Monday, July 31, 2006

More of the Same: Israel is taking public heat for bombing a building full of civilians. The U.N. expresses shock, other leaders are stunned, and even the U.S. is trying to finagle an appropriate response.

Barely a word is mentioned about where the blame truly belongs -- on the terrorists who hide their personnel and weaponry among civilians, using them as human shields. No one is shocked by this action, partly because we're so used to it as typical terrorist activity. But it's not even condemned. Instead, Israel reaps the blame.

That's part of the difficulty in combating terrorism. The terrorists aren't fighting a conventional battle. It's a PR campaign set through violence. When they attack, they target civilians to scare the general public. They then expect a reprisal, so they hide among civilians so when the counter-attack happens, they use the collateral damage to make propaganda images and videos. And it's impossible to tell how many terrorists are ever killed in a strike, because all the terrorists dress as civilians.

The terrorists seem to get a break because they are regarded as the underdog, outmuscled by the United States and Israel. But it's the terrorists that instigate the violence and put the civilians at risk. They do it because they want to create a fascist state of Islam extremism throughout the Middle East, and the rest of the world. Their goals are wrong, their tactics are wrong, and their message is wrong. That's where the U.N. and the rest of the world should focus their scorn.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Evacuate: I'm out for another week. Don't bring peace to the Middle East until I get back.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Second Front, Stabbed in the Back: While there has been much condemnation from the Arab Street about Israel's military response to Hezbollah and Hamas, many Muslims are critical of the terrorists who instigated the new bloodshed. And not just moderate Muslims. In addition to the editor-in-chief of the Arab Times, the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia have spoken against Hezbollah, going so far to issue a Fatwa against them. (Hat tip, Stubborn Facts)

Granted, this stems partly from the Sunni/Shiite rivalry. But I think Hezbollah miscalculated the reaction to their deeds. They probably only expected a "proportional response" from Israel, which Israel wisely avoided. And I'm sure they anticipated more support from their fellow Muslims.

We're in the process of tearing down Middle East politics so we can put it back together again. What this will look like in the end, no one knows. But we couldn't let things remain as they were.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Fighting Side of Me: Critics are mad at Bush for not doing enough to end the hostilities between Israel and her enemies. I say Bush is interfering too much. According to this article, Israel only gets one more week before the U.S. will pressure for a ceasefire. That's not enough time to cripple Hezbollah and other terrorists Israel is facing.

The war underway now is unfortunate. But Hezbollah and Hamas instigated it and have been antagonizing Israel for years. The carnage we're witnessing is nothing compared to the death and destruction Muslim terrorists cause in Israel day after day.

If we want to win the War on Terrorism, we need Israel's help. The Israelis have the tactical intelligence and experience to defeat our common enemies. Instead of holding Israelis back, we should unleash their military. We've tried diplomacy and concessions for too long. Now let Israel kick some ass.

Dig on the Big Dig: The Onion, funny again.

Listen, when the government spends $14 billion on anything, you are going to have to accept that an innocent person will die under a concrete slab.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Coat Hanger in the Congressional Womb: Well, everyone who criticized Bush for never vetoing a bill, I hope you're happy. He's about to kill a bill that would allow federal funding for stem-cell research.

This is where I join the chorus of other critics who are counting down the days until Bush leaves office. He'll only be in power for two more years. I predict that the next president will sign such a bill into law.

But I never understood the criticism against Bush for not vetoing legislation. He's a Republican president with a Republican Congress. If they were constantly vetoing and overriding vetoes, it would be a mess. They're supposed to be on the same side. If partisans can't get along, how can we even hope for bipartisanship.

The fact that Bush and Congress were able to come to agreement on legislative issues shows a great deal of leadership and compromise. Unfortunately, much of that leadership led to overspending and record deficits. But Bush has been proposing unnecessary expenditures, so I'd have no expectation for him to veto such spending. Now Republicans in Congress have softened their opposition to stem-cell research and decided it is a good place to spend taxpayer money. Too bad we'll have to wait before that can finally happen.

Monday, July 17, 2006

As If There Ain't Enough News Goin' On: Everybody seems shocked, shocked, that President Bush said the word "shit". He said it not in a public speech, but in a private conversation that happened to be picked up by a microphone.

Some people are praising him for his tough, nuance-free speech. Others criticize him for being unpresidential.

It really shouldn't matter. The problem is, by drawing so much attention to this, we're reinforcing the idea that politicians cannot speak like normal human beings. This is why every word they utter is poll tested, filtered, and canned. Plain-spokenness carries too high of a risk factor. So we end up with the same old regurgitated speeches time after time.

Case in point, Kevin Drum expresses shock, shock, that Bush said "I think" Condi is going to the Middle East. The Political Animal seems to believe this implies that Bush doesn't know. No, he does know, but some details are still in flux, so he is speaking tentatively. Don't you know, Kevin, that this was not a prepared speech and that you're wasting your time trying to analyze every little word that's spoken off the cuff?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Not Anti-War. Just For the Other Side: This tops the "Screw them" comment from before. Someone named 'qrswave' at Daily Kos waxes poetically in a post titled, Imagine a world without Israel.

Muslims, Jews, and Christians could live in peace without fear of mutual destruction.

There would be no more need for US AID or justification for Dimona.

We could bring down the Wall, send prisoners home, and families could be reunited.

We could dismantle checkpoints, open crossings, and pull down barbed wire fences.

The obvious retort is, "Imagine a world without Islam." Or more to the point, "Imagine a world without insane Muslim terrorists." The best response is from a commenter at LGF who says, "Imagine a world without Daily Kos."

I'm willing to accept that certain nutcases will remain apologists for the world's evil. But when blogs like Kos become influential political forces and have a say what's going on in one of our major parties, it scares me.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

News Break: This was the Reuters headline today.

Israel calls Hizbollah capture of soldiers act of war

I'm sorry, but Israel, the Palestinians, terrorist groups -- the entire Middle East has been at war for years. This is just more of the same.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pourquoi? I broke down and decided to watch the World Cup championship game yesterday. I never felt more American than when I found myself bored to tears. Now I have respect for soccer players -- it's a grueling sport that takes a lifetime of practice and talent to excel -- but it ranks just above golf in terms of excitement as a spectator sport.

From what I observed yesterday and from snippets I've seen in other games, nothing really happens outside of penalty kicks and corner kicks. And the ridiculous rules only encourage this. If you brush up against a player in the "box", that results in a penalty kick, which is essentially a free goal. That's no biggie, except that a 1-0 match is a high-scoring game.

Nothing else is allowed to happen during regular play. If at any point a player gets the ball with a clear shot on the goal, he'll be called offsides. This has got to be the dumbest rule in sports. To prevent a player from scoring, all the defense has to do is stop running and let the player continue offsides.

And while I would never say this to any soccer player face-to-face, the constant diving, whining, and crying in attempts to draw fouls gets tiresome. I'll hand it to the players, though. They are better actors than those in the NBA. But they looked like a bunch of princesses out there. Be a man, for God's sake.

Hell, the coolest part of the game was when that French guy head-butted that Italian guy. Looks like instant replay is alive and well in soccer, despite what the official rules say. Oh well, at least the Italians won the game, although we could have saved two hours and just decided the game through penalty kicks.

But now what's really sad is I realize that we're in the summer doldrums when the only sport on TV is baseball, our national pastime, which I can't bother paying attention to until it gets close to the playoffs. The games just aren't meaningful this early in the season.

We have to wait a few months until we'll be able to watch real football again. There, head-butting is not only legal, it's necessary.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mail Bag: Someone e-mailed me asking me to explain my point of view on affirmative action. Since I have nothing else to blog about, I'll make a post out of it.

My belief is that race can be used as a factor in hiring and admissions decisions. This does not mean instituting any sort of quota or choosing someone with poor qualifications because of his or her race. Among the qualified applicants, if one of them is a member of a minority group that is underrepresented, employers should take that into consideration when making the final decision.

The argument against affirmative action generally is that the most qualified person should get the job. I absolutely agree with that. But rarely in any hiring decision is there only one good candidate. Employers use all sorts of subjective criteria to make hiring decisions (posture, speaking voice, handshake). That's the entire point of an interview, to get a feel for a job candidate and to help the employer make a gut decision on who to hire. Otherwise, all hiring could be done by scanning résumés and checking references.

You're always taking a risk when hiring someone. You don't know how that person will perform on the job until several months have passed. So to say there's always one best candidate is a fallacy.

Diversity generally helps in a workplace, no matter what the field. If everyone looks the same, chances are many of them are going to think the same. Getting people with different backgrounds also brings in people with different points of view and experiences. Granted, some professions need that more than others do, but it's no secret that hiring people of different races and ethnicities has a positive effect on society, and that's reason enough.

If you don't get any qualified minority applicants, go find them. They're out there. Groups, from the National Association of Black Journalists to the Houston Hispanic Architects & Engineers, make for an excellent starting point when looking for qualified professionals of color. Instead of fishing from the same pond all the time and catching the same fish, diversify your search.

A little bit of effort goes a long way. You don't need to set quotas or discriminate against qualified white people. Everyone you hire, no matter what color, should be qualified to do the job. You just have to make a small concerted effort, or an affirmative action, to find a diverse workforce.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Team America: Ah, another Fourth o' July. Fireworks, flags, and patriotism. After I got back from the beach trip, I went to the Independence Day celebration on the National Mall. There I got to hear country star Jo Dee Messina declare that the United States of America was "one of the best countries in the world".

Apparently she's missing part of the concept of patriotism. When honoring your country, go ahead and say we're the best, not just one of the best. Objectively, this is pretty well verifiable. But even if it weren't, nobody would fault you for loving your country.

Or so you would think. I can forgive Jo Dee for misspeaking, perhaps, but now people are questioning Germans for cheering on their World Cup team (before the team got eliminated). NPR mentioned it this morning, and The Washington Post ran a sports piece about the guilt associated with German nationalism.

Why, you ask? Because of the Nazis, of course. You see, Germans love their country. And Hitler loved his country. Plus, it was the same country. Germany. Understand? Very dangerous!

Not to downplay Nazi atrocities, but just because someone associated with your country did something bad doesn't mean you can't have a little pride in where you're from. You can root for your country to win, whether the game be soccer or war, and honestly it's not jingoistic.

And despite the dangers of an incoming flag epidemic you can show your patriotism more than one day a year.

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