August, 2014 archive
Yastreblyanski thinks that President Obama isn’t digging the war drums. A nugget (emphasis in the original):
To judge whether it’s true or not, the best criterion is to look not at the relative seniority of those Senior Officials who are “unnamed because they were not authorized to speak” but at Obama’s own words, even if they’re as vague as Eisenhower. In the case of Syria, they’re not vague at all, falling under the rubric of the “Don’t do stupid shit” doctrine: Obama has always been against bombing Syria, no matter what the Anonymi say, not because he’s a hippie (alas!), or out of some grand global design we can’t see, but because to do so would be stupid.
A bit tedious, but it makes the point: Republicans will say anything, even made-up stuff, to advance their cause.
Leonard Pitts, Jr., mulls the continuing American bloodbath. A nugget:
. . . where gun laws are concerned, the United States of America is – individual dissenting voices duly noted and exempted from the following descriptive – dumber than a bag of bullets. This, after all, is the country where you can take a gun into a bar. Where you can erect a shooting range in your own backyard. Where a blind person can get a gun permit. You think it’s insane that Arizona allows a 9-year-old to shoot at a firing range? ABC News reports that one in Texas allows them to do so at age 6. . . .
God bless America. We legislate against sharia law in places where there are no Muslims, much less an inclination toward sharia. We pass laws to curtail election fraud despite the fact that election fraud, as a practical matter, does not exist. Yet we endure a yearly toll of gun carnage that makes civilized people in civilized places shake their heads in wonder and our only action is inaction.
The polite want just a little help from their friends.
Deputies say 25-year-old Bret Anderson and 21-year-old Taylor Keele were handling a 9 mm pistol when Anderson unintentionally fired the weapon. It struck Keele in the chest.
At Psychology Today Blogs, Lynne Soraya remembers when, after she packed up her belongings in a rented van and moved across the country, she was lost and confused on a strange road in unfamiliar territory and a cop decided that she was driving in a suspicious manner.
Convinced I was attempting to flee, the officer had whipped his car around in front of my half-turned vehicle, T.J. Hooker-style, lept out and drew his gun, screaming. Terrified, I stopped cold and put my hands in the air. The officer, it seemed, had begun to suspect that I was a thief, attempting to make off with a vanful of stolen goods. And when I failed to respond appropriately to his siren (which I couldn’t hear), that was his signal that I was spooked and attempting to flee capture. So, he’d taken immediate action to head off my escape.
Given that level of intensity that had developed in a matter of minutes, the intensity that left me staring down the barrel of a gun, it’s interesting what happened next. Nothing. The gun dropped as quickly as it had been raised. The officer’s manner changed in a split second.The very second he saw my face. I didn’t even have to speak. His utter confusion at seeing me was evident, even to me. Even in that moment. So why was that?
Follow the link to find out her answer.
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.
The polite never know that the gun is loaded.
The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office says 53-year-old David Mitchell of Berthoud was sitting in traffic on U.S. Highway 287 in Lafayette on Thursday evening when he decided to inspect it one last time. He didn’t realize there was still one more round in the chamber and shot himself in the leg.
Guns and stupid, a match made in, well, somewhere.
The inventor of the pop-up ad apologizes.
Below the fold because it autoplays.