Category Archives: politics - Page 2

Happy Coincidence?

Wouldn’t a nice little war with Iran be a great antidote to all this crazy talk about cutting the military budget?

What’s The Job About?

Just came across this post about Authenticity in politics. Potter makes some good points, but I think there’s something he’s missing.

“Authenticity” is one of those political buzzwords; it doesn’t actually mean anything. Voters don’t want a politician who is ‘authentic’ (whatever that means). What the voters want, what I think some people are trying to get at when they say ‘authentic,’ is someone whose concept of what the job is is at least similar to the voter’s.

That’s it. Not someone who is ‘honest’ or ‘authentic’ or ‘true to himself.’ Just someone whose view of what the office holder should be doing is similar to what the voter thinks the office holder should be doing.

Let’s assume most voters have some idea of what problems they would try to fix if they somehow found themselves holding high elected office. The details will vary depending on the particular voter, but let’s say our hypothetical voter has this mental ‘to-do’ list of what they would do if they had the power:

1. Create jobs.

2. Get ‘us’ out of [whatever war happens to be going on at the moment].

3. Reduce healthcare costs.

Etc. Basically, the voter may not have much idea how to go about actually fixing these problems, or achieving these goals, but pretty much every voter has some idea of what problems they think need solving.

This is where the disconnect comes in. Right or wrong, most voters think that most politicians’ to-do list after taking office looks more like this:

1. Pay off favors to corporate paymasters.

2. Pay off favors to special interest groups that donated a lot of money to my campaign.

3. Secure funds for next election.

4. Bang a few interns.

You may notice that there is little overlap between these two lists. That’s the problem. Voters don’t give a shit about ‘authentic.’ They just want someone who they think will actually try to solve the problems they see.

A politician who sees the job as being about solving problems, not about just getting elected.

Candidate, Inc.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if you could invest in candidates the same way we can in stocks? Long positions, short sells, the whole thing.

What, We’re Not Winning?

You mean there are people who did believe the official statements?

Power Corrupts

A while back, I talked about how many of the very rich are essentially sociopaths. I wasn’t just being mean; there’s scientific evidence to support that position.

Why it matters that our politicians are rich.

Demographic Democracy Declines

Politicians–especially, though certainly not exclusively, Republicans–are focused more and more on serving the interests of corporations and the very rich. They have to be; it requires corporate sponsorship to get elected, and those favors have to be paid off.

As the focus on serving the rich, though, they are focusing on an ever smaller portion of the electorate. Right now, I’d say about 10%. Eventually, the other 90% are going to realize that they’re being screwed. When that happens, corporate-sponsored politicians will no longer be able to win an honest popular election.

What happens then?

My own take is that they’ll try and drive voter participation in the unserved portion of the electorate down to such a low level that they can win with just a few percent of the population. When that fails, the elections will become even less honest than they already are. When the rich and powerful can no longer take control of the seats of power by honest means, they’ll do it dishonestly. Bet on it.

Cost of War

The ‘War on Terror’ has cost us between 3 and 8 trillion dollars.

Do you feel safer, or just poorer?

The Rich and Society

French Aristocrats are considering fleeing again. Unlike the last time, they aren’t threatened with being beheaded, just with having to pay their fair share in taxes. To save a little money, they’re thinking about abandoning their country and living somewhere else.

To me, this is additional evidence that the very rich aren’t members of the society they live in; they’re parasites on it.

More News From DUH: The Magazine of Shit You Already Knew

The Guardian asks, “Did Republicans deliberately crash the US economy?

Duh. It’s not like they’re going to lose their houses or jobs. Why should the political leadership care how bad the economy is when they’re not going to take the blame? Winning is much more important.

The Morning After The Night Before

A little follow up to my last post.

Jason Alexander was kind enough to retweet a link to that post, and I’ve gotten an amazing amount of feedback on it, from a number of very nice people. Many of those people think I’m crazy or full of shit, of course, but they were very nice about it. It’s humbling to have so many people have kind things to say about a little piece I knocked out in an hour or so before bed.

I had been keeping mostly silent on the issue of gun control, because it seemed like a dick move to be talking against gun control while people were still mourning their loved ones. Jason Alexander’s post made me realize that that wasn’t stopping the dicks. If reasonable people (and I do try) stay silent, that leaves the extremists to define the debate, and that doesn’t do anyone any good, so I decided to speak up. I’m glad I did.

A few more thoughts.

With the system we have now in the US, everyone has to pass a background check before buying a gun. The check is supposed to prevent convicted felons and people with a history of mental illness from buying guns. That’s a good thing. It can’t stop every nutcase–there are too many who don’t yet have any kind of record–but it’s a good start.

The problem with it is that too many of the relevant agencies don’t submit mental health data to that database. Fixing that seems to be a much simpler, less contentious, and more effective preventative than banning a single type of gun. Just get these agencies to follow the law and submit their data to the national background check database.

Combine that with the purchase flagging system I described last night and I think we could have something that’s pretty effective. (Implementation detail; when a person is flagged for questionable purchase patterns, it doesn’t just tap an investigator. It would also flag that person in the background check database, stopping any further purchases until they’ve been checked out.)

The purchase-flagging database and investigation idea isn’t perfect, of course. It wouldn’t catch everyone. There would have to be controls to keep it from being abused. But it would catch a lot of people. It probably would have caught James Holmes. He was crazy enough that just his voicemail message made a gun club think he was too unstable to be a member.

Whatever we do won’t be perfect. We can’t stop every bad person from doing bad things. But the ones we can stop, we should.

I believe very strongly that people have a right to own the means of self-defense. But I also believe that people have a right to not be shot by some nutcase while they’re just trying to watch a movie. Reconciling those positions is not easy, and anyone who claims it is is either lying or foolish. Or both.

We should also try to live up to the example of the Norwegians; a year after their own tragic massacre they haven’t changed their laws at all. They haven’t panicked.

“The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation.” –Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

These are tough issues that reasonable people can disagree on, but only by disagreeing reasonably do we have some chance of finding common ground, and a solution.