Don't worry, you can trust me. I'm not like the others.

Banned In China

Thursday, March 24, 2011

No Voting For Me In 2012

Well fuck, I just got a response from my "liberal" senator Sherrod Brown, as I say it doesn't look like I'll be voting in 2012.

After I send him an email asking essentially WTF (without the swear words) is up with his signing on to this letter to Obama talking about using the Cat Food Commission's recommendations to reduce the deficit I get a reply telling me that just like a family the federal government must cut back in hard times, that he has co sponsored legislation that will prevent congress from getting automatic raises which will save $80 million dollars over TEN (yes 10) years and finally that he had voted for something called a sense of support for a balanced budget amendment (something I guess I should have known) for the Constitution. (I tried to copy the entire letter into blogger, but it would work and I'm not up to typing the whole thing over).

Now this is a guy who is considered one of the more liberal members of the senate.

It is as if the 1930s and 40s never happened. The truth of the matter is that we did indeed spend ourselves out of a depression with massive deficit spending and federal tax rates that were at 94% for the top marginal tax brackets. Although it does seem as though we have a larger deficit in standard dollars that we did after World War II. None of that matters, you can yell until you are blue in the face and they will look at you as if you are speaking Urdu in Dallas.

I suppose the other thing that should piss me off is that my original letter was clear enough on my position, he clearly had something come up in one of his assistants word checks that said deficit/budget or something like that and then sent the standard "Hey I am also a tea bagger" letter.

So I guess happy times are here again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Another Kind of A Book Report

Sometimes I write something so many times in my head, that I think I've really written it down where it is possible for other people to see it.

In looking back over my previously posts for the period that I could have done it I don't think I've mentioned the book I read about the great influenza epidemic of 1918-1919. I had read a few things about the epidemic before, but the book The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John Barry was the most in depth of anything I've ever read about it. It is kind of a strange history since he spends at least half the book giving the history of medicine in the world and then in the United States up to that point. It is a description of the development of medicine and its change into a truly scientific profession. Which hadn't occurred, at least in the United States until shortly before World War One. It is interesting in one way because the climax of the story, the epidemic, was not in the end really defeated so much by the heroic doctors or their new scientific discipline. Instead it just burned itself out like most plagues in the past.

One guy Barry really doesn't like was Woodrow Wilson and the system of crushing dissent that he put in place for running America during World War I. As he describes it and if truth be told as I've read about it in other places, it was a nearly totalitarian system of enforcing compliance and ensuring that there would be no dissension and no overt opposition to the war. The system that booked no bad news about the war helped ensure that the epidemic would spread more easily and quickly, since newspapers were forbidden to write about it for the most part and people who talked about it and its danger were often reported to the authorities as unAmerican defeatists.

Kind of interesting at several levels. First, is that Wilson was from Virginia originally and did believe in the Lost Cause I suspect. What makes that interesting to me, since I've just read them, is that Grant in his Memoirs mentioned several times how much more difficult it was for the North with a free press to prevent anti war sentiment from being spread, while the South, which Grant insisted, had a censored press was more able to limit such dissent (something Grant seemed to envy). I wonder if Wilson learned this at his father's knee?

Second, is how most people were willing to agree to this kind of suppression. When one grows up reading the books I have read, it is hard to remember that these books were written by the people who were being suppressed by the vast majority of this country and who were more than willing to go along with the government's crushing of dissent. One always, I suspect, imagines himself as standing up against the kind of oppression, In the situation as it is coming down how would one act, I wonder? Or to be honest, the question I am most concerned about is how I would act.

Third, I suspect that Obama is licking his lips in the hope that he will be able to use the Espionage Act that was passed at the behest of Wilson to crush dissent during the First World War to smash Wikileaks and imprison Assange and Manning for life. I am sure he would like to get around to screwing with us lesser types too.
I went over to one of my fake progressive blogs just to see how the comments were going there or perhaps to get my fair share of abuse. Although this time I did manage to avoid commenting, for which I am vary proud. However, they were ecstatic about the arrests involving the people protesting Manning's condition. And of course once again Manning's imprisonment really isn't that bad and the people protesting weren't really hassled that much. Oh yeah, Daniel Ellsberg isn't that great a guy and what he did wasn't all that brave. There was also a massive justification post for Libya, but I'll leave that for another time.

Wow, these are people who claim to be liberal or progressive. I would guess that they would be the ones who if they lived in Germany in the 1930s would insist that National Socialist did have socialist in its name. Or in the alternative, those who lived during the First World War and would report their neighbors for not being enthusiastic enough. Worker bees I guess.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bits And Pieces

Oooooh! New toys, gotta use em.

A couple of things. I got in my inbox a couple of new comments on the Angry Black Lady post of March 14. Since that is about a week ago, or an eon in blog time, I'm wondering why they posted. It appears as though one wants to take umbrage at my terming what is happening to Manning as torture. The other one is insisting that it isn't happening.

In retrospect perhaps I shouldn't have used the word torture, but merely said that what is being done to Manning is an attempt to destroy his personality and force him to say anything his interrogators want him to say so that they can get him to confess to any thing they want and implicate Assange.

Secondly, I went to an essay in Salon that claimed that we have a coalition of the not so real. Then for fun I went to the comments many or whom insisted that just because the vast majority of the air strikes have been flown by the U.S. is because . . . . . . . well since we have more stuff than anybody else we should of course be the people who are using it and now that we have spent a decade of funding for NPR (not that I think they deserve it any more), or heating oil purchases for the poor, we will certainly quit and let the rest of to coalition do it. So there mister smarty pants.

I wonder why everybody hates Muammar so much?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

You Say Libya I Say Lybia

Actually Iraq, but remember good times, good times.

I'm starting this tonight and then perhaps it'll go up tonight and perhaps tomorrow.

At war again. And all over blogastan people who claim to be liberals are blathering on about how bad a person that Qaddafi is and how wonderful the people opposing him are. As opposed to the people in the Sudan, or the Ivory Coast, or Bahrain. Hell Libya isn't even where we should be if we want to protect the most people.

People in serious blogs who want to be taken seriously will go on and on about how well you know maybe this time things will be different and after all Qaddafi really is a bad guy so you know. You Know? This way if this works out, not like the others then they might still be listened to down the road, and if it doesn't work out well then they voiced their concerns right at the beginning dontchano.

I don't have to worry about that since I am not taken seriously by the two and a half people who actually read me to begin with.

However, there are some upsides to this (see even I am not immune):

First, perhaps this time we have finally found a third world Muslim country that we can beat and get out living only a minimal number of (our people) dead. Hell it could happen.

Second, there seems to be the advantage that it is impossible to spell Gaddafi's name incorrectly. I've seen it spelled at least four ways with both a G and a Q as the first letter . Blogger spell check gives you Qaddafi, Qaddafi's and Gaddafi's, but no Gaddafi.

Third, I tend to misspell Libya and when ever I do it gives me the giggles like a 13 year old in sex ed class.

If you stack these things up against the for sure facts that we are now responsible for the dead that come out of this and that we cannot afford to keep our social systems working, but we can afford to spend millions (at least) bombing other people to shit, in order to replace an unstable dictator (who dresses badly and rules an oil producing country with someone who will not be so unstable) I'm sure you see where on balance we could not not go to war.

Oh by the way, who else remembers that just two days ago we were arguing about whether or not we should be supporting a no fly zone. Before anything starts we ramp it up.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tell Me Why People Are Such Assholes, Again?

As I think I've mentioned before I am a member of a (euphemism alert) 12 Step Program (I think that should be capitalized, but I'm not sure). We have what are called Steps (totally unnecessary to know what they are for this piece) and Traditions (only the fourth one is necessary for this piece).

4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups
or (euphemism) as a whole.

There are two groups which meet in this church. I found myself part of the "leadership" (for want of a better word) of one of the groups. We have decided to put on workshops to help people complete the steps, which most people who come to these meeting do not manage to complete, ever.

The other group (or at least a couple of the members, both groups probably have a total of seven or nine active members together; of which five are in our group) has decided that we have broken traditions and they must do something about it. Although, it appears as though their main activists do not hold any positions at all. There have been threats to disrupt our meetings which requires more or less constant vigilance and the ability to go and confront people who might come and try to disrupt our meetings. Mentally exhausting.

They have managed to splinter their group within a fairly short time of deciding that they had to do something. They have driven one officer completely out of the 12 Step Program and another one out of their group. They had a three and a half hour meeting which alienated even more people who are relatively new to the program. Still those who are left can be, or at least seem to be, I'm not sure which, physically threatening. Actually, there is really little or nothing they can do officially, since the workshop has been adapted from one that has been given for more than a year all over the country. In addition since groups are autonomous when letters are sent to the World Office the response is: We understand your concerns, but you must understand that since each group is autonomous we take not position on this matter. Or words to that effect.

All groups seem to function in a spirit of comity until you get to know them and become involved in the way they are run. Politics is the name of the game where ever you are. It further seems to me that what ever you are involved in there is some one who is sure that they know what the rules are and that they are the one to enforce those rules, and for some reason they are always able to get followers. And then they are always able to get those followers to follow them into some sort of battle, even if it is only metaphorically a battle.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Don't Know What Is The Matter With Me, Oh Wait. Yes I Do.

I've been hesitating to write and been thinking about things in my head, but I keep coming back to the same ole same ole. I would like to accomplish something before this toil of tears, etc. Another attorney in town just died suddenly "only" 78, which it turns out is a lot younger than it was ten years ago.

On the other hand I live in a WTF!!! world.

I keep looking around and seeing things going down hill. It might be the reason I choose to write about Grant's Memoirs last time. Would that I had a facility for end of the world humor. I could at least parlay that into some real money.

News that it looks like the polling in the various districts in Wisconsin show most of the republicans running ahead of the democrats is simply more of the: "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." Or: "I can hire half the working class to kill the other half."

Yesterday deciding to kill some time between clients without doing any real work I went cruising my "Fake Progressive" folder. I was looking to see if any of them had chosen to comment on Obama's firing of Crowley and his: "Oh well, if the people who are doing the torture tell me it isn't torture, then I guess it isn't. Is it Prof. Yoo?" statement.

I really didn't look that hard, but I didn't see anything except on Angry Black Lady who attacked Greenwald for as far as I can see bringing that point up and not others. Therefore directly leading to the loss of massive numbers of democratic office holders and the destruction of unions. Plus there are other people he just doesn't care about.

I commented, something I really shouldn't have done, and the response was interesting to say the least. However, the last one that I saw before posting here was a person who commented that they really couldn't bring themselves to believe that Obama approved Manning's treatment. That is incredibly sad.

Well, I made a second mistake and made some more comments. It makes, I expect no difference, but I sometimes cannot help myself. I find myself accused of defending Greenwald, something if he chooses I'm sure he can do all by himself. What interests me more is the way that the people there defend Obama or I as suspect they think it: Dear and Glorius Leader, and deny that anything is happening to Manning that isn't just okey dokey. And that apparently any criticisms of Dear and Glorious Leader are the cause of all evil that happens to his True Followers.
UPDATE: This will also probably prove that I am only trying to ape or defend Greenwald. I suspose I shouldn't have gone in on a post that was attacking Greenwald, but what caught my eye was the absolute refusal to hold Obama to any kind of standard at all, other than He must know what is right. Or perhaps, He does it therefore it is good and right. Therefore, STFU.
The other interesting line of "thought" if one can call it that, is that Obama doesn't have the time to think about this, even though he had already answered a question at a press conference which showed that he clearly know and had spoken to people about it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Book Report

So much has been going on personally dealing with my Mother, taxes, various incompetents around me, two briefs that are due (actually past due, but I got continuances), and the second part of an eviction action, the damages part. The eviction thing was set for a hearing on money damages tomorrow, but my clients filed for bankruptcy which stays every case everywhere which involves them. The thing wasn't so much the stay, but the fact that neither my clients nor their bankruptcy attorney bothered to mention this to either me or to the court until yesterday even though the bankruptcy had been filed about a month and a half ago.

Through all this I've been reading Grant's Memoirs. Down loaded it for free from, for my ereader. I've read abridged versions of them before, but this is the first time I've read the unabridged version. It is even a little more interesting because I also got Twain's Autobiography for Xmas and it begins with a description of the publication of the Memoirs.

The abridged versions I've read cut out the parts that are the most fun, and concentrate on his versions of the battles. I'm not saying that those are not fascinating, but the discussion of the abilities of the various generals and the politics involved in the war and the early chapters about the Mexican War in particular are both fun and fascinating.

The first thing that comes out is the very dry humor of the guy. He mostly makes fun of himself. At one point stating that he joined a charge against the Mexican Army which just happened to be ordered while he was visiting the front (not a place where his orders took him) because he did not have the moral courage not to. At another point, at the beginning of the Civil War, he continued an advance because he again did not have the moral courage to stop and try to figure out what other thing he might do. This second incident was the one where he got to the location he thought the enemy was to find the enemy had fled and realized that the enemy commander was as afraid as he was. Something he said that he never forgot. There are several other points, particularly in the early parts of the book that are quite funny.

At other points he makes very clear that he completely understands that fighting a war as a democracy is much different than fighting a war as a kingdom or dictatorship. His explanation of the Vicksburg campaign and the reasons he fought it the way he did is as insightful as any I've ever seen as to what needed to be done and how this kind of war had be fought. He understood that for the Union to win the Union had to completely defeat the Confederates. The Confederates only had to keep from losing for long enough to tire out the Union and they would win. Something that Lincoln also understood, but not I think Stanton or Halleck, nor for that matter most of the other earlier commanders of the Union Armies. Grant was quite clear on this. He thought both Stanton and Halleck "timid" while he, Sherman, and Lincoln he clearly thought were not "timid."

His explanation for why he crossed the Mississippi and cut loose from his base of supplies is straight and simple. There had been a number of Union reverses, the republicans had lost the mid-terms to mostly anti war people and conscription had, of necessity, just recently been instituted in the North. His choice was to retreat to set up a secure base and then advance on Vicksburg or do as he did (against it might be stated every one's advice, even Sherman the only general, I think he didn't criticize at some point). In other words, he had to advance and win and he had to do it then.

His admiration of the American soldier was clear and I think sincere. He said that the differences between the American soldiers in the Armies he commanded and the European soldiers of his day was that the American soldiers and the Europeans could both fight like machines, but that the Americans thought and cared about and understood the cause they were fighting for.

The one sentence description of his respect for the valor of the Southern troops which also puts their cause in perspective is possibly the best I've ever seen for doing that kind of thing. The single sentence saying that never had men fought more bravely for a more unjust cause is as powerful as any I've seen in giving the common soldier all the respect he deserves for his bravery, but still pointing out how unjust was the cause for which he fought. He gives no respect to the southern cause, but a great deal to the average southern soldier.

Finally, the prose is as clear, clean, crisp and direct as any I have read anywhere. There are a fair amount of copies of his orders included in the Memoirs and they are clear and to the point. I find myself writing better after reading him (and Gore Vidal).
Now on to Keith Richards' Memoirs.