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, January 21, 2010

More Ill Wind

So now we've killed campaign finance reform (or really regulation in any form), along with Health Care Reform. I've just skimmed the Supreme Court's opinion, and frankly it stinks. For the majority, we have Scalia noting that since the Framers didn't outlaw corporate political speech, they must have wanted it, and besides, stare decisis only matters when we like the outcome --- quite an interesting stance for an "original intent" kind of guy. Apparently the Court believes that since markets are self-governing and self-correcting - and thus of a perfect nature - that the corporations within those markets are of the same ilk. It is sad that the majority of the Justices have drunk this koolaid of economic idiocy, and extended it as more-than-metaphor to the very nature of our society.

For my quote of the day though, here are two excerpts from the dissent by Justice Stephens, which bookend his rather vehement contempt for the core of this "profoundly misguided" ruling:
In the context of election to public office, the distinction between corporate and human speakers is significant. Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.

.....

At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.

SNAP!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Does It All Mean?

There's a lot of shouting in the blogosphere and the media right now that Scott Brown's election in MA is a harsh judgment on Obama, and on HCR, and a huge boost for the GOP. I see it in a slightly different light.

I think that this isn't about Obama. And it isn't about Health Care. This is about the pent up frustration of a failed job market and a lousy economy, about an endless war that many hoped would end with the start of a new administration; it's about the willingness of the Democrats to ignore the tides of popular sentiment and run an outrageously bad candidate, making the assumption that their seat was "safe" (no seat is ever that safe); it is about the perception that the Democrats are, despite everything, incapable of governing the nation competently (this is not in contrast to the GOP, but despite it).

I have no idea what is going to happen in Congress with the HCR bill; I have no idea how much we will collectively remember or care come the November mid-term elections, or 2012. What I do know is that the economy isn't going to feel any better for a while, and that appearance and impression are often more important than facts. And at the moment, it appears that the Democrats are failing to lead, and are giving the impression that they can't get their shite together.

People want change for the better, but they don't know exactly what that looks like, and they hate to hear what it will cost them. We've tried to sell the Great Big Change. That failed. We've tried to sell the Incremental Change. That has failed as well. Apparently, the only thing people are buying these days is Change That Looks Like It's Free And Only Makes Me Richer Right Away.

For my response to that, see the post below this one.

Affiliations

I've been a registered Democrat since 1986. I've always felt that despite its troubles, and its failings, it is the party with which I am most aligned. And it always seemed best to me to be able to have a say from within the mechanics of the system. But no longer.

Today I've decided to go independent, and re-register without a party affiliation.

I think that despite the best efforts of the President (whom I still feel is mostly on track, and doing a remarkable job), the Democratic party is a shambles, no better than the GOP. The fact that yesterday Massachusetts elected a Republican to fill the seat of Ted Kennedy is a symptom of this. The fact that despite an 18-seat majority in the senate, the Democrats appear to be conceding any power of majority, is a symptom of this. I've always believed that the chaotic makeup of the Dems is a good thing for the long term health of governance; unfortunately that chaos seems to be overwhelmed by ineptitude, political machination, and a stunning inability to understand the nature of leadership.

Because of all this, I can no longer in good conscience keep my name on the rolls of the party.

Will I continue to vote for (and support) mostly Democratic candidates? Probably. It isn't as though anyone else is fielding many better options. The GOP is swirling in a maelstrom of pseudo-religiosity and xenophobic arrogance around its own anus, and the Libertarians spend too much time ignoring the common good for the sake of personal pride and self-interest. Not much left to choose from. The Greens? I'm still waiting for a viable candidate.

So it's going to be a Member Of No Party for the time being. I can only hope that at some point, the slow shift toward sanity can catch the Democrats and shake them back to something worth being a part of.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Political Pensives

One thing I notice about myself as I get older; I am less and less enamored of the simplistic rhetoric of populists. More and more I find the emotionally based arguments, the utopian lack of grounding in reality, and the clear political machination of most of it as offensive and misguided (or nearly so) as I do the obstructionist and fascist-leaning tendencies of the so-called conservative movement of the day.

Unfortunately, with the small exception of our sitting president, that is the political discourse of the moment, to the detriment of us all. Case in point: the disaster in the making in Massachusetts, where the Democrats are busily snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by infuriating the population enough to have a large number of folks ready to vote for an opportunist Tea Party aficionado over the Dem candidate, simply because they know that they'll be able to get rid of him in a few years, whereas the Democrat would be entrenched forever. And they are willing to sacrifice the Health Care bill in the process. Talk about shooting off your nose to spite your face....

I suspect we are back to "it's gonna get a lot worse before it gets better" times" despite a year of an Obama administration, the "end" of the recession, and all the work and optimism that has been spent (apparently in futility) in trying to turn the ship of state back toward the sea current of sanity.