July 05, 2010
Why this liberal doesn't love the Second Amendment

Also on the Daily Kos. This diary began as a comment to Angry Mouse's front page diary on the Daily Kos about the Second Amendment, but since it ended up being nearly a thousand words long, I decided to make a full diary out of it. It ended up on the rec list, over 400 comments at last count.


I was born in the US and have lived in Germany for the past 24 years, and although many Americans don't like to hear it, it remains an enduring truth: the proliferation of guns and prevalence of gun violence in the United States is appalling, tragic, breaks my heart as an American, and is utterly out of line with just about all of the Western democracies that we consider comparable to ours. No American, certainly no liberal, should be willing to stand for it a moment longer. Certainly it's possible to do a lot about that without changing anything about the 2nd Amendment, but if repealing the Amendment is what it takes, it wouldn't bother me in the slightest.

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March 07, 2010
Process Over Principle

I'm afraid I don't have much of anything original to add to this, but these two paragraphs in today's NYT op-ed by Frank Rich are worth quoting (and the whole thing's worth a read):

Obama prides himself on not being ideological or partisan — of following, as he put it in his first prime-time presidential press conference, a “pragmatic agenda.” But pragmatism is about process, not principle. Pragmatism is hardly a rallying cry for a nation in this much distress, and it’s not a credible or attainable goal in a Washington as dysfunctional as the one Americans watch in real time on cable. Yes, the Bush administration was incompetent, but we need more than a brilliant mediator, manager or technocrat to move us beyond the wreckage it left behind. To galvanize the nation, Obama needs to articulate a substantive belief system that’s built from his bedrock convictions. His presidency cannot be about the cool equanimity and intellectual command of his management style.

That he hasn’t done so can be attributed to his ingrained distrust of appearing partisan or, worse, a knee-jerk “liberal.” That is admirable in intellectual theory, but without a powerful vision to knit together his vision of America’s future, he comes off as a doctrinaire Democrat anyway. His domestic policies, whether on climate change or health care or regulatory reform, are reduced to items on a standard liberal wish list. If F.D.R. or Reagan could distill, coin and convey a credo “nonideological” enough to serve as an umbrella for all their goals and to attract lasting majority coalitions of disparate American constituencies, so can this gifted president.

During the first half of last year, Obama had an extraordinary opportunity to articulate the moral case for his causes, creating public pressure on the opposition not to stand in the way of his goals, and defining the broadest ambitions as the starting point of negotiations. Instead, he gave away concessions, before negotiations ever began, that a recalcitrant opposition has pocketed while stonewalling him on everything anyway, recognizing that he won't make them pay any political price for it. Maybe he can still recapture that moment, I'm not so sure if it's possible any more, but first and foremost, he'll have to want to lead that way in the first place.

February 08, 2010
Goodbye, Cruel Sun

On January 27th, the Oracle Corporation completed the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, my former employer.

The history of Sun's high ride and demise, and the continuing story of the newly-merged Oracle's fortunes, will occupy the minds of the IT industry and its pundits for a long time to come. I could easily go on and on about it, but that's not what I want to talk about here. Instead, I think that something should be pointed out about the way it all ended. It's another example of a phenomenon that's been covered extensively in political circles, and present in the public mind ever since the Wall Street collapse -- grotesquely extravagant compensation and golden parachutes for executives whose performance, on objective terms, can only be viewed as failure, compared to the burdens borne by laid-off rank-and-file employees who were far less responsible for the company's woes. What does this tell us about the Reaganist dogma of an unencumbered free market that currently has a powerful grip on the minds of almost everyone in the US ruling class? The circumstances of my own departure from Sun, under the laws and standards of a "socialist" European state, have something to say about that.

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November 24, 2009
Sarah and the Buckeye Blockheads

Oh dear. Sarah Palin was at a book signing outside a Border's bookstore in my beloved hometown, and the interviewer asks people attending about their political views. What follows is a display of blaring knuckleheadedness that wrenches the stomach. It's a parade of nincompoops so profoundly clueless that they lack any awareness of their cluelessness.

I wish I could say I'm amazed, but I can't. The fact is that I've known a lot of people like this from back home, and I frankly don't know what can be done to get them to come to their senses. I'm immensely proud to be a Buckeye, especially last Saturday, but it's things like this that leave me embarrassed and close to despair.

(From NewLeftMedia, h/t Matt Yglesias via Ramou)

September 19, 2009
"Why I threw the shoe"

(Also at The Daily Kos)

Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist known throughout the world as the man who threw his shoes at Dubya during a press conference, was released on Tuesday after serving nine months in prison for his act of protest, claiming that he was subjected to electric shocks and waterboarding while in custody. In today's Guardian, he writes about why he did it:

I am not a hero. But I have a point of view. I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated; and to see my Baghdad burned, my people killed. Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, pushing me towards the path of confrontation. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Falluja, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. I travelled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and heard with my own ears the screams of the orphans and the bereaved. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.

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May 11, 2009
Days in the life of a geek

To get MySQL running after a Solaris pkgadd install, you have to manually delete the data directory and then run the script that creates the system tables.

But do the docs bother to mention that at all? NO!

Couldn't the pkgadd script do that by itself? PROBABLY, BUT IT DOESN'T!

Did Geoff lose a couple of days of his life to impotent frustration until he finally found this nugget of trivial foolishness on the intertubes somewhere? YES!

April 26, 2009
Simple Answers to Simple Questions

Broder on the subject of prosecutions for torture done during the Bush Administration:

Suppose the investigators decide that the country does not want to see the former president and vice president in the dock. Then underlings pay the price while big shots go free. But at some point, if he is at all a man of honor, George W. Bush would feel bound to say: That was my policy. I was the president. If you want to indict anyone for it, indict me.

Is that where we want to go?


This has been another edition of Simple Answers to Simple Questions (with apologies to Atrios).

April 03, 2009
Deep Thought

Before World War II, they called World War I "The Great War", because they didn't know there'd be a II.

So will we have to rename "The Great Depression" as "World Depression I", in order to make room for "World Depression II"?

Incidentally, while World War I was ghastly, World War II was even worse. Think about that.

June 11, 2008

As of this writing, it's 222 days until our long national (and global) nightmare is over.

Of course, the nightmare won't be over if this guy is the replacement.

Ahma ahma getchoo lovedrunk on ma hump, ma hump ma hump ma hump

May 25, 2008
Scarlett Letter

I don't believe in God, but if I did, there would be no doubt in my mind that He walks the Earth since 1949 incarnated in the form of Tom Waits. I suppose some people may think of that as blasphemy, but if you want me to consider the notion of a Completely Perfect Being, then I'll have to take that thought to its logical conclusion.

It follows from this that nothing you can do could be more evil than covering a Tom Waits song. I don't care how accomplished the musician is, any attempt to imitate Tom is doomed to become a mocking, hubristic blasphemy, for which there can be no forgiveness. The lowest circle of Hell is not reserved for Judas Iscariot, but rather for Rod Stewart. Abandon all hope, ye who click here and look on the face of the Devil Himself.

Yesterday I was poking around in the iTunes store when I stumbled on Scarlett Johansson's new album, and from the track titles I noticed that it consists almost entirely of Tom Waits covers. I've rarely been so full of dread as when I clicked on the song samples, and sure enough, they were depressingly awful. As one of the reviewers wrote, it sounds like she's singing in a tank under water.

I really hate to say this, because she's a delightful actress, by all appearances a very likable person, not to mention sexy enough to make my blood boil; and the fact that she has the good taste to appreciate Tom makes her that much more sexy. But I just can't find it in my heart to forgive her, not for this. Scarlett, you're a babe, but IT JUST ISN'T DONE!

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March 21, 2007
Contempt of Congress: The Article of Impeachment against Nixon

(Cross-posted at the Daily Kos and front-paged on Progressive Historians)

On the suggestion of some fellow Kossacks, I'm posting an expanded version of my comment on the thread about Dubya's tantrum as a full diary.

Follow me over the fold to consider a little piece history: The 3rd article of impeachment against Richard Nixon, adopted by the House Judiciary Committee on July 30, 1974; and see if it reminds you of anything.

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February 12, 2007
Interrogator Confesses Abuse of Iraqi Prisoners on WaPo

(I posted this item as a diary on the Daily Kos late last week while my own site was temporarily down, and it turned out to be my first trip to the Recommended List. It got as far up as #2 on the list, quite an honor for dKos contributions. I'd say that was partly in recognition of my own commentary on the story, which I think was fairly well written, but, to be honest, mostly because I was the first one to write about the Washington Post editorial, which tells a very disturbing and important story.)

It was bound to start sooner or later. In today's Washington Post, a former Army contractor named Eric Fair has admitted to the abuses that he committed as an interrogator of Iraqi prisoners.

Despite my best efforts, I cannot ignore the mistakes I made at the interrogation facility in Fallujah. I failed to disobey a meritless order, I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody, and I failed to uphold the standards of human decency. Instead, I intimidated, degraded and humiliated a man who could not defend himself. I compromised my values. I will never forgive myself.

Most of our knowledge about the abuses conducted with the approval of the Bush regime has been anonymous allegations. But before long, the people involved, both victims and perpetrators, will begin to tell their stories in detail. What Eric Fair did is, by his own admission, immoral and unforgivable, but he's done the right thing by coming forward. The time is now for more people like him to shine a light on the atrocities conducted in our name.

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December 24, 2006
This is sick, evil, awful and wrong

Do not follow this link unless you want to run screaming through the streets like a desperate madman.

December 06, 2006
In Which I Challenge Dubya to Three Rounds

(Crossposted at The Daily Kos.)

President George W. Bush
The White House

Dear Mr. President,

I hereby publicly challenge to you to a boxing match, three rounds of two minutes, to be conducted according to the rules of USA Boxing (Master Division), with a referee, judges, ring physician, the standard protective equipment, and any medical precautions you may feel necessary. This is not a joke or a bluff. I will meet you at any time, at any place, and under any conditions you stipulate, as long as the rules for a fair match apply.

And let me tell you something, Mr. President, you're going down in one. Here's how I'm gonna knock you out: I'll create an opening with a combination jab, then stun you with a left uppercut, and then, here it comes, the RIGHT HOOK, WHAM, and that's what's gonna wipe the frat-boy smirk clean off your face. You'll be out before you hit the mat.

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October 02, 2006
OH-15: Will Pryce fight for a FULL investigation?

(Crospposted at the Daily Kos.)

My Representative in the United States House Of, Deborah Pryce of Ohio's 15th district, who is being challenged this November by Mary Jo Kilroy, is the House Republican Conference Chairman and the 4th-ranking member of the House GOP leadership, after Hastert, Boehner and Blunt. The unfolding "boytoy" scandal about former Rep. Mark Foley has suggested that members of the House GOP leadership knew of Foley's conduct for a long time and covered it up; both Hastert and Boehner have been implicated, as well as a number of other Republican Congressmen. In an article in today's Columbus Dispatch (look way down at the bottom), Pryce spokesmen are cited as saying that she knew nothing about the Foley matter until last week.

Now House Speaker Dennis Hastert has called for a DOJ investigation that, as Glenn Greenwald points out, would avoid looking into any complicity or cover-up on the part of House Republican leadership.

Will Deborah Pryce use her authority as a GOP leader and her recently-discovered stance as an "independent" to demand full investigation of the entire scandal, including wrongdoing on the part of other Republicans? Will she get in Denny Hastert's face, if that's what it takes? As Pryce's constituent, I fully expect and demand nothing less.

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