Saturday, May 31, 2008

McCain Says Obama Hasn't Been to Iraq in over 873 Days! (Update 1)

Gosh, that McCain sure knows a lot!  Over 873 days he says!  Well, McCain is a big, tough, manly-man and has been to Iraq much more recently than that.  But I think there is a huge lesson here for all Americans!

The reason why America lost World War II was that the liberal Democrat and commie-coddling Franklin Delano Roosevelt, typical of his entire Democratic, scaredy-cat ilk, never went to Europe or the Pacific to find out if his plans were "succeeding."

FDR couldn't look anyone in the eye and say things were "succeeding" because he simply didn't know.  He might as well have been in a dark room.  Compare that to manly-man John "I went to Iraq" McCain, who says "I can look you in the eye and tell you [the surge] it's succeeding"

And that's why I'll never vote for a Democrat.

This post based on a comment I made at WIIIAI

UPDATE: Dwight David Eisenhower never went to Korea before he was elected President, even though the Korean War was going on!.  John McCain sure could have shown that poser a thing or two!

From the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum website:
One of the dramatic points of the 1952 presidential campaign came on October 24 in Detroit when Eisenhower announced that, immediately after his election, he would "forgo the diversions of politics and concentrate on the job of ending the Korean war....That job requires a personal trip to Korea. I shall make that trip. Only in that way could I learn how best to serve the American people in the cause of peace. I shall go to Korea."
The Michigan Delegation (UPDATE 2)

UPDATE 2: Senator Levin mispoke, so please ignore this whole post.  If you want to look at the post, View Source, as it has been commented out.

Proposer Obama Clinton Uncommitted
Michigan Democrats69590
Clinton Camp73055
Obama Camp64640
A Sneaking Suspicion

Why exactly is government divided into three parts?  Isn't is possible, for example, to have the domestic police (FBI, DEA) run by a separate branch than a more international (Pentagon and State Dept) branch?  I think it is a fine idea to have the prisons run as a separate branch than the police.  American prisons were invented by far more religious-minded people than the elected "tough on crime" types.

Now, of course, three is simpler than five.  The simplest answer might just be that a unitary power is too easily corrupted, a bi-lobed power is too obviously imbalanced if either side gets a little more power, and three is the next smallest number.

However, I suspect it has more to do with the Trinity.
Language And Conflict In The News: Rajasthan and the Gujjar

India is one of the most language conscious nations on Earth.  Although it was originally planned to phase out the use of English in favor of Hindi, since only 40% of Indians speak Hindi, that move was cancelled.  English is considered more "neutral," as it is in many other places, for example Israel/Palestine.

Many states in India were created specifically for language groups.  The constitution is written in English, and only after decades was a version in Hindi created, and all disagreements between the texts are to rely on the English version.

For the last week or two the Gujjar speaking population of Rajasthan have been rioting.  The Gujjar are agitating for "scheduled tribe" status.  According to one source
It sought to encompass the country's diverse tribal groups under a common banner in an effort to help address the disadvantages the tribes encountered and to integrate them into the mainstream of Indian society. Along with being geographically and socially isolated, the tribals have historically been politically underrepresented and their regions of residence economically underdeveloped. Scheduled tribe status under the Indian constitution means that seats are reserved for tribals in political forums such as the parliament, along with job reservations in the civil service and educational institutions.
Wikipedia says that Scheduled Tribe status helps a group be recognized as having long been oppressed by the Hindi majority.

India, as I said, has a long history of being very language conscious, and although I'm sure they've done worse, in this case, they seem to be acting fairly sensitively, having fired the Chief of Police for Rajasthan after 42 people have died in the violence.

Thanks go to Sunil Vyas for bringing this event to my attention.
This Blog Blocked By Morgan Stanley!

While I was there it wasn't.  After I left (only after I left?) some of my co-workers started checking out the site.

I had dinner with some of them last night, and one of them mentioned it might have something to do with the comment I received here which is the Morgan Stanley language for not letting its employees much about on the web.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Review of HBO's "Recount"

This made-for-cable movie SUCKED because I knew how it ended.

No discussion of Iran-Contra leader Adnan Khashoggi's connection to Teresa LePore was brought up.

Katherine Harris was played by an actress who looked too much better than she.

I still think we should call him "George Walker" and should put a (*) after his entry in any book which calls him the 43rd(*) President of the United States.  Someone else came up with the (*) idea.

The thesis of the movie, which I tend to agree with (having mostly watched the coverage, being between contracts in November and December of 2000) that Warren Christopher was lame and Katherine Harris is dumb.
Stuck on Buchanan

One of the points Buchanan makes about the horrible mistakes the British made in joining the French in the war on Hitler, was that Britain lost its Empire.  In fact, the subtitle of the book he wrote on the subject is "How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World"

Now, for starters, I don't know what world he's living on, but the West is definitely on top now, which means it was never lost to them.  Second, and this is far more important, this racist motherfucker is saying that he wants Britain to still be ruling India, to still rule a third of Africa.  GET PAT BUCHANAN, long known to harbor racist sentiments, OFF CNN!
Opportunity Presents Itself for Bush

First, WIIIAI has some awesome pictures of the knucklehead in the White House "restoring honor and dignity" to the White House, here and here.  I find these antics relatively unbelievable. 

Bush has a new opportunity with the American people.  More people than ever are potential new approvers of George Walker's job as President.  OK, I guess what I mean to say is that statistician Stuart Eugene Thiel of DePauw University's really quality Presidential popularity poll aggregator has Bush at 27.96%, his lowest rating yet.  Dr. Thiel also notes that "The man has been on the dark side of 50% approval for his entire second term" (emphasis in original).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Buchanan is Bat Shit Fucking Crazy, Get Him Off the Air!

I'm listening to Pat Buchanan's totally batshit crazy theory about WWII.  The problem, according to this complete lunatic, and this problem led to WWII, was that Churchill Britain had signed a treaty to protect Poland.  If the Allies had simply let Hilter and Stalin have Poland, the world would be so much better today!  That's clear to everyone.

Look, the real problem in America today is we have people who repeatedly say idiotic things, like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Wolf Blitzer, Sean Hannity, and then the corporations let them BACK on the air.  America will continue to be in the shitter until this is fixed.  Free politics is a feedback loop.  Americans learn things from the media.  Even if 25% of Americans get their news from somewhere other than the TV news, they are the minority, and can not swing an election.  Americans are mentally lazy.  Now, it is possible that Americans could all start reading everything they could on politics, and turn away from these TV and Radio idiots, but the idiots will be fired soon after. So, their presence is a lagging indicator of American political health, it is not a long lagging one.

UPDATE: I realize this reminds me a little of Chomsky's discussion of Milosevic.  He says that the ethnic cleansing didn't really get started until the war began.  He also points out, correctly, that the Western media was full of accounts of Serb attacks before the war, but basically ignored any violence against the Serbs that was going on.  Since Kristallnacht (9-10 Sep 1938) when 25-30 thousand Jews were sent to concentration camps, happened before the invasion of Poland (1 Sep 1939), it looks like Buchanan, as I said, is a batshit crazy loonybird. Apparently Herman Goring even said, soon after Kirstalnacht, "The Jewish problem will reach its solution if, in any time soon, we will be drawn into war beyond our border—then it is obvious that we will have to manage a final account with the Jews."
Bush Defines Success in Iraq and Afghanistan

His first item, or maybe the second, was that Iraq and Afghanistan have no "safe havens" for al-Qaeda.  Like the idiocy that got us into this war (Iraq has to prove it has no "weapons of mass destruction" (!never! abbreviated by the President)), this is a claim which can never be substantiated.  I'm not saying there is no negative assertion that can't be proved.  "There is no black hole in the center of the Earth" is something that can be proved (a black hole would imply a lot of gravity, which could be measured.  I'm saying this stupid criteria for success can never, ever be proved. 

So, by choosing dumb criteria for success, President Bush has guaranteed failure!  Of course, he'd done a lot to insure failure before now.
Sneaky Spanish for Americans

Sure, I'd say that to assimilate in America, a person needs to know English. And, all other things being equal, it is better for America to have an immigrant assimilate.  The only exception I have thought of would be that rare person with the germn of a timeless idea who will never learn English well enough to express it in that tongue.

But what about the reverse, Americans learning Spanish (and the languages of other immigrants)? If there were a large number of Anglos who could speak Spanish, there wouldn't be so many conversations in Spanish, for example in elevators, which the speakers think are private. 

I could probably learn Spanish fairly well.

Suppose a region has no great leaders.  Wouldn't the worst possible suggestion be to unify the region under one mediocre ruler?  Wouldn't smaller states with mediocre rulers by betters?  Safer for the rest of us, even?

An Injury and an Itinerary

A tendon is sorely hurt, a week after I stopped exercising it. Will probably take two more weeks before I can exercise it again. Hey, at least it hurts, and I have both arms. Owie!

So, someone recommended I attend the annual World History Association conference. Which, with a complete disregard for my finances, they are placing in London, rather than New York. Would cost around $3000.  What would that make me, a historian?  My idea has plenty to do with what is going on this very day, all around the world.  That's security studies, or, as I like to put it, currency (wink, current not historic).

In sadder news, I found myself de-friending two people on Facebook.  They were constantly posting sad or disgusting things to my profile page.  Sad as in, they won't grow up.  Disgusting as in X-rated photos of obese people.  I'm sure these two women send these meaningless drivel posts to _all_ their facebook "friends," but that just makes it worse.

It's sad because the same kind of thing that makes one popular or successful in politics is the kind of thing that ups the number of your facebook friends, and I don't have it.

I'm thinking of going to bartending school.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Post

In 1071, at the battle of Manzikert, the fate of the Byzantine empire was sealed.  Although in the short run, the defeat and capture of Byzantine Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes by the Seljuk Turks under Arp Arslan (=lion, like Aslan), meant only Seljuk domination of modern Armenia, it is often seen as the beginning of the end for the Byzantine Empire in Turkey.  Only after this point did Turks begin to live in Turkey, the high Anatolian Plateau reminding them of the great Asian steppes which were the ancestral homelands of the nomadic Turkic people.

I bring this up because it is Memorial Day, and because the fate of the Byzantines wasn't quite sealed by a simple military loss.  The Emperor had engaged Turkic troops, and the Petchenegs switched sides during the battle, to join their fellow Turkish speakers.  Was this decisive?  I have no reason to believe so.  But it does relate to Language and Conflict.
Let Islamism Fail!

The Soviet system had a chance to fail, not entirely on its own, but without much actual fighting.

So far, the Iranian Islamists can say "Despite how America has tried to stop us, we persevere!"  Meanwhile, if we dealt with them far more sensitively, and did not repeatedly call them a great threat, part of an axis of "evil," or, as the current President's choice for 2008 has said "Bomb. bomb. bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" (to the tune of Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys), the best the Iranians could say was "Our Islamist revolution is 30 years old, and all I have is this Lousy T-Shirt"

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The German Romantics

von Herder, Fichte and even Hegel have been called German Romantics.  Although Romanticism itself elevated the importance of emotion, specifically here we are dealing with the question of "what makes a nation," or, Romantic Nationalism.

Fichte, writing while Napoleon's Confederation of the Rhine still existed, wrote that language(!), race, culture, custom and religion were the cornerstones of a state.

Funny that a German living in the lands of a Corsican leading French armies, or someone with a grasp of history, would stress race. Three of Gibbon's series of five great Roman Emperors in "The Decline and Fall..." were not Italian but Spanish and Gaulish. The greatest Muslim dynasties often had Persian or Turkic leaders. For over 700 (was it 1000) years the Egyptians were ruled by Greek speakers. How about the Manchu or Mongol dynasties in China. Oooh, not to mention the whole racism thing implicit in the idea.

But what about religion?  Aren't you all free to change your religion tomorrow? I suspect, with very little preparation, one could pretend to be a whole host of religions that one is not, and even fool members of that denomination.  One can easily pretend to have customs that one does not.  As for culture, get back to me when you can define it. But could you pretend to speak a foreign language?

But on language, on the language question, I guess I fully agree with the German Romantics.  I do believe that emotion (our definitions undoubtedly are at variance here) have a lot to do with how things pan out, however much I wish people (including myself) were more reasonable.  For that, and other reasons including self-identification, I can be called a Romantic, but German? Heck, what does any (real or perceived) Romantic nature have to do with Linguistic Nationalism?

So, with at least one person in agreement with my principles (an Associate Professor, Serbian by birth, living in Lithuania), I hereby usher in my new age of Linguistic Nationalism.  I've only three principles. Linguistic borders, bilingualism for most, and translation (of great works). 

This is, essentially, a model of order, I even say the model of order for a multi-lingual world, and for those of my readers who may have read The Illuminatus! Trilogy in college, this makes me firmly either a shill of the Illuminatus, or one of them, but not a Discordian, those who worship Eris, the Goddess of Love, so why did I start by talking about Romantics?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Kinda Crazy Idea

What if the term of office for an elected official, like President, was determined by their margin of victory.  What if some of their powers weren't also so determined?

For example, if you win the Presidency by under 50%, we have an election again in a year, and, for example, you couldn't veto legislation passed by more than 60% of Congress?  If you win under 55%, the election is in two years. 

What's the advantage of giving squeakers the same exact benefits of those who are popular with the large super-majorities of the public?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Some Historical Literary Critique of Finnegan's Wake

"the most colossal leg pull in literature since Macpherson's Ossian" --Oliver Gogarty

"Nothing so far as I make out, nothing short of divine vision or a new cure for the clap can possibly be worth all the circumambient peripherization." --Ezra Pound

"My God, what a clumsy olla putrida James Joyce is! Nothing but old fags and cabbage-stumps of quotations from the Bible and the rest, stewed in the juice of deliberate journalistic dirty-mindedness -- what old and hard-worked staleness, masquerading as the all-new!" -- D.H. Lawrence

"[N]othing but a formless and dull mass of phony folklore, a cold pudding of a book, a persistent snore in the next room [...] and only the infrequent snatches of heavenly intonations redeem it from utter insipidity." -- Vladimir Nabokov

"[A] 600-page crossword clue whose answer is 'the'." -- Martin Amis

I think nothing greater in the English language (in the field of non-fiction) will ever be achieved unless Moving Pictures are banned.
It's Certainly Possible

The Clinton campaign made big noises after she won Pennsylvania (This post is can be filed under the "better late than never" tag). They said she'd raised 10 million dollars in 24 hours. 100,000 contributors, 80,000 of them new, with an average donation of about $100.

Let's say you are really rich, and you want to donate millions of dollars to a candidate.  FEC regulations prevent that.  But you are really rich, isn't there a way?  <looks around> sure there is, and I'd be surprised if all major campaigns don't do this.

They are called "unitemized deductions" and they are totally legal under FEC rules.  For starters, to enforce the campaign finance limitations, campaigns have to report their donations.  Um, except there is a huge loophole.  If you donate less than $200 in a single campaign cycle, the campaigns don't have to report your name.  So, in this age of computers, all a rich person needs to do is hand a million dollars to the candidate, and the candidate just reports to the FEC that it was all new donors and under $200 each, and so no further paperwork is required.  Yes, a compliant person in the person's finance committee is required, but the Finance Chairs of campaigns are often hired for their connections, rather than their skills.

I suspect the DNC, RNC, and all major campaigns receive donations this way.  Here is a snippet on the RNC.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I'm A Student of American History

If I were going to enter politics, I'd support a high tariff, to get Northerners on my side, and be pro-slavery for the Southern vote.

The White House is mine!
The Republicans Believe in Local Control

Except at the international level.

Yea, verily, most Democrats aren't that different.
CNN coverage of Myanmar Cyclone, allegedly 22,000 dead, President Bush Responds

The footage was nearly useless to me, it basically was "inside" one house. For all I really know, that house had been like that for years. If they had, instead, drove while filming out the window, on a road with house after house destroyed, I would have gotten some better sense of the scope.

The "journalist" said he had seen a lot of military convoys, saying, I'm not making this up, "Obviously the government is doing what it can to help."  Obviously? The Karen rebels live in this part of Burma, and have been in nearly non-stop fighting with the Burmese government for sixty years.  Wait! Who is that in the background of the one CNN shot?  Why, it is a member of the Burmese military, hanging around.  I'm sure it is just a coincidence.

President Bush decides to give Aung San Suu Kyi a Gold Medal today ("Great, something else to dust while under house arrest" she may have said in response). And then told Myanmar's government that they'd have to let military teams into Burma in order for us to help. "Look, buddy, you may be suffering and starving, but I'm not going to lift finger one to help without looking after my own interests." (The President, in translation).

An EMT technician, on the scene of an accident "Look, I'd like to help you, but first you are going to have to give me the keys to your house."
Imagine! Horror

Someone is trying to set up a helicopter service so that rich people can avoid Moscow's congested traffic system.  $500 a ride!

Imagine a "city" just for rich people, with no roads going in or out, to keep the riff-raff out the only access would be by air (thinking helicopter, but plane is fine, too).  What would they care if gas is $50/gallon?  It wouldn't keep them at home.

And, since it is inevitable that Masters of Earth who are incredibly unaware of the situations of everyone else are going to be high-handed monters, imagine the peasants, pouring over hills and through the woods, to burn down their houses, and unfortunately likely also to kill them.

During the Great Depression, rich people moved hours outside of NYC to avoid the poor. They moved "several hours" based on then existing transportation levels. Today's "several hours" could be more than 1000 miles away.


Monday, May 05, 2008

Language And Conflict

After getting a chance to present, in person, my theory to another person, I have made some changes to my, hopefully interesting, Language & Conflict website.

Feel free to use the website to make me as famous as you want.

Imagine a book entitled "The Collected Speeches of George Walker Bush"

Friday, May 02, 2008

C-SPAN Capital News has a bad headline writer

Capital News headline: "Pres. Bush: Ethanol Not Responsible for Increased Food Prices"

Story actually says "Bush acknowledged that ethanol has contributed to higher food prices, but insisted it was not the main reason."
The Last Couple Days

I went up to my alma mater, a tiny northeast college for artes liberales and spoke to the (then) Vice President, and now a full time Professor.

I found out something interesting. The Board of this college had its boardmeetings in the buiding where I used to work, which is wholly the property of my former firm.  Kinda convoluted, but the former President of this global behemoth of a company had a first wife, who is Chair of the Board of the college.  They were up near the top floor, while I was down on 5, shrug.

Anyway, I had a great time, and am now really, mind-bogglingly close to becoming famous (or infamous) for 100s of years.