Thursday, February 28, 2008

Critical Thinking and Politics

The question that continues to arise is “does anyone think critically anymore?” We are now treated on an almost daily basis to pictures of teenagers and college students waving placards and cheering for Obama. The media dutifully reports this without questioning what all of the cheering is about. The young Senator is for “change” and that seems to be all that is required to electrify the youth – out with the old and in with the new without regard for what is being tossed out and what is being brought in – other than its new. It is time a little critical thinking is employed when it comes to Obama. The media very carefully never challenges him or asks difficult questions and this has become so pervasive and obvious that even Saturday Night Live has parodied this, but when Senator Clinton tries to simply go with the flow on this, the same media attacks her. But the topper came with Obama’s idiotic statement regarding Iraq and Al Qaeda. The Senator proudly announces – when he finally begins to be a little more specific about the “changes” he intends to make – that he would immediately withdraw all American Troops from Iraq and let the natives duke it out. Then if Al Qaeda set up a base in Iraq then he would send the troops back.

Hello – is he so ignorant or so confident of the lack of critical thinking and understanding of the events during the last ten years by his youthful supporters that he honestly thinks that Al Qaeda ISN’T already in Iraq? Has the media taken this opportunity to point this salient fact out to the Senator? Has the media or anyone in that cheering crowd stopped to think that if we immediately withdraw from Iraq, Al Qaeda will not establish a base there because they already have a base there and they will seize the opportunity to regroup and flood the country with another round of murder, intimidation, and destruction. Then the US will have to send troops back in – under the command of Obama – at another huge cost in lives and treasure. If anything ever demonstrated his total lack of experience and unsuitability to be president – this one statement is it. Has the media or his band of rosy cheeked supporters challenged him on this? Not a chance – they simply gloss over it and the cheering and the parade moves on to what they clearly think will be his coronation next January.

But this lack of critical thinking isn’t limited to Senator Obama but the entire media seems to have eliminated any idea that their role is to challenge authority. Instead they seem to now believe that their role is to advance their own agendas, which increasingly seem to rest on emotion and are devoid of any concept of history, economics, and even political theory. The most recent, but certainly not the first nor the last, is the mess in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez rose to power promising the poor that he would eliminate their poverty and break the backs of the capitalists. To that end he fixed prices, nationalized industries, has driven out all of the foreign capitalists, suppressed the press, and launched diversionary attacks on the US. It is the diversionary attack on the US that has enamored the American left with him who did not waiver even when he announced he really wasn’t a “socialist” but a “Marxist”. If anything this self-evident announcement made him even more attractive to the American media and political left.

Well the chickens are coming home to roost, because Venezuela now has a shortage of food, the foreign capitalists are suing Venezuela for the cost of their property seized by Chavez, shortages are everywhere, the quality of life – even for the poor – has declined, and in the classic move by Marxists – he is blaming everyone but him self and his policies. Price controls were tried by the Emperor Diocletian, it failed, and of course he blamed everyone but his policies and himself. Richard Nixon tried to fix prices in the 1970’s which had the same result – shortages. Does the media challenge or even acknowledge the failed policies of Chavez? No indeed, they focus on his attacks on the US, US policies, and his threats regarding the oil companies and their efforts to recover the investments that he stole.

Then of course we have the tired old football being kicked around once again by the left and the media and that is “healthcare”. There is no doubt that the Healthcare system in the US is terrible but the media and left continue to call for government run universal healthcare, without once actually critically examining the results in other countries where the government has taken over the healthcare system. In Canada and the UK waits for critical surgery can be months or even years. In one recent case in Canada a pregnant woman was told the first available appointment with a specialist was in 10 months. In the UK the government control left them without sufficient doctors so they enticed foreign doctors into the country while incentivizing students to go to medical school. Now they have too many doctors and are trying to force the foreign doctors out. This was a failure of central planning when applied to Healthcare, but once again these obvious shortcomings of socialist style programs are ignored because critical thinking is not a strong point by either the media or those that believe the government can do anything efficiently.

Critical thinking is definitely in trouble because no one seems willing to point out that the Emperor has no clothes.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Mess in Mesopotamia

It is worth noting that Mesopotamia – now Iraq did not exist prior to the end of WW I, unless you want to consider the Babylonia Empire under Nebuchadnezzar, which was absorbed into the Persian Empire. From that time Mesopotamia did not exist as an independent nation. It is important to understand that Iraq is a creation, not by Arabs, or Muslims, or any indigenous group in Iraq, but was created by the British led by that intrepid self-proclaimed genius and aristocrat – Sir Winston Churchill – aided and abetted by that other self-promoting genius Colonel T. E Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia. This was the last gasp of European Colonialism.

It is worth remembering that Queen Victoria had died only 17 years before the end of WW I so the colonial mentality that was so prevalent throughout Europe had not yet expired so the French and English felt it was totally within their right – indeed divine right – to set up the world to suit themselves. So what once had been the Ottoman Empire now became Turkey, Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, Syria, and Iraq. Persia and Egypt had always existed except they were now Iran and Egypt. At the same time that these artificial lines were being drawn Churchill upheld the controversial policy aimed at establishing a Jewish State in what was then Palestine. Palestine, like Persia had ancient roots and had always been a fractious place that had given fits to the Romans who had barely been able to maintain peace there even with massive military force. Nevertheless, Palestine has ancient roots and has long been ethnically diverse and home to Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Ironically had you asked a Jew what his nationality was up to the time Israel was created he would have said he was a Palestinian. It was only after the creation of Israel and the schism between the Jews and Muslims that the Jews became Israeli’s and the Muslims became Palestinians. Today there are Muslims AND Palestinians and while to western eyes this distinction seems pretty fine, but Muslims are a very fragmented group and these distinctions are very real to them.

But it was Churchill who was the driving force – along with T.E. Lawrence – who Post WW I, set up the country then called Mesopotamia and now called Iraq. Initially this was a constitutional monarchy and independent democracy from 1925 until 1958. But the bloodletting never abated and these “democratic” governments supported pogroms against the Jews and genocide against the Assyrians. The Shi’ites in Mesopotamia rebelled and were cruelly suppressed by the Sunni’s and the British. The British had occupied the ancient territory of Mesopotamia as liberators of the Iraqi people. In British eyes they were being freed from the oppression of the Turkish Ottomans. And initially the British Army was welcomed as liberators as they determinedly set up a constitutional and democratic government. Unfortunately the people turned on their liberators and killed thousands of the British troops – so the current situation in Iraq is simply an encore of the British experience in the 1920’s. The British ultimately crushed the rebellion but at a cost, the lesson was that it required a massive military intervention applied with an iron hand. This was a lesson lost on the American Military who suffer from the American Disease – this disease is the belief that all peoples are alike, they desire freedom, and that a democratic government will bring peace. The sad reality is that not everyone in the world is prepared for a democratic government either psychologically or culturally and the Muslim World in particular is not ready for democratic government. Democracy has failed every time it has been implemented in the past and the current situation in Iraq shows every sign that it will fail once again.

The western liberals simply cannot let go of the idea that the Arab world is desperate for freedom and democracy. The only Muslim state that has come close is Turkey and that democracy was implemented by force. The Muslim World is actually fragmented by tribes, cultures, feuds, and ironically – religion. They are somewhat unified by their hatred of the West which dates back to the Crusades which is still evidenced by Osama bin Laden and others referring to Westerners and Americans in particular – as Crusaders. Currently the liberal establishment is totally convinced that the American invasion of Iraq was instigated by George Bush for the sole purpose of enriching the oil companies or even worse as a distraction to the failed domestic policies. Both of these are totally false but the truth may be even more pathetic.

Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a strategic bulwark against the Shi’ite dominated Iran but it was increasingly unstable as Saddam began to have visions of grandeur. But the US policy wonks mistakenly thought that if they toppled Hussein the people would view the US as liberators and immediately establish a stable democratic government. It was as if these highly educated people from all of those liberal elite eastern universities never read a history book. Instead of liberators the US was quickly seen as invaders and Crusaders and instead of following the historical precedent of ruthlessly crushing all dissent with overwhelming force, the Americans held an election. The real question is didn’t any of those fancy universities ever hear of Machiavelli? So instead of bringing democracy and law and order, the US managed to unleash all of the pent up hatred and feuds already present and these were exacerbated by the external influence of Al Qaeda. Worse, the stabilizing influence of Sunni Iraq is now gone and the weakened Iraq is falling under the influence of Iran and fueling their nuclear ambitions.

It seems the mess in Mesopotamia is much worse than anyone realizes. If the US exits Iraq it will be a strategic disaster because it will be seen as a defeat of the US by Al Qaeda. If the US stays it will continue to inflame Muslims worldwide as it will be seen as an invasion of Islamic lands by Crusaders determined to crush Islam. Also if and when the US does leave Iraq it almost guarantees that an enterprising General will rise to power and overthrow the democratic government which is only a sham anyway. If this General is pro-Iranian, which is likely then we will be faced with an anti-American alliance that could destabilize Saudi Arabia and threaten the World’s oil supply. It would be better if the CIA orchestrated this coup and saw to it that a pro-American General became dictator, but it is unlikely any administration would have the courage to do this and face the wrath of the liberal press. Mesopotamia is a mess and it has always been a mess.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Press and Objectivity

We are being bombarded with extravagant praise by the popular media for Barrack Hussein Obama. They carefully neglect using his middle name for fear of arousing “unfounded” concerns by the fascistic, homophobic, ignoramuses called “Republicans”. These paeans to the new JFK seem to be based on his “blackness’, his youth, and his charming way of saying nothing at all while making it sound really really important. His platform seems to consist of one plank called change, but precisely what he intends to change or how he intends to change it goes unreported. We are told by the media that 86% of blacks voted for Obama but none of the press or media view this as racist. Insead it is announced with pride that the blacks are clearly voting for the best man, not the black man, although the voting pattern among blacks has consistently been racially based (think Marion Barry among others) and independent of qualifications or even past criminal records. The only solid thing coming from Obama is his determination to end the war in Iraq – not by victory but by surrender – surrender to the Muslims – but we are assured that he is not a Muslim or at least not one of those radical Muslims and that surrender is really not surrender but simply wise policy. Wise policy for who seems to go unreported, but we are told that the youth of American are solidly behind Obama. The assumption here is that these youths are capable of critical thinking and have carefully considered Obama as well as the other Democratic and Republican candidates. Of course this is unlikely because the college campuses from which these youths spring are heavily weighted to the left and any critical discourse is discouraged if not outright forbidden.

The press in the US has continued to drift left as the colleges graduate more and more students who have been thoroughly indoctrinated in the politics of the left. The highly acclaimed Katie Couric in her visit to Cuba in 1992 announced to the world that the standard of living in Cuba was “very high for a third world country”. Of course this oxymoronic observation was duly reported with no critical comment or comparison. In fact Cuba had been among the wealthiest Latin American nations when Castro obtained power by force but now it ranks among the poorest with even the Dominican Republic having a higher standard. Of course the left leaning media do not criticize Marxist regimes that have taken over by force, criticism is aimed only at those brutal dictators that are not Marxists. In fact even as the USSR was disintegrating before the eyes of the world and the evils of Marxism were becoming clear, Peter Jennings continued to laud Cuba and their Marxist paradise – of course ignoring the hundreds – if not thousands of Cubans risking their lives in leaky boats in their desperate flight to the US. So is it any wonder that the media cannot bring themselves to critically examine the leftist politics of a young black man who promises change without specifying what changes. It is worth noting that this was the mantra of Hugo Chavez when he took over Venezuela and who is now admitting to his Marxist beliefs.

It is also worth noting that Robert Frost once said that “A liberal is a man too broad minded to take his own side in a quarrel”. This quote really sums up the liberal position in most situations, especially when it comes to the US. These are the people who will automatically assume that anything the US wants to do is automatically wrong. These are the people who “blame America first” and certainly never give America credit and blame Republicans for everything that they see as being wrong in the world. It was Ronald Reagan who revived the American economy, restored the vitality of NATO, restored America’s domination of the world stage, and forced the USSR to abandon its drive toward world domination and ended the cold war. All of these are enormous achievements but at the conclusion of this Time magazine made Gorbachev “Man of the Year” and to this day the liberal establishment denies that Reagan won the cold war or that he accomplished anything significant – other than to arm the Contras and crush the incipient Marxists for which he was castigated by the press then and now. Any attack on any Marxist government is roundly condemned by the leftist press in America.

Of course the very foundation to the current Democratic platform – if indeed there is one beyond “we aren’t George Bush” is that we need to withdraw from Iraq. The rationale for this position is a little vague other than American Troops are getting killed and we shouldn’t have gone there in the first place. The critical scrutiny of this seems to be restricted to the basis for the decision which is generally believed by the press to be an invasion to support President Bush’s oil interests. Any strategic thinking or examination of the long range effect and impact is missing. Why there is no critical examination of the global situation and the necessity of removing Hussein can only be attributed to a lack of critical thinking, an inability to think strategically, ignorance of geopolitics, or a burning desire to discredit a Republican President – take your pick. Now this same band of geniuses is supporting a very junior senator who has no military experience, no business experience, no administrative experience, very little experience in government, who belongs to a racist and possibly anti-Semitic church and whose only qualification as a candidate seems to be he is black and inexperienced. It would seem that even the media – who are not noted for their high IQ’s – would recognize that the Presidency of the United States is too important of a job to be filled by a candidate who has no experience whatsoever.

The supreme irony here is that the Democrats had a very strong and viable candidate in Governor Richardson. A man whose resume was very strong and who was amply qualified to lead the country. Unfortunately Governor Richardson wasn’t black, wasn’t young, and lacked charisma – all he had were the qualifications necessary to effectively lead the country. Instead the Democrats and the media once again opted for veneers and flash with no substance.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Soccer Tees, Pluto, and Harris Tottle

There is a fascinating book available titled “”Non Campus Mentis” which is a collection of excerpts and quotes from the various tests and papers of students. It is always fascinating to look at history through the eyes of the students which is what the author has done and when you read what he has gleaned you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The teacher’s present the materials but then something seems to be lost in the translation from mouth to ear because the students don’t seem to hear precisely what is being said or hear it and then don’t have a clue as to what it means, how to spell it, or even how it applies to anything. So here is a summary of World History which I have compiled based on the responses taken from this treasure trove of school tests and papers . The spellings have been left intact and I leave it to your discerning eye to distinguish between what is written by me and by the students and for this reason I have elected to not use distinguishing quotation marks.

Let us begin with ancient Egypt which has always been a challenge because counter to all logic on a map the Nile runs up (North) rather than down which has always caused consternation for the observer who views Egypt on a map, because as we all know, there was Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Lower Egypt is actually farther up than Upper Egypt which was – of course – lower down than the upper part. This is why we learn geography as a factor in history. Egypt was certainly an interesting and powerful civilization. The rulers of Egypt were entitled as Faroes with one of the most famous being King Toot. Of course one of the most famous things in Egypt is the pyramids. The pyramids were large square triangles built in the desert. O’Cyrus was a god who lived in a piramid and would give you the afterlife if your sole was on straight. The Egyptian upper class was able to live posthumously through the arts and facts buried with them.

And this brings us to that other great civilization – the Sumerian also known as the Mesopotamian which existed in a valley near the Eucaliptus river where flooding was erotic. Babylon was similar to Egypt because of their differences they had apart from each other. Egypt for example only had Egyptians but Babylon had Summarians, Acadians, and Canadians, to just name a few. The Babylonians honored their gods by building pyramids in the shape of zeplins. Mesopotamia was dominated at various times by the Medes, Persians, and Assyrians. The Assyrian program of exterminating various ethnic groups failed to promote cultural diversity. And so closes our tour through the truly ancient cultures and brings us to the Mediterranean and the Classical Age.

Athens, Sparta, and Pluto were Greek city states. Some were Oglearchies but Athens was a democracy resulting from the reforms of Colon and Percales. Sparta demanded loyalty, military service, and obscurity from its citizens. King Xerox of Persia invaded Greace but fell off short at the Battle of Thermosalami. Religion was polyphonic and featured such gods as Herod, Mars, and Juice. Thucydides was a noted historian who collected facts objectively and saw himself as responsible only to Clio, the Greek Mouse of History. Eventually the Greeks were conquered by Phillip of Mastodon who was later killed in a family sprawl. He was succeeded by Alexander the Great who conquered Persia, Egypt, and Japan. Sadly he died with no hairs.

The Greeks were important and laid the foundation for western civilization. They were important at culture and science. The scientific method came into use when the Greeks learned never to take things for granite when solving a problem. The Atomists discovered E=MC^2 and other mathematical things. U Clid proved that there is more than one side to every plane and Pythagasaurus fathered the triangle, while Archimedes made the first steamboat and power drill. But perhaps the greatest gifts of the Greeks were in the form of philosophy. The pre-Socratics lived long before Plato and were not decisively influenced by his work. Perhaps the greatest philosopher was Socrates who was accused of Sophomorism and sentenced to die of hemroyds. His student Plato invented reality and was teacher to Harris Tottle, author of the Republicans. Other philosophies included the Epicureans for them lust was a must. Others were the Vegetarians and the Synthetics who said “if you can’t play with it, why bother”.

The Greeks were eventually replaced by the great Roman Empire which was founded sometime by Uncle Remus and Wolf. The Roman upperclassmen demanded to be known as Patricia. Senators wore purple tubas as a sign of respect. Around the 120’s B.C the Gretzky brothers failed to stop these and other injustices. But the Republic carried on and struggled with the other great Mediterranean power – Carthage. Hannabelle crossed the Alps with a herd of eliphants and thus invaded Africa. After they defeated Carthage the Romans brutaly salted the people and razored the city. Scipio was called “Africanus” because he served in Spain. The Republic prospered but eventually it came to be dominated by Julius Caesar who was famous for inspiring his men by saying “I came I saw I went”. Caesar was assassinated on the Yikes of March and is reported to have said “Me Too Brutus”.

Following the assassination of Caesar Rome was subjected to many turnoilic events, oncluding Anthony’s elusive affair with Cleopatra. The shrewd Octavian grabbed hold of the Empire and he kept the people happy by giving them breaded circuses. Augustus (aka Octagenarian) founded the Roman Catholic Empire and punished those involved in sibilancy and adultery. The symbol of his authority was the Cross. He put it everywhere. Augustus did have to leave the Empire due to his death.

There are many theories about the fall of the Roman Empire and many were totally not possible and some of them were. This included more than enough religion, too much slavery, not enough water, and smoking from lead pipes. Then the Empire was swept with a tidal wave of Goths, Hungs, Zulu’s and others who impacted Rome. Athena the Hun rampaged the Balkans as far as France, where he plumaged and tortured people of the villages he captured. Thus ended the Roman Empire and Western Civilization entered the Dark Ages where it was mostly dark.

Certainly history is a lot more interesting when you have explained through the eyes of the students. Soccer Tees, Pluto, and Harris Tottle – I salute you.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Meta-Science and Evolution

By way of disclosure the ideas being presented here are not original with me but represent a melding of a wide variety of opinions, speculations, and beliefs, but it must be noted that the belief system is not limited to those who believe in God but encompasses much of the scientific community as well.

The battle between Evolutionists, Creationists, Darwinists, Atheists, Scientists, and religionists rages on with no quarter being asked or given. The problem seems to lie in the inflexibility of all concerned and no one seems willing to accept any compromise. You are either pro-science or pro-God and there is no middle ground. After considerable reading it seems to me that we have entered the realm of Meta-Science a place where science and God seem to meet. The Creationists believe that the Bible is revealed truth and literal and some even believe Bishop Usher was correct and the Earth is only 4000 years old. On the other hand there is a large population who believe that God or any spiritual involvement in anything is not just misguided but the height of ignorance. Then there are the Darwinists who have raised Charles Darwin to godhood, much as “Brave New World” did for Ford. However, if you actually read current theories in Quantum Physics and Cosmology and then read other theories and the Bible with an open mind, you begin to see that these things are really not that far apart and it is this area that I call “Meta-Science”.

Of course the first issue is the “First Cause” or “First Singularity” depending on your point of view. The Steady State theory that the Universe has always been as it is has been discredited by Science with the emergence of the Big Bang theory. However, the flaw in this theory is that where did all of this energy come from? Since it created space, time, and mass, all of that had to have existed somewhere and if it occurred spontaneously then how – what was the “First Cause”. The Metaphysicians believe in the beginning there was only a mind-force, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, which was the source of all. This was the “I AM THAT I AM” – the eternal God mentioned in the Bible. The “First Cause” was the self-awareness of God and the Second Cause was desire for creation.

The Book of Genesis Chapters 1 – 5 states that the Earth was without form and God created light. This essentially describes the Big Bang, which was an explosion of energy that established space, time, and mass. Genesis goes on to establish the order of things as the Earth evolved from a molten state through the various stages of evolution – from the bumping and thumping of electrons and protons to the creation of life, in the form of fishes, plants, and animals. This is poetically delivered but does not vary from the current scientific thinking if the term “day” is not taken literally but poetically. Of course the real stumbling block here is the creation of “life” those simple little microscopic collections of primitive electrons and protons that miraculously not only sub-divide and grow but procreate in the more advanced forms.

This problem of “Creation” was first addressed by Thales in 600BC who postulated that water was the source of all things which is not too far from the current position of science who postulate that life began in the seas. Then Plotinus who postulated that from a pure God came emanations or beings as light flows from the sun. This view corresponds with later metaphysical views that God created all souls before he created the universe. But then modern science maintains that the Earth is just an accident and independent of any external cause and that man emerged from some simple state through the natural evolution described by Darwin -- however progressive this idea may be viewed as it was first postulated by Epicurus in 306 BC. But alas the rub is that “simple state” from which all derived is left unexplained by all but science believes it was simply a coincidental collision of random atoms and events – with belief being the operative word. So there you have it – you can believe that God created the life force in those microscopic organisms or you can believe in the scientific view of random coincidence but both require unproven belief. The pivotal issue really seems to revolve around homo sapiens and where did he come from.

The Darwinists believe that man evolved from ape-like animals into hominids which went through various evolutionary stages culminating in homo sapiens. Most of these branches on the human evolutionary tree seem to have gone extinct and gradually mankind evolved from primitive beginnings into the five races of man today. God was never involved and everything happened by pure chance which is what is believed by the Darwinists. However, in a reading of other sources including the Bible we find a very similar description, which can be summed up as follows: God created man in his image but since God is not human that image – whatever it is can be described as “energy”. However, God also created humanity which could be viewed as these first hominids – no one knows how this happened but it is possible it was God as well as evolution. We are told that God created Adam and Eve, the first perfect humans, which means that His first try didn’t work out. The descendants of Adam and Eve mixed with these early humans, which resulted in God destroying humanity in the Great Flood. The human race today is descended from the survivors.

When examined critically these two views are truly not in great conflict, of course one is rather poetic but follows the scientific train of thought fairly closely. It certainly allows for the evolution of man from a more primitive form to the superior creature we have today. The sticking points are really rather few. First of course is what caused the Big Bang – no proof on either side but God is probably as logical as any other explanation. The second sticking point is how life was created. In Genesis 20-21 we find God brought forth the moving creatures, having earlier brought forth the dry land and vegetation. Admittedly this view skips over the actual initiation of living micro-organisms and goes directly to plants, which is contrary to the scientifically accepted sequence of events but then the Cambrian explosion of life lies unexplained so we are left with what do you believe – coincidence or God. If you accept God and intelligent design then everything falls into place but rests on belief. If you reject God then you are left with the first cause conundrum and then your position rests on belief that it can be explained independent of God --take your pick. But it seems to me that God is looking more and more like the logical choice because even police detectives don't believe in coincidence so why should scientists?