Quotulatiousness

January 13, 2016

QotD: The problem of democracy

Filed under: Europe, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The sort of real democracy that European Unionist loonies hate, because it is expression of common people trying to get their ideological rulers to listen to their real world concerns. The sort of democracy that inevitably leads to dictatorship… (or at least to a different dictatorship than that of Merkel and the European Union diktats).

Democracy is supposed to be a wonderful thing, unless of course the majority of your population do not want to go where the political and chattering classes believe they must take them. In which case it is something to be ignored, or outflanked. Preferably by non-democratic routes such as the European Union, but if necessary by the simple expedient of ignoring the electoral result and trying to install someone who fits your preferences better … see Portugal after the last election.

So the great ideal of democracy is ignored by the ideologues, until the electoral swingback gets so extreme that protest voters start electing people who hate democracy … Extreme parties of the left and right across Europe come easily to mind, and can be compared with other popularly elected lashback responses by irritated and frustrated voters – Fascism and Nazism spring to mind.

The modern ideal of Democracy, is founded on the ridiculous, and incorrect, 1700’s assumption that all Europe’s problems can be traced back to Monarchy.

Nigel Davies, “The Solution is… European Union/Multiculturalism/Communism… Name your poison!”, rethinking history, 2015-12-26.

January 12, 2016

QotD: They called themselves the “National Socialist German Workers’ Party”

Filed under: Europe, History, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

On 16 June 1941, as Hitler readied his forces for Operation Barbarossa, Josef Goebbels looked forward to the new order that the Nazis would impose on a conquered Russia. There would be no come-back, he wrote, for capitalists nor priests nor Tsars. Rather, in the place of debased, Jewish Bolshevism, the Wehrmacht would deliver “der echte Sozialismus”: real socialism.

Goebbels never doubted that he was a socialist. He understood Nazism to be a better and more plausible form of socialism than that propagated by Lenin. Instead of spreading itself across different nations, it would operate within the unit of the Volk.

So total is the cultural victory of the modern Left that the merely to recount this fact is jarring. But few at the time would have found it especially contentious. As George Watson put it in The Lost Literature of Socialism:

    It is now clear beyond all reasonable doubt that Hitler and his associates believed they were socialists, and that others, including democratic socialists, thought so too.

The clue is in the name. Subsequent generations of Leftists have tried to explain away the awkward nomenclature of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party as either a cynical PR stunt or an embarrassing coincidence. In fact, the name meant what it said.

Hitler told Hermann Rauschning, a Prussian who briefly worked for the Nazis before rejecting them and fleeing the country, that he had admired much of the thinking of the revolutionaries he had known as a young man; but he felt that they had been talkers, not doers. “I have put into practice what these peddlers and pen pushers have timidly begun,” he boasted, adding that “the whole of National Socialism” was “based on Marx”.

Marx’s error, Hitler believed, had been to foster class war instead of national unity – to set workers against industrialists instead of conscripting both groups into a corporatist order. His aim, he told his economic adviser, Otto Wagener, was to “convert the German Volk to socialism without simply killing off the old individualists” – by which he meant the bankers and factory owners who could, he thought, serve socialism better by generating revenue for the state. “What Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism failed to accomplish,” he told Wagener, “we shall be in a position to achieve.”

Daniel Hannan, “Leftists become incandescent when reminded of the socialist roots of Nazism”, Telegraph, 2014-02-25.

January 10, 2016

QotD: Revolutions

Filed under: Politics, Quotations — Tags: — Nicholas @ 01:00

Revolutions like the US, which changed governance but didn’t presume to change the way people worked, in their minds and hearts, don’t turn into cannibal feasts. OTOH revolutions like the French, where people descended/aspired to changing the names of the weekdays and the months, in order to construct a completely different humanity, inevitably end up in a pile of blood-soaked corpses.

So do revolutions like the Russian and the Chinese, and others.

The difference is this: these revolutions make functioning as a normal human a crime. This requires changing your very thoughts and the way you process reality. And they presume to divine from your smallest actions, your most casual lapses, that you have committed a thought-crime.

This, of course, requires special people who can look into the actions and every day assumptions of others and tell them where they went wrong.

The process is bad enough when done by a minister or another nominally trained person. (I am not talking here of ministers in normal denominations, who are usually trained and don’t want to remake humanity, just get it to behave a little better.) In extreme cases, it creates Jim Jones. It is nightmarish when done by the left, which means it is done by people given power and authority to do this by the grace of totally arbitrary characteristics: where they were born/when/what pigmentation their skin has/what happens to be between their legs/whom they like to sleep with. This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you an idea that none of these attributes is magical, and none of them should confer the authority to discern and judge the secrets of other’s hearts.

Sarah A. Hoyt, “Table Settings At The Cannibal Feast”, According to Hoyt, 2014-11-14.

January 5, 2016

QotD: Culture War 2.0

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Paranoia is the political currency of the emotionally unstable culture warrior who is always certain that someone is looking at them the wrong way, threatening them on social media or committing some other microaggression against them.

There are people who can’t hear a “good morning” without seeing a conspiracy against them. In normal life, they’re diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenics. In political activism, they’re just sensitive to microaggressions.

The left has always valued oversensitivity because neurotics are easy to convince of their own victimhood. And career victims naturally dehumanize those they consider to be their oppressors. As neurosis has become culture, the only way to escape accusations of privilege is to find your own victimhood. And there’s nothing like being forced to develop insecurities to make you insecure.

Culture War 2.0 is culturally crazy. Its personal dysfunction so entangled with politics that there is no way to tell where one begins and the other ends. It politicizes insecurity and narcissism for campaigns that are indistinguishable from trolling. It reduces every issue to personal unhappiness and demands the abolition of traditional freedoms and rights as the answer to that unhappiness.

Its demands are unanswerable because they are personal. There is no solution to them except sanity. And in a cultural conflict where insanity is an asset, sanity is no answer. It’s an accusation.

The truly paranoid see the world as hostile and are driven to destroy it. Their crusade to find happiness by making everyone else miserable can only [succeed] halfway. They can never be happy, but they can always make others miserable.

Daniel Greenfield, “Our Insecure Culture Warriors”, Sultan Knish, 2015-11-02.

December 21, 2015

When the political pressure overwhelms the operational priorities

Filed under: Military, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Strategy Page on the political win of just requiring the US Marine Corps and Special Operations Command to integrate their front-line troops (integrate women into their front-line units, that is):

In early December, after years of trying to justify allowing women into the infantry, artillery and armor and special operations forces, the U.S. government simply ordered the military to make it happen and do so without degrading the capabilities of these units. While the army was inclined the just say yes, find out what quotas the politicians wanted and go through the motions, some others refused to play along. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and the marines pointed out that the research does not support the political demands and that actually implementing the quotas could get people killed while degrading the effectiveness of the units with women. This is yet another reason why many politicians do not like the marines and are uneasy about SOCOM. The commander of SOCOM promptly said the order would be implemented (otherwise he can kiss his upcoming promotion goodbye) but the Marine Corps has, as in the past, not voiced any enthusiasm at all. This decision involves about 220,000 jobs. About ten percent of these are special operations personnel, commonly known as commandos.

The special operations troops are not happy with this decision. In a recent survey most (85 percent) of the operators (commandos, SEALs, Rangers) in SOCOM opposed allowing women in. Most (88 percent) feared that standards would be lowered in order to make it possible for some women to quality. Most (82 percent) believed that women did not have the physical strength to do what was required. About half (53 percent) would not trust women placed in their unit. For these men the decision is a matter of life and death and SOCOM commanders fear that the decision, if implemented, would cause many of the most experienced operators to leave and dissuade many potential recruits from joining. Keeping experienced personnel and finding suitable new recruits has always been a major problem for SOCOM and this will make it worse.

That said there are some jobs SOCOM operators do that women can handle. One is espionage, an area that SOCOM has been increasingly active in since the 1990s because of their familiarity with foreign cultures and operator skills and discipline. Another task women excel at is teaching. Israel has long recognized this and some of their best combat skills instructors are women. But what the male operators are complaining about is women performing the jobs that still depend on exceptional physical as well as mental skills. These include direct action (raids, ambushes and such) and recon (going deep into hostile territory to patrol or just observe.) These are the most dangerous jobs and many operators are not willing to make the job even more dangerous just to please some grandstanding politicians.

This order has been “under consideration” for three years. The various services had already opened up some infantry training programs to women and discovered two things. First (over 90 percent) of women did not want to serve in any combat unit, especially the infantry. Those women (almost all of them officers) who did apply discovered what female athletes and epidemiologists (doctors who study medical statistics) have long known; women are ten times more likely (than men) to suffer bone injuries and nearly as likely to suffer muscular injuries while engaged in stressful sports (like basketball) or infantry operations. Mental stress is another issue and most women who volunteered to try infantry training dropped out within days because of the combination of mental and physical stress. Proponents of women in combat (none of them combat veterans) dismiss these issues as minor and easily fixed but offer no tangible or proven solutions.

December 19, 2015

QotD: Reactionary views on gender

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

So the two things Reactionaries like to complain about all the time are race and sex, and since we have more then gone overboard with our lengthy diversion into race, we might as well take a quick look at sex.

As far as I know, even the Reactionaries who are really into biological differences between races don’t claim that women are intellectually inferior to men. I don’t even think they necessarily believe there are biological differences between the two groups. And yet they are not really huge fans of feminism. Why?

Let’s start with some studies comparing gender roles and different outcomes.

Surveys of women show that they were on average happier fifty years ago than they are today. In fact, in the 1950s, women generally self-reported higher happiness than men; today, men report significantly higher happiness than women. So the history of the past fifty years – a history of more and more progressive attitudes toward gender – have been a history of women gradually becoming worse and worse off relative to their husbands and male friends.

This doesn’t necessarily condemn progressivism, but as the ancient proverb goes, it sure waggles its eyebrows suggestively and gestures furtively while mouthing ‘look over there’.

Scott Alexander, “Reactionary Philosophy In An Enormous, Planet-Sized Nutshell”, Slate Star Codex, 2013-03-03.

December 17, 2015

A slightly more plausible conspiracy theory about “The Donald”

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Megan McArdle isn’t normally a spinner of conspiracy theories, but here’s one that might appeal to you if you’ve been feverishly searching for the reason behind the Trump Insurgency:

If the news media actually operated like the tacit conspiracy that many conservatives imagine, we would have all quietly gotten together and agreed to bury Trump. He could rant in the privacy of his own home, as reporters graciously declined to broadcast his latest pronouncements. Instead, every time he says something, everyone in the media rushes to condemn, fact-check, analyze, highlight, mutilate, fold and spindle it. All this media outrage, of course, only improves his ratings with people who believe in the conspiracy.

Why does this happen? It’s a collective action problem. If other people are reporting on Trump, then he’s news, which means you have to report on him too. Witness the fact that I am writing something like my sixth or seventh column on a man who I still don’t think will be the Republican nominee, much less the president of the United States.

It’s obvious that media moguls didn’t meet in a smoky back room to silence coverage of Trump. But there’s a slightly more plausible theory: That the Hillary Clinton supporters among the news media see Trump’s nomination as the best thing that could possibly happen for the Democratic Party. Unless the Grand Old Party nominated the disinterred corpse of Richard Nixon, there’s probably no surer path to Clinton’s victory.

Trump consistently underperforms folks like Marco Rubio in head-to-head matchups against Democratic candidates. As a nominee he would motivate massive turnout among Latinos who want to vote against him. And the party operation he’ll need to actually get supporters to the polls in November 2016 is not going to rally behind him with any great enthusiasm even if he somehow manages to secure the nomination. Trump supporters should be absolutely clear on this point: A vote for Trump in the primary is a vote for Clinton in the general.

It’s a slightly more plausible theory, but let’s get real: Journalists are covering Trump because he’s newsworthy. It’s an unintended side effect that coverage of Trump helps Clinton.

The rise of the “transageist community”

Filed under: Cancon, Politics, Randomness — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Carl Trueman comments on what he calls the transageist community:

The case of Stefonknee Wolscht, the Canadian man who has decided that he is not simply a woman trapped in a man’s body but actually a six year old girl trapped in the same, has attracted some web attention. At first, I thought the story was a hoax but, no, it would appear that the lunatics have taken over the asylum and it is indeed true. Even if a sick joke, however, it would still offer insights into the inner logic of the politics of identity as currently played by the Left. Thus, for example, the U.K.’s Pink News reports that parts of the trans community are upset. Not, of course, at the harm done to Wolscht’s wife and children, those symbols of bourgeois oppression who are thus just so much collateral damage in the Glorious Revolution of the Self(ish). No. They are upset because his claim to be a different age “discredits their cause.”

A moment’s reflection would indicate that this condition, whereby a person is really a small child incarcerated within a much older adult body, is increasingly prevalent in today’s society. Recent events on the campuses of some of America’s top (sic) universities (sic) clearly show that the transageist community is rapidly growing in size, influence and belligerence. Still, as with all vanguard movements, some opposition is to be expected. The concerned reaction of sections of the transgender community is therefore understandable.

[…]

No doubt opponents will say that such a view will create chaos. Law courts must recognize an age of consent and an age of criminal responsibility; Schools need an objective standard of age to structure their curricula; And it is in everyone’s best interest that one-year-olds are not allowed to drive on the highways or drink Scotch or play in their cribs with loaded AK-47s. Well, yes, of course — but, please, do not shoot the messenger. I have not created the politics of repudiation which drives so much of the Left today. I am merely pointing out that its logic is inexorable. Those who accept its premises and yet seek to curb its power according to their own tastes are merely so many desperate postmodern Canutes, shouting impotently at the relentless waves of ecstatic nihilism that are even now crashing against the shore.

H/T to David Warren for the link.

December 14, 2015

David Thompson explains why he is not androgynous

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Some are apparently so concerned at gendered pronouns that they hope to persuade everyone else to go linguistically generic:

    Let’s call everyone “they”: Gender-neutral language should be the norm, not the exception.

So writes Silpa Kovvali, an exquisitely progressive she-person, in the pages of Salon:

    We are forced to… give in and refer to our co-workers, students and friends as “he” or “she.” The result is that our language caps our ability to be progressive in this realm, forces us to immediately characterise people as male or female.

Which is only accurate and expected practically all of the time. And so,

    We ought to revert to the gender neutral “they” whenever gender is not explicitly relevant.

You see, Ms Kovvali believes that gendered pronouns and honorifics are an “outdated linguistic tic.” And not a useful, rather concise source of information, a signal of respect, and a way of clarifying who it is we’re talking about.

    The effect of elevating gender’s importance is felt by the cis-gendered as well. None of us fit neatly or entirely into a traditional gender binary, with all the expectations of masculinity and femininity that these buckets entail.

And yet despite this claim, and the somewhat random mention of buckets, almost all of us seem quite happy to be referred to as either male or female, as if it were in fact “relevant,” and the demand for gender-neutral pronouns remains, to say the least, a niche concern. I’d even venture to suggest that some of us might feel slighted by the wilful omission of – diminishing of – our respective maleness or femaleness.

[…]

That a tiny minority object to gendered pronouns, or pretend to object in the hope of seeming morally fashionable, is apparently grounds for the rest of us to be imposed upon, and possibly insulted, with a widespread and routine denial of our gender. It isn’t clear to me why un-gendering everyone is hugely preferable to the highly unlikely mis-gendering of one person, potentially, in theory. And much as I hate to be a bother, my “preferred pronouns” are masculine. Like almost all human beings, I am not alienated from my sex in psychologically hazardous ways. I am not of indeterminate gender. I am not a they.

December 13, 2015

The “Overton Window” meets “The Donald”

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

David French first introduces the political notion of the Overton Window and then describes the impact of Donald Trump on that window:

Here’s a term you need to know — the “Overton Window.” Developed by the late Joseph Overton, a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the “window” refers to the range of acceptable political discourse on any given topic. As the Mackinac Center explains, “the ‘window’ of politically acceptable options is primarily defined not by what politicians prefer, but rather by what they believe they can support and still win re-election.” The key to shifting policy lies not so much in changing politicians but in changing the terms of the debate. In other words, “The window shifts to include different policy options not when ideas change among politicians, but when ideas change in the society that elects them.”

The Left — dominating the media, the academy, and pop culture — is unmatched at moving the Overton Window. Consider gay marriage, a subject once so far outside the mainstream that less than 20 years ago, Republicans and Democrats united to pass the Defense of Marriage Act to define marriage under federal law as the union of one man and one woman. Now? That view is such an anathema that it’s difficult to get — or retain — a job in entire sectors of the economy if you openly hold to the traditionalist position on marriage.

The Overton Window moved even faster on transgender rights. Ten years ago the notion that a man with emotional problems and breast implants could be named “Woman of the Year” was unthinkable. Now, in some quarters it’s just as unthinkable to refer to Bruce Jenner — Bruce Jenner! — as a man.

[…]

Then along came Donald Trump. On key issues, he didn’t just move the Overton Window, he smashed it, scattered the shards, and rolled over them with a steamroller. On issues like immigration, national security, and even the manner of political debate itself, there’s no window left. Registration of Muslims? On the table. Bans on Muslims entering the country? On the table. Mass deportation? On the table. Walling off our southern border at Mexico’s expense? On the table. The current GOP front-runner is advocating policies that represent the mirror-image extremism to the Left’s race and identity-soaked politics.

Critically, the Overton Window was smashed not by a politician but by a very American hybrid of corporate/entertainment titan — a man rich and powerful enough to be immune to elite condemnation and famous enough to dominate the news media. How many people can commandeer live television simply by picking up the phone and calling in? How many politicians can cause Twitter to detonate seemingly at will?

While many of Trump’s actual proposals are misguided, nonsensical, or untenable, by smashing the window, he’s begun the process of freeing the American people from the artificial and destructive constraints of Left-defined discourse. Serious and substantive politicians like Ted Cruz will get a more respectful hearing, and PC shibboleths about allegedly boundless virtues of Islam and immigration will be treated with the skepticism they deserve.

December 12, 2015

The cargo cult of modern art

Filed under: History, Humour, Pacific, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Richard Bledsoe on the similarities between the cargo cults of Pacific Islanders during and after the Second World War and the modern art scene:

Much of establishment contemporary art has become an inverted cargo cult.

The phenomenon of the cargo cult originally was observed when the primitive tribal societies of the South Pacific encountered the advanced cultures of the West. It reached a pitch of religious fervor after World War II.

The industrial manufactured items of the newcomers amazed the remote villagers of islands like New Guinea and Tanna. The strangers from over the sea brought with them riches in the form of machines and goods — airplanes, tools, medicines, canned food, radios and the like — made from materials incomprehensible to what were practically Stone Age people. The tribes decided surely such wonderful items must be made by the gods.

As battles raged in the Pacific, the indigenous populations observed the soldiers at work: marching around in uniforms, clearing runways, talking on radios. In response the planes arrived, seemingly from heaven, bringing to the islands the massive quantities of materials needed for the war effort. To the natives who got to share some of the magical items, this treasure — the technological output of developed nations — came to be referred to collectively by the pidgin word cargo.

But when the war ended, the soldiers left. The flow of magic cargo ceased. The tribesmen had lost access to the gifts from the gods.

The abandoned natives developed a plan to get back into divine favor. Having no frame of reference for the ways of the modern world, they interpreted the activities of construction and communications the visitors performed as forms of ritual. The tribesmen would reenact the rites they had seen the foreigners perform, recreate their ceremonial objects. This would please the gods, who would start delivering the cargo again — but this time, to the natives.

The islanders designed outfits based on military uniforms. They drilled in cadence, carrying rifles of bamboo. They built wooden aerials, constructed mock radios, clearing landing strips in the jungle, placed decoy planes of straw on them. And waited.

[…]

To our rational minds this is preposterous. We understand the uselessness of evoking the facade of a machine without the necessary functionalities being incorporated into it. What matters is the inner workings, not the appearance.

And yet, a form of this magical thinking has infected contemporary art. The subservience of art to political issues derails the purpose of the artist. The prevalent dogma interferes with the discovery of a personal artistic vision. So contemporary artists attempt to imitate their way into a valid artistic experience.

In a stunning reversal, in our advanced technological society, artists uncomprehendingly recreate inferior approximations, parodying the objects and gestures of the past and the primitive, trying in vain to summon the sense of awe and wholeness present in the art of bygone ages. By mimicking and mocking the outer forms of the originators, the artists hope the gods will arrive bearing their eternal gifts — that these snotty knock offs will also rise to the level of art.

December 10, 2015

“I rank the odds of a Trump presidency somewhere below the odds of my winning the lottery”

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Megan McArdle has toyed with the idea of classifying Donald Trump as a fascist, but is unwilling to go there for good and proper reasons:

Should we hunker down for America’s version of Mussolini/Hitler-style fascism, a la It Can’t Happen Here? Not quite. Douthat wrote a second column, pointing out the ways in which Trump is different from typical fascist leaders. Classical fascism is obsessed with tradition and secret knowledge, which feels backward in our modernist, diverse country.

The more important distinction, to my mind, is that Trump doesn’t have an organization so much as a mood.

Actual fascists, let us remember, were born out of a brutal world war that resulted in territorial losses, and left a lot of demobilized soldiers running around with dim economic prospects. Whatever your opinions on the war on terror, it is not the same scale as World War I, and it has certainly not left the U.S. in the kind of parlous condition in which Hitler and Mussolini were able to grow smaller radical groups into national mass movements. Trump himself doesn’t have that kind of dedication to his cause; just try to imagine him leading a coup, landing in jail, angrily penning The Art of the Struggle.

Implausible. Trump has far too much to lose, and too little to gain, to embrace truly revolutionary fervor.

Nor is he operating in a weak state with a short and spotty democratic history. The U.S. government has ticked along for going on 250 years, through multiple crises and an armed insurrection. Americans are pretty emotionally attached to its institutions, for all the complaints about them, and precisely because we are ethnically diverse, we tend to rest our national identity heavily upon our political institutions: not the expansionist “Drang nach Osten,” but the Constitution … the huddled masses yearning to breathe free … life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have failed many times to live up to our ideals, but we have never stopped professing them.

All this matters. The main problem with fascists, after all, is not that they have creepy cartelist economic notions and uncharitable immigration policies; the problem with fascists is that they had a tendency to go on killing sprees against neighbors, internal minorities and their political enemies. I don’t like Trump’s economic pseudo-policies, or anti-immigrant sentiment. But they are so far from Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy as to be differences in kind as well as degree. And America has neither the weak institutions nor the revolutionary organizations necessary for a Trump Reich to fester.

December 9, 2015

Bernie and the Snake People

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Katherine Ernst on the odd match of Bernie Sanders and his Millennial Snake People supporters:

A friend, who like me straddles the demarcation line between Millennial and Gen-Xer, was being bombarded at her Millennial-filled office with endless pro-Bernie Sanders “memes.” Things had reached a comic nadir (or zenith, depending on your perspective) with the non-ironic electronic dissemination of a doctored image of Sanders — framed by a heavenly rainbow — with a kitten under each arm: “I FIGHT FOR THE 99 ‘PURR-CENT,’” the bold white letters proclaimed. Quipped my friend: “I eat lunch by myself most days now.”

I commiserated. The same stuff was spamming my social media feeds; Bernie-fever sometimes seemed more intense, more omnipresent than the Obama-gasms of seven years ago. “Feel the Bern” jokes abounded, as did links to left-wing philippics on how Bernie was going to right all capitalist and racist wrongs. Most common were pics of the candidate in heroic, Soviet-worker-like pose — made by his campaign for the express purpose of “grassroots” reposting — next to quotations such as, “I have opposed Keystone from day one.”

My friend and I were not imagining things: the millennial love affair with Sanders is real. A recent NBC News-Survey Monkey poll found that “Millennials … are more than twice as likely to vote for Sanders than Clinton, leading her 54 percent to 26 percent.” The Guardian notes that “On Facebook 1.8 million people like Sanders’s page, 0.6 million more than the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, and 1.6 million more than Republican Jeb Bush.” The New Yorker concurs: “Today’s Millennials, who will make up thirty-six percent of eligible voters in 2016, have no such candidate to call their own, except for Sanders. If they were to vote at their capacity, they’d be the country’s largest voting bloc.”

None of this is lost on Sanders. Indeed, his whole campaign is about getting college kids frothed up on “revolution.” As he told Bill Maher: “[W]e’re being very aggressive in reaching out to young people … what we want to do is tap, Bill, the idealism of the kids. And what the kids are saying, for example, is that this country should lead the world in transforming our energy system and dealing with climate change.” Indeed, in successive debates — including one held 24 hours after the Isis attacks in Paris — Sanders identified climate change as our “greatest national security threat.”

December 8, 2015

Kind words for “Tail-Gunner Joe” McCarthy?

Filed under: History, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Patrick Crozier says we shouldn’t automatically believe the “common wisdom” about the career of Senator Joe McCarthy:

The vast majority of books and articles written on the subject claim that [Senator McCarthy] made it all up. M. Stanton Evans begs to differ. In Blacklisted by History: the Untold Story of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his Fight Against America’s Enemies he argues that in the vast majority of cases those accused by McCarthy of being communists were exactly that. Some were out and out spies. Some were agents of influence. Some were happy to help in the running of communist front groups. But the argument still stands: they were aiding a power that was hostile to the United States.

Evans comes to this judgement mainly by leafing through the files that have become available. These include the FBI files and what have become known as the Venona transcripts: Soviet messages de-crypted by the US military in the 1940s.

It is important to realise that these weren’t just spy games. Communist activity had a real impact. In the early 1940s, for instance, John Stewart Service, the State Department’s man in China produced a string of reports. In them he praised Mao’s Communists to the hilt claiming that they were democrats and successfully fighting the Japanese while condemning Chiang Kai Shek’s Kuomintang (KMT) for being incompetent, corrupt and uninterested in prosecuting the war. This was a travesty of the truth. Reports like this led to the KMT being starved of money and weapons which may well have tipped the balance in the Civil War leading, in turn, to the misery that was subsequently inflicted on the people of mainland China.

So, if he was right why has he been condemned and why does he continue to be condemned by history? Some of it appears to have been McCarthy’s own fault. He puffed up his war record. He over-stated his case. He bullied witnesses. He made the odd mistake. He criticised revered war heroes. Some if it was snobbery. McCarthy was from the wrong side of the tracks. There was no Ivy League education for him. He left school early but through hard work still managed to become a lawyer. He was also a Catholic. But most of it was because he was up against the combined forces of the communists and the establishment.

The Tydings Committee – a special sub-committee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – was established to get to the bottom of his initial 1950 claim that there were 57 communist agents working in the State Department. It did no such thing. In fact it didn’t even try.

According to Evans it was a cover up from start to finish. There was almost no attempt to get at the facts. Often a denial from the accused was sufficient. At one point they even asked the leader of the US Communist Party if certain people were members. He had to be prompted to say “no”. Most of the hostile questioning was not aimed at the accused – who were often evasive – but McCarthy himself. An inordinate amount of time was given over to attempting to prove that McCarthy had initially claimed a figure of 205 rather than 57 – as if it mattered. There was a definite suggestion that State Department personnel files had been tampered with. It was no great surprise when the official report concluded that McCarthy had made it all up.

December 7, 2015

If not amnesty, then what?

Filed under: Americas, Government, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

At Coyote Blog, Warren Meyer cuts to the chase on the whole amnesty “debate” in US politics:

Mickey Kaus wonders why the GOP elite is still “clinging to amnesty” for illegal immigrants. I have the same thought every time I hear someone rail against “amensty”: What the f*ck else are we going to do? Put 12 million people in jail for violating immigration laws? Are we really talking about deporting 12 million people? Do you have any idea how ugly this will be? I don’t want to commit a Godwin’s Law violation, but rousting people — whole families — out of their homes at gunpoint and loading them up on trucks and trains to be shipped en mass somewhere else — does this sound like any other 20th century event to you? If you wanted to find some other precedent for this that was not the German shipping of Jews to Poland, what would even be close?

Looked at another way, the disastrous government and civil war in Syria has created, by UN estimates, 4 million refugees. At a stroke, do Republicans really want to create 12 million refugees?

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