Barack Obama Politics The Opinionsphere

The Future of the Tea Party (cont.)

Markos Moulitsas sees echoes of the rise of the progressive netroots in the Tea Party’s money bomb for Scott Brown (H/t Sullivan) – though he also sees its demand for ideological purity as different from the approach taken by Daily Kos and much of the rest of the progressive netroots. He seems to share with David Brooks the sense that the Tea Party Movement is here to stay.

I’m still not certain. This group seems so similar to the flare-up of similar sentiments from 1992 to 1994 – which was quashed finally by Bill Clinton’s fiscally responsible governance. The Obama administration – if the economy doesn’t enter into a double-dip recession – will try to steer a similar path.

My bet is that the Tea Party will only gain momentum – and have any relevance beyond 2010 if the economy doesn’t rebound.

Humor Libertarianism Politics The Bush Legacy The Opinionsphere

Are You A Libertarian If…

DarkSyde at the Daily Kos lists the “Top 10 Signs You Might Not Be A Libertarian.” It captures the silliness of the claims some people make – especially those who only fled the label “Republican” as George W. Bush became less popular:

[I]f you think government should stay the hell out of people’s private business — except when kidnapping citizens and rendering them to secret overseas torture prisons, snooping around the bedrooms of consenting adults, policing a woman’s uterus, or conducting warrantless wire taps, you are no Libertarian.

Check it out. Funny, yet true – the best combination.

Barack Obama Liberalism National Security Politics The Opinionsphere The War on Terrorism

Why Liberals Must Embrace the Wars Against Terrorism (cont.)

[digg-reddit-me]Yesterday, I posed this blog entry on my Daily Kos account.

After my disastrous entry into the kosphere in which I was attacked as a “Republican in disguise”  a freeper and a troll back in 2004, my posts in the past year have been very well received. Markos Moulisantos, the founder of the Daily Kos, has linked to this site approvingly twice in his entries. One of my diary entries at the Daily Kos adapted from a blog post was linked to by a main poster there as an unheralded but interesting story generating a lot of traffic. My piece on “How the War on Drugs War Making America Less Safe from Terrorism” was well-accepted as well, even if it received little attention. Various other pieces have been positively received.

Which only made me more frustrated at the response my latest piece received: “Why Liberals Must Embrace the Wars Against Terrorism,” only loosely adapted from a blog post of the same name from yesterday. It was evident that many of the commentors did not find the time to actually read the article before commenting. The title itself was enough to set them off. Quite a number of the commentors went on to “criticize” my piece by reciting some of the very points I emphasized – for example how the Bush administration had done a poor job in it’s ‘War on Terror’. Others made great presumptions about what I meant – for example, presuming I was attacking Obama’s recent actions which I actually think are essential and which a close or even sympathetic reading of the piece would reveal.  Then there were the more substantial disagreements: Some commentors condemned war entirely. Some belittled the threat from terrorism. Some made the case that terrorism was blowback for America’s sins. A number of responses centered around calling the struggle against terrorism a war – asking when this war would be over; who would sign the peace treaty to end the war; how one can have war against a method.

Some of these responses raise points I intended to discuss in the piece, but instead shorthanded due to it’s length – specifically, the facts dealing with the seriousness of the threat of terrorism and the questions about the nature of this war, should it be called a war. This lead one commentor to say that the piece wasn’t thought out – when in fact they meant that it did not fully convey an entire worldview in a manner that could not be misconstrued. To that I plead guilty.

To give an idea though of what I think a liberal approach to the Wars Against Terrorism would be, where my thinking leads me to end up, here’s a partial list of some things Obama should do:

  • Close Guantanamo. Which Obama has already started on.
  • Stop torturing prisoners. Which Obama has already ordered.
  • Reach out to our allies. Which Obama seems to be doing.
  • Reach out to the publics of the Middle East. In which this is a good first step.
  • Kill or capture bin Laden. This is one of those, “Of course” things. But imagine the symbolism of Barack Hussein Obama finally bringing Osama bin Laden to justice.
  • Flip Iran. After September 11 and the invasion of Iraq, Iran sent America a detailed proposal for comprehensive negotiations to resolve bilateral differences. In an act of stupendous stupidity, the Bush administration ignored it. Since then despite growing rancor between American and Iran, Iran exercised it’s influence in Iraq to assist the Surge by tamping down Shia violence. Iran’s and America’s interests in the region can complement one another once an overall agreement has been reached. Obama has indicated he is willing to meet with the Iranian leadership within his first year in office – but elections are coming up in June of this year. Whether Obama should send an emissary to influence who the Guardian Council allows to run in the elections or whether he makes some sort of appeal to the Iranian people, he should work to flip Iran. It would be the biggest foreign policy coup since Nixon went to China.
  • Keep up the pressure on “the nexus” – or the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and Pakistan more generally. Pakistan now seems to be home to the resurgent Al Qaeda. Pakistan was also at the center of the international market in nuclear technology that A. Q. Khan ran until after September 11. Greater minds than mine will need to figure out exactly what needs to be done here – but it must be the focus of our international efforts to combat terrorism.
  • Engage in public and transparent debate about strategy in the struggle against terrorism – while maintaining secrecy about tactics when necessary.
  • Establish a new legal framework that acknowledges the unique threat posed by strategic terrorism, the vulnerability of our society, and weapons of mass destruction. Some things to take into account: The consequences of letting an ordinary criminal go are far less serious than letting a terrorist go; punitive measures that are supposed to deter crime (The death penalty, for example, doesn’t deter someone who wants to be a martyr like Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.); law enforcement focuses on prosecution and punishment rather than prevention, when counterterrorism measures must do the reverse.)
  • And finally, there must be a reckoning for the illegal activities and the attacks on the rule of law of the Bush administration. An independent prosecutor would be fine. (I like the suggestion of Patrick Fitzgerald.) A truth commission would be better than nothing. But in some way, these people must be brough to account – not out of a desire for revenge, but as the only way to preserve our way of life come another emergency situation like September 11.

This isn’t a complete strategy. This only a list of steps – and some of them are still vague. The overarching idea though must be to take seriously what I believe is the existential threat of terrorism to our way of life – to a system of open borders, open markets, free exchange of technology and information, civil liberties, and unprecedented opportunity. This war must be a war to protect a free state and a free system – which means that counterrorism measures can be as contrary to the war aim as much as terrorism itself.

Election 2008 Obama Politics The Clintons

The Kitchen Sink

Clinton partisans have said that Obama has run a vicious campaign and attacked her unfairly.  Obama partisans have said the same about Clinton’s campaign.  In the scheme of things, each candidate benefited from some of the less savory aspects of America.  And the candidates themselves have stayed mainly within typical intra-party bounds in their criticisms.

But I think the best illustration of the difference between the two campaigns is this list written by davefromqueens over at the Daily Kos of “35 Things the Obama Campaign Never Did.”  Obama has run a hard-nosed campaign but he showed a very classy and winning restraint as well.  I don’t think anyone can come up with a similar list of attacks the Clinton campaign didn’t launch.

Election 2008 Obama Politics The Clintons

Waiting on Pennsylvania

I’m nervous as the citizens of Pennsylvania vote and the rest of us await the results. The numbers have been pored over by everyone, and have already been pre-spun in a dozen different ways. Kos predicts an 8 point spread, which is well within the range of the polls. His main reason is that such a result would not resolve anything – which would be in keeping with how this race is going. I think that’s the safe bet.

My feeling – my gut feeling, based on nothing in particular, and everything in general – is that the race will be a lot closer. I’m predicting that the race will be within 3 points – with either candidate in the lead in the popular vote, and Obama winning a slightly larger number of delegates.

Worth reading as we await the results:

The excellent endorsement of the Philadelphia Daily News:

It would not be content with eking out slim victories by playing to the narrow interests of the swing voters of the moment while leaving the rest of the country as deeply divided as ever. Instead, an Obama administration would seek to expand the number of Americans who believe that they have a personal stake in our collective future – and that they have the power to change things.

It would motivate them to hold their representatives accountable for making it happen. That is, after all, the only way to get us out of Iraq, to address global warming, to make us energy-independent. It’s the only way to resist the forces arrayed against providing universal health care, rebuilding our infrastructure and returning our schools to world-class status. It’s the only way to give our children the means to compete with children in other parts of the world who are healthier, better-educated and have more opportunities than many of our own.

An Obama administration would be freer of the the corrupting influence of big-money donors and corporate interests. Obama has raised $240 million overall, with half coming in contributions of less than $200. People who contribute to political campaigns can feel they “own” a candidate and so Obama would owe allegiance to the wide swath of America that has financed his campaign.

Based on his experience in running a quarter-billion-dollar enterprise with thousands upon thousands of volunteers, we could expect an Obama administration to be well-managed and cost-effective, with the president choosing forward-thinking advisers committed to his program, demanding that they work as a team and pay attention to details.

He would be steady and calm, given neither to irrational exuberance or outbursts of anger. He would make mistakes, that’s for sure, but he could be expected to recognize them, adjust, and move forward.

He would adjust his views to reality rather than trying to adjust reality to his views…

As New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has said, Obama is a once-in-a-lifetime candidate who has the skill and eloquence to help us raise our eyes and our aspirations beyond individual, personal concerns, beyond religion or region or race or gender, beyond our well-founded fears to a shared destiny.

Most candidates claim that they will change the way business is done in Washington. Barack Obama has made us believe that, yes, he can.

The Financial Times of London explains why the Democrats must choose Obama.

Mr Obama has fought a brilliant campaign, out-organising his opponent, raising more money, and convincing undecided Democrats as well as the country at large that he was more likeable, more straightforward and more worthy of trust.

On form, he is a spell-binding orator and holds arena-sized audiences in thrall. He is given to airy exhortations, it is true, but genuinely seeks consensus and has cross-party appeal.

Mrs Clinton’s campaign, in contrast, has been a shambles…

The US has the urge to be inspired a little. Electing the country’s first woman president ought to be very inspiring. But not this woman – with her dynastic baggage and knack for antagonising the undecided – running against this man.

The Democratic party has waited an awfully long time for a politician like Barack Obama. Enough already.

The National Journal meanwhile writes that Obama’s campaign may well be considered the first of the 21st century:

The change is still incipient, but the unprecedented scale of the Clinton-Obama race suggests that presidential politics may be moving from the television-based network era to an Internet-based networked era in which candidates who can attract and inspire vast networks of supporters will enjoy potentially decisive advantages over those who cannot.

Many observers in both parties think that Obama has seized the advantage over Clinton and moved to the brink of winning their party’s nomination largely because he has aligned his campaign with the bottom-up principles of the networked era, while Clinton initially sought to run a more traditional, top-down campaign. Obama’s success against a rival who began the race with overwhelming advantages by most customary yardsticks—name identification, support from elected officials, and the backing of an established nationwide roster of donors—may go down in history as the tipping point in the way that presidential campaigns are organized and executed.