Saturday Catchup: Sauce for your weekend

"But if 'global war' isn’t the right approach to terror what is? Experts on terrorism have produced shelves’ worth of new works on this question. For outsiders, reading this material can be a jarring experience. In the world of terrorism studies, the rhetoric of righteousness gives way to equilibrium equations. Nobody is good and nobody is evil. Terrorists, even suicide bombers, are not psychotics or fanatics; they’re rational actors — that is, what they do is explicable in terms of their beliefs and desires — who respond to the set of incentives that they find before them. The tools of analysis are realism, rational choice, game theory, decision theory: clinical and bloodless modes of thinking. That approach, along with these scholars’ long immersion in the subject, can produce some surprising observations." -- Terrorism Studies: Social scientists do counterinsurgency by Nicholas Lemann (The New Yorker 2010-04-26)

"I have been openly critical of the US military's role in world affairs for several years now, and in the responses from soldiers and their supporters I have noticed a common theme: I should be respectful, I am told, because the military is defending my 'freedom.' This is not an overly brusque summarization - I have not heard an elaboration on this claim. Everyone should be grateful for the sacrifices of the US military, from the Iraqis and Afghans to US citizens, because without the exact current formulation of the US military, a nebulous and shadowy enemy will step forth to threaten my personal freedom or safety. So the story goes. Because you military men and women believe you are doing this for me, I am formally asking you to stop." -- A Plea to the US Military and Its Enforcers by Ian G. Anderson (truthout 2010-04-30).

One benefit of working at Google was the once or twice a week visits to the office by writers promoting their latest books. Here, for example, is Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz explaining how economic policy became dysfunctional in what might be described as the Robert Rubin Years.
Reading list:
Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy by Joseph E. Stiglitz
Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph E. Stiglitz
The Stiglitz Report: Reforming the International Monetary and Financial Systems in the Wake of the Global Crisis by Joseph E. Stiglitz

"It is a shame that Congress is moving forward with financial regulations that do not eliminate the heads-bankers-win, tails-taxpayers-lose mentality that has driven most of the bailouts during this sorry episode. Companies that are too mighty to fail must be broken up. And incentives in the nation's regulatory system that reward size with subsidies should not be enshrined into law. They should be eliminated. Only then will America be safe from toxic banking practices and the burdensome rescues they require." -- Do You Have Any Reforms in Size XL? by Gretchen Morgenson (New York Times 2010-04-23).

"Democrats know exactly how politically dangerous it is to raise funds on Wall Street right now. But they're doing it anyway. Both parties, in fact, know the risks and are choosing to take the hit rather than forgo the cash. This isn't because they love being attacked or even think that the toxicity of Wall Street is overstated. It's because, to use a metaphor that's in vogue right now, our system of campaign finance turns politicians into vampire squids wrapped around the wallets of the rich, relentlessly jamming their blood funnels into anything that smells like money." -- Democrats, Republicans just can't quit Wall Street money by Ezra Klein (Washington Post blog 201-04-30).

Thomas Jefferson on Lloyd Blankfein: "I have ever believed that had there been no Queen, there would have been no [French] revolution. ... Her inordinate gambling and dissipations ... her inflexible perverseness, and dauntless spirit, led herself to the guillotine ... and plunged the world into crimes and calamities which will forever stain the pages of modern history." --  Goldman Sachs: The Marie Antoinette of Our Time! by Leslie Griffith (Reader Supported News 2010-04-30). Interesting take. The French didn't sit still for it. Will we?

Music break: Mississisppi John Hurt's Pay Day performed by Joe Bad XAnd here's the original.

“What we’re seeing affecting the press is part of a general trend in freedom around the world. It’s often press freedom that is the first to come under attack, and then that spreads to other freedoms more generally.” -- Karin Deutsch Karleker, managing editor, Freedom House global press freedom study. Press freedom falls around the world by Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor 2010-04-29). There are bright spots regarding press freedom, but there's been an overall decline for eight straight years, according to a new report. Other political and social freedoms may be waning, too.

They told us the World Wide Web would usher in a new era of freedom, political activism, and perpetual peace. They were wrong. Think Again: The Internet by Evgeny Morozov (Foreign Policy 2010-May/June). Alas, a networked world is not inherently a more just world. It's still going to take politics.

"What conclusion are we to draw from the fact that the richest and most powerful nation and most technologically advanced capitalist country cannot come up with the resources necessary to fund its educational system? This is not a technical problem, or even a financial one. It's political." -- The Looming Educational Catastrophe is Scary. Indeed. by Carl Bloice ( 2010-04-29)

SNCC "built two independent political parties and organized labor unions and agricultural co-operatives. It gave the movement for women's liberation new energy. It inspired and trained the activists who began the 'New Left.' It helped expand the limits of political debate within black America, and broadened the focus of the civil rights movement. Unlike mainstream civil rights groups, which merely sought integration of Blacks into the existing order, SNCC sought structural changes in American society itself." -- Julian Bond at the 50th birthday party of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. We'll Never Turn Back - SNCC 50th Anniversary Celebrates Vanguard Role In Battles for Democracy by Carl Davidson ( 2010-04-26).

"Now we have come to another parting of the ways, and once again the fate and character of our country are up for grabs": On the final edition of his PBS "Journal," Bill Moyers holds long conversations with Texas populist Jim Hightower and novelist-essayist Barry Lopez. Here is the transcript.

If you're the person who has not yet seen what has to be the weirdest SNL video ever, this is for you:

Speaking of weird, "newspapers are full of the latest priestly sex abuses. This is an on going story. Within the last year, mass scandals have erupted in Brazil, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria. and the United States. Figures from the John Jay School of Criminal Justice estimate that since 1950, an estimated 280,000 children have been sexually abused by Catholic Clergy and deacons. How has this happened? Why does it continue? Pedophilia certainly is a familiar problem for the Catholic Church. Father Thomas Doyle, a priest, and Richard Sipes and Patrick Wall, former monks, wrote that the Catholic Church has recognized the problem of abuse by priests for 2,000 years. Their acclaimed book, Sex, Priests and Secret Codes was based on the Church’s own documents." -- Priests & Pedophilia: What Authoritarian Religion, Families & Schools Have Wrought by Harriet Fraad (AlterNet/Tikkun Daily 2010-04-30).

And, finally, plug in your earphones, 'cause here's a video of the greatest local rock band from my college years:
Although it can't match the energy of their live performances, The Remains by Barry & The Remains belongs in every basic rock 'n' roll collection as a remarkable milestone from a lost era. Or is that a lost milestone from a remarkable era?  Whatever.  The mid-sixties were a great time for rock and roll. And as I said at the time, there was lot more going on than the British invasion.

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