August 12th, 2014

#4328: And again, because Democrats want to make political points, a lot of people die.

Fall of Saigon.

Khmer Rouge.

Killing fields of Cambodia.

Pol Pot.

ISIS.

It was so important to Obama that he keep his campaign promise to get American troops out of Iraq, he announced it to the world that we'd be out completely by a certain date, and the criticisms of this stupid plan by smarter people were denounced as mere racism.

So the US got out on schedule, leaving a power vacuum, which has now been filled by ISIS. Yeah.

Much the same way, in the early 1970s, the Democrat party was insistent on not dignifying Nixon's advances in ending the conflict in Vietnam on terms that were acceptable to the US, the Democrats of today have managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory because it garnered them a few points with their die-hard supporters. And to hell with all the little brown people that the policy ends up killing, because after all they don't vote in our elections, now, do they?

So here we are with a bunch of dead or dying people, and Obama is continuing to laze around Washington, D.C., making his best possible effort at voting "present" in dealing with the crisis he himself was instrumental in creating.

It's not just that Obama's foreign policy is inept; it's cavalier. He doesn't care about the effects that his decisions have, as long as he gets what he wants. He doesn't fret over his bad decisions, because the consequences of his bad decisions don't have any effect on anyone he cares about. (Which is, not to put too fine a point on it, anyone besides himself and a few people close to him.)

The real problem is that there is no way for us to have left Iraq in any kind of condition to self-govern in a reasonable fashion. This kind of result was inevitable, because Iraq's culture is not founded on the egalitarian principles of western civilization. The conflict in Iraq is settling out along tribal boundaries, the same ones that it has occurred across for fifteen hundred years. Even splitting Iraq into three separate countries would not have solved this problem. In order for Iraq to remain relatively peaceful and democratic, we either would have had to station troops there ad infinitum, or else we would have had to accept an enormous body count in the pacification of the country and the elimination of all opposition. Neither alternative is attractive.

In order to end the conflicts in the middle east, it is necessary first to wipe out most of islam. Islam is the problem, and as long as islamists find it acceptable to settle their differences with violence, this kind of nonsense will continue. The only way to demonstrate that to islam is to kill all the hard-liners and fundamentalists, or at least to kill enough of them that the rest are scared straight.

This is, however, politically difficult, because it would mean an enormous body count, and it would consist of men, women, and children. Vietnam on steroids. I am certainly not comfortable with the idea of my country committing that kind of violence.

The other alternative is for the US to wash its hands of the middle east entirely and let them fight it out, to the last man if needed. This is what I advocate; the US should take its petrodollars and leave, and let the various factions of islam duke it out. We have enough oil, from domestic sources, that we don't need to buy oil from the middle east, and the severe reduction in American money flowing through arab hands will limit their ability to cause trouble for us. Meanwhile, the rest of the world will take up the slack, and there will be no shortage of foreign cash for the sheiks to dole out on the sly to this and that terror organization. Eventually there will be a clear winner; and if they are sophisticated enough for us to deal with, we can do that. Otherwise, if they cause us too much trouble, we can wipe their shit out without having to pussyfoot around.

It remains so that the only advantage conferred by the war in Iraq (starting in 2003) is that it focused the eyes of islamic terror on a place other than the United States. Instead of hitting targets here in the USA they concentrated on hitting targets in Iraq. They spent a lot of time, money, and energy on fighting the US military in Iraq, effort which otherwise would have been expended here. That is the sole good news that comes from the Bush Doctrine.

Having gone into Iraq, having brought down the Hussein government, we had an obligation to try to fix things, and we had an obligation to stay until the government could function well enough on its own that troops were no longer needed. That was going to take a lot of time, though, and even if Obama had waited until 2016 to pull out of Iraq, it would not have been long enough. To do it right would have taken decades. There's a precedent; we helped Europe and Japan rebuild and we still have bases there.

Otherwise, it would have been better just to leave Saddam Hussein in power. He was a skunk--of that there can be no doubt--but the modern notion that the United States can only support people who are angels has caused more human misery in the last forty years than just about anything other than communism. We have the problem now that we have with islamic terrorism because Carter couldn't be fucked to support the Shah of Iran when he needed help. The Shah was a dictator, but he was a pro-US dictator, and he kept the lid on a shitty part of the world for us.

Funding the NKVD--giving them war materiel so they could defend themselves from the Viet Cong--was a small price to pay for some modicum of stability in southeast Asia, and when we stopped doing that--because the Democrats didn't want to let Ford have any kind of victory--it led to political murders by the millions at the hands of leftists. Not just in Vietnam, but elsewhere, like Cambodia.

We have the problem with islamic terrorism now because a whole bunch of Democrat foreign policy decisions led us to where we are. ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hamas, the rest of them all are problems for us and our allies because it's more important to Democrats that they have things their way, regardless of how much death and misery results. It's just too bad for the people on that mountain, but We Had To Get Out Of Iraq Because President Obama Promised.

...and he can't be fucked to keep his other campaign promises. And now, while the middle east burns, he plays golf.

#4329: Many people don't understand what it's like.

Robin Williams, who struggled with substance abuse and depression, apparently killed himself. In that context, AoSHQ's overnight open thread last night linked to this collection of comics which explain what clinical depression is like.

People who haven't had to deal with that kind of situation don't really get it. They've only ever had ordinary depression, "the blues", situational feelings that everyone has to deal with because you can't be 100% happy every day all the time.

So, it's easy for them to say, "Hey, it's all in your head! You just have to decide to be happy!"

Except that it doesn't work that way.

The comic strip that uses a mangled hand as a metaphor for depression is apt; the same person who will tell a person with clinical depression "you have to decide to be happy" would never consider telling someone with a compound leg fracture just to "walk it off". The difference is that one is an obvious injury; the other is not.

I know there are people who think my own bout of clinical depression in 2011 was just me being lazy, but those people aren't even wrong. Depression is something I've struggled with my entire life, starting in high school, and what looks like "laziness" to these people has always been a combination of paralyzing anxiety and depression over being unable to do anything about always being afraid.

One of the side effects of taking Paxil has been that my temper has moderated considerably. I used to have a hair-trigger, and almost no tolerance for frustration; since I began taking anti-anxiety medication, though, I've been a lot calmer. And that's so because I'm no longer in a constant state of high alert, needing only one push to go over the edge into full-blown panic. Of course I still get angry and frustrated and annoyed, but because there's not this constant background noise of anxiety, it takes longer for the adrenaline to start flowing and I stay calm longer.

...and when you are constantly on high alert, you get depressed, because when the entire world is a source of anxiety for you it can't be otherwise. Particularly when your anxiety keeps you from doing anything.

I'm still trying to figure out what happened in 2011. I believe I have a pretty good picture of what and why and how; I've advanced far enough from where I was then that I've gotten married and have a job, and I'm trying to do the right things. But--again--there are people around me who don't understand my situation and won't listen to what I tell them about it...and wouldn't believe me if they did.

How much worse would it be for someone whose net worth is in the hundred millions and whose only problems are ones that cannot be solved with mere money? Robin Williams was a very rich man, and my mind can only flail at what sort of demons must have tormented him for him to take his own life, particularly when he was (or should have been) surrounded by people who could tell he was having a severe depressive episode and needed help, regardless of whether or not he wanted it.

Ultimately you can't help someone who doesn't want help, and people who have a history of substance abuse tend not to garner much sympathy when they've just told you off for the umpteenth time that they don't have a problem; you have a problem, so STFU and go away.

I don't know anything about Robin Williams and his situation, but I do know that our society needs to get better at ho it treats mental illness.

#4330: Okay, today's non-depressing post.

So the earliest I can get anyone to look at that loose crown is Friday. *sigh*

My regular dentist apparently had hip-replacement surgery not long ago and is only seeing patients who have emergencies. "The soonest I could get you in would be September," his receptionist said. So I started calling other dentists in the Fungal Vale, and had to settle for Friday. Well, if that's as good as it gets, that's what it has to be.

It's not like this is an emergency, anyway. There's no pain, and I think it'll be okay for a few more days. I noticed that it was loose on Sunday, but since I had work yesterday I called to make an appointment today. I just have to avoid eating caramel or other really sticky substances.

I'm hoping they can just cement the thing back in place, because now would not be a good time for me to require tons of dental work.

* * *

Of course, it's Perseid meteor shower time, and what's the weather like? CLOUDY! As usual, whenever I happen to remember that it's time for the Perseids, the sky helpfully fills itself with clouds so that I won't lay underneath it looking for meteors. (In years that I forget until it's over, inevitably the sky was perfectly clear the entire time.)

Most of the meteors would have been washed out by the full moon (occurring at perigee) but some would have been visible, enough that it's worth going outside to look for them...except, of course, clouds. *sigh*

* * *

It's a cool day today. I'd set the alarm clock to get me up so I could call the dentist, but before I did that I was listening to the weather report and it turns out that Lake Michigan is pretty bumpy right now: waves five to nine feet.

I have been out on the lake, in my parents' sailboat, when the surf was up to six feet, and while it was fun it was not unalloyed, harmless fun; it was "okay, turn around and go back in because this shit's dangerous". It's not serious danger (like, I don't know, hanging from a rock by your fingernails, 1,500 feet up) but if anything went wrong it could become dangerous. Say the motor quits: then you're bobbing around on six-foot seas without the ability to maintain steerage way, and once you're broadside to the waves--well.

Larger vessels would be less hazardous, but I wouldn't want to stay out in six-foot swells in anything smaller than about seventy feet or so, and even that would be uncomfortable.

Nine feet? Right out. No way. The ore freighters can have that shit.

* * *

Anyway, having woken up far too early--even if it was for good purpose--I now find that I'm sleepy, so I'm going to go catch a few more Zs.

#4331: Hey, guess what? Your devices have OFF SWITCHES.

I saw this article yesterday in which the writer laments the fact that our wilderness spaces are rapidly becoming ever more "connected".

How wonderful it is, he says, that we can go places where no WiFi or cellular signal can reach us; where the etherial tendrils of the modern world do not stretch, where all visitors are forced to unplug, disconnect, and experience the real world of nature around them. How terrible it is that technology will soon eradicate even those increasingly-smaller refuges.

Horseshit.

Your devices can all be turned off. They don't turn themselves on and force themselves into your face; this isn't the world of Max Headroom where the government has abolished the ability to shut the stuff down. The only thing that forces you to remain connected is you.

If you lack the willpower to shut the junk off and enjoy your trip, it's not anyone's fault other than your own.

I love the idea of being able to surf the Internet from deep in the woods. I love it when I can do something like that, partly because I have some idea of what goes into making it possible. Sitting in my back yard and reading an Internet article used to wow me because I can remember when I had to park my C-64 next to the telephone jack in the kitchen to use the modem. Tethering a laptop to a cell phone and using the cell phone as a wireless access point used to be black magic, shortly before that it was impossible. Now it's commonplace.

For me, the ability to check e-mail and upload photographs from the bush would be awesome.

Further, though, let's consider how much better it would be if people could call for help when something happens to them while they're in the wild places. So-and-so has gone missing--well, we're seeing his cell signal on tower XYZ-theta, so he's got to be within a couple miles' radius of that point. Let's go!

...and the weenies will just have to learn how to turn off their junk. You can unplug any time you want to; the question is, do you want to?