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

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Friday, March 14, 2008

What Goes Around...

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Former Congresswoman and first-ever female Vice Presidential Candidate Geraldine Ferraro resigned from Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign today after committing the equivalent of a mortal sin in the Democratic Party: she told the truth.

Ferraro caused this furor du jour when she said these immortal words, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." Barack Obama being a smart politician saw the opening and made the most of it saying that Ferraro's comments were " ... ridiculous. ... I think they were wrong-headed. I think they are not borne out by our history or by the facts."..."The notion that it is a great advantage to me, an African-American named Barack Obama, in pursuit of the presidency I think is not a view that has been commonly shared by the general public ... Divisions of race, gender, of region are precisely what has inhibited us from moving effectively forward to solve big problems like health care, energy, the war on terror."

There it was. Ferraro had obviously played the race card, thereby cutting off all further discussion. She lost. Obama won. And the game that liberals have been playing for years to trap conservatives was now being used to collect other liberal scalps instead. They have begun to eat their own. Conservatives, usually the object of this dishonest nonsense can't be blamed for looking on in bemusement.

The Democratic Party and identity politics, the politics of appealing to self-identified aggrieved groups, have been synonymous since the early sixties. Numerous groups, Blacks, Gays, Women, etc. point to a variety of areas in which they have been oppressed and Democratic politicians agree, flatter them, and then attempt to legislate or adjudicate, or regulate the inequities away. This partnership has, in many ways, been highly successful for both the Party and the groups. Democrats have had a ready made campaign weapon and tool and a rationale for expanding government power, "I'm here to fix the unfairness to which you have been subjected. Vote for me against the powerful forces putting you down. I'll give you money and programs." And the groups have received policies, laws, programs etc. that address their "special needs". Affirmative Action and quotas, various monetary set-asides, the edifice of multiculturalism: sensitivity trainings, bilingualism, various speech codes, etc. are all the result of the partnership. The effectiveness of all this largess in improving people's lives frequently seems besides the point.

The incipient problem lurking within the union of the Democratic Party and its constituent groups has always been that in breaking people into such distinct factions, all with their own unique power centers, the day would come when the interests of some would diverge significantly enough from the others or the Party that war would break out. Geraldine Ferraro seems, much to her chagrin no doubt, to have gotten caught in the crossfire.

This election doesn't just pit the first woman with a real chance of getting the nomination against the first African American, it pits the entrenched power structure of the Party, as represented by Hillary Clinton against against a newcomer, Senator Obama. The Party, which has become so certain of Black loyalty that it frequently gives Blacks little more than lip service is now at a crossroads. African-Americans are saying to the party that has promised them so much and to which they have been utterly loyal, "We have toed the line for decades. We now have a great candidate with a great message and a real chance to win. Our time has come." In response the Clinton campaign has done its level best to remind the country that Barack Obama is, you know ... a NEGRO. Bill Clinton, who had once been touted as the first Black President, did his level best before the South Carolina primary to link Obama's campaign to the earlier very ethno-centric Jesse Jackson presidential run. There isn't much talk about him being the first Black President any more.

The problem with identity politics isn't that it precludes obvious, noxious winks to racism like Clinton's but that it removes honest discussion about race, sexuality, gender issues, as well. Everybody becomes scared to death to touch the issue for fear of being called a racist or a sexist or a homophobe. Without identity politics Geraldine Ferraro would have been able to make her comment about Obama. Others could have quite rightly pointed out that while true, her assertion was too narrow. Obama wouldn't be where he is if he weren't Black. But he also wouldn't be there if he were bright, a good campaigner, a good debater etc. But in the current atmosphere, created and fostered by the Democratic Party as well as the "aggrieved" groups, Ferraro's comment was enough to result in her leaving Hillary's campaign.

This Democratic Party war, between its regnant structure and one of its most important constituent groups is unlikely to end anytime before the Democratic convention in August. In fact it is very likely to last well beyond that. Wounds have been opened. Minds are changing. Perhaps the end result of this whole battle will be the end of identity politics. If the Democratic Party finds it no longer works for it, this type of politics may finally die a well deserved death.

Having played this game for a long time it looks like the Democratic Party is finally learning the truth of that old saying: what goes around comes around. It couldn't happen to a more deserving party.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Real World - A Continuing Series

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Ex-Liberian President Was Hungry For Power

Studies have shown that we here in the United States tend to be uninformed about what is actually going on in the rest of the world. Our TVs, newspapers, the Internet, all the major sources from which we get our information are filled with such riveting stories as how the governor of New York State is dallying with some lady of the evening but generally miss other, larger stories that put our own problems in perspective.

Reuter's today reports on the trial of former Liberian President, Charles Taylor. According to the report,

Taylor, once one of Africa's most feared warlords, faces
charges of rape, murder, mutilation and recruitment of child soldiers during a 1991-2002 conflict. He has pleaded not guilty.

"He (Taylor) said we should eat them. Even the U.N. white
people -- he said we could use them as pork to eat," Joseph "ZigZag" Marzah, who described himself as Taylor's former death squad commander, told the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Taylor's troubles arose from his desire to enrich himself by destabilizing neighboring Sierra Leone in order to steal its diamonds. In furtherance of this goal he armed rebel forces in that nation, the resulting violence eventually leaving upwards of 250,000 people dead. The cannibalism angle seems unbelievable until you realize the level of violence in that conflict. As Reuters states,
Thousands of civilians had their limbs hacked off by drug-crazed
rebels, many of them children.

In 2003, after being overthrown Taylor took up residence in Nigeria (which apparently must not exactly set very high standards on who they allow to immigrate). He was only handed over to the International Court in the Hague after international pressure was applied.

Taylor's and Liberia/Sierra Leone's story here should be instructive to us in the US about the differences between the kind of troubles we have and the kind of trouble that exists in much of the rest of the world. Eliot Spitzer is without a doubt a truly loathsome individual who violated both his state's and his family's trust and his story is worth recounting. But American's should have some degree of perspective. It is no accident that the worst kind of "leaders" the US has are the Eliot Spitzer variety. We haven't had a Charles Taylor and as long as we continue to respect our Constitution and our traditions we won't. We are lucky to be Americans.

Too bad for Eliot Spitzer it takes a Charles Taylor to make him look good.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Death Outlawed - Why Didn't We Think Of That?

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The Press Association ran the following story today under the headline, The wages of dying:

The mayor of a French village has threatened to punish locals if
they die, because there is no room in the overcrowded

Gerard Lalanne issued an edict telling the 260 residents of Sarpourenx that "all persons not having a plot in the cemetery and wishing to be
buried in Sarpourenx are forbidden from dying in the parish". It added: "Offenders will be severely punished."

"It may be a laughing matter for some, but not for me," he

Print this post and carry it with you. Whenever you hear some dolt say they only wish the rest of the world thought better of the US, take it out and give it to the putz while reminding him (or her. I'm no sexist!) that much of the rest of the world is a lot like Monsieur Gerard Lalanne.

The Next Big Liberal Cause

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"The government is not providing any assistance and society is apathetic."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Couldn't They Tell?

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After hearing about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's admission yesterday of his involvement with a prostitution ring my first reaction was: Oh, so that's what its going to be. By that I mean I was somewhat surprised about the particulars of the revelation but I can't say that I was surprised that Spitzer, well known as arrogant, heavy-handed, mean, vindictive, egotistical and just plain unpleasant, had managed to shoot himself in the foot.

When I heard that he'd been elected, and in a landslide yet, I thought that it was just a matter of time before he would do something stupid, really stupid. Not that Spitzer himself is stupid. Far from it. Scoring a very impressive 1590 on his SATs Spitzer went on to Princeton U. undergrad before going to Harvard Law where he edited the Harvard Law Review. And his ambition has been the equal of his brains. Eliot Spitzer has never missed an opportunity to make an impression, always going after the high profile, big pr cases; going after pregnancy crisis centers to please New York's pro-abortion Left, payola in the music industry, big shot businessmen. He was a legal Master of the Universe. So taken with his own gifts and position was he that he thought anything he did was acceptable merely by virtue of the fact that he did it. He'd make calls threatening people, inappropriately used the State Police to investigate his chief nemesis, Republican State Minority Leader, Joseph L. Bruno, arrogantly issued an unpopular executive order allowing driver's licenses to be issued to illegal aliens.

He was also widely despised by almost everybody who ever had the bad fortune to have dealt with him, which explains why so few people are willing to come to his defense now. So when news came yesterday that he had finally imploded, it was not exactly the year's biggest shock.

What does surprise me however is the way the American people continue to elect catastrophes waiting to happen like Spitzer. Here's a confession: I'm not a genius; just a fairly regular guy (despite being "Right" so dang often) but I knew this guy was, what's the word I'm looking for? Oh, yeah...a freak. Couldn't the 69% of voters who put Spitzer in office see this, too? Apparently not.

But Americans have a long and impressive history of voting for dysfunctional politicians. The last fifty years alone have produced such giants of history as Louisiana Governor Earl Long, who was committed to a mental hospital while in office; Cincinnati city council member and then Mayor Jerry Springer (yes, that Jerry Springer) who resigned after a revelation of his patronizing (surprise!) a prostitute; Washington DC Mayor and crack addict Marion Barry; President Richard Nixon, whose paranoia and generally warped psyche have been fodder for books for decades and Bill Clinton, a self involved narcissist whose entire Presidency was about one thing and one thing only: him. All that is missing from each of these distinguished gents is a day glow etching of the words HELP ME on their foreheads.

Now it is a truism that bright, talented people who seek office often have gargantuan egos. Ronald Reagan was that rarity among rarities who was both an actor and a politician, both lines of work which attract egomaniacs, who was actually well adjusted.

The public can be forgiven for not spotting some political rotten apples. In the ordinary course of life everybody gets surprised by the behavior of some of the people they thought they knew, so politics, too can be expected to provide the unexpected now and then. But how do you explain an Eliot Spitzer? I wish I could provide an answer here but the subject of the election of stone cold losers doesn't come with any. It just comes with one big question for those who put them in office: What were you thinking?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hillary's Habit - Having A Hard Time With Her Man-Hoes

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Today's revelation that New York Governor and close ally of Hillary Clinton, Elliot Spitzer is under investigation for paying for sex (which will in all probability lead to his resignation and possible indictment) could not have come at a worse time for the Senator from New York/presidential candidate.

After last Tuesday's primary wins and her pounding of Barack Obama for his lack of experience and unpreparedness for the presidency, her campaign which had seemed on the verge of folding up its tent mere weeks ago was just beginning to start to get some traction again. The last thing she needs right now is a reminder of some of her own weaknesses; and a reminder of her cluelessness about the dirty dealings of the men around her is one of her most glaring failings. Hillary has, up until now been able to make two mutually incompatible "facts" work for her. On the one hand she is the wonk, the smartest, most experienced woman in the world. On the other hand she is the trusting, loving woman who stupidly trusted a rat. No normal candidate could make such inconsistency work, but Hillary is, of course no ordinary candidate.

But that inconsistency is not something she wants to remind people of, especially now when she is hitting the wet-behind-the-ears Senator from Illinois on the matter of who is ready to serve and who isn't. While it is probably unfair to expect that Hillary could have had any idea of Spitzer's sexual dalliances, it is the Democrats who have always made an issue not just of wrongdoing but even the appearance of wrongdoing and while not knowing that Spitzer was catting around may be understandable and may not mean Hillary is an idiot, it sure does make it appear that she is one. Is this naive' woman really ready to take that 3 AM crisis call in the White House that she claims she can?

It may be too impolite for Obama to come out directly and say that there is something wrong with Hillary because so many men are able to pull the wool over her eyes but behind the scenes, in off the record talks with the media, it is hard to believe that isn't exactly the message he's sending. At some point the media is likely to take that particular ball and start to run with it.

Hillary - world's smartest woman - except around scummy men who lie. That doesn't exactly make for the world's best campaign slogan. Elliot Spitzer didn't just create a problem for himself today. At a very bad point in time Hillary finds herself contending with yet another man who done her wrong.

Why The UN's Latest Report Is A "Bust"

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The United Nations, that inspiring institution that has among its member, Iran, Syria, Zimbabwe and Sudan has issued a report criticizing the US for its treatment of illegal aliens. Jorge Bustamante, who authored the report expressed his concerns about the, "rising anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States" and took testimony about worker abuse, government raids, family separations and other issues. In his report, he wrote that xenophobia and racism toward migrants had worsened since the Sept. 11 attacks, with a particularly devastating effect on children, Afro-Caribbean migrants, and those perceived to be Muslim or ethnic South Asians and Middle Easterners."

Mr. Bustamante, whose official title is U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants is an interesting choice to write such a report. A Mexican national, he is a professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame and founder of El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, a left of center Mexican institute for the study of border issues. His ideological tilt is unsurprising. In a story in the Mexico City Reforma he recently wrote of the Republican candidates for President that they “lack even the most minimum recognition of the demand for the Mexican migrant labor.” He then advocated that Mexicans who employ “the real power we have as consumers” boycot companies that support Republican candidates.

In May of last year, while conducting research for his report, a reception was held for him by the American Civil Liberties Union, CASA of Maryland, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Rights Working Group, and the US Human Rights Network, left-wing organizations, all. The ACLU has now issued a press release applauding Mr. Bustamante’s report.

He also has close ties to the Mexican government, in 1988 having received the Premio Nacional de Ciencias from the President of Mexico, the highest award granted to scientists by the Mexican government.

The United Nations, living down to the expectations of those who suspect its fairness, competence and its very usefulness in promoting democracy and peace stacked the deck from the start in mandating this report, the results of which were a given before any “research” was conducted. In securing the services of a leftist ideologue with a history of connections to the corrupt Mexican government and a history of advocating against US interests on behalf of illegals, the UN is responsible for yet another sham that is, as always largely sponsored by US tax dollars.

The question remains, as it always does when the actions of the UN are raised; Why does the US government continue to fund an organization whose interests are not the same as our own?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Funny Bit From Saturday Night Live Or A Frightening Look At The Future? You Decide

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SNL, which has had more than its share of bad seasons has, of late, been getting itself some good buzz with its bits on the Clinton/Obama race. Their recent jabs at the media's fawning over Obama led to an appearance by Hillary that has generally acknowledged to have been helpul to her and helped her improve her image just in time for last week's Super Tuesday II wins.

Knowing when they're on to a good thing, they've kept it up with the skit, above. While humourously giving Hillary more credit than she deserves they hit Obama in a way that he won't see as being quite so funny as they latch onto a real and growing concern about him; his shallowness and lack of experience.

Nobody is laughing with Barack here, they're laughing at him...the very last thing a politician wants.