Sunday, December 31, 2006
Man, that just sounds great, doesn't it? A new year is upon us, full of promise and promises to improve our lives. Sure, many people don't follow through on their promises, but doesn't it feel good knowing you have this yearly opportunity to get a life mulligan? No matter how badly we screwed up over the year, New Year's gives us a clean slate.
But what's stopping you from making life changes throughout the year? Just because it's not New Year's doesn't mean you're not allowed to do it. If we took this attitude throughout the year, we might not have make so many resolutions at the end of the year. It doesn't matter when you decide to change your life. What matters is that you follow through and act on your decision.
And it matters that you believe you can change. Most New Year's resolutions get broken within the first few weeks of the year. Why? I think it's because we don't make resolutions because we believe we have to change. We do it because everyone else is making resolutions. And when you consider some of the people out there, like me, you should really strive to do something for yourself.
Most importantly, whatever resolution you make, make it challenging, but attainable with clearly defined benchmarks. Let's say you want to lose 100 pounds. If you say you want to lose it by, say, next Tuesday, you're setting yourself up for failure. If you want to do it by this time next year, you're being more realistic, but you're still not quite there. If you keep the mindset that you're going to lose 100 pounds by losing 25 pounds a quarter, you've got it. You have the big goal and you've set checkpoints for yourself to see your progress throughout the year.
I hope you and your loved ones have a prosperous and joyous 2007.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Before we completely go giddy with joy, we should remember this is a somber occasion. Whenever anyone is put to death for crimes against humanity, it isn't supposed to be a party atmosphere. Americans and Iraqis alike have sacrificed so much to get to this point. We owe it to those who have endured what Saddam did to treat his execution with the gravity it demands.
Some have come up with ideas to televise Saddam's execution via pay per view and use the money generated to pay the families of our soldiers fighting in Iraq. A noble sentiment on one level, but I'm not comfortable with it. The Germans have a term, "schadenfreude," which loosely translated means taking pleasure at the misfortune of others. Seeing some of my conservative breathren's reaction to Saddam's execution and how quickly it's coming up, I can only say schadenfreude is running wild.
I don't want to be in that group. As bad, as ruthless, as utterly reprehensible as Saddam has been, I can't take joy at his execution. It's the closing of a chapter of world history, a chapter written in the blood of millions of of his victims. A chapter that didn't have to be written had we had the courage to hold Saddam accountable when we had the chance in Operation Desert Storm. It's hard to accept, but it's necessary. We could have stopped it, and we didn't.
Given that, how can any American be happy that Saddam is going to be hung? It may make us feel good for a short time or bolster our resolve to continue fighting, but it doesn't undo the past. It won't bring back a single Kurd gassed by Saddam. It won't heal the emotional and psychological scars of the women who survived Saddam's rape rooms. It won't stop the insurgents from targeting our troops and Iraqi citizens. It won't restore families torn apart by Saddam's machinations.
No, killing Saddam won't undo the damage he caused, but it should serve as a reminder of what happens when absolute power goes unchecked by those with the power to stop it. And that's something we all need to learn.
I split my critics into two categories. The first group is comprised of people who take the time to read and offer insight related to what I wrote. They don't agree with me and they tell me why without getting nasty or straying off the subject to go on a rant. I take these people seriously because they thought through my position and took the time to construct an argument. And I thank them because they keep me intellectually honest and often give me insight and information I can add to my knowledge base. I thank God for people like that in my life.
Then, there is the group I call the "Howling Jackals." These people do anything and everything in their power to misrepresent, go personal, and malign a person when they don't agree with him or her. To them, dissent is proof of their intellectual and moral superiority because they've invested so much of their egos into being right. I've been accused of that more than a few times myself, but I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong and I'm one of the first people to make a joke at my own expense. The Howling Jackals can't. To even admit they're wrong is to put a dent in their inflated self-image, which to them undermines their entire existence.
Needless to say, I don't take the slings and arrows out the Howling Jackals too seriously. In fact, I take great amusement at their comments because it's fun to watch how far they're willing to go to make themselves feel better, even to the point of misrepresenting what I write so they have a reason to complain. I could write a long dissertation on why I like cats and the Howling Jackals would say, "You hate dogs, you jerk!"
I learned a long time ago how to separate the two types of critics and appreciate them accordingly. And I urge other writers to do the same. If you let the Howling Jackals in your life have too much influence, it negatively impacts your ability to express yourself since you try to please them at the expense of your passions. But it will never be enough. If they dislike you, they'll always dislike you, even if you wind up kissing their butts. So, why try to change the minds of those who have already made up their minds? It's an exercise in futility.
Instead, focus on honing your craft and try to please your biggest critic: yourself.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
What does this have to do with anything? As we move further into the 21st Century, it seems we're getting more and more dependent on technology to do relatively simple tasks. Need to add some numbers? Get a calculator. Want to make music? Turn on your computer and run the right program. Need to talk to a friend? Text messaging to the rescue!
In the meantime, we're not asking ourselves what we're losing by being tech savvy. Think about all the hot items that were on people's Christmas lists. A good number of them involve electronics in one form or another. From the iPod to the Wii, from singing Bratz dolls to laughing Elmos, we're relying on technology to do things that we used to be able to do with our imaginations. And the scary thing? Nobody seems to mind.
How did we get to this point? I see it as an offshoot of the Industrial Revolution in this country. When technology really started to make its presence felt in our society in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, it was seen as a way to be more productive by increasing efficiency. As we got into the 40s and 50s, technology took on a new element. Not only could it be used to make us work faster and better, but it could also be used to give us leisure time. And it could be used to fill that leisure time.
Now with the advent of the affordable personal computer, cell phones with text messaging capabilities, and video game systems small enough to fit in your hand, we're moving into new territory where humanity takes a back seat to technology. Sure, it may seem like a good idea to have our whims catered to in the blink of an eye (with help from a high speed modem), but there are some experiences that can't be duplicated with all the technology in the world. Can a book on CD or downloaded into an MP3 player match the feeling of sitting down with a good book and a cup of coffee or tea? Not that I've found. Can PlayStation 3 simulate a game of touch football on a fall day? Nope.
Technology can be used for many amazing things, but it shouldn't be the focal point of our lives. We need to be able to disconnect from the digital world and live in the real world. From what I understand, the real world has much better graphics and all in high def, so it might be worth checking out.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Also with Ford's passing was the passage of another part of our history, one I don't think many of us even noticed or understand yet. With Ford's death, the only living Presidents we have now are less than impressive. Here they are.
Jimmy Carter - Until the last couple of years, I felt bad for Carter. Much like Ford, he was a good man who was thrust into a bad situation and paid the price for it politically. Dealing with an oil shortage, inflation, economic woes, and the Iran hostage crisis was a heavy burden for any man, and Carter didn't really get a chance to show what he could do in office. Given his more recent statements about world events and the Bush Administration, I'm glad we didn't.
George H. W. Bush - The more I research the Bush family, the more I realize how ugly and milquetoast they can be. The elder Bush exemplifies this. His "read my lips, no new taxes" promise got broken because he neglected to get the Democrats to stick to any agreement they had with him. Not exactly the sign of a strong leader. And had it not been for Bush the Elder listening to the UN over his generals, would we even remember who Saddam Hussein was?
Bill Clinton - What can I say about Slick Willy that hasn't already been said? Clinton's greatest accomplishment as President was that he managed to keep his pants on most of the time. You can point to small things, like the passage of the Family Medical Leave Act or signing the Brady Bill into law, but Clinton really never wowed us on the big stage. I think it's because Clinton never realized the potential he had as President. Think about it. He could have had any number of starlets giving him all sorts of pleasure, but he chooses Monica Lewinsky? If that alone doesn't tell you how ineffective Clinton was, nothing will.
George W. Bush - This guy is perhaps the most frustrating man ever to be President. The man understands events on levels most people don't even consider, but does he articulate it? Nope! He just assumes we'll come around sooner or later. That's the same kind of blasse attitude that got his dad put out to pasture in 1992 and it's screwing up the war on terrorism in a big way. And then on some issues, like illegal immigration, the dude's completely clueless! And you never know which Dubya you're gonna get from issue to issue.
Put simply, Ford's death signaled the death of Presidents who were significant, who lead the country with vision and courage. What we're left with now are Presidents and former Presidents who we don't really respect because we can look down on them and laugh. Some, like Carter and the elder Bush, really don't like to be ridiculed. Others, like Clinton, love it because it makes them the center of attention.
But this doesn't make the country better. If anything, it weakens us at home and abroad. If we settle for a guy who makes us laugh over one who makes us want to work to make the country great, we're selling ourselves short. On the international level, we're still the world's only superpower, and we don't convey that very well with someone who isn't taking the responsibilities of being a superpower seriously. The minute we started replacing leaders with jesters is the minute we stopped living up to our potential as a country.
The only way to change this is to change our expectations. Instead of pulling the lever for someone we think is cute or who will vote for some or most of the issues that are important to us, we need to start voting for men and women who want the best for America, not their party or their wallets. Yes, I know that will require us to forego watching "Survivor" a time or two while we brush up on the candidates, but trust me it will be worth it. One person can change the world by simply leading and encouraging us to follow.
Gerald Ford was just such a man. Let's just hope he's not the last.
Recently, it came out that Nancy Pelosi will be having four days of events celebrating her becoming the first female Speaker of the House, pending the actual vote count formality that will happen in January. There will be some by-invitation-only events and Tony Bennett will sing for Madame Speaker (with "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" being allegedly scratched from the playlist).
But remember one of Madame Speaker's things she wanted to do in the first 100 hours of her reign: write rules to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation." Yet, on the second day of her celebration, she will be having tea with 400 women politicians and activists. Then, after she's voted in as Speaker of the House, she's holding an invitation-only "People's House" function at her offices, which I'm sure will be attended by well-heeled people in DC.
I could be wrong on that, and I'll apologize if I am, but I don't think I am. I understand how Washington politics works. Whenever someone rises to power like Pelosi did, it isn't because that person is the best one for the job. Behind every successful politician is a group of people who will be expecting favors in return, and Pelosi is no exception. And now that she has leverage, these same people will be expecting payback for the support they've given her in the past.
And what better way to show one's appreciation than to throw exclusive events, thus making those people fortunate enough to score invitations look and feel like real power brokers?
Clearly, Nancy Pelosi is a woman of the people. The question I have is which people.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I'm not thrilled by all the "Who will run in 2008?" talk because it's still too early to tell. In an occupation where two weeks is a political lifetime, two years might as well be two millenia. Anything could happen between now and 2008. John McCain could have his own "Dean Scream" moment. Barak Obama might prove himself to be more than an empty suit with an unfortunate-sounding name. And Ralph Nader might come out of nowhere and win it all. (Okay, some possibilities are more unlikely than others, but it could happen.)
In the meantime, let's consider something else: not talking about 2008 before it's even late 2007. Besides, we have plenty of other important topics to discuss. The war in Iraq. President I'madinnerjacket in Iran. Whether TomKat will stay married longer than it takes for Britney Spears and K-Fed to get a divorce.
So, with all due respect to the political junkies out there jonesing for a good 2008 Presidential candidate chat, KNOCK IT OFF!
Monday, December 25, 2006
Am I disappointed that I didn't get a white Christmas? A little. Bing Crosby aside, having snow on the ground or even just coming down at Christmas is magical. On a cold winter night, when the sky is clear and the air is crisp, it makes the world peaceful for a little while, if only in your mind. Winter isn't over by a long shot, so I'm sure I'll have one of those moments soon enough.
Christmas isn't about disappointments, though. It's about promises fulfilled. We remember to celebrate Jesus's birth, but we don't think about it in a larger context. With His birth, Jesus made God's covenant binding. Jesus would walk the Earth and be sacrificed to save all of us. That's beats a Wii any day of the week. Think about the implications of that one sacrifice. If you need help, read the oft-quoted John 3:16 and let it sink in. How many people do you know who would give up someone dear to save humanity both in the present and for generations to come? I can't think of any, but God did and he did it out of love.
If you're not a Christian, the message of promises fulfilled also applies. Right around the corner is New Year's Eve, when we can all reflect on the past year and make plans for the new year. Some of them, like losing weight, are tougher than others. But many of us still do it because we believe in the power of promise and redemption. We believe we can change for the better because...we have faith.
Bridging the gap between Christians and non-Christians in a single blog post. Cool.
Well, I'd best get back to packing up and driving. I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Belated Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Boxing Day, and for the politically correct amongst you... MERRY CHRISTMAS. :-)
Sunday, December 24, 2006
But until today I've never really thought about why it's weird. You might not know it if you've read my stuff, but I'm really a humble guy who sees himself as just an average person. I've had some pretty amazing things happen, but I firmly believe I'm not really all that special. I have gifts, sure, but they aren't singular to me. There are people out there who do what I can do, and a lot better than I do it. Knowing that keeps me from becoming an egotistical monster.
On the other side of the coin, though, is an understanding of my gifts with the spoken or written word. It takes a lot of courage to put anything out there for public consumption, especially when what you say can be criticized for one reason or another. It's not as courageous as pulling people out of a burning building or being a police officer, mind you, but it's not something for the faint at heart. The fact that I can express myself and do so without being concerned about the slings and arrows of anonymous pot shots is pretty special.
In the end, though, I'm just happy that people remember me at all. Oh, and the fact my parents didn't change the locks.
But is it really charity?
On the one hand, it most definitely is. After all, you're giving of yourself to help others. At some basic level, the big production number does meet the definition of charity. It may be gaudy and over the top, but it is charity to a point.
On the other hand, charity isn't really about how you look to the rest of the world. J. C. Watts once defined character as what you do when nobody's looking, and I think that concept applies to charity as well. If you would have donated without considering the attention it would bring to you, then you're getting into the spirit of giving. That's when charity truly begins, in my opinion. When you give not out of obligation, but out of genuine desire to help others, you're acting out of charity.
Whether you're planning a big holiday charity gala or simply dropping loose change into the red buckets of the Salvation Army, keep in mind why you do it and strive to make it more about those you help than about helping yourself.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
For the record, I'm not someone who feels shopping is a hobby. When I go into a store, I know what I want to get most of the time and try to make my way in and out as quickly as possible. Today, however, I had money, but no real set item or items to buy. This was purely a pleasure trip. And when I go out to shop for pleasure with no set time limit, things can get messy.
At first, I wanted to buy something that would be fun for me. I'm still very much a kid at heart, so my first trip was, naturally, to the toy section. Pacing up and down the aisles and dodging around shoppers and shopping carts parked in inconvenient locations, I came up empty. Next, I went to the electronics section and looked for a CD or DVD. More pacing and dodging, and still nothing that made me want to buy it straight away.
After a couple more passes in both departments, I went to the book section and found something that caught my eye. With my finding faith in God again, I wanted to get a new Bible. I already have a King James Version, but I wanted a New International Version, since it's the version my church uses. And since I'm still green in spiritual matters, I wanted a study bible.
And there it was. An NIV Study Bible within reach and within my price range. But still...it didn't cry out to me "Buy me, ya big lug!" So, I retraced my steps and went back to the toy and electronics sections. As I was about to buy a three-pack of PlayStation 2 games on sale for $10, I realized...I was doing the very thing I disliked others doing when I was shopping.
Once I realized that, I made a decision and bought the NIV Study Bible. Sure, it's not as fun as a remote controlled car or a video game, but I think it's a better investment overall. And I learned an important lesson about showing a bit more understanding towards others. I know the other shoppers aren't purposely trying to block the aisles or get in my way; they're there for the same reason I am. If I can't show a bit of compassion to a fellow traveller in a huge retail chain store, what kind of man would I be?
A grumpy one, but with a new Bible.
Take Gary Coleman, for example. At one time, he was the highest paid child actor in history. However, his parents and other adults took sizable chunks out of the money Gary was making. By the time Gary found out and tried to take legal action, it was too late, and he had to sue to get even a fraction of the money back that his parents stole from him. Now, his parents and the adults in his life are rich...and Gary's reduced to working as a security guard and making occasional appearances on reality TV shows.
Another common thread connecting the lives of former child stars is drug and alcohol abuse. Todd Bridges, the late Dana Plato, Drew Barrymore, Tatum O'Neill, Adam Rich, and many others experienced the highs of being a child star, which lead to the highs of the more illicit kind, often at an early age. And, of course, the parents never see it coming. Maybe it's because they're too busy soaking up the limelight (and whatever booze and drugs are available at the parties their kids are invited to) to notice.
Fortunately, some child stars don't fall victim to the trappings of excess and manage to do quite well once the limelight is off of them. Others manage to continue on in their chosen craft, while others put it aside, either temporarily or permanently, to make something of themselves other than being known as a former child star. Take Kirk Cameron, for example. He was one of the hottest teen stars in the late 80s and early 90s. He had girls screaming for him, money in the bank, and more than a little sway in determining his future. Yet, he turned his life over to God when he was 17 while he was still on "Growing Pains." After the show went off the air, Kirk started his own ministry and has spent his adult life trying to enrich the lives of others. Not too shabby for a guy whose character hung out with a guy named "Boner" huh?
One has to wonder where the parents of child stars go wrong. I've often said it's because the parents are trying to fill a void in their own lives by living vicariously through their children. Even the parents of local celebrities, like child sports stars or child beauty pagent contestants, fall victim to envy or greed. The soccer moms and baseball dads who take their childrens' performances on the field a little too seriously are only variations on a theme.
Fortunately, though, I think parents are getting smarter when one of their children becomes famous. They do their best to separate the business side of their childrens' lives with the family side. Some make incredible sacrifices without looking to score anything more than an "I love you" from the child. Keisha Knight-Pulliam, formerly of "The Cosby Show," understood that and insisted on going to school and to college after the show went off the air because she felt she needed something to fall back on. A credit to her and her parents for being smart on that one. And more and more parents are moving in that same direction to ensure their child stars don't wind up like so many others.
Show business can be a surreal and crushing business if you're an adult. Now, imagine being a child and having to deal with all of those pressures long before you have an intellectual and maturity level capable of dealing with them. Then, throw in tagalongs and parents who may or may not have the child's best interests in mind, and what you have is a formula for disaster. If you're one of those parents who push their children to do a lot, ask yourself why. Is it because they want to do it, or is it because you want to do it. And be honest with yourself. Otherwise, you could just be setting up your child to fail.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Anyway, here's my list.
- Mom and Dad. They brought me into this world and to this day they're still teaching me about life.
- My brothers Al and Gary. Without my brothers to cheer me on or give me good-natured ribbing, I wouldn't be nearly as fun as I am. Plus, we are there for each other no matter what.
- Ronald Reagan. Reagan was the quintessential Midwestern boy done good. No matter how successful he was or who he rubbed shoulders with, he never lost the values he had. I hope I grow up to be just like him.
- P. J. O'Rourke. If you haven't read his stuff, do it. He's the one who convinced me that politics is too serious a topic not to make fun of it.
- Kevin Smith. What P. J. O'Rourke is to literature, Smith is to movies. Once you dig past the crude humor, you see someone who has a passion for filmmaking even after all of these years. We should all be so lucky.
- George Carlin. My comedy mentor. Carlin was one of the first comedians I listened to on a regular basis when I was a kid, but it's not just his comedy that makes him a role model for me. It's how he fearlessly approaches life. He doesn't care if he offends one person or one hundred. He has an opinion and he's not afraid to share it.
- Neil Peart. I have to include the drummer/lyricist for Rush as one of my role models because his reaction to fame and recognition is not so different from mine. By keeping a healthy distance from the temptations of celebrity, Peart manages to keep his feet on the ground and his artistry with both drums and lyrics pure.
- The late Pat Loreto. One of my dearest friends in the world, and the woman responsible for keeping my connection with God open. I lost her a couple of years ago to cancer, but her spirit and her spirituality have never left me. Because of her, I am the Lutheran man I am today. Although she might not have agreed with my choice of church (since she was raised Catholic), I'm sure she would have loved me all the same.
- Payton Manning. One of the few genuinely good professional athletes out there today. Not only does he perform on the field, but he performs charity work off the field, not because he wants to portay a certain image of himself. He does it because he truly does want to give back to his community.
That's my list. It will change from time to time, but only seems to expand instead of contract. If you haven't done it yet, take a moment to think about who your role models are. You'll learn a lot about yourself when you do.
This got me to thinking about role models. If you look out at society today, you won't find too many people worth elevating to that status. You might be able to find a handful of celebrities, authors, musicians, and sports figures that fit the bill, but most show themselves to be shallow, egocentric monsters. For every Payton Manning, there are at least 2 or 3 T. O.'s. For every Jeff Daniels, there are two or three Gwynneth Paltrows. For every B-52s, there are two or three Diddys. And for every P. J. O'Rourke, there are a dozen Thomas Lindamans.
Without a doubt, we are awash in celebrities, but thirsty for role models. A big reason for that is because role models don't often promote themselves as much as the celebrities do. Compare someone ringing the bell for the Salvation Army to, say, David Arquette. The bell ringer doesn't do it for the fame or the glory, but they go out in all kinds of weather to help people. A good number of celebrities don't do charity unless there's good PR to be had by it or unless it's court-ordered as part of their rehab. Yet, who gets the adoring fans? Three guesses, and all three are "the celebrities."
I'll come up with a list of people I consider to be role models and blog on it later. Until then, take a moment to think about your role models and why they are your role models. Hopefully, you'll find they stand up to scrutiny, but if not it will give you a reason to really think about it.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
May I make a simple suggestion? I know I don't watch "The View" with any regularity, but I've seen enough clips of the show to offer some constructive criticism.
Could you do something about Rosie O'Donnell and Joy Behar, like...oh I don't know...drugging them to the point that they're unconcious and, thus, unable to do the show? Seriously. Whether it's O'Donnell mocking everyone from Donald Trump to Christians (from the ridiculous to the sublime, as it were) or Behar comparing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to Hitler, "The View" has become "The Spew," not just because of the venom being loosed against some people, but because it makes me want to vomit with just how, dare I say it, bitchy the show has become.
From what I understand, "The View" was originally supposed to have a lighter touch to it, dealing with issues that soccer moms would have to deal with in their lives. But over the years, it seems different hosts have used their positions as hosts to attack anyone they don't agree with, such as feminist author Tammy Bruce. And if memory serves me, it was Ms. Behar who went after Ms. Bruce, her claws extended to try to draw rhetorical blood. It may give Ms. Behar a chuckle or warm the cockles of Ms. O'Donnell's heart, but is it good television?
If you look at the ratings, the answer is yes. Since O'Donnell's arrival as co-host the ratings have skyrocketed. But is that because people like Rosie, or is it because they're waiting for the next train wreck caused by her mouth? A recent poll ranking the most unpopular talk show hosts on the air right now has Rosie ranked 5th, so I'm guessing it's not because she's beloved.
Simply put, "The View" needs to be revamped, and an O'Donnell-Behar-ectomy is just what the doctor ordered. But since they both have contracts with ABC, give them their own morning talk show. And I have just the name for it.
And we thought John Kerry flip flopped more than an IHOP cook on speed working straight commission?
Bush's recent statement was monumentally stupid on a couple of levels. Obviously, his critics are going to jump on the first half of his statement to say, "See? Even President Bush says we're losing! We've been right all along!" And believe me they have no problem twisting what the President says and does to "prove" their point. Case in point: Michael Moore in "Fahrenheit 911" which wasn't so much of a documentary as it was a series of anti-Bush statements and half-truths wrapped in something that kinda-sorta looked like a documentary. To claim we're winning and losing at the same time only helps those who are predisposed to oppose the war effort. Dumb.
But the true stupidity of the statement can be seen when we consider what this does to the troops. A leader is someone who inspires others to follow his vision. Bush had that after 9/11 and has squandered it with statements that were either half-hearted or, in this case, contradictory. The soldiers on the ground don't want to feel as though their sacrifices aren't worth anything. They get that sentiment enough from the Democrats in this country. They don't need it from their President, the President that brought war against Iraq in the first place.
I know what the President is trying to do, but let's be honest. Iraq hasn't gone exactly as planned because I feel we underestimated how deep in Saddam's back pocket some of our allies in Europe and Russia were and how crooked the United Nations was. But to say we are losing in Iraq, even if it's followed with a statement to the effect that we're winning is wrong. We are winning in Iraq. You want to see evidence of that? Pick up this week's Newsweek, where they are admitting the Iraqi economy is booming and the government is thinking about implementing tax cuts. For a country allegedly in the throes of civil war, a booming economy is the last thing the anti-war side wants to see, but it's happening. Bush should be out front saying, "You chumps think we're losing? Newsweek says the Iraqi economy is expanding. Take that, you surrender monkeys!"
Of course, that would mean Bush would have to be willing to defend the earlier statement he made, which was far closer to the truth than people care to admit.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
After tackling the big issues, like Miss USA not being fired, I wanted to do something a little lighter. (Any lighter and I'd be an anorexic albino, but I digress.) I'm going to talk a bit about my hometown of Janesville, Iowa.
Janesville is a small town in northeast Iowa near larger communities like Cedar Falls, Waterloo, and Waverly. If Norman Rockwell ever needed a backdrop for a painting, Janesville could certainly fit the bill. In Janesville, kids could play outside and not worry about being shot at in a drive-by or being abducted. We look out for each other. We're not just neighbors; we're friends in ways that transcend mere geographic location.
Nothing brought this point home more than watching how the people of Janesville rallied behind my parents over the past couple of years. When my mom fought breast cancer, the people were there cheering her on and offering to do whatever needed to be done to make my mom's recovery even an iota more comfortable. When my dad went into the hospital after a nasty fall, the people cheered him on and shared in our amazement as he made a more rapid recovery than expected. In a world where people are as likely to lie to your face as they are to spit on you (and in some cases, they'll do both), it's nice to know that there are still people out there who really care about people and don't do it as a means to get something out of it.
Needless to say, this has had an impact on my way of life in ways I have yet to fully understand, but one that I fully appreciate. So much of what I am is derived from my family and my hometown. Optimistic, honest, humble, fair, intelligent, caring...all traits that I drew from growing up in Janesville. No matter where I travel, no matter how many years I live in Des Moines, Janesville is home.
Which brings us to what exactly home is. To me, home is both a physical structure and a mental state. You need the former for the physical and emotional needs everybody has. But even a physical structure needs something more, an emotional investment, no matter how small. A hotel room at the finest hotel in the world can't provide it, but an apartment, house, or even a trailer home can. And in some cases, even an apartment, house, or trailer home can't provide it. Home is a state of mind and heart, even moreso than it is a physical structure. In short, it's like a love affair, but instead of being with a person, it's with an idea and a place all in one.
And for a few days in December, just as I do every time I come back, I will be rekindling my love affair with my home, Janesville.
Speaking of hair, at the epicenter of this situation is Donald Trump, a not-so-great-Gatsby type who has made more out of little actual talent than Paris Hilton. Yesterday, Trump got to appear magnanimous with a heart as big as all outdoors (and with a hairpiece to match) by talking about second chances and comebacks. He should know all about second chances. He's been given enough of them after filing bankruptcy so many times. But that's not the point.
The point I want to make is that we've been suckered yet again by the media and the stars that inhabit their universe. I have a simple rule: if Donald Trump is involved in any way, it's guaranteed to be a PR stunt or be turned into one. Does it really matter whether Conner kept her title as Miss USA? Not really. But because Trump was involved, the media thought it did, so they convinced others (namely us) that it was.
And here's something else to consider. We really don't expect that much out of beauty queens. Show up, look good, say a few prepared words, have some photos taken, and that's pretty much it. To pump up their value to the world like Trump tried to do here is folly.
Listen, I think it's great Conner's going to rehab to address her drinking problem (as well as hopefully working with her to discern the difference between her nose and her hair), but it doesn't make her a hero, nor does the fact she was chosen Miss USA. Thanks to Trump, though, she was one Bette Midler song from being turned into the latest American hero. (Yeah. I don't know what "The Rose" has to do with this situation, either.)
And we're more than likely going to be willing to follow Trump down this yellow brick road because we feel for Conner's situation. The thing is Trump isn't really Dorothy in this land of Oz; he's Oz, and he's hoping we don't pay attention to the man behind the curtain because once we do, we realize he's full of crap.
In a war between Christians (Serbians) and Muslims (ethnic Albanians), we chose the Muslim side because of "ethnic cleansing." After about six months of bombings, killing many people including 2 members of our military due to inept leadership that allowed them to fly a helicopter without much sleep, and seeing Wesley Clark's insane side come out, we pulled out of Kosovo and claimed victory, all the while inadvertently helping al Qaeda by attacking the people trying to curtail their drug-dealing efforts being funneled through Kosovo.
Flash forward to yesterday. In a discussion about whether the Clinton Administration went after al Qaeda, a chatroom denison said there was no connection between the war in Kosovo and al Qaeda because...the 9/11 Commission said so. The same 9/11 Commission that was mystified by Able Danger. The same 9/11 Commission who had 2 Clinton Administration apologists on the panel, including the former second in command at the Defense Department, who would certainly have a vested interest in whitewashing the failures of her boss on this front.
Can you see where I'm going with this? If not, that's part of the problem. Our intelligence available at the time of the Kosovo debacle showed the al Qaeda link to Kosovo, and this wasn't top secret information, either. A simple search on the Internet and digging through the results lead me to my conclusion. And if I can do it, anybody who wants to can do it.
The thing is few people want to do it. To them, Kosovo is far off in the mists of time, never to be pondered again. Yet, contrary to the chatter's and apparently the 9/11 Commission's opinion, it did and does play into the current war on terrorism in ways we don't know and most of us aren't willing to find out. Needless to say, this lack of understanding helps the terrorists because they can continue to operate in secrecy while we keep our eye on "important things," like TomKat's wedding or Britney Spears partying with Paris Hilton. And if we rely on the 9/11 Commission or any other government-created entity for that matter to keep us informed, we will be constantly disappointed once we find out the truth.
Provided we care enough to find out the truth, that is.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Can we please drop the references to Hitler and Nazis until Hitler and Nazis were actually involved?
The latest occurance of an unnecessary Hitler reference came from that well-known political thinker, Joy Behar. On a recent episode of "The View," Behar commented on Time naming everyone as Man of the Year, when she said the following:
Who would you have put? [after a brief interruption of other hosts talking] You have to put...You have to put, like, a Hitler type on there. Like, you put a Donald Rumsfeld there or something.
She chuckled and then looked shocked when the audience rightly booed her. And then she tried to cover herself by saying the Man of the Year should be someone who could get a reaction. Wow, for once it wasn't Rosie O'Donnell making a complete ass of herself.
It's a common refrain among the faux left. Bush is Hitler. Cheney is Hitler. Rumsfeld is Hitler. And if they aren't saying it, the faux left implies it as heavily as they can. But they don't stop to think about the fact that they're making the Nazi/Hitler references...without being rounded up by secret police and arrested or worse. You can hint around at it by making references to Gitmo and the Patriot Act, but they don't quite fit upon further review. And if they don't quite fit, they can't be used to prove the Bush Administration's alleged Nazi tendancies.
So, the only thing I want for Christmas from the world is a moratorium on Hitler and Nazi references unless we actually are discussing Hitler and Nazis.
Failing that, I'll take a hot redheaded woman. Then, I'll be too busy to think about how the faux left is misusing history for political ends.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Obviously, if we knew then what we know now, there wouldn't have been a vote, and I certainly wouldn't have voted that way.
The smartest First Lady ever, ladies and gentlemen. Be sure to tip your wait staff.
Clinton is the latest Democrat to use the old hidden vote trick: distance yourself from the vote you're ashamed of and hope nobody remembers. Unfortunately for Hillary, some of us do remember, and they're not limited to Republicans. Democrats have long had a problem with her 2002 vote and they've used it as a means to campaign against her in the hopes of getting someone else as the 2008 candidate. I hate to break this to ya, but Hillary's got the nomination if she wants it. She and Bill have laid a pretty good groundwork to force their will on the DNC and the Democrats, and if she wants it, there is no one who can stop her. Not Howard Dean, not John Kerry, not even George Soros.
Some have suggested this is a political move. Well, gee, the Clintons are purely political animals, so that's a pretty good conclusion. She's trying to shore up the left-leaning base by playing the regret card. But I guarantee you there wasn't an ounce of regret in her when she cast the 2002 vote. For her, it was the right decision at the time, just as it's the right decision now to disavow the vote.
But that's the easy analysis and where most people are going to stop. There's something else that has to be noted. We have a Senator and a possible Presidential candidate who voted on a resolution to go to war without stopping to consider the entire matter. Granted, given the sheer size of the bills Congress puts forth it's entirely possible that she never really had time to read the resolution and let it sink in. But the fact is she didn't think it through when she had a chance and is now trying to erase history to cover up that fact. Sorry, Hill, but you don't get off that easily. If you're going to be portrayed by members of both major parties as intelligent and on top of the facts, you can't pull the stunt you did.
Besides, John Kerry may sue you for copyright infringement. He's the one who does the flip-flopping, remember?
Sunday, December 17, 2006
A few months ago, some Sudanese immigrants approached my pastor to join my church. This produced an incredible opportunity for outreach and sharing our respective cultures. A bit more understanding of the situation in Sudan came to light today at the church Christmas party. After the meal, the man responsible for seeking out my church gave a presentation about the religious strife between Muslims and Christians in Sudan. As much as I thought I knew about the situation, I still learned a couple of things.
First, I learned Sudan and Darfur's implications on the global war on terrorism. Sudan is split into two sections right now: the north, controlled by Muslims, and the south, controlled by non-Muslims. The north has been pounding on the south, as can be expected with extremist Muslims. We think of the war on terrorism in places like Afghanistan or Iraq, but not in Sudan. Yet, Sudan is as much of a front in the war on terrorism as any. If the Muslims succeed in their push to wipe out non-Muslims in south Sudan, it will become another situation we'll have to address sooner or later. And with some in Washington not too keen on how we've fought the war on terror so far, I'm pretty sure we'll address it later rather than sooner.
However, not all of today's lessons were so pessimistic. As I watched the Sudanese talk to members of my congregation and their children running, laughing, and playing with the other children, I realized they're really not that different than I am. Sure, their skin color is different and we may not be able to understand each other all the time, but these are minor obstacles. The heart transcends cultural lines. Where there is love, there are no insurmountable barriers.
And in my little church in Des Moines, the love and understanding abounded.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. You are Time's People of the Year.
Now, before you run off to put that on your resume, let me weigh in on this "honor." Personally, I think Time wussed out with a milquetoast pick. Think of all the people who should have been at least considered. I'll bet if you sat down with a pencil and a pad of paper, you could rattle off more than a few worthy choices. Bill Gates. Tom Tancredo. Me. (Why not? Time made Hitler Man of the Year once, and I'm a shade better than he was.)
Here's the other thing to consider. Managing Editor Richard Stengel said that if Time had had to choose one person to be Person of the Year, it would have been Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but he balked at the choice, saying, "It just felt to me a little off selecting him." Ya think? A nutjob who says Iran has a right to be a nuclear power and who denies the Holocaust ever happened was "a little off"? That's like saying Michael Moore is just a little chunky.
Time put itself between Iran and a hard place. (I would have said Iraq, but that would have been too obvious a joke.) Instead of making a decision and sticking by it, they chose a warm and fuzzy choice that would make everybody happy. Well, except for me, that is. If the alternative was President Imadinnerjacket, I'm not sure I want to have the "honor" of being one of Time's People of the Year.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
- A faux liberal in a chatroom told me that Senate rules prohibit the Governor of South Dakota from taking action. They don't, as they don't extend to the selection of Senators. That detail is handled by the states, and the Governor controls the state. Which brings us to this chestnut...
- Another faux liberal defended Illinois Senator Barack Obama by saying he had as much experience as George W. Bush did. When I pressed him to tell me the name of the bill Obama signed into law, he couldn't, but maintained a Senator has more experience running a government than a Governor.
- On the Washington Post's message board, a poster quoted Wyoming law as a means to show what the Governor was required to do should Johnson be unable to participate in the Senate. One tiny problem: Johnson is from South Dakota, so Wyoming law wouldn't apply.
- Another chatroom denison suggested that there be a law forcing the Governor to pick a replacement Senator from the same party as the Senator being replaced because the voters voted in the Senator and the people's will should be done. Of course, the passage of such a bill would remove the will of the people from the equation...
And there are plenty more. Pretty scary knowing that these folks can vote, huh?
Listen, I know keeping up with the workings of government is less exciting than Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" read by Ben Stein reprising his role from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," but it's essential to making informed decisions. Politicians count on us being uninformed so they can take away a few more of our liberties and line their pockets accordingly. Let's not forget that before the election, polls showed that many Americans don't even know the three branches of government and what they do. But tell them to recount the twists and turns on "Lost" and they're golden.
And if the adults can't be counted on to do their homework, what kind of message does that send to their children? Not a very good one, I'm afraid. I saw the problem in the 8th grade when I saw many of my fellow students struggle with basic concepts of how our government worked. And we've only slipped further and further behind in recent years. Give a kid a cell phone or a computer and they can do marvels. Give them a multiple choice test on the government and they freeze.
So what can we do? Get off our duffs and learn a thing or two about how our great government project works. Then, we need to impart that knowledge to as many people as possible. Hopefully then we can have a government we can be proud of instead of one we merely tolerate.
Then, the invitation changed from a one-man show to a debate with Harvard law professor and lawyer Alan Dershowitz. This got Carter upset and he cancelled his appearance. It wasn't the fact that he was scared to debate Dershowitz that caught my eye so much as it was what Carter said.
"I don't want to have a conversation even indirectly with Dershowitz. There is no need ... to debate someone who, in my opinon, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."
Furthermore, he said the university's debate request was proof that many Americans aren't willing to hear an alternate viewpoint about the Israel/Palestine situation. He took it a step further by saying, "There is no debate in America about anything that would be critical of Israel."
To his credit, Dershowitz seized on Carter's statement and said, "President Carter said he wrote the book because he wanted to encourage more debate; then why won't he debate?" It's a legitimate question, and I have a legitimate answer.
Carter doesn't want debate on Israel; he wants to be able to bash Israel freely and without anyone of any credibility to question him. I don't agree with Dershowitz on a lot, but I will be the first one to admit he's not a dumb man. And with him being Jewish, I think it would add an interesting perspective on the Israeli/Palestinian situation, one I don't think Carter has fully considered. But that perspective won't be heard by Carter because he's pulling the "I know more than you do" card. This is something the faux left does when they want to squelch debate on a subject they're afraid of getting creamed by someone who might know more than they do on the subject the faux liberal is claiming intellectual superiority on. No matter what Carter says to the contrary, he cannot match Dershowitz's life experience, and that's what Carter can't accept.
But you really don't need to be a self-professed expert on Palestine to be one up on Carter. Go to any current world map or globe and try to find Palestine. It's not there. The only reason people like Carter mention Palestine is as a means to attack Israel for "stealing" the land, thus giving the Palestinians the presumed moral high ground. After all, according to the faux left, it's the Palestinians' land, so they have a rightful claim to it. Color me a cynic, but I want to see the deed to the land showing they own it before I hand over one square inch of it to the Palestinians. No deed, no property. It's as simple as that. Carter obviously feels differently and wants to hand over the land not because of any legitimate claims, but because of some odd disdain, if not hatred, of Jews.
And that's an area where Carter certainly can claim to be an expert.
Friday, December 15, 2006
This, along with other problematic events like the alleged rape victim's timeline not matching with the events, has uncovered some ugliness to this case. But nothing so ugly as how we treat accused rapists. We've been conditioned to think that "innocent until proven guilty" actually means "guilty until proven innocent" because we've been told for years that women wouldn't lie about being raped.
This brings us to a touchy subject: the kind of power women have in a situation like this. Because rape is such a highly personal violation of a woman, we give them the benefit of the doubt in a lot of cases, even in cases when the women may not be telling the truth. This is not to say that every woman who is raped lies about it. What I am saying is that there are women who will take advantage of the power we give them in a situation like this and use it for their own ends. For some, it's money. For others, it's as a way to disavow a bad decision to sleep with a particular guy. For still others, it's motivated by revenge against the guy or against men in general.
Yet, we rarely consider the real victims of bogus rape charges. Duke's lacrosse team pretty much lost a season. Duke University lost a bit of its luster. And the accused? Their lives are pretty much ruined, even if they are exonerated. With the media being the way they are, they have made these young men into targets. And the accusations and sidelong looks never quite go away.
Now that the case against these young men appears to be falling apart, we have to ask what justice there can be for them at this stage. A fair trial may exonerate them, but it will never be enough. A suit against the accuser may get them montary awards, but it will never be enough. Because of a dishonest woman, an overzealous District Attorney, and a media willing to be accomplices in this scheme, the Duke lacrosse team as a whole has been tainted.
I sincerely hope the parties who sought to use this sorrid affair for their own means can sleep at night knowing the damage they've caused. I know if I were in their shoes, I wouldn't.
And today, I'm going to defend Democrat Senator Barack Obama. The resident shrieking harpy of the New York Times Maureen Dowd wrote a piece taking on Obama. What was her main complaint with him? His relative inexperience in government? His position on the war in Iraq? His Presidential aspirations? Nope.
The size of his ears.
Obama took offense to Dowd's comments because he was teased as a child because of the size of his ears. Having been a child who was teased for being overweight, I can tell you those childhood taunts don't fade with time all the time. Some of those taunts stick with you for years and it's hard to overcome those emotional injuries, even into adulthood. Ask any child star who has had trouble with the law.
After a speech in New Hampshire, Obama had a chance to talk to Dowd about the jabs she took at him for having big ears. What was Dowd's response?
"We're trying to toughen you up."
Yeah. Making an irrelevant point that insults a sitting Senator will really help make Obama ready to handle those mean ole Republicans. Now, he'll just have to worry about the cattiness of those on his side. And that's really what Dowd's comments were. They didn't serve to help Obama at all. They were shallow, mean, and utterly unnecessary.
Just like Dowd herself.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Back when I was a boy, we didn't really have much along the lines of a gaming system. The first home gaming system I remember we had was Pong, and that got old after a while. We even had some of the old Mattel handheld games like Football and Basketball. And they were fun.
But nothing compared to my TinkerToys. I would sit in my parents' basement for hours building robots or airplanes or rocket ships. I didn't need a joystick or a wireless controller to do anything. All I needed were my hands and my imagination. Ditto with my Lincoln Logs or my Hot Wheels cars or my Star Wars action figures.
As I grew older, the toys became more sophisticated and more electroic, but they weren't as much fun as my toys. What they had in technology and lights and sounds they lacked in another important area: the power to inspire. When I played with my TinkerToys, I could build just about anything I wanted if I had the right parts in the right number. What exactly do you build with a Wii? Nothing. And if try to take a Wii apart, you'll get a bunch of microchips that may not work again if you try to put them back together and aren't an electrical engineer.
While we find more and more gadgets to fill our houses, we're missing out on the greatest gadget of all, one that we all have. The human brain. Try as it might, a PS3 can't turn a stick into a sword or a used wrapping paper roll into a lightsaber. The human mind can and still does. Ever see a baby or a toddler on Christmas morning playing with a box instead of the toy it came in? That in a nutshell is the awesome power of the human brain, and it's something we lose when we plug in, turn on, and plop down with a PS3.
Look at it this way. A PlayStation 3 or Wii will eventually stop working or will fall out of favor when the next "must have" video game system comes out, which speaks volumes about its impact on a child's life. Fire a child's imagination, and he or she will have a gift that never breaks, never gets boring, and will always be remembered.
Given that, the PS3s and Wiis don't stand a chance.
With Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) apparently having a stroke, this sets up an interesting situation in the Senate. Let me say up front that I wish Senator Johnson a full recovery or as full a recovery as possible. Having a stroke is serious business, and it can truly incapacitate someone. Nobody wants Johnson to die as far as I know, not even those who would stand to gain politically from it happening.
The interesting situation I mentioned earlier involves Senate control. Right now, the Senate has a 49-49-2 split, not a 51-49 split as has been reported in the media time and time again. If Johnson were to resign due to health issues or to die in office, the Governor of South Dakota would have to choose a replacement. And the Governor of South Dakota is a Republican. Although there's no rule saying he has to do it, if he chooses a Republican, it creates a Senate split of 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and 2 Independents. If the Independents vote with the Democrats (always a dicey thing when you consider Joe Lieberman), it creates a 50-50 tie. The Constitution states that when there is a tie in the Senate, the Vice President acting as President of the Senate casts the deciding vote.
In short, the Democrats lose what they worked so hard to gain if Johnson has to step down for one reason or another. It doesn't give me joy to consider the possibility, but it has to be considered.
And to those who said I was stupid for saying Democrats didn't really have a majority in the Senate, you can post or email me your apologies. :-)
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Listen, there are some uncomfortable truths we humans have to deal with. The rise of slavery. The Spanish Inquisition. William Hung's singing career. But we can't ignore them away, no matter how hard we try.
Take a look at the guest list of this freak show. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran. Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, one of the founders of Hezbollah. Michele Renouf, an Australian socialite who supports those who don't think the Holocaust happened. And America's favorite bigot, David Duke! Now, let's run this list through the Thomas Lindaman Credibility-Meter.
Racist anti-Jewish nutjob. Racist anti-Jewish nutjob. Racist anti-Jewish nutjob. And racist anti-Jewish nutjob. Great work there, President Imadinnerjacket. The world will be beating a path to your door for your work in providing a completely balanced view of the Holocaust. (By the way, that was sarcasm.)
This reminds me of the UN Summit about racism a few years ago where the UN spent a lot of time bashing Israel (i. e. the "Zionists") for their "racism." They even let PLO leader Yassir Arafat speak without being laughed out the door. Then again, they let Kofi Anan run the UN, so you know they have a sense of humor.
Anyway, there are millions of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust alive today, the tattoos on their arms still visible. I'd love for Duke or Imadinnerjacket to head to the Holocaust Museum and make those statements in public, but they never will. They'll find some out-of-the-way spot of the world so they can have their privacy to be as antisemitic as they want to be and still be protected from anyone who knows more than they do.
Like any fourth grader.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Then, the imans got greedy and decided to...that's right, seek for an out-of-court settlement from US Airways. Seems these guys who had no problem mouthing off about how bad the Bush policy in Iraq was and yelling "Allah Allah Allah" need money to make their "pain" go away.
Enter the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The imans were originally going to meet with the airline December 4th, but they backed out and got CAIR involved. Now, with CAIR on their side, they're going for the big bucks.
If recent history with groups like CAIR is any indication, US Airways is going to fold and try to contain the PR hit they think they've taken. I'm no lawyer, but I think the fact that the six iman were acting in a way consistent with current security "red flags" pretty much negates any claim they could make about being abused or demeaned. And it takes them out of the Litigation Lotto.
At least, in my world it does. See, if you act like a jerk and get punched, you brought it upon yourself. Our legal system apparently no longer considers that to be a reasonable conclusion, instead preferring to let people get paid for being stupid. And with CAIR pumping up the "poor Muslim victim" angle, this situation is ripe for the imans to get paid.
If there are any representatives of US Airways reading this, I urge you to stand your ground on this one. These guys inconvenienced the majority of the passengers on that plane and did so in a way that caused great emotional strife for them, and for their families. Not to mention, it caused great stress on those of us concerned about another terrorist attack on this country. If anything, the imans should be the ones getting sued.
Say, that's a great idea! Settle out of court with the imans. Then, when they show up to pick up their checks, slap them with lawsuits demanding far more than they were awarded. Heck, sue CAIR while you're at it for being enablers. I'm sure a class action lawsuit or even a series of single suits filed by the other passengers on the plane will make other Muslims wanting to "prove how racist America is" pause and think.
And all I ask is for a portion of the winnings. Not much. Just 10-15%. After all, it was my idea.
I was in a chatroom recently discussing a way out of the war on terrorism. A young woman suggested that we should march and tell the Muslims that we forgive them for attacking us on 9/11 in an attempt to get them to change their minds and their hearts. I could tell her heart was in the right place. She really didn't want us to continue fighting and wanted peace. I don't have a problem with that.
Unfortunately, we have to deal with a harsh reality. The Muslim terorrists who want us dead don't want to negotiate. They don't want to sit down and talk about our differences. They don't want to make nice. They do, however, want us dead.
Not all Muslims are like this. There are many who condemn the actions of their more radical brethren, and rightly so. These Muslims get what America is all about and they LOVE it. Sure, there are jerks who happen to be Muslim and, thus, will test the boundaries of our freedom, but they are the exception, not the rule. These Muslims are ones I can negotiate with without a problem.
Unfortunately, they aren't the ones running the show. Until they do, we have to keep fighting. It's not the best solution, but it's the one that we have to adopt until Muslims make the shift from blowing non-Muslims up to inviting them for potlucks.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky saw that Sea-Tac had up Christmas trees and wanted the airport to install an 8-foot menorah. He went so far as to threaten legal action if the menorah wasn't put up and told the airport to take down the trees within 2 days. The airport complied with the latter request, removing all holiday decorations. The reason given: if they put up the menorah and the Christmas trees, they would have to make considerations for all religions.
After this, Rabbi Bogomilsky said he was appalled at the airport's decision. He said, "Everyone should have their spirit of the holiday. For many people, the trees are the spirit of the holidays, and adding a menorah adds lighto the season." Well, let me tell you, Rabbi, you should have thought of that before you told the airport to remove the Christmas trees.
Of course, the airport isn't out of the woods in my book. They punted in a situation where they could have easily stood their ground and made a statement. First off, why not put up a menorah? It's Hanukkah as well as Christmas this time of year. And don't give me that "if we do it for one, we have to do it for all" crap. How many cultures have a true holiday this time of year? Well, there's Christmas and Hanukkah. Heck, throw in a Kwanzaa bush if you want. Beyond that, I don't think there are any. And if there are, include them. Simple as that.
The problem I see is that we've become conditioned to go out of our ways not to offend that we've compromised our way right out of the holiday season pretty much. We're so paranoid that 1 person out of 1000 is going to take offense that we censor ourselves as to avoid confrontation. In the airport's case, they removed Christmas trees to avoid offending Jews...but they offended Christians in the process. Brilliant!
The only way we're going to change this situation is to realize that there is a good likelihood that something we say or do is going to offend someone at some point. Sorry, folks, but we're not perfect. And both the rabbi and the airport have shown us just how imperfect we can be. Neither one is in the right in this case because they've both fallen victim to the "me first" mentality. The rabbi wanting to erect a menorah out of being offended by seeing the Christmas trees gave into his egotism and pushed his single point of view on the masses. The airport wanting to avoid litigation caved in and removed all holiday decorations until well after Hanukkah and Chrsitmas would be over. I call this the tyranny of the minority, meaning that we have single people or small groups of people dictating to the majority how things are going to be.
Well, I'm tired of it. It's as much Christmas as it is Hanukkah, so let's get one thing crystal clear: if you want me to respect your faith, respect mine. And part of that includes allowing symbols of my faith to appear in public, such as an airport. And if you're offended by a Christmas tree or a menorah, remember this. We live in a country where religious freedom abounds. You think a rabbi could get a menorrah put up anywhere near Saudi Arabia? I don't, but he could get it here. That's a signal of how open we are with our freedom of religion. And it's something that doesn't work if we're divided along religious lines.
So, next time you see a story like this where somebody's complaining about a religious symbol in public or a community or industry caving in to the demands of one such minority group, yell three words to them.
MERRY FLIPPIN' CHRISTMAS!
Sunday, December 10, 2006
"The Iraq-Vietnam parallels at this juncture are striking."
"As bad as things may seem now, they can yet become worse, and not just in Iraq.
"The longer we pretend that we have not lost there, the more we risk losing other wars we still may salvage, starting with Afghanistan."
Who would have thought a newspaper run by an avowed far left liberal that hires a former theater critic to comment on world events would be so quick to proclaim the war in Iraq a failure? I mean, it's only been the position the Times has taken since late columnist R. A. "Johnny" Appel, Jr. proclaimed the war in Iraq was a quagmire...on day 2 or 3 of Operation Enduring Freedom.
I know it's not a surprise that the faux left believes we've failed in Iraq and risk failing in Afghanistan. What is surprising is the number of people who believe it as an article of faith that we're losing without taking a moment to look at the whole picture. What the faux left doesn't want us to know is that we have made incredible progress in Iraq that isn't being reported because it's not "sexy" enough for print or broadcast media to report.
Fortunately, I'm not in the print or broadcast media yet, so I have the freedom to state the truth. Here is a brief list of the successes we've had in Iraq.
* toppled a brutal dictator who defied the UN, killed political opponents, and had women and children raped or killed on a whim
* gave the Iraqi people the opportunity to vote for their leaders for the first time in decades
* took out a known link to international terrorism
* restored order and basic services to most of Iraq
* restored rights to women to seek employment and education without fear of government reprisal
Have things gone perfectly? No. There are no perfect wars and there never will be. But does anything that falls short of perfection in war mean we've failed? Absolutely not. That's something the faux left has to suppress to make their point seem valid. Amid the talk of body counts and insurgent strife is the faux left's underlying belief that we are the worst country in the world and that we deserve to fail. In order to get people to believe that we've failed, the faux left has launched a campaign to hype some facts, suppress others, and distort still others.
Why else do you think Rich made reference to Vietnam in relation to Iraq? It's not a throw-away line. It's there to create a link between a war that has been seen as an American failure and the current war, which will make the point that we've failed in Iraq. The connection is, at best, strained, but the faux left doesn't want you to know that. They want you to take it as an article of faith, as something that can't be debated by anyone with any knowledge. But ask yourself this.
If the faux left really had the truth on their side, why would they work so hard to suppress it when it doesn't support their position?
Saturday, December 9, 2006
What exactly is that lie? That Mumia is an innocent victim of a system that puts African-American men in prison far too often. Their proof? Welllll...that's going to be a problem. See, their proof is weaker than the CD sales of a boy band made up of ugly guys without any musical talent. You know, like N'Sync.
Here's what we know from testimony, police reports, eyewitness accounts, etc. You know, the stuff most people consider to be proof?
* Mumia's brother drove wrong way down a one-way street where Mumia was sitting in wait.
* Mumia shot Danny Faulkner once before Faulkner got off a shot that hit Mumia in the stomach.
* Mumia then shot Faulkner several times with a gun that ballistics tests show belonged to Mumia.
* Faulker and Mumia were wheeled into the same hospital, where Mumia screams that he shot Faulker and that he hoped he would die.
* Several eyewitnesses linked Mumia to the scene of the crime.
* Mumia has threatened judges and lawyers in the courtroom, and this has been entered into the court records.
* Mumia has never denied killing Faulker, nor has he tried to mount a defense that would establish his innocence.
Somebody want to explain how Mike Farrell and his Free Mumia friends can overlook all of this? I wish someone could because I'm having a hard time understanding it myself. But here's what I do know. Danny Faulkner is dead and Mumia had something to do with it. Killing a cop, especially in the way Mumia is alleged to have done it (and I'm convinced he DID do it) is horrible to say the least. He's being granted more leeway than he gave to Danny Faulkner, and I think it's time for that to stop.
Free Mumia? Hell no. FRY Mumia.
Friday, December 8, 2006
A fate at the end of a gun wielded by Mumia Abu Jamal.
In the years since Mumia shot Faulkner, he's become a cause celebre for the faux left. He's written books, been a commencement speaker, had a radio show, was scheduled to be a contributor to National Public Radio, and has been made an honorary citizen of Paris and San Francisco. He's also threatened a judge, admitted to killing Faulkner while Mumia was being wheeled into the hospital because of a gunshot wound Faulkner was able to inflict on him before being killed in cold blood, and been granted more appeals than he's worth.
But, of course, Mumia is a victim, according to the faux left. He's a "political prisoner." His trial was "flawed." There were witnesses that "exonerate" him. It's all a "conspiracy to silence a black leader."
That's where the Hollywood Left comes into play. Actors like Ed Asner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and Mike Farrell have all come to Mumia's defense, spouting the usual anti-death penalty lines about how people like Mumia are on Death Row in greater numbers than their white counterparts, thus there has to be racism involved. And because there's racism, there has to be flaws in the trial itself, so we can't put poor, innocent Mumia Abu Jamal to death!
And these arguments would be persuasive...if they weren't pure bull. Mumia shot Faulkner with a gun that he bought. Witnesses testified to Mumia being the one who shot him. Mumia admitted to it and has never once said he's innocent. The only thing keeping him from having Hitler as a bunkmate at Uncle Satan's Happytime Eternal Damnation Camp...is the will to give him the one-way ticket.
I don't have a vested interest in seeing Mumia fried instead of freed, but I do want to see justice done in this case. Faulkner's family deserves closure. Every day Mumia is alive denies Faulkner's family that closure. Twenty-five years is twenty-five years too long. The facts are out there. Mumia did it. Put him out of the Faulkners' misery.
And out of ours.
I first had a chance to see the fruits of Warchick's labor when she submitted columns to my website, CommonConservative.com. I could see in her writing a brilliant combination of intelligence, passion, and ability to articulate a position that is so rare in the world today. I've always been one to appreciate those traits in people, even if I disagree with them politically. Fortunately, I don't disagree with Warchick on that much, and if I did, she has friends in the military and could order a tactical strike on me at any time.
So, why am I mentioning Warchick on my blog? Aside from the tactical strike angle, she thinks highly enough of me to make me a regular guest on her Internet radio show, Warchick Revolution. I've called into her show a couple of times and apparently her audience thought I was pretty good, so I have a spot on her show on Wednesday nights. (I can't figure it out, either, but who am I to go against the will of the people?
If you're interested in listening to Warchick Revolution live or past shows, it can be accessed through BlogTalkRadio.com. If you want to reach her page directly, it's at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hostpage.aspx?host_id=797.
Please give her a listen. She's smart, funny, driven, and entertaining to say the least.
And did I mention she's smokin' hot?
Thursday, December 7, 2006
On a recent edition of "Today," Gore was asked to give his opinions on the Iraq war and he called it "the worst strategic mistake in the entire history of the United States" and said it was "worse than a civil war." Gore went on to say this:
I would urge the President to try to separate out the personal issues of being blamed in history for his mistake and instead recognizing that it is not about him. It’s about our country.
This from the man who put the country through the Florida recount fiasco in 2000 in spite of several recounts being done showing he lost.
Gore's comments strike me as odd, not just because they reveal his purely partisan position on the war, but because they show just how out of touch Gore is. It's not like Gore was that tethered to reality to begin with, but let's review some numbers.
Our involvement in Vietnam related to the Vietnam war lasted from 1945 to 1975 and cost us 58,000 lives. That's a shade over 1933 deaths per year.
Our involvement in Iraq related to the second Iraqi war has been going on since 2003 and has cost us around 3000 lives. Rounding up because it's so close to the 4 year mark, that's around 750 deaths per year.
And 750 is almost 39% of 1933.
So, a conflict that has not even equaled 40% of the annual deaths of Vietnam is a bigger strategic failure? I don't buy it, Al, and those of us who pay attention don't either. And I know of a few other people who also don't buy it. Maybe you've heard of them, Al.
They're called the United States military.
Yes, Al, our fighting men and women have a vastly different view of the Iraq situation because they're actually there and able to see how things are progressing. And from what they're saying, things are going far better than you want to admit. Then again, if the truth were really your intent, you wouldn't be caught exaggerating, which is something that you were warned not to do during your failed 2000 Presidential campaign.
Some lessons are just harder to learn, huh Al?
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
If these guys are so smart, how come they couldn't come up with a better name than "The Iraq Study Group"? It sounds more like an eighth grade after school tutoring program than a Middle East think tank.
Seriously, I have my doubts as to the suggestions offered by the Iraq Study Group, mainly because I don't any "blue ribbon panels" made up of former Washington figures to be all that credible. Whenever you see or hear about a bipartisan committee put together by Congress or some other entity, remember this: former Washington figures are political animals first, bipartisan second, if at all. After hearing some of the preliminary chatter about the Iraq Study Group's report, it sounds like Democrats and Republicans have enough meat to chew on and proclaim victory.
Of course that doesn't help us get out of Iraq any sooner, but that's not really the point. "Blue ribbon commissions" like this aren't out there to solve problems that need to be addressed; they're out there to cover the butts of their respective parties and make pointed statements about the failures of the other side.
Need proof? Does the 9/11 Commission ring a bell? After all the hype and hollering, they produced a report that was so partisan and, dare I say it, so out of date that it was useless. And we paid for that, folks!
I don't know for certain if we paid for the sheer anti-brilliance of the Iraq Study Group, but one thing is for certain. Their report isn't worth jack Personally, it seems to me that they assumed we failed in Iraq was a fait accompli (which is French for either " a done deal" or "We surrender!"). I don't buy that idea because I happen to think we've not only won in Iraq, but we continue to make strides to improve conditions over there. Is it a slow process that has seen its fair share of mistakes? Absolutely. No post-war plan to date has been perfect. But some, namely the anti-war side, seem to think that anything less than perfection is proof that the war in Iraq has been a failure.
I can think of some purple-digited Iraqi voters who would disagree with that assessment. You want proof that we've accomplished something in Iraq, there you have it. Voting is something we take for granted year after year (just ask the Congressional Republicans), but Iraq couldn't do that for years. We changed that, and it has been a boon to the country.
Try telling me that's a sign of failure, Iraq Study Group.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
- You know one 80s and 90s group that I've missed in recent years? Wang Chung. Yes, "Dance Hall Days" and "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" Wang Chung. I was going through my MP3 collection and came across "To Live and Die in L. A.", a song tells a haunting story, has equally haunting music, and a great feel to it. I understand they're still touring, so they're not off the radar yet. If you can't go see them, pick up their greatest hits CD. It gives a nice cross-section of their music, from their early days to their more modern work.
- Britney Spears going out in public with no underwear? I guess K-Fed was more of a drain on her bank account than we thought.
- America puts a ban on luxury items going to North Korea. Smart move, considering Kim Jong Il can get the same stuff from China and Taiwan directly, thus cutting out the middleman, us. Besides, what really constitutes a "luxury item" in North Korea? Non-pre-chewed gum?
- "Snakes on a Plane" was a surprise hit movie, but how will they follow it up? "Rabid Wolverines on a Bus"? "Ill-Tempered Mongooses on the 7:12 Train to Newark"? "Regis and Kelly in a Prius"?
- Is it just me, or does anyone else find the media proclaiming the Iraq situation a "civil war" to be more than a little funny? These cats aren't even out in the field, but they're saying things are deterioriating to the point of violence. Armchair generals are that way for a reason: they've never seen a day of combat in their lives.
- Speaking of the media, how badly does Keith Olbermann's life suck, knowing he's playing second banana to Chris Matthews on a 3rd rated and 4th rate cable news network who occasionally gets beaten by CNN Headline News? You might want to post your resume on Monster pretty soon, Keith. Bashing Bill O'Reilly night after night just doesn't equate to entertainment.
- The best shows on TV right now are "Heroes" and "House." Both are incredibly smart, they suck you into the story, and they keep you wanting more. And most importantly, they're all on basic channels, so I don't have to give up one of my kidneys to get cable.
- "Beerfest" on DVD. Don't ask. Just buy it. You'll thank me later.
- Andy Dick just pulled a Michael Richards recently at the Improv. My sources tell me Sandra Bernhard and other Z-list comedians are on "n-word watch."
- If you're having a stressful time at work or school or around the house, indulge in a guilty pleasure. You'll feel good and recharge your batteries at the same time.
- The New York City Board of Health has voted to ban trans fats at restaurants. Yeah, there's still murder, rape, theft, and crime of all stripes going on, but at least the bad guys won't be able to clog their arteries with post-crime fried food!
Until next time, kids!
Monday, December 4, 2006
Seriously, there are a lot of people to blame for Bolton's resignation. First and foremost, I blame George W. Bush. After getting him appointed through a recess appointment, Bush kinda let him go off on his own. On the one hand, this gave Bolton a chance to show what he could do on the global stage, but on the other, it didn't serve him very well when he was left alone for the wolves to fend for his job. Bush has a problem in that he ignores people he no longer needs or thinks he no longer needs. Bolton is just the latest to see that side of the President.
Certainly, someone else who comes to mind is Lincoln Chaffee, the Republican Senator who could have brought Bolton's nomination to the full Senate. Instead, Chaffee said he wouldn't let Bolton have a full Senate vote because he didn't feel the votes to confirm were there. They may not have been, but that's no excuse to sit on Bolton's nomination. Besides, Chaffee's on the way out, thanks to the electorate, so it's entirely possible he wanted to flex what little muscle he had left to screw Bolton, Bush, and the country.
Finally, the Senate Republicans should be blamed for the Bolton fiasco. They hold the majority in the Senate until January 2007, and they did nothing to help Bolton's case. Not a pro-Bolton campaign. Not a speech to defend his work at the U. N. Not even an email. The Senate Republicans let us down by not sticking up for Bolton. Now, we'll have to go through another confirmation hearing, this time possibly run by Democrats if the Republicans drag their feet until their winter recess. And if you thought the last batch of confirmation hearings was bad, wait until it's the Senate Democrats running the show. It will be a five ring circus with three of them just being Ted Kennedy.
And the sad thing is Bolton has been the best Ambassador we've had in a while. Now, he's gone and we're left without a strong voice in the U. N.
Brilliant move, Republicans. Just absolutely flipping brilliant.
After years of speculation and rumor, Hillary Clinton has finally come down off the fence and is seriously considering running for President...maybe.
Wow, Hill. Way to break the suspense there. I haven't seen this much indecision since Paris Hilton last took a multiple choice test. And the thing is it's all FAKE! Hillary wants to be President and said as much since the days she was "co-President" with the Commander In Briefs, Bill.
This is something she's wanted to be since she was a child, but she couldn't just jump into the fray. She's had to bide her time and try to build up support and credibility for a run. Let's face it, as much positive PR as Hillary's gotten, she hasn't really done that much. Lawyer for the Children's Defense Fund? Not that well known. Lawyer at the Rose Law Firm? Bad memories associated with that, so it would be best left alone. First Lady? Impressive title, but really not as functional for a run at the Presidency.
Then, we get to her most recent accomplishment, Senator from New York. As Senator, Hillary has done what many people at her level do: not much. Although I can't blame her for following the leads of Ted Kenendy and John Kerry, the lack of action doesn't scream to people, "I'm qualified to be President."
Maybe it's my political leanings saying this, but it seems that Hillary's Presidential resume is a bit on the padded side. She has the titles to give the impression of competence, but not the all-important functional knowledge. Even with a media that will put the best spin on her, you can't hide incompetence. I'm living proof of that.
So, Hillary's fake indecision may be a way for her to test the waters and see who will back her for President. In the meantime, we will enjoy the spectacle of watching Hillary appear decisive about thinking about running for President.