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Archive for the tag “Hillary Clinton”

The One Ring

People have often discussed the symbolism of the rings of power in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Some have tried to interpret the story allegorically, an approach that Tolkien himself rejected, and the question keeps cropping up.

Someone recently asked, in a Tolkien newsgroup:

Assuming Sauron’s fears would have come true, and Aragron had brought the Ring to Minas Tirith.

What could he have done with it?  Or did Sauron consider the unexpected appearance of the Army of the Dead as something that Aragorn had done with the Ring?

It seems to me that even attempting to answer that question would indicate that one had missed a central point of the story. Nevertheless, people do ask such questions, and there seems to be no adequate way of responding to them.

But the other day someone posted a graphic on Facebook relating to the elections taking place in the USA later this year, which seems to be an excellent response:


It says quite a lot about the US elections, and it says quite a lot about The Lord of the Rings. At least that it how it seems to me, writing from 10000 miles away from the US, in South Africa.

Of course it assumes familiarity with the plot of The Lord of the Rings, and it also assumes a certain degree of familiarity with US politics, and the different approaches taken by different candidates. Not being American, I rely on those online quiz thingies to tell me which candidates come closest to my way of thinking, and one of them told me that I side 94% with Bernie Sanders on most 2016 Presidential Election issues. Hilary Clinton came second. But the graphic summarises quite nicely the difference between them, if one is familiar with The Lord of the Rings, and it also, if one is at all familiar with the positions taken by the candidates and their supporters on various issues, helps to make the significance of the ring in the plot of the book clearer.

So one small graphic can help to clarify a political question, of who to vote for in an election, and a literary question of the meaning of a central artifact in a well-known novel.


Overdone stuff on Facebook

On Facebook recently there seems to be a proliferation of pictures to illustrate sayings, slogans or cliches.

It tends to be the opposite of the “Occupy” movement — 99% are bad or meaningless, and a waste of bandwidth. The words themselves aren’t worth much, but on the principle that “a picture is worth a thousand words” people seem to try to give the impression that something is meaningful when it is actually meaningless by wrapping it up in pictures.

Now perhaps this is all a matter of personal taste. I’ve occasionally “shared” a picture that I thought was true or witty, and some people have then liked my “status” (status? as in married or single? HIV positive or negative? Employed, unemployed or retired? Refugee? Asylum seeker?).

Here are some of the sillier ones I’ve seen recently.

The only message I get from this one is that atheists are just as self-deluded as the rest of humanity. Whoever produced this conveniently ignores (and obviously wants to persuade other people to ignore), things like the Butovo Massacre.

And then there is this one.

At one level, the message is much the same as the previous picture, but in a sense it is worse.

The sentiment expressed is true enough, and I have no problem with that. The problem is not with what is said, but rather with what is not said, because the implication is that those, like the person pictured, to whom the saying is attributed, who are willing to shed blood and take innocent life in the name of national pride and imperial hegemony will, of course, bring a true and lasting peace.

Bah, humbug!

Like the first picture, it tells you half the story, and tries to get you to ignore the other half.

The next one, however, is the worst of the lot.

The one of Hillary Clinton shows something she said and shows a picture of the one who said it.

But in this one, the words don’t matter, because I’m pretty sure the silly-looking git in the purple jacket and bow tie never said it at all. I’ve seen his face on Facebook dozens of times, with all kinds of opinions attributed to him, some of them utterly contradictory.

At least with Hillary Clinton you know who she is, and you know that she is part of a government in whose name have been done many of the things that she ascribes to the name of religion.

But who is the bloke with the purple jacket and the bow tie? And does he actually know what opinions have been ascribed to him by countless thousands of Facebook posters? They are so contradictory that he can’t possibly agree with them all. And why should his supposed endorsement make the sentiment expressed any more acceptable?

I say nothing about the sentiment itself — in this case the content is unimportant. It’s just a question of why this guy’s endorsement is thought to be important. It’s about as silly as those old advertisements in the 1940s and 1950s that showed an actor in a white coat endorsing a particular brand of toothpaste.

On the other hand, I did think that this one was funny, and probably would not have worked so well without the pictures.

Which just goes to show that it’s probably all a matter of taste, after all.

Why Clinton Lost and why Obama won

The media have been going to town on Barack Obama’s clinching of the US Democratic Party’s nomination as presidential candidate.

The South African media, in their usual racist fashion, have concentrated on the superficialities — the colour of Obama’s skin. That says more about South African society than it does about the US presidential election — it shows that nearly 15 years after the end of apartheid, we are still obsessed with race, to the exclusion of other considerations.

Very few have have mentioned what could be Obama’s downfall — his attitude satirised in the song:

The working class can kiss my arse
I’ve got the foreman’s job at last

in his sudden back-tracking on peace by announcing that he wouldn’t talk to Hamas, showing that the “change you can believe in” hype was just that – hype, and that underneath, once he had secured the nomination, he was reverting to the same old image of the warmongering USA, bully boy of the world.

But these pieces give a different view, which the mainstram media seem to have missed:

ZNet – Why Clinton Lost:

Yesterday, brought another effort: Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter offers ‘Five Reasons Obama Won. Five Reasons Clinton Lost.’ Those latter five, which in places echo the Journal, boil down to ‘No Respect for the Voters,’ ‘Poor Strategy,’ ‘Weak Management,’ ‘Arrogance,’ and ‘Entitlement.’

Both of these pieces offer smart insights about why Clinton lost, and it’s hard to dispute the salience of any of these factors. But neither the Journal nor Alter give significant consideration to an additional factor that may have been more important than any other: Clinton’s vote to go to war in Iraq.

Even before this latest batch of stories, the media’s efforts to explain Clinton’s struggles have consistently downplayed Iraq, as bloggers like The Atlantic’s Matthew Yglesias and Atrios have pointed out.

It’s hard to remember now, but last year, when he was a dark-horse challenger, Obama’s consistent opposition to the war, along with Clinton’s vote for it, provided much of the rationale for his long-shot candidacy. Without that black-and-white contrast, it’s doubtful whether his insurgent campaign could have gotten off the ground.

And Stephen Zunes, professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco says ZNet – Why Obama Won:

Barack Obama has won the race for the Democratic nomination for president against Hillary Clinton on the issues. Sort of.

This is not what the pundits will tell you, who would rather focus upon the most superficial and trivial aspects of the two final candidates’ style, personality, associates, personal history, and campaign organization and strategy, not to mention race and gender.

This is not what many on the left will say either, in recognition of how little differences there were between the two candidates’ stated positions on most policies.

Another difference between the two, which has nothing to do with sex or skin, is that Barack seems to be populist, while Hillary seems to be elitist. This point has been noted by several bloggers, like Tauratinzwe in Observations from the Sidelines: Yes, WE Can!:

The essential difference between Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton is found in their use of the first person pronoun.

Listen to Hillary and you hear the first person singular used over and over. ‘I will . . . ‘ ‘I have . . . ‘ I – I – I.

Listen to Obama and you hear the first person plural pronoun. ‘We can . . . ‘ ‘We are able . . . ‘ ‘Yes we can!’ ‘Si, se puede!’

The second person plural pronoun is also used differently. Clinton says she will do things for you. Obama says he will enable you to do things.

Now I’m not a fundi on US politics, and as I’ve noted in my blogs, I sometimes find it difficult to understand American culture, but until Obama capitulated to the Israel lobby last week, I thought he might be the better of the two. I do have a stake in American politics — after all, as a result of George Bush’s warmongering and other policies we are paying a lot more for fuel and food. So it would be nice to be able to believe in change, and that makes Obama’s backpedalling even more disappointing.

Obama and Hillary Spin a ‘Big Lie’ About Iraq

Obama and Hillary Spin a ‘Big Lie’ About Iraq | War on Iraq | AlterNet: “On the campaign trail, the two candidates often speak of bringing the troops home and ending the war, and Democratic primary voters, 80 percent of whom want U.S. troops out of Iraq within 12 months, reward them with boisterous applause.

It’s a Big Lie, and everyone who follows the debates over U.S. policy towards Iraq knows it, but refuses to call the candidates on it. Both Clinton and Obama (PDF) have been very clear — in the fine print — about the fact that they will leave a significant number of ‘residual forces’ in Iraq, albeit with a more limited mission than the Bush administration has pursued. They would protect U.S. infrastructure and personnel — Obama says ‘the U.S. embassy’ — train Iraqi forces and retain a rapid-response force to conduct ‘limited counter-terrorism’ missions.”

Lessons from the Iraqi-American War

It seems that no lessons have been learned from the Iraqi-American War, which has dragged on for five years now.

It is said that Hermann Goering complained to the Nuremburg tribunal that they were on trial because they lost the war. And the answer was that they were not on trial because they lost the war, but because they started it.

after five years of war, it seems that no real lesson has been learned. Indeed, there’s a refusal to even acknowledge why it was wrong to invade Iraq.

Sure, there’s lots of criticism of the Bush administration for poor war planning, and for squandering US lives and “treasure”.

All this is true, but it skirts a more fundamental problem — one that was barely mentioned in all the fifth-year anniversary commentaries last week — that the invasion was a war of aggression carried out in defiance of international law.

This is not a mere technicality. According to the Nuremberg Tribunal, set up by the Allies after World War II: “War is essentially an evil thing… To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime.”

None of this seems to concern Senator Hillary Clinton, who stands a good chance of being the “anti-war” candidate in the US presidential election.

Of course, Clinton voted in 2002 to authorize an invasion of Iraq.

blog it

And Goering’s is the lesson that many US supporters of the Iraqi-American War have failed to learn. They like to talk about “appeasement”, but forget that in the 1930s the ones who were being appeased were the aggressors. In the case of the Iraqi-American War the appeasers were people like Tony Blair, who appeased George Bush, and did not stand up to his plans for aggression.

And Hillary Clinton apparently went along with her husband’s bombing of Yugoslavia.

Breaking Down Obama’s And Clinton’s Support By Religion – Poll Tracker

Breaking Down Obama’s And Clinton’s Support By Religion – Poll Tracker:

Jewish Democratic voters tilt slightly to Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama, leads him by a big margin over Catholic Democrats while Democrats who say they are Protestant divide about evenly, according to a Gallup poll conducted March 1-22. Among Jewish Democrats, Clinton leads Obama 48 percent to 43 percent with 8 percent expressing no opinion. The margin of error is 6 percent. (The New York Times recently did a piece on Obama’s efforts to court the Jewish vote). Catholic Democrats favored Clinton 56 percent to 37 percent, with a 2 point margin of error, while Protestants favor Obama 47 percent to 44 percent, with a 2 point margin of error. Democrats with no religious preference favor Obama 54 percent to 40 percent.

They don’t, however, say anything about the Orthodox, the Neopagans or the Muslims.

Hat-tip to Mainstream Baptist.

Obama versus Clinton

Hat-tip to Thormonger, over on LiveJournal, for this one — you might need to go and look at it there to see it properly.

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