Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Ask Not What the President Can Do For You…

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The question you should be asking yourself is not whether Obama is implicitly giving torture a free pass by refusing to personally indict its propagators, but whether any sitting president can bring up charges against a former president. The answer is ‘no,’ but the reasoning is mainly predicated upon tradition of the office rather than simple legal precedent.

So as such, will Obama break tradition and indict Bush (from whose office the torture memos clearly originated)? The answer is again ‘no.’ It’s tough enough being the first Black president faced with the biggest economic crisis since the big one, two foreign wars and an obstinate, raving opposition, but to break tradition on top of that? He’d be pilloried by the pundits, and he’s banking on the public’s patience and goodwill right now.

There’s a political bonus that he’s enjoying by being classier than his opponents, for sure, and it’s really throwing the Republican party for a loop – if you want a laugh, try comparing Obama’s inclusive and lofty rhetoric to Michael Steele’s faux-ghetto patois – but I still think the crux of the matter is, he can’t be seen as doing anything that insults, however superficially, the office.

However, if like me you would still like to see Bush & Co get what’s coming to them, don’t yell at Obama: Pressure the Justice Department, who still have the option to move on the issue, or Congress, who have the option to pressure the Justice Department.

EDIT: Yes, I, too, would like to have been able to overhear the conversations between Biden and Specter. I’m sure they alone would push the decorum of Congress straight into the British Parliament zone, at which point, who needs soaps?


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What is the likelihood that Obama’s decision to take a hands-off approach to investigations and indictments over torture, not to mention civil rights like gay marriage*, thus far is due to their ability as wedge issues to galvanize opposition to waste White House time better spent dealing with immediate crises?

I can’t help but think of how Monicagate plagued Clinton’s second term such that it took a life of its own and completely eclipsed any other designs that were happening at that time, like, say, Kosovo.

*Since when has that issue ever flown under the radar, Dan Savage?

‘Tis a Good Day

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to be a Democrat.

As the Times would have it, Obama’s halo fundamentally changes the very nature of Man, all four New York dailies focused on some stupid decision a White House lackey made instead of, say, economic meltdown, foreign diplomacy, wars and pestilence, bringing us full circle back to Clintonian media idiocy, and Senator Arlen Specter is now a Democrat, with a firm rebuke to Reaganite Republicanism, granting the Dems a filibuster-proof majority on issues like health care. Welcome.

PC Gaming Nerdgasm

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In the inevitable bile-spewing hatefest I get for the PC gaming industry for primarily producing…

  • graphically updated yet oversimplified sequels to cult classics, aka the same game for $50 but worse*
  • licensed crap to fill (aka drown) a niche market into oblivion**
  • FPSs with “innovative” MMO elements that boil down to repetition as an artificial gameplay lengthener***
  • Our Warcraft Is Different+
  • sequelitis in general++
  • console ports++

…I have to give credit where it’s due. Read the rest of this entry »

Bleeding Hearts

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When I read this revulsion towards US interdiction of pirates by, shocking enough, Salon, I was reminded of the scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian where the People’s Front of Judea got together and tried to hammer out a message of dissent against the Romans; one that got more ridiculous as the debate went on:

“All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”

“Brought peace?”

“Shut up!”

The People’s Front of Judea (and its dopplegangers, the Judean People’s Front, the Judean Popular People’s Front, the Popular Front of Judea, the Campaign for a Free Galilee…) was a dig on the Balkanized (practically atomized) infighting of left wing parties in the ’70s in the UK. Certainly anybody who’s watched the US Democratic Party repeatedly implode and fail to stay on message for the past 30 years can attest to the validity of such an observation, and the comments board for this Salon article certainly illustrates the point.

Now, I’m probably guilty of similar as I’m about to lambast both the article’s writers and its readers, but damn, people: Mao, Mussolini and Monroe probably wouldn’t agree on much, but one of the universal constants for any empire – nay, the very heart of authoritarian justification – is law and order. We hate the Romans for their slave trade and religious hegemony but love that they can patrol the roads. We hate the Mongols for their wartime brutality but love the trade that happens within their borders.

Both the US and China right now shoot pirates on sight, no matter how different their official views on Human Rights may be. Hell, even Jon Stewart, with the help of John Oliver, played the difference between interdiction of terrorism and interception of pirates. There is a universal constant – through time and space – that justifies governance, and that constant is in the suppression of banditry and piracy. Practically everything else can be (and often is) bullshitted with bread and circuses, slogans and propaganda, but damnit our roads and sea lanes must be clear or the government is bunk.

Now, for the “this article makes me ashamed to be a liberal” readers, suck it up and put your foot down. Bitchslap the writer and affirm your rational, thoughtful position by having done so. There are things so unequivocal that to not do them really does lay into question the point of the country. Our loftier goals of a more perfect union are predicated on the simple ability to be a prosperous and powerful country despite assiduously keeping to those goals, and this is one of those areas that proves our power.


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I remember at one point that I said that union leaders in the schools tended to be theatrical and self-serving.

Well, there’s theatrical, and then there’s theatrical.

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