Friday, July 14, 2006

Welcome to Wartime

Leave it to the bitchy adolescents to send a calm neighborhood into complete chaos. Instead of going after the problem, they'll blame everything else and do whatever they can (re: want) to satisfy themselves. The victim this time: Beruit Raffik Harriri International Airport.

I have a friend of Lebanese origin who was recently visiting his family in Lebanon, in the city of Beruit. A thriving metropolis on the road to patching up after a dark period of civil war in the 1980's. The people of Lebanon are by and large a very peaceful people, with the exception of the militant faction Hezbollah, who control the southern part of the country, the border to israel. It was this militant group that started this whole mess, capturing two israeli soldiers and holding them hostage.

The Israelis fought back, launching precision attacks on key Hezbollah targets to neutralize the group... or so they claim. Actually, they knocked out all three runways at Lebanon's only commercial airport. At the time, The Lebanese flag carrier MEA (Middle Eastern Airlines) had several of their french owned aircraft sitting at the airport awaiting departure. They were able to evacuate their fleet to Cyprus by taking off on taxiways that parallel the runways, but that by itself is a very dangerous procedure. Once they got out, the Israelis decided not to allow any more of that, so they blew up the airports fuel tanks as well. Not being satisfied, they then launched attacks on bridges, and have now effectively closed Lebanon's borders. There's no going in, no going out. Let's be clear on two things:

1. Shutting out the Lebanese people is not a precision strike on the militants responsible for attacking their soldiers. It is a direct attack on the Lebanese people, a blatantly inhumane gesture, and the UN is...get this... looking the other way.

2. This is not a war of equals. Lebanese fighters are now sending rockets into towns on the north of israel, not only because they see it fit to kill civilians although some no doubt do, but because that is all they have to defend themselves from the Israeli onslaught. The Israelis have been, with generously liberal abandon, been recieving help from the U.S.

There is nothing justified about this conflict which could realistically spawn world war three, this is nothing but a macho attempt by Israel to upstage their neighbor. But should we expect anything different from adolescents?

Friday, June 30, 2006

The War on America

Last week the House of Representatives had a stirring debate: Are we at war with America or Al Quaeda? I think the answer is clear. From the very beginning, this war has been a failure. A failure of intelligence, a failure of policy, and a failure of leadership.

Cut and run, or stay the course?

These diatribes and slogans need to stop, and they need to stop right now. I'm looking at you, Republicans, it's coming squarely from your direction. You hold the majority of congress, and you're sitting with your thumbs shoved up your asses, not doing anything but coming up with berating slogans. It's high time that it ends.

Staying the course is all well and good, and quite frankly a smart thing to do, the only problem is, staying the course isn't a strategy, it isn't a plan, it's just an ideal. Problem is, to the people running the war, it's the plan as well. There clearly hasn't been any impetus for leaving Iraq, there hasn't been any formal plan laid out for establishing a permanent iraqi government (run by iraqi's), there hasn't been a plan laid out for getting american troops safely back to america. The fact that this wasn't done at the beginning of the war is the biggest failure of all.

Cut and run isn't a strategy either, and (I hope) nobody's proposing it as a strategy. An "Exit Strategy" isn't cutting and running, it's doing things right. In the middle of all this, the groop I feel is getting the biggest shafting of all is the troops on the ground in Iraq. They're the one's who have to deal with congress's failure day in and day out, and I think the fact that they believe so much in what they're doing is a true testament of their character. They're there to get the job done and get it done right. Unfortunately the people running the show haven't figured out those concepts yet.

What is our Congress thinking?

Video games? At a time like this? The general discontent with the way things are going hasn't been this high since the sixties, we're in the middle of a war, a bear economy fuelled by...fuel, and the rising prices thereof while the rich get richer (it's a good day to be an Exxon shareholder), and to do something about it, the House of Representatives decides to focus their attention on...VIDEO GAMES? Doesn't surprise me, they seem to bury their heads in the sand every time something important comes up, shifting their attention to lesser important matters so it looks like they're doing something (I'll never stop the 'roids...WHAT did you just say about my girlfriend?).

Why can't the Republican party do something republican for a change? The campaign against video games seems to be a bi-partisan one (shut up, Hillary), the whole thing is very un-republican, it has always been their ideal to keep the government out of the home but lately they've thrown it out the window. I think it's time for the reps to be republican again and stop this travesty from taking place. Seriously, what business does the government have to regulate video games? Whose fault is it if a kid acts out something he did in Vice City?

The government has no business here, if a child acts out something he did in a video game, the fault is clearly and only bad parenting. It is the parents responsibility to ensure the child knows right from wrong, not the government. Take me for example, I'm a Halo addict. Ahh I remember the nights in college hooking up to the network with 10 or 15 other kids across campus, and generally maiming them in every way imaginable until we all got tired. It was good times. Now, do you see me out on the street killing people? No. I don't even own a gun. I know the difference between pretend playful violence and real life violence. This whole thing is yet another reason why I favor parents who spank their kids.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Immigration Debate

Why is it that today, 40 years after the civil rights struggles of the 60s, we are still judging our fellow man based on the color of their skin or the language of their tongue? The first thing I want to comment on is the coming about of a spanish-spoken version of the national anthem of the United States. Why such condemnation? The fact is, there are many legal (yes that's right contrary to popular perception that every latino is an illegal) residents of the USA whose first language is spanish. Since they are legal, isn't it then their national anthem as well? After all, many of them are citizens and subject to the same laws and benefits of living in America, so why regulate what language they have to sing the anthem in? Historically speaking, core values aren't lost when the language changes, if that were the case then Christianity would have ceased as an organized religion long ago when the Bible was first translated away from Latin, and that clearly hasn't been the case.

Then we have the minutemen, a civilian vigilante group that patrols the borders apprehending illegal aleans. While I defend any persons right to live in the United States, it must be done so legally, those that try to gain entry illegally are really just trying to cut in line. Unfortunately, the claim the minutemen make is that they are protecting the country from terrorism. God I hate fear mongering. The reality is that very few people crossing the border are coming in with ill intentions. We all remember 9/11, every terrorist that was involved that day came into the country legally, so the argument that minutemen are protecting our borders from terrorism simply doesn't hold water. That being said, there is a debate as to whether or not INS is telling mexican officials where minutemen are located, a practice which is understandably angering certain minuteman groups. If this intelligence sharing is actually happening, then the minutemen have very good reason to be angry. The Mexican government came under fire some weeks back when it was found that they were publishing pamflets on how to get across the border safely into America. The government of Mexico isn't exactly known for its flying of the straight and narrow, they are historically ripe with corruption. It is concievable that the mexican government could be sharing information (including the location of minutemen) to migrant cartels, groups of people who are paid by migrants to get them across the border. The cartels are often ruthless and violent, and have been known to go to violent measures to get payment for their services. They're also known for their sub-human treatment of their clients, often cramming 100 or more people into semis, overloading them such that the people inside can suffocate, overheat, or die from other illness passed around in the cramp quarters. It can be assumed that if the cartels hold such practices and they know where minutemen are, the minutemen can be put at great risk. They have a right to be angry with the INS because the INS could have knowingly put the lives of american citizens at risk and the way I see it, that's wrong.

About the new immigration reforms being passed, I hear that one of the laws that is planned is to give work permits to illegal aliens who have jobs and are working within the states. I have no problem with that except that the illegals as I said above are in effect cutting in line for citizenship. As long as the work permits delay their citizenship to the point that they only recieve actual citizenship in due order not in front of those who chose the legal way, I think its a very good idea. Welcoming with open arms is what America is all about. "Give us your tired, your poor,..." Is the motto America is known for but it's a shame that many people today like to replace the line "...Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." With the line "then send them back." because, well, it makes us all look like a collective bunch of assholes, and trust me, America is not one giant buttock home to 300 million assholes.