Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

As it gets closer to Fall, the one sport I truly love to watch, either in person or on television, is hockey.  For years, I have gone to see the local team here, The Fayetteville FireAntz and there predecessors the Fayetteville Force.  While not quite up to the level of play as their NHL counterparts, it is always entertaining and the league they belong to, the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) has continued a regular growth of teams throughout the South.  None of the SPHL teams is a super money making franchise.  They all receive awesome local support, with more than half of the teams located around military bases.  This leads to a regular, if not packed house of fans willing to take advantage of low ticket prices, expensive beer and vending, and chances to meet and greet the players as they supplement their meager pay with local jobs and appearances.

The big brother of the SPHL and all the smaller professional leagues has decided for the fourth time in 2o years to lock out the players.  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman imposed a midnight September 15th date for lockout if negotiations with the players union did not come to agreement with the league.  Now, as we looked forward to pre-season hockey starting in September, we wonder whether or not there will be a season or not.  The NHL is following a string of contentiousness found among professional sports in general when it comes to revenue sharing and other issues.

The NHL over the last few years has experienced a growth in revenue, television exposure, and even had a major move of a team last year to one of the early cities of hockey, Winnipeg, Canada.  The breakout Jets did very well for a team that moved from a market in which they were a constant under-performer, both financially and in the win column.  This last is one of the key points the player association wants addressed in negotiations.

The players want part of the revenue stream siphoned off to help under-performing markets/teams.  Make no mistake, they also want to grab a share of the steadily rising profits for their own paychecks, but considering even the highest paid among them are paid less than their counterparts in other sports, the small percentage boost they are asking for is minimal.  The players, however, are willing to maintain status quo (or were before the lockout) if there is a boost to under-performers.

Hockey is a grassroots sport.  Youth Hockey leagues in the States are growing each and every year, throughout the country.  Canada has a bit of an advantage over the states in that regard as much of the country sees hockey in the same way that Americans see football or baseball.  Many Canadian children are on skates as soon as they can walk.  This is becoming the norm in America as well.  Our northern states like Minnesota and Wisconsin have the Canadian weather and influence to help it along, while other states throughout the country are introducing more ice rinks in cities were support of the sport at all age levels can be supported.  In the states, hockey is not a cheap sport and it is quite the commitment for families.  One of the things may of these leagues look forward to is the participation of NHL pros in the camps and seminars.  The youth hockey leagues need the support, and receive the support, of these pros.  They know what it takes to get to the top and provide their support at the entry level to help groom new crops of players.  Hockey is probably only rivaled by soccer as a sport in which the professionals offer and volunteer more time to development of future generations.  Players do not forget where they came from.

Gary Bettman has done a lot for hockey in his tenure as the NHL President.  Working on the backside, he has given a vision and implemented a plan that has gained hockey more exposure and increased revenue.  This despite the embarrassing season long lockout that caused the Stanley Cup not to be handed out for the first time since 1919.  At least in 1919, there was concern over a world wide Spanish Flu pandemic to lay blame on.  It seems to me what Bettman is lacking, despite his business skills and vision, is the ability to reconcile the business aspects of the league with the grassroots core that it relies upon.  Chances are real good that we will have no pre-season hockey next week, and the October 11th start is probably in jeopardy as well.  Here is to hoping there will be an NHL puck drop in the very near future.  After all, the league has revenue, it is really down to what is an equitable distribution of that revenue.

I just watched the video that unfortunately went viral recently, Kony 2012.  That is 29 minutes and 59 seconds of my life I can never get back.  For those of you into mental self-mutilation, I bring to you KONY 2012

Now, before I go too deep into a diatribe, let me state a few things.  First, Joseph Kony and people like him need to be stopped, whenever and wherever possible.  Second, the idea Invisible Children Inc. is based on has merit, I believe it is an honorable and noble goal all humans should strive for.  Third, the ideal of Invisible Children Inc. is fatally flawed and doomed for failure.

I will first entertain with a short video response from the comedic group of Action Figure Therapy as their character “Ranger” responds to the Kony 2012 video.  Ranger is the most outspoken of all the characters and he is usually the front man for response to controversial topics.

Now that I have all that out of the way, let me throw my own bit of Ranger-ness to the equation.  Joseph Kony is a blight on humanity, who takes little children from their homes, forces them to kill their parents and family members, turns little girls into sex slaves, foster an environment of death and violence among young and mentally undeveloped children that cannot be rivaled.  He is not the only user of children to build his power base and spread his violence, and he is definitely not the only one to do so in Africa.  Africa, while not having the monopoly on child warriors, do seem to be a breeding ground for the “how to” manuals of anyone with megalomaniacal aspirations of total dominion, but the inability to actually govern.  Child warriors have always been around, the difference between child warriors fighting in concert with adults to protect their homes and families and what Kony and other gutter-scum like him do is they use these children for their own sick, twisted reasons.  There is no “cause” or unified fight for survival; it is simply because he can.

Invisible Children Inc has a lot of merit in their ideology and to a point some of their approach would work well in conjunction with other means.  The fatal flaw in the approach and ideology is they want to bring Kony and others like him to justice, i.e., arrest and try and convict him.  According to the video I watched, they would stop at nothing to make it happen.  The problem I see with that overarching statement is, they only see what is in front of them, they do not realize what the ramifications of simply arresting Kony would be, that the only children who could possibly returned to their families and live some sort of a normal life are only those who are recent captures and have not been indoctrinated to the life yet.  They fail to see that the 30,000 number they quote as abducted members of the Lords resistance Army, have moved beyond normal human thinking and feeling.  The other problem I see with their blanket statement is, they really are not prepared to do “anything” to get it done, they are not willing to pull the trigger, they are not willing to become even part of the animal required to hunt down and end Kony’s reign of terror, nor are they smart enough to realize that since the LRA is no longer in Uganda proper, the Ugandan government would have to invade sovereign countries or at least violate their borders in order to “capture” Kony at this point.

You see there are multiple things that go into a “cause”, especially a just one.   You need to inform, something Invisible Children is doing pretty well in the grand scheme of things.  You also need to make the effort a priority in order to dedicate the assets required to it; something President Obama has done by dedicating some military “advisers” to aid in the cause.  You need to provide clear guidance on what the end objective is to be to those charged with the disposition of events.  Those who are to carry out the deed need to be dedicated, professional, relentless, ruthless, and at certain points compassionate.  Finally, you need to provide support and understanding to those who complete the objective; chances are they will have to transform themselves into something or someone else in order to bring things to fruition.  You see someone like Kony, who has no country to speak of, is not in charge of a great rebel force fighting for their country, they are monsters.  Monsters do not care about being prosecuted in the International Criminal Court.  Monsters ruin and use, right up until they get a bullet in the head, blown up, or they have grown so beyond their own power they are replaced by someone else will to take the reigns and move things to the next level.

The problem with Central African warlords is there never seems to be a shortage.  Just like the head of the Hydra, you chop one off and there stands double ready to take the place of the last.  It is not simply a matter of removing the head in case like this.  The body unfortunately is poisoned as well and you must cut it down to a level where the cancer can no longer spread.  Simply removing Kony will not stop what is happening.  That is the sad part these young idealists do not realize, nor will they understand.  More than likely they will change focus from the horrors perpetrated by the LRA to focusing their misspent rage and tons of their parents monies on the people who have the fortitude and aptitude to carry out what needs to be done.

Having been to Africa, I can attest to the beauty, the danger and to a certain extent the draw of the place.  This is even before you get to the people.  When 9/11 happened I was preparing to go help train Nigerian soldiers to perform peace keeping duties in Sierra Leone.  Another country whose civil war included genocide, child soldiers, blood diamonds and countless other atrocities.   While in Nigeria, I was part of a convoy chased out of a town by several hundred Islamist teens, got to witness the aftermath of tribal and religious warfare perpetrated on villages and I got to meet some pretty amazing people who celebrate their life and their families.  A very fundamental part of me can and appreciate the allure that is Africa.

As an American and a soldier and a family man, one of the problems I have with Invisible Children, George Clooney, and all these other do-gooders is they fail to look at the issues within our own borders and focus their energies on fixing them.  Do they think America is beyond repair or are they so ignorant to the issues here that they cannot muster the same level of outrage as they do for Africa.  They seem to not care that America is one of the biggest purveyors of human traffic and sexual slavery in the world.  They do not seem to care about the hidden layers of violence along the U.S./Mexico border.  There does not seem to be the same level of effort into making sure there are quality foods provided our children in their school lunches, that many Americans have bought so far into the misinterpretation of the American Dream that they have buried themselves so far in debt their children and in some case grandchildren will feel the effects of it.  They fail to see the merits of fixing our own house before we try and help other people to live in our image.  Forty some odd years ago, Elvis Presley sang a song called “In the Ghetto”, and in it he used some pretty descriptive lyrics to describe the life of the poor in urban centers.  The unfortunate part is, the song is still just as, if not more relevant today than it was back then.

I agree with Invisible Children that it will take famous people to spread the cause.  I in a way admire George Clooney for his work in the Sudan.  At least he has the integrity and balls to go there himself and do the work he has shown in documentaries and in the political realm.  Where someone such as old George loses his effectiveness and integrity is when he has the ability to invite folks back to his Italian Villa and sip champagne with him and Stacy Keebler on the heels of another successful sneaking into Darfur and back out again. My fellow service members and I have spent untold time away from home during our careers policing up the ills of the world and trying to make it a better place, we are just happy to make it back in one piece, kiss and hug our family and maybe have a little celebratory cookout on the deck of one of our Fayetteville homes.

As a country we need to continue to aid other, less fortunate countries, however, we need to do quite a bit of housekeeping and some renovation in our own house before we invest too deeply in others.  It is hard in my mind to provide any more than the 100 advisers we have in central Africa right now to chase a madman who will probably be replaced before his corpse is cold, when we are doing nothing at home to stop the violence along our southern border, or the wanton sexual slavery readily available on Craigslist or Backpage.  It would also be a pretty good idea that if you are using your child as a demonstration point for your how to solve the world’s ills video, that you not get caught running around in your underwear, vandalizing cars and “spanking your Kony” in public.

In today’s world, many service members get the impression that just because they have access to a social media venue that they have the right to say whatever the hell they want.  Since the Global War on Terror began way back in 2001, all the military services have striven to capitalize on the available of high-bandwidth solutions across the globe in order to provide themselves with the ability to move intelligence and time sensitive information into the hands of those who need it and whenever possible when they need it most.  A by-product of this has been an increasing level of connectivity of the warfighters to their families, thousands of miles away.  As a military communicator, I can tell you that at times, the warfighting effort has suffered due to the misapplication of bandwidth towards morale, welfare and recreation activities.

Along with all the means of connectivity provided us from forward locations, there has been a weakening of the enforcement of what is and what is not acceptable to post on your personal media accounts.  Just a few years ago my little foray into blogging would have given me fits at work.  I would have needed approval from someone in authority to post this blog and probably would not be able to mention the military or my involvement at all.  While I try to speak of anything of a military nature in the most general of terms, I also make a conscious effort not violate the sanctity of posting about issues that affect me at work.  You should not air your dirty laundry, that is sensationalism and if you are attempting to prove a point, you will more than likely undermine your efforts by bringing something to a public forum that has no bearing on the issue at hand.

There have been a rash of violations in recent years that have resulted in service members being punished for violating policies when it comes to social media and overall internet usage in general.  There have been several times people have been given non-judicial punishment (an Article 15, or non-courtmartial offense) for posting the death of a comrade before the next of kin has been notified. In my opinion, this is one of the most egregious violations that can be made.  It is hard enough for next of kin to hear the news by those who are tasked with such an important service, never mind seeing it on someone’s FaceBook status.  Various other violations have happened as well.  Basically, if there is something you can do on a social media service, it has been done to the detriment of someone’s pay and possibly their rank.  On the extreme end of things we have someone like Bradley Manning (I refuse to call him by his rank) who has taken it upon his vastly experienced self to let the world know the horror that is the War on Terror and the atrocities that have been committed by releasing several hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks, the electronic watchdog of the collective social conscious of an otherwise humane world.

Today we can move to the case of Marine Sergeant Gary Stein and the issue that the Marine Corps is currently wrestling with; can the service censor or order Stein to remove himself from a Facebook page he started and comments he has made against President Obama, or, will it be a violation of his 1st Amendment rights.  Also in question are what rights are service members accorded and when can they make statements as a military member, but not as a military member.  Confusing, yes it is, but I will try to explain, caveating this with, as a person from an older generation of service members, I may have an opinion that has changed or morphed from what was acceptable when I entered service oh, so many years ago.

As I get closer to the 20 year mark in my career, I can see why the military sets it as the first benchmark for retirement.  There are, and have always been, generational differences that happen as new soldiers enter service and the older ones begin to leave.  Technology changes, policy changes, world changes all play a part in the span of a career.  When I came in the Army in 1993, the US was transitioning from a Cold War mentality to one of global policing.  Having moved through the ranks in the years since then, we transitioned even further to a lighter, global terrorism fighting force still capable of fighting a known nation-state, yet struggling early on to shift our procedures to adapt to our mobile, less technologically advanced enemy.  As I get closer and closer to the year I will retire, 2 to 4 years from now, I realize the burden of change for the next generation of leaders will be to deal with the continuing burden of technology and the positives and negatives that arise from a force having so much electronic access.

As someone who grew up in a military that was tasked with supporting and defending the Constitution, we were not exactly blessed with all the rights afforded civilians by it.  I mean we have our own set of laws, the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and there are only two routes of appeal if you feel you have been wrongly convicted of a crime by a General Court Martial.  you first would go to the US Court of Military Appeals and as a last resort could petition the US Supreme Court.  That is it.  The fact of the matter is however, we as a military are becoming more and more accepting of an off-duty frame of mind which seems to allow us to separate ourselves from our contractual obligations.  This includes what service members are allowed to do in their personal time, including posting remarks that directly condemn the man you were sworn to follow the orders of.  Make no mistake, I do not have anything against speaking out when you feel a policy is wrong, as long as you can provide an alternative solution to the problem, otherwise you are doing nothing bu bitching.  I draw the line when you say you will not follow the orders of the man (maybe woman one day), then rethink your position and amend your statement to one you believe is”unlawful”.  When it comes down to your place on the battlefield SGT Stein, the order has been through enough hands and amendments, that it should not be up to you to decide whether or not the order is legal or not.  Should you choose not to follow it, you would be disobeying an order in contradiction to your oath of enlistment and the UCMJ.  When it comes to Sergeants, we decide what is legal or illegal as it is happening in front of us, I don’t know, like maybe some of your colleagues pissing on dead enemy combatants while someone films it, or the crimes against detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.  Those are issues you can have a direct effect upon, not the decision of national level leaders, who by the way is your Commander in Chief.

A couple of us were discussing a topic similar to the last statement made just the other day.  The consensus was, while none of us may have agreed with most or any of his political policies, we do not blame him for everything that has happened over the last four years.  That would make us no better than the people who spent all the time blaming everything on Bush when it takes just a little research to realize the truth.  The bottom line is we volunteered for our duty, some of us stay with it because it is a calling, but we all give up some freedoms in our volunteerism because it is required in order to maintain the good order and discipline needed to sustain a professional fighting force.  You cannot compare what is afforded the civilian populace with what is afforded military members.  The rules are different and the results of violating them are harsher and quicker to come to fruition.  That is a by-product of having the guns, we need a swifter resolution to our violations of the sacred trust of protecting the population.  When we do not represent our services, our country and the people of it in a respectful manner, there needs to be consequences that are representative of both our ideals of a country and the discipline we violated as a member of the service we represent.  Military members live within the framework of the Constitution, but are not strictly held to it, our code of laws should be enough to address the issues at hand.

So any future Sgt Steins or Bradley Mannings out there, think of your freedoms and the ability to use them like spandex; just because they make it in large sizes does not mean you should actually wear it.  Just because you are offered the ability to use Facebook or Twitter or some other to be named social media service and you have a difference of opinion with someone who has given you an order, does not mean that you should air that grievance and remember, you are not the final authority as to what is legal for you to say or not, everyone has a leader at every level, right up to the Commander in Chief and he answers to a body of people too.

Republican NJ governor Chris Christie is starting to lose some of the shine the GOP has heaped upon him over the last few months.  The voice of reason in the GOP over the last year or so and the one person they were actually interested in running against President Obama, has somehow managed to step on his crank by ordering the flags across the state lowered in honor of the death of Whitney Houston.  This particular order has given rise to a multitude of criticism from citizens of NJ and across the country in general.  Christie has defended his order as a sign of respect for “a daughter of New Jersey”.  In my not so humble opinion there are numerous points of contention with bestowing an honor such as this upon Ms. Houston as tragic as her death may be for her family and fans.  Let me start with the Governor and work my way out because in all honesty, this ended more about him than it actually did Whitney Houston.

Like members of both parties and the Repubilibercrat Ron Paul, Christie is so convinced that HE IS AMERICA, that no matter how the people speak out, he obviously knows better and is not afraid to use his authority to do so.  Christie is the Governor of a state, which has a flag.  He could very well have chosen to lower the flag of the Garden State in memoriam to the entertainer, but no he had to elevate his power to the point of allowing his office and his state represent the collective sense of loss for the entire American Republic when he ordered the American flag be lowered as well.  Like many, I will be so bold as to say MOST, politicians these days, Christie took the authority of his office and despite the criticism, decided to do what he wanted simply because he could and he was arrogant enough to do so.  Admittedly he does exude quite the air of confidence and calm despite his rotund and portly figure, but considering America has turned in to one of the fattest nations on earth, I guess he is just representing us in a physical sense as well.

Politically speaking NJ has always been a bit schizophrenic.  Traditionally it is labeled as Democrat and a liberal state, yet the ideals when you speak across the people are more conservative in nature.  One of the many reasons for this is NJ is a heavy union state and they traditionally vote more towards Democrat than Republican.  I remember working construction back in 90 and talking to a union man who had just come back from voting for Clinton because that is what his delegate told everyone to do since that is who they were backing.  This despite the fact he was a Republican.  Since just about every career field in the NJ area is represented by a fairly robust and strong union, the state tends to run blue.  Considering the liberal bent of NJ from a political standpoint it was also not a surprise to see Christie exercise his capacity to be the Master Calibrator of the collective moral compass and veto the legalization of same-sex marriage.  He claims he wants it to be based upon the voice of the people and a public vote held.  We should all be aware that this generally means a politicians does not have the balls to say or do what he needs to do, they are trying to appease their party by not going against it’s core beliefs and give themselves the appearance of a person of the people.  Too bad he blew that appearance when he did not listen to the people and NOT lower the flags to half-mast.

Ok, to get back on track to the original topic.  Lets address Whitney Houston and her role in this whole mess; she died.  Period.  Honestly, was anyone really surprised when they heard about it?  I am not trying to be callous about it, I am sure to her close friends and family it was a tragedy, any death of a family member should be a tragedy for the family.  That is one of those things that goes undefined when you try to explain family.  But members of the general public, were we really surprised. really?  Maybe by the timing or of the circumstances, but this was not exactly a Black Swan event in the history of the world.  Like many entertainers that came before her, it was the circumstances of her chosen career which in some way led to her death.  Just in the last 40 years or so alone, how many musicians have succumbed to not only the immediate ravages of addiction and abuse, but the continuing effects that happened as a result of that abuse, despite no longer using mind altering chemicals.

In some way Whitney Houston died as a symptom of her inability to deal with her fame.  For longer than she was famous and viable as an entertainer, she was just as famous as a sideshow.  Her battles with drugs and alcohol were not hidden from the public.  Bobby Brown and she had a regular television show that showcased the issues weekly.  She was known to be a moody and contentious personality to work with.  Ego grown of her success did not diminish at the same rate as her gifts did.  In other words despite her ability to sing, she was, human.  As a human, like the rest of us, we are born to die.  you cannot beat it no matter your talent.

Here is a link to the United States Code which covers Old Glory and who/when it is proper do display under circumstances other than normal. US Code Title 4 .

The particular paragraph below should draw your attention, but please read the entire chapter.  I hate it when people take a line and twist the context to suit their needs without supplying the supporting phrases that surround it.

(m) The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff. By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States or the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who dies while serving on active duty, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff, and the same authority is provided to the Mayor of the District of Columbia with respect to present or former officials of the District of Columbia and members of the Armed Forces from the District of Columbia. When the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, or the Mayor of the District of Columbia, issues a proclamation under the preceding sentence that the National flag be flown at half-staff in that State, territory, or possession or in the District of Columbia because of the death of a member of the Armed Forces, the National flag flown at any Federal installation or facility in the area covered by that proclamation shall be flown at half-staff consistent with that proclamation. The flag shall be flown at half-staff 30 days from the death of the President or a former President; 10 days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress. The flag shall be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day, unless that day is also Armed Forces Day. As used in this subsection—

(1) the term “half-staff” means the position of the flag when it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff;
(2) the term “executive or military department” means any agency listed under sections 101 and 102 of title 5, United States Code; and
(3) the term “Member of Congress” means a Senator, a Representative, a Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico.
Here is just one of many requests to a local official to not recognize Governor Christie’s proclamation.  I think this is probably the best written one I saw over the last few days.
What do you guys think?

Something I have never been able to wrap my mind around is the public swell of emotion when a famous person dies.  I particularly am unable to grasp the public empathy when they live a lifestyle of various personal abuses and act in a manner that if it were anyone we knew personally would not surprise us at all if we had found out they suddenly died as a result of said behavior.  I do not mean to diminish the sense of loss experienced by their family and close friends, it is expected and completely understandable they would go through that.  When you live a life in the public eye and allow you demons to be on display, why is it then the public in general is shocked and draw together in memorium when just a few days before they were so critical of the most recent display of dysfunction splashed across the tabloids?

There have been numerous musicians in my lifetime that have met a bitter end due to their inability to control their demons.  While still in diapers in a very short span the world lost Jimmy Hendrix, Janice Joplin, and Jim Morrison to some side effect of their drug and alcohol abuse.  Flash forward to the 1980’s and there were numerous musicians, actors and models who fell prey to the early days of the A.I.D.S epidemic.  In the 1990’s we saw Curt Cobain eat a shotgun as his final display of his inability to reconcile his fame, fortune, family and addictions.  In the last year alone there was the death of Amy Winehouse and just this weekend the death of Whitney Houston.  It is too early to tell what caused the death of Whitney Houston, but how much would you like to bet that in some way, shape, or form it will be attributed to the very demons she shared with her ex-husband Bobby Brown and put on public display both in the tabloids and their television show.

Americans both worship and vilify the cultural icons we put up on a pedestal.  They are fodder for the tabloids with their exploits no matter how personal they may be.  Somehow, we also manage to be surprised and saddened when those same actions lead to their death.  Michael Jackson is probably the most famous case of this.  All the debts he racked up while he was alive to help foster his eccentricities is now being paid off as he continues to make as much money in death as he did during life.  Somehow his true and deadly addictions managed to be kept out of public eye until after his death, we just got to witness the great talent he had alongside his completely eccentric and often disturbing life.

We witness famous people enter our popular culture and the vast tabloid battlefield each and every day.  Many are mourned and we speak of the loss for the world with their passing, yet each and everyday a child or children are killed in senseless acts of violence that could have been prevented.  They die through no fault of their own, victims of their genealogy or placement in an unforgiving system.  Their losses may make national headlines due to the heinousness of the crime which killed them, yet we as a country pay more attention to the trial of a doctor who in a display of unethical practice allowed someone who knew to be an addict self-medicate with a powerful anesthetic he prescribed him.  I wonder if the judge on that particular case would show the same level of loss and acrimony to the killers of Zahra Baker or Shaniya Davis.

The system each and every day fails children and more continue to die because among the first programs to get cut on state and federal budgets is social services.  Famous people undress to show their love of animals and protest cruelty towards them.  How about they keep their clothes on and dedicate some time and money towards protecting our youth or helping provide much needed services that would prevent them from becoming just another statistic.

Whitney Houston delivered one of the most memorable performances of our national anthem ever back in 1991.  The thing about that is, it was recorded and now will long outlast her.  There is a whole community out in Washington state that wonders how the system could have failed two little boys, burned to death along with their father, who allegedly could not live without them.  As they were snatched away from the social worker who was supposed to take them to a SUPERVISED visit with their father, a person of interest in the disappearance of their mother, the smell of fuel was evident from the front door as it was slammed in the social workers face.  This social worker called 911 and waited as the police responded to something else and the house became immolated by fire. Despite the pleas of the social worker to 911, her suspicions were not enough to raise the priority as there was a known emergency elsewhere at the time.

“I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”

These words were sung by a woman with an amazing voice and a haunted personal life.  Many people watched her dysfunctional life play out on a weekly tv show and read with shock, awe, and morbid fascination her every foible in the weekly tabloids.  Even someone with a life such as hers can bring words to life with their voice, that is their gift.  I would like to think that in their passing they would rather see the world focus on the words they have sung and find the meaning in them rather than be placed upon a pedestal strictly for the gifts they were given.  Magic is all about illusion, in this case as in most, the magician is the public as we willingly fool ourselves into seeing only the bright spots and not recognizing the picture for what it is.  We pull the wool over our own eyes and draw our focus to our icons rather than aligning our empathy to those who truly need it.