Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When In Doubt: Blame the Yankees?

I've read about those Mexican mayors, blaming America for the abyssal mess Mexico's in.

Actually, they've got a point.

Sort of.

Please bear with me. There's been a lot of nonsense said and written about Mexico and Mexicans. I think a few things need clarification, about how I see the situation.

Mexico: Getting Past the Stereotypes

Mexico isn't a country filled with beautiful women, men with skin conditions and bad teeth, and the some guy sleeping under a sombrero.

It isn't a land marching forward in glorious revolution against superstition.

It isn't a breeding ground of foreigners who don't look like 'real' Americans.1

Mexico is a real country, one that's earned a place on the Committee to Protect Journalists's Impunity Index: and whose government may collapse. (June 17, 2010)

Mexico Matters

What happens in Mexico matters to the United States. We share a long border: and if Mexico's government dissolves into the sort of mess that Somalia is today, it's going to spill over into California, the American southwest, and points north and east. (August 28, 2010, June 17, 2010)

Oh, come now: could Mexico's government really collapse?

Yes. That's not just my opinion - assuming that somehow Mexico hasn't gotten a whole lot better at managing itself since 2008. (January 14, 2009) Looking at the attrition rate among Mexican mayors and law enforcement officials, I'd say things aren't getting a whole lot better.

Let's say that Mexico's federal government collapses. Regional and local government leaders would, most likely, learn to cooperate with whoever's got muscle nearby - or get killed. In that worst-case scenario, I think it would only be a matter of time before some criminal leader / warlord realized that there places to plunder north of the border.

Think of something like that Monterrey Holiday Inn raid in April, in a San Diego suburb. If you didn't read about it, don't feel bad. It wasn't exactly front-page news in the States. (April 24, 2010)

Not-Yet-Shot Mexican Mayors, Yankees, and a Complaint

When I ran into 'Mexican Mayors blame America' headlines I was ready to read more of the standard-issue stuff about Yankee Imperialists being to blame for whatever the local bosses had bungled recently: particularly since it's only days after Iran's President Ahmadinejad's rousing U.N. speech. (September 24, 2010)

Turns out, the Mexican mayors involved have a point:
"A coalition of Mexican mayors has asked the United States to stop deporting illegal immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes in the U.S. to Mexican border cities, saying the deportations are contributing to Mexican border violence.

The request was made at a recent San Diego conference in which the mayors of four Mexican border cities and one U.S. mayor, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, gathered to discuss cross-border issues....
I'm not going to copy the whole article - that's what the links are for. I suggest reading it, by the way.

One more excerpt:
"...Those convicted of crimes in the U.S. are required first to fulfill 'any sentence imposed by the U.S. courts,' ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice told

"She said all of the deportees are then inspected by Mexican immigration authorities when they arrive in Mexico, and if they are wanted for crimes in Mexico, they are also met by representatives from the Mexican Attorney General’s Office.

"But if they don't have charges pending against them in Mexico, they are free men and women once they cross the border regardless of what they have done in the U.S...."
Particularly since this is an election year in America, slogans about this situation are very likely going to be flung around like doo-doo in the primate house.

I'm going to be very glad when the seemingly-inevitable lawsuits following the election are over. Which I hope happens before the next national election. What a way to run a country. And that's another topic.

And My Solution is - - -

I'm in the happy position of not holding any public office. Since the country I live in allows its citizens to express themselves (somewhat) freely, I can spout off on what I'd do if I was in charge.


Or, maybe if I was sitting in the Oval Office, I'd have access to information that would change my mind. In any event, as I've written before, "it's different, when you're in charge." (September 17, 2009, July 3, 2009, July 1, 2009, February 21, 2009...September 27, 2007)

In this case, though, I think my 'what I'd do' notions are so vague that I wouldn't have to change them.

What the American judicial system and Mexican local authorities seem to have in common is the problem of what to do with people who want to hurt other people.
Remember: Evil is Not Nice
It's my opinion that the American judicial system is on a voyage of discovery, in which it will discover that it's okay to protect folks who want to be nice and pay the judge's salary - from the ones who don't. How long it'll take for that idea to soak through - and reverse decades of daft decisions - I have no idea.

I do think the notion that people who hurt other people are "'victims of society" has lost some of its luster. The acknowledgment of "victims' rights" 2 is an example of the change, in my opinion.

This does connect to the Mexican mayors' complaint.
Law, Human Rights, and Other Bothersome Necessities
The American judicial system has limitations on how long people can be locked away. Whether sentence length is reasonable or not is something well beyond the scope of this blog.

The point is that, at some point, most people who are locked up in America will be released. If they're in this county illegally, it doesn't make sense to release them within this country's borders.

Releasing them to the legal authorities in their country of origin, in my opinion, makes sense.

That's where it gets sticky.

Mexican authorities, apparently, can't lock someone up just because they feel like it. Which is just as well.

My opinion is that:
  • The American judicial system needs to continue reevaluating what should be done with dangerous individuals
  • Mexican authorities need to take a look at what they can legally do about the dangerous individuals who get released at their border
Simple? No. Easy? Certainly not. Something that's going to be resolved by November? Of course not.
"Bothersome Necessities?!"
In the previous subhead I called law and human rights "bothersome necessities." I think I'll stick with that: but the phrase needs explaining.

I'm a passionate man, and can sympathize with the 'kill them all' feeling when it comes to rapists, murderers, and crooked politicians. That doesn't mean that I think there should be an 'open season' policy on members of Congress.

America is coming out of an era when, in my opinion, the "rights of the accused" were expanded to a ridiculous degree. On the other hand, I'm rather glad that I live in a country where "innocent until proven guilty" is at least a theoretical principle for the judicial system. Particularly since I've yet to be on the same page as 'the establishment.' And that's yet another topic.

So, what about the Mexican Mayors and their 'it's the fault of the Yankees' complaint?

They've got a point.

I hope they're also putting pressure on their own regional and national leaders, to start regaining control of Mexico.

Related posts:In the news:
1One of the few things I'm not very concerned about is Arab terrorists passing themselves off as Mexicans and sneaking into America. I've discussed that before, too. (June 17, 2010)

2 'Victims' in this case being defined as the folks who were hurt by someone committing a criminal act. We've come a long way since my 'good old days.' And I don't ever want to go back.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New of the Blogroll: 100 Excellent Conservative Blogs...

100 Excellent Conservative Blogs You Should Be Reading (Masters in Education) is now on the Blogroll.

I think it's a pretty good resource. I should: This blog is #60 on the list, under "Specialty Topics."

(Thanks, Masters in Education!)

Friday, September 24, 2010

9/11 and the One-Size-Fits-All Explanation: 'It is the Fault of the Jews' - and the Yankees

As I've written before, blaming events of some conspiracy is quite popular. Tales of conspiracy sound cool, are full of drama and intrigue, provide a single explanation for just about everything, and allow folks to deflect blame on 'Them.

Who 'They' are varies:
  • The commies were popular among conspiracy buffs a little over a half-century ago, here in America
    • Remember McCarthyism?
  • Foreigners are a perennial favorite around the world
  • Yankee imperialism may be dropping in the charts - or not
  • And of course there's that old standby, the Jews
In some circles 'everybody knows' that the Jews are behind everything - and are running the Catholic Church. I am not making that up.

There doesn't have to be just one diabolical cabal of conspirators, of course: although I think that it's more aesthetically pleasing when there's a central conspiracy with minions. Iran's president combined two conventional bad guys in a rousing speech this week at the United Nations:
"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hit the replay button once again Thursday, delivering a dubious rewrite of history that led to yet another walkout by the U.S. and its allies at the U.N. General Assembly.

"The U.S. delegation at the U.N. General Assembly walked out on the Iranian president's highly anticipated address Thursday after he unleashed his oft-repeated belief that the U.S. used the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to justify a war on terror that is still being fought.

"He also claimed that most Americans and nations believe that the U.S. government 'orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grip on the Middle East in order to save the Zionist regime.'..."
I suppose Ahmadinejad knows his audience, and thinks implied Yankee imperialism and the Jews are a more plausible combination than, say:
  • The Illuminati and the Knights Templar
  • Freemasons and the Bilderberg Group
  • Any of the above and space-alien shape-shifting lizard people
Ahmadeinejad and the Ayatollahs (sounds like a rock group, doesn't it?) aren't the only ones to present conspiracy theories in pairs. Consider:
  • Big Oil and the Bush family
  • Obama and Islam
To true believers, of course, any of these conspiracy theories aren't theories at all: they're facts, and anybody who doesn't agree is either a dupe or a fellow traveler. Or a member of the conspiracy.

You can't argue with logic like that.

Me? I must be a dupe, a fellow traveler, or a member of Them: I don't take conspiracy theories all that seriously. Except as they affect the actions of policy makers and other leaders. Or, as in the Iranian president's case, are presented by leaders.

I don't think 9/11 was an inside job, that the Jews are running the Catholic Church, or that space aliens are targeting our nuclear bases.

Related posts:In the news:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11, 2001: Nine Years Later

By this time, nine years ago today, what was left of New York City's World Trade Center had been evacuated, a crater was all that was left of Flight 93, and the Pentagon had a hole in one wall.

Today, there's a new World Trade Center going up where the old one was, and one family has learned a little more about someone they lost:
"Nine years after 9/11, a photo provides some peace"
CNN (September 11, 2010)

"Judson Box has never known exactly how his son, Gary, died on September 11, 2001. But an unexpected find nine years later has given him a glimpse into his son's final hours.

"Gary, then 35, had been working as a firefighter in Brooklyn for roughly five years when the terrorists attacked. He did not speak to his father the day of the attack and his body was never recovered, leaving the circumstances of his death a mystery.

"On September 11, 2009, Gary's sister, Christine, was visiting the Tribute Center when an employee asked her if she was looking for someone specifically. She mentioned her brother Gary, and the employee showed her to a picture of a firefighter in the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel that had a caption bearing Gary's name.

"But it was not Gary. It was a photo of Brian Bilcher, another member of Gary's fire squad who also perished on 9/11...."
A photo of Gary Box did show up. CNN did a pretty good job of telling part of that family's story.

(Erik Troelson, via the National 9/11 Museum & CNN, used w/o permission)
"A Danish businessman took this photo of Gary Box as he rushed toward the attacks on the World Trade Center."

I wrote more about this ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attack in another blog. (September 11, 2010)

Related posts:More:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Actions have Consequences: Burning the Quran

An outfit calling itself the Dove World Outreach Center says it plans to burn a Quran on September 11 this year. They're marking the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 attack that killed thousands of folks in New York City and elsewhere.

They're also exercising their constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of expression - and demonstrating world-class foolishness, in my opinion.

Or, maybe not. That Quran-burning could be useful to reinforce loyalty in the group's followers, or as a marketing tool for merchandise.

It's also, in my opinion, a dangerous act. More importantly, the top U. S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan thinks it is.
"...'Images of the burning of a Koran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan -- and around the world -- to inflame public opinion and incite violence,' Gen. David Petraeus said. 'Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy and accomplishment of the mission would be made more difficult.'

"His comments followed a protest Monday by hundreds of Afghans over the plans by Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center -- a small, evangelical Christian church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy -- to burn copies of the Koran on church grounds to mark the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks...."
(FOXNews (September 7, 2010))

No, I Don't Feel Sorry for Terrorists

Given the screwball attitudes and beliefs floating around these days, I'd better clarify a few things. I'm quite sure that:
  • The 9/11 attacks
    • Really happened
    • Were committed by Islamic terrorists
    • Were not committed by
      • The CIA
      • The FBI
      • The Jews
      • The Illuminati
      • Shape-shifting space-alien lizard people
    • Were not justified
  • Islam
    • Is not a monolithic block of people with identical
      • Cultural standards
      • Sophistication
      • Background
      • Psychological stability
    • Muslims are
      • Individuals
      • Not all alike
I've used the leadership of Indonesia as an example of Muslims who - by and large - seem able to deal with a world in which not everybody is exactly like themselves. Other followers of Islam don't seem as willing to accept the idea that it's no longer considered polite to kill people you don't like. The latter are in for a long, hard period of adjustment, in my opinion.

'There Oughta be a Law:' Maybe

I'm pretty sure that burning a Quran - or a Bible - is legal in America. Freedom of expression, and all that.

Whether or not it should be legal may be discussed, after that bunch of (self?)-righteous folks in Florida go through with their Opernplatz reenactment. I'm not at all sure that defining some actions as 'thought crimes' is a good idea. I was doing time in American academia while political correctness was in flower, and am no great fan of "hate speech" legislation as a result: largely because too often "hate speech" was defined as any expression of an opinion that the establishment didn't like.

As I said, I'm pretty sure that burning a Quran - or a Bible - is legal in America. In some countries, like India, it's not legal to deliberately offend another person's religious sentiments. (A Catholic Citizen in America (February 22, 2010) As a member of a religious minority, that sort of law has a certain appeal. As a survivor of higher education, I'd be hesitant to endorse that sort of legislation.

'Incitement to Riot' isn't an Excuse to Riot

I think that the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida is ill-advised to consider burning a Quran. They'll probably enjoy short-term gains - at the risk of endangering the lives of other people.

I do not think that the Outreach Center's appallingly warped judgment is an excuse for others to lash out. Not because I don't think a Muslim should be angry about what is planned: but because I think that violence is not an appropriate response in this case.

A couple years ago a university professor trashed a page from the Bible, the Quran, and another book, shoved a nail through a consecrated host, posted a photo of the lot online and bragged about it. (August 5, 2008) I was angry about that. Doubly so, since as a Minnesota taxpayer I'm required to help pay his salary.

But violence was not an appropriate response to that act - and I don't think it would be to what that Outreach Center has planned, either.

Still, I think that what the "evangelical" group plans is wrong.

Related posts:In the news:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Burning the Quran? Better Than Burning a Muslim: Still - - -

America is, really, a very tolerant country. Which isn't to say that all Americans are tolerant. From yesterday's news:
"Thousands of Indonesian Muslims protest US church's plan to burn Koran on 9/11"
The Associated Press, via FOXNews (September 4, 2010)

"Thousands of Indonesian Muslims rallied outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta on Saturday to denounce an American church's plan to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by burning copies of the Koran.

"The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, said it will burn the Islamic holy book Wednesday, the ninth anniversary of the terror attacks. Local officials have denied a permit for the bonfire on the church's grounds, but the center - which made headlines last year by distributing T-shirts that said 'Islam is of the Devil' - insists it will go ahead with the plan...."
I don't think much of that church's (self?) righteous actions. Partly because I don't think that burning books is a good way of showing how decent and good one is: partly because I'm a member of another religious minority that some virulently virtuous folks say is 'of the Devil.' (A Catholic Citizen in America (March 5, 2010)

If that Florida church simply has more T-shirts to sell, or wants its members to reinforce their loyalty to the "Outreach Center," maybe that book burning makes sense.

If they're seriously interested in reaching out to folks who aren't just like themselves - that reenactment of the Opernplatz book-burning probably isn't the best move they could make.

Related posts:In the news:Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.

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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.