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, October 07, 2010

Like a CEO driving a company to ruin

Under the Republican plan, the budget resolution would set spending at 2008 levels, lawmakers said. While cutting the $100 billion needed to meet that pledge would force deep cuts, they have steered away from a specific plan for it.

“I’m a budgeteer,” Ryan said. “I just bring down the cap.”
And there you have the grand fallacy and danger of the current darling of the GOP. Ryan here is doing what a bad executive does---perhaps they've learned this from television shows like Law & Order, 24, and everything by Andrew Sorkin---and are replacing leadership with 'by any means necessary' arrogance.

They are not equivalent.

By ignoring the details of how something is accomplished -- in this case getting our government spending under control -- you leave open the opportunity for every unintended consequence, backfire, and internal failure imaginable. As the reporter points out in the Bloomberg piece I link to above, that's pretty much what might be expected with the current Republican plan.

I have issues with the idea that we need to run government more like a business: I think that the two management methods and aims are, while not completely antithetical, are indeed dialectically oppositional. But even worse is the idea that we ought to run government like a bad business, that spurs negative competition, short-term unsustainable profit at the cost of long term viability, and disregards the innate connection between the desired ends, and the mean by which those ends are achieved.

If Ryan is the best the GOP has to offer, and his best is to explicitly ignore detail -- hey, I'm not a details guy, I'm a budgeteer! -- then they, and we, are in for a long, cold winter.

“I want to be tolerant of intolerance. That’s my goal.”

Frank Bruni gives us a fascinating glimpse into a restaurant's experiment in social inclusion at the heart of the exclusionary world of Hasidic Judaism's Lubavitcher community.

From my own experiences (granted, many years ago now) with the community, it rings very true, on both the positives and the negatives: the inquisitive and almost compulsively friendly interactions individually, the disturbingly oppressive actions from those in power and engaged in maintaining it; the curiously bipolar nature of the community as it intersects with he secular world and the need for compromise with those beyond the boundary of the community. My favorite bit from Bruni's observances:
Among the waiters and waitresses who have worked at Basil over its first seven months, there hasn’t been one observant Jew. There have been several black servers — Perez made sure of that. And there have been several gay servers, including her 32-year-old nephew, Michael Viola, who moved to Crown Heights from the Upper West Side of Manhattan. On a few occasions, he says, he has mentioned his sexual orientation to religious Jewish customers — for instance, when one couple inquired if he had a girlfriend.

“Actually, boyfriend,” he corrected them.

They went on to ask what dating was like for a gay man and whether he was open with his parents. He answered and went on to ask if they had room for dessert.
The open simplicity and lack of condescension or judgment in that interaction---I just love it. Of course, I'd love it more if it were more the nature of the whole body of the community, and not just the atomic individuals within it.