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Total number of comments: 7 (since 2013-11-28 16:43:57)

Matt Kuhns

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  • Falsity of Nuclear Accusation against Iraq Was Known before Bush's Invasion
    • This is well worth posting a reminder of.

      It has unfortunately become part of the common mythology that "Bush lied us into a war with Iraq." This story ignores the culpability of everyone who chose to go along with him, as well as the fact that they were thereby going along with a BS case for war, as was plain to many (myself included) from the outset.

      To anyone who was awake and thinking, it was obvious that the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with preempting any kind of clear and present danger to Americans. It was just as obviously driven, instead, by decades-old Neocon schemes for American hegemony, combined with and happily exploiting a scared, frustrated citizenry that still wanted someone to "pay back" for the 9/11 attacks and had not been satisfied by beating up Afghanistan.

      That's what the Iraq War was all about, Charlie Brown, from the very beginning. Let's never let it slip completely down the memory hole.

  • "Argo" as Orientalism and why it Upsets Iranians
    • As long as we're being fair...

      (And I would be the last to argue that our country's prevailing attitude toward "the other" are even faintly thoughtful, or that Hollywood's net contribution encourages understanding)

      ... I think it's a little unfair to use the "comic book," in general, as the yardstick for simplification and dehumanization of opponents. "Comic book villains" are often remarkably three-dimensional characters, with motivations considerably more nuanced than were (apparently) the antagonists in the latest Academy Award-winning film. Not always, but surprisingly often.

  • Gun Murders vs. Terrorism by the Numbers
    • Personally, I tend to see the relationship between these two issues as more like "two threats that are both vastly more frightening to Americans than others which are largely taken for granted."

      More to the point, I have the impression that the particular type of gun murder that really upsets people--completely innocent and unsuspecting people at a school, theater, etc., being randomly attacked during a shooting rampage--is realistically the source of harm to so few people that it could be regarded as a rounding error. AND at the same time hugely difficult to take meaningful action to prevent, both because there is a hardened opposition willing and eager to "die in the last trench" to block anything that resembles gun control, and because realistically there are very few plausible ways to prevent the intersection of guns and the mentally ill in a large, open country with a few hundred millions of guns (and climbing) in circulation.

      Given limited resources, I'm just not sure that there aren't other issues where much more good can be accomplished.

      That said, I certainly support the goal of a disarmed society (e.g. Britain, Japan) in theory. And must allow that, strategically, there seems little inherent downside to gun control efforts at this point given that political "sorting" has probably advanced to the point where there are few votes left for Democrats, and particularly Obama, to lose among those for whom gun control is a deal-breaker. And likely zero chance of gaining votes from them, whatever they do.

  • Top Five Things we should be doing to avoid the end of the Earth instead of defaming the Mayans
    • Personally, I find Bill Haydon's diagnosis of Western civilization's ills (in John LeCarré's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy") to be dismally apt, 40 years on:

      "Greed and constipation." Political, cultural, economic, etc.

  • Let's also Remember the 176 children Killed by US Drones
    • And this cannot get even one percent of the TV airtime which was devoted in one day to talking heads blathering about the latest shooting. Our country's (for that matter, not just America's, as this applies to other English-language media too) news media professionals have a great deal to answer for.

      How do they justify it to themselves?

  • Avoiding the Nightmarish "Four Degree World" of 2060: We must Act Now (Giesen)
    • I confess I'm uncertain what the point of this article was.

      I'm in agreement with most of the points made, but that was true yesterday: I did not detect anything new in here. I'm not sure what would be new to anyone, at any rate to anyone who would read it and believe it.

      I've been paying fairly close attention to climate politics for most of my adult life, now, and I just don't perceive anything that's going to make an emissions-reduction strategy viable in the foreseeable future. I wish it were otherwise; I write letters to my representatives every year encouraging that they do more. But I don't see how they're going to. Mr. Giesen brushes close to the nature of this impossibility when he writes "If China and others do not agree to do that, the rest of the world must reduce more to compensate," but this is building castles in the air.

      Even if the Republican Party vanishes tomorrow, the United States is not going to agree to do anything which cedes economic advantage to China. Meanwhile, acknowledging that Chinese politics are rather more opaque to me, I have serious doubts that there are any circumstances at all in which China is going to reduce its own GHG production. And without either of these economies involved, no remotely realistic path to adequate carbon emissions reductions is possible.

      And this situation has long been calcified; I do not see any factor which is going to change it. Saying "it must change or else disaster," will not work, because people have been saying that the entire time and it hasn't worked.

      Bless Mr. Giesen, but I think it's time that we recognized that building the political will for an effective international program of carbon emissions reductions (sufficient to meet a timetable which gets more radical every year) is a dead end. It isn't going to happen. Which has very distressing implications, but as reasonable people we need to avoid falling into the trap of simply denying that things can be real because they are too distressing. That doesn't play into it. Time to start working through the five stages of grief so that we can move on to more productive conversations.

      What those are, precisely, I do not know. Adaptation, geoengineering, a Martian colony perhaps? Everything I can think of is rather far-fetched--but no more far-fetched than the idea that the governments of top polluting nations are going to completely overturn their firmly established policy of doing nothing whatsoever to contain carbon emissions, any time within a generation.

      I emphasize once more that I don't want to be right. But while I've seen many arguments that it will be awful unless I'm wrong, I've seen negligible evidence that I actually am wrong.

  • Romney's Five Wars
    • Yes, sadly, Romney and the GOP only have two serious criticisms of the Obama foreign policy: 1) It's Obama's (i.e., not theirs), and 2) They want more of it.

      Sad, both for what it says about how dismal the Obama admin has been on this issue, and for how the GOP has still managed to commit themselves to a noticeably worse plan.

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