Thursday, July 26, 2007

America - the next "olde world" Afghanistan

America. One word that was known the world over. Associated with good, benevolence, opportunity, hope, love, courage, strength, and even wealth.

How, in such a short time have we, as a nation, gone from purple mountains majesty, waving seas of golden grain, honor and dignity to a "once-was, menagerie of clanging tarnished gongs, politically correct, partisan, ignorant armpit of western civilization"?

I hear news of a West African man accused of molesting a seven year old girl, then an 18 month old girl, whom the judge lets off because they cannot locate a sufficient interpreter for his native tongue. Deported? Nope. Imprisoned? Nope. Roaming the streets to repeat it once more? Yep.

Or how about the two parolees, fresh from the slammer, who stalk a wealthy neighborhood and randomly select a couple and their daughters to sexually assault and murder - only the father clings to life - a life that I would argue to be not worth living in light of this travesty.

What about the law-abiding citizen who presented a firearm to diffuse a situation where imminent and grave danger were seconds away, yet he was arrested and charged? Adjudication was withheld and his probation was terminated early having met all of the requirements, his record is being sealed, yet the weapon cannot be returned to him as it is dubbed a "fruit of the crime." It can be returned to any other law-abiding party who can then give it to him, but the law prevents him from taking possession. He can vote. He can buy another gun today. He can keep other guns already in possession. But that one is off-limits until it's given to him by someone else.

Contrary to what we have come to think of Afghanistan, it was once a beautiful country, ruled by a benevolent monarch until . . . a mere quarter century or so ago, the Russians invaded. Friend turned against friend, brother against brother, husband against wife. The nation was destroyed. Many who fled to Pakistan as refugees failed to survive the trip. Women and children were ruthlessly molested, sodomized, tortured - their faces today reflecting the gross disfigurement of an evil man's knife. Their futile attempts at slumber tormented by the recollections of something that happened in an alleyway. And when the virus known as Russia slithered back across the border, the road had been paved for the Taliban. A once beautiful land of beautiful people now lay barren under the oppressive thumb of a handful of zealots believing that they are doing Allah's will. Allah. Yahweh. Jehovah. God. The God I once knew so well is loving, just, kind-hearted, charitable, gracious, merciful, a deity whom we could call Abba ("daddy") . . . yet these monsters have turned their so-called deity into a scourge. The people fear "his" cronies and in so doing, fear him. They seek jihad. And for what? What religion mandates that others die in its name - in the name of its deity? What religion uses the promise of intercourse with multiple virgins as a reward? Do the math - a 30 second orgasm with 72 virgins amounts to 36 minutes of "pleasure." And for what? Killing others who aren't on that bandwagon? Have you noticed that its fearless leaders preach of "do as I say, not as I do"? The suicide bombers are patsies. The leaders wouldn't do what they mandate of others.

History serves as a warning. At what point will we heed its sagely advice? At what point will we look back on 2007 and conclude that we saw it coming yet were blind? Who among you must die? Your wife? Mother? Daughter? Brother? Son? When will the barren desert that once was home to life & love, overflowing with milk, honey, mulberry and dates remove the shroud that thinly veils the future that awaits us?

The concept of Orwell's "1984" is all but cliche' today; perhaps Hosseini's "The Kite Runner" will become the voice in the desert, crying to be heard.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Outsourcing America

What has happened to the "America" that our founders envisioned? A land of the free and brave. A land of opportunity. A sovereign land from "Sea to Shining Sea" with resources to provide for its people.

Yet listen to the rhetoric du jour (I use a French word to reflect how we're becoming just like them - socialized and cowardly): democratic contenders for the 2008 election in their shrill screeches talking about seizing private property and personal freedoms and excess profits. What is an "excess profit"? Who defines that? In a free-market, capitalist economy, for-profit entities operate under that edict - to earn a profit. The more, the better. There's no such thing as "excess." Private property and personal freedoms are among the major tenets of this land. But with much blessing comes much responsibility. And handing it over to those who seek to destroy this land in the name of public opinion and political correctness (evil twins cut from the same cloth), borders on treason, if not criminally insane.

With a few exceptions, no one is calling this metamorphosis for what it is. Some radio personalities like Savage, Limbaugh, Hannity. Beck, et al, try, but they are limited to what their management will allow and the FCC guidelines under which they operate will tolerate. Those who are willing to hear them agree, but feel voiceless. Those who disagree label them as "kook-fringe" or "Neo-Cons."

Tolerance - a popular word these days - is a one-way street. We are to tolerate those whom we've somehow disenfranchised by virtue of our existence, vis-a-vis blacks, muslims, hispanics, gays, black-muslim-gays, hispanic-wiccan-lesbians, etc. Yet these very groups refuse to "tolerate" us. Who is "us"? White - usually. Middle class - typically. Nominally Christian. Heterosexual. Trying to provide for ourselves and our families. Yet somehow, we're the bad guys.

And driving all of this is an economy framed by the "Wal-Mart Mentality." More stuff at lower prices. Always. Then people complain that we have a trade deficit with China (ironically, a country that tolerates the USA because they love the US-funding of their massive empire). People wonder why their manufacturing job was shipped overseas. And they wonder, as a result, why they are no longer employed with health insurance. They're the same ones who insisted on paying next to nothing for that consumer good or textile at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, being the buying power that it is, pushes the consumer price demands back to manufacturers, who then have to outsource overseas to produce a similar product at a lesser cost. More people lose jobs, but the product prices go down 25 cents. And fewer people can buy it. Why? Because if they have not lost their job to outsourcing, then more share-of-wallet is going into their fuel tank.

E85 will be the death of us and it certainly won't save the planet from the religion of Global Warming. Corn - a staple of our food supply - is being reallocated to create a "cleaner" fuel. But at what cost? As with any free-market economy, supply and demand drives the price. If corn is being demanded to create E85, then it will become a more expensive commodity. As such, the corn that feeds us, our beef and dairy cattle, and other livestock and poultry, will now be more expensive, thus driving up the costs of those products. Cornmeal, corn syrup, and other corn derivatives used to make processed foods will become more expensive with that expense being borne by the consumer. All the while, ethanol is being praised as a renewable mineral oil alternative despite the fact that the BTU output is less than that of gasoline or diesel. What does that mean to you? That it takes more E85 to produce the same amount of energy as a gallon of gas, just as it takes more gas to produce the same amount of energy as a gallon of diesel. It all SOUNDS good until you actually think it through. is a wonderful concept, like most online shopping, in that it keeps those of us with antisocial tendencies from having to navigate in the summer heat or winter snow to get to a store, only to have to tolerate uneducated employees with excessive piercings (apparently installed to compensate for their lack of personality and intelligence). Then, we have to watch hapless parents let their young brood run amuk and make lots of noise and damage products all in the name of their personal growth and exploration. Yet, even online shopping has its limitations. Beyond the obvious inability to touch and assess the quality of a product, if you must speak with a live person, Amazon (like others) will transfer your call to India (land of questionable infrastructure) where you can speak with someone with a fake American-sounding name, sitting in a hot warehouse in a polyester floral dress and dots on her head, with a database of preprogrammed responses to your questions and concerns. It's similar to seeing the detective attempt to interact with the hologram in iRobot. Great form; minimal function.

Yet somehow, we've called all of this "progress." However, I'm not sure what we've progressed from or, maybe TO. If anyone takes a critical look at where we are, peels back the thin facade of white wash, we are one terrorist attack away from economic destruction. We can no longer fend for ourselves. We are no longer united. And we certainly do not enjoy the sovereignty, vision, and bravery that are founders foresaw. Those men and women risked everything to form this nation. Had they been defeated . . . had they allowed the British to regain control . . . their actions would have been declared treasonous and they would have been painfully executed. And this . . . THIS . . . is how we've repaid their bravery and vision.

Like the old indian looking at trash on the side of a highway where a peaceful meadow once stood, I am left with nothing but a tear rolling down my cheek.