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Showing posts from May 13, 2018

let Dimitrios Pagourtzis go

The NYT has an editorial headlined, Congress has dithered on gun control. That isn't right. The correct headline should be: congress has abetted the mass killers of children. And they are proud of it. Cause of course that it what the "failure" to enact gun control comes down to. We all know the consequences by now. Gun control advocates, who are often Dems, have become crackers of jokes and rather cynical users of the gun issue, when it is hot, to  accuse the GOP - while of course abetting centrist Dem candidates who, we are assured, are winning back white voters by opposing gun control laws. Like, in fact, the current Democrat running for Ohio governorship. And then there is the Governor of Texas, the lieutenant governor, the senators, the representatives, who were as much a part of Pagourtzis squeezing the trigger as he was. He killed ten. They've killed hundreds. And they will keep on doing so. So, if the decision is the blood of school children is no big de

The Dem legitimacy problem

I feel that there is an important aspect of the Obama era that is slipping away, being forgotten; and in so being, laying the groundwork for a similar mistake. Let’s go back to the year 2009, when the O. administration decided to go with the most conservative plan for national healthcare, the one made up by the Heritage Foundation and promoted by Newt Gingrich in the 90s. Much infighting on various progressive blogs ensued. The progressive blog conclusion – expressed most forcefully, I believe, by Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein – was that those who wanted a more radical form of healthcare were politically unrealistic. By this phrase, “politically unrealistic,” they meant – well, they seemed to mean that other legislation couldn’t get passed. As we now know, if you are in majority, you can change the rules and pass what you like. The GOP suffers from no problems with political realism in that sense. Back in 2009, there was many a valiant single-payer who dashed up to the wal

Overthrowing the CEO mystique: the robot boss

I’m a strong believer that the CEO space – that expensive, padded space that costs fortune 500 companies hundreds of millions per year – could be radically altered and made much less expensive by replacing CEOs with expert systems. However, my faith in this program isn’t just based on the fact that generally, CEOs don’t provide much of an advantage to the firm – research consistently shows that CEOs who outperform do so in ways that undermine long term performance, and that the company often experiences crises and shock in the wake of CEO hotdogging, as the president of the company leaps to another post in another company. My faith is based in the improvement of expert systems. A good study of the history of expert systems in law was published last year by Phillip Leith, who in the 90s was a strong critic of basing legal expert systems on Logical programming, under the ideological influence of Hart’s notion that the law can be reduced to rule-based behavior. It is a fasci

The birth of public opinion out of the death of the Little Tradition

I n Engel’s introduction to his The Situation of Labor in England, he gives a brief history of the displacement of the old, ‘detached’ rural farming and artisan system brought about by the new system of industrial production: “The felt comfortable in their quiet plant life, and would never, save for the Industrial revolution, have been taken out of this clearly very romantic-cosy, but yet, for humans, unworthy existence. They were not humans, but simply working machines in the service of the few aristocrats, which up until now have lead history. The Industrial Revolution has thus only carried through the consequence of this when it made the laborers completely into a mere machines and took away the last remnant of independent activity from under their hands; but in doing so drove them to thinking and to the claims of a human situation. What politics effected in France, in England was effected by industry and the movement of bourgeois society overall; it pulled the last classes to be

Our dreams in Iraq come true!

The victory of Sadr's coalition in Iraq reminds me of, well, countless blogposts I writ with my own hand here during the reign of dumb and dumber that was Bush (now we have the re-run, evil and eviler, but it is on the same IQ level). So I thought I'd just reprint a post from February 23, 2007. Cause it contains a bit of that old prophecy. good news (again) in Iraq As LI has said before, there is something curiously hollow about the Bush administration’s policy stated aim of victory in Iraq. On the one hand, we already won – you will remember the Saddam Hussein hanging. On the other hand, we are still there, fighting for something. Often, that something is simply conflated with “defeating Al Qaeda.” It is an interesting policy – one perhaps stemming from Jesus’ Good Samaritan parable - that seeks to protect the Iraqis from Al Qaeda while allowing Al Qaeda to regroup and party in Pakistan. Is this due to the saintliness of our president? Bravely trying to wrestle the cont

on shock

“The intentional correlate of living experience has not remained the same. In the nineteenth century it as “the adventure”.In our days it appears as Fate. In fate is hidden the concept of the ‘total living experience’ that is completely mortal. War is its unsurpassed prefiguration. (That I was born German, then I must die for it – the trauma of birth contains already the shock that is mortal. This coincidence defines Fate.” “That which is “always the same thing” is not the event, but what is new in it, the shock that pertains to it.” “Empathy comes about through a declic, a kind of gear shift. With it, the interior life erects a pendent to the shock of sense perception. (Empathy is alignment in the intimate sense).” [My own translations] I take these three comments about shock from Benjamin’s Arcades book. Like so many of Benjamin’s sentences and phrases, they carry a systematic hint, although the system into which they would fit was never constructed. To that extent, they also

Bad action stems from blinding the imagination: the case of American foreign policy

What would American history look like if the Republican party had been banned in the U.S. in the 1970s, its leaders jailed, or hunted down by the police? What would it look like if certain of them had been tortured or died? Well, it would look a hell of a lot different. This is why events like military seizures of power, or CIA supported coups, have had such a devastating effect on the histories of multititudinous countries. The suppression of a political party, or the banning of an ideology, can have major effects. Even after “democratic” procedures are re-applied, the swerve taken by a country, what is allowable, contains a limit, an internal place that can’t be trespassed. I was catching up with the NYRBs lately – too much to read, the info just floods in! – and I came across a review of a Suzy Hansen’s Notes on a Foreign Country . Hansen expatriated to Turkey in the 00s, leaving Bush’s country behind. Gradually she began to see that American foreign policy had left a lot of