About Me

My photo

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.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Reward Of Irrational Outbursts

It seems that representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) has now raked in more than one million dollars in donations for breaking decorum and living the non-reality-based life. Apparently, he believes that "the liberals who want to give health care to illegals, are using my opposition as an excuse to distract from the critical questions being raised" regarding the desire to make Americans healthy.

If you believe in something that is make-believe for long enough, and strong enough....it won't come true; but it will give you enough strength of conviction to bludgeon rational folk over the head with it until they are bloodied and dazed.

[Extra bonus snark: "All Hail Xenu!"]

Just Thinking

As the Supreme Court ponders whether or not to enhance the "individual rights" of corporations under federal law, and in the process sweep away most of the reforms put in place of the last quarter century to control ethical misconduct and disproportionate spending, we watch the anti-tax teabaggers hollering hate in Washington DC. I am sure that if you asked most of the protesters today how they felt about business taxes, they would easily tell you that they should be abolished. And most of my capitalist friends would agree. And yet...If we are going to provide corporate entities with constitutional rights reserved for individual citizens, despite the fact that the individuals who make up a corporation may exercise those rights as private persons as well, then shouldn't we also be holding those entities accountable as we do individuals? Doesn't it work both ways?

If corporations are provided First Amendment rights etc., then shouldn't they also be held to the same standard of support for the general welfare? If not, isn't it a form of "representation without taxation?" I pay taxes, with the assumption that this provides support for the maintenance of my rights. If those rights are extended to a corporation, then that corporation should contribute as well--and just as significantly.

We cannot simultaneously relieve corporate entities of their societal burden while extending to them the rights of that society. At least, not without a heavier cloak of hypocrisy than I could ever bear.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Quote For The Day

To discover what normal means, you have to surf a tide of weirdness.

--Charlotte Rampling

Anger And Bile

The continuing biliousness of the debate makes me sad; after the president gave what amounts to the only 'adult' commentary on policy or politics in the last three months, it has only added to the arrogant juvenile baseness of the outcries from both ends of the political spectrum. There is far too much hate in the air.

And as far as Joe "You lie!" Wilson goes --- it's one thing for a crew of bozos outside the capitol to shout slogans and frankly defame the president or anyone else in whatever way they want; we saw plenty of that when Bush was in charge. And Clinton, too. But to do so as an elected official, in your official capacity, in Congress, during a formal address to both houses, that's another thing entirely. It is the same reason that you aren't allowed to respond to your opponent in a formal debate with "well, fuck you!" --- at least, not without being disqualified, and likely booted off the debate team.

Still, I hear the shouts that this is no different from Moveon claiming that Bush lied to us about WMD in Iraq. And some bonehead even made Joe Wilson t-shirts, if you really want to play the game.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Presidential Speech

I think Obama gave a very, very good speech tonight. At the same time, I think that the GOP did not handle themselves too well in response: you have South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson calling the president a liar, and then you have the Republican response from Louisiana Representative Boustany, who apparently listened to an entirely different speech than the rest of America. But since he lives on planet Birther (Was Obama born in America? "Well, there are a lot of questions remaining. We'll have to see..."), I'm not entirely surprised that he was somewhat incoherent. Still, they could've planned a bit better (can you say "implosion?")

A reader over at Andrew Sullivan had a good succinct summary.

The far left will be disappointed; the far right is already inconsolable. But I think the overwhelming middle will be reassured, and clearer on what this president is hoping Congress can provide. Not it only remains to be seen if he can lead them there.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Medicine And Markets Don't Mix

and here's why: take a look at this post by Josh Marshall on the current Health Insurance reform debate:
That's the essence of where Republicans want to go. And why Democrats aren't making that a lot more clear is a very good question without any good answers. The problem is that you go to the doctor and agree to take the tests the doctor recommends. Shadegg and Hoekstra want a system where if your doctor suggests a biopsy for a suspicious lump you think about the pros and cons. Is it worth the money? Do you have the money? How suspicious is the lump anyway? Maybe you get the first one. But not necessarily the follow up scan six months later.
Then take a close look at Paul Krugman's article from this weekend's NYT Magazine, which is a discussion of the state of macroeconomics, Keynesian theory, and the failure of the traditionalists in the Chicago School to address the reality of irrational behavior in the marketplace.
even during the heyday of the efficient-market hypothesis, it seemed obvious that many real-world investors aren’t as rational as the prevailing models assumed. Larry Summers once began a paper on finance by declaring: “THERE ARE IDIOTS. Look around.”
Note the similarities: The GOP is pushing the erroneous assumption that "consumers" in the health care "marketplace" are rational, well-informed, and make decisions based on those criteria. But we aren't, and we don't. In our health, more so than in most arenas, we are driven by hope, fear, irrational belief, and the general acceptance that our doctors, as specialists with years of training and experience, know far more than we do about our bodies and what will be best. To allow us to treat our health in the same manner as purchasing a new refrigerator is simply insane. And if we go down that road, then we will have asked for whatever ills come along with that choice.

Individual health is a public concern, because it has ramifications in cost and effort for our society at large, and not just the individual. We cannot lose sight of this; and we must allow for the "interference" of government in this sector for this very reason --- since that is the very essence of why we have a government in the first place.