Category Archives: Politics

a long time coming

I haven’t posted in awhile. I’ve been busy with vacations (to Tennessee and Massachusetts), going to RSA, raising our son, and a lot of background reading about the Japanese military in WWII, among other side projects.

What provokes me to pose today is the RNC, where Trump stands poised to seize the Republican nomination.

I have to say, this is a new low for the party.  Trump is odious. So is Pence. Neither is qualified to run a lemonade stand. And Trump beat out a dozen radical right-wingers to get here. Moderate Republicans are either dead or too scared to speak against him.

Trump/Pence appear to have the automatic 40% that any party nominees enjoy.  They will doubtlessly get a boost from the convention. Then it’s Clinton’s turn.

It seems like the stakes just get higher and higher every four years. Right now we’re looking at a man whose ego is the size of Mt. Everest – with the attention span of a gnat – who wants to have control of the nuclear football.  Unless your goal in this election is to start WWIII, there are only two reasonable, rational choices. Either sit out the election or vote Democrat.

So, Republicans, I suggest you stay home in November. I won’t ask you to vote for Hillary, but you could take a stance against feeding Trump’s ego. He’s not in this out of a sense of duty to the country. He’s in it out of narcissism, pure and simple. Hillary may not be the perfect candidate, but at least her moderate experience as SOS means she won’t fire off nukes for an ego boost.

Think about that. Temperment has always been a key factor in evaluating presidential candidates. Watch what Trump does when he is criticized.

Does he EVER admit fault? Of course not. He’s always right.

Does he respond civilly? Of course not. He goes ad hominem out of reflex. Anyone who speaks against him is a “loser.”

Does he show any evidence of being able to make complex decisions based on complex information with the aid of advisers? Hah. I listen to his speeches and I can’t even imagine him doing something thoughtful. He already has all the answers. Why bother consulting anyone?

As Clinton gears up for the general election, we’re going to see more and more of the populace become aware of these qualities, which are already in evidence, but not widespread knowledge.

Oh, yeah. Warren should be the VP pick. Clinton needs all the Sanders voters.

 

Enough

I have an online subscription to the New York Times. For the most part, I enjoy it. But today, I’m going to cancel it.  Why? Not enough coverage of Bernie Sanders. The paper is uncritically pro-Clinton to a nausea-inducing degree, and I’m sick of it. The man is winning state after state and this is not deemed newsworthy. Normally I can subtract the bias and get my news, but right now I get a better news breakdown from Facebook that I do from the Times.

Wow

I’d almost forgotten about this site.  I’ve been busy dealing with the new house, a rapidly growing baby (now almost ten months!), and work, to the point that some things have started to slide off of the radar.

I have a lot to say about the presidential race, and very little of it pleasant, so I’ll spare the reader that and instead talk about what I find positive. Namely, I favor Bernie Sanders this time around. Finally, a promising candidate that is almost as far left as I am! He just narrowly missed beating Hillary in Iowa, so he’s off to a pretty good start that would have seemed impossible six months ago. He’ll probably win New Hampshire, but South Carolina looks dicey. Time will tell.

I have started preliminary work on a new collaborative article that involves translation from the Japanese. It’s excited and new (actually, exciting and old) and that is all I will share for now.

 

 

 

 

Ferguson speech

The prosecutor in the Ferguson case, Robert McCulloch, gave a very interesting speech last night while announcing the grand jury’s decision. I am particularly interested in it because of the extensive use of moderating language, given that I have published a piece recently on moderation.

Over and over again, McCulloch stressed that the grand jury had worked extremely hard and that every piece of possible evidence had been extensively weighed and considered, and that the process was fair and impartial and had considered every angle. This must have been 90% of his prepared remarks and much of it predicated the actual announcement of the grand jury’s decision. The other 10% was criticizing the media. The announcement of the decision was almost anticlimactic given the amount of apology that preceded it.

Needless to say, all this moderating language as an apology for the decision could not have possibly succeeded. Ultimately the speech could do little more than reinforce the beliefs those who believed the shooting was justified, and anger those that thought the incident was some form of murder. In short, McCulloch was in a no-win situation, rhetorically – there is literally nothing he could have said that would change anyone’s reaction to the news. About the only way he could have done worse is to not give the speech at all.

Followup

A quick followup to an earlier post. I was unaware of a number of existing and past lawsuits and situations.

A bakery shop in Oregon recently moved its storefront to a home bakery after backlash from refusing service to a gay marriage.  The opposite also seems to apply; you can see your business double if you refuse in Colorado. A few more examples of the phenomenon are here and here (a photographer), with mixed results.

Both Oregon and Colorado and New Mexico (the states involved in these cases) have anti-discrimination laws for businesses that cover sexual orientation. If you’re going to operate a business, you have to abide by the law. Let’s say, for example, that your religion prohibited serving black people; the law wisely doesn’t care. Why, then, should businesses get a religious exemption for serving gay marriages?

Now let’s flip it. Is it fair to discriminate against a bakery that refuses service to gay marriage? I’m equivocating “discrimination” here – let’s say “avoid doing business with.” Well, sure. It’s certainly not right to threaten them – that’s against the law as well as unethical – but advising others to not do business with them is perfectly fine.

Does a business have the right to discriminate as it chooses? “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” is a sign I see often in restaurants. It’s an empty threat, of course, against an anti-discrimination lawsuit.

This case of a florist in Washington state – where same-sex marriage is legal – is fascinating, directly pitting the First Amendment (which apparently protects flower arranging) against the state’s anti-discrimination laws. Whose civil rights will triumph?

Syria

Obama has put Congress in a pickle. Vote yes and agree with ‘Obama’s war’ – vote no and vote for Assad. Vote yes and defend against the Iran-Syria nexus, vote no and keep America out of a so-far-unpredictable civil war. Vote yes and satisfy the party hawks; vote no and satisfy a generally dovish public. This is going to be a tough call for every representative and senator come the 9th.

Constitutionally, Obama’s move is without precedent. No president, I believe, has put military intervention short of war to a Congressional vote before, in this post-post-modern age of ours. I can see why he felt that he had to; with no UN and no Britain, the traditional ways of justifying action are absent. But it is an unprecedented move without a easily predictable outcome – a strange roll of the dice for our buttoned-up chief executive.

The Times reports today that McCain and Graham are behind strikes;  that means the Senate is probably locked up for yes. That leaves the House. There is a lot of talk that the Republicans are split between hawks and an growing isolationist streak, making the vote important symbolically for which side is currently stronger.

I’ll say this. Isolationist politics do not historically fare well in hindsight. They generally delay the inevitable. We are already deeply involved in the Syrian civil war, well before any missiles are fired, whether there is action or not, just like Iran, Russia, and China are deeply involved with or without direct aid.

It probably boils down to whether or not the Navy can launch a devastating enough strike to damage Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons, and shut down their air force and air defenses in the bargain. I’m guessing the answer is yes.

There are six destroyers currently in the eastern Med, and an unknown amount of submarines with cruise missile capability. They can probably fire 200 to 300 Tomahawks, I’m guessing again, in a single strike without resupply. Tomahawks are mostly fuel and less warhead so they have to be targeted very precisely; the Pentagon’s willingness to use them at this point suggest ground and satellite intelligence is very good.  It’s unknown if the delay for the Congressional vote will change this – probably not, if Obama is willing to wait that long.

photographers, bakers, florists

From the Family Research Council, reacting to the SCOTUS decisions today:

He foresees that Americans will be outraged when the fallout from the DOMA decision trickles down to the grass roots, when “children are taught morals in school that are in contradiction to their parents,” and “photographers, bakers, florists and others are forced to participate in same-sex marriages.”

I can see it now. Photographers, bakers, florists forced at gunpoint to accept payment for their services! News at eleven. No one’s being forced to do anything, unless you think being asked to mind your own business is a sign of fascism. In fact, photographers, bakers, and florists should appreciate a predictable increase in that very business. That is, if they like having more money rather than less money, which the vast majority of people do, even those against gay marriage.

Cutting your losses

Edward Snowden is still on the run. Unknown if he will make it to Ecuador. In any case, I think it is in the best interests of the United States to let him get away. It’s just too late; at this point he is practically a living martyr, like Julian Assange. The damage is done and there is no real benefit to imprisoning him. Bradley Manning is in prison and will likely stay there, so there is already a deterrent for future would-be leakers, although ironically, Snowden was reportedly inspired by Manning, so…

I understand, of course, that the U.S. feels the need to put up a certain front when pursuing Snowden. But there are bigger problems to worry about, such as Syria, and global news cycles filled with a 30-year-old whiz kid running circles around U.S. extradition are counterproductive. I don’t think he’s a pawn of Russia or China yet, but as long as the U.S. continues to yammer for his swift return, the longer he stays in the news.