|Tuesday, March 10th, 2015|
|Thoughts on the Cotton Letter to Iran
The letter by Senator Tom Cotton, and signed by 46 other Republican senators ("Cotton letter") is the second time that Republicans have violated the existing protocols on how the U.S. conducts foreign policy. As is often the case, much of the argument I have seen revolves around whether such action is treason or a violation of law, the contention being that if it is not prohibited by law then it is perfectly permissible.
This ignores the fact that something as complex as government requires respect for unwritten conventions and respect for the institution as a whole to function. Republicans appear to have made a concerted opinion to undermine the Executive Branch on the exercise of foreign policy well beyond the usual, unwritten bounds. The Cotton letter is extraordinary in that it is a public statement addressed to a foreign power by a substantial number of Senators to undermine the negotiating ability of the President. As with Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, it is technically permissible (nothing stops Senators, in the exercise of their duties, from saying publicly how they plan to vote in the event a treaty is placed before them for ratification), but destructive of the institution and undermines our ability as a country to conduct foreign policy.( Read more...Collapse )
|Monday, March 9th, 2015|
|Wednesday, March 4th, 2015|
|The Speech, The Dress, And Why the Iran Negotiation Creates a Real Rift Btwn Israel and the U.S.
I shall now get a bit long winded, knowing that discussion on Israel is always triggery. But whateves.
Some will have seen a picture of a dress floating around the Internet
which, depending on who looks at it and againast what set of color cues, is usually described as either gold and white or brown and blue. I have suggested that Netanyahu's speech to Congress on Iran is much the same. Depending on how you perceive U.S./Israel relations, it is either blue and white (the colors of the Isrtaeli flag, i.e.
, you perceive the speech as being all about Israel and whether Israel is dictating to the United States, exploiting the U.S. for domestic Israeli politics and we should stop giving them $3 billion in aid, etc. or Israel needs our support and boycotting the speech means you hate Israel, want a nuclear Iran, etc.) or red and blue (this is just another extension of U.S. partisan politics and either Boehner or Obama or Pelosi ought to be ashamed of him/herself for making our critical foreign policy subject to domestic squabbles).
i have actually mastered the neat trick of being able to flip in my brain whether the dress is white and gold or brown and blue (if it helps, I tend to generally see it as goldish-brown and a kind of really light blue that I, being a guy, would call either white or blue depending on the day but which Becky would tell me has some weird name and could pick exactly that shade of white/blue (and no other) from a color chart). So I will try to apply that here. The problem is: this really is an actual hard problem where allies have divergent interests and considerations.
What is right for the U.S. is not necessarily right for Israel (or other countries in the region). This assumes a rational Iran, because any rational country capable of developing a nuclear weapon rationally wants to do so based on the advantages it confers.
It also raises significant problems of practicality. Iran is not like other countries in the region where Israel has acted militarily to thwart the country's nuclear ambition (Iraq, Syria). Iran is large, has a large, eductaed population, significant resouces to invest, and signifcant trade relations with lots of other developed countries. None of which is comforting to those in the region who worry about expanding Iranian hegemony.
Lots more boring stuff below, mostly to get it off my chest . . .( Read more...Collapse )
|Friday, February 27th, 2015|
|What Can I Say That Hasn't Been Said About Leonard Nimoy
I think I can only say it hurts worse than when either James Doohan or DeForest Kelly died. Leonard Nimoy and the character of Spock he created were both inspiring people for me.
I am, and always shall be, your fan.
|Thursday, February 26th, 2015|
|Wednesday, February 25th, 2015|
|The FCC Is Getting Me an Open Internet For My Birthday!
The FCC is going to give me an Open Internet For My Birthday -- Tell Congress Not To Be Party Poopers."Reclassification was a thing that should not be possible, and which therefore nobody but a handful of us believed could happen. It did not happen because some powerful person or special interest wanted it. It did not happen because John Oliver made a funny video. It happened because hundreds of lawyers, grassroots organizers, and policy advocates persuaded over 4 million people to stand up for their rights and demand that the government act to protect them from the unrestrained corporate power of broadband access providers. It shows — to everyone’s surprise — that government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth."
|Link Harvest: Verizon Claim For Title I Wireless Investment Boom Debunked
As Free Press notes, VZ failed to adjust for inflation when comparing investment in the wireless industry between 1994-2007 (under Title II) and 2007-014 (Title I data, Title II voice). Doing so eliminates the "boom." Other metrics likewise call into question the assessment that Title I had any positive impact on industry investment. Investment is more closely correlated with level of competition.http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=60001032598
To which I will add that the spike in investment in 2009-2011 correlates to the availability of AWS-1 (auctioned in 2006, but not cleared of federal users until 2009) and 700 MHz spectrum (auctioned in 2008, not available until analog shut off until 2009). That this spike, when adjusted for inflation, is lower than the spike in wireless investment following the initial PCS auction in 1994 (which was investment entirely under Title II) likewise undrmines the argument that regulatory framwework influences investment decisions.
|Tuesday, February 17th, 2015|
|Monday, February 16th, 2015|
|Link Harvest: Federalist 29
In reading many of the publications against the [network neutrality and Title II], a man is apt to imagine that he is perusing some ill-written tale or romance, which instead of natural and agreeable images, exhibits to the mind nothing but frightful and distorted shapes --
"Gorgons, hydras, and chimeras dire";
discoloring and disfiguring whatever it represents, and transforming everything it touches into a monster.
|Thursday, February 12th, 2015|
|Tuesday, February 10th, 2015|
|Wednesday, February 4th, 2015|
|Thursday, January 29th, 2015|
|Republicans Continue To Corrupt Congressional Budget Office
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a non-partisan office within Congress designed to provide actual information on what impact legislation will have on the economy and the overall cost to the government. Because good budget information is critical to good decision making, both political parties have traditionally left CBO alone.
Republicans violated that principle as soon as they controlled Congress by mandating "dynamic scoring" for things like tax cuts. Whether or not one believes in dynamic scoring (it is controversial), the fact that Republicans mandated its use for circustances where they think it helps (e.g., tax cuts) is a shicking corruption of the truth spell woven into CBO.
Now, Republicans are planning to get rid of the current head of CBO and replace him with an economist with appropriate conservative credentials.http://thehill.com/policy/finance/231058-gop-interviewing-budget-referees
This is extremely bad from an institutional perspective, and is a splendid example of the genius of Republicans. They understand how this kind of change, which the rest of the world hardly notices, has HUGE impact. They are also aware that, when Democrats get control of both chambers again, the public memory on this is sufficiently short term that they can make a HUGE deal about it and make it look like it is the Ds that are 'politicizing' the CBO.
To recast the old slogan of "give a man a fish/teach a man to fish." Give me a majority and I can pass legislation for a term. Alter the institution and I can screw things up for the long haul.
|Wednesday, January 28th, 2015|
|High Impact/Low Ego Leadership Models
I am much impressed with this piece on high impact/low ego leadership
and the #BlackLivesMatter social change movement. For many years, I have urged that modern movements that are successful work on a de-centralized "rough consensus and running code" model. This is often mistaken for "no leadership" and lack of movement.
One of the elements of high impact/low ego leadership is that by shifting focus from a single, anointed charismatic leader (or a handful of leaders representing different "factions"), the movement and the change become much more bottom up. Consider, as another example, the social change movement around legalization of marijuana, or marriage equality. One cannot point to a single leader or organization that is the spokesperson. One can point to many individuals and organizations operating at various levels (local, state, national) that have contributed to dramatic changes in state legislation and on the ground well in advance of federal legislation.
|Tuesday, January 27th, 2015|
|Hope everyone north of us is fine
We got a little dusting here in DC. Even the locals aren't *too* wigged out. School is closed, tho. But not for Aaron, since Hebrew Academy opted not to follow Montgomery County and is only on a 2 hour delay.
|Thursday, January 22nd, 2015|