I leave you with this.
Famous physicist, Stephen Hawking, posed a question on Yahoo! answers this year.
"How can the human race survive the next hundred years?"
Surely the future of the planet, and of humanity, is the question of the day and makes any and all other issues seem trivial. Hold on tight.
Thanks for reading.
"Look at the facts. The federal poverty guidelines say that a family of three is considered to be below the poverty line when it earns $16,600 or less. The Democratic Party is proposing passing legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $7.25--and take two years to get there. That hike would bring a person working full-time to a grand total of about $15,000. "
“Unfortunately, the Iraq Study Group report does too little to change the flawed mind-set that led to the misguided war in Iraq. Maybe there are still people in Washington who need a study group to tell them that the policy in Iraq isn’t working, but the American people are way ahead of this report.
While the report has regenerated a few good ideas, it doesn’t adequately put Iraq in the context of a broader national security strategy. We need an Iraq policy that is guided by our top national security priority – defeating the terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11 and its allies. We can’t continue to just look at Iraq in isolation. Unless we set a serious timetable for redeploying our troops from Iraq, we will be unable to effectively address these global threats. In the end, this report is a regrettable example of ‘official Washington’ missing the point.”
It appears the debate may have reached Washington, as Katrina vanden Heuvel reports in The Nation.
"There are detailed withdrawal plans available for consideration. Each one provides a framework for finding a way out of this disaster that has disintegrated into a humanitarian catastrophe. The Congressional Progressive Caucus – the largest caucus in Congress – met last week with George McGovern, co-author of the 142-page Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now. Written with former history professor and State Department Middle East expert, William R. Polk, the book calls for a withdrawal to be completed over approximately seven months with a subsequent massive reconstruction effort led by Iraqis and largely funded by the United States (at a far cheaper cost than maintaining the occupation). "
The rundown: Since losing the 2000 race for the Republican nomination, in what many view as a bitter and dirty campaign, Arizona Senator John McCain has risen in the ranks to become one of the most powerful members of Congress. He is known in Washington and the media for being a strong conservative who is nonetheless willing to compromise with the other party. Along with Russ Feingold, he introduced campaign finance reform legislation, angering some conservatives. He was also part of the "Gang of 14," a group of 7 Democratic and 7 Republican senators who struck a deal on the filibustering of Bush appointees. Hawkish on Iraq and the war on terror, he has been critical of the administration's handling of the invasion but believes more troops are currently needed to stabilize Baghdad. On social issues such as abortion, McCain is solidly conservative.
Chances with Republican voters: 8/10. Two years ago, McCain's chances to win over the religious base of the Republican electorate appeared slim. In 2000, McCain delivered a blistering speech in which he famously called Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance" who distorted his record because he didn't "pander to them." Though this won him respect among moderates who wouldn't otherwise support him but were uncomfortable with Falwell and Robertson's brand of faith, the Senator has since reconciled with Falwell. He has also been emphasizing his pro-life, pro-family credentials. While there are undoubtedly Republicans who find McCain too much of a rogue and too critical of the GOP to support him, he appears at this point to be the frontrunner for the nomination.
Chances with the general electorate: 7/10. McCain consistantly does well in hypothetical horse race polls, especially when all voters are surveyed. In the post 9/11 world, he is viewed as serious about terrorism and strong on defense. And while many of his colleagues have been hurt by their support for the increasingly unpopular Iraq war, McCain has managed to maintain an image of both skepticism and strength. Voters appreciate his criticism of the handling of the war and it appears they are weighing this more heavily than his continued calls for more troops. It's possible, though, that the Senator's hawkishness may come back to haunt him, especially if the Baker commission's much anticipated report finds that a withdrawal is the best policy. The 2006 midterms hurt McCain's chances as a down-the-line conservative, as that election seemed to be a victory for moderation and restraint. Nonetheless, after 8 years of the Bush administration, many voters will support the man who is seen as honest and competent, traits McCain has worked hard to portray.
Would I support him?: Very Unlikely. In my mind, the most attractive thing about John McCain was his willingness to say exactly what was on his mind (remember the "straight-talk express?") despite the political unpopularity of it. As a Republican, lambasting the powerful religious right was a move of great bravery. He was right and I believe he still knows that he was. In his quest to win support for the 2008 primaries, he has run to the right, embracing all that he was once skeptical of. Furthermore, I believe the media depiction of McCain as an independent-minded conservative is lazy and misleading journalism. Saying that more troops should have been sent into Iraq from the beginning is by no means outside the establishment; it's popular opinion. If nothing else, McCain would probably run a much more competent administration than his predecessor. But he can no longer guarantee that it would be an honest one.
I suppose we should make a list of Iraq proposals.
Kolb's proposal for CAP.
McGovern's withdrawal proposal from Harpers.
Biden's proposal of shared power. (Washington Post op-ed; text of speech in front of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.)
The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) wants more troops. (One of the latest Weekly Standard articles expressing just that can be viewed by clicking here.)
John McCain supports plans to raise troop levels and prepare to stay for many years.
Feingold tried to propose a withdrawal by the end of this year--which of course was rebuked by Congress. I imagine we will be hearing more from him now that he is in the majority party.
UPDATE: Here is Tom Hayden's story about the US exploring a ceasefire by negotiating with insurgency leaders. And while it is not exactly a plan, the declassified portions of the National Intelligence Estimate are also interesting to read.
If anyone sees any other proposals let me know, and I will keep adding them.
"On Election Day, ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage passed overwhelmingly in all six states where the activist group ACORN and the labor movement made them a priority. These included the bellwether states of Missouri, Montana, and Ohio, where the wage initiatives contributed to a surge in turnout and helped progressive Democrats win narrow Senate victories. Since only about 7 percent of workers are helped directly by a higher minimum wage, the vote was widely seen as a symbolic expression of distress by the broad, working middle class seeking a change in economic priorities.
The group Trade Watch reported that nearly every Democrat who picked off a Republican-held seat campaigned as a critic of trade deals like NAFTA that are less about exporting goods and more about making it easier for American business to export jobs
As for Time Magazine's umpteenth story on a new centrism, a few newly elected Democrats are indeed more centrist on divisive social issues -- but all ran as economic populists. And the cure for economic insecurity is not in a new center, but in a progressive politics far more robust than we've seen in decades -- one that challenges the bipartisan corporate dominance of key economic questions, including the rules of trade."
Competing wings of The Democratic Party are battling over what this election means.
(Image credits: progressivedemocrats.org, dlc.org, bluedog.org)
When the GOP fell victim to the Great Blue Wave of 2006, some liberals seemed convinced that now that the Democrats had won big, the struggle for power was decided, at least until the 08 election comes closer.
The 2006 midterm has greatly changed where American power is held in Washington. And Democrats, organizations and individuals alike, know that there prominence will largely be decided on how the spin they results of this election to show a mandate for what they believe in -- be it economic populism, centrist policies, leaving Iraq or ending corruption.
Some say this election was a clear victory for conservative Democrats, such as the Blue Dogs, and New Democrats; others say it was the a victory for the more liberal wing of the party, such as the Progressive Democrats of America, the Netroots and Moveon.org.
While it is a bit of an oversimplification, there has been two main narratives to speak of in regards to this issue.
Advocates of this position point to the fact that many of the new Democrats headed to Congress are not very left-wing.
This was especially notable in the Senate.
Some examples: Harold Ford a pro-life, immigration hard-liner, conservative Democrat nearly wins a seat in the South. Bob Casey, a social conservative, beats Santorum for a victory in Pennsylvania; Jim Webb, a former Republican who worked for Reagan, beat George Allen in Virginia; and the crew-cut sporting Tester, won by representing the image of a conservative populist that likes to be photographed in a tractor.
Al From*, founder of the DLC, wrote: "But give Democrats credit. Apart from a foolish summer fling with Ned Lamont and a late Laugh-In cameo from John Kerry, Democrats did just about everything right and ran their best campaign in a decade. Field marshals Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer ignored the virtual industry of self-help nonsense that has paralyzed Democrats' chattering classes and went back to a simple, proven formula: From the suburbs to the heartland, elections are won in the center."
The Bull Moose blog, also an advocate for the conservative DLC, said the victory was as much a condemnation of the left as it was the right:
"The Moose celebrates the rise of the middle.
Across the board, the election has been correctly interpreted as the revenge of the center. The immoderate moderates smote the elephants because they have displayed incompetent incompetence and acted as dividers and not uniters. After the red-state blue-state divide, this year the voters were in a furious state.
Both parties are on probation with the electorate."
*(The DLC is notoriously pro-war, which may be why he called the election a victory of the "Vital Center" and not a public vote against staying in Iraq. In fact, he didn't mention Iraq as a factor in the election, which is as curious as it is ridiculous. One of the co-founders of the DLC, Will Marshall, was one of many co-signers of the now infamous PNAC letters urging unilateral policies, using the military to further US hegemony and preemptive war.)
Those who argue that this is a victory for progressives aren't buying the above claims.
Nick Burt and Joel Bleifus of In These Times, counter: "Don’t buy all the crap coming from GOP talking-point memos or the blather from mainstream pundits. The midterm elections do not signal a move to the center. Yes, a few conservative Democrats were elected, but the big gainers were progressives. In particular, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is on the rise."
John Nichols of The Nation made a similar point: "The largest ideological caucus in the new House Democratic majority will be the Congressional Progressive Caucus, with a membership that includes New York's Charles Rangel, Michigan's John Conyers, Massachusetts' Barney Frank and at least half the incoming chairs of House standing committees. "
And what may be more persuasive is the fact that conservatives are leaning on the idea that the public wants conservative Democrats to protect us from the crazy lefties. Fox News has been singing that tune since the election. And Newt Gingrich suggests in The Wall Street Journal, that conditions in Congress are such that Bush needn't even negotiate with Pelosi, Obama, and other more liberal Democrats, but instead only engage with bipartisan talks with the Blue Dogs.
He writes: "A conservative populist grassroots strategy would almost certainly make daily interactions with liberal leaders more confrontational as they found themselves nominally chairing committees but losing votes on the floor and having their initiatives rejected by a conservative grassroots coalition. With a conservative populist grassroots strategy it is the 44 Blue Dog Democrats who would find themselves cross-pressured."
My humble take on this election is that this is a victory for moderation, but not for moderates. Progressives are more responsible for this victory than conservative Democrats, but a progressive Congress will not serve to make this country a left-wing government.
After six years of Bush, eight years of Clinton ( a DLC Democrat) and 12 years of Republican leadership before that, our country has radically shifted its policies to the right.
The media is deregulated heavily, big-business has more clout than ever; welfare has been cut; bankruptcy laws have been cut; social services have been cut; wages are stagnant despite economic growth; the richest Americans are getting richer while the rest of the country lags behind; the middle-class has suffered; unions have been marginalized; civil rights have been trampled on; dissenters patriotism is questioned; the world hates us more than ever' the military budget has soared; the minimum wage has been idle despite the rise in inflation; gay marriage has been used as a political tool for the far right; global warming has been ignored; science is marginalized in classrooms; the executive branch has unprecedented sweeping powers; our government has spied on our phone calls, and e-mails; peace activists have been spied on; journalists have been paid off here and overseas; and the Wolfowitz Doctrine (often called the Bush Doctrine) has become our foreign policy.
A progressive Congress could not implement radical leftist policies even if it wanted to do such a thing. What they can do, however, if they are strong and refuse to concede too much, is to fix some of these terrible problems by pursuing progressive legislation. The rights takeover of Washington was perpetuated by conservative Democrats, and if the DLC types were to have their way, they would keep progressives from bringing us back to a point of moderation by dismantling some of these horrific conservative policies. But the damage is far too bad to think we can triangulate our way back to moderation. We need a progressive Congress to bring us back to the moderation -- and then we can worry about triangulating.
My conclusion -- that this is a victory for progressives insomuch that are best suited to moderate our government from the iron grip that the far right has had on it. And that this is why the country has voted for progressive reform is based on two main points. 1) That progressives galvanized the anti-war sentiment which was the main factor in the Democratic victories on election day and 2) that many of the so-called conservative Democrats -- such as Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana -- are actually economic populists, far more liberal than the perception dictates
Progressives, the public and Iraq
In recent years, while so-called moderate Democrats were voting for the War in Iraq, the Patriot Act (and in some cases, even abhorrent Military Commissions Act), and constantly beating the drum for prolonging the war, many progressives of this country were pointing out the flawed evidence used by Bush and co., the impending difficulty of post-war Iraq, the failure of the media to scrutinize the situation fairly and the inherently dangerous precedent of invading countries who never attacked us.
While Washington insiders, including some Democrats, often scoffed at these types, labeling them as "fringe lefties," who "blame America first."
As reality caught up to the American people, however, (The leaked NIE, The Downing Street Memo, the increasing bloodshed, the extended tours for soldiers, the growing discontent from the military, books by Ricks, Woodward and so on) Democrats realized that the only way to win was to run on Iraq.
For some time it was only true blue progressives, such as Russ Feingold, who were not flinching in their opposition to the war.
Then came Jack Murtha. His military credentials and his relative conservative viewpoints helped him to legitimize unambiguous support for ending the war. Then came the shocking primary in early August in which Ned Lamont did something that historically never happens -- beat an incumbent Senator in a primary. These two Democrats really changed the direction of the 2006 campaign. Polls showed Iraq was the number one issues for voters, and Murtha and Lamont helped to framed the debate.
Conservative Democrats (who are often mislabeled as moderates) could not have won this election without the anti-war left. The reason is simple: They were not with the public on Iraq. The public opposes this war and regrets waging it. And their distaste for Iraq policies are not merely a condemnation of Bush and Rumsfeld, but a condemnation of the policies they implemented. Democrats who support(ed) these policies would be wise to understand that.
But on economic issues the bulk of them, including Brown, Webb, Casey and Tester, are actually quite liberal on economic issues. Consider what Webb told NPR the day after Allen conceded the election: "I decided to run because of my concern...with the economic breakdown that's happened in this country along class lines."
You heard that right: class lines.
"There are huge income inequalities...that we haven't seen since the 1880s,” he said. "And wages and salaries...are at an all-time low as a percentage of wealth."
And economic issues were very important to voters in 2006, as Nichols notes: “As idiosyncratic as he is, Webb is not an anomaly. He's part of a broader trend that has been obscured by the fast-congealing conventional wisdom that the election results were driven chiefly by the ongoing disaster in Iraq. If you drill down a little into those results, it's clear that Iraq and Republican scandal can't account for all the Democratic victory. Consider the Democrats' success at the state level. The party picked up six governors, nine legislative chambers and more than 300 state legislative seats, none of which can plausibly be ascribed to discontent over Iraq."
That some candidates ran somewhat conservatively in conservative states does not underscore how the success of progressives around the country. As Tad Daley noted: “The three most progressive major U.S. Senate candidates in the country each won going away. On a day of record turnouts nationwide, Sherrod Brown garnered 56% of the vote in Ohio, Amy Klobuchar secured 58% in Minnesota, and Bernie Sanders (actually not a Democrat but a socialist!) pulled a full 65% in Vermont.
Part 3: Howard Dean v. Rahm Emanuel: The logic of the 50-state strategy
Film director Robert Altman dead at 81
The American film world just got a little less interesting. Robert Altman, one of the most prolific and groundbreaking filmmakers of his generation, died today. He was like the BB King of movies - he didn't need the money or notoriety, but he still went out year after year and worked, inevitably churning out a movie that, bad or good, was bound to be fascinating.
His body of work includes M*A*S*H, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye, Nashville, 3 Women, Popeye, The Player, Short Cuts, Gosford Park, and A Prarie Home Companion. He defined independent filmmaking, never giving an inch in terms of full artistic creativity. He was also a rebel, an outspoken activist, and a hard-ass. Rest in peace, Robert Altman.
"Within prominent settlements that Israel has said it plans to keep in any final border agreement, the data show, for example, that some 86.4 percent of Maale Adumim, a large Jerusalem suburb, is private; and 35.1 percent of Ariel is."
In an earlier post, Pat notes how far everyone is running from Iraq, including those who have been inclined to support it with vigor.
From Pat’s post:
“So what should be done? The worst part about this is that no one knows, and there is no right answer. Every road seems to lead to US embarrassment [sic], more Iraqi and coalition deaths, and chaos in the region.”
While there are indeed no easy answers, I would urge everyone to examine this proposal in Harper’s, written by George McGovern and William R. Polk.
"Withdrawal is not only a political imperative but a strategic requirement. As many retired American military officers now admit, Iraq has become, since the invasion, the primary recruiting and training ground for terrorists. The longer American troops remain in Iraq, the more recruits will flood the ranks of those who oppose America not only in Iraq but elsewhere.
Withdrawal will not be without financial costs, which are unavoidable and will have to be paid sooner or later. But the decision to withdraw at least does not call for additional expenditures. On the contrary, it will effect massive savings."
(Photo Credit: civilians.info/iraq)
"Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars and to bolster U.S. troop levels insufficient to cover potential future action in Iran, North Korea and Iraq.
'There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way,' Rangel said."
Beacon correspondent Phil Primeau wrote a piece about reinstating the draft recently.
So what should be done? The worst part about this is that no one knows, and there is no right answer. Every road seems to lead to US embarassment, more Iraqi and coalition deaths, and chaos in the region. I like Joe Biden's idea, but it's not really being taken very seriously. I guess we'll just have to wait to see what the Baker Commission says.
As the above Time Magazine cover indicates, some members of the media are portraying the latest election as a victory of moderates. There claim is not absurd (part II of this series will examine this election as a rejection of radicalism, and a victory for more moderate policies). But the way the election is being spun by many fails to accurately represent how big of a victory the last election was for progressives, and marginalizes their role in changing this country.
This Time cover gives the impression that Democrats and Republicans are now on equal footing. It implies that the appropriate legislative agenda would not be substantial progressive reforms but more triangulation, DLC style.
But so-called "moderate" Democrats, in many cases, enabled this war and the Bush agenda in general; in that respect this election was a condemnation of those, even Democrats, who were complicit in the failures of the last six years, especially on Iraq.
Bagnewsnotes proposes a couple of other possible covers that may have been more appropriate.
And here is Time's cover after the GOP won big in 94.
Notice a difference?
This is the first of several posts which will take a look at how politicians, the media and the public are interpreting the results of the election and the changes in leadership and policies that will follow.
Part 2: Whose victory? What this election means for moderation.
Part 3:Howard Dean v. Rahm Emanuel: The logic of the 50-state strategy
Part 4: The Woman in Charge: Pelosi's role
Part 5: Crashing the Gate or stuck at the kids table? The role of the netroots in the 2006 election and beyond.
Republicans Blame Election Losses On Democrats
November 7, 2006 Issue 42•45
WASHINGTON, DC—Republican officials are blaming tonight's GOP losses on Democrats, who they claim have engaged in a wide variety of "aggressive, premeditated, anti-Republican campaigns" over the past six-to-18 months. "We have evidence of a well-organized, well-funded series of operations designed specifically to undermine our message, depict our past performance in a negative light, and drive Republicans out of office," said Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who accused an organization called the Democratic National Committee of spearheading the nationwide effort. "There are reports of television spots, print ads, even volunteers going door-to-door encouraging citizens to vote against us." Acknowledging that the "damage has already been done," Mehlman is seeking a promise from Democrats to never again engage in similar practices.
The Democratic takeover last Tuesday was itself a good thing. It makes one wonder if it could have been possible if John Kerry had won the election in 2004. What would our country look like today if that had been the case?
At the time, there was some talk in the blogosphere that a Kerry victory would be the worst thing that could happen to the Democratic Party. Yes, the stakes were high and many voters were right to demand a change in the Executive Branch. But if Kerry had won, he would have faced an incredibly unsympathetic Congress. The Senate alone consisted of 55 Republicans and 44 Democrats. At the very least, for his first two years, he would have already been a lame duck. It's unlikely he would have been able to introduce any significant progressive legislation. The situation in Iraq would be as bad as it is now, since he had no convincing plan for change and didn't favor a withdrawl. Last summer's gas prices surely would have spiked under Kerry the same way they did under Bush.
Fast forward to the second year of the Kerry administration, last Tuesday's midterm elections. Would voters have blamed him for the deteriorating situation abroad? After all, things are way worse now than they were two years ago. They probably would, and it would be hard to blame them. It was Bush's war, but Kerry ran partially on a platform of turning things around in Iraq. It is, in my opinion, an impossible task, and Kerry would have failed the same way Bush has.
More Republican seats in 2006 along with an impotent Democratic president practically hands 2008 to McCain or Guiliani. No contest. The situation now, in addition to simply being better for the country, really makes 2008 interesting.
It seems that those Democrats in 2004 who said a Kerry victory would be devestating were right. That loss may have been the best thing for the party. It gave voters two more years to finally realize the corruption of the GOP.
The midterm election results made one thing painfully clear: voters wanted Republicans out. Liberal Republicans like Lincoln Chafee and conservative ones like Rick Santorum were both given the boot, as were GOP incumbents all throughout the House of Representatives.
These few days after the election have been a time for Republicans to point fingers, place blame, and theorize as to why this happened. Karl Rove says it's more about a perception of corruption, as well as the Foley and Haggert scandals, that did them in. Rush Limbaugh says it was the failure of candidates to stand for what they believe with any believability. Pat Toomey of National Review says it's due to the GOP's rejection of limited government. Ann Coulter says it's because Democrats like Webb, Casey and Tester basically ran as Republicans. Charles Krauthammer says it's Iraq, stupid.
As exit polling data and future polling results come in, we may get a better explanation as to why the country abandoned the Republicans. The best indication of the answer lies in the fact that self-described moderates and Independents went overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party.
This should be the key for the losers on Tuesday. The Democrats won because the Republican Party had been hijacked by extremists: divisive, arrogant, and corrupt far-right politicians whose blunders and sins were limitless. Chaffee lost simply because of the sins of this party. Unfortunately, the party wasn't even very good at appealing to their extremist base. Evangelicals were almost evenly split between blue and red.
This should be a sign for 2008. No George Allen, Sam Brownback, Bill Frist, or Jeb Bush for the Republican nomination, please. The country doesn't want 'em.
John Nichols writes:
"What will be the largest of the ideological caucuses in the new House Democratic majority?
Why, of course, it must be the "centrists" affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council's "New Democrat Coalition." Yes, that's got to be the case because all the commentators at the Wall Street Journal keep saying that centrists were the big winners on Tuesday.
Well, then, it must be the more conservative Democrats who identify themselves as "Blue Dogs." Surely, that's the answer because all the folks on Fox News keeping talking about them.
The largest ideological caucus in the new House Democratic majority will be the Congressional Progressive Caucus, with a membership that includes New York's Charles Rangel, Michigan's John Conyers, Massachusetts' Barney Frank and at least half the incoming chairs of House standing committees.
The caucus currently has 64 members -- up 14 since last year -- and its co-chairs, California Democrats Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee, say they expect that as many as eight incoming House Democrats will join the CPC. The number could actually go higher, as several candidates in undecided House races ran with strong progressive support. (The CPC worked with labor and progressive groups to assist a number of candidates in targeted races around the country this year, reflecting the more aggressive approach it has taken since the caucus was reorganized under the leadership of Lee and Woolsey and hired veteran labor and political organizer Bill Goold as a full-time staffer.)
The caucus will need an infusion of new members -- not because those associated with it lost elections Tuesday but because they won. CPC members Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sherrod Brown of Ohio will be leaving the House to become U.S. Senators. Interestingly, the two members of the "Blue Dog" caucus who ran for the Senate, Hawaii's Ed Case and Tennessee's Harold Ford, both lost. "
I wonder what he thinks about the Patriots laying 10 against the Jets?
"I suspect Lieberman will find himself in a position that should disgust him: An alleged Democrat who wins because he gets more votes from Republicans than Democrats.
If I'm wrong about anything when this is all over, I hope so much that it's this.
So here's the bottom line: Of the 13 hotly-contested races, Democrats win 11 of them with Cardin, Stabenow, Klobuchar, McCaskill, Tester, Menendez, Brown, Casey, Whitehouse, Webb and Cantwell. The GOP gets victories out of Kyl and Corker.
And the Democrats take the Senate 51-49."
But I admire his Post Mortem on the midterm election.
The whole article is a worthy read, and he gives fair assesments on how some now-blue districts may fare in the future.
"The House seats the party lost in New York and Connecticut and Pennsylvania will be hard to win back. Just as Republicans have locked in their gains in the South over the past two decades, Democrats should be able to solidify their hold on seats in the Northeast, as the nation continues to split sharply along North-South lines.
In Arizona, Republicans dropped two House seats and Republican Senator John Kyl got a mild scare. Kyl, by the way, may be finest and most able senator in Washington. He's certainly in the top five. Meanwhile, Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano cruised to victory.
The bottom line is this: Colorado and Arizona may not be there for Republicans in the 2008 presidential race. Of course, everything depends on the actual candidates, but these two states start out as presidential swing states. This is a new development."
Barnes also, in classic Weekly Standard style, scoffs at the staunch anti-immigration positions of House Republicans.
"Already the wails of the immigration restrictionists are rising, insisting Republicans lost because they weren't tough on keeping illegal border-crossers out. Not true. The test was in Arizona, where two of the noisiest border hawks, Representatives J.D. Hayworth and Randy Graf, lost House seats. Graf lost in a seat along the Mexican border, where illegal immigrants flock.
What Americans want is a full-blown solution to the immigration crisis. And that will come only when Republicans come together on a "comprehensive" measure that not only secures the border but also provides a way for illegals in the United States to work their way to citizenship and establishes a temporary worker program. If Republicans don't grab this issue, Democrats will."
Interestingly, immigration reform now seems possible since Bush's tends to side with moderate Senate Republicans and The Standard on this issue. If Bush can do anything of substance on the legislative front in the next two years, immigration reform is it.
Yesterday's Times editorial makes a very good point on this topic. (Italics for emphasis are mine)
“The Republicans created their defeat by focusing obsessively on the right-wing ‘base,’ ostracizing not only the Democrats but their own party’s more moderate legislators. The conflict between the extremist House and the conservative Senate created a phony center, far to the right of the general public’s idea of where the middle ought to be.”
Nonetheless, blogs from New Democrats and The New Republic are giving the credit to the DC establishment, marginalizing the role of the netroots; likewise, the liberal blogs are making the opposite argument.
IS THIS my country again? Do I dare to hope?
As I walked up the hill to vote on a glorious New England fall morning, I saw a sign for the Healey-Hillman ticket. The house was also flying an American flag. I was struck by the realization that for the past six years, I have felt that my citizenship in this country had been usurped. No flag for me. Flying it meant support of George Bush, the war in Iraq, and a hate-mongering, demeaning, and demoralizing government that is supposed to be representing me around the world.
More than a year ago, I understood that I could no longer stomach what was happening. I called Deval Patrick headquarters, and for the first time in my 60 years I got active in politics. The more I watched, talked to, and listened to Patrick, the
more convinced I became that he was truly different. And I began to feel hope --
in my body, in the air.
On election night at the Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, I celebrated with thousands of others. After more than 40 years in this state, I was part of a group that was truly integrated, black and white in equal numbers singing, joyful, brought together by a man whose life is a glowing example to all of us. We were given small flags , and I smiled. It was my flag and I waved it gratefully.
And an encouraging word in a Globe editorial:
"Belated as it is, Rumsfeld's departure does have encouraging aspects . Above all, it suggests that the most imperial presidency of modern times can still be held accountable by the voters."
But you all know that already. So just enjoy it.
"The genius of Borat is how the character exploits our country’s obsession with conflict-avoidance and multicultural tolerance. It’s a shiv to the guts of appeasement, and it just might be the best — and certainly the funniest — deconstruction of American pretensions ever made."
Really? What I saw was a movie that tried to expose so much of the racism and homophobia present underneath the surface of polite talk in America. When people's guards are down, when they're in the presence of perceieved friends and allies, they say some unfortunate things. Is the National Review equating those things positively with a breakdown of political correctness?
This movie is an expose of the red state mentality, if any.
Raising the stakes in the global warming dispute with the United States and China, Britain issued a sweeping report Monday warning that the earth faces an economic calamity on the scale of the world wars and the Great Depression unless urgent action is taken.
The 700-page "The Economics of Climate Change" report tries to persuade the world that environmentalism and economic growth can go hand in hand in the battle against global warming. But it also says that if no action is taken, rising sea levels, heavier floods and more intense droughts could leave 200 million people displaced by the middle of the century.
Amazingly, the aforementioned Stern Report is not even the most dire prediction this year. Stephen Hawking has said he thinks rapid global warming could happen so soon that our best chance to survive is to colonize other planets.
Matt Stoller has a hard-hitting, last minute appeal to the anti-Lieberman senses in all of us.
"Why are the polls so stable for Joe, showing him basically in the high forties and Ned in the high thirties? Why did this country elect and reelect Richard Nixon? They are pretty much the same character, both incredibly smart and incredibly narcissistic politicians who manipulate the press and make you feel good about the way they are lying to you. Rick Green at the Hartford Courant and historian Rick Perlstein both point out that Joe is using what is in effect a really, really good hustle. The war isn't a small issue in Connecticut. It's a major issue, but in a sense, the reason Joe is able to sustain his lead is because he's successfully neutralized his extremist position on the war. The Democratic Party refused to get involved, the Republican Party is backing Joe, and the press is accepting the pat narrative that Lieberman is a moderate. That means punching through the con is incredibly hard; if Bill Clinton and Harry Reid won't say that Joe is hustling people on the war, then why should anyone else?"
"In addition, the Lamont campaign volunteers are driving GOTV for Democrats all over Connecticut, and there's a general sense that the field operation for Lamont is much better than that for Lieberman. As to the polls, there's frustration that Ned went silent after the primary, and that was a mistake. A big mistake. And the party has been terrible, just awful. They haven't provided the necessary outside artillery to point out that Joe wants us to continue the war in Iraq and is basically dishonest about his entire record. At the end of the day, though, I'm not going to be silent while this country meanders towards another war, and I'm not in politics so Democrats can get better parking spots on Capitol Hill."
Though I should, I don't really know who the Rev. Ted Haggard is or how big of a figure he is within the evangelical community. Based on the news coverage so far, he seems pretty big.
There's also no way of knowing just yet whether these allegations are true, though the CNN article does play with the fact that he is admitting some aspects.
If true, this is yet another example of how those who preach hate do so out of a deep-seeted insecurity. How many pastors and conservative politicians are going to be revealed as compulsive gamblers, addicts, and prostitution solicitors before we finally realize they're all a bunch of frauds. It will be interesting to see how the religious right reacts to this. Will they throw this respected and beloved figure to the dogs because he may have been struggling with what they percieve as a vile version of sexuality? Or will they try to cure him of his "disease"?
Where is my sympathy for him? I have none until he apologizes to gay Americans everywhere.
Keith Olberman has got balls.
Consider that in 2003 MSNBC cancelled Phil Donahue's show, it's only liberal show, just prior to the invasion of Iraq. This seemed like an odd move given that Donahue’s show was the network’s highest rated program.
A leaked document would later reveal that the show was cancelled out of fear that the show would offer anti-war views. Norman Solomon Reports:
"MSNBC canceled Phil Donahue’s talkshow after an internal memo (leaked to the All Your TV website, 2/25/03) argued that he would be a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war. ...He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush, and skeptical of the administration’s motives.” The report warned that the Donahue show could be “a home for the liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”
Such behavior illustrates that subtle (or not-so subtle, in this case) pressure to censor political dissent is indeed alive and well, and not merely the talking points of the “loony left” as many conservative pundits who like you to think.
And you can damn well bet the Keith Olberman, host of Countdown and former ESPN anchor, understood this before he went on the air and took a bold risk with his new “Special Comments.”
I will explain his Special Comment for the uninitiated: Olberman uses the last segment of his show to make pointed, bold and unwavering criticism of the most egregious acts imposed by the radicals controlling the White House and Congress.
His prose is powerful, passionate, sad and inspiring; his logic is solid and devastating.
He offers them only occasionally. He went after Rumsfeld and Bush for questioning the patriotism of anti-war Democrats. He lamented the ABC docudrama, that portrayed a blatantly false portrayal of the events leading up to Sept.11, 2001, and recently he gave an inspiring and sometimes hilarious comment on the Military Commissions Act, and its destruction of our basic rights. Take a few minutes and watch a few on You Tube.
It would be easier and far less risky for Olberman to refrain from this public dissent. For starters, it takes incredible courage to volunteer to speak truth to power in front of millions of people, and not sound saccharine or self-absorbed. But somehow he manages to succeed without seeming like a rip-off of Edward R Murrow. What he does seems more like a tribute to Murrow – and to the open discourse that Murrow believed in engaging in with the American people – and they have become You Tube sensations.
The show has become a hit. His ratings are up 67 percent in the last year according to Hollywood Reporter. Meanwhile Olberman’s arch nemesis Bill O’reilly and his Fox News Brethren are losing their audience (which has a mean age of 64). In the last quarter their ratings have dropped considerably. (I note that despite the losses, Fox News still holds a sizable ratings advantage over CNN and MSNBC.)
And despite the obvious success of Olberman’s feisty declarations, some still fear for his job. Jeff Cohen, founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, (FAIR) a progressive watchdog group, said :
"But MSNBC is still owned by GE's conservative bosses, and managed by NBC's ever-timid executives. Olbermann knows this reality as well as anyone; six months ago on C-SPAN, while expressing confidence that good ratings would keep them at bay, he remarked: ‘There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE, the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all.’”
MSNBC: Finding its voice?
MSNBC has improved dramatically over the last few months. On June 12, MSNBC announced that Dan Abrams of The Abrams Report and Phil Griffin Senior Vice President at NBC NEWS would oversee the 24-hour news channel. They immediately revamped the nightly schedule. They dumped the horrendous Live and Direct at 9 p.m.; the moved Tucker Carlson show from 11 pm to 4 and 6 pm, ands Hardball also runs twice at 5 pm and 7 pm.
The victim of these moves seems to be Joe Scarborough, who used to cover beltway politics every night, and has since been placing a much closer focus on celebrity news. Just recently they teased his show with a story on Dustin Diamond (Screech from Saved by the Bell) going into porn)
While Tucker Carlson and Chris Matthews have their flaws, they are both smart guys and tolerable to watch. Matthews’s coverage of the Connectictut. primary was leaps and bounds better than the competition. (not saying much by today's standards) Tucker actually went to Lebanon during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the coverage was decent, and less marred by the obvious pro-Israel spin that dominates most American outlets. He is principled, unafraid to attack Bush for his spending, and unmarried to a political party.
These changes have made MSNBC the best 24-hour news channel in America. (And yes, I know that isn’t saying a whole lot.)
MyDD has a pretty good assesment of how things are are looking in the Senate for Democrats. Remember, the Dems need to pick up six seats to win the Senate. If things in the "Looking good" section hold, the Dems will pick up three seats there. So the real question is can they pick up seats in VA, MO and MT.
Tennesee does not look good right now. Studys show that in the south, polls are usually more favorable to black candidates than the actual votes. Lamont v. Lieberman, however is getting close again. Rasmussen has Lamont down by only 6 percent. Since Lieberman is basically a Republican candidate--and a slimeball to boot--any one who wants a change in Congress should hope that Lamont somehow pulls this one out.
PA: Casey (D) 51.4%--40.2% Santorum (R)
OH: Brown (D) 52.6%--42.0% DeWine (R)
MI: Stabenow (D) 50.4%--40.2% Bouchard (R)
WA: Cantwell (D) 52.4%--42.6% McGavick (R)
RI: Whitehouse (D) 48.2%--40.2% Chafee (R)
MD: Cardin (D) 51.0%--43.8% Steele (R)
NJ: Menendez (D) 48.2%--42.2% Kean (R)
Looking close, but good:
MT: Tester (D) 48.2%--45.0% Burns (R)
VA: Webb (D) 47.0%--45.8% Allen (R)
MO: McCaskill (D) 47.8%--46.8% Talent (R)
Not looking good:
TN: Corker (R) 49.2%--46.0% Ford (D)
AZ: Kyl (R) 49.2%--41.0% Pederson (D)
CT: Lieberman (CfL) 48.4%--38.8% Lamont (D)
"'The issue is not about the transformation of the traditional definition of marriage, but about the unequal dispensation of benefits and privileges to one of two similarly situated classes of people,' the court said in its 4-3 ruling."
The court was right to leave the ulimate decision up to the legislature whether to approve gay marriage or civil unions. But how heartening it is to hear them declare that homosexuals have the same rights as heterosexuals. This is a step forward, an important step but also not a radical or activist one. I don't know how it will affect the election, but for now, let's hope it's a turning point in how we view gays. No more second class citizenship, at least in New Jersey.
Please, please, please not right before the election.
But anyway, here's to hoping they make the right choice.
Nancy Pelosi was just on 60 Minutes. The subject was a possible Democratic House, and thus, a possible Majority Leader Pelosi.
My ideas on November 7th are documented below. I would love to see a Democratic chamber of Congress and some balance in DC. But Pelosi is a ridiculous partisan hack. I certainly don't blame the Republicans for using her in the same way the Democrats use Bush.
Leslie Stahl did a good job of pointing out that, despite her repeated calls for unity and civility, she's one of the most partisan people in Washington. She has called the Republican leadership a gang of criminals, endlessly corrupt.
You may well be right Mrs. Pelosi, but don't tell us you're bringing a vision of unity.
She then said Iraq was not part of the war on terror. "What is," asked Stahl. "Afghanistan," she responded.
What kind of ridiculous nonsense is this? It can be argued that Iraq was not a part of the war on terror before we went in, but to argue that it still isn't? That it's still a diversion? Do they get newspapers in Washington?
Most polls and trends showing the House and Senate going blue, blue, blue. Virtually all the toss-ups are leaning Democrat, and a lot of the races that nine months ago would have been thought of as safely red are very close.
I'm not registered to either party, but it has never been clearer to me (and a lot of voters) that it is time for a change in Washington. Are there any issues, any at all, where we're going in the right direction? Anything to be proud of?
The situation in Iraq? Our impotence towards Iran and North Korea? The cost of college? The national debt? How's paying that off going, Congress?
I'm skeptical of a Democratic House, but that's just fine. Because they can not screw up any worse. It isn't possible.
It can't be...
"It is the single most important statistic regarding the illegal USinvasion and occupation of Iraq. How many Iraqis have been killed?
655,000 Iraqis killed as a result of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.
I have worked for eight months in Iraq as a journalist, witnessing thecarnage on a daily basis, visiting the morgues with bodies and bodyparts piled into them, meeting family after family who had lost a lovedone, or more ... Finally, we get an accurate figure that shows howimmense the scale of the long drawn carnage really is."
“In November 2004, 76 percent of white evangelical Christians in Ohio voted for Mr. Bush. When asked in this poll whether they approve or disapprove of the job Mr. Bush is doing as president, 49 percent approved while 45 percent disapproved.”
Blair is right. In addition to highlighting the growing cultural divide in Europe, the burka and veil are symbols of oppression of women and bigotry. Certainly not all Muslim women view them that way, but then I guess we wouldn't know what they really think, would we?
Barack Obama in 2008?
I like Barack Obama. I don't know if there is anyone who doesn't like him. But I don't know if he could be president in two years. He has too little experience at a time when it seems like our country needs that more and more.
He is a charismatic person and good speaker, but so is John Edwards. I guess I don't understand the fuss just yet.
Of particular interest is the way author John Cassidy points out that Murdoch tends to find political friends based on who will be in power, and not, as many argue, on the basis of rigid ideology. This is not to say Murdoch is not an ideologue--he certainly is. But it benefits his bottom line to befriend powerful elites -- of all political persuasions -- and with the pendulum swinging left as of late, it is understandable why Murdoch is cozying up to the Clintons, for example.
“'Rupert, I think, is interested in power and money, and not much else,' a former White House aide who worked with Hillary when she was First Lady said to me. 'I think the ideology business is all a gloss. My vulgar Marxist view is that he is trying to defend his economic interest. The Democrats are about to sweep New York, and Hillary might be President in 2008.'”
Another revealing bit is the speculation that Tony Blair may join the News Corp. Board of Directors when he steps down from power.
"Voters in more than one-third of Massachusetts' cities and towns will get a rare chance to register their opinion on the war in Iraq next month when they consider a ballot question on whether the United States should immediately withdraw all troops."
However, since we start with the premise of defending/attacking specific publications -- Kos, and TNR -- we are each intrinsically linked with them and with them all of their flaws. We are defending publications rather than ideas. I would sooner start with the debate: what is the face of liberalism and the Democratic Party today? And then use Kos and TNR when applicable to illustrate a point.
Still, there are points I would like to address.
"While this crowd complains every four years that there is no choice on the ballot, the rest of us can take comfort in the fact that America will never elect a leader that's acceptable to the Kos lefties."
The Kos lefties are, by-in-large, mainstream Democrats who want to elect mainstream Democrats. Their latest straw polls for 2008 lists their picks for President in 2008. Pat, please tell me how each of these people, the top five, are too leftist for normal Democrats.
Russ Feingold: Was the only Democrat not to vote against a motion for impeachment on Pres. Clinton; voted to confirm John Ashcroft in 2000; allied with McCain on campaign finance reform
Wesley Clark: A retired four-star general in the U.S. Army; The Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO; commanded Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War.
John Edwards: Opposed Gay Marriage, voted for the War in Iraq and The Patriot Act.
Tom Warner Considered a DLC-style "New Democrat."
Hillary Clinton: Flag burning; the War in Iraq refusal to go back on vote; proponent of triangulation.
Is this is new leftist revolution of our generation than everyone -- the left and the right -- are in some serious trouble.
As far as commenting on silence? Pat, as a writer I assume you will agree that there are more things to write about than there are hours in the day. And if my hyperbole is delicious, it may well be because it rings true. We are in the middle of an illegal war that kills thousands of innocent people. That you dismiss this as hyperbole shows a lot about the direction you want to take the debate in this country.
Consider this sentence: Pat your silence on the issue of torture says a lot about the type of conversation you want to have.
Is that fair?
Would it be fair for me to take a shot at, say, Andrew Sullivan, because he has not discussed sweat shops? Would it be fair to attack Josh Marshall for not writing enough about labor unions, or The Drug War. We are guilty to some extent of not writing about important issues.
You mention how the left attacks the mainstream media for important omissions, which is true. But the mainstream media is supposed to be objective and supposed to cover important topics. Blogs have no such responsibilities.
If I decide to waste a blog post on cats who use computers I can -- because this is a blog -- and we are afforded some personal preference to topics. Bloggers, Pat and I included, are not obligated to pay attention to all topics, nor should we be.
Moving on, Pat writes:
"What constitutes a true liberal in the minds of the Kos crowd? Feverent, red-faced hatred for conservativism (all the while chastising Bush and Rove for being divisive), criticism of Israel, isolationist military policy and opposition to globalization policies. While this crowd complains every four years that there is no choice on the ballot, the rest of us can take comfort in the fact that America will never elect a leader that's acceptable to the Kos lefties. "
Criticism of Israel need not be included on your list, and I am curious as to your motive of doing so. Every member of the Democratic Party -- and in turn, most of the Kos community -- says nothing on this issue other than: Israel has a right to defend itself. Kos specifically jumped away from the conversation when Israel invaded Lebanon.
If we want to lament bloggers for not writing about an issue enough -- this would be a great place to start.
It is also real clever to take "anti-war" and lump it with isolationism. It is not isolationism to only want to attack countries that attack us first -- that is called international law and common sense.
They're interested in who in the Democratic party is electable, not who they agree with philosophically, because no such Democrat exists. Not in the Senate, at least. They're so focused on a Democratic majority and winning races, yet for the most part their politics are not really in line with 90% of the party. It's odd.
In response to Mike's previous post, I find it a little bizarre that the fact Beinart attacked bloggers for something they didn't say is somehow an issue. Aren't liberals constantly talking about what the mainstream media isn't covering, or an aspect of the war they're not reporting on? It's a legitimate point for them, and of course it's a legitimate point for Beinart. Silence speaks volumes, and the liberal (I'm tempted to use the smug quotes here, but I'll refrain) blogosphere's refusal to discuss certain issues says a lot about the dialogue they want to have, I think.
To say that they are simply too busy writing about "horrific wars that are killing thousands of innocent people" is a delicious bit of hyperbole and it sounds good (how does one respond?) but it's a mere distraction. They're too busy? Is that honestly the best line in their defense? I can buy, "Well, yes, they aren't showing enough interest in these things, but what they are focusing on is important too." But busy?
Beinart actually did make the same point about the far right's vested interest in talking about the opera house from an anti-Muslim perspective. But at least they're talking about it. And alterior motives or not, I'll take that over the other side.
Re: Free Speech ... Remember?
Wow, what a shocker. Peter Beinart, the "liberal" who said the left was blinded by Bush hatred when they refused to embrace the illegal invasion of Iraq (gee I wonder what Peter says about that now?) now attacks -- gasp -- liberal bloggers. Talk about a one-trick pony.
"Last week, I went searching the liberal Web for discussions of Idomeneo. The Deutsche Oper, a Berlin opera house, had recently canceled the Mozart classic because it feared Muslims would react violently to a scene featuring Mohammed's severed head. Germans declared that free speech was under siege. The New York Times covered every wrinkle. Right-wing websites buzzed. And, on the big liberal blogs, virtual silence ...
Blogging thrives on outrage (see, for instance, my colleague Martin Peretz's outraged blogging on the affair at tnr.com/blog/spine), and the Idomeneo closure just didn't get liberal blood flowing. And why is that? Perhaps because it didn't have anything to do with George W. Bush. "
Does he attack them for something they said? No. He attacks them for something they didn't say, and then, with his newfound ability to read the minds of the collective blogosphere, he deduces the reason for the alleged silence: They hate Bush too much to discuss anything else.
Perhaps bloggers were to busy writing the horrific wars that are killing thousands of innocent people to care about what the insufferable Marty Peretz is blogging about.
And speaking of irational hatred: One can critisize excessive distaste for the president if they choose, but he is the most powerful man in the world, and I would argue that no amount of scrutiny -- especially given his lack of transparency and candor -- is too much to place on the most radical US president in recent memory.
But if Peter Beinart and the rest of his New Republic bretheren went after Bush as much as they did "Blogofacists" (a lovely TNR-coined phrase courtesy of Lee Seigel) -- maybe they would do some good, and save their flailing magazine.
Ezra Klein of The American Prospect responds to Beinart's piece. He notes correctly that the right-wingers who Beinart praised are not free speech advocates, but simply eager to smear Muslims.
Would these bloggers be advocating free speech if Jesus was mocked? I doubt it.
"[T]he merry racists over at Little Green Footballs aren't pumping the Idomeneo controversy because they're deeply committed to artistic freedom. These are David Horowitz acolytes, after all. They're doing it because it furthers their other political ends. They're doing it for the same reasons Bush noticed the oppression of Afghani women after 9/11, or the right remembered Hussein had human rights abuses when they decided to attack Iraq. Painting Arabs as beastly and illiberal fits their expansionist political agenda, which calls for sustained, often violent confrontation with the Arab world.
Few liberals want any part in that foreign policy agenda. And so few liberals have any interest in buttressing the administration's supporting arguments. Too many recall how their genuine concern and outrage over abuses in Iraq was conscripted in service of a misguided, heavily politicized, war that included human rights abuses of its own. Given a government that thinks nothing of suspending Habeas Corpus, is criticizing the Deutsche Oper likelier to protect free speech or deploy bombers?
Here's a test: The empty opera house may be a suboptimal outcome, but is it worse than kidnapping children for force marriage in Kyrgyzstan? How about the death of an unjustly imprisoned journalist in Turkmenistan? Or the government-supported death squads in Guinea?
No. It isn't. But that's what the right wing is focusing on. And that's what Peter Beinart is bashing liberals with. Liberals are morally remiss for paying insufficient attention to an opera house's decision, but not for ignoring bride kidnappings, murdered journalists, or marauding governments. The agenda behind that odd prioritization isn't difficult to divine, and it's to the credit of the left that they refused to offer aid and comfort to those seeking its partial assent in their clash-of-civilization fantasies ... And those selectively decrying the absence of liberal outrage should select a more worthy, and less destructive, targent. Unless, of course, it's the outrage, and not the abuse, that interested them in the first place.
"Last week, I went searching the liberal Web for discussions of Idomeneo. The Deutsche Oper, a Berlin opera house, had recently canceled the Mozart classic because it feared Muslims would react violently to a scene featuring Mohammed's severed head. Germans declared that free speech was under siege. The New York Times covered every wrinkle. Right-wing websites buzzed. And, on the big liberal blogs, virtual silence.
If pressed, most liberal bloggers would probably have condemned the opera house's decision. But they didn't feel pressed. Blogging thrives on outrage (see, for instance, my colleague Martin Peretz's outraged blogging on the affair at tnr.com/blog/spine), and the Idomeneo closure just didn't get liberal blood flowing. And why is that? Perhaps because it didn't have anything to do with George W. Bush. "
He goes on to talk about the Pope's recent comments about Islam, and how some folks at the DailyKos managed to blame Republicans and Bush. It's a rhetorical stretch that truly has to be read to be believed.
Americans need to combat the threat of terrorism, and protect its people from those who wish to kill innocent civilians. This is not in doubt.
What is in worth debating, however, is the means in which to do this, and whether maintaining an ambiguous, continuous war with unclear goals is in the best interest of our country and the world.
Americans are now having this debate, in discussing the War in Iraq, and most Americans now believe that the war has made us less safe from terrorism.
But the war on terror as a concept is largely safe from critical dialogue from American’s politicians on both parties. In fact, Democrats who challenge the legitimacy or effectiveness of the Iraq War, argue that it is merely a “distraction” from the war on terror and will limit our options invade other countries, such as Iran. In other words, pre-emptive wars of aggression are fine, a constant state of warfare is fine, but Iraq was executed ineptly.
This may be a smart election-year move as it allows Democrats to look tough on terror while appeasing anti-war voters. However, if Democrats gain any power this November, they should quickly work to redefine and rename the war on terror so it is not blank check for the executive branch to use force at his own discresion.
This debate ought to be expanded past Iraq, and discussed more broadly. The reason for this is simple: It is President Bush’s global war on terror, not Iraq, which has been used to justify all the administration’s war policies, including the invasion of Iraq.
Consider some examples:
*The USA PATRIOT Act was signed two years before we invaded in Iraq. When it was up for renewal Bush justified the measures by saying “In a war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment.”
* The National Security Agency’s unconstitutional wiretappings that take place with no real oversight, likewise, began years before we invaded Iraq. The justification, according to the Bush Administration, was that "they attacked us before, they'll attack us again if they can.”
*Institutionalized torture, and the discarding of the Geneva Conventions, gained visibility in Iraq – but these ideas were implemented at least as far back as 2002, when, according to The Washington Post, the Justice Department advised the White House that torturing al Qaeda terrorists in captivity abroad "may be justified," and that international laws against torture "may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations" conducted in the war on terrorism.
The main difference between Iraq and the war on terror is that the former will eventually end (leaving the issue of permanent military bases for another day). Whether it is in two years or twenty, the war as we know it will end.
In contrast, the war on terror, according to President Bush’s Sept. 20, 2001 speech, “will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
The war on terrorism is fought everywhere and anywhere. It is a war not against a nation state or an entity within a state (such as al Qaeda in Afghanistan )but rather, against a tactic. A tactic, it is worth noting, that has no concrete definition. To date the United Nations has not agreed on a definition of "terrorism."
Such ambiguities enable the US government to simply decide what terrorism is on a case-by-case basis. The mere existence of the war on terror already serves as a justification for future wars, further torture and more assaults on our privacy and personal liberties.
1n 1984, George Orwell warned us why governments engage in continuous warfare.
"It does not matter if the war is not real, or when it is, victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous.... waged by the ruling group against its subjects, and its object is not victory, but to keep the very structure of society intact."
We can fight terrorism, and protect our homeland without resorting to these tactics. The war on terror has enabled these draconian measures taken by the executive branch, to attack the very foundations of our democracy.
Accordingly, we should oppose all continuous wars, including Bush’s war on terror.
If we fail to do this, we will settle for the only alternative: a state of perpetual warfare.