Thursday, September 01, 2005

Maybe it'll take a few thousand deaths

It's heartbreaking, of course, to hear about the predicament of the people who decided to stay in New Orleans, Mississippi, and other places rather than do the smart thing and clear out. To hear about people, including children, stranded without food or water. To hear about snipers picking off innocent people who are just waiting to be rescued. To hear about looters, some of them looting valuables or alcohol, but some of them just looking for food or bottled water who nevertheless could be shot by a policman.

Still, they were warned. Not just recently with the storm on the way, but, in the case of New Orleans, through some TV documentaries explaining that New Orleans in particular, being below sea level, could be inundated by by a hurricane driven storm surge. The documentary I saw made it clear that the scenario we are witnessing now wasn't just idle speculation, but that it was a matter of when it would happen, not whether.

That question has been answered.

Maybe the next time a city gets a warning like this, they'll remember this disaster and hightail it out of town.

It's just too bad it may take the deaths of thousands of children, women, and men to create that awareness.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Take out Pat Robertson!

That paragon of right-wing "Christianity," Pat Robertson, has done it again.

Known in the past for calling natural disasters God's wrath against homosexuals and for not believing that the Separation of Church and State is in The Constitution, ignoring the The First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion").

Now, he's recommending we assissinate the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, because the buffoon is anti-American. Don't believe me, read this!

Chavez's sin is that of being a paranoid left-leaning tin-pot populist sitting on a lot of oil.

Now, the U.S. having already attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro in Cuba and having killed and removed one popular leftist leader in Chile (Salvador Allende in Chile, 1973) by supporting a right-wing coup, Chavez's paranoia cannot be regarded as wholly unfounded.

However, as far as his oil goes, what can he do? If he raises the price, we won't buy it. If he lowers the price...well, why would he do that? As far as influencing those in the Middle East from whom we buy oil, his influence has to be nil. They are almost all undemocratic kingdoms with a vested interest in the status quo!

We've lived with Castro at our doorstep all these years, even maintining Guantanamo Air Base on his island. I think we'll survive a few more years of Hugo Chavez.

The one who really needs to go is Pat Robertson, although I'm certainly not recommending assassination. Religious re-education sounds like a much better approach.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

A civil war in Islam

It's too bad for all the peace loving Muslims that the term "Islamic terrorists" has become distinct as a sub-category within terrorists. Unfortunately, most of the terror going on in the news today is Islamic terrorism, and I understand and sympathize with the ordinary Muslim who wishes not to be associated with these monstrous acts that are now happening with excruciating regularity.

It's easy to blame it on poverty, disaffection, neglect, as the cause of Islamic terrorism, and yet suicide bombings, truck bombings, 9/11 and so forth are so far not being carried out by poor, disaffected, or neglected Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Scientologists, or Wiccans.

So, what is the real cause of Islamic terrorism, then. Can we blame it on the US role in the founding of Israel and consistently backing them even when they have acted unjustly. Can we blame it on our role in waiting until it was too late to intervene in Chechnia, where Christians were well on their way to wiping out every living Muslim male. Was it due to the war in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein?

And yet, similar indignities and offenses (or perceived offenses) have been committed against other ethnic and religious groups without generating suicide and truck bombings, and without anything like 9/11.

What is the difference? The difference goes back to why "Islamic terrorist" has become a unitary express. It has something to do with Islam. Now, I'm not being a bigot here and implying that Islam is bad.

What I maintain is that there is a civil war going on in Islam between the mainstream, which is modernizing and liberalizing, and a fundamentalist faction which wants Islam to remain in the Dark Ages even before the period when Islam was the receptacle for most of the learning in the world and when the Christian Crusaders were in fact the real barbarian hordes.

Israel, Chechnia, Iraq have become tools used by one faction of Islam against the other faction of Islam, and as such, we are not the root cause of the terrorism, but rather the means on faction uses against the other.

As such, it is sadly up to the Muslims themselves to weed out potential terrorists and, as we say here in the States, "narc" or "drop a dime" on Muslims who give off even the slightest hints of being sympathetic to terrorism.

I said this last week in a discussion forum and was pretty much accused of racism, but just yesterday, a British Parliament member, and Muslim, said pretty much the same thing: terror must be fought from within.

This is welcome, since fighting terror from outside the Muslim communities in the UK and here in the US, will just exacerbate the perception, held by almost any minority anywhere, of being oppressed outsiders.

It is the "I am a victim" attitude that holds back many minorities, who sit around waiting for the majority to fix things for them. This is a major difference between successful minorities here in the US, such as the Jews, and less successful ones, such as blacks. The Jews have accepted that there will always be anti-Semitism and have gotten on with their lives, large segments of the black community seem to be waiting to be rescued.

One can't help but notice, though, those blacks who are most successful are clearly the ones who are not basking in victimhood, but have decided to do something about their lot on their own, by themselves. Succeeding on one's own is much better for one's self-esteem than succeeding due to a helping hand.

This is the lesson Muslims living outside their core geography have to learn: acceptance and regard can't be demanded, it must be earned. And this can take time. Certainly Jews are much more widely accepted today than they were at the time of World War II. There was a time when Catholics were outsiders.

So, this war in Islam is also fed by the fundamentalist faction feeding Muslim youth the idea that they are victims, whereas they are simply going through the same process any minority goes through to gain acceptance. Of course, they want Islam to flunk the test and not gain acceptance. That would be a defeat, and so they fan the flames of victimhood and hatred.

Back to the Islamic communities themselves. This terrorism is impeding this process of acceptance, and dealing with terrorists from the top down, when the government represents a Christian majority, will only make things worse.

It's now up to the Muslims to clean house, and it looks like the cleaning has started.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

People who misplace blame

People are upset about the situation in L.A. where a baby was killed in a shootout with a wacko father. But let's not blame the police. The L.A. police have handled more than 4000 hostage situations and this is the first time a hostage has been killed by a policeman's bullet. Statistically (and I know this is no comfort to the mother and the family), it was bound to happen eventually.

I've also heard other people complain that the U.S. presence in Iraq has brought about a dangerous situation resulting in the deaths of many innocent Iraqis. Think about the alternatives, though. On the one hand, they could still be living under the boot heels of Saddam Hussein, whose government regularly made people disappear and whose solution to opposition in the hinterlands was genocide. Or, after kicking Saddam's regime out, we might have simply abandoned Iraq to the sort of people who are currently using truck bombs that kill Iraqis more frequently than U.S. soldiers.

Shit happens and we'd like to think it could all be prevented, but it can't

Special treatment for White House traitors?

President Bush is a loyal man. When he likes and trusts someone, it's difficult to get him to turn his back on them.

As a result, we are stuck with several in his circle who could and should be replaced. Donald Rumsfeld, for example, who has all the diplomatic skills of an irrascible old misanthrope and holds such a high opinion of himself that he can't think straight. And while he isn't a cabinet member and could only be removed through the nearly impossible process of impeachment, wouldn't it be nice to have a Vice President who is capable of sometimes seeing things not through the filter of a gung-ho corporate special interests cheerleader.

And now we have Carl Rove, Bush's strategist, seemingly behind the outing of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA agent. No, she wasn't in deep cover in Russia's security services, but she had connections in sensitive positions, and outing her pretty much outed them as well. Whoever did it (and I'm not asserting as a fact that it was Rove), is guilty of an act of treason on some level. If he did, then Bush has a problem in that he has already stated that if anyone in The White House is responsible, they will be fired.

But, like I said, Pres. Bush is a very loyal man and stands by his friends to the bitter end. If Carl Rove proves to be the snitch, and if it's determined that this act was a crime, will Pres. Bush do what needs to be one and what he said he would do?

Only time will tell.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Terrorism in London and what it means

I was on a discussion board populated mostly by UK'ers today and of course just about all that was being discussed was the terror attacks today on London's mass transit system.

Several times, people opined that "This won't further their (the Islamists) cause."

What these people can't seem to wrap their head around is that the Islamists are not working toward a world in which we'll all be "friends." They're working toward a world run strictly according to their perception of Allah's plan for us all.

Unfortunately, this is inevitably going to drive us deeper and deeper into a police state, which is what they want and is equally well inevitable.

But while making police and soldiers an everyday presence in our largest cities will thwart some and maybe even much terrorism, it won't thwart all of it, and so our daily lives will become more and more like that of the Israelis.

The Brits have been through this before, in the heyday of IRA terrorism, when bombs went off from time to time. That is coming to the US.

The hard part is going to be to fight terrorism while maintaining some semblance of democracy.

Without doubt, profiling will have to be a part of it simply because security personnel are a limited resource and will have to be used in the most rational way instead of the most sensitive way. Facial recognition software will come to be used at airports. We'll be going back to universal carry-on searches and not just spot searches. In fact, there may be no more carry-on luggage in the future, except for people with an actual need to carry something on board, who may have to apply for a permit in advance.

I mentioned that security inspectors are a limited resource. Our current weak spot is the bus and train terminal, so expect to see attacks on Amtrak stations and Greyhound terminals. Expect a suicide bomber to be riding a city bus wearing a vest that's also a bomb.

All of this is on the way, so people get ready. It's going to be a long, bumpy ride!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Mexican stamp offends blacks? I wonder why?

What do you think?

Mexico has a little growing up to do, I guess. We went through the Little Black Sambo phase in the 50's and 60's, and have expunged many of the most offensive images of blacks from the past. Poor ole Sambo is pretty hard to find north of the border anymore.

While objecting to offensive black images from the past, it seems elements in the black community aren't loathe to generate new ones, such as kids with baseball caps worn in various akilter ways and oversize pants down around their ass. This sort of image hardly tells the world "We can be brain surgeons, rocket scientists, and even The President someday."

We probably have shifted our stereotyping in the US from blacks to hispanics, since it seems most of the crooks, hoods, killers, and gang members on TV and in the movies are cast as Mexican-Americans.

But don't think stereotyping is limited to the downtrodden: In the staple evening sitcoms, white males are almost always depicted as halfwitted boy-men who are clueless when it comes to understanding their wives and children, and who are always making stupid decisions that others have to pick up after. Sadly, this phenomenon dates back to at least The Honeymooners show of the 1950's.

Friday, June 24, 2005

A short little essay on religion and mystery

"You atheists want to take all of the mystery out of the Universe" is an accusation with which atheists are quite familiar. This is typical religious bullshit.

An atheist believes what science believes, which is that the universe simply exploded into being. This is now what most of the more intelligent and aware religious people believe as well, except that they add that there must be an explanation for this and that this explanation is that God made the universe.

By contrast, the atheist embraces the mystery and leaves it as is, an event without known explanation.

You religious people want to take all of the mystery out of the universe!