Friday, August 30, 2013

deja vu all over again

The U.S. is no doubt going to war in.on/over/with Syria -- with rush-to-judgement "evidence," little international support (or national, for that matter), and clear signs that we will be sucked into something we can't control.  I don't doubt for a minute that Assad is monstrous or that the people in Syria are suffering massively and tragically.  Nor do I doubt that Obama is a smart man and, unlike his predecessor, not keen to swashbuckle his way into war.  I suppose he's equally in thrall to the interests of oil companies and, like all presidents, unable to take on the military.

But, still, don't they ever goddamn learn?   

slow learning curve

When protests erupted in Istanbul at the end of May and police forces reacted with a sledgehammer response that was both brutal and unnecessary, my husband asked, "Don't they ever learn?"  We had left the Taksim neighborhood only days before, so we could picture exactly where it was happening and -- because everyone in the city seemed to be selling something or building something -- why.  But the "they" were the government, which responded as governments and others in power do when they think they're loosing control: they try for more control.

It doesn't work, at least not in the long run and not usually in the short run either. You can't keep the lid on when it has already blown off and by now you'd think someone would have learned that out-of-proportion responses only make things worse.

The mess in Turkey has been followed in quick succession by the crackdown in Libya, the coup and resulting slaughter in Egypt, the rigged trial of Bradley Manning (which would have been much worse had the military been able to keep the public in the dark, as it no doubt was counting on), and just yesterday, the 9-hour detention and interrogation at London's Heathrow Airport of David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has pissed off a lot of people by aiding Edward Snowden's in publicizing the U.S. government's spying on its citizens.

I don't believe that power necessarily makes people stupid, but I don't get why people in power are so blinkered when it comes to responding to challenges to their power.  I don't get why they don't ever learn.

Friday, August 2, 2013

what's good for the union?

In a letter announcing a vote on unionization of part-time faculty at Tufts University, her deanship wrote: "We do not believe that unionization is necessarily in the best interest of the University as a whole or of all of the part-time lecturers."  Not at all surprising and it reads as boilerplate, but it makes me genuinely curious to know if any administration -- aka management -- at any time anywhere in the U.S. did believe unionization was in its best interest. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

um, maybe there are better forms of protection?

"One of our primary missions is to protect the population over there,"
         Army Brigadier General (ret.) Robert Carr
         testifying in the sentencing phase of Bradley Manning's court martial
         about the damage his leaks caused "over there" in Afghanistan

Is this the Afghanistan version of: We had to bomb the village to save it?  And if the mission is to protect the population, maybe a good place to start would be not killing the people we're protecting callously -- as recorded in Iraq in the Collateral Murder video Manning leaked and Wikileaks publicized?  Or "mistakenly killing" 5 Afghan police at a highway checkpoint, as reported the following day?