36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

March 31, 2014

At least it’s a small “l”…

Filed under: Politics — Tony Demchak @ 4:40 am

I took a political test on the internet, for fun, to see if I’m still well to the right of Genghis Khan.

Here were my results.

You are a Liberal. 4 percent of the test participators are in the same category and 44 percent are more extremist than you.

I can’t really argue much with the graph above. It’s a graph, after all. I also think it’s a relatively fair assessment of my political beliefs. Yet I would still consider myself a conservative, on the whole. I think part of the reason I scored so “liberal” is because I purposely weighted my statements for religious freedom. (The test allows you to weight five of the statements.)

I’m definitely interested to see where Kevin ranks on this scale; I would venture he’ll end up to the right of me, but a lot depends on his weighting.

October 16, 2013

I think I need to take a shower now. Possibly in acid.

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness, Politics — Tony Demchak @ 9:24 am

As is well known, my personal politics are to the right of Genghis Khan. So, when a friend of mine recommend I try this quiz, the result was horrifying.

I’m a centrist. (If you take the quiz, I count as a pickup populist.)

Now, obviously, this is incredibly shallow (as all such quizzes are), but I offer a few explanations for why it claims I’ve drifted to the left.

1. I’m an atheist. I’ve written about this before. A decent sized chunk of the GOP platform these days directly or indirectly involves religion.

2. I’m honestly totally okay with gay marriage. Again, my posting history proves this. This is another red-button (hah!) issue with the GOP these days. I am firmly apathetic on most social issues. I do not believe gay marriage will lead to the decay of western civilization — that’s what cell phones are for.

3. I really think there ought to be background checks when purchasing firearms. While Kevin will undoubtedly counter with something like “do you also want them for kitchen knives, you pinko commie?”, I’m not advocating repealing the 2nd Amendment. I just want psychopaths or criminals to be killing people with swords and not guns. Because that would be awesome.

In all seriousness, it is physically and psychologically more difficult for human beings to stab/slice/dismember one another than it is to shoot them. Think of the current debates around drone warfare, as an example. Therefore, unless you’re relatively sane and/or haven’t been caught at a crime yet, I say stick to close quarters combat. It works better for everyone that way.

Also, I cannot emphasize this enough: swords need to make a comeback.

4. There are only two real options in the USA — Republican or Democrat. There was no checkbox for “enlightened despotism.” If Frederick the Great showed up today and said, “look, I’ll make America even more awesome, only we have to get rid of democracy”, I would immediately sign up.

October 7, 2013

Why not shut down the shutdowners?

Filed under: Politics, Specific Stupidity — Tony Demchak @ 10:24 am

A friend posted this article on Facebook. Provided the fundamental point of the article is true (and it does pass the smell test, at least to me), then here is my question:

Why is John Boehner letting this minority of Republicans cripple his party?

Regardless of why the shutdown was implemented, it’s a PR nightmare for the GOP. The Democrats will probably get some blowback, too, but they’ve successfully maneuvered themselves into the position of victims. I’m not talking about reality here, just the perception of reality.

So, the obvious solution (at least to me) is to kick the recalcitrant few out of the Republican Party. Force them to run as independents or, maybe, try to form a third party.

You will doubtless say, “but Tony, won’t that split the Republican vote? The GOP would be committing suicide in 2014!”

My response: “They committed suicide the moment they even obliquely endorsed something as incredibly stupid as the government shutdown. This is acknowledging that fact and trying to recover in time for 2016.”

John Boehner would probably lose any credibility he has left. Again, why is this bad?

I await Kevin’s response (and maybe other readers too!).

August 24, 2013

Latest enemy: Congress?

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness, Politics — Tony Demchak @ 9:49 am

I got this article on Facebook. Sequestration — instead of a new, reasonably compact budget — is the worst of all possible worlds. Military hardware is nice, but I don’t care how many M-16s and tanks you have if nobody is shooting them/driving them. Why is the GOP supporting this, which is usually not something they would?

Because of the mid-term elections. The purpose of being elected Congress in the twenty-first century is to stay in Congress. Full stop. Genuine reform, in my estimation, has to begin with one thing:

Term limits for Congressmen. We’ll say three for Reps and two for Sens (so it’s a nice 12 years for each).

Don’t get me wrong — I would rather we do nothing than to rush to judgment. However, sequestration directly affects one of the most fundamental purposes of government: keeping us safe. I’m not saying the budget doesn’t need cutbacks — I’m saying they shouldn’t be unilaterally opposed for the sake of making sure GOPs win a bunch of seats in a year and the Presidency in 2016.

June 26, 2013

Chechens are helping the Syrians in their Civil War

Filed under: History, Politics — Tony Demchak @ 3:13 pm

Hat tip to RFERL. Before you question the evaluation of the Chechens as the most effective Islamic insurgents, consider this: Russia first began war with them in 1994, under Yeltsin, and Russia actually borders on Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan, which makes it much easier to ferry troops, supplies, and equipment. According to the article, there are possibly five different groups:

1. Chechen veterans, perhaps bankrolled by Saudi Arabia or Qatar.

2. Chechens from the Georgian minority.

3. Chechens from a post 1994 diaspora.

4. Chechens from the Chechen Republic (i.e. Russian citizens), who were either studying in universities or had other reasons to join the struggle.

All of these groups are fighting with the rebels. A fifth group, although unconfirmed, may be fighting on the side of Assad for reasons which are currently unclear.

 

June 8, 2013

Oh, Austriaball!

Filed under: Only in Russia, Politics — Tony Demchak @ 3:56 am

The UN is getting increasingly nervous about events in the Golan Heights. For those unaware, the increasingly violent and vicious Syrian Civil War has spilled into neighboring Israel, and a UN peacekeeping force finds itself increasingly low on troops. The savior of the region’s security is an unlikely one, although sadly, they’ve been turned down. (Perhaps Austriaball had the right idea?)

In all seriousness, only the Philippines and India have troops in the area, slightly over half of the authorized 1000 troops. The UN force is to patrol the ceasefire region between Israel and Syria. If the Philippines pulls out (as some speculate they might), there would only be 194 troops left; not enough to deter any serious expansion of the Syrian Civil War into Israel.

As of yet, the US is not engaged within Syria, but at least we’re asking really nicely for Syria and Israel to behave themselves. That counts for something, right?

 

March 24, 2013

Food for thought: Should the US go multi-party?

Filed under: History, Politics — Tony Demchak @ 6:05 pm

Partisanship is, for better or worse, the rule of the day in the United States of America. Polarization is getting worse, not better, as the reaction from both the GOP and the Dems is to dig in their heels, fight the other side tooth and nail, and wait until the other side blinks.

The reason the USA has this problem is, at its heart, structural. The winner takes all system (or first past the post) means that there can be only one winner in any election, and this rarely produces more than two parties. Three parties can be temporarily sustainable, but rarely for more than one electoral cycle. The UK, as I’m sure Kevin will immediately bring up, is different because there were no formal term limits in the House of Commons until 2011. With the ability to react more quickly to changing circumstances, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see one of the three parties fade away. The UK is also an exception because the differences between the parties are fundamental, not issue-based, as they are in the US.

So, what could we do? Well, without an incredibly compelling candidate, a third party will not succeed in the US under the present system. I think, perhaps as an experiment, we ought to see what might happen if we went to proportional representation. I’d imagine we’d see a formal split in the GOP between Tea Party, Libertarian (assuming a difference between the two), and more traditional Conservatives. For the Democrats, I can foresee a center-left faction, perhaps a genuine socialist party, and something between the two, an Interventionist party if you will. So why is this a good thing?

Competition. The American system favors stability and, as of late, stagnation on both sides of the aisle. Each side chooses to double down on their current strategy, to the detriment of the country.

Anyway, that’s my thought on the matter, and I’d like to see how readers (i.e. Kevin) respond.

 

November 10, 2012

American history and social issues

Filed under: Politics — Tony Demchak @ 3:16 pm

As you may or may not have heard, Barack Obama was reelected on Tuesday. I was reading this article on the Economist’s website and have to bring something up.

A couple of days ago, I wrote something about Kevin Youkilis about being right vs. being useful. The Economist chalks up Romney’s loss to his inability to pick up key demographics. I find that tremendously unhelpful. Instead, I find this sentence much more important: “For Republicans, that means talking about the social and religious issues that are important to the base.”

Let’s face facts. This is the exact strategy that the GOP has tried the last two elections: firing up the base, then coming up with an unsatisfactory compromise candidate when the base isn’t enough. Here’s radical thinking: ignore the base.

When I look at this election, I see one major thing: gay marriage helped win Obama the day. The smart thing for the Republicans to do would be to pull a Disraeli: take a popular liberal initiative (like the Great Reform Bill of 1832) and put it forward yourselves. Ultimately, and I mean no disrespect to anybody reading this blog, this country will not succeed or fail because gay people can or cannot get married. It just doesn’t matter.

Yes, a Republican proposing a gay marriage bill/constitutional amendment (I feel the latter will be necessary) might piss off the religious right. So what? Are they going to vote Democrat? Call their bluff. The religious right has entirely too much political power as it is, and it’s been hijacking the GOP since 2000. I’d like to see that change.

March 5, 2012

The “winner” is… Vladimir Putin!

Filed under: Only in Russia, Politics — Tony Demchak @ 2:06 pm

Vladimir Putin is once again President of the Russian Federation, with a startling 60% of the vote.

Zyuganov, the Communist candidate, came in second. However, in Moscow itself, according to RFE/RL, Prokhorov came in second with a solid 20% of the vote (to Putin’s 47%). Prokhorov has announced he will form his own party and will not accept any government post.

That strikes me as very interesting; Prokhorov probably didn’t realize how effective his campaign would be, even with no real platform. If he gets serious, in 2018, he may end up in a much better position to take the Presidency, if he can successfully mobilize a political machine behind him.

Voter fraud was again widely reported. It’s hard to act too shocked.

February 9, 2012

And you think OUR democracy has problems…

Filed under: Only in Russia, Politics — Tony Demchak @ 3:42 pm

For the first time, some election workers in Russia have actually come out and admitted that numbers were falsified in the recent Duma (parliamentary) elections.

It looks like they use, primarily, three techniques: bribe officials to change results, bonuses for completing elections more quickly, and “carousel voting”, in which you bus a bunch of people around to vote at multiple places.

Perhaps the most troubling question is this: is Putin cheating only now, or has he always been cheating and he’s just now getting caught? My answer would be that his first election was legitimate, maybe even his second. He’s a genuinely popular guy for most Russians. But it’s hard to prove anything. As partisan as our politics have often become, at least the FEC does a pretty good job, most of the time.

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