Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
Americans mostly don’t realize it yet, but a tidal wave of unemployment is building on the horizon. This is because a second wave of unemployment due to industrialization is going to roll over the USA. The first wave was in the 19th and early 20th centuries when factories and tractors put countless millions of workers out of work in traditionally labour intensive occupations like weaving and farming. The result was a massive growth in cities around the world, and ultimately what we call the “modern world” in the west. While huge numbers of jobs were lost in fields involving manual labour, the growth of factories and the rise of the middle class ensured that ultimately industrialization was a good thing. At least until the 1980s when the middle class started losing ground, but I digress. It’s going to get much worse in the USA with tens of millions of jobs disappearing in the next few decades:
- Driving. The robotic car is now a reality. It won’t happen overnight, but virtually all occupations that involve driving are going to go. Truck drivers and bus drivers will be the first to go. Delivery people, taxis, and pretty much all other driving occupations will follow. Trains and airplanes won’t be far behind. Why pay a chopper pilot and a news guy when a drone can do the same thing?
- Clerks/checkers/baggers. Automatic checkout lines are becoming common in the big chain stores, this trend will only increase. Toll booth operators are soon to be a thing of the past. Basically any time a customer hands someone money, that job is at risk.
- Farming and landscaping applications. Tractor drivers and just in general people who operate equipment will slowly be phased out. Robotic lawn mowers are already being used on golf courses. Machines to robotically weed fields are in development.
- Answering phones. This is already well underway, but soon enough all phone calls will be handled by software. Even the guys in call centres in India will be out of work. And sales calls will eventually be replaced by robots, especially the low grade ones where they are targeting seniors and such. If someone’s job is to make or take phone calls, their job’s days are numbered.
- One can add to this list things like prisons, schools, and the Post Office … all of which will likely be privatized within the next decade. And cutting staff is the first and last thing that happens when corporations take over a private function.
I am sure there is plenty I am missing. There’s other factors to be considered. brick and board businesses moving to an Internet base will continue to happen. Lastly, many of the above jobs when they go will also put other people out of work. Robotic truck drivers will only be buying gas at truck stops for starters. A whole history and culture of truck stop waitresses, cooks, and other people providing service to truck drivers will be gone. And of course there will be indirect job losses, every time someone loses a job, they have less money to spend and other businesses suffer. On the flip side, some new jobs will be created building and servicing robotic technology. Even without drivers trucks will still need regular maintenance and repair. Still, that won’t last forever, we’ve had robotic car washes for decades, robotic repair and maintenance facilities will eventually be built.
My main point here is that simply in the natural order of things, industrialization and robotics are going to destroy huge numbers of traditional jobs in the decades to come. This is the elephant in the room that the rich and powerful take pains not to bring up. Because they and their government minions are working very hard to ensure that when these jobs are eliminated, that the salaries get redirected into the ever increasing coffers of the rich. There are plenty of things government and society could do to encourage a healthy middle class, small businesses, and self-employment … but alas the opposite is the case. Instead they have concentrated on convincing people that the destruction of the middle class is because of immigrants, unions, welfare cheats, and the like. In effect convincing people to support policies that are actually making them poorer and the rich richer.
The next few decades are going to be interesting indeed.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is a bread line during the great depression. The men are all obviously welfare cheats and scammers, look, most of them even still have hats and shoes! Democrats no doubt.)
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” —William Shakespeare
It’s been two weeks since the Boston bombing. I’ve never heard so much bullshit in my life. Or more accurately, I’ve never heard so much pontificating crap regarding such a minor event. My God, one would think another Pearl Harbor or 9/11 happened from all the calls from on high for vengeance and change. Perspective people, two disaffected losers set off some bombs. Something that has happened multiple times in US history. Then, sanity prevailed, and life went on while the authorities did their job and hunted down the perpetrators. Except this time, it’s the crime of the century, and both the immediate response and the aftermath have been wildly out of proportion. The Mayor of New York has even suggested changing the Constitution, or at least our interpretation of it, in response to this. Good job freakazoids, now our real enemies know how to spook us; a few backpack bombs and we will run around like chickens with their heads cut off.
In other words, we’ve so obsessed on preventing another 9/11 that our response to this bombing was wildly out of proportion. 9,000 troops deployed to hunt down a teenager? A whole city placed under unconstitutional martial law? American citizens treated like an occupied country? Because of one wounded teenager? This was insane. You’d have thought Chuck Norris was loose with a neutron bomb for God’s sake. And the thing that really shows how absurd this all was, the bomber wasn’t caught until after people were let out of their homes and a citizen spotted him. The whole goddamn shutdown of the city, and the massive cost that entailed, was completely utterly unnecessary. And yet people cheer, so caught up in the Hollywood style dark comedy that the War on Terror has become.
I have bad news people. We can’t prevent all terrorist attacks, assuming this is even terrorism, which is a stretch at this point. Welcome to reality. I mean, after 9/11 we spent trillions of dollars on foreign wars and creating the greatest expansion of federal government ever, so called Homeland Security. And we passed vast and sweeping laws allowing government unprecedented powers to snoop in the name of security. And with all this staggering expense, an expense that rivals our spending in World War Two, we still got “attacked.” And the knee-jerk response from government and pundits is “We need more security!” No, we need more sanity. We should analyze the risks facing America like adults, and not be panicked into doubling down on a strategy that not only has failed, a strategy that is making terrorism more likely, not less.
It’s already clear that it aint going to happen, self-reflection and debate is no longer part of the American character. Americans are living in a Dickian Hollywood movie now, a scary world where imaginary Hitlers infest every corner of the globe and must be fought with ever more blood and sacrifice. The Republic has failed.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and it is central to illustrating the post. Tomorrow, ten specific ways our response to Boston was exactly what our enemies wanted.)
Picture unrelated. OK, at a friend’s request I reviewed this YouTube video: Major General Blasts 9/11 Cover-Up. In the video, one retired US Major General Albert Stubblebine gives his opinion on what happened on 9/11. He had more than a thirty year career in the army, and was deeply involved in the counter-intelligence game. He retired from the army in 1984. A few years back he was interviewed, as shown on the video. Do I recommend the video? Well, not really. This post is going to be written assuming readers haven’t watched it and aren’t going to watch it, watch it now if one has an aversion to spoilers. I watched it, and it felt like I’d watched an episode of Ancient Aliens. I will try to deconstruct it impartially, but I clearly am prejudiced.
The first third of the video is the man establishing his credentials. The good general’s long and august career in military intelligence, all the amazing things he had done and participated in. Every word true I am sure, the man had been at the heart of the beast, the inner circles of the USA’s intelligence community in his time. Unfortunately, none of this has any bearing on his arguments or his credibility. Arguments have to stand or fall on their own merits, the person making them is not relevant. I knew I was in trouble at this point, to spend a third of an interview pumping up the interviewee’s credentials bodes ill for what follows. I was not disappointed, the august general then raised the old “a plane didn’t hit the Pentagon” stuff that has been circulating since a French opportunist wrote a book about same shortly after 9/11. Nothing that I hadn’t heard before.
Still, let’s look at this a bit further. While his military intelligence credentials were long and impressive, he apparently has zero expertise in aircraft crash scene analysis. So no matter how credible his opinion might be in some regards, his opinion about the damage to the Pentagon is at best lay speculation. And like the collapse of the WTC towers, analysis of aircraft crash scenes is not “high school science,” it’s something best left to the experts. And the experts have no problem with the airplane caused the damage to the Pentagon scenario. That doesn’t completely settle the issue of course, experts have been wrong, but it’s not a promising start.
And if we are going to look at the general’s past to give credibility to his testimony, another problem crops up. The general has been deeply involved with the paranormal, UFOs, and what-not all his life apparently. This in particular I thought interesting: “A proponent of psychic warfare, Stubblebine was involved in a U.S. Military project to create “a breed of ‘super soldier’” who would “have the ability to become invisible at will and to walk through walls”. Stubblebine reportedly attempted to walk through walls himself, without success.” It certainly suggests to me that however effective Stubblebine was at his job, he certainly had an attraction for outlandish theories. Lastly, has there ever been any issue with Stubblebine’s loyalty to the government and army? Not that I’m aware of. Is it possible that he is simply playing his role to this day? The government loves 9/11 Truthers, nothing like keeping the Russians and Chinese guessing about what’s really going on in America. And much better than them investigating the real conspiracy, to use 9/11 as justification for countless endless wars and military spending that have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.
Lastly, I have some problems with the “a missile hit the Pentagon” theory. First of all, one has to discount the numerous witnesses that saw the damn airliner fly into the building. One has to believe that the conspirators not only planted hundreds of witnesses with false testimony, they also prevented any witnesses, and there would have been lots of them, testifying about seeing a missile, not an airplane, strike the Pentagon. Then there’s the problem of what possible reason would the conspirators have for using a missile? And what happened to the plane and its 64 occupants? 125 people were killed in the Pentagon as well, including a general. The plotters didn’t want to kill the people on the airplane, but didn’t care about the people in the Pentagon? And this crash site was swarming with rescuers within moments of the crash, many of whom testified about seeing parts of an airplane and human remains.
In other words, if a missile did hit the Pentagon, we are talking a conspiracy that makes a Mission Impossible episode seem realistic in comparison. Hundreds of fake witnesses, hundreds of real witnesses silenced, fake damaged light poles struck by the plane in its final approach installed instantly after the crash, fake phone calls from the doomed airliner, a whole airliner and 64 occupants disposed of somehow, fake airliner parts placed at the crash scene moments after the impact … for what? What possible reason could plotters have for a plot so vast and insanely complicated? I can’t think of one, and I haven’t seen a conspiracy site even take a stab at the problem. If you’re going to dispose of the plane and its occupants anyhow, what’s the point of substituting a missile for the plane?
So General Stubblebine, no disrespect intended, but I am not persuaded by your testimony. I am impressed though, his story was beautifully crafted to have tremendous appeal to people who were already suspicious of the US government and harbored doubts about 9/11. (I didn’t even go into that aspect of the video.) By accident or design, the good general’s testimony has earned an honored place in 9/11 Truther lore. Good for him.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, being yet another image making the rounds on Facebook. I have no idea who holds the copyright. Trust me, it’s funny of one gets the joke. Show it to your kids if you need it explained. )
I am always changing my opinion of the human race. Usually I’m revising it downwards. Well, that’s not entirely correct. The only humans I am generally familiar with are Americans. That probably has a lot to do with why my opinion of humans keeps going down, and why my foreign friends are often so amazed at American’s attitudes. Let me clarify, I don’t think Americans are bad people or stupid people. It’s just that their ability to think and reason critically seems to be eroding every year. As far as I can tell, the average American, no matter how smart, is more inclined to use their brain to reinforce their opinions than critically examine the evidence. This tendency can be found everywhere though. After much thought, I have developed a theory. I’m sure other people have come up with the same theory, so I certainly don’t claim it to be original. To wit: I think that if people are holding a position on an issue because of religious or ideological reasons, they more or less become immune to logical argument, and instead use various logical fails to reinforce their position if challenged.
Let me give some examples. Gun control. The anti-gun control people are convinced that any gun regulation is an infringement on their rights. And thus they use a vast panoply of false arguments to deflect, ignore, and reject any and all discussion of gun control. In fact I could, and probably will write a post on the amazing array of false arguments anti-gun control proponents use. Suffice it to say, most of them aren’t willing to debate the issue. Health care is another one. People that are anti-Obamacare or in general think the US has the best health care in the world, seem more or less obsessed with the idea that they shouldn’t be forced to help other people through their taxes. They see it as a forced redistribution of wealth, and are against that in principle. Again, suffice it to say, these people argue vociferously (and badly) for the status quo. Lastly, abortion. Anti-abortion people seem to fervently believe that they are “saving babies.” They are categorically against abortion for ideological reasons, and it short circuits any discussion on the topic.
As a codicil to this, when people’s thinking is channeled by ideology/religion, it leads them to adapt extreme positions that are often so off-the-rails it’s scary. Republicans have introduced several bills now that give rapists parental rights or worse. One recent bill makes it a crime for a woman to abort a pregnancy from rape, the rationalization being that the baby is “evidence” of the crime. Right, anyone who can’t understand the insanity of a law making it a crime for a women to abort when she has been forcibly impregnated has lost touch with reality. Or the NRA’s call to arm teachers. Let’s see, putting tens of thousands of guns into schools every single day to prevent a crime that takes place maybe once a year is going to prevent gun crimes? This is one of those ideas that people proposing it didn’t think through. Which is sort of the gist of what I am saying here, if one tailors their ideas about social policy to conform to ideological limits, no real thought is required.
The worst aspect of this tendency is that it is exploited by institutions with an agenda. And while this has always been the case, the modern sciences of propaganda and advertising combined with the ubiquity of modern mass media has made this problem far worse. The NRA doesn’t discuss how to prevent gun violence for example, they spend most of their efforts convincing gun owners that the Feds are plotting to take away their guns. Thus short circuiting any discussion before it can begin. The health care industry does the same, by keeping people focused on the idea that there is something ideologically wrong with any attempt to rein in America’s out-of-control health care industry, any discussion of the basic problem … what’s the cheapest and best way to provide Americans with effective health coverage … never takes place. Basically exploiting this tendency in people short circuits any real discussion of the problem and how to resolve it. The pro-life people for example never actually want to discuss how to make every pregnancy a wanted pregnancy, they just want to ban it and insist that
people women should only be having sex if they want to have children.
Why would people be so inclined to swear allegiance to an abstraction than deal with reality? Damned if I know. I suspect there’s some survival benefit to identifying with one’s “tribe” and acting to defend it physically and intellectually. It’s also a lot easier to do than to critically examine an issue or one’s attitude towards an issue. Is this exclusively an aspect of right wing groups? No, but right wing groups are on the ascendency in the US. Republicans, the mainstream media, the energy industry, evangelical Christianity are the big players now. The biggest “leftist” player currently in the USA is the Democratic party, and while their false arguments are different, they use the ideas of pro-labor and pro-choice in a similar fashion to ensure the loyalty of their base. All of which fills me with gloom. On the one hand this is preventing any serious debate on the issues facing the USA. Worse, some of the ideological “solutions” to our nation’s problems are actually counter-productive. And scariest of all, there is the possibility that this will lead to something really really bad.
That’s for a future post though. I hope everyone is having a great weekend.
(The above image is so ubiquitous on Facebook that it might as well be public domain. I’m claiming it as Fair Use under US copyright law. I have no clue who holds the copyright, but I commend them for their creativity. So many “debates” on line are farcical these days. This is not what the communication revolution promised. Not that any revolution has ever led to something people expected.)
My brain. My poor brain. I wasn’t going to comment on current events, but this one, well, how could I not comment? Yes gentle readers, there are Sandy Hook truthers. What are Sandy Hook truthers? These are people who believe that the Sandy Hook school shooting was staged by the Obama administration to give an excuse for gun control. Really? Really? Yes, really. On the one hand, it’s not too surprising. Similar theories pop up after all sorts of events. I think partly because people are trying to make sense out of them, our brains have evolved for pattern recognition to the point where they recognize patterns that aren’t there. And partly because there are people like Alex Jones who make a good living by touting conspiracy theories. It’s safe to say that for good or for ill, conspiracy theories are a natural occurrence in human culture.
For good or for ill. Sometimes there is ill. A man who acted with compassion and understanding during the Sandy Hook shooting, sheltering children and an adult in his home during the crisis, has been threatened and harassed by people who think he is an “actor” playing his role in a government propaganda event. No good deed goes unpunished I guess. I am sure others in his situation have also been so harassed. The truth is, if one gets in the public eye these days, one is going to take some flak. I had a friend who had the same listed name as someone who was in a big public shootout on a local freeway. They couldn’t answer their phone for days afterwards because of all the calls from reporters and kooks. For good? I’m not sure I find much good in conspiracy theories. Other than that they are part of the rich tapestry that is the human experience. And can act as negative examples for those who are trying to make sense of it all.
First pass at this. Is it possible that Sandy Hook was some sort of psyops operation by elements of the Obama administration? I think it’s unlikely in the extreme. First of all, one is postulating a conspiracy with hundreds of participants. I don’t see any historical precedent for something like this. Successful conspiracies involve tiny numbers of conspirators, not hundreds. so already we have some issues. Also, and an even better point, is that it is vastly easier to capitalize on some event than create said event out of whole cloth. If Obama really wanted to use a horrible gun massacre as an excuse to institute gun control, all he had to do was wait. Huge risk of exposure turns into zero risk of exposure. I mean, the conspirators are claiming that Obama has control over the media, if this were true, it makes it even easier for Obama to capitalize on whatever gun massacre he wants to hang his hat on so to speak. Basically Obama would have to be a moron to try fake something at great risk of exposure instead of capitalizing on something at zero risk of exposure. Obama is many things, but he’s not a moron. Lastly, historically, this sort of over-the-top conspiracy has been proposed. In few cases was it ever implemented, and I’m aware of no cases where it was successful. Prove me wrong.
So I’m going with the premise that this is a ludicrous theory. Yeah, and so was the idea that a Jewish fifth column was responsible for Germany’s defeat in World War One. This brings me to the crux of this post, I’m a little alarmed by the Sandy Hook truther movement. On the one hand it’s a natural outgrowth of previous truther movements like the 9/11 truthers and the birthers. This is a little uglier, in that hatred is actually being directed at people. It’s also going even further out on a limb for people who reject Obama’s legitimacy as president. Now instead of just disapproving of everything Obama does, he is being accused of doing things he didn’t do. There’s no limit to how far thinking like this can go. It’s a sign that the nation is becoming even more polarized. An observation supported by multiple other recent developments, Republican rage at Obama’s re-election, the secession movement, and ever more vitriolic attacks on liberals, leftists, immigrants, and minorities. Anne Coulter’s latest rant is over the top, but didn’t seem to take any of the wind out of her sails.
Basically the crazier people’s beliefs, the easier it is to get them to do bad things. And the more dangerous the lunatic fringe inspired by these beliefs becomes. The idea that Obama has some sort of sinister agenda and is going to seize absolute power doesn’t pass the laugh test. He’s a politician, not an ideologue. The idea that elements on the Right driven by paranoid extremism will attempt to seize power (or assassinate Obama) seems more likely all the time. And there’s a lot of historical precedent for ugliness along these lines. Stay tuned, this could get a lot worse before it gets better.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, and I am a big fan of the show and plug it constantly, if anything this is free advertising for them. Credit and copyright: Futurama. I hope no one takes this post too seriously, I’m not proposing any course of action, just commenting on current events. I certainly hope I’m guilty of being too paranoid.)
I’m sure everyone in America, except for those in comas, have heard about the Newtown shooting last Friday. Hell, even many people in comas have heard about it, no doubt TVs are turned on in many coma wards. As with any tragedy, it brought out both the best and worst in people. The above is an example of the worst. Yes, within hours of the murder of 20 children, people were exploiting this tragedy to promote their religion. Jesus wept. This above was one of the least offensive responses. There were worse. Up to and including the Westboro Baptist Church which is planning to picket the event. They will get lots of publicity, which of course is their goal. People who worship a child killing God have no shame. Neither does the media. As of Thursday, much of the TV news is still devoted to the shooting. I find it disgusting really. Basically pandering to people’s emotions to get ratings. The classy thing to do would be to let the friends and families deal with their grief in peace, instead of turning it into a media circus. Fat chance. In any event, I waited a week to let the dust settle, let the facts get straight, and think about the shooting and the various points people have made. In no particular order, here are my observations on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and its aftermath:
Everything one hears about an incident like this should be taken with large doses of salt. This is especially true when the news first breaks. Sadly the human tendency is to put a lot of emphasis on the first things people hear, and often people will incorporate all sorts of garbage about an event into their minds simply because they heard it early on. Worse, plenty of people are well aware of this, and will rush to use it to their advantage. This is why I waited a week to blog about it. Even then, I am sure I have some of the facts wrong.
Sigh. Of course the issue of gun control was immediately in the news. On the one hand, yeah, after something like this, it’s reasonable to wonder if there is any way future events could be prevented. It’s even reasonable to ask if there’s ways to keep high ammo capacity semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of unstable people. That was about as far as reason got. The gun lobby almost immediately went on the offensive, at least by proxy. The NRA itself has been laying low I understand. They had some reasonable points, but it was mostly old nonsense. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the 2nd Amendment is indeed an individual right, a responsible citizen can indeed have a handgun in their home. They also clearly stated that the state could indeed regulate weapons and who owns them. So both sides lose. Yes, the government can indeed outlaw high ammo capacity semi-automatic weapons. And yes, no matter what, law abiding Americans have a right to have basic revolvers and rifles in their homes. Issue is settled. One wouldn’t know it from much of the stuff I’ve seen on Facebook. I’m betting nothing but symbolic gun control will be enacted, if that.
The gun lobby has suggested arming teachers as a solution to the problem. While I do not have a problem with the idea that responsible citizens should be allowed to carry some types of guns, this idea has a number of problems. Basically one is suggesting that tens of thousands of school teachers, a demographic about as far away from gun enthusiasts as it gets, are going to turn into Dirty Harries if a gun is strapped to their hip. I can think of all sorts of ways this might not work out as expected. I don’t really think that the police want to respond to a shooting where a bunch of teachers are running around shooting. If school personnel with military or police training want to carry a gun, I don’t have a problem with that. The idea that giving all sorts of teacher guns doesn’t make sense though. It would cause more problems than it solved. It’s a downstream solution.
Many are claiming that mental illness is the issue, and that by treating mental illness properly, many incidents like this won’t happen. Well, yes and no. The USA gave up on its mentally ill in the sixties and seventies by closing all the asylums and putting the patients in halfway homes. The states just never got around to funding/building the halfway homes though, so the mentally ill live with their families or live on the street. What treatment there is consists of finding drugs to control the mentally ill. Basically the costs of the mentally ill have been dumped on their families and society at large, except for profits for the pharmaceutical industry. Since Americans aren’t already up in arms about this perversion, it’s safe to say that a few school shootings won’t make a difference.
Even then, in some ways the mental illness line misses the point. This particular type of shooting, where someone goes out in public and kills a bunch of people to get revenge on the world, is almost exclusively the province of white males. That bears some thinking about. It won’t get much thinking though. If school shooters were predominantly Muslims or blacks or anything but white males, it would be a huge deal and everyone would be talking about it. And since white males easily have the best access to mental health care, clearly the idea that school shootings are caused by lack on mental health care doesn’t hold water. If school shootings were the result of lack of mental health care, their demographics would reflect society’s access to mental health care. They are the opposite of society’s mental health care demographics. In other words, shootings like this on some level are a symptom of a cultural problem.
That however is fodder for another post. America and its gun crazed, frontier mentality, cowboys and Indians, Dirty harry, white male privilege society. Have a great weekend everyone!
(The above image is viral on Facebook, so I think I can safely claim Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s an offensive image on so many levels, the utter disregard for facts being at the top of the list. Prayer and God are most definitely allowed in schools, the Supreme Court was very specific on the former. So basically people mewling about “no God in schools” are upset because public schools aren’t allowed to promote or endorse their particular religion. Anyone who thinks that a God would murder little children because their particular religion isn’t allowed to preach to and indoctrinate students in public schools … is sick in the head.)
I want to write a post about the current situation in Gaza about as much as I want a root canal. Sigh. That means I must write one. It’s both a painful and a touchy subject personally. Worse, much much worse, globally this could easily lead to a wider war. It’s not like everything is hunky dory in the Middle East right now, this is going to inflame hatred further throughout the region. That’s never a good thing.
So, what’s going on? Well, it’s pretty simple. There’s been a lot of cross border incidents in the past year, including rocket attacks by various factions in Gaza. Israel assassinated a Hamas leader, Ahmed Jabari, on November 14th. Some rockets were fired out of Gaza in retaliation. And Israel escalated into launching large scale attacks and is threatening a ground invasion. In other words, Netanyahu chose to start and escalate this now, it’s not debatable. In fact the Hamas leader that was killed was in the process of trying to negotiate a permanent cease fire with Israel. Good thing they blew him away, eh? That’ll teach those Palestinians to try and work out a lasting peace with Israel. And of course England and the USA have fallen all over themselves supporting Israel. Western press coverage is simperingly pro-Israel. A blog dedicated to that is in the works.
Background: Israel has the military advantage by orders of magnitude. Israel wields one of the world’s greatest militaries. Gaza isn’t even on the charts. This is not a contest between equals, or anything even remotely close to it. Gaza is legally Israeli occupied territory. Israel captured it from Egypt in 1967. They pulled their troops out a few years ago, and imposed a crushing blockade on the territory. Hamas is the effective government of Gaza, though there are militants not under their control. Israel refuses to negotiate with Hamas. The blockade has eased since the Egyptian revolution, Egypt has relaxed the blockade along their border with Gaza.
Why did Netanyahu attack? Damned if I know. He’s certainly a bellicose fellow. Some speculate he is doing it to get votes in an upcoming election. There’s speculation that he is trying to scuttle negotiations with Iran. There have been many rockets fired from Gaza in the past year by various factions, but no one in Israel has been killed. The timing of Netanyahu’s attack is very suspicious. If Netanyahu thinks waging war on Gaza will stop rocket attacks, why didn’t it work last time? Why launch the attack when Hamas wanted to talk permanent cease fire?
As of my writing this, Netanyahu is launching more attacks. I think it’s crazy. Weakening Hamas will just strengthen more radical Palestinian factions. And since this will likely strengthen Hamas, wtf? The attack gives hard liners in Egypt more traction, not to mention in Syria. The attack is also triggering anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment throughout the world, I don’t see how that is in Israel’s interests. And somehow I doubt Obama appreciates another layer of added complication to the Middle East situation. Lastly, the US’s enemies around the globe will be looking at this to see if they can exploit it in any way. Yeah, the USA needed that.
In other words, Netanyahu is risking terrible regional or even global consequences in order to strengthen his hand in elections. That strikes me as criminally insane. Yet some Americans are cheering him on. That’s just ordinary insane. There are Palestinians and Israelis working for peace, the Netanyahu government isn’t among them, and in fact is doing its best to perpetuate the violence.
The bottom line, the one so many in the west refuse to understand, is that Israel has held all the cards since 1967. (Since 1948 actually.) Yet instead of annexing the occupied territories, or letting them declare independence, Israel has kept them in stateless limbo for decades while slowly stealing their land bit by bit. Not to mention constantly and routinely using military force in the occupied territories, both a threat and an actuality that dwarfs the threat of Hamas rockets in Israel. Israel reaps what it sows, and it has been sowing war for decades.
My heart goes out to all the innocent people in the region, they as always are the victims. God help us all if this war spreads.
(The above image was taken from a Gazan web site, it claims to show some of the current violence. I’m claiming it as Fair Use, and since I am critical of Netanyahu’s current attack, hopefully the copyright holder wouldn’t object. And if it turns out the picture isn’t what it claims, well, the blarney is flowing thick and fast from almost every faction in this ugly mess. Just turn on the mainstream news or look at Wikipedia.)
Well, been a few changes the past few days. Obama won the 2012 election, no big surprise there. I was pretty sure all along that he would be hard to beat, the man is shrewd politician. Even his weak performance at the first debate was deliberate I now suspect, it just made his final two debates that much better. Though despite all the crowing on the liberal side, the popular vote was very close, this was not a landslide or a mandate. It was however a slap-in-the-face for the most neanderthal on the right, the five worst pro-rapist politicians soundly lost their elections, as did a number of tea partiers. And things like gay marriage and marijuana decriminalization won in a number of states. I don’t think the election results are all that surprising, though I hear many on the right are shocked. Yeah, well, many on the left were shocked when Bush was re-elected, the shocked righties will live. I think basically Romney alienated pretty much everyone but straight white males, allowing Obama to squeak by on a broad coalition despite the weak economy.
It would be nice if the Republicans decided to work with Obama the next four years instead of devoting themselves to obstructionism and making sure Obama didn’t win re-election. So far it’s not looking good. There’s even talk of employers retaliating against their employees because of the results of the election. Classy, real classy. And the interesting coincidence of the two maps above doesn’t inspire me with hope and change. The top map is the results of the election. The bottom map are the states that seceded during the civil war. Though the map was a bit premature, Obama did win Florida. I sometimes wonder if the south should be allowed to leave the union, lately it sure seems like they don’t want to be a part of it.
On the other hand, divided America aside, I have hopes that the results of this election means that despite what the Tea Partiers think, the nation is shifting back in a liberal direction. It’s been heading right since Reagan, it would be nice to live to see the pendulum swinging the other way. Not surprising really, it’s hard not to notice that borrow and spend, the upwards transfer of wealth, and endless military/security/police/prison spending … at the expense of infrastructure/education/health care … hasn’t delivered on all of its promises. Or any of them, unless one really wanted endless war. As I am sure someone has said better, if giving the rich tax breaks created jobs, everyone in America and their pets would be employed. Plus it would be cool to see another cultural revolution like the 60s, humans always come up with interesting new stuff. Some are dragged into the future kicking and screaming, some look forward to every new day.
Moving right along, General Petraeus is moving right along. Darling of the neocons and pro-war media (aka the mainstream media,) General Petraeus, the man who convinced Americans to shed more American lives so that we could pretend we “won” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has resigned as Director of the CIA. I for one am relieved, the man was more politician than general, and his presidential aspirations sure seemed palpable to me. He resigned because it turned out he was having an affair with his biographer. There are also concerns that he may have allowed her access to information that she wasn’t permitted to access. It’s all rather vague at this point. It would be nice if he was replaced by someone who wasn’t going to use the office as a stepping stone to the presidency. Someone actually tuned into the real world. I’m not holding my breath.
Speaking of the real world, that’s the topic of the next blog. I plan to segue from politics to the real world. Then some fun posts on science, Vikings, neanderthals, and related subjects. It’s gonna take a lot to wash the election from my brain. Lastly, I hope everyone is having a Happy Veterans Day. I honour those who have served in uniform for their country, I spit on those who send uniformed men and women to die in senseless wars that have nothing to do with national defense. One can be pro-firefighter without being pro-arsonist, something our war culture obsessed media generally neglects to mention these days.
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s all over Facebook, no idea who to attribute it to. Yes, that’s the original Pledge of Allegiance, from before the USA started turning into a theocracy. Maybe this election means that tide has turned too, one can only hope.))
On the way to work today the bus got mired in traffic. Then I saw emergency lights ahead, the police were routing traffic into one lane. Getting closer I saw why. There was an injured kitten in the road, a half grown little stripey guy. One of the cops was standing so as to keep him in the shade. For some reason the sight just about to broke my heart, I cried on and off all day. So much sadness in the world, this just put me over the edge I guess. I hope the little guy made it.
I’ll be glad when the election is over. It’s been one of the uglier elections in my memory, if not the ugliest. I still honestly don’t give a crap who wins, both candidates have aspects that are so so creepy it makes my flesh crawl. Both candidates are a tool of the bankers, militarists, and energy cartel. Obama’s social policy window dressing is a bit better, but living in a theocracy might actually make Americans snap out of their revery. More on point, I think if Superman got elected, we’d still be hosed. America is like a stately old oak tree … completely rotted out inside. It looks majestic, but one of these days there will be a stiff breeze and down it goes. It’s not going to be pretty.
Obama. Barrack “kill list” Obama. I find it more than disturbing that the POTUS maintains a kill list, a list that can and has included Americans. It’s disturbing in and of itself, but that no one is upset about it is just plain scary. Nixon had an enemy’s list, and was excoriated for it; Obama has a kill list, and no one cares? People went wild over non-existent “death panels,” but don’t care that Obama has set himself up as a death panel of one? I am not reassured.
Then we have the rapist’s right’s party. Think about this: We have a Senate candidate Mourdock claiming that a rape pregnancy was a gift from God and couldn’t be aborted. He said he anguished over this question before coming to that conclusion. I’m a little unclear what he anguished over. He couldn’t have anguished over how he would feel if he were raped and impregnated, since that can’t happen to him. So he must have anguished over how he would feel if he raped and impregnated someone. And he concluded that whoever he, or any man, chooses to rape; if the woman is impregnated, she must bear the child. The rapist gets to choose, the raped victim doesn’t. Right. Romney endorsed this guy. Ryan holds similar view. This is crazy, a perversion of Christianity, and an example of rape culture. Again, not reassured.
I like Jill Stein, but nothing short of a miracle will get her in the White House. It might make a good science fiction story, or an unlikely Hollywood movie. I think they put Ron Paul back in cryogenic suspension, I don’t know where he went. Probably conveyed to media purgatory. There’s other stuff on ballots. I’m cynical about it all. The special interests have it locked up, even when they lose, they have the lawyers and the money to fix it. Legalized corruption on a scale never before seen in history. See, the USA is still number one! On the other hand, unlike so many people, I’m not going to freak out no matter who gets elected. Whoever gets elected has my support, at least initially. Whoever wins has an unholy mess to contend with, and the last thing America needs now is sore losers. My studied neutrality may only last to the acceptance speech, tomorrow is another day.
Lastly, so as not to be accused of excess negatively, can I envision an encouraging outcome on election day? Yes. Yes I can. I hope the winning candidate sees an injured kitten in the road, and his heart is softened and his mind is cleared, and he gives an acceptance speech that resonates with all Americans, and opens a dialog that begins to heal this fractured land. See, I can still dream.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Not being used for profit, it’s just such a lovely image, I couldn’t resist. I got it from this site. It’s destruction from Hurricane Sandy. The image says a lot to me. Who is this woman? Where is she going?)
This close to the election, everything seems to revolve around the election. At least if one is a hard-core Republican. Or more on point, everything seems to revolve around hating Obama. The bodies weren’t even cold in Benghazi and Romney was heaping criticism on Obama, and he never let up. Odd, I don’t recall the GOP ever criticizing Bush for his military fiascoes, but once Obama was in charge, nothing but criticism. Hurricane Sandy appears to be the same. A Republican governor praises Obama for his prompt and effective response to Hurricane Sandy, and right wing pundits are foaming at the mouth. Classy, real classy. I used to be a Republican, but the party I knew at least acknowledged that we were all Americans, and that it was the politician’s job to work together to run the country. Now Republicans seem to be trying to outdo themselves at reaching ever more ridiculous levels of partisanship. Granted there are voices on the left falling into the same trap, but I’ve yet to hear any liberals criticizing Obama for helping out a Republican governor. Plenty of them have praised Governor Christie though, I was impressed. Yeah, the storm was a break for Obama, but the Republicans could have handled the situation with far more dignity, instead they made it clear no matter how bad things get, no matter how many Americans die; Obama and the people who support him, tens of millions of Americans, can go f**k themselves. I’ll be glad when the election is over and Romney can move on to being a rodeo clown.
Speaking of Hurricane Sandy, or Superstorm Sandy as some are calling it, it was quite the storm. At least 90 dead in the USA, far more in the Caribbean. It wasn’t a super powerful storm, but it was super huge, one of the biggest hurricanes on record, it affected 24 states in the USA and numerous nations in the Carribean. Sandy wasn’t unprecedented, but it was certainly unusual. It’s already on track to be the second most damaging USA East Coast hurricane ever. Still, several times a century a storm like this can be expected to hit New York. And the frequency will be going up as the tropical seas get warmer. The real damage was caused by the storm surge. A storm surge is a pile of water pushed ahead of a storm by winds, surges of over 30 feet have been recorded. Think a tide thirty feet high. Not a pretty sight, storm surges are the big killer in hurricanes and cyclones. On the plus side, they can be prevented. A storm surge killed thousands in Holland in 1953, giant coastal defenses were built to prevent it happening again. Such were suggested for New York long ago, the idea is being revisited in the aftermath of Sandy. We’ll see.
A discussion of Sandy wouldn’t be complete without some mention of global warming. Was Sandy caused by global warming? It’s impossible to say, global warming is about climate, not weather. A fact that global climate change deniers conveniently ignore pretty much every time there is a severe snowstorm somewhere. Granted plenty of global warming activists are claiming that Sandy is clear proof of global warming. I feel their frustration, the globe increasingly is having the kind of extreme weather events that global warming predicts, the fact that it’s not possible to conclusively say that a particular event was caused by global warming is very difficult to explain to people who want to resist science they don’t approve of. However, even if global warming didn’t cause Sandy, it made it worse. That seems to be pretty clear to the climatologists. And at least it got the topic back on the news, that’s a good thing. Good for everyone except the coal and oil industry, sadly they own a lot of think tanks, politicians, and journalists … and they’re not afraid to use them.
In other Sandy news, a Brazilian model, Nana Gouvea, thought it would make a nice backdrop for a photo shoot. One pic helpfully posted above. Her pics went viral. She got heaps of criticism and outrage. Granted it is a tasteless and tacky thing to do. On the other hand, she got tons of publicity. No harm, no foul. It’s not like she’s aspiring for political office, and she didn’t actually hurt anyone. I think it’s a clever idea. Ya, people are outraged. So what? On a scale of one to ten when it comes to outrageous items in the news, this is a zero. There’s tons of sleaze and crime every day far more deserving of outrage than a tasteless photo shoot. Priorities people, priorities. Heck, as my friend Steve Burke said: “Some guys will be seeing the damage for the first time thanks to these photos.”
Have a great weekend everyone!
(The above images are claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, they aren’t being used for profit and are central to illustrating the post. I don’t know who to credit the top one to, the second I assume is owned by Ms Noumea herself. Since I linked to her site and praised her photo shoot, hopefully that’s attribution enough. It would be nice if someday copyright law could be re-written to reflect reality, alas industry is easily the slowest element in a culture to adapt to changing times, and often uses its influence to impeded progress. Another blog post for another day.)