October 9, 2007 archive

Shocking: Dem candidates have leftist economic ideas!

the Financial Times (Europe’s main English-language business paper), writing about the US presidential campaign,  is shocked – shocked! – that leftwing politicians in the US _dare_ have leftwing programmes:

The grab for a job: Democrats turn protectionist in a drift to the left

Does this mean the Democratic party, which is generally (although not universally) anticipated to be heading to both congressional and presidential victory next year, is abandoning the centrist economic legacy of the Bill Clinton years? The rhetoric, if not always the fine print of the various plans that the candidates have rolled out, would suggest that it is.

Ooh. Abandoning centrism. That’s a criticism hurled at the right all the frigging time right?

What Are We Going To Do About The Democrats?

soon to be Orange

How do you address the fact that The Democratic Congress has utterly failed us, the American People and The World….

On a blog dedicated to electing Democrats?

And by extension…..to supporting them?

Four at Four

This is an OPEN THREAD. Here are four stories in the news at 4 o’clock to get you started.

  1. The Guardian reports Aung San Suu Kyi has rejected talks with Burma junta. “The prospect of a meeting between Burma’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the military ruler faded today, after she refused to accept preconditions for the talks set by the junta.” In a statement today, she said: “The success of a dialogue is based on sincerity and the spirit of give and take. The will for achieving success is also crucial and there should not be any preconditions.” China has again rejected sanctions against the regime.

  2. The New York Times reports that Turkey has said its troops can cross Iraq border. “Turkey took a step toward cross-border military action in Iraq today, as a council of the country’s top political and military leaders issued a statement today allowing troops to cross to eliminate separatist Kurdish rebel camps in the mountainous northern region.” The announcement that “parliamentary approval normally needed for cross-border movement of troops was not needed for special units’ in hot pursuit” of Kurdish separatists from the PKK (Kurdish Worker’s Party) came after 13 soldiers were killed Sunday by a landmine that exploded 15 miles from the Iraqi border in Sirnak Province.

    Reuters reports the U.S. State Department has warned against Turkish action in Iraq. “If they have a problem, they need to work together to resolve it and I am not sure that unilateral incursions are the way to go, the way to resolve the issue,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. However, “asked whether Washington had urged restraint on both sides, McCormack said sovereign states had to make their own decisions about how best to defend themselves.”

  3. There have been reports of ongoing heavy fighting in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan. Most of the fighting is centered around Miral. Casualties have been difficult to confirm, but “soldiers, civilians, and militants” have all been killed reports The New York Times. The Pakistani military has said at least 45 soldiers have been killed and another 50 are missing. The AP reports at least 250 people killed in the fighting. “Pakistani aircraft bombed a village bazaar packed with shoppers near the Afghan border… The attack on Epi village in North Waziristan tribal region killed dozens of militants and civilians”.

    In related news, Reuters reports the White House is saying that Al Qaeda is trying to boost efforts in U.S.. “Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al Qaeda senior leadership, the group likely will intensify its efforts to place operatives here in the homeland,” said a report titled “National Strategy for Homeland Security”. The report also noted that al Qaeda had protected its leadership, found new “operation lieutenants” and “regenerated in a safe haven” in Pakistan.

    The deaths are likely to intensify opposition within Pakistan to Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s government and alliance with the Bush administration. Musharraf is also trying to secure another term as president. He awaits the decision from the Pakistani Supreme Court if his re-election is valid. The AFP reports that an extra Pakistan judge was added to hear Musharraf election case.

  4. The Washington Post reports Dragonfly or Insect Spy? Scientists at Work on Robobugs. People attending anitwar rallies and other political events in New York and Washington have claimed to have spotted “mechanical” dragonflies or “little helicopters” hovering over them. “Some suspect the insectlike drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security… No agency admits to having deployed insect-size spy drones… But the CIA secretly developed a simple dragonfly snooper as long ago as the 1970s.”

    This story seems specifically written to increase paranoia. It comes right after news of the Myanmar junta soliders rounding up people, shouting “We have photographs. We are going to make arrests!”

Today’s “Guns of Greed” is below the fold…

The Dolphins are laughing at us. (Trojan Dolphin!)

This was an elaborate trojan dolphin to make a statement on a well-known blog that supports Chevron. Snuck one past the goalie for Burma.

One of the greatest tricks mankind has every played on himself is convincing himself that he is not animal. Of course, he had to create God, and/or Gods, to pull this feat off, but for some reason he thinks he is not only at the top of the creature pyramid, but he built it himself. Of course, from his perception, it all seems to be true.

But these cleverest of monkeys, who call themselves humans, because knife-wielding homicidal earth-wrecking primates didn’t sound so nice, have only a limited skill set when it comes to truly seeing the world around them. In their quest to fill so superior to all other creatures on the planet, their hubris blinds them from the other way animals see, talk and live.

the more things change….

the more they apparently stay the same, or sometimes go backwards.

On October 3, 1957, Judge Clayton Horn had ruled that Allan Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” was not written with the intent of obscenity. Fifty years later, the epic poem is still regarded as one of the most important literary works of the twentieth century.

Fifty years later, “Howl” is once again too obscene for American audiences…

“State Secrets” Fascism

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A German citizen who alleges the CIA mistakenly kidnapped, detained and interrogated him was denied a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court when the justices rejected his appeal for review Tuesday.

The German citizen is Khaled el-Masri, who was kidnapped in Macedonia on New Year’s Eve, 2003 by U.S. government agents and taken via secret “extraordinary rendition” to a prison in Afghanistan. El-Masri was beaten, humjiliated and drugged. When the U.S. could get nothing out of him, or recognized it was a case of mistaken identity — we don’t know because it’s a “state secret” — he was unceremoniously flown and dumped in a forest in Albania.

On Five Schools: The Garden of Epicurus

PhilosoPhactor: Epicurus
practical katastematics

This is the first in a five part series in which I have selected five ancient schools of philosophy. Within these five I see a patternwork still in evidence in the world directly. These are five schools whose maxims are well known. You may not know the source, and the maxim may have evolved into many forms, or just an idea, but the principles are well soaked into so called western cultures. These schools characterize western thinking, but occur perpendicular to a gradient that runs from sensualism to intellectualism itself. While hedonism is mentioned and in general not embraced by these three schools, any given individual subscribing to one of these schools might be, more or less indulgent in sensual pleasures and still be a member of that school. I would propose as a more modern understanding we adopt a situational understanding of these schools by which our modern philosophies can be interpreted as being composed of these ancient schools in various proportions, applied in particular life contexts. When lost at sea, certain philosophies are called for, when spending time in a garden, another.

(by pyrrho for publishing jointly at MLW and DocuDharma)

As with most of these schools I’ll cover, the name of the school has come to have a common modern meaning. Also, as with most, the modern understanding of the term “epicurean” misrepresents the school. I will leave it to the historians of philosophy to gather why misunderstandings stand in common language about these schools, but I will also add that there are also relations in a warped way to the original.

I will be using the print version of the Oxford “Dictionary of Philosophy” to refresh myself for this series. Links offered below may or may not have been referenced to research this post. I may or may not believe their assertions or have been exposed to them, but they are given to ease further your direct research should you like. I give my own impressions of the topics within, please form your own impressions if you are at all interested in the topics, mine include my own simplifications and interpretations. I try to present them fairly, clearly, but I am a skeptic myself, a relativist with opinions on all these schools, and a tendency to eschew the doctrinaire side of each of these schools, myself, and tend to seek and emphasize the reusable tools each has to offer.

A not particularly common but still well established understanding of “Epicurean” is one who likes fine foods and luxuries of that sort, good hosting, good service, the attendances of wealth, and which is, by that taste, indulgent. But Epicurus advocated the the opposite: personal restraint and intentional simplicity of pleasures. The relation by which the indulgent term comes is that the simple pleasures of life are, indeed, things like a pleasant meal.

Epicurus advocated an idea by which the more extreme the pleasures you sought, the more extreme the displeasure will also be, the greater your misery. Simple pleasures enjoyed well, like an afternoon at the ocean, can give exquisite pleasure, the reasoning goes, to make for an excellent and enjoyable life. But they are also mild enough according to Epicurus to lead to only mild displeasures (eating sand? salt rashes?). The combination, according to Epicurus, is the way to live well and have a good life.

These ancient schools generally take their goal as seeking a well lived life. Perhaps that means a tranquil life, but by whatever criteria, to be “satisfied” or, at least, “proper”, they seek good living. They offer principles and usually also a set of interpretations of life drawn from those principles. Note for example that the Epicurean approach does not strictly require seeking mild pleasures.  It is also in accord with Epicurus’ principles to live extremely, if one realized this mean putting up with extreme misery, or at least, risk of that. However, one might, and some do, argue that is worth it in order to obtain extreme pleasure. And in this interpretation of Epicurus we reach a hedonistic philosophy for those willing to accept extreme risks, and therein a philosophical explanation for the extreme sports..

We all know modern Epicureans, I hope, for they make excellent friends.  They are great to dine with, they care about subtlety in food, music, art and relaxation with the simple pleasures of life. They are able to enjoy pleasures with modest costs, so not only the best, most rare, wines, but also those of the common, reasonably priced wines. Your Epicurean friend knows which of these modest pleasures is still crafted with care and craft. I think an element of this philosophy is essential to a good life, and I side with the ancients that the purpose of a good philosophy is a good life.  Epicurean sentiments, with a taste for high quality in the modest pursuits allows us to live without a lot of materialist anxiety on the one hand, but also without the life denying depravity of eschewing material pleasures on the other. Epicureanism provides a modest avenue for acknowledging and within reason embracing, the carnal pleasures.

Below, I will share some of the interesting points Oxford’s Dictionary of Philosophy shared.

FISA: Deja Vu All Over Again

As I wrote, I am not at all optimistic about the FISA bill coming out of Congress. Pontificator thinks some of us are too negative:

The House FISA bill, introduced today, . . . is a strong bill that protects civil liberties and provides for oversight.  What the NYT article suggests is that certain Democrats believe that they will ultimately have to give up on that bill because Bush will demand capitulation.  This is worrisome, but we are not there yet.

Interestingly, pontificator wrote the same type of comments to me last March when I railed about the Iraq Supplemental. Unlike pontificator,  Chris Bowers has learned from the Iraq Supplemental experience in March:

This pre-legislative negotiation “compromise” is a real habit for Democrats. We have seen it on immigration reform, Iraq, FISA, the minimum wage, health care, and a whole host of other issues. Democrats present compromised legislation, and then after actual legislative negotiations occur, those compromises are watered down even further. By the end of the process, the proposed legislation typically ends up weighted far more toward the conservative end of the spectrum on the issue than the progressive side. While I don’t doubt that Clinton, Edwards and Obama would all like to see their proposed legislation enacted as it is proposed, it strikes me that in order to achieve their proposed legislation, they should start out by asking for even more than they want.

I’ll go even further. I think the House Democrats should, like Bush does, draw lines in the sand. This far and no further. Like Iraq, FISA extension requires action by the Congress. Doing nothing is very much an option. But since the Democratic leadership does not perceive it as such, come the inevitable Senate “compromise” or Bush veto, the House Dems, based on the history we have seen, will capitulate. Let them prove us wrong. The important thing is to protest, not protect the poor ears of the Democratic leadership.

[UPDATE] ACLU unhappy with House proposal.

On Trust

Every once in a while I get blasted with the reality that I am, at heart, naive and entirely too trusting of people. Today is one of those days. I’m not bragging about being trusting, it has been a real problem for me on more than one occassion.

I expect that I’ve had the luxury of trust in that while growing up it was clear that I had all of the priviledges associated with whiteness and money. Every day of my young life, it looked to me like I could expect that the world was a just and honest place. Now, as I’ve grown up, I’ve learned that isn’t true – but not usually in a real personal sense. So I continue to approach people thinking the best of them until I’m proven to be wrong.

I won’t go into the gorry details, but today I learned that some people are not who I thought they were. It looks like their deception was calculated and not merely a misunderstanding. Lots of people are used to this kind of thing. I’m not. So it tends to rock my world a bit. But the old expectations are more deeply rooted than the few instances where they are proven wrong. So I know I’ll go on trusting the best about people…til the next time.

False Hope On FISA?

Glenn Greenwald has hope on FISA:

But at least thus far, from everything I can tell, the picture is more complicated and less depressing than this NYT article suggests, and the defeat is not yet a fait accompli. To begin with, the bill to be proposed today by the House Democratic leadership actually contains some surprisingly good and important provisions. . .

But that bill will never see the President's desk. As Glenn himself notes:

It is definitely possible that this is all just deceit, that House leaders introduced this bill strictly to placate their Progressive Caucus and their base and that they have no real intention of fighting for these provisions, but instead will give Bush what he wants once Mike McConnell starts accusing them of Helping the Terrorists and they begin negotiating in secret again.

Yes, that is exactly what will happen. We know the cast of characters already. This is a repeat of the Iraq Supplemental fight in March. The House bill will be eviscerated. More.

Cross Your Fingers

…These Guys Are Getting WORSE.

Have a look at this:

A small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, it notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release.

Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company’s Web site. By midafternoon that day, the video and a transcript of its audio track had been leaked from within the Bush administration to cable television news and broadcast worldwide.

To quote the wise one: ‘I have a bad feeling about this…’

Pony Party, “what a character”

Who doesn’t love IMDb?  And if you didn’t think it could get better….you were mistaken.

IMDb has begun featuring ‘character pages‘.  Now you can get those Yoda quotes without having to sift through all of the other character’s whining comments… 😉  Or make a page for your favorite, underappreciated TV or movie character.

Luke: All right, I’ll give it a try.
Yoda: No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.

Load more