Things I Do Not Understand

In this post I would like to explore more than a few current issues which I simply cannot understand.  To me, it seems the more I travel, read and learn the less I am able to make sense of what goes on in the world.

If find that those who are extremely confident in their opinions, ideologies and beliefs are the ones who know the least.  More often than not, they simply have not been exposed to anything else and should a glimmer of a different thought or idea be presented they already have a plethora of arguments against the differing idea ready at hand.  A simple metaphor would be one who has only sampled chocolate ice cream and insist that it is the best possible ice cream and therefore there is no need to try any other flavors.

To compound this problem and continue the metaphor, we only remember what the chocolate ice cream of today tastes like.  We really might not remember well what the ice cream of 10 years ago tasted like or what ingredients were used but since we have always liked chocolate we are quite certain that the chocolate ice cream of 10 years ago was delicious, tasted just like it does today and will continue to be delicious well into the future.

However, some of the population will be curious and read up on different types of flavors and maybe even watch a documentary or two about them without ever actually tasting them.  Then they go on TV and claim to be an expert on all the other flavors and express their conclusions (good or bad) to the audience of chocolate only eaters.

As simple and ridiculous as this metaphor is, I find that it fits quite well in what we are exposed to on a daily basis in our society.  There are thousands of talking heads with all types of opinions on just about every subject, yet all they have ever tasted is chocolate.  These preachers knowing that they are broadcasting to an audience of chocolate eaters know that they have very limited leeway in expressing the positive aspects of other forms of ice cream and it would be much easier just to denounce any and all other flavors.

Now, let’s get into real events.

I.  Politics

A.)  Republicans

The Republicans have recently taken over the Congress and are the talk of the media right now.  What I cannot understand is that even though everyone is pretty much in agreement that the administration of George W. was a complete disaster, the US public has handed the keys right back to the Republicans.  Now, I am not saying you have to be a supporter of the Democrats, I have a high opinion of Libertarians which could be considered to the right of Republicans on things like fiscal policy so it is not a matter of my personal ideology.  Besides, as we do in this blog, we try to keep an open mind at all times and realize we are in trouble if we let one ideology or the other gain too strong of a foothold.  But simply from reading a massive amount of news and opinions on a daily basis I cannot understand how the Republicans could be re-elected.  From what I read, this is what they stand for.

1.  Pro-war

– The Republicans recently started two wars, one of which was started under false premises.  Now, I’m going to try to keep this short and run through a bit of history as well.

The Gulf of Tonkin – You may have not heard of this but it was the main reason for going to war in Vietnam.  In short, the US blamed the North Vietnamese for torpedoing the USS Maddox.  However, after documents became declassified it became apparent that the North Vietnamese were probably not involved at all (never been proven)

]t is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night. […] In truth, Hanoi’s navy was engaged in nothing that night but the salvage of two of the boats damaged on August 2

So the US goes through an awful war and it almost tears the nation apart.  What you may also not have read is Ho Chi Minh’s attempts to engage western powers to help him kick the French out of Vietnam.  As we all know, what the French did there was wrong and Vietnam simply seeking independence.  The US rebuffed him on this and then attacked.

So here we have an awful example of the US making a very big mistake and which remains a very large scar on the American psyche.

So what to do?  Well, repeat the mistake.

The Republicans under George W. start a war with Iraq based on WMD which they sell to the public as a reason for going to war.  As I mentioned, we all apparently have very short memories and have repeated history.  That is to say, starting a war based on false premises.  Yet, the government has convinced the public that it is “Protecting Our Freedoms!”

So now we come to the part I cannot understand.  In a society in which a decent amount of people attend university and read more than ever before, how could we let the government go to war on a lie and then continue to convince the people that it is in their best interest?

The trick is that this only seems to work for the Americans.  To get a clear view of the absurdity, simply replace America with another country and say the same thing.  Imagine France goes to war somewhere in Africa and millions of French people say “We have to do this to protect our freedoms!”  Then it sounds very silly.  So, why does this only work in America?

Now that the Republicans are back in power, I wonder which nation they will attack next?  It has been shown that anything can be made up as a justification and that a large amount of people will believe it.

Actually, I think the US finances are too strained to embark on any more adventuring so a new war will not happen anytime soon.  Yet, the fact remains that Republicans are a “pro-war” political party and millions of otherwise reasonable people elect them.

Again, you do not have to vote for Democrats, the Libertarians are solidly fiscally conservative, yet anti-war, but they do not win many votes.

2.  Climate Change

Being a reasonable person, I read a wide variety of opinions.  For things I do not understand I rely on sources that do know about such things.  What I find is that all the major respected publications confirm that climate change is real.

Those who do not agree simply point to snowfall and say “See, look at all this Global Warming!”  To me this sounds like the village idiot denying the existence of the sun when it is night time.

When I return to the respected publications for an answer to increased snowfall they say that weather patters will most likely be more severe due to the changes in temperature.  This sounds reasonable to me and I’m smart enough to understand that in regards to something as massive and complex as the environment things do not change overnight but gradually.  So to end this argument I can rely on one of two points of view.   Fox News and Republicans or respected scientists.  For me, the scientists win, for others, it is whatever Fox News tells them to believe and gets them angry about.

Yet, here is the point I really cannot understand.  The climate changers want to limit pollution right?  So would this make those who do not agree with global warming Pro-Pollution?  It is not as though they offer any solution and would actually prefer to pollute the atmosphere!  Like my metaphor of the chocolate eaters of today, they believe that by doing nothing everything will remain the same and even by adding much more pollution to the atmosphere, nothing will happen.  If you keep adding chocolate syrup to the ice cream, it will eventually just be syrup.  The climate change deniers however, would believe by continually adding syrup it will not add up and change their ice cream to goo.

3. Scorched Earth Policy

The Republicans have engaged in a tactic which was referred to as “Scorched Earth Policy.”  That is to say resisting everything and anything, even if beneficial to the nation, to deny President Obama any victory what so ever.

This was very clear when Republicans put up blocks to the START treaty with Russia.  For this one, I did not listen to the Democrats but instead to what our nations Generals were saying.  They were in support of the START treaty.  Since this is also an area I do not know much about, I have to decide which source I will rely on.  It seems to me the nations top Generals know a thing or two about the matter so I would agree with them on this topic.

What I cannot understand is how Republicans could be allowed to try and block an important aspect of our national security simply to gain a victory for themselves?  As for the sheep who watch Fox news, well, they will believe anything so I’ve tired of mentioning them.

It seems that anything and everything is acceptable to our political classes nowdays so long as it will lead to a victory even if it means harming the United States.  This leads me to my next point.

4. The Political Class

In a Democracy, one would think that we would have a wide variety of elected officials to represent the diverse views of the nation.  What seems to have happened however, is that all this power has been consolidated into not only (ONLY) two political parties, but a continuation of people from the same family.

The political class has become stronger and is often the sons and daughters of former political officials.  Their sole aim is not to make the USA stronger but simply to retain their elected seats!

Let me repeat that.  The purpose of our politicians is not to benefit the USA but simply to further their careers and keep their jobs!

In order to do so, they have to obey the overall political party and thus we end up with something like the Republicans who maintain a almost complete uniform view on a variety of issues.  One would think that within parties there would be a wide variety of views, but this is no longer the case.  Here is a brief Republican agenda

a. Pr0-war
b.  Anti-Environment
c. Anti- Middle Class
d. Anti – Immigration
e. Anti-tax (yet they tax anyway – Read My Lips!)

My question, is what will they actually do that is positive?  There is a feeling that they were voted in on a  fiscally conservative  agenda, but now we come to another point I cannot understand.

If Bill Clinton ended his term with a budget surplus, and a Republican George W. wasted the surplus but put us very deep in the hole, why would Republicans think this time is going to be any different?  Would the current deficit not be the fault of the Republicans?

In the world of American politics, it seems like a continual sort of “opposite day.”  They can put you deeply in debt but convince us they are against debt.  It’s like the credit card companies offering another credit card to help pay off the massive debt you owe on the other 10 cards from the same company.  This does not make any sense.

5. Immigration

– This one I really cannot understand.  The USA has always been a nation of immigrants.  If we look back there were the Chinese in San Francisco, who helped build the railroads, there was a great portion of America that was once Mexico and all the white people who live here had ancestors who were immigrants.

Yet it would seem that a certain portion of the population wants to keep things as they are right now.  This means, not letting many more people of color into the country.  There are many arguments but I get the nagging feeling this is what it boils down to.

If we think politically, it was under George W. that many were actually going to be awarded amnesty.  Yet, the white population is getting a bit concerned about all the people of color entering the country and have now told the Republican Party what to think.  Perhaps it is a bit taboo to say but the truth is, a certain amount of the white population wishes to remain with a majority white population and too many people of color scares them.  The truth hurts.

What I cannot understand is that a nation of immigrants has become anti-immigrant.  Again, it must be opposite day.

6.  War (part deux)

In every single conflict that ever was, there has always been a reason.  We look back at history and there are times (like Vietnam) when it was a very big mistake.  Yet, we are only able to identify mistakes after the fact and are not very good at stopping wars when we know they are a mistake (Iraq.)

Otherwise reasonable people become very excited and simply repeat the reasons given by the government for the war.  In America, these reasons are currently provided by the Republican party and their affiliate Fox News.

If we use the method employed by Glenn Beck, let us take a look at the Nazi Germany.  We all know this was very bad.  But how often have we reflected that these Nazis’ were made up of regular, ordinary Germans?  These people had families, enjoyed a good time and I find it hard to believe that they just woke up and one day wanted to kill people.

It took a demagogue like Hitler to get them aroused to do bad things.  I cannot understand how one man can control the minds of so many “ordinary” Germans and get them to commit atrocities.  I could not understand until I watched Fox News.  Fox news employs the same kind of tactics (fear, suspicion, hatred) to have the “ordinary” people vote Republican.  These Republicans can then push war on the people and many of them agree to it!

I guess the saying “You can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time,” is a very appropriate quote here.  The Republicans fooled a large majority of the people during George W’s administration.  What I cannot understand is that they have fooled them again and fooled enough of them to be re-elected to power!

On George W’s watch the following happend

1.  9-11
2. The economy collapsed
3.  Taxes were raised
4.  Two wars started and they never found Osama.

So how are they rewarded?  Well, they were sent to the metaphorical corner for a few years but eventually were able to convince everyone that it was the fault of Obama.  I cannot understand this.

All they had to do was employ simple catch phrases such as

1.  “On the wrong track”
2.  “Protect Freedoms”
3. “Support Troops”  – For a war they started.  Much better to support troops by bringing them back home.  
4. “The American People ___________”   (Enter any type of nonsense you wish)

So in conclusion, it would seem like the Republicans are my metaphorical chocolate eaters.  No matter what happens or how sick they become of chocolate, the chocolate eaters will still be eating chocolate.  They only know what the chocolate of today tastes like and tout Ronald Reagan as King Chocolate maker although they have forgotten that chocolate didn’t taste so good when he was in power (He was at 43% approval rating at one point)

So no, I simply cannot understand many things.  I read, travel and learn believing that there must be some complex, esoteric reason that I just cannot see.  However, I just come back to the same conclusion in that much of what happens in the world simply doesn’t make any sense.

No matter how fat and sick some people become of eating chocolate all of the time they will continue to eat it.  It is the only type of ice cream they have ever known and perhaps it is simply comforting to their psyche even though damaging to their health.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! (^.^)/