25 November 2010

Uncommon Commentary #141

The cover of the latest issue of Newsweek calls Emperor Nerobama "God of All Things" and depicts him with extra arms, in imitation of the Indian idol Shiva.  The subtitle of the illustration reads "Why the Modern Presidency May be [sic; "b" should be capitalized] too [sic; see previous "sic"] Much for One Person to Handle," but is there unintended significance in the fact that Shiva's rĂ´le in Hindu cycles of creation is that of destroyer of the world?

21 November 2010

Uncommon Commentary #140: Do Your Rocking in a Chair!

The older one gets, the more asinine one looks listening to rock and roll, or—even worse—performing it.

14 November 2010

Uncommon Commentary #139: Let's Give a Seat to an Old Lady Instead

Perhaps to prove that the revolt of the masses in his country doesn't mean that he won't be coming up with any more bad ideas, Emperor Nerobama has taken the opportunity of his pointless Asian junket to announce his support for making India a permanent member of the UN Security Council.  It's not clear yet whether he wants India to replace one of the existing five that never yield their seats, or to be added to their number; I might not object to having India take the place of either Russia or mainland China, both of which have demonstrated even less commitment to the cause of world peace (see below), but this won't happen away, because of the way that the council has been constituted.
The term "United Nations," you see, was first used by the World War II Allies while the war was yet going on.  When the organization called the United Nations was planned, it was decided that there would be a body, i.e., the Security Council, charged with enforcing peace.  Five of the states that had fought the Axis (at least ultimately, in the case of the Soviet Union, which had allied itself with Germany in 1939), to wit, the USA, UK, USSR (whose seat was, unilaterally, claimed by post-Communism Russia), China (whose Nationalist government was later "de-recognized" in favor of that of the People's Republic of China), and France, were to be perpetually endowed with seats on this body, whereas other countries would have to take turns serving on it; the reason why two of the countries that have done the most to cause postwar unrest were included in the first category is that Franklin Roosevelt—to whom, interestingly, admirers of our current president have often compared him—was prey to fantasies that Stalin's USSR was one of the good guys and that Chiang Kai-shek's China was a great power.
What this background information shows is that no one, however deserving, is going to be dropped from a permanent place on the Security Council.  As to whether India or any other state ought to be joined to that five to make six, what would be the point?  One reason why the council never accomplishes anything is that, for action to be taken, assent is required of all five of the permanent members; increasing their number to six would only make unanimity harder to achieve.  Furthermore, modern India in particular doesn't merit inclusion in a body that is tasked with the prevention and the ending of conflicts, as this de jure republic and de facto Hindostani empire has been guilty of more military campaigns of aggression than has almost any other over the same period of time.  The Portuguese possessions on the subcontinent, and the princely state of Hyderabad, were both incorporated into the Union of India by force; in regard to the former, it should be noted that when India seized Goa, Daman, and Diu, a UN Security Council resolution to order the withdrawal of Indian troops failed only because of a veto by Soviet Russia, with which country India would sign a defensive alliance in 1971.  In 1982 independent Sikkim was absorbed through a different sort of military action: the conducting of a referendum, the fairness of which historians have challenged, by the Indian Army.  Wars and near-wars versus Pakistan, nearly all of them over Islamic-majority Kashmir, have occurred an amazing nine times; to be fair, Pakistan bears about equal responsibility for provoking the individual crises, although it must be allowed that at least part of Indian Kashmir really should be given to this Moslem neighbor.  In addition to all the preceding, India has voted against our positions at the UN more often than not, which would render US support for India's ambition inexplicable under any president but Obombast.
Proposing to put India on the UN Security Council is at least benign, since, as stated above, the council serves no practical purpose anyway, but it's also benighted.  If any changes are to be made to the council's makeup, they ought to involve not adding but subtracting, that is, amending the charter in order to expel China and Russia (and maybe France).  Only the USA and the UK (and maybe France) would remain as permanent councillors, but they and everyone else ought to withdraw from the UN as a whole anyway—which is a fit subject for another uncommon commentary.

06 November 2010

Uncommon Commentary #138: Does "Economic Food Chain" Mean Something like McDonald's?

On 21 October, Harry Reid said that his constituents are "too far down the economic food chain" to realize that "but for me, we'd be in a worldwide depression."  I considered making a posting about how this arrogant imbecility (the most recent in a breathtaking spate of bizarre comments by our Senate Majority Leader) ought to usher in the close of Reid's career as a public "servant," but I saw little point in doing so, since he then trailed in the polls anyway (albeit by a number of percentage points that was within the margin for error).  Inexplicably, however, the very people that he insults and betrays have re-elected this man, whom non-partisan reform groups routinely cite as one of our most infamous malfeasants.  I'm probably not the only one to feel appalled by this, but most, or perhaps all, other commentators will give a shrug of resignation and pronounce that the will of the people must be hallowed.  I, on the other hand, will speak forthrightly: Nevadans—and not Nevadans alone—have forfeited whatever right to vote that they might have had, and their State ought to revert to the status of a territory, the residents of which have no say in elections to the federal government.
The worst consequence of Reid's return to office would seem to be the fact that it, in conjunction with questionable decisions by other segments of the electorate, denies Republicans a majority in the US Senate to go along with the one that they have attained in the House of Representatives. (The Republican Party has its faults, such as a penchant for worship of "America" and of what we term "democracy," but most of its members sincerely care about the future of their country; the same certainly is not true of the Democrats, who didn't even try honestly to alleviate the first phase of this likely "double-dip" recession, but instead exploited it to try to remake the USA into a leftist paradise.)  In a perverse way, however, Democratic retention of Senate leadership is a blessing, or at least the closest that one can get to a blessing in the USA's no-win political system (see below).  Had Republicans gained control of both houses of the Congress, we might have a repeat of what happened in the 1990's, which I have already mentioned in Dem Dumb Dems: President Clinton's unpopularity during his first two years in office resulted in a Republican midterm legislative landslide, which resulted in economic and other improvements, which resulted in an increase in Clinton's popularity, because the average person is too obtuse to distinguish between something effected by the president and something that merely takes place during his administration.  The Constitutional principle of "separation of powers," which is the reason why the president and the congressional majority so often represent different parties, is, in my not-so-humble opinion, a serious flaw.
Overall, of course, Election Day 2010 was a very good one for the superior of the two major parties.  It's quite a contrast with the 2008 version, which was the most unsatisfactory in US history; it further demonstrates that even when Democrats win they lose—alas, so do we—because then they have to rule, and their corruption and incompetence in doing so inevitably produces a voter backlash.  Is this, though, the best that we can hope for: an unending oscillation between Democrat and Republican, each party in turn—depending on who actually or apparently is in power when things go wrong—being discredited in the public eye?  Opinion surveys have shown for years now that displeasure at the government has reached an all-time high.  If people really desire change, they ought to show that they do so by being receptive to truly new ideas, even if those ideas are for the drastic reform of some things that we deem secularly sacrosanct.