Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mission Impossible: Bar Set Too High for Iraq?

Finally, President George W. Bush has set goals and a definition of "victory" in Iraq. The White House recently released the President's "Strategy for Victory in Iraq" on their website. I haven't read the whole thing, but there's a nice little executive summary on the link. I might just print out the whole thing and use it for toilet reading or a bedtime story.

The executive summary shows a noble, almost humanitarian exercise from President Bush, and almost impossible mission to accomplish for the United States. I highly doubt that the United States itself can achieve within our own country what the President is outlining for Iraq.

I know what you are thinking. This is a plan for Iraq. Yes, it is. But, substitute Iraq in the executive summary with United States and see that in many of the goal statements, there is at least one point that even we in the United States have not accomplished in our almost 225 years of existence. How are we going to be able to accomplish these goals in a country that has lived thousands of years as a completely different culture and society than our own?

I think it is the intention, be it conscious or not, that the President will have this war persist in perpetuity. Yes, this is a time to start praying, if you haven't already done so already (if 9/11 didn't wake your spiritual senses, arouse them now). The Middle East has historically been a hot bed for unrest, and now our country thinks it can change all that by war, with little to no recourse or negative repercussions.

I think this Iraq War was originally played out to us as a quick war, just like the war on terror, we'd be in and out and it would hardly change our lifestyle and very few lives would be lost. Remember the 1990s Gulf War? Yeah, I'm thinking that when congress issued that blank war check to the President, that it would be just like the Gulf War. If you even just read this executive summary, you will see that the mission is not simple nor easy to accomplish.

The President wants to change the lifestyle and mindset of a people who have never collectively considered such a change. Changing someone else's mind is difficult to impossible, especially when they have been raised and conditioned to think otherwise. Now, we think that a war with all its violence and terror can change these people's minds to think more kind and considerate to each other, put aside their differences and live harmoniously? Get real.

War was not the answer from day one. We didn't need war to get Saddam Hussein out of power (that could have been accomplished covertly, by working with and empowering the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam themselves, thus giving themselves hope that they themselves could rebuild their country on their own). We don't need continued war to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people (unless we just want to upset the rest of the Iraqis who weren't upset at us before). We need to change our strategy from war to peace with Iraq. Work with the citizens of Iraq, not war with them.

Let them build their country. Sure they may just build another country that hates the United States, but I think that will happen regardless now that we have ticked them off with our violent war strategy.

Let's consider some history for a perspective. So, what were the perimeters with World War II? How was victory defined and accomplished for World War II? When did rebuilding begin, before or after victory was achieved? If you think back in history, we have achieved victory by removing Saddam Hussein from his leadership position, just as victory was achieved in the European theater by the demise of Adolf Hitler. Rebuilding Germany did not happen during the war. (Oh, I could bring up Grandpappy Prescott Bush's involvement in WWII, but maybe later.)

Yes, I know that we are trying to defeat terrorism. Psst. We will never defeat terrorism with violence. War defeats humanity. The only winners in war are the war businesses. Time is lost, kindness is lost, innocence is forever lost in time. The hearts of all who are involved in war are permanently scarred, and the ability to love is extinquished. War breeds all things hateful.

Read about CNN's email responses on the Iraq plan. What do you think of President Bush's Iraqi victory plan?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Blog Nog

The holidays are fast approaching! Are you ready? Nah? Me, neither.

Make some Blog Nog this year and get in the mood for the holidays! This is enough to serve a small party, or to over-indulge a party of one or two.

12 Egg Yolks, whipped
1 pound Granulated Sugar
1 quart Whole Milk
1 quart heavy cream, lightly whipped
12 Egg Whites, lightly whipped
1 cup Spiced Rum
1/2 cup Your Choice:
Scotch Whiskey (salute Scotch Tape, mighty conquerer of Sony's copy protected CDs" target="_blank">)
Bourbon (remember Katrina)
Vodka (commemorate the new Russian Black Sea pipeline), or
Brandy (honor the tradition of spinning proper-ganda)

Beat egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
In a saucepan over low heat, stir in whole milk and sugar.
Take the saucepan off the heat, and slowly pour mixture into eggs in the large mixing bowl, stirring constantly.
Put mixture back into saucepan and cook on low heat, stirring constantly and making sure it doesn't boil, until thickened.

Remove from heat and cool, then stir in vanilla, rum and your choice of liquor.
Chill 3-4 hours in refridgerator.

Make a heavenly cream by folding the lightly whipped heavy cream and egg whites together, then fold the heavenly cream in with the chilled mixture.
Serve Blog Nog cold and garnish with freshly ground nutmeg.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Pick Our Battles: Potter Pokes

Funny when you're trying to find something else online and wind up finding something that pertains to something that it is not intended... (See link in title.)

My mom listens to Christian radio quite a lot, religiously, I would say. And when Harry Potter came out, and then the Christian hype that it would make children Satan-worshippers, my mom heard it on Christian radio. And, you know Christian radio only espouses the truth.

When I happened upon this article on the web, I had to chuckle when I read it, because there were way too many undertones of other misgivings we hear so much as of late about terrorism and the Iraq war.

I'm not saying that everything we hear about terrorism and Iraq is parody (just most everything I hear), but that as Christians we need to pick our battles. And pick them wisely. Too often, we think that if we don't do something about it, some person under our watch will be damned to hell. Don't you think that our Christian God is too weak to do anything. Because he isn't.

God wants us to be vigilant to him, not to our enemies. Whenever we become more vigilant to our enemies (evil Harry Potter magic, or terrorism, or WMDs, or militant factions), the more we have turned our back on God (we can't think of both hatred and love at the same time). God will take care of our enemies, we just need to give our care to God.

So, what am I saying? We shouldn't fight terrorism? No, not exactly. As Christians, maybe we should fight terrorism the way God wants us to fight it... with God's love, not with selfish revenge. God will take care of the rest.

By the way, in this post Jen has been replaced by some spirit that actually thinks clearly and coherently, and values love above and beyond all else. I'm sure Jen will need to comment on her spirit's writing, so that she can retain her earthly desire to poke at things she really doesn't need to, unless it's for a laugh or two.

Do It My Way, Danes!

In many ways, Denmark is trying to stand out as a unique supporter to the United State's efforts to battle terrorism, as they have supplied troops to fight in Iraq practically since day one of US President Bush's crusade to get Sadam Hussein and render the Mesopotamian area a hell hole.

Now, the US is demanding that Denmark cut the cable on Roj TV and Mesopotamia TV, both networks broadcast from Denmark's capital city of Copenhagen and are run by the PKK, acknowledged terrorist organizations by both the US and Denmark. Don't you love it when we tell other countries how to govern? I'm sure we get that from other countries all the time.

Banning terrorist broadcasts here in the US is all a part of the war on terror. Really, its about people who have no regard for others and wish to add to their numbers and show them how to kill other people, and doing so through our public airwaves. I don't know about you, but I kind of like the fact that we protect our public airwaves from people who just want to use them to kill us. But, how far could this go?

Well, remember that rap cop killer song? Wasn't that banned from the airwaves? Don't we ban certain words from the airwaves? These may seem benign, but really there's a lot of mean music out there that have violent undertones. There's a lot of violence in many of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, so should Arnold be banned from the airwaves? There's the fine line and what crosses it and what doesn't. I think they use the benefit of the doubt sometimes.

But if the group is labeled terrorist, then the benefit of the doubt should be tossed out the window? What if they don't break any laws when they broadcast? What if they are only showing programs and movies similar to the violent ones made by Schwarzenegger and others that we in the US tolerate as entertainment? What if the group really isn't a terrorist group at all, and it only intends to bring to light and correct some of the misunderstandings, myths, and fallacies that may prevail in our society? What if the government is claiming they are terrorists and banning them to limit their freedoms that they ought to have, just to shut them up?

Denmark's Premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen is now caught in a bind. Rasmussen, who has apparently touted a libertarian stance, could hinder advancements in freedom of press if he bans these terrorist TV stations. However, this would be in keeping with his position to help the US in the war on terror.

So, what's it going to be, Denmark? You with US, or against US? Remember what we did to France...

(Psst. Who's the terrorist organizations here? I can't remember what that word "terrorist" means anymore.)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Substantial Penalty for Early Withdrawal?

Ok, ok... What are we talking about here? All this talk about a pullout, makes me wonder what task we are talking about here. Kind of reminds me of adolescent love gone too far. Well, if you don't want to get the girl pregnant and you didn't use protection, well, I think that is the best you can do.

(Ummm... Click on the Title for the link to the article.)

Oh, ok. That pullout. I don't think the two situations are that different. I think the Democrats think that we can still pullout now and hopefully deal with fewer repercussions of the Iraqi War for doing so. I think the Republicans think that well, heck, if we've already done the deed, then we might as well stay and enjoy it some more, 'cause it ain't gonna get any better than this. You see the analogy so far?

If we hadn't gotten so pushy and taken it to third base, then decided we need to hit a homerun with Iraq, we wouldn't be in this mess today. One side feels that to make the situation better is to cut our losses now and get out. The other side feels this is the best situation and we should just ease the seat back and enjoy the ride. One side is wearing nerdy glasses and felt lucky just to even be in your presence, while the other wafts of strong cologne and arrogance as he confidently says it's all going to be ok, let me make you feel good (while Van Halen's "Panama" pumps from his car stereo--1984, that was a great album, btw).

Then, there's the banker type who wants to threaten you with "substantial penalties for early withdrawal," when you know darn well that to keep the money in his bank would cost you considerably more than that 'substantial penalty' he's threatening you with. Ok, I know that doesn't follow the other analogy at all. But, it also makes sense in some odd way, too.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sister Jen Grabs Her Golden Ruler for This One

Class, I want all of you to see what naughty Georgy and Dick did yesterday. You see, it's not nice to be tossing your dirty laundry in an international meeting. Very naughty. Now, Georgy and Dicky, hold out your hands.

Next time there's a greivance with your political friends and foes, please don't drag it into your visits to international countries to announce it to the world. I don't think they really care about your little soap opera drama in Congress, anyway. And, exposing your dirty laundry in a foreign land just makes our country look more fractured and weak to other countries and we really don't want that, especially now.

Boys, I hope that this incident doesn't continue, and that these countries will understand and not use such talk against us later. I would normally ask you two to apologize to these Asian countries for exposing your dirty laundry to them, but in this instance you really should just apologize to the US for making such donkeys of your elephant's backside.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Muslim Defense

Dennis Prager of the LA Times is finally asking Muslims the questions that many of us have been milling in our heads ever since 9/11. This linked article is fascinating to read, just because it brings to light many of the frustrations I've encountered in trying to understand the proclaimed peaceful Muslim religion and culture and why they aren't outraged about these militant Muslims giving them a bad name and reputation.

He brings up a good point about the virtual non-existence of Christian terrorists. I think that after the negative effects from the crusades, Christians learned that to be Christian you have to follow Christ's example. I guess to answer why there are Muslim terrorists, we have examine their example, Muhammad, and see where there are similarities and differences to make an attempt to understand their perspective.

Oh, no. Am I getting too serious here? Oops. Depression sinking in... Eeck.

Nothing like Howard Jones' "Things Can Only Get Better" to get my toes tapping. "Whoa, whoa, who-o-ah..." It's really playing on the radio as I type. Ironic, eh?

Maybe these terroristic Muslims are listening to the wrong music. Maybe the solution to terrorism, instead war and torture, is to have them listen to positive, hope-filled music (hey, it worked in Ghost Busters 2, didn't it?).

Instead of army bases, we need to set up dance halls and discos that solely play positive, up beat, non-violent music. Maybe that's what we all need.

SMILE! And listen to positive music! You can make a difference.

They knew the time had come...

Last night I was watching the School House Rock DVD with my son and was struck when I heard this from one of the tunes:

Anything I say, do it my way now.
Anything I say, do it my way.
Don't you get to feeling independent
'Cause I'm gonna force you to obey.

... There's a section where there is talking in this tune that isn't listed on the lyrics sheet, but that is what really got me. It said basically that a country shouldn't withhold the basic rights of its citizens and when it does the citizens should demand a new government. I will write the verbage down and put it here later. --Stay tuned! ...

They knew the time had come
For them to take command.
It's very clear you're being unfair, King,
No matter what you say, we won't obey.

That was the tune, No More Kings. For some reason, I think this is the way revolutions are supposed to take place. It takes the willing work of the people wanting freedom to do it on their own. The more they depended on the King, the more that the King demanded and the more the King took advantage of them.

I don't think things are too differently in Iraq right now, nor are they too different here in the US. Even here in the US, we are seeing how government is taking advantage not only of the situation in Iraq but also how we are losing basic rights for the cause of the fight against terrorists. US Leaders are coming out of the woodwork to state their disdain for the state of human affairs and rights from the US government to other countries and to our own people. Among those leaders is the former President Jimmy Carter, who's kind and gentle disposition doesn't normally see such public outcry as his article "This isn't the real America" in the LA Times. Read the article, then please post your comments to the following questions.

So, are you ok with losing some basic rights to fight terrorism?

Are you ok with anyone representing the US to torture or advocate violence to anyone for any reason?

Should torture and violence be a primary activity for anyone representing the US?

On With The Show... This Is It!,5478,17267965^663,00.html,0,1558302.story?coll=la-story-footer&track=morenews

Sigh. I offer to you today not just one reference, but two. I think the first story shows how far we have to go to get Iraq back on its feet, the second how increasingly disgusted we as a country are becoming from all the violence and torture occuring in Iraq. Now, how the heck are we going to be able to pull out of Iraq will all this violence and torture going on, not only with insurgents and the new Iraqi forces, but also with the tendencies to torture without restraint from our own soldiers in Iraq (sometimes done just to let the soldiers vent frustrations--c'mon, that's not what the US is about, is it?).

So, what are your thoughts on the strategies the US should take to curb the torture and violence, and restore freedom and democracy in Iraq?

My personal thoughts: we need to do something drastic--get rid of the war mongers (US Soldiers who have no regard for humanity or respect for human life and enjoy torture) and send in the peacemakers (soldiers and diplomats who can show Iraq what it truly means to be free and democratic with humanity, respect, courtesy and kindness to their fellow humans).

Friday, November 11, 2005

Burning Bush

As the leaves on many trees have blessed us with their colorful fall folliage and have since given up their autumn luster to the wind, what's left is the bold burning bush. A shrub that continues its spectacular beauty far after the rest of the trees and bushes are left with skeletons of branches.

The burning bush, with those brilliant red colored leaves, keeps hope up when the winter wind is knocking at our doors.

How fitting the burning bush is red in the fall, and, ah, isn't it ironic that our political climate seems to be showing the same burning bush among the bare twigs and branches.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Another Beautiful Day... Let's Talk About the Weather

All this talk about global warming, and all I can think is, what a beautiful day! It is November in Northern Iowa and I am enjoying some of the best weather this region has seen in November.

Who cares about violence in France tapering off, or Fitzgerald's ongoing investigation of the CIA leak, or the continuing doom and gloom in the Middle East. Ok, ok, I do still care about the doom and gloom in the Middle East. Stop being so mean! I mean it! Cut it out, all of you. I don't care who started it, just stop it, all of you! (Man, do I feel like a mom.)

OK, back to the weather. Can't beat it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Making A Difference

Ever so often, I check out what the buzz is all about at Today, however, instead of feeling gloom and doom, I read a glimmer of hope.

If, in your community's quest of positive development, you have never heard of Curitiba in Brazil, then you really should check them out. Although my community is small and rural, we are still primarily hindered by many who spend so much time and effort to deny change.

With two major highways that bisect our community, we have easily become disconnected with each other and with the center of our small community. Our downtown sees more truck traffic than shoppers stopping to do business. The downtown truck traffic is just as much of an eye sore as the once beautiful old 19th century buildings that continue to decline and rot, regardless of their occupancy.

It seems almost unimaginable to transform a town center in a week, let alone a weekend. But Curitiba did it. And they aren't a rich community by any means.

Reading this excerpt inspired me knowing that although the local elections are over, it doesn't mean that we as caring, concerned citizens stop acting to help our communities. In fact, now is the time to start kicking our concern into overdrive and make change a good thing.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Voting Just Isn't As Fun As It Used To Be

Today, as an active and conscientious citizen, I voted. But, it just wasn't like it used to be. No fanfare of pulling the drapes shut. No kachunk of the vote when the lever's pressed down. No grand exit when the curtain is drawn. No intrigue. No mystery.

This is the second election our county has changed from the old, tried and true lever voting booths to the "new" optiscam (er, optiscan) ballots, and along with them, the cheap, cheesy and flimsy pseudo-aluminum framed boxes with a shelf and plastic on three sides for you to fill out your secret ballot. Man, these new voting booths are humiliating.

The old sturdy metal booths made a statement about the United States of America. They made a stately statement, and made you feel like you were a part of a strong democracy and that your vote was so well regarded that the booth was secure and felt almost virtually impenitrable. Just like your grandpa's Oldsmobile, those booths were built like tanks.

The new booths make me feel like the vote is insignificant and meaningless, even though I know the dire importance of my vote. The ballots are not even ballots anymore. They are school test sheets where you have to fill in the oval for your choice. I almost didn't vote for one of the sections because I didn't like any of the candidates, but that nagging teacher came into my head and said if you don't complete all of the questions with one answer each your test will be invalid, so I voted for the least offensive candidate.

Bring back that proud Made in the USA steel behemoth of a voting booth, and if anything, put the stupid touch screens in those monster voting booths and bring back some dignity to the voting process.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Something's Rotten in the State of Denmark...

Hamlet could not have stated it better... And it's not just in the state of Denmark. Hmmmm... It reminds me of something I wrote this past summer about Muslims infiltrating Europe. De ja vu? Oh, speaking of the French, what did they do to upset the Muslims so much? Cappucino too hot, or too cold? Not enough froth? And what about the isolated incidents of riots in Denmark? What's wrong with the Danish? They give you a cheese danish when you wanted an apple one?

I'm waiting for the day when the peaceful Muslims get together to protest the militant Muslim's actions and start singing REM's "Losing My Religion." But, I won't hold my breath on that. Oh, well.

Someone should check and make sure that those Europeans aren't getting lead poisoned in small doses, or that their rye bread doesn't have some odd infestations.

I wonder what Rosencranz and Guildenstern are saying as they dig those graves at the graveyard??

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Mile High... And Then Some

Yup. Denver did it. 54% of voters in Denver said its ok to possess an ounce or less of Mary Jane.

It's not so much of a surprise that the referendum to basically legalize marijuana in Denver would pass. They are the southern neighbor of Boulder, where it seems marijuana has temples of worship there (somewhere near Pearl Street Mall).

The law only protects persons in possession from prosecution only from Denver authorities, and there's still a $100 fine to pay for possession, but no jail time. The USA Today article likens this to a speeding violation.

I have never tried marijuana, but being at concerts where it was tried by many, I am sure there is some sort of enjoyment that can be had by smoking it. But, I am not a smoker. I have no idea. I just know that when I was in high school it was just as bad as LSD or Crack Cocaine--pure evil. Our Colorado neighbor friends mentioned how enjoyable it was when they were in college (I'm sure they didn't inhale). And, if you think about it, candy bar makers and pizza delivery places should be rejoicing in Denver right now, since it sounds like one of the side effects is that it not only makes one more mellow, they get hungry. I'm sure Scooby and Shaggy are considering a move to Denver.

Now you know what to do in Denver when you're dead...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Political Temper Tantrum

It looks like the reasons behind the Iraq War has finally festered into a political temper tantrum for the Senate Democrats.

Think of your 3 year old in your favorite super department store when seeing his favorite action figure demands to have it, and you ignoring his pleas, goes into a wild screaming and body thrashing frenzy of monumental proportions. Right there in the middle of the store. All you wanted to do is get laundry detergent, some pull-ups and overnight diapers (you know, to protect from leaks), and buy that "How to Raise a Supreme Court Judge" book you've been eyeing the past couple of days. There goes your plans to get that needed laundry detergent, and the diapers. And, you may as well forget about your aspirations for your future Supreme Court Judge.

"If you don't pipe down, we are marching right out of this store right now, Mister," you demand, like your 3-year-old cares about your agenda at the store.

"Buzz Lightyear, Buuuuzzzz, Mommy. I want Buzz!" your 3-year-old whines as he grabs the action figure in the box and presses the buttons.

"To infinity, and beyond," the toy declares as you, too, think that your child will whine to infinity and beyond, too. "Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!"

You sigh, knowing that the action figure's words might have some truth to it. "Yes, yes, Junior, Buzz Lightyear to the rescue. Now, put it in the cart and let's go. I've got shopping to do."

Makes you wonder what Fitzgerald has uncovered during his investigate about the outing of the CIA agent.... Hmmmm...

Will the saga in the Senate play out like the illustration in the store, or will the Democrats whine to infinity and beyond, or will the Republicans drag the Democrats out of the store kicking and screaming? Stay tuned to the exciting adventures of Danny the Democrat and Robbie the Republican in Crazytown on Nack Jr.