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Bars and stripes/Mark Jalkanen

May 11, 2010
By Mark Jalkanen/DMG Web Columnist

Deadly shooting at strip club.

Check.

Arrive late to hearing with commissioner regarding suspension.

Check.

Offer excuse that you lost track of time while at strip club.

Check.

Become member of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Check.

Rainmaker Pacman Jones, with a statutory resume that makes him eligible for a police blotter lifetime achievement award, became the latest in a long line of righteous fellows to sign with the Bengals and as a result we are trying to confirm a report that warden Hazen (Eddie Albert) is acting as the general manager in Cincy and that Paul Crewe (Burt Reynolds) will be challenging Carson Palmer for the starting quarterback position.

In the past when people conjured up a mental image of an inmate it would include an orange jump suit or a black and white striped outfit (or denim blue if it is Cool Hand Luke), now the image is of a team's uniform that, coincidentally or not, is an amalgamation of the lockup variety with institutional orange accented with black stripes.

In their transformation into the NFL's version of the big house, the Bengals have reversed the "take no prisoners" approach and are now taking all prisoners. And for those who believe that we exaggerate for effect (and we often do) consider the following roster of rapscallions and dirty deeds.

Note: Please add liberal doses of the word "allegedly" where applicable since had we done so it would have doubled the length of this piece. Also, it should be done so we don't offend the guilty.

Our journey begins five years ago in the year of our crime 2006 when eight Bengals were arrested, including Reggie McNeal for a ho-hum drug possession charge with the resisting arrest twist, Matthias Askew who also resisted the law but was given a dose of Taser for his stunning behavior, Eric Steinbach who jumped behind the wheel, err oars, of a boat after a few too many Cutty Sarks, and Frostee Rucker, who may or may not have been named after the Indian ice cream company, for beating up his girlfriend (abuse) and her Blackberry (vandalism) at a party he was hosting.

A year later A.J. Nicholson garnered the honor of being the first Bengal arrested in the post-Goodell behavioral clampdown era but that shouldn't have come as a surprise since Nicholson was also one of the eight arrested in 2006 when he was nabbed for stealing electronic equipment from a college teammate's apartment. The fact that he was drafted by the Bengals a month after the first arrest shows that the team clearly saw him as someone who could bond with, as well as steal from (Tatum Bell revisited), his teammates.

The undisputed MVP of the Cincy arrest-a-thon was Chris Henry (who died in a domestic dispute last December) who managed to tally four incarcerations in only six months of '06, including such transgressions as speeding, providing alcohol to underage females (what possible motivation could there be for this crime?), and weed possession, before finally getting serious and graduating to aggravated assault with a firearm.

After another arrest in April 2008 pushed Henry's ever-increasing total closer to double digits, the Bengals couldn't stand the negative publicity and finally cut him. However, in August of that same year the front office came to the realization that Henry was actually the crown jewel in the Queen City's attempt at becoming a penal colony, so they re-signed him (for those keeping track he didn't miss a paycheck).

Odell Thurman was already a member of the substance abuse crowd when he was pulled over for providing undesignated driver services. In a touching moment of brothers banding together, the aforementioned McNeal and Henry were the passengers in the vehicle, forming a triumvirate of honor that had to make the organization proud.

After Deltha O'Neil became the eighth arrest, coach Marvin Lewis said (December 2006), "It's an embarrassment to our organization, to our city, and to our fans. These things socially are not right. Hopefully this is a positive so our young people who are fans understand there are certain things in our society that are unacceptable. It doesn't matter what you do for a living or who you are, you've got to follow those rules and laws."

Lip service.

Since his hollow statement the team has actually stepped up their efforts to field a team that can finally beat the guards.

In the recently concluded draft, the roster was bolstered by the likes of Carlos Dunlap, who was arrested in December 2009 and suspended for the SEC Championship game, and Dezmon Briscoe, who was arrested for stealing stuff from Walmart (aka The Nut) because there must not have been any stores with quality merchandise in the area.

In the 2009 draft the malfeasance-loving team took Bernard Scott, who had been kicked off of his high school team for being part of a mass beating and dismissed from the Central Arkansas college team for hitting his coach, and Rey Maualuga, who managed to earn his stripes and orange with an arrest before his first year with the team was complete.

This offseason featured the addition of multiple offender and powder fan Matt Jones to the team with Cedric Benson, who was arrested twice in early 2008 including one charge for boating like Steinbach and added to the roster, you guessed it, that same year.

Throw in the likes of the appropriately named Tank Johnson (multiple handgun charges, assaulting a police officer, unlicensed assault rifles), Mike Doss (discharging a weapon in an Akron nightclub), Kyries Hebert (assault with a deadly weapon and evading arrest), Johnathan Joseph (pot), and Jason Shirley (hit-and-run), and you have some citizen-of-the-year candidates that have made their way in and out of Cincinnati over the last five years, to go with Quincy Wilson who added a unique disorderly conduct arrest to the team tally when he, as well as the bride, groom, and 11 others, were part of a wedding reception gone bad.

Note: We're sorry we missed the nuptials because it sounds like it was quite a party at the penitentiary.

Even players who were once upstanding community members succumb to the pressure to see their names on the blotter even if they are no longer with the team. In April, former Bengal RB Chris Perry got into a fist fight with a family member and was arrested in his grandmother's home (insert your own holiday joke here) and, not to be outdone, just this month former Cincy RB Corey Dillon was taken into custody for assaulting his wife, providing further evidence that the while the player may be retired, the criminal is still gainfully employed.

While the crack research staff has done their best to find all of the offenders in the Bengal legal system over the past five years, due to the sheer volume there may have been a few who slipped through the bars. However, the bottom line is that most folks would not allow the Bengals to babysit their children. In fact, it may be advisable for commissioner Goodell to open a permanent appeals branch for the NFL conduct policy in Cincinnati because there are gangs on the streets of our nation's most unstable neighborhoods that boast fewer past, present, and potential criminals, than the Bengals.

The time has come for Mike Brown and the leaders in Cincinnati to discontinue working under the assumption (you/me) that a leopard can change its spots because with history as our guide it is clear that these Bengals haven't changed their stripes.

Hypocritical disclosure: We would note that some members of the crack staff at one time or another may have also committed some of the lesser crimes mentioned above.

PEEVE OF THE WEEK

A trillion here a trillion there.

Our brains were overwhelmed (it doesn't take much) by the amount of news that happened since we foisted our last diatribe on the innocent readers of this space and that made the task of peeving a bit more challenging.

Do we focus on the Gulf, Greece, the stock market, Times Square, Arizona immigration, or the much-ignored story of Nashville morphing into Atlantis?

We decided to focus on the potential of the U.S. becoming a financial Atlantis due to a looming Greek-like debt crisis.

Sure, we will probably not face a similar situation to Greece but there is no denying that we are moving in that direction rather than in the fiscally palatable and responsible alternative. In fact, over the past decade (and projected for the next decade) we have floored the accelerator in our attempt to become the national version of Thelma and Louise as we race toward the debt cliff.

Forget too big to fail, how about too big to continue?

The fact that Congress is in the process of drafting sweeping new financial regulation for those greedy Wall Streeters who brought us to the brink of a financial meltdown is ironic. The folks in D.C. are the ones who are in charge of the balance sheet with the greatest potential for fiscal Armageddon and they should be looking in the mirror because unlike the banks and Greece there won't be anybody able around to bail out the United States if we fail.

Last week on CNBC, Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of the world's largest bond fund (Pimco), said that he had been reading the Peeve for over a year now and agreed with us that the U.S. needs to address our mounting fiscal problems.

"We are not Greece. We have more time. But what the Greek crisis tells you is debt and deficits matter. The structure of your deficits matter and the U.S. doesn't have much flexibility."

He then added, "Don't underestimate how quickly this can happen. There are structural headwinds out there and we better get our act together before those structural headwinds become overwhelming."

For those that don't speak headwinds he is referring to the $13+ trillion debt, $10+ trillion in unfunded Social Security liabilities, the $30+ trillion in unfunded Medicare liabilities, and the $1+ trillion annual deficit projected to last for the next decade.

Those numbers are too large to comprehend but if you total the above obligations and divide by 300 million (the total population of the U.S.) it amounts to somewhere in the neighborhood of $220,000 for every citizen (hey honey, our household share is only $660,000!). If the banks were managed like that all of the white collars on Wall Street would be dressing like Bengals and doing hard labor, but in D.C. it is largely overlooked and seemingly considered responsible fiscal management.

Hopefully the failure of the Greek social welfare state can provide us with a sound example of what not to (continue to) do. Will the media scream that the cradle-to-grave nanny state system is irreparably broken and doomed to fail in the same fashion they derided those greedy capitalist pigs and fat cats and hailed the financial collapse as the end of free market capitalism? They should, but they won't.

Will Michael Moore make a love story about pseudo-capitalist countries with overt socialist tendencies that continue spend more than they take in? We're not holding our breath.

Will our leaders do something to change the course of the Titanic government heading for the iceberg? Not likely, in fact, expect the discussions about cutting spending and raising taxes (on everyone, not just those evil rich folks) to be left for a future date that never arrives.

We found it odd to see the Greek public protesting because the Greek government had to make dramatic moves to pay for the money it had already spent on the Greek public (but borrowed from the public of other nations). Perhaps they should have been protesting when their faux leaders were maxing out the credit card and making financial promises that they couldn't keep. Nah, what fun would that have been.

The bottom line is that the Greek government ruined Greece and the Greek public allowed, even encouraged, it to happen.

The lesson that we should have learned is that we should be protesting as our faux leaders max out the card but instead we are, like the Greeks, allowing/encouraging it to happen. This is troubling, and in light of recent events that have illuminated the precarious path to financial ruin, the need for substantive change has never been more obvious.

Consider that there are just over 11 million people in Greece and the government needs $140 billion in aid just to avoid defaulting on its loans. That amounts to a loan of approximately $11,000 for every Greek citizen just to stay afloat.

So the Greeks are asking taxpayers from other teetering states to prop up their failed social state bringing up the obvious question; who's next? Portugal? Italy? Ireland? Spain? Or perhaps one of the more spendy state governments such as California, New York, or New Jersey.

The $1 trillion bailout known as TARP, the nearly $1 trillion stimulus which was a essentially a bailout of the states, and the $1 trillion bailout announced on Monday for the European Union, are simply expensive short term solutions to long term issues. We need real leadership and real solutions and we need it now.

Unfortunately, we doubt such leadership exists, and if it does we doubt the public would be willing to stop reaping the immediate benefits of credit card spending while taking on the pain of making payments for the purchases made in previous decades.

When it hits the fan expect the reaction of the public in the U.S. to resemble the public of Greece. The problem is that we saw it coming but chose to do nothing. That is a tragedy only a Greek could love.

INDISCRIMINATE MUSINGS

The nickname Queen City comes from Ed. B. Cooke who in 1819 wrote in the Inquisitor and Cincinnati Advertiser that "The city is, indeed, justly style the fair Queen of the West: distinguished for order, enterprise, public spirit, and liberality, she stands the wonder of an admiring world."

The nickname was further popularized in the 1854 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem Catawba Wine.

It is estimated that over 50,000 convicts were sent to colonial America from Britain in the 18th century and after the American Revolution closed the door, another 50,000 were sent to Australia.

There is no word on how many of those folks eventually made it to Cincinnati.

On May 6 we happened to be watching CNBC during the mid-afternoon hours and witnessed an astonishing and frightening moment in stock market history as the Dow dropped 700 points in a matter of 15 minutes (from down 300 to down nearly 1,000) and then rallied 600 points over the next 20 minutes. The first 15 minutes could be considered tame if world governments don't get their fiscal houses in order. The last 20 minutes could be the future if they do.

In three days (Tuesday through Thursday) last week, the market price (not retail) of gasoline dropped by over 30 cents. Barring a major reversal you should wait to fill the tank. As a reference point, on Friday a local station where the Musings crowd fills (but shall remain nameless due to the fact that they don't sponsor our efforts) had the price at $2.99 per gallon.

The Minnesota legislature did not pass any funding measure for a new Vikings stadium.

Related: The L.A. Vikings are making plans to have quarterback Brett Favre lead the team onto the field for their initial game on September 9, 2011.

"I've passed every drug test out there. I'm not that kind of guy." That was Brian Cushing a year ago, the same Cushing who became the latest player to be suspended for not taking steroids.

The World Cup starts in less than a month! June should be fun.

There were many who were offended when the news broke that Miami GM Jeff Ireland, during a pre-draft interview, asked Dez Bryant if his mother was a prostitute. Conflicting reports note that he initially asked what his father did and Dez responded that he was a pimp. The next question was "what does your mother do?" and the answer was that she worked for Dez's dad. So, assuming she wasn't an accountant and doing an audit of the family business, the prostitute question would seem to make some sense. However, we can see how some sensitive folks may have been offended, just not us.

The fact is she is a drug dealer and not a prostitute. She was arrested last year for selling crack to police informants and also spent 18 months in prison for a similar offense a decade ago.

So if Dez had simply said, "No she's not a prostitute, she's a crack dealer," the story could have ended there and we would have avoided offending the easily offendable nation.

Related: We are trying to confirm a report that the Bengals are attempting to sign Dez's mom.

LeBron James requested three MRI tests on his elbow in the span of a week. We may have finally found the source of soaring health care costs.

The Tour De France starts in just under two months! Same with July.

If we could start our government over from scratch, tabula rasa, how much different (better) would it be?

Perhaps we should use that utopian vision and start moving in another direction.

Did anyone notice that the IMF (International Monetary Fund) is participating in the European bailout?

Does anyone realize that the U.S. taxpayer is responsible for about 20 percent of the funds disseminated by that organization?

The obfuscated fact is that your tax dollars are now bailing out Greece/Europe.

Good thing we're in such sound fiscal shape or this wouldn't be politically palatable.

Did anyone see the MSNBC show titled "Debating the Black Agenda" (we didn't)?

Still waiting for a debate on the American agenda.

Or the Cablinasian agenda.

Big Ben could be King in the Queen City.

Pope Benedict XVI has officially forgiven the Beatles for John Lennon's remark that the band was bigger than Jesus. Wonder how he feels about Michael Jackson.

We turned the calendar to May so fans in KC and other small markets can officially consider baseball season to be over.

BP is attempting to put a large dome over the broken well head to cure the problem. We would proceed with caution since putting domes over the Lions has not proven to be an effective solution.

Oh yeah, those domes over the heads our elected officials should be changed to something more representative. Perhaps a dunce cap.

Five races into the Formula One season and four different drivers have won races and seven guys are within 21 points of the championship lead heading into the famed Monaco Grand Prix next weekend.

Lawrence Taylor is expected (by us) to be named new linebacker coach for the Bengals.

Hope everyone had a great Cinco de Mayo.

Related: To avoid profiling with regard to the Arizona immigration law, why don't law enforcement officials simply ask everyone that is detained for proof of citizenship? If that is too burdensome then ask every fifth or tenth person in an entirely random chance event like airport security or the lottery.

If our leaders were truly serious about stemming illegal immigration, they could simply make it a felony to hire illegal workers. How many business owners would risk jail time?

Combine that law with a defined process for citizenship, guest worker visas, and a secure border, and there is little doubt this issue would disappear.

Much like restoring sanity to our nation's balance sheet our leaders make the easy choice of simply avoiding to make difficult decisions because, even though it makes sense, causing any pain for the electorate costs votes.

An immigration aside: We here at Musings enjoy paying rock bottom prices for fresh produce when the ambient temp outside is 13 degrees and we are sitting under 78 inches of snow.

If San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez wants to boycott the 2011 All Star game in Arizona because of his strong belief that the Arizona law is "immoral," he should sit out all games in Arizona otherwise his convictions are suspect.

Still hoping the Big Ten adds Notre Dame. The money is best in the conference that is the best. Consider that Big East football TV contracts generate $8 million per school, Big 12 up to $12 million, SEC about $17 million, and the conference of eleven $22 million.

When we first heard about the components of the bomb that was nearly detonated in Times Square, we ran out to our garage to do a quick inventory. Two tanks of propane, check, three gasoline cans, check, fertilizer, check. Whew, we may have been no fly candidates if that stuff had gotten into the wrong hands and had been traced back to our abode in Dodgeville.

In not so shocking news, a Phillies fan was Tasered last week.

For further proof that golf may finally be joining the rest of the sports world (why not allow cheering and heckling during swings?) a golf fan was also Tasered last week.

Happy Gilmore would be proud.

Gotta go, it's time to stop the cats from drinking all of the ouzo.

 
 

 

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