Kidnapped by Japan - How A Mother's Dying Wish Led To A Father's Unimaginable Loss

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Flipping The Pages

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Fred exits stage Right

Yesterday, after much speculation following his disappointing third place finish in the South Carolina primary, Senator Fred Thompson's promise-filled presidential run came to a frustrating end. While on the launch pad Thompson seemed heavily armed for the fight ahead; his column, radio spots and the ease with which he delivered his devastating video swat at the corpulent communist, Michael Moore's impudent debate challenge had much of the Right thinking the Senator was channelling the Gipper himself.

When the campaign actually launched, however much of that feistiness and fun seemed to have deserted Fred, with most stories concentrating on campaign personnel firings, lack of cash and accusations of lethargy on the part of the candidate himself.

Bipolar disorder is difficult for an individual to experience, but for a
presidential campaign it is fatal. The shortcomings of the campaign occurred at the same time as Senator Thompson was issuing some of the boldest yet most practical, detailed and conservative position papers of the whole race. On immigration, Social Security, the military etc., Fred Thompson shined. Rush Limbaugh described him as "an idea guy" which he is. Unfortunately even the greatest ideas need an equally great salesman. And counter-intuitively, despite his second career as an actor, Fred didn't prove to be much of a salesman. The rocket faltered and fell.

Senator Fred Thompson, with more intellect than almost any of his competitors, a wonderful personal story and character that all President's need and far too few actually have, didn't have the patience to put up with all the inane indignities and trivialities through which presidential candidates are put. He thought that running for President required serious talk from serious people.

No one had to ask "where's the beef?" with Fred. But the American people weren't just looking for the beef but also for the special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, and the sesame seed bun. Fred refused to deliver. Fred was all beef. You've got to respect that. There are worse reasons to lose a race than for being too substantive.

You can't handle the truth!

Debuting tonight on Fox is Moment of Truth, TV's latest contribution to a form of entertainment that got its start in the Roman coliseums. The difference between the modern version and the ancient is that those who wound up being trotted out to be destroyed in Rome did so unwillingly while in the modern permutation, the victims volunteer for the slaughter.

A combination of game and reality shows Moment's "fun" is had by watching people who, prior to taping, take a lie detector test in which they are asked all sorts of embarrassing and potentially destructive questions. "So you really think you'll still be married to your spouse in five years?" "Have you ever been sexually inappropriate with a member of the opposite sex at work?" "Have you ever been paid for sex?" That sort of thing. Oh yeah, they stand to win some money...They may lose their wives, potentially their freedom and the respect of their friends but they will have gotten some face-time on TV and maybe enough cash for some appliances. Good deal!

The American mania for exhibitionism has been manifest for a long time. The internet and other media have taken this twisted little corner of the human psyche and given it free reign. Honesty is a virtue but even virtues can turn ugly with excess. American culture which once was able to entertain with some degree of style and delicacy long ago started its slide into the gutter. Today it lies there in the muck and rolls around. Moment of Truth reveals just how coarse and degraded we have let ourselves become. And that's no lie.

And the winner is...

Due to the writers' strike there may be no Academy Awards show this year. The nominees were announced yesterday. I've always loved the movies and as a wee lad I would watch the Oscars religiously. As an adult I realize that Hollywood is now filled with very wealthy people who lately spend much of their time saying very bad things about the US which gave them the opportunity to get so very wealthy in the first place.
So, should the writers decide to leave their lovely homes in their lovely neighborhoods and go back to work to write ostensibly clever lines for their other wealthy friends in what is basically an orgy of self-congratulation, when the words that all the world knows so well are said, "And the winner is..." I WON'T BE WATCHING!

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Day For Hope

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Today we celebrate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, a man whose life was an exemplar to the nation not because he saw that a cancer still existed in the heart of the American dream (only the morally obtuse or morally corrupt could not have seen it) but because he had the courage to fight it, boldly, publicly, unceasingly until his last breath. His courage and sacrifice was his gift to the American experiment as it helped wipe away the vestiges of the lie that America told itself; that it could be the beacon of freedom in the world while separating people on the basis of the color of their skin.

Dr. King was not a perfect man, having human faults and a vision that contained too much of the collectivist impulse but no men are perfect and all great men stumble in many ways. But any faults fade into inconsequentiality in comparison to the great service he performed for his country.

Sadly, all these many years after his passing, many of those who claim to have taken up his mantle have shown themselves to be pale and venal imposters and the movement he started has devolved from a cry for freedom to a sad squabbling for group perks and preferences. It is demoralizing when a movement that once recognized a man like Dr. King as a leader now is broken into fragments and allows figures like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to claim to be his heirs, with far too little dissent.

But the current prevalence of the charlatans shouldn't cause us to despair. Dr. King's legacy isn't to be found with them. It is found in the hearts and realistic hopes of Black men and women who now live lives open with opportunities they would not have had but for him. If the condition of Blacks today has not yet fulfilled the hopes and dreams of Dr. King he knew that the road is long and hard to travel but he also knew that someday it would lead to the Promised Land. It still does.