Tuesday, October 31, 2006

God Bless John Kerry

If there was still any doubt that the Left in the United States is led by people whose basic ideals are 180 degrees opposed to ideals held dear by the mainstream Americans, John Kerry, the Democrat standard bearer in 2004, removed it with his idiotic remarks about U.S. military personnel.

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq," Kerry said. So, the guys and gals fighting the good fight in Iraq, that all-volunteer force putting lives on the line, and some who have given their life for their country, are a bunch of idiots who didn’t do their homework, study hard and make it, and are failures?

You might expect someone of Kerry’s stature to immediately apologize for insulting 140,000 people from private to four-star general in one fell swoop. But not John Kerry. He, true to form, blames George Bush.

"I apologize to no one for my criticism of the president and his broken policy," Kerry told reporters in a press conference in Seattle. "My statement yesterday, and the White House knows this full-well, was a botched joke about the president and the president's people and not about the troops."

Well, then, Senator, why not do the honorable thing, the right thing, and apologize to the troops you insulted with your botched joke.

On second thought, don’t apologize. Let people see who you really are.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Only choice on war is to win or lose it

There is an excellent article by Mark Steyn in today's Chicago Sun-Times that takes a measured look at the war in Iraq and discusses the issue of winning or losing. The title says it all, and Steyn ably explains his position.

I have posted the first paragraph below, and I hope that serves to pique the interest of readers to read the entire column.

October 29, 2006

BY MARK STEYN Sun-Times Columnist

I was on C-SPAN the other morning, and a lady called in to complain that ''you are making my blood pressure rise.'' Usual reason. The host, Paul Orgel, had asked me what I thought of President Bush and I replied that, whatever my differences with him on this or that, I thought he was one of the most farsighted politicians in Washington. That's to say, he's looking down the line to a world in which a radicalized Islam has exported its pathologies to every corner on Earth, Iran and like-minded states have applied nuclear blackmail to any parties within range, and a dozen or more nutcake basket-case jurisdictions have joined Pyongyang and Tehran as a Nukes R Us one-stop shop for all your terrorist needs. In 2020, no one's going to be worrying about which Congressional page Mark Foley is coming on to. Except Mark Foley, who'll be getting a bit long in the tooth by then. But if it really is, as Democrats say, ''all about the future of our children,'' then our children will want to know why our generation saw what was happening and didn't do anything about it. They will despise us as we despise the political class of the 1930s. And the fact that we passed a great prescription drug plan will be poor consolation when the entire planet is one almighty headache.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I mentioned the other day that I had been invited to submit columns to a Web site, and that I would have more on that subject later. Well, it is now “later,” and I am pleased to say that my first submission has been published on the Spero News Web site.

Thanks to Robert Duncan and the folks at Spero News for their interest in my stuff, and I hope my readers will drop by and check out the site.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Collage

A raging wildfire in California set early yesterday morning by one or more arsonists had within 12 hours blackened more than 10,000 acres, had driven hundreds of people from their homes and had killed four firefighters.

"This is an arson fire" and "constitutes murder," said Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins. Another fire official surmised the arsonist(s) might have set the fire knowing the hot winds would maximize its destructive potential.

Homicide detectives are working alongside FBI agents to find the responsible party or parties, and authorities are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Whoever is responsible for this deserves the death penalty.

I have a birthday coming up—number 39 (that’s my story, and I’m sticking to
it!)—and I have the distinction, if that is the correct term, of being one of those lucky enough to call themselves a “Halloween Baby.”

Yes, that’s right: I was born on October 31.

On Halloween there are basically two choices. As I’m sure all of you will acknowledge, I was a treat.

Please excuse this shameless effort to get some good wishes, and … well, give me a good wish. A gift would be appreciated, too ... a fifth of single malt Scotch, a good cigar, some good music ... you know the drill.

[[[ Edit: I neglected to note that the reason for the pic at the right is the name of the costume, which is, "Little Dead Riding Hood." I thought that was funny! ]]]

What is the obsession among homosexuals and those of the political left that “marriage”—an institution dating back hundreds or thousands of years, and upon which much of Western society is based, and which has traditionally meant the union of one man and one woman—must be redefined to satisfy the hunger of the recent development of proud homosexuality to also be “married?”

I see homosexuality as unnatural; it’s not the way things were intended to be. Even so, people who are “predisposed” to love same-sex partners ought to, in a free and open society such as in the U.S., be free to choose whomever they please as their partner, and if they want a legal relationship with that person, surely a few of the multitudes of lawyers in this country are capable of drawing up a contract that will bind man to man, or woman to woman just as tightly as do the marriage vows a man and a woman take when they tie the ties that bind. Such a contract ought to be able to satisfy the needs of homosexual couples for most/all of the same rights that a spouse has.

Write contracts; leave marriage alone. It is what it is, and that’s that.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Michael J. Fox is someone in the entertainment industry that I like, and there aren’t all that many that fit that description. I liked his Alex P. Keaton character immensely, I liked the “Back to the Future” movies, and I like him. Furthermore, I have great sympathy for him due to his physical condition. I hope that a cure will be found for Parkinson’s Disease. And Alzheimer’s. And cancer. And the other major diseases that wreck the lives of Americans.

However, I dislike Michael using his disease and his celebrity to gain the sympathy of voters, even to the extent of mobilizing people to his own cause, and especially so because of the distortions his ad contains. And I also disapprove of him either not taking his medication so that his physical disabilities are more apparent—a tactic that he has confessed to using when it will do the most good—or acting out the physical characteristics Parkinson’s produces. If your cause is a worthy one, you don’t have to rely on distortions and cheap tricks to convince people.

Democrats are gleefully planning changes in Congressional office buildings early next year as a result of a voter rebellion against those dastardly Republicans in two weeks. That is premature, and maybe even wrong-headed, given that a Democrat sweep November 7 is anything but assured. George Bush predicts Republicans will maintain control of Congress, and he’s not the only one. However, the fact that W thinks Republicans will hold on to Congress is all the Democrats need to go bonkers.

As badly as the Republicans don’t deserve to win the Democrats don’t deserve to win, either. They offer nothing in the way of telling us how they will improve all of the things they say are so bad about our country and its government. And their efforts to paint the Republicans as dishonest, immoral, inhuman, and downright not nice are beginning to lose steam.

Even though things in Iraq are less than desirable, though not as bad as the media would have us believe, working to establish democratic governments in the Middle East is a worthy goal. George Bush is right when he says that freedom is the best weapon with which to fight the terrorist mentality. And he is right when he says that we must win this fight.

Terrorists—the ones that kill themselves in suicide attacks, not the ones that plan the attacks—are miserable people who, because of their wretched existence under the control of tyrannical authoritarians, think killing themselves and others is a good thing. But people who live in the bright light of liberty where they are free to decide for themselves how to live don’t strap on belts of explosives and head for the nearest school or café to murder innocents.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Monday, October 23, 2006

New Site Added to My "Reading List"

A frequent commenter to Observations for the last few months is Nuri, who lives in Spain. I very much value Nuri's friendship, distant as it is, and I appreciate her comments. On a recent visit to her site I noticed that she has a link to Observations, which I did not know.

Nuri's site is called Criaturades, and I encourage everyone to drop by and say hello.

So, Nuri, thank you for linking to my site, and now I have put a link to yours on my list.

The War of the Leaves

Fall is a beautiful time of the year, with all the colored foliage, the crisp, cool air, and all that goes with it. But fall also brings with it the specter or war and all its ugliness.

It was October 14, 2006, the day of the first battle in the War of the Leaves. It is an annual conflict of reasonably large proportions.

Our double lot is fairly large, about two-thirds of an acre, but most of it is wooded, so the yard itself isn’t very large; it takes only about 20 minutes to mow the grass. Even with the weed eating added in it is less than an hour’s work most of the time. So, even though there are dozens of deciduous trees on three sides of our house, and even though those trees produce hundreds of thousands of leaves each year, clearing the yard of leaves each fall shouldn’t be a big challenge. Right?

Well, no.

The man who built and owned this home before we bought it was an engineer. He used his talents to do a couple of good things to the house, including designing and implementing a series of tiers out back behind a rock wall that lines the deck so that the steep hillside won’t slide down onto the deck, but he also selected and planted or installed every conceivable piece of flora and devices to catch and hold leaves after the fall from the trees.

So what should take three or four hours of raking/blowing/vacuuming takes far longer. In the past clearing the thousands of leaves around our humble abode has taken me and the boss 25 to 30 hours of manual and tool-assisted labor. We rake, we use the blower, we use the vacuum, we hand pick leaves out of the numerous plants. The weather is an additional factor, of course. Sometimes it's cold. Sometimes it's wet. And sometimes the wind blows the leaves back where they were before we gathered them into piles. The little good news about this ordeal is that once the leaves are accumulated, instead of having to bag them up we can just rake or blow them into the woods on the downside of the hill. And, there's the exercise element. I suppose all that activity is a good thing.

Incidentally, neither of these photos is of my yard, but the lower photo gives you a good idea of what we face each year.

So it is with not much enthusiasm that I look ahead to the successive battles in the War of the Leaves. I know I have everyone’s sympathy.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Long Dry Spell

It’s been a long dry spell for writing. Of all times to get a block: A few days from an election, and just as I have been invited to contribute to a news and commentary Web site (more on that later). But I think it’s the election, or rather the campaign, that’s to blame. I’m just fed up with the political atmosphere. The vitriol, the distortions, the finger pointing, the name-calling, and the dirty tricks … it’s all just too much.

Being slightly conservative, I am more aware of the crap from the Left, although I know intuitively that the Right does it, too.

Negative campaigning rules the day. Once one candidate employs negative ads, his or her opponent has little choice but to respond in kind. The result is that the American voter is attacked by a barrage of negative ads devoid of discussion of relevant and important issues. Is it any wonder, then, that we have the people we have in elected office?

Perhaps worse than the negative ads is the silly stuff that gets blown completely out of all proportion as if some of it is really relevant. Worse still is that so many Americans fall for it.

Blessedly it will all be over in a little more than two weeks. Then maybe things will settle down. Instead of Democrats and Republicans attacking each other in 435 House districts and in the states where one-third of the Senate seats are being contested, it will just be the usual mindless bashing of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Karl Rove.

Final comment on the election: The Republicans have done nothing to deserve being kept in the majority in the House and Senate, but the Democrats have done nothing to deserve replacing them.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Where's Teddy When We Need Him?

There is great confusion in the land about what it means to be an American. But a hundred years ago, there was no question in President Theodore Roosevelt's mind when he expressed these thoughts on immigrants and being an American:

"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people." -- Theodore Roosevelt 1907

Technorati Tags: , ,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

You never know just what you are going to find on blogs. Here’s something I came across while surfing.

Lightning exits woman’s bottom

October 09, 2006 12:00am
Article from: The Australian

A woman has suffered severe burning to her anus after being struck by lightning which hit her in the mouth and passed right through her body.

Natasha Timarovic, 27, was cleaning her teeth at in her home in the Croatian city of Zadar when lightning struck the building.

She said: “I had just put my mouth under the tap to rinse away the toothpaste when the lightning must have struck the building.

“I don’t remember much after that, but I was later told that the lightning had travelled down the water pipe and struck me on the mouth, passing through my body.

“It was incredibly painful, I felt it pass through my torso and then I don’t remember much at all.” Doctors at the city hospital where she was treated for burns to the mouth and rear said: “The accident is bizarre but not impossible.”

She was wearing rubber bathroom shoes at the time and so instead of earthing through her feet it appears the electricity shot out of her backside,” a medic told local newspaper, 24 Sata.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Journalist's Death Deliberate, Part II

I received a comment on a previous column about the death of British journalist Terry Lloyd in Iraq at the hands of U.S. troops that a British deputy coroner has deemed outright murder.

The comment came from Kashmiri Nomad, a blog friend whose site I visit almost every day. He is a Muslim and I am not, and we regularly disagree on subjects related to Islam. I invite you to visit his site. Nomad’s comment contained a link to a story that he said presented the British perspective on this incident and with which I found problems.

First, let me say unequivocally that the deliberate or careless killing of civilians, particularly journalists there voluntarily doing a job, cannot be tolerated. That is also the position of the U.S. government.

This story contains errors of fact and faulty—perhaps biased—analysis. For example: Yet even if the British government were prepared to put pressure on the Bush administration, it would almost certainly come to nothing. American soldiers who kill civilians through carelessness or brutality in battle receive a remarkable degree of protection from the US authorities.

Should a government not protect its troops; should it not support them? I oppose second-guessing military personnel in the heat of battle, for if we create an atmosphere where before our troops react to defend themselves or their buddies they pause too long to analyze the situation, more of our troops will be injured and killed. In war you sometimes have to react instantly. Sometimes bad things happen.

However, what troubles me most is that there appears to be no awareness by the reporter who wrote the story that there are instances of U.S. troops being disciplined for improper behavior, such as at Abu Ghraib, and there is currently a trial of several soldiers who are charged with the deliberate murder of an Iraqi man and his family. So, the implication that the U.S. allows its military to kill and maim with impunity is demonstrably false.

Other statements also deserve attention.

Both the Pentagon and the Ministry of Defence wanted reporters to be "embedded" with their forces during the invasion. One of the reasons for embedding journalists is so that the military will know where they are, for their own safety. Lloyd’s crew was not embedded, it was on its own, and took a substantial risk in going it alone. Coalition forces do not have to allow journalists access to the fighting at all, but they do so in the interest of letting people know what is going on.

Lloyd was injured in crossfire between Iraqi troops and American tanks outside Basra. He was picked up by a makeshift ambulance. (My emphasis.)

The two cases are very different. We were bombed by accident. Lloyd and his colleagues were killed deliberately. This is an opinion, not proven fact. It was the coroner’s opinion, and it is the reporter’s opinion.

To have fired on them, and to have targeted an ambulance, were contraventions of the Geneva Convention. Remember the earlier reference to a “makeshift ambulance.” The vehicle was not an ambulance. It was not marked as an ambulance; it was a van in which injured were being transported. To charge that this apparent accident was a contravention of the Geneva Conventions is preposterous.

Perhaps because of his own experience the reporter wasn’t objective, in which case the newspaper should not have published his story.

Do I have a bias? Yes. I automatically assume that U.S. troops do not indulge in the murder of innocent civilians, or the unjustifiable killing of the enemy, and I require substantial proof, not unproved allegations, to change my mind.

This example confirms the wisdom of the U.S. government in trusting its military personnel to act properly, even when under fire, and not caving in to the emotional and factually unsubstantiated charges of U.S. critics. Our soldiers, Marines, airman and sailors are, while not infallible, highly trained professionals, who deserve and need our trust and support. To do otherwise would be unconscionable.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, October 14, 2006

US Charged With Deliberately Killing British Journalist

The Associated Press reports the following: "A coroner ruled Friday that U.S. forces unlawfully killed a British television journalist in the opening days of the Iraq war.

"Deputy Coroner Andrew Walker said he would ask the attorney general to take steps to bring to justice those responsible for the death of Terry Lloyd, 50, a veteran reporter for the British television network ITN."

This story is troubling, and for more than the obvious reason. First, it would be wrong for U.S. personnel to deliberately kill a reporter, even in the chaotic and highly emotional conditions of a firefight. But perhaps more importantly, how can a British coroner, who wasn't there, possibly conclude that U.S. personnel purposefully killed Terry Lloyd?

There are important details that need to be added to this story. First, Lloyd and three other ITN crewmembers were covering the fighting on their own; they were not embedded with U.S. or British forces, as most all other journalists were and are. U.S. and British troops undoubtedly know where embedded journalists are at nearly every moment, but journalists who are not embedded can turn up anywhere, and unexpectedly.

The AP: “Witnesses testified during the weeklong inquest that Lloyd - who was driving with fellow ITN reporters from Kuwait toward Basra, Iraq - was shot in the back by Iraqi troops who overtook his car, then died after U.S. fire hit a civilian minivan being used as an ambulance and struck him in the head.”

This is a straightforward statement that likely represents the facts.

The AP: "’Terry Lloyd died following a gunshot wound to the head. The evidence this bullet was fired by the Americans is overwhelming,’ Walker said. ‘There is no doubt that the minibus presented no threat to the American forces. There is no doubt it was an unlawful act of fire.’"

Analyzing these four statements, one and three are difficult to argue with, and the third may be true. The fourth, however, presumes facts not in evidence, and must be viewed with great and justifiable suspicion.

In fact, the AP reported the following later in the story: “The court watched a video Tuesday, filmed by a U.S. serviceman attached to one of the tanks accused of firing at the reporters' cars. The tape opens with images of Lloyd's vehicle and the Iraqi truck burning amid gunfire. The tanks drive to the cars and inspect them. A minivan - possibly the ambulance - appears and more shots are fired. At the end of the tape, a U.S. soldier shouts, ‘It's some media personnel! That's media down there!’" [Emphasis added.]

Clearly I don't have all the evidence, but neither did the coroner. Nevertheless, that scenario strongly implies that the tank personnel, who were actively involved in fighting, did not recognize the approaching vehicle was friendly.

There are many reasons why individual journalists go to war zones. Often, they do so because it is good for their careers. They do with the full knowledge and understanding that danger lurks around every corner. Journalists who go to war zones and work independently of military units put themselves at much higher risk than those who are embedded with military units.

Terry Lloyd’s death is unfortunate, and almost certainly an unfortunate accident, not a deliberate act by the U.S. military. What possible good could the U.S. expect from deliberately killing one or more British journalists? As we mourn Lloyd’s death, we must at the same time acknowledge that he took chances by being in a war zone, and he multiplied those risks by working independently of military unites operating in the area.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Monday, October 09, 2006

It’s the Nukes, Stupid

North Korea’s test.

By Stanley Kurtz
National Review Online

What will it take to wake up the West? Will a nuclear explosion beneath a North Korean mountain be enough? The threat of nuclear terror has been rumbling beneath the surface since 9/11, yet still we’re in denial. Make a deal? President Clinton tried that and failed, accepting a bogus deal, with a porous inspections regime. North Korea flouted the agreement at the first opportunity. Keep negotiating? At this point, the prospect that North Korea is simply positioning itself for negotiations is dim. More likely they’ve given up on the hope of another Clinton-style bonanza (on which they would have simply cheated again), and have decided instead to defy the world, with all the attendant risks. Those risks are huge. If the U.S. and China cooperate now in seriously sanctioning North Korea, the regime could collapse. That would be both welcome and deeply dangerous. On the other hand, if the U.S. and China refuse to cooperate in sanctioning Korea, and break with each other instead, we face yet another sort of destabilizing regional conflict. On top of all this, American interdiction of ships bound for North Korea could lead to war. On the other hand, failure to interdict would reveal the weakness of our position, and would make it that much easier for the North Koreans to smuggle out weapons and nuclear material to terrorists and the rogue regimes of the Middle East. Japan is likely now on course toward a nuclear capability. Japan may also race to gain the capacity for a preemptive missile strike on North Korea’s missile facilities. That in turn could set off a war in which the North launched an artillery barrage against Seoul. Will this put spine into South Korea, or simply send it running further away from the United States?

Korean bombs, missiles, and expertise will sail, fly, run, and walk to the Middle East. Were Saddam still in charge, he would have been first in line at North Korea’s nuclear supermarket. And all the reverberating regional and worldwide consequences of Korea’s nuclear breakout will be replayed, with even more dangerous effect, once Iran gets a bomb of its own. Just as Japan will now arm in preparation for a possible preemptive strike against North Korea, Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia will shortly arm themselves with nuclear weapons against Iran. Sanctions regimes and confrontations on the high seas in East Asia risk escalating to war, as will the proxy terror strikes against the world’s Persian Gulf oil jugular sponsored by a newly nuclear Iran. And as the sheer number of nuclear states increases, it will become impossible to trace the state supplier of a nuclear terror strike. That, in turn, will free up rogue elements in Muslim states to hand off a bomb to al Qaeda or Hezbollah.

The failure to find WMDs in Iraq, the shrieking of America’s doves, and the constraints of international diplomacy have all prevented the Bush administration from speaking honestly and openly to the American people about the true nature of the threat we face. And pretty much everyone else has taken their eyes off the ball. Iraqi WMDs? Not nearly as important as what Saddam could and would have bought and built with the help of North Korea and A. Q. Kahn. Troubles in Iraq? Not nearly as important as the deterrent effect of an America willing to brave 3,000 casualties for the sake of proving our willingness to take down rouge states. Democratization? Important in the long term, but a sideshow compared to the nuclear knife at our throat. A free-spending Republican Congress? Not nearly as important as the danger of an administration paralyzed by a dovish Democratic congress at this moment of grievous danger. Capital Hill sex scandals? Not nearly as important as keeping the Capital and all its pages from being blown sky-high by Osama’s lackeys.

Oh, right. It’s all just a Rovian plot. What will it take to wake this sleeping nation up? It’s the nukes, stupid. It’s the nukes, smarty. It’s the nukes, Mr. President. It’s the nukes, Democrats. It’s the nukes, Republicans. It’s the nukes, Pat Buchanan. It’s the nukes, Michael Moore.... It’s the nukes.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Sunday, October 08, 2006

And now for something completely different

We had a really great meal tonight. I like to go out to eat because you don’t have to do the preparation or the clean up afterward. But in all honesty I have to say that when it comes to good food, we do as well at home as most of the restaurants we have been to. That is almost completely due to my partner, Diane.

One of the smart things I did in my life was to marry Diane. Not only is she a great person and a great mother, but she also has a MA in Home Economics. She is capable in all areas of Home Ec., (sewing, design, etc.) but what really likes and excels at is cooking. Yeah, I know: I am a very lucky guy.

I dabble in cooking, and I am good enough that I can proudly claim that so far everybody who has eaten something that I have cooked has been able to walk out of my house under his or her own power (the effects of adult beverages excluded). Diane, on the other hand, is truly gifted. She understands food and cooking and she has a superior ability to know what tastes good.

Tonight we decided to resurrect an old recipe for herbed baked cheese (Diane’s), which is Havarti flavored with Dijon mustard, dill weed, fennel seed, parsley flakes, basil, and chives, wrapped in puff pastry dough, brushed in egg wash and baked. It is really delicious. We ate that, accompanied by a tasty J. Lohr chardonnay (about $10 a bottle) as we prepared the main meal, which consisted of a atore-bought bag of Asian salad with a sesame dressing (wonderful!); a 2-pound, 4-inch-thick pork roast in a teriyaki marinade cooked on the grill (that’s what I do); and baked acorn squash with a sauce of butter, brown sugar, amaretto and biscotti (really tasty, and another of Diane’s finds, from the TV Food Network).

A lot of the people on Food TV get on my nerves. It’s not what they cook; it’s the way they behave. The acorn squash recipe came from Tyler Florence, who in spite of his sometimes-grating personality frequently has some great recipes. I could spend a lot of time on the people of Food TV that bug me, but that would serve no positive purpose.

The upshot of this column is that we had a great meal that we prepared ourselves, and even the preparation and clean up couldn’t mess that up.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, October 07, 2006

What Do We Do About School Violence?

The recent rash of school violence has everybody upset, and with good reason. Some have commented, in fact, that this type of violence is growing in frequency. When you have three of them in a week, it is easy to accept that assumption. However, I heard a little piece of an interview with an expert on domestic violence this morning (didn’t hear the entire piece, and did not get her name) and she said that actually we are not seeing an increase in violence in schools.

Data show that from school year 99-00 through 05-06 there have been 212 violent deaths in the nations schools, ranging from a low of 16 in one year to a high of 49 in another. That averages about 30 a year. This year so far, 13 of our children have died violent deaths at school, and that includes the most recent tragedy in Nickel Mines, PA. A previous seven-year period averaged nearly 39 deaths per year, which indicates a significant decrease. Nevertheless, there are far too many instances of violent deaths in our schools.

There are various proposals to stem school violence running from posting armed guards in schools and arming school personnel to tighter gun control.

Clearly, something should be done, but what?

What at first blush seems like a sure-fire solution, gun control, isn’t the answer for a couple of reasons, first and foremost because when our forefathers worked out the compromises on the Constitution way back in the 18th Century that inserted the first ten Amendments—the Bill of Rights—into the Constitution, they did so for very practical reasons. In those days nearly everyone owned and often carried guns. They used guns to hunt for food, and they used guns for protection. The colonists could not foresee how times would change, but they assumed that Americans should always have the right to keep and bear arms for their own defense, and they put special language in the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment, to see that the right to keep and bear arms would forever be guaranteed.

The second reason is that the problem isn’t guns; the problem is people who want to harm other people. The solution, then, is to stop people from wanting to harm others, and if that isn’t possible, to find ways to stop the people trying to harm others before they can do it.

Gary Kleck is a Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University, and is a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Independent Action, Democrats 2000, and Common Cause, among other politically liberal organizations. He is a lifelong registered Democrat, as well as a contributor to liberal Democratic candidates. He is not now, nor has he ever been, a member of, or contributor to, the National Rifle Association, Handgun Control, Inc. nor any other advocacy organization, nor has he received funding for research from any such organization.

A Web site entitled “Guns and Self-Defense by Dr. Kleck has some very interesting information, including this:

“The National Self-Defense Survey indicated that there were 2.5 million incidents of defensive gun use per year in the U.S. during the 1988-1993 period. To disarm noncriminals in the hope that this might indirectly help reduce access to guns among criminals is a very high-stakes gamble, and the risks will not be reduced by pretending that crime victims rarely use guns for self-defense.

“Serious predatory criminals perceive a risk from victim gun use that is roughly comparable to that of criminal-justice-system actions, and this perception may influence their criminal behavior in socially desirable ways.”

I don’t favor turning our schools into armed camps or fortresses. However, one way to dissuade some nut from walking into a school and holding a classroom of kids hostage at gun point and killing some of them is to have an environment where everyone knows that they will encounter armed individuals if they bring a weapon—any weapon—into a school with the intent to hurt or kill people. Most of these predators don’t expect to leave the school alive after they have committed their mayhem, but they also don’t expect to encounter resistance before they are able to do their evil deed, because they never have encountered armed resistance.

So, yes, let’s put armed guards in our schools, or let’s train and arm some or most school personnel. The knowledge that if you go down to the local middle school with the intent of killing people you probably won’t get far beyond the front door before somebody stops you or takes you out might give these nuts reason to reconsider their plans.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Funny Story

President Reagan Visits England

On the Fox News Channel last Friday former Secretary of State James Baker recounted a story about a visit to England several years ago when President Ronald Reagan visited with Queen Elizabeth.

As is customary during such visits the Queen and the President were to be photographed together. Since both enjoyed horseback riding it was decided to have a photo op with the two of them riding horses on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The President and the Queen mounted their horses and following the photo session rode off away from photographers.

As they were proceeding down the trail the Queen’s mount began expelling gas in short bursts. In her most proper and typically British style the Queen said, “Oh, Mr. President, I’m so sorry.”

To which President Reagan responded, “Oh, that’s alright your Majesty, I thought it was the horse.”

Technorati Tags: , ,

Friday, October 06, 2006

Democrats Embrace Hypocrisy and Childishness on Foley Issue

Columnist Jonah Goldberg had this to say about the continuing saga of Mark Foley:

It's hard to believe that the Foley/instant message/congressional-page/GOP meltdown story has run for a week. Other than the slaughter in Amish country, is anyone aware of anything else of note in the world that happened the past seven days? Dive deep enough beneath the Foley flotsam and you discover reports that North Korea may be preparing to conduct an underground nuclear test. China and South Korea are at this hour trying to forestall the Hermit Kingdom's nuke test and no doubt could use an expression of support and outrage from the American political establishment. Sorry, they're busy reading Congressman Foley's 1995 email traffic.

Goldberg correctly notes that Democrats focus on the tawdry and irrelevant instead of really important issues. This is representative of three truths about Democrats: First, they have no substantive issues to discuss, so they are pretty much forced to scream and whine about irrelevancies. Second, they act like children on the playground, tattling on their classmates. And third, they are hypocrites. It was the Democrats, after all, who set the standard for how to deal with tawdry sexual misbehavior by Congressmen back in 1983.

Mark Foley had inappropriate communications with underage pages through email, and made unseemly sexually explicit advances to them through instant messages. That’s bad behavior, but tame by comparison to the activities of Congressmen Dan Crane (R-Ill.) and Gerry Studds (D-Mass.), both of whom had actual sexual relations with pages, Crane with a 17-year-old female, and Studds with a 17-year-old male. The way the leadership reacted to these scurrilous activities is illustrative: The two pleaded guilty to House charges and were—are you ready—reprimanded. Reprimanded. Not expelled. Not asked to resign.

Crane apologized for his behavior, but Studds stubbornly refused to apologize, calling it a mere “error in judgment,” and in fact turned his back and ignored the censure being read from the well of the House Chamber. Studds was repeatedly reelected and made chairman of an important House committee, rewarded by the Democrat leadership of the House. By contrast, Foley resigned immediately upon his behavior being made public, reportedly at the urging of the House Republican leadership.

Funny that as serious as we are told by Democrats that Foley’s behavior was, the behavior of Crane and Studds—which no sane person would argue wasn’t far worse than Foley’s—did not produce calls for the resignation of the Speaker of the House at the time, Tip O’Neill. O’Neill was, of course, a Democrat.

So the Democrats can take credit for establishing the way the House deals with Congressmen who are guilty of sexually related misbehavior.

It’s also funny how the Democrats conveniently do not remember their own indiscretions and shortcomings when an opportunity arises to behave like children on a playground, and to distract the attention of the American people from truly important issues toward foolish dalliances.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some Perspective on the Foley Situation

Mark Foley is a troubled man. The Florida Republican Congressman is gay, apparently has an alcohol problem, and is now in the middle of a scandal over indecent proposals with a 16-year-old male House of Representatives page that has lasted a couple of years. Emails came to light last year, but more damning are older and more graphic instant messages that, from what we know right now, were not known of by Republican Congressional leaders until this week.

As bad as what Foley did is, he has done some good things, including his instant resignation from Congress when the news broke, and entering a program to get help. But more importantly, Foley was very active in stewarding through the legislative process and passing child abuse legislation. Despite the incongruence of someone who himself was improperly interacting with children being active in passing laws against the behavior he was involved in, Foley’s efforts still accomplished positive results.

A great deal of outrage is focused on the Republican leadership, namely House Speaker Dennis Hastert, for not having been more aggressive in addressing the Foley matter sooner and more forcefully. Some of the outrage comes from fellow Republicans and conservatives, including The Washington Times, which has called for Hastert to resign.

Child sexual abuse, child rape, child murder are all hot-button issues these days, and rightly so. But this situation has quickly escalated beyond justifiable concern into full-blown hysteria. Some of that hysteria is political, since the mid-term election is a month away. Both Democrats and Republicans are gripped by hysteria, the Democrats trying to take advantage of a good opportunity to make political hay, and Republicans trying to minimize the damage and keep this incident from deconstructing their Congressional majority in both Houses.

There is no defense for what Mark Foley did. However, it is important to keep it in perspective. In 1983 two members of Congress were found to not only have had improper communications with pages, as Foley did, but to actually have had sex with them. Rep. Dan Crane (R-Ill.) and Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) admitted their transgressions, however, those Congressmen did not resign, were not asked to resign, were not prosecuted; they were merely reprimanded.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, as we are frequently reminded, but what happened in 1983—or perhaps more accurately, what did not happen—had a great deal to do with the current situation and how it was handled.

The differences: Foley did not have sex with an under aged page, as did Crane and Studds. Foley resigned, unlike Crane and Studds. Foley may not have committed a crime, unlike Crane and Studds, who certainly did. The Republican leadership did approach Foley about his behavior, ordered him to cease, and he agreed to stop.

Frankly, while this situation is despicable and requires some heavy reform to the Congressional page program, lynching Dennis Hastert is not appropriate, and trying to paint the Republican leadership, or worse, the entire Republican Congressional delegation, or worse yet, the entire Republican Party as somehow unfit to serve is ludicrous, and beneath contempt.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Sunday, October 01, 2006

What's the Truth About Isalm?

The quandary posed by Islam in general and Muslims in particular has become a mild obsession for me. On the one hand I know that Muslim barbarians killed thousands of Americans on 9-11-01, and that there are lots more willing and wanting to do the same thing again. On the other, I want to believe that not all Muslims share the belief that non-Muslims should be converted, killed or subjugated. That belief has thus far been impossible to validate.

The paradox that is Islam is addressed in two pieces published recently.

The first is a column by William F. Buckley, Jr. discussing a book by Mary Habeck, Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror. From Buckley’s column:

"The question of offensive jihad is ... complex and controversial," writes Habeck. "The most widely respected Islamic authorities ... all assume that Muslims have a duty to spread the dominion of Islam, through military offensives, until it rules the world. By the 'dominion of Islam' these authorities did not mean that everyone in the world must convert to Islam, since they also affirmed that 'there is no compulsion in religion,' rather that every part of the Earth must come under Islamic governance and especially the rule of the sharia.

"Azzam's definition of offensive jihad (Azzam is the principal modern theorist of militant Islam) follows this traditional understanding of jihad, noting that it is a duty for the leader of the Muslims 'to assemble and send out an army unit into the land of war once or twice every year.'" The jihadist is obliged to perform with all available capabilities "until there remain only Muslims or people who submit to Islam."

For those who believe—who hope—that there is a moderate, non-violent, peaceful Muslim majority this is troubling stuff.

Some additional perspective on this situation comes from Thomas Lifson, editor and publisher of The American Thinker, in a column titled, The Dark View of Islam and the American Street:

The Muslim street has stepped forward and walked right into the conventions of dramatic villainy. There is a word in the English Language for someone who goes around hurling at others both insults and physical attacks, but who, when subjected to some of his own medicine, cries out in pain, and says that it just isn't fair. The proper word for such a character is a "bully."

The ongoing drama provides two forms of fatal pride.

The first is that of the Islamists. Their own absolute sense of superiority, however much it may be called into question by the realities of the modern technological power of the non-Islamic West, blinds them to any consideration of the reactions of heathens. That fits right in with the bullying role.

Political correctness has cut off a vital source of feedback to both the Islamists and the so-called progressives of the West. They are blind to the realities of the American Street. Gradually, more and more Americans are beginning to entertain the concept that drastic measures may well be necessary to ensure our survival. It is only a half-thought position, outside of the circle of passionate advocates who write on the web or occasionally break into media notice on talk radio or a cable news channel. But it is part of a growing acceptance that we might need to go a bit Roman, or at least contemplate the exact mechanisms which brought an end to World War II, our most recent war fought against an existential threat.

America is generally slow to awaken to danger, but once roused it is a fierce fighter. A few voices are warning our potential foes. But they are not listening.

Those of us who do not want to see a convulsive death struggle play out on the world stage, who want to see the drama go from a tragedy to a farce, have our work cut out.

If Islam does not universally subscribe to the idea that “Muslims have a duty to spread the dominion of Islam, through military offensives, until it rules the world,” it is doing a poor job of telling the world. And until it does, we have no choice but to believe otherwise.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Politics and the “N” Word: The Politics of the “N” Word

In this upside-down world we live in what one said or did 30 years ago is often more important than what one said or did yesterday. We have a way of obscuring important things with trivialities, blowing them up to resemble real issues when in fact they are meaningless.

Case in point: The Senatorial race in Virginia between Republican incumbent George Allen and Democrat challenger James Webb. There are other issues, but the one that seems to be the most prevalent is if and when either or both candidates said the “N” word.

The “N” word is an interesting cultural phenomenon. Hardly anything short of murder or rape or raising gasoline prices is a more serious transgression than saying, or having said, the “N” word. Certainly, such terms should be avoided as a matter of good manners, and now that the “N” word has become the subject of such broad and deep public disapproval you risk your life if you say it. But it can’t hurt to gain a little perspective about that word and it’s place in the American lexicon.

The term has been around since the days of the Revolutionary War. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary: “The Spanish word negro originates from the Latin word niger, meaning black. In English, negro or neger became negar and finally nigger, most likely under influence of French nègre.” So, it’s not the derivation of the word that is a problem; it’s the application of the word as a pejorative term. However, the “N” word has not always been a racial slur, as is the common perception.

As a youngster growing up in southern West Virginia in the late 40s, 50s and early 60s, the “N” word was not an uncommon one. And, yes, its use was often derogatory, but not always, and perhaps not even most of the time. It was a common term for blacks that was common enough that no one thought much about it.

It wasn’t a word I used often, or that most people that I knew used often. But it was a fairly common word. I used it in a negative way to describe blacks that exhibited certain unacceptable behavior, in the same way that I used the term “white trash” to describe white people who behaved in an unacceptable way. Using the “N” word then didn’t make me a racist then, and using it 40 years ago doesn’t make me a racist now.

Neither does it make George Allen or James Webb racists. Even calling a guy from the opposition campaign “macaca” doesn't make George Allen a racist. It means that he was thoughtless, perhaps, but not a racist.

We’ve got to grow up and stop focusing on trivial things, trying to brand someone for all time over something they did in their youth. There is a lot of time, energy and emotion wasted on such absurdities, all of which could be far better utilized on things that really matter.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,