Saturday, April 28, 2007

America's First Black Female President

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) - Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday she sees her sometimes Southern accent as a virtue.

"I think America is ready for a multilingual president," Clinton said during a campaign stop at a charter school in Greenville, S.C.

The New York senator—who said she's been thinking about critics who've suggested that she tried to put on a fake Southern accent in Selma, Ala.—noted that she's split her life between Arkansas, Illinois and the East Coast.

Clinton added a Southern lilt to her voice last week when addressing a civil rights group in New York City headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton. On Monday, dealing with a microphone glitch at a fundraiser for young donors, she quoted former slave and underground railroad leader Harriet Tubman.

But observers have long noted her tendency to speak Southern primarily in front of black audiences, as she did with Sharpton last week and at a civil rights commemoration in Selma in March.


Just imagine what uproar, what utter revulsion would occur if Giuliani, or Romney or even The Maverick were to affect such a "twang" when addressing black voters. I can see the accusations now, "How racist! Condescending! Phony, phony, phony!"

Somehow, when it's a Democrat, especially when it's a Clinton, the absolutely contrived accent is considered charming.

Next we'll see her downing some black eyed peas, greens, and soakin' up the pot likker with some cornbread. Facing the camera of course.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A General Failure

Army Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, May, 2007 Armed Forces Journal
"For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war.
These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress."

This article about the failures of American generals in Iraq is quite interesting. It presents a view of the war from a different perspective than one often presented. If the author is correct, more needs to be changed at DOD than just the individual at the head of the department.

Comparing the situation in Iraq with that in Vietnam thirty years ago, with the US military facing the possibility of defeat due to an insurgency, Lt. Col.Paul Yingling points to the failure of the generals to prepare the military for current guerrilla warfare, and to properly advise civilian leaders on how to achieve policy goals using the military. He suggests that Congressional intervention is the key to remedying the situation.

Agreeing with Prussian military expert Carl von Clausewitz that 3 P's, passion, probability, and policy, play important roles in war, Lt. Col. Yingling emphasizes that each one is essential to the successful waging of war.

He states that statesmen, ie., the President and his staff, must raise the passion of the citizenship to a certain level for them to be willing to face the sacrifices that will come with war, the blood and treasure so often mentioned.

Along with this passion, generals need to supply the policymakers with accurate estimates of stategic probabilities. What are the probabilities, not just the possibilities, of successful prosecution of the war? The generals have a moral obligation not to sugar-coat the probabilities, but to give a frank appraisal of the military's ability to accomplish the goals given to them.

The policymakers, having received the advice of the generals, are the ones ultimately responsible for waging wars. Yingling states:
However much it is influenced by passion and probability, war is ultimately an instrument of policy and its conduct is the responsibility of policymakers. War is a social activity undertaken on behalf of the nation. The military man is no better qualified than the common citizen to make such judgments. He must therefore confine his input to his area of expertise — the estimation of strategic probabilities.

In order to provide an estimation of the strategic possibilities, it is necessary to consider both the preparations for and the probable conduct of the war, the planning and directing of the military. Requiring imagination, creativity and foresight, the generals must be able to estimate present and future military needs, and visualize what future wars will look like. Lt. Col. Yingling gives multiple examples of past wars fought with outdated strategies and tactics and underscores the importance of foreward thinking to prevent the disasters that could follow such erroneous preparations.

Of course even with good reckoning of future military needs, the generals must still be able to convince civilian policymakers of the demands and risks involved. This is potentially difficult, due to the nature of elected officials' thinking more in the short-term needs of the public than longterm needs of national security. Proper military preparedness requires decades, not years, and generals must tread carefully between speaking too loudly and not speaking loudly enough. "A military professional must possess both the physical courage to face the hazards of battle and the moral courage to withstand the barbs of public scorn. On and off the battlefield, courage is the first characteristic of generalship."

Lt. Col. Yingling gives a brief analysis of the failures of the generals in Vietnam. Even though President Kennedy talked about "another type of war, new in its intensity, ancient in its origin — war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins, war by ambush instead of by combat, by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by evading and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him" but America's generals did not heed the warning. Any adjustments, unfortunately after the American people had largely turned against the war, "... are best described as too little, too late."

With respect to the current war in Iraq, Yingling states that the mistakes of Vietnam were repeated due to the failure " envision the conditions of future combat and prepare their forces accordingly." In addition, the generals failed to gauge what would be necessary to attain the policy goals before the start of the war. Nor did they give a correct description of the war in Iraq. This seems inexcusable with all the terrorist attacks throughout the world since the early l970's. Lt. Col. Yingling feels that there has been a tragic failure to commit the number of troops necessary to keep Iraq's population secure. Despite early estimates of close to a half million troops needed, only half of that number were sent to begin the war. Yet the generals who were in favor of a much high number kept silent. Once again, the current "surge" may be too little, too late.

In addition, there was "no coherent plan for postwar stabilization" and an underreporting of the day-to-day violence. Also compounding the problem was the fact that "...America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq."

Quoting J.F.C. Fuller, a British general in WWI, who found three shared traits among great generals - courage, creative intelligence and physical fitness - Yingling wishes that generals would find the moral courage to be more candid and honest in discussions with the executive branch. Finding themselves caught between the rock of executive intimidation and the hard place of betraying what they feel is true, too often generals keep their doubts of the effectiveness of military strategies suggested by the administration to themselves. He also suggests an increase in the number of generals with advanced degrees, especially in social sciences or humanities. He decries the fact that only one fourth of the Army's senior generals is fluent in a foreign language despite the theory that this proficiency is crucial in fighting counterinsurgency.* He also says that the current military does not reward creativity or moral courage. Officers follow the company line and keep their heads low. Conformity reigns supreme.

Believing that neither the White House nor the military branches will solve this problem, Lt. Col. Yingling believes that it will require Congress to become more involved in determining how officers are selected, advanced amd retired, how military power is used, and ..."the Senate must hold accountable through its confirmation powers those officers who fail to achieve the aims of policy at an acceptable cost in blood and treasure."

Yingling warns of military disaster unless the challenges of current insurgencies and the needs of future warfare are adequately acknowledged and plans put in place to prepare the armed forces and the American people accordingly. A key component of this goal is to revamp the generalship to include "...those who possess the intelligence to visualize future conflicts and the moral courage to advise civilian policymakers on the preparations needed for our security."

*The arrogance of American prosperity led us into the false belief that it was incumbent on other nations to teach their populations to speak English, the increasingly main language of international commerce.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Barbary War - First War on Terror

If you read the Hitchens article referenced yesterday, you know what war is in question. If you didn't read the article, a brief description is at the bottom of this post.*

What was interesting in this American History lesson from a Brit, was the obvious similarities between Muslim thought then and now. As Western Civilization has progressed in its development of human rights and religious tolerance since the Dark Ages, the civilization controlled by Islam has remained stuck in a mind-set that retains all its most hateful intolerance and barbarity, both to "infidels" and to its own people. The quote from the Muslim ambassador** tells the tale. They were then and still are today at war with all non-muslim nations and individuals.

Foreshadowing the Islamic terrors of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, John Adams, after meeting with the ambassador, and who was more in favor of continuing the extortion payments than beginning war, even said "We ought not to fight them at all unless we determine to fight them forever." He felt that any battle would be "too rugged for our people to bear." As the actions of the past thirty years can attest, he was right. Once you begin the battle, it must be fought to the end.

From the initial hijacking of planes, the terror at the Munich Olympics, the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the truck bombing at Marine headquarters in Beirut, the explosion of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, to both World Trade Center bombings, the militant jihadist muslims have made their intentions very plain.

Our response, multilateral at times, and unilateral at others, has been both severe and weak. The first Gulf War was an impressive display of military might that was prematurely ended without accomplishing anything more than the removal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The aftermath proved terrible for the Iraqi minorities that were relying on the collaboration of US led forces to end Saddam's tyranny once and for all. With the abdication of this goal, right or wrong, the US achieved a moral defeat even while achieving a brilliant military victory. Mortal enemies were made with Iraqi factions who to this day and beyond will never trust the United States again.

Here we are again, another military victory, with Saddam gone, at long last, and in the intermediary decade between the two Gulf wars, the terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda, flourished, free-floating across borders, taking refuge where possible and recruiting members as necessary. American response to numerous attacks during the Clinton administration on our properties and our interests were weak, "swatting at flies", as President George W. Bush described. These ineffectual reponses to increasingly daring attacks emboldened the already dedicated jihadists and eventually led to the most spectacular terror act in our history, the simultaneous hijacking of four planes and successful destruction of the Twin Towers as well as a good portion of the Pentagon.

This jibes with the actions of the muslim pirates two hundred years ago. When the US negotiated peace by paying the extortion demanded, the price continually went up, testing, testing the limits of American patience. At last, the limit was reached and swift naval action, decisive and strong, brought an end to the hostilities. Today, our government, at least on the Congressional side, is showing the same weakness evidenced in the early part of our history. Congress is declaring the price of the war to be "too rugged for our people to bear." For the democrats in congress, returning to negotiations for "tribute" (read concessions and financial aid) is the correct response.

Hitchens ends his article with lines from Rudyard Kipling's poem "Dane-Geld" (extortion paid to Danish kings as a result of their invasions into England from 856 to 1016, when Canute, a Dane, became King of England)

IT IS always a temptation to an armed and agile nation,
To call upon a neighbour and to say:—
“We invaded you last night—we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away.”

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:—
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:—

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!”

*Barbary Wars
The first war fought outside US territory by the fledgling United States was against four states in North Africa - Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli. These "Barbary States" were Muslim countries, part of the Ottoman Empire. The build up for the war was the continuing attacks by the Muslim pirates on merchant vessels, pilgrimages, and other ships in the Mediterranean Sea and beyond. Cargo was plundered, and passengers and crew were assaulted and often enslaved or held for ransom.

The European countries victimized for centuries by these barbarians eventually decided to pay "tribute" to the Barbary states in order to be able to resume travel and trade on the open seas. As long as America was part of England her ships were covered by the English tribute, but after the revolutionary war, US ships were once again prey. Since the new nation had no resources to mount a naval defense against the piracy, the US joined Europe in agreeing to pay tribute.

As is common when obeying demands of blackmailers, the US foound their promises to be quite empty. The amount of the demanded ransom or extortion kept increasing until it was at least ten percent of the national budget. Negotiations with the Muslims proved fruitless and when Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met with Tripoli's ambassador to London, they asked him what right the pirates had to this extortion and slavery. Jefferson said he was told
**that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet (Mohammed), that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman (or Muslim) who should be slain in battle was sure to go to heaven.

In the meantime, the American navy was increasing in force and had successful skirmishes with French pirates. Once he became President of the United States, Jefferson received a demand for a huge sum of money; he followed his principles and refused Tripoli's demands. Tripoli declared war on the United States and Algiers, Tunis and Morocco soon did the same. Jefferson responded by sending ships with orders to bombard Tripoli and blockade the countries involved.

The resulting action saw the emergence of new naval heroes such as Stephen Decatur who led a daring group of volunteers to burn a captive US ship to prevent its use in Muslim piracy. The next year brought an impressive Marine victory, an overland trek through the dessert to Tripoli's harbor fortress in Derna, thus immortalizing the phrase in the Marine Corps hymn, " the shores of Tripoli." Soon a treaty was signed ending the first of the two Barbary Wars.

The second erupted when the US naval forces were summoned to fight the British in the War of 1812. The piracy resumed and was once again ended by naval victories. In 1815, the second Barbary War ended with all American, and some European, captives released and even some monetary compensation for seized property.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hitchens' Article for you to Read

Homework: Read this article and I'll discuss it tomorrow.

Rosie Strikes Again

The emcee of the annual luncheon of New York Women in Communications was non other than Rosie O'Donnell. She lived up to her reputation by delivering her special brand of off-color humor including the "F-word", and "Eat Me!", a reference to her feud with the Donald.

Some of the attendees professed to be offended by Rosie's remarks. Robert Zimmerman, a Democrat activist for progressive causes called her "vulgar and common." I agree she's vulgar but his remark that she is "common" says more about him than her. I believe those kind of remarks are anything but common, but that's beside the point.

Some thought it was fun to watch other people be offended. I don't need to say anything about that.

However, the NY Women in Communications' managing director, Beth Ellen Keyes, expressed the group's overall pleasure in having Rosie appear and do her thing. "She was just great."

O'Donnell's publicist, Cindi Berger, told the New York Post: "When you ask for Rosie, you know what you're getting. She's not a shrinking violet. She's a stand-up comedienne. She says things that are provocative." No kidding.

Let's play a little game. People who attend these functions, watch certain television shows, listen to certain radio broadcasts, do so of their own free will. If they don't want to subject themselves to Rosie's "humor", or see sex and violence on their TV sets, or hear entertainers' humorous remarks or political opinions, they don't have to. So, our game is to substitute the name "Imus" for "Rosie" in Ms Berger's statement above. "When you ask for Imus, you know what you're getting. (S)He's not a shrinking violet. He says things that are provocative."

Lest you think that the attendees were mostly telephone operators, the Women in Communications group included such celebrities as Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Meredith Vieira, Joan Didion, Arianna Huffington, Nora Ephron, Martha Stewart and Hillary Clinton. Barbara and Joy must be used to Rosie's nasty mouth by now but the others may not have become so jaded. I wonder how many of them railed against Imus' recent provocative remarks. I wonder how many of them will publicly denounce Rosie? Can I count them on one hand? One finger?

UPDATE: 4/25/07; 3:38pm
Oh my! She's going to leave The View which I never watched anyway. It is impossible to live in the US without knowing way more that one wants to know about celebrities, as evidenced by my comments above. Do we really believe the story that it was just a problem negotiating a new contract? Did ABC get tired of her tirades and nastiness? Who cares.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The All-New Sheryl Crow Daily Update

I'm going to have to rename this blog. The Sheryl Crow Daily Update, or something like that. Check out the Smoking Gun for the scoop on Sheryl "Wipe out Global Warming Now" Crow's backstage demands for her concerts. What's most amazing is her specified choice of alcoholic beverage (whether for her or crew) for each day of the week.

Monday - 1 bottle Makers Mark Bourbon
Tuesday - 1 bottle Bombay Gin and large bottle Schweppes tonic water
Wednesday - 1 bottle Courvoisier Brandy
Thursday - 1 bottle good quality Champagne
Friday - 1 bottle Silver Tequila and 1 bottle margarita mix and a carton of orange juice
Saturday - 1 bottle Absolut Vodka and carton of orange juice
Sunday - 1 bottle silver Tequila and 1 bottle margarita mix and carton of orange juice

If it's Courvoisier, it must be Seattle.

The list also includes an itemized list of snacks, postcards, vitamins, soap, cigarettes, and provisions for the vegetarian members of the crew.

What a nasty carbon footprint she leaves behind. She travels with three tractor trailers, four buses, and six cars. Do you think all the concert-goers take the bus?

Think how much better the Earth would be if she gave no more concerts and everybody stayed home for the evening. I'm here to tell you that I will nevuh, evuh, go to another Sheryl Crow concert. I will make this sacrifice for the sake of Mother Earth. If I stick to my guns, can I use more than one square of toilet paper?

I suppose all this is par for the course for performers, past and present, but it sure reinforces my opinion of them as spoiled,demanding, prima donnas. What's more, it make it very hard to take them seriously when they try to tell us how to live our little simple lives.

I promise. No more Sheryl Crow.

Photo credit

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sheryl Crow Strikes Again

I can't believe I'm writing about Sheryl Crow again, the second time in the past few weeks. Here's a priceless quote from Sheryl, fresh from her "Save the Planet, Stop Global Warming Now" tour.

"Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating. One of my favorites is in the area of forest conservation which we heavily rely on for oxygen. I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required. When presenting this idea to my younger brother, who's judgment I trust implicitly, he proposed taking it one step further. I believe his quote was, "how bout just washing the one square out."

i hope she was joking. If not, I don't even know how to react. She proposes a "limitation" on the number of TP squares. Who is going to impose this limit? What's more important, who is going to enforce it? I'm not going to "go" there.

I'll let this new trend start on the west coast. Sheryl, and Barbra, and Alec, and Julia, and all the rest, Al Gore, especially, can "go" first.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Second Assault on Virginia Tech

Unless you've been living in a cave, and it's not as bad an idea as I once thought, you know about the terrible shooting at Virginia Tech during which 32 students and faculty were slaughtered by a clearly disturbed young man, also a student. We were aware of the basic facts late Monday afternoon, April
16, 2007. A few more details emerged the following day concerning the sequence of events and the actions of some of the victims and witnesses. The university held a convocation Tuesday at which officials of the Virginia Tech, the Commonwealth, and President Bush spoke about the tragedy and the healing that will take place. I wish all involved good luck with the healing process. Constant reminders will abound for those who were victims of the atrocity and for the witnesses of it.

Now the media camps are in place. Connections are made, satellites are reached, and microwaves are bouncing through the ether. Hotel rooms are secured, rental cars gassed up, hairdos are moussed, gelled and sprayed. The second wave of the assault begins. This time the perpetrators are the members of the media. As I watched the prelude to the coverage of the convocation, I saw reporters and anchors making assinine statements, second guessing the actions of the campus security, as well as those of the local law enforcement agencies, the University officials, and the victims themselves. Witnesses were interviewed. "Where were you? What did you do? What did you think? How do you feel?" I was hoping to see someone tell a reporter to get lost, or even to ask, "How do you think I feel?" Being polite, not to mention being in shock, and maybe somewhat sensing their fifteen minutes of fame had arrived, the people I saw answered all questions politely and respectfully. If only the MSM were as respectful.

Now that the names and addresses of the victims are available, we can expect to see reporters questioning family and friends of the victims. I always dread those televised exploitations of human grief. We see crying, devastated family members telling about the individual gifts of their loved one. I'm certain that most of us can somewhat imagine the overwhelming sadness those suffering people feel without seeing it on our widescreen, hi-def TV's. The media milks these human tragedies for all they are worth. True to form, they will overstay their welcome at Virginia Tech, and disrupt the university's attempts to return to as normal a situation as possible. I am sure that soon after the shootings the students, faculty, and other staff of Virginia Tech, as well as the population of Blacksburg wished that the media would just go away.

The American people do not need visual evidence of mourning to feel empathy. This pandering to touch the emotions of outsiders to the tragedy yields the taint of a "Jerry Springer-like" entertainment show. What's more, the constant presence and pressure of this media interference present rude interruptions to people's attempts to regain the focus of their lives and return to pursuing their futures.

Enough is enough. Go away.
UPDATE: As always, . Jonah Goldberg says it much better than I ever do.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tragedies and Those who Line up to Grab the LImelight

I just listened to the press conference from Virginia Tech officials discussing what is known so far regarding the tragic shooting that occured there yesterday. The president of the university spoke, the various law enforcement bigwigs, the medical examiner, the governor's spokesperson, etc.,etc.

Everyone expresses their horror, sympathy, grief, all the other appropriate expressions and I'm sure that they are sincere. But the need that some people feel to rush in and publicly utter their feelings is suspect. I guess they are sensitive to the media's constant nose-counting of who shows up at these events and who doesn't. Their fear that they would be singled out as "insensitive" or "uncaring" compels them to pop up everywhere the cameras go.

Although not registering on the Richter scale of public tragedies, the recent Imus "scandal" was an example of the same phenomenon. When New Jersey governor Corzine found out that Imus was due to meet with the Rutgers' womens' basketball team to apologize for his nasty remarks directed at them, the governor jumped in his car to show up and gather some of the media attention. He was in no way connected with this unfortunate situation but was compelled by his lust for attention and need to appear appropriately disturbed by Imus' remarks. Too bad for him that he neglected to fasten his seat belt as is required by New Jersey law. He suffered serious injuries after his trooper driven SUV crashed on the way to the media circus.

President Bush and his wife will be appearing at a convocation at Virginia Tech later today to express their sadness and grief for the calamity that happened there. That's just what that community needs - a whirlwind of activity surrounding the appearance of the president and his entourage when the university is already in an uproar and the investigation is ongoing. I am sure his feelings are genuine but it smacks of political opportunism.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Still More on the Imus

If you can stand more from me on the Imus fiasco, read the editorial from the Manchester, NH, Union Leader.

The Imus standard: You can't Say That

Radio talk show host Don Imus called Rutgers' mostly black women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos" and got fired. Al Sharpton falsely accused a white man of rape and incited a race riot that left several dead. Jesse Jackson called Jews "hymies." And yet they still mingle at the highest circles of Democratic Party politics.
Imus' comments were indefensible. Even if the women did have tattoos and look a bit street-tough, as Imus was trying to say, calling them whores was an insult too far. But is it a fireable offense for a "shock jock" who has built his career uttering juvenile comments, including regularly making what he calls "n----- jokes"?

What Imus said was a great deal tamer than what is routinely uttered by rappers who call women "bitches" and boast about using and abusing them. It is tamer than the misogynistic and even racist jokes numerous stand-up comics make a living uttering. How did this offensive but comparatively tame comment get a major radio host pulled from the air? Fellow syndicated radio host Neal Boortz has a theory.

Boortz thinks that the Left has finally figured out how to bring down talk radio: accuse the hosts of racism. Unable to compete with talk radio, the Left has opted to play thought police. Racial prejudice is the last free speech taboo in America. Peg a broadcaster as racist, and you can bring him down.

"Liberals see this whole Imus situation as a way to rid themselves of the problem of talk radio ... they will turn their attention to the rest of us. The tape recorders will be running. There is not one single significant right-of-center radio talk show out there that is not going to come under fire."

Boortz has a point. Calling black women "hos" is not offensive to the cultural Left. If it were, there would be boycotts of rap stars and record labels. But if it presents an opportunity to go after a non-liberal talk radio host, the Left will take it. With one notch on their belt, they'll be sure to seek others.

Meanwhile, the same people who demanded Imus' head on a pike will continue to give platforms to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as legions of rappers provide the misogynistic background music.

Copyright, Manchester Union Leader, 2007

Tragedy at Virginia Tech

A lone gunman killed at least 32 people at Virginia Tech this morning, wounding many more. What a tragedy. I suspect families and friends across the nation are frantic to find out whether or not their relative or friend is safe. The dreadful time spent in this kind of uncertainty can drive one to distraction.

The gunman is one of the dead, perhaps by his own hand. I hope that is the case. I can't imagine the panic among students, faculty, and all other workers at Virginia Tech, until the word was spread that the threat was over.

My prayers go out to those affected by the terrible actions of a crazed person.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Imus' Shame - It's Not Just His

I couldn't let this subject pass without pointing out this article by the brillian Mark Steyn. He is right on, as usual, and his wit shines through this as well as all his work.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Thank goodness someone else feels the way I do. Linda Chavez has an article that describes my feelings about news coverage as practiced today. With all the important, and in some cases vitally important issues to debate in the media, the past several months, really years, have been filled with media blasted trivia.

The past two weeks have been non-stop Imus and his stupid comment, Anna-Nichole Smith (Imus should have called her something nasty-it would have been hard to refute) and her now motherless as well as previously fatherless child, and lastly, will Sanjaya get kicked off American Idol. I don't listen to Imus, but one can't help knowing more than one wants to about him, even before this lastest brouhaha. I don't watch Idol, Survivor, Dances with Stars, or much else that passes for entertainment on television, and, when I watch the news, listen to the radio, or read the newspaper, I resent having to wade through updates on what's happening on TV shows. We also have the unending celebrity stories, worth little other than to publicize the antics of actresses, models, rockstars and the like to further clutter our minds with worthless information.

That's NEWS? No wonder newspapers are declining in circulation. No wonder television news shows have declining viewerships. Fox News enjoys a healthy percent of the viewers, and it is one of the worst at celebrity drivel. No wonder people turn to the internet to find in depth information on a wide variety of subject with a wide variety of viewpoints.

The Imus situation is a perfect example. Instead of just letting his stupid comment die a natural death, maybe with the powers that be uttering a "tsk, tsk, shame, shame," the subject was bandied about at first, then hammered into everyone's consciousness by a rampant media. I suppose the MSM was intent on proving how non-racist, non-sexist it is by constantly appearing shocked, shocked as something the "shock jock" said.

They had to drag out that useful idiot Al Sharpton who leeches onto every news story where race appears to be an issue. Why anyone still gives him a podium is beyond me. I was astonished that he received taxpayer funds for his run for the White House a few years ago. It further served to "legitimize" his pontifications. His demand that Imus be fired was listened to and obeyed, as most people thought it would be. I don't care that Imus was fired. If CBS and MSNBC wanted to fire him, that's their and his business. They might have become tired of his antics, but I doubt it. His antics draw more attention to his show and increase listenership. If they fired him due to hypocritical rantings by Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the like (I did not say "those people"), shame on them.

Sharpton says this is only the beginning. He will set his sights on any radio or TV personality who dares to utter anything remotely troubling to his ears. Look out, Limbaugh, Boortz, and the rest of "you people" in TV and radio land. More tempests in teapots on the horizon.

These media storms are another "opium for the masses", keeping the population occupied with the media's trivial pursuits instead of pondering the more important issues of the day. Perhaps if as much attention was paid to the dismal education system in government schools, or the increasingly high costs of higher education, American youth would grow to disdain such ridiculously over-hyped news stories and demand coverage of more important issues.

The media has decided to give scant attention to the Islamic threat to our way of life in lieu of beaucoup attention to trivial matters. Ironic, isn't it, that, should the Islamists have their way, the MSM, and probablty all media, will be under the thumb of radicals who will put up with no Anna-Nichole Smiths, no American Idols, and no Don Imuses, at all. No women's basketball either, for that matter. See? Problem solved.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


"DALLAS, April 10 (UPI) -- Singer Sheryl Crow wants her fans to do more than have some fun -- she's asking audiences during her U.S. tour to join the fight against global warming. "Mother Earth is a living organism and when she gets sick we get sick," Crow told a crowd at Southern Methodist University in Dallas during her kick-off performance Monday.

"My answer to everything is get on a tour bus and take it to the people," Crow commented."

That's right, Sheryl, the answer to everything is to hop on a large, convenience-filled bus, followed by a truck(s) carrying all your props, maybe another bus with your crew. Who knows how many other buses, vans, planes, will be used by your groupies and hop from city to city. Eleven cities to be exact. It's the answer to everything.

"Taking it to the people" in this case means "mobilizing students to help end global warming." Right. Just let them finish exams first, then chug a few beers, and maybe explain it all to mom and dad and get them to go see "An Inconvenient Truth" as a family fun night.

What's Sheryl going to do? Show clips from Gore's movie? Hand out brochures? Lecture? God forbid! College students hear enough lectures. Assuming the college students attending her concert stick around for any climate-change lecture or keep the brochures (anyone ever seen the litter after a concert?), what will they learn from it?

They'll learn that here's another hypocritical rich celebrity traveling around in style preaching to the great unwashed. She will be telling them about the future she wants them to inhabit, a future that will provide a life less comfortable than the one they are currently living. More darkness, less travel, at least less comfortable travel, more expensive everything, (as food crops get shifted to biofuels all foods will become more expensive), and more importantly, less freedom. Great incentive, Sheryl.

Ubiquitous activist Laurie David is part and parcel of this. She and Sheryl formed the tour idea as "two girls bonding over global warming." How sweet. But there is another girl out there who doubts the veracity of Laurie and Sheryl's professed warming warning. Camille Paglia at gives vent to her skepticism on the matter. I take her considerably more seriously than I do Sheryl Crow. Stick to your day-job, kiddo.

Here are some of Paglia's comments. It's a long bit to have copied and pasted here, but interesting nonetheless.

"...I am a skeptic about what is currently called global warming. I have been highly suspicious for years about the political agenda that has slowly accrued around this issue. As a lapsed Catholic, I detest dogma in any area. Too many of my fellow Democrats seem peculiarly credulous at the moment, as if, having ground down organized religion into nonjudgmental, feel-good therapy, they are hungry for visions of apocalypse. From my perspective, virtually all of the major claims about global warming and its causes still remain to be proved.

Climate change, keyed to solar cycles, is built into Earth's system. Cooling and warming will go on forever. Slowly rising sea levels will at some point doubtless flood lower Manhattan and seaside houses everywhere from Cape Cod to Florida -- as happened to Native American encampments on those very shores. Human habitation is always fragile and provisional. People will migrate for the hills, as they have always done.

Who is impious enough to believe that Earth's contours are permanent? Our eyes are simply too slow to see the shift of tectonic plates that has raised the Himalayas and is dangling Los Angeles over an unstable fault. I began "Sexual Personae" (parodying the New Testament): "In the beginning was nature." And nature will survive us all. Man is too weak to permanently affect nature, which includes infinitely more than this tiny globe.

I voted for Ralph Nader for president in the 2000 election because I feel that the United States needs a strong Green Party. However, when I tried to watch Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" on cable TV recently, I wasn't able to get past the first 10 minutes. I was snorting with disgust at its manipulations and distortions and laughing at Gore's lugubrious sentimentality, which was painfully revelatory of his indecisive, self-thwarting character. When Gore told a congressional hearing last month that there is a universal consensus among scientists about global warming -- which is blatantly untrue -- he forfeited his own credibility.

Environmentalism is a noble cause. It is damaged by propaganda and half-truths. Every industrialized society needs heightened consciousness about its past, present and future effects on the biosphere. Though I am a libertarian, I am a strong supporter of vigilant scrutiny and regulation of industry by local, state and federal agencies. But there must be a balance with the equally vital need for economic development, especially in the Third World...."

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Hostage Release

Were they hostages? I suppose anyone who is held against his will by someone demanding something from someone else is a hostage. What was Iran demanding? An apology from Great Britain that its sailors and marines were illegally in Iranian waters, I guess, and other mea culpas maybe going back to the Crusades. Whatever.

With near universal GPS gizmos in military use I suppose it is known whether or not the "hostages" (or unfortunate "victims of a misunderstanding that could be resolved" *) were actually in Iranian waters. But it seems to be a "he said - he said" situation and we may never know for certain.

Who cried Uncle first? Did Blair's patience and pressure win the day or did Britain show a lack of strength by not blasting Iran off the map, presumably with US help? Did Ahmadinejad fear devastation to Iranian economy, if not the country itself, if he continued to hold the prisoners hostage? Did he feel he had made the Brittish grovel long enough? Or did someone make him an offer he couldn't refuse?

I'm hoping it was the later but I wish the offer had been made sooner. The hostages with images of recent beheadings in their minds must have been near frantic with fear.

By Ahmadinejad's grandstanding oratory yesterday, he seems to feel that his magnanimous "gift" to the show him to be a diplomatic of the first order and not a thug that the western world knows him to be. We remember the other Iranian hostages who spent over a year in Iranian hospitality before being "gifted" back to the United States in 1981. Ahmadinijad was involved in that little escapade as well. They got away with it then and they got away with it now.

When will the next hostage taking be?

*President Bush was chastised for using the term "hostage" by a former Director of News for the British Foreigh Service, John Williams.