Archives December 2007

THE TWELVE BEST HAPPENINGS OF 2007

On the 27th of this month, I published the Worst Happenings of 2007. Now, it’s time to think positive. I know, nobody asked, but here goes.

* Regardless of one’s position on the Iraq war, there is no argument that the change in strategy and in leadership has produced positive results, with American deaths down from 121 in the month of May, to sixteen thus far in December, albeit sixteen too many. The rising outrage of Sunni and Shiia citizens within Iraq has led to revolt against al Qaeda, thus giving us hope for an end to the conflict in the near future.

* Long overdue resignations of Bush lackies, Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzalez and Donald Rumsfeld, all positive changes that will provide more confidence from Americans in the remaining year GWB is in office.

* Abortions in the U.S. have dropped to under 1.3 million, the lowest since Roe v. Wade in 1973. All this, as a result of more education and treatment, without enacting new and unnecessary laws banning abortions which would give rise to a black market.

* Teenage substance abuse. According to the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, teenagers are drinking less and smoking less than every before. Also, drug use among teens has fallen 23 percent wince the 1990’s, and more than 50 percent for certain drugs, i.e., LSD and Ecstacy. Another sign that strong messages and more education works.

* France elected a new president that is far more friendly to the U.S. than Chirac. That can only spell good news for the future if we nurture that relationship.

* Professional sports have given us outstanding role models with Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Tim Duncan, Bart Favre, Lance Armstrong and the likes of baseballers Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn, pure gentlemen and of high integrity, inducted into the Hall of Fame. As well, the sportswriters of America rightfully rejected Mark (“I’m not here to talk about the past”) McGuire’s bid for the same Hall. Hopefully, that will send a message to all the other cheaters, and to any kids who even think about it.

* The voice of animal rights groups were heard loud and clear above the fray of celebrity, when footballer Michael Vick was arrested and convicted for running dog fight arenas, and personally brutalizing animals for folly.

* Death rates from cancer are on the steady decline for men, women and children, dropping more than two percent a year since 2002, all thanks to advances in early detection and better treatment. All those donations for research are paying off.

* New Jersey lawmakers joined thirteen other states in outlawing the death penalty. That’s one more state where it is now guaranteed that no innocent person can ever be mistakenly executed by the government.

* Thanks to the ongoing efforts of experts, scholars and patriots like Brigitte Gabriel, Frank Gaffney, Robert Spencer, Harvey Kushner, and more, greater awareness is rising among the American people about the ominous threat of radical Islam within the borders of the United States, and what we should be doing about it.

* Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions were relatively silent in 2007. No national disaster ripped through America in the likes of Hurricane Katrina. (California fires are not considered “natural” disaster).

* My grandson, Jason Mekena Frank, now 22, joined 30,000 other soldiers who came home alive and safe from an overseas war.

Okay, that’s a few items for thinking positive. How about you?

THE TWELVE WORST HAPPENINGS OF 2007

I know. Nobody asked. But here is my list of the worst happenings of 2007.

* Over 900 American heroes brought home in flag-draped caskets, (bringing the war total to 3,900) plus another 3,000 blind, legless, armless or otherwise maimed for life. This tragedy, from a war even more controversial than Viet Nam, where so many scholars from both sides of the aisle tell us how an administration cherry-picked and manipulated intelligence to justify the unjustifiable.

* Osama Bin Laden remains at large and powerful as ever. This, more than six years after the 9/11 attacks on the shores of the United States. Yet, we spent fifty times as much in lives, money and military resources going after another depot who did not attack America.

* The presidential campaign. Countries like Canada and the UK dedicate four to eight weeks on a political campaign. In the U.S., with the primary system, the presidential campaign is a drawn-out, two-year, media-driven horse race with a new poll virtually every day.

* The debates. Dumb questions take up the time that should be allotted for more important issues. “What does America mean to you?” Please. “Do you accept the Bible as truth?” Would any candidate dare say, No? Same old rhetoric, too many candidates spread too thin. It’s pure media, no substance. (Not much in the way of candidates either)

* Radical Islam continues to infiltrate the infrastructure of this country while America sleeps and government turns a blind eye wishing not to be seen as offending a “religion.” Meanwhile, the Trojan Horse has rooted in, in all four corners of North America, sure to become a monumental issue in future years, as it has in Europe. Yet, not one question is asked about this urgent issue in the debates.

* Dishonesty in government insults the intelligence of the American people. With a housing market collapsed, the crisis in mortgages, gas prices soaring over $3 a gallon which will surely spark infLation, and an $8 trillion debt, the government has the gall to tell us the economy is good.

* Media sensationalism. How many times do we have to know about the substance abuse and driving habits of dingies like Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton, who are constantly jammed down our throats by networks who obviously can’t find anything more important to report on.

* Illegal immigration continues unharnessed as government continues to talk and do nothing. More than 12 million illegals are melted into the nation, mainly by a government that has refused to prosecute employers who hire into the construction, agricultural and other labor-intensive industries. While the anti-amnestors neutralize the amnestors, our social and health care services are raped, non-taxpayers are using our educational services, and illegals occupy 21 percent of cells in federal prisons. (That doesn’t include state prisons)

* A Justice Department that has chosen a policy of supporting and coddling thieves, robbers, rapists, drug dealers — many illegal alien — just to convict police officers who have dedicated their lives to public service. Numerous career cops, oft decorated for valor, have been targeted by rabid prosecutors to pacify governments of other nations, most notably, Mexico. The most famous of whom: Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, are serving more than a decade in prison for doing their job. There are many others.

* President Bush pardoned thieves and crooks from prison, many with political connections, but not Ramos and Compean, despite the pleas from thousands of Americans and overwhelming evidence that the Justice Department acted wrongly. Meanwhile, Scooter Libby never serves one day in jail, as the president calls his sentence “too harsh.”

* The tragic Virginia Tech shootings/killings of 32 people by a certified psycho who still managed to get his hands on a pair of guns after passing through background checks that had no record of his mental history. NRA, where are you?

* The War on Drugs continues to fuel an exhausted criminal justice system which now houses 2.3 million people in jails and prisons, more than half of whom are serving time for non-violent crimes, mostly possession of drugs. More than $185 billion a year is expended to support this crisis, not to mention the ancillary ripple effect it has on our social services and welfare systems. Yet, we continue on with a losing strategy, and it’s not ever mentioned in the presidential debates.

Did I leave something out?

JUSTICE SYSTEM GONE AWRY – BUSTING CHILDREN

Have we gone nuts?

A ten year old child brings a steak knife to school in Ocala. She’s caught cutting her meat at lunch, and then arrested as though she was a serial killer on the loose. Perhaps a sharp knife was inappropriate on school grounds, which is a good reason to confiscate, teach her a lesson, admonish her parents and send her on her way. But why whack the fifth grader with a formal arrest as though she had committed a crime?

That’ll give a growing kid a warm and secure feeling about the law.

A first grader in Avon Park, Florida, lost control and acted out in class, kicking and scratching. That’s bad. She obviously has a problem. Teachers called the cops, who came and handcuffed her for restraint. Okay, I can even live with that. Then child — a six-year-old — was brought to police headquarters and charged with a felony and two misdemeanors. Huh?

When did common sense lose it’s foothold in America? Years ago, we’d read stories like this in communist China.

Moses Lake, Washington, 2006. Seven juveniles were taken into custody and arrested for vandalism and theft. Two of these were five and six years of age. The others were closer to twelve. Whatever happened to laws about contributing to the delinquency of minors? Locking up five year-old children as criminals? There must be another way to handle these kinds of situations.

December, 2006, a twelve year-old boy in South Carolina was arrested by police for petty larceny for — get this — opening his Christmas present without authorization. When his mother learned that he had opened the $85 Nintendo game without her permission, she called the cops to teach him a lesson, and the cops made the bust. Honest. Read for yourself. Click here: Boy Arrested

September, 2006, Pleasant Grove, Utah. A teenage prankster streaked naked across a stage during a school play. There are children in the audience. He’s pretty stupid. He needs punishment. He got it. The kid is facing criminal charges for which he will likely be required to register as a sex offender for life. His name, address and photograph will be available on the Internet as warnings to citizens that this boy is a predator and to protect your kids. He’ll be unable to find jobs. He’ll be the instant suspect in unsolved sex crimes. A lifetime of retribution, for a silly stunt that has nothing to do with sexually offending anyone.

Honor student and football player, Genarlow Wilson was seventeen years old when he received consensual oral sex from a fifteen year-old girl in Georgia in 2005. Uh…that’s an every day event by the thousands in all fifty states. But, the laws in Georgia mandated a ten-year sentence for the (ahem) sex offense with a minor child. Genarlow was ultimately released by a compassionate judge after serving two years in prison. Still, he must register as a dangerous sex offender for life.

I think we’re using a sledge hammer to kill the bug. Serious crimes certainly need to be addressed by the criminal justice system, but we’ve gone over the top with the tough-on-crime mantra.

I’m sure glad I retired when I did. I served in an era when judgement and common sense prevailed, when a cop had the option to send a DUI driver home in a taxi cab, or kick kids in the ass for raising hell at a party, send lover’s lane sexpots off to motel rooms and scare the hell out of truants and other youngsters who dabbled in pot. I had the latitude to make humane decisions about minor indiscretions, always aware of how an arrest would affect the rest of a kid’s life. I feel comfortable that I, and many of my colleagues, saved some young people from entering the oppressive walls of the justice system as criminals when it wasn’t in the best interest of justice.

Sure, I know all about the law, and my job was merely to enforce. I did that. I made over two thousand arrests in my career. But I also made a few unarrests for which I am proud, for I know in those few instances, I precluded a lifetime of obstacles and stigma for the undeserving because I decided to give the “offenders” a pass.

When it comes to showing small kids the strong arm of the law, there’s another way, besides jails and handcuffs. It’s called, education treatment, compassion and guidance.

When a system can label people for life as sex offenders, when they are not, then something needs to be fixed.

In today’s world, the hands of police officers are tied, they dare not make decisions. It’s all spelled out. Break the law, pay the price. Even if the price is a million dollars for a stick of bubble gum.

They better not come for my grandson while he’s still in diapers, even if he does throw a tantrum.

ANTI-GAY BIGOTRY IS ALIVE AND WELL

“AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”

Rev. Jerry Falwell, Christian evangelist

Remember when a gay caballero was defined as a happy Spaniard? Today, if you told a Miami Cuban he was gay, you might be peering down the bore of a .380 Barretta semi-automatic. Tune in to the nostalgia channel sometime and listen to the dialogue in movies of the 1930’s, Fred Astaire or Claudette Colbert exclaiming, “Oh, they had a gay time at the party.” Imagine your spouse hearing about your gay time at the office party?

The modern era has arrived. Being “gay” is now irreversibly defined. So has the omnipresence of gays in all walks of society, which some folks don’t like very much.

“The New York Times and Washington Post are both infested with homosexuals themselves. Just about every person down there is a homosexual or lesbian.”

— Jesse Helms, former U.S. Senator (deceased)

Securing the basic rights of all Americans has been the cornerstone achievement of the twentieth century. Yet, bigots still claim that traditional values of family and decency are being violated. When racial segregation was effectively banished, and women emerged from the kitchen, those horrible homosexuals brazenly followed suit and demanded an end to discrimination. Oh no, some even want to be married…to each other.

“Don’t use the word ‘gay’ unless it’s an acronym for – Got Aids Yet?”

— Rep. Bob Dornan, former U.S. Congressman

Bigotry and hatred is healthy as ever as nitwits try to convince us that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment to America for tolerating homosexuality. Many say the same about September 11th. We deserved it!

The problem, is that millions of people within mid-stream America feed into that kind of garbage and then go on to teach their children the same rhetoric as though it was from the mouth of God Himself. Follow the teachings of the Bible, say the bigoted evangelists, and love one another. But wait — it’s okay to hate homosexuals. I suppose “love” needs an asterisk.

The righteous right, led by the likes of Rev. Jerry Falwell and Rev. Pat Robertson, have enjoyed huge followings, espousing hatred in the name of God. So are their clones of 2007. They carefully watch the responses of political candidates when they are asked about gay rights, gay marriage, and gays in the military. Because the Falwell-types represent huge numbers, the candidates tap dance around every question trying to appeal to both sides of the fence.

“Many of those people involved with Adolph Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals – the two things seem to go together.”— Rev. Pat Robertson, Christian evangelist

I was introduced to prejudice and discrimination in my youth as a normal outgrowth of mainstream society in the post-war 1950’s. I accepted the premise that “queers were bad and all homosexuals were perverts.” Then I grew up, removed the blinders and took a closer look at what the human race has yielded. Whether we accept it or not, same-sex love is all around us, a part of our every day lives, our history and our present. It fills our book shelves and our museums, entertains us, and educates us. The righteous right turns their heads from the fact that many of the most influential and talented human beings that ever walked the face of this earth were homosexual.

I have enjoyed poems by Gertrude Stein and novels by Willa Cather or Truman Capote, gay authors each. I recall the wonderful showmanship of Liberace and marveled at his virtuoso. I took my family to see Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet and a concert of The Pathetique symphony, aware that these were the creations of a tormented homosexual who once entered into a legal, ill-fated marriage to quell the wrath of Russian bigots.

Religious zealots would have us boycott the music of Elton John or all movies starring Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson, Lawrence Olivier or Danny Kaye and bury their memory like they never existed. While we’re at it, let’s rid ourselves of such epic creations as Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story or Tennessee Williams’ Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, both products of gay writers. Still, they applaud athletes like Greg Louganis and Martina Navratilova, willing always to disregard their lifestyles when it was time to be entertained.

Alfred Kinsey, in his study of 1948, reported that one in ten were homosexual. Other estimates put the numbers anywhere between five and ten percent. If only five percent of America is, in fact, homosexual, that’s fifteen million citizens, and the true number is probably double that. That’s a lot of people to hate. That’s a lot of people to discriminate against. That’s more people in the U.S. than Jews and Muslims combined. That’s more people than many of the states in this country. These folks certainly aren’t going away.

“Hear the word of the Lord, America, fag-enablers are worse than the fags themselves, and will be punished in the everlasting lake of fire!”— Rev. Fred Phelps, Christian evangelist.

The pompous says homosexuality a choice of lifestyle and suggests that all gay persons should reform and immediately revert to being a heterosexual. That is like telling a black person to be white or to force a lefty to be right-handed.

Why would anyone make a choice to be outcast, degraded and discriminated against for life? Gay friends tell me they would have preferred the straight life had they a choice. Such was not the lot they drew. Yet, they live and breathe our air, pay taxes and bleed red, just like the rest of us.

As the evangelical right postulates before the cameras and congregations, followers should bear in mind that many of those pretty perms and cuts were the creation of gay hairdressers, or that the sculpture sitting on their mantel was created by a gay artist, or the face that appears on a one dollar coin was that of a non-heterosexual woman.

While in Europe, I marveled at the most magnificent creations of religious art in the world, DaVinci’s Last Supper, Michelangelo’s statue of David, his Pieta and the wondrous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, some say all inspired by the hand of God. If they were, in fact, so inspired, then the almighty Himself must have anointed those who the righteous would otherwise condemn.

Think about that, folks.

“Homosexuality is a crime against humanity.”

— Paul Cameron, famed psychologist

NO PLACE FOR CHEATS IN PRO SPORTS

Imagine, being a Christian and then learning that Jesus was a thief. Or that Celine Dion never really sings, she lip syncs.

This isn’t quite that drastic, but I’m crushed nonetheless. One of my sports idols has fallen from the pedestal. It’s not an easy feeling to have admired a person for so long, and then learn he or she isn’t worthy. It’s no different than having trusted a good friend only to learn that trust has been violated.

It doesn’t matter if it’s sports, music or acting, we human beings admire, and often idolize those who excel over others in their field because, well, they deserve it. Deniro, Streep, Heifetz, Pavarotti, Ruth, Woods, are all names that are instantly recognized and associated with greatness in their respective fields, because they deserve it. That’s the operative word: Deserve.

The best athletes excel over others because of two salient factors: Talent and hard work. The premise is that all competitors start out on an even playing field, and only the best rise to the top.

There is no room for a third factor: Cheating.

When the Mitchell report was released this past Thursday, naming more than eighty baseball cheaters that used drugs to enhance their physical prowess, I expected to hear about Barry Bonds, and Jason Giambi, and others that we already knew about. Then came the crushing news. Roger Clemens, arguably the greatest pitcher of the modern era, winner of 354 games, second all time in strikeouts, and so many more achievements worthy of immortality, will never see his name embossed on a plaque in the Hall of Fame, because he was a cheat.

Pete Rose, who holds the all-time record for most hits in a lifetime of playing the game, has been barred from baseball and never inducted into the revered Hall. Rose may have committed a moral infraction by gambling, but his records are intact. Every hit was legitimate. He never cheated.

I had been a baseball fanatic all my life until the strike of 1994, when I watched millionaire players whine and weep behind union leadership claiming their salaries and benefits were not good enough. Tom Glavine, who then earned four million dollars a year for throwing a ball, led the union into a strike that not only ended the 1994 season, it put thousands of merchants out of their sources of income, including vendors, restaurants, taxi drivers, hot dog sellers, and more. That’s when I stopped watching baseball.

Baseball was in the pits until 1998 when renewed excitement injected the game with a barrage of homers by the likes of Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire. In the entire 130-year history of the game, the magic mark of 60 homers were achieved in only two times, and suddenly, two players did it in one year. Others were smacking over 50. Amazing. McGuire’s 70 round-trippers brought me back as a fan. He was my new sports hero. By the way, that same year a better-than-average player named Barry Bonds hit a mere 37 home runs.

Not to be outdone, Mr. Bonds suddenly bulked up like the Incredible Hulk and three years later, slammed 73 home runs.

Now that the Mitchell report is official, we learn that the players — by the dozens — have stuck it to us once again. We fans are the victims of cheaters.

It can’t be attributed to greed, these guys make more money than the average human being could ever dream of. It can’t be the quest for fame, they already have it. It can only be, the almighty ego — that powerful drive to be seen as the best, even if they are not.

Having been a team member for many years, that is — a police officer in a team of 3500 cops, I came to learn that some officers (though very few) are able to get away with improper conduct only because their bosses enable them or look the other way. Police officers who tend to be physically abusive are usually known to the sergeants and lieutenants they work for. The camaraderie is too tight for the higher echelon to claim ignorance. If Jason Giambi, Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds were using steroids with the help of trainers, there is no doubt in my mind the likes of Joe Torres, Tony LaRussa and Dusty Baker had knowledge, or even consent.

The shame is that players like McGuire and Bonds were destined for the Hall of Fame based on their outstanding records before they ever took the first drug. But that wasn’t good enough. They needed to be seen as better than Babe Ruth. That will never happen.

Marion Jones was recently stripped of her Olympic medals after it was learned that she used performance enhancing drugs to beat her opponents. Likewise, sprinter Ben Johnson of Canada was stripped of his records set in 1988.

Every baseball record that was set by steroid users starting in 1998, should be stricken from the record books.

Induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame? If it’s no place for gamblers, it’s certainly no place for cheaters.