Monthly Archives: October 2008

Am I a crypto-Muslim-Socialist-radical?

Riffing off of Stuart Stevens, I too need to confess my life as a threat to the American way too.  Please consider:

  1. While I began my schooling in a christian setting, I left in the middle of the first grade to attend a godless public school.  “And we all know what that means. As a Muslim, I would have had no conflict attending these non-denominational schools.”
  2. At the age of 18, I left this country to begin a long career with a militant organization.  I undertook 2 years of military training in Germany.  The same country that many of the 9/11 hijackers lived in prior to coming to America!
  3. I visited two communist countries during my time there.  East Germany and Hungary.  Both countries had a record of supporting terrorist organizations!
  4. Shortly after 9/11, I went to Afghanistan and lived there for almost a year.  During that time I trained with Muslim military forces and tried to improve the lives of Afghans.  The same country that supported and aided Osama bin Laden!
  5. I have, on multiple occasions, patronized Muslim businesses.  Most often to fuel my vehicle (thereby funding all sorts of radical Muslim governments) but also to buy food.  I am not able to provide proof that these Muslims did not have radical political thoughts and yet I continue to support them!
  6. I currently have several albums on my mp3 player that contain Arabic music.  I am not able to prove that the artists are pro-American or that these songs don’t have subversive hidden messages!!! I claim this is because I don’t speak arabic but wouldn’t any ‘real’ American take the time to learn what is on his portable music device?
  7. I refuse to eat pork or take illegal drugs, just like the followers of radical Islam!!!
  8. I have knowingly contributed a portion of my earnings to socialist programs for over 20 years.  These programs have been involved in ‘spreading the wealth’ for all sorts of social parasites who contribute nothing to our society.  These programs (known as Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare) fund millions of ne’er-do-wells known commonly as ‘senior citizens’.
  9. I have traveled to several well known Socialist countries, including Sweden and Finland and reportedly enjoyed myself in those havens of godlessness and oppression.
  10. I spent three years in a radical center of elitist, anti-American education (Rutgers University).  While there I took a number of anti-American university courses (wait…aren’t anti-American and university redundant terms?).
  11. I had been to New York City and the Pentagon prior to the 9/11 attacks.  I can not prove that I was not conducting surveillance of the attack sites.
  12. I refuse to eat beef…unlike all true Americans.

Clearly, these can’t all be ‘coincidences’ or written off as harmless.  Would you trust someone with such dangerous and risky traits?

Can America take the risk?

Can you?

Ok, readers…now’s your chance to get all mavericky and interactive here.  Feel free to post bogus, circumstantial evidence ‘proving’ you’re a threat to the very fabric of democracy.  Go ahead, give it your best shot.

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Whoa…glad I wasn’t a kid back then

I’m sure kids today think it must have been terrible to be a kid when I was young and all we had in terms of video games was Pong and Space Invaders but this must have really been terrible.

Axl’s back

Hmmm….I can’t decide if I’m excited about the fact that Guns and Roses (well…Axl Rose anyway) is finally putting out a new album.  I mean, its only been 17 years since his last.  After that long of a hiatus it better be like heroin for my ears.

I remember when Guns and Roses came out with Appetite for Destruction in 1987 (yes, we had music way back then) and the reaction in the barracks among the head bangers was that this was something really special.  I vaguely remember some youthful exuberance even stating that perhaps they would be our generation’s Rolling Stones.

And then they all crapped out.  Appetite feels a little dated now and I wonder if it’s because it has the feeling more of a one hit wonder now rather than a beginning of a wide and maturing catalog by a bunch of skilled musicians.

Still, I’ll check it out…even if it’s just for old times sake.

To talk or not to talk…that is the question

There’s been a rash of stories lately that have been argueing that the best policy for the U.S. in Afghanistan is to enter into negotiations with the Taliban. The current administration, as well as both candidates, seem to support such an idea but there are a number of people who question its potential value.

I have to admit this whole problem feels pretty complex and I have no idea of how to solve it but I see some of the obstacles as:

  • multiple adversaries (the Taliban isn’t a monolithic entity and not the only anti-coalition force out there)
  • weak central government
  • history of opportunistic behavior among power holders in the country. Remember, many members of the ‘Northern Alliance’ after our war with the Taliban began were Taliban members themselves at one point. Our big wallet and the writing on the wall convinced them to switch sides. There’s no reason to think they wouldn’t do so again if it looked good for them.
  • increasing perception that Western powers want to get the hell out of Afghanistan or that it’s ‘unwinnable’

I haven’t thought this through, but maybe the idea we’ve been pursuing of one Afghanistan with a strong central government isn’t a good way to go. It seems to me that the only way you’re going to achieve any stability in that country is finding a way to balance the competing interest groups, many of which have their own militias and territory. Emphasizing a central government doesn’t seem to have much history of success in Afghanistan and, while familiar and convienient for us just doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere.

Would it be impossible to break Afghanistan into several city-states? You’ve got Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat which you could begin with. Let’s face it, the country is so far behind the rest of the world it doesn’t seem realistic trying to teleport it into the 21st century all in one go and make it a modern player on the world stage. Wouldn’t it be progress if we could get the Afghanistan to engage with itself and maybe it’s neighbors on a larger scale than it currently does? We don’t have a free flow of goods and services within the current borders of Afghanistan so perhaps its jumping the gun a bit trying to create a central government which can interface with the broad international community. I’m wondering since Afghanistan society seems to be one with at least one foot still stuck in the distant past, perhaps 20th/21st century democracy isn’t a good fit. That doesn’t mean we need to leave it with some tin pot dictatorship. Certainly there are governments in the worlds past that worked in cultures similar to that in Afghanistan now but put that society on the road to democracy? I’m thinking ancient greece or perhaps medeival Europe but I’m no anthropologist.

Certainly a fragmented Afghanistan (either in a federal system or broken up into smaller, autonomous political units) would make our job much more complex in the short term but it might allow us to specialize regionally, both in terms of reconstruction/security missions and political progress.

This whole post is kind of a stream of consciousness thing and I haven’t thought through any of it so forgive me if I’m way out in la-la land here. Hmmmm…better put this into the que for more thought.

White supremacists get serious?

Yesterday afternoon I heard reports that some white supremacists were arrested by the ATF in a plot to Kill Barack Obama and a bunch of school kids. I have to admit, even though the information was sketchy I was surprised. After all, the white supremacist movement in the U.S. has not demonstrated an ability to plan or organize its way out of a paper bag for quite some time now and something as ambitious as assassinating a presidential candidate and trying to pull off a mass homicide seemed to indicate some real chutzpah (if I may use that phrase in this context).

Well, now I can rest easy knowing that these jerks remain the same idiots I’ve come to hold beneath contempt. It appears the plot was formulated by two losers who seemed to derive all their tactical planning from playing video games and watching ‘B’ action movies in between downloading pictures of Sarah Michelle Geller in their parents basement (bonus points to those of you who can identify the ‘Weird’ Al Yankovich reference).

We Americans do a lot of things better than the rest of the world. Fortunately, making terrorists isn’t one of them.

Forget 9-1-1, the TSA is a joke…

Every month I see a new reason why I love the Atlantic Monthly. This month’s issue is jam packed with wholesome goodness and you really need to check them out either on line or in print. In this electronic age of web access and illegal downloading I don’t even think twice about shelling out some dough for my subscription.

Case in point. Jeffrey Goldberg writes a fantastic, if way too short, piece on the pathetic joke which is airport security. He describes the numerous suspicious items and forged boarding passes that have been missed by those on our ‘front line of freedom’ and consequently how we are not any safer today than we were on 9/11. Rather, all that money we’ve poured down the drain and government bureaucracy we’ve created has done nothing but make (some of us) feel safer.

During one secondary inspection, at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, I was wearing under my shirt a spectacular, only-in-America device called a “Beerbelly,” a neoprene sling that holds a polyurethane bladder and drinking tube. The Beerbelly, designed originally to sneak alcohol—up to 80 ounces—into football games, can quite obviously be used to sneak up to 80 ounces of liquid through airport security…My Beerbelly, which fit comfortably over my beer belly, contained two cans’ worth of Bud Light at the time of the inspection. It went undetected. The eight-ounce bottle of water in my carry-on bag, however, was seized by the federal government.

And check this out…

Schnei­er took from his bag a 12-ounce container labeled “saline solution.”

“It’s allowed,” he said. Medical supplies, such as saline solution for contact-lens cleaning, don’t fall under the TSA’s three-ounce rule.

“What’s allowed?” I asked. “Saline solution, or bottles labeled saline solution?”

“Bottles labeled saline solution. They won’t check what’s in it, trust me.”

They did not check. As we gathered our belongings, Schnei­er held up the bottle and said to the nearest security officer, “This is okay, right?” “Yep,” the officer said. “Just have to put it in the tray.”

“Maybe if you lit it on fire, he’d pay attention,” I said, risking arrest for making a joke at airport security. (Later, Schnei­er would carry two bottles labeled saline solution—24 ounces in total—through security. An officer asked him why he needed two bottles. “Two eyes,” he said. He was allowed to keep the bottles.)

Certainly, anyone who’s flown more than once or twice in the past seven years has either experienced systematic craptastic security at our airports and seen huge, gaping flaws which look like blinking neon signs which say ‘Terrorists! Look here! Great opportunities to spread death and destruction!’

Goldberg also has a blog at the Atlantic and is planning on updating the story. For example, the TSA responded to his article (yes, they can’t keep the airports safe but thank goodness they have a well staffed public affairs office!) by saying:

Even if “all” we do is stop dumb terrorists, we are reducing risk.

Yes, yes. Brilliant. Let’s target all the idiots out there since it’s way to hard to find the clever terrorists. Besides, how many people could the ‘smart’ terrorists kill anyway?

As an aside, Goldberg is also starting a contest to find other examples of “Federally-Endorsed Mediocrity” and giving the winner a free subscription. He got the ball rolling with a quote from FEMA administrator R. David Paulison, talking about his agency’s response to Katrina.

Most storms, in fact, don’t become hurricanes, and it is these storms that we will focus our efforts on.’ Paulison went on to say that FEMA is also prepared to handle the after-effects of such moderate storms as minor flooding, downed tree branches, and missing cats.

Nice…a federal agency deciding to focus 2,600 employees and $8 billion to pull Mr. Puddles out of a tree and pick up tree branches after a storm.

Who you calling old?

Eleven and a half years old and the dog’s still got it…

When I want to go running he moves around like he wants to tell me about his rheumatism that he got in the winter of ’04.  When I get out the frisbee, he jumps around like a dolphin at SeaWorld.  I think he’s just getting better at manipulating me.

Anyway, we (obviously) played a little frisbee and I got some great pictures.  Check them out at my flickr site here.