Impressions of Elizabeth Warren

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

In 2012, Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts will face a challenge from Massachusetts resident and Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Warren is somebody who has sparked liberal passion unseen since Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. However, people who arouse liberal passions do not always translate well to the wider electorate.

Out of curiosity, I decided to watch a few videos Elizabeth Warren and see for myself how good a politician she is.

The first thing that one notices is how overwhelmingly passionate Warren is about regulating the financial industry. Passion like that cannot be faked. Unlike people such as Mitt Romney, it’s very clear that Warren truly and deeply believes in what she says. You see it in the emotion with which Warren talks about Wall Street. This is not actually that surprising. After all, Warren wants to be a senator not as an end to advance her political career, but as a means to fight Wall Street. Fortunately for Warren, most Americans share her passion.

The main problem with this is that Warren sometimes appears quite angry in the videos, especially those before her campaign began. Anger is something that Americans do not like politicians to show, especially those who happen to be female. This might turn-off a few voters. Warren herself, on the other hand, is probably aware of this potential problem.

Another thing of note is that Warren lacks the feel that comes with most politicians. There’s something very much politician-unlike that comes when she talks. It’s pretty clear that she’s not been a politician all her life. This was actually pretty refreshing for me, and it’s an advantage Warren will have. Ironically, the fact that Warren doesn’t sound like a  politician actually makes her a better politician.

In addition, Warren’s had to work for what she has. Unlike people such as George W. Bush or Mitt Romney, Warren was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. For me, at least, that’s a plus.

Finally, Warren has a way of skillfully articulating a point. In her most famous video Warren talks about how the roads a government builds and the safety it provides are necessary for a factory-owner to succeed. This is a point that liberals often make, but Warren puts it in a really understandable way. I’ve don’t think I’ve ever seen a liberal make this argument with the clarity that Warren does in the video.

All in all, Warren does seem to have some pretty decent political skills. At the very least, she’ll give Republican Scott Brown a much more powerful challenge than any of the other Democratic politicians-for-life in Massachusetts.

 

 

North Korea: A Very Rational Country

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

It’s popular amongst the media to characterize North Korea as an irrational state run by a madman. North Korea continuously provokes the West, it is said, for no apparent reason. Proof that it’s an unpredictable, irrational actor that could do anything.

There are in fact very few states in history that could actually can be said to have behaved irrationally. I can only think of one state in the twentieth century which fits the description above. That was Germany just before and during the Second World War.

North Korea has in fact behaved quite rationally throughout the past few years. As a pariah state with only one ally, a very weak economy, and the enmity of the world’s superpower – the government of North Korea has to realize a way to protect itself. This is especially true given that said superpower has repeatedly used its military to strike down dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi who have earned its hostility.

Muammar Gaddafi is an extremely telling example. One unfortunate side-effect of the successful American intervention there is that the intervention has probably permanently ruined any possibility of North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons. Just look at Muammar Gaddafi to see what happens when countries hostile to America give up their nuclear weapons. And in fact, North Korea has done just this. The rational, logical conclusion: the only sure deterrence is nuclear weapons, especially with Seoul and Tokyo as hostages located so conveniently close to North Korea.

The death of Kim Jong-il also explains a lot of North Korea’s recent aggressiveness during the past couple of years. North Korea’s leaders knew that Kim Jong-il’s health was in dire straits after his stroke, and that he was probably going to die very soon. They were thus preparing hastily for his succession. The new leader needed a military accomplishment to add to his belt before entering power. Thus the artillery bombardment of a South Korean island, repeated nuclear tests, and the sinking of a South Korean ship. These were designed to be just enough for the new leader to boast about without actually getting North Korea in any danger of being seriously attacked.

North Korea is not another Nazi Germany. It’s just a very weak, very poor country whose government is trying its best to survive against the might of the world’s superpower.

 

 

A List of Female Dictators

 

 

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

One of the phenomenons of the twentieth century has been the rise of the dictator. Dictators rule countries undemocratically and usually until death, crushing the opposition. Unlike the kings or emperors of old, these men generally don’t have any family linkage with previous rulers.

 

Notice the gender-specific word “men.” All dictators have been male, without exception. A woman has never ordered the army to crush nascent protests against her authoritarianism. Nor has a woman ever led a coup to overthrow a democratically elected government, replacing its rule by her own.

 

As the above examples indicate, dictators are generally strongly linked with the army. They generally rise through the army and enjoy its support. There is no institution more heavily dominated by males in society than the army; indeed, until recently the very concept of a female soldier was unthinkable (and still is in many countries). Thus the lack of female dictators.

 

There are, however, a number of women who have come pretty close to being dictators. Here’s a list, and it’s quite interesting:

 

Indira Gandhi

 

 

Indira Gandhi (no relation to the most famous Gandhi) ruled as Prime Minister of India during prolonged periods from the 1960s to the 1980s. She came to power as the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru, an independence hero, governed India as the head of the Indian National Congress during his lifetime. Congress was and still is the dominant political party in India. It had and still has a nasty habit of nepotism. Since Indira was the daughter of Nehru, leadership of the party fell to her.

 

As leader of India, Indira Gandhi did many good things and many bad things. Economically speaking, she seemed to be more in the business of giving poor people fish than teaching them how to fish.

 

But Indira Gandhi is most famous for her State of Emergency. In 1975 Indira declared a state of emergency, giving her dictatorial powers. Civil liberties and democracy was suspended during The Emergency. Opposition leaders were arrested. A controversial family planning program was put in place, which led to many Indians being unwillingly sterilized.

 

In this sense Indira Gandhi, although elected democratically, was dictator of India for two years.

 

Fortunately for India, Indira Gandhi ended The Emergency in 1977. She proceeded to hold elections, lost them, and to her credit stepped down. Indira Gandhi would later return to office. She was assassinated by Sikh bodyguards after taking controversial military action against Sikh militants.

 

Jiang Qing

 

 

Jiang Qing was a dominant figure in Chinese politics during the Cultural Revolution and immediately after Mao Zedong’s death. She was the fourth wife of Mao Zedong, and the only one who played a political role.

 

At first Mao promised that Jiang Qing wouldn’t be involved in politics, and for a while he kept that promise. During the Cultural Revolution, however, Qing rose to power. She generally took a hard-line stance on policy, opposing for instance economic reforms and determinedly prosecuting her political opponents. She was widely disliked.

 

Shortly after Mao’s death in 1976, Qing lost power. In 1981 she was prosecuted as part of the “Gang of Four,” scapegoats for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, and spent most of the rest of her life in prison.

 

Elena Ceaușescu

 

 

Elena Ceaușescu was the wife of Romanian Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, who ruled Romania during the latter period of the Cold War. Like Jiang Qing, Elena Ceaușescu gained political power and political positions during this period. However, she had far less influence; unlike Qing, Elena Ceaușescu never directed attacks against political opponents.

 

The Romanian population widely hated her. In the 1989 revolution, Elena Ceaușescu attempted to flee the country with her husband. She was caught, subject to a show trial, and shot.

 

Imelda Marcos

 

Like the two individuals above, Imelda Marcos gained her power through being the wife of a military dictator. Imelda Marcos was the wife of Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled over the Philippines from the 1960s to the 1980s. Like Elena Ceaușescu, Imelda Marcos used her position to gain power and political positions. She was quite infamous for her collection of shoes and for the fortune she gained during the dictatorship.

 

However, Imelda Marcos wasn’t as disliked by Filipinos as the two previous individuals listed. After the fall of the dictatorship in 1986, Imelda Marcos went into exile. She returned in 1991 and started a political career. Today Imelda Marcos is a congresswoman in the Philippines House of Representatives, where she last won 80% of the vote. It’s doubtful that Jiang Qing or Elena Ceaușescu could have won an election anywhere in their respective countries.

 

Conclusions

 

There’s a pretty obvious pattern here: all the female “dictators” listed above gained power through family connections. This is a common pattern; throughout history, many of the powerful female political leaders have gained power as wives, daughters, and sisters of male political leaders.

 

Interestingly, this list is dominated by the Asian continent. One would expect more African and South American countries to be represented. This might be a pattern, or it might just be chance.

 

Of all these people, Indira Gandhi comes closest to being a dictator. Unlike the others, Indira Gandhi was legitimately the most powerful person in the country. She was the one in control of the army, and she could and did use it to commit multiple human rights violations.

 

One wonders who will be the next Indira Gandhi.

 

 

 

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