Archive for the 1966 Category

Al Qaeda Goes to College: First Book Review

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, aecond amendment, AIDS/HIV, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, animals, arrest, art, asia, athletics, Barack Obama, baseball, bichons, Biden, Big Business, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, cars, cats, ceo compensation, Christmas, chrysler, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Democrats, diets, Disabilities, Disability Discrimination, discrimination, divorce, dogs, election, Employment Discrimination, entertainment, environment, films, food, fraternities, Gay Literature, gun control, high education, Higher Education, history, HIV/AIDS, hollywood, immigration, intelligent design, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, marriage, mccain, media, medicine, middle east, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, North Pole, novels, obama, Oil Companies, Palin, pennsylvania, pets, Pigs, Pit Bulls, Polar Express, Politics, pornography, president, Presidential Election, prisons, professors, random, relationships, religion, Republicans, Santa Claus, Sarah Palin, science, science fiction, sciencec, second amendment, shooting, sports, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, time travel, Uncategorized, United Nations, universities, vegans, Vice President, Violence, VTU, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on February 21, 2009 by castagnera

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/adjunctprofs/2009/02/book-review-h-1.html

February 21, 2009

Book Review Highlight Al-Qaeda Goes to College

AlqaedaOn Jan. 23, 2009, Adjunct Prof Blog announced  that James Ottavio Castagnera, a well known lawyer and professor at Rider University, just wrote an exciting new book entitled “Al-Qaeda Goes To College.” Professor Castagnera was kind enough to provide me with an advance copy and I could not put it down. 
The book starts off by detailing how Professor Castagnera world began to change on 9-11. It then goes on to discuss the Anthrax scare that occurred at the Hamlton New Jersey Post Office, just a few miles a way from Rider University.    
The book’s research is excellent and it is full of detailed footnotes that others will undoubtedly find helpful.  Professor Castagnera central thesis, however, is on the impact  9-11 had on higher education. He views 9-11 as a double edge sword. On the one hand universities lost their innocence at great cost (increased governmental regulations, security costs etc.), but on the other hand universities also got a windfall because now they offer more programs and research on national security. Professor Castagnera believes that American universities have met the challenge of 9-11 and we are better off because of it. He compares 9-11 to WWII and states that America became a super power because of WWII.

The book goes on and covers such topics as universities’ roles in training counter-terrorism experts, particularly anthropologists working in Iraq and Afghanistan; bio-terrorism research on campuses; inflammatory critiques by the likes of Ward Churchill; the conspiracy theories advocated by some academics regarding 9/11; lawsuits against universities by terror victims trying to get settlements from countries like Iran by seizing archaeological artifacts in American universities; accused Islamists teaching at American colleges, like Sami al-Arian at USF.

This book not only presents well researched factual information, but it also contains legal analysis. For example with respect to the discharge of Professor Ward Churchill, Professor Castagnera outlines the First Amendment rights of public employees and in particular academic freedom. 

To my knowledge, this is the first book on how 9-11 has changed the world of higher education.  This book will be available around April 30th and you can pre-order it now from the above link. You will be glad that you did.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

Read a sample chapter from my newest book, “Al Qaeda Goes to College”

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, aecond amendment, AIDS/HIV, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, animals, arrest, art, asia, athletics, Barack Obama, baseball, bichons, Biden, Big Business, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, cars, cats, ceo compensation, Christmas, chrysler, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Democrats, diets, Disabilities, Disability Discrimination, discrimination, divorce, dogs, election, Employment Discrimination, entertainment, environment, films, food, fraternities, Gay Literature, gun control, high education, Higher Education, history, HIV/AIDS, hollywood, immigration, intelligent design, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, marriage, mccain, media, medicine, middle east, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, North Pole, novels, obama, Oil Companies, Palin, pennsylvania, pets, Pigs, Pit Bulls, Polar Express, Politics, pornography, president, Presidential Election, prisons, professors, random, relationships, religion, Republicans, Santa Claus, Sarah Palin, science, science fiction, sciencec, second amendment, shooting, sports, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, time travel, Uncategorized, United Nations, universities, vegans, Vice President, Violence, VTU, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on February 10, 2009 by castagnera

http://www.historyplace.com/specials/writers/domestic-terrorists.htm

My new book is now available

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, aecond amendment, AIDS/HIV, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, animals, arrest, art, asia, athletics, Barack Obama, baseball, bichons, Biden, Big Business, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, cars, cats, ceo compensation, Christmas, chrysler, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Democrats, diets, Disabilities, Disability Discrimination, discrimination, divorce, dogs, election, Employment Discrimination, Higher Education, history, HIV/AIDS, hollywood, immigration, intelligent design, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, marriage, mccain, media, medicine, middle east, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, North Pole, novels, obama, Pit Bulls, Polar Express, Politics, pornography, president, Presidential Election, prisons, professors, random, relationships, religion, Republicans, Santa Claus, Sarah Palin, science, science fiction, sciencec, second amendment, shooting, sports, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, time travel, Uncategorized, United Nations, vegans, Vice President, Violence, VTU, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on January 6, 2009 by castagnera

http://www.greenwood.com/catalog/C36428.aspx

Serialization: Why My Dad Hates Ice Cream (5)

Posted in 1966, AIDS/HIV, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, arrest, art, athletics, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Disabilities, Disability Discrimination, discrimination, Employment Discrimination, entertainment, films, fraternities, Gay Literature, Higher Education, history, HIV/AIDS, hollywood, internet, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, media, movies, news, novels, Politics, pornography, professors, random, religion, Terrorism, universities, war on terror, writing with tags , , , , , on December 18, 2008 by castagnera

åChapter Eleven
     When I came back downstairs Claire was waiting for me in the

front hall.  I guess she didn’t want to make a solo appearance.  We

walked out to the kitchen, which smelled of baked beans and onions,

through the sun room and out the back door into our yard.
      The six adults were all seated around a big round table that

I recognized as belonging to our neighbor, Charlie Halleck.

Knowing old man Halleck, I’d have bet anything he wouldn’t have

loaned it to dad if he had known what kinds of people would be

eating at it.  Off to the right a teeange boy and girl were playing

a lethargic game of badminton across the net that Arch must have

hastily put up earlier in the day.
     As Claire and I walked across the lawn to the table, I felt a

sudden rush of anxiety.  I recognized Dad’s co©counsel, Lawrence

Fishbine Berger, because Archie had done some real estate work with

him in the past.  And I recognized Dorothy Berger, his wife, who

had been to dinner at our house a couple of years ago.  By process

of elimination the third, and youngest, male at the table had to be

Dennis J. Lustig.
     My first impression of Denny Lustig was that he had to be

related to the actor Tom Cruise, who had just burst upon the movie

scene with a sexy little comedy called “Risky Business.”  Cruise

had played a teen who, left alone at home for the weekend, turned

his house into a brothel for two days.  Naturally, Mom had objected

to my seeing it, but I had managed to catch it at the Lawrence Park

Shopping Center on a Saturday afternoon anyway.‘’3[1]0*†(†(∞



‘å     Every girl I knew, who had managed to see the picture despite

her parents’ protests, was in love with Cruise, and for that reason

every guy who, like me, had slipped in to see it, hated him.  And

Lustig was just about as good looking as the famous young actor.
     Lustig looked particularly appealing, placed as he was between

Archie and Larry Berger.  If ever there was a Laurel and Hardy of

the law, my Dad and his sometime co©counsel were that duo.  As big

and round and fat as the old man was (and pretty much still is,

despite the ice cream aversion), Berger was as thin and stooped and

stringy.  If Lustig was the Tom Cruise of the case, Berger was the

Walter Matthau.  But I’m probably getting you confused with all my

movie allusions.  Suffice it to say that, if and when they ever

entered a Bucks County courtroom, the client ©©© even though he was

under an HIV death sentence ©©© was going to look dazzling in

contrast to his two attorneys.
    As Claire and I came into the backyard from the sun room we had

let the screen door slam behind us.  Everybody at the table had

looked up at once, and Archie lumbered to his feet, knocking his

molded plastic lawn chair over behind him.  He looked beleaguered

and the blue barbeque apron he wore was smeared with drying red

sauce and sundry other, unidentifiable food products.
    “Hey, kids, glad you finally made it,” he said in what I

recognized as phony©jovial tones.  The stress Archie was enduring

was hidden just below a very thin layer of congeniality.

    “Ned… Claire… I’m sure you remember Mr. and Mrs. Berger.”‘’40*†(†(∞



‘å     “Hi.”
     “Hi.”
Claire and I smiled insincere, forced little smiles at the Bergers.

Mr. Berger, slumped back in his molded plastic chair… one of a

dozen Dad had purchased en masse from an end©of©summer sidewalk

sale at the Manoa Shopping Center last August and then left stacked

in the backyard all winter to turn from white to a cruddy©looking

shade of gray… lethargically waved the hand that wasn’t holding

his scotch on the rocks. “Hi, kids.  Great to see you two again.”

Yeh, sure.
    Mrs. Berger, by contrast, leaned forward so that her cleavage

became clearly visible to my pubescent stare.  Two very thin

shoulder straps, which seemed to be little more than bits of twine,

held up her dress, which barely contained her ample bosum.  She

flashed a big smile at us, revealing a mouthful of braces.  By 1985

middle©aged orthodontic work had become all the rage and Mrs. B.

obviously was right on the cutting edge of the trend.  Her big

smile compressed her eyes down to two slits and some of her

heavily©applied sky©blue eyeshadow cracked and flaked.
    “Oh, my, you two have gotten so big.  Claire you’re quite the

woman.  Your father reminded me before you got her that you’re

almost Gwenny’s age.”
    Turning round in her chair, so that I now got to study her

bare, freckled right shoulder and back, she shouted as if her

daughter were two or three backyards away.  “Gwenny, get over here‘Ä%50*†(†(∞



‘
and meet the McAdoo children.  You too, Justin.  Put those racquets

down and come here.” 
    The Berger offspring appeared to be no more enthusiastic about

this close encounter of the teenage kind than Claire and I were.

But we went through the motions of shaking hands and getting

acquainted.  Then Archie, still standing uneasily throughout this

ritual completed the introductions.
   “Claire… Ned, this is Mr. Lustig.”
    Claire smiled at Dennis Lustig.  Being a girl she could get

away with not shaking his hand.  But I was a boy,,, a young man…

of 16.   I leaned across the table and proffered my limp right hand

to Mr. HIV himself.  Lustig practically leaped to his feet and took

my flaccid paw in his own strong right hand and pumped it

enthusiastically.  My arm undulated like a length of linguine.
     “Ned!  What a pleasure.  Your father tells me you’re now part

of the Lustig litigation team,” he bubbled.  “If you’re anything

like your heroic father, I’m just thrilled to welcome you onboard

our Starship Enterprise.”
     I found it disconcerting the way he stared right into my eyes,

his own a mix of mischievousness and a probing quality, as if over

time he had developed the habit of trying to ascertain what the

people he met really thought about him.  The other disturbing

quality about his eyes was their color… a sort of violet that

seemed at once beautiful in a feminine way and quite unnatural.‘#60*†(†(∞



‘å    “Uh, yuh… I’m pleased to meet you too.”  But of course quite

the opposite was true, and I knew Lustig could see that in my eyes

and feel it in my ‘dead fish’ handshake.
     I pulled back my hand and suppressed the urge to wipe the palm

on my pants leg.  Lustig’s eyes held onto mine for another long

second or two, the obvious amusement in them very disconcerting to

me.
     “And this,” my Dad chimed back in, “is Marsha Milhouse, the

executive director of the Pennsylvania AIDS Law Project, which is

co©counseling Dennie’s case with us.”
     For the first time I noticed the woman sitting to Archie’s

left at the picnic table.  Her hair was brown and cut almost

boyishly short.  Her face was round and full, her body a bit

chunky, maybe even muscular… for a woman, that is.  She smiled,

stood up and shook my hand far more firmly than even Lustig hand

done.  (And his handshake had been pretty firm for a f… I stopped

myself from thinking that word.  That word was for Big Will Hadden

and his fascist father, not for Archie McAdoo’s son.)
     Milhouse also held out her hand to Claire, who took it and

shook it awkwardly.
     “Ned,” said Milhouse, turning her attention back to me and

still standing up, “your father tells me that you’ll be helping

prepare our case for trial this summer.”
     “Uh, yeh, right,” I said somewhat uncertainly. ‘#70*†(†(∞



‘å     “”That’s right, Marsh,” Archie added.  “As Denny so aptly put

it, young Ned, my son and heir, is officially a part of the crew of

the Starship Enterprise.”
     With that, the old man bent over, hoisted his bottle of

Budweiser from the table and toasted me with it. 
     “Welcome aboard, lad,” said Larry Berger, taking a long pull

at his glass of scotch.
     “Here, here,” said ‘Marsh’ Milhouse, picking up her own beer

bottle and taking a swig from it.
     Lustig and Mrs. Berger each picked up some kind of a foamy

pink drink that they had in front of them, gave a little toast in

my direction and took little sips that left flecks of pink foam on

their upper lips.
    Licking off the foam, Lustig added, “I adore your dacquerys,

Arch.”
    I noted furtively out of the corner of my left eye that Mom,

who had remained silent through this whole get©acquainted ritual,

didn’t pick up her drink… a Diet Coke, if I knew my Mother… to

toast my being beamed onboard the Lustig spaceship.  Whatever

planet I was bound for with my Dad and his “team”, Mom was not

making the voyage either in person or in spirit.
     By the time the little ritual was completed the Berger kids

had managed to finish their badminton game and swagger over to the

picnic table.  Archie and Mrs. Berger handled the introductions

among us kids.  ‘Ä%80*†(†(∞



‘å     “The food won’t be ready for another half hour,” added Archie.

“Why don’t the four of you go listen to some tapes in the family

room and get to know each other better?  I’ll give you a shout when

the chow is coming off the grill.”
     The four of us looked at each other a little uncertainly and

shrugged in acceptance of Dad’s suggestion.
     As we turned to head inside, Lustig was on his feet, the eyes

still sparkling their violet mischief.  “I love music,” he

proclaimed.  “Does anybody mind if I tag along?”

‘’90*†(†(∞



‘åôChapter Twelve
     The first few minutes down in the family room were a little

awkward.  The room was pleasantly cool, the old couch and chairs

the most comfortable furniture in the whole house.  Dennis Lustig

had refilled his dacquery glass before leaving the backyard.  The

rest of us got cans of soda from the refrigerator at the foot of

the basement stairs.  The awkwardness began to fade from the room

as we discovered that we all shared a liking for Lou Reed.
     I put the tape on the stereo and soon Lou was half singing,

half speaking, “take a walk on the wild side.”  When Reed reached

the line in the song that says, “he shaved his legs and then he was

a she… take a walk on the wild side,” Lustig, who was sitting

alone in a chair diagonally to the left of the couch where Jasaon

Berger and I were sprawled, looked at us with those weird but

appealing eyes of his and said,
   “He’s gay, you know.”
   There was a moment of awkward silence and surprise. 
   Finally, a second before all the earlier awkwardness could fall

on us like a wet blanket, I responded.
    “Who?  the guy in the song?  Obviously.”  I tried to sound

cool.
     “Well, sure, him too,” replied Lustig.  “I meant Lou Reed.”
     Jason apparently had recovered from his initial surprise,

shared I’m sure by all four of us kids, that Dennis Lustig would be

so up front about a subject that was still pretty much taboo in

‘burbs the likes of Havertown.‘’:[1]0*†(†(∞



‘å     “How can you possibly know that?” Larry’s rather pudgy son and

heir asked in a challenging tone of voice. ” I never heard that he

is.”
     Lustig flashed Berger the Younger a condescending smirk. 
“Trust me, my dear,” he almost purred, “I make it my business to

know the queens who are making their marks.”
     This deliberate gender switching had a titillating effect on

me, though it clearly made Jason uncomfortable and more defensive.

Claire and Gwen were flipping through Claire’s albums and tapes,

close by one of the stereo’s two speakers.  If they had heard this

dialog they never let on.
     “So √
√howƒ
ƒ do you know?” Jason pressed, crossing his legs and

holding his Diet Coke can with both hands in his lap.
     “How do I know?” Lustig replied in even, velvet tones.  “Well,

young Jason,” he continued after a delicate sip of his daquery,

“first, I would be quite certain of it ©©© even if I didn’t know

Lou personally ©©© merely by his voice, his clothes, his lyrics,

his phrasing… Dear God, it all says, ‘I’m queer as a three dollar

bill and proud of it, darlings.'”
     Of course, it was the parenthetical that had hooked us.
     “You know Lou Reed?” Jason and I seemed to ask simultaneously.

Our duet caught the girls’ attention, and all eyes turned to Dennis

Lustig, who seemed to bask in our gazes as if they were eight

spotlights turned on him.  For the first time I discovered how much

Dad’s pro bono client loved the limelight.
     ‘’;0*†(†(∞



‘åô     For the next ten minutes, Lustig held his little audience in

the palm of his hand, as he described the gay scene in New York and

in New Hope, Pennsylvania.  He told us about the weird behavior and

kinky clothes that were part of “Cruising” in Greenwich Village,

which Al Pacino had dramatized in a scandalous film none of us had

been permitted by our parents to see (although Jason chimed in with

a slightly aggressive assertion that he and a friend had managed to

slip in to see it at a local mall multiplex theater).
     Lou Reed liked to perform in a black t©shirt and a leather,

billed cap that evoked Marlon Brando and motorcycle gangs.  Pacino

had been pictured on the movie posters in such a leather jacket and

cap, the jacket decorated with chains.  I now could picture Dennis

Lustig doffing his restaurant manager’s blue blazer and striped tie

and exchanging them for Reed’s black t©shirt and Pacino’s black cap

and shiny leather motrocycle jacket.  I saw him jingling in his

chains around my mental image of Greenwich Village.  
     Denny… we were all to call him Denny… had a knack for

making eye contact and of speaking in a hypnotic, conspiratorial

purr that kept even a teen’s short attention span in his firm

grasp.  The sense of being given a glimpse of not an “R” but, yes,

an “X” rated movie, and a documentary at that, insured our rapt

attention as he painted verbal images of cowboy bars and wild

parties.  Weaving through all the images were Lou Reed, “queer as

a three dollar bill,” and Denny himself.
     Even Jason had left off challenging Denny’s verasity after the

first five minutes of detailed descriptions, including how Lou‘'<[1]0*†(†(∞



‘
Reed’s creative energy flooded through the front door when he

entered one of the Washington Square watering holes he and Denny

both frequented, announcing his arrival before anyone inside

actually spotted him.  Denny was the smiling, hissing serpent,

feeding us forbidden fruit and we loved it.
    Before we had quite had our fill, Archie shouted from the top

of the basement stairs, “Hey, you guys, dinner’s ready.  Come and

get it  before I eat it all myself.”  With Pop that might be no

idle threat.
    Claire turned off the tape and we all headed upstairs and out

to the backyard.  I was the last to leave the family room, turning

off the lights, as Mom had trained Claire and me to do.  As I

started up the stairs I saw that Denny was waiting at the top.
     As I climbed to where my head was about level with his chest

he put his right hand on my left shoulder and said,
     “You found all that pretty exciting, didn’t you, Ned?”
     My reaction was automatic.  I brushed his hand from my

shoulder. 
     “Hey, relax,” said Denny in his most soothing voice.  “I can

tell you’re not cut out to be a sister.  I’m just pleased to see

that the new member of my trial team isn’t homophobic.  I can see

you appreciate the validity of alternative life styles.  That’s

all.”  He stayed where he was, forcing me to brush past him. 

Buy this book at http://www.lulu.com

Why Reforming Education Is a Critical National Priority

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, aecond amendment, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, animals, arrest, art, asia, athletics, Barack Obama, baseball, bichons, Biden, Big Business, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, cars, cats, ceo compensation, Christmas, chrysler, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Democrats, diets, divorce, dogs, election, entertainment, environment, films, food, fraternities, gun control, high education, Higher Education, history, hollywood, immigration, intelligent design, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, marriage, mccain, media, medicine, middle east, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, North Pole, pennsylvania, pets, Pigs, Pit Bulls, Polar Express, Politics, pornography, president, Presidential Election, prisons, professors, random, relationships, religion, Republicans, Santa Claus, Sarah Palin, science, science fiction, sciencec, second amendment, shooting, sports, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, time travel, Uncategorized, United Nations, universities, vegans, Vice President, Violence, VTU, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on December 8, 2008 by castagnera

Why Reforming American Education Is Crucial
By James Castagnera
Attorney at Large
Last week in this space, talking about how to win the war on terror, I asserted, “The American workforce must be better prepared to compete in the global marketplace. When we are through congratulating ourselves on electing our first black president, let’s recall that inner-city high school graduation rates still hover at or below 50 percent in most major metropolises. Colleges are over-priced and inefficiently labor-intensive. We are cranking out too many lawyers and too few engineers and scientists.”
Just as I am convinced that our national security against terrorists rests primarily on good police work, secure borders, and a sensible immigration policy, the proliferation of drug wars, inner-city gangs, and campus crazies persuades me that education — like energy — is a national security issue.  I offer two reasons why.
First, no democracy can feel itself either fair or safe, when it allows an inner-city proletariat to persist and fester from generation to generation.  According to the cover story in the December 8th TIME Magazine, “Young Americans are less likely than their parents were to finish high school.”  Adds the article’s authors, “This is an issue that is warping the nation’s economy and security.”  They are right.
A report issued in April by America’s Promise Alliance and reported on Fox News found high school graduation rates below 50% in America’s 50 largest cities.  According to Fox, “The report found troubling data on the prospects of urban public high school students getting to college. In Detroit’s public schools, 24.9 percent of the students graduated from high school, while 30.5 percent graduated in Indianapolis Public Schools and 34.1 percent received diplomas in the Cleveland Municipal City School District.”
Consider this:  the odds that you or I will be the victim of one of these thousands of high school dropouts is astronomically higher than the chance that one of us will be killed by an international terrorist.  Philadelphia annually averages about 400 homicides, for example.  While many of these killings are drug dealers or gang members taking out their rivals in jungle-land turf battles, the collateral damage in innocent citizens, including kids, is heartbreaking.
We need only glance across our southern border to Juarez, Mexico, to see how much worse it could become.  As early this year as February 28th, the Dallas News reported 72 drug-related murders in Juarez and worried that the violence could begin spilling over the porous border.  In Mexico, the killings include public officials who try to oppose the warring factions.  “Among the dead there: journalists, a city council member and a police chief on the job just seven hours before he was gunned down. Additionally, the cartels tried to assassinate a federal legislator. And efforts to clean up the force have stalled, as nobody wants the job of police chief. Local media self-censors to survive.”  A popular way for cartel killers to communicate their message is to hang a beheaded corpse from a highway overpass.
How great is the distance between Philadelphia and Juarez?  Thousands of miles as the crow flies, but perhaps only a few years away in terms of escalating violence, as our uneducated proletariats turn in increasing numbers to the only livelihood likely to pay them well.
For those who do graduate from high school and hope to come to college, the current financial crisis may pose an insurmountable barrier.  College students already are regularly graduating with five-figure “mortgages” on their diplomas.  Often, if mom and pop are footing the tuition bills, an actual second-mortgage on the family homestead is how the money is raised.  Now, even that undesirable method may be slipping away, as home equity shrinks and major lenders like City Bank flounder.  We’ll have to wait and see whether the college class of 2013, which will come to campus in September ’09, will be substantially smaller than this year’s crop of collegians.  I predict it will be.
Those who can’t afford college probably won’t be working either.  This morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer’s front page reports the highest unemployment rate in 34 years: 6.7% nationally.  More than 500,000 jobs, adds the Inky, evaporated just last month.
More than 100 years ago, the famous defense attorney Clarence Darrow claimed, “There are more people go to jail in hard times than in good times — few people comparatively go to jail except when they are hard up. They go to jail because they have no other place to go. They may not know why, but it is true all the same. People are not more wicked in hard times. That is not the reason. The fact is true all over the world that in hard times more people go to jail than in good times, and in winter more people go to jail than in summer….  The people who go to jail are almost always poor people — people who have no other place to live first and last.”
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, more than 700 people per 100,000.  Only Russia, some of the other states of the former USSR, and a couple of Caribbean countries come close.  Are we stronger on law and order than our sister democracies?  Or are we failing to provide alternatives to crime?
And where lies the greater threat to our security, Afghanistan or the city nearest your home?
[Jim Castagnera, formerly of Jim Thorpe, is a Philadelphia lawyer and writer.  His 17th book, Al Qaeda Goes to College, will be published in the spring by Praeger.]

How Do You Like the 21st Century So Far?

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, asia, Barack Obama, Biden, Big Business, blogging, Blogroll, breaking news, ceo compensation, Crime, criminal justice, cyberspace, Democrats, election, environment, gun control, Higher Education, history, immigration, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, mccain, media, middle east, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, obama, Oil Companies, Palin, pennsylvania, Politics, president, Presidential Election, professors, Republicans, science, science fiction, second amendment, shooting, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, Uncategorized, United Nations, universities, Vice President, Violence, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on November 7, 2008 by castagnera

On Tuesday, November 4th, we Americans made history.  As Journalist Bill Moyers pointed out on NPR, the albatross of racism has been lifted from around many American necks.  I include myself in this category.  I also feel as if the 2008 national election is the first bright spot in a dismal decade.
The new century was hardly underway when the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks bloodily and dramatically signaled the end of America’s brief illusion that, as the world’s sole superpower at the end of the Cold War, Uncle Sam could do anything he liked and get away with it.
A strong case can be made that we over-reacted to the Nine/Eleven attacks.  Launching a two-front war from which we have been unable to extricate ourselves is deemed by many Americans to have been a colossal blunder.  If you believe that fighting terrorism is essentially police work, and that our military forces are creating more radical Islamists than they are killing, then the Afghan and Iraqi wars were a bad idea.  If, on the other hand, you believe that America needs a stable Middle East to secure vital oil supplies, then the Bush Administration’s gross underestimate of the price in lives in treasure required to pacify the region makes the Afghan and Iraqi wars a bad idea.
More troubling to me is the financial crisis precipitated by Wall Street’s greed and Washington’s unwillingness to regulate the financial world’s shenanigans.  As Moyers said the other night on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” since the Bush people have no respect for federal regulation of business, they saw no reason to dampen the redistribution of wealth to the financial/power elite that occurred over the past eight years.  The Bush tax cuts contributed mightily to this largesse for the elite.  The War on Terror also contributed mightily.  For example, Halliburton, which made Dick Cheney a multi-multi-millionaire between Bush I and Bush II, has been rewarded with billions in defense contracts since the start of hostilities.  What the tax cuts and war didn’t put in the top five-percent’s pockets, they stole.
I don’t know what kind of a president Obama will make.  Two years ago I wrote him off as a flash in the pan.  A year ago I criticized his lack of national-service experience.  As Senator Joe Lieberman said at the Republican National Convention last summer, Obama is a talented man of great potential.  But, as Lieberman added, the ability to make an inspiring speech is no substitute for experience.
That being said, his themes of “hope” and “Yes, we can” are sorely needed now.  He seems to be surrounding himself with the wealth of experience he himself lacks, starting with Joe Biden.  By the time this column appears, he most likely will have picked a Treasury Secretary of comparable stature.  Jack Kennedy was younger, when elected, than Obama is now.  JFK was tested and made some early blunders at his first summit with the Soviet Union’s leader and at the Bay of Pigs.  But by October 1962 he was sufficiently seasoned to surmount the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Obama, too, is a quick study and a gutsy guy.
Even if he turns out to be a mediocre president, his election by a wide majority marks a departure from America’s centuries of racism.  It validates and renews Jefferson’s claim that America is the last, best hope of the world.  It supports our claim that our greatest strength is our diversity.
The challenges facing President Obama and the rest of us are daunting.  The current financial crisis will subside.  The challenge of a global marketplace occupied by an ascendant China, a resurgent Russia, and other energetic and powerful economic competitors is with us for good.  Islamic militants probably won’t quit until they succeed in detonating a nuclear device on US soil, or we succeed in killing them, while also making peace with the moderate majority of the Muslim world.  We who work in education must somehow manage to increase the demoralizing high school graduation rates of our largest cities, while providing our college students with all the skills they need to compete in a world where young Americans are no longer guaranteed to do better than their parents.
The half century that has comprised most of this writer’s life, from the late 1940s down to the turn of the new century, was a sort of Golden Age in the USA.  Getting by was a piece of cake.  Relative affluence was possible for the vast majority.  The Cold War with its doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction created a sort of “Pax Atomica” interrupted relatively rarely by low-level conflicts in Asia and elsewhere.  Ronald Reagan was the last US president to know what was wanted: “Here’s my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose.”
Since 1988, our brief ascendancy to sole superpower-ship has plunged into confusion, greed, and blind stupidity.  I don’t know if President Obama is the man to reverse this trajectory.  But unless you think that the first eight years of the new millennium were good times, you need to join those of us who hope.
[Jim Castagnera is the Associate Provost/Associate Council at Rider University.  His 17th book, “Al Qaeda Goes to College,” will be published by Greenwood/Praeger next spring.]

Rider University Newswire article about my new book

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