Thursday, August 20, 2009


Tuesday will be the 2nd anniversay of my niece's death. This poem is for her:

For Celina

is born

In 9 seconds,
Or 3 or 7, another


Into spheres of life

Dotted with distasteful stars
And periodic comets to doom
Life on this bubble


In 9 seconds—or 4, or 2—another


Replaces her

Usurper lent a ladder
Like Jacob’s

To fall and give way

To another baby

© Joseph E. Arechavala 11/5/07

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sports Builds Character – I Mean, Characters

Michael Vick is now a member of my beloved Philadelphia Eagles. I’m still trying to digest this. Yeah, yeah, second chances and all. Still, I really wish he’d gone somewhere else.

Sports – successful programs and teams, anyway – seems to build young men – and coaches – who think they can do whatever the hell they want and get away with it. Events seem to bear that out.

Here are a few names:

Rick Pitino
Alex Rodriguez
Kobe Bryant
David Ortiz
Ray Lewis
Allen Iverson
Michael Phelps
Steve McNair

Rape, adultery, theft, drugs, steroids, homicide.

We tell our children sports builds character. What we really mean is losing builds character.

The real message seems to be “Screw ethics – just win, baby!”

Now, can anybody tell me what I should tell my eight-year-old son?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It’s About Time for Obama to Put Up or Shut Up

We’ve been hearing it for months now, this health care debate. And what I’ve yet to see is our President offering anything other than vague generalities which amount to “trust us”, “we’ll take care of you”, and “we need to fix health care now”.

People are unnerved when you go and change something so fundamental in their lives. That is one reason why 9/11 was such a trauma to the country. The American mainland had not been directly attacked in centuries, and here we were suddenly facing the deaths of thousands in our largest city. It shook our fundamental sense of security to the core.

Health care something we also regard as an integral component of our society. We get sick, we go to the doctor. We get hurt, we go to the hospital. Our child becomes ill, we take them to the pediatrician. If something really bad happens, like cancer, we have reasonable assurances our health insurance will cover treatment. If you're going to change that, you’d better be prepared to offer specifics.

Now along come the Democrats, who want to not only change that, but radically change it. The radical nature of this change is scaring the hell out of everyone. And what is Obama doing to reassure us? To outline what the changes actually are? Not much. Innuendo, rumor and outright lies have been flying all over the internet and networks.

It’s time, Mr. President, for the vague generalities to be replaced by concrete proposals. For fuzzy assertions this really won’t bankrupt the country to be replaced by hard numbers. For ultra-right falsehoods to be repudiated with specific truths.

Stop telling us everything’s going to be all right, Mr. President, and start showing us. You're supposed to be our leader.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

File This Under "Why I Don't Watch A Lot of College Sports"

I just read a column on Grio about the racism of college athletics. No, not for using young black men. No, not for not getting them that fat NBA contract or NFL signing bonus. For using their images in a video game without compensating them. This is what is advocated as advancement for blacks?

How about getting the NCAA to graduate a few more of its players rather than tossing them aside after their eligibility expires?

The last I checked, these are supposed to be educational institutions. What are these universities doing to help these young men (almost always from impoverished backgrounds) graduate with degrees and succeed in society? Graduation rates are well below even 30% in many major schools – they should be ashamed of such pathetic figures. Yet, they're not, and nobody calls them on it.

The happy few will go on to NFL and NBA careers (and most of those won’t make the ‘star’ level money), but what about the rest?

These men are tossed away like useless rags once their eligibility is over, while universities rake in millions. Even the best sports careers last but a few precious years, and for many of these men, they don’t happen at all. Injury and the next rookie in line will end their livelihood, and then what? For many of these young men, the answer to that question is a sorry one indeed.

And where does all that money go?

It seems few of the high visibility schools give a damn about these young men and do nothing to help them, and the NCAA, for all its hollow preaching, is even worse. I love sports as much as the next guy does, but is the cost in young lives worth it? Maurice Clarett (or fill in the name of the latest former NCAA star you’ve recently read about being arrested) could be the poster boy for this failed system; what are schools doing to prevent more like him? Sadly, not a whole hell of a lot.

I realize there is some degree of personal responsibility on their part, but how can we expect much when so many of these boys are coddled through a system that now ranks even high-school teams on a national basis, and players are allowed to slide through with no emphasis on education?

School should be about learning, not sports. Sport has its place and its value, but not at the price these young men pay in the long term.

How about getting the NCAA to graduate a few more of its players rather than tossing them aside after their eligibility expires? And how about the NAACP ceasing to tacitly support such a disgrace?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Catchy Lies, But Still Lies

“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of ‘their level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

Those are the words of Sarah Palin, late of the Alaska governor’s office. So now we will have conservatives, good little parrots that they are, mimicking her words. You will be obliged to listen to the endless ‘death panel’ comments all over Fox News. Assuming you watch Fox News.

The Republicans have never let anything so mundane as facts stand in the way of their opposition. It's their great talent, obfuscating behind those sorts of euphemisms – remember the ‘death tax’?

It'll be easy for Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, et al to use and rile up the great, largely ignorant, masses of conservatives who listen to them like gospel and wholeheartedly believe their words come from God directly.

Calling them 'death panels' is catchy and easy to remember. Nowhere near anything truthful, but catchy.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The REAL Date That Lives in Infamy...

Sixty-four years ago today, on the morning of August 6, 1945, a B29 named Enola Gay took off from an airfield on the island of Tinian in the Marianas Islands.

A few hours later, the world changed forever.

A lone bomb dropped from the bomb bay of the aircraft, and detonated over the city of Hiroshima, instantly killing ten of thousands and setting off the nuclear arms race. Since that day, human beings have had the ability to obliterate themselves from this planet, and on more than one occasion have come frighteningly close to doing so.

Some believe the act of dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were criminal acts. Some believe they were a warning to the Soviet Union. Secret talks had been ongoing with the Japanese for months seeking an end to the war. But the United States demanded on unconditional surrender, and the Emperor refused.

So was the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima a criminal act by President Truman? I don’t believe so. Yes, it's true the Japanese has been trying to surrender since 1944. But the US insisted the Emperor had to step down, an absolutely vital step for a post-war Japan, and the Japanese remained stubbornly unwilling. Even after the first bomb, there were still internal arguments among the government and military officers to continue fighting.

The only alternative to the bomb was an invasion of Japan. The casualty estimates were staggering – hundreds of thousands of American lives would be lost, along with many hundreds of thousands of Japanese, mostly civilians.

The government of Japan, all but bankrupt of resources but determined to fight nonetheless, was training young boys to crawl under tanks and blow themselves up, like the kamikazes which had stricken many of our ships. They were teaching young women, equipped only with bamboo spears, to hurl themselves at our soldiers, inviting mass slaughter. People at home were tired, sick of receiving letters from the War Department telling them their sons had died. Truman knew his generals were not enthusiastic about invading. Everyone involved knew the price which would be paid in blood.

And let's not forget Japanese atrocities either, against Koreans, Chinese, and the Filipinos, not to mention our POWs.

History requires a balanced view. History demands it.

We should not exult in this day. It should be a somber remembrance, not only for the lives lost but also those saved - on both sides. I personally believe that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are one of the reasons we're still living on this planet. Without that example, the Soviets and Americans might have been more willing to push that button and kill us all.

This day should be a reminder to us how fragile we really are, and how quickly we would still be able to destroy ourselves if - unthinkably - we chose to do so.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Malkin Thinks All You Unemployed Are Lazy Slobs

“If you put enough government cheese in front of people, they’re just going to keep eating it and you’re just kicking the can down the road.”

That’s the opinion of Michele Malkin, who obviously thinks if all of you lazy morons would just get out, find work, and stop relying on the government dole, our economy would be in great shape. Forget the real world where companies have laid off millions of workers. Forget the real world where the Wall St. big shots still manage to get millions of dollars in bonuses despite being responsible for the worst tanking the economy has seen since the Great Depression.

She thinks you're actually waiting until benefits almost run out before you seriously start searching for work. Really, Ms. Malkin? Have you ever had to pay a mortgage? Buy groceries? Pay for a kid's doctor visit?

I’d love to see your evidence of this. Assuming you actually have some and aren't just spouting--again.

One has to wonder what sort of reality Ms. Malkin inhabits. It certainly isn’t this one.