Month: November 2015 (Page 2 of 3)

Is Bernie Sanders a socialist? Depends on your definition of socialism.

There’s an ongoing debate over whether Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is really a socialist or not. The independent Senator from Vermont, who caucuses with the Democrats, has long called himself a “democratic socialist”–and has often simplified it to “socialist.” He recently gave a speech defending socialism by invoking welfare policies like Social Security and the FDR agenda.

Forbes contributor Tim Worstall wrote that, while those policies may be liberal ideas, they aren’t socialism. He said that socialism is only about who gets to own the means of production, not the assets, which Sanders wants to be redistributed.

But socialism, like communism, and like many other ideologies, including conservatism and liberalism, it should be said (look at the vast differences between neo-cons, paleo-cons, social cons, and libertarian cons just within the U.S.), is a slippery concept.

Sanders often cites Denmark as an example of a “democratic socialist” country he would want the U.S. to emulate. Is Denmark socialist? Their right-leaning PM Lars Rasmussen says no.

But according to Liberalapedia, Denmark is socialist. Specifically, it is a social democracy, which Liberalapedia says can mean socialism:

Democratic socialism can mean Social democracy as in Sweden, Denmark and other Scandinavian countries and that works, Denmark is the happiest country in the world while Sweden, Norway and Finland are among the happiest. Democratic socialism can also mean Command economies which don’t work.

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Overpasses for America gets into an argument with me

Overpasses for America is a Tea Party-era group who has been protesting this past week against America’s refugee program for Syrians. I wrote about their protests yesterday, calling them the “dark underbelly of anti-refugee animosity.”

Today, Overpasses’ official Twitter account got into an argument with me. Here’s the tweet I sent that started it off:

Overpasses responds:

In the heat of battle, I misfired, too:

The actual number of illegal immigrants in America is between 11 million and 12 million, as noted by multiple sources.

I corrected my tweet later:

Next Overpasses stated that Syrians should be fighting for their country rather than fleeing:

My response:

Overpasses made an inept comparison:

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Highway overpasses display dark underbelly of anti-refugee animosity

On my way from Denver up to Fort Collins today, I noticed a man with two small American flags in each hand standing on the overpass above the highway. In front of him was a sign that said, “No refugees.”

Ah, there it is. Beyond a (low) threshold, the number of flags a patriot is waving is inversely related with the rationality and sanity of one’s individual argument. Overpasses for America is a Tea Party-style group began around August 2013 as “Overpasses for Obama’s Impeachment.” People stood on overpasses with anti-Obama signs and American flags and tried to get Obama impeached. Apparently it didn’t work. From that inception, the overpasses movement, rebranded as Overpasses for America, continued to host anti-Obama/anti-Democrat protests.

As can be seen by the cover photo chosen for the Chicago anti-refugee protest, the most important thing is to have a lot of American flags:
overpasses flags copy

Since the Paris attacks, there have been a number of anti-refugee protests. The one in Naperville, IL chose a more even-headed title: “NO Syrian Refugees Rally” (as opposed to “No ISIS Refugees”).

Here are some photos from the Chicago rally (posted to their Facebook page):

They get their issues mixed up:

"No more illegals" and "No refugees illegals" signs.

“No more illegals” and “No refugees illegals” signs.

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Weekly Reading List: Paris Attack, Israel-Palestine and Hopelessness

We all know the feeling, when the lines between good and evil fades, black and white turns grey. It is easy to be in a news room or at a conference analyzing war in Syria, a land far away, but when the war hits home, in the streets of a city seven hours drive from yours, things get blurry.

Narratives get smudged, paranoia reigns, fear increases, not just of more attacks, but of reprisals. Western Europe hasn’t seen urban warfare of this scale on her streets since Second World War. All that changed overnight with Paris under curfew, the first time since 1941.

The Eiffel Tower went dark, like a Nazi bombing raid. And with the massacre inside Bataclan, and the stories of people being butchered one by one, the mind raced back to another winter night in Mumbai seven years back; same modus operandi, same style, same result.

However, the work of a Political Scientist is to analyse, being bereft of emotions. So here’s a recap of my primary predictions regarding Paris attacks, in my first column of the week.

On the other hand, it is just hopeless in Israel and Palestine, where the two state solution is probably dead for good. My second column of the week.

In sadness, on behalf of the team from B&D. I Hope your weekend is better.


#InternationalMensDay activists take up feminist tactics in the name of men

Feminists and anti-feminists seem to have a kind of war going online if you pay attention to Twitter. Feminists say women are being victimized by a patriarchy. Anti-feminists mock feminists for thinking all of their problems are caused by “the patriarchy.” And back and forth and so forth.

But today is #InternationalMensDay, and if you search the hashtag, you can see that not all anti-feminist activists are really so. Indeed, many anti-feminists and MRAs are just feminists in pants. Or, feminists without boobs, to borrow a term from noted video games feminist Anita Sarkeesian.

They are using the same tactics and the same victimization tropes as the kinds of feminists they deplore. They post a social problem and then try to turn it into a gender-related problem. They take a facts and statistics out of context, presenting them in a one-sided way. They apply stereotypes to an entire gender and ignore that many of the problems individual men face are caused by individual factors that can be solved as individuals.

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So, what do we know of Paris so far, and who’s at fault?

First of all, if you want details, read my primary predictions just published as part of my weekly columns.

Après Paris: What now, Europe? ”

Also, this is a continuation of my first predictions on Paris, during the attack, some of which have already started to be in motion, like a semi-detente with Russia, a joining of forces with Putin, an immediate closing of Europe’s borders, and an excuse to stop the refugee flow.

Which brings us to the point of this blog. As a Political Scientist, let’s recap the causal flow of this crisis. 

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Americans try to be unwelcoming to refugees

Americans lately have a bad habit of drawing conclusions from unrelated circumstances. One of the attackers reportedly was a terrorist who blended himself in with refugees to get into Europe. America, as anyone familiar with geography knows, isn’t Europe, and hundreds of thousands of boats aren’t washing up on America’s shores. So, to whatever degree the attack is relevant to European migration policy, it is not, at any rate, relevant to American policy.

That doesn’t stop demagogues and overreacting politicians from acting on it. Governors in more than a dozen states are trying to stop refugees who will already be admitted to the U.S. anyway from coming to their own states.

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Predictions about Paris, Russia, Syria and ISIS

Right, so if you don’t interact with me on Twitter, you might have missed that I predicted a few significant rapid changes in European Geopolitics. Now, young early career Political Scientists like me, don’t like predicting…it can make or break our careers. But academics also constantly want to test their predictive or analytical prowess, nerdy gamblers that we are.

So, when the attacks were still going on, I tweeted these. 

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Paris, Jihadists, Refugees and Katie Hopkins

So, in a tumultuous day, I was branded and blocked as a “right-winger without any empathy” by someone I knew for over six years, because I mentioned, that a PhD is not for everyone, after she posted a whiny monotonous drone on FB, by someone saying how they needed medicines and wanted to kill themselves, as they can’t take a pressure of a PhD. All I said was I’m doing one, and I don’t think it is that bad, and also that people should be careful of what they choose…as choice and consequence is a serious and important concept, is increasingly becoming rare in our life. Everyone should know what they are capable of, and how far they can go, rather than regret later. But apparently I am a right winger for saying that. Now, I don’t mind that, except that fact that being blocked doesn’t render my opinion mute, it however proves the person blocking me, immature, undemocratic and incapable of a discussion and debate.

Also, it starts a dilemma, as on the VERY SAME DAY, I was called a leftist troll on twitter, when I said, that Ultra-Right parties in Europe will take advantage of this and xenophobia against refugees will rise.

It is a bit confusing, when I cheese off both sides, but guess, I am doing something right.

Which brings me to this op-ed by Katie Hopkins. (Incase you don’t know who she is, and her works, consider yourself blessed. She’s equally a mesh of confused bigotry, like Peter Hitchens, without the glorious imperial Hitchensian prose)

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Scoop: Greek media bungles “Acropolis in French Tricolore” story

All over the world we saw monuments yesterday evening lit up in the colours of a French flag. It was a gesture of solidarity with the Paris tragedy that shook the world.

The Greek Parthenon (commonly known as the Acropolis) was not an exception. Or was it?

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