December 31, 2009
Like most human beings who are most definitely not alien invaders come to lay waste to your foolish excuse for a global civilization, I try to observe how my behavior affects the response of those around me, and experiment for better results. I got rather late into the game, and have much to catch up on, for reasons completely unrelated to living my life peacefully on a distant planet with the other superior lifeforms.
This new year’s eve marks, forgive the cliche, a turning point, or at least that’s the plan: I have finished my degree, and intend to switch focus sharply to doing more things that I actually want to do, and bettering myself. So this seems a good time to dive into the waters of that universal human pastime, the new year’s resolutions.
It is my intention, this upcoming year, to accomplish the following every month:
-Write and edit one chapter of my novel, with the goal of reaching the end of it by the end of the year.
-Write at least one short story in addition to each chapter, and try to sell short stories to magazines, to establish myself as a writer and “get my name out there”.
-Read and study in-depth one Shakespeare play.
In addition to that, I also intend to join the university gym and take advantage of its facilities regularly. I also intend to join one of the university’s many martial arts clubs, for weekly practice, and also look into the university dance club.
In general I intend to nurture what I described to my friend as “irresistable qualities”, and in general see about acquiring a more positive mentality. For example, in the past year it has been my feeling that everything I learn from my social experiments was of a fairly negative quality: I learned about people’s disappointing qualities up-close and personal, I learned to judge people more harshly. In fact, as I put it on facebook one rough day, I learned how to give up on people. It is my hope, this upcoming year, to learn what positive things humanity has to offer. If I can’t find them a superior lifeform may descend upon the earth to purge this disease from the universe.
I’m only speculating, obviously.
December 30, 2009
Guess who said this:
One thing that is missing here is never asking the question what is the motive? He said why he was — he did it. He said it was because we bombed Yemen two weeks ago. That was his motive. Osama bin Laden said that he has a plan for America. First, he wants to bog us down in the Middle East in a no-win war. He wants to bankrupt this country, demoralize us, as well as have us do things that motivate people to join his radical movement.
It seems like we’ve fallen into his trap. Why is it off base? Today, when the gentleman indicated that he did it because of the bombing, you know what the administration said? They dismissed it. It can’t possibly be so. If you dismiss motivations for why they hate us, we can never resolve this. There’s hate on both sides. You have to ask the question, why do they hate? And they usually come up with a reason. And we’re foolish not to take that into consideration.
The answer, surprisingly, is Ron Paul, libertarian Republican congressman, and the past was, well, last night.
December 29, 2009
Anderson says Jesus never would have had disciples or a large following if he was poor. He would not have been able to command their respect.
That’s the American conservative worldview, ladies and gentlemen. It’s nothing new either; watch the movie version of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and you will see that the great debate within the church that has brought them all to the monastery is exactly the question of whether Jesus owned things or not, with the opulent and corrupt papal delegation saying, of course, that because he did it’s okay for the church to live in immense wealth while their flocks live in squalor. The Protestant Reformation, to move forward a few centuries, was unleashed by the protest to the church peddling indulgences, which is to say selling God’s blessing and entry to heaven for money.
I meant to post something before, but I had to leave in a bit of a hurry and forgot, well, rather a lot of things. I was out of town for the past week, away from my internet connection, and returned home less than 24 hours ago, at around 1.30 AM on Monday. I was up north with my relatives for the holidays, an event made of extremes: it was great fun, except for the parts (the weather, the effect the weather had on my travel arrangements, and the effect the weather and the effect the weather had on my travel arrangements had on my health) which were absolutely awful. But now I’m home again, and after a few days of recuperating from the cold I always seem to get whenever I go up north, things will hopefully return to a new and improved state of normality.
*: If you follow the Supply-Side Jesus link you’ll see that it is by Al Franken and Don Simpson. Yes, that is Al Franken the US Senator from Minnesota, formerly a liberal comedian, activist and commentator, who won the most narrow race in last year’s election, beating Republican incumbent Norm Coleman by a mere few hundred votes in a state of millions.
December 16, 2009
The “individual mandate” is a part of the health care reform (hah) bill that would require everyone who doesn’t have insurance to buy it. With a strong, affordable public option in play, this would be a good way to reduce the vast numbers of the uninsured. Without a public option, it makes everyone slaves of the cartoonishly evil private health insurance industry, forcing the uninsured to buy a product that they had already decided they couldn’t afford, or was too crappy for them to want. Low-income people have previously been forced to choose between buying food and buying medicine. Although a dire situation, the choice isn’t that difficult: everyone would choose to buy food. Well, with the individual mandate, they will no longer be allowed to.
December 16, 2009
December 16, 2009
December 16, 2009
Harry Reid has once again done what he does best, shoot himself and his party in the foot. Oh sure, he’s not the only person who carries significant blame. He may not even be the most to blame (obviously there’s Joe Lieberman, but Reid is supposed to be the guy in charge). But he has now declared that there will be no public option in any Senate bill, and no medicare expansion.
Personally I’m leaning toward no, because I’m that idealistic. Voting for what’s left will reinforce the age-old attitude that there will be no negative consequences to pissing off the progressive wing, the single biggest block, of the Democratic party, that you can beat them as much as you want and they’ll come running back for more. The leadership needs to face up to the fact that that block is the block of Congress that is most in line with the mainstream of US public opinion, that when you piss them off what you are doing is no less than slapping each individual voter in the face and telling them not to vote for you in the next election. And they won’t. They are signing their own death warrants here. It’s really quite an astonishing feat. I have to seriously believe that I personally could have lead the party to a stronger position than these decades-veterans are doing.
And besides, at the end of the day? I think Lieberman will still vote against it anyway, even when they’ve given him everything he asked for.
December 15, 2009
I’m sure everyone reading this knows the general content of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. The response generally has been favorable, even among treehugging peaceniks like the Nobel Peace Prize Committee. In fact at least one newspaper called it the best speech ever made in Norway. Personally I didn’t like it much, and think the Norwegian people, having listened to the likes of Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjørn Jagland all their lives, are entirely unaccostumed to the kind of soaring rhetoric you see every day in American politics.
America’s warmongering conservatives liked it, even. This surprises me. Not because the speech didn’t say what they would have liked it to say (it did), but because, well, they’ve never let reality get in the way of their criticizing everything Obama ever does. Like this:
WALLACE: After a series of speeches overseas in which he apologized for past American actions, President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize this week with a strong statement of the positive role the U.S. has played in the world.
The “series of speeches overseas in which he apologized for past American actions”, needless to say, exists only in the fevered conservative imagination. He never did anything of the sort, they all imagined it and told each other so and accepted each other’s fantasies uncritically – which makes me wonder why they didn’t just as well imagine that he did it again in the Nobel speech.
My own opinion of the speech – and I can’t believe I’m actually writing this – is about the same as Bill Kristol’s, one of the most wretched monsters in the warmongering circuit:
He gave the most Bush-like speech of his presidency.
Of course, he means that as a positive, for exactly the same reasons I mean it as a negative. But it’s true, the Obama speech was about putting a prettier face on what was basically the Bush worldview: World War 2 was a good war, and therefore everything the US does is as good. Pure black and white morality: We are supremely good, are never going to admit to making any mistakes, and are going to continue declaring that anyone we happen to be fighting are evil.
Evil does indeed exist, but once you have to resort to military force to fight it, that means you’re already at the end of possible responses. But certain people think that should be the first resort, not the last. Obama never acknowledged the obvious truth that when you destroy people’s homes and countries, that doesn’t actually make them like you or become sympathetic to your ideology. The nazis were not inhuman monsters; their human origin is what makes them so frightening. They were a large country of otherwise ordinary humans who were driven into insanity by a mere handful of the actual evil people, charismatic extremists who offered a false but attractively simple solution to a country ravaged by countless ills. And so it is with the Islamic extremists Obama insists upon fighting – they too are ordinary people pushed into extremism by deprivation around them coupled with a destructive ideology provided by a mere handful of ruthless extremists. The US now believes there are approximately one hundred members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, no more.
But Obama has this unfortunate tendency to try solving problems at the wrong end. He seemingly never looks to the underlying causes, but pretends the situation popped into existence from a vacuum. He lets the real culprits go, or else treats them as being no more influential than the lowest of their grunts. Evil does exist in the world. But there is a difference between the people who create the evil, and those who go along with it. America’s foreign policy has always been to focus on the grunts and avoid paying any attention to the leaders because, in spite of the traditional assertion that the US is purely a force for good in the world, if they look at who funds the evildoers, who trains them and supports them, who gives them reason to be angry in the first place, and who profits off of their actions, they will see some of their own close friends and associates therein. And more important than actually solving their problems is protecting their friends, even if their friends directly or indirectly helped create those problems. That’s what health care reform, the banking bailout, and pretty much everything that’s happened in Congress in the last hundred years has been all about.
December 14, 2009
The Huffington Post and Roll Call are both reporting that Joe Lieberman notified Harry Reid that he will filibuster health-care reform if the final bill includes an expansion of Medicare. Previously, Lieberman had been cool to the idea, saying he wanted to make sure it wouldn’t increase the deficit or harm Medicare’s solvency (and previously to that, he supported it as part of the Gore/Lieberman health-care plan). That comforted some observers, as the CBO is expected to say it will do neither. Someone must have given Lieberman a heads-up on that, as he’s decided to make his move in advance of the CBO score, the better to ensure the facts of the policy couldn’t impede his opposition to it.
To put this in context, Lieberman was invited to participate in the process that led to the Medicare buy-in. His opposition would have killed it before liberals invested in the idea. Instead, he skipped the meetings and is forcing liberals to give up yet another compromise. Each time he does that, he increases the chances of the bill’s failure that much more. And if there’s a policy rationale here, it’s not apparent to me, or to others who’ve interviewed him. At this point, Lieberman seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals. That is to say, he seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.
Remember that post from a few days ago saying that pissing off liberals is the chief policy objective of the opposition, of which Joe Lieberman clearly is a member in spite of having been given a committee chairmanship by the majority party. And nothing pisses off liberals like the needless deaths of innocents. Joe Lieberman knows this, and so he is fine with killing as many innocents as possible. After all, it pisses off the liberals. And that is what matters.
Update: Joe Lieberman did in fact support expanding Medicare as recently as September, as an alternative to the public option.