Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11: A Warning As A Memorial

This may come across as insensitive to some readers, given that this is the 10th anniversary of the Twin Towers' destruction and the attack on our country and civilization.

Too bad.

The following videos of Geert Wilders warning Americans of the political nature of Islam and the movement of Islam to dominate the world should be required viewing in every school, office, church, and tax payer funded institution in the country.

There will be plenty of time for sensitive viewing of the memorials in New York City all day long. But this is a call to wake up and reflect on what all of the destruction, wars, and death are really about.

I implore you all to watch both videos to completion. Then encourage others to seriously consider the implications of it all.

Rick Baker
Rochester, NY

9/11 Memorial Flag post on Efficient Agony.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Same-Sex Marriage: Children To Be Extinct

Same-Sex Marriage=Extinction

And you thought global warming was going to do the planet in. How could we all have been so misled?

Personally, I don't care whether same-sex marriage is legal or not. But I say just legalize it and be done with it. Give gay men and women the same legal, economic, and social rights that others have when it comes to being in committed relationships. No big woof.

But now that New York State has legalized this cause, ( it's a cause, not an issue) the folks who have nothing else to do with their time, energy, or "intellect" are out protesting. On July 24, 2011 it was reported by YNN news in Rochester, NY that an organization called "Let The People Vote" were rallying all across New York protesting same-sex marriage.

I'm not going to get into any deep discussion about all this, but the story quoted one protester, Brad Barkowski, from Greece, NY ( a suburb of Rochester) as saying:

"I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and I believe we need to uphold that in the state. Children will be extinct if we allow same-sex marriage."

So forget about everything you've ever read about extinctions on the planet. I guess divorce rates, children born out of wedlock, and kids raised in dysfunctional or abusive families are never considered by Mr. Barkowski as having any negative impact on children or family values.

And furthermore, I'm sick of every cause, issue, protest, initiative, law, or whatever being about the children! Throw children into any cause or issue and people go soft and foam at the mouth. Put the damned children to work doing their homework, taking out the garbage, cleaning their rooms, or volunteering for senior citizens or the community and we won't have to worry about them going extinct.

Children will be extinct, indeed. And these people actually vote?? How about these busybody closet cases stop railing against non-issues and start voting for representatives who will prevent all of us from, say, corrupt politicians who are spending us all into a bankruptcy hell?

Oh, I get it. Just look at the "Let The People Vote" banner. The bottom line on the banner says "Text NYVOTE to 96362 to Support Marriage." Voting by text message??? Have we all been THAT dumbed-down?

I suppose texting a multi-trillion dollar debt figure on your key pad isn't feasible with today's cell phone technology.

The smart phones just aren't that smart.

And apparently, neither are the protesters in Greece, New York.

Rick B. Baker
July 24, 2011
Rochester, NY

©2011 R. Burnett Baker
Extinction photo from Google Images
Vote Photo from YNN news.

Monday, June 6, 2011

GOP: Goofy, Oppressive Politicians

Santorum Or The Sanitarium?

Right. Let me cut to the chase about Rick Santorum running for president: Would he be running for the presidency or the presidency of a sanitarium?

If what I read today online has a shred of truth to it ( and it's questionable whether ANYTHING we read these days contains any truth) then this man may be crazier than an out-house rat.

The omnipresent Associated Press on June 6, 2011 ran a story about Santorum entering the Republican presidential race. The by-line of the online piece described him as a "reliable conservative."

In that story about his political history, policy stances, and family life there was the recounting about he and his wife having a child who died shortly after birth in 1996. According the the AP story, he and his wife "…slept with the bundled dead baby's body in their hospital room that night…" and then, and THEN took the baby's body home so their other kids could hold the baby before burial.

Sorry folks, but all sentimentality aside, that's beyond creepy. And some folks would want this man as our president?

This is just so whacked that it begs a few other questions. First, what state, hospital, of other institution allows people to just bundle up their dead and cart 'em home for any reason at all? Maybe that's legal somewhere? Really?

Second, what kind of parent would take a dead baby home for the other kids to see and hold? That's just not normal. But more importantly, THAT'S JUST NOT NORMAL. In fact it's, it's, it's not something that I can even describe. And some folks would want this man as our president?

Rick Santorum's faith has always been at the forefront of his politics, but I believe this story just glosses over some kind of line in the sand about people being weird. And doing weird things.

Most of us have heard about his politics and the fact that he seems not to believe that citizens have any rights to privacy. His so-called social conservative beliefs about religion, gay rights, abortion, and such are well known.

But I'm tired of these politicians shoving their religious views in my face and using religion to justify their own insecurities over social CAUSES rather than forgetting about their religion and focusing on real ISSUES. Issues like war, economy, border protection, taxes, government spending, energy policy, education, and such. I don't want a religious fanatic being the puppet leader of our country. Any fool can see how well theocracies function. (Re: Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and on and on…)

But back to the point of this rant. That dead baby thing should be enough to disqualify, in the minds of reasonable, thinking people, this man from holding any public office.

Sorry, GOP, but your party is one hell of a clown party. It almost makes the Neo-Marxist Democrats look reasonable. Almost.

I'd say the GOP is absolutely ready for Santorum.

And all of the GOP candidates and their supporters are ready for the sanitarium.

Rick Baker
June 6, 2011
Rochester, NY

© 2011 R. Burnett Baker
Photo from video game "Sanitarium"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No Fly Zone

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

No Fly Zone

So says the "leader" of the "free world."

I agree. There should be a no fly zone in Libya: The United States military should NOT fly anywhere near that country.

But too late now.

The Arab world has roundly condemned the United States' Middle East policies for decades. Even when I lived in Saudi Arabia in the mid-1970's, there wasn't much love for Americans in the Arab world. I'd say that we were, at best, tolerated. Perhaps the US was the least of the Cold War evil empires during that period, with Anwar Sadat having ended Egypt's love fest with the Soviet Union in 1972.

But dictatorships aside, the US presence in the Middle East in general, and Saudi Arabia in particular, has probably been more of a stabilizing force in that part of the world than we realize or than anyone else cares to admit. And that's not saying much.

Radical Islam was in full force throughout the world then and years prior. It's only in the past 20 years or so that we in the West have begun to open our eyes to those dangers. It's my not so humble opinion that most Americans still don't quite grasp the seriousness of radical Islamic movements, and many simply don't care.

The fact is, we are immersed in two ugly wars with people who culturally, spiritually, and politically don't like us. And if that's not bad enough, our government has now drawn us into yet another military conflict in the Arab world, under the auspices of an "international coalition" that makes it sound A-OK. "International coalition" should be stricken from the lexicon of our political discourse. Forever.

No good can come out of this latest US military exercise in Libya. None.

We're told that we are helping these "rebels" overthrow madman Gaddafi. And a madman he most certainly is. But just who are the rebels? What will THAT government look like? A tolerant, socially progressive power structure dedicated to civility, peace, and civil rights? Or will the Muslim Brotherhood, a group partially responsible for the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, try to portray themselves as "moderate" peacemakers in Libya and other countries?

Please. Review history. And stop believing the nonsense that's being spewed that these rebellions in the Arab world are "pro-democracy" movements that will lead to freedom throughout the Middle East. The recent violent actions taken by the Saudi military against the Shiite uprising in the Saudi Arabian city of al-Qatif were not designed to stop democracy: They were taken to stop pro-Iranian Shiite radicals from gaining power on the Arabian peninsula.

During my years in Saudi Arabia, I had to drive through al-Qatif several times a week, between my company's office in Dammam and my work site in Jubail, about an hour and a half north. Qatif was our stopping place in between for food and gas. What you probably never read in your papers in those days was that these Shiite uprisings were being staged even then, in the mid to late 1970's. And they were always violently squashed by the Saudi military.

Today, nothing much has changed except that these radical groups have much faster communication networks and more money and arms to stage uprisings throughout the Middle East and other areas of the world. Democracy be damned!
Arab League of Nations
So I say let the League of Arab Nations, a group that has given the coalition the green light to impose the no fly zone, police their own sand box.

Let the former colonial overlords, the Italians, help these peace loving Libyan rebels. Let the British and French, both of whom from time to time were colonial administrators in Libya, punish the madman. After all, the French have a long history of slipping out the back door of their colonial digs at the first sign of trouble. It's time France get a backbone and help save the world for a change.

And it's time the people of the United States get a fly swatter and smack the next politician who suggests we start another military adventure.

Wake up, citizens of the United States. Stop believing that by planting the seeds of democracy, and winning hearts and minds, the world will become a more peaceful place.

None of this is about democracy.

It never was.

Rick B. Baker
Rochester, NY
March 22, 2011

©2011 by R. Burnett Baker

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Retail Sacred

I'm not some rabid xenophobe who goes about shouting "BUY AMERICAN!"

We do, after all, live in a world with a global economy and always have. There was a time when the United States was a manufacturing powerhouse that offered plentiful, and profitable jobs for her citizens. We created, designed, built products, and sold them to ourselves and the rest of the world.

Contrary to popular, emotive belief, we still are a manufacturing powerhouse. It's just that our manufacturing sectors are more specialized, and require fewer actual humans to complete the tasks. But that's not the purpose of this essay.

Today, by golly, I found something that is actually made in the U.S.A. Now as I mentioned, I'm not a "buy American" kind of redneck type, but there are a couple of things that should be somewhat sacred, "retail sacred," if you will, when it comes to making, selling, and buying in this country.

American flags are at the top of my "should-be-made-in-America" list, and today I found some that are actually made in the U.S.A.

They were at BJ's Wholesale Club. (And no, I'm not getting paid by BJ's.) How many times have I seen flags, particularly around the Fourth of July that are stamped "Made In China?" I mean, really, now... Is NOTHING sacred? Why would anyone going out to celebrate our nation's independence, or place a flag on a veteran's grave, or celebrate any holiday that requires a flag buy one that is stamped with "I'm made in China, you know, that polluted, communist, WE-NOW-OWN-YOU country China." Long live Chairman Mao!

Yes, American flags made in the U.S.A. How quaint!

Another example of how some things should be "retail sacred" are gifts and souvenirs sold in places such as The Old Statehouse in Boston.

The Old Statehouse, poor little thing, is smack dab in the middle of a boring forest of, seen one seen 'em all glass skyscrapers in downtown Boston. That building was once the heart of Boston's civic life beginning in the 1700's. It was the scene of what is known as the Boston Massacre, the first casualties in America's revolutionary war. In July of 1776 The Declaration of Independence was read from one of its balconies to the citizens of Boston by Col.

Thomas Crafts.

Today, visitors can also buy cheesy souvenirs within those historic walls. Several years ago I visited The Old Statehouse. I considered buying a memento of my visit, but noticed the "Made In China" sticker on every item I touched. I was ticked off about that, and didn't buy anything.

When Chinese citizens visit the Forbidden City or the Great Wall, do you, for one moment, think that they buy souvenirs with a little stickers on them that say "Made In U.S.A"?

Yeah, I didn't think so!

One last example: Just an hour and a half drive from my house is the Corning Museum of Glass. It's a fascinating place that I never get tired of visiting. Visitors from all over the globe visit there in little Corning, NY every year. I'll bet many or you eat your meals from Corning Ware. But in the gift shop, when you buy those beautiful hand-blown glass flowers as souvenirs, where do you think they're made?

Yeah, you guessed it: China.

With so many people looking for work, you'd think the Corning Glass Works could put a few folks to work blowing glass flowers. That would certainly help the economy in Western New York!

So I will continue to look at "made in" stickers from now on. I won't become obsessed with that, but there are some items that just should NEVER be made anywhere but in the country of origin. Recent recalls notwithstanding, I'll stick with my reliable Japanese car for as long as it continues to give me flawless performance.

But the flag I display on my front porch this summer WON'T be made in China. Or any where other than the United States for that matter!

Rick Baker
Rochester, NY
March 6, 2011

©2011 by R. Burnett Baker
Flag photo ©2011 by R. Burnett Baker
Old Statehouse Photo from

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Purple Fingers In Our Face

He's right, you know.

Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai wants "foreign powers" to butt-out of the country's internal affairs. "Stop meddling" according to the Associated Press report today by Amir Shah.

Karzai has a point. One wonders how that could become a reality with U.S. and allied troops "conducting" a war in that country. I say conducting because we are absolutely NOT "fighting" a war there. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

We are conducting military efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other areas as a maintenance program of global control, political realignment, and resource allocation. Arguably, the United States hasn't "fought" a war to win it since WWII. We have, for over 50 years now, been witness to the "military industrial complex" that former president Dwight Eisenhower considered in his final presidential speech in 1961. In that speech, Eisenhower discussed the need for balance in all of our endeavors as a free nation and global power.

But back to Karzai. He is correct that the U.S. is meddling in the so-called elections that take place in Afghanistan. No doubt this is a continuation of George W. Bush's idiotic efforts back in 2003 to make "democracy-building" a key component of the U.S.'s military adventures in the Middle East. Even former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a man I have long admired, parroted that misguided policy when he stated to students at City College of New York in 2003, "dictators and despots can build walls high enough to keep out armies, but not high enough to keep those winds from blowing in."

Powell was referring to "winds" of democracy. I say that was all rhetorical winds of horsecrap.

The notion that the United States, or any other western country can sprinkle the fairy dust of democratic tradition on non-democratic countries is simply stupid at face value. Ask yourselves how democracy (as we know it) could possibly be implemented in China, for example, where thousands of years of dynastic cycles moulded a world view that does not place emphasis on individuality, but upholds traditions of familial precepts.

Ask yourselves how tribesmen and others of any country who's name ends in "stan" could comprehend, let alone embrace, a political system and voting process that requires at least the appearance that its citizens are a nation of self-thinkers, able to make logical decisions about their political destiny.

No. Their cultures, ethnic traditions, religious practices, and "world" views preclude that.

In a country that dips voters' fingers in purple ink to prevent voter fraud, that's just not possible. Then, again, maybe we should look at the purple finger technique in places like, oh I dunno, Florida.

But Karzai has a point. If we're not willing to fight a war against the demonstrated evils of the Taliban; if we are willing to tip toe around the poppy seeds of negotiations with them; if we cannot take on the responsibilities of occupation and rebuilding that country from inside out and back again, then I say get out. Get out and let Karzai play with the fires of hundreds of years of tribal backtracking.

The world will always have despots and dictators. Most will be brutal and ruthless. A few will come to be know as "benevolent dictators". ( Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew comes to mind).

I'll play devil's advocate here: Some cultures, some societies, NEED a dictator to keep control of what might otherwise be an even more brutish and intolerable existence. Votes and purple fingers won't make it all better.

Democracy is an ideal that had institutional beginnings with the Indian sanghas (associations) and ganas (councils) in the sixth century BCE, with the Greek city states of Athens and Sparta, and to some extent throughout the centuries of the Roman Republic.

But these days, 21st Century United States has no business trying to whip a little democracy on everyone else as a cover for other motives, whatever they may be. We could have marched into Afghanistan with guns blazing, defeated the Taliban, propped up Karzai (or anyone else) as our puppet leader, and MAYBE we would have effected positive change. Though I seriously doubt it.

However, as previously mentioned, we are one of the world's military maintenance machines, manipulating the masses and keeping global order.

Yet, I believe our country in particular, and the world in general, would be better served if enough citizens and leaders would review and take to heart Eisenhower's words in 1961. Especially the part about balance.

That will never happen.

The Karzai's of the world will mollify our policy makers while seeking to negotiate with madness. They will point purple fingers in the air and in our face to say that corruption is under control, and that we have succeeded in guiding them from the depths of their long hell.

And, we can all live with an "acceptable" level of fear and anxiety. We can all be kept in our reasonable places with meaningless dialectics providing an illusion that the world is being made a safer and saner place. We can all believe that the world wants to be just like us (U.S.): Free, prosperous, and happy.

Karzai's right. Purple fingers notwithstanding.

Rick B. Baker

Rochester, NY

January 4, 2011

Note: Coinciding poem published on "Efficient Agony", 1-4-11.

© 2011 by R. Burnett Baker

Purple fingers photo from Muslims Against Sharia / CNN August 23, 2009.

Karzai photo from

Tank cartoon by Graeme MacKay, "Hamilton Spectator", Hamilton, Ontario.