Free, free, set them free

19 01 2016

Consider:

Village Voice hed

Why, it’s almost as if they would have preferred Ronald Reagan’s method. . . .

Via.

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Graffiti politti

11 03 2015

No, the letter from 47 Republican Senators (and since co-signed by Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal) isn’t treasonous, but it is both factually incorrect and, I would argue, not the most effective way for senators to influence foreign policy.

In other words, it is both legitimate and stupid.

This justification, however, is, tsah, I don’t even know what the correct epithet would be:

Republican aides were taken aback by what they thought was a lighthearted attempt to signal to Iran and the public that Congress should have a role in the ongoing nuclear discussions. Two GOP aides separately described their letter as a “cheeky” reminder of the congressional branch’s prerogatives.

“The administration has no sense of humor when it comes to how weakly they have been handling these negotiations,” said a top GOP Senate aide.

“Cheeky”? What is this, Biff and Tad pranking the dean?

And this pretty much sums up my beliefs about the latest Clinton scandale.

~~~

h/t for comic, Jonathan Bernstein





Give peace a chance

24 11 2013

A preliminary deal to pause, and eventually reverse, Iran’s nuclear weapons program: good.

Good for the US, good for Iran, good for the world—and yes, when I write “good for the world”, I include Israel in that calculation.

Benjamin Netanyahu, and his various supporters in the US, would disagree. They consider this a “disaster” and, generally, bad for Israel. Former UN Ambassador Wilford Brimley John Bolton goes so far as to urge Israel to bomb away anyway, but as he’d likely suggest bombing someone who cut in front of him at Starbucks, I don’t how seriously anyone should take his analysis.

If the Israelis do bomb Iran (for presumably their own reasons), I don’t know how much cover they could expect from the US. There are many members of Congress who are, as the phrase goes, “staunch allies of Irael”, but I don’t know how staunch the rest of the American populace is. Yes, polls regularly show high levels of support for Israel, but it’s not at all clear that that support would hold if Israel were seen to be drawing the US into yet another Mideast war.

Would such a backlash be driven by anti-semitism? Some of it, yeah—there’s a fair amount of anti-Jewish sentiment in the US—but mostly by a sense of ENOUGH, the same sense of ENOUGH that lead to a backlash against a possible US strike on Syria.

Not going to war is a good thing. Kerry isn’t Chamberlain, Rouhani isn’t Hitler, and the P5+1 group and the UN aren’t the League of Nations. It’s possible this could all go sideways, but it’s also possible that this might, just might, lead us away from war and toward peace.

A good thing, yes?





I don’t want to spend the rest of my days/keeping out of trouble like the soldiers say

19 02 2011

So in the short time I’m a ghost. . . .

Tunisians drive dictator Ben Ali out of office.

Egyptians drive  dictator Mubarak out of office.

Jordan’s king fires cabinet, promises reform.

Yemenis gather to protest their government.

Bahrainis gather to protest their government, and are killed in their sleep.

Libyans gather to protest the leadership of the insane Qaddafi, are mowed down by snipers, and prevented from receiving medical care.

Iran’s pro-Ahmadi legislators get all shouty in their demands for death of opposition figures.

LiveAction doctors video shot at Planned Parenthood, slanders PP as enabling child sex-work.

US House of Representatives votes to defund Planned Parenthood.

US House of Representatives votes to continue Army sponsorship of NASCAR.

Senator Ron Paul wins CPAC presidential straw poll.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker proposes bill to strip government unions of most of their reason for being, as well as to effectively privatize UW-Madison; the Republican-controlled Senate attempts to slam this though in less than a week.

Wisconsin Senate Democrats abscond from the State, preventing action on the bill.

Tens of thousands of public union members and their supporters gather at the Capitol [nb: an absolutely gorgeous building] in support of their rights and dignity, and in opposition to Governor Walker.

My 50-year old sister and public high school teacher attends her first protest ever. Has a ball, and calls to tell me about it.

Packers win the Super Bowl.

~~~

And because I have been a ghost, I have had no time to say what I wanted to say:

Go Tunisians! Go Egyptians! Go Bahrainis and Yemenis and Libyans and Iranians and Syrians and everyone everywhere who wants to be free and is wiling to sacrifice themselves for that freedom.

You are strong and brave and beautiful and fragile and all the more strong and brave and beautiful for your fragility.

Women of these United States, it is well past time that we took our own lives in our own hands.

I salute Nancy Pelosi and Gwen Moore and Jackie Speier and everyone else, male and female, who stood up for us on the House and Senate floors. But it is not enough.

It is long past time for us, for more of us, for me, to stand up for one another, to stand up for ourselves.

And for my sister, my nieces, my friends, Badgers, countrymen:

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Stand up, Badgers, sing!
“Forward” is our driving spirit,
Loyal voices ring.
On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Raise her glowing flame
Stand, Fellows, let us now
Salute her name!

~~~

And the SuperBowl? That’ll do, Pack, that’ll do.





Mad world

19 08 2010

I cannot believe (as in: I despair) that this is being considered:

Are there enough curse words in all the world’s languages  to be dropped in response to this?

On a (very small) upside: check out the serious debate on the Atlantic‘s website about Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in particular and the Iran-with-nukes scenario in general. Goldblog irritates me to no end, and in looking at the participants in the debate my first reaction was Elliot Abrams? Seriously?!

Still, there’s a real—as in, serious and reasoned—argument happening there. Wish there were a wider spectrum of views—well, more skeptical and radical views—but then again, I wish I could run 5 1/2 minute miles and that eating Doritos helped me to lose weight.

So just as I puff out oh-so-much-more-than-5 1/2-minute-miles and limit my Doritos consumption, so too do I limit my ambitions as regards mainstream debates about world affairs. That is, I accept that sometimes the less-than-ideal can still be worthwhile.

Now, if only we could get various delusional/sullen world leaders to agree. . . .





While I am trying not to die. . .

27 12 2009

. . . I recommend heading over to Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Daily Dish, for the latest on what’s happening in Iran.

If my brain weren’t sizzling from fever, I’d offer some commentary on the ways politics is cracking against authority, and that authority’s transformation of the most prosaic of activities (e.g., honking one’s car horn) into a sign of resistance worthy of violent suppression.

(Perhaps you are glad my brain is frying. . . .)

Politics isn’t dead. And liberation, however unlikely, however fraught, is just. . . barely. . . possible.

Politics: The art of the possible.





Power to the people

15 06 2009

The extreme form of power is All against One, the extreme form of violence is One against All. —Hannah Arendt

The events in Iran thrill, in every sense of the word: the demands for liberation, the fear of the reaction, the unpredictability, and as the most basic argument for a notion that power is about politics—the public gathering of citizens—and that violence is the antithesis of power, that it scatters the public and as such, eliminates power.

Violence: Witness the crowds literally scatter as the motorcycle cops accelerate into them, their riders swinging batons at anyone near.

Power: Watch the crowd assert itself against the agents of the state, pushing back against the police and security forces, as when those around a BBC reporter kept a security agent from interfering with his broadcast.

Unfortunately, as Arendt knew, politics was bound up in what she termed the ‘frailty of human affairs’, such that Wherever people gather together, [political space] is potentially there, but only potentially, not necessarily, and not forever. Power is evanescent, ‘not an unchangeable, measureable, and reliable entity,’ but one utterly dependent upon the presence of others, a presence which can be dissipated by apathy, more urgent needs, and, of course, weapons.

But while violence can destroy power, it can never become a substitute for it.

Ahmadinejad and the Iranian security apparatus may succeed in dispersing these crowds, in denying these bodies politic their destabilizing (not least because of their unpredictability) potentialities, but in so doing will have condemned themselves:

[From the destruction of power] results the by no means infrequent political combination of force and powerlessness, . . . In historical experience and traditional theory, this combination. . . is known as tyranny, and the time-honored fear of this form of government is not exclusively inspired by its cruelty. . . but by the impotence and futility to which it condemns the rulers as well as the ruled.

Yes, there is always the concern about mob rule, but as the photos [hat tip: Daily Dish] and videos of protesters aiding injured policemen attest, the ‘mob’ in Iran are the ones wearing the uniforms—or the be-robed men directed the men in uniform.

Who knows how this will end: the beauty of Arendtian politics is inseparable from its terror, the potentiality from its frailty.

But still! To witness what we can do! The promise. . . !