Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A journalist's work is never done

I've always used the O.J. trial as an example of a mass media extravaganza-slash-orgy-slash-"there sure are a lot of blonde women with microphones here all of a sudden" gone absolutely amok. Now there's going to be another one? I'll have to add a clarifying Roman numeral, like people do for the second President Bush! O.J., you inconsiderate dolt!

What's this guy's deal, anyway? Is he deranged? Greedy? The victim of circumstance? I don't know. Frankly, I don't care. Why does everyone else seem to?

This has been a brief public service announcement from your severely irritated opinions editor.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cheer up, Charlie

There's something about watching Notre Dame suffer that makes me a little giddy inside. Maybe it's their arrogant student body. No, I don't know enough of them to really care. I'm pretty sure it's their consistently overrated football team. Yeah, that has to be it.

Good old Notre Dame is almost always ranked among the best college football teams in the country. They may be famous for their gold helmets, die-hard fans, and Rudy, but lately they haven't done a whole lot for their football program. I couldn't be a happier Notre Dame hater this season.

If you haven't heard, Notre Dame has started the season 0-3. They haven't even scored an offensive touchdown. (Because I'm an Iowa fan, I'd like to take this moment to point out that we haven't allowed a touchdown this season. Maybe we should play ND.) To add insult to injury, their schedule isn't looking any better either. They play Michigan State this weekend, a team they struggled to beat a year ago. Next comes Purdue and UCLA, followed by Boston College and USC. Yes, USC. It may be premature, but is it possible that Notre Dame might start the season 0-8? Hell, even if they beat two of those teams, we're still talking 2-6, right? Beautiful!

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is on the hot seat--sort of. He signed a huge contract extension in 2005, so it looks like he may be around a while longer. It'd be nice if this overrated coach helped this overrated team finish one of their worst seasons ever. But then I realized something. Even if Notre Dame fails to make it to a bowl game this year (you need six wins to qualify), I wouldn't be surprised to see them ranked in the top 10 next season.

Why? Because Notre Dame is always ranked. Always overrated. Always a win (or 12) away from a national championship. So cheer up, Charlie. It'll be okay. And if you're not convinced, hum this excerpt from Gene Wilder's 'Willy Wonka.' It's frightening, but I think it was written for you, Charlie.

"Cheer up, Charlie
Give me a smile
What happened to the smile I used to know
Don't you know your grin has always
Been my sunshine;
Let that sunshine show..."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Never Forget" the rest of the story

The flag waved at half-staff above the Old Capitol today, September 11, 2007. Six years ago, nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in the worst terrorist attack ever on our native soil. The courageous and patriotic response that day is often replayed on the anniversary; the names of those murdered are read aloud at the site of what was once the World Trade Center towers.

"Never forget," they say--in fact, everyone says it. And I haven't forgotten. No, I'll never lose sight of what the United States lost that morning. But perhaps more important than remembering those we lost, we should make an honest effort to never forget what happened afterward, either.

September 11 is a touchy subject, so I'll tread lightly. I've been critical of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani using the attacks to highlight his foreign policy resume. Shame on him--or anyone else--for politicizing that dreadful day.

The fact remains, though, that the response wasn't handled properly. President Bush, whom I admired for uniting the country in the days and weeks after the attacks, has squandered his opportunity to bring justice to those who murdered our friends, relatives, and loved ones that day. I believed Mr. Bush when he stood at Ground Zero a few days later and assured every American that our nation wouldn't stand idly while our enemies attacked us on our own soil.

Osama bin Laden was wanted "dead or alive," remember? T-shirts with his image centered behind cross hairs were popular online, and as American troops zeroed in on him in Afghanistan, it seemed a matter of time before NBC would interrupt its evening coverage to announce his capture.

Six years later, and bin Laden is still on the loose.

I disagree with the president's misadventure in Iraq. If only he dedicated the same time and resources in Afghanistan, perhaps our military could have arrested bin Laden as swiftly as we toppled Saddam Hussein's government. I don't think anybody anticipated that bin Laden would remain at large six years after the 9/11 attacks; how can the president justify invading Iraq and hanging its leader when he still hasn't finished off al-Qaeda or Osama bin Laden?

I'll never forget that day--can anybody? But as long as we're preserving the memory of the dead, let's make an effort to remind ourselves of what they died for and how they were avenged. If you think about it that way, it's depressing. The mastermind of that assault on America is alive and releasing messages to commemorate the anniversary of the day he fought America--and won.

I'd certainly like the president to keep that in mind while he considers what he's done since taking his oath of office to defend our land. Frankly, President Bush should be ashamed of himself.