Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category
A reader suggested I take a break from bashing Obama and set my sights on Mitt Romney for a change. She had a point, and I’m certainly up to the challenge. Well, it’s not much of a challenge, but I’m up to it anyhow. As I pointed out during the primaries, none of the Republican candidates looked promising, because anyone with any political sense at all would know that running against Obama was likely a suicide mission. He’s the most astute politician to come down the pike in a generation, he came out of nowhere to take the presidency right out from under Hillary Clinton’s nose in 2008. And now that he’s had four years to consolidate his position, beating him is going to be a challenge. Any Republican that seriously wants to be president is likely to wait till 2016 when Obama will be gone. That being said, the primaries are over, and Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts is the Republican sacrificial victim. Will Obama carve him into quivering lumps of human sushi this fall? (Figuratively speaking of course.) Who knows.
And just days after I started writing this post, Romney himself decided to provide grist for the mill. I am of course talking about his international tour. He chose to only visit staunch US allies, shielded himself from the press, and sallied forth to grab some easy photo opportunities and look suitably foreign policy presidential. What could go wrong? He opened his mouth. It has been almost painful to watch, like the proverbial train wreck in slow motion. First, he criticized the British preparations for the ongoing Olympics. I’m not even sure what inspired that, but it went over like a lead balloon. Then on to Israel, where he managed to insult both Israelis and Palestinians, and lie about Obama’s relationship with Israel to boot. In fact there were many serious factual errors in his insulting remarks, adding insult to injury. Then off to Poland, where Romney managed to avid offending anyone, only to have his travelling press secretary Rick Gorka utter the immortal line: “Kiss my ass; this is a holy site for the Polish people, show some respect.” Classy. Granted the reporters were being jerks, but one would think that presidential hopefuls would use people who didn’t lose their cool under a little pressure. It was a bad way to end the tour.
It wasn’t all bad of course, Romney got accolades from the places he visited, and it’s doubtful he hurt his support in the US much, if any. The Obama supporters who are chortling over Romney’s stupidity seem to have forgotten that saying incredibly stupid things hasn’t stopped previous Republicans from being elected. There was no “Dean Scream” moment, Romney’s campaign will carry on.
Still, I was genuinely frightened by some of it. First off, he seems to be completely unaware of that nature of Israel and the occupied territories. He understated Israel’s wealth considerably, and wildly overstated the Palestinian’s wealth. And he made the bizarre claim that “cultural differences” accounted for the disparity. In fact in my readings Romney apparently has made similar remarks about other countries, claiming that a disparity of wealth between them was due to “cultural differences.” The reasons for wealth disparities between nations are complex, but rarely do culture differences have much to do with it. That Romney thinks they do is at best a horribly simplistic view, and at worst reflects what can only be called racism. And I don’t think he was pandering to his base, I suspect his remarks have been genuine. And extemporaneous. I was left with the impression that he didn’t do much homework for this trip.
Moving right along, two other points. The first is fairly minor. If I’m informed correctly, he has gone from being pro-choice to being anti-choice. That seems awfully politically expedient of him. And then health care. He hates Obamacare, even though it’ almost the same as Romneycare, the health care plan he instituted while governor of Massachusetts. Then, he praises the health care system in Israel, even though it too contains features that he decries in Obamacare. Again, political expediency? Or is he that out of touch? Well, we know he’s not a man of the people after his NASCAR gaffe. In some ways that’s what scares me the most about him, he has lived a life of privilege and wealth. He was a draft evader as well, which never impresses me in someone who wants to be a leader.
Does any of it matter? I don’t really think so. Politics is completely polarized in the USA now, and deliberately so. I read an interesting article that posited that the Republicans think they can win by perusing a risky strategy of ignoring the issues and hammering on the endless “Obama isn’t a real American, Obama is a socialist, Obama is going to take away our guns” theme. The lack of undecided voters certainly bears this out. The idea being that if they win, they will have very successfully shifted the centre to the right and relabelled even today’s Democrats as out of touch leftists. If they lose, they lose nothing and can spend the next four years blaming Obama for anything that goes wrong. It’s an ugly strategy that counts on enough Americans to be panicked about having their guns taken, socialism, and Obama’s supposedly “weak” foreign policy. All Romney has to do is avoid any gaffes that will hurt his base, look vaguely presidential, and he’s golden.
So I’m not really expecting much from this election campaign. Lots of hysteria from the right, presumably to be strategically slapped down by Obama. We’ll see. The world is still going up in flames too, figurative and literal, so there could still be a surprise before the election that will change everything. I’ll be sure to blog about it.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Credit and copyright: Eccorazzi. It’s a spoof of a 1983 incident where Romney strapped his family dog on the roof of his car in a windshield protected dog carrier. For a 12 hour trip. Frankly I have mixed feelings about this. Romney dismissed critics of this incident with “They’re not happy that my dog loves fresh air.”)
I love the Drudge Report! Matt Drudge, here was a man who realized that people don’t want to know what’s going on in the world so that they can make rational judgements about it, oh no, people just want their prejudices and hatreds reinforced! The above image is how the Drudge Report revealed the results of the election in Egypt. The first story: “Muslim B’hood takes Egypt.” Too much trouble to write out “brotherhood?” Of course not, but B’hood with its suggestion of gangsters and hoods is so much more delicious. Other helpful stories in this category included “Egyptian beats pregnant wife to death for not voting for Mursi…” and “Supporters mass, chant ‘Allahu Akbar!’” I’m sure the gentle Drudge reader is now so much more informed, Egypt is just a bunch of wife murdering, Allah worshiping, towel heads! Might as well nuke em now before hordes of Egyptian children with suicide vests stream across the border into Israel and onto the tarmacs of unsuspecting American airports from Egyptian airliners. Where’s Chuck Norris when you need him?
Is the Drudge Report really that bad? Pretty much. At least they’ve stopped running a banner headline every time a black teenager beats someone up. Reality check people: I’ve lived in Berkeley/Oakland for thirty years, I walk around for miles every day, passing dozens or hundreds of black teenagers every day. I have been assaulted and insulted exactly zero times. Granted I avoid the worst neighborhoods, but still, millions of Americans think that the streets are full of black thugs just looking for trouble. This is the reason I am highly skeptical about Zimmerman’s version of events, this kid, with no history of assault or violence, just attacked him out of the blue for no reason? The fact that Zimmerman got caught lying to a judge to save himself bail money doesn’t help his credibility then either, or my opinion of his judgement.
I see the Drudge Report has expanded their coverage of the Egyptian elections in the past few hours. (Yes, I write slow.) They’ve now added two new stories: “Islamist Joy …” and “Israel Jittery.” Yerp, nothing like a joyful Islamist to get people’s attention, since Drudge readers know the only joy in Islamist’s lives is plotting the destruction of Israel. Which is why Israel is “jittery.” Yes, a peace treaty with an Arab military dictatorship that was bought and paid for by the USA was such a great strategy for protecting Israel’s long term interests. And of course they used the breathing room the peace treaty gave them so productively, creating one of the world’s ugliest apartheid states … all in Israel’s best interests of course.
Sigh. I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s even worse with Syria destabilizing. I do know that broad generalizations and stereotypes are silly, but sadly they infect us all. Over a half century of anti-Islamic and anti-Arab propaganda in the west, and it’s no wonder everyone’s thinking on the subject is muddy. Well, crystal clear but completely obscured. What’s going on in Egypt isn’t another Iranian Revolution, nothing like it really. (Yes,I have already heard that comparison made.) Not that Americans have any clue about the Iranian revolution. Most Americans couldn’t grasp how Iranians could still in 1979, 26 years after the fact, be still upset that in 1953 the USA overthrew a democratically elected Iranian government and installed a brutal dictator in its place. Yet in 2012, 33 years after the fact, many Americans still rant about the Americans taken hostage in Iran in 1979. Go figure.
As one American hostage put it, after a year in captivity, he one day snapped and told his guard how fucked up it was that they had been held hostage for a year. The guard, without any sympathy at all, told him that America took his entire country hostage in 1953. They don’t hate us for our freedoms (I still throw up a little in my mouth when I hear that,) they hate us for the horrific things the USA has done in the region for decades. Compounded by stupidity. Yeah, selling Egypt tear gas to use on protestors, that was smart. Then there’s American efforts to buy influence, which almost always give the kiss of death to their benefactors. Yeah, like an American political party funded by Iran would get anyone elected in the USA. Well, Maybe in Michigan. (Yes, that was a joke.)
In just four more years it will be a hundred years since France and Britain sat down and carved up the remnants of the Ottoman Empire for their own narrow self interest, the interests of the people living there be damned. We are still paying for their greed and short sightedness today, compounded by American and Israeli folly. I can only hope that the Muslim Brotherhood has the wisdom to lead Egypt, because American and Israeli governments can’t even lead their own nations into peace and prosperity, and they sure as shit aren’t spreading the same around abroad.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I got it from The Drudge Report, I have no idea where they got it or I would attribute it properly. It’s purportedly an image of people in Egypt after the election, I don’t think The Drudge Report sinks to Alex Jones’ level. Next blog, something fun. I been working on a post about Lincoln’s second term, it’s a hoot.)
I don’t mean literally a post Memorial Day hangover, it’s more an emotional thing. All the sheep and their masters burbling about “sacrifice” and “honour” and how our boys are defending our freedoms overseas. Patriotic drivel. Our troops overseas are simply the legionaries or conquistadors of our time, pretending they are spreading goodness and light in the name of God is what imperialists have done throughout history. The idea that one can conquer and rule other peoples for their own good is an incredible conceit, and a terrible insult to both the founders of this once great nation (now an empire in its death throes) and the Americans who have served in just wars. It’s also insane, since the overwhelming majority of the time such efforts cause far more damage than they supposedly fix. In fact imperialism is about domestic politics, war profiteering, and making the world safe for corporate exploitation. Such as it ever was, Smedly Butler had it right decades ago, and it’s gotten worse since. It’s actually turned into a dystopian nightmare at this point, with the UN being blatantly an agency of colonialism and NATO effectively its enforcer.
Speaking of domestic politics, I see that Mr Romney is telling Americans that the world is a “scary place,” and so we need to spend ourselves blind to protect ourselves from it. He didn’t mention the spending ourselves blind part, that just an assumption, I mean, he does understand what we are spending on our military? I’m so sick of the fear mongering, it’s racist crap and has seriously damaged the heart and soul of this country. The world is not a scary place, it’s a wonderful place filled with wonderful people. Because our leaders and the media concentrate on the bad things that happen (conveniently ignoring/justifying the ghastly things the west does and ignoring the role the west played in destabilizing whole continents,) many Americans think foreigners are all bad people out to kill us. I remember in a chat room some years back where someone defending our invasion of Afghanistan said that “try parachuting into Taliban territory” and see what happens to you. I can answer that. If you came as their guest … they would treat you with the utmost hospitality and die to protect you. If you came as an invader, why shouldn’t they do whatever they can to kill you? I know people who travelled their before the Russians invaded, it was a wonderful country. Will be again … when the foreign armies leave.
Still, when a country is destabilized, it can take decades or generations to settle down. That’s what is so insane (and sick) about the west’s efforts to use people’s longing to be free to try and get our satraps into power in Africa and the Middle East. A dozen countries or more have been turned into horrible messes by western invasions/interventions the past decade. It’s like the Vietnam War never happened. It’s been going on for awhile though. It was forty years before the Confederacy achieved pre-war levels of industry and agriculture. That generally doesn’t get mentioned in US history classes.
Anyhow, enough ranting for the moment. I thought the above picture was really cool. It’s a comparison of Earth and Europa, a moon of Jupiter. And Europa actually has (probably) more water than Earth! It may in fact have a globe spanning ocean that is a hundred miles deep, capped with a thick layer of ice a mile thick or more. Ice that would be as hard as granite at the temperatures on the surface. Just as slippery though, ice remains slippery no matter how cold it gets. Last I heard it’s still not fully understood why ice is slippery. In fact there’s a number of mysteries about ice that have yet to be solved, like why does it melt from the bottom up on rivers and ponds for example? Heck, there’s all sorts of scientific mysteries still, most of which are unfortunately way too arcane to write an interesting blog post about.
Coming soon, a post about liars. A new epiphany about God and his minions. Purported minions more accurately speaking. I’m still working on a post about one of America’s greatest monsters: Abraham Lincoln. Then there’s his legacy, flying death squads. And there are at least two “What the hell is that?” mystery photo posts in the works. As always I am open to suggestions. Well, if they are anatomically possible. Someone did leave a rude comment here, should I delete it?
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, it’s not being used for profit etc. I got it from the fine APOD site, credit & copyright: Kevin Hand (JPL/Caltech), Jack Cook (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), Howard Perlman (USGS.) I used it becasue I think it’s an incredibly cool image.)
Here it is, photographic proof that I saw the great man in person myself. Yes, my camera doesn’t have a telephoto lens. Is there an app for that? Did I spell app correctly? I’m a little behind on the technological curve sometimes. It runs in the family. When I was a kid in the early sixties my grandfather’s phone had to be cranked to make it work. How many people remember one of those still in use? I eventually as a young man-made the phone’s wooden case into a jewellery box for my sister, I think she has it still.
Dr. Paul’s speech was an interesting experience, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a political rally before. There were a few thousand people. Mostly pro Paul, with a few exceptions. It was outdoors, which was nice. I like the outdoors. My overall experience was one of gladness and sorrow. On the one hand, it was really nice to see a mainstream political candidate who was calling for actual change, not just new monograms on the White House towels. And for an end to the War on Drugs, and an end to endless military adventures overseas. Yes, even our troops in Japan and Germany should come home. No more “nation building,” scaling back the size of the US government, all things that need to be done. His positions on abortion, woman’s rights, and the welfare state … not so promising.
The sorrow. Well, there was this quixotic aspect to all of it. The people running the rally were all so upbeat and optimistic about Ron’s candidacy, when it was obvious that the crowd of a few thousand was draw from all over the greater Bay Area. The Grateful Dead drew larger crowds when they appeared at UC. And then there’s the unspoken fact that the media and the mainstream parties have largely marginalized “outsider” candidates like Ron Paul and successfully demonized him. Most Americans now are basically programmed to think that their party has all the right ideas, the other party is going to destroy America, and third parties are dangerous lunatics. Yes, actually making changes in how the government does things is now a dangerous heresy. Washington wept.
All said and done, I still think Rob Paul is the best of a bad lot by far. For one he’s the only politician who answers questions more or less directly, instead of launching into sound bites. Or lying through his perfect teeth. More importantly, he’s the only one calling for and end to World War Two. It’s time to bring the troops home. Nearly 75 years as globocop has made a small number of Americans very very very rich, and impoverished the rest of us. War profiteering is not a sustainable base for the economy of a great nation. And his stand on reducing government spending and ending the War on Drugs is also refreshing. Refreshing in the former case because I think he’s serious about it, refreshing in the later case because the war on Drugs has been a costly and counterproductive failure.
How about his stand on abortion, fetal rights, and the welfare state? Apalling, and sadly a reflective of his all too Christian world view. Abortion especially has been the scalpel that allowed the democrats to successfully demonize Mr Paul and make sure that no “progressive” voter looked any further, lest they too be demonized as some sort of woman hating monster by their progressive friends. That’s modern America for us, no debate, just to hell with any alternatives. I have recently noticed that the progressive left is about as fair and balanced in their outlook as Fox News viewers are in theirs. Does it show?
Am I for banning abortion, making fertilized eggs into human beings, or slashing social programs? No, of course not. So why do I support Ron Paul? It’s very simple. If we don’t end the warfare state, the Christian right is going to eat us alive, and we will lose all our rights anyhow. These people have a crusader mentality, and constant war is their bread and butter. It means they are the good guys, therefore whatever they do is right. And since they are steeped in ideology and a need to make everyone conform to Biblical norms of behaviour, it’s not going to be pretty. When the Christian right eventually overturns Roe vs Wade, and then outlaws abortion nationally … Ron Paul’s idea of leaving it up to the states to decide is going to look a lot better in retrospect.
Sigh, politics. Next maybe some uplifting posts about zombie puppies or some such.
(Photo copyright Doug Stych 2012, all rights reserved. I think that’s his wife and daughter sitting behind him. And I guess those are security people watching him and the crowd. I’m glad I went, for good or for ill it’s still a very free country in many ways. It’s been a long strange path since Yorktown, and I think we are lost in Mirkwood, but who knows what is on the other side.)
Thursday I have reserved a seat to go listen to Ron Paul speak. I’m pretty excited, I think the last time I saw a public figure in the flesh I was holding a sign saying “Go Back to Hanoi!” That probably says far more about my past than I should let on, but hey, it’s still a free country. Well, sort of. Moving right along, I’m thrilled, and not ashamed to say it. Ron Paul is one of the few politicians these days who actually says things that make sense. We have a president who utters the most egregious lies and nonsense with presidential sincerity that would make Satan proud, and a veritable clown parade of Republicans. Ron Paul at least is willing to stand up and say that the Emperor has no clothes, just for that I appreciate him. I will take pictures, and try to shake his hand if the opportunity arises.
Mr Paul is an interesting figure, more than just the Howard Stassen of his time. Or, to be more accurate, it’s fascinating to see how people and the establishment react to him. Fascinating as in like watching a cockroach in a microwave. Sigh. I like some of what on Paul says. I have had people question my sanity for saying that. Literally. And this is from people who claim to be mainstream progressives. I’m used to troglodyte conservatives claiming that anyone who isn’t a conservative is either stupid or insane, but it sure seems like a recent development that mainstream people, people with college educations, would actually believe that people who disagreed with them are insane. Um, this is what the communists and Nazis believed. Just saying.
Secondly, the attacks on Ron Paul by the progressives are also scary and creepy. They cherry pick all sorts of stuff from his past, present it out of context, and then claim what a monster it makes Mr Paul out to be. Do they talk about his position on the issues? Noooooo, we apparently can’t discuss the issues any more in this country. It’s all about irrelevant peripheral stuff. And progressive’s take it with deadly seriousness. I had a progressive claim recently that Ron Paul supporter’s “heads would explode” when it was realized that one of his campaign donors was a controversial figure. Um, as long as he isn’t getting money from Al Qaeda, who cares? More on point, do they not understand that every political candidate has taken money from people with agendas, so what? Frankly one would think it would be scarier to have politicians bankrolled by the bankers whose greed destroyed the economy in the first place, like say, the mainstream candidates. Nope, not an issue. Sigh.
It’s depressing really. When I was a young man most people didn’t take politics personally, today the two parties are so polarized that it’s hard to find anyone on either side who is willing to discuss the actual issues. Well aside from wedge social issues, but I digress. Now we have a system where both parties are in lock step conviction that the other party is going to destroy the country, oblivious to the fact that both parties are completely run for and by big business, big oil, big banking, and big military. And that for three decades these people have enriched themselves at the expense of everyone else, and used the increasingly sophisticated power of advertising (helped immensely by the fact that big business owns the big media) to mould their supporter into compliant sheep.
Well, compliant until someone tries to say “Um, the herd is heading for a cliff people, we need to change direction.” And then the scary sheep fangs come out. On the plus side, on a personal level, I have concluded that people who would hold my political views against me personally aren’t really my friends. My friends hold political views that are all over the spectrum, and I don’t take any of it personally. They are good people, we just disagree on some things, so what? I suspect that if a person’s entire spectrum of friends fits into the exact same ideological slot as them, they don’t really have any friends. A person and the ideas they have are two different things, a distinction that seems lost these days in the media and public discourse.
We have a two party system working in lock step to prevent any fundamental change in this country, change that is decades overdue; while simultaneously sidelining anyone who proposes real change. Like Ron Paul. He’s the last politician standing who is willing to stand up and say that things like the War on Drugs and the War on Terror are causing more harm than good. I certainly disagree with him on some issues, and don’t think he will get elected unless there is a “King Ralph” event, but God Bless him for being a voice of sanity in a world of lies.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, the usual caveats apply. I chose this image because it just shows him as he is, he’s just an old guy, a human being like the rest of us. And sorry about all the sighs, it’s kind of my overall response to politics in America these days: Sigh.)
Another week gone. The situation in the Middle East just gets worse. And I mean the greater Middle East when I say Middle East, including Iran and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan the situation is acutely bad. Riots and demonstrations triggered by the burned Koran incident continue. And pathetically, many Americans simply regard this as “loony” rather than try to understand the far more difficult concept that these people are reacting in a way that is entirely consistent with their cultural and historical context. If a hated decade long occupier in the USA trashed some of America’s most sacred relics, Americans might riot too. In just a few weeks with just two brain dead incidents, the pissing on Taliban corpses and now this burned Koran thing, the USA has given the Taliban a huge propaganda boost and undone much of whatever good we did in the country. Smooth move.
Syria is more or less in a civil war. And in the new world order, that means intervention, IE benevolent invasion. Somalia, same deal. More drone strikes, more interventions, more inability to grasp that there are problems you can’t kill your way out of. Well, at least without killing on a scale that hopefully even the most rabid pro-war American would blanch at. One can hope at least. I think wider war in the Middle East is inevitable at this point, has been really since the USA rolled into Baghdad.
And in the USA, the Republican race to see who gets eviscerated by Obama gets weirder all the time. The Republicans are doing what the Democrats did in 2004, they seem intent on running a candidate with zero crossover appeal. The more they pander to their extreme religious base, the more they guarantee Obama’s reelection. At least that’s my take on it at the moment, could be an interesting summer.
In science news, they seem to have discovered that the faster-than-light neutrinos measurement was due to an equipment malfunction. Seem to being the operative words here, testing continues. That they can’t pin it down precisely just yet is a great illustration of just how fine scientists are slicing reality these days, we are talking extremely thin slices. Sadly, a lot of media sites pounced on this to take cheap shots at science and scientists by making this seem like it was a simple as a loose VCR cable, reinforcing the worst negative stereotypes about scientists. And these days, with massive sophisticated organized efforts under way to deny science for both political and religious reasons, I find gratuitous attacks on scientists distressing.
The myth of eight hours sleep. This one is great. There seems to be a case to be made that it’s normal for humans to sleep for two periods at night with an activity period in between. Honestly, that’s pretty much my usual pattern. Many of these blogs are written between four and six in the morning, then I go back to bed for a few more hours. There’s probably a book that could be written about things that are commonly believed to be true, with little or no scientific basis. Dogs are mammals, apples are fruit, that sort of thing.
In a last little science tidbit, research is increasingly showing that humans are naturally cooperative, not competitive. There’s actually been a lot of research like this the past few decades. It gives me hope for the species, though organized government and religion loathe research like this, don’t expect it to be getting it into school curricula any time soon. Both organized government and organized religion are predicated on the meme that without them, people would do bad things. Can’t have people doubting that, they might actually start to wonder why organized government and religion get such a big slice of the pie.
Lastly, in local news, Berkeley had its second murder of the year. Basically a lunatic attacked a man who confronted him trespassing in the man’s yard. Infuriatingly, the Berkeley police didn’t respond to the first call because they were too busy “standing by” because an Occupy Oakland march was scheduled later that night. Yerp, a massive police presence has to “stand by” when a few hundred people engage in a peaceful and legal protest, but actually protecting the public and doing their job, that gets short shrift. The media of course is having a field day blaming the protesters! That’s right folks, don’t dare engage in peaceful and legal protests, you might get someone killed!
The founding fathers are rolling in their graves at that sentiment. Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is believed to be Public Domain under US copyright law, but I will gladly amend if informed differently. The wild police over-reaction to OWS is a symptom of how far down the road to a police state this country has gone, if Washington had done their job the past few decades instead of selling the country out to the highest bidder, OWS wouldn’t be happening. Attacking protesters with riot police isn’t going to fix the problem.)
Well, no rapture. No surprise. It really is dismaying how people can believe prima facie nonsense in this day and age. It’s especially galling because so many Americans, especially the ones who fall for this kind of crap, have an especially high opinion of America and Americans. A country where tens of millions of people think the Earth is a few thousand years old or that evolution is “just a theory.” And don’t even get me started on people who think the Moon landings were hoaxed. Our educational system as once the envy of the world, it’s rapidly becoming the laughing stock of the world.
Moving right along, I think it’s clear at this point that Obama is going to get reelected. No one in their right mind is going to run against him, so its going to be a very amusing election. Especially the Republican primaries, a collection of, well, political suicide bombers like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich squaring it off. They might as well skip any actual pretense of debate and settle the issue mud wrestling. Hell, I’d pay to see Sarah and Newt go at it in a mud pit. On the plus side, I won’t have much to blog about since Obama’s inexorable progress will be painfully obvious to all. I wonder if peeps will be dancing in the streets the second time he gets elected? (Of course by then public displays of affection towards our Dear Leader may be mandatory.)
The economy still sucks. Tushima is still a disaster. The Gulf Oil Spill is still wreaking an unsung toll. Iraq is still a bloody mess, Afghanistan a repeat of Vietnam … without even the option of carpet bombing the Taliban’s cities because they don’t have any. Egypt is still a mess becasue Mubarak’s cronies throwing him and him alone to the wolves was not exactly the democratic revolution the people of Egypt struggled for and deserved. Libya is now effectively two states, with NATO bombing here and there. The totalitarian governments of Syria and Yemen are slaughtering people in the street, Syria’s may survive, Yemen’s is looking more doubtful. Bahrain is still a brutal mess. Pakistan gets more unstable every day. And the rest of the world is looking on and trying to stay out of the scrum … or see how they can benefit from it. See, more information about the state of the world in one paragraph than in an entire year of the New Yorker.
I wanted to mention Pakistan in a bit more depth. There’s been a lot of hostile talk about Pakistan in the USA, about how they aren’t a good ally, and they may have even known about OBL’s location. All possibly true. Then there’s reality. In reality, Pakistan is far more fractured and power is far more diffuse than in the USA. It takes a long time to forge a nation out of nothing, and Pakistan has had less than a century as a nation under conditions that make the United State’s infancy look like a romp in Disneyland. Secondly, aside from understanding what a mess Pakistan is, more importantly, they only joined the USA’s war against the Taliban because of threats and bribes. Pakistan was the Taliban’s best friend, for perfectly reasonable geopolitical reasons. So basically the USA is in the position of a bully who with a combination of threats and bribes forced Pakistan into a war not only against its best interests, but into a war against elements of its own society. To then blame the Pakistanis for being less than enthusiastic participants in the mess we made is, well, ignorant. We’re lucky they’ve cooperated as much as they have, we should be counting our blessings.
Lastly, as far as I can tell, the western cabal’s control of the mainstream media gets more pervasive and more subtle every day. Not that it was ever easy to figure out what was going on, but more and more huge numbers of people think they are tuned in … and they aren’t. This isn’t going to end well.
(The above image is being used legally under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Credit and copyright: Syriana2011. It’s an image of protesters in Damascus this spring. It’s obviously been photo shopped, since none of the thousands of Muslims in the image is engaged in violence.)
McCain Proposes Indefinite Detention Without Trial for Citizens … and Why I Still Think We Would All Be Better Off If He Had Won the Election
Still, this proposed law is scary. The whole concept is so foreign to the principles the country was founded upon that it’s like being in a bad dream and not being able to wake up. This proposed law basically turns the Constitution and the Bill of Rights into a piece of toilet paper and gives the President dictatorial powers to have anyone he likes locked up, permanently. I wonder if it has occurred to the good Senator that a future president could simply have Congress detained if the president was frustrated by them? I doubt it, Congress has so long gotten away with exempting themselves from their own laws that I don’t think it even crossed his mind. On the other hand, laws like this have made it onto the books before without people being locked up as a result. So who knows what this means, incipient fascist police state, or politicians pandering to the law and order sheep? It’s just one more piece in the puzzle, and there’s no box lid with a picture to see how it’s supposed to all turn out.
In any event, I’m more convinced than ever that we all would have been much better off if McCain had won the election. Well, maybe better off is not quite the word, but if McCain had won, there would still be hope. There would still be hope, because there’d still be an opposition movement to the “borrow and spend” and “war forever” insanity that is making a tiny number of people very very rich, while impoverishing the rest of us. I mean, Obama has not only continued Bush’s policies, in most cases he’s actually expanded on them. He really is the Manchurian candidate, though not in the silly way the Tea Partiers and such espouse, he’s no socialist or Muslim. He’s simply the complete political tool utterly craven to the rich and powerful who have been running the country as their own company town for the past few decades (at least.) Far from being an opposition party, the Democrats are now just the other face of the Republicans. Both are big business, big military, and big war supporters. For those of a literary bent, we are living in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and the pigs and the farmers just merged.
So it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I don’t think this fall’s elections really mean a damn thing. Even if the Tea Partiers are swept into power, they will deviate as much from the course we are already on as Obama. Anyone who seriously thinks that any Republican or Democrat is going to shrink government and cut government spending is living in a dream world. Well, a propaganda world more precisely. A world where the rich are victims, and the poor and immigrants are the source of all our problems. A world where blowing up brown woman and children on the other side of the planet in droves isn’t even newsworthy, but some guy lights his pants on fire on a plane and it’s an existential threat to the USA. I have to admit I never ever thought when I was a a kid that I’d grow up and find myself living in a world that was sillier than the comic books I was reading.
Where this is all going is anyone’s guess. The current situation is frighteningly similar to Rome at its height. An empire basically grown too large to manage, and hollowed out at the core by corruption and greed. An empire that is surviving by debasing its currency and looting foreign lands. Neither is a good long term strategy for a nation or an empire, but boy, a tiny number of people get rich beyond imagining. Sooner or later it will all fall apart, maybe with a whimper, maybe with a bang. It’s the bang that scares me most. A single event in the US even remotely like 9/11 and the country will go cuckoo bananas. Literally. And sooner or later one of our ever increasing number of enemies, or even one of our “friends,” is going to pull it off. It’s inevitable, 9/11 wasn’t the first terrorist attack in the USA and it won’t be the last. It’s the first one though where a rudderless administration seized upon it to make terror mongering a structural part of US politics and society. Yes, now we’re stuck with 9/11 mania forever, thank you Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.
Lastly, while my assessment of the overall situation is bleak, it has to be balanced by the fact that throughout history, no matter what great events and catastrophes were raging, most people in most places managed to live out their lives. I dare to say that most cities in the Roman Empire are still cities today. I was reading the other day there’s one of the grand villas (palaces) built by a Roman emperor that’s still remarkably well preserved today, because a local village grew into it and used (and preserved) its buildings. I plan to live my life and enjoy the company of my friends and loved ones no matter what, as long as people do that, ultimately the bastards will never win.
(The above image of Diocletian’s Palace. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Credit and copyright: Rialfver at nl.wikipedia. If I was a better artist I’d create an image of the ruins of Washington being viewed by tourists 2,000 years from now. And I don’t mean any of this in a bad way, American simply fell prey to the same sorts of greed and corruption that have destroyed so many prior empires. It’s been a hell of a ride, and it’s not over yet by a long shot. Parts of the Roman Empire for example carried right on for a thousand years after the fall of Rome.)
Iranian government overthrown by peaceful pro-democracy protesters, jubilant Iranians elect Obama as their next leader, Ahmadinejad flees to North Korea.
Well, that’s more interesting than my usual Friday “Through Thick and Thin” headline, eh? While I have written a fun post about the battle of Stirling Bridge, possibly history’s best example of why accountants should never be put in charge of armies, today I will restart my Friday review posts. There’s always something to review. History unfolding, scientific breakthroughs, cat news, stock market tips, End Times omens, what have you.
And this week, protests in Iran. This is actually fairly easy to understand. Everything the mainstream media says about Iran is garbage, so that immediately really simplifies my analysis. Basically, there’s always people rioting and demonstrating about something somewhere. We can’t rely on the media to tell us what they are rioting about, but the coverage of such events is revealing. To wit:
If foreign demonstrations get extensive media coverage and are portrayed as popular “pro-democracy” movements, this means the government in question has told the USA to fuck-off and they aren’t about to let the UN and the IMF run their countries to expedite western looting of their resources. This of course would be the case in Iran. If the demonstrators are opposing a US backed toady government, they will get zero mainstream media coverage. This would be the case in Georgia or Thailand. And if the demonstrators are actually opposing the hyper concentration of wealth and power that epitomizes the modern era, such as the protesters at the recent G20 conference, they will be portrayed as radical anarchist thugs. See, one can learn something from the mainstream media, one just as to know how to interpret it.
Back to Iran, I don’t really know what’s going on, and I have no idea how this will turn out. The fact that the protests are even allowed would indicate that it’s probably not the horrible dictatorship that some would like us to believe. It’s also a pretty good bet that whatever the actual results of the election, Ahmadinejad still has a lot of supporters, again, a point that one will rarely see in the western press. And lastly, one has to realize that a lot of the media is using exiles, radicals, and outsiders for their information about Iran. Um, these people might not be the most unbiased sources. In any event, here’s an interesting blog that goes into a bit more detail about western media coverage of foreign unrests: Penny For Your Thoughts. And lastly, despite the endlessly repeated claim that the Iranian election was stolen, it’s entirely possible that it wasn’t. Personally I suspect this will all blow over and Ahmadinejad will continue as Iran’s president, but we’ll see.
In our other foreign policy demon-de-jour, North Korea is making threats again. Of course they aren’t the only one. Obama has called North Korea a “grave threat to the world.” See, that’s the secret to Obama’s success, the man can say stuff that’s absurd beyond all measure, and do so without smirking, laughing, or choking. North Korea is a threat to South Korea, not the world. For the record, North Korea is a small, impoverished, badly run country on the other side of the planet. I’d say that Hollywood has destroyed the typical American’s ability to assess the magnitude of foreign threats, but sadly the American people’s penchant for over-reacting to threats pre-dates the mass media. At one point in the nineteenth century about 20,000 men, fully one third of the US army, was engaged in trying to catch Geronimo and his band of a few dozen braves. Their crime? Refusing to stay on the reservation and cattle rustling. Hmm.
In other world news, a 14 year old boy was recently struck in the hand by a meteorite. This is only the third time in recorded history where a person has been struck by a meteorite, the second being a boy in Uganda who was struck in 1992. The first was the Hodge’s meteorite that came through a roof in Alabama in 1954 and struck a woman napping on a couch. She was badly bruised but able to walk, and the story received world wide media attention at the time. Granted, three hits in fifty years means that people have probably been struck fairly often by meteorites, but it either wasn’t recorded or no one knew what had happened. I mean, if a person was out and about one day, and a rock hit them, most people would assume some miscreant had thrown it from the bushes. There is also a note in a medieval (or older) Chinese archive about an event where “thousands of people” were killed by “iron falling from the sky.” It’s pretty safe to say if this occurred as described, it was a meteor fall.
In one last note, I have started a Doug’s Darkworld twitter: DougsDarkworld. For one thing I will be using this to announce updates to Doug’s Darkworld. Primarily though this will be a place where I will post links to articles and such that I thought were really interesting or instructive, but was unable to fit them into a post. I suppose I might also make the occasional trenchant remark about ongoing world events … no screaming though, I promise. It’s bad enough my neighbours and cats have to hear me screaming when I watch the news on TV.
Have a great weekend everyone!
(The above image predates 1927 and is public domain under US copyright law. Courtesy of the National Archives. This is one of my all time favourite pictures, I apologize if I’ve used it before. This is Geronimo and his band photographed while they were being hunted by the US Army. This is significant because this is the only photograph ever taken of a native American military force operating in the field against the US Army. Whether one calls them freedom fighters or criminals, brave or foolhardy, it’s a remarkable moment captured in time.)
I’ve been mulling over McCain’s VP pick, Sarah Palin, for the past day. I’ve looked up a little bit about her, but pretty much ignored what any of the pundits had to say so I could form my own opinion. It’s a painful process but I’ve had some good luck with it before. And at the very least, if I’m wrong, I have no one to blame but myself. Sadly, I’ve also noticed that with practise, I seem to be getting better at forming opinions that seem reasonable to most people, even people who disagree with me. Why sadly? Because my opinions are often depressing.
As an aside, I just got my first “You’re a liberal F–, you should move to France with the other P—–s” comment the other day. He went on to articulate his case in a cogent and elegant manner; cutting my arguments to shreds and illuminating his position in a logically unassailable way. Snort. No, the stuff in quotes was pretty much the whole comment. I mean, sheesh, I may be a bit condescending or what not, but I really do try to listen to opposing viewpoints and am happy to have people point out where I am logically or factually in error. I’ve changed a few of my opinions because of feedback I’ve received on Doug’s Darkworld. I can pretty much guarantee that name calling and insults won’t change my mind about anything.
So anyhow I have some preliminary thoughts about Palin as VP. My first impression was, wow, she’s not a bad looking woman. I know some may say that’s sexist, no, that was my first impression and probably the first impression of a great many people. And the fact is, this certainly can’t hurt, being good looking is a huge political asset in almost any age. It was kind of a surprise pick to me, but I hadn’t really thought about it much beforehand. I was wondering if McCain was delaying his VP pick to upstage and counter Obama’s pick, if that’s the case, he’s done a brilliant job of it.
In other words, I think McCain just clinched the election. There are so many ways this can help him, and very little the Democrats can do to capitalize on it, that I think this will easily put him over the edge. I mean, what are the Democrats going to do? Attack her for their inexperience? They can’t do that without doing collateral damage to Obama. If Democrats go after her possibly criminal behaviour, the Republicans will counter with Obama’s problem in regard to criminal associates. They attack the fact that she should be taking care of her five kids, well, that’s suicidal coming from liberals! I mean, haven’t liberals claimed that having careers is what women should be doing? So far all the avenues of attack I can think of for the Democrats…are easily countered by obvious Republican ploys. I heard one of her kid’s is going to Iraq, pretty much demolishing any sort of claim she is an elitist for example.
Then there’s the crossover problem. How many McCain supporters are going to jump ship and vote for Obama now that he has Biden as a VP? Very very few, I mean, they have an old white war hero on their ticket already, and is Biden even a war hero? How many Hillary supporters might be tempted to dump Obama and his old white guy VP and vote for a young impressive female governor? More than a few I suspect. And even if there is criticism of McCain from within his party, no hard-core Republicans are going to vote for Obama. Nope, Obama listened to some cautious advice regarding his VP pick and was just checkmated as a result.
I’m not happy about this. It has an Orwellian (or Rovian) smell to it all. (I suspect a lot of liberals are going to underestimate just how clever this VP pick is.) McCain has recently started to scare me even more if that was possible, even in these already scary times. Maybe there is some horrible skeleton in Palin’s closet and this will all blow up in McCain’s face in the days or weeks to come, but right now I think he has Obama neatly boxed into a corner. God save us all.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. Credit: AFP/BBC News. Notice I didn’t say anything about Palin’s qualifications, or lack of them, for the job. That’s because I don’t think it matters, her only real job is to get McCain elected, and she seems perfectly qualified for that.)