Saturday, June 30, 2007

Another Blast From The Past

When ELO first surfaced in America, I have to admit that I wasn't overly impressed. The song that got the airplay was an old Chuck Berry tune, Roll Over Beethoven. I think the addition of traditionally classical instruments to the world of rock & roll was noble and much needed to spice up the genre, but still it didn't do much for me.

But then, they came out with this song, a favorite of the late John Lennon. Here is a live stage version of their hit, Showdown:

The following two songs from the Face The Music LP effectively launched them into "supergroup" status. Here is Evil Woman:

And Strange Magic:

Then, there is one of my favorite ELO songs of all time (at least one that can be found on You Tube). Here is Mr Blue Sky:


Friday, June 29, 2007

NBA Draft Kind To Indy Area Prep Stars

The 2007 NBA Draft

As was expected, the Portland Trailblazers used the top pick of the 2007 Draft to choose the top player in the NCAA, Greg Oden. Most prognosticators also picked his middle school, high school, and college teammate, Mike Conley Jr. to go fourth; and the Memphis Grizzlies did not disappoint them on that.

The real surprise came when another Indianapolis area player Josh McRoberts was chosen later than expected. McRoberts, who played his HS career at Carmel High School and college at Duke, was expected to be a first rounder. But with the disappointment also comes some solace that he will be playing with Oden at Portland, who amazingly found him still available when they exercised their second pick (37th overall).

I don't know nearly as much about McRoberts, as I do Oden and Conley. I watched them from their HS freshman years on. I saw this tall, skinny, awkward 15 year-old kid swat down shots, rebound, and score. I watched this fast slashing point guard, both score and get the ball to whoever was in the best position to score (and that meant Oden much of the time). I watched the awkward fly-swatter bulk up and turn into a very strong inside post player (on both ends of the court). I watched Conley refine his abilities. He has evolved into into one of the premier point guards, in the NCAA. In fact, throughout this whole time I have seen the both of them play, I have maintained that Conley is every bit as good at his position, as Greg is at his. And that's not too shabby.

In their freshman year, they were probably the second best team in the state of Indiana. That year, another Indy team had a well-balanced attack with a more mature and experienced basketball team, Pike High. But after getting eliminated early in the tournament by them, Oden and Conley's LN Wildcats won the next three state championships without much trouble at all.

By all rights, it was practically a cakewalk. The unique thing about it all was, it wasn't all a two-man show. They had some great role players on those teams and all of them functioned well in their positions. They kind of reminded me of those dominant Jordan-led Chicago Bull teams in the 90s. The two stars were usually consistent with outstanding play from the role players. But the best thing about that team was the fact that the stars made everyone else on the team, better. When someone had an off night, someone else stepped up. There was no selfishness, just a desire to win.

Like Jordan and Pippen, both Oden and Conley make others on their teams better; and there is a great chance that will continue, in their new homes.

The thing I see that is so special about Oden is, he is a very grounded young man. His mother, Zoe, is primarily responsible for that. This kid made good grades, never got into trouble, and was a humble young man that understood the team concept. And to be quite honest about it, nothing has really changed from those days.

Conley was/is no slouch, either. His father was a star athlete in his own right, winning the Silver Medal in LA (84) and the Gold in Barcelona (92), both in the triple jump. Both Portland and Memphis will not be disappointed in their selections (both on the court and off), I'll bet on it. Both will most likely be model citizens and will not disappoint fans that shell out their hard earned bucks, for a few hours of sports entertainment.

So to both teams and their fans, I say look forward to some good basketball from some quality young men. Take care of them and support them, if you are an NBA fan.


Because you could be in my position. I have two teams that do not give a damn about winning, at least not that I can tell.

The Lakers are held hostage to Kobe and his quest for stats (and yet, little else). And the Pacers still have lousy management in the form of Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh, which is obvious from their horrible basketball business decisions. These are the same decisions that left them without a draft pick in what many termed, one of the best NBA drafts in history. It's a damned shame that they couldn't/wouldn't work a deal to get one of these men, to include McRoberts. (Or any other outstanding ball player, from anywhere.)

Laker fans are pretty much relegated to watching Kobe night after night get hot and dominate some games, but not win titles. There's no one else to turn to, when he has an off night. Not much chance of any real change after the Lakers' draft night, either. But the real embarassment is Bird Inc. The Pacers traded someone (as yet unnamed) for a #39 pick from Miami (MsM tell anyone you may run into that is connected with the team, thanks be from me, will you?).

They lost their pick because of a trade they made to get Al Harrington back from Atlanta, because he said wanted to win. He said he'd be willing to blend in wherever in the rotation, just to be able to win. No sooner than he got here, he started complaining about minutes. So, they ended up trading him and Stephen Jackson to Golden State, and the Pacers are still weak.

Yay rah!!

(Not just the guys I mention here, but) I hope this entire class of NBA draftees does well. I also hope this will be a new generation that will change the culture of the league (back to one of competition, with sportsmanship and class). I'd like to see it get back to like it was when guys like Russell, Bradley, and West (and even Bird, Magic, and Dr J) played the game. It was a real treat, then.

Breakdown Of The Immigration Vote

Here's how the vote On the Cloture Motion (S.1639) went down.

Yea: 46

Dems 34
GOP 12

Nay: 53

Dems 15
GOP 38

Not Voting: 1 (Dem)

Keep in mind that an overwhelming majority of the American people are against the bill, in its present form. I suspect there are a litany of reasons this is so. But in a nutshell, there were just too many loopholes.

One of the larger sticking points was/is: the American people do not trust the government to close the border and enforce the provisions included in the bill, for proper enforcement in the future. And why should they? Government is not a trustworthy institution. This can easily be concluded by looking at Congress's low approval ratings.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Coulter-Edwards Battle Continues

Before I say what I want to say, I have already stated that I have little use for Ann Coulter's style in an earlier post. That same post was the result of some inappropriate comments made by the commentator, directed at John Edwards. I condemned them then, and still do now.

That was in March. But here in June, we see that the Edwards campaign is refusing to allow the feud to drop. Why? Because her comment was effectively used as a fund raising tool, for a campaign that has little chance to walk on its own. In short the campaign is in trouble without the controversy.

After the initial installment of this political soap opera, the Edwards campaign attempted to cash in on the whole sordid affair, and did. But one must now wonder if that cash flow has dried up, based on the latest incident where Elizabeth Edwards called into a Hardball segment and attempted to fuel a new flow of campaign dollars, by attacking Coulter for something else she said recently.

Mrs. Edwards called on Coulter to stop personally attacking her husband. Here is an article that reports this, but let's highlight something, shall we?

From the article:

On ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday, Coulter was asked about a March speech in which she used a gay slur to refer to Edwards.

"If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot," Coulter said Monday, picking up on remarks made by HBO's Bill Maher. Maher suggested in March that "people wouldn't be dying needlessly" if Vice President Dick Cheney had been killed in an insurgent attack in Afghanistan.

Most people that are getting up in arms about this latest Coulter statement are not going to tell you about the context in which her statement was made. And from the Edwards campaign site we see just that. Note the statement made by Coulter has not been assigned the slightest amount of context (please note that the emphasis is placed by the Edwards staff):

This Monday, Ann Coulter took her pattern of personal attacks to a new level. On national television she said that rather than hurling more homophobic slurs, "If I'm gonna say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

On the very same web page this is highlighted, you will note a plea for donations based on this deliberate deception (emphasis is by the Edwards staff here, as well):

It's up to us to raise the dialogue by taking our message straight to voters. Let's show that Ann Coulter style politics will never carry the day. We have 4 days to reach $9 million. Please donate today

Now, if you hate Republicans and think that the end justifies the means, you will see nothing particularly wrong with this. You might even think this is a brilliant strategy. You may even want to invoke the names of Bush, Cheney, and Rove in your critique, and maybe even Halliburton just for good measure. But if you are guilty of this kind of thing, you may also want to listen this.

But left-wing talking points aside, what we see here is a campaign that has no chance, trying to keep the Coulter feud going for the sole purpose of raising money. Ann isn't helping herself, mind you. In fact, she should stop giving them ammunition by opening her big mouth. But Edwards (being the former ambulance chasing lawyer that he once was) knows a marketing ploy when he sees it. And of course his wife does too, which is why she called the show.

The Edwards campaign is not the only one guilty here, because we know the call was planned. Matthews had prior knowledge of it. John Edwards said that this was his wife's idea, she did on her own. But, I don't buy it. It has all the makings of a calculated strategy.

Matthews has the lowest rated of all the cable news shows, because most objective people see his bias for what it truly is. He is a partisan hack that has very little journalistic talent. (Here is one clip that you won't see in an MSNBC promo, the man in it illustrates my point quite well.) In fact if you notice the ratings week after week, you will see the majority of the MSNBC line-up consistently at the bottom.

NBC, in general, has a credibility problem (as is evidenced by their plummeting ratings on the evening newscast). Brian Williams continues to lose more viewers than Katie Couric. But Matthews never had many viewers to begin with, so his base viewership of Democratic attack dogs is remaining constant at a level we can term, very damned few. MSNBC is a loss leader for NBC's news division, but that is now starting to carry over to the nightly news. How long will it be before we see some changes, is anyone's guess. But if you own stock in GE, never fear. I hear Days Of Our Lives is still pretty popular.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Iranian Unrest May Lead To Uncertainty

CNN has details of the unrest in Iran, over the government's decision to ration gas to the people.

The Iranian government's last-minute decision to ration monthly fuel allotments, as well as increase the price of gas, triggered protests and riots -- a rarity in the Islamic republic -- according to Iranian media reports.

How ironic it is that Iran (an oil producing state) would feel the need to both ration and raise the price of gasoline? But wait, it gets better.

Under the order, most Iranians will be limited to about 26 U.S. gallons (100 liters) per month. The ministry also announced the price would be raised by more than 20 percent to 11 cents per liter (about 42 cents a gallon).

42 cents a gallon and they are complaining? Tough times, I guess. It's hard to feel much empathy, but I'll try.

On second thought, maybe I won't. But what can we expect when a government takes revenues from oil sales and put it into enriching uranium, funding terrorist organizations, and fighting proxy wars to both weaken and subvert the causes of the United States?

Almost sounds like a previous era, doesn't it?

The U.S. ans E.U. playing their cards right in this one is most important, just as it was back in the days of the Cold War. Circumstances are such that conditions are ripening, for further unrest in the republic, if it fails to correct its current course. The more they concern themselves with sanctions, the more the government will need to stick it to the people.

It is also important remember in all of this, the Iranian government must be the one to take the fall for this. To date, there have been no sanctions and realistically, there may never be any. But the very thought of the possibility, is making the Iranian government very nervous. In fact, they are so nervous, they are willing to risk igniting a firestorm (pun intended), just to save fuel for the eminent possibility of getting the squeeze put on them later. (Again, nothing has been decided, yet.)

The Iranian economy is in shambles for the most part. And the fact that they have become dependent on their automobiles, doesn't help their situation much either. Iranians are smart. If this keeps up, they are going to get even smarter and realize that with all of the oil they supposedly have, they should be able to refine their own fuel and not depend. But,when getting a nuke is more important than keeping the promises that the Iranian President made during his campaign, I predict it isn't going to set very well.

Basically, what I am saying here is simple. There may be more where this came from, if the Iranian government doesn't end their obsession with throwing the entire region into chaos, with their foreign policies (that primarily focus on supporting the destruction of Israel). When you see a nation obsessed with things outside its borders and cannot even meet the needs of the people within, you will see an eventual collapse of the entire system. So in all of my musings I must say without hesitation, the challenge is to facilitate this before they get the bomb, not after.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

How To Win Health And Influence People

A lot of people root against Shaq in basketball. For whatever reason, they look at his style of play, as thuggish. (It's usually put out by people that like other teams that play against him.)

But anyone that has ever seen the man with kids would see a special guy that cares a lot about them. He has such a way with them. Right now, he is involved with a program to help decrease childhood obesity. This promo will tell part of the story.

There are not many people having his star power that have tried to address this issue, in a creative way like this. Mixing education with fun is one thing that many may not know how to do. It's an art form, for sure. But, by doing it in a manner such as this, the potential for a positive return is much greater than most other approaches, certainly more than any government program could ever hope to realize.

Education by people that these kids adore and respect will get through to a them far quicker, than the government changing laws. Sure, you can force the kids to not eat food cooked in trans fats and they must comply. But you cannot stop them from eating the wrong foods, cooked in government approved cooking oils. There is much more to cutting down on obesity than politicians voting to ban certain things, all because the medical community says it's expedient to do so and they want votes.

Teaching proper diet is one of the utmost importance. But because many parents are lazy or busy (as hell), the fast food industry has become the all-important family cook for the evening meals. Ads for these places are all over and parents often must succumb to the need to hurry, get the kids fed, and get things done at home so that they can repeat their busy schedule the next day. Doing this sacrifices much of the kids health, present and future.

But think about this a minute. If the kids see those they emulate choosing well, it stands to reason that something like this can work. They do the stupid stuff their heroes do, why wouldn't it stand to reason some may follow down a better path, if led?

I think it does. But it's not going to have an instantaneous affect. It will take a generation to plant the seeds of healthy eating in their heads. First and foremost, the kids have to want to try things that are good for them, which is where those with their attention come into the picture. This means taking some risks, both the athletes and the kids.

After they find things they thought they didn't like, suddenly palatable, they will want to eat more of them. Once they start liking and eating good things more, they will begin to crave them when hungry.

The trick is for the food industry to look at how they market the better foods. Getting guys like Shaq to do this is a start.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Putin's Miscalculation

Russian President Putin is at the propaganda podium again.

THE history of the Soviet Union had fewer black pages in its history than certain other countries, not least the US, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said in a speech.

It's a short article. The question I have is, who is he trying to convince? Himself?

Let's take a look at the Soviet Union. Revolution brought the deaths of the Czar and his family, as well as those that supported him. After Stalin came to power, the deaths by government (democide) were astronomical.

China, Cuba, and Iran also had their democidal moments immediately post revolution. Even France had its "Reign Of Terror".

But where did we read that Americans executed British soldiers and those that sympathized with them, immediately after the American Revolution was won?

If you want to use the American nation as a measuring stick, that's fine. There are some moments in our history that we were not the bright shining city on a hill, but nowhere (save the War Between The States) did Americans kill other Americans for their political beliefs, certainly not in the numbers that the USSR and other despotic regimes did.

Want numbers? Look here.

Really want to learn something? Peruse Dr. R.J. Rummel's work at the University of Hawaii. Do this, then come back here and tell us all how utterly horrible the United States has been throughout its short history.


Some people know first hand the influence Maoist ideology brings to a society and they do not like it. And when a Hollywood star that thinks it's chic to wear such apparel that glorifies murderous thugs like Mao (in their presence), they find out real quick just how offensive the apparel can be. Details here.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Another Blast From The Past

I couldn't really make up mind what I wanted to do with this week's music post. Had a million ideas, but nothing really stood out. So, I put all of the ideas up on a dartboard and came up with this week's theme:

The 90s.

There was a time when I sensed a certain re-emergent renaissance in the music world in the early part of the 90s. A lot of young, talented, and innovative artists hit the scene, at that time. The following cuts are from bands that I feel were the best of the best, from that era.

Cowboy Junkies

From Canada. The following song is one of my favorites. It's not the entire band in this tune, just the two that make up the nucleus. I think, those of you that are not familiar with their music will find them very soothing, very unique.

Matchbox Twenty

I think they are the best band to come of the 90s. They are versatile, unique, and their lyrics have messages. Here's my absolute favorite one. I love most of their music, but this one stands out most (in my view):

Edwyn Collins

Finally, here's a guy that really stood out for a short moment. This song was so unique and different from the tired old 80s carry-overs. But although he still puts out some pretty decent stuff, this one really did it, for me anyway.

Very seldom do I buy two CDs by the same "new" artist. But the Spin Doctors were a band I took exception to this unwritten principle. I cannot embed this one, but you can check it out here.


Friday, June 22, 2007

New Political Evaluation Tool Is Now On The Market

You'll want to get yours while they are still available. It's a new and innovative way to assess the electability of the candidate, of your choice. It's foolproof and guaranteed.

Don't wait, I hear they are selling faster than hotcakes at a Rotary Club breakfast. Hurry on over to Mustang's Social Sense and request your copy,now.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Down With Talk Radio?

Think Progress has an interesting posting on its site, it's about how unfair it is that an overwhelming majority of talk radio shows are conservative. It's really not a new bit of info, most people with a car radio know this already.

Here's how this works:

A radio station is a business. And as we all know from economics class, businesses want to make money. The way the radio business makes money is selling advertising on its radio programming.
That's where this little thing called ratings come in. Ratings help determine how much a station can charge for its ad time. The higher the ratings, the higher the cost and the more revenue for the business.

Some radio stations carry contracts to broadcast certain syndicated shows. The more popular the shows are, the more it costs the station to pay the money charged by the syndicated show. It is at this point, we realize a risk is being taken by the station. Just because the ratings are high for a given show in other parts of the country, does not necessarily translate into ratings in the area of the station taking the risk.

The most important principle to note in all of this is, they must be able to pay for the cost of the show and have some left over to pay bills. If they cannot sell enough local ads on a syndicated show, they cannot continue to run the show. This is evidenced by the constant line-up changes with shows that do not perform well in a given market, in a given time slot.

Liberal/progressive talk shows have been in existence for years. I remember when Alan Colmes had his syndicated show before the one he has now, on FOX. He was the liberal voice in a show with conservative, Barry Farber. Both men were and (as far as I know), still are friends. They both made some money along the way, because people liked them and listened to them.

I also remember a liberal talk show host that occupied the late night slot at Cincinnati's "Big One" 700 WLW. He was known as Carmine Guzman.
Alan Berg, Mike Malloy, and others have made names for themselves, as well. Alan was killed, Mike never really was able to make much a go of anything.

In spite of these examples, it is undeniable that the most revenue comes from conservative talk show hosts. Why that is, is the subject of a lot of debate, especially when the subject is over-intellectualized. But when you get down to the meat of the matter, it's not that hard to understand. They get the ratings and the liberal ones generally don't.

Air America is the biggest case for this argument, there is. Their ratings were so utterly atrocious, they had to pay stations to keep them on. But the real tale of their lack of success comes from the fact that they only average a 1.2 rating. Obviously, they do well in cities like Portland (Oregon) and Madison (Wisconsin), where there is a large number of progressives. They have little trouble with ratings there. That is why they stay on the air in those places and get canceled in places where they flop.

There's no censorship here.
There's no unfairness here.

If there were some evidence pointing to an active attempt by conservatives to censor, if there were some key pieces of evidence pointing to unfairness, the progressive shows would be yanked everywhere. But drive through any city that has a sizable amount of progressives and you will see that isn't the case.
No folks, the market is the culprit here.

If a liberal host could and would put together a show that people would listen to besides a bunch of people calling Bush Hitler, on a daily basis, they might have a chance.
Bill Press makes a good attempt, as does Colmes. Yet, they do not get ratings.

Let's face it, other than NPR, there's no real competitive liberal talk show that can pull the numbers necessary, to compete with the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity. For whatever reason is irrelevant at this point. They just don't.

So, what to do about it? Well the rumors are flying.

The big one is that a couple of influential Democratic lawmakers allegedly want to do a legislative fix. What that would mean, would be anyone's guess.

Realistically, there are a couple of things they could do. But I think it's important to note that either would result in the loss of freedom, specifically, the freedom to run a business they way it should be run.

One choice for those that want to strip freedoms away in the name of partisan politics is, creating regulations that require equal time. The station will lose freedom to pick a show that will make them money and force them to choose one that will not, in the interest of so-called fairness. Half the shows will be money making and the others will not. Who will oversee this is another question.

The other choice would be even more foolish. They could bog down the courts with frivolous lawsuits and drain the profitability of shows they do not agree with. They would do this with the hope of said shows going off the air due to litigation costs. In essence, they would seek to shut them off altogether. I explain it this way only because I do not think Congress would be able to withstand the onslaught of outrage it would cause, if they tried to pull a Hugo Chavez.

But, if you think that Democrats have a lock on this disdain for talk radio, think again. AC, of
Fore Left fame, covered Trent Lott's recent statement about talk radio, all because the talk show hosts didn't toe the President's line on immigration.

Please realize this has nothing to do with politics, because I feel as strongly about this as I do about the right to blog. If someone would try to silence blogs like the Daily Kos and Huffington Post, I would defend the blogs against any such attempt and vigorously. Likewise, if the right tried to take Air America off by force or through some kind of bonehead legislation, I would support Air America 100%. And as most of you all know, I am usually not in agreement with any of those outfits, the vast majority of the time.

This is a dangerous precedent to set. Why?

Well, think about this:

What if someday the tables are turned and liberals are more popular on talk radio and there's a regulation saying that the stations must air equal time to lower grossing conservatives. Would Think Progress and the others be so concerned then?

What if this spreads to other media entities like TV, newspapers, and periodicals? How about the internet? Would bloggers want to be told that they must give equal time of their own blogs to the opposing side?

No, if this is true, this is a pretty stupid move here. It's stupid because the ramifications of trying to interfere with a legitimate market (all because one doesn't think a point of view is being heard enough), are not what we want. It reeks of more government control (that progressives seem to think is the answer to each and every perceivable injustice, conceivable). It's a subtle, passive-aggressive form of putting tighter controls on the media.

My advice to progressives that want to have their fair share of radio shows, is two-fold. One, find an intelligent liberal that can put together a quality show that voices your opinions, one that would cause anyone (conservative or liberal) to want to appear on it. Two, listen to it and make it popular.

Placing Blame Where It Belongs

Irshadi Manji's latest essay is certainly not going to win over many in the dark and depraved underworld, which is also known as radical Islam.

GROWING up in Vancouver, I attended an Islamic school every Saturday. There, I learned that Jews can't be trusted because they worship "moolah, not Allah", meaning money, not God. According to my teacher, every last Jew is consumed with business.

But looking around my neighbourhood, I noticed that most of the new business signs featured Asian languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Punjabi and plenty of Urdu. Not Hebrew, Urdu, which is spoken throughout Pakistan.

Those that want to explain away the atrocities of the depraved killers that kill in the name of Allah as misunderstood, may want to read her piece with an open mind. (That includes Jimmy Carter and those that look to him as a political deity.) For, she is in a unique position to know and understand these things. It doesn't make sense to thoroughly discount what this woman says, just because one hates George Bush and thinks he is the main reason these thugs hate America (and Israel) so much.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Carter's Confusion

From the JP comes this gem:

The United States, Israel and the European Union must end their policy of favoring Fatah over Hamas, or they will doom the Palestinian people to deepening conflict between the rival movements, former US President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday.

Why am I not surprised? Chalk this up to another Jimmy Carter moment that defies reason.

For all of you that see nothing wrong with his stance, consider this:

No one made Hamas extract Fatah from Gaza by the use of illegal force. They chose their own path. Now they must be dealt with, however President Abbas chooses to do so. And it is the right of the EU and the US to choose whom it will support and whom it will not. Mr Carter had no trouble choosing to support the Sandinistas (by withholding support from Somoza), boycotting the 1980 Olympics due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and supporting the Shah over the radical elements that were to become the power structure in Modern-day Iran, all because he made a value judgment.

Besides that, it makes good military and political sense to isolate Hamas, because they are not legitimate. When they behave as they have done over the last couple of weeks, they have lost their claim to legitimacy. This would be like the Democrats or the Republicans running out the other, by force. Isolation will now become Hamas' worse enemy, which is something they should have considered before they took their illegal actions.

But, Mr. Carter and I have a different opinion here. He says that no matter what, both sides should be treated equally. That means Hamas can do whatever they want, right or wrong, and expect to receive the same benefit of a doubt as the side that did NOT kick the other out. Just label Mr. Carter the Dr. Spock of politics, I guess.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Multiculturalism: How Far Is Too Far?

Here's an interesting article I ran across this past weekend in my surfings. It's found in the City Journal and it's written by John Leo, one of the better print journalists I have read over the years.
Commencement weekend is hard to plan at the University of California, Los Angeles. The university now has so many separate identity-group graduations that scheduling them not to conflict with one another is a challenge. The women’s studies graduation and the Chicana/Chicano studies graduation are both set for 10 AM Saturday. The broader Hispanic graduation, “Raza,” is in near-conflict with the black graduation, which starts just an hour later.

Planning was easier before a new crop of ethnic groups pushed for inclusion. Students of Asian heritage were once content with the Asian–Pacific Islanders ceremony. But now there are separate Filipino and Vietnamese commencements, and some talk of a Cambodian one in the future. Years ago, UCLA sponsored an Iranian graduation, but the school’s commencement office couldn’t tell me if the event was still around. The entire Middle East may yet be a fertile source for UCLA commencements.
I am not against being proud of one's heritage. I understand it, it's something that helps us all better understand who we are. In my city, we have people from all over the world living here. It's nowhere near what it is in New York, Los Angeles, or a Chicago, mind you. But there's a good mix of international flavor here (certainly more than many people that have never visited here, may think). We have Mexican, Italian, German, French, Greek, and Middle Eastern festivals. We have restaurants that serve those same cuisines, as well as from Russia, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Peru, Thailand, Vietnam, Morocco, Turkey, and many others. Multiculturalism, within itself, is not a bad thing. It gives us all more choices and helps promote learning.

But when we have something going on like what is being reported in this article, it makes me wonder how many have forgotten the lessons of Rome and other multicultural civilizations. Many of them tried to bend over backward to accommodate a variety of people and over time, it was a contributing factor to their overall demise.

I mean, how much is too much? When will everyone be happy and content? How far is this allowed to go in other countries?

To not allow someone to express themselves in a language they know or to practice the traditions they or their ancestors grew up with, is deplorable. But it's an entirely different issue altogether, when each and every group demands to be accommodated by a country that has so graciously accepted them. Not every country is willing to do this, much of it is for this very reason, right here.

If I go to a German or French University and earn a degree, is it realistic and practical for me to think I will get a commencement, especially for Americans? If I go to China, is it fair for me to demand that they accommodate me, because I do not speak Chinese?

As one who lived abroad for two years (many years ago), I can tell you that I would have never dreamed of expecting anyone I met in Germany, France, Spain, or Holland to go to such extremes for me. I made every effort to learn the languages and customs, and to not violate any social mores along the way.


Because I was a guest in
their country, not the other way around. And I appreciated the opportunity to live and work in a foreign land, seeing and learning things that were inevitably going to become an integral influence in my life, thus making me a more intelligent and well-rounded individual.

Another Blast From The Past

Sorry I am a little late with this one. Usually, I try to get these up earlier in the weekend, but I wanted the right timing on this one.

Mrs. Sunsett has been out of town for over a week now and will be home soon, after a whirlwind tour of the south. This coming week also marks her birthday. So as a long distance dedication (if she even sees the blog) from Sunsett's Coast-to-Coast, this week's musical post will be part of my present to her.

Her very favorite artist in the entire world is Rod Stewart. I liked him most, when he first came out of obscurity in the early 70s. He was a hard rocker with a sentimental edge to him, which gave him his broad-based appeal. Both men and women were attracted to his gritty vocals. But, I think most would agree that his appeal today is mostly with women.

So it makes perfect sense that Mrs. Sunsett, being a woman, stills likes him.

A lot.

Here is the song that catapulted one of the most successful artists in the rock genre, into super stardom, Maggie May:

At that time, people also got hooked on Side B of Maggie May. In this video, the sound is remarkably decent compared to other cheap cell phone recordings. But the video is not. Here's side B, Reason To Believe:

While many 70s artists were fading away, Hot Rod was not going to let the times pass him by. Here is a hit from the early 80s, which sealed his transition into a new decade and the new wave era. Here is Young Turks:

Now that I have been selfish and posted three of my favorite Rod Stewart songs, I probably should play one that she likes. This one is a bit mushy and if you are not given to that kind of thing, here's your chance to bail out now. Here's You're In My Heart:


(Happy Birthday Schnookems)


Happy Father's Day

Of all the challenges I have endured throughout my life (and there have been many), I have to say that fatherhood was the toughest of them all. But with the travails that come with it, also come the rewards that cannot be adequately described. Despite the roller coaster ride that it brings with it, I wouldn't trade it for the world and I'd do it again if I had to. It is one of the most gratifying and satisfying roles I have ever filled.

So to all of my readers that are fathers, this one day is set aside for you. I hope you have a great day.

Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Nifong Disbarred

After months of Mike Nifong holding the cards of justice, today it was justice's turn to play out. The Duke Rape Case prosecutor was disbarred by the ethics panel that heard his case, late this afternoon.

District Attorney Mike Nifong will be disbarred for his disastrous prosecution of three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape, a disciplinary committee decided Saturday. Even the veteran prosecutor said the punishment was appropriate.

The chairman of the committee,
F. Lane Williamson, spent much time explaining both how grievous it was and how much damage was caused, by the wanton and willful disregard of the facts by Mr. Nifong, not to mention the fact that his lies and deceits affected the entire criminal justice system. One of the aggravating factors cited by Mr. Williamson was the low number of safeguards in place, in respect to prosecutors. Furthermore he said Mr. Nifong acted out of self-deceit, brought on by self-interest.

PYY has covered this case from the time it was apparent that the facts did not support the allegations, through the time that prosecutor misconduct was beginning to look evident, up until today.

Some thoughts:

To all those that rushed to judgment and then maintained the rush to judgment was justified despite the evidence, it would be wise to re-think that kind of knee-jerk reaction, in future cases. Granted, Mike Nifong bears the overwhelming weight of accountability, but there are others that are guilty of taking this to the level it reached.

All of those that looked at this case and used their positions to further advance this gross miscarriage of justice, not based on the evidence but solely on the allegations, need to suffer some kind of penalty as well. They include but are not limited to the following:

The 88 Duke professors that took out a full-page ad, before all of the facts were known.

Al Sharpton

Jesse Jackson

Malik Zulu Shabazz of The New Black Panther Militia

The National Organization for Women

All Assistant DA's that worked under Mike Nifong and had knowledge of this case.

There are more, to be sure. But you probably will not hear much from them, except weak and feeble excuses, added to double talk and justifications. If any had the first bit of integrity they would apologize as loudly and publicly, as they cried wolf alongside the accuser. All of them played an integral part and all will no doubt be looked at closer, as the days move onward. There are criminal and civil cases to be considered, and the logical next step (in my estimation) would be for the State Bar to look at those within the DA's office. Then, all other agencies should look at the others, as the circumstances warrant.

Duke University should reprimand those 88 professors and look at all of their policies that pertain to this kind of case, for all subsequent and future cases.

But again, if anyone that used their positions to further advance the lies and deceits which were being used to advance a false story had an ounce of moral fortitude, they would come clean and admit the error of their ways. But, as I fully suspect, the silence will remain deafening.

Foreign Invasion

No, I am not talking about our southern border with Mexico, with holes large enough to drive an earth mover through undetected. And I am not talking about our border to the north, where Canadians pass through to avoid the long waits for medical care.

I am talking about Europeans. No, the Spanish Armada is not anchored in the harbor outside the port of Baltimore, either. The invasion I speak of is that of F-1 fans invading the fair city of Indianapolis for what looks like could be the last U.S Grand Prix, at least at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

From day one, Tony George has bent over backwards to accommodate Bernie Ecclestone, the arrogant and flamboyant leader of F-1. From the very first USGP at IMS, the aristocracy of the organization has tried to make the entire effort look like some kind of bumbling peasant's operation that is not worthy of their presence. From the very outset of the F-1 relationship, the Formula One officials have acted as if the IMS needed them, more than they needed the speedway.

F-1 officials stayed at the very best hotels Chicago had to offer and flew down daily, as if Indianapolis had no four star hotels that could accommodate their delusions of being royalty. They secluded themselves from the press, certainly more so than was expected of a group that wanted to open F-1 up to a lucrative market that craved more racing, on an international level.

Then, there was the great 2005 tire controversy. That debacle saw a whopping six cars race around a track that has seen many great races over the decades, over a safety issue caused by bad tires.

So in essence, the F-1 crowd can certainly say this is a two-bit operation if it makes them feel better. That's fine with me.

But as I think about F-1 at the IMS, I remember this is where the largest crowd ever in the history of the series, gathered to watch a Grand Prix. When the three top finishers of the opening race stood on the podium to the cheers of over 250,000 people, I saw the awe in the faces of Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barichello, and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. I watched as they were amazed that so many people could be interested enough in shelling out the enormous ticket prices to watch a bunch of Europeans play "follow the leader" behind Schumacher.

So here we are at what could be the last U.S. Grand Prix for a long while. Ecclestone has made it clear that he doesn't need F-1 to be in the States for it to be successful. And in reality, he's right. But when you drive down Georgetown Road alongside the west side of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you see the many banners of the great racing legends that have driven at that track, over the many years. It is then that it becomes strikingly apparent, the U.S. doesn't need F-1 either.


Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star seems to agree with me somewhat on this. Here is his column from today's paper.

Friday, June 15, 2007

News In Brief (And The Usual Opinionated Commentary)

As you may have guessed, I have been at a full-speed run for the last few days (especially the last couple), so here are some things the PYY News Center have been following, when able to do so:

Nifong Resigns

"Throughout the years I have served as a prosecutor I have always tried to do the right thing," a tearful Mike Nifong said. "In this case, I was trying to do the right thing. Much of the criticism directed to me in the is case is justified. The allegations that I'm a liar, however, are not justified."

Well, we will let the decision-makers judge that. His willingness to resign (as admirable as it might be) is long overdue. His willingness to admit "some" mistakes is expected. He shouldn't hold back, he should just be honest. He should tell how he let the Black Panthers, Al and Jesse types, and hard radical (all men are pigs) feminists sway his judgment, all for the purpose of winning re-election.

I mean let's look at this a second. This guy may very well have been a decent prosecutor and a good lawyer. Maybe he's not a bad guy. I don't know, I cannot say for sure, I do not know him personally.

But as a public official he severely miscalculated some things, and some damned important ones too. Now, it's time to pay the piper and move on with life. And if I was him, I'd be ready to liquidate some assets to pay his attorney and the now cleared players that had their lives destroyed over this, so he could get a pension.

Abbas Appoints new PM

Ah, the peace-loving people of Hamas (Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, and other terror organizations too). The world cannot be so blind, as to not see who wants peace and who doesn't. Because from where I sit, this cannot be adequately defended, in any setting.

Hamas has shown the world that peace is not going to be easy, as long as the world tolerates these organizations doing whatever the hell they please. There will be no peace as long as there are nations, willing to arm these that hate peace. Until people are sick of dying and are not taught that Americans and Jews are Satan, there will be no chance at peace. None, nada, zilch, zero.

You can use the argument that we created this, but the fact remains there will be no peace until the organizations that hate peace stop loving war more.

NBA Season Ends

Being a Laker and Pacer fan, I have never been much of a Spurs fan. But hats off to them, they are the champs. They just had too many weapons for anyone to counter, this year. But more significant is the fact, I didn't watch one damned quarter of the NBA all year long. Not one.

I am tired of the thug mentality in the league, which has been permitted to exist. There was the Pacers brawl with Detroit, the Pacers and their affinity for getting into trouble in nightclubs after hours, and the fans from the All-Star game seeing the need to shoot up the town after its conclusion. That's enough for me. In addition to not watching one damned quarter, I spent not one damned dime on any damned NBA attire either.

Dolphins Found Shot In San Diego

Bastards!! Dolphins are one my favorite mammals.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

When Hope Remains Dim

I have been both supportive and critical of our efforts in Iraq. At times, I have made what I believe to be valid assessments and not all of them have been positive. Whether pro or con, the issues are complex and detailed, there is no one answer to any of this.

Yet, the fact remains, we are in a critical phase in the Iraq campaign, right now. The MSM has been remiss in making sure the negative gets much attention (and that much is expected). So it is not wonder there's an Iraq fatigue factor, in play right now. They also downplay or fail to report (altogether), any good news that comes about. That makes it hard to be optinistic about much. So with the understanding that I fully know that not everything I see is a particularly accurate picture (as it pertains to specific events), I still see some things that need to be considered (by those that have the ability and authority to say, yea or nay to whatever they will).

The crux of the matter rests on one straight question and it must be directed towards those that think our present course is good, as is:

What is Plan B going to be, if this surge does not work as hoped?

I have to say, I am not convinced that there is a strong desire on the part of many Iraqis, to be self-reliant and be responsible for their own security and welfare. Any doubts? Read this article from the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) - About one in six Iraqi policemen trained by U.S.-led forces had been lost through attrition by last year—they were killed or wounded, deserted or just disappeared, a senior U.S. military commander said.

And continuing violence is prompting officials again to increase the size of the Iraqi army, said Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who until recently headed the training effort.

Then, there is this story from The Australian. And then, there this from IHT.

So, in the spirit of healthy debate I will pose some questions for any and all to ponder, or answer.

What is our real objective here now? Is it realistic? Does it give us a good opportunity for success, or is it a long shot? I ask these things because, we need to be thinking about what (if any) our next approach will be, if this surge does not work. Will we stay further and if we do, will it really matter? I really do not see how it can, if the Iraqis don't grow some testes and defend themselves against those that hope to plunge it into civil war.

I have heard some early reports that there was lax security at the Samarra mosque, and frankly, it doesn't surprise me. The Iraqi government is on the take and reeks of putrid corruption, the police and military are not functional, and are infiltrated with agents from the enemy. So all of the troops we have would not be able to get into the hearts of the Iraqis, themselves. All of the resources in the entire military cannot make someone want freedom. And they cannot make them want to defend it, if they do not want it.

Now, I am not saying that pulling out is necessarily the answer. I am not not saying it isn't, either. But folks, the American people are not going to be so long suffering if something doesn't make a turn in a positive direction, and soon. I have to ask myself if I am willing to support much of the same, forever. Mind you, I am not saying that I expect the moon, the stars, and the sun, on a silver platter for my personal enjoyment either. However I want it clear that I am saying, if we have any sense about this, we will look at another path to achieve the same results, if this surge is does not produce satisfactory results. Or we will have to cut our losses, let the Iraqis sink or swim, and find another way to combat the jihadists.

There may come a point in time where we seriously need to consider partitioning the country and let the chips fall where they may. We may have to secretly give them some ultimatums and benchmarks. We may have to pull something else entirely out of our hat, to throw the enemy off guard. We may need to consider that whenever we finally pull back (be it tomorrow or ten years from now), there's going to be a civil war. That's a lot to ponder, I know. But whatever we do, we need to be prepared to do something, because there is much to consider here. The stakes are high now. There is dissension as there has always been from the beginning, but now it's gaining steam from people that are seeing a dependent, floundering, incompetent, and unwilling Iraqi government, use this great nation as a pro bono police force and while the Iraqis are becoming nothing more than welfare recipients, militarily. In short, the gravy train cannot continue indefinitely, without some serious modification in behavior on the part of the Iraqis.

I am not in the mood to watch the US go down for a cause that the Iraqis do not care enough about. I do not want to see us take the heat because they are not willing to defend and protect their fragile democracy. So, to all my my very fine conservative friends that I love and respect dearly (and liberals too), help me understand this from a more intelligent and realistic perspective. Or better yet, help me understand why the Administration is being so rigid in it's approach towards shifting strategies. Help me see that there is a chance and that we will do what it takes to achieve victory in a convincing way. I ask all of this, because I am starting to think that the status quo isn't a good bet, right now. We need a new strategy, before the rug gets pulled out by Congress and it's all for nothing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thompson, Giuliani In A Dead Heat

Statistically speaking, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson are even. So says an LA Times/Bloomberg poll and so says a Rasmussen poll.

From the LAT:

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani holds first place in the survey, with support from 27% of the Republicans and independents who said they plan to vote in the party's 2008 primaries.

But Thompson, an actor who played a prosecutor on NBC's "Law & Order," runs just behind, with 21%. Indications are he will join the race within the next month.

From Rasmussen comes this extra tidbit of information:

A week ago, Giuliani had a six percentage point lead over Thompson, 23% to 17%.

Now it's tied at 24%. And he hasn't even spent a dime.

In Their Own Words

The last time I used this title for a post, was in this post.

In this installment, I present to you a video which sounds like Al Gore has an understanding of Iraq, far from the rhetoric he uses today to describe the current situation. The sad part of it is, had he and his Commander In Chief acted and taken the approach he criticizes the one Bush the Elder's administration for not taking, who knows if 9/11 would have occurred? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is true, the people that have utterly condemned this administration will not want to watch this video.

Give it a listen.


Let me just go on to say that this is but one reason, I have lost a lot of respect for the Democratic Party. This is why I criticize them for their hypocrisy. If there were just policy differences about things that didn't affect national security or morale of the service men and women that are engaged in combat right now, it'd be one thing. But when someone wants to politicize something now that he/she was politicizing then (on opposite sides of the issue), an issue that means life or death to people that are carrying out the orders of those that sent them there, I get a bit irritated.

Al Gore has accused this President of lying to the nth degree, since the day this conflict began. He said,
He lied to us” - “He betrayed this country” - “He played on our fears. Now, we see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears, his condemnation of Bush the Elder for not doing enough to get Saddam under control, back in the 1992 Campaign.

So I ask you all. Was Gore lying then, or is he lying now?

Remembering :The Twenty Year Anniversary Of A Monumental Speech

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the now famous Ronald Reagan speech, where he encouraged Secretary Gorbachev to "tear down this wall". That wall fell later after he was out of office, but the close proximity of the words and the deeds lead many to believe that this one speech was very instrumental in the dream becoming a reality.

Growing up during the Cold War, no one really gave much thought that they'd ever see a reunited Germany, much less the fall of the Iron Curtain. But, Reagan had a vision and wanted to see that vision become reality, to facilitate a brighter hope and future for those that lived under the oppressive Soviet empire and create a more peaceful world.

How much of that came because of him will no doubt be the subject of many debates well into the future. Where a person stands on that issue will depend entirely on the politics of that particular person. But to deny that Reagan played any part in that event, simply denies the reality of the situation.

Here is an interesting article on that speech and how it compares and contrasts with some others.

Also here is a list of 10 interesting facts about some other famous presidential speeches.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

News In Brief (And The Usual Opinionated Commentary)

Much was abuzz around here this weekend. And, as is usually the case when that happens, it's time for some links to things I did get a chance to read, in my limited time online:

1. The NY Post ran an interesting book review, leaving us with some intriguing thoughts (about the book and its subject matter). You can read it here.


2. The President is soon to visit Vietnam. And to show how pleased the Vietnamese government is with it, they release a jailed dissident. Not complaining mind you, but I wonder how many visits it's going to take to get the rest out. I also wonder, how do those that served in Vietnam feel about doing business with them?

I know it's been over thirty years since the pull-out, but old scars run deep sometimes, and understandably so.


3. Well, as of this writing, Paris Hilton is still in jail. There has been no funny business like the stunt that was pulled just a little over four calendar days, after the fact. But I guess she's not doing so well.

"Being in jail is by far the hardest thing I have ever done," Hilton, 26, said in a written statement issued by her attorney, Richard Hutton.

Doing nothing but passing the time away in a boring cell is hard? Try doing it in a terrorist cell's dungeon, not knowing if the next time the guards come in you may lose your head. That would seem little bit harder, to me. Maybe if someone close to her could point that out to her, she could gain some better insight and perspective.

Nah, forget I said anything. (It ain't gonna happen.)


4. Foreign policy officials and pundits had better start thinking about this next story now. It's not a matter of if any more, but when? Either we let them have it or we don't. If we don't, fine, then there had better be a plan in place. If we do, there's no need to waste any time, saying we don't and just going through the motions with lip service so everyone can feel good about themselves.


5. A new era in French politics may be emerging, as the Sarkozy camp is expected to do very well today in parliamentary elections. Don't look for too much though. Too much embracing of the U.S. too quick will throw things into disequilibrium, way too fast for the system to catch up with it. It's just nice knowing that although there will always be fundamental differences between the two nations, there won't be a slithering snake in the Champ-Elysees trying to undermine everything the U.S, tries or wants to do. No more mixed messages from Paris.

Well, that's all I have time for right now, folks. Count this as the Monday morning post, as I am just too damned tired to think of anything else to write.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Another Blast From The Past

I never was able to understand what people could see in Bob Dylan. But know this one thing, the man was a heck of a songwriter and there many moments could jam with the best of them. His voice wasn't good, but his music balanced any nasalities that would otherwise grate on your nerves.

Here are a couple of my favorite tunes, by him. The first one is from the Prince's Trust concert in 1996. Ron Wood joined him for this performance of Silvio:

One of his better tunes that kept him relevant in the 80s was this one, entitled Jokerman:

There's one band (that if you listened close enough to) from the 80s and 90s, you can hear some faint Dylan influences was a band from Athens, Georgia. REM. Here are a couple of my favs from them. The first one is their first big hit, The One I Love:

I always thought this song was their best. Here is Orange Crush:


Chinese Move Highlights Nostalgic Irony

Back during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, when one side expelled spies, a similar move was made on the other side. No worries, it's just the way business was done. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and soon others were sent in to take their place.

But now that the Cold War is over, the "Trade War" is on. And this time it's with China.

From the IHT:

Raisins and health supplements imported from the United States failed to meet Chinese safety standards and have been returned or destroyed, the country's food safety agency said Friday.

The move comes as China itself faces international criticism, especially in the United States, over a series of scandals that have plagued Chinese food, drugs and other products from poisoned cough syrup to tainted toothpaste and pet food.

Inspectors in the ports of Ningbo and Shenzhen found bacteria and sulfur dioxide in products shipped by three American companies, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said.

"The products failed to meet the sanitary standards of China," the agency said in a brief notice posted on its Web site...

Of course, there is no information given on how many people in China got sick on American products. But the one part that gives this away as a farce can be found in this sentence from the article:

...No details were given on when or how the inspections were conducted.

If I am making an educated guess, I would say, this was already decided before the ships hit the port. But hey, that's just me.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Simple Life

I wasn't going to post anything on the Paris Hilton saga. But the intense interest this story has generated thus far, by far surpasses any other story covered today.

While the G-8 was meeting about matters that may affect billions of people, the media was deeply obsessed with one little person who promotes no theories, and makes no policy. Basically. she is of none effect, except to present a poor example for those that are in the formative years of their life.

Why do I say this?

I don't think Putin was much affected when was promoting, his counter proposals. Nor do I think she was at the front of William Jefferson's mind, before and after he entered his not guilty plea. And, I really do not think it weighed heavily on the Iraeli Prime Minister's psyche, while he was announcing Israel would cede the Golan Heights region to Syria.

You see, the world is a complex place that requires attention to be placed on significant issues and events; and frankly, Paris Hilton's legend really isn't much of a factor at all, when you see the big picture. It's not so hard to understand this, when you realize where this falls in the pecking order of importance.

But today, the attention was swung toward a young girl that has had much of it in her life, mostly because of who she is and nothing else. This was a day that a real simple person was able to knock the threats of Putin, the immigration bill, and the post-debate chatter, right off of "lead story status" without as much as a blink of an eye.

Don't get me wrong here. In a parental way, I do feel sorry for her in some ways. And here's why I say this.

Paris has never had to cope with disappointment a day in her life. She never earned or worked her way into success, she never had to go without something because it wasn't in the family budget. Mommy and daddy never allowed her to suffer loss and feel pain, not without smoothing it over with material things to soothe her broken spirit. She was never made to be accountable for much of anything.

Kids that grow up with this level of privilege and affluence, rarely get the opportunity to experience sadness without some kind artificial pain killer to put the smile back on their faces. They never learn how to process adversity in a healthy way, which is a way that leads to the development of healthy coping mechanisms. In fact, many children of privilege develop some very dangerous maladaptive coping mechanisms to ease their pain and manipulate those around them, when others do not give into their every want and desire, like their parents did.

With all of that said, she did the crime. She got popped "driving while suspended" not once but twice. She was late for her hearing. In essence she felt that in the end, the law did not apply to her. Even more than that, she flunked the attitude test, which is the first test you have to pass when you face a judge. So now it is known by all, she has found out it's hard to win friends and influence the judiciary, especially when she tries to manipulate a credible judge that respects the rule of law (and applies it fairly).

For that, she is being taught a lesson (but only if she learns it).

To make a long point shorter - like many of us, Paris didn't get her way today. But it wasn't the end of the world for us. We just plugged along and dealt with whatever we were faced with. Yet in some odd twist, this by itself was not the gem of this story. The real clincher of this whole thing lies in the form of a most intriguing case study that reveals to us all: What can happen to a second generation spoiled brat, when they have to come to some stark realizations.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Burning And The Music

I am still in the midst of a busy stretch. Long day yesterday and it looks to be another one today. So here is something to look at while I am mining salt:

AC, one of my favorite bloggers and a distinguished regular commenter here at PYY, is not only a thinker, but is quite creative in presenting his musings. Right now he appears to be headed for the level of disenchantment with the President that I am, albeit for reasons different than me.

His post Fiddling On The Balcony is a must read, whether you agree with him or not.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Congressional Approval Ratings Drop To Match That Of President

From ABC News comes this story:

The Democrats in Congress have lost much of the leadership edge they carried out of the 2006 midterm election, with the lack of progress in Iraq being the leading cause. Their only solace: President Bush and the Republicans aren't doing any better.

Lucky for the Dems is the fact that the Republicans have not been able to capitalize on this skid. Nowhere is there a bright shining moment for either party, because both parties are content to keep the status quo. Both want business as usual and neither thinks there is any good reason to change their approach. Both are an embarrassment to the people they represent, in my opinion.

The Dems promised they would end corruption, they haven't. They promised they would work longer weeks, they haven't. They promised to restore the people's confidence in the system, and they haven't.

The Dems promised the American people that they would end the war. This was a promise that they knew they could not keep, once the election was over and the numbers were known. Despite knowing they didn't have the numbers to override any Presidential veto, they made a charade out of the process by trying to dictate terms to the President. These were terms that they knew they didn't have the authority to implement, yet they wasted valuable time and money trying, anyway.

Those that voted for Democrats because they wanted the war to end, are just now realizing, they were used. They are not happy because they feel like their cause was used as a cornerstone of their platform to gain power; once they gained that power, they felt forgotten and left out in the cold.

But in all fairness to the Democrats, some of the expectations of the anti-war crowd have been very unrealistic. The notion that you would just be able to pull the rug out from under the war (by cutting off funding), is naive. As Rep. David Obey told both the Marine mom that hassled him awhile back and the anti-war questioner that tried to blindside him at a news conference, there is no magic wand. Yet they persist in expecting to see one produced, at the snap of a finger. They do not have a mandate, they cannot override a veto, hence they cannot dictate terms to the Executive Branch.

Now, I am not criticizing the anti-war crowd here, for their opposition to the war. Many simply believe in a most sincere manner that war is wrong. For them, it's a matter of principle and a moral issue that they just cannot compromise. If that is the case for a given individual, I can respect that despite the fact that I do not agree with them. What I cannot respect is the fact that many that scream the loudest about pulling out now, are the ones that voted to send us there in the first place. (SEE: My recent post, Haste Makes Waste)

With that said, allow me to point out something else interesting found in the ABC article, I linked to:

There are real concerns about what lies ahead for Iraq and the United States alike. If the United States withdraws without civil order first being restored, seven in 10 Americans see any of three possibilities as at least somewhat likely: Full-scale civil war, parts of Iraq becoming a base of operations for terrorists targeting the United States and parts of Iraq falling under Iranian control.

For all of the wishing and hoping that we would just end this war and walk away, this is (at very least) in the back of a lot of people's minds right now. As I pointed out in the Haste Makes Waste post, we are currently seeing an outcome of unintended consequences in Iraq.

We did not adequately plan for the fall of Saddam and the power vacuum that was certain to follow. We completely disbanded the Iraqi military forces, without thought to the resentment it would create within the ranks of those ousted troops, and the will they would muster up in resisting our presence.

We counted on the Iraqi people to welcome us with open arms after the tyrant was deposed and many did. But what we did not count on was the fact that Saddam (in his craftiness) built an elite structure faithful to him, albeit at the expense of two-thirds of the nation. That one-third has been the source of much of the resistance that still exists today. (The other portions are comprised of foreign fighters and Shiites that are getting their support from Iran.)

By miscalculating in these areas, we have been charged with the almost impossible task of raising a new military and police force that is loyal, to the concept of a free and democratic Iraq and not a brutal dicatator. In short, this is nowhere near where it needs to be, in order to be in a position to pull back. For this and the other miscalculations I have mentioned, the accountability and the responsibility lies completely at the feet of the Administration. They cannot push the blame on anyone else, at this point.

But the real miscalculation has been in the area of strategy. We have tried to fight a politically correct war and frankly, there is no such thing. We saw the insertion of politics in Vietnam and we know that outcome was certainly less than favorable, even when putting it in a good light. The Dems that voted for this war and now condemn it are guilty of giving encouragement to those, who want this to become that.

So, if you wonder why the Dems are losing the battle of popularity and wondering why the GOP will not gain any ground from it, look no further than the conduct of all of our elected officials that supported this war from the beginning. I blame those that voted for it and now are playing politics with it, for the specific purpose of empowering themselves. And I blame those that put together a poorly planned operation and did not take into account the potential problems that have been created, by the decision to implement this action.

I have two hands. One points to the Dems that have played their silly political games and one that points to the GOP that failed to put together an effective post-Saddam strategy. The only problem with this is, we are in a two-party system that is so entrenched in our government that to get mad at one and vote for the other, is a vote for incompetence either way. I truly wish there was an entry on my ballot that said none of the above. Because is I had my way about it, I'd fire the entire damned bunch. Neither party is worth anything right now, neither has a leader that will deliver.

Note-I will be very busy and away from the computer much of the day. Here are some things to consider (that pertain the subject of this post), if you are interested:

1. Victor Davis Hanson has some things stated much more eloquently than I can, check his latest essay out.

2. If we do not watch out, there may be some trouble brewing between Turkey and the Kurds that live in Northern Iraq that may throw another unintended consequence into the mix. Take a look at this piece from Peter Brookes of the NY Post.

3. Here is another piece from Dan Senor of the WSJ, on whether immediate withdrawal is a reasonable option or not.