Thursday, December 30, 2010

Inevitability of Same Sex Marriage

In comments to this post at alicublog on the inevitability of same sex marriage, and whether or not it will be a good thing for conservatives, Halloween Jack had this gem:

I sometimes daydreamed about a Star Trek episode where they woke up someone who'd been in suspended animation since the 20th/21st century, and while they were catching up on history, they asked, "Say, did you ever cure homosexuality?" The doctor frowns, thinks for a minute, mumbling, "That sounds familiar... hmmm..." then taps away on a tricorder for a few seconds, then looks up brightly. "Actually, it was homophobia that got cured. Funny that I forgot about it, my sister and her wife were talking about it just the other day!"

I can't let that one get lost in the ether.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Write Like

I saw this at Balloon Juice:

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I ran my review of What's the Matter with Kansas through it. I'm not sure if this is a compliment.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Free Education

I don't mean do be all aimai all the time, but she makes this comment over at Balloon Juice:

We’ve known for a long time that people who listen to Rush,and to Beck, think they are getting a free education on stuff that the elites and the liberals want to keep hidden from them. Think of the radio shows like a kind of free “university of the air” for the rubes.

She's made similar comments before and I think it's very perceptive. I've seen confirming evidence of this, like Victoria Jackson's paean to Beck about how much he's taught everyone. Plus, the books and chalk talks.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rand Paul and the Civil Rights Act

Much has been made of Rand Paul's non-support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Over at No More Mister Nice Blog, aimai comes closest to what I was thinking. My comments there were:

These people don't start in a vacuum, discover a political philosophy and then realize their philosophy doesn't allow them to support the Civil Rights Act. They already have their biases and prejudices and then discover a philosophy that justifies them. I don't think libertarians and tenthers are unique that way. But having a philosophy like that is sort of a get of jail free card. If I support a progressive initiative, I have to defend it on the merits. A "constitutionalist" can say they oppose it on philosophical grounds and not have to get dirty arguing about policy and the implications of that policy. Maybe Rand Paul is so committed to libertarianism that he regretfully can't support civil rights laws. Maybe Sam Ervin was so committed to the sanctity of the constitution that he couldn't support them either. It certainly never prevented him from being reelected senator.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Scottish Connection Update

Update for my earlier post The Scottish Connection.

David Cameron

The UK's new Prime Minister was born, educated and lives in England. His constituency is Witney in Oxfordshire. Cameron is of course a Scottish clan name and his father was indeed born in Scotland. He's descended from William IV through Elizabeth FitzClarence, Countess of Erroll. I labeled Harold Macmillan an Englishman despite the Scottish name and Scottish grandfather. I think I'm going to have to call Cameron half Scotsman.

Gordon Brown

The acension of Brown was the genesis of the article that inspired my previous post. Let's see: born in Scotland, went to University of Edinburgh, sat for Dunfermline East and Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. He even sounds like a Scotsman.

The Proto Teapartiers

I saw this post (via Ygelesias) which is about Rand Paul's (now successful) senate campaign in Kentucky. Josh Green finds that some Paul voters are frustrated with both the Republican and Democratic parties. This made me recall a conversation I overheard almost two years ago. We were waiting to get off a plane at Raleigh/Durham. The two men in the seat in front of me where sort of talking economics and politics. This was May of 2008, so the economy hadn't gone in the crapper yet and the major economic issue was that gas prices were well over $3 a gallon. The two men seemed to agree that:
  • Oil companies conspire to keep prices just under the even dollar mark so we'll get used to it and then it won't be as much of a shock when they jack it up over the dollar mark.
  • We should trade "our" grain for their oil.
  • If no one voted in November it would really show both parties.
Conspiracy theory. Economic ignorace. Political ignorance. It's all there.

Me and BP

Even thought I think the company should be destroyed and its fields sown with salt, etc, I've always had a soft spot for BP. When I was a kid I had and extensive Matchbox car collection. This was late 60's/early 70's back when they said "Made in England" on the bottom. It was still pretty much a British oriented company and many of the models were unique to Britain. The tow trucks and tankers were labeled with what you'd see in Britain: Esso and BP. Living in California at the time these were foreign to me. This was pre-Exxon, so we had Enco stations that for some obscure reason (to me) looked sort of like Esso, but I knew BP was British Petroleum and that was in Britain. Traveling in New England one year, I was surprised, and pleased, to actually see the green and yellow shield in front of a gas station. They changed their logo in the past 10 years or so, and I've lost any sentimentality I ever had for them.

Here's what I'm talking about (it is a Dodge truck, though):

(Photo by Flickr user Danny McL: Used under a Creative Commons license)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Shorter 2008 Presidential Campaign

I been thinking about the presidential campaign and I think I can sum it like so:

Bush and the Republicans screwed up the country so badly that the we elected a black man named Barack Hussein Obama.

See also Tom Tomorrow.

Good Gracious

Brother Atrios points us to this:

The Bush team had worked assiduously to make the transition smooth for the incoming President Obama and stayed out of the way as he used the postelection period to take leadership of the economy even before being sworn in. And now, as far as some of them were concerned, the new president had used his inaugural lectern to give the back of the hand to a predecessor who had been nothing but gracious to him.

Peronally, I thought Obama was a little too gracious. If it were me, I would have had Bush and Cheney arrested right after the oath but before the address.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Prediction

A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking that it looks pretty solid that Obama will hold the Kerry states and pickup Florida and Ohio which would give him 299 electoral votes. Now I think I will expand that and make my 2008 prediction. Obama will get 341 electoral votes: the Kerry states plus Ohio, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia and North Carolina

Update (1/31/08):
I meant the union of Gore and Kerry states, plus the ones I listed. I missed Nevada, Indiana (I still think, wow, Indiana) and, of course, the 2nd Congressional district of Nebraska. But that's 17 more, so I must have added wrong.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Standard Operating Procedure

Speaking of The New Yorker and continuing on with my obsession with superior orders...

A while back I read Errol Morris and Philip Gourevitch's article on their movie Standard Operating Procedure. The article was about the M.P. company at Abu Gharib and specifically about Specialist Sabrina Harman. She's the subject of the infamous thumbs up photos. The article was actually pretty sympathetic to Harman and the other M.P.'s, but that's not what set my radar off. Harman's unit, the 372nd M.P. company was a combat M.P. unit. They were trained to support front line units and earlier on their deployment they had trained Iraqi police. But they ended up as prison guards at Abu Gharib. Why? Gourevitch and Morris say:

The new assignment [...] bewildered the company. Combat units don’t run prisons. That is the province of another cadre of M.P.s, known as internment and resettlement M.P.s, who are trained according to the Army’s extensive doctrine on handling all manner of wartime captives and displaced persons. The 372nd M.P.s had no such specialized experience.

This is what we call a feature, not a bug. Their lack of experience in handling prisoners and they ignorance of proper procedures, including the Geneva conventions, was just what the officers running Abu Gharib wanted. The brass deliberately staffed the prison with people they knew, or at least hoped, would be amenable to helping them torture the prisoners.

The The New Yorker Cover

Since it's now day 3 of the outrage, I guess it's time to weigh in.

To call the cover satire is incorrect. Wikipedia has a pretty good rundown on what satire is and isn't, and this isn't. It is, however, ironic. Here's what I think the Obamas' fist bump symbolizes:
We really are 60's era radicals and Muslim terrorists who burn the flag for fun. We fooled all those liberals and the MSM. Only the right wing lunatics, who everyone scorned, were right! Ha Ha Ha!!
Oh, I guess I should say I thought the cover was funny. And it's Wednesday I haven't got the issue in my mailbox yet.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Book Review: What's the Matter With Kansas

What's the Matter With Kansas, by Thomas Frank

Frank chose to look at Kansas for a number of reasons, not the least of which was it was where he grew up. Another is Kansas is often seen as authentically middle American. It has seen the economic damage done by Republican policies as much or more that any other area. The downtowns of the small towns are virtual ghost towns, while Mission Hills, has returned to the glory it was in the 1920's. In the early 1990's there was a grass roots revolt of socially conservative voters that transformed the state's politics. Finally, Frank claims that racism has virtually nothing to do with the economic inequality. He does say that race does have an effect elsewhere, but due to Kansas' history as a free state counterweight to slave state Missouri, it doesn't have much of an effect.

Before reading the book, my impression was that the fiscal conservative branch of the Republican party (or moneycons for short) were some how subverting the the social conservatives (or theocons) into voting against their own economic interests. But, it Kansas, it didn't turn out that way. It was the theocons, as a grass roots movement, that drove out the more socially liberal moderate Republicans out of the party. Kansas Republicans had a history of moderation and pragmatism. This was all kicked to the curb. The theocons pushed all sorts of religious kookery, which when you get down to it is basically ineffective. All along they kept the moneycon issues of taxation, breaks to corporations, etc, intact. This in contrast to a 100 years ago where you had William Jennings Bryan, a fundamentalist Christian, but economically quite progressive. This is a political area (social conservative, fiscally liberal) that is empty now a days. This was all helped along by conservative pundits pushing the idea that these authentic Kansans were victimized by the liberal bogeyman. Frank doesn't really get to the root of the issue until the last chapter. Here he blames the New Democrat movement. The DLC's idea of triangulation on fiscal issues made the only way to differentiate between Democrats and Republicans was on social issues. So wedge issues were a successful way to capture potential Democratic voters. He does concede that with Democrats in charge you won't get screwed quite as badly as with Republicans.

I'd still like to see some explanation of why socially conservatives, buy in to the full moneycon party line. These are the issues that I don't see as having a particular Christian viewpoint: taxes, global warming, environmentalism, war in Iraq, socail spending. It's almost as if liberals are for it, then conservatives (of all stripes) have to be against it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Superior Orders Revisited

In a previous post, I discussed my take on the superior orders defense, sometimes called the Nuremberg Defense. I had seen various discussions dismissing the "just following orders" defense since it was not accepted at Nuremberg. My point in the post was that the Nuremberg tribunals did not summarily reject the superior orders defense, but considered and rejected it on the merits. I thought that CIA operatives who had performed torture may have a plausible case in using the superior orders defense. Now I'm reconsidering that. The crux of the defense is that the person did not know that the actions were illegal, that is they were excusably ignorant. The Detainee Treatment Act states that "good faith reliance on advice of counsel should be a important factor" in deciding whether the person knew the acts were illegal. The phrases "advice of counsel," "Bush administration" and "good faith" don't exactly go together. I don't find it plausible that executive branch attorneys would exactly be acting in good faith in this situation. Again, experience shows to expect the worst in the Bush administration. And then ratchet it down a little.

Update (Apr. 2):
I wrote this post before I saw that the infamous John Yoo memo authorizing torture had been released. That's what I'm talking about: when a ideological hack like Yoo can say the president can order torture with no legal repercussions, that's not exactly good faith. Glenn Greenwald says it better that I ever could:

This incident provides yet more proof of how rancid and corrupt is the premise that as long as political appointees at the DOJ approve of certain conduct, then that conduct must be shielded from criminal prosecution.

Missing Manual

I saw this on O'Reilly's feed today, so I'm not sure if it's for real. I do like the idea, though.