Friday, August 31, 2007

"A new film about the real-life rape and killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by U.S. soldiers who also murdered her family stunned the Venice festival, with shocking images that left some viewers in tears. "Redacted", by U.S. director Brian De Palma, is one of at least eight American films on the war in Iraq due for release in the next few months and the first of two movies on the conflict screening in Venice's main competition. Inspired by one of the most serious crimes committed by American soldiers in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, it is a harrowing indictment of the conflict and spares the audience no brutality to get its message across FULL STORY

First, DePalma can make whatever film he wants, you know, freedom of speech and all. So if he wants to make a film about one of the military's low points, then fine. He has that right. It's important to note that the soldiers in question have been arrested, tried and convicted and are currently serving punishment for their criminal behavior. But what bugs me about this guy is the following statement that he made at the festival about his film:

"The movie is an attempt to bring the reality of what is happening in Iraq to the American people."

The reality of what is happening in Iraq? A brutal rape and murder of a 14 year old girl is what DePalma considers the 'reality of what is happening in Iraq'? That's about as asinine as it gets. I've talked to a few people who served in Iraq, and none of them describe the rape and murder of 14 year girls as the 'reality of what is happening in Iraq'. But, DePalma would have us believe that they're wrong, and he even goes so far as to say that the mainstream media is part of the "corporate establishment" and is therefore not reporting what's really happening in Iraq.

Yes, you read that right. DePalma thinks the media is not reporting what's really happening in Iraq. You know, all those rapes and murders of 14 year old girls. They're not getting reported, so DePalma felt the need to make a movie about it. In truth, a US soldier can't even give an Iraqi a dirty look without the media making accusations of abuse and torture, but DePalma thinks they're all part of the establishment....because they're not reporting all those rapes and murders of 14 year old girls.

No doubt it will be a popular movie. I'm sure Rosie, Sarandon and Matt Damon already have their tickets. Any movie that gives the US military a swift rib-kick is sure to be a hit with the Left. They can't wait...but, don't forget, they "support the troops".

Remember, this is the same guy who brought us "Casualties of War", a movie about, what else, US GI's brutally raping and murdering a Vietnamese woman. DePalma seems to think US soldiers are nothing but a bunch of murderous rapists, and the media fails to show the American people the truth. This guy is out there. So when will he make a movie about Saddam's mass murders and brutal regime? Or the Khmer Rouge? Don't hold your breath.

The reality of what is happening in Iraq? Unbelievable.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It appears Hillary and Obama have received an interesting endorsement.

Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is tipping Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to team up and win the U.S. presidential election.Clinton leads Obama in the race to be the Democratic nominee for the November 2008 election, and Castro said they would make a winning combination.

"The word today is that an apparently unbeatable ticket could be Hillary for president and Obama as her running mate," he wrote in an editorial column on U.S. presidents published on Tuesday by Cuba's Communist Party newspaper, Granma.

He went on to praise Bill Clinton:

Castro said former President Bill Clinton was "really kind" when he bumped into him and the two men shook hands at a U.N. summit meeting in 2000. He also praised Clinton for sending elite police to "rescue" shipwrecked Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives in 2000 to end an international custody battle.

He said his favorite U.S. president since 1959 was Jimmy Carter, another Democrat, because he was not an "accomplice" to efforts to violently overthrow the Cuban government.


Jimmy Carter was Castro's favorite, and Bill Clinton was praised for helping Castro "rescue" Elian Gonzalez. Really? Rescue him? That's not how I remember it, but then again communists do have their own version of history. Gonzalez was removed at gunpoint from the arms of his family, denied asylum, and deported back to a communist nation openly hostile towards the US. But, Castro is right, Clinton was very helpful in that matter. To so many on the Left, deporting immigrants is out of the question unless it means deporting back to a communist nation.

And Jimmy Carter is adored by Castro because he somewhat restored diplomatic ties between the two nations. Let's see, Cuba is a nation that attempted to build nuclear launch sites just 90 miles from our coastline without apologies and nearly brought the world to nuclear holocaust. And Mr Carter decides he wants to be friends with them again.

And now Castro seems to favor Hillary and Obama. To me, that says a lot.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Time is of the essence lately. Yours truly may be limited in substance until the weekend, but I will do the best I can. Today, I hit the highlights:

Idaho Senator Larry Craig denies being gay. So, some time back the Senator plead guilty to disorderly conduct for supposedly propositioning another male in an airport restroom. Now, he contends those charges and says it was a mistake, mainly due to his failure to obtain legal counsel. Okay, whatever. But the issue isn't whether the Senator is gay, which for some reason is what he wants to focus on. No, the issue is whether or not this man propositioned someone for sex. If this is true, the Senator should resign his position. The Senate is launching an ethics probe (there's an oxymoron...Senate ethics probe) and apparently there will be more to come.

Alberto Gonzalez resigns. I don't know much about this guy, but I do know that he got a raw deal. I'm not exactly sure why the Dems focused so much energy in "getting" this guy, but it apparently worked. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part. My only disappointment was in his handling (or lack thereof) of the Campian and Ramos case. Otherwise, I feel for this guy. Now, what's really scary is that Bush is considering Chertoff as his replacement. Yikes!

Hillary favors a national smoking ban. I'm not a smoker. In fact, the odor makes me want to gag. But I am getting a bit tired of people treating smokers like the lepers of our time. National smoking ban? Gimme a break.

Senator Harry Reid: ""Most Americans, and a bipartisan majority in Congress, believe this strategy is not in our national interest and the time for a major change in strategy is now."

What the Senator means is that we need to change strategy before this strategy succeeds. Everyone knows that if the troop surge works, and is the first step to a safe, secure and stable Iraq, then the Dems are doomed. They will have no chance in '08. So, Reid is working hard to change the course before we succeed.

Friday, August 24, 2007

One more Vick post and then I'm done. This is an excellent column by Jemele Hill of ESPN, for those out there who try to make the Michael Vick fiasco an issue of race. Thanks to Robert for the feed.

Dear young, black men:

Today, many of you are angry. You are angry at a society that has swiftly and vigilantly punished a superstar quarterback for dogfighting, but often looks the other way as a grotesque number of black men die in the streets. You are angry at the NFL, which has punishments some of you feel unfairly targets those who look like you. You are angry at Michael Vick's buddies and criminal cohorts for "snitching" on Vick, noting that trainer Greg Anderson, a white man, sits in federal prison with his lips sealed, protecting Barry Bonds and refusing to cooperate with authorities.

You are feeling a lot of things -- some possessing merit -- but I caution you not to make Vick a martyr. Do not applaud him for taking his comeuppance like some modern-day gangster. Do not blame others for Vick's predicament when he alone should be held accountable for his actions.
Let this historic unraveling be a wake-up call for the young, black men caught up in the same lifestyle that claimed Vick. Let his prison sentence send the message that a continued allegiance to street culture successfully keeps young, black men frighteningly behind in American society.
As the Vick case shows, millions of dollars are little protection if a certain mentality remains. Until now, Vick was considered one of the lucky ones. He rose out of poverty to become one of the most mesmerizing athletes of our time. He went from nothing to millions. He wasn't the American dream, but the American reality. He had the support of a city, of a people and he struck a chord with many young, black men because they saw themselves in him -- rebellious, strong and heroic.

But Vick let you down. He betrayed you. He heightened the stereotypes of black men instead of eroding them. Racists certainly will feast on Vick, but he was the one who made himself an entrée.

You can say Vick was persecuted unfairly by the white media, say we should be more concerned with the war in Iraq than an illegal dogfighting ring or say his downfall wouldn't be a 24-hour news event if he were the highest-paid white quarterback.

But it's impossible to stand on moral high ground while trying to defend something so low. Vick did something wrong, something against the law, something disgusting and vile. Even worse, he appears to be the financial backer and mastermind behind the dogfighting ring.

I understand Vick's guilt is a tough, humbling thing to swallow because the one thing black men in this society understand is the feeling of being piled upon, discounted and discarded. Last year, several studies showed that American black men are failing at an alarming and heartbreaking rate. More than half of black men in the inner cities don't have a high school diploma. There are more black men in prison than in college. Everyone else in society -- whites, Latinos, women -- is gaining ground, but black men are falling further and further behind in virtually every category........FULL COLUMN

Bravo, Ms Hill. My hat's off to you.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

To piggyback my last post, I find it interesting how so many people are deeply appalled by Michael Vick's crime, mainly due to the brutal treatment the dogs received. On this very site, an anonymous commenter suggested the possibility of a death sentence for Vick. Huh?

And, let's not forget this statement on the Senate floor by Robert Byrd: "...cruel, sadistic, cannibalistic business of training innocent, vulnerable creatures to kill...Barbaric!," he yelled. "Let that word resounding from hill to hill, and from mountain to mountain, and valley to valley across the broad land. Barbaric! Barbaric! May God help those poor souls who'd be so cruel. Barbaric! Hear me! Barbaric! I am confident that the hottest places in hell are reserved for the souls of sick and brutal people who hold God's creatures in such brutal and cruel contempt," he said. "One is left wondering, who are the real animals: the creatures inside or outside the ring?"

Something tells me the Senator feels Vick's behavior was barbaric. Sick and brutal people who hold God's creatures in such brutal and cruel contempt? How poetic. And the good Senator is not alone. Indeed, there is a lot of outrage over Vick's behavior, and there should be. But I can't help but wonder: Why are so many people outraged over dog-fighting, and yet seem to be okay with abortion, and in some cases partial birth abortion? Are these dogs' lives really that much more valuable than human fetuses? It's an interesting question no doubt, so let's use Senator Byrd's voting record as an example to answer this question.

In a vote that would prohibit governmental discrimination against medical entities that refuse to perform elective abortions, Senator Byrd voted against the bill.

In a vote to show whether or note Congress supported the Roe v. Wade decision effectively making elective abortions legal, Senator Byrd voted for it.

Senator Byrd voted against a measure that would prohibit government funding for research on human fetal tissue

Vote to pass a bill that requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct and support research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells.Senator Byrd voted for it.

To summarize, Byrd is okay with destroying human life for research and convenience, but opposes the destruction of dogs for entertainment, that's what he considers barbaric. Abortions? Not so much. Not that I'm picking strictly on him, he is not alone. Many people out there feel the same. How they reconcile these two positions is beyond me. Barbaric indeed!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Michael Vick will plead guilty to federal dog-fighting charges, which means he now faces up to five years in prison and perhaps much more. But not if the NAACP has anything to say about it.

I have refrained from commenting about Vick until now, mainly because I believe in "innocent until proven guilty" and I've been rather disgusted at how the mainstream media tends to convict before any evidence is heard. Case in point, the Duke Lacrosse team. So, while I was disappointed to hear of Vick's potential involvement in all of this I still held out hope that he was not guilty. I was wrong.

Vick is an incredibly talented athlete. He had ways of making people say "wow". In short, he was fun to watch and had a very bright future ahead of him. It's a shame that he's basically flushed all of that for some cheap thrills. It's amazing to me how some athletes are hell-bent to waste their talent and self-destruct. Add Michael Vick to that list. Up to five years in prison and a lifetime of shame next to names like Kobe Bryant, OJ Simpson, Joe Jackson and Pete Rose.

Amidst all of this, the question being asked is: When will Vick be allowed to play football again? Yes, this reflects poorly on our society, but it's still a legitimate question. Interestingly enough, the NAACP has quickly jumped to Vick's defense, asking the NFL to avoid suspending the superstar quarterback. NAACP president R.L. White said that Vick "made a mistake" and should be allowed to learn from it. He feels that any prison sentence Vick receives is punishment enough and that an NFL suspension would be harsh. Well, I understand the argument, but I couldn't disagree more.

First, the crime. White speaks of it (along with many other Vick supporters) as though Vick was ticketed for jaywalking. This man committed a serious crime. Brutal cruelty to animals represents human behavior disturbing in every sense of the word. Many clinical sociopaths are identified early because of their tendency to engage in such behavior. Any psychiatrist will tell you that someone capable of brutality towards animals is also capable of the same towards humans, which is one of the reasons why this is against the law. So, Vick will plead guilty to a very serious crime and with that comes serious punishment. Five years in prison is fair, although I highly doubt he will get that much.

So what happens after his prison term? White says that Vick's debt to society would then be paid and the slate wiped clean and Vick should then be allowed back into the NFL. Well, the debt to society might be paid, but what about the debt to the NFL? Vick's behavior reflects very poorly on the NFL, not to mention that he is yet another professional athlete with a felony history. I'm not the only one getting tired of these guys behaving like the rules don't apply to them.

Let me put it this way: If I were to commit a felony, my license to practice medicine would likely be revoked, meaning I could never practice medicine again. Other professional organizations are similar. I wouldn't object if the NFL suspended him for life, although that is also highly unlikely lest they risk a racism charge. Felonies and professionalism don't mix, and Vick is a professional. With that comes responsibility and violating that responsibility carries penalties. Yes, he needs to serve time, but that's not the only consequence he should pay. My guess is the NFL will suspend him for the length of his prison term and allow the suspension to be served while in prison. The NFL tends to be gutless that way (along with all other professional sports organizations). Hopefully, the individual teams will refuse to sign him. Vick committed a major crime, and he should lose his career for it. The NAACP is wrong.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Politics and they mix? Lately there have been a few rumblings in the 2008 Presidential contest and this seems to boil down to that ever present question: Is a candidate's personal life of concern to voters? We saw it a bit in 2000, when George Bush sternly warned reporters to keep their mitts off his daughters, and for the most part they have. So it's no surprise to see similar things with the latest candidates.

First, we have Michelle Obama, who has come out of her shell lately, talking about how much they value traditional family values and how much emphasis she and her husband place on their family. She added: "if you can't run your own house, you can't run the White House." Take that Hillary. Or was she jabbing at Guiliani?

Speaking of Rudy, at the latest GOP debate he got a little miffed when a voter asked how he'd expect the American people to give him loyal fellowship if he was having a hard time getting it from his own family. Guiliani's response sounded like a schoolyard bully who'd just been punched in the stomach: "The best thing I can say is kind of leave my family alone, just like I'll leave your family alone." Wow. I think someone just struck a nerve with Rudy.

So is a candidate's family off-limits? To a certain extent, yes. Sometimes being decent means leaving them alone. Take Al Gore's son, for example. He is struggling with addiction and severe legal problems. Let the family deal with it. No need to smear. No need to ask questions. This kid has problems, what else is there to report?

But, do the voters have a right to know what's going on with Rudy and his kids? And why did Hillary not leave Bill? The latter brings in a question of character. Did she stay with him because she adamantly opposes divorce? Or to spare Chelsea? Or, did she stick with him because it would help her White House chances in the long run? I think these are legitimate questions and perhaps Hillary would be better served to answer them.

As for Rudy, all this secrecy is hurting him. What's going on with his kids? His former wives? I don't think people are out of line asking. And why can't Rudy give at least something resembling an explanation. "My kids and I often don't see eye to eye, and divorces hardly help."

That's it. Would anyone have trouble understanding that? No, of course not. We all have interesting family dynamics we deal with. Rudy's mysterious secrecy is hurting him in the eyes of the conservative base, and don't think for a second the Dems (especially Hillary) aren't itching to exploit that as much as the GOP is chomping at the bit to get at Hillary. It should be an interesting campaign.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I am sure everyone is aware of the McDonald's cheeseburger case, but let me hit the highlights. A man in West Virginia ordered a quarter pounder with no cheese. He has a severe allergy to cheese, enough to cause a potential life-threatening reaction, and told the staff 5 times to hold the cheese. Of course, they put cheese on his burger (who out there hasn't had problems with this). The man went home to watch movies with his friends (apparently in a dark room), bit into the burger, and within minutes began having a severe allergic reaction. He was rushed to the hospital and treated. Fortunately, he survived with no adverse outcomes. Now, he is suing McDonald's for $10 million. His friends have also filed suit claiming their lives were put in danger because they had to rush him to the hospital. And here we go again.

First, before we start assaulting McDonald's, let's not forget that the plaintiff still has the majority of the responsibility here. Yes, he told them 5 times no cheese, but still I wonder: Why didn't he check to make sure the order was right before taking a big bite from the burger of death? Again, we've all been victimized by incompetent fast-food workers and it seems like he put a little too much trust in them. Thankfully, I don't have any serious allergies, but if I did and there was possibly something on my burger that could kill me, I would check before I ate it. This guy shares some of the blame for his brush with death and that should not be forgotten. And his friends? Come on. If they're going to sue McDonald's then they should also sue their friend - since he is partially to blame.

As fas as the lawsuit, it sounds a bit ridiculous. $10 million? I understand the concept of punitive damages. They are meant to be just that...punitive. And you can't punish a billion dollar company with small awards, so the damages have to be hefty. That's why a woman gets $3 million for spilling coffee on herself. I don't think punitive damages are always bad. Sometimes big industry needs to be punished. However, I do believe these damages should not be given to the plaintiff or his attorney. That just encourages unnecessary litigation. Punish the offender. Give the money to charity. That will eliminate a good deal of the frivolous lawsuits that are gumming up our courts.

Finally, if I'm a juror the plaintiff would have to convince me that the McDonald's corporation was the one at fault, and not some careless burger-flipping teenager at the grill. I would like to see company policy on special orders, mechanisms for checking those orders, and disciplinary procedures for employees that don't uphold company policy. I would think that it is McDonald's policy to give the customers what they ask for. Expecting them to police every single employee is unrealistic. So, if this guy has a case, then it appears his case is with the person who made the burger more so than the company he works for. Why isn't he suing that person? We all know the answer to that.

Similar things happen in medicine. A doctor writes an order for a medication. The order is correct, the medication is appropriate, but the nurse mistakenly gives the wrong thing and it causes a harmful event. Who gets sued? That's right...the doctor. Why? Because the doctor is the one with the money. Is that fair? Of course not, and it's one of the reasons why many states are currently in medical crisis. So that's why I think my idea about awarding punitive damages is the right idea. A person shouldn't get $3 million for basically being an idiot and not realizing that coffee is hot and may burn. Cover the medical costs and damages for the plaintiff, but give the punitive award to someone who shares none of the blame. I think it would go a long way to solving some of the problems of our litigious society.
Catholic churches in the Netherlands should use the name Allah for God to ease tensions between Muslims and Christians, says a Dutch bishop. Tiny Muskens, the bishop of Breda, told the Dutch TV program "Network" Monday night he believes God doesn't mind what he is called, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported. The Almighty is above such "discussion and bickering," he insisted. Muskens points to Indonesia, where he served 30 years ago, as an example for Dutch churches. Christians in the Middle East also use the term Allah for God.
"Someone like me has prayed to Allah yang maha kuasa (Almighty God) for eight years in Indonesia and other priests for 20 or 30 years," Muskens said. "In the heart of the Eucharist, God is called Allah over there, so why can't we start doing that together?"......

I find this to be very interesting. Note that I pulled this from the Michael Reagan show, and many of his listeners are unhappy about it. I admit, at first it sounded ridiculous. Why would the Christian community refer to their God as Allah? But I thought about it a moment, and remembered what I could about theology and the Bible. If I'm not mistaken, the three religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all originated from Abraham. I'm sure there are some out there with better theologic knowledge than I, please feel free to chime in. And I'd also like to hear from any Muslim and Jewish readers about this.

For centuries these three religions have been at each other's throats in seemingly constant conflict. For what? That in itself is a very simple, yet provocative question. After all, Abraham served only one God. And if we are all sons of Abraham, are we not all children of the same God? Yes, I understand that the conflicts arise as we move down in lineage. But shouldn't this commonality at least be enough for us to coexist? I'm not saying we all convert to one religion or another. I'm just asking why people who worship the same God can't exist amongst each other with respect and peace. I've often wondered why Jerusalem, a city sacred to all three religions, can't be shared rather than fought over. Yes, my religion teaches that Judea is the land promised by God to the Jews, but does this promise not allow any other religion to exist in that area? I could ask the same question of the other religions. I'm not being confrontational towards Jews or Muslims, I'm simply asking questions that I don't know the answers to.

So, I understand what this particular Bishop is saying, and I respect him for it. The problem is his actions may be interpreted by some Muslim extremists and mainstream Christians as evidence of capitulation, which is why the Bishop is meeting resistance in his efforts. It is my opinion that the vast majority of Christians, Muslims and Jews are willing to coexist peacefully. Live and let live, and so on. But, unfortunately, there exists an extremist minority that wants global domination of their particular religion. Throughout history, all three religions have been guilty of this. All three have claimed Jerusalem as theirs and theirs alone. As much as I love my religion and my God, I feel that making such a claim is simply not right, and I feel God would agree. Because while converting others may be a noble cause, converting under the sword is not. If all three religions are willing to make that concession, then all three must also be willing to accept the presence of each other, with respectful disagreement. When that day comes, so will the day of peaceful coexistance.

Editor's addendum: This does not represent a change in my policy. I still support the global war on terror and aggressive action to neutralize religious extremists who murder in the name of God. My position on religion is (and always has been) that it is not necessary for one or the other to be dominant. Religion is a very personal thing, and we should respect each other's beliefs, even and especially when we don't agree. Those who fail at this and seem intent to convert or kill can't be reasoned with and therefore must be neutralized, or else we risk them ruining any chance we have at peace. That is, in my opinion, what's necessary before all religions can coexist peacefully.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Some Macon residents have called for demonstrations and boycotts after the mayor of the central Georgia city formally reached out to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez with a declaration of solidarity. Jack Ellis said the declaration, sent about two weeks ago by courier, was a message that local leaders can stand together despite disagreements at the highest reaches of government. Some local leaders have blasted the mayor's decision to support Chavez, a vocal ally of Iran and Cuba who has called President Bush "the devil."...Ellis praised the controversial leader, who has subsidized the cost of heating fuel for some American low-income citizens, as a champion for the common man who could offer aid to Macon's residents. "This is about a humanitarian effort," he said. "This is not about politics." A Venezuelan Web site reported that Chavez had thanked Ellis for his support during an eight-hour broadcast of his show "Alo, Presidente," which he used to call for a "global alliance of civilizations to resist the attacks of U.S. imperialism.".............

Thanks to Vlado for the feed.

Mayor Ellis has something in common with Sean Penn, who recently made a trip to Venezuela as a journalist (no, I'm not kidding) and just can't seem to get enough of the Castro mini-me. Indeed, Chavez has slowly become the hero of many on the Left who believe that socialism is the best route to that ever-elusive utopia, although I'm sure there are many Cuban-Americans in south Florida that would disagree. Chastro has referred to President Bush as "the devil", called on international efforts to resist US imperialism, led a government takeover of Venezuela's crude oil industry, led a similar takeover of the media, and just today announced his intent to change the constitution so he can be "re-elected" to office indefinitely. But, he gives money to the poor and is a "champion" for the common man. Yeah, sounds like a great guy.

Chavez is a Socialist, let's not beat around the bush. Socialists survive by promising the little guy that the government will provide them with everything they need and will counterbalance the "haves" of the world, and in return the little man owes his services to the government. This, of course, gives the government power which is what it's all about for those in the "party". Sounds wonderful to some, but not me. What the government gives, the government can also take away. But this doesn't make socialism any less of a threat. Promising big things to the "have nots" is a brilliant political strategy, entire empires were built around the notion, however empty that promise always seems to be. History has taught us that Socialism is a failed and flawed form of government, amounting to oppression. People like Jack Ellis and Sean Penn still have a lot to learn. Chastro will roll out the red carpet for these people in an effort to show them how wonderful his people live, but unfortunately the real story won't be told...despite Penn's talent as a journalist.

Whether it's Chavez's championing for the poor, or Castro's health care, the Left seem to fall over themselves in praise for the world's best known Socialists. I don't get it, especially when we consider the dark days of the iron curtain and the bloody images of Tiannamen Square. I guess the prospect of utopia is strong enough to induce amnesia and revisions of history.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

When Gordon Lee kept his comic book store open late on Halloween in 2004, he was hoping to attract the attention of youngsters. Three years, two sets of facts and a slew of changed charges later, Lee has received much more attention — from an outraged mother of two, the media, prosecutors, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the comic book community as a whole — all because of a comic book drawing of a naked Pablo Picasso. On Halloween night, Lee decided to participate in a trick-or-treat event where he distributed more than 2,000 free comic books at his store in Rome, Georgia. Among those he distributed was "Alternative Comics #2," which included drawings of Pablo Picasso's allegedly erect penis. A copy was handed out to two brothers, a 6-year-old and a 9-year-old, according to court documents. The boys' mother objected to the drawings of the penis, claiming it was inappropriate for her children


Thanks to Loop for feeding the story. So here's a brief summary: A comic store owner participates in a Halloween event for children. He knows kids will be receiving free stuff, and some of that stuff came from his store. Included in that stuff was a comic received by a 6 year old and a 9 year old which shows a naked Pablo Picasso (possibly with an erect penis) in an historically accurate moment. The mother of the two boys protested. The shop owner was arrested and now faces charges of distributing illicit material to minors.

Now my take. First, whether or not this is historically accurate is a non-issue. There are plenty of historically accurate events that are simply not appropriate for young children. A good example is Mel Gibson's The Passion. The violence in this film may be accurate, but young children have no business watching it until their minds are capable of processing what they see. There are many other examples in film, music, art and school textbooks. Second, a drawing of an erect penis and a naked man does, in my mind, amount to sexually explicit material, certainly inappropriate for a 9 year old and a 6 year old.

But then there is the issue of intent. What exactly was this guy trying to do? Based on what I've read, it appears that he gave out many comics that day, and these two boys were the only ones who got the inappropriate stuff. I have a hard time believing that he was deliberately doing anything lewd. Dumb? Yes. He should have exercised better judgment and looked over his free comics a little better before giving them to children. It was irresponsible on his part, and I wouldn't have any heartache with him paying a fine. But prison time? Come on. As I've said before, there are bigger fish that need frying.

Calling this a free speech issue is a stretch. You may have the right to view sexually explicit material, but you don't have the right to deliberately give that stuff to minors. It's against the law. So, I guess technically, the charges apply in that he distributed the stuff at an event that he knew would be attended by children, but again it seems like the prosecution would have to prove this guy's lewd intent and I just don't see that happening. If he had deliberately distributed one thousand of these comics to children, then there may be a stronger case. But we need to use a little common sense here. I don't think this guy is a pornographer and I don't think he needs jail time.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I am a devout Christian. And because of that devotion, I feel it is my responsibility to hold fellow Christians accountable when they misrepresent my religion. There is a problem in the Christian community. That problem is self-righteousness...the notion that I am better than you because Jesus is my personal savior. It's an attitude that is wholly un-Christian, one that I reject and one that I am highly critical of whenever I see it. Which brings me to the High Point Church in Arlington, Texas.

Cecil Sinclair worked as a janitor in the church, although he was not a church member (probably because he did not feel welcome). He died from post-operative complications and the church agreed to hold a memorial service for their employee, that is until they discovered that he was gay. Apparently, they were concerned about some photos supplied by the sister for a tribute slide-show. Some of these photos showed questionably provocative images of Sinclair and his partner. The church claimed they were unaware of his sexual orientation until the day before the service, and decided to cancel the service so as not to appear to endorse homosexual behavior.

Well, the church is dead wrong. I do believe that homosexuality is sinful behavior. This is my personal religious belief and I have been attacked ruthlessly for it, but my belief is my belief. So, I side with the church in that regard. But, if there is one thing my religion teaches it's that Christians should be careful that we condemn the behavior while embracing the individual. To do otherwise would be construed as intolerance and bigotry, and perhaps rightfully so. It gives Christianity a bad name and I will not tolerate that.

How exactly does holding a memorial service for a gay man amount to endorsing homosexual behavior? I have no idea. The man was a sinner, so what. Are any of us any different? Are any of us any better? No. I wonder if the High Point Church feels the same way. If the photos are offensive or conflict with church teaching, then don't show them. But you can still pay tribute and remembrance to the man who died. I think Jesus would agree with that.

The High Point Church is way off, and if I were a member this issue would effectively terminate that membership. It is my wish that Christians join me in condemning them for their actions not representative of our beliefs. Cecil Sinclair deserves a memorial service, and if the church promised to provide that service then they should have. Shame on them for refusing to embrace a fellow human being, a fellow sinner. Shame on them for misrepresenting Christianity.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A recent study on murder statistics shows that half of all murder victims are black, and that 93% of those were killed by someone of their own race.

This is quite stunning. One of my first posts dealt with the problems facing today's African-American community, and in it I longed for the leadership and inspiration of Martin Luther King. The point I made was that the black community appears to be self-destructing, and the black leadership seems to be devoting their attention to other issues. I am disappointed in the lack of a strong leader-figure in the black community, someone who can inspire and elevate as Dr. King did so well. Instead, we have people like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan, people who seem to traffic in racism and profit from the sufferings of their own people while offering little in the way of solutions to the problems that cause that suffering. There seems to be a "blame the man" mentality that often acts as an excuse for failure, and these so called leaders do nothing but echo and enable that sentiment.

Drug use, illegitimate births, high school dropouts, gang violence, gangster rap and poverty are decimating the African-American population while Al Sharpton devotes his time to an insensitive, ignorant remark made by Don Imus. Does this inspire people? No. Does it solve any problems? No. Imus was wrong but come on, Reverand, you've got bigger fish to fry.

Our politicians don't seem to have an answer either. We're now four decades into the Great Society programs and still we're staring at these problems wondering what to do. Trillions have been spent, and still our political leaders (at least in one of the major parties) only want to continue throwing money at the problem. Don't these issues go deeper than simple lack of spending? When half of our murders occur in a group of people that only comprise 13% of the general population, I think the problem goes beyond money. But still, the empty promises flow.

This is a problem rooted at the most basic level of our society...the family. George H.W. Bush was mocked in 1992 because of his platform of family values, and the importance of family in America. I think he was on to something, and I think the objective African-American who sees these problems every day would agree. If things are going to change for the black community, then they're going to have to change at the most basic levels. The black family is going to have to be strengthened, the black neighborhood given a boost of pride. I like Bush's ideas of faith-based initiatives, increasing home ownership in the black community and doing things to favor small businesses. This allows the community to play an active role without having to rely on big brother government, which seems to only leave us wading through the rancid waters of a flooded city. Business and home ownership brings pride to the black neighborhood, pride brings involvement, involvement brings action. After that, the ripple effect will take hold. And, still, Congress passes a minimum wage hike that will do nothing but hurt small businesses and probably cut jobs, and now they're talking about raising taxes, another business killer. I just don't get it.

There are some serious problems here. Congress is sleeping on the job. The black leadership is side-tracked and uninspiring. No one seems to have any answers beyond the failed premises of the blame game and increased spending. 50% of our murders are black citizens. Dr King, oh how we need you now more than ever.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Texas State Legislature passed a law that allows for Texas public schools to observe a moment of silence before the beginning of each school day. This moment is exactly as it sounds, a brief period of silent time given to the children to do with as they please. Some children may doodle on their notebook, some may daydream about recess, some may pick their nose. And some children may choose to use this time as a moment of prayer to their personal God, which is why David Croft of Carrolton, Texas has decided to bring a lawsuit contesting this silent moment. Mr. Croft somehow believes that this amounts to state-sanctioned religion and therefore violates the Constitution. How he could even begin to make such an argument is beyond me, but people like Mr. Croft hate religion so much that they find it horribly offensive to think that someone, somewhere may actually be practicing it, their Constitutional right to do so be damned.

It's clear that Mr. Croft doesn't have a case. An identical law in Virginia has already been upheld by the courts. But don't close the book on him yet. There are plenty of activist judges out there who hate religion just as much as he does and I'm sure he will continue filing suits and spending taxpayer dollars on the trials until he finds one of them. Plus, the ACLU is lurking and they have lots of money and fancy attorneys just for these kinds of issues. Don't be surprised if this case makes it to the US Supreme Court.

If people like Croft had their way, religion would cease to exist in our schools in any form. Put them in charge, and our schools would soon be patrolled by government enforcers looking for signs of religious belief. The Muslim child who passes on pork in the school cafeteria will be violating the Constitution. And so would the Catholic who makes the sign of the Cross before eating her lunch. And the Jewish child during Passover? Well, they would have no right to unleavened bread. I know this sounds ridiculous, but don't laugh too much. Isn't it equally ridiculous to claim that silence is unConstitutional? There are plenty of people who would be okay with these ideas, and they're the ones filing the lawsuits. Maybe we could find a way to file a countersuit against Croft seeking to reconcile the taxpayer dollars he is spending on his assault on our Constitution. A guy can dream.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The New York City city council, as many of you know, has banned the "n-word", and now they are apparently seeking to ban both "bitch" and "ho".

With this latest example of political correctness run horribly amock, I am left wondering exactly what the city council is trying to accomplish. Okay, I understand the fact that they're making a statement, that this is more symbolic than anything else and that there is no way they can possibly enforce such an ordinance, but I can't help wondering if their time is better spent elsewhere.

Not to make light of the issue. Pop culture has become quite demeaning, and there is way too much nastiness out there. I'm all for taking a stand against those who belittle, but I think the city council could have been a little more creative with this. Banning certain words? You've got to be kidding.

How about banning the sale of explicit music? Or, me being a capitalist, levee a tax on the sale of such music and use the revenue to help fund social programs. Banning a few pathetic little words?

I would think that it is common sense that the use of these words in everyday language implies a certain lack of sophistication, intelligence and civilization. The fact that a city council has to pass an ordinance to tell us that is scary. The fact that they would even consider devoting their time to this issue is even scarier. But I do wonder how the Left will respond. I'm sure there will be many who will praise this effort, forcing me to remember that these are the same people who defend an LA child predator's right to post ideal locations throughout the city for viewing "LG's" (his term for little girls). So, to some, it is okay for this guy to stare at little girls and write about it, as long as he doesn't call them "ho's" or "bitches".

In my mind, we have enough problems without having to create more. If you want to address the destructive nature of Hip-Hop culture and Gangsta Rap, by all means you will have my support. But things like this are pretty pointless. I guess for now, dog breeders in New York are going to have to adjust their vocabulary. And Santa Claus had better watch his mouth as well.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A lesson from history

Today is the 62nd anniversary of one of the darkest days in history. On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped the first nuclear bomb ever used in warfare on the city of Hiroshima. President Harry Truman gave the order for the attack. History remembers him as both a tyrant and a hero. I remember him as a man who faced a difficult decision and did all he could do, which is choose the lesser of two evils.

The other option was a full invasion of the Japanese mainland. Six months earlier, US troops set foot on Japanese soil on the island of Iwo Jima. It is a small volcanic island only eight square miles in size, but to the Japanese it was sacred soil. It was Japanese soil. They defended that island with a ferocity never before seen. The fighting at Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Wake was fierce, but nothing like what the American marines faced at Iwo Jima. It took over one month of naval bombardment, air strikes and constant pushing by America's finest amphibious troops before Iwo Jima was wrestled from Japanese hands. Of the 22,000 Japanese defenders, 21,000 were killed. Only 216 were taken prisoner. In total, there were 27,000 allied casualties. All of this for 8 square miles of real estate. And Truman was faced with invading the Japanese mainland, all 88,000 square miles of it. Despite all of this, there are still arguments that Japan was on the brink of surrender and that Truman's decision was wrong.

On August 6, the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Japan refused to surrender. Even after being hit with the most destructive device ever known in warfare, they were still prepared to carry on the fight. Was this an army on the verge of breaking? Only six months earlier they suffered over 95% casualties defending 8 square miles of Japanese soil. And still Truman is cursed for his decision.

Historians estimate allied casualties from a Japanese mainland invasion would have been over 1 million, while Japan would have suffered 3 times that many. With Iwo Jima as a comparison, is there any doubt about the accuracy of these numbers? Still, Truman is cursed.

Truman will always be hated and cursed, mainly by those who exploit the advantage they have of not knowing the historical outcome of the alternative decision that Truman never made. They can always say that Japan was on the brink of surrender. I am sure Truman considered this. I am sure he listened to those advisors who felt Japan was beaten. He also listened to those who experienced Iwo Jima, and estimated our losses in an invasion at over one million. He listened, and made the right decision.

Maybe Japan would have surrendered within a month. Maybe they would have dug in and carried the war on another 2 or 3 years. The question facing Truman was: Am I willing to wager one million American lives, and 3 million Japanese lives on their supposed willingness to surrender? The answer was obvious.

So, President Truman, wherever you are, this patriot tips his hat to you, a man of courage who did the right thing despite knowing the consequences. He chose the lesser of two evils, which is sometimes the only option available. Here's hoping that kind of courage can be found in today's leaders, and in the leaders of the future.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Here is an excerpt from a recent comment:

"Oh yeah. If you do not believe in the separation of church and state, then I think you are truly unAmerican."

As for the name calling, there are many who take offense at being called unAmerican or unpatriotic. These are hot button labels that seem to get a lot of people boiling mad, and it seems to really bother those on the Left, probably because these words tend to hit a proverbial nerve. I mean, if you call an unattractive person dumb, he'll probably shrug it off, but call him ugly and he'll get upset. Calling a liberal unAmerican amounts to the ultimate insult. The only thing that gets Ted Kennedy more red-faced is a nice bottle of single malt.

For me, the label is insignificant and hollow. I am 6'2" tall, so calling me unAmerican is akin to calling me short. It makes no sense, seems rather laughable and reflects a degree of ignorance in the accuser. But it does give me a nice chuckle.

It's not the first time, mind you. There have been many on the Left who have graced this website and they all have the same arguments. My readers will surely recognize these canned talking points which leads me to ask, if the Left so adamantly believes in their cause why wouldn't they champion it with a little more originality?

But I do, in a way, pity those who have no comprehension of what it means to be American, in much the same way I pity a child who wields his daddy's gun like a toy, unaware of the danger in carelessness. You know the inevitable is coming. Indeed, the Left seems to wield our freedoms in the same manner.

I believe in the Constitution and the freedoms guaranteed by it, but I also believe that the Constitution must be protected and defended vigorously, not just in taking up arms against those who wish to destroy It, but also in taking care not to neglect or abuse the freedom that It provides. With freedom comes an immense responsibility and part of that is the responsibility of self-restraint. The Left has failed to grasp this concept and so our freedom becomes abused. So it hardly bothers me when someone like that calls me unAmerican. It is the equivalent of me calling someone unmotherly. How can I possibly fling that accusation when I have no idea what it means to be a mother?

Os Guinness once said: "Faith requires freedom, Freedom requires virtue, Virtue requires faith and so on ad infinitum." In the context of today's society he seems to be dead on, which is why this quote is a central theme in my book. So I take a few days off to travel "deep-in-the-heart" and I leave my faithful readers to ponder those words, the words of an Irishman born in China who knows what it means to be free, to be American. God bless you all.