Thursday, August 26, 2010

The main reason I don't pick a side, or at least not a party

I do not affiliate myself with any party, I have voted Democrat and Republican over the years. This is because of the pattern of one party (or side) criticizing the other for basically doing the same sort of thing their party (or side) side once did. One immediate example (which I've mentioned in other posts) is conservatives talking about the debt yet not taking a strong stand on military waste, lest they be deemed unpatriotic. On the other side Obama has been very disappointing on some things (not closing Gitmo, or the ineptitude and borderline deception of his administration's response to the BP oil leak situation as revealed in the recent Rolling Stone article) that his party would have reamed Bush for.

Another symptom of this mindset is when those on the right or left play the victim card as if whatever administration is in power is trying to single them out. A big example of this a little while back was the outcry about the Homeland Security report on right wing extremism, which led to tons of conservatives complaining that they would be labeled threats because of their bumper stickers. The thing that no one seemed to report was that Homeland Security had also put out a report on left wing extremism and cyber attacks.

Party affiliation seems to be less about rights and liberty for all and more about reaping spoils for whatever specific segments of people your party counts as it's base and then attempting to pass laws to screw over those that aren't part of your base. Whether these laws are about guns, drugs, gay rights, or any number of issues.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dang I would love to stop talking about this mosque but........

A letter from today's Dem-Gaz:

The Obama administration has sent Imam Feisal Rauf, at taxpayer expense, on a third trip to the Middle East  to “promote religious tolerance.” This is the imam who proposes to build a community center and mosque near Ground Zero in New York.

Perhaps we should send a rabbi, a priest and a preacher to the Middle East to promote religious tolerance. Perhaps we should propose building a community center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where people could become acquainted with Judaism, Christianity and other major religions.

We should establish an ecumenical publishing house that would print literature in Arabic for all of the world’s major and minor religions. After all, we are only trying to promote religious tolerance.

Perhaps we should apply for building permits to place several structures opposite the Grand Mosque in Mecca. I suggest a Baptist church, a Jewish synagogue, a Jehovah’s Witness kingdom hall, a Mormon temple and Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches.

If you think some Americans are upset with the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, propose any of these projects and see how the “tolerant” Muslims respond. Sharia law forbids any religion except Islam to exist in a Muslim country. How’s that for peaceful acceptance and tolerance? Can you pronounce hypocrisy?


Yes I can pronuonce hypocrisy but I can also recongize some differences between what Imam Feisal Rauf wants to do and what you are proposing Mr. Williams.

 For one thing, Rauf is a U.S. citizen. So that basically screws your comparison immediately. This isn't some foreigner trying to build some sinister Muslim brainwashing camp. The man is an American with all the freedoms that holds. Is he getting donations from Muslim countries? I'm sure he is, but haven't American citizens also sent funding to support missionaries of other faiths in Muslim countries? As Sarah Palin says, "You betcha!"

 Of course I know that it's harder for missionaries in Muslim countries than for Muslims trying to spread their faith here in the U.S., but are you really trying to tell me that the religious restrictions and regulations that Muslim nations have in place are something we should emulate over here? That seems to be, while not explicitly stated, somewhat implied by your letter.

The argument that Mr. Williams makes is one I've been hearing a lot, but these all neglect one key fact: this is a U.S. citizen trying to build a religious space. The fact that many Muslims are Americans can't be stated enough, as well as the fact that Muslims perished in the WTC in the face of evil along with Christians.

Also to do with the "Ground Zero Mosque", Ron Paul has spoken out and he's as ideologically as consistent as ever, God bless him:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Trusting the Government: Part two

Here, after an intermission with my last post, is part two of my posts on Trusting the Government.

"Law and Order" is the second topic of these posts because it seems like many limited government types fall in love with candidates that run on platforms with those words. Nevermind the fact that less law, and to a certain degree less order is part of limited government. Less laws on drugs, getting rid of mandatory minimum sentencing, and less government power allowing the state to take human life as a punishment should be pricipals that advocates of smaller government would embrace. But that hasn't been the case. President Reagan and mandatory minimum sentencing is a case in point, one that is thankfully being reconsidered by Congress because of stronger sentencing for crack than cocaine. The former of which is used in poor and predominately black communities, the latter of which is predominately used in the bathrooms of Wall Street investment bankers......jk........okay, maybe not.

The increased focus on "law and order" hasn't made us safer. Our violent crime rate is higher than 40 years ago, even with one adult in 100 behind bars. What we are looking at in the US today is a country that has more and more laws that are supposedly designed to stop crime and more and more people locked up in jail (and for all you low tax people, that's taxpayer money keeping them there).

If you want to see a great article about our justice check out this recent Economist article.  The money quote is from libertarian scholar Gene Healy: "Yet over the last 40 years, an unholy alliance of big business-hating liberals and tough-on-crime conservatives has made criminalization the first line of attack- a way to demonstrate the serious about the the social problem of the month, whether it's corporate scandals or e-mail spam."

The whole article is three magazine pages detailing the silliness of some of the laws that exist in our country and how easily some of them can still send you to jail. The opening story about a 65 year old orchid collector getting his home stormed and ransacked by armed police, then17 months in jail for importing orchids for his collection, and then 71 days in solitary confinement for bringing his prescription sleeping pills into jail is enough to make you ask how much of our country's much touted freedom is a reality.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Best quote about the Ground Zero mosque ever.

"Continuing the chain of imaginary offensiveness to stereotypes, I plan to open a Babies R Us next to the gay bar next to the mosque next to Ground Zero. Next to the Babies R Us I will open a pornographic bookstore, and next to that I will open a police station. Next to the police station I will open a hip-hop recording studio, and next to that I will open an Applebees. Next to the Applebees I will open a TGI Fridays (those guys HATE each other) and next to the TGI Fridays I will open a methadone clinic. Next to the methadone clinic I will open a crack house, and finally, next to that, I will open a Catholic church adjoining a daycare center for attractive boys, adjacent to which I will just blow up whatever’s there so I can erect a memorial, and next to that memorial I will open a community center dedicated to a locally inconvenient ethnicity that I hired to blow up the original structure on the memorial site. Next to that I’m just going to put up some condos."--- Chris Mohney

Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries. One columnist gets it right.

I rarely see eye to eye with Dana D. Kelley of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette but his column on August 6th was about as poignant and perfect a column as you can write about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Mr. Kelley doesn't condemn the bombings but he also doesn't rave about them as preventing tons of U.S. soldier deaths like so many do. He writes about the sheer destructive horror of the weapons and also takes a look at the lengths to which the U.S. government went to hide some of the truth of the attacks:

"Even two years after the war ended, U.S. officials were careful not to let truth interfere with public perception about the use, and the results, of atomic weapons. Authors Greg Mitchell and Robert Jay Lifton noted in The Nation that the 1947 film “The Beginning or the End?” was replete with White House-dictated revisions.

For example, in its earliest scripts, the movie raised questions about the use of atomic energy as a weapon and set out to show shocking images of the burned-up cities and casualties, including a baby with a scorched face. But by the time it hit theaters, it only reinforced the answers skeptics had already been given-and took a few more liberties with the truth for good measure.

Gone were any images of victims, as if an attack with no warning over a bustling city could be a victimless event. No detail was left unmanaged for effect. The name of the plane that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki, “Bockscar,” was changed to “Necessary Evil”; the city of Nagasaki was edited out altogether. The B-29 aircraft over Hiroshima, which in reality was ignored as it approached its target, is shown in the movie being pelted with heavy flak.

In perhaps the most egregious of factual misrepresentations, the movie propagated the myth that leaflets were dropped over Hiroshima warning of the attack. Leaflets had been dropped in advance over many of the firebombing targets, as well as many that weren’t targeted, for psychological impact, but Hiroshima’s residents received no warning at all.

In fact, the primary atomic targets, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Kokura, were all intentionally left unbombed to effectively gauge the destruction of the nuclear explosions."

Of course even merely speaking the truth about this deception of the American people, as well as accurately describing the destructive result of the bomb is enough to stir some people up. Today's letters to the paper include two writers who won't accept anything other than praise for the almighty bomb and its use. One even said Kelley "bordered on blaming America for starting World War II", which is total garbage and nowhere in Kelley's column. Not to mention that any regular reader of his columns would know that Kelley is fairly conservative and not part of what the right wing calls the "'blame America first' crowd."  Another letter writer moaned about Kelley's "hand-wringing".

Here was how Kelley closed his column, it doesn't sound like "hand-wringing" to me, just an acknowledgment of how tragic it is when innocent people of any side get dragged into the path of war:

"For the first time in the ensuing 65 years since the bombings, an official delegation from the United States government is set to attend the memorial service marking the Hiroshima anniversary. Nobody expects any sort of apology about the atomic bombing, and certainly the Japanese have plenty of atrocities for which their own apologies are long overdue. At least and at long last, if nothing else, maybe both countries can look upon that symbolic city and feel nothing but sadness."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Trusting the Government: Part One

The question of the title isn't something I actually want answered by anyone reading this. It's more a question I have for those who are outspoken about not trusting the government to run anything or "not wanting my tax dollars going to (fill in the space)".  That's fine and good. I'll admit that the government has run some things terribly. And yet it's only certain things that people point to, when there are two areas in particular where many folks who say these statements remain silent: the military/intelligence/industrial complex and what I'll call "law and order".

In this post, I'll look at the first.

President Eisenhower's farewell address contains this famous section:

"Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual --is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

I'll add "intelligence" to "military industrial" because they have become so connected in the years following World War II.

If you need any proof of the dangers he warned about, the "potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power" then I would point you to the Church Committee investigations of the CIA and the subsequent release of the CIA's "family jewels" . What these showed was an agency that had strayed way beyond it's charter and was engaging in questionable surveillance, and sometimes worse, of citizens on US soil. Oh yeah, and did I also mention dosing unsuspecting US citizens with LSD? For a more in depth look at the rather embarrassing history of the agency, read "Legacy of Ashes: the History of the CIA". A truly eye opening read.

"But Linton" you might say, "that was then, this is now and things have gotten so much better."

Okay, maybe we don't have government agencies dosing people with LSD least I hope not, but the whole area of military contractors, intelligence agencies and so forth are still wasteful and ineffective . Just read the recent Washington Post series "Top Secret America".

Among the findings of the series:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

I would also like to note that this article garnered barely a peep from the most vocal anti-government group of the moment, the Tea Party.

Basically many people who will gripe about anything to do with the government down to delivering their mail, will never question when the same government decides to take a country to war. Deference to the military is not something our country was built on. And even a wise old General like Ike recognized this. Showing a healthy skepticism about the ways one tax dollars are being spent in relationship to war isn't unpatriotic. Our military protects us, but it also serves us.

If half these people were worth their salt they would be objecting to the sheer waste of many of our military contractors with just as much venom as they gripe against welfare abuse. Part of this is a symptom of the simple-mindedness that is so prevalent in our country. One of my favorite columnists, Matt Taibbi put it this way when writing about some of the more recent Tea Party folks he'd witnessed:

"the Tea Party movement contains a lot of people who are far more impressed by what they can see with their own eyes than with what, for instance, they read about. I’ve been to Tea Party events where global warming was dismissed by speakers who, without irony, pointed to the fact that there was snow on the ground outside. And while very few people have ever actually seen a CDO manager or a Countrywide executive, or were aware if it when they saw them, the Tea Party folks sure as hell have seen who their neighbors in foreclosure are."

But maybe it isn't only that. Maybe people just feel so much safer leaving matters of defense to the "experts" and the "best and brightest", and that it isn't worth their time to care or worry about things so far away and beyond their control. But my warning would be that it was the "experts" who said that Iraq had WMDs, the "experts" who once told people that cigarettes wouldn't potentially kill you, and the "experts" waaaay before that who said the Earth was flat.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

KARN callers this morning. Because it's so easy to write about.

KARN morning radio callers and letter writers to the Dem Gaz are truly cut from the same cloth. And that cloth is probably the cloth used to make this shirt:

The typical morning call in show routine seems to be to pick the story that will bring out the most phone calls. But the topics are always those that will obviously lead to: a.) angry, inarticulate callers b.) an entire program of callers with the same point of view. So today's topic was (of course) the recent California ruling on gay marriage.

Today we'll focus on two callers.

Caller number one had some vague rant involving the fall of Rome and how it is parallels the fall of our country, etc, etc. I have heard several cases for this by the way, but the idea of everyone in our country turning gay and not reproducing has never seemed to be a strong one. In part this is because we aren't all becoming gay and because I'm pretty sure all the Romans weren't gay when their empire fell.
Also, I don't think a law allowing gay marriage has a magic ability to turn straight people gay. If it does then why don't we pass a law requiring wizardry? Suddenly everyone in our country would magically become a wizard and Al-Qaeda would cower before our wands, or be turned into frogs. War on Terror over.

Caller number two pleaded the whole "founding documents based on Christian principals" argument. I'm not going to argue that because it's irrelevant, considering most opponents of gay marriage are arguing this issue based on state's rights and also because our founding documents don't talk about sexual orientation at all. We aren't governed as a country by strictly Christian principals (although our country's laws sometimes mirror these principals), our country is governed by laws that men wrote and still write. Many of us are or try to be personally governed by Christian principals though.

Oh yeah and one more thing for caller number two, don't ever try to sound intelligent by tacking on the phrase "the 10 commandments if you will" after saying "Christian principals" and expect me to take anything you say about either of those things seriously. Either own your invocation of the 10 commandments by leaving off the "if you will" or don't even mention them.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Mosque at Ground Zero?......As American as apple pie

Today I received two blood boiling emails from a person I have a great deal of  respect for. He attends the place of  Christian worship that I attend and has been supportive of many people who have struggled with various sins and addictions in their life. He has helped them with open arms.

We'll call him John for "John Doe".

Here is email # 1 which included a link to a video, it was followed by another one with contact info for NYC Mayor Bloomberg (these were obviously sent to many people btw): "

In His Story
for those of you who have watched the video that was sent to me you have witnessed a very angry Brit ripping on the idea of building a mosque "at Ground Zero" as everyone has been wording it.
My take:
Look at that. Does it look like it is AT Ground Zero to you? I doubt you'd be able to see it from Ground Zero.

2.  I know it's become a cliche but if we don't let that organization build this thing then we really have played into the hands of the people who attacked us on that terrible day in September. America is a place that enjoys all the freedoms of religion and speech that most of the Muslim regimes deny their citizens. It would be nice to have a very powerful and symbolic (since I guess a building that can't even be seen from Ground Zero carries symbolism somehow) opportunity to show that to the world.

3. The guy in the video says that Islam is an "Ideology of hate". I'm not going to get into that debate but I want to make an even more startling statement. Even if it is, so what? He says that it shouldn't be allowed in the "civilized world" because of his belief that it is hateful. I'm sure he thinks America is part of the "civilized world" judging by the tone of his video. I agree. 

Part of what makes America civilized is that we let people speak their mind. We recognize that if you don't like it (whatever it is) you can walk away, or change the channel, or speak your own contrary view with just as much force one channel over, or right next door. Our laws step in when that speech encourages violence, but they are silent on hate. 

That's how Fred Phelps travels from funeral to funeral without being hindered.'s the beautiful thing. The most effective response to this didn't come about from laws or regulations. It came from an equal display of free speech. The Patriot Guard Riders have begun appearing at funerals for the fallen soldiers, acting as stoic, and intimidating, human shields between families and hatemongers.

So in closing, those of you who don't want the Mosque so close to Ground Zero, go buy your own building and you can share your silly views with the rest of the world too. 

Illegal Immigrants and the Ned Beatty treatment

The Dem Gaz letter page never fails to amaze me by showing me the minds of my fellow Arkansans. They are truly wonderful minds and their brains should be preserved for future generations like the pieces JFK's brain (wait our government lost those, nevermind). Today's paper featured a letter from a man who had previously lived in Arizona. Does anyone want to guess what he wrote in about? Yes that's right Timmy, he wrote about immigrants. That and how a case from 1985 miraculously explains everything about our current situation with the border today.

 Apparently two brothers had a ranch close to the border that saw lots of traffic from illegal immigrants as well as lots of thievery. One night they caught three men in their barn and, after making them remove their pants and shoes, fired their guns in the air and told the men to go back across the border.

Okay, before I get to the rest of this let me emphasize one part of this story again:
making them remove their pants and shoes

Okay, we got that? Good.

Anyway, so the brothers were charged with violating the men's civil rights and acquited and then the letter writers says "big brother" brought charges of interfering with interstate commerce against them. The writer says one man was acquited and the other convicted, but that he lost track of the case, but somehow this explains everything about today and blahalbalhaha. I couldn't find much on the case because my access to information on 1985 Arizona cases is limited to Google searches and the ramblings of my fellow resident of the Natural State.

1. I support a man's right to defend his property and the sanctity of his house (or barn), especially if he's being regularly stolen from.

2.  If the government were charging these brothers with interfering with interstate commerce that does hit me as rather silly. But the civil rights violation charge does ring with a little truth because.....

3.making them remove their pants and shoes!!?!!!? Creepy. If the guys had just fired their guns and told the guys to leave I'd be a little sympathetic but whaaaaaa? I wonder if the rest of the story that the writer didn't catch upon his moving to Arkansas included revelations like "One brother told one of the three that he 'sure did have a pretty mouth' and that he wanted him to 'squeal like a pig'". Saying that the behavior of the brothers is totally fine is okay if you don't mind the "slippery slope" (thanks you religious right for the years of hearing that term on AFR) that could lead to. Just because someone is trespassing doesn't in my mind mean you can do anything to them you want to. I'd object just a little bit if someone had a "Hostel"-style torture house for the illegal immigrants they caught crossing their yard and I'd hope everyone reading this would too. If you or your family's lives are threatened then by all means, cap them. But if they are just stealing some sheep or catching some shut eye in a barn, do the same thing these brothers did........except let the guys to keep their pants and shoes on.