Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Archive for November, 2009

PC police suspend LA sports announcers

Posted by sanityinjection on November 29, 2009

Two sports broadcasters who cover the terminally awful Los Angeles Clippers basketball team were recently suspended for comments they made about a member of the visiting Memphis Grizzlies team who is from Iran.

I started reading the story and was waiting to find out exactly what offensive thing they had said about Grizzlies’ center Hamed Haddadi. I was expecting to read that they had joked about him being a terrorist or made some derogatory remark about Islam. Imagine my astonishment, then, when I got to the end of the story and found out that what had earned the duo a one-game suspension and the opportunity to profusely apologize to Haddadi (through a translator, since Haddadi speaks little English) was precisely this:

  • They mispronounced the word “Iranian.”
  • They expressed surprise that any Iranian nationals play in the NBA.
  • They jokingly compared Haddadi’s looks to the character “Borat”.
  • They complimented Haddadi’s basketball moves.

Seriously? That’s offensive and discriminatory? The only thing that could possibly be offensive is the Borat reference, and that’s pretty much par for the course as far as jokes made at the expense of visiting players. The “Borat” character isn’t Iranian or even Muslim.

Apparently all it took was one person with too much time on their hands who complained to the network to shift the PC police into hyperdrive and send these two announcers into full hand-wringing mode. To his credit, Haddadi, when thoroughly informed as to what had been said about him, didn’t see it as a big deal at all. (In his country, ethnic/religious discrimination generally involves beatings and torture, so you’ll forgive him for his failure to be outraged by a couple of dumb TV comments.) Nor did the Grizzlies organization find the matter worthy of a formal complaint. But hey, it’s Los Angeles, the third most enlightened city in California, so naturally the horse must be beaten to death.

I would have thought this matter would have been eclipsed  by the shocking revelation that somebody actually watches Clippers games on TV all the way until the end, and by the further importance of seeking mental health counseling for that individual rather than taking seriously any complaints from that quarter.

Posted in Domestic News, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

On hiatus

Posted by sanityinjection on November 18, 2009

SanityInjection will be on hiatus for the rest of the month and will be back the first week in December.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Quotes of the Week

Posted by sanityinjection on November 18, 2009

“[Former President George W. Bush] couldn’t speak with flowery language and even made grammatical mistakes but spoke as plainly as an American farmer. [ President Barack Obama speaks] “with sweet but empty words.”

– Chinese blogger Zhao “Hecaitou” Dezhu

“Learn English from Obama: Instead of saying ‘I want to eat,’ say ‘I am a big supporter of non-hunger.'” – Chinese writer Wang Pei

Despite all the hype from both governments about President Obama’s glorious visit to China and the heavily censored media coverage of the visit in China, it would appear that some folks in China were able to size up the Nobel Peace Prize winner pretty quickly:

The question is whether Americans can say the same.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Veterans Day lessons from a degenerate moron

Posted by sanityinjection on November 12, 2009

No, I’m not referring to myself 🙂 I’m referring to Florida resident Joshua Basso, who celebrated Veterans Day by getting himself arrested for making obscene phone calls – to a 911 operator.

Rather than write the usual sort of Veterans Day essay you could find in virtually every newspaper yesterday – virtually identical from one to another – I thought I would use Mr. Basso’s case to see how many object lessons we can extract from it contrasting the values his actions express with the ones our veterans have fought, and continue to fight for.

Like all of us, Mr. Basso is a product of his genetics and environment. Let us assume charitably that his parents may be fairly normal and not chromosomally defective.  Yet they must bear some of the blame (and surely are dying of embarrassment as I write) for raising a son who chooses to spend what I assume was his day off – if he is employed – in this way. And yet – is Mr. Basso so very different from many of the people we encounter in our lives each day? I have to wonder.

Consider that Mr. Basso appears to have been motivated by a combination of boredom and sexual desire. It is ironic that in an age with more entertainment options available than our forefathers could ever have imagined, boredom still afflicts so many of us – typically when we are left to our own devices. The majority of today’s young adults, having never learned to read English properly as children, never developed the love of reading that can turn what would otherwise be a period of tedium into a precious chance to lose one’s self in a book – available to even the poorest from a local public library. As for sexual desire, any number of sociologists can tell you that the absolution saturation of our media with sex inevitably results in an overactive sex drive, especially among males of a certain age.  Contrast this with the self-discipline instilled in our military veterans.

Lacking a partner, Mr. Basso apparently decided to combine his self-gratification with what he no doubt felt was “harmless mischief” – a concept reinforced by adults when they tacitly approve of things like vandalism on Halloween. Never mind who is inconvenienced. In this case, the mischief took the form of coercing an unwilling participant – the 911 operator – into being the object of Mr. Basso’s sexual gratification. Philosophically, there is no difference between this and exposing yourself in public, or physically raping or molesting someone – only a difference of degree. Somewhere along the line, Mr. Basso failed to absorb the idea that other people’s rights and feelings matter at least as much as his own. Meanwhile, our veterans exemplify the opposite by putting their lives at risk over and over again to defend the rights and freedoms of others.

Next of course is the total obliviousness to the fact that Basso’s 911 calls might have slowed or prevented authorities from responding to a real emergency someplace, as our military does routinely. When asked why he chose 911 as his target, he explained that it was a free call. So our next count against Mr. Basso is his intention to achieve his goal and get someone else – specifically, you and me, the taxpayers, to pay for it, where a responsible person might have spent his own money on a 1-900 sex line. Contrast with our veterans, who know only too well that anything worth doing in life has a cost – a cost they have seen measured in the blood of their friends and comrades.

Finally, Mr. Basso admitted that he had made multiple calls like this in the past but never believed he would get caught. The philosophy thus espoused can best be expressed as, “Do unto others and then run.” For Mr. Basso, it was always up to some other authority to regulate his behavior, freeing him to act as he pleased bound only by his practical, not moral, ability to avoid getting caught. Our military men and women, on the other hand, are instilled with a moral code that teaches them to behave themselves even when no one is around to “catch” them.

I think what disturbed me most was Mr. Basso’s mug shot. Even allowing for the natural level of shock at being arrested and the usual 10 pounds added by the camera, what I see is a vapid, clueless individual whose double chin suggests he is not one of society’s deprived victims. Nor is he visibly a member of some persecuted minority lashing out against injustice. Look again. You probably know one or two people that look exactly like this guy. I swear one of the kids on my block will look exactly like this in about 15 years. You can almost hear the words issuing from his open mouth (their mouths are always open) -“What do you mean, my actions have consequences?”

The point I am trying to make is that Mr. Basso is not unique in our modern society, just perhaps a little dumber than most. The values and attitudes that motivated his actions – if subconsciously – are shared by a frighteningly large number of the fellow citizens we interact with every day. What is disturbing about Joshua Basso is not that he is a deviant. It is that he is the norm.

Nor am I unaware that there are always those military veterans who embarrass the rest by failing to carry forward the moral and philosophical lessons they learn while in service. In fact, I do not know for certain that Mr. Basso is not himself a military veteran. But I rather doubt it. Don’t you?

Posted in Domestic News | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

US – North Korea negotiations: What is really going on?

Posted by sanityinjection on November 12, 2009

Or perhaps better to ask, What is really *not* going on? Korea expert Andrei Lankov, writing in the Asia Times, argues that for once, the Obama Administration’s foot-dragging and dithering in the foreign policy arena is actually a good strategy when it comes to North Korea:

Lankov’s essential point is that North Korea has been “playing” the US for many years, and the Administration, led by Secretaries Clinton and Gates, has decided to turn the tables on them. In the past, North Korea had an edge because the US wanted something from them – denuclearization – and needed at least the appearance of an agreement badly enough to make concessions without insisting on verification of the NK side of the agreement, which was never fulfilled.

Instead, the US is now giving lip service to negotiations but not actually pursuing them. This sends a message to North Korea: If you are not serious about reaching an agreement, we won’t take you seriously.

Of course, there is the possibility that North Korea may try to raise the stakes by committing further provocations. The recent naval skirmish between North and South Korea may be the first sign of this. The Administration will have to steel itself not to give ground no matter how many missile tests or belligerent announcements come from Pyongyang. If NK leader Kim Jong-Il becomes convinced that there is an iron fist inside the US’ velvet glove, he may decide that it’s better to shake hands than play ratslap.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Prophet Al Gore stands to profit from global warming hysteria

Posted by sanityinjection on November 5, 2009

I have argued many times here that the media deliberately hides the profit motive of many in the global warming hysteria industry whose jobs, government grants, or investments are financially dependent on scaring people into going green. Thus, I view it as highly significant that the New York Times – of all publications, the most rigidly supportive of the global warming agenda – has run a piece detailing the ways in which global warming prophet Al Gore stands to profit from his efforts to panic the American people into drastic action on carbon emissions.

I won’t repeat all the details here, but suffice it to say, Gore has invested heavily in businesses that would benefit from the regulatory and legislative reforms he is pushing. When questioned on the matter, Gore usually responds with anger and annoyance that his motives should be called into question.

In fairness to Gore, I do believe he is telling the truth when he says that his advocacy for action on climate change is not primarily motivated by financial gain. Gore is a fanatic, and money is not what motivates fanatics. I believe that Gore sees this issue as the centerpiece of his legacy as a public figure – he wants to be remembered forever as the man who saved the world from global warming, and that means much more to him than money.

I also agree with Gore’s insistence that he has a right to invest in anything he wants just like anybody else. What I don’t agree with, though, is that Gore has never registered as a lobbyist despite the fact that he is arguably the most visible lobbyist in America. Nor does Gore believe that he has any obligation to disclose his financial interests before telling us all about our moral duty to save the planet. These things create the appearance of impropriety, and Gore as a longtime public servant should know that the appearance of impropriety is sometimes almost as bad as actual impropriety.

I commend the New York Times for its rare decision to train its magnifying glass on one of its own sacred cows for a change. Who knows, maybe someday they will even print an objective analysis of the Obamessiah?

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Italy can’t make 2 plus 2 equal 5

Posted by sanityinjection on November 5, 2009

I have often blogged in support of religious expression against what I perceive as excessive repression in the name of secularism. However, it does happen that sometimes the secularists are in the right. So it is with a recent case in the European Court in which the Italian government lost its attempt to defend the widespread practice of displaying a crucifix in public school classrooms.

Italy, of course is a traditionally Catholic nation, and the crucifix is a familiar symbol in every city and village there. But Italy is also a country that claims to adhere to the European Union’s standards of freedom of religion. So when a parent complained about the presence of a crucifix in her child’s public school classroom and sought unsuccessfully to have it removed, she appealed all the way to the European Court.

Italy argued unsuccessfully that the crucifix was a traditional symbol of Italian culture. In fact, there is nothing about crucifixes in Italy that makes them unique to Italy or any different than those found in Spain, France, or any other Catholic area. Italy also insisted – rather ridiculously – that the crucifix is a symbol of unity, tolerance, and secularism. Secularism??

This would certainly come as news to anyone familiar with the Inquisition or the Jewish ghettoes. Yes, modern Italy is a relatively secular and tolerant country, but the crucifix is hardly a symbol of that modernity.

Ironically, courtrooms in Italy also display crucifixes. The Euro court’s ruling would seem to open up the ability to challenge that practice as well.

The point is not that Italy is deliberately trying to foist Catholicism on its citizens. Rather, it’s that the prominent display of the symbol of a very specific religious domination is inherently discriminatory and exclusionary to those who practice a different faith or none at all.

There is a separate argument to be made here about whether an international court should have the right to tell a sovereign state such as Italy what it can and cannot do – but that is something Italy should have considered as part of its membership in the European Union.

Posted in Foreign Affairs, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to make enemies and influence people

Posted by sanityinjection on November 5, 2009

Today Taliban-type Islamic terrorists blew up a school for girls in northwest Pakistan. It’s the second such bombing this week and one of hundreds of similar acts of destruction committed by the terrorists over the past couple of years.

While every such attack is a tragedy, in the wider perspective of the struggle for the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan, these school attacks are a boon because they make it clear that the terrorists are their enemies. For rural villages in this part of the world, having a school of any kind – for girls or otherwise – is a mark of prestige and great pride for the villagers. To have their school blown up is to lose the village’s most valuable possession. Regardless of whether villagers may share the terrorists’ extreme brand of Islam, these acts drive those villagers squarely into the camp of the Pakistani government and by extension, the West. (Many of the schools were in fact built by Western aid organizations which the villagers also remember.) The Taliban’s destruction of over 200 schools in Swat was arguably the key factor in swinging public opinion and local leaders behind the government’s anti-Taliban offensive there.

Ironically, the attacks may also have the effect of convincing more traditionalist families to allow their daughters to be educated. After all, there’s nothing like being told (violently) you can’t do something to make people want to do it.

One also wonders what effect these attacks have on Taliban recruiting.  The young men who fight for the Taliban want to see themselves as brave fighters for Islam. I’m not sure that blowing up little girls meshes too well with their ideas of heroism.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Are Republicans just the party of “No”?

Posted by sanityinjection on November 4, 2009

When Republican Senators and Congressmen have objected to Democrat initiatives supported by the President – such as the health care reform bill and the climate cap-and-trade bill – one of the criticisms leveled at the GOP (and dutifully repeated ad nauseam by the Obamedia) is that they are simply obstructionists who say “No” and never offer any counter-proposals of their own.

Of course, this is not true. Republican House and Senate leaders almost always offer alternate legislation on every major issue, which is routinely rejected by the Democrat majority and quite deliberately ignored by the media. Which makes the charge of obstructionism appear legitimate to the average person.

Case in point: The House Republican leadership, headed by Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, is working on a draft of its own proposal for health care reform. They plan to offer the bill when debate starts on the issue within the next week or so.

Compared to the Democrats’ 1,990-page legislation, the Republican draft currently stands at 230 pages, according to the Associated Press which has obtained an advance copy.  Here is a quick summary of what the GOP bill looks like:

  • Does not force more businesses to provide health insurance or force citizens to purchase it, but allows small businesses to pool together to purchase health care for their employees
  • Does not force insurance companies to accept everyone with a pre-existing condition into their general risk pool of policies. Instead, those patients would be able to buy into expanded high-risk pools.
  • Makes it easier to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to pay for insurance premiums
  • Limits medical malpractice liability for punitive damages after the model enacted in California and Texas, thereby reducing costs and unnecessary procedures
  • Rewards states for programs that save money and reduce the number of uninsured
  • Increases competition by allowing citizens to purchase health insurance across state lines
  • Protects individuals from having their health insurance policy arbitrarily cancelled by their insurer

One other item in the bill is stronger language prohibiting federal funding of abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother. While I personally agree with that, I think it may alienate some who could otherwise have supported the bill.

The GOP bill presents a very clear choice compared to the Democratic proposal. The Democrat bill is focused on establishing universal health care for all Americans at a massive cost which is only partially paid for by raising taxes. The Republican bill is focused on reducing the costs of health insurance across the board, thereby helping both those who already have insurance and those who will be able to afford it for the first time.

To make an analogy: If a poor child and a rich child’s toys fall into a deep well, which is the best way to get them out? The Democrat way would be to make the rich child’s parents hire a crane to lower a maintenance worker down into the well to grab one toy, hoist the person out with the toy and then send them back down again for the other toy. Of course, if the toys later fell in again the whole expensive process would have to be repeated. The Republican way would be to have both children fetch pails of water and empty them into the well until the water level rises enough to bring all the toys floating to the surface and preventing the problem from occurring again.

Why not let the people choose?

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

What does NY-23 mean for the GOP?

Posted by sanityinjection on November 2, 2009

All the buzz in political circles today is about something called “NY-23”. That’s the abbreviation for the 23rd Congressional District of New York State. The reason for the hubbub is that the official GOP candidate in the race, Dede Scozzafava, has dropped out after conservatives surged to support third-party Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman – who doesn’t even live in the district. Hoffman is now likely to beat the Democrat candidate and win the seat, but some on both sides of the aisle are suggesting that this heralds the radicalization of the GOP and the end of moderates in the party.

As usual, the case is being overstated. First of all, Scozzafava had been handpicked by the local GOP county chairs and voters probably resented the echo of 19th century backroom politics. Second, Scozzafava wasn’t just a moderate Republican who could appeal to Democrats and independents. She was in the mold of Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Lincoln Chafee – far to the left of most Republicans in her district on both social *and* economic issues. In other words, in the GOP, you can be soft on abortion, or you can be soft on government spending, but you can’t be soft on both. Otherwise, why on earth are you a Republican at all?

If Hoffman’s coup really signalled the end of moderate influence in the GOP, that would be cause for concern. But as usual, the media and the political talking heads are reading too much into one event simply because it’s the only game in town. It was a far bigger coup in 1964 when Barry Goldwater captured the Republican nomination for President, and we were told that the moderate wing of the GOP was finished then too.  And certainly a conservative movement did spring from that, culminating in Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich. But let’s not forget that Gerald Ford defeated Reagan for the nomination in 1976, and George Bush Sr. fended off a right-wing challenge from Pat Robertson in 1988. Bob Dole in 1996 and John McCain in 2008 were not the most conservative candidates either. So spare me the funeral dirges for the moderate wing of the GOP just yet.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »