Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Archive for July 2011

Do I love government?

Do I love government?

This was the first thought that popped into my head when the accusation that I did was carelessly thrown across Facebook.

Do I love government?

So I started thinking about the people that I love.  What characteristics about them lead me to that feeling?  

They protect from harm.

They help me make myself better.

They help me find the resources to improve my life.

What Norway's Terror Teaches us about Islamophobia and Online Hate

If there’s any shred of comfort that come come from the horrors of ten days ago, the bomb attacks in Oslo and massacre of dozens of teenagers in Ut√łya, it is scant consolation for bereft families or a nation in mourning. The biggest atrocity on Norwegian soil since World War II, and one of the biggest terrorist incidents in Europe in decades, is no occasion for political point scoring. But some good may yet come out of it: the full glare of public scrutiny (and one hopes police attention) has now been turned on the largely ignored growth of extreme right-wing Islamophobia in Europe.

Nearly exactly a year ago, I wrote how Obama had bravely faced up to the Islamophobes in the US during his Ramadan speech and worried that  Europe lacked such leadership.

The rise of Islamophobia in Europe over the last few years – expression of which I have encountered many times in the past, even on LabourList, – has filled me with a kind a foreboding I haven’t felt since the early 90s and the rabid nationalism in former-Yugoslavia, which itself had an anti-Muslim component.

The signs are everywhere to be seen. The US have Palin’s ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ and the threat of Koran burning. We have the French assembly voting to ban niqab, Switzerland banning minarets, and the rise of the English Defence League here in the UK, deliberately targeting Muslim communities with provocation and violence…

We have demagogues like Geert Wilders in Holland getting 33% of the vote by inciting fear and hatred. Meanwhile, opportunist politicians in the UK try to ride the bandwagon, putting forward legislation to ban burkas. This is hardly helped by so-called intellectuals (who should know better) talking about ‘Islamofascism’ or “Londonistan” and trying to yolk together a religion of universalist appeal with racist ultranationalism.

Don’t worry. This is not some gratuitous exercise in ‘I told you so’. My hands are no cleaner than others, and in the rise of Islamophobia I have to share some blame (more below). We do not know yet if Anders Behring Breivik acted entirely alone. He may yet win an insanity defence. Yet there’s little doubt that both his targets and his motivation were avowedly  political. Both the video he uploaded and the European Manifesto of Independence he passed on to sympathisers should place that beyond doubt Though somewhat rambling and derivative, Breivik’s arguments are rational and coherent. He articulates a vision of the ‘Islamisation of Europe’, deliberately smuggled in by Marxists spouting ‘multiculturalism’ as their credo. That vision, and his belief that an incendiary act of violence was needed to trigger the inevitable religious and social conflict make it indisputable: the killings on Friday 21st of July a classic act of political terrorism.

Like many young men who search for some final battle between good and evil, Breivik was a dreamer of the absolute, who found his purpose in sacrificing himself for a cause greater than himself. In this, he resembles the extremist Jihadists he purports to despise, and like many of them, he seems to have been indoctrinated and then motivated into a medieval mindset through a quite modern source: what he read online.  

(This is a draft of an Essay to Appear on Labour List tomorrow)

New York's Republican Primary and New York Politics, Part 2

This is the second part of two posts analyzing New York’s recent Republican primary. It will focus upon Republican weakness in New York City, as revealed by the primary. The previous part can be found here.

New York City in the Republican Primary

One of the more interesting things about American politics is the rural-urban divide. The weakness of the modern Republican Party in urban areas is quite astounding. Much of this has to do with the history of the American city, especially the way in which many cities have become reservoirs of poor minorities.

The Republican gubernatorial primary constituted a particularly powerful demonstration of Republican weakness in American cities. To illustrate this, let’s look at a map of turn-out in businessman Carl Paladino’s victory over former representative Rick Lazio:

Part 2

More below.

Open Thread: Tick Tick Tick

So it has come to this.  Senate Minority Leader McConnell just declined the invitation of Majority Leader Reid, his “friend,” to an up-and-down vote on the Reid amendments.  No surprises there.  But how the hell did we get to this kind of unforced error in the first place?:


It has become commonplace to call the tea party faction in the House “hostage takers.” But they have now become full-blown terrorists.

They have joined the villains of American history who have been sufficiently craven to inflict massive harm on innocent victims to achieve their political goals. A strong America has always stood firm in the face of terrorism. That tradition is in jeopardy, as Congress and President Barack careen toward an uncertain outcome in the tea party-manufactured debt crisis.

William Yeomans – The tea party’s terrorist tactics Politico 29 Jul 11

Harsh words.  Frum, less polemic if perhaps more damningly, also offers criticism:


The original Republican plan was to threaten to tip the country into default unless the GOP got everything it wanted. That threat is proving empty, as Republicans’ business constituencies mutiny against their party’s dangerous tactics.

If blackmail won’t work — and negotiation is not allowed by the party’s own taboos — then the party that asked for everything is on its way to becoming the party that got nothing. Only it’s not just the GOP that is the loser. It’s the whole country.

David Frum – GOP wants Obama’s unconditional surrender CNN 18 July 11

The inflexible brinkmanship demonstrated by Republicans since Obama’s inauguration, while tactically successful in strangling progress and the economy, has reached a climax which may threaten to divide their historic coalition.  How is this a successful or sustainable strategy?

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MURDOCH XII: James Recalled, Mulcaire sings, Endgame only Weeks Away?

It’s been a week since my last instalment of this riveting saga of dynasty, criminality and corruption at the heart of our government, and though things haven’t been playing out in the same tremendous rush of exposes – the firestorm as David Cameron called it – the phone hacking revelations at News International, and the subsequent coverup, will continue to rumble on, and explode in lightning strikes at unexpected intervals.  

Some key developments worth noting to day though.

America: Hate it or leave it?

Resolved:  The Teahadist wing of the Republican Party hates America and wants everyone who doesn’t hate it the way they do to leave it.

That is to say, they hate the America that exists in the real world because it doesn’t conform to their fantasy America.  They want everyone who refuses to believe in their fantasy America to go away and stop bothering them with that pesky “reality” nonsense.

The more violently and passionately they shout about how much they love this country and want to save it, the more passionately and violently they want to cleanse it of everything “other” that refuses to fit within their sclerotic worldview, even if that means burning it all down and dynamiting the ashes.

Just When You Thought They Couldn't Get Any Dumber

I realize foreign policy and relationships are not top of mind these days. I mean why would they be, but the world moves on even as Congress moves backwards.

So yesterday the Russian Ambassador to NATO meets with Kyle and Kirk. His comment to the Russian press after the meeting:

Foreign Policy

Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, met with Kyl and Kirk yesterday in Washington — but they probably won’t be meeting again anytime soon. After the meeting, Rogozin let loose on the senators…”Today in the Senate, I met with Senators Jon Kyl and Mark Kirk. The meeting is very useful because it shows that the alternative to Barack Obama is a collapse of all the programs of cooperation with Russia,” he said. “Today, I had the impression that I was transported in a time machine back several decades, and in front of me sat two monsters of the Cold War, who looked at me not through pupils, but targeting sights.

New York's Republican Primary and New York Politics, Part 1

This is the first part of two posts analyzing New York’s recent Republican primary. It will focus upon the upstate-downstate divide revealed by the primary. The next part can be found here.

The 2010 Republican Gubernatorial Primary

On September 14th 2010 the Republican Party held its primary in New York. In the gubernatorial primary, party favorite Rick Lazio was defeated by the Tea Party Candidate: businessman Carl Paladino. Mr. Paladino won a comprehensive victory, with 62% of the vote to Mr. Lazio’s 38%.

In the long run, this primary does not matter much – if at all. By next month the primary will all but be forgotten by even the most politically intense folk. Most Americans probably weren’t even aware that there was a primary in the first place.

Yet, whatever its long-term importance, the primary constitutes a valuable tool for exploring New York’s electoral geography. Mr. Paladino’s victory revealed two interesting facts of New York politics. This post will explore the first one.

Democracy as Social Contract: Part III

Here is the final instalment of my talk to the Bond University Philosophical Society the other night.  I must thank my hosts for a delightful evening.

The subject was, “Is modern democracy really democracy?,” “Is democracy the best of all systems of government?” and “Does it do more harm than good?.”  It seemed like a stacked deck to me at the time:


So here we are, at our dinner hour, considering if this political model, which has been shaped around our dramatic social evolution of nearly two modern centuries, is our best option.  I think this can be dealt with quite simply with the droll but weighty observation of Winston Churchill:

“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

And we have tried many.  It is hard to conceive how the alternatives, no matter how thoughtfully framed or benign, are not arguably some form of tyranny by modern standards, irrespective of legality.

So what are the merits of “democracy?”


Democracy has two essential virtues; that it is “just” in the sense of the “common good,” a justice that varies with the appropriateness of the contract and the wisdom and integrity of its executors.  And also that it allows the majority the “arbitrary and reckless” opportunity to alter course, indeed reverse themselves, at some point in the future.  

I can always tell when folks have been reading too much Plato.

OPEN THREAD: Debt Ceiling Politics

I watched both of the speeches last night and the most stark difference was how Obama stated his case in a way that left Boehner room to maneuver, while Boehner came with personal broadsides directed squarely at the President.  He laid out two options, either accept our narrative and cave to all our demands or we will force your veto-ing hand to flush the full faith and credit of the US (God I’m sick of hearing that phrase) down the proverbial toilet.

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And the so-called liberal media is failing to call this what it is in consistent fashion: a concerted attempt to bring down a sitting president no matter who and what is damaged in the process.