Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Taking Stock

All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that.
--Baltasar Gracian

This is the time of the year when we traditionally take stock of how far we've come in the past 12-months, assess our current status, and begin to look forward at what the New Year can bring.
Not what it will bring...
Not what it may bring...
What the New Year can bring.

Many of you will be making New Year's resolutions: resolving to do something different; resolving to make something better; resolving to change course or take a different tack.

All well and good and worthy excercises--but be realistic in your consideration of how you fared in 2009, and what your expectations should be for 2010.

I've heard many comments about being glad when 2009 is put behind us, that it was a horrible year, that this was the worst decade, and of fears of what the "oughts" might portend for the decade that is to follow. That kind of thinking is foolish and short-sighted.

Unless you're taking a dirt-nap, 2009 was a good year for all of us. Even if you lost a job, lost a friend, lost a mate, lost a parent, lost a child--all horrible and traumatic events in anyone's life--there is a net effect from having gone through that experience that is a postive: You survived it.

Even if the outcome wasn't what you wanted or expected, the fact that you got through the experience can be viewed as a benefit--if you learned from it, were strengthed by the adversity, or at the very least, now can count that event as part of your experiential data base.

Do not disdain 2009; do not fear 2010. Embrace the old year as a plateau from which to launch yourself to higher highs in the new year. And cherish the truth that even if you lost it all in 2009...if you haven't reached room-temperature, there's time enough in 2010 to git 'er done.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

"Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle."
--Sam Levinson

Not quite a lifetime, but far enough along to hope for, and still look forward to what lies ahead: My Bride and I are marking 30-years today (12/28) of sharing the same name, tastes, kids and in-laws. In all honesty, I can say I would not be here today without her.

They say that behind every successful man is a woman. True enough, but she’s a good woman, long-suffering, forgiving, and yet, just enough of a princess to demand—and receive—the best you have to give. That's my girl.

Women drive men crazy—but even more important, they drive us to perfection. Because when we’re making them happy first, the rest of your life falls into place rather nicely. If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy…but when Mama is, things are grand.

Thanks to my Bride for 30 grand-years, and if the Lord wills, 30-more together!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Flawed Thinking

Our heroes are people and people are flawed.
Don't let that taint the thing you love.
--Randy K. Milholland

Many of us struggle daily to make sense of the senselessness that we see all around us: sports icons whose lives are falling apart…show business stars whose limelight has been soured by scandal…public officials’ violation of the trusts bestowed upon them by their constituents…and the mindless and mind-numbing antics foisted upon us by our government. It is easy to become discouraged.

When you begin to doubt yourself—
When you catch yourself in an honest mistake—
When you say things to others that you shouldn’t or wouldn’t with a moment-more of reflection…
…remember you’re only human…and so are those whom we have elevated to star status, placed upon pedestals, or looked up to for leadership.

When we stumble, when we fail, when we fall down…the best thing we can do is get back up, dust ourselves off, and try again. Supplant your disappointment with a desire to continue to achieve, and replace the taste of failure—yours or others’—with the joy of trying and doing and succeeding in the things that matter most to you.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What Health Care Reform and Media Mergers Have in Common

Here is an interesting little factoid you're not hearing much about in the wake of the announced merger of NBC and Comcast. According to Mike Flyyn, Editor-in-Chief at Breitbart, just one day after the two media giants announced their deal, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is throwing his support behind the Senate Democrats’ health care reform bill.

Why is this significant? Could it be because Comcast has about 100,000 employees? Gotta bet health care costs already have a big impact on that balance sheet. Is Roberts’ letter to the president in support of the Democrats’ policy the best, first action to take in the year-long regulatory review process?

Here's why this matters:
This is a very public stance on an issue "with absolutely no relevance to the vast intricacies of the merger, but a move that sets a new standard for blatant pandering aimed at a group of people for whom pandering is the new coin of the realm," according to Flynn's editorial this morning. I think he's spot-on. And Roberts isn't the only CEO apparently greasing the skids for the uber-merger:

Recall that congressional Democrats are strongly opposed to further consolidation in the media sector. Roberts must also be aware that the Obama Administration has expressed its intent to fight large scale mergers that would concentrate power over television, cable and the internet in a few huge companies.

GE CEO Jeff Immelt has also been among Mr. Obama’s biggest corporate cheerleaders. Why? Flynn speculates it could be an eagerness to see more government help in the credit realm--which would vastly benefit GE Capital--and to continue those generous government handouts for wind turbines in which GE is heavily invested.

Mr. Immelt has already pledged his support for Obamacare, and if the NBC/Comcast marriage is consumated, GE stands to win a huge influx of cash.

The Obamian administration has made clear its desire to limit consolidation, to demand internet transparency, to fight cross-ownership of media outlets, and to “reinvigorate” anti-trust enforcement they claim was ignored by the Bush White House.

Flynn notes that "if you are about to march into the lion’s den it makes perfect sense to toss a side of beef in beforehand. The White House has shown itself willing to sell out to any special interest willing to help them slather lipstick on the health “reform” pig which would impact one sixth of the nation’s economy."

They're calling this a "high-profile test case." The test may not be whether laws or regulations exist that stand in the way of the Comcast-NBC deal. Rather, the litmus paper will reveal how the Obamian administration and Senate Democrats handle the investigation and scrutiny of this transaction; the results could reveal just how much political pandering can buy you under Washington’s current power structure.

It's not the first time this has been tried. This is not news. What you need to be paying attention to is that this administration promised to be different--change we could believe in, especially in their level of integrity and transparency.
So far, sanctimony has outrun reality.

Will Roberts' and Immelt's tactics result in smooth sailing for the NBC/Comcast deal? Are Democrats going to unleash the scathing attacks you would expect were they still in the minority?

Mike Flynn wonders aloud, correctly, whether they will "stand up for their (misguided, anti-free market, pro-government control) principles or will they sell out cheap, like they have on cap and trade, health care, Afghanistan and other issues... when the special interests come calling with an offer of friendship?"

Change, indeed.

Monday, December 07, 2009

All the News That's Left to Print...

"I mentioned that I was in Asia on this trip thinking about the economy, when I sat down for a round of interviews. Not one of them asked me about Asia. Not one of them asked me about the economy. I was asked several times about had I read Sarah Palin's book. (Laughter.) True. But it's an indication of how our political debate doesn't match up with what we need to do and where we need to go."

-- President Barak Obama, quoted by Time, about the American television network correspondents who interviewed him while in Asia.

Whether you like or agree with President Obama, the President is correct on this point. The mainstream news media seems to be intent of focusing public attention away from the issues of the day that matter most--how the economy is faring, how a cap and trade carbon tax would affect the cost of goods and materials you use every day, what the real outcome of nationalized healthcare insurance would look like--and instead would rather devote "breaking news" headlines to how many women a pro-golfer has allegedely slept with, how some attention-hungry couple managed to crash a State Dinner at the White House, or in the case of the President, whether or not he had read Sarah Palin's latest book.

True Journalism in America is circling the drain as newspapers fold, and Congress actually considers spending tax dollars to bail out failed business plans that refuse to recognize fundamental changes in how news and entertainment content is accessed by the public. Ellen Goodman over the weekend correctly noted that as newsrooms shrink or disappear altogether, so do the checkers of facts that are printed or presented to the public.

"All the news that's fit to print" has been replaced by "all the news we can get our hands on, whether it's accurate or not," because websites now must find ever-changing content to populate their pages for "stickiness," lest they lose "clicks" and ad revenue.

On Friday it was announced that some Editors for The Dallas Morning News will be reporting directly to executives outside the newsroom who oversee advertising sales, a move described as "a restructuring that overturns longstanding traditions in American newspapers aimed at shielding news judgments from business concerns."

While many in the news business are raising hue and cry at this tearing down of the Chinese wall between editorial and sales operations, this trend has been more discretely taking place for years at Radio stations and Television stations across our fruited plains.

Lest I come off sounding like some old crank, unhappy with the forward march of progress--I am not: I embrace true progress--I am very concerned that the pablum that passes for news these days is just watered down tabloid tackiness, designed more to attract your eyes and ears for a moment, rather than engage your brain.

It's a sad commentary when Saturday Night Live and Jon Stewart do a better job at getting the facts of a story straight for the purpose spoofing and lampooning the principals involved, than do the major "news gathering" organizations...hampered in part by budget cutbacks, or closures because all the news thats fit to print isn't affordable--or necessarily factual--anymore.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mayors and Men

Two major news-making presentations last night--there was the Presidential Address at West Point...and there was a live debate of the Mayoral Run-off Candidates here in Houston. Which of these two events will have more impact on your everyday life in Houston?

If you watched the Mayoral Debate, I am curious to know your impressions and what you perceive to be the outcome; was your decision changed or reinforced ahead of the election this month?

The other news-worthy event was President Obama's address from West Point, in which the Commander-in-Chief outlined the American Plan for the campaign in Afghanistan. Two questions emerged in my mind as I listened and reviewed the President's comments:
1.) Why would we telegraph to the Enemy what we're about to do?
2.) Why would we provide a date on which our forces would begin to withdraw from that region?

In war, surprise is a weapon.
So now the enemy knows another 30-thousand US troops are headed for their neighborhood. How long do you think it's going to take the bad guys to call their friends for reinforcements to meet this new surge?

And now that July 2011 has been identified as the beginning of the endpoint of our involvement in Afghanistan, what's to keep the bad guys from planning to hunker-down and just wait us out?

I applaud the President for making a hard decision to support the war effort. The battles are being fought in Afghanistan so that the bad guys don't come here.
Yes, it's that simple.

I rebuke pacifist, isolationist Democrats who are regarding Mr. Obama as a traitor to their cause; I rebuke Republicans for chastising the President for taking this long to reach a conclusion about the Afghanistan War and make a decsion on what to do. You people (Congress) voted unanimously to chase the bad guys down. Back the man, and back the plan, and get over yourselves.

As Mr. Obama correctly stated last night, the world in which we live and operate is an inter-connected one, and the United States' interests are served by having an impact in that corner of the world. Doing nothing is not a viable option.

Monday, November 30, 2009

ACORN from Soup to Nuts

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has been considering changing the label by which the organization is commonly known, "ACORN," to something less tarnished. What to call the group that is self-tasked with reforming the America we know?

Our crack team of Researchers has been toiling through the holiday weekend with a list of possible alternatives--an alphabet soup of acronyms--including:

NUTS: National Union of Transition Society

PECANs: People for the Ethical Conversion of American Norms

CASHEW: Community Association of Home Equity Welfare

GOOBER: Government Organization of Basic Economic Realists

GONADS: General Order of National Advocates for Disentangling Society

Note: None of these suggestions are intended for the "thin-skinned."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Anonymous? Not here...

I love to hear from you.
I receive many notes, messages, Tweets, texts, e-mails, and assorted forms of alternative communications in feedback on the show and articles posted here. The input is appreciated.


If you send me a response through this blog, and you send it anonymously, that's as far as it goes.
If you have a good take, I may mention that take.
But if you have a criticism, and you post anonymously, it will never see the light of day.

Firing a shot across my bow without attribution is the quickest way to get no where with me.
You want to respond intelligently and honestly to me--man-up and sign your name at the end.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hit or Miss Policy = Hit and Run Murder

Many questions remain following the tragic death of a 56-year old woman at Meyerland shopping center on Saturday afternoon: Brenda Romano was crushed between her truck and a stolen Range Rover driven by 39-year old George Theobald--who has confessed to killing Romano and breaking the leg of her daughter, Robyn--was on a crime spree that started in October. This piece of human trash has a rap sheet from 1987, and was sentenced as recently as July to a 7-month state prison stay.

So what was Theobald doing running loose in Houston this weekend? Here's a flawed member of society that has been convicted repeatedly for burglary, theft, forgery, and assaults, according to a story in this morning's Houston Chronicle. I'd like to know which judge thought it was a good idea for George Theobald to be released early--or had he escaped? I'd like to know which judge or jury thought that after being a repeat offender since the 80's, a 7-month sentence in July would be just the medicine he needed to turn his life around.

You're going to hear arguments from State Correctional officials, grasping at straws to answer these questions. They're going to tell you that because of prison over crowding, time off for "good behavior" behind bars, and a warped sense of "time credited" from the first day of Theobald's arrest for his latest offense, it seemed only fair to release him back into society.

Those arguments won't wash with Brenda Romano's widower. Those arguments will ring hollow in the ears of Brenda Romano's daughter, who's dealing with a broken leg and a broken heart. Arguments based on credited time and good behavior cannot salve the sadness of Romano's 14-year old grandaughter, who witnessed the entire altercation.

You're going to hear criticisms of Romano for placing more value on her damaged vehicle than on her life, by stepping between the Range Rover and her truck. Such choices should not have to be made; law abiding citizens should not have to worry whether the next person who dings their car in a parking lot is an incurable criminal or just a crummy driver.

Being sent to jail should be a deterrent to crime, and a public safety element that protects the citizenry against scum like Theobald--not a short respite between crime sprees.

Because of lenient state policy, a petty thief was on the loose in Houston this weekend...and a loving wife, mother, and grandmother is dead.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Being a Fly on The Wall in Temple, Texas

I spent most of Friday in Temple, Texas.
While my Bride met with doctors, I sat in the waiting room of a automobile service department as the Clanton Conestoga underwent diagnostics for what would emerge as a dead cell in the battery.

Sitting in the waiting room like some kind of interloper, eavesdropping on the comments and conversations amongst the citizenry as they continued to react and respond to the shootings at nearby Ft. Hood.

We’ve all done this, haven’t we? In a restaurant, unable to ignore the words of the loudmouth in the booth behind you…at a football game, becoming more intrigued by the inebriated goof in the next row than what’s happening on the gridiron.

Friday afternoon was expended watching the cable news fed into the waiting room—some of the live-shots originating a few blocks away, from the front door of Scott & White—and listening to the color-commentary of the locals.

And colorful it was:
“I’d shoot him on the spot,” said one older observer, of the suspected gunman.
“Put him on trial, then shoot him,” echoed another.
Those were the kinder remarks.

A buddy of mine was also at Scott & White on Friday, tending to his ailing mother, and also listening to the pulse of the hospital staff. He posted a message over the weekend: “...having breakfast at Shipleys and it is so quiet. Normally you hear joking and the usual sounds of people eating and conversing. All you hear this morning is the occasional bell ring at the drive-up window. No one talking, just reading the paper and speaking in low voices.”

You’ve already seen examples of the fabric of the Bell County communities that will sustain these people through this tragedy: Love and compassion for one another.
Even the shooter.

I find it amazing that everyone is so amazed at the selfless sacrifices that have already been shown at Ft. Hood and the surrounding communities.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone:
That’s why it’s called “being in The Service.”

Friday, November 06, 2009

Report Cards from The White House

What did/does your father do for a living?
Remember those school visitation days, when your parents would come to see your classroom and meet with your teacher? …and they always talked about You.

If you were a good student—no sweat.
If you had a few challenges, well you probably dreaded those days.

Imagine going to the same school where your parent was a Principal? That was my father’s desire—he was an Assistant Principal at Memorial High school for many years, and to simplify our home schedules, Dad wanted my brothers and sister and I to all attend that school. (He was responsible for many of the extra-curricular activities at Memorial—had to be at the football games, keeping tabs on the thugs, etc.)
That did not sound like a great proposition to me.

Could’ve been worse: Imagine if your Dad was The President of the United States…and you dragged home a D on Test!

According to The Caucus Blog, President Obama marked the first anniversary of his election this week by asking states to toughen education standards – and wound up calling on parents to toughen theirs, too, revealing that one of the First Kids, 11-year-old Malia, recently got a 73 on her science test.

The President wants to retool “No Child Left Behind,’ and promote his own education agenda, “Race to the Top,’’ – a $4.35 billion grant program that requires states to compete for education money.

Towards the end of his speech, the President went off the page from his prepared text to talk about Malia Obama’s experience in school – a rarity for a president who has tried his best to keep his children’s lives a private matter.

Apparently, Malia, who is a sixth-grader, had come home with a 73 on her science test recently. A couple of years ago, she had come home with a grade in the 80s, believing that she had "done pretty well.’’ The POTUS and the FLOTUS corrected the FKOTUS, telling her that their goal was “90 percent and up.’’

According to the Caucus Blog, the President commented, “So here’s the interesting thing: she started internalizing that…’’ and when Malia came home with a 73 on the science test, “she was depressed.’’ When The First Dad asked what happened, the First Kid said the study guide didn’t match up with the test. So she vowed to study harder.

(Note to parents: Malia did indeed hit the books and came home with a grade of 95.)

The President revealed Malia later remarked, “You know , I just like having knowledge.”

The moral of the story, in the president’s view: “Don’t just expect teachers to set a high bar. You’ve got to set a high bar.”

And Mr. Obama is correct.
Yes, we pay taxes to fund schools to provide education for our kids…but their performance in school is most dependant upon our expectations at home, and our suport of those expectations. There is a direct correlation between your involvement in your child’s school and the education they are receiving, and the level of success and achievement that results.

I would hate to be a school-aged kid with a father who happens to be the POTUS. Dates would not be fun. Just a little different pressure there…it was bad enough for my teachers to know my Dad was a high school principal in the same district. But there never was a doubt about what was expected of us in school at home. That’s where education begins, and it’s the anchor your kid must have in order to learn and accel.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Making Amends

It's been a while since I posted here, and much has happened in between:
A daughter's marriage...the birth of a kidney know, life.

Honestly, I've discovered that that stinkin' Facebook sucks up an inordinate amount of time, too. If they'd just leave the silly thing alone so we all don't have to keep relearning where everything is and what everything does every 30-days, that would be a help.
Still, it's no excuse for not keeping this more current...

(The FB page for the Radio Show is one you should stick close to--we're developing some interesting attractions that you will only be able to access through CNN650MorningShow on Facebook, so stay tuned...or, perhaps the more accurate tease should be, "stay logged-on!")

Something happened this evening that I feel compelled to pass along, because it's a good lesson for all of us (not that I expect the true target of my ire to ever see this!) There are lots of businesses being sold and bought as the economy continues to struggle along. If you're finding the timing is right to get out of your business, congratulations on finding a buyer.

If you're purchasing a business, congratulations to you, too, for having the cojones to take on a new project! So--what is the most important element of that operation you just bought?

If you answered "the customer base," you are 1,000% correct, because without them happily continuing to do business with your business, you're screwed. I ran across a business today that may already have a few turns of the screw burrowing into their backside.
Don't make their mistake:

When the company changed hands, there were certain obligations outstanding which the new business owner assumed, including pre-paid gift certificates for services. The agreement was for the new owner to honor the terms of the former owner with regard to redemption of the gift certificates, some of which were purchased by employees of the company at a discount.

My Bride and I were the recipients of one of these gift-certificates--a 90-minute massage package for each of us, purchased at a discount by an employee of the former owner. When we presented the certificate for redemption, we were told it would be honored only for the cash value paid--which essentially worked out to less than half of the intended massage time. A 90-minute massage session became a 30-minute rubdown (which was still nice for the half-hour it lasted...)

The new owner was adamant--only honoring the cash paid.

Here's what happened.
We took the 30-minute massages, and walked out of the business for the last time.
The new owner is clueless.

If they had honored the 90-minute package, we would have likely returned for repeat sessions. We'd likely have told our friends that this is a great place to receive a quality massage at a fair price. We'd likely have bought other gift certificates for our friends.

Not gonna happen now.
By being cheap (and cheating on the terms of the purchase agreement to honor all outstanding obligations), the new owner lost two primary customers, plus the reference power we wield with our friends. The new owner also lost out on additional business opportunities by being unable to book the unused time originally scheduled.

The moral of this tale is a variation on the familiar theme of the customer always being right: Make sure you're making your new/old customers reasonably happy, otherwise they're going to take their business elsewhere.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

God Bless Michael Moore (he needs it)

I posted Michael Moore’s piece, “For Those of You on Your Way to Church This Morning…” on my FB page as an example of his kind of twisted logic that I find patently offensive.

A good friend of mine called me out on it, challenging me to explain why I disagree with Moore. (sigh) Why must I explain why I believe Michael Moore is a moron? Are not the two nouns synonymous?

First, I think Moore is a hypocritical opportunist.
He berates the rich, while raking in millions for his own film projects, and would shame the upper income earners in this country for not doing a better job of taking care of the poor.

Really, Michael?
How many soup kitchens have you funded with your spare change?

Moore's documentary films retain the title as highest-grossing movies of their genre; how much of that largess has he shared with his less-fortunate neighbors?

Moore is applauded by the same cinematic-elite crowd that recently petitioned for the release of child-rapist Roman Polanski.
Sorry, that’s not a crowd I choose to side with.

Second, I believe Moore to be a sanctimonious hypocrite by positing whether or not Capitalism might be a sin, and with logic cloaked in religiousity, asks, “Would Jesus be a capitalist?”
Indeed, He would.

In this morning’s post, Moore writes, “I have come to believe that there is no getting around the fact that capitalism is opposite everything that Jesus (and Moses and Mohammed and Buddha) taught. All the great religions are clear about one thing: It is evil to take the majority of the pie and leave what's left for everyone to fight over. Jesus said that the rich man would have a very hard time getting into heaven. He told us that we had to be our brother's and sister's keepers and that the riches that did exist were to be divided fairly. He said that if you failed to house the homeless and feed the hungry, you'd have a hard time finding the pin code to the pearly gates.”

Jesus also was very clear in pointing out it is expected of us to make a return in our dealings; that not all will profit equally; and that for those that choose to not handle wisely the things of this world, they will be taken from the foolish and given to the more successful stewards. Matthew 25:14-30 clearly illustrates this principle in the Parable of the Talents. I suggest you read it, learn it, live it.

Moore also blaspheme’s Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5) by snidely remarking about the Wall Street Crowd—“Blessed are the Wealthy?”—and criticizes the tax structure of this country. He mis-applies Jesus’ comment, “Blessed are the poor…” by leaving off the object of the beatitude, the “poor in spirit.”

Note, Jesus’ intended reward for this class of people—the poor in spirit—is an inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven. Pretty sure that one's going to trump anything Wall Street can generate.

Thirdly, Moore’s sarcasm and sacrilegious use of Jesus’ teachings about morality, civic duty, and the proofs He performed to demonstrate His authority is the ultimate, over-the-line insult. To spoof Jesus’ feeding of the mulitudes is to completely miss the point of that narrative. Anyone who would stoop this low to hawk a movie or book is utterly contemptible.

My personal revulsion with Michael Moore transcends the one-dimensional friction between Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives. I think he is a fundamentally-flawed human being, willing to go to any lengths to self-promote his work.

Perhaps taking Matthew 5:5 to heart would be helpful: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” But knowing Moore's penchant for puffery, he'd probably produce a mockumentary about that, too.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What's a Synonym for "Terrorist?"

The Venezuelan Satan, Hugo Chávez, and Lockerbie Bomber-lover turned U.N. Pariah, Muammar Gaddafi, are asking for a redefinition of ‘terrorism.’

This is like asking Roman Polanski to redefine “decency.”
This is like asking Brett Favre to redefine “retirement.”
This is like asking Bill Clinton to redefine “is.”
(Sorry, Bubba, you earned that one for life.)

According to a story published in the Financial Times Online this morning, these two partners in thugdom attended a weekend summit for for African and South American leaders on the Venezuelan island of Margarita, where they signed a document rejecting attempts to link terrorism to "the legitimate struggle of the people for liberty and self-determination,” and called for an international conference to establish a new definition for the concept of terrorism."

Is this so the terror training camps in the middle east with have a clearer idea of their purpose? Is this so wannabe jihadists will be able to sharpen their skills with a better-defined goal in mind?

Remember, Wacky Gaddafi last week referred to the U.N. Security Council as the “Terror Council” at the UN General Assembly.
Let’s keep it classy, Tripoli.

Sr. Chávez managed to dampen the mood during the summit when one of his henchmen, er…ministers said that Iran was helping Venezuela in the detection and testing of uranium deposits in remote areas near the Brazilian border. Another henchman, er…minister subsequently denied that this was the case, stating that Venezuela was only working with Russia to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Uh huh.
That’s a marriage made in what ring of Dante’s inferno?

Gaddafi and Chávez now want to establish a South Atlantic Treaty Organization to rival NATO. Perhaps their redefinition of terrorism will include their own brand of SATO-masochism.
The really sad thing is, were these two clowns the characters in a American Prime-time TV show, it would be classified as a comedic farce.

“We are changing history, we are standing up to imperialism, to the bourgeoisie and backwardness, to 500 years of colonialism that has assaulted our people,” the FT quoted Chávez.

Then he gave Gaddafi a sword, and Gaddafi gave Chavez a hand-made set of silver armor.
So much for moving past the backwardness…
Here, mister Uberthug, let me help you with that Coat of Mail.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Zazi Effect

I guess we’re going to have to start going through security checks and taking off our shoes in order to buy shampoo and hair color. Thanks for this latest alteration of American culture and lifestyle goes to Najibulla Zazi, the most recent nimrod arrested for trying to blow up stuff in America.

Zazi allegedly bought hair care and beauty products containing peroxide and acetone, and boiled the contents down to concentrate their chemical components in order to manufacture an explosive device.

Let’s see—we already cannot get on an airplane without a virtual strip search and partially-disrobing…you can’t go to a freaking high school football game without being scrutinized by the local constabulary like you’re some kind of axe murderer.

Now, with the arrest of Najibulla Zazi, I predict the grooming standards in America will begin to fall. No longer will we feel safe to browse the beauty and hair care aisle without looking over our shoulder. And now that products containing peroxide and acetone are sure to be put on some kind of list of items restricted for sale, thus becoming more difficult to obtain, beauty shops and barber shops are going to be shuttered across the land, and we’ll all look like wooly-mammoths by next Spring.

Maybe this is part of a larger plot to help radical Jihadists blend-in with our population: They all look unkempt…and now, we the people will look unkempt…how will you tell us apart?

Monday, September 21, 2009

All the News (we think) Is Fit to Print

Incredibly, President Barak Obama seems to be mulling over yet another bailout of a special category of business which is currently floundering as it fails to come to grips with changes in technology and how its product is consumed.

What’s most ironic: News of this next potential business bailout comes after the President’s record round of Sunday News Show visits yesterday...and a much-heralded appearance tonight with David Letterman.

According to a piece in The, Mr. Obama is now open to a newspaper bailout bill, saying he’d be "happy to look at" bills before Congress that would give struggling news organizations tax breaks if they were to restructure as nonprofit businesses. Which is a pretty interesting concept, because, if the news organizations’ balance sheets are to be believed, many of them already are non-profit organiztions, bleeding money and mostly red ink.

According to The Hill's report, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced S. 673, the so-called "Newspaper Revitalization Act," that would give outlets tax deals if they were to restructure as 501(c)(3) corporations.

Two questions immediately spring to mind: Why do newspapers need to be bailed out...and why should your tax dollars so be expended? How objective do you believe a news gathering organization would be if its livelihood depended upon tax dollars for survival? And if you think it’s too far-fetched to believe the Government would play favorites, consider that of all the network news shows on which Mr. Obama appeared yesterday, the only one that did not score a guest slot with the Leader of the Free World was the FOX News Network—the same network that chose to air “So You Think You Can Dance” instead of the president’s address to a joint session of Congress.
Paybacks, perhaps?
As that network likes to challenge, "you decide."

How comfortable are you that the Government now owns or controls most of the banks in America, has its own automobile manufacturer, and would now be a controlling factor in the fifth estate of America—the one which is charged with disseminating truthful accounts of what’s going in this country? Not that all news companies are lilly-white in their pursuit of journalistic integrity; but they are doing so without the yoke of federal funding suggesting how deeply to dig on stories that could be revealing of Administration policies that are less than popular with the public.

Mr. Obama has said that good journalism is "critical to the health of our democracy…" He’s also uneasy about perceived tends in reporting -- especially on political blogs, from which a groundswell of support for his campaign emerged during the presidential election.

The President said he is “concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding…"

A valid point. But how much serious fact-checking or proper contextual balance do you think you’re going to achieve when those groups are reticent to bite the Federal hand that’s feeding them? Implicit with the right to pursue happiness is the right to fail.

There is a Darwinian balance in the universe that mandates survival of the most-economically fit, and if the public’s not buying what’s being sold, no amount of government support is going to change it. In fact, bailouts of newspapers could make things worse, if the perception becomes the government is pulling the strings behind the scenes.

General Motor’s acquisition by the government is no guarantee of its success—a car company that was losing market share because no one wanted what it was making. Now, there is a level of public resentment that the government is enabling the company to continue to make what no one is wanting.

Repeating the mistake does not mean the outcome will be different. And isn’t that the definition of insanity?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Discriminating Tastes in America

When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.
--Martin Luther King Jr

Dr. King's comments make up an interesting, chiasmic thought, which should not be mis-interpreted to mean that the radicals are always right…nor that conservatives are constantly wrong. And that’s the rub—the ability to know where things stand is the challenge of life.

I received a phone call yesterday from Jon Friedman at CBS MarketWatch who is working on a story that will be published tomorrow about “How the Media should be covering the “Race Question” in light of recent episodes…like the Joe Wilson outburst during the President’s recent address to Congress…the Serena Williams meltdown last weekend, etc. Then you’ve got the remarks by former President Jimmy Carter, suggesting that Wilson’s outburst was an indication of racism against President Obama.

I agree with Mr. Carter that comments about “burying Obama with Kennedy,” and shouting “you lie” during a congressional address should have no place in public discourse. Disrespecting the President of the United States in this way is a waste of time and energy, and demeans the American people on the public stage.

And on this thought, consider—where was the outrage, where was the indignance when former President George Bush was being pilloried in public by cartoonists and people with rough manners?

Is there a level of racism behind the vitriol being hurled at President Obama?
Certainly there is.
Was Racism the motivation behind Joe Wilson’s bad behavior?
Ask the Representative; I don’t think that it was.
Was Serena Williams being racist in verbally abusing an Asian line judge?
Hardly. She was just being a bully, and bullies come in all sizes and colors.

Here’s a question I’ve heard no one else raise: Was Kanye West’s regrettable interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video awards racially-motivated? Their skin colors are not the same. So why didn’t we hear howls of “racism” screamed from the rooftops after that fiasco?

Reverse discrimination comes to mind, until you consider what an assinine, oxymoronic word pairing that is: Reverse discrimination is still discrimination. It’s like differentiating between murder and a “hate crime:” the victim is still dead. Does that kind of killing make the victim more-dead because it was a hate crime?
Doesn’t the commission of murder pre-suppose hatred?

Here is what I told Jon Friedman: The Racism component of these stories is a smoke screen; the race angle is a cop-out for lazy reporters and copy writers seeking to fill space and increase consumption of their content, whether in the papers, on TV, or on line. It’s sensationalism with the worst timing, because it refracts our focus on the real issues: Healthcare insurance reform, economic recovery, domestic and foreign policy review.

Is there racial discrimination in the way healthcare is being distributed in America?

Do some Americans still harbor racist proclivities that color their judgement (pardon the pun)? I believe there are some who still do…and it’s wrong headed, counter-productive, and continues to sow seeds of hatred for which we the people have no time or energy.

Joe Wilson’s rudeness was bad behavior regardless of skin color. Serena Williams’ brutish behavior was unsportsmanlike for anyone from any corner of the planet. Kanye West’ interruption was boorish to the nth-degree.

Skin color had nothing to do with the primary problem in any of these examples, and trying to inject the Racism element into the controversy only clouds the issue.

America has a sad history of allowing such prejudices to distract us from the most-pressing issues at hand, and only by opening our eyes, and our hearts, and recognizing this flaw in our character can we confront racism.

Only when we purge the element of racism from the process will we be able to effectively consider the problems that are affecting all of us--regardless of the color of our skin, or the direction of our leaning.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nine-Eleven 2009

Today is the date which continues to live in Infamy: Nine-Eleven.

Today is the 8th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on civilized society…a date which was over-shadowed last year in Houston by Hurricane Ike, and this year, as thousands here continue to grapple with the after-effects of that storm, our nation continues to come to grips with attacks in two cities, and a hole in the ground in Pennsylvania, that remind us that freedom is not free, and we must be ever vigilant against enemies within and without.
Eight years ago at this moment (8:46a CDT), our world was changed forever. As we watched in disbelief, jets piloted by Islamic fanatics plowed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and a farm field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, plunging themselves and their victims into the hereafter, and altering the lives of Americans forever.
Two wars have been spawned by those acts of cowardice; America is now an armed fortress, our citizens now herded onto aircraft after extreme scrutiny, and swarthy-complected males with exotic surnames are subjected to an extra measure of suspicion.
Through it all the American Spirit has remained dauntless, we have proven our resilience, and shown the world that even in our darkest hours, the American people know how to pull together, rebuild, and move on.
We will never forget.
We will never back down.

While the legacy of terror has given us pat-down searches, long lines at airports, and those stupid color-coded terror alerts, America’s legacy to world is an enduring devotion to freedom for all peoples, all faiths, all colors, and all nations.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A Call to Brains: Obama's Education Address

(Time setting: This is the text of my Editorial during Tuesday morning's Radio show, which aired prior to the President's address.)

Never before have so many had so much to say about which we know so little: the text of President Obama’s educational address was released only yesterday, so all of the hand wringing and cold sweats over the President’s brain washing of our Youts was pure political speculation. I didn’t know what the President was going to say; you didn’t know, and none of the nattering naybobs of negativity quoted in the media knew. It was much ado about nothing.

Today we know.
In a few hours, we will hear.
Tonight we’ll be awash in analysis of these solid points:
  • To get a good job, get a good education.
  • You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
  • A good education is a responsibility of citizenship in America; if you quit on school, you’re quitting on your Country.
  • Set your goals: whatever you resolve to do, commit to it.
  • Being successful is not easy—there are no guarantees. People succeed because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and the curiosity and passion to learn something new.
  • Don't ever give up on yourself…when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
I don't know what is so radical about those points.
I don't understand what is so dangerous about those ideas.
From the looks of some of our "social failures:" deadbeat dads, unwed teen mothers with several kids from multiple fathers, and people wondering when the "gov'ment" is going to help them with a hand-out, I'd say we need to brainwash more kids into this line of thinking.

The President is going to remind our kids—and us—that the story of America isn’t about ‘people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

“It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.”

If you are among the parents who thought you’d keep your kids home from school today so they wouldn’t be indoctrinated by Barak Obama, I dare you to present a better argument for staying in school. In fact, how could anything you could possibly say about “staying in school” have any credibility whatsoever if you keep your kids home today?

I am not a fan ofBarak Obama.
But I applaud the points he will be making today—as reflected in the text released yesterday.
I am a fan of America, warts and all. It’s not perfect, but I defy you to show me a better system.

Barak Obama’s challenge to the Yout’s today is one that each of us should take to heart: What’s your contribution going to be?
What problems are you going to solve?
What discoveries will you make?

What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Questions posed to kids; answers to which we should all be trying to solve, whether we’re in the 7th grade, or in our 70’s.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Barack Obama's Address to American Students

Text of President Obama's school speech
Obama's prepared remarks for his back-to-school event Tuesday
updated 11:44 a.m. CT, Mon., Sept . 7, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

‘Put in the hard work’
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

'We need every single one of you'
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

‘I got a lot of second chances’
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

‘They refused to give up’
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

‘Being successful is hard’
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

‘Don't ever give up on yourself’
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Teachable Moments from The White House

Here’s the lead-sentence from a Houston Chronicle story about President Barak Obama’s scheduled speech to school kids next week: “Some Texas parents are asking school principals to excuse their children from listening to a speech that President Obama will make to schools next week on the grounds that it smacks of political indoctrination.”

I am so grateful that we have adults right here in Texas who have the prescience and foreknowledge about the text of the President’s address--a week before the event!

Gadzooks, can I get these people to buy me a few Super Lotto tickets, please??

According to the official White House Press Briefing, Mr. Obama will deliver an address directly to students on the importance of education beginning at 11 a.m. (CST) Tuesday.

Secretaryof Education Arne Duncan sent a letter to school principals last week, giving them all a proper heads-up about the Presidential Challenge to the kiddos to “work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning…”

Boy, am I glad they were warned ahead of time.
No telling how a message like that might be interpretted by these kids with skulls full of mush.

Right on time, the cerebrally-myopic and hyper-politically-sensitive began slithering out from under the rocks and crevasses they inhabit, proclaiming The Obamarator was going to indoctrinate the kids. Lordy, Lordy, wouldn’t want those kids to be overly influenced to study hard and learn to think critically for themselves!

One hayseed was quoted in the paper calling the speech inappropriate, “because it smacks of political indoctrination of the worst kind.”

Has he heard the speech yet?
Is he privvy to the text before the rest of us?
Wow--what connections!!

Would he be having the same vitriolic reaction were say, President John McCain to be lecturing the kiddos about things like hard work, and commitment, and dedication to country—familiar themes during the McCain presidential campaign.

At what point do we begin to teach our kids about the American system of government, the real differences between political philosophies, and how the course of history has been influenced by the sides that people chose to support?

Do our kids learn that from us, their impartial, politically ambient parents?

I have a video clip of my then-5-year old daughter, playing “political armchair quarterback” with her dolls one afternoon on the porch, discussing with her babies the recent election of Bill Clinton to the Presidency following George H. W. Bush. I believe her remarks included several exclamations of “what a crock! WHAT. A. CROCK!!

I can’t imagine where she might have picked up that kind of thinking…

Speaking of head-starts on next week's presentation: the schools have been provided a “menu” of suggested classroom activities for students, "to stimulate discussion on the importance of education now and later in life." Apparently, some superintendants and school boards are a little bent they didn’t get to provide input for developing those activities. Guess they should have been asked, too, since they all know what the President is going to say, already.

Same hayseed parent, same newspaper story: “It just seems to me that the federal government should not have that kind of influence on our school districts and the education of our children…”

And where were you when they were adopting the school books your kids are now being taught from that express varying ideas about the origin of the universe and blurring of gender roles? That’s okay...but you’ve got a problem with the President encouraging your kids to learn and think for themselves??

Some parents are complaining about the speech taking up valuable and precious instruction time. I believe these parents and their nattering naybobs of negativity-spewing cousins need to stand down, and embrace next Tuesday’s Presidential address as a “teachable moment.”

Here is an opportunity to “compare and contrast” the ways in which the President’s remarks might differ from other belief systems: Work hard vs slack-off; set educational goals vs doing just enough in school to straggled across the stage at high school commencement—if you make it that far; take responsibility for learning vs taking someone else’s word for it,and becoming a mindless “ditto head” parrot of the current pop trend.

There are some parents who honestly believe Mr. Obama's speech will not allow for healthy debate, instead obligating younger students “to agree with Obama's initiatives or be ostracized by their teachers and classmates.”

If your kids are going to be in a classroom televising the Presidential address, and you have those kinds of unfounded fears, I’m pretty sure your child’s teacher wouldn’t mind you visiting the classroom to watch the event with the class. Might be a logistic challenge for some schools…but, hey, if it will put your suspicious mind at ease, more power to you. You might even learn something YOU missed in school.

Here are some other “teachable moment” opportunities that shouldn’t be missed next week:

Grammar and sentence structure: Have the class identify the main topic of each paragraph the President reads from his teleprompter; more advanced students can later be asked to diagram actual sentances uttered, to make sure there are no dangling Democratic participles, or Republican prepositions out of place.

Math Skills: if the President should mention things like spending, or what it costs to educate a child in America through the 12th Grade, have the kiddos do computational excercises to determine what their earning abilities will be, and how those numbers might be altered, should they choose to ditch school in the 9th grade, or continue through a public university’s Masters program.

Logic and Rhetoric: Does it make sense that there is a causal relationship between the President’s comments on education and success in life? If not, why not, and cite examples of other successful Americans who used their education as a springboard to greatness.

Methinks that those who protesteth too much are more concerned about the political implications of a Presidential address to their offspring, and are missing a more important point: This is the Leader of the Free World telling your kids to stay in school.

This may also be a good example of how not to jump to conclusions until you’ve heard the man say his peace, which no one has.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Suffering Fools

What a foolish nation we must appear to be to the outsiders on this planet. Not long after the death of elder statesman Ted Kennedy, a champion of the underdogs in society, and promoter of healthcare as a national right, proponents of Obamacare dared suggest Congress pass “Kennedy-care” Legislation as a tribute to the late senator.
Nevermind most of these eggheads haven’t read the bill.

I had a dream last night: Nancy Pelosi had been called on the carpet before a tribunal of decision-makers. She’s sitting behind a long, low table, surrounded by fawning members of the media, camera’s clicking an popping as she leans into a large, silver microphone. The head of the Tribunal bangs his gavel for order in the large hall so that the hearing may begin.

It’s Fred Gwynne in his role as Judge Chamberlain Haller from “My Cousin Vinnie,” and he’s looking down on her from behind the bench, and he says, in that rich, southern baritone drawl, “Mizz Pelosi, before we get stahted, I need to ask you one question.”

Nancy Pelosi looks up at Judge Haller, and he asks, “Have yew read this heah healthcare reform bill, ma’am?”

Speaker Pelosi pauses…the camera’s click and whir again as she leans into the microphone, and answers, “No, your honor, not all of it, but I am sure most of my youthful staff has read most of it.”

"Did you say "youts?"

BANG! goes the gavel, and Judge Chamberlain Haller’s voice booms throughout the hall, “Adjourned!”

“Young lady,” he intones, looking down at Nancy Pelosi, “you’d best read this piece of legislation covah to covah before you come back before this court. Is that cleah, Mizz Pelosi?”
And about that time, my alarm went off.

I guess we make the rest of the world laugh.
Or scratch their heads in wonderment.

Here’s another example.
Bloomberg News reported this week Switzerland’s chief negotiator in the UBS AG tax case said the U.S. Internal Revenue Service may request names of American clients from other banks after the Swiss government agreed to hand over UBS account details. The IRS plans to target more banks, law firms and entities that help Americans hide assets.

Swiss banks manage about 27% of the world’s offshore wealth, and it’s believed that tax evasion through offshore accounts robs the U.S. of $100 billion annually. Guess when you’re doling out billions of dollars to banks and carmakers, you’ve got to collect every Swiss franc you can convert.

UBS will provide Swiss authorities with details of 4,450 accounts where “tax fraud or the like” is suspected…

Meanwhile, from the Deparment of “Do as We Say, Not as We Do,” in Washington, The Federal Reserve argued this week that identifying the financial institutions that benefited from its emergency loans would harm the companies…

“The immediate release of these documents will destroy the board’s claims of exemption and right of appellate review,” quoth a motion to stay the ruling. “The institutions whose names and information would be disclosed will also suffer irreparable harm.”

The Fed’s “ability to effectively manage the current, and any future, financial crisis” would be impaired, and “significant harms” could befall the U.S. economy as well.

So on the one hand, you’ve got the US Government suing and prevailing against the Swiss Banking system to release the private details of US Citizens with Swiss bank accounts…and at the same time, the Federal Reserve says they don’t have to tell the American Public which banks were the beneficiaries of tax bailouts to keep the skunks in business.

Yeah, that's really squared away.
The Fed has refused to name the financial firms it lent to or disclose the amounts or the assets put up as collateral under the emergency programs, saying disclosure might set off a run by depositors and unsettle shareholders.

Bloomberg News sued on Nov. 7 under the Freedom of Information Act on the premise that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the banks’ interest in secrecy.” The Court rejected the Fed’s argument that the records should remain private because they are trade secrets and would scare customers into pulling their deposits.

Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who sponsored a bill to require the Fed to submit to an audit by the Government Accountability Office, uttered the question that was on everyone's mind: “What has the Fed got to hide?”

“The time has come for the Fed to stop stonewalling and hand this information over to the public.” He’s right.

One attorney for the group had the inspiration to say, “Experience in the banking industry has shown that when customers and market participants hear negative rumors about a bank, negative consequences inevitably flow…”

I’m thinking experience going forward in the banking industry is going to show that what customers desire most is transparency, with a close second place for some consistency in their dealings. It’s not just a little hypocritical to force Swiss banks to give up their secrets, while at the same time feigning trade secret protection on this side of the Atlantic.

For the record, The Clearing House Association LLC, an industry-owned group in New York that processes payments between banks, filed a declaration that accompanied the request for a stay. You might be interested to learn the members of the Clearing House include ABN Amro Holding NV, Bank of America Corp., Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase Inc., UBS AG, U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co.

Where's Judge Haller when you need him?