Thursday, September 30, 2010

Still in shock

I finally got a chance to watch it.


Wow, what a finish. My heart is racing and I am shaking.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Where bombs don't mean homers

Yesterday I was having a late afternoon latte when my friend who owns one of the old bars in Hamra passed by and invited me to stop by for a beer, so when I finished my coffee, I headed over there. It was around 7pm. When I arrived, only my friend and his friend were there. I stayed for about an hour and a half but no one came. I asked why, and he told me business was bad because of sectarian tension. Later I went to my very dear friend's pub. He was sitting there alone at 9pm on a Friday night. The night before, he had kicked out three Sunni men who were about to cause trouble with a Shia.

Things are bad. Last week Prime Minister Saad Hariri ordered the arrest of a man at the airport, and Hezbollah folks (who control airport security) ignored the order. The politicians go on television nearly every night giving propaganda speeches accusing one another of wild and stupid things. The Tea Party folks seem sane compared to the nutjobs in the Lebanese government. The decent ones who genuinely want peace, like Hariri, are ridiculed as weak or are even accused of being agents of Israel.

As my dear Amigo said, there is fire in the ground.

It's a reality the Lebanese people have to deal with every day. Right now I'm sitting across the street from a bullet-riddled building wondering which conflict put them there. A few weeks ago some idiots spent 5 hours shooting up one part of town with rocket-propelled grenades because some Hezbollah idiot and some Sunni group idiot got into an argument over a parking space and killed each other. The city has been molten since then.

Because I've spent so much time in Beirut, I've come to have many friends here, so the conflict here has become personalized. As the Reds sit poised for their first playoff appearance in 15 years, my excitement is tempered by a sort of - how to put it? - something resembling guilt for having been born in a country where we can devote ourselves to such trivial things as baseball. It just doesn't seem fair for these people to have to keep suffering one stupid conflict after another while us Americans sit on our couches watching sports. That's why the Tea Party idiots make me so angry. Instead of counting their blessings that they were born in the USA, they whine about petty shit and make up things to be afraid of. That mentality is no different than the sectarian bullshit that goes on here.

So, go Reds! But it's not the end of the world if they don't do well. It doesn't even matter.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Support the Troops!(TM)

They are not saints.

The uproar over the decision of Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, and Luis Castillo to forgo the team visit to Walter Reed has gone beyond nonsensical. I'm not talking about these Mets players not being saints. No, I am talking about the United States military. I have had it with the glorification of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines by a nation that has no concern for why these troops are fighting wars in the first place. I have had it with God Bless America(TM) in the seventh inning and the "Proud to Be an American" with soldiers on the scoreboard to standing ovations. Our troops are not saints. Some of them are good people. Some of them are great people. Others are scumbags who are only in the military because they couldn't make it anywhere else in life.

These are scumbags. Their names are Andrew Holmes, Michael Wagnon, Jeremy Morlock and Adam Winfield. They are four of
twelve American soldiers [facing] charges over a secret "kill team" that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies.

Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.
These are not isolated incidents. Many atrocities have been committed by these glorified folks that would make any real Christian - or any good person - disgusted. Yet many who call themselves Christian think this is ok, that the US military can do no wrong.

Somehow, the notion of US soldiers being akin to gods has taken root in the unthinking masses, and now, three baseball players are being crucified in the press for not worshiping at the altar of the BDUs. Why should baseball players be expected to visit wounded soldiers who may be great people or may be scumbags like Andrew Holmes? What's more, Perez and Castillo are not even Americans, and Beltran, while technically an American citizen, is Puerto Rican, a country where many don't call themselves Americans, either. Why the heck should they be expected to visit the wounded soldiers of a country not of their nationality?

How many of those outraged at the Mets players have visited wounded troops?

People who join the military have various reasons for doing so. Some do it to defend the country. Others do it for college money. Still others use it as a means to escape a life of crime or to get out of poverty. Soldier is a tough job and an honorable profession, when, in fact, it is done in an honorable manner. War is abhorrent, waged by the maniacal minds of the unjust, insecure, and ignorant. Sometimes, defending one's country from ruthless psychopaths is necessary, but war should NEVER be waged as a choice, and it is never glorious.

A visit from Carlos Beltran is not going to give a soldier his leg back. Enough with the outrage. If you want to be angry about something, be angry that soldier was put in the situation where his leg was blown off in the first place. If you truly supported the troops, you'd be taking action to prevent them from being put into situations which might force a trip to Walter Reed, altering their lives forever.