Tuesday, July 25, 2006

In the Middle East

I haven't really made any comments on what's happening in the Middle East, it being a complicated situation.

I remember when I was a teenager watching the events and strife going on in the Middle East. At the time, I didn't understand what the issues were other than borders and control over land. I didn't know what the West Bank or Gaza was. I've never been overseas, so I don't have any hands-on knowledge.

But I believe the media has done a terrible job in explaining the situation there. Most of the time, you hear a bomb went off, missles were fired, and a lot of innocent people died. There's little on WHY there were attacks in the first place.

So I'm going to try and sort this all out here... and please bare with me, this is my current understanding of the situation...

There's a lot of history going back thousands of years, but especially in the past 60 years, since the state of Israel was officially created and modernized, there have been signs of hope and peace in the area. I don't believe this conflict is or has ever been a war about whose God is better. While it may be about control over land, eventually, everyone is going to have to face reality and simply live with each other.

Surely that's the ultimate goal--peace and stability. And there's obviously fanatical factions within the Israelites, within the Palestinians, and within the Lebanese, so the question comes down to how far is each government able to go to surpress or prevent terrorist factions from taking control of their society? The Israelis appear to do a much better job, as I'm not even aware of any Israelite terrorist faction.

Hamas, a known terrorist group which promotes death to Israel, is now part of the Palestinian government. Hezbolla appears to have control over Lebanese affairs. I'm not sure how they do that, but the reality is they illegally went and kidnapped Israeli soldiers, which Israel construdes as an act of war--thus the current state of conflict.

But terrorism is terrorism. As long as these ignorant, selfish fanatics are able to recruit and conduct horrific acts, peace will only be maintained by military means. As I understand, for many terrorists in the Middle East, they've lost hope in their lives and being a part of something meaningful is what they are looking for, whatever it is. Religion is then invoked and misinterpreted to give legitimacy to the political program.

However, despite this, we simply cannot be held hostage as a society by terrorism, as what appears to have happened in Lebanon, while at the same time, let us NEVER ever put the blame on any religion, as that is NOT the issue to begin with anyway. This isn't about Jesus vs. Muhammed, or Jehovah vs. Allah. The clear, large majority of people in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism tolerate and respect each other to no avail. We know that. More an more people are educated on the similarities of each religion and more and more celebrate that.

But what I'm hearing is those who talk about "sides". "Both sides need to utilize diplomatic means for peace." Well, WHICH "sides" are you talking about? The Israeli government is certainly one side, but what about the other? Did the Lebanese military kidnap the Israeli soldiers? No, Hezbolla did. So is the other side the Lebanese government? No, its the terrorists.

Peaceful democractic governments deserve support, including the Lebanese. But how far will such a government tolerate acts of war on its soil and defend itself to prevent further attacks and protect its people? As well, how far will such a government allow foreign support from individual countries such as the U.S. and U.K.?

To further complicate the matter, you have to throw in the idea that Hezbolla receives support from Iran and Syria.

Is a U.N., NATO, or E.U. peacekeeping force needed to stand in the middle of the conflict? Or is the current full-on Israeli attack in Lebanon against anything that moves or breathes Hezbolla the final answer?

As long as Hamas, Hezbolla, and other factions don't face reality like everyone else, actively want to eliminate the state of Israel, will there ever be peace and stability?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Southpark Alberta

As many of you know, Frog Lady had her take on the LibLead race to liven it up. Well, there's another race that needs some livening up too...

Jim Dinning...

Dave Hancock...

Ted Morton...

Lyle Oberg...

Mark Norris... (because I recently saw him at the Royal Glenora pool...)

Ed Stelmach...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hep C victims finally get compensation

Finally. The Liberals were just plain mean when they didn't compensate all the victims of the tainted blood scandal. I remember debating this at the U of A Model Parliament a decade ago. Five months in power and voila. This is truly great news.

Atta go Steve!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

PC Leadership "Race" and Advice

Monday night I attended the first annual Northern Alberta Conservative Party (federal) BBQ with about 600 people in attendance. Many area MPs were on hand: Rahim Jaffer, James Rajotte, Ken Epp, Rob Merrifield, Rona Ambrose, Mike Lake, Leon Benoit, and Brian Storseth. The guest speaker was Jim Prentice, Minister for Indian and Northern Affairs.

Anyway, as expected, I'd thought I'd see some PC Party of Alberta leadership hopefuls. While many were probably at the Stampede in Calgary, only two were at this BBQ in Edmonton:

Ted Morton
Dave Hancock

I was finally introduced to Ted Morton by Tory blogger Noise from the Right. Now I've read all the policies of all the candidates from their websites and found that Ted's had the most substantive platform. It shows vision.

Personality wise, Ted seems like a nice man, and I told him that I'm a disaffected PC supporter turned quasi-Alberta Alliance type guy. He said that we need to reach out to that base of support (over 200,000 supposed supporters who didn't show up last provincial election). I agreed. He gave me a brochure and that was about it.

Here's some further advice for leadership hopefuls...

1) While you can talk negatively all you want about their ideas and policies, don't talk negatively about their speaking abilities or character. Doesn't even matter if everyone agrees that so and so is a terrible public speaker.

2) REMEMBER NAMES. There's nothing more sincere then when someone says, "It was a pleasure to meet you John." Not just, "Bye." I'm really bad at names, so I notice when someone forgets mine.

3) Be engaging. Get to know your potential voters and find out where they stand on issues or just get to know them. It's a smaller province than you think.

There also seems to be a whisper campaign going on about Jim Dinning. Whatever has been said I won't bother. I'm just not a big fan of some of his policies.

Lyle Oberg has a rebel streak in him. I like that. I like some of his policies too. Would he resonate in the cities though? I'm not too sure about that.

Dave Hancock ... and Crew... What is this "Crew"? Who's in it? Am I electing him or the crew?

Ed Stelmach. I read a HUGE endorsement from "The Ukrainian News" for Ed. Very nice man. No policies. Poor campaign. He'll resonate rurally.

Mark Norris. Has some good policy. "Real Passion" though? As opposed to "Unreal Passion"? Anyway, losing his seat was a big downfall.

Overall, I'm sure any of the candidates would make a good premier. None of them so far are the "total package" for me... yet.

Then again, why do I even care--I'm not even a member of the party. Who knows, maybe one of the candidates would interest me enough to join and vote. We'll see.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Stevemeister...

If George W. calls him Steve, can I?

Seriously though, I applaud Prime Minister Harper's stance with President Bush on increased border security saying that going down that route would mean the terrorists have won.

With the FBI snagging a recent terrorist plot on the New York subway system and Canada's Own foiling the terrorist plot here at home, the authorities are on top of things.

And looking in the other direction toward North Korea, Bush was also kind enough to not bring up missile defense, saying that if "Steve" wanted to bring it up, he would, but Bush still tried to lure Harper into thinking that this little commie country was aiming them test missiles at Canada. "Steve" took it with great stride, but left the door open down the road, but not now.

For me, I just want to know when I can stop having to take off my shoes at a U.S. airport. When you're wearing just sandles you ask, "When's the last time they cleaned these floors?"