About Me

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Armchair theorist, poet, and occasional IT manager, Sascha B. is equipped with a Master's Degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas, and is not afraid to use it. His work has been published by the University Press of America, Edwin Mellen Press, University of Texas Press, and a variety of small journals nationwide. He is also the proprietor and baker for 3141 Pie, of which you should eat many.

The Deal

I stopped blogging in 2013, when life overtook me. My father became ill and died shortly thereafter, and my mother was left with increasing dementia. I became the primary caregiver, and now orchestrate my mother's care and our family estate.

Now, I am coming up for air again.

Looking for the next book to read. All suggestions welcome.

My reading list is over here.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bolton Delayed

Another win for partisan bickering: Democrats Force Delay of Bolton Final Vote

On the one hand, I'm glad that Bolton's confirmation will be held off until there's more debate; on the other, this is yet another partisan spoiler rather than a vote on merit. My bet is that in a secret ballot, the numbers would have been closer to 35-65, rather than the split-down-the-aisle 56-42.

And by the bye, a huge hand to Senator Voinovich, for standing up for his own beliefs, and for he what he believes is best for the nation, rather than best for the politics of the moment and the GOP agenda of the week.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

...So Goes The Nation
"By a largely party-line vote of 56 to 43, the Republican-led chamber confirmed Texan Priscilla Owen for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals"
So says Reuters.

So: what does it mean when a controversial judge is approved by a party-line vote? It means that this has nothing to do with what our representatives believe, or what their constituents believe. This is about loyalty, plain and simple.

That is so damn sad. The congressional record has not yet posted the roll call vote tally for this. I will be curious to see which Dems decided to run with the pack on this, and if there was a single vote of conscience from anywhere on the other side of the aisle (hah hah hah)...

UPDATE: The vote tally is now online. So Landrieu (D-LA) jumped over to the dark side (no surprise) and Chafee (R-RI) came over to the Nays. And Inouye (D-HI) just skipped the whole shebang. The true colors of America.
Egypt Is Voting

Unfortunately, it is sounding like the so-called 'reform' referendum they are voting on is not being well received conceptually, and the opposition's (aka Muslim Brotherhood, I mean really, who else has a powerful voice/following? Kefaya? Please.) call for a boycott appears to be working. Cynicism, confusion, and apathy. Wow. Egypt really is getting to be more and more like a U.S.-style western political system!
Quote Of The Day

In re my post yesterday on the flight from the fringes, this thought (posted in response to bloviation over McCain and company in brokering the filibuster compromise of the moment),
"The mushy middle in this country isn't about compromise or moderation, it's about a fear of being on the losing team. The mushy middle isn't looking for moderation, it's looking for a leader."
That's from Atrios, and I couldn't agree more. But the question is: what in hell are we doing about it? And if we ever do find a leader for the middle, what will that mean? Do we really want another "team" fighting to "win?"

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Local News

Unclear On the Concept: In the running for best bad quote of the day, this Bay Area business leader voices the basic problem in how we currently conceive of quality of life, as well as intrinsic value of things. I've added emphasis, just in case you miss the punch line the first time around:
"The cost of living in the Bay Area is simply a function of the demand for living here," said Jim Wunderman, chief executive officer of the Bay Area Council, a business-sponsored association that focuses on the region's quality of life and economy. "The quality of life and things the Bay Area offers are really unmatched anywhere in the United States. We truly live in an incredible place. If we ever forget that, just look at the prices."
Politics As Usual: If you read nothing else today, read Molly Ivins most recent column, on a bill passed in the Texas legislature. A biting and clear insight into the basic failure of ultra-polarized partisan politics in our day.

Where's The Middle?: In this article in the Chronicle this past week, the author took a look at the failure of the Left, and his transit away from the dysfunctional left wing toward the Right. Interestingly, the bulk of the letters section today in the SF Chron was devoted to letters from both sides of the fence, agreeing in principle but outlining a different issue: that both the left and the right have lost their founding of basics, and have driven people away, toward the center. And many of them implicitly voice a concern that upon reaching center, there is no there there. With so many people heading in the same direction, where is the political institution we can build to have this growing Centrist voice heard? Some choice quotes:
"Moderates of both sides are tired of the nonstop finger-pointing and hate. I would love to find a place where men and women of goodwill and spirit could carve out the middle ground and let the extremes of both parties walk the plank without taking us with them."

"When Thompson leaves the left, where exactly is he going to go?"
If anyone has a plan for creating a new centrist voice for the new century, please call me and let me know. I'll sign up.

After listening to McCain, and Frist, and reading up on it all, I think the compromise was the best of bad options, but still not nearly in a place to be called good. It is a bad compromise that only delays an inevitable conflict---as long as the Republicans maintain their current control over the Senate and the White House. Josh Marshall seems to have the most lucid review of it all, to my mind. The most disappointing aspect to me is the phrase "extraordinary circumstance"; it is up to the party in power to determine what qualifies as extraordinary, and according to McCain's comments today, they will judge it like pornography: they'll know it when they see it.

Not a great standard for maintaining stability between two bands of (again in McCain's words) "spoiled children."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Compromise In The Senate

Listening to McCain talk about the compromise the 14 moderates have made to avert an immediate filibuster clusterfuck. More after he is done talking.

The basics: nobody wins, but the Senate doesn't implode.

El Kabong!

And hot on the heels of all other news, it seems they've developed a new pill for Quick Draw McGraw...
State Of Flux

The world has that texture of change half-made right now; maybe it's just the full moon, maybe it's that my 39th birthday is coming up this saturday, maybe it's the confluence of the judicial filibuster debate and the Bush-Karzai meeting and the UN Security Council failing to update itself and the Supreme Court deciding to hear a parental consent abortion ruling and the continuing rise of violence in the middle east and the potential delay of palestinian elections (and the lack of any move by the US to alter that) and the painful, painful sense of hypocritical mendacity about the political machinations of all sides of the debate, their callous self-interest, and the failure on all fronts of the media to take up the slack.

Maybe it's just the full moon. Maybe.