Tag Archives: Politics

Ok…one last item

Please indulge me for a moment and allow me to gloat.  The first 15 seconds of this clip are priceless.  I could watch this on a loop for…well at least once or twice.

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Mogadishu 2016!!

Who would have thought a platform based on the ideas that rape was god’s plan, the world is 6,000 years old and evidence based science is a secret liberal plot wouldn’t connect with 21st century voters?

On the bright side, that’s exactly the platform that’s winning in parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali and Yemen! Don’t give up yet, GOP!

The Iron Heel

Like most American school children (I hope, at least) I was exposed to some of Jack London’s stories (White Fang, Call of the Wild, To Build a Fire) pretty early.1  Of course, introducing us to the icons of American literature at such an early age allows our teachers to avoid messy aspects of the authors that our society, with its fixation on hero worship, good/bad dichotomies and bumper sticker explanations like to ignore.

So, it was with interest that I read that Jack London had written a precursor to the distopian genre in a book called The Iron Heel.  I picked it up and began reading.  That was when I found out that Jack was an ardent Socialist 2.

At other times I probably wouldn’t recommend this book but, given our current political and economic environment, I would recommend it very highly.  Even though it was published over a century ago, if you’re concerned about companies ‘too big to fail’, political cronyism and corruption, the militarization and misuse of domestic security forces, the disenfranchisement of citizens, terrorism and the lack of choice among the various candidates and similar issues, you’ll be interested to see how similarly these problems were discussed at the turn of the last century.

So, does that mean London then, and people with similar concerns today, are simply Chicken Littles, declaring the sky is eternally falling?   Well, certainly Socialist thinkers were unable to conceive of the flexibility and ability to adapt of Capitalism.  Things like the New Deal just weren’t on anyone’s radar then 3  I’m not sure that invalidates the whole line of thinking, however.  Just because a system has flexibility in it doesn’t mean it’s infinitely flexible.

Feeding off some of those concerns (but, by no means sharing a Socialist underpinning) I was interested in the following blog posts that all seem to fit together.

First is by Paul Pillar who writes about “The Plutocratic Tradition in America” in which he talks about America in the late 18th century and the beginning of the tradition of the rich and well connected to game the political system in order to transfer wealth from the poor to themselves.  At that time it led to the Whiskey Rebellion (which I wrote about here):

The Whiskey Rebellion tends to get treated in textbooks today as a landmark in establishing the authority of the fledgling federal government. But it was first and foremost class warfare—as was the forceful response to it, which was cheered on by well-to-do gentry anxious to quash what they regarded as a democratic threat to their class’s economic position. Today “class warfare” gets hurled as an epithet against political opponents, but class warfare—waged by classes above as well as ones below—has a long history in America.

Fabius Maximus (via YT) talks about another aspect of the problem.  Our continued militarization of society and what it means.

We are at war, a war now in its second decade. We’re increasingly mobilizing every aspect of our society to defeat the enemy. Not just the massive expansion of our military, intelligence services, and domestic security services (no longer well-described as “police”).  Inevitably this militarization spreads, affecting other aspects of our society.  Our enemy is America, America-as-it-once-was. We’re winning!

Indeed.

 

  1. And as is often to case, too early to really understand and appreciate them
  2. Not a Socialist in the way the term is used today and applied to people like the president but a real, anti-capitalist, workers taking over the means of production Socialist.
  3. Either was radar but that’s another story.

I can’t help myself

Ok, this isn’t entirely fair picking on the Tea Party people because cognitively they aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed but I saw this on the Book of Faces yesterday and I can’t resist posting what I assume someone actually thinks is a coherent thought…

Occult religions are roll-your-own religions and typically they combine a lot of different aspects of other religions. People should not spend too much time and effort trying to label Obama one thing, because he is a combination of a lot of different things, Muslim, Black Nazi, pseudo-Christian, Marxist/Communist . Ultimately, it is about self-worship. He believes he is a higher being with a divine mission to transform the world in his own image.

 

Ohh…I also bet he’s also vegetarian and puts empty milk containers back into the fridge!

And speaking of fridges…How about this link to a Daily Mail story.  Did you know Michelle Obama was on a secret mission to starve our children to death?

We’re hungry! Students revolt over Michelle Obama’s 850-calorie school meals with online video as First Lady faces growing anger

That’s right…Michelle Obama only wants to give growing children 850 calories…for lunch.  I suppose most families, living in free market utopias, refuse to feed their children breakfast or dinner as they are afraid it’ll make kids dependent on handouts.

This is a great story that really could only run in places outside the U.S. or in places where people have never actually seen American kids.  Apparently our biggest problem is a glut of  student athletes who “can burn through as many as 5,000 calories a day – but they are still entitled to no more than 850 calories for their lunch.”

Been to Wal-Mart lately?  Oh, yeah.  We’re awash in school age kids with Adonis like physiques.

And of course, this misses the bigger (excuse that) point.  These are people who hate government intervention complaining about…interference in their government run school lunch program.

Indeed…Get the gubmint out of my government run school lunch program!

Yes, and social security and Medicare are paragons of free market capitalism.

Shouldn’t the argument be…’Stop all subsidized lunches!’  Leave it up to parents to decide how much (or if) their kids should eat lunch 1.  That’s at least a position consistent with the modern conservative movement.

If it hasn’t already, the Right is in danger of becoming a parody of itself.  Oh, who are we kidding…it became that a long time ago.

 

  1. Of course, parents can still provide or supplement their kids’ lunches if they want so this whole thing is a bullshit issue…in other words, just what you’ve come to expect from these types of arguments.

Romney’s wtf comments about Iran

One hardly knows where to begin…

“If I were Iran, if I were Iran—a crazed fanatic, I’d say let’s get a little fissile material to Hezbollah, have them carry it to Chicago or some other place, and then if anything goes wrong, or America starts acting up, we’ll just say, “Guess what? Unless you stand down, why, we’re going to let off a dirty bomb.” I mean this is where we have—where America could be held up and blackmailed by Iran, by the mullahs, by crazy people. So we really don’t have any option but to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon.”

Notice, his description of Iran 1  describes them as ‘crazed fanatics’.  Well, if that’s how you view them, then I suppose there’s no need bothering to treat them like rational actors.

And that, my friends, is just the sort of thinking that can lead us to war.  After all, if the commander in chief thinks that the Iranians aren’t motivated by things like security (Iranian generally or the ruling party’s more specifically) then I guess there’s no need to try to ease those concerns in order to reach an agreement.  It is a view that equates the Iranians (and let’s face it, probably most of the rest of the world) as creatures that respond to only one thing:  pain.

Like the gay kid whose existence offends you, the only thing to do is to throw them down, have some of your buddies restrain him, terrify him and cut his hair.  Or, just keep implying that if Iran doesn’t unconditionally surrender we’ll be the ones wiping someone off the map.  Don’t bother thinking that such talk might actually cause the Iranian government to hurry up and build a bomb lest they join Iraq and Afghanistan as nations that have hosted large numbers of U.S. troops.

It also (I think) fundamentally misunderstands Americans.  Does anyone really believe that if Iran said ‘We’ve got a dirty bomb in Chicago..Do what we say or else.’ we’d cower and cave?  If other countries actually believed that why wouldn’t they say it now?  There’s no need to actually have a dirty bomb (you could hide one in a huge city).

Why?  Because pretty clearly any nation that made a threat like that would receive a counter threat that said, if a dirty bomb goes off here, be prepared for a nuclear storm to rain down on all your cities.

But again, that requires you to think that the Iranians are rational actors.  And when you’ve got Romney who wrote a book called ‘No Apologies’ and refused to compromise on a theoretical deal in which he could get a budget deal which gave him a spending reduction to tax increase ration of 10 to 1 you really have to wonder who is the crazed fanatic.

  1. and who knows if that’s shorthand for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad(who doesn’t have supreme power), Ali Khamenei (who does have most of the power but hasn’t said the more inflammatory things that Ahmadinejad has), or just a general statement about Iranians in general.

Guest Post: If You Can’t Change Your Mind, Did You Really Decide?

I’d like to welcome guest blogger Festivus, who will hopefully become a regular feature here at the TwShiloh empire.

In the world of politics, today’s voters can be divided into two groups – the decided and the undecided. All of the focus is on converting undecided voters to leave that category and commit to a candidate. One simple reason for this is that undecided voters can swing either party to a victory if they can be converted. Another, less hopeful reason for this focus is that each party has accepted the premise that decided voters’ minds cannot be changed. People are steadfast in their decisions and reinforce them until they cannot budge. They become each candidate’s ‘base.’ A result of this may be that decided voters are taken for granted. Maybe that’s deserved. Maybe not. Either way, as a decided voter, it got me thinking, “What would it take to change my mind? Can I change my mind? There’s got to be something that would shift me away from my current choice.”

In the past, I’ve described intelligence as open-mindedness and the willingness to hear and think through new, foreign or conflicting ideas, opinions, and theories and then draw an informed conclusion. Stupidity is the opposite – refusing to hear or consider new or different positions. Right or wrong, these are my personal judgments.

Assuming I want to meet my own standard of intelligence, I need to be willing to take in new data and revisit my decisions. Often. As variables change, the equation changes. That makes tremendous sense to me at a theoretical level. I know I actually do this all day, every day, as a financial advisor attempting to interpret a plethora of data points to determine opportunities and risks for my clients. But do I live up to that standard on a personal level?

So, back to the presidential election and changing my mind. Here’s what I came up with. It’s by no means a clear spectrum or comprehensive list, but it’s got some points that seem particularly relevant to voters these days. The question is, how relevant are they to you? I wanted to keep the list short and made up of fairly discrete issues – not too open to interpretation. Are decided voters really that intractable? Here’s the test to evaluate your own willingness to change your mind (for all of you decided voters out there). Consider just your presidential candidate of choice. We’re not talking about changing parties, long term loyalties or anything so grand. This is a simple question. Would any one of the following activities, if found to be true, make you abandon your current choice in the upcoming election? What if your candidate…

1)      was found guilty of lying to voters about policy decisions

2)      was found guilty of tax evasion

3)      was found guilty of adultery

4)      was found guilty of alcohol/drug abuse

5)      was found guilty of spousal abuse

6)      suddenly took the opposite stance on abortion rights from the present

7)      suddenly took the opposite stance on tax cuts

8)      suddenly took the opposite stance on gay marriage

 Note, this does not mean you’d vote for the opposition. It just means you’d withdraw support from your current choice. So the question again is: if you woke up today to find that ONE of the above now applied to your candidate, would you drop him? I’m curious because these are big issues and it seems that the current assumption by the politicos is that no one would change teams even if any (all?) of the above were found to be true. I know that there are certainly points above that would make me drop my guy. In a heartbeat. But not all of them.

 I hate to think that so many voters are entrenched and unwilling to change directions. It would a bad sign for our country and our culture. It would certainly be a very bad sign for our politics. Maybe the line that a candidate would have to cross to be abandoned is personal and particular to every voter. That’s ok. But I’d like to think there are also some lines that would drive all voters to leave a candidate. There has to a line somewhere. If not, then decided voters shouldn’t be called ‘decided,’ we should be called ‘owned.’

Who are you and what have you done with Megadeth?

Oh, Dave, Dave, Dave…What have you done.

I haven’t been a rabid fan of Dave Mustaine and Megadeth but ever since the late 1980s they were in my collection.  Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying and So Far, So Good…So What! were really iconic albums at the early thrash movement.

And so it comes to all of us at TwShiloh World HQ as a sad bit of news to hear that dear ol’ Dave has officially gone bat shit crazy and embraced the tin foil hat wearing paranoid in him. Now, if that’s what he wants to do, that’s fine but dude, really?  You’re going to subject your concert ticket buying fans to this?

Dave Mustaine, lead singer of heavy metal band Megadeth, said that Barack Obama “staged” the recent shootings in Aurora and at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is why The Who spoke for all rock monsters (and got it right) when they said ‘Hope I die before I get old’ because more often then not this people who were idolized by millions can’t maintain their talent for decades and can’t fade gracefully into the background.  They have to hang on the fringes of our culture, getting increasing irrelevant and either doing ever more desperate things in order to regain that limelight or they go ga-ga where we all can see it, tainting the fond memories they bestowed upon us, lo these many years ago.

So, I beg you, ignore the Dave Mustaine of today.  Remember back to his glory days when he probably wasn’t any smarter but at least he knew enough to keep it a secret that he lived in crazytown.

Now let’s finish up with a little anarchy, shall we?  And try not to remember that the guy who sang this was endorsing Rick Santorum for president just a few short months ago.

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In which I (briefly) lower myself into the muck

I will try my hardest to keep election season partisanship out of this blog (uh, oh…I sense a ‘but’.  eds.) but, this is related to topics generally covered here and so I think it’s fair game.  Plus it’s totally bogus.

Check this out.

A group of former military and intelligence operatives launched an aggressive campaign against President Obama Wednesday, accusing the president of claiming undue credit for the Usama bin Laden raid and suggesting his administration is behind politically motivated security leaks.

“Mr. President, you did not kill Usama bin Laden. America did,” Navy SEAL Ben Smith said in the video. “The work that the American military has done killed Usama bin Laden. You did not.”

Let’s begin:
Dear ‘Team OpSec’,
Go fuck yourselves.
Love,
TwShiloh 1
So, these ‘intelligence operatives and special forces’ types think they are responsible for killing bin Laden.  Let’s follow that chain of logic for a minute.
If they think the credit for bin Laden should only go to the armed forces, I suppose that means their willing to accept responsibility for things that didn’t go quite as well.  For example:
  • The ‘American military and intelligence community’ didn’t do a very good job at stopping bin Laden over the past 15 years.  What, were we trying to lull him into a true sense of security?
  • They also let bin Laden (and others) slip through their fingers at Tora Bora.
  • The intelligence community also failed to see that WMDs in Iraq were not, in fact, a ‘slam dunk’.
  • They were not able to achieve success in Iraq or Afghanistan
So, assuming these ‘quite professionals’ are the paragons of professionalism they want you to think they, I suppose they’re going to follow up this effort with an apology for a decade of continual screw ups.
I don’t know about you, but I won’t be holding my breath.
And their position is an obvious lie in that they didn’t act until they go the approval from the president.  Please, tell me who were the people that, if the president didn’t give the approval, were going to leap up and say:
I don’t care what the president says, we’re going to get that SOB.  C’mon, boys! Fire up the choppers.  Our careers will be over but this is for America!
Yeah, don’t hold your breath for that either.  He gave the approval on what was, by all accounts, a very risky proposition.  If the operation had failed I think we can all be confident that we wouldn’t see these *ahem* ‘quite professionals’ lining up to say:
“Mr. President, you did not fail to kill Usama bin Laden. America did,” Navy SEAL Ben Smith said in the video. “The work that the American military has done come up short and we failed to kill Usama bin Laden. You did not.”

 

Hey, man.  You don’t like leaks of classified material for political purposes, get in line.  There’s probably a good argument to make there and your efforts might actually be constructive. If, however, you want to explain why this leak is more of a threat to civilization than that leak you’ve got some work cut out for yourself. Leaks of classified information are, as someone described it recently, the ‘currency of Washington’ and have been for decades by everyone (politicians, civil servants, the military and lobbyists).

But it’s not about that.  You don’t give a crap about leaks.  You just don’t like this crypto-Socialist/Jihadi/Muslim/Black separatist/terrorist/illegal alien guy sitting in the White House.

And for that, you can take your campaign and shove it up whatever orifice of yours you chose.

  1. Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system.  Serious discussion to follow.

Chickenhawks!

From Mother Jones, which candidates get the most funding from servicemembers?

Might be worth mashing this chart up with the belligerence of the candidates and their threats to enter into new conflicts.

I suspect the relationship is inversely proportional.

Everything is changing

The National has an insightful review of ‘Why it’s Kicking off Everywhere‘ by Paul Mason. The book discusses the rise of ‘frustration’ movements (a term I just made up…add that to TwShiloh lexicon) that includes such diverse movements as the Arab Spring, Occupy movements, the London riots, and demonstrations in Greece and Russia.

Now I haven’t read the book and I’m a little leery of attempting to weave very recent events into a grand historical narrative (after all, I can imagine that the invention of the Number 2 pencil was heralded as a civilization changing event – at least by the inventor’s mom).  In fact I’m not even sure we can say these events will be more than a footnote a decade from now.  After all, it’s not like any of these movements has really achieved anything yet.  They may get smothered by the power of the Westphalian nation state.

But Jamie Kenny’s review of Mason’s work does attempt to link all these disparate movements together and provide a framework for considering them.

Specifically, I’d like to draw your attention to this paragraph:

…where earlier generations of revolutionaries exemplified the enlightenment project of general emancipation, their successors have been trained to work in the info-capitalist context of zero loyalty, self-reliance and flexibility. They value skills over knowledge, fluidity over permanence, networks over hierarchy. Once, they were supposed to be the job-hopping consultants, freelancers and executives of the future. “The revolts of 2010-11,” writes Mason, “have shown, quite simply, what this workforce looks like when it becomes collectively disillusioned, when it realises that the whole offer of betterment has been withdrawn.”

And that is what connects the various movements we’ve seen over the past couple of years.