The line of succession

I will begin with a a warning that this post might not be as topical as the usual material I put out and a little more speculative but I feel the need to stake my claim on this topic. The topic I intend to discuss below are the candidates I feel might make the cut as the next potential president of the United States. In discussing those candidates who I feel might have any chance of claiming the crown for themselves I will inevitably touch on some of the keystone topics that will define the electoral battleground within the USA and outside of it. I’m not quite willing to place a bet as to who the actual president will be just quite yet and for good reason, if the GOP nomination/candidates is/are anywhere near as farcical as last time round then my suggestions for that parties candidate might all be blown out of the water so I’m holding off on that one for now. Without further ado, read on to find my pick of those who I feel might make the team and why.

Democratic Party

Democratic Party

  1. Hillary Clinton – I’ll begin by saying that if I am a little dubious as to whether Clinton will stand at all with her having declined to pursue another term as Secretary of State. However there are factors on the other side of the weighing scale that lead me to believe that if she were to run that she would almost certainly gain the nomination of her party having come so close last time around and would certainly be a plausible candidate for President. Having left the State Department with high approval ratings and (moderately) successfully guided her department through a period of intense change on the world stage with regards the Arab Spring, Clinton has certainly demonstrated her competency in high office and her work while she was the First Lady with charitable initiatives would seem to suggest a keen awareness of political issues within the US itself. I also feel that a critical element that would aid Clinton if she did decide to run is that as well as being tremendously popular herself, she is also a part of a remarkably popular political family with a great deal of experience in running very smooth campaigns. All of the above being true there are a few issues that might hamper a Clinton campaign. Chief amongst the issues that harm Clinton’s potential candidacy is her involvement in some very shady financial dealings that have previously tarnished the family image almost as much as the activities of the philanderer in chief. While Clinton was never charged of wrongdoing over Whitewater or Cattle Futures, even the merest hint or allegation of corruption has previously proved enough to scupper a candidacy. Besides these issues though, I feel Clinton stands a good chance if she does come out of her semi-retirement and on reflection I am lead to wonder if perhaps the decision to not serve a second term as Secretary of State was a shrewd move to avoid any flack for poor decisions damaging an otherwise credible candidacy.

    perhaps one day she really will ...

    perhaps one day she really will …

  2. Joe Biden – Another member of Obama’s cabinet with a decent shot at the presidency if he were to run.  Biden has demonstrated a consistent support for his president and has arguably been a big help to Obama’s policy initiatives with for example, Obama leaving Biden in charge of drafting  a bill to go before congress in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, perhaps in doing so, acknowledging that in the increasingly partisan political atmosphere of US politics, Biden is seen as less toxic than had the suggestions come straight from Obama. Biden also played a critical part in ensuring that to some degree financial meltdown was avoided (albeit narrowly) in the 2011 debt ceiling debacle and the 2012 fiscal cliff fuck up through his good relationships with significant figures within the Republican Party. Biden has also been a strong supporter of the current administrations policy on equal rights and gay marriage which might make him the stand out candidate for LGBT voters in an age where said demographic is increasingly important and politicised. There are, like with Clinton, an issue that might prove to derail a potential Biden candidacy which is simply – his age. While he has demonstrated his ability and determination in repeatedly hitting the road in support of Obama, I do wonder whether 8 years of doing so will have seriously tired the man out, more so when we consider that if he were to run he would be 73 by the time the election season began.
Having attempted to run for the presidency twice already, I wonder if for Biden the third time might just hit the mark.

Having attempted to run for the presidency twice already, I wonder if for Biden the third time might just hit the mark.

3. Rahm Emanuel – A little bit of wildcard here admittedly but based on the continuing outlook of the Middle East as things stand, with Syria sinking further into out and out chaos, Turkey looking like its heading straight for a change of government if Erdogan doesn’t start to learn the lessons of the Arab Spring fast and Jordan and some of the gulf monarchies looking ready to crumble, I feel a potential president with a strong grounding in foreign policy as a result of his affiliation with Israel might be a strong bet. Whether the US is ready for a Jewish president is open to debate, but then so was the question of whether America was ready for a black president in 2008. And ultimately unlike other minority communities who hav to some degree been marginalized in political debate throughout the country as a group, Jews in the US do represent an effective pressure group and arguably exert a disproportionate amount of influence considering the size of the community. Who knows, maybe if the world political climate is right then Rahm Emanuel might just get the top job.

220px-Rahm_Emanuel,_official_photo_portrait_color

Maybe Chicago’s first Jewish mayor will become the countries first Jewish president.

Republican Party.

Republican Party.

  1. Marco Rubio – We have here the shoe-in GOP candidate for 2016 I fancy with the Republicans perhaps finally learning the lessons of the past that just aiming at attracting the votes of  Christian, white, middle America isn’t going to cut it any more and that if they are to ever claim the highest office for themselves again that they need to widen their appeal. Arguably the most critical group which both parties will focus on in the years to come is Latino voters who have had something of a demographic explosion in recent years. With these facts borne in mind then it is perhaps easy to see why Rubio might just be the man for the job in some peoples eyes. His approval ratings are high and he’s tremendously popular in his home state, and on perhaps the cherry on top of this all is that he is seen as something of a crown prince of the Tea Party movement and any candidate that can hold appeal to such a disparate bunch of lunatics is certainly doing something right. Rubio is also young enough that it might be plausible for me to suggest that he would appeal to younger voters outside of the traditional GOP strongholds who have been faced in the last two elections with a candidate that looks like they might have been born in the last ice age. There are some issues that might hamstring Rubio’s candidacy if he does stand and these basically revolve around republican supporters. Rubio has previously supported (relatively) liberal policies on the topic of immigration and citizenship which might stick in the craw of some of the more simian republican voters, despite the increasing likelihood that the type of policies Rubio has supported previously will soon become law in some form or another.

    Perhaps 2016 will see another racial barrier in the US broken down with the election of a Latino president.

    Perhaps 2016 will see another racial barrier in the US broken down with the election of a Latino president.

  2. Chris Christie – My personal favourite for the GOP candidacy if nothing else is New Jersey’s governor. There are many reasons why I believe Chris Christie is a credible candidate for the presidency, certainly when we take into account some of the pituary morons that GOP wheeled out last time around. First of all, Christie has demonstrated a clear distaste for the partisan political wrangling that slows up much needed iniatives passing through DC. When I say that Christie has demonstrated a clear distaste for the partisan politics of national government I am perhaps lowballing the situation a little, when Christie went on record in front of the media in quite vigorously denouncing the house majority and speaker John Boehner for failing to pass legislation that would have helped victims of Hurricane Sandy. Such words demonstrate that if Christie were to make it to the White House that we might expect a far more pro-active government with far less time spent arguing over minor details in the houses of gvoernment, something we have unfortunately seen far too much of since Obama reached high office. Christie has a relatively moderate approach to many issues, and when this is taken into account alongside his carefully cultivated attempt to appear post-partisan then we are perhaps looking at a future president who realises that for GOP success lies in attracting wavering Democrats to cross the floor as opposed to pandering to the more right wing fanatics within his own party.  Therein lies the main problem with Christie’s candidacy, if he cannot attract voters from across the spectrum then his previous stances on certain issues will likely lead republican voters to ignore him as a ‘Republican In Name Only’.

    Or will it be the first fat president ?

    Or will it be the first fat president ? And if by some trick of nature, the photo for Christie is bigger than any of the other photos.

  3. Rand Paul – in the potential candidate of Rand Paul we have a republican who took a principled stand against the current administrations drone policy by leading a 13 hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination as the head of the CIA. In doing so, Paul marked himself out as a candidate with strong opinions on civil liberties within the US and foreign policy outside of it. I will admit that a Paul candidacy is perhaps the most unlikely of my selections, barring Emanuel, but given further opportunities to take apart the iniquities of the current administration Paul could easily ride the wave of public approval, at least to the point where he is considered a plausible candidate. As mentioned above, with the current world political climate looking at is, it doesn’t take too great a leap of the imagination to think of a situation where congress might be forced to hold a few more committees on foreign policy issues that Paul might sit on, his star rising commensurately with his number of appearances in the public eye. A Paul candidacy would also perhaps benefit a great deal from his father’s supporters amongst whom are many activists and donors that would help any campaign get off to a flying start. Whether some of Paul’s more libertarian policies might harm his chances remains to be seen as the great unknown when it comes to GOP is how far to the fringes it will pander or whether it will remain focussed on the centre. If GOP is leaning towards the  fringe elements then Paul’s libertarian philosophies might just carry the day but if it remains focussed on the mainstream elements of the party then he might just have to rely on those committees if he is to stand a chance.

    The father failed but might the son get the job ?

    The father failed but might the son get the job ?

Rationalism over nationalism

The illustrious Dr Johnson once uttered the words “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. While it is true that the context of the whole conversation was never recorded so the meaning of Dr Johnson’s quote is uncertain, we can take him at his word which is what I fully intend to do in this weeks update. I intend in the coming paragraphs to show why I have struggled in the past to buy into nationalism and further, to argue that we might all be better served if we gave up on nationalism in favour of the far more sound ideal of rationalism.

I’m not sure at what point in my life I realised I was deeply troubled with the idea of buying into a nation and giving said concept my unwavering support. I admit to having attended international sporting events or to watching them on TV in the past and feeling a shiver of the spine as a result of hearing my countries national anthem sung although reflecting on this I fear the spine tingling may have been more the result of hearing in excess of 60,000 people singing the same song which is an inherently powerful experience. The clue here was probably that the anthem is sung in a language I cannot speak or understand rendering the idea that I felt some connection with the lyrics nonsensical, and on further reflection I also imagine the subconscious effect of feeling the need to conform to the crowd behaviours has a tremendous impact. Besides sporting events I don’t ever really recall feeling much towards my nation, I never enjoyed dressing up like a twat to celebrate my countries patron saints day, for anyone who thinks im exaggerating on that front, see below ….

The point at which lampshades gained sentience.

The point at which lampshades gained sentience.

I also never remember feeling any great love for the history of my nation, everywhere else on earth seemed more interesting and less mundane frankly. All of the above being true, I do not remember at which point I decided I felt contempt for the farcical notion of national pride as opposed to the general uncertainty about the idea of a nation and feeling love for it that marked my childhood. I think perhaps the crux of this issue of mine revolves around my becoming aware of politics and realising that a lot of the people I lived around were firstly, just short of mollusc in the brain department and more importantly not a bunch of people that I planned to cling to in times of crisis or otherwise. It probably won’t come as any great surprise that the way in which I came to realise that I did not identify myself with the same notion of nationality as my peers was through hearing their constant boasting about the characteristics of their proud nation while concomitantly denigrating every other nationality on earth as lesser than their own. Considering the amount of times I heard someone accuse the entire Polish nation of being job thieves and petty criminals or heard another moron slander the entire “muslim” nation as terrorists I’m constantly in a state of shock that I ever left my ears attached to my head. Evidently the more time waxing about the greatness of ones own nation the less time spent realising that history is very rarely as compartmentalised as the most ardent nationalists would have us believe.

I think my main bone of contention with the whole idea of nationalism is that I understand how arbitrary the notion of a nation is and I cannot bring myself to identify with other people purely because of arbitrarily drawn lines on a map. I share the same chemical make-up and basic DNA structure with every other human being on this earth right now so I cannot comprehend why I should feel a greater deal of affinity with people spread throughout my country than I do with the rest of humanity. If nationalism was more focussed on conceivable and smaller spaces then perhaps yes I could bring myself to feel that I do hold more in common with my locality than I do in difference with them. Of course this is not the case with nations often constituting gigantic areas of space with hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, living within them and still the myth is continually perpetuated that it is normal to feel affinity with someone who lives hundreds of miles away but within the same border yet unnatural to feel that self same affinity with some one who lives ten miles away on the other side of a line haphazardly drawn on maps at some point in the last 300 years. In summary my central problem with the idea of a nation is that is based on nothing but baseless presumption.

All of the above having been said it is not for me to attempt to force my lack of affinity for national compatriots on other people. On the other hand, the beliefs I do intend to force on other people is that if they feel the need to define themselves according to the lines drawn on a map around them then they need to start facing up to the ugly realities of what people living in amongst those squiggly lines have done in the past as well as championing the good things that originating from their nation. Just to demonstrate that there are two sides to everything, including the legacy of any particular nation I’m going to play a little game now. I’m going to pick some countries whose history I understand fairly well  and offer one aspect of that countries history as championed by nationalists from that country and counter balance this with some of the more negative parts of that countries legacy:

Mexico

Positive – The birth control pill.

Negative – The complete state of lawlessness that now  grips large parts of mexico as a result of the drugs trafficking to the USA which takes place there.

USA

Positive – Arguably the worlds first and most thriving representative democracy.

Negative – The invention and use of the Atom bomb on civilian populations to cause the capitulation of Imperial Japan.

China

Positive – Compasses.

Negative – Rampant over-population which is drastically increasing strain on the worlds environments.

Germany

Positive – Sellotape aiding countless housewives and office monkeys in their day to day dealings

Negative – The Nazi party which went on from a bit of internal repression to starting the worst war in History

UK

Positive – Association football, the worlds greatest sport

Negative – the Bengal famine, The Irish Famine, The Ethnic cleansing of Nova Scotia, The creation of the majority of the Middle-East’s client kingdoms borders and hold on power and last but not not least ….

Gove most Sad

Michael Gove

I’m not saying that the UK is worse than any other country I mentioned, I simply feel the need to draw attention to more of the negatives associated with my country as it is myths about how amazing Great Britain is that I have to listen to on a daily basis. We can see here from my little exercise above that for every positive aspect of a countries there is an equal and opposite negative aspect to the legacy that if you feel national pride by rights you have to accept. Ultimately I cant force my views onto people much as I might try but I can suggest after this brief discussion on the topic of nationalism that we would all be served better by adopting a far more rational approach to how we view history and arbitrary borders than seems to be the norm now.

Are we witnessing the last throw of the dice ?

Another nuclear armed nation has been in the news again recently in the form of North Korea. The Hermit kingdom has been behaving strangely as of late, even by its own standards it must be said. Such behaviour has lead to a great deal of speculation in the media about the intentions of Kim Jong-Un and the threat posed by what many view as a rogue nation. In this post I will lay out my reading of the situation and ponder whether the doomsday clock will soon move a minute or two closer to midnight.

an unlikely worlds most dangerous man I think you'll all agree

An unlikely worlds most dangerous man I think you’ll all agree

Just over a month ago North Korea tested for the third time a nuclear device and by doing so earned the condemnation of the world for its actions. The nuclear device was tested on its own soil so ultimately not violating any treaties being as North Korea have withdrawn from the non-proliferation treaty over previous disagreements about its intentions. This is the context in which the UN security council decided to increase sanctions against Pyongyang which many would argue served as the inevitable precursor to bellicose statements coming from the regime. After the UN security council voted on Thursday to increase dramatically the sanctions already in place against North Korea, the country reacted exactly as many feared and announced that it would tear up the Korean War ceasefire agreement of 1953 and disconnect a  crisis hotline between itself and the capital of South Korea. Many have asserted that in light of this behaviour  that  the north is on a course set for war and consequently the media has done much drum beating for the US state department much as we saw in 2002-2003 in the lead up to the Iraq war.

 it is questionable whether they are paid as much for they service as John Kerry despite both being hands wanking the same cock.

it is questionable whether they are paid as much for their service as John Kerry despite both being hands wanking the same cock.

The media however has failed too present the argument that actually seeing as North Korea only violated international norms not any actual treaties, that what we are seeing in the case of North Korea is a country resorting to sabre rattling and rhetoric against the cruel economic blockade that is being enforced against it. Often when people discuss North Korea they like to highlight the famine that has been caused or at least exacerbated by the regimes actions, yet they do not seem to see the connection between sanctions and famine much as was the case in post Gulf War Iraq or they are wilfully ignorant of it. Either way the likes of CNN and the BBC are currently leading us into a cul-de-sac from which there are only a few exists and each one happens to be a military solution to a problem that words could solve.

Further to the moral crime of acting as promoters for future wars many on the surface appear to have committed the cardinal sin of taking Pyongyang’s rhetoric at face value and are assessing the country to be a dire threat to stability in the region whilst under-assessing the parts played by many other actors in this play. For example,  a great deal of attention has been given to the regimes threats to build missiles capable of hitting Washington yet relatively little time was dedicated to assessing the relationship between China and North Korea despite the fact that it is China who holds the country on a very tight leash meaning that war in forms other than that of words is highly unlikely. When I’ve heard this point put forward many are quick to suggest that, while it is true that China controls North Korea’s purse strings,  North Korea is too illogical and for want of better words “crazy” to be held back by such facts. Very few seem to take into account the fact that ultimately North Koreans are human too and are probably motivated by the exact same desires to stay alive and so are actually highly unlikely to start nuclear wars for fun either.

They just want to get home to their wives likes the rest of us, not die in nuclear holocausts

They just want to get home to their wives likes the rest of us, not die in nuclear holocausts.

The lack of serious analysis of North Korea’s intentions and behaviour only serves to hamper our understanding of the situation in East Asia currently. The assumptions by most are that the regimes threats towards Washington and by extension Seoul and Tokyo are to be taken with the utmost seriousness as threats to initiate a form of war that in all likelihood would see the majority of the country wiped out in retaliation. If you really buy the notion that any country as a whole is so fanatical in its beliefs that it is willing to goose step into oblivion unquestioningly then there really is not a lot I can do for you or am willing to do. Yes the North Korean regime does contain hard-line elements who like to talk the talk but the reality is that when push comes to shove those same hard-line elements are likely to find themselves immolated just like any other citizen of the country. And there is nothing like the threat of immolation to keep people acting logically on a day to day basis. Looking at the situation as it stands I believe what we are actually seeing is a country using strong language to demonstrate that it will not be cowed by the pressure it is facing from the UN. Based purely on the language coming from Pyongyang I think we can concretely see that the sanctions and condemnation of the UN have proven to have failed dramatically in bringing the country back into the international community and that it is time for a new approach. As Tania Branigan at the Guardian points out, analysts believe that alongside the short term aim of demonstrate its utter contempt for the UN, that the dialogue from North Korea is aimed in the longer term at simply exerting influence in the only way that the otherwise nondescript country can, shouting loud enough for editors of tin pot newspapers and state department understudies to hear.

A tactic which until recently was best demonstrated by this man.

A tactic which until recently was best demonstrated by this man.

In the reporting of this story an alternate viewpoint that was woefully under reported was that the words coming from North Korea can be seen as a direct response to sanctions that have been imposed by the international community despite much evidence to the contrary that these do not work as intended. The concept behind sanctions is that by imposing various forms of economic blockades against a nation that either the nation will change its behaviour to match that which is desired by those imposing the sanctions or in time the people suffering as a direct result of the sanctions will rise up and overthrow the errant government. The reality of the matter is that sanctions are little more than a cruel exercise in the display of power that only serve to kill large numbers of innocent people and keep them in an abject state of poverty. While the evidence of famine in North Korea is somewhat debatable due to the countries closed borders many in the media and governments  feel themselves to be adequately informed to discuss the famine as fact yet have passed no comment on this dramatic increase in sanctions which are a highly probable cause of any famine in the country. The bias of those willing to condemn the regime in charge of the country  in such strong terms such as despotic yet are unwilling to condemn any other parties that hold equal responsibility leaves me speechless. Ultimately then the way to view North Korea’s words is not as an attempt to initiate a conflict with the US and its allies, readers are better served by viewing these words through the prism of Newton’s laws with the statements constituting an equal and opposite reaction to the force that is the threat of increased sanctions.

Who knew that one day as well as teaching basic physics, that Newton's laws would one day be used to make torturous analogies about North Korea's political behaviour ?

Who knew that one day as well as teaching basic physics, that Newton’s laws would one day be used to make torturous analogies about North Korea’s political behaviour ?

While I do not believe in the case of North Korea that we are seeing a desperate last throw of the dice, that is not to say that the region isn’t at tremendous risk of conflict as things stand. With China and Japan both subtly gunning for each other and the US promising to throw its weight behind Japan if conflict were to break out, a recipe for a conflict that would reach further than the nations of East Asia is certainly present. Whether such a conflict might emerge is obviously open to interpretation but we must ask ourselves if we are morally and politically comfortable with the UN’s policies in the region which are serving to create a rogue nation with absolutely nothing to lose from massively expanding said regional conflict in an attempt to break free from the deadlock it is currently in.

The communist domino theory that was used as the justification for much interference in Asian politics during the first cold war might have been proven to be incorrect but in a new cold war situation between a seemingly exponentially expanding China and the dying American empire a rewriting of that theory is perhaps necessary. In a rewritten version of the domino theory, the theory would suggest that the sudden emergence of a hot war in a polarized cold war type environment will spread from neighbouring country to neighbouring country until the entire region is at war with itself. In the contemporary situation the reality is that even Pyongyang’s main allies in China and Russia are eager to contain the political nightmare that is an outwardly aggressive North  Korea armed with weapons of mass destruction but add the uncertainty of China and Russia being tied up in conflict with neighbouring countries over resource-rich land and territorial waters and we have a recipe for disaster. Given a chance I see no plausible reason why in such a conflict North Korea, kept in a state of abject misery by the American dominated UN would not attempt to unify the Korean peninsula in an foolhardy attempt to improve life for Koreans living north of the 38th parallel. Were North Korea to ever attempt such an act after being emboldened by region spanning conflict I have no doubt that it would do so using conventional weaponry and sheer man power not weapons of mass destruction. And of course if the North Koreans were to ever attempt to unify the Korean peninsula this would be highly likely to seriously irk the USA. The USA has in the last 60 years sunk an almost immeasurable amount of money into supporting (read as buying) “democracy” in South Korea, the same USA that is the only historical user of nuclear weapons in a conflict situation. Perhaps in this we can see that there is a strange logic to North Korea’s desire for nuclear armament and that desire is protection from the same superpower which nearly brought a nuclear holocaust down upon the citizens of Korea once already.