Monday, February 27, 2006

Black History Month

I was inspired to write this post for two reasons. First, the month is almost over and I realized I've barely mentioned it on this blog. Second, some comments in a previous blog, Flight 93 regarding this issue led me to believe it deserves a post of its own.

I remember hearing a comedian once say that Black History Month was a rip-off because, "When they finally gave us a month, they picked the shortest, coldest month on the calendar!" The older I get, the more truth I think there is to that. I mean, if you really wanted to have a decent BHM, why not have it in June? It could coincide with Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. At least then we could have a barbecue! But, what the hell is there to do in February?

Then I started thinking of a bigger question. Does anybody still really celebrate Black History Month anymore? Is there even a need for it? I suppose it's good to have for school children. After all, it's great for kids to learn about Black leaders like Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Condoleeza Rice, and Colin Powell. It's better than learning that Black people were slaves, then freed, and not much else (which was primarily what was in history books when I was a kid).

But shouldn't we be past colored (no pun intended) history? I mean, Blacks have triumphed throughout American history. Shouldn't that be incorporated into our children's textbooks? When they study science shouldn't they learn that Dr. Charles Drew, a Black doctor in the 1930s, was the first to successfully separate plasma from blood? Or that he founded two of the world's largest blood banks? When they study history, politics, or government, shouldn't they know that Hiram Revels, the first Black U.S. Senator (and a Republican) was appointed to his Senate seat from the state of Mississippi in 1870?

Morgan Freeman recently did an interview with 60 Minutes where he said Black History Month was "ridiculous." He went on to say, "You're going to relegate my history to a month?...I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history." I would tend to agree with him.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Racial Profiling at the Ports

Bigotry is ugly no matter where it comes from. There seems to be a hint of it in the air involving the efforts by a company in the United Arab Emirates to buy shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports from the Bristish company that currently operates them. In the past few days I've heard politicians on both sides of the aisle talking about why this deal "must be stopped." Why? There aren't any American companies that do this type of work anymore. Why is the UAE company no more capable of running operations than the British company (who wants to get out of the business)?

There are politicians who are genuinely concerned because of the Global War on Terror (GWOT). I can respect their opinions eventhough we disagree on the substance. But, there are other policians who are simply race baiting and that is wrong. We should all step back, take a breath, and reexamine this issue thoroughly before we allow our emotions to get the better of us.

CBS News has a great story titled, "In Defense of Dubai" that looks at this issue from a more objective standpoint. I suggest we all try to do the same thing.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Why Does Anyone Care?

I picked up some medication from Wal-Mart today (been very ill lately). As I waited to pay, I saw a lot of magazines and tabloids featuring Jennifer Anniston, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Jessica Simpson and NickLachey, Britney Spears and Kevin whatever-his-last-name-is. I realized these are pretty much the same people and same stories that are always in these weekly mags.

Now, if you don't know who any of those people are, you are either very young ("Dora the Explorer" age), very old, or VERY blessed. But, unfortunately, most of us do know because their images are practically everywhere. Even if you're not a person who pays much attention to celebrity culture, you still have a tangential idea of what's going on in these celebs lives.

But for those who may not, here's a quick recap: Brad dumped wife Jennifer, slept with Angelina, she's pregnant with his baby; Tom went crazy on Oprah's couch, proposed to Katie, their relationship is incredibly annoying and may be in trouble; Jessica and Nick were in love, married, then split (didn't see that coming); Britney and her jobless husband, Kevin, have a baby and now, possible marital problems (No! Really?). There, you're all caught up.

Now you may be asking "So what? Who cares?" EXACTLY what I thought. These are all the "beautiful people " whose somewhat pampered real lives seem more like daytime soap operas than anyone I know. Yet, these tabloids and magazines sell quite well. If they didn't, there wouldn't be so many of them.

For the record, I don't care what these peoples personal lives are like. But, I am intrigued by why so many other people do. Even the news media is prone to reporting celebrities' ups-and-downs. Certain news channels have special segments devoted entirely to this. Is it the appeal of the celebrity culture? The soap opera melodrama of their lives? What?

Don't get me wrong. Celebrity culture does have its appeal. I remember watching Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous hosted by, the appropriately named, Robin Leach. For a short time the show, which showcased celebs and their amazing mansions and beach homes, was enjoyable. That is, until it started feeling more like Lifestyles of the I'm Better than You Are.

From a human standpoint, I find this whole thing interesting. Not the celebs, but the people who follow their lifestyles. Does what happens in these famous peoples lives really affect us in any way? Does whether or not Brad and Angelina get married make a difference in your paycheck? I haven't noticed one yet in mine. And don't even get me started on Paris Hilton. As long as her parents don't put her in charge of the hotel business, I'll be fine.

We all have our own lives to live and our own goals to accomplish. We have dreams for ourselves and our children that don't involve cameras following us around 24/7. But for some reason many are drawn to these people and their experiences. Did you ever wonder why?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Emotionalism and the Media

It's sad to say, but the "Cheney's Got a Gun" story continues. We are into DAY 5 and the media STILL considers this the #1 news item to report on. Despite the fact that Vice President Cheney has given an interview discussing, in detail, what happened the day of the shooting the media is promoting several different scenarios. First, it was "Why didn't he tell us sooner?" Then, it became "What is the vice president hiding?" Now the new meme is "Was the vice president drunk while hunting?" with a subplot of "What happens if Whittington [the shooting victim] dies?" I even had a commenter in a previous post tell me she had heard that Whittington died and Cheney pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Based on the reporting I've seen so far, I'm inclined to believe her.

This is emotion-driven journalism and it's not a good thing. When the "main stream media" (MSM) get this wrapped up, to the exclusion of nearly all other news, in what should be a 2-3 day story tops, it shows a lack of judgement. It appears that Bush Derangement Syndrome (B.D.S.) has spread throughout factions of the MSM. Reporters aren't supposed to become emotionally atached to their stories because it colors their judgement. But, it is no secret, especially among members of the press, that the Bush Administration is strongly disliked by many reporters. If you don't believe me read Dick Cheney, the enigma or this and this from HughHewitt.com.

Now, I do believe the media should have a healthy skeptism of people in power. But, to have a seemingly seething hatred of those people leads to bad journalism. It leads people who live and work in the media bubble to begin to report on and believe things with very little evidence of the veracity of their reports. I saw something similar to this in the 1990s with the Clinton Administration, however, not on quite the same scale as today.

To set the record straight, today, the Kenedy County Sheriff's Department reported that no charges would be filed regarding the Cheney shooting. And to answer a past commenter, Harry Whittington isn't dead. In fact, he was reported to be up and about in his hospital room today. VP Cheney didn't plead guilty to manslaughter. In order to be guilty of manslaughter, the victim must die. Although there are members of the press who probably secretly hope Whittington dies to help advance the story, that doesn't appear to be in the cards at this time.

The main stream media has steadly lost audience over the past 5 years. In the meantime FoxNews, barely in its 10th year on air, has become the undisputed ratings champion for cable news beating CNN and MSNBC combined. Until the MSM starts straight reporting and stops editorializing its reports, it will continue to be on the losing end of the public trust.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cheney's Got a Gun

I always loved that Aerosmith hit song "Janie's Got a Gun." Now that Vice President Cheney accidentally shot a friend while quail hunting over the weekend, I get to hear it parodied a lot. Okay, it's a serious thing that the vice president shot someone with bird shot while hunting. But, you just KNOW Jay Leno, David Latterman, and Jon Stewart are going to have a field day with this story. Heck, they're gonna have a field week!

The only thing funnier than jokes about the story (don't worry; Harry Whittington, the shooting victim, is recovering nicely) is the way the Washington press corps is reacting to it. Apparently, the D.C. press is incredulous that the White House took nearly 24 hours to tell them about the story. "Why is it that it took so long for the president, for you, for anybody else to know that the vice president accidentally shot somebody?" a reporter asked White House spokesman, Scott McClellan. Another reporter actually asked if Mr. Cheney had handed in his resignation or was considering it.

Note to the the Washington press corps: It was an accident, people! Get a grip! Hunting accidents happen. It's part of the risk you take when going hunting (and one of the reasons I don't hunt). If anyone in the D.C. press was an avid hunter, they would understand this. I agree the vice president's office should have gotten the story out sooner but COME ON! It's not like the shooting was intentional. Am I wrong to have this opinion? Is their possibly more to this story than I'm making of it? If so, I'd love to hear what that is.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Human Electronic Tagging

"U.S. Group Implants Electronic Tags in Workers". My personal opinion is this has BAD IDEA written all over it. What say you?

Pop-Tart Mentality

Whatever happened to good old fashioned American resolve? Did it disappear with the advent of MTV and fast-paced video games? Or did it start sooner? Next month will mark the third anniverasry of the Iraq war and for about two and a half years we've heard calls to get out because it becoming a "quagmire." That's a nice Vietnam-era word for "not going very well." It even took us 10 years to lose our nerve in that war.

I remember watching a Sunday morning show, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, where the host asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld 9 days after the war started why we were getting "bogged down" there. Bogged down nine days into a war? Are you kidding me?

It took the U.S. 4 years to win World War II. In the aftermath, it took coalition forces in Germany more than 5 years to democratise that country with lots of violence, from insurgents called Werewolves, in between. It took nearly 7 years to democratise Japan eventhough American forces controlled the entire country. But, we persisted and today both countries are successful, productive, and friendly democratic societies.

So what's happened to our persistence? Why do some Americans seem to want to see wars wrapped up and done in the time it takes to make a pop tart?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Google's China Problem

Is it just me, or does Google's have a hypocracy problem? They're fighting a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice to keep it from looking at random URLs in search of keywords used by child pornographers and terrorists. Yet, Google has agreed to censor itself to please the Beijing governement of China. Could someone please explain to me Google's consistency here? I'd love to here it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Disgraceful Eulogy For A Truly Graceful Woman

What IS it with liberals and funerals? Why can they not seem to just honor the person who has died WITHOUT turning it into a political event? First, they turned Sen. Paul Wellstone's memorial, in 2002, into a disturbing political rally. Now they strike again. Didn't they learn anything from the Wellstone fiasco? I ask these questions because I watched the Coretta Scott King funeral yesterday. Not the whole thing (it was 6 hours long) but enough of the event to become thoroughly disgusted with some of the speakers.

Coretta Scott King was a symbol of strength and stability during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great man who, along with many others, changed the face of this country forever. Because of his efforts, "Generation Y" and their children have played together with children of all colors with little regard for race. Dr. King was a visionary who saw this 40 years head of its time. His premature death (he was only 38) at the hands of a racist shooter shocked a nation. Mrs. King's grace after his death touched the heart of America.

These things and more were said at her funeral yesterday. Some speakers were eloquent and sincere in their praise. But, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and former President Jimmy Carter were an absolute disgrace. They used Mrs. King's funeral to score cheap political points against President Bush. For what was actaully said read this.

Disgraceful! The mother of the Civil Rights movement deserved far better than that.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Whatever Happened To "Uncle Tom?"

I spoke to a friend tonight who told me he heard on a reality TV show the term "Condi" used as a pejorative. I'm paraphasing here, but he heard one young Black man say to another young man who agreed with the NSA Terrorist Surveilance Program, "Yeah, okay Condi."

And that got me thinking: When did being Black stop being about race and start being about political opinions? It appears that Black people who have a political view that doesn't include thinking all Republicans are racists and all Blacks are down-trodden aren't really Black.

Now, I've been Black all my life. Really. Ask my mother. She'll vouch for me. But, I don't subscribe to the "African-American" liberal doctrine. That apparently makes me a "Tom" or a "Condi" to some in my community. I didn't realize I had to believe in a certain political doctrine to be certified as "authentically Black." I guess that means anybody who hates George W. Bush, tax cuts, national defense, and fighting terrorists can be "African-American." Wow! There are A LOT more of them than I thought! Well, they can keep being African-American as long as I can keep being Black.

Ya know, Chris Rock had a point when he said, "Who's more racist? Black people or white people? Black people are... because Black people hate Black people, too."

Monday, February 06, 2006

In the Deep Freeze

A friend and fellow blogger Ms. Curious recently wrote about a World War II airman whose body was found well-preserved frozen in the bottom of a glacier in the Sierra Nevadas. This sparked a conversation between us about people who are paying large sums of money to be frozen so they can be "awaken" 100 years or so from now.

But these aren't people who are on the verge of death. No, these are rich, middle-aged, fairly healthy people who have set up a time (near death) to be frozen. They want to see what the future will offer them 80-100 years from now; believing that they will be able to get, through cloning, a new, better body once they awake. I remember hearing about this phenomenon on the Laura Ingram Show.

Now Ms. Curious and I are both, how do I put this nicely, skeptical about this whole cryogenics thing. In fact, I told her that these people have a whole lot more money than they do brains. I gathered from the story she posted, that the airman who was frozen for 64 years ain't comin' back.

Another friend, Tonya, starts a great article on her blog with, "When I die, I hope God reincarnates me into a Robot." Well, according to this, some have even paid in advance to have just their heads frozen in hope of garnering a new robot body in the future. Again, A LOT more money than brains.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Commercials Win!

What was your favorite Super Bowl XL commercial? You can view them all here. For what it's worth, I thought the sheared "streaker" sheep Budweiser ad was hilarious. But my favorite was the GoDaddy.com ad :)

The Super Bowl Blues

I'm a little depressed tonight. The Pittsburgh Steelers won their first Super Bowl since 1980 and with it, my perfect 8 - 0 Super Bowl prediction record dies. I had picked the Seattle Seahawks to win the game and had not missed a pick since Super Bowl XXXII .

The worse part of losing my perfect record was knowing that Seattle did more to beat themselves than Pittsburgh did to beat them. There were bad calls, bad plays, and poor coaching, all to the Seahawks' detriment.

But Pittsburgh played well and they are the new champions. Congratulations to the coach and team. The long Super Bowl drought in over!

Update: For those of you like me for whom Pro Football isn't just a game, but an emotional experience, have you ever noticed how depressing the end of the Super Bowl is? Even when your team wins? It's a LONG way until August my friends.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Cartoon Chaos In the Muslim World

Well, they're at it again. Members of the so-called "Religion of Peace" burned down the Norwegian and Danish embassies in Damascus, Syria in protest of the publication of newspaper cartoons that poke fun at Prophet Muhammad.

The cartoons are offensive, silly, and tasteless. But burning down embassies? Come on! I'm not saying the cartoons depicting Muhammad as a terrorist were appropriate, but Christians and Jews are made fun of on a regular basis. Can anyone tell me of another religion that supports violence against those who may mock it?

Update: For another perspective on this story go here and here.

Friday, February 03, 2006

What Bad Economy?

The numbers on the economy were released today and, again, the unemployement rate fell...to 4.7%. That's the lowest rate in 4 1/2 years. There were 193,000 jobs added in January. Numbers for November and December were revised upward as well. This despite hurricanes in the Altantic, the Gulf Coast, wildfires, and war.

Now, how many of you knew this? Is it one of the top stories on your local or national news? It isn't on mine. In fact, "despite good news on some economic matters, Americans still feel anxious about the economy, polls indicate."

In the 1990s, a growing economy was usually one of the top stories on the nightly news. What's the difference now?

UPDATE: For more information on this subject Jayson at Polipundit does a much better job than I could.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The New Religion

When I was younger, I was told there are two subjects you never discuss: politics and religion. I understood why religion was a taboo subject to debate. After all, you're talking about someone's deeply held beliefs. What many people base the way they live their entire lives on. Things could get ugly when disagreements arise. After all, wars have been (and continue to be) fought over this subject.

But I didn't understand why politics was off the table. Wasn't sensible debate a large part of what politics is? Isn't it about discussing issues and seeing if we can be agreeable or just agree to disagree?

Well, as I got older, I realized that politics is religion for many people on BOTH sides of the political aisle. Bill Clinton was anathema to many conservatives (and still is) not simply because he was called Slick Willie because his political beliefs were contrary to their religious ones. The "Religious Right" truly had great disdain for him because of his perceived "if it feels good, do it" attitude. George W. Bush has the same problem with the Left. He is hated for his mere existence and called ChimpyMcBushHitler because his views are considered dangerous to their new religion - Leftism. For this Bush, like Clinton, is routinely chastised as someone unworthy of the office of the presidency. Why do you think our politics has become so incredibly personal?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Flight 93

Wow! I just watched a fantastic program on A&E. It's Flight 93, the plane that crashed in a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. The movie focuses on the brave passengers and their families on the ground who stepped into history that fateful day. You simply MUST watch it! The schedule is provided with the link.

The Oscars

The Academy Awards nominations were announced yesterday and, once again, Hollywood found a way to pat intself on the back for nominating the most provocative films it could. For a list of the nominations and a their "hot-button topics " see here.

What's even more interesting is that none of the films nominated for Best Actor, Actress, and Picture have grossed over $55 million dollar (see here). In fact, the average take-in for the five Best Picture nominees is about $38 million. That means very few people have actually gone to see these films. Why? They're agenda films and middle America isn't big on agenda films. USA Today says, "Take your pick: rights of gay and transgender people (Brokeback Mountain, Transamerica), racism (Crash), big oil and government (Syriana) and terrorism (Munich)." Not exactly a list of great date movies.

So why does Hollywood reward these "message movies" with such critical acclaim? I have my thoughts on this (which are pretty eveident in the thread). What are yours?