politics

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Coddled.

[Greg] Lukianoff and [Jonathan] Haidt go out of their way to reassure us: “Neither of us has ever voted for a Republican for Congress or the presidency.” Like Mark Lilla, Pinker and Francis Fukuyama, who have all condemned identity politics in recent books, they are careful to distinguish themselves from the unwashed masses – those who also hate identity politics and supposedly brought us Donald Trump. In fact, the data shows that it was precisely the better-off people in poor places, perhaps not so unlike these famous professors in the struggling academy, who elected Trump; but never mind. I believe that these pundits, like the white suburban Dad in the horror film Get Out, would have voted for Barack Obama a third time.

Moira Weigel on liberal elites.

From a review of Lukianoff and Haidt’s execrable book and a look at the rightwards trend of white, mostly male, liberals more broadly but, even more relevantly, that last sentence is such a sick fucking burn.

Incidentally, as an Australian, it is no mystery whatsoever to me that self-proclaimed liberals always seem to end up in bed with the far right whenever they’re even remotely challenged on anything. Pretty much the only mystery is how the hell American liberals apparently managed to hide themselves for so long…

2019-03-26T08:42:27+11:0017th September, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|

uk wut u doin brah

What is being decided here is not just about Brexit. It is about the biggest constitutional question you can ask in any country: Who holds legitimate political power? Is it the people, or Parliament, or the government?

For centuries, there was a settled answer. Parliament held the power by virtue of votes from the people. The Brexit referendum provided the government with a mechanism to sidestep that arrangement and portray itself as the voice of the people independently from Parliament. The events of the next few weeks will show which of those visions is victorious. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Ian Dunt explains Brexit in two paragraphs.

Incidentally, if you don’t know the difference between, in particular, “Parliament”1 and “the government”, and why selecting one or the other as the embodied will of the people makes so much difference in a democracy… then you can probably thank half a century of right-wing populist demagoguery and intentional attempts to undermine public understanding of and participation in the democratic process, honestly.

  1. Americans, you may substitute “Congress” for “Parliament” here. []
2019-09-16T07:53:56+11:0016th September, 2019|Tags: brexit, politics|

I know you planned it…

News Limited editors did not argue any of these points during our meeting, but by the end of the discussion it was clear that none of these facts was convincing for them. News Limited’s position regarding the NBN seemed to be one of principle. Never mind that the private sector would never build an NBN, or that the current market structure was flawed, or that government had a successful history of fixed-line infrastructure building. The view from News Limited’s side of the table was that the government just shouldn’t be building this sort of public infrastructure.

News Limited was not alone in its position. One of the most frequent comments I heard during the dozens of public speeches and presentations that I gave on the NBN was “Why are you building this? No commercial company would undertake this project. The returns are too low and the risks are too high.” That was precisely the reason the government was doing it, I would reply – because no purely commercial entity would undertake a project like the NBN.

Michael Quigley on infrastructure.

Quigley is, of course, the first and former head of NBN Co, the government-owned corporation established to deploy high-speed broadband throughout Australia. Particularly, as pointed out above, to regional and rural areas under-served by existing private sector telcos because, not to put too fine a point on it, there’s not enough profit in rolling out broadband internet across the desert.

To say that the NBN was sabotaged by right-wing and corporate interests would be putting it mildly. Again, as mentioned in the quote, News Limited (i.e. Rupert “Fox News” Murdoch’s media empire) was one of the prime saboteurs, aided by the existing commercial telcos, basically because, again, having to compete against nationalized infrastructure would cut into profits.

Tl;dr, what happened to the NBN—what was allowed to happen to the NBN—was nothing less than wholesale theft against the Australian public for the enrichment of a handful of millionaire CEOs and their boot-licking cronies.

2019-03-05T13:21:20+11:0031st August, 2019|Tags: australia, politics, tech|

Ill of the dead.

If David Koch is to be cremated, I suggest we dispense with all the fuss and bother and just drop his corpse from a helicopter into the fires now consuming the Amazon rainforest. Let him be one with his legacy.

Charles P. Pierce on legacies.

2019-08-28T09:06:38+11:0028th August, 2019|Tags: environment, politics, usa|

Orange Skull.

I didn’t think of myself as especially political compared with some of my fellow travellers, but when asked to kill a relatively anodyne reference to an Orange Skull I realised that perhaps it had been irresponsible to be playful about the dire existential threat we now live with, and I withdrew my introduction.

International fascism again looms large … and the dislocations that have followed the global economic meltdown of 2008 helped bring us to a point where the planet itself seems likely to melt down […] Armageddon seems somehow plausible and we’re all turned into helpless children scared of forces grander than we can imagine, looking for respite and answers in superheroes flying across screens in our chapel of dreams.

Art Spiegelman (re)learns that everything is political.

Timely reminder that the CEO of Marvel donates substantial sums of money to Trump, as well as functions as a political advisor, and is actively involved in censoring any criticism Marvel employees attempt to make about the regime in the name of being “apolitical”.

(Also that last line probably could do with a whole essay of unpacking all on its own because… wow. What a massive, potentially unintentional, neg against the superhero genre. I mean… I’m into it. But also… wow.)

2019-08-19T08:20:57+11:0019th August, 2019|Tags: comics, politics, pop culture, usa|

Thoughts and prayers.

Once there was a nation suffering the plague of gun violence. “Help us,” the nation prayed, “save us from the violence.” And God said, “You shall be provided with the legislative tools to ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and other wartime instruments of death.” And lo, the nation said, “I’d rather not.” And so nothing came to pass.

“Help us,” the nation prayed a year or so later, “save us from the violence.” And God said, “You shall be provided with the best universities and research institutions in the world, so that you may study the topic of gun violence and arrive at solutions to this public health crisis yourselves.” And lo, the nation said, “Let’s make funding studies of gun violence illegal.” And so nothing came to pass.

“Help us,” the nation prayed a few months later, “save us from the violence.” And God said, “You shall be provided with the best mental health resources in the world, and you shall be provided with wealth beyond compare so that all who are struggling with homicidal or suicidal thoughts will have access to care.” And lo, the nation said, “Sounds socialist to me. Let’s make Medicaid harder to access, not easier. And, oh yeah, our leaders are going to spread hate and xenophobia to give people a reason to commit acts of violence.” And so nothing came to pass.

“Help us,” the nation prayed a few weeks later, “save us from the violence.” And God said, “If you are scared that the Supreme Court will overturn sensible gun laws, if you are scared of the lobbying power of the NRA, then you shall be provided with a way to create Constitutional Amendments overturning the Second Amendment and making it harder for lobbying groups to influence elections.” And lo, the nation said, “A Constitutional Amendment? Sounds kinda complicated. It can’t be done except for all those times it’s been done. Nope.” And so nothing came to pass.

“Help us,” the nation prayed a few days later, “save us from the violence.” And God said, “It seems like many of these shooters are white men. I think you should raise boys differently and look closely at what whiteness does to someone’s psychology.” And lo, the nation said, “How dare you even say that.”

And so God — that’s me — I’m sitting up here going, What the hell is wrong with you?

God (via prophet Chas Gillespie) answers your thoughts and prayers.

2019-08-07T08:22:00+11:007th August, 2019|Tags: culture, cw: mass shooting, politics, usa|

What we see here is evidence of the only real innovation 8chan has brought to global terrorism: the gamification of mass violence. We see this not just in the references to “high scores”, but in the very way the Christchurch shooting was carried out. Brenton Tarrant livestreamed his massacre from a helmet cam in a way that made the shooting look almost exactly like a First Person Shooter video game. This was a conscious choice, as was his decision to pick a sound-track for the spree that would entertain and inspire his viewers.

Robert Evans on thoughts and prayers.

EtA: Fredrick Brennan, i.e. 8chan’s founder (but not current owner), calls for the site’s closure. The most interesting this from the article, though, is the quote from Cloudflare’s executive Matthew Prince’s statement that Cloudflare won’t revoke 8chan’s customer status because, If we kicked 8chan off our network […] law enforcement would have less visibility into what’s going on. Which is, like. Uh. Way to admit to the world in The New York Times that your company effectively acts as a giant spying apparatus for law enforcement, I guess. (Full disclosure: I also use Cloudflare for most of my sites.)

EtAx2: Apparently Cloudflare has now revoked services and the text quoted above has been removed from the NYT article. I didn’t grab a cap of it but… it was there, I swear!

EtAx3: Cloudflare’s statement:

In the two years since the Daily Stormer what we have done to try and solve the Internet’s deeper problem is engage with law enforcement and civil society organizations to try and find solutions. Among other things, that resulted in us cooperating around monitoring potential hate sites on our network and notifying law enforcement when there was content that contained an indication of potential violence. We will continue to work within the legal process to share information when we can to hopefully prevent horrific acts of violence. We believe this is our responsibility and, given Cloudflare’s scale and reach, we are hopeful we will continue to make progress toward solving the deeper problem.

So-oo-oo… yeah. Cloudflare is spying on the traffic on its network. Whether you think this is justified and/or acceptable is another discussion but… they’re definitely doing it.

2019-08-05T15:48:06+11:005th August, 2019|Tags: culture, cw: mass shooting, politics, privacy, tech|

Borderwall.

[T]oday, relatively few land borders exist to physically fend off a neighboring power, and countries even cooperate to police the borders they share. Modern borders exist to control something else: the movement of people. They control us.

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian on walls.

It’s amazing how freedom of movement seems to increase exponentially in relation to wealth…

2019-02-11T20:15:58+11:004th August, 2019|Tags: politics|

Wealth.

As [Jason] Hickel also points out about the earlier parts of the graph, and as I have pointed out previously, most of “people are making more money” comes from “people were forced off their subsistence farms so that they had to use money to buy what they got from their own labor before.”

[…]

People miss the essential point: it’s not how much money you have. It’s whether or not you have enough food, shelter, clothes and so on. It’s whether you have what you need and some of what you want.

Ian Welsh on money.

2019-02-08T09:01:28+11:0028th July, 2019|Tags: economics, politics|