11 November 2010

Inter armas silent leges

A few days ago I finished China Mieville's The City & The City, which (briefly) is about two cities - Beszel and Ul Qoma - that occupy the same physical space but whose citizens occupy totally separate mental spaces. It's an extreme version of the reality people in the world deal with every day and I was reminded of it when reading this entry at the website.

In essence, the author (Chase Madar) argues that Guantanamo is not an aberration in the current American prison system:

"Prosecuting a 15-year-old for `murder' with the help of a little torture and some threats of rape may not be the kind of thing we want to show German journalists. They’ll just get upset. They lack the context. But we Americans really have no right to claim that we’re shocked, shocked. We got used to this kind of thing a long time ago. The prosecution of former child soldier Omar Khadr has been nothing, in other words, if not all-American."

It's a form of the same "unseeing" that Beszel's and Ul Qoma's citizens practice every day.

Happy Armistice Day 2010

Happy Armistice Day!

I remain "old school" when it comes to remembering the past. Instead of celebrating state-sanctioned killers we should be celebrating the restoration of peace (a semblance at any rate - the years between 1918 and 1939 were far from peaceful for far too many people).

It's tragic but not unexpected that on this day we learn that the deadline for withdrawing US troops from Iraq has been extended to 2014.

Vae victis and sieg heil, comrades!

"It is right that the murder of many people
be mourned and lamented.
It is right that a victor in war
be received with funeral ceremonies." (Tao te ching, Ursula Le Guin, translator)

03 November 2010

Sarah Palin 2012 - How Did The Mayans Know?

I take today's post title from a sign reportedly seen at Jon Stewart's Restore Sanity rally.

Well, it's November 3 and as the dust from yesterday's elections settles it becomes apparent that the Republicans didn't enjoy the utter blowout one might gather they had from the more hysterical headlines but the Democrats were handed their asses in too many contests that should have been theirs.

But not in California, happily. We went Democratic in a big way; most of the returns I looked at were decided by margins of 10% or more. The propositions were more uneven - glimmers of electorate intelligence shone only to be extinguished on the next vote.

Governor - Jerry Brown - Could be worse; we could be saying "Gov. Whitman"
Lt. Governor - Gavin Newsom
Secretary of State - Debra Bowen
Controller - John Chiang
Treasurer - Bill Lockyer
Attorney General - Kamala Harris? - I checked on the state's website and this was the only race that was in any way close. Harris has approx. 46% to Cooley's 45%, with 96%+ of the counties in so it's conceivable that the percentages could flip.
Insurance Commissioner - Dave Jones
US Senator - Barbara Boxer
US Representative - Judy Chu
Superintendent of Public Instruction - Tom Torlakson

The Propositions:
19 - No: Well, maybe next time. It was close.
20 - Yes
21 - No
22- Yes
23 - No
24 - No
25 - Yes: I'm a bit surprised that this one was passed (it requires a simple majority to pass a budget) but happy it did. Of course, this glimmer of intelligence was quickly extinguished by the results of the next proposition, 26.
26 - No
27 - No

Nationwide, we appear to have avoided the worst of the Tea Parties' candidates - no O'Donnell, no Miller, no Paladino - but we have a House led by a man who promises to turn back the anemic healthcare and banking reforms that Obama and the Democrats managed to get through, and a leadership dedicated to "investigating" the administration's numerous "crimes and misdemeanors."

Its going to be a brutal two years.