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Rain In A Rusty Bucket

It's what makes the bucket Rusty... and by the way, if you see Rusty tell her to write.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Pack and Herd Animals

I believe human nature is able to live in the style of any of the animals you've seen around you.

As social animals, mostly, one might well look at social structures in nature.

Let's start with this... packs are better than herds, but they still have this alpha-male crap going on (I hate smacking down the other lesser alpha males, I will, but I resent it) and also, a good sized herd has anonymity, some freedom from oppression via that route.

But neither is good.

I hate pack mentality, herd mentality, when people I like give their pack and herd signals to one another, I'm always embarrassed for them.

I am more bear like in my own nature. Berries and honey and rip your heart out only if you screw with my cubs. I hope you got the moral in my tale, don't screw with my cubs.

Mom Asked Why

Mom Asked Why Abortion was such a do or die issue. Now let me remind you, my mom is the one that does this blog with me, but she never posts. She may some day. Though I have ended up using this blog as my own, it's always oriented at least a bit toward mom, and this is an example.

Personally, I think abortion is made a central issue because it's beside the point of what most politicians really worry about. Consider that the Supreme Court hears very few cases on reproductive issues and tons and tons of issues that relate to corporate behavior and corporate priveledges, why would abortion be the end all be all of a liberals consideration?

Well, as I say, one reason is because it's a way to talk about something emotional, and important, that doesn't get to the collusion between simple business interests and government. So one reason is merely to avoid talking about important issues of business law.

But that wouldn't help explain why this dodge works so well, that is, it works because as I said in addition to being a tool of manipulation, abortion is also a very important issue. And the issue is, from a progressive point of view, fundamental.

It's a medical right.
It's a matter or personal autonomy.
It's a woman's freedom issue.

First, I cannot stress too much how this issue is a matter of liberty in general. If we have personal liberty that MUST include the right to make final decisions about our own healthcare, that is, to choose which of our medical options we pursue. The issue of life or death is key in all medical decisions, you can die when you go to get your apendix out. The baby is clearly a ward of the mother, and while I have opinions on what the right and wrong decisions are, they are hers to make while the baby is in her body, what other guardian could the fetus have.

It's not a matter of when life begins, it's a matter of who is competant to make their own decisions, and if they are not, who makes those decisions. Yes they are hard decisions, but we cannot expect them to be easy decisions if the state makes them? The state's role must be to give this decision to an individual, and there is no other candidate besides the mother.

It is also a woman's freedom issue because women are often denied this autonomy in history and other nations, and even when the decision is given to an individual, it is not always the woman, and so represents the history of maltreatment of women.

This is why it's so important philosophically, but we also have to remember practicalities, when abortion is illegal that means that rich girls still get abortion, and poor girls resort to bad doctors or just plain stupid ideas which endanger them. The bottom line is that human beings know their rights about their bodies, and they will act on those rights even if they are not guaranteed. If society wants to have an influence, it needs to acknowledge the autonomy and influence decisions through education and by providing sound infrastructure so that if people do have children at a bad time of life, they will not be giving up every opportuntity to pursue a productive life.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Mythocracy of Merit

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I despise elitism, and who doesn't? Who endorses elitism? No one, practically, elitism in the closet currently, isn't it? It's traditionally NOT an American value, and yet, in reality, and in America, it flourishes around us like... something flourishing really well. Elitism is ubiquitous. So there must be some concept which is propping up elitism.

In ages past it was elitism pure and simple, the assumptions were that the elite would exert itself, maybe God would take care of it, and you could find those that praised elitism and class stratification based on elitist ideals that everything has its place and everything should stick to its place. But now, that argument is shelved — why not the phenomenon itself?

Some might say that those in power, the "elite" are merely holding onto power, and the people no longer believe they are actually, legitimately "elite"... that elitism has been beaten but they have momentum. But no, elitism is alive and well and belief in it is spread far and strong, even among progressives. It's ubiquitous, it needed only find some other terms, other framing, in order to survive the assault.

Elitism lives in the myth of meritocracy.


Take an idealized merit based system... a singles sport like golf and singles tennis. You prove your merit directly by winning by the rules. The rules are fairly clear, and they are generally fair. When you win a game, you prove your merit to, for example, play on into the finals. If you have won by a fluke, over time the chances of that recede and one average you have a system which selects for tennis-merit.

But add "-cracy", power over a culture or group, power to decide things for others, and you have a difficult premise even in this clear and artificial case of sport. Merit as a tennis player doesn't mean you are the best person to head the USTA. It doesn't even mean you would be the best teacher in your sport... skill is like this, mastering a skill doesn't mean mastering teaching, it doesn't mean mastery of everything related to your skill.

Ok. Now.

I'm a free market advocate, but the free market faithful, the type that confuse capitalism and free markets, they believe in an invisible hand that comes and turns the chaos of an unregulated market into what..? a meritocracy! They don't concern themselves overly with those left out, those at "the bottom", those that do not climb the ladder allegedly created, because it is a meritocracy, and when worth has been proven, of course, OF COURSE, you will concern yourself with gifting those who have proven their ability to use their gifts well, and subjecting yourself to their will and power. Indeed, the framing we all accept is that these people are at "the bottom" of something, when in fact they are "left out", not at the bottom.

Some think the blogosphere itself is a meritocracy, that once again, "the cream has risen to the top" (classic example of framing by the way, as shit also floats... and quicker). Indeed, they feel the net is an egalitarian publishing system where finally those thinkers kept out of the previous non-meritocratic methods (like, journalism school I guess) can be appreciated and get their due... it's purpose, practically, is to put us in contact with those merit-ful writers that were unknown. But as with the tennis example... the process of "rising" in blogging is still a game with rules, and merit related to those rules cannot be generalized. If you are a compelling writer that people want to read... that may be shown on the net, but that won't make you a great thinker, it won't make your prognostications true, your strategy sound, it cannot prove your worth to -decide for communities-, it can't. Nothing can, there is no legitimate right to rule other, and there never ever will be. STOP LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT MERITOCRACY.

What I seek is not a meritocracy but another elusive goal, which so far is unproven, which may not exist, which may turn out to be as phantasmal and intangible as meritocracy should already be known to be... I seek a way for people to rule themselves. I seek a way for people to collaborate ideas directly into the material world, rather than be forced to seek meritocracy and layer upon layer of representation by the meritocraticly chosen.

That's what netroots meant to me, it was a step on an evolution I've watched for some time as the internet showed us there was a lot we could yet do in terms of collaboration, in peer-to-peer power, in collaboration over representation. I believe the promis has been made, we can expect the removal of the myth of meritocracy, we have needed it only because we had no better choice, the technology of getting people together 10,000 at a time for collaboration will make old meritocracy obsolete.

Netroots for politics and net communication in general can help us put our heads together and make good ideas together. We can do that instead of invent yet another system we use to raise some above the rest. Any system we invent will not prove "merit" for the purpose of deciding for others, it will only serve a purpose, like any system, like any machine, it may be a good purpose, but it will not, cannot prove merit for the task of ruling others.

I seek self-determination, autosoveriegnty, a replacement of authority with good sense, and to free ourselves from the philosophies of the oppressed.

A new kind of human being, clearly, is what I seek.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


thank you in 465 langueges
My ancestors came over on the Mayflower and we know this from my grandmother's long work into our genealogy, and on both my grandmother and grandfathers side of my father's side (turns out they were not so distantly related from one anothher... ahem).

So some of my ancestors landed with the Mayflower and stayed on the East Coast until that generation. My grandmother was fond of pointing out that pilgrims and puritans are not the same thing, being a devoted Maine-iac and liberal.

I have always liked Thanksgiving, a celebration of Thanks which my family has celebrated continuously, more or less (who knows), for hundreds of years now.

Of course there is the hypocrisy of the fact that European-Americans went on to kill indians for decades unto century subsequently, all the while celebrating the kindness of the coastal Indians!  

I believe hypocrisy is the One Sin.  There is no other sin, really, that does not follow from this. I have a faith that if you hold to your principles without hypocrisy, applying them equally to yourself as well as others, that value systems work out.  For one, you will find errors in your "world-view"... you will find out the problems it has by discovering there is no way to apply it without being hypocritical, and you will feel compelled to modify it, if "not being hypocritical" is your One Moral Goal.

It's a faith.

But progressives want to improve things, their knowledge, their environment, themselves, and so this means that in fact we have ideals which we do not yet meet! That means we will speak values we have not yet achieved.  

That means that we all have some amount of this sin, we all are either hypocritical or self-satisfyingly set in our ways... dogmatic.

My belief in skepticism is really just a way out of that cycle, where "hypocrisy" is replaced with "humility" and "honesty"... but it comes to the same thing functionally, we are all dealing with our hypocrisies... but the ideals remind us where we want to go.

We want to be thankful for the Indian kindness, we want to live up to that, we obviously haven't yet, and Thanksgiving is a reminder of how we ought to feel about the matter. It makes it all the more painful, the genocide... it reminds us pretty well of the whole story, though I know some think it helps us forget. Some individuals might put on an indian headdress of construction paper and forget, but culturally, no, it's stored in the structure of history and tradition. So many genocides on the earth have been forgotten, we must preserve memory of those we can, and Thanksgiving is a monument to progress in that way.

We should give thanks, we should give thanks to kindness, we should act in kindness, and be thankful for our selves when we do.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Waiting for people

On the one hand... I'm not against censoring.

Two, I feel big changes coming.

Three, politics is what one does while one waits. I mean, this culture, people in general... it has so much changing to do... so much CATCHING UP... it's really quite tedious waiting and waiting and trying to sweet talk people.

I mean, we have basics here, like, "logic is good to know". Is it elitist of me to think... hey people... a lot of nice work has been done on "CLEAR THINKING" the last two thousands of years... and it's been put in digest form. A simple logical text can be just a few dozen pages.... you think you might just...? No?

See, I'm waiting.

It's like, "science has learned a few things..."

The progress I really would get joy from, rather than hope, which is like joy on credit, are a hundred or two years down the pike.

I can take withdrawels on that via art, and via politics... I can just watch the human social networks express their dysfunctional stupidity.

It's not as funny as I try to make it... except in a black humor, tragic sort of way.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I'm getting bored of politics

politics politics politics. I'm back to a dissallusioned place, where I care just as much but who cares about that? It's all so wrong... the people with the better dogma are still dogmatic... the skeptical evolution is still unfolding slowly.

I think art is the only way, again, and science, but in terms of things like politics... art, let to flow downstream.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Senate Secret Session

Good for Harry Reid...!

What a great move.

Mr. Reid:

 Thank you very much, Mr. President. Just a couple of days ago, my son Lief called me and indicated that his lovely wife Amber was going to have another baby. That will be my --? our 16th grandchild. Mr. President, I have thought about that, and I have to say that I've been in public service a long time.

 Never have I been so concerned about our country. We have gas prices that are really unbelievable. This year they've been over $3 in the state of Nevada. Diesel fuel is still over $3 a gallon in Nevada. The majority leader of the House of Representatives is under indictment. The man in charge of contracting for the federal government under indictment.

Deficits, Mr. President, so far you can't see them. The deficits have been basically run up by President Bush's Administration these last five years. We're the wealthiest nation in the world but we are very poor as it relates to health care. We have an intractable war in Iraq. Is it any wonder that I'm concerned about my family, my grandchildren

This past weekend, we witnessed the indictment of L. Lewis Libby, the Vice President's chief of staff, also on the President's staff, a senior advisor to the President. Mr. Libby is the first sitting white House staffer to be indicted in 135 years. Is it any wonder, Mr. President, that i'm concerned about my grandchildren?

This indictment raises very serious charges. It asserts this Administration engaged in actions that both harmed our national security and were morally repugnant. The decision made to place united states soldiers, our military into harm's way I believe is the most significant responsibility the constitution vests in the Congress and in the President. The Libby indictment  provides a window into what this is really all about, how this Administration manufactured and manipulated Intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions.

Mr. President, these are not just words from Harry Reid. Larry Wilkerson, Colonel Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff -- Colin Powell, of course, was Secretary of State. This man was his chief of staff for four years. Here's what he said about the war in Iraq.

"In President Bush's first term, some of the most important decisions about U.S. National security, including vital decisions about post-war Iraq, were made by a secretive, little-known cabal, was made up of a very small group of people led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But the secret process was ultimately a failure. It produced a series of disastrous decisions."

That's what I'm here to talk about today, Mr. President. As a result of its improper conduct, a cloud now hangs over this Administration. This cloud is further darkened by the Administration's mistakes in prisoner abuse, hurricane Katrina, and the cronyism and corruption in numerous agencies throughout this Administration.

And unfortunately, it must be that said a cloud also hangs over this Republican-controlled Congress for its unwillingness to hold this Republican Administration accountable for its misdeeds on these issues. During the time that we had a Democratic President, eight years, and when the Democrats were in charge of the Committees, we were in the majority, oversight hearings were held covering the gamut of what went on in this Administration -- that Administration. Today there is not an oversight hearing held on anything.

Let's take a look at back how we got here with respect to Iraq. The record will show that within hours of the terrorist acts of 9/11, senior officials in this Administration recognized those attacks could be used as a pretext to invade Iraq. The record will also show that in the months and years after 9/11, the Administration engaged in a pattern of manipulation of the facts and retribution against anyone who got in its way as it made its case for attacking, for invading Iraq.

There are numerous examples of how the Administration misstated and manipulated the facts as it made the case for war. The Administration’s statements on Saddam's alleged nuclear weapons capabilities and ties with Al Qaeda represent the best examples how it consistently and repeatedly manipulated the facts. The America people were warned time and time again by the President, the Vice President, the current Secretary of State and their other capacities about Saddam's nuclear weapons capabilities. The Vice President said -- and I quote --

"Iraq has reconstituted its nuclear programs,"

Playing upon the fears of Americas after September 11, these officials and others raised the specter that left unchecked, Saddam could soon attack America with nuclear weapons.

Obviously we know now that their nuclear claims were wholly inaccurate. But more troubling is the fact that a lot of Intelligence experts were telling the Administration then that its claims about Saddam's nuclear capabilities were false. The situation is very similar with respect to Saddam's links to Al Qaeda. The Vice President told the America people -- I quote again –

"...we know he's out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the al qaeda organization."

These assertions have been totally discredited, not a little bit, totally discredited. But again, the Administration went ahead with these assertions in spite of the fact that the government's top experts did not agree with these claims.

Again, Wilkerson is a person in point. What has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress to the Administration's manipulation of Intelligence that led to this protracted war in Iraq nothing. Did the Republican-controlled Congress carry out its constitutional obligations to conduct oversight no. Did it support our troops and their families by providing them the answers to many important questions No. Did it even attempt to force this Administration to answer the most basic questions about its behavior? No.

Unfortunately, the unwillingness of the Republican-controlled Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities is not is not limited to just Iraq. We see it with respect to the prison abuse scandal. We see it with respect to Katrina, and we see it with respect to the cronyism and corruption that permeates this Administration.

Time and time again, this Republican-controlled Congress has consistently chosen to put its political interests ahead of our national security. They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican Administration rather than to get to the bottom of what happened and why it happened.

There's also another disturbing pattern, namely, about how this Administration responded to those who challenged its assertions. Often this Administration has actively sought to attack and undercut those who dared to raise questions about its preferred course. For example, when General Shinseki indicated several hundred thousand troops would be needed in Iraq, his military career was ended -- fired, relieved of duty when he out its inspectors.

When Nobel prize winner and head of the IAEA raised questions about the Administration's claims of Saddam's nuclear capabilities, the Administration attempted to remove him from his post.

When ambassador Joe Wilson stated that there was an attempt by Saddam -- no attempt by Saddam to acquire weapons from Niger, the Administration not only went after him to discredit him, they launched a vicious and coordinated campaign, going so far as to expose the fact that his wife worked as a C.I.A. spy.

These people are now having 24-hour protection fearing for their own safety.

Given this Administration's pattern of squashing those who challenge its misstatements, and I've only mentioned a few, what has been the response of the Republican-controlled Congress?

Absolutely nothing. And where with their inactions they provide political cover for this Administration at the same time they keep the truth from our troops who continue to make large sacrifices in Iraq. Now everyone may think that the troops in Iraq are 100% Republican.

I've made a friend. He's a Marine. He was over in Iraq when the elections were held ten months ago. He said where he was and he never even went to the bathroom without a rifle, wherever he was in his duty all over this area, he said he couldn't find anyone that was happy with the way the elections turned out.

They, the Republicans, do anything they can to keep the truth from people like my Marine friend. This behavior -- I would give you his name -- this behavior is unacceptable. The toll in Iraq is as staggering as it is solemn. More than 2,000 -- 2,025 now -- Americans have lost their lives. Over 90 Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the month of October alone, the fourth deadliest month in this going-on-three-year war. More than 15,000 have been wounded. More than 150,000 remain over there in harm's way. Enormous sacrifices have been made and continue to be made.

Mr. President, we've had soldiers and Marines from Nevada killed, from Eli, from Las Vegas, from Henderson, from Boulder City, from Tonapaw. Every time one of these deaths occur, it's a dagger in the heart of that community. This behavior is unacceptable.

I'm a patient man, Mr. President. I'm a legislator and I know things don't happen over night. I'm a patient man but the call from my son has put this in perspective. I'm worried about my family. The toll in Iraq is as staggering as, I repeat, it is solemn.

The troops have a right to expect answers and accountability worthy of that sacrifice. For example, more than 40 Democrats wrote a substantive and detailed letter to the President canning -- asking four basic questions about this Administration's Iraq policy, and we received, Mr. President, -- we received a four-sentence fence that is response:

"Thank you for your letter to the President expressing your concerns with Iraq. I've shared your letter with the appropriate Administration officials."

 --Remember we wrote it to the President --

"and agencies responsible in this area. Please be assured your letter is receiving the attention it deserves. Thank you for your compliments, Candy Wolf."

That's the letter the Senators of the United States wrote to the President of the its body and we get a letter from Candy Wolf saying,

“Thanks, we're working on it.”

America deserves better than this. They also deserve a searching and comprehensive investigation into how the Bush Administration brought this country to war.

Key questions that need to be answered include:

~~How did the Bush Administration assemble its case for war against Iraq? We heard what Colonel Wilkerson said.

~~Who did the Bush Administration officials listen to and ignore?

How did the senior Bush Administration officials manipulate or manufacture Intelligence presented to the Congress or the American people?

~~What was the role of the White House Iraq Group, a group of senior White House officials, tasked with marketing the war and taking down its critics?  We know what Colonel Wilkerson says.

~~How did the Administration coordinate its efforts to attack individuals who dared to challenge the Administration's assertions? We know what happened to them. I listed a few.

~~Why has this Administration failed to provide Congress with the documents that would shed light on their misconduct and the misstatements?

Unfortunately, the Senate Committee that should be taking the lead in providing these answers is not.

Despite the fact that the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee publicly committed to examine these questions more than a year and a half ago, he has chosen not to keep that commitment.

Despite the fact that he's restated the commitment earlier this year on national television, he has still done nothing except assemble a few quotes from Democratic and Republican Senators going back to the first Iraq war.

We need a thorough investigation that that Committee is capable and tasked to do. At this point, we can only conclude he will continue to put politics ahead of our national security. If he does anything at this point, I suspect it will be playing political games by producing an analysis that files any of these important questions.

Instead, if history is any guide, this analysis will attempt to disperse and deflect blame away from this Administration. Key facts about the Intelligence --

  a Senator: Would the Senator yield for a question.

 Mr. Reid:

Key facts

June 4, 2003, Intelligence Committee commits to bipartisan review of the deeply flawed Intelligence in Iraq's w.m.d.

Phase one.

February 12, 2004, Intelligence Committee commits to Phase 2, an investigation looking at five areas including whether the Administration exaggerate and manipulated [unintelligible].

July 9, 2004, Committee publishes phase one report on the Intelligence agencies mistakes on Iraq. Senator Rockefeller says publicly that phase two is as yet unbegun. Republican Chairman Roberts says it is one of my top priorities.

July 11 on Meet the Press, Republican Chairman Roberts says, “Even as I'm speaking our staff is working on phase two and we'll get it done.”

Fall of 2004, House Intelligence Committee, after no follow through on the Iraq w.m.d. Investigation, the House announced on May 2003, “No final report.”

Republican Committee Chairman Peter Goss is selected to C.I.A. Director. Regarding the question of vetting the Valerie Plame leak, Goss said,

“Show me a blue dress and some DNA and I'll give you an investigation.”

End of quote.

November, 2004, we had the Presidential election.

March 2005, President's hand-picked w.m.d. Intelligence Committee says the Intelligence agencies got the Intelligence dead wrong, but says that under the President's terms of reference we are not authorized to investigate how policy-makers used the Intelligence assessments they received from the Intelligence community.

March 31, 2005, Senator Roberts says it would be monumental waste of time to replow this ground any further replow

April 10, 2005, "Meet the Press" Senator Roberts commits to Tim Russert that the review will get done.

September 2005, Committee Democrats file additional views to their authorization bill blasting the Committee for failing to conduct phase two. There have been letters written to the Committee, a press release was issued even saying that they were going to go forward with this. Mr. President, enough Time has gone by. I demand on behalf of the America people that we understand why these investigations aren't being conducted, and in accordance with rule 21, i now move that senate go into closed session.

Mr. Durbin: Mr. President, I second the motion.

The presiding officer: The motion has been made to closed session. The chair pursuant to rule 21 directs the sergeant at arms to clear all galleries, clear all doors of the Senate Chamber and exclude from the chamber and its immediate corridors all employees and officials of this senate who under the rule are not eligible to attend the closed session and are not sworn to secrecy. The question is nondebatable.