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.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Why Howard Dean Makes Me Tear My Hair Out

Not his scream. Not his comments about the GOP that get tossed about in all the headlines (they've never had to work for a living, they are a monolithic white christian organization). It's his followup that to me is even worse: "'We have to be rough on the Republicans. Republicans don't represent ordinary Americans, and they don't have any understanding of what it is to go out and try and make ends meet.''"

Note that emphasis (mine, not his). 49% of ordinary Americans voted in our current government. I'd say that's pretty damn representative. Not a majority, perhaps---at least not of voters---but if about half a population buys a view, and ideology, a political flavor, well, I'd say that's a fair indicator that the folks involved are ordinary.

Unless, of course, Dean comes from one of those wonderful places where all the children are above average.

Is this really what we want as Democratic leadership? Read it all here.

This NYT article on the failure of the procurement and development process in the Pentagon is one of the most depressing things I've read today; We can't afford the systems we are building, which, by the way, don't work and no one really thinks we need. And the budget for them has increased 35% above inflation in the last six years. While the education for the people who will need to redesign, build, and deploy them remains underfunded, ill-defined, and in near crisis. The money quote from the GAO:
"We're No. 1 in the world in military capabilities," said David M. Walker, who runs the Government Accountability Office, the budget overseer for Congress. "But on the business side, the Defense Department gets a D - giving them the benefit of the doubt. If they were a business, they wouldn't be in business."
If you're a hawk, you should be distressed. This directly impacts our ability to maintain a military readiness and advantage in the world. If you're not a hawk, you should be distressed. This impacts every other aspect of our current fiscal state. If you care at all about the viability of the US as a major power beyond the next 40 years, you should be distressed. Allowing the mismanagement of the largest domestic recipient of our wealth to piss it away and go unchallenged to the point of disaster is not the way to maintain viability in contest with China, India, South Asia, Europe, etc. etc. etc. And if this is the way we protect ourselves from threat in the post-9/11 world, please, please, please: let me go out and buy some personal armor and my own island. 'Cuz this isn't making me feel 'safe'.
The Next Hurdle In Iraq
"The number of our representatives must be 25 so that we have fair rights with the current constitutional committee," said the alliance in a resolution agreed by delegates.

"If the National Assembly rejects this we will resort to discussions with representatives between us.

"If they stick to their position we suggest suspending our participation and the concerned parties' bear the responsibility of not giving us the chance to participate."
That's the line from the The Gathering of the Sunni People on the upcoming constitutional convention in Baghdad. It seems they have realized that a boycott of the process doesn't really help you to guide the process in your desired direction. So in a way, I guess that is a positive democratic lesson learned.

On the other hand, this is a bit like the Democrats demanding that they get 50 seats in the Senate, in order to have "fair rights" in government. Not exactly a mirror of freedom and democracy for the world. When are we going to let on to people that democracy may be free, but it isn't fair?

And at the same time, the President Talabani and the Kurds are voicing support for Shia militias as a viable bit of the fabric.

Now, if you ask me, Iraq is in the midst of clearing a hurdle that will last through the drafting and implementation of the constitution; either they will clear it somehow, or we will have a new Lebanon on our hands.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Final Pot Post

Seems to me the whole issue of medical pot use can be managed by moving marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance. Doens't seem much of a stretch, looking at it. For your enjoyment, here are some Sched.I items (totally not OK, ever), and some Sched.II stuff to complare (Pretty not OK, but legal for medical use as determined by legislation etc etc)

Schedule I: PCP, MDMA, MDA, XTC, LSD, Marijuana
Schedule II: Coca Leaves, Powdered Opium, Opium Poppies, Laudanum, Cocaine, Crack, Morphine

I guess that's why we let the poppy fields get going in Afghanistan. Feeds the need. And it's relatively legal!
The Supreme Court And Medical Marijuana

I once again find myself in the surprising stance of agreeing wholeheartedly with Andrew Sullivan---without any reservations. The ruling that medical pot grown by an individual, in the home, not for sale, for personal use covered by state law, is trumped by the federal interstate commerce law is a scary-ass precedent. But even more interesting to me is to note who the three authors were of the dissenting opinion on the bench: Rehnquist, Thomas, and O'Connor. So much for predictability on the courts. Even Scalia piped in on this, according to Bloomberg
"Joining Justice John Paul Stevens's majority decision were Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote separately to say he agreed with the result, though not the majority's reasoning."
I'm looking forward to reading the opinion, and dissent, and even Scalia's note, on this one.

UPDATE: Here's the link to the opinion. And here's a key phrase from O'Connor's dissent:
"If the Court always defers to Congress as it does
today, little may be left to the notion of enumerated powers."
Think on that a while, why dontcha. Interesting precedent happening here, and it would be foolish to ignore it.

UPDATE II: From the introit to Justice Thomas' dissent:
"Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers."

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sunday Thoughts

There is so much in flux right now in the world; some of it bad, some of it good, some of it too close and muddy to tell yet. In the microcosm of thinking locally, it is much the same. We have budget battles and growth concerns and transit failures and a mixture of job growth and job loss and wage stagnation and if anyone really thinks that here in California we have a Governor who is going to be able to make transformative change in any regard, in any direction, well...they haven't been paying much attention.

As I get older, I see more and more of a direct relationship between people's fear of change and our resistance to easing the path to change that is inevitable. It's a shame, really: we make things so much harder on ourselves than they need be, in the face of things that are simply unavoidable. Trying to turn back the path of cultural change is like trying to push back breaking waves on the beach with a plastic toy shovel. It ain't happening.

Tomorrow, a Monday. Today, though, is still a bright sun-filled Sunday, full of lackadaisical thoughts and a thorough disregard for politics and a nice hot cup of coffee in the morning.