Through these fields of destruction

2 03 2014

I know zip about Ukraine & Crimea; this will not prevent me from having opinions about Ukraine & Crimea.

(Look ma! I’m pundit-ing!)

Anyway, the one thought that does keep popping up in me noggin is that Putin’s push in Crimea is a sign of weakness, not strength.

Soldiers, guns, tanks: these are artifacts of failure (of diplomacy, of cunning, of imagination); their use signals a breakdown, not a triumph.





Mayan Campaing Mashup 2012: Mitt’s unwit

12 01 2012

Shocking news: I am not a fan of Mitt Romney.

I’m not at all clear why he’s running for president, other than that he wants to be president, and I don’t think he’d be any good at the job.

I also think that for all his professionalism as a campaigner, he doesn’t really understand what the presidency requires.

Matt Yglesias has a nice take on this:

Of course there is envy in America, but there’s also spite. And I think you see some of it in Romney’s reply. He has a lot of money, personally. That money is very useful to him in a number of ways. It lets him consume more goods and services. It offers him security against the ups and downs in life. It lets him be assured that his kids will have a leg up in life. But over and above that, Romney seems to revel in the idea of being better than the lower orders of society and resists the leveling impulse even though it would in concrete terms leave him with plenty of money.

I don’t know if he’s spiteful or not, but  statements about envy and [the out-of-context] “I like being able to fire people” make it difficult to conclude otherwise.

Narrative, man, narrative! You do not want to feed your weaknesses: it doesn’t turn the weakness into strength, but strengthens the weakness. Tch tch tch.

Anyway, this gives me another chance to pull out a much-used Rousseau quote:

[I]f one sees a handful of powerful and rich men at the height of greatness and fortune while the mob grovels in obscurity and misery, it is because the former prize the things they enjoy only to the extent that the others are deprived of them; and because, without changing their position, they would cease to be happy, if only the people ceased to be miserable.

This is not the impression you want to leave with would-be voters.

h/t  James Fallows





Mayan Campaign Mashup 2012: Mancrushing Ron Paul

11 01 2012

Katha Pollitt on lefties-for-Paul:

What is it with progressive mancrushes on right-wing Republicans? For years, until he actually got nominated, John McCain was the recipient of lefty smooches equaled only by those bestowed upon Barack Obama before he had to start governing. You might disagree with what McCain stood for, went the argument, but he had integrity, and charisma, and some shiny mavericky positions—on campaign finance reform and gun control and… well, those two anyway.

Now Ron Paul is getting the love. At Truthdig, Robert Scheer calls him “a profound and principled contributor to a much-needed national debate on the limits of federal power.” In The Nation, John Nichols praises his “pure conservatism,” “values” and “principle.” Salon’s Glenn Greenwald is so outraged that progressives haven’t abandoned the warmongering, drone-sending, indefinite-detention-supporting Obama for Paul that he accuses them of supporting the murder of Muslim children. There’s a Paul fan base in the Occupy movement and at Counterpunch, where Alexander Cockburn is a longtime admirer. Paul is a regular guest of Jon Stewart, who has yet to ask him a tough question. And yes, these are all white men; if there are leftish white women and people of color who admire Paul, they’re keeping pretty quiet.

Ron Paul has an advantage over most of his fellow Republicans in having an actual worldview, instead of merely a set of interests—he opposes almost every power the federal government has and almost everything it does. Given Washington’s enormous reach, it stands to reason that progressives would find targets to like in Paul’s wholesale assault. I, too, would love to see the end of the “war on drugs” and our other wars. I, too, am shocked by the curtailment of civil liberties in pursuit of the “war on terror,” most recently the provision in the NDAA permitting the indefinite detention, without charge, of US citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism. But these are a handful of cherries on a blighted tree. In a Ron Paul America, there would be no environmental protection, no Social Security, no Medicaid or Medicare, no help for the poor, no public education, no civil rights laws, no anti-discrimination law, no Americans With Disabilities Act, no laws ensuring the safety of food or drugs or consumer products, no workers’ rights.

And as she noted about his alleged anti-police-state stance: “Not to harp on abortion, but an effective ban would require a level of policing that would make the war on drugs look feeble.”

I, of course, have no problem harping on abortion. That’s one of the things a harpy does.

Anyway, it is telling that libertarians tend to attract the strong or those who consider themselves strong or those to whom it is really really really important to be stronger than someone else.

Have I kicked around Ayn Rand enough? No, I have not, mainly because I try not to think of Ayn Rand (and I have a story about reading her for the first time that’s just, pfffffffff, does not reflect well on me but I should tell you anyhow—but not right now). Still, this bit from Paul Bibeau* is a propos:

[L Ron Hubbard] “Fine,” he said huffily. “Who would you go after?”
[Ayn Rand] “Rich white college kids.”
“Jesus,” he said. “That’s… that’s perfect.”
“I know, right?”
“They’re the worst.”
“God, they’re horrible.”
“But what are you going to do to them?”
“I’m going to convince them… that they’re just too nice.”

Makes her almost likable—so clearly a parody.

I know, Ron Paul is not Ayn Rand (and no, his son Rand is not named after her), and she would probably disdain him because she disdained everyone who was not her (and who knows, possibly also herself as well, but, again, really prefer not to spend too much time thinking of her), but even if he’s not as interested in ripping off-while-misunderstanding Nietzsche as that third-rate author was, they’re both chewing on the same overcooked piece of fuck-the-weak spaghetti.

*h/t Fred Clark at slactivist








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