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On Whitney Houston, Dead at 48

The shocking news that singer Whitney Houston has died at the age of 48 is just breaking. I may have more to say about her death as more becomes known, though I found this excerpt from an especially thoughtful Associated Press article by Nekesa Mumbi Moody particularly interesting:

“Her decision not to follow the more soulful inflections of singers like Franklin drew criticism by some who saw her as playing down her black roots to go pop and reach white audiences. The criticism would become a constant refrain through much of her career. She was even booed during the “Soul Train Awards” in 1989. Sometimes it gets down to that, you know?” she told Katie Couric in 1996. “You’re not black enough for them. I don’t know. You’re not R&B enough. You’re very pop. The white audience has taken you away from them.”

Though I never had the pleasure of meeting her, I met one of her producers at a club in New York and heard wonderful things about her talent. I remember the thrill of hearing her fresh new music when it debuted with her self-titled album, pictured above. As her troubled career spiraled, I found myself wishing she would be her own “Greatest Love of All,” as she sang the song from The Greatest, and truly love herself. This is sad news. I last wrote about Whitney Houston – whose work was phenomenal and deserving of the highest praise – in a review of her last album, which is posted here.

Mississippi Forgiving

Take note, conservatives, anyone-but-Obama types and apologists for Republicans: the governor of Mississippi’s pardon of rapists and murderers is an example of the danger of mixing religion and government. That he pardoned over 200 prisoners, several of whom are on the lam now that a judge has issued an injunction against the inmates’ releases on the grounds that the pardons may have violated the state constitution by failing to give sufficient public notice that the convicts were seeking clemency, on his last day as governor is an act of cowardice.

The former governor, Haley Barbour, is the epitome of a fatcat. The longtime politician and former Republican National Committee chairman, who made a career of lobbying for political favors, is an anti-abortion conservative who condemned an American pastor’s burning of the Koran in Florida and his despicable pardons are an example of Christian forgiveness. One of the murderers Barbour pardoned is David Glenn Gatlin, who walked free after being convicted of murdering Tammy Gatlin in 1994 by shooting his wife in the head as she held their two-month-old child, and then turning the gun on a man named Randy Walker. Barbour’s turning the other cheek, which has within a lawful stroke of the pen endangered the lives of Mississippi residents, ought to remind voters that politicians who pledge to act like Christians in government and impose their faith-based beliefs in matters of state mean it.

So whether Ron Paul is promising to turn the other cheek from a nuclear Islamist Iran or Mitt Romney is pledging to help others with government intervention or Rick Santorum is demanding an end to homosexuality, abortion and contraception, it must be remembered that they aim to practice what they preach.

FCC Case Against CBS Rejected

In a victory this Wednesday for freedom of speech, an appeals court rejected the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to punish CBS for airing an expressive portion of Janet Jackson’s broadcast performance during the 2004 Super Bowl. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled by 2-1 (CBS Corp et al v. FCC, 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 06-3575) that, by imposing a penalty, the FCC “arbitrarily and capriciously” departed from prior policy that exempted “fleeting” indecency from sanctions and that the FCC “improperly imposed a penalty on CBS for violating a previously unannounced policy”.

The FCC released an antagonistic and harsh statement that says the federal agency is disappointed by the decision and intends to use “all the authority at its disposal” to force broadcasters to serve the public interest when they use the so-called public airwaves. A CBS spokeswoman said the network hopes the FCC will “return to the policy of restrained indecency enforcement it followed for decades.” The FCC fined CBS $27,500 for each of the 20 stations it owned when part of Janet Jackson’s anatomy was accidentally and briefly exposed during the halftime performance.

In 2008, the 3rd Circuit voided the fine, but that decision was vacated when the Supreme Court in 2009 upheld the FCC policy in a case brought by Fox News’ parent company, News Corporation, though that 5-4 ruling did not decide whether the policy was constitutional. In this week’s decision, Judge Marjorie Rendell said that the FCC had maintained a “consistent refusal” to treat fleeting nude images as indecent for 30 years, and that there is no justification for punishing CBS, according to Reuters. No word on whether the FCC will appeal the ruling. CBS and News Corporation are outstanding examples of businesses that refuse to sanction their own demise and both companies deserve credit for defending their free speech against the United States government’s censorship. The FCC should not exist because the agency is fundamentally inconsistent with freedom of speech in the first place. But this week’s Philadelphia court decision, which goes to show that fighting on principle is good, practical business, is better than the alternative.

News: Civilization Strikes Back

The Hippies (whom I wrote about on October 13 in my post, “From Woodstock to Wall Street“) may control New York City, where they have seized lower Manhattan, halted traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge and threaten to spread their mayhem. But today the city of Oakland, California, took back its streets from the anti-capitalist thugs. Police there have reportedly arrested many of the squatters and cleared out the lawless Hippies. That this happened in the Bay Area, the geographical center of the New Left movement, before it happened in weak and ineffective New York City, where the mayor’s unearned guilt over his own wealth has put him in paralysis when it comes to enforcing the law, is fitting for our troubled times. The law should be enforced in other American cities, too. Nearly 50 years ago, the U.S. sent troops to force Southern states to comply with the law. If the nation’s cities let the Hippies run wild and refuse to comply with the law, the U.S. must do the same. We should not tolerate lawlessness in our cities. It is long past time to sweep the parks and streets clean of filthy thugs, criminals and squatters, vacate these wretched, unwashed Hippies and restore the law. It is time to start the end of the age of the New Left, leave the herd behind and clear the way for new intellectuals who stand for reason, egoism and capitalism.

Death of a Dictator

Eight months after the Obama administration initiated a military invasion of Libya, another Islamic terrorist state-sponsoring dictator is dead. Though this is breaking news, and reports are conflicting, Libya’s interim prime minister confirmed reports that longtime dictator Moammar Khadafy has been killed. Khadafy attacked the United States through numerous terrorist acts of war including a disco bombing in Berlin and, according to investigators, the 1988 mass murder of Americans in the bombing of Pan Am 103, an act which was claimed by others, including an Iranian-backed group and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Khadafy was far from being the worst state sponsor of the jihadist Moslem war against America. Iran and Saudi Arabia are widely known throughout history to encourage, sponsor and/or initiate catastrophic acts of war against the United States. While Khadafy’s death is good, his demise is decades overdue, and, as I wrote when Osama bin Laden was killed, picking off Islamic terrorist-sponsors, chieftains and combatants is not the way to win the war. In fact, because we are not actively declaring and fighting the war, we are losing the war.

“The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted,” President Obama reportedly said of the end of Khadafy’s dictatorship, emphasizing that the end of Khadafy’s regime was executed by the U.S. for the sake of others, not as an act of American self-interest. Obama, like his predecessor, opposes an act of self-interest. He demands that foreign policy, war and the risk of losing American soldiers be based upon sacrifice for others, never for our own sake. But even on his own terms, the President, who is obviously going to run for re-election as the commander-in-chief who killed Khadafy, bin Laden and assorted terrorist chiefs, is jumping to conclusions. We don’t know what the actions of Barack Obama, whose statements, policies and wars have encouraged the overthrow of Arab nationalist dictators and destabilized north Africa, mean for the Middle East and Africa. It is too soon to tell.

Most experts agree that Tunisia, Egypt and Libya (not to mention Syria, Yemen and much of Africa) will become more liberal, devolve into some form of Islamic dictatorship or drift back and forth. If they fall to jihadists, Mubarak and Khadafy will look like liberals in comparison, inflaming the threat of a Saudi-Iran proxy war and threatening the West. Obama’s war in Libya cost the U.S. $1 billion, risked American lives and was another amorphous military entanglement without a purpose, goal or compelling national self-interest. That it resulted in an act of tribal justice is not, contrary to the chorus of compliments from pundits on the left and right, necessarily a sign of hope for civilization. Republican presidential candidate and businessman Herman Cain, writing on his Facebook page about today’s news that Khadafy’s been killed, simply responded by saying: “… that’s good.” But he sounded a proper note of caution when he added: “Now the question is: What’s next?”