American Politics

As a thirty-something guy with an academic background in History and a long-held contempt for the political scene, I am shocked (in a good way) that voters in Florida will actually get to see this on their TVs.  It’s something to watch in full, whether you’re an American or not.

(I promise I will write about anime tomorrow)

~ by Haloed Bane on January 29, 2012.

16 Responses to “American Politics”

  1. I live in Florida, and damn I didn’t realize you were so young! So I was partying at a VFW a couple weeks ago in LA for a young returned veteran. Everyone was trashed, but I managed to chat a little with the guy (my brother’s friend) about his return home. I think it was a bit too soon as he didn’t have much to say, but there was a void look in his eye, like something was missing, sense or reason maybe. Maybe he didn’t know what he wanted to say, I’m not sure. It’s been the case with other friends of the family who are even higher up in the military; it’s almost like confusion. I have a feeling there’s going to be a lookback by the vets, 10-20 years from now, and who knows what view of the world they’ll share with us.

    Everything I’ve seen or heard is still quite vague, where the media attempts to partition things into sides, but I believe there is more grey area than we (the general population) could realize. That’s just how social, political, and economic machines work at scale. I think the foreign policy has consequences but also that the things we do or produce as a country, our media, also have global consequences (perhaps more indirectly than our military presence).

    Civil rights, women’s rights, these are powerful ideas that can inspire many peoples around the world, but I can see where the oppressive forces would want to attack and war against such ideas when it draws tension among the governed. At the same time, that’s where we get in trouble because for some genius reason, on par with “forcing the good book on the heathens,” we act as if it’s our responsibility to “free” people (potentially and usually a political and commercial guise).

    Downsizing our military presence would have a positive affect on social hostility towards “America” but I don’t think it would eliminate acts of terrorism against us entirely.

    Btw, I like Paul. I wouldn’t mind him being elected and bringing fresh air into D.C. But no president or politician will regain my faith in the political machine, I leave that to whomever is bold enough to either restrict or remove lobbyists from Washington entirely.

    • I worked alongside a vet for many years. He was very proud of his service and very aware of the ludicrous nature of a lot of the stuff the troops had to get involved with. It made for some good stories.

      As much as “American ideas” might anger people abroad, I don’t see terrorists actually coming to this country for the sake of punishing us for promoting them. I think 99.9% of terrorist attacks are about trying to change our minds about specific interventions abroad (especially in the Israel-Palestine issue).

      The political machine is dreadful, isn’t it, here and elsewhere. And reforming the political machine doesn’t just require boldness. I believe 100% that Paul would be bold enough to TRY to expel the lobbyists. The problem is that everyone else would conspire to prevent him, period.

  2. Thirty-something? I thought only young people were pure enough to like Ron Paul.

  3. Ron Paul is amazing on a lot of topics, but then he makes me cringe on others.

    Regulation is very important in keeping capitalism healthy and sustainable.

    He has a sane and rational view on Cuba, against The Patriot Act, etc.

    But then he doesn’t believe in evolution or separation of church and state.

    Getting rid of lobbyist would be good, but it won’t solve anything with Citizens United.

    • A lot of people on the left and on the right feel exactly the way you do 😀 The thing is Paul doesn’t fine-tune his principles for this or that crowd, his core philosophy is very consistent and you just have to decide whether you agree with (at least) most of it or not. If you don’t, then you need to find someone else to support.

      In theory, govt. regulation of the economy is about keeping capitalism healthy and sustainable (that’s what my macroeconomics textbook told me, sure). In practice, it’s about enriching politicians and bureaucrats. [EDIT: and those businessmen who learn how to play the game!!]

      Here is a good link on the evolution thing:

      Regardless, I don’t see what evolution has to do with him running for president.

      Paul has said in recent debates that religion can shape one’s character, but that one shouldn’t use religion to institute policy. What he’s said about church and state boils down to this: there is no basis in the constitution for banishing religion from the public sphere. Forcing towns to change their names/heraldry because of religious symbolism, attacking the motto “In God we trust”, claiming that one can’t put a Christmas tree inside a town hall, all of these things are going on today. Such actions are a grievous offense against freedom of speech, which IS in the constitution. Like the conservatives like to say, it’s “freedom of religion”, not “freedom from religion”. But no, I don’t think he believes churches should run the government or anything like that~

      [I should get a job campaigning. Haha!]

  4. I agree with the general thrust of the video, which is that the US creates a lot of trouble for itself by intervening in other countries and infringing on their rights to self-determination. Up until it says that ALL foreign interventions (or almost all, at any rate) are counterproductive. I’m unconvinced, I think there is plenty of good that can come from military partnerships with allies and from covert operations.

    I actually feel Obama has done a pretty good (though not perfect) job of reducing our level of military intervention while still being willing to use force if there is a good reason (see Libya, killing bin Laden, etc).

    Relevant to the idea of ‘listening to the troops’, I recommend this blog for humorous yet insightful comments from a soldier who served in Iraq:

    It was later turned into a book by the same name that I have not read, but have heard good things about.

    • The bin Laden operation I agree with (though the differing accounts of what happened seem to suggest they might have had a chance to capture him alive and instead decided to execute him on the spot, which I don’t agree with). Libya, on the other hand, is going to be a mess…we’ll be paying for that at some point. Paul has made this point over and over but it’s worth repeating: Libya gives up its WMD aspirations to build better ties to the West and the regime gets overthrown. North Korea builds the bomb and the regime is still around. The message to other regimes around the world is clear.

  5. If I remember correctly he is also racist and homophobic. This quote has been floating around for awhile:

    “The rate of AIDS infection is on the increase again. From the gay point of view, the reasons seem quite sensible. First, these men don’t really see a reason to live past their fifties. They are not married, they have no children, and their lives are centered on new sexual partners… because sex is the center of their lives, they want it to be as pleasurable as possible, which means unprotected sex. Third, they enjoy the attention & pity that comes with being sick.”

    If it is true or not *shrug* but he does have a good knowledge on how it started – though he is missing a every important thing in there (namely because it would shift the blame to the Americans themselves).

    As it stands – if I was American I would probably vote Democrats because I’m VERY Anti-guns and also Obama is a pretty cool guy personality wise. Plus capitalism is stupid … I’m Australian so I have been raised more socialist.

    • I think that quote is from the now infamous newsletters. He claims not to have written or approved of them. The latest I heard was a report (from CNN maybe?) claiming that Paul indeed did not write these, but that he looked through them and approved of them because he thought he could raise more money if controversial stuff like that was in the newsletters. If this report is true then it’s a pretty horrid thing, I agree. The last sentence is particularly shocking to me. For what it’s worth, when I was growing up the main drive to have protected sex was fear of pregnancy and not AIDS (that is, we all knew about AIDS but many of us young ones would have had unprotected sex because it felt better and risked getting AIDS anyway). Of course, gays didn’t have to fear pregnancy so that must have been a factor.

      But here’s the deal. Paul believes what you do in your bedroom is your own business. Plus, he is the only candidate who is constantly making the point that our justice system is racist. So as a president he would promote equality for all races and all sexual orientations.

      Ah, guns. I support the right to bear arms. And also, capitalism is superior to socialism…Forget about theory, I’m talking practice. This doesn’t mean capitalism isn’t stupid, though 😀

      • I do not support the right to bear arms. It is a stupid and idiotic theory concreted in fear and ignorance. Being from a country where guns are illegal – I can (and have) easily walk down the dangerous areas with no fear of robberies and weapons. I guess I would rather have a safer community and lives than living in fear. Personal preference I suppose.

        In practice – Capitalism fails terribly. Really terribly. Just look at America for example – the greed is disgusting and thousands of people would die on the streets from lack of caring. Though in all honesty the best systems are in fact a combination of them both to different degrees.

        Capitalism is good for money and that is pretty much it. In Australia – everyone pays a tax and the size depending on how much you own. This goes towards the government and goes towards basic health care and services. In my country – if you are a uni student you don’t have to pay straight up. You create a debt which you pay off once you get a job. (So I don’t get all this – I can’t pay for uni thing that other countries have).

        I suppose I should put it this way … I’m not a “real” socialist but however I’m socialist rather than capitalist as I rather see everyone get a chance – then the greedy people getting all of it *cough* America *cough*. Health and utilities should be governed by … well … the government.

        Side note: I would like to state that my country was rated “the happiest middle size country” or something like that. I suppose everyone not being scared of guns and having access to basic needs helps. (and no crazy religious folk governing everything – seriously church and state should be separate)

        Also if you haven’t notice I HATE America. It is on my last place to visit list along with all war torn countries and anti-feminist locations. People are way to stupid from my experience and the system is disgusting. I honestly don’t know anyone from Australia that likes America.

        I think I should add that Ron Paul – regardless abut the claims – is the best conservative choice. At least he has a brain on his shoulders unlike the rest.

        And if this message seems really angry – it is because I am worked up. Not on this but something else. (Well maybe the guns part ….)

        • Well, Aussies hate Poms and Kiwis as well, right? I love the UK and NZ so I think America is in decent company 🙂

          I could support a total ban on firearms if someone could assure me neither criminals nor the government would carry them either. Till then though…

          You have a bit of a warped view of America, no doubt. “Disgusting” can describe many aspects of it, true, but that’s the case for every country (for example, in Australia, I hear the dead kangaroos on the road are disgusting).

          There’s still a lot of charity in this country, more than some Hollywood films would have you believe.. You say that capitalism would let people die on the street with lack of caring. You seem to imply that the government has to implement an economic system to force people to take care of each other or otherwise there will be a great catastrophe. Ultimately, what this tells me is you have a very pessimistic view of human nature. And yet the government is made of people, isn’t it? Even worse, what kind of people are attracted to government do you think? Very often it’s people hungry for power and glory and without enough creativity to excel in artistic or commercial endeavors.

          • Considering that my father is a military man I can tell you of this – first it is called ANZAC for a reason. You know. Australian and NZ. In fact we have a lovely little brotherly relationship. I may have told you this but …

            If you get the Australians and the New Zealanders together they will fight. If you get Australians, NZs and Canadians then the A & NZ will gang up on the C. If you get the As, NZs, Cs and England together – everyone will gang up on the Brits. Then if you include the Americans … it doesn’t matter how many countries come together – everyone will gang up on them. No one honestly likes the Americans. Seriously. No one.

            I don’t know what you have heard but America is pretty hated across the English speaking world. I know many places in Europe that refuses to serve to Americans but quite happy to serve to Australians. But if you were to say Americas relationship with us and Americans relationship with the Middle East people then yes. We have a lovely outlook on Americans.

            On the topic of guns – guns are given to the people. They are called the police. The police are the civilians who take up arms to protect innocents. We – the innocents – do not need the guns if our attackers do not have guns. Considering the psychology of humans and our inability to think correctly in situations – guns would up the suicide rates and murder rates with ease. I suggest you watch the doco here: while it some cases there are a few issues – other than that it is a great indicator for why guns are very dangerous to the general population.

            I do not believe my impression of America is that far from the truth. Many people I have known who have gone there have come back saying they are glad they are Australian.

            I hate to go “up the ante” on you but American charities are constantly filled with religious biased. Just look at the Planned Parenthood fiasco. Which – it isn’t a charity – but is suffering from massive attacks from religious nut jobs.

            In Australia – the separation of Church and State is generally complete. Not only that but the government gives people all they really need. Health, shelter, food and money are all available to Australians with ease.

            The fact is that – yes. The Government SHOULD have laws and regulations that help the people. The government SHOULD have an economic system that gives back to the people. This is the ethical way. Not the way if you want to gain more money.

            Humans are by nature are full of greediness. That is why the world is in such a big mess. People want power. People want money. That is why so many countries are in debt – because people WANT more than they should. Capitalism just encourages it.

            Also in Australia we have very good Samaritan laws. In fact – it is a crime for a Doctor in Australia to be at a scene of an accident and not help. They will lose their license. Also in Australia – you can not be sued by someone if you try to help them and you fail/ make it worse. From my father – Apparently China is now looking into similar laws to what Australians have after a 2 year old was hit by a car and she laid there and no one helped. 18 people apparently walked by without helping her.

            I see the problem is that I have been brought up in this “help someone” environment which is supported and pushed by the Government. This is probably the reason we can’t see eye to eye on this.

            • Dislike for America in Europe and around the world is, I think, largely determined by U.S. foreign policy and its arrogance. That’s of course one thing that the Democrats claimed they would repair and didn’t do. Paul would do much better. Thankfully, I’ve never had any problems traveling all over the world on an American passport. Then again, I’m preternaturally charming.

              It looks to me that the Australian like-dislike spectrum is in sync with power. NZ is the least powerful country, then Canada, then UK, then the U.S. Might pride not have something to do with this? Interestingly, I worked for many years with a group of colleagues from the US, UK and NZ (no Australians) and we all liked Australia fine..

              I’ve heard all sorts of things on gun control vs. crime rate. Apparently in many countries there is simply no correlation. In America most gun crimes are in areas with higher gun control, BUT I will readily admit that there are other factors in play here that might not have to do with gun laws at all (e.g. rural areas are simply safer, and these tend to have less gun regulation).

              1) Planned Parenthood is a pro-choice organization.
              2) Many people in America believe innocent life should be protected at all costs (this belief is informed by religion, but also on legal grounds)
              3) Life begins at conception (this is not only a religious opinion, it’s medical fact).
              4) From (2) and (3) it follows that many people oppose abortion, not only on religious grounds but also on legal grounds.
              4) Planned Parenthood receives government funding, and the source of a lot of this funding is taxpayers’ money.
              5) Therefore, a large group of people opposed to abortion are being forced to support it. I don’t see what’s so surprising or nutty about opposition to this scheme!!

              I don’t know anything about the Australian system, I just read up a little on it now and learned that it’s one of the biggest welfare systems and that it generally gets good marks from observers. Good. Australia is definitely an unusual country: huge land and natural resources, low population. To what extent would the Australian model work in a more “normal” country?? I don’t know. Also, on the impact of society. Do you have large groups of people who depend on the government and don’t work at all or is government aid tied in with with work programs? Do people on the dole eventually graduate to having their own livelihood and building their own lives or do they stay on the dole generation after generation? Also, what about people paying lots into the system? Is it like Britain and Scandinavia where many (though definitely not all) accept the system and pay into it happily, or is the system under attack?

              • Speaking from the Canadian context I’d definitely agree on this point (and we pay a lot of attention to the politics of our neighbours).

                Australia and Canada have a lot of similarities – small populations, large territory and resources. The politics and policy that work well in those countries doesn’t transfer over easily into the American context, where the population is huge and urban sprawl is massive – which complicates efficient welfare delivery. It’s not just policy but social/historical/geographical context.

                On the firearms issue – the thorny thing about it is that while it’s mostly construed as a domestic issue, there are foreign policy ramifications to it too. Guns purchased legally or illegally in US markets (usually in less regulated states) often have a habit of somehow winding up in Latin American drug cartels, which fuels the destabilization of those nations. It’s something that rarely gets mentioned in the debate.

                As for Ron Paul, well, call me a bit of a pessimist. I’ve no doubt that he *would* try to implement many of his libertarian reforms, but *could* he? That’s the part I tend to be pretty skeptical on. And it’s rather dismal how little coverage he’s given on any news outlet: it seems he has been consigned as the “crazy backwoods hermit”, which is all the more amplified by how much of a circus the Republican primaries have been.

  6. @Vendredi,

    I imagine a big part of the reason that American guns would end up South is technological (American gun manufacturers are better than their neighbors at it and thus there is demand abroad). This quickly gets linked to another big problem in American politics: border control. How come all these guns end up South?!

    Yup, Canada is even more extreme than Australia (amazingly low pop. density).

    As for Ron Paul, it’s hard to see him succeed alone in the presidency. But his supporters have to be thinking long-term…if Paul runs a successful campaign eventually more Ron Pauls will spring up.

    The best evidence of how Paul gets ignored is in this must-see video!

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