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Archives-- Installments for  March 11, 2005, through 20, 2005, starting below in reverse chronological order.



March 17, 2005--

Major League Baseball-- Congressional hearings, chemical steroids, political steroids, moral steroids, Mark McGuire, Curt Schilling, Jose Canseco, and so-on.

            In baseball, as in life, too few of us (i.e., we, not just they) live up the the standards we want for those who serve (wittingly or not) as "role models" for our children.  Some of us try harder than others, but all of us fail.  Some famous athletes (and most "celebrities") complain that it's "not fair" to demand that they behave as "role models."  Life's not fair, and such complaint falls like a whimpering whisper on the drums of my hears hardened by the roar of self-indulgent, narcissistic celebrity.  

            Too few great athletes exhibit great moral responsibility on a par with their athletic prowess.  For me, Cal Ripken represents the Gold Standard.  If there are "moral steroids," he must have taken them.  We can't expect everyone to be "Cal Ripken," but we can expect, and should demand (as consumers) that those to whose athletic prowess or celebrity status we pay financial homage are at least trying not to offend our values.

            Are there many who fail to sink to the lowest standards?  Of course.  It's unjustifiable to imply that "most" baseball players (or most professional athletes) use steroids, commit crimes, or behave in other forms of patently offensive conduct.  However, it is fair to judge the rest by how, and to what extent, they use their own celebrity to combat the abuses by others of the privileges celebrity brings.   

            Everyone hates lawyers (of which I am one)-- what everyone really does is hate everyone else's lawyer but not his own.  (This is only a mild exaggeration.)  I concede also that in too many respects on too many occasions, some us who occasionally achieve a platform larger than an individual case behave in ways that deserve reprobation rather than approbation.  However (this may shock you), among all the "self-governing" professions, the legal profession is light-years ahead of the others.  What makes the system work is that the vast majority of lawyers understand that one of the ways that good men (calm down PC people-- I mean "men" in the sense of "mankind" or, if you insist "humankind.") distinguish themselves from bad men is by their willingness to separate themselves from the bad.  In the legal profession, it's called "disbarment."  

            If professional sports want to regain public respect (and there's doubt they would prefer that over profits-- and I'm no anti-capitalist), then those who value such respect must begin separating themselves from those who lack such values.  So what if the short-term consequences are a worse season.  Would it be a challenge?  Was it a challenge to storm the beaches at Normandy?  Is anything that's really worth doing not a challenge?  

            Paradoxically, the congressional hearing today reminds one that politicians as a group tend as much as, if not more than, other groups to fall far below the standards of behavior they so pontifically demand of others.  Yet an important function of politicians is to use "the bully pulpit" in the arena of public morality.  I must concede that listening to Henry Waxman produces such a strong gag reflex that it requires extraordinary self-discipline to concede the rare occasions (like a broken clock twice a day) when what he says is at least partly right (or at least not patently ridiculous).  Yet the real solution is not within the grasp or power of politicians.

            What's the real solution to such problems?  The problem is not solely in "them"-- it's in us.  Until we as a society begin refusing to pay financial homage to those who offend our standards (i.e., until we stop automatically watching their games, going to their movies, listening to their music, etc.), all the regulation in the world will do nothing more than change the location through which the bad behavior will seep through the capillary effects of economic power.  That we as consumers demand higher standards by refusing to patronize those who offend such standards is necessary to stiffen the spines of those who are in a position to cull the bad from the good.

--Jim Wrenn, Editor at PoliSat.Com.



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Mar. 17, 2005 #01 Daily Update at PoliSat.Com, where satire is always commentary, but commentary isn't always satire.™

Title:  Moral Steroids.

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March 15, 2005--

News at a glance-- WorldCom, Bernie Ebers, AARP, Social Security, Italian forces in Iraq, gay marriage, heterosexual marriage, and cults of celebrity and tabloidism. 

            In the world of fraud, former WorldCom chief, Bernie Ebbers, faces the prospect of life imprisonment for involvement in a huge fraud that's nevertheless small compared to the kind of fraud for which politicians have gotten perpetual incumbency-- i.e., the Social Security Pyramid Scheme-- and for which the AARP collects "dues" from Aging Americans Ravaging Posterity to perpetuate that Pyramid Scheme.  The only difference between Ebbers and the politicians (and AARP "leaders") who've made a career out of promoting the Social Security Pyramid Scheme as though it were a sound program is that the politicians will be out of office (or dead) when their victims are left holding the bag, but Bernie wasn't as clever-- he left people holding the bag in real time rather than setting a financial time bomb for posterity. 

            On the foreign-policy stage, Italy now plans to begin withdrawing forces from Iraq for what was, at worst, a friendly-fire mistake, but at least the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has added the qualification that his government will set the timing for such withdrawal in part on the degree of progress in the ability of Iraqi forces to handle their own security.  

            Regarding social policy and constitutional law:  A judge in California (Where else other than Massachussetts?) rules there is no "rational basis" for laws granting preferential status to heterosexual marriage between one man and one woman vis-a-vis "civil unions" for same-sex couples, yet, ostensibly, he also ostensibly would rule that there are "rational" bases for denying such preferential status to polygamy, bigamy and incestuous unions between non-fertile relatives.  While religious fundamentalists muddy the common-sense water with what are essentially theological arguments, Secular Fundamentalists ignore common sense in a knee-jerk, anti-theological reaction that blinds them to the rational, non-theological bases upon which a society can rationally, sensibly and constitutionally accord preferential treatment to heterosexual marriage between a man and a woman (and should do so).  See Devolution Versus Evolution and Quantum Marriage.   Secular Fundamentalists would rather be wrong than in agreement with people of faith even when non-theological reasoning supports a particular position asserted (by people of faith) on the basis of theological beliefs.

            Regarding the news media:  Apparently so many viewers of "news channels" are so captivated by the cult of celebrity and sensationalism that "news channels" accord "news" coverage to things such as the Michael Jackson case vastly out of proportion to coverage accorded to issues that really matter in the long run.  It's easy to mock the "news channels" for appealing to the tabloid mentality (or prurient interests) to maintain viewer-ship, but  As Pogo once said, "We've met the enemy and he is us" (a pun that caricatured the military phrase, "We've met the enemy and he is ours" as in "we've defeated the enemy").  However, I do my part by changing channels (or turning off the television) when "news" programs focus on such stuff.  (Is limited information about criminal trials such as the one against Jackson "newsworthy"?  Of course, but not beyond very brief reports.  There's too much "sporting event" type coverage that serves as infomercials for lawyer as "commentators" on such "news" programs.)  Fox News made history by making itself a leftist-bias-free zone.  Perhaps a new news network could make history as a "tabloid-free/celebrity-free" zone, but not unless the apparent viewing tastes of millions of viewers were to change-- hence, back to Pogo and the Victorious Secrets News Network.

--Jim Wrenn, Editor at PoliSat.Com.



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Mar. 15, 2005 #01 Daily Update at PoliSat.Com, where satire is always commentary, but commentary isn't always satire.™

Title:  Bernie Ebbers Demands Equal Treatment.

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March 14, 2005--

Lebanon plays Lebanese Poker against Hezbollah and Syria's Bashar Assad; See, raise and call-- 15,000 to 50,000 to 500,000 to 800,000.

            How did the Lebanese respond to the Syrian/Hezbollah demonstration amassing 500,000 people in response the initial anti-Syrian demonstration of approximately 50,000They responded with an anti-Syrian demonstration of 800,000 people.  

            Who knows how many of those participating in the pro-Syrian demonstration were sincerely pro-Syrian and how many were about as sincere as the crowds orchestrated by Saddam Hussein before he was toppled.  Given the dependence of Hezbollah upon Syria and Iran, one has to suspect that a significant portion of those 500,000 participated out of fear or for pecuniary motives, but there can be little doubt that at least several hundred thousand of those people are either sympathetic to, or fanatical supporters of, Hezbollah.  That's rather depressing.

            In contrast, however, the subsequent anti-Syrian demonstration by 800,000 rekindled the hopes that the massive pro-Syrian demonstration attempted to extinguish.  There can be little doubt that all but a tiny percentage of those demonstrators were motivated by factors other than a desire for Syria to cease its de-facto rule of Lebanon. 

            This is high-stakes poker, and neither the 800,00 nor at least several hundred thousand among the 500,000 are bluffing.  Sounds like the formula for a civil war.  Such were the fears in the Ukraine, where, fortunately, civil war has not erupted.  However, Lebanon has a long history of civil war.  That many of the factions that were at war with one another are now united in their opposition to Syrian control is encouraging, but the fact that the Hezbollah and the Syrians can mount such a large pro-Syria demonstration is troubling indeed.

            What choices do civilized people have when confronted with fanatical terrorists in their midst?  What choices do cancer patients have?  Is it better to live passively in a neighborhood controlled by The Mob or is it better to risk death or injury in an effort to defeat The Mob for the benefit of civilized posterity?  Will Europe have the will to support the threat, or infliction, of enough pain on Syria to force it to abandon its covert support of Hezbollah (in collaboration with Iran)?  Is the eye-doctor ruler of Syria near-sighted, far-sighted or blind?  He says he's "no Saddam Hussein," but if he were to really want to send a "signal" to the West, he should show that he's "no Hafez Assad."  The latter seems unlikely since apples rarely fall far from the tree.

--Jim Wrenn, Editor at PoliSat.Com.



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Mar. 14, 2005 #01 Daily Update at PoliSat.Com, where satire is always commentary, but commentary isn't always satire.™

Title:  Lebanese Poker.

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March 13, 2005--

Commentary-- Victims of Brian Nichols in Atlanta on March 11, 2005, were also victims of Political Correctness.

            A strong, powerful NFL fullback can have the ball stripped from his grip by an aggressive tackler.  Does that mean that NFL teams ought to consider diminutive grandmothers as fullbacks?  That's the essence of the politically-correct argument that women are "equal" to men for assignments in which brute force, though not a guarantee of success, dramatically increases the odds of success.  Not all criminals are intimidated by a law enforcement officer whose size, build and demeanor convey an ability to apply force quickly and effectively, but does that mean, therefore, that such characteristics should not be considered vital to increase rather than decrease the odds for violent criminals to be intimidated by officers whose jobs often require the ability to intimidate potentially violent people?    

            What sane person not blinded by political correctness would argue that it made sense to allow (much less require) a diminutive grandmother with a holstered, loaded pistol to be in close proximity to-- much less being a lone "guard" for-- a 6'-1" 200-pound man being tried on charges for violent criminal offenses?   Would it have made sense even if she were to have not had a pistol?  What about the risks that a violent person might attack her in an effort to use her as a "hostage" for an escape plan?  

            To raise these questions is not to make light of the brutal injuries sustained by the grandmother assigned to "guard" Brian Nichols in the holding cell for criminal defendants in the courthouse in Atlanta on March 11, 2005, or to make light of her courage (but certainly not good judgment) in accepting such assignment or to make light of the ensuing deaths.  Sensible people are asking these questions out of sheer common sense.

            The same politically-correct crowd that screams about virtually negligible increases in "risks" posed by fatty foods, medicinal side-effects, "second-hand" smoke, etc. willingly choose to be blind to the common-sense fact that with respect to the kinds of tasks for which brute force can dramatically increase the chances of success and dramatically decrease the risks of disaster (i.e., police work, fire-fighting, soldiering, playing in the NFL, etc.), to assign women to such tasks is to invite disaster.  Being equal under the law is not the same as being equivalent in the real world-- especially in environs populated by violent criminals and ruthless adversaries.

--Jim Wrenn, Editor at PoliSat.Com.

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Mar. 13, 2005 #01 Daily Update at PoliSat.Com, where satire is always commentary, but commentary isn't always satire.™

Title:  Victims of PC.

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