Saturday, January 31, 2009

Zimbabwe's dying

I've been following this obscene crisis for some time now. The abuses of power and the human rights violations are horrendous. The media in this country could care less.

That's the thing that's truly disturbing. Zimbabwe has the potential to be a jewel in southern Africa. Plenty of arable land, enough to feed themselves and enough to help feed their neighbors. It shares one of the greatest natural wonders on the planet in Victoria Falls. A country that could be on top of the world finds itself with massive unemployment, hyper-inflation so severe that the local currency is no longer viable, rampant famine, and a cholera outbreak that is burning out of control.

I could go on and on about why the country got that way, but that's not going to accomplish anything. What we need to do is help. President Obama, to little fanfare, has begun to look into things. I do give him credit for that. The problem is, he is going about it the wrong way. Sanctions via the United Nations is not the answer. Russia and China have too much invested in Robert Mugabe's government to allow anything to happen to cause Mugabe's regime to fall. That's the only way to get Zimbabwe to begin the long road to recovery.

It has to be us. The United Nations is cutting the food rations that are being sent to Zimbabwe. The International Red Cross is threatening to pull out of the country because they are running out of money fighting the cholera outbreak. The African Union can only do so much but are hesitant to go against Mugabe. Zimbabweans in Diaspora from Great Britain are helping, but that can only go so far.

Mugabe must be removed from power. The only way that can be done is physically. Morgan Tsvangirai is trying. He is entering into a power sharing agreement that is very bad for the MDC. Mugabe's Zanu PF will still control a majority of the government, including the army. It's a start, but I'm afraid that as soon as Mr. Tsvangirai becomes a threat to Mugabe, he will be removed and probably killed.

What can we do? Simple. Give to the International Red Cross and plead with them to stay. You can also get letters, phone calls, and e-mails out to your Senators and House members. Let them know that this regime can't be allowed to continue.

Building nature isn't the answer

This story I came across today in the LA Times sounds good on the surface, but there are a few problems. First, when the CCC was formed, this country was in a serious depression. Unemployment was rampant, nobody could buy anything. Today we are struggling, don't get me wrong, but things aren't nearly as bad as the '30's.

It was a different era. A lot of working age people were not literate. Health care was primitive by today's standard. People's work ethic was a lot stronger than today.

And that's the problem. How many under-educated inner city kids will be willing to move hundreds of miles from home to take on a hard, physical job? Why would they want to when the gangster lifestyle is more profitable with fewer risks? How many white collar workers would be willing to chuck it all for a menial, physical, and dirty job?

I think that the people who think a jobs program similar to this are just looking for the easy way out. There is no way that a job program like this can be sustainable. None. That is what this country needs right now.

Remember, the US didn't fully come out of the Great Depression until World War II broke out. Supplying arms and ammunition to Britain and her allies began the turn around. Taking unskilled workers and training them into manufacturing jobs is what pulled this country out of the depression.

Do we have what it takes to find a way to recover from this recession? I believe so. How? That is for people smarter than I. I do know that throwing money around like drunken sailors on pay day isn't the answer.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Bowl? Meh...

I haven't closely followed the NFL in many years. I do pay a bit of attention, mostly because the drama over the Packers here is too funny not to watch. The Favre debacle was pure gold.

As a Cubs fan and Sharks fan, I'm used to cheering for the underdog. I even get a thrill watching a 15 seed try to upset a #2 in March when the NCAA tourney comes around. So why can't I seem to get behind the ultimate underdog, the Arizona Cardinals?

A team that, before this year, had only won one playoff game since 1947 certainly qualifies as an underdog. A team that has struggled for an identity and a fan base in the desert proves their status as the biggest underdog franchise outside of Detroit.

I just can't do it. I wish I knew why. Everyone likes rooting for the little guy.

Maybe it's the Warner effect. A guy coming from nowhere to lead a team to the promised land. The problem there is he has already done it. No story there. Could it have been the Edgerrin James signing mirrored the Reggie White to Green Bay signing a little too much? I don't know.

Maybe it's how they got here. After years and years of bad drafts and even worse free agent signings the Cardinals started to do things right. Year after year of solid, high draft choices and key free agent signings. They are not a Cinderella team. The analysts know how they did it. The right way. 9-7 is not a record to put fear into their opponents. All they did in the playoffs is take on all comers in all situations and dispatched them all. The right way. Just like champions before them. And maybe champions just like them.

The Cup or bust?

I was thinking last night after the Sharks beat the Coyotes that at the pace they are going, will anything short of the Stanley Cup be considered a successful season for the Sharks? At this point, I'm not sure. Ever since their unreal 9-2 October, the Sharks have been near or at the top of the NHL. Nabokov playing stellar in net, the top three lines producing, all of the blueliners stepping up big time (Including Joslin), and an entire team effort nearly every night. Going into tonight's games, the Sharks hold a 24 point lead over Phoenix and Anaheim. Short of a major meltdown, the division should be well in hand.

The scary part is, Mitchell and Roenick have been out for quite some time and Boyle and Lukowich have been out for a short time. Without them, the Sharks still are dominating most teams they play. With them back, the Sharks have a very talented and fast lineup. The bad part is, when all four of them come back, who gives way to make room on the roster? Joslin, unfortunately, will get the short end of that stick. I understand that it's the easiest move because he doesn't have to clear waivers. That leaves two forwards that will have to be healthy scratches most nights. Nobody really has played bad enough to be demoted that way.

As a long time Sharks fan, I have yet to get all giddy about the playoffs. I remember the bad old days. When they made the playoffs it was an early exit to Colorado or Dallas. I remember teams with a ton of talent that would fold like a cheap card table in the second round. I'm also among the very small handful of people that would publicly remember the 70 loss year. So, I am a little nervous. There are too many teams that are right around the 8th seed that are capable of catching the Sharks off guard.

If things do work out and the Sharks do reach the conference finals but lose, will the season be a successful one? That depends. If the Sharks are knocked out by Detroit, I'm forced to say no. If they lose at anyone...I think I am also forced to say no as well. It's all or nothing for the Sharks this year. There just isn't enough young talent in Worcester to make up for the amount of veterans who may be gone in a year or two. Don't get me wrong, the Sharks will be among the NHL elite for several more years, it's just their best chance for a cup appears to be this year.

Just ban it already!

I'm getting a little tired of the liberal nannies in this country telling us which legal products we can use where and when. The recent bans on smoking are a perfect example. I am not a smoker. Never have been, but still I do not agree with how far they are going. No smoking inside any building, no smoking outside by the doors. Now, the good folks of Minnesota are introducing a bill to ban smoking in personal vehicles where children are present.

What I would like to ask is why, if these bans are supposed to be for the good of everybody, haven't we banned tobacco completely? Two words. Tax revenue. Without the taxes brought in by the sale of tobacco products, the tax and spend liberals in this country would have to raise taxes more or, gasp, cut spending. Yes, I know that the tobacco lobby in this country is very strong but with how long the industry has been vilified, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if a Senator or Representative wants to be re-elected, they wouldn't support a tobacco prohibition. The plain truth is that the only reason such a ban hasn't been forwarded is the loss of revenue. Plain and simple.

I am an asthmatic due to my stepfather's habit that reached close to two packs a day at one point. Still, I can't support all of these silly bans. If it's illegal, you can't do it anywhere. If it's legal, you have no right to limit it within reason. Because we think it's bad for you isn't a good enough of a reason. Lots of stuff is bad for you. There isn't a big rush to ban coffee, soda, energy drinks, or alcohol. They are personal choices just like tobacco.

I can hear the arguments now. Tobacco affects others, not just the user. To you folks I ask is an alcoholic who goes out and kills himself behind the wheel the only victim? What about his family? Or how about the busy executive who ends up with an ulcer the size of a golf ball from too much stress and coffee who doesn't go to the doctor because he doesn't have enough time and collapses? Unless you are a homeless drifter with no friends and family, your actions affect someone. I don't need the government to protect me from me. I need them to protect me from them.

Sharks and Bears v.2


I have decided to revive my blog after 17 months of abandonment. It is also going through a bit of a retooling. Instead of trying to make serious social and political commentary, I will be writing about whatever catches my fancy at the time. That will revolve around sports (Cubs in the summer and Sharks in the winter), news, politics, and whatever else I come across.

Now, about me. I'm a Conservative, white male in the advertisers key demo. Forced to deal with Wisconsin's seven months of winter for nearly 32 years, it has left me a little bitter about the human condition. If you have seen some of the news stories coming out of Wisconsin, you will understand why.

Look for sporadic updates as my job, my quest for a new job, and my kids take up a fair amount of my time.

Welcome and please comment freely!