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Some Else’s Best of Term

Posted: April 8th, 2012, by jabrioux

I really enjoyed Mohammad Seyrafi’s post on the hanging of an Iranian revolutionary. The photo is incredibly haunting. It took me a while just looking at it to clue in that this man was actually going to be hanged. The smile on his face suggests that he is doing a stunt or magic trick. Its incredible the amount of dedication some people have to political change. And also incredible how unafraid they are of death as a potential consequence. I liked this post because it had a great picture which grabbed my attention, and a short but powerful writeup.

Here is the link


Best of Term

Posted: April 7th, 2012, by jabrioux

I really enjoyed writing this post, and I think it is one of the better rants I’ve posted on this blog. I had just finished watching a few documentaries, The Fog of War with Robert McNamara, and Why We Fight. Both of these got me a little steamed up about American foreign policy, and I think it showed when I sat down to update my blog. I had found the graph online, but when I went to post it I got carried away.

I like this post because it sums up my core feelings about American foreign policy. I truly dislike how many people believe that the US military is a big green democracy machine, committed to saving the world. The official justifications for going to war seem so flimsy to me, and the actual motivations so obvious, I find it amazing how easily people can be brainwashed by the mass media to believe the official story.

I think this post is an important one because it gives a history lesson which puts democratization into perspective. The text and images are below in all their glory. Enjoy.


So here’s a pretty sobering graph..

Green: Iraqi Civilian Casualties

Blue: Afghan Civilian Casualties

Grey: US Casualties in both Wars

Red: September 11th Victims

“Operation Iraqi Freedom” , it seems, was a bit of a misnomer. True, US troops are finally out of Vietnam, sorry, i meant Iraq.. Freudian slip… And they have left a ‘functioning parliamentary democracy’ in their wake, but we should not forget that this was the least of the effects the ‘war on terror’ had on Iraq.

As I elaborated in my previous blog post about Myanmar, democratization is a ultimately a self serving motivation. It seems that helping a ‘country in need’ to ‘transition to democracy to free it from the clutches of a tyrannical dictator’ immediately adds a shining veneer of legitimacy to the wanton destruction of a nation’s infrastructure and social fabric for gains other than humanitarian ones. This trend is hardly new in history. Even democratization itself can be the self-serving motivation for somehow promoting democratic transition abroad. We saw it done in the Cold War, where democratic regimes were propped up by the United States around the globe simply to counter the spread of Communism. It was the apparent basis for the Korean War, and later, Vietnam.

Democracy for the people by the people is never the endgame for foreign support of democratic transition. We live in an anarchic international arena. Realist interpretations are the only ones which make any sense. The second which democracy in a country doesn’t work for the foreign power, it is entirely expendable. We saw this in Iran. The democratically elected government was going to nationalize the foreign owned oil industry, much to the opposition of USA and British interests. Result: the CIA stages a military coup to overthrow the perfectly legitimate government of Mosaddegh and install the fiercely autocratic one of Pahlavi. Democracy is simply a buzzword to legitimize foreign action. In Iraq, the stated objective was to free the Iraqi people from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and to install a democracy. Interestingly, the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein wasn’t a problem for the US when Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew their autocratic Iranian Pahlavi puppet government and started becoming a problem. In fact, the US funded and supplied intelligence to Saddam Hussein throughout the Iran-Iraq war to counter Iran’s growing power. Democratization wasn’t even on the table at the time, it didn’t serve any US interests. This is also around the time where the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein took place, which were the basis of the evidence that he needed to be overthrown… only some 30 years later.

I feel I might be being a bit cynical, but the evidence seems to suggest that democratization always has an ulterior motive. If those motives are absent, then western democracies couldn’t care less if people are being oppressed by a dictator. If they are being made to feel guilty by international or domestic pressure to take action against said dictator, they do it for PR reasons, not out of the goodness of their heart. There is always a motive. Democratization by governments in a realist international arena is a self serving behavior. If you believe that this is being done for humanitarian purposes, explain how it is only done when convenient and opportune.

Election Finance in Alberta – In The News (11)

Posted: April 4th, 2012, by jabrioux


Alberta election finances laws among the most lax, says Democracy Watch



This article is basically an attack on the election finance laws in Alberta, stating that they have the highest limits in the country, and also very few regulations on who can donate. For example, corporations and unions are allowed to donate, and the donation limit is more that 3x the federal amount.

Does this hurt democracy? A logical view of elections would state that people can only be involved and informed on issues if candidates have enough money to campaign and hold rallies. Without this, it would be impossible for them to have their platforms publicized and we would be voting in the dark. Political parties do not get their campaign funds from the public purse, but from personal wealth or donations. Therefore, the Alberta voters, having spent the most on finance, have the most informed election, right?

Well, to a certain degree, yes. But this is not democracy enhancing. The fact that corporate entities and unions can offer huge nearly unlimited contributions means that one party could have significantly more money to campaign with than an other party. While this can harm the balance of power in elections, I think that the biggest danger is what happens after. If you received a huge contribution from a corporation, you will feel the pressure to make decisions benefiting that donor one you are in office. This can essentially amount to unofficially buying a politician. Therefore many small donations are far better than a few large ones.

Punks on Politics

Posted: April 3rd, 2012, by jabrioux

Despite the less than perfect vocals, punk legends NOFX actually have a very keen awareness of social issues. The lyrics are often very pointed, critical, and above all funny… probably because it’s true.

Check out the 4th verse in bold at timecode (1:55) so that I can relate this post to democracy. The melody also changes during that verse for a really nice ska-influenced bridge, probably to emphasize those lyrics. Anyways, as far as punk goes, NOFX is my hands down favorite. Their lyrics are everything. FAT MIKE FOR PRESIDENT!

There’s no point for democracy when ignorance is celebrated
Political scientists get the same one vote as some Arkansas inbred
Majority rule, don’t work in mental institutions
Sometimes the smallest softest voice carries the grand biggest solutions



The Idiots are Taking Over – NOFX

It’s not the right time to be sober
Now the idiots have taken over
Spreading like a social cancer, is there an answer?

Mensa membership conceding
Tell me why and how are all the stupid people breeding
Watson, it’s really elementary
The industrial revolution
Has flipped the bitch on evolution
The benevolent and wise are being thwarted, ostracized, what a bummer
The world keeps getting dumber
Insensitivity is standard and faith is being fancied over reason

Darwin’s rolling over in his coffin
The fittest are surviving much less often
Now everything seems to be reversing, and it’s worsening
Someone flopped a steamer in the gene pool
Now angry mob mentality’s no longer the exception, it’s the rule
And I’m starting to feel a lot like Charlton Heston
Stranded on a primate planet
Apes and orangutans that ran it to the ground
With generals and the armies that obeyed them
Followers following fables
Philosophies that enable them to rule without regard

There’s no point for democracy when ignorance is celebrated
Political scientists get the same one vote as some Arkansas inbred
Majority rule, don’t work in mental institutions
Sometimes the smallest softest voice carries the grand biggest solutions

What are we left with?
A nation of god-fearing pregnant nationalists
Who feel it’s their duty to populate the homeland
Pass on traditions
How to get ahead religions
And prosperity via simpleton culture

South African Democracy – Mini Assignment 11

Posted: April 2nd, 2012, by jabrioux

I am firmly of the view that this ruling, although going through a non-democratic courts system, still embodies the very essence of democracy. The important thing to remember is that we aren’t talking about pure democracy, where decisions are made by the majority with no concern for any other limiting factors. We are talking about a consitutional democracy. This is an important distinction because this country has given a set of rules for itself so that democrtic whims do not allow the country to stray off its founding principles. Waldron called this precommitment.

In this case, the precommitment is the constitutional promise that all people will always be subject to the same law. Even if the democratic organs of the state prefer this man not to be indicted, the principles laid down and entrenched by the nation’s founders are what ultimately set the boundaries. One can look at this as an impediment to democracy, sure, but one must also consider that the pure democracy which this type of precommitment prohibits is what aristotle would call democracy, the tyranny of the many.

The courts are there to make sure that politicians do not step outside the bounds of this precommitment. They are undemocratic, yes, but that is the point. While they may limit pure democracy, their primary purpose is to make sure that South African Democracy stays at a consistent quality.

a quick rant on the American election

Posted: March 28th, 2012, by jabrioux

I LOVE that Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are so close in the race for the Republican nomination. Lets be honest with ourselves, Romney is going to get it, without a doubt. He is what you would call the ‘lesser of two evils’, and I think Americans are intelligent enough to know that.

And thank god you won't have any by the time you have to face Obama

But at the end of the day, I want Obama to stay in the White House. If he is defeated in the upcoming election, essentially the last 4 years of his presidency will be wasted. Obama is playing the ‘long game’ in politics. The strategies he is undertaking to fix the economy and give the US a different international reputation are slated to take more than 4 years.   This is a really interesting article which shows how Obama’s long term plan will render his critics mute by the end of his next term. 

If a Republican gets into the White House, the first thing they will do is scrap the ‘socalist kenyan muslim’ policies of Obama, thereby wasting the long term foundation he is trying to set up. The reality of it is that he is the most centrist Democrat the US has had in a long time, despite the irrational lamentation of conservatives. We voted in Obama on a platform of serious systemic change. It is irrational to say that since we haven’t seen all the results he promised in 4 years, then we shouldn’t give him the chance to achieve them in 8.

Back to why I love the Republican race. The more that Romney and Santorum fight, the more money and effort each of them have to spend on their campaigns. Essentially, Santorum is making Romney spend way more money than he wants to, thereby weakening his ability to campaign when the time for the presidential election starts. This is perfect. The more divided and in disarray the Republican party is, the better chance Obama will have to fulfill the promises he made. So I suppose, in a way, hats off to Santorum. You may be saving the country, but in a different way than you wanted to.

Fallacies…. on the internet?

Posted: March 28th, 2012, by jabrioux

The title to this post is obviously a sarcastic one. Go ahead and pick a random youtube video and you will undoubtedly find a few trolls being as inflammatory as possible, infuriating people with their flawed arguments and persistence. We can hope that these methods of argument don’t find their way into more formal online political analysis, but the reality is that people are free to say almost whatever they want, and there usually aren’t editors looking out for flawed arguements.

Let us pause to pay homage to THE KING OF FALLACIES himself, Mr. Glenn Beck

Logical Fallacy:   If something can happen or has happened, then it will happen.

This blog post is in regards to Obama’s signing of a bill that allows for executive control over all natural resources in time of emergency. The crux of the argument being made is that because of the precedent of Lincoln and Wilson usurping similar powers and dictatorially holding the economy hostage, the result of Obama’s bill will be the same. “The economy of the United States is based on the free flow of resources, energy, and the rights of consumers to buy and sell as they see fit.  Any interference in this economic process quickly leads to shortages, rising prices, and civil unrest.” Just because this happened to Lincoln and Wilson and there is the theoretical possibility of it occurring does in no way guarantee the same result. The flawed logic is as follows,

If A –> Z

and B –> Z

then C –> Z


Rhetorical Fallacy: Slippery Slope

I attack conservative blogs probably because they provide me with the most ammunition. This particular post essentially draws a line of logical conclusions between the passing of Obamacare to needing to sell Washington State, Oregon, and California to China to pay the bill. This connection is absolutely ludicrous. His rhetorical chain tells this story:

Obamacare –> more $$$ power to politicians –> politicians get drunk on power –> do not repeal obamacare –> spend too much on healthcare –> getting into foreign debt –> China calls in that debt, immediately, on pain of war –> depletion of already low public purse –> need to sell various states to China to cover debt.

I shake my head at this man’s attempt to make healthcare into a contributor to Chinese invasion. facepalm. he tries to tell us that by passing Obamacare, we have just pushed ourselves onto that slippery slope that will have us speaking Mandarin in 50 years. He doesn’t even think that this is taking it a bit too far, “No, it is NOT FUNNY.  It’s not much of an exaggeration, either. “

Sorry, this is really funny. And it is a massive exaggeration. If I read this elsewhere, I would think it is a satire, or a draft script for the Colbert Report.

Disregard my last post…..

Posted: March 28th, 2012, by jabrioux

NDP Leadership Online Voting Compromised

Well, it seems like I may have jumped the gun with my last post. I provided many ways that the internet could enhance democracy but did not take into account the fact that it also had the potential for unparalleled voter fraud. This was demonstrated to me in a stark manner with the NDP leadership convention, which used an online voting scheme to select the new leader for the party. It seems that hackers were able to install malicious software on thousands of Canadian computers which were set up to simultaneously bombard the voting website with traffic. While the votes themselves were unchanged, this attack disabled the website for a long period of time, leaving many voters to simply ‘give up’.

While this is undoubtedly a detriment to the operation of democracy, this type of strategy is not limited to the internet, although it is made easier. This type of attack is essentially the same as having a flash mob of people physically show up at a polling station, thereby clogging the entire process. This has happened before, and is just as possible with the internet as with actual polling stations. Its just that cyber security isn’t as good as physical security. At least not yet.

So we can use this story to derogate the internet as a democratic tool, or we can look at it as a speedbumb on the way. Just as with traditional democracy, it will take time to iron out the kinks.


A New Hope for Democracy

Posted: March 20th, 2012, by jabrioux

I’m taking a stand. Technology (and by that I mean NEW technology) has the potential to increase the prevalence and quality of democracy around the world. In my opinion, there are 3 ways that this can be accomplished: dissemination of information, growth of a global culture, and increased opportunities for participation. I am mostly referring to the internet when I speak of new technology.

Dissemination of Information

Churchill one said, “the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” Indeed this is a major democratic flaw, the tendency for people to be uninformed. Misinformation is also a huge factor which impedes the proper exercise of democracy. The television and radio mass media is owned by a small handful of companies and, as Noam Chomsky would argue, they are able to manipulate the agenda for their own interests. The internet gives people the opportunity to consult a nearly infinite variety of sources and viewpoints. The fully informed voter is more likely to be someone who reads news and forms opinions based off the multiplicity of interpretations the internet provides. This would have been next to impossible 50 years ago, now it is instant.

Growth of a Global Culture

The internet is probably the most unifying innovation since satellite television. If a global culture does exist, its home is online. Increasingly, this global culture is based off of the cultural group which dominates the internet, namely western cultures. These espouse liberal views of equality, individualism, and ultimately democracy. It is no wonder that the most undemocratic countries in the world severely limit or censor internet access. Instant connections to a cultural community online which is devoted to grassroots individualism will foster democratic values in people who otherwise would have had no contact with other ideas.

Increased Opportunities for Participation

Many people credit social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter for mobilizing the population and making the democratic revolutions of the Arab Spring possible. Indeed it is a tremendous tool for mobilizing civil society, and forming large groups which can then have their voice heard by government. I previously introduced the website voteocracy on this blog. It basically lets people cast votes for every bill entering congress, thereby instantly aggregating a measure of public approval which legislators can look at. Services such as this can make the link between the pulse of the people and the lawmakers much more solid, which is the entire point of democracy in the first place.

All in all, the internet serves to make everyone more connected. The point of democracy is to connect people to their representatives, and thereby indirectly create policies which the people would have wanted. The point of the internet is…… well its not democracy per se, but it can definitely fulfill this purpose.

Mein Harper

Posted: March 19th, 2012, by jabrioux

This is a dramatic protrayal of Harper in 2008. He got a coalition government he didn’t want and wasn’t able to be…


look at how mad he is about it!!! He’s really losing it.

Today’s a different story. He finally got his way, and now he is going to kill IsoHunt. I’m just glad I didn’t vote for him.


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