Thursday, November 19, 2009
Want to know what's funny. And I don't mean laugh out loud funny, but like "hmm, that is funny." I've been mulling with the idea of writing this post about Afghanistan for a few weeks now. I'm usually a few days, or even weeks behind current events when I finally write about them here. But my snail's pace is miles ahead of Barack's sloth-on-valium pace.
To be fair, it's a mighty large decision he's faced with in Afghanistan. But at the same time, it doesn't seem, at least on the surface, that he's spending all of his time working on this decision. I understand that it's difficult to weigh all the different factors involved in combat strategy, but it's impossible to weigh them if you spend little time near a scale.
Barack cares more about healthcare reform than Afghanistan. There, I said it.
And what has he done to demonstrate otherwise? He and his Democratic disciples spend more time talking about healthcare, debating healthcare, promoting reform, and writing lengthy bills. How many trees have been killed over healthcare reform.
It's time to review a little history. Like General Patton, I think studying the history of warfare is vital to mastering it in the present. But don't worry, this won't be a long-winded lesson.
Afghanistan has never been a nation-state.
It's been conquered by foreigners, although not lately. It's been a kingdom, but it's never been a true nation. What does that mean? Well, when you leave Boston and go into the sticks of Western Mass. or the rolling hills of Vermont, or the rocky expanses of the Crown of Maine, you don't fear for your life do you? Some tribe of New Hampshirians aren't going to steal your clothes. There's law and order outside of the heavily populated areas. That law and order spreads to and is contained by our national borders.
There's an idea of being an American, and it supersedes ethnic background or accent (usually). But the only thing that has unites people in Afghanistan as "Afghanis" is their hatred of American involvement. Other than that, they're a very loose collection of tribes. And that's what works there.
In the US, different municipalities have different governments. In the square states, county government is a big deal. They don't have towns. In suburban Boston, we have towns, and town meetings. In the cities we have mayors and city councils. People tend to develop ruling systems that can efficiently rule. Afghanis utilize a more tribelike system of government because it works there.
This situation is worse than Iraq. At least down there, there existed a slight framework of nationhood. But to be honest, the only kinds of government that can succeed in these shitty places is your token military strongman.
And should we be surprised by that? We think we're so clever with our Democracy. Yet look at our own history. It took this country about 140 years to have universal suffrage. And then 50 more years to really have civil rights for all. Do you want to spend 190 years helping Afghanistan figure things out?
What is victory in Afghanistan? I hear Bill O'Reilly and other conservative mouths proclaim that withdrawal from Afghanistan now would be defeat. We'd be letting the terrorists win. But don't these people also consider dying to be victory? What the fuck do we care what a bunch of crazy assholes think. If they want to think they're winning, let them.
We can't let Afghanistan be run by the Taliban because the Taliban supports terrorists. If we were to take this logic and apply it to other countries, we'd be involved in many more theatres of war. Iran and North Korea come to mind first and foremost, but also more than half of Africa, and even some of our allies. Are we going to try to install democracy in all of these countries?
To me, Barack's decision seems obvious. Victory remains undefined. It's impossible to fight for a victory when you don't know what it is you're trying to accomplish. Just imagine playing football or baseball if you didn't know the rules. Imagine playing chess without a King to checkmate. You'd just have pieces knocking each other off.
Pull out and monitor. Let the Taliban play in their own backyard. Just make sure they don't have too much fun. Support uprisings against them. But if Afghanis want democracy, we can only give them the tools and the wood, they have to build their own house.
But what the fuck is taking Barack so long? And how come he hasn't asked this one pivitol question: "Why is it taking me so long to figure out how to win this war?" Because you can't figure out what "winning" actually means. And therefore should seriously consider withdrawal.
Every day he mulls, ponders, and spends time talking about healthcare reform; the WRONG STRATEGY is still being used in Afghanistan. Whatever the right strategy is, it isn't being used right now. That much is certain. So every day spent thinking is a day spent fighting a war the wrong way. There are the most serious consequences for such hesitation. You made sure you brought cameras with you so we'd know that you know this.
I know Barack doesn't want to fuck this up. But by spending so much time trying not to fuck up, he is indeed fucking up.
And sadly, all America, liberal, conservative, and inbetween, cares much more about their own health plans than they do about the war.
Posted by rob at 5:20 PM
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
52.8% of voting Mainers voted "Yes" on Question 1 in the recent election. Question 1 was a binding referendum to reject Maine's recent gay marriage law. In other words, "Yes on 1" meant "No on Gay Marriage." So by public acclaim, Maine is now removed from the ranks of states that allow consenting, unrelated adults to marry whomever they want to.
Shame. But at least it was a close race, close enough to keep the issue on the proverbial front-burner, close enough that if only 3% of the voters change their minds, it will go the other way.
Those of you who've been loyal readers of this political blog might be surprised to hear that somebody (me) who thinks Ronald Reagan should be beatified as a Saint, would be for gay marriage (or as I prefer to phrase it "I don't care about other people and what they do with themselves"). But the truly dedicated, hardcore Ambi-Winger already knows how I feel on this issue:
Miss California vs. Barack Obama vs. Dick Cheney
Iowa Is More Progressive Than California?
Lone Star Tyranny
I have a question for the typical Anti-Gay Marriage conservative. And to liberals out there, or anyone who is Anti-Government-Sexual-Legislation, feel free to utilize this argument, because it's so juicy, it's so relevant, it's so contemporary, but like a ripe apple it'll spoil if you don't use it right now. Just pretend the next line is addressing the person you're debating against:
How come you're against government interference in health care, but you're for government interference in marriage laws?
Here's the anticipated comeback, it's a scare-tactic, actually it's a scare-diversion, even a deflection of the issue. Instead of talking about human rights vs. government rights to legislate human rights (e.g. murder laws=good, anti-gun laws=bad), the Anti-Gay Marriage advocate that isn't a religious nutjob will counter with an argument that scares the shit out of parents. It was the spearhead of the "Yes on 1" campaign.
I love the simplicity, and outright ignorance of a viewpoint like "I don't want gay marriage taught in schools." But I do see that in certain anecdotal cases, like the ones in the commercial, how irritating it could be to a parent. There's a simple solution, and I'll phrase it in question form:
Why the fuck is any marriage taught in school at all? It should be math, science, social studies, reading/writing, gym. I am against sex-ed in school, in all schools, because it's just a way for lazy parents to pay someone else to teach morals and values to their children. Sex-ed should be limited to biology class and should be called Procreation-Ed, or Reproduction-Ed. It should be taught in 6th grade bio class. Penis goes in vagina, ejaculation, fertilization, pregnancy, birth. Keep it clinical, keep it scientific, make kids memorize big words, use disgusting cross-sections, make sex as unfun as the rest of school is.
It seems like year after year, we as a society beg the government to take care of more and more of our problems. Then we bitch about how bad a job the government does. If you want your children to learn abstinence, teach them that. If you want them to learn about condoms, teach them yourselves. It might be awkward for you, but imagine being a junior high teacher having to tell 30 semi-pubescent tweenagers about fellatio and cunnilingus.
And you know what the "No on 1" people should have done? You know what Gay Marriage activists should do? They should be the biggest advocates of keeping gay marriage out of public schools. They should spend more money doing that than anything else. It's a road block and it's not going away.
Sun Tzu's Art of War can be summed up nicely in 3 words: "Make winning easy." If you eliminate this whole school crap, then people apathetic to BS like "sanctity of marriage" will come over to your side, or at least abstain from voting against gay marriage. Furthermore, your remaining opponents are more likely to expose themselves as bigots.
Maine disappointed me last week. I like Maine, I like Mainers. There's a down-to-earth hickness to them. They don't have the cosmopolitan fakeness or smugness of a typical Northeast liberal. They've got more common sense, but they're not book-stupid either. They allow individual Congressional districts to cast electoral college ballots individually (so if a district votes Republican, while the rest of the state votes Democrat, that Republican district can cast its vote for the Republican candidate. 48 of the 50 states don't allow this. For instance, all 54 of California's votes go to one candidate, even if 20 districts voted for his/her opponent).
There's hope for Maine, and there's certainly hope for most logical states. And gay marriage needs to be passed by votes and referendia, not just State Supreme Courts. Otherwise it'll be as illegitimate and scoffed as the BCS.
For non-sports fans:
The BCS is a combination of polls and math equations that select which 2 college football teams (out of 120) will play each other for the national championship. Big time college football is the only NCAA sport that doesn't determine a champion with a playoff system. The BCS has often been questioned, occasionally leaving undefeated teams out of the title game.
The people who want to see rights given to all need to play hard, get dirty, and even play dirty. They need to write ironclad laws AGAINST gay marriage being taught in schools. They need to make people FEAR government intervention in marriage by using history's facts (anti-miscegenation laws) and future's potential. That racist justice of the peace in Louisiana should be the posterboy of the gay marriage movement.
Compare your opponents to Hitler, confuse the issue, scare the hell out of reasonable people into thinking that they absolutely have to be on your side or something terrible will happen to their children.
And the Barack loving liberals out there need to put pressure on their man in the White House and their people in the Congress. There's little to no reason for Barack or any other centrist Democrat to support gay marriage, because there's no pressure. There's no criticism from the Left on this issue.
But it doesn't have to be that extreme in Maine, thankfully. 47.2% of people voted No on 1. If only 1/10 of these people ask their disagreeing friends "Why are you against government run healthcare but for government run marriage?" Then maybe Maine can be turned back. Or maybe Massachusetts should reacquire it, make it part of The Commonwealth like it was before 1820.
Posted by rob at 11:00 AM