Thursday, May 27, 2010

Missed Opportunity

I have often said that I would like to be an evil henchman when I grow up.

Here is an example of that sort of thinking.

The Obama administration has missed a wonderful opportunity to take lemons and make lemonade -- that is to bash the Republicans -- on immigration.

He should not have sent the National Guard down there, nor taken any other action.

Instead, he should have said he was carrying out the policy of Congress and the legacy of the Bush administration -- which is correct practice -- pending a new immigration bill.

Then Obama could, "I would like to add these National Guard and other changes to secure the boarder, but the Republicans are having a fit of pique.  It seems that by trying to increase the priority of the immigration reform, over the energy bill, some members of the opposition such as Lindsey Graham have had their feelings hurt. Well too bad, we need the reform, and they should help, so I can beef up things on the boarder."

It has the advantage of being largely true.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Jews For Jesus Founder Dies

From the site*: Jews For Jesus Founder Dies. (Posted using ShareThis)

The discussion on that site  is modestly interesting. I select three that caught my eye...

  1. The author of the blog writes:
    "Actually, what Rosen was is a deceitful man who lied, cheated and misrepresented to ensnare vulnerable Jews. May his name and his memory be blotted out."
  2. A party identified as Mr. Apikoros**
    "But for you to say that Martin Rosen's name should be "blotted out" shows that you're ... intolerant... We have freedom of religion in this country, and that includes the freedom for a Jew to convert to Christianity."
  3. An A. Nuran writes:
    "His name should not be blotted out. If it is we will forget what he did and be more vulnerable to that sort of con in the future. Better it should live ... as a warning to us all."
I have some agreement with all three. 

My initial, visceral reaction coincides with the author's rather traditional phraseology.  The author could have added that Rosen should have not place in the word to come.

My secular side agree with Apikoros, but with a cavet. The pusillanimous nature of pretending that conversion is not leaving the people is not forgivable to me, particularly given history.  Though I defend the right of these people to do what they do, and anger me.

As a practical matter A. Nuran has a rather wise insight into how to deal with those who do us evil.

Blotting out is not so good as remembering with an edge.

*The messiah specifically referred to in the website name
  is Mendel Schneerson.

**Apikoros is probably a corruption of the Greek  term "Epicurean", and
   reflecting the view -- widely held by during antiquity and not by Jews alone
   -- that Epicureans were a literally godless. 

   Strictly speaking it designates a person who rejects normative Judaism,
   rabbinic tradition, or who insists that God is not active in the world.

   Currently it is used, mostly by the orthodox, to describe anyone holding
   heretical or heterodox views.  Like me...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Curse you ....

Thanks to Dan Froomkin
                                       Stuart Varney

                                                                       James Galbraith

         and the 'Naked Keynesianism' At The University Of Texas, Says Fox News (VIDEO)
I desparately need to find mental steel wool.

I have to get the idea of naked economists out of my head.

Rand Paul supporters accused of voter intimidation, ACORN soon to be blamed

This reminds me of the old joke about a Jew reading anti-semitic newspapers, "I like to read this because according to them, we rule the world..."

Rand  Paul supporters accused of voter intimidation.
                  ACORN soon to be blamed                      

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


My despair has been twigged by two recent items in the media: first, the expulsion of reporters from the "trials" at Guantanamo (Veteran Reporter Barred From Guantanamo) ; the second Charles Krauthammer's slightly triumphalist column A consensus on Miranda?

There are several way I can relate these two issues, but the gloomiest connection is that in both cases, the current administration is surrendering on the national security front.

Although one shouldn't rule out incompetent management of the issues, the motivation seems to be to avoid being challenged as "soft on terror,"  and a related unwillingness to challenge the military.

This also appears to have been the reason in the surrender on the issue of civilian trials (see White House drops plan for New York City terror trials), and Obama's vote on FISA in 2008 (see Obama's FISA Shift ).

The long-term goals of the neo-cons like Krauthammer and Liz Cheney,   in trying to avoid using the criminal justice system are not clear to me -- I will avoid a paranoid ranting -- though the short-term undermining the administration is undeniable.

You have to admire their effectiveness.

The long-term results are potentially disastrous, both for liberty and for security.

Considering liberty, I have to ask don't the people among the neo-cons and in the administration  remember why criminal rights were developed? (The same could be said about Tony Blair and the abridgment  of the right to silence.)

They were not really created to protect criminal defendants, but to prevent political manipulation of the criminal process.

This is why the Hutaree terrorists (see Militia Charged With Plotting to Murder Officers) were not denied Miranda warnings and  termed illegal enemy combatants. For that matter, why  Randy Weaver was not denied those rights.

The possibility of  using these techniques for harassing those speak out are obvious and not hypothetical (see Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project).

The arguments that we are at war (which I would suggest we are not, as Congress has never declared a state of war, merely authorized force), and that Muslim terrorist were caught in the act are not germane.

If we were really to be at war, then we would be taking prisoners of war.  This does not preclude  trials for war crimes for some, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

This would answer the question of prolonged detention -- you keep prisoners until the war is over -- and remove the absurdity of trying someone for throwing a grenade at solider.

Of course,  being prisoner of war is a privilege.  Criminals aren't treated as gently.

To paraphrase a story MacArthur told, when, not if, a member of our armed forces is captured and tortured, without recourse to their rights as a combatant, I am glad that they can curse Obama, Bush, Krauthammer and Cheney; but not the citizens who wanted the law followed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

MoveOn.Org Seattle Council Meeting

Following attending a community forum, I attended a MoveOn Council meeting.

In theory, the Councils are "MoveOn members who work together locally to organize MoveOn events".  This is  supposed to be sort  of a combination focus group, and core membership team. It is also supposed "a great way to meet other MoveOn members", as I fall into the "I love mankind, it is people I can't stand," school of politics, I find the latter something of a chore.

The issue that we are supposed to be rallying  to challenge one out-of-control corporations, most specifically "person hood" of corporations.  

The genesis of this focus was, of course, a reaction to the Citizen's United v FEC and Davis v. Federal Election Commission, decision.

There was a lot of talk about "participation" being the theory behind their efforts -- which was sort of disappointing as that isn't a political theory.  I suppose I am old fashioned, but I really think that a political theory is needed in a political movement...and that participation should be organized by working with people who accept most of the theory.

I was, as usual, a  something of a contrarian. Specifically, before we go forward fixing the corporate establishment, I wanted to know what they meant by  "corporation".  I assume they meant the joint stock/limited liability companies where the stock holders don't have much control.

At one level, I think that this is a correct understanding and what really needs to be address.  However, the issue was discussed mainly in terms of "getting money our of politics." This may be useful, but does not go as far as I would like.

What we are talking about is means of organizing and governing economic organizations on an an on going basis.

I know that there is some serious thinking about how to define and manage this sort of corporation, but I personally am not really familiar with more than some main currents.  I had hoped when I asked what was meant by a corporation I might get an answer.

Similarly, I really wanted to get a better answer to the question of the theory behind the movement.

It may make me sound like someone from working on the Popular Front in the 1930', but I think that actually addressing the theory of state and economy we plan to be working with (first defining a theory and then getting assent or acceptance from participants)  makes politics actually effective.  Frankly for all their loopiness the right wing does have a theory.

The upshot of the meeting to organize calling parties to get Sen. Patty Murray to sign on to the Fair Elections Now Act.  Worthwhile I suppose, but considering that Obama opted out of the campaign finance for president, probably largely irrelevant.

It was all a bit disappointing, but not surprising. There may be a kernel of a new party -- and I say that rather than movement, because parties govern -- but there is also a lot of the old chaff.  A lot of feeling and not much thinking. 

But as they say in bad magazine articles, time will tell.

Friday, May 7, 2010

An introduction, such as it is

Why is this blog being written? 

Why is any blog written?

I argue about ideas with myself from time to time --  while washing up, listening to an inane NPR report, or during the small hours. Generally, I don't listen to what I say (see "I talk to myself" by Free Hot Lunch), which is all well and good.

But sometimes, I do spend some work on the idea, so I thought I would try the discipline of writing, and see if I can make something or them.

These posting constitute my "strange writings, the start chart/On the inner walls."