Saturday, December 30, 2006

Post-Execution Iraq

Now that Saddam Hussein has been executed, it is almost anyone's guess as to what is going to happen in Iraq.

There are those who are stating that Hussein died a martyr's death.  Well, if you call hanging a martyr's death, so be it.  But don't you have to believe in something greater than yourself and be executed for that belief to qualify as a martyr?  Even though he carried a Koran to the gallows, there is no evidence that he believed in anything but himself throughout his excessive and murderous life.

There are others who celebrate his death, the execution of a Hitler-like dictator that reportedly had a hand in the killings of millions of his own people through his death squads and military.  Even though he was convicted by an Iraqi court for just a fraction of those deaths, I believe that the families of those victims are satisfied that this monster is dead.

Will there be violence in Saddam's name?  Yes, at least in the short run.  He did not die as a hero should, pistol in one hand and a flag in another, but with a noose around his neck.  Thus, his value as a rallying figure is minimal.

No, the violence in Iraq will continue along the same lines as before, Sunni vs. Shiite, tribe vs. tribe, and all the various power-hungry factions that arose in Saddam's absence.  It is this violence that the newly formed government of Iraq must deal with.  And the effectiveness of the Iraqi government in dealing with it's internal issues will determine the stability of the country, and thus, the region.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Just In Time for the New Year!

Yes, that's right, you may not have asked for it, but here it is - another new look for Tom's Common Sense!

I hope everyone likes it, and if not, let me know what you would like to see changed.  But positive feedback would be appreciated!

My thanks to Benning for letting me beg/borrow/steal his flag background for the title.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Remembering President Ford

Got the paper out of the chilly newspaper box, and saw that President Ford passed away.  A real gentlemen is gone.

One of the things that I remember of President Ford was that he was a golfer.  Not a very good one, mind you, but just a hacker like the rest of us.  Spectators took their lives into their own hands while watching him play, but they didn't care.  After all, how often could you say that you were hit by a tee shot from a President?

Another thing was that he was a klutz.  How many times have the news and parody media shown President Ford falling down the stairs of Air Force One?  Too many, and I personally think he did it better than Chevy Chase...

But above all, he was a gentleman, and laughed off the stupid stuff mentioned above.  He took over the Presidency in a tumultuous period of American history, and handled it with as much grace as anyone could under the circumstances.  He shrugged off two (!) assassination attempts with barely a comment, and went about the business of running the country.

He demonstrated the art of being a gentlemen by staying away from commenting on current and past President's policies and actions, unlike a couple of his successors.  In interviews, he steered away from making those comments, preferring to comment on other events of the period.  It's a shame that they do not follow his example.

Yes, we lost a real gentleman today...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

On the Eve of Another Christmas & New Year

This was from the Christmas Eve Mallard Fillmore cartoon:

In an age in which Christians around the world are persecuted, tortured, and killed for daring to utter their Lord's name...Thank God for a Nation in which people of all religions may worship in freedom.

The country we live in, no, blessed with, is truly wonderful.  This nation of ours has freedoms that most of the world does not enjoy.  One of those is the freedom to worship (or not) according to your conscience.  However, there are those who want to force you to bow to a black rock in the middle of a foreign land five times a day.  If you don't, then your life is worth nothing.

I watched the Glenn Beck special in which Islamic Extremism was featured.  The images presented in this program as created by the Muslim clergy, news, and entertainment media were most disturbing.  It's not easy to watch crowds being whipped into a frenzy, chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."  Nor is it reassuring that people considered to be "infidels" are not considered to be people, but must be killed wherever they are found.  And let's not talk about what they really think of the Jewish people and Israel simply because it is so dehumanizing as to be ridiculous.

What bothers me the most is that our media ignores the reality of this threat.  We do not hear of or read about very often the anti-American & anti-Israeli rhetoric, calling for the destruction of our respective countries.  Nor is it brought to the forefront that they truly hate us with all of their hearts, and wish nothing but death for us. 

This hate runs deep.  Talking will not solve our differences.  This is a belief system that does not have room for compromise, not even for slight differences within their own religion.  Otherwise, why are the Shiites and Sunnis killing each other in Iraq?  If it were otherwise, the word "tolerance" would be used, not abused.

And yet, there are those who think that the United States should leave Iraq, ignore the terrorist threat of radical Islam, and bury this country's head in the sand.  Indeed, they wish to withdraw American influence from the world and reduce this country's status in the world to that of a third-rate nation instead of the superpower that this country truly is.  I thought that Bill Whittle in his essay, Power, expressed it best: 

Those that would have us disarm, withdraw, apologize and retreat make the assumption that by removing American Power from the world, the planet will become a harmonious village of diversity and mutual respect. Remove American capitalism, and the world’s people will trade solar cars for indigenous beads, our European moral betters will hand over their cash to the third world until all are perfectly equal, and everyone will live in a sustainable ecological paradise. Remove American cultural power and Britney will be replaced with Beethoven, and an exquisite and reasonably priced Pate de Foi Gras Existentialist Meal can be had at a corner drive-in where the former McDonald’s once stood.

This is utter nonsense. It has never been true for a single page of the history of the Damned Human Race. There has never -– never –- been a day in human history when some form of power has not flooded the world, or competed to do so; and those times when the power was most one-sided reveal themselves to be the times of greatest relative peace, stability, and advancement of that quaint notion known as civilization.

This is not merely a European construct. We see this iron rule in Inca and Aztec histories in South America, in Shaka’s Zulu nation, in Chinese empires and Japanese Shogunates, Native American tribal relations, and wherever else we turn our eyes.

The idea that all would be well if only America would retreat from the world and stay at home is a pernicious and seductive one. It appeals not only to those that hunger after the freedom to do mischief in our absence as it does to our natural sense of isolationism. It has been the mantra of communists, totalitarians and elitists of every vile stripe for well over a hundred years. It is utterly and completely wrong. Political power has never been removed from the world -– it has only been replaced. And so our choice –- now pay attention you No Blood For Oil types -– is not between power and no power. It is a choice only of what kind of power will fill that vacuum. Chinese? Russian? European? We have seen all of these before. The horrors they have inflicted, with far less absolute power than the US wields, do not leave me pining for those alternatives. Someone is going to be the world power, or tear the world apart fighting for it. And no matter how hard we may wish it, the winner will not be a Blindfolded Jury of Archangels.

 And yet, we blunder on down a path that leads to self-destruction.  Our media and politicians make excuses for Islamic terrorists, thinking that they are misunderstood and that we, as a country, need to understand why they hate us.  That way, we can change so that they will "like us," and will stop the killing. 

Unfortunately, the killing has been going on for centuries, and will not stop anytime soon.  A religion that goes ballistic over cartoons and cannot stand scrutiny is a religion that doesn't need excuses, but accountability for it's actions and justification for its existence.  To state that it is a religion of peace and yet foment violence against non-believers is hypocritical in the extreme.

A famous American said in a speech:

"We, the American People… find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us…We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them -- they are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; 'tis ours only to transmit these, the former, unprofaned by the foot of an invader…to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

"How then shall we perform it? -- At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? -- Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! -- All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide." - Abraham Lincoln, Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, January 27, 1838.

Whether we like it or not, I believe that the Islamic terrorists are going to do their damnest to make this into a religious war from whatever it can be called now.  They will use the classic good vs. evil argument, an us-vs.-them conflict in the name of a jihad (religious war, for those of you in Rio Linda).  They will plot, plan, and execute attacks that will cause large numbers of casualties.  And the elites idiots among us will wring their hands crying, "We don't understand!  We were talking!"  Understand this, you Brie-eaters - there are people in the world that want to kill you just for the reason that you exist!!  And we still seem to pursue the idiotic mantra of appeasement to those who wish nothing more than to destroy our country and subjugate us to their religion.

I know that this isn't the traditional Christmas Eve post, but Christ stated:

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." - Matthew 10:34, NIV

Slightly out of context with the passage, but it does illustrate that there will be conflict & war brought in the name of religion and belief in God & Christ.  And I believe that this war has come upon us, although slowly and very low key until recently.

I do pray that I am wrong, that reason will prevail among our political leaders and those in the Middle East.  That there will truly be Peace on Earth.  But that will only happen if everyone decides that it will be so.

May everyone find Peace within their own hearts, and so enlighten the world.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tis the Season...In Iraq

You know it's the season when your routine gets interrupted trying to find just the right gift. That impacts the blogging schedule. Oh well...

Today I heard that President Bush is considering sending more troops into Iraq & Afghanistan.  To which I say that there had better be a plan in place for those troops to win this conflict instead of walking around with targets on their backs.  There is a goal in mind - a self-sustaining democratic Iraq - but the current strategy is not working.  If the current strategy is not working to achieve the goal, then change the strategy and not the goal.

The Iraq government must step up & work harder in taking control of their own country.  Yes, the United States can assist in setting up their law enforcement & government, but it will be up to them to sustain their own country.  And unfortunately, talking alone will most likely not accomplish this.

As pointed out in the Iraq Study Group's report, there are many various power & religious factions in operation in Iraq.  Not all of them want to be part of the newly formed government, but would much rather set up their own country within a country.  How the Iraq government wants to deal with this situation will be very interesting, and whether they succeed or not will determine the stability of the country and the region.

President Bush may give the Christmas present of more soldiers to Iraq, but I pray that this gift would be put to good use and not wasted.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Iraq Study Group - Work In Progress

While reading this report (I'm not done yet), it struck me that the Iraq people do not have a national identity nor a loyalty to their country.  Saddam and the dictators through the years have taken care of that.  The Iraq people have loyalties to their tribe, their religious sect, and their country (in that order).

The Iraqi politicians have their work cut out for them.  Resolving centuries-old feuds with religious sect differences is an almost insurmountable task.  Adding to the problem is that each of these different groups is not willing to compromise with any of the others.  Then there are the Saddam loyalists that are lurking in the background...

The Iraq police and military do need to step up and take control of their country.  How soon is the question.  It does beg the question of how much training do they need - I am presuming that some of them had training & credentials under Saddam's regime, although the question of loyalty does pop up.  And there is no question that these policemen and soldiers have taken far more casualties than the US military as a result of terrorist activities.

The bottom line is that none of this is going to happen overnight.  While the US can kick butt militarily, it's after that battle is won that the real war, the political one, must be fought and won as well.  My question is:  Will the politicians, both Iraqi and US, have the wherewithal to get the job done?

the Dry Bones Blog

I ran across this blog while reading the paper, strangely enough.  The author publishes a daily cartoon in Israel, and definitely puts some perspective on the policies of this country.

The latest is a toon from 1992 dealing with James Baker, and in his words,

James Baker is one of the architects of today's Middle East mess. Now, close to 15 years later, Baker is back. As is Jimmy Carter. Trying to sell us their same old tired, failed ideas about appeasing Arab dictators and pressuring the area's only democracy.  Again.

Here's the link:

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Celebs Gone Wild!

While the pundits have a chance to dissect the recommendations of the Iraq Policy Group for what to do in Iraq (and I have a chance to read the report), I thought I would comment on the actions of another influential group on the Left Coast – celebrities!

The actions of various celebrities over the past few weeks have been, well, excessively strange, but very familiar. Examples include:

Kramer, aka, Michael Richards, using the “N” word in a tirade on a couple of hecklers. It didn't really matter that these two bozos were ripping his routine (which, by the way, is the nightmare of many a stand-up), he was the one that had to fall over his checkbook, make tons of apologies, and kissing the ring of Al “Shakedown” Sharpton for forgiveness. After all, you can't use the “N” word under any circumstance and expect to make in the Leftist Movement that is Hollyweird.

Then over in another part of the entertainment section is the train wreck called Britney Spears. Not only is she hanging out with closet porn actress Paris Hilton, she's really hanging out!! She's picking up lots of tips on how to expose yourself from the Queen of Exposure. Getting out of a car without underwear seems a bit radical for this pop star, but then who knows what goes through the minds of people who seem to need constant attention.

Another segment involves the talk show circuit. I understand that Clay Aiken subbed for Regis Philbin, and that Kelly Ripa wouldn't let Clay get a word in edgewise. Clay put his hand over Ripa's mouth to make a comment, and Ripa objected stating, “You shouldn't do that – you don't know where that hand has been!” That got a big laugh from the audience, and a bigger flame from Rosie O'Donnell. Rosie's comment was that Ripa made an anti-gay statement. What!! Where is Rosie's mind? Oh, never mind...

But then on the “View,” Rosie's new show, Danny DeVito shows up drunk. Another train wreck, another casualty. But then again, if I had to show up on the same show as Rosie, I might have a couple of stiff ones just to go through with it.

I know I've missed a couple here & there, but I think you get the point. Hollyweird and all of it's various denizens are just, well, weird!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Revised Plans...

Well, I guess everyone's plans change.  Mine are.

On the good side, it looks like Christmas came early to the house.  Just finished wiring & hooking up a broadband connection to the house.  And it is nice and fast!  Better than dial-up any day.  Reasonable too - special through the cable TV company.

On the bad side, any of you looking at the Index will find that it's out of date.  With the recent sickness in the house and yours truly playing nurse (no catcalls out there!), plans for getting much of anything done in the way of blogging & updates went way by the wayside.

Trying to figure out how to modify this template to work with Blogger Beta is just not worth it.  I'll probably change this template to one of the canned ones & work from there.  Not happy about it - put in a lot of work on the template, but the new ones definitely have some advantages.  Just need some time to do it, and make sure Haloscan works with the new template.

Changing to a new blog hosting site probably isn't worth it either.  Awardspace may be a free server, but hosting a blog is not good on that site.  All that needs to happen is for the database portion of the server to get overloaded, and poof!! no blog.  The web portion of the server is OK though, and haven't had any problems there.  So if any of you want to play around with making up your own pages on a free server would work.  Besides, most of you are tied into Blogger anyway, and I've found a decent offline editor for Blogger, so I'll probably be sticking with Blogger.

So if there are changes to the site, don't panic!  It's just another work in progress.