September 24

interventionism

No, I’m not talking about the tv show. Interventionism (the policy or doctrine of intervening, especially government interference in the affairs of another state or in domestic economic affairs) is, of course, the opposite of non-interventionism (abstention by a nation from interference in the affairs of other nations or in those of its own political subdivisions). In what has become a much-admired-by-many House of Representatives floor speech in early 2009 – titled “What If?” – current Presidential candidate Ron Paul spoke the following words:

“What if we wake up one day and realize that the terrorist threat is the predictable consequence of our meddling in the affairs of others, and has nothing to do with us being free and prosperous?”

In my experience over the last few years, the immediate reaction upon absorbing this quote by many who call or think of themselves as “conservative” is that, well, countries like Iran refer to the US as “the Great Satan” and want to destroy the US’ greatest Middle Eastern ally, Israel. But let us consider history.

Did you know Iran hasn’t referred to the US as “the Great Satan” forever? In fact, the term was first used in 1979, only just over three decades ago. Why? Because about 60 years ago, the US government (and I use the term “the US government”, instead of “we” or “us”, carefully – I had no vote in and nothing to do with it) started meddling in Iran’s affairs. Look at Mosaddegh and the coup d’état in 1953. The US government overthrew and replaced him with the Shah. Then, 26 years later, the US government decided that its previous decision was no longer in its best interests, so the US government deposed the Shah. That’s only a fraction of US involvement.

Imagine if another country, 100x more militarily and economically stronger than ours, did the same thing to us for 60 years. If, say, China.. or the Soviets.. set up political and military coups, basically ran OUR country. We too would probably refer to them as “the Great Satan”. The CIA calls this “blowback“. And as I penned in my previous post of the same name: “America is exceptional, it is the most prosperous country in the history of the world, but it is not infallible – in fact, far from it.”

We have to apply history and perspective to our position here. The issue raised with regard to Iran (and other Arab nations) is in fact exactly what the “What If?” quote was referring to.

It is hardly the fault of the average US citizen not to have in-depth knowledge of these facts. We spend our lives slaving away for 8, 10, 12 hours a day (at least 3-4 of those hours of every day go directly to various governments in various ways). Then we come home and spend the rest of our night recuperating, trying to relax, and planning for the next day. We don’t have the time to become scholars on political history. Almost nobody in positions of power or influence ever talks about any of this important history; one has to really take the initiative and dig deep to find it. And that’s why I’ve become such an adamant supporter of Ron Paul. Personally, he brought me face-to-face with a lot of these issues I had never realized or heard about or dealt with before, and he’s the only one that will really address it when it counts (i.e. in the debates), even though it’s an unpopular subject. And studying these previously unknown histories for over 3 years has provided a completely new perspective on it all.

Of course, though, the question will remain: What about Israel? The answer is clear – in fact, Thomas Jefferson clued us in a few centuries ago. The US should be great friends with Israel, in trade and diplomacy. Israel should be free to defend itself without condemnation from the US. If it wants to make preemptive strikes, fine. It is a sovereign country with a superior military and can easily do so. But the US’ only moral action at this point is to apologize to Israel for the hostile environment the US has created in the Middle East, and then get out of it.

“Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none.” – Thomas Jefferson

More foreign intervention is like more quantitative easing. We can print more and more money, but we are just building a bigger bubble. And when we finally stretch ourselves too thin militarily and economically because of our need to be the policeman of the world, the crash will be devastating.

Category: 9/11, economy, politics, war | Comments Off on interventionism
September 13

blowback

In tonight’s Republican debate, Ron Paul was challenged on his foreign policy stance – specifically, an article he wrote for the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The article in question was called “Ask the Right Questions and Face the Truth“. In it, Dr Paul illuminates both the causes and effects of 9/11 – that is, both why it happened, and what it has done to the US. It goes all the way back to Iran in the 1950s with Mossadegh, and the middle eastern intervention continued right up through 2001. After the tragedy, we invaded an Iraq that even Bush himself admitted had nothing to do with 9/11. US militarism now extends to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya as well, and that’s just the “short list” of declared action. The endless wars have been accompanied by blatant disregard for and losses of civil liberties, many of which the populace begged for in its initial, frantic response to the events of that day.

Those that claim to (or want to) have an intellectual acumen will impartially read the whole of Dr Paul’s article and study the supporting evidence before coming to a conclusion. Anyone care to explain why he’s wrong?

Some in the crowd booed when he said “this whole idea that the WHOLE Muslim world is responsible for this and they’re attacking us because we’re free and prosperous, that is just not true”. So… the WHOLE Muslim world IS responsible for this? Of course that’s ridiculous. What’s left to boo? People don’t really still believe the myth that they attack us “because we’re free”, do they? That’s an obsolete catchphrase supported by absolutely zero fact. It is well-established at this point that “insurgents” (we called them Freedom Fighters during the Soviet-Afghan War) resist the US because we occupy their lands and are seen as imperialists. We’ve been intervening in middle eastern affairs for over 60 years now. The CIA itself recognizes that this creates what’s called “blowback”. This is NOT a matter of opinion.

Ironically, Ron Paul himself receives some blowback because he has the courage to tell the truth, even when it’s unpopular. Dr Paul was booed because he forces America to look in the mirror, and it doesn’t always like what it sees. Paradigms and worldviews are challenged, and many times, the truth hurts. But only by embracing that truth can we heal.

As a moral people, we need to recognize when good policies are good, and when bad policies are bad. America is exceptional, it is the most prosperous country in the history of the world, but it is not infallible – in fact, far from it. Ron Paul is the only candidate on that stage who’s not afraid to call a spade a spade, and we should be open to honest discussion about this issue from a brilliant man who has studied it in-depth – not dismissive and closed-minded, as some of the crowd members at the debate were tonight. There is a reason Ron Paul receives the greatest amount of military contributions – those who have been there, and seen it, know what is really going on. Not only is it patriotic to face reality and question with boldness… it is decidedly UN-patriotic NOT to.

September 1

a brief history of true conservatism

Over the past few centuries, the notions and flavors of conservatism and liberalism have become confused and conflated. The American Revolutionaries, for example, were contemporary liberals, while their adversaries the Tories (or British Loyalists) were conservatives. Today’s conservatives, on the other hand, embrace the American Revolutionaries, whereas today’s liberals probably would necessarily have embraced neither. Since these definitions have been lost in translation, this article will attempt to annotate a brief history of true conservatism and other similar and/or competing ideologies.

Classical liberalism was an 18th-19th century philosophy of general antipathy toward the state which argued for free markets, individual liberty, and natural law. “Liberal” in this historic definition is similar to “liberate” – from the Latin liberalis, “of freedom”. This ideology espoused rebellion against authoritarianism in the manner of John Locke, along with the total laissez-faire economics of Adam Smith. It held a general distrust of governments in light of historical erosions of civil liberties.

Conservatism (in the United States) is in practice a far cry from classical liberalism, though oratorically it is very similar. Mainstream modern conservatism pays lip service to the notion of limited, Constitutional government, but in fact many conservatives only espouse limited government in the areas they choose. Many of today’s so-called conservatives are now pro-big-military, pro-social-intervention, pro-power-state. This clearly contradicts the “limited government” rhetoric; whereas today’s liberals want big government for social programs, today’s conservatives want big government in other places.

Neoconservatism evolved as a result of progressives (Democrats) who, beginning in the 1970s and 80s, infiltrated the conservative (Republican) party in an attempt to shift it to the left on the political scale. Some of their main goals were increased foreign interventionism in defense of Israel and expansion of welfare programs, all in the name of conservatism. They were overwhelmingly successful. 9/11 was the spark that really lit the fire, when Bush declared that the United States should seek to promote liberal democracy around the world as cause for invading Iraq.

Paleoconservatism, on the other hand, is much more consistent on limited, Constitutional government. Paleoconservatives often tend to be religious and carry strong moral sentiments, but being aware of the “slippery slope” are more leery of advocating state intervention into many of these social and moral strata.

Libertarianism evolved as a contemporary approach to classical liberalism, and is sometimes called neo-classical liberalism or neoliberalism. This school of thought was revived by more modern intellectuals and Austrian economists such as Bastiat, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, and Friedman. The term “libertarian” is typically associated with the United States, as similar movements around the world are known under different labels. It is characterized by a fundamental belief in liberty, and all its tenets flow from that point. Libertarians and paleoconservatives share a lot of common ground, but the former is antithetical to the latter’s preference for state-imposed social conservatism.

The Founding Fathers would be thought of at the time as classical liberals. In today’s terms, this would make them libertarian. Those who insist on invoking the Founding Fathers need to get consistent on their philosophy and embrace real libertarianism. Otherwise they are just regurgitating some flavor of neo- or faux conservatism. If only they knew what is often said and done in their name, the Founding Fathers would be rolling over in their individual (not collective) graves.

 more info

Many of these terms were also discussed in one of my previous posts, ideological definitions.

Recommended reading: dissertation on liberalism.

November 17

TSA: Tolerated Sexual Assault

Over the past week, more than ever before, public outcry over the TSA’s “naked body scanners” – also affectionately called “porno scanners” – has been LOUD. This, along with the TSA’s increasingly physical searching/groping procedures, has led some to give the agency new nicknames – my personal contribution is “Tolerated Sexual Assault”. But, as with any liberty-vs-security issue, there are always those on the other side of the fence. Here is a look at some of the more “security-minded” arguments, and their common-sense, liberty-oriented counterparts.

I’d rather submit to these invasive security measures than be blown up by a terrorist! How about this: you and yours get on a separate plane with no security, I’ll do whatever TSA says and get on a different plane that has been properly vetted for explosives, and I’ll make it to the other side. Hope you enjoy dying by fireball!

That’s what I’d like too! Well, kind of. Realistically, the airlines themselves ought to deal with security and let the people choose which level of checks they’d like. But we all know that won’t happen anytime soon. Anyways. They did it my way for 50 years and it was an issue once in the US because the TSA lapsed on its job and let multiple alleged “known terrorists” on planes. My line can have bomb sniffing dogs and metal detectors, your side can have porno radiation scanners and Tolerated Sexual Assault (TSA), and I’ll see you on the other side – albeit more quickly and comfortably, and with my dignity :)

This whole “porno scanners” thing is way blown out of proportion. All I saw in those images were gray blobs.

Some of the images aren’t that bad, but do a Google image search for “naked body scanners” (might have to turn safesearch off, LOL) and you’ll see what the majority of TSA agents are seeing (and are able to save). Here’s a link to an example of the naked body scans – WARNING, NSFW. Not to mention the fact that the scanners give off radiation and the long-term effects are unknown and untested. Plus, anyone serious about getting bomb material onto a plane will insert it inside themselves like Paris Hilton and her drugs. The porno scanners can’t even detect that. It’s a false security blanket.

Okay, so I see your points, but I don’t mind letting Big Brother see me naked if it means I’ll be travelling safely. What’s the big deal?

Let me mention a few more things you may not have considered:

  • the naked body scanners store naked pictures of minors. that’s illegal, child porn.
  • Muslim women can object to the scanners and the Tolerated Sexual Assault can only check them from head to neck, on religious grounds…… kind of defeats the purpose, no?
  • pedophiles, perverts, and people with superiority complexes jump at these type of jobs. it legalizes their illegal fetishes. not for me. do you really want some random guy looking at your wife/girlfriend/daughter naked?

At this point, I hope it is becoming clear that the whole thing is clearly just ripe for abuse and poorly thought out. And if that wasn’t enough, well, just today this story came out: Tolerated Sexual Assault agents will put their hands down your pants for free! You don’t even have to ask.

But isn’t it a national security risk anyways? Couldn’t a hijacker with a bomb take the plane and fly it into a building like they did on 9/11?

No. Unbreachable/impenetrable plane cabin doors have been installed on all commercial aircraft and are mandated to be locked for the duration of the flight – as they should have been before 9/11 ever happened.

Whatever. TSA is going to porno radiation scan and grope you, get over it. If you don’t like it, don’t fly.

That’s nonsense. I could make the same argument: “Security isn’t going to invade every inch of your privacy anymore. If you don’t like it, don’t fly.” But that’s not a fair or rational argument, either. The truth is, we’ve got to find a middle ground that does not breach our right to privacy as defended by the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, as well as our right to travel. I’m all for a reasonable solution – that’s why I want to leave nudity, groping, and radiation out of it.

Category: 9/11, politics | Comments Off on TSA: Tolerated Sexual Assault
July 17

The Village: a metaphor

NOTE: this post contains spoilers about the M. Night Shyamalan movie “The Village”. If you have not yet seen this movie, I highly recommend that you watch it before reading further. Go watch now!

When I watched The Village about 5 years ago, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed, after some friends who had also watched it came out disappointed. At the time I took it for an interesting mystery/thriller with a classic Shyamalan twist, but upon watching again, I picked up on some interesting – perhaps unintentional – metaphors. According to IMDB, the plot is “The population of a small, isolated countryside village believe that their alliance with the mysterious creatures that inhabit the forest around them is coming to an end.” Allow me to explain.

The Village is actually an 1800s-era village on a present day nature preserve. The elders of The Village were once everyday members of the modern-day society, but because of evils they had experienced in the real world, banded together and agreed to start a new life with a vision of hope, peace, and purity. There is a catch, though: in order to preserve their new way of life, they must somehow hide the real world from their progeny. Their solution to this problem is to perpetrate antiquated myths that there are violent creatures in the woods around them, and that anyone who would venture into these woods would surely die and bring the creatures’ wrath upon them all.

The comparison between this plot and the actual modus operandi of governments throughout history is striking. This is a classic example of what is known as a false-flag attack; that is, the powers that be create a problem that threatens the peoples’ way of life, the people clamor for security in reaction, then the governors provide a solution that is beneficial to their means. Problem-Reaction-Solution, aka, The Hegelian Dialectic – a paradigm known since the days of Roman Emperor Diocletian, millenia ago.

There have been many instances of this throughout history, and an exponential amount of alleged occurrences in recent history. Adolf Hitler and the Reichstag Fire. The Stock Market Crash of 1929. Operation Northwoods. Oklahoma City. 7/7 London. 9/11? Many would say it’s one for the ages. But these are only a select few instances out of a litany over the ages. Many times they are used as pretexts for war or for stealing of civil liberties, and most of the time welcomed by the general populace as a response to perceived threats. Sometimes they are even “well-intentioned” under perverse, utilitarian ideologies – an unwelcome reminder of the elitist, “we know what’s best for you” creed of a majority of those in power. For an example of this type, look no further than our own US government’s intentional failure to protect our own border – as even Barack Obama himself has implied recently, it provides easy ammunition to carry into battles of ideological compromise.

The moral which I took away from the story is to always question your surroundings and the fundamental circumstances of things, because sometimes they are not exactly as they seem. The Village: a metaphor that should pique the interests of us all.

Category: 9/11, politics, video | Comments Off on The Village: a metaphor