Friday, November 25, 2011

Video: Immortal Technique @ OWS

 The underground legend/activist speaks his mind regarding the OWS



Video: Lowkey 'Terrorist'


Video: GOP Foreign Policy Debate



Monday, November 14, 2011

Prediction 1: Obama Will Win Election 2012


Despite less than encouraging poll numbers, a discontented base, and a shot economy, Barack Obama, probably by a close margin, will win election 2012.

WHY?

While you can rightly argue whether Barack Obama has done good job as the president of the United States, but even Reince Priebus, head of the RNC, recognizes Obama’s unmatchable talent for political fundraising[1]. In election 2008, Obama broke records in political fundraising by raising $744 million, which meant he was able to outspend his rival John McCain, whose funds were limited due to him accepting public funds[2]. This made all the difference as Obama was able to outspend McCain at a crucial juncture in the election with Obama spending $136 million while McCain spent $26 million in the same period[3]. While campaign funds it aren’t the only factor to consider in winning an election it definitely hands a major advantage to the candidate who can raise more funds than his competitors. 

It allows a candidate to reach ad markets his rivals can’t and even allows the given candidate the ability to be a real threat in states considered to be sewn up by his/her rivals. This advantage belongs to Obama’s campaign in the 2012 election as he has raised more funds than mitt Romney, the republican’s top fundraiser, by a three to one margin[4].Obama is already using his advantage in the knowledge that his appeal, in comparison to  election 2008, has waned. The Obama campaign plans to be competitive across the board, allowing him to fight effectively in swing states and states that usually voted republican, states which previous democrat candidates couldn’t because of a lack of funds[5]

This means that Obama avoids the democratic strategy of putting “all their marbles on a couple of states”[6]. its also a key reason why the Obama campaign “are opening offices, airing TV ads and building up campaign machinery in(red state territory such as) the upper South, in Rust Belt Midwestern states and across the Southwest”[7]. The money advantage carries over into the parties as the DNC has raised and spent more money than the RNC which found itself bargaining with the republican presidential candidates to help tackle it’s $21 million debt[8]. This allows the DNC to back Obama as he attempts to pass his needed and wanted jobs bill by launching attack ads that promote parts of Obama’s jobs bill while blaming Republicans for slowing down its passing through the senate in states considered being key in the election[9]

Money aside, many suggest that how Obama does in  Ohio could decide whether he will have second term or will go down in history as a one term president. Poor numbers in the polls has Commentators openly wandering aloud about whether Obama’s ‘coalition’ African-Americans, Latinos, young people, and women can seal victory for him in 2012 as they did in 2oo8[10]. but recent polling suggests that despite the tangible dislike of his presidency, he still trumps his republican rivals. A poll taken by Quinnipiac University regarding voters in Ohio, a key swing state that sealed George bush reelection in 2004, has Obama four points ahead of republican front runner mitt Romney despite their discontent about his administration with 51% dissatisfied with the ‘handlings’ of his ‘duties in the white house’ and 49% of Ohio voters indicating that Obama ‘don’t deserve a second term in office’[11] .In sum, Presiedent Obama will have second term due his money advantage and despite the palpable dislike of his presidency, voters will vote for Obama because he represents a better choice to the republican alternative.


[1] M. A. Memoli, 2011, RNC chairman says Obama is a great fundraiser, bad president, http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/13/news/la-pn-rnc-obama-funds-20110713
[2] A. Matsui, 2008, Obama campaign fundraising totals nearer $750 million, new records show, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/vote2008/reportersblog/2008/12/obama_campaign_fundraising_tot.html
[3] Ibid
[4] E. Carmi et al, 2011, the 2012 money race: compare the candidates, http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/campaign-finance
[5] P. Nicholas, 2011, Obama Strategic edge: cash to campaign everywhere, http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/07/nation/la-na-obama-states-strategy-20111107
[6] Ibid
[7] Ibid
[8] Associated Press,2011, RNC may sponsor debates in exchange for help on debt, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/us/politics/03debates.html
[11] P.Steinhauser, 2011, Poll: Obama Advantage in Crucial battleground state?, http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/26/poll-obama-advantage-in-crucial-battleground-state/

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

note to the reader

Dear reader,

here at the carnage report are implementing changes regarding the blog's appearance and the nature and structure of the content as the carnage report will continue to provide commentary on the serious and ridiculous in world politics as well as some new features such predictions and in depth essays on the issues that matter.

As part of the changes at carnage report, opinions and videos will be provided on a daily basis and prediction and essays will be released every week avoiding the relatively ad hoc nature of posting content since the carnage report inception

the carnage report hopes you like the changes

thank you for reading

the carnage report

Monday, October 31, 2011

lowkey brill!

bill maher on occupy wallstreet

cyberwarfare: war just got an IP address

Britain: where common sense didn't prevail

"the same constitution which gives the commons a power to check the king by withholding the supplies, gives afterwards the king a power to check the commons, by empowering him to reject their other bills; it again supposes that the king is wiser than those whom it has already supposed to be wiser than him. A mere absurdity". (Paine, common sense)

Thomas Paine, scribe of common sense, one of the most, if not, the most scathing critique of hereditary rule and all the ugly justifications that come with it, must be dizzy from all the rolling he has done in his grave when met with the news of Prince 'drats!, still a prince at 62' Charles having veto rights over certain legislation deemed to conflict with his interests.

In the two years between 2007 and 2009, ministers consulted with the prince over legislation within policy areas  "coroners (?!, this must be a typo), economic development and construction, marine and coastal access, housing and regeneration, energy and planning".

This has major implications as Prince Charles, being a royal of course, has many interests that effect not only those in his constituency but the wider public what with his pet projects concerning the envioroment among others and his property holdings that runs into the hundreds of millions in the year past earning the prince the measly, paltry, and let not forget downright unfair income of 18 million .

News like this make the average republican go red with rage, take to their blog, favorite/most scathing (usually one and the same) Tom Paine quotes at ready, and blow off steam and rightly so as  politicians, as if they weren't already subject to bend to the will of the powerful, have to consider whether given legislation should be considered at all as it affects a man who would be in line to rule divine (oh it rhymes!) if it wasn't for that little squabble over who rules that took place in the 17th century.

When one man has a big say whether given legislation can enter parliament never mind amend it based on its ability to affect his interests and the ear of any minister of his choosing just because mummy dearest just happened to be Queen Elizabeth II a.k.a 'the lady on the money' is a spit in the already phlegmy face of British democracy

In sum this not real surprise given that the monarchy, to quote paine ' in a constitutional sense, contribute nothing towards the freedom of the state'. 

    




              

Thursday, October 27, 2011

no finn to stand on



PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), an organization that actively works in favor for animal rights, has effectively cheapened the constitutional laws made to protect humans from the horrors of slavery by filing a lawsuit against SeaWorld

PETA'S lawsuit against SeaWorld centers around freeing five orcas named Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Katsatka, Ulises into an 'suitable habitat' (presumably into the open sea) using the 13th amendment (yeah, the one outlawing slavery) as the basis of their case. this case has been critiqued for being 'frivolous' and 'deeply offensive' given that the 13th amendment is reserved for humans and demeans the pain and suffering endured leading up to the ratification of the law in 1865.

The law suit, though well intentioned, is ridiculous as in discussing whether the whales should taken out of 'bondage' it eggs on a debate about the nationality of whales, whether they can be enslaved and what is a suitable habitat for a whale (I would have thought it was water, Seaworld has plenty).

The law suit seems to come across as a publicity stunt from a advocacy group which as a penchant for the wetting, staining and pieing (is that a word?) of any public figure who the gall to wear anything of animal descent or sees hunting as nothing of man's original sin against the animal kingdom. There is no way lawyers arguing for the release of the whales can win the case in their minds never mind in court.

This case has (quite effectively) brought up the issue of animal rights back into the news cycle which gives PETA the argument which goes along the lines as 'if such a statue existed suits like these wouldn't happen in the first place'.However it's another skinned feather in the cap for an organization with famous friends but powerful enemies 
  

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Viva La Red Ink!!

 Slavoj Zizek Speaks To Occupy Wall Street Protestors.


a very british resignation




Liam Fox, now former defence secretary, resigned from his position amidst a wave of media attention scrutinising the nature of his working  relationship with Adam Werrity, a close friend and best man at his wedding.  Concerns about their working relationship raised flags behind closed doors in government and in the media as Werrity's role as adviser to fox  despite him not being on the government's payroll and his presence at meetings between Fox and foreign dignitaries  . This scrutiny was the straw that broke the camel's back as reports in the media revealed details not only of  Werrity's past involvement in the defence industry but him receiving donations from players within it.

This story for many reasons is not unusual for conservatives as friends of conservative politicans seem to be career kryptonite.Even the Prime Minister still has some mud to wipe off his armani suit after the News of the World scandal with his hiring of former NOTW editor Andy Coulson, who under questioning from a parliamentary committe revealed he was prepared to break the law as long as he stayed within it, his ultra close association with Rebekah brooks, who lives just down the road  from the Prime Minister, and his attendance to parties held by her.

The conservative party do scandal better than it's competitors not only because it is still, despite recent attempts to play it down, a party of the rich, and by default, powerful. it still represents the interests of elites run by elites, funded by a large margin by elites and it's scandals are about elites. this not to say that conservatives are only supported by elites, after all, you cant win an election with 1 percent of adults of  voting age.

This scandal is only a scandal because Werrity honorable in the sense he gamed the system without taking  the system's money because straight-shooters like Werrity like to live on teat of industry not the state's, because , of course, it wouldn't be right. In sum, what should be heeded from this whole affair is... erm.... politicians should hire those low down dirty crooks who work for corporations on the teat of the state rather than who cares PLC rather than people like Werrity who set a shining example we all should follow    



    

who are you foolin


The young turks cover the iran  'terror plot' that reads like a hollywood script trapped in development hell


Monday, September 5, 2011

no more easy fights

with the arab spring, the london riots and the less covered israeli summer, a clear message has been sent to governments and corporate leaders alike, in the information age, there is no silent suffering.

Political and corporate leaders have for decades picked easy fights against certain groups in society they were certain to win whether it was cuts public services such as healthcare, education and benefits, or the wholesale outsourcing of  what were, until the dying embers of the 20th century and 21st century, thought to be under the purview of the state handed over to the private sector.

Politicians have been extolling the virtues of the market in comically stark contrast of the life sapping quality of state bureaucracy while implementing policies that were business friendly to say the least. This generosity often  lead to the cuts,  privatization, or the outright defunding of state services that benefit those who suffer silently in society, those groups in almost all cases being members of working and middle class, students or young people in general and the elderly.

Any action taken to either punish or stop abuses of corporate power are headline issues in the media, providing high visibility for corporate plight, these attempt are also met by heavy lobbying of relevant politicians and threat of to government warning of corporate flight to friendlier centres of capital generation.

However, armed with strong intention and a twitter account, these groups have managed get issues heard and more importantly, change the course of history as well as well held perceptions of these groups. the arab spiring has gotten rid the insulting and borderline racist perception that the  Middle East will always be run by dictator because there is either no demand for democracy or there dictatorial rule is an inherent trait in arab dominant states.

In Egypt the use of social networking has brought down a dictator now standing trail on corruption charges who led the country for the last 30 years backed by the United States, forced to change their stance and notably their with regard to certain Middle East states.

In Britain, the government has been forced to recognize long standing issues that  are rarely covered in the media such police engagement with black males and the growing number of young people who are unemployed. in israel the riots are not over foreign policy but over economic strains effecting the working and middle class. These protests have been the largest in the nations history and are well supported by the general public with over 80% in support of them with even sections of the right wing backing the protest which accounts for the such a high margin.

In conclusion,  tracking news stories across the world a pattern emerges, from students strikes in chile to the toppling of well backed strongmen, people who have suffered silently in the last few decades are now actively fighting for change as government across the globe are forced  to consider long desired reforms, concede defeat or at least realize the silent suffering have one found their voice and now their walking shoes.                    


  

Friday, June 24, 2011

Supreme Court's take on the Death Penalty

the queen's great legacy

zizek shares his views on 'brotherhood and unity'

Ed milliband asserts authority, no really!



Ed Milliband, with his geeky aura and eyes reminiscent of woody the woodpecker, suggests comic gold-mine than potential prime minister today asserted control over the labour party forwarding plans allowing him to take more control over who he can appoint to shadow cabinet positions, currently elected by labour MPs.This smells of payback after labour MPs voted in the labour leadership election voted unanimously for his older, more prime-ministerial looking brother David 'why are you clapping?' Milliband. Milliband also plans to abolish the quota that stipulates at least six members of his shadow cabinet should be women while assuring he will keep to his leadership election promise to increase the appointment of women in his cabinet.


Milliband plans, at least in intention, are to put an end to labour politicians  worrying about their popularity within their own party and focus on holding the coalition government, with a covenant made of baby shite, to the fire.This also, more to the point, gives the labour leader  the power to mould the party in his political image without having deal with the all the same characters he would have to deal with that helped define the Blair/Brown era, of which he was also part of.

But this mostly allows him to pull  the trapdoor on anybody who challenges him without having to worry much about his popularity which save the unions, geeks , and cartoon lovers everywhere, should keep him up at night. Milliband's plans dont sound like such a bad idea considering  both Blair and Brown constantly having to deal with attempts, from their own party, to follow the plot-line of  Shakespeare's' Julius caesar every time their poll numbers went south. in sum, Ed milliband has not found his balls, that search continues, but the one of the keys to survival when labour leader, find ways to kill dissent, the bain of both Blair and Brown's spells as Prime Minister.      

trouble in limbo



Egypt, currently governed by a military rule by committee supplanted by point scoring opposing interest from parties who helped bring out the revolution and those who see their chance to seize power now that mr 'PHD in stubborness'(mubarak) has gone. wrangling between interests over the distribution of political power has been rightly argued among interest in the search for consensus, through such a task is difficult to achieve between those who believe in freedom and democracy those who believe in religious order and those with the guns to shut everybody up. however what's intruguinig is not the attempt to seize power by the various actors involved but the length group have gone to attenuate concerns over their plans for the Egypt's future. 

The muslim brotherhood new party 'freedom and justice' has limited it's ambitions in the upcoming election promising to run for 50 seats in parliament, and the non-fielding of a candidate for president amid concerns over their ideals and history of violence. what has become clear in the revolution is the actual passive nature of the judicial system of egypt with little in the way of a voice at a point in egypt troubled history is in need of it. this lack of voice has led to calls for the military to protect civil institution and rights which is like asking  the coyote not to chase the roadrunner after 40 days of lent. 


The egyptian military, by far the most powerful institution in the country, should not be in the business of forming of a new social contract entailing the distribution of political power as being the group with the guns they are the uninvited/invited guest to the party nobody can get rid of. all these factors contribute to the fact that the most unwanted job in egypt is not crowd control but the presidency as the president will have to contend with a country with an economy that was in the toilet is now somewhere in the nile and powerful political forces with little ground to encourage compromise. It is easy to imagine the president from day one as walking a tightrope, on the other side is survival, or at least as far as where his state stolen funds will take him when the going gets tough, the audience watch with suspense some calling for him to fall, some, reluctantly, encouraging balance, and the military simultaneously encouraging him across while having a pair of scissors in one hand and the other threatening to shake the the rope.   
           

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Pornography Principle




The media , the television news media in particular, have a fetish over what Bill Maher termed 'disaster porn' or the well done but over-analyzed news stories that cover death and destruction in every corner in the earth that it can be found. the coverage of these stories are necessary and are in the mandate of modern news media to inform the public, however in this this pursuit of not only the disaster or the various tales of human misery paraded to audiences in a much cooler political climate in the search for viewership, reveals the pornography principle that underlies coverage of such disaster. 

The pornography principle described so far is not meant to allude to the sexual context which the word 'pornography' immediately signifies but to the point at the heart of pornography itself, that being, sex (in the word 'pornography' original context with regard to its meaning), on a scale, (or quality) most will not experience.In pornography, the physical and psychological barriers that may impede on average person's sex life are absent as the participants placed in front of the viewer enjoy sex at a scale most people will never come across, thus what is left is the fantasy, which serves the purpose of stimulation to the viewer. 


Apply the pornography principle to news media with regard to coverage of disasters, the principles holds the same only the context (political, economic, ecological disaster) and consequence (human misery) changes with the stimulus intent on invoking shock or fear. In the 24 hour news cycle this principle is exacerbated with a echo chamber effect caused by the same news constantly referred to on every news channel regardless of location and viewership. 

The viewer is then over saturated with powerful images  which becomes devoid of the context of the news story, thus the consequence of this process ensures news no longer informs but provides spectacle, presenting images of disaster and human misery on a scale the viewer will never encounter. With this spectacle the telos of news reporting (informing the public) becomes lost in the parading of spectacle with stimulation provided by it, though negative, is as captivating as the images found in the pornographic in it's proper context. In sum, the pornography principle in  news media can be pernicious so long as the viewer is aware of has the means to derive context of the spectacle presented to him or her.                    

Brilliant Short on Consent

 From Brendan McCooney

A view on UK Foreign Policy

Classic clip from Yes Prime Minister

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Living in the End Times:

Brilliant Documentary by Marxist Philosopher Slavoj Zizek

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Death of Bin Laden: Why the 10 year Wait?


The death of Osama Bin laden, source of triumph for the Obama administration and a source of US suspicion and embarrassment of the pakistani intelligence community, has brought an end to a manhunt that has spanned a decade and a half. Bin Laden was found in a compound worth $1 million in a relatively affluent area in Pakistan situated next to the country's 'equivalent 'Westpoint or Sandhurst'. The discovery then liquidation of Bin Laden, while celebrated by the US government officials and the general public at large, has brought up more questions than answers, two of which proved to be prominent, firstly, how can Bin Laden go undetected  in compound near to a military academy not to mention the various clues that should have led to at least a minor growth of suspicion with respect to million dollar property with colombian drug dealer like security levels without internet access or any another form of communication and secondly, why has it taken so long to find, capture, and kill Osama Bin Laden given that Bin Laden's broke his usual pattern of evasion in 2005, despite it being well known his whereabouts were in pakistan. A plausible answer to these questions lies in a change in priorities as shown in the video below.
         


Bush's attitude in the video towards the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden seems to provide ample reason why finding Bin Laden required such a wait and can explain why the CIA shut down Alec Station in 2006, a unit dedicated well before Bin Laden became a 'household name' to killing or capturing him with focus shifted to foiling plots from 'Al-Qaeda inspired groups' rather than actually addressing key 'Organisations and Individuals'. This follows the trend experienced by other units in pursuits of Bin Laden such as Delta Force were reassigned from their hunt for Bin Laden to Al-Zarqawi, with the escalation of the iraq war between 2005-06. 

It can be argued that this change in tact and target could be due to considerable growth in the knowledge of Al-Qaeda an organization acknowledging the decentralized structure and the increased occurrence of  terrorist attacks independent of any central command. In sum, the death of Bin Laden signals neither the beginning or end with respect to the war on terror but a major scalp on the battlefield from which the US can draw hope, however the 'scalp in question happens to be a scalp that should not have taken ten years to claim.                 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

deconstructing popular myths

A real account of capitalism of without bells and whistles

-

the irony of domino theory


The pro-democracy or anti-backed by the west-dictatorial strongmen movement that has spread across the middle east region in recent weeks has proven the old, cold war influenced idea of domino theory, which posits the emergence of social change or politico-social norms in one country in a region will eventually spread to fellow states in its region. This logic was applied brutally throughout the cold war as the social change that sent a shudder down the spine of many americans at the time was communism, with states accepting then applying the political processes that the Kremlin favored, deemed unacceptable among the political class. 

This lead to a number of  leaders and strongmen who were brought to power or backed by the US in the hope of staving the rapid growth of communism. This policy, Realpolitik at its most cynical, involved many deaths at the hands of those leaders in the effort to silence all dissent or challenge against the regime, however this policy, slowly in some places and quickly in others, began to unravel as these dictators found themselves facing broad mass movements within their countries demand their dismissal and/or major political reforms. In the middle east region this meant mostly the substitution of one tyranny for another, the Iranian Islamic revolution serves as a key case of this instance. 

fast forward to the present day, the world bears witness to scenes in the middle east many political observers never thought would be so widespread in the region as  observed longevity of autocratic rule in the region suggested that such political arrangement were to be the norm in the middle east, with some political commentators and academics arguing that such rule was what citizens in the region preferred.The last few has forever crushed such arguments and resurrected a cold war relic as a key idea to explain the current developments in middle east as the spread of movements calling for reform or dismissal . 

In libya, this clash of wills between the people and those in power has become bloody, however, such blood was not spilled in vain as anti-Gaddafi forces have managed to claim half the country through an unshakable will for change (how that will look like is unclear due to the complex political set up in Libya) and defections of the army in the east, refusing to use force against fellow citizens. In sum politics has a funny way disproving new ideas and vindicating old ones proving all political are small morsels of political reality, some obviously less than others 

             

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Flawed Logic of 'Positive Thinking'

Paranoia Politics


For the lionshare of the last 30 years or so there has been a systematic suspicion of leaders, especially when they take a stance with regard to what they think is right to do in the interest of the public. politicians in the modern age have found hard to lead there countries as their policies before even put forward in legislation are seriously questioned and torn apart. in this age the politician that captured the imaginations of the public articulating a future just little bit better than the present state of affairs would find himself mocked constantly by commentators and ignored by the public.

Politics has always been the ideal realm of the pragmatist however the greatest changes in politics have been instigated by idealist prepared to see things in simplistic moral terms. politicians hardly ever take con the public especially when such course of action is required. Barack Obama presidency serves up plenty of examples of why politics in this age of paranoia with regard to those in power, is comically ineffective. when Barack Obama proposed reform to healthcare to the public,a section of which who dont think he is qualified  to be president based on his fake birth certificate, the response of ihis opposition party and the public was one of unmitigated paranoia.  Republicans were shouting from the rooftops about 'death panels' where government officials will make life and death decisions by committee and a confused but numerous mob holding posters of a joker-faced Obama shouting at the top of their lungs of Obama's credentials as the next Hitler.

Obama was forced to compromise on many of the key tenets of his original proposal in order to pass the bill in congress with nobody, including his own party, satisfied. This paranoia comes from many sources however in analyzing this phenomena two factors stand out, firstly, the lack of a clear definition over what is the end of politics, which has always been damaging to politics, and secondly, the corrupt acts of politicians in the first place. The lack of a clear of definition of what politics is leads to key question over the legitimacy of the politician's powerful position with regards to fate of the citizen and the nation. inequalities in the wider society do not help such matters as many of the politicians in the modern age emanate  from privileged or middle class backgrounds, a clear example being those who hold the most powerful position in British politics are all publically educated, some of which came into office as millionaires.

With this knowledge, commentators in the media and  members of the public at large are subject to the logic how can a politician be serving my interests if my interests are not his? This is why calls of elitism, many of them justified, is prevalent in the culture political criticism, ever questioning the efficacy of politicians, placing a critical eye on issues that never seem to attenuate or disappear with the political process  at the centre many criticisms of what's in the way of change. The lack of defintion of what politics is in an age where very few hold onto the ideologies of the past (or at least without a razor sharp critical eye) which shaped definitions of politics, the meaning and the telos of politics has come to become irrelevant with it despite this being very important. 

However, what Politicians cannot argue is that the skepticism shown by the media and the wider public towards them is not justified. The paranoia of media commentators and the public with regard to Politicans has come in a age when the folly of politicians makes good for front page headlines , uber-critical documentaries, dramas and comedies readily consumed by the public with both actors becoming distrustful of politicians. This is exacerbated by the enormous democratization of information once controlled by the state now open for scrutiny by a public looking for mistakes and contradictions between the facts and political narrative. The widely perceived cosy relationship between politicians and other centers of power, particularly members of the financial world is supported by well researched exposes of political corruption via the allocation of campaigns funds for political favors and the actions of politicians and members of the financial world during the (still ongoing) financial crisis. 

The expenses scandal in Britain is the ultimate example of politicians vindicating the well earned distrust of the public as politicians help deepen the already well anchored belief  that politician are nothing but well dressed 'crooks and thieves'. The fallout of the expenses continues as members of parliament have come under investigation, some facing time in prison. The social contract between the public and politicians has never been weaker as politicians have very few answers to the concerns of the public and if they do they have to earn the trust of an public unwilling to give it. In sum, the politics of paranoia will not weaken but get stronger in an age where politicians have no hiding place with their faults clear for all to see, analyzed by commentators with more avenues for attack than ever and a public defined by their distrust for anyone in authority.          

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Not Yet!


Pro democracy supporters in liberation square in Cairo are celebrating the departure of  Mubarak, Egypt's leader for the last three decades with an 'doctorate in stubbornness'. on the 9th of february, Mubarak frustrated and angered many more as he proved the recurring truism (especially on these pages) that nationalism is the last retreat for the politicians fresh out of ideas with his speech which was expected to be his announcement of his resignation. However, the following day Mubarak left his post as president of egypt devolving all his powers to his vice president, former ally and former head of the secret police, Omar Suleiman. 

While the departure of Hosni Mubarak is cause for celebration, a closer appraisal of the situation in Egypt may prove a cause for concern. Suleiman has already cited concerns over the possibility of a coup, if this is so, the military is the only player organized and admired by the average Egyptians to pull it off. However, it can be argued that such fears are unnecessary as Suleiman, a man with a strong military past, appears to be the army's main candidate if the military was ever to back a political candidate in any democratic Egyptian election in the future. 

He was tipped by many to be the successor to the Mubarak regime following the post-Nasser trend of Egyptian presidents with strong military backgrounds due to his close relationship with Mubarak , which, surprisingly, has not hurt him as much as expected. The military, throughout the events of the last few weeks seemed to be waiting to see how this would play out before they made their move, purposely not attacking the pro-democracy protesters , though not intervening when the the protesters were attacked by pro-Mubarak forces briefly returning Egypt to a state of nature with both sides retreating to the biblical weaponry of stones and hopeful aim.

The military remains the most powerful and well financed institution in Egypt with just under a half a million members and maintains  favor with the Egyptian public. If there's to a renegotiation of the social contract military has a very powerful bargaining position in its drafting. The Pro-democracy protestors must get a seat at the bargaining table if there is to be a complete revolution and not cosmetic changes to be slowly stripped away through the use trojan horse legislation. In sum, Egypt transformation not valid and functioning democracy is only at it's early stages and the success of it relies on the pro-democratic movement to make it's self, as it has for the last few weeks, a force to be reckoned with as the struggle for democracy has only begun.    

            

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stanhope view on Nationalism

A Brilliant critique by Doug Stanhope on the faulty logic of National Egoism

Libs in Blue Mist

"Dont complain about your boss, be your own boss"
(Nick Clegg, quoted in The Guardian, 10/02/11)

Nick was quoted in the Guardian using the same type of logic you would find in the speeches of a conservative republican rally which goes to show who really won in the deal to form the coalition Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Since the deal in may 2010 was made the Lib Dems have withstood a barrage of criticism, the first of which is the undemocratic position the Lib Dems found themselves due to the election results having to between the conservatives and the Labour Party. Political commentators in the media were talking of the Lib Dems being 'kingmakers' while there was one choice they might have benefitted more from than the deal they actually , let the conservatives become a minority government which would ensured another election.

However the deal the Liberals and the Conservatives did agree to had commentators immediately questioning it as the Lib Dems managed to secure a handful of jobs in government, the one of note belonging to Lib Dems' party leader Nick Clegg as deputy prime minister. The jobs filled by the Lib Dems were largely departments jobs or jobs where the Lib Dems would have to publicly defend the unpopular policies of the conservatives such as  Nick Clegg as deputy prime minister openly having to defend conservative spending cuts in the Commons  while David Cameron was away due to foreign commitments or Vince Cable as Business secretary having to defend conservatives favorable standing with regards to the business community.  It was not tool long before commentators were making jokes about the Lib Dems once being the 'kingmakers' now were merely 'teamakers'. 

Now the 'teamaker' quip seems to be holding as a political fact as the Lib Dems have ensured the passage of conservative policies and due to the positions held, mostly those that wield responsibility than power, have to defend them. During the Student Protest of late 2010, the Lib Dems were the aim of much of the criticism posed by the students as many of them cited their vote for the Lib Dems and their anger over the public betrayal by the Liberal democrats of their 13 years stance on abolishing tuition fees.


The Lib Dems, save a party wide change in position, face a long time in the political wilderness with student base unable to trust them and older voters outright rebelling against front-benchers public defense of conservative trademark policies, the Lib Dems look set to lose heavily in the next local elections. However, if voters vote strategically, the Lib Dems can gain seats as the Lib Dems will have more reason to question and vote against the proposed policies of the Conservatives. However this is a very unlikely occurrence as the Conservatives are seen as being accomplices in the Conservatives sure and steady program of cuts. In sum, unless the Lib Dems can hold the Conservatives to some form of account in their unpopular cuts program the Lib Dems face political future on the back-burner of British politics.                  

Hans Rosling Presenting the 'Joy of Stats'

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ken Robinson on schools and creativity

A fantastic talk on the creativity of individuals and the factors that stifle it



multiculturalism a cause of social division, really?


David Cameron's speech regarding multiculturalism addresses the concern over the lack of common identity among British citizens with respect to values. Cameron targets the flaws of multiculturalism in relation to the overt focus on the toleration of the cultural and personal identity of individuals belonging to minority groups to the detriment of national identity and thus national 'belonging'. however in his attempt to point out the flaws of multiculturalism, Cameron exposes the flaws in his own argument.  

Cameron's focus on certain groups values trumping those of the nation fails to understand that other cultural values may be held deeper than those of the host nation and thus multiculturalism serves as a method in which can recognize these values and also establish commitments to the value of the wider community. this will never be achieved by the use of 'muscular liberalism' advocated by cameron which substitutes the complicated but steady toleration of others associated with multiculturalism with the onset of programs to foster a version of national egoism where one must assume the values and the common identity provided by the nation at the expense of personal identity.

With toleration being a key tenet of liberalism the advocation of Cameron brand of 'muscular liberalism' may in terms of policy appear to be bullying by the state with regard to certain group of citizens to accept values they do not naturally hold yet pose no threat to the state. Cameron's mention of individuals having to learn the language, while a valid point will also in terms of policy result in political bullying which might link to the immigration debate, the most divisive debate in British political discourse.Cameron's argument merely represents the nationalist arguments of 'social cohesion' through 'common identity' fostered through the recognition of common values such human rights freedom and democracy but what cameron does not recognize that the values of the state are meaningless if the personal identities of citizens are not in turn deemed with the same esteem. 

While all citizens benefit from the high esteem in which human rights, freedom  and democracy are held in British political culture, the expense for recognition of minority groups seems to be a abandonment of  already existing loyalties, a sacrifice many are not prepared to make for the sake of 'social cohesion'. conversely, cameron attacking such deeply held loyalties only serves to intensify the individuals bond with his or hers personal identity, feeling there identity to be under threat with the state enforcing it's own form of identity without any mediation. 

What seems to be missing is not certain groups of citizens willing negation or lack of recognition of the cornerstones of British political culture, but the state's attitude towards the personal identity of citizens, particularly if the state perceives certain identities to pose a threat to the political community as a whole. The solution, or at least a start, is the mediation of British identity with individuals already-existing identities through dialogue that escape the 'tit for tat' clashes between the political parties. This process has never really taken place in Britain despite various discussions about it taking course with the need for it to happen has not until the september 11 and 7/7 attacks been deemed as necessary. 

However, the 'like it or lump it' rhetoric (with regard to british identity and values) espoused  by conservative commentators and politicians serves as no substitute for reasoned dialogue between relevant groups on the fate the multicultural patchwork of Britain. in sum, David Cameron speech did make some valid points with respect to recognition and representation of minority groups but his solution for the flaws of multiculturalism exacerbate, and may even worsen the problems as personal identities are not akin to political identities due to political identities socially constructed nature.                                    




Monday, February 7, 2011

Jimmy Carr's Take on the Week's news


Bill Maher on Tea Party

Bill Maher remarks on the Tea Party's views in relation to the Founding Fathers (of the U.S.)

Wikileaks: An Argument Against

Wikileaks, founded by Julian Assange, has for the last two years provided plenty of headlines and embarrassing as well as tragic videos (see previous blog) and documents, revealing the true nature and opinions of key players and events in international politics.While it can argued that this serves as a good on the behalf of the global public with leaders and state officials held to account with new facts, but does it help states craft a better stable world with the needed sphere of the informal where state officials can freely express their opinion under constant threat? 

The informal meeting between state leaders and other state officials has been the basis of discussion for war and peace for the majority of the modern age where leaders were to undertake decision outside the formal arena of state summits and conferences.The informal sphere in politics is important as formal settings negotiations lines are clearly drawn across state interests and the negotiation becomes a competition over who can concede the least to the other. in Informal discussion, politicians can grasp the subjective preferences of his opposite number in a setting where leaders are not under pressure, overly-conscious of the prospect leaks and fearful of making concessions that would be deemed unpopular to the wider public. 

The democratization of information through expanding the means in which to access it should be seen as a good but the consequences of this good means that leaders,  in the glare of the public, cannot effectively broker deals . The secrecy of  negotiations or talks between state officials  facilitates rather hinder discussion as leaders are held to account by different mechanisms, some by the popular will, some by the politburo. secrecy can buy a leader time to reason secretly with his fellow negotiators and plan for problems ahead rather than have one's intentions splattered all over the front pages before anything is agreed.

Wikileaks relies on the information of others as Wikileaks is essentially a publishing tool for whistleblowers but what wikileaks cannot do, because of its main function as a facilitator, is disseminate motive. In sum Wikileaks does open the informal sphere this can have a negative effect on the state of current affairs as the lack of secrecy means planning on the behalf state leaders and officials could lead to more global instability which can consequences for all, that being, citizens.  

Wikileaks: An Argument For




For the past two years Wikileaks has been constant thorn in the side of states revealing sensitive information regarding  various states foreign policy from secret videos depicting cold blooded murder of innocents to embarrassing documents revealing the dichotomy between what is said and what is thought by state leaders and other key players in foreign policy.  If Wikileaks has done anything, it has made the job of state leaders, and more directly the job of the diplomat, more torturous than it would be it if it didnt exist. Wikileaks has exceeded where 'old media' has largely failed, it has actually posed a challenge by making it difficult for those in power to create narratives in order to frame debate.

In the past, states had a iron grip over the flow of information the citizens would be exposed to, this would be useful in war time as the control of media sources, coupled with patriotic nature of the public at large, would ensure very few leaks and very few embarrassing revelations regarding state policy. However after world war two and more remarkably during the vietnam war, this control of the flow of information in relation to state policy dramatically weakened with famous leaks exposing the systematic violence of american troops and the long term trajectory of state policy in regional centers, making pariahs, and later heroes, of Daniel Ellsberg and Seymour Hersh. 

Vietnam was the first war where the state could not control the flow of information regarding the public and the wider world as state policy was not only a question of politics but of culture. this context ensured that the vietnam war was the first war where citizens across the globe protested the actions of states in war as media reports and visuals of  american troops and the vietnamese bloodied and deceased  reaching the mass audience shattered illusions associated with World War Two of the 'good war', bringing home the bloody nature of war. this can explain the trend through the preceding years of the increase in the lack of trust of state in regards to foreign and domestic policy confirmed by numerous scandals, the watergate scandal being most prominent. 

through the 80's and 90's, changes in how information is received and thus how it is accessed within two decades democratized the dissemination of information forever with release of the personal computer and the discovery of the internet for mass consumption. Now in our current age those in power have watch every utterance of opinion on state policy as the reverence once given to state officials no longer exist as the politics of future in which politicians proposed a picture of what society could be as the modern politician is much more practical, and as a by-product, that more untrustworthy. Wikileaks , represents the spirit that still resides from vietnam in relation to states and their foreign policy. 

The narratives offered by state officials, with the onset of 'transparency' programs offered by governments via the internet, can be countered  with facts and figures that reveals it as false. Misconceptions of the public regarding the state of international politics can be corrected by a simple click of a mouse, the information revealed can lead to movements that advocate change in the current state of affairs, in short, Wikileaks offer the citizen, on a global scale, the means in which to hold power to account.            

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Why Politics Can Suck



Politics can and does suck because politics is quite simply about power which makes inevitable the realization of Christopher hill's observation of international politics (this applies to national politics, may be even more so) being a marketplace, full of players of ranging significance, where 'power is the main currency in which these player deal'. assuming this outlook on international politics is true, this can explain all politics as those lacking in currency of politics in the postmodern global economy (workers, trade unions, students, the middle class, particularly the lower middle class, small business owners) are subject to those who have a high currency (Bankers, Industrialists, Multinational corporations).

In this context conflict is inevitable as a broad based movement, forged in solidarity (excuse my marx!) becomes the only weapon of those with no political currency.History is abound with instances of people who are of the category of the former forced to forge a movement in order to affect change realizing the only object that can gain attention of those in power is power its self. this problematic undercuts many of conflicts in postmodern politics as power in politics may be manicured through the rhetoric of some of the great liberal philosophers, the actions of politicians with respect to their fellow citizens seem to match the thesis posited by Hill. 

This can explain the crisis taking place in the middle east as citizens in those countries have abided to a social contract unfavorable to the will of the citizen in the interests of power. if this is true then there are many other venues of political conflict as the global financial crisis still remains a issue despite reports of recovery. The Tunisian and Egyptian riots were inspired not entirely by the authoritarian rule of their leaders but the the inflated food prices in the global market.The marketplace , in light of the social contract leaving no place for political legitimacy via popular will, dictatorships can only remain viable if it averts not only political but economic crisis as fluctuations in GDP in this political process on many occasions is more destabilizing than those in the political arena.

In this situation the legitimacy of the rulers lies not so much on his or hers appeal but on his performance as leader, the truism observing that 'with great power come great responsibility' has never been so real for the modern dictator. politics sucks because if power is its main currency it constantly escapes its meaning or the telos (purpose, end) and thus makes it hard to define in the process. this can be reflected by the widespread disenchantment with politics with politicians taking the same positions on many key issues on the political agenda and much similarity between politicians on those that dont.

The reaction of leaders to the political apathy in many states, regardless of politico-cultural custom falls somewhere between leaders either trying to present themselves as 'one of us' when none of 'us' could care less if they were, or present themselves using techniques long mastered by celebrities and public relations consultants, often to achieve 'one of us' status. However this is ridiculous as the public can see right through such attempts to 'connect' providing much material for the satirist, and much consternation for the political commentator which an idea of how politics should be.Another ploy used by political leaders, and probably the most embarrassing of them all, is the nationalist 'were all in this together' call for unity especially used in economic crises. read any speech from any political leader, particularly those in west, and the 'were all in this together' line of reasoning becomes explicit. this line has had gainful employment by Prime Minister David Cameron and the arch rhetorician of national telos of his generation, Barack Obama.

However for reasons stated earlier in this piece such rhetoric appears to many as what it is 'the last retreat of a politician who has run out of ideas'. if this is true then the 'brain drain' runs deep in the political class of many states as a retreat to nationalism in globally interconnected age is not only silly, but socially as well as politically pernicious.Much can be made of a retreat of political leaders to nationalist sentiments as it provides a context , mainly in, especially in the British political discourse, the ridiculously touchy debate of the rate of migration of immigrants, where groups can openly advocate a cutdown (hard to do when a considerable number of immigrants to Britian are from EU countries), active deportation (improbable, and most importantly, impossible) or assimilation (pointless). David Cameron's regarding the assimilation of the muslim community to 'british values' was not only misguided and a downright political faux pas, but pointless as this 'call to unity' only 'unifies' his rapidly multiplying political opponents in light of his  policies regarding government spending and the radical reform of the NHS. In sum, politics sucks because it has no meaning  beyond the current and the retreat to spent ideas and identities only amplifies this state of affairs.  
                              

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Christopher Hitchens

good interview on various topics



New Government? a View on Cameron Speech to TED


What is obvious about David Cameron's speech in his articulation of the 'next age of government' is the apparent need for the modernization of government and greater transparency with the state loosening it long held grip on information with regards to citizens. Cameron's talk of the need of the state to devolve power to citizens which may be favored by many advocates of the freedom of information, but Cameron plans in realizing his ambitions of devolving power from state to citizens is a cause for concern for many. commentators in the media and the labour party see his grand ideas regarding the state of the power relationship between state and citizens are seen as cover for this ideological ambitions of rolling back the state with key services such as health and education are partially or wholly privatized. most of the fears held by political opponents of Cameron's ambitions have been confirmed with the recent release of the comprehensive spending review laden with cuts to government spending in various areas health education and defence. on speaking about accountability in his TED speech, Cameron talked of public services being held to account by the use of technology open to the citizens however a simple use of reason should reveal that while transparency can help keep the government to account, what the government can actually do to solve problems are hampered by the use of market forces to fund or run public services. what comprises the 'Big Society' articulated Cameron and his supporters is not so much the empowerment of the citizen but the continuing trend of governments ceding responsibilities in it's purview, mostly to the market and private individuals. with this process, the idea of service with regard to people who use them is replaced by,  in the context of public services , an often pernicious  market logic predicated on costs and efficiency where price takes precedence over need. this is not to argue against the use of market logic as the laws of the market are useful in allocating resources such as Barbie and Ken playhouses but not deciding who gets a triple bypass.In sum David Cameron articulation of the 'new age of government' is really the continuation of trend in which government cede power to market forces and private individuals thereby creating the contradiction of making this transparent to it's victims (majority of citizens) in reduce the accountability of the state to the citizen.                      

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