Monday, December 29, 2008

Re: Gaza....

This is where I recuse myself from the conversation because the whole 'logic' of warfare is something that remains beyond my understanding. We are each morally responsible for our own actions. To hold individuals responsible for the acts of those around them flies in the face of the way I understand the world. People who launch expolsives in the direction of other humans are murderers. People who die in such attacks are innocent victims. Who's 'side' anyone represents is irrelevant to the discussion.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Re: The Auto Bailout

Am I the only one who sees something inherently wrong with attacking the pensions of people who are already retired? It's not like their in a position to address any sudden drops in income.

Monday, December 08, 2008

What Paul said at 23

Whenever I think about Rev. Wright, I remember that half of the stuff he says would be utterly uncontroversial except for a prevalent and totally unhealthy belief that the USA has some kind of inside track to Godliness. The Gospels themselves make clear that loyalty to God is an entirely separate matter from loyalty to any earthly political entities. Confusion on this point leads directly to the notion that the USA is incapable of immoral actions. The same people who end up attacking Wright's patriotism are the very one's who write off Abu Ghraib as no big deal

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I thought this was worth preseving

From Time:
The right answer here is not for the executive branch to have zero latitude in the highest stakes interrogations," Wittes said. "And you don't have to be Dick Cheney to believe that." In the past, members of the intelligence community have also argued for keeping some approved methods of interrogation classified, so as not to tip off enemies to what they might possibly face in the future.

From Me:

Again the biggest problem I have with this whole discussion is the concept of latitude. As soon as there's latitude then there's no longer a line preventing torture. I'm sympathetic to the notion that techniques might need to be classified, but as soon as you suggest that agents in the field should be free to apply their own judgment then all bets are off. Genuine, unambiguous torture will be soon to follow. Has everyone forgotten how much fun the soldiers at Abu Ghraib appeared to be having?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I find this remarkable

Obama's Favorability at 70%

So as the GOP licks its wounds and tries to piece together what went wrong it's instructive to realize that the hard-core who are unwilling to give Obama the benefit of the doubt only represent 25% of Americans. Next time to you think running a campaign based on hate, fear and lies is a good idea, you might want to think again!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Such a nice sentiment

That I had to link:

Because something I witnessed truly moved me –I watched McCain’s concession speech, and was saddened by the booing when he congratulated Obama, called him a good man, and looked forward to supporting him as our President. He more than once raised his hands in the attempt to rebuff those who jeered, but the months of maligning his opponent as a scary, un-American, possibly even terrorist bogeyman are not something that will be so easily switched off. That Frankenstein monster McCain’s campaign created has a way to go before it dons a tuxedo and top hat and puts on the Ritz. When I then watched Obama’s victory speech, I was moved by his praise for McCain, calling for unity, to be seen as a president for all the people, both on the right and the left… and by the crowd cheering in response to those words, many in tears of joy and gratitude. There was no sense of conquest over an enemy, no feeling of imminent retribution, no hatred, no vengeance. No booing.

The campaign of fear lost to the campaign of hope.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Re: McCains concession

McCains' experience on the lawn there was exactly a case of reaping what he sowed. He was exceedingly gracious and except for the fact that in my view he overemphasized the significance of Obama's race, he spoke very well with a message that his supporters needed to hear. Unfortunately the message he had was utterly foreign to his supporters and it showed loudly and clearly in the crowd's reaction.

I'm still convinced that if he had run half as honorable a campaign as he said he intended to and that his fans (Michael...) insisted against all evidence that he was doing, he could have won. Every drop in the polls that he experienced was directly related to some tactical move designed to appeal to the Hate-R-Us right at the expense of the "please don't raise my taxes" Center.

Even more important than my satisfaction of knowing that Barack Obama will be the next President, is my satisfaction of knowing that campaigning on the assupmtion that only 30% of Americans are real Americans and that patriotism is reserved for a small subset of our nation's citizens is an exercise in self destruction

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A commenter at Swampland

Said this about a pogniant Joe Klein post re: Obama's Grandmother

What a way to distract from the real issues at hand.

This is my response:

Interestingly enough, while there are many specific issues that need to be debated and that people can find themselves on several sides of, this campaign has unfortunately become a referendum on whether hatred and fear will continue to sell.
It actually touches on all the other important issues, because when we deal with terrorism and threats abroad, it will be important that we deal rationally and with the knowlege that we are dealing with fellow human beings and not demons, and as we tackle a sinking economy, it will be important that we realize that we are all in it together and that by sharing the burden and working together we can lift ourselves out of the difficulty, but if we insist that it's every man for himself, we're doomed to do more harm to everyone.

I have faith that most Americans realize this and that this will become evident as the day wears on.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Someone explain

Why this would end up in moderation!

I disagree strongly on one point. While Obama might be somewhat satisfied with the National Security team that's currently in place, he is certainly going to have to make an assertive move on arrival if for no other reason than to remove all doubt that HE'S in charge. The last thing we're going to need is for any second guessing along the chain of command, especially if some of his strategic decisions happen to be unpopular with the troops themselves

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In response to


Powell's finest moment was when he told Tom Brokaw that what really bothered him about the sinister rumors labeling Obama a secert Muslim wasn't that they were a lie; it was the suggestion that there was something un-American about being a Muslim.

There's a very good reason the Founders thought it necessary to include Freedom of Worship in the Bill of Rights. They knew first hand that religious conflict was among the most emotionally engaging variety and that a properly formed Government has no business inserting itself into it.

Almost everything in the Bill of Rights is there because the things it prohibits are exceedingly tempting. If coercive interrogation weren't a real temptation then there would be no need for a rule against self-incrimination. If intrusive searches weren't a real temptation, then there would be no need to spell out warrant requirements. And if there weren't a real temptation to impose a particular faith on people against their will, then there would have been no necessity to explicitly prohibit it.

It is therefore unsurprising that the battle to preserve our rights is ongoing. In that sense they are unnatural and require positive effort to keep them intact.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Re: EO Wilson

The subject of an EO Wilson article came up at Washington Monthly;

Here's what I had to say on the subject:

if we can hold both that morality is a human contrivance and that biology is not relevant to answering moral questions

I feel compeled to point out that biology is an inescapable part of moral reasoning. After all, how can we possibly speak of 'suffering' or 'pleasure' or otherwise describe the results of our choices except upon the substrate of bodies and minds that feel pain and hunger or triumph. We can certainly think of such things at a hiogher level of absraction but without biology, we would be nothing more than rocks.


Wilson, Dawkins and Dennett among others all struggle against the question, "Why in spite of all my efforts, do people insist on continuing to be religious?" They then go on to argue (convincingly in my view) that religious feeling is actually a selected adaptation that has among its effects, the potential to motivate people into fatal acts in defense of their tribe (and hence their fellow gene-carriers) What they fail to consider is that the resolute absence of religious feeling is an effect of precisely the same force.

Certainly a congregation of athiest is capable of creating the same sense of belonging and community that churchgoers enjoy and at its fringes is capable of fomenting actual hatred against those who insist on viewing the Universe differently.

I might say the above in the shorter form. "Even atheists are capable of religious intolerance."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Just a quick note

To say that I agree with this wholeheartedly.

Paying The Piper

The biggest problem with the widening gap between the wealthy and the middle class is that the reduced spending power of the middle class eventually results in reduced consumer spending that affects everyone.

Call it the Trickle-up theory.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Posted on a Joe Klein Thread:


Both your article and Michael Scherer's post-debate post seem to address the same point. Neither candidtae is willing to give the public any bad news about the limits of what the Government can do to help. This is the bad news.

The good news is that are able to reopen all the philosophical underpinnings that led in a straight line from Johnson to Reagan and allowed Americans to believe that corporations were somehow inherently superior to government agencies.

The basic assumption that has now been become frozen into the public consciousness is that because businesses are motivated by profit, that they are better than government at operating efficiently and NOT wasting money. This is true, as far as it goes, but the sad fact is that if the object of the game is to provide for the minimum basic needs of all Americans, the cheapest way is unquestionably unacceptable. It's taken almost 20 years for this realization to sink in.

The problem as I see it now however, is because these arguments are have all been internalized and simplified into slogans, we're no longer able to discuss them reasonably. All someone has to do is say "redistribution" or "socialist" and an otherwise open mind curls up into a tight little ball of Reaganomic true-belief.

I happen to be well aware of the limits of Government's ability to solve problems. I have sympathies toward Republican economic thinking. I'm a huge fan of balanced budgets and limited borrowing. But we have to be willing to take a systematic look at ALL our institutions and ask themselves "Are these designed in such away that blind self-interest nevertheless creates desirable results?"

The beauty of our Constitutional system is that it turns the self-interest of the Branches of government against each other in order to limit the excessive concentration of power. If only we were half as clever in designing our economic system.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A recent Palin quote:

"We see America as a force for good in this world. We see America as a force for exceptionalism..."

It's exceedingly interesting that A: she doesn't seem to have a clue about what "exceptionalism" means in that context and B: she seems to be promoting precisely the moral blindness that actually IS referred to by the word 'exceptionalism'

Whenever being "a force for good" is assumed by your identity rather than strived for by your ideals, then you are well on your way toward ceasing to be a force for good. This is the number one failure of the current Republican playbook. As soon as you are unable to evaluate your own actions or stated another way, as soon as the suggestion that your own actions might be wrong becomes taboo, then evil follows as assuredly as night follows day.

Even if they weren't taking the Obama quote out of context, the refusal to consider that we ourselves may doing harm is not only harmful, it's morally bankrupt.

Friday, October 03, 2008

More on Mediocracy


And they deserved it. They are the people, after all, who wrote garbage like that above for years and nursed the belief in the Republican base that the only thing required for world leadership is being as mediocre as possible. What did they expect?

Pulled Directly from AmericaBlog


Obama has noted this before, as has Jon Stewart - the fact that Republican politicians admire stupidity and ignorance. They wear their lack of education, their incompetence, their failure as a badge of honor. And it's certainly an American tradition, having disdain for intellectuals. But when push comes to shove, do you really want bubba, or bubba with lipstick, in charge of your 401k and your life savings? At some point America has got to get over its love affair with stupid. Or the mistakes of the last eight years, when we elected stupid to an art form, will continue to repeat themselves.

This is a theme that's been close to my heart ever since March. If you google the word 'elite' I'm sure you will find page after page extolling the virtues of mediocrity.

I find the whole thing - dare I say it - stupid!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Quoting from a Time article:


Some people want to say there's too little regulation. It's not that. It's just outdated, outmoded, ineffective. The architecture was put in place in a different era, and it hasn't kept pace with the evolving financial markets."

Consider that when we refer to "evolving financial markets" we're refering to moves made and instruments created that are specifically designed to skirt regulation.

One of the grossest oversimplifications that muddies our debate is to think of 'regulation' as a single activity and declare it either good or bad. Regulation can be good or bad and finacial deals can either be fair or larcenous. There is no single slogan or approach that magically makes everything fair and prosperous. And there's no such thing as a totally 'free' market.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

File under: The Stupid! It Burns!

It is now percolating up to the MSM that while Palin was mayor, she allowed her town to bill rape victims for their forsenic tests.

Amanda Carpenter of course rises to the occasion to note that Palin never supported such a thing.


This of course utterly fails to explain, if she didn't support it, why she allowed the practice to continue until it was made illegal by the State.

The most intriguing part is the TownHall comment thread. A series of people all pipe in to explain how her column does nothing to vindicate Palin while every fifth one or so chimes in to decry the HORRIBLE LIBERALS for trying to destroy the beloved candidtae.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

So much for deficit reduction

I don't know a lot about economics but I have a great deal of faith in the laws of thermodynamics.

If, at any time it appears that you are getting something for nothing, not only will it end up being payed for at the end but with the additional cost involved in maintaining the illusion.

The housing bubble is only the most glaring example, but certainly the federal deficit is another fine demonstration.

Friday, September 05, 2008


Apparently a photo of a North Hollywood Jr. High made its way into McCain's presentation on account of it's being named "Walter Reed"

Note to Google users. Avoid the "I feel Lucky" button when preparing for one of the most important nights of your life!

Monday, August 25, 2008

On Swampland

Somebody objected to the fact that prominent Democratic women were being introduced with their family size leading as in:

Grandmother of two to head United Way" or "Mother of three up and coming Democrat.....

I respond:

Perhaps to compensate, when introducing Republican noteworthies we should refer to them as "owner of seven houses including a 400 acre ranch" or "Owner of two residences both considered primary depending on whether we're discussing the father's Congressional district or the child's school district"...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Left on a Swampland thread:

After all the back and forth over what constitutes bigotry, I have to firmly second THIS sentiment:

I'm tired Sean. I'm tired of living in a country that hates intelligence. I'm tired of living in a country whose people DO NOT WANT TO ELECT A MAN OF INTELLECT, because apparently intelligence is equal to effeminacy. I'm tired of my and my family's future being tied to a populace who wants to elect a beer buddy.

This is the center of the problem. Not only is there an active effort to mock and ridicule people BECAUSE of their intelligence, but it's being joined by the press corps and media folks who themselves OUGHT TO BE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER!

There's been a shining beacon on mediocrity ever since Obama made a comment about bitter Pennsylvanians and it qualifies as a full-on fatal illness as far as our nation is concerned. Because its going to guarantee that we continue to deal with the challenges we face globally with proud ignorance.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

WaPo notices Randy Scheunemann but misses an important detail

While Aide Advised McCain, His Firm Lobbied For Georgia

You think that an article about Mr. Scheunemann's ties to the Georgian government might also merit a sentence or two of background mentioning his former ties to Ahmed Chalabi and his participation in pushing us into Iraq.

It would seem that committing US troops into the service of foreign interests seems to be Job 1 for him. Good thing he's nowhere near the White House.

Oh wait....

Monday, August 11, 2008

Just an observation re: Russia/Georgia

The central paradox to all this debate is the fact that military force is only capable of destroying stuff and it takes a different sort of activity to build stuff.

I know that war-cheerleaders may think of themselves as sculptors who are busy simply removing those parts that aren't supposed to be part of the finished product but in reality there are very strict limits on what can be accomplished with bombs alone.

This is why we need to make sure that we have ALL the tools at our disposal when we're dealing with crises. Confining yourself to the hammer, leads to less than optimum results.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

When is a terrorist not a terrorist.

Seemes like a nice time to point out the astounding difference in how terrorist suspects are treated depending on their ancestry.

If reports are to be believed, Bruce E. Ivins is responsible for a horrible terrorist attack on American soil. Why wasn't he in Gitmo? Why wasn't he waterboarded? Why wasn't he stripped naked and threatened with growling dogs? Why wasn't he placed in stress positioned and deprived of sleep until he confessed. If it's good enough for Afghani captives, why not Ft Detrick terrorists? At least in his case we had identifiable victims. What's the difference?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

An enlightening experiment:

Yields 1300 articles most of which detail various lies McCain has told about Obama.

on the other hand yields 1700 articles most of which detail various lies McCain has told about Obama.

I wonder if there's any conclusion we can draw?


Friday, August 01, 2008

Where are they now....

And now that Anthrax is in the news again it appears that the name Woolsey is getting mentioned a lot.

It would be interesting to see what a "where are they now?" article about the people who claimed that Iraq was responsible for the antrax attacks would look like.....

oh wait!

James Woolsey, former CIA boss and influential adviser to President George Bush, is a director of a US firm aiming to make millions of dollars from the 'war on terror', The Observer can reveal.


In 2001 US Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz sent Woolsey to Europe, where he argued the case for links existing between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. He was one of the main proponents of the theory that the anthrax letter attacks in America were supported by Iraq's former dictator

James Woolsey, who served as CIA director under President Clinton, is endorsing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president and will serve as national security and energy adviser, the campaign announced Monday.


“These individuals are recognized and respected for their seriousness and leadership on the important security issues confronting our nation,” McCain said. “I am honored to have their support, and I look forward to working with them to develop innovative policies that move America forward.”

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Race Card

Paul Dirks :
I'm going to repost something I put on another thread. Lets look at it again within the context of race.

Michelle Cottle of the New Republic noted, "Americans don't like Presidents who think they are better than the average guy."

Think about the above statement for a moment.

We are a nation of 301 Million People. We are hard at work selecting the ONE PERSON who will represent us all and be the voice of America and the Leader of the Free World and yet we're supposed to believe that this person should be no better than "the average guy"

I'm trying to come up with adjectives but I'm unable to get past 'pathetic' 'sick' or 'insane'.....

If we look at it within the context of racial attitudes, it starts to make more sense but still not enough.

Under what circumstance can we think that the President of The United Sates is too smart, or too successful or too classy? Only if he doesn't already have the proper family membership required to earn those attributes.

Why do we ignore McCains $500 dollor shoes?

Same reason. He has the right to wear expensive shoes by virtue of his birthright.

Even if race has nothing to do with it, there is obviously a priveleged class in America and anyone who deigns to exhibit it's attributes without earning it's membership gets the whole weight of the "Presumptious - Elitist - Celebrity - Rock Star" slur directed at him.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Regarding the 'Obama blew off the wounded troops' manure

This is certainly an interesting exercise because it highlights a complaint that many bloggers have had over the MSM for a long time.

Stories aren't balanced or fair if they are balancing a truth against a lie. Now that we have a nice clear example of a lie to work with we can see which outlets state it clearly.

So how many more times are the McCain campaign and the Republicans going to repeat what is a thoroughly baseless charge? (Karen Tumulty - Swampland)
Certain qualifies as a clear statement.

despite no evidence that the charge is true. (WaPo)
Is also reasonably clear.

Now that I've read the linked article further, I'm getting another picture. Not only are they lying but they're going to continue to do so:

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said again yesterday that the Republican's version of events is correct, and that Obama canceled the visit because he was not allowed to take reporters and cameras into the hospital.

"It is safe to say that, according to press reports, Barack Obama avoided, skipped, canceled the visit because of those reasons," he said. "We're not making a leap here.

Asked repeatedly for the "reports," Bounds provided three examples, none of which alleged that Obama had wanted to take members of the media to the hospital

So now we're getting to the meat of the problem. The McCain charge is a lie. Careful investigation has confirmed its a lie. And now they're sticking to their guns.

As I said above, this will provide a very nice test of the courage and integrity of the media outlets one by one.

Let's keep score, shall we?

Friday, July 25, 2008

using our enemy's standards

I've often noted that one of the reason's I beleive so strongly in Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press and the Right to Dissent, is that I was taught in school that those were the very things that made us great in comparison to the Soviet Union. It was standard issue, schoolroom indoctrination but it made a lot of sense and I took it seriously at the time.

Now since the collape of the Soviet Union, it seems that our own standards of conduct have taken a significant turn for the worse. How many times have we seen idiots defend the worst of our abuses by noting "Oh yeah, well at least we don't behead people and then post the video on the internet!"

Do people not realize that if we take on all the worst attributes of our enemies, then we know longer need the enemies, we can represent evil all by ourselves?

The shorthand term is 'American exceptionalism', but the amount of denial and self-inflicted blindness that it takes to maintin the illusion of our righteousness boggles the mind.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I respond to


You can almost hum a tune to the "on the one hand - on the other hand" construction of the story. I suppose that's to be expected however.

The best part:

Orwellian newspeak of the White House, "joint aspirational time horizons"
I'm almost willing to try and take credit for highlighting the absurdity of those word choices.

the worst part:

For McCain, the first priority remains a stable Iraqi nation state, and he is willing to risk ever more American blood and treasure over the coming years in that quest. For Obama, the first priority is an exit from the country, and he is willing to risk civil chaos in Iraq and a loss of American influence in the region.

Again that's an example of the conventional wisdom driving your writing but its basicly claptrap.

For McCain the first priority remains having a large strike force available in the region to be able to protect Oil assets and infrastructure from being utilized in ways unfavorable to US interests. (Note that I'm using the phrase 'US interests" in the standard Republican business friendly manner)
For Obama the first priority is to actually be able to claim that he acted against the real terrorists and was able to defang Al Qaeda as a danger to the US without having to enlarge the US Military sector further in order to accomplish it.

See how I can manage describing the same situation that you are without the "McCain's motives are noble and Obama's are risky" undercurrent that infuses the above sentence.

Think about it.....

Friday, July 18, 2008


"What is the meanIng of the word 'aspirational' and how does it differ from "in your DREAMS!"?"


New York Times

I get all Lakoffian....

the surge has improved security but has not led to the political reconciliation that was supposed to be its purpose.

Here's a perfect example of how the bumper-sticker mentality pollutes our political debates. The above sentence is perfectly accurate and is about as good as its going to get to succinctly explain where we stand in Iraq. But it's 19 words. Compare that to "The Surge is Working!" It's significantly less accurate but its not obviously wrong.

So in the contest to reach people and encourage support for one position or another we have 19 words competing against 4.

You might write off my concern as sour grapes until I restate the problem thusly:

In a democracy it's easier to gain approval for stupid actions than smart ones.

And it shows....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Flip Flop?
McCain, who lost most conservatives when he supported the president’s immigration reform proposals, confirmed that he did not support the DREAM Act, which was stopped in the Senate Wednesday by a vote of 52-44. The DREAM Act would provide amnesty to millions of illegal aliens who came to America when under the age of 16. It would also give green cards to illegal aliens residing in America for five years and attending college or performing military service,0,5118734.story

During a 15-minute Q&A after McCain's speech, a young woman asked if he would support the Dream Act, which gives illegal immigrant children a chance to earn citizenship by attending college or enlisting in the military.

"Yes. Yes," he replied, then added a sentiment that he incorporated into almost every answer: "I would also enforce existing laws of our country, and the nation's first requirement is the nation's security, and that's why you have to have our borders secured."

Those pesky innertubes strike again!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Must publicize:

But in light of the lastest conference call during which Randy Scheunemann accused Obama of desiring defeat in Iraq, I thought it might be useful to link to Scheunemann's vision of victory in those heady days right after the invasion.....

Well, I think there may be some unfortunately in the U.S. government that are looking at an Afghan model. They don't understand that Iraq is not Afghanistan. It's not a primitive tribal civilization. It's a highly educated, urbanized population, and as for Dr. Chalabi's activity, all I think that we should be seeking and striving for in Iraq is a level playing field. He does in fact have a vision for Iraq. He has expressed it many times including the United States in exile conferences and bridging the differences, and his group has exhaustive contacts inside Iraq. Many of the surrenders or captures of the officials including some who made the CENTCOM playing card deck, have been facilitated or negotiated by the INC under Chalabi's leadership

Saturday, July 12, 2008

If one reads the Federalist papers

One comes away with the knowlege that our system of Government was set up specifically to COUNTER the natural proclivity of humans left unchecked. The founders saw personal ambition and irrational fear as forces to be coralled and set against each other by the system of checks and balances.

It is unsurprising then that it is during times of stress that the Constitution and the Rule of Law are in the greatest danger.

Compounding the problem is what can only be referred to as Cheney's revenge for Nixon. Much of the what the administratrion has done has been specifically to undo the effects of the Church commission. The deliberate violation of FISA when the political capital was available to change it instead is a direct result of the Cheney/Addington project to resupremify the Presidency. Even the erasure of e-mails and the ignoring of subpeonas falls under the same effort.

Part of the problem with the FISA vote is that people just don't understand the stakes involved.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Blog comment of the day:

I know who and what Obama is. He's a mushy centrist and a reflexive compromiser who sometimes says utterly moronic things like this latest abortion spat. He's also not John McCain. That's enough for me.

Posted by FastEddie | July 7, 2008 9:20 PM

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Responding to a Michael Scherer Post

It is legitimate to look at how McCain's time in the military, and his service in Vietnam, informs his approach to foreign policy.


This seems to be the part that everyone is dancing around but few are willing to state.

John McCain's military biography will make him a WORSE President. Between suffering form the 'everything looks like a nail' syndrome that renders the military solution the first resort instead of the last, to the 'Vietnam was a failure of will' syndrome, which encourages people to subvert the Democratic process AND lie about facts on the ground, McCain's experience as well as his choice of diehard PNAC'ers as advisors suggests that his Presidency will incorporate all the worst aspects of GWB's.

It's worth discussing....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Education Education Education

Those pesky voters

While sitting back and watching the significant and approriate backlash against Obama, I'm struck by the fact that Obama probably knew quite well that this would happen but chose the path he did anyway. He's not stupid. He weighed out the costs vs the benefits and decided that screwing the netroots would be less costly than creating a vulnerabilty among low-attention TeeVee viewers.

He may or may not be correct in his assessment, but we'd be derelict in our own efforts if we don't come away with a serious lesson about the limits of our influence.

I think the ActBlue effort is important not only because I'm sure there will be a measurable dip in Obama's fundraising efforts but because our actual mission should be to reach the people who don't necessarily follow the issues closely and teach them why it matters.

It remains an important mission.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chris Dodd speaks

Glenn Comments

I opine:

He tied the core corruption of the FISA bill's telecom amnesty and warranltess eavesdropping provisions into the whole litany of the Bush administration's lawless and destructive behavior over the last seven years -- from torture and rendition to the abuse of secrecy instruments and Guantanamo mock trials -- with a focus on the way in which telecom amnesty further demolishes the rule of law among our political class.

To me this has always been the core issue. It is well known that David Addington and John Yoo authored a set of documents that basically rewrote the Constitution to conform to Richard Nixon's assertion to David Frost, "If the President does it then it's not illegal".

It is also well known that ever since entering office, Dick Cheney's primary mission has been to systematically dismantle every statute, argument and interpretation that in any way impinges on the President's ability to act as a law unto himself. The result is as predictable as sunrise and the list above, including the indefinite detentions of citizens, cruel and degrading treatment of POW's, extraordinary rendition of vocal opponents (from Canada) and, need I add, the destruction of public records, follows from this as surely as day follows night.

FISA is just one battleground, but the larger war is for the soul and conscience of America.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Left at The Obama Campaign Blog

I've been watching the comments over at Glen Greenwald's and remained quite alarmed at the number of people, many of whom I respect who are now on record that they can no longer support our Candidate.

I think Obama has seriously miscalculated the passion and reach of what the the MSM tries to write off as "those, like Senator Russ Feingold and assorted civil liberties activists" (Joe Klein) and also underestimated the fatigue Americans experience when exposed to 24/7-9/11 attack ads designed to gin up fear and nothing else.

Americans are notably brave and are looking for someone to actually FIGHT for what is right.

Obama has seriously let us down.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Matt Stoller solicited comments for Steny Hoyer

Open Left

Here's what I wrote:

While everyone may have varying opinions about what level of leeway the NSA should have in accessing raw telco data, the bottom line remains that the President can't and shouldn't have unlimited leeway in circumventing the law. By pressing for the current "compromise" you are giving the current President and all future Presidents the freedom to act contrary to any and all controls that were put in place by the Framers of our Constitution.
If the President is free to order violations of the law and his AG is free to shred whatever civil recourse the victims of those violations may have, then we might as well go ahead and declare the rest of the Constitution null and void as well.

I know it's hard to believe

But Joe Klein is once again, shockingly wrong about FISA.


My response:

Well at least if we're going to vehemently disagree, I finally have a coherent paragraph or two to disagree with.

Your bullet 4 is the one that is entirely wrong. The telecom immuninty is not a subsidiary issue. It is the sole issue.

Everyone agrees that the law needed to be updated in order to cover gaps in the existing law. However the correct procedure for updating a law is to bring a draft of the law you want to Congress and ask them to vote on it.

The last time I checked ordering companies to violate the law extensively and continuously for a period of years, and then only pushing for changes in statute when caught out by the NYT is doing things a$$-backward.

It is precisely when "everybody is freaking out" that constitutional protections become the most important because that is precisely when the temptations to sweep them under the rug is greatest.

I won't even begin to address why your "Roe vs Wade anaology" is flawed. We've already been down that road.

In short Joe, your efforts to be reasonable are putting you squarely on the wrong side of an important issue. And your wading into some sketchy truth-value waters in order to get there.

Friday, June 06, 2008

left on a Swampland thread....

You should familiarize yourself with the standard Time/Warner response to questions about FISA and telecom immunity. It goes like this:

I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right.....

But having said that, the current issue before the gallery isn't whether the telecoms should be allowed to skate. The current issue is how John McCain feels about David Addington's expansive interpretation of Article II allowing the President to break existing laws with impunity.

His current position appears to be I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right.....

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Phrase I'd like to see take off...


McCain performs a reverse-double-flip-flop with a twist and embraces BushCo's all-encompassing reinerpretation of article II to read "The President can do whatever he wants. That's why he's the President"

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mike Allan

And Glenn is all over a particularly blatant case of pathalogical denial from Mike Allen


ALLEN: And indeed, Scott does adopt the vocabulary, rhetoric of the left wing haters. Can you believe it in here he says the White House press corps was too deferential to the administration?

Wow - who'd a thunk?

I think that is rather important so I'm reposting my reaction there, over here:

Alternate reality
Apparently there are still journalists who inhabit a parallel Universe. That would be the one where vast stockpiles of WMD's were found and our soldiers were indeed greeted by a grateful populace as liberators and bringers of Democracy.

We've come full circle. In 2005 when "Feet To The Fire" came out the fact that the press had been disasterously wrong about what to expect in Iraq was sufficiently fresh, that there could indeed be a reevaluation of the press's role in leading us into war.

Feet To The Fire

But as of 2008, we've now 'been there-done that' and memories have faded enough that the original roles of cheerleaders and 'haters' can be reprised.

I think if someone's going to dredge up the phrase "left wing hater" and try to get any fresh mileage out of it, the suggested opposite should be "right-wing liar".

(Though the latest new from Dunkin' Donuts suggests that right-wing haters are alive and well)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hearts and Minds

re: Glenn on McCain

It seems that everybody remembers what happened in Vietnam, but no one remembers what the world looked like at the time. The US was locked in a seemingly mortal conflict with the forces of "Godless Communism" but because of the world-ending nature of Nuclear warfare, it was necessary that all our battles be fought in small containable proxy wars.

It was also true that score was kept over who was winning this global conflict by the number of "proxy states" that could be claimed by each side. One of the results of this though was that the competition for allies involved both the carrot and stick sides of the equation. The US and USSR competed heavily for allies by spreading aid around like candy (both in military hardware and food/economic aid.) In that context, it was important that we not be seen as irreparably evil. A decent respect to the opinions of mankind still matters and carpet bombing civilian popuations is not the best way to differentiate yourself from the evil commies.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

When I was an adolescent

and was working on developing my political and religious views one of the things I did was sit down and read the New Testatament confining my attention to the four Gospels figurung that they were the closest thing I could find to 'source' material.

What I saw astounded me. The amount of energy that is spent condemning hypocrisy and, more importantly, false piety based on strict adherence to doctrine rather than the common sense kindness to our fellow travelers is boggling especially when you consider how much the very attitudes that Jesus railed against have become reincorporated into our Religious institutions.

I give the Vatican credit for being more consistent about life issues than the Right here in America, but anyone who considers abortion a more grave evil than launching a war of aggresion has carefully avoided thinking about the nature of suffering.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

In response to:

CIA Foresaw Interrogation Issues
Agency Considered Investigations 'Virtually Inevitable'

If for the sake of argument, we ignore the morality or lack therof involved in waterboarding and get back to what is known.

The CIA was directed by people in the highest reaches of the executive branch to engage in behavior which they knew might result in prosecution. In order to protect themselves from that eventually they directed John Yoo to write a series of documents providing cover for their likely illegal acts. When Jack Goldsmith, (who by the way, is rather sympathetic to the idea of the CIA taking 'risks') reviewed the legal justifications authored by Yoo, he found them to be stretched beyond defensibilty and promptly withdrew them. Since that time a lot of effort has gone into A: legalizing the behavior that took place and B: hiding the decisionmaking process that led to the behavior.

So even if you think that waterboarding is the coolest thing since sliced bread, it still doesn't change the fact that the administration engaged in a conspiracy to violate existing law and in obstruction of justice behind a wall of 'national security' since those violations took place.

This is equally true in the case of FISA.

You don't have to think that the underlying behavior is necessarily bad to nevertheless acknowlege that it was against the law at the time it was done.

Call me a stickler but that doesn't strike me as a minor point.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Joe Klein linked to a speech by Joe Biden


So I left a reaction:

Ironically, even though I agree with almost every sentiment expressed in the speech, my concetration was distracted by seeing exactly where it could be attacked by hawks. (Maybe I'm picking up some of Joe's bad habits.)

The troublesome spots:
It starts with the very language the President has tried to impose: “the global war on terror.” That is simply wrong. Terrorism is a means, not an end, and very different groups and countries are using it toward very different goals. If we can’t even identify the enemy or describe the war we’re fighting, it’s difficult to see how we will win.

While I agree that the crucial falure of both BushCo and McCain is to be able to correctly identify our enemies, to flatly say that the phrase 'global war on terror' is wrong is to invite ridicule.

Right now, Iran loves the status quo, with 140,000 Americans troops bogged down and bleeding, caught in a cross fire of intra Shi’a rivalry and Sunni-Shi’a civil war.

Again, he's conveying an unpleasant truth but to refer to our troops as "bogged down and bleeding" is going to distract from his message by creating a negative soundbite.

Among the good spots:
Worse, saying you’re happy to stay in Iraq for one hundred years fuels exactly the kind of dangerous conspiracy theories about America’s intentions throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds that we should be working to dispel

Doesn't anyone else remember that we had permanent basing in Saudi Arabia and that that was the main casus belli cited for Al Qaeda's attacks on us? Clearly, one of the main reasons we attacked Iraq was so that we could have a place to set up permanent bases in the region. Why is this never discussed in these terms?

It’s amazing how little faith this administration has in the power of America’s ideas and ideals.

All these fronts throughout the Middle East and South Asia are connected. But this administration has wrongly conflated them under one label, and argued that success on one front ensures victory on the others. It has lumped together, as a single threat, extremist groups and states more at odds with each other than with us. It has picked the wrong fights at the wrong time, failing to finish a war of necessity in Afghanistan before starting a war of choice in Iraq.

Again, the mislabelling of our enemies is a constant strategy applied by the White House and there's every indication that Sen. McCain intends to continue the practice.

This is why every time he fails to differentiate Shia and Sunni or relies on the Commander of the wrong theater for advice, he should be called out on it strongly.

Our country can not afford 4 more years of willful ignorance.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Saint McCain clueless again.....

Army Times

Count me among those curious to see how long the myth that McCain has any credibility, let alone expertise on Military affairs and foreign policy (which in a sane world wouldn't be the same thing) when he consistently and repeatedly gets important or, dare I say it, vital details flat-out wrong.

My guess is at least another 8 months

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

McCain on his Sunni/Shiite 'confusion': Qaeda not just Sunni

Sen. John McCain, defending his recent troubles differentiating between the two major branches of Islam, suggested today that the terror network al-Qaeda encompasses both Sunni and Shi'a...

I'm posting this now, because I'm going to need to remeber it later.
McCain could have insisted that he had misspoken again but rather than continue down that path, he decided that lying was easier.

read more | digg story

War Games

I have frequently said that war is not a football game, but I can't help but notice that for a significant part of modern history, it has been treated as if it were. Certainly the concepts of a "Declaration of war" and "Terms of Surrender" indicate that there are rules that are abided by even when the game is mortal combat. By definition, terrorists don't abide by the rules. This is why BushCo went to such great lengths to coin and define the term "illegal combatant" to describe why the "normal" rules of war don't apply. Even if we're willing to concede that the existence of Al Qaeda and other groups and their resorting to random violence directed at civilians are reasonable justification to "change the rules" in order to accomodate a new reality, having changed the rules, we now have to live with the results.

One of the first casualties of this rule change is the concept of Victory. Every time we talk of "Winning or Losing" in Iraq or in the larger GWOT, we are still using the old 'football game" model of warfare. In a football game, there is an end state after which the game is over. If the Geneva conventions are to be regarded as "quaint" then certainly any talk of victory should be regarded as delusional.

The Administration (and McCain) can't have it both ways.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Still Can't identify the enemy

Estimates vary on what percentage AQI represents of the insurgent/sectarian/militia forces, but JH is right. AQI is a fraction of the insurgency, five percent at most, probably less. In the words of one analyst, it is a "microscopic terrorist organization."

Theres no way I can stress enough how important this is. We are being lied to yet again.

Never Underestimate the Power of Denial:

Quoting from GG:

They are desperate to wash their hands of that which they enabled so they can pretend they never did.

But the people who caused and enabled that to happen are -- understandably so -- desperate to avoid acknowledging what they've done

This new post accords well with my thoughts as I was driving to work this AM. As I mention in the linked post, agressive warfare (or any warfare for that matter) involves engaging in activities that if committed within society rather than beyond it, would be unthinkable crimes. The natural reaction to engaging in this sort of activity would be intense remorse. Therefore the exercises and rituals we go through alleviating our guilt take significant amounts of energy. The ceremonies we go through on Memorial Day taking special care to honor OUR losses and the special respect we accord veterans are examples of the sort of thing I'm referring to. Even here, many self-identified liberals and war opponents nevertheless go out of their way to make sure that we acknowlege the sacrifice of those who serve.

While there's nothing wrong with this, by itself, I have to note that it creates a severe amount of distortion in our thinking when it comes to determining the best course of action in Iraq. We can't erase what we've already done, but to leave would lock-in the immorality of our prior actions. As long as we stay, there is hope for redemption. It's sad to see happening but we can't underestimate the power of the force I'm describing.

Friday, April 04, 2008

left on a Joe Klein Thread at Swampland

Ramesh Ponnuru:

I assume that Klein will react calmly should conservatives wish to make the opposite argument, that conservatism is more patriotic than liberalism?

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is precisely why the framing matters.

Joe may brag that he's on the right side of the debate because the NRO is willing to claim a monopoly on patriotism but Joe is the one who handed him the knife.

Perhaps we should examine core assumptions. WHY do we even consider patriotism a virtue, let alone get into fights over who's entitled to it? When does patriotism cease being a virtue and instead becomes jingoism and exceptionalism and emotional cover for evil acts?

Who's willing to raise the question? And when someone does, why is there a concerted effort from EVERYONE to vilify that person and shout them down.

I'm still PO'ed about Natalie Maines and it's EXACTLY the same dynamic that's being appiled to Rev. Wright.

How DARE he suggest that we're not angelic!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Deifying the Military.

I'v been thinking about the self-priming nature of military involvment.

The simplest expression of it is "they shall not have died in vain" but the process is actually more complex than that.

The longer version is that because the act of becoming a soldier and engaging in warfare involves trading in the moral codes that guide people within their civilizations for a different set that allows for random killing and dehumanizing certain groups, a protective shell is set up to prevent the remorse that such behavior would normally elicit. The protective shell, of course includes all the pomp and circumstance that we use to honor the fallen and the increased stature (and trust) that we place in veterans but the same shell creates taboos that prevent us from discussing warfare rationally. It simply can't be done without someone invoking the spectre of "dishonering the troops"

The tragic result is of course that the possibility of reconsidering bad moves or disengaging from a conflict that has not been emphatically "won" becomes exceedingly difficult.

And as seen from the outside, the behavior that results seems quite insane

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Too good not to quote

President McCain, however, can be expected to blaze new trails of American hubris. He is a "national greatness conservative" which can be described as a lethal combination of neoconservatism and Kissingerian realism (in McCains case, with the temperament of Frank Sinatra on too much coffee and nicotine.)


Monday, March 24, 2008

Taking back Patriotism!

"Patriotism" is a word that has suffered severe abuse of late. While it used to mean love of one's country, it is rapidly being twisted to mean love of the military and blind acceptance of the staus quo.

I happen to consider myself patriotic. I love my Country deeply. I particularly love the fact that I am free to point out when I think my Country is acting in an immoral manner and needs to change course.

People who don't understand this and instead use "patriotism" as a code word to enforce conformity sadden me.

Sorry, that's just the way I feel.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

An Open Letter to Ana Marie Cox....

I appreciate your efforts and your honesty. Now here's my concern. It is well known that a major part of the sales effort behind the Iraq war involved repeatedly using Saddam Hussein and OBL's name (or Al Qaeda) in the same sentence so that the association was burned into the public awareness even though there were no statements you could point to where the connection was directly asserted and therefore could be pointed out as a lie.

You just used the phrase "He is for a muscular use of American power" which is sort of misleading because we all know that "muscular" in that context is a euphemism for "explosive".

So now we have the candidate repeatedly asserting that the Iranians are assisting Al Qaeda in Iraq knowing full well that A: Al Qaeda is just a brand name and the group in Iraq bears little connection to the terrorists who actually attacked us and B: They are NOT being aided by Iran.

Perhaps you can begin to appreciate my concern when the Candidate for CiC is using sloppy language in order to justify as you put it a "muscular" posture. We've already been down this road and the consensus opinion is that it sucks.

My other concern is that for McCain's sloppy language and deliberate conflation of different enemies to succeed, it is necessary that the public continue to be misled. This is where you come in. JK has already gone on record noting that McCain is being dishonest but the coverage surrounding the candidtae continues to be complicit in the effort to mislead.

Did I mention that Scherer just fell for the oldest trick in the book by diseminating a damaging video link accompanied by the public apology for the link.

The public needs to know the truth of what's happening in Iraq and you guys need to stop helping the candidates lie about it.

And I mean that in the nicest way possible.....

Ahh... the core assumption.

The U.S. should not -- and has no right to -- invade, bomb and occupy

Mine appears to be a minority position but I have never been able to figure out why the moral calculus that regards murder as a capital offense suddenly changes if the victim isn't a US citizen.

Even conceding that the world doesn't make sense on that basis, there's still a very carefully thought out doctrine (ratified by the USA after WWII) which states that war is only justified in self defense and that agressively attacking a country that isn't directly threatening you is criminal. (In the case of Nuremburg, it too was regarded as a Capital crime.)

So what has changed? Why does every moral calculation one could bring to bear on the subject suddeny become irrelevant when the actor in question is the US military?

What distresses me even more is the degree to which even asking such questions is treated as a taboo. The energy that has gone into the denunciation of anyone willing to ask those questions as "America haters" is directly proportional to the degree to which there are no good answers. While the cone of acceptability is shifting ever so slightly, I couldn't help but notice that Obama felt it necessary to make sure that he understands that ourt enemy is "Islamic extremism" as if that phrase actually means anything.

If Freedom is to mean anything at all, it has to mean the Freedom to question whether we are in fact wearing the white hats.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Among things I find infuriating....

Instead of providing liability protection to companies that did their patriotic duty, House leaders would establish a commission to examine intelligence activities in the past that helped protect the country from further attacks after 9/11.

The damage thats being done to the concept of patriotism by this gross misuse of the term hurts me deeply.

I was totally unaware that my Patriotic duty included violating the law, trampling the Bill of Rights and underrmining the Constitutional separation of powers necessary to preserve Freedom.

But if Dana Perino said so, I guess it must be true!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Re: Obama

In response to: The Post-Fairytale Fairytale

When I compare my own attitudes to those of the archtypical "average American" I'm tempted to just throw up my hands and hang it up.

But for whatever reason, I'm finding that I'm actually enthusiastic about "the least of three evils." Perhaps I'm just hopeful over what the success of Obama's message would say about that archtypical "average American" mentioned above.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Re: Misplaced trust

I think one of the fundemental problems is people have this odd belief that physical authority somehow imparts moral authority.

While the requirements to become a policeman (for instance) include a modicum of intelligence and the lack of a criminal past, they obviously aren't insurmountable.

Likewise, the NSA and our intelligence agencies are staffed with people who A: like the idea of being spies and B: have passed whatever requirments are set up. But they're only people. There is nothing in particular that prevents them from being bored, superstitious, excessively curious or just plain stupid. And human nature itself suggests that the less supervision or accountability there is, the more likely for abuse to turn up.

The amount of covering up already going on suggests that bad behavior has already taken place but the sad fact is that if what's already taken place doesn't come to light, then the activity that eventually WILL cause the house of cards to tumble will probably be something more appalling than I have the imagination to even consider

Friday, February 29, 2008

Posted at the website:

The activists want to undermine the legitimate surveillance of foreign communications through litigation

You not only have no basis for that statement, but it borders on slanderous. All the "activists" that I am familiar with are motivated by the desire that the traditional rule of law extend to the executive branch and that any needed modifications to the FISA law are provided for by the normal political process that the Constitution requires.

The Bush administration's brazen desregard for not only the FISA law but also the Presidential Records Act and his declared intention to ignore any other portion of any statute which purports to regulate his own behavior or freedom to act, is more than adequate motivation for anyone who cares to see that the Constitutional balance of power is maintained.

The accusation that the EFF is motivated by either financial reward or the desire to inhibit intelligence collection is not only dishonest, but it undermines any legitimate arguments you would care to advance in defense of the current NSA program or the President's conduct.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Re: John McCain and Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia

The NYT included this paragraph in their story:

An insurgent group operating in Iraq, called Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, is actually a homegrown Sunni Arab extremist group that American intelligence agencies have concluded is foreign led. The extent of its links to Osama bin Laden’s network is not clear. Some leaders of the group have sworn allegiance to Mr. bin Laden, but the precise links and extent of affiliation are unknown, and it was created after the American invasion.

Now if only we could get them to lead with THAT paragraph the next one would write itself as in "John McCain used potential supporter's ignorance over this basic fact in order to level a baseless charge against Barack Obama, thus opening himself to charges of stupidity or dishonesty or both."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

There is some difference

In response to:

Glenn Greenwald

Let me preface by stating that contrary to being naive, stating that he'd be willing to go after OBL in Pakistan and then experiencing the backlash was precisely what drew me to Obama's campaign.

Quoting something I posted elsewhere:

Hunting OBL in Pakistan" was Obama "Emperor's New Clothes" moment. He actually had the audacity to state the obvious and the shocked gasps of the King's court are still resonating....

I think the only thing he might be criticized for is staing bluntly what's been happening quietly.

Having said that though, I will note that much of what Obama is being criticized for isn't that he'd express willingness to go after OBL, it's that he's willing to bypass one of our favored dictators in order to do so.

When McCain spouts off one-liners about bombing Iran or Syria. at least he's referring to nations that are presumtive enemies (at least among the Republican base).

Pakistan (like Saudi Arabia) on the other hand has a purported "ally" in power and is hence off limits. That this is precisely why Al Qeada considers those countries safe haven is not only lost in the debate, it is absolutely taboo to discuss.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

At this point I'm ready to promote this as Dirks' addendum to Occam's razor.

"If there are two competing explanations for an event and one calls for someone being surprisingly brilliant and the other calls for them to be incredibly stupid - stupidity wins every time."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Always nice to make the main page

UPDATE: Commenter Paul Dirks wants to know:

So are the Union officials responding to their membership or attempting to guide them? I'd be interested in how the people who WEREN'T undecided fell

Sometimes the jokes just write themselves

went out to microphones set up on the Capitol steps, and accused the Democrats of a political stunt.


Monday, February 11, 2008

If this quote is accurate

Clinton dismisses weekend losses

Clinton argued that caucuses are "primarily dominated by activists" and that "they don't represent the electorate, we know that."
then shame on Hillary.....


Someone who cares sufficently about the issues to actually participate in the political process in a meaningful manner.


The Electorate:

Someone who only shows up at the polls on election day and pulls the lever for whoever makes them feel better based on what Wolf Blitzer told them the other night.

How the hell did we ever allow "activist" to become an epithet.

And shame on Hillary for using the term in that manner. Lets see how well she'll fare without her own set of "activists"

Friday, February 08, 2008

Be vewy vewy afwaid......

I'm not sure who's more paranoid. The people who feel the desire to join or the one's who get creeped out by the organization's existence.

It does seem like a bedwetter's dream come true!

I'm reminded of the Jr Detective cards you used to be able to send in for from the back of cereal boxes. Only instead of decoder ring, you get access to an FBI maintained VPN. How cool is that?!!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Reacting to Romney's concession...

I disagree with Senator McCain on a number of issues, as you know. But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq, on finding and executing Osama bin Laden, and on eliminating Al Qaeda and terror


Al Qaeda in Iraq didn't exist before the invasion.

And Al Qaeda in Pakistan appears to have agreed to a cease-fire with the government of President Pervez Musharraf.

And Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell is doing his best to make sure that we're experiencing terror.

I guess the Republicans are running on a platform of "change" after all!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Re: Signing statements

I can't speak for anyone but myself, but to me, the fact that Bush is derailing the Constitutional checks and balances that were put in place to prevent executive abuse and overreach is worse and more alarming than most of the particulars of his particular abuses.

And to make matters worse, much of it appears to be due to simple laziness. In particular, when it became clear that the Poindexter-led TIPS program wasn't going to pass muster, he simply ordered it in place anyway. That this has evolved into the current FISA controversy is unfortunate, but the sad fact is, that if he had pushed for the reforms contained in the August bill back when he needed them, retroactive immunity wouldn't even be necessary let alone a deal-breaker.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Can we please acknowlege that the "Surge"(tm) was a marketing ploy aimed at placating Americans into accepting permanent bases in Iraq and as such, it has worked like magic.

The President has just released a signing statement asserting the power to ignore even "the power of the purse" the Constitution grants to Congress and is systematically dismantling the Constitution in order to expand our Imperial presence in the Middle East. In the meantime the two leading Republican candidates are busy spinning whether or not they are both fully on board with the notion that Iraq is ours to permanently control.

It's nice that journalists experiencing a new willingness to call out lies when they see them, but they seem to be complicit in totally ignoring how far the baseline of our debates have moved into territory that would have been unthinkable just ten years ago.

Re: Mukasey's radical views of Presidential supremacy.

The only comfort I get from any of this mess is from the vision of the founders of this Country pointing at our current situation and intoning "I told you so!"

If it weren't inherent in the nature of certain personality types to seize power at every opportunity and if it weren't inherent in other types to reflexively avoid conflict, then there would have been no need to create three branches of government to be set against each other and there would have been no need to create a bill of rights to guarantee freedom for minority viewpoints in the face of a potentially tyranical majority.

The founders thought hard, and debated carefully about how best to counter the natural tendency toward despotism that they saw around them.

It's a shame that it took only 230 years for the whole thing to come crashing down, but its unfortunately not all that surprising.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A quick Juxtaposition.....

From NRO:

But when the aroma of torts is in the air, Democrats find it difficult to resist their trial-lawyer constituency, who do so much to keep Democratic campaign coffers full.

Fromn EFF:

EFF is a donor-funded nonprofit and depends on your support to continue successfully defending your digital rights. Litigation is particularly expensive; because two-thirds of our budget comes from individual donors, every contribution is critical to helping EFF fight —and win—more cases.

Oh how I wish those A-holes would STOP LYING!!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The National association of Manufacturers asks:

Are the 13 Senators also malign and corrupt?


This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

The administration had plenty of opportunity to taylor the FISA law to their liking when they still had a Republican majority in both houses. Why they didn't bother to do so remains mysterious. But this of course means that everything that they are saying now about how vital the latest modifications are is in fact a self serving lie.

Nothing in the current bill was unobtainable in any earlier legislative process EXCEPT retroactive immunity.

One needn't be overly suspicious or anything but rational to conclude that the scope of the NSA program has far exceeded anything that the public has been allowed to believe to date and that the members of the Senate intelligence committee (from both parties), having had the opportunity to object to the program well before today, are now complicit in trying to prevent the release of any further information on the subject.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Speaking of context-free is there any term that is more rapidly losing any meaning whatsoever than "change"?

Among the points being lost in the shuffle is the degree to which the Bush era represents not just change, but a wholesale dismantling of our entire system of government. Hiding behind petty squabbles about Harriet Meirs' subpoenas or telecom immunity is the whole notion that the Presidency is a government unto itself and is answerable to no one.

The fact that this not only isn't routinely discussed but is politely but relentlessly ignored (the elephant in the room if you will) is a symptom of a severe illness which the current election cycle is guaranteed NOT to address.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Re: FISA and the Senate

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that what's motivating Reid and Rockefeller is a simple desire for this whole issue to go away. As was mentioned upthread, they were probably briefed on the NSA program early in its run and didn't object when they had the chance. Now it would seem that EFF vs ATT is in a position to uncover the whole termite nest and they'd rather that didn't happen.

The confidence they feel over the prospect of a Dem ending up in the White House is probably firming up their resolve even more. After all, if the big prize is theirs anyway, why risk any more chips?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Core assumptions and fun-house mirrors

I decided yesterday that a large of what's wrong with our country now is attributable to attitudes that have their origins in WWII.

The US participated to prevent Germany and Japan from overrunning everything and "Taking over the world". Germany, in particular had launched an offensive campaign and appeared able to pull it off.

By opposing them, we were clearly on the side of good. Our victory on the other hand, instead of cementing the notion that no one nation "owns the world" somehow gave rise to the idea that having defeated the axis powers, we had inherited the right to control the world having taken it away from the axis powers. The fact that that there were two nations in that position made it even worse because any abuse of the notion of self-determination could be justified by the fact that if we didn't do it the Communists would.

When the USSR came tumbling down, so did all the justification we might have had for continuing our stance.

This explains handily why RWA's in this country invoke the "Coming Islamic World Caliphate" and other such nonsense. They still need someone who wants to "take over the world" because otherwise we have no moral right to interfere with self-determination ANYWHERE.

This remains the elephant in the room however, which Glenn so clearly describes in the article. Discussing whether or not our troops have the right to be someplace in particular is absolutely taboo.

Of course they do. Isn't contrrol of the world what we won in WWII?

Re: Bill Clinton vs Obama

It's actually fascinating.

His defense of the accusation of represnting the SOS was "well it was new at the time!"

Which happens to be absolutely correct. The sad fact remains that the world and particularly the USA has changed a lot in the interim since Bill left office. And there's a lot of damage to ameliorate before we can even get to the point of "more of the same"

On the particular issues of civil liberties and backing off on our fantasies of world domination though, even more of the Clinton era style of governance is inadequate.

We really DO need to change course here!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Left On Swampland

I always like it when my first reaction shows up in another's comment.

I think it is pretty simple minded to put every quotation of King or the civil rights movement as a discussion of race per se...

To invoke Dr. King is to push for social justice by staking the moral high ground. Dr. King's insistence on non-violence and his ability to appeal to conscience were important elements of his success.

In a day and age when we are abandoning the moral high ground at an alaming pace, Obama's call is refreshing and extrordinarily pertinent. And it has very little to do with "race".

Friday, January 18, 2008

Feingold on Edwards:

Edwards, who voted for the Patriot Act, campaigns against it. Voted for No Child Left Behind, campaigns against it. Voted for the China trade deal, campaigns against it

Sounds astonishingly like Obama on Clinton:

She says, 'I voted for it but I was glad to see that it didn't pass.' What does that mean?" he asked, again drawing laughter from the crowd and himself. "No seriously, what does that mean? If you didn't want to see it passed, then you can vote against it! People don't say what they mean.

Meanwhile Obama says:

Thankfully, the most recent effort to pass this legislation at the end of the legislative year failed. I unequivocally oppose this grant of immunity and support the filibuster of it. I have cosponsored Senator Dodd's proposal that would remove it from the current FISA bill and continue to follow this debate closely. In order to prevail, the proponents of retroactive immunity still have to convince 60 or more senators to vote to end a filibuster of this bill. I will not be one of them.

So his promise to "not be one of them" simply means that when the bill comes up, he will continue to campaign wherever he happens to be and won't come to Washington to vote one way or the other.

Does anyone else see a pattern?

Full text from the Obama campaign re:Telecom Immunity

Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting me about the proposed legislation to give phone companies legal immunity for past wiretapping. I share both your strong opposition to this special interest provision and your frustration that the President and his supporters in Congress continue to push it. This fight is just one more example of why things in Washington must change.

I have consistently opposed this Administration's efforts to use debates about our national security to expand its own power, whether that was in regard to the conduct of the Iraq war or its restrictions on our civil liberties through domestic surveillance programs or suspension of habeas corpus. It is time to restore oversight and accountability in the FISA program, and rejecting this unprecedented grant of retroactive immunity is a good place to start.

Giving retroactive immunity to telecom companies is simply wrong.
Thankfully, the most recent effort to pass this legislation at the end of the legislative year failed. I unequivocally oppose this grant of immunity and support the filibuster of it. I have cosponsored Senator Dodd's proposal that would remove it from the current FISA bill and continue to follow this debate closely. In order to prevail, the proponents of retroactive immunity still have to convince 60 or more senators to vote to end a filibuster of this bill. I will not be one of them.

This Administration has put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. When I am president, there will be no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens; no more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime; no more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war.
Our Constitution works, and so does the FISA court. By working with Congress and respecting our courts, I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.

Thank you again for contacting me. I look forward to continuing to wage this fight.


Barack Obama

Paid for by Obama for America

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Let me join in the chorus

asserting that New hampshire voters were sending a clear message to the media talking heads. STFU about the tears already!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

C/P from one of my GG comments

Independent of another commenters word choice, there is nevertheless a demented view that might be worth discussing.

It's called American exceptionalism, and it refers to the act of shifting moral judgements based on the identity of the actors. One needn't be "demented" in order to perceive that from the Iraqi point of view, American soldiers are unwelcome and dangerous. One needn't be demented in order to note that the rules that were written in the aftermath of WWII and which form the basis for the existence of the UN (written in large part by the US) outlaws wars of aggression and that in the absense of a direct threat from Iraq, the US is in violation of the same rules it authored.

What is demented is the idea, that torture and sexual abuse are acceptable or forgivable if carried out by "Americans" against "terrorists" if only because a terrorist once made a video of a beheading.

Once you take off the blinders that make everthing we do automatically OK, you will suddenly see that we have a lot to answer for, and calling blog commenters names isn't going to make that culpability go away.