Monthly Archives: January 2012

Wow!

But where was that in 2009?

Missed opportunities under the bridge, I guess. Obama squared every circle and appears 20 times the hominid as any of his rivals. Absent any vicious deus ex machina that destroys the economy, Obama will win. Perhaps the Conservatron implosion will be complete enough to give him another congressional majority……

Newtmentum

The problem with the NYT so often is that they won’t call it like they see it.

The whole meme that the GOP establishment badly wants to beat Obama is true. They want to beat him up. They don’t want to win more than they want to beat him. If they wanted to win, a guy like Romney or Huntsman would have been carrying big majorities in the polls leading up to the primaries. Instead, the latest candidate to throw the biggest bombs has surged into the lead each time. Now that the alternatives are milquetoast-might-win Romney and the Attack Newt, who do you think they prefer?

They want red meat. They want anger. And they want these things more than they want to win.

This is such a basic, simple observation about the GOP electorate right now that the presumed paper of record is scared to make because it might get called “biased” that it is continuing to render itself irrelevant.

They even go to the lengths of feigning confusion over South Carolina voters thinking Newt is “electable.” They don’t mean “everyone will like him.” They mean “he will bring holy vengeance upon Obama.” Why is this so hard for the so called liberal media to understand? Why are they so wedded to portraying angry voters as angels? Why are the minority of people who live in empty spaces considered “real Americans” and the rest of us who live among our fellow citizens not?

Did Obama Just Clinch Reelection?

It seems pretty undeniable to me that at this point, the biggest winner of tonight’s GOP primary in South Carolina was Barack Obama. Mitt Romney seemed very vulnerable this week on issues that will matter to voters in the general election—issues that Mitt would have to win on to convince the electorate to throw Obama out, specifically, the economy. Any notion that Obama can be attacked on defense issues simply ignores one thing: Osama bin Laden. (Also, for the 5-10% who are unapproving of Obama at the moment from the left, he gets to say we’re out of iraq.)

It still seems to me that Romney will be the nominee, but after a bloody battle that only mires him deeper in accusations of being a bigwig insiderish “vulture capitalist” (thank you, Governor Perry) because in the end, it will probably be money and the GOP establishment that help him pull this off. And those resentments can be used by Democrats to either flip voters or keep them home. And it will cost him money to do so.

Of course, if Gingrich is the nominee, we can start talking about “50 state strategies.”

When Paulphecy Fails

In the classic 1956 work When Prophecy Fails, social psychologists study a reclusive UFO cult in Chicago. When its doomsday prophecy fails to come true, the group suddenly seeks publicity and converts. The study is about cognitive dissonance and it leads you to adopt a seemingly paradoxical conclusion about human behavior: the less a group believes in something the more they proselytize. The theory is that people need a new group of believers either to comfort them in their loss, or, perhaps, to give social proof to refute their doubts.

So, when a candidate attracts a group of mostly young, mostly secular, and mostly white and male people into a years’ long affair, you start to wonder. The reason shouldn’t be that surprising. Whatever else it may be, our public schools teach an ideological history, especially of America. American history is seen as a clash of ideals. Sure, this is partly true, but this is mostly left unexamined. Did these ideals deliver on their promises? Were there ulterior motives for preaching them? This kind of critical thinking is not well presented.

So, your typical butthurt dweller type left without a regular religion adopts a kind of worship of the free market, which promises its followers relief from the unfair oppression of social interactions where their “intelligence” isn’t rewarded with friends, sex, or followers. If only society would break down to this level, a messianic age of no wars, a strong economy, and a recognition of the Galts of this country would dawn.

And of course today, their prophet is Ron Paul. The first dissonance you have to deal with is that Paul is a Republican. This does not fit with the “rules don’t apply to me” speeding-in-a-school-zone and doing-coke-in-the-privacy-of-my-own-home ethos of the typical young Jedi libertarian. But they just decide he’s a maverick, even if he does vote for John Boehner for Speaker.

For the most part, as long as Paul remains a fringe candidate, this is just fine. They can exchange apropos quotes and dream about the future where reading comic books will get you all the chicks in technoutopia.

But once Paul began to rise in the polls, the media turned its gaze on his record. The Prophet was pretty quickly revealed to be a false one, and this was a critical moment. If you remain true to the religion of free markets and “liberty,” how could you support this man, who, ended up being a standard Republican after all, just of the 1920s type? With a nasty touch of Bircher and white supremacist too! Race and sexuality aren’t supposed to play into the perfect Logos of the Free Market!

Those who believed in the religion more than the Prophet would abandon him on this evidence, but that wasn’t to be with most. Instead, attacks on the character of the reporters, the witnesses, and other outright denials ensued. Articles started pouring forth on how and why Paul will win the election, why he is the best candidate in the modern era (best as in campaigner, not as in best ideas) despite the fact that Mitt Romney has just about sewn the GOP nomination up as of the date that article was written.

It’s a painful thing to believe in something so much and to see it as a salve for the pain of your life and times to break down as a lie. But, for those who seem to think “logic” and “intelligence” should play such a great role in things, they are utterly human after all and subject to the same psychological quirks as the rest of us.

Ron Paul will be forgotten, but I doubt his psuedo-religion of libertarian delusion is going away any time soon, partly because it will never been falsifiable in its “pure” state, but partly because it’s conclusions have been falsified over and over again, giving even more fervor to its believers.

The Media Chafes At Iran Assasinations While Cheering War

Because Private Jones from Flint, Michigan’s life isn’t worth shit and the elites, even of enemy societies, are sacred and protected by “International law” the media wags its fingers at the apparent assassinations by foreign governments of Iranian nuclear officials. They act like there is some sort of alternative where nothing happens.

The left is somewhat correct to be suspicious of another Middle Eastern war, but they should consider whether the need to stop nuclear proliferation isn’t more important. The right is incorrect to want to invade Iran and try and remake its government from without the way we did in Iraq. So where does this leave us?

With sanctions, diplomacy, and covert operations being a fairly good alternative.

But, sure enough, folks like Juan Cole are calling it “terrorism,” mostly to scold the right for calling everything terrorism, not because I think he believes it and MJ Rosenberg is calling it “an act of war,” and today’s NYT piece has experts saying that such acts violate international law.

That’s all nice in theory; the reality is that the alternative, whatever it should be, is a full-scale war, where the soldiers and marines can get “assassinated” at every turn. But that kind of killing doesn’t violate “international law” so it’s ok.

If you stop and think: a well placed bomb might have killed Saddam Hussein and ended the Iraq war before it began. And many of these folks were left to face their arguments as reductiones ad absurdum when they tried to argue the killing of Usama bin Laden was against “international law.”

If computer viruses, explosions at military compounds, and the targeted killing of nuclear scientists—not exactly a work-a-day Tehranian—can get the job done, then let it be so.

I think some of these scholars and journalists think that some kind of world order preserved by these rules helps people and they are advancing their points in good faith. But they have apparently stopped asking why these laws exist in the first place and what function they are meant to serve. If an orderly, rules based conduct of wars like that in Iraq which killed hundreds of thousands are just fine and this isn’t, then something is wrong.

What I Wrote 10 Years Ago About Iran

We now have a stronger basis for invading Iran than Iraq than now. Of course, we don’t have a basis for regime change there, necessarily. We can just go wipe out these bases.

I wondered why, if we were fighting the war on terror, why we weren’t more interested in Iran. (I also argued against lowering interest rates which would just inflate another bubble.) Somehow, my stupid ideas never got heard by anyone and we fought a stupid war and killed the middle class.

Five years ago, I put this into the context of nuclear proliferation. And, as an aside, I also argued contra Rachel Maddow that Obama is not adopting the “Bush Doctrine” because the Bush Doctrine is not what it says it is. The real Bush Doctrine is an ill-conceived war of choice to line the pockets of cronies. The purported Bush Doctrine of preemptive war is not really all that controversial if coupled with an imminent threat, but Bush fraudulently convinced us of an imminent threat which didn’t exist.

The IAEA is telling us loud and clear that the Iranians are enriching Uranium beyond the point of peaceful uses. The EU is also imposing sanctions on them. There is no Hans Blix telling us he can’t find anything there. There’s stuff there.

The reason Iran can’t have the bomb isn’t that I don’t want smelly olive skinned Muslims to have nukes. I’m pretty sure that, coupled with lost property by big corps, is why the Republicans want to attack them, but it has nothing to do with me.

I’m worried about nuclear proliferation. Even if Iran only had a few weapons, it would trigger proliferation in the world’s most conflict-ridden area, probably forcing the Saudis, Turks, and Egyptians (at least) into producing nuclear weapons, and would force the Israelis to increase their arsenal, so too with India and Pakistan.

This is not good.

It’s true that we lived with the Soviets pointing thousands at us for decades—but how many different times do you think the Cold War could have been gone through that cleanly? There were times where only sheer luck prevented a nuclear exchange. Why is that proof of anything?

So, Michael Moore is now calling on the New York Times not to “lie us into another war.” And I agree, they should not. I agree that the facts must be solid, the international consensus must be strong, and there must be no occupation. Diplomacy must run its course, but there can be no nuclear Iran.

Invading Iraq and continuing the occupation in Afghanistan long beyond its freshness date have seriously impacted our ability to pull this kind of thing off both operationally, financially, and politically.

The tale of the boy who cried wolf is why you do permanent damage to a country’s security when you lie it into a war. When an entire generation cannot remember a major war that didn’t have bullshit as its basis, how do you fight the war that is real?

And I certainly don’t think nuclear proliferation is about oil, either. We all think terrorism is a problem, or the Israel/Palestine problem, or whatever. But we won’t think that when there’s a new nuclear cold war because the obvious facts are that since 1945, humanity has had the power to destroy itself in a fiery nightmare and we’ve walked on the knife edge too many times in that regard.