Hypocracy

Comments Off

Two great soundbites from the daily show tonight:

- Bush says “If John Kerry were in power, … the terrorists would have those 380 pounds of explosives.” Hmmm. Who has those explosives now? THE TERRORISTS! Come on people, don’t let them prove that we’re that stupid to fall for this garbage.
- Speaking of Gullianis now infamous quote, Stewart said: “Finally a leader who’s willing to stand up to support the war and blame the troops.” Cheers. What a jackass. This from the party that tried to slam Kerry for degrading the wonderful and large “coalition of the willing.” Great. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

Socialism is dead?

Comments Off

In a comment I was asked to address the following blog entry: Socialism has died

Let me just start by laying out where I stand on the issue of socialism and communism. Communism is easiest. First we need to seperate ourselves from the propaghanda on communism spouted by the US, and the West, during the last few decades. The fact that during the “Cold War” Russia happened to use communism as it’s economic system is irrelevant (to the Cold War). It was a dictatorship. It wanted to expand control throughout the world. Many capitalist countries have done the same thing, and are still doing it, so we can ignore this “correlation.” My only point here is that during the Cold War the enemy of the US was Russia, whereas the US spun this as a global “war on communism.” (sound familiar?) Russia was expanding it’s influence by spreading it’s governmental and economic systems to other countries, through which it could extert more control. (Again, does this not sound familiar to the spread of “democracy and capitalism?” This is a topic for another time, though.)

Do I think communism is a workable economic system? I don’t really know. No one on the planet has truly tried communism, so no one can comment definitively on how effective it is. Russia was only pseudo-communist. They still had a rich class and a poor class, which is a pretty fundamental blow to the system. They spent incredible sums on their military, eclipsed only by the US, which takes money away from much more useful purposes. Cuba seems to be doing OK, considering they’re under the heaviest embargo/sanctions of our time. Their GDP has been growing at about 1-2% per year, which pales in comparison to the US, but at least it’s growing. I’ve been there personally and seen how it works, so I hope no one starts spouting unconfirmed data here. Now, there’s also the fact that they have a dictator, which again I propose is a seperate issue. No one has ever proven to me that communism and dictatorships are required to coexist. Actually, if you know the history of Cuba, Castros government did not initially want a communist economic system. It evolved in that direction over time, partially in response to outside factors.

Now, is Cuba a model for the rest of the world? No. It is, however, an interesting data point and perhaps could evolve into something better. I also don’t think the current ideal hoped for by most capitalist idealogues, where everyone fends for themselves, is the right solution either.

Socialism is a bit more of a complex subject. Having grown up in Canada I am used to a capitalist economy and a government with slightly socialist tendencies (I’d say about halfway between the US and parts of Europe.) From my own personal experiences, since I now live in the US, I really have to say that I now much prefer the Canadian system to that here. I think all Canadians should have to live in the US for a year – then everyone would stop bitching about their own system. Especially health care. I fully agree that if you’re rich you’ll get better health care here in the US. However, I have a good paying job and my impression of health care here is completely negative. I have had almost no good experiences so far. Someone will probably say “maybe your benefits suck” and that may be true but I’m very confident they are better than the AVERAGE American, therefore I would conclude that the AVERAGE Canadian has better health care.

For the time being I think that capitalist economies coupled with socialist-leaning governments are the best solution. They provide the incentives that humans seem to currently seem to require, plus being a more fair than all-out free-for-all capitalism. It comes down to selfishness but I just don’t understand why some people are so against ensuring that everyone has an equal share of some of the basics of humanity. We live in the 21st century and the richest country in the world has the policy of “The rich get good health care and the poor get none.” It obviously works out well for the rich people. I just can’t fundamentally understand why people are so selfish. It’s just not a part of my being. And the ones who are of this ideology and also Christians are even stranger. The Bible says “Love thy neighbour …” not “Love thy neighbour in your gated community but not the people on the other side of town. Ensure your immediate family has good health care and education but work to ensure your money doesn’t benefit others.” Christianity seems to have lots of good ideas, it’s just that no ones actually follows them.

Now specifically I’d like to comment on the contents of the target blog entry. In summary, I’d suggest whoever the writer was take a class in elementary logic plus something on factual research. Let’s take a look at some of the points:
- “Every place that adopted capitalism as its economic model at the end of WW2 has done rather well. Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea to name just a few.” Hmmm. Japan has drastically lower (0.2%) economic growth than the 3 countries he cites below as being on the verge of economic collapse. Guess he should have checked that.
- He cites some figures for declining household income in Cuba. I’m inclined not to believe it since he doesn’t mention where it comes from, from what time period, and I can find plenty of data showing their economy is growing.
- Talking about France, Germany, and Sweden: “What is happening in those countries? All are on the verge of a continuous negative economic slide.” Hmmm. Both Sweden and France have above average economic growth for the top 30 industrialized countries. Unless he’s psychic, I wonder how he knows they’re on the verge of “economic collapse.”
- “So communism is dead and socialism is dying. What does this mean for America? It means the left in America as we know it is dying. The first glimpse of that was in the 2002 national election. The first post 9/11 national election. The Democrats lost ground.” This guy should have taken a logic class. This is a perfect example of the Post Hoc (coincidental correlation) logical fallacy. We’re supposed to follow that because the democrats lost ground in one election that the “left” in America is dying, furthermore because socialism in general is dying? Those are two big leaps that don’t stand up to any kind of logical analysis. When Bush loses the election in a few days I’m going to post a story called “Capitalism and conservatism in America are dead” and forward it to this guy.
- “Baring some major catastrophe between now and 2004, I expect a Republican landslide.” He’s sure wrong here (it ain’t going to be a landslide either way) but I can’t fault him for hoping.
- “This is a HUGE shift in politics. It is plainly visible to any one who wishes to take notice but will not become obvious until after the next election.” I’ve lost all confidence in what he thinks is “obvious” but we’ll wait and see.

Not withstanding that this guy doesn’t know how to produce a valid argument, I personally do tend to hope for the same outcome that he’s looking for in the sense that I’d like to see 3 parties in the US. I think there should be a liberal one, a fiscally conservative – more libertarian leaning – one, and a very conservative religious party. The problem for the left right now is that the Republicans appeal to 2 very big segments, the religious and the conservatives. Those are often not the same thing. I’d say that much more than 50% of the population has “liberal” tendencies on most issues, but they’ll vote on just one issue, which the Republicans have a 2 out of 3 chance of hitting. Having said that, though, I do feel good knowing the democrats still get 50% of the vote. This makes me think that at least 50% of the population thinks (intelligently) before they vote (meaning not just on one issue.)

The “religious right” has taken over the Republican party for now, though, so I still think it’s funny that people who claim to be “fiscally conservative but socially liberal” still vote for them. If they actually looked at what the Republicans are doing it’s the exact opposite. We already hear lots of rumours about the fracturing of the Republican party, so maybe it’ll come true within the next decade.

Now onto the topic of the economic situations of a lot of “socialist-leaning” governments around the world. It is definitely true that most have higher taxes than the US. Almost every country is facing a crisis of it’s “Social Security”-type programs, which a lot of people claim will be the “downfall of socialism.” You know what? Social Security is only one part of typical socialist ideals. Will most of the countries face budget crunches as the average age increases? Of course, and they’ll adjust. Their countries will probably have less social benefits than they have in the past, and I would imagine that over the next 10, 50, and 100 years they will adjust as necessary. But the US is going to need to adjust as well. If a candidate got elected that promised to slash social spending and gut government programs, things might seem fine for a while. Then enough people would realize they got screwed and their kids aren’t getting educated well enough and another period of adjustment would occur. This is how systems of government and economics evolve and grow over time. They don’t just die overnight like the writer of that article seems to think.

Mission from god?

2 Comments

I wrote this response to an email picking apart an article claiming that Bush believes he’s on a mission from god.

————-

Ok, hang on. I didn’t read this article, but let’s look at a recent quote from Bush on this same subject:

“I believe that God wants everybody to be free. That’s what I believe. And that’s been part of my foreign policy. In Afghanistan, I believe that the freedom there is a gift from the Almighty. And I can’t tell you how encouraged I am to see freedom on the march.”

Now let’s use a bit of basic logic and break out these comments…
A: God wants everybody to be free
B: Bush has made “making everyone free” part of his foreign policy
C: Freedom has been brought to Afghanistan (through a US invasion) as a gift from God
——
Conclusion: Bush is doing Gods work by brining freedom to Afghanistan (and by extension the rest of the world through his foreign policy)

I’m not trying to twist his words or anything here, it’s all right there. If anyone doesn’t agree with the breakdown let me know.

Look at what this says to the rest of the world. How hypocritical is it that the US is fighting against “extremism and fundamentalism” yet invading countries under the banner of “my god wants you to be free and we’re going to come do it for him?” How much more religiously extreme can you get than invading a country to “free them for your god?”

To me, this is by far the most offensive and dangerous part of Bush. It’s like we went and got a leader from the middle ages, when this kind of stuff was acceptable (to the leaders, anyways)

Banks are lazy 101

Comments Off

Funny and intriguing story about a man, a bank and a fake check for over $95,000.

The laziness of banks has annoyed me over the last few years. Combined with their ability to change legislation, it’s extra annoying.

While working as a bank teller during highschool I was horrified to find out that banks are not required to inspect the date on a check. That seemed completely backwards to me, and then I found out that it was so they could reduce the complexity of the huge “check clearing houses.” Cheers to the wonders of modern technology.

Modern Empire

Comments Off

Interesting article with some different thoughts on the whole Empire debate. Check it out here.

Personally I think the US is currently an Empire, but slightly different than the classical definition. It’s a country that exterts power through economic pressure and the underlying threat of military force. When a country is faced with a demand from the US, the inevitable thoughts going through their minds are:

1. How will they affect us economically? Will they still trade with us? Trade more with us? Sanction us?
2. Will they invade us? Will they bomb us? Will they align themselves with one of our unfriendly neighbours?

This is still an empire, even though territorial expansion has not been sought until recently. The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are still intended to extert influence in the region whether or not you believe the US will have a permement physical presence there.

The results? These are the last gasps of an Empire that is being faced with it’s own dwindling influence. They are desperate moves to reshape the world into a favorable form before the true emergence of other regions of the world. I’ve said this before – part of me can’t wait until China and India begin to match the US in terms of power. This is for the sole reason that any influence to balance the current tendencies of the US will be a good thing.

I just hope someone else as crazy as Bush is not in power when that time comes. When faced with the prospect of being a non-supreme-power the influence of the neocons and the PNAC would be a devastating combination. The PNAC clearly considers themselves above the rest of the world, so I imagine they would not be content to share the stage. The thought that comes to mind is “the war to end all wars.”

Question the major media outlets? How dare you!

3 Comments

Great, great interview with Jon Stewart on CNNs Crossfire. I love seeing him in situations outside his own show because we can see his own views as opposed to the Daily Shows views (I assume they’re mostly the same, but several people have input into the Daily Show)

Here is the transcript of the interview. Just reading it didn’t do it justice though. Since the transcript denotes the laughter you don’t get the sense of the state of the hosts. It seemed more light hearted. You could see it was much more confrontational from the clip. If you happen to have BitTorrent you can get it from here

The best part was when Tucker Carlson was trying to slam Stewart for not asking “hard questions” when John Kerry came on. Stewarts reply, in summary, was “You know the system is screwed when national news shows are taking integrity queues from a comedy show preceded by puppets making crank calls.”

All I can say is that we’re paying an extra $40ish/month just to watch the Daily Show and it’s worth every penny. GO JON GO!

They’re still trying to make an argument for the invasion?

1 Comment

I posted this on an email thread at work, in response to the posting of the article “Have War Critics Even Read the Duelfer Report?”

———

The problem with this report, as with everything else surrounding the invasion of Iraq, is that it is steeped in hypocracy. Many countries throughout the world, including allies of the US, currently have chemical (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/mil_wmd_che) and nuclear weapons (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/mil_wmd_nuc). So what’s the difference in Iraq? It’s very easy to build the argument that Iran or North Korea pose a much more iminent threat than Iraq did, even knowing what was public at the time. I think most of us have a gut feeling as to the real reaons.

I’m still suprised that people are still actively trying to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq as the argument has been reduced to:
a) Sidestepping the issue and asking “Are you not happy Saddam is gone?” The US legal system doesn’t allow this childish argument for killing any kind of criminal so the rest of us shouldn’t either.
b) He had the “potential” and the “desire/willingness” to develop weapons. Every other country in the world has the potential to develop weapons, and a lot more than the declared “axis of evil” have the desire. Hell, I have the potential to develop chemical/biological weapons in my basement (if I had one).

So, this report tells us that Iraq was trying to find new ways to develop chemical weapons. Let’s ask ourselves: do you feel safer knowing Israel, Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons, in violation of the NPT signed by 187 countries, or that Iraq was trying to develop a new type of Mustard gas? I know my answer to that question, as does the US government, except when it happens to apply to a “strategic ally.” Especially considering Pakistan is governed by a military dictator, has publically acknowledged sales of nuclear materials to other countries, and Israel sends assault aircraft to shoot into crowds of civilians (http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2002/10/07/mideast_mon021007).

In fact, the US is currently in violation of the NPT by it’s pursuit of “a new generation of nuclear weapons, including ‘mini-nukes’, ‘bunker-busters’ and neutron bombs.”

Quoting from http://www.twf.org/News/Y2003/0311-NPT.html

Under Article II of the Treaty, the U.S. agreed:
not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and not to seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

So in summary the purpose of the NPT was to ensure that countries do not go on producing more nuclear weapons. Yet the rest of the world knows the US is now developing new types. Do you think this will increase or decrease the number of other states around the world that feel threatened and come to the conclusion that they also require nuclear weapons? As has come to light over the last several years it is obviously increasing. I don’t think Iran, North Korea, India or Pakistan have visions of suddenly throwing nukes all over the planet in some doomsday MAD scenario. They want them as a political tool and, for some or all of those, as protection against the US. They see it as the best way to stop themselves from becoming the next Iraq as it’s the only thing that could make the US think twice about invading them.

The Bush administration (that has many senior positions filled by people dating back or predating the Reagen era) needs to get out of their cold-war ideology. They don’t seem to understand that more nuclear weapons is not going to dissuade terrorists. This is just one more example of the extreme failure of Bush to properly address the issues in the “war on terror.” It’s too bad, for the people of this country, that the media has let itself be used to tie Iraq into the “war on terror.”

Last nights debate

1 Comment

Seemed less eventful than the first one (I missed the second because of being on a plane) There weren’t any real “zingers” by either guy. I think it was less eventful because Bush is very vulnerable on Iraq and his “diversion from terror.” The proof of his failed policies is there for everyone to see. On domestic issues he can still lie like he did back in the 2000 election, and some people apparently believe him.

Kerry did well and was definitely appealing to women and minorities. Bush did better than the first debate although his coaching on not looking angry wasn’t perfect. His smiles and smirks often looked very forced and not genuine.

Another interesting point was that Bush tried to slam Kerry for offering only criticism and not a solution. Bush, however, never mentioned how he would do anything in particular, just that he “had a plan.”

Here’s the data showing that Kerry won the debate in the polls.

Bush was also caught in yet another blatant lie. Bush said the comment about him not being concerned about Bin Laden was an “exageration.” Here’s the video of him saying those exact words.

Also, on the bright side I know of one undecided voter at my work who was completely swayed to Kerry by the second debate. His comment was “this is the guy in charge of our nuclear weapons?” Cheers.

Ah… Freedom

2 Comments

Isn’t this new freedom that’s been brought to Iraq great? You can feel the excitment in the streets… Except, perhaps, if your name happens to be Mithal al-Alusi. Then you may feel a little down because you were just charged for travelling to a conference in Israel and proposing your government hold open talks with them.

Iraqi Indicted for Proposal to Open Talks With Israel

Let’s get the freedom ringing everywhere else in the world!

Funny debate commentary

Comments Off

This article is hilarious.

The Debate Debate

Just a funny look at the debate last night. The part I absolutely love is when Edwards is quoted as saying:

“the reason for that burning flesh smell is that my opponent is ablaze in the flames of his own filthy lies.”

Older Entries