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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

In The News This Week

And Also: I could not get into the first book in the series that inspired the HBO series True Blood, in part because too many people close to the heroine are killed in the first hundred pages. Sheesh. Better luck with Girls On The Stand: How Courts Fail Pregnant Minors by Helena Silverstein, looking at the real life experience of bypass laws. The ignorance showed during calls of the key people involved in carrying out the laws alone was informative. Not comprehensive in scope surely, but a well written and researched look at public policy in the real world.

I have watched Keith and Rachel (MSNBC) over the last few weeks and find them worthy of a check, but somewhat tedious after awhile. Keith is surely too bombastic, even if his (especially pre-Rachel) take on the Bush Administration provided some appreciated balance in the dark times. He is too focused on Bill O'Reilly (guy is a boob, no need to overdo the point) and various "oh how stupid the Right is" moments. There is some low brow fun to have here, including Gov. Palin "pardoning" (West Wing underlined the ridiculousness of the practice) a turkey at a slaughterhouse, but sometimes it just is not that exciting. Still, that was a bit dumb.*

There is also the limiting features that make them tiredly predictable, including some annoying lack of follow-up questions (Rachel can be more level-headed than some, but has her blindspots too), leading to me screaming at the screen. Hey, it's almost like sports! This works all over the place, of course, such as this (former HC supporter, so maybe some bias) blog discussing people being upset that Obama has not tossed progressives a "bone" thus far. Some noise aside, I am not surprised Obama is yes a moderate (though just calling him a promoter of "cold-eyed pragmatism" seems unfair), but he is a "uniter" from the (center) left.

This justifies some limits and some involvement with progressive sorts. Take the Lieberman. The guy was Obama's bloody mentor in the Senate, so it was not surprising Obama supported him in the race against Lamont. So, you didn't really expect him to support stripping the guy of his Homeland Security chair, even if he was lousy at it (and so forth). But, Obama didn't just do that. He didn't just say "that's the Senate's call, not mine" ... he sent a signal that it didn't really matter to him. He sent a signal, without saying it directly (leading to the wilfully naive to claim he was not to blame at all), to keep him. This adds insult to injury. Ditto the telecom immunity bill; a not that good but better alternative that was possible. Unpleasant but perhaps necessary. He took the worst route.

And, supporting a Bushie torture supporter would in spades underline the point. I don't want to hear this b.s. that "we shouldn't be surprised" he kills small children since he is a pragmatist that is willing to make compromises to put us in the direction he believes is best for the country. This nihilist attitude is for simpletons and is beneath us. In the real world, people we respect, people who will do us and others much good will do bad things. Sometimes, there is little choice in the matter and/or we have to deal with the situation. After all, no one (writ small) is free from such things in their own life. But, lines can be drawn, things should be expected. Thus, his A.G. pick is imperfect, but overall looks pretty good.

The "screw you" moment on Lieberman need not, should not, be accepted as a necessary evil each and every time. There are usually various levels of good and bad, as the intentional walk and defensive timeout suggests. Torture is a line to be drawn in the sand. [See Update II] This "baby hit me one more time" shit doesn't suddenly become fine given new blood in office. One reason why Obama had to be elected was that he gave us a chance. Chance is a fitting word, since it requires a lot for it to lead to an (imperfect) successful conclusion.

Consider Sen. Biden et. al. (I was perusing his campaign bio recently and his discussion of the Bork nomination is an important read) efforts that led to the confirmation of Justice Kennedy. An imperfect sort, some on the center and left really don't like him, but essential votes on various issues, including giving people like these a chance to get out of a hell-hole. Note how the Bosnian government wanted to release them. No wonder so many don't trust foreign law, so much even references to it is taken as verboten!

Talking about foreign policy, or imperfect bridges, the talk is that Hillary Clinton as the next Secretary of State is starting to look like a gimmee. I have voiced my opposition to HC in the past and do not know how totally fair it is. Still, truth be told, rather not have her there. This might sound a bit ironic, but what experience does she really have? Seems a domestic policy role is a better fit. As senator, she did some good there, for sure. [A taste.] And, a career in the Senate, maybe taking the Ted Kennedy role at some point, seems pretty fine, even over a term or two in the Cabinet. This isn't 1808; SOS is not really the road to the presidency these days.

But, she seems respected overseas, and actually many Republicans (this is not totally a good thing) often agree, push comes to shove. She is smart and talented. And, the Clinton name doesn't hurt, even if it brings some baggage. So, though Bill Richardson might be more my style, or some other name, I'm willing to wait and see. Money is not my thing (in more ways than one), but his treasury pick also seems a good fit.**


* Here's a better way to help animals at Thanksgiving. This also fits into the pragmatic idealism promoted here. The "Trap-Neuter-Return" technique realizes the limits of dealing with the stray cat problem, but doesn't just say "nothing we can do." It takes a pragmatic path that still seems to be a fairly productive path. Compare this with a simple "catch and kill" technique, akin to the drug war perhaps, that doesn't deal with the replacement issue and other concerns.

** In a sequel to The Mouse That Roared, a somewhat clueless politician realized things were bad when he had to pay to play darts at the local pub. My signal that times are tough is that prices all over the place are rising. This includes my Daily News, which is now .75 for Saturday, 1.25 for Sunday. On this front, the fact only I had to pay about $10 more for my glasses than last year, is almost a rebate. Plus, I got that free bag from the Samsung Experience store via my coffee sleeve.