Archive for April, 2007

Pictures from Iraq

Monday, April 30th, 2007

Michael Yon has a photo diary from Iraq. Please, please, go read it. Don’t get tired of this war, the people there fight for their very lives and future. It’s a worthy fight.

Reade Seligmann Writes

Monday, April 30th, 2007

Duke non-Rape survivor Reade Seligmann writes the blog-world via KC Johnson’s place. He thanks the bloggers, but then goes on to write about his new mission that he hopes bloggers will share:

You have all waged a war against prosecutorial misconduct and exposed Mike Nifong, Crystal Mangum, the Durham Police Department as well as all of the other peripheral characters involved. We must continue to fight for those who do not have a voice and will never have the opportunity to sit in front of a national audience to declare their innocence.

You have all done so much for our families and we can never truly express to you how thankful we are. Now is the time for you to put to use all of the same passion, thoughtfulness, and resolve you have demonstrated on our behalf and help others who are in much more helpless situations.

I can think of a couple cases, one in particular, that still has me upset. That is the case of the Texas border patrol agents tossed in prison for shooting a known illegal alien drug runner in the butt while he tried to flee the scene. He was given lifetime immunity to testify against the agents. And now, the agents (one who has already been abused) rot in federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison. And no, I’m not making light of this issue.

Beyond false prosecutions, police officer malfeasance, and trumped up charges, and don’t forget jury manipulation, the non-criminal must go to prison. Rape is an accepted part of prison in America. Those who hold the eye-for-an-eye mentality might think rape is a fair payment for crimes like rape and murder. But it’s not the most criminal who are on the receiving end of the abuse. It’s these guys according to Human Right’s Watch:

Certain prisoners are targeted for sexual exploitation the moment they enter a penal facility: their age, looks, sexual orientation, and other characteristics mark them as candidates for abuse. Human Rights Watch’s research revealed a broad range of factors that correlate with increased vulnerability to rape. These include youth, small size, and physical weakness; being white, gay, or a first offender; possessing “feminine” characteristics such as long hair or a high voice; being unassertive, unaggressive, shy, intellectual, not street-smart, or “passive”; or having been convicted of a sexual offense against a minor.

Imagine if the three innocent young men from Duke had ended up in prison. Is there any question what would happen to them?

It seems to me that the judicial system is upside down. With more laws on the books than ever before, few people can stay within the confines of the law. That is, if the government wants to nab a person for something, its representatives don’t have to work to hard to do it. The police have earned a reputation as evidence-planting, easily-bought bad guys themselves–even though I think that the vast majority of police officers do not deserve that reputation. Still, every case where the police act like those in Atlanta and Durham undermines them all. On to the District Attorneys running amok. If Tom DeLay can be taken down by a political hack, who isn’t vulnerable? And, of course, Nifong defines prosecutorial misconduct. Suppressing evidence, neglecting to interview the accuser, the list goes on and on. The problem is that no one believes he’s an American aberration. No, people fear that guys like him are all too common. North Carolina’s grand jury laws also defy explanation. Ronnie Earl would be in hog heaven in North Carolina. If the accused person can’t afford superlative attorneys like the Duke families could, he or she is in big trouble. All the DA needs is a jury filled with people of below-average I.Q. and the case is decided.

I worried about the Duke case going to trial. Even though the evidence clearly exonerated them, I wasn’t sure that a fair trial was even possible in a city so stoked by racial tension. The jury pool would be that majority who voted for Nifong, remember, even after all the evidence point to their innocence. The community (and the faculty of Duke) had a stake in Nifong being right. They look like fools if he’s wrong. Fools.

The American legal system’s parts and pieces make for a distressing picture taken together. Technology makes finding the truth easier, but it’s not iron-clad. Many cases are circumstantial and built around other evidence. Citizens have to trust the police integrity and the justice system’s judges and prosecutors. Seligmann is right. The bright light needs to continue to shine on cases like theirs. Guys like KC Johnson have revolutionized the way the justice system is covered. The bloggers, lead by Johnson, helped free innocent men. The major media largely bought the narrative and revealed their bias with a few notable exceptions. Unfortunately, there are more guys like the Duke players who struggle without an advocate. I’m glad Reade Seligmann found his calling. The world needs guys like him and Johnson.

Oh, and Reade, I am so happy for your mother. I hope all the parents get to take a long vacation after this abominable episode.

Ace High On The River Delivers A Royal Flush

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Almost a month ago now, we got together with the Pink Necks to play Texas Hold ‘Em. One of our friends and I share a couple disturbing traits:

  • We have received the same cards and split pots four times now (three times in one night).
  • We often play the same cards the same way.

This happened to dramatic effect that night. I got the 10 and Jack of spades. He got the Jack and 10 of clubs. On the flop, up came a 10. So we both paired up right away. I can’t remember now who bet first. Needless to say, the other called. Also in the flop, a 3 of spades for me and the Queen of clubs that could help on the way to a straight. So we both had the opportunity for a straight or flush draw.

Fourth card comes, it’s a King of clubs. I’m inwardly groaning and hoping that he doesn’t have clubs. I’m figuring him for a Jack and Ten, actually, which is what he had. I was just hoping it wasn’t clubs. Ofcourse, they were clubs. By this time though, I was too far in the money. A wiser person would have thrown in and not waited for a river card, but I couldn’t let them go.

Now, here’s where it got dramatic. We’re both all in and my bud says,”Come on, Ace of Clubs!” And guess what comes on the River? You see it for yourself.

It was a one in a million night. Actually, the odds for a Royal Flush are 1 in 649,740. But what are the odds that another person at the table is holding suited Jack and Ten as well?

Crazy. Fun.

Mental Illness In Children: Survey Reveals Adult Skepticism

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Do you believe children are overdiagnosed as hyperactive?
No free polls

New research about mental health and kids shows a skeptical public, but the study’s author feels that the skepticism is unjustified:

“The results show that people believe children will be affected negatively if they receive treatment for mental health problems,” says study author Bernice Pescosolido, director of the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research, in Bloomington.

Let’s see: you can’t serve in the military, many job’s rightfully explore the job-seeker’s mental health and a person who has suffered with mental illness since childhood would likely be excluded from a job, insurance rates would be higher (those with mental health issues use all health care services more) and the list goes on and on. It is deeply disingenuous of the doctors and psychologists to imply that there are no negative side affects from seeking mental health services (and claiming so on insurance).

Also disingenuous is this statement:

Normalizing these conditions would help too, Quinn says.

“We need to view depression and ADHD like we do allergies,” she says. “They are very treatable.”

No, mental illness is not “very treatable”. In fact, depression is very difficult to treat both in children and adults. In addition, many of the treatments have nary a study to document efficacy. There is so much unsubstantiated garbage passing as fact in the profession, that parents are often misled about treatments. (For more on this, read Destructive Trends in Mental Health–links below.)

Here are the results of the survey of 1300 American adults:

•85% of those interviewed believed that doctors overmedicate children with depression and ADHD and that drugs have long-term harm on a child’s development. More than half believed that psychiatric medications “turn kids into zombies.”

•40% of respondents thought children with depression would be dangerous to others; 31% believed children with ADHD would pose a danger.

•45% said rejection at school is likely if a child goes for treatment, and 43% believe that the stigma associated with seeking treatment would follow them into adulthood.

These results seem perfectly reasonable and rational to me.

Happy kids don’t look for their parent’s handguns, now do they? Happy kids don’t commit suicide. Happy kids don’t pick on other kids. Happy kids don’t kill cats or otherwise torture animals. Happy kids don’t self-mutilate. There are a whole host of things happy kids don’t do that depressed kids do.

I don’t know if the study’s authors have been in a Special Ed room lately, but the behavior kids invariably are diagnosed with ADHD and on some sort of medication. In my son’s class, Mr. ADHD was the one who attacked the teacher. Of course, not all hyper children are violent. And most hyper children shouldn’t be on Ritalin either. The fact that 90% of all the Ritalin in the world is taken by United States children should be a cause for concern among the mental health profession like it is the vast majority of American parents. Strangely, save for a few, most give out these stimulants more freely than your corner drug dealer.

This survey just proves to me how out-of-touch the mental health profession is with the real world. Reasonable people just don’t buy the professions pathologizing of normal kid behavior. Not to mention, this generation still remembers how effective a well-timed, and deserved, good whack on the rear was for reducing hyperactivity. A miracle cure. Instead, every out-of-control parent with every out-of-control child looks for medication to manage behavior.

In rare instances, there is a biophysiological reason for the problem, but my experience has been that diet changes and other life-style changes can go a long way to help most kids. Save the medication for the seriously disturbed children.

There would be more empathy for mental illness, if it didn’t seem like everyone, and so many children, were categorized as mentally ill these days.

Sheryl Crow, Bono and Sting Save The Planet By Giving Up Touring For Summer

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

It is absolutely true, almost. The Anchoress proposed a plan to save the world and the world’s most prominent musicians and entertainers decide to take her advice. Here’s just a bit:

Of course, that means less fun for all of us, but we should not be having fun when the world is going to end in thirty years, anyway. Canceling summer entertainment in all of its forms will deprive artists and corporations of hundreds of millions of dollars, and those economic losses will trickle down everywhere – to the stores, the restaurants, the hotels, the airlines…the loss of income will affect employment numbers, it will be felt by the vendors selling wares at concerts and even by the Indonesian sweatshops no longer engaged to create $40.00 tee shirts. You will feel the pinch, somehow, and so will I. But a “crisis” situation demands a “crisis” response, and if we suffer a little, at least we all suffer together.

But meanwhile, an entertainment-free summer may have conserved so much energy, that we might just be able to defeat the “man-made catastrophe” of global warming, in its entirety. And wouldn’t that just be something? C’mon, now – wouldn’t it all be worth it?

This summer will be the best ever. The world will last and we can thank the entertainment industry. Hallelujah!

Democrats Fight For Principle

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Imagine if the Democrats brought the same energy they bring to fighting the President to the real U.S. enemy. What a formidable United States we would have. They act as if there will be no consequences should their hoped-for actions become reality. Captain Ed quotes Joe Lieberman, the only Democrat Senator, who seems to understand the consequences:

When we say that U.S. troops shouldn’t be “policing a civil war,” that their operations should be restricted to this narrow list of missions, what does this actually mean?
To begin with, it means that our troops will not be allowed to protect the Iraqi people from the insurgents and militias who are trying to terrorize and kill them. Instead of restoring basic security, which General Petraeus has argued should be the central focus of any counterinsurgency campaign, it means our soldiers would instead be ordered, by force of this proposed law, not to stop the sectarian violence happening all around them—no matter how vicious or horrific it becomes.

In short, it means telling our troops to deliberately and consciously turn their backs on ethnic cleansing, to turn their backs on the slaughter of innocent civilians—men, women, and children singled out and killed on the basis of their religion alone. It means turning our backs on the policies that led us to intervene in the civil war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the principles that today lead many of us to call for intervention in Darfur.

This makes no moral sense at all.

It also makes no strategic or military sense either.

If Iraq wouldn’t be a bloodbath after a U.S. “redeployment” (surrender), I’d say that the President should mandate an immediate withdrawal of all troops right now. Call their bluff. Call a Press Conference and concede: while the United States has never lost a war except by choice, the Democrats have convinced me that the will of the American people is to withdraw troops now. Immediately. Harry Reid is right. The Senate Majority leader and all the other Democrats made me see the light. We are going to do it the Democrat’s way.

There would be a massacre. And the Democrats would blame Bush (because he wouldn’t do the withdrawal the right way, the way they would have done it, the President is a stupid rube, blah, blah, blah). And the Democrats would be okay with all this because they figure that a limbs-strewn Iraq would keep them in power in perpetuity. I figure they figure wrong. More attacks would happen in the United States and in other Western countries. Americans will die. The war, won’t be, as promised, over. The war will have only really begun. Weakness brings out the predators.

But being the short-sighted, expedient types, the Democrats wish to win only one war–against President Bush. The should be reminded that their enemy retires in a year and half.

Sex and the Single Girl

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

While everyone in media land discuss how rappers portray images of women, the unspoken, worst part is that the videos seem to represent how young women now view themselves. Girls dress like whores, talk like whores and act like whores, but most interestingly, don’t view themselves as whores. They have no shame.

Feminists applaud this development. A young woman isn’t viewed as a slut because she gets around, or maybe she is viewed that way, but she doesn’t view herself that way. She’s just doing what everyone says girls do now. If she feels bad about her sluttiness, she surpresses it. She shouldn’t feel bad, something must be wrong with her if she does.

I am absolutely dismayed right now. In fact, for three weeks I’ve been mulling the results of a survey I gave to 16 to 18 year old Christian girls at a Church Youth Conference. A little background: the church would be considered evangelical and fundamentalist in teaching with an open creed, but relatively conservative in practice. These are kids who have been taught that fornication is wrong. I’m not so naive to think that being taught it means practicing abstinance. Teens have been having sex since before rock-n-roll, but they knew full well they were playing with fire. Teens these days are just…..playing and suffering repeated burns.

These young women report this:

  • 2/3 knew about the Girls Next Door
  • 1/3 knew someone who had been raped or molested
  • 1/3 didn’t believe that oral sex was really sex (thanks Bill!)
  • 1/2 had posted sexy pictures of themselves on their MySpace account
  • nearly all knew someone who had had an abortion

It went on and on. One girl argued with me about oral sex being sex. She pressed her logic. I asked her if Jesus would consider her virginal on Judgement Day if she said that she “only had blowjobs and that’s not sex.”

While a lot of Christian girls pay lip service to “What would Jesus do?”. In real life, the question is “What would Britney do?” Yes, Britney Spears. And Paris. And Lindsey. Young women who dress and act like the women portrayed in those rapper’s videos. Exploiting themselves? They exploit their own sexuality and look like they’re coming unhinged doing it. (Rehab and divorce. DUI and sex tape. Rehab. Who knows how many STDs, abortions and failed relationships between them.)

While the girls are being absolutely saturated with the self-sexploitation message, their parents are contributing to the problem. The internet and television and movies and music ooze soul killing bacteria that must be beaten back but many parents seem to be stuck in la-la land where bad things don’t happen to or around their children. Essentially, they leave their children to navigate territory that they most likely never had to survive to reach adulthood and a healthy relationship. MTV started in the late 80’s. I was not exposed to a music video until I was 16. It was shocking then. It would be snickered at now. Videos these days are soft-porn disguised as music. See the above link. Parents need to wake up.

It is impossible to ensure that children will avoid the images, words, lyrics and messages piped into their minds. If I bumbled across a porn site while looking for a certain kind of Scottish tartan plaid, kids are certainly accidently or on-purpose finding porn. Doubt the influence? How many young girls now shave their pubic region to resemble little girls? How many girls take pictures of themselves and send them to their boyfriend? How many girls undress in front of their webcam for their boyfriend? Technology makes these kind of actions routine.

A parent being ignorant of the popular culture and the dangers of the web is derelict in his or her duty. Parents must know and they must have conversations with their children about what it all means. They must get over their own embarrassment about their own premarital sex. What teens deal with today, is not the average sex before marriage–one or two partners. Teens have “friends with benefits”, blow-jobs are not considered sex. Who, save the one girl who got it on with the whole football team (a very nice girl, actually, in my High School who ended up pregnant and another boy married her), gave out blow-jobs like candy? It’s different today.

Parents lose their moral authority, though, if they are doing things they ought not do. Affairs, divorce, smoking pot, porn addiction, substance abuse, kids know and kids scorn a parent who opinionate while carrying on like this. Worse, a plague of sexual abuse afflicts girls. Especially, the youth pastor told me, in the hispanic community. No one wants to turn an uncle or father in for their crimes. Crimes. Besides destroying a woman’s life-long sexuality by allowing the abuse to continue, the bigger crime is destroying her faith in all authority including God. It goes without saying that assaulting a child sexually is a sin. To condone and ignore the crime is a sin, too. Mothers who do this are aiding and abetting a criminal. This destroys the girl’s image of women and the church.

I thought, I hoped, that what we saw in our practice was an aberration, not indicative of societal trends. I hoped that our patients were only indicative of the types of people who suffer with chronic pain or other health issues as adults. That still may be true. But to have so many young girls admit knowing someone who had been molested (and 80-90% occurs within the family) makes me think that the problem is worse than even the statistics portray.

The sex act has been stripped of any spiritual meaning today. That is, people act as if sex is a recreational sport with no losers. But what has resulted is hardened hearts. First their broken and then rebroken and then the scars build up and eventually, the girl doesn’t think it matters anymore. At a Christian Youth Conference, I saw girls who had given up. Cynical about relationships in general and sex in particular–at 17.

Sex education programs teach a kid to put on a condom, give dry statistics about STDs, but how can they possibly counteract what kids are injesting and absorbing everywhere else? If parents refuse to see the dangerous, predator-infested waters their kids navigate and help them fight back, what chance will children have?

The church and families have become cowardly places where sin can’t be named. Our children are paying the price. There is a reason why God commanded His people to remain chaste before marriage and it wasn’t because He’s an out of touch other-worldly Ogre. God knows how powerful sex is and what a force for good it can be in a relationship built to last forever. Outside the protective confines of marriage, sex causes untold grief. And then, when the people eventually marry, they bring all their grief to the one relationship they really want to succeed.

We need to stop acting like sex outside of marriage is no big deal.

American Idol: Stamp Out Malaria

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

No mention whatsoever of why so many kids are dying of Malaria. The answer is that environmentalists succeeded in getting DDT spraying discontinued in Africa. Mosquitos carry Malaria. Malaria spreads.

Newsflash: these people will have to come out of their bug netting eventually. Luckily, countries have reversed their DDT stance and will use it to save the children and pregnant women who are primarily afflicted:

Noting that the rate of malaria infection in Tanzania was “unacceptably high”, the minister said between 16 and 18 million cases were reported every year, leading to more than 100,000 deaths, of which about 75 percent occur among under-five children and pregnant women.

It’s true, children need to be saved. So, let’s really save them.

Why I Like Rudy G

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

I thought President Bush was a straight-talking President and he is, except when he’s not. Guiliani still seems to speak his mind. I hope it lasts.

Reid’s Sin

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Anyone with a moral compass pointing true North sees Reid for what he is. But why would the Dems be mad at him? Jeff Goldstein gets exactly why:

It is telling that Reid’s fellow Democrats are reacting quickly to his gaffe, not because they don’t wish to see us lose the war— after all, many of them have staked their political future on just that—but rather, because they desperately don’t want to be seen as wishing us to lose. So they are forced to straddle the issue, agitating for legislation that will hamstring the military, offering propaganda victories to our enemies, and providing constant “dissent” that weakens troop morale and emboldens terrorism by giving the impression that the tactic is useful should its practitioners hope to divide a population—all while pretending to care about the troops and wring their hands over the possibility of a loss that they are working actively to help bring about.

Reid’s sin, from the Democratic Party’s perspective, is that he gave voice to the very kind of surrender rhetoric that has long cost Democrats the trust of the American people on issues of national security. Or, to put it another way, Reid’s blunder was one of candor—when what the Democratic party is about these days is keeping up appearances.

This is my first Reid post. The Democrats have descended to new lows. I’m always surprised that I’m still surprised. The Democrats behavior is exactly what I expected and yet, I so hoped I was wrong.