Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman, 1925-2008

The world lost one of its true leading men this week when actor Paul Newman succumbed to cancer at the age of 83. Newman, best known as an actor for his roles in the films Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Color of Money, and many, many others, was equally well known as a great philanthropist. Through his Newman's Own Foundation, he has donated over $250 million to charity over the last two and a half decades.

Instead of trying to summarize, praise, and reflect upon this accomplishment, I feel it is more appropriate to follow Mr. Newman's example. Visitors to this site will notice the inclusion of advertising space throughout the pages. It will be the policy of the Within Reason blog to donate 100% of the revenue generated from advertising to Newman's Hole in the Wall Camps, as a small, heartfelt tribute to Mr. Newman and the principles in which he believed.

Visit to donate directly to the foundation, or for more information on how you can contribute to other charitable causes, please visit, or call them at 201. 818.1288.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quick Hits

A couple of things that have had me thinking...

A quick, ahem, note to all those who are asking for the Federal Government to abstain from taking on a greater regulatory role over the American economic markets. These are some of the same folks who like to say "It's my money, not theirs." Well, take a close look at the dollar bill pictured above. There it is, in plain English, right above George Washington's head. A quick translation: it is our money.

If these knuckleheads on Wall Street, and those who share their laissez-faire views on economic regulation don't realize that they're ultimately playing with house money, how can supporters of increased regulation be faulted for wanting to prevent these glorified gamblers from going all in over and over - and losing every time?

A key function of a Federal Government - even to the staunchest conservative - is to ensure the equitable distribution of resources to its citizens. Therefore, the government is well within its right to act as overseer of a financial market - and the fiscal climate cannot always be used to consider the extent of regulation. Before you disagree with this point, consider if you're debating the "distribution" or the "equitable." Either way, it's going to be a moot point if this sort idiocy is allowed to continue. The markets can not, will not or do not regulate themselves.

Ready or Not...

If Sarah Palin is ready to be Vice President, and potentially President...

...does that mean this young man is ready to be named head of the Environmental Protection Agency?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Palin Identity

This clip, and actor Matt Damon's comments, have caused quite a stir these last couple of days. Since his entrance into the public forum, as an actor, Damon has often been an outspoken political commentator from the left of the political spectrum. Damon has often faced criticism for sharing his views and voicing his opinion - as every American has the right to do.

Damon, and other liberal celebrities who voice their political opinions, are frequently criticized for exercising this right. They are told by those who do not share their opinions that they should stick to what they know - making movies, music, and the like. To some, this may seem a fair argument, after all, what does a Hollywood actor really know about politics? Does Matt Damon have a grasp on intelligence gathering because he has starred as an American foreign operative? Has Martin Sheen gained a special perspective of the presidency by portraying our Commander-in-Chief on television? Of course not, that's like implying Bill Pullman should be elected President should our planet be attacked by aliens.

Now ask yourself this: Who was Mike Huckabee's most influential endorser this primary season? None other than action star Chuck Norris. The late Charlton Heston was politically active, and need I mention Arnold Schwarzengger? Why is it that these actors are considered legitimate political entities, while the liberals I mention above are cast off by the mainstream as loudmouthed radicals? The answer is just as Matt Damon explains it - in America, a bad Disney movie beats an insightful drama every time; and as time goes on, our political theater is turning into just that: theater. Maybe liberals would be wise to embrace their Hollywood peers and create their own Sonny Bono, their own Fred Thompson, their own Ronald Reagan. Or maybe, as Damon implies, politics is not theater.

As Americans, we all have the right to voice our opinions. Further, we all have the right, within the frame work of the Constitution, to seek political office. In this instance, the case is simple. Damon is well within his rights to voice his opinion. Palin is well within her rights to be running for Vice President. However, Damon needs only his citizenship as prerequisite to ably exercise his right. As for Palin, well, ask Matt Damon.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

All is Not Lost

It's been a difficult few days to be a New England football fan. One needn't look back that far, though, to find a point of reference, a scenario that casts some perspective on the recent turmoil that has set in upon Patriot Nation.

It was one year ago this week, following Week One of the 2007 NFL season, that New England Patriots fans were smacking from another, much different bombshell. After a Patriots' drubbing of The New York Jets, the controversy that was to become known as Spygate came to light, and a season long storyline was introduced. Now, the Patriots and their fans find themselves in another dramatic predicament. After the loss of their star quarterback, Tom Brady, the season is in serious doubt, and the nay sayers are again circling above. Just as in 2007, however, all is not lost. Don't believe me? Well, consider the following:

Who Are Those Guys?: Here is a list of quarterbacks not named Brady to appear in Super Bowls since the 2000 season (*denotes winner): Trent Dilfer*, Kerry Collins, Kurt Warner, Brad Johnson*, Rich Gannon, Jake Delhomme, Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselback, Ben Roethlisberger*, Rex Grossman, Peyton Manning*, Eli Manning*.

Sure, there are Mannings, a McNabb and a Roethlisberger, but for every MVP there is a Trent Dilfer, a Rex Grossman and a Brad Johnson. The idea that this a quarterback's league has been a bit overblown and artificially inflated by the advent of pass-friendly rule changes and the fact that you cannot watch t.v. for eleven minutes without seeing a commercial featuring one of the Manning brothers. Granted, new Patriots starting quarterback Matt Cassel will be a lucky man if he ever finds himself on any list of starting Super Bowl quarterbacks, but so would Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer, Tony Romo or Drew Brees. Each of the "second tier" quarterbacks on the list above had one thing in common: an excellent supporting (or leading) cast making up the team around them. Sound familiar?

The Favre Factor: Speaking of The Jets, they've suddenly become a popular pick to dethrone The Patriots as AFC East champions. These are the same Jets who last year won a total of four games, two of them coming at the hands of the lowly Miami Dolphins (who won only one game last season). Why this sudden, perceived turnaround from zeroes to potential heroes? A new quarterback, Brett Favre. Farve is a great quarterback, certainly, but in order to seriously contend for a division crown, a team must realistically aim to win ten games. For the Jets, this would mean a swing of six games. That is a tall order, especially when being placed, for the most part, in the hands of one man. Is it possible for a quarterback to have a six game effect on a team's record? Time will tell. In the case of the Patriots and Matt Cassell, a six game swing from last year's regular season total would put the team at ten wins, and in serious contention for the division crown.

You'd Better Be Sure: Last year, during the Spygate controversy, the Patriots did what they have done so many times over the course of their recent dominance: they banded together as a team. As has become their habit, the team adopted an "us against the world" attitude. Do you think the fifty-two players on this year's roster are having trouble coming up with a rallying point for this season? Better yet, do you think it wise to tell Richard, Rodney, Tedy, Randy, Wes, Laurence or any of the others that they no longer seem a threatening bunch? I'm sure there is some one out there, a la Pittsburgh's Anthony Smith, or former Eagle Freddie Mitchell - both of whom took the risk of publicly questioning the legitimacy of the Patriots and paid for it - who will. Well, you'd better be sure.

The Patriots and their fans have been through these situations before, and not only survived - but thrived. Last year, following week one of the NFL season, I wrote a commentary piece regarding the situation of The Patriots following Spygate. The closing words still ring true today:

"Where then, does this leave us? It leaves us exactly where Coach Belichick has always us wanted to be: rooting for a team that everyone is out to get. But this time, instead of having to conjure up Freddie Mitchell or a beat writer for the Charlotte Observer, he can point to the plain reality that is confronting his team."

Go Patriots.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Quick Hits

A few things that have had me thinking...

Money in the Bank - The world is waking up today to the news that the Federal Government is planning to "partially" assume control of the giant lending institutions Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Sounds like a good idea, seeing as they are both in serious danger of failing, and combined they control between $5 and $9 trillion of the nation's housing market. Of course, this is going to cost a lot of money. On the order of anywhere between $50 to $250 billion over the course of the next nine months to a year. Who will foot this bill? The taxpayers, of course. Don't worry, though; the 94 - ish percent of us in the workforce can pool together and get through this. It's not like our economy is in shambles, or we have two wars to fund, or that fuel prices are at all time highs. Here's my idea: Let's all return those DVD players, flat screen T.V.s and other gadgets and gizmos we purchased with our tax relief stimulus checks. You remember those checks, right? They were sent out to you courtesy of our President, all part of a plan to stimulate our economy. Well George, consider the economy stimulated. These tax cuts have added $3 trillion to our national deficit. That kind of cash might come in handy at times like these, but what do I know? File under: Call it a wash.

Just Win, Baby - John McCain caused quite a stir when he selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate on the 2008 Republican Presidential ticket. Another maverick move by an outside the box thinker, right? Well, not so much. In fact, just another example of the Republican tactic of doing whatever it takes to win. Now, don't get me wrong - having a female on major party ticket for only the second time in history is a noteworthy event, but the circumstances of Palin's selection are dubious at best.

In selecting a female, John McCain engaged in an obvious ploy to court female voters disenfranchised or discouraged by Hillary Clinton's exit from the Democratic race. Plenty of people disagree with this view, and many would label my opinion as 'sexist.' I argue that the sexism comes from the selection itself. Selecting a running mate based on a set of criteria that not only includes gender, but places it at the top of the list - that's sexist. The ploy is even more transparent when placed against McCain's stated goal to staff his administration with the most qualified and experienced Americans, regardless of their party affiliation. Palin's experience and qualifications, as far as being second in command, are shaky at best. This selection seems to have been the product of some hybrid Help Wanted/Singles ad:

WM seeks MWF for partnership, possibly more. Experience a plus, but not required. Must love America, Big Oil and family values. Qualified candidates please reply to US RNC as soon as possible. Background information helpful, but a full check will be run upon acceptance of the position. Country First!

Animal Cruelty - There is a lot of animal imagery tied up in our national political culture. From the mascots of our two major parties, to terms like hawk and maverick, to the very icon of our nation - the bald eagle. These animals, for the most part, are meant to embody noble, positive traits that we find in ourselves. We can debate the admirable qualities of some one labeled a "war hawk" and question how the Democrats got stuck with the ass as their party symbol, but where along the line did the pit bull become a noble beast? Forgive me for offending pit bull owners, of which there are many (and please don't tell your dog I've said this), but pit bulls are, at best, extremely dangerous attack dogs around whom you have to be on guard at all times, and at worst they are (by canine standards), fairly unintelligent, overly inbred attack dogs that maim and kill more Americans every year than any other animal.

Pop quiz: What animal does Sarah Palin choose to politically personify herself as? A pit bull! And, if you replace the "unintelligent" (Sarah Palin is very intelligent), with "uninformed", Sarah Palin was a pit bull during her RNC acceptance speech. Now ask yourself: why is that a good thing? Of course, Palin's peers have frequently used a different animal to draw analogy to her: the barracuda. To recap - What's the difference between a pit bull and an Alaskan hockey mom? Lipstick. What's the difference between an Alaskan hockey mom and a barracuda? Lipstick and lungs.

Nit Picking - Not a lot of press has gone to this story, mostly because it's more amusing than important, but it's still worth pointing out. During John McCain's acceptance speech, around the time he was speaking about veteran's affairs and his own personal experience of being medically treated upon his release from a P.O.W. camp in Vietnam, a picture was displayed on the giant monitor behind him of Walter Reed Middle School in California, not The Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington as was clearly intended. The McCain campaigns response? We meant to do that! “The changing image-screen was linked to the American thematics of the speech and the public school was simply part of it,” said spokesman Tucker Bounds. Of course, I suppose they can't really admit the truth, which would go something like "The unpaid intern we had doing the audio visual work must have just typed 'Walter Reed' into a Google image search and picked the first one he saw. Our fact checker didn't catch the error because we do not have a fact checker."