Global warming advocacy training film?

February 21, 2010

Maybe I should avoid getting into arguments with true believers….


An apology makes everything better

February 21, 2010

For reasons only he knows, 17-year old Robert Barnes raped and murdered his good friend, 16-year old Meghan Landowski:

No one knows what got into him that afternoon in April of 2008. But he broke into Meghan’s house while no one was home and waited for her to get home from school. As she walked in the door, he attacked.

He duct taped her mouth shut and taped her arms behind her back. Then he raped her before stabbing her 40 times — a dozen of those wounds came after she was already dead. He left her bleeding with her pants down on the kitchen floor, the pool of blood spread 10-feet wide.

Father Chris Shortt was the first to find her. “I walked in and the front door was open,” he testified. “I stepped forward and I saw her laying there. She was white, like a China doll. Then I noticed her throat. I’d rather not say what that looked like because my wife still doesn’t know.”

A horrific crime, and I can honestly say that I’m sorry his juvenile status apparently prevented the prosecution from seeking a death penalty.  If ever a criminal deserved trial as an adult, with the punishment meted to an adult, it is Robert Barnes. But what jumped out at me and prompted this post is the following:

In court, he apologized to the family.

Oh, gee, I’ll bet that made the family feel so much better. “I’m sorry Mr. & Mrs. Barnes, that I raped and tormented and tortured your girl, reducing her to crying terror and misery, begging me to stop, until I finally slaughtered her like a pig. And, oh, sorry, dude. It was rude of me to leave her on the floor like that for you to find. Apology accepted?”

What is it with the modern obsession with apology? An apology for stealing a toy or some food is one thing; it’s one way we teach our children right from wrong, and the property gets restored or replaced. But an apology for rape and murder? What good does that do? Does it somehow make the parents feel any less devastated over their loss, or alleviate the feelings of guilt they must feel for not being there to protect her? Does it give her back her life? I honestly don’t know how Meghan’s parents found the strength to sit there and listen to Barnes, yet not grab for a deputy’s gun to shoot him dead.

I’m sorry,” Barnes said.

To hell with apologies.

Sunday Book Review: 1776

February 21, 2010

I’ve just finished reading David McCullough’s 1776, which tells the tale of the critical year of the American Revolution, from the Siege of Boston to the Battles of Trenton and Princeton, largely through the eyes of the nascent American Army and its commander, General George Washington.

While I love reading History, there’s been a decided lack in my education when it came to Colonial America and the Revolutionary period. That, frankly, is due to the miserable way it was taught in junior and senior high school; nothing could have been more boring. And that’s a shame because the conflicts and struggles that lead to our independence comprise a fascinating story, one that was crucial to the subsequent history of Humanity.

So, I set out several years ago to fill that lack; 1776 is the latest effort.

McCullough’s work is the story of the campaign during and following the Siege of Boston. While that ended in an American victory with the British evacuation, the subsequent tale was one of almost unremitting defeat and misery. New York City was foolishly defended and then lost in a series of battles at Brooklyn, upper Manhattan Island, and White Plains, in which the small Continental Army was almost destroyed. (Had British General Howe shown more initiative, perhaps he would have caught Washington and ended the Revolution. One of the great What-Ifs of History.) Pursued across lower New York and into New Jersey and Pennsylvania, suffering from a nearly shattered morale and plagued by desertions and refusals to reenlist, the Americans survived to score what can justifiably be called miraculous victories in the freezing cold of December and January at Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey. In the wake of those battles, General Howe ordered his troops into winter quarters. The Continental Army had survived its most parlous year.

Over the course of McCullough’s narrative, we meet characters of the drama on both sides, such as General Nathanael Greene, the Quaker turned soldier who may have been the best general on our side, to the wretched Lord Rawdon, who thought the increasing number of courts-martial for rape during the New York campaign was proof of the British Army’s improving spirits.

Central to the story, however, is George Washington himself. Portrayed as an amateurish and inept strategist and tactician (Washington had never commanded an army before) whose mistakes and indecisiveness in New York nearly cost us the war, it was the strength of his character more than anything that kept the army together during its worst days. Devoted to the men under his command and to the cause, itself, Washington inspired almost instant loyalty bordering on devotion from his officers and troops. His perseverance in the face of defeat after defeat may have been his greatest quality, enabling him and his troops to carry on until fortune finally turned their way.

McCullough tells his story well, often quoting from diaries and letters from officers and soldiers on both sides. This isn’t a tale of politics and diplomacy, but that of America at arms. He tears away the softening gauze in which time shrouds all distant conflicts to let us see through their own words the suffering of the Americans, Loyalist and Rebel alike, as war consumed both property and lives. We also see the bravery and loyalty of the soldiers of both armies, from General Lord Cornwallis’ nighttime crossing of the Hudson to attack Fort Lee, to the Massachusetts fishermen and sailors who worked miracles to get the army out of New York and, later, across the Delaware in a freezing storm.

With an extensive bibliography and myriad footnotes, 1776 is a good example of popular history at its best: an exciting story, eminently readable and accessible, even to those with only the merest knowledge of our earliest history. Highly recommended, and you can buy a copy at Amazon*.

*(Dear FTC, yes, I do get a few pennies if someone actually buys the book. Oh, the horror.)

RELATED: Today is Washington’s birthday; Power Line has posted a remembrance.

The Saudi pedophile chronicles

February 21, 2010

Yet another example of the deep misogyny of Islamic society: fathers selling their pre-teen daughters as brides to middle-aged rapists husbands:

The Saudis really need to get an infomercial out there — and the Nation magazine and other leftist sites that apologize for Islamic gender apartheid can feature it on their webpages. It would go something like this:

A Saudi sheikh dressed slickly in Saudi garb would be sitting confidently in a chair, looking into the camera with an excited smile. He would then begin asking, with earnestness and an encouraging tone:

“Are you a pedophile? Do you like underage girls? Would you like to rape one of them — or several? And get away with it? Even have it legally sanctioned? Then Saudi Arabia is for you.”

The screen then shifts to a shopping mall filled with niqab-covered women (only the slit of the eyes showing) walking up and down in front of stores. It remains unclear what message this is supposed to denote, but the camera stays focused on these shrouded women for about ten seconds. Then a warning appears that all infidels who are interested must first convert to Islam. This is followed by a phone number appearing over a black background, indicating a contact person who can be reached. A voice then explains that this person lurks within the Saudi religious police and that he will connect interested parties to Saudi fathers intent on selling their underage girls into marriage — a standard practice in Saudi Arabia.

And yes, it’s religiously justified. Nauseating.