Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fans of the University of Utah: Proving Max Hall Right since 1892

You may not have noticed it, but last weekend, my beloved BYU defeated its archrival Utah in overtime, 26-23. The score itself has become secondary to the endless brouhaha surrounding the post-game comments made by BYU's quarterback, Max Hall.

After the game, when asked about his feelings towards the University of Utah, Max stated ""I don't like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, their fans. I hate everything. It felt really good to send those guys home. I think the whole university and their fans and the organization is classless."

Apparently it is no longer okay to hate your rivals. This blunt statement has resulted in weeks worth of hand-wringing and guilt trawling by the U of U faithful who are shocked SHOCKED to hear such "hate speech" coming out of someone from a school run by the Mormon church. From talk radio, to newspaper op-eds, Utes all across the nation escaped to their parents basements to express the new-found hatred for such hatred.

This reaction by the Utes is nothing short of disingenuous. The only thing the Running Utes actually run from is reality. In 2004, Utah Quarterback Alex Smith, in discussing BYU said "I really hate them. Playing in the game helped me understand. They are the most arrogant people." in 2004, Utah defensive player Morgan Scalley said " I hate those pricks. I hate them with a passion." In 2002, Utah quarterback Brett Elliott said everybody hates BYU because "they're so cocky, it's ridiculous."

Apparently, the University of Utah only discovered its hatred for hate when BYU said it.

Let me say that I do not condone Max Hall's words. Max clearly paints with too broad of a brush and Max Hall himself said as much in his apology the following day. I do not hate the University and its fans, nor do I consider them all classless. I have too many friends and family members who cheer for Utah to possibly feel anything other than respect for the school. It is important to note, however, that Max Hall's comments did not occur in a vacuum and, while his comments do not apply to all fans, they do apply to a disproportionately vocal minority.

When pressed to explain his feelings Max Hall stated "They threw beer on my family and stuff last year and did a whole bunch of nasty things. I don't respect them and they deserved to lose." And what are those other "nasty things?" During last year's game at the University of Utah, some Utah fans managed to smuggle in a blow up doll on which they wrote the name of Max Hall's mother. They then found Max's family and had simulated sex with the doll right in front of them. Couple that with the hundreds of obscene text messages Max's wife got from Ute fans and the beer throwing proclivities of the Ute faithful and it is easy to understand why Max uses the word Utah and hate in the same sentence. Would any of us do otherwise?

University of Utah fans need to understand that these incidents do not represent a tempest in a tea pot. These are not isolated incidents.

I have every reason in the world to cheer for the University of Utah. I was born and raised 30 minutes from the campus. Both of my parents graduated from the University of Utah. My cousin used to be the coach for the University's cheer squad. However, shortly before I was born, my father took my older brothers to a Utah home football game against BYU. There he witnessed BYU fan after BYU fan being harassed by the vocal Ute minority. He watched Utah fans hurl obscenities at them. Cut them off on the streets to and from the stadium. And yes, pour beer on them. My father was so disgusted by the actions of his University that he switched allegiances and ended up sending all five of his kids to BYU.

Apparently, my fathers disappointment with the University of Utah is not exclusively his. This fall, Sports Illustrated conducted a nationwide survey of College Football fans. Fans were asked questions like "What is your biggest conference rival" and "how would you rate the tailgating scene on game day." Answers were them split out by conference. Here are some results that Utah fans should find as interesting as they are embarrassing:

Fans of the nine schools in the Mountain West Conference, when asked which school has the rudest fans, selected first Wyoming (28.2%) and then, drum roll please, the University of Utah (19.7%). When discussing who has the rudest fans, you don't even need to bring up Wyoming, it is a given. It is like when discussing the best movies of all time you don't even bother bringing up Star Wars because everybody knows they are the best. The real battle is for second place and Utah wins the battle of the classless hands down.

When asked "what is your favorite stadium to visit in your teams conference?" BYU came in first with 19.2% of the vote. Utah? 5th place with 10.9%.

When asked which school has the most polite fans for visitors? BYU came in second with 16.5% (behind only Air Force). Utah? They ranked 7 out of nine teams with 2.2% of the vote. When your fan base can only out class urine- tossing hooligans in Laramie, you have got issues.

So, in terms of actual fan perceptions, the University of Utah is considered to have some of the worst fans, while BYU is considered to have some of the best.

So, Ute fans, rather than focusing on the hate-spewing mote in BYU's eye, maybe you ought to pay a little more attention to the beer-tossing beam in your own.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Becoming Jim Bob

I finally understand Jim Bob.

Jim Bob Duggar from the TV show "18 Kids and Counting" could surely be enshrined in the Paternal Pantheon of the Prolifically Potent. As the name of his show suggests, his family has 18 kids and then some. What would drive a man to want 18+ children? The food bill alone would be enough to make Bill Gates start clipping coupons. So why does he do it?

Well, now that the twins are here, I am responsible for a family of almost-reality show sized proportions. And finally I understand why Jim Bob does it. What I haven't figured out is how to explain it.

You may have heard your friends compare being a parent to being a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. For those of you have heard this from your friends let me be perfectly clear: your friends are hillbillies. But those hillbillies you call friends are right. Being a parent is a constant scramble to keep balance and kick butt.

Having newborn twins, however, is nothing like being the afore mentioned mono-pod and his misplaced athletic interests. After all, as unfortunate as his disability may be, he does have the one leg. With newborn twins, you simply have NO useful appendages. Every possible limb is consumed in the relentless labor of keeping those two mouths fed and those two butts wiped. One of my favorite Far Side comics involves a man who, while looking into a mirror, discovers he has grown a mouth on his forehead. In disgust this bewildered man mutters "Great, another mouth to feed." For some reason, every time we have a child, this image goes through my mind.

As a new father of multiples I have found the most daunting aspect to twins is the logistics. Have you ever tried picking up a newborn baby with one arm? It is like trying to pick up a squishy bowling ball without using any of the finger-holes. I find myself setting the kids down and picking them back up again just so I can practice. Have you ever tried carrying two full car seats without hitting the frame of every door you pass through? Have you ever tried cramming three car seats into the back of a mini-van? Lets just say the three older kids are really getting closer now that half of the arms on their car seats have been removed.

Newborn twins also have a domino-effect impact on the other that can cause no shortage of consternation. For example, the other night I had changed their diapers, gotten them into their pajamas, fed them, burped them and gotten them to sleep when the twin boy let out a small cry as I set him down. This small cry caused his sister to grunt. This simple grunt created just enough force to get her to explode in her pants. This meant I had to change her diaper again and in the process of changing her diaper, she cried enough to wake up her sleeping brother. Thus with one small cry and I went from having two sleeping children to two wide-awake cry babies—half of them poopy. It is like the butterfly effect, only I always end up elbow deep in crap.

The twins also enjoy going for the hat trick as much as possible, where during one diaper change they manage to poop on me, pee on me and spit up on my one decent tie. They are like the Wayne Gretski's of bodily fluids.

And if you think I have it bad, you should see my wife. Not only is she still recovering from major surgery—not to mention spending nine months carrying around enough children in her belly to be considered a litter—but she is also the one responsible for feeding this thirsty brood. And being the true pioneer stock that she is, she is insistent on nursing them. This has turned her into the very personification of Las Vegas: a 24/7 topless buffet.

And yet I could not be more happy. You see, what me and the other Jim Bob's of the world have found is that happiness is not purchased, it is born and raised. The true measure of a man is not found in the soft leather seats of a sleek sports car; it is found in the torn up seats of a mini-van filled to the brink with your own children. There is no trophy you can hold that can match the joy of holding your newborn children. There is simply no law, no foundation, no organization, no governmental body that can have as profound an impact on society as one well-raised child. And I've got five of them.



I have included a great video produced by the Mormon Church about one amazing father. It does a good job of driving home my point (assuming my ramblings even have a point). I encourage you to check it out and promise you that watching it will not result in your conversion to the church. You will not come away renouncing coffee and wearing a "Joseph Smith is My Homeboy" T-shirt.(Unless you want to, in which case I know some missionaries who can totally hook you up.) It is just an inspiring message that will make men want be better and women want to marry garbage collectors. Seriously.



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Adventures in See World

Neitzsche once said that when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. I hope this is not true of gazing long into the under-dressed churning masses at Sea World. I know what I saw in the churning masses (i.e. 99% of women who wear bikini's shouldn't) and I would hate to think of what the churning masses saw in me (i.e. I shouldn't be wearing a bikini either). Here are some more of my observations, by the numbers, from yesterdays foray into Sea World with the kids.

1,000,000-grains of sand that managed to work their way into my toddlers diaper after one minute of playing in the sand box.

10,000- people with tattoos. Sometimes I feel like I must be the only person left on earth who has not seen fit to bedazzle his body with Chinese doodles.

300-weight, in pounds, of the girl whose bright red shirt read: "If you were me, you would be awesome." Clearly the literal nature of this shirt had not occurred to her.

60-soaked people sent scrambling up the stairs at the Shamu show with crying infants in their arms who discovered first hand that Shamu swims in water with a temperature hovering around true zero. This is, of course, my favorite part of the Shamu show. Before the show begins, they provide ample warning that those sitting in the first 16 rows will be soaked. Yet sure enough, after the first big splash, you can see waves of humanity scrambling up the stairs with expensive cameras and crying infants shocked- shocked!- to find themselves suddenly turned into a salt water slushy. Shamu is a Killer Whale people! Expect no mercy.

22-size in inches, that one's waste must be in order to use the middle seat of the monkey ride. All the other large seats were taken and my toddler really wanted to go, so alas, I crammed my generously endowed hind-quarters into that seat and rode on till my legs were numb.

20-seconds needed by that guy sitting on the curb to change the diaper of the infant precariously laid across his lap. As a father, you come to admire such displays of parental prowess. To you Mister Curb-Sitting-Lap-Using-Twenty-Second-Diaper-Changer I tip my figurative cap. You are now in league with the Across-the-Room-Baby-Poop-Identifier and the One-Handed-Child-Puke-Catcher.

12-times, while watching the large whales interact with their uber-skinny trainers, that I thought we had accidentally walked into the Rosie O'Donnell- Clay Aiken show. The only difference, really, is that Shamu is rewarded with fish instead of Twinkies.

3-wet wipes needed to clean up the kids before they could eat their Cheetos.

3-wet wipes needed to clean up the kids after they ate their Cheetos.

Zero-Penguins caught displaying their, ahem, procreative proclivities. The great fear of any young parent when taking his children to a place with animals on display, is that intended lesson on the animals in nature will turn into a lesson on the nature in the animals. I remember visiting the zoo with my wife, long before having children, and coming across two tortoises amorously engaged for all the world to see. Just then, a mother called to her young children and said "hay kids, come look at the turtl…….oh!" By then it was too late. Now mommy had some serious 'splainin to do. Who could ever expect such behavior from the tortoise? Monkies, sure. But the tortoise? Luckily, yesterdays penguins where cute, cuddly and purely platonic.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Now is the Summer of Our Discontent

For President Obama, calling this summer a disappointment is tantamount to calling Transformers 2 demure and introspective. For the current administration, this summer has been a bombastic, glittery display of ineptitude and failure. No amount of CGI could put a positive spin on Obama's poll numbers where he is losing ground among all possible constituents- Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

Since World War II only two other President's (Ford and Clinton) saw their approval ratings go below 50% faster. In fact, it took George H.W. Bush three years for his approval ratings to get anywhere near where Obama is at a mere 8 months into his first term. Regardless of the statistics, this much is clear: America is rejecting Obama faster than a black-market kidney and here is why.

School Speech or Rallying Cry?

Let me state up front that I have no problem with President Obama asking for an opportunity to speak to America's youth in their schools. In fact, I welcome it. As President, he should be reaching out to the next generation and encouraging them to do better. I applaud him for the speech and I certainly hope it is taken to heart by those who heard it.

What I do have a problem with are the suggested lesson plans forwarded on to schools from the Obama administration prior to the speech that included such loaded questions as "How can I help President Obama?" or "How will he inspire us?" These questions turned a speech about staying in school into a rallying cry for the Obama Youth. Maybe for the next speech, they can just forgo the lesson plans all together and send each child their own Obama Youth arm bands. In classic Obama form, he managed to clutch failure right out of the jaws of success.

Background Check Czar

All those Czar's and President Barack Obama doesn't have a single person in the White House capable of running a background check? You would think with all his technological savvy, President Obama would at least Google the names of his staff before declaring them special advisors. Alas, this lesson is too little, to late to save the former Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones.

In Van Jones, Obama thought he was getting an experienced environmental advocate, but what he ended up with was an admitted socialist and supporter of cop killers like Mumia Abu Jamal. That much, however, Obama could live with. It turns out Jones's cardinal sin was not his support of an economic system that has led to the impoverishment of billions of people, but rather his support for a petition that called 9-11 an inside job. I guess President Obama is okay with communists in his cabinet, but he draws the line at having anybody near him who would blame the government for anything.

The Grassroots are Never Greener on the Other Side

Conservative activism used to be an oxymoron. Holding up signs, disrupting meetings and shouting down the opposition used to be the exclusive domain of leftist protestors. Then Barack Obama mentioned the words "Public Option" and suddenly every townhall meeting in America turned into ground zero for conservative anger and angst. Now it is conservatives making the signs, shouting the chants and getting their faces on the evening news.

Nancy Pelosi and much of the other Democrats on Capital Hill wrote the protests off as "Astroturf" movements organized by special interests. Suddenly, it turns out, dissent wasn't patriotic. Looks like San Fran Gran Nan is going to have to scrape that bumper sticker off her car.

If Nancy would just look closer (assuming all those botox injections still allow her to squint her eyes) she might see that the opposite is true. It is the pro-Obamacare crowd that is being organized and cajoled into action by special interests. For Nancy Pelosi, the grass isn't greener on her side. The grass isn't real at all. All you have to do is look at the signs.

For example, one photojournalist in Denver (http://www.lookingattheleft.com/2009/08/pelosi-astroturf-healthcare/) took pictures of all the pro and anti-Obamacare protestors who showed up for Pelosi's visit to a local clinic. If you look at the pictures of the conservative, anti-Obamacare activists you will notice they all have one thing in common: they are all home made. If you look at the signs for the liberal pro-Obamacare protestors you will see that they are all holding the same professionally made signs that point you to a common website. Subsequently this photojournalist points out that three of the pro-Obamacare liberal protestors are actually Mexican day laborers who don't even know what the signs they are carrying mean.

Lets see, one side is using unorganized, homemade signs while the other is using manufactured, professional signs held aloft by hired hands. Which side would you say is true grassroots?

President Obama has just not been able to wrap his mind around the fear most American's have of a government run healthcare option. President Obama, in attempt to ease peoples concerns, only made them worse when he compared the government run option to the U.S. postal service. Yes, that is just what people want out of healthcare: long lines, substandard facilities and damaged goods. The harder President Obama pushes for healthcare, the faster his approval rating falls.

Endure us, Honduras

No action taken by the Obama administration is as wrong, ill advised and out right foolish as his actions towards Honduras.

Quick recap of the facts. President Zelaya, in direct defiance of the Honduran constitution, sought a special election to allow himself to serve another term in office. He had special ballots for the referendum printed in Venezuela (for the record, ballots from Venezuela are about as trustworthy as spring water from New Jersey) and shipped in to the country. The Honduran Supreme Court declared the referendum unconstitutional (because under the Honduran constitution a referendum could only be ordered by the legislature) and seized the ballots. Zelaya, following the example of Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez, then led an angry mob into a military base to reclaim the ballots and distribute them illegally. The opposition had already stated it would refuse to participate in the election so any results Zelaya could achieve from a farcical referendum would be a misrepresentation of the people. Because of his aggressive acts and willful violation of the law, the Supreme Court ordered the military to arrest Zelaya and the legislature voted to provide Roberto Michelleti (a member of Zelaya's own party) with temporary presidential powers until an election could be held in November.

Despite the obvious democratic and legal justification for Zelaya's arrest, the President Obama has preferred to officially sanction Honduras until Zelaya is returned to power. At first the sanction came in the form of non-recognition for the new government, but now they have taken more drastic measures such as revoking government visa's and finally denying hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the impoverished nation.

There is simply no justification for Obama's actions other than a desperate attempt to seek favor from the South American thug-in-chief (and fellow book club member) Hugo Chavez. We should expect our President to courageously stand for Freedom and Democracy, instead, President Obama has chosen the cowards path in favor of the thugocracy currently ravishing South America.

That raspy sound you hear in the distance? That would be FDR and JFK rolling over in their graves.

If this summer of our discontent has proved anything it is this: when you elect a man President who has no idea what he is doing, you end up with a President who has no idea what he is doing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blubber, Blatter, Blister and Bumble

I have been so busy at work for the last 2 months that I have been completely unable to put one rational, coherent thought together. So here are four irrational, incoherent thoughts. Please to be reading and enjoying.

Whale Wars: Rise of the Hypocrites

One nice thing about summer is that regular TV is chock full of crap. Just how many tired reruns and Octomom specials does it take to fill the three month telivisual void known as Summer? Answer: Apparently a lot. The good thing about all the garbage on TV is that it gives you a chance to venture out and try something new. No, not reading or spending time with the family. By new I mean a new show that any other time of the year would not crack your Tivo Top 100. This summer, that show has been Whale Wars on Animal Planet.

Whale Wars is basically a reality show in the same vein as Deadliest Catch or Ice Road Truckers. Only in the case of Whale Wars, rather then follow around a bunch of slack-jawed hillbillies as they attempt to complete a difficult job in the Frozen North, we follow around a bunch of hygienically challenged Green Peace hippies as they attempt to disrupt legal whaling in the Frozen South. The one thing all these shows have in common is they make me glad my TV does not have smell-o-vision. If the primetime Emmies handed out awards for "Worst B.O. in a Reality TV Series" we would already have our nominees.

The unclean heroes of Whale Wars, known as Sea Shepherds, spend weeks at sea each year following around Japanese whalers in an attempt to disrupt their operations.

For the record I am not pro-whaling. My need to see wet blubber is satiated every time I take a shower. I look at whales much the same way I look at spiders, scorpions and clowns: stay out of my house and I will not actively seek to destroy you.

That being said, I always find myself rooting for the Japanese Whalers; not exactly the intended consequence of the show. The sanctimonious hypocrisy displayed by the anti-whaling, anti-showering beatnik Sea Shepherds has turned them into the real villains. While they claim to be anti-violence, the methods they use against the Japanese are nothing short of dangerous and blatantly hostile.

When the Whalers use non-lethal sonar weapons, the Sea Shepherds start firing flares at them. When the Whalers tow a long rope behind them to keep the Sea Shepherds from getting too close, the Sea Shepherds respond by circling the whalers with their smaller boats and dragging a line under their hull to disable their prop. When the Sea Shepherds get frustrated by the powerful water cannons aboard the Japanese whalers, they respond by trying to throw bottles of Butyric Acid onto their decks. How dare you try to keep us peace-loving whale huggers away from your ships using non lethal methods. Eat acid you violent jerks!

The only thing more inhumane then killing whales is putting the lives of actual humans at risk, even through supposed non-violent methods. That is what the Sea Shepherds do every day they are out at sea. When you value the life of a bloated sea cow (i.e. whale) more than you do an actual human being, you have lost all perspective and deserve no sympathy. The Sea Shepherds are far more William Ayers than they are Mahatma Ghandi.

Art Imitating Life

Last night, my wife and I sat down to watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. At one point during the movie, the very pregnant Daisy (played by Cate Blanchett) interrupts Benjamin to say she has "to go pee." At that very moment, my very pregnant wife had just stood up to visit the restroom for that very purpose. Hillarity ensued.

Secretary of Hate

In case you missed it, our nation's top diplomat and chief tact-ician, Hillary Clinton, recently snapped at a Nigerian student for having the audacity to ask her about her husband, Bill. Hillary's carefully worded response to an innocent question, was to remind this student that Hillary is the Secretary of State, not Bill and, in her most derisive tone, she would not be channeling her husband. Oh snap!

I think we can all agree that being Secretary of State is the perfect job for Hillary Clinton. Now, she doesn't even have to worry about being in the same country as her husband. Who says theirs is a marriage of political convenience?

Blaming the Republicant's

Now that health care reform has stalled faster than a '72 Pinto in the middle of a Hurricane, President Obama is falling back on the old, reliable Democratic crutch: blame the vast right-wing conspiracy.

In a radio interview this week, President Obama took the focus off his own failure of leadership to state ""I think early on, a decision was made by the Republican leadership that said, 'Look, let's not give him a victory, maybe we can have a replay of 1993, '94, when Clinton came in, he failed on health care and then we won in the mid-term elections and we got the majority. And I think there are some folks who are taking a page out that playbook."

There is only one problem. Republicans have absolutely no ability to stop health care. None. Ninguno. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Maybe Obama missed that part of civics class where they discussed filibuster-proof majorities, because he clearly does not realize that he has one. With 60 members of the senate in his pocket, President Obama could pass any bill he wants. Want to make Shark Week a national holiday? Go for it. Want to provide tax subsidies to one-eyed, scurvy-ridden pirates? Its all yours. Want to create a nationalized health care system that drives up the national debt without so much as reading the bill? Done and done.

Obama Care has thus far failed for one reason and one reason only. Obama's inability to convince the members of his own party of its merits. And how could he convince them? Nobody actually knows what Obama Care is. How does the public option work? Who qualifies? How much will it cost? Does it have sliding scale monthly premiums? Will it require co pays and deductibles? The most basic question of any insurance program have been either ignored or unanswered. All this despite countless news releases, town hall meetings and a primetime news conference. If you still fail to persuade people to your point of view despite your own personal likability and a lapdog media, maybe the problem isn't the opposition. Maybe the problem is the message itself.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Name Shame Blame Game

My wife is great with child in the same way that the China is great with a wall. They are both awe inspiring, beautiful and, ahem, man made. But unlike that ancient anti-Mongol device aptly named the Great Wall of China, there is nothing yet about the twins currently growing within my wife's womb that lends itself towards a proper name. Coming up with appropriate names has thus far been the hardest part about having twins aside from the puking, weight gain and inability to bend down and grab anything below the hip—or so says my wife.

Providing a proper name is one of the most important things you will ever do for your children. An inappropriate or poorly thought out name can lead to a life time of embarrassment and can even reduce the child's future earning potential. The rich and famous can afford to provide their children with abominations of nomenclature such as Apple or Moxie Crimefighter. I, on the other hand, am not nearly famous enough to get away with naming my child Loquacious Kazoo as much as I might like to.

In the court of law, some names have actually been considered forms of child abuse. In New Zealand, a girl named Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii was placed in to state custody so her name could be changed with the judge in the case pointing out that her name constituted a "social disability and handicap."

Sadly enough, I am not nearly as good at naming babies as I am at making them. However, there are some simple rules I stick by to prevent my child from a lifetime of social abuse.

Rule #1: Buck the Trend

The first thing we check when we come up with a name is its ranking on the top 100 names list. Anything in the top ten is ruled out. Sure, Jacob may be a great name, but who wants to spend the rest of his life being one of a countless sea of Jacobs in every classroom, church congregation or place of employment. Each time you run into someone with your name, you can't help but feel like they have absconded a portion of your identity. Especially in the Google age, the last thing you want is for a potential employer to check your name online and confuse you with another Aiden (the #1 name in 2008) who got caught embezzling from his employer.

Rule #2: Don't Make it Up

This seems to be more and more common these days as people take individuality to the extreme and approach naming their child the way a dyslexic five-year old approaches Scrabble. They just cram a bunch of letters together until something sticks. Kylon, Jolissa, Jesaray, Mavira, Ersaid; these might make for good names in Middle Earth, but here in America, we prefer something a little more conventional.

Rule #3: It is a Name, not a Nerd Confessional

I consider myself a bit of a geek. I love me some Star Wars every bit as much as the next guy. Nevertheless, that does not give me the right to name the twins Luke and Leia as much as my inner 10-year old wants to. Just because you attend the Sci-Fi convention religiously does not mean your child's name should be sacrificed upon the alter of Nerdom. This all but rules out Kal-el, Skywalker, Anakin, Padme, Frodo, Strider, Samwise and, of course, Optimus Prime.

Rule #4: The Serial Killer Test

There are some names that are synonymous with evil. There is just no nice way to name a child Adolf, Mussolini, Atilla or Cain. Similarly Ted Bundy and Ted Kaczynki have ruined the name Ted for everyone. Who can meet a woman named Lorena without also thinking of Mrs. Bobbit?

This has been perhaps the biggest disagreement between my wife and me. She really wants to name the twin boy "Carter". However, I cannot even hear the name without thinking about gas lines, stagflation and the Iran Hostage crisis. Sure Jimmy Carter has done some nice things for Habitat for Humanity, but he is without question the worst American President we have had since Hoover. Although the name has a nice ring to it, so does Lucifer. I might think about it if our two other sons were not also named after US Presidents. We have had many Presidents worth recognizing and I will not betray my political leanings by welcoming a Carter into my home. We might as well name him Clinton Pelosi.

Rule #5: Avoid Intentional Misspelling

While there are certainly some people who are going to disagree with me on this, I see no point in giving someone a commonly accepted name and unique-ing it up by intentionally misspelling it. What value is there really in having a Jacyn instead of Jason? Stefany instead of Stephanie? Suzzyn instead of Susan? Aarik instead of Erich? All you are doing is condemning your child to a lifetime of having to explain his name to people.

On this same note, we should all agree to avoid names that require grammatical symbols such as an apostrophe or dash. My oldest brother tells the story of deposing a young girl at his law firm whose name was spelled Le-a which everyone pronounced it Lia. When the mother found out how her daughters name was being pronounced, she became offended and exclaimed "Lia? Whose Lia? My daughters name is LeDASHa." That's right. Her name includes the first non-silent dash in English history.

So, after all is said and done, my wife and I still don't have names for the Unborn Two. We both agree on Danielle for the girl, but for the boy, my wife prefers Carter while I prefer Collin. As a compromise, we are leaning towards Christian. Yes that's right. A Mormon naming his son Christian. The thought alone might be enough to make Mike Huckabee's head explode. A boy can dream, can't he?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Puppies As Polar Bears: Obama’s Acute Moral Equivalence

After President Obama's 6,000 word address to the Muslim world in Cairo, it is safe to say Egyptians haven't been this enamored with a foreign leader since Mark Anthony was amorously engaged with Cleopatra. How Mark Anthony managed to gain so much Egyptian support without a teleprompter is a mystery most historians have yet to broach.

All-in-all, I thought President Obama's speech was…gulp…pretty darn good. I thought he struck an appropriate chord by focusing on America's shared history and values with the Muslim world. While I don't expect his speech to have any impact on the extremists operating in the Middle-East, for the silent majority of moderates, the picture of America as "the Great Satan" certainly became less focused.

President Obama's speech provided America's forked tongue, cloven hooves and sharpened horns a much needed cosmetic cover-up. A few more speeches from President Obama to the Muslim world and we might be able to move out of the Satan category all-together and become just plain-old "demonic infidels". Who says there isn't hope for U.S. –Arab relations? Maybe all North Korea needs is a 10,000 word speech from President Obama on America's appreciation of kimchi and old-lady sunglasses.

However, this speech did reveal something far more troubling about Barack Obama than the fact that his middle-name is Hussein --seriously, who knew? It revealed that President Obama suffers from Acute Moral Equivalence, a disease afflicting much of the Left.

Those suffering from Acute Moral Equivalence lump everyone into a gray, churning pool of guilt resulting in a puppies-as-polar bears equivalence where the victims become the perpetrators and the perpetrators become the victims. For the moral-compass deficient, Columbine is a tragedy but so is the social isolation that may have caused it. September 11th is a tragedy but so is the intrusive foreign policy that caused it. Rape is a tragedy, but so is the short-skirt that caused it.

Take, for example, the portion of the President's speech concerning women's rights where he correctly pointed out the need to educate girls in the Muslim world and allow them the freedom of choice. But then he had to temper his remarks with the caveat that "the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life." Equating the struggles women face in America to those faced in the Middle-east is like equating Mother Theresa's struggle with chastity to Paris Hilton's.

This acute case of Moral Equivalency that President Obama suffers from is most apparent in his remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In an attempt to straddle the moral fence and reach out to both sides, President Obama mandated that the Palestinians "abandon violence" and that the Israelis abandon "settlements" in disputed territories.

When you equate those who destroy with those who build, you have lost any sense of moral authority. When building homes, hospitals and schools brings with it as much condemnation as suicide-bombings, rocket attacks and kidnappings then any claims you may have on a moral-North Star vanish.

To be sure, these settlements are inflammatory but to specifically ask that they be abandoned while making only a superficial condemnation of the horrific violence used by the other side is unfair to the Israelis who have gone out of their way to make the peace process possible. One side of this conflict builds schools, the other side fires rockets from them. One side of this conflict wants to raise their children in peace, the other wants to turn them into unwilling martyrs. One side of this conflict fires rubber bullets, while the other throws Molotov cocktails. There is only one side in this conflict, that while not perfect, has shown a demonstrable desire to achieve peace. President Obama would do well to remember that one side of the conflict deserves public praise, not public berating.

Even the Great Satan knows right from wrong.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

GayKK: The Mormons are Coming! The Mormons are Coming

Drop that Appletini and put on your white hoods because the Mormons are coming! The Mormons are coming!

This just about sums up the latest call to arms by the newest entrant to the GayKK, Californians Against Hate, who recently purchased ads in three east-coast newspapers warning of Mormon influence in the gay-marriage debate. The ads featured a Paul Revere-esque warning followed by an amateurish caution against Mormon influence in the marriage debate. Consider this abomination of rhyme and meter contained within the ad:

Listen my friends and you shall hear
Of Mormons coming, inciting fear
From Utah to Seven Northeast States
Gay marriage rights, they hop to eliminate

This whole advertisement, including the poem, is about as ironic as an insomniac slumber party. First, consider that this blatantly hostile, ignorant and inflammatory ad was created by a group entitled Californians Against Hate. That's like Hitler calling his propaganda machine Friends of the Jews. Also, you can't help but laugh at an ad that incites fear by warning about Mormons inciting fear. Apparently this whole organization was sick that day in English class when rhyme, meter and irony were discussed. One of the major complaints during the Prop 8 debate was about the Utah based church inserting itself into California politics. Yet here we have a California based group inserting itself into East Coast politics. Remember, the GayKK mantra is simple: It is good for me, but not for thee.

Luckily, three other newspapers in the east coast saw right through the GayKK propaganda and refused to run the ad stating "it borders on insulting and denigrating a whole set of people based on their religion." This of course is the modus operandi of the entire GayKK movement.

The Washington Post recently ran an article pointing out that the advertisements are just another salvo in the GayKK's fight to demonize the Mormons. This strategy is built around the fact that more people have Gay friends than Mormon friends. If the GayKK can play on people's fears and ignorance enough, they feel they can win the battle of public opinion, especially as it relates to gay marriage. As the founder of Californians Against hate stated in the article, "People will vote for someone because they like so and so, or because they don't like the other guy." In the case of the GayKK, they are trying to turn Mormons into the other guy.

Rick Jacobs, founding father of the GayKK and creator of the Kalifornia Kourage Kampaign (an organization I already discussed here) goes on to tell the Washington Post that Mormons "exist and flourish in this country because of the concept of equal protection. I find it just an irreconcilable hypocrisy that a group that rightly thrives within the essence of the American system would seek to repress and deny rights to another." Newsflash Ricky: gay marriage is not a right. While it may be perceived as such in some states and you may personally believe it is, nationally there is no federally protected right to same sex marriage. Hence the existence of the Federal Defense of Marriage act (signed by Bill Clinton) that allows states to refuse to recognize same sex marriage.

You know what is a right Ricky? Freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Those are real rights, and Rick Jacobs and the other Knights of the GayKK seek to deny Mormons their constitutionally protected rights because Mormons fail to support their perceived right to gay marriage.

Gathering angry mobs to protest Mormon churches and temples, spray painting our places of worship, boycotting our businesses and publicly flogging anyone who dares vote their conscience are all methods used by the GayKK to deny Mormons their constitutionally protected freedom to worship.

Juxtapose the GayKK's hostile methods with those used by Mormons in support of Proposition 8. We simply voiced our opinion in public and in private and allowed people to vote. We did not spray paint the doors of gay activists. We did not mail envelopes containing a suspicious white powder to gay bars. We did not stand outside a business and shout down everyone inside because the owner had the audacity to make a $100 contribution to the other side. The GayKK may claim they are right, but they can no longer claim to have the moral high ground. They seceded that territory the minute they decided to demonize a minority religion simply for voting their beliefs.

One of the most insulting aspects of the GayKK movement comes from their inability to appreciate the sincerity and deep felt belief of the religious. As Rick Jacobs stated, "I certainly didn't choose to be gay. People make choices to be Mormons, or any other religion." Here Rick insults Mormons and all religious people alike by equating theological preference to ordering off the menu at Chili's.

I could no more deny the Mormon Church than I could deny that the earth is round or the sky is blue. For me to deny my religion would require that I deny the countless existential experiences that make me who I am today. It would require that I deny the answers to prayers I have received and the miracles I have witnessed. More importantly, it would require that I deny the whisperings of the Holy Ghost who tells me with a surety that the Church is right. I do not simply believe the Mormon Church is true. I know it is true. I am not Mormon because of genetic pre-disposition or choice. I am Mormon because of Divine compulsion and I do not believe the religious feelings of those aligned against gay-marriage are any less sincere.

I do not oppose gay marriage because I hate homosexuals. I oppose gay marriage because of my belief in the divine nature of marriage and the importance of family to our eternal salvation. Mormons are not the enemy and the GayKK would see that much more clearly if they simply would remove their white hoods.

To view the Washington Post Article click here

To see the ad for yourself click here

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Intellectual Ball and Cheney

True Story: the police officer assigned to patrol my high school was named Officer Richard Head. Needless to say, being bestowed with a phallic insinuation as a name is not the best way to win the respect of teenage boys. His badge and gun were about the only thing protecting him from a lifetime of wedgies and swirlies.

This sophomoric treatment of Officer Head can explain, at least in part, the hatred and loathing American-liberals hold for former Vice President Dick Cheney. They just can't respect the opinions of a man whose name induces more sniggers, chuckles and guffahs than Ima Hogg.

Beyond his name, what reason is there, really, to hate Dick Cheney? I'm not saying he is on my Christmas card list, but what reason was given before anointing him Public Enemy Number One? Based on the way he is treated in the public and in the media at large, you would think Dick Cheney marinates his steak with dead puppies.

Consider what Maureen Dowd, New York Times Columnist and Plagiarist-at-large, recently wrote about the former Vice President:

"He left our ports unsecured, our food supply unsafe, the Taliban rising and Osama on the loose. No matter if or when terrorists attack here — and they're on their own timetable, not a partisan red/blue state timetable — Cheney will be deemed the primary one who made America more vulnerable."

The fact that such a specious, illogical rant could make its way onto the pages of the New York Times proves that Maureen Dowd is not the only one suffering from acute intellectual deficiency. In the school of ideas, Mrs. Dowd and her ilk clearly ride the short bus.

Blaming Dick Cheney for any and all future terrorist attacks is like blaming global warming on the Thundercats. There is simple no rational justification for such a broad accusation. Using that same logic, can we blame the Oklahoma City Bombing on Dan Quayle? Additionally, how is ferreting Osama Bin Laden out of a hole while at the same time assuring that no one spits in your Big Mac the responsibility of the Vice President?

The Vice President has one job: Don't die. That's it. His responsibility is to live in case the President doesn't. There is no more emasculated and neutered political position in the United States government. One former Vice President famously said that the office "was not worth a bucket of warm piss."

Dick Cheney never wrote, voted on or debated legislation. His only votes came as a tie breaker. He passed no executive order, commanded no troops and issued no official policy. Dick Cheney had less power and influence than the First Lady, yet we are supposed to believe that all past, present and future terrorist attacks are his fault.

Sadly enough, the Obama administration is applying the same twisted, baseless reasoning that turned Dick Cheney into a villain to its own national security policy. Say what you want about the Bush administration policies on the war on terror, they worked. For almost eight years we have not had a single significant attack on the US homeland or any of her over seas assets. Despite this success, Barack Obama, in the height of arrogance, is hoping to get the same or better results by doing less. He is betting that a pre-9-11 national security policy will have post 9-11 results. He is wrong.

Luckily, the same Dick Cheney whom the liberals so despise, has taken time away from crushing rainbows and oppressing widows, to publicly point out the numerous flaws in Obama's myopic national security policy. By simply opening his mouth, he has the entire Democratic establishment back stepping faster than bar full of line- dancing cowboys.

Consider all that has happened since Dick Cheney started to issue a voice of warning only a few weeks ago. On two key issues of national security, military tribunals and the release of the water boarding photos, Dick Cheney has played a part in getting Barack Obama to completely, and pathetically reverse himself.

He has gotten Barack Obama's own intelligence appointees to reveal the fact that waterboarding helped prevent a 9-11 type of attack on Los Angeles thereby saving countless thousands of lives.

By keeping the focus on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, he has managed to catch Nancy Pelosi in a blatant and all-too-public lie. There is even now murmuring that she might be forced to resign because of her I-didn't-know-then-I-did-know-then-I-was-lied-to-then-I-was-briefed-but-I-wasn't-fully-briefed web of deception.

The attention Dick Cheney has brought to the declassified memos also shows that Barack Obama released these memos against the advice of his own intelligence officials and every intelligence official who preceded them. Dick Cheney has continually asked that the information gleaned from enhanced interrogation be released to the public. The fact that President Obama has been so reluctant to do so shows his fear that the court of public opinion will decide that the answers we got from our interrogations were worth whatever methods we used to ask the question.

Additionally, on the issue of Gitmo, Barack Obama is now facing push back from his own party who voted 90-6 to refuse funding for the closure of the prison. Mysteriously, the national media has even begun to recognize Dick Cheney's credibility on the issue of national security as shown by their willingness to televise his live rebuttal to Barack Obama's security speech offered in the National Archives.

In a world drowning in a cacophony of opinion from all sides, Dick Cheney is emerging as an inconvenient, powerful and articulate voice. As conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt stated "Cheney scares the appeasers of the new millennium, even as Churchill scared the appeasers of the '30s, and for the same reason. Cheney knows the enemy, and he knows the new government isn't taking that enemy seriously… Every time he speaks, millions will listen closely as hundreds within the Beltway scowl." Sorry President Obama, but when people (even conservative talk show hosts) stop comparing Dick Cheney to Darth Vader and start comparing him to Winston Churchill, you've got problems.

Recent polling also shows public opinion of Dick Cheney is starting to improve. In fact, after Dick Cheney's rebuttal, an informal poll on MSNBC found that 61% of the voters agreed with his viewpoint on national security while only 31% agreed with Obama . Now if this were a Fox News poll, it would not be worth a pitcher of warm anything. The fact that is comes from MSNBC, whose litany of liberal talking heads still could not convince a majority of its listeners that Obama is right, is very telling.

For the Obama Administration, Dick Cheney is suddenly becoming an intellectual ball and chain, keeping their flights into fantasy and fiction firmly grounded in reality. Dick Cheney doesn't need a badge and gun to protect himself from Beltway Bullies. He just needs that truth.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

An Opology for the Masses

"Love means never having to say your sorry." These words from the 1970's classic romance A Love Story constitute the second dumbest words ever uttered on the big screen. The dumbest words ever uttered, of course, belong to Top Gun with the climactic You-could-be-my-wingman-any-day-No-you-could-be-mine repartee between Maverick and Iceman. A true cinematic nadir.

Back to the original point, anyone who has been married knows that love means saying your sorry no less than 10 times a day. Sorry I left my socks in the middle of the floor. Sorry for not putting my shoes in the basket. Sorry I allowed my body to produce two eggs thereby making it possible for us to have twins.(I am still waiting to hear that last apology from my wife).

However, with President Obama, it appears the love story he has with his supporters, particularly those in the media, bears far more in common with the sycophantic 70's romance than with actual love. No matter what he does, no matter how egregious the error, his supporters just won't say they are sorry.

Over the first few months of the Obama administration, he has committed blunders that are simply inexcusable. Yet his defenders in the media continue to deflect blame and minimize criticism. No matter how large a deficit he creates, no matter how desperately he clings to his teleprompter, no matter how many special education kids he insults, the Opologists will always be there, willing to turn the other cheek. For many of the Opologists, their willingness to forgive is about their only Christian virtue. In real Christianity, it is the Messiah who asks us to forgive others, but in the Church of Opology, it is others who ask us to forgive the Messiah.

The distinctions between Christianity and Opology go even deeper. After all, what is the biggest difference between President Obama and Jesus?

Jesus knew how to build a cabinet.

Barack Obama's difficulties putting together a cabinet really are the punch line of a joke. In the history of the United States, we have had only 20 total nominees for a cabinet position not end up getting the job. That makes the fact the Tom Daschle, Nancy Killifer, Bill Richardson, Judd Gregg, Hilda Solis were all nominated but never took office even more embarrassing. Even the ones Barack Obama managed to get through, like Timothy Geithner and Hillary Clinton, were not without their own bit of controversy. In fact, the only nominee Barack Obama has nominated without raising an eyebrow is Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under former President Bush. When you least controversial pick is a former Bush appointee, you've got problems.

President Obama ran under the notion of Hope and Change, yet mere weeks into his tenure and he was using fear and panic to push his agenda. Even as a candidate, he was calling the U.S. economy the "worst since the great depression", a dubious claim at best. Then, as debate over his massive porkulus bill ensued, he warned that a failure to act would turn a "crisis into a catastrophe." Yet once the bill is passed, Barack Obama starts stating that, economically speaking, things aren't as bad as we think they are. Huh? Where is Al Gore screaming "He betrayed us! He played on our fears!" when you need him?

Concerning the state of the economy, Barack Obama is proving he intends to back up the words of his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, and not let a "good crisis go to waste." Barack Obama is using this current financial crisis as the largest bait-and-switch ever foisted upon the American people. Everyone, including Barack Obama, knows that we got into this mess because of a banking collapse caused by the toxic mortgage debt of people who bought more home than they can afford. So, with the banks in collapse and homes in foreclosure, President Obama proposes to solve the crisis by reforming our energy policy, fixing our healthcare system and improving education. To be sure, energy, healthcare and education are important priorities but they are not the cause nor the solution to our economic woes. Our financial system is bleeding to death and President Obama's only cure is to take more vitamins. So while President Obama doubles the national debt in order to fix the economy, he has yet to lay out a solution to the banking crisis that got us here in the first place.

President Obama said there were no earmarks in the stimulus bill despite the billions of dollars of earmarks written all over the document. Obama then said he would eliminate pork in the federal budget, but when the budget stop-gap needed to complete the fiscal year came out with more pork than a Hawaiian BBQ, he blamed it on Bush and promised that he would get rid of the pork next time. There is a word for that type of double speak; it is called lying.

Obama's hypocritical inconsistencies are legion despite the media Opologists insistence on turning the other cheek. He claims to support the troops while at the same time slashing defense spending and considering an idea that would force soldiers, including those wounded in war, to pay for their own healthcare. He ended military tribunals in Guantanamo bay only to re-instate them 100 days later. He lectures against deficit spending and run away government despite having created the largest deficit in American history.

While the Opologist's in the media will never bring themselves to utter those infamous words, it is only a matter of time before we all say we are sorry.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Lunchbox List

I turned 30 years old this past week which makes it official: I am no longer a teenager.

Thirty is an interesting age. It puts you half way between toilet papering someone's house and yelling at the kids to get off your lawn. Half way between baggy jeans, and pants up to your nipples.

The best part about being 30 is that I can officially stop pretending to care, or even understand, all things "teenager." I can accept the fact that every time I attempt to write a text message I look as nimble and dexterous as the Stay Puff Marshmallow man trying to pick up a penny. I can accept the fact that every time I touch an Xbox controller, some ten year old kid eating Twizzlers in his mom's basement is going to beat me. You know what? That is okay; because today, I am officially grown up.

All your life you are asked this one ominous question: what are you going to be when you grow up? Well here I am all grown up. I have a wife, a house, a mortgage, a retirement plan, a career, an education and children. So, so many children. So what am I?

I am the sum of my experiences. I am someone who has repelled Australian-style down the side of a cliff. I am someone who speaks two languages and can impersonate virtually every character on Sesame Street. I am someone who has stood on the heights of the Great Wall of China and the depths of the Cambodian Killing Fields. I am someone who has ridden down the slope of the Andean mountains in a Colombian-jungle bus driven by a 14-year old kid. I am someone who has carried a coffin and rocked a cradle. I am someone who has fallen madly in love with a woman and helped bring three (soon to be five) children into this world. I am someone who has cried tears of pain and fear, but mostly joy. Above all, I am someone who every time I come home at night hears three scampering voices shout the best word in the English language, "Daddy!"

Recently, my oldest son turned six and this has been as much an epiphany for me as my turning 30. My children are finally getting to the point in their lives where they will start having the experiences that will form the building blocks of their future identity. As their father, I feel it is important that they have as many beneficial experiences as possible.

Which got me thinking, what are the experiences each person should have before they grow up? We have bucket lists of things to do before you die, so I think it is time we started a Lunchbox list: things to do before you grow up. For example:

Run a lemonade stand selling .25 cent cups of sweet delicious capitalism

Sleep outside on a trampoline

Catch a lizard and/or frog then beg your mother to let you keep it

Eat ice cream until you throw up. Then eat some more.

Spend a warm summer evening playing tag with a wet sock.

Get grounded for doing something your parents are secretly proud of

Toilet paper your neighbors yard

Catch your parents praying together

Speak in front of a large crowd

Hike into the woods for no reason

Read a whole novel in one sitting

Take apart a household appliance just to see how it works

Dig a hole just to for the sake of digging

This is just the start to what I hope becomes a great little parenting tool. Don't know what to do on a Saturday afternoon? Pull out the Lunchbox List. If you have any suggestions for what you think every kid should do before he grows up, I would love to hear it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fry Mumia: Part Two

Besides being a cop killer and all around jerk-face, Mumia Abu-Jamal still believes he is a victim of racist oppression. Despite the fact that a) he is guilty and b) two of the jury members and one of the key witnesses who convicted him are black, Mumia and his Legion of the Duped have managed to use his supposed victim status to turn him into an icon. On this point, however, I have to agree with them. Mumia Abu-Jamal is a victim of racism, except the only racists in his sad life have not been his oppressors. They are his supporters.

The question each of us should ask in this case is: why Mumia? If it is truly about his innocence, then surely the progressive left that has propped Mumia up as an icon could have found a more worthy recipient of their time and energy. Surely, right now, there is someone sitting on death row who didn't have the murder weapon right next to him with the bullet from the murdered cop in his belly?

So why Mumia? Mumia Abu-Jamal is an intelligent man, an eloquent poet and a powerful speaker. In short, he is everything progressive liberals expect black men not to be.

George W. Bush said it best (for the record that is the first time "George W. Bush" and "said it best" have ever been used in the same sentence) when he described the liberal racism that props up Mumia as "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been made into an icon, not because of racial oppression, but because he defies racist expectations.

While this soft bigotry may help Mumia, for other minorities, I cannot see it as anything less than destructive. Soft-bigotry may not display the overt harm of Jim-Crow era racism, but they are both cut from the same cloth. You cannot believe an entire race of people needs your help with out also believing they are inferior to you.

In the public arena, soft-bigotry goes by many different euphemisms, most common among them are "diversity" and "affirmative action." These hall marks of soft-bigotry have become so ingrained in society you can see their hand at action in every corporate board room and every university lecture hall. But do they actually help?

Empirically, we are starting to see the evidence of how soft-bigotry hurts the very people it is supposed to help. In an academic setting , researchers Stephen Cole and Elinor Barber have found that race-based preferences at Ivy-league schools resulted in less minorities wishing to pursue academic careers. Researcher Richard Sander also found that race-based admission standards in law schools results in less black and Hispanic lawyers, not more.

Affirmative Action, especially as it is practiced by Universities in the form of race-based preferences, cannot survive even the most surface level analysis without showing its racist roots. If race-based preferences are about providing opportunities to poor, lower class groups, why not use parental education achievement or parental income instead of race when handing out preference? As it is now, the daughter of a black CEO has a better chance of going to an Ivy League school the son of a white farmer.

If affirmative action is about helping historically oppressed groups, why are Asians not also given preferential treatment? Over the last 100 years, perhaps no other groups has had to suffer as much as Asians. The same Jim-Crow laws that applied to blacks, applied to Asians. During WWII, Asians all across the country were rounded up and placed into internment camps simply because of their race. The large in-flux of Asian immigrants to the US during the 60's and 70's also means many Asians have had to overcome language barriers that African Americans have never faced.

Despite their historic oppression, Asians do not receive preferential treatment from colleges because, as a group, they have already exceeded what ever racist low-expectations school administrators have for the other minority groups. In other words, it is not enough to be from a historically oppressed minority group, you have to be from a historically oppressed minority group with low expectations.

Because of the Orwellian world we live in-where night is day and good is bad- saying that all races are equal and should be treated equally, without preference for one or the other, makes you a racist. Saying Blacks and Hispanics are equal to me in every way and therefore do not need my help, makes me a bigot.

In reality, there is only one difference between me and the Pro-Affirmitive-Action-Free-Mumia crowd. When I say men should "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" I actually mean it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fry Mumia: Part One

On April 6, 2009, the US Supreme Court, in a sudden fit of sanity, declined to hear the appeal of Mumia Abu-Jamal. This decision ended a decades long process of appeal after appeal by Mumia and brought him one step closer to the death penalty.

If you are reading this and scratching your head in bewildered confusion at the mere mention of Mumia's name, take comfort. The fact that you do not know who he is means you are either A) gainfully employed, B) a person with a basic understanding of personal hygene or C) someone who is not Facebook friends with Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover, Fidel Castro or the European Parliament. Either way, I salute you.

So who is Mumia Abu-Jamal? Simply put, he is a cop killer.

On the night of December 9, 1981, Officer Daniel Faulkner pulled over a light blue Volkswagen bug traveling the wrong way on a dark Philadelphia street. Office Faulkner asked the driver, Mr. Cook, to exit the vehicle after which the Officer was punched in the face. Faulkner retaliated, striking Mr. Cook with his flashlight. In a nearby parking lot, Mumia was working a late shift as a cab driver when he heard the commotion. Entering the scene, Mumia saw the officer struggling to arrest Mr. Cook, who just happened to be Mumia's brother. Mumia drew his Five-shot .38 revolver and shot the distracted Officer Faulkner in the back. Officer Faulkner managed to respond and fire off a shot of his own hitting Mumia in the upper abdomen. Mumia fired more shots and missed the struggling Officer. In response, Mumia moved closer, placed the gun inches away from Officer Faulkner's head and fired, hitting him just above the eye and killing him instantly. Mumia staggered away and sat down on a nearby curb until the police arrived seconds later.

Despite the fact that he was found on the scene with his .38 revolver by his side containing five spent shells, despite the fact that he had Officer Faulkner's bullet in his stomach, despite the multiple eye witnesses who identified him as the shooter and despite the testimony of the hospital guard who over heard him take credit for the murder stating he hopes "the mother ****** dies!", Mumia Abu Jamal claims to be innocent.

Lets see here...Motive? Check. Murder Weapon? Check. Multiple Eye witnesses putting him at the scene? Check. Sorry Mumia, even OJ Simpson would find you guilty.

Unfortunately, countless Useful Idiots do not.

Mumia's army of naive believers is legion. A simple Google search for "Free Mumia" reveals website after website dedicated to the proposition that Mumia is a political prisoner. This silver-tongued charlatan has inspired a virtual cottage industry, fueled even more by the internets power to inform and deceive. Everything from Mumia inspired podcasts to the ever present "Free Mumia" t-shirts are literally only a click away.

His protests to the contrary, being put in jail was the best thing to ever happen to Mumia. Before killing Officer Faulkner, Mumia was relatively unknown outside his own Philadelphia circle. While he is proud to be one of the founders of the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panthers, his association with the Marijuana Users Association of America receives little attention. He never finished college and spent years working as a reporter bouncing around from one local Philadelphia radio station to another where his progressive political shtick never translated into a lasting audience. At the time of the shooting, he was President of Philadelphia Association of Black journalists.

Since murdering Officer Faulkner, Mumia has received an audience and, ironically, a credibility he could never have earned on his education or talent alone. He has been a regular on National Public Radio. He has received an honorary degree from the New College of California Law School. He has written countless books and essays pandered off onto an all-too-willing audience. He has been named an honorary citizen of 25 cities across the globe including Paris, Montreal and Palermo and he has received the support from virtually every Hollywood Celebrity to ever don a picket sign and bullhorn.

All this popular support not withstanding, Mumia is nothing more than an arrogant, cowardly, two faced liar who will do anything to save his own skin. He is, after all, Parisian. The Pro-Mumia propaganda machine is so strong and so pervasive, you cannot talk about Mumia without in turn confronting the many blatant and obvious lies that the legion-of-the-duped pass off as fact.

Mumia and his ilkdamning claim that Officer Faulkner was shot with a .44 caliber pistol, not Mumia's .38 caliber which, you know, just happened to have five spent shells and just happened to be sitting right next to Mumia at the crime scene. This charge is patently false. The prosecutions ballistics expert called during the 1982 trial stated very clearly that Officer Faulkner was killed with a .38 caliber bullet. The defenses own ballistics expert, at the same trial, conceded that the bullet was a .38.

Claims have been made that the Judge at the trial, Judge Albert Sabo, has sentenced more people to death than any other judge in the United States. There are two problems with this claim. First, this naked assertion has no merit considering no such records have ever been kept. Second, Judge Sabo has never sentenced anyone to death considering all his murder trials have been jury trials and the jury has been responsible for sentencing.

This most damning claim in favor of Mumia's innocence comes from the 1999 testimony of Arnold Beverly in which he claims to be the real shooter. He claims that he was hired by the local mafia to kill Officer Faulkner for his interference with their drug dealings. While on its face, the testimony seems exculpatory, any digging below the surface reveals a blatant, desperate lie. None of what Arnold Beverly claims can be supported by the evidence or the sworn testimonies of any of the witnesses present, including Mumia and his brother. Mumia's own defense attorney Daniel R. Williams called the testimony "insane", "absurd", "outrageous" and ultimately a "lie". (Dan Williams, Esq., "Executing Justice" (St. Martin's Press, 2001), pp. 328-330.)

The Arnold Beverly testimony created a rift between the four member defense team handling Mumia's case, with two lawyers not wanting to participate in the ruse they called "assisted suicide" and two other lawyers desperate enough to try anything. In the end, Mumia broke the tie and decided NOT to use Arnold Beverly's confession in his 1999 appeal. How can Beverly's claim have any credibility when Mumia himself does not believe it? This simple fact has not stopped every Mumia supporter from trotting out the Beverly confession as though it were the gospel truth.

In 2001, Mumia changed his mind and attempted to bring the Beverly confession into court, but because he had known about the confession for over a year and not used it in court for his defense, legally the confession was inadmissible. Which is almost a shame, considering Beverly claims to have shot Faulkner with a .38 caliber revolver, apparently unaware that Mumia has been trying to pass off the .44 caliber lie for quite some time. Consistency, it seems, has never been team Mumia's forte.

Nothing, in fact, has more haunted Mumia's defense than its own incompetent inconsistency. It has never offered a logical explanation for the events of that fateful night that does not include Mumia shooting the officer. For years they have hung their hat on a "running man" theory expect none of their witnesses can agree on which way he ran, and none of them actually claim to have seen him do the shooting.

Furthermore, they have never offered an explanation for how Mumia ended up with Officer Faulkner's bullet in his belly. One defense witness, William Singletary ,claims Mumia was shot by Officer Faulkner after he already had a bullet in his brain. Mumia claims he was shot by Faulkner first, and then he sort of passed out until police arrived. Arnold Beverly claims that Mumia was shot by another police officer who responded to the Officer Faulkner shooting.

When facts and logic evade them, all Mumia supporters can rely are emotive claims of injustice, their favorite being that Mumia is the victim of racial prejudice. Sadly enough they are right, only not in the way they intended.

Stay tuned for part two. Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel!

(For more information on the details of the case, I suggest going to Mumia.org and danielfaulkner.com to see both sides of the case. While you are at it, here is a fun game to play. One website includes blanket assertions with no back up data and the other side includes well researched and documented facts. Bet you can't guess which side is which?)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hire Education

Confession time. First: I have a secret crush on Reba Mcentire. Ever since I saw her use an elephant gun to blow holes in a giant worm in the movie Tremors I have always gotten a little blush at the mere mention of her name. Ladies, in case you are wondering, the true way to mans heart is through the barrel of his gun.

Second: I think College education, as it is done today, is a scam.

This does not mean that I am advocating that current students should quit school and waste away their lives playing video games in mom's basement. I am simply stating that the college education we our receiving today is not worth the money we are putting into it and it needs to change.

Over the last fifty years, the price of college education has increased at almost double the cost of inflation. The average college graduate now finishes school with $20,000 in student loans, a 58% increase since 1993. Despite- or as I would argue, because of- government student aid, a college degree has never cost more.

Why do we go to college in the first place? Forget all the lofty ideas of broadening your horizons, developing your mind and diversifying your experiences. We go to college for one reason and one reason only: to get a job.

Unfortunately, modern halls of scholastic achievement have forgotten their role in preparing the modern workforce. Perhaps it is because educators, protected by the umbrella of tenure, have forgotten the need to compete. Regardless of the reasons, colleges fail to provide their students with the competitive advantage they think they are buying when they fork over $20,000 a semester for a degree. In the current marketplace, landing what we perceive as a good job without a college degree is virtually impossible. However, so many people are going to college that the value of a degree seems little more than the paper it is printed on. It is sad to say that a college degree has never been worth more and worth less than it is today.

The fundamental flaw in college lies with the curriculum. We still continue to utilize an outdated model of education that requires just as many general education classes as major specific classes. Thus our students are spending upwards of 50% of their money and 50% of their time on courses that have nothing to do with their major and, ultimately, their future career.

I knew going into college that I was never going to be a doctor, scientist, historian or art critic. Yet how many hours did I waste away learning the difference between the nucleus and the mitochondria, metamorphic rocks and igneous rocks, baroque and neo-classic architecture. While this may help me sound smarter at a cocktail party, it does not help me with my job.

This is not to say I advocate obliterating general education courses as a whole, but the hour requirements should be trimmed and their focus should be narrowed to practical skills and knowledge that we all need to function in modern society.

In practice this means we need courses that focus more on our Constitution and form of government so each student knows their role in our democratic process. Our English courses should not waste so much time on literature and put more emphasis on technical writing. The writing skills of our students have never been as bad as they are today, yet our colleges continue to waste valuable teaching time on The Odyssey and The Iliad, when what are students really need are courses on verbs, adverbs, commas and semicolons.

Additionally, our schools need to provide students with at least one business writing course that teaches them the basics of memo and resume writing. The key to getting and maintaining any job is your business writing abilities. No matter your degree or where you went to school, if your resume is not professional and polished, you might as well have a degree in underwater basket weaving from the University of the Interwebs.

I do all of the hiring for my office and I can tell you that less than 5% of the resumes that come across my desk could even be classified as "good." Less than 2 out of 100 are excellent. I would say a full 50% are embarrassingly awful. These contain everything from obvious formatting errors to grammatical mistakes a kindergartener could catch. Despite the fact that every person in HR will tell you this same thing, most schools do nothing about it.

Our Universities also need to provide their students with coursework in basic personal finance. Much of our current economic woes can be traced back to the fact that the majority of Americans, including college graduates, do not understand the magnifying power of compound interest. If the housing market has proved anything it is that we, as a society, are financially illiterate. Our Universities must do more to provide the financial information that our media and our K-12 education is not.

Part of reforming the education process means reforming our views on blue-collar work as well. As a society, we tend to consider blue-collar work as something of less value. However, many blue-collar jobs, such as a plumber, carpenter or a machinist, can provide an excellent quality of life for those who pursue them. Less than half of those who enter college will graduate. How many of these college drop outs would have been better off if we had pointed them to blue-collar vocational schools in the first place. Unfortunately, too many modern parents consider themselves a failure if their children become anything less than a lawyer or a doctor. This is a fundamental paradigm shift that we need to accept. We need blue-collar workers and we should be proud of anyone who pursues technical knowledge in a blue-collar skill or trade.

It is truly ironic that blue-collar vocational schools could teach modern universities a thing or two about education. Vocational schools don't waste any time on fringe knowledge. They provide hands on learning and provide the skill set their students need to succeed, nothing more and nothing less, all in about two years. Why do our Journalists need four years of education? Considering what passes as objective news these days, all it really takes to be a successful journalist is a lifetime membership in the Democratic Party and a thorough understanding of the Communist Manifesto. In reality, everything you need to know to be a successful journalist could easily be taught in a one-year vocational school and a one-year internship. This same methodology could be applied to a whole host of professions that now require four years of schooling despite only needing one year to learn the basic skills of the profession.

Considering a University's primary purpose is to make people employable, it is down right criminal that schools allow their students to graduate in anything that does not have obvious employment opportunities. Any school that charges as much for a degree in Feminist Studies or Philosophy that it charges for Business or Computer Science should be sued for fraud. If every time you tell people what you are majoring in and they ask "oh, that's nice, what do you plan on doing with that," you can consider yourself robbed.

My feelings towards college as a whole may come as a surprise to many of you, considering I have a Bachelors in Public Relations and a Master of Public Administration. However, I was smart enough to choose to go to Brigham Young University, a school that emphasizes the practical while at the same time being incredibly affordable. My graduate school (The Marriott School) is in the top twenty nationally (according to Forbes) yet it has a tuition about 1/10 of what you would pay elsewhere. In fact, the total student debt I racked up for my wife's degree and my two degrees is less than what most students pay for one year of undergrad. Simply put, my education is worth what I spent for it. It has provided me with a great job while helping me avoid crippling student loans.

Unfortunately, people in my same station in life will become increasingly rare as the cost of a college education continues to increase at the same rate the quality of college education decreases.

Ultimately, when considering the value of college education, we need to remember that it was not a college stiff with a degree in Latin American studies who saved us from the alien earth-worm invasion. It was an uneducated red-head with an elephant gun.