Monday, April 22, 2013

What We Learned From The Events Of Last Week

You're never really out of school.

Last week America demonstrated how it's possible to pull a triumph out of the wreckage of a tragedy. Terrorists took lives and limbs, but they couldn't take Boston. Here's some lessons to be learned from the chaos:

America Rocks. Such plain spoken patriotism may cause you to roll your eyes. If that's the case then go ahead and roll 'em. This nation was hit by child killing monsters, yet it didn't panic, it didn't target entire groups of people, it didn't riot in the streets and it didn't quiver in the face of the diabolical. Instead America put its culture war aside, prayed, kept on alert, stayed glued to the television and relentlessly pursued those responsible until the bad guys were either dead or in custody. Go U.S.A.

Don't Mess With American Law Enforcement.  Imagine what it's like having to face someone with vast weaponry, no sign of a conscience and a desire to indiscriminately kill. Now imagine such a person having you in his sights. Police in Watertown, Massachusetts don't have to imagine it. They lived through it...and they emerged victorious. Sure, there's some bad apples in the bunch, but last week the American law enforcement community showed the world what heroism really is.

The Real Stars Don't Get To Take A Bow. It's understandable why so many big shots stood in front of the international media Friday night in order to do a victory lap. The terrorists were caught, after all. Victory was theirs. Yet they weren't the ones shooting it out with two heavily armed terrorists around twenty hours earlier. Something to keep in mind.

Evil Does Exist When you intentionally kill innocent people, you're not being driven by personal experience, politics or religion. You're being driven by evil. Some people may argue that evil doesn't exist, but giving evil another name doesn't change its definition.

Some People Will Never Get It. Guess what? Americans are well aware of the fact that not all Muslims are terrorists. Try telling that to certain politicians and media figures, though. Sadly, there's just no convincing some people that Americans aren't completely stupid.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Politics of Tastelessness

The world's greatest cat has had to turn her back on certain politicians. 

Anthony Weiner and Mark Sanford are in the news again. Both men (one a Republican, the other a Democrat) left public office disgraced. Now each man wants forgiveness. And another public office to hold. In short, this power hungry duo has forced America to once again ask itself heavyweight questions regarding morality and propriety.

Geographic location renders me incapable of voting for either man. Not that it matters. Even if I were somehow able to cast my ballot for both individuals, I wouldn't. You can charge me with being judgmental and that's fine...but first let me make clear what it is I'm judging.

First off, it's not my business to know whether or not these men are truly sorry for their misdeeds (though Sanford remains with the woman he ruined his marriage for). Perhaps they truly are. Fine. I'm glad to know the guys aren't complete sociopaths. That doesn't mean they deserve votes, however.

Actions, be they good or bad, have consequences. And there should be real consequences for demeaning public office. Perhaps if each man is as repentant as he says he is, he can lay off the campaign trail for a good long while as a form of penance. That might actually be impressive.

As it stands, however, both men appear to be sorely lacking in the humility department. That's too bad, because a sense of humility is a good thing for a leader to have. Look at the legacy of Abraham Lincoln if you don't believe me.

Here's something else to think about:

The personal behavior of politicians matters. Anyone who says otherwise is clueless. Bill Clinton; for all his savvy, skill, and likability, will always be synonymous with a certain blue dress. Even tragic, iconic JFK became a punchline once the public had been made aware of his many dalliances.

Legacies can - or should - be important to politicians. Both Weiner and Sanford should ask themselves what kind of legacies they wish to leave. For a trail of embarrassing memories is no kind of legacy at all.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Are Religious People Stupid?

The World's Greatest Cat ponders it all.

Here's something that may shock many: there's people out there who believe in both the existence of God and in the existence of dinosaurs! Sadly, this simple fact is lost on those who are unable to remove their minds from today's social climate. To these unfortunates, most religious  adherents - and all Christians - hate science, hate those who don't agree with their particular theology, hate women, hate gays, and love to go to war.

Let's face it, those who believe this tripe are as ignorant as those who once thought minorities were too dumb and irresponsible to hold public office. In other words, they're prejudiced. There's no simpler or truer way to put it. That doesn't mean we adherents should start over-reacting, though. Trust me, the last thing this world needs is another group of whiners and finger pointers. There's more than enough of those out there as it is.

So, what can be done? For starters, believers should start making things pretty clear about their own beliefs. I'm a Catholic, for instance. I can say without hesitation that my religion does not demand that I deny evolution. Nor does it demand I deny the laws of science and nature (a miracle is an exception, not a refutation).

Oh, and there's no rules saying I have to beat up those who don't adhere to the Vatican's teachings. A lot of the people who leave comments at supposedly high-end political websites might be surprised to learn that.

The point is this: we live in a free society. That means people are pretty much allowed to avoid any group they want to. Before they attack certain groups, however, the rules of morality and intelligent discourse demand they should at least get their facts straight first.

Sadly, however, many choose not to. Which means it's up to others to set the record straight.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Stupidity Of Elitism

You mean someone thought this was good husband material??

Whenever I think of Princeton I think of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the brilliant writer behind The Great Gatsby. Although Fitzgerald never completed his studies at Princeton, he considered his time there to be one of the great periods of his life. In fact, his high opinion of the Ivy League school seemed to be right in line with one Susan A. Patton, who graduated from Princeton herself in 1977.

While Ms. Patton is nowhere near as well known as Fitzgerald, she's generated a good deal of press lately for having penned a letter titled Advice For The Young Women Of Princeton: The Daughters I Never Had. In said letter, published in the Daily Princetonian, Patton argues female students at Princeton should find a husband soon - from among the school's pool of male students, no less.

"You will never again," she writes,  "have this concentration of men who are worthy of you"

That's not all.

Ms. Patton goes on to inform Princeton's female students that "smart women can't (shouldn't) marry men who aren't at least their intellectual equal." 

But that's still not all.

"As Princeton women," Patton adds, "we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are."

Funny how Ms. Patton only brings up intelligence and going to Princeton as "worthy" qualities for a potential husband. Let's get back to Fitzgerald, then, shall we?

As has been established, the author went to Princeton as a young man. He was also brilliant (not just anyone can sit down and write works like Babylon Revisited, after all). Little doubt, then, the young Fitzgerald would have fit Ms. Patton's stringent husband criteria.

And there's the rub. The fact Fitzgerald went to Princeton didn't keep him from making a disaster out of his life for close to two decades. The fact that he was a genius didn't do much to prevent the destruction, either.

Here's just a few of the legends attributed to this tragic alcoholic.

  • he passed out under a table in public at a New York City restaurant
  • he stumbled into a newspaper office in Paris late one night and started tearing up copy.
  • he passed out in Ernest Hemingway's fireplace
  • he was arrested in Rome
  • he died in in the apartment of a gossip columnist he was having an affair with - while his wife was in a mental institution
Of course, Ms. Patton may not have minded having a son-in-law like Fitzgerald. Perhaps his worthiness in her eyes would have rested solely on his intellect and on his academic background. That would make Ms. Patton the candidate for advice, however, not the current female population of Princeton.

A basic fact of life is there's a lot more to being a "worthy" spouse than brains and background. Unfortunately, however, it's clear Ms. Patton wasn't taught that at Princeton.

Truth be told, though, I feel sorry for this woman. She's well-intentioned, but misguided. Regardless, her words do a fine job of pointing out the stupidity of elitism.