Shots in the Dark: A Not So Random Collection of Thoughts

  • In a much overlooked story from last month, Congress voted to phase-out funding after the 2009-10 school year for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, one of the nation’s few voucher systems. The latest federal study shows the participating students perform better than their public school peers at a QUARTER of the cost that the District of Columbia spends per pupil.

President Obama said he would evaluate programs and policies based on one criterion: “It’s not whether an idea is liberal or conservative, but whether it works.” Yet he’s letting the highly successful voucher program expire. For shame, Mr. President.

  • A group of students at the University of Maryland are planning to follow through with a program that will show Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge, the most expensive porn film ever made, in the face of intimidation and opposition from Maryland Senator Andrew Harris (R) to cut off state funding to the university. The students are asserting their First Amendment rights in defense of the film and I am inclined to agree with them. However, the biggest lesson for the students to learn is this: Government funds always come attached with strings, even strings that limit free speech.
  • North Korea launched a missile over the weekend that drew criticism and tough talk from many world leaders. President Obama said in Prague, “This morning, we were reminded again why we need a new and more rigorous approach to address this threat. North Korea broke the rules once more by testing a rocket that could be used for a long-range missile.”

North Korea is not a credible threat to anyone’s sovereignty or national security and the President’s rhetoric does more harm by giving Kim Jong-Il credibility. The Koreans do not have the funds or technology to be taken seriously and with this launch probably spent the rest of 2009’s budget. It’ll be a very long time before we need to worry about The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.

  • Since I know just about everybody missed it, I highly recommend watching the speech Daniel Hannan, a member of the European Parliament, made to England’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown. It’s on YouTube and it’s only three minutes.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates officially opened the 2009 season in St. Louis on Monday afternoon with an exciting comeback win. If the Bucs fail to post a .500 or better winning percentage, it will be the 17th consecutive losing season, setting a new record for futility in all of professional sports. Since all I’ve ever known is terrible baseball, I fully encourage this team to blow as many games as possible. We’ve come this far, it’s only right that we finish the job. But knowing this franchise, they’ll probably fail at this as well and finish 81-81.
  • Iowa’s Supreme Court recently overturned the state’s ban on gay marriage, prompting both cheers and criticism. Social conservatives predictably are up in arms. Instead of being an “assault on family values,” I see it as a very clever plan to boost revenue in a recession by attracting the Velvet Mafia, whose members are usually well-traveled, educated, and legitimate DINKs (Double Income, No Kids). Studies have shown gay men spend more when they travel than straight men. Genius move, Iowa.
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken has offered to fix potholes in Chicago as long as they could put their logo on the asphalt but the city balked and taxpayers will continue to supply the funding. The government has effectively said that advertisements are more of a public nuisance than potholes.
  • George W. Bush was very harshly criticized for firing US attorneys (his own employees) and Congressional hearings were even held as to the legitimacy of the former President’s actions. Yet President Obama fires General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner and there’s no outcry. The double-standard is fascinating.
  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced a joint bank venture last Friday. The “Bi-National Iranian-Venezuelan Bank” has an initial capital base of 200 million dollars with each nation supplying half of the funds. Chavez spoke of their economic model: “Capitalism needs to go down. It has to end. And we must take a transitional road to a new model that we call socialism.” It has to be asked then, what exactly will this bank do?
  • On March 31, 2008, the United States Department of Defense confirmed that Michael A. Monsoor would posthumously receive the Medal of Honor for his valiant and selfless actions to save the lives of his SEAL teammates by sacrificing his own, during combat in Ramadi, Iraq on September 29, 2006.

An insurgency fighter closed in on the overwatch position Monsoor was occupying and threw a fragment grenade into the overwatch position which hit Monsoor in the chest before falling in front of him. Monsoor yelled “Grenade!” and dropped on top of the grenade prior to it exploding. Monsoor’s body shielded the others from the brunt of the fragmentation blast and two other SEALs were only wounded by the remaining blast.

One of the key aspects of this incident was the way the overwatch position was structured. There was only one access point for entry or exit and Monsoor was the only one who could have saved himself from harm. Instead, knowing what the outcome would be, he fell on the grenade to save the others.

No matter your beliefs, thank a soldier the next time you see one and remember unknown heroes like Michael Monsoor whose stories are not reported.

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