Just Jihad: February 2008: Archives

February 23, 2008

Iraq Alternatives: What Could We Buy With That Money? genre: Just Jihad & Video-Philes

In all the back and forth over the merits of the war in Iraq, we often hear about the money being spent but we're rarely presented with the specific items that could be purchased with that same cash.

The following video does just that. It provides a laundry list of the things that could be purchased for the American people with the money it costs to prosecute the war for one single day.

When one thinks about the war in this way...not to mention the many other costs including the loss of life...it is an astounding contrast and a stark reality check.

However, what ultimately amazes me is the arguments we have endured and will continue to endure during peace time...you know...the arguments that we can't afford health care, we can't assure that Social Security will survive, we can't afford to address poverty or homelessness, we cant assure that a college education is available to all of our citizens, and many more.

It begs an important question -- Why can we afford limitless spending on death and destruction and so little on the basic needs of the American citizenry?

H/T to The Bilerico Project

Tagged as: Deficit Spending, Education, Health Care, Homelessness, Iraq War, Military Spending, National Debt, Poverty, Social Security

Daniel DiRito | February 23, 2008 | 5:19 PM | link | Comments (0)
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February 19, 2008

One Unforeseen Crisis Away From A Military Draft? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

Draftcard.jpg

The fact that the bulk of the American public's military assessments are filtered through the prism of the powers that be...a la the Bush administration...can be rather misleading and may well engender a false sense of security. Implied in these assessments is an assurance that our nation is being sufficiently protected from harm. It's not only possible that this is a rose colored view; we may be one unforeseen crisis away from the need to reinstitute a military draft.

A survey of a few thousand current and former military officers overwhelmingly concludes that our military has been stretched dangerously thin by the war in Iraq. What the survey doesn't state may be the ominous six hundred pound gorilla in the room.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military has been stretched dangerously thin by the Iraq war, according to almost 90 percent of retired and current military officers polled on the state of America's armed forces.

Eighty percent said it would be unreasonable to expect the U.S. military to wage another major war successfully at this time, according to the poll by the Center for a New American Security think tank and Foreign Policy magazine.

More than 3,400 serving and retired officers took part in the poll, organizers said. Around 90 percent were retired officers, a large majority had combat experience and about 10 percent had served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"We are putting more strains on the all-volunteer force than it was ever designed to bear," Army Lt. Col. John Nagl, a prominent counterinsurgency expert, said at a panel discussion in Washington on Tuesday to announce the results of the survey.

Eighty-eight percent of respondents said the U.S. military had been stretched dangerously thin by Iraq. Sixty percent said the military was weaker than five years ago, 25 percent said it was stronger and 15 percent said it was about the same.

Truth be told, most Americans still look at military service as an abstract notion that rarely hits home. Yes, they are aware of the failings evidenced during the execution of the Iraq war and the tragic and prolonged loss of life...but they rarely have to worry that their family members might face the prospect of a draft.

If this survey provided only one insight, it should be a recognition that we may be one military crisis away from the necessity to reinstate a policy of involuntary military service. Even more disquieting is the prospect that we may not be able to properly respond to an unexpected military conflict.

In reality, the implementation of a draft would not facilitate an instantaneously fortified military nor would it come without a tremendous price tag. Hence, we could well find ourselves in the unenviable position of having to prioritize our military engagements...or prosecute them with dangerously compromised strategies.

Not only does that suggest a level of vulnerability not seen since being forced to ramp up in order to meet the challenge of past World Wars...it points out just how absurd it was for George Bush to ask Americans to go shopping in the aftermath of 9/11. It also demonstrates the inherent short-sightedness of our commander in chief and the degree to which he prefers placation and prevarication to the direct dissemination of the low-down.

The fact that we have repeatedly found ourselves in unrevealed and/or unexpected positions and predicaments suggests that Americans shouldn't take comfort in the assurances that a draft is out of the question.

A look at the recent Pakistani election and the evaporating power of Pervez Musharraf highlights our current president's propensity to put all of America's proverbial eggs into one basket. All too often that basket has turned out to be a leaky sieve filled with little more than broken and empty shells. The need for a draft may be the next egg scheduled for a surprise scrambling. That would not be a delectable dish.

Tagged as: 9/11, George W. Bush, Iraq, Military Draft, Military Preparedness, Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, War

Daniel DiRito | February 19, 2008 | 9:14 PM | link | Comments (2)
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February 15, 2008

Just Because You're Gay? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Just Jihad

Prejudice Is Ignorance

Recent news events highlight some of the issues that routinely concern gays. It's not the first time and it won't be the last time that we see a confluence of events. However, as one reviews the content of these stories, one begins to see the connections and the consequences that result from the ongoing onslaught to demonize and deny gays the rights afforded to their straight counterparts.

The first item is the shooting of a gay 15-year-old boy in Oxnard California by his 14-year-old classmate.

Prosecutors filed a charge of murder with a hate-crime enhancement Thursday against a 14-year-old boy in the school shooting of a classmate who has been declared brain dead.

Prosecutors said they would try Brandon David McInerney as an adult. They changed the charge from attempted murder after learning that the victim, 15-year-old Lawrence King, will not survive.

Several classmates have said King would wear feminine attire, making him an unpopular figure with other boys at his campus.

King sometimes came to school wearing makeup and high heels, said eighth-grader Nicholas Cortez, 14.

Another eighth-grader, Michael Sweeney, said King's appearance was "freaking the guys out," the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

"He would come to school in high-heeled boots, makeup, jewelry and painted nails - the whole thing," Sweeney told the Times.

King was shot in the head Tuesday during a class at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, police said. More than 20 other students were in the room at the time.

As I've read about this incident, the thing that struck me is the focus placed upon the "freaked out" reactions of the victim's male classmates. The notion that the mannerisms and dress of a gay student can be viewed as responsible for the irrational responses of the other students exemplifies the degree to which gay teens are victimized by the homophobic indoctrination happening in the homes of millions of families. Instead of having these reactions rebuffed, the attention...and the blame...is shifted to the source. Even worse, the source is dehumanized such that they are soon seen as an expendable representation of the ideological conflict.

It's one thing to not understand the behaviors of others...or to reject them...but it's entirely inappropriate to decide that one has the right to inflict hatred and scorn upon them simply because they are different. Our capitalist culture of conformity only exacerbates the problem. It's the peer pressure to have the right kind of SUV, the nice house in the suburbs, the right brands of clothing, the cell phone and the iPod...all the trappings that have come to be associated with meeting the norms of acceptability.

Further, there is little doubt that this particular brand of hatred (and many others) is taught to children by their parents. There seems to be a belief that simply being near a fellow student who is gay is an implicit threat that warrants and justifies a negative response. As such, the degree to which differentness creates dissonance...and the grounds for violence...has become a palpable pathology.

Not only is that wrong; it is a demonstration of the degree to which children are being encouraged to conclude that the world revolves around their thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. With this particular incident, I suspect the enabling attitude results from the actions of men like James Dobson and Pat Robertson. These religious zealots have sought to assert that the vilification of gays is biblically justified and supersedes the rule of law.

Let me be clear...these men and their organizations don't directly encourage murder or violence...but they frequently allude to events as God's wrath upon gays. At the same time, the mantra that activist judges are forcing Americans to accept the unacceptable further fosters a disregard of our judicial system and enhances a vigilante mindset. When this is done on a regular basis, they signal tacit approval to those who act inappropriately and lack the maturity and the ability to exhibit proper restraint.

Children in Christian schools and homes that embrace men like Dobson and Robertson are constantly bombarded with the assertion that gays are destroying the family and the values they identify with. They hear their parents supporting amendments to ban same-sex marriage, opposing the granting of basic rights to gay couples through civil unions, railing against the "militant homosexual agenda", opposing diversity training in schools, opposing any education that attempts to inform children about homosexuality without condemning it.

I'm of the opinion that enrolling children directly in these battles is harmful to their psyches and is likely a form of brainwashing. Hence, these children are led to believe that a war exists...a war that pits them and their families against a widespread assault from gays. Is it any wonder that some of these children take the next step and engage in the activities they associate with war?

Toss in the fact that some politicians have sought to characterize terrorism as another assault on our way of life and the religious beliefs we hold and one begins to see the possible pressures confronting some of these children. The holy wars they hear about each day suddenly become a subtle directive to act...to become a soldier and vanquish the enemies they come to believe threaten them, their families, and their way of life.

Let's look at another item in the news.

From The Mercury News:

SAN FRANCISCO - As California's highest court prepares to take up a case seeking to legalize same-sex marriage, two groups that failed to get gay marriage bans on the state ballot two years ago are trying again, one with backing from a prominent Christian conservative organization.

The groups, ProtectMarriage.com and VoteYesMarriage.com, have filed ballot language with the California Secretary of State that would, if approved by voters, amend the California Constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman regardless of how the Supreme Court rules.

"The very fact that this is in front of the Supreme Court, I think, will highlight the need for voters to take the issue away from the courts period," said Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for ProtectMarriage.com.

By enshrining the two laws that already prevent gays from marrying in the state Constitution, both amendments would overrule the justices if they decide the current statutes are an unconstitutional violation of the civil rights of same-sex couples. The court is expected to issue it's ruling by early June.

The VoteYesMarriage initiative would go a step further, however, by prohibiting the state from granting gays the spousal rights and tax benefits of marriage, as it already has by allowing gays to register as domestic partners. If it passed, those rights would be eliminated.

Clearly, the rhetoric of these groups never seems to match their actions. Despite constantly stating they are simply upholding the religious sanctity of marriage and aren't interested in denying basic rights, they inevitably attach the denial of basic rights to their amendments. Time and again, these measures seek to erase any rights currently afforded to gays as they ultimately view any validation as a loss in their war to eradicate societal acceptance of homosexuality. While they carefully cloak their words when speaking in public (they hate the sin, but love the sinner), I suspect the tone is far more derogatory in the home setting.

If one listens to the constant references to the rapture and the end of days, one becomes aware of the simmering animosities that exist as well as the unspoken calls to engage the forces they deem will be responsible for facilitating them. Again, this constant vilification is apt to trigger actions that dehumanize and demonize others. The fact that young people frequently act out these prejudices simply affirms the pervasive and persuasive nature of the propaganda.

In the end, the rhetoric of intolerance has many victims. While it is impossible to condone the actions of the 14-year-old boy who killed his classmate, it is possible to see that he may also be a victim of a culture that promotes the initiation of bigotry and hatred in innocent children at an early age. Fortunately, many individuals have the capacity to adjust their perceptions once they have had the opportunity to encounter the people they have been taught to assail. Sadly, as is too often the case, the damage done can be so severe that violence is the inevitable outcome.

The fact that the parents of these children are not held accountable is a stain on humanity. We're left to hope it will someday be removed. In the meantime, the bad news will persist.

Tagged as: Bigotry, Brian McInerney, California, E.O. Green Junior High, Gay, Gay Bashing, Homophobia, James Dobson, Lawrence King, LGBT, Oxnard, Parenting, Pat Robertson, Prejudice, Same-Sex Marriage, Transgender, Transsexual

Daniel DiRito | February 15, 2008 | 10:14 AM | link | Comments (0)
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