I happened to notice an interesting entry over on Winds of Change about sacrifices made in war. The post discusses the World War II tin and rubber drives, which served a dual purpose (not acknowledged in the article, but in the comments to it): first, to collect raw material, and second, to ensure the loyalty of the population at large towards the government.

We saw the exact opposite in Vietnam: rather than being asked to give, instead, the media was flooded with horrific images that made the populace so angry that they protested to end the war in massive numbers, helping to bring an end to our invasion of Vietnam.

Now, in Iraq, we are faced with almost the exact same situation as World War II, except the circumstances are different: the media is still inundated with images and war coverage, except that that coverage is controlled: we don’t see the hundreds of Iraqi civilian casualties, the living conditions caused by Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield, and Iraqi Freedom, the faces we fight against. We see noble people trying to set up a government, but we don’t see people that government is trying to help. We see U.S. and Japanese troops rebuilding, but we are not told about the extent of that rebuilding. We are told of the lives of governmental officials, but not of the young child who lost a family through bombing.

That Winds of Change article talks about sacrifices, only these sacrifices aren’t really concrete. We are asked to switched to alternative energy and to push for much lower dependencies on Middle Eastern oil; a laudable and commendable goal for our future, certainly. We can do our part by switching to hybrid SUVs and cars, by pushing for wind power instead of oil power in our communities, by using biodiesel instead of normal diesel. Higher taxes on gasoline would certainly achieve a goal of pushing the population away from Middle Eastern oil dependence–and compared to England, it wouldn’t add much more onto our gas costs–but it would leave people wondering what the point of it all was. Why go to war to protect our oil interests only to turn around and say that we no longer need it? This disconnect would be glaring and would make people question the war even more than we already have. That’s why it hasn’t been–and probably won’t be–done. It boils down to loyalty.

If you really want to sacrifice, sacrifice your own comfort; sacrifice your hot food, sacrifice your warm homes for a while and give to those who don’t have anything. Strive to bring a better life to the homeless, fight against AIDS, join a local political campaign, get your voice heard and speak loudly for the rights that you take for granted but that don’t apply to everyone. Fight for the disadvantaged, the repressed minorities. Go out and make a difference in the world; the only thing you have to sacrifice is your own time and your own energy. That is patriotism: not only questioning our leaders, but fighting to make a better nation, a better world.

Toyota Has a Revelation

In recent news, Toyota Motor Corporation realized something that apparently wasn’t all that obvious to them: they could sell more of their Prius line if they built in the U.S. in addition to its already existing Japanese plants.

Well, duh. Why it took them so long to realize that they could meet or exceed current demand by adding a production plant manufacturing hybrids in the United States, I don’t know. I suppose we should be glad they got the idea.

Great thinking, whoever came up with that (note extreme sarcasm).

Dell Power Supply Recall

Thanks to Tempus for pointing me to this ZDNet article about the Dell power adapter recall. Apparently, my computer was affected, so I’m getting a new power supply from Dell.

Admittedly, this is sort of a pointless replacement for me, since my Dell Inspiron 8100 will probably be replaced sometime in the next year or so. Until then, I suppose, better safe than sorry.

Attacking Kerry and The State of Iraqi WMDs

“The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?”

The New York Times reports this morning on Bush’s new attacks against John Kerry, stating that:

. . . the scathing indictment that Mr. Bush offered of Mr. Kerry over the past two days – on the eve of the second presidential debate and with polls showing the race tightening – took these attacks to a blistering new level. In the process, several analysts say, Mr. Bush pushed the limits of subjective interpretation and offered exaggerated or what some Democrats said were distorted accounts of Mr. Kerry’s positions on health care, tax cuts, the Iraq war and foreign policy.


Mr. Bush’s aides defended Mr. Bush’s statements, saying that the president had fairly spotlighted positions Mr. Kerry has taken over the years. “The campaign’s criticisms of John Kerry are meticulous and precise and most of the criticisms involve reading back John Kerry’s own words,” said Steve Schmidt, a campaign spokesman for Mr. Bush.

But other analysts, including some Republicans, said Mr. Bush was repeatedly taking phrases and sentences out of context, or cherry-picking votes, to provide an unfavorable case against Mr. Kerry.

Combine this with the fact that the position of the U.S. investigators is now that Iraq has not had weapons of mass destruction since shortly after the Persian Gulf War (“Iraq had destroyed its illicit weapons stockpiles within months after the Persian Gulf war of 1991, and its ability to produce such weapons had significantly eroded by the time of the American invasion in 2003. . .”, New York Times, “U.S. Report Finds Iraqis Eliminated Illicit Arms in 90’s”, October 7, 2004), something the Defense Department knew before the war even started.

We’ve been looking at a very heavy dose of revisionist history with the Bush administration, which continues to push weapons of mass destruction as the main reason for war against Iraq. There has never been any link established between al Qaeda and Iraq, nor have there ever been any WMDs found in Iraq, though a disturbing polling study published by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) found that viewers of Fox News Network were more likely to believe these two assertions than anyone else in the United States. This is especially scary considering that Fox continually bills itself as “Fair and Balanced Reporting” when it’s not anything of the sort (and, in fact, is being sued over the continued use of that phrase). There’s an interesting documentary out there called Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism which I’ve seen. I don’t particularly believe all of it, but the general message is correct.

An interesting turn of events, to be sure, for the Bush administration. This could all make it much harder for Bush to stay in office, while at the same time benefitting Kerry in tonight’s debates.

The Case Against Iraq and Kerry

My friend Tempus got me thinking about the war in Iraq and John Kerry with this entry, which, admittedly, is anti-liberal (understandable, since he’s conservative) and has a few perceptions that I decided to respond to directly with him. Unfortunately, he had to go to bed, so this is turned into a blog entry. I suggest reading the post before reading on.

The War in Iraq

First: we are not in Iraq to cut oil prices. The United States has nothing to do with oil prices. We’re in Iraq because whoever controls the flow of oil controls the world. Think Frank Herbert’s Dune: spice was the commodity in the universe, and only one planet, Arrakis, had the Spice. Whoever controlled Arrakis controlled the spice, and in turn, controlled the universe. Oil is to the nations of the Earth what the Spice is to Herbert’s universe.

The entity that sets oil prices is OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), which recently set oil prices at $50 a barrel, which is, I believe, the highest it’s been in the last decade or so (if not ever). The United States has no presence in OPEC — it is not a member. The eleven members that make up OPEC are Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Coincidentally, the U.S. has, since the 1970s, had conflicts in or intervened somehow in the affairs of Cambodia, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait (Persian Gulf War), and Iran. It’s probably had dealings with the others too, but these countries are the more well-known. Is it a coincidence that it’s had some form of influence over OPEC countries? Is it a coincidence that it’s in Iraq, which, out of all those countries, probably has the most oil available? Nope. Those eleven countries weild a lot of power over the rest of the world — or would without outside influences such as the United States, Great Britain, France, and other European countries.

Entire economies are based on oil — the United States alone is very oil-dependent for the efficient operation of its transportation fleet, as well as power supplies and various consumer products. Oil has a very wide reach in the United States; it also has a very wide reach in Europe and every single developing country in the world. Oil makes the world go around; without oil, there is no gasoline. Without gasoline, there is no transportation that doesn’t take months to travel from place to place (think steamer ships). Because oil is such a valuable resource and because it drives the economies of the world, whoever controls either the price of oil or the supply of oil (preferably both) controls the world. Shut down oil supplies or raise oil prices high enough, the world comes to a halt (the drive for alternative energy alternatives notwithstanding). It’s basic economics: if something is in high demand and the price is set too high, then demand for it will drop until the price of that commodity drops.

The logical thing to do, then, if you’re a major oil-consuming economy on the scale of the United States (which is probably the biggest user of oil anywhere), is to try and gain a controlling interest in how oil flows. To draw another parallel from Dune, the houses of Herbert’s universe fought over control of Arrakis because they knew that having control over that resource would give them great power. The United States was in Cambodia in the early 1970s, Kuwait during the early 1990s as part of the Persian Gulf War against Iraq, Iraq in modern day, Libya in the mid-1990s, and is extremely friendly with the government of Saudi Arabia, which is a pro-U.S. government. The United States has, since 1970 (and, actually, earlier) been setting the stage for control over the world’s oil supplies by either fighting wars on the soil of OPEC countries in support of their sovereign rights or by establishing friendly relationships with the governments of those countries.

The end conclusion, therefore, is that the United States, in addition to assisting in world politics (which was really just a minor side perk), has been slowly establishing relationships with OPEC countries. This led to the invasion of Iraq, which is now essentially a United States protectorate alongside Afghanistan. We cannot withdraw from Afghanistan because doing so would collapse the democracy we have set up there; the same will be true for Iraq.

As a side note, England has been paying well over $5/gallon for gas for at least the last decade. This isn’t anything new in the world. The only reason we’re making such a big deal out of it is because the United States isn’t used to seeing such high oil prices; we’ve been trained that low oil prices are a given. Every other country in the world can only look at our reaction to rising national oil prices as the whining of a spoiled newborn — coincidentally, a very good image of what we actually are, since we haven’t been along quite as long as, say, England or Egypt, or anything in the Middle East.

Another side note: elections in a country mean nothing when those in power support the U.S. agenda and are, in fact, puppet regimes of the United States — something that the current Iraqi government has rightly been accused of. We can hold “free democratic elections” until we die of old age; none of it does any good so long as those elected support the U.S. oil agenda.

Kerry: Presidential Politics

pan·der (from
intr.v. pan·dered, pan·der·ing, pan·ders
1. To act as a go-between or liaison in sexual intrigues; function as a procurer.
2. To cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weaknesses: “He refused to pander to nostalgia and escapism” (New York Times).

I contend that Kerry is not, as he has stated in the popular media and as others have labelled him, anti-war. That image has never truly, earnestly been perpetuated until recently. Kerry is, in fact, a pro-war Presidential candidate who voted for the war and for war funding. This fact has been obscured in media coverage since he began running. He has been correct when he states that Iraq is the new Vietnam of this century, but I don’t believe that this is a stance he himself supports.

Let me be careful to define the line between pandering and flip-flopping, since both of these phrases have been applied to Kerry. As I refer to flip-flopping here, I refer to someone who says one thing one minute and another thing another minute without taking into account audience, that is, without considering who they’re talking to or who will hear the statement. When I refer to pandering, I refer to someone who, in the literal definition of the word, uses the desires of others to exploit their weaknesses. It’s a well-known tactic in American political life that if you want to get what you want, you have to side with the majority in any situation. Thus, a panderer in this context is someone who says one thing one minute and another thing another minute while considering the audience they are addressing.

Kerry is a very smart man, which is ironic, considering that he has been portrayed, in some circles, as being very stupid. This is precisely because he’s a panderer. Kerry paints the image that he is flip-flopping on the issues, but as I’ve defined the term flip-flopping above, that would imply that Kerry has absolutely no regard for the audience that he is speaking to. In running for the Office of the President, one needs to possess just a smidge more intellect than to simply spout a stance without knowing how that stance will be interpreted or regarded. Even Bush — who, in my opinion, is unfit for office — was smart enough to do this when he ran for election. Kerry is much smarter in that, while he’s sticking to a pro-war position, he is catering to the opinions of the American public and verbalizing an anti-war stance. In other words, he’s a panderer. He can safely say that he’s anti-war because this serves his interests in getting elected President. The sad thing is, this is probably working in his favor.

Every statement Kerry has made has consistently changed to meet the current political viewpoint of the majority of the population of the United States. To people who would argue with me over the finer points of whether Kerry is flip-flopping or pandering, I say that the distinction between these two make little difference if you accept that both actions are inherently bad. Neither of these traits are things you want to see in a Presidential candidate. Kerry comes across as having no convictions because he’s using the pulse of the United States population to temper his convictions to whatever seems like it’ll get him elected at the moment. Kerry will get nailed on it, and, in fact, is getting nailed on it. The problem is that people probably won’t realize what’s really going on until after the elections.

The Future

If Bush wins, it’s pretty much a given that things will continue the way they are now. If Kerry wins, however, we should also expect more of the same. If Kerry wins, regardless of what he says now, he will likely continue the War on Terrorism (the very title is ridiculous, but that’s for another post), taking the stance that there’s no way we can easily back out with the amount of military might invested in Afghanistan and Iraq. He will continue the drive for U.S. imperialism and control. It’s not that Kerry doesn’t have convictions; it is simply that his convictions are the exact opposite of what he’s been saying to date. He does, in fact, stick to his convictions; it’s unfortunate that he’s lying about what those convictions really are. While, granted, those who are pro-war can become anti-war (there are thousands of such cases), I don’t believe that this has happened with Kerry.

I apologize for the length of this post, but I felt the need to speak out on these two things and clarify what I’ve been thinking about within the last few months.

Book Quiz Results

You’re 1984 by George Orwell
You have this uncanny feeling that you’re always being watched. Thus
life has become a bit of a show as you try to portray yourself as much more reputable
than you actually are. All around you, people seem to accept an unending stream of lies
and propaganda without flinching. Your only hope may be a star-crossed love affair, but
pain seems stonger than love. If you have any older brothers, be very wary of

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

How ironic. We’re reading this book for class.

John Kerry for President

With the Presidential Primaries less than a month away, I decided that it was time to stop hemming and hawing over which Presidential candidate to endorse. I’ve chosen John Kerry.

However, I have not chosen him necessarily because I support him with the fullest enthusiasm possible. I have chosen him because I believe that what Bush has done with this country is unjust and wrong. I recognize, that Kerry may continue current policies for the next four years (and likely will in several areas); however, I feel that Kerry has a much better chance of improving environmental law, resolving the War in Iraq, and preserving Social Security. I am among a mass of voters who vote not because they feel any affinity towards any candidate, but because not voting means not being heard.

The American public is still disillusioned in politics. We expect that our political figures will lie to us. We expect that those in power will abuse that power. Despite what Bush may tell us, what is known as the Vietnam Syndrome — which refers to the feelings aroused in the American public as they witnessed the Vietnam War — is very much alive, and John Kerry is right to try and invoke that idea when he argues that Iraq is exactly like the Vietnam War. However, there’s no way of knowing whether Kerry does what he says he will or whether he is simply trying to appease a torn American public.