Sunday, October 23, 2011

"I don't dance."

Remember that great response delivered by Harrison Ford to the conniving commander-in-chief in  "Clear and Present Danger"? His character, Jack Ryan, is being positioned as the fall guy in an illegal covert war in Colombia. President Bennett asks Ryan to take the fall, a.k.a., "do the ol' Potomac two-step." Ryan's defiant retort made for a memorable scene.

While I'm no Ryan (or Harrison Ford, thankfully, as I loathe crowds), I've finally reached a similar point. I'm not going to gnaw on this stale, Orwellian loaf another day and feign fullness.

Debt is prosperity. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Eat to get slimmer? I'll opt for the honor of starvation, thank you.

What has just occurred in Libya is the bloody cherry on top of Iraq. For all his tyranny and flamboyance, his brutality at home and formerly abroad, what clear and present danger did Moammar Howeveryouspellit pose to the United States of America? Surely, it had to be weapons of mass destruction.

Well, no. He actually capitulated on them in December of 2003. Therefore, he not only had no WMD, he also lacked the nearly infinitely powered 1:72 scale Piper Cubs necessary for getting them across the Atlantic Ocean and into a major metropolitan center in the United States.

Posing no threat whatsoever to the nation, why, then, did the U.S. intervene? If it was for humanitarian reasons, as suggested, we should be auto-penning a very long letter of apology to Sudan and Rwanda. As for the expenditure, 900 billion dollars would have certainly gone a long way on our shores (barring any further adventurism in Africa, of course). 

As is often the case, the answer is both complex and simple: The international oil market is funded by the U.S. dollar, or "petrodollar" as it is commonly referred to. In 2000, Saddam Hussein announced that he was eschewing this standard for the newly-launched Euro. This made some sense, for who doesn't wish to receive the greatest sum in return for their most valuable commodity? Heck, that's the American way. Fast-forward six years, however.

Similarly, Khaddafi wanted to move from the increasingly worthless dollar to gold, in the form of a united African gold dinar. This made perfect sense, both for the increased profit and the collective benefits to be reaped by all African nations. I believe it would be pollyannaish to suggest that any such change would have yielded better living conditions for the people, however. All they would have seen in Libya, for instance, is the outside of an even bigger tent.

With Tunisia, Egypt and Libya now altered, it's pretty clear who's next on the chopping block, and I'm very interested to see how Iran and Pakistan react. There are already seeds being sown. I'm not deluded enough to think that any of these changes instantly translate into more security in the region, and one needn't dip their toes any deeper than this to gauge the water.

What I'm discovering in my hackneyed research is that traditional notions like "good guys" and "bad guys" don't apply in this arena. Today's friend is tomorrow's tyrant. What surgeon lets a hemorrhage flow? Make no mistake, oil is America's blood, so wouldn't any insecurity surrounding it comprise a threat?

Had Libya succeeded, its people could have prospered under just and fair leadership, but they opted for the fiat standard and Sharia law instead. They executed the monster who was laying the foundations for their own welfare (and the bullet hole in his temple should have been a dead giveaway, if you'll pardon the pun).

What will their gratitude be to the West? It remains to be seen, but a better bellwether there is not. 

If and when the dollar collapses entirely, all of Africa would have remained secure. I'd be paying at least $6.50 for a gallon of gasoline, however, and I'm already limiting my travels at half of that. But this is precisely what Obama's Department of Energy is hoping for, so round and round we go:
"Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe," Mr. Chu, who directs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in September.
What I have found equally as troubling is the absence of indignation. Where are the international human rights groups denouncing the violations of the Geneva Convention? Where is Michael Moore? Where are Sean Pean and Susan Sarandon? The legions of protesters around the globe? It's a stunning lack of consistency and integrity.

It's the same "partisanship trumps principles" mindset which permits $500 million in Solyndra graft and looks the other way when Holder's Department of Justice arms the Mexican drug cartels. The troubled throngs? If I'm a "teabagger", are they fleabaggers? Apparently occupation is acceptable now (though I'll give a pass to the Mets fan, who is rightly getting his @#$% frustrations out on that Amazin' drum. You go, brother, you go.)

They should be in Washington, though, not on Wall Street. It's akin to going to the Superbowl and rooting against the football. The financial sector can only do what it does because the government allows it. We The People are the government! Assuming elections are still in vogue, why not take off the emperor's new clothes and enact change where it can truly be enacted? Like Libya's deposed dandy, however, they're dressed to kill and guess who's dyin'?

Monday, October 10, 2011

"Pleasures remain, so does the pain..."

Does God break His own laws? Certainly He could, for anything is possible, but would He? If so, why? Equally compelling would be the consequences.

Mark tells us that a house divided cannot stand. Similarly, Matthew asserts that not even the slightest stroke of God's quill will ever disappear from His law. In keeping with this are the laws we've subsequently discovered, such as Geometry, Astrophysics and never making the first out at third base.

To answer my own question, God tells us repeatedly in His book that He keeps His word. But here's where I'm vexed: John states that in the beginning, there was the Word. This is the same beginning described in Genesis, naturally, in which we're told of the limitless nothing. No Earth, no moon, no sun, no stars. Nothing.

He then spoke and creation commenced. Sound can most assuredly affect matter, but one of the rules inherent to His work is that it cannot travel in a vacuum. What, then, was His word comprised of?

Voyager communicated via radio signals, for instance (give a listen sometime; it's fascinating to know that something wrought by human hands could be so intricate, so inconceivably far away). From a different perspective, you're reading this right now via a global network of fiberoptic cables. Laser lights are flashing bits 'n bytes at rates of speed that would make soon-to-be Milwaukeean Jose Reyes envious. In each scenario, however, the communicator relies on the signal being received. Without this acknowledgement, the transmission is essentially superfluous.

In the Great Architect's case, there still wasn't anything to communicate with, and yet His word did not go unheeded. It was uttered in an environment devoid of molecules to vibrate in reaction to His sound wave, but The Message somehow carried. What was the medium?

Thought, perhaps? We're created in His image, after all, and our thinking shapes our world, both inside and out. "Be all of one mind", I'm frequently reminded.

Speaking of the East, another not-so-Amazin' summer has mercifully drawn to a close. With only so much leisure time to go around, I decided in July to loosen the hold this vexed baseball team has had on me. I'll ever bleed orange and blue, but after Wainwright's curve, Collapse I, Collapse II: The Reckoning, The 2009 MRI-palooza, Whatever Happened in 2010 and this year's equally underwhelming version/billion-dollar lawsuit, I'm exhausted.

As Jon Stewart points out, the prospects for next year aren't exactly glowing, either. While I won't say I rue the day I inextricably bound my soul to the Mets, it does serve as an abject lesson in self-destructive behavior. For some people, it may be a syringe. For others, a bottle. Me? It's missed cut-off men, tender hamstrings and one very bad pitching staff. When a leisure activity ceases to be enjoyable, it's time to cry step away.

In brighter news, Peter Jackson and crew are well underway down under. The dwarves look absolutely incredible, and it's amazing to see their respective personalities portrayed in expressions and garb. A young Legolas is set to return, and Evangeline Lilly is learning Sindarin between pushes. It should go without saying, but I've never been more eager to see a movie. 

Always one to split hairs, I have to wonder why New Zealand isn't referred to as "down under down under", as it's actually further south than Australia.