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Monday, June 27, 2005

"In your faces, hippies!" - neocons

Last week, I said that although the occupation Iraq was dysfunctional, I believed enough soldiers had been sent. My main arguments were cost, feasibility, and effectiveness. Andrew Sullivan was kind enough to be unconvinced. Well, here's a factoid from Rumsfeld's et al.'s testimony the other day, brought to us courtesy of QandO:

"When asked if they needed more troops in Iraq all of the generals said an emphatic "no". Abizaid and Casey both said that they get the troops they request and if they need more they'll let the SecDef and Chairman of the JCS know. One of them, and i don't remember which, said more troops would actually be a detriment right now."

Politicians would make this up, but I can't see any motive for the brass to do so. They can't be bucking for Sec. Def., because Bush won't be re-elected. They can't be running for office because so many people think they're incompetent.

BTW, does anyone know how far away you have to take a possum to prevent it from coming back?

Lincoln Park

These guys are the right-wing equivalent of Josh Marshall, and it wouldn't be fair to call Marshall an idiot without admitting that this post is a little naive as well. To be fair, Marshall just isn't very good at abstract math.

Anyway, Jason Smith said Reagan and Lincoln were the two greatest Americans ever. I like Reagan and suppose a case can be made that that's the... case.., but Lincoln? Lincoln ended anti-federalism. Before the Civil War, people said, "The United States are..." Now, we say, "The United States is..." Ending slavery was great. His rhetorical skills were great. Invading another country in the name of American imperialism was not great. I'm glad he did- unlike Hank Williams Jr., I think we're better off as one nation, indivisible. It was still not a nice thing to do.

600,000 people died, so Lincoln could hang onto Manifest Destiny.

Reconstruction was a lot of regulation on the heretofor virgin soil, and it was very damaging to democracy. Not that slaveowners deserve democracy, but I don't see much evidence that the political integration of Reconstruction had any positive effects for southern Blacks. Emancipation = good, despite the fact that living standards for poor blacks weren't much better than for slaves. Screwing up democracy /= good, as the effects of Reconstruction ended when it did.

I'm not sure that the change in social attitudes culminating in 1964 was accelerated by Lincoln's war or not. If not, it seems a rather stiff price in blood.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Postapocalypse Now

It is conventional wisdom that the end of the cold war era changed the world stage, and thus our foreign policy, dramatically. We moved from a mass confrontation of organised power to a situation where quick maneuvers and information warfare were necessary.

Instead of doing whatever we could to stall the advance of the Soviets, we were forced to spend the 1990s cleaning up the messes we made while countering the Soviets. We supported Iraq and Bin Laden against Iran and the Soviet cavalry. We have since had to fight the monsters we created. Hussein, while not our creation, would not have been our problem if not for our intervention in 1988.

We have had to deal with North Korea, another Soviet creation. We had to bomb the former Bloc Despot, Milosevic. We have been chasing old warheads around Eastern Europe. We are fighting Marxist rebels in Columbia and waiting for Castro to die in his sleep.

Superficially, these complex diplomatic situations seem entirely unlike the monolithic MAD standoff of the 60s and 70s. In reality, the active confrontations of the Cold War were quite similar to the problems we are facing now. Our improved success in Iraq, Serbia, and Somalia

bad example. Ignore Somalia.

derives from the lack of an opposing superpower and the improved information technology of the US. If we had to refight the Korean War now, there is no doubt that we would win handily. (The nukes pose a slight tactical problem, but China would be more helpful.)

The entire Future Combat System paradigm being implemented in the military could have been useful in the Cold War, had our resources not been consumed in countering the conventional armies of our enemies.

The main point is that our current, ambiguously defined conflict is not entirely different from the day-to-day operations of the Cold War. The most notable parallel is in the use of the Domino Theory, which has been coopted by Bush & Co.

The world once believed that if the USSR could overthrow one country and install a friendly regime, more countries would follow. This idea was partly based on the inevitability of communist revolution, which was the party line in Moscow. This idea is also reasonable if one looks at a map.

The beauty of this theory is not that it worked well for the Soviets. Generally, we countered their offenses. What is interesting is that we have ourselves used the Domino Theory. After liberating Afghanistan and Iraq, Lebanon freed itself. The House of Saud allowed municipal elections. Hamas started running for office in Palestine on a platform of reform, improved city services, and killing Jews.

bad example. Ignore the part about killing Jews.

A lot of other people were like, hey, how come we don't have a democracy? And the neocons were all like, yeah, New World Order! In your faces, hippies! That was in February.

Still, the Domino effect has worked to a certain extent, most notably in Lebanon. In other countries, it's mostly been a PR bonus for freedom.

Anyway, after the Berlin Wall fell, we partied like it was 1999. Especially in 1999. Then a lot of people decided that the only historical lesson we needed to pay attention to was Vietnam. Every conflict is not Vietnam. Enduring Freedom is, but that's purely conincidental.

The reality is that we are currently engaged in an ideological war, just as we were pre-1989. Without a strong and determined adversary, we have gone on the offensive, using economic and military power to spread Western Civilisation.

This message was paid for by the Council for Western Civilisation

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

They think I would troll Atrios?

Thanks for the traffic anyway, but I'm far too elitist and out-of-touch to debate the left of center in their own lair. I post as 'Effeminem,' and only between 8 PM and 8 am CST. The comments over there did give me a great insight, however.

People are outraged over the treatment of prisoners because they think 100 degrees is hot.

This is, of course, laughable, as any heat index below 130 is perfectly comfortable for a healthy adult. The statement is also a microcosm of the fact that many people consider our treatment of prisoners heinous because they are themselves 'pansies.' I regularly hear friends express shock over the privation that I inflict on myself, but the reality is that concrete is relatively soft, especially with a book or a pair of shoes for a pillow. After 48 hours without food, hunger stops.

I should work on that Cold War retrospective now.

The Post Before This One Is Better

Why are anti-federalists calling themselves Federalists now? I am confused. It was bad enought when capitalists called themselves conservatives, libertarians called themselves Republicans, liberals called themselves capitalists and Democrats called themselves liberals. Except for the social scientists and philosophy majors, who call themselves postliberals in between marches where communists call themselves environmentalists in an attempt to regulate our industrial base by protesting free trade in the name of nationalism.

Quite an odd postion for the Marxists to take, when they're supposedly an international brotherhood. Also sad, since the protectionists call themselves anarchists, when Bakunin was a free marketeer by any definition.

He also liked violence for the sake of violence. So in a sense, anarchists are really neo-cons or vice versa, unless determined by the the MSM definiton of neo-cons as Zionist conspirators.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Adventures of Johnny American - Stuck in the Middle With You

The World of Tomorrow is a world where men breathe free... but not easily. It is a world where dreams come true, but nightmares are far more common. This world is a world born from minds so closed to dissent that they barely recognize each other and never recognize themselves. This is the world... of Johnny American.

The war between the PR and the Capitalists has ended, and soldiers have been sent home to ringing cheers or funereal bells. The People's Republic continues down its path of god intentions, less one political scientist. The Capitalists struggle to recoup their losses, reinvesting the insurance policies of their dead. Johnny only seeks his partner and her fetus. His search has begun at her childhood home, in Suburbia.

Johnny: Tell me where she is!
Taxi Driver: I told you, guey, I don' know!
(smack)
Johnny: I'm not gay! Not that I judge the, uh lifestyle choices of others.
(pause)
Johnny: Darn it, now I sound like Eliza Jane. Well... start thinking! What happened after you left our rubble?
Taxi Driver: Man, I was taking the scenic route, you know? Cuz I know you and your old lady could afford it. And besides, there was some fireballs on the highway. So I went by the University-
Johnny: On Route 71?
Taxi Driver: Yeah. But anyway, we were going by the University, right, and my head started to hurt. And all these roller bladers kept going in front, and then the peace protesters showed up.
Johnny: Oh, no...
Taxi Driver: It got ugly, man. They're always pretty violent, but this time they had flame throwers. I think, they were protesting the Geneva Conventions. So I tried to cut through a University parking lot. But the security guard was like, let me see some badges. And I said, we don' need no stinking badges! So we got lost in the construction, and then...
Johnny: And then?
Taxi Driver: I don' know, man. It was like, I drove by the Social Science building, and my head started to hurt more. It got all grey, and then, I woke up in a motel room with my liver missing.
Johnny: My Nondenominational Spiritual Being!
Taxi Driver: I know, man. That was gonna be some good lunch. My old lady made some caramel onions too.
Johnny: And Eliza was gone?
Taxi Driver: Yeah. But it's cool, you don't have to pay the fare.
Johnny: Here's ten bucks. Get lost.
(transition theme)
(car shifting gears)
Johnny: Alright, the first thing I have to do is get out of Suburbia and onto Route 71. These roads all look the same.
(stop. children laughing. engine revs. stop. children laughing. engine revs.)
(stop. children laughing. engine revs. stop. children laughing.)
Johnny: Hey! Kid! how do I get out of here?
Billy: That way. And then right, and then left, and then straight.
(engine revs. stop. children laughing. engine revs.)
Johnny: The houses all look the same, too.
(stop. children laughing. engine revs. stop. children laughing.)
Johnny: What the-
Billy: What's the matter, mister?
Johnny: Weren't you back there?
Billy: Mom says I can't go over there.
Johnny: Well, how do I get to Route 71?
Billy: Where's that?
Johnny: It's right outside Suburbia.
Billy: Out- side? There's nothing outside.
Johnny: Yes there is. There's a whole world outside Suburbia.
Emma: Haha, you're funny. He's funny, Billy.
Billy: C'mon, Emmy, race you to the pool!
(engine revs. stop. children laughing. engine revs. stop. children laughing. engine revs. stop. children laughing.)
Johnny: Hey! Billy!
Billy: Do I know you?
Johnny: I just talked to you. No, that's- that was a mile...
Billy: Are you OK? Hey Emmy, get Mom! This guy's got sunstroke or somethin!
Emma: Nuh uh, he's a stranger! EEEEEEK!!!!
Johnny: Oh, for crying out loud...
Mom: Emma? What did Billy do to you this time?
Emma: Billy's talkin to a stranger!
Billy: Am not!
Johnny: Ma'am, can you tell me-
Emma: Are too!
Billy: Am not!
Mom: KIDS!
(silence)
Mom: Can I help you, young man?
Johnny: I'm trying to get to Route 71.
Mom: That's a funny name for a place.
Johnny: It's the only highway near here, I'm sure-
Mom: Oh, I don't believe in highways. They're dangerous.
(silence)
Johnny: Yeeeah. Can you tell me how to get out of Suburbia, at least?
Mom: Oh, Jesu- shhhhh. They'll hear you.
Johnny: What?
Mom: They'll hear you! What are you trying to do, get us all.. just go! Go!
Johnny: But I need to get out!
Mom: There is no way out! Oh, don't you think I tried? Don't you think everyone has tried? But there IS NO WAY OUT OF SUBURBIA!
(sobbing.)
Emma (crying): Mommy you're scaring me!
Johnny: Uh, there, there. That can't be true. I got Eliza Jane out, after all.
Mom: You- that was you? She's out there? In the real world?
Johnny: Well, she's a little missing right now...
Mom: And... you're... stuck here. How did you get out the first time?
Johnny: Well, we went to the University... and that lets out to Route 71.
Mom: The University! Of course! That- Oh no!
Johnny: What?
Mom: It's the Homeowners' Association! I knew they'd hear us!
Johnny: Time for me to get out of here.
Mom: Take us with you!
Johnny: No.
(engine revs. gunshots. engine revs. children laughing. engine revs. thud, thud thud. bang. engine revs. tires squeal. gunshots. rattle. tires on gravel. engine stops.)
Johnny: So close. The University gate's right there, but they'll never let me through.
Emma: Why not?
Johnny: AHHHH!!!!
Emma: EEEEK!!!!
Johnny: What are you doing in my car??
Emma: The men in black were gonna get me!
Johnny: That's homeowners' associations for ya.
Emma: Mommy was scared of them and now they got her.
(crying)
Johnny: Uh, don't cry little girl.
Emma: but they got my m- m- mommy!
(crying)
Johnny: Geeze, uh, what's your name?
Emma (crying): Emma Selene P- Parker.
Johnny: How old are you?
Emma: I'm f- f- six.
Jonny: Uhhh, uh, uh... How, uh, how would you like to work for a Capitalist? Doesn't that sound fun? You can live with them and be a tollbooth operator or a, uh, chimney sweep...
(silence)
Johnny: Eliza Jane is going to kill me.

(transition theme)
(engine roar)
Johnny: Put on your seatbelt, Emma. We're going to go over that gate.
Emma: But there's a glass ceiling, Johnny!
Johnny: And we've got a steel car. If we don't make it out now, the Homeowners' Association will get us.
(bump, bump, skitter. gear shifts. shudder. engine roar continues. gear shifts.)
Johnny: Hold on.
(BANG, thump, CRAAASSSHHHHH!!!!)

Will Johnny make it past the hurdles amd glass ceiling and into the University? Can he escape Suburbia and find Eliza Jane? These questions, and more, will be answered next time on The Adventures of Johnny American.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I was referring to Rumsfeld, but anyway

Well, I actually got some traffic and feedback today, so I suppose I'll respond. I'm perfectly willing to consider that more soldiers in Iraq, say 320,00 of them, would have been a better idea.

*We did allow chaos to reign in Iraq for a year, with mild looting of artifacts and intense looting of Saddam's armory.

* We did let the insurgents build up their capabilities while we scurried around looking for looters.

* We did turn an orderly, brutal regime into disorderly, brutal anarchy.

* We did go into Iraq without much of a plan for running the country afterwards. I think the prevailing mindset among warmongers like Colin Powell and me was that we would deal with situations as they arose.

The administration did have and does still have a long term plan for success in Iraq. That plan consists of sending men to their deaths until everything is OK. I am being glib, but that is, in fact, the strategy. It's the same strategy we used so successfully in Vietnam, as some sagacious pundits have pointed out. The differences between Iraq and Vietnam are that:

1) The insurgents are fewer in number

2) Our M-16s are equipped with 3 round burst mode instead of full automatic mode, and

3) There is less water, eliminating the need for Swift Boats.

While I recognise the problems that the More Troops faction raise, I don't think more troops would have improved the situation. I'm not sure how overworked the combat arms are, but the quartermasters I know aren't stretched especially thin. Neither, apparently, are the MP units.

The problems I saw in the first months of the occupation were problems of policy, not manpower. We were reluctant to go into mosques-

God forbid we enter a religious building to fight religious fundamentalists-

We sent all the Baathist bureaucrats home, leaving no one to run the country. We dismantled the military, ending the rule of law.

I think we did a fair job with propaganda, considering the circumstances.

Oh, and Dudes! I totally said Libya when I meant Syria! I was like, awww, man, I can't believe I did that. I musta been thinking of nukes instead of chem weapons or something.

By the way, does anyone know why we really invaded? I hope it was for oil, and not something stupid like creating a new world order. [Update: Turns out it was for the new world order.]

One final thought on this whole debate. As one commenter to the previous post noted, all I've really done are make unsubstantiated speculations about what might have happened with more troops. I would like to point out that that is the same thing More Troops folks are doing. It is the same thing Rumsfeld et al. did when they made the decision to use minimal force.

Courage.

That's why he still has a job.

So, we have a decent strategy for turning Iraq into an island of happy plebs. The problem, many say, is that we didn't send enough troops. While partially true, the number of soldiers sent was carefully considered and, I believe, close to correct.

The administration first invaded with a sort of Blitzkrieg, using the minimum force necessary to capture Iraq. This is a great strategy for simply ending a military threat, as has been done successfully in Germany (WWII, see V Day) and unsuccessfully by Robert E. Lee (American Civil War I).

We did not, however, send enough troops to garrison every population center and pick off insurgents as they popped up. Our soldiers were and have been stretched thin, preventing a total lockdown to end the violence. Although I'm sure this was an attempt by Bush and Co. to save 100000000000$US or so, it may also have been the right decision strategically.

If we had doubled the number of combat arms in Iraq at the outset, there would have been a much larger American presence and many more strikes against insurgents. The kid gloves used early on, culminating in the standoff at Fallujah, would still have been an encumbrance, but actionable situations would have been dealt with more swiftly. More importantly, the borders could have been patrolled more effectively, reducing the influx of assorted fundamentalist nuts. We would be clamping down much more, proportionately, on Baathists.

The Iraqi people are currently unifying, slowly, under the constant threat of violence from extremists. Even the Sunnis have recently become victims, and are beginning to decrease support for the fundamentalists. This is in addition to a Sunni reversal that now favors participation in the political process.

If US forces were overwhelming, this could not take place. The Sunnis would become more defiant, not less. The Kurds would be less willing to join the US-dominated south, perhaps tipping the close balance away from integration. The overall number of Islamonuts killed would be less, while border incidents with Libya [Update: I like, totally meant Syria, but if you want you can assume I was being funny...] and Iran would be more common. It is likely that Iraqis would turn against the obvious occupying force of the US, since the threat of fundamentalists would be less serious. Pressure for the US to withdraw would be much higher, as more Americans would be deployed, the military would be much more strained, and the situation in Iraq would appear superficially more stable.

The dialogue thus far has been between those who say Iraq is going, uh, fine... and those who say that the administration should have sent more troops. There hasn't been much of an argument in favor of limiting the number of soldiers, but the disadvantages to a larger occupying force would be huge. The monetary cost would be considerable, but the strategic issues outlined above would be more costly if they materialised. The strain on the military would also limit us to defensive actions, encouraging the sides of every cold conflict in the world- Korea, Taiwan, Kashmir, et cetera- to reevaluate the balance of power. One might decide it was in their favor.

A small increase in force levels now would not have such drastic consequences, although the political effects would have to be considered. Would it send a message of resolve to the Iraqis? Would it demoralise the insurgency? Would it prompt Syria to a nuclear test?

Unlike tax dollars, our supply of troops to throw at problems is not infinite.

[And hello, Sullivan readers. If you like inane babbling, you'll love The Adventures of Johnny American]

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Ways to improve airline security

*All passengers should be sedated with horse tranquilizers.

* Next to No Smoking signs, add No Terrorism signs.

* Better in-flight movies to make suicide mission less attractive

* Store Korans in the cockpit. Nyah nyah, if you crash the plane you'll destroy the Word of God!

* Don't sell tickets to terrorists.

* Charge more for tickets. At least Al Qaeda will be overpaying too.

* Allow tasers on planes. If worst comes to worst, all passengers will be rendered unconscious after paranoia manifests as crazed brawling.

* Allow people to hijack planes. It's not terrorism if it's legal.

* Fewer metal detectors, more metal concerts. If there's anything Wahabbists hate, it's acid metal.

* And Jews. They seem to hate Jews.

* Jesus was a Jew.

* This means the Saudis hate Jesus.

* ...

* Prayer would be more effective than the security we currently have. Unless Allah is on their side, but in that case we should be grateful for death. The logic ties itself up nicely.

* Eliminate security. We might all be killed, but it would be more convenient. As an added bonus, we would all have a chance to be the basis for made-for-TV movies.

* Research and deploy anti-terrorist syphilitic targeted bioagent.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Dreams

Here's a monologue I did, making up in clever use of Machiavellian techniques what it lacks in gravity:

Me : and then I'll become Warlord of Lebanon and marry a beautiful welsh princess
Me : and they will perform at one of my parties
Me : and The Cure will also perform
Me : and then I will have The Cure beheaded
Me : and then the US will attack me, but I will drive the dollar down in after-hours currency speculation
Me : then hold off the army for four months with my superior laser technology
Me : by that time the strategic petroleum reserves will be exhausted and I will get a cease-fire with favorable terms
Me : yay!
Me : then someone will assassinate Princess Melanie and I will stab myself in the left palm and swear vengeance
Me : and my raiders will invade Syria and Iran
Me : then I'll annex Iraq and declae myself Caliph
Me : then the House of Saud will declare me a usurper and invade through Kuwait, but i will be able to cut off their sea trade, thus depriving the rest of the world of oil and gettting the UN involved on my side
Me : then i will offer to resume oil exports if Jessica Alba marries me
Me : she'll say no, but the attention will make her a superstar
Me : and she will become successful and eventually grateful towards me, the ruggedly handsome Caliph
Me : and then we will have many healthy children with ego problems
Me : and then I will find that the assassination of Princess Melanie was committed by a Pakistani intelligence officer
Me : So I'll conspire with India to nuke pakistan
Me : and we will develope a free trade agreement that will make the Arabic Empire an economic power
Me : then I can build up my military and use the many expatriate muslims in western Europe to seize the Continent
Me : except the former Soviet Bloc, because they smell bad and they can actually fight back
Me : So then I will annex India and use biowarfare to take out Southeast Asia
Me : the Chinese will attempt to cut off my advance, but I will have enough naval presence to keep the troops supplied
Me : and I will expel the Americans from Korea,which will allow China to take Taiwan, and in return they will let me keep Korea
Me : Then i will consolidate my power for a while. Hopefully, I'll be able to annex North Africa because they're islamic and they won't wanna be let out
Me : the only problems I foresee are procuring the lasers, getting Something Corporate to play, and finding a Welsh princess. If I'm not mistaken Wales was conquered by the Saxons like 1000 years ago.
Me : I had a really bizarre dream involving nine princesses, each more beautiful than the last. I'll tell you about it sometime.
Hot Friend : you should tell me about it now, silly!
Me : i could, but I dunno if I wanna type that much.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

But she's too skinny for me.

For some reason this guy has blogrolled himself. He's good, i must admit, but methinks i have too many Canucks permalinked already. This post was good...

Western Canada reminds me of Texas, actually, except for the cold, wimpy traffic, and socialism. There're cattle, oil derricks, and good barbecue. Consumer goods are cheap. The only difference is, when I go to Canada I'm tanned and muscular by comparison. The Canadian women also seem not to notice my ears, or perhaps they think I'm related to the royal family.

Lifted from Quotulatiousness:


"[M]ost libertarians see the government as the mafia's mildly retarded big brother. "

Jonathan David Morris, "The Non-Aggression Principle", The Libertarian Enterprise, 2005-06-05


I was thinking that the other day. Someone over at Scrappleface said that the constitution was binding on me because I'm in the United States. Well, I think my whims are binding on the US, as long as they're on my property. So there.

To clarify: What makes my property part of the US? Because they say so? Sounds like a really bad Homeowner's Association to me.

Just because things have to be this way doesn't mean we have to like it, or excuse it.

Clio

Or, Musing On Recent History.

China is an interesting competitor because they are not expansionist. Although that is hard to believe, they are at least the least expansionist empire I know of. Perhaps Thailand... China has enough territory and natural resources, for now. They want to be the best, but their traditional worldview is China / Everyone Else. That traditional view holds China to be the only part of the world that really matters.

On the other hand, they are a ruthless, nuclear armed regime without our concept of human rights.

They are, understandably, trying to guarantee their own access to oil. Oil is power, and there is a finite supply of oil. We must therefore compete with China for access.

This caused me to wonder if China were or would become involved in the Venezuelan situation. They wouldn't do anything overtly, or even assist Venezuela directly with weapons or technology. (Chavez wants to invade Columbia, although the odds are against him doing it.) Still, China would be willing to assist Venezuela's attempt to get Pacific access, thus increasing the oil trade between the two countries. I wouldn't put it past the Reds to suggest such a thing to the, ah, Pinks of South America.

Pink is my favorite colour, and I truly hate to drag it into this.

Chavez's 'socialism' is a little odd too, but I suppose most dictators aree swept in on a tide of populist demagoguery.

Anyway, the odds that Chavez will invade Columbia, aided by the marxist guerrillas prevalent in the coffee bean *wink* fields, are slim. We should still do something about it... I personally enjoy spreading American hegemony via free trade. Oil is a commodity, so freer markets mean that our supply cannot be restricted as well. China, contrariwise, benefits from controlled markets.

This approach is useful everywhere, of course, since people prefer to make money without dying (capitalism) as opposed to making money and then being hit with smart bombs (expansionism).

Capitalist war-mongering is the fastest way to world peace.

I have a dream that one day children of all colors and nationalities will be able to play together. I have a dream of a thousand stock markets, linked by satellite, I have a dream of suburban housing developments in Basra and water parks in Libya. I have a dream of a day when all Koreans will be able to eat at McDonalds for pocket change. I have a dream that one day, there will be no war or genocide. There will only be domestic terrorists, serial rapists, white collar criminals, and other anti-social types.

Of course some of them will have nukes. Happy Flag Day.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Coming to a store near you!!!

Bling Records is thrilled to present to you the latest sound from the greatest tour in music today. This year's Warped Tour will be featuring the hottest thing in Christian Punk Rock today - the sensational quintet American Taliban.

This up-and-coming young group has already converted jockeys around the nation with their totally righteous rythms, and scored the number one hit of this summer- "Walk This Way." Their new album hit shelves and quickly topped the charts, with an eclectic group of songs including the thrash-metal anthem "Golgotha" and the heavily-synthesized rap/rock track "Get Jesus Before He Gets You."

We interviewed the band to find out just what inspired this irreverent, fresh bit of traditionally reverent Christian music. The band includes Billy Ireland, a staunch Roman Catholic and lead vocalist and rythm guitar; Daniel Harper, lead guitarist and local Methodist youth pastor; Reginald Barkley, Young Republican officer and drummer; Omar Abdullah, bass player and backup vocalist, originally from Lebanon; and Stephen Kinkley, keyboardist, ska trumpeteer, synthesizer expert, and Southern Baptist volleyball player. Kinkley also performed vocals on "Get Jesus Before He Gets You" and "Getting Nailed Tonight."

We asked the fivesome what inspired them to write for God, and got some interesting responses. Daniel Harper pointed out his superfluous sixth fingers as proof God wanted him to play guitar. Barkley loves beating drums and watching people follow his beat. All of them, though, agreed that their greatest musical inspiration was the classic Christian Punk supergroup Four Horsemen. Four Horsemen was the last Christian group of any stripe to break the million album benchmark, and Ireland had this to say: "The Four Horsemen, you know, when we were kids, doing our own things, maybe not walking the path, they put the fear of God into us. Really. Their pyrotechnics were truly awe inspiring, and those riffs... Those riffs were divine, man."

Abdullah said it was his triumph over an adverse childhood that led him to Christian superstardom. "In Beirut, and later the mountains of the west, I had two options for survival- play music, or join a militant group like Al-Qaeda. I chose the bass because I love its penetrating power and frankly, I love Jesus. He doesn't care if your food suffers before you eat it."

The group also attributes their success to their fans. "It's crazy, really crazy, when we're performing, and everyone is singing along. Like, some of these kids know all the words. I don't even know all the words. And you can really just feel God at work in the room, and it's such a powerful, loving feeling, especially when the fans throw their panties onto the stage," said Kinkley. Harper chimed in, "Yes, I've called the numbers we get, and talked about faith with a lot of our fans. We really get to know some of them, and I think we've all grown in our faith because of the people we've met. Like our manager Desi."

Desiree Demona, manager of the group and senior partner at Bling Records, downplays her own role in the group's success. "Absolutely, these guys are great. They have such an energy about them, almost an aura, you can feed off of it and feel like a million bucks. Incidentally, that's their cut of the profits. Pretty fair, although I think Reggie might get cut out."

What one word best sums up American Taliban's music?

"God's love," says Harper.

Bling Records - We sell out, so you don't have to. - Copyright 2004, 2005 Bling Records LLC

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Judge Dredd

There is a very persuasive argument that goes as follows:

All laws are, in their base form, judgements about morality. Therefore, we can make laws based on morality. No matter what laws we make, or whether we make any, we are following the subjective desires of some group. In a democracy, the majority should make those judgements.

Compromise, et cetera.

And yet, I somehow disagree. If any law is a subjective judgement about morality, then we shouldn't make any laws. Wow, that sounds pretty radically libertarian. Oh, that must be because I'm a radical libertarian. Let me rephrase that in a way that seems moderate-right, so that my readers will pretend that they are considering my reasoning.

...

We should avoid restricting the behavior of others without an immediate threat to the safety of lives, property, or the country. Err on the side of caution. Err on the side of freedom.

Yes, go-go boots and miniskirts are an imediate threat to the propriety of our wives and daughters, but... get your woman in check and don't mess with my business. Is the ManiaC gonna have to choke a [edited for content]?

Uh-oh, they're quiet. That means trouble.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Like Faulkner, but More to the Point

"I have evidence satisfactory to myself, that there exists, scattered throughout the country, a band of men, having a tacit understanding with each other, and calling themselves "the people of the United States," whose general purposes are to control and plunder each other, and all other persons in the country, and, so far as they can, even in neighboring countries; and to kill every man who shall attempt to defend his person and property against their schemes of plunder and dominion. Who these men are, individually I have no certain means of knowing, for they sign no papers, and give no open, authentic evidence of their individual membership. They are not known individually even to each other. They are apparently as much afraid of being individually known to each other, as of being known to other persons. Hence they ordinarily have no mode either of exercising, or of making known, their individual membership, otherwise than by giving their votes secretly for certain agents to do their will." - No Treason, by Lysander Spooner

Great literature. It brings a tear to my eye, or would if I were eating an onion. The full text, and other texts, can be found at that link and in the same directory. The web site itself is... odd.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Spades are so cliche

I don't write much about morality, because it is not my strong suit. Somehow, I ended up with an interpretation of God's commands that stops me from doing a lot of fun things that, according to HBO, are a necessity.

So who am I to comment on morality, and topics like torture?

Wouldn't you like to know?

First off, in the current conflict, torture is generally counterproductive. This is a propaganda battle, and if we want World Peace we have to kill everyone that wants to fight us, without creating more enemies in the process. Sure, we could reason with and reeducate our enemies, then release them. That would take a lot of time and money we don't want to spend.

The military has done a fair job in dealing with prisoner abuse so far. Guantanamo Bay is practically a spa. I've heard that we've tortured to death about 30 prisoners so far, but I'm sure most of those died from shock or thirst or something.

Waterboarding? Please, that's a sinus remedy. Also, if protestors can burn flags, I don't see a problem with burning the Koran.

Koran abuse is not occuring with any regularity. Maybe 10 times. Maybe less. Maybe more. Oh well.

So, the only question left worthy of pondering is whether torture is ethical and* moral, and under what circumstances. I believe it is ethically acceptable against criminals, enemies, and possibly innocent fuzzy animals. Morally, I'd have to let the animals go free.

Torture is bad. In some cases it's worse than death. Perhaps it's barbaric. But we firebomb entire cities, in the name of military necessity, and I support that. Torture, when it has the possibility of achieving the same results, seems less cruel.

Of course, humans have the natural rights to life and liberty, so torture of little kids or randomly chosen strangers is highly unethical. Criminals forfeit their rights and enemies... well, they're our enemies. Just make sure we're on the right side of the war.

*Oh, yeah, in case you didn't notice, I've created a dichotomy between ethics and morality. Ethics, as I arrogantly define it, is a system of behavioral constraints rationally constructed from a set of premises. Morality is the stuff arbitrarily handed down by God. It's a helpful dichotomy, and I think I've used it to create a compromise position on fetus-murdering. This dichotomy is also based on significant study of philosophical schools, ethical systems, traditions, and the nature of morality, so don't knock it till you've tried it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

We Hinda CAFTA

Heh. Hm. Indeed.

OK, we have a serious tactical problem in the Western hemisphere, which is caused by the convergence of two bullet points:
*Venezuela provides 11.8% of our oil imports. (Link is to enemy propagandist- ie, more informational than US MSM)
*Venezuela is controlled by an anti-American socialist thug who is consolidating his power, building up his military, and forming an alliance with Cuba even as I type. Oh, and he just happens to be buying Migs.

If Chavez decides to, say, invade Brazil (unlikely), there's not much we can do about it without cutting off our oil supply. Even if our first military priority were to capture the oil rigs, and this could be accomplished quickly, oil trading and its effect on other markets would make Black Monday look like Palm Sunday.

Chavez doesn't seem too expansionist right now. He isn't a communist idealist, so there is no insane desire to cover the Earth in glorious revolution. He is still busy building up his domestic resources, using the high oil revenues of the past couple of years. Still, power is good, territory and subjects are good. If he were expansionist, which might not be wise so close to the US, he shares a border with the divided, weakened, and "resource rich" Columbia. Columbia is divided, by the way, in part by marxist rebels who would love to get their hands on old Venezuelan rifles.

Socialist thug + Marxist rebels + Former CCCR + communist Cuba = problem for Columbia.

Columbia is geographically similar in size to Venezuela, which usually causes tension between neighbor countries. Columbia has a little oil and access to the Pacific. Venezuela currently wants to sell to China, a major competitor with the US for oil supplies, but has no access to the Pacific. Access to the Chinese oil market would allow Venezuela to seriously threaten cutting off its supply to the US.

Well, let's not worry about specific scenarios. Let's worry about an unfriendly regime with the ability to wreak havoc in our economy, even if not as seriously as my Black Monday rhetoric.

What defeats tyranny? Liberty. What defeats socialist thugs? Capitalism. Massive bombing campaigns and assassinations also help.

Enter, stage right, the CAFTA. On strictly economic principles, CAFTA is good for the coutries it embraces in its warm, mother-like contractual wording. It will put one more stone on the cairn of our textile industry. More importantly, free trade is the way capitalist countries spread hegemony. While the countries of central and south America have been relegated to the Third World, we have done nothing for a hundred years except shield them with the Monroe Doctrine and involve them in a couple wars. Even then, they were the last ones picked for the team. Poor little guys.

If we eliminate the anarchy and poverty, we eliminate the petty despots. Free trade does this, because any company that doesn't emulate the US cannot compete with the US. When the economy looks like ours, the social and political structure will begin to resemble ours as well.

What does this have to do with Venezuela? Well, CAFTA, if passed, will spread US power closer to the drop zone I mean Venezuela.

The alliance with Cuba needs to be severed, preferably by destroying the regime in Cuba. While waiting for Fidel to die was a good strategy, the nationalised health care in Cuba appears to be successful in granting him immortality. We need to make an open offer of "economic incentives" -open trade- to the next regime. We need to make that offer now. Although Fidel's enemies haven't had success in rising up so far, there is no harm in making the offer. If economic incentives are linked to the removal of Fidel and to democratic reforms, it will make the transition to a new government more orderly, and give us a little influence over the direction it takes. At the very least, we will be able to end the Cuba-Venezuela Axis of Duh.

Or we could just overthrow Chavez. Again. I prefer the vision of a new world order based on democratic free trade, but hey, whatever sinks your ship.