JUN
25
2005
Kelo v. New London

Kelo v. New London seems to have created a political issue which unites extremists against the moderates, which is pretty interesting in and of itself. Contrary to what libertarians like Eric or Abu Gingy might believe, I don’t welcome this expanse of government power. This isn’t “quasi-socialism,” it’s quasi-fascism–how do we know? This isn’t even “private property be taken for public use, [with] just compensation,” as the Constitution would say; it’s yet another advance in the legalization of corruption, the taking of private property for private use. This is corporatist syncretism, which is really just fascism with an friendly face.

Lefties really need to have a Sister Soulja moment with the majority justices here. It’s a violation of the progressive code of ethics; it’s not even remotely taking from the rich to give to the poor. The application of this principle will necessarily be used against poor people, often those whose only real asset is the family home in a now declining area. (Middle class libertarians can rest assured their houses have a very low chance of being seized by locally elected Communists.) It’s not that the state is (just) abusing eminent domain by lowering the standards for seizure, but that the state is giving away this property to what are necessarily its clients and cronies. Gerrymandering will take on a whole new meaning when you can chase out a whole tract using this legal equivalent to arson. And don’t think for a moment the powers that be will hesitate using a tool to which they may be philosophically opposed; remember when the Republicans were the party of states’ rights? Or that whole frenzy around Congressional term-limits? (That term limits one was hilariously transparent.)

Contrary to hysteria, the ruling does not abolish property rights. In a free market, everything is supposed to be fungible, convertible into liquid assets. Theoretically, the owners of the seized property are compensated according to the market price (although the government’s interests are obviously geared towards undervaluing the property). But is everything as easily commodified as the market requires?

Let’s backtrack for a minute here. “Property” is only possible when security has been assured by a particular monopoly over the use of violence. The state has been put into place (and its police forces focused on the task) to protect property. Specifically, to protect the propertied from unwanted extensions of democracy–that is to say, economic as well as political equality. Back when the terms “liberal” and “conservative” meant “republican” and “monarchist,” the counterargument to democracy was that mob rule would ruin a society without the clear moral guidance of a despot, and that the rich would be consumed by the poor.

What made Western democracies possible (besides the slow extension of the franchise) was the rise of the middle class, a group with just enough property to demand its protection but not enough to buy it the kind of political influence the really propertied want and receive. Kelo v. New London marks an important moment in America’s class struggle; the rich (having coopted government, the poor’s only aid against the hegemony of wealth) have declared they are done fearing the poor and are now officially taking aim at the lower middle class.

Kelo v. New London enables, as surely it will now expand, the booming market in governmental corruption. If this were a Congressional act, I’d call it a giveaway to the lobbying industry. And mark my words, this is a tidal wave which will eventually engulf every ghetto in America.

Now, because this is the Supreme Court, you can bet there will be all sorts of legal philosophizing about the impact of the case in terms of one ‘ism’ versus another, which I shall do my best to ignore. Why?

Between Statists, originalists, federalists, states’ rightists… the truth is, there are really only two kinds of legal theorists; deontolgists (often called “liberals” in legal philosophy) and positivists. This was revealed to me in my Philosophy of Law class, where I threw my lot in with the positivists, even though between the two of them, you could say it’s the most conservative option. Positivism isn’t pretty, but it makes the most sense.

The Declaration of Independence pretty much sums up the tenets of deontology:

” We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” (Psst… originalists: does this mean that women shouldn’t be considered as having those rights as well?)

The problem with declaring that these rights are God-given and inalienable is that you still have to specify which rights those are. I read the Bible and it doesn’t say anything even remotely close to the Bill of Rights. To say that certain rights are God-given is completely meaningless, because if anyone told you they had spoken to God recently about this, you’d just think they were crazy and go one trying to divine God’s plan for yourself.

But the American Revolution needed a moral clarion call, a rallying justification for rich people wanting something and getting poor people to die for it. Remember, “original intent” includes property requirements for voting, so the poor were just trading masters at that point. The same way the Emancipation Proclamation transformed the Civil War into a liberation movement, the Declaration of Independence established not just a new legal philosophy, but a new legal beachhead for Deist theology.

Look at the language; it implies a Prime Mover who is responsible for granting vague ‘rights,’ but is unwilling to intercede on their behalf, leaving it to the people to declare and defend those “inalienable rights.”

In fact, the very process of declaration, of commiting sentiment to text, puts the lie to deontology. God doesn’t need defenders, but people do; and particular people will define a particular sets of rights as “god-given,” as diverse as the gods and cultures of the declarers. In order to have rights, says positivism, they must be posited, promulgated, fabricated from thin air by human beings. As John Austin said famously,

The existence of law is one thing; its merit or demerit is another. Whether it be or be not is one enquiry; whether it be or be not conformable to an assumed standard, is a different enquiry. A law, which actually exists, is a law, though we happen to dislike it, or though it vary from the text, by which we regulate our approbation and disapprobation. (Austin 1995: Lecture V, p. 157)

Even natural law advocates acknowledge the very notion of a ‘right’ is meaningless unless placed in an oppositional context to others’ rights within a society. Whereas some legal systems might recognize a God-given right to blood vengeance, or spousal abuse, or freedom from religion, the manifest truth is that it was mere mortals who actually ennumerate those rights.

Saying that our rights are God-given makes as much sense as the monarchy claiming the divine right of kings; both were accepted as truths because they were useful to the power structures being established.

Getting back to Kelo v. New London, the majority opinion is still legally reasonable, even if the implicatons of the ruling are abhorrent. (Personally, I think it violates the 14th amendment, but I’m sure they dealt with that objection somehow.) I think an eminent domain amendment which prohibits the use of land seized for private ownership would be a much better use of our time than trying to stop flag-burning.

Here’s a link to my previous article about how eminent domain is being abused in my neighborhood–it’s the very definition of crony capitalism: Ratner vs. Prospect Heights.

Before I forget, there’s an excellent and less meandering analysis at Sun Moon Stars Rain.

JUN
08
2005
The Curse of Mount Olympus

New York State Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, playing the role of <i>deus ex machina</i> in the political play known as the West Side Stadium project, descended from the heavens earlier this week to stop the incredibly ill-conceived stadium from being built. Thank goodness.

Let's backtrack for a moment. Mayor Bloomberg has always had the 2012 Olympics on the agenda–and it should be no surprise that Dan Doctoroff, the deputy mayor, is also the head of the Olympic committee. Bloomberg didn't get into the mayor's office because he needed the money, he went there to accomplish great things, as he sees them. (I must say that he's a much more efficient mayor than New York has seen in a long time). And part of the vision is 2012.

The problem is, the Olympics would be disastrous for New York City. To begin with, we don't need it. Everybody has already heard of New York, it's not like we don't have enough publicity or tourists milling about.

We would have to reconfigure our carefully crafted public transit system, housing market, and who-knows-what-else all to service a single event less than a month long, seven years away. We would have to build, at tremendous public expense, even more sports facilities in a city which has more professional sports teams to itself than any other city on the continent.

As I've detailed earlier when talking about Ratner's Nets stadium here in Prospect Heights, there are very few cities who have made money on a stadium, and certainly none in recent memory who have made money on the Olympics. It's a tremendous money drain on a city which is chronically underfunded at state and federal levels while it has the highest tax rate in the country. Security alone for the Olympics will probably cost a billion dollars.

The theory behind getting the Olympics is that it will give the tourist economy a shot in the arm, but our tourist facilities are already bustling near capacity, so it's doubtful the city's revenue base will increase enough to offset our costs. Instead we'll get a bunch of really-specific athletic facilities and the cost of a train ride will be five dollars.

Rich people like Mayor Bloomberg seldom even pay New York City taxes, much less use the subway, so it's hard to see how this is a loser for them. Everybody else should bust out the champagne when the Olympic committee chooses another city to take the fall in 2012.

JAN
26
2004
The Brooklyn Nets, or Ratner vs. Prospect Heights

As some of you may be aware, Bruce Ratner (who is probably the most well-connected realestate developer in New York State) just bought the New Jersey Nets basketball team with the intention of moving them to Brooklyn. This will require the second new stadium to be built in Kings county since 2000.

Ratner has decided on further developing the Times Plaza area where he set up his monstrosity of a shopping mall (Atlantic Center). Times Plaza, the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, was the original site to build the Dodgers a new stadium before Walter O’Malley decided to play some real hardball and move the Dodgers to L.A. and break Brooklyn’s professional-sports-heart. Everyone acknowledges that this is definitely an underdeveloped slice of the borough and pretty much the best place to put a stadium.

So, Bruce Ratner hires Frank Gehry to design the stadium and surrounding corporate office complex and asks the city to condemn and seize large tracts of land around Dean Street–as a private developer without political connections, Ratner would have to purchase the buildings in question. But as a friend of Governor Pataki’s and an all-around big makher in New York, Ratner plans to get the city to use eminent domain to steal the homes of Brooklyn residents. To quote the Washington Post story:

Ratner will ask state agencies to donate the rail lands and city agencies to pay for $150 million worth of utility lines and widened streets. He wants to use $28 million in city sales taxes to pay off his bonds. Ratner is adept at extracting such concessions. In 1996, he opened the Atlantic Center Mall, across the street from his proposed Brooklyn arena. City officials gave him a $18.5 million subsidy and a 23-year property tax abatement. When he had vacancies this year, officials installed two state agencies and paid him $1.6 million in rent.

Basically, Ratner wants the city not only to pay him in tax abatements, but also to “buy” the land for him by using eminent domain. Fortunately, Ratner is also building the New York Times a new headquarters (similarly financed by having the state seize prime midtown property and handing it over to Forest City Ratner and the Times company, who are now business partners), so coverage of the proposed plans in the Gray Lady usually amount to grandstanding for the plan.

Opposition to Ratner’s machinations come in the form of the Prospect Heights Action Coalition, as well as the area’s City Council and State Senate representatives, Laetitia James and Velmanette Montgomery, respectively.

The stadium/development issue is significant to me for several reasons. First of all, I grew up in Prospect Heights. I lived there from the day I came back from the hospital to the day I left for university. Secondly, I currently live in the MetroTech BID*, home to Forest City Ratner Inc. and one of Ratner’s most successful projects. Basically, Ratner tore down a vast swath of 50 to 150-year old slum buildings and built a corporate plaza which includes JPMorganChase (then Chase Manhattan Bank), Verizon (then NYNEX), Keyspan (then Brooklyn Union Gas), and the Polytechnic University campus.

I happen to like what Ratner has done here, for the most part. MetroTech happens to be one of the cleanest blocks in the city, and fairly safe. I live in a dual-use resdiential/commercial zoned loft, and I love the nieghborhood. One of the interesting things about Metrotech is that walking around, you’ll hear pretty much the same conversations one would in midtown Manhattan (worrying about pension plans, complaining about spouses and kids, etc.); the difference is that the ratio of whites to non-whites here is exactly inverse to midtown’s (I’d say roughly 70:30). Not that this has anything to do with Ratner per se.

Racial politics are always lurking behind the surface of New York City politics. The Metrotech development project got off the ground fairly easily–the neighborhood Ratner tore up and replaced with office buildings was occupied mainly by blacks. Traditionally, homes for Navy Yard workers and flophouses for visiting sailors were the norm here, but since the closing of the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1966, the area had become fairly depressed. Ratner did build a number of subsidized residential housing units as a compensatory measure.

When I was growing up, Prospect Heights was mostly black; I recall that ours was one of three or four non-black families on the block… until that summer (was it 1993?) I came home from sleep-away camp to find the neighborhood crawling with young white couples. Those are the folks who are joining the PHAC in droves to prevent their neighborhood from being taken over by Ratner. PHAC and others say the plan will drive rents through the roof, as well as increase crime around the stadium and create a traffic (and parking) nightmare. These are all very valid points and hopefully they will be heard by our billionaire mayor, or perhaps by our law-school-friend-of-Ratner’s governor. Or maybe not. Being that there are more whites in Prospect Heights nowadays (the average PHAC member quoted in the press seems to have been a resident for the past 7-10 years), they will likely have a better chance than the old rowhouse residents on old Johnson Street here in Downtown Brooklyn.

As you can see from this image I’m borrowing from the New York Times, Ratner’s plans don’t just involve a stadium, but a whole commercial district carved out of the northern part of Prospect Heights. It is elsewhere noted that the square mileage Ratner wishes to claim from the city’s eminent domain is equivalent to seven World Trade Centers.

Ratner also happens to own the property right across Atlantic Avenue from the proposed stadium site. The aforementioned Atlantic Center Mall stands on the site which was actually proposed to be used for the new Dodger stadium. Today, that parcel is saddled with what most people agree is a hideous mockery of dodger stadium, a big-box retailer mall crudely shaped into a faux-Ebbets configuration. Ratner also owns the new building being built directly west from the Atlantic Center Mall, facing Flatbush Avenue. That building will become an office complex anchored by the new Bank of New York headquarters and the entrance to a revamped Atlantic Avenue subway/LIRR station. So, essentially, Ratner is just making a huge landgrab for the rest of the area.

Several PHAC-types have suggested that Ratner build the stadium on land he already owns, which would pretty much force him to tear down Atlantic Center. I agree. Here’s my proposal:

Ratner should be forced to tear down Atlantic Center and build the stadium on the originally proposed site of the downtown Brooklyn arena. The MTA should sell Ratner the “air rights” to build over the unsightly LIRR railyards which are truly a “blight” (to use an eminent domain legal term) to the area. The existing garage under Atlantic Center ought to be expanded, and area residents should be given parking tags and priority in finding spots in the neighborhood. Ratner is already getting a huge property tax abatement for his property there, so the city minimizes the losses of tax revenue. Brooklyn gets the Nets, who are, in turn, required to change their name to something less stupid.

Tune in next week when I figure out exactly what’s going on with Ratner’s Downtown Revitalization Plan, in which I may lose my own apartment!

Links:

Field Of Schemes, which follows the stadium/tax break game across the country [building a stadium is usually a loser for municipalities]
PHAC
The New York Post on the New York Times on the Ratner deal
HoopsWorld editorial on the Nets deal.

*Business Improvement District, basically a zone which is maintained by the local merchants’ association which is given tax breaks from the city. This is the program which would allow me to use city funding to hang a sign promoting my business if I so desired (basically, we have to settle on a design).



telegrams lost
 
ASTOR PL OPERA HOUSE RIOTS MARK FIRST TIME ARMY CALLED TO CULL CITY\'S WHEAT FROM LOW-BRED DRUNKEN FILTHY IGNORANT SHAKESPEARE-LOVING CHAFF

NOTICED @DalaiLama HAS OVER ONE MILLION TWITTER FOLLOWERS BUT DOESN\'T FOLLOW ANYBODY BACK STOP HEY EVER HEARD OF A LITTLE THING CALLED KARMA

@KeithOlbermann IDEA: RETURN TO AIR WITH HEARTFELT APOLOGY INDICTING @FoxNews AND HAVE BEN AFFLECK DELIVER IT AS YOU

WHEN WE FOUND GRANDPA MISSING WE FEARED WORST STOP THEN FOUND SILVERWARE AND LIQUOR MISSING STOP AT LEAST HE\'S COMPOS MENTIS

@MoRocca: HIPSTERS ON A PLANE STOP THE HORROR STOP THE HORROR

♺ @MoRocca: So many identical MacBooks on airpt sec conveyer belt. Waiting 4 Mac mix-up romantic comedy w/ Justin Long. Title?

@ZODIAC_MF SON SON SON SON SON SON SON SON SON SON SON

RT @ZODIAC_MF: POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP POP

@EmilyEDickinson WHY CAN EVERYTHING YOU WRITE BE SUNG TO THE TUNE OF GILLIGAN\'S ISLAND STOP WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL US

DADDY WENT AND LOST HIS LEG STOP THE POOR INVALID IS A TERRIBLE POKER PLAYER


 
AUG
22
2012
Something That’s Been Bothering Me For a Few Years Now…

Christine O’Donnell went on TV with her usual claptrap about how Obama is a Marxist and Soledad O’Brien (who is on a huge streak of calling Republicans out in exasperation lately) rolled her eyes. In the clip, we don’t see the subject get pressed too much further, but this has been annoying me for a […]

SEP
30
2011
The Revenge of Icarus

In the summer of 2008, I wrote a short story that was intended to be a comment on what I thought was a coming depression, where overvalued assets would ruin the wealthy and force all those paper millionaires into destitution. I got some positive feedback from a literary agent, who thought I could turn it […]

JUL
18
2011
Are Marginal Academics Going Crazy?

The Wall Street Journal’s most popular article today was an editorial by one Professor Michael J. Boskin entitled, “Get Ready for a 70% Marginal Tax Rate,” and it was a doozy. It hearkened back to bygone days at university, when we carelessly tossed haphazardly written bullshit under the professor’s door a minute after the deadline, […]

MAY
12
2011
Protected: ZKY Teaser

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

MAY
06
2011
Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

I’ve decided to resurrect my dear old blog, now a rambunctious and neglected eight-year old–today! On May 6th in 2003, I decided to start a blog instead of sending my friends links to stuff via Instant Messenger. Back, then, I had to carry these posts uphill both ways; I built my own blog software and […]

SEP
22
2009
This Ought To Be A Healthy Debate

So the President unveiled his health plan(s) to what I thought was an incredible display of bravery on the Republicans’ part, and I’m jealous. I remember what it felt like to torture the substitute teacher from the back of class, yelling out “you lie!” and holding up signs and so forth. These people are really […]

AUG
20
2009
According To My Careful Prosthesis

Like you, I was very concerned about the well-being of crazy right-wingers this summer. Their favorite party out of office, a Democratic super-majority in the Senate, the stock market dragging its feet—how were we, as a nation, going to keep these people off the streets? By staging a gigantic nation-wide debate about healthcare, that’s how. […]

MAY
06
2009
Web 2.1

Usually I talk about politics here, with slight detours into science or arts or things like that, but on the sixth anniversary of Casual Asides, I’ve decided to turn to the foundational element of this blog: technology—specifically, the World Wide Web. Six years is a long time on the Internet, and even longer in the […]

MAY
04
2009
Why Doesn’t Somebody Pull Out A .45 And–Bang!–Settle It?

A modest proposal for extreme and Constitutional gun control: The right is losing a considerable amount of ground in the culture wars—every poll released in the last year shows America lurching to the left on traditional issues for conservatives from gay marriage to economic regulation to opening relations with Cuba. But there is one issue […]

APR
05
2009
The Democracy of Racism

Later this month in Geneva, the United Nations will be holding what it calls the Durban Review Conference (a.k.a. “Durban II”) to “evaluate progress towards the goals set by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.” Part of the agenda at Durban II will be […]

OCT
27
2008
How Can America Break Free Of The Two-Party System?

The economic turmoil of the past year hasn’t just thrown Wall Street into disarray—it’s causing ideological havoc in Washington. The two major parties are just as confused by the crisis as the rest of America, and party lines are becoming blurred just at the point where the Democrats seem poised to steamroll the Republicans on […]

OCT
08
2008
If You Plant Ice, You’re Gonna Harvest Wind

A few years ago, I bet a friend that the Dow Jones Industrial Average, an index of the leading American companies’ stock prices and one of the most celebrated economic indicators on Wall Street, would dip below 10,000 ‘points’ as a result of the oncoming credit crisis. Today I called him at work and said, […]

SEP
16
2008
Drill Up, Stupid

The component of the price of oil due to speculation was always kind of an unknown quantity. At the height of the oil bubble this summer, with prices at $150, someone suggested to Congress that up to a third of the price was actually due to market manipulation (a.k.a. “speculation”) by financial institutions, many of […]

JUN
21
2008
Top Ten Myths About Ecology

Since I spent most of my last appearance on Sirius’ Blog Bunker and all of the previous post talking about oil without too much emphasis on the greenhouse gas part of the equation, I think it behooves us all on the left side of the political spectrum to deal with the fallacies of global warming […]

JUN
20
2008
Driving Like Jehu

What drives oil prices? Everyone has a theory that suits their ideological niche—Democrats blame lack of regulation, Republicans blame too much regulation, and the rest of us wonder why prices aren’t higher than they are already. Earlier this month, Congress got an earful from a variety of oil experts on both sides of the ideological […]

JUN
01
2008
I Don’t Believe In Bullshit

In 1517, a young monk named Martin Luther, began a new era in Christianity by declaring his independence from what he saw as the excesses and iniquities of the Roman Catholic Church. Having kicked off the Reformation by nailing an itemized list of complaints to a church door, Luther challenged not only the orthodoxy of […]

MAY
06
2008
Knock On Wood

It’s Casual Asides’ 5th anniversary. Consider (with the new word count feature at the bottom of each post) that at this point, I’ve written about 260-odd posts and hundreds of thousands of words, enough to fill a decent sized book. That’s gotta be worth something, right? I pause here to consider that although I like […]

MAY
03
2008
Bulls in the China Shop

It’s hard to watch the news lately, because it’s just an interminable vivisection and slow broil of the Democratic candidates, thanks to Hillary’s stalwart refusal to do the math. C’mon, folks, it’s all on CNN’s delegate counter game, which has helpfully added a feature which lets you see exactly why Clinton needs a 66% margin […]

MAR
09
2008
Any Minute Now, Amos ‘n’ Andy Broadcasts Will Reach Planet X!

Dear readers, exciting things are happening. Here’s a quick review of the past few months. That Book I’m Always Talking About For the last two years, I’ve been writing a non-fiction book—it’s what I’m doing when I’m not posting here. When people ask me what the book is about, I usualy say something like, “it’s […]

DEC
05
2007
Casual Policy Suggestions

It’s time for me to tell you what’s good for you, besides the obvious—cod liver oil, plenty of sunshine, and switching to a ‘light’ cigarette. Start Snitching The greatest thing about the immigration debate today is that everyone involved in debating it in the media is totally full of shit. You have your Lou Dobbses, […]

NOV
06
2007
Why I Am A Pacifist

I missed the anti-war rally last weekend. I’d call it a peace rally, but nobody’s really for ‘peace’ anymore; the majority of the country still thinks the war in Afghanistan was justified, and they’re even receptive to bombing Iran. Even the majority of the country who is now against the Iraq war isn’t really against […]

OCT
13
2007
Fall Behind

Dear readers, you may be wondering what I’ve been up to, since lately dispatches are few and I never call anymore. Well, I’ve been working on a book. If you want a copy of the proposal, e-mail me and I’ll send it to you. For the purposes of this website, the proposal is to be […]

AUG
29
2007
The Rotting Corpse of King Croesus

Now that News Corp has all purchased the Wall Street Journal and late capitalism is experiencing yet another paroxysm—er, market correction—I think it behooves us all to consider the fate of the lowly Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. You see, way back in the 1920′s the market was booming—everybody was getting rich speculating in the market […]

AUG
20
2007
Everyone But Thee And Me

Welcome to another edition of actual casual asides, seasoned as usual with gotchas and I-told-you-sos. Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls… The United States and our allies have no rational interest in disclosing how many people we’ve killed in Iraq and Afghanistan if that number is inclusive of civilians. “We don’t do body counts,” […]

JUL
31
2007
The World Would Swing, If I Were King

The foreign policy spat between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton couldn’t have been scripted better for the mainstream media. It’s also the reason why watching politics in America drives me crazy. The great triangulation has begun. Lyndon Johnson had the Texas two-step, and the Clintons have the Sister Souljah moment. It’s one of their ways […]

JUL
17
2007
Is Virginia As Lost As Anbar?

Sometimes, it’s too easy. What kind of idiot protests that the surge is working? “AJStrata,” for one, who wrote this charming piece of tripe which I cannot help but “fisk.” So, let’s get into it: The signs abound that Iraq is stabilizing. The massacres of Muslims that al-Qaeda and the Mahdi Malitia [sic] inflict are […]

JUL
12
2007
A Rose By Any Other Name

Sometimes I wonder how many times I can restate essentially the same points about Iraq. I’ve been doing it for over four years now. I suppose I should derive some satisfaction from the fact that the majority of Americans are now against the war. Unfortunately, that’s like the majority of Americans being against the Big […]

JUL
05
2007
Oh, Pobrecito!

When will Americans learn that prison just isn’t fit for rich people? Apparently, it was these last few weeks. First there’s the Paris Hilton in-and-out again with the overcrowded California correctional system. When asked why Hilton was being released a second time before her setnece had been served, an official mumbled somehing about ‘health concerns’ […]

JUN
29
2007
Homework Over Summer Vacation

There’s been so much stuff going on in the past month, both in the world and my own life, that I feel like I fell behind in the news somewhere around the beginning of June. Hence, no posts; I’ve been working on some other things. But There are some things I’d like to address, briefly: […]

MAY
28
2007
They’ve Plucked, They’ve Sown, They’ve Hollowed Him In

The thrashing of Iraq continues. Today is Memorial Day, when America traditionally celebrates the deaths of its military men and women by going to the beach and wearing funereal shades of white and so forth. Speaking of symbolic dates, I propose a new slogan for the anti-war marchers for the summer season: “Out By September […]

MAY
18
2007
Change A Light Bulb, Save Darfur

I can’t quite put my finger on why I’ve singled Republican Presidential candidate Duncan Hunter out as my bête noire, but I have, so deal with it. Hunter isn’t as dangerous to civil rights as, say, Sam Brownback, or as connivingly amoral as Rudy Giuliani, but there’s something about him that just rubs me the […]

MAY
10
2007
If The Hoods Don’t Get You, The Monoxide Will

As I mentioned earlier, the Democrats don’t have enough backbone to do.. well, nothing, and let the Iraq war end in 180 days. So, they’re going to continue to fund the war in some fashion, likely by insisting on “benchmarks,” which is now the catchphrase du jour . As with everything else about the American […]

MAY
06
2007
Four More Years

Today is this blog’s fourth birthday, and as you can see, I’ve done a bit of a redesign. The old design was intentionally cluttered, because that’s how my desk looks. But I figured that, as I say at the bottom of all my e-mails, “non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitam,” which means not to multiply […]

MAY
03
2007
Ask the Cop in The Woodpile

Yesterday as I was watching Fox News, I heard a small but sharp explosion and the clatter of plastic shrapnel. The batteries in my VCR remote, which I last remember replacing sometime in college, decided that they’d had enough. A cursory examination of the debris showed the batteries were supposed to expire in 2012, with […]

APR
26
2007
Cannon Fodder

C-SPAN is getting better and better with the Democrats putting the investigations front and center. I have to say it’s thrilling to watch Republicans squirm after years of this bullshit going the other way. Kucinich, bless him, is even going after Dick Cheney with articles of impeachment. I am a big fan of this approach, […]

APR
14
2007
Gender Divides

There are a few topics I try to avoid on this blog; Israel, monetary policy, cats. But I suppose the most glaring omissions are feminist concerns (closely followed by Darfur, a topic about which I have long struggled to write without much success). I’m not going to offer some lame excuse like “I just don’t […]

APR
11
2007
Barbarians at the Logic Gates

Let me state at the outset that I am a huge, huge fan of both Tim O’Reilly and Jimmy Wales. I own several O’Reilly books, and obviously I use wikipedia all the time. I respect them immensely, and we should all bow before their superior technological wisdom. Except in this case: A widely forwarded New […]

APR
10
2007
Ultimately, The Buck Stops Nowhere

Four years into the occupation in Iraq and it's still going on, despite the mounting frustrations of all involved. My writing on the subject has begun to resemble a post-mortem on a still-living body. I felt like I was beating a dead horse in 2005

APR
10
2007
Round and Round

Being philosophically-self aware is a very special kind of hell. The simpler your thinking, the more complicated your life becomes. While other people have no problems with the inherently self-contradictory, people like me get stuck on little details like how the entire world has obviously gone totally batshit. I had this problem with the war […]

APR
08
2007
Start The Selective Outrage Machine

I know I’ve ragged on Pope Benedict before for being a Nazi, but I do feel compelled to quote his Easter speech yesterday morning: How many wounds, how much suffering there is in the world! Natural calamities and human tragedies that cause innumerable victims and enormous material destruction are not lacking. … I am thinking […]

APR
05
2007
Kill Your Idols

Oh, Christopher Hitchens. I used to be your biggest fan. I hate Mother Theresa and Bill Clinton just like you. I even forgave your support of the war in the early days of the invasion, because I knew you sympathize with the plight of Kurdistan. But you don’t return my e-mails or call. And then […]

MAR
30
2007
An Unpublished Hermit's Letters, Vol. 4

I'm in the middle of this really long, drawn out criticism of Christopher Hitchens' "I wasn't right, but I wasn't wrong" piece on Slate from last week, but it's taking way too long to pen and you, dear readers, are probably wondering what the hell is going on. So, I substitute a letter I wrote […]

MAR
15
2007
When You Hit 18, Stick to Civilian Life

I'm back from the valley of the shadow of blog death with an old favorite

JAN
16
2007
The Way To Win At Gambling Is To Leave When You're Ahead

Right off the bat, I'm going to make an embarrassing admission–several, actually. Earlier, I quoted Clausewitz as saying block|Clausewitz also said, the best way to attack a powerful enemy is to attack the weakness in their greatest strength.|block Clausewitz did not say this. Al Ries and Jack Trout said it. "Who?" I hear you cry. […]

JAN
09
2007
Dashing The Troops Against Iraq With Surging Tides

So the President is planning a surge, is he? All the warning signs are there–Dad’s friends on the Iraq Study Group embarrassed him, and he knows he has to announce some kind of change, so why not go for broke and double down on America’s military future? So The SurgeTM gets floated in some neoconservative […]

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