In this week’s New Times L.A., the smart, acerbic and damn good looking Jill Stewart dissects Hahn’s “Save the City” rally and the blind ignorance of Ellay’s powers-that-were to the real forces pushing for secession.
Politics in the Zeros leaves for vacation with this post:

Among the endorsers of the email is Mike Antonovich, member of the powerful L.A. County Board of Supervisors. This is big news, Antonovich is a serious player, can marshal huge resources, and is, to my knowledge, the highest profile politician to date to endorse secession. (Note to those who may be confused, the Valley wants to leave the City of L.A.. Antonovich is a supervisor for the County of L.A. If the Valley leaves the city, it will still, of course, still be in the county).

Think about it.


The late Roger Zelazny was a terrific writer (note that I don’t ghettoize him by calling him a terrific SF writer). In one of his books, Creatures of Light and Darkness, he offers the definitive prayer:

Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I
say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have
done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not
forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible
benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I
ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may
be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in
my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may
not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your
receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and
which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.

Says it all, don’tcha think…


So we had dinner with George McGovern last night. No, really.
It was one of those big ‘annual dinner’ things, and we were – for a variety of reasons – asked to sit at the table with him. And somehow, it got my mind spinning about a lot of issues in politics and political history … of America and of me as well.
So a couple of posts will probably fall out from this today; here’s one of the first.
I talk to my political friends a lot about ‘Little League’ politics, in which political capital is built in small chunks by, for example, showing up at Little League events. Our (active, crowded) Little League always has a local politician at the Opening and Closing Day ceremonies, and somehow that always seemed like a good thing to me.
I know some elected officials, and I know how mindblowingly hard it can be for them, spending every waking moment at some kind of function or event or another. Watching Senator McGovern last night, as we listened to a whole lot of speeches from outgoing officials talking about last year and then incoming officials talking about next year, I was struck by how many events like this must lie behind him, and how his personal history – and the personal history of any senior politician here in the U.S. – is built at dinners like that and firehouse pancake breakfasts, scout lunches, and Little League ballfields.
I like that. I like that lots more than modern big-time electoral politics, which is built on large donors, Astroturf campaigns (campaigns that are built to look grassroots, but are really centrally funded and coordinated), and big media buys.


So we’re arguing about the Pledge case over brekkie, and I’m surfing on the laptop, and I find someone who perfectly sums up my position:
From Live from the WTC: (please forgive me for quoting the whole thing, it’s just too good, click over anyway and give her come counter love, will you please?)

So an appeals court just ruled that its unconstitutional for students to be led in a Pledge of Allegiance that contains the words “Under God”. And I know that you all rushed to your computers with the burning question: “What does Jane think about that?”
Well, on the one hand, I think that the words “Under God” don’t belong in the Pledge. It’s more sonorous without them. Go ahead, try it: “One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” And it doesn’t belong in a nation where not all the people believe in God.
On the other hand, what the hell is wrong with our country that this kind of stupid liberal hissy fit gets raised to a constitutional case? I mean, c’mon. . . “my kid can’t be exposed to the word God, because they might be so contaminated by it that they’ll never recover, and there’s no reason that I should teach her to skip the “under God” part, because why the hell should I be expected to display a little moral courage?” Okay, I’m ranting, but why are we wasting time on this? Is having those words in the pledge what the Founders were worried about with the separation of Church and State? No, dear, they were worried about burning heretics, not burning cheeks from the shame of Not Fitting In, as if never feeling uncomfortable were some sort of implied constitutional right.
And think of what else this implies. It means we can’t ever have anything said in class that might disagree with someone’s religious beliefs; bye-bye, evolution. It means that we have become a nation of such pantywaists that the mere word God can send both coasts into a swooping faint. Oh, I think the court should uphold him. And then I think we should all dedicate a tiny portion of the rest of our lives to making fun of the idiot who brought this suit until he’s ashamed to show his face in decent company.


Nuisance blogs the detailed, graphic, NC-17 basis for the superiority of the banana slug as a school mascot, and the careful bloc voting that went into its inevitible electoral triumph.
But I was there at the beginning (or, as my sons point out, when tools were made of flint). And the reason for choosing the Slug as a mascot seemed obvious to us then.
Santa Cruz would never be able to have a football team. C’mon…try and imagine the cheers…


A couple of interesting comments on the whole public health thingie:
John “Akatsukami” Braue from Rat’s Nest comments:
[Update: Just went to his blog to get an email address, and saw that he’s posted some suggestions. I already owe him a bunch of attention and comment, so this just will have to get added to my giri.]

There are a number of issues here, some of which are explicit in your discussion, others of which are not. Let me suggest a couple that have to be dealt with:
1. You’re going to die. I’m going to die. Extropian yivshish to the contrary, we’re all going to die.

Fair comment; I think that the core corporate-liberal value is becoming ‘death avoidance’ rather than ‘life embracing’; but there are stupid and avoidable ways to die and some that are less so. You have to figure out where your personal point on that spectrum is and where the social point ought to be. And I don’t think ‘We’re all gonna die anyway’, absent a framing philosophy (which from your Bushido nickname, I’ll assume you have) gets us very far. The issue is how we fit the inevitable fact of our death into what we make of our lives; but that conversation takes us fairly far afield.

1a. The usual standard for medical care has been “everything that we can do”. In 1925, this cost almost nothing, because it was almost nothing. Today, it’s a lot, and costs a lot.

Very true. Think about the classic conundrum of medical expense in the last weeks of life being the largest proportionally; personally, I went through this with my father. But I’m not talking about overall or encompassing medical care (although we will need to at some point), I’m talking about a narrow slice of care that deals specifically with communicable diseases.

2. Public health is not necessarily compatible with other civil rights. Would the forcible quarantine — that amounted to imprisonment — of “Typhoid Mary” be acceptable today? Even stipulating that we could cure from being an asymptomatic carrier, would forcing to take medications, remain where she could be found to have them dispensed to her, etc., be acceptable today. Think about anti-vaccination advocates before answering.

Yup. Closer to home, think of the bathhouse issue in San Francisco. I have a dog in this fight, as my best friend and the godfather of my older sons died of AIDS, which he probably caught at a circuit party or bathhouse.
As I’ve said before, people have the right to be stupid. The question becomes where we draw the line; I’ll suggest that there is a balancing act between rights and health and that we have stood firmly on the side of rights and perhaps ought to slide a step or so over toward health.
Sassafras of the eponymous blog, says:

We’re going to get government healthcare in times of major epidemics whether we like it or not. One thing that would make it much easier to adjust in the event of epidemic, whether natural or bioterrorist, would be implementing some form of universal health coverage *now.* Side effect of universal health coverage: more people treated in clinics, instead of going to the ER where triage nurses put adults who are not accident / trauma patients or suffering heart attacks on the schedule to wait for 6 1/2 hours.

I just returned from a conference, and in my hotel were people attending a national conference on public health. It was sobering to hear their views …

I have to agree; I think that when we get a good scare and 10,000 or so people die of something transmissible, we’ll be reacting quite vigorously rights be damned. One of my thoughts is that by implementing some kind of skeletal public health/healthcare system we can begin to build the infrastructure for identifying and coping with the kind of public health shock I think we’re gonna get.
Andy via email forwards a libertarian friend’s thoughts:

But here’s the thing: here’s where “public” as a word falls apart… Not in its first usage, but in its *second* usage. Change it to
“others’ health is truly good for you”
and now you have the beginnings of a campaign to get people to voluntarily “pay” for healthcare for other people, *because it is in their own very personal private individual interest*. Campaigns for the *public* good are never going to get people to voluntarily participate; but campaigns for their own *personal* good might.
I put “pay” in quotes because there is a LOT of room for creativity, innovation, and personal choice in terms of who will pay into what kind of system, just like private charities operate in different modes.

There is certainly room for voluntary and charitable action in these areas. But the kind of health infrastructure I’m talking about is to some extent atomic (meaning it comes in indivisible chunks), and as a consequence, it only works if everyone plays. I’m sympathetic to the libertarian striving for a purely voluntary life, but somehow it seems like it would work about as well if one could make gravity voluntary as well…I’ll now flee the room in anticipation of the net-libertarian response…


Is there a word for that yet? Or is it just a pleonasm?
First, and foremost, think good thoughts about this guy, currently in the second week of a coma in the Kern Medical Center. I want to say something like “If everyone who believes in faeries…” and somehow focus all the good thoughts of folks who read this on George.
Big props to that cigar-chompin’ unbent liberal, the Bad Dude himself, Brian Linse. We had our abortive trip to Bakersfield cut short by riots in the Sarge’s GI tract (was that appropriate, or what?), and spend the afternoon and evening downing soda and iced tea (yes, we are manly men…in fact, so manly that when you go here, they are afraid of us…’Your testosterone level is perilously high. Frankly, you scare us!’ It’s OK, I scare myself sometimes). Good time, and thanks again.
Why put those together? because it’s a reminder that the only thing that matters is the people in our lives, our friends, as simple as that may be. Found a new one, and hope like hell to keep one I’ve got.

PALESTINE, DAY 1 BILLION…or so it seems

Palestine is in the news: Bush’s speech sets the U.S. in opposition to the currently constituted P.A.
I’ve owed Demosthenes a response, and this gives a great frame for it, and both Lean Left and Max Speaks have recent comments I need to respond to.
Here’s Demosthenes’ point: (btw, I’ve gotta spend more time reading him…)

So, how to stop (or at least reduce) the bombings? Well, you need to disrupt one of these three elements: either disrupt access to the explosives, the target, or the bomber. The former is practically impossible; anybody who’s watched Fight Club knows that explosives are pathetically easy to make with the right knowledge, and trying to keep that knowledge under wraps is impossible. Trying to disrupt access to the target is, of course, why Israel is building their wall, has all their checkpoints, and are currently invading and occupying sections of the territories… an arrested or dead terrorist loses access to all three, but principally the target. (After all, he could simply become the bomber). The measures that attempt to prevent access to the target, though, are creating more and more possible bombers, and with that are increasing the accessibility of the third element: a bomber.
This is, of course, the element that those that are calling for either a Palestinian State or at least less repression are trying to disrupt. If you remove that sense of desperation and hopelessness, then fewer bombers become available. If you create the impression that there are other ways of changing your environment and your situation, you remove yet more bombers. If you reinforce the idea that terrorist bombing is wrong and that vengeance will only create more vengeance, then you remove yet more potential bombers from the pool. Yes, you’ll still have the hardcore extremists, but those are far simpler to track and predict than a random teenager who has lost their fiance… and they may be dissuaded as well by others that don’t want to deal either with the repercussions or the loss of that person. (Secular interests can outweigh religious ones). Besides, there would be more people who, like Ms. Ahmed, morally object to the bombings, not having had their own personal grievances outweigh their moral qualms.

Lean Left has interesting posts on this, including one dated June 23 (note that his permalinks are broken), in which he says a few nice things about me and then goes on:

have come down on the side of laying the culpability at the feet of the Palestinians, all the Palestinians, and only the Palestinians. Everything they say is true – suicide bombing is a horrible evil, statehood will not stop groups like Hamas, there are some Palestinians who want to do nothing but kill Jews. All of that is true, but acting solely on those truths (whether because of the one percent rule, or for some other reason) will solve nothing. The problem with a Sharon like plan is that it is only temporary. I can think of no insurgency that has ever been stropped by outside force alone.

[Note: Hmmm. I need to go over my military history on that one.]
Their points are good; they speak to the fact that in terrorism, like in crime, the ultimate answer is to stop growing terrorists (as the answer to crime is to stop growing criminals). But it begs a simple problem: who will bell the cat? Exactly who is it that Israel can offer peace to? Who will help create the culture which stops growing terrorists?
The problem is that for a variety of reasons, either a temporary aberration or a deeper cultural dynamic (in my darker moments, I side with Eric Raymond, in believing that this is a characteristic of Islamist culture; in my better ones I realize that temporary insanity has been a characteristic of human societies for a long time, and hope that that’s the case here), the current ruling culture in Palestine and much of the Arab world, is more interested in growing terrorists than in gaining what we would consider to be rational political ends.
Now Raymond and others would argue that this breakdown is inherent in the modern Muslim culture/religion/worldview. Someone like Bernard Lewis would agree with him (I still remember reading his article ‘The Roots of Muslim rage’ in the Atlantic what, ten years ago?), others like Edward Said, would not. Now while I think Said is an idiot, I will say that I don’t yet know enough to have a hard opinion yet, and that we need to be very careful here. If Lewis is right, we are facing Huntington’s ‘Clash of Cultures’, and it’s gonna be messy and probably radioactive before we’re all done. If not, then the answer is to find the voices in the Palestinian community who do want to engage us on terms that we consider rational
That’s my hope, my path through this mess. And that’s the gauntlet, I believe Bush has just laid down.
My overall criticism of the Muslim (note that I don’t say ‘Islamist’) world in response to 9/11 and the terrorist war in Israel has been to the moral and political silence of the ‘mainstream’ Muslim community, who has responded consistently with “Yes, but…”
Hint: That’s not good enough. If we are to take Demosthenes’ path, there has to be someone standing there to meet us, and right now the onus is on the Palestinian/Arab community to put forward that person. This is the window.
It’s a waste of time to negotiate with Hamas, with Arafat, and with the others who have created their personal and cultural identities around Islamist aggression. It’s time for there to be someone else.
And the challenge is for the U.S. and Israel (I don’t see anyone else in the West as a player at this point) to hold open opportunities for that ‘someone else’, for the Arab world to step up and support them, and for the Palestinians themselves both to be that ‘someone else’ and to keep the people who would kill that ‘someone else’ from doing so.
Mo’ Moral Equivalence
Max Sawicky, in MaxSpeaks, lists a litany of IDF ‘crimes’, and raises a challenge:

MORAL CLARITY WEEK, DAY TWO. I regret to report that in my admittedly limited investigations, our jingoistic warbloggers (JWs) have not yet seen fit to acknowledge the three stories I cited yesterday. I am certain this oversight will be swiftly rectified, since the possibility that the JWs do not value Palestinian lives as much as Jewish ones is almost too painful to contemplate.

Here’s his litany:

* An Israeli tank shelled a Palestinian marketplace, killing three children and a 60-year old man. (Link)
* Following a funeral for an Israeli mother and three children murdered by a Palestinian infiltrator, a group of Jewish mourners went on a rampage in a Palestinian village, burning a house and cars, and murdering a Palestinian. (link)
* In Jenin, the IDF wrecked a hospital. (link)

Max, I’m the last guy in the world to tell you or anyone else how to make your arguments. We’re all grown-ups here. But please know that the mode of discourse you’re taking on here is exactly the one that has alienated me from many of my friends on the Left and from the current corporatist-Leftist media coverage of the war. Any error on one side is immediatly prima fasciae evidence of bad behavior. The perfect is, quite literally, the enemy of the good.
Let’s get two things straight:
1) In any activity…including blogging, firefighting, police work, combat, anything like or between those…there is a level of bad behavior, carelessness, imprecision, error, and just plain old bad goddam luck that happens. On my planet, Earth, friendly fire kills combatants. Innocent people are shot or beaten. Noncombatants are killed. Buildings are destroyed. From the comfort of our desks, it’s relatively easy for you and I to condemn, because ‘it shouldn’t have happened’ and in our imaginations, we could have done it better. Well, guess what, it does. There is no perfectly executed human activity, and it just amazes me that academic or journalistic critic seize on every innocent victim of war as a justification for not waging war. Do you know how many innocent civilians died in World War II? Are you suggesting that to save them it should not have been fought?
2) The test is both the ‘level of error’ of the organization we are critiquing and how they respond to it. If, every time any squad of IDF soldiers went on a mission, they made it a point to kill innocents or wantonly destroy property, that would be one thing. Make a case, Max, that this is happening hundreds of times aday, as there are probably thousands of IDF actions daily. You can’t, because I’m willing to bet, there aren’t. There are bad, negligent, stupid, careless, tragic actions. You don’t need war or racism for that to happen; soldiers die in training here in the US every week. But I’ll ask you Max, what’s the acceptable level of error? How many errors do you make in the course of your day, and how often do you have to do things under the kind of immediate pressures the soldiers you so freely criticize face? Show me some concrete evidence that this is policy and come talk to me about this. Show me that the tanker who negligently fired on the marketplace crowd was promoted, and his picture run in the front pages of the Israeli press as a hero, and you’ll have a point.
Well, Max, here’s your response.


From today’s LA Times: Davis Opposed Timber Industry Tax Hike; this alone isn’t news, but the $105,000 contribution associated with it is.
My earlier comment stands:

At this point I can’t in any conscience vote for Simon; but in opposition, I’d rather get my hands chewed off by a woodchipper than vote for Davis, who is a corrupt, small-minded, visionless functionary. Fun decision, no? Is Mel Brooks running?? Gov. LePetomaine, anyone?