Wednesday, March 29, 2006

'The Last Helicopter'

Hassan Abbasi has a dream--a helicopter doing an arabesque in cloudy skies to avoid being shot at from the ground. On board are the last of the "fleeing Americans," forced out of the Dar al-Islam (The Abode of Islam) by "the Army of Muhammad." Presented by his friends as "The Dr. Kissinger of Islam," Mr. Abbasi is "professor of strategy" at the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guard Corps University and, according to Tehran sources, the principal foreign policy voice in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's new radical administration.

For the past several weeks Mr. Abbasi has been addressing crowds of Guard and Baseej Mustadafin (Mobilization of the Dispossessed) officers in Tehran with a simple theme: The U.S. does not have the stomach for a long conflict and will soon revert to its traditional policy of "running away," leaving Afghanistan and Iraq, indeed the whole of the Middle East, to be reshaped by Iran and its regional allies.

To hear Mr. Abbasi tell it the entire recent history of the U.S. could be narrated with the help of the image of "the last helicopter." It was that image in Saigon that concluded the Vietnam War under Gerald Ford.[snip]

According to this theory, President George W. Bush is an "aberration," a leader out of sync with his nation's character and no more than a brief nightmare for those who oppose the creation of an "American Middle East." Messrs. Abbasi and Ahmadinejad have concluded that there will be no helicopter as long as George W. Bush is in the White House. But they believe that whoever succeeds him, Democrat or Republican, will revive the helicopter image to extricate the U.S. from a complex situation that few Americans appear to understand.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's defiant rhetoric is based on a strategy known in Middle Eastern capitals as "waiting Bush out." "We are sure the U.S. will return to saner policies," says Manuchehr Motakki, Iran's new Foreign Minister.

Please read the rest

Mideast dictators try to "wait Bush out." They may be miscalculating.

It's not just the Iranians and other ME dictators that are waiting for this moment. Many left leaning people have been rooting for this moment since even before Iraq, but certainly, as soon as the first tanks crossed the border between Kuwait and Iraq.

In fact, my youngest brother was crowing last night about the falling support for "Bush's War" sighting a poll that states the beginning of the war had 72% support and it is currently down below 50%. From his comments it is easy to understand the thought processes of many in the United States who have never supported the war or have only done so as "sunshine patriots".

From their perspective, a defeat and ignominious retreat is not a defeat for the United States, but a defeat for President Bush and his policies. A defeat is not a defeat of our military, but a defeat of Donald Rumsfeld. It's not a defeat for democracy or freedom, but a win for realistic foreign policies. It's not a defeat for the American people, but a win for the mass voices that just want to go back to the days when the world was "calm" and did not intrude on their way of life.

Forget the broader implications for the Middle East, Islamic Terrorism or the future of security in the US. What's important is that Bush is proved wrong, even if it gives the enemy satisfaction and an open window to proceed to their own dreams of hegemony.

There is no such thing as an American War anymore. It's Johnson's War, Nixon's War, Bush's War. Apparently, the United States is a separate entity from the Executive office and, through some mystical magical machinery, the US will not suffer any consequences because it's all about the President. All of these folks are looking for the Wizard of Oz who will wave his magic wand and turn the world back to September 10th where we can pretend there are no men in Boston waiting to catch an airplane and fly it into buildings.

When the last helicopter leaves, these folks believe we can go back to the way it used to be. Except, of course, Ahmadinejad has a different idea of what that means. Something about Iran becoming the ruling (nuclear weapon holding) leader of the ME complete with Mullahcracy and destruction of Israel.

Mr. Ahmadinejad believes that the world is heading for a clash of civilizations with the Middle East as the main battlefield. In that clash Iran will lead the Muslim world against the "Crusader-Zionist camp" led by America. Mr. Bush might have led the U.S. into "a brief moment of triumph." But the U.S. is a "sunset" (ofuli) power while Iran is a sunrise (tolu'ee) one and, once Mr. Bush is gone, a future president would admit defeat and order a retreat as all of Mr. Bush's predecessors have done since Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Ahmadinejad also notes that Iran has just "reached the Mediterranean" thanks to its strong presence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. He used that message to convince Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to adopt a defiant position vis-à-vis the U.N. investigation of the murder of Rafiq Hariri, a former prime minister of Lebanon. His argument was that once Mr. Bush is gone, the U.N., too, will revert to its traditional lethargy. "They can pass resolutions until they are blue in the face," Mr. Ahmadinejad told a gathering of Hezbollah, Hamas and other radical Arab leaders in Tehran last month.

There's more. Why? Because all the leaders of the ME are getting the idea that soon they can go back to doing things the "old way" and not have to even pay lip service to American policy. What makes them think so? Why, we do of course. Just watch our media and you'll know the message that these folks are getting: stay in your rat hole, soon the cat will be gone and you can come out and play again.

Good job, America. The thing we've become the best at is running away and we think that's just great.

Wonder if any of these folks know what happened to Carthage while the senators dithered? Think any of these folks could find the modern state of Carthage on a 2005 map?

Didn't think so.


Common Name, Uncommon Valor

I wonder when, or if, Hollywood will ever make a movie about this man?

The story of Paul Smith, the Iraq War's only Medal of Honor recipient so far.

Now all his training, all his experience, all the instincts that had made him a model soldier, were about to be put to the test. With 16 men from his First Platoon, B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, Sgt. Smith was under attack by about 100 troops of the Iraqi Republican Guard.

"We're in a world of hurt," he muttered.[snip]

Sgt. Smith could have withdrawn as well, back south through the compound. But beyond it was a lightly defended aid station crowded with 100 combat casualties and medical personnel. To protect it from being overrun, Sgt. Smith chose to fight no matter what the odds.

Under intense fire, Sgt. Smith's men heroically extracted all three wounded crewmen from the APC. Sgt. Smith then entered the vehicle, ordering Spc. Michael Seaman to join him as driver and "keep me loaded" with ammo belts. Sgt. Smith popped up out of the turret hatch and grabbed the grips of the .50-caliber machine gun mounted on top.[snip]

To fire the machine gun, Sgt. Smith had to stand in the APC's main hatch, his body exposed from the waist up to a withering fire coming at him from three directions. On the ground through the blur of combat, Sgt. Matthew Keller saw Sgt. Smith grimly firing measured bursts from atop the APC even as a hail of bullets hit around him.

Sgt. Keller yelled at him to get out. Sgt. Smith looked back at him and with a slight shake of his head, made a cutting motion across his throat with his right hand. Sgt. Keller would always remember the look in his eyes. "There was no fear in him whatsoever."

As Spc. Seaman, crouching in the adjoining hatch, fed him ammunition belts, Sgt. Smith directed an expert and murderous fire with the long-barreled M2, hitting Iraqis who tried to enter the compound through the gate or over the wall. He tried also to suppress renewed fire coming from the Iraqis in the guard tower to his left.

Finally, one of his fellow sappers, First Sgt. Timothy Campbell, led a small fire team which stole up to the tower and killed all Iraqis inside. But by this time, Sgt. Smith's machine gun had fallen silent. The attack had been broken. Nearly 50 Iraqi dead lay all over the area. Others were in retreat. But Sgt. Smith was now slumped in the turret hatch, blood soaking the front of his uniform.[snip]

Paul Ray Smith had given his life protecting his men and his position. He had almost single-handedly blunted an overwhelming attack which might well have overrun the nearby aid station.

"There are two ways to come home, stepping off the plane and being carried off the plane," Sgt. Smith had written in an unsent email to his parents. "It doesn't matter how I come home, because I am prepared to give all that I am to insure that all my boys make it home." He had been the only American killed in the courtyard fight.

This was Sgt York or Auty Murphy style of heroism. Saddly, if Hollywood ever got around to making a movie about Paul Smith, it would probably be a cross between "Born on the 4th of July" and "Jarhead". Apparently, there are no heroes in uniform these days. It's all about angst ridden, chain smoking, metro-sexuals suffering from "moral dilemnas".

Patriotism and Heroics are dead in Hollywood.

Here's to Paul Smith: may his memory inspire many more young men and women to serve.

Unfathomable Zealotry

When I read this, I realized that I thought the same: Where in the Muslim world did anyone say this man did not deserve to die?

"The world is too much with us," Wordsworth once wrote. This is certainly the way I feel. To be confronted on an almost daily basis with the horrors of Iraq is profoundly disturbing. The torture and decapitation of huge numbers of people, the casual homicides, the constant suicide bombings -- all of this makes you wonder about your fellow man.[snip]

In Africa, Asia, too much of the world -- it is Joseph Conrad much of the time: "The horror! The horror!"

But you can say that these horrors are usually being inflicted by a minority. You say it is a few crazed terrorists of Iraq who are doing the killing. It is not most Iraqis. You can say the same about suicide bombers and torturers and rogue governments, like the one Saddam Hussein once headed. You can take solace in numbers. Most people are like us.

Then comes the Rahman case and it is not a solitary crazy prosecutor who brings the charge of apostasy but an entire society. It is not a single judge who would condemn the man but a culture. The Taliban are gone at gunpoint, their atrocities supposedly a thing of the past. In our boundless optimism, we consign them to the "too hard" file of horrors we cannot figure out: the Khmer Rouge, the Nazis, the communists of the Stalin period. Now, though, this awful thing returns and it is not just a single country that would kill a man for his beliefs but a huge swath of the world that would not protest. There can be only one conclusion: They were in agreement.

The groupthink of the Muslim world is frightening. I know there are exceptions -- many exceptions. But still it seems that a man could be killed for his religious beliefs and no one would say anything in protest.[snip]

Unfathomable Zealotry

This is because, in the Muslim world, which so few people understand, it is very common for men and women to be put to death for leaving Islam or "committing apostasy". In fact, people of other faiths who try to practice their religion in Saudi Arabia or own any religious item such as a bible or a cross, can be killed or sentenced to prison. This is not just Iran with it's Mullahcracy or Pakistan with it's wild half jihadi lands on either side. In Egypt, in Yemen, even in Iraq, where many of the killings are kufirs or takfiris, in SAudi Arabia, are closest ME ally next to Israel or even Jordan; people are put to death, deported or put in prison for practicing their religion when it is not Islam. Worse, in places like Saudi Arabia, the Muttawa (religious police) can have you beaten, imprisoned or even killed for not practicing Islam the "right" way.

It's time that people wake up: that is the entire point of this war. Freedom. That includes the freedom to practice or not practice religion of a person's choice. It's about the Muslim world in the Middle East fearing that our culture is infiltrating their culture and turning Muslims from "true" Islam. In fact, this is true Islam. It is a basic tenet of "true" Islam whether it is Shia or Sunni, Wahhabi, Ashuri, etc.

We are not at war with Islam, but Islam is certainly at war with everything that is not Islam and within itself.

The cure for Islamic terrorism and stultifying autocracies is not simply democracy. True democracy, that we take for granted, requires an enlightenment that Islam has not experienced. It requires a belief in the goodness of your fellow man to the point that you believe you do not have to control his every movement because he will act within the bounds of a social contract that binds all men regardless of religion, race, creed, sex or ethnicity.

None of these things exist in Islam. Those who are not Muslim are less than second class citizens. No creed is allowed beyond the five pillars of Islam. In Sudan, black Muslims are being ethnicly cleansed.

This is reality that the media does not report. This is the reality that cheesy programs called "30 Days As A Muslim" never touched on as it barely gave you the basics of Muslim practices. The reality you will not see on a history program about Islam or the rise of Al Qaida. Al Qaida is not some abberation within Islam. It espouses little ideology that does not exist within "mainstream" Islam. No real media will analyze the true practices of Islam and present the facts because, if it did, people would finally understand that the "religion of peace" only exists where Muslims live within Western democratic states where the rule of secular law prevails. Even in such countries as France, Denmark and England, honor killings and murders of Kufirs or takfiris (one who denounces his faith or does not practice "real" Islam), occurs more than people would like to know.

The only reason this zealotry is unfathomable is because most people know nothing about Islam and never will because they will not search it out themselves and those with the tools and medium to do so will never do it. It's much easier for people to accept that the death and destruction that we have seen in the name of Islam is the product of a few deranged individuals who have twisted the religion to fit their own means (which surely many have). It is less scary to believe that there are just a few that need to be eliminated to achieve peace.

It is only unfathomable because people have chosen to be blind, deaf and dumb. If they didn't, they would find that 80% of Muslims are "conservative" and have no problem with killing a man for not believing in Allah. They would find that the destruction of Al Qaida and the death of bin Laden or Zawahiri will not end this war. That is something that most people cannot accept.

Fukyama was right in many regards. Democracy alone will not win this war nor see the sea change in the Middle East that would be required to end this war. Until we accept that, we will never fight this war the way it should be and we will never understand that the real change does not come when we install the ballot box, but when Western concepts of liberalism and enlightenment have infiltrated the Middle East along with our men and women in uniform, with our music, our movies, our books, our jeans and flip flops.

That is a long way away. Until then I imagine that many more people like the author of this piece will continue to be surprised by such behaviors as killing a man for his religion or murdering a woman for talking to a man.

Wake up, people, this is our war whether we like it or not.

While We Dither, Borders Wither

I received an email last night with pictures attached showing our borders being infiltrated:

On Sunday 3-19-06 I was out at a friends ranch on the border in San Diego helping them pick up some trash on the south end of their property when we saw something startling. During a curious absence of Border Patrol on the border road; we saw several vehicles drive right up to the fence from the south side. One of the vehicles carried several men who got out and began cutting through the border fence with a cutting torch. One of them appeared to have a rifle. They were almost done with the cutting by the time the Border Patrol showed up to stop them. When that happened all hell broke loose on the Mexican side of the fence. There was a lot of shouting in Spanish as the men quickly loaded up and all the vehicles raced off at a high rate of speed. Since I'm learning photography; I had my digital camera with me and managed to get some pictures (from a safe distance) of all this happening. I also got some pictures of the fence after it was cut and spoke with some of the Border Patrol agents who bravely responded to this incident.

Pic 1: A close up of the first truck to approach the fence from the south side. An orange glow is visible at the fence where the cutting torch is being used. A man with a long gun is standing at the passenger door.

Pic 2: As the cutting was nearly completed; four additional vehicles drove to the fence while a sixth vehicle appeared to serve as a lookout. A lone Border Patrol unit can be seen moving into the area with flashing lights at the top of the picture. Armed only with a .40 caliber handgun and facing heavily armed and violent smugglers; this took grit.

Pic 3: This side of the fence was cut to the ground in less than five minutes.

Pic 4: This side was a few minutes away from completion. The opening would have been large enough to drive a Humvee through. If the fence wasn't there these vehicles and their unknown cargo would be in the United States of America. Thankfully, the US Border Patrol, Army Corps of Engineers, and National Guard have provided these force multiplying deterrents to prevent that.

Name of contact and phone number upon request and verification.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mein Kampf, Islam and the Resurgence of Anti-Semitism

I have wondered for sometime why Hitler's "Mein Kampf" would become so popular with Muslims of all walks of life from the liberal to the extreme. As anti-semitism rises across nations and accusations of passive and aggressive "Zionism" is used to explain every foreign policy issue from both the Middle East as well as European and American elitists, I have become determined to review more completely and analytically what messages Hitler's "Mein Kampf" holds for modern anti-semitists. I think it is also imperative to review the language and attitude of those who are obvious anti-semites as well as those who claim to not be anti-semitic but simply anti-Zionist.

In my youth, along with treatise by Marx, Locke, Paine, etc, I had read excerpts of Hitler's book, but never made a thorough study of it, though World War II, militarily and politically, is one of my favorite periods to read and study on. I think I inherently shied away from reading this book perceiving it to be a work of evil, which surely Hitler personified in his egomaniacal demand for perfection or destruction. As with my recent reading of Zawaheeri's "Knights Under the Prophet's Banner", reading "Mein Kampf" reminds you that the writer is not stupid nor insane (at least, not in the accepted idea of insanity meaning a defect in the brain leading to the person's inability understand right or wrong).

The first thing to note is the language of Mein Kampf, which punctuated with numerous descriptive phrases, appearing similar in floridity to modern Arabist and Muslim writers. This must make it easier to read, comprehend and regurgitate within the psyche of these modern readers as it reflects or is reflected in popular modern treatise.

Secondly, because the writing follows a logical progression and brings the reader along with Hitler in his own ideological progression, it does not appear to be the ravings of a madman, but an intelligent well thought out position.

Third, because I am reading chapter three in which he describes his Vienna period and begins his discussion of his anti-Semitic emergence, it is not enough to simply say that Hitler hated the Jews and the Muslims (of all professed conditions of the faith from "liberal" to "extreme") hate the Jews thus their shared hatred's make them the same. It is, in fact, exact language, rhetoric, descriptions and values which match, without any separation I can find to date, both modern and Qu'ranic Arab/Muslim writings/rhetoric and Mein Kampf.

In particularly, beyond the idea that a Jewish minority controls government and economics, the exact idea that Zionism is evil and that every Jew is a Zionist at heart and works towards the Zionist dream of establishing a Jewish state across the entirity of the Arab lands.

Among them there was a great movement, quite extensive in Vienna, which came out sharply in confirmation of the national character of the Jews: this was the Zionists.

It looked to be sure, as though only a part of the Jews approved this viewpoint, while the great majority condemned and inwardly rejected such a formulation. But when examined more closely, this appearance dissolved itself into an unsavory vapor of pretexts advanced for mere reasons of expedience, not to say lies. For the so-called liberal Jews did not reject the Zionists as non-Jews, but only as Jews with an impractical, perhaps even dangerous, way of publicly avowing their Jewishness.
Intrinsically they remained unalterably of one piece.

In a short time this apparent struggle between Zionistic and liberal Jews disgusted me; for it was false through and through, founded on lies and scarcely in keeping with the moral elevation and purity always claimed by this people.

This cannot be taken totally out of context nor be considered an "out of the blue" anger. In fact, as earlier noted, he leads the reader through his progression from being fairly unaware of the existence of Jews, to believing they are simply another part of the "volk" to his uncomfortability with anti-semitism in certain press and conversations to finally "understanding" the "Jewish question" after reading "scientific" pamphlets and books that did not mirror the hysterical meanderings of most anti-Semitics.

Once, as I was strolling through the Inner City, I suddenly encountered an apparition in a black caftan and black hair locks. Is this a Jew? was my first thought.
For, to be sure, they had not looked like that in Linz. I observed the man furtively and cautiously, but the longer I stared at this foreign face, scrutinizing feature for feature, the more my first question assumed a new form:
Is this a German?

As always in such cases, I now began to try to relieve my doubts by books. For a few hellers I bought the first antiSemitic pamphlets of my life. Unfortunately, they all proceeded from the supposition that in principle the reader knew or even understood the Jewish question to a certain degree. Besides, the tone for the most part was such that doubts again arose in me, due in part to the dull and amazingly unscientific arguments favoring the thesis.

I relapsed for weeks at a time, once even for months.

The whole thing seemed to me so monstrous, the accusations so boundless, that, tormented by the fear of doing injustice, I again became anxious and uncertain.
Yet I could no longer very well doubt that the objects of my study were not Germans of a special religion, but a people in themselves; for since I had begun to concern myself with this question and to take cognizance of the Jews, Vienna appeared to me in a different light than before. Wherever I went, I began to see Jews, and the more I saw, the more sharply they became distinguished in my eyes from the rest of humanity. Particularly the Inner City and the districts north of the Danube Canal swarmed with a people which even outwardly had lost all resemblance to Germans.

These "logical", "theoretical" books and "educated thinkers" were able to persuede Hitler to change his mind about the Jew. It is this same logical progression which has been used to convince "moderate" Muslims as well as anti-Israeli xenophobes to accept the overweening, hyperbolic, conspiratorial evinces of their leaders, media and intelligensia; accepting that anti-Zionism does not constitute "intolerance" of Jews. Hitler though, is not so recalcitrant as he willingly admits to his anti-Semitism encompassing the entire "race". Of course, he did not live in a world post holocaust when anti-Semitism must be couched in such away as to express it but avoid being labeled "intolerant" since it may well damage any credibility of that person in front of other Liberals who continue to evince such concepts as a facade to void being labeled "intolerant" as well, surely a death nell in modern "Liberal" society that includes, among other things, many "anti-Zionist" Jews. In which case it is currently expressed as "anti-Zionist" or "anti-neo-con" and is clearly anti-Semitic regardless of it's attempts to pretend otherwise.

Other language is clearly repetitive in it's ideas that Jews are "unclean" and the purveyors of every disgusting evil on humanity from prostitution to pornography to "white slavery" as well as being hygenically "unclean".

One would not be surprised at all to find entire speeches or sections of speeches and this book to have been plagiarised by modern "thinkers" in the Middle East. The only difference is that Hitler looked for justification in science and theory while Muslims seek justification in the writings of Mohammed.

There are other ideas, outside of "Zionism", which Hitler espouses that resonate within the modern European/American intelligensia and Middle Eastern theological prescience.

As I delved more deeply into the teachings of Marxism and thus in tranquil clarity submitted the deeds of the Jewish people to contemplation, Fate itself gave me its answer.

The Jewish doctrine of Marxism rejects the aristocratic principle of Nature and replaces the eternal privilege of power and strength by the mass of numbers and their dead weight. Thus it denies the value of personality in man, contests the significance of nationality and race, and thereby withdraws from humanity the premise of its existence and its culture. As a foundation of the universe, this doctrine would bring about the end of any order intellectually conceivable to man. And as, in this greatest of ail recognizable organisms, the result of an application of such a law could only be chaos, on earth it could only be destruction for the inhabitants of this planet.

If, with the help of his Marxist creed, the Jew is victorious over the other peoples of the world, his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity and this planet will, as it did thousands l of years ago, move through the ether devoid of men.
Eternal Nature inexorably avenges the infringement of her commands.

Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

This Is Wrong Part II

Call it the scarlet letter for drunken drivers.
A California lawmaker wants to force two-time offenders to attach red license plates with the letters DUI, for "driving under the influence," to their vehicles - a rolling advertisement of their crimes.

Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Murrieta, said he is proposing the plates, which would remain on offenders' vehicles for two years, to help tackle a disturbing rise in alcohol-related roadway deaths.

"This notifies the public, 'Here is a guy who may be dangerous,' " Haynes said. "It also alerts cops. If you see a car with a red plate in front of a bar at midnight, maybe it's someone you want to watch. Finally, it frankly does make people think twice about wanting to drive around drunk."
Haynes has put the proposal in a bill, AB 2099, which he expects will be discussed by the Assembly public safety committee in a few weeks.

The bill will be controversial. Early critics of Haynes' proposal complain of its potential cost, while privacy advocates fear unfair scrutiny and labeling of individuals.

But Haynes' effort highlights a sobering reality in California: After several decades of tough legislation and progress, California's efforts to reduce drunken driving fatalities have stalled.

One person already noted in this article, this is "well intentioned", but this is completely wrong. This is the "Scarlet Letter" of modern times. It's the "tincture of blood" and "double jeopardy" rolled into one. Completely against the constitution and any sense of freedom.

This is not sympathy for drunk drivers. I believe that drunk drivers need to receive stiffer punishments, particularly if they are involved in accidents that damage property, injure or kill other people.

In a real sense, this is government taking over the the concept of social stigmatism; that which was once the domain of the community to shame people into appropriate behavior, is now being taken over by government because the community has lost it's power through the loss of accepted social mores and the destruction of family.

When it becomes a legal manouver by the state, it becomes a matter of violating constitutional rights including privacy, double jeopardy, cruel and unusual punishment and possibly the "tincture of blood" since it would also unfairly stigmatize any family or friends. It also negates the concept of "innocent before proven guilty" assuming that any person that has been convicted of a crime is automatically guilty because of the probability or possibility of future crime.

Last, such behavior is the stepping stones of legal fascism. Once this is allowed, then each successive concept becomes more acceptable. What shall we do next? All felons should now have an "F" branded on their back, put on their license so the entire world can know they served time in prison? Maybe gays should where Pink Triangles and Jews a yellow Star of David?

The last may seem hyperbolic, but I believe that, once we invalidate the rights of any citizen, to say that any past behavior or possibility of future behavior, negates their rights.

For the record, I also disagree with public lists of "sexual predators". Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that sexual predators should be given light sentences, but that twisting the law to "protect" people is not the answer. If the crime is sufficient the punishment should be sufficient. If criminals are highly likely to be recidivists, then the outcome of the punishment must be considered and adjusted appropriately. Personally, the crime of sexual assault is hienous and often not punished appropriately. I believe that child molesters are some of the worst types of criminals, above and beyond drug pushers. I believe they should receive life sentences for the destruction of a child's life.

But, I don't believe in double jeopardy and I believe that, as we "select" people to receive this treatment, eventually, every person will be on an alert list or forced to wear a label so they can be "recognized" and treated "appropriately" by society.

California - Red tags of shame for DUI cases? -

Friday, March 24, 2006

History: Did You Know?

Hitler was recommended for the Iron Cross by a Jewish Officer during World War I?

One of the Army officers in command of Hitler during the war was a Jewish lieutenant who recommended young Corporal Hitler for the Iron Cross first class, a rarity for a common foot soldier. To his dying day, Hitler wore that Iron Cross, passing on all other Nazi decorations and paraphernalia with the exception of his gold Party membership pin.

Be Careful What You Ask For:

Nationalism, Isolationists and World Wars

Francis Fukyama warns people in Europe to be careful what they ask for because they might get it. Basically, he says what we all know: the world does not function without the US providing the strong arm of security and global trade and recent years have shown a greater proclivity for isolationist and nationalist behavior on our part. That's never been good for global economics (usually leads to depression economics) and, worse, every time we've done that in the last 100 years, some big, nasty, sadistic S.O.B usually starts trying to take over the world, kills millions of people and generally starts world wars. Europe forgets how often the big nasty started with them first.

Frankly, we all know what that big nasty will be and we know that Europe will again be number one on the list: Islamists. I just hope we never have to say, "I told you so" because it will likely be over the bodies of our men and women as we rush in to save them one more time. That is, after we sit around dithering about intervention circa 1939.

In this case, it's not just the US that is suffering from Isolationist and nationalist tendencies. Europe continues to see socialist protectionism in the job market drive down economics and productivity while driving up unemployment. To combat this problem, the French have decided to try new labor laws that permit people to be fired before two years have passed. Something that is completely unheard of in the US where most states have adopted laws that allow people to be fired or hired without reason, though we all know othe labor laws protect against discrimination and generally make the companies jump through hoops to document the "cause" regardless of the law. In Europe, that starts riots.

But that isn't the only issue that is promoting nationalism and isolation in Europe. Immigration is high and the unemployed (as well as the usual suspects in crime) largely come from this group. Not to mention the issue of terrorist cells and terrorist activities. This has seen the rise of many ultra nationalist groups. The isolationists have long existed in Europe, demanding tough trade laws and tariffs against American produce, beef and other products as well as insisting on remaining separate from other US activities such as Iraq as well as insisting on limiting their involvement in Afghanistan.

Historically, Europeans have been much more susceptible to ultra-nationalist tendencies. Particularly when long periods have passed between the last great European ultra-nationalist uprising. These groups have never needed large party membership to get their message across and become accepted by the general population. All they need is a weak economy, a little mayhem and a message that includes making the trains run on time, work for every man, soup in every bowl and "law and order". Then, voila, they get a few seats in parliament and it's down hill from there.

Another tell-tale sign that isolationism and nationalism are alive and well in Europe is the rejection of Turkey into the EU. Fears that more immigrants taking more jobs at cheaper wages or being jobless and sucking off the European, socialist, cradle to grave teat are what really fueled this rejection, regardless of insistance that Turkey does not meet EU standards for freedom and human rights. Turkey itself is suffering from a mild case of nationalism.

Where does it lead us?

This is the time, the place and the events that we should fear most. When the US becomes isolationist, world economy falters and brings on depressions, not just recession, in this country and around the globe. That's when some European decides they know how to run the world the right way and starts trying to do it. No European nation is in a position to do so. Yet, Germany required little time to build up its military. It would require little for any of the European nations to do the same. Despite insistence that they learned from history. In the US, we have learned little from our experiences with isolationism.

It may be that Islamist movements are what tips the scale whether that is Islamists inside Europe driving an independent, sub nationalism or whether the effect causes the creation of a "European" nationalist movement. It may be that Islamists are able to effectively control Middle East governments and finally develop the one ideology that brings Islamic nations together. Only this time it won't be the "Third Reich", but the "Third Caliphate". This may threaten Europe that finds itself weakened and unable to resist due to its self imposed pacifism.

There is an ugly possibility that history will repeat itself.

What will America do then? Will we have decided that adventures in the Middle East are too costly and withdraw to our own borders? Will we decide to stand outside and watch as Europe is swallowed by the next pillaging horde looking for "one world order"? Until we realize it won't stop with Europe? Have we ever been good at recognizing the possibility until we're so late to the battle we have to fight tooth and nail to prevent it?

Many would have it that Iraq is due to the strength and nationalism of the US, not a real necessity. A trumped up war for expansionist reasons. But, is it really? Is this just the "last" little war that leads to American withdrawl of military power and the eventual rise of one or more rivals with much less proclivity for freedom?

Will the European trains run on time after all?

Fukyama does not go far enough in his piece when he warns the Europeans to be careful what they wish for when it comes to American isolationist tendencies. For a man that wrote "the end of history" he does not remind them enough of that history. Maybe because, to do so, he'd have to refute the idea that "history" ended with the collapse of the Soviet Republic. I've never agreed with him on that subject. It never really ended. The same players exist. They want the same things. They've just changed their names. Communism and socialist nationalism still exist. A new fascist ideology exists.

History does not repeat itself, but we tend to make the same kinds of mistakes.

Speaking of Heroes...

It appears that Iraq War veteran, Tammy Duckworth has won the primaries to stand for a senatorial seat in congress for Illinois. Major Duckworth is running as a Democrat for a recently vacated seat in an area that has been held by Republicans for over 32 years. Her views on the war run with the party line. While I don't hold with her political views, here's wishing her good luck.

Duckworth lost both of her legs and had severe muscle and nerve damage to an arm two years ago when her helicopter was shot out of the air by an RPG. Her husband was also in the Illinois National Guard but was not called up.

Site of Sgt. York�s WWI heroics found? - Europe -

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Researchers say they believe they have found the site where Sgt. Alvin C. York single-handedly captured more than 100 German soldiers during World War I in one of the U.S. military’s most storied exploits.

The precise location of the fight, immortalized in a 1941 Oscar-winning film starring Gary Cooper, has long been disputed, but two researchers from York’s home state of Tennessee say they unearthed spent shell casings they believe to be from York’s rifle this month from a site near Chatel-Chehery, France.[snip]

York was part of an Oct. 8, 1918, surprise rear attack on a row of German machine gunners. When the sergeant in command was killed, York — then a corporal — used the raccoon-hunting skills he honed in the backwoods of Tennessee to pick off at least 20 gunners, shooting them when they raised their heads to aim.

A total of 132 German soldiers either surrendered or were captured. York, who marched the German POWs to the U.S. lines, was awarded the Medal of Honor and promoted to sergeant.

A team led by Tom Nolan, a geographer at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, reviewed York’s journal, French and German trench maps, and maps drawn by York’s commanding officer. Nolan and Birdwell superimposed that historical data onto a modern topographic map and downloaded it to a handheld Global Positioning System device.

Back when people knew what a hero was.

Site of Sgt. York�s WWI heroics found? - Europe -

This Is Wrong

Texas arresting drunks in bars - Peculiar Postings -

Is this a movie? The Minority Report?

This is government going too far:

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said on Wednesday.

The first sting operation was conducted recently in a Dallas suburb where agents infiltrated 36 bars and arrested 30 people for public intoxication, said the commission’s Carolyn Beck.

Being in a bar does not exempt one from the state laws against public drunkenness, Beck said.

Maybe it's the civil libertarian in me, but this is about as wrong as government can get. "Pre-emptive" arrests because someone might leave the bar and drive drunk.

People...laws protect your freedom or take it away. This is definitely taking it away. Now the question is, will some judge uphold these arrests? Will somebody challenge it all the way to the Supremes? Or, will Texans sit back and let the police state take over?

Stand by for a follow up.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Where Am I?

Several people have stopped by to ask if I'm okay and have been wondering where I've been since I haven't blogged in almost a month.

First, I was moving for several weeks; packing, throwing things away, cleaning, and finally moving my things to storage. The good thing about moving is that you find all the things that you haven't used or worn in ages that you either throw away or look at in amazement. I tossed alot of clothes to the salvation army and in the trash. I also found a number of items that I had been looking for or forgot that I had. I gave some things away to family and friends. It was a good clean sweep.

It took much longer than I expected because I was moving my mom's things as well. It a strange and bizarre twist, it took three times as many truck loads to move my mom's things from my house than it did mine even though I had furniture.

Second, being too tired to blog during that time and too depressed for various reasons, got me out of the habit of blogging. After two weeks of non-blogging, I just couldn't seem to get back in the swing of it.

Third, I was tired. I mean, tired of writing. It's a bizarre thing to say because I love to write. I loved the freedom blogging allowed to share my views with people, to clarify my own thoughts and express whatever angst, joy, fear, anger, etc I was feeling. But, I realized that I was not writing anything brilliant anymore, just linking to some stories and adding my voice to the thousands that were saying much of what I might have to say. Still, I didn't feel like new ideas or thoughts were forthcoming, but, instead, felt bogged down and unable to write anything new and interesting.

I think I was also tired of writing about the war and its ongoing blood and pain. I still support it, believe we are taking the general right actions and feel that it is a matter of time that we must allow for the outcome to be as expected. However, I was so deep into it that I started losing perspective which contributed to my difficulty in writing anything significant.

So I took an unplanned, unannounced sabatical and have probably lost a number of readers (if not all). I'm not sure if this message actually means anything or has anyone to read it.

I'm not sure if this means I'm back or not.

Looking at the news lately, it seems that the media is still waiting with bated breath for all out civil war to happen in Iraq. Of course, they've been announcing it since the 2005 Iraq elections. It seems as along as people kill each other in Iraq for various reasons, they will keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. The problem is the problem that the media has had for quite awhile: lack of accurate reporting and analytical ability.

There are still days when I wonder if we shouldn't have bombed the place back to the stone age, then there are others when I realize that it wasn't really necessary; it was already a bizarre land of extremes with stone age inhabitants (or, at least people who haven't changed their way of life significantly for a millenia) and people who were living in Stalinesque modernity.

I don't believe it was ever more troops that we needed, but, to change the current outcome, it would have required many more deaths of Iraqis from Berlin like bombing. Fortunately for us, we didn't have to do it ourselves. It appears that these folks are quite capable of killing each other without the presence of a brutal dictator. It's sad, really and I think that sadness just seemed too overwhelming for me for a few weeks. It's hard to believe that some people are willing to kill each other in the name of religion or whatever else they feel the need to kill each other over.

This same sense of despair must have been what overcame the anti-war people. They haven't changed a thing.

I think I was also sick of the partisan crap that continues on in the face of the war when it is obvious that our two choices were to sit back and take the hits on the chin, occasionally capturing terrorists or take the war to the enemy, whoever and wherever that might be. I'm still surprised that people don't get Iraq.

There are days, though, when I feel like we are like water against a stone. We know we are eroding the stone a little at a time, but it's often not visible to the naked eye. In this case, I believe we've made leaps and bounds on occasion while similarly looking at the stone and seeing no visible change. It's hard to accustom yourself to the thought that real change won't be seen for a decade or more. It wil inevitably change because of globalization. It can't be stopped anymore than a stone can stop itself from being shaped by the running water.

But, we're going to suffer the pangs of this change for years and that is something we are just not good at. Thus, our efforts will ebb and flow and the change will be longer than necessary. People will die. It's inevitable. But people will change.

So will we. That's inevitable, too.

That's where I'm at. I'm in the middle of changing my life. I think I'm on to the next phase so I may be back fairly soon.

Stay tuned.