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.