Posts Tagged ‘Talking Points Memo’

Protesters Bring Missiles to Ground Zero

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

With a closeup of the sign:

Rachel Slajda of Talking Points Memo reports that the missiles seen being dragged around Ground Zero have been donated by an ad agency that recommissions missiles for advertising purposes.

One of the websites listed on the missiles — WhatDoYouMakeOfThis.com — is an error-filled diatribe by the owner of the ad agency, JetAngel, Arye Sachs. He repeats a number of the errors I tried to correct in my piece on “Fighting the Lies, Damned Lies, and Paranoia” about Cordoba House. On the positive side, the poll on his site shows majority support for what he insists on calling the ‘Ground Zero Mosque.”

Can we agree that the circus atmosphere and blatant bigotry of these protests disrespects the sacred ground near Ground Zero far more than a community center and mosque run by a patriotic Sufi Muslim?

[First set of images found on LGF; second image on Gawker by Mark Borden of Fast Company.]

And it was said that bloggers shall inherit the earth.

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

A bit under the weather – but not with swine flu apparently. That accounts for the lack of Tuesday blogging.

So, let me briefly blog about…..blogging. Ezra Klein chews on something I’ve been thinking about, as I set my opinions into the public domain day after day, with my name attached to it.

As the Internet becomes more and more pervasive and job applicants have a longer and longer paper trail, prospective employers are going to have to overlook a public record containing opinions that, in previous eras, they would never have seen, and would never have tolerated.

Klein’s reflections note that both he (who had criticized and is now employed by the Washington Post) and economist Willem Buiter (who blogged extremely harsh things about Citibank and has now been hired to be their chief economist) support this hopeful point.

And Andrew Sullivan highlighted a Choire piece observing a little-noticed but significant event – as Joshua Micah Marshall, blogger for Talking Points Memo and Peabody Award Winner has now hired a publisher for his blog.

My friend’s point was: here is an editor, who built and owns his publication, who is now going to be the editor-owner, who will employ the publisher. For those of you who have worked at any sort of publication, the implications of this are staggering…[I]t’s high time media publishing—where, nearly everywhere across the industry, the business side that has failed so utterly at its duties is currently squeezing every last bit of blood out of editorial—tried something different.

And it was said that bloggers shall inherit the earth.

Reacting to Obama’s Nobel Prize

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Andrew Sullivan has the “reax.”

Two struck home for me. Mickey Kaus and Joshua Micah Marshall.

Kaus:

Turn it down! Politely decline. Say he’s honored but he hasn’t had the time yet to accomplish what he wants to accomplish. Result: He gets at least the same amount of glory–and helps solve his narcissism problem and his Fred Armisen (‘What’s he done?’) problem, demonstrating that he’s uncomfortable with his reputation as a man overcelebrated for his potential long before he’s started to realize it. …

I’m not sure Obama can really do this – but on principle it seems the right thing.

Marshall:

This is an odd award. You’d expect it to come later in Obama’s presidency and tied to some particular event or accomplishment. But the unmistakable message of the award is one of the consequences of a period in which the most powerful country in the world, the ‘hyper-power’ as the French have it, became the focus of destabilization and in real if limited ways lawlessness. A harsh judgment, yes. But a dark period. And Obama has begun, if fitfully and very imperfectly to many of his supporters, to steer the ship of state in a different direction. If that seems like a meager accomplishment to many of the usual Washington types it’s a profound reflection of their own enablement of the Bush era and how compromised they are by it, how much they perpetuated the belief that it was ‘normal history’ rather than dark aberration. [my emphasis]

Matt Drudge is claiming that Obama will “accept award on ‘behalf of Americans and America’s values’…” That seems like his best bet to me, so it’s not surprising they landed on it.

Kathryn Lopez of National Review meanwhile has been (like many other right wingers) tweeting many different bitter sentiments – but this one struck me as true:

@kathrynlopez: from a friend: “I feel as if the Onion has really overdone it today. And everyone fell for it.”

In the end, the award would have made more political sense after some accomplishment – but the reasoning behind the award is sound. As the Nobel Committee wrote:

Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play…Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future…For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman…

The Nobel Prize for Peace then is not awarded for some tangible accomplishment, but rather as an endorsement of  an approach. This isn’t how we see the other Nobel awards – which reflect either a lifetime of achievement or some great achievement in some particular field which creates the confusion.

It creates a rather high class problem for Obama as he tries to figure out how to manage these expectations. I’m not sure giving the award now was a good political decision by the committee. And my first reaction was incredulity. But if you remove the expectation that this award is about some great accomplishment, then it makes sense.

[Image not subject to copyright.]

The Scowcroft Conspiracy

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Not quite a conspiracy – but Joshua Micah Marshall just reported on the final piece of the puzzle I seem to have been missing  that helps explain:

  • the endorsement of Obama by Colin Powell;
  • the constant chatter about keeping Bob Gates on as Defense Secretary since at least September; and
  • the tacit support of Obama by Chuck Hagel – from his criticisms of McCain during the election to his accompanying Obama on his European tour during the campaign.

The final piece being – Brent Scowcroft (h/t Andrew Sullivan), the former National Security Advisor under Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush and a former Lieutenant General in the Air Force, and a guy so personally close to George H. W. Bush that he co-wrote Bush’s memoirs with him.

Hagel, Powell, and Gates all have been close allies of Scowcroft, especially in fighting against neo-conservatives in the George W. Bush administration. And he has apparently been working behind-the-scenes with Obama and his foreign policy team since the summer at latest.

Indeed, the roots of this defection of foreign policy realist Republicans to the Obama camp can probably be seen in this April 2008 article in the New York Times in which Lawrence Eagleburger, of the realist camp himself, describes a battle going on for McCain’s “soul” between the realist and neoconservative Republican foreign policy camps. By the summer, it became pretty clear which side had won that battle – as McCain embraced one neoconservative position after another and surrogates claimed he wanted to “kill the United Nations.”

By the summer, Scowcroft had begun to unofficially advise the Obama campaign; there was talk of Bob Gates staying on at Defense; Senator Hagel began to criticize McCain while praising Obama; and Powell decided to endorse Obama publicly.

Bush-McCain Refuses to Make Tough Foreign Policy Choices

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Last night, Barack Obama said:

You don’t defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq.

Joe Biden, in a 2004 interview with Joshua Marshall of the Talking Points Memo, made a similar point, but in a more roundabout way that encapsulates some portion of the difference between the two men and their approach to speaking:

No, I really mean it, ask Norm [communication director Norm Kurz]. I mean Norm’s had to sit through, listening to me in all these things. This is the point that I was trying desperately to make to my colleagues and I tried to articulate it on Stephanopoulos’ show. The fundamental flaw in the neo – forget flaw, the fundamental difference between Joe Biden, John Kerry on the one hand, and the neoconservatives on the other is that they genuinely believe – I’ll put it in the negative sense – they do not believe it is possible for a sophisticated international criminal network that will rain terror upon a country, that has the potential to kill 3,000 or more people in a country, can exist without the sponsorship of a nation state. They really truly believe – and this was the Axis of Evil speech – if you were able to decapitate the regimes in Iran, Iraq, North Korea, you would in fact dry up the tentacles of terror. I think that is fundamentally flawed reasoning. If every one of those regimes became a liberal democracy tomorrow, does anybody think we wouldn’t have Code Orange tomorrow in the United States? Rhetorical question. Does anybody think we don’t have to worry about the next major event like Madrid occurring in Paris or Washington or Sao Paulo? Gimme a break. But they really believe this is the way to do it. [My emphasis.]

Richard Haas, President of the Council of Foreign Relations, has been making the point in broader terms – explaining that we have moved from a unipolar world in which America’s power in every sphere was unrivaled to a nonpolar world in which power is decentralized – and many large corporations have more power than states and local power often trumps world power. Haas sees America as the single greatest power on earth – but rather than understanding the entire world as a system of countries, he sees a vastly more complicated power structure – where a loosely organized band of a few hundred can change the course of the world, and corporations operate according to their own interest rather than national interest; and large countries can exert influence in their backyard without American retaliation (as China and Russia proved recently).

McCain and Bush just don’t get these two realities of the world we live in today – a world in which power is decentralized and not exclusively held in nation-states and a world in which America cannot impose it’s will everywhere all of the time. They act as if we have the power to force our will upon every nation and organization. They do not believe we need to choose between Russia’s cooperation on terrorism-related issues and expanding NATO to Georgia and the Ukraine. They believe we can do both. They do not believe invading Iraq took away resources from Afghanistan – because we can do both. Their is an unreality in these positions, a determined insistence that refuses to make the tough strategic choices that foreign policy is about. That cowardice is at the heart of the Bush-McCain foreign policy. They do not acknowledge the central truth that drove America’s greatest foreign policy successes – in World War II and in the first years of the Cold War:

We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized.

They insist instead on our absolute power and on our moral purity. Coupling this with a mistaken view of the nation-state as all-powerful, a view substantially at odds with the titular Republican position of focusing on the power of individuals and corporations over that of government, they led us into Iraq, and now they are playing games of brinkmanship with Iran and Russia, in the vain hope that neither sees how weak our hand has become since we invaded Iraq.

7 Reasons Why Hillary Should Not Be the VP

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Although I was never crazy about the idea, there was a time – several weeks ago now – when I considered the idea of an Obama-Clinton ticket to be a potentially good idea. Andrew Sullivan’s excellent column floating the idea moved me somewhat – even as I tended to think that Senator Jim Webb would be a better choice. I had thought of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s description of Lincoln’s genius in organizing his “team of rivals” even before Sullivan mentioned it. And I thought that Obama could pull it off if any politician today could. But Maureen Dowd’s description of Obama’s and Clinton’s interpersonal dynamic struck me as accurate enough, and Clinton continued to campaign – standing up for her supporters – “hard-working white people”; comparing her efforts to de-legitimatize the process of delegate selection she at first endorsed to abolition; and in general acting as if Obama’s nomination were not only a personal affront to her but the end of the Democratic party.

So, I’ve soured on the idea. Here’s seven reasons why Hillary Clinton should not be chosen as Obama’s vice presidential running mate:

  1. From Rachel Maddow on MSNBC’s Inside the War Room just a few minutes ago:
  2. [It would be] very awkward for a vice presidential candidate to be on a presidential candidate’s ticket after she has made repeated references to his potential death. Yes, that would be weird.

  3. It will undermine the rationale behind Obama’s candidacy and make Obama look weak. As Reihan Salam of The Atlantic wrote:

    A backroom deal with Clinton would make a mockery of Obama’s language of hope and change. It would make Obama appear weak, and it would reward Clinton for running a campaign more vicious than anything Lee Atwater could have cooked up. More importantly, Obama would be choosing a fundamentally weak and unpopular running mate who has masked her marked executive inexperience through endless misrepresentation of her role in the Clinton White House – a role that begins and ends with a healthcare debacle that would have gotten anyone other than a First Lady fired.

    Or, to put it as John Edwards did:

  4. She doesn’t put a single state or demographic group on the board for Obama.
    She is a highly polarizing figure. The demographic splits in the primaries so far have been best explained by the Peabody award-winning Josh Marshall over at the Talking Points Memo: The only areas where Hillary has decisively beaten Obama are in the Appalachian region of the country. But Hillary is far from the best candidate to appeal to this group. Former Senator John Edwards, Governor Ed Rendell, Governor Ted Strickland, and especially Senator Jim Webb all would seem to have greater appeal to the Scotch-Irish Reagan Democrats of the Appalachia. Clinton’s base is entirely in the Democratic party where she is relatively popular, while Obama has substantial support among independents and even some Republicans. That is why Clinton has done better in closed primaries than ones open to independents or all parties (at least until Rush Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos gained traction).
  5. Bill.
  6. She’s run a terrible campaign so far. Would she run a better campaign if she trying to win for Obama?
    Her campaign is already $21,000,000.00 in debt. She squandered enormous institutional and name recognition advantages. Does anyone still remember that she was the prohibitive favorite before “a skinny kid with a funny name” expertly managed one of the hardest fought campaigns in history?
  7. She shouldn’t be rewarded for trying to bully her way onto the ticket (after being told no “politely but straightforwardly and irrevocably“, threatening an “open civil war“) and for her bullying tactics during the rest of the campaign (threatening to withhold funds from the DNC; attacking Nancy Pelosi; lying about Obama’s record on abortion, NAFTA, and other issues; using voter suppression tactics in Nevada and Iowa; and undermining the legitimacy of the delegate selection process she agreed to when she thought it was to her benefit.)
  8. Her sense of entitlement.

As a bonus:

Hillary’s not going to help Obama win in November. Let’s get on to the main event already.

Drop out, Senator, and settle for becoming the next Secretary of Defense or a Supreme Court Justice.

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