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Online Comics and Bias

PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 11:56 am
by Rampantmouse
Sure, this current story line is blatantly biased towards the Democrats, but other online comics have gotten into the act. Sluggy Freelance did a hilarious strip a while back in which U.N. inspectors were brought in to 'prove' Bert was still living in the house. Of course, shackled by all the 'agreed restrictions', they weren't able to find him.

Its a shame Bruno hasn't come up with anything as funny yet, but maybe the story line will pick up a bit towards the end.

As for Iraq, the United States really only has two choices:
1. Seal our borders, focus on developing new surveillance and defensive technologies (Such as missile defense), and otherwise ensure that Europe will be a much more tempting target than the U.S.
2. Use military and diplomatic force to strip those foreign nations that are likely to provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists who would target the U.S. of the ability to do so.

One must remember, cultural beliefs and religious values outlive their origins. We have seen proof, from the backgrounds of the terrorists we have identified, that once formed, neither economic prosperity or prolonged exposure to Western culture will necessarily change their belief that killing non-believers is a spiritual good.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 1:39 pm
by mouse
i feel i should remind everyone that ian is canadian, and therefore not eligible for membership in the democratic party. i would suggest he was merely questioning whether an all-out war is necessarily the best response, as many other people, both within and without the U.S., have been doing. You yourself suggest that this is a reasonable question:
Rampantmouse wrote:2. Use military and diplomatic force

(my italics)
this is all some of us are saying - try some other options before you go in full-force; you may be able to obtain your objectives at a slightly lower cost.

1 is obviously unreasonable - as you say, committed fanatics don't change, so even if we attempted to take a lower profile, they would still be after us. and it's just to big a country to shut off completely - to say nothing of the fact that it would a) refute our whole history as a nation of immigrants and b) really screw up trade.

i think we need to really think about the way other countries think about _us_ - many of them have very good reasons for not thinking too highly of the U.S. and running around like a big bully pounding everyone who doesn't agree with us doesn't help. i always figured the best way to demonstrate that you are the strongest guy on the block is by _not_ getting into fights - because you don't have to prove yourself that way any more.

anyway, the story seems to be going in a bit of a different direction - i am interested to see what to what tests bruno will be put. and that little tidbit about giving up the crown........

PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 3:07 am
by Dunlavy
I nominate JoseB as the guy who knows what he's talking about the most on this board.

Until now, I thought the Roman Empire was a monopoly on microwaveable noodles.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 3:14 am
by Dunlavy
Here goes:
mouse wrote:1 is obviously unreasonable - as you say, committed fanatics don't change, so even if we attempted to take a lower profile, they would still be after us. and it's just to big a country to shut off completely - to say nothing of the fact that it would a) refute our whole history as a nation of immigrants and b) really screw up trade.

Well, you're right. Sealing off our borders and hoping that our problem(s) would just fade away would, in my opinion at least, be very uncharactoristic of the U.S.A. and not very beneficial. Passive aggressivnes only works when your oppressors/offenders are peaceful in nature and respect the fact that you ARE remaining peaceful. The Taliban, not to mention rival nations would only take advantage of the U.S. should it take a less fearful and destructive approach.

A Regime in Iraq could save millions of lives

PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 7:40 am
by Rampantmouse
Turning Iraq into a successful democratic capitilist society is pretty much the only hope the Middle East has of survival. Remember, in 1962 the first Neutron bomb was successfully tested. Neotron bombs create a burst of neutron energy that damages any living DNA it encounters without harming non-living materials. As a result, it kills every living thing over a very wide area without harming either oil fields or holy sites. You don't get the mushroom clouds, fallout, or lingering radioactivity you get with conventional nukes. Indeed, troops can enter the effected area almost immediately after detonation. Once Israel's neighbors develop such devices, the temptation to supply them to terrorist groups willing to anomynously smuggle them into Israel will be irresistable. If you are an Israel military officer in a shielded bunker who has just seen your country, your friends, your family, and your faith wiped out before your eyes, why would you restrain yourself from unleashing Israel's nuclear arsenal in return - even if you didn't know exactly which of your neighbors was responsible? After all, all of them have been financing terrorist attacks against your homeland for generations. The end result - a Middle east suddenly bereft of human life. By turning Iraq into a successful influential 'model' middle eastern country, perhaps we can change things before its too late.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 8:22 am
by Limax
I nominate myself as the least knowlegeble on these subjects. I'll leave the rest up as an exercise to the reader.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 11:19 am
by Prankster
OK...I just want to add a couple of things.

Dunlevy's been an eloquent poster, but I object to his blanket dismissal of Canada based on "a couple of visits". I'm not sure what it has to do with the war on terror, anyway, but the fact is that American conservatives have developed an annoying habit of trying to paint Canada as a horrible, oppressive place, because it pretty much runs against most of the ideals they stand for...or so they think.

(Ironically, as demonstrated by "Bowling for Coumbine", Canada could stand as a powerful example to SUPPORT one of the Conservatives' pet causes--opposing gun control--since, per capita, we own just as many guns as Americans. In fact, that supposedly "Liberal" movie makes a pretty solid case that gun control just isn't the answer, and that it's largely the media who are to blame. But I digress.)

Anyway, I've heard, for instance, American senators decrying the state of Health Care in Ontario, which is indeed a bit of a mess (though we're starting to recover a bit). What they don't mention is the fact that these problems started once an ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE party was elected into power in the province and began hacking away at the health care and educational systems in order to meet their promised tax cuts. Before that, under left-wing leadership, the health care system in Ontario was the envy of the world.

Americans have nicer things? I don't know about that. It's possibly true...our minimum wage is lower, and we're not as gung-ho about capitalism (though we're not "socialists" on any but a highly metaphorical level, so let's watch our statements, OK?) But quality of life is higher in Canada--it's been shown repeatedly.

I'm not trying to slag on America, or American conservatives. It's just that I find that you guys tend to see things through a very thin filter--whichever side you're on--which is becoming way too black and white. Blaming either "Liberals" or "Conservatives" for all your problems is a stupid way to go about things, and it really doesn't help when the two sides are starting to see each other as polar opposites.

For instance, Dunlavy, you started this thread by "accusing" Ian of being a Liberal. But surely you, like I, have talked to plenty of American conservatives who dislike Bush jr...some, in fact, seem to hate him all the more for being part of their party.

It's gotten so that a criticism of Bush lumps you into a certain category, whereas defending him lumps you into "the other one". It shouldn't be that way. America, and the rest of the world, is filled with all kinds of different, intelligent people with a rich variety of opinions. Rather than constantly defining the party lines and sticking to them, parroting slogans all the while, we should be free to think--impartially--about a given situation. It's become impossible to do that in America. You're now either against all Liberalism in any form, or against all Conservatism in any form. You can't say, "I think Bush has done a good job on some fronts, but overall I'm disappointed with him." You have to be either FOR him or AGAINST him. You can't objectively look at each decision he makes and judge for yourself.

The same was true of Clinton. You had to defend him against those ridiculous charges if you were a Liberal, or demand he be ousted if you were a Conservative. You couldn't say, "Well, I have a lot of problems with him as President, but for him to be kicked out of office over this stupid non-issue is ridiculous." The lines have been drawn WAY too sharply.

I do reserve most of my criticism for the Conservatives; they're just WAY too brittle these days, and react too shrilly to honest, critical examinations of things that DO need to be looked at. Bush doesn't have a mandate, and his political situation is HIGHLY suspicious. Even suggesting you consider this--not write Bush off entirely, but CONSIDER some of his motives--will get you smacked down in many circles. That's not healthy. However, the Liberals did the exact same thing during the Clinton scandal. I don't think it was an issue, myself, but Liberals got awfully screechy and dismissive about it.

It's unhealthy, and stifling honest debate in America. You guys ARE a great country, but I'm worried you're like Rome under Julius Caesar. They were a great democracy, then they got torn apart by internal divisions and stupid allegiances to political figures who didn't deserve it. When the dust had cleared, they were a tyrannical empire ruled by a bunch of psychotics with absolute power.

I've always felt that the American people were fine individuals, ruled over by a bunch of scumwads who need to be watched like hawks to prevent them screwing up the country too badly. Keep that in mind, and you'll do OK.

P.S.--Dunlavy, American conservative voters may be a bunch of down-to-earth, self-made good ol' boys, but Bush isn't. He was born in New Hampshire, barely set foot in Texas until he was 10, has always been rich, and has never run a successful business until he was elected (and let's pray to God that doesn't turn out to be an unsuccessful business.) I'm astounded by how many people support Bush who worked their whole lives to build something for their families. He's the very definition of a career politician. Everything he's ever had has fallen into his lap. The ONLY difference between him and Gore, who Conservatives think is such a whiny slacker, is their political views--and of course Bush isn't going to be a Liberal, having come from Conservatives from way back. My God, Bush is the ANTITHESIS of everything serious conservatives should be standing for. It's amazing what a little lip service and propaganda will do for you.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 12:34 pm
by mouse
the current highly partisan atmosphere is one reason i've started voting 3rd party, whenever i can reasonably do so. so much of both republican and democratic platforms seems to be: our position = not(their position) - with no real attempt to think through solving the problem. heard an interview with madeline albright on npr this morning. she said the clinton administration was in negotiations with north korea and its neighbors at the end of his term, and that the bush team was brought up to date on all of it during the changeover - but they dropped the negotiations. the reason they gave was "the policy has changed" - and one can't help but think that this was just one more situation where the bush people were determined _not_ to do whatever the clinton people did. the fact that north korea was a continuing threat, and that continuing the negotiations might have continued backing the north away from nuclear development, and increased the security of south korea and japan, probably never entered their minds. if the other guy was doing it, it must be wrong, seems to be the idea. the world is really too complex to think one guy can come up with all the answers.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 8:30 am
by Murray M. Lee
There seems to be quite a few comparisons between the Roman Empire and the U.S. on this board.

There are a few differences though. Notably, one was an empire and the other's a nation-state.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 7:06 pm
by Prankster
Well, the Roman Empire was once the Roman Republic...a democratic nation-state. Maybe we're worried that we're about to enter Phase Two.

The US and Roman Empire

PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 9:37 pm
by Rampantmouse
Actually, if you want a situation like the Fall of the Roman Empire, all you need to do is look at Europe. They have been steadily declining in military and economic strength. Their "European Union" replicates all the flaws of the U.S. Articles of Confederation that predated our Constitution. Like the Roman Empire, the EU "expansion" is going to be directing ever greater percentages of their income towards the 'barbarian frontier' of Eastern Europe at a time when Western Europe is least able to defend itself or economically compete with the emerging powers on their borders.

If you want to look for the rise of a new super power, Eastern Europe, freed from the shackles of communism, is a fertile ground.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 1:40 pm
by sun tzu
Eastern Europe, the next superpower? Not anytime soon. They're poor, disorganized, conflicted, etc...
If the superpower of the following decades won't be America, then I'm beting on China. It has immense potential, if it could just improve on its system (hopefully making it less liberticide).
Of course, if another power comes up with Von Neumann technology first, then I'd bet on them! :wink:

PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2003 2:57 pm
by mouse
ok, i'll bite - what's von neumann technology?

and i would tend to vote for china as well, seeing as it already has nukes and an army, and is working on a strong economy. and one can hope, with continued interaction with the outside world, it might develop a less reactionary leadership - it would be a pity to go back into the same old cold war scenario...

China already made a fatal mistake

PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2003 7:59 pm
by Rampantmouse
Actually, China already made a fatal mistake that will prevent them from becoming a super power. Several years back, their government-controlled health system decided to cut a few corners. They did a massive blood-drive, paying up to the equivilant of a week's wages for blood donations. Then, after processing, they mixed the resulting blood products together for easy storage/distribution. As a result, Aids as well as countless other blood-borne diseases infected the entire blood supply which was distributed throughout the country. As a result - skyrocking disease rates. Lacking the resources to actually treat all the new AIDs cases created, doctors were instructed to 'make up' imaginary diseases to tell people they had to avoid a potentially catatrophic backlash. The rise of the new religious movement that is being brutally oppressed can be traced back to its origin as an 'alternative' form of spiritual healing adopted by the untreated victims of this disaster.

Socialism/Communism and reality

PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2003 6:33 am
by Hoomi
Well, being the new guy and all, I'm going to stay out of the political side of this debate. I've found that getting into serious political debates tends to be an exercise in irritating people, and I really don't want to wear out my welcome before I reach even 10 posts.

What I did want to comment on is that, in theory, communism/socialism sounds like a good system. In practice, though, it fails under the same pressure that plagues most systems: Human vice. A capitalistic system tends to work better because it plays to the human vice of greed. I.E., I work harder, I produce a better product, I make more money. IN a pure communistic system, the theory is everyone works for the greater good of all, everyone receives what they need to survive. Not necessarily what they want, but what they need. Exactly how Socialism and Communism compare or differ, I'm not too sure, but the failing of both is the human desire to acquire.

I've seen it in practice in the U.S. work environment. I work in a Union shop. Now, before I go on, let me say that the unions have done many good things for the worker, both here in the U.S. and abroad. But they've also introduced a "socialistic" system into the work place, and in many cases, to the detriment of the overall good. When I first started in my job, nearly 22 years ago, I started at the bottom of the pay scale. My job had a pay range, and periodically my job performance would be reviewed by my supervisor. If I was doing a good job (and seriously, we were appraised rather fairly, in my opinion) I was given a raise and moved up through the pay grade. Those who "slacked off" or caused problems didn't get raises. We had incentive to make ourselves a more valuable asset to the company. A few years after I started, though, the Union argued that performance reviews were "favoritism" (how odd... that the company would favor employees who actually did a good job over the slackers who did little more than occupy a chair and collect a paycheck), and performance reviews were done away with. Everyone suddenly went straight to the top of the pay grade. Now, everyone in a particular job classification gets the exact same pay, regardless of years worked or effective ability to get the job done. In the process, one of the incentives for doing a good job was eliminated. Work your butt off, and get the exact same pay as the guy who sits around and does little. If the Company tries to fire the slacker, the Union goes to bat for him and gets his job back, with pay for the time he was out. It really makes it hard to stay motivated under such conditions.

The Socialist countries such as the USSR and China discovered the same thing. While the Soviet Union collapsed, and the former Soviet Republics are now going through some rather painful and turbulent transitional stages back to a more capitalistic system, China is relaxing its socialist grip on its industrial base. Private companies are being allowed to incorporate and operate in China, without the typical bureaucratic suffocation that the socialized companies had to deal with. One such company is the Jinyin Music company, producing a line of musical instruments. ( ) I have one of their flutes. I paid $120 U.S. for it brand new, including shipping from a band supply house here in the U.S. It's a great beginner flute, fully functional and with good sound through all three octaves, capable of taking a student through many years of lessons. The company is making a good product, because their personal success depends on it.

The flip side of the Socialist question is found in the following article:

For all the faults of our current system, we in the "free world" still have the right to SAY (in voice or print) that we disagree with our Governments. If I dislike what the President or Congress is doing, I can express that opinion without fear that I will be denounced and sequestered away in a miserable prison camp. So far, that is still true whether a Democrat or a Republican is in office, and whether the Demos or the Repubs are in control of the Congress.

Folks like Ian are free to use allegory or satire to make commentary on what is happening in the World, as (far as I know) Canada also allows a freedom of dissent. Such is important, because Governments are only human, and subject to the same problem we all have of making mistakes. Sadly, their mistakes affect a LOT more people, but hopefully having the free voice of differing opinions helps our Governments make better decisions. It is important to all of us to be willing to look at opposing points of view, because it forces us to examine our own more carefully to be sure that what we are basing ours on is sound logic and solid data. I may not have all the information needed to form the best conclusion, I may not have seen another possible solution to a problem. Another point of view may not change my mind, nor help me, but if I cannot listen to it cordially, I'm already in trouble.

Just my .02 worth.