Monday, January 31, 2005

Votes In - For Me, Jury's Still Out

MSNBC - MSNBC Front Page

The front page at MSNBC has a rather poignant photograph of an Iraqi man at a polling place, explaining the vote to his baby daughter. In a simplistic way it's a beautiful image, but as I look at it I force myself to remember the myriad of photos that came out of Fallujah on Google that were nowhere near as pleasant.

And so now we will wait and see what happens. As I wrote in response to the Art of The Blog, assuming it isn't a rigged game (a BIG if, there) and the result is a government of American-sponsored quislings, as was the case with Karzai in Afghanistan, this election could be a very good thing. Of course, the real challenge is going to be keeping it afloat in the face of the Iranians. I have always believed, as I wrote in a previous article, that if there was any positive reason for the US to be in Iraq, it is that once the Americans leave, we will almost certainly see an Iranian sponsored Shi'ite theocracy establish itself in Iraq within six months. Even assuming he stays in office, Allawi's fibreglass regime would be less than powerless to stop it...he can't even hold back domestic unrest, let alone an Iranian tidal wave...especially considering that Shi'ites are already the majority in Iraq.

And then of course there are the Kurds...Wildcards always keep things interesting. As a current headline on says, the Kurds are planning on demanding an important post in the new Iraqi government. I find myself thinking however, that demanding by no means is the same as getting. I am predicting that rather tragically, when the dust settles the Shi'ites will announce to the other factions in the country that they are now firmly in charge...and that if said other factions aren't happy with that state of affairs, their two forms of remedy are exile or lead poisoning.

As far as America going to Iran is concerned, my money says that it will happen, but rather disastrously and only very briefly once a) Shrub and his keepers find out what an almighty hornets' nest they've stirred up by going there, and b) domestic America finally wakes up (I'm thinking around 2008 for this one, when Pluto finally goes into Capricorn) and forcibly removes the Palpatine wannabes in the White House (Rove, Cheney et. al.,) even if Shrub himself decides to go quietly.

Interesting times, these. Interesting times.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Defending Terrorism?

Defending Terrorism?

>How about having an actual election in a few days (as opposed to those in which Saddam got >100% of the vote)?

Assuming that the elected government resulting from such an event is a) genuinely Iraqi, and not merely an American sponsored collective of previously exiled Iraqi quislings, such as the notorious Ahmed Chalabi, b) somehow manages to be at least reasonably inclusive/representative of Iraq's various ethnic groups, (a difficult prospect, I am willing to admit) and c) most especially achieves a genuinely representative result that is not rigged in the favour of any particular group, (and I don't just mean the Americans here either) then yes, I would agree with the idea that an Iraqi election would be an extremely positive event...and I would also agree with the concept that such an election, if successfully held, could be the beginning of a hopefully more stable Iraqi society.

The security situation is of course still precarious as well. I would be open to the idea that an election might have a substantially greater chance of success if the foreign muhajedeen were able to be expelled from the country. While I do not believe, as per some reports, that foreigners are entirely or even primarily responsible for violence inside the country, I do believe that they are greatly exacerbating a situation which would otherwise be sufficiently volatile on its own.

>BTW – Fallujah is not destroyed. The bomb factories, the weapons caches, etc. are now gone, as >are the terrorists who inhabited the city.

That is not entirely consistent with what I have read so far from other sources. However, I am willing to concede that it appears to be notoriously difficult to obtain truly objective information. One of the main problems with issues such as this (which from what I've read has been at least partially the reason for the creation of the blogosphere itself) is the inability to obtain information that is totally free of propaganda. I have tried to track down some more information on Fallujan bomb factories specifically, and uncovered this article by Max Boot in the LA Times, among others. Irrespective of whether the numbers themselves are correct, I will admit that I found this article to be rather heavily propagandist in tone, but not necessarily moreso than others I have read from either side of the partisan fence. Propaganda would seem to be an unavoidable side effect of war.

>The question, though, seems to be that, unless I am mistaken, you would find it more palatable
>if they were able to go to work without terrorists bombing them because they were living under
>a despot’s rule (as the terrorists wish).

No, not at all. What I am worried about is whether the Iraqis genuinely are going to obtain self-rule, and this is not something I feel is threatened purely by the occupation, either. I have often worried that when the occupation ends, an Iranian-sponsored Shi'ite theocracy would appear in Baghdad inside of six months later, especially seeing as the Shi'ites are a majority in Iraq. The problem is that Iraq seems to be staring down the barrel of essentially either becoming an American possession on the one hand (in order to keep the other countries at bay), or ending up with proxy rule from either Iran or possibly Syria/Saudi Arabia on the other. I want to see the occupation end, but I also want to see Iraq gain genuine self-rule...and none of the other countries around it seem to be willing from what I've seen to allow that to happen. They virtually all seem to have some kind of interest in it.

>And, do you, like a commenter I had a while back, want to claim that the U.S. troops actively
>try to kill civilians?

Realistically speaking, soldiers, regardless of nationality, kill people. Soldiers also in many cases, regardless of nationality, periodically rape, loot, and commit attrocities. Killing people (and engaging in barbaric and destructive activities generally) is what soldiers are trained and very often temperamentally inclined to do, particularly in volunteer armies. A minority become soldiers specifically because they enjoy killing people, and being a soldier gives them a certain amount of latitude to do so. This scenario also is not Star Trek, and the US army are not the Federation...They're human, and presumably also of a dubious educational level in many instances as well, again as soldiers usually are. They also (as is normal for humans of either gender, though males perhaps slightly moreso) presumably have copious amounts of testosterone and adrenaline present in their bloodstream...two hormones which are well known for encouraging violent acts. In addition, the generation currently serving in Iraq have to a degree been raised since birth on a steady cultural diet of nihilistic, gothic music and highly sociopathic, computer generated graphic violence, often accompanied with equally extreme demonological/dark pagan imagery. (Doom 1-3, Diablo 1-2, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel etc) I could accept that this material may not necessarily have increased their inclination towards violence, but at the very least it would have desensitised them to it.

Also, if there are any among the US troops who believe that Iraq was connected with 9/11, then given human nature it is not outside the realms of possibility that they would want to exact what they might see as revenge. Doubtless you will perhaps argue that such is entirely justified...however there are those of us who have doubts as to whether or not Iraq and 9/11 actually are related to each other, and we are generally even more doubtful that even assuming Sadaam was somehow connected with it, that this means that the average Iraqi was also.

Why don't we understand?

The Art of the Blog: Terror Against Freedom

>When will the Left understand that the terrorists are fighting against freedom itself and not just
>the U.S.?

The reason why we cannot fully understand or accept this statement is because it is at least partially erroneous. It is based, at least to a degree, on an emotive oversimplification of the situation in Iraq.

(From Merriam-Webster's)
Main Entry: free·dom
Pronunciation: 'frE-d&m
Function: noun
1 : the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : INDEPENDENCE c : the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous <freedom from care> d : EASE, FACILITY freedom> e : the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken freedom> f : improper familiarity g : boldness of conception or execution h : unrestricted use freedom of their home>
(End quote)

Please give me concrete examples...even one would suffice...of how exactly the US military's presence in Iraq has increased the freedom of that country's population according to the definition above. I am not being sarcastic or making a rhetorical statement here, either...I would genuinely like to know, if someone can tell me, how it is that the invasion of Iraq has improved the standard of living for Iraq's population...if this has indeed happened, as many people seem to maintain. I also understand that a likely argument here would be the removal of Sadaam Hussein. If Abu Ghraib, the destruction of Fallujah, and several other attrocities had not occurred, I would be able to agree with the concept that Sadaam's removal has been a blessing for the country. However, it does Iraq no good to remove a murderous dictator if those who remove him themselves begin to behave just as badly as he did.

I would be as happy as the next person if freedom by this definition genuinely had been established in Iraq...however, from everything I've seen, the opposite is in fact true. Iraqi people do not in many cases have access to basic utilities...many of them are not free to leave their homes for fear of being bombed or shot, and so they are thus unable to engage in their livelihoods or perform tasks which for most other people are part of daily life. To me, this is not freedom. Freedom should include things like the freedom to work...the freedom to go outside one's home without fear of getting one's head blown off.

To answer another of your points however, that the "terrorists" are now attacking "Muslims"; There are at least two major groups currently engaged in geurilla/insurgent activity in Iraq at this time, as most of us know...Iraqi citizens themselves, who are engaged in an insurgency based on nationalistic motivations, and foreigners (who would be much closer to the definition of your use of the word "terrorists" I suspect) from Syria, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, who are using the invasion of Iraq as an excuse/opportunity to further their own violent agendas, whatever they may be...they appear to have several motivations for being in Iraq, and as you say, assisting the genuine Iraqi national resistance (which I believe does exist) does not appear to be one of them for the most part.

If you could define more concretely what you mean by terrorists being "against freedom itself," we could talk about that...Indeed, I would like to. I can only assume that what you mean is that you believe that these people desire an anarchic, neofeudal/warlord oriented society such as the one currently existing in Afghanistan and Somalia, among other places. It is very possible that to a degree anyway, this could perhaps be true...and I would also agree with the concept that such a society would, at least in theory, be more conducive to the creation/breeding of armed individuals, who would then definitely have the *potential* to become terrorists. The problem with invading such countries however is that in order to pacify them, the occupying army is then forced to behave in ways similar to the dictator/terrorists has happened in Iraq.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Aren't Natural Disasters Bad Enough?

W and Dostoevsky- by Justin Raimondo

Given the degree of environmental upheaval that has been predicted for the period between now and 2012, I find myself thinking that a President wanting to play Darth Vader is the very last thing the world needs at the moment. Although I'm assuming it wouldn't have been, I would have considered it supremely appropriate for the Imperial March to accompany Bush's steps up to the podium to deliver the address.

The deeply tragic irony of course is that although the kneejerk response of many who are supposedly right wing would be to label me a Communist, (I'm actually not, as even this profile doesn't entirely fit me...I'm more moderate than what it describes, for the most part) the rhetoric of Bush's speech had Bolshevik echoes as Justin claims, which is something that I find frankly terrifying. Communism was no answer...It was a murderous mistake, as was extreme fascism. Yes, maybe I veer slightly towards what I've heard referred to as the left...but from everything I've seen, that is only because I care about people and because I genuinely want to apply the Golden Rule with regards to my own behaviour...that means I try not to have any double standards. Ergo, the reason why I don't believe in war/killing people is because I know how much I myself don't want to be killed. I also believe that violence is the easy thing to do...It is so much easier to destroy than it is to take life rather than to give or sustain it.

The true political answer in my mind though can only be moderation...because if you go too far to an extreme in either direction, it causes people to die in enormous numbers. There has to be a balance. The other thing about balance is that it is a scenario in which everyone else's political opinion, regardless of whether you agree with them or not, can survive. I might not agree with some of the things I've seen here, but I would never advocate taking away the right of Glenn Reynolds or anyone else for that matter to express their opinion...Again, mainly because I know how much I want and need to be able to express mine. The other thing is, diversity of opinion is something we need if we're going to figure out better solutions to problems...if everyone thinks the same way, everyone is also going to adopt the flaws present in that particular line of thinking...because no human ideology is or can be perfect.

Bush's supporters might wonder why I think he is so terrible, but despite the number of times Bush used the words liberty and freedom in his speech, Iraq has given us ample demonstrations of how in reality Bush's administration applies those principles. The primary thing Iraq's population stands any chance of being liberated from is their lives...and the same goes for the rest of the Middle East from what I've been seeing.

I just find myself hoping that given everything we're likely going to experience in the next seven years, that humanity truly can make it. I think we can survive...but I also think it's going to get pretty rough before it gets better.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Oh, my aching head

I went to my father's place for a barbecue on Saturday night and drank far too much alcohol. I'm not sure whether it's age or what but for some reason it's taking me longer to recover than ever before...My head is still aching fairly severely.

I'm probably going to have to try and lay off it more or less completely...I don't think I partake any more than the usual once-per-quarter binge that most people seem to engage in these days, but even that seems to be too much for me now. I guess I'm getting too old. ;)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Moving in

I've moved over here from LiveJournal. Although the setup here looks rather more professional generally, the main reason why I've moved is because I wanted TrackBack support. Although I don't think Blogger has TrackBack natively, there's an add-on thing which I created a membership for a week or so ago...hallogen or something I think it's called.

Anyway, I'll be writing commentary on various things here, rather than simply replying to posts on Slashdot as I had been earlier. I also like commenting on politics.

A few other things I might as well get out of the way, so that those who aren't going to like my views anyway can have advance warning. I like to be courteous and considerate where I can. ;-)

I've been rated on various political spectrum sites as being a Libertarian Socialist...My score results usually seem to put me in a fairly similar area to Gandhi in particular ideologically...although I'm not sure how accurate that is because I certainly don't believe in pacifism in *all* instances...I generally only think conflict should be engaged in after a LOT of deliberation, though. But I'm definitely not the being of light he was (as you can probably already tell *grin*) and I don't actually want to be either, to be honest...I think I'd find it rather boring. I also consider myself well and truly a member of what the neoconservative movement has called the "reality based community." Sorry, guys. ;-)

I'm also not sure how much of the *Socialist* part of the LS term really applies to me either. I'd definitely describe myself as anti-authoritarian...enthusiastically so...but I don't really think of myself as enormously left wing. Then again, I've noticed that if you don't agree these days with the idea that corporations should be able to rape and pillage whenever/wherever they please, and to hell with the consequences, you're immediately labelled a foaming-at-the-mouth Marxist. So I guess I can't really win on that score.

The Kiersey test identified me as an INTP (Inventor). I'm also rated as an EAS (Explorer) by Richard Bartle's MMORPG test. And (for good measure, so that anyone who disagrees with my posts has some really juicy ammunition with which to make fun of me) my average IQ test score is generally around 150. Astrologically speaking (Western tropical, non-sidereal system) I'm a solar Aquarian in the 11th house with Moon in Capricorn in the 10th house, Venus/Chiron/AC in Aries, and north node in Libra in the 7th house. I might post a jpg of my chart from Astrodienst at some point if anyone's interested.

These factoids aren't necessarily meant as brags...the Lib Socialist datum and astrological stuff definitely isn't. It's more to help potential readers sketch out a mental image of who I am/where I'm coming from.

I was going to list in bullet form a more brief description of my interests so you'd know EXACTLY what to expect, but then I thought, where's the fun in that? It'll be far more gratifying for you to get drawn in slowly (hopefully) with less idea of what to anticipate. *grin* Besides which, what I'm interested in now isn't necessarily what I'm going to STAY interested in in the future.

I'm really interested in getting the Blog This button working for my browser, although I use Firefox so unfortunately I have no idea whether it'll work for me. Internet Exploiter still seems to be the universal standard these days for some inexplicable reason. The endlessly long arm of Darth Bill can be held responsible for that, I suppose. ;-)

Anywayz, I'm off to find out about that and get Trackback working. I really want Trackback...After all, what on earth is the point of verbally abusing someone unless you can then make them aware of it? ;-)

the lil lioness =^.^=

the lil lioness =^.^=

Interesting...The first Aussie blog I've seen yet. It feels strangely very jarring whenever I run into anything Australian online most of the time...because I realise that although I live in Australia physically, I'm not really there mentally/psychologically at all, (I spend most of my time online, and generally communicate with people from other places) and have not been for a long time. So there can be a very strange disconnect.

Yahoo! News - Bush Regrets Language That Hurt U.S. Diplomacy

Yahoo! News - Bush Regrets Language That Hurt U.S. Diplomacy

It's times like these when I truly find myself wondering exactly what it is that Bush's advocates and supporters see in the man. The number of diplomatic and oratorical gaffes and blunders he has made truly boggle the mind. Credit where it is due though, I suppose...Even one of his halting, supremely linguistically challenged apologies is better than none at all, if only marginally.

I find myself feeling the same kind of grim fascination with regards to the Bush administration's reputation these days as possibly was felt by those witnessing the final moments of the sinking of the Titanic. You never know where the next explosion is going to come from, or which piece of wreckage is going to be the next to fall off the larger, disintegrating structure. the outer...: is the West morally superior? the outer...: Your take

Short answer: No.

Long(er) answer: No, and the fact that it thinks it is is probably in itself one of the main reasons why it isn't. But you mentioned the Judeo/Christian element in the question as well. That is an important element. I've attended a number of churches over the years, but the last one I attended was a local Pentecostal church. I observed there a trend which I'd seen in other churches as well, although probably not to as marked a degree as at this particular church. The observed phenomenon was a large percentage of the congregation being afflicted with varying degrees of mental/emotional instability...hysteria and symptoms associated with panic/anxiety disorders were probably the most common. The other thing was, the people in question knew they had problems...but they simply believed that if they continued to pray and engage in the activities of the church, they would eventually recover. The problem is that they did not, and when I suggested they seek secular therapy (simply because what they were currently doing obviously wasn't working) I began to be seen by some of them as evil.

The bottom line is, I believe Christianity as it has been traditionally observed and practiced, has been found to both be rather oblivious concerning certain aspects of human nature, and therefore incapable of dealing with certain aspects of contemporary human life. Homosexuality is probably the greatest single example of what I'm talking about here. Although there are a lot of people who probably still don't advocate it for their own reasons, the fact is that quite a large number of people want and are going to be gay, irrespective of heterosexual desires/opinions. The original Christian answer to this would apparently simply be to kill the people in question. Given the number of people currently on the planet who fall into the homosexual category, I hardly think that is a humane or civilised response, even coming from people who may still oppose homosexuality as a concept. This is only one example however...There are many others which illustrate issues that I believe Christianity in a formalised sense has become theologically ill-equipped to deal with.

I think it is very important to emphasise here that this is in no way a statement about Jesus Christ as an individual at all...Rather, the disenchantment that I have experienced in the last few years has been a product almost entirely of the extraneous theological framework which has grown up *around* Christ in the two thousand years since his departure. Christianity as a complete religion has adopted and integrated a lot of other elements over the years...Paganism has almost always been a tremendous influence on Catholicism, as one example. Southern Baptists and various other hardcore Evangelicals should be aware of that. For anyone who is interested, there is a fantastic site here which talks about the possible pagan origins of the concept of Hell in particular, and notes the similarities to the Greco-Roman depiction of Hades/Tartarus. This would also tend to bear out my observation that the more ardent/fanatical an Evangelical or Pentecostal Christian is, the less likely they are to know about these kinds of things...Precisely because they are taught that independent research and thinking is the height of evil. I dismiss this however as the worst form of spiritual and intellectual cowardice. The very first criteria of any religion worth preserving in my mind is its ability to withstand critical analysis. Another question I think Evangelicals would do very well to ask themselves is, "What is my internal emotional state?" The reason why I mention this is because although the apostle Paul writes about one of the fruits of the Spirit being love and soundness of mind, what I experienced at church myself was customarily almost exactly the opposite. The usual stance, as Karen Horst Cobb puts it, was "so much to fight, so much to destroy." It's normal and entirely appropriate for people with some sort of code of ethics and conscience to have certain things that they are opposed to the idea of...but I tend to think that such can also be taken to a deeply ugly extreme...Especially if you're trying to validate the concept in your own mind that you're a member of some kind of supposed last bastion of human morality.

I know I am a sinner. I know like everyone else, I screw up on a fairly frequent basis. However, I also know that it is completely self-defeating and worthless to base my entire life around a preoccupation with that fact. The other thing Evangelicals need to have a good hard look at is...if we were originally sinners, and Christ dying/being ressurected removed our sin, then the concept of it is not something we should have to continue to be obsessed with. This is just another of their countless logical inconsistencies...but then again, it's probably worth remembering that in reality their belief system exists within a complete vacuum as far as logic is concerned, anyway.

Moving away from Christianity, another point I could make about the inferiority of contemporary Western society is, among other things, it's overwhelming reliance on oil. The nihilist in me thinks it's going to be extremely amusing to watch everyone start running around like chickens with their heads cut off once peak oil hits. The infuriating thing about this is, given hydrogen's availability, the only real reason why society is still dependent on oil is the amount of money certain people would stand to cease making if we weren't.

Yet another argument that could be made against the moral superiority of Western society is the existence of wonderful places like this, and other such cities where seemingly almost the entire local economy is based on pornography and prostitution. Given my recent critique of Christianity, people are probably going to wonder why I would bring this up. My answer is that I don't like extremism on either side of the fence. I don't believe in damage being done to human beings in any form, whether it's Christian psychological/spiritual abuse of the likes of this on the one hand, or something closer to the Vegas kind on the other. The story pointed to by that last link is fictional, but I believe it does a good job of portraying at least one type of underlying mindset that accompanies pornography.

So...Corrupt, damaging, filthy, exploitative, demoralising, and Western society morally superior? Hell no.

"Gee Brain - What are we going to do tomorrow night?"


I might not agree with much else of what I've seen on this site, but this post expresses a sentiment I *can* relate to. Mind you, I suspect my own reasons for considering the UN irrelevant differ considerably from those of the Martinipundit. I consider the UN to be not much more than just another attempt by just another group (the Third World, in this case) to feather its own nest and seek world domination...whereas I suspect the Martinipundit's dislike of the UN comes primarily from the fact that it is not under the control of his beloved Genghis Bush, and is therefore not serving Bush's own quest for the aforementioned world domination. And before anyone accuses me of being a racist because of the above possibly perjoritive use of the term "Third World," I will emphatically state that I am not. Rather I am someone who observes that the desire to take over the world appears to be a universal human tendency, regardless of the ethnicity or point of origin of the person/s involved. So saying there's a UN conspiracy to take over the world is not in itself racist...because as I said, from what I've seen *everyone* wants to. Although I will say I for one do not. A substantially large amount of money would be nice, yes...but rulership of the planet would entail a beaurecratic nightmare on a scale I can barely begin to imagine...and I'm far too lazy to have any desire whatsoever for that sort of thing.

The New York Times > Washington > Search for Illicit Weapons in Iraq Ends

The New York Times > Washington > Search for Illicit Weapons in Iraq Ends

I find myself wondering, now that it would appear that my own and many other people's original belief that there never were WMD in Iraq to begin with has been confirmed, how the advocates of the current war will respond. Best guess is they'll just shrug it off...presumably because it's something they don't really have an answer for.