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Thank God for the American Soldier June 20, 2006

Posted by June in Around the World, Conservatism, Executive Branch, Politics, War on Terror.
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I just want to take some time to reflect on the brave men and women in our military and to highlight a moving comment by one on another blog.

I wish I could go through all of history to thank each and everyone of them for risking their life or paying the ultimate price to ensure that I am able to write this and my other thoughts on this blog with complete freedom today. There are people in my father's home country who are arrested for writing things that criticize the government; but here I am, free to write what I please so long as it is not intentionally libelous.

Thank you.

The comment is located here at comment 13:
My Republican Father Hated This War
His blog is here:
Summa Theologiae

(P.S. Since these are long paragraphs and since putting this in blockquotes makes it all the harder to read, I am going to divide some of the paragraphs at strategic places to make it a bit easier.)

“Remarkably, for many prowar Christians, the sight of suffering doesn’t help them to empathize with the sufferer–it just makes them angry (scroll down to see typical comments). They don’t want to know how others are hurting. They want to enjoy Father’s Day with their families with not a care in the world about all those fathers in this country, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan who’ve lost children and will continue to lose children to this sinful war. And Friend, that’s not Christian.”

I think your comments seem to by-pass a crucial question, and instead you focus on emotional questions which are just as strong in both directions. The emotional straw-man, “fathers who have lost children,” can be used to move people in any direction, right and wrong. But the question of whether War is ever justified must be answered first. I think that your article is heart felt and I would not imply that you used your father’s death as a tool to coerce people into thinking the way you do. However, I think that others reading this article must understand that if they believe War is ever justified, the fact that fathers and mothers lose sons and daughters and so on is not a determinative factor. It is a determinative factor when you are coming to your own conclusion about whether War is ever justified. But once you determine that War is sometimes a necessity, the fact that people will die ceases to hold weight in whether the War is just.

I myself am a Christian. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he became a man in flesh, was the only perfect person, died on the cross, and rose from the dead. In other words, I believe it is more than a good way to live and that Jesus was more than just a man who had some good things to say. I know many real Christians who are pacifists and I know many real Christians who believe that there is biblical support for War under certain circumstances. If you are a pacifist, and believe that killing in all contexts is wrong, and you are truly seeking God’s guidance in coming to your decision and keep seeking, I could not question that. I say the same for those who support war. There are good arguments in both directions. The debate between Just War theory and Pacifism within a Christian context is long and I am not attempting to have that here. But I am saying that there are true Christians, seeking to follow after Christ on both sides of the debate. And I am saying that once one concedes that Wars are sometimes justified, using the fact that people die and accusing those who support it as not empathizing with those who are affected most by the loss is intellectually dishonest. Unlike one of the comments, I believe that Jesus is the answer. Unfortunately, we are all not Christians and we that are Christians are not perfect. That’s Sin. And that’s exactly why we need Christ because we cannot do it on our own. You can see it in this war. Sin and our desire to do things our way is the root cause. Then we pass it on to the next generation and the next. And it gets to the point where almost all solutions imaginable have horrible flaws. The ONLY solution is Christ and what he did for us.

I have carried the bodies of the dead in this war. I have left my wife and child more than once to participate in both Iraqi freedom and Enduring freedom. I see the faces of those who were with them while they died … before the bloggers see a number or a picture on Yahoo news. I don’t say that to say that I am more qualified to speak on the matter. It would be entirely possible to care about it less than someone who doesn’t experience it first hand. I say it because for me, it’s not something occurring in a distant land. I do however hope that If I were to die, my death would not be used as a commodity or for people think I was ignorant in my decision. You (or your dad?) call them well meaning kids who had no idea what they signed up for. This is quite offensive to the majority of us who know exactly what we did when we signed up. I think some people thought it was a free handout for some education cash or just another job. But Most of us do it because we owe those who came before us for our freedoms and we want to preserve it for our children as well. For the majority of us who know why we are here, fighting side by side with Afghani’s and Iraqi’s who are willing to die because they know what it was like to live the way it was before and they would die so that their families and children don’t have to experience that again.
We don’t remember what that is like. We can contemplate the metaphysical universe; disagree with each other without facing death and the raping of our daughters or wives before our very eyes. Those who had the ability to do those things have lost that power, and they want it back. I am glad that those people are no longer dominating (I’m not saying you all aren’t glad). But I’m not surprised they are still fighting to get what they had back! The biggest problem with the current debate in the U.S. is the microwave mindset. Do we really think that the people who have had violent control over everyone else for so long would just hand it over in and instant? They know our society is not known for its patience. They will fight for generations while we think that success can only be measured by time.
You could argue that there was a better way to end the reign of violence and atrocity that existed before our arrival. I can think of a few. Doing nothing was not an option, and it was quite evident that Clinton’s approach of steady presence of troops and firing of missiles into Baghdad to show them he meant business did not work either but only served to make things work without any measurable success. There are other options of course. But Bush had to make a choice from the state of the world as is when it was handed to him, and we must do the same. The war exists. The people of Afghanistan and Iraq are fighting side by side with troops from all over the world to ensure they don’t have to live under the violence they experienced previously. How can we love our neighbors in the state of the world we are now in? With violent people trying to regain their power, it is to teach those who want to live and let live to protect themselves and to restrain those who would impose violent control over them.

You mentioned people:
“termed by newscasters as “terrorists” in the early years of the war, or as “insurgents”, the dehumanizing catch-all label used ever since to describe Iraqi and Afghan victims from 6 to 60.”

While language and rhetoric is powerful, and can be used to shape opinions and mask extra insight into situations, I really don’t see your point here in this context. Claiming the word insurgents is dehumanizing is kind of silly. Dehumanization is a horrible tactical tool used by lots of people throughout history and now. Rwanda used it against each other, Hitler used it, it occurs in African nations today on a large scale, it occurs in much of the world to the detriment of women, it occurred in the south in the United States for a long time, and it occurs right now by refusing to use the word baby to describe a living being with a completely separate from her parents and completely human DNA structure. Lets make it more clear. Those human beings, Those people who have a mother and father, who rape other people to get back at those who love them. Those humans who kill women for being raped. Those human beings who decide that everyone must follow the rules they set forth or face death. Those persons whom God created in his own image, who chose to saw a person’s head off rather than give up their power. Those people who teach children as soon as they can speak to hate, and who strap bombs to their six year old children to blow up random people. Those types of people need to be stopped. Why don’t you think of another word to describe them and get back to me. I know that there are people who do horrible things on both sides of this war. But you know what, we send the people to jail when they go outside of the narrow limits of attempting to stop only those who are violent against us. We criticize their action and rightly so. But we cannot take a position that because we are imperfect, that others who do evil things must be let alone to continue their atrocities. There is no conflict between the commands that we should not judge others lest we be judged and the command that we defend those who cannot defend themselves. They are in perfect harmony with loving our neighbors as Christ has loved us.

I think the comments regarding those who support the war being spoon fed from Fox or wherever contribute nothing to the debate. Media is the scapegoat of every side and of every issue. You said your dad “grew up in the era of newscasters like Walter Cronkhite. It’s understandable that he expected the news on TV to be actual news, not White House/Pentagon political manipulation.” I think I started to question your seriousness here for a second. But please don’t take that as an insult. I do believe you are serious when you wrote the rest of the article. In Russia you have state run news, in the US you have News influenced by yes the administrations, and also the academic ivory tower, the media and the newscasters own beliefs etc. Today we have blogs, internet, tons of news stations and papers from every persuasion. Back than we had 3. Russia had 1. It’s true that it certainly makes it harder to wade through information today. But the values of free speech and keeping people honest favors many outlets. I believe that the ability to obtain truth is increased the further our avenues of searching for it are opened. Those who want Fox off the air are not different than those who want the New York Times or CBS to go under. Same people, wanting to get rid of a source for the same reason: they disagree with the conclusions they draw and the methods they draw them. Both CBS, FOX, ABC, MSNBC, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal all have articles and programs that make me cringe every once in a while. They don’t hide their agenda’s very well. The more paternalistic side of all of us in these debates probably wants to limit the number of people who are persuaded by bad reasons to come down one way or another on a issue we’ve already made a decision on. But the best way to do that is intellectually honest dialogue rather than some of the tactics used in your article and the comments that followed.
I think what you did, like pointing out how all the images are of burning streets and that the middle eastern clothes we see seems to emphasize the otherness of the people in these countries, is a good thing to point out. Emphasizing that we are all human is essential. A picture of difference can be used to support or attack the war. A picture of a burning car can be used to gather support for hatred of an enemy or for hatred of the United States. It’s a messed up game. The important thing to continue to do is to point out the human interests involved. Looking different should not be used to increase hate for the “other”. We need to see each other as humans. The problem is that you didn’t mention the enemy’s failure to do the same. It didn’t mention the sawing off of heads and the atrocities conducted against the general population of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Or what about the events on 9/11? Somehow missing from your memory about your dad’s concerns. What is your purpose and agenda in mentioning one and not the other? Is it justified when they do it because they are an “other” to us? Is it justified because they couldn’t defeat us using conventional tactics? Should they fight as we do? Should they fight at all? Are we just more advanced than them? Or is freedom only for the westerners? You know the good thing about this war is that before it became in our interest to protect ourselves from these violent people, we didn’t really have to worry about what was going on to the general population of those countries because they were just the “other”. This war, despite the fact that it our own interest was a catalyst for it, caused us to confront the “other.” Before, the “other” was held in oppression and violence but it wasn’t on our mind. Today it is. We need to continually confront the other and come to them in the name of Love. Part of that is to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Not only that, but the people who hated us need confronted too. They don’t have a right because of their status as “other” to commit violence against other human beings. The person who made a comment about “How fashist is to impose your own way of democracy using state terrorism” is interesting. I have a question for her or him. Where did you get your definition of the word fascist? Does another language and another color or culture mean that a few people should be allowed to dictate violence upon all who disagree? How Eurocentric is it to think that westerners are the only ones who should have a choice in how to live and what to wear and what to believe? Why is state infringement of borders more offensive than one human infringing upon the life of a bunch of other humans? We need compassion and we need to do all we can to prevent the destruction of human life, innocent and non-innocent. But political opportunism and complacently allowing the people who want to regain their violent stronghold over the people in other nations is not helping humanity in any way. You know, our lives could be easier if we didn’t have to think about the evils that occur in the rest of the world. We could just focus on ourselves and try to increase the pleasure meter in the places that we can see. It’s a lot easier to apologize for failing to stop the Rwandan genocide than it would have been to try to do something about it. Are you tired of this war? Does it hurt that you have to think about people that lost loved ones? Good. I hope we can start using that pain to think of ideas to stop it in these two countries, in our own countries, and in the future.

Comment by summatheologiae — June 19, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

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Illegal Immigration: Our Weak Spot in Security June 16, 2006

Posted by June in Bureaucracy, Conservatism, News, Politics.
2 comments

An Amnesty by Any Other Name
Edwin Meese

Article obtained from here since NY Times put it under password after a little while of being up.

An Amnesty by Any Other Name – Ed Meese)

Two decades ago, while serving as attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, I was in the thick of things as Congress debated the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The situation today bears uncanny similarities to what we went through then.

In the mid-80's, many members of Congress — pushed by the Democratic majority in the House and the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy — advocated amnesty for long-settled illegal immigrants. President Reagan considered it reasonable to adjust the status of what was then a relatively small population, and I supported his decision.

In exchange for allowing aliens to stay, he decided, border security and enforcement of immigration laws would be greatly strengthened — in particular, through sanctions against employers who hired illegal immigrants. If jobs were the attraction for illegal immigrants, then cutting off that option was crucial.

Beyond this, most illegal immigrants who could establish that they had resided in America continuously for five years would be granted temporary resident status, which could be upgraded to permanent residency after 18 months and, after another five years, to citizenship.

Note that this path to citizenship was not automatic. Indeed, the legislation stipulated several conditions: immigrants had to pay application fees, learn to speak English, understand American civics, pass a medical exam and register for military selective service. Those with convictions for a felony or three misdemeanors were ineligible. Sound familiar? These are pretty much the same provisions included in the new Senate proposal and cited by its supporters as proof that they have eschewed amnesty in favor of earned citizenship.

The difference is that President Reagan called this what it was: amnesty. Indeed, look up the term "amnesty" in Black's Law Dictionary, and you'll find it says, "the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act provided amnesty for undocumented aliens already in the country."

Like the amnesty bill of 1986, the current Senate proposal would place those who have resided illegally in the United States on a path to citizenship, provided they meet a similar set of conditions and pay a fine and back taxes. The illegal immigrant does not go to the back of the line but gets immediate legalized status, while law-abiding applicants wait in their home countries for years to even get here. And that's the line that counts. In the end, slight differences in process do not change the overriding fact that the 1986 law and today's bill are both amnesties.

There is a practical problem as well: the 1986 act did not solve our illegal immigration problem. From the start, there was widespread document fraud by applicants. Unsurprisingly, the number of people applying for amnesty far exceeded projections. And there proved to be a failure of political will in enforcing new laws against employers.

After a six-month slowdown that followed passage of the legislation, illegal immigration returned to normal levels and continued unabated. Ultimately, some 2.7 million people were granted amnesty, and many who were not stayed anyway, forming the nucleus of today's unauthorized population.

So here we are, 20 years later, having much the same debate and being offered much the same deal in exchange for promises largely dependent on the will of future Congresses and presidents. Will history repeat itself? I hope not. In the post-9/11 world, secure borders are vital. We have new tools — like biometric technology for identification, and cameras, sensors and satellites to monitor the border — that make enforcement and verification less onerous. And we can learn from the failed policies of the past.

Reagan did this with all the good intentions; but it backfired. Why are we making the same mistake once again? Why are we allowing people who broke the law to jump in front of law-abiding immigrants who came into this country legally, going through all the jumps and hurdles to get there.

The government can only let in so many people each year to prevent Americans from being outnumbered and to give the immigrants already here time to integrate and assimilate into the country, like my father did who came here at 19 not knowing a word of English. He did learn English; and he eventually became a citizen through the naturalization process (not by marriage).
By allowing these individuals to flood into our borders then get on a path to citizenship, we are allowing them to prevent law-abiding people from immigrating here because the government must take into account the number of illegals here, as well, when determining how many to let in.
That means thousands of legal immigrants who are left out in the cold or waiting forever to get here.

Besides, most of the people coming here do not want to assimilate. They do not want to become American. They want to force America to become Mexico or Columbia or whatever other country they come from. That's why they run around waving the Mexican flag rather than the American flag. That's why they demand Spanish translations for everything.
But, then again, what can you expect from immigrants who thumb their nose at our government, at our system? People who work hard, who save up to get here, who wait patiently for their green card to be approved — those people are the ones who will value what they get and who will value this country because they had to work so hard toacheive it.

We don't need new legislation. Reagan already signed border security bills into law. They simply have not been put into action. One thing that I am all for, though, is this idea of a wall on the border. Opponents liken it to the Berlin Wall; but I know that it's more like the Great Wall. What's the difference? The difference is that the Berlin Wall was put into place by the Communists to prevent people from leaving the country. The Great Wall was put in place to prevent people from invading. This wall would not be put up to keep Americans in, but to keep invaders out.

This is more than just an immigration issue. This is a security issue. This is a sovereignty issue. If we do not secure our borders, then we will not be able to prevent an attack on this nation. Terrorists could use this vulnerability to slip in with weapons and do us harm. Let's not also forget just how many criminals come across that border, as well. A good number of inmates in American prisons are illegals. The M13 gang is a gang that came over from Mexico. People living in high traffic crossing zones where illegals favor passage have reported vandalism, theft, and even endangerment of their lives by these people.
And if we don't have borders, we don't have a nation. America is the only country in the world required to do this. If you tried to sneak into France or Germany or Mexico or Hong Kong, you would be immediately deported (if not shot when sneaking into a Communist country.).Rush has a great idea. Let's adopt the Mexican immigration laws. If they are good for Mexico, then why are they not good for us?

I can understand why Bush is pressing for a guest worker program. In the Republican Party, there are business lobbyists that want the cheap labor; but they are getting low wages at the cost of our security and at the cost of all Americans because these illegals use many of the government programs that we pay for. Yes, they do pay sales tax when they buy things; but they do not have to pay an income tax that hits us like a ton of bricks along with many other taxes. So we do not end up on top in the end.

People say that these illegals are taking jobs that no American wants to do; but, according to Thomas Sowell:
Bordering on Fraud
Bordering on Fraud: Part II
Bordering on Fraud: Part III

The highest concentration of illegals is in agriculture, where they are 24 percent of the people employed. That means three-quarters of the people are not illegal aliens. But when will the glib phrase-mongers stop telling us that the illegals are simply taking "jobs that Americans won't do"?

Besides, even if illegals were doing 70% of the labor, we still have all these welfare recipients sitting around doing nothing because, by law, to get welfare you must be unemployed. So why not put these people to good use by requiring them to do these jobs to get their checks? At least, we'll get some of our tax money back.

Personally, I would prefer security to be the issue that we deal with first. After we secure our borders, we can then worry about what to do with the illegals who are already here. But security of our nation is the most important thing.