Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Differences

[via Yahoo!News]

Reactions to the sentencing of a Saudi woman who was gang-raped to 200 lashes and six months in jail…

The Bush Administration:
On Tuesday, the State Department voiced "astonishment" at the sentence, but stopped short of calling for it to be changed.

Asked if the US government was reluctant to condemn an important Arab ally ahead of a conference aimed at reviving Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said: "No, that's not it at all.

"These kinds of decisions are going to have to be decisions that the people of that country -- in this case, Saudi Arabia -- are going to have to take for themselves," he said.

Sovereignty for Nations That Want to Torture and Jail Victims of Gang Rape + No Sovereignty for Nations That Don't Threaten Us But That We Want to Invade for their Oil and Strategic Position = Serious Neoconservative Foreign Policy Philosophy.

Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth:

Three Frontrunners for the Democratic Party Nomination for President:

John Edwards:
Former vice presidential nominee and 2008 candidate John Edwards branded the sentence an "appalling breach of the most fundamental human rights."

"I am outraged that President Bush has refused to condemn the sentence," Edwards said in a statement.

"We need a president who will reengage with the world and restore our moral authority --- only then will we be able to lead other nations in protecting the basic rights and human dignity of every person on this planet."

Barack Obama:
"That the victim was sentenced at all is unjust, but that the court doubled the sentence because of efforts to call attention to the ruling is beyond unjust," Obama wrote.

"I strongly urge the Department of State to condemn this ruling."

Hillary Clinton:
"This is an outrage," front-runner Hillary Clinton said in a statement, condemning the Bush administration for declining to call for a reversal of the sentence, on the grounds that it was an internal matter for its Saudi ally.

"I urge President Bush to call on King Abdullah to cancel the ruling and drop all charges against this woman. As president I will once again make human rights an American priority around the world," Clinton said.

11 comments:

Robin said...

I'm still seething over this. Seething to the point of incoherence.

Anonymous said...

On the one hand, this is really... Disgusting, to say the least.

On the other one, what Bush is supposed to do instead? Bomb Er-Ryad? Saudi regime is still technically an ally of the US, isn't it? (Although now, when there are no E-e-evil Commies, idea doesn't seem that good...

Dale Carrico said...

Are those the only options? Either smack our lips in eager complicity with tyranny and patriarchy or bomb bomb bomb in the name White Wartime Jesus' Democracy on the March?

The point is that the United States has lost the standing, such as it ever had, from which to exert anything in the way of diplomatic or legal pressure to planetize basic rights. And indeed the "New Normal" US killer clown college shows no real interest in such a project except when lip service to such ideals provides occasional pretexts for exploiting people for the profit of incumbent interests.

Bush and the other killer clowns love to talk about rights for the ladies in the land of the scary islamofascists whenever they think this will offer up a rationale for their beloved killing and looting sprees, and never otherwise. They're liars, killers, thieves, and hypocrites, and I still believe it is worthwhile to call them on this sort of thing from time to time.

What's Bush supposed to do, you ask? Get impeached and rot in a jail cell for war crimes for the rest of his life, or, failing that, just shut the fuck up and crawl in a hidey hole while marginally more reasonable people try to clean up the mess he left (probably so that killer clowns as bad as Bush can arrive in a decade or so to rampage again using the same crappy arguments about how scary and incompetent Big Brother is and why selfish vulgar unimaginative assholes deserve to rule the world and roll around in their own gold plated poop while they destroy the planet for no reason at all).

I get the sense that your comment is ironic but it is unclear to me just at whom you are targeting the ironies. You agree that something here is "disgusting" -- I'm assuming you agree with me that it is the outrageous treatment of this vulnerable and already harmed woman, and I would hope it extends to the hypocrisy and tepidity of the Bush Administration response rather than to the Democratic response.

Obviously there are no e-e-e-vil Commies anymore, as you say, and I am presuming that your irony indicates you would agree with me that there never really were evil Commies in the sense that drove hysterical reactionary Cold War politics -- but if you do, it shouldn't be difficult to grasp that so-called Islamofascists occupy an identical position in the dot-eyed lizard brained corporate-militarist hysterical reactionary politics with which we are presently coping.

I don't recommend entering into a war-footing with anybody in the world (favoring diplomacy, multilateralism, and networked planetary politics in general), however much we disagree with them... However, it really does seem to me we are calling "allies" some flabbergastingly unsavory regimes these days. We'll regret that when the blowback blows back later just like we always do, and rich people will profit from these mistakes both coming and going just like they always do. That joyless merry-go-round will continue to turn while bodies and deficits bloat to doomsday until we manage to make war profiteering (any profit at all from Defense spending) illegal.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Greg in Portland said...

This reminds me a lot of the right wing outrage over Chavez in Venezuela shutting down opposition radio stations. Sure, it's an authoritarian, undemocratic thing to do, but there's never a word of protest about our barbaric "allies" like the Saudis or Musharraf.

Anonymous said...

Are those the only options? Either smack our lips in eager complicity with tyranny and patriarchy or bomb bomb bomb in the name White Wartime Jesus' Democracy on the March?
Of course not! But what exactly are those other options? And why certain guy named Bill hadn't used them, having 8 years of time, all the power of the President and NO e-e-evil commies around? You know, Saudi Arabia haven't adopted Qur'an for Constitution yesterday.

What I'm trying to say, is that it's nice to talk about global p2p politics but is voting Democrat, censuring US senators, calling your representatives, etc. global? Or p2p? Or let's look at Digby's speech you linked to recently...

...snip...
We have opera-loving liberals from Georgia... Nascar-loving progressives from Chicago... and Grateful Dead-loving Democrats from... Florida. We are from everywhere, and our common tribal signifiers aren't social status or professional authority or region.
...snip...
All of us who blog in the progressive blogosphere, have a common goal. It's the same goal of virtually everyone in this room tonight. We want to begin a new era of progressive politics and take back America.

...snip...

This is a 24/7 worldwide political discussion and strategy session.


To me, an ethnic Russian living in EU, California to Florida doesn't look like "everywhere", "taking back America" sounds like colonialism ;) and while American blogosphere is in a sense "worldwide" (denying that would be self-contradictory, after all) it seems really very parochial to anyone not able to "call the representatives" etc.

To some people more prone to anti-American vitriol widespread in Russian-speaking net it all in fact looks conspiciously like fight for how to better exploit the rest of the world, how to reclaim privileges 90% of the world never had in the first place, and get more. (And I'm not sure I wouldn't share that point of view if I lived in Russia. Clinton's "help with the reforms" and yes, attack on certain Slavic nation did everything needed to discredit Democrats here back in 90's. Oh, of course, he was better than Bush. Big deal. My cat is better than Bush too, she only kills mice and steals meat. Also she is more intelligent and cute!)

So, to make that "worldwide p2p" truly worldwide we need diffrent political tools. Ones that work whether you are citizen of the US or not, probable ones completely orthogonal to representative democracy frameworks, because of their inherent parochiality. We need new education systems (ones already in place are obviously not efficient enough.) And, although you don't like the idea, compelling and specific vision is a must. People want hope. They need to see a new heaven and a new earth. And if we won't reveal ones somebody else would. Probably not of the brand you or I want to be part of.

BTW... Everybody knows that upcoming elections in Russia are sham. There's still propaganda campaigns of course and what's really interesting, - part of Putin's campaign is... Promotion of nanoSuperlativity. Yes, with robotic bodies for everyone and superabundance in 12 years, all on official Kremlin record. It is planned to steal, oops, of course I meant "embezz..." err... no "waste" Damn... What was that word? Ah, yes, spend about $1 bln/year on these projects. If it isn't proof of what you are saying here, I do not know what is.

Dale Carrico said...

What I'm trying to say, is that it's nice to talk about global p2p politics but is voting Democrat, censuring US senators, calling your representatives, etc. global? Or p2p?

Nope, but it's not chopped liver, either. p2p may well democratize the Democratic party to the good of Americans and others, but that's not the only good thing p2p can do. I'm excited about p2p on many levels.

To me, an ethnic Russian living in EU, California to Florida doesn't look like "everywhere", "taking back America" sounds like colonialism ;) and while American blogosphere is in a sense "worldwide" (denying that would be self-contradictory, after all) it seems really very parochial to anyone not able to "call the representatives" etc.

Your point is well taken, but not every parochialism is colonialism. Cosmopolitan politics is a binocular -- to oversimplify! -- vision, planetary (cosmos) and local (polis) at once.

I don't agree that progressives taking back America necessarily yields colonialism. That's too facile, surely? It seems to me most of the people who hate stupid ugly American exceptionalism are the same ones fighting to democratize the democratic party, too. But if I were you I'd be skeptical too. Hell, I'm skeptical.

And, although you don't like the idea, compelling and specific vision is a must. People want hope. They need to see a new heaven and a new earth. And if we won't reveal ones somebody else would.

I like specific visions with specific names on them. I offer specific visions with my name on them, for example. What I oppose are churches and professional revolutionaries. As for the new heaven and earth, I prefer John Lennon:

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...


What you say about Putin's Robot Cultism is very interesting and not something I know about. I will look into this, thank you!

Best to you, d

Anonymous said...

By "cdolonialism" in that passage I meant EU taking back the Americas :) Too bad Dutch probably have better claim to Tobago island. :)

As for Putin and Robot Cult... Well, Putin himself isn't probably that stupid. But there are bona fide cultists working in that program, including current President of Russian Academy of Sciences, mr. Kovalchuk. (BTW, charter of RAS had to be amended to allow him into position. He also has interesting family connections.)

I'll try to translate some excrepts from his speeches and interviews, or at least edit some auto-translations into readable form.

Greg in Portland said...

I have to admit that if all Putin is doing is funding nanotech research it's hard to find fault with that. Of course if he's telling people that in 12 years Russia will be a nanotopia then I can see the problem. We shouldn't use technohype to paper over social problems and Russia is a very inequitable society with huge problems that nanoSatan won't fix. That's been Dale's whole point on this blog and it's a valuable one. I too would enjoy reading more about Putin's nano plans. Something tells me Putin's propaganda initiative will be dumbed down and fed to America's trailer parks as a new distraction now that we seem to be getting bored with waiting for Jebus to come back.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that if all Putin is doing is funding nanotech research it's hard to find fault with that.
Undoubtedly. In fact it's a good thing, despite corruption. (and many things suggest that it was designed to facilliate one.)

Of course if he's telling people that in 12 years Russia will be a nanotopia then I can see the problem.

Well, look a this: http://www.kiae.ru/viz_putin2.html (Russian) Some key excrepts:

mr. Kovalchuk: Nanotechnologies are like atomic basis uniting all the other technologies. As a result they would change information technologie themselves. What areinformation technologies? It's biocomputing. We have an enzyme called rybosome (sic!), which prints out or genetic code for billions of years. Code is the best computer science. That means that nanotechnologies would change information technologie themselves.

If this doesn't make any sense, that's not because of my translator skills. It makes even less sense in Russian.


Kovalchuk: So, nanotechnologies are the first interindustrial priority, foundation for development of all the other branches of new postindustrial, science-intensive economy. When you're asembling something from atoms, who are you?
Chemist, geologist, biologist? You're naturalist again, like Newton was 300 years ago, but on the new level of progress. That's the logic.



...We are working with [separate] atoms, we see them, we can manipulate them. In fact knew about and we could see [separaate] atoms 100 years ago. But nowadays we can not just see and track them, we can manipulate them.

Putin: Yevgeny Pavlovich [Velikhov] says even smaller volumes are possible, up to 10e-13.
Kovalchuk: No, 10e-13 is a distant goal. What we need now are technologies and equipment for molecular assembly.

These aren't bad choices of the words either, in his less high-profile interviews Kovalchuk repeatedly and unequivocaly stated that nanoassemblers and "artifical humans" are "A-bomb of this project". To me it means that they are _the goals_, not _the hopes_. And yes, somebody told him that rybosomes aren't proteins after all.

Of course there are many geniunely useful and perfectly feasible projects in that program too, and Kovalchuk mentions them as well, but not quite that enthusiastically.

Anonymous said...

Oops, lot of spelling problems...
Some corrections:


mr. Kovalchuk: Nanotechnologies are like atomic basis uniting all the other technologies. As a result they would change information technologie themselves. What are information technologies? It's biocomputing. We have an enzyme called rybosome (sic!), which prints out our genetic code for billions of years. Code is the best computer science. That means that nanotechnologies would change information technologie themselves.



Kovalchuk: So, nanotechnologies are the first interindustrial priority, foundation for development of all the other branches of new postindustrial, science-intensive economy. When you're assembling something from atoms, who are you?
Chemist, geologist, biologist? You're naturalist again, like Newton was 300 years ago, but on the new level of progress. That's the logic.



...We are working with [separate] atoms, we see them, we can manipulate them. In fact we knew about and we could see [separate] atoms 100 years ago. But nowadays we can not just see and track them, we can manipulate them.

Putin: Yevgeny Pavlovich [Velikhov] says even smaller scales are possible now, up to 10e-13 mm.
Kovalchuk: No, 10e-13 is a distant goal. What we need now are technologies and equipment for molecular assembly.




Also, it should be noted that this text was universaly and deservingly lampooned by Russian scientific community. But what if Putin's appointee for this project was more glib-tongued and not a brother of an influental oligarch? I'm sure reaction would be quite different.

Greg in Portland said...

OK, the ribosome comment tells me you've got a guy with no basic foundation in biochemistry guiding this thing. Then again, Bush likes to do this too. Placing unqualified think tank cretins and old corporate cronies in high positions in government. The dude from Patrick Henry College (Christian madrassah for the politically ambitious) who got into the CDC comes to mind. Putin, indeed has always seemed to me like a smarter version of GW. That's why I think your nanotech program will ultimately make it over here though having read the stuff you translated I retract my comment about having to dumb it down. It's dumb enough for the trailer parks already.