Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Obama Campaign: Politics and Sinking Ships

Hi Folks...

I've stayed away from this list (TexasforObama) for a little bit, in part because of some minor disappointments with Obama in recent weeks, but more so because of the feuding and flaming that's gone rampant in here over those same few weeks - some of which I may even be responsible for. For that part, I apologize - outright, without condition.

However, now that the primary is over (perhaps...), and the real work begins, we seem to be falling upon one another like a pack of crazed rats on a sinking ship. Granted, the ship may have sprung a few righteous leaks (apparent position shifts), but I'm confident that the bilges and pumps are working as advertised, and the ship is nowhere near sinking -- listing, a little, maybe, but not yet sinking...

You have some problems. I have some problems. We have some problems. Your and my hot-button issues likely aren't the same, any more than our reactions to them (or threats to them) would be the same. The things you're willing to overlook may indeed be my hot-button issues, and vice versa. None of them are "petty," from our admittedly limited, subjective perspectives; nor are they "pretty." But, it takes all kinds to form a coalition -- us.

All that said, are we so willing to trash such a bright and hopeful campaign, just at the moment when the real work becomes evident? If so, then likely we will get a McSame in the White House, eight more years of the same, and possibly even WWIII - all the worst elements of the Bible and Nostradamus, if Iran is dragged into the morass - if you believe in that sort of thing...

We promised to reach out to Hillary and her supporters with consolation, assistance and inclusion, but we haven't done it. Rather than helping their wounds heal, we've let (even encouraged) them to fester and explode. Look at the list: Were we really healing the rift, our membership should be growing phenomenally. Instead, we're steadily declining. Why?

We promised to include Independents (rudderless), disaffected Republicans (the enemy), and even Reagan Democrats (traitors) into the fold and merge agendas. Have we? Really? When?

We promised to reach out to the other side of the aisle, to forge compromises and build bridges for further communication. But, whenever Obama does it, or when one of us even suggests it, the rest of us fall all over ourselves to level the first broadsides (back to the sinking ship analogy), at Barack, and at one another in the list, as we rush to take hot-button-issue-driven sides. Coalitions are about compromise, but apparently, we'll have none of that...

So, what's left? Do we stand, granite on marble, holding tightly, desperately, to one or two personal hot-button issues, while the rest of the country sinks into an abyss beneath us? Last I heard, neither granite nor marble float real well. Are we willing to work for the greater outcomes we all need, or, to complete the ship analogy, will we still be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, with its fantail in the air, while McSame takes the Oath of Office? Your call.

San Antonio, Texas USA

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Crime of Terrorism: A question of Perception

(or, How to Marginalize the Bogeyman)

In listening to the back-and-forth repartee between Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Republican candidate John McCain, as well suffering the past seven years worth of rants by the current US political administration, on the topics of “Terrorism,” and how to handle “Terrorists,” I've had to revisit some of my long disused earlier education to make sense of it all. It doesn't make sense.

Terrorism, as much as the US' current political administration would have us believe otherwise, is not a singular enemy associated with a singular political mindset or religious philosophy. There are recorded instances of terrorism historically in the Talmud, The Bible, The Q'uran, the Book of Mormon, other major and minor religious works, and most secular histories. There are recorded instances of terrorism in most countries, on all continents, under all types of political and religious structures, in nearly all revolutions, and for all sorts of reasons.

However, what the current US administration doesn't tell us, and really doesn't care for you and me to understand is that terrorism is a tool, nothing more, and is most often employed by criminals, fanatics, reactionaries, revolutionaries, and other sundry miscreants, as a last resort when all other methods, legitimate or otherwise have failed.

Remember this: Terrorism is a tool, not an enemy. Once we have that concept nailed and internalized, it becomes rather moronic (pathetic?) to consider fighting a “War on Terror.” Such a “war” has the equivalence of a carpenter declaring war on his competitor's hammer, or a farmer declaring war on his neighbor's harvester. Neither the hammer nor the harvester can do anything without the carpenter to swing it, nor the farmer to drive it. Though, in these instances, the tools can be used either constructively or destructively, whereas acts of terror cannot. Terror, like a bomb or an assault rifle, is a tool of crime or war, not the enemy itself, and can only be used destructively.

Most civilized nations have solid conventions against the use of terror, and also have discrete means of dealing with terrorists -- capturing them, trying them as common criminals, and sentencing them to either death or lengthy prison terms. And believe me, a terrorist would last about as long in a prison's general population as a would child molester.

The point here is that I believe we should take the “War on Terror” off the front burner, deny alleged terrorists their media political forum for potential martyrdom, and try them as the criminals they truly are. The more we hype the “War on Terror,” the bigger the forum we provide.

If we were to reverse that mindset, and begin treating suspected terrorists as common criminals with petty ambitions, then we acknowledge the act, but marginalize actor, and thus deny him his day in the light as a martyr. Were that to occur often enough, the enthusiasm for jihad might indeed fade to a manageable level. It worked in Europe with the Red Brigade, in Ireland with the IRA, and in the US with the Weathermen and other mad bombers. All were terrorists, employing the tools of terror. They were eventually trivialized, treated as common criminals, and their organizations have, for the most part gone away.

All that said, I believe Mr. Obama's approach to handling terrorists and combatants captured and held in Guantanamo and other places is right on the mark. We need to sort the wheat from the chaff in Guantanamo and whatever other various prisons we maintain around the world.

For combatants captured on the field of battle, we need to treat them as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions, with full access to humanitarian organization scrutiny.

For terrorists, and terrorist conspirators, we need to move them to US jails or prisons, try them as the common criminals they are, and sentence them to lengthy prison terms in some of our nastier general populations. They're no longer “terrorists,” and they don't become martyrs – just common criminals serving their time, and badly at that. They're trivialized and marginalized. Then, watch terrorism die – for now...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hello, and ... Welcome to Our World...

I'd like to open this fairyland with a friendly greeting to anyone who might happen by...


Long, long ago, in the computer bulletin board days before the internet (nearly 20 years ago...), I participated a small group like the one I'd like to start with this blog, wherein people of thought might wander by, or might enter together for a time, to share their thoughts with one another, and to leave feeling the richer in mind and spirit for the sharing. Some drifted in and out. Some came to stay. It was a unique, interesting world.

It was a place of impression as much as fact; inductive and deductive reasoning; spiritual and logical influences; observation and projection; faith, hope, thought and deed. The group was multi-disciplinary, and multi-visionary, claiming among its members plumbers, ministers, tv news anchors, teachers, scientists, psychologists, pagans, computer geeks, truck drivers, sci-fi fanatics, gays and lesbians, stay-at-home moms, cops, convenience store clerks, and even a few bright high schoolers. The ticket for admission to the group was a relatively open mind, and the demonstrated ability to think, both in- and outside the box, and to respect that the other group members would be thinking as well. Critical thinking, flashes of insight, esoteric philosophy, music, mathematics, and even the feeling of "being called" were welcome.

Our group theme was at once simple and complex: to see how many events or occurrences in the world we could connect to other events and occurrences, and to see if we might possibly pursue them back to root causes or whether we might project other events and occurrences if the event under review continued. We got pretty accurate for a time. Then, the group faded away and died...

No topic was sacrosanct: anything and everything was open to discussion and debate, with a few, but steadfastly unbreakable cardinal rules:

The first was that no one would claim, with absolute authority, to have "the answer" to a given question or position, whether supported by religion, science, law, morality or "common wisdom." We attempted to look past these "wedges" to the roots and ends of real events and occurrences. (We eschewed the word, "problem.")

Secondly, due to the inflammatory nature of many views, often opposing, absolute respect was required. Flame wars, personal insults, and "my god trumps your god" positions were forbidden, and were dealt with quickly and severely. When in doubt, die-hards were referred to rule one.

And finally: ABSOLUTELY NO MEETINGS in the real world off-list. Again, given the inflammatory nature of many of the topics, the broad admixture of participants, and the inclusion of minors participating in the group, the legal and moral issues were considered too great to allow personal meetings of any kind.

All that said, is there room for such a group in the internet world of today? Fidonet and computer bulletin boards were much quieter, "under the radar," and much more intimate than the internet of today. If there is room, and you might like to participate, the by all means, drop by, leave a comment, or even suggest a topic to get the ball rolling. In the words of 'Mother Abigail," You're all welcome here!