February 3, 2005

T-Shirts and Self-Determination

Anticipating the State of the Union, I threw on my wonderfully, potentially offensive t-shirt yesterday after I jumped out of the shower. The only problem? I worked from home so no one got to see it!

Now, I'm as politically conscious as the next guy. As a matter of fact, I think you'd all agree that I'm a little more involved, a little more concerned than your average American. So is it wrong that I flipped off the TV at nine and walked away from the State of the Union address? I mean, I'd already seen people sucking on television. Its called American Idol. I didn't need more.

Of course, I've read the transcript. I'd be remiss if I didn't see what the guy had to say. There was nothing surprising, nothing shocking, nothing revelatory in nature. Just the same old stuff...social security, Iraq, faith-based initiatives, terrorism. I imagine there were the same little chuckles and the smirks that make me want to throw the nearest chair through my television. And he probably said NU-KYUH-LER a few times which drives me absolutely ape-shit. But there was one line - just one line out of the horribly written speech - that I really had a problem with:

The United States has no right, no desire, and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I'm not a left-wing nut-job. I don't believe there are grand plans to take over the world. But I do think that the United States loses credibility and creates more enemies and potential opposition whenever it flexes its political muscles and forces democracy on members of the global community. One of the principles in which we believe above all else is self-determination. The minute we begin to force our beliefs on other nations, we undermine our own credibility. Its that simple.

The ideals and goals of democracy are nice - I happen to believe very strongly that a democractic society, while not perfect, fosters the best in government and its citizens, allows individualism to flourish, protects civil liberties (although that's sometimes questionable) and enforces an appropriate but not harsh rule of law. But for the United States to force democracy down the throats of countries like Iraq and Afghanastan is akin to me forcing you to change your religion or sexual preferences.

Bush's statement? I don't buy it. I think that the United States has shown, in recent history, that we believe its our way or the highway. That we idealize democracy and won't tolerate anything less. That we won't hesititate to bring democracy to a country near you...even if it means bombing the hell out of it first.

Posted by Chris at February 3, 2005 8:14 AM

Same here, I read about it the next day, because I can't stand the way he speaks. And the quote, Ha! What planet does he live on where the US doesn't poke its nose into everyone's business! That was a very silly thing to say.

Posted by: Oliquig at February 3, 2005 9:01 AM

i'll take democracy over tyranny any day.

Posted by: monique at February 3, 2005 9:21 AM

I usually don't comment on political stuff because of all the fallout that usually follows, but the one area that bugs me to the point that I have to say something is the topic of US involvement in other countries. See it is one of those damned if you do, damned if you don't areas. In MY experience (read - I am not saying this is the absolute truth), the same people who hate us being involved in other countries when we do so, are the same people who scream for us to do something in other countries when an injustice is going on. If we get involved we are terrible people for imposing our will on others, but if we don't then we are terrible people for standing by and watching as people suffer. I just don't understand the logic behind this. You can't have both, either we use our "riches" to help those in need (which means sometimes by force) or we let the rest of the world deal with things themselves.

To be clear I have mixed feelings about the war being a marine. I think that some of the motivations behind it were not honorable ones, but I also see tons of people who were suffering a life of terible fear that are being helped by this. Maybe it is not evident right now, but I think that it will become more evident as the pieces are put together.

Posted by: Rickshaw Driver at February 3, 2005 9:22 AM

Like you I didn't watch the SOTU (was attending a theater performance - about the overcoming of oppression in this country) and haven't had a chance to even read the transcript yet but there was a picture today in the post that just killed me. A group of GOP congresspeople with ink on their fingers. Now this is just my opinion (and I am certainly not a supporter of the decision to go to war in Iraq) but to me that indelible ink on Iraqi fingers is like a combat medal. If you had to walk however many blocks or kilometers to get to a polling station in defiance of threats against you and your family, braving car bombs, snipers and roadside ambushes, then you can wear that ink - otherwise don't dilute the meaning of that symbol.

Posted by: Bill Murray at February 3, 2005 9:29 AM

I'm like Rickshaw - I don't like getting involved in politics because everyone is so black and white and people always get so heated and take everything personally. It's just never been appealing to me, and I'm not good at debating anyway. :P

That being said, I also understand and agree with what he says about helping out other countries - damned if we do, damned if we don't.

Part of me gets annoyed when we do go over and try to "fix" everything wrong in another country. There are so many things here that should be focused on instead. And some countries just don't want help. They may act like it, but then when we do help them, their attitude towards our presence there is negative and mean. So why the hell do we go over there in the first place? Because we are critisized if we don't. But the other part of me sees people in need of support and help and I'm glad we're able to help them overcome the fear and tyranny

Another part of me is selfish - why the hell should we help everyone all the time when no one comes to our aid when we need help? Think of 9/11 - no one really came to our aid until some arms were twisted. Yet any time there's a disaster somewhere else, we're offering money and manpower to relieve them.
The whole issue is very wishy washy. I don't really know where I'm going with this (again, I'm not a good debater)but I guess I'm trying to say that I too have mixed feelings about all of this.

Posted by: Kitty at February 3, 2005 9:57 AM

i laughed when i heard that sentence. crock-o-shit.

Posted by: laura at February 3, 2005 10:08 AM

I flipped it off at 9 as well. Except, that would be 10 for you (damn time zones! They confuse!).

And, yeah, blah blah blah, same crap we've been hearing, blah blah blah. And, I'll admit, I wasn't even giving it my full attention. I was in the kitchen doing dishes and had the TV turned up so I could hear it.

Also, they REALLY need to cut it down from 90 minutes to an hour. I have a hard time paying attention to anyone for 90 minutes, never mind El Presidente des Shrubs.

Posted by: Dawnie at February 3, 2005 10:15 AM

You're such the rebel.... :-)

Posted by: Bob at February 3, 2005 10:17 AM

I didn't even watch. No TV. But if I had a TV, I wouldn't bother. Nothing he has to say is going to change anything I do today, or tomorrow, or whenever. Nothing I do is going to change anything he does. And hearing more rhetoric from another religious extemist leader isn't going to make me any happier.

What's the point?

Posted by: Jon in Michigan at February 3, 2005 10:21 AM

Hey Chris! I didn't watch the state of the union either. I think I had it on cartoon network... maybe we were watching Baby Looney Tunes... I don't know. (though the argument could be made that those two shows are very much alike).

Anyway... I can't see your shirt. What does it say?

Posted by: Snidget at February 3, 2005 10:26 AM

Jon's attitude is the one that both scares and frustrates me the most. Nothing I can do about it so why bother. American's seem to becoming the most apathetic people in the world today.

And I agree with Rickshaw and Kitty, it's not all black and white. But don't tell the world we are only going in because there are WMD's and then when we find out there aren't any; tell the world we are there to liberate. We told the people of Iraq that we wouldn't even come if the Hussein family left. When that didn't work, we said WMD's. When that didn't work, we said you need democracy.

We look like pompous asses.

Posted by: melman at February 3, 2005 10:35 AM

Word, Chris.

Posted by: Stacy at February 3, 2005 10:45 AM

The Boy is studying nuclear physics. Bush drives him crazy.

As for the rest, I can't wait for Constitutional Law.

You should sit in, Chris. Our prof is a HUGE liberal and very funny.

Posted by: alektra at February 3, 2005 10:52 AM

I didn't watch because it is usually the same political spin claptrap that I do not want to hear.

I do not believe in intervention, it is a bad percedent to follow and usually brings more headache than it is worth. A situation like during WWII is entirely different than the situation in Iraq.

Also, before we change their minds, and make them really want democracy and freedom, we would have to bomb the crap out of them for about five years, only then would the theocratic belief system begine to crumble, allowing for a more liberty minded mentality.

Posted by: Blue at February 3, 2005 11:26 AM

Amen brother. Now of course, you know I'm a uber-liberal too, and while I was in class when the SOTU was on, I didn't feel like I was missing anything when I got home and it was over. I've tried to watch it years past an I simply got angry and sad. I actually cried the year we went to war. cried. threw things at the TV, and had trouble sleeping that whole week.

As for that quote. damn. he's got balls, and so does his script writers. I'm going to go read and post on this, but since I can't trackback, you know now. :)

Posted by: Autumn at February 3, 2005 11:28 AM

There's a really good book you might like -

Humanity, a moral history of the twentieth century by a Professor Glover at some highfalutin' British university.

Anyway, it discusses all the most horrible things that happened killing masses of people in the last century, how they came about, and what was excusable retaliation and what wasn't, and theories about keeping world order in the future. I must say it is one of the best, most cogent history books I've ever read and takes head-on a lot of the excrutiating questions the United States faces today as the lone superpower.

(Because if you can't do much about it, intellectualize. :)

I have to say I am for disbanding tyranny. I am, however, opposed to being lying hypocrites about it, and that if we are going to be a force of good, then we have to do our best in government to be an example of good, and not (for example) jail people without charges and without access to lawyers for an indefinite period... but it could take a while to go into my beliefs, and hey, it's your website... so think about getting the book! (I don't get a kickback or anything)

Take it easy,


Posted by: bisous at February 3, 2005 12:16 PM



Posted by: Autumn at February 3, 2005 12:36 PM

no you arent bad- I mean seriously if I watch that shit I put my TV in danger. I walk away from reading about it as I need teh computer and well cant damage that screen either.

for thos who think Bush is credible then I have some land I am DYING to sell you, immediately so I can pay back that lower level of student loans I should have had according to his statements...

Posted by: stinkerbell at February 3, 2005 1:15 PM

I didn' watch it. I couldn't. I just simply can't stand the smirk, can't stand the voice, and more importantly, can't stand the ideas. It's too late to do anything about the next four years, that's for sure.

Posted by: Heather at February 3, 2005 1:57 PM

Amen, brother!!!

Posted by: Sashinka at February 3, 2005 2:25 PM

I completely missed the whole thing. Liberal I am but because of my parents and Iraqi friendships, I completely understand what RickShaw Driver is saying. However to protest my non-Bush support, I've been passing out lots of "I Did Not Vote 4 Bush" wristbands here at work! Hmmm...think I can get in trouble for that? lol

And not to take away from the seriousness of this post, but also, another very cool pic of you! I think next year the BoB's is going to have to ad a "Hottest Male Blogger" in the blogosphere category as you'd be a definite shoe in.

Posted by: groovebunny at February 3, 2005 3:01 PM

Noam Chomsky talks about this in his book "Hegemony or Survival, Americas quest for Global Dominance". I tend to agree with a few of his assertions, that in fact, the US does not care for a democratic society throughout the world. 'Our' only interest is in economic nationalism, whereby we expect whoever is in charge in foreign government to allow US interests to be allowed entry and proclivity to run ape-sh!t. Hence the support by the US of the governments of Saddam Hussein, King Fad of Saudi Arabia, Pinochet in Chile, Marcos in the Phillipines, "Papa Doc" Duvalier in Haiti, and scores of others. "Our" interests or concerns are never in the well-being of other citizens. Anyone who proclaims as such is remarkably naive, we only care about the financial bottom line. As Truman once said, "the business of America is business". It is a sad commentary, but unfortunately the truth. It pains me to see the world, at least my countries world view tainted as such. But I know, that the common man (gender neutral) does not care for global economic domination, they only want to provide for their families, pay their bills, and possibly take a vacation from time to time. It is the power hungry people like Bush, Cheney and the others of the USA inc. that push this despicable agenda...

/off soapbox

Posted by: Chris at February 3, 2005 4:07 PM

Oh god. JUST now on NPR there was a clip of Bush saying something to the effect that he supports privatizing Social Security "for Baby Boomers like [him]." Now, does he seriously think we'll believe that otherwise he's going to end up semi-destitute when he retires, just like the millions of us bottom-dwellers??

Posted by: supine at February 3, 2005 5:03 PM

I wanted to let you know that the president isn't COMPLETELY stupid. Over the last four years he has learned to say nuclear correctly. And it was music to my ears, I wanted to tape it on a minidisk and listen to it over and over, repeating to myself that the man in charge of our nation can learn stuff.

Then I wanted to cry, because, that really shouldn't be how I judge this whole thing.

Posted by: Del at February 3, 2005 6:16 PM

I went out to dinner with friends last night. We TiVo'd American Idol and watched it when we got back. Just as we finished watching American Idol, I switched it over to Dubya and we caught the best part. The end. We all clapped. Or maybe that was just me.

Posted by: myllissa at February 3, 2005 7:39 PM

I actually did watch the speech, and muted it during the relentless clapping. I paid more attention in the beginning of it though...near the end I just turned it down low and concentrated on what I was doing online.

However, I DID hear the line that you referred to. And yes, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought it was ironic (and a big, fat lie).

Posted by: Zandria at February 3, 2005 10:09 PM

More than 60% of the Iraqi people voted, in some parts even 90%. 60% is a .. of a lot more than here.
I believe the reason of the war wasn't as nobel as the results, but I'm happy the Iraqi people got to vote :)

Posted by: Sweety at February 4, 2005 5:39 AM

Don't get me wrong, I don't think we have any business being in Iraq, and I have opposed the war from day one. However, if we value self determination "above all else" how do you propose that is realized under despotism? I mean implicit in self determination is the ability and freedom of choice, which does not exist in oppressive forms of government.

Posted by: Sheryl at February 4, 2005 8:10 PM