Re: The Democrat Class

1

Who the heck is Shailagh Murray and why is she the Devil?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:21 PM
horizontal rule
2

Click the link in the quoted section.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:23 PM
horizontal rule
3

Ah... that works. Shows that sometimes it helps to click links rather than just assuming you know where they go. I had figured you were linking to today's Atrios, which annoyed me with its lack of context...


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:28 PM
horizontal rule
4

if i try really, really hard, i can almost persuade myself that pelosi is playing sensible moderate, while secretly giving this guy encouragement to push the boundaries.

since, after all, that's what the republicans have been doing for decades--cultivating their wing-nuts, urging them on to say more and more outrageous things, so the leaders can preen on their gravitas and sobriety.

ah, fuck it. it's a lie. delay never rebuked coulter. gingrich never rebukes limbaugh. it's just pelosi acting like a complete tactical ninny and dupe.

so depressing.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:30 PM
horizontal rule
5

And Pelosi started out with such promise... When exactly did she get her backbone-ectomy?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:32 PM
horizontal rule
6

At the risk of sounding like a moderate, the quoted section link makes Murray look like someone who aware of the repercussions of our actions in Iraq and is willing to challenge the assumptions of the questioner. Isn't that what we look for in reporters?

Although the dentist crack is a little condescending...


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 5:54 PM
horizontal rule
7

Why do you think democrats are able to do well at fundraising?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 6:01 PM
horizontal rule
8

The Democratic Party elite for the most part is the enemy as much as the Republicans, if you're at all concerned about the Wars on Iraq and Afghanistan or at all leftist domestically. They've let the Republicans do their dirty work for them while playing the part of opposition in the expectation that once things get too bad even for mr and mrs clueless american, they'll get into power without having too let themselves be pushed too far to the left.

These are people who are on the side of the rich, often are pretty darn rich themselves, who are just as corrupt as their opponents, only less stupid, less sexually frustrated and more willing to serve the system and less wanting to profit personally.

Do not count on any of the expended presidental powers the Bush regime put in place to go away.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 6:33 PM
horizontal rule
9

Obama is the only one I would even envision giving up any of the expanded presidential powers, due to his goody-goody Constitution fundamentalism. Hillary, on the other hand, is probably already having people extraordinarily rendered, just to practice for the real thing.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 6:58 PM
horizontal rule
10

All of the various conversations about the dissapointing nature of the Democratic Party (not, as this post reminds us, necessarily "Democrats") reminds me of a comment that a wise friend once made to me.

"The Democratic Party is too large and powerful to leave it to the assholes."

It is inevitable with any large organization that controls power that there will be a number of people in the organization who like power, actively pursue it, and are utterly incompetant at using it well when they have it, this includes business, and political parties.

The response can't just be abandoning the organization, it has to include an element of trying to figure out what can be done to help promote better people within the organization.

I have no ideas, but I'm just saying the existence of assholes or incompetants close to the levers of power can't be a surprise.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:08 PM
horizontal rule
11

10: Same goes for the Republicans, then!


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 7:41 PM
horizontal rule
12

9: I think Dodd would be willing to roll back some powers as well, he's really been pushing the whole "our government should work within the powers granted to it by the Constitution" meme. Of course, he has a snowballs chance in hell of getting the nomination.

Dodd would make a great Senate Majority Leader, though. I'm done with Harry Reid.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:09 PM
horizontal rule
13

Pelosi and Reid have been the biggest disappointments I could possibly have imagined. If the Democrats had 100 Pete Starks, we'd be making some progress.

Ogged and I emailed about this the other night, and it isn't violating off-blog sanctity if I only quote myself, right?

"Yeah, I know. But, goddamn. It's such a simple game and our side is so, so terrible at it. It's like getting the easy side of the question in Quiz Bowl, but all the rest of your team is drawn from the special ed class. God, I just want to go slap people."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:29 PM
horizontal rule
14

13: I remember a thread earlier about politicians being assholes. I have no problem with politicians being rude or unfair or ruthless when representing the interests of their constituents. But this is basically the opposite problem. One side refuses to be unfair, ruthless, or even to take the opposite position from their opponents. So what are they doing? Trying to form a coalition government between the centrist, socialist and moderate parties so the Prime Minster can have solid backing for his reforms?

Do they know what their goals should be?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:41 PM
horizontal rule
15

I am---right this very moment!---wearing a Barack Obama t-shirt, but I do really like Chris Dodd. Both Hillary and Bill are too fond of executive power for my comfort.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 8:58 PM
horizontal rule
16

Yeah, for my money, Dodd is a lose second after Edwards.

Unfortunately, my money doesn't seem to buy much.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:09 PM
horizontal rule
17

close second.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:10 PM
horizontal rule
18

10: Same goes for the Republicans, then!

In theory yes, in practice I worry that the assholes may have won that battle already.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:18 PM
horizontal rule
19

Obama/Dodd '08! Vote for the ticket with the most Os!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:25 PM
horizontal rule
20

the ticket with the most Os!

Indeed! For as Yatromanolakis writes, The easiest and at once most gratifying is the Greek letter O (Omicron) whereby the amorous couple curl gladly and idly the one around the other and copulate ceaselessly and pleasurably..


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:28 PM
horizontal rule
21

Am I the only one whose inner narrator renders every Atrios post "in almost hysterical voice"?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:29 PM
horizontal rule
22

Obama/Dodd '08!

As much as I want to like Obama, he strikes me on some level as being pretty much in the Reid/Pelosi mold. Not a confronter.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:34 PM
horizontal rule
23

Not a confronter.

But, dude, he wouldn't be the leader of a bitterly divided Congress. He'd be President. And I think, or at least hope, that he'd be a decent one.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:39 PM
horizontal rule
24

How many senators in my own party have I wished cancer upon lately? I've lost track.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:39 PM
horizontal rule
25

Adam Kotsko: due to his goody-goody Constitution fundamentalism.

Riiiight. That's why he's fought like a tiger to restore habeas, to roll back the Military Commissions Act, to prevent telecom immunity for warrantless spying on Americans...


Posted by: Nell | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:44 PM
horizontal rule
26

I think they must feel the next election is theirs to lose, and are being very cautious. I'm sure there's an understanding of the risk of de-energizing the base, of not having anything positive, but the election is still 13 months away, and it's still to early to set up the issues for the necessary traction.

I think this is sane, if dispiriting. The margins aren't big enough, particularly in the Senate, and Republicans don't seem to see any advantage in breaking off. So we're stuck, waiting.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:52 PM
horizontal rule
27

But, dude, he wouldn't be the leader of a bitterly divided Congress.

He would be a president facing a bitterly divided Congress. And without an LBJ-style asskicker to get those cretins to act like something mattered for once in their careers, I have just about zero confidence in a Democratic Congress to do anything but carry on their award-winning ankle-grabbing routine, no matter what the margins of majority.

I don't know that anybody in the field has really demonstrated that sort of arm-twisting, crotch-punching prowess but the country desperately needs it. The current leaders of our party are a goddamned disgrace.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 9:59 PM
horizontal rule
28


I'm unhappy with the Democrats, but I think their dilemma is tougher than folks here allow. As ogged points out in the original post, the media in this situation is toxic.

Imagine a basketball game where the refs let the other side hack, but call your team every time you make contact. One rational response is Pelosi's response - try to avoid making contact.

That said, I do think Pelosi is wrong. It's not a matter of taking on the Republicans. It's a matter of taking on the media. Mostly, it's got to be citizens who do that, but the politicians have to play a role, too.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:10 PM
horizontal rule
29

I don't know that anybody in the field has really demonstrated that sort of arm-twisting, crotch-punching prowess but the country desperately needs it.

Let's face it, if you did find such a candidate, you wouldn't vote for her.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:11 PM
horizontal rule
30

One rational response is Pelosi's response - try to avoid making contact.

But she isn't trying to avoid making contact. The contact has already been made. She's just calling her teammates assholes now.

Let's face it, if you did find such a candidate, you wouldn't vote for her.

If I did find such a candidate, I most certainly would. But if you think the endlessly rightwardly triangulating HRC is that candidate, then we are talking past one another.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:17 PM
horizontal rule
31

If I did find such a candidate, I most certainly would.

I know you would. That was really just a joke for the sake of the pronoun, which cracked me up, at least.

But if you think the endlessly rightwardly triangulating HRC is that candidate, then we are talking past one another.

Actually, I think you're a bit out of date on this. Note Tim Russert vs. Hillary on torture. As Tim pointed out, Hillary's hubby triangulated on torture. Hillary did not.

Moreover, Hillary had the good sense to steal Edwards' health care plan.

No, like you, I don't trust her. She's pretty fucked up on Iraq. Unfortunately, Obama and Edwards have been moving in her direction on that. Given those realities, I actually am no longer prepared to rule out the possibility that I will vote for Kucinich - or Hillary.

But she isn't trying to avoid making contact. The contact has already been made. She's just calling her teammates assholes now.

If she backed Stark - or failed to denounce him - the media would have piled on. She's in damage-control mode.

Ultimately I'm quibbling, because I agree with you that her approach is the wrong one. But I do really think it's a tough situation for her, and I'm prepared to concede that in the short and medium term, she might be doing the right thing.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:24 PM
horizontal rule
32

"What Pete Stark said is 100% correct and the Republicans' clutching their pearls and collapsing on their fainting couches over this is just one more indication that they have no ideas whatsoever."

This isn't hard.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:29 PM
horizontal rule
33

I'm just catching up to the original post.

Something puzzles me:

Pelosi chastised Stark for saying something rather intemperate and overblown. I'll repeat it yet again:

"You don't have money to fund the war or children," Stark accused Republicans. "But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

That's a little hysterical.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but around these parts, we don't encourage that kind of hysterical, overblown rhetoric. Do we?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:29 PM
horizontal rule
34

Honestly, it's only a tough situation for Pelosi because she keeps playing the other side's game. How much damage did the GOP take for refusing to even address Limbaugh's "fake soldiers" comment? None. They just ignored it and let the next issue come along and fill the headlines. That works.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:32 PM
horizontal rule
35

That's a little hysterical.

But true. What have the Democrats won by being temperate so far?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:34 PM
horizontal rule
36

Apo it is sad that we should have to be so shrill, no?

But yeah, boy, way to sit and spin, leadership. Not like there's any reason to push back on anything.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:38 PM
horizontal rule
37

Apo it is sad that we should have to be so shrill, no?

Doesn't make me sad; I'm still trying to rationalize away the fact that I haven't started burning shit down. The national party ought to be shoving every GOP crook and pedophile onto the front page of the news every single day between now and November 2008. They ought to be beating President 24% Approval Rating with his stupid-ass unpopular war from sunup to sundown. Instead, they are voting to condemn MoveOn.org for bad puns and their own members for stating the fucking obvious.

What passes for an opposition party in this country makes the Washington Generals look like the '88 Lakers.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:45 PM
horizontal rule
38

This isn't hard.

I'm trying to summon the energy to argue that doing the right thing in this case is, in fact, hard. I was thinking of describing the media scenario if Pelosi behaved as you propose. In the short run, it wouldn't work out well for Pelosi, and it especially wouldn't work out well for Democrats in her caucus in swing districts.

But my heart just isn't in expending effort on that argument because I really do think that in the long run you're right.

However, I will say this: in the absence of real public pressure on the media, what Pelosi does is going to be relatively unimportant.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:53 PM
horizontal rule
39

I didn't read 37 before writing 38. Apo catches what I think is the real takeaway here:

I'm still trying to rationalize away the fact that I haven't started burning shit down.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 10:57 PM
horizontal rule
40

what Pelosi does is going to be relatively unimportant

In the same way that any given gallon of water wasn't that destructive during Katrina, sure. And I'm not fighting with you, of course. But I firmly believe that when the Democrats finally get it through their collective skull that the proper answer in 2007 will ALWAYS be "Oh, fuck you already", they will continue to muddle along doing nothing much ever and ceding effective control of the government to the other side.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:00 PM
horizontal rule
41

Also, the site is moving slower than a glacier.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:05 PM
horizontal rule
42

35:

But true.

Apo, sir, it's not true.

Stark said "get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

None of us thinks the war in Iraq is being prosecuted for the president's amusement, or that of his administration. Anyone who says that isn't stating the obvious, but is engaging in hysterical rhetoric. Heat of the moment and all that.

What have the Democrats won by being temperate so far?

Hard to measure, but that doesn't mean they should give up on rational discourse. The way to be vocal and uncompromising is ...

well, good question. How to win an election without compromizing.

I can't believe I'm sounding like an apologist for procedural liberalism.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:05 PM
horizontal rule
43

None of us thinks the war in Iraq is being prosecuted for the president's amusement

We disagree, parsimon.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:07 PM
horizontal rule
44

Listen to Apo everybody.

Fucking Democrats.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:09 PM
horizontal rule
45

42: compromizing s/b compromising

I like the look of the former.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:10 PM
horizontal rule
46

43: I've read such things before, maybe the same ones.

Whether or not GWB is a psychopath, I can't buy that the long slow process of building up an incentive to attack Iraq (through the nascent neocons importuning presidential administrations earlier on) was coincidental. They -- the neocons -- set the stage for this shit. Bush and September 11th were perfect. Bush was placed to be perfect. He's a tool.

So nah. Bush is at best or worse a convenient co-conspirator, but not the driving force.

And, like, the site is dead, right?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:25 PM
horizontal rule
47

All Pelosi had to say was something like: "Mr. Stark may have expressed himself poorly, but he was speaking out of understandable frustration with an administration that has asked us to spend $155 billion on Iraq just this year, while at the same time it refuses to spend an additional $5 billion to cover 40% of America's uninsured children. I share Mr. Stark's frustration over this administration's misplaced priorities, although I wouldn't necessarily characterize them in the same way he did".

Hammer on the message every time you open your mouth.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:25 PM
horizontal rule
48

All Pelosi had to say was something like: "Mr. Stark may have expressed himself poorly,...

AAAARRRRGH


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:29 PM
horizontal rule
49

well, Parsimon is right. He did express himself poorly. Saying that doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is keeping your message -- in this case, the contrast between Iraq spending and underfunded domestic priorities -- front and center at all times. Political rhetoric isn't about sounding like the blogs, it's about convincing people who don't already agree with you.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:33 PM
horizontal rule
50

If only "you don't support the children?" could carry the sort of finality and moral weight that "you don't support the troops?" does....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:35 PM
horizontal rule
51

Political rhetoric isn't about sounding like the blogs, it's about convincing people who don't already agree with you.

We don't have to convince anybody on Iraq or SCHIP. The polls are overwhelmingly in our favor. For christ's sakes Democrats, PRESS YOUR FUCKING ADVANTAGE ALREADY.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:37 PM
horizontal rule
52

Dude, a Republican has to almost personally hang a black man before he'll even consider apologizing "if you were upset." The purpose of certain House members is to say the intemperate stuff we're all thinking. The worst thing the Speaker can do is cut them off at the knees when they do their damn job. I think IDP is right, that they think the election is theirs to lose, and they're being cautious. That's part of my point about their interests not aligning with ours. They'll give up all sorts of issue, like surveillance, habeas, etc. etc., just to keep the Republicans from having issues to run on. Meanwhile, we citizens no longer have habeas or privacy etc. etc.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:38 PM
horizontal rule
53

all right then, political rhetoric is about not unconvincing the great majority of the public who already agree with you.

Stark's rhetorical flourish about the President's amusement is a distraction from the facts, which speak for themselves.

The problem with Pelosi's response is it created a "Pelosi rebukes Stark" headline which is a distraction from the message. The right response keeps the message -- the facts -- front and center. Stark is beside the point.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:40 PM
horizontal rule
54

They'll give up all sorts of issue, like surveillance, habeas, etc. etc., just to keep the Republicans from having issues to run on. Meanwhile, we citizens no longer have habeas or privacy etc. etc.

That's the problem. The FISA vote is a lot more important than the Stark thing.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:42 PM
horizontal rule
55

This president is at Nixon/Watergate levels of popularity. Ditto the Iraq war. And yet, everyone hates the Democrat controlled congress as well. Why is that.?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:44 PM
horizontal rule
56

But part of the job of House members is to set (expand) the limits of debate. If Pete Stark keeps saying the President is a bloodthirsty madman and Pelosi doesn't immediately rebuke him, pretty soon that will be the left-Democrat position and Pelosi can say he's merely "totally irresponsible." It's not just this or that issue; that's one way to build political capital. As it is, if Pelosi calls the president "totally irresponsible," everyone will faint.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:46 PM
horizontal rule
57

Just assume my every comment on this subject carries the Dsquared inspired title of "I shit on the Democrats of this planet."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:48 PM
horizontal rule
58

The lesson the national Democratic Party repeatedly refuses to learn is to STOP APOLOGIZING. Jesus H. Christ, it drives me up a wall.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-07 11:48 PM
horizontal rule
59

56:

ogged, yes, that's how we shift the parameters of the debate.

Earlier I said that I couldn't believe I sounded like an apologist for procedural liberalism: in fact, I can barely stand it. I'd rather work from the fringe inward, by shifting the terms of discourse.

I still wouldn't do it by sounding like a fruitcake, which is what Stark sounded like. Sorry, current middle east policy isn't just the president's adolescent fantasy.

I suppose the question is what we consider Pelosi's job to be. She ain't the boss of them, and all that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 12:08 AM
horizontal rule
60

And by the way. Since it's late and no one's around, I really don't like the "shit on the Democrats of the planet" thing.

55:

And yet, everyone hates the Democrat controlled congress as well.

Stop saying stupid things, swift.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 12:18 AM
horizontal rule
61

Stop saying stupid things, swift.

He's right. Their approval rating is in the toilet. For the president's amusement. ...ladies.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 12:20 AM
horizontal rule
62

I really don't like the "shit on the Democrats of the planet" thing.

Doubtless I'm being intemperate. Maybe you can have Pelosi wag her finger at me.

Stop saying stupid things, swift.

Since your big point is that you don't think the Iraq war is literally "being prosecuted for the president's amusement", maybe you're the wrong person to be throwing the word "stupid" around.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 12:30 AM
horizontal rule
63

Maybe I'll start making a list of the Democrats who get to jump to the head of the line for cancer and/or getting shit on.

In the Senate, Reid ignoring Dodd's hold is is a strong play, but Feinstein and Rockefeller are contenders.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 12:35 AM
horizontal rule
64

I didn't realize the approval rating for the Democratic-run Congress (according to some recent poll(s), I assume) were that bad.

My apologies. I'm interested in that.

To gswift: Basically, if you're going to shit on the Democrats of the planet, I'll ask you whether you voted for Nader. (Disclosure: I did. In a safe state. I haven't heard the end of the grief yet.)

Second to gswift: don't be patronizing. It's unbecoming.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 12:42 AM
horizontal rule
65

Basically, if you're going to shit on the Democrats of the planet, I'll ask you whether you voted for Nader.

No. My total disgust with the party had not fully blossomed.

I don't know if the Greens are the answer. For now though, not a fucking dime to the party. Candidates only, and making special point to give to candidates who do the right thing, like Dodd. Letters to the party saying why they're not getting money.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 12:50 AM
horizontal rule
66

"party" being the Democrats, not the Greens.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 12:50 AM
horizontal rule
67

current middle east policy isn't just the president's adolescent fantasy.

Really? I don't personally believe that it is, but you'd have a hell of a time proving that it isn't. At the very least it's overdetermined. Most major elements of foreign policy today resemble someone's adolescent fantasy.

Regarding the comments in question, I don't agree with them, but I don't regard them as outside the bounds of political rhetoric; if the word "amusement" were replaced with "ego", I'd endorse them. If the other guys routinely accuse us of treason, and accuse a war hero of atrocities and fraud, and that's not out of line, then how is this verboten? The Dems are taking '08 for granted, per 26, but if they put up another year of this shit the election will be Romney's to lose. If the Dems insist on surrendering everything just so they can shred the constitution with a more delicate touch, I will vote for the R just before I'll start burning shit down. I'll be in jail, but they'll be in the minority, and who'll be laughing then, huh? Oh. Hmm.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 3:05 AM
horizontal rule
68

the president's adolescent fantasy

You know, I gotta think that the oil has something to do with it too.

Whatever happened to "No War for Oil", anyway? Has everyone on the center-left just accepted that it is reasonable (and more to the point, that the amorphous middle thinks that it is reasonable) that gigantic wealth transfers and huge body counts are an acceptable price to pay for not-even-very-cheap gasoline? Sorry if I sound like one of those "crazy Greens", but come on, isn't there anyone in the mainstream who can say "making war for the sake of one commodity is foolhardy, inefficient and immoral"?

Sometimes I miss the '90s so much, I can hardly stand it.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 6:29 AM
horizontal rule
69

Y'know, if you folks are interested in moving the Democratic Party away from triangulation and towards standing proudly with progressives, you could take the common sense position of standing proudly with John Edwards for the Presidential nomination.

It's incredibly rare that an opportunity comes along to dramatically move a political party's direction in one fell swoop...


Posted by: Petey | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 6:38 AM
horizontal rule
70

To be fair to the president, it's not the blown-off heads of American soldiers that amuse him so. It's the blown-off heads of whatever Iraqi faction it is we're fighting against this week.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 7:48 AM
horizontal rule
71

69: yeah, it's weird this post started off with all this "Vote for Obama!" stuff when so far as I can tell he has provided very little out-front leadership on these issues. His signature rhetorical theme is calling for an end to partisanship and a new era of cooperation.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 8:13 AM
horizontal rule
72

I like Edwards personally and think he'd be a good president, but his campaign hasn't been run in such a way that makes me think that he's really that much better in the general election than Obama or Clinton. And his reaction to the Shakespeare's Sister/Bill Donohue kerfuffle certainly doesn't make me think he's mastered the art of counterpunching.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 8:28 AM
horizontal rule
73

Hey, "Modern Love" wasn't hopelessly narcissitic today. It was actually sort of moving and honest.

Of course, everyone will probably mock me for saying that.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 8:43 AM
horizontal rule
74

"(Obama's) signature rhetorical theme is calling for an end to partisanship and a new era of cooperation."

Obama is pretty straight Lieberman-ism, only without the neocon foreign policy. Democrats can win half the elections with that kind of rhetoric, but it will never help move the debate onto more favorable terrain.

What makes Edwards a game-changer is his willingness to proudly stand with progressive ideas and causes without the need to mumble his way back to the center.

Winning a general election from that position would immediately shift what the mainstream Democratic Party thinks of as permissible. It would immediately shift what the Beltway thinks of as mainstream.

See what Reagan was able to do for the other side in 1980 for details.


Posted by: Petey | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 8:54 AM
horizontal rule
75

69: I've been clear that I support Edwards, but I try not to belabor it here.

reaction to the Shakespeare's Sister/Bill Donohue kerfuffle

Granted, but the reaction to the Ann Coulter kerfuffle evens that score on my card.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 8:58 AM
horizontal rule
76

"I've been clear that I support Edwards, but I try not to belabor it here."

Belabor it.

The direction of the Democratic Party for the next decade is going to be determined over the next three months.

Now is the moment to risk being tiresome on the subject.


Posted by: Petey | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
77

Will somebody explain to me why I'm not supporting Chris Dodd? Because I can't really remember anymore. This is a serious question, by the way. I've been jumping back and forth between Edwards and Obama for months, telling myself I'll decide when the time comes. And living in a state where nobody is really campaigning, that time won't be come until after the nominee is chosen. Realistically, I'll then support whichever Democrat is nominated.

In the meantime, though, I'm having the hardest time figuring out why Dodd isn't my guy. Not enough money? New England accent makes him unelectable? Dull? Maybe it's all of that. But he sure has been good on the issues. And I'm supposed to care about that, right?


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
78

If the country was ready for Edwards, he would have the nomination wrapped up, or at least have a lead. Do not listen to folks who tell you that the more *popular* liberal is losing to the corrupt moneybags. If Edwards supposedly would be stronger in the general than the primaries, his *hidden* support is not exactly to the left of the Democratic primary voters.

2) Next year is going to be castrophic in foreign policy and the economy. Anybody remember me predicting $100 dollar oil by Christmas? Well by late summer 2008 will see $150 oil and a market crash, probable bad recession.

So a populist would fit like a glove? Wrong. People get scared, they will go a little conservative. Remember, FDR ran on a balanced budget, not as a radical. HRC is the only one who can win in 2008.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
79

78 catastrophic, tho prob should not correct typos


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 10:26 AM
horizontal rule
80

75: The Ann Coulter thing was weak! The problem with Ann Coulter is supposedly personal attacks and she should focus on "the issues"? No, the real problem is that she constantly lies about "the issues!" The personal attacks would actually be fine in my book if they weren't in the service of straight-faced lies.

It was great to see Ann Coulter taken by surprise, but the poor wife with cancer begging her to stop picking on her husband was not the way I ultimately would've played it.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 11:33 AM
horizontal rule
81

77: Seriously, by the time I was paying attention, it was 'clear' that only Clinton, Obama, and Edwards had a 'realistic shot' -- everyone else was running to bring attention to their issues or in case the big three all got hit by the same meteor during a debate. I hate this -- I have the inchoate belief that the determination of who has a 'realistic shot' is more about who's unthreatening to the corporate class than about who voters are actually likely to vote for -- but it's why I haven't thought seriously at all about Dodd.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 11:49 AM
horizontal rule
82

I'm so glad to see people mentioning Edwards again.

Apo & Petey at 76:

"I've been clear that I support Edwards, but I try not to belabor it here."

Belabor it.

This is right. I was sad to hear on the otherwise incredible Bill Moyers Now interview with Jeremy Scahill recently -- replaying tonight, apparently! Scahill is amazing! -- Moyers say, in staging a question to Scahill, something like: "Suppose we're into the next administration, and the President, a President Clinton or Obama says ..."

Clinton or Obama. Oh, Bill.

So yes, Edwards has been marginalized even by the likes of Bill Moyers (I blame Ann Coulter, of course), and the first step to correcting that is to keep bringing him up.

Shit. What do poll results in the recent past say about whether or why the public isn't responsive to Edwards?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 1:15 PM
horizontal rule
83

Beware of Vanguardism. The king follows the people, as the Tao Te Ching might say. This "Edwards will grab the country and force it to the left" or "Obama will bring peace and comity to the warring clans" bullshit is counterproductive.

HRC did not steal from, neither was driven to a health care plan by Edward's courageous vision. The time may or not be right for UHC, but HRC will do what the people force her to do.

You want to move the country to the left, elect councilpersons and congresspersons. Don't masturbate to a religious icon. OOoooh, Johnnnny.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 1:31 PM
horizontal rule
84

I actually agree with bob.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
85

I'm still worried about our moral responsibility not to abandon the Republican party simply because it's currently populated by assholes. I mean, if good people like us don't march through that particular institution, what will ever change?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 1:52 PM
horizontal rule
86

What about masturbating with a religious icon?


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 1:52 PM
horizontal rule
87

HRC will do what the people force her to do.

Like Bush did what the people forced him to do?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 2:18 PM
horizontal rule
88

Don't masturbate to a religious icon. OOoooh, Johnnnny.

That's not the basis of my choice, Bob.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 2:19 PM
horizontal rule
89

HRC will do what the people force her to do.

Mostly I agree with bob, except for the "the people" bit. There is no "the people." There a coalitions of people that are more likely and less likely to allow or force a supported candidate to pursue certain agendas. But some significant number of people always gets left out of the coalition, and usually get at least some of their interests unfairly (or "unfairly," if you'd rather) fucked.

And on that basis alone, it's reasonable to believe that HRC could be the worst of the major candidates and Edwards the best.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 2:30 PM
horizontal rule
90

This "Edwards will grab the country and force it to the left" or "Obama will bring peace and comity to the warring clans" bullshit is counterproductive

We're probably not that dumb, Bob, but the reminder is taken in good faith. I'm under no illusion that Edwards isn't ultimately just as subject to corporate pressures as any other mainstream candidate.

The bit about who's stolen whose health care plan is like the droning of bees in my brain: all these health care plans sorta suck. Hilary's had my jaw dropping when it first hit the airwaves (apparently I hadn't been paying much attention previously).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 2:35 PM
horizontal rule
91

HRC will do what the people force her to do.

The story has been told about her husband that some liberal group was asking him to be more aggressive in support of some position that he was known to sympathize with. He said, "You have to make me."

I can't google up this story anywhere, so I don't remember who the players were, but this sounds about right. I agree with bob.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 2:38 PM
horizontal rule
92

Don't masturbate to a religious icon. OOoooh, Johnnnny.

I'm shocked to see McManus indulging in these fantasies. Perhaps Coulter was not wrong about source of Edwards' attraction. It's those beautiful blonde locks, isn't it Bob?


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 2:39 PM
horizontal rule
93

--On Obama, I think he is unlikely to abuse exec. power, but I also worry that he is too afraid to throw a punch to do what's necessary to deter future presidents from abusing it.

--One way for "the people" to demand Universal Health Care is to show their support for candidates who have the best health care plans. Likewise, we can signal support for the Constitution by supporting Dodd whether or not he has a chance.

--I agree with this, in ogged's post:
"The Democrats are a group of politicians and operatives who have their own needs and motives, and they don't "speak for me;" they're merely more likely to speak in ways to which I'm sympathetic than the Republicans are"

I don't think it's actually inevitable in a representative democracy though. I think it's a specific failing by the group of politicians, operatives, etc. in control of the Democratic party. There is a potential constituency out there for a viable, truly liberal/progressive political party. It's just, for the most part, not represented in Washington. And to the extent that it is represented, it's not by the Democratic party; it's by a combination of individual Democratic politicians, & by civil society groups that are trying to directly influence public opinion & policy. I trust & identify the ACLU, the NRDC, the SEIU, antiwar bloogers, & Human Rights Watch a fucking hell of a lot more than I trust or identify with the Democratic party, & they're also a fucking hell of a lot more use than the Green Party.

The problem w/ looking somewhere other than a political party to represent your political interests is the collection-of-interest-groups that don't have a common narrative & don't have each other's backs critique. Which IS a problem, & is the reason it would be a good thing to have a liberal, political party that could get a lot of good politicians elected. But lately I'm more optimistic about liberal groups finding some other means of having each other's backs than I am about us persuading the Democrats that they need to have all of our backs.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 3:03 PM
horizontal rule
94

93 ctd: or the Greens actually playing some role in elections other than spoiler.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 3:04 PM
horizontal rule
95

Thanks, Katherine. That's all helpful for me, though I remain aggressively lukewarm about Dodd. I really admire him for taking a firm stand on Constitutional issues, especially for his willingness to throw elbows . But I still can't imagine really pushing him as a candidate: meaning talking to friends about sending him money, throwing an event for him, or even wearing a t-shirt. Chris Dodd t-shirts: get 'em while you can; they're flying off the shelves.

Still, your point seems a good one. SEIU pushed all of the Democratic front runners to roll out coherent plans for health care. So which powerful lobby, or part of a powerful lobby, will demand the same on restoration of the Constitution? There are lawyers here, no? Shouldn't such a push come from the ABA? But then we'd have to deal with the red, white, and blue ball. So that might not work.


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 3:31 PM
horizontal rule
96

94 etc:Iron Law of Institutions


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 4:33 PM
horizontal rule
97

#58 forever! Woooo Democrats!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-21-07 8:39 PM
horizontal rule
98

HRC will do what the people force her to do.

ITYM "what the people with the money want her to do".

The voters only count every four years.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 2:58 AM
horizontal rule
99

98 has it right. Bob seems to have been hibernating throughout the 90s, when left-liberals were actively pressuring Clinton to put labor and environmental standards in NAFTA, not destroy welfare, support gay rights, put a moratorium on the death penalty, actually spend some effort pushing for Kyoto, etc. In every instance Clinton did the predictable thing - he ignored the dirty hippies and listened to his center-right advisers, who'd been telling him that everyone who wasn't an upper-middle class white dude could go fuck themselves for most of their political careers. Hillary Clinton isn't going to be any more pliable than her husband, and if she's branded a certain position as "too far to the left" - say, getting out of Iraq, or as she likes to call it, "a precipitous withdrawal" - she'll avoid it like the fucking plague no matter how much The People want it to happen. The way she sees it, she'll still have their votes in the end. And in a country where two thirds of voters disagree with Clinton on the biggest issue of the time, but Bob fucking McManus can still endorse a Clinton presidency, she's right. The People have no power, and, apparently, no clue.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 7:36 AM
horizontal rule
100

Also, Petey's right. Vote Edwards, you fucking turds.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 7:53 AM
horizontal rule
101

Bob fucking McManus can still endorse a Clinton presidency

It does look like Bob is endorsing Hillary. I wonder if that's so.

Anyway, political pressure comes from a lot of directions, and the Right was unambiguously on the ascent in the period you are talking about. To suggest that Bill Clinton got more political pressure from the left than the right - or even that those pressures were roughly equal - doesn't seem correct to me.

Where was the Left when Bill and Hillary were pushing for healthcare or for gays in the military? I'm sure their leftist hearts were in the right place, but certainly the opponents of those proposals weren't feeling much pressure.

So yeah, one answer is to vote for Edwards; but bob's right that all of these folks, including John "Troops-in-Iraq-til-at-least-2012" Edwards, are amenable to political pressure.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
102

As we talk about appropriate methods for pursuing political goals, I thought the NYT had an interesting story weighing Hillary's accommodation of Drudge.

I think this bears directly on what we're talking about here, and I don't think Hillary's answer is obviously wrong. In the long run, people like Drudge have to be either defeated or co-opted. I think there's a strong case to be made that if Drudge is going to be rendered irrelevant, politicians will have a very limited role in making that happen.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
103

I was thinking about this just this morning in the shower. We actually have a pretty good record of what The Left was saying in the 90s. No, Norbizness wasn't blogging yet, but Tom Tomorrow had a weekly cartoon that reads like it was stras' Political Primer. And you know what he spent his time doing? Promoting the same BS, right-wing lies that hamstrung the Clintons for 8 years. Travelgate, Filegate, even Vince R.I.P. Foster - the Left was all too goddamn happy to further rightwing memes if it meant weakening those Evil Clintons.

Nice fucking work, guys.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 9:21 AM
horizontal rule
104

For the president's amusement? Not quite, but pretty fucking close. The war is being prosecuted for the president's near-whimsical impulses, for the unreal intellectual fantasies of a small coterie of advisors, for the sake of concentrating power in the executive as part of a long-game struggle within major administrative satrapies inside the federal government. Amusement isn't quite it, but neither would it be right that the president is prosecuting the war with gravely serious, well-intentioned plans. The commitment to the Iraq War inside the administration has very little to do with the Iraq War: it's about a political war within the domestic American scene, about preventing possible prosecutions for Constitutional and statutory violations, about delusional people protecting their delusions, and so on.

There may be people outside the Administration who care about the Iraq War in terms of its actual geopolitical consequences or even just in terms of operations in Iraq itself. I think some of the military care about it in the latter terms, for example. It's even conceivable that someone could look at the situation as it stands and feel ambivalent about whether withdrawal is actually preferable to continued deployment of troops. But that's not the President and its not his Administration. Feith, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice, and some of the makeshift hacks who've come in to replace those who have left, have been committed to the war for reasons that amount to "amusement", given how divorced those reasons have been from geopolitical reality and genuine idealism, given how lacking in gravitas every single one of them have been.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 9:25 AM
horizontal rule
105

And you know what he spent his time doing? Promoting the same BS, right-wing lies that hamstrung the Clintons for 8 years. Travelgate, Filegate, even Vince R.I.P. Foster - the Left was all too goddamn happy to further rightwing memes if it meant weakening those Evil Clintons.

Yeah, that's specifically bothered me about Tomorrow, whose politics I generally agree with. There's a tendency on the left for people to withdraw the hem of their garments from the bad people who are nominally on our side, rather than wooing and pressuring them to get whatever we can out of them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 9:37 AM
horizontal rule
106

101: The point is that Clinton was never disposed to listening to the Left in the first place. He didn't gut welfare because he was pressured into it by the right; he gutted welfare because he belonged to a right wing of the Democratic Party that had been wanting to gut welfare since the late seventies. Bill Clinton wasn't some empty vessel into which the whims and worries of the electorate were poured; he was a committed neoliberal with preconceived notions of what was effective policy and politics, and those notions were very conservative.

The idea that Hillary Clinton will change her philosophy of government with enough pressure from the public is simply delusional. She comes to the presidency with her husband's advisers, her husband's ideology, and most importantly her husband's money men. And we've seen over the last several years that she's made a determination to concede as little ground as possible to the left on the most prominent issue of the day, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the country is to her left. This should tell you that she will govern much as her husband governed: angling towards the right, trusting that a rightward tack is always the politically expedient move, regardless of the state of the electorate.

103: I have no idea what your point about Tom Tomorrow is. Dan Perkins has always been a bog-standard centrist-liberal, not a "leftist," and his strip was considerably more shallow and less policy-oriented in the 90s (hence the gossipy scandal stuff). If that's your barometer for "The Left," you've never actually met a leftist.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 9:39 AM
horizontal rule
107

the bad people who are nominally on our side

I've decided it's necessary for me to be able to draw lines beyond which I won't go, and won't concede that in people beyond them are "on our side."

Lieberman, and HRC on foreign policy at least, are on the other side of my personal line.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
108

Tom Tomorrow hit Clinton on Vince Foster? I call bullshit on that.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 9:51 AM
horizontal rule
109

those Evil Clintons

And for the record, can you not use language like this to imply that the Clintons were not, in fact, evil, when Bill Clinton in fact had people tortured? That is to say, I believe that to the extent that you can call anyone "evil," "evil" is an excellent description for Bill and Hillary Clinton.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
110

108: You call bullshit on Tom Tomorrow, or on the notion that he harangued Clinton for Vince Foster? I'm not a religious enough reader of his strip to honestly know.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
111

106, 107: See, I'm not disagreeing with either of these things as an estimation of Clinton generally. But I do think that Clinton administration is likely to have more openings where Clinton is willing to support a leftist, or at least acceptable, policy, than a Bush or Giuliani administration (I'm not saying on every issue, or even on most -- just that some such openings are likely to exist), and if she gets elected (which I prefer that she wouldn't), there's a lot of value to being in a good position to exhort and influence her. Which means not jumping on silly gossipy attacks against her, like Tomorrow did in the 90's.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 9:57 AM
horizontal rule
112

And for the record, can you not use language like this to imply that the Clintons were not, in fact, evil, when Bill Clinton in fact had people tortured?

I'm pretty sure every US president has had people tortured, in the sense that he did not make any effort to stop the CIA, military, Bureau of Indian Affairs et al. from doing so. Probably true of all rulers of all powerful countries.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
113

To be fair to Tomorrow, I don't think he referred to Foster in a way that suggested that he actually believed the murder accusations". But he was all over Whitewater and Travelgate and so forth in a 'where there's smoke there's fire' kind of way, which for that class of allegations, there really wasn't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
114

112: And to be fair, I think every president during my lifetime should be tried and convicted for war crimes at the Hague. But Bill Clinton's a war criminal. And he didn't just "fail to stop" the CIA from torturing people. He had the CIA ship people overseas to be tortured by friendly dictators. I don't see how liberals can (rightly) denounce Bush as a monster and then continue to lionize a man ("the Big Dog!") who did the exact same thing.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:13 AM
horizontal rule
115

106: In the interest of comity, I can endorse this:

He didn't gut welfare because he was pressured into it by the right

That's right. In fact, I'll take it a step further and say that this is one area where the Left put up real political pressure, and he fought the Left directly, and won.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:13 AM
horizontal rule
116

I don't see how liberals can (rightly) denounce Bush as a monster and then continue to lionize a man ("the Big Dog!") who did the exact same thing.

Yeah, see, this is where you lose me. The idea that Bush and Clinton were substantively identical on the issue of torture seems so far off the actual facts that I can't even think of a basis for discussion.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:15 AM
horizontal rule
117

Here's a good This Modern World from '96 hitting Clinton. It came after a month of solid Dole strips, so maybe this is just weenie liberal balancing, but it seems like the same from-the-left griping about Hillary that is popular here nowadays.

And he clearly uses Vince Foster as a convenient shorthand for 'Republicans are looney conspiracy-mongers.'


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:18 AM
horizontal rule
118

I wrote a shrill letter to the Washington Post for whitewashing Clinton's rendition policy just this weekend, but I still wouldn't call it identical to Bush's. Bad enough, though, not to be trivialized by saying "oh, torture, all world leaders do that."

I would dearly like to see Hillary asked about this. Some of her husband's former advisors are clearly trying to "rehabilitate" rendition as a good tool that Bush abused, & say: well, maybe SYRIA's assurances can't be trusted, but what about our good buddies Egypt & Jordan? Whether I should impute those views to her campaign, I don't know.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:20 AM
horizontal rule
119

He had the CIA ship people overseas to be tortured by friendly dictators.

Seriously, could you point me to what backs this up? It's not that I find it incredible, but I'm underinformed on this stuff, and that's not what I remember. What I remember is that the Clinton administration engaged in extraordinary rendition in the sense of arresting and delivering fugitives to foreign governments on some occasions, but that the use of extraordinary rendition as a means of using foreign governments to do interrogations on our behalf by means that the US was legally barred from engaging in itself was new in the current administration.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:24 AM
horizontal rule
120

If that's your barometer for "The Left," you've never actually met a leftist.

If a noticeable fraction of readers at Unfogged can go most of their lives without meeting a true leftist, then I think it's safe to say that true leftists are so few in number that politicians would be insane NOT to ignore them.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:25 AM
horizontal rule
121

117: See, three of those four panels are 'where there's smoke there's fire' scandal-mongering. Only the last panel even mentions Clinton's actual politics. Now, his actual politics sucked in very many respects, but they didn't get better because his critics on the left were playing ball with the right wing loons.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:26 AM
horizontal rule
122

98:Who was talking about voting, or only voting, as the "force" of the people? Declining enlistments are an example of the people making their preferences known. Not to speak of barricades & guillotines.

99:"but Bob fucking McManus can still endorse a Clinton presidency, she's right"

We are so incredibly fucked. I fully expect 2008 to be the worst year of my 5+ decade lifetime, not counting personal tragedies. Then it will go downhill from there. I wish Edwards could beat HRC, will vote for him, but am not expecting it. So I can only choose the lesser of the fasci...two evils. Better HRC than Giuliani. Not an endorsement.

My first preference is the barricades, but it is lonely out here.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:30 AM
horizontal rule
123

Yeah, see, this is where you lose me. The idea that Bush and Clinton were substantively identical on the issue of torture seems so far off the actual facts that I can't even think of a basis for discussion.

But that's just it: Clinton initiated the very program of extraordinary rendition that Bush later utilized. Clinton had people tortured. He didn't just look the other way while some CIA black-ops shit was happening somewhere in the third world; he signed off on a program to have information extracted from prisoners via torture, and George Bush made use of the same exact program. That Bush made far more extensive use of the program only demonstrates that the two were in very different circumstances: Bush was given a much freer hand in foreign policy after 9/11, while Clinton lacked Bush's "war on terror" mandate. But I see absolutely no reason to think that Clinton would have behaved much better than Bush has with regards to torture and human rights if he were given multiple open-ended wars to conduct the way Bush has. That Clinton set up his torture program in peacetime, without the excuse of a major military conflict, really says it all.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
124

Dan Perkins has always been a bog-standard centrist-liberal, not a "leftist,"

Do you have any idea what you're talking about on this? Have you read the "Big Book of Tomorrow," which is about 90% of everything he's ever printed? Unless you think that the "bog-standard centrist liberal" position circa 1990 was in favor of single payer nationalized health care, anti-corporate, and calling George HW Bush a war criminal, then you're absolutely wrong. And if you do, in fact, think those positions are "bog-standard centrist liberal," then, um, you're absolutely wrong.

Is he Left in the sense of quasi-Communist? No. Is he to the left of every daily paper in the country and probably 534 out of 535 Representatives? Yes.

Perhaps you would be less angry about Democratic politics if you didn't have a deluded notion of where the "center-left" in the US actually lies. {not saying that I like Dem politics as they are; saying that your critique of it seems dubiously grounded}


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
125

And here's Tomorrow treating Whitewater in a where-there's-smoke-there's-fire way. But I can't disagree with the sentiment of this comic.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
126

And I would note that the comic that neil linked in 117 "hits" the Clintons by strongly suggesting that Whitewater did, in fact, include criminal activity by the Clintons.

Fucking genius.

Nice job, asshole.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
127

I can't help but think that the sentiment in the comic linked in 125 is identical to the Dems and lefties who spent the last 7 years blaming Gore for not running a better campaign. Because, you know, that's the main thing that happened in 2000. Not a concerted effort by the mainstream press to destroy the better candidate. Just as the Gingrich victory in 1994 had nothing to do with everyone - from left to right - deciding that destroying Clinton would be helpful.

The first use by a mainstream outlet of the phrase "failed presidency" to describe Clinton was within 90 days of his inauguration. But, clearly, had he just wanted to, he could have moved the country somewhere just to the right of Sweden.

And now, having lit fires, I must run away to a (potential) client.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:41 AM
horizontal rule
128

Yeah, JRoth, because if there's one thing that the Bush years have taught us, it's that the ruling party and indeed the nation are well-served by commentators reflexively defending the President against any and all criticism. Why, for Tomorrow to have even acknowledged that there was a controversy, he must have been receiving checks from the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

And it's really too bad that the Republicans managed to derail Clinton's presidency by putting his cock in Monica Lewinski's mouth.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
129

119: LB--start here. Clinton rendered people to Egypt. Egypt tortured them (so say the suspects & Egyptian Human Rights orgs, at least; I believe them, given the level of detail, the similarity in the accounts of prisoners described years apart, & Egypt's track record). I think the Clinton administration probably knew it was more likely than not that they would be tortured in Egypt--the State Dep't reports make this clear enough, & CIA agents involved have said that they knew "diplomatic assurances" from Egypt that suspects wouldn't be tortured were worthless. Sending someone to a country where there is a high risk of torture is a violation of Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture.

There were some differences between the practice under Clinton & Bush: (1) they seemed to have gotten more evidence before the renditions than in awful cases like Arar where it looks like we did this to someone completely innocent (& el Masri, but that's not the same sort of deal, really; he was in CIA custody, not foreign custody). (2) it was usually someone who was wanted by a foreign gov't being sent back to his own country--though, the Egyptian justice system is not exactly trustworthy: sending someone back to be executed after a mass trial conducted in absentia where who knows how much of the evidence was obtained under torture doesn't really make it okaay for me. Also, under Bush sometimes the suspects were ostensibly wanted for arrest & trial by the countries where they were rendered--it's easy enough to persuade Egypt or Jordan to "want" somebody on trumped up charges. (3) Arguably, the motivation was less intelligence gained from interrogation under torture than incapacitation--this was before we cooked up our own ways to hold people indefinitely without trial. (4)they may have at least hoped that the diplomatic assurances would work--there are vague, unconfirmed reports that they briefly stopped rendering people to Egypt because Egypt kept torturing them. But I think the basic attitude was willful ignorance of what all the objective evidence showed was a very, very, very high risk of torture.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
130

PS - So bog-standard is Tomorrow that he endorsed Nader in 2000. Just like Bob Kerrey!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
131

127: I agree with this completely, except if it's meant to endorse Clinton's politics in the sense of what he would have done given free rein. The politics he genuinely favored weren't great, but it seems like his results might have been better than they were if the Tomorrow-esque left had been putting more effort into influencing him rather than disassociating itself from him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:47 AM
horizontal rule
132

If a noticeable fraction of readers at Unfogged can go most of their lives without meeting a true leftist, then I think it's safe to say that true leftists are so few in number that politicians would be insane NOT to ignore them

So Unfogged is the gold standard for representing the American polity now? I'm betting that within the Unfogged commentariat, nontheists and atheists wildly outnumber conservative evangelical Christians. Nevertheless, I doubt that there are more atheists or nontheists in America than there are fundamentalists.

But even here you're wildly shifting the goalposts. The problem with Bill and Hillary Clinton is that by now they aren't merely to the right of the American Left; they're to the right of the American middle. Large majorities of Americans want to end the war, end warrantless wiretaps, better regulation of big corporations, tighter environmental standards, fairer trade, etc. The Clintons are historically opposed or apathetic towards these issues. Why do liberals want to put conservatives in charge of their party? It makes no goddamn sense. And it's not like you've got no alternatives. Edwards isn't perfect, but he's really good on a lot of issues, and manages to be very economically liberal without coming across as one. Everywhere I look I see Democrats shrugging and settling for the worst possible candidate, apparently motivated by the notion that she's going to win anyway. This is outrageously infuriating.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
133

Also: I don't Clinton's response to 9/11 would have been inspiring but I don't think it would've been nearly as bad as what Bush did.

Look at, say, his veto of the Official Secrets Act that Congress passed during his presidency.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:49 AM
horizontal rule
134

But I think the basic attitude was willful ignorance of what all the objective evidence showed was a very, very, very high risk of torture.

Yeah, that's roughly what I recall. And while it's independently horrible, sending someone off indifferent to whether he's tortured in his home country seems very different to me from sending someone off because we want him tortured but won't do it ourselves.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:50 AM
horizontal rule
135

Unless you think that the "bog-standard centrist liberal" position circa 1990 was in favor of single payer nationalized health care, anti-corporate, and calling George HW Bush a war criminal, then you're absolutely wrong.

What? How does that not describe Paul Krugman, who is not only a bog-standard center-left liberal, but quite possibly the archetypal bog-standard center-left liberal?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
136

135: Did you miss the 'H'? Tomorrow was calling Poppy, not Shrub, a war criminal, which is pretty far out there. (On the basis of Panama alone, he's absolutely right, but it's not a center-left position.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
137

So Unfogged is the gold standard for representing the American polity now?

No. Unfogged is notably leftish compared to the American polity, so if large numbers of people here haven't met a real leftist, it must be because real leftists are rather thin on the ground.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
138

134: I think this kind of hair-splitting is its own kind of willful ignorance.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:55 AM
horizontal rule
139

LB--please don't do this. In practice, the only way you the difference involves getting into the heads of executive officials & CIA agents. This wasn't just a neutral extradition where we didn't dot every i & cross every t. We wanted Egypt to imprison them for us; we knew what went on in Egyptian prisons; we read the interrogation reports. What you're left with is the astonishingly thin reed of, "yeah, but we didn't WANT them to be tortured"--the specific intent requirement that has been the basis for so many of the legal justifications for abuse: "we didn't WANT Egpyt & Syria to torture them"; "well, sure, we subjected him to mock execution, but I didn't WANT it to result in PROLONGED mental harm--I just wanted the information". Willful ignorance is not an excuse. Especially given that former Clinton advisors are now going around publishing articles trying to whitewash the record so renditions can continue.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 10:56 AM
horizontal rule
140

it seems like his results might have been better than they were if the Tomorrow-esque left had been putting more effort into influencing him rather than disassociating itself from him.

I think this is totally wrong. It sounds almost identical (is this an analogy?) to the nauseating Republican complaint that the US would've cruised to Victory in Iraq if it weren't for the interference by the liberal media and the America-hating Defeatocrats.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:00 AM
horizontal rule
141

138, 139:I really, really don't mean to imply that I thought rendition under Clinton was okay. I said, and I meant, 'independently horrible'. But it does seem distinguishable in scale and in goals from the practice as it's continued.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:01 AM
horizontal rule
142

137: Unfogged is leftish, but pretty firmly center-leftish, congealing around that American Prospect/Yglesias/Klein "blogospheric center of gravity" we've talked about before. Emerson's complained before about the lack of dialogue between liberals and the left, and he's right - and not just with socialists, either (who, however fringey, are no more fringe than libertarians, and less so globally), but with fair trade types, or labor or environmental advocates, or Chomskyite critiques of American foreign policy. These aren't fringe views at all, especially once you step outside the American bubble, but American liberals seem totally uninterested in engaging with any view to their left. This has cost American liberalism very dearly over the last thirty years, and is going to continue to cost it in the future.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
143

140: No, not at all. But it's easier to influence someone if you're inside the tent pissing out, rather than outside the tent pissing in. I'd like to see the people I actually agree with holding their noses and working with whoever's in power that's closest to agreeing with them, rather than joining in on attempts to cut them down. Voting for the lesser of two evils, rather than the best candidate you can find, is stupid. But if the lesser of two evils wins, even though they're still evil, you've got to work with them where you can.

This is all very vague -- Tom Tomorrow, after all, is a cartoonist, not an activist, and I'm not sure to what extent activists really did give up on the Clintons because they were hopelessly corrupt. But I wish Tomorrow hadn't been singing along with the right on Whitewater.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
144

136: Do center-left types no longer think that Iran-Contra was a crime, or do they believe that H. W. Bush was somehow not involved in that?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
145

Look at, say, his veto of the Official Secrets Act that Congress passed during his presidency.

Yeah, again, I think we're just destined to disagree here, if you attribute the large differences between Bush and Clinton to be primarily a result of their comparative opportunities to stomp on civil liberties.

The Tom Tomorrow cartoon that neil endorses in 125, likewise, makes exactly this point: That the hobbling of Clinton through bogus charges can't even be said to have had a minor negative impact on the liberal program. The greater the efficacy of the Clintons in pursuing their agenda, the story goes, the worse things would be. Even on welfare reform, that's not right.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:11 AM
horizontal rule
146

144: I think to get your typical center-left type to say 'war criminal' based on Iran Contra, you'd have to spend a very annoying couple of hours explaining "The Contras were doing what? Really? To nuns? And unarmed civilians? And we were paying them to do that?"

I'm not disagreeing with you or Tomorrow that it's a fine and accurate characterization of the evil old man. But it's not a conventional center-left position, and wasn't in 1990.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:12 AM
horizontal rule
147

re: 143

I think if the last few years have emphasized anything it's that none of us are inside the tent pissing anywhere. It's a mistake to think that you have much influence at all upon policy -- big media and rich people do. That's it.

That's not to entirely disparage a certain cynical pragmatism.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
148

I have come to regret and feel ashamed for not having criticized Clinton more, for a whole raft of things where my criticism would inevitably have tracked the right's, out of a sense of partisanship, "the enemy of my enemy..." I'm determined not to do it again.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
149

Look, can we stop talking about Tom Tomorrow? Dan Perkins is a cartoonist, not an advocate or a policy expert. If you're going to use celebrities to symbolize entire political movements, you might as well use Sean Penn to represent opposition to the Iraq war and indict the anti-war movement for its subpar performance in Mystic River.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
150

149: Yeah, Tomorrow's pointless in himself; it's just hard not to rely on what writers and such said at the time to stand in for what people were thinking, because it's available for quoting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
151

for not having criticized Clinton more, for a whole raft of things where my criticism would inevitably have tracked the right's

This is weird to me. I can see all sorts of things to criticize Clinton for -- his politics were in many respects awful. But I can't see criticisms that would have 'tracked the right's' -- the things the right was criticising him for seemed to be almost exclusively in two categories: fiction, or the few things he did that weren't so bad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:20 AM
horizontal rule
152

145 seems to be responding to some comment other than the one I wrote...re: Clinton, I don't remember the far left specifically going for the scandal mongering. It was the NY Times editorial page that kept writing about Whitewater, not the Nation. The Nation didn't like him very much & complained constantly about things like welfare reform & was more opposed than not to Kosovo, but I'm not sure how much impact any of that had on policy.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:22 AM
horizontal rule
153

145 totally misreads Katherine's 133. My apologies.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:24 AM
horizontal rule
154

In The Nation, Cockburn's columns from those early Clinton years would come the closest to agreeing with the right about his wrongdoings.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:25 AM
horizontal rule
155

I would guess that 145 missed the word 'veto', and thought you were commenting negatively rather than positively about Clinton on that front. But the Nation was hitting Whitewater and similar pretty hard, as evidence of his general moral bankruptcy that then produced his center-right politics.

Say, for horrible Clinton-era legislation, how's the AEDPA? That's one he's going to hell for. (Actually, I'm blaming him -- I don't specifically recall whether he was pushing it, or if it were Congress-driven. If it went through with veto-proof majorities over his objections, sorry, Bill. But I don't think so.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:26 AM
horizontal rule
156

its subpar performance in Mystic River.

Comity ! I, too, thought Bill Murray was robbed when Penn got that Oscar.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
157

My vague impression was that AEDPA was one of those things that were really the GOP Congress' idea, but Clinton cheerfully signed.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
158

but pretty firmly center-leftish, congealing around that American Prospect/Yglesias/Klein "blogospheric center of gravity" we've talked about before. Emerson's complained before about the lack of dialogue between liberals and the left, and he's right - and not just with socialists, either (who, however fringey, are no more fringe than libertarians, and less so globally), but with fair trade types, or labor or environmental advocates, or Chomskyite critiques of American foreign policy.

Welcome to mysteries of class.

I'm not sure to what extent activists really did give up on the Clintons because they were hopelessly corrupt.

The other story told is that the infrastructure of the Dem coalition (that is, inc. the activists)--as a function time as much as anything--had become, if not corrupt, then distanced from political realities, self-protective and counter-productive. Clinton represented an effort from within the party to reset the deal among coalitions, and the coalitions hit back. (That is, I think, arguably part of the story behind HRC's failure to get healthcare reform done.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:31 AM
horizontal rule
159

According to Wikipedia, AEDPA passed 91-8-1 in the Senate & 293-133-7 in the House of Representatives before Clinton signed it. A bipartisan achievement.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:31 AM
horizontal rule
160

that "collection of interest groups" that Clinton reformed into a unified party story would be a lot more believable if the unification strategy were something other than "we'll screw over all of you for our re-election--together!"


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:33 AM
horizontal rule
161

Yeah, if he could have stopped it and didn't, I have no sympathy in terms of his moral responsibility. But that does come around to a vague version of my point -- there are all sorts of ghastly things that happened during the Clinton administration that he didn't stop Congress from doing (and is fully morally responsible in that regard), but probably wouldn't have run out and done of his own accord. Assuming Hillary is Bill redux, Clinton with a Democratic Congress pushing left (not left enough, but leftish) may be better than Clinton with a Republican Congress pushing right.

And of course, maybe Edwards will win.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:33 AM
horizontal rule
162

Clinton with a Democratic Congress pushing left (not left enough, but leftish) may be better than Clinton with a Republican Congress pushing right.

small conscolence, that.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:34 AM
horizontal rule
163

That the hobbling of Clinton through bogus charges can't even be said to have had a minor negative impact on the liberal program

I don't see where you're getting this out of the comic linked in 125, which doesn't say anything about Clinton's agenda besides ridiculing the notion that vanquishing poverty, war and disease were the only things that mattered to him.

At any rate, in that strip Tomorrow is ridiculing the hack who writes that it's in the best interests of the nation that we stop scrutinizing the President. Unfortunately, by the time 2001 came around, the polity seemed to have fully digested the notion that scrutinizing the President is something that only vicious partisan attack dogs do, when they want to derail his agenda. The nation was not well served by this belief.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:37 AM
horizontal rule
164

besides ridiculing the notion that vanquishing poverty, war and disease were the only things that mattered to him.

We're reading it differently, then. I thought Tomorrow's point was that it was ludicrous to say that Clinton had any interest in addressing those things. He was specifically mocking a guy who was saying things might have been a little better by accusing him of thinking that but for the scandals, Clinton would have brought about utopia.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:43 AM
horizontal rule
165

Assuming Hillary is Bill redux, Clinton with a Democratic Congress pushing left (not left enough, but leftish) may be better than Clinton with a Republican Congress pushing right.

Here's the thing: Clinton II will be in the middle of a war, with all the monstrous powers left to her office by Bush. Now, let's say that Clinton II decides she doesn't want to get rid of those powers, or end that war, or stop - for example - having "suspected terrorists" tortured overseas at CIA black sites. Who's going to try to push her to stop this, exactly? Will the Democratic Party investigate its own president? Will they stop funding her war? Because all I see in the future is a Republican Party that already loves war, torture and domestic spying very much, thank you, and a Democratic Party that learns very quickly to enjoy it once it's being run by someone with a "D" at the end of their name.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:45 AM
horizontal rule
166

At any rate, in that strip Tomorrow is ridiculing the hack who writes that it's in the best interests of the nation that we stop scrutinizing the President.

I'm not sure I agree with your reading, but to the extent that Tomorrow was going for this, he specifically chose Whitewater, which was a frame from start to finish, and was known to be a frame very early in the process by people who were paying attention.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:45 AM
horizontal rule
167

166: Upon review, I see that Tomorrow didn't even mention Whitewater, so it's unclear which frame-up he might have been endorsing.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
168

165: In that case, we're screwed. Drink?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
169

And of course, maybe Edwards will win.

If John Edwards is the next President of the United States I will fly to New York and personally buy you that drink.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:48 AM
horizontal rule
170

Yay! An extra incentive. I'll go send him some more money.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 11:49 AM
horizontal rule
171

This seems relevant, although depressing. Remember Higazy, the Egyptian guy who was arrested right after 9-11 because he had an air-traffic-control radio in his hotel room, and then he confessed to being a terrorist? And then the pilot whose radio it was came back for it, and it turned out the confession was nonsense? An opinion was just issued in his civil suit against the government, and it included the information that the FBI made him confess by threatening that his family in Egypt would be tortured. And then the opinion was taken down, and the juicy bits were redacted as being classified.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 1:42 PM
horizontal rule
172

That's lovely LB. We're the good guys, right?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 1:45 PM
horizontal rule
173

Why am I not surprised.

We really, really, need to get the classification power subject to some sort of independent review. What's the legitimate purpose for classifying that information?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 1:57 PM
horizontal rule
174

Katherine: you mean `makes us look bad' shouldn't be legitimate? Who woulda thunk?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 1:59 PM
horizontal rule
175

I find paying attention to the news maddening, because as soon as I try to think about something, I run into my own ignorance. I had the same thought, and instantly realized that I don't know what the standard is for classifying something, or if there is one rather than executive fiat.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 1:59 PM
horizontal rule
176

For that matter, what's the legitimate purpose of classifying information after it's already "out of the bag?"


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 2:02 PM
horizontal rule
177

LB: of course I have no idea what I'm talking about here (this doesn't imply I know what I'm talking about elsewhere), but I always thought that document classification was one of those things that was inherently fuzzy enough to be near enough `by fiat' anyway, at least in the espionage/security side of things. The reason being that you can construct a chain of possible inferences from all sorts of superficially harmless information. So in this case, any information about the FBI's ability to make good on such threats will help infer things about plausible connections, etc.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 2:05 PM
horizontal rule
178

173: From experience in a prior life, classification is very frequently used to cover up bungled projects, failures, and other embarrassments. There are a lot of people who work in these spheres and are very much aware of the problem and spend a lot of time thinking about how to solve it.

Sadly, there are also some things that really, really should be kept secret, frequently for reasons that are not immediately obvious. Which limits how "independent" a review board can really be, since by the time the board is trusted enough to be told the good stuff, they'll have at least a minor case of Stockholm Syndrome (see embedded reporters).

Of course, this case is transparent bullshit, offends even my not-so-tender sensibilities, and I'm glad that the people who got copies of the opinion are refusing to take it down.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 2:10 PM
horizontal rule
179

Here's a little primer from Josh Marshall on how extremists take political control of a political party and the government.

One disagreement I have with ogged's original post is his understandable desire to separate himself from the Democrats. A group of Republicans has taken ownership of that party, and a similar opportunity exists among the Democrats. If we aren't going to be the Democrats, then somebody else will.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 2:14 PM
horizontal rule
180

LB: functionally, the system is "executive fiat." There's an executive order that sets out guidelines, such as: information will not be classified to conceal illegality or prevent embarrassment. Some agencies even follow those guidelines. But when they don't, the courts don't do much about it. There's some review in the context of FOIA & state secrets privilege but the standard of review is so deferential as to be basically worthless--they often won't even look at the documents in camera to see if the agency's claims about the need for classification are true; they are also supposed to take an agency's word about the dangers to national security. Sometimes a court will remand to the agency for a more detailed explanation of the need for classification, but in the end, if I remember correctly, there's been about one case ever where a Circuit just flatly told an agency: "no, declassify," & the Circuit sucessfully nullified the precedent by disclosing the document "voluntarily" & asking the Supreme Court to vacate the Circuit decision because it couldn't be appealed.

The court process can be a mechanism to pressure an agency to declassify things, but if the executive branch wants to be brazen & dishonest, ultimately, it can.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 2:17 PM
horizontal rule
181

why aren't the courts trustworthy as an appeal of last resort? They leak a hell of a lot less than the executive or legislative branches. Isn't serious in camera review clearly preferable for the current system? Of course there will still be many pieces of classified info that no one even knows to ask for, but it seems like a definite improvement.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 2:22 PM
horizontal rule
182

It sounds like the courts are the appeal of last resort, but just aren't very proactive about it. Assuming that the last sentence of 180.1 should read "...the agency nullified the precedent..."

And the courts aren't going to have the domain knowledge to really probe into why something is classified or not, and since it's hard to have an adversarial proceeding for this stuff, the courts are going to end up affirming whatever the agency in question did most of the time.

Is it actually clear whether this stuff is officially being claimed to be classified or just filed under seal? I also hope that the FBI agent in question gets driven into bankruptcy by the lawsuit.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 2:33 PM
horizontal rule
183

175, 176: Mark Kleiman has posted a couple of times about the classification process (well, more accurately about the declassification process). Here's one of his posts.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 2:33 PM
horizontal rule
184

182: What the currently posted version of the opinion says is that the opinion has been redacted because the record is under seal. It doesn't look to me as if the redacted portion of the opinion were still an operative part of it, and the guy at How Appealing has said that he was asked to take it down because it was classified.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-07 2:38 PM
horizontal rule
185

Obama is the only one I would even envision giving up any of the expanded presidential powers, due to his goody-goody Constitution fundamentalism.

The proof of the pudding will be, of course, in the eating.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-23-07 10:50 AM
horizontal rule