A Change of Heart

As recently as yesterday, I was wallowing in my depression.

I know, you’re an asshole and you don’t want to hear about my problems. Well, I’m not talking about my problems here, am I you orange-cockdick-palm-oil-loving, hypocritical cunt?

Sorry for that outburst. Seriously, it’s people like you who make me think there is no hope for the world. And now I’m one of you. I hate myself, because I am you, and I hate you.

And I have decided that this is enough of that. Enough of that miserable depressed bullshit. I was of the mindset that I was going to leave politics forever, because it was politics that made me so depressed.

Then I was listening to the song “SMILE,” by K’naan yesterday while I was driving home on the freeway and I had a good long listen to the lyrics. Whereas before I had been hearing the lyrics about how life is all just violence and terror, I had never really been hearing the main idea of that song. The crux of it.

The idea of that song is basically JUST SMILE. No matter what is happening. I don’t think I ever knew really what that meant when I first heard the song when it came out. But now, I think I do.

I think I’m going to go back to university and back into political science because I want to help change the world. That’s the reason why I declared as a Political Science student in my Freshman year, and as a member of the program in my Sophomore year. I wanted to help change the world. Only now, after having sunk down the hole, I know that I will never give up until I get that degree. I will never give up until I am digging toilets with my own two hands for villages that need them, until I am getting a traffic light built in an area that needs it, until I am taking big money out of politics, until I am myself standing in the capitol building talking for twelve hours about drones.

That still doesn’t stop me from being a lazy fuck. I just hope that I never have to go back on my principles.

And The Dragon Goes To Sleep Again: the character and nature of the USA as a warfighting nation in turbulent times.

Bald Eagle

It is when your breath fogs in front of your face, when icicles form at the end of your beard, and when your nostrils feel dry and caked. It is when your adrenaline is pumping, and your hands are shaking. It is when the sweat beads in drones off the surface of your face. It is when your way is lit by the mechanical eyes of your infrared night vision.

This is no excursion into the wastelands of the standard alpine ski resort. This is the here, and the now. This is where good men go to keep bad men from killing them, and where bad men go to kill good men. This is 3am in the mountains of Afghanistan, and four marines low crawling through God‘s own shit and piss to face on an army of Taliban fighters a thousand strong. This is high noon in the arid plateaus of the Sudan, where the African Union stands out manned and outgunned by the ever-powerful Joseph Kony and his army of child soldiers. This is the lonely and desolate streets of Northern Colombia, where a few powerful rebels are fighting tyranny both in the government and in the drug cartels.

What I am describing is the destination called the warzone.

There is a certain type of person who is bread for war. His skin is made of steel, and his bones are unbreakable. And his heart is indelible. He raises his head to the clouds and shouts out to his maker, I am invincible!

It has been over a decade since the start of the American invasion into Afghanistan. The reasons that they gave us for this war, as always throughout history, seemed good enough to us at the time but are now viewed as bullshit by the majority of the insane. I read a speech by Howard Zinn that was addressed to the Boston College in 1999 that lays out every reason that we should never go to war, and that patriotism is not synonymous with the military. First time I’ve ever heard it put quite like that. I have always operated under the base assumption that they went hand-in-hand. Again in 2001, shortly after the fall of the Twin Towers Howard Zinn was back at Boston College again telling us that war isn’t the answer and that people needed to leave aside their base emotions and look at things from a logical perspective. That we didn’t have to fight in this war if we didn’t want to, because we don’t have to do what we’ve always done. I’ve been thinking these insurrectionist thoughts myself many times over the past few years. But I’ve come to understand that war is engraved into human beings by their nature, and that gives me the ability to be a soldier.

Carry a man on a boat. Get pushed out of a perfectly good airplane. Always roll into the suck with your barrel pointed forward. These are the aspirations of the combat soldier. To be able to be a man who never needs sleep, a man who can kill without making a single sound.

America has always (always being besides the Franklinian Turkey-lovers) represented itself via the image of the Bald Eagle. This majestic animal is extremely territorial. It has an eyesight that can spot a salmon in the current from 600 feet in the sky. In the Gaulic Wars, Ceaser was represented by the ferocious Eagle. It was a symbol of his power and his might. A large golden eagle was the statue that led Ceaser into Rome to take over the city for himself.

When you look at a topographic map of the same area, a warzone really doesn’t look like anything but what it is – the middle of nowhere, or the center of the world. It’s when you add people into the equation; oh, people. They kill others and make maps and talk about culture and talk about national pride. There is no such thing. There is the topography, everything else is simply an idea created by human beings. It is those ideas that we fight for, it is those ideas that we die for, and it is those ideas that we kill for.

Ideas built the Vatican. Ideas started the American Revolution. Ideas led to men landing on the moon, and the construction of the Panama Canal. Ideas can bring human beings to their greatest heights.

But they can also bring us to our deepest lows. Ideas invented the coal mine. Ideas invented the strip mine. Ideas invented the oil refinery. Ideas invented Standard Oil, and Sanford Dole. Ideas brought James Cook to Hawaii. And the English to Ireland. Ideas, aside from monies, are our greatest curse and our greatest gift.

The question that stands before us is one of a hefty consequence, and the deliberation will take its toll. I’m not exactly sure I’ve figured it out yet, which is rare for me in a blog post. We ask ourselves today “What is the nature of America?”

Is America like that of an Eagle? A ferocious predator of the sky of whom fear is non-existent. Is that us? The Great White of the skies? Are people looking to the heavens because they see our drones coming for them, or are they looking to the sky because they see America coming for them? I can not hardly predict the answer, but I can always ask more questions.

What the Hell Is A First World Problem?

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I was recently involved in a conversation that revolved around my overall rhetorical question “what the hell is a first world problem?” Expecting a more intellectual response, I was not delighted to hear that one of my friends interpreted it literally. I was minorly annoyed by their demotion of my intelligence and said so in a manner of whit. Hopefully it didn’t blow over their head.

But I was even more overly perplexed when the response of someone whom I consider sort of a contemporary of mine, used the iPhone as indicitive of socio-economic status. And they clearly defended their position. I tried to convey the notion that it was not so, that even though there are millions of starving people in Africa, many of them have cellular phones and some of them even have iPhones. They called me obtrusive. That hurts.

Obviously, my opinions are not meant for simple three minute conversations, or should be discussed at the dinner table, because twice this week I have been labeled a fool and ridiculed because of my peculiar way of bringing everything together. People get impatient with my cyclical nature of countering their every argument with a deliberated and heated statement. They all together get up and leave, causing me to be the loser of the debate. Because everyone knows that he who does not debate is the winner.

Of course I have considered their condition. That tends to happen when they try to shoot at you. Of course I have deliberated about those less fortunate then myself. That tends to happen when you spend evenings without food. Of course I have thought about drug dealers – that tends to happen when one lives down the street.

It’s all the same shit. Greed, corruption, lies. Playing a trickle-down effect. Just because I haven’t been to AFRICOM doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen the same shit. Due to OPSEC I can not release any more information on this subject.

But damn, when I’m talking about the hilarity I find in certain peoples, I’m not going to entertain poor arguments. If your argument is flawed, I am going to tell you. Using the iPhone as representative of socio-economic status simply is not feesable. Their is no such thing as a first-world problem.

There are problems of certain scale, but there are certainly no such thing as “third world problems” either. There are just problems. Problems exist. Anyone can face the same problem, and by the stroke of a pen or the firing of a weapon, entire nations can catapult themselves into states of unrest or eternal utopia. The only difference between the “north” and the “south” are the abilities of people in those places to overcome their systemic problems. Not their individual problems from person to person, but their systemic problems on a national scale. People in the USA have overcome problems not unlike those faced by the inhabitants of Somalia, but due to innovation and thrift, America has prevailed where Somalia is just catching up. (And yes, I also know about Somalia – I am actually one of the WWU IR Department’s resident thinkers on the subject.)

On Referendum 74

“AN ACT Relating to providing equal protection for all families in Washington by creating equality in civil marriage and changing domestic partnership laws, while protecting religious freedom… BE IT ENACTED BY THE STATE OF WASHINGTON…” – Referendum 74

This is a time of new beginnings. Am I, as a Catholic, supposed to go along with my church in its every decision even though all evidence presented points to the best decision being a contradictory action? This is the age-old question of the faith. This is why Martin Luther protested against the church and caused centuries of bloody battles between the Catholic Church and the dozens of breakaway churches now known as “Protestant.” This is why Galileo was put under house arrest. This is why Ricardo Fontanna put on the star of David and sacrificed himself in Auswitz.

As we have seen from these numerous examples, however, the only way to go about making positive change within the institution of faith is to act accordingly. To rash of an action could be seen as heresy, not founded in reality. But any action taken that is not bold enough will never change anything, no matter how difficult it was for the individual. Faith is very much a team effort.

And Referendum 74 has been at the forefront of the fight between antiquated institutional religion and the concept of creative license and valid interpretation. Maybe it is high time the church got off its high horse and accepted everyone for who they were as individuals, rather than trying to follow in the metaphorical footsteps of Stalin and rid the world of its enemies. Catholicism has always been considered the leading doctrine on institutionalized religion and how it should be enacted, kind of like Apple is in the mobile phone world, and America is in the military world.

 

What Is It Good For?

The way street light plays off shadow in the dark is like any army fighting in a land unknown. Does a street lamp cast a gaze that can see into the soul of an individual? Or does it simply gaze upon its surface, illuminating its physical fallacies?

In the world of war, there is a damned hard line between scanning your sector and turn-and-burn. As if anyone but a true patriot were to know the difference, Washington likes to pretend in all its CSPAN glory that there are no consequences for their actions. These are not the men and women in the shit hole thousands of miles away. They do not understand until they’ve been to the Sandbox and have seen death up close. But I shall not argue. A wise man once told me that a bystander would not know the difference between the wise and the foolish when they are in the heat of argument. This story, however, is one not uncommon to the way of modern man.

Fuck.

Deal me my cards as they’ve been dealt and let me go sorting. Sometimes I feel like a smashed bag of rotten carrots – food for the fodder. As if my intangible value flew out the window the second I was stabbed by Satan at birth. My realism gives your liberalism an erection.

War is good for nothing. I say this with all of the fibers of belief in my body. War is a horrible institution. War kills so much. War bleeds dry even the poorest of the pilgrims, and sends forth children to die.

We are facing an enemy today that is widely accepted. They are well equipped, ready to die, and tough as fuck. The thing is though, this is their literal backyard. They will fight to defend themselves and their livelihoods into infinity. Just as we in America have in our history.

In the 1700s we were extremely disenfranchised as a peoples with the system of tyranny that had been served upon us by our English overlords. We fought back – one last final medieval war for honor. America, it might be said among scholars, is the world’s democratic experiment. But we are using it incorrectly. The victims have become the victors. The oppressed have become the oppressors.

And yet even through all of that haze I still have to follow my orders to the best of my ability. I shoot when they say shoot. I jump when they say jump. I break shit when they say break shit. I am a bad ass motherfucker. Combat engineers hooah!

Have you ever heard the words “shoot to kill?” Do you know why we have used these words since the dawn of time? It’s because an injured person now becomes our patient, our responsibility. It doesn’t matter who they were in their life. Our primary duty becomes their safety and security. We leave NO ONE behind, not even the enemy. This is why we shoot to kill.

Treating war in this manner; like it is some kind of gentlemen’s sport instead of the shitty fucking thing it truly is – its like paying a whore just to go to the movies with you. War is hell, and the more we realize this, the easier it will be to end war. Because as any good moral person should know – hell on earth is a bad idea. What is war good for? Nothing.

Erin Gobragh

[Cave Hill. Belfast. County Antrim, Ireland] (LOC)
[Cave Hill. Belfast. County Antrim, Ireland] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)
Someone recently asked me, dude if you are so friggin Irish, why don’t I see anything about Ireland on your friggin blog?

Yes, I am a downright Irish Republican. Ask anybody who really knows me well, and they will tell you EXACTLY how I feel about Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, the Catholic Church, the Clans of Ireland, and the wars. I have a distinct and unwavering view concerning each of these topics. Which is probably why I haven’t written much about the subject before now. What you must know is that I write about things that are not only on my mind, but also on the minds of those who I perceive to be the “intelligent class.”  If this blog were 100% personal, of which it is not, than I would write about things like how I met my girlfriend, what I had for lunch, and why pigs can fly. Because they can fly, just not physically. But I do not write about these things because they are my own. They are personal. They are what make me an enigma.

Ireland, however much I believe it belongs to me, does not fit into the same category. I guess that subconsciously I have always wanted it to. I have always wanted to let my identity be defined by my affiliations, and it was my secret to share with only my closest friends. But now the desire to see my opinions concerning these subject matters on my blog has been noted verbally. I have been tried, and I have been found guilty of secrecy.

Where is that line between small time blogger and psychopath? Is it hidden deep within the context of an argument presented? Does my audience count my fallacies as they appear? These questions still occupy a great deal of space within the void that is my mind, and yet I have elected to appeal to the wishes of my followers.

This will be the next laborious activity of my blog. I will attempt to put into word form all of my thoughts concerning the Republic of Ireland. The project to be undertaken will be quite extensive, and It will require the creation of a whole new page. And so it begins.

The Walmart Protests: I Am Walmart

In the Political Science discipline, we like to call Walmart a “multinational corporation.” These entities, not unlike Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) such as the UN, have a direct impact on the affairs of individuals and governments throughout the world.

Nobody can forget the infamous South Park episode in which the Comedy Central television series spoofed Walmart and the Matrix. The episode was in response to many people’s concerns that Walmart was outproducing local, small-town retailers and putting them out of business. Walmart has come a long way on a productivity scale since then.

Walmart is the nation’s largest consumer of solar power products. The president of Walmart was invited to sit in at the most recent Clinton Global Initiative conference, along with influential leaders like Barrack Obama and Muhammed Morsi. Walmart is a key player concerning trade negotiations between the USA and the FSM (Mexico), particularly concerning tomatoes, which could inadvertently tilt the outcome of the US presidential election in November. Needless to say, Walmart is now a key player in Domestic and International Relations.

The one thing nobody could have predicted was a strike by Walmart employees. I don’t think I’m saying anything beyond what should be considered common knowledge here when I say that Walmart is known for scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to their employees. They have always had a great reputation for hiring the types of people that really couldn’t get a job anywhere else. These include: the overly obese, the elderly, the disabled, veterans, and run-of-the-mill idiots. Basically the opposite of Nordstrom. Everyone knows that’s how they charge such low prices.

This is why I don’t see the protest as applicable. My message to the protestors involved: prove to me you could get a job anywhere else, and then you can complain about your wages. Until then, you’re just pulling tricks out of your ass.

The Wise and The Mature

Beyond the subjective or objective points of view, there is something called the “third-party” perspective. As goes Rome, so they say, so goes the rest of the world.

Tuesday was my first time attending the local Boy Scout Troop meeting in quite some time. I have been off-island and across the country for some time, and I thought I’d take some time to visit my old troop. The short and sweet of it is; Troop 57 has seen better days. The leadership of the troop is in chaos. The older boys thought it to be okay that they wander off and do their own thing. The only thing that got accomplished at the meeting was rank advancement for the younger boys. The younger boys followed the example of the older boys and became extremely uncaring to any sense of order or uniformity. And all of the parents were in the back room, planning the way things should be done. The meeting itself reminded me more of a petting-zoo than anything else. I am trying to convey that in the most obdurate way possible.

But being there made me consider the fact that maybe not all young boys can automatically switch between the extremely professional and self-reliant attitude of a Senior Patrol Leader and the greatly playful recklessness of a fifteen year old kid. Maybe that skill has to be taught by someone who has had experience with the way a Boy Scout Troop is supposed to be run. So, being in the fact that I will only be on island for another week, I made my observations perfectly clear. I called the older scouts out on their mistakes, and told the younger scouts that a Boy Scout meeting should be planned well in advance. I will not let my troop suffer the same fate as many other troops around the country. We were the first troop on South Whidbey, and I’ll be damned if all of my work as the Senior Patrol Leader years ago goes to waste.

This meeting got me thinking about something of a much larger, more global consequence than a simple rural Boy Scout meeting. That is the role that maturity and wisdom play in every aspect of life on the world geoeconomical stage. My troop is now become a statistical representation of the whole. I should only be led to believe, based on this elementary idea of fractal telemetry, that there are failing scout troops all around the world, and that my troop is not the only Scout Troop on the face of this earth suffering from the same fate. In fact, if it is true that my troop dimensionally represents every other collaborative delegation on this earth – then does it also represent the failures of our current US Congress? What about the incompetence of leadership in other countries like Pakistan, China, and Russia? Is someone like me perceived to be the beacon of light that is Manny Pacquiao in the Philippines, or am I more like Chair Obama of the RNC, not doing a damn thing to make the slightest difference in the world?

Which takes us to the Middle East. Yes, I totally just went there. I am not going to try to summarize the middle east in any sort of condescending fowl wordplay. Wordplay, as you may have noticed, is what I deem my playground. Worldplay is allegory. But, in short of astounding you, I inform you of the state of the nation of Islam today: IN TURMOIL. One could readily say that politically, the events unfolding across the whole of CENTCOM, AFRICOM, and PACOM, represent something of a great difference of opinion. Something of a petting zoo, much like my troop.

In summary, the world is rank with immaturity. People jumping to conclusions whilst failing to recognize the problem from someone else’s point of view. Sometimes, I wish POV wasn’t just a term coined by the porn industry. I want the idiotic classes of the world to step out of their boxes for just one fucking minute and see the world from someone else’s eyes. It’s like the whole world is playing a game of one-sided chess. That’s how you loose.

The Dogs Who Defend Us

 

There are 13 qualities that the United States of America seeks in each of its candidates for the Foreign Service Officership. Those 13 qualities, known as the “13 Dimensions” are the guiding light of every US Ambassador. They have to deal with the individual’s awareness of the changing world, and their ability to think quickly in an environment that might not be all that “friendly.”

That’s the definition that you will find on the Foreign Service website. The sleek, dramatic, exciting elements of performing a duty for your country, but the realities of being a US Ambassador to a foreign country or even working in the same building, can be quite a bit less appealing to most people. As with the events of the past few days, this has once again been syphoned through the collective cognitive judication of this country. Being an Ambassador isn’t always fun and games.

I’ve always had it in the back of my mind to apply for the foreign service when I graduate from college. I think it’d it be a lot of fun to be assigned a post in some foreign capital like Paris or Islamabad or Juba. To wake up each morning and know that what I do that day is going to change someone’s life. I want to help people, I honestly and genuinely do, and I think being an ambassador to a foreign country would be an amazing way to accomplish that goal.

But, for those of you seeking to be a member of the foreign service, I have a question. How do you respond under pressure? I’m not talking about a little stress over a foreign policy, I’m talking about having a gun held to your head. How do you respond to that type of intense pressure? Do you freeze? Do you fight? Do you keep a level head? Or do you even know? I pose this inquiry because of the realities of life as an ambassador. You are going to be the voice of this nation in a foreign country, and the advisor to the president regarding that country. You will be either the beacon of light that is our nation, or the tyrannical warmonger that is also our nation. Can you deal with people hating you or loving you simply because you belong to this nation? If you can, great!

Have you ever had malaria? Have you ever had to take a shit in the woods? Have you ever been bit by a snake? These are all things that come with the territory, believe it or not. They are rare, but they do happen. You must realize that being an ambassador isn’t always the idealistic career path that you thought it would be. Let me not, however, deter you from your decision. I’m sure your hangnail can wait.

Zoon Politikon

Man is a political animal. The saying has been around for centuries ever since Socrates said that about mankind. Except, what most historians have urged the public masses to realize is that Socrates lived a long time ago. Not like when people say an old movie came out a long time ago, but he lived a REALLY long time ago. So, it’s not hard for a simple idea to get miscommunicated in the generational divide. Not to mention the fact that he spoke Greek.

So, forgive me if I break in here and say that your idea of animalistic behavior is a lot different to the peoples of Ancient Greece. To understand at all what it means to be a citizen of Ancient Greece, you must first and foremost forget everything that you know. Forget about technology; clay pots and textile looms are about as exciting as it gets. Forget about cutting-edge science; arithmetic is considered futuristic. Forget about religion; Jesus Christ hasn’t been born, the Prophet Muhammed hasn’t walked the deserts of Arabia, and nobody here has even heard of Tibet. The majority of the population lives without water in their house, and deification is much more natural here. To put it bluntly, the people of Ancient Greece, as compared to today, live “like animals”. So, in seeing a lot less of a difference between animals and humans then we do today, the way animals lived seemed a lot less violent to the average citizen or serf.

Here’s another way to say it, which conveys a more simplistic translation of the idea of Zoon Politikon. “Man is political by his very nature.” Man thinks politically. This message conveys neither brute strength or violence, as animals were not thought of as so cruel creatures back then. Plus, it was all written in Greek, which might have something to do with it.