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Second post of the year

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

That’s what I’m going to do from now on. Name posts sequentially by year.

First, this blog is now hosted by wordpress.com. Because it’s cheaper. Pretty much every link to a single post on this blog is now broken. Exciting.

Second, Dinesh D’Souza is clearly insane. Not, like, normal conservative insane. But truly, madly, deeply insane. But he is an extreme example of why conservatives are such poor political analysts right now. Their sense of proportion (and just basic reality) is completely warped by their need to believe the other side is out to destroy the country and that they are the guardians of truth, justice, and apple pie. The idea that Obama is a pretty basic corporate liberal with no grand plans for radical reform simply doesn’t compute.

But of course, we have 9% unemployment, so Republicans will win big in November. Then they’ll likely implode. It could be spectacular, but not great for the country.

Categories: Obama, The Right

Some sort of joke?

August 24, 2009 Leave a comment

So Holder is going to appoint a prosecutor to investigate CIA detention abuses. Only those who acted outside the guidelines set by the Yoo and Bybee memos, though.

That largely makes sense. We can’t expect CIA interrogators to be able to spot fraudulent legal arguments, but we can expect them to follow the guidelines given to them. So, okay, I’m on board here.

But low level abuses aren’t the real problem, as everyone knows. The outrage is over the Bush administration’s conduct. It’s about lawyers who made arguments in bad faith to justify unchecked executive power. It’s about administration officials using those arguments to shield themselves from accusations of war crimes.

It’s probably too much to ask the executive branch to check itself. We have a system of checks and balances for a reason. But we have a legislative branch that is made up of people either too stupid to do their job or too corrupt. I suspect there’s a lot of both. The judicial branch is better, but it can only do so much when American citizens rarely have standing to challenge these abuses.

So in conclusion, we’re fucked. But at least we’re going to get major, progressive health care reform. Oh, wait…

Categories: Bush, Civil liberties, Obama

Public opinion

June 2, 2009 2 comments

You can almost hear this blog dying, can’t you?

Anyway, I was thinking about this post by Mark, which is post 93 in his long running anti-hope series.

Progressives like to claim the public is supportive of their agenda based on single issue polling. It seems to me that once public opinion collides with an opposition campaign, things look different. Public opinion is also contradictory. People like more services and they like lower taxes. They can’t have both. California is trying it and it’s not working. Opinion polls show that if you pay income taxes, you think you’re paying too much. So despite the fact that polls also show people will trade taxes for services, they don’t think they’re getting a good deal. That’s ripe territory for conservatives. And if we’re talking about single-payer, it’s hard to see how anything gets past “the government is taking away your health care for some brand new thing that sucks for various reasons.” Even if the various reasons themselves suck, losing your health care is scary.

That’s all obvious, isn’t it?

So single-payer organizing is pointless right now. If we get a public plan, that changes. Are we going to get a public plan? Beats me.

Religious concern trolling

April 27, 2009 Leave a comment

I give you, Amy Sullivan:

It’s not that Obama works himself into a rant when he talks about science. He’s still calm, cool Barack, after all. But for him, it is almost strident. Sometimes it’s his language–today he complained that “We have watched as scientific integrity has been undermined and scientific research politicized in an effort to advance predetermined ideological agendas.” And sometimes it’s just his tone–when I listened to the stem-cell speech, his voice sounded uncharacteristically hard, although in reading the text later I noticed a sensitivity to dissenting beliefs that hadn’t come through in the delivery.

Whatever the reason, it worries me somewhat because science is one of those areas in which Obama’s generally nuanced intellectual approach would be helpful. The anti-science, anti-expert mindset is obviously troubling. But so too is the idea that science is always an unquestioned capital-G good and that anyone who raises questions stands in the way of progress.

The only way you could get that sentiment from Obama’s speech is if you haven’t been paying attention the last eight years. Or if you’re an idiot. Republicans have relentlessly politicized scientific issues: global warming, environmental dangers, obesity research, stem cells, sex education, etc. Sullivan says “most people who worry about the use of embryonic stem cells [are not] engaged in ‘effort[s] to advance predetermined ideological agendas.’” Setting aside why “most people” is the relevant category, the debate in Washington has been politicized by anti-stem cell research advocates looking to advance their agenda. They lie about and distort the efficacy of embryonic stem cell research, rather than simply argue that it’s not moral, which is what they believe. I assume Sullivan knows this, given that she wasn’t born yesterday. Even if you want to say they have a legitimate moral issue, they’ve very much not stuck to that argument (because it’s patently ridiculous and few agree with them).

We’ve had eight years of Republican abuse of science for political gain and corporate favor. We haven’t had eight years of respect for science and nuanced moral arguments about scientific research. To worry about pro-science “stridency” when Obama forthrightly condemns past abuse is absurd in our current situation.

But Sullivan is really worried that respect for science will make it harder to push religion-inspired policy. If we have to rely on empirical evidence, my absurd superstitions won’t be good enough to justify my preferred policies! Let’s just back up a little on being all pro-science. It’s very important that we allow fairy tales to influence our discourse.

Then again, religious concern trolling is what Sullivan is best at, so should we be surprised?

Categories: Obama, Science

Demand answers

April 13, 2009 2 comments

Mark Hemingway wants to know Obama’s opinion of a scene in one of Kal Penn’s movies. It apparently offended his delicate sensibilities. Hard-nosed journalism, people.

Speaking of idiots, there’s a tax day tea-bagger protest in Bozeman on Wednesday. I’m tempted to wander by, if only because I’m sure it will be unintentionally hilarious.

And also because I’m a member of ACORN planning to sabotage the protest. Don’t tell anyone.

Categories: Montana, Obama, Silliness

Still a secret

February 9, 2009 Leave a comment

So, remember in the last post where I said I’d be more depressed if Obama left a legal loophole for rendering suspects to be tortured in foreign countries? Well, he didn’t do that, but he’s covering for Bush’s use of that program.

Six of one, half dozen of the other. My level of cynicism goes up a bit.

Categories: Civil liberties, Obama

Everything's swell

February 4, 2009 4 comments

This country is awfully depressing at the moment, isn’t it? The debate over the stimulus bill is nowhere what it needs to be and we need a major bill. No one in the Democratic Party apparently pays taxes and serious health care reform has taken a big hit because of it. We have a Commerce secretary who doesn’t even think the department should exist and is dim enough to play the lottery (but lucky enough to win 800k, so maybe that’ll be our fiscal strategy).

I’d be even more depressed if Mark were right about rendition, but luckily he isn’t.

Categories: Obama

Overly optimistic

January 26, 2009 3 comments

I’m just going to say that while closing Guantanamo and ending the Iraq war will indeed help against al Qaeda, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 9/11 happened before all that and as long as we still have troops in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries, we’re not dealing with the core of the problem. And since Obama has made no noises to that end, his impact will probably be limited. Positive, but limited.

Categories: Foreign Policy, Obama

So…

January 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Obama’s been in office almost a week. We seem to be on the march towards some sort of Marxist utopia where government is more transparent, we don’t run secret prisons, and we don’t torture people. Craziness.

Of course, we still have destructive policies regarding Afghanistan and Israel and a terrible economy. Which Obama won’t and can’t fix (respectively).

Could be worse.

President Barack Hussein Obama

January 20, 2009 1 comment

That’s really all I have to say.

Ok, that’s not true. When I walked through campus today I was greeted by writings on the sidewalks making various statements: “not change,” “change nope”, “socialism we can believe in”…there were more, but I didn’t feel like walking around and reading them all. There was also a sign that said

The answer to 1984 is 1776. Join the second American revolution.

Something like that, anyway. I didn’t see if the second American revolution had a phone number or website, but that appears to be the title of a book by noted crazy person Alex Jones. I love college campuses.

Some things won’t change with the new administration. President Obama will no doubt pursue some policies that are the continuation of a bankrupt status quo. We’ll be disappointed with him at times. But despite that, he will do some good. He’s an intelligent person with some good policy ideas. After 8 years of frustration and disappointment, I’m looking forward to that. How successful he will be is obviously unknown, but I hope and expect that I will be able to congratulate him on taking important steps for our country. After the previous administration, we desperately need that.

Categories: Obama
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