Archives, page 1

Wed May 13 21:48:28 2009

This is intended to be a special-purpose blog commenting primarily (and usually in short) on small political matters in the US and occasionally elsewhere. Initially I'll focus on presidential policies of Barack Obama and his team, and the focus may grow broader or narrower as time goes on.

For starters, I note that so far I believe Obama to be a good president and a reasonably admirable politician given what is possible in the United States.

Wed May 13 21:52:35 2009
Torture and Prisoners

I am disappointed at his recent choice to try not to release the torture photos - I recognise that there may be a point that the photos expose US troops to potential hatred and harm, but I feel that this is not a good enough argument against release for the following reasons:

I am also deeply disappointed about the failure to aggressively prosecute those involved in torture. Torture, in my view, is unforgivable and warrants execution. Extrajudicial or political executions may in rare circumstances be necessary (e.g. of the Romanov family to decisively end the Russian monarchy), but such executions should be done in a civil and polite manner. Military/Political imprisonment is more often necessary for various reasons, but in all those cases they should not be coerced or mistreated - their living conditions need not be luxurious, but they should not be interrogated with any force, denial of basic human needs (acceptable food, water, sleep, noise). Anything from sleep deprivation to waterboarding is torture, it is uncivilised and monstrous, and should in all but borderline cases warrant an execution for all involved. This should apply both at the lowest levels (those performing the torture) and at the highest (those who created or approved policies allowing torture).

Wed May 13 22:09:16 2009
Initial moves in healthcare

I am disappointed that it appears that the health care reforms are designed to lessen the need/utility to move towards single-payer healthcare.

I believe socialised medicine would be of great benefit to the United States, even as it opens a hornet's nest of specifics.

Wed May 13 22:11:03 2009

So far I am impressed at his efforts to engage the public. The redesign, the online questions, and the engagement on online video sites like youtube are setting a precedent for future presidents - it will likely be difficult for technophobic politicians to maintain popularity in the future. It remains to be seen if the renaming and repurposing of the Office of Public Liason to the Office of Public Engagement will be accompanied by any matters of significance.

Wed May 13 22:22:31 2009
Reworking the Military

I expect and hope to see Obama change U.S. Military Policy so that gays are openly permitted. I will be disappointed if he does not.

Wed May 13 22:43:34 2009
Sri Lanka

In response to Obama and others calling for greater access to refugees in the former LTTE zones, I strongly feel that the Sri Lankan government should resist any pressure that would create a situation where either

  1. High members of the LTTE might manage to escape
  2. High members of the LTTE would effectively communicate with each other
Greater access by the Red Cross and similar groups pose these risks. A solid victory over the LTTE is more important and will prevent more suffering on the large scale than open access and premature normalisation of the region.

Mon May 18 17:26:44 2009
Missing a Nuance

Lim compares abortion to forced-good-samaritan laws, suggesting that it is inconsistent to be against abortion and also be against good samaritan laws.

My own thoughts on this are nuanced - I mainly object to Lim's comparison because it's a "bad move", not (necessarily) a bad conclusion.

There is at least one consistent perspective which is against both abortion and good samaritan laws. It focuses on actions rather than results - under the perspective, abortion is illegal and wrong because it is an action with intent to end a life, while being a "bad samaritan" is not to act - the act/not-act distinction is key to this distinction - if one allows another to drown, even inches away where negligible effort would be needed to save them, it is permitted because under this system, morality is composed primarily of prohibitions, with obligations primarily coming from voluntary entrance to conditions.

I have come to reject this paradigm in its strongest formulations - I believe there are some obligations that we owe others by default without having having decided to take them up. While I hold my philosophy as universal in the same way most other philosophies are, I recognise that philosophies as described above are coherent.

Thu May 28 17:08:17 2009
Pressuring Israel

I approve of Obama pressuring Israel more strongly over settlements.

Fri May 29 22:05:52 2009
On Sotomayor

I was concerned about the excerpt from Justice Sotomayor's comment about race that has been brought up a lot in the press recently.

I read a more detailed contextual explanation, and then read the speech, and am no longer concerned about that point.

Sat May 30 23:12:35 2009
Prisoners and Terror

I find the irresponsibility of the states in refusing to take prisoners from Guantamino represensible. As commented in various places, they are little different than the worst of our prisoners here, and our better facilities would be more secure than keeping them in Cuba.