Friday, April 27, 2007

I’m So Tired …

Watching TV news the other day, with the incessant repetition of the same stuff hour after hour, got me thinking how tired I am of the same old stuff, and that flashed me to the scene in Blazing Saddles where Madeline Kahn, as Lili von Schtupp, sings a fairly hilarious song titled “I’m So Tired,” some of the lyrics of which are:

I'm tired,
Tired of playing the game
Ain't it a crying shame
I'm so tired

Anyway, one of the worst developments in news coverage is the 24-hour news cycle, made possible by 24-hour-a-day news channels like FNC, CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC. While these networks make it possible to find out what’s going on at any hour of the day—or perhaps more correctly, to find out what the networks want to tell you—there just isn’t enough important news happening most days to fill a complete day without focusing on a few stories and reporting them to death, or worse, use stories that really aren’t good stories, and worse still when networks create stories on their own or blow minor elements of a story up well beyond their actual importance.

Haven’t we heard about the tragic story of Anna Nicole Smith enough? Haven’t the media covered every possible aspect of that story, and didn’t they do it to death? Isn’t the same true of the Don Imus fiasco and the Virginia Tech tragedy? I’m tired of hearing, reading and seeing stuff about Brittany Spears Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, and now about Alec Baldwin. I’m glad Sanjaya finally got tossed off of American Idol, not because I don’t like Sanjaya, but because the story wasn’t worth all the attention it got.

Then, on the other hand, there’s the case of the Duke lacrosse players’ persecution. We had endless hours of that story for months; they covered it to death. But now that the North Carolina Attorney General has dropped all charges against the players, that story died in a few days.

Having worked in news journalism for nearly 20 years I have a good deal of insight into the way those people think. There is the drive to give people information, of course, although it is all too often tempered with the impact of some agenda, but frequently a major factor is the affect on viewers/listeners/readers. The news network people have an almost manic need to be first, and these days being first is most often a matter of seconds, and that produces some really weird on-air behavior, interrupting meaningful interviews with knowledgeable people, or cutting someone off in mid-sentence. It’s funny how when they are trying to be first, the news folk don’t mind putting scheduled commercial (hard) breaks on hold, but otherwise they do all manner of silly things to end segments on time for those scheduled breaks (see above).

Okay, I’m through ranting now.

And, if you’d like to watch and listen to Lili sing “I’m So Tired,” and I urge you to do so, here you go:

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For All Those Perplexed by Islamism

I came across this on the Spero News site and found it interesting:

Islamism: a disease within Islam

The West is weak, but Muslims are mute when it comes to Islamism and terrorism. The apologies of the West and the Church reinforce Islamist violence.

Thursday, April 26, 2007
By Samir Khalil Samir

Both Western and Muslim communities tend to understate, if not hide, the strong link that exists between Islamism and terrorism. This is demonstrated by the lukewarm reactions to the killings of Christians in Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan and the indifference and silence with regard to the massacres between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq.

Instead, it is essential to understand the intrinsic bond which exists between Islamism and terrorism. Islamism, this literalist interpretation of the Koran and the Sunna, arrogates the right to penetrate into the details of the believer’s life and to determine every aspect of his behaviour. In this way, it easily transforms the believer into a docile instrument in the hands of those who hold religious authority.

The rest of the story

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Whence Come Readers?

I never cease to be amazed, or at least surprised, at the places where visitors to Observations live, work, or surf the Net from.

I haven’t posted a list in a while, so here is one, with the duplications (I hope) removed:

Arroyo Grande, California

Winnipeg, Manitoba

France Toulouse, Midi-Pyrenees

Pompano Beach, Florida

Madrid Spain

Bellingham, Washington

Cunningham, Kansas

Syracuse, New York

Solihull United Kingdom

Emeryville, California

Antioch, Tennessee

Mount Sinai, New York

Pompano Beach, Florida

East Elmhurst, New York

Mobile, Alabama

Cleveland, Ohio

Blue Point, New York

Rabat, Rabat-Sale Coventry

Syracuse, New York

Buffalo, New York

Anjomachi, Aich

Terrey Hills, New South Wales

Charleston, West Virginia

Seattle, Washington

Nampa, Idaho

Arlington, Virginia

Norfolk, Virginia

Houston, Texas

Wilmington, North Carolina

Cashel, Tipperary

Kenilworth, Warwickshire

East Elmhurst, New York

Plano, Texas

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Richmond, Virginia

Ranchi, Jharkhand

Mission Viejo, California

Cedar Falls, Iowa

Coudersport, Pennsylvania

Mobile, Alabama

Cauls, Cataluna

Kerrville, Texas

Adelaide, South Australia

Kangaroo Flat, South Australia

Kenilworth, Warwickshire

Aurora, Ontario

Tucson, Arizona

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy Earth Day!

Have you celebrated Earth Day yet?

No? Why not?

Perhaps you are like me: you don’t buy into the hysteria of man-made global warming and of impending doom if we don’t devolve our energy-extravagant lifestyle real soon. Actually, I’m not as much of a cretin as some might believe where the environment is concerned. At one point in my younger days I was quite the environmentalist, opposing hydroelectric power and highway projects and such. I even got the evil eye from the security detail of then-Governor of West Virginia Arch Moore, when at a news conference I pressed the governor farther than he wanted on points of what at the time I perceived as environmentally dangerous policies and plans. The event ended well: the governor finished the press conference and headed back to Charleston, and I didn’t get arrested. But then I didn’t get satisfactory answers to my questions, either. He eventually went to jail for election fraud and I went on to become a public school band director for several years.

Since those days I have come to realize that most government and business projects, including those I pressed Mr. Moore too far on, have far less negative impact on the environment than the green lobby wants you to believe, but I also maintain my respect for and concern about the environment. So just because I don’t get all hot and bothered about global warming and the initiatives of the greenies, and just because I think the entire man-is-the-cause-of-global-warming madness is a bunch of super-hyperbolic hot air doesn’t mean that I don’t think we ought to take some steps to lessen the impact of human beings on the environment. I recycle plastic, newsprint and such, I try to keep our electricity use down, and I try to be a responsible adult where such things are concerned. Now, that won’t get me nominated for any environmental sensitivity awards, but every little bit helps, eh?

I think that we need to find a better energy source than oil, not only because burning it is dirty, but also because so much of the crude oil is in places that are either politically inaccessible or politically unstable, and the cost will rise as those difficulties become more relevant. One highly touted substitute for oil is ethanol, which burns cleaner than gasoline and diesel fuel and is made from the renewable resources corn and sugar cane. We grow lots of corn in the U.S. and we can grow more if we decide to; we also are developing the infrastructure to produce and use more ethanol in the coming years. Most of us will believe this is a good thing. I do.

But now comes news that the U.S. ethanol boom could push already-high natural gas prices even higher as building new distilleries and growing bigger corn crops raise industrial and agricultural demand for natural gas. Ethanol refineries tend to use natural gas-fueled boilers because they are seven times cheaper than ones that burn coal, and natural gas is also used in the production of fertilizer for corn, which is the main feedstock for ethanol in North America, and corn fields consume large amounts of fertilizer, the ammonia of which comes from natural gas. According to senior analyst Christopher Jarvis of Caprock Risk Management, "a rise in gas demand is in the cards for this year, and next, and an additional up-tick from ethanol could definitely have a material impact" on natural gas prices. "It's another way we're becoming dependent on natural gas," he said.

The ethanol boom has already contributed to inflation in the prices of bread, meat and diesel fuel, and could add roughly 1 percent to U.S. natural gas demand within the next 18 months, magnifying an already tight balance between production and rising consumption from homes, businesses and power plants. And if that isn’t bad enough, a Stanford University study claims that the widespread use of ethanol could pose a threat to human health. According to Mark Z. Jacobson, an atmospheric scientist, if every vehicle in the United States were powered by fuel made primarily from ethanol instead of gasoline, there would likely be an increase in the number of respiratory-related deaths and hospitalizations.

Changing our energy focus from oil to ethanol sounds good from a variety of standpoints, but change on such a grand scale is never as easy as it ought to be, and this one is no exception. Only by carefully weighing the pros and cons and thoughtfully developing sensible programs and policies to move away from oil can we hope to have a transition that will not cause as many problems as it solves.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Here’s A Question For You

On his radio program April 4th, Don Imus was conducting business as usual. Imus is frequently referred to as a “shock jock,” which is defined as “a radio disc jockey or host who features offensive or controversial material.” More recently Imus has not been a disc jockey, and he may never have been a disc jockey in the traditional sense. He is the host of a talk radio program and rose to prominence by being a “shock jock.” However, to call Imus a shock jock based on the more recent content of his program would be to totally mischaracterize the show. “Imus in the Morning” was a well-produced, highly creative, very informative, and mostly incredibly entertaining radio program. The show had news segments, interviews with authorities and personalities and politicians, comedy segments, sports reports and so forth, and sprinkled all through the broadcast were remarks by him or someone else on the show that were most often humorous, though sometimes a little rough.

The I-man and his on-air staff poked fun at a lot of people; no one was immune. And, yes, sometimes the remarks were crude and/or off-color. Personally, I was at one time a regular listener when it was available on a local station, and I liked the show. Sometimes I didn’t like a particular segment, sometimes I disagreed with a political position, or maybe thought he went a little too far for my particular tastes, but Imus certainly did not have a patent on that. If his show had been as tawdry and vulgar as much of rap, some rock, and a lot of comedic programming, for example, I wouldn’t have listened to the program.

In his three decades Imus has poked fun at, been critical of, been nasty to, and insulted lots of people, famous and not-so-famous, black/white/Asian/Hispanic, rich and powerful, even friends and associates. The President of the United States is not immune; ask either of the Bushes, or Bill Clinton. When he disagrees with someone, dislikes what someone has done or said, just like a lot of people you probably know who aren’t on the radio, he sometimes lashed out with harsh words. It’s what he does. It’s what he’s been doing for 30 years.

Those familiar with the Imus show saw that day’s fare as more of the same, just a normal day on the air. Along the way while talking about the success the Rutgers girls basketball team he interjected one of those edgy remarks, commenting that the girls team was a bunch of “nappy-headed hos.” That’s not a nice thing to say, of course, but it wasn’t an unusual sort of comment, from Imus’ point of view, and not an unusual comment from his listeners’ point of view, either. On a broader scale, it wasn’t special, at all, it was just one more off-the-cuff remark lasting less than five seconds, and then the staff was on to other topics.

Imus’ radio audience totaled only about 1.6 million a week on only 60 stations, and fewer than 400,000 television viewers. That’s not a lot of people, as big radio and TV shows go. Rush Limbaugh, for example, garners more than 13 million listeners a week and Howard Stern has more than 8 million. So, while Imus has gained influence in political circles, his show reached a relatively small group of people. Millions of people—tens of millions, I’d bet—had never heard of him, let alone listened to him or watched him on television.

So, here’s the question I alluded to in the title: With his relatively small sphere of influence, combined with the likelihood that none of the Rutgers female basketball team even knew who he was before April 4th, and probably didn’t listen to his show that day, why does anyone, especially the Rutgers girls, give a damn what he says about anyone?

The reaction to Imus’ dumb remark is out of all proportion to its impact on the universe, which wouldn’t have noticed had not a few agenda-driven people started screaming bloody murder, and built a band wagon too tempting for others who ought to know better to jump on. Such immense over-reactions and idiotic Chicken-Little behavior are shameful and humiliating characteristics of our society.

If people were really concerned about how Imus' comments would hurt the girls at Rutgers, they'd have kept their big mouths shuts, and let well enough alone.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What Happened at Virginia Tech?

And what didn’t happen?

By now everyone is likely aware of the horror that gripped the Virginia Tech campus this past Monday. I live a little more than an hour from VT, and there are 15 or so local kids going to school there. Some of them are friends of my kids, so this incident is of great importance to our community and to us. Thankfully, all of the local kids are okay. The closest casualty was a boy from a community about 40 minutes from here.

This incomprehensibly mindless episode has focused attention on a variety of things, some appropriate and some beside the point. What happened and what didn’t happen there are relevant, both on a local level and on a broader level.

First, what didn’t happen.

- Guns did not kill 32 VT students and professors.
- The culture of the United States, as screwed up as it is, did not kill 32 people at VT.
- The reaction of the VT police and administration in the minutes and first couple of hours
after the first shootings did not kill 30 people at VT.

- The second-guessing, Monday morning quarterbacking and 20-20 hindsight, demonstrated
so ably by the American media, did not do anything useful.

And now, what did happen:

A Korean male in his twenties with a documented history of mental instability and violent tendencies first killed a girl he was apparently interested in and a residence adviser who tried to intervene, and two hours later systematically executed 30 innocent students and faculty before killing himself. That is pretty much the nuts and bolts of the story.

Events such as this one naturally create many questions, the first of which is, why? Two answers come quickly to mind: First, the kid went nuts. Second, the kid was evil.

Those on the side of “crazy” will note that he had been identified by other students as “weird,” “a loner,” and similar characterizations, and by one of his instructors who saw in his writings for her class things that were very troubling. The kid snapped, and went on a rampage.

I believe this was an “evil” deed. “Crazy” implies a separation from reality, sometimes a sudden emotional reaction, as in crimes of passion. A crazy person may hear voices or hallucinate. Adolph Hitler was evil, not crazy. Saddam Hussein was evil, not crazy. What Cho Seung-Hui did was premeditated and deliberate. What he did was based on hate and envy; he was evil, not insane. A law enforcement official described a note written by Cho as a typed, eight-page rant against rich kids and religion. Cho indicated in his letter that the end was near and that there was a deed to be done, the official said. "You caused me to do this," the note said. Those are the words of evil, not the words of insanity.

Now comes word of a “manifesto,” a package of information that Cho mailed to NBC News on the day of the shooting, and it is being asserted that he mailed this package in between the shooting incidents. If that is true, it removes any doubt that these killings were premeditated.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What Do We Americans Value?

Well, the verdict is in: Parade magazine has published its edition that tells us who makes how much, and the answers are, well, interesting. The range of earnings reported in Parade goes from $0 (California Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger) to $341 million (YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley), and there is a lot in between.

Let’s look at some examples:

Air Force Staff Sergeant (E-5) Kenneth Martin makes $48,000 a year.

Gary Fearn, a minister, makes $9,000 a year.

Wynde J. Lawson, USPS letter carrier, $49,200.

Robert Pacht, magazine editor, $55,000.

Mary Ellen Caruso, nurse, $70,000.

Janet Napolitano, Governor, New Mexico, $95,000.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives, $212,100.

Kathryn Nelson, police judge, $132,000.

Most of us would say that the people in the above examples are paid appropriately, or maybe that some of them are underpaid, based upon the specifics of their job and/or what they contribute to our society. These people are at the lower end of the scale, as reported by Parade. I wonder how we feel about those at the upper end, where we find people paid what I can only term absurd amounts of money for doing things that arguably aren’t worth as much as they get for them.

Now, make no mistake: I’m still the capitalist pig I’ve always been; I think capitalism, while imperfect, is the best economic system on Earth. Ever. I think the opportunity to make as much money as we can, which is what a capitalist economy affords, is one of the few great things that life offers us. No, it is not capitalism that I criticize; it is the way we Americans prioritize things that enables some of these people to earn what truly are obscene amounts of money.

Here are some examples of what I consider highly overpaid people: the TV Food channel’s Rachael Ray made $6 million in 2006. I watch the Food Network and while Rachael Ray isn’t one of my favorites, there is certainly nothing wrong with her. But $6 million? I just don’t see it. Julia Roberts and George Clooney, people who pretend to be someone else for a living, are paid $10 million to $20 million per film. Yeah, they’re pretty people, but so are a lot of others making a fraction of what they rake in. Radio guy Howard Stern made $302 million, and rapper 50 Cent made $41 million. Howard and 50 and the other rappers and shock jocks get paid millions to spread their trash. Pitcher Randy Johnson made $13,100,000 one year, and catcher Mike Piazza made $13,000,000 a year for playing a game. Maybe they are some of the best in baseball, but it’s just baseball. And the high salaries of corporate CEOs are a continuing source of dismay.

I’ve nothing against actors or chefs or entertainers or athletes or CEOs, but what makes these people worth that kind of money? Objectively, nothing can justify that kind of money for those jobs. What it comes down to is that people who give us what we want make the big bucks, not the people that give us what we need, and that says bunches about our society and its twisted priorities. It says that we want entertainment of all descriptions from teaching us how to cook 30-minute meals to watching grown men and women play games to listening to vulgar guys like Howard Stern and 50 Cent to men and women who produce dividends and rising stock prices. And it says that such relative trivialities are more important to us than our national security, and developing and teaching our children, and being cured when we are sick, and our national character.

It is one of the increasingly numerous signs that our culture is collapsing.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Finally, Someone Gets It!

With all the crying, the wringing of hands, the finger pointing, the scape-goating, the wallowing in victim-hood, the righteous indignation aimed at Don Imus, the double-standard on language, and all the other crap that surrounds this shameful episode, at least one person gets it.

The following column by Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star is worth all the time it will take you to read it.

Imus isn’t the real bad guy

Instead of wasting time on irrelevant shock jock, black leaders need to be fighting a growing gangster culture.


Thank you, Don Imus. You’ve given us (black people) an excuse to avoid our real problem.

You’ve given Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson another opportunity to pretend that the old fight, which is now the safe and lucrative fight, is still the most important fight in our push for true economic and social equality.

You’ve given Vivian Stringer and Rutgers the chance to hold a nationally televised recruiting celebration expertly disguised as a news conference to respond to your poor attempt at humor.

Thank you, Don Imus. You extended Black History Month to April, and we can once again wallow in victimhood, protest like it’s 1965 and delude ourselves into believing that fixing your hatred is more necessary than eradicating our self-hatred.

The bigots win again.

While we’re fixated on a bad joke cracked by an irrelevant, bad shock jock, I’m sure at least one of the marvelous young women on the Rutgers basketball team is somewhere snapping her fingers to the beat of 50 Cent’s or Snoop Dogg’s or Young Jeezy’s latest ode glorifying nappy-headed pimps and hos.

I ain’t saying Jesse, Al and Vivian are gold-diggas, but they don’t have the heart to mount a legitimate campaign against the real black-folk killas.

It is us. At this time, we are our own worst enemies. We have allowed our youths to buy into a culture (hip hop) that has been perverted, corrupted and overtaken by prison culture. The music, attitude and behavior expressed in this culture is anti-black, anti-education, demeaning, self-destructive, pro-drug dealing and violent.

Rather than confront this heinous enemy from within, we sit back and wait for someone like Imus to have a slip of the tongue and make the mistake of repeating the things we say about ourselves.

It’s embarrassing. Dave Chappelle was offered $50 million to make racially insensitive jokes about black and white people on TV. He was hailed as a genius. Black comedians routinely crack jokes about white and black people, and we all laugh out loud.

I’m no Don Imus apologist. He and his tiny companion Mike Lupica blasted me after I fell out with ESPN. Imus is a hack.

But, in my view, he didn’t do anything outside the norm for shock jocks and comedians. He also offered an apology. That should’ve been the end of this whole affair. Instead, it’s only the beginning. It’s an opportunity for Stringer, Jackson and Sharpton to step on victim platforms and elevate themselves and their agenda$.

I watched the Rutgers news conference and was ashamed.

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke for eight minutes in 1963 at the March on Washington. At the time, black people could be lynched and denied fundamental rights with little thought. With the comments of a talk-show host most of her players had never heard of before last week serving as her excuse, Vivian Stringer rambled on for 30 minutes about the amazing season her team had.

Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that the comments of a man with virtually no connection to the sports world ruined Rutgers’ wonderful season. Had a broadcaster with credibility and a platform in the sports world uttered the words Imus did, I could understand a level of outrage.

But an hourlong press conference over a man who has already apologized, already been suspended and is already insignificant is just plain intellectually dishonest. This is opportunism. This is a distraction.

In the grand scheme, Don Imus is no threat to us in general and no threat to black women in particular. If his words are so powerful and so destructive and must be rebuked so forcefully, then what should we do about the idiot rappers on BET, MTV and every black-owned radio station in the country who use words much more powerful and much more destructive?

I don’t listen or watch Imus’ show regularly. Has he at any point glorified selling crack cocaine to black women? Has he celebrated black men shooting each other randomly? Has he suggested in any way that it’s cool to be a baby-daddy rather than a husband and a parent? Does he tell his listeners that they’re suckers for pursuing education and that they’re selling out their race if they do?

When Imus does any of that, call me and I’ll get upset. Until then, he is what he is — a washed-up shock jock who is very easy to ignore when you’re not looking to be made a victim.

No. We all know where the real battleground is. We know that the gangsta rappers and their followers in the athletic world have far bigger platforms to negatively define us than some old white man with a bad radio show. There’s no money and lots of danger in that battle, so Jesse and Al are going to sit it out.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Education in the United States

At a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of which I am a member the speaker was a male exchange student that I will refer to as “Jose,” from Quito, Ecuador, whom our club sponsored for a school year visit to the United States. His country’s education system is quite different from ours. Last year our club sponsored a young lady from Frankfort, Germany, that I will call “Gretchen.” Her country’s education system is also quite different from ours. Both students were well educated in their home countries, and attended local high schools near where I live.

Here is a snapshot of education in Ecuador and Germany: In Ecuador students study 20 subjects each year, including multiple sciences, math subjects and foreign languages. German students have a similar situation, but with one more facet: the Germans have a two-tiered high school system, and only the best students get into the upper-tier school. The decision as to which students have demonstrated that they are capable of functioning at the upper level and are serious about getting a solid education is a made in grade school.

Both countries utilize a class schedule that is not the same each day. Today, students may have algebra, French, English, biology and history, and tomorrow they may have chemistry, Latin, geometry, geography and Spanish. In Germany, activities like band and choir are extracurricular; there isn’t time for them during the school day, although music and art are part of the curriculum.

Both students expressed their preference for the American school system; “it’s easier,” Jose said. Gretchen had very much the same opinion.

Both students will have to repeat the year of school they spent in the United States, for slightly different reasons. In Ecuador, there is no room in their curriculum for subjects like art that Jose elected to study here. Gretchen was involved in her school’s jazz band and choir, and took other classes for which there was no equivalent in Frankfort, and, she said, German education authorities want to be sure that her education was consistently high in quality.

Here in the United States students usually take the same classes each day, and classes like driver’s education, band, choir, theater and keyboarding are regular parts of the curriculum and count toward graduation. A foreign language is not a requirement for graduation in some state systems, and it is not unusual for high school seniors to have only two or three required classes in their final year, and are sometimes finished with school by lunch time.

With this vastly different approach to educating young people, which method is better? Do Ecuador and Germany know something we don’t know? Or is the United States leading the world in progressive educational methodology?

Here’s what one news story said on that matter: “The United States is losing ground in education, as peers across the globe zoom by with bigger gains in student achievement and school graduations, a study shows.” And also, ”Among adults age 25 to 34, the U.S. is ninth among industrialized nations in the share of its population that has at least a high school degree. In the same age group, the United States ranks seventh … in the share of people who hold a college degree.” As recently as 20 years ago, the United States led in both categories.

You might suspect that story was based upon a study prepared by a right-wing organization bent on re-organizing the American education system around conservative principles that would take American school children back to the education system of 30 years ago? But, no, it was published by the Associated Press and reported what the Paris-based Organization for Cooperation found out about international education from test scores released last December that compared 15-year-olds in the United States with their peers in Europe, Asia and elsewhere.

Barry McGaw, director of education for the OC, concludes that based upon what we in the United States spend on education, our relatively low student achievement through the high school years shows our school system is "clearly inefficient." Spending for education had grown in the U.S. to a half-billion dollars annually by the 2003-2004 school year, one-third more than the nation spent on national defense, something around $9,000 per student per year. We spend seven percent of our gross national product on education, and there are many who will tell you that it isn’t enough. Yet, the U.S. is slipping in international education rankings.

If we can believe the results of the OC, while the U.S. probably leads the world in developing and experimenting with idealistic and progressive educational methods, it is losing ground in actually educating its youth.

Columnist and author Mona Charen has written: “For more than three centuries, Americans educated their children in private, religious and local public schools. Children thus educated managed to build the United States into the world’s largest economy and preeminent military power.” She is correct. And until the last twenty years that system of education enabled the U.S. to lead the world, or be near the top of the list of educational accomplishment. However, the greatest days of American education appear to be behind us: before 1979 when the federal Department of Education was created, and before we started down the road of experimenting with new and unproven educational methods.

What is going to happen to the United States now that we have abandoned a successful system of educating our young people in favor of a system that is losing ground to the rest of the world?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hypocrisy Rules in Imus Flap

Don Imus has fallen victim to the Political Correctness Hypocrisy Bandwagon Tour. Like Michael Richards and Mel Gibson before him, he is now the target of choice for the publicity pimps who, with their mouths watering are going out of the way to show their righteous indignation because Don Imus did the other day precisely the same thing he has done five days each week for decades.

Only this time, he said it about black people and, horrors, he said it about young black females who play basketball. But wait, he says stuff about black people frequently. He says stuff about Republicans, conservatives, the Irish, Democrats, liberals, white people, Asians, Hispanics … literally no one is immune; he is an equal opportunity basher.

However, today honest criticism has become a caricature of itself. When someone trips the alarm, everyone jumps in with teeth chomping and slobber dripping from their jowls, and Imus had the misfortune to have come along when the sharks were starving, not having anyone to chew on since Michael Richards’ whetted their appetite.

And look at the luminaries whose righteous indignation has been aroused: Al “Tawana Brawley” Sharpton, and Jesse “Hymie Town” Jackson, two of America’s most … Well, you fill in the blanks.

Don Imus said nothing about blacks that black comedians and rappers haven’t already said a thousand times, but, you see, Imus isn’t black, and that really is his crime. You can only say nasty things about blacks if you are yourself black.

I think he’s done more than required to shut down the criticism. He has apologized, multiple times. He went on Al “Tawana Brawley” Sharpton’s live radio program, where he was set upon by the good reverend and some Congresswoman who attempted to trap him. He held his own. Now it’s time to be quiet and let the small minds run on and on until they wear themselves out.

He has been suspended by CBS radio and MSNBC, because they don’t have the strength to withstand the criticism. But Don Imus has done at least as much good in this world as he has done bad, raising money for worthy causes, not the least of which is his support for the black victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

But that was then and this is now. The blacks want to know, “What have you done for me lately, Don?” It would serve CBS and MSNBC right if Imus decided to move on.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

What the World Needs Now Is …
A Few Brutally Killed Perverts

I’m normally not a violent person. I think senseless violence is a horrible thing. I don’t like war. Even so, I believe there is a place for violence; violence can serve a useful purpose.

I’ve had it with perverts preying on innocent children. There is no one more evil than someone who sexually or physically abuses a child, and there seems to be a rash of that lately. Maybe it's because we have better and more ways to communicate, maybe it’s because of the 24-hour-a-day news channels, that we hear about these cases more often than we used to, but my feeling is that there is a lot more of it going on today.

It is my opinion that our over-tolerant society encourages people to do things today that 40 years ago most of them would not have done, because back then society wouldn’t stand for it. But over the last 40 years we have gone out of our way to explain why the unacceptable is really not so bad, and we accept asinine excuses that make us less angry about the evil because, we are told, the perpetrator simply “can’t help himself.” He had a bad childhood, or he was neglected or abused or he couldn’t make the football team, or other kids made fun of him or any of numerous other stupid explanations have caused us to “understand the evil” instead of harshly punishing it.

TV news the other day had scenes from a courtroom incident where the family of a murder victim went berserk when the judge gave the human excrement who brutally killed their father/husband/brother a light sentence. That scumbag deserved far worse than being put to death lying on a gurney getting a shot that puts him to sleep forever. He didn’t even get that. He didn’t even get life in prison. A fitting end would have been for the judge to turn him over to the family and let them finish him off. Perhaps then he would have had some appreciation for the horror he visited on his victim.

And that’s my prescription for reducing or stopping the preying on little defenseless kids by adult perverts: Let the public, the families of the victims, or whoever wants to peel their skin off a piece at a time, break their fingers and arms and legs one at a time, crush their testicles with a hammer, pluck their eyes out, or whatever the most painful, the most horrible death humankind can imagine becomes their fate.

I’m betting that once the news gets out that if you sexually abuse a child that is what will happen to you, child sexual abuse will drop dramatically. And if not, then the those cowardly girlie-men will get what they deserve.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Occasionally, the stars and planets align such that inanities and absurdities abound. Such an alignment has recently unleashed a series of these events.

Queen Nancy Syriasly Screws Up

Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, recently ascended to Speaker of the House of Representatives, consistent critic of the Bush Administration, has undertaken to supersede the Constitutional directives and assume the role of directing foreign policy by unilaterally, and against the wishes of the executive branch, deciding to engage in direct talks with the president of Syria, a rogue nation involved in the support of terrorist organizations and terrorist activities.

Not only did Ms Pelosi overstep the boundaries of the Legislative Branch of our government, ignore the Constitutional separation of branches of government, and ignore the wishes of that branch of government given dominion over foreign policy by the Constitution, she screwed the pooch when delivering the message to the Syrian president that Israel is ready to change its previous stance vis-à-vis Syria, and begin talks. The Israeli Prime Minister has denied that.

Ms Pelosi appears to have grossly misread the results of last November’s election, and believes that because Democrats gained control of the Congress that she, as Speaker, is entitled to make decisions about troop deployments and can now set a foreign policy different from that of the Executive Branch.

Message to the Speaker: Nancy, the American people did not rescind the Constitution. You are only the Speaker of the House of Representatives. You were not elected Queen of the United States.

Further, your asinine actions have undermined the Constitutional, legal and appropriate policies of the United States.

Illegal Alien Drunk Driver Kills Two Teens

A drunk driver killed two teenage girls, a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, while they sat at a traffic light. This is a tragedy under any circumstances; drunk drivers are a substantial problem in the United States. What makes this case even worse is that the drunk driver was an illegal alien.

And what makes this case even worse than that is that this particular illegal alien had been convicted of three alcohol-related crimes before he killed the two innocent teens, and was let off by the trial judge with no jail time. The illegal alien had no restrictions on his freedom to prevent him from repeating his crime, and the authorities in Virginia never reported the illegal alien to federal authorities. You see, Virginia Beach is what is called a “sanctuary city,” a place where illegals can live without fear that they will be reported to federal immigration authorities. Is it absurd that an illegal alien can be convicted of four crimes, three of them alcohol-related, not be reported to immigration authorities, and be free to get drunk and kill innocent American citizens?

You’re damned right it is!

Here is a list of sanctuary cities in the U.S.:

Anchorage, AK; Fairbanks, AK; Chandler, AZ; Phoenix, AZ; Fresno, CA; Los Angeles, CA; National City, CA; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; Sonoma County, CA; Evanston, IL; Chicago, IL; Cicero, IL; Cambridge, MA; Orleans, MA; Portland, ME; Baltimore, MD; Takoma Park, MD; Ann Arbor, MI; Detroit, MI; Minneapolis, MN; Newark, NJ; Trenton, NJ; Durham, NC; Albuquerque, NM; Aztec, NM; Rio Arriba, County, NM; Sante Fe, NM; New York, NY; Ashland, OR; Gaston, OR; Marion County, OR; Austin, TX; Houston, TX; Katy, TX; Seattle, WA; Madison, WI


The Iranian Kidnapping of British Marines and Sailors

Fifteen British marines and sailors were taken captive by Iranian military personnel, who charged that the Brits were operating in Iranian waters. Predictably, there is a dispute about where the British boats actually were when the Iranians attacked.

There are many problems with this incident, among which is the fact that when someone actually goes into the waters of a country, taking them hostage is never the first step. The “invaders” are warned and escorted out of the territorial waters, and a diplomatic complaint is lodged. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to term the capture of the British sailors and marines “kidnapping.”

Another problem is that the Brits had enough firepower close enough to have blown the Iranian thugs out of the water. Why did they just sit by and watch?

Faced with his military personnel being improperly captured by the Iranians, British Prime Minister Tony Blair capitulated to the Iranians, took a weak position, and allowed the Iranian regime to embarrass Great Britain and score valuable points on the world stage. And the marines and sailors caved almost before they were captured.

Maybe the Iranians didn’t win much in this farcical episode, but it appears that they successfully picked a weak opponent, poked their finger in the opponent’s eye, and came out smelling like a dessert rose.

I’m Going Public

It's been a really busy period, lately, and I'm forcing the time to make this very importatnt post.

The mystery of exactly who fathered Anna Nicole Smith’s child still rages long after it should have been put to rest. The girl is named Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern. But was it Howard K. Stern, who is the father? Not according to Larry Birkhead, another male friend of Anna’s. Even Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt said that he had a decade-long affair with Smith and is the father. Who knows how many more potential fathers are out there?

So, to remove all doubt about at least one of the many who may be thought to be the father, I am stating right here and right now: I am not the father of Danielynn. I did not have sex with that woman.

I hope we can now get back to normal blogging.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Well, Duh!

I came across this item from Asia News, via Spero News, which publishes my columns: “In a unanimous decision, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) of Pakistan on March 31 ruled that a woman forced to have intercourse (zina-bil-jabr) should not be considered guilty of adultery, but should instead be viewed under the law as a victim of rape. The ruling de facto modifies the Hudood Ordinances and represents a great step forward in Pakistani Law.”

I hardly know what to say; it seems so obvious to those of us who live in the civilized world. Things like this in the Islamic belief system baffle non-Muslims, compounding the confusion created when adherents of the so-called “religion of peace” hijacked airplanes and crashed them and their innocent civilian passengers into buildings occupied by other innocent civilians.

A belief system that does not tolerate any other belief system, even if it was always peaceful in its intolerance, is foreign to the Western way of thinking. A belief system that holds itself superior, and considers non-believers inferior as a matter of philosophy, is inconsistent with Western ideals.

There are a lot of Muslims in the world; approximately 1.2 billion. But all totaled there are 6.5 billion people on Earth, and that means only one-in-six Earthlings is a Muslim. Significantly, there are nearly twice as many Christians as Muslims. Such facts lead me to believe that if Muslims are going to survive and live in harmony with the rest of us, they must learn to accept that most of us do not believe as they do, and they must adapt to that reality. Fortunately, many of them, and perhaps most of them, are able to do that.

It is a positive sign that Pakistan has counteracted one of Islam’s ancient and barbaric customs, but not every Muslim group has renounced this ridiculous practice, and there are other customs that are equally uncivilized and irrational.

So Islam has a lot of work to do to evolve into the 21st century and become the great belief system its adherents imagine it to be. The quicker that happens, the better for all of us.

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