Tuesday, October 09, 2007

On Columbus Day

A day late, yes, I know. I posted this on Megan McCardle's blog at The Atlantic:

The point I want to make on the Columbus discussion is to admire the vision and determination to organize and execute the expedition, while deploring what he did subsequent to the initial voyage's success. While he didn't "discover" America he did "re-discover" it, and the voyage was indeed an epic worthy of remembrance. The horrors that came after are also worthy of remembrance, and I think it is fitting that Columbus Day serve both purposes.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Monthly post

Just to disturb the spiders and dust bunnies around here...

Nothing in particular to say though.

Monday, August 06, 2007

It's not hate

I keep getting accused by my friends of simply being partisan, of hating Republicans for being Republicans. It's simply not true. First of all it's not hate. If one hates something, one takes steps to physically eradicate it. I hate cockroaches. I hate wasps. I hate yard work. That's quite different from saying you hate a person. I hated people in grade school; not many, but there were a few. And always, I later looked back and wondered why I wasted so much time hating that person rather than getting on with what was important in life. Sometimes, I ended up making friends with people I had earlier hated.

Glenn Greenwald said this last Friday on the subject of partisanship and "progressive" Democrats at the Yearly Kos convention:

There are many mythologies about what are the defining beliefs and motivations of bloggers and their readers and the attendees at Yearly Kos. One of the principal myths is that it is all driven by a familiar and easily defined ideological agenda and/or a partisan attachment to the Democratic Party. That is all false.

The common, defining political principle here -- what resonates far more powerfully than any other idea -- is a fervent and passionate belief in our country's constitutional framework, the core liberties it secures, and the checks and balances it offers as a safeguard against tyrannical power. Those who fail to defend that framework, or worse, those who are passively or actively complicit in its further erosion, are all equally culpable. With each day that passes, the radicalism and extremism originally spawned in secret by the Bush presidency becomes less and less his fault and more and more the fault of those who -- having discovered what they have been doing and having been given the power to stop it -- instead acquiesce to it and, worse, enable and endorse it.

I don't hate Republicans. I disagree with them, I want to convince them why they are wrong to believe what they believe, but through reason not coercion. I am a Democrat and vote 100% Democratic not because I just love Democrats, but because they support more of the things I believe in than Republicans do.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Fake-ibuster

Man, that was one of the worst filibusters of all time. Everything scripted on both sides, no passion (except Mary Landrieu, and that was apparently only because she was tired of the Republicans accusing the Democrats of Hollywood grandstanding; yeah, like they NEVER did any of that). When you think of filibusters, you think of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (obviously) and Huey Long reading long lists of pot liquor recipies into the official record. This was just 36 hours of 10-minute speeches, some of them delivered with all the panache of a wet cardboard box.

Where were the colloquys, with Senators on each side of the aisle engaging each other seriously in substantive, point vs. counterpoint debate on the merits of their positions? Where was the passionate denunciation of Republican obtuseness, of the President's folly? At the end I was almost forced to agree with the Republicans; what did this really, in the end, accomplish? It wasn't on network TV, or even Fox or CNN; unless people tuned in to C-SPAN2 they may never have known it was happening. And then in the end, when the cloture vote was finally taken, rather than halt the Senate at that point and demand that, since the Republicans obviously felt it was necessary, debate on the Levin/Reed amendment continue; instead of that, the Majority Leader pulled the bill. What an anticlimax!

I can understand the desire to not be seen as obstructionist yourself. But come on, this is supposed to be a filibuster! Make them filibust! Keep the Senate in session until doomsday if that's what it takes. Your approval rating can't go any lower, just like the President's, so what is there to lose?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

E-mail to Richard Cohen

Sent to Washington Post sage Richard Cohen after his hacktackular column and chat.

Mr. Cohen:

I have a few observations on your recent column about Scooter Libby. I tried to raise these in the chat but apparently I came too late (and I'm sure you were hit with an avalanche of questions and comments, so it's not surprising).

The four main points I want to raise are these:

1) CIA Director Hayden confirmed to Congressman Henry Waxman that Valerie Plame Wilson was considered "covert" under the applicable statutes at the time her identity and employer were revealed. I find it difficult to understand how you can continue to maintain the opposite after this revelation by the man currently in charge of the CIA, who was brought in after the revelation and therefore cannot have any axe to grind, and who cannot be considered a partisan opponent of the Bush Administration and Scooter Libby.

2) You insist that there is no underlying crime because Libby himself did not initially reveal Valerie Wilson's identity. It seems to me that Libby's crime was obstructing the investigation into the revelation of the identity of a covert agent, not his faulty memory. Whether he himself committed that particular crime is not relevant; he obstructed the investigation and that is why he is being punished. Why do you disagree with that position, when a jury of 12 Americans agreed?

3) You have called for a commutation of Libby's sentence because he himself did not initially reveal Valerie Wilson's identity; that is now known to have been the work of Richard Armitage. But how is that different from the sentence of Charles Colson, who did not himself participate in the Watergate burglary? Like Libby, all he did was remain loyal to his superiors and participate in obstruction of the investigation of actions he did not himself commit.

4) You have said that high government officials should not be "called to account for practicing the dark art of politics," presumably referring to whatever dirty tricks they might engage in in the name of partisan politics. But isn't there a line that cannot be crossed in that regard, where the "dark art" subverts our political system and runs afoul of the law? And regardless of whether these violations of law might be trivial, are not high government officals expected to take responsibility when they do cross it? Further, do not high government officials have a duty to assist in the investigation and correction of these abuses, no matter how minor, and not obstruct such investigations?

Thank you for your time.


Let's just say I'm not shedding any tears for poor Scooter.

Monday, June 18, 2007

But who gets to be Max?

Ran across this on TPM while catching up from the weekend:

Holly vowed he would never again use unarmored vehicles for convoy protection. He went to his primary shipper, Public Warehousing Co. of Kuwait, and ordered a change. PWC hired ArmorGroup, which had armed Ford F-350 pickups with steel-reinforced gun turrets and belt-fed machine guns.

Other companies followed suit, ramping up production of an array of armored and semi-armored trucks of various styles and colors, until Iraq's supply routes resembled the post-apocalyptic world of the "Mad Max" movies.

Nothing says "progress in Iraq" like comparisons to a post-apocalyptic action film in which a desert area plunges into anarchy, with roving bands of well-armed militias struggling to maintain order.

I remember when I first got the game "Car Wars", how cool it was to have cars and pickups with machine guns and flamethrowers and all the James Bond stuff, and you would get together with your buddies and design cars and have them fight each other. Lotsa fun.

And there was "The Road Warrior" (the sequel to Mad Max, but the first one seen by a wide audience here in the U.S.), but for the most part those guys just had crossbows and boomerangs. Shotgun shells were a rare commodity. So it wasn't as cool as Car Wars; but it was a movie and not a game so you could see Mel Gibson taking it to The Humongous and his gang. And of course Virginia Hey as The Warrior Woman. But I digress.

I think it's sad that all we've managed to do after the hundreds of billions spent and thousands of lives lost is to recreate the conditions of the Car Wars universe. Instead of the M.O.N.D.O.s we have the Mahdis. It's all there. Roads of death, walled fortress enclaves, the works.

We need to get out of the way. Now.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Random Ranting Room

If you find you way here from one of my posts on another blog, this is a place to leave me feedback or whatever. I haven't posted here in forever...with so many other bloggers doing such a fine job posting, I haven't felt much of a need to post on my own. It's kind of a catch-22; since almost nobody comes here to discuss things, I don't post, and since I don't post, anybody who comes here probably thinks this blog is dead. Which, effectively, it is...but since it's just a personal blog anyway, I suppose that's OK.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Amanda Marcotte resigns from Edwards Campaign

Since Pandagon is being hammered, here's what I was trying to post over there:

I'm sorry it came to this, Amanda. You'll be freer to speak now, and that's a good thing, but I know it's a loss and it has to hurt.

I meant everything I said, on the Edwards blog and when I commented on Atrios' blog yesterday. You would have brought Edwards something he badly needed, fire in his message. He's going to have to work extra hard now to erase his milquetoast liberal image, without your strong voice to lead the way. And his obvious cave to a bunch of religious nuts doesn't sit well with me as a secularist either. I don't care that he found your posts personally offensive; if he wants to be the President of all the people he's going to have to respect and defend those who feel strongly that organized religion intruding in people's private lives is inappropriate. I don't doubt that Edwards probably didn't know anything about you until his campaign manager told him he was going to fire you and was giving him a heads-up. The whole handling of this feels like D.C. consultant triangulation, not in keeping with my understanding of how Edwards operates at all.

I hope some day a candidate comes along that can have a blog where issues are openly and frankly discussed, instead of just being a watered-down lovefest over press releases. Apparently Edwards wasn't that candidate.