Friday, April 28, 2006

America, Europe and Sudan

Every time I hear America and Europe in the same sentence it is usually in the context of something America does that is "bad" and enlightened Europe does that is the opposite, and thus "good". Recent events in the Sudan have not been making headlines regularly but they will now that the UN is going to cut food aid in half to this country in the throws of civil war between Arabs and non-Arabs. The Sudanese government is backing Arab militias who are bent on cleansing the country of non-Arabs and are doing this though a campaign of rape, murder and total annihilation of villages.

One must wonder why the UN is cutting food aid. Well, there have not enough donations by countries in the Western world, with the US being the exception. Only one European country has contributed; it is Italy with a scant 1.2 million dollar donation. The US has donated 188 million to feed both Muslims and non-Muslims through the UN food program. The US President has agreed to send military peacekeeping forces, but under the condition that it is a multinational effort with the Europeans participating equally. So far Europe is doing what it does best, sitting on its hands.

I see in the news that George Clooney is in the Sudan now to draw attention to the matter. I am not a fan of Clooney, but if he manages to accomplish his task and refrain from attempts to blame the US for the plight of the non-Arab Sudanese, I will gain a little respect for him. Clooney has been rabidly anti-American in his comments concerning America's foreign policies. He, like many other left-wing radicals, always fail to specify exactly what policies are so evil. I am assuming that they are not referring to policies such as the ones we are seeing now towards Sudan, where America steps up to lead the fight against hunger, oppression and genocide.

Last year America's government and private humanitarian aid to the world was more than the rest of the world's combined aid. While America has done some harm in the world, it continues to be a beacon of hope and often the only one willing to help in times of crisis. So, while the French and the rest of Western Europe are patting themselves on the back for being peace-loving humanitarians, America is putting its money where its mouth is not and actually attempting to to help the victims in Sudan.

America has its faults, but at the end of the day we are doing more good in the world than any other country. Is that why everybody hates us?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Quote of the Week

"All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."

Edmund Burke

Thursday, April 20, 2006

It's the Economy

It's the economy that the media does not want to talk about. That is why poll numbers indicate that a majority of Americans consider the economy to be fair to poor when, in fact, economic indicators look really good. The stock market is at a 6 year high, interest rates remain at record lows, despite the much hyped increases over the past couple of years. Unemployment is lower than the average for the past 30 years. More Americans and a higher percentage of the population now own their own homes than ever before. So why do most Americans think the economy is not good?

That's right, the media likes to play on the fears of the people. They like to paint a picture that makes people think things are bad because they have political agendas. Anything is fair game for the spinmeisters, including portraying a good economy as bad. What has been the focus of media reports on the economy? It has been high gas prices, rising interest rates, outsourcing and lay-offs at GM.

Gas prices are high and I don't like it, but the fact that the economy is booming in spite of the high cost of gas is another indicator of its strength. Besides, the percentage of income that Americans spend on gas is virtually unchanged because incomes have increased as well. This is just one more sign of a strong economy.

Interest rates have gone up periodically to control inflation, but remain incredibly low. Interest rates are lower now than in the much heralded economic "boom" of the nineties, when apparently everybody was being fanned with palms and spent their days eating grapes. Everybody but me, I guess, my industry was hit by a wave of layoffs and benefits cuts in 1999.

Outsourcing has been another big item in the news. This is always a good political tool, nobody likes jobs and money going overseas. Nobody likes the economic security issues of having a labor force in a far corner of the world. Here is the reality; outsourcing has been happening for decades. The first round came from when Americans became more focused on the service industry and less on manufacturing. Now some service industry jobs are going overseas. This is portrayed as lost jobs by the media. The reality is that, yes, some people lose their jobs but they are typically finding new work quickly, as represented by the low unemployment figures.

Layoffs at GM topped the news recently. This is certainly a big deal to those GM employees but not really a barometer of the economy. Regardless of the economic conditions at any point in time, there will always be businesses that are in trouble and layoffs will occur. Focusing on one business or even one industry that is in trouble is like labeling one case of measles an epidemic. Good for propaganda to scare you into thinking the economy is in the toilet, but irrelevant in the bigger picture.

Here is the real kicker. I have already mentioned that the economy's ability to withstand high gas prices reflects its good health. We must also consider that we are involved in a very costly war and that we had a major port city wiped out by a storm only 8 months ago. Any of these could be harmful to a weak economy, yet the economy has weathered the storm, no pun intended.

While there are some who have fallen on hard times, and things are not perfect, economically things are very good in the USA.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Higher Learning

As I was walking the hallowed halls of academia I kept noticing two flyers advertising two classes being offered by the university for the summer. One is called "Women, Culture and the State" and one is called "Women, Liberty and the Black Experience" both sound like typical classes in so-called "social justice" or "social awareness." Ordinarily I would have not paid them a second thought. After spending a semester teaching students of whom the majority could barely find five of the twenty most well-know countries on a map, I became curious.

I have had classes where a full one-third of the class could not write an adequate essay. I have seen 38 students come into a lecture late with drinks in hand. I have been approached with numerous complaints ranging from some disability that supposedly prevents them from performing adequately, to my grading practices, to some litany about all the trials and tribulations they have endured that have prevented them from performing adequately and entitle them to a break or a reduced standard. Many students cannot spell simple words, write complete sentences or use the same verb tense consistently in a paragraph. In short, there are some major deficits in their basic academic and life skills. Before I go any further, I must state that I do encounter some jewels of students. They are hard working, disciplined, intelligent and well-prepared for college but they are the exception not the rule.

So when I saw these two offerings for the summer, I had to ask myself what else is being offered here and why are we so concerned about creating social awareness and activism when many students lack basic academic skills? My curiosity got the best of me, so I decided to visit the undergraduate catalogue website to see what other odd classes are offered here. I was specifically looking for classes that focused on social activism but I found some other oddities as well. Here is what I found:

American Studies

AMS 100 Special Topics. One to three hours.
Selected American topics for lower-division undergraduate students offered by American studies faculty members or supervised teaching assistants. Some examples include Bluegrass Music in America, Contemporary American Youth, The Hollywood Western, Wealth in America, Love American Style, Psychedelic America, Oliver Stone's America, The Boys of Summer, First Freedoms, Murder She Solved, Race, Class, and Gender in Science Fiction, Gay/Lesbian Images in Popular Culture, The World of Robert Heinlein, Homicide: Life on TV, The Many Lives of Frederick Douglass, Murder in Miami, American Youth Culture, Civil War in Fiction, The Dukes of Hazzard, Mythology of Star Wars, Ellison's Invisible Man, Rock and Global Culture, and Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full, Black Masculinity, Jackie Robinson's Legacy, Myths of Isadora Duncan, Rock Critic Lester Bangs, American Music in the World, Hip Hop: Droppin' Science, Dottie Rambo and Gospel Music, The Harlem Renaissance, Country Music Culture, Satire and Critical Laughter, Introduction to the Blues, Jim Henson's America, Modern Gay America, Horror Before Stephen King, The Hollywood Red Scare, Kerouac's On the Road, Homer Simpson's America, and The American Biker.

AMS 300 Special Topics. Three hours.
Selected American topics for advanced undergraduate students, offered by Department of American Studies faculty members or Americanists from related departments. Examples: Jewish-American Literature, Mobility in America, The American Folk Revival, Jazz and Jazz Life, Lesbian and Gay Cultures, The American West, Divorce and Stepfamilies, American Hobo Subculture, Southern Iconoclasts, Interracial Intimacies, World War II and Modern Memory, African-American Folk Art, P. T. Barnum's Century, 20th-Century American West, Women's Liberation Movement, Justice and Civil Society, and Southern Sexual Cultures.

AMS 304 Bob Marley: Alabama in Jamaica. Three hours.
A travel-study course that investigates the life of Bob Marley, with an emphasis on the arts of resistance to cultural and material domination as practiced and developed by the poorest people in the Black Atlantic. Immersion in Jamaican history and culture is essential methodology of the class.

New College

NEW 215 Humanities I: Perspectives in the Humanities on Environmental Studies. Four hours.
Considers five disciplinary perspectives on environmental studies within the humanities: literature and the environment; ecophilosophy; ecotheology; ecopsychology; and ecofeminisim. Considers how each perspective presents the relationship between humans and nature and suggests ways to heal environmental destruction.

NEW 218 Humanities I: Environmental Literature. Four hours.
Overview of environmental literature. Focus will be on the contribution of a humanistic approach to the environmental crisis.

NEW 224 Model United Nations. Three hours.
Introduces students to the role of the United Nations in the world today; to prepare students to host the Alabama Model U.N. conference.

Social Work

SW 351 Oppression and Social Injustice. Three hours.
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.
Examines oppression and social injustices which are pertinent to social functioning and to the profession of social work. Offered in the fall and spring semesters.

Women's Studies

WS 220 Mothers and Daughters (previously WS 120). Three hours.
Investigation of the institution of motherhood, the forces shaping it, and the significance of mother-daughter relationships.

WS 470 Gender, Race, and Class. Three hours.
A cross-cultural approach to the study of gender, race, and class discrimination. Focuses on the mutually reinforcing forces of oppression.

Now this is just a sample of non-traditional courses offered at the university. The trend appears to be classes that focus on special interest groups, social activism and pop culture. Now the university setting is an arena in which the non-traditional is acceptable, to a point. I have never taken any of these special classes nor do I intend to. Based on the amount of left-wing bias in the standard classes offered, that I have experienced as a student, I can only imagine the degree of political indoctrination that occurs in these classes focusing on "social justice" and activism. Given my experience as a teacher, I can tell you that students are firmly grounded in pop culture and don't need to take classes on the Dukes of Hazzard, hip hop or baseball. I can also tell you that a student well-versed in ecofeminism, but not in the basics, is at best useless and at worst dangerous.

The university's job is to educate and it is failing. Universities are more concerned with entertaining students and turning out "socially conscious" students, that are up to date on who society's victims are, but lack a basic education for which their parents and the taxpayers pay. Higher education is in a crisis and I say ditch the classes that promote social awareness, left-wing political agendas and entertainment as education and focus on the basics.

Academia's problems are much deeper than the issue I am discussing here. The courses are a reflection of the current state of academia and not the cause of its problems. Those will be discussed at a later date.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Quote of the Week

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

1952

Over the weekend I was helping a friend sort through lots of old stuff he had recently acquired. While looking through this stuff, I ran across a book with the title 1952. It was basically a yearbook, summarizing the events from around the world during the year 1952. As I was flipping through the pages, I ran across the chapter on France and a photograph of French protesters holding signs saying "American Monsters". The caption stated that these Frenchmen were protesting atrocities committed by U.S. troops fighting in Korea under the U.N. banner.

I continued to look through the book and found many curious details and events that history has forgotten. I turned to the chapter on Japan. I found another photograph with a caption of "Yankee Go Home!" Roughly a hundred-thousand Japanese protesters were rioting against American occupiers.

1952 was seven years after the end of World War Two. That is seven years after thousands Americans sacrificed there lives for the liberation of France, yet the French were, even then, looking for the opportunity to bash America. Ironically, they were bashing the America for the actions they took while liberating another country, South Korea.

Seven years after the war, our enemy, Japan, was fighting an American occupation. It was an occupation focused on rebuilding the Japanese infrastructure and government, so that they would go on to be the peaceful, prosperous, innovative ally that they are today.

When people say history repeats itself they are not wrong. In 1952 the French hated us. In 1952, while trying to rebuild a country in the aftermath of a war, its populous hated us. None-the-less we kept on task and finished the job for the betterment of the world in both cases discussed here. I will think about this every time I here some lament about how the whole world is against us. I will say to myself, "It is not the first time and it won't be the last."

Friday, April 07, 2006

Quote of the Week

"It's not that conservatives don't care. We do. We just have different answers than liberals do. It's a difference of the mind, not of the heart. "

Tom Selleck

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

McKinney Update

Much to my surprise and much to the credit of the Capitol Police I heard over the weekend, like everyone else, that the agency is seeking an arrest warrant for Democrat representative Cynthia McKinney. What is not so surprising is McKinney has pulled the race card.

According to McKinney it is racial profiling that causes her confrontations with the Capitol Police and not her own arrogance. Before her allegations of racial profiling her excuse was that she had a committee meeting to attend at nine and that she did not arrive at the building until three minutes prior to nine and she was in a hurry and did not want to be late. Well Ms. McKinney if you did not want to be late you should have gotten up earlier. And here is another tip for you. If you do not want to be stopped by the Capitol Police for walking around a metal detector WEAR YOUR FREAKIN' PIN! It is reported that McKinney rarely wears the pin that is given to House members so they are easily recognized by Officers as the members walk around the metal detectors.

It is unclear why McKinney does not wear the pin. Perhaps it is ugly and unfashionable. Maybe in some way it is uncomfortable. I guess there could be many reasons why she declines to wear the pin and just maybe one of those reasons is that she was hoping for just such a confrontation to take place. Let's face it Ms. McKinney has not received this much free publicity since she claimed Bush knew about 9/11 prior to it happening. Who knows? In any case there is just one simple question that needs to be asked, the wearing of the pin notwithstanding. What is so difficult about stopping for a U.S. Capitol Police officer and showing your identification?

I still have serious doubts as to whether or not the U.S. Attorney will actually issue an arrest warrant but we soon shall see. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) did introduce a resolution today which is co-sponsered by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), praising the U.S. Capitol Police. The resolution does not mention McKinney, the resolution "would commend the Capitol Police for their professionalism and recognize the challenge of protecting the vast Capitol campus from terrorism and other threats while keeping it open to tourists."

It also seems that McKinney is getting very little support from any of her colleagues. In fact, according to the AP article, her lawyer claimed that several House members would join her at a press conference at Howard University. Apparently nobody received the memo because no other Representatives were in attendance. Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) who is the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, apparently is not buying the racial profiling theory as of yet anyway. When asked about the situation he just simply replied no comment.

Kudos to the U.S. Capitol Police for having the fortitude to effectively support the actions of their officer by seeking an arrest warrant.

Linked at All Things Conservative

Saturday, April 01, 2006

No More Bodycounts?

All of a sudden the number of U.S. fatalities in Iraq do not seem to be important to the mainstream media. U.S. fatalities have consistently decreased since October 2005. March of 2006 came to a close with a total of 30 U.S. fatalities, not all of them combat related. The last time there was a month with 30 or fewer fatalities was February 2004.

The continued reduction of U.S. fatalities is a barometer of progress in Iraq. It is a result of Iraqi forces taking over military and police operations and continued efficient and effective military operations by U.S. forces. In short, it is a measure of slow and hard-earned progress, but progress none-the-less. This is where the media comes in, or not.

It is no secret that the media, controlled by the far Left, fears success in Iraq on a number of levels. First and foremost, success in Iraq means success for a president they so loathe. Therefore acknowledging any measure of success is unthinkable. Secondly, on a more philosophical level they are radical liberals which makes them anti-war, regardless of the circumstances. Their mantra is "War is not the answer." Perhaps you have read this between the lines.

If, over the long haul, the administration's vision of Iraq as a free, flourishing, capitalist democracy comes to be, then it will mean war was the answer. Something else those in the media are not prepared to deal with. Very simply put, when reality does not jive with the way they want things to be. They ignore it. This is why the declining fatality count is being ignored. It does not jive with their view of what should be and, I argue, what they want, which is a loss in Iraq. It is the same with Afghanistan but things have gone so well there all along, they perpetually ignore it, unless of course someone dies.

The only way we can lose in Iraq is if the American citizenry loses the will to win. The only way this can happen is with a constant barrage of distorted, negative reporting on the war designed to sap America of its fortitude. And that my friends is the reason you are not hearing about declining U.S. fatalities in Iraq.

Quote of the Week

"In some ways I'm the luckiest person in the world. I could have ended up at Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale."

Rahmatullah Hashemi

IF YOU ARE A CONSERVATIVE YOU SHOULD BE VERY WORRIED

The Democrats have finally revealed their platforms for first taking back Congress in '06 and then the White House in '08. I know they have been doing this all year but this time there is no double talk, vague talking points, or hollow promises. They have nailed it this time and if they can live up to this plan it is going to be very, very bleak for Republicans for a long time.

This is not good for Conservatives. This is a MUST READ!!

Go here and read it for yourself!