Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tancredo was right; threaten the mosques

Leonard Pitts, of the Miami Herald, is one of the finest columnists in America. He offers a moderate view on most social and political issues with an eloquence I can only hope to emulate here.
But he's dead wrong in criticizing Tom Tancredo.
Tancredo is a Republican representative from Colorado, who said on a radio talk show the other day that the United States should destroy Muslim holy sites if terrorists were to ever detonate a nuclear device in our country.
Pitts called Tancredo a "yahooist" and asked rhetorically why such wacky ideas seem to be permeating the most influential echelons of our government. But here's the thing:
Tancredo was right on.
There is one thing Muslim extremists understand, and it's not the value of human life or any material possessions. It's their religion and everything associated with it, which includes a glorious martyrdom for those who die in the name of Allah. Look no further than the flap surrounding alleged desecration of the Quran at Guantanamo Bay to see how seriously Muslims take their religious symbols; the riots that ensued from that Newsweek report resulted in numerous deaths in Muslim countries.
Terrorists have made it clear that they will target anyone they feel is collaborating with the U.S. infidels. That's included countless civilians - which, incidentally, is my personal delineation between a terrorist and a freedom fighter: one targets the military via stealthy, guerilla warfare; the other targets civilians in the hopes it can confound and frighten the populace into pressuring the enemy government into acquiesence.
The attacks on our World Trade Center and Pentagon - and the aborted attack that ended in the Pennsylvania field - are evidence that these Islamo-fascists will not hesitate to inflict maximum damage on us. It's not a stretch to imagine they would detonate a nuclear device in the heart of New York City if given the chance. This would vaporize millions of people in seconds.
Millions of people. In seconds.
These are people who believe virgins await them if they die in the name of Allah. They celebrate death by welcoming their own. The only thing we can threaten them with is the destruction of all they consider holy if - and ONLY IF - they detonate a nuclear warhead in America or anywhere.
America is still learning how to fight by the terrorists' rules - which is something the Brits probably wish they'd done in the American Revolution, but I digress - though I think we're coming around. But if they nuke us, thereby taking away so much that we hold dear, we should not - and CANNOT - fail to respond in kind.
It's a truly frightening prospect, but this threat - and even the possible return to a whole new incarnation of the Cold War - could be the only thing that prevents Mutually Assured Destruction.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

It's a good thing Natalee Holloway was pretty

Sammy Kershaw has a country song called, "She don't know she's beautiful", and it's likely Natalee Holloway doesn't have any idea of the fuss surrounding her disappearance.
For those of you who have recently awakened from a long coma, Holloway is the 18-year-old blond bombshell from Alabama who got drunk with some friends while on a senior trip to Aruba in May, got into a car with some foreign strangers, and (shock of shocks) has been missing ever since.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children claims that 2,000 children are reported missing every day (www.safefoundation.com/fbi_missing_kids.htm, www.missingkids.com/). Holloway's been missing since May 30, so on average that's about 100,000 children (NOT COUNTING ADULTS!) who've been REPORTED missing since Holloway.
Karl Rove and Bush's Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts, have thankfully crept into the headlines. But prior to the events that put them in the spotlight, Fox News Channel's prime-time news commentary shows were devoting up to 40 minutes a night to this young lady.
Natalee Holloway. Elizabeth Smart (Utah girl whose parents hired a vagrant off the street who eventually kidnapped their daughter). Jessica Lunsford (Florida girl later found to have been buried alive by a convicted sex offender). Notice anything about those three headline-grabbers? Color me cynical, but they're all attractive, young white females. And when someone actually posed this question to Sean Hannity on "Hannity & Colmes" recently, he actually had the gall to reply that they were simply giving the public what it wanted.
They CREATED this market by turning Holloway into a pseudo-celebrity, just like they did with the other pretty white girls. According to the NCMEC, in 1999, there were 797,500 children reported missing. That's 2,185 a day! Two thousand other children have gone missing EVERY DAY since Holloway, and the media have the audacity to think Holloway warrants more than a footnote? Each of these prime-time "news" shows could devote one segment to missing children every night and NEVER have to repeat material.
Sometimes I think they should have a missing-children channel on cable, which would cycle pictures of adults and children along with some basic information on them. They could divide the country into regions to help pare down the sheer volume of data that is probably out there.
I don't have children, but if I do, I hope they're beautiful so the media will care enough to plaster their picture all over TV if they ever go missing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Country ain't country no more

Terri Clark is ruined for me.
I like a lot of the Canadian country star's singles, so naturally I downloaded many of them ... err, you know, just so I can see if I like them and go out and actually BUY the CDs. Well, I got to "I Wanna Do It All" and discovered it was a little different from the version I'd originally heard on the radio here. The lyric to which I'd grown accustomed went, "I wanna do it all/visit Paris in the fall/watch the Packers play ball/I wanna take it all in ..."
I thought, "How cool. She chose this small, semi-rural city from the Midwest and attached herself to its football team and its Southern quarterback, Brett Favre." I thought perhaps it was a type of self-branding, like hip-hop artists who talk about Islam or gold Caddies in Compton.
But the version I'd downloaded had "Yankees" where my "Packers" should've been.
So I looked around online and felt betrayed when I stumbled across this guy's list:

1) Watch the Gators play ball,
2) Watch the O's play ball,
3) Watch the Ravens play ball,
4) Watch the Packers play ball,
5) Watch the Browns play ball,
6) Watch the Rams play ball, and
7) Watch the Yankees play ball. (These are the lyrics listed on Clark's Web site.)

That's not including the "Start a NASCAR tradition y'all" lyric he said he'd heard while in Virginia. That's when it hit me:
My girl had betrayed me.
Her mention of the Packers wasn't an homage to this smalltown team at all; rather it was part of a large scheme to artificially cozy up to various parts of the country. While one could make the argument that she's just trying to cater to the hometown crowd, like when they say "Thank you Wichita, you're our favorite place to play in the whole world!"
I disagree. It's as much false advertising as fake boobs. I don't buy concert tickets just to hear the band suck up to my town. I know they say it wherever they go (I've never been to a concert where the band said "Thank you Milwaukee! You rock almost as much as Wichita!"), but when I buy a CD, I expect the lyrics to be the same as the ones that drew me to the song in the first place.
This lyric-swap is a cheap way for Clark to whore herself to the machine that has consumed REAL country music. Travis Tritt called it when, back in the early '90s, he said Billy Ray Cyrus had turned country music into an "ass-shaking contest." Cyrus' popularity, along with Garth Brooks', have done just that by leading us to the Shania Twains and Faith Hills, who are country because ... why exactly? Because they say they are?
The thing is, Clark isn't the only one who's done it. Buddy Jewell had a song out about a year or so ago called, "Sweet Southern Comfort". It's a beautiful little memoir of his (alleged) childhood in the Deep South. It conjures up images of misty mornings over cotton fields, old men playing checkers at a general store, and even young love on a front porch. And in one line of the chorus, near the end, he says "All the way/to Green Bay/go Pack go!"
I swear I heard this, numerous times in fact. But I can't find any mention of that version online anywhere, and the version of his song that I downloaded ... errr, Beta-tested, as well as the lyrics as listed at official sites, make no mention of Green Bay.
I wonder how long this practice has been in existence, and how far it will go. With today's advances in digital media, will artists eventually invite listeners to insert their own names into their songs?
This disingenuous pandering has sucked the last portions of soul from the cadaver of country music and could do the same with all forms of entertainment; at least the ones that haven't already been stained by "American Idol".

Monday, July 18, 2005

Welcome to the century

So this is a blog. Interesting. ... Not really. What the hell am I going to say that could interest ANYone else besides me? Imagine the irony, especially for a former newspaper person such as myself; unlimited space and unimaginable potential. All of which could very well go completely unrealized.