Thursday, October 02, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s (Con't)

Katrina was a largely man-made catastrophe triggered by a moderately fast Category 3 hurricane that missed New Orleans. Citizens were denied the level of protection mandated by Congress in the 1965 Flood Control Act.

—Louisiana State University, "Team Louisiana" Final Report, February 12, 2007
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s (Con't)

In the summer of 2002... I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush... The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

—Ron Suskind, "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush" (2004)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s (Con't)

Bob Badeer: So the rumor's true? They're fuckin' takin' all the money back from you guys? All those money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?
Kevin McGowan: Yeah, Grandma Millie, man. But she's the one who couldn't figure out how to fuckin' vote on the butterfly ballot.
Bob Badeer: Yeah, now she wants her fuckin' money back for all the power you've charged right up—jammed right up her ass for fuckin' $250 a megawatt hour.

—Enron Traders, November 30, 2000 (caught on tape)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, September 29, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s (Con't)

In the Titanic, the captain went down with the ship. And Enron looks to me like the captain first gave himself and his friends a bonus, then lowered himself and the top folks down the lifeboat and then hollered up and said, 'By the way, everything is going to be just fine.'

—Sen. Byron Dorgan (D - ND)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 27, Catastrophic Failure: Enron, Katrina & Politics in the mid-2000s

Enron, based in Houston, is in the vanguard of a powerful movement that hopes to "financialize" (Enron's term) just about everything—that is, trade almost everything as if it were stock options. That movement is as much about politics as it is about business... [L]et's hope that it doesn't take a string of catastrophes to teach us that there are limits to what markets can do.

—Paul Krugman, The New York Times, August 17, 2001

The broader goal of [Paul Krugman's] latest attack on Enron appears to be to discredit the free-market system, a system that entrusts people to make choices and enjoy the fruits of their labor, skill, intellect and heart.

—Kenneth Lay, Enron CEO, August 22, 2001
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 26, Gay Rights Since AIDS (Con't)

As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe.

—Anton Scalia, dissent in United States v Windsor (2013)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, September 26, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 26, Gay Rights Since AIDS (Con't)

Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today.

—Anthony Kennedy, majority opinion in Lawrence v Texas (2003)

This reasoning leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.... Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.... It is clear from this that the Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed. Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive. The Court views it as “discrimination” which it is the function of our judgments to deter.

—Anton Scalia, dissent in Lawrence v Texas (2003)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 26, Gay Rights Since AIDS (Con't)

Amendment 2 classifies homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else. This Colorado cannot do. A State cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws.

—Anthony Kennedy, majority opinion in Romer v Evans (1996)

This Court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favored by the elite class from which the Members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that "animosity" toward homosexuality... Of course it is our moral heritage that one should not hate any human being or class of human beings. But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible--murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals--and could exhibit even "animus" toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of "animus" at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct, the same sort of moral disapproval that produced the centuries old criminal laws that we held constitutional in Bowers.

—Anton Scalia, dissent in Romer v Evans (1996)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 26, Gay Rights Since AIDS

But the way to go about it is... to legalize old-style marriage for gays. The gay movement has ducked this issue primarily out of fear of division. Much of the gay leadership clings to notions of gay life as essentially outsider, anti-bourgeois, radical. Marriage, for them, is co-optation into straight society. For the Stonewall generation, it is hard to see how this vision of conflict will ever fundamentally change. But for many other gays--my guess, a majority--while they don't deny the importance of rebellion 20 years ago and are grateful for what was done, there's now the sense of a new opportunity. A need to rebel has quietly ceded to a desire to belong. To be gay and to be bourgeois no longer seems such an absurd proposition. Certainly since AIDS, to be gay and to be responsible has become a necessity.... If these arguments sound socially conservative, that's no accident. It's one of the richest ironies of our society's blind spot toward gays that essentially conservative social goals should have the appearance of being so radical. But gay marriage is not a radical step. It avoids the mess of domestic partnership; it is humane; it is conservative in the best sense of the word.

—Andrew Sullivan (1989)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 25, The Iraq War (Con't)

Retrospectives:

As I think about this war and others the U.S. has contemplated or entered during my conscious life, I realize how strong is the recurrent pattern of threat inflation. Exactly once in the post-WW II era has the real threat been more ominous than officially portrayed. That was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the world really came within moments of nuclear destruction. Otherwise: the "missile gap." The Gulf of Tonkin. The overall scale of the Soviet menace. Iraq. In each case, the public soberly received official warnings about the imminent threat. In cold retrospect, those warnings were wrong -- or contrived, or overblown, or misperceived. Official claims about the evils of these systems were many times justified. Claims about imminent threats were most of the times hyped.

—James Fallows, 2013

I am not a radical. But more than anything the Iraq War taught me the folly of mocking radicalism. It seemed, back then, that every "sensible" and "serious" person you knew -- left or right -- was for the war. And they were all wrong. Never forget that they were all wrong. And never forget that the radicals with their drum circles and their wild hair were right. Watching reasonable people assemble sober arguments for a disaster was, to put it mildly, searing.

—Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2013

As someone who was involved in day-to-day antiwar activism at the time, the visceral hatred of those opposing the war, and particularly the activists, was impossible to miss. It wasn't opposition. It wasn't disagreement. It was pure, irrational hatred, frequently devolving into accusations of antiwar activists being effectively part of the enemy.... A huge amount of the arguments in favor of the war were essentially genetic: look at the people opposing the war, dirty fucking hippies! How could you stand with them?

—Freddie deBoer, 2013

I was an integral part of the problem. I drank deeply of the neocon Kool-Aid. I was also, clearly countering the trauma of 9/11 by embracing a policy that somewhere in my psyche seemed the only appropriate response to the magnitude of the offense. Prudence, skepticism left me. I’d backed Bush in 2000. I knew Rummy as a friend. And my critical faculties were swamped by fear. These are not excuses. These are simply part of my attempt to understand how wrong I was – and why.

—Andrew Sullivan, 2013

What all of us [who opposed the Iraq war] had in common is probably a simple recognition: War is a big deal. It isn’t normal. It’s not something to take up casually. Any war you can describe as “a war of choice” is a crime. War feeds on and feeds the negative passions. It is to be shunned where possible and regretted when not. Various hawks occasionally protested that “of course” they didn’t enjoy war, but they were almost always lying. Anyone who saw invading foreign lands and ruling other countries by force as extraordinary was forearmed against the lies and delusions of the time.

—Jim Henley, March 2008
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.