Monday, November 23, 2009

Senatorial Sticks

I've spent a lot of years watching Democrats get rolled on anything remotely resembling the public good and I expect to see quite a few more years of the same thing. That is because I see the public good from somewhere well left of the center. I understand that.

Looking at the health care reform actions in the House and the Senate I'm not surprised how things are working out. What I am incensed about is the Caucus' inability to show the recalcitrant members the sticks that are in their hands. Chairmanships and Seats on Committees are a start. There is a hell of a lot more.

Elected officials at the federal level need badly to show the folks at home that they bring benefits along with their office holding. Any bill you can think of contains stuff that is narrowly focused to that end. There is absolutely no reason whatever that the stuff has to stay in a bill other than collegiality. Senator Lieberman, would you like to write some of that stuff into a bill? Well, here's a real good question for you, how did you vote on a filibuster? Do you, Sen Lieberman, think your Chairmanship is important? Why should anyone think your vote for the Caucus will be forthcoming in the future if you're not whacked? Somebody might be able to remember the 2008 election at this point in time.

I've reached the point of no return with this. I understand that the junk measure in front of the Senate at this time is the best you could get in front of the Senate. That doesn't mean it isn't junk compared to the need, it just means that is what could get done at this point. Alright, if you can't get this piece of offal into a vote because your own Caucus won't do it, then why is it I should put anymore effort into you if they get to do that for free?

I'm not being a purist, I just want a vote on something that remotely resembles health care reform. If you let this handful of Senators blow this up without clear consequences, then I'm done with you. Clear done. You may be the good guys and that's really nice, but in the world where I live there are consequences to actions. Being an activist isn't so much fun that I can't see my way to walk away from everyone of you all the way down to town officials. It isn't much of a threat taken by itself, but if someone as stubborn and ornery as I am is on the edge, it might be something to think about.

Nobody has to vote against their conscience to allow a vote to happen. They can certainly vote against passage and should be able to do so without Caucus revenge, but to stop a Democratic initiative from coming to a vote isn't acceptable. If about 56 Democratic Senators can't lean on the remainder of the Caucus, then what good are you? Why should I care if Republicans get another opportunity to run the place into the ditch if the only difference is the initial after a title as far as results are concerned? Is there some reason to believe that unless it involves a Corporate/Banking/HealthInc giveaway this same bunch won't just filibuster again?

Your call on how you handle your Caucus, my call on how I waste my time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Federal Tax Code Games - Supply Side Bull****

At one time the top federal income tax rate was 95%. That immediately strikes people as wrong. It seems the federal government is trying to run solely on the backs of the wealthy and it seems like confiscation. It seems like this because people forget that the tax code is not only about raising revenue, it is also about achieving social and economic ends. This "sin taxes" are all about, the goal of cigarette taxes isn't so much to raise revenue as it is to discourage smoking.

If you play along for a moment, a 95% rate only applies to the amount earned above the next lower rate - not the entire income. The first $20K of a gadzillionaire's money is taxed at exactly the same rate as a burger flipper's. (all this neglects the effects of FICA and tax code allowances) Now that 95% applying only to a "narrow" sliver of income should make it clear that it isn't about revenue (unless you posit there is a reason to try to get that 5% left), what it is about is discouraging grasping for that last piece of the pie. There is an absolutely closed system within companies, there is just so much money to pay for labor, salary, capital investment, share holder disbursements.

There is a reason that 40 years ago the CEO multiple of wage earners income was a fraction of what it is today - there wasn't any point in getting it. The slashing of the top income bracket rates means that they are free to grasp for any amount they can get and keep it. You don't have to look too hard to understand that the capital gains tax reduction and income tax reduction coincide with crushed labor compensation.

Sure, there are other reason as well - and they pale in comparison. This is the triumph of greed over the common good. Supply side economics my ass - you've been sold a bill of goods.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Indugling In Teabaggery

No, they're not kidding.

I love the voice-over.

You do have to ask yourself where these people were during BushCo.

Well, he was white...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Of Kisses And Bows And Stupidity

This is courtesy

This is obsequious

And we live in a nation with a large dumbass quotient. If you were curious about a representative one, Bush flack Andrew Malcolm goes stupid in LA Times.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Republicans Scared Of Trials - Surprise! Update, Mewling Puking Cowards

Sen Kit Bond (R-MO) finds it inappropriate, in fact a disaster for the Federal government to try Khalid Sheikh Mohamad in a NYC court. This on the basis that Mohamad will have the protections of law, in Bond's words - the rights - of criminal defendants. He sees it as an insult to the memories of the victims to try him within blocks of the sites and to give him the opportunity to propagandize Americans. He thinks it is the first time "war captured individuals" have been given such and opportunity. This from an interview with Andrea Mitchell this morning.

Maybe it's the (R) after Bond's name, but Senators are sworn to uphold the Constitution of the US, whether it seems convenient or not. Let's start somewhere near the beginning of this sort of story, if Mohamad is brought to public trial it doesn't matter where the trial is, he gets to have his say and that would be in front of Americans - propagandizing them. If he is proposing a secret trial, he must have another legal system in mind - a rather authoritarian one. There also seems to be an assumption that Mohamad would persuade Americans with propaganda. I'm not too sure where that comes from, it would seem reasonable to me that those who would agree would agree anyhow - considering the accusations.

As for the insult part, I'm not sure how that works other than in his fevered partisan imagination. The victims of crimes are ordinarily offered the opportunity to, at the very least, observe if not participate. The insult occurred on September 11, and seemingly once again when Bond's type assume Americans can't handle trials. The entire point of a trial is to prove that the party is guilty of the accusations and that the government had the right and correctly proceeded against them. That last part is the absolute kicker - the most powerful entity in our nation is shown to have behaved correctly. Bond seems to be of that authoritarian frame of mind that the government is always right - despite membership in the Party of NO.

As more (R) folks pile onto this mess of their making it seems to me that the issue has nothing to do with the security of the nation and everything to do with stirring up the base. One of the most powerful vehicles this nation has in opposition to fear, hatred, and bigotry is our ability to take governmental action in the open and to proceed fairly. Perhaps, they'd prefer the option of fear, hatred, and bigotry.

That'd be real surprise...


In a real surprising development there are additions to the crybaby Bond. Pant stain additions,
McCain, Sessions, Kyl, hold your breath if you think this is the end of the Republican pants wetters. Mewling puking cowards like this give aid and comfort - crap you know the line.


Because the last thing I'd do would be to subscribe to a blog run by idiots of the particularly partisan stripe; I have to bring this to you courtesy of John Cole at Balloon Juice. I don't like to poach wholesale from sites, but this is too ... something:
Today Barack Obama is going to announce that the terrorist mastermind of September 11th, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be sent to New York City for a criminal trial in a civilian court.

In that trial, the terrorist will get all the rights afforded an American citizen in a criminal trial, including the right to a fair trial, the right to a taxpayer funded attorney, the right to review all the evidence against him, potentially including classified intelligence matters, the right to exclude evidence against him including, potentially, any confession obtained through enhanced interrogation techniques, etc.

At best, this will be a show trial fit not for the American Republic, but a third world kleptocratic totalitarian regime. At worse, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will gain access to classified material he can then leak to other terrorists while New York yet again becomes a target for terrorists. We have already had occasions in this country where terrorists’ sympathetic lawyers have conveyed information, orders, and plans to other terrorists.

You can find more details here.

Call your Congressman and Senator right now. Tell them they should use every tool at their disposal to block this. The number to call is 202-224-3121.

Sincerely yours,

Erick Erickson

Now I'm confused about the rights provided defendants in US Courts resulting in "At best, this will be a show trial fit not for the American Republic, but a third world kleptocratic totalitarian regime." So if you have the misfortune to find yourself in a US Court you will be engaging in a show trial? If you didn't get those rights wouldn't that qualify as a show trial as practiced by regimes we're actually familiar with?

I'm not sure how stupid the Editor at Red State is, but,"Mohammed will gain access to classified," couldn't be a much more ridiculous statement. The SCOTUS ruled on the government's right to control classified information and set the bar really low, allowing, in fact, information already public to be with-held. The government will use experienced and well qualified prosecutors in this case - they do need to win - so the idea that they'd be as ignorant and inept as Erick is pretty ludicrous.

If Republican Senators weren't already piling on with the same level of "intelligence" as this post I'd just ignore it as one more example of right wing bed-wetting. Consider this, Republican federally elected officials are taking their talking points from a third rate intellectually challenged red meat partisan outfit. These idiots want to pretend that they're qualified to be a part of the leadership of the United States of America?

I understand partisan politics, I have positions within the Democratic Party of Oregon, so the chances are that I engage in some. If I were stupid enough to get blind drunk and then further stupid enough to shoot off my mouth; I would not assail one of the foundations of our form government. I cannot understand how people continue to buy the tough guy hard talk from this bunch as they wet their pants at every possible opportunity. Are there kindergartners they're not afraid of? They keep waving their stained drawers in front of the American public as though there is some advantage in it.

Color me flabbergasted...

Doomed To Repeat History

George Santayana is credited with the quote, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." This is indeed a pretty astute observation, it is also used in contexts where it is meaningless. History is not a collection of dates and names, battles lost and won; it is really a quite complex exercise. History is the study of entire societies, not narrow aspects of them and understanding outcomes of certain actions takes a lot more depth than simplistic quotes.

One that has been getting a lot play lately regards Afghanistan as the burial ground of empires. It is entirely accurate to note that empires have foundered on the shoals of Afghanistan, it is foolish to take more from it than that. If one proposes to play conqueror of Afghanistan there is a lesson for you right there. To take that particular aim and broaden it to any action taken in regard to Afghanistan puts entirely too large a load on narrow shoulders.

I do not know all the alternatives that were available to GWB in regard to Afghanistan in the beginning, there were more than the one he chose. We can see how the one he chose has played out as he ran it. This is what we do know. It would be reasonable to think that the way forward should not be an extension of the same failures.

We not only need to know how to proceed in Afghanistan now, we also need to understand what has gone wrong. We need to know that, not so much to know how to go on, but to avoid a similar mistake in the future - now is not then. I think it is optimistic to see the situation leading up to our action in Afghanistan as a one off, as something the future may not present us with again. Not many places on earth are Afghanistan, but things that pertain in Afghanistan are not that unique, hostile geography is scarcely a feature of only Afghanistan. Tribalism and barely governable areas within a country aren't just Afghanistan's difficulties. Most of what makes Afghanistan a really difficult proposition for the US right now are features you would find in a place that presented us with a similar problem.

There is no "do-over" in Afghanistan now, we have what we have now to deal with. I really hope some part of the government is taking a real serious look at what went wrong so that we do not repeat it. I hope we look a bit deeper into our tool kit and find one appropriate.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans' Day Sen Coburn

Sen Tom Coburn (R-OK) is a doctor, yes a medical doctor. He also postures as a fiscal conservative. Maybe it is no surprise that he put a personal hold on the Senate bill to increase VA coverage for disabled vets and their care-takers on the basis that how it is paid for isn't demonstrated. A principled stand?

The amount of principle involved might have some question when you consider that he voted for the unfunded War supplemental in 2005. He admitted that and stated that he was new and it was the only time. That would be a true statement if it weren't for the 2006 vote he made for the unfunded War supplemental. So, that would make him an unprincipled liar?

Perhaps the fact that those votes paid to make disabled veterans of everyone during that period and he's running around on Veterans' Day kissing the flag and contrasting his support of the troops with the dirty Demonrats a charge of hypocrisy could be made.

So that might make him a hypocritical unprincipled lying fake patriot. Well, Oklahoma - you elected this particular type of human detritus to the Senate. Nah, I wouldn't live in your state, not for large money.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Confederate Party of Republicanism Believes ... What?

I have a pretty strong handle on what I believe and what I think. I have been known to oppose some things pretty vehemently and to propose things. I am a member of the Democratic Party and I have a pretty general idea of what binds us together. Then there is the CPoR.

It is apparent what they oppose - The Democrat Party. It would be fair to say I oppose that bunch, but I can't seem to find any ideas to oppose, just a mindless CPoR hate fest. (in the Congress of the US they can't even manage the correct name) (they can't maintain decorum -You Lie Wilson, Health Reform Debate)

If you're going to call something an idea or a policy it must have some sort of internal logic and that is just flat missing. One of the latest themes is that the CPoR is The Party of Fiscal Responsibility. They wish to be forgiven their behavior under GWB because ... well, he's damn unpopular and they lost - an aberration. Well, OK - in the spirit of collegiality let's give them that. They assert that the Democratic plans will explode the deficit (true or not) and should be opposed. The same people, exactly the same people, scream that Obama should just send a gadzillion more troops to Afghanistan as though that were free or something. They don't say anything about paying for it, Obama is simply a ditherer.

Out of some stupid sense of fairness let's forget their adamant opposition to Medicare and attempts to kill it. They scream that policies to remove the "Donut Hole" and strip out fraud and waste are efforts to "kill Granny." No, that's not just an astro-turfing website, it goes on in Congressional speeches. They hate Medicare because it's wasteful and such and yet it is untouchable. It is socialized medicine but the Demonrats will kill granny.

If the CPoR is confronted about the Iraq War their first response is that the intelligence was faulty which would indicate that the decision process was flawed by using bad information but Obama is dithering. If he stops to figure out what is best that is dithering but massive screw-ups are the fault of some amorphous 'them' intelligence guys.

The first policy refuge the CPoR goes to is tax cuts, all the while they screech about fiscal conservatism. They would have you believe that less tax revenue equals more tax revenue even in the face of all evidence that it isn't so - including CPoR tax increases by the same crowd to repair the hole.

The CPoR is the Big Tent Party all the while cutting the throat of their own (R) member's throat in a political campaign. The BTP is the one that holds a rally/press conference on the Capital steps and can't see the proud signs bearing hate messages. The signs everyone else could see. The House Minority Leader "didn't see any offensive signs." It isn't as though the stage lights were in his eyes and he couldn't see past the front row.

The CPoR has presented itself over the years as the Party of Adults, apparently in contrast to the dirty hippies of the 60s. Now I don't want to be gratuitously mean, but the film of the August town halls and the teabaggery rallies isn't a model most would have their children emulate in the grocery store. Now it would be unfair to tar a Party, even the PoA, with the brush of a loon fringe element - it would be if that Party wasn't egging them on in speeches and even inviting them to harass Congress in its halls. It also would seem a bit Adult to know the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence or to possibly get the Pledge of Allegiance right when you're ranting about keeping the 1950s addition to it.

The late history of the Republican Party had it as the Party of Business. It would seem to still be true if you call Wall Street and HealthInc business. As individual donors to the CPoR that would be true but it isn't in terms of jobs and taxes. Business is being ruined by health care costs and tight credit.

The CPoR can't get its act in order in regard to governmental interference in public life. If it has to do with gayness, reproduction, or pretty much anything to do Civil Liberties beyond the Second Amendment they want to interfere. If it is health care they propose the the interference of a faceless for profit bureaucrat is preferable - despite outcomes. This part, of course, is called Free Market. The really big problem there is that other than voting for advantages for some particular interest or client they cannot show ever supporting the idea. That it has never existed in the US or anywhere else is only a quibble.

The one idea that I can seem to find is that they are The Real Americans. From the signs and rhetoric it is evident that the real ones are white Christian heterosexual war mongers. The unfortunate truth for them as a national political party is that they are right about being the CPoR. I have no idea where Republicans who aren't CPoR are supposed to go, honestly, Democrats have enough problems without them.

*** If you can think of anything they actually do believe in comments is open ***

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Self-interest And Morality

I've avoided this for a long time. This started as a discussion of whether laws were moral. I asserted that they were not and the rejoinder was that all laws flowed out of morality. I insisted that the use of force left that claim out and that what they are is a social contract to allow us to co-exist. To use an extreme example, murder isn't illegal because it is immoral, if that were the case the State wouldn't do it, soldiers wouldn't, there'd be no exceptions. It is illegal because it's dangerous and we can't live together if it isn't illegal. It is a matter of logic. I was challenged to show that a system of morality involved logic. If you're not interested this would be a good time to leave because this isn't simple, it isn't a matter of appealing to a book of regulations.

I am alive and I exist in an inter-dependent system and I want to do well.
The health of that system directly affects my well being.
I am the actor, I am the motivator, I am ultimately responsible.
It is in my self-interest to maintain that system.
My actions have outcomes that bear on my well being.

Now let's hold the train for a moment. Self-interest is not the same thing as selfishness and greed. Religions last because they hold within them the elements of a successful social contract. (it just doesn't matter if it is the word of god or not) If you take their tenets apart with that in mind you can find internal logic without appealing to a god as an authority. There are variants on the theme, but saving your soul is the object, this is the ultimate in self-interest and refers explicitly to long term thinking. Where I'm going isn't nearly as heretical as it might seem.

Self-interest is the basis of this moral construct.

So, can't you just do as you please? Well certainly, but there will be outcomes that will bear on you. Can't I just steal or whatever? Doing so will have bad effects on your interdependent system and victims will not like it or you and may most likely harm you. But what if I can get away with it? It isn't likely, and it sure isn't a certainty, not to mention that you have harmed the system you depend on. Why shouldn't I just take every bit I can get and screw you - greed? The system will break down if you do, people will be put into the position of taking it away to survive.

Do I want to be loved? It is a very valuable survival tool to have. If I want that then I'd best run my show in a manner that is lovable. If I give I improve my surroundings. The better everyone in the system does the better my long term business/economic interests are served. If you don't have you cannot trade with me, the more you have the more we can do of that. If you do not trust me you will not engage with me. Having sub-units of the system (friends/family) is important to mental health and social stability, if I want that then I'd best take care of it. If self-interest is the driver then why would I advocate for something like gay marriage as a hetero-sexual? The system doesn't work well with a second class citizenship, important details are thrown out of whack by it creating a dysfunctional system that I have to live in.

Does this create a situation of making myself god or a religion of the system? No. I cannot be a god if I am a piece of a system and because the system must work to the advantage of its inhabitants or screw me up it cannot be a religion with blind obedience. I do not use system to mean a collection of rules, I use it to describe the interacting collisions of humans in close proximity. We will lay out a system of rules regarding behavior because we will not all treat the collisions with respect that our self-interest requires. We will not all look at actions from regard to long term outcomes. These rules will work if they are laid out with the intent of producing outcomes based on the logic of remaining in close proximity and regularly colliding. If we approach these rules with logic we have some hope of achieving some consensus of what they should be.

If we appeal to the non-logic of things like religious faith we will not get past the varieties of faith to agreement. Without appealing to religion or "conventional" morality there would still be an argument to be solved regarding abortion. Without the rigor of religion/morality there is a measuring process that can be used to sort out the balance regarding reproduction. There are outcomes of varying social success on both sides. It does not require a god to recognize that child pornography uses someone who cannot understand or consent in a manner which damages that resource which the system depends on for its continuation. I am harmed when my neighbor is harmed because we must exist together, in some way I will have to account for his harm. It does me no good to cripple your ability to do business because I depend on your presence in the market in some fashion, but it also harms me to allow you to run rampant.

This is a simplistic approach to a very complex issue. It is intended for thought provocation, a serious treatment would take a book and no publisher has offered an advance. I cannot begin to more than lightly touch on the number of issues this affects; but the reader certainly can expand it - or dispute it. If you don't like it because it doesn't appeal to a higher moral authority, that is your business, I don't pretend to have god's mouth to my ear. I try to make sense of things and I won't absolve myself of that responsibility by using the word god to duck.

The eternal question regarding something like this is that without appeal to a higher moral authority it becomes optional. I'd say that even in that case it has proved optional and that you can, for example, drive a car into a crowd or you can drive on the road, there are outcomes. It is far simpler to teach behavior by saying something is bad without providing a basis for "bad" beyond appealing to a higher moral authority than it is to examine the reason for "badness." If you are four years old and reading this, go see your parents and ask them why you can't hit your sister. The rest of you help yourself to "comments" or not.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Confederate Party of Republicanism Resurgence

Rep James Clyburn (D-SC) was asked today how the votes were coming on the House version of Health Care Reform. He said things were working out well, and when asked if there had been any changes in the situation he responded, "Well, we picked up two votes today." Those two votes would be the result of the Resurgence of the CPoR in the Nov elections. You may note that the Governors of NJ & VA were not consulted. Yes in that South Rises Again theme of the CPoR a problem arises, in Federal Offices the (D) outfit is 2 for 2 and the CPoR is 0 for 2 including a should have been a gimme.

I don't like losing Governorships to the CPoR but there is also an issue of not just any Democrat will do with voters. The lesson should be clear, if you want those Obama voters to come to the polls, especially in an off year election, you had better give them reasons to do so. I'm not talking ideological purity here, but if you don't recognize that those people came out for reasons you're going to miss them.

The residents of those states will get to decide if those were good votes, but in the Congress there are two votes that are both declared for the House Health Care Reform Bill.

(sounds like Sherman got the last laugh again)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

How Long Will Steele Last Now

RNC Chair Michael Steele has a job description.

When he was asked to assess the claim made by conservative blogger Erick Erickson at -- a grassroots driving force behind Hoffman’s candidacy -- that conservatives scored a victory last night, Chairman Steele could not have disagreed more firmly.

“I don't see a victory in losing seats,” Steele said. “I'm in the business of multiplication and addition. I want more Republicans. I don't buy that we somehow find victory in defeat.”

I think he'll piss off the practitioners of teabaggery with that kind of talk. That would imply that ... well, there are more than one type of Republican. This time he may actually be that cow on the tracks he mentioned one day.


(if the tag "terminal stupidity" seems over-used lately, take it up with Republicans)

We Hold ... That Boehner Is An Ass

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Anybody recognize this quote? House Minority Leader Boehner sure doesn't, he stated in public in front of the patriot teabaggers that it was the Pre-amble to his pocket copy of the Constitution. Nobody looked surprised.

He was glad to stand with the Founders, he just doesn't seem to know when or how. It seems to me Rush made exactly the same stupid claim to CPAC - Boehner only sported an orange tan not a bouncing ... well, I'll not be offensive to my readers.

Holy shit, US Congress House Minority Leader and two of the most basic historical documents in US history and ...

Go ahead, make something up to top it.

Afghan Victory Looks LIke ... What?

Let us start out with who is playing in Afghanistan, there is the US/NATO faction, the Kharzi government (?), India, Pakistan, AlQaeda, Taliban, Iran, and every other big player in geo-politics. Everybody seems to have a hand in mucking up the works and really very few have Afghans' well being at heart. India and Pakistan have their dispute as a basis for playing for playing with client groups which seems to be back firing rather badly in Pakistan. US/NATO have an anti-AQ/Taliban agenda involving also not having a failed state haven. Iran, China, Russia, etc have their own geo-political reasons to mess about. Some of these things have direct bearing on the US/NATO mission, some not much.

The failed state condition is believed to have led to Taliban dominance and AQ's haven/operational base. I'm real unsure what it is that is now supposed to be the alternative to that. The Kharzi government has little reputation for being representative, a real reputation for corruption, and seems to sort of control Kabul and little else. If there is something resembling a non-failed state government it would seem to be either the warlords or the US/NATO forces. Since our forces are scarcely representative as more than occupiers the actual government would seem to be the warlords. The question that occurs is whether these people would permit a Taliban/AQ government? I just do not see how the US can propose to impose the Kharzi outfit on the that nation as things stand.

Thanks to Pakistan's desire to keep Afghanistan from being a powerful Indian client state sitting on another Pakistan border the Taliban/AQ have become a nasty presence in their nation, their nuclear power nation. Oddly enough, Pakistan doesn't want our troops running around their nation shooting it up, though they are beginning to realize what a monster they've got loose at home. The US/NATO realize who and what the Pakistanis have let run in their portion of dirt and are really pretty petrified about it. What there is to be done about it by the US/NATO beyond some Predator strikes is a real debate. The US threw real piles of money and supplies into Pakistan to get today's results - not so hot. It certainly seems to be the case that a good portion of the Taliban/AQ presence is home grown Pakistani and so qualifies as pretty much a civil war.

I'm really pretty sure that the Obama Administration is struggling with all these factors as well as the US political fall-out factors. I don't think there is a good answer, I think whatever course chosen would have bad results and I think they know that and are looking for the least bad outcomes. The biggest question now, what is the American populace willing to put up with?

The idea that we're going to stop this one place from being a haven for AQ is probably faulty without huge numbers of soldiers. Worse, there are failed or hostile states around that would serve that end regardless of Afghanistan. Stopping that probably would be better served by use of something other than a sledge hammer, there and around the world. I own sledge hammers and use them, but not for driving nails.

Pakistan is going to be a nail biter for some time to come. Nobody with any sense outside Pakistan has been pleased by their achievement of nuclear power status. Pakistan has its own home grown religious weirdness, they haven't required any imported versions to be a challenge to security in this world. There isn't much we can do about Pakistan if its government can't keep sufficient support in the country to stand.

Whatever President Obama decides to do about Afghanistan, I'm afraid he'll come out the loser in that narrative. I wonder if he knew that when he worked so hard to get the job.

How Do You Do This?

Sure, it's water not marriage

Or is it?

How would you feel about drinking from the other fountain? Superior?

OK I'm a bit more than the sad I mentioned in the previous post...

Maine, Another Loss Of Humanity

I had some fears about the outcome of the the Question 1 in Maine with this initiative happening in an off-year election. Motivated base voters come out and it is difficult to persuade the ordinary voter something like this matters to vote on. This resulted in another "direct democracy" vote to strip fellow citizens of their humanity. While I might think the issue of Civil Rights falls on the side of gay marriage, it becomes so convoluted in legalese that it is arguable. I don't want to argue, I want to win.

I find it entirely offensive that my law-abiding fellows are denied the same rights and responsibilities the rest of us have, and that is about Civil Liberties. It is an essential human drive to establish stable long term relationships - families. It is essential for evolutionary reasons and societal reasons and it is not optional as a drive for most. It is not a construct of the legal establishment, it is a survival mechanism that has simply been recognized and formalized by the legal system. It is of such human import that whole structures both legal and religious have grown up around it. Another vote has been taken that denies our fellows their humanity.

I don't see how people in that group wouldn't be angry - I am a member of the heterosexual majority that isn't denied anything by this vote and I'm sad and disappointed. Denying people their humanity asks for fury and fury begets poor decisions. I'll be damned if I'll begrudge this community anger, hurt, disappointment, and impatience; they have been harmed at a very basic level. They asked for nothing extra, just to be recognized as fully human and were denied. Again.

I'm going to ask for something, for that rage to be channeled into creation, for that energy to be used to accomplish rather than harm allies and potential allies. Oregonian LGBT organizations are taking a longer term approach. The plan is to put a same sex initiative on the ballot in 2012, a Presidential election and to use the time between now and then to educate voters in a fairly low key manner. The object is to defuse the confrontational aspects before a vote, to swing public opinion into line with their objective well ahead of a campaign and to hold the vote in a year where activated base votes have less effect. This is about patience and work.

I know that throwing things and breaking things to hit back feels better than buckling down and working. It also doesn't work. There is collateral damage involved in anger and that damage discredits a movement. On something like a tax measure everybody who pays taxes has direct skin in a vote, this is different and some alliances or potential alliances are fragile. Mine is not, but I don't represent enough voters to win these things, those who do are subject to alienation by extreme rhetoric and behaviors. You are trying to appeal to a sense of fairness and humanity in people who are not directly affected, that is the goal and target - not splashy demonstrations of anger.

I am an ally, I am not suggesting complacency and I am not suggesting that having an emotional reaction to having your humanity denied is silly. I am talking about winning and that requires a strategy that recognizes both the strengths and weaknesses of a movement and accounts for them. If the object is to win, then do that.

Biblical Interpretation - Hmmm

Matt Taibbi has a Goldman Sachs spokesman making a statement regarding - well, you figure it out:
“The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest,” Goldman’s Griffiths said Oct. 20, his voice echoing around the gold-mosaic walls of St. Paul’s Cathedral, whose 365-feet-high dome towers over the City, London’s financial district. “We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all.”

I'm not about to tell readers what religious books mean, not my job, but this one is a head scratcher. Taibbi has a take on it and I wonder how this is supposed to help greed head outfits sell themselves to anyone not quite brain dead or so unmitigatedly avaricious to be soul dead.

I don't know about pitchforks and torches but holy cow.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

So, What Do These Elections Mean?

There were elections Tuesday, as you may have noticed. There was bad news in Maine for same sex marriage, and NJ and VA elected Republicans as Governors. These were the big talking points on the NEWS. There was a lot talk about what this means for Democrats. Funny, the two Federal Elections that are about - well, Congress apparently didn't mean a thing in that theme. CA10 elected a more liberal Democrat in the Primary and he crushed the Republican. The Democrat who was supposed to be a sacrificial lamb in NY23 won. I don't think any of this really has national relevance other than Maine means it still is hard to get voters to approve same sex marriage, and particularly in an off election.

The Hoffman, Owens, Scozzafava mess in NY23 has some meaning, but the ones who should be paying attention probably won't. I have made the statement that principles matter quite a few times and that I admire standing for them. It is also a fact that other people with other ideas are involved in the political process, across parties and within them. If one takes an all or nothing stance in politics the usual result is nothing.

I cannot count the number of times that my Party has let me down, and I don't get to feel alone or singularly victimized. Republicans can quite validly make the same complaint. It's those other people. You know the kind, people who think they should have a voice whether they're in complete agreement with me or not. They also get insistent about it by voting. If you want to get anything done, you're going to have to take them into account.

They have managed to prove that they can upset the applecart in a ho-hum no-brainer off year election. Influence well beyond numbers through noise is a long respected political tradition...

What they'll try to make of this is anyone's guess - really - but there is word that Sen DeMint is going to back DeVores over Fiorino to face Boxer in CA and DeVore is another ... baggery type. Not that it matters much, Boxer would have to do something incredibly stupid to lose. One does have to wonder what'll happen in FL, though because it is not nearly as meaningless. If they can Primary Christ out they'll have dumped a real probably win and Rubio isn't that at all.

If this seems a bit rambling, I've got a flu bug going on and I'm feeling real poorly. Excuses, excuses...