Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 5:36 AM
Throughout August, I watched in utter stupefaction as grownups, displaying a perverse mix of ignorance and arrogance, turned Town Hall meetings on health care reform into schoolyard rows.
Therefore, I’m not at all surprised that these same grownups have now turned a “back to school speech” by President Obama (scheduled for later today) into an Orwellian ploy to brainwash their kids: supposedly, to make them adopt his socialist ideology and worship his cult of personality.
Actually, to listen to some of their protestations, you’d think Obama was some notorious pedophile scheming to lecture their children on the pleasures of sodomy.
Meanwhile, these parents seem blissfully ignorant of the fact that shielding their kids from differing (and invariably more informed) points of view will only retard their intellectual development.
But it’s an indication of the woeful state of politics in America today that Obama has reacted to these fulminating idiots as if their inane, if not insane, protests make sense. Specifically, the White House released the president’s speech a day early (i.e., yesterday) so that parents can decide whether it’s appropriate for their children to hear.
Not surprisingly, it emphasizes the very principles of hard work, personal responsibility and civic duty that many of those objecting to the speech purportedly espouse. Obama even instructs schoolchildren to wash their hands to help the nation combat the looming epidemic of swine flu.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country….
(From President Obama’s speech to schoolchildren)
Let me hasten to concede, however, that perverting public discourse in this manner is nothing new. In fact, it smacks of patented hypocrisy that liberals are now condemning conservatives for raising partisan objections even though they did the same when President George H. W. Bush scheduled a similar speech in 1991.
Nevertheless, to make it a settled precedent that any president must seek parental approval before he can address schoolchildren is plainly untenable and unsustainable.
Therefore, instead of following pied pipers (like radio talking head Rush Limbaugh) in stoking partisan rage against any presidential initiative – no matter how salutary, it behooves mainstream leaders from both sides of the political divide to confront and marginalize them.
Of course, this is not to say that I think the president should be a role model – like parents (not celebrities) should be, or a moral leader – like pastors, priests, rabbis and imams should be.
But frankly, schoolchildren should be taught to listen to the president even when he says things that cause their parents to go berserk. And this should be the case if only to instill in them a sense of civic pride and due respect for the president – no matter who he or she is. After all, the person who holds this office is the only animate symbol of national unity.
In any event, if this belligerent and factional trend continues, the US president will become nothing more than a boogeyman for political opportunists.
Not to mention that it could lead to there being little difference between Republicans and Democrats in America and Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq.
NOTE: You can read the full text here
Monday, September 7, 2009 at 6:19 AM
Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 7:07 AM
Friday, September 4, 2009 at 5:10 AM
A few weeks ago, I wrote a commentary in support of proposed legislation in The Bahamas – my country of birth – banning marital rape. And even though I knew religious zealots there would raise holy hell against this legislation, I thought citing the fact that virtually every civilized country in the world has criminalized marital rape would give them pause. Alas, it did not.
Here, in part, is what I wrote:
This proposed legislation has incited such widespread moral condemnation that one might think Bahamians were living in a Taliban paradise. Indeed, this condemnation exposes the fact that Christian fundamentalists, in many respects, are every bit as fanatical as Islamic fundamentalists…
[O]pposition to this proposed ban on marital rape is being stirred up primarily by religious leaders. And these are invariably men who proselytize the doctrinaire belief that a man has a God-given right to have sex with his wife whenever he wants it… even against her will.
[Banning marital rape in The Bahamas, TIJ, August 14, 2009]
It wasn’t long before self-professed Christians were damning me to hell. But the visceral and puerile nature of their attacks was such that the only appropriate response seemed to be:
Sticks and stones might break my bones, but words could never hurt me.
Perversely, my indignation turned into comic relief when their attacks became personal. I found it laughable, for example, when they asserted that my Daddy, who was a fairly well-known and revered preacher man, “must be rolling over in his grave.”
The reason this is such a joke is that no less a person than Bishop Dr Joseph L. Hall JP, my brother and (sole) heir to our Daddy’s religious calling, supports every word in my supposedly “wicked” commentary.
Moreover, I was heartened to read in The Tribune this week that even the Pope believes that it’s an abomination against God for a husband to force his wife to have sex against her will. Specifically, Archbishop Patrick Pinder (of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands) reportedly offered the Catholic Church’s “prayerful support” of this proposed ban on marital rape.
Of course, given historical tensions, the Protestant Church leaders who oppose it will probably dismiss the Catholic Church’s support as borne more of Papal mischief than divine inspiration.
All the same, I am more hopeful than ever that the Bahamian government will enact this legislation in due course.
The Free National Movement [FNM] is grateful and delighted for the declaration by Archbishop Patrick Pinder that the Roman Catholic Church is in full support of the government’s proposed amendment to the Sexual Offences Act which would outlaw marital rape in the Bahamas.
In point of fact, the proposed amendment reflects precisely the party’s long tradition of defence, honour, respect, dignity, and upliftment of Bahamian women.
(Chairman of the ruling FNM, Senator Johnley Ferguson)
Banning marital rape…
Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 5:46 AM
Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 5:43 AM
Wildfires are becoming as menacing to Western states, most notably California, as hurricanes have always been to Southern states, most notably Florida. Never mind that far too many of these fires are ignited not by Mother Nature, but by human beings.
Of course I always feel sympathy for those who lose their homes, to say nothing of the firefighters who lose their lives. But it’s becoming somewhat contrived to publish new commentaries on these annual outbreaks; a contrivance, incidentally, that is epitomized by cable news stations that cover these fires each year with Armageddon-like enthusiasm….
Therefore, I shall suffice to reprise the commentary I wrote last year as wildfires were engulfing hundreds of homes and ravaging thousands of acres in California; especially since all of the collateral issues involved are the same as they were last year.
California burning … again
[N]o region has been more affected by the synergistic fallout from plummeting real estate values and subprime mortgages [than California]. But these “apocalyptic” fires will provide an expedient pretext for hundreds, if not thousands, of homeowners – who were facing imminent foreclosure on their McMansions – to simply walk away from the charred remains by blaming force majeure; i.e., an act of God!
[California’s fiery Katrina, The iPINIONS Journal, October 25, 2007]
Well, it’s deja vu all over again – as apocalyptic fires have returned to California.
No doubt you’ve heard about celebrities like Oprah Winfrey watching helplessly as temperamental fires threaten to burn their homes in the wealthy California enclave of Montecito to the ground.
But it is worth noting that the vast majority of the more than 800 homes that have already been destroyed belong to ordinary people in far less affluent neighborhoods.
We have never lost in recent times anything close to this number [of homes]. (Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa)
Therefore, whatever indifference (or schadenfreude) it evokes in you to see obscenely rich folks lose some of their material possessions, please bear in mind that it’s relatively poor folks who are losing everything they own….
My prayers are with all those who have been affected as well as those who remain in harm’s way….
November 17, 2008
According to the Associated Press, this year’s wildfire has killed two firefighters, destroyed over 53 homes and is threatening thousands more; and, despite herculean efforts, it’s only 5 percent contained.
God help them…
California’s fiery Katrina…
Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 5:43 AM
Why are men’s muscles so much bigger than women’s? Partly, of course, because men do the fighting and hunting. But also, perhaps, because women like men who can do these things well, and are thus attracted to muscular men…
The more muscular a man, the more sexual partners he reported, both in the past year and over his lifetime, and the earlier his first sexual experience was likely to have been. This may, in part, be a result of the ability of muscular men to intimidate 97lb weaklings…
[P]revious studies have confirmed scientifically the everyday observation that women do indeed prefer men with big biceps and triangular torsos.
Indeed, this is the not so revolutionary finding of a National Health and Nutrition Survey that followed 12,000 men and women over the course of six years.
I was rather amused to read a report on it in the current issue of the Economist under the titillating title, Sexual selection in humans.
But I thought the report was undermined somewhat by the fact that it featured a photo of Russian Premier Vladimir Putin … fly fishing. After all, if muscles were so determinative in this respect, why not feature a real muscleman like, say, Lou Ferrigno (aka The Incredible Hulk)?
The reason, of course, is that the study merely reflects atavistic sexual instinct. And no doubt it would be relevant if we were still living in the Stone Age, when women were dependent on strong men to fight to protect, and hunt to feed, them.
Today, however, when most women fantasize about a man to protect and feed them, a rich professional or a powerful politician – even if he can barely lift 97lbs – probably comes to mind. This, ironically, is why the picture of Putin, not Ferrigno, is so appropriate.
Indeed, what, if not money and (non-physical) power, do you think explains the phenomenon of beautiful women marrying scrawny men?!
This is why we would be far better advised to develop our minds to get rich like Bill Gates than to develop our bodies to get strong like Lou Ferrigno – as the report suggests. Of course, either way, if the goal is primarily to attract beautiful women, our souls (to say nothing of our hearts) are doomed.