April 17, 2007

ANGUISH

Do you know what one man has taken away from this earth? "One of the top five biomechanics researchers in the country, working on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy", and another professor whose "research has enabled better aircraft, superior composite materials, and more robust aerospace structures." Not to mention the countless contributions to society these Virginia Tech students could've made after they graduated. I can't even find the words to explain how utterly disgusted and sad I feel.

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FIND OUT WHAT IT MEANS TO ME

When I was a substitute teacher, there was some sort of verbal exchange going on in the back of the 7th grade classroom. I intervened and must've said something about respecting the students around you -- I don't remember my exact wording, but I'll never forget the reply I got -- and the girl said, "My mom says I don't have to respect anyone who doesn't respect me first." Sheesh. I think about that girl often, especially when I saw one teenage girl who lives in my neighborhood walking down the street wearing a shirt that said "Respect Me!", as if respect is something you can demand without any give-and-take.

This notion of automatic respect is detrimental. You can't preemptively demand respect when you've done nothing to earn it. A person earns respect through his actions and words, not just by saying he wants it. I'm afraid as a society we're starting to get the concept of respect backwards, especially in these days of multiculturalism where everyone is supposed to be respected and revered no matter what.

I thought of that seventh grader today when I read about this poll out of the UK:

There have been calls for a wider debate on whether it is appropriate for the full veil to be worn in public at all. But a Gallup Poll to be published this week found most Muslims firm in the belief that Islamic women should be free to wear it.

While 55 per cent of all those polled thought that removing the veil was vital for integration, only 13 per cent of Muslims agreed.

Instead, they thought that the Government needed to change its economic and political policies toward Islamic countries and show greater respect to Islam.

That last line was the kicker for me. They don't have to do anything to earn the respect, they just should automatically get it. Most British Muslims are just regular upstanding people, but there's still a scary contingent out there that thinks the London bombing was justified and that "Western society is decadent and immoral and Muslims should seek to bring it to an end." Explain to me why people like that deserve respect when they certainly don't give it.

I'm kinda tired of this whole "you must respect me" nonsense, especially from a religion that has major global problems. I think Islam needs to start earning respect.

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WHAT PEOPLE EARN

I just got around to flipping through the weekend's Parade Magazine, and it was pretty depressing. It was the annual edition of "What People Earn," complete with articles about how only rich people make any money. Sigh.

By most economic measures, 2006 was a great year. Despite rising interest rates, high oil prices and the sharpest housing downturn in 15 years, inflation was low, productivity rose steadily, corporate profits reached a 40-year high, the stock market soared and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6%—the lowest level in more than five years. Strong hiring in service businesses like education, health care, finance, travel and entertainment more than offset big job losses in the auto and housing sectors.

But in the midst of this booming economy, more than two-thirds of Americans told pollsters that they don’t believe life for their children’s generation will be better than it has been for them. Only 27% of those surveyed last year thought the nation was headed in the right direction; and this year, 71% of respondents said the country was on the wrong track.

Why are the American people so stupid? Have we really become a country where we don't think we're making progress? That is just sad.

“I’m sorry to say I feel the rich are getting richer, and the rest of us are fighting to survive,” says DeAnna Forman, who made $25,000 as a bartender in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. “I feel like I’m always trying to catch up.” Kirk Kuchera, who earned $8,300 as a behavioral counselor for youth in Austin, Minn., agrees. “It appears to me that the lower middle class continues to work its way down the economic ladder, while those at the top of the corporate ladder move higher and higher at an unbelievable pace,” he says.

It appears to me that you need to take an economics class, or at least read a Thomas Sowell book. I know, when we type up the section not-so-cleverly entitled "The Rich Get Richer," let's not actually quote any rich people! Let's just quote bartenders and other player-haters who have a chip on their shoulder! Great idea, roll presses. How about actually asking one of these elusive Rich People™ how much money he had to spend in order to become rich, or how high his blood pressure is, or how many times his cell phone rings when he's on vacation. Then ask the bartender the same questions.

Experts are concerned about wage inequality too. “We’re in an economy that provides outsized, almost lottery-style gains to certain people in certain professions,” says John Challenger, president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement firm.

"Lottery-style gains." Nice wording. Nevermind how many years you go to college or how hard you work or how creative or inventive you are...you've simply won the lottery if you strike it rich. It's just, like, so unfair, man, that the florist and the yoga instructor can't make as much as the CEO of Halliburton. (Yes, that's right, they put the CEO of Halliburton's salary right next to the Air Force staff sergeant's, coincidentally right above the salary for someone who works in product placement.) I should totally be able to be a high school counselor and have weekends and holidays off and also get lottery-style gains! Stupid rich people.

In summary: The future of this country is going to hell in a handbasket, except for all these Clampetts who somehow managed to become CEOs. And life's not fair.

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April 12, 2007

SLAG OFF

Lileks writes about Hewitt's new book on Mitt Romney:

The point is made with greater clarity in Hugh’s book, which cautions against putting Belief into the mainstream pundit’s meat-grinder. Because once Faith is a fair target, every aspect of faith will be put under the microscope. If you can dismiss a candidate for his belief in the golden tablets, then transubstantiation is next on the list. You want to snigger about Mormon undergarments? Fine; the next time a Sikh runs for public office, quiz him about the same issue. You want to probe a Mormon for the ways in which their Jesus narrative varies, you’d best do the same to a Muslim candidate. And if you can’t see yourself standing up in a press conference asking a Muslim candidate whether Christians will have a problem with him because he doesn’t think Christ died on the cross, you’d best throttle back your zeal for digging into a Mormon.

Amen to that. I can understand how a person can believe one religion and reject others, how he might think someone else is wrong or misguided or ignorant, but I cannot stand it when someone thinks another's religion is weirder than his.

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April 11, 2007

CAN OF KIDNEY BEANS

I found a great comment over at Blackfive by a guy named Geo(AeroEng). It was in response to a post wherein a lefty blog criticizes her fellow lefty bloggers for not sharing the love with linkage. She says that it's a shame that

people whose worldview is so narrow, intolerant, exclusive, and hateful are so much better at supporting their ideological soulmates than we on the left, whose values run to diversity, inclusiveness, a place at the table for everyone, human needs before defense contractors’ wish lists.

I know, I know. Muffle your guffaws. Geo(AeroEng) responds with:

Perhaps its because we on the "right" are willing to put aside differences for a common goal. Here on B5, I've seen posts and comments from the "religious right" to "libertarian" to "classical liberal" and many other unique (and stereotyped) view point. On many issues, we actually DON'T agree. I remember firestorms about topics from gays in the military to legalizing drugs. Regular poster debated regular poster. In the end, we agreed to disagree and behave civily. In the end, we know that we have some common ground and are willing to focus on that. We, unlike many on the left, are more than tolerant of other's beliefs differing from our own. Something to say about us placing a high value on freedom.

One pair of posts struck me as representative of why we, as a community, work. In the post concerning Cpl. Emery, Orion and Carrie had this exchange:

Orion: I may be pagan, but I'll pray for him and the Sarn't Major as well.
Carrie: Orion,
I don't care if you worship a can of kidney beans..
all the positive energy that we can muster is needed right now.
All of it.
Just do what you do.....it is all good.

On a place like the Daily Kos, I'm sure this would have devolved into a blow by blow against a certain religion (most likely the roles reversed or militant atheism vs. christianity/paganism). On the left, one must buy into the party line completely. Various groups fight for supremancy of THEIR goals and only theirs.

Here, it was cherished. WE don't give a hoot about every issue at once, only the important ones.

We know when to argue, we know when to unite, like any good, if slightly disfunctional family. Family looks after family.
Maybe the left just doesn't get it. In a way I pity them.

Amen to that. I think my blogroll is fairly diverse. I don't agree with everything my favorite bloggers say. And I thought I agreed with everything CaliValleyGirl says, until she disagreed with me about the 15 British sailors! I enjoy listening to Neal Boortz and Rush Limbaugh on the radio because I agree with them about as often as I disagree with them, and they disagree with each other often too. "The Right" is a very broad tent, but we band together with our common ground and face the problems at hand. I even was excited to find the blog But I Am A Liberal! yesterday, because the common ground is there for us too. I can disagree about the details, but I can't disagree about the basic underlying values.

I can't speak for the Left because I've never been a part of the Left, but I have a hard time seeing that it's the Giant Table With A Place Setting For Everyone that this blogger says it is. And what will they do in 2008 when their common ground -- that Bush is the root of all evil -- is gone?

I love being a part of the big tent that is the Right. And I continue to identify with and vote for people I disagree with on a lot of things, because at least our core set of values are aligned.

But I really need to put a stop to disagreeing with CaliValleyGirl.

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April 08, 2007

A SAD DISPLAY

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
-- John Stuart Mill

After Nick Berg, after Ken Bigley, my husband and I have discussed on numerous occasions what we would do in the unlikely event that he was ever taken hostage. I've said before that we gather strength from brave men like Fabrizio Quattrocchi. And I nod in agreement with this retired Army colonel who expresses disgust and dismay with the way the 15 British sailors chose self-preservation above any other values.

What ever happened to name, rank, and social security number?

I know this war is different than one fought in the past. Steve McQueen kept bouncing his baseball with little fear of having his head sawed off with a dull knife. You never know today if you'll be brutally murdered on a propaganda video or allowed to convert and be released. But it's not worth it to me to sacrifice my honor on the off chance I'd get to go home. I've been brought to tears by Vietnam POWs in AFN commercials enough times to know that your honor is all you have in these situations. These Brits sacrificed their honor and their country just so they could live. That captain said that they couldn't fight back against the Iranians who were taking them because then they would've surely died. Isn't this a war? Haven't you prepared yourself for the possibility that you might have to give your life in it? If not, you have no business wearing that uniform. Keep your damn leisure suit; if I were the British military, I'd yank those soldiers' uniforms so fast it'd make their heads spin. But no, the Brits are letting these sailors make book deals.

What is wrong with us these days?

Is there nothing we'll stand for? Nothing worth dying for? Nothing even worth sacrificing a small amount of discomfort for? Couldn't these sailors have at least pretended that they felt bad about their total acquiescence instead of laughing about f-ing Mr. Bean with their captors? They looked like they didn't have a care in the world, as long as they saved their own asses. Woo hoo, we're going home, and all we had to do was capitulate and sell out our country to do so. What a deal!

If this is the stuff we're made of today, we're doomed.

MORE:

See also Cold Fury's The Seinfeld Sovereign

Also, cooler heads prevail hos Victor Davis Hanson, who begins with "It’s probably a good rule to do the opposite of anything the Iranian theocracy wants. Apparently, this government is now doing its darnedest to be bombed. So, for the time being, we should not grant them this wish." Sithmonkey comes up with a great alternative to bombing Iran, which you should read here.

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April 05, 2007

MORON

A writer from the Reform Party of Syria says Pelosi just turned the clock backwards for women:

As a Muslim, I fully understand respect of our religion by visiting US officials and I applaud that respect. Had Speaker Pelosi worn the Hijab inside a Mosque, this would have indicated respect but for Pelosi to wear it on the streets of Damascus all the while she is sitting with the self-imposed Baschar al-Assad who has come to symbolize oppression and one of the reasons why women are forced to wear the Hijab as they turn to religion to express their freedom is a statement of submittal not only to oppression but also to lack of women's rights in the Middle East. Pelosi just reversed the work of the Syrian civil society and those who aspire for women's freedom in the Muslim countries many years back with her visual statement. Her lack of experience of the Middle East is showing.

Assad could not have been happier because Syrian women, seeing a US official confirming what their husbands, the Imams in the Mosques tell them, and the society at large imposes on them through peer pressure will see in her wearing a Hijab as a confirmation of the societal pressures they are constantly under. No one will ever know how many women took the Hijab on after seeing Pelosi wearing it. The damage Speaker Pelosi is causing with her visit to Syria will be felt for many years to come.

That's what happens when you walk around with two ounces of knowledge and ten pounds of multicultural baggage. I'm sure Pelosi thought she was being respectful, but she merely confirmed the idea that all women -- even women who are third in line to the Leader of the Free World -- should be covered and submissive. Shame on her.

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