• comment on a post It's About Power over 3 years ago

    What good would a no-fly zone do in "Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, the Sudan, against Israel, in the Ivory Coast?" It would do no good. In Libya it is clear that a no-fly zone stopped Gaddafi from using his air force to kill Libya's citizens.

    Regardless of the merit's of John Judis's arguments, or Stephen Walt's, the intervention in Libya is not primarily about power. We cannot guarantee the outcome of Libya's revolution, Gaddafi is not a threat to American interests, so we have as good a chance of losing influence in Libya as we have of gaining. No one has forgotten the effectiveness of cruise missiles, so knocking down Gaddafi's air force doesn't demonstrate anything new.

    If we did not have the power to intervene effectively in Libya then we probably would not have. But it does not follow that therefore the intervention is primarily about power.

    Anyone acting in the world has to make complicated moral choices. Reporting child abuse can have unforeseen consequences, like breaking up a family and leaving an abused child at the mercy of an indifferent state, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Countries are faced with complicated choices that have broader moral consequences, but that doesn't excuse them from making choices.

    Greenwald is a little more careful in his argument, he invalidates the argument that to oppose the war is to be indifferent to the rights of Libyans. He only implies, through quotes, that the intervention is primarily about power.


  • comment on a post 99% there over 3 years ago

    Ah, the Joe Trippi route. I hope a compelling Democratic candidate brings you back.

    Politics in a Democratic Republic is a slow, frustrating business. It is designed to snuff out revolutions and radical change of any type. You have to build and sustain broad coalitions to change the direction of a country with a couple hundred million people.

    But I think some of the frustration from the left stems from a faulty analysis of American politics. The story is that corporate interests corrupt national politicians and fool the people through their control of the media. But this story discounts the agency of the electorate and gives activists an out from participating in politics. Obama has not been fooled or corrupted by 'the corporations', and he did not trick his supporters into voting for him. Most of Obama's decisions and policies are consistent with his campaign (civil liberties may be an exception), and he won because he convinced voters that he could move the country forward without changing the center-right trajectory of recent policy. The candidates who argued that we must change that trajectory to move the country forward did not convince enough people to vote for them.

    Those of us who want to change that trajectory must work out how to convince more people. 


  • comment on a post Gallup points to 70 plus blowout for now over 3 years ago

    I'll be the Pollyanna.

    Phone contact rates were barely viable in 2008, and the spread of cell-phone only households has accelerated. Pollsters struggled to correct for the conservative bias of landlines in 2008, it wouldn't surprise me if they have lost their grip on the electorate in 2010.

    There has been grumbling about the DNC's GOTV contact strategy, arguing that base GOTV is more important than new voter GOTV, but my bet is that OFA is right. There is a lot of evidence that traditional Democratic GOTV contact just turns out people who were going to vote anyway, the OFA new voter strategy has shown more votes per contact. Those voters are screened by likely voter screens, so they shift results away from what the polls show.

    The RNC GOTV program has fallen apart under Steele, and they have no money. Outside groups tend to waste money on GOTV without central coordination, so the Republican money advantage is blunted. Tea Partiers alienate many people and their GOTV may suppress more Republican voters than it turns out.

    Democratic messaging stinks, and there is an enthusiasm gap, but the situation may not be as dire as it appears.


  • comment on a post Purging party over 3 years ago

    Or skip the progressive label and educate people about liberal policies. People use the label "progressive" when they want to blur the political differences between liberals and centrists. The DLC's think tank was the Progressive Policy Institute, it was cover for appealing to both liberal and conservative Democrats. Chris Bowers uses the term to reconcile the conservative economic interests of the "Creative Class" with the liberal economic interests of the Democratic base, and I suspect your preference for "Libertarian Progressive" is a similar attempt to blur the differences between that base and a more libertarian online audience.

    Don't coddle the libertarians, their political philosophy is infantile. Show them that liberal policies are better than conservative policies, and that we are all in this together. 

  • TARP was necessary, and the Obama administration had an obligation, in implementing it, to ensure that it would in fact remove the troubled assets and companies from our financial system. Instead Obama chose to paper over the problems and designed a "stress test" that hid the trouble, avoided government takeover of insolvent banks and enabled those banks and financial companies to show record profits and pay record bonuses.

    Geithner explained that he was giving those companies room to recover and the market room to fix itself. Even today in the Washington Post, Geithner, with his usual sense of timing, claims that TARP worked, apparently oblivious to the foreclosure mess. TARP did not work, as recent reports show our system is still built on a structure of fraudulent asset valuations and fraudulent methods of foreclosing on homeowners. So fraudulent that our economy once again faces financial crisis.

    Simon Johnson recently covered all of this in more detail.

  • comment on a post Feingold: Incompetent campaign? over 3 years ago

    I'm not a fan of Feingold's goo-goo progressivism, so I can't say I'd miss him. Wisconsin and the nation would be better off with a partisan Democrat, and the nation appears to have lost interest in the principled 'independent' candidates from either party. Good riddance, let's have real political contrast over substance, not process.


  • on a comment on Obama the neo-con over 3 years ago

    IAEA says it was true, they described the central question in 2003 as:

    whether Iraq has revived or attempted to revive its defunct nuclear weapons programme over the last four years.

    Hard to revive something that never existed.

    Do you have any evidence showing otherwise?

  • on a comment on Obama the neo-con over 3 years ago

    Bill Clinton engaged in a series of air-strikes, not an invasion. Bush intended to invade Iraq with the declared purpose of removing Iraq's WMD capability, for that he needed Congressional support.

    Hillary Clinton supported an invasion, i.e. war, to remove the threat of Hussein's WMDs.

    What wool are you talking about? Are you trying to claim that Hillary Clinton secretly knew that Bush was misleading the country?

    But we are far from your original question, the clarity of Hillary Clinton's foreign policy. She was clear that she would have invaded Iraq had she been convinced that it had secretly developed nuclear weapons in violation of U.N. agreements, in other words she stood by her vote. Obama's position was the same, but he attacked her for sharing his view.


  • on a comment on Obama the neo-con over 3 years ago

    I didn't say she opposed invasion, she supported an invasion if Hussein were developing weapons of mass destruction. Hussein was developing nuclear weapons during the Clinton administration, hence Clinton's 1998 attack on Iraq. Those programs were confirmed by weapons inspections and by documentation uncovered after our invasion.

    Hillary Clinton did not believe George Bush would invade Iraq without solid evidence of those programs. But he did, and he mislead the American people and Congress to do it. You can call her stupid if you like, but she was giving an American president what she felt was the support he said he needed.


  • on a comment on Obama the neo-con over 3 years ago

    Sure, Hillary Clinton said her 2002 vote for the Iraq war resolution was a vote to put inspectors back in so Saddam Hussein could not go unchecked. She wanted to give the president the tools to deal with Saddam Hussein.

    I believe, and I argued at the time, that she and the Senate made the wrong choice. She was clearly mistaken in believing that President Bush was operating in good faith. She defends her vote, but not the war.

    I don't expect any candidate to agree with me on most issues, I'm on the Liberal side of the Democratic party on most issues. So I look for the candidate who I believe will move the country in the direction I prefer. I find candidates who honestly disagree with me on particulars, and who are honest about the limitations of the office they seek, more appealing than those who tell me what I want to hear.


  • on a comment on Obama the neo-con over 3 years ago

    I've always argued that there was very little room between Obama and Hillary Clinton on foreign policy, in fact that was the argument of most Clinton supporters (their differences on economic policy were larger). Does the phrase the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen ring any bells? As I recall Bill Clinton's statement had to be turned into a huge controversy to avoid Obama supporters noticing that what he said was true.

    The difference was Hillary Clinton was clear about what her foreign policy would be, neither you nor I could have any illusions about it. Obama promoted illusions. So the choice was between the candidate who had enough respect for her base to speak directly to them when she disagreed, and the candidate who chose to obscure his policy with rhetoric. It was not between two fundamentally different approaches to foreign policy.


  • AMVETS is not a government agency, it is as sensitive to the economy as any other non-profit. And it may have escaped your notice, but governments have been laying people off too.

    Is it really that hard to understand that we are all screwed, together? Sure, there are a smaller and smaller number of people at the top who are making out like bandits in this economy, but most of us are screwed. We are all a lot closer to the bottom 1% than we are to the top 1%. 

  • comment on a post Just Desserts for Chocolate Carter over 3 years ago

    You went wrong when you drew attention to the opinions of African Americans. That is not permitted in post-racial America.

  • comment on a post The Enthusiasm Gap Quantified over 3 years ago

    The Democratic party is the people's party, we win when we create jobs for people and we lose if we don't. In January of 2009, when unemployment was over 7%, Obama said of his stimulus plan:

    There is no doubt that the cost of this plan will be considerable.  It will certainly add to the budget deficit in the short-term.  But equally certain are the consequences of doing too little or nothing at all, for that will lead to an even greater deficit of jobs, incomes, and confidence in our economy.

    Unemployment is now over 9%, and regularly bumps over 10%, the deficit of jobs, incomes and confidence is even greater than it was last year. Obama did too little.

    Voters make rational decisions, there is no evidence that our Democratic President, House and Senate have addressed their fundamental concern: earning a living. Apologists for the administration say that Obama did the best he could, but voters know from experience that Republicans are willing to do what it takes to get the economy going, including running up massive deficits and voting for massive stimulus, if only in the form of inefficient tax breaks. Democratic voters can rationally disengage from this election, knowing that a Republican takeover at least includes the possibility of real action to improve the economy. Republican voters take heart in both economic policies that will benefit them and Republican control. Persuadable voters hear Democratic denial or excuse making, and Republican plans to cut taxes. 

    Our best chance to improve our chances in this election is to propose a real change in fiscal policy. If Obama and Democratic leaders were to acknowledge that they did not do enough, and were to clearly and consistently argue that the best way back to sustained and strong job growth is a large investment in the American people, then they could draw a contrast with the Republican plan of cutting taxes for business and cutting benefits for workers and give Democratic voters a plan to vote for.

    Failing that the best plan is a harshly negative campaign designed to undermine Republican enthusiasm and a strong ground game. This appears to be Obama's midterm strategy.

  • Petraeus is unlikely to back away from his own COIN strategy, and he has the political weight to push back on Biden, Eikenberry and Holbrooke. If Obama is going to pursue a COIN strategy he should do it right, and Petraeus can do it right.

    I'm relieved that Obama chose to continue the strategy, and did not revert to a hands off approach with punitive air raids. COIN is hard and will cost more of our soldiers their lives, but it is more likely to contain Al Qaeda.

    The Taliban were always the Pakistani ISI's proxies, long before our 2001 invasion. But McChrystal and Petreaus's goal is not to defeat the Taliban, it is to deny Al Qaeda a haven. Incorporating the Taliban into an Afghanistan government is a possible outcome.



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