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Thursday, May 31, 2007
Memorial Day 2007

Memorial Day 2007 I offer to Andrew Bacevich for the loss of his son in the war Son of professor opposed to war is killed in Iraq - The Boston Globe. They were both soldiers; father and son. Andrew J. Bacevich Sr. university professor and conservative critic of the war. A graduate of West Point and veteran of the Vietnam and First Gulf Wars. First Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich Jr. A graduate of Boston University, participant in its ROTC program, and onetime aide to former Governor Romney Romney recalls former aide killed by IED in Iraq - Local & Regional - The honorable Mitt Romney who for years was governor of Massachusetts my native state and now spits on it at every occasion he can find. There were those who could not resist chiding Mr. Bacevich with words and positions he has said and taken over the past few years What's an Iraqi Life Worth? - Clinging to the line that to speak of anything less than total absolute victory is so much aid to the enemies. These attacks at such a time are nothing less than wicked and reveal much of those behind them. For these Andrew Bacevich has appropriate answer "I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty." Andrew Jr. finally made it into the army in 2005. Entering as a private and later getting accepted into OCS two years after he graduated from Boston University, when the Army relented and began taking individuals with asthma. He was in Bilad Iraq when he was killed on 13 May 2007 Following war tragedy, son and father revered - The Boston Globe.

On Memorial day we remember the soldiers. For those who have died. I only ask that these deaths not be hidden. So that all are aware of the sacrifice of those families who have lost someone, for we are all equal all one in our citizenship. For those who are still in this war, for those who will tell us what attitudes need to be held to be properly supporting the Troops. I will say again from my own experience we needed - they need - nothing. When you are in uniform You do your job. You trust that your effort, time, and lives are not being wasted. That you are not in the hands of fools. You believe the public to be behind you; if you are engaged in a just and purposeful struggle (thats a hard and not a soft and meaning and/or). You need nothing more from the people - the public than if they do not believe in the fight, you expect they will bring you home. You do not make your meals on home opinion. Whether it is wan disconcern, wide eyed support, inflated hubris and animosity toward those you fight (on your behalf), or anything in-between. Simply put: you do not wish to be a tool.

This brings us to the other memorial day question, the implicit one: When Americans are dying. Why are we dying? This is the question Andrew Bacevich has spent a career trying to answer. To those who speak glibly about the world war we are fighting. Is this the Third, Fourth or Fifth currently we fight. Why do our current political leaders have the view of the military machine they do: A gleaming and omnipresent instrument?  Not dissimilar to the Charles Rhodes conception of the British Army and Navy; not too close or ever that far away. Bacevich believes [and set forth in a Wilson Quarterly piece, THE REAL WORLD WAR IV] that in our nations recent past we looked into the abyss. The darkness of this abyss was change, that America might not always grow ever richer and ever hold higher standards of living than everyone else. The darkness we thought we saw was the darkness of being unsure of access to the energy from hydrocarbon extraction in the reserve fields of the middle east which we needed for our accostomed way of living. Our leaders responding to this made the middle east a new and paramount national security priority. And they set up a new national security system to deal with it. Explicitly to deal with it as a military problem. To save us from change they engendered change. Andrew Bacevich expanded this theme in a recent book The new American militarism : how Americans are seduced by war. With the course they chose they committed this county to timocracy and an endless run of wars.

It is a minor and sad irony that the army eventually formed was so hampered by grotesque over-management by an array of arrogant and incompetent leaders. That a certain inaptitude for imperialism is suggested, A brief moment for a potential reexamination of the vision of the future to which we are committed.

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Friday, May 25, 2007
Neo Wrong

On the occasion of Mr. Wolfowitz's second retirement Second Chance at Career Goes Sour for Wolfowitz - New York Times. I thought of the post I wrote back in April: Allan Bloomsday. I thought then that for all the pompous attacks the right launched on the American education system over the past few decades the foreign policy they produced did not seem to have escaped the pitfalls of ignorance.

I'm not sure I can say with any clarity, what I sidestepped in the previous post; what exactly is wrong with the blinkered neo-conservtive world view and education. I wouldn't get far trying to sift Ph.D.s from better schools through the filter of my own broken education. Some say Wolfowitz's problem is the University of Chicago and Leo Strauss's corner of the Political Science school that existed there. I've read through a history of political science that Strauss edited and have a notion of how he and his cohort view things. I don't understand it enough and I am aware this point has been argued enough already. There is something in this view that is adversarial. A state is a protagonist and there is an antagonist. If Straussian political philosophy were a movie the tag line would be: "there's always someone". This is the enemy. The enemy mine. I'll tell you there is in the end only us, we are who we are most afraid of. On those who are not us, the others, we arrange this.

Recently I've read, from different sources that Albert Wohlstetter was a more immediate influence on Wolfowitz's thinking than Strauss [ Albert J Wohlstetter (worldcat), and a-wohlstetter - Google Scholar]. Wohlstetter was a prominent national security writer and academic in the cold war error (sorry I meant 'era'). He spent the 1970's arguing that the US was not involved in any Arms Race with the Soviets certainly not one based on systematic overestimation of Soviet capability matched with aggressive overspending on our part. His book "Swords from plowshares" reflected his view that all nuclear power development trended towards nuclear weapon acquisition. Well there's nothing like tradition and the power of example. Wohlstetter's background seems to have been in mathematics and in the world of social science policy took the form of something he called opposed system design. For a truly fascinating glimpse into his world take a look at his Vietnam paper written for the Rand corp. in 1968 On Vietnam and Bureaucracy.

Another of the neo-conservative pillars is Harvey Mansfield (there are two, it is Jr. considered here Search results for 'Harvey Claflin Mansfield '). A few weeks ago he wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal WSJ | Harvey Mansfield - The Case for the Strong Executive explicitly throwing aside the rule of law. The sub head for that piece: Under some circumstances, the rule of law must yield to the need for energy. A few paragraphs further in he states: Now the rule of law has two defects, each of which suggests the need for one-man rule... I don't follow the WSJ editorial page. I came across this via Tutor in the Wealth Bondage web log Ordered Liberty where he pointed to the original piece and a somewhat incredulous Glenn Greenwald piece in Salon commenting on it Glenn Greenwald - Salon. The take-home kernel of that editorial simply is that these people consider that Rule of Law is for weaklings. The Washington Post caught up with Mr. Mansfield a few weeks later when he showed up to give the Jefferson lecture for the National Endowment of the Humanities A Strauss Primer, With Glossy Mansfield Finish - Here he laid into his favorite theme Thumos which apparently is an ancient Greek term which means 'being an asshole'. It also reveals his mode of operating which is to make provocative statements then fill in behind them until they seem reasonable. Except they don't he seems embarrassingly unaware of the depth of his mistakes, his fall. He didn't get much past the writer, Philip Kennicott, either who said: His speech was essentially a paean to a Homeric world-view, a fantasy of great men striving for great things, adding their names to the roll call of history. In both of these individuals we see much made of the logic they suppose of their arguments that, in fact, depend a great deal on loaded terms and ridicule. Essentially operating on an emotional level. I have a glimmer of an impression that in their early education an intoxication of myth structures overtook them, a framework which redraws and arranges all later knowledge learning, and experience.

Their notions of history seem less than fully rigorous. If nothing else history for them is comprehensible. It is narratival (yeah I'm just making up words now) that is; it tells a story that has a beginning middle and end. That can be told within a frame of focus and has a purpose, of some kind, in the telling. Implicitly at least. For them history is dramatic, romantic individualized. Their idea of it is wrapped up in the notion of the critical act, the great man, the decisive moment. In other words neo-conservatives are all a bunch of Drama Queens.

All this invests their notions of society. Which for them is hierarchical, affect-able, responds to agency, and orderable. Discussion of it always has properly a moralistic tone, because always some one is responsible; however, never them Operation Freedom From Iraqis - New York Times. It brings out the meaninglessness of the masses, their lives, loves, desires, actions. All those for whom the leaders of men claim they act to free. Only the leaders decide, only the leaders matter. You are either named by history which catalogs your wealth or you are back drop. When things do not go according to plan, only confusion is next The Neocon Paradox - New York Times.

I stopped to think of the personnel in question from this administration. Between this Sidney Blumenthal piece in salon | Wolfowitz's tomb and some really old Washingtonians I've looked through recently I've  seen three different iterations of what the Bush administration might have looked like as it was forming. How did these actors each with their cheering sections and sponsors arrive at their particular offices and how much of what occurred in the last six years depended on that? Blumenthal is one of the writers which looked to Wolfowitz's relationship with Wohlstetter to illuminate the particular cast of his thought. I still see in the myriad of operators  in the positions of power of this administration - neo-conservatives and the rest, as a mix of neo wilsonian idealists cold war shadow-boxers and crypto-realists. Whose realism is material, acquisitive and subjugating. What joined them all were the schemes they all brought with them. As well as holding a view of war as a device that clarifies and simplifies, produces order. Nearer to reality; however wars start, they do not end until their ability to keep producing disorder is exhausted.

Human affairs are dispersed economically and institutionally determined, they do not assemble towards anything explicitly monolithic or comprehensible. There is no story to history. Not in a sense that can be theatrically purposed, that is illusionary. There are stories within history, but none of them are, or can be the whole story. What story there is is the story of small practical everyday problems encountered and overcome by invention. Invention is carried on by institution and is carried forward until it is no longer able to serve as solution. That neo-conservatives and their ideology are an answer to a question history poses is a thing that that does not exist outside of their begging.

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Monday, May 21, 2007
Cutty Sark. the older world slips yet further away

I have this idea that the world, which exists in the minds of men and women, slides away in stages. It exists not only in the times and customs recalled in the living memory of people, but also in the patterns imposed on us or still available to us in the built environments and devices that remain among us. These were my thoughts as I read the sad stories on the tea clipper Cutty Sark burnt down in Greenwich BBC NEWS | Special Reports | 629 | 629 | The Cutty Sark's proud heritage. One step less than absolutely tragic because so much of the ship was being housed elsewhere during the refit Edinburgh Evening News - UK - History up in smoke as fire wrecks Cutty Sark. Worse for possibly being deliberate arson Cutty Sark fire may have been arson -

A picture named cuttysark_e.jpg Oddly enough I had mentioned the Cutty Sark to my nephew Grant just the previous weekend. He had been looking over all his ship models and had been trying to draw a sailing ship. He had asked if there were any sailing ships from the old days left. The Cutty Sark was the first I mentioned. A nineteenth-century wood-clad square-rigged ship. One of the last left Cutty Sark - Wikipedia. There are windjammers, downeasters, Steel-hulled sailing ships. Schooner rigged ships left. I remember the Tall Ships procession that accompanied the Bicentennial and made the rounds in the years afterwards. While on the USS Ranger we passed one in the Gulf of Thailand which I think belonged to the Spanish Navy1, I have no idea what it was doing there, but there it was. Nothing like the Cutty Sark though.

Her cutty sark, o' Paisley harn,
That, while a lassie, she had worn,
In longitude tho' sorely scanty,
It was her best, and she was vauntie
-- Tam o' Shanter Robert Burns
1. This would have been the Juan Sebastian De Elcano Juan Sebastián Elcano (Spanish ship) - Wikipedia. which I probably also saw in Boston a number of years earlier. I have a picture of it from the USS Ranger encounter which I may scan later on.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007
The color of China #009900

 Foreign Policy's web log posted on the environmental movement in China the other week, giving up some links to articles in the current press in the process Can China go green?.The heart of the piece was the author Blake Hounshell's doubts that a one party state has a citizenry that can put pressure on its leadership to take a direction on environmental concerns. Certainly, as nearly as I can tell,  the people and the state stand in a much different relation to each other in a society that has an emerged public sector than where one hasn't. So he might be right.  

 With a major trade and policy delegation from China in town all week it seems safe to say these stories are following an agenda of one sort or another. The main article in Foreign Policy that their web log pointed to, an against the conventional wisdom grain piece, which in its lede paragraph made the assertion that the greatest threat to China's order and well-being will be environmental problems related to rapid industrialism Foreign Policy - Think Again China . More so than business cycles or other economic growing pains. A CS Monitor piece,  The greening of China |, I had saved from a few months ago notes a Chinese official making a rare public statement on a missed goals. On pollution discharges and interim goals on increasing the energy effiency of the overall economy. This was followed by statements on moving away from coal as an energy source for steel and electricity production. The BBC piece dealt with displacement of peoples from hydroelectric dam projects BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Paying the price for a greener China. Again part of efforts to move away from coal. Daniel Esty's piece in Fortune features same quotes from officials (Premier Jiabao) on the importance of the problem. Esty's take on this is that "China's pollution problems have become so vivid they can no longer be ignored." Call this  pollutions "empirical moments": rivers catching fire, Smog that can settle out of the air and color the ground Is China turning green? - May 14, 2007.

 My environmental awareness is not strictly limited to REM songs about the Cuyahoga or the sky falling. I had a subscription to Ranger Rick as a kid, and wrote a paper on pollution when I was in 5th grade. I don't really write any better now than I did then. But I remember my home town, Holliston's, burning dump and the day of the air inversion or whatever it was called. An air mass came through town with a significantly different temperature and air pressure a thousand or so feet up. The smoke from the dump pooled in the ground level air mass. You couldn't stay outside. I believe something like this once killed hundreds of people in London in the 1880's. When you're a kid if two events are more than seven days apart you don't draw connections, but the burning trash dump became a landfill not long after that.

 Esty had a passing observation at the end of the article on the proliferation pollution abatement start-up's in China. This reminded  of a walk to UM one fall day a year or so ago with an Indian Grad student (day before the semester started the campus buses weren't running yet a three mile walk). I forget why but we were talking about this, perhaps Kyoto had been in the news. What I recall was his optimistic sense of a technological "fix" to the problem of environmental damage, and how intertwined this was with a specific national sense of technological prowness or superiority. Irregardless of that within market economies there is a tendency to see environmental stress as essentially, even wholly, a technological problem. The danger a facile fallacy. As this odd piece in the Washington Post from earlier this year attempted to say 5 Myths About Suburbia and Our Car-Happy Culture - Myth 5, the authors deliver up, We can't deal with global warming unless we stop driving. They make two appeals here 1) sure we could undertake measures that would "severely restrict economic growth [but]...Nations such as China ad India were excluded from the Kyoto Protocol." 2) "hurt the most: poor people in developing nations... [Why] "Fragile transportation systems" So build more cars more roads things will get sorted out at some other juncture, because we'll have to then. Bad Subjects I note took this piece up a month or so later the Congestion Coalition. At one level this is a mere tautalogy of sorts, a reduction of all human life and aspiration not to just techne, but a mere haphazard assemblage of technologies leading from nowhere to nowhere. So many rabbit holes run into and dug out from.

 A key understanding may be that the size of the current human population and level and acceleration of industralization make today's problems unique historical events References to the past the irresponsibility of the first industrial era a dead end. Regimes still hoping to rely on on a ordered future of managed markets and pliable mutable aquiescient populaces, as this pieces declaims A Shining Model of Wealth Without Liberty . The Iraq war isn't over, but one thing's already clear: China won. By James Mann.. They may find themselves manufacuring a reason for people to desire rule in thier own name.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007
A million blogs

At least a month ago I saw up on some web logs a banner for a blogs for peace effort One Million Blogs for Peace - To End the Iraq War . Citizen Mir had a post on this for her Dim Sum Diaries One Million Blogs For Peace Wednesday, April 04, 2007. I was intrigued enough that I went and looked at their site and the pledge they wanted people to affirm. I never put it up,though. I just can't support an abrupt pullout. And so far I've seen nothing in the dizzying assortment of legislative proposals, postures and vetoes, timetables and benchmarks, that makes me think there is a real way out, a solution. An end to the feeling of drowning in the boundless cynicism of this administration. It does not mean I agree with the war. The Iraq war. It does not mean I think that things will get worse if we leave General Says Iraq Pullback Would Increase Violence - New York Times. That there will be "a bloodbath". Given the dynamics of the situation, I don't believe it could get much worse ARMED FORCES JOURNAL - A failure in generalship - May 2007. It does not mean I think that benchmarks are unnecessary, that they would be tying anyone's hands. Without some form of measure you can not say you are accomplishing anything, and probably are not G.O.P. Moderates Warn Bush Iraq Must Show Gains - New York Times. It is just that I believe things will never get better if we leave now, and we have a responsibility for our actions Swoop - Iraq: The Worst Lies Ahead.

One thing I am extremely dubious about is the current movement to settle on an examination of the war's mismanagement. This is no more than changing the frame of the debate. Deliberately pointing beyond the reasons for the war, to achieve a false consciousness consensus on a "way forward." A prominent feature of David Broder's criticism of Sen. Reid Time says 'Embrace the Curve.' Why be ahead of it? - By Mickey Kaus - Slate Magazine. So what was this war about? Democracy? I suppose some may have thought so - as long as it didn't get in the way. Even there you can't gift democracy. If democracy ever comes about in Iraq, Iraqi's will have accomplished this themselves. The war will eventually be known to be about what all wars are about: power, wealth. Empire and its garrison. We claim a security vis our enemies, but we are also claiming a different kind of security, against change. By name access to oil.

The mismanagement involved is far greater than the details of this one war. Groups like Al Qaeda can exist because they feed off the resentment of regional blowback,  and the non-integrating frontiers of globalism. Blowback is a term of art referring to the diffidence caused by past even ongoing activities often undereported if not hidden entirely from the American populace designed to prejudicially shape the destinies of others to suit our own interests. Political resentment is a poison it is one of the great ills that Marxism gave history, but in its bitterness it is a powerful motivator. The theism of the Islamic extremists is inextricably bound up with it. It is in our interest to try now differentiating terrorism from non-integrating non-cooperating realities of differing national and regional interests. Globalism can never be interpreted as USism and form a viable ideology. Further, implicit in the drive to find a haven for an American garrison at any cost somewhere in or near the middle east is a privileging of oil wealth that is no less than the hijacking of the American nation by a faction. The realities of what we have brought to Iraq are chaos violence death, the inversion of social order. We have done this through sheer and thoughtless incompetence and have engendered a greater insecurity for our future. In the global war on terrorism some hoped we had not lost our innocence so much as gained a valuable enemy to have and to hold, forever.

Putting it back together. In Iraq we may be forced to acknowledge the legitimacy of proximity. That a people belong to themselves, their affairs of the most concern to themselves and their neighbors. All nations particularly ones with underdeveloped institutions face centripetal forces and the old solution: rule by a despot. Saddam didn't come from nowhere (nor did any of the region's Baathists) there was a problem, he put himself forward as the solution. The US may find this model harder to escape than was thought. The key to any viable government in Iraq is a deal on the oil profit sharing agreement that is currently stalled in the Iraqi parliament. Some form of soft partition may follow behind this but except for the Kurds it is unlikely to lead to hard partition succession or general realignment, simply because there has been no general or well formed movement for the others irregardless of religion or ethnicity yet to see themselves as anything other than Iraqis.

On the back of that I would allow time for military commanders to create a situation and make an assessment in a proper interval. But then decisions have to be made New Mideast commander off to quiet start - Yahoo! News. From my perspective the point at which we pack up the kit bag is when our presence is seen as making things worse, not making things better. The Washington Post a couple of Sundays back ran a light piece in the Outlook section where they rounded up the usual self selecting suspects to give a single bite quote on whether the US is winning or losing the Iraq War Is the Iraq War Lost?. Its worth noting in passing that Fredrick Kagan's assertion that Maliki is "incredibly supportive" of the need to go after Shiite militia was flatly contradicted by a front page article in the Post the next day Maliki's Office Is Seen Behind Purge in Forces - Victor Hanson's quote had all the order and lucidity, as others observed, of Belushi's "did we quit when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor" speech in Animal house. It is not about (not) losing. Whether lost is viewed as "final score 7 to 1" or lost as in "Hey haven't we passed that same tree before?" The later is a line already crossed.

In the continually and drastically simplified definitions of a successful outcome offered by the wars apologists. I see only the desperation of the certain neoconservatives to avoid well earned reputations of disaster The Neocon Paradox - New York Times. The plan that pressed for the current surge, written by Frederick Kagan, was titled Choosing Victory; a cynical sop to the simple-minded. Are you a losing loser, or a winner who has the courage to "Choose Victory"? It's just that simple: Plan B? Let's Give Plan A Some Time First - New York Times. Still in all, a successful outcome for the Iraqis is a genuine return to self rule. That cannot happen with the worlds largest embassy, a nation ruling embassy in their midst, nor with a garrison of troops em-barricaded in the midst of their productive oil-fields. That is not a nation, it is a colony.

For the US having decided to make a game of national security, the so called great game, the danger is that we may be beaten. A circumstance a more pragmatic foreign policy would never have entered into. This Administration's policy has been the moral equivalent of running with scissors. The security interests of the modern nation state, as legitimate as that state itself, expose a certain insatiability of such states. If oil forms a non negotiable interest desiring assurance not trust. We need to ask why we cannot trust in pecuniary interest, in markets, in innovation. In laissez faire. For conservatives this desire to command, betrays an ill belief in their own bull shit.

This lot does not form a party of Wilsonian or even neo-Wilsonians ideals. Expressing the belief in a better world. Embodying that belief. It is a struggle between enlightened or managed democracy. With the downward spiraling rationalizations they offer they are becoming the problem.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Journey From The Fall.

There is a movie playing across town I would like to see called Journey from the Fall (2006). By across town I mean the Regal Cinemas Ballston Common, which is some place in Arlington. On the Orange line I think, so it is possible, although not likely. I don't own a car, what is a simple errand for most people is a logistical grind for me. Maybe I can talk Carlton into buying it for Non-Print. The movie is the story of a family that left Vietnam as refugees after the fall of Saigon, Their story and the story of those they left behind. The story is modeled largely on the writer/director Ham Tran's own life. It is a story of a family similar to my friend Tran's. Tran saw this movie with her family which, really, is how I found out about it. The little press movie got has been very favorable Movie - Journey From the Fall - New York Times. There also seems to be a book associated with the movie: Journey from the fall = Vuot song : a photographers diary.

I pointed out to Tran that the web site associated with the film Journey From the Fall was looking for stories of similar families, but she thought that her family's story was not uncommon, just one among millions. Tran mentioned that she thought there was a archive project associated with the Smithsonian that was collecting pictures of Vietnamese refugees from the boat people period but I have been unable so far to determine precisely who.

In one of the last conversations I had with Tran concerning Vietnam, she asked if I knew of the trial of Father Ly. I did sort of, and had been planing to write a post (very much like this one) about it. I want to point out that things like this reveal the limitations of trying to follow substantive stories through RSS feeds. It just doesn't work: ICMPA | University of Maryland. Father Nguyen Van Ly who Tran told me was early in his carreer was executive secretary to the Bishop in Saigon, was arrested, tried BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Vietnam dissident priest on trial and sentenced in unfathomably quick succession last month for the crime of believing in democracy and religious freedom. And for being the cofounder of a group called Bloc 8406 (apparently "alliance of 08Apr06") Bloc 8406 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia which has put some of this in writing 2006 Manifesto on Freedom and Democracy for Vietnam� . There is also a web site Freedom Democracy for Vietnam Tá»± Do Thông Tin Ngôn Luáª-n Viá»[omega]t Nam that follows this movement. If you didn't catch this Father Ly's trial was memorable for the moment he was physically muzzled by a man (whose express job this seemed to be) who clapped his hand over the priests mouth after he was sentenced to eight years.

This situation brings up the very ugly post WTO, U S trade relations, and APEC climate in Vietnam Lawmakers demand that Vietnam release three jailed dissidents. There have been more arrests many more since Father Ly's and there will be more trials Dissidents face trials in Vietnam. Lawyers Nguyen Van Dai, 38, Le Thi Cong Nhan, 28, and others. Dai founded the outlawed committee for Human rights in vietnam, and nhan is a spokeswomen for the outlawed progressive party. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, a well known journalist and writer. In all it seems to be the most severe crackdown in twenty years Vietnam's vise on dissent. In their own words:

"No one in Vietnam is arrested due to their political views or religion - only those who violate our country's laws, and in turn we process them in line with our laws," a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said (identified as Le Dzung in a Cuban news service piece) [ Vietnam's Communist leadership schedules trials for propaganda and forming parties ].

What they appear to be declining to mention is that Vietnam's laws prohibit political and religious views of any kind.

The question that those who have looked into this are trying to answer is why this is happening now. Is it just a finger in the eye of free trade and engagement advocates. A last laugh by proponents of managed market economies. More likely, as some of these stories note, this is occurring ahead of Party elections. The real story is how tenuous control of Vietnam is becoming by its ruling regime, and how afraid they are of losing control. There is a rising and politically aware middle class, and they may be inclined to force a more widespread sharing of power. In the midst of this is the Resolution of Rep. Smith [R NJ-4] OpenCongress - Search Results H. Res. 243 which calls for the release of all prisoners of conscience and seeks a return of Vietnam to the list of nations repressing religious freedom GovTrack: H. Res. 243: Calling on the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to immediately and... (Vote On Passage). Rep. Smith along with Rep. Stupak [D, MI] and Northern Virginia's Rep. Frank Wolf wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal explaining the resolution's view Memo to Hanoi.

Democracy is a dangerous thing though. The Bush Administration called for democracy in the middle east and now feels they got more than they bargained for. The attitude of this administration in Vietnams case is not certain. My own feeling is that no state that is set up as a one party state owns the least measure of legitimacy. The facts may be that they are in control, engagement may be the course of non violence, but engagement must proceed so that there is always some lever against reaction.

Foot note: I make a rough draft for these posts. I keep these drafts in plain text and avoid unicode like the plague. Once you get any unicode on a document you can't get it off (like a text string with Vietnamese diacritics for instance) and since Macs seem to think Microsoft UTF 8 is really UTF 16 little endian (or something like that) they will open your document as a page full of random chinese characters, and there ain't no going back. Retype everything and ferret out all the links from memory.

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Saturday, May 5, 2007
Stories with Spelling Errors

I have had a number of hits on the logs over the past couple of days for  search strings  like "stories with spelling errors". Well, it is a  point of contention I suppose. I expect that at least half the words here are spelled correctly. I mean if this were baseball... But unreasonable people expect more; most words spelled correctly. I can't tell when a word is spelled correctly or not. They seem right to me at the time, I ask no more from words than that. I don't bother them, they don't bother me. And if a spot of preventive misspelling keeps certain searchs from coming to this site where the inquisitors are likely to be unhappy on arrival.  Then it's all good.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Everything is Free now

Everything is free now, That's what they say. Everything I ever done, Gotta give it away. Someone hit the big score. They figured it out, That we're gonna do it anyway, Even if doesn't pay...
Gillian Welch: "Everything is free".

Normally I don't like posting on the same topic twice in a row. However; I checked back across the links on the internet radio post from the other day and saw WFMU had some further comments up on the blog WFMU's Beware of the Blog: Hope on the Hill for Internet Radio. Station Manager Ken describes use of waivers and use licenses. This is where you organize one to one fee, or free use deals between labels and particular broadcasters hope_on_the_hil #comment-67854212"> April 27, 2007. Networks of such are one way out of this situation for independent and progressive minded radio stations. He furthers notes, that another listener is correct, in that the RIAA can collect on behalf of artists and labels that do not even belong to it, and then (apparently) do not even pass that money on to the labels. There is little to be gained by trying to regard copyright law as anything but madness. The best course seems to be to make independent arrangements yourself.

In other news. The implementation date for the new fees is pushed back to 15 Jul 07 from 15 May 07 Internet radio royalty hike delayed; last chance to petition Congress. Rep, Inslee's (D. WA-1) H.R. 2060 is looking for co-sponsers. The folks from SavenetRadio got to speak to people on the Hill over the last day as reported in the in RAIN: Radio And Internet Newsletter .

There was a post up on MetaFilter over the weekend. A statement by Ian MacKaye was the title "I like people to support the label, but as a musician, when I write a song I want it to be heard." Ian Mackaye | MetaFilter.  Somebodies YouTube dump of Fugazi concert footage was the subject. I would have probably finished the previous post a day earlier if I hadn't seen that. It set me to thinking; though, about property rights. Property rights are sometimes charaterized by the bundle of sticks metaphor. Not all property rights will be identical because every bundle contains differing types and amounts of sticks. The right to dispose or transfer property being merely one of those sticks or rather a chord of sticks within the bundle. But, I'm not sure the public has the right to interpret an ambiguous comment by a right holder to make that disposition.

I can get a tip jar, Gas up the car, And try to make a little change Down at the bar. Or I can get a straight job, I've done it before. I never minded working hard, It's who I'm working for...

Intellectual property rights, the right to profit from an idea, are conceived to act like a meal ticket. To provide for the benefit of an individual. An act of creation, an original idea, invention, story that people will pay you for. To protect that for the individual to use, to sell for a period perhaps approximating a lifetime was the object. I tend to recall one of Joseph Mitchell's characters Commodore Dutch here: "let the racket be your meal ticket." This is from Mitchell's story in the 1942 book McSorley's wonderful saloon, about a Manhatten bar scrounger who was given a franchise to sell tickets to a annual ball by a Tammany Hall Boss, providing him a low impact livehood of sorts. "I haven't got a whole lot of sense, Mitchell quotes him as saying, "but I got too much sense to work." [ Mitchell, Joseph. 2001. "A Sporting Man" McSorley's wonderful saloon McSorley's wonderful saloon. New York: Pantheon Books. (also in Mitchell, Joseph. 1992. Up in the old hotel and other stories Up in the old hotel and other stories. New York: Pantheon Books.) ]

Conflating the concept of property rights to one where all rights of differing origins and intents become  equalized, normalized and absolute rights so that such an individual benefit can be passed to a corporate entity, to become a managed profit stream for it, for as long as money can buy law escapes its intent. Why should corporate bodies get meal tickets? What value are they adding and what are they adding it to? For a certain period they can reasonably claim they are manageing money and rights for people who created something, but it is becoming clearer that the rights will continue to be owned and profited from long after the meals of these individuals are no longer the issue.

So I will close out this post with the remainder of Gillian Welch's "Everything is free" from the record Time the Revelator. A wistfull little song about the alienation of the artist from the value of art, if not the meaning .

Every day I wake up, Hummin' a song. But I don't need to run around, I just stay home. And sing a little love song, My love, to myself. If there's something that you want to hear, You can sing it yourself. 'Cause everything is free now, That what I say. No one's got to listen to The words in my head. Someone hit the big score, And I figured it out, That we're gonna do it anyway, Even if doesn't pay.

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2007 P Bushmiller.
Last update: 6/5/07; 8:14:11 PM.