Sunday, October 28, 2012

Obama's "Incompetence"

Obama’s “Incompetence”
P. Schultz
October 28, 2012

            Just a bit of a follow up to my last blog on Obama and why he would not be all that upset if the election were to be decided by a razor thin margin. Here is Frank Bruni’s column from today’s New York Times pointing out that Obama’s current troubles have something to do with him and his performance rather than “forces” over which he, Obama, has no or little control. But Bruni does not take the “next step,” viz., to wonder if Obama’s actions are not a reflection of a strategy. As a result, Bruni ends up having to speculate that Obama has lost his “magic!” And isn’t that the point at which we should shake our heads and wonder, not so much at Obama’s performance, but rather at the emptiness of what passes for political commentary.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Electoral College "Victory"

Electoral College ‘Victory’
P. Schultz
October 27, 2012

Here is a link to an article in the Washington Post about what is, apparently, the very real possibility that Romney could win the popular vote and Obama could win the Electoral College vote and, hence, the presidency. I doubt this will happen simply because close calls in this regard are more common than people suspect. And there is the fact, as some see it, that Nixon won the popular vote in 1960, while Kennedy won in the Electoral College. [See a book entitled The People’s President for an explanation of this outcome.]

But other than underestimating the likelihood of a close call, as some call it, the article makes it seem as if this is a result that candidates for the presidency try to avoid – whereas I suspect that is less true than most suppose. Our politicians love to talk about their “powerlessness,” that is, their alleged inability to do what they really want to do because of the alleged “conservatism” of the people or the power of interest groups that seem able to control our political process. Of course, this line of argument assumes, often without examination, that what politicians actually do they don’t want to do! Reference to Vietnam as a “quagmire” comes to my mind, the image apparently being that our politicians got dragged into a war they never intended to get dragged into. It is, of course, quite vague as to who or what did this “dragging,” while people overlook or minimize the clearly militaristic rhetoric of JFK’s inaugural address and his fascination with “counterinsurgency theory.”  

Anyway, such a stance is even more popular in times of significant popular anger, such as we are experiencing now, because if our politicians are relatively powerless to effect meaningful changes, then they can, without blame, perpetuate the status quo and, of course, their own power and prominence. So, perhaps, one reason the election is so close is not due to forces beyond the candidates’ control but is due to actions of the candidates themselves. Or, if one remembers it, due to a candidate’s “inaction” or “passivity” in, say, a presidential debate, a passivity that no one, including the candidate himself, is able to explain.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The "Matrix Disposals"

The “Matrix Disposals”
P. Schultz
October 26, 2012

Here is a story from the Guardian. Truly Orwellian stuff.

Hey, I can imagine it now. Person comes home from work near D.C. and the spouse asks: "How many people did you 'dispose' of in the 'matrix' today, dear?" "Just a few, dear. What's for dinner?" I voted early yesterday for the first time and for Gary Johnson for president. But, hey, if you are into killings or 'matrix disposals,' Johnson's not your guy. Do I hear anything from the "pro-life" Catholics on this? I am listening.......listening......oh yes, there it is, the faint sounds of opposition from the Vatican!

And here is more from Greenwald. This is well worth reading.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

No Peace, No Honor

No Peace, No Honor
P. Schultz
October 10, 2012

            I am currently reading a book entitled, No Peace, No Honor, by Larry Berman, which is about Nixon and Kissinger and their attempts to end the Vietnam War. It is quite an interesting read and illuminates in many ways how our “government works.” Notice that last phrase, “how our ‘government works.’” We often talk as if our government is a machine and it works or doesn’t work at different times. But this is actually an illusion.

            What the book does illuminate is the character of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, and how they were willing to do just about anything in order to satisfy their ambitions, their lust for fame and power. For example, they were willing to involve themselves, insert themselves into the attempted negotiations by LBJ at the end of his presidency so that they could win the presidency by preventing a settlement of the war. That LBJ was willing to try to get such a settlement in order to help Humphrey win the presidency does not make Nixon’s and Kissinger’s actions less reprehensible. In fact, it only underlines the kind of men who govern us.

            Moreover, Nixon and Kissinger were not actually trying end the war. What they were trying to do was to extend the war for eight years, their eight years in office, because they knew the war could not be “won” and that the next president would be forced to withdraw. Nixon said, emphatically, that he would not be the first president to lose a war. And he was willing to do just about anything he thought he could get away with not to lose that war. As Kissinger himself said, if that meant the president had to engage in “savage” actions, then so be it; “savage” actions it would be.

            We fool ourselves and even hurt ourselves by pretending that the character of those who govern us does not matter. Nixon and Kissinger were not good men; their policies were not good policies and, as a result, our nation was not a good nation. Any other conclusion is an illusion, a comfortable illusion but an illusion nonetheless.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Shrub As Chicken Little

Shrub as Chicken Little
P. Schultz
October 8, 2012

“The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” Ah yes, the man God intended to be president during 9/11 and thereafter! Some choice, no?

“Kurt Eichenwald, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a former reporter for The New York Times, makes his methodical case against the Bush administration with detailed examples rather than flat assertions. With each piece of evidence, it becomes clearer that in late 2001 and in 2002, President Bush and Vice President Cheney had begun panicking. Mistaking rumors and lies fabricated by victims of torture as actionable information and elbowing aside skeptics, they gave rein to their fears that the worst was yet to come — and their hysteria spread to and infected parts of the national security ­establishment.

“The assistant attorney general John Yoo comes across as particularly determined in his wrongheadedness, and full of passionate intensity. Furious over a federal judge’s decision to uphold habeas corpus rights for a detainee held on American soil, he snapped to colleagues, “I don’t think this one guy, this one judge, this outlier should, because of the luck of the draw, be allowed to dictate how American detention policies can work.”

“The administration’s lack of self-­control led the president to repeatedly make baseless assertions to the American people. Bush said in his first State of the Union address that American soldiers had apprehended people in Bosnia who were plotting to bomb the American Embassy there. As Eichenwald shows, this was untrue. No evidence supporting that charge was ever found, and five of the six men were set free after being held for seven years, their detention ruled illegal by a federal judge. (The sixth remained in detention on the basis of secret intelligence.) “


P. Schultz
October 8, 2012

And Mitt thinks Big Bird and PBS need to be defunded? How about defunding our police state if for no other reason than that it is asinine? From the latest New York Times Sunday Book Reviews.

“But “Subversives” has a powerful story to tell about the vanity and stupidity of political leaders of any persuasion who squander public resources spying on personal enemies and obsessing over personal hangups — and the frightening weakness of the laws designed to restrain their authority.

“In “Subversives,” men like J. Edgar Hoover treat the law, at best, as a minor political consideration. And whether it’s Hoover embarking upon the quasi-legal Responsibilities Program (a secret project to disseminate derogatory information about “politically suspect” teachers) or the F.B.I. agent George Dalen committing illegal break-ins (“It was strange,” Dalen wrote, “that I should join the F.B.I. and learn how to become an institutional liar”), government officials worry fleetingly about breaking the law but quickly grow accustomed to it.

“That’s how Hoover’s initially modest Responsibilities Program ballooned into a vast and illegal national campaign of asinine, time-wasting, career-wrecking surveillance, targeting campus intellectuals who left to their own devices would have become harmless members of the mainstream. (Hoover would have been shocked at how many ’60s counterculturalists became Silicon Valley capitalists.) “

Friday, October 5, 2012

I Had a Dream or Two

I Had a Dream or Two
P. Schultz
October 5, 2012

            I had two dreams last night or, rather, one dream with two different endings…..maybe.

            In the first dream, a man held a gun to my head and said, “Vote for either Romney or Obama or I will pull the trigger.” I said, “Pull the trigger.”

            In the second dream, a man held a gun to my head and said, “Vote for either Romney or Obama or I will pull the trigger.” I said, “Have you got a coin?”

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Oligarchy of Right and Left Exposed and Explained

The Oligarchy of Right and Left Exposed and Explained
P. Schultz
October 2, 2012

Here is an article sent to me by a friend which is an excellent read. Phillip Blond talks about the poverty of our current politics, that is, how the policies of both the right and the left lead to oligarchy and must lead to oligarchy. He, Blond, calls this a “failure” but of course from the perspective of the oligarchs, our current situation is anything but a failure. But this is a minor disagreement, to say the least. Enjoy.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sex "Education"

Sex “Education”
P. Schultz
October 1, 2012

This needs no comment from me. But I bet George Allen has no idea how some contraceptive devices work.

Kaine was in the midst of attacking proposed federal legislation of Allen’s, which declares that life begins at conception. Kaine pointed out that it would make many forms of contraception illegal:

“”The way a birth control pill works is often to stop a fertilized egg’s embryo from implanting in a woman’s uterus."

Allen’s “personhood” legislation, Kaine said, would

"criminalize women’s right to make their own reproductive decisions. That is an intrusive, big government way of coming at a problem that is just exactly the kind of problem that government really can’t solve and shouldn’t be trying to solve."

Kaine’s line of argument appeared to catch Allen off guard. “Contraception,” Allen said,
"just by the word means “contra,” means there is not conception. So I don’t see a personhood amendment or the recognition of life beginning at conception as preventing contraception."

The moderator intervened: “About the contraception question, could you tell us how do you think birth control pills and intrauterine devices work?”

Allen: “I don’t profess to be a doctor. I’m just using logic, maybe a little bit of Latin, that contraception means it stops conception. And so you do not have a fertilized egg.”

Moderator: “Don’t they work by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg?”

Allen: “Well, if the egg is not fertilized there is not conception.”