Jun 132013
 
Seeing through the PRISM: Talkin' Meta about Snowden and the NSA

Welcome back to the Green Dragon! Sorry we’ve been closed; as it turns out, Alexander the Great was buried in our parking lot. But the dig’s over, and we’re back in business. Here, try some of the new lager—it’s nice for warm weather. I’ve been wrestling with friends on Facebook over the claims by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden of wholesale warrantless collection of private data by the NSA directly from the servers of the major internet companies. As far as I can tell, those who have swallowed this whole seem mostly to be projecting their fearful/angry beliefs onto “knowledge” that isn’t, and opting for outrage first, facts (maybe) later. Some of these friends go so far as to suggest that there should be no government secrecy at all, which I find wildly naive. But for those who acknowledge that a nation cannot possibly operate diplomatically, militarily or [...]

Obama Errs

 Posted by at 8:27 pm  National Politics
Apr 052013
 
Obama Errs

So, those of you who have accused me of being nothing but a cheerleader for the President, hear this: I hate the proposed shift to chained CPI for federal inflation calculation. It’s probably more accurate, but that’s no consolation for people who get smaller increases going forward. That said, I think it’s important to understand that chained CPI wasn’t just thrown on the table by itself. The President’s proposed budget is a package. It includes significant tax increases and loophole closures targeting wealthy individuals and corporations, and its clear that his intent is to get beyond the endless nattering about debt and deficits so we can start rebuilding the country. I don’t know that I agree with him about that, but I’ve always credited him with thinking big, and this is the kind of thing you get when someone thinks big. The kind of person willing to take on third-rail [...]

Feb 282013
 
EVOLVE OR DIE: Environmentalism in the 21st Century

The environmental movement of the latter half of the 20th century is dying. And as a product and member of that movement, I say, not a minute too soon. Don’t get me wrong. We have a lot for which to thank the green movement that arose in force during the Sixties. Without towering achievements like the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and countless other federal, state and local reinings-in of pollution, waste, and annihilation of habitat supporting biodiversity, our world would be vastly worse off. Unfortunately, like so much that arose out of the Sixties, the era of environmental activism that is now passing away was based more on romantic notions than on practical and scientific realities. And now that time has moved on and younger generations do not, by and large, share those same romantic notions, we are threatened with a future in which [...]

Dec 202012
 
Chicken Littles of the Left Squawk Again

The Zeitgeist at Daily Kos is so annoying right now that I can’t stand to read it. Yet another iteration of Chicken-Littling about “OBAMA SELLING US OUT OMG OMG OMG OMFG!!!!!!!” Just like all the previous times…when, in the end, it has turned out he’s done nothing of the kind. Markos himself has posted the same nonsense (here is one example diary—he’s posted about five of them in recent days). Maybe he’s just stirring up the pushback, but the language he is using about what a lousy negotiator Obama is—which flies in the face of history—is personal, insulting, and highly emotional. Also, baseless: it flogs a narrative that can only be considered true if you think failure to screech purist talking points while eating the Republicans’ lunch in policy face-offs is “weak”. If you don’t think so, cast your eye back to the Republicans’ attempted hostage-taking of the debt ceiling in [...]