Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘politics

Ron Paul

with 3 comments

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.)

Written by unitedcats

April 3, 2012 at 7:03 am

Supreme Court Rules “National Unborn Persons with Disabilities Act” Constitutional in a 5-4 Decision

with 5 comments

Today the Supreme Court ruled against the Obama Administration and declared that the Unborn Persons with Disabilities Act, passed by both houses of Congress over President Obama’s veto, is now the law of the land. The controversial law declares that an unfertilized human egg cell is simply a person with a disability, and is guaranteed the same rights and protections as any other person under the constitution. America’s pro-life groups and religious leaders praised the decision.

The lame duck president, less than a month from the end of his second term, gave a press conference where he announced the administration’s hands were now tied, and that he was instructing all relevant federal agencies to immediately begin implementing the various provisions of the law. All forms of birth control and abortion are now illegal under federal law, and even providing information about birth control or family planning is now retroactively a federal crime. Planned Parenthood and other similar now banned groups have 72 hours to both disband, and turn all their records over to the newly created “Protection of the Rights of the Unborn Agency.”

World leaders were mixed in their response to the decision. Most were very guarded in their remarks, no doubt in part because the incoming Gingrich/Palin Administration has threatened to use “all available options” against any country they deem a “hostile nation.” In contrast, the Pope, and the leaders of the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Talibanistan (formerly Afghanistan,) were effusive in their praise of the decision.

The most controversial aspect of the act, the womb monitoring provision, will be implemented on a state by state basis. This is the provision where the state will monitor the conditions in all fertile wombs to make sure no egg is endangered by birth control, drug use, or other egg life endangering activity. And to make sure that all pregnancies are reported to authorities in a timely fashion so that further protections for the unborn person can be implemented. Numerous states have already announced that womb monitors will be surgically implanted in all females of child bearing age. California’s governor Baldwin was one of the few to opt for the less intrusive monthly blood tests and random home health and welfare spot checks, however the act’s sponsors have already announced they will amend the act to make  surgically installed womb monitors mandatory under federal law for all women over age ten.

Some small groups vowed to fight implementation of the act, foremost among them being the banned terrorist group Occupy Wall Street, but with thousands of the country’s leftist activist leaders already in Guantanamo II on Diego Garcia, little actual opposition is expected. Violence has been reported at numerous abortion clinics and planned parenthood centres around the country as crowds of pro-lifers stormed them to prevent the destruction of any records they might be holding that could be used to identify pregnant women, as well as records that might implicate people for illegally providing birth control or abortion services. Local authorities have reportedly done little to prevent these acts, and in some states reportedly had joined the pro-life crowds in their actions.

***

Could never happen, right? I’m not sure, the GOP has thrown caution to the wind and is proposing laws all over the country that are very much along these lines. Redefining rape victims as “accusers.” Forcing women to have a medical device shoved into their vaginas for a completely unnecessary medical procedure as a condition for getting an abortion. An all male Congressional hearing to discuss access to female contraception. Efforts to destroy Planned Parenthood, among other cuts to funding for services for poor women and children. Attacks on the Girl Scouts!   This has been going on for years, but recently it’s ratcheted up to  whole new level of offensive and dangerous.

On the plus side, it’s reached such ridiculous extremes that people are starting to notice. The intrusive ultrasound bill was withdrawn because the outcry against it was so loud. These people, and we’re talking Evangelicals, won’t stop though. By catering to the Evangelicals to get votes, the Republicans have created a monster, a huge political force determined to roll back a century of progress and get women back into the homes raising children where they belong. I don’t know how this is going to end up, but I don’t want to live in The Handmaid’s Tale world, so I am going to speak out against this trend. If Evangelicals want to live in such a world, they are free to do so, but they have no business trying to force it on the rest of us. And if the mere sight of say a gay couple holding hands on the streets offends them, there is a solution: Avert your gaze.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Frankly I’m not quite sure whose side Obama is really on,  but for the purposes of this post I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. So coming soon, fun posts about abortion, birth control, and the whole Evangelical war on women.)

Written by unitedcats

February 23, 2012 at 9:05 am

The Normalization of Empire

leave a comment »

I have a question for both Republicans and Democrats. There’s something I don’t understand. Since the 1970s both of these parties have systematically and consistently sold out the American people to corporate, military, big oil, and big banking interests. The result has been the largest upwards transfer of wealth in history, an economy based on fast food, banking, and selling each other houses. And the largest pile of debt in history, debts our grandchildren will be paying off. Or more simply put, every year since the mid 1970s the poor and middle class have lost ground, while the rich got richer … every step of the way overtly or tacitly accepted by  both parties.

And here we are, forty years later, and I hear fervent republicans and democrats claiming that their party will fix this mess, and the other party will make it worse. So here’s my question. How can any inteligent person think that the people who made the problem in the first place are going to fix it? It defies reason, though boy, the rationalizations, prevarications, and denial coming from both camps is fast and furious. How come so many people are passionately defending the status quo, because if they vote for either party that’s what they have been doing for decades, while being absolutely convinced that their party will make the needed changes?

It’s not a rhetorical question. It is however a question that I think I have some insight into. I think there’s a number of things going on here that have created and are perpetuating this mess. Some of them due to human nature, some due to the nature of society and culture at large, and some due to very cynical propaganda and advertising by the people at the top who are profiting enormously from all this mess. This is sort of a collated rant, bear with me.

A key part of our current situation is hyping social controversies to the point of no end. Things like abortion, prayer in school, gay marriage, gun control, immigration, and others. These are all social policy issues that people have been programmed (easily enough since people do tend to feel strongly about them,) to think of as major issues of national importance. No, they’re not. That’s right, abortion, gay rights, and all the rest are not issues of national importance. They may be divisive, they may be emotional, but they don’t have anything to do with running the country. Because they have been shamelessly politicized by politicians pandering for votes does not actually make them political issues.

They serve their purpose though, they are a great way from distracting people from the real issues. Or more accurately, they really help convince people that their party is the right party … and completely obscure that fact that on important issues of national policy, both parties are the same. Both parties are pro war, pro big government, pro foreign meddling, pro deficit spending, and anti constitutional. These are important issues, but because people are so focused on social issues, they get ignored. Or worse. people tacitly support them by not rocking the boat and staying in their designated republican or democratic lane.

Another part of this is that people deep down hate and fear change. Especially sudden and unexpected change. So they tend to be very wedded to the status quo. Which doesn’t mean things can’t change, it just means they change incrementally and people accept it. The boiling frogs syndrome. Now the the banks and big business own everything, they are very concerned about not rocking the boat. And it’s easy enough to convince people that they don’t want that either, since that’s just how people are. In fact we have all sorts of powerful forces who very much want things to remain as they are, no matter how bad it is for the country at large.

Lastly, one final way the powers that be continue to keep people in line is divide and conquer. IE a great deal of effort is made to blame (take your pick depending on your party,) immigrants, gays, liberals, evangelists, unions, welfare recipients, etc. Anything but the actual people in power. Which is of course exactly why the Occupy Wall Street movement is so dangerous to the people in power, it’s the first mainstream political movement in decades that is actually questioning the very foundations of power in the country, so of course it must be stopped at all costs. The Empire must go on, money must continue to roll into the coffers of the wealthy.

This may get a lot more interesting before it’s over. Have a great weekend everyone.

(The above image is claimed as fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, is central to illustrating the post, and is properly attributed: Free Speech “Zone” at the 2004 DNC Convention. (Photo: Jonathan P. Berger, flickr) These are fenced zones where free speech is allowed. I don’t think people truly understand what a horrific development this is for a free country. If free speech is only allowed inside the designated area … that implies it’s not allowed outside of it. So almost all of us are on the wrong side of the fence.)

 

Written by unitedcats

October 22, 2011 at 9:50 am

Through Thick and Thin

with 2 comments

Syria Damascus ProtestsWell, 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.)

Written by unitedcats

May 23, 2011 at 6:28 am

Sticks and stones may break my bones (but words will never hurt me).

with 4 comments

I’m sure almost every English speaking person heard that in their childhood, a mantra someone uses when someone has called them names. Of course if it was actually true, there would be no need to say so, the mere fact that such idioms exist is proof positive that words can most definitely hurt. Words can hurt, for good or for ill, they are one of the most powerful tools humans have for affecting how other people think and feel. Leaders don’t inspire crowds by drawing pictures or doing dances, most of the time they use words.

So I’ve been a little peeved at the amazing circumlocutions I am hearing from the right how the violent eliminationist rhetoric used by so many influential  figures on the right is somehow irrelevant when someone actually acts out that violence. Yes, the Arizona shooter is a nut, no doubt about that, but since Obama got elected there have been half a dozen other nuts who also went out and shot people acting out right wing ideals, from shooting policemen out of fear of gun confiscation, to actual targeting liberals such as the fellow who shot up the Unitarian church. Granted this is a very small number of cases, but still, there is a pattern here. More on point, these shootings didn’t take place when Bush was in office, they took place after the whole Tea Party movement started and the rhetoric (not to mention actual guns) at political events reached new heights.

Do I think this is  a major problem? Not yet, though it’s a major problem for those whose lives have been affected by this sort of violence. The fact that so many on the right are in complete denial about this though, that’s a problem. Let’s look at this. The right is constantly making the claim that liberal media and liberal educators are poisoning people’s minds. Some have even gone so far as to create Conservapedia, to counteract the alleged liberal bias of Wikipedia.  So let’s see, all this liberal bias in the media is poisoning people’s minds … but all the vitriol, hate speech, and violent eliminationist rhetoric coming from talking heads on the right has no influence on people? While breathtaking hypocrisy is stock-in-trade for American politics, simultaneously ranting about the liberal media  while denying that violent right wing rhetoric has any influence is about as hypocritical as it gets.

Moving right along in my random revisiting of the Arizona shooting, once again we have an incident that has been blown all out of proportion by the press and the politicians. President Obama even gave a speech at the memorial service. It was a stirring and inspiring speech by most accounts, but I’ve heard stirring speeches before and unless they are followed by action, I’m underwhelmed. It’s not like any effective gun control is possible in the USA, the conservatives have pretty much won that battle. And it’s not like people like the shooter are going to get more mental health resources available to them, again, the conservatives have worked hard to prevent spending on public health. Yes, I am not so subtly implying that aside from  violent rhetoric, other conservative policies also contributed to this shooting.

Granted both sides used this incident  to score political points. And I seriously doubt it will result in any changes in American politics one way tother. It’s just the story of the day. And despite the nonstop coverage in our so called Free Press, little of substance will be said. The Americans dying in our foreign wars for example, how much press do they get? And as a perceptive commenter pointed out on my last post, we are committing massacres like the Arizona shooting on almost a daily basis in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And this was a war the USA chose, the Taliban and the Pakistani tribesmen are only fighting back, we attacked them. This too isn’t likely to change any time soon, but like the endless conservative violent rhetoric, it’s going to come back and bite us in the ass again sooner or later.

Do we really want to inspire and incite another Timothy McVeigh or Osama bin Laden? Sometimes I wonder.

(The above image is a funeral after a drone strike in Afghanistan. It’s claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Credit: NY Times. Pretty good bet many or most of those people don’t look too kindly on the people who killed their friends and relatives. Why are we fighting these people again? When is Obama going to give a speech explaining that? And in a final macabre note, on top of my Internet and computer problems, I tried to saw off my thumb on Monday. No, not on purpose. So that too is going to limit my on line and writing time, sigh.)

 

 

 

Written by unitedcats

January 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Big Men and Big Women: Competition is Not the Problem, Unmitigated Greed and Ambition is the Problem

with 4 comments

A comment on my last post made me think, as comments often do. Esteemed reader Mike wrote:

“They aren’t alien, we are. Alienation is precisely the problem that we are facing as a species, we do not cooperate with one another but compete against one another for survival and domination. It must stop.”

Well, I have to disagree in part, though with the codicil that my disagreement may be semantic, but his comment did inspire this post. Yes, people are commonly told that wars and such are driven by shortages, and governments do compete insanely with each other in terms of access to resources and wealth. What I disagree with is the notion that as a species we are competitive, not cooperative. Humans are in fact an incredibly cooperative species. Every day most people spend most of their time in cooperative activities. Work, school, even driving and play are all highly cooperative activities. Every home, every factory, pretty much every anything anywhere was built by people working together. We are an intensely social animal, and it shows in almost every facet of our lives, cooperation is the norm for human, not the exception. We’d still be living in the trees if we didn’t cooperate with each other. Hell, we couldn’t raise armies and fight wars if we weren’t incredibly cooperative by nature.

So what then is the problem with governments? Why can’t they cooperate with each other?  Ay, there’s the rub. The problem doesn’t lie with the nature of humans, the problem lies with the nature of a very few humans. I posit that many if not most of humanity’s problems stem from our inability as a social animal to control the ambitions of those few people who have unlimited lust for power and wealth, and no scruples about how they get it. Worse, not only do we fail to control them, we actually put them in positions of power! And it’s these people who are constantly trying to increase their power and standing, through fair means or foul, that are at the root of our problems. And yes, this problem has been recognized since ancient times, that’s one of the reasons we invented laws, nations are supposed to be guided  by law. Sadly, in most cases, it’s the laws that are guided by the leaders, not vice versa.

And of course the people running countries justify their insane competitiveness by blaming other countries, agitators, liberals, conservatives, communists, human nature, bad religions … just about anything and everything except themselves! If one can step back a bit sometimes this gets so insanely out of touch with reality it would be funny if so many people didn’t die as a result. In fact all government propaganda from all governments throughout history boils down to “We had to do those bad things, because they made us!”  And it’s complete fucking garbage, governments do the bad things they do to preserve and expand the power and wealth of their patrons, not because their enemies gave them no choice. Governments, especially big governments, have enormous resources and powers at their disposal. It’s extremely rare for governments to be forced into anything, but they very much try to maintain the fiction to their populations  that the bad things they do were their best and only option. And sadly, most people fall for it hook, line, and sinker.

I don’t know what the solution is, th0ugh first recognizing that there is a problem is the start. I do know that some cultures developed a healthy way to deal with this, it’s called potlatch. Basically, in these societies, there is someone called the “Big Man.” He’s not the chief or anything, but is at the top of the pecking order socially and is the most widely respected person in the village or tribe. How does one get to be the Big Man? Every seven years (it varies) all of the people who want to be the Big Man hold a party where basically they try to buy the favour of everyone in their village by holding the biggest best party, and giving away the most gifts. That way the people who have a compulsion to accumulate wealth and power not only have an outlet for it, every seven years or so the wealth gets redistributed! Sadly while we have huge numbers of wanna be “Big Men” (and a few who want to be Big Women too,) the mechanism for them to redistribute their wealth is long gone. And there are no constraints on their ambition at all. Hell, even the Romans did a better job of redistributing the wealth than most of  our modern societies.

In any event, the point of this post is my contention that humans are not violent or competitive or warlike by nature, though our leaders dearly want us to believe that. No, the problem is political in nature, not psychological. (OK, well, one can make the case that people with unlimited ambition and no scruples have psychological issues, but not going there right now.) And tomorrow, I will discuss the most frightening example of unlimited greed and ambition in the modern world, and how he may be the death of us all yet.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I’m pretty sure its public domain since it’s on a  number of sites, and I can’t find out its origin and attribution. I would be happy to attribute it properly if anyone knows. It’s a picture of lions eating delivery pizza. The lions are our leaders, we’re the pizza.)

Written by unitedcats

June 28, 2010 at 7:58 am

Posted in Politics, Propaganda

Tagged with ,