Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ethnic Cleansing

Recently Radovan Karadzic was arrested for war crimes stemming from the conflict in Bosnia. This is a guy who came up with the term 'ethnic cleansing'. This is a guy who oversaw the genocide against Muslims in Bosnia. Granted he described it as 'ethnic shifting'.... still - the thnking behnd it was that certain people, depending on their ethnicity, were not welcomed. In Bosnia men were rounded up and murdered. Killed in cold blood.

And the world is repulsed.

So... we had Rwanda and Bosnia and we're thinking that ethnic cleansing is wrong.

And yet....

Welcome to America in the year 2008. Congress has failed to pass any meaningful immigration laws so enforcement has fallen to states and local levels. ICE - the Immigration Custom Reform agency, is now enacting workforce enforcement - raiding different places around the country.

The solution to Congress's failure to enact any meaningful reform has become a policy of deportation by attrition. So we have stepped up raids throughout the country. The latest was in Pottsville, IA at a raid at a Kosher plant.

So why am I talking about this while talking about Radovan Karadzic?

I'd respectfully suggest that our current immigration policy is a form of non-violent ethnic cleansing. We're rounding up brown people and making sure it's so painful to live here that they will voluntarily move away.

Let's make this clear - our official policy right now is to make life such hell for people here that they self deport. We will have an official policy to make certain people... people of an paticular ethnic background... so un-welcomed in our communities that they move.

This isn't the America I believe in.
Is it yours?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another voice of reason...

Jill over at Imagine 2050 had a nice post today on Hometown Heros in Chicago. We forget how quickly immigrants can be integrated when we value what they do...

If they play baseball for our favorite team? LET THE HEROS IN! If they work 12+ hours a day picking fruit and vegetables? DEPORT THE CRIMINALS!?! (I admit don't get it...)

Let's not forget the millions of immigrants who are working hard every day to make this country better. I wonder how we'd categorize these immigrants?

Imagine 2050 is a great blog. You ought to check them out:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Remember when we use to hope for good things and not against bad things?

Neither do I....

Call me crazy for wanting to hope for something better....
When did HOPE become a bad word?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Speaking of immigration...

Stewart knocked it out of the park with this one....
Immigration bit begins at 6:10...

Guest Blogger - On neighbors and immigration

My brother Doug had an experience worth sharing....

I was an eyewitness this week to some of the worst aspects of humanity: fear, distrust, defensiveness. It was a single incident that happened behind my neighbor’s house. Running behind the houses on my street is a walking trail that weaves through some woods and along a creek and a small lake. Several children, including my 3 sons, were playing at the edge of those woods, checking out the creek, throwing rocks in the water – typical kid stuff. I was in the backyard when I heard my neighbor, let’s call her ‘Liz’, talking to someone, in a tone of voice that clearly suggested she was annoyed or angry:

“Hey you – can I help you?…………Hello? What are you doing?......Leave………excuse me...GO!”

As she was saying this I looked up to see who she was talking to and saw a landscape worker, dirty, sweaty, his weed-whacker resting over his shoulder, standing just on the other side of her fence. He was standing there looking at the children, just watching what they were doing. I could see he was Hispanic and he turned his head to acknowledge her but then just smiled and turned his head away, not moving on like she wanted. I think this clearly upset her all the more as she got louder with each new question or command she issued, thinking he was purposefully ignoring or disregarding her.

With a glance at the scene outside her fence, she had immediately turned to fear, distrust and defensiveness. Her words, tone and body language were conveying “You aren’t welcome here, I don’t trust you, what the heck do you think you are doing just standing there looking at the children?, and you better get out now.” Without a single word of dialog, the man was assumed to be, at best, an uninvited, unwanted person in the community and at worst, a dangerous threat. Because he was an immigrant, a laborer, he was most likely a criminal with ill intent. If he had been a white man dressed like an executive in a pressed business suit, I am certain he wouldn’t have received the same response – at the very least not in the same dismissive tone.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I am somewhat conversational in Spanish. I could clearly see that he didn’t understand her so I walked over to help out. José Antonio Rio is part of the landscape crew that cuts the grass and does all the landscape work on the common areas in the neighborhood. He was easily 50-60 years old, had a warm, gentle smile and had been working a full day already, with dirt and bits of grass plastered to the front of his jeans. He’s from El Salvador and told me about how bad it had been there during the war, when so many women and children were slaughtered. He is a grandfather and was quick to point out that the grass around the rocks in the drain water ditch was getting too high and was dangerous for the little children who would trip if they couldn’t see where to step. He had been busting his tail keeping our community looking nice and was just taking a break before finishing his work (cutting the grass around those rocks) and meeting up with the rest of the crew. What a thank you.

To end the story, the three of us ended up having great conversation. When Liz found out he had a reason for being there and stopped assuming he was a threat to her property, herself or her child, you could tell she felt horrible at the way she had been talking to him. She even went up to the house and got José a cold cup of water and offered to do the same every time he came through.

Now, to her defense, Liz is a widowed single mom, new to the neighborhood, with a 9 year old son. I am sure her life experiences and circumstances have encouraged or taught her to be protective. I’m not trying to condemn her at all. I’ve seen prejudice in different forms in my own heart at times, as much as I hate to admit it. It just showed me a glimpse of how hateful or distrustful we can be toward others – particularly whole groups of people who are ‘different’ than us, whether in culture or class.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Who knew?

No doubt it's torture, says U.S. journalist after trying waterboarding

"Then two or three levels of towel were placed on the outside of my face so I was completely oblivious to the outside world, couldn't hear or see anything and was wondering how I was going to carry on breathing … and then water began coming through the towel into my nostril and that was the situation."

A wet hand was also held over his face and breathing in caused the wet towel to cover his nose.

"It had the effect very rapidly of inducing a panic and gag reflex," Hitchens said. "It's almost impossible to avoid doing that, even though … you have some idea of what's coming and what's going on, your system overrides your brain in a sense and all you want to do is make sure you're not breathing water."

My favorite part from the graphic "Origins traced to the Spanish Inquisition". And we said we didn't know it was torture....

Wait! Let me kiss my civil liberties goodbye!

Once upon a time in a great land there were a people who valued freedom. But then something bad happened and the people grew fearful. Soon, they were giving up those freedoms in exchange for promised security.

"Have we got a deal for you!" says Lamperd Less Lethal... "Instead of giving you a ticket to get on the plane, we're going to fit you with an electronic bracelet that we can trigger at any moment if you get unruly... er, we mean appear to be taking over the plane."

See - we all get to wear shock collars and if we get out of line? ---------------------------->

Don't believe me? See for yourself.

And hey - there is the added bonus of being able to track your movements anywhere in the airport.

I guess my question is... why stop at the airports? I'm sure we have unruly people running around on trains... metros... buses... hell, on the sidewalks!

We could fit infants at birth. They'd carry all the bio-genetic information needed. The government (who else would you trust to watch out for you?) could monitor us and if someone seems to pose a threat, just tase them. The police will be along to pick up the twitching body from the sidewalk and take them to a ... what shall we call it? Behavior modification facility? Re-education camp? Somewhere where they'll be made into a safe citizen.
It's for our protection don't you see? And if you're not going to take over the plane, why would you oppose wearing a shock collar? Besides, if you don't wear a shock collar - you're probably for the terrorists. And you probably hate the troops.

For light reading check out Huxley's Brave New World, or Orwell's 1984, or Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A one way ticket please

Some 3000 years ago the Egyptians worshiped Apophis, an evil god of destruction, "a demon that was determined to plunge the world into eternal darkness."

(Picture not enough? Click it for a fun end of the world video.)

And some genius in our time decided to name an asteroid after him (her?). Like out of a Hollywood picture our heroes discover there is a giant space rock flying toward Earth that has "an outside chance of hitting the Earth in 2036, and would release more than
100,000 times the energy released in the nuclear blast over Hiroshima."

A couple of things to note....

1) None of us really have any concept of 100,000 times the energy released at Hiroshima. All we know is it was bad and this will be worse. But how much worse? Destroy all of Japan or all of Earth? Relax... The Earth will survive. The species on it however....

2) In Hollywood they find out they've only got a week to train the crew to fly into space and destroy the asteroid. In reality we've got awhile....

So now I'm going to relax... Wait? What's that you say Mr. Scientists?

"It may be a decision in 2013 whether or not to go ahead with a full-blown mitigation mission, but we need to start planning it before 2013," said Prof Fitzsimmons. In 2029, astronomers will know for sure if Apophis will pose a threat in 2036. If the worst-case scenarios turn out to be true and the Earth is not prepared, it will be too late. "If we wait until 2029, it would seem unlikely that you'd be able to do anything about 2036," said Mr Yates.

Oh great... and here I was worried about the subprime mortgage implosion and its effects on the economy.

I'm not actually sitting around waiting for the end of the world, but it does beg the question, what should we do as a species?

I think we need to get off this rock and establish some other places to live. That means a huge investment in exploration and colonization. Yes, I know it seems crazy, but why put all our eggs (and sperm and babies and ... and... ) in one planet? We know there will be asteroid strikes in the future. They've happened in the past and there is no reason to expect that we'll dodge all the bullets. Perhaps we'll get the technology up in time to divert or capture and mine potential threatening asteroids.
(EARTH FIRST! We'll mine the other planets later!)
By the way - do a search on for Apophis.. there are a dozen videos out there.

I actually got my information from a real news source.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Birthday USA

Happy Birthday America - Muppets Style


From the Mouths of Babes...

We're in the car when my daughter begins to whine about something...

Me: Honey - I can't understand a word you are saying....

My son: It's OK Dad... I speak whine. I'll translate....

And making it all worth it....

We took the kids to see the new Pixar flick Wall-E. Very nice, very cute. This was her first movie in a theater and only his second. We went in the afternoon to get the matinee price. It is a great movie and we all loved it. Still.... $27 for tickets and another $16.50 for popcorn and a drink (large that we all split) I was feeling somewhat robbed...

As we walked out my wife was carrying my daughter who pulled in close, said "I'll always remember this", and gave my wife a big hug...

The Magic of Summer

Last night we watched as our kids ran through the field catching fireflies.... It is a magical time...

Welcome home - now turn over the laptop

An article today in the Baltimore Sun made me imagine our 'heightened alert' in the war on terror is becoming a slow slide into a police state. Don't get me wrong, we ought to protect our country from would be terrorists or criminals - but how far do we go?

Customs Agents can seize a laptop for 'random inspection'. They keep it for a couple of weeks, comb through it and return it. Sounds reasonable if you don't need it for work or don't want people reading your personal emails. Except for me, it's not reasonable.

The refrain - "if you don't have anything to hide you shouldn't worry" - worries me. Somehow in the name of freedom we've been asked to give up our freedoms....

If only we had some sort of legal protection.... Something like, oh I don't know... a Constitutional Amendment?

Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A threat?

I never thought homosexual marriage was a threat.... Now I understand. Thanks GOP.

Helmet tip to Jesus' General

(War for your Mind full disclosure: Just because someone is a hypocrite does not negate their argument. So we must take their arguments as presented. Still, I find the GOP's Marriage Protection Amendment nothing more than bigotry. And the hypocrisy on top of it just makes me sick.)

Our Secret Little War...

Who doesn't love a secret little war now and then?

Apparently Our Government.

And when I say 'our government' I'm mostly talking about the current administration, though it seems the Democratic leadership isn't doing a lot to stop things.

In a nutshell, we have soldiers and spies running around inside Iran, grabbing people, killing people. We're assured they're all bad guys of course... but in making friends with the enemies of Iran, apparently we've started funding Sunni fundamentalists...
The Administration may have been willing to rely on dissident organizations in Iran even when there was reason to believe that the groups had operated against American interests in the past. The use of Baluchi elements, for example, is problematic, Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. clandestine officer who worked for nearly two decades in South Asia and the Middle East, told me. “The Baluchis are Sunni fundamentalists who hate the regime in Tehran, but you can also describe them as Al Qaeda,” Baer told me. “These are guys who cut off the heads of nonbelievers—in this case, it’s Shiite Iranians. The irony is that we’re once again working with Sunni fundamentalists, just as we did in Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties.” Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is considered one of the leading planners of the September 11th attacks, are Baluchi Sunni fundamentalists.
Well, all I know is we need to trust our government. They obviously know better than we do...

Heck, what could go wrong?