Author Archive

Quote of the Day

Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon says, really, everything that needs to be said on the policy end of VBL Day:

The two possible reactions to 9/11 were to exploit the situation to start conducting a bunch of fruitless wars that would only instigate more hatred towards the U.S. as we racked up civilian casualties, and to limit our response to police actions to nab important terrorist leaders while supporting democratic movements throughout the Middle East.  Liberals have always supported the latter (except for a few featherheads who really did suggest a do-nothing strategy, but they were always a teeny tiny minority), and we were right.  We told you so.  We were right.  And I’m not going to let pointless scolding about “civility” stop me from saying so.  We were right.  Our preferred strategy got Bin Laden.  Our preferred strategy is what is causing change in the Middle East.  We’re not getting what we want by conquering nations, but by recognizing the autonomous desires and abilities of people all around the world.  We were right.

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If you read one thing I wish I’d written on Libya

Really, it’s very much worth reading the whole thing. It’s balanced and interesting. This graf, though, is worth printing out and taping up somewhere.

This is particularly a problem because there is no good option in Libya: with respect to UN intervention, both “nothing” and “something” are completely terrible. And you need to understand that I understand that, because otherwise — no matter how I say what I will eventually say about it — you may mistake me for someone who is in the business of not only predicting the future, but of demanding that a particular course of action, based on my particular insight into events, is the right one. You will mistake me for someone who is under the illusion that “if I were president” is a useful premise for commentary. It’s not, and I’m not doing that. I’m watching the news day-by-day, reading aboutthepast and revising my opinion as I get more information. “When the facts change, I change my opinion,” as Keynes supposedly said; “What do you do, sir?”

Please, though, do go on and read the whole thing. That’s just a teaser from the introduction, and I mostly quoted it because “there are no good options” is my political philosophy in a nutshell.

Whites-only Marijuana.

I didn’t ever actually go back and blog more about the The New Jim Crow, which I mentioned here, but I’d like to bring it up again for a second. The general thrust of this book is that the War on Drugs created a permanent underclass in much the same way that Jim Crow laws and black codes did after the civil war. The statistics and stories presented in the book, as well as the description of how the broad police powers granted by anti-drug legislation and SCOTUS decisions on them have significantly damaged civil liberties, will make you sick at heart.

So for the past few days, I’ve been thinking about medical marijuana. In the early days of this blog, I made some embarrassingly naive comments about medical marijuana. I talked some about American views on poverty, and mentioned race only in passing. Looking at medical marijuana, I think I was wrong to leave out race.

I believe that widespread adoption of medical marijuana laws at the state level, without corresponding decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level, will in effect create a whites-only space to use pot. Consider, for example, the already existing disparities in the way medication is prescribed. Also, see Joe Klein’s “The boomers like it, and really, who else matters” argument in Time from a few years ago. There’s a movement for the reform of marijuana laws in this country, but it’s by and large a movement for the reform of marijuana laws for relatively-affluent whites, rather than a movement aimed at any sort of justice.

Need to bone up

Who among you can recommend me some good books to get up to speed on the following topics:

  • International Relations Theory
  • History of Africa from ~1800 onward
  • History of Asia (outside of China), from about the same time frame

I’m keenly feeling my deficits in these areas, and want to improve.

ETA: Also, any human-readable books on computer science or cryptography would be appreciated.

Peter King – American Radical

I alluded in an earlier post to the supreme and hysterical irony of Peter King leading a committee on support by American minorities for foreign terrorists. Salon has a run down here, for anyone interested.

A Thought Experiment

So, imagine you’re the governor of the imaginary state of Blobsylvania. You pass a law that says that baseball teams can exist, but they are not allowed to play baseball. Sell jerseys, fine. Host memorabilia signings, ok. But they’re not allowed to play any games involving two teams, pitchers, batters, bases, etc.

This would, I’m sure we can agree, pretty much gut baseball as a thing. It would destroy the very reason baseball teams exist.

This is what just happened in Wisconsin. When you say that unions aren’t allowed to collectively bargain for the good of their members, you take away their reason to be. It’s not, as far as I know, legal to just flat out ban unions (people better at this than me can confirm/disconfirm). But Walker just took public employees back to the gilded age, but cutting out the unions’ reason to exist.

Sorry

I really do have thoughts and opinions on things, but you’ll note that once Tim and I both got full time jobs, the number of posts here dropped dramatically. Lately, the most I’ve been able to do is choose a quote and add maybe one or two lines about it. Which, thankfully, is what tumblr was designed for. Mostly, it’s been reproductive rights, since HR3 is, basically, the most degrading piece of legislation to come out of congress since the Fugitive Slave Act.

I should, god willing/inshallah/knock wood be posting some thoughts on The New Jim Crow in the next couple days. I borrowed it from my girlfriend, and read it all in one sitting, and would like to revisit some parts of it. In short, if you care about ideas like “justice” and “citizenship,”  you need to read this book.