Think Progress » Iranians United With U.S. On Terrorism, Bin Laden, But Oppose Permanent Bases

January 31, 2007 § Leave a comment



A recent poll released by reveals that Iranians are both “very concerned about the danger of terrorism, reject attacks against civilians overwhelmingly, and share strongly negative views of Osama bin Laden.” The findings suggest a basis for diplomacy with Iran.

But the results do sound one important note of caution for the Bush administration. If it pursues permanent bases in Iraq, Iranians understand that it will have a negative affect on stability in the region. The American public, on the other hand, appears to be willing to accept permanent bases:


Recommendation 22 of the Iraq Study Group said: “The President should state that the United States does not seek permanent military bases in Iraq.” So far, Bush has refused to do so.

Last year, congressional conservatives quietly stripped a provision from a funding bill that would have prohibited permanent bases in Iraq. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) pushed a provision through the House — which was accepted unanimously — that put Congress on record as saying the U.S. would not be in Iraq forever. Lee recently pledged to continue pushing for the resolution until it is passed by Congress.

Source: Think Progress » Iranians United With U.S. On Terrorism, Bin Laden, But Oppose Permanent Bases


From Davos on depression

January 25, 2007 § Leave a comment


Was it right to call this an illness, someone asked. Insel thought we were still stuck in an era of thinking about depression as a personal weakness or as something requiring blame. Research taking us towards looking at chemical problems. But brain imaging meant we could now go way beyond chemical imbalance – he described this as a “way outdated idea” – into fixing circuits . People treated in this way recovered within minutes. Such treatments were not widely available yet, but thinking about in psychological terms could stop us from thinking about this disease in more modern medical ways.

So, its just a machine problem..?

Iraq to Iran

January 25, 2007 § Leave a comment

My thinking is that the increased troop levels in Iraq, an increase that won’t “work”, has a different purpose: it is to provide a margin of control that will be important when (supposition alert)  the US attackes iran. Then it is understandable.


January 24, 2007 § Leave a comment


Very interesting. I especially like the analysis of full papers. 

Link to News at wikileaks

Lobbyists find new Congress is open for business – Los Angeles Times

January 22, 2007 § Leave a comment

 There is not much here on details of how it works – tha is, what issues were discussed and in what language. But it is a small window. 

Surprising as it might seem in view of the Democrats’ public rhetoric, business groups are getting their telephone calls returned. And they’re getting plenty of face time with the new House and Senate leaders.
Thanks to this access, the oil industry fended off many features it considered most objectionable in the proposed energy bill, and the big pharmaceutical companies had success keeping some provisions out of the new House Medicare drug bill.

Source: Lobbyists find new Congress is open for business – Los Angeles Times

The list, according to one participant, included subsidies that Democratic lawmakers had previously tried to eliminate, including several that the oil industry considered particularly important.
One conferred favorable tax treatment on U.S. refineries that expanded and upgraded plants. Another allowed industry accounting methods that dramatically reduced taxes. A third included a tax credit that helped manufacturers compete with imports.
Charles Drevna, a top executive of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Assn., communicated separately with Pelosi’s staff opposing all three changes. The concerns were also represented separately by other lobbyists, and by Green and other members of Congress.
In the end, the industry was able to preserve the first two tax breaks, but lost the manufacturers credit.
Still, Drevna was not happy with the final bill.
He and other lobbyists said the environment on the Hill was clearly less favorable for business now that Democrats were in control.
But he acknowledged that his arguments were heard. “The speaker didn’t lie to us. She told us what she was going to do and went ahead and did it.”
Steve Elmendorf, a lobbyist who was a top aide to Sen. John F. Kerry’s 2004 Democratic presidential campaign, said: “The biggest change for the business community is that in dealing with Democrats, they are not the only people at the table. Labor unions, trial lawyers, consumer advocates are also part of the discussions. That wasn’t true with the Republicans.”


January 21, 2007 § Leave a comment


“The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”

— Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree

Source: Daily Kos: State of the Nation

Markets and capitalism. more soon about de Lande

Martha Nussbaum: Tragedy and Justice

January 21, 2007 § Leave a comment

 Tragedy and Justice

Bernard Williams remembered

Martha C. Nussbaum

Source: Martha Nussbaum: Tragedy and Justice Boston Review

Williams made a large demand on behalf of philosophy: that it come to terms with, and contain, the difficulty and complexity of human life. He believed that much philosophy of the past had represented a flight from reality, a rationalistic defense against complexity, emotion, and tragedy. Utilitarianism and Kantianism, particularly, had simplified the moral life in ways that he found egregious, failing to understand, or even actively denying, the heterogeneity of values, the sometimes tragic collisions between one thing we care for and another. They also underestimated the importance of personal attachments and projects in the ethical life and, in a related way, neglected the valuable role emotions play in good choice. Finally, they failed to come to grips with the many ways in which sheer luck affects not only happiness but the ethical life itself, shaping our very possibilities for choice. A lover of both literature and opera, Williams asked philosophy to come up to the higher standards of human insight these other forms of expression exemplified. What was the point in it, if it didn’t? Clear obtuseness does not contribute anything to human life. “Writing about moral philosophy should be a hazardous business,” he wrote in the opening sentence of Morality—both because one reveals “the inadequacies of one’s own perceptions” more clearly than in other parts of philosophy and because one runs the risk of “misleading people about matters of importance.” But most writers on the subject avoid the second danger by “refusing to write about anything of importance.” Williams never refused.

Striking how much this anticipates N’s own work, The Fragility of Goodness, Love’s Knowledge…

Williams suggests that the whole enterprise of systematic theorizing in ethics is an attempt to deny the complexity of human life and the irrational aspects of human nature—including the fact that people find value, as he said in Morality, “in such things as submission, trust, uncertainty, risk, even despair and suffering.” He urged philosophers to return to the Greeks’ inclusive and general starting point, the question “How should one live?”, which invites consideration of all the salient aspects of human life. Instead of constructing systematic moral theories, ethical philosophers should be confronting life’s tough questions, presumably in a piecemeal way, with close attention to literature and to psychology. Williams believed that the central questions in ethics are practical—“What am I to do?”—not theoretical, and that success would require engagement with hard practical questions.

he convincingly argued that the Greek poets show us a view of the world that we would do well to ponder: a world in which the things that matter most are not under the control of reason or indeed under human control at all, and we are exposed to luck on a grand scale.

If, however, we think that malice, ignorance, and callousness may lie behind the suffering we witness, well, that is in one sense good news: it means that there is a hope of change. But it is in another sense bad news: it means that the suffering was perhaps not necessary, and that if we had worked harder or thought better we might have prevented it. At the very least it means that we had better get ourselves together to do whatever we can to avoid such things in the future; anything less would be shameful. In the case where the disparity of power between victims and perpetrators is that between mortals and gods, it is not very clear what can be done, although withdrawal of worship is at least one thing that is regularly tried in both tragedy (the end of the Trojan Women) and comedy (The Birds); short of that, angry demands for acknowledgment and reparation must be pursued and pursued again.

She ends with some extrardianry perceptions of her attraction and repulsion to Williams. A model of self-analysis. Go read it.

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