American Culture

I’ve been thinking about American culture amid all this talk about Steve King defending his views on white nationalism and calling himself an “American nationalist” as well as Donald Trump’s recent tweet taken from an editorial by Pat Buchanan that says we have to stop the immigrants at the border:

….Border is eventually going to be militarized and defended or the United States, as we have known it, is going to cease to exist…And Americans will not go gentle into that good night. Patrick Buchanan. The great people of our Country demand proper Border Security NOW!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2019

In Pat Buchanan’s article that Trump quotes, Pat also says this: “The more multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual America becomes — the less it looks like Ronald Reagan’s America — the more dependably Democratic it will become.”

You can clearly see all the lines being drawn here – the Wall is needed to prevent the country from being multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual. Because all of those things go against what “America” is really about.

Which made me think: What is American culture?

For some, it’s cowboy hats, pickup trucks, apple pie, hamburgers, and rock and roll. However, for me, it’s different.

To explain, I need to tell a story about when some friends of mine were visiting from Greece.

It was March, and they were going to head to Chicago for the weekend. It was still not quite spring, and they weren’t sure what they were going to do, but after a long Minnesota winter, they wanted to get away to the big city. It just happened that they would be in Chicago on March 17th.

“Holy crap, you guys can go to the St Patrick’s Day parade! There’ll be green beer, lots of live music, and they even dye the river green!”

The Greeks, however, did not share my enthusiasm. “But we’re not Irish.”

And it was at that point I had a revelation.

I’m not Irish, but I celebrate St Patrick’s Day. I’m not French, but I celebrate Mardi Gras. I’m not Mexican, but I’ll celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I’ll celebrate any holiday – any excuse for a party.

And that’s the thing. Most Americans aren’t necessarily those cultures, but that won’t stop us from finding an excuse to celebrate them. It’s an inherently American thing to take stuff from other cultures and embrace it as our own and celebrate them.

This week, Donald Trump served hamburgers (or as he might call it, “hamberders”) to the visiting Clemson Tigers and said “It’s all good stuff. Great American food.”

But for me, the greatest American food is the street taco. I mean, you take a tortilla, stuff it with barbecue beef, and top it with kimchi. A perfect meld of Mexican, American, and Korean cuisine in one. Do you think you’d ever find a street taco in France? England? Russia?

In conclusion, for me at least, it’s our multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual culture that makes us strong. It’s what makes us American. And we don’t need a wall – a real one at the border or a perceived one in the minds of Americans – to prevent that.

A Challenge for President Trump

Trump likes to make all sorts of ridiculous arguments, like the fact that Obama has a fence around his house makes Obama an advocate for “the wall.”

Okay, then, here’s a semi-serious one for you, President Trump.

If you so surely believe that walls are 100% effective, here’s my challenge to you: Waive all secret service protection while you are in residence in the White House.

If you think that drones, sensors, and anything else non-wall related are just “bells and whistles,” remove those as well.

You have fences (“beautiful steel slat walls” as you refer to them) around the White House, and you allege that they are “100% effective.” Okay, then, go ahead and prove it to the American people. Get rid of all the security personnel and all of the “bells and whistles” and live in safety behind your 100% effective wall.

When you travel outside the “wall,” then by all means, you can have your secret service protection, but while in the White House, they won’t be necessary, because you’ll be protected by “the wall.”

Imagine the savings we could realize. No need to pay for those “guys with machine guns” around the clock. After all, they would be totally unnecessary, as you have a wall, right? 100% effective, right?

Please, Mr. Trump, take me up on my challenge. If you forego your security detail and show the people of the United States just how effective your wall can truly be, then everyone would see that absolutely we would be justified in building one along the Mexican border.

Do it for your wall. Do it for America. Cancel the Secret Service protection to make America great again.

Using Trump Logic on the Caravan

So, there’s a lot of debate about the need for the wall, and a lot of people concerned about immigration and fear-mongering about the dreaded “caravan of immigrants.”

I had never heard of MS-13 before Trump became president, but now, he’s using that as the boogeyman for immigration. So I decided to look into MS-13.

MS-13 is a criminal gang of narco-terrorists that originated in the US in the 70s and 80s, and maintains a huge presence in Central America, mostly in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. These are facts that I doubt Trump would disagree with.

MS-13 is terrible in those countries. Among other things, they target not only enemy gangs, but all the families associated with enemy gangs. They target police and government officials. They force children into their gangs. They are nothing short of a terrorist organization. And I believe Trump will still agree with this assessment.

But now knowing all that – MS-13 runs rampant in Central America, causing bloody chaos and killing all over the place – what about the families who live there? What about the parents who want to protect their children from these narco-terrorists? What can they do?

Well, they get together, form a caravan, and make their way north. They head to a country known for its freedoms and security. They head to the United States of America.

If you followed the caravan, they weren’t full of drug thugs heading to bring cocaine to our borders; most of them were families trying to flee the violence and chaos in Central America.

And where did the caravan go? Did it head to the wide open desert in the middle of Arizona, where the thousands of them could flee, unchallenged across the open border? No. They went to Tijuana.

When they interviewed these people in the caravan – and you have to give them the benefit of the doubt, just like I am doing with President Trump right now – they all came here wanting to plead their case for asylum. And based on what I have shown above, pleading their case for asylum seems like a slam dunk when their homeland is overrun with narco-terror gangs.

But what President Trump has done is to turn them away, and NOT allow them to make their case for asylum. “Sorry, America is closed to you. Go home.”

I think if given the choice, most of these undocumented immigrants would choose to come here legally and within the system. However, it’s been made clear to them they we don’t them here.

If we really want to cut down on immigration – without having to build a wall that we will constantly have to monitor, maintain, and repair – then here’s what we really need to do:

  1. Allow some immigrants with legitimate security claims to seek asylum within our country. If they haven’t committed a crime, why not take them in if they really want to be here?
  2. Bolster their governments at home to cut down on corruption and fight against groups like MS-13 in Central America. It worked with the war on terror to fight al-Qaeda and ISIS on their territory, so why don’t we do the same thing with groups like MS-13?
  3. Provide jobs for the people in their country. There’s a big reason illegal immigration started dropping after NAFTA: you no longer had to make a dangerous and illegal trek to America – there were good paying jobs in Mexico where you could earn a decent wage and take care of your family. We should be looking to expand free trade to these other countries, not cutting it off altogether.

Of course, this all works except for two things: we’re still sending jobs outside the country, and we’re still letting some Central Americans into the country.

If, after all that, you still think we need a wall – and to turn a blind eye to the evils occurring in Central America – then maybe you really have other problems. If you can’t look at the caravan and think that maybe some of them have a point for wanting to come here – and even considering that maybe of the hundreds of people at least some of them might have a valid reason to be let into this country – then maybe you’re just racist and xenophobic.

The Saudis are our friends?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – as those tanks left Kuwait in March 2003, they should have headed south instead of north.

The Saudis are NOT our friends.

Let’s just set aside that they killed a journalist in a consulate. We’ll cover that in a minute.

First, let’s not forget that the Saudis are working to make Qatar a pariah in the region, with the Saudis getting allies to cut off all ties with Qatar. Even President Trump supported them on this. The evidence for which the Saudis allege that Qatar should be cut off is flimsy at best and likely fabricated, but it was enough for Trump to jump on the Saudi bandwagon.

You might have heard of Qatar; it’s home to Al Udeid Air Base, home of 11,000 American troops fighting ISIS and trying to maintain stability in the region. You might also want to look up why the troops are there and NOT at Prince Sultan Airbase, where they were located during Desert Shield/Storm, and when that happened.

That’s because the move occurred just after 9/11/2001. And that’s the big one we can’t forget – 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi. They weren’t Afghani or Iraqi; nope, they were our “friends” the Saudis.

Now, let’s get back to the killing of the journalist. He was a US resident who entered a Saudi consulate and never exited. President Trump would have us believe that “rogue killers” just happened to accidentally kill him in the consulate and the government knew nothing about it. That could be a believable story if it happened at a nightclub; but this was on politically protected soil in a government building owned and operated by the Saudi government!

So what is the life of a journalist worth in President Trump’s eyes? Apparently less than $110 billion. Trump said he doesn’t want to scrap $110 billion of arms sales over this.

For the reasons I laid out above – and the mere fact that any country who is willing to resort to such drastic measures to silence their critics is certainly not our “friend” – perhaps we shouldn’t be doing business with them – and certainly NOT selling them a crap load of hi-tech weapons.

Trump and McCain

In a new low for even him, Trump refused to talk about John McCain, and then in an act of total cowardice, ordered the flag to be returned to full staff in the ultimate middle finger to the departed senator.

I expect that Trump will become even more incensed over the next few days due to one simple fact: No matter what he does, Donald Trump will NEVER be as beloved to the American people as John McCain.

I’ve had my differences with John McCain, particularly in 2008 when he sold his political soul to the conservatives and Evangelicals in his failed bid to win the White House. (Oh, if only the 2000 John McCain could have run in 2008!) He did redeem himself in the end when he finally referred to Obama as a “good man” and didn’t play into the “Obama is a secret Muslim” hype (are you listening President Trump?).

(In fact, as an aside, have you noticed that no one is talking to Sarah Palin about John McCain? Not that I mind – her fifteen minutes was up years ago. Just, sort of interesting.)

John McCain was all about sacrifice and service. These are things that Donald Trump claims to know about, but we all know that while McCain was being brutally tortured in Vietnam, Donny was suffering from bone spurs (funny how that doesn’t seem to affect his golf game). Donald Trump knows nothing about real service and sacrifice. And this was proven again yesterday in his own self-serving acts in raising the flag to full staff instead of leaving it at half staff to respect a veteran and patriot – the same ones he continually praises and invokes at his rallies as he claims to support.

One final thought: When the NFL players take a knee, I know they are protesting what they see as injustice. I know they aren’t protesting the veterans. However, Donald Trump continues to try to stoke that saying the players are “disrespecting veterans,” and his base eats that up.

Yet yesterday, when he raised the flag to full-staff, as a final “eff you” to John McCain – clearly disrespecting a veteran – that same base was noticeably quiet.

John McCain, you were a hero of mine. I wish you were President in 2000. You lost your way for a bit in 2008, but I was glad you found your way back to being the maverick you always were. I hope you inspire a whole new generation of mavericks who know what it means to put country above self, country above politics, and standing up for what you believe rather than what is politically expedient.

Giuliani defends the Russia Investigation

Well, sort of.

Rudy Giuliani, in trying to argue against the Russia investigation, further concreted its necessity with his now infamous quote “Truth isn’t truth.”

It’s just the latest attack in the Trump Administration’s war with the truth.

First came this one from Kellyanne Conway in January 2017: “Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts” when confronted about evidence of Trump’s crowd size.

That was followed up by this Orwellian quote from Trump himself on July 24, 2018: “Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. … What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

And then now, on August 19, 2018, we can add to it “Truth isn’t truth.”

I mean, it’s one thing to hear Trump lie – he does it all the time, and of course his political operatives spin it as “He’s exaggerating, don’t you understand sarcasm, it’s just hyperbole…”

But to hear them lying about the TRUTH? That’s just a whole other level of lying.

So what do they really believe?

One of my favorite podcasts is the In the Name of God – The Podcast!. Each week, Matthew the Apostle goes over all of the crimes committed each week by religious leaders. I bring this up, because this week, the Catholic Church was again in the news for covering up the abuse of over 1,000 children by over 300 priests.

This has led me to wonder – what do these people who commit these crimes REALLY believe?

These are the same people who are opposed to gay marriage because the Bible condemns it as a sin, but seem to have no problem with inappropriately touching kids or looking the other way when someone else does.

To which I really want to know: Have they lost their faith and are just putting on an act? That’s the only thing I can come up with for why, with all of their belief in a powerful judgmental God who sees all, hears all, and knows all, they would then go and commit this sin against God and expect Him to not be completely judgmental of them.

I would really love to interview one of these fallen leaders and ask them: do you still really believe in a judgmental God who will send you to eternal damnation, or do you think it’s BS, you can do what you want, and go through the motions for the purposes of appearances?

Either way, take a listen to the podcast. He’s been doing for years, and the news this week from Pennsylvania doesn’t even come close to what these people (from ALL religions) do week after week. And if that gives you pause, consider this – Matthew’s podcasts are only the tip of the iceberg. He only has 30 minutes each week to cover these “crimes for God” and there are many more that he doesn’t even have time to get to.

A new thing I can look forward to

There are some things that I optimistically look forward to with Trump as President.

Remember back in the 2016 debate with Hillary when he brought in all of the women who accused Bill Clinton of inappropriate behavior and had them seated in the front row to rattle Hillary? Well, I can’t wait for the first 2020 debate when Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal are seated up front in the audience. (Oh, and I’m sure there will be others, not to worry.)

Well, that’s the first thing I am looking forward to, but now I have a second thing I am looking forward to.

Trump removed the security clearance of John Brennan this week. He did it because Trump is a petty person with an extremely thin skin, but Trump offered the excuse (after at one point blaming the Russia investigation) that Brennan had “erratic” behavior,“increasingly frenzied commentary,” and used his clearance to “to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations.” (Does this sound like any current President we might know?)

In fact, in a “pot calling the kettle black” post, Trump is again continuing this line of thinking:

(Of course this tweet pretty much sums up my thoughts on Trump’s latest tweet:

But I digress.)

So the next thing I can look forward to is this: Since we have now set the precedent that all it takes for a security clearance to be revoked is erratic behavior, frenzied commentary, and unfounded and outrageous allegations, I am looking forward to Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 9:01 AM when President Trump will lose his security clearance.

And I do find it ironic that had he not been elected President, Trump himself would likely NOT have cleared the background investigation needed for a security clearance. (The foreign contacts, the repeated bankruptcy, hell even all of his marriages and infidelities would have taken years to complete.) Additionally, Jared “Nepotism” Kuschner couldn’t get security clearance for the first year (and likely only got one under direct threat from the evil emperor himself). I find it just simply astonishing that a President who wouldn’t be able to get a clearance himself is now determining who can keep their security clearances.

The world continues to turn upside down.

Spamfight is back – because you asked for it!

Years ago – a LONG time ago, as you will see – we had a member of the site who called himself “Nash Chovek Vladimir” or just “Nash Chovek” as he was known here.

Nash would bait Nigerian spammers and try to see exactly how long he could get them to hang on, desperate for money, and exactly what kind of pranks he could play on them along the way.

What brought Nash to my site was my Nigerian spam contest. My friend Doug and I were talking one day about how we each got about 3 emails that day, with each email promising us about $20 million. We added it up, and we were like “Between us, that’s like $120 million. Does Nigeria even have $120 million?”

It started off as a joke, but it took off. We decided we’d see who could get promised the most money from spammers over a six month period.

People gathered from across the internet, sending me their spam, which I dutifully tallied up. We offered up a $50 Amazon gift card to whoever could amass the most money, and as the contest grew, other prizes were added (including a free medieval weapon to the winner).

Along the way, a professor in Germany contacted me to assist her with her doctoral thesis, as I had amassed quite a collection of spam. The most interesting cultural phenomenon of the Nigerian spam? Spam targeting European addressed played on using the money for the recipient’s charities, while in the US it just played on our greed.

Finally, I was profiled by both the St Paul Pioneer Press and the Wall Street Journal because our winners of the contest – Naira, susu, and numbat – are the first (and possibly only?) people to have ever profitted off of Nigerian scam spam!

When the site came back, my friends over at “In the Name of God – The Podcast!” requested to see Spamfight again and the immortal adventures of Nash Chovek, the notorious Dr. Kaad Zias, and the supporting cast of Nigerian spammers.

Well, without further ado, I present the return of SPAMFIGHT – in all of its original FrontPage97 glory!