The Talking Dog

March 29, 2011, Post-partisan depression

Say what you will about the President's pre-prime-time speech yesterday justifying his inexplicable ("Hillary made me do it?") decision to inject American military forces on the rebel-side of the evident civil war going on in Libya, but I note that uber-neocon Bill Kristol liked it... a lot. Look... we're already hearing about photos of the victims of "kill teams" in Afghanistan, we're still in Iraq... and over 100 other countries... So why not place our personnel in a position to commit yet more atrocities (or have some inflicted on them)? I'm sure that like most stopped clocks, Bill Kristol is right twice a day and all..., but American military intervention, particularly lately... doesn't have such a good record. Just saying.

Anyway, here we are. I must confess that I have found the just-over-two-years of the Obama Administration to be nearly as frustrating politically as the first eight years of the George W. Obama Bush Administration. That, and the fact that so few of you are reading (a combination of the loss of "big box" blogging links, the advent of Facebook, the fact that I don't blog so much anymore)... and I find it difficult to blog that much. OTOH, I'm such a stubborn bastard, that I'm likely to keep blogging, for my own personal amusement if nothing else.

I suppose I should consider shifting over to making this blog more about my general interests-- besides, of course, the law, Guantanamo and helping Candace with her representation of Guantanamo detainees-- such as urban vegetable gardening, vegetarian cooking, and ultra-marathon distance running, along with home remedies, and perhaps home and bicycle repair (I have to get going on the latter few there... maybe we'll all learn together!),.. in short, the political system, in Barack Obama's evidently sincere desire to be in full collaboration with the most offensive elements of the Republican Party"trans-partisan"... one can see why there is just not much truck in playing the partisan screaming game in such an environment, and the most intelligent political move I can think of is to take our ball and go home... and concern ourselves with functioning in a society where we can expect the center not to hold-- in any sense, be it the central government, or much of our economy and its supply networks.

While we have an opportunity to still operate in a functional industrial economy and society, this is an excellent time (really our last chance) to get ourselves and our families for the not-so-familiar (and potentially not-so-nice) society that comes next.

This has been... "Post-partisan depression."

March 19, 2011, Saturday pot pourri

Gorgeous day here in NYC-- high 40's, low 50's-- full sunshine. And so, the weather is probably just fine in Turtle Bay, just a few miles away in mid-town Manhattan, where the UN Security Council authorized the mother of all jihads a no-fly zone and other international military intervention against the Libyan regime (and in favor of Libyan rebels), after the United States government finally got behind such a proposition, it seems that the President shifted in favor of same because Hillary wanted him to. (on this point, Althouse goes much farther than I would, or than is reasonable... and she didn't even tell us what Michelle or Valerie thinks.) While I remain "cautiously pessimistic" about this intervention for one reason (Joe Biden favors the measure), maybe it will do some good... it's not as if Moammar Qaddafi deserves any of our sympathies.

Meanwhile, over in Japan, where we know the current nuclear plant crisis is "not Chernobyl"... radiation levels in spinach and milk grown within 100 miles of the stricken plant have been measured higher than usual. The level of tragedy in Japan is really more than we can fathom... nuclear calamity, over 10.000 dead from the earthquake and tsunami, hundreds of thousands homeless, power out for millions... nothing my small, insignificant thoughts can shed any more light on than that. Other than to say that this would be an excellent time to re-think the premises of our age, including that we always need "more" of everything, including and especially electrical power. Maybe... we should consider the ultimate price and risks of same? Just saying...

Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher passed away at 85. Christopher was the last White male to hold the job, which prior to him, had been held exclusively by White males, and since him... hasn't. Christopher was Deputy SecState in the Carter Administration, and later the first SecState in the Clinton Administration, and brought the same kind of bland carefulness to the post that he maintained in his law practice at Los Angeles's O'Melveny & Myers (a firm that would demand to see the law school transcripts of anyone it hired, even if they had been practicing law for decades)... Christopher was fanous for ordering a latte "decaf, with skim milk and sweet 'n lo"... indicating his preternatural caution. I suppose "de mortuis nil nisi bonum" applies here. Nuff said.

Look up at sunset will ya'... we're gettin' a super perigee moon to look at!

A judge in Madison, WI has blocked the controversial collective-bargaining rights-stripping law recently passed by Republicans in the Badger State from taking effect... for now, anyway. The grounds for same appear to be procedural-- violation of state open-meetings law... where it stops... nobody knows. Just know that this whole thing is a 'beta-test" in a state full of comparatively well-behaved people in pretty good financial shape over-all. What will happen when similar tactics are applied in different states... like say, New Jersey or Florida or Illinois or Michigan? Stick around...

And I'm not even talking about the mirth and merriment of Saudi and UAE troops and police joining forces with the local regime, which has been committing brutalities in Bahrain, or that oil has hit $100 per barrel again (say what you will, but high oil prices were a key precipitating factor in the 2008 financial melt-down, not to say that something else wouldn't have eventually toppled an otherwise unsustainable financial system).

And on those notes, in a world that just seems like it's on some kind of a death-spiral... this has been... "Saturday pot pourri."

March 12, 2011, Swept away

The devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan that has killed countless numbers of people (thousands are still reported missing) hit home, literally, as the tsunami washed away at least one California man who was too close to the ocean as he tried to take pictures of the waves.

Ginormous earthquakes are just something else to consider when thinking about the benefits of... nucular power... although some of the danger appears to be receding, Japan has about five of the suckers on high alert right now, because, ironically, the loss of electricity caused by disruption of a big earthquake prevents the cooling systems from operating properly. (The nastiest problems are at a plant designed from our friends at GE... we bring good things to life, etc., etc.) [We might ask ourselves why so many, including the President of the United States, insist upon telling us of the safety of nucular power, notwithstanding consideration of the fact that we may get a few decades of power out of the things in exchange for millenia of really bad s&*^ poisoning people who otherwise never knew of our existence... and our asshole friends in Nevada (yes, I mean you Harry Reid most especially) refuse politically to allow disposal of our nucular crap at Yucca Mountain notwithstanding that is pretty much the only place geologically stable enough so it is likely to keep it from killing off population centers of the future given the vagaries of ordinary wear and tear, climate change, etc. and such. But hey... that's just me. We might consider why we need so much electric power in the first place... surely, we can figure out how to do with less, rather than engage in practices that are potentially so harmful... more crazy talk... again... just me.]

Meanwhile, in the only event in the Middle East we're allowed to be paying attention to now (we're only allowed one at a time), it seems rumors of Libyan leader Col. Moammar Qaddafi's demise were greatly exaggerated, as the rebels have been facing set-back and Qaddafi's better-armed forces are advancing. It seems that it's more important that we know about Charlie Sheen or whomever else our corporate masters is serving as today's bread and circuses... I mean, why trouble ourselves with a possibly pivotal moment in human history, as people in Tunisia and Egypt have already forced out longstanding (Western stooge) dictators, people in Bahrain have effected significant changes in their government, and virtually all major dissidents in Iran have been jailed... no... we've no attention span for that sort of thing. Can we talk about Charlie Sheen again?

What are we going to talk about? Wisconsin? O.K.... Look-- state and local budgets are a huge mess, and abusive pension and benefit practices really do have to be "on the table." And no one doubts that the elimination of collective bargaining is overkill, clearly intended as a shot to the gut of the Democratic Party, rather than a legitimate budgetary measure (after all, contracts remain in place for their duration, and will continue to set at least the minimum terms for state workers going forward). And yet... that's just it: the Democratic Party won't fight back. Instead of using this as a demonstration of Republican betrayal that should be a basis for a generation of electoral dominance, instead it's used to raise a few bucks. A complete lack of imagination is why huge majorities everywhere became minorities, because at its core (or at least the core of its office holders)... both parties are unmistakably part of the same program of corporate dominance... one party wants to drive us off a cliff at 65 m.p.h.... the best we can say for the other party is that they want to drive us off the same cliff... at only 45 m.p.h., and perhaps the slower speed can allow us to correct course before over we go. Democratics, faced with control of both houses of Congress and the White House for the first time in nearly 20 years... played small ball, when it was time to swing for the fences. And so... here we are. Still content to play small ball. Give the Republicans their due-- they came to play to win, and they brought their A-game. Maybe they'll take us off that cliff at 70 m.p.h.

Screw it. I continue to advise self-reliance, including home-grown food as much as possible, bicycle repair and maintenance and the like, read up on home remedies and such, make friends with other self-reliant people, take care of your own... and not trying to worry too much about these out of control mega-trends, that might, but probably won't, end well. This has been... "swept away."

March 8, 2011, March Madness

For no particular reason, I'll pass along this primer on a government/military industrial complex program so insidious, it might well kill us all... before everything else does, of course. Not to make light of it... just to... you know... put it out there.

This rain-soaked and wind-swept Sunday, your talking dog hit a rare feat-- a personal best in a road race, albeit only my third try at the distance, in this case the Caumsett Park/USATF National Championship 50-K race... Frank at Run Dangerously has a report on the race (I finished too far back to figure in any of the photos!)

The Grey Lady treats us to this discussion about "discord" in Washington over (American military) intervention in Libya. Me? I got nothing. And I suggest that neither does our over-extended country, and I further suggest that, as troubling as it sounds, in the long term, and probably even in the short term, the best thing we can do there... is probably also... nothing. Ditto the rest of North Africa and the Middle East. But hey... that's just me.

Back to the Grey Lady to tell us that the President, who vowed to close Guantanamo within a year of taking office and who railed against military commissions in lieu of federal court criminal trials for suspected terrorists both during his campaign and in the early stages of his presidency... has issued an executive order making way for more military commission trials, and "hopes to close Guantanamo some day." Again, folks... I got nothing.

Thats all for now... this has been... March Madness.