care. Really now, who wants to watch baseball in French?

I’m such fan of the game I would watch winter baseball broadcast on the Spanish language channels when I was growing up.

While restoring some dignity to Washington with a baseball team, let’s also take care of a few other troubling details. Blow up those domed stadiums. Tear out the artificial turf still remaining in those venues that haven’t gotten the message yet – grass has gone in Busch Stadium where the St. Louis Cardinals play, in Kaufman Stadium where the Kansas City Royals call home and the new Philadelphia Phillies locale Citizens Bank Park is a turf-free zone.

While we’re at it, get those lights out of Wrigley Field and stop this Designated Hitter nonsense. Since 1973 when Ron Blomberg stepped to the plate for the New York Yankees as Major League Baseball’s first designated hitter, the game has suffered. A DH is not a complete player and should not be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Pitchers should learn how to bat, step up to the plate and take their swings. If pitchers knew they had to take their turn at bat, they might be less inclined to throw at opposing batters.

And while on the subject of the Yankees, getting back to that alleged opening morning affair with the Devil Rays, two more thoughts – why were the Yankees wearing their home pinstripes when they were treated as the visiting team and whose brilliant idea was it to turn the uniforms of both teams into billboards? Is nothing sacred? The Yankees don’t even put their players’ names on their uniforms. Was Major League Baseball trying to make the teams look the Bad News Bears and have the uniforms sponsored by Chico’s Bail Bonds? What next – the Softer Side of Sears sponsoring second base? It’s just wrong. And to top it off, after all their globetrotting the Yanks and D-Rays had to return to Florida for more exhibition games.

No, no. I’m a baseball traditionalist, for which I give my father credit. This is the same man who, a former Brooklyn Dodgers fan now a Mets fan, claims not to recognize teams west of the Mississippi River. Thank you dad. Now I need a nap. Oh, by the way, the only good thing about that first game between the Yanks and the D-Rays, the team from Tampa Bay took the Bronx Bombers to the woodshed 8-3.

Trivia answers: 1969 and Diego Segui.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Buffalo in a China Shop

Buffalo in a China Shop
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 19, 2004

It would be an affront to morons the world over to call University of Colorado football coach Gary Barnett a moron, but he is on so many levels. If he can’t be fired for insensitivity, perhaps he could be dismissed for criminal negligence.

The numerous and ever-growing rape allegations on the Boulder campus are so severe they are relegating the sex scandal involving potential recruits to “below the fold.” Yet, the two are related. The decision by University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman to place the head football coach on paid administrative leave is generous, because she is attempting to be fair while an investigation is ongoing.

Barnett is innocent until proven guilty on the criminal level, yet he has already proven himself to be guilty on the lack of intelligence level.

For those not reading a sports page, at least seven women, as of this date, have come forward with accusations of rape and/or sexual assault. Tragically this story should be featured in harder news sections because it is a serious indictment of the ever dissolving social mores. Rapes/assaults have occurred at parties where underage football recruits have been lured with sex as well as rapes that have alleged to have been committed by University football players. These incidents are reported to have occurred between summer 2000 and 2002.

One such accuser is Katie Hnida a former University of Colorado place kicker who ultimately transferred to the University of New Mexico where she became the first female to appear in a college football bowl game. Last year Hnida became the first female to score points in a Division I-A college football game.

Her former coach commented, when asked about the allegation, that “Katie was not only a girl, she was terrible… she couldn’t kick the ball through the uprights,” said Barnett, who has been coach at Colorado for five years and has a contract running through the 2006 season. Not exactly a supportive fellow. For those comments Hoffman levied the suspension. For his comments alone Barnett should be fired. The cloud of controversy ought to keep him off a major school’s payroll for a good long while.

In another instance, Barnett has been accused of telling another alleged victim that he “would back his player 100 percent,” should she pursue charges. Barnett proved himself to be a hypocrite by blindly supporting one player, yet chastising another’s skills on the field publicly.

Additionally, Barnett has denied knowing about the after-hours parties where sex and drugs have been made available to potential recruits to the school. Charges have been made that hookers and sex escorts were paid to attend and “entertain” at such parties. Barnett may not know the specifics, but to suggest that he is unaware that such events took place is disingenuous at best and perhaps even criminal. Barnett, as head coach, is seeking to bring qualified student-athletes to the university to play football. If he or any of his assistant coaches invite a potential recruit to the Boulder campus, they should be held responsible for the actions that student takes and, provide appropriate activities for that young person. This should be the rule rather than the exception for any recruit of any sport at any college or university.

Sex parties or parties with strippers are not necessary to lure a potential college athlete to a campus. If that is what it takes there is a total disconnect regarding what the spirit of college athletics is all about. Competition over signing new recruits is fierce, true, but these are supposed to be student-athletes and for the scholarship recruit they have an opportunity to have their education paid for – that should be inducement enough.

Upon completion of a full investigation by Boulder police, should any person affiliated with the University of Colorado football team be found culpable of any of these sexual allegations, stiff penalties must be levied. The entire coaching staff should be fired – any involved brought up on charges. The football team should be disbanded for up to three years depending upon the number of offenses where guilt is found. Any players or former players involved should also face criminal charges. Any players not physically involved but had knowledge of such activities should be expelled from the university if they are still enrolled.

I am a huge college sports fan, but this goes beyond the gridiron, hardwood floor and foul lines. I am calling for the death penalty at the University of Colorado for its football team if members of the team past or present committed such heinous acts.

Too many athletes, rock stars, entertainers and even some politicians and sadly teachers and religious leaders have taken physical and/or emotional advantage of admirers or underlings without penalty. It’s time for that to stop and for people to speak up.

Katie Hnida and the other accusers should have spoken up sooner, but because of fear of lack of support or fear of not being believed, they did not. Colorado football coach Gary Barnett should be fired now for his absolutely moronic remarks about Hnida, which only supported her fears. The University of Colorado should have forged ahead with its investigation months ago. There are lessons to be learned here. Hopefully other women in this situation will speak up sooner. But more importantly, hopefully no more women on college campuses or anywhere will be put through such a violation.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Presidents' Day, the Indians and a Bridge

Presidents’ Day, the Indians and a Bridge
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
February 16, 2004

The following is not politically correct. There it is – right up front. It may offend some blacks, some liberals, some American Indians and some Republicans as well.

Those of you brave enough to be reading this essay no doubt received it via e-mail either from me directly or from one of your friends smart enough to pass along my wisdom – or by one of your enemies smart enough to want you to think, because no publication has the guts to print such publicly presented thoughts.

The Monday, February 16 Washington Post – fittingly Presidents’ Day – printed an article in the Metro section (“Bridge’s Namesake Unpopular on Md. Side”) that a number of blacks in Prince George’s County, MD object to seeing the medallion of Woodrow Wilson on their side of the new bridge. The current Woodrow Wilson Bridge, spanning from Alexandria, VA to Prince George’s County across the Potomac River, has stood for 43 years bearing the name of the 28th president of the United States.

Wilson, a Democrat, and native of Staunton, VA led a distinguished career as president of Princeton University and Governor of New Jersey prior to his 1912 victory and ascendancy to the White House for two terms. Some say the bridge honors Wilson’s call for internationalism in the face of World War I and his want of the failed League of Nations – a failure due to Wilson’s own stubbornness. Some say the bridge wrongly honors an American who supported segregation – segregation at a time when Plessy v. Ferguson (1898) made “separate but equal” the law of the land.

We cannot, nor should not, sanitize history. American history, as is the case with the history of any nation, has its beautiful stories, as well as its warts.

It is bad enough the United States now has “Presidents’ Day” as a federal holiday when this nation proudly honored two of its greatest leaders – George Washington and Abraham Lincoln with separate federal holidays. Instead, the only day on the calendar named for an American is in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an accomplished civil rights leader. The federal government, in an act of hypocrisy, held hostage the several states by threatening a loss of federal funding for not approving the King Holiday.

So-called black leaders like Jesse Jackson went to states like Arizona, New Hampshire and South Carolina threatening economic boycotts until those legislatures succumbed to the idea of the Dr. King holiday. The National Football League told Arizona it would not hold a Super Bowl there until it too caved in.

Should the King Holiday not exist because of his warts – he was a plagiarist and an adulterer? Probably not – after all he preached non-violence during the turbulent period of violence during the Civil Rights Movement.

However, to deny the Washington and Lincoln holidays in its place is sacrilegious. Should we change the name of George Washington University because he owned slaves? I think all American presidents should have their birthdays on the calendar – the good and the not so good – from Grant, Harding and Carter to Madison, Truman and Reagan. (Recognized, but not with federal holidays.)

But the federal government, as noted earlier, is hypocritical and this hypocrisy was no more demonstrated than in the previous day’s Washington Post – Sunday, February 15 – with “Tribes Seeking Status Weigh Jamestown Role” illustrating the federal government’s continued denial of Virginia’s eight Indian tribes their proper recognition. Tribal status should be appropriately confirmed upon Virginia’s eight tribes with the same federal recognition as has been granted to 562 other tribes in the United States.

The federal government is hypocritical because while it thrusts political correctness upon us regarding one minority group and one aspect of this nation’s history, it denies another minority – a much smaller, seemingly less economically threatening minority its rightful place.

Two of Virginia’s Congressmen, Robert Goodlatte (R-6th) and Frank Wolf (R-10th), are objecting the granting of such federal recognition. They are doing so on the grounds of their objection to having casino gambling as an aspect of tribal life. I like both Goodlatte and Wolf – politically and personally. Goodlatte will be a solid US Senator when John Warner retires and I was proud to call Wolf my congressman when I lived in his district.

However, if people want to gamble, so be it. And while the tribes have said they are not entertaining casino gambling as part of their futures – so what if they are. There are casinos in Nevada, New Jersey, on riverboats on the Mississippi River and on many Indian reservations. There is horseracing in many states, slots in Delaware and lotteries nationwide.

Bottom line – the federal government is hypocritical, I want the Indian tribes to be appropriately recognized, I want Washington and Lincoln to have their days back and Wilson’s medallion on both sides of his bridge.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Rose Belongs in Hall - Thorns and All

Rose Belongs in Hall – Thorns and All
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
January 6, 2004

For the record, I am no fan of Pete Rose, a.k.a. “Charlie Hustle.”

I am a lifelong New York Mets fan and still have not forgiven Rose for the fracas he started with Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson during the 1973 National League Championship Series – a series won by the underdog Mets three games to two.

For the record, I consider myself a baseball purist. I don’t like lights at Wrigley Field in Chicago. I don’t like artificial turf. I don’t like domed stadiums. I don’t like the designated hitter. I really don’t like interleague play and I don’t like Major League baseball being played in Florida after April 1.

However, as a baseball purist who is no fan of Pete Rose, I do support his entrance into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown – the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Pete Rose should be judged, as those who stood before him, on his skills as a baseball player – on his actions of the field of play. If he should be judged for his non-playing ethics or non-playing morals there should be a level playing field and the Hall of Fame would lose some of its best players who by the same token were some of the worst characters.

Babe Ruth, long considered the greatest to play the game, was a drunk and a womanizer. Oftentimes he was publicly belligerent and pugilistic. Ty Cobb was a virulent racist and on the field played with sharpened spikes, sliding intentionally high in order to injure his opponents.

Ruth and Cobb will always be considered two of the greatest to play baseball. If Pete Rose, who broke Cobb’s longstanding record for most base hits in a career, should be denied entrance among the elites, then the Hall ought to be stripped of all those deemed morally bankrupt and ethically corrupt.

I do not condone Rose’s gambling on baseball. His ban from the game should continue. But what of Southern Methodist University’s sentence of the college football death penalty some years ago? Today SMU struggles as an active member of the Western Athletic Conference. Clearly that penalty was not forever. How many chances should drug-using players like former pitcher Steve Howe have been given – suspended and allowed to return to the game numerous times? And Howe’s drug use is a crime.

Pete Rose’s gambling on baseball should not be forgiven or forgotten. It should be a message to those who follow him. But, like those miscreants before him, Rose should be granted his rightful place in Cooperstown where his exploits on the field of play will also never be forgotten.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

[This column appeared in The Washington Times.]