illegal immigrants

IRA? ISIS? What’s the difference?

I’m watching the horror unfold in the U.K. once  again.    Well, they’re calling it horror….I’ve yet to see any evidence.  But the Bobbies  are in full warfare regalia and ready to take down whatever comes down?     This  time, London is the target once again and while the investigation  is still early and not all that much is known in terms of what’s happening.  I’ve heard unconfirmed reports of a car running over people, the inhabitants getting out and stabbing people and there have been gunshots.

FOX started calling it Islamic terrorism right off the bat.    Everyone else is calling it an “event of some sort”,

Please!    These these aren’t the antics of pissesd off Lutheran Missouri Synod  members.

I watch all these attacks over too many years and I still wonder what makes these dreadful people do what they do,  believe what  they do.    What the hell is it with Religion and terrorism?    London is no stranger to deadly religious zealot.   Remember the IRA?

So, despite obvious  geological, religious and even ethnic differences. what’s the  what’s the difference between the Irish Republican Army and ISIS?

Helluva question.

I remember being in High School (news geek that I was then) and being absolutely horrified by the actions of Irish terrorists carried out in the name of Catholicism, well sort of.  .     I was raised Catholic and I was repulsed.   Other Catholics, family and friends, even our priest condemned the bombings as acts of terror and ‘murder.    Catholicism had  nothing to do with it.     The perpetrators just happened to be mostly Catholics.  That didn’t make their actions any less heinous.

I don’t know which  is older—-The Irish Republican Army had little to do with religion.  In fact,  Unlike ISIS, whose existence is predicated on strict religious tenets, the IRA’s fight was never religious. Ironically, the IRA fought for principles that ISIS finds abominable: human rights and equality.

The IRA never wanted a Catholic state, nor to purge the country of non-Catholics.    It was quite  the opposite, really, with its main objective was to expel a foreign force that had openly engaged in anti-Catholicism: Catholics in Northern Ireland had substandard education, scant employment opportunities and saw many of their rights eliminated.   The IRA’s primary goal was to force the British to negotiate a withdrawal from Northern Ireland, using guerrilla tactics against the British Army with lots  and lots of bombings.   And they bombed and killed a British Royals, too.

As for the terror that been compelling Islamist extremist to “misbehave” these days is probably as old but the how’s and why’s aren’t as clear-cut.  They’ve been killing  different sects within their own religion  for eons,

But let’s be real honest here, no one can or will ever proclaim Islam or Catholicism as pacifist religions.     I can cite a long laundry list of senseless murderous attacks s to prove my point for both religions AND. for both religions, the question then  become under what circumstances is the use of force is moral and justly applicable?

Do they even care?.

Ranking authorities in both faiths have denounced terrorism, whether by the Irish Republican Army and related groups made up of some Catholics..some merely pro-Catholic or by extremist minority Muslims in factions like the ISIS, but then they’ll go  conduct some bullshit  terror attack on a soft target a few days later.   ISIS must mean relentless in some language  somewhere.

Yeah, with both were formed with religious identity has been merged  with power, politics, and ethnic solidarity.

Are there differences?    Aye.   The IRA pretty  much ended their era of death with the  1998  Good Friday Agreement’s power-sharing between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.        ISIS?     Still,    active even as of an hour ago.   Islamic terrorism  and IT IS Islamic terrorism is an ongoing, large, well-organized and seemingly ineradicable movement, especially where democracy is limited.  ISIS also covers more territory :  Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen, Syria, the Philippines, Lebanon, Libya and apparently,  in parts of  London as well.

They do seem to have a jones for the U.K. though.  Three horrific  attacks in  as many weeks!!!     Can we expect another MOAB anytime soon, Donnie?        I’d say ready aim, fire!!!

Getting back to thecrux of the post, unlike  ISIS, whose existence is predicated on strict religious tenets, the IRA’s fight was never really religious. Ironically, the IRA fought for principles that ISIS finds abominable: human rights and equality. ISIS wants a caliphate…an Islamic state.    The IRA never wanted a Catholic state, nor to purge the country of non-Catholics. Quite the opposite, its main objective was to expel a foreign force that had openly engaged in anti-Catholicism: Catholics in Northern Ireland had substandard education, scant employment opportunities and saw many of their rights eliminated.

Other similarities  include their minions.  Supporters  for the IRA and the  Islamic  both represent minorities in divided communities. The IRA’s support base lies in Northern Ireland’s Catholic/Nationalist community, whilst in Iraq the so-called Islamic State draws support from the minority Sunnis.   Speaking of ISIS has succeeded in convincing Sunnis, who are oppressed by the Shiite governments of Iraq and Syria, that they have taken up their cause.   They get willingly brainwashed and believe the warped version of religion shoved down their throats and then that makes them myopic  jihadis zombies, pawns and shills all at once.

But there’s one other very significant difference between the NRA and ISIS.   The NRA we’re no angels by any means, but by and large they didn’t didn’t normally videotape the beheadings of their  victims, throw homosexuals from tall buildings, stone women or place  infidels in a cages with tigers.  And they were civil was war mongers  go.   Like the Israeli army currently does, the IRA , would often issue warnings before a bombing.

But does that offer solace to a mother who lost her son in the process–arranged bombing?    It doesn’t matter.

So, really, if the question asked is there a difference between the IRA and ISIS, then the answer is yes, in that the IRA is no more, but the answer to the question is also no.   If in the end game, elimination of all enemies is the main goal, what’s the difference?

And if I  want a MOAB to blow the hell out of every ISIS mainstay on the planet, then I guess that makes me a one woman terror organization.













The Language of Texas Cattle Ranching


The man that is Busby “Buzz” Owens is what you think of when you think of the classic Texas cattle rancher.

Sadly, the image we automatically conjure up has almost become a thing of the past. Today, the person who owns land and cattle in Texas has to be part cowboy, part businessman and certainly, part gutsy venture capitalist.

Owens is all that and more.

He’s a serious man. It’s obvious after meeting him that he rarely smiles and it safe to assume, he never laughs either. He is angry, too–that’s obvious. Nature and the economy haven’t been good to Owens and his ranching interests. His land has been in his family for four generations and he fears that, he’ll be forced to sell it. He’s got one son in Dallas with whom he wants to leave his land. Owens is doing everything he can in order to make that a reality, but it hasn’t been easy.

Physically, Owens is what we Texans call “a tall drink of water”–standing well over six feet in height. He’s thin, as is his gray hair. His skin is weathered by time.  It’s as tanned and leathery as the saddle he has mounted on his trusty steed, Boniface.

This is how I first meet Buzz Owens: he’s wearing his Stetson; his well-worn Tony Llama boots and he is on his horse.

It is textbook Texana at it’s best.

He tips his hat, slowly dismounts and asks me if I want to tour his property.

I accept his offer.

To fully survey his two thousand acre ranch in South Texas (I should mention here that Owens’ acreage is actually considered rather small by Texas standards) it requires a two ton pick up, a jeep and of course, Boniface.

On the day I was there to interview him about the state of ranching in Texas, we traveled the land in his truck. It’s late August in South Texas. It is very hot and outside it feels as though the Earth is angry. These are the days when living conditions in this part of the world are beyond inhospitable.

They can be lethal.

We traverse the rugged terrain in air conditioned comfort as Buzz regales me with tales about ranching back in the day. In the late seventies when times were good, he even used a small helicopter to help round up his herd which at the time, exceeded 300-head.

He spoke to me of the transient nature of ranching in the new millennium. I watched as the 71-year-old spoke…his eyes wincing  to emphasize certain points. There seemed to be an unintentional wistfulness to his voice. It told more about him then he probably wanted to reveal.

I knew immediately that over the years, change had been plentiful and apparently, painful for this old sodbuster.

In this part of the world, drought has always been a problem.

As a result, there were fantastic land prices that came and went; there were great cattle prices that came and went.

And that meant occasions of prosperity also came and went.

Oil had been discovered in the land surrounding around Owens, but over the years, several exploration teams had tried surveying and even drilling on his, but it never yielded a drop of oil. But land and cattle prices were always good as long as oil prices were solid.

But when the oil glut hit “the patch”, he suffered. He was forced to sell off more than a thousand acres of land in parcels and most of his cattle.

He now owns 11 cows, two bulls and a lot of land that isn’t being properly tended.

The bad times also cost him two marriages.

I could feel the blistering heat pour in as Owens rolled down the window of his truck to spit. “They was women only out for my money. When it left, so did they. Hell, I’m glad they’re gone”.

We rode for a while, not saying a word. The silence punctuated his sentence.

The drive was bumpy and when the front tires of the truck went over a rocky patch, I used that as an opportunity to ask Owens about illegal immigration and it’s effect on his ability to hire and keep ranch hands.

Like most Texas ranchers, the vaqueros he had hired over the years had all been from Mexico. They were here illegally, but Buzz says there were no better horsemen or cattle punchers on the planet. Over the years, as the economy forced him to sell off his land and cattle, he could no longer afford to pay them even the meager wages he had been paying them.

“I know I was breakin’ the law and such” says Owens. “But damned if it wasn’t a system that worked. And it did for years. Everybody did it. Besides, them guys needed to work and I needed them to work my land. Having them to help made all the difference. Now, I can’t get nobody to help..not for them kind of wages. Sometimes college boys from Laredo will work for me, but that’s only during the summer”.

Now Owns says, it’s a chore to keep illegals off his land. It’s proximity to the Texas/Mexico border—only 16 miles at the closest point—means that trespassing is constant. Owens resents it.

“It wasn’t like this before. They’re pests now, that’s what they are. They don’t wanna work for nothing, especially on the ranches. They used to, but things have changed. Now, they want to find work in the city, but they gotta travel across my land to get to San Antonio and points north. They steal and take and take and don’t care thing one about it. Again, I wanna stress–it wasn’t like that before”.

He winces again and slightly purses his lips before speaking again.

“They come walking through my land and I find old campfires and in drought conditions that’s so dangerous. I speak Spanish–you have to in these parts– and I’m constantly telling them to get off my land and calling the law on ’em but they out number the lawmen and those they do catch, they send back. But they’re back over here in few weeks”.

Owens’ land is dotted with man-made stock tanks. These are (for lack of a better word) ponds on his property used for the sole purpose of watering his livestock. They’re murky and stagnant and often used as places for the animals to stand in to cool off under the hot South Texas sun.

We approach one that’s near a clump of Mesquite trees.


As we drive up over a natural embankment and stop, we can see several men bending over the water. They’re obviously Mexican nationals–you can tell by their skin tone, the way they’re dressed and the fact that they’re on Owens’ land. They’re dipping their hands in the tank, filling them with water then drinking.

They don’t seem to be phased by the presence of the truck.

An angry Owens throws it in park and says, “Good Lord! There’s a few of ’em now!”

He opens the door, stands up halfway out of the truck and starts shouting. I open the passenger side window to listen. I speak Spanish.

In his excitement, Owens forgets and starts yelling in English, “Hey, don’t drink that water!!! It’s contaminated with cow manure and urine. Wild animals and livestock drink from that. It’ll make you sick. It could even kill you. Stop!!”

One of the men stops drinking…he looks up, his chin dripping with the squalid water, and he replies. “Soy Mexicano. No hablo Ingles y no quiero habla Ingles. No necessito hablar Ingles.

TRANSLATION: “I am a Mexican. I don’t speak English and I don’t want to speak English. I don’t have to speak English.”

Owens stood motionless; his withered left hand still gripping the top of the steering wheel for balance. I could see his knuckles whiten as he tightened his grip. I don’t know the man that Busby Owens is, but the bitter rancher I’ve come to know in the past hour, seemed to be getting angrier by the second.

Especially when the man shouted this back to him.

“Acabo de venir aquí ilegalmente de México. Estoy de aquí trabajar, mandar la espalda de dinero a mi familia en México. Yo me aprovecharé de asistencia médica libre, no paga los impuestos y tiene a muchos niños sin pagar un centavo y ellos serán en su mayor parte hijos que estarán con sus hijas. Al infierno con usted y con sus leyes estúpidas!”

TRANSLATION: “I just came here illegally from Mexico. I’m here to work, send the money back to my family in Mexico. I’ll take advantage of free health care, pay no taxes and have many children without paying a cent and they’ll be mostly sons who’ll be with your daughters. To hell with you and your stupid laws”.

Owens is silent for a minute. Then he shouts back, “Utilice ambos manos! Usted conseguira mas para beber en la manera!!

TRANSLATION:Use both hands! You’ll get more to drink that way!”

Busby “Buzz” Owens gets back in the truck and for the first time that day—probably for the first time in a long time—he cracks a smile and laughs.