Archive for July 29th, 2010

July 29, 2010

Institutional self-preservation

by Vince

E.D. Kain and IOZ ask some big questions in regards to what organizations and institutions do and if they are just in it to survive, not operate:

Institutions, like organisms, seek survival for themselves and their descendants. One of the conceits at the heart of most theories of government, which has perhaps reached its apogee in this age of technocratic, managerial liberalism, is the idea that institutions are fundamentally instrumental. To an anarchist, this is a flatly silly proposition. (An analogue might be a Christian trying to get an atheist to concede that life has a “purpose.”) Institutions aren’t simple tools. Organizations aren’t implements. And when a sufficient number of institutions coexist, they function like an ecosystem. They neither work nor do not work. They survive, reproduce, replace, predate, evolve, alter, consume, and grow. They are no more responsive to the individuals contained within than a person is to a single cell.

The problem with government institutions is that they persist because of politics rather than any rational decision-making process. The big public unions exist and grow in strength because they are so important electorally. The big federal departments exist because politicians must always do something to survive the next election cycle (read: spend more!). Cutting the Department of Education may not have much of an effect on the educational outcomes of most American children, but the act of cutting it is pretty much heretical nonetheless, even though those dollars might be better spent at the local level than on the inflated salaries of a bunch of Washington bureaucrats.

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July 29, 2010

A Eulogy for today’s Conservatism

by Vince

P.M. Carpenter writes on today’s GOP and their off-shoot Tea Party cohorts:

I largely dismiss the GOP’s exotic obstructionism as a pathological sign of party disintegration. Republican stances, say, against unemployment benefits but in support of plutocratic tax cuts, or against economic stimulus because of deficit worries but in support of unfunded wars, are indeed conspicuously daffy and manifestly harmful to the nation’s interests. But, almost any out-of-power party will get itself tied into hypocritical knots which reflect the underlying prejudices of its hardest-core base.

And all that is driving modern conservatism’s concentrically defined ideology: exclusion rather than inclusion, pup tents over big tents, intellectual guillotining and purifying bloodbaths. Only a tighter and tighter ideological circumference qualifies as True and Valid Belief — an absolute killer in popular politics as well as in many an actual revolution. Outsiders need never worry for too long; the revolutionaries will stupidly slaughter themselves.

July 29, 2010

The War Report: July 29th

by Vince

I feel like starting a special series on the war(s) at hand. I will provide various news reporting’s, commentaries, and analyses.

Andrew Sullivan and the AP report that the Pentagon cannot account for billions of dollars spent in Iraq. The report from MSNBC includes Afghanistani efforts:

A U.S. audit has found that the Pentagon cannot account for more than 95 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraq reconstruction money, spotlighting Iraqi complaints that there is little to show for the massive funds pumped into their cash-strapped, war-ravaged nation.

About $60 billion have poured into Afghanistan since 2001 in hopes of bringing electricity, clean water, jobs, roads and education to the crippled country.

The U.S. alone has committed $51 billion to the project since 2001, and plans to raise the stakes to $71 billion over the next year — more than it has spent on reconstruction in Iraq since 2003.

An Associated Press investigation showed that the results so far — or lack of them — threaten to do more harm than good. The number of Afghans with access to electricity has increased from 6 percent in 2001 to only about 10 percent now, far short of the goal of providing power to 65 percent of urban and 25 percent of rural households by the end of this year.

An Afghanistan War funding pact was passed by the House:

The House voted 308-114 to approve the spending boost for the additional 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Other nonwar provisions brought the total bill to nearly $59 billion.

Republicans in Congress still were strongly behind the boost in war spending, but there was unusually strong opposition from members of Obama’s own party. All but 12 of the “no” votes in the House came from Democrats.

In debate before the vote, Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.) said the leaked documents revealed corruption and incompetence in the Afghan government. “We’re told we can’t extend unemployment or pay to keep cops on the beat or teachers in the classroom,” he said, “but we’re asked to borrow another $33 billion for nation-building in Afghanistan.”

Obama’s ace in the hole in all of these wars is seen as Hilary Clinton:

In fact, Clinton, who was supposed to ignite the flames of conservatives’ hatred, is becoming more popular every day across the political spectrum. Her hawkish foreign policy views gain her support on the right, and her well-known views on domestic policy keep the home fires burning on the left. The two fields intersect in one of the areas where she displays the greatest passion, her signature foreign- policy issue: the need to empower women in poor countries in order to transform the world.

Finally, Karl Rove wonders why there isn’t more American hubris in our approach to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars:

The president and prime minister declared their solidarity on the Afghanistan war. Both leaders “reaffirmed our commitment to the overall strategy,” in Mr. Cameron’s words. Mr. Obama said that approach aimed to “build Afghan capacity so Afghans can take responsibility for their future,” a point Mr. Cameron called “a key part” of the coalition’s strategy.

All well and good. But neither leader uttered the word “victory” or “win” or any other similar phrase. They made it sound as if the strategic goal was to stand up the Afghan security forces, leave as soon as that was done, and hope the locals were up to keeping things together.

Rove must not know that the Taliban have never had double-digit popularity levels in Afghanistan.

July 29, 2010

Tempus II

by Vince

Tempus II from Philip Heron on Vimeo.
Philip Heron and James Adair shot a bunch of stuff hitting other stuff and slowed the whole thing way, way down.”

July 29, 2010

Dogs of Glory

by Vince

Creepy? Sure.

July 29, 2010

Bill O’Reilly on Jay Leno

by Vince

Topics discussed: DADT, BP, Barack Obama, Glenn Beck and Heraldo, and James Carville.