Tag Archives: Politics

Kvick Tänkare

Chinese sci-fi is growing in popularity but you probably won’t find much in the distopian genre.

Which is more shocking?  Squid can fly or that there exists “a LISTSERV dedicated to mollusks”?  Still, this is pretty cool:

…”gliding” is too passive a term to describe what squid do when they leave the ocean for the air: “flight” is more fitting…”One of our co-authors saw them actually flapping their fins. Some people have seen them jetting water while in flight.

Lunghu made a number of predictions earlier this year and now gives them a mid-year evaluation.

I always find it interesting how often our politicians (and fellow citizens) claim to support families and children but, when it comes right down to it, so rarely put their money (or anything else) where their mouth is.  Case in point:  family leave.  If you have a child, what can you expect?  A few weeks of unpaid leave, usually (if you can afford it).  After that, it’s get your ass back to work.  The Boston Globe has an article asking if we perhaps should do a bit more.  (h/t Phronesisaical).  Uh…and just for the record, the socialist hell-hole Sweden allows parents a total of 16 months of parental leave at 80% pay that can be taken up until the child turns 10 years old (Oh, please, why won’t Sean Hannity save those poor people?!)  Us?  Talk about raising the minimum wage a nickle an hour and you’ll hear howls about how we’re strangling the small business owner to death.

Britain is announcing it’ll be withdrawing its combat troops from Afghanistan by 2015.  Can anyone really make predictions like that?  I’ll just note that the time between now and then is almost the same amount of time that the U.S. was involved in the Second World War.  A lot can happen in four years.

It’s like the right isn’t even trying anymore.  Remember when they could come up with kinda-sorta coherent delusions to get everyone scared?  Now we’re looking at terror babies?  The only question is how in the world can we be in a place where these knuckleheads might actually get back in power?

Sven has a very interesting interpretation of the evolution of the Greek phalanx.

Hey…at least everyone agrees about one thing…

Marc Ambinder wrote this piece about debunking the idea that the Republican party is abandoning the Bush idea of distinguishing between Islamic terrorists and the rest of the Muslim world.

Many prominent conservative Republicans never accepted President Bush’s statement that Islam is a religion of peace and that it is fundamentally compatible with American society.

38 percent of Americans in 2006 said they would never vote for a Muslim for president, just about the number who said they would never vote for a gay person. In December of 2004, Cornell released a survey showing that half of Americans consciously told a pollster that they would favor a curtailment of civil rights for Muslims. About 40 percent of Republicans had explicitly anti-Muslim views in the survey.

Wow…sounds pretty intolerant, huh?  Something sparked my memory and I went to the numbers.  I find it interesting that there was a category of American who, if she ran for president, would likely lose to radical gay Islamist.  That universally despised group?

Atheists.

One shudders to think of what they’d build in the shadow of the sacred, hallowed ground of the World Trade Center.  Maybe it’d be something like this:

Many come to the scene of the worst terrorist attack on American soil to pay tribute to pain and unspeakable tragedy…If they’re so inclined, they can also buy porn, play the ponies and take care of all manner of personal business…

Like…

…the Pussycat Lounge, a strip club where a photo of a nearly naked woman marks its location just two blocks from where the World Trade Center stood.  Or the Thunder Lingerie and peep show next door, where the marquee sports an American flag above a window display of sex toys and something called a “power pump.”

Yeah, stay classy guys.  Oh Sarah!  Glen!  Rush!  Please save us from the power pump!

Stupid is and stupid does

I know I shouldn’t but I can’t help getting offended by the celebration of stupidity that is Sarah Palin.  She and her followers revel in ignorance and call it ‘common sense’.  Take, for example, this clip (by way of the Daily Dish).  As Bill O’Reilly (?!) presses her for detailed answers about immigration you can have absolutely no doubt that she hasn’t thought about the issue in any depth.

So, for example, after O’Reilly presents a future in which the border is 100% secure he asks what should be done about the millions of illegals in the country now.  Palin responds, after a bit of questioning, that all illegals should register with the government, kinda-sorta implying that they could stay while those that don’t comply would get deported.  As O’Reilly zeros in on that (whiff of amnesty anyone?), Palin senses resistance and immediately shifts to a ‘deport everyone’ stance, making the idea that illegals would register just goofy.  But it’s totally clear she hasn’t thought a whit about this issue apart from repeating over and over ‘secure the border’.

I won’t talk about her position of a dramatic militarization of the border, using as many forces ‘as it takes’ (whatever that means).  Her off handed comments seemed to indicate she’d be willing to mobilize 10,000 to 15,000 National Guardsmen (and maybe more since this is the ‘most important’ issue we face).  So now, guardsmen will rotate between one year tours of Iraq, Afghanistan and Mexico (Hey, what happened to Iran?  eds.).

If I knew I could be a wealthy, respected media star by talking bat shit crazy I would have gone that route years ago.

Let’s dispense with these two myths

Well, regardless of how Iraq and Afghanistan turn out can we finally put to rest the notions that Americans won’t abide long wars and won’t tolerate casualties?  Afghanistan is now the longest war in American history and Iraq ain’t too shabby in that department either.  Casualties continue to mount and there’s really no prospect that troops will be out of either country in the foreseeable future.  Draw downs may begin but we’re likely to have thousands of troops in both countries for a long, long time.

Now, if 10 years ago I asked you to guess how many Americans would support a war that had been going on for 9 years and more than half of all Americans didn’t have a clear idea of why the war was being fought, what would you say?

Now, check out this polling data about American opinions about the war in Afghanistan.

50% of all Americans support the war.

Almost 50% believe America will pull out some sort of victory.

And 50% think we get enough media coverage of the war.

I just don’t know what to make of figures like that.  They don’t do any cross question analysis so there’s no way to tell if that’s the same 50% who has a relatively rosy outlook across the board but I’m amazed that half the population can not be clear about why we’re in a war and yet support for it remains relatively stable.

I think it’s been a reoccurring frustration (certainly with me) that it just hasn’t seemed like the American public has given much of a damn about the wars we’ve been fighting apart from the occasional flag waiving and magnetic yellow stickers.

Perhaps the lesson is that one shouldn’t try to generate support for a war but rather should try to give people something else to think about.  If one can push a war into the background noise of economic issues, day to day politics and who’ll win the next American Idol maybe you can get the public to just not care enough to be a significant factor in the running of said war.

In that regard, maybe the Bush administration was crazy like a fox when their first reaction to 9/11 was ‘Hey America!  Time to shop and visit Disney!’  I’m not a big fan of the ‘American people are sheeple’ meme since that suspiciously sounds like ‘The American people didn’t vote the way I wanted them to.’   But really, what is one to think about people who say they don’t know why we’re at war and support (or don’t support) it anyway?

Why the climate and environment will always lose…

Sentences like this from The Atlantic about political machinations in the White House surrounding the issue:

…she had prepared a policy document based on a short-lived interagency process designed to reach an internal consensus on climate policy, but the process got stalled and the document was languishing…

Read that again so you can absorb all the ‘activity as a substitute for progress’ goodness. That’s almost a verbatim description of Sir Humphrey’s method of making sure nothing gets done in government.

And remember, these are the guys who are supposed to be pro-environment.

When corporate and environmental leaders…went…for a late spring 2009 meeting with Emanuel, they could see that he didn’t much care about climate change. What he cared about was winning — acquiring and maintaining presidential power over an eight-year arc…He saw no point in squandering capital on a lost cause…At the USCAP meeting, Emanuel made his views clear: “We want to do this climate bill, but success breeds success,” he said. “We need to put points on the board. We only want to do things that are going to be successful. If the climate bill bogs down, we move on. We’ve got health care.”

Kvick Tänkare

EnglishRussia scanned some illustrations from a Russian version of The Hobbit.  Very cool stuff, including this version of Gollum.  At the bottom of the post are some video clips of a Soviet b-movie version of The Hobbit which you can miss except the last one which has their version of Gollum which isn’t to be missed.

Ever wonder what it might look like if you combined the Tea Party anger at incumbency with Nordic politeness?   Well, wonder no more!  The Icelanders have created a new political party (the Best Party) and created their own music video. (h/t Foreign Policy)  Of course, it’s not a perfect analogy…you won’t see any guns, pictures of Hitler or references to Chairman Mao but close enough.

Yeah, keep trying to convince me that there are no such thing as the mole people.

Sven talks about tactical agility.

Salt is attracting some negative attention and there are calls it should be regulated by the FDA as a food additive.  May I just take a moment to thank my ancestors for endowing me with the genes for a slightly low blood pressure.  Not low enough to be a concern but low enough for my doctor to tell me “Hey, you like salt?  Dig in!’

Steve Coll summarizes his lessons learned from blogging before taking an extended break to write a book.  I’m not naturally inclined to write and so this exercise (now in its fifth year) has been a great experience.  I think I’d find it valuable even if no one read this blog but it is also quite nice (and a bit humbling) to think of people deciding to spend their time on what I may have to say.

Some things I did not expect that turned out to be true: 1) An awful lot of people read blogs. Spontaneously conceived essays (if they deserve that elevated name) that are not particularly well-thought-through can instantly go viral on you without warning. …That was a sobering discovery. 2) Goofy experiments that would not work in any other format, such as deciding to read the entire 2009 stimulus legislation and blog about it will be forgiven by many readers on the grounds that we’re all in this experiment together; it’s like going to a rock festival and hearing terrible music but feeling really good about being there. 3) Aggregation and calling attention to other people’s good work without much effort on your own part is enough justification for blogging in the first place.

Some problems that I half-expected that also turned out to be true: 1) Writing fast about serious subjects because they are in the news, without doing a lot of reporting first, can produce crap. 2) Even the better instances of that sub-genre are still not very satisfying over time to the author. …This is just a blog post, however; I am free to revise my thinking in an hour, or whenever…and presumably no one will notice.

Patrick Stewart was apparently just knighted…I wonder if he made the Queen’s clothes just drop off?

Total awesomeness

America Speaking Out is more fun than a barrel of monkeys.  It’s a website hosted by Republicans to encourage suggestions from real Americans about what they’d like to see their government do.  I find trolling around the suggestions to be the source of no end of fun.  First, you can play a little game (pretty soon there’ll be an app for it) to guess which suggestions are real and which are planted by troublemakers.

Secondly, you’ve just gotta love the power of the internet to absolutely destroy anything that even has a whiff of pretension to it.  Of course when you pretend that a governmental body could/should get involved with legislating ‘family values’ you’re kind of asking for trouble…

Capital Punishment should be made cheaper by removing the process to authenticate whether or not someone is actually guilty. It’s absolutely ridiculous how Capital Punishment costs more than life in prison because of this. Let God sort his own out from the rest.

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All naughty children should be baked into a pie.

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I like turtles. (that one got 89 votes when I saw it)