thoughts on libya

so after being killed and captured a total of 47 times in the span of 12 hours because every armchair politico and journalism school failure wanted to be first to break the news, which only ended up causing a massive pandemic of false alarms, there is finally some certainty that the old colonel is no longer in control of the country he’s strongarmed for the last 42 years. now we can procede to play a hilarious game of where’s waldo as nobody knows where the fuck he is.

i’m no fan of gaddafi. i think he’s a complete asshole. but there is no way i am convinced that removing him from libya is suddenly going to transform libya into some progressive human rights haven that follows the rule of law and respects fundamental human rights. we saw the toppling of saddam in iraq, and the removal of the taliban in afghanistan, the regime change in egypt, and countless other examples in modern history. cutting the head off the dragon doesn’t result in shit changing. people just end up partying for a few days, and then it all goes back to the way it was, or as is most often the case, things end up being worse.

the problem with ‘regime change’ is that it’s become completely meaningless in the modern context. the leader may change, but the underlying infrasture, the power base, the culture, social values, belief systems, et al, remains the same. gaddafi held libya at his mercy with an iron fist, but let’s not be delusional and think it was only him. he had a large supporting cast. we saw the same thing happen in egypt — mubarak is finally gone, and there was much rejoicing, but the arab spring has continued into an arab summer as people sobered up and realised that the changes promised were not delivered because mubarak’s heir apparents weren’t really all that different — i mean, how could they be? these are the same men who were raised in the same culture that that mubarak fostered.

it’s easy to replace a leader, but it takes generations to change culture, especially when it has been so deeply embedded into a nation’s institutions for so long, making it a remarkably stubborn beast of burden, and will take years of forward-thinking people to make sure things don’t revert back to the way it was. when the dust settles in libya, we’ll see how much resolve the rebels have when the clear target of gaddafi is gone, and a much more esoteric vision of a progressive libya is the next challenge. modern history has shown that the leader was only a mini-boss, and culture is the final boss.

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religion & power

i have a good amount of downtime here at work. especially in the last stretch of the afternoon. i can usually get almost all my assigned tasks down a little bit after lunch. my supervisor is an awesomely lazy guy who knows that giving me more work is more work for him, so i’m given a lot of free reign.

most of the time, i just end up reading newspapers, my twitter feed, and facebook. usually, i end up getting caught up with what’s going on in american politics, especially now that we’re in the throes of pre-election attention-whoring by potential GOP candidates. michele bachmann and rick perry are my two favourite sources of entertainment, with an occasional dash of rick santorum (who just offered an incredible solution for affordable healthcare: lower your mobile bill — http://t.co/Zxyhuhh), and of course, for dessert, a sprinkle of obama’s painfully ineffectual term in office thusfar.

now that rick perry’s ridiculous ‘prayer rally’ is over with — which happened while a hundred thousand impoverished texans were lined up trying to get free school supplies, of which a vast majority got turned away because they got 5x more people than they expected (http://bit.ly/n40cjV) — i’m wondering if it’s just my cynicism, or do people actually genuinely believe that prayer can actually solve real problems in the real world?

i’ve never been a particularly religious guy. i was raised catholic, and did all the proper catholic things up until i was around 12 years old and decided i hated the smell of old people and being told i’m probably going to go to hell because everything that seemed fun also happened to make god want to smite you. my parents were surprisingly abiding about my journey toward religious independence (it probably had to do with the my dad’s buddhist influence wearing down my mom’s conservative catholic beliefs).

i remember distinctly praying from time to time for things that i really wanted. god was not so much some omniscient deity as a kind of parallel entity akin to santa claus for me. but i don’t remember at any point — even at that age — being entirely convinced that praying would ever work for anything, ever. mostly because god kept shutting me down every time i asked him for video games.

it’s hard for me to think that politicians like rick perry & michele bachmann (among others) believe prayer works as a force for change. my cynicism tells me it’s just a ploy driven by a populistic need to rally the evangelical right. the religious right in america has grown unbelievably powerful in the decade and a half since i’ve started paying attention to politics. it almost feels like the movement started off as an inside joke that has since spiraled out of control.

i understand that religion can be a very powerful force in one’s personal life, but when that religious beliefs starts fucking around with people’s lives, i can’t help but worry about what this might lead to. it seems like ‘prayer’ has become an actual, real, tangible policy choice by a growing number of politicians and their supporters. instead of actual healthcare reform, they suggest prayer. instead of poverty reduction, pray. instead of stopping famine, pray instead. and we all know what happens, from countless examples in history, when people in power think they have been put there by god…

i try to be tolerant and open-minded about religion, and i’m sorry it has come to this, but please do some actual work, and most importantly, fuck your prayers.

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why can’t obama stand up for anything?

with the debt limit finally going to the vote, i can’t think of any significant piece of legislation that has passed in the last three years that obama can call his own.

i’ve had this creeping feeling that he has drank so heavily from his cup of “reaching across the aisle”, that he’s willing to sell out his base just to get anything “done” — especially with his health care bill that got watered down to ‘obamacare’, a shadow of its former self that completely erased any snifflings of a public option.

now with this debt limit deal does almost nothing for the people who need it, and much of it will be determined later in later congressional hearings.

while i am completely sure that this whole ‘debt limit’ talk has only been a big deal because a (black) democrat is running the country (it was raised 8 times under bush (2000–2008), and a whopping 14 times under reagan, all with pretty much zero press coverage), i just don’t understand the long-term viability of obama’s administration. it just seems every compromise he’s made is just another step towards catastrophic failure come election time next year.

every compromise he’s made will come back to bite him in the ass, from both the left and the right. the right will expose all the failures of said legislation (stimulus package, health care, the way the wars were handled), and the left will talk about how they really haven’t benefited from anything he’s done (and they are right to say so).

he seems to have not learned that ‘compromise’ in american politics generally lends itself to pissing off both sides of the political spectrum because both will say they did not get a big enough piece of the pie. thus, he is in extreme danger of alienating his base. even his most ardent supporters in the “liberal” media have questioned whether or not he even has a pair of balls to stand up for anything he said during his campaign.

it’s pretty sad that a country like the united states, with its diverse culture of ideas, has absolutely zero viable progressive alternatives. unless he actually starts flexing some muscle, i get the feeling that obama’s only supporters come 2012 will be because his party affliation does not say ‘republican’ beside his name, and that’s a shitty reason to vote for anyone.

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Aside

“corporate limits on campaign spending a form of censorship.” — quote.

the ghost of dubya bush strikes again: some­thing passed last week that’s prob­a­bly going to destroy whatever’s left of fox-dominated amer­i­can democ­racy. for the aver­age amer­i­can cit­i­zen, anyway.

with the appoint­ments of alito and roberts (with his dad’s con­tri­bu­tion of thomas), a 5–4 deci­sion by the supreme court is now allow­ing unlim­ited cor­po­rate cam­paign spend­ing.  con­cerned amer­i­cans should be pissed — your country’s top judges basi­cally just over­threw about a 100 years worth of leg­is­la­tion pro­tect­ing the aver­age voter and gov­ern­ment from bla­tant cor­po­rate interests.

when the major­ity deci­sion was released, the judges actu­ally defended it by invok­ing the first amend­ment, and that curb­ing cor­po­rate spend­ing in elec­tions is uncon­sti­tu­tional and a form of cen­sor­ship. brilliant.

there’s already a huge air of cyn­i­cism when it comes to elec­toral pol­i­tics — dis­in­for­ma­tion via media, spin, what­ever. and peo­ple who thought that elec­tions are bought now, well… i think it’s safe to say that you’ve seen noth­ing yet.

this has its roots in cor­po­rate law and how the law sees a cor­po­rate entity as hav­ing the same rights as an indi­vid­ual. just absolutely bru­tal. in stark irony, there are still cam­paign dona­tion lim­its on reg­u­lar people.

not unex­pected, the cor­po­rate news enti­ties haven’t really made this a big deal. i won­der why.

2012 will be inter­est­ing. for rea­sons aside from the total destruc­tion of civ­i­liza­tion and the world as we know it.

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