Monday, May 28, 2007

Voting in Syria

The Detroit Free Press ran this photo:
It also ran a truncated version of this caption:
Asma Assad, wife of Syria's President Bashar Assad, left, casts her vote, Sunday May 27, 2007, at Damascus University after casting their votes. Syrians are expected to elect Assad to a second, seven-year term in a referendum Sunday that would further consolidate his autocratic rule. Assad is the sole candidate, but voters can either approve or reject a second term. Most of the nearly 13 million eligible voters are expected to support a second term for Assad.
My question is: are they kidding?
Assad is the sole candidate, but voters can either approve or reject a second term.
What would happen if voters did reject a second term? Autocrats who got the job by replacing their deceased autocratic fathers have a rather poor record of responding to the will of the people.

Am I reading this wrong, or does the AP, and by extension, the Detroit Free Press, support the dictator Assad? This sure looks like a whitewash to me.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Knocked Up

A new movie is opening soon. It's called, Knocked Up. Catchy title isn't it? If you haven't seen the adds, rest assured that the movie is about exactly what you think it's about. I've seen the TV commercials and read an interview with the star. I watched the trailer on the movie's official website. Normally I have no problem with Hollywood movies. If it looks like something that's going to offend me on either based on either lack of morality or lack of intelligence (except for Wayne's World), I stay away from it. I've seen very few movies recently.

A number of things bother me about this movie. The main thing is the plot; a successful career woman becomes pregnant by a slacker guy who looks like your typical Hollywood-type goofball, your child-like adult with the heart of gold, who by the end of the movie will fall in love with the woman he scored with. They will get married, become totally devoted to their love child and they will all live happily ever after. There will be serious moments leading up to that happy ending and perhaps even some short musings as to the moral implications of one night stands and getting pregnant before marriage. That will all be window dressing. This is an irresponsible movie, and one more tiny push that is "dumbing deviancy down."

The vast majority of women who get knocked up are not successful career women. They are, for the most part, not even educated. I work in a small "urban" school district. Many of my students are products of single parent families. They begin life at a tremendous disadvantage. By the time I get to know them in elementary school, they've already fallen years behind their counterparts from stable two parent families. Because of their family situation, there are a lot of small circumstances that add to the difficulty of their lives. Here are some of them.

Mom works nights so its up to someone else to get the kid or kids to school. They are late a lot.

There is a rotating cast of boyfriends/husbands who may or may not bond with the child. Sometimes there is resentment from the child. They end up carrying a lot of anger which is hurled at any convenient target, whether teachers or other students.

Mom decides to get her life together, so she goes back to school. Since she also has to hold down a job, there is even less time for her child.

Kids are bounced around from Mom's house to Dad's house to Grandma's house, etc. Books, bookbags, homework papers, etc are left or forgotten at one of those houses or in somebody's car on the way to a house. Which one? Your guess is as good as theirs.

Dad, at some point decides that the right thing to do is to take interest in his child's life. Mom may or may not want this. There may be court battles. I've met fathers who have suddenly decided they don't like the way the mother is raising their child, so he decides to sue for custody. They are inevitably proud of this. My unasked question is, "Where were you at the beginning of your child's life?" Some fathers are only a phone call full of empty promises. I watched one day as the biggest, toughest fourth grade boy in the school broke down and threw a tear-filled tantrum becuase his father, once again, had to break a date with him.

One day a little girl was talking about a little boy in the same grade. She told everyone that she was the boy's sister. The little boy said (translated from the original Ebonics), "That's only because your mother's a whore and my daddy did her."

It seems that I've reached the point where I've seen too much reality and I have to reject this simple minded Hollywood fantasy. Yes, I know that there are women who, as single mothers, have raised fine upstanding children. They are not the majority. Raising children with two loving parents is difficult enough. It's irresponsible to present the fantasy that unwed parenthood is just as good, and it's equally irresponsible to pretend that the man who impregnates a woman during a one night stand will step forward and be a responsible father. That rarely happens in the world I live in. In fact, when I meet former students who are now adults and they show off their children to me, I don't even ask about a spouse. The answer might depress me.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Islamic Moderation and the Pew Survey

By now everyone has weighed in on the Pew survey on Islamic extremsim. I'm not sure there's much left to say. The enablers of Islamism try to spin the results in order to lull us into complacency. We shouldn't worry about that "tiny minority of extremists". As Imam Elahi says in this Detroit News report,
"Our tradition leaves no place and no justification for suicide bombings," said Imam Mohammed Ali Elahi, the leader of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights.

"I think that if other Americans read this stuff they'll say, 'Wow, and they are right next door.' " Elahi said. "But I am 17 years in this country and I haven't faced any young individuals who say it is OK in Islam to have a suicide bomb and to support suicide bombings."
Obviously if Elahi hasn't seen it, it doesn't exist. After all, he's been in this country for 17 years. Why doesn't that comfort me? The fact that news outlets can report on this survey and not find it the least bit interesting that Islam is the only religion that promotes this kind of violence as they try to put a happy face on it is mind boggling.

Actually it may not be the only religion. Read this report by Iowahawk. I first read it on Little Green Footballs.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, May 19, 2007

On Forcing an Agenda

On May 4th, 91 year old Leonard Sims was carjacked. That's bad, but it gets worse.
At age 91, Leonard Sims considers himself a forgiving man.

But he's not ready to forgive the 22-year-old Detroit man accused of mercilessly punching him two dozen times during a May 4 carjacking in a convenience store parking lot.
And even worse.
The beating was captured on a store surveillance camera and the story has since gone national.

Sims' 83-year-old wife, Nora, said she's glad that the country can see the tape, which shows a group of people standing nearby, refusing to come to Sims' aid.
Can any more insult be added to that sordid episode? Funny you should ask. It doesn't take much for local columnist, Rochelle Riley, to use that episode to advance an agenda I reported on here. According to Riley,

That's how many vicious blows Leonard Sims endured on May 4 from an idiot trying to take his car.

A heap at a bus stop.

That's what Andrew Anthos became last February when he was felled by what many believed to be a homophobic attack, but the coroner eventually said was a vicious form of arthritis that attacked his spine and caused him to fall and hit his head.

The two Detroit cases are linked by a common thread, a nagging fact, something more than the national attention each received.

In both cases, someone else was there, at the scene, near the victim. And in both cases, they did nothing.
In both cases, justice still appears elusive. Something is missing. Or, more accurately, someone.
I agree that in the Sims case, the people who stood and watch are scum. If they were at least minimally civilized, they would have intervened. In Anthos' case, there is doubt whether there was a witness who walked away. That doesn't fit the "gays as victims" agenda, so there must have been a homophobic attack. If they can't have that, then they will grudingly accept a homophobe, who somehow knew by looking at him that Anthos was gay and so he left him to die after he was felled by arthritis. I hate to be the one to point this out, but dieases are outside the scope of our criminal justice system.

One of the big problems I'm having with some of our local and national pundits, columnists, etc, is the saying that, "everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to there own facts." I'm finding that writers on one side of the debate are allowed their own facts.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sands of Passion: The Al Qaeda Soap Opera

Offensive? Some people will find them so. Funny? You bet. Watch the videos at Elder of Ziyon.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 14, 2007

Ornette Coleman Wins a Pulitzer

The Pulitzer board is discovering Jazz. Not only did Ornette Coleman win one for his latest CD, Sound Grammar, but John Coltrane was awarded a Special Citation. Thelonious Monk received one last year. To me it's always good when the market for Jazz music is expanded. That means it will be easier for me to find the CDs that I want because they will be pushed the same way that the latest pop garbage is pushed.

I don't think the Pulitzer Prize is going to expand the market though. As much as I like Ornette and Jazz, I'm through kidding myself that it has mass appeal. As important as it may be to the history of music, the fact is that as a Jazz fan, I'm part of a dwindling minority. And as tiny as the appeal of Jazz is to the music consumer, the appeal of Ornette Coleman among Jazz fans is even smaller. Ornette has always been "out there". I like "out there", I own a bunch of his albums, and I've seen him in concert three times. I was at the Sound Grammar concert in Ann Arbor Michigan. It was a good concert, but I didn't think it was a great concert. I'm glad I went. Ornette has acheived "elder statesman" status. That takes a lifetime, so who knows how much longer he's going to be with us? The Sound Grammar CD was recorded in Germany. Had it been the Ann Arbor show, I would have bought it immediately. Eventually I'll get it. It just doesn't seem important right now. A friend that I attended the concert with, has a bootleg copy of the show, but it's not the complete show.

The first time I saw Ornette, he was with his Prime Time band. It was a free concert in Detroit. There was a band before him. As soon as he began, people began leaving. About half way through the show, my date asked how much longer he was going to play. My answer, "until everyone is gone."

The second time I saw him was on the Song X tour, with Pat Metheny. Recently I met someone who was also at that show, but he went to see Metheny. Big mistake. They played Ornette's music. He didn't last the whole show. For this latest one, we were all Ornette Coleman fans. Nobody left.

As for the Pulitzer, from what I've read about past awards, especially when it comes to news reporting, it's become increasingly politically motivated. Can this also be true about the music awards? According to Terry Teachout,
So what's going on here? Let's start with a little history. The Pulitzer Board embarrassed itself in 1965 when it overruled that year's jury, which voted to give Duke Ellington a special award for lifetime achievement. It would have been the first time a Pulitzer went to a jazz musician. Ellington clearly qualified for the honor, but the board thought otherwise. The Duke, as usual, had the last word. "Fate is being kind to me," he said. "Fate doesn't want me to be famous too young." (Ellington was 66 at the time.)

What made the decision especially galling was that the Pulitzer Prize had--and has--a bad reputation among music professionals. Prior to 2004, Pulitzer juries consisted of four composers and a critic. Classical composers are famously cliquish, so the prizes were usually given out to members in good standing of classical music's old-boy network, often to pieces that soon vanished without a trace. (Ever heard of Quincy Porter's Two-Piano Concerto?) Some were worthy, others less so, but the award itself came to be seen as increasingly irrelevant.

More recently, the Pulitzer Board approved the granting of special posthumous awards to Scott Joplin, George Gershwin and--yes--Ellington. Mr. Marsalis's award was rightly seen as a deliberate attempt to widen the scope of the main prize by giving it to a jazz composer for the first time. But most jazz is improvised, not notated, meaning that few of the greatest jazz musicians would have qualified for a Pulitzer. So the board changed the rules, making recorded music eligible and increasing the number of noncomposers on the five-person jury from one to three. The result? Mr. Coleman won this year's prize, and the jury also gave a special award to John Coltrane. (Thelonious Monk received a similar honor in 2006.)

I believe devoutly in the beauty and significance of jazz, and I love Mr. Coleman's bold, innovative music. But by giving the Pulitzer Prize to a good-but-not-great album that doesn't even pretend to meet its eligibility requirements, the board has debased the value of the music prize still further. As for the special award, why single out Coltrane now, great as he was? Why not Charlie Parker--or Louis Armstrong, for that matter? It's hard not to wonder whether the board is trying to atone for past blunders by playing an arbitrary game of catch-up.
I don't know what criteria they use to award a Pulitzer, and I don't care. I do know that when Detroit has its annual Jazz festival every Labor Day Weekend, Hart Plaza is packed for the entire long weekend. Of course all the music is free. The problem is that there are multiple stages and lots of crowd noise, so the music is hard to hear. A few years ago, my wife and I went down to hear Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin in a quartet setting. The piano volume was turned up so high the sound was distorted. Being on one of the smaller stages though, they had no choice if they were going to be heard. People will attend in droves if it's free. Ask them to pay to hear the musical gifts of masters who have spent lifetimes honing these gifts, and they can't be moved from in front of their TV sets.

I'm going to stop now or I'm going to start ranting in a most unpleasant manner. Besides this has gone from being about Ornette Coleman to a commercial for Jazz.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Who Needs to Learn a Lesson?

The lesson is as old as the ruins of Rome and as current as global politics today: When people confuse their faith in God with their desire for power, the the result is dangerous to both spirit and state.
So writes David Crumm, the religion columnist for the Detroit Free Press.
That message is echoing in bookstores now in "God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now" (Harper San Francisco; $22.95), a new book by popular Bible scholar John Dominic Crossan.
This might be a good book, I don't know.
The message also echoes from a 77-year-old article written by a famous Detroit pastor, the Rev. Reinhold Niebuhr. The Atlantic magazine revived the essay online recently.

"It's a timeless question about civilization, and we need to be asking it again today," Crossan said in a telephone interview from his home in Florida last week. "We see so many instances of faith being used to justify violence and war in our world. In our own country, people claim that God is blessing our empire.

"But it comes down to this question: Is religion just another mode of power in our world? Or is religion much bigger than any one empire?"
Although I've never read him, I've heard that Reinhold Niebuhr was an important Chirstian thinker. My problem with all of this is that, in this entire article the one religion that is currently battling the rest of the world tooth and nail is ignored. Once again, violence commited in the name of Allah by members of "The Religion of Peace" is ignored so that the alleged sins of Christianity in the United States can be exposed. I'm sure Mr. Crumm is supposed to treat all religions equally and not cast judgement on the excesses of Islam without also exposing the excesses of Judiasm and Christianity. The problem is that the excesses of Islam today go so far beyond anything followers of any other relgion are engaged in, he ends up excusing or ignoring the hate espoused by the imams.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, May 11, 2007

Jihad Damages the Environment

By way of Smoothstone, here is a post by Illustrated P.I.G. to Islam (warning! graphic photos of dead mutilated animals) on Islamists in India who poach endangered animals to raise money for jihad.
Poaching for Bin Laden In the jungles of India,
local animal trappers have a new breed of client: Islamic militants using the trade in rare wildlife to raise funds for their cause. Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark report from Assam Saturday May 5, 2007

[ . . .]

In recent times, however, the wildlife has attracted a new kind of visitor. According to India's security services, police, intelligence analysts, local traders and forestry officials, Islamic militants affiliated to al-Qaida are sponsoring poaching in the reserve for profit. These groups have established bases in the formerly moderate enclave of Bangladesh and have agents operating all along the country's porous 2,500-mile border with India. They have gone into business with local animal trappers and organised crime syndicates around Kaziranga - as well as in parks and reserves in Nepal, Burma and Thailand - in a quest for horns, ivory, pelts and other animal products with which to raise "under the wire" funds that they can move around the world invisibly.

A small rhino horn, the size of a bag of sugar, with good provenance (the beast's tail and ears, presented to a prospective buyer) and in the right marketplace (in Asia, Europe or North America), can fetch £20,000. Big cat pelts can go for up to £10,000. Monkey brains, bear bile, musk, big cat carcasses, elephant feet, tails, horns and teeth have considerable value. A shipment worth £2.8m was recently intercepted by UK customs. Profits from the trade run from $15bn to an incredible $25bn a year, according to estimates from the WWF (formerly the World Wide Fund for Nature). The punishment for trading in these items is generally a fine as low as £300 in India and £900 in Nepal.
A senior Indian security source, based in the north-east, who has tracked the incursion into the trade by Bangladeshi militants, warns that the poaching has global consequences. "There is an environmental disaster in the offing here, but as pressing are the security ramifications," he says. "Only a minuscule percentage of the vast profits need to trickle back into a nascent Islamic insurgency in a country like Bangladesh to bring it to the boil. And then it can reach out around the world."
It's a fairly lengthy article, but one that should be read by all "Greens". If you are truly concerned about the envirnment, help battle against the jihad, if only to save the lives of innocent rhinos and elephants.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Political Correctness Triumphs in Detroit

The Detroit Free Press reports that,
An ordinance that bans profiling was approved Wednesday by the Detroit City Council. It prohibits police and city employees from asking about the immigration status of residents.

The council voted unanimously for the law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, dress, physical appearance and immigration status. Under the new law, police cannot ask people for their immigration papers unless it was related to a crime.
It goes on to to discuss the fears of immigrants; that they will be hassled and inconvenienced by "The Man". And the usual pressure groups played their part.
The ordinance was introduced after talks with Latino, Arab and Muslim groups. The Detroit-based group Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength played a lead role in pushing for the law.
Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said he is pleased with the council's vote. "The city of Detroit should be seen as a place that is not hostile to immigrants."
Of course, CAIR is pleased with anything that will make it easier for jihadis to come here illegally and live in the belly of the infidel beast.

The article itself was run on the back page of the Local section, down near the bottom, under the half page weather forcast. This makes me wonder if it was hidden there because the people of Detroit were probably not consulted in this unanimous decision.

Labels: , , , ,

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>
War's legitimate object is more perfect peace. Flavius Vegitius Renatus This is an optional footer. If you want text here, place it inside these tags, and remove this comment.