Tuesday, June 22, 2010

President Obama, an Op-Ed Piece, and a Possible Historical Parallel

"Is U.S. Now On Slippery Slope To Tyranny?"
Thomas Sowell, Investors.com (Investor's Business Daily (IBD)) (June 21, 2010)

"When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.

"Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler's rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.

" 'Useful idiots' was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

"Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.

"In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

"The president's poll numbers are going down because increasing numbers of people disagree with particular policies of his, but the damage being done to the fundamental structure of this nation goes far beyond particular counterproductive policies.

"Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere...."
I've gotten the impression that it's considered gauche in some circles, to cite Chancellor Hitler's social programs and methods of persuasion. I'll grant that using "fascist!" as an epithet has given references to Nazi Germany the same tacky feel as crying "commie!"

That said, I think Thomas Sowell may have a point.

I am not "against" President Obama. I've discussed this before. (June 21, 2009) Some of his programs and policies, however, I cannot support. At all.

I think - and hope - that President Obama lacks the sort of drive and hate which led Chancellor Hitler to actively promote practical applications of eugenic principles and other 'advanced' policies which had been favorably discussed in the decades before WWII.

I also think that reading the rest of Mr. Sowell's op-ed piece is a good idea. He may be right. Either way, the next few years of America's history will probably be very interesting.

Related posts:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Neda Agha Soltan: One Year, No Arrests, Three Official Stories

Iran's Ayatollahs and their government stand firmly behind their explanation for Neda Agha Soltan's shooting death last year. She was definitely shot by:
  • The CIA
  • Terrorists
  • Folks who thought last year's election had odd results
And, since they're running Iran: what they say is so, is so. Officially.

Unofficially, a remarkable number of people in Iran still say the election was rigged: brave words, since criticizing the election results is the same as waging war against God. According to Ayatollah Khatami. (June 28, 2009)

From today's news:
"A year after Neda's death, Iran movement continues"
CNN(June 20, 2010)

"...Today, the Iranian regime's crackdown seems to have driven protesters off the streets. But the movement is not weakening, some analysts say. Instead, it's evolved into an online underground civil rights struggle, they say.

" 'I think they're going to continue to move forward, whether in the form of a green movement or another type of movement,' said Karim Sadjadpour, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 'It's just, basically, this march of history.'..."
As I wrote last year, quite a few of the people "waging war against God" in Iran are among the brightest and most educated young adults. That's one demographic that is not going to sit down and be quiet like good (by the Ayatollahs' standards) little Muslims.

I think Karim Sadjadpour has a point: in one sense, the Ayatollahs have already lost. They've managed to alienated a significant number of the Iranians who will - or would be - Iran's leaders in a few decades. Whoever they arrange to have elected next is unlikely to generate much support - particularly among Iranians who understand today's information technology, and know how to use it.

The Ayatollahs may last for years, maybe decades. They have the guns, the enforcers, and the incentive to kill anybody who doesn't agree with them. But it looks like they've lost the support of their subjects. At least, the ones who have what it takes to run Iran. Eventually, I think the Ayatollahs will run out of ammunition, enforcers: or Ayatollahs.

Related posts:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Yes, it Could be Worse: Venezuela, Interpol, and TV Station Owner

In today's news.

I am not making this up.
"Venezuela asks Interpol to arrest openly critical TV station's owner"
CNN (June 18, 2010)

"Venezuela has asked Interpol to arrest the owner of the only TV station still openly critical of leftist President Hugo Chavez, the government announced Friday.

"Guillermo Zuloaga, president of Globovision, is accused of illegally storing vehicles with the intent to sell them for a profit, the Venezuelan government said when it issued an arrest warrant last week. His son, also named Guillermo, also is wanted.

"Zuloaga and his son have said that he is being persecuted for political purposes and that the charges are trumped up...."
I remember the 'good old days,' when red-white-and-blue-blooded Americans expressed the wish that people who criticized the country either be jailed or 'go back where they came from.'

Today, another demographic has expressed similar desires. The cherished assumptions are different, the slogans aren't quite the same: but the old 'anybody who doesn't agree with me should be silenced' is still there.

Like the old saying goes, "be careful what you wish for."

Related posts:
A tip of the hat to CNN_Networks, on Twitter, for the heads-up on their article.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mexico, Losing America, Getting a Grip

Life was simpler when I was young.

No, that's not true. But in my 'good old days,' there were folks who lived in a fairly simple world. For some, the virtues of Mom, Apple Pie and America were threatened by commie plots. For others, the forward-looking peoples' revolution was thwarted by the military-industrial complex and Yankee imperialism.

That was then, this is now. Some folks haven't gotten the memo that the fifties and sixties are over; that disco's dead; and that Russia's leaders are digging their way out from under the wreckage of the worker's paradise.

For the most part, though, I think many - maybe most - people know what decade they're at. Which is a good start.

Mexico: Beyond the Sombrero and Rotten Teeth

Remember when Jennifer Wilbanks said she was kidnapped and sexually abused by a Mexican with rotten teeth? ("Runaway Bride's Tall Tawdry Tale," thesmokinggun.com) She wasn't: she had decided to join a fairly large group of Anglos who used a fictional Hispanic man as a fall guy.

It's true: some folks who are Hispanic also commit crimes. A teenage girl was raped not too many miles from here - and, as it happened, the man who was convicted was no Anglo. That conviction I'm inclined to believe, by the way, on the basis of evidence of testimony.

But let's get real: people with complexions as melanin-deficient as mine rape, steal, and murder, too. We're all human beings. Which is another topic.

Particularly considering a real problem that's brewing south of the American southwest, I think it's high time that Americans review what we think about Mexico.

Like any other place in the real world - it's a place in the real world. Mexico is not
  1. An exotic location for stories
    • Colorful
    • Sleepy
    • Populated by
      • Beautiful young women
      • Men with bad teeth
      • Some guy under a sombrero who's been sleeping against the same wall for years
  2. A glorious land of revolution
    • Against
      • Oppressors
      • Superstition
    • Striding forward into an enlightened tomorrow
  3. A breeding ground of foreigners who
    • Don't look like 'real Americans'
    • Are criminals
      • All of them
    • Sneak into America
      • To get welfare
      • And mow the lawn
        • For less money than 'real Americans' demand
Assumptions 1 and 2 are, I hope, less common these days. Number 3? That stereotype is still with us. ("St. Rose of Lima, Decisions, and Being Catholic," A Catholic Citizen in America (May 29, 2010)) Illegal immigration/undocumented aliens/whatever is a real issue - but I do not like the emotional baggage that some 'real Americans' bring to it.

Sadly, Mexico is a place that has earned a place on the Committee to Protect Journalists's Impunity Index - that select group of nations which are least likely to look into the death of a bothersome journalist, and reveal who is responsible.

It's also a nation which may not have a functioning government soon. Along with Pakistan, it's been cited as among the 'most likely to collapse.' (January 14, 2009)

The good news is that Mexico doesn't seem to be as badly off as Somalia. But then, few nations are.

At least, Mexico has a central government that says it's trying to control the drug lords. Which is a nice gesture, I think. And certainly makes more sense than denying that the drug wars exist - or are some kind of CIA plot.

And some of the violence in Mexico may be the result of Mexican governors and the Mexican national government getting around to making an effort to enforce their own laws.

The War on Terror? Yeah, It Connects

All of this may seem very off-topic for this blog. I don't think so.

I'm pretty sure that Mexican nationals could spot someone who'd been born in, say, Yemin or Saudi Arabia, and was trying to 'act Mexican.'

Just as someone in northern Minnesota would probably be able to spot the Frenchman who's trying to act just like the locals: you betcha. We're 2nd, 3rd, and up - generation Scandinavian Americans, with a mix of German and Irish. It's not the ethnic differences that'd give the Frenchman away: it's the dialect and customs.

But, getting back to Mexico - I think it's likely enough that Americans, particularly 'real Americans,' might very well not notice the Middle Eastern national who's claiming to be a Hispanic immigrant.

Ethnic profiling? I've discussed this before.
Radical Islam isn't the Only Threat
The potential real threat on America's Mexican border hasn't been Islamic and/or Middle Eastern terrorists trying to get across the border. We've had small-scale incidents of piracy on Falcon Lake, which runs along the Texas-Tamaulipas border. And a bit under five and a half square miles of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge has been off-limits to visitors since October 6, 2006. ("Media Advisory," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (June 6, 2010))

The reason was that the Mexican governments were either unwilling or unable to control illegal human trafficking and drug running along that section of the border - and American governments had decided that it was too much trouble to enforce our laws, on this side of the border.

I'm not happy about the situation on either side of the border.

Mexico's lawlessness, coupled with America's perhaps-reasonable unwillingness to control activity at the border, is as real a threat to the safety of American residents as crazed Muslims. (Not all Muslims are crazed - another topic.)

I rather hope that the folks who are making decisions for the official state and national units in Mexico decide that, on the whole, it's best to bring Mexico up to speed with those nations that enforce their own laws and don't let inconvenient reporters get killed. That would be nice.

I also hope that America's state and national leaders get it through their collective skulls that there's a real problem at the borders (Canada, too - that's another topic).
Reality Check?
I'm afraid a change of direction on the American side will take a serious reality check. The impression I have is that the current situation, where illegal immigrants/whatever provide a source for easily-fired, cheap labor, is just too comfortable for our leaders.

Some state and national leaders are decent folks, and in many cases are - not poor. I have no problem with people being wealthy. But when you've got an estate that requires a domestic staff for proper maintenance: The temptation to maintain a pool of unpeople who will work for a fraction what you'd have to pay an American resident must be extreme.

Enough with speculation.

Mexican Schools, American Wildlife Land

What got me started on this post? Two news article:
"Violence closes schools early in Mexican state, governor says"
CNN (June 16, 2010)

"Elementary and middle school classes in the Mexican state of Nayarit will end Friday, three weeks early, due to concerns over safety, the governor announced.

"Saying that Nayarit faces difficult days, Gov. Ney Gonzalez Sanchez also announced that his administration is taking over command of the state police, the official Notimex news agency reported.

"Gonzalez also denied on his Facebook page a media report that he has faced death threats...."
Apparently, Mexican media has reported that Governor Gonzalez said that he's certain he'll be assassinated and that he'll laugh at his killers from Heaven.

Governor Gonzalez says, on his Facebook account, that he's not threatened and that he doesn't make "bravura" statements.
"U.S. Parkland Bordering Mexico, Shut Since 2006, Remains Off-Limits As Violence Escalates"
FOXNews (June 17, 2010)

"Four years after federal officials quietly surrendered thousands of acres of America's border to Mexican drug gangs and illegals, there still are 'no plans to reopen' the taxpayer-owned national park lands.

"Roughly 3,500 acres of taxpayer-funded government land in Arizona have been closed to U.S. citizens since 2006 due to safety concerns fueled by drug and human smuggling along the Mexican border, according to a statement posted on the website for the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge...."
3,500 acres is a little over 5.4 square miles: not a huge tract of land.

Although I think I understand the park officials' reasons for closing that section of the wildlife refuge: I am also not happy that a swatch of American land is now off-limits to Americans.

I also think that it will be a very bad idea to effectively cede more territory to the criminal organizations which appear to be the practical rulers of parts of Mexico at this time.

Related posts:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Comment Moderation Goes Into Effect Now

This is the last of my blogs to have comment moderation.

I've got two reasons for using comment moderation:
  • Spam
    • These 'comments' are usually text in an east Asian language, followed by a string of periods, each a link to some more-or-less-scuzzy-sounding URL
    • Spam, English-language or otherwise, is not welcome here
  • Keeping track
    • I like to keep up with comments
    • My old system was time-consuming
    • Comment moderation, I've found, gives me a heads-up on new comments as I work
      • Making it easier and faster to check out the comments
If this sounds like I've sacrificed your satisfaction at seeing your comments appear within moments to my desire to keep track of what's happening in this blog - you could be right.

On the 'up' side, you can be more sure now, that I'll actually see your comment.

Why didn't I list 'censorship' among my reasons? Unless you count filtering out spam as censorship: that's not my intent.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Falcon Lake, Texas: Sometimes Terrorists aren't 'Terrorists'

If you say "terrorist" these days, many Americans might think of an Islamic fanatic. Sure enough, the folks in outfits like Al Qaeda and the Taliban are convinced that they're defending Islam against foreigners - and 'insufficiently Islamic' Muslims.

But not everybody who wants to indulge in wholesale destruction fits that mold.

From today's news:
"Agents feared Mexican drug cartel attack on border dam"
Houston Chronicle (June 2, 2010)

"An alleged plot by a Mexican drug cartel to blow up a dam along the Texas border - and unleash billions of gallons of water into a region with millions of civilians - sent American police, federal agents and disaster officials secretly scrambling last month to thwart such an attack, authorities confirmed Wednesday.

"Whether or not the cartel, which is known to have stolen bulk quantities of gunpowder and dynamite, could have taken down the 5-mile-long Falcon Dam may never be known since the attack never came to pass.

"It may have been derailed by a stepped-up presence by the Mexican military, which was acting in part on intelligence from the U.S. government, sources said.

"The warning, which swung officials into action, was based on what the federal government contends were 'serious and reliable sources' and prompted the Department of Homeland Security to sound the alarm to first responders along the South Texas-Mexico border.

"Mexico's Zeta cartel was planning to destroy the dam not to terrorize civilians, but to get back at its rival and former ally, the Gulf cartel, which controls smuggling routes from the reservoir to the Gulf of Mexico, said Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez, head of the Southwest Border Sheriff's Coalition, as did others familiar with the alleged plot.

"But in the process, massive amounts of agricultural land would stand to be flooded as well as significant parts of a region where about 4 million people live along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border...."
Good news: the dam is in one piece, and will probably stay that way. Those "allegeds" notwithstanding, I'm willing to assume that there really was a plan to destroy that dam - and that it was stopped.

I hope that the folks involved in law enforcement continue to look out for the rest of us - and that they're allowed to do so.

No rant about 'those foreigners.' For one thing, my ancestors were 'those foreigners,' not all that long ago. For another, I'm rather glad to be living in one of the nations on Earth that folks are trying to break into.

About the issue of undocumented immigrants / illegal aliens / whatever? I think there are problems to correct - but I also think that's it's silly to either assume that all people who are in America without the right government papers are:
  • Troublemakers
  • Victims of racist oppression
I also think it's a huge mistake to assume that maintaining the polite fiction that the Mexican national government is either capable of, or interested in, controlling its 'drug lords' is dangerous - for folks on both sides of the border.

Related posts:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gaza Humanitarian Raid: The Other Shoe Drops

This is why I try not to jump to conclusions.

Particularly when the hue and cry is 'and it is the fault of the Jews.'

From today's news:
"AP INTERVIEW: Turkish aid group had terror ties
The Associated Press (June 2, 2010)

"The Turkish Islamic charity behind a flotilla of aid ships that was raided by Israeli forces on its way to Gaza had ties to terrorism networks, including a 1999 al-Qaida plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport, France's former top anti-terrorism judge said Wednesday.

"The Istanbul-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, known by its Turkish acronym IHH, had "clear, long-standing ties to terrorism and Jihad," former investigating judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

"Bruguiere, who led the French judiciary's counterterrorism unit for nearly two decades before retiring in 2007, didn't indicate whether IHH now has terror ties, but said it did when he investigated it in the late 1990s.

" 'They were basically helping al-Qaida when (Osama) bin Laden started to want to target U.S. soil,' he said.

"Some members of an international terrorism cell known as the Fateh Kamel network then worked at the IHH, he said. Kamel, an Algerian-Canadian dual national, had ties to the nascent al-Qaida, Bruguiere said...."

'But They were On a Humanitarian Mission!

I don't think that Israel is always right. But I also don't think that saying something's 'humanitarian' makes it so.

I was appalled at the headlines, when it looked like big, bad Israel up and killed 10 nice humanitarian aide workers for no reason at all. I was also - a trifle cautious. 'The Jews' have been blamed for quite a few things over the generations. Sometimes a Jew really did do something bad. Sometimes, if someone is 'divisive' enough to start checking out the facts - we find a 'humanitarian' outfit with terrorist ties.

Folks who are convinced that The Jews poisoned the well, set sheep loose in the wheat, and blew up New York City's World Trade Center probably won't believe that AP article. The most likely explanation, for them, will be that it's part of a Jewish conspiracy.

Other folks may assume that the AP story is part of a plot by the lizard people.

Interesting news, though.

Related posts:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store


Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.