Bourgeois Deviant

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Thinking About Blowback

I was cruising some of the familiar and friendly bloggosphere and read a fine passage by PK. If you follow the link, he’s talking about conservatives (namely George Will) trying to say that progressives were wrong to oppose the Iraq war despite the mistake that it really is. It’s a good read and worth the time spent.

I took the time to comment about it and got hooked on the concept of blowback. Now, if you are unfamiliar with the term, in the context that I mean to use it, it simply means the unintended consequences of actions taken. This is going to take a while, but bear with me… To broadly generalize, the United States of America meddles in the policy and sovereignty of oil producing Muslim nations. This pisses a great many of the Muslim peoples off. The culture is not inhospitable, but it is xenophobic, for lack of a better term, against outsiders. American presence is seen as imperialistic and, consequently, nationalism in the Muslim nation rises, as does religious fervor.

America doesn’t pay attention to this because its primary concern, its agenda, is to pursue, secure and maintain its interests. The benefit is primary, but the possible detriment to the citizenry is seemingly a distant peripheral. So, smaller groups of people in these Muslim nations get rich as Croesus and run an oppressive style of government that are counter to the culture and wishes of its populace. But this doesn’t matter to America because the goods are being delivered at a favorable price and American citizens can enjoy the highest standard of living the planet have ever witnessed. Cake is abundant and edible as well for the U.S.A.

This status quo goes on for more than 50 years. Five decades plus of profit, opulence, entitlement, oppression and consequential resentment go by. The reaction of the oppressed and/or nationalistic peoples of the Muslim nations grow more intolerant. A figurehead with great wealth rises up and taps into the xenophobic zeitgeist and vows to attack the infidel and reclaim the land that “God” gave them. This guy isn’t necessarily right, but his attitudes are a direct product of implemented policies by his and our countries. Vows to take action are made by him and an infectiously growing number of his supporters.

In keeping with the cultural and religious values of his people, this figurehead operates within the precepts of his religion and his religion’s laws. He is extremely open and clear about goals and objectives. He makes no attempts to hide these or the reasons he pursues them. America takes note. They see this danger, but don’t regard it as a viable threat despite knowing the players and having full knowledge about the extent of their training because earlier American interests warranted us training and supplying them. Hubris maintains arrogance and nothing changes save for closer monitoring of the situation. The American public remain blissfully ignorant.

Jihad is staring America in the face and little is done. A strike is made at the U.S. An unsuccessful but jarring bombing of the WTC crosses the American consciousness. Later, a U.S. naval vessel is hit successfully by suicide bombers and American service men and women die. The sitting President Clinton won’t tolerate the slap given and orders a strike on a target where the figurehead, Osama bin Laden, is reported to be. The intelligence is faulty and a factory is hit, killing many innocents. Ire towards the United States grows in the Muslim world. Jihad is emboldened.

President Clinton favors the use of force to curtail bin Laden’s efforts to strike the U.S. This intention is hampered by a military unwilling to commit. With this conflict of interest, other avenues are not sought to head off the danger that faces America. That is to say that the policies and relationships that have fattened America to its current state of opulence at the expense of other nations that have created dangerous ire are not modified in the slightest because of the desire to maintain the status quo. Lack of sustainability is a fact, but not one anybody chooses to face yet. The wind has decidedly changed but no one can or will take heed of what is blowing our way.

Administrations change and America is now under Bush. A chief executive who was not popularly elected but appointed by the judicial branch. A man who has never left the country and has zero foreign policy experience that willingly chooses to surround himself with people who, for the most part, ascribe to some of the scariest foreign policy ideas this nation has ever known. Then, whilst floundering through the infancy of the G.W. Bush presidency, America gets hit with the world assault/crime ever perpetrated by a foreign power. Nearly 3,000 people lose their lives in a matter of a few hours.

Within 24 hours, we know a great deal and are making plans for retaliation. Afghanistan in our sights, promises are made to capture and/or kill those responsible for attacking us. No one questions why we were hit. No one asks about how this happened beyond the procedural steps made to conduct the attack and the who’s and how’s of its creation and implementation. With blame firmly placed and public sentiment solidly behind the action, retaliation is swift and devastating. It was clearly justified and, for Osama bin Laden’s part, totally expected.

The Taliban falls and some terrorists are captured and/or killed, but not bin Laden. The primary goal is not accomplished, nor will it be. The promise remains unfulfilled and the threat is still present and arguably stronger that it was at the time of the fall of the Twin Towers. All that is given to the American people is the promise that bin Laden will be brought to justice and that the security of America is the primary job and goal of our government. It wasn’t before then?

The jihad against the U.S.A. has been going on for years. America only now fully engages it. Too bad its second leg, Iraq, was the wrong place entirely with no hope of a positive outcome. Still, no one demands a full answer to the obvious question. Why has all this happened? The question has been continually preempted by Bush and his administration with a palatable answer. “They hate our freedom.” This is surely not wrong, but it is also not the right answer. Hating our freedom is peripheral. It is not what caused all this. If they just hated our freedom, you would see more flag burning and effigy hanging. No one asks themselves rationally, what would make people want to kill themselves and thousands of others in a hateful act like 9/11? For someone to offer the rational answer of “our freedom” is folly and the epitome of myopic thinking.

Every attack on the United States of America by Islamic jihadists has been made because America, through its foreign policy and support of some governments over others, has meddled, oppressed and violated the peoples and sovereignty of other countries in some fashion or another. For a nation that espouses the virtues of liberty and freedom, our diplomatic and commercial interests are, at their cores, completely counter to those ideologies. America’s actions are out of step with the ideals by which it was founded and that incongruity is now costing the people of the United States of America blood and treasure over and above what the American citizenry are willing to pay. Is this current war worth all of that?

Again, the crux of it is blowback. Americans are used to a certain lifestyle. In order to sustain that lifestyle, interests and resources are needed. Those needs are fulfilled through rather entrenched policy and actions taken to secure interests in places (i.e. Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, etc…) that we are not entirely welcome. If you want the shirt off of someone’s back and take it without their consent or fair compensation, expect resentment and a kick to somewhere that will hurt.

With or without our consent, the United States made this situation. So, rather than bickering who is for or against the war, concentrate on accurately identifying the problems. Instead of questioning who supports what and who’s right or wrong in their support and when that was, realize that there is a simple choice to be made. Either endure the blowback of our unsustainable policies as part of the price of maintaining an imperial style republic or change the policies of this nation so as not to oppress foreign peoples and work towards making this nation a self sufficient and continuing example of what our Constitution mandates: a more perfect union that truly establishes justice, insures domestic tranquility, provides for the common defense, promotes the general welfare and secures the blessings of liberty to not only ourselves, but others, and the attainment of a mutual posterity.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

R.I.P. Mr. Vernon

"Show Dick some respect!" Yes Bender. Lets. Paul Gleason, 1939 - 2006.

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Book of Jesus, 4:20

Flipping around the internets, I stumbled on this item. Jesus used cannabis. I am not surprised. Rather, it justifies some of the religious fervor during those times, and their perpetual need for bread.

It has been speculated by others that the Buddha drank rice milk that had a mild hallucinogenic chemical in it. So, for a religious figurehead to partake of some manner of intoxicant is not unprecedented. I mean, I dare you to show me a catholic priest who doesn’t drink outside of celebrating mass.

The Lord, Jesus Christ is always a hot topic for Americans. Either you are balking against his devout followers (i.e. yours truly vs. the Christian right), or going so far as to capably speculate over his very existence (The God Who Wasn’t There). So, as these things go, to draw a conclusion that Jesus got high is not that outlandish or objectionable. There weren’t exactly drug prohibitions back then, nor were benign intoxicants politicized and demonized. Religions and behavior, however, were. That is, religions were criminalized when they undermined the Roman authority.

Anyhow, the linked article above goes on to say that derivative oil from cannabis was used in many anointing ceremonies, etc… in early Judaism and, apparently, in Christianity. It would certainly explain Christianity’s wild popularity in its formative years. I mean, its so easy for simple stuff to blow your mind when you are stoned. And, if it feels good and “God” says its cool, of course you are going to do it.

This is not implying that if I could go to church and get a phat hit of Jesus weed, I’d be beyond devout. However, methinks that Christians of all denominations and Jews of all sects would be a lot nicer and easier to get along with on many different levels if they got in touch with these particularly early roots. (via: Hugg: GU)

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Domestic Spying Perspective

Just to inform the debate over the whole "domestic spying" thing... DCeiver has a tidy little rant that has some choice bits and fair comments that put this shenanigan into perspective. Yours truly comments as well.

If I may be so pedantic as to attempt to extend this thread a little further here in this space... Domestic wiretapping has, in many ways, revealed where we are by way of national zeitgeist. We find the moderate intrusion of government into our personal lives acceptable so long as it is in efforts to enhance our safety. Rather, this monitoring is excusable in the name of preëmption of an attack on us, the scared to death and lightweight citizenry of this once fair nation. The Romans had Genghis Khan, we've got Osama bin Laden. History repeats indeed.

Here's what I want to delve into. A while back I read that “A neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality” (Irving Kristol). Preëmption is one of the cornerstones of neo-conservatism. Richard Perle, who is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a high level advisor to the Department of Defense (read: advocate for the war in Iraq), a proud neo-con and a man who has one of the scariest world views I have ever been aware of, says that preëmption is perfectly acceptable in the name of defending the country. At face value, I think there are few who would disagree. In the film WHY WE FIGHT, Perle is interviewed and says that if you are standing next to a missile launcher that is aimed at our country and have the ability to knock it over and save lives, why wouldn't you. It does make sense but, in reality, it is incredibly myopic.

Domestic wiretapping is in a similar vein to what Mr. Perle alludes to abstractly, i.e. if you can, you should, in the name of defense. It is, in my estimation, an effort to aggressively seek out the terrorist who would use our phone systems to do this country harm. But what is the true cost of doing so? How much is our privacy worth? September 11 was the worst mugging reality could have dished out. The insular reaction we, as a country, had is perfectly understandable and enables people to buy into the basic underpinnings of neo-conservatism, i.e. kicking over the missile launcher and saving us because you can.

So, when this whole wiretapping thing came out, Bush emphatically stressed that the measure was not breaking the law. He authorized it shortly after 9/11. I am unclear as to what channels this action passed through to assure its lawfulness. This is the same President who decided that the FISA court wasn't fast enough or sure enough to accomplish the task of adequately defending the nation against all enemies.

To all these new, "aggressive" defensive measures, Bush and his administration give assurances that, sub-textually and substantively, boil down to saying "Just trust us." It begs the question that, without a court's warrant, where is the oversight? Without full and immediate disclosure to congress, where is the supervision? A select few, friendly and understanding congresspersons does not full disclosure make. What is becoming of this system of government that should be rife with checks and balances?

Freedom is defined as: the absence of restraints upon our ability to think and act. (Except those restraints that are of natural cause.) Liberty is defined as: generally considered a concept of political philosophy and identifies the condition in which an individual has immunity from the arbitrary exercise of authority. These are, at least in theory, American values. They certainly are the ideals that are the selling points of the Bush doctrine as well as what the Bush administration think they are ensuring for us and for all future Americans. However, with all these actions: domestic wiretapping, (so called) spreading democracy, bypassing the FISA to *ahem* enable faster action to the terrorists... These are all eroding our system of government and what should be the American way of life. If we are to be damned, let us be damned for whom we truly are. (FYI, I totally cribbed that last line from Star Trek TNG, Encounter at Farpoint. Picard rules!)

Part of what I understand about neo-conservatism is that it espouses the virtues of the office of the chief executive and believes, mightily, in the broad expansion of these powers. To my mind, this enhancing would enable the ability to implement preëmption and short term fixes quite well. Again, at face value and in the spirit of doing good, there is nothing wrong with this. However, how do we keep these abilities in check? As the expression goes - Absolute power corrupts absolutely. How do we account for, prevent and curtail hubris? Again, why is the system being changed in our name when it doesn't serve our interests? All these things being done for out defense have the profound potential to undermine our way of governance and life to an irreparable state.

Practically speaking, this monitoring of our domestic calling patterns does us no harm. This is how it appears on the surface and what the Bush Administration wants us to believe. If it protects us or is serving in the name of our protection, it isn't bad. Right? Wrong! It undermines our liberty, the very thing the Bush doctrine is trying to protect and spread. I have only heard a little bit about this in the press so far. That alone, I find amazing. If the government can monitor our calling patterns, they can, certainly, monitor the calling patterns of journalists. If they actually are or aren't monitoring the calls of journalists specifically really doesn't matter. What does matter is that those who would call to inform journalists potentially lose their chance at anonymity, which protects them on any number of levels. With this potential, the free flow of information is inhibited. If knowledge is power, the American electorate loses power in this system. There goes yet another way to keep hubris in check.

Bush campaigned on transparency (as have others) and changing the "tone" in Washington for the better. He has been the antithesis of both for the entirety of his Presidency. He and his administration say we have to trust them. Really? Why should we when they chip away at the very foundations of what it means to live under an "American" style of government. This is supposed to be a nation of laws. When those laws are bent, changed quickly or even bypassed in the name of security without review and oversight, what reason do we have to just trust them? Protecting and spreading freedom and liberty indeed!

But hey! It's not like they are totally trying to fuck us. They are still looking out for the little guy. Pets, specifically. Compassionate conservatism indeed. (HuffPo)

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Getting with it

Been a bit lax of late with the whole posting thing. Apologies. In that lament, let me highlight the dereliction of duty to one of my fav bands. Four Day Hombre have put out a grand album and are on the brink of releasing an assuredly delicious single with tasty bonus tracks. There is even a clever and aesthetically pleasing animated video to accompany the upcoming single.

It is perhaps spoiler-ish of me to include it here, but go ahead and take a gander as its worth the time spent. Official release of the single is yet to happen, but Don't Go Gently has been cribbed by BBC Radio Five Live and Sky Sports, so why not give it some promotional space here? Right?

Check it out, take a look, have a listen, join the mailing list, mark your calendar. Or, just get the entire album. Unlike a lot of music out there, FDH's offerings are worth the price. But I am just a sucker for getting in on the ground floor.

BTW, working on another lewd playlet. Look for it later today. Title: Cultural Differences. Let your mind wander...

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Excellent Quote

This is in reaction to George Packer's latest New Yorker dispatch from Iraq.

The president lacks the courage to change course. The whole country is paralyzed by his cowardice. -- Josh Marshall

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Thinking About War

It has been a while since I posted anything terribly substantive here. This is partially because I have been pre-occupied with other things. Also, chewing on the topics of our time is sort of difficult when there are so many to digest and they change so rapidly. One thing that has been bouncing around in my head of late is something that my father threw out to a discussion we had some weeks ago. The subject was the Draft.

Let it be known and not misconstrued anywhere here forward that this piece does in no way endorse or condone the re-initiation of the Draft. Nor did the Bourgeois Deviant Dad politically or otherwise tacitly endorse it. To quote Juan Cole, “I am not exactly a pacifist but have a strong preference for peaceful social activism over violence…” Now, with that out of the way, allow me to textually wander here for a while.

I don’t know the history of the Draft, nor do I have a strong connection to a fear of being drafted into military service as a new adult citizen having just tuned 18 years of age back in 1993. The only thing I recall is a strong objection to registering for it and, philosophically acknowledging that being drafted and dying for one’s country was within the realm of possibility, though not likely, despite the fact that I wasn’t allowed to partake of alcohol. The incongruities bugged me and still do.

What came out in the conversation with dear old Bourgeois Deviant Dad is that reinstating the Draft would actually, over the long run, create greater insurances that this country would not go to war unless there was an undeniably just cause. On the surface it does make a degree of rational sense. If you think about it, look who is serving in the U.S. Military. The demographics are leaning toward minorities and lower income class individuals in terms of who is recruited. I am not basing this on hard fact verified anywhere. This is just what I have gleaned from watching and observing. I could be wrong, but I kind of doubt it.

Assuming that you agree with the idea that there is, in fact, a substantial and growing gap between the rich and the poor, you will probably be able to discern where I am going with this. Granted that it is still the case that one person equals one vote in the United States. However, votes aside, interests, for lack of a better term, have sway in the day to day decisions that are made in places of power. Those interests have money. They have a great deal of money and they wish to keep it.

One of the rules of commerce and capitalism is that you have to spend money to make money. So, they make campaign contributions. They donate to the favored charities of those who have power. They do favors, give help in kind to initiatives that are the pet projects of legislators. They fund think tanks that research topics of interest and provide information that lend aid and credence to agendas. It’s a system that is well established and has a smell of corruption. You need look no further than Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay. Also, though it will probably never be proven, that the Vice President of the United States shows favor to the contractor Halliburton is also a bolster to this argument.

I don’t want to go off on that tangent too much. Its not the point that I am trying to make. What is the point is that those people in power and with money don’t look to military careers to make their life better. Neither do their kids. Nor do the parents and/or children of many middle class families either. They want to get a good paying job and get a big house with a yard and live the American dream.

For many poor people, living the American dream means getting a good job with good pay. The United States Military promises that. Not only do they promise that, but they promise training and loan aid for further an education. It’s a good deal. That is, it’s a good deal until politicians make the cavalier and ideologically influenced decision to commit to a war that didn’t need to happen.

The question I am driving at is: Would these politicians and wealthy, influential people be so cavalier about marching off to war if their sons and daughters, those children of privilege and entitlement, had as much chance of being conscripted into a war whose cause was in some shade of doubt? Would people who make campaign contributions and actively participate in the political process by supporting a candidate that was comfortable with drafting their sons and daughters and sending them into harms way for something that was not certain be so supportive? My guess is that they would not.

Again, this piece is not to argue for the Draft. It is to argue for the consideration of the true weight of war. It is to argue for a re-evaluation of the consequences of decisions made. It is to argue for a re-defining of what it is to be a fair and equitable society. Reinstating the Draft would be one (bad) way of achieving that overhaul. However, I don’t think it will take that, nor should it be put back on the table as an option.

The concept of war is outdated” – H.H. Dalai Lama

Oh, and Mexico is legalizing drugs.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

From The Advertising Slogan Generator

Choosy Mothers Choose Bourgeois Deviant.
Well... Mrs. Bourgeois Deviant certainly did. Heh.

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Monday, May 01, 2006


Balls has a new name. Stephen Colbert. Instead of saying "You've got some balls!" You should now say "You got some Stephen Colbert!" Did you see what he did at the White House Correspondents' dinner?
Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse - Getty Images
See why here, here or here. [C&L]

Now, let me just say that Jon Stewart is still tops in my book. There are only two reasons for this. First, he's been at it a little longer. Second, he's doing it as himself. Still, Colbert's stock just went way WAY up. More power to you Stephen.

UPDATE: Ok. So I have read the full transcript of the monologue and seen the video. I am utterly gob smacked. I will stand by my previous statement. However, I will wager with ballzy confidence that Stephen Colbert does, in fact, have bigger balls than Jon Stewart.

I think that were it not for Stewart's single handedly deep six-ing Crossfire on CNN moons ago, Colbert's monologue blitz on Saturday night might not have been possible on the level and veracity that we have seen it in. Certainly the President's current approval rating was enabling.

All things considered, this performance will resonate for some time to come. I dare say that this was Theatre in its highest, most potent form.

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