Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's Red Dawn in America

In the 1984 movie "Red Dawn," the late Patrick Swayze played an American teenager fighting to save his hometown from the invading Soviets. After all in the 1980's the USSR was enemy number one. The Cold War was every American's nightmare, fearing one day we would go to war with the only country at the time that could stand up to the United States. The Cold War ended in 1991, and our world is much different after 9/11. But who should we fear today? Terrorist? China? A new Russia? Iran? No, our greatest fear is not what others can do to us, our greatest fear is what we are doing to ourselves.

Forget a foreign government attaching your local community, our own federal government is already taking over, and the latest battlefield is your local school elementary.

If you are not familiar with the story, be prepared to be shocked. A four-year-old in North Carolina was forced to take a school prepared lunch in addition to the lunch her mom packed for her. Why? Because mom did not pack a vegetable. WHAT? I am sure John Milius wished he could write this kind of material when he wrote the screen play to "Red Dawn."

Scene from the 1984 movie "Red Dawn"

The mom said this was not the first time state inspectors altered her child's lunch. She has even written a note to the girl's teachers, telling them to not give her child any food, other then the food she brings from home. Mom says her four-year-old does not like vegetables, so she does not want her wasting food at school. At home, not that it is any of our business, but mom says she makes her girl eat her vegetables. Wow, a four-year-old does not like to eat vegetables, there is a shocker.

Story gets better. On the day in question, mom packed a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips. WHAT?! Potato chips, oh the humanity. Someone call CPS, she gave her girl potato chips with no vegetables. According to the new health standards for school lunches, passed by
Washington, pizza is considered a vegetable because of the tomato sauce. And get this, french fries are also consider a vegetable, because they are made from potatoes. Wait, what about potato chips?

Best part, on the menu that day in the cafeteria was chicken nuggets, milk and yes a vegetable. The four-year-old was so upset that all she ate was the chicken nuggets. Mission accomplished, our government hard at work.

First of all, if the government wants to provided healthier lunches that is okay. But, NO government has the right to tell parents what they can and cannot pack in their kids lunch, period. What is next, a food inspector standing at the check out line of your local grocery store? "I am sorry you need more vegetables in your grocery cart before I can let you check out."

I have two daughters and both came home this week with a box full of Valentine's Day candy. I checked, there were no vegetables in the boxes.

Come on people, it's time to wake up! This is happening in America! And we are not talking about San Francisco, where last year the city pass legislation banning toys from Happy Meals at McDonald's. We are talking about North Carolina.

If this story does not scare you, make you mad or both, then you are the reason this is happening today. We are all falling asleep, in our on little world, worried about who will win what reality show, while our nation is being taken over.

You can do something. I am not going to tell who to vote for, but this not the time to skip the elections. And I am not just talking about the race for President. We need to be careful who we vote for in Congress and the Senate. We need to choose our Governor wisely, our mayor and yes our school board. It's time we get America back on track. Let's stop making excuses. You don't like politics, I understand, but do you want to live in a country where the government tells you what you can feed your kids?

It's Red Dawn in America, God help us all!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Debates, The New Reality Show

Did anyone catch the Florida Republican Debate on CNN last night? I couldn't help but feel like I was watching the latest TV reality show. The opening to the debate was a produced segment highlighting each candidate as if they were the remaining survivors left on the island.

Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul

There was Rick Santorum, the winner of the Iowa Caucus, Republican Senator from Pennsylvania. Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts Governor, business man and winner of the New Hampshire Primary. Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the house and winner of the South Carolina Primary. And finally Ron Paul, the Congressman from Texas still in the hunt for his first win. When the produced segment ended, Wolf Blitzer introduced the candidates to an all-Republican crowd giving a standing ovation.

Last night's debate was the 19th such event in the Republican Party this election cycle. Forget American Idol, the Republican Debates is this year's hit reality show.

Okay, so 15.46 million viewers watched Idol, compared to 5.4 million viewers that watched the debate, but there is no doubt the debate had more drama!

Speaker Gingrich said Governor Romney is anti-immigrant. Oh no she didn't! Okay, not exactly Romney's reply, but he was quick to call the remarks, "simply inexcusable." "That's inexcusable, I'm not anti-immigrant. My father was born in Mexico. My wife's father was born in Wales. They came to this country. The idea that I'm anti-immigrant is repulsive. Don't use a term like that." Romney was not finished, "that is simply the kind of over-the-top rhetoric that has characterized American politics too long." Can you see the scene from Donald Trump's boardroom? Or perhaps a tease going into a commercial on Surviver?

Didn't end there, Romney said Gingrich worked to help the dreaded housing agency Freddie Mac. Gingrich fired back by pointing out that Romney owned stock in Freddie Mac, saying, "So maybe Gov. Romney ... should tell us how much money he's made off of how many households that have been foreclosed by his investments." Romney responded saying all of his investments are made by a trustee to avoid such conflicts. Wonder if that trustee still has a job?

Sen. Rick Santorum tried to bring the conversation back to issues, telling Blitzer, "These two gentlemen have been playing petty personal politics, Can we set aside that Newt was a member of Congress and used the skills that he developed as a member of Congress to go out and advise companies, and that's not the worst thing in the world, and that Mitt Romney is a wealthy guy because he worked hard? Focus on the issues." The crowd cheered, but Romney and Gingrich didn't seem to listen.

And what about Ron Paul, he is like your crazy uncle that you always worry what he will say next. But I've got to hand it to Paul, he was right on when Blitzer asked what he thought about Romney and Gingrich's comments to the original question. Paul said he didn't care about what they were talking about, then preceded to answer the original question.

I don't know if the Republicans can win this November, but if the nominee does not win, he should consider continuing the road show. I am thinking you could sell tickets to these debates. Better yet, someone get on the phone with Hollywood, I think I've got the next big hit reality show.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why Tim Tebow is Loved and Hated

You don't even have to be a fan of the National Football League to be familiar with the name Tim Tebow. From late night talk shows, news programs, social websites and every where in between, Tim Tebow has been a target by both supporters and haters since his senior year in college.

Tim Tebow in an ad for Jockey

The question is why? Why is everyone talking about Tim Tebow? More importantly, what makes him so polarizing? Seems like you either love the guy or can't stand his guts.

America loves a good old red-white-and-blue story, and Tim's story does not get more American. He grew up in Florida as the fifth child to Bob and Pam Tebow, both graduates from The University of Florida. Tim was home schooled, but allowed to play in High School sports because of a state law passed in 1996. In High School he lead his team to a state title, was named to the All-State team, was an All-American and named Florida's Mr. Football.

At The University of Florida he won the Heisman as a Sophomore, and lead his team to a National Championship in 2009. Tebow broke numerous SEC and Florida records during his playing time, and he did it all without cheating. In an era of football that will be remembered by great programs like USC and Miami caught breaking the rules, Tim Tebow and the University of Florida won with class.

Like most Heisman winners, the pundits debated on if Tim Tebow's game could carry over into the NFL. The Denver Broncos took a chance on Tebow, selecting him in the first round of the draft, as the 25th overall pick. And what has he done in his rookie year? He lead the Broncos to win their Conference and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs! This is the same Steelers team that represented the AFL in the Superbowl last year. Not a bad start to a professional career. To give it some perspective, Tim Tebow and Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys both have one playoff win on their resume. Romo has been in the league nine years, close to six years as a starter.

So clearly there is a lot to like about Tim Tebow. So why do so many people hate this guy? The answer is simple, his faith. That is what Tebow is known for the most, his faith in Jesus Christ. It has nothing to do with his playing career, simply put people hate Tim Tebow because he is a Christian.

Don't believe me, check out some of the tweets that circled around twitter this past weekend.

God I hate Tim Tebow. (God: "I hate Tim Tebow")

Apparently Lucifer went on ESPN this morning to celebrate the defeat of Tebow

Tebow was 9-26 passing yesterday. Daniel 9:26 --> "...the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing..."

Saddest sight of yesterday: Tim Tebow being led away in chains by Satan.

Tebow in a photo for GQ Magazine

Since Tim Tebow first came on to the national stage in college, he has never been afraid to share his faith. From wearing John 3:16 stickers under his eyes, to filming a pro-life commercial for Focus on the Family, Tim Tebow is not ashamed of his faith.

The world does not like Tim Tebow because the world does not like Jesus Christ. Listen to the words of Christ himself recorded in Mark 13:13a, "You will be hated by all because of My name." And again in John 15:18, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you."

Tim Tebow is not the only Christian in sports today. I recently took the family to Texas Rangers FanFest and felt like I was at a prayer rally listening to Josh Hamilton and David Murphy talk about their love for Jesus. So why does Tebow get all of the attention, all of the hate?

Simply put, Tim wears his Christianity on his sleeve. I must admit, even as a Christian myself, I have found Tebow's style a little too much at times. I find myself wondering if he really is demonstrating his love for his savior or is he selling Jesus as a product. Before you get mad at me, read on.

A perfect example is his prayer after a touchdown. Nothing wrong with praying, but now it has become a verb. From an on-line dictionary: What is Tebowing? (vb) to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.

And Tim Tebow seems to embrace all of the attention, talking about God in every interview and in every situation. Is this a bad thing? Shouldn't all Christians give God the glory? Am I a bad Christian because I don't get down on one knee and pray in the middle of an executive meeting at my office? Is Josh Hamilton a bad Christian because he does not "tebow" after hitting a home run?

But my opinion changed over the weekend. Tim Tebow did not change, I did. First I heard about all of the behind the scenes acts that Tebow does every week. Did you know about his charity work? Sure, like me you probably do now thanks to the national media covering the story during the NFL playoffs, but that has been going on all season. 

And what about all the national attention? I turned to FOX News to watch coverage of the Republican Debates, only to hear the reporters spend an entire segment debating if God cared if Tim Tebow won. Then it hit me! Because of Tebow, the national media is talking about Jesus! It was at this point I started to see Tebow in a better light. I truly believe that God does not care who wins a football game, but he can use football to get people's attention.

As for his witness, I pray Tim does not change, win or lose. Honestly it is the losses that a Christian can have the most impact. It is easy to praise God when you win in life, but much harder to continue praising Him when you lose.

Take Steven Jones for an example. I had the privilege of meeting Jones' parents in 1994. You may not know the name, but Steven play professional golf and always gave God the glory for his victories. In 1988 he won the Bob Hope Classic and sparked a discussion on God in sports. In 1991 he was involved in a motorcycle accident that hurt his ability to play golf. The Jones told me how the media turned to him as asked if he still believed in God. I believe, as his parents did, that he had more of an impact for Christ in that moment, then he did winning the 1988 golf tournament. 

Jones did recover, and shocked the golf world in 1996 when he won the US Open, still giving God the glory.

So Tim, thank you for standing up for your beliefs even when the world, and sometimes Christians question you.

Friday, January 13, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court considers FCC’s indecency policy

The US Supreme Court Is Reviewing the FCC Indecency Policy

So if you are not familiar with the case, the US Supreme Court listened to arguments this week that the FCC Indecency Laws are unconstitutional. There was no clear direction from the court, but the broadcast networks like FOX, NBC, CBS and ABC no longer want to be held to a different standard then the cable networks.

At the very least the FCC rulings seem to be inconsistent, which is at the heart of the Network's arguments. ABC is still battling a fine handed down from showing a woman's backside in an episode of "NYPD Blue" over a decade ago, yet the FCC aloud nudity when "Schindler's List" aired on network television.

It is true that most can't tell a difference between network TV and the hundreds of cable channels. I mean honestly, do you care if the game you are watching is on ABC or ESPN? Do you care if your favorite program airs on NBC or Bravo, FOX of FX? FYI, in case you did not know Disney owns both ABC and ESPN, Universal owns both NBC and Bravo and 20th Century Television owns FOX and FX. To that end, most people can't even tell you what channel they are watching. My wife does not care about networks or channels, she only cares about her favorite shows.

So does that mean we need to do away with indecency laws for the broadcast networks? NO! For starters there is a big difference between broadcast networks and cable channels. While you may get NBC through your cable, satellite or IPTV provider, the fact is that networks are still offered for free over the public airwaves. According to a survey released by Knowledge Networks in June of 2011, about 15% of the US population still watches TV exclusively over-the-air. To put that into real numbers, that represents 17 million households, or roughly 45.6 million viewers.*

Not surprising, the same survey found that families headed up by younger adults made up for a large percentage of families watching TV over-the-air. Younger adults, ages 18-34 have young children.

For the other 85% of us who pay for our TV service, there is still a major difference between the big broadcasters and their sister cable networks. I happen to program two cable networks, and I can tell you channel placement is king. In the interest of full disclosure I program a family network, usually found somewhere in the two hundreds on your cable box. I would love to be located on channel five, eight or eleven. Think about where you go when you turn on your TV. Do you turn to channel 566 or channel five when you sit down to watch television. Ratings tell us that NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX draw more of a TV audience then the cable networks. The recent National Championship game on ESPN drew over 21 million viewers. It was one the highest rated programs in cable history, yet it was the second lowest rated Championship game, a game that use to air on ABC.

The TV Networks told the Supreme Court that they can police themselves, but do we really believe them? Remember it was ABC that pushed the lines with "NYPD Blue." The same network was in the news this week with a story line on the hit TV show "Modern Family." In the episode a toddler is caught saying the "F" word. While you can't hear the child actor say the word, reportedly you can see him mouth the word. Really? And the networks want us to trust them to police themselves?

One final thought, today's broadcast shows are tomorrow's cable shows. "The Office" is still in production, airing new programs Thursday nights on NBC. You can catch reruns of "The Office" Tuesday nights on TBS. My point? If broadcast networks start producing series without the FCC limits, all of cable will start to get even more indecent. 

I feel quite confident this is an issue that is not going away anytime soon.

* - Over-the-Air TV Homes Now Include 46 Million Consumers

Thursday, January 12, 2012

College football is messed up! Sound familiar?

College football is messed up! Sound familiar? Seems like we have been hearing this argument for years. Lack of a playoff system, boosters paying players and Universities making millions of dollars. So what are we going to do to fix the system?

First lets examine what is really at the heart of the issue. College football is a big business. That's right, you may think college football is about tradition, supporting your team and giving students an education, but you're wrong. College football is all about making money for the Universities and the big TV Networks. If you want proof, you need not look any further then the payouts from the bowl games.

Bowl games pay Universities and the conferences they represent money to play in the games. The money varies from bowl game to bowl game. The Beef O' Brady Bowl had one of the lowest payouts at $500,000. Compared to the National Championship game, which paid $18 million dollars. So where do the bowl games get the money to pay the Universities? You know the answer, sponsors. From Beef O' Brady to Allstate, corporate sponsors pour millions of dollars into college sports. And it's not just the bowl games, TV contracts pay billions.

The most recent TV contract was reportedly worth $10.8 Billion dollars. Working in Television I can tell you that TV Networks like ESPN and Fox would not pay that kind of money if they could not make a return on their investment. Again, this is a business. Cable affiliate fees, where your cable or satellite company pays the network for the right to air the network and sponsor dollars more then make up the $10.8 Billion dollars.

So what is my point? The Universities and TV Networks will be more then happy to go to a playoff system if, and only if they can make more money. Forget the talk about wanting a true national champion. The Presidents and Boards at your favorite University don't care who the national champion is in any give year. They care about how much money is being brought in by their football team. The networks don't care who wins the national championship, they only want to maximize the dollars brought in by airing the games.

Second is the issue of boosters paying money. Boosters, unlike the suits at the University, really want to win and win every year. College football players get a free education, room and food, but not much else. An athlete cannot get a job in most cases, because his time is filled with going to school and going to practice. I am not condoning the action of boosters who pay student athletes, I am simply stating the facts. While the Universities make millions, the players do not get paid.

Let me be clear, I am okay with college football being a business. The local impact to the economy can be huge in cities like Austin, College Station or Waco. Money from TV rights helps fund other sports and beyond money it helps market the University. Nothing wrong with making money. We just need to understand the heart of the issue and why after years of talking about fixing college football, we are still talking about fixing college football.

I do think there is a solution, or at least a compromise being discussed. You may have heard about the "plus one" system. Not exactly a playoff, but I think it will quiet down the critics for at least a couple of seasons. The idea is that you play the season and the bowl games as normal. Let the corporate sponsors payout the millions. The difference being that the national championship game would not be determined until after the bowl games are played. So, for example, Oklahoma State would have played Alabama for the national title a week following the bowl games. Of course LSU and Alabama would not have played each other in a normal bowl game, but you get the idea. Have the number one team play the number four team in a bowl, and the number two team play the number three team in a bowl. The winners play in a national championship game a week later.

I like this idea of a "plus one." You are not adding any games to an already long college football season. You also have the added benefit of seeing the top two teams having only a week to prepare for the game. Not knowing who will play until a week before will also increase the hype before the game. Kind of like Super Bowl week in the NFL.

We all agree something needs to be done. Lets just all recognize that the real driving force behind the discussion is not a national championship, but how much money can be made.