Category Archives: foreign

The Greatest Trick

A friend of mine once told me that the greatest trick the Republicans have played is to get the poor south to vote against their own economic self interests for the GOP. Of course it is obvious that my friend was a staunch democrat. I disagree with him though. I think the greatest trick the republicans have pulled is professional wrestling.

I’m not referring to the fact that it is fake. Everyone knows that, as an aside I still maintain that even though it is fake it still requires more hard work and dedication that most of the other “real” sports. What I am talking about is how the GOP has used the program to push it’s agenda.

It’s a stroke of genius really. Wrestling is like our modern day equivalent of the gladiatorial games during the roman era. It reaches a wide, mostly younger audience. Its heroes are mostly emulated and cherished (except for that john cena debacle) and it’s villains usually act like assholes and get the public to hate them. What better way to mold the public’s mindset to favor the republican’s point of view?

First example I could think of right of the bat is the coalition against the war on terror. You had France and other countries refusing to participate. At the exact time they did it you had Renee Dupree come into the scene. With his arrogant French attitude insulting all Americans and telling them what morons they were for supporting the war on terror. With entertainment like this it becomes easier for the American public to discount France’s stance.

Next you have Muhammad Hassan, appearing on the scenes after 9/11 just when the republicans were cracking down on terrorists and limiting some of the freedoms of the public to better protect it against terror attacks. Hassan plays an Arab-American who is aggrieved at the recent racial profiling and complaining about it, till he brings his terrorist clad friends to the ring to help him beat up his opponents. Reinforcing the point that, yes, they just might be terrorists and we do need to limit their freedoms.

There are too many specific examples for me to list here. I just wanted to show you some to establish that, yes, there is a pattern and it is systematic, deliberate, and planned. Next time you watch your favorite WWE show. Watch who acts like an asshole and what their cause is. You will see what I am talking about.

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America World Police

No this is not a rant about the evil American Empire. In fact I appreciate them taking the role of international police force. I get most of the benefits of their actions, a safer world, pressure on terrorists, some sort of control over the more extreme states, etc without having to pay for it.

However it does seem that one of the major factors of their country’s decline is precisely this. They just spend too much playing police. Take the war on terror for example. How much do they spent deploying their military every day? A million dollars? A billion? Those numbers may actually be too small. God forbid a tank blows up. Then you would probably double your day’s expenditure. That’s money that they could be using at home. Creating jobs, developing infrastructure, etc. No wonder China is gaining on them.

There is actually already a growing movement in their country for them to lay down the mantle of world police. You see the criticisms in their culture all the time. From movies like Team America, comments and jokes form south park and other comedians, to people simply posting on blogs on their latest blunders.

Is America to blame for this role though? And can they quit now as everyone wants them to? I would actually say that due to various external and internal factors in their history the U.S. could not help but be anything but the world’s police force. I also think giving up the mantle now would be disastrous for them. More so than the amount of money they sink for it everyday.

Externally countries who hate the States now would not stop hating them if they did not get involved. In fact they might blame them more for not helping in their problems. Even without these problems the poorer countries would still focus their hate on them for being the most prosperous country. Whether that hate is deserved or not. After all the leaders can’t very well blame themselves right?

Internally the citizens would urge their government to stop injustices around the world. After all whether America becomes the world police or not, the holocaust still happens, children still get sent to mines in Africa, the Middle eastern States still fight amongst themselves. The only difference is there would really be no one around to stop it. This is particularly true in times of prosperity. Where the people do not have enough problems of their own and participate in the problems of others. This situation is unique to America. I mean sure citizens in my country could demand that the government do something about child trafficking in Africa, but deep-down we would know that the government does not have any power to do this so we would not expect anything. While people in America would have a valid expectation that there government can indeed do something about these injustices. Of course there are also enormous short-term economic benefits to being the world police which really does make it inevitable.

Still now that it is actually hurting them, they just cannot drop the role. There has already been too much ill will generated in the past. Take the war on terror for instance. If the U.S. army were to abandon every single outpost in the middle east and leave the terrorists to their own devices, would said terrorists say “ thank you, come again!” ? No. They would take it as a sign of weakness and then begin pressing for their revenge. I would not be surprised if there is another tragedy on the scale of 9/11 within 10 years.

Is the US screwed then? Will they be forced to spend all the money on the worlds problems and none on their own?

Probably. I can’t really offer any creative solutions. I mean after seeing what they are going thru I doubt they can convince anyone to take over for them as global gestapo. Sure you can deputize people when they want to be deputized. Like in the case of France in Libya. But as soon as the immediate situation is handled everything gets tossed back to good old U.S.

All I can really offer is a suggestion. Right now the most expensive part of being the world police is the war on terror. So my suggestion will focus on that but can easily be adapted to other situations. Make your carrot, a gilded armored carrot. Then make your stick so long and sharp that whoever gets hit by it will never forget. In fact just make it into a sword.

The gilded, armored, carrot. Everyone who supports the U.S. must be rewarded financially. They must be rewarded so well that they will be able to live lives those who don’t support the U.S. can only dream of more. More importantly they must be guaranteed this life. After all what use is this wealth if they die in the process? US troops must protect them from any and all harm. Even if it means trading American lives for theirs.

The sword. Be harsher towards the terrorists. I would not mind if more of them died “while resisting arrest”. In fact I would not mind at all if the people harboring them die in the shootout. Sure human rights advocates and other people like that will complain. But there really is no other way. You have to show them what it truly means to stand against you.

It will be a long and difficult path. The tactics that have to be used will be harsh. Draconian even. But one day he U.S. may finally find itself safe to rectify its mistake and lay down the mantle of world police.

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Change! Change! Change!

It seems that both the U.S. president Obama and our president here Noynoy Aquino are both suffering from lower than expected approval ratings. Obama’s has been increased a little by the execution of Bin Laden but both presidents still have not recovered the shine that their names had in the elections.

Their defenders blame it on the media and the unrealistic expectations of the people towards them. After all they reason. You cannot expect one presidency to change the course of the country within a year or two of his inauguration. The previous administrations just did too much damage. Of course, they also say the media deserves its fair share of the blame since they only report the negative and not the positive.

You know what? It’s their own damn fault. Look at the campaign Obama ran. “Change you can believe in”. “ A new beginning”. “ A leader who can deliver change”. The whole tone of his campaign was to set him up as this pseudo messianic figure who would deliver the country from the hands of Bush onto the promised land. Noynoy’s being patterned after his campaign did the same thing except changing Bush to Gloria Arroyo. How can you not fail to live up to expectations when you set them that high?

They should have read the wimpy kid series. Specifically the second one that was just made a movie. Rodrick gives pretty good advice. “Learn to lower expectations”. That way when you do your job well people are more appreciative of you. Both presidents seem to be actually doing better than their predecessors. It’s just that they set the bar so high for themselves that it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s like Bush promising that the war in Iraq would be over quickly with few casualties. If he said straight up in the onset that it would be a long drawn out affair with many casualties but that it was absolutely needed then the result would have been more acceptable for the people.

I am not saying that it was not a good electoral strategy. It undoubtedly was. They did beat both their opponents by comfortable margins. But in doing so they set up their presidencies to be disappointments for everyone who voted for them. In fact if you think about it. Both presidents did something that is commonplace among all politicians. Lie to the public. Make promises during election time that you know full well you cannot do. Pretty strange for two people running under the banner of change.

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Osama!!!

Osama bin laden is dead! Wootness! Though as one of the newly designated terrorists by the Catholic Church I wonder if I shouldn’t be sad? I mean world terrorist number 1 is dead. I jest though. Everyone should be happy that he is gone.

When I first heard the news, my reaction was “Great! How does this effect the terrorists?” I honestly believe it doesn’t. There are just too many of them, too spread out amongst too many groups for the death of one man to really matter. More than half of the current groups don’t really owe any allegiance to him and with the pressure put on by the US manhunt on him I highly doubt that he was leading his own groups throughout this time. I think it would be more likely that command and control has devolved down onto various organizational lieutenants.

What it is is a huge symbolic victory for the United States and its people. The man who orchestrated the attack on their home ground has finally been brought down and they should rejoice. Well done.

This symbolic victory does bring about a very real danger to the war on terror. A danger so great that it could end up costing the U.S. the entire war. With a victory such as this under their belt the U.S. could very well say that they are done with the war on terror and withdraw all the troops from the hot spots in the middle east. Giving away all the gains they have made. Both for themselves and the world in general.

Whether we like it or not, the U.S. is really the only group who are fighting the terrorists that have the capability to win. Sure Israel and some other nations do their part and I thank them for that but if the U.S. withdraws from the war then the war is effectively over. The Israeli army will go back to purely patrolling their own area and making sure that they are safe from attack. The world forgets about terrorism. Or at least puts it in the back of its mind. And we will have another 9/11 in ten years or so. Another generation of Americans will go there and fight because this one didn’t get the job done.

Celebrate the victory you have now. Cherish it. After all you do deserve every moment of it. But do not be content with it. Always look for more victories. Bin laden has heirs. Other terrorist organizations have leaders. There are plenty of targets out there. Till the day the world is finally rid of terrorists.

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Libyan Conflict

 I apologize for this belated blog entry. I know the world has already moved on from this and i should have wrote about it earlier.

If you’ve been watching the news or have wondered why the oil prices rose then you will know that there is some sort of war in Libya. The story is not really unique. Strongman tyrant in power, revolutionaries appear probably funded by first world countries, U.N. or NATO or whomever decides to intervene and bomb/invade the place. Really nothing that different from the average middle eastern or African story.

 What i would really like to talk about is the reaction of the world in general and my country in particular. Somehow we still blame the Americans for starting this war. I even saw a picture of some protesters outside the American embassy here with placards saying “Don’t make Libya into another Iraq”. Allow me to profoundly say “lol no”.

I have no doubt that the United States starts their fair share of conflict whether by overt or covert means. But they did not start this one. Think about the situation at hand. America has just gotten past a major deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan (which could have been handled a LOT better if I might add). They spent billions there and countless troops to give some semblance of freedom to the countries. Which doesn’t really matter in the long run because as soon as they leave another military strongman will take over. The voters in their country just threw out the previous administration at least partly due to the Iraq and Afghanistan war.

Consider all these things and you will see that the United States just isn’t ready for another war. It’s not the military capability. I remember reading some piece of trivia saying that one carrier battle group of the United States Navy could take on all the other navies in the world and still win. And they have eight or more of them. The capability to make war is certainly there. The weapons, soldiers, etc. What is not there is the willpower. The American people just are not ready for another war. They will probably not be ready for another generation. In fact I think if China were to invade Taiwan, under a suitable diplomatic pretext, the US would not send troops to help. Beyond the customary saber rattling and threats of course.

Look at how the conflict itself turned out. The US sent missiles and a few planes. When it came to actually stopping a ground offensive against the rebels who were the ones who stepped up? The French! In other circumstances the US army would be the first ones to send planes over.

Give credit where credit is due, and blame where blame is due. We have to examine each situation individually and make decisions based on that. Not on some preconceived notions we may have.

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Covey is Wrong

I usually like to write articles on political issues. However this time I want to write about something philosophical for the blog.

Steven Covey, author of the seven habits of highly effective people, is wrong. At least in far as his lessons on his two circle theory goes. If you have not read it yet Covey says that should imagine your concerns to fit into two concentric circles, one smaller than the other. The smaller circle is your circle of influence. Here you place issues ad things in your life that you can affect directly and efficiently. Such as your family, friends, lifestyle, and whatever else you can affect easily. The bigger circle is your circle of concern. Things which you cannot or only tangentially affect. Global warming, war, national debt, and other issues of that nature. He tells you to focus on the circle of influence instead of the circle of concern and you will be a more effective person.

His ideas focus on being proactive and taking responsibility for your actions. Realizing that nothing will change unless you take a hand in it. Which is quite right. It is actually sad that one of the basic premises of his code is flawed. The circle of influence and circle of concern are one and the same! They both concern the same issues. The only difference is in the circle of influence you act to change things while in concern you whine about the state of affairs. The end effect is that the classic idea of the circle of influence and concern dis-empowers you instead of empowering you as it was designed. Even the diagram of the circle shows you that there are just some things you cannot affect and therefore outside your power.

Let me make one thing clear. There is nothing in the world that you cannot affect. Nothing. Whether it is an event on a global scale, a natural disaster, an accident, war, whatever. There is always something you can do. Whether it be preparing for the disaster beforehand or your reaction to the disaster. Understand the previous statements and what it implies. You have power. No one can tell you to give up because it is impossible or to continue on despite the issues unimportance to you. I will not lie. It may be tougher to affect certain things, but the power is there. All that remains is in how you use it.

Do you want to get back with your lover? Go court her again. Do you want to stop the coalition war against Libya? Volunteer to join an anti-war organization or speak out against it yourself. Do you want to help Japan? Give them your time or money. If you think about it hard enough a way to impact problems will always appear.

Ideas have power. If everyone thought the way Mr. Covey suggests, what would happen to us? Yes, we would have a more efficient life. We would be able to affect our work, family, and other things more. How about the rest of the world? Of the country? Of the community? If our country thought this way during the time of the dictator Marcos, would we have been able to oust him? Or would we have labeled the corruption as an issue for the circle of concern? After all as private citizens it is an issue that we have little control over. How would we change our country? How would we complain to the government if they do something wrong? How would we argue over unjust wars? How would we discipline corrupt individuals?

This is my main peeve with the idea. It basically teaches you to be efficient by picking your battles. Equating being efficient with being effective and achieving that by only taking on activities that give you the maximum rate of return. It does sound very reasonable does it not? But it requires you to give up on things that you really care about for the sole reason that it is not the most efficient use of your time. Covey’s approach makes you give up on issues you care about preemptively, because well they are basically too hard.

An effective person is more than that. It is having a goal. Choosing which issues in your life you care about. Then setting out to impact them whatever they are. You can be very efficient at everything you do, but still be unable to reach your goal because you have none. While you can be inefficient but still make progress toward your desired end. Nothing is more ineffective than giving up without trying.

Both his creed and my modification to it have being proactive and responsible as central tenets. The frustrating is that for all the good it does a hint of pessimism and surrender creeps into his. This is all you can do and you should not attempt anything beyond it for that would fall into your circle of concern. Ultimately his creed is actually harmful you. It leaves you defenseless against powerful people exploiting you as they would be something you cannot do anything about. While mine is based on optimism and power. You can impact anything around you as long as you work towards it. The initial crusaders for or against any issue always face daunting odds. Yet they don’t give up and say that it is in their circle of concern. Instead they realize that both are one and the same and begin.

I hesitate to say it but the two circle theory actually reminds me of one of Homer Simpsons statements. “You tried and you failed, the lesson is don’t try”. Except in this case you never even bother to try in the first place.

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What Would Jesus Do?

So I was flipping thru channels the other day and came upon an old-ish movie: “I Now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry”; a comedy by Adam Sandler (who I must say is one of the best comedians out there). It revolves around two straight guys getting a same-sex marriage to attain the rights of a conventional marriage. And that’s when I began to think. Why is it we don’t let gay people marry? I mean, aren’t they people too? Why should marriage just be between a man and a woman, why not between two men or even 2 women (which my male brain finds extremely hot)?

There are plenty of reasons why we ban same-sex marriage but the main one is that the church says its wrong. Its in the bible somewhere that man should only be married with women. That makes it wrong for the church and therefore makes it automatically banal, period; which is why many countries have never adopted it.

As I watched Chuck and Larry living together, I thought to myself: “doesn’t it go against the very grain of Christianity though, to have a law against same-sex marriage?” I can already hear the angry mob sharpening pitchforks and preparing burning torches but hear me out first.

If you accept the bible at face value you will see that Jesus was an all-powerful being, able to change reality at a whim. He was able to travel across terrain, feed thousands at a moment’s notice, rise from the dead…basically anything Superman could do. And then some.

Now with all that power what does Jesus do? In the numerous instances he is confronted with evildoers; people who want to stone a prostitute, pharisees who try to trap him, even disciples who end up betraying him, does he ever go: “Wait, you guys want to stone the girl?” *snap* “Now ya don’t.” “Whoa! Pharisees want to kill me?” *wiggle nose* “Now you all love me!”

He doesn’t.

What does he do instead? He TELLS people they are wrong. He convinces them that the things they are doing are not according to what his father’s wishes are and explains the consequences of following the wrong path (i.e. Hell). Yes there is a threat, a very heavy one; eternal damnation BUT there is never a blanket ban of “NO you cannot sin”. The threat doesn’t even apply in this life, it’s carried out after you die.

Placing a ban on same-sex marriage is like forcing people to OBEY the bible. Sinners should they so choose, should be free to keep sinning. Preach all you want, tell them why they are wrong, but don’t force them to obey. Even Jesus didn’t do that. Of course we shouldn’t force churches to accept them either as clergy should also have the freedom to accept the values they want to embrace; and if it would be up to anyone it should be up to the government to recognize same sex marriage.

I can hear you already. “Well since we can’t force people to be good and follow the bible, why should we penalize other biblical sins like say, murder? Let’s have everyone free to be a sinner!”. The important thing to remember when comparing something like murder to same-sex marriage is that murder is an exercise of free will that ends up universally hurting somebody else. This applies to stealing and other similar crimes, which is why we have laws about them to live safely. We ban them in order to live peaceful, productive lives; not because a holy book tells us to do so.

The next question people commonly ask is “but doesn’t same sex marriage hurt society’s moral fiber?”. Well the answer to that is. Maybe. I know that many people genuinely believe same sex marriage hurts other people as much as murder or stealing does and those people do deserve to make their case but the the decision on the types of marriages we allow should be based on this “it-hurts-society” debate, not on the dictates of a holy book.

Well, I hope this article quelled the angry mob somewhat though remnants are probably still forming up right as I type (luckily I live in a condo so they still have a ways to climb up). So before  base jump to safety out the window let me leave you with some final words. What would Jesus do? The next time the issue of banning same-sex marriage is brought up at least ask yourself. WWJD. What. Would. Jesus. Do?

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