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A Political Bird

Jan. 1st, 2009

12:00 am - Open Thread 2008

Need to say something, but don't feel like emailing? Here you go!

Dec. 2nd, 2008

08:55 pm - Neil Gaiman: Why defend freedom of icky speech?

If you accept -- and I do -- that freedom of speech is important, then you are going to have to defend the indefensible. That means you are going to be defending the right of people to read, or to write, or to say, what you don't say or like or want said.

The rest. (Via kirabug.)

Nov. 28th, 2008

06:08 pm - In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.

From Roger Cohen, hat-tip to Andrew Sullivan:

Of the 770 detainees grabbed here and there and flown to Guantánamo, only 23 have ever been charged with a crime. Of the more than 500 so far released, many traumatized by those “enhanced” techniques, not one has received an apology or compensation for their season in hell.

What they got on release was a single piece of paper from the American government. A U.S. official met one of the dozens of Afghans now released from Guantánamo and was so appalled by this document that he forwarded me a copy.

Dated Oct. 7, 2006, it reads as follows:

“An Administrative Review Board has reviewed the information about you that was talked about at the meeting on 02 December 2005 and the deciding official in the United States has made a decision about what will happen to you. You will be sent to the country of Afghanistan. Your departure will occur as soon as possible.”

That’s it, the one and only record on paper of protracted U.S. incarceration: three sentences for four years of a young Afghan’s life, written in language Orwell would have recognized.

Via Mount Holyoke College, Orwell's "Politics and the English Language", 1946. Past time to be reading this one again.

D-mn, sixty years, and we didn't learn anything.

Nov. 13th, 2008

09:09 pm - Sweet!

I just got my copy of the Washington Monthly "The Stakes" issue! This will be totally influential as to my vote in the November 4th U.S. Presidential elections!

Current Mood: bouncybouncy

Oct. 25th, 2008

08:45 pm - Marriage in California

California bumper sticker by *peganthyrus on deviantART

I'm going to go ahead and stick my neck out for a moment here, and talk about marriage.

I want to warn you in advance: I'm not really eloquent, and I'm not terribly meticulous. I have no illusions about the strength of my voice or the originality of my phrasing. If it is a rigorous case you want, Jesurgislac has a better analysis - I'm here to speak my mind.

Let me start with questions: What is "marriage"? What is "civil marriage"? And why do we recognize it?

I will try to answer these questions, but I will do so through this last, through the word "recognize" - recognition is the key to the whole business. Civil marriage is no more than the recognition of an earlier marriage, an alliance above and beyond the reach of law. There's a reason marriage sometimes happens in churches - the bond whose existence is affirmed and celebrated in these ceremonies is ... special, for lack of a better word. (I said I wasn't eloquent.)

What, then, is this earlier marriage?

In a word, it is love. It is dedication. The willingness to swear an oath, equal to equal, which in the common phrasing of these things often resembles this: "To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part." (Till death do us part? It is of no consequence, the meaning is clear.) It is a brash and daring refutation of the mundane cussedness of existence, the seemly invincible force of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the cynicism of the worldly - it declares, to amend a phrase attributed to Martin Luther: "Here we stand. We can do no other. God help us. Amen."

We choose as a people to recognize these bonds, as I have said. Today, then, we must recognize one more thing: what we recognize in these bonds is not the perpetuation of traditional gender roles, is not the perpetuation of the species, is not a perpetuation of anything preceding themselves. It is the bond itself.

No on California Prop 8.

For those of you not following the issues closely: present polling has this going either way. If you agree with me - and I know better than to hold it against you if you don't - noonprop8.com seems to be the headquarters for the opposition. Please: throw a couple bucks in the jar, if you can spare them, and pass the word.

Reposted from my deviantArt journal.

Oct. 18th, 2008

01:32 am

As you know, I am an Obama supporter. But I am also a Republican, and I am a Republican because I don't believe that good governance comes from single-party rule.

As a Republican, then, I am disappointed - no, repulsed - no, horrified by the McCain campaign of recent months.

I am not going to discuss policy. Many policy positions of the Republican Party are unsustainable, but that is not what needs addressing.

What needs addressing is "Who is Obama". What needs addressing is "William Ayers". What needs addressing is the robocalls, the angry rallies, the cresendoing drumbeat of hate, hate, hate that is engulfing what was once a political party, not a conspiracy to seize power.

McCain, Palin, you are contributing to the destruction of your party, to the cost of everyone for whom that party means more that a new bumper sticker every four years. If for no-one else but them, do not do this. Fight with honor. Make us proud.

Oct. 6th, 2008

08:30 am - Link

Former 1960s radical Bill Ayers appeared (as himself) in the 2002 documentary The Weather Underground, which was narrated by Lili Taylor.

Taylor was in High Fidelity with Tim Robbins who was in The Hudsucker Proxy with Steve Buscemi.

And Steve Buscemi was in Tanner on Tanner with, yes, Barack Obama.

That's only four degrees of separation -- a closer connection than either The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times was able to establish in their exhaustive attempts to find any links between the former '60s radical and the current Democratic nominee for president.

Fred 'slacktivist' Clark on connections and what they really imply.

Oct. 2nd, 2008

04:39 pm - Rich Trumka of the AFL-CIO, on racism and the vote.

Like Bitch, Ph.D. said: "This speech might make you tear up; it did me. It's certainly timely as hell."

Commentary at Washington Monthly and The G Spot.

09:02 am - Supreme Court: Lemon v. Kurtzman

Via demiurgent, a little meme in honor of our dear Alaskan governor:

The Rules: Post info about ONE Supreme Court decision, modern or historic, to your lj. (Any decision, as long as it's not Roe v. Wade. Preferably your own country, but SCOTUS acceptable.) For those who see this on your f-list, take the meme to your OWN lj to spread the fun.

(Full disclosure: I looked up the decision on Wikipedia. It's mostly my own wording, though.)

One of the most important decisions in the battle over the wall of separation between church and state is Lemon v. Kurtzman. This decision is famous for being the source of the well-known Lemon test, requiring that any measure involving the government in religious matters meet three simple criteria:

1. There must be a compelling state interest secular purpose,
2. It must not have as its primary effect the advancement or inhibition of a particular religion, and
3. It must not result in excessive entanglement between state and religion.

Reposted from packbat

Sep. 28th, 2008

09:08 pm - Writer's Block: Church & State

Should church and state always be separate? Why or why not? What should the nature of their relationship be?

An ... odd wording, and odd that anyone would still ask. Yes, they should be separate, in fact, must be separate. Your church is a tribe, a "race" in a sense almost as real as the skin-color sense, and to allow the reasons of the church to define the state establishes a privileged caste.

In general, the church and state should be almost entirely unrelated. The chief exception is anti-discrimination, but the two may become loosely entangled due to other causes (e.g. state benefits for charitable non-profits).

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