Thursday, July 28, 2005

Murder Is Not A Right

Abortion is murder. It is. It is the taking of another life. Whether that life is attached to you or not, it is a life. Period.

What is odd to me is that the American feminist movement has taken the wide spectrum of women's rights and callously reduced it to whether women should have the right to kill their unborn babies. Real issues that affect women across the board are the right to equal pay, legal protection against sexual harassment and equal standing in healthcare (why is Viagra covered, but not birth control?). But these issues have been eclipsed by the uproar over abortion. This is why I am not, and have never been, an American feminist.

I find it incredibly irritating to listen to the debates about Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court because they all boil down to whether he will uphold Roe v. Wade. Abortion, like gay marriage, is a great political issue because people find it very easy to pick a side. No thinking is required. Emotion guides the decision and the brain gets another day off. Dumb-dumbs across the political spectrum love to argue about black and white issues because their feeble brains are incapable of addressing real issues.

More important to me in the debate over Roberts is what side he will take in George WMD Bush v. Constitution of the U.S. This is a very important case, one that has been making its way through the legal system since 2001. The Constitution has held its own in a couple fights, but those WMD's, weapons of mass distraction, have really gained steam. Will the American right to due process survive the recently re-named "war on terror"? Is the NY random bag search the beginning of a slippery slope erasure of the concept of probable cause?

Murder is not a right and never has been. But the right of free speech, the right of free assembly, the right to counsel and the rights of due process are the foundations of America. Whether these rights survive the Bush Administration will guide America's future. These are the questions Roberts must answer.

"A true patriot does not confuse government with country.
A patriot’s loyalty is to his country, and loyalty to country
requires holding government accountable."
Paul Craig Roberts

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Definition of Terrorist

He bombed an airplane, killing 73 people, including an entire Olympic fencing team. He attempted to assassinate the leader of a country, but failed and killed an innocent bystander.
He is a fugitive who escaped from jail while awaiting trial for the bombing charges.
He fled to a neighboring country where he participated with rebels who terrorized civilians and attempted to overthrow a democratically-elected government.
He entered the United States this year without any problems using a fake passport. He was arrested after giving a press conference.
He is awaiting word from an immigration judge on his request for political asylum.
He is a terrorist.

At least, he is a terrorist according to the State Department's definition of terrorism, because his activities

(a) involve a violent act or an act dangerous to human life that is a violation of the criminal laws of the U.S.
(b) appear to be intended to (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping.
U.S. Code Congressional & Admin. News, 98th Congress, Second Session, 1984, Oct. 19, v. 2, par 3077, STAT. 2707 (1984).

Contrary to what you might think, however, the Department of Homeland Security has not charged this evil man with anything related to terrorism. The sole crime with which DHS has charged him is entering the U.S. without inspection.

Why? Because HE is Luis Posada Carilles and the many heinous crimes he committed were largely done during his years as a CIA operative. Mr. Carilles is a Cuban-born, Venezuelan national who has spent his life fanatically trying to kill Fidel Castro and to inflict as much harm as he can on Cuba, no matter who dies along the way. He bombed a Cuban airliner and killed the entire Cuban Olympic fencing team. In a failed attempt to murder Fidel Castro, he took the life of an Italian tourist in Havana. He was arrested in Venezuela, but managed to escape from jail and make his way to El Salvador and Honduras where he and John Negroponte spearheaded the death squads who massacred thousands of civilians. He followed several comrades-in-arms to the U.S. this year.

If the Department of Homeland Security's failure to charge Carilles with any real crime is any indication, it appears that the definition of terrorist is not steadfast. It appears to depend on the political ideology of the target. I suppose this isn't news though. Osama Bin Laden was a CIA favorite when his target was the Soviets.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What About Egypt?

Is it just me or are you completely amazed by the difference in coverage between the London bombings and the bombings in Egypt?

After the London bombings that killed 50 something people, we heard ad nauseum about each person who died, about cute websites with trite cliches that take the place of legitimate grief counseling, "we are not afraid" became the new Brit tagline and Americans responded in the only way they know how - raise the risk alert to scare the shit out of the population and then jump up and down for joy that someone else in the White world can share in the misery. If you're Fox News you yelled obscenities and then laughed about the investment opportunity the bombing provides for your corporate profiteering audience.

Over the weekend, several bombs ripped through one of the most beautiful places on earth, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in the Sinai Desert. The bombs destroyed a hotel, a market place, and, to date, have killed 88 people. There is no doubt the American media have covered it, but do we hear from the Egyptians whose lives have been irredeemably destroyed by the event? Nope. Do we hear from the survivors on their horrific experiences? Barely a peep. Is the human dimension important? Not really.

Instead, the bulk of American coverage has consisted of strained efforts to figure out how to claim that it was an attack against Israel because Israelis visit Sharm. Since the Israel angle does not fit very well, however, the story has lost its luster in the corporate media, even as rescuers continue to pull bodies from the rubble. A bombing in a Muslim country that could have actually targeted the MANY Muslims who work and vacation in Sharm doesn't fit well into the us v. them, Islam v. West baloney that is the theme of much of American news. Seeing a grieving Muslim mother who has lost a child as mothers in America and London have is bound to elicit sympathy and might lead a wayward American to think that Muslims are humans who share the same experiences and emotions.

If you want the human side of the Egypt bombings, you can read about the poor people who didn't make it home from work that day.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A City of Stupids

In case no one noticed, kids in America are getting dumber these days. And, in case no one knows, you can't maintain technological and economic superiority in the world when the next generation is even less promising than the current batch of dummies. If Los Angeles is anything like the rest of the nation, the obese, sugar and drug-addicted numbnuts currently wasting space in our schools are destined to promising lives as Wal-Mart greeters and cannon fodder in Iraq. We won't have engineers to design bombs or doctors to treat the five people who can afford healthcare, but at least Fox News will stand a chance of increasing its viewership.

Check out this report about Southern Califoria's schools.,LOS,ANGELES&cTimeFrame=S

This explains why 70 percent of graduate degrees in math and engineering from United States universities go to foreign nationals. Here's a Fortune magazine article on the problems this is creating.,15114,1081269,00.html

Pride and Repentance

I have heard from many a Republican that one reason they like Bush is that he is firm about his convictions; that he doesn't "flip flop" the way Kerry did.

Those people, then, must admire the likes of Hitler, Mao, Mussolini and Stalin because they too never flip-flopped. Regardless of what existed in reality, they persevered with their plans to rule the world because their ideology was the "right" one. No one can ever accuse Hitler of being unclear or unambiguous about what he hoped to accomplish. Nope. Mao did not mince words about his grand vision of remoulding China. Nope. Mad men are usually crystal clear about where they are going and what they are doing.

But, I digress. Today, I want to talk about repentance and the glowing pride of Republicans who say that their wonderful Emperor Bush is firm in his convictions and is not a flip-flopper. I want to talk about it because it is simply untrue. The war in Iraq was first justified because of Saddam Hussein's refusal to allow U.N. weapons inspectors into the country. Then the justification was because Mr. Hussein didn't let the inspectors into enough places. We then heard from Condi & Co. that Iraq was trying to buy enriched uranium from Niger in order to build a nuclear bomb. Remember all those warnings about a "mushroom cloud" over America? When that lie was revealed, the administration punished the truth-teller by exposing his wife's status as a CIA operative.

Never mind that Iraq had been destroyed after 10 years of economic sanctions. Never mind that Israel's bombing of Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981 was met with no military response from an already militarily impotent Iraq.

After exhausting the list of non-existent threats to America, the popular lie that has since stuck is that the war was necessary to rid Iraq of a murderous dictator and to spread "freedom" and "democracy" in the Semitic World. Sure, Saddam wasn't a nice guy, but that didn't stop the U.S. from arming him for over two decades. The Turks gas the Kurds with American-provided biological weapons worse than Saddam ever did, but that hasn't been a reason to bomb Turkey. And, there are other regimes that are far more deserving of an ass-kicking than Iraq (Read up on Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Burma and Sudan, to name a few).

Which brings me to the concept of repentance. In a nutshell, repentance is the act of saying "I screwed up and I am sorry." It is the genuine feeling of sorrow for having done something wrong and owning up to it. In religious terms, one cannot obtain god's forgiveness without repenting one's sins. Which makes sense. How can anyone forgive you if you are not sincerely sorry for a wrong you have done?

You would think that a devoted Christian would respect this concept and repent when he causes the deaths of 1,800 American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, when he creates a civil war in an otherwise semi-stable country, when he trades one former CIA-favorite dictator with a group of current CIA-favorite dictators (this isn't conspiracy theory - the administration is surprisingly candid about the CIA connection to Ahmed Chalabi and Iyad Alawi), when he takes the post-Clinton surplus and turns it into a staggering deficit that hurts America's economy, and when he lies to the American public time and time again.

Bush, the alleged Christian, has never once said "oops, I may have messed up somewhere." "Oops, I am sorry for the damage this has caused." Nope. He is unrepentant and continues to ask Americans to send their children into harm's way. Spare me the bullshit about bad intelligence. Repentance means saying sorry - not blaming others for your missteps. When you are caught in a lie you have two options - you can either tell a further lie to cover up the first or repent and apologize. The former is the path of evil and the latter is of a saved, godly person. The Karl Rove scandal illustrates which path the Bush administration prefers.

Pride, one of the so-called seven deadly sins, is fundamentally the belief in your own perfection. Bush and his people are so convinced of their messianic role as rulers of the world, that they cannot comprehend their own imperfections (even though their alleged Christianity would teach them that all people are sinners) or the necessity of apologizing for their lies. And the false pride of their followers of being on the winning team only emboldens them further. Proud people do not repent. Listen to the million and one excuses the proud invent as to why the U.S. is spending billions to "bring democracy" to Iraq, when they won't spend $10 to bring healthcare to America.

Even Clinton, the big sleaze, apologized to America for lying about Monica.

This post was inspired by a friend's comment about "giving points" to Howard Dean for calling out the Demoracts about their lack of convictions. While I am not a Democrat and do not particularly care much for their politics, the Republicans certainly do not provide a palatable alternative. Those who deserve "points" for their leadership are the men and women who had the guts to speak truth to power, to those who use their brains to see past the never-ending string of lies and cliches, and to those who are able to admit when they were wrong and say sorry. That is true leadership.

Proverbs 16:5
"The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished."

Proverbs 16:18
"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."

Proverbs 18:12
"Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor."

Friday, July 22, 2005

Pouring Oil Down The Toilet

I went to Albertsons the other day to buy one bottle of shampoo. Not a very big one either. The checker rang up my purchase and put the bottle into a plastic bag. "I don't need a bag, it's only one item", I responded. She looked at me like I was wierd as I walked out with the shampoo and receipt in my hand.

For lunch two days ago, I grabbed a sandwich from Subway. After completing my sandwich, they wrapped it in two layers - yes two - of waxish plastic paper and then put it in a plastic bag. "I don't need a bag for one item", I responded and I got the same wierd stare.

Yesterday at Best Buy, I bought a new camera (I was genius enough to break mine) and they offered me one of their really thick, durable plastic bags. Yes, you guessed it, I refused the bag and you see where I am going with this. Had I accepted the bags, I would have three plastic bags that may or may not be used as trash bags and that would more likely end up in a landfill at some point. Repeat this scenario in your own daily life and you will see how we, as Americans, are addicted to pouring oil down the toilet -- the oil that goes into our cars and the oil that is used to make plastic -- just because we can. We are so wasteful we don't even think about our unnecessary waste.

In Mongolia, Russia and many other countries, customers are charged for the plastic bags they use, which encourages people to use linen sacks for their shopping sprees. That, in turn, reduces the production of plastic and the disposal of non-biodegradable waste. Here in America, Whole Foods Market has a great program to reduce the amount of bags whereby they give you a credit for every bag you reuse. Having used the same paper bags at least a dozen times already makes me appreciate how many trees would have died if I got new bags at each shopping trip. Why isn't everyone doing the same?

A recent letter from the wife of a soldier who served in Iraq offered a new perspective on the issue, different from the usual "it's good for the environment" rationale. To the extent that you believe that American soldiers are "defending our "freedoms", the following excerpt from Monica Benderman's letter will make you think:
Sure, soldiers have given their lives to defend their country. Sure, there is honor in their belief that what they did was right, and there is hope that good will come out of it. DOES THE GOOD COME?? Seriously, think about it. Where are the results of our soldiers' good efforts?? What are Americans doing to earn the freedoms and rights that our soldiers fought to defend?


My husband DID NOT DEFEND HIS COUNTRY for people to have the right to abuse the system.
Feel FREE to go to any landfill and survey the waste – the plastic, the vinyl, the containers and bags – OIL – wasted OIL – at almost $60.00 a barrel – laying there tossed away because Americans are FREE to throw away what they get tired of, and replace it with new plastic, vinyl – wrapped in bags and packed in containers that used still more OIL to be produced. But – "it is their right," and this is the way the honor and the sacrifice of all of the veterans who have ever served this country to defend our freedoms are supported.
Visit any homeless shelter in this country, and look into the eyes of the people there [who are probably veterans], grateful for the food they are given, and the simple bed they have to sleep in. Then, look in someone's trash and see exactly what they didn't eat for dinner, what they didn't store for another day's leftover meals – WASTE – but "it is their right." They are FREE because soldiers have died defending their right to abuse the system. I don't think so.


He did not serve his country so that business managers could receive paychecks for 40-hour work weeks while spending half of the time they should be working, on the golf course.
He did not serve his country to defend their right to work as they pleased while the real WORKERS, the people who made the company strong enough to make a profit, were paid minimum wage with no health benefits, and "fire at will" policies.


Support our soldiers and our veterans, but not by placing one more yellow ribbon on a vehicle. Don't you know – it takes oil to produce the materials to produce those yellow ribbons?
PLEASE – support them by living according to the standards of humanity that justify your having those RIGHTS. In my book – there is no other way to "support our troops."

The full text can be found at

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and
the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the
name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"
Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Dying To Win

Athough the revaluation of the Chinese Yuan is big news today, I am saving that discussion for later. In the meantime, I ran across a review of a new book by Robert Pape, Dying To Win, that deals with the motivation of suicide bombers.

The author apparently analyzed all suicide attacks between 1980 and 2004 and reached the following conclusions:

Religious beliefs are less important than supposed. For instance, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a Marxist secular group, are the world's leader in suicide terrorism. The largest Islamic fundamentalist countries have not been responsible for any suicide terrorist attack. None have come from Iran or the Sudan. Until the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Iraq never had a suicide terrorist attack in all of its history. Between 1995 and 2004, the al-Qaeda years, two-thirds of all attacks came from countries where the U.S. had troops stationed. Iraq's suicide missions today are carried out by Iraqi Sunnis and Saudis. Recall, 15 of the 19 participants in the 9/11 attacks were Saudis.

The clincher is this: the strongest motivation, according to Pape, is not religion but rather a desire 'to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory the terrorists view as their homeland.'

Wow - you mean they don't hate us because we have "freedom"? You mean they don't throw away the instinct of self-preservation just because "we" get to vote in elections? Could it really be that people of the world don't like foreign troops occupying their country and bombing them? Shocking.

People in the Semitic world have been making this point for years, but finally someone in America has gotten the point. I would hope that this data would set the record straight about Bush's dishonesty about the war in Iraq and the so-called "war on terror", but I suppose that anyone who worships Bush enough to take what he says on faith would not respond well to logic and data to the contrary (I swear, you would think Bush is the second coming of Christ with how obediently the Christian community follows his sayings - he's not a prophet people).

The media and the administration will continue to lie to the public with the "jealousy" explanation for terrorism in order to justify a perpetual war that serves no other purpose than to enrich Northrop-Grumman, Halliburton and other big contributors to the Republican party. This book, along with the Karl Rove scandal, the lies about WMD's and the complete disaster in Iraq illustrate the naivete of the American public who believe a man with NO military experience and a solid C average in school (who, along with most Americans, probably learned nothing in history) as he leads the country into military disaster and moral bankruptcy. Bush accused Kerry of flip-flopping in the elections, but Bush's only real talent as a President has been making up new bullshit as his previous lies are unveiled.

Luke 16:10
"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Criminalizing Sin

With the nomination of John Roberts, Jr., the government is again misleading the public with cliche phrases such as "strictly interpreting the Constitution, not legislating from the bench." Although I know nothing about Roberts and have no opinion about the propriety of choosing him as a nominee to the high court, I am surprised that the President did not choose a woman and chose such an inexperienced judge when there are far more experienced jurists on the Circuit courts of the nation.

That said, the rhetoric of the Religious Wrong regarding abortion and gay rights illustrates that, contrary to its rhetoric, they are looking for someone who will legislate from the bench and will not follow the Constitution. Albeit, only if that jurist legislates in a way they like. For example, there is no dispute that the Constitution does not mention anything about gay marriage. It says nothing, in fact, about heterosexual marriage. The argument from the Wrong then goes that, because it is not mentioned, it is not allowed and should be banned nationwide. While this contention may be appealing upon first glance, a cursory review of the Constitution belies the argument.
Amendment IX

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Amendment X

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

Last I checked, the power of marriage was not delegated to the United States by the Constitution and, thus, it is reserved to the states to decide. Once the states decide to weigh in on the gay marriage issue, a jurist must then whether gay marriage is a privilege and whether the equal protection clause protects the right to marriage for everyone.
Amendment XIV

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The Constitution forbids discrimination among citizens with respect to privileges and equal protection of the laws, which presumably includes marriage. In order to deny gay marriage based upon Biblical mandate, one must venture outside the Constitution, thereby becoming a "judicial activist" who legislates from the bench. Without the Bible, there is no basis to deny that right.

What seems to be happening with GW and his posse of religious warlords is that they want to outlaw sin (although one person suggested that the fight against gay marriage is a manipulation of religious people to protect insurance companies from having to insure more people). They want to turn the American justice system on its head by banning anything that the Bible regards as sinful. What will be next? Will adultery become a crime like it is in Iran, although that would probably cast a net too wide for the comforts of most politicians. As GW and the Religious Wrong continue to pick and choose sins and arbitrarily terrorize and criminalize those who would otherwise be protected by the Constitution, the U.S. will become ever-closer to resembling Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Democracy consists of choosing your dictators after
they've told you what you think it is you want to hear.
Alan Corenk

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

More On The Myth

Even though Bob Novak is in a bit of hot water these days, he recently wrote a very interesting piece regarding the plight of Christians in the Holy Land.

Contrary to the misinformation and stereotypes about Arabs that the U.S. media like to spew with impunity, Christians are an important component of the Palestinian community. Yasser Arafat's wife is a Christian, Hanan Ashrawi and others in the upper echelons of the Palestinian Authority are Christian. Although many in the world rationalize what Israel does to the Palestinians as acceptable conduct vis-a-vis Muslims, they fail to realize that the Christian Palestinian community suffers as well.

Israel's consistent canned response to world Christiandom's complaints about treatment of Christians is to blame Muslims for it, but local Christians aren't buying it. Mother Agapia Stephanopoulos, administrator of the Orthodox School of Bethany in Jerusalem, recently told Congress that "Israel is destroying the local Christian community." Her protestations have grabbed the attention of Republican Representative Henry Hyde, who is trying to walk the tight rope of cow-towing to Israel, but maintaining his Christian integrity. Where is the Judeo-Christian heritage?

What is most remarkable to me about this issue is the silence of American corporate media on the subject. Watching CNN with my parents last weekend, a small group of religious fruit loops got coverage for their fervent denunciations of Harry Potter and their BBQ party at which guests threw Harry Potter books in the fire. Those people get coverage, but Christians from the Holy Land do not. Speaks volumes about what American corporations deem "newsworthy" and how uninformed the American public really is.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Myth Of The Judeo-Christian Heritage

A final examination question in my college "middle east" history class was whether Islam clashes with the Judeo-Christian heritage? Finding it to be a ridiculously stupid question, my answer focused on the myth of the Judeo-Christian heritage.

The Bible is replete with references to Jesus' betrayal by the Jews. Some Christians, to this day, still blame the Jews for Christ's death. The Inquisition in 1492 not only attacked Islam in Spain, but also set out to murder the Jews of the region. With their Muslim comrades, the Jews fled south for safety to Morocco (ever wonder how there are so many North African Jews - that's how). The Dreyfus case in France in the 1800's in which a Jew was accused of murder inspired the birth of Zionism and the realization among world Jewry that they could never be safe in Christian society. Russia, a bastion of Christianity since the 900's, has a notorious history for pogroms and the ghettoization of the Jewish community. And, of course, the story would not be complete without Adolf, who believed he was finishing off what his Christian predecessors in Europe were unable to accomplish. Where is the shared heritage?

Even though Christianity has spent the better part of the last 2,000 years trying to wipe the Jews off the planet (in contrast with the recent 60 years of Jewish-Muslim hostility), the argument goes that the Bible is the shared heritage. But, if that is the case, why don't Christians keep kosher? Why do they eat pork, when Jews do not? Circumcision? Depending on the Christian with whom you speak, the Old Testament has varying degrees of relevance to Christianity. It really is more a product of the "picking and choosing" principle than a wholesale acceptance of the Judaic forefather. The Old Testament is like the uncle whose wisdom is useful when you agree and outright ignored when you do not.

In the ever-absurd world of political correctness, recent attempts have been made to to call it the Judeo-Christian-Islamic heritage. This attempt has been rebuffed by no-brain Christians who have not studied history and know nothing about Islam. Jesus is a prophet of god in Islam, whose teachings are considered equally holy. The Quran refers to Christians and Jews as "Ahl al Kitab", i.e. People of the Book (those who believe in the one god).

Although I find this attempt to link heritages to be a futile waste of brain cells, it is remarkable to me that the important similarities between Christianity and Islam, and Judaism and Islam are ignored while the strife-ridden relationship between Christianity and Judaism is glossed over in the current "you're with us or against us" crusade against Islam. Since Jews don't believe in Christ, how do Christians share a heritage with a people who are destined to eternal damnation?

This whole thought process was sparked by a discussion with a Christian friend of mine. Concerned for my mother's salvation (my mother is terminally ill with cancer), she explained that good deeds do not get you into heaven, only acceptance of Christ can do that. With her religious insensitivity, the subtext is that since my mother is a Muslim, she's on the express bus to the fire no matter how kind and loving she may be.

I find it really difficult to believe that Mussolini, Stalin, Catholic pedophile priests and George Bush stand a better chance of getting into heaven than my mother. And if that's the line-up at the welcoming party, hell may be the more palatable option. Really, though, what does it mean to "accept" Christ? If acceptance means respecting Jesus as holy and believing in the validity of his teachings and acting in accordance therewith (because your actions speak louder than words), then there are many non-Christians who surely are equally eligible for heavenly consideration and many so-called Christians who are not.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Sensibility In The "Western" World

A friend of mine beat me to writing about the differences between the British response and American response to attacks on the "homeland." So, here's his blog post on the subject, which can also be found at

I've watched closely the reaction of the British people and the British government to last week's terror attacks, and I must say that I wish America would take a cue from its former colonial patron. The British people have responded to the terror attacks with both class and realism--understanding that the two are not mutually exclusive. Londoners continue to ride the "tube," and most seem to understand that the terror attacks were part of a broader conflict with the Arab world.

The English seem also to understand that terror is, for the most part, the result of a conflict between Western economic and military policies (particularly those of the United States), and Arab nationalism. British PM Tony Blair, whom I'm not particularly a fan of, has responded with dignity, stressing British resoluteness and tolerance. It seems the British understand that radical Islam cannot be defeated with bombs and mortar, but can be defeated with stiff law enforcement, sincere understanding and the presentation of different ideologies. Significantly, there have been no calls to invade Argentina, nor any other country unaffiliated with the attacks.

America, on the other hand, responded to 9/11 with blind rage. That's not to say that anger and rage were not justified, for they surely were. But America's response, the invasion of Iraq, its chest-thumping, its withdrawal from the international community, its spurning of long-time allies, the media complicity and the Patriot Act, demonstrate a short-sightedness that I've come to accept as part of the culture of this nation in the post-9/11 period.

It is said the God should bless America, and America alone; that God willed America to act around the world, and to determine the future of His earth. These views, while cloaked in the language of strength, display, in reality, weakness and fear. As anyone with any shred of wisdom knows, people that puff and try to be strong are, in reality, weak on the inside. (See, for example, Tupac)

I credit this difference between the US and the UK to one thing--the fact that Europeans, particularly the British, travel. They travel all over the world, experiencing different cultures and learning the issues from new, never-before-countenanced angles. Because America is such a vast nation, most Americans have never been outside of America's borders. According to several sources, only 21% of Americans have a passport. Therefore, because Americans are unfamiliar with other countries, they are easier to manipulate through fear and innuendo, as we saw in the run-up to the Iraq War. Throw in a media that is willing to make this a religious war between Christianity and Islam and you have a recipe for disaster that could change the course of the world.

In sum, America should take a clue from its most trusted ally, and learn how to understand terror with a greater, more in-depth world view.

A friend from London sent a link to a very funny article - British journalists are hilarious. Check it out.

Proverbs 16:32
"Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city."

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Did You Know

During the 1960's, the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara that the American military shoot innocent people on American streets, sink boats carrying refugees from Cuba and carry out terrorist attacks in Washington, Miami and other key locations and then blame it on Cuban agents. The intent of the plan, which they called Operation Northwoods, was to provide an excuse to invade Cuba.

McNamara fortunately had the good sense to pass on the proposal but it is nonetheless illustrative of the mindset of those who guide American military policy. Makes you wonder about all the "terrorism" going on these days.

Proverbs 11:14
"For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure."

Monday, July 11, 2005

Walking In Another Man's Shoes

Long overdue is interesting, thought-provoking television and Morgan Spurlock, the guy who brought us Super Size Me, has heeded the call. I applaud the Fox cable channel, FX, for taking on Spurlock's new documentary-style television show "30 Days". Reality television with human decency, Spurlock gets an American to volunteer to live in a VERY different, and challenging, setting for 30 days.

In the first episode, Morgan and his girlfriend lived on minimum wage for 30 days. I missed that one though and, if you have it recorded, please let me know. Luckily, a friend e-mailed her group about another episode, which I did get the chance to see. A White, Christian evangelical from West Virginia is sent to Dearborn, Michigan to live as a Muslim for 30 days. He went to the mosque, learned Arabic, learned to pray, etc. An imam at the mosque answered his questions. Of course, he did not convert, but it was really neat to see an otherwise rigidly closed mind slowly open to something new over 30 days.

Last night, I caught the re-run of last week's episode in which a White, Christian former Army guy from Michigan is sent to live in the Castro district of San Francisco (Ed, the gay roommate, calls the Castro the gayest neighborhood in the world). Feeling outnumbered, Ryan made friends early, telling people he thought they were sinners, that they should not be allowed in the military, etc. The usual stuff. For the next 30 days, he attended a gay church, got a job at a specialty foods store and learned all there is to know about wine and cheese and played on the gay team in a softball league. I won't give away all the details of the show, but sufficed to say, he admittedly went home a far more loving and tolerant person than when he got there.

This Wednesday, two city folk will be sent to live without the comforts of home. Here's the description of that episode

Two 30-year-old professionals who are friends and typical Americans—i.e., ravenous consumers of fossil fuels such as gas and electricity—go ‘back to the future’ and learn to live without the natural resources that will be depleted from our earth in the not-too-distant future. To do this they’ll uproot themselves and move to an ‘eco village’ in Missouri to live 100% OFF THE GRID. As they set up house in a former 3,000 bushel grain bin, they will sustain themselves on a clean power such as solar and wind, recycle all their waste (both food and human), live in a car-free culture, grow and eat only organic foods and conserve their water use with solar showers and rain-catch systems. Can these fossil fuel addicts wean themselves from their consumptive habits without their lives falling apart? Will they thrive in a community that is the total opposite their New Jersey neighborhood? And will the ecological solutions they learn stick once their Thirty Days are up?
Spurlock and FX should be thanked for making television human again. With all the crap that is produced and clogs the airwaves, 30 Days is an oasis of intelligence and humanity. It makes true the old addage that you cannot judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.

(In L.A., it's on Wednesday night at 10:00 p.m.)§=photos&pg_pics=3

Friday, July 08, 2005

Fox News Freaks

Speaking to host Shepard Smith, Brit Hume, one of Fox News' lead talking heads, had this response to the London Terror Attacks:

My first thought when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, hmm, it's a good time to buy. Others may have thought that as well.

He sees death and despair in London as an investment opportunity, but swears up and down that Iraq is not about oil. Sick freaks! These are the people many Americans look to for their news and opinions about the world. It explains so much.

Proverbs 17:5
"He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

What Would Jesus Drive?

As you can see, I am in a religious mood these days. I started reading the Bible again for the umpteenth time, hoping it won't be as convoluted and incomprehensible this round. The only conclusion I have managed to reach so far is that anyone who claims to understand what everything in the good book says is a liar. Period. Full stop.

According to the BBC today, the evangelical Christian movement has weighed in on environmental politics and are actually starting to think that it is not Christian to destroy the earth with toxic waste. Go figure. Some evangelical must have drank some bad water out of his tap and is now outraged that pollution is now in his backyard.

You have got to read this article. My favorite quote from the piece is a statement from Focus On The Family -- a bunch of religious fundamentalists who want to make the U.S. a Christian version of Iran -- that it cannot support "any issue that seems to put plants and animals above humans". They really are dumber than I thought.

Back to Luke.