Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Can this cancer be cured?

The latest carnage in Paris shows how difficult it is to contain the cancer of Islamic extremism.

We can cut out the tumor, by bombing Syria and Iraq, but the cancer then metastasizes wildly to places like north Africa and now Europe. And such a wide swath of land has been immune to the chemotherapy of reason.

Plus, for whatever success we're having bombing the terrorists, it proves to attract more converts to the cause. As if beheadings on YouTube weren't horrific enough, men and some women still flock to join ISIS/ISIL from around the world.

It's a terrible sickness that has engulfed the Middle East and beyond.

There doesn't seem to be a cure.

We had troops "on the ground" for more than a decade in Iraq and, instead of stabilizing the country, it destabilized the entire region and gave rise to ISIS.

More troops in Syria or Iraq is likely to destabilize Turkey, Jordan and others.

There are too many enemies, Kurds vs Iraqis and Syrians, Sunni (Saudi Arabia) vs Shia (Iran), to figure out who are the bad guys and who are the good guys. Throw in Russia's backing of Syria's Assad and we have the makings of a major regional war.

Should that happen, side conflicts will surely flare up elsewhere as either religious, ethnic or racial scores are settled while the world is distracted by the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Republicans want President Obama to stop ISIS now, even though they have no ideas how to do it. Strangely, these same folks were unconcerned when terrorists struck Madrid and London after our invasion of Iraq. Hey, it wasn't the U.S. that was attacked, they said then.

Plus, how does anyone think we can solve the problems in the Middle East when we can't even solve our decades-long gang violence in Chicago and other big cities. Also, we have about 12,000 killings per year from guns and about 18,000 suicides by guns. And, we have no political will to stem those annual numbers.

Republicans also want Obama to protect Christians in the region but not Muslims.

Great. That'll play well. What a bunch of idiots.

Until people of all stripes give up the hate, and there is no sign that they will, this cancer of terrorism will continue to eat away at the soul of the world.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Keeping up with the candidates

The Donald and the Kim: America's first couple
Actually, no.

There isn't much reason to be interested in the presidential race more than a year before the election.

The media, and I mean TV and to a much lesser extent radio, are hyping up the presidential race to absurd heights because they are the prime beneficiaries of the billions spent on attack ads and other advertising.

More than 90 percent of Americans, me included, couldn't be enticed to watch the debates so far.

Yet, all you hear about on the news is the drama, the back-biting, the name-calling.

Hey, if it works for the Kardashians, why not the candidates.

But, the poll leaders now will surely be last, when the electorate pays attention next year.

To the casual observer, it seems completely ridiculous that candidates like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz are the leading lights among Republicans.

Then again, it's perfectly understandable that incompetence is applauded by the Republican base because that is exactly what those who hate government prefer in their leaders.

The Republican-dominated House of Representatives can't get out of its own way to offer any legislation worthy of becoming law.

Republicans campaign on the premise that government is incompetent and then get elected to prove that premise.

And, when things start to falter, the fall-back position, the one that always works for its base of supporters, is to castigate the mainstream media.

Of course, I don't know why they would blame Fox News, the No. 1 cable news show or the arch-conservative Wall Street Journal, the largest daily newspaper in the nation.  But, they do.

Actually, when they say "mainstream," they mean what the vast majority of rational people believe.

Fox News and the WSJ editorial page present a counter-reality that their devotees deem to be reality.

Well, they represent reality the way the Kardashians represent reality TV.

It's all fluff and bluff, signifying little.

At the end of the day, or at the end of a Kardashian episode, (I did watch about 30 seconds while flipping through channels) there is nothing to remember and nothing to take seriously.

Which is perfect for the social media era.