Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And to think he even pronounces "Pakistan" correctly

President Barack "Pah-kee-stan" Obama seems to be having trouble convincing the leaders and people of Pakistan that he knows what's best for them.

Three stories:
NY Times: Pakistanis Continue to Reject U.S. Partnership

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Even with the arrival of the Obama administration and the prospect of substantially increased aid, more Pakistanis — an overwhelming majority — continued to reject the United States as a partner to fight militancy in their country, a new poll finds.

NY Times: Militant Group Is Intact After Mumbai Siege

KARACHI, Pakistan — Ten months after the devastating attacks in Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants, the group behind the assault remains largely intact and determined to strike India again, according to current and former members of the group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and intelligence officials.

Despite pledges from Pakistan to dismantle militant groups operating on its soil, and the arrest of a handful of operatives, Lashkar has persisted, even flourished, since 10 recruits killed 163 people in a rampage through Mumbai, India’s financial capital, last November.

Daily Telegraph (UK): Pakistan warns United States against drone attacks

Pakistan has warned the United States that it will not allow drone attacks on suspected Taliban bases in its troubled Balochistan province, military sources have said.

The army chief's warning was disclosed amid growing tension over American claims that Islamabad was refusing to target the Taliban's 'Quetta Shura' – the leadership council of former Afghan ruler Mullah Omar.

Washington believes the 'shura' is plotting attacks on Nato forces in Afghanistan from 'safe havens' in South-West Pakistan.

American State Department and intelligence officials are believed to have warned Pakistan President Asif Zardari that they will launch their own drone attacks on the shura if the Pakistan Army fails to target its bases.

Gosh, you'd think it was like Pakistan was an independent country or something.

The inevitable evolution of suicide bombing

There's been much mirth and merriment over the "butt bomb" used by a terrorist in an assassination (ass-ass-ination?) attempt on a Saudi prince.

However, as some have observed, this guy got past the checkpoints and security inspections meant to keep the prince safe.

And we have to recall the scene in The Dark Knight, in which the screenwriter suggested an even more nefarious hidden bomb.

So here is the question: how long before a woman undergoes a Caesarean section and has the baby and her uterus replaced with a fairly sizeable bomb, with a mechanical trigger (the kind she can set off by punching herself in the stomach)? With no electrical or electronic components and little or no metal in its construction, it would be undetectable, assuming that any airport screener would even think to check a pregnant woman that closely.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

400 Miles

With apologies to West, Bare and Wiliams.

If you miss the bus I'm under
It keeps rolling like the thunder
You can see my bloody trail
A hundred miles.
A hundred miles, a hundred miles,
A hundred miles, a hundred miles,
Oh, my blood and guts are smeared
A hundred miles.

Who knew such a silly dork
Could be Gov'nor of New York?
At least I was, 'til I was dragged
Four hundred miles.
Four hundred miles, five hundred miles,
Four hundred miles, five hundred miles,
To D.C. from Albany is
Four hundred miles.

Lord, I'm Black, Lord, I'm blind
And Barack left me behind
Lord, I can't get re-elected
This a-way.
This a-way, this a-way,
This a-way, this a-way,
Lord, I can't get re-elected
This a-way.

If you miss the bus I'm under
It keeps rolling like the thunder
You can see my bloody trail
A hundred miles.
A hundred miles, a hundred miles,
A hundred miles, a hundred miles,
Oh, my blood and guts are smeared
A hundred miles.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Really? This is the most urgent item of the people's business?

Unemployment still pushing 10 percent? Check.

Iran still developing nuclear weapons, and North Korea restarting its own nuclear program? Check.

Major terror plot uncovered in New York and Denver? Check.

How does a President choose which competing priority to tackle next?

Maybe he just punts.

Barack Obama has been pictured playing with a lightsaber on the lawn of the White House.

Watched by his wife, Michelle, Mr Obama used a Star Wars lightsaber to "attack" Tim Morehouse, the American Olympic fencer who won a silver medal in men's sabre fencing in Beijing.

Mr Obama's "lunge" took place on the South Lawn during an event supporting Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

The President said that the whole of America was rooting for his hometown of Chicago in its efforts to host the 2016 Summer Games.

Well, at least he's doing something good: he's sending Michelle Obama away for a little while.
The International Olympic Committee will choose a host city during an Oct 2 meeting in Copenhagen. Mr Obama will not attend the meetings, instead sending first Lady Michelle Obama to lead the US delegation.

Chicago is in a tough competition with Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo. In recent years, national leaders have travelled to the IOC meetings to help seal the deal – such as Tony Blair for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and Vladimir Putin for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

"I would make the case in Copenhagen personally," Mr Obama said, noting he's busy seeking a health care overhaul. "But the good news is I'm sending a more compelling superstar to represent the city and country we love, and that is our first lady, Michelle Obama."

Mrs Obama joked: "You should have seen the President in there fencing," she said to laughter as Mr Obama stuck out his arm in a mock fencing move. "It was pathetic. But he passed the baton really well."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pakistan foils cross-dressing terrorists

Western societies are fussing over the wearing of burqas and "burqinis" - here, here and here. But it seems like the burqa is a bad idea in Islamic societies, too: Pakistan Police Thwart Attack on Karachi Oil Facility.

ISLAMABAD -- Islamic militants clad head-to-toe in women's burqas attempted to attack an oil storage facility in Karachi, raising fears that insurgents are fleeing northwestern Pakistan and infiltrating the nation's main business hub.

Three gunmen, disguised as women, tried to enter the high security facility used by oil companies, late Monday night, Waseem Ahmed, the city police chief, told Pakistani television on Tuesday. When stopped by security guards, militants opened fire, killing one of the guards. The assailants fled during a gun battle, leaving behind their burqas, purses and hand grenades.

"We suspect they wanted to carry out a big terrorist attack which our prompt police action thwarted," said Mr. Ahmed, the police chief, in an interview with the Geo TV Pakistan.

Pakistan imports foreign oil through the Karachi port, and stores it there before transporting it throughout the country. An attack on the port facility could have threatened fuel supply for the country's industry and transport, just as Pakistan's economy is struggling to recover from a global downturn and security woes at home.

Later Tuesday, police arrested four men suspected to have been involved in the attack. During a house raid in Karachi, Mr. Ahmed said in the television interview that police found additional burqas, women's handbags and weapons. Police suspected the assailants disguised themselves as women to try to slip past security check points.

The arrested men were suspected to have been linked to the militant group led by Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban leader who was killed last month in a U.S. missile attack in South Waziristan. A large number of militants from Waziristan and other areas fleeing army attacks have been taking sanctuary in Karachi, according to Zulfikar Mirza, the Sindh provincial home minister.

Here's an idea: these terrorists wanted to be women so badly, let them have their wish. A few quick strokes with a (perhaps not-so-sharp) knife, and they'll be fully burqa-worthy... if you know what I mean (and I think you do).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

While British ministers were worrying about protestors on the Right...

While the British government and the Left side of the British media have been focused on the perceived threat posed by the English Defence League, something else has been going on: Rashid Rauf 'training dozens of British terrorist recruits in Pakistan.'

Pakistani officials have warned that Rashid Rauf, the terrorist linked to the trans-Atlantic airline bomb plot, bas been involved in grooming two dozen British recruits to carry out new attacks.

Pakistan intelligence said that Rauf, who mysteriously escaped from police custody and was then reported killed by a missile fired by US drone last November, used the name Khalid to recruit fellow Britons for training at a camp in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

One official said that Rauf was involved with a group of Arab and Uzbek terrorists in a camp in Matta Cheena village in south Waziristan.

Rauf is said to be a key lieutenant of the group's leader, explosives expert, Abu Nasir. "He is an explosive expert who has effectively devised methods of explosives using easy-to-get ingredients that are virtually undetectable or can raise no alarms for authorities," said the intelligence source.

"We know that they are planning a very serious attack and it is very important for us to arrest all of them.

"If they are able to strike it is going to give a bad name to Pakistan once again for no reason."

Intercepted emails and text messages between Pakistan and the UK had indicated Rauf's involvement under the name Khalid after the authorities decrypted the communications.

British security and intelligence officials have said they believe Rauf may have survived the missile strike and could be planning further attacks.

A US informant called Bryant Neal Vinas, who has admitted planning a suicide attack, was arrested by the Pakistanis last November and said he had met Rauf shortly before the missile strike.

He gave information that has led to the arrest of two cells allegedly planning attacks during a European summit in Brussels and last Easter in Manchester.

Yep, sure sounds like those folks protesting Islamofascist extremism in Britain are the real problem, all right.

I just hope that security on the planes, trains and buses in Britain is as tight as the security forces say it is. Oh, and that they've managed to out-think Al-Qaeda with respect to what other targets terrorists might choose that haven't been given such tight security up until now.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The UK, a haven for (some) terrorists

Some people want you to believe that the worst threat facing Britain are the people pointing out the Islamofascists in their midst: Communities Secretary John Denham has likened far right groups mounting street protests against Islam to Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts.
The minister's comments came as he announced a drive to prevent white working class people being "exploited" by extremists.

But he later backtracked by stressing that today's situation was "nothing like the 1930s". He said:"All we are facing at the moment is small.

"But I think we need to take it seriously enough to say that there are obviously people who would like to be provocative, hope that there is not just a reaction but there is an overreaction, then people blame the people who overreact and the situation gets out of control."

Mr Denham singled out protests being organised by the English Defence League, some of which have turned violent over recent months.

Except perhaps it wasn't that the English Defence League wanted an overreaction, but that any expression of displeasure with Islamofascists in Britain faces an organized overreaction: Violent race riot flared after mosque chief urged Muslims to confront right-wing 'English Defence League' protesters.
The most influential Muslim leader in the West Midlands urged his followers to 'vent their feelings' against Right-wing protesters during a Birmingham rally that ended in violent clashes and 90 arrests.

Birmingham Central Mosque chairman Dr Mohammad Naseem encouraged Muslims to counter-demonstrate during Saturday's anti-Islamic protest by the English Defence League (EDL).

The police had advised community leaders to stop people from attending, reported The Times.

Last month there were also clashes when the English Defence League - formed after British soldiers were abused by Islamic radicals at a homecoming parade in Luton - held a rally on the same day as the Unite Against Fascism group.

The latest disorder involved around 200 people and spilled on to Bennetts Hill, a street popular with shoppers and lined with a number of pubs.

English Defence League marchers were involved in running disturbances which lasted all afternoon before the Right-wing protesters were taken to another part of the city by bus.

Witnesses claimed the English Defence League marchers, many of whom had been drinking since the morning, ripped up seats on the journey away from the city centre.

But some members slipped away from the police, clashing with more than 30 socialist protesters amid cries of 'Racist scum, out of Brum'. After an hour of angry skirmishes in the city centre, the situation deteriorated further after a group of Asian men also joined in.

Sarah Edwards had to duck into a cafe to avoid being caught in the violence.

She said: 'We suddenly saw what seemed to be about 200 Asian men running down the street, throwing bricks.

'They had bandanas over their faces and were shouting and screaming. We were so scared, we feared for our lives and had to run into the cafe so we wouldn't get hurt. It is so shocking to see this on our streets'

The English Defence League has claimed it is not racist, even saying it did not want any violence to happen at the pre-planned protest.

This picture is a bit inconsistent with the accusation of neo-Fascist skinhead racism: the haircuts look right, but what's up with that flag?

English Defence League supporters hold aloft the flag of Israel and gesture to police as they are corralled into a subway following the demonstration

However, it seems that there really are Islamofascists, known terror suspects, roaming free in the UK. In fact, some of them are even living on the public dole, courtesy of the British taxpayer: Suspects named on United Nations terror list living free in Britain.
The revelation that the men are being allowed to live in Britain without the prospect of being arrested or deported has prompted calls for an urgent change in the law.

Among the 12 suspects named on the UN list are a number of men accused of raising funds for a violent jihadist group with alleged links to Osama bin Laden....

One of the men named on the UN Consolidated List is Mohammed al Ghabra, a 29-year-old British citizen suspected of being a key figure in the plot to blow up passenger airliners over the Atlantic.

Also on the list is Khalid Abd Al-Rahman Hamd Al-Fawaz, 44, a Kuwaiti living in London, who has been accused by the FBI of involvement in bombing American embassies, and Hani al Sayyid al Sebai, a 46-year-old Egyptian also living in London.

Other individuals on the UN list include Ghuma Abd'rabbah, 52, a Libyan-born British citizen who is suspected of raising funds for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a jihadist organisation opposed to the Gadaffi regime, and accused of having links with al Qaeda. He is understood to be living in the Birmingham area, along with Libyan-born Abd Al-Rahman Al Faqih, 50, who is also on the UN list....

Individuals are placed on the list on the basis of evidence about their links with al Qaeda or the Taliban submitted by members states of the United Nations. Once their inclusion has been endorsed by the UN Security Council, banking and treasury officials in the individual's country of residence are instructed to freeze their financial assets.

David Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth and a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "It's quite outrageous for these people to carry on living here, many of them on benefits. The Home Secretary should have the right to either lock them up or throw them out of the country, but for that to happen requires a change in the Human Rights Act."

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "These individuals are here legally. If they breach any laws they will be prosecuted. We cannot comment on any security operations regarding individuals."

One would think that if the Communities Secretary really wants to damp down fear and resentment toward Islamic extremism in Britain, a good place to start would be to arrest or expel the most extreme of the Islamic extremists.

Joe Biden wants to keep his boss firmly in the quagmire

After the November election, Vice-President Elect Joe Biden told ABC's George Stephanopolous that Obama would do nothing until he heard from Joe:
"I think we should restore the balance here. The role of the Vice President of the United States as I see it is to give the President of the United States the best, sagest, most accurate, most insightful advice and recommendations he or she can make to a President to help them make some of the very, very important decisions that have to be made.

"When Barack Obama, Senator Barack Obama then talked to me about being his Vice President I said we have to – let’s talk and we spent three and a half hours talking and one of the things I asked was, I said I don’t want to be picked unless you’re picking me for my judgment. I don’t want to be the guy that goes out and has a specific assignment – an important assignment to reinvent government, which Al Gore did a great job of. Dealing with some specific discrete item. I said I want a commitment from you that in every important decision you’ll make, every critical decision, economic and political as well as foreign policy, I’ll get to be in the room."

Well, now we get a specific example of how that's working out for the two of them.
President Barack Obama's administration is sharply divided over whether to send more American troops to Afghanistan, with Vice-President Joe Biden and other senior figures arguing that it would be folly to escalate the fighting.

On this vital question, Mr Biden is sharply at odds with Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state.. He strongly opposes any large increase in US combat forces in Afghanistan, while Mrs Clinton has called for reinforcements, with the support of the Pentagon.

Mr Biden argues that escalating the fight against the Taliban using US troops would play into al-Qaeda's hands by stirring popular resentment and destabilising neighbouring Pakistan. It would also be politically damaging at home, where the American public is increasingly unwilling to tolerate high casualties....

Mr Biden, whose long experience of foreign policy is one of his key qualifications for the post, has long been critical of President Hamid Karzai's leadership in Afghanistan. His position has been boosted by the mounting evidence of widespread fraud in the recent presidential election.

So "the best, sagest, most accurate, most insightful advice and recommendation" foreign policy expert Joe Biden can offer his President is to let the NATO mission in Afghanistan die a slow death from neglect?
General Stanley McChrystal, the new American commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, has submitted his classified assessment of the war to the White House. This is understood to lay out future options, ranging from sending 10,000 to 40,000 additional soldiers.

Gen McChrystal has privately made clear that he believes the greatest risk attaches to holding back on the reinforcements. What he considers the minimal option of sending between 10,000 and 15,000 more troops is also the riskiest choice, he argues.

Maybe Biden is thinking that he can work with the French to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan the way he and they drove Hizbollah out of Lebanon.

I feel sooooo much better about America's security knowing that Hole-in-the-Head Joe is giving our Commander-in-Chief his wise counsel.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ode to Barry O

It was 09 September in the House of Representatives
They had invited the Senate and everybody said, "What gives?
Barack Obama's coming and I want to know what he will say,
And will his hundredth speech on health care matter anyway?"
I was about to go and grab a cold one from out the fridge
When I heard Obama talk about the man from Chappaquiddick Bridge.

Barry said to the Congress, "You know, it don't seem right;
Ted was working four decades and he never once gave up the fight.
He could get McCain and Hatch and Grassley lined up on his side,
But he couldn't get health care reform through Congress before he died.
None of his passion and conviction made the cause advance a single smidge,
Not since the day that Teddy Kennedy drove off the Chappaquiddick Bridge."

Now the hours have come and gone since Obama made that fateful speech:
The Congress members from the GOP made fun of him for overreach,
While Democrats cheered on his call to get his healthcare plan passed right now --
Though none of them could even tell you what was in it anyhow.
The hopes for Barry-pleasin' health reform from Hawaii to the Blue Ridge
Have fallen in to the muddy water off the Chappaquiddick Bridge.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The rare but (not endangered) Alaskan Black Swan

Great book: The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Among other things, he mentions that no one builds monuments to the leaders who prevent terror attacks, because we forget that those attacks were probable in the absence of that leadership.

The title of the book comes from the syllogism, "All swans are white. This bird is a swan. Therefore, this bird is white." That was irrefutably true for Europeans... right up until the time of Captain Cook's voyage to Australia. Australia has a native species of swan that is jet black. Taleb's point is that, just because you've never seen something, you can't assume it doesn't exist.

While Taleb is concerned mostly with rare economic events and rare political events, his admonition applies to Sarah Palin. No one had ever seen a strong, common-sense, good-looking female politician who rose from the middle middle class before. Many people who were locked into the "all swans are white" old reality therefore tried to dismiss black swan Sarah Palin as not real, not genuine, an impostor, a white swan painted black.

That explains why in the run-up to his health care address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama released talking points that mentioned Sarah Palin (and no other Republican) by name. Palin had pre-empted Obama's speech with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal addressing the foreseeable failures of government bureaucratic control of America's health care.
On Gov. Palin's Attacks

Every non-partisan organization that has looked at her claims say they are false. And the ideas in her op-ed are both scary and risky. Eliminating Medicare and giving our seniors vouchers instead is a bad idea that we shouldn't adopt.
The wonderful thing is that Liberals (up to and including Obama) and faux Conservatives are locked in a futile effort to find the white down under Sarah's black feathers, and as a consequence their attention is drawn away from the efforts of others to expose the Red underbelly of the Liberal/Progressive/Democrat enterprise.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Teach the Controversy!

Funny, isn't it, how the Left had been developing all throughout 2008 the meme that Creationists were turning the GOP into the Anti-Science Party. Typical is this attack by Chris Matthews on Rep. Mike Pence:

The cry of Creationists who want to get Biblical Creation or at least Intelligent Design into school curricula has been, "Teach the Controversy!" They claim they don't want their beliefs taught as settled fact, but they say that they want them taught alongside evolutionary science, the notion being that evolutionary science has gaps and leaps that allow for alternative explanations.

In my view, evolutionary science is what belongs in public school curricula because it can be tested by experiment and observation. Parents who want to teach Biblical Creation and Intelligent Design as plausible alternatives have the right to do so in the home or the house of worship.

But now the cry of "Teach the Controversy" is being taken up by the very people who try to use Creationism as a blunt instrument to bludgeon the Republican Party. Progressives, Liberals and Democrats on the Left of their party now want Americans to consider alternative explanations and theories... for the events of 9/11.

In their frenzy to characterize the expose of Van Jones's views as a "Right-wing smear," a number of folks on the Left defended outright his signing a 9/11 Truth petition that called for investigating the charge that the Bush Administration orchestrated the 9/11 attacks as a "false-flag operation" in order to create a pre-text for war.

John McWhorter writes in The New Republic:
Jones was wrong, actually, in disavowing his support for 9/11 conspiracy theory. He signed the document, which can only mean that he supports the idea that 9/11 was planned, or that the Bushies knew something more than they have said, or at least that the charge is plausible enough to require investigation.

But support for that idea is hardly unknown among people of the left – and often gestural in its own way; look one of these types in the eye and ask “Do you really think George Bush and his cabinet engineered the murder of thousands and have kept the secret for eight years?” and watch the nervous pause and the look off into the distance. Speculations in this vein hardly meant that Jones was not sincerely committed to working within the government to do good. (Hat tip: Hot Air.)

Jane Hamsher writes on the FireDogLake blog:
I first met Van Jones when he was honored last year by the Campaign for America's Future at their gala dinner. He was being swarmed by all of the liberal institutional elite, who just could not be more full of praise for the impressive environmental leader and prison reform organizer. Everybody wanted Van Jones on their board. Everyone wanted him at their fundraisers. Everyone wanted a piece of his formidable limelight.

Now he's been thrown under the bus by the White House for signing his name to a petition expressing something that 35% of all Democrats believed as of 2007 -- that George Bush knew in advance about the attacks of 9/11. Well, that and calling Republicans "assholes." I'm pretty sure that if you search through the histories of every single liberal leader at the CAF dinner that night, they have publicly said that and worse.

So where are all the statements defending Van Jones by those who were willing to exploit him when it served their purpose? Why aren't they standing up and defending one of their own, who has done nothing that probably the majority of people in the Democratic party haven't done at one time or another? Is he no longer "one of their own?" (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.

And blogger Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs joins the chorus, in this exchange with the investigative blogger "zombie":
zombie: But what about this document released by the Ella Baker Center when Jones was the head honcho there and giving quotes from Jones' group STORM, calling 9/11 a "bombing" with the statement

"No matter who ultimately is to blame for these bombings..."

...right below a quote from Jones.

It certainly pouts his in the Truther-Zone -- flirting with Truthism.

(And the was released nearly two months after 9/11, when it was well-known who did it - -at the very beginning of the truther movement.)

Johnson: That statement from STORM was released weeks after 9/11, when no one knew the full story. Lots of people were talking about the "bombing" of the World Trade Center then. That is not any kind of support for the contention that Van Jones is a Truther -- in fact, if that's all you can come up with, it reinforces my point that there is no evidence.

As someone who was in New York City on 9/11 and the days following, I know that there was no doubt about what happened to the Twin Towers that day: they were felled by the impact and fire damage from two jet airliners carrying full fuel loads. No one in New York that night or the next day had questions about bombs in the buildings -- no rational person, anyway. But hey, Johnson is all for the spirit of investigation when it's a Van Jones asking the questions.

In other words, "Teach The Controversy!"

These Left-Democrats aren't saying Bush did order the attacks, or that he did wilfully ignore warnings of the attacks to allow them to happen. They just want the questions put up for debate.

I know from experience that it is too much to ask Progressives and Leftists to be intellectually honest or even logically consistent with their own stated beliefs. But with the speed at which information flows today, and with the access to extensive archives of statements and pronouncements and news reports, you'd think they'd realize just how easy it is to juxtapose their conflicting words and actions.

"Teach the Controversy" isn't good policy regarding Creationism in public schools. It's far worse policy and politics in running one of America's two major political parties.

Barack Obama to America's schoolchildren: "Stop being bad kids"

Nice of the President to tell America's schoolchildren to stop cutting class, bullying their peers, intimidating their teachers and dropping out to lead a life of crime.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life -- what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home -- none of that is an excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude in school. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. There is no excuse for not trying.

Great message - for kids in trouble. There are more than a few, no doubt:
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don't have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job and there's not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don't feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren't right.

Know what, Mr. President? It might have been a better plan to target your speech to kids in those circumstances. On the other hand, did kids who are failing in school and at risk of gang activity and dropout even stay awake through the speech? Wouldn't they be more likely to be daydreaming about other things?
I know that sometimes you get that sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star. Chances are you're not going to be any of those things.

Sure sounds better than doing what the vast majority of American school kids are already doing:
That's why today I'm calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education -- and do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending some time each day reading a book. Maybe you'll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you'll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all young people deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you'll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, by the way, I hope all of you are washing your hands a lot, and that you stay home from school when you don't feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Here's a thought: if the first person to tell a child to do these things is President Obama, that's really far too little, far too late. Fortunately, most kids have parents who actually have bothered to instill these values in them.

Of course, there are rotten little buggers in almost every school, even if gangs and poverty and crime and drugs aren't lapping at the schoolhouse door. President Obama's speech could be part of the disciplinary process for them: get sent to the Principal's office and you get strapped to a chair with the full-on Clockwork Orange cranial fixator and eyelid clamps, and then have the privilege of watching the President of the United States tell you to take responsibility. I bet after two sessions, three tops, the little miscreant would straighten up and fly right, if only to avoid having to sit through Obama's presentation ever again.