Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “US politics”

Protesting against US president-elect Trump

There are reports in the media about people protesting in the streets against the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA Thousands take to the streets to protest Trump win – CNNPolitics.com:

They chanted anti-Donald Trump slogans. They flooded city streets. They gathered near the White House, disheartened and dismayed. Not my President, not today, many across the nation yelled. In cities from Boston to Los Angeles, thousands of demonstrators gathered Wednesday night in protest of election results that mean the billionaire real estate developer will be the next president.

And American online friend, Paul Ilechko, responded on Facebook as follows:

I voted for Hillary Clinton, and I’m upset that she lost and the orange baboon won, but I don’t understand why people are out in the streets protesting against democracy. Once he’s actually president and does something evil, that will be the time to protest. Doing it now makes you look like a jerk and a sore loser. And it perpetuates all the stereotypes that conservatives have of liberals (my emphasis).

I agree with him.

trump-protestProtesting against his election makes it look like you are protesting against democracy, and besides, most politicians don’t actually fulfil most of their election promises. Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay. So the advice to wait until he’s actually president and does something evil seems good to me.

Also, protesting against the mere election of a person seems to be anticipating evil actions that may or may not occur, and by the time something evil does happened, the public will be satiated with the protest and will think the protesters are just crying “wolf!”

Those who feel inclined to protest at Trump’s mere election, as opposed to any evil he may do when he is actually president, should read this — The sneering response to Trump’s victory reveals exactly why he won | Coffee House:

This response to Trump’s victory reveals why Trump was victorious. Because those who do politics these days — the political establishment, the media, the academy, the celeb set — are so contemptuous of ordinary people, so hateful of the herd, so convinced that the mass of society cannot be trusted to make political decisions, and now those ordinary people have given their response to such top-down sneering and prejudice.

Oh, the irony of observers denouncing Middle America as a seething hotbed of hatred even as they hatefully libel it a dumb and ugly mob. Having turned America’s ‘left behind’ into the butt of every clever East Coast joke, and the target of every handwringing newspaper article about America’s dark heart and its strange, Bible-toting inhabitants, the political and cultural establishment can’t now be surprised that so many of those people have turned around and said… well, it begins with F and ends with U.

And the biggest irony of all is that in America these cultured despisers of the masses as “a basket of deplorables” are often thought of and spoken of as “the Left”.

No doubt some of Trump’s supporters are racist and sexist, and some have and will engage in violent acts against members of minority groups. But protesting against Trump’s election is not likely to deter such behaviour. What might be more effective would be to urge Donald Trump himself to publicly condemn such behaviour. For good or ill, Donald Trump has been elected president of the USA. It would be better to urge him to good rather than to condemn him for ill that hasn’t happened yet.

Advertisements

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:

BernHil1

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.

 

Do the media live in a different world?

Last week we saw the media wittering on about the UK parliament’s “No” to David Cameron’s plan to bomb Syria as a “humiliation” for Cameron.

That was the big story.

Not that people in Syria were going to be spared having yet another group of people bombing them. Not that it was diminishing the possibility of a civil war spreading to become an international one. No, the big story was that the media thought that one man was being “humiliated”.

And now they are doing it again.

BBC News – Syria crisis: Obama’s gamble on Congress:

The draft resolution from the White House calls for authorisation for action to “deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade” Syria’s ability to use chemical weapons: two senators – one Republican, one Democrat – called that too open-ended.

Republican Senator John McCain, who has been leading the demand for military intervention in Syria, said that there was “no strategy, no plan” – and both were needed before he’d back the motion.

If Congress doesn’t back him, it will be disastrous for the president.

His decision to call for a vote will look foolish and he would be left with an appalling choice.

Ignore the vote and enrage Congress and many Americans. Or don’t strike and live with John Kerry’s words that America will be weakened, petty dictators emboldened and history’s judgement harsh on America’s leaders.

It looks as though the media pundits identify themselves with “history”, assuming that “history’s” judgements will coincide with theirs.

BushBombWill President Obama also be “humiliated” if he does the right thing, and refers the matter to the US Congress, and the US Congress does the right thing, and doesn’t agree to fan the flames of war?

Perhaps in the eyes of the media, but I think it would allow him a face-saving out.

He wouldn’t have to back down and say he was wrong. He wouldn’t have to appear to be vacillating. He doesn’t have to say anything, but if anyone asks, all he has to say is “I thought we should bomb Syria, but Congress disagreed.”

That means that the blame (and praise) for the decision would belong to the US Congress.

Obama would be off the hook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Jingo! Let’s have another war!

Over the last few days the Western media (well, Sky News anyway) has been banging the war drums, promoting war in Syria.

syria1Has anyone noticed how, since the end of the Cold War, there seem to have been a lot more hot ones? And most of them started, or aggravated, by the Western powers, especially Britain and the United States. usually by intervening in other people’s civil wars.

I think Tony Blair still holds the record as warmonger-in-chief — Yugoslavia 1999, Afghanistan 2002, Iraq 2003.

And we are now being subjected to the same barrage of media propaganda that we were subjected to in 1999. An intervention that we were told was necessary to avert a “humanitarian disaster” actually caused a humanitarian disaster far worse than anything they claimed to be averting.

And now we are hearing the same thing about “chemical weapons”. The US is already using chemical weapons in its drone strikes. Most wreapons nowadays reply on explosions caused by chemicals. The only ones that are not chemical are nuclear, and at least no one has used those yet. And the people killed in drone strikes are just as dead as those killed by any other means.

Is there any way of stopping this rush to war, or at least persuading people to stop and think about it before rushing into it?

I suggest there is one.

I suggest that the Liberal Democratic Party of the UK holds the key.

The LibDems are in coalition with the Conservative Party, whose leader, David Cameron, has been beating the war drums loudest. The LibDems and their supporters were the ones who were least enthusiastic about the Afghanistan War of 2002 and the Iraq War of 2003. So perhaps it is time for them to give notice to David Cameron that if he gets Britain involved militarily in the Syrian civil war, they will leave the coalition. Whether they have the guts to do that is another matter, but if they do, it will probably enable them to make a better showing in the next UK election than the oblivion that is likely to be their fate if they stick to the coalition to the end. So perhaps what is needed is for all Brit voters to urge their MPs, and especially all LibDem MPs, to vote against war, and if war is inevitable, to leave the coalition. Start tweeting, folks!

And if Cameron pulls back from the brink, perhaps Obama will think twice.

And then there are reports like this one:

US ‘backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria, blame it on Assad govt’: Report – Yahoo! News India:

The Obama administration gave green signal to a chemical weapons attack plan in Syria that could be blamed on President Bashar al Assad’s regime and in turn, spur international military action in the devastated country, leaked documents have shown.

A new report, that contains an email exchange between two senior officials at British-based contractor Britam Defence, showed a scheme ‘approved by Washington’.

Perhaps not the most reliable evidence, but the evidence about who the Western governments believe is responsible for the use of “chemical weapons” in Syria seems to be just as tenuous, and relies mainly on innuendo.

And there’s more here: Britain’s Daily Mail: U.S. ‘backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria” | Global Research:

We are reproducing herewith from Archives.org for the record the controversial Daily Mail article pertaining to a US sponsored intelligence operation to launch a chemical weapons attack on Syria and blame it on President Bashar al-Assad.

From the outset, the underlying objective was to provide a justification, on “humanitarian grounds”, for a military intervention directed against Syria.

US politics in a nutshell

Someone posted this on Facebook, and for those living outside the USA it says it all. It tells you all you need to know about both main parties in the current US election, and the other parties don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected anyway.

Yes, I know it’s simplistic, and it over-simplifies complex issues, but unless you’re a professional political fundi, it tells you all you need to know.

Hat-tip to Daniel Lieuwen, who shared it on Facebook.

Good question

What is the difference between what the Syrian army did in Homs and what the U.S. military did in Fallujah? And why?

What Happens in Homs … LewRockwell.com Blog:

What is the difference between what the Syrian army did in Homs and what the U.S. military did in Fallujah? And why?

Hat-tip to The Pittsford Perennialist: The Syria Narrative.

A good question.

And it prompts another:

How loud were the calls from “the international community” for military intervention to stop the US Army doing what it was doing in Fallujah?

USA dumps Unesco

Yesterday, 107 member nations in UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, voted to admit Palestine as a member. UNESCO protects world heritage sites and leads global efforts to bring clean water to the poor. They even manage a tsunami early-warning system in the Pacific.

The U.S. was one of just 14 countries that voted “no” to Palestinian admission.

But within hours of the vote, the Obama Administration announced it would stop paying its $80 million in total yearly dues to UNESCO, which amounts to over 20 percent of UNESCO’s total budget. Why? Because the vote triggered decades-old U.S. legislation that requires that the U.S. stop paying any UN body that accepts Palestine as a member—even though official U.S. policy is to support a Palestinian state.

That has to change.

You see, the Israeli government and its right-wing supporters in the United States don’t even want a symbolic recognition of the Palestinian’s right to self-determination or participation on the world stage. That’s what the law is really about. The Israelis have already announced that they are expediting the construction of even more settlements and withholding life-sustaining tax monies that belong to the Palestinian Authority as punishment for the vote.

The U.S. is endangering its status at the UN and impoverishing critical global program needs simply because Palestinian admission to UNESCO angered Israel.

Please write your U.S. representatives now. Tell them to waive the portion of the law that bars the president from making funding decisions based on the national interest, and to work towards repeal of the law.


If you live outside of the United States, send a message to the Obama administration that this policy is harmful for the whole world.

Don’t let this go unanswered,

Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director
Jewish Voice for Peace


from A Jewish Voice for Peace

I know more about America than the average American

A few days ago I wrote a blog post critical of American notions of justice, of its legal system, and the attitudes of its lawyers. I had a few qualms about it, since I’m not American, and the longest time I spent in America was two weeks, back in 1995. What do I know about it?

Well, more than most Americans, it seems.

Hat-tip to A conservative blog for peace for the ISI civic-literacy quiz:


Are you more knowledgeable than the average citizen? The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%. Can you do better? Questions were drawn from past ISI surveys, as well as other nationally recognized exams.

The result?

You answered 29 out of 33 correctly — 87.88 %

Do Americans have any concept of "justice"?

I begin to wonder if the American legal system has any concept of justice at all.

In the course of a discussion about everyday words used as trademarks, someone referred to this:

Seattle woman fights lawsuit for selling Coach purses on eBay | KING5.com Seattle

A Seattle woman is fighting a trendy handbag designer who accused her of trademark infringement for selling her used purses online.

Gina Kim is a former Coach Inc. employee and planned to sell several of her used Coach bags online. But soon after posting them on eBay, she received a threatening cease-and-desist letter from a New York law firm representing Coach.

In the letter, Kim was accused of trademark infringement and threatened with a $2 million lawsuit. The letter also demanded Kim surrender all her merchandise, never sell any of it again, admit guilt and send a $300 check to Coach.

The problem is, such bullying tactics do not seem to be at all unusual. In other countries there are usually Law Societies that discipline lawyers who engage in unethical practices. But American lawyers seem to do it with impunity.

If this were just an isolated incident, one could say that it was an aberration. You always find a couple of bad apples in the sack. But then I recalled the case of the Brewer brothers and their takeover of the SPCK Bookshops in the UK, and their use of lawyers to bully and intimidate anyone who questioned their unethical (and illegal) business practices. Well, they may have been legal in Texas, but they certainly weren’t in Britain. Cease and Desist: One Year On | SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a date permanently etched in my memory, it’s a date I certainly won’t forget in a hurry: it’s the date J Mark ‘Bully Boy’ Brewer (shown right, screen grab from Fox News), Principal of Texas law firm, attorneys and counselors, Brewer and Pritchard PC, issued the first of his now notorious ‘Cease and Desist’ messages, threatening me, my friends and my colleagues with legal action if we didn’t stop reporting on his abuse of his staff and his mismanagement of the former SPCK bookshops.

If that weren’t bad enough, I caught part of an interview of a British judge on Sky News. They were asking him about whether Gaddafi, if captured, should face trial locally in Libya or before the International Criminal Court (ICC). The judge said that an ICC trial would be better, because Libya has no independent judiciary and it would take some time to establish one, and so Gaddafi would not face a fair trial in Libya.

He said that there had been the same problem in Iraq eight years ago, where he had been one of those who had taken part in training Iraqi judges in the basic principles of justice.

When it came to the trial of Saddam Hussein, however, the biggest problem was the Americans, who did not want Saddam Hussein tried before the ICC because they would not impose a death sentence. And so he was tried by Iraqi courts, but when the British-trained judges questioned unjust legal practices, they were sacked.

There seems to be quite a big cultural gap, at least, between British and American conceptions of justice. Things that Americans seem to regard as normal inspire anger and revulsion in British people. That is not to say that there are no miscarriages of justice in Britain. There are. But they are not recognised as a normal part of the legal process.

And then comes the last straw: Libya: Scottish Officials Try To Contact Al-Megrahi In Tripoli As Unrest Spreads | UK News | Sky News:

Scottish officials are continuing urgent efforts to contact the Lockerbie bomber, amid the changing situation in Tripoli.

Under the terms of his compassionate release from Greenock Prison two years ago, Abdel Basset al Megrahi has been routinely checked upon by officials from East Renfrewshire Council…

Jim Swire, who lost his daughter Flora in the Lockerbie bombing, believes Megrahi was wrongly convicted and is concerned he could come to harm.

He told Sky News: “I think he might well be assassinated by whoever takes over the part of Tripoli he’s in.

“I believe he could also be handed over to the Americans, or abducted by them.”

And it appears that US politicians are already demanding that al Megrahi be handed over to them. But should anyone be handed over to a nation that has such a corrupt legal system and no conception of civilised justice, but only of tribal vengeance and the blood feud, as is shown by the bullying tactics routinely adopted by its lawyers?

Americans love to criticise Sharia law as being barbarous — but can they demonstrate that their own legal system is any better?

Thousands Protest After Wisconsin Governor Threatens to Deploy National Guard to Intimidate Unions | Moral Low Ground

They’re rioting in Africa, there are earthquakes in New Zealand. It’s all over the TV news channels. The US government has been expressing disapproval of an armed forces crackdown on demonstrators in Libya, but I had to turn to Russia Today to learn that the Governor of Wisconsin in the USA is threatening to use armed forces to intimidate demonstrators there, and that those protests have been going on for longer than the ones in Libya, but have gone largely unreported in the rest of the world.

Thousands Protest After Wisconsin Governor Threatens to Deploy National Guard to Intimidate Unions | Moral Low Ground:

ThinkProgress reports that Governor Walker has threatened to call out the National Guard if state workers resist his draconian rollback of their rights. Walker told a reporter that the Guard is “prepared… for whatever the governor, their commander-in-chief, might call for.” Veterans groups denounced the governor’s threat to use the National Guard, traditionally deployed to help citizens in times of natural disasters or other life-and-death emergencies, to settle personal scores. “Maybe the new governor doesn’t understand yet– but the National Guard is not his own personal intimidation force,” said Robin Eckstein, an Iraq War veteran, former Wisconsin National Guard member and member of the veterans group VoteVets.org.

I wonder if any National Guard members in Wisconsin will be defecting to Canada, as the Libyan Airforce pilots defected to Malta?

Post Navigation