Archive for the 'Patriotism' Category

06
Dec
07

Patriotism, Or Symbolic Nationalism?

I recently read an interesting article about a proposed new Thai Patriotism law:

A proposed new law to boost patriotism in Thailand would be “chaotic” because it would require motorists to stop when the national anthem is played twice a day, lawmakers said Friday. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Now obviously, a law such as this could create serious other traffic problems for the already highly conjested Thailand streets. However the article raises a more universal question. What exactly is patriotism? What does it really mean to be patriotic?

The Oxford Dictionary defines it thus:

pat•ri•ot•ic /’pe{I}tri'{phon_capq}t{I}k; ‘paet; NAmE ‘pe{I}tri'{phon_capa}:t{I}k/ adj. having or expressing a great love of your country: a patriotic man who served his country well – [Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary online]

Now, by my reckoning that definition means that a patriotic persons actions are intended to benefit their country. Right? OK. With that in mind, Let’s look at this proposed Thai law. When everyone drops what they are doing, stops in the streets, etc., whenever the national anthem is played, is that a good thing or a bad thing for the country?

Yes, granted, It’s only a few minutes out of each day, but isn’t that a few minutes that people are actually not doing anything productive for thier country? Isn’t that largely a symbolic action, and not actually a beneficial one? Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all about being patriotic. It’s just that nowadays I’m not entirely sure that we are all on the same page about what it really means.

I’m just saying…

Patriotism law seeks to halt cars for anthem – [Yahoo/Reuters]

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10
Oct
07

Contrary to what the evidence might suggest…

You know, one of the things I find amazing about the current administration is how flexible their definition of events and scenarios are. And how they see whatever they want to see, and declare whatever they see fit, ratified by presidential decree. Even when it is obvious as the light of day that the truth is actually contradictory to the presidents view of things.

Like the President declaring “Mission Accomplished” without having achieved any of the stated mission goals. Or that the national outrage about the war in Iraq is little more than the opinions of a focus group. Or even that global warming is a natural phenomenon. Or that you can win a war with terrorists using conventional warfare. Or that you can introduce national stability into a country torn by civil war using the aforementioned conventional warfare. I could go on, but I think the picture is abundantly clear.

But then again I’ve never governed a country. But when former presidents of said country begin to speak out against the current administrations actions then, well, hey there has to be some merit to it right? Apparently not.

Former president Jimmy Carter, in a recent interview, called out the president on the issue of prisoner torture and the violation of human rights, in regard to:

… secret Justice Department memorandums supporting the use of “harsh interrogation techniques.” These include “head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures,” – [CNN Politics]

The Prez’s response?:

Responding to the newspaper report Friday, Bush defended the techniques used, saying, “This government does not torture people.” – [CNN Politics]

The white house response?:

After reading a transcript of Carter’s remarks, a senior White House official said, “Our position is clear. We don’t torture.” – [CNN Politics]

Well OK then. I am by no means an authority in torture, however slapping a person upside the head until they sing like a bird, sounds like torture to me. I mean, it ain’t exactly the same as a swedish massage now is it? But if the President and White house officials say it’s not torture, well then I stand corrected!

But if I slap my next door neighbor cross-eyed while attempting to find out what he did with the lawn mower I lent him last year, I better not hear any lip about it from the peanut gallery. And I’ll sue whoever calls the police…

03
Oct
07

Da Prez Gats Prahoritahs…

In the latest mind-numbing news, our illustrious Prez has vetoed a bill intended to expand health benefits for American children:

The Democrats who control Congress, with significant support from Republicans, passed the legislation to add $35 billion over five years to allow an additional 4 million children into the program. It would be funded by raising the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents to $1 per pack.

His reasoning for the veto?:

“Poor kids first,” Bush said. “Secondly, I believe in private medicine, not the federal government running the health care system.”

Ah. Yes. Of course. Poor Kids First. Sure thing there Mr. Prez. And the Federal government should absolutely stay out of health care. Yeah. What was I thinking. Silly Dems. Healthcare insurance isn’t for middle class kids. Please enlighten us further:

The president argued that the Democratic bill was too costly, took the program too far beyond its original intent of helping the poor, and would entice people now covered in the private sector to switch to government coverage. He has proposed only a $5 billion increase in funding. After Bush’s speech, White House counselor Ed Gillespie said the president’s offer of more money meant more than the $5 billion extra, but he wasn’t specific about how much more. – [Yahoo/AP]

Hmmm. Now lemme see here. Apparently you are perfectly fine with the approximately $454 (and swiftly rising) Billion US dollars that we have spent sending many brave American soldiers into a shadow war, (I won’t even go into how many of them aren’t coming back) but $35 Billion to fund kids health care (over 5 years) is too costly? Interesting.

So your priority at the moment would be to ensure that we stay at war with an enemy in hiding, and attempt to stabilize a country that is founded on quicksand, for as long as possible. As opposed to taking steps to help ensure that about 4 million American kids have the opportunity to remain healthy. Primarily because you are afraid of “freeloaders”. Huh.

Mr. Prezidente, your Kung-Fu is mystical. And strong. And as sensible as standing barefoot in a muddy open field, wearing a hawaiian shirt, bermuda shorts and a tin foil hat in the middle of a thunderstorm.

Bush vetoes child health insurance plan – [Yahoo/AP]

30
Aug
07

Mission NOT Accomplished…

Today, I read an article that, I think, basically confirms what I’m sure most of us already figured out.

 Congressional auditors have determined that the Iraqi government has failed to meet the vast majority of political and military goals laid out by lawmakers to assess President Bush’s Iraq war strategy, The Associated Press has learned. – [Yahoo/AP]

I’m not going to go into all that much detail about it because it’s all in the article (the link is below)  But I will say this. As an American citizen I feel that we have been mislead, lied to, and flat out treated like imbeciles, by our government. No matter how much spin you put on a deception, it is still a deception.

The fact that our president could brazenly claim “Mission Accomplished” when so many of the goals we believed he intended to achieve had not been reached, is to me, showing a lack of respect for the citizens of this great nation. We have not accomplished our mission. I say we have been party to an “Epic Fail”.

Little progress seen on Iraq goals – [Yahoo/AP]

27
Jul
07

Politics Suck. That’s pretty much the gist of it.

When I hit the “New Post” button for this, I intended to rant about how the Clinton/Obama debate had gotten completely off track. But as I sat here thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that it’s an incredible waste of time.

I’m beginning to think that politics is basically just a great big corrupting machine. This fact hit doubly hard when I realized that somehow, the opinions of Mikhail Gorbachev made more sense (for the most part) than that of my own government. The fact that our presidential hopefuls are at each others throats rather than attacking problems isn’t helping my confidence in the future of the country much either.

07/28/2007 – UPDATE :
Now with added Cleavage!!

Clinton-Obama flap shifts race to negative tone – [Yahoo/Reuters]
Gorbachev blasts American ‘imperialism’ – [Yahoo/AP]
Washington split over Clinton cleavage – [Yahoo/AFP]

24
Jul
07

Hey it’s a Bank Robber! BOMB THE BANK!!!

Our esteemed President has taken up the bull horn, yet again, to warn us of the dangers that Iraq poses to the security of the mighty U.S. of A.:

“The merger between al-Qaida and its Iraqi affiliate is an alliance of killers and that is why the finest military in the world is on their trail,” Bush said. …

… “That’s like watching a man walk into a bank with a mask and a gun and saying, ‘He’s probably just there to cash a check,'” Bush told troops at Charleston Air Force Base. – [Yahoo/AP]

Even if we were in the position of seeing “a man walk into a bank with a mask and a gun” which I still have am not convinced were were, I would point out that our current actions are more akin to blowing up the bank in an attempt to thwart a possible robbery. It’s a no win. At the very least, I can take some small solace in the fact that a good many rational American people have realized the illogical nature of our current predicament. Might does not make right.

That is not to say that we should be doormats. I am by no means a pacifist. Strength and power is a tool, much like any other. And I mean no disrespect or slight to those who have suffered as a result of terrorist attacks, but I believe strength should be used to defend innocence. Not as a tool of retribution, or even control.

Contrary to what many seem to believe, terrorists do not spawn in a vacuum. Nor are they simple lunatics. They are generally themselves recipients of terrorist acts, that have learned to respond in kind. But responding in anger only fuels more anger, and violence only breeds more violence. And right now we are wreaking untold levels of violence upon both the innocent as well as the guilty, and breeding anger like freakin’ rabbits, where there was none.

We are performing the mythological equivalent of attacking a hydra by cutting off each of it’s heads, one by one. And as each head falls, two more grow in it’s place. And even if we eventually kill the beast, and eliminate all of the true terrorists, the survivors of the innocents shall remain, bearing us so much hatred that, much like Heracles, if we don’t wise up, the blood of the hydra will eventually poison us to death…

Bush warns anew of al-Qaida threat – [Yahoo/AP]

24
Jul
07

Intelligent Illegal Immigration Reform…

New Haven, CT, has taken what I personally consider one of the smartest next steps in dealing with the illegal immigration problem. Bringing illegal immigrants out of hiding:

Dozens of people lined up at City Hall on Tuesday for municipal identification cards, the first city-issued ID cards specifically designed to bring illegal immigrants out of the shadows and give them access to community services. …

… “The simple straightforward purpose here is to build a stronger community,” Mayor John DeStefano said. “You can’t police a community of people who won’t talk to our cops.”

The mayor said the federal government had failed to address immigration-related issues, forcing cities to find ways to manage them. New Haven is simply acknowledging the people who already live there, he said.

“I think New Haven is doing something that makes sense for New Haven,” DeStefano said. “Service to one another in community, more than waving an American flag, defines the spirit of our soul.” – [Yahoo/AP]

I think this action on the part of Mayor DeStefano and the city of New Haven indicates a much better understanding of the true nature of the illegal immigrant problem, as opposed to the pseudo-patriotic exclusivist rhetoric I keep hearing people spew over and over. The true issue is how to build a strong community. In fact it is about how to build a strong America.

America was built, and has grown very strong I might add, on the principle of “Strength in diversity”. I think the city of New Haven has admirably demonstrated that they understand this concept. And the added benefit is that now, these folks will actually be able to actively participate in the strengthening that community, as opposed to being invisible, passive, and even detrimental elements of it.

Conn. city offers illegal immigrants IDs – [Yahoo/AP]




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