Sunday, March 30, 2008

Any word on Anthony Grant?


VCU fans ask one another, “Heard anything, yet?“

They’re on the Grant Watch. Last spring they almost lost their successful men’s basketball head coach, Anthony Grant (pictured above). This year he has has been making news in ways and in places that mean he’s surely going to be tempted to leave VCU after two years at the Siegel Center.

In the next month a few other universities are going to do their best to convince him he doesn’t want to live in Richmond, Virginia, anymore. Doesn’t want to coach Eric Maynor for his senior year.

The Rams fans expect it, they know Grant is going on to a bigger job, one day. They just hope it’s not going to happen yet ... one more year.

Here’s a sample of the press Grant is getting, beyond the pages of the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s sports page.

The Providence Journal:

The best young coaching candidate in the country is Anthony Grant, the Virginia Commonwealth coach whom Florida was ready to hire when Billy Donovan accepted the Orlando Magic job for a day last spring. The basketball world sees Grant as the likely hire at LSU or South Carolina, but that hasn’t happened yet.

STYLE Weekly

Virginia Commonwealth University Rams basketball coach Anthony Grant doesn’t want you to read this story. He should, mind you. Few would blame him if he summoned the cameras to record a seemingly made-for-PR decision: to take his team to the Freedom House to serve dinner to the homeless a few days after losing to the College of William and Mary, a perennial basketball lightweight, in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.

The Advocate:

LSU associate athletic director Herb Vincent said the school continues to decline comment on the search. Athletic media relations officials at Virginia Commonwealth said Rams coach Anthony Grant is also still declining comment, as did Grant’s agent. VCU’s basketball contact Chris Kowalczyk said the school has not heard from LSU about receiving official permission to speak to Grant.

The State

The News Star

-- Photo by F.T. Rea

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sunday's Guerilla Art Show on MashUp

The oil painting above is the work of Jay Bohannan. He's been painting scenes to do with the tobacco business for years. Jay will be among the adventurous artists participating in the Guerilla Art Show in Byrd Park behind the Carillon around the Ha’Penny stage on Sunday, Mar. 30., from 2 p.m until 5 p.m.

To see a video about this happening event click here to watch it on the MashUp page at (The art show stuff follows the bicycle event, which they cover first.)

If you are an artist or an art lover, the Guerilla Art Show -- free to one and all -- may be just what you're looking for in the way of how to spend a pretty spring afternoon. Here's why: Artists are going to schlep some of their work out to the park to show it, and to offer it for sale to whoever shows up to look at it.

For the artists to note -- no one will take a percentage of what is sold; there is no charge to participate. Display space will be first come, first serve … but share. Just bring your art and you're in the show.

For art lovers to note -- since you'll be buying the art directly from the artist, with no gallery commission added onto the price, there will be some good bargains to be had. Everybody wins.

Folks are also going to be picnicking at the tables in that same area. Some may be bringing musical instruments (no electricity), too. All are welcome to come to the park and have a good time. There’s also a fenced-in playground area for small children. So, bring your sense of humor, your coolers, and whatever else you think you ought to have with you to have fun.

For more about the art show on Sunday, and how the first Guerilla Art Show went back in September, click here. For more information email me, Terry Rea, at, or call (804) 359-4864.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The kitchen sink stinks
The so-called “kitchen sink” strategy of Hillary Clinton’s desperate, scratching, clawing campaign has a much better chance of paying dividends for her if the round-the-clock media covering this year’s Democratic nomination process give her moves the leeway they need.

If Clinton can say absurd things -- promulgate utter fantasies, or criticize her opponent’s religious practice -- without being challenged by the working press, then those conveniently averted eyes are clearly working to help to keep her in the race.

Which is far closer to the mission of CNN and MSNBC than reporting the news of the day in a truthful way is.

Clinton’s making up a story about ducking bullets in the former Yugoslavia was not just a slip of the tongue. It was prevarication. So far her flippant explanation has been quite inadequate. But since she trails in delegates that problem has been reported as if it matters no more than whether Bill Richardson's new beard undermines his credibility and makes his endorsement of her opponent, Barack Obama, less important.

Beyond that, Clinton's gall to presume she can instruct Obama about where his family should go to church seems unprecedented to me. Can anyone remember anything like that being said before by a serious candidate running for president?

For the press, pretending such “kitchen sink” maneuvers are standard procedure, all in the game, is not exactly reporting the truth. No, it’s trying to shape perception to create more of a “horse race.” It's a manipulative effort to sell ads.

Which isn't so much rightwing, or leftwing, or evil. It's just business.

So, let the buyer beware ... can you dig it?

-- Words and art by F.T. Rea

Monday, March 24, 2008

Seven bluish-black spots

About this time of year ten years ago, a sneaky spider bit me on the temple area next to my right eye. The initial symptom was an itchiness that got steadily worse. It was my then-girlfriend who first suggested, “Spider bite.”

Since I didn’t see the culprit and don’t know when it happened, I had no idea if she was right or wrong.

By the end of the first day there was some swelling and redness. Over the next couple of days the swelling increased until my eye was completely closed by it. I felt weak and nauseous, with chills and body aches.

The doctor I saw confirmed the spider bite diagnosis. He guessed it was a brown recluse; he told me he didn’t know all that much about spider bites. Apparently, most doctors don’t. He said it was just a matter of how my body would react to the venom. An antibiotic was prescribed to deal with the infection problem that sometimes comes along with any sort of bite.

"Unfortunately," said the doctor, there was nothing he could give me to prevent the venom's tricks from running their course in my body.

Since I took the medicine, some of how I felt for the next week may have had to do with the bite, plus a reaction to the pills. In general, I wasn’t as sick as the worst day of a full blown flu. It was somewhat similar to the flu, but it was much more disorienting.

As the swelling went down, the seven spots that had formed in the middle of it gradually turned from reddish-purple to bluish-black. Naturally, I looked at them every few minutes, to see what would happen next.

To understand my problem better I read about brown recluse bites online. It only scared me more. I came to understand the spots I was seeing on my face, grouped within an area the size of a penny, were necrotic flesh.

It was a sobering thought -- my flesh was dying. After looking at gross photographs of people who had huge tissue losses from brown recluse bites, I swore off my research.

The sick feeling gradually went away. The swelling disappeared. The dark spots, most of them the size of a piece of rice, or smaller, rotted away and dropped off, leaving seven little holes.

Today the scars are mixed in with the crows feet lines extending from the corner of my eye, so mostly they are only noticed by someone who remembers the ordeal and wants to look for them.

Like other healing wounds there was itching problem that was a distraction at times. That went on for months. Yet what was the strangest aspect of it all came later, after I had stopped worrying about the spider bite all the time: Every so often, there was a feathery, fluttering sensation that felt just like an insect -- or a ghostly spider! -- was skittering across my eyelid, or the eyeball itself.

Each time it happened I flinched, believing, at least for a fraction of a second, it could be a spider on my eye.

It was torture. Maybe a year after the spider bite that last spooky effect of it faded away, too. I suppose the healing was over.

Never worried about spiders much before this experience. Live and let live was my approach. After that fluttering eye thing, if I see a spider indoors these days its biting days are over.

Ever since this happened I’ve wondered -- why seven holes? Were there seven separate bites? Or, was it one big bite and seven reactions? The doctor said he didn’t have the answer.

-- 30 --

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It mattered in ‘68; it will matter in '08

Once again, it’s an election year and the United States is slogging through an increasingly unpopular war in a distant land mysterious to most Americans -- a war with no end in sight. We were in the same situation in 1968. As it happened 40 years ago, this year’s election process is of particular interest to young people.

1968 unfolded the year after San Francisco’s Summer of Love, it was the year before American astronauts walked on the moon. Moreover, 1968 was a year of unprecedented upheaval -- like it, or not, times were changing.

The next president will be following George Bush, who by invading Iraq made the worst American foreign policy mistake since Lyndon Johnson chose to turn Vietnam into a bloody quagmire. It’s worth noting that both wars were propped up by bogus intelligence reports, but that’s a story for another day.

Forty years ago American voters were also at a crossroads. Here’s some of how it played out, as I remember it:

Jan. 23: The USS Pueblo was seized on the high seas by North Korean forces. Subsequently, as captives, its 83 men endured an ordeal that was shocking to an American public that had naively thought its country was too strong for such a thing to happen.

Jan. 30: The Tet Offensive began, as the shadowy Viet Cong flexed its muscles and blurred battle lines with simultaneous assaults taking place in many parts of South Vietnam. Even the American embassy in Saigon was attacked/penetrated.

Mar. 31: Facing the burgeoning antiwar-driven campaigns of Sen. Eugene McCarthy and Sen. Robert Kennedy, President Lyndon Johnson suddenly withdrew from the presidential race, declining to run for reelection by saying, “I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination...”

Apr. 5: America’s most respected civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, was shot and killed in Memphis. Riots followed in cities coast-to-coast. The bitterness that remained after the dust settled was scary. In Richmond, it meant young whites who followed music could no longer go in the black clubs they had once patronized.

May 13: The USA and North Vietnam began a series of negotiations to end the war in Vietnam that came to be known as the Paris Peace Talks. Ironically, as a backdrop, France itself was in chaos. Workers and students had shut down much of the country with a series of strikes. The trains weren’t running, airports were closed, as were schools, etc.

May 24: Father Philip Berrigan and Thomas Lewis (of Artists Concerned About Vietnam) got six years for destroying federal property by pouring duck blood over draft files at Baltimore’s Selective Service headquarters.

June 5: Having just won the California primary Robert Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles. The hopes of millions that the Vietnam War would end soon died that night, since it’s hard to imagine that Richard Nixon would have been able to defeat Kennedy in the general election.

June 8: James Earl Ray was arrested in London. Eventually, he was convicted of murdering Martin Luther King. Yet, questions about that crime still linger today.

Aug. 21: Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia to crush what had been a season of renaissance. As it had been with the construction of the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile Crisis, talk of World War III being one button-push away was commonplace.

Aug 28: In Chicago the Democratic convention that selected Vice President Hubert Humphrey to top its ticket melted down. With tear gas in the air and blood in the streets 178 demonstrators/bystanders were arrested. Many were roughed up on live television. As cops clubbed citizens in the streets, CBS reporters Mike Wallace and Dan Rather were punched on the convention floor. At this point, it really seemed to me the civilized world was coming apart.

Nov. 5: Richard Nixon narrowly defeated Hubert Humphrey. Although Humphrey himself was for peace, out of loyalty he refused to denounce Johnson’s failing war policy; it cost him dearly. Also elected that day was Shirley Chisholm from Brooklyn. She was the first black female to serve in the House of Representatives.

Dec. 24: After having its way with them for 11 months, North Korea released the 83 members of the Pueblo’s crew. The U.S. Navy had to just suck up the humiliation.

A lot of antiwar people, especially young people, gave up hope due to 1968’s staggering disappointments. So many bad things happened during that strange year, it seemed to the disillusioned that it wouldn’t matter -- Nixon or Humphrey, who cares? So, many simply didn’t vote.

They were wrong -- it did matter.

Nixon escalated the war and it dragged on for years. Thousands died because Nixon won instead of Humphrey. Eventually the utterly corrupt Nixon White House gave us the bewildering series of scandals that led to his forced resignation in 1974.

As wild as 2008 has been and may eventually get, voters who want to end the war in Iraq as quickly as possible should not forget -- it will matter who wins the presidency. Accordingly, they should vote for the candidate they trust to bring the troops home as fast as it can be done.

What’s been lost by going into Iraq is gone. The dead will be remembered for their sacrifice, the living still have a chance to survive Bush's colossal blunder and vote in November. Now the money we need to fix our own problems at home, beginning with health care and infrastructure, is being spent/poured down a rat hole by the billions each week.

Given our violent history, we pray no one will kill off our best hope for peace this time. But history clearly says even if that happens, no matter what happens, it will still matter who gets elected president.
-- Words by F.T. Rea

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

VCU falls to old nemesis UAB

Tonight at the Siegel Center the UAB Blazers knocked VCU out of the National Invitational Tournament and thus ended VCU’s 2007-08 basketball season. In losing to the Blazers, 80-77, the Rams overall record fell to 24-8.

After his team’s desperate rally to catch the visitors fell three points short, VCU head coach Anthony Grant (pictured above) faced the press in the media room. His Rams may have won the Colonial Athletic Association regular season crown, but they were one-and-done in the poor man’s postseason tournament. Grant’s usual practiced post-game steady voice wasn’t there, instead he sounded calm but worn out.

VCU point guard Eric Maynor, scored just two points in the first half, then finished with a game-high 22 points. Senior guard Jamal Shuler scored 21 points in his last game in a VCU uniform.

Grant praised his players’ effort in the second half. Unfortunately, their rather lackluster effort in the first half had left the Rams 11 points behind the taller and stronger Blazers, who pushed the lead to 15 with 6:39 left in the game.

VCU showed a lot of grit in the tilt‘s last five minutes, but it was too little, too late. It was another game in which the talented but moody Rams seemed unwilling to play with sufficient intensity for enough minutes to win against a well-coached, rugged opponent. No doubt, for Grant, some losses are more exhausting than others.

UAB advanced to the NIT’s second round, where they will face Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Here’s hoping Grant will get a good night’s sleep and wake up wanting to coach at the Siegel Center for Maynor’s senior year, to see how his freshmen from Florida can do with a year’s experience under their belts. VCU has the potential, if the Rams play with more maturity next year, to be a Top 25 team.

-- Photo from VCU

Mar. 19, 2003: Remembering Byrd's words

Five years into the outrageously expensive war in Iraq, it's easy to say the Democrats should have done more to oppose the Bush administration's policy that launched the war. For instance, now we know the evidence of weapons of mass destruction offered in the run-up to the war was bogus.

Remember Condi Rice's imaginary mushroom cloud? Remember how UN weapons inspector Hans Blix tried to tell us there wasn't any credible evidence of WMDs? Remember how the war's promoters blew off Blix's warnings as naive or anti-American?

Some Democrats have changed their minds in the five years since the war began. Now they know Blix was right. Now they know Iraq's oil revenues have not and will not help cover the price of the war. Some have admitted they were wrong, others continue to justify their bad judgment on the issue.

However, there was one prominent Democrat in Washington who did all he could to challenge that misguided war policy back in 2003 -- U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd.

Five years ago, Byrd's words were also dismissed by hawks, busy with practicing their cakewalking steps. He was cast as an old goat, who was just out of touch with the times.

Well, it turns out Byrd was right and the neoconservative war-mongers were wrong about WMDs, wrong about how the war would go, wrong about just about everything to do with Iraq. In fact, we don't even hear about "neoconservatives" much, anymore.

So, how were the Democrats so easily duped? Did Byrd have a crystal ball? Or, is it more like he a reasonable man with the courage to stand up and say the emperor had no clothes?

Byrd’s speech delivered on the floor of the U.S. Senate on March 19, 2003 makes for a particularly interesting read now, in light of all we've learned since that day. The text of that speech follows:
I believe in this beautiful country. I have studied its roots and gloried in the wisdom of its magnificent Constitution. I have marveled at the wisdom of its founders and framers. Generation after generation of Americans has understood the lofty ideals that underlie our great Republic. I have been inspired by the story of their sacrifice and their strength.

But, today I weep for my country. I have watched the events of recent months with a heavy, heavy heart. No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. The image of America has changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned.

Instead of reasoning with those with whom we disagree, we demand obedience or threaten recrimination. Instead of isolating Saddam Hussein, we seem to have isolated ourselves. We proclaim a new doctrine of preemption which is understood by few and feared by many. We say that the United States has the right to turn its firepower on any corner of the globe which might be suspect in the war on terrorism. We assert that right without the sanction of any international body. As a result, the world has become a much more dangerous place.

We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance. We treat UN Security Council members like ingrates who offend our princely dignity by lifting their heads from the carpet. Valuable alliances are split.

After war has ended, the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America's image around the globe.

The case this Administration tries to make to justify its fixation with war is tainted by charges of falsified documents and circumstantial evidence. We cannot convince the world of the necessity of this war for one simple reason. This is a war of choice.

There is no credible information to connect Saddam Hussein to 9/11. The twin towers fell because a world-wide terrorist group, Al Qaeda, with cells in over 60 nations, struck at our wealth and our influence by turning our own planes into missiles, one of which would likely have slammed into the dome of this beautiful Capitol except for the brave sacrifice of the passengers on board.

The brutality seen on September 11th and in other terrorist attacks we have witnessed around the globe are the violent and desperate efforts by extremists to stop the daily encroachment of western values upon their cultures. That is what we fight. It is a force not confined to borders. It is a shadowy entity with many faces, many names, and many addresses.

But, this Administration has directed all of the anger, fear, and grief which emerged from the ashes of the twin towers and the twisted metal of the Pentagon towards a tangible villain, one we can see and hate and attack. And villain he is. But, he is the wrong villain. And this is the wrong war. If we attack Saddam Hussein, we will probably drive him from power. But, the zeal of our friends to assist our global war on terrorism may have already taken flight.

The general unease surrounding this war is not just due to "orange alert." There is a pervasive sense of rush and risk and too many questions unanswered. How long will we be in Iraq? What will be the cost? What is the ultimate mission? How great is the danger at home?

A pall has fallen over the Senate Chamber. We avoid our solemn duty to debate the one topic on the minds of all Americans, even while scores of thousands of our sons and daughters faithfully do their duty in Iraq.

What is happening to this country? When did we become a nation which ignores and berates our friends? When did we decide to risk undermining international order by adopting a radical and doctrinaire approach to using our awesome military might? How can we abandon diplomatic efforts when the turmoil in the world cries out for diplomacy?

Why can this President not seem to see that America's true power lies not in its will to intimidate, but in its ability to inspire?

War appears inevitable. But, I continue to hope that the cloud will lift. Perhaps Saddam will yet turn tail and run. Perhaps reason will somehow still prevail. I along with millions of Americans will pray for the safety of our troops, for the innocent civilians in Iraq, and for the security of our homeland. May God continue to bless the United States of America in the troubled days ahead, and may we somehow recapture the vision which for the present eludes us.

-- Sen. Robert Byrd (on 3/19/03)

Friday, March 14, 2008

McCain fears terrorists prefer Democrats

Republican Senator John McCain, while praising the strategy and results of the so-called “surge” in Iraq, stands ready to point his finger at Democrats, if the level of violence increases and the surge fails.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Friday he fears that al Qaeda or another extremist group might attempt spectacular attacks in Iraq to try to tilt the U.S. election against him.

McCain, at a town hall meeting in this Philadelphia suburb, was asked if he had concerns that anti-American militants in Iraq might ratchet up their activities in Iraq to try to increase casualties in September or October and tip the November election against him...
Click here to read the entire article.

So, McCain wants us to believe that al Qaeda, or the militant Shiites, or the militant Sunnis, or some of the other bloodthirsty hoodlums that roam the landscape in Iraq, prefer Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama over him. They prefer the donkeys so damn much they will blow up whatever has yet to be blown up, in order to make the surge -- perhaps beginning to fizzle -- look like a dud.

In other words, Osama bin Laden and his henchmen would vote Democratic if they could, because they are more like Democrats than Republicans. If that tortured logic sounds warmed over, it’s no wonder.

The same lame argument was used by Republicans during the Cold War. Democrats were frequently characterized as “soft on communism” by the hawkish rightwing of the Republican Party, who wanted voters who feared communists to see liberals as “pink.” Which, of course, meant that liberal Democrats were a watered down version of being “red,” the color that symbolized the godless commies.

So, it wasn’t unusual for flag-waving rightwingers to say that communist leaders were rooting for the Democrats to win elections, since liberals were left-of-center and therefore closer to being commies than they ought to be.

Since the Cold War ended, some Republicans have continued to beat that dead horse in applying the same silliness to any perceived enemy of the USA, any old time. So, now Democrats are cast as being “soft on terror.”

But sometimes there’s a problem with recycling slogans. The religious fanatics of the Middle East, who are killing members of our armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are not communists. They are the extreme rightwingers of their part of the world. They aren’t godless. Rather than being anti-capitalists, they are against all of modernity.

The closest counterparts to those cats in our culture are the backward religious cultists who blow up abortion clinics and federal buildings, or stalk funerals, or stockpile exotic weapons and train private armies, etc.

The Middle East has its foaming-at-the-mouth “conservatives,” who claim to get their orders to kill innocent people from their god. America has had its Branch Davidians. Iraq has its blowhard clerics. Virginia still has its Pat Robertson.

As much as I like McCain, and respect his long record of service to his country, when he plays the fear card in the same style as our sitting president, I have to throw a penalty flag. And, when I think that a McCain presidency would play out as an extension of George Bush’s way of doing business with regard to foreign policy, well, it makes me shudder.

America needs its next president to see the world as it is, not as once was, or as he or she wishes it is.

The age of a so-called Super Power’s ability to use occupation to force its will on those occupied has passed. Even the term “Super Power” sounds dated to me. It doesn’t even make sense today. Therefore, America needs a president who knows we do not have the resources to stay in Iraq with a substantial force for 50 years, as McCain has suggested may be in the cards.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Guerilla Art Show Mar. 30


On Sunday afternoon, Mar. 30, from 2 p.m until 5 p.m., a rather unusual art happening will unfold behind the Carillon around the Ha’Penny stage in Byrd Park. Artists with the spirit of adventure to take advantage of this opportunity are going to schlep some of their work out to the park to show it, and to offer it for sale to whoever shows up to look at it.

Last September three artists participated in what was the first Guerilla Art Show in Byrd Park at this same location. The stage (just behind the Carillon on the right, as you face it) offers plenty of display area to hang things or just set on the stage. For participating artists to note -- no one will take a percentage of what is sold; there is no charge to participate. Display space will be first come, first serve ... but share.

Last time about $1,400's worth of art was sold.

Folks are also going to be picnicking at the tables in that same area. Some will be bringing musical instruments (no electricity), too. All are welcome to come to the park and have a good time looking at the art and playing/listening to music. There's also a fenced-in playground area for kids.

Bring your sense of humor, your coolers, and whatever else you think you ought to have with you to have fun. Just as it was last time, the artists don't need anyone's permission. If you think this spontaneous project sounds like fun, then you are welcome to join in.

The piece above -- "Striped Discs No. 2" -- in ink and color pencils, is mine. Along with other pieces, large and small, it will be for sale. For more information email me, Terry Rea, at, or call (804) 359-4864.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nixon's secret plan: Scare up the peace

At the urging of a friend, I just read “The Nukes of October: Richard Nixon's Secret Plan to Bring Peace to Vietnam” written by Jeremi Suri for Wired.

It was equal parts goofy and chilling. And, since one of my favorite movies is “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” it was an irresistible read.

It was fun, too, because I remember how Nixon campaigned in 1968 on the promise he had a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War in six months ... well, now with this piece in Wired we may be seeing some of what he had in mind.
Codenamed Giant Lance, Nixon's plan was the culmination of a strategy of premeditated madness he had developed with national security adviser Henry Kissinger. The details of this episode remained secret for 35 years and have never been fully told. Now, thanks to documents released through the Freedom of Information Act, it's clear that Giant Lance was the leading example of what historians came to call the "madman theory": Nixon's notion that faked, finger-on-the-button rage could bring the Soviets to heel...
Click here to read all about those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summertime for the baby boomer generation, a time with the Cold War everywhere you looked.

-- Art by F.T. Rea (1999)

Geyer on Obama's leadership

Longtime columnist -- much of the time on international politics -- Georgie Anne Geyer is still one of the best at seeing through the smog of the moment, to focus on what will actually matter in the long run.

In “Leadership is Obama’s best quality” Geyer underlines some of the differences between the leadership styles and distinctive abilities of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as they pertain to campaigning now, and dealing with other countries later.
[Obama} rightly answered: "The question is not about picking up the phone. The question is what kind of judgment will you make when you answer?" To which the always impressive Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, commented, "What matters most in the Oval Office is sound judgment and decisive action. It's about getting it right on crucial national security questions the first time -- and every time."

But that is not what Hillary is talking about these unpleasant, unnecessary days. Her mantra now is, "I am a fighter. I am a fighter." Very well, but what exactly does that mean?

Does that mean she is fighting the Republicans? It does not appear so, not when she says so unnervingly for her party that Republican candidate John McCain is eminently capable of being commander in chief, but that her fellow Democrat Barack Obama, supposedly for lack of her pugnacity and his purported "lack of experience," is not.

She is a fighter against Democrats -- men and women who essentially believe in the same precepts and principles as she does. So the fighter mantra comes down to merely a struggle to advance her own intense and often reckless ambition.
Moreover, Geyer is hardly a starry-eyed idealist who has been duped by lofty rhetoric and pie-in-the-sky dreams. She’s no card-carrying liberal, either. Click here to read the entire piece.

Don't know much about Geyer? What does she know? Click here to read a six-paragraph bio.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Upset by Tribe, Rams sit and wait

From the Fan District Hub: As the seconds ticked off the clock -- facing a stubborn, resourceful William & Mary squad -- VCU’s junior guard Eric Maynor reached into his pocketful of miracles one more time. Having swished a three-pointer 39 seconds earlier, to knot the score at 51, it must have looked to many in the noisy crowd of 11,200 that another episode of Maynor Time was unfolding before their eyes.

Why not?


VCU head coach Anthony Grant

Remember Maynor’s spectacular clutch performances last season against Mason (in the CAA tournament finale) and Duke (in the NCAA tournament)? Remember so many games this season in which he just took over at the end to stave off defeat?

This time, instead of finding another miracle, Maynor collided with junior forward Peter Stein, both men tumbled to the Richmond Coliseum floor. The referee’s whistle sounded with 2:41 left on the game clock.

Maynor was called for charging.

It was the pivotal call of the game. The play happened directly in front of my seat on press row. Unfortunately, for VCU, I had a much better view of the collision than the referee who trailed the play did.

To me, Stein appeared to be lunging with only one foot down when the contact occurred. But Maynor, CAA Player of the Year, was being double-teamed. And, he was dribbling toward the sideline. Consequently, the trailing ref’s view was obscured, so he had to call what seemed proper. Since Maynor was in the process of driving one-on-two into trouble, perhaps a little out of control, the call went against VCU.

If all other elements are equal, a referee will frequently make such calls against the player who is making the wrong move, fundamentally. Since Maynor should not have been taking the ball that far to the side with two men on him, the Tribe benefited from what seems now to have been the most important whistle of the game.

Final score: W&M 56, VCU 54.

Later, after his ordeal with the press in the Media Room, Wm. & Mary’s head coach Tony Shaver -- CAA Coach of the Year -- came out to sit on press row to scout the Mason/UNC Wilmington tilt. By chance, he sat next to me, so I congratulated him and we spoke of that same charging foul.

Shaver agreed that was the pivotal moment of the game. He graciously conceded that like so many charging/blocking decisions, it probably could have been called either way.

Well, for whatever reason, we know it went Shaver’s way. Hey, his team has won three games in a row on last-second shots.

Now, while Wm. & Mary (17-15) prepares to face Mason (22-10) in the championship game tonight (7 p.m ESPN), VCU head coach Anthony Grant and his (24-7) Rams team are left to twiddle their thumbs ... twiddle and wait.

Update: The Patriots won the shindig, defeating the Tribe, 68-59 ... now back to the analysis.

Will the NCAA selection committee invite the waiting Rams to the Big Dance, anyway, as an at-large entry? Will it not? Meanwhile, what else did VCU’s surprising, rather sub-par performance in its two CAA tournament games reveal?

Answer No. 1: Despite all the talk of Grant being lured away from the Siegel Center by an offer he can’t refuse, despite all the talk about Maynor turning pro after this season, no coach, no player nor team can depend on miracles to always make up for fundamental mistakes and spells of mediocre effort.

VCU let Wm. & Mary stay in the game, so the Tribe could steal it at the end. The Rams clearly lacked the killer instinct, necessary for a mature team, when they came out for the second half. It happened several times during the regular season. This time they paid for it.

Answer No. 2: VCU can be too predictable in late game situations. Everybody knows about the Maynor Time thing. The Rams lost to ODU on Feb. 16 at the Siegel Center in much the same way as they did last night -- again Maynor drove toward the sideline and into trouble. That, instead of recognizing a double-team and passing to an open man. In that game it was a no-call that canceled Maynor Time.

Then again, last night, with the double-team developing, was there an open Ram moving into position to receive a pass and take a shot? Or, were Maynor’s teammates standing, and watching, and waiting for the next miracle?

Answer No. 3: First-seeded VCU was uptight in both CAA tournament games. Unlike last season, when the Rams won the CAA tournament, this year’s VCU team did not have great senior leadership on the floor. In particular, senior forward Michael Anderson, had a season-long tendency to disappear, or overreact. The winning basket by Laimis Kisielius (game-high 23 points) was scored on Anderson; his defense was soft.

Senior Wil Fameni was too hobbled by injury to be much help. Moreover, this time there was no Jesse Pellot-Rosa, to set a tone of toughness throughout the whole game.

Answer No. 4: Grant did not use his bench in the tournament as he had the entire season, especially in the game he lost. So, the advantage of fresh legs at crunch time, because he usually goes 11 or 12 deep, was not there.

No. 5: Freshmen will be freshmen. Sanders and Brandon Rozzell played well, Sanders had a great game on Saturday. But starter Joey Rodriguez, and subs Lance Kearse and Ed Nixon will be happy to forget their performances at the Coliseum.

The Rams’ RPI dropped from No. 43 to No. 56 with the loss to the Tribe. With the results of other conference’s games this week that could get a little better, or worse, but it won’t move much. History says teams rated in the 50s, from a mid-major conference, don’t get many at-large invitations.

Asked what he thought VCU’s chances are to get that at-large bid, Coach Grant declined to guess. He shrugged and said he’d just be “making stuff up,” to engage in such speculation.

Out of miracles, at least temporarily, over their spring break the Rams have been left to think about what got away ... and to wait for Selection Sunday’s verdict. However, they will play again, somewhere. Regular season conference winners are guaranteed an invitation to the NIT.

Note: Click here to read the rest of the Fan District Hub's CAA tournament coverage.

-- 30 --

-- Words and photo by F.T. Rea

Mar. 10: Last VA Top Five

Each Monday during basketball season, SLANTblog publishes its Virginia Top Five, which attempts to rank what seems at the moment to be the best five teams from among the 14 Division I men's programs in the Commonwealth, in order.

At this writing, none of the teams on the list below is a lock to receive an at-large invitation to the NCAA's Big Dance. Mason can punch its own ticket tonight if it beats Wm. & Mary. Likewise, Tech, UVa. and Richmond can go to the NCAA's if they win their conference tournaments. Of that group, Tech is the only one that stands any chance of getting invited if they falter in their tournament. VCU, which lost to W&M last night, is also perched on the bubble, and thus needs for first-seeded teams all over the country to win their league tournaments to improve the Rams' chance to receive at-large bid.

This will be this season's last Top Five.

SLANTblog's VA Top Five

1. VCU (24-7, 16-4 in CAA, No. 56 RPI)
2. Va. Tech (18-12, 9-7 in ACC, No. 60 RPI)
3. Mason (22-10, 14-6 in CAA, No. 64 RPI)
4. UVa. (15-14, 5-11 in ACC, No. 107 RPI)
5. Richmond (16-13, 9-7 in A-10, No. 115 RPI)

-- RPI numbers from RealTime RPI

Friday, March 07, 2008

Maynor and Shuler All-CAA

VCU junior guard Eric Maynor (pictured above with the ball) was named as the 2008 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year on Thursday night at the league's awards banquet here in Richmond. William and Mary’s Tony Shaver was also honored as the CAA Coach of the Year.

The voting was done by the conference’s head coaches, sports information directors and beat reporters.

Maynor (684 votes) averaged 17.8 points per game and 5.3 assists per contest. In addition to Maynor the others on the All-CAA First Team were: George Mason's senior forward Will Thomas (631 votes); Hofstra's senior guard Antoine Agudio (597 votes); UNC Wilmington's senior guard T.J. Carter (511 votes); VCU's senior guard Jamal Shuler (480 votes ).

On the league's Second Team were (in order of voting): Folarin Campbell, Mason; Matt Janning, NU; Vlad Kuljanin, UNCW; Frank Elegar, Drexel; Gerald Lee, ODU.

Update: Will Maynor turn pro after the season? Click here to read the answer in Tim Pearrell's "Leap Year?" in Friday's Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hillary's Commander-in-Chief threshold?

The Hillary Clinton newest strategy-of-the-day has been to establish a Commander-in-Chief "threshold," then declare herself and John McCain as having resumes that meet that new standard, while she questions Barack Obama’s resume. This ploy stinks to high heaven.

If the Democrats interested in rebuilding their political party are in touch with reality, then Clinton’s rather desperate tactic in this case should be branded as "out-of-bounds." For her to one day entertain the notion of Obama as her running mate, then the next day claim his readiness to be president seems less adequate than the current Republican candidate’s is rather bipolar.

How can Hillary Clinton say both things hours apart and not be called squirrelly? Who the hell wants a squirrelly Commander-in-Chief?

For loyal Democrats, is Clinton’s stand in this off-the-wall attempt to undermine support for Obama different enough from Joe Lieberman’s, who has already broken with the Democratic Party and endorsed McCain?

And, once she focuses on this angle, who thinks Hillary Clinton’s actual credentials as a foreign policy/military expert are equal to former POW, longtime U.S. Senator John McCain's?

Dig it: Before Clinton's time as a U.S. Senator (since 2001), her only view of such matters was as the wife of a president. Moreover, while resumes are nice, and always worth looking at, isn't a potential president’s judgment and world view sometimes more important?

Otherwise, in 1992, when Bill Clinton, with no military service whose Commander-in-Chief credibility stemmed only from having been governor of Arkansas, ran against George H.W. Bush, who had been a pilot in WWII, served as a congressman, headed up the CIA, been both vice president and president, well, it seems Hillary would have had a real dilemma on her hands.

If smart Democrats interested in winning in November are paying attention, this brouhaha should be making an alarm go off.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Mar. 3: VA Top Five

Each Monday during basketball season, SLANTblog publishes its up-to-date Virginia Top Five, which takes into account the results of the week's games. Accordingly, it attempts to rank what seems at the moment to be the best five teams from among the 14 Division I men's programs in the Commonwealth.

At this writing, none of the teams on the list below is a lock to receive an at-large invitation to the NCAA's Big Dance. VCU is the most likely, should the Rams falter in the CAA tournament, but since the Colonial is generally seen as weaker this season than last, it's still too soon to say. Tech's RPI doesn't help its case, but if the Hokies finish over .500 in the ACC they could earn a bid yet.

SLANTblog's VA Top Five

1. VCU (23-6, 15-3 in CAA, No. 44 RPI)
2. Va. Tech (17-11, 8-6 in ACC, No. 62 RPI)
3. Mason (20-10, 12-6 in CAA, No. 76 RPI)
4. Richmond (15-12, 8-6 in A-10, No. 121 RPI)
5. ODU (17-14, 11-7 in CAA, No. 122 RPI)

-- RPI numbers from RealTime RPI