Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Gun Safety Movement Plan Proposal

Here are some ideas I propose, not flippantly, but without hope.

  1. Develop a plan described as gun safety, including training, relevant checking, as much tracking as we do for auto parts, and some requirement for an explanation of use.  Publicize the plan, showing how it will have some effect on safety, and also how it will not effect "law abiding citizens".

  2. Concretely promise to ensure safe exercise of gun rights for reasonable usages, such as hunting,  recreation and target practice (you could even work an intelligent way to allow people to use automatic weapons to blow things up -- I'm a guy, I can relate to that).

    Again, make the protections clear.

  3. Have laws regarding public use of weapons compatible with those of, say the early, republic -- e.g. casual carry was not allowed in most circumstance, nor were guns allowed in certain parts of cities, and registration was often practiced in urban areas.  Do this is called following original intent.
  4. Work the issue of gun safety (and yes I chose the term carefully) politically and hard.

    Michael Blumberg's PAC actually brought down some pro NRA DINO last cycle.

    This will mean relentless repeating the hard gun rights position, over and over again, and demanding to know if politicians explicitly support each and every position. 

    Force them to choose, if they differ from the NRA, even a little, trumpet it and publicize it.

    If not, using the most unpopular of the positions (and after picking the targets) go after them, at first low key (politicians will know) and expect to loose at first.  But keep it up.
This will require political organization and discipline, which is why I offer it without hope.

But for those of you who love a petition, I have only for you through' site. 

The petition, given my love of irony, is primarily to, but you can see it here

Friday, July 20, 2012

False decision

A friend pointed me at a recent article (What America needs to decide: Is health care a market good or social good? (Julie Mack column) ), which emphasizes, to me at least, the problem with some much of passes for political analysis on the left: Goo-gooism and plain poor argumentation.  It's almost as if these folks don't want to win the political argument.

Take for instance this false dichotomy:
"We haven't resolved the core question," she said. "Is health care a market good? Or a social good?"

If it's a market good, then "we're all on our own," she said. If it's a social good, then there needs to be universal access,  in the same way that we've long had free public education for grades K-12.      

Ain't that begging the question?  Whether social education is a "social good" is being debated.

Why can't we sully our hands and make practical arguments. 

It is easy to make solid arguments that universal health care would portray it as an economic "good", and for that matter even an national defense "good." 

Granted this required making arguments, which can be challenged, and defending them.  Which is harder that just saying something is a "social good".  Not much harder, mind.

One can well argue the "social good" argument is up there with God's will -- either you buy it or you don't but you can't argue it.

This is of course a logical, calculated, and non-emotive argument. It is a frightening argument to some, because such and must entertain the value of health or education to the economy and the functioning of the state and society, it must establish criteria, it must entertain the pros of the opposition position. 

The article goes on to beg another question:
Yet if health care is a market good, that comes with the realization that some people will die for lack of health care. "Is that the country we want to be?"
It make me long for Chairman Mao: "People die all the time."
Don't beg the question, realize that whatever decision is made, different people will live and different people will die, some will be better off, some will be worse,

It is sullying to give arguments that make us understand that overall this country will be healthier, richer, or more secure.  It might even get the policies approved.

Armed Propganda

In the 60's and 70's various left wing terror groups used to speak of 'armed propaganda.'

No one seems to remember the idea, but it does seem to work.

What sparked this thought on my part was an article on the aftermath of the Norwegian mass shooting of last year (Norway after Breivik: Populists Gain Lost Ground - SPIEGEL ONLINE), and one comment in particular:
Oslo-based historian Einhart Lorenz, who studies right-wing populism in Norway, has been astounded by the gains the party [the right-wing populist Progress Party (FrP)] is starting to show again. "Even if there is no direct responsibility, there is at least an association between the xenophobic atmosphere that the FrP has created and July 22," Lorenz says.
When one remembers the surge in the militia movement's profile following the Oklahoma City Bombing, or the effect of the implied violence by the Tea party in 2009, (or for that matter the rise in prestige of a minor Bavarian party or an unstable Venezuelan colonel following failed putchs ) I don't see how this can be a surprise.

Armed propaganda, particularly on the right, work.  Perhaps it is because all the rest of us do is wring our hands, and be fair. There are necks need wringing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Microsoft’s $6.2 Billion Writedown

This article in the Daily Beast (Microsoft’s $6.2 Billion Writedown Shows It’s Losing War With Google - The Daily Beast) is one of many that are a just cause for scharden freude for a number of people I know personally, member of aQuantive when it was bought out.

I can't recall, however, any article talking about the main reason the purchase failed.

There is talk about changing markets, etc, but from the evidence I have seen the reason was simple: Microsoft management system. 

After the acquisition, upper management paid little attention to the integration.

Of course, the new people were moved about and cherry picked needlessly, but the biggest damage was in how the acquisitions organizational structure -- which seemed to work -- was abandoned in favor of Microsoft's.

This entailed destroying the identity of the acquisition and its products through division and by housing its members in various existing Microsoft's divisions that had been in the same field .

This meant putting the acquired people and technology with, and generally under the direction of those people who had failed to produce a competitive product in the first place. So the technology was diluted and trashed.

This is absolutely the norm at Microsoft -- and though they may have worse management than most companies -- common in acquisitions.

I would be interesting in knowing why this is not being discussed in the press about the write down.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Did Scalia Scare Off Roberts? - The Daily Beast

Based on my vast* experience reading court history, this article make sense.

 Did Scalia Scare Off Roberts? - The Daily Beast

It is some technical, regarding the point about the dissent over reaching on severability, but if it is a valid analysis the case, then Roberts was acting under a rule of law understanding. 
Any objective legal observer would tell you (and I'm trying to be one here) that the dissent's treatment of the severability issue is detached from 200 years of constitutional law.... It also includes a citation to a quote that Harry Reid gave to the New York Times in Janauary 2010 concerning the bill --- this from at least two justices (Scalia and Thomas) who routinely say that any use of legislative history is a sham .... In any event, rather than holding the mandate costitutional and those portions of the bill inextricably linked with it (guaranteed issue/community rating), four members of the Court were primed to throw the whole bill out. That level of judicial activism, in a context like this one, would be nearly unprecedented.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Kennedy dissented because he would not be allowed to write the majority opinion in support.  Getting the write the opinion seems to be his bribe.

Still, the below applies to me as well...

*See Car Talk -- which is probably as sensible an authority on this issue as I or Clarence Thomas are.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dear Mr Sendak

About two weeks ago, I was attending a meeting ... trying to look like I was taking notes.

Instead, I was doodling with words.  I was thinking of rude parodies of the opening of great poems -- the night before I had been reading a children's version of the Odessy to my son -- and then something else took my fancy and this came out.

I was looking for a way to send this to its subject, but couldn't figure out how.  Well, now it is too late, so I thought I would put it here.

Sing muse of the man of many wilds.
And how his Max wrought changes to children's publishing...
To the gnashing of teeth of  fools and bettelheims...
Sending the souls of little Jewish boys, big nosed and wicked
in paroxysms of recognition.  We were all Vilde Chaya.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Antioch College: Stamping on your message

General rule of thumb, even if you're a enlightened, liberal cop* person who knows all about sensitivity:

When writing a (likely form) letter representing an educational institution, it is a good idea to, oh I don't know, proof it.

*See Douglas Adams

Sunday, March 18, 2012

No, I do not "Want to become a 99% trainer?"

An email with the following text was delivered to me that other day:
Dear MoveOn member,

Inspired by the everyday heroes of Occupy Wall Street, this spring people everywhere are getting ready for a surge of action to confront the 1%.

To prepare, dozens of groups from across the progressive movement are starting with an unprecedented and ambitious goal for the 99% Spring: to train 100,000 people in nonviolent direct action, in the spirit of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks.
I say no.

There was a time I had some hopes that might prove an effective advocate for policies I support, that it would use its resources to effectively support ideas and candidates with policies I share, and most importantly, actually spend time educating and building a constituency for these ideas.

Say what you like about the reactionaries, they have spent the last 30 years do these things. They have
  • Used mass media to explain their theories, and why they are better.
  • Popularized goals and objects and made them part of the political discussion through poltical organizing and outreach.
  • Created a cadre of individuals who are willing to take on public office at all levels of govenment to implement their policies.
  • Created a core group of constituencies who are loyal to their cause -- even against their own interested.
Let us put that another way, they have play practical electoral politics effectively.  In the course of this they have created a separate reactionary nationalism, which while at odds with the views of many, has no counter balance.

Now wants me to devote resources to 'confront the 1%'.  One can only assume they mean more 'grassroots organizing',  'consensus planning', and  'occupation'. That is to say more feel good politics.

We need to organize and motivate large numbers of people, get them to the polls, provide them with candidates who not only support our goals but have an understanding of how to do that.

Whatever their spirit, Gandhi, King, and Parks were also savvy operators.  They built coalitions, created defining symbols and messages, used media, and changed the behaviors of large numbers of people.

In a recent break of the tradition of preaching to the choir, actually made a half way decent add designed to create a wedge with GOP voters.  Now,it needs to create adds explaining why taxing the rich is a good job creation strategy, why anti-union laws depress all wages and kill jobs, and I could go on and on.

They point is to sell our ideas clearly and simply -- which is doable with out deceit  -- and use our resources to counter the strength of the reactionaries.

The first obligation of a political movement is to obtain power.  Nothing else matters if that is not obtained.

Spend money where it will work, punish political figures who have betrayed us, make the movement into a base.

But no, wants protest leaders.  There is a simple reason why Republican fear their base, and Democrats have contempt for their.

Friday, March 2, 2012

You make the call.

This photo came from the Iranian Parliamentary elections.

I'm not sure it counts as foolish, brave, or clueless.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

De mortuis nil nisi bonum? Andrew Breitbart

I accept John Avalon of the Daily Beast's admonition "that reveling* in the fact that  [Andrew Breitbart] life is over is ‘uncool.’" [emphasis added], as death is the common fate.

But I do not have the Roman fear of lemures , and we are told "The evil that men do lives after them" (Julius Caesar, III,ii), nor apparently does his fellow Republican David Frum: becomes difficult to honor the Roman injunction to speak no ill of the dead. It’s difficult for me to assess Breitbart’s impact upon American media and American politics as anything other than poisonous. When one of the leading media figures of the day achieves his success by his giddy disdain for truth and fairness—when one of our leading political figures offers to his admirers a politics inflamed by rage and devoid of ideas—how to withhold a profoundly negative judgment on his life and career? (Andrew Breitbart 1969-2012):

Nicely summarized, I think. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Two Cheers for Gay Marriage

You probably know that the Washington State legislature has passed and the Governor was signed an act for the recognition of gay same sex marriage.

(As a side note, If you are interested in a perspective on the same-sex marriage issue and how elected political in Washington state -- and in what my mother used to call goo-goos -- fails, I suggest you look at When there's no cost to them, Olympia's liberals stand strong. It make a very good case as to why in a special session devoted to a budget deficit, this is all that would be produced.)

The debate about same-sex marriage, on both sides, misses the main point: marriage is not about "love" or "sex".  It is about the creation and accounting of economic units which can accumulate property (which historically includes children), and the maintenance of kinship organization (which is also about property).

Societies and the state need to track such units so as a resolve problems of ownership.  Marriage law, even and especially religious marriage law ,is dominantly about property -- who has access to it, how it is inherited, how it can be separated.  That is, it is contractual.  Definitions of marriage, and its legal status, have always reflected this, for example the reason that monogamous marriage is the norm in west, and now the world, that it simplifies property issues. 

Gay individuals are forming kinship units, accumulating property, having offspring in significant numbers.

It is in the interest of the the state and society that such units be allowed to be regularized, as it would  to facilitate the management of property, assign responsibility the care of children, and clarify kinship relations (for example next of kin in medical cases).

For the most part, I have supported domestic partnership laws over same-sex marriage as they could be tailored to satisfy these interests with minimal change to existing law -- a Fabian approach.  I am always chary of changing something with a lot of history. Granted this is perhaps pettifogging.

(Interestingly, in the United Kingdom they have a fairly strong domestic partnership law and little agitation
for same-sex marriage.  Also in the UK, according to surveys, males have a greater interest in partnership than females -- which is the reverse of the US and Canada.  These differences might make an interesting research topic for someone.)

There probably has been enough experience with domestic partnership laws and examples of drafting same sex marriage laws here and around the world, that the reasons for my preference are no longer relevant.

So, let's proceed with this.  Hopefully, we will survive the referendum -- it would be nice to solve a social issue without recourse to court intervention -- and the statute will be maintained.

But please, let us not talk about love, human rights, or values -- we are talking about a property issue.

Put another way, I welcome same sex couples to the right to pay alimony and child support.