The Sacramento Bee’s Jack Ohman parodies pandering pols. You don’t have to be from Cali to get a chuckle from this.
A bit tedious, but it makes the point: Republicans will say anything, even made-up stuff, to advance their cause.
At the Bangor Daily News, Gordon L. Weil suggests that the US fascination with “regime change” is misguided and counter-productive. He gives some examples; follow the link for more examples. (I think his summaries may be a little too summarized, but it is a newspaper column, not a history text.)
Russia has no democratic history. But, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States and others countries took it for granted that it would install democratic institutions.
While Russia may have adopted the appearance of popular control of the government, it has become clear that the Russian people prefer an authoritarian rule allowing them some limited freedoms. A majority likes President Putin, largely because he is a throwback to paternalistic control under the czars.
Afghanistan sheltered Al Qaeda terrorists, which justified American military action to root them out. But the U.S. has engaged in its longest war ever to stamp out opposition and install democracy, so far without success.
The problem in this case is that Afghanistan has never really been a country. A collection of regions dominated by warlords, it, too, has no democratic traditions or even a truly national identity. The net result of 13 years of war may be no improvement over the U.S. staying for only 13 months and with more limited goals.
American governments of both parties have been comically wrong in understanding the culture, history, and politics of other nations and peoples. Our attempts to manipulate the future of others to suit our ends and preconceptions invariably ignore that the others might not agree with our interpretation of what’s good for them. Furthermore, they will likely instinctively resent our attempts to dictate and manipulate their political processes, however flawed their processes might be, especially when those attempts are accompanied by robotic death raining from the sky.
Our punditocracy and our governing classes of all parties, despite getting it wrong time after time, always seem surprised when they get it wrong yet one more time.
At the Boston Review, Claude S. Fischer takes up the (il)logic of Libertarianism. He starts with the core tenet of Libertarians, which generally remains unspoken: In Glibertarian land, there is no such thing as the common good.
The column (linked at the site) argued, in brief, that libertarianism’s philosophical anthropology, starting with the claim that “there is no social entity . . . . there are only individual people” (Robert Nozick), is historically and anthropologically dubious. Most human cultures by far understood and understand the individual as first the product of communities and only secondarily endowed by the community with some personal autonomy. Americans are “weirdly” likely to “conceive of themselves primarily as self-contained individuals” rather than as “interpersonal beings intertwined with one another in social webs” (quoting Henrich et al.) and we live in a strangely libertarian society. Similarly, libertarianism makes a dubious empirical claim. The notion “that government which governs best governs least” is belied by the data. Whether comparing early America to modern America, or today’s America to other western nations, the evidence points to more government being, up to a point we have hardly approached, better for more people.
Libertarianism is an elaborate facade for narcissim and selfishness and predation, nothing more. Its motto is ultimately “All for me and every man for himself.”
Do please read the rest.
Steven Colbert discusses events in Ferguson, Mo.
Below the fold in case it autoplays.
Werner Herzog’s Bear sees an interesting and alarming one. A nugget:
For those of you who don’t know, Leonid Brezhnev lead the the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1982. While its military might grew to unprecedented levels and its oil resources better exploited, beneath the images of tanks parading down Red Square on May Day sat a vast festering reservoir of economic and cultural stagnation. The situation, where a massive military machine had to be supported by hobbled economy, led to Gorbachev’s reforms and eventually to the Soviet system’s collapse. A world power, one of the two superpowers, was brought low in an astoundingly short period of time. One notable thing about this period was not only the economic stagnation, but the basic loss of faith in the Soviet system and communist ideology. Laconic workers in this period used to quip “we pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.” This is hardly the spirit of the “shock workers” who helped build steel mills in the Ural wilderness in the 1930s. . . .
I see plenty of parallels to America’s present and its recent history.
Scott Maxwell tries to draw some lessons from Florida’s primary, which took place this week. I suspect that they apply to more places than just Florida.
Here’s one (emphasis in the original):
1. You people lie. I know it’s harsh for me to start off with such an ugly statement. But it’s true. You folks lie. You claim you’re sick of the status quo. You claim you’re sick of incumbents. You claim you’re going to send a message. But you don’t . . . .
Follow the link for the rest.
Historiann is not surprised at the reactions to events in Ferguson, Mo. She is disgusted.
A nugget (emphasis in the original):
I guess my big reaction is this: why is anyone surprised that the present looks so much like the past? It seems like when it comes to race in America, we’re dangerously invested in insisting that the Bad Old Days are long gone. I get it that that’s a more reassuring story to tell, but it’s a childish one. Aren’t there any grownups among the grownups these days?
Even if I understand why people insist on pretending history is irrelevant, why must they evoke history in such wildly inappropriate ways? For example: Howard Kurtz say that “Some liberal outlets [are] creating almost a lynch mob mentality around this,” that is, the insistence that the police officer who killed an unarmed man be arrested and charged with a crime. Is that what lynch mobs did–they published headlines in news outlets demanding the arrest and trial of men suspected of crimes? Because that’s what you imply when you compare an online magazine to a lynch mob. Judge Lynch, as we all should remember, was not at all about insisting on due process for suspected criminals. That was the whole point of a lynch mob friends–the circumvention of the criminal justice system! Yegads. So stupid.
A Republican city councilman in Missouri apologized this week for posting racist messages about President Obama on Facebook, citing his own strong engagement with the Republican Party as the reason behind his actions.
“I apologize from the bottom of my heart,” Tinsley said. “At one time, I was a very active Republican, very opposed to Obama.”
As far as I can tell, what he’s saying is that being a Republican means being racist.
Don’t think that’s what he meant to say, but in vino veritas and all that.
Werner Herzog’s Bear argues for eliminating tenure for New York Times columnists; he offers a report card on the lot of them. A nugget:
Brooks’ columns are almost always based on some kind of false dichotomy he uses to oversimplify complex issues. He is a tireless purveyor of Conservatism Lite, completely unaware of the fact that he is a self-parody. If you printed his columns in the Onion, people would think they were a satire on neo-conservatives.
Follow the link for the rest of the report card.
Jim Wright considers events in Ferguson, Mo. A nugget:
This is part and parcel of The Big Lie we Americans tell ourselves. That one about our vaunted exceptionalism. Heh, heh, exceptionalism. Riiiiight. Exceptionalism isn’t even a real word, but then that’s par for the course. Tell me, America, what’s so damned exceptional about fearing the police? About living in fear of authority? What’s exceptional about armed troops in the streets? About armored vehicles and automatic weapons on the corners, in the playgrounds, guarding the schools and the store and the police stations? About blockades and showing your papers? What’s exceptional about being shot down without trial or due process? What exactly is exceptional about dead kids in the street? What’s exceptional about tear gas and rubber bullets – or lead ones for that matter? But then what’s so exceptional about an armed population? About citizens who solve their differences with pistols and assault weapons? What’s exceptional about racism and inequality and disparity and naked hate? What’s exceptional about crime and riot? What’s exceptional about the arrest and detainment of journalists and reporters? What’s exceptional about political division that verges on civil war? These things are all too common around the world.
Go read his post.
The stupid, it burns.