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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - 03:15 pm:   

Allowing Saddam to stay in power (stand up anti-war types) or removing him by force (stand up anti-tyrant types) and giving Iraq the right to vote?

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Mastadge
Posted on Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - 03:42 pm:   

I don't have a problem with removing Saddam from power, though that should have happened nearly two decades ago when he was, y'know, comitting genocide. My issue is not with what was done, but rather with the time and the reasons for which it was done. As long as it doesn't pay for us to intercede on behalf of his poor people, we don't give a toss, but as soon as it looks like it might benefit someone in charge over here, suddenly he's a threat to us, with WMDs (which we'll find for sure any day now), and somehow associated with terrorists, and as soon as it's a good idea to get Afghanistan and our lack of bin Laden out of the spotlight, suddenly he's a monster.

If our president had said, "Gee, this guy's been committing crimes against humanity, and has to be tried for that," that would've been fine. Instead, he lied to us. And lied to us. And lied some more.

And our wonderful invasion has hardly been the exemplar of well-planned campaign, either.

That's the short version. The long version can be found in the hundreds or thousands of posts worth of discussion in this very forum, mostly.
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 02:44 pm:   

Evasion! This isn't "let's change the subject" and talk about another aspect you prefer. It's the "which was worse" thread.

So, which was worse...answer please. No evasion this time. Refusal to answer is up to you :-)
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Mastadge
Posted on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 03:56 pm:   

But I belong to only one of your categories -- and yet both of your parenthetical categories! Actually, I don't have much against tyrants, per se -- more against homicidal genocidal maniacs.

And I did answer your question. It's better to remove him -- 17 years ago. For his crimes, and not just to evade our own screw-ups elsewhere and get some resources into the bargain.

Oops! There I go with that evasion again!
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JV
Posted on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 04:21 pm:   

Oh f--- off victim of Neo-liberals. It's a false question. The real question is: Was it worth giving Iraqis the vote if it meant seriously screwing with our own civil liberties and giving our president powers more common to a cut-rate dictator?

JeffV
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 04:43 pm:   

How many people have died as a direct result of that invasion?

How many people per year, on average, had Saddam regime killed since 1998? How many people would have been killed by Hussein, had we left him in power?

How many people’s lives could have been saved with the 800+ billion dollars that have been spent/will be spent on the occupation of Iraq?

From a sheer cost effectiveness of saving lives and making livews better perspective, I have to say the world would be better off, and there would be more people alive today, if the U.S. had not invaded.

From a symbolic perspective I think the invasion has been just as ineffective. The purple fingers and fake "80%" turnout headlines are the exact same kinds of things as the toppling of the statue... bullshit pr stunts that do little to actually help the people on the ground, or further any sense of “democracy” in the region.

Note, though there are very few hard numbers available, my pre-war predictions have sadly proven accurate. The amount of carnage caused by the invasion has far exceeded what Saddam Hussein could have carried out. And there would have been far more humane and effective ways to spend the war money.

Anybody who tries to justify this war on from a humanitarian perspective is ignorant, myopic, or just plane disingenuous. It is to these people that I send a hearty “fuck off” to. The blood is on your hands, and I won’t forgive you for it. Go prey to your barbaric god for forgiveness, and go peddle your petty justifications elsewhere.

-JL

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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 08:40 pm:   

What does "victim of Neo-liberals" mean? How have you been victimized, and why do you categorize the people who did it this way? Just curious. It sounds like you're trying to antagonize people with this header, but I can't tell which people, or why.
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 04:45 am:   

I'm not sure any more needs to be said on the subject really. Neo-liberalism entails, as demonstrated here, the Pavlovian dismissal of any good news coming out of the newly democratic Iraq.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 05:53 am:   

Victim, you cry "Evasion!" in this thread, and yet you won't even say how you've been victimized. Kinda funny, if you ask me, but then again, I have a hunch you dismiss the posts of anyone who uses their own name here. I could speculate on how you feel you've been made a victim and who the people are who have done it to you, but I'd much rather hear your own comments on the matter.
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Jim
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 06:48 am:   

Why don't you go visit a family in Falujah and talk to me about victimization. I think you need to see the violence inherent to the system!!
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gary gibson
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 07:20 am:   

do we really need, again, to go over the implicit foolishness of attempting to reduce deeply complex issues into simple black and white dualities? Of rebels versus the death star, train robbers versus the sheriff, good guys versus bad?

'victim' is surely aware how simplistic this approach is, and doesn't appear concerned that our information concerning saddam is filtered through governments on record as having told falsehoods and mislead their people, while arranging trade deals with any number of appalling despots. half an hour's internet research alone provides a seemingly limitless cornucopia of verifiable supporting evidence and references. surely 'victim' has access to libraries that lend out books containing further evidence of the complexity of these issues?

'victim': nobody denies the Iraqui's right to choose their own government. But what our armies have done is tantamount to a bully stamping on a man's face for twenty years while someone else idly watches from the sidelines, unprepared to interfere until the moment their relationship with the bully merely ceases to be profitable.

And when that person standing by only then pushes the bully to one side and helps you up, would you want to shake their hand, or kick them to the ground for having stood aside for so very long, with such a clear previous lack of concern for your well-being?
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 09:18 am:   

Btw, Neo-liberalism also entails paying lip-service to impartially condemning violence from whatever quarter while actually concentrating almost all its actual and detailed criticism against the USA and Britain either for what it did do or what it didn't do.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 09:55 am:   

Go away troll...
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 02:58 pm:   

<yawns> and rolls over.
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Jersey Lessen
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 03:18 pm:   

Last year I went to Iraq. Before Team America showed up it was a happy place. They had flowering meadows and rainbow skies and rivers made of chocolate, where the children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 05:52 pm:   

Anonymas coward. Go ahead and try to put words in my mouth. Doesn't change the fact that more people are dead, and more people are worse off then if the invasion had not happened.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Sunday, February 13, 2005 - 09:37 am:   

Worse for women now, then pre-invasion, and it is only going to get worse.

http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_riverbendblog_archive.html#11081585 0766514443
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Thomas R
Posted on Sunday, February 13, 2005 - 02:07 pm:   

Iraq before was not necessarily great for women. According to Dartmouth Iraq's Gender Development index was ranked ten places below their human development in 1995. Their GDI rank was below Jordan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. They had only around 13% of the national income, or less than a sixth of the men. That percent of the income was above that of women in the UAE, Qatar, Oman, or Saudi but noticeably below that of women in neighboring Iran, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Kuwait. In Iran female literacy was 76% that of men's, in Iraq it was less than 60% of men's. In Jordan and Kuwait female literacy was between 82-91% of men's. Kuwait, Saudi, Oman, Iran, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon all had higher female school enrollment rates as well.

That being said I did eventually shift and agree the war was harmful for US diplomacy, stability, human rights efforts, etc. The election was a promising sign, but violence seems to still be endemic. Although ultimately I think "it is only going to get worse" is merely an opinion. Plausible and informed, perhaps, but not predictive.

I doubt this post was worthwhile, but the link will hopefully be useful to some. The main point in doing it after consideration.
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 03:27 pm:   

Thomas R.--Although I applaud your intervention, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage in dealing with the anti-war types. You're employing reason against them. All you'll get back is a wave of contempt for daring to upset their calcified worldview. All we need now is a draft-dodger with a beard and a history of academic Marxist bullshit and the gang's all here. Que chinga.
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al duncan
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 06:38 pm:   

Ah, because calling people long-hair, hippy, pinko intellectuals is so much more productive, Vicky. Kudos to Thomas R for actually making the effort to weigh up facts and possibilities.

You missed out the faggots, btw, Vicky. We're in the "gang" too, you know. Yes, cause we're *all* out to get you, Vicky, the bourgeouis liberals and the homosexuals and the communists and... um... who am I missing out here? I'm sure I'm missing someone out. Decadent avant-garde artists? Anti-patriotic anarchists? I'm sure there's someone else.

Nope, just can't think of it right now.

Anyhoo. Don't worry, Vicky. We may largely be evil lackeys of the homo-pinko-beardy conspiracy here but there's plenty of other forums where the volks'll be happy to join you in a rousing chorus of "Tomorrow belongs to me".

Nil paseran.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 07:26 pm:   

You've forgotten the feminists, Al ;-0
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Vicky
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 07:29 pm:   

And the Brit tossers.
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 07:32 pm:   

You asked what the nature of my victimization was, Gordon. I was ravaged by Keanu Reeves and his followers.
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 07:34 pm:   

I've been victimized (again) by an imposter. The two posts above do not speak for me.
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 07:36 pm:   

_I'm_ victim of Neo-liberals!
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 07:37 pm:   

No, I'm victim of Neo-liberals!
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 07:38 pm:   

Prove it!
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 07:42 pm:   

I am distinguished by a faint perfume of pigeon wastes and can hide a roll of quarters in my belly button.
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girlfriend of victim of Neo-liberals herself a victim
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 07:51 pm:   

Is it you, Marfy? Oh my god! Look what they've done to you!
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 07:55 pm:   

Keep away, Lulu! They carved the mark of Franken on my breast! It could kill you!

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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 07:57 pm:   

How droll!

<yawns> and breaks wind.
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 08:02 pm:   

This has been a vN-l Production.
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 09:22 pm:   

You're a looney. Which is unfortunate because you're one point wasn't totally invalid. This place has some tendencies to be lock-step on politics, and I've had Trotskiyites or people who did anti-Bush blogs tell me that. And in some ways that's good. Even natural or healthy. If it was everyone going in a different direction with no commonalities the discussions could be fragmented and useless. Especially since several here are activists of some stripe ideological commonalities probably have some value. To me there are also ways it's not so good. Personally I think someone who lacks the necessary ideological commonalities is forever going to remain a threat or hostile intruder.

I didn't vote for Bush in 2004, came to agree the war was a quagmire, and was always willing to say I'd sign petitions or even boycott products if we invade Iran. Yet my basic values and experiences have little commonalities with anyone here. This is unlikely to change because of any Internet discussion. Hence debate is futile as both sides lack any common frame to debate from. This would not be the case if I was truly a neo-con or the other side was truly granola eating hippy Marxist utopians. (Or whatever it is your saying) Instead we're just people who have absolutely nothing in common and never will. At times I could discuss literature with a few here, but even there I'm a Hard SF or Space Opera type. Alternate history might be the closest thing to a literary commonality.

So mostly I decided if I have anything useful to contribute it's just links and information. Readers can interpret the data as they see fit. However I'm still not pro-war again. I'm not sure I was ever comfortable thinking of myself as pro-war. Except for the Afghanistan war which I was and am positive on. (True Afghanistan is still something of a mess, but Afghanistan has been a terrible mess for 27 years or more. Under the Soviets there was also huge amounts of abuses)
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 09:29 pm:   

You''re good-hearted for a pissant, Thomas R.
Ten aardvark virgins will be yours in the afterlife.
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 09:32 pm:   

For the last time, these are not my posts! I am the one and only victim of Neo-liberals.
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A Stalinite
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 03:31 am:   

Thomas R, Trotsky-ites talk to you about the nightshade board? They must be some lame-ass Trotsky-ites! Trotsky-ites? I didn't think they existed anymore. Where are they? They need to be purged immediately.
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Victim Of Old School Liberals
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 03:43 am:   

Victim Of Neo-Liberals, your pain is nothing as compared to mine.
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victim of Neo-liberals
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 03:51 am:   

They buffeted me with their hairy pink palms, tickled me with their hippy beards, assailed me with their peacenik slogans...

I died and was reborn as Victim of Neo-liberals....
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 06:13 am:   

This is kinda what you get for being anonymous, victim. At least we "neo liberals"--as retarded a term as I've ever heard--have a sense of humor.

JeffV
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United Front of International Victims of Neo-Liberalism
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 06:43 am:   

"For the last time, these are not my posts! I am the one and only victim of Neo-liberals."

Oi! Splitter!
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 06:45 am:   

Jeff, your post is actually a lead-in to a fairly serious question this thread has raised in my mind: is there any reason why so many conservatives behave so arrogantly?

I'm not looking for a quick "Because they're jerks" comeback---I'm serious. Throughout the pre-election discussions, it seemed the general tone of outrcry from the liberal side of things was one of moral outrage, and the conservative side of things was arrogant sneering.

Are conservatives taught somewhere that they're better than everyone else? Is it the security of their knowledge that money matters more than people that drives them to adopt this tone? Or is it some innate theory of masculinity that says that real men smoke Marlboros, drive pick-up trucks, know what's what, and any guy who asks questions like these is a touchy-feely New-Agey liberal without any balls?

As I write this post, I keep thinking of some comment that came out right after the election: it was a blog post that said, "Now maybe you East Coast intellectuals will know how much we hate you." I freely admit that I don't get such sentiments. Can anyone explain? I've known plenty of people who leaned to the Right politically who have been good friends and good company, without a trace of arrogance, but I've also noticed that conservative commentators almost all show this arrogance? Is it just that they can?
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Kathy S.
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 06:58 am:   

Gordon --
I think many tend to confuse politics with sports. Hence the attitude of 'we won, you lost'. Hence the term 'sour loser'. This behavior is remarkably similar to that of the Red Sox fans last year, and the Yankees fans in 2003.

It doesn't seem to occur to them that politics is not all or nothing proposition, or that a minority might deserve to be heard.
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gary gibson
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 07:06 am:   

I don't think arrogance is solely the prerogative of right-wingers, Gordon. Speaking from the other side of the pond, there are plenty of examples of outrageous arrogance on the part of the Labour Party since they came into power several years ago. I think it has more to do with whoever happens to be in power at any one time, and whether they feel sufficiently empowered by this to behave in an arrogant way.
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al duncan aka Victim of New Labourals
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 07:23 am:   

"I don't think arrogance is solely the prerogative of right-wingers... there are plenty of examples of outrageous arrogance on the part of the Labour Party"

And... yer point is?

Oh, wait a sec. I see now. You were thinking of New Labour as *left-wing*. Heh. Heheh.
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gary gibson
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 08:10 am:   

Arrogance goes right across the political spectrum, Al. Meet the new boss, same as the old one. Until you scare them with tactical voting and watch him or her jump.

It's one thing what a politician _tells_ you: it's what they actually subsequently _do_ that counts. Words are cheap.
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 08:33 am:   

I'm not sure arrogance has anything to do with it. I think it's more righteousness. Right now, the group that seems the most righteous in the US is the Right Wing. Righteousness and humor rarely occupy the same space.

If I debate somebody about a political or social topic, I experience moments of doubt. I may change my position upon receiving new facts or arguments. I may at least acknowledge the validity of the opposing point of view.

I still get the sense of a dialogue when talking to moderate Republicans, and I've always felt comfortable talking to moderate Republicans.

But these days the right wing Republicans and neo-Cons are not engaging in a dialogue, for the most part. Instead, they seem to be waging a righteous war (literally and figuratively), convinced of the the correctness of their worldview to the exclusion of other voices and opinions. To be honest, it makes me feel we'd be much better off if the US were a parliamentary democracy--at least those other voices might be given more credence.

I also think that extremists of any type tend to see things in black-and-white. When you do that, you lose the ability to see humor in the absurdity of the world, in a sense.

I would say the far Right in this country is almost as closed off from the free exchange of ideas and positions as many fundamentalist Moslems.

And I think that does tie into the issue of a sense of humor.

JeffV
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al duncan
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 09:13 am:   

Ah. Jeff sorta beat me to the punch here. What I was gonna say was:

I think there's a difference between "small-c" conservatives and the radical rightists I'd call reactionaries. I've had discussions with small-c conservatives who were committed, even dogmatic, but not *arrogant* in the way they treat others; bona fide *reactionaries* on the other hand don't seem interested in either common ground or common courtesy.

I think a lot of conservatives basically hold to fairly prim and proper, down-to-earth values (might even call them "family values") which include respect for others and magnanimity in victory; that's something they share with many liberals and UK-style socialists. I mean, fair play and good form aren't staggeringly difficult concepts to grasp no matter what your political colouring. But the radical rightists born of the McCarthyite, Reaganite, Thatcherite and now Neo-Con eras... these people are fundamentally Straussians who believe in none of that shit, no matter how they might use it as a sales spiel. It's "Might is Right" and "Greed is Good" for them. They don't really believe in ethical judgements so they fall back on moral absolutes, symbols, slogans and simple comprehensible sentiments. Yee-haw pride, aw-shucks shame and bomb-them-bastards righteous wrath.

Sadly they do have their opposite numbers, I think, in the sort of sneering, badgering, placard-waving, student radicals so common to university unions all over Britain (I was just making a glib joke with the New Labour reference, Gary). Both sides, left or right, are utterly convinced that the one idea they let in their head is absolutely TRUE, and both are self-programmed to dismiss any contradiction on the basis of their sense of conviction. They don't actually make ethical and pragmatic evaluations of the world the way more moderate conservatives and liberals do; they just rely on disgust, shame, pride, and a book of rules and aphorisms to tell them this is a Good Thing and that is a Bad Thing. I'm not sure that their arrogance, then, isn't just the natural spite and schadenfreude that goes hand in hand with an inability to make ethical judgements about one's own behaviour; it's like the ugly little mean spirit of a six-year-old brat whose parents didn't teach them fucking respect. I think it's kinda fair enough to call them jerks - though I prefer "cretin". If you can't tell right from wrong without a fucking handbook then there's something wrong with you.

No. Having sacrificed ethical judgement, including self-judgement, to unconsidered sentiment, empty symbolism and sloganeering rhetoric (wave that flag, sing that anthem, wear that pin-badge, love your country, love your God, but most of all, most of all, fear and hate the Enemy we tell you to) what you end up with is a self-righteous, aggressive overgrown child with the Good Lord, or Karl Marx, or Human Nature, or Allah, or just "The Plain Ole-Fashioned Truth" on their side. Petty little adult brats that love nothing better than to say, "So there", to throw insults or stones or bombs at the Enemy.
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Dave
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 09:24 am:   

Thomas,

I thought you were giving up boards like this for Lent?

I guess we are all slaves to our passions :-)


quote:

What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another... -- St. Paul.


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AliceB
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 09:38 am:   

Gordon, I don't know if this is entirely on point, but Henry G. Frankfurt, professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton suggests a rise in the use of bullshit as one of the problems in discourse. This is the copy for his book On Bullshit published by Princeton University Press:

"With his characteristic combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying. He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all.

Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are."

Frankfurt is, from newspaper accounts, a mild, courtly 70-something-year old man who thinks that the rise of bullshit--I'm right, because,hey, I'm right--and the lack of any true analysis and critique of it, is one of the great dangers of modern civilization.

Best,
Alice
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 09:49 am:   

Are the loud mouth swaggering, sneering conservatives really radicals? Or are they simply lost, lonely, alienated chuckle heads who are being used by radicals? Certianly the radicals are arrogant and sneering, but the legions of brown coats aren't really radicals... just followers being used.

I think the sports analogy that Kathy makes is VERY apt. These sad, alienated people pick a team and stick with it -- broadcast media encourages this type of political engagement, with its "talking head experts" who may as well be discussing the point spread, or the injured reserve list, for all their gibbering has to do with real life on the ground.

Further, Conservatives are aping the behavior of their "leaders" in the media... Rush, Mike savage, Anne Coulter. What is acceptable has changed, because of the prominence that these formerly fringe pundits have been given by the media.

Shows like "Cross-fire", where people line up on opposite sides of a false dialectic and shout at each other are another example that people use as their benchmark for how political debate should be conducted.

In short, the arrogance, and anger and sneering, and refusal to actually debate – It’s a learned behavior.

Who benefits when no actual dialog takes place? Those who already have money and power.... The rest of us are just left shouting at each other.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 10:06 am:   

Exactlty. Politics in the US has been reduced to two people yelling at each other on TV, so--given the omnipresent big brothering of the media--it's hardly suprising that the bourgees have aped this behavior and succumbed to the four-legs-good, two-legs-bad sort of sloganeering, have taken to indulging in two-minute hates with Saddam and Osama replacing Goldstein, have taken to using thought balloon rather than actual thought.

I think JV has it right about righteousness, but as Al points out this often takes the form of righteousness that might come from the lips of a spiteful child. I still credit the corporate media as the major villain of the piece. I;m writing a story in a which a man with a terminal disease revisit that old proposition of if you find out you're dying and you could kill someone, who would you kill? He discounts the advantages of killing a villain -- a hundred more would, he thinks, jump up to take his place. He thinks it would have more a benificent effect if he kills somebody good, some hero of mankind, some creator of good works, and creates a backlash. I don't know where it's going, maybe nowhere, but I think in real life, I'd start offing telejournalists.
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gary gibson
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 10:41 am:   

"I think in real life, I'd start offing telejournalists."

I can think of a few people I'd off. It would almost make terminal illness seem er, attractive.

It occurred to me reading some of the posts subsequent to mine, including Al's, is that the problem is really a failure of the imagination on the part of the apparently arrogant. They literally, perhaps, cannot understand that anyone could see things any way but *their* way. To countenance an opposing point of view might, from such a perspective, be impossible. It feels that way to me, anyway, when I think back on some conversations I've had.
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 11:01 am:   

Well, Gordon's question regarding arrogance is an interesting one, especially concerning conservatives. I'll be honest, I don't know why some conservatives act that way.

That said, I've seen, over fifteen plus years, similar arrogance on the other side of the fence. I don't know what generates liberal arrogance anymore than I do conservative arrogance.

The only possible explanation I can think of is, "I know better than you what is right and so I'm going to shove it down your throat and make you like it."

In any case, I see the arrogance as an ideologue problem that crosses party lines, not something endemic to the Left or the Right.

As far as which side of the extreme is more close minded, well, having been around Far Left College Professors and Far Right Gun Owners I can safely say that both possess minds that are locked as tight as rusty steel beartraps.

And I only see things getting worse, not better. No one seems to be making any real effort to grab the middle ground from either side.

Goin' back to lurk, work on writing projects, so on, so forth.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 12:42 pm:   

Dave:I thought you were giving up boards like this for Lent?

TR: You caught me. I have research to do this week so end up online. Once online I get weak and end up coming back to boards.

As there's no information or link to show arrogance of either side I guess I have nothing to add by my self-described restrictions. However I think arrogance is a personality trait, not something of any political philosophy. I personally feel many on the far Left or Right are about equally arrogant as some indicate.

However the Red-stater/Blue-stater divide is a slightly different issue. There's been regional hostilities in the US for generations and that's a bit more based on studies. On those I'd say arrogance is in the eye of the beholder. What you see as your region's "Righteous Indignation" seems pretty clearly like arrogant hostility to many in the Red states. I also agree the Blue-Staters at times seem to me to be the arrogant ones. Ted Rall's "Screw the Red States" comments were basically arrogance in my mind. You have all the Ivy League schools and New England has the highest per-capita income in the US. You dominate the entertainment so thoroughly it's like we don't even exist there. Texas is the third largest state in population, when was the last major show set there? Yet every major city in the Northeast gets some series based around it every other year, sometimes with the city in the Title. "Boston Public", "Providence", "NYPD Blue", etc. Sketch comedy shows constantly pick on the stupidity and in-bredness of those not blessed to be born in the Blue. Even Red states that are actually heavily Democrat, like Iowa, are basically treated as almost retarded hayseeds.

If Kerry had one there would have been Left-leaning blogs saying "that ought to show those cousin marrying Bible thumpers that they aren't the real America." Mostly because I read some pro-Kerry blogs and that was exactly the attitude some had about the hopes of him winning.
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Jim
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 01:59 pm:   

There have been some very good points made.

I remember being in London on the day we invaded Iraq, and the majority of student protestors running around in parliamentary square seemed to mostly be there as a good excuse not to be in school, and couldn't have made an intelligent point, much less a cogent argument. (Not necessarily arrogance, but backs up Gary's point a bit.)

I do think that being in the position of power lends itself to arrogance. (I imagine the neo-cons felt Clinton and his folks were arrogant, getting away with lying about cheating on their wives and all sorts of evil like that.)

But in the end, I feel the most direct answer to GVG's question comes from Elwood Blues: They're on a mission from God!
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 02:59 pm:   

Yes indeed, lots of interesting feedback here---thanks!

I was thinking purely on American terms, so the feedback from overseas is interesting for its different perspective.

Of course I know that _all_ parties in power can be arrogant. (As if I don't know what the definition of "is" is!) But I think Jeff V. picked up and clarified what I was after---righteousness more than arrogance. A refusal even to listen to another side.

Several people have hinted at something that occurred to me too, but I think no one wants to address directly: is the righteousness tied up with religious thought? In Catholic schools, are students taught not to consider viewpoints that vary from the One True View?

(Let me hasten to add the obligatory note here that I'm not trying to say that all conservatives are Catholic, or even Christian, or that all Christians are conservative, or that all non-Christians are not conservative, etc., etc., and etc. I'm just trying to get my head the bigger questions here. Not having been raised Christian, I'm fairly clueless when it comes to understanding the fundaments of Christian thought.)

Have to run---there's a Dallas rerun on that I need to catch in honor of Thomas R.'s post. (Just kidding!)
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Douglas Lain
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 03:15 pm:   

The illegal and immoral invasion which removed Saddam from power was worse than whatever consequences there might have been if we hadn't invaded and thus left Saddam in power.
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Douglas Lain
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 03:18 pm:   

Definition of Neoliberal:

"The term neoliberalism is used to describe a political-economic philosophy that had major implications for government policies beginning in the 1970s – and increasingly prominent since 1980 – that de-emphasizes or rejects positive government intervention in the economy, focusing instead on achieving progress and even social justice by encouraging free-market methods and less restricted operations of business and "development"."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

The Neoliberals and Neocons share a lot of ground.
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victim of a lonely heart
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 03:30 pm:   

Oh...I thought this was the MTV forum.
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 03:59 pm:   

Some may disagree, but I think I do consider ideas other than my own. When I came to the war thread I said I probably would vote for Bush. By the election I didn't, even though this is a state where like 70%+ did.

On the Christian thought thing it varies. Catholicism has elements that are liberal and others that are very conservative. Like there is the early support of unions and the early opposition to birth control or female ordination. Since Vatican Council II though it's pretty accepted to study other religions and see value in them. The Catholic Church is still to be seen as the only one to have "the fullness of the truth" so one Jesuit got in trouble for saying all religions are necessary for salvation. Still going back to even Thomas More, who despised all Protestants, there was the sense non-Christian faiths could be a reasonable approximation of what God wants based on natural law and observing people. In modern times you get like Thomas Merton doing commentaries on the Tao Te Ching while anti-clerical film directors nowadays get praised by the Vatican. Things like that.

I know my Mom's generation of Catholics talk about a world that makes little sense to me. I remember one former Catholic SF writer in her fifties said she left because she disliked the idea only Catholics couldn't go to Heaven. I couldn't relate. The current Pope says the unbaptized can go to Heaven as do most heir apparents to succeed him. Going back even to the third century writer Gregory of Nyssa it was clear the unbaptized weren't anymore damned than anyone else. Still I've noticed older generation Catholics were raised with alot of nonsensical clap-trap because that's what their parents or priest said. Judging from them you did not question the priest in those days and even had to kiss the ring of the bishop if you saw him. Which is not the Catholicism of my day where I joked around with the bishop, questioned things at retreat, Dad would explain when/why he felt the priest's homily was doctrinally incorrect(even citing councils or Aquinas), Mom bought me my copy of the Tao Te Ching, and I read works about the Dalai Lama when I still planned to be a Catholic monk. As an adult I read Hadiths from Islam, my favorite authors are atheists, etc.

Overload, sorry. I just know when Catholicism is brought up on most SF cites I've been to it's a Pre-Vatican II world that's as alien to me as you. If I'd been raised Catholic in the 50s, well I'd be dead because OI life expectancy was way worse then, but also I think I might've dumped it.
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victim of a Neo-Thomas
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 09:10 pm:   

My god, you're boring!
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 09:42 pm:   

You're not the first to say that, and you won't be the last. Better then other things I've heard. Especially as most people only get bored because they are boring themselves and lacking in any creativity.

Zai Jian!
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victim etc.
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 10:05 pm:   

"You're not the first to say that..."

I didn't think I was. There's a difference between noticing something is boring and being bored oneself. Or hadn't you noticed?
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Jim
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 07:00 am:   

don't listen, Thomas R. You're often the most reasoned voice in this crazy din of ours.

I was raised Catholic. My mother's a very strict Catholic (who also happens to be a licensed massage therapist, which brings her in contact with a very non-Catholic crowd, though not nearly so much in the past decade as when she first began doing massage.) I left Catholicism in the mid 80s, mostly because of certain teachings that I thought were morally questionable. (That's a different thread.)

The current pope seems to be both liberal and arch-conservative. And while indeed the pope has a lot of power, and technically the ultimate power in the church, the College of Bishops is a force unto itself. And, of course, the bishop sets the tone for the whole diocese, though it's the parish priest, in the end, who has the most influence on what it's like to be a Catholic. At each layer there's influence that manifests to varying degrees, but it's the individual in the trenches who sets the tone.

It has been fairly standard practice to teach about other religions in Catholic grade schools (usually during junior high). In general, there's not much intolerance being preached in Catholicism, though that's just my experience with a few parishes in the midwest. YMMV
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Dave
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 07:24 am:   

Gordon: Several people have hinted at something... is the righteousness tied up with religious thought? In Catholic schools, are students taught not to consider viewpoints that vary from the One True View?

I thought Thomas made interesting points about changes in Catholic thought and culture that indicate greater openness or atleast less dogmatic certainty in some areas. But in other areas, the Pope has stauchly stood his ground.

Speaking from an Evangelical Christian perspective (BOO! yes, we are watching you! :-) ) I would answer Yes to Gordon's question "is the righteousness tied up with religious thought?" with "Yes" -- if by "righteousness" you mean the conviction that one is doing the right thing. President Bush is very open about the fact that his understanding of Christian biblical principles informs his decisions. I don't think its a matter of "I'm morally superior, so I know best." Rather it is based on the belief that "God is morally superior" and so our decisions/actions should be made in light of God's revealed moral principles.

After all, in Eden, the first temptation of the serpent was to ask Eve, "Hath God really said...?" to get her to place her own moral judgements above God's. (This is essentially the same advice the fallen angels offered mankind in Ted Chiang's Hugo winner: "Hell is the Absence of God.")


----------------
"A man convinced against his own will, is of the same opinion still."
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 07:26 am:   

Thanks for your posts, Jim and Thomas.

Jim, when you say "there's not much intolerance being prached," does that mean that some intolerance is taught in school? Explicitly? Or simply of the implicit "Those who are different are not as good as us" sort? What do they teach about the members of heathen religions? (All religions that don't embrace the God of the Bible are heathen, right?)

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al duncan
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 08:54 am:   

Following up on Dave's points:

"...if by "righteousness" you mean the conviction that one is doing the right thing."

I think this is probably the core issue here, as I see it, the sense of conviction. And conviction is fundamentally a sensation, I'd argue, a powerful - even overwhelming - emotional reaction to a proposition. The fact that we talk about "gut" feelings, or knowing something "in our heart" implies to me that this sense of conviction is part of our basic psychophysiology along with all the "butterflies in our tummy", "hearts filled with joy", "trembling" with anticipation, and so on. We are aware of our own automatic actions, our habitual behaviours, and our consciously considered beliefs, and we have simple ways to judge those by the way they make us feel, the way they make us physically react - with fear, fury, pride, shame and so on, those emotions so basic that they're bloody physical. So sometimes one does feel quite a strong "conviction that one is doing the right thing". We know it in our hearts. It must be true then, mustn't it?

But I think what we have is a feedback loop of conviction in those whose decisions are founded on (rather than simply informed by) their conviction that their own individual "understanding of Christian biblical principles" is absolutely right. A religious person may have a strong faith that their own convictions are, as Dave puts it, "revealed moral principles" but still be open to debate on the basis that they could be wrong. Their convictions as to what exactly God meant here or there in this or that aspect of the revelation might just be misplaced, based on misinterpretations, mistranslations. Many are not though. For many the conviction that their own convictions are "revealed moral principles" is unquestionable.

But the stronger and more unshakeable this faith is, the more self-serving it becomes. So one has the absolute conviction that one's own convictions are "revealed moral principles"? How bloody convenient. No more self-critique. No more self-doubt. No more individual responsiblity. It's simply a bald-faced lie, in these cases, to say that this is not about the individual thinking they know best.

It's not that *I* know best, they say; it's just that God does... and I know with absolute certainty what his Will is. *I* know exactly what the Bible means and *I* have an absolute conviction that every word in it is His revealed Word. *I* know that and if you disagree with me, you're simply wrong.

Oh, but this isn't about you knowing best?

Man, if that isn't the placing of one's own moral judgements above God's I don't know what is. It's overweening arrogance, a pride that makes Lucifer look like sodding Buddha. The sheer fucking audacity of it leaves me gaping with awe and horror. Way I see it, any man filled with a sense of "righteousness" is about as far from grace as you can possibly imagine.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 09:13 am:   

This is turning into ex-Catholics With a Conscience crapola. "I gave up the church because of certain intolerable teachings..." is like saying I didn't vote the Nazi ticket because of their policy regarding train schedules. The church is a great liver-splotted, flatulent monstrosity squatting over the upturned face of mankind. It's abuses are legend. Think Inquisition, Children's Crusade, Borgia popes, the assault on various Indian tribes under the aegis of Spanish colonial priests, etc, etc. Cardinal Law and the latest mass clerical rape is but a pimple on the dick with which the Church has been fucking civilization for centuries. Changes in Catholic culture and thought...Jaysus! Nothing has changed except the PR. The sheep who gobble that swill may dither about some changes in liturgy and doctrine, but the basic fucking over continues. Speaking as an ex-Catholic, ex-altar boy, defining myself as anti-Catholic, to hear the Church discussed in terms of beng perhaps morally questionable makes me want to hurl. It is the oldest, most pernicious, vilest of empires, eaten through by corruption. Vampires are morally superior to the average cardinal. And as for that moribund gout-ridden nastiness that sits astride the papal throne, going blah blah blah whenever his meds kick in...infallible, my ass!

As for Dave and his "God's revealed moral principles," who the revealed them to you, man. Don't answer...I don't want to hear it.
Many years ago, I attended Jesus '77, the evangelical convention organized by Jim Baker. Every speaker I heard was an ex-something. An ex-Satanist, ex-addict, ex-Catholic, ex-sex fiend, etc. They had all given their souls to Jeee-sus and were making big bucks off this 2000 year-old hustle. I found the fact that the convention was held in Orlando, home of Disneyworld, telling.
It was more entertaining than the circus and every bit as illuminating. If George Bush has a direct line to Jehovah, then the Big Guy has to be either a drug dealer or a giant blowfish.

I hate to clue ya, Dave, but you're gonna find it out sooner or later: in the words of Captain Beefheart, there ain't no Santa Claus on the evening stage.

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Jim
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 09:50 am:   

To answer Gordon's question, I never encountered anything overtly intolerant, though there was the arrogant, in that it was implied that we should feel sorry for the folks not getting into heaven because they weren't Catholic; this was from a very old nun teaching second grade (she was actually a very sweet old lady, but she was old school). By the time Junior High hit, they had lay teachers who were much more openminded.

But I do tend to side a bit more on the Lucius side of things, and was merely being polite out of years of habit, having made nice with my deluded Catholic family for the past twenty years--I love my family, and would prefer to continue to see them (and maybe try and save my nephews and nieces!), so I have to swallow my tongue a bit on Catholicism (the missus thinks I don't hold back enough). I'll never set foot in a Catholic church again, and pity the fools that don't realize the evil that has been done by their church and that continues to be done.

But it has done some good, Lucius. How do the scales balance? Well, I agree that the suffering weighs a lot heavier than the good. They're hypocrits who've caused untold suffering, but there have been a lot of people's lives bettered by the church. But the good deeds are turned to ash in the face of the evil it has wrought. Even the current teaching that birth control shouldn't be practiced, even by the extremely poor married couples in third world nations is unbeleivably repugnant on pure moral grounds--beyond the spread of disease, how many children have starved to death as a result of this teaching? And that is just the tip of the iceberg (to use a less colorful and cliched expression than Lucius).
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 10:10 am:   

The birth control policy is an abomination, especially in countries like India, where they tend not to value girl chidren. I will admit there has been some good done by the Church, but for every Bishop Romero there have been ten Cardinal Laws, for every instance of concern and caring, there have been innumerable instances of abuse and, worse, of indifference and ignoring. The main of the church is the main law of any bureaucracy, Save Your Own Ass.

I apologize for getting pissed off, but every time someone brings this up, I picture my boyish self down on my knees, tapping the little golden bell, or assisting the priest with communion, and I get worked up at what a chump I was--in retrospect, it was like being the janitor at Satan's School for Girls.
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AliceB
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 10:48 am:   

I don't know of any religion that's immune from the arrogance of "I know better. Everyone else is a poor fool deluded by some other creed." Institutional arrogance certainly isn't limited to the Catholic Church: whatever the religion, though the initial moral precepts/beliefs may be wonderful, there's always an institutional structure that's built around those precepts and beliefs. The institutions figure they must perpetuate themselves, people with ambition make their lives in it, and well... you get far away from the original moral precepts pretty quickly.

But even when institutions are small, every religion seems to start with the premise: "This is the truth." Well, if the truth is given, and can't be checked or discussed, then anyone who doesn't agree with this "truth" is wrong. Of course, not everyone who is religious thinks this way, but I think it's inherent in the way organized religions work.

Alice
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 12:38 pm:   

Alice---

I don't mean to get zen on you, but aren't there some religions that start with the premise: "We seek the truth" instead of saying "This is the truth"?
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JV
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 12:43 pm:   

I was going to say that although Jews in a congregation sing songs that include stuff about being the "chosen people" you don't see even orthodox Jews going out try to spread the good word. You don't see Buddhists doing it, either. Which is not to say that such religions haven't caused their share of grief to people (see: Palestinians, etc.), but that it seems as if some religions are harder to subvert to evil or hypocritical acts.

What scares me is that some of the more extreme Christians actually believe what they see around them illusion and Heaven is the real deal, and since you'll be forgiven if you just ask, it's easy to bring the jackboot down on somebody's neck in the name of your faith and still get to Heaven. Perhaps even because of it. And to hell with this world.

Some other religions say that this is our one life, there is nothing after (or nothing you should think about now), so make the most of it here on Earth.

JeffV



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Dave
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 01:25 pm:   

JV: the more extreme Christians actually believe what they see around them illusion and Heaven is the real deal, and since you'll be forgiven if you just ask, it's easy to bring the jackboot down on somebody's neck in the name of your faith and still get to Heaven. Perhaps even because of it. And to hell with this world.

This is also true of extreme Islam in the Middle East, extreme Judaism in the West Bank settlements, extreme atheism (Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao), even extreme Buddhists--the Sinhala in Sri Lanka.

By the way, I've never heard of a Christian who put the jackboot down on somebody's neck with the belief that they'd be forgiven if [they]just ask. Oppressors (of whaterver religious persuasion) always believe they are doing good... even the athiests like Stalin, believed that.
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Dave
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 01:32 pm:   

...and some Buddhists do prostletize. I recently had a lengthy conversation with a young Hari-Krishna believer who stopped me in a mall parking lot. He spoke very passionately about why I should join his religion.
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AliceB
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 01:33 pm:   

Jeff, don't get me started on Judaism. (I'm jewish, and no, I'm not a self-hating Jew.) Maybe Jews don't proselytize, but the various branches of Judaism are each just as arrogant as the other about how *they* understand what it means to be the chosen people. And many can be just as close-minded about the value of non-jews: my mother's family didn't sit shiva for her when she married my father (not a "real" Jew, even though Hitler thought otherwise), but they came damn close. People who are closed-minded exist everywhere, and once a hierarchical religious structure is in place, there's ample room for human pettiness to take over.

I don't know all religions. And perhaps, Gordon, you are right that there are religions that start with the premise "We seek the truth." But despite the fact that the Dalai Lama is a holy man (and I mean this in the best way), and, from the little I know of its precepts, tibetan buddhism it is a religion that aims for harmony, the history of Tibet isn't Shangri La--in part because of the heavy structure of the tibetan priesthoods.

I'd love to hear about a religion whose hierarchy hasn't led to abuses. And I mean that sincerely.

But I also agree with you Jeff that if a religion starts with the precept that we can make the here and now awful because we know it'll be better in the afterlife, then there's a huge problem. It's what fuels religious extremists of all stripes--jewish extremists, islamic jihadists, christian absolutists.

Damn. I'm ranting. Sorry.

Alice
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AliceB
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 01:40 pm:   

Uh, Dave, I believe Krishna is a Hindu god. Not Buddhist.
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Dave
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 01:45 pm:   

Alice, you are correct. I realized my mistake after I had posted.
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JV
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 01:54 pm:   

I think extreme Christianity and extreme Islam are the biggest threats to humanity today. Sorry. I'd take a world threatened by extreme Jews and Buddhists any day.

JeffV
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Dave
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 02:02 pm:   

...and while Buddhism generally discourages "proselytizing," that is not true of all sects of Buddhism. See "The Challenge of Bringing Nichiren Buddhism to America" which describes the "...evangelical imperative of Buddhism itself, and Nichiren Buddhism in particular."
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 02:22 pm:   

Jeff---

My experiences with Judaism showed me plenty of people who are arrogant and self-righteous in their faith, but the thing you've noticed is that there's no missionary tradition in Judaism. I've asked a few knowledgeable people about this and they've all said the same thing: missionaries aren't part of the plan. (The question came up after I'd read one too many stories about a Catholic missionary on another planet.)

I'm pretty sure Judaism doesn't offer an afterlife in Heaven or Hell to its members ("Ask a rabbi," I was told, "and he'll hem and haw on the subject." I tried once and that's exactly the response I got.)

Maybe someday the Scientologists shall inherit the Earth.


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JV
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 02:32 pm:   

Gordon:

I agree completely with your statement. And, to clarify, I didn't mean to suggest that there's no arrogance or self-righteousness in Judaism.

I mean, I'm not Jewish, but my wife is, and having grown up going to Methodist and Lutheran churches, which were harmless but not my thing, to then be exposed to Judaism through a conservative synagogue (not orthodox or reform), I have just been struck by how much *questioning* and how much hemming and hawing, as you say, goes on--it is the first time I've ever observed a situation in organized religion where it wasn't just a priest laying down the law to a congregation. So maybe I'm influenced by purely anecdotal evidence, but, still, that lack of a missionary impulse is very important. Growing up in Fiji, a place colonized by missionaries, and seeing in the histories the negative effects of righteousness in the South Pacific and elsewhere, by this need to inflict one's belief system on other peoples, it's revolting to me.

JeffV

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brendan
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 02:49 pm:   

I don't know. To me it seems like there is truth in all the religions, and jerks as well.

Unfortunately, the podiums for Christianity, Judaism and Islam, have been largely taken over by people with financial and politcal agendas.

To me it is amazing how little people often know about the religions they profess to practice.

Brendan
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T.Cruise
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 02:58 pm:   

"Maybe someday the Scientologists shall inherit the Earth."

Now you're talking, Gordie, you cutie.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 03:46 pm:   

Tom, are you finally owning up? Here? I've been so good all this time, haven't breathed a word to anyone, not even to John Travolta's boys, and now you're just laying everything out in open on the message board? You _are_ a special boy. Call me tonight and we can watch CAN'T STOP THE MUSIC again while getting our en-grams done.
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gary gibson
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 03:50 pm:   

I always got the impression religions were based on faith, and unquestioning faith at that: that if you just accepted Jesus into your heart, yadda yadda, all the rest would follow. My point being, _any_ religion is about the worshippers being by definition 'the chosen people'. If you're not the chosen, then why aren't you in the church next door, where they think they _are_ the chosen?

And if you _are_ the chosen, and you have faith, then you must by definition believe implicitly that everything written in your holy books is absolutely true, because God says so, and who are you to doubt the word of God?

I'm as unreligious as the next guy on this board (or so it appears to me), but it always seemed to me that anyone who's religious, and doesn't act according to the strictest rules of their faith, is failing their religion: that fundamentalism (and therefore that whole righteousness thing) is the only reasonable response to having religious faith. To have faith is to know you are one of the chosen, that you are therefore right, and your side will win out and dominate humanity. One day.

- Brendan - I agree there is truth in religions, but that truth exists outside of them: religions merely appropriate it.
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AliceB
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 04:49 pm:   

Gary, that's a bit reductionist. Jews call themselves the chosen people because, apparantly, God chose to give them the Torah--which is both the bible and a set of laws. Except these words weren't all that clear, so for next few millenia, Jews went about debating their meaning, hence the Talmud (a set of rabbinical laws) and the Madrish (a set of rabbinical interpretive tales). And even then, debate has continued, leading to different branches.

Christianity is worse. There were how many versions of the gospel? Twelve, thirteen? I don't remember. It took Constatine to reduce the number, and then years of Catholic consolidation to set definitive texts, and even then, the Pope got to add codicils and whatnots. Then, as the debates continued there were disputes of meaning leading to different branches of Catholicism, and eventually to the Protestant breaking-offs. Calvinists. Lutherans. Congregationalists. All have their own interpretations of the text.

And Islam is the same--although I'm not as fluent in the variants, and even though there is far less dispute about the text.

Language, being maleable, means faith can be too. And what is fundamental to one person won't be to another. People can be religious, not be "fundamentalists", and follow all of their beliefs in the tenets of their faith.

Alice
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al duncan
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 04:57 pm:   

"I'd love to hear about a religion whose hierarchy hasn't led to abuses."

I've always thought the Quakers were rather nice, what with them being anti-slavery when slavery was still the done thing. Pacifists too.

But now probably someone's just going to post up a litany of evil Quaker misdeeds and ruin my illusions. Ah well.
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AliceB
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 05:37 pm:   

Yeah. I like the Quakers, too. Very democratic group. But wasn't Richard Nixon a Quaker?
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Thomas R
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 09:30 pm:   

Judaism is largely a culture-specific religion. It's not a universalizing or evangelical religion. Zoroastrianism and the Amish are even more that way. The Zoroastrians outright forbid conversion and have for generations. The Amish, as I recall, have received no converts since about 1840. However the Amish are very clear they are right and everyone else wrong. Being non-evangelical isn't related.

Buddhism is however Evangelical and had missionaries before Christianity existed. It's in principle pacifistic so there's not to be any "conversion by conquest", but nevertheless there has been "conversion by conquest" in several Buddhist regimes. The Burmese would kidnap members of the Christian or Islamic Rohingya minority to raise them in Buddhism. The Japanese Empire placed Ainu in schools to inculcate them into the Japanese way, which included Buddhism. In fact Japan has the most intolerant sects of Buddhism ever divised. Nichi-ren taught that all who didn't follow his school of thought were the equivalent of damned. I believe Nichi-ren's movement is the ancestor of Soka-Gakkai one of the largest sects of Buddhism in Japan. Although in Japan only like 12% of the people are real observant of any religion. Hence Japan is a secularist paradise with little suicide, human sex-trade traffic, spousal abuse, alcoholism, or sexism. (Okay tremendous sarcasm alert, but in fairness my sister says it is mostly great)

As for Catholicism the assumption is that it's the correct or truest religion. If all religions are equally correct than there's no point in being in one rather than the other. Also religions are really not all the same and differ in some meanigful. If they were all equally true then what is "true" becomes contradictory and meaningless. As for the view of "heathen", you have to get a Catholic over 60 to find that word used for the most part, faiths different people have different views.

The current Pope said some mildly divisive things on Buddhism in Crossing the Threshhold of Hope, which I disapproved of, but he's since softened his line there.

The Catholic Church expresses her esteem for your religions and your high spiritual values(In Japan referring to Buddhism and Shinto)

His statements on Muslims were generally that we worship the same God, should be friends, etc. I had one priest friend who felt Muhammed was evil, but that's not an official dogma. Even in Dante's times he had Saladin in with the virtuous pagans of Limbo. They were seen as having all joy possible without God which is the view I see with older Catholics. The idea the un-Baptized are damned seems only possible if you make Heaven and Hell the only afterlife options. He was also fairly opposed to the Iraq war as leading to Christian/Muslim conflict.

Catholic archbishops led to the knowledge of Avicenna and Averroes entering Europe. Avicenna and Averroes themselves working on the reconciling of Greek knowledge with Islam. As well as expanding on them through the efforts of Scholastic thinkers and Catholic natural philosophers. Which led in a circuitous path to the Renaissance. Islamic hostility to images led them to a study of geometry that encouraged algebra among other things. The earliest Universities and astronomical observatories in the West were founded by Islam or Catholicism. Same with hospitals. The modern Western culture is largely a reaction toward or against those two forces. Hence they are naturally controversial. Religions that are small and isolationist, or just don't say much of anything meaningful, are less of a threat. Added to that having over a billion people and over 15 centuries of history means the capacity for big harm is more possible. Catholicism and Sunni Islam have both those qualities and the deficits therein. Wheras smaller newer extremist sect, like The Lord's Resistance Army will not engender the same feeling because it has no history and is a local menace.

To bring it back to the war it's not the conflicts that cause the most suffering that fire interest. It's the conflicts that involve a large nation that is seen as a global power. Compare the piddling interest in the Left or Right about Nepal or the Congo or Darfur to the mountain of posts about the Iraq war. Even though the Congo and Darfur certainly involved far more death or suffering than the Iraq war, as screwy as I agree it maybe, ever will. There's some linkage between Sudan and China, even with China oil, but China is more into enabling than intervening. The US is the big interventionist power and hence even if it had decided to invade the Maldives instead, with few deaths resulting, that would be a much bigger story than tens of thousands of unpronounceable Africans dying. Just like minor German Protestant churches uniting under the Reich to kill Jews is less interesting than Catholic churches refusing to return them to their parents after saving them. (Which was wrong don't get confused here) Because the Catholic Church is a global entity, the Evangelical Confession German Synod or whatever is a big "who cares."
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 10:22 pm:   

It's real sweet to know that old fartblossom, Pope John Paul and Ringo, urped up the homily that Christians and Muslims should be friends. That's profound, that is. Like his earlier pronouncement that war is bad. I can just hear the Vatican resounding with choruses of "Why Can't We Be Friends."

You have sort of a Cliff Notes view on history, and like the pope, you're a master at stating the obvious. Like it's gonna come as surprise to most that.. "it's not the conflicts that cause the most suffering that fire interest. It's the conflicts that involve a large nation that is seen as a global power..."

Gee, ya think?

And your statement that there is little interest in Nepal, the Congo, and Darfur among the Left and Right is nebulous at best. A large part of the reason there is the appearance of little interest is that these stories are under-reported.
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Thomas R
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 10:56 pm:   

Lucius, the obvious is sometimes the only thing to reach some people. It's also easily ignored. I think you mentioned that you are purposely repetitive. I'm obvious. Different strategies, c'est la vie.

As for history I'm not going to exactly put a research project's worth of effort on an online post. I mean why should I? I'd have nothing to gain and very much to lose in time better spent elsewhere. Still when I become a well respected historian I'll make a point to use articles by you as a source. After all the only interest in US history I have is marginalized sub-cultures and oddball cranks. Good luck at the Nebulas, adieu.
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Brendan
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 11:36 pm:   

Thomas - Actually, I think Japan has a pretty high suicide rate. I don't think it is a paradise in any sense of the word.

As far as Buddhists saying you will go to hell if you don't practice their religion, you are wrong. They simply say that you won't escape from the round of rebirths, which include the various hells. You can also be born as a god, or demi-god, animal or hungry ghost--and of course human--if you don't practice Buddhism.

Buddhism is of course a proseletizing religion.

Still, Christianity is and has been much more harsh to non-believers, both theologically, and in real-time.

That is why thousands of Jews were burned at the stake in Spain and why so many non-Catholics (Protestants etc.) were tortured in the most diabolical ways.
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Brendan
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 11:38 pm:   

I forgot to mention that Buddhists also believe that Buddhists can be reborn in hell, as a hungry ghost etc. due to their karma.
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 12:14 am:   

Umm the one statement I mentioned was sarcastic. Japan also has high rates of spousal abuse and involvement in human sex trade which were on that list. Although the most suicidal people I think are Lithuanians, Hungarians, Russians, Finns, and Estonians. Finno-Ugric and Slavic cultures, but that may not be relevant.

I was wrong on Nichiren also. (I wasn't meaning Buddhism in general believes in Hell for non-believers as Nichi-ren was the only Buddhist leader I'd read taught that) The sources I'd read said Nichi-ren believed in Hell for non-believers, but I misunderstood his conception of Hell.

Kind of getting off track anyway, but sorry for any other such errors. Good Night.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 11:09 am:   

Here's a clue, Thomas. Have a point. You can wield all the strategy in Sun Tzu and if you have no point...well, enough said. Your monontous prattlng sends rational thinkers scrambling for the amonia salts. Now take your passive-aggressive little ass back to the Asimov's board where you can preach your tedious messageless message to the sycophantic gruntlings there.
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 03:07 pm:   

Lucius:The birth control policy is an abomination, especially in countries like India

TR: Yes because India is so influenced by the Catholic Church. There are likely more Baptists in India then Catholics. They represent about 1.6% of the population. Even if each Catholic woman had eight kids they'd still be just a blip in their population figures. Plus the aborting or infanticide of girl-babies is an outright pre-Christian tradition in Indian history.

Once upon a time I was restrained because I felt like you were deserving of respect. Then I realized you say asenine statements like this and that your list on Latin America was taken verbatim from a college website. You're just an aging baby-boom radical living in a world that died before I was born. Even at that you are a minor example. Even within the SF world still so. You're know Terry Bisson or Kim Stanley Robinson. The base that takes your political opinions on anything seriously is probably smaller than Lyndon La Rouche's. In entertainment I imagine the people who made even a small film like Donnie Darko have never heard of you. If they did I doubt they'd see any advantage in mentioning your positive review from FSF anywhere. Why should they? In twenty years you'll be an elderly marginalized figure who's days of minor glory will be long past, only more so. Because it wasn't just Asimov's. Many writing sites I'd went to few had read you and almost none had ever even talked to you online. Because you have to hide off in places like this as they are the only places that would give you a modicum of respect.

So in 2025 I can look back and laugh at the has-been former drug-dealer who presumed to think he could judge me in any way shape or form. Adios, moron.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 03:28 pm:   

My god, Thomas! If only you meant it....Adios.

A college website? Uh, you're mad. Go away, you little chicken shit. You pollute the air in here. Judge you? I don't think about except when you come buzzing around like the gadfly you are.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 03:36 pm:   

And oh yeah, there you ago stating the obvioius again re India. Nevertheless, you ever hear of missionaries? Lots of Catholic mission and missionaries in India. And what may be a blip to you, a statistic in your dried-up little universe, are living, breathing people who are being abused by a policy so outmoded as to seem puritanical.
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 04:12 pm:   

By Mark Rosenfelder 1996, from Zompist.

1846
The U.S., fulfilling the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, goes to war with Mexico and ends up with a third of Mexico's territory.
1850, 1853, 1854, 1857
U.S. interventions in Nicaragua.
1855
Tennessee adventurer William Walker and his mercenaries take over Nicaragua, institute forced labor, and legalize slavery.
"Los yankis... have burst their way like a fertilizing torrent through the barriers of barbarism." --N.Y. Daily News
He's ousted two years later by a Central American coalition largely inspired by Cornelius Vanderbilt, whose trade Walker was infringing.
"The enemies of American civilization-- for such are the enemies of slavery-- seem to be more on the alert than its friends." --William Walker
1856
First of five U.S. interventions in Panama to protect the Atlantic-Pacific railroad from Panamanian nationalists.
1898
U.S. declares war on Spain, blaming it for destruction of the Maine. (In 1976, a U.S. Navy commission will conclude that the explosion was probably an accident.) The war enables the U.S. to occupy Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.
1903
The Platt Amendment inserted into the Cuban constitution grants the U.S. the right to intervene when it sees fit.
1903
When negotiations with Colombia break down, the U.S. sends ten warships to back a rebellion in Panama in order to acquire the land for the Panama Canal. The Frenchman Philippe Bunau-Varilla negotiates the Canal Treaty and writes Panama's constitution.
1904
U.S. sends customs agents to take over finances of the Dominican Republic to assure payment of its external debt.
1905
U.S. Marines help Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz crush a strike in Sonora.
1905
U.S. troops land in Honduras for the first of 5 times in next 20 years.
1906
Marines occupy Cuba for two years in order to prevent a civil war.
1907
Marines intervene in Honduras to settle a war with Nicaragua.
1908
U.S. troops intervene in Panama for first of 4 times in next decade.
1909
Liberal President José Santos Zelaya of Nicaragua proposes that American mining and banana companies pay taxes; he has also appropriated church lands and legalized divorce, done business with European firms, and executed two Americans for participating in a rebellion. Forced to resign through U.S. pressure. The new president, Adolfo Díaz, is the former treasurer of an American mining company.
1910
U.S. Marines occupy Nicaragua to help support the Díaz regime.
1911
The Liberal regime of Miguel Dávila in Honduras has irked the State Department by being too friendly with Zelaya and by getting into debt with Britain. He is overthrown by former president Manuel Bonilla, aided by American banana tycoon Sam Zemurray and American mercenary Lee Christmas, who becomes commander-in-chief of the Honduran army.
1912
U.S. Marines intervene in Cuba to put down a rebellion of sugar workers.
1912
Nicaragua occupied again by the U.S., to shore up the inept Díaz government. An election is called to resolve the crisis: there are 4000 eligible voters, and one candidate, Díaz. The U.S. maintains troops and advisors in the country until 1925.
1914
U.S. bombs and then occupies Vera Cruz, in a conflict arising out of a dispute with Mexico's new government. President Victoriano Huerta resigns.
1915
U.S. Marines occupy Haiti to restore order, and establish a protectorate which lasts till 1934. The president of Haiti is barred from the U.S. Officers' Club in Port-au-Prince, because he is black.
"Think of it-- niggers speaking French!" --secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, briefed on the Haitian situation
1916
Marines occupy the Dominican Republic, staying till 1924.
! 1916
Pancho Villa, in the sole act of Latin American aggression against the U.S, raids the city of Columbus, New Mexico, killing 17 Americans.
"Am sure Villa's attacks are made in Germany." --James Gerard, U.S. ambassador to Berlin
1917
U.S. troops enter Mexico to pursue Pancho Villa. They can't catch him.
1917
Marines intervene again in Cuba, to guarantee sugar exports during WWI.
1918
U.S. Marines occupy Panamanian province of Chiriqui for two years to maintain public order.
1921
President Coolidge strongly suggests the overthrow of Guatemalan President Carlos Herrera, in the interests of United Fruit. The Guatemalans comply.
1925
U.S. Army troops occupy Panama City to break a rent strike and keep order.
1926
Marines, out of Nicaragua for less than a year, occupy the country again, to settle a volatile political situation. Secretary of State Kellogg describes a "Nicaraguan-Mexican-Soviet" conspiracy to inspire a "Mexican-Bolshevist hegemony" within striking distance of the Canal.
"That intervention is not now, never was, and never will be a set policy of the United States is one of the most important facts President-elect Hoover has made clear." --NYT, 1928
1929
U.S. establishes a military academy in Nicaragua to train a National Guard as the country's army. Similar forces are trained in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
"There is no room for any outside influence other than ours in this region. We could not tolerate such a thing without incurring grave risks... Until now Central America has always understood that governments which we recognize and support stay in power, while those which we do not recognize and support fall. Nicaragua has become a test case. It is difficult to see how we can afford to be defeated." --Undersecretary of State Robert Olds
1930
Rafael Leonidas Trujillo emerges from the U.S.-trained National Guard to become dictator of the Dominican Republic.
1932
The U.S. rushes warships to El Salvador in response to a communist-led uprising. President Martínez, however, prefers to put down the rebellion with his own forces, killing over 8000 people (the rebels had killed about 100).
! 1933
President Roosevelt announces the Good Neighbor policy.
1933
Marines finally leave Nicaragua, unable to suppress the guerrilla warfare of General Augusto César Sandino. Anastasio Somoza García becomes the first Nicaraguan commander of the National Guard.
"The Nicaraguans are better fighters than the Haitians, being of Indian blood, and as warriors similar to the aborigines who resisted the advance of civilization in this country." --NYT correspondent Harold Denny
1933
Roosevelt sends warships to Cuba to intimidate Gerardo Machado y Morales, who is massacring the people to put down nationwide strikes and riots. Machado resigns. The first provisional government lasts only 17 days; the second Roosevelt finds too left-wing and refuses to recognize. A pro-Machado counter-coup is put down by Fulgencio Batista, who with Roosevelt's blessing becomes Cuba's new strongman.
! 1934
Platt Amendment repealed.
1934
Sandino assassinated by agents of Somoza, with U.S. approval. Somoza assumes the presidency of Nicaragua two years later. To block his ascent, Secretary of State Cordell Hull explains, would be to intervene in the internal affairs of Nicaragua.
! 1936
U.S. relinquishes rights to unilateral intervention in Panama.
1941
Ricardo Adolfo de la Guardia deposes Panamanian president Arias in a military coup-- first clearing it with the U.S. Ambassador.
It was "a great relief to us, because Arias had been very troublesome and very pro-Nazi." --Secretary of War Henry Stimson
1943
The editor of the Honduran opposition paper El Cronista is summoned to the U.S. embassy and told that criticism of the dictator Tiburcio Carías Andino is damaging to the war effort. Shortly afterward, the paper is shut down by the government.
1944
The dictator Maximiliano Hernández Martínez of El Salvador is ousted by a revolution; the interim government is overthrown five months later by the dictator's former chief of police. The U.S.'s immediate recognition of the new dictator does much to tarnish Roosevelt's Good Neighbor policy in the eyes of Latin Americans.
1946
U.S. Army School of the Americas opens in Panama as a hemisphere-wide military academy. Its linchpin is the doctrine of National Security, by which the chief threat to a nation is internal subversion; this will be the guiding principle behind dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Central America, and elsewhere.
1948
José Figueres Ferrer wins a short civil war to become President of Costa Rica. Figueres is supported by the U.S., which has informed San José that its forces in the Panama Canal are ready to come to the capital to end "communist control" of Costa Rica.
1954
Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, elected president of Guatemala, introduces land reform and seizes some idle lands of United Fruit-- proposing to pay for them the value United Fruit claimed on its tax returns. The CIA organizes a small force to overthrow him and begins training it in Honduras. When Arbenz naively asks for U.S. military help to meet this threat, he is refused; when he buys arms from Czechoslovakia it only proves he's a Red.
Guatemala is "openly and diligently toiling to create a Communist state in Central America... only two hours' bombing time from the Panama Canal." --Life
The CIA broadcasts reports detailing the imaginary advance of the "rebel army," and provides planes to strafe the capital. The army refuses to defend Arbenz, who resigns. The U.S.'s hand-picked dictator, Carlos Castillo Armas, outlaws political parties, reduces the franchise, and establishes the death penalty for strikers, as well as undoing Arbenz's land reform. Over 100,000 citizens are killed in the next 30 years of military rule.
"This is the first instance in history where a Communist government has been replaced by a free one." --Richard Nixon
1957
Eisenhower establishes Office of Public Safety to train Latin American police forces.
! 1959
Fidel Castro takes power in Cuba. Several months earlier he had undertaken a triumphal tour through the U.S., which included a CIA briefing on the Red menace.
"Castro's continued tawdry little melodrama of invasion." --Time, of Castro's warnings of an imminent U.S. invasion
1960
Eisenhower authorizes covert actions to get rid of Castro. Among other things, the CIA tries assassinating him with exploding cigars and poisoned milkshakes. Other covert actions against Cuba include burning sugar fields, blowing up boats in Cuban harbors, and sabotaging industrial equipment.
1960
The Canal Zone becomes the focus of U.S. counterinsurgency training.
1960
A new junta in El Salvador promises free elections; Eisenhower, fearing leftist tendencies, withholds recognition. A more attractive right-wing counter-coup comes along in three months.
"Governments of the civil-military type of El Salvador are the most effective in containing communist penetration in Latin America." --John F. Kennedy, after the coup
1960
Guatemalan officers attempt to overthrow the regime of Presidente Fuentes; Eisenhower stations warships and 2000 Marines offshore while Fuentes puts down the revolt. [Another source says that the U.S. provided air support for Fuentes.]
1960s
U.S. Green Berets train Guatemalan army in counterinsurgency techniques. Guatemalan efforts against its insurgents include aerial bombing, scorched-earth assaults on towns suspected of aiding the rebels, and death squads, which killed 20,000 people between 1966 and 1976. U.S. Army Col. John Webber claims that it was at his instigation that "the technique of counter-terror had been implemented by the army."
"If it is necessary to turn the country into a cemetary in order to pacify it, I will not hesitate to do so." --President Carlos Arana Osorio
1961
U.S. organizes force of 1400 anti-Castro Cubans, ships it to the Bahía de los Cochinos. Castro's army routs it.
1961
CIA-backed coup overthrows elected Pres. J. M. Velasco Ibarra of Ecuador, who has been too friendly with Cuba.
1962
CIA engages in campaign in Brazil to keep João Goulart from achieving control of Congress.
1963
CIA-backed coup overthrows elected social democrat Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic.
1963
A far-right-wing coup in Guatemala, apparently U.S.-supported, forestalls elections in which "extreme leftist" Juan José Arévalo was favored to win.
"It is difficult to develop stable and democratic government [in Guatemala], because so many of the nation's Indians are illiterate and superstitious." --School textbook, 1964
1964
João Goulart of Brazil proposes agrarian reform, nationalization of oil. Ousted by U.S.-supported military coup.
! 1964
The free market in Nicaragua:
The Somoza family controls "about one-tenth of the cultivable land in Nicaragua, and just about everything else worth owning, the country's only airline, one television station, a newspaper, a cement plant, textile mill, several sugar refineries, half-a-dozen breweries and distilleries, and a Mercedes-Benz agency." --Life World Library
1965
A coup in the Dominican Republic attempts to restore Bosch's government. The U.S. invades and occupies the country to stop this "Communist rebellion," with the help of the dictators of Brazil, Paraguay, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
"Representative democracy cannot work in a country such as the Dominican Republic," Bosch declares later. Now why would he say that?
1966
U.S. sends arms, advisors, and Green Berets to Guatemala to implement a counterinsurgency campaign.
"To eliminate a few hundred guerrillas, the government killed perhaps 10,000 Guatemalan peasants." --State Dept. report on the program
1967
A team of Green Berets is sent to Bolivia to help find and assassinate Che Guevara.
1968
Gen. José Alberto Medrano, who is on the payroll of the CIA, organizes the ORDEN paramilitary force, considered the precursor of El Salvador's death squads.
! 1970
In this year (just as an example), U.S. investments in Latin America earn $1.3 billion; while new investments total $302 million.
1970
Salvador Allende Gossens elected in Chile. Suspends foreign loans, nationalizes foreign companies. For the phone system, pays ITT the company's minimized valuation for tax purposes. The CIA provides covert financial support for Allende's opponents, both during and after his election.
1972
U.S. stands by as military suspends an election in El Salvador in which centrist José Napoleón Duarte was favored to win. (Compare with the emphasis placed on the 1982 elections.)
1973
U.S.-supported military coup kills Allende and brings Augusto Pinochet Ugarte to power. Pinochet imprisons well over a hundred thousand Chileans (torture and rape are the usual methods of interrogation), terminates civil liberties, abolishes unions, extends the work week to 48 hours, and reverses Allende's land reforms.
1973
Military takes power in Uruguay, supported by U.S. The subsequent repression reportedly features the world's highest percentage of the population imprisoned for political reasons.
1974
Office of Public Safety is abolished when it is revealed that police are being taught torture techniques.
! 1976
Election of Jimmy Carter leads to a new emphasis on human rights in Central America. Carter cuts off aid to the Guatemalan military (or tries to; some slips through) and reduces aid to El Salvador.
! 1979
Ratification of the Panama Canal treaty which is to return the Canal to Panama by 1999.
"Once again, Uncle Sam put his tail between his legs and crept away rather than face trouble." --Ronald Reagan
1980
A right-wing junta takes over in El Salvador. U.S. begins massively supporting El Salvador, assisting the military in its fight against FMLN guerrillas. Death squads proliferate; Archbishop Romero is assassinated by right-wing terrorists; 35,000 civilians are killed in 1978-81. The rape and murder of four U.S. churchwomen results in the suspension of U.S. military aid for one month.
The U.S. demands that the junta undertake land reform. Within 3 years, however, the reform program is halted by the oligarchy.
"The Soviet Union underlies all the unrest that is going on." --Ronald Reagan
1980
U.S., seeking a stable base for its actions in El Salvador and Nicaragua, tells the Honduran military to clean up its act and hold elections. The U.S. starts pouring in $100 million of aid a year and basing the contras on Honduran territory.
Death squads are also active in Honduras, and the contras tend to act as a state within a state.
1981
The CIA steps in to organize the contras in Nicaragua, who started the previous year as a group of 60 ex-National Guardsmen; by 1985 there are about 12,000 of them. 46 of the 48 top military leaders are ex-Guardsmen. The U.S. also sets up an economic embargo of Nicaragua and pressures the IMF and the World Bank to limit or halt loans to Nicaragua.
1981
Gen. Torrijos of Panama is killed in a plane crash. There is a suspicion of CIA involvement, due to Torrijos' nationalism and friendly relations with Cuba.
1982
A coup brings Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt to power in Guatemala, and gives the Reagan administration the opportunity to increase military aid. Ríos Montt's evangelical beliefs do not prevent him from accelerating the counterinsurgency campaign.
1983
Another coup in Guatemala replaces Ríos Montt. The new President, Oscar Mejía Víctores, was trained by the U.S. and seems to have cleared his coup beforehand with U.S. authorities.
1983
U.S. troops take over tiny Granada. Rather oddly, it intervenes shortly after a coup has overthrown the previous, socialist leader. One of the justifications for the action is the building of a new airport with Cuban help, which Granada claimed was for tourism and Reagan argued was for Soviet use. Later the U.S. announces plans to finish the airport... to develop tourism.
1983
Boland Amendment prohibits CIA and Defense Dept. from spending money to overthrow the government of Nicaragua-- a law the Reagan administration cheerfully violates.
1984
CIA mines three Nicaraguan harbors. Nicaragua takes this action to the World Court, which brings an $18 billion judgment against the U.S. The U.S. refuses to recognize the Court's jurisdiction in the case.
1984
U.S. spends $10 million to orchestrate elections in El Salvador-- something of a farce, since left-wing parties are under heavy repression, and the military has already declared that it will not answer to the elected president.
1989
U.S. invades Panama to dislodge CIA boy gone wrong Manuel Noriega, an event which marks the evolution of the U.S.'s favorite excuse from Communism to drugs.
1996
The U.S. battles global Communism by extending most-favored-nation trading status for China, and tightening the trade embargo on Castro's Cuba.

Note: Sound familiar?


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a friend
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 04:29 pm:   

Lucius--Please...shave off that beard. It's not clever. There's always crumbs and stuff in it, y'know? We can't see your whole face.
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 04:30 pm:   

On second thought maybe you sent him that in 1996 and then he printed it. So you don't have to mention it as you were the original source. True your name is mentioned nowhere on it, as far as I can tell, but perhaps that's because you're so modest. I guess it's possible.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 04:38 pm:   

I knew Adios was too good to be true.

Sure, I plucked that history of the web. It certainly doesn't embody any of my assinine opinions, it's dead fact and served to illustrate a point. Tell you what Thomas. Why don't you wait till my non-fiction book on central america comes out next year. You'll be in a better position to judge my competency and experience.

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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 04:41 pm:   

Friend? You wouldn't ask me to shave if you saw my face. :-) I haven't had the beard off since I was twenty and I'd be afraid to see what's beneath myself.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 04:43 pm:   

Another thing, you reference things on the web all the time. What...only junior historians are entitled?
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 04:50 pm:   

I don't neglect to mention what I'm referencing. I site sources or even give the link. I also am able to do a bit of interpretation and analysis. José Santos Zelaya was trying to create a Central American regime that he would lead. President Arias, that the US so horribly overthrew, did create a constitution bent on expelling Jews and non-Hispanics. US backed José Figueres Ferrer helped lead Costa Rica to have the highest standard of living in Central America. Source? The UNDP

There's a difference between using information from a source and regurgitating without alteration or attribution. I think if you were any kind of historian you'd know that.
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 04:58 pm:   

I meant the UNDP was the source on Costa Rican development. On Jose Santos Zelaya there is Bartleby.com among others. On Figuerres there is Science Daily among others. Panamanian President Arias, University of California San Diego article by Karen Lindvall Larson
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 05:06 pm:   

Well, I;m not a historian, Thomas. I;m a busy man. The important thing seemed to me to get the thing out to illustrate my point. I certainly have no problem with you citing it.

Arias, despite his serious flaws, was superior to the administration that took his place.

Zelaya abolished the Costa Rican army, setting up a US enclave. The highest standard of living in CA is not that high and the dirt poor far outnumber the wealthy. Take a trip, Thomas. Visit Costa Rica. See the thirteen year old hooker, smell the raw sewage in Limon. Once you do that, you can tell me all about the standard of living.


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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 05:09 pm:   

I mean Ferrer, not Zelaya.
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 05:47 pm:   

I wasn't claiming it was that high. Certainly above Venezuela, Cuba, Uruguay, and other current Left "success stories" in Latin America.

As for their being thirteen year old hookers there, what is that even supposed to mean? There is underage prostitution in the Netherlands, Canada, and likely even Norway. In the first two cases I know very much of examples. If you're actually basing opinions on the fact you can find individual sob stories in Costa Rica or India caused by the US or Catholicism you're just beyond the pale.

Also I don't have the money or connections to go to Costa Rica. I asked about an offer to teach in Paraguay, which is much worse off, but couldn't go. People actually care about me and don't want me to go to countries where someone like me would certainly die due to inadequadecate healthcare. Costa Rica I might could manage and I've wanted to go there for years. There's just no group here going and I can't afford it. (My University has a linkage to the Universidad De Ascuncion so Paraguay would've been easier)
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 06:22 pm:   

To forestall any wiseguy statements I know of examples because American Indian rights is of interest to me. I've been to reservations, given to college funds, etc. So stories of underaged prostitution among First Nations people in Canada has been related to me. On the Netherlands there has been news at times of human trade from the Third World to Dutch brothels, including underaged girls in some cases. It's not to be unsympathetic to those who suffer in Costa Rica, it's just a realization this is a problem in many nations. Including those deemed modern and progressive. So it doesn't negate the positives of Canada, The Netherlands, Costa Rica, etc.

Tomorrow I'm going on a trip so I have to prepare for that. Hopefully I'll avoid the need to rebut any irrational or absurd claims from Shepard et al.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 06:24 pm:   

No, I'm not talking about "Individual sob stories:" I:m talking about endemic poverty. You're so fucking literal minded, everything has to be spelled out. Your use of the term "individual sob stories" to reference human misery reflects a typical academic's condescension toward the real world. You inhabit a world of statistics and printed truth, and you know nothing of third world that you can smell and feel and taste. It's unfortunate you can't visit these places, but I'm not going to let your handicap limit my argument. I'm basing my argument on thirty years of first-hand experience in Central America, in Salvador, in Guatemala, in Honduras, in Nicaragua, in Panama. On seeing things that you doubtless would consider sob stories, on reporting, on interviews I've done with leftists and rightists of every stamp, on observations of war, natural disasters, and the ordinary disaster of daily life in those parts. I can't expect you to see that as being as important as trickle-down (I once had a US-bound economist explain to me that everything was hunky dory in Sao Paolo because the use of transistor radios was up 7 percent) stats and GNPs and all the blah blah that people like you rely on for their picture of the truth. Now I may be no Stan Robinson, whatever that means, but I'm damn sure Terry Bisson knows what I'm talking about.

Fuck it! What's the point? You're so wrapped in complacency, you're so content with your righteousness, a little light is never going to break over your brain.


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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 11:53 pm:   

Lucius is right. I lived in Costa Rica for a while. It is true that there are some rich people, but most of these are high ranking government officials and German tourists. There is lots of child prostitution and in San Jose many areas that are very poor.

Most westerners when they visit Costa Rica just don't see this stuff, because they visit resorts and confine themselves to expensive hotels.

In any case, it is the capitol of child prostitution for Central America.

But Thomas - going to Central or South America is not expensive. After the plane ticket, the rest is cheap.
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Thomas R
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 02:23 am:   

I'll see if I can arrange it sometime. I really would like to go to Costa Rica someday and have wanted that for years. I'm not sure how I feel on what you or Lucius say on it. You're just two people online to me, compared to the people I've known who lived down there and say different. Including people who work with the poor, but they tend to go to neighboring nations as Costa Rica isn't seen as needy enough. In least not for what they're doing. When it comes to stats I mean like child death rate, infant mortality, probability of living to see 60, etc. Certainly not radios, I don't know how many times I'll hear that dumb story. Still and all I had heard that broken families are common there, there's drug problems, and the rape laws are archaic. Hopefully I will see it for myself someday. But I can't see every poor or allegedly poor country on Earth, so I'm not sure what that's all about.

I really only came back because I was reading on the Quakers for this trip I'm going on. The main negative I was reminded of is that the early Quakers were very harsh on marrying outside the faith and on any sexual indiscretion. Dolly Madison was kicked out of the Quakers for marrying outside the faith. Kind of hard to imagine now, but the early Quakers were violently hostile to homosexuals. Or as violent as pacifists can be. I think they favored branding the letter "S" into their flesh and other ideals that were struck down as too severe by the British Empire. However they tend to split up in factions because of the emphasis on concensus. Hence some of those factions are very liberal. Many Quaker factions now are the most liberal in Christianity on homosexuals. Although the pacifism means, I think, that it's general Quaker policy to disapprove of both sides in WWII as well as any other war.

Despite trying to sound friendlier I imagine many of you don't like me still and there are some here I more or less hate. Unlike last time I did try to needle Lucius. Last time I wasn't because I assumed that was impossible. This time I did so very much got what I deserved. It's getting too late to go on, good night.
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 06:18 am:   

Thomas - Hate? Come now, that is not a very Christian feeling! Personally, my guess is that if Lucius is taking the time to respond to you with messages, he does not hate you at all. Maybe his posts are rough, but there is obviously something about the discourse that you find rewarding, otherwise you would not return for more.

As far as the poverty in Costa Rica as apposed to other countries: I really don't know. It all depends on where you are in the counries, and what your experiences are. I have seen a lot of places in my life where the people were quite poor. I usually don't compare one to the next. The fact is that most people in the world, outside of Europe, Japan, Australia and the US, are poor. Very poor. So you can pretty much go anywhere and see it. Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, India - take your pick.
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 06:25 am:   

Just for the record: I lived in Costa Rica 15 years ago. So maybe it has changed. Back then though it also had a repuation as having a higher standard of living then other parts of South America - but in certain areas of the capitol, in the countryside, and, as Lucius pointed out, in Limon, the standard of living was not terribly high. I suspect things have not changed dramatically. I know the child prostitution thing has happened since then. A distant relative of mine was (is?), unfortunately and shamefully, very high up in the ring in San Jose.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 08:14 am:   

Both Honduras and Costa Rica have become regular stops on the sex tourism trade in the last fifteen years. The country is propped up by the US and has, as a result, served as a launching pad for the contra war, for other of our forays. They're our doormat in CA. The higher standard of living means, essentially, that the rich are richer. There is virtually no middle class.

Thomas....I stand by my last post. You're an academc, which is another term for blind and deaf, but not, unfortunately, mute.
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wandcoker
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 09:35 am:   

I greatly enjoy the annual Lucius/ThomasR lovefests.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 09:51 am:   

We aim to please.
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StephenB
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 01:47 pm:   

Thomas....I stand by my last post. You're an academc, which is another term for blind and deaf, but not, unfortunately, mute.

Is it fair to generalize all "academics" (whatever that means) as blind and deaf? What, is education the new opiate of the masses? I'd say T.V. is the new opiate of the masses, if anything, not that religion isn't also one. But I don't think becomming less ignorant and more educated is going to cause the same result as say following a dogmatic and authoritarian church, or being bombarded and brainwashed by all those images on T.V.

I guess it really depends on the person, but I think learning about all sorts of things in an academic environment is only going to open most peoples minds, and broaden their knowledge. Of course, you should always maintain independent thinking skills.

I think statistics are often misleading or meaningless, and that's why I don't hold much weight to them in an argument. Although, in some instances, they can be revealing of the truth, I guess. Just look at the casualties on the Iraq side and the American side, in both the desert storm wars. Very informative.

I don't know, I'd say most academics have their eyes further open than the guy who goes to church every sunday, and watches T.V. every night after work, with no ambition to learn about the world outside his little sphere.

But you're probably right about some academics. I'm sure their is alot of bullshit propaganda in American schools, just like there would be at Catholic schools.



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StephenB
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 02:27 pm:   

Oh, and I should add, if you were championing academics, I'd probably argue for the other side of life experience and learning, which can be more valuable. So I can appreciate the value on both sides.
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StephenB
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 02:48 pm:   

And I think we could improve our education systems in so many ways. I think Lucius is right, complacency is a shitty position to take in our little world called earth.

If we really want to provide an equal-opportunity and well rounded education then we're going about it all wrong. Right now, education -- especially in America -- is based on the capitalist notion that education is a service bought, and the more money you have, the higher quality education you recieve. Bullshit.

Why not send students to places like Costa Rica as part of their degree?

Why not allow students to inform themselves?
Here's your assignment, take these mushrooms, go into nature, enjoy, think, question, and we'll talk after. Next we'll teach you a little bit about where you come from in recent history, you'll probably not like it, but at least we can learn from our past, and not make the same mistakes. Next let's take a look at this mysterious place we call the universe, with this telescope. Then I want you to read this novel and tell me what you think. ect.

We should obviously allow people to persue their own passions and talents. And I think especially in early education we should emphasize less competition and grading, and more about actually learning knowledge and developing skills, including independent thinking, open mindedness, and tolerance and respect for each other. Okay, now this is getting cheesy. But I'm serious. I think all of our social institutions can be revolutionized for the better.
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Sam. Johnson LLD
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 02:57 pm:   

"Mark my words. We will have a "July 11th, 2004" terrorist attack that will propel bush into a second term. It is in the Bush regimes best interest to have a terrorist attack in the middle of the 2004 election"

Jeremy "fortune-teller" Lassen March 27, 2003.

Doh! Wasn't it roughly around then that rogue-state Libya capitulated to the USA post-Iraq?????
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Jeremi Lessen
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 03:02 pm:   

oh you troll!!! *fails to answer and runs off*
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Sam. Johnson LLD
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 03:18 pm:   

"The ipso facto liberation of the Iraqi people will not take place. Saddam Hussein would never have gone so far nor done so much without the tacit permission of the powers that be. Post-Saddam Iraq will still be undemocratic, there will still be torture, illegal incarceration, executions, etc., all in the name of security (vs. nationalist sabotage, Islamist groups, ethnic tensions, etc). Without absolving Hussein in the slightest for his crimes, the US bears responsibility for creating the circumstances that made them possible, and the change brought about by the removal of Saddam will be a matter of degree, I believe, rather than of quality. I think the Iraqi people deserve better than that, because I think all human beings deserve better than that. This administration, and the US government in general, has shown itself to be largely inept at delivering democracy here in America; I have absolutely no confidence in their ability to bring it to another country. I do however have absolute confidence in their ability to fashion a dazzling illusion of success in Iraq."

Michael "The Nostradamus of Marxism" Cisco circa April 23, 2003. (Not at the polling stations in 2005 explaining to the 'deluded' Iraqis that voting was a waste of time)
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 11:52 pm:   

The point is not whether the vote is a waste time, but that the country is essentially in a state of civil war. Now, in my book, that is not a success story.

But I guess words like Liberty, Freedom, and Democracy can whitewash any amount of blood in the eyes of the thin-minded.
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someone
Posted on Saturday, February 19, 2005 - 02:18 pm:   

Yep, Brendan for you and your kind (unlike the Iraqis) "words like Liberty, Freedom, and Democracy" are just concepts to be bandied around for the sake of argument. You sad complacent f**k.
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someone Else
Posted on Saturday, February 19, 2005 - 02:44 pm:   

I'm so glad you put asterixes in your fuck. So I guess if I call you an a**hole, that means we can be friends?
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someone
Posted on Saturday, February 19, 2005 - 03:16 pm:   

Sure, you condescending d**k. Or maybe not.
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Thomas R
Posted on Saturday, February 19, 2005 - 07:51 pm:   

Brendan:Hate? Come now, that is not a very Christian feeling!

TR: I'm not the best Christian in the world. I'm sorry if I implied otherwise. Although whether it's Christian or not I think hating someone or something, in least for awhile, is just unavoidable.

To me Shepard bases things almost totally on personal experiences and emotional appeals that I really can't say much about. As much as I dislike/hate the man, I certainly can respect his experience. However ultimately you do need something more than that, or in least so it seems to me. Many people suffered horribly from some system or other to become Fascists or Stalinists. Having suffered from something doesn't automatically make it's reverse good. Nor does it automatically make you correct and beyond reproach.

Because I see little else he ever does use. Anonymous stories of nameless people, personal experiences which really couldn't be the same even if I was on a trip with him, etc. What facts he ever uses are often poached, without attribution, from other sources. Any disagreements on them are dismissed as "I'm not a historian, I'm busy." People who've worked years on subjects are merely "deaf and blind." Despite the fact the majority of academia would likely side with him more than I. Added to this events from before either of our births seem like it has to be about history. Unless he experienced 1930s Panama via time-travel, I don't see how the appeal to personal experience is nearly as valid.

It's certainly plausible I am not as aware of things as I should be. I sign Amnesty International petitions on occasion, buy books through sites whose comissions go to Burmese refugees, write my Senator on Asian human rights issues, try to get interest online in such issues since 2001, and do try to know as many people from such nations as I can. Example on that Jeremy Lassen's statement from last year about the US becoming "like Brazil" strikes me as more ridiculous than even then. I have not yet been to Brazil, but from what Brazilians I have known(In life not online, and I can get e-mail addresses to confirm that if they consent) it genuinely has no middle class. Parts of major cities are walled off almost like prisons. Activists for the poor are gunned down as recent example indicates. And they even elected a moderate Leftist.

Still I don't do nearly enough of course. Day-to-day living and family responsibilities keep me from doing as much as I'd like. I do have a very different view of things from Shepard too of course. Whose beliefs on things I've come to think are actively harmful, even unintentionally malign, to many areas. Even if there is some truth on Latin American issues, which I don't concede, there is a whole world beyond us and this hemisphere. Third world regimes claiming Socialism or Leftism have almost universally been disastrous failed states. To name just a few the Socialist/Leftist revolution of Jafari Nimeiri in Sudan, Ne Win's in Burma, Kim Il Sung of North Korea, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the Khmer Rouge, Enver Hoxha, Mao, Menghitsu of Ethiopia, etc. However he focuses on one kind of horror due to ideological and emotional need. On my side I certainly do not think the Left always fails or that even most such nations were Soviet puppets. Many of the most liveable nations are Social Democracies, but I'm not sure any of them would satisfy him. Because I have no idea even now what he'd want. Hugo Chavez writ large over all of Latin America? Even if that could work, and I doubt that, what about the rest of the world? Specifically Africa where claims of Marxist or Socialist renewal have often, though not always, led to famine and bloodshed. Further they are often victims of other nations. Wherein per capita the British and the French are the largest arms dealers to the developping world. That's just a dry meaningless statistic to be sure, but I think the last decade should have shown it's not so dry or meaningless.

Is it all just meaningless stats to you? On the right what of the pogroms of Nicholas II or Rhodes? No one you met likely ever saw them, so they are now just academic history. As would slavery in the 17th century Caribbean. They are no more real then than the countless other atrocities around time/space without a "Made in the USA" label. Would you ever consider a book on such things? Ever think of the nighmares of your, and for that matter Latin America's, European ancestors now dead?

You are also redundant, bitterly intolerant, and tiresome. You're the twenty first centuries HG Wells at the best of times. That's why I feel about you as I do, and why I doubt that will change.

Nevertheless I have been harsh to you this time so do deserve what I get. It maybe a mistake, but I decided with you you only deserve no less than you'd give. However I'm admittely less pithy at it than you.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, February 19, 2005 - 09:30 pm:   

My god! Do you believe this asshole?

You speak condescendingly about "sob stories" then you play the cripple card -- and you accuse me of making emotional appeals?

I don't disrespect all academics, but I do disrespect those who think they know it all because they can quote a few stats or reference a few websites...attributing credit, of course -- How you sieze on one little mistep. Tsk Tsk. You have a small mind. You call me tedious, but I'm not the one droning on and on, then apologizing, and saying over and over I won't speak again, I'll just crawl back into my hole now. I think academics are important, but they need to be tempered with experience. You don't seem to understand that while I don't know people who lived in the 17th century, visiting a country is the best way to get touch with its history, to get a feel for the culture and its determinants, and I've interviewed people who fought in Honduras with Manuel Bonilla at the beginning of the 20th Century, who were adults in the late 19th century, and this gives me a purer connection with the history of the region than you will ever have. I know people who, for example, lived in 1930s Panama.

What papers have you published, Thomas? Surely one or two. I'd be delighted to have at them with my logic and my scrap or two of academic knowledge, though I doubt they'd be of a quality to withstand sharp scrutiny. But let's see them, let's see your work. Maybe we'll all be impressed.

Citing these failures of leftist states in other parts of the world....I don't know where that comes from. What I am for is the cessation of US interventionism in Latin America. Period. Central America has not thrived under colonialism -- it's rare that a growing nation does. But leftist, rightist, centrist...I don't care what you are as long as you do no evil to the places I care about. And evil is being done to CA in the name of United States.

Hate you? I don't suffer fools gladly, especially passive aggressive fools who prattle on about subjects of which they know next to nothing. But I don't hate/dislike you. You're not that important.
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Brendan
Posted on Saturday, February 19, 2005 - 11:30 pm:   

someone - the intelligence of your post speaks for itself, no need to respond.

Thomas - Maybe you are not the best Christian, but as a human being it is dangerous to harbour hate - especially over someone on a message board. I think if you feel that strongly, you shouldn't engage in debate.
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Thomas R
Posted on Saturday, February 19, 2005 - 11:39 pm:   

No I'm not important. I know it. You're not either, I think you'll die never knowing it. You accused me of going only where people are syncophantic to me. Than why do I ever come here? None of you are remotely like that. It's not just here either. I go to many places, including in real life, where people radically disagree with me. You once said "you aren't as popular as you think." Well I presumed I was mostly despised here. Added to that you couldn't be remotely as respected or popular as you believe. I'm not sure you are even as popular as I assumed. And I'm meaning with solidly Left writers who wouldn't be caught dead at Asimov's.

In any event this has been derailed. Perhaps it can go back to being about the war which seems to be worsening again. No surprise there. With even solidly Bush voting people I know from here agreeing it's mismanaged at best.
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Thomas R
Posted on Saturday, February 19, 2005 - 11:43 pm:   

And you're right Brendan. I am overreacting. I'm not sure how to say any of this without sounding like whatever label you've put on me, but you're right. I think feeling that will go away in time, but I should try to restrain myself. If the moderator wishes to delete all my posts after the 15th that's fine by me.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 12:16 am:   

Is English your second language, Thomas? Your comprehension is not good. I didn't accuse you of going only to places where there were sycophants, I told you to go back to Asimov's where you'd be happier. You seem to put a lot of stress on being respected, and to insist that I feel the same. I'm quite content in my own skin. Other people's respect, whether I have it or not, isn't anything I lose sleep over. I have the respect of the people I love and that' s what matters. I work long hours and don't have time to waste on harboring petty anxieties. Anyway, judging by your fixation on how other people see you, I do believe you may be suffering from low self-esteem.

You also write poorly -- perhaps you're overemotional and just blurting things out, but sentences like, "With even solidly Bush voting people from here agreeing it's mismanaged at best." Clumsy constructions, T, are your stock in trade. Clean that up or you'll never publish...I'm assuming from your lack of response that you haven't published. Pity. I'd love to see your witling hypotheses tested by rigorous academic standards...Hell, by any standards.
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Brendan
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 01:14 am:   

Thomas - Who says I have put a label on you?

I am simply reacting to your posts, what you say about yourself and others.

As far as Lucius goes, he deserves some respect. If for nothing else, then simply for the fact that he has managed to succeed in a very tough business: writing fiction. And obviously that is something you put stock in, otherwise you would not be hanging out on these sorts of message boards.

Really: many, many people try and write. Very few can even write publishable material. Those who can rarely have the patience to see the thing through. And out of those that do, most still fall by the wayside.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 01:00 pm:   

To the annonymous coward who again tries to mock me -- Fuck off. I have a life, and a buisness to run. Sorry I didn't respond instantly to a person who quotes my earlier post...

As for the lack of terrorist attack... well, I guess when you rig the election in Ohio And florida, you don't really need a terrorist attack...

I may have been off on THAT particular prediction... The fact that you care enough to dig through my earlier posts... I'm flattered You obviously feel my opinon and ideas are important enough to spend a lot of time trying to undermine and attack.

But would you like to quote my predictions from 2002/early 03, on the likely results of an Iraqi invasion?

Punk. Go volunteer at a veterans hospital or something. There's plenty of maimed U.S. soldiers to whom you can show your support for.

-jl
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 01:42 pm:   

What the anonymous guy needs is a little talk with Tony Jaa. Get all Ong-Bak on the mofo.
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Thomas R
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 02:25 pm:   

Lucius Feb 20: Your comprehension is not good. I didn't accuse you of going only to places where there were sycophants, I told you to go back to Asimov's where you'd be happier.

Lucius Feb 17: the Asimov's board where you can preach your tedious messageless message to the sycophantic gruntlings there.

Still I caught a bad cold during my trip. Like anyone else as they are going around down here and this is no way a justification. Still I realize by my standards I'm a bit disorganized.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 03:02 pm:   

Only, Thonas. "Only."

I didn't say you only went to places where there were sycophant. And I didn't accuse you of doing that. I suggested you go back to Asimovs. That's all.

Your reading-for-comprehension truly, truly sucks.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 07:29 pm:   

"Now take your passive-aggressive little ass back to the Asimov's board where you can preach your tedious messageless message to the sycophantic gruntlings there."

Hey Lucius, can you please explain how the Asimov's forum is any more prone to have sycophantic gruntlings than this message board?

"You pollute the air in here. Judge you? I don't think about except when you come buzzing around like the gadfly you are."

Ah, a man after my own heart. God do I hate those Gadflies, particularly that most famous of them all, Socrates. The last thing the world needs is more gadflies. Swat the gadfly, make her drink hemlock! Lucius, I hate to say this but you're a gadfly yourself and a rather good one.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 09:25 pm:   

Well, I tell you Bryan, my message board doesn't have any sycophants on it, just people I know personally, and if I haven't met them personally, they're people with whom I've mainly had long on line relationships.

I must admit I don't know a thing about the Asimov's board, because I've never been there; I was merely suggesting to Thomas that he beat it and got carried away.
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Thomas R
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 09:54 pm:   

I did get a bit carried away. I came to realize that, but there's no delete or edit function here.

Still I don't think anything you said was just a simple "beat it because you've gotten carried away." You've went in for insulting me personally at the War board before I ever said anything about you at all. Still I get the sense now that you honestly don't see it that way. You're just acerbic by nature and I obviously don't mean anything to you.

Couple weeks pass and I'll likely return to rarely if ever thinking about you either way. In the heat of the moment this week you ticked me off so I went overboard.



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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 10:01 pm:   

"I obviously don't mean anything to you..."

Spot on, T.

And it's not that I'm acerbic -- like I said, it's just I don't suffer fools gladly.
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 12:37 am:   

I don't know, is acerbic even that much of an insult? Certainly not compared to when I was truly ticked at you.

Anyway, even though I didn't mention it, I have in fact been published. At about three different places in fact. However I'd concede I have not yet been published anywhere that I feel is professional enough to be familiar to anyone. I have it scheduled to present papers this year and it's expected I'll be professionally published in history within the year.

Which at 27 is not the best of progress, but I'm not really in a rush. Thing is most of my historical interest is periods like Medieval China, so likely a real snooze for most folk here. I am working on something on "The British Scientific Romance as Intellectual history"(people like Wells, Stapledon, Beresford, Hodgson, etc) that I'm hoping will lead to a few publishable articles. If so I'll certainly be happy to mention it at the general discussions.

Anyway I think this you versus me issue ended up derailing actual issues. Much or more my fault than yours, but hopefully that's done.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 01:28 am:   

Ta ta...
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Rich P.
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 05:08 am:   

Thomas: Medieval China is not a snooze to me, is there any place I can read your papers?
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Brendan
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 06:56 am:   

Medieval China? I didn't know China had a Medieval period.
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wandcoker
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 08:36 am:   

more more
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 02:16 pm:   

Medieval China. I focus more on the Tang and Sung.
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Brendan
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 09:03 pm:   

Sorry Thomas - you can pull out as many links as you want. The fact is that the word "Medieval" refers to a period of Euopean history which in no way equates with the Tang and Sung of China. To talk about Medieval China is like talking about the Republican Party of Ancient Egypt.
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 09:41 pm:   

Brendan Medieval is just a term. It's pretty common to use it to mean essentially any Middle period of any region. Technically it'd be wrong in the case as Chinese dynasties go back to in least 16 century BC, but the imperial period started in the third century BC. So it is basically a middle imperial period. It comes after the disunity period following the Later Han and before the Mongol conquest. The field has several books specifically referring to "Medieval China." The term "Medieval" is also used in Ethiopian and Japanese studies too at times.

Granted it is a bit ethnocentric a term with misleading implications. The Tang-Sung period was certainly far more advanced and unified than anything in "Medieval Europe." Sung wasn't quite as strong politically/militarily, but more advanced scientifically. The age had very little similarities with Medieval Europe at all except for sexism. Still I don't entirely like term "Medieval" for the period either, but I blanked on the more correct term at that moment. Maybe I should've just named the dynasties themselves.

I didn't say that much earlier because I get too wordy and felt like crud. Satisfied?
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 09:50 pm:   

If you were any kind of historian, you'd be more precise. :-)

Funny how you're picky about other people's habits, but when you're sloppy, it's just because you're not feeling good.

Hypocritical dipshit!
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 09:57 pm:   

Probably shouldn't make that claim without examples.

Art, religion, and politics in medieval China : the Dunhuang cave of the Zhai Family by Ning Qiang. University of Hawaiì Press

Lost books of medieval China by Glen Dudbridge

Laughing at the Tao : debates among Buddhists and Taoists in medieval China Princeton University Press(1995)

Changing gods in medieval China, 1127-1276 by Valerie Hansen. Princeton University Press. (Note I have not read this one, but I read her book on contracts and negotiations in the period)

Heavenly clockwork : the great astronomical clocks of medieval China Joseph Needham, Wang Ling, and Derek J. de Solla Price. Needham, Joseph, 1900- 1986. Cambridge University Press (This one I have read, possibly several times, but many of his ideas apparently turned out to be deeply flawed. Needham was not a historian by training, but was well known for sci-tech history of China)

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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 10:05 pm:   

A bit more on Needham as I read him heavily as a teen.


quote:

Perhaps his most striking quality was the combination of human and professional interests that normally are not united in one person. He was a scientist and yet a humanist; while being a convicted Christian, he liked to call himself 'an honourary Taoist'; he was committed to both free though and Marxism. Above all, he was a man with a mission. As an historian of science and technology he wanted to break through the parochial, Europe-centred views of most of his colleagues by disclosing the achievements of traditional China and the important contributions made by China to what eventually would become the scientific revolution. But beyond that he wanted through that insight to contribute to a better, ecumenical world, and at that level those seemingly contradictory ideals -- scientific, humanist, religious, Marxist -- were integrated. They all are combined in the title and subtitle of a text he wrote in 1945: History is on Our Side. Essays in Political Religion and Scientific Faith.

Joseph Needham was born in London in 1900 into a middle-class intellectual family; his father was a Harley Street specialist and the owner of a fine library with many works on religion and philosophy; his mother was a gifted musician and composer. Later, when he studied medicine and biochemistry at Cambridge, he combined this scientific training with an unflagging interest in religion, philosophy and humanist scholarship. In 1924, he took his doctorate and became a fellow of Caius College, an institution that (apart from the years which he spent in China and Paris) was to remain his home-base almost till the end of his life. He pursued his biochemical research at Professor F.G. Hopkins' laboratory; in 1931 he published his three-volume Chemical Embryology with an extensive introduction about the history of embryology -- his first contribution to the history of science.
Erich Zucker Leiden University




He lived into his 90s. I know this is obvious stuff, sorry.

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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 10:51 pm:   

Funny how you're picky about other people's habits, but when you're sloppy

TR: It's not really that sloppy. Medieval is an acceptable term for the period and it's used for the period by Sinologists as late as the 1990s. It's also used in many books I've relied on in class or research.

I concede "Middle Dynasties" or "Middle Empire" is preferable and less likely to cause confusion. However "Medieval China" isn't in anyway incorrect, it's just not the best term. Although I maybe shouldn't have been so huffy with Brendan on showing that.

Anyway wasn't this supposed to be about the Iraq war?
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Bob K.
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 09:31 am:   

Thanks for that, Thomas. Yeah, Iraq. What the hell? I'll restate the obvious for the trolls who started this thread.

Saddam is out of power, and he was a bad man... We gave the Iraquis the vote, sort of. But what did it cost to accomplish this great philanthropic act? Thanks to arrogance and bad planning, it cost the following:

Lives:
About 100,000 Iraquis have been killed since this began, about two-thirds by our troops. In his entire twenty-year tenure, Saddam killed 300,000. We work faster.

Money:
Billions and billions and billions more. What, another 82 billion coming up?

Cred:
Our leaders said we went after Saddam for WMD. We didn't find any. Our leaders implied that there was a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Never close to proven. We failed to protect museums and hospitals. We let the whole Iraqui ARMY go unemployed so that it could join the insurgency. The news is flooded with images of our troops torturing prisoners and our woefully inadequate planning to prevent such abuse (if it wasn't actually abetted from the top).

At best, those who support our unilateral approach to Iraq are in the position of defending hamfisted incompetence, if not downright venality.


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Jim
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 11:55 am:   

Couldn't have said it better myself, Bob. You go, boy!
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 01:16 pm:   

You have to admit, people, that the Iraqi vote makes a stirring preamble to civil war....
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mark samuels
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 02:33 pm:   

Anyone else get the feeling that Bob K., Lucius and Jim are not worth an arse wipe from any Iraqi brave and willing to defy death to vote for whom they choose will govern them? I do.
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Bob K.
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 02:56 pm:   

That's real cogent, Mark. Maybe if we'd gone in with some humility and a true international force, vetted the Iraqi military and kept the majority of it paid and on our side, exercising the franchise wouldn't be quite the death-defying act it is today. But don't shut your mouth on my account. You might suffocate.

Bob
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Brendan
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 03:01 pm:   

Thomas - I did not think you were being huffy. It is simply that the term Medieval is a term used to signify the period between the dark ages in Europe and, I guess, the renaissance (though that term also can be funny as it really refers to Italy). I mean - sure some people might misuse the term, but that does not mean it is correct.

Mark S. - What, do you think that anyone who questions the validity and good of this disgusting situation in Iraq is somehow worthless? Most Iraqis dont even know who the hell they are voting for. More than half thought they were voting for a president. The people who brave death in the hope of a better life might be noble, but that hardly means that they are informed.
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mark samuels
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 03:17 pm:   

Maybe so, Bob, but WHEN was the last time you were threatened with death on the way to vote?

Can you respect my point of view or not?

Mark
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 03:18 pm:   

If Tony Blair is Bush's poodle, does that make Mark Samuels NighttShade's poodle?

If Mark Samuels were to raise his finger in the air and there were a blue stain on it, you can bet his boyfriend took an ink enema...

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mark samuels
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 03:19 pm:   

So Brendan, the Iraqis are ignorant for daring to vote?

Mark
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 03:20 pm:   

Let me take that one, Bob....

Not.
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mark samuels
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 03:25 pm:   

Lucius, darling, and you said you'd never tell about the ink enema. I thought it was just between the two of us you old viejo puto. Ay.
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Bob K.
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 03:39 pm:   

So you're appealing to respect now? Yeah, sure, I respect the point of view of everyone whose first rhetorical salvo involves dismissing people as not worth an ass wipe. Seriously. I mean, you've obviously got some major punch coming. The only other conclusion to draw would be that you're an idiot. Let's see how it plays out. Go ahead. Make the case that this Iraq situation was all worthwhile.

Bob
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 04:32 pm:   

I probably shouldn't go back to this, but a new thread has been started for the war issue.

As you know Bob, err Brendan, "Medieval" essentially just translates from the root words as "Middle Time" or "Middle Ages." In a sense the Middle Imperial period than is "Medieval." It's a "misuse" in the way calling Master Kung Fu-tze "Confucius" is misuse, using a Latinization for a non-Latin situation, but it's not really as incorrect as I think you believe it to be. Or as maybe you/we would just like it to be.

These really weren't just "some people." These are some of the leading China scholars, including Chinese writers themselves. It's not my preferred term for the period either, but no it's not a misuse.
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JV
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 02:20 pm:   

I think I want to move to Canada.

http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/news.asp?id=421

This may be on a subject other than the war, but it reflects a mindset and approach to government that our country has abandoned--a mindset that would never have gone to war in the first place.

JeffV

PS Yes, now we'll get some Canada bashing posts, I'm sure.
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StephenB
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 03:11 pm:   

I'll tell you Jeff, I'm by no means a nationalist -- I think nationalism sucks, but I'm frequently happy to live in this country. I know that Canada is really one of the best countries to live in on earth, and I appreciate it.
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Thomas R
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 05:33 pm:   

TR: Canada itself has negatives like anyplace, but from everything I've heard it is one of the best nations on Earth. Lots of variety in land, cultures, etc. There are some things they do that I think would be harder to implement here.

Kind of going backward, but I was reading on India. One of the states in India with the highest percentages of Christian/Catholics is Kerala. They were the first to democratically elect Marxist and have the lowest population growth rate in India. Also the gender-ratio is more female than male. It being India I imagine it's still full of poverty and despair, but if so it's not as linked to population explosions as in the rest of the area.

Also Lucius was right on the child prostitution issue in Costa Rica. I admit that's not something I knew much about, and I'm thankful for that, so I should've got into it on that. Plus as soon as I said it the way I did I knew it came off callous in a way I did not mean. I meant from what he first said it seemed like his point was just "if there is poverty and child prostitution at all so that invalidates everything, and I've been there while you haven't so there, I've just invalidated everything you say." Which although would be best if true both things happen in liveable nations, including Canada. After that I kind of tuned him out and instantly mistrusted anything he said on anything. It didn't square with what I'd heard from the people I'd known there, so I ignored him. However thinking back that's just not the kind of thing people I knew would have felt like mentioning, even if they wanted to say a place was hell on earth.

I don't entirely concede. Costa Rica has little to no criticism from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Borders, etc. Costa Rican economic inequality is high, but lower than any other place in Latin America except Uruguay or Ecuador. Poverty is around 22% which is bad, but not like "everyone but rich German visitors." Costa Ricans generally live longer than us.

Still he said some valid things after all, and I was too dismissive or arrogant. I still feel I said much that was basically correct, but the instances of being dismissive or overemotional likely ruined much of the value of my attempts at discussion here. Alas.

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