Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Robert Bork and the Ensuing Chaos

American governance is at an all time low, and while it's easy for the Democrats to point out the insanity of many Republican's behavior, we should look at where this all started. A judge named Robert Bork had been a justice on the Court of Appeals, had been solicitor general of the United States and was a constitutional scholar at a little school called Yale. Reagan nominated him to be a justice on the Supreme Court.

I didn't agree with the premises which Bork used to come up with his origination doctrine. But I don't ever remember someone endowing me with supernatural powers or infinite wisdom. However the Democrats used every tool they could to demean and defeat him. It was an example of the left gone wild.
He didn't deserve these tactics. Just because he didn't think like Nancy Pelosi, didn't mean he couldn't have been an honorable Justice of the Supreme Court. There was nothing in his background that showed he was dishonest, cavalier in his opinions or a threat to this nation. But you wouldn't have known that as the Democrats were trying to destroy him.
Now Republicans have made it difficult for Obama to fill judicial positions. The absurdity of their behavior does not bode well for an America that wants to come to terms with it's economic problems. Rand Paul, who is the leader among Republicans to be there 2016 nominee,is to the right of Attila the Hun. Things look pretty bad for American democracy.
But this didn't happen overnight. Robert Bork was a decent man who didn't think like me, but was honorable. The Democrats hated him with an intensity that's hard to understand in a country which is supposed to have checks and balances, not outright witch hunts. Reagan nominated him and he was an ethical man.
But he didn't meet the ideological purity of the Democrats. Thus began the bitter ongoing crisis in America that has made us the laughing stock of the world. The next time someone on the far left tells you that the Republicans are pure evil (I honestly don't like most of them, but believe in a two-party system), remember where this all began.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Japanese Officials Honor War Criminals

The Japanese will never learn. Tyro Aso, the number two man behind Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, just went to the shrine to the Japanese war criminals responsible for World War II. These people turned Korean and Chinese women into "comfort women" who were used as prostitutes for Japanese soldiers. These men were responsible for the brutality of Japanese prison camps and for the Bataan Death March. These men engineered the rape of Nanjing, one of the most horrific slaughters of human beings in history.
Some of it goes back to MacArthur, who never made the Japanese face their history the way the Germans were forced to do. I taught in Germany in the 90s and there were still people who worried that the attitudes of the Nazis could return. On the other hand, I had a student in California, who was educated in Japan, who said to me that all the war crimes were lies against the Japanese people.
Why should Korea or China come to terms with the Japanese on island ownership? Why should the Japanese be allowed to sell cars and other products in China? Japan was an evil nation in World War II. The fact that they refuse to accept their own history makes the Chinese hate them. China is much more powerful than Japan these days. The Japanese can go along lying about their history, but they no longer have the power China possesses.
Incidents like the most recent visit to the Yasukani Shrine provide good reasons for the Chinese to continue to hate the Japanese people.

Monday, April 22, 2013

CNN blows it

CNN made a major mistake last Wednesday when John King reported there was a Boston bombing suspect in custody.
It's very simple how CNN could have avoided a black eye.
The Associated Press was one of the sources. Saying the AP was the source of the information would have laid the blame for the mistake clearly on AP.
As a former wire service reporter, I've observed that people know that when a wire service, like AP, comes out with an important break in a case, people rely on it.
But CNN wanted to look like they'd broken the news, so instead of laying off the information on the Associated Press they pretended they had broken the story.
It was a major misjudgment by John King and his producer. It made CNN look really bad. CNN does well in times of national emergency. Their viewership goes for around 300,000 people to 1 million.
But instead of taking the approach a good news organization would take, it pretended it had broken the news. Hubris has no place in a news organization. The Associated Press is usually right, but there are times it has to do a row back and extricate itself from bad reporting. It would've been the AP's fault, not CNN's, if they had attributed the story to the AP.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

He's Our President

He's my president.
No. Let me restate that: He's our president.
In the two appearances about the Boston bombings, he looked like the leader of a great country. As my wife said, "he's a man who shows compassion, while at the same time being very careful about what he says." Isn't that what you want in a leader?
This follows, by a few days, his budget, which cut entitlements and infuriated the left wing of his party.
Listening to Republicans attack a budget they said they wanted, is to further establish the Republicans as a minority, "I'm against everything Obama's for," fringe party. (Remember, I'm an independent, and I never think Nancy Pelosi speaks for me.)
Once you think of a man as The President, not just a politician trying to score points, he moves into a different position in your mind. You trust him, and begin to admire him.
God bless America and God bless the President of the United States.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Never Give Up

You should never give up.
In January I couldn't walk for seven days. Last week I walked 14 blocks.
This might not sound like anything special, but I have arthritis, foraminal  stenosis, protruding discs and radiculopathy. There are times that my hands are too numb to use a computer.
Every morning I do 12 difficult exercises. From the bridge to more complicated tests of my ability, I persevere. I have traction on the lower part of my body that takes me three days from which  to recover.
Neurologists warn me that eventually the foreaminnal stenosis will end me in a chair and that the pain medicine I use now won't work when things evolve.
But in a couple of minutes I'm going to walk out in the sun and look at the different styles of houses that fill my neighborhood, say hello to people who are walking their dogs, and pretend I'm not disabled. It is sure to be a beautiful day

Friday, April 5, 2013

America's Greatest Challenge

The other day I had a long conversation with someone whose life paralleled my own. His father had died when he was very young but he had drive and ended up with a PhD. I always worried that the social security check wouldn't provide enough food to get us through to the end of the month. I remember having a dream where there was nothing left but Arm and Hammer baking soda. Because we had both spent 30 years in higher education we knew that upward mobility in America was now exceeded by 16 other countries.

Accomplishing what we did  is 10 to 20 times more difficult to do today than it was for us. No one could afford to be a college professor today because universities charge as much as they can get away with and loan burdens for students are unconscionable. You'd have to be a Wall Street vulture to pay college loans back.

I thought about the conversation and worry China might exploit this and become the strongest country in the world. We can turn things around if people just listen. But they have to understand just how dire the situation is. A lot of people refuse to look at this problem

Number one: people in xiang xia (rural areas ) have worked for thousands of years in incessant labor for very small results. The grinding work ethic is spread throughout China, and while the newest generation has been somewhat liberated from that, I've worked with a UCLA doctoral candidate who has never received less than A+ in any course that allowed that grade. He came to America and I was lucky enough to teach him American idioms so he could excel. (Quite honestly he would've done extremely well whether I taught him American idioms or not.)
This next point is important. Shanghai K-12 students, who are number one in the world, put our students to shame. We rank 17th among nations in math ability. However you still hear parents complain about their children having too much homework (an absurdity).
In America college students graduate without knowing calculus, while in China it's required for admission to University. The teachers unions spread falsehoods that the problem in America is class-size, while the problem in America is low expectations.We now rely on highly educated foreigners to make advances in high tech.
I love my country. My family has been here for 392 years. I don't want to live anywhere else. But I worry that we can't continue moving in this direction.. If this angers my fellow citizens, so be it. Telling the truth is not unpatriotic.