Signs and Wonders
Associated Press/Photo by Sitthixay Ditthavong

Signs and Wonders 09.12

School strike irony. The Chicago school strike continues today. The ironies in this situation abound. It is hard, for example, not to take a kind of perverse delight in seeing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former Obama administration official, get mugged by reality. He is finding out that being pro-union makes for great political rhetoric, but is impractical as a governing philosophy. Another irony is GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's statement, on behalf of himself and Mitt Romney, that "We stand with Rahm Emanuel." Emanuel, who has a famously profane mouth, must have uttered a few choice words when he heard that. Also ironic - surreal might be a better word - is the situation itself. Unemployment is high, and the median household income in the United States is about $50,000 per year. But Chicago teachers average more than $70,000 each year. They turned down a 16 percent raise, holding out for 30 percent. One final note: The city's charter schools and private schools have remained open during the strike. In those schools, at least, education goes on.

Diplomatic tragedy. The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed Tuesday when Libyan militants stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Stevens, 52, died as 20 gun-wielding attackers stormed the U.S. consulate, angry about an American-made movie that depicted the prophet Muhammad as a fraud and a womanizer. The attackers fired automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at the consulate. The death came as a shock because tensions in Libya had been easing since last year's revolution there. Adding to the shock was the fact that Stevens was respected and liked by fellow diplomats and journalists. This attack could be another example of how the overthrow of totalitarian regimes in Arab countries, while it could eventually be a good thing, is giving radicals an opportunity to take advantage of the initial chaos. Stevens is the first ambassador to lose his life while on duty since the 1970s. President Obama issued a statement immediately upon hearing the news: "I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives."

Child abuse? Camp Arranu'tiq in Connecticut is the first transgender camp for children in the nation, according to a recent story in The Boston Globe. The 65 campers wear nametags "with the words '(HE)' or '(SHE)' under their names" so others will know how the child wants to be addressed. Programs at the camp include discussions about "coming out," "transitioning," puberty blockers - and bullying. A 29-year-old transgender male named Nick Teich runs the camp. Children as young as 8 come to the camp, which now operates a branch in California. It's hard for me to understand how encouraging an 8-year-old to "come out" as transgender is not child abuse. Even the liberal American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists transgenderism as a mental disorder. But such, I guess, is the world in which we now live.

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BeBe rebuff. According to Reuters, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in the United States in a few weeks to speak to the United Nations. While in the country, he asked for a meeting with President Obama. The president, Gary Bauer said, was apparently "too busy golfing or attending fundraisers." According to the Reuters account of the dust-up, "White House spokesman Tommy Vietor denied that Netanyahu had ever made such an overture - let alone that it had been spurned - insisting instead that the two leaders were attending the General Assembly on different days and would not be in New York at the same time." That explanation would be plausible were it not for the fact that relations between Obama and Netanyahu have been strained for years. The Reuters article speculates that the snub will hurt Obama with Jewish and pro-Israel voters.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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