Monday, January 29, 2007
Scenario: A home in a nearby neighborhood was vandalized the other night, and a significant amount of damage was done to the property. Things like this are uncommon in our little burg, and residents pride themselves in its reputation as a safe place to live. Witnesses said they saw a group of five men/boys on foot high-tailing it away from the scene and getting in an SUV, but didn't get a good enough look at any of them to give a description. All were dressed in typical teen garb, all were white, varying in size.
Police have been actively searching for clues and aggressively investigating this crime. They have begun stopping and questioning young white males, either in groups or alone, in the area around the crime scene. Parents of the boys who have been stopped and questioned are outraged that their sons have been targeted with no more evidence than that they bore a resemblance to the kids spotted near the crime scene. The police have now decided to stop everyone in the vicinity of the crime, whether male or female, white or black or Asian or whatever, dressed in teen clothing or adult attire or whatever, to avoid being accused of profiling and unfairly targeting young boys.
Police admit that by widening their questioning to people that do not fit the profile they will be talking to far more people than before, and that will take more time and make it more difficult to find the culprits, and that more of the people they talk to will not be the perpetrators, but they say in the interest of fairness they will not focus on people who are the more likely vandals because it would be unfair to innocent people who resemble the vandals.
Is this a great country, or what?
I am continually amazed by the reaction of certain groups among us at "profiling," whether racial or ethnic or national. Various "rights groups" bristle at being singled out at airports, or questioned about crimes, even though someone who resembles them is the person most likely to have committed the crime in question or to be prepared to blow up an airplane or building. They are more concerned with their feelings being hurt than with criminals being caught or terrorists being stopped before they kill and maim, and a whole bunch of the rest of us somehow agrees with them.
But here's something they and we had better think about: If there is another significant terrorist attack inside the United States, the loss of freedom these folk imagine they have experienced through profiling will pale in comparison to the actual freedom we all will lose when our government will have been given a reason to get really tough on rooting out terrorists before they strike us. Millions of Americans will support that effort, and then it will not only be uncomfortable for everybody, but the level of fear will have grown immensely.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Weird Stuff in the Public Schools
A couple of things in the news recently make me wonder what is wrong with people. Oddly enough, they both occurred in the public schools.
The first has to do with a “growing crisis of violence” in public schools. Now, violence in schools must be squashed as soon as some trend appears. However, this story had to do with kids using cell phones to foster fights and other violent situations on school grounds. Here’s an example: Two guys get into an argument, and friends of one or both get on their cell phones and call for reinforcements, and the next thing you know, you’ve got a small (or not-so-small) riot on your hands. Should school officials be concerned? Obviously.
But the solution is not hard to figure out: Forbid the use of cell phones on campus. There is no inherent right of students to be able to use cell phones at school, and if they cause problems, ban them. Since school system officials have not only the right, but also the duty to provide an atmosphere conducive to learning, they can set the ground rules for school property, including dress codes, parking permits and cell phone use. Anyone caught with a phone on school property, or using it inappropriately, forfeits the phone.
A story in today’s local paper dealt with the increased frequency of computer/text messaging shorthand in class work. Kids have developed a series of abbreviations to speed writing messages and ease the task for lazy communicators. If you have ever spent much time reading these messages, you’ll notice the almost total lack of capital letters, and surprisingly little punctuation. These habits have found their way into class work, and the teacher in the Florida school that was the subject of the news story lamented her plight in trying to cope with this new and negative trend.
Once again, we have a molehill that has been allowed to become a mountain. Class discussion must demand proper spelling, punctuation and correct composition, and if students fail to write right, they fail the class.
When I was in school neither of these “problems” would have had a long life. They would have been taken care of shortly after they appeared. Whether the current education system can handle this in the present permissive and litigious society we now have is another question.
But this is really a simple matter: Are either of these situations acceptable? If the answer is “no,”—and it is “no”—then just fix them. Education is a privilege, not a right, and the fact that kids are required to attend school until they are 16 (or whatever age it happens to be in your state) does not change that. Kids will go to school under the terms set forth by the state education department and the school system, or they will be expelled or placed in an alternative environment.
It just isn’t a difficult proposition. All we have to do is to set high standards and insist on them being met.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
The Associated Press reports that Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry is prancing around the world bashing his country and his country’s president again. That really is no surprise; Mr. Kerry has a long record of advertising his poor judgment and indulging in juvenile bad mouthing of various aspects of his country, among which is the same military he conned out of two or three medals while in Vietnam. It is this characteristic that worked so heavily against him in the 2004 election. How else to explain how someone as dumb and unpopular as George Bush could have beaten an elitist as suave, debonair and cavalier as the husband of the Heintz Ketchup heiress? And it is that characteristic that would have sunk a 2008 bid for the presidency, too; the American people are too smart to elect a classless act like John Kerry, even if the people of Massachusetts are not.
As if to underscore his disconnection from reality, Mr. Kerry in Switzerland recently said, “When we walk away from global warming, Kyoto, when we are irresponsibly slow in moving toward AIDS in Africa, when we don’t advance and live up to our own rhetoric and standards, we set a terrible message of duplicity and hypocrisy.” Well, two things John Kerry knows well are duplicity and hypocrisy. The Kyoto agreement was a disaster for America, and while Mr. Kerry is unable to recognize that, thankfully, Mr. Bush did. (A post is coming on that subject soon.)
Anyone smart enough to lose a presidential election to George Bush, a man Mr. Kerry fanaticizes he is superior to, is smart enough to cherry-pick issues to find room for criticism of just about anybody, and John Kerry certainly fits that description. Still smarting from his pitiful campaign in ’04, the Senator resorts to petulant foot stomping. Now, foot stomping is an acceptable form of protest for folks with the high pedigree of John Kerry, but you shouldn’t stomp and whine in someone else’s house; you do that in the privacy of your bedroom, lest you show the world your backside. (That’s another area of expertise for Mr. Kerry.)
Mr. Kerry thinks the government needs to use diplomacy to improve national security. “We need to do a better job of protecting our interests, because after all, that’s what diplomacy is about,” he said. Right-O John. When Islamic terrorists are at your door, talk to them. President Kerry? God forbid.
It’s difficult to pick one of Mr. Kerry’s comments as the most inane, but perhaps this one takes the prize: “But you have to do it in a context of the reality, not your lens but the reality of those other cultures and histories.” He thinks Americans have an “unfortunate habit” of seeing the world “exclusively through an American lens.” Every good American believes we ought to abandon our American perspective in favor of someone else’s, right? Perhaps France’s, Monsieur Kerry? What an arrogant ass!
I am on the verge of suggesting that John Kerry stay in Switzerland, but then I don’t have any reason to wish that on the Swiss.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Thoughts on the Unknowable
Many years ago I had an interest in astronomy. I read magazines such as Omni, and Sky and Telescope; the heavens and the pictures and descriptions of those extraterrestrial bodies that scientists had studied and written about fascinated me.
I bought a 4.5-inch reflector and began to look around for myself, but of course such a small telescope severely limited what I could see. I began reading more about the universe and theories of its origin. I read books on anthropology and cosmology, wondering about the origins of life and of man. They were fascinating, profound subjects.
Through that search for knowledge I accepted the Big Bang theory as the explanation for how it all began and the theory of evolution for the origins of life.
As a youngster I attended a Presbyterian church, and at church I heard that version of the origin of the universe and of life.
Many people today see religious explanations as fairy tales, lacking in hard evidence. And, of course, the key to every religion is faith, faith in the spiritual center of that belief system. These folks embrace the scientific explanation of our origin.
For my part, I don’t see the Biblical story and the scientific story as mutually exclusive; believing one does not negate the other. I believe they fit very nicely together: Neither is absolutely provable; both require faith from their adherents.
“What’s that?” you say. Yes, it’s true: Darwin’s theory is not a seamless story; it has gaping holes in it that scientists have thus far been unable to fill with provable data. You may have heard the term, “the missing link?” Well, there are a few of them in the story of evolution, and lacking proof to fill in the gaps, to provide the links, it is faith that enables one to accept evolution as real and true. How, then, is evolution substantially different from religious belief?
Professor G.R. Kerkut has written that “[i]t is therefore a matter of faith on the part of the biologist that biogenesis did occur and he can choose whatever method of biogenesis happens to suit him personally; the evidence for what did happen is not available.”
The reality is that it takes no more faith to believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth than it does to believe that creation occurred as a sort of magnificent accident. This concept is expressed eloquently by Harrison Matthews, FRS, in the book Intro to Darwin’s “The Origin of the Species,” who wrote, “The fact of evolution is the back bone of biology, and biology is thus in the peculiar position of being a science founded on an unproved theory—is it then a science or a faith? … Belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly parallel to belief in special creation—both are concepts which believers know to be true but neither, up to the present, has been capable of proof.”
Most evolutionists will not be persuaded by my effort to point out the flaw in their theory, and will continue to believe that the wonders of the universe just happened, just because an improbable group of factors came together at just the right time in just the right circumstances producing the Big Bang and starting a chain of events which brought us to the here and now. And religious folks will continue to have faith that their theory is correct, that an omnipotent being willed the creation of the universe and all it contains.
However, regardless which camp you reside in, regardless of how avidly you believe what you believe, you have a thorny question to deal with.
For scientists, the question is: Where did all the matter released in the Big Bang come from?
For the religious, the question is: Where did God come from?
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Iraq From the Inside
I have written before of the pitiful job the American media—indeed, the international media—have done in reporting accurately what is going on in Iraq. Trite phrases such as, “if it bleeds, it leads,” are offered up to explain the abysmal job American newspapers and networks have done in reporting the goings-on in Iraq, as if the media is hypnotized and unable to report anything other than spilled blood and death. Having been indoctrinated by the media’s steady diet of negativity from Iraq, otherwise sensible people don’t believe that good things are happening there. After all, how much good can be going on when they almost never hear any of it. But our journalists—those supposed purveyors of truth, accuracy, fairness and balance—are concealing much good news and many reasons if not to be hopeful, then not to despair.
The following excerpt is one commentator’s take on Iraq from the inside, embedded with U.S. Army troops at Forward Operating Base Justice in northern Baghdad. It is just one perspective, and of course it doesn’t reflect the entirety of the situation in Iraq, but it certainly is worth a few minutes of your time, unless you are a closed-minded ideologue satisfied with the biased view from the media. The writer is Michelle Malkin:
I came to Iraq a darkening pessimist about the war, due in large part to my doubts about the compatibility of Islam and Western-style democracy, but also as a result of the steady, sensational diet of "grim milestone" and "daily IED count" media coverage that aids the insurgency.
I left Iraq with unexpected hope and resolve.
The everyday bravery and consummate professionalism of the troops I embedded with have strengthened my faith in the U.S. military. These soldiers are well aware of the history, culture and sectarian strife that have wracked the Muslim world for more than a millennium. "They love death," one gunner muttered as we heard explosions in the distance while parked in al Adil. Nevertheless, these troops are willing to put their lives on the line to bring security to Iraq, one neighborhood at a time.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Regular readers and other friends will remember my high opinion of the writings of Wesley Pruden. He has both a gift with words and strong insight.
I strongly recommend that everyone read the following piece. I don't mean run your eyes across the lines, half paying attention, half day dreaming or thinking about something else. I mean read the piece and think about what you've read.
By Wesley Pruden
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published January 16, 2007
The rap on George W. Bush is that he can't make a rousing speech like Winston Churchill, and indeed he can't. But who can? Not Hillary, not "the husband of," not John McCain or Rudy Giuliani, or even Barack Obama, worthies all.
Churchill marshaled the language and sent it off to World War II. He was sui generis, one of a kind, an orator who played rhetoric like Babe Ruth hit home runs and Brooks Robinson played third base. But Churchill, the electrifier of frightened audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, had an advantage that neither George W. nor the pretenders do. He had an audience wired to be electrified.
The earlier generations were more serious, more grown-up, more willing to look threats of death and doom squarely in the eye. They took Hitler at his word. Churchill's challenge, to resist Nazi evil no matter how dear the price or heavy the burden, was eagerly assumed even though the prime minister had "nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." When Herr Hitler boasted that he would wring England's neck like a chicken, Churchill mocked him: "Some neck, some chicken." An exchange like that between George W. and Osama bin Laden or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would invite hoots and catcalls from defiant Democrats and fearful Republicans, and probably a derisive skit on "Saturday Night Live." Being a real chicken is less demanding than resisting evil.
Churchill used metaphors like weapons of mass destruction. Death by metaphor was often the fate of a parliamentary nemesis in the black years leading inexorably toward World War II. In one memorable exchange with Ramsay MacDonald, a Labor Party prime minister, Churchill, then a mere member of Parliament, recalled his disappointment as a boy at the circus not being allowed to see a sideshow freak born with arms, legs and spine like spaghetti, called "the Boneless Wonder."
"My parents judged that the spectacle would be too demoralizing and revolting for my youthful eye," he recalled, fixing a contemptuous gaze on his rival. "I have waited 50 years to see the Boneless Wonder."
He was born only too soon. If he were in Washington now we could show him lots of boneless wonders, as Bill Kristol observes in the Weekly Standard. "Today, Boneless Wonders sit on the benches of both parties in Congress. More are to be found on the Democratic side of the aisle than the Republican. But the herd of Boneless Wonders is a bipartisan ."
The Boneless Wonders and their cousins, the Bone Heads proudly liken their opposition to war in Iraq to opposition to the war in Vietnam a generation ago. But the '60's anti-war crowd opposed the war because they reckoned America had no stake in what happened in Southeast Asia. The anti-war crowd now recognizes that something's at stake in Iraq, but demands an alternative to how George W. Bush is dealing with it. Just what this might be, no one offers a clue. "I'm not the president," says Harry Reid, the leader of the fragile Democratic majority in the Senate. "It is the president's obligation to set policy."
And so it is. No one, not even the president, is certain sure that his "new way forward" is a guarantee of success. But no one has come up with anything better, or in fact with anything at all. "I think going into Iraq was a mistake," a friendly Muslim ambassador said to me this week. "But an American withdrawal now would be a disaster."
There's obvious glee among the president's critics that his war has gone sour. Joe Biden wants to codify glee with a Senate resolution to "demonstrate to the president that he's on his own." On his own? If events since September 11 have taught anything it's that we all, even Joe Biden, have a stake in the war against violent Islam.
"You ask what is our aim?" Winston Churchill told his critics in the spring of 1940, when civilization teetered in the balance. "I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror, however long or hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival."
Monday, January 15, 2007
Border Patrol Agents Going to Prison for Doing Their Job - Part II
A while back I posted a piece titled Travesty about two Border Patrol agents sentenced to jail for chasing and wounding an illegal immigrant smuggling drugs into the country. Below is another account from WorldNetDaily that contains more detail on the situation.
This story is so absurd that it bears another look. I am almost ashamed to call myself an American when we do things like this. The Travesty post contains contact information to protest the treatment of these agents.
Border Patrol agents sentenced to prison
11-12 years for shooting drug-smuggling suspect in buttocks as he fled across frontier
Posted: October 20, 2006
5:00 p.m. Eastern
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com
Agent Jose Alonso Compean. Courtesy of KFOX-TV
U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas, sentenced Jose Alonso Compean to 12 years in prison and Ignacio Ramos to 11 years and one day despite a plea by their attorney for a new trial after three jurors said they were coerced into voting guilty in the case, the Washington Times reported.
As WorldNetDaily reported, a federal jury convicted Compean, 28, and Ramos, 37, in March after a two-week trial on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and a civil rights violation.
Ramos is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve and a former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the Year.
On Feb. 17, he responded to a request for back up from Compean, who noticed a suspicious van near the levee road along the Rio Grande River near the Texas town of Fabens, about 40 miles east of El Paso.
Ramos, who headed toward Fabens hoping to cut off the van, soon joined a third agent already in pursuit.
Behind the wheel of the van was an illegal alien, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila of Mexico. Unknown to the growing number of Border Patrol agents converging on Fabens, Aldrete-Davila's van was carrying 800 pounds of marijuana.
Unable to outrun Ramos and the third agent, Aldrete-Davila stopped the van on the levee, jumped out and started running toward the river. When he reached the other side of the levee, he was met by Compean who had anticipated the smuggler's attempt to get back to Mexico.
"We both yelled out for him to stop, but he wouldn't stop, and he just kept running," Ramos told California's Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Aldrete-Davila crossed a canal.
"At some point during the time where I'm crossing the canal, I hear shots being fired," Ramos said. "Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler."
At that point, Ramos said, Aldrete-Davila turned toward him, pointing what looked like a gun.
"I shot," Ramos said. "But I didn't think he was hit, because he kept running into the brush and then disappeared into it. Later, we all watched as he jumped into a van waiting for him. He seemed fine. It didn't look like he had been hit at all."
The commotion and multiple calls for back up had brought seven other agents – including two supervisors – to the crossing by this time. Compean picked up his shell casings, but Ramos did not. He also did not follow agency procedure and report that he had fired his weapon.
"The supervisors knew that shots were fired," Ramos told the paper. "Since nobody was injured or hurt, we didn't file the report. That's the only thing I would've done different."
Had he done that one thing differently, it's unlikely it would have mattered to prosecutors.
More than two weeks after the incident, Christopher Sanchez, an investigator with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General, received a call from a Border Patrol agent in Wilcox, Ariz. The agent's mother-in-law had received a call from Aldrete-Davila's mother in Mexico telling her that her son had been wounded in the buttocks in the shooting.
Sanchez followed up with a call of his own to the smuggler in Mexico.
In a move that still confuses Ramos and Compean, the U.S. government filed charges against them after giving full immunity to Aldrete-Davila and paying for his medical treatment at an El Paso hospital.
At trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Kanof told the court that the agents had violated an unarmed Aldrete-Davila's civil rights.
"The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it is a violation of someone's Fourth Amendment rights to shoot them in the back while fleeing if you don't know who they are and/or if you don't know they have a weapon," said Kanof.
Kanof dismissed Ramos' testimony that he had seen something shiny in the smuggler's hand, saying that the agent couldn't be sure it was a gun he had seen.
Further, Kanof argued, it was a violation of Border Patrol policy for agents to pursue fleeing suspects.
"Agents are not allowed to pursue. In order to exceed the speed limit, you have to get supervisor approval, and they did not," she told the Daily Bulletin.
Those shell casings Compean picked up were described to the jury as destroying the crime scene and their failure to file an incident report – punishable by a five-day suspension, according to Border Patrol regulations – an attempted cover up.
The Texas jury came back with a guilty verdict. Conviction for discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence has an automatic 10-year sentence. The other counts have varying punishments.
"How are we supposed to follow the Border Patrol strategy of apprehending terrorists or drug smugglers if we are not supposed to pursue fleeing people?" said Ramos, who noted that he only did on that day what he had done for the previous 10 years. "Everybody who's breaking the law flees from us. What are we supposed to do? Do they want us to catch them or not?"
He also noted that none of the other agents who had responded to the incident filed reports that shots were fired and, besides, both supervisors at the scene knew they had discharged their weapons.
"You need to tell a supervisor because you can't assume that a supervisor knows about it," Kanof countered. "You have to report any discharge of a firearm."
"This is the greatest miscarriage of justice I have ever seen," said Andy Ramirez of the nonprofit group Friends of the Border Patrol. "This drug smuggler has fully contributed to the destruction of two brave agents and their families and has sent a very loud message to the other Border Patrol agents: If you confront a smuggler, this is what will happen to you."
The El Paso Sheriff's Department increased its patrols around the Ramos home when the family received threats from people they believed were associated with Aldrete-Davila.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Straightening Out Washington
What with the situation in Iraq and the new crisis in Washington (the Democrat majority in Congress) I decided that I could best serve my country by traveling to our nation’s capital and being close to where the crime and misfeasance is actually being carried out. So I called the kids in from college, packed up the car and the four of us headed east (and a little bit north). I also figured that since my older daughters and their families lived nearby it would be convenient to take out time from my country-saving activities to say hello to them, especially since we hadn’t yet visited with them to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.
My first exercise was to read Saturday's edition of The Washington Post, sure to contain much propaganda needing refutation. There on the Editorial Page was a prime example of the reasoning that has the U.S. in such a domestic swamp: “The Wrong Prescription – Government should not negotiate drug prices in Medicare.”
What? Wait a minute: That actually makes sense. Did my eyes deceive me? Have I mistakenly misunderstood the Post’s editorial position all these years?
My heart began to palpitate, my pulse quickened, my face flushed, and hyperventilation set in. Well, I managed to take a few deep breaths and down a glass of water, and I was able to read on, discovering references to market forces in the Post’s argument against government intervention, and a blatant criticism of the Democrat’s overly optimistic faith in government solutions to all problems.
Oh, Lord, it was starting up again: More deep breaths and another glass of water.
Then there was this: “These private insurers stand to profit if they can secure discounts and cut premiums and thus attract more customers …” Here was a cogent reference to common sense economics and a statement not condemning drug company profits in the same sentence. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I wondered if I had died and gone to Heaven. And then this: “The Democrats’ stance is troubling because it suggests an excessively government-led view of health-care reform.”
Well, at that point I finally realized something had happened. Either it was a trick, or I was reading a column that resulted from an editorial coup at The Washington Post pulled off by people like William F. Buckley, Jr., and George Will.
The piece went on to poke holes in the Democrat’s theory and ended with “The better approach is to let each insurer offer its own version of the right balance [of available drugs through Medicare], see whether it attracts customers—and then adapt flexibly.”
I began to think that things were well in hand with Bill and George in control of the Post, and that I wasn’t needed after all. Then, like a flash of lightning, it dawned on me what was really going on. Bill and George hadn’t really taken over; the Left was still in charge of the Post. No, what had happened was that this almost perfectly reasonable and imminently sensible economic argument against the Democrats’ foolish proposal had been made from a typical liberal false and unconstitutional assumption: That government has any business whatsoever meddling in the health care of Americans, and that includes creating a Medicare program to begin with.
Well, it sure was a relief to realize that my faith in the Post to get it wrong was not misplaced and that the country still needs my services here in Washington. However, this ordeal has left me too fatigued to provide any help for a couple of days. I guess I’ll just rest up today, and head back to God’s country tomorrow and get back to work pushing back the frontiers of ignorance from the comfort of my desk.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
What Are People Thinking?
Many of the phone calls that come in to my home are telemarketers. I don’t like these calls. If I can identify on the Caller ID that the caller isn’t someone that I want to talk with, or if I don’t have reasonable curiosity about the call, I either don’t answer the call at all, or, I answer, and if I don’t hear a voice on the other end within about half a second, I hang up. It happens multiple times every day.
This afternoon the phone rang. I was busy. I didn’t want to talk with anyone I didn’t know, or with whom I was not expecting a call. I looked at the Caller ID; I decided to answer the phone.
According to the Caller ID, on the other end was the U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Office, and a young Marine politely greeted me and asked about my daughter. Was she home? No, she is at college. Did I think she might be up to the Marine’s demanding regimen? “Probably not,” I said; “at least not until she graduates.” He thanked me for talking with him.
After the formalities were out of the way, I asked the Sgt. how the recruiting effort was going? “Pretty well,” he said, “although of the calls I’ve made recently you are the most polite and friendly person that I’ve talked to.”
“Really,” I said, expressing mild-to-moderate disbelief. In southwest Virginia and neighboring southern West Virginia, people are not only generally polite and respectful, but they honor our military personnel for what they voluntarily give to their country.
“Yeah. Most of the time I get cussed out or hung up on,” he said.
We talked a little more, I thanked him for being a Marine, he thanked me for being civil to him, and we both moved on with our respective business.
I am continually baffled by how easily some folks abandon common civility these days and resort to in-your-face nastiness. But what really galls me is that some people, many people, would treat our military recruiters with anything less than total respect, and their behavior begs the question, Why do they behave this way?
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
I am pleased that Spero News has published my second piece, which addresses the failure of college and university journalism and communication programs to teach students journalistic ethics and stress accuracy, objectivity and balance.
The piece is also published at Daily Estimate, a sister site of Spero News.
I hope everyone will take a look, and if you have comments you may post them here.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Democrats Preparing to ... What?
Now that the Senior Prom is over in Washington, and the Democrats’ merriment has dropped from a roar to a noisy clamor, it’s time for Congress to get to work. Based on experience, I wish they’d just keep dancing. Someone, perhaps Will Rogers, once said something like, “America is never in greater danger than when Congress is in session.” I can’t find any reference to who said that, so maybe it was me. I’d be pleased to be credited with having said it.
Anyway, what is frightening about the next two years is that the Democrats view government as the solution to all problems and invariably equip government to inappropriately stick its nose even further into our business than it is already stuck. The phrase “we are the Democrats and we are here to protect you” has already begun to ring out throughout the Capital.
An editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader had this to say: “Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi has promised that the new powers that be in Congress will protect us helpless Americans from a host of perceived evils: big oil, corporate lobbyists, stingy employers, debilitating diseases, etc. In the next two years, lawmakers in Washington and Concord will attempt to expand the scope of government action. They will pass laws ostensibly designed to protect the weak from the powerful. But in doing so they will make the government that they control, already more potent than the richest tycoon or largest corporation, even more powerful. In many cases they will replace the collective judgment of millions of Americans with the judgment of a few hundred lawmakers.”
The Democrats are fully prepared to enact legislation and spend our money to protect us from ourselves, and to protect us from all manner of threats, real and imagined. And, they plan to do it on a pay-as-you-go basis, which is in some ways a good thing. However, that means tax increases. The Democrats just don’t have enough money to work with, and God knows they wouldn’t think to spend less. Heck, even the Republicans can’t make themselves spend less; for the Democrats that concept is a non-starter. Instead, they want to take more money out of the private sector, where it produces goods and services, provides jobs, and produces dozens of other beneficial results, and put it in the government sector where it fuels the inefficiency and intervention into American’s daily lives for which our government is so famous.
I could be wrong; history might not repeat itself. But I’m not confident.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Out of Touch with Reality
My contempt for the American media is no secret; abdication of its primary responsibility for objectivity in favor of cheap advocacy for a political agenda is among the most despicable of acts in recent history.
The following excerpts from a piece by Marvin Olasky illustrate the immoderate core of ideologically based reporting and commentary daily offered up by today’s “journalists.” Commentary, of course, is where one expresses his or her opinion, so however radical the opinion may be, expressing it is okay. However, the tone of these comments reflects not only a decided bias, but more than that a deep frustration that their radical views are rejected by most Americans. Enlightened and moderate criticism has flown away, replaced by vituperative rhetoric born of desperation:
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann said on Sept. 11, at the site of the World Trade Center, "Who has left this hole in the ground? We have not forgotten, Mr. President. You have. May this country forgive you." On Oct. 18 he announced that the Bush administration is "more dangerous to our liberty than is the enemy it claims to protect us from."
Somehow, the prospect that Keith Olbermann really hopes for forgiveness for Mr. Bush seems less than genuine. Thankfully, Mr. Olbermann qualifies only for MSMBC where nobody sees him.
Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, declaring on April 7 that "There's nothing this administration won't do under the guise of battling terrorism," called for Americans to "stop Bush's imperial expansion of power." But Clift on July 15 said Russia's Vladimir Putin has "a commanding popularity among his own people, because he is perceived to be an effective dictator. What we have in this country is a dictator who's ineffective."
Perhaps Mzz Clift should go live in Iran under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or under Kim Jong Il in North Korea, or to Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, for a few years to see just what a dictatorship is all about. On the other hand, maybe we should keep her here in the U.S. as an example of how not to behave.
Los Angeles Times columnist Joel Stein wrote on Jan. 24, "I don't support our troops. When you volunteer for the U.S. military you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism."
At least Mr. Stein is honest enough to admit that he does not support our troops. Most of his fellow travelers on the Left Wing profess support for the troops, all the while working to under mine them. Mr. Stein should be sentenced to take a political science course to become acquainted with what imperialism really is.
CNN's Jack Cafferty on May 11 said that Senate Judiciary Committee head Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who had criticized the Bush administration, "might be all that's standing between us and a full-blown dictatorship in this country."
The absurdity of that statement is self-evident. When Jack Cafferty first appeared on CNN, I had the distinct impression that in choosing an unknown old-timer the network must have reasoned thusly: “Even though ol’ Jack hasn’t wowed anyone with his performance, he’s been hacking around a long time. Let’s let him have that slot.”
All of these lesser lights have one thing in common, which is that we know them far less for their excellent journalistic skills than for their sharp tongues. Congratulations, lady and gentlemen, you have made a name for yourself; you have arrived and can now stand beside such luminaries as Michael Moore, Howard Dean, Al Sharpton and Cindy Sheehan.
Friday, January 05, 2007
Up here, in the "Mile-Hi City," we just recovered from a Historic event—may I even say a "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions”—with a historic blizzard of up to 44 inches of snow and winds to 90 MPH that broke trees in half, knocked down utility poles, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed ALL roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to tens of thousands.
For the record:
- George Bush did not come.
- FEMA did nothing, and wasn’t expected to.
- No one howled for the government.
- No one blamed the government.
- No one even uttered an expletive on TV.
- Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton did not visit.
- Our Mayor did not blame George Bush or anyone else.
- Our Governor did not blame George Bush or anyone else, either.
- Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards.
- No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House.
- No one looted.
- Nobody - I mean NOBODY - demanded the government do something.
- Nobody expected the government to do anything, either.
- No Larry King, No Bill O'Rielly, No Oprah, No Chris Mathews and No Geraldo Rivera, No Shaun Penn, No Barbara Striesand, No Hollywood types to be found.
- Melted the snow for water;
- Sent out caravans of SUV's to pluck people out of snow-engulfed cars;
- The truck drivers pulled people out of snow banks and didn't ask for a penny;
- Local restaurants made food and the police and fire departments delivered it to the snowbound families;
- Families took in the stranded people - total strangers;
- We fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Coleman lanterns;
- We put on extra layers of clothes because up here it is "Work or Die;"
- We did not wait for some affirmative action government to get us out of a mess created by being immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for “sittin’ at home” checks.
Even though a Category "5" blizzard of this scale has never hit this early, we sometimes have blizzards and we know how to deal with them ourselves.
That is a good lesson for the rest of the country.
Cindy Sheehan made a name for herself by using her son’s death to gain the public stage and then making a nuisance of herself through her petulant behavior. Democrats and liberals embraced her, and made her Queen. Her harangues against President Bush were the stuff of legend.
Proving what so many believe about her, that she is out of control, Ms. Sheehan created another spectacle as Democrats were taking the first official steps as leaders of the U.S. Congress for the first time in 12 years. As Congressman Rahm Emanuel was speaking to the party faithful, a group that included Ms. Sheehan began chanting about evacuating our troops from Iraq, drowning out Mr. Emanuel and forcing him to give up.
Rude? You betcha. But, of course, that sort of behavior is part and parcel of Ms. Sheehan’s in-your-face strategy. Only now, the Democrats are in her sights.
God bless Cindy Sheehan. She is an equal opportunity basher. She and the rest of the Left’s angry fringe—flirting with lunacy, or perhaps securely wrapped in it—will now become a problem for Democrats, who will not satisfy them, either. And God bless Cindy Sheehan, because she obviously needs it.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
I've often said that criminals are not playing with a full deck, and here's proof of that.
Police in Boca Raton, Florida said a man who carjacked an SUV in Boca Raton drove all the way to Palm Springs before becoming lost and calling 9-1-1 on himself.
According to police reports, Claude King, 31, smashed the driver's side window of an SUV and pulled the driver out of the vehicle. Once inside, police said King began to punch the other four passengers. Once King got the passengers out of the SUV, he began to drive wildly around the area, finally heading southbound down Interstate 95. While heading southbound, King struck a white Chevrolet pickup and decided to turn around and head north. He struck another vehicle along the way and decided to pull over in Palm Springs. Lost and frustrated, he called 9-1-1 and turned himself in.
There are numerous things wrong with this story, first among which is that this dope tried to steal a car.
Now, I'm not a criminal and therefore don't think like a criminal, but it seems to me that it isn't very smart to steal a car that has five people in it in broad daylight. And if you can't drive any better than this incompetent boob, you shouldn't steal a car at all. Steal groceries. Or bicycles.
Thank God that many criminals are so stupid that they are easily caught, as in this case. Also fortunate is that not too many people got hurt.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Voices From Iraq
Sean Hannity isn’t one of my favorites, but his program featuring scenes from Iraq when Secretary Rumsfeld visited there recently gives you a very different view of what is going on in Iraq from the troops’ perspective.
I’ll acknowledge the possibility that Hannity did what the mainstream media do, which is to be selective in what goes in the paper and on the air. However, even if that happened there are numerous genuine stories that paint a different picture of what is going on.
I don’t deny the bad things; how could I, given the continuous parade of visual imagery and satisfaction-laced prose that accompanies it. But I also have known intuitively for a long time, and more recently from actual anecdotal evidence such as the honest testimony of U.S. military personnel, that things aren’t as bad as the media portray them.
War is a messy proposition, even under the best of circumstances. That’s a point that so many ignore when evaluating the Iraq initiative. It is a silly juxtaposition that the Bush-haters put forth: Bush the bumbling idiot, on the one hand, and on the other, Bush the Commander-in-Chief who is expected to run a mistake-free war.
There is something critically wrong when the system that we depend upon for objective information with which to form our own individual ideas about where our country is headed takes sides in the national dialogue, instead of merely doing its job and reporting what the dialogue is. Thank goodness for Fox News, which attempts to balance the liberal media by telling us stories that rarely if ever turn up on the broadcast networks, the cable news networks and major daily newspapers.
If you are interested in knowing both sides of this story (more than you are interested in a narrow ideological agenda), I urge you to watch this program.