Archive for the ‘Politics’ category


August 18, 2010

This is the second Democratic presidency of my lifetime (my infant self missed Carter by days), and we’re long enough into the current one that I’ve begun to gain some perspective.  No matter who’s in power, I complain about Democrats cravenness and ineptitude and I am horrified by Republicans’ dishonesty and the immorality of their social policy.  They are liars and hypocrites, the lot of them.  The only difference is that, were Democrats to somehow actual enact every liberal policy they purport to believe in (say The Rapture comes), I’d be thrilled, on the whole.  Whereas if the Republicans actually implemented everything they campaign for (say YHWH sends another flood), I think it really would be the End of Days.  But, as both sides are far more interested in raising money and making noise than in doing much of anything, it’s a moot point.

I realized all this about a decade ago.  But Bush, Jr. was such a bad president (or rather, headed such a bad administration), it was impossible for me not to tip farther into the Democrat camp.  And if the Republicans nominate Palin (unlikely) or some similar lunatic (fairly likely), I’ll punch Barry’s chad again–2000-2008 taught me that we have to at least have an adult in the office, no matter whatever else is at stake.  I’m back where I started now, though, throwing my support behind the most viable third-party candidate (one qualifier: they must be sane.  I’m looking at you, Ron Paul.)  Not that a Centrist bloc in congress or an Independent president would guarantee meaningful change, but there’s no chance of improvement if we just keep letting Rs and Ds shadowbox.

PS note to self, for a future post: do modern corporations represent an existential threat to American democracy?


April 15, 2010

Required listening (part 1 only, though part 2 is ok): This American Life – Inside Job.

After reading the recent Tim Geithner profiles in The Atlantic and The New Yorker, I finally get the reasoning behind the bailouts–not saving wall street would have cost the tax payers even more and deepened the recession.  I can’t believe, though, that we’re going to emerge from this crisis without an overhaul of wall street or, better yet, a rethinking of what sort of financial activity we want to allow period.

Steven Goldman sums up my feeling on the subject nicely

February 18, 2010


Y’know, I devoured Heinlein in high school and emerged a naive libertarian.  Then I mostly ignored politics in college and for awhile thereafter, voting for Nader, then Kerry.  I thought of myself as an independent then.  Growing up in NYC, my baseline for normal is probably pretty liberal, but watching the Clinton administration in my formative years, I couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for the Democratic Party.  That Nader vote reflected my desire for “another path;” I held my nose and checked Kerry because Bush was obviously abhorrent.

I actually would have voted for McCain over Nader or Gore in 2000.  Then he went batshit crazy in time for 2008. I was *not* looking forward to voting for Hillary.  Then I got as swept up by Obama as anyone else.  Fed up with the political system and irrationality of the Bush years, Obama apparent promise of change was irresistible.  The Race Speech was where I absolutely jumped on the bus–it seemed like at last someone was defying the Kabuki play that is American campaigning.

To watch the Democrats squander every opportunity since the election, to see them show time and time again that they’re afraid to publicly and proudly proclaim the supposed tenets of their beliefs, to see them foiled at every turn by assholes and idiots…ugh.  To apply Bill Simmons’ Levels of Losing: I went through An Achilles Heel (Level 15) loss: “this defeat transcends the actual game, because it revealed something larger about your team, a fatal flaw exposed for everyone to see. … Usually the beginning of the end.” And when HCR dies, that’s upgrade it to a Dead Man Walking (L11): “applies to any playoff series in which your team remains “alive,” but they just suffered a loss so catastrophic and so harrowing that there’s no possible way they can bounce back. … Especially disheartening because you wave the white flag mentally, but there’s a tiny part of you still holding out hope for a miraculous momentum change. … So you’ve given up, but you’re still getting hurt, if that makes sense.”  And with the Senate’s failure to pass anything of substance even with a 59 or 60 seat majority, there’s an element of the This Can’t Be Happening (L8): “the sibling of the Full-Fledged Butt-Kicking. … You’re supposed to win, you expect to win, the game is a mere formality. … Suddenly your team falls behind, your opponents are fired up, the clock is ticking and it dawns on you for the first time, ‘Oh, my God, this can’t be happening.’

Anyway, barring a miraculous turnaround, I’m back to thinking that both parties are below replacement level.  The Repubs are actively damaging, the Dems passively so.  The long and short of it is that the Republican Party inspires outrage and loathing in me, while the Democratic Party _merely_ drives me to apathy. USA! USA!

Is aviation security mostly for show?

December 30, 2009

A rhetorical question, obviously. Everybody and their mother is (rightly) linking to this article. I like that Schneier address both the particulars of security and the equally importance larger social issues.

Despite fearful rhetoric to the contrary, terrorism is not a transcendent threat. A terrorist attack cannot possibly destroy a country’s way of life; it’s only our reaction to that attack that can do that kind of damage. The more we undermine our own laws, the more we convert our buildings into fortresses, the more we reduce the freedoms and liberties at the foundation of our societies, the more we’re doing the terrorists’ job for them.

Bruce Schneier

Staking Out a Position

December 22, 2009

I’m not up to speed on the “kill-billers” situation, but I suspect that the topic will be old news in a few weeks. This bit from Nate Silver is worth repeating, though, because it nicely articulates my own feelings:

One of the reasons I consider myself to be a progressive/liberal/whatever is because, more often than not, I’ve found progressives to be on the “right” side of the argument. They’re more empirical, more “scientific”, less dogmatic, less sophistic, less demagogic, less anti-intellectual — not always by any means but at least some majority of the time. After tangling with the kill-billers, however, I’m beginning to have my doubts.

Basically, I only vote Democrat so far as I believe they present more reason-based positions than the Republicans–the farther they slip from that, the more Independent I become.

Oh, what I’d give for a third party. Not so much a Centrist party as an Empirical one.

Right On

November 25, 2009

Linked without further comment:
Constitutional Chicanery

Op-Ed Columnist – Missing Richard Nixon –

September 4, 2009

K-man, here are some reasons why I’m not as angry at Obama as you seem to think I should be. Krugman:

There was a lot of talk last year about how Barack Obama would be a “transformational” president — but true transformation, it turns out, requires a lot more than electing one telegenic leader. Actually turning this country around is going to take years of siege warfare against deeply entrenched interests, defending a deeply dysfunctional political system.