Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Global Warming, Oil, and Testing our Faith

(Or, the grandiose meanderings of a sleep-deprived mind)

To begin, I will flatly say that I am not religious, nor am I spiritual. I personally no not subscribe to a belief in any higher power, intelligence, or being. I do, however, attempt to don the proverbial lenses of a sociologist and examine facets of our world as though I were religious. I mean no slight, affront, or challenge to the honestly religious among us. Your resolve is at worst admirable, at best inspiring.

On this tangent, I entertain the notion of tests of our faith. Every day, our faith in various things is tested; perhaps your car needed a few extra pumps of that gas pedal to get up and running this morning, perhaps your significant other seemed a little less than endearing to you this afternoon, perhaps your commute to work took a little longer than the 15 minutes it "always" takes.

Or, perhaps you noticed the leaves haven't yet changed color on the trees.

Maybe it really is a little warmer than it was last year.

Maybe these oil prices are not the cresting of a mountain, but the beginning of a long climb.

Maybe the oil really has run out.

We all have our tests; Job had his, he did not stray far from his faith, nor did he stray for long. Christ had his, and his faith in the goodness of humanity remained unwavering as he was breathing his last. We all have our tests, and for some of us, it is whether we choose to join allegiance with a self-styled man of faith and stand fast at his side as he plunges us ever further into perdition, or choose to follow the compass of faith within our own hearts, the guiding needle that has led us along the most rewarding path time and time again, and remain aloof from such temptation.

It seems the tests of faith which seem as murky as a silt-darkened pond, are the ones which offer the greatest reward for fortitude. Can we sustain ourselves as a global people without the assistance of oil? Is it too late to stop global warming? Is it too late to turn back from the brink?

Perhaps the dilemma of petroleum is a second chance at making good on a challenge held against us at our inception: that of the forbidden fruit. Is it coincidence that we slurp this viscous, opaque, noxious sludge from deep under our own feet, from far under our firmament? Is it coincidence that it is retrieved by great grinding monstrosities of steel, belching puffs of poison into our pocket of existence in the chilled desolation of space?

Or is it coincidence that we have available, yet untapped, at our fingertips, a plethora of energy sources that have surrounded us for every moment of our collective memory; that the same man who has led us so disastrously astray as a nation chooses to align himself with the profiteers who grow wealthy by drawing a dark energy from deep within the ground, as opposed to from the warmth and light of the day itself?

Are we supposed to believe that we will not toil as though we are beasts of burden, once this oil runs out? Are we supposed to believe that we cannot return to the light and free ourselves from the subterranean darkness?

Is it circumstance, that so many of the methods by which we lead such eased lives, by which we slowly poison and cook ourselves, originate from death and decay? Would it be so outlandish to expect that such morbid reduction may visit us in an ironic pirouette of fate, that we see ourselves frozen, drowned, and immolated as the final fruits of our sloth?

It may be a thread of coincidence that binds us together in such monumental tests of faith. It is certainly a choice, whether this thread will bind us to our collective demise.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Here's an idea for a I/P solution.

Offer military assistance to exterminate terrorist groups. It seems a lot of these groups are more powerful than the pitiful police forces possessed by nations in the area. The problem here is that these terrorist groups are as well-armed, and in cases, better armed than the governmental forces in the countries in which they operate.

With this in mind, military assistance should be offered to countries willing to move against violent groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc. Bombing being too broad of a solution, it should be kept in mind that such assistance be primarily ground-based personnel, but of course not to exclude the availability of air strikes in the event a large, isolated stronghold should avail itself. With in-country intelligence backed up with the expertise and strength of the IDF, elimination of terrorist groups should be made relatively easy.

The argument of "IDF should not be doing this job" falls apart when the same reasoning is weighed against our current escapade in Iraq.

Simply offering force assistance in eliminating terror is probably not incentive enough for agreement, so concessions in the areas of humanitarian aid, societal access, and in some cases, territorial agreements, could also possibly be offered as such. Perhaps offering engineering support in building infrastructure, or perhaps conceding a portion of the Golan Heights, contingent upon defense agreements, would go far in the pursuit of peace in the region.

Closed-minded critics would likely say Israel is giving up far too much with this type of plan. It is easy to fall into such pitfalls, thinking territorial concessions far from any kind of victorious solution, as opponents of diplomacy believe so strongly that there must be a singular winner in any agreement, that they are likely willing to witness continuations and escalations of violence in the area, as opposed to accepting a bilateral agreement which has actual hope of solving such a deep-rooted problem.

The past 50 years are rife with evidence that terror can not be simply bombed into oblivion. It remains, however, the prerogative of Israel, as the most powerful force for Democracy in the region, to be the benevolent broker of peace and stability. Even comic book writers impart the adage that power comes not from the ability to use the force we possess, but to find ways not to.

Hell, even Reagan, with all his faults, remains in the pantheon of leaders for his ability to keep from resorting to outright war with the Soviet Union in the final years of the Cold War. I'm fairly sure that it is no coincidence that we are not reaping a whirlwind of terror on our shores from Russian organizations, as it is no coincidence that we are, instead, seeing Middle Eastern terrorism breaching our borders and damaging our interests abroad.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Getting the point across: Dangerously Late Edition

Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are fundamentalist clerics.

No two ways about it.

Another "horseshit-to-bullshit" transformation

From the Washington Post:
WASHINGTON--In late January 2003, as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell prepared to argue the Bush administration's case against Iraq at the United Nations, veteran CIA officer Tyler Drumheller sat down with a classified draft of Powell's speech to look for errors.

He found a whopper: a claim about mobile biological labs built by Iraq for germ warfare.

Drumheller instantly recognized the source, an Iraqi defector suspected of being mentally unstable and a liar. The CIA officer took his pen, he recounted in an interview, and crossed out the whole paragraph.

A few days later, the lines were back in the speech. Powell stood before the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 5 and said: ``We have first-hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails.''

(Emphasis Mine.)

Shit, for a second there I thought they weren't bullshitting us. Fucked again.

What is it with these asshats? Do they honestly think they can hide facts from the whole damn world or something? Do these tools honestly believe they can just magic the truth into think air (and magic pure graft into legitimate reality) or am I just mistaken, missing their "just fuckin' kiddin' around, guys" punchlines?

Regardless of what the jokers in Washington think they're getting away with, here's a short list of rationalizations that are no longer valid:

WMD's (before the fact)
WMD's (after the fact)
Terrorism (oh god we shit on the cat with this one)
Freedom in Iraq (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh wait. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I'm sorry, this isn't supposed to be funny.)

Still-valid rationalizations:

"American interests."

Friday, June 23, 2006

Truth in Journalism: Overrated.

It has come to my attention that many journalists place an unfairly high value on the aspect of truth in reporting. See, what is truth, really? It is just a subjective construct in our minds. What if I were to call someone in California, from here in Florida, and tell them it's raining outside? How truthful would I be if they were to look out their window and see that it is actually a sunny, cloudless day? Or what if I told you that "prey" is spelled "pray?" How truthful would I be then?

This abnormally high value placed on such a subjective aspect is hurting journalism. Why would a patron continue to read a newspaper if all it reports is the truth? What if the patron doesn't see this as truth? What if, in fact, the "horrific vulgarities" of war provided them vast benefits? Would that mean that war is horrific and vulgar? Why play up the aspects of death, pain, sorrow, and destruction when war could be providing such benefits to a specific reader? I reiterate: Truth is subjective. One man's truth is another man's lies. Put options become valuable when a stock is declining in value. How could someone holding stock see the situation as good? Conversely, how could someone holding put options for the same stock see the situation as bad? Clearly, this overrated "truth" concept must go.

What if, for instance, there was a news outlet that reported nothing but unambiguously positive stories? Firemen in small towns rescuing kittens from trees, lost puppies finding their way home, a politician making people laugh. If the story is unambiguously positive, then the wholly unreasonable "requirement" for truth is satisfied, while remaining positive. We do not need to look very far for these kinds of things. In fact, we should strive not to report on stories outside of our borders, lest the ogre of the negative rear it's vile head.

Effectively, we don't need to hear the negative stories about the world in which we live. Is it not better to hear about an uplifting story from Iraq than it is to hear about the 75 young men and women who were killed in the process leading up to the subject of that positive story? Everyone knows it's better to hear about happy people than it is to hear about angry or dead people. In addition to the difference there, scientific studies show that happy people live longer lives, so angry people become dead people much faster than happy people. This leads to the inexorably valid conclusion that since dead people don't necessarily cause a whole lot of extra news after their death, and since angry people become dead people more frequently, we need not report on angry people or dead people, as all this would do is further the cycle leading the angry to their graves. Let them go to their eternal rest and let us not be upset by their anger or passing.

If someone is unhappy, they are likely to work towards being happy, or at least, happier. A great way to help this process along is to continually shower them with a positive media, and show them often how wonderful happiness is. Why would we need to remind them of their own unhappiness with negative reporting? This would likely drive them further away from self-satisfaction and towards an early grave. The point here is that if there is only positive news, then more people will be happy, and if patrons feel uplifted by your positive-only reporting, then of course they will continue to bless you with their business! A win-win for both patron AND outlet.

Unfortunately, some people believe that this concept of "truth" in reporting should be adhered to, even if the news is not always positive. They feel that virtues, not patrons, are important. It is my belief that the importance lies wholly in the patron and the satisfaction and overall happiness of the patron. Journalists who value this path of "truth" are shunning their patrons and should be ashamed for valuing it so much.

As I bring this essay to an end, I ask, why demand truth? Why spurn the prospect of a positive report and embrace the dour vagaries of truth? Will this truth be so important when you have no patrons? How about, if a tree tells the truth in the forest and nobody hears it, is it really the truth? My answer is no. This hyped-up emphasis on truth by some unscrupulous and unpatriotic reporters is harming America and, in my opinion, being a real bummer. Come on guys, cheer up. Be pragmatic. Be zealous.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Neoconservativism not working, says founder

Yesterday, Bill Kristol, a “big brain” and quite possibly the biggest one behind today’s Neoconservative movement, went on Fox News in order to explain how President Bush has failed so spectacularly in his attempt at forwarding the aims of Neoconservativism.

Now, I’m not here this time to muse about how terrible Bush is, or how badly he’s failed in nearly every aspect of running the country, but to explain a little about Kristol’s attempt to separate Bush from Neoconservativism and how the movement itself is doomed to failure.

Kristol, on Fox news Sunday, spent his time on camera explaining that Bush’s failures are not failures of the Neoconservative agenda itself, but rather poor execution by an inept President. You see, the Neoconservatives spent many years positioning themselves, backing the right candidates, and putting their agents in the right places at the right times in order to amass the political army they have today. Yet, with all of this might, with all of the boons that have come their way, they have failed to achieve their goals. Many people are questioning the President, and the Neoconservative movement at large due to this.

However, it has occurred to me that many people believe that Neoconservativism is just a militaristic, quasi-fascist movement that aims solely to rule the world through force of arms. This is not entirely true; quasi-fascism and militarism are key parts, though the use of force and the expansion of the capability to use force is a key part in Neoconservative aims.

Neoconservativism, at its core, aims to create an “American Empire,” though not in the way the British Empire existed at the turn of the century. They do not plan on creating a world-wide garrison composed of fortified colonies at all points on the globe. The idea is that we generate an economy capable of infinitely increasing the defense budget. This is achieved through international relations, some military, others non-military. However, they must be profitable to the US.

In order to create the huge international economy supportive of an ever-growing defense budget, we must create economic allies in the world’s other economic giants. As for the Third World and other nations that have resources at hand, but are not using them to US advantage, military force is used in order to seize these resources and turn them to generating wealth for the US. Because of this fact, it is no lie that the war in Iraq is a war for oil. However, oil wealth only in Iraq is not the only motivator of force there.

Our actions in Iraq are precisely aimed in order to give other nations in the area a concrete target to push against. Instead of having an ideological construct to fight against, fundamentalist theocracies such as those in Iran and to a lesser extent Saudi Arabia now have an American army in their neighborhood to motivate solidarity and help recruit new allies for their cause. This opposition plays directly into the hands of Neoconservativism in that it gives the US layman an enemy to be fearful of, as well as giving politicians an enemy to offer protection from. Since much of the world’s petroleum-based energy comes out of, or travels through the Middle East, they now have political allies in the US who are enabling them to push for the use of force against other, new, Middle Eastern oil-rich countries, thus continuing the cycle of usurping wealth in order to grow the defense budget, in order to wrest more wealth from the hands of the uncooperative.

Many people can see that the First World is saturated with American globalized economic interests, and the Second World is becoming almost equally saturated, with the Third World and the remainder of the world’s natural resources lagging behind this saturation. Since much of the Third World is more or less opposed to American imperialism, the use of force is needed by Neoconservatives in order to secure the wealth in those countries.

This symbiotic cycle of the growth of strength and the subsequent use of strength to secure more wealth for more growth is the crux of the Neoconservative movement. If they cannot use non-violent political action to create US-friendly terms with other countries, they then elect to effectively beat people into giving up their wealth. Concisely, Neoconservativism conducts muggings on an international scale.
If other countries have no wealth to build militaries of their own, then they cannot conduct effective resistance to further takeovers. The benefit of this to the Neoconservative movement is obvious and needs no explanation.

Because of these facts, the Neoconservative movement is doomed to failure, as eventually, it will reach a critical mass past which no further growth is possible, and the “empire” will begin to crumble and fade into obscurity. Since we have exhausted the prospects of non-violent international economic growth, the result is military action to continue this growth. Using a military costs a lot of money and uses a lot of resources. The bigger the military, the more resources it uses in order to complete the same tasks. It is likely that this critical mass has been reached, or is being reached with Iraq, and we simply do not have the ability to generate further economic growth to create the ability to secure more resources. Like a game of StarCraft, we’ve used all the expansion sites and simply can’t generate units fast enough to go after the enemy bases.

Neoconservativism has failed, and the creators of the design, the Himmlers, Rommels, and the Goerings are all shaking their heads once again in total disbelief that their perfect and infallible opus has somehow become not only wholly fallible, but rife with glaring imperfections.

Instead of accepting that their ideals have failed on a fundamental basis, Neoconservatives are entering a period of denial, blaming Bush and “executive incompetence” for the failures of Neoconservativism on an ideological level. Like the old-guard Communists who will argue endlessly that Communism failed “because real Communism was never tried,” they are trying to push blame for an idea doomed from inception on to the people diligently following directions.

The language of “rugged individualism” and “personal responsibility” has never been more scathing to Neoconservatives than now. While Reagan, another instrument of Neoconservativism, (note the number of people who have served in Reagan’s administration as well as both Bush administrations) spoke about taking responsibility for actions, the Neoconservative movement has now shown its true craven identity with this huge outpouring of denial on the airwaves and in print.

Like lions circling a pack of wildebeests, they have already picked off the slow, the sick, and the weak prey, and worked their way through stronger and stronger targets. They’ve reached the center of the pack, where the resistance is strongest, and are now finding out that they simply can’t take care of the last of their intended prey. Instead of accepting that their plans didn’t work, they are now blaming each other for failures that were not caused by any one man or woman, but failures that were written into the genetics of their broken ideology.