Saturday, May 29, 2010

This is what I've been working on lately:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

American Idol, season 9

Well, last night concluded the ninth season of American Idol.
I have watched since the first season, although I didn't start following it until the last two shows that first season.  I still saw the first American Idol chosen.
I was rooting for Crystal Bowersox, but Lee DeWyze won and to tell you the truth, I sometimes wonder how we really know (any year) what the totals are and who really decides.  (Maybe the big networks let us believe we actually have a vote.)  As we know, everything is for ratings.
Lee is lucky, as he will have a much better life than mixing paint in that department store where he worked.  Crystal also needed the nationwide coverage and she will do just fine.
They brought back Paula Abdul, who spent some time onstage, assuring all that Idol would continue on, without Simon (and her).
Some people are saying that Idol has now definitely "jumped the shark", referring to when a program starts the downward spiral and they pull out any and all ridiculous tactics to try to save it.  This refers to Happy Days' episode when the Fonz jumped a shark while water skiing  in an outlandish attempt to try to keep the program new and fresh.
The Dancing With the Stars host claims that Idol upset the usual three-judges standard by adding a fourth, which thew off the balance.  Maybe.  But I remember during Idol's previous seasons when Paula Abdul kept embarrassing herself on videos that went viral, slurring her words while doing spots on QVC and caught at other times obviously under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.  She denied it, of course, saying that she is just loopy and silly....but it was obvious.
Simon was the easy one to dislike.  He was nearly always correct!  However, his lack of tact was brutal at times and he was resented/hated by a lot of the contestants that tried out.
Randy was also unknown by many a few years back, but he is also a musician and producer who is well-respected.
Although I love Ellen's show and find her a charming and funny person -- let's face it.  She is not a song writer, a singer or anyone who has been connected with the music industry at all. (Although an update is that as of this week she will start her own label and feature new singer/songwriters.) She also has a FIVE year contract at Idol.
Idol is known for paying a ridiculous amount of money, so it's a good deal for all who are hired as judges.
Truthfully, I do think the three-person panel may have been the key before, with a popular musical guest now and then as a visiting judge.  I think for the kids on stage to get a kind review from someone very famous in the music industry gave them a lot of hope and encouragement.
Although many people didn't know Kara before this past season, (like me, for instance) She has a beautiful voice, has been singing since she was a child and is a prolific song writer.  She and Carrie Underwood co-wrote the song that Carrie sang onstage last night.
Speaking of Carrie Underwood, I think she's been the best Idol ever so far.
All in all, it would be a shame if the show now tanked; because it gave the opportunity to so many young people who were hoping and praying for a music career, but needed to be seen by the public.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Governor of Arizona responds:

Arizona governor: Boycott is misguided
Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona, responds to calls for sports boycotts of her state
By Gov. Jan Brewer
Special to
In my 28 years of public service, I have made a lot of tough calls. But with a federal government unwilling to secure our border for years and years, Arizona is left with little choice. Imagine a sporting event in which rules have been agreed to for 70 years, but the umpires refuse to enforce those rules. It makes no sense. Although I recognize that Arizona Senate Bill 1070, as amended, is not the entire solution to our illegal immigration problem in Arizona, most people are united in the hope that it will finally inspire the politicians in Washington, D.C., to stop talking and to start action now.
By now, sports fans everywhere have heard something about the passage of Senate Bill 1070, a measure I signed into law. It has resulted in protests outside ballparks hosting our Arizona Diamondbacks and has led to calls on Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig to strip the City of Phoenix's opportunity to host baseball's Midsummer Classic in July 2011.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer took in the Diamondbacks-Phillies game a couple of days after she signed SB 1070 into law.
Urging Major League Baseball to take away next year's All-Star Game from Phoenix is the wrong play. In Arizona, both proponents and opponents of Senate Bill 1070 have stated that economic boycotts are an inappropriate and misguided response to an issue that is clearly worthy of proper public debate and discourse. Put simply, history shows that boycotts backfire and harm innocent people. Boycotts are just more politics and manipulation by out-of-state interests. As a border state, Arizona has already paid a heavy price for the federal government's failure -- hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in unreimbursed costs -- and its citizens should not be punished further.
It is critically important that all Americans understand the impetus for this new law and have a clear understanding of the law itself. Our neighbor to the south, Mexico, is in a massive battle with well-organized drug cartels. Because of Washington's failure to secure our southern border, Arizona has become the superhighway of illegal drug and human smuggling activity. In December 2008, the U.S. Justice Department said that Mexican gangs are the "biggest organized crime threat to the United States." In 2009, Phoenix had 316 kidnapping cases, turning the city into our nation's kidnapping capital. Almost all of the persons kidnapped were illegal immigrants or linked to the drug trade.
Essentially, our border leaks like a team with a last-place defense. The very same week that I signed the new law, a major drug ring was broken up and Mexican cartel operatives suspected of running 40,000 pounds of marijuana through southern Arizona were indicted.
While drug smuggling is the principal cause of our massive border-violence problem, many of the same criminal organizations also smuggle people. Busts of drop houses, where illegal immigrants are often held for ransom or otherwise severely abused, are not uncommon occurrences in Arizona neighborhoods.
Today, Arizona has approximately 6,000 prison inmates who are foreign nationals, representing a cost to our state of roughly $150 million per year. Arizona taxpayers are paying for a vast majority of these incarceration expenses because the federal government refuses to pay what it owes. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, as governor of Arizona, sent numerous requests to the federal government to pay for these prisoners -- only to be given the same answer she and President Barack Obama are now giving Arizona: They will not pay the bill.
The Immigration Issue
Arizona's new immigration law has become a hot-button topic in the world of sports. Over the past several days, ESPN has presented a number of perspectives on the controversy.
• Jeff MacGregor: Razing Arizona
• Steve Nash: Opposed to law
• J.A. Adande: Suns make a statement
• OTL debate on Arizona law
• Fay Vincent's advice for Bud Selig
• SportsNation: Your thoughts
When I signed the legislation, I stated clearly I will not tolerate racial discrimination or racial profiling in Arizona. My administration worked for weeks with legislators to improve SB 1070, to specifically clarify and strengthen its civil rights protections. I issued an executive order to implement proper training and enforcement protocols for our police so that the intent of the language could not be misconstrued. Although it is already against the law, the new law undeniably prohibits law enforcement officers from considering race, color or national origin in implementing the new statute.
I have worked for years without fail to solve problems diligently and practically. I have done so always with an eye toward civility, and always with the greatest respect for the rule of law.
This new law is no different. As committed as I am to protecting our state from crime associated with illegal immigration, I am equally committed to holding law enforcement accountable should this statute ever be misused to violate an individual's rights.
There have been countless distortions, honest omissions, myths and bad information about Arizona's new law -- many, undoubtedly, spread to create fear or mistrust.
So here are the facts:
1. The new Arizona law creates a state penalty to mirror what already is a federal crime. Despite the most vile and hate-filled portrayals of proponents of the law as "Nazis," actions that have been condemned nationally by the Anti-Defamation League, it is ALREADY a federal requirement for legal aliens in the United States to carry their green card or other immigration document. The new Arizona law enforces what has been a federal crime since before World War II. As anyone who has traveled abroad knows, other nations have similar laws.
2. Contrary to many of the horror stories being spread -- President Obama suggested families risk being pulled over while going out for ice cream -- law enforcement cannot randomly ask anyone about their immigration status. Much like enforcement of seat belt laws in many states, under SB 1070 there must first be reasonable suspicion that you are breaking some OTHER non-immigration law before an officer can ask a person about their legal status. Only then, after law enforcement officers have a "reasonable suspicion" that another law has been broken, can they inquire about immigration status -- but ONLY if that individual's behavior provides "reasonable suspicion" that the person is here illegally.
"Reasonable suspicion" is a well-understood concept that has been thoroughly vetted through numerous federal court cases. Many have asked: What is reasonable suspicion? Is it race, skin color or national origin? No! Racial profiling is prohibited in the new law. Examples of reasonable suspicion include: a person running away when approached by law enforcement officers, or a car failing to stop when the police turn on their lights and siren.
3. Arizona's local law enforcement officers, who already reflect the great diversity of culture in our state, are going to be trained to enforce the new immigration law in a constitutional manner. It is shameful and presumptive for opponents to question the good will and the competence of Arizona's law enforcement personnel. The specter that is raised of rogue, racist police harassing people is insulting to those in Arizona who risk their lives in the name of law enforcement every day.
President Theodore Roosevelt said, "No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor." Arizona has been more than patient waiting for Washington to act. Decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation. Arizona has acted to enforce the rule of law equally and without bias toward any person.
It is time for our country to act to resolve our border security problem; an economic boycott in Arizona would only exacerbate it -- and hurt innocent families and businesses merely seeking to survive during these difficult economic times.
A boycott that would actually improve border security would be to boycott illegal drugs. Dramatically less drug use and production would do wonders for the safety of all our communities.

Jan Brewer is the governor of Arizona.