First They Came for Cat Stevens

Apparently, there’s a thin line between whining and terrorizing. Singer Morrissey, who has in the past made no secret of his distaste for the British Royal Family, Tony Blair and George W. Bush, reports that he has been worked over by government officials:

The FBI and the Special Branch have investigated me and I’ve been interviewed and taped and so forth. They were trying to determine if I was a threat to the government, and similarly in England. But it didn’t take them very long to realise that I’m not…
I don’t belong to any political groups, I don’t really say anything unless I’m asked directly and I don’t even demonstrate in public. I always assume that so-called authoritarian figures just assume that pop/rock music is slightly insane and an untouchable platform for the working classes to stand up and say something noticeable.
My view is that neither England or America are democratic societies. You can’t really speak your mind and if you do you’re investigated.

We are only half-laughing.

Girls Rule, Boys Drool

Lawrence Summers stepped down yesterday as President of Harvard University after a stormy five-year tenure. In March of 2005, Summers (former Secretary of the Treasury under the Clinton administration) garnered a no-confidence vote from the Harvard faculty; he faced a second censuring in the wake of the resignation three weeks ago of William C. Kirby, Dean of the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences. Like many folks associated with the “college outside of Boston,” Summers has a propensity for talking out of his butt. His most controversial remarks concerned the underrepresentation of women in science and engineering fields:

So my best guess, to provoke you, of what’s behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people’s legitimate family desires and employers’ current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination. I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong.

…Blah blah blah, basically what the dude said was that chicks are dumb in math and too busy making babies to hold down a real job.

To this correspondent, even more egregious was Summers’ 2002 dissing of Cornel West (scholar, rapper, and featured player in two-thirds of the Matrix trilogy), who left Harvard’s African-American Studies Department to rock the mike at Princeton after Summers’ suggestion that he devote more time to “traditionally academic pursuits.” Hmmph. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, suckah.

Christmas Wars: Bill O’Reilly Caught Lying, Said School Banned Christmas Attire

Shameless: If his lips are moving, Bill O’Reilly is lying:

O’REILLY: Plano, Texas, north of Dallas. Students were told they could not wear red and green because they were Christmas colors. Let me repeat that. Plano, Texas. Students can’t wear clothing that have red or green colors because they were too close to Christmas colors. Can you believe this? This is fascism. In addition, it’d be grossly disrespectful.

The facts:

On December 9, Bill O’Reilly falsely claimed on both Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor and the nationally syndicated The Radio Factor with Bill O’Reilly that the Plano Independent School District (Texas) “told students they couldn’t wear red and green because they were Christmas colors.” He labeled the alleged ban “fascism.” On December 12, the school district released an official statement by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Doug Otto refuting O’Reilly’s contention:

“The school district does not restrict students or staff from wearing certain color clothes during holiday times or any other school days,” noted Dr. Otto, who said that the school district’s attorney has requested that Mr. O’Reilly retract the statement.

Bush’s Broken Promises to Katrina Victims

He really does not care: President Bush only roused himself to become engaged in the wake of Hurricane Katrina because it would have been political suicide to do anything less. But he has moved on, and, predictably, so has his government, leaving the citizens of the Gulf Coast to fend for themselves:

Officials from both parties say the bottlenecks have occurred in large part because of a leadership vacuum in Washington, where President Bush and Congress have been preoccupied for weeks with Iraq, deficit reduction, the C.I.A. leak investigation and the Supreme Court.

Less than three months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, relief legislation remains dormant in Washington and despair is growing among officials here who fear that Congress and the Bush administration are losing interest in their plight.

As evidence, the state and local officials cite an array of stalled bills and policy changes they say are crucial to rebuilding the city and persuading some of its hundreds of thousands of evacuated residents to return, including measures to finance long-term hurricane protection, revive small businesses and compensate the uninsured.

“There is a real concern that we will lose the nation’s attention the longer this takes,” said Representative Bobby Jindal, a Republican from Metairie, just west of New Orleans. “People are making decisions now about whether to come back. And every day that passes, it will be a little harder to get things done.”

Officials from both parties say the bottlenecks have occurred in large part because of a leadership vacuum in Washington, where President Bush and Congress have been preoccupied for weeks with Iraq, deficit reduction, the C.I.A. leak investigation and the Supreme Court.

Congressional leaders have been scrambling to rein in spending, and many in Washington have grumbled that Louisiana’s leaders have asked for too much, while failing to guarantee that the money will be spent efficiently and honestly.

By contrast, many say, Washington’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks seemed more focused and sustained.

Now, with the holiday season days away and the 2006 midterm elections just around the bend, many Louisiana officials say they fear the sense of urgency that spurred action in September is swiftly draining away.

By the way, weren’t the Republicans going to investigate the fatal fumbling of the government’s actions during the story? What ever happened with that?

SEC Upgrades Frist Investigation

Reuters:

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has given subpoena power to investigators looking into the stock sales by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, said sources familiar with the matter on Wednesday.

Moving to protect the Frist inquiry from any future criticism for not being thorough, the SEC changed its status to formal from informal and gave investigators subpoena power to force individuals to talk or to produce documents or e-mails.

Jeb’s ‘Shared Sacrifice’ – New Hybrid SUV

The Bradenton Herald:

Less than 24 hours after urging Floridians to turn up thermostats and curtail gasoline use in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Gov. Jeb Bush rode Friday in a white Ford Escape Hybrid…

“It’s kind of hard to be arguing to conserve gasoline when you’re driving around in a Ford Expedition that guzzles it down at a 6- to 8-mile-per-gallon clip,” Bush said after arriving at a northeast Tallahassee Mormon Church where hurricane evacuees were staying…

“This baby outside . . . makes more sense,” Bush said.

…Bush ordered state facilities to raise their thermostats to 78 degrees and take other energy saving measures. He asked all Floridians to do the same as part of a “shared sacrifice.”

Parents Need Camp Too…

The ABC network debuted its latest contribution to the world of reality tv this week. “Brat Camp” examines the reasons why nine kids, boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 17, are shipped off to the wildnerness at the pleas of desperate parents. These chosen youngsters have serious problems ranging from compulsive lying and anger issues to drug addiction and stealing.

How has this happened? How does an entire population of adolescents become so self-absorbed? I blame it on parents. That’s right. I said it. Parents aren’t doing their jobs.

Hmmmm….brat camp. Love the concept. As a sixth grade teacher of English, reading, and world history, I can think of quite a few of my students who could benefit from 40 days in the wilderness. Forty days without their handheld video games, portable cd players, cell phones, and skateboard/dirt bike/hip-hop magazines. In addition to their poor reading and writing skills, today’s “tween” generation lacks serious social skills. These kids have no respect for authority, be it in parent or teacher form. They have obvious apathy for everything that does not pertain to them.

How has this happened? How does an entire population of adolescents become so self-absorbed? I blame it on parents. That’s right. I said it. Parents aren’t doing their jobs. With that in mind, I believe that while their children are off dealing with their various issues, the parents should be also be engaged. I envision crash courses in parenting. They could learn to communicate with their children in a way that involves actual dialogue. They could learn to put down THEIR cell phones, PDAs, and remote controls long enough to listen to their kids. Parents that claim their little angels slowly became monsters over the years have to learn to intervene. You cannot be your daughter’s or son’s best friend. Put your foot down!! When your 11-year old is caught smoking pot or drinking, you deal with it right then and there. Kids have to know that there are boundaries, some bigger than others, that they cannot cross. Allowing the behavior to continue only allows it to fester into worse habits or mindsets. Be a parent and PARENT! And in the meantime, check out “Brat Camp” on ABC, Wednesday nights at 9 p.m.