Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Gathering of Patriots

Those of you who know me know that I don't promote anything I don't believe in wholeheartedly. For those of you who don't know me...I don't promote anything I don't believe in wholeheartedly. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I wanted to promote an upcoming event with the hopes of sending a good friend there.

But first, a little bit of a history lesson. A few weeks ago, some anti-war liberals took it upon themselves to break through a police line and spray paint messages on the Capitol Building. Apparently, this inspired Jane Fonda and some anti-war protestors to put on an anti-war protest on March 17th in Washington, DC, starting at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall. For those of you who don't know, Fonda was a big anti-war activist during Vietnam and earned the nickname of "Hanoi Jane" for her efforts to help the Viet Cong.

This got Vietnam war vets angry. And when men and women like that get angry, they mobilize. Thus, Gathering of Eagles was born. Their purpose is simple: stand guard over the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall so Fonda and her ilk wouldn't be able to desecrate it. I have been a supporter since I first heard what Gathering of Eagles was going to do. Having been to the Wall a couple of times, I can tell you that it is hallowed ground, ground that deserves to be protected from those who would use it for political purposes that run counter to what our country should be doing.

If you are going to be in the area or would like to participate in some way, you can contact Gathering of Eagles at their website, Even if you can't be there in person, every little bit you can contribute to send someone in your place would be appreciated.

That's where my other appeal comes in. Resa Laru Kirkland, better known as Warchick, is one of the biggest supporters of our veterans, especially the Vietnam vets, that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She would love to go defend her guys, but she lives in Washington State, not Washington, DC. That means she'll need money to fly to DC.

I owe Warchick a lot for giving me a chance to voice my opinions on her Internet radio show. She took a chance on me not sucking and, so far, it's paid off. So, now I want to return the favor. Warchick is asking for donations at her website, If you are so inclined (and I hope you are), please contribute. And for the record, I'm not making a dime off this; this is my way of giving back to someone who has tirelessly given to so many of our forgotten brothers and sisters who served our country in an unpopular war. It's the least I can do for her, and for them.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dr. Do-Very-Little

Famous people tend to rack up the accolades. For example, just the other day I was named U.S. News and World Report's third sexiest man. (Damn you, Alan Greenspan. You win every year!) Some are well-deserved, others not so much.

When I heard Al Gore may get an honorary doctorate from the University of Minnesota in, of all things, climatology, I had to laugh. It had to be a joke, right? Then, I remembered this is academia, and reality is often checked at the door when you enter its hallowed halls. Although it's not usually announced until after the recipient of the honorary doctorate accepts, this somehow got leaked to the public. And I, for one, am glad...mainly because it gives me another chance to make fun of a man whose scientific knowledge is as lacking as the number of dates in my social calendar.

Regardless of your political leanings, an honest appraisal of the global warming debates shows one thing: it's anything but a done deal. No matter what Gore and his followers say, we keep finding evidence to bring the notion of man's causing of global warming into question. As long as there is still doubt, nothing is settled.

A university spokesman gushed over Gore's scholarship on global warming, but I have to call that into question. After reading Earth in the Balance, I came away seeing Gore not as someone who has done a lot of scholarly work on the climate or on science in general, but more as someone who found a couple of nuggets of information and tried to milk them for all they were worth, filling in the rest (read: the majority) of the book with emotional appeals and worst-case scenarios. Let me put it this way. I have little more than a high school education in science and a lot of what Gore wrote didn't make sense to me, not because it was too advanced for me, but because it literally made no sense.

Another point to consider about Gore's "scholarship" in the area of global warming. When Gore debated Ross Perot over NAFTA, Gore crammed. When he was Vice President, he sought out the advice of people he considered to be experts on the subject, had them write up papers, and crammed. See a pattern forming here? Gore tries to come off as intelligent by quoting something seemingly off the top of his head, but it's not. Gore is not a smart man, but he's smart enough to know whose notes to crib.

But I'm not the one to make the ultimate decision on whether to give Gore an honorary degree for his work in climatology; it's the university's. Bestowing an honorary doctorate on someone who doesn't deserve it isn't the end of the world, but it doesn't exactly speak well of the university's academic standards. Then again, if the two universities who gave me degrees aren't disowning me, who am I to judge the University of Minnesota?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy Presidents' Day!

Yes, it's finally here, the holiday everyone's been waiting for, Presidents' Day. Now, we can remember the contributions of the men who have been President, including such unforgetable luminaries like Chester Arthur, John Quincy Adams, and "Mr. Excitement" himself, Millard Filmore.

Today, I'd like to discuss one of the faux left's favorite statements against George W. Bush being the worst President ever. Quite a statement coming from the party that gave us Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson, but one they feel they have to make. If they can't beat him, they'll beat him up in the media.

Is Bush the worst President ever? I don't think so. He's not even the worst in recent memory. Sure, there are some areas where Bush needs some serious help, like the war in Iraq and illegal immigration, but by and large, Bush is doing an okay job. Could be better, could be worse. And given that some of the people we've had as President haven't been that good, doing okay is good enough to keep Bush from the worst President tag.

So, who is? Tough to say. Every President has had a decision or two that have been stinkers, and some more than others. And let's be honest here, our historical perspective isn't that great or long-lasting. We simply lack the knowledge and intellectual curiousity to put Bush in the proper perspective, so calling Bush the worst President ever is like saying "Gigli" is the worst film ever made. Granted, you could make one heck of a case, but you'd have to ignore a lot of stinkers to make that claim.

Enjoy Presidents' Day, folks!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

You Can Call Him Al...

After months of breathless speculation, we've finally heard the important news that rocked the world. Britney Spears went bald.

Oh, and former Err America host Al Franken is running for the Senate against Republican Norm Coleman.

And this treatment of Franken's decision to run as being more of an afterthought is by design. It's no big secret that Franken wanted to run, and given the fact that his radio show, and Err America in general, has flopped more than me diving into a swimming pool, a jump to a Senate run was almost a foregone conclusion.

The political fortunes seem to be with him. After all, Minnesota elected Keith Ellison, so electing Franken isn't that far out of the realm of possibility. And let's not forget that Jesse Ventura was Governor there once, so they're liable to do anything.

Ultimately, though, I think Franken's quest to become a Senator will go the way of his dream of being the liberal version of Rush. He's only moved back to Minnesota fairly recently, but most of the time he hasn't lived there, instead preferring New York City. It's Hillary Clinton in reverse, pretty much. Just watch for Franken commenting about being a "lifelong Twins fan" soon.

Another element that hinders Franken is Midwestern sensibilities. Being a Midwesterner myself, I can tell you that we can sense bullplop from a mile away, and Minnesotans are no different. Unless Franken completely reinvents himself, he is going to come off badly. Then again, the fact he would have to completely reinvent himself in the first place pretty much dooms him, doesn't it?

The final straw to Franken's campaign will be the fact that he doesn't do very well with average people. When he came to Des Moines in 2004 for the Iowa Caucuses, on his trip home, he tried to push ahead of the security line that had already formed, stating that he was an "important person" who should be given special consideration and allowed to go through the security checkpoint before the others in line. Fortunately, the security folks didn't let him do it, but it does show off a side to Franken that doesn't play well with the public. We don't like it when people try to pull the "I'm important" card to make their lives a little easier at the expense of the "little guy." There will be plenty of time to do that if he becomes Senator, but until that time, he has to appeal to the "little guy" and I don't think he can do it.

I hate to break this to you, Al, but I don't think you stand a chance of winning a Senate seat unless Norm Coleman does something stupid. Wait. I'm sorry. I didn't tell the truth just now.

I loved breaking it to you.

Mea culpa.

Friday, February 16, 2007

My Response to the House and Senate

Ladies and gentlemen of Congress (and I use those terms very loosely), I listened with interest as the Democrats and some of the Republicans have decided to send a message to President Bush by proposing, voting on, and possibly passing non-binding resolutions criticizing the President for his proposed troop surge. Along with these non-binding resolutions is a threat to defund the surge.

Of course, none of this actually means anything...

For the uninitiated, a non-binding resolution is Congress's way of making a statement without actually doing anything to back up that statement. In other words, Congress just became John Kerry. No matter what kind of spin the media and the Democrats put on it, the fact both proposals were non-binding signals one thing: Democrats and Republicans who support the resolutions are intellectually dishonest cowards. They can't bring themselves to tell us how they really feel, so they hide behind a rebuke with all the force of a Frenchman's handshake.

But, since you're keen on the non-binding resolutions, I've written one of my own. I hope you like it.


1) Democrats lied to get into office by promising to do things for the American people within the first 100 hours and not delivering,
2) Democrats have been abject failures in waging the war on terrorism,
3) Democrats have openly and privately attacked our soldiers both home and abroad,
4) Democrats have not "drained the swamp" and have, in fact, been found guilty of the very corruption they claim to be fighting in the Republican Party, and
5) the war on terrorism is too important to be left to corrupt, intellectually dishonest, and cowardly people,

That the undersigned do hereby consider Election 2006 to be the non-binding resolution of the American voters. As a result, the results of said election are hereby nullified and new elections are to be held as soon as possible.

Signed this day, February 16, in the year of our Lord 2007,

Thomas Lindaman

Lawrence O'Donnell, The Left's Nostradamus

During the week, I get a daily email from the Huffington Post letting me know what their better-known bloggers are posting. Usually, it's predictable faux liberal drivel. Some of it is funny, some of it is funny unintentionally.

And then there's Lawrence O'Donnell, darling of MSNBC and occasional guest on "The McLaughlin Group." It was on the latter that O'Donnell made the bold prediction that Karl Rove was the source of the leaking of Valerie Plame's name to the press. I remember it vividly because it was delivered with his signature blend of arrogance and faux liberal venom.

Then, Richard Armitage came out and said he was the one who leaked information to Robert Novak. Normally, this would disqualify someone from being a credible prognosticator, but not to the faux left. Because of his clear political leanings, anything he says is to be believed as gospel to the faux left.

Well, O'Donnell's at it again. Putting on his Karnac the Magnificent turban, he made the following prediction on his blog at the Huffington Post.

Libby is guilty. And he's going to be found guilty. The jury might not convict him on all counts, but he has no chance of surviving the perjury count that was proved beyond a reasonable doubt with Tim Russert's testimony.

Previously, O'Donnell also predicted that John Kerry would have no trouble winning the 2004 election, there would be six or seven indictments against Rove, and that Joe Lieberman would be persuaded to drop out of the Senate race last year.

With his stellar record so far, how can we not believe him?

That's the thing I love best about the faux left. No matter how many times they're proven wrong on a subject, they maintain their intellectual superiority and look at you funny if you disagree with them, as though you're the one who has the problem. But it does provide endless hours of entertainment to those of us who are a bit more skeptical.

So, keep making predictions, Lawrence! A broken clock is right twice a day, and eventually you'll figure out what that's like...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Devil We Don't Know

I'm usually a pretty optimistic guy by nature because I've been a pessimist and it sucks out loud. But having looked out at the vast expanse of the not-so-vast knowledge base of the electorate, I'm one step away from paying my tab to society, finding a nice quiet spot in the middle of nowhere, and only going into town for provisions, books, and the occasional appletini.

I don't expect much from the faux left in the area of historical knowledge. Most of the time, anything past last week's episode of "American Idol" is considered ancient history. To expect them to remember events that happened in the 90s is like expecting the Enterprise to go Warp...oh, I don't know...1 billion: it will break apart before anything meaningful will come of it.

I did, however, expect more from Republicans and conservatives. I was and am disheartened by the number of people from the right who don't remember or understand the implications of Kosovo on the current war on terrorism. I mean, we were only helping Muslims and al Qaeda by going after Slobodon Milosevic. Can't see the connection to the current war against radical Muslims and al Qaeda there...

So, why is it important that we know recent and not-so-recent history? Because what we don't know can hurt us, especially when it comes to dealing with terrorism. One of the biggest problems we have right now is that we don't understand our enemy. History can be a guide to what the terrorists may do, if we think to use it. And people on both sides of the political aisle aren't thinking to use it that often, leaving us in a bad spot. That leaves it up to us to pick up the slack, and a lot of the time, we have attention spans shorter than...what was I saying?

Knowledge of the past can also help us understand economics because we can see what worked and what hasn't. That saves time when dealing with socialists. Instead of getting sucked into the neat-sounding rhetoric and wasting years before getting disillusioned or deluded, you would know enough to run away quickly.

Put simply, we need to get on the ball and learn this stuff. The sooner we do, the better we'll be prepared to take on the challenges of the day.

And let me tell you, the ladies love a guy who knows a thing or two about the Stamp Act!

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Dixie Chicks: Not Ready to Make Sense

Last night, the Dixie Chicks seemed to get a measure of revenge over her critics by winning five Grammy awards for their CD "Taking the Long Way Home," including Best Album. In one of the acceptance speeches, head Chick Natalie Maines said the following:

I think people are using their freedom of speech tonight with all of these awards. We get the message.

No, Natalie, you don't. And you continue to miss the point.

You didn't endure what you did to uphold freedom of speech. You never lost it. You were allowed to speak your minds and clarify your statements all you wanted without anyone stopping you. In fact, after your comments in Britain, Natalie, you had a lot of opportunities to talk.

Your freedom of speech wasn't even threatened by radio stations not playing your songs anymore. In fact, you got plenty of opportunities to talk about it to the press, and I don't think you refused any of them.

Seems to me like your freedom of speech was pretty secure. And you didn't win your Grammys because of your commitment to freedom of speech. Those statues didn't even involve freedom of speech. The people who voted for you did so either out of political agreement or because they thought you had the best CD out there. Of course, that's debatable, but I'm not a Grammy voter, so that's neither here nor there.

So, what is the message? That you weren't the free speech martyrs you think you are. What you fail to grasp is that what the radio stations and your former fans did was also an exercise in free speech. Everything you say or do has a consequence on some level. If you make someone mad by something you say, they're not stifling your freedom of speech by telling you off or not listening to you. You still have the right to speak, but that right does not come with an audience. Err America learned that lesson some time ago.

So, Natalie and the rest of the Dixie Chicks, stop trying to paint yourselves as champions of free speech because you've shown those of us who do champion it that your support of it is only one way.

Oh, and by the way, Natalie, it's Nelson Muntz who says, "Ha ha," not "the great Simpsons." To quote Homer Simpson, "D'oh!"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A White's Response to "Black America"

I heard about a program C-Span ran this morning called "The State of Black America" hosted by African-American talk show host and author Tavis Smiley. I didn't see the show, so I can't and won't comment directly on what was said.

What I will comment on is the concept itself. I can see why some African-Americans feel they need to have an event like this to discuss situations they deal with everyday, situations that they feel "white America" just doesn't understand or want to understand. Such an event as "The State of Black America" allows African-Americans to come together and form a vocal community. That's a great idea, in my opinion, and I wholeheartedly agree with the idea.

However, I do have to ask what such an event does in realistic terms. Getting together to vent is one thing, but unless it leads to action to resolve the issues they want addressed, it doesn't accomplish anything. If all that gets done is to blame others for the state of "black America," it doesn't accomplish anything either.

I also have to wonder whether creating and sustaining the concept of "black America" doesn't serve to further divide us. Any time you set up a way to divide people into categories, you run the risk of creating permanent divides. Some divisons can't be helped, but they can be overcome if the parties involved want it to happen. Somehow, people who believe in "black America" just doesn't say to me, "I want to overcome the differences between African-Americans and whites."

The thing that gets me the most about "black America" is the irony of it. Those who set up the intellectual concept of "black America" as a means to separate, at least in part, from the rest of the country are using the very freedoms that we all use. So, they're dividing themselves from the rest of America without really doing anything to set themselves apart from the rest of America.

Dare I say, only in America.

I'm just a white guy from Iowa, so my "street cred" on situations in the African-American community is limited at best, although I do have quite a bit of cul de sac cred. So, you can take what I have to say with a grain of salt. I want "black America" to take a step back and appreciate what they have and continue to achieve. From where I sit, African-Americans contibute in many meaningful ways in many different parts of our society. Music, film, science, politics, social issues, entertainment, writing, speaking, and so many others that I failed to mention, but hold no less respect for. So often, people look at what they don't have and lament when they should be focusing on what they do have and celebrating.

Does this mean we don't have to keep trying to make things better between whites and African-Americans? Of course not. There is always room for improvement from both sides. But the fact the relationship isn't perfect is no excuse to stop trying to get closer to perfection, if only by a little bit. Although I can understand why some African-Americans feel the need to create and sustain the concept of "black America," it doesn't make the divide between whites and African-Americans any less vast. But I'm willing to reach out to help the situation.

So, what do you say, "black America"? Will you reach out, too?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

It's Just My Opinion...

I was sitting in the movie theater this afternoon waiting for "Epic Movie" to begin (not quite as epic as expected, but there are worse ways to spend 90 minutes and $5.75) when I heard "Not Ready to Make Nice" by the Dixie Chicks, who are up for a Grammy or two. This got me thinking about the nature of opinion in today's society. As I'm sure you're aware, I'm not usually at a loss for opinions, including opinions.

There are two groups of people who I must take issue with because they're damaging the state of public discourse. First, there are the wishy washy people who have opinions, but don't stick to them out of fear of offending someone. That's the nature of opinion, though. Whenever you take a stand on any issue, you run the risk of someone thinking that you're the biggest idiot in the world for believing as you do. That took me the longest time to get used to when I first started writing because I tried too hard not to offend. Regardless of what you might think, I try not to offend people if I can help it, and in most cases I can. The wishy-washy types haven't figured out that someone out there will take an opposite opinion to theirs, which doesn't make the wishy-washy types wrong.

Look, it's okay to have contrary opinions on big issues like philosophy, religion, and politics. But there are times when you have to draw a line and not retreat past that line. Take child molestation for example. Most people have the line drawn at "no kids should be molested," but the pedophiles are trying to convince people that they just have a different sexual orientation than the "normal" society. If the wishy-washy folks ultimately win, the pedophiles will get permission to molest children because the wishy-washy folks will have given the pedophiles permission with their lack of will to condemn what they know is wrong. There's an old saying that applies here: All evil needs to do to be victorious is for good men to do nothing. Ah, but they are doing something: they're compromising their principles for the sake of "getting along."

The other group of opinionated people that torque me off is people who think opinion is only one-way. The Dixie Chicks fall in this category because of they reacted to the negative press following Natalie Maines's anti-Bush statement in front of a British audience. They spoke their minds and then got shocked when others spoke theirs in opposition. Sorry, Chicks, but the expression of any opinion is two-way, and, yes, sometimes those opinions will be different than yours. If you want respect for your opinions, you can't overlook that the person to whom you're pontificating may have a different, legitimate take on your opinions. You can say whatever you want pretty much, but you are not guaranteed an audience. Err America found out early on and know it all too well today.

So, here's what I think we should do. Don't be afraid that someone is going to take issue with whatever you write or say. If they do, thank them and try to make your point again. If that fails, it's pretty much a lost cause. And for the "one-way" opinion folks, let me point out that unless you're God, your opinions are subject to revision, but you won't find that out if you keep believing that yours is the only sensible voice out there. Trust me, you aren't.

Once we get people to stop being wishy-washy on issues they should be able to knock out the part without breaking a sweat or dominant when there's no real need to do so, then we will be better able to handle anything that comes up on the opinion front.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Gaining Perspective

I'll bet you're wondering what my opinion is on the most important issue facing us today, the unexpected death of Anna Nicole Smith. Let me tell you, I'm conflicted. On the one hand, it's always sad to see someone relatively young die because we feel bad at the loss of potential. Who knows what would have become of Anna Nicole Smith if she'd lived into her 70s or 80s.

On the other, I can't quite get past the fact that it's Anna Nicole Smith!

Let's face facts, here. Smith wasn't exactly doing great things with her life. She was at best a sideshow attraction who hit the media jackpot with her legal battles over the money of her wealthy late husband. And for this, she gets tons of press?

Somewhere along the line, we lost our way when it came to putting events like this into perspective. There was a time when we could tell the difference between an event that demanded our attention because it was important and something that didn't deserve one iota of attention because it was insignificant. These days, we're lucky if we can name three Supreme Court Justices, but I'll bet we can rattle off the names of the main characters on "Friends."

I think we jumped the shark on this when Princess Diana and Mother Teresa died. Mother Teresa was one of the two main faces of Catholic, even Christian, faith in my lifetime, with the other being Pope John Paul II. She devoted her life to God and to the people of India. Put simply, she may have been small in stature, but she was a giant where it counted. On the other hand, Princess Diana did a few good deeds, but was nowhere near Mother Teresa's stature. Yet, when they died within days of the other, Princess Diana got more fawning press than did Mother Teresa.

And most people didn't bother to ask why.

That's why I'm torn about the death of Anna Nicole Smith. My heart tells me it's a sad event, but my brain tells me it's not something that deserves more than a passing thought. Granted, I didn't know her and the impact would be greater the closer to the death you are. But did any of us who are paying attention to this story know her? I'll bet not. If anything, we're living (or rather dying) vicariously through her.

Sorry. I'll pass.

Come Fly With Me

Since 9/11, the Speaker of the House has been allowed to use military planes for Congressional business. This makes sense to me, considering the Speaker of the House takes over if the President and Vice President are incapacitated or impeached, neither of which is that enticing a prospect.

Former Speaker Dennis Hastert used a 12 seat military jet. Current Speaker Nancy Pelosi is alleged to want something a little bigger. Republicans are balking, Democrats are circling the wagons to protect Madame Speaker, but they're missing the larger point. The Democrats have shot themselves in the foot with this issue.

Democrats swept into power in the House and somewhat in the Senate by suggesting that they were different from the Republicans, who they painted as out of touch with the American people and corrupt. Squabbling over the size of a military jet isn't exactly the best way to showcase how different you are, especially if you're accused of trying to get a bigger jet.

If that wasn't bad enough, John Murtha tried to throw around some muscle, saying that if the Pentagon wants funding, they'll play ball with Madame Speaker. Maybe Murtha watched a little too much of "The Sopranos," but he's not quite right. The House originates the spending by proposing a budget, but without a President's signature, nobody gets money unless Congress can override a Presidential veto. You might be able to get it in the House, but the Senate, where Democrat control is in name only...not so much.

The combination of Pelosi and Murtha have proven once again that Congressional Democrats have let power go to their heads, which has clouded their political judgment. Pelosi could prevent further damage by coming out and saying she wants the same size plane Hastert had. If she wanted to completely eliminate it, she would publicly insist on a smaller plane. As it stands, she's trying to downplay it by saying she was only making an inquiry about the size of the planes available to her, which isn't quite the same. She needs to insist on the smaller plane to regain the high ground on this issue.

Oh, and she needs to tell Murtha to shut his piehole. His not-so-veiled threat to the Pentagon made him look like someone desperate to throw around his weight instead of someone who could have helped ease tensions between the Pentagon and the Speaker's office. His ham-fisted approach is indicative of the same problem Pelosi seems to have exposed: Democrats think their Congressional power gives them unlimited power to do what they want. It doesn't. They're still subject to the separation of powers and the whim of the voters.

And given how it was the whim of the voters who swept Democrats back into power in the Congress, they should be trying to keep the voters happy.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Wanted: A Visionary

I'm in the middle of a great book, A Visionary Nation: Four Centuries of American Dreams and What Lies Ahead by Zachary Karabell. I've always believed America is a country built and sustained on the dreams of those who saw the future before anyone else did, and Karabell's book does quite a bit to underscore that concept.

Perhaps unexpectedly, though, his book has also made me wonder whether America still has visionaries. The more I think about it, the more I believe we're running out of the men and women who fuel our country's collective engine. There are some, but the numbers are shrinking.

The obvious question is why. For one, we've given up on the notion that we can enact change. To be a visionary, you have to be an optimist, and in today's world, optimism and delusion seem to be joined at the hip. The world isn't required to be fair, and we've all but stopped trying to make it as fair as possible. We've come to accept inequity as the norm instead of coming up with some way to change the world around us if only on a small scale.

Another reason we're running out of visionaries is because it opens you up to a lot of criticism. Take Bill Gates. He changed the way we use technology and continues to do so with every Microsoft product that comes out. Yet, what do we hear most? Criticism. He's too wealthy or he stole the idea for Windows or he's funny looking. When you put yourself out there for anything, you are bound to attract people who want to tear you down. Make enough "enemies" and even a visionary will either give up or move on.

Yet another reason is that few of us recognize what excellence is. We've made achievement into a negative while championing mediocrity under the notion that "we don't want to hurt anybody's feelings." Watering down excellence to make it palatable for all dilutes everything and everyone.

Fear of disappointment or failure plays a role in this, too. When you make a personal investment in something, it stings quite a bit when it goes unnoticed or unappreciated. Once disappointment sets in, visionary thinking becomes an afterthought.

Put simply, we're in dire need of visionaries in all walks of life. Business, politics, media, society, you name it, there's a need for someone to think outside of the box. Where should you look to find the great leaders for these and other fields?

I'd start by looking in the mirror. We have such amazing potential that we don't use for the reasons I mentioned and many more I didn't. Yet, if you want to make a change in the world, you have to start by changing yourself. Push yourself to the limits of your imagination or ability and then exceed those limits. Build up your resistance to negativity, both from within and from without. Don't accept good enough as good enough; accept only the best as good enough. And most importantly, don't be ashamed of your accomplishments. Take pride in doing what you do well and keep doing it.

Do these things and you will become the visionaries I seek.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Music to Their Ears

I'm on record as saying the recording industry going after people for downloading songs is utterly stupid and immoral since the ones complaining the loudest aren't the artists, but the people who screw the artists: the record companies. Now, they've gone too far.

A man is being sued by five record companies for downloading...get this...five songs. Of course, the record companies are just trying to "protect the artists," but isn't this more than a little overkill, especially over five songs? Put simply, this isn't about protecting the artists or making money for those who make the most off the CDs.

It's about sending a strong message to anyone who downloads songs.

Tony Soprano would be proud.

The dark secret is that artists aren't losing that much money off people downloading songs off the Internet. Artists make very little off their CD sales because the record company takes most of it for various reasons. That's why artists go out on tour; that's where they make their money because the record company doesn't have to spend all that money to promote a CD, get studio time, rank songs for release, that sort of thing.

Also, the record companies are the ones driving up the cost of CDs. The actual cost to make a single CD is pennies on the dollar. Yet, new CDs cost anywhere from $10 to $20...thanks to record companies. If you're able to download a song or an entire CD, that's money out of their pockets, and Lord knows they can't have that!

So, until some judge gets the courage to tell the record companies to shove off, we're going to see more legal overkill against people whose only real crime is loving music more than the jacklegs suing them.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Kosovo in a Nutshell: A Response

Normally, I don't comment in my blog about someone who posted on my blog, but I felt this one deserved a more public response.

My piece "Kosovo in a Nutshell" elicited the following response from an anonymous poster.

It is really a shame that nowdays everybody can write whatever he likes in the internet. If you personaly have a problem with muslimanism or your country, please find a right way to express it and not by explaining who the kosovars are. You don't have the slicest idea of the kosovar people so please do not ashame yourself anymore with this kind of articles. Find a new hobby.

Let's take this piece by piece...

It is really a shame that nowdays everybody can write whatever he likes in the internet.

Is it just me, or does this send up a huge red flag? Immediately taking issue with freedom of speech is a sign that this poster may not be a friend to America. And something tells me that he or she wouldn't have a problem if I had defended the Albanians over the Serbs.

If you personaly have a problem with muslimanism or your country, please find a right way to express it and not by explaining who the kosovars are.

Funny, but "Kosovo in a Nutshell" really didn't go after Muslims that hard. What I did was to recap the Kosovo debacle and explain how it applies to the current war on terrorism. Not only that, but I pointed out the failures of the Clinton Administration to address what was known. Trust me, if I can find half the stuff I posted, anybody can.

Including the most powerful man in the world.

For the record, I don't have a problem with Muslims. But I do have a problem with lies and liars, and there were quite a few lies being told about Kosovo at the time and even today. What the line directly above tells me is that the poster is trying to paint any opposition to Muslims into hatred. Methinks the poster doth protesteth too much...

You don't have the slicest idea of the kosovar people so please do not ashame yourself anymore with this kind of articles. Find a new hobby.

Another tactic of the faux left and the radical Muslims is to claim intellectual superiority over their critics and, thus, try to silence them by virtue of the "you don't know anything" card. And as you might guess, I don't exactly follow that advice.

I don't claim to have all the answers, but I have done my homework. If Mr./Ms. Anonymous wants to put up some facts to counter what I've posted, he or she is more than welcome. But simply saying that I don't know what I'm talking about doesn't work. Back it up, or shut it up.

And I'm betting Mr./Ms. Anonymous will be opting for the latter.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Kosovo in a Nutshell

It was less than a decade ago that then-President Bill Clinton launched a military strike into a part of Yugoslavia called Kosovo. Even though it's relatively recent history, most people don't know the basics of a conflict that, in retrospect, was a microcosm of the current war on terrorism and how American foreign policy screwed up in so many ways. And since it was "so long ago" not many people are willing to go back and research it. I'm going to try to explain the Kosovo debacle as briefly as I can.

The two factions involved in the war in Kosovo, aside from NATO, were the Serbians and the Albanians. The Serbs are white Christians, and the Albanians are Muslim with some ties to al Qaeda. The strife between these two groups started over a thousand years ago and rages on today, even if we don't hear much out of that neck of the woods as much as we used to. At the time we got involved in Kosovo, the Serbian leader Slobodon Milosevic was accused of "ethnic cleansing" the Albanians in Kosovo and Bosnia. This got the attention of NATO, worried that Milosevic would become another Hitler, so they called in the United States to lead the charge against Milosevic.

But the roots of our involvement in Kosovo started a bit earlier than this. In January 1999, Clinton was quoted as being worried about his historical record as President and, get this, wishing for a war because he believed war made for great Presidents. Then, when our European allies came by with their concerns about Milosevic, Clinton had his war and Europe had its military to handle the situation.

Of course, no one asked the Albanians if they wanted our help. They didn't, and obviously neither did the Serbs.

Not to mention, there was the al Qaeda angle to consider. One of the ways al Qaeda makes money is through the trafficking of drugs, more precisely heroin. To make heroin, you need to grow poppies. And guess what grows in Kosovo. Poppies. Therefore, al Qaeda and their allies within the Albanian side of the conflict had a vested interest in beating back the Serbs, who were actively involved in fighting off the Muslim drug trade in Kosovo.

Of course, we didn't pay attention to that side because at the time Americans weren't concerned about international terrorism, even though we recognized al Qaeda was a terrorist group. Whether Clinton and his advisors researched this side of the Kosovo conflict is uncertain, but given how Clinton's foreign policy revolved around good photo ops instead of solid policy, I would have to say no. This combination of ego-driven policy combined with utter ignorance of the implications got us involved in a truly unnecessary war.

What about the "ethnic cleansing"? Just a fancy way to spin civil war. Could Milosevic been another Hitler? Not really, considering he was at best a regional power. Mass graves? More like mass fraud because reporters admitted they moved bodies in the graves to give the impression of more bodies. Every reason given to go into Kosovo got shot down as the truth became known, which is why the Clinton Administration kept changing their goals. First it was to take down Milosevic. Then it was to stop the ethnic cleansing. Then it was to bring stability to the region. But all of it was a bunch of lies.

But at least we won, right? Not so much. Two members of our military lost their lives in a helicopter crash because they were overtired due to orders given by the military at the order of the Clinton Administration. Bombing runs from higher than normal levels lead to the killing of many civillians, including those at the Chinese embassy in Kosovo and a bridge where Albanian refugees were travelling to get out of Kosovo. And after six months of combat, we pulled out claiming victory. Meanwhile, Milosevic stayed in power a full year after we "won" and we turned around and paid him to rebuild Kosovo. It wasn't until the people rose up and threw him out of the country after he refused to step down after losing an election that he was removed. And the "ethnic cleansing" that got us into Kosovo? It was still going on, but this time it was the Albanians doing the killing instead of the Serbs.

In other words, we helped al Qaeda and the Muslims at the expense of the forces fighting against them. And Osama Bin Laden saw all of it and our tepid response to what they were doing in Kosovo. Is it any wonder Bin Laden said that we would grow tired of combat? We pretty much proved it for him! A stronger, smarter strategy in Kosovo would have sent a message that we wouldn't let a terrorist organization keep its hold in Eastern Europe or elsewhere, but that didn't happen. Instead, we came off as weak, inept, and gutless.

And thanks to the Kosovo debacle, we're having to make up for lost time in the war against terrorism and from a position of weakness. It didn't have to happen, but it did, and now we're reaping the results of our folly with negative results that can be summarized with one date.


Saturday, February 3, 2007

A Super Bowl Myth They Won't Tell You About

MSNBC recently did a piece about 10 myths connected to the Super Bowl, ranging from the number of toilets flushing during halftime to the amount of certain foods and beer consumed. It was a light-hearted piece meant to give us the truth about the biggest professional football game of the year.

Striking by its absence was one of the biggest myths connected to the Super Bowl. In the early 90s, feminist groups were citing a study that claimed Super Bowl Sunday was the most dangerous day of the year for women due to the number of incidents of domestic abuse reported. Researchers attributed this shocking statistic to the combination of heavy drinking and overly aggressive men watching football. Once this study was released to the media, the story became the talk of the media. One tiny problem, though.

Not a word of it is true.

Skeptics managed to review the study and found that Super Bowl Sunday was no different than any other day of the year in the number of domestic violence incidents reported. And what did the media do once the truth came out? They ignored it. To make matters worse, they continued to cite the discredited study as though it were fact. Eventually, though, they stopped talking about it altogether. I'd like to say they were finally shamed into silence, but considering the lengths they went to in order to perpetuate the domestic violence myth, I'm not sure I can say for certain that they have any shame.

Regardless, what the feminists and the media did was shameful. Domestic violence is not a joke, nor is it a pawn in the game of life. I'm sure they'll try to whitewash it as "raising awareness of an important issue," but lying doesn't do anyone any good. Besides, it's not the media's job to take up issues. Their job is to report the news and offer commentary only in appropriate forums. Citing a biased and discredited study isn't appropriate under any circumstances.

Feminists, too, should be ashamed that they let a political (and might I add, blatantly anti-male) agenda cloud their judgments on this issue. Women won't be helped by the advancement of false information as truth. Raising awareness, if done properly, is fine. Lying about men with such an emotionally charged issue like domestic abuse clearly isn't proper.

If you are a woman (or a man, for that matter) in an abusive relationship, don't let fear of retribution stop you from contacting the authorities or finding a shelter. Too many people every year die due to domestic violence. Don't let yourself be one of them.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Knock It Off Already!

First, it was Al Gore getting nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for...well, I'm not exactly sure. Today, Mark Levin took it one step further by nominating Rush Limbaugh for the Nobel Peace Prize for...well, I'm not exactly sure.

Actually, I do know why, and it's the same thing that conservatives have lamented about the Nobel Prizes in past years: politics getting in the way of choosing a worthy recipient. Conservatives and Republicans may not see a problem with it, but I do, and for the same reason I oppose Gore being nominated.

I honestly don't know what they've done to deserve the honor.

They two of them haven't brokered any peace deals. They haven't advanced notions that have persuaded people to seek a peaceful existence. They haven't so much as got two sides to stop fighting even for a microsecond. Hardly a stunning resume for either of them on the peace front.

Gore's award nomination was because of loosened standards due to Gore's politics. Limbaugh's nomination is a reaction to Gore's nomination and is just as political. And at the end of the day, neither one earned their nominations for anything they've actually done.

I'm not astonished at Gore being so willing to accept an honor he hasn't earned because he is just that kind of guy. There's not much there to be proud of because Gore really hasn't done that much to be proud of. He's a rich white faux liberal who has never worked that much in his life because he's never had to. He was born into priviledge and expects everything to handed to him.

Limbaugh, on the other hand, was cut from different cloth. He has known both poverty and privilege, success and failure. One thing about Rush that even his critics have to admit is that he is one of the hardest workers out there on radio, if not in all media. He knows how to earn the accolades he enjoys, so it comes as a shock that Rush would agree to even accept the initial nomination. I disagree with him on a number of issues and I don't find him as entertaining as I used to, but I expected more out of him because of who he is away from the microphone.

No matter who wins, the Nobel Peace Prize has been tarnished yet again when it didn't need to be.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Nobel Fate for Al Gore?

Al Gore has been raking in the acclaim in the past couple of years. First, "An Inconvenient Truth" is being given awards and nominations for awards from the people already predisposed to be awarding Gore beyond his worth. And now, Al's in the running for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming.

Okay, I'm not the smartest guy in the world (just ask my critics), but I'm having a hard time figuring out how work on global warming brings peace to the world. Of course, I have that one big character flaw of thinking logically. I should really stop doing that...

As we've seen with past Nobel Prize winners, the Nobel folks aren't exactly big contributors to the Heritage Foundation. That is certainly playing a factor in their decision to put Gore in the list of people in consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize. After all, I doubt Gore would stand a chance against scientists who actually do real research because real research requires those pesky things called facts. And if you haven't been paying attention lately, Gore's kinda short on those.

Instead, the Nobel folks most likely wanted to give Gore something that didn't require so much focus on what he didn't have and hype what he does have, which is a lot of caring, dangit! And because he cares, that puts him in the ballpark for the Peace Prize where he can be alongside such luminaries as Yassur Arafat and Jimmy Carter. Come to think of it, wouldn't those two people alone be reasons you shouldn't want to get the Nobel Peace Prize?

Either way, Gore's in the running and there's nothing I can do to stop it. But that doesn't mean I can't still mock him relentlessly for messing up in divinity school. I mean, who flunks God 101? It's not like the textbook is obscure; IT'S THE FLIPPING BIBLE! No matter if Gore wins an Oscar, a Nobel Prize, a Tony, and a Golden Globe, he's still the same goof who claimed to have taken the initiative in the creation of the Internet.

And there isn't an award that will take away the memory of that whopper.