What We Talk About When We Talk About Politics

I feel like people are turned off to the idea of “politics”, because it makes them think of red vs. blue arguments, polling percentages, talking heads on television using dronespeak to discuss policy, and a certain nitpicky squabbling that’s become the de facto standard for how political discourse is conducted in America. But I think they wouldn’t be turned off if we remembered we were supposed to be exchanging ideas on how we should govern ourselves, and our foundations and philosophies which is what we should actually be doing. It seems like in America we don’t even get into those things when it comes to governance– how we do things, why we do things, if there’s a better way to do things, what our goals are, etc. If you don’t have a solid foundation of principles, how can you be sure anything you are doing is the right thing?

I feel like the media has successfully shifted the nature of the dialogue from “How can we best govern ourselves?” to “What’s wrong with those people governing us?” A subtle difference, maybe, but a significant one.

Wait a minute, I think I almost got this

I was researching Catharine Macaulay for my 18th century British Literature class when I came across this.

“Macaulay argues that it was the failure to guard against the growth of inequalities in wealth that led to the downfall of the Roman republics.

Had the Agrarian been ever fixed on a proper balance, it must have prevented that extreme disproportion in the circumstances of her citizens, which gave such weight of power to the aristocratical party, that it enabled them to subvert the fundamental principles of the government, and introduce those innovations which ended in anarchy. Anarchy produced its natural effect, viz. absolute monarchy (Macaulay 1767, 35).”

“Failure to guard against the growth of inequalities in wealth”… Hmm… Why does that sound familiar?

HSBC pisses me off

Matt Taibbi has the story.

This is why we’re fucked. Because giant banks and the wealthy elite are allowed to continue to amass wealth by any means necessary, no matter how illegal, unethical, or immoral, while they turn the rest of the world into wage slaves that live in fear of stepping out of line and pissing off the military-police force that exists to intimidate them. They use that wealth to buy off politicians, who in turn do everything they can to make sure these people are allowed to continue to vacuum wealth out of the hands of ordinary people though fraud, criminal activity, and byzantine financial transactions made deliberately impossible to understand so they can tell you a nickel is a dollar and sell it for a dollar. Make a joke about a bomb in an airport, get whisked away. Launder money for someone who is building bombs to use in airports, get told that, hey, you should probably stop, or the fourth or fifth time we catch you we might really do something.

You want a revolution? Start right here. Blow up HSBC headquarters. Line these fuckers up against a wall. Don’t vote for a politician who has a track record of rolling over for big banks. Vote for people who promise to break up these criminal enterprises, who are not willing to let these people destroy the world economy just so they can invent and hoard wealth for themselves. And while we’re at it, let’s end the War on Drugs so that these murderous enterprises they finance can be put out of business. Honestly, at this point I’m convinced the War on Drugs mostly exists as an excuse to militarize police and to drive up profit margins for fuckheads like the ones at HSBC.

Honestly, we might be too late. My entire lifetime has seen the capitalist system that worked so well to generate wealth in this country deliberately broken by radicals who are trying to concentrate that wealth into their small cabal at the expense of everyone else in America, if not the world. We need to repair this shit and we need to stop the trend of wealth concentration in the hands of a very few.

NFL Divisional Preview

Following last week’s wild card preview (which I forgot to post at the time), I’ve recorded another preview video. My man “Needle” is a former offensive lineman and has high school and college coaching experience, so he’s able to break down film and analyze matchups that way. I tend to have a more statistics and commentary-based approach.

It’s close to two hours in length; as this is only the second one of these we’ve done, it’s a work in progress as we try to tighten up the production. If you listened to last week’s, I can tell you that this one has fewer digressions and irrelevant material. (I still have some problems with mic level, though, which is tough to gauge when you’re recording live and can’t hear the production.)

Anyway, your divisional preview: http://www.twitch.tv/needle77/b/355864723

Firing Day: Following up my previous speculation

As the NFL regular season ended yesterday, 20 teams began their offseason Monday morning. With so many franchises in disarray, I expected a large number of franchises to make moves regarding their coaching staffs and front office personnel. I outlined some changes I thought teams should make in my previous post, so let’s take a look at what’s happened today, how that correlates with what I suggested, and what this means for each team’s future.

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Which NFL teams need to do some housecleaning this offseason

I meant to start writing this earlier in the season, once it became clear that certain franchises were on a path of complete disaster, rotting through and through. But with two weeks left in the season and it having become quite clear who’s a contender, who’s got reason to be optimistic, and who just stinks, here is my list of the teams that need to make serious offseason changes and where and why:

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Something old, something new, something… drawn: My favorite comedies of the fall season

The fall television is overflowing with comedy. Despite the delay of some of the best shows on until the spring, either out of standard scheduling (Archer) or network maneuverings (Community), a reasonably fruitful crop of new shows, combined with the continued blossoming of relatively young ones and the continued quality of now-veteran series, means the fall schedule is still loaded with watchable half-hour comedies. Continue reading

I should probably be more secure about stuff like this

But I can’t help but notice my friends tally on Facebook has been slowly trending downward lately, which means people are either closing their accounts or unfriending me. And I naturally wonder: Who were they? And why did they do it? Did I do something?

In fact, I don’t think it’s a matter of security: It’s a totally natural thing for a social creature who is introspective to ask.  I find it important to think about how my actions affect others. I find it important to consider if my actions are getting the results I want.

I won’t necessarily change. It’s decently likely that I did nothing particular at all. If I offended someone, did I do so because I was careless in my speech or because they disagreed with my ideas? If it’s the latter, I won’t worry about it. As long as I’m living by my values and principles– which include being respectful of others and being willing to speak up for what I believe in– I won’t worry about it.

But that self-examination is always necessary to make sure that’s the case. Until recently I’d been ill and not thinking about it so much.

Links of the Day, Election-Rigging Edition

Harper’s with an article on election-rigging, with some historical tidbits, some examples of how dangerously insecure our electronic voting machines are, as well as some examples of highly unusual results in the electronic voting era:

Symbolically speaking, this era was inaugurated by Chuck Hagel, an unknown millionaire who ran for one of Nebraska’s U.S. Senate seats in 1996. Initially Hagel trailed the popular Democratic governor, Ben Nelson, who had been elected in a landslide two years earlier. Three days before the election, however, a poll conducted by the Omaha World-Herald showed a dead heat, with 47 percent of respondents favoring each candidate. David Moore, who was then managing editor of the Gallup Poll, told the paper, “We can’t predict the outcome.”

Hagel’s victory in the general election, invariably referred to as an “upset,” handed the seat to the G.O.P. for the first time in eighteen years. Hagel trounced Nelson by fifteen points. Even for those who had factored in the governor’s deteriorating numbers and a last-minute barrage of negative ads, this divergence from pre-election polling was enough to raise eyebrows across the nation.

Few Americans knew that until shortly before the election, Hagel had been chairman of the company whose computerized voting machines would soon count his own votes: Election Systems & Software (then called American Information Systems). Hagel stepped down from his post just two weeks before announcing his candidacy. Yet he retained millions of dollars in stock in the McCarthy Group, which owned ES&S. And Michael McCarthy, the parent company’s founder, was Hagel’s campaign treasurer.

A Popular Science bit about just how easy it is to hack an electronic voting machine today.

This Youtube video comes in today from someone who claims he tried to vote for Barack Obama, but the machine kept selecting Mitt Romney instead. UPDATE: Per MSNBC, the offending voting machine has been removed.