Saturday, June 28, 2008

Truth in Media

I've long held the belief that most media outlets are about as trustworthy as the guy that runs the shell game at the carnival. Most news channels, papers, websites, etc, spin stories the way they'd like the "facts" to appear.

Ever marvel at the various articles that use creative headlines to grab your attention, or instill an opinion? Here's one for you: "Boy Decapitated by Batman Ride at Georgia Six Flags." That headline would lead me to believe that the ride itself is inherently dangerous, and some horrible accident befell a passenger...not so. Turns out that the teenager hopped a couple of fences and was subsequently struck by the ride. Get it yet?

That's just the latest drivel coming from the AP. I wonder if they "reutered" some pictures for the story...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Southern Symbols

Which flag do you look at and think, "U. S. Civil War?" I believe most would say the the one on the left. My partner, Lewis, claims that it is not a symbol of the Civil War.

The flag on the right was the actual Confederate Flag. So if the "Rebel Flag" that we easily recognize is not even the Confederate Flag, why all the fuss?

Could it be in the manner that it is displayed? I suppose that if I saw the paint scheme of the General Lee displayed as a prom dress, I might object.

. . . but if that same symbol of southern rebellion was presented in a more tasteful way, I would nod in approval.

The popular argument is that the Rebel Flag is associated with the Civil War, so it symbolizes (maybe even glorifies) slavery. A weak argument.

I do, however have to argue with my partner's claim that the slavery was not the main issue of the Civil War. Spin it anyway you want. Economics? The Southern economy was reliant on the cotton trade, made possible by slave labor. State's rights? The South was arguing for their right to continue the practice of slavery.

So, what was my point? Sorry, I've been in Iraq for a little while now. Maybe I should stop downloading bikini photos.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Illegal Immigration-- Charlie Daniels Style

The below piece was written by Charlie Daniels in April of 2006, amidst the demonstrations perpetrated by illegal immigrants, and those that support them. There are a couple of aspects of this article that are pretty pathetic. Number one: He's right. Number two: Not a damned thing has changed since he wrote it. The original can be found here.

Charlie Daniels is not "politically correct," and he never sugar-coats things. If this rubs you the wrong way, perhaps you should reevaluate your personal definition of "illegal."

Mexican Standoff 04/03/06

I don’t know how everybody else feels about it, but to me, I think Hispanic people in this country, legally or illegally, made a huge public relations mistake with their recent demonstrations.

I don’t blame anybody in the world for wanting to come to the United States of America, as it is a truly wonderful place. But when the first thing you do when you set foot on American soil is illegal, it is flat out wrong and I don’t care how many lala land left-heads come out of the woodwork and start trying to give me sensitivity lessons.

I don’t need sensitivity lessons. In fact, I don’t have anything against Mexicans. I just have something against criminals, and anybody who comes into this country illegally is a criminal, and if you don’t believe it try coming into America from a foreign country without a passport and see how far you get.

What disturbs me about the demonstrations is that it’s tantamount to saying, “I am going to come into your country even if it means breaking your laws and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

It’s an “in your face” action and speaking just for me, I don’t like it one little bit, and if there were a half dozen pairs of gonads in Washington bigger than English peas it wouldn’t be happening.

Where are you, you bunch of lilly livered, pantywaist, forked tongued, sorry excuses for defenders of The Constitution? Have you been drinking the water out of the Potomac again?

And even if you pass a bill on immigration it will probably be so pork laden and watered down that it won’t mean anything anyway. Besides, what good is another law going to do when you won’t enforce the ones on the books now?

And what ever happened to the polls guys? I thought you folks were the quintessential finger wetters. Well you sure ain’t paying any attention to the polls this time because somewhere around eighty percent of Americans want something done about this mess, and mess it is and getting bigger everyday.

This is no longer a problem, it is a dilemma and headed for being a tragedy. Do you honestly think that what happened in France with the Muslims can’t happen here when the businesses who hire these people finally run out of jobs and a few million disillusioned Hispanics take to the streets?

If you, Mr. President, Congressmen and Senators, knuckle under on this and refuse to do something meaningful it means that you care nothing for the kind of country your children and grandchildren will inherit.

But I guess that doesn’t matter as long as you get re-elected.

-Charlie Daniels

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Flag Burning Emotivism

I debated whether or not to post this, but eventually decided that I'd rather catch a bit of hate mail from the perpetually offended crowd than bite my tongue.

A recent flap in Redding, California over flag burning caused me to ponder the entire significance of flags. Are they sacred? Do they hold some special powers?

A high school principal, who had been debating the disbanding of his school's newspaper, decided to go ahead and do just that after the student editorial staff placed a picture of a burning American flag on page one. Perhaps that was the straw that broke the camel's back. He immediately caught tremendous flak over his stifling of free speech (see the story here). Flags are inanimate objects, and they are nothing special, right?

Since flags, and their destruction, display, etc, are considered free expression that should not be infringed upon, why is there so much uproar over the confederate flag? Many folks in the south still enjoy flying that flag, as it represents (to them) their southern heritage and culture. To a few others, it is "offensive," and even "oppressive." I thought flags were powerless pieces of cloth; is that not the case?

Is there a double standard here? Perish the thought! I'm not from the south, but in my readings and such, I've not come across any credible evidence that the confederate flag was designed and incorporated in order to support or represent slavery. While slavery may have been one of the issues of the Civil War, did every soldier that fought for the Confederacy promote or support slavery?  Hard to say, but to most folks in the South, the battle flag represents the South, period.

While it might be trendy, and even monetarily beneficial (see: Al Sharpton), to claim "victim status," by screaming racism at the drop of a hat, it's certainly getting boring as hell. This whole mess over the confederate flag is over-inflated, and needs to be put to rest. It is indeed only a piece of cloth that represents a certain region of our country, and it's culture. It does not stand for slavery, no matter how much those that blame skin color for their woes would like it to.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stranger in a Strange Land

The cultural differences between Middle Eastern and American society go far beyond religion. It is quite obvious that Islamic beliefs and Christian fundamentals are major factors in our current global conflict. However, I would argue that there is much more involved in why we are struggling to find peace with the Arab world.

The Arabic language is full of rhetoric and repetition. Americans are direct, to the point. We say what we mean and we generally mean what we say. We use a good bit of slang and jargon, but the point is usually made once during communication. Arabic literature and speech, and speech and literature are filled with excessive, repetitive, redundant statements and over explained ideas. Extremes in emotional expression and length of dialog are common in the languages of the Middle East.

The concept of productivity and the importance of time management are completely alien to the Iraqi citizen. The Arabic phrase, In Shallah (As God wills it) is the common answer to most requests involving a deadline. It’s the equivalent of saying, “Maybe,” or, “If I feel like it.”

Ask any American serviceman who has been deployed to Kuwait or Iraq and they can probably provide you with a story or two of bizarre cultural behavior. The list is long, but I mention these few examples because I only recently realized them through my experience working with Iraqi's.

A recommended reading list from U. S. Central Command includes the book, “The Arab Mind,” by Raphael Patai. In it, he gives a literary example of how the Middle Eastern culture views their fellow man.

“I and my brother against my cousins, I and my cousins against the world.”

Can we create a treaty or security agreements between such polar opposite nations? Should we have to compromise against a country we defeated? What do you think when you see Army Commanders kissing a Koran as an apology for a soldier who was just trying to BZO his weapon?

Is our strategy in Iraq creating a safer America or are we just making a futile effort to change a culture that has been around longer than any other civilization in the world?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Gun Control Shocker

An article in The Baltimore Sun has stated the obvious: Gun control does not prevent violence. I quote:
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study in 2003 admitting that there are no scientific data to prove gun-control laws are effective in preventing violence.

The National Academy of Science agreed a year later in its analysis titled "Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review"

What a shock! Apparently, those evil and scary guns aren't really to blame. It would seem that violent people are actually the problem. That's quite a radical concept (for some).


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Texas Absurdity

It never fails to amaze me that large groups of people will actually subscribe to certain forms of nonsense. What's even more astounding, is that these people will readily reach into their pockets, and pull out whichever "victim card" is most handy at the moment. I'm speaking, of course, about Democrats. Nobody is ever to blame for their own actions; it's always the fault of the oppressive Republicans!

In The Dallas Morning News, there's an interesting article about the outcry of Democrats over an upcoming voter ID bill in the state legislature. The Democrats claim that it will "discriminate against" certain potential victim groups that may be less likely to carry identification with them. I'm not sure who, exactly, is less likely to go conduct official business of some kind without carrying any form of photo ID, but that's their own foolishness.

Republicans in the Texas legislature have argued that the bill will help prevent voter fraud, and stem the tide of illegal immigrants voting in that state's elections. Democrats seem to think that it's their solemn duty to protect the forgetful folks from their own foolishness, however, and are painting the bill as mean spirited and discriminatory. What a hoot!

While Democrats' determination to portray anyone and everyone as a potential victim is impressive, it's still amazing that some people actually believe such nonsense. Granted, most politicians are about as trustworthy as the guy running the carnival shell game, but some seem to stand out more than others.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Interesting Quotation

In light of the Democratic choices for the 2008 presidential elections, I thought I'd post a quotation. Since both candidates are openly against the components that are mentioned, I thought it was an appropriate quote. Sleep tight!

"America, is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within." ... Joseph Stalin