Sunday, November 22, 2015

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

There a number of reasons that I am not a fan of Obama, and while a large part of it is his economic politics (1960s Republican), a more visceral part is his temperament.*

He seems to have problems understanding what it means to govern, and shows very little learning curve.

As a case in point, see  How The White House Lost Democrats On The Syrian Refugee Bill  from the Huffington Post.**


.. after leaving a Democratic caucus briefing on Thursday with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson ...[Steve] Israel told reporters. "They may have strong arguments on their side, but they're not expressing those strong arguments sufficiently."
An aide in the meeting with Johnson and McDonough said the administration’s presentation was “too complicated” and was “not going over well.”

Another aide said they didn't answer basic questions presented by lawmakers, such as why it was not practical or doable to add another level of certification on top of the current vetting process.
One House Democrat, who requested anonymity, said he went into the meeting with administration officials opposed to the bill but left in support of it.
Emphasis added.

Apparently, the White House expected 'loyalty' from Democratic House members. The reason for this expectation, -- given  its lack of zeal during the last election cycle, and attempts to throw Congressional Democrats under the bus during budget negotiations (that God for Republican intransigence), -- is unclear to me. They have done little to earn loyalty.

For the record, Steve Israel, who is quoted above, is not my favorite Democrat, being a bit of a Blue Dog and to close to Wall Street -- though interestingly he supported both Occupy Wall Street and J Street.

However, he points out the political realities -- which anyone with a desire to lead must deal with -- and the short comings of Obama's governance.  There has been no good attempt to explain and push the policy -- for starters, given the politics, Obama himself should have been involved.

It is not enough to attack the demagogues as demagogues -- as noted in the brilliant blog post Reality Politics  -- one has to make a solid case addressing the issues.

This White House has yet to learn this in seven years.  And I predict, it will help its party lose the position in 2016.***

* This is reference to a famous observation by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., after meeting FDR -- he remarked that unlike Hoover, FDR had"Second-class intellect, first-class temperament," and that this was a good thing. 
** A source I continue to use, despite the injunctions from some as "They...make money off of unpaid writers, and Arianna was a long time buddy with Andrew Breitbart". Credit where credit is due.
***  I make this prediction firmly, and without hesitation -- in hopes that my families track record on such predictions continues: we are generally wrong.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Useful Idiots and Battles We Choose to Fight

I have rather strong feelings about the complexity of understanding history, free expression, and the right to offend -- and a bias in favor of action over display.

I have long wondered (since college) at the various obsessions with PC, White Privilege, marginalization, victimization.

It seems to me, this would be exactly the sort of distraction I would create as a mechanism for dividing opposition to the dominant politics and economics -- as well as undermining support of research, free through, and education.

Specifically, I think that the current spate of campus posturing is probably going to help elect the harder-right wing1.  (That and the condescension surrounding the current security debate , see the brilliant blog post Reality Politics, are likely to give the reactionairies a glide path to electoral success.)

So, I was not displeased to see 's note in the Huffington Post2 Woodrow Wilson, Princeton University, and the Battles We Choose to Fight.

This article contrasts well, I think with Marian Wright Edelman's piece It's Way Past Time for America to Face These Ugly Truths.3 Which is mainly an argument for  a 'guided' introspection, but present no actions that will change reality.

There is an argument that there is nothing so powerful than an idea whose time has come4, that changing minds and raising consciousness is the best way to change reality.

Personally, I am on the side of the larger coalitions, shared interests, and (of course ) bigger battalions5.

Which is why I view the current generation of activists (not unlike many of their failed predecessors) as useful idiots and nothing more.

Or we have met the tools of the enemy, and he,she,it,zee,they, is us6.

  1 I count Hillary and Obama as the mild right wing, at least on economics.
  Which I link to  despite the injunctions from some as "They...make money off of unpaid writers, and Arianna was a long time buddy with Andrew Breitbart".  Credit where credit is due.
 3 Oops did it again.
 4   Victor Hugo 
 5   Voltaire
 6 Apologies to Walt Kelly.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Reality Politics

If you have no use for naivete, there is an article from Mother Jones that is worthwhile viewing: 

Liberals Should Knock Off the Mockery Over Calls to Limit Syrian Refugees.

Along with that by  You might not like Republicans calling for a ban on refugees. But it’s smart politics.

After listing to NPR this is refreshingly honest and insightful.

As a practical matter, respond to people's fears.  Preferably like you know a) what you are doing, and b) as if you really care.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Criminal Justice Reform: Cui Bono

House Bill Would Make It Harder To Prosecute White-Collar Crime

And to think, I was actually wondering why the right was supporting criminal justice reform.

Imams Sing French National Anthem US Reactionairies look for gain.

Two contrasting articles Imams Sing French National Anthem At Bataclan and The Exploitation of Paris [in the United States].

Depending on who wins what is effectively an Islamic civil war no on going, those Imams may be seen as principled traitors.  That is they are will to make an explicit rejection of one side,  a refusal to use or work with its agents, and exposed action.

If they win, of course, they will not be traitors.

Reactionairies in the United States are willing to betray the common wealth for gain, their own interests, and without regard to others who are part of the nation.  This is a preparation for an unprincipled treason.*

This sort of treason take a long time for it to show its head, but I believe it can be indentified by:
  1. Denigration of the state, while being succored by it
  2. Disregard of other loyal members of the common wealth, because of disagreement
  3. Intentionally fomenting discord, instead of discussion
  4. Of making all issues simply fodder to attacking other actors in the polity.
An example of this sort of treason might be seen in the French right. Prior to the Second World War, it strove to undermine the republic, and when given the chance, collaborated  (“mieux vaut Hitler que Blum”), somewhat to the actual annoyance of the Germans.

The current generation of reactionairies would light signal fire on the way to Pearl Harbor and object the surrender in Tokyo Bay rather than work with other Americans.

I know my brother Matthew will chide me for my loose use of the term, viz. the definition in the US Constitution, but I will stick with it for now.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Don't you just hate it when they do something right

Liberty University is requiring its students to attend a Bernie Sanders speech

 Liberty Univserity has semi weekly “convocations,”  required school assemblies, with people and issues it considers important. 

They have invited Bernie Sanders to speak at one, and he has accepted -- as did Ted Kenney and Jesse Jackson, though not, I regret to say, Obama, Biden and Hillary Clinton.

The Chancellor of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr, is reporat at remarking to the effect:

[O]ther “liberal” schools could learn a thing or two from a
purportedly closed, conservative campus like Liberty’s.
When former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was
invited to speak at Rutgers University’s commencement
last spring, students and faculty protested for weeksuntil she voluntarily backed out. Falwell says he’s seen no
such response to the Sanders invite from Liberty’s
own student body.
And in this case, Liberty University has right on its side.

Ask Me about American Heros

Yesterday, August 7 of 2015, Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey died at the age of 101.

Because of what would now be called bureaucratic inertia and government interference, she literally saved the lives and health of thousands of US children.

The rest of the advanced world, including her native Canada, allowed Merrell's drug thalidomide  to be prescribed  as a tranquilizer and painkiller with specific indications to prescribe the drug to pregnant women for morning sickness.

She had only recently joined the FDA, and  "was one of only seven full-time and four young part-time physicians reviewing drugs".

Thalidomide had been on the market in other countries for almost three years, so there was intense pressure from the drug company to approve.

Despite this, she performed her job, requiring more information on that drug because of reported adverse external studies (in particular an English study that documented a nervous system side effects) before approval.

By 'preventing US citizens from having the benefits of new medical technology', the United States was largely spared the at least 10,000 cases of phocomelia (malformation of the limbs) in new borns, with a mortality of 50%.

Perhaps she should be on the $10 bill*.

*Personal Rant: Hamilton, who created the US finance system, should stay on our money.  The more problematic (though populist) Jackson should go.