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National Politics

Is Jim Webb Really "Antiwar?"

by: lowkell

Mon Sep 29, 2014 at 16:30:07 PM EDT

This morning's Washington Post had a curious article, entitled "Jim Webb, former senator from Va., takes on his party's hawks. And maybe Clinton." I say "curious" because it made the point-blank, matter-of-fact (as if it's glaringly obvious) statement that Jim Webb is "antiwar," even an "aggressive, antiwar populist."  But is there any actual, ya know, evidence that Webb is "antiwar" in a general sense, as opposed to being against specific wars fought at specific times in specific ways, while also being FOR other wars fought at other times in other ways?

The Post article, written by former National Review reporter Robert Costa, doesn't get into that -- it simply states it as a matter of fact, point blank, that Jim Webb is "antiwar." But is he? Let's look at a few data points from his record. But first let me just make absolutely clear what my point is here: the following is NOT meant as criticism of Jim Webb, but of the Washington Post article (and the media more broadly) for wildly oversimplifying this complex, strategically thoughtful and highly knowledgeable (certainly on foreign policy and national security matters) man's views, and by shoehorning the whole thing into an inane, wildly oversimplified, political narrative about the supposed "hawk" Hillary Clinton being challenged by the supposed "antiwar" Jim Webb. It's just lame on all levels. With that, here are some of Webb's actual views on this subject.

Vietnam: In March 2007, Jim Webb gave a speech at the National Press Club in which he asserted:

I may be one of the few people in the Congress who still strongly supports the Vietnam War. I believe that the logic for the Vietnam War was sustainable, and I believe that the American people, in spite of the way we look back at Vietnam, also agreed that the political logic for Vietnam was sustainable, even though the way that we fought the war was not sustainable.
That's right, Webb strongly supported the Vietnam War then, and he strongly supports it in hindsight. And why didn't we fight that war in a "sustainable" way, one that might have led to victory? In Webb's view, part of the problem was the "anti-war left."
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Not Our Finest Hour: Why Is Liberal America Falling So Far Short?

by: Andy Schmookler

Mon Sep 29, 2014 at 10:44:34 AM EDT

Summary: We in Liberal America are now embattled. America has been in kindred battles before, and on those occasions to which we look to see our finest American ideals expressed and embodied, great American leaders have shown the way: "See the evil. Call it out. Press the battle." But in this crisis, in this battle, Liberal America is falling far short of our nation's finest ideals. Why is that?
****************
The American electorate is probably about to give more power to a party of traitors.

This statement, though shocking, can be verified by these steps (many of which are substantiated here):

  • The Republican Party ("the Party of No") has chosen to prevent anything from being accomplished.

  • To choose across-the-board obstructionism is to knowingly hurt the nation.

  • The Republicans' motivation for obstructionism is to regain power.

  • To sacrifice the good of the country to gain greater power over it is to betray the nation.

  • The dictionary definition of "traitor" is "a person who betrays a friend, country, principle...."

  • Most pollsters say that, in the upcoming elections, this "Party of No" will gain seats in the House and the Senate.

What's wrong with America that a political party can act in such a disgraceful way and profit from it?  

Something must be amiss with those who will vote for so demonstrably traitorous a party.

But something is also wrong with the part of the American body politic that opposes the Republicans -- i.e. Liberal America.

Compare how Liberal America is dealing with this destructive force with what Americans, through their greatest leaders, have done in their finest hours: the nation's founding, the Civil War, and the World War against fascism.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 609 words in story)

How I See What We're Up Against in our Nation's Time of Brokenness

by: Andy Schmookler

Sat Sep 27, 2014 at 16:56:08 PM EDT

 A Reader of the most recent entry in my "Press the Battle" series -- This Is What You Should Be Making This Election About, Mr. President, commented:
"I heartily agree that we have a dysfunctional government, but isn't it the people's fault for voting in the Republicans in the first place?"
To which I gave a response I'd like to share here, because it says a lot about how I see the essence of what's going on in America today. I wrote:

The question of "fault" is a tricky one.

Yes, at the very least one can say that a serious defect is revealed by the vulnerability of so many millions of Americans to being conned in this ugly way. It is possible to perceive the defect in these people, and in the culture that shaped them.

I live among these people, and they are many of them wonderful people. And they've got no clue what it is that they're supporting.

So yes, there is a lot of brokenness that goes onto having these people get conned into lending their support to an evil force.

But the question of whether, or how much, we should look at this as their "fault" depends on how we understand the whole workings of brokenness in the world.  

There's More... :: (8 Comments, 558 words in story)

Video: Cuccinelli Claims 100% of Republican Nominees Who Ran for President as Conservatives Won

by: lowkell

Thu Sep 25, 2014 at 21:10:44 PM EDT

There's so much idiocy from former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in this interview, where does one even begin?

1. He claims that hard-right Republicans like Mitch McConnell aren't conservative enough, is "vehement about not believing anything." Riiiight.
2. He claims that the Democratic Party's "establishment...is the liberals." Uh, what? That's certainly news to most of us who consider ourselves progressives, liberals, etc.
3. He claims you can only win as a Republican if you're a hard-right true believer. Yeah, like Ken Cuccinelli, for instance, who ran as a hard-right true believer and...LOST to Terry McAuliffe. Uhhhh.
4. He states, "at the presidential level, 100% of Republican nominees who ran as conservatives won, and 100% of Republican nominees for president who ran NOT as conservative...have all lost." OK, so let's unpack that whopper with a few facts - yeah, those pesky, liberal things, I know! LOL

OK, so I'm not sure how far back Cooch wants to go with this, but it's hard to argue that Herbert Hoover didn't run as a true conservative. As we will recall, Hoover lost the 1932 election in one of the greatest landslides in U.S. history to FDR. In stark contrast, moderate Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected easily for two terms. Richard Nixon - other than Watergate and Vietnam, of course - governed in many ways as a liberal (negotiated "detente" with the Soviets, announced the formation of the EPA in June 1970, supported the Clean Air Act of 1970, supported the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, proposed a private health insurance employer mandate, imposed wage and price controls, enforced desegregation of Southern schools, etc.). And yes, Nixon the moderate/progressive Republican was reelected in a landslide in 1972.

As for Cooch's hero Ronald Reagan, he "raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office," "nearly tripled the federal budget deficit," "grew the size of the federal government tremendously," "did little to fight a woman's right to choose," "signed into law a bill that made any immigrant who had entered the country before 1982 eligible for amnesty," etc, etc. And Reagan won reelection in a landslide in 1984.

As for George HW Bush, he ran as a more liberal, "kinder gentler" version of Reagan in 1988, and...yes, won! (note: Bush lost in 1992 more because of the economy and possibly the Ross Perot independent candidacy than because he didn't run as a hard-core conservative)  

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 293 words in story)

Video: Barack Obama and Eric Holder Press Conference

by: lowkell

Thu Sep 25, 2014 at 17:24:16 PM EDT

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

This Is What You Should Be Making This Election About, Mr. President

by: Andy Schmookler

Thu Sep 25, 2014 at 14:55:20 PM EDT


This piece is a timely expansion on entry # 3 in this Press the Battle series: Calling Out the Republicans: Obama Hasn't So We Must..

Summary: It is clear the Republicans, with their obstructionism, have deliberately hurt the nation. That betrayal explains why the American political system is now more dysfunctional than in generations, maybe ever. The American people are quite dissatisfied with the performance of their government, but they need help understanding where the problem lies. I ask President Obama: Why are you not using this last opportunity to tell the voters what's gone wrong, so they can use their votes to get back a government that does the people's business?

Hey, Mr. President. Why aren't you out there on the hustings talking to the American people? There's an election coming up, and the American political system is more dysfunctional than it's been in generations, maybe ever. What does it mean that you, as president, are not using this last opportunity of your presidency to talk to voters about what's gone wrong with the system and what voters can do now to get back a government that does the people's business?

The people know that something's gone terribly wrong, as we can see from the record-setting low esteem in which the people hold the Congress. The people's displeasure presumably that has something to do with another record the Congress has been setting in the past four years: its off-the-charts, unprecedented failure to accomplish much of anything to meet the considerable challenges our nation faces.

I assume you know what the problem is -- that it's the result of the Republicans' having made it their top priority, even before you became president, to make you fail by blocking everything.  That, even though the nation faced major challenges.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 676 words in story)

Video: Sen. Tim Kaine Speaks on "The Role of Congress in the Fight Against ISIS"

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 23, 2014 at 13:28:43 PM EDT

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Video: Jim Webb speaks at the National Press Club

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 23, 2014 at 13:23:33 PM EDT

Here's video of Jim Webb's speech at the National Press Club. I've got a few thoughts in the comments section.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Calling out the Republicans. Obama Hasn't So We Must.

by: Andy Schmookler

Mon Sep 22, 2014 at 10:20:00 AM EDT

Summary: President Obama should have made it a top priority to help the American people see what the Republican Party has become. That could have helped lead the people to take away that party's power. Unfortunately, Barack Obama seems ill-equipped by temperament and character to fight that battle. With your help, I can deliver a message that can focus our national conversation on the destructive force that has taken over the Republican Party.

If Barack Obama had become president at a time of normal politics, with a normal opposition party, there's no telling how much he could have accomplished. On many issues, President Obama has strived to move the country in wise and beneficial directions. He might have become the transformational president he aspired to be, and that many of us hoped for when we elected him in 2008.

But it is his misfortune to be President when our politics is far from normal, and to have faced a Republican opposition more dishonest and destructive than anything ever before seen at center stage of American politics. One of President Obama's top priorities should have been to help the American people see what that party has become so that they would take away its power.

Unfortunately, Barack Obama seems ill-equipped by temperament and character to fight that battle. Too often, the Republicans have been rewarded rather than punished for disgraceful behavior.

At the very outset, when the Republicans set about demonizing the newly elected president, and delegitimizing him with the birther lie, President Obama should have called them out for such disgraceful conduct, which amounts to an assault on the foundations of our democracy. Because he didn't, about a third of the American electorate became permanently unreachable for him.

When the Republicans used a mere Senate rule (the filibuster) to trump the Constitution, making every vote require a super majority, the President should have denounced this unprecedented power-grab. Because he didn't, minority rule replaced majority rule, the election results of 2008 were largely nullified, and more than 400 laws passed by the House died in the Senate.

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Video: Pres. Obama announces bipartisan House, Senate support of his plan to arm rebels in Syria

by: lowkell

Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 20:32:42 PM EDT

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Angry White Men on the Right

by: Andy Schmookler

Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 13:32:14 PM EDT

A friend of mine, who is liberal, told me recently, "Having grown up in the South in the 1950s, I know something about how it feels to be part of a group you're told is superior. It feels really good. It's a feeling that shouldn't be under-estimated."

That got me thinking about the anger of many white men, and why they've lent the force of that anger to the political right.

Imagine you're a white man, particularly in a region where racist ideology and patriarchy have been especially powerful. By virtue of being white instead of black, and male instead of female, you've got higher status than roughly three-quarters of the humanity around you. And if you're straight, not gay, you get to feel even better about yourself.

The feeling of self-worth is a big part of one's overall feeling of well-being.

The straight white man, in the old order, is the embodiment of "born on third base, and thinks he hit a triple."

What if a political force came to take all that away from you?

You are told that black people deserve the same rights and respect as white people. Laws are enacted to compel everyone to act as if that were true.

As if that weren't enough, this same political force -- American liberalism, through its political instrument, the Democratic Party -- declares that women are as good as men, and deserve the same treatment and opportunities.

At this point, the white man has been thrown out of the top quartile of his community and into the general pool.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 492 words in story)

Video: Pat Robertson Rants About "One Little Jewish Radical"

by: lowkell

Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 13:29:45 PM EDT

Yep, this is Bob McDonnell's mentor and a huge contributor over the years to the Republican Party of Virginia. Yet none of those folks will condemn him, no matter what he says (now, anti-Semitism in addition to his theocratic beliefs). Ugh.

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Sen. Kaine Introduces Authorization for Use of Military Force Against ISIL

by: lowkell

Wed Sep 17, 2014 at 08:49:54 AM EDT

Narrow, Specific Authorization Bars Ground Troops & Sunsets After One Year 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, will introduce a narrow and specific authorization for use of military force against ISIL. As the Foreign Relations Committee prepares to draft a tailored authorization to provide President Obama with authority in the mission to degrade and destroy ISIL, Kaine’s proposal is meant to reinforce the President’s strategy, as well as set key limitations he hopes will be included in final authorizing language for broader Congressional consideration.
 
In announcing the proposal, Kaine said: “Last week, President Obama laid out a strong case for the need to degrade and destroy ISIL and invited broader Congressional support for this effort. I was heartened when Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Menendez answered this call by saying the committee would soon craft authorizing language for the U.S. military mission. It’s my hope that this proposal will help move the ball forward on what a specific and narrow authorization for limited military action against ISIL should look like – one that bars the deployment of U.S. ground combat troops except for rescue missions or limited operations against high-value targets, and sunsets in one year so that progress can be assessed before continuing the mission. I also propose the repeal of the obsolete 2002 Iraq War authorization. If Congress isn’t willing to do the hard work – to debate and vote on an authorization – we should not be asking our servicemembers to go into harm’s way.”

 

The authorization is specific to ISIL and supports President Obama’s key pillars: a multinational effortto degrade and destroy ISIL, the use of necessary and appropriate force in a campaign of air strikesagainst ISIL in Iraq and Syria and the provision of military equipment to appropriately vetted forces in Iraq and Syria, including the Iraqi security forces, Kurdish fighters, and other legitimate, appropriately vetted, non-terrorist opposition groups in Syria.

 

It also includes four key limitations:

 

1)      No U.S. ground troops;

2)      Repeal of the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force;

3)      Sunset after one year;

4)      Narrow definition of “associated forces.”

Full text of Kaine’s legislation is below:

To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant:

Whereas that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS or the Islamic State, is a terrorist organization committing daily acts of barbarity currently encompassing large portions of Syria and Iraq, and is a serious threat to the United States and the international community;

Whereas ISIL’s violence is destructive of religious freedom, the equality of women, protections against genocide, principles of national sovereignty, freedom of expression, and other core human rights protected by international law;

Whereas ISIL’s grisly execution of United States hostages, recruitment of United States citizens and others to serve as foreign fighters that threaten to return to the United States and other nations, and pledges to carry out additional acts of violence directly against the United States make it a threat of growing significance to the United States; and

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2169 (2014) and 2170 (2014) note that ISIL’s advancement is a major threat to Iraq’s future, condemn attacks by ISIL, reiterate international community support for Iraq’s security and territorial integrity, and emphasize the need for the international community to work together to help stabilize Iraq and combat ISIL: Now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This joint resolution may be cited as the “Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”.

SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ AND THE LEVANT.

(a) In General.—In order to protect the United States and other countries from terrorist attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and in order to protect individuals from acts of violence in clear contravention of international law and basic human rights, the President is authorized, as part of a multinational coalition, subject to the limitations in subsection (b)—

(1) to use all necessary and appropriate force to participate in a campaign of airstrikes in Iraq, and if the President deems necessary, in Syria, to degrade and defeat ISIL; and

(2) to provide military equipment and training to forces fighting ISIL in Iraq or Syria, including the Iraqi security forces, Kurdish fighters, and other legitimate, appropriately vetted, non-terrorist opposition groups in Syria.

(b) No Authorization for Use of Ground Forces or Force Against Associated Forces.—The authorization in this section does not include—

(1) authorization for the use of United States ground combat forces, except for the purposes set forth in subsection (a)(2) or as necessary for the protection or rescue of members of the United States Armed Forces or United States citizens from imminent danger posed by ISIL, or for limited operations against high value targets; or

(2) authorization for the use of force against forces associated with ISIL, unless such forces are identified in a report submitted under section 4 as individuals or organizations that are immediately and directly fighting alongside ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

(c) Expiration.—The authorization in this section shall expire on the date that is one year after the date of the enactment of this joint resolution.

(d) War Powers Resolution Requirements.—

(1) Specific statutory authorization.—Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

(2) Applicability of other requirements.—Nothing in this resolution supercedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

SEC. 3. REPEAL OF PRIOR AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES AGAINST IRAQ.

The Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107–243; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) is hereby repealed.

SEC. 4. DESIGNATION OF ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS IMMEDIATELY AND DIRECTLY FIGHTING ALONGSIDE ISIL.

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this resolution, and every 90 days thereafter, the President shall submit to Congress a list of those organizations or individuals immediately and directly fighting alongside ISIL for purposes of actions taken pursuant to this joint resolution. The list shall be maintained in unclassified form but may contain a classified annex.

SEC. 5. REPORTS.

The President shall report to Congress every 90 days after enactment of this resolution regarding the progress of the effort against ISIL.

SEC. 6. RULES OF CONSTRUCTION.

Nothing in this resolution shall be construed as—

(1) authorizing support for force in support of, or in cooperation with, the national government of Syria that was in power as of the date of the enactment of this resolution, or its security services; or

(2) limiting the constitutional or statutory powers of the President or Congress, or any additional powers held by the United States pursuant to international law or treaty.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Hannity: Charging NFL's Peterson w/Child Abuse Could Impede Teaching Kids "Being Gay Is Not Normal"

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 16, 2014 at 19:29:58 PM EDT

Nothing Sean Hannity says surprises me at this point, however appalling (like this). One question: does Barbara Comstock agree with her BFF and endorser about this?

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Video: Teddy Roosevelt Believed GOP Should Offer Real Solutions to Real Problems

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 16, 2014 at 15:10:02 PM EDT

From the superb Ken Burns series, The Roosevelts, I loved the following passage about Teddy Roosevelt as Governor of New York. Yes, TR was a Republican, but as the following passage makes clear, he was absolutely NOTHING like the Republicans of today. Regardless, TR was right then and he's right today: Republicans, and more importantly the country, would be far better off if they adopted TR's attitude towards government, business, the environment, etc., than the bizarre, warped, extreme positions they hold today.

P.S. I started off as a progressive Republican myself as a teenager, in the same line of thought as Teddy Roosevelt and many others (e.g.,  Bob LaFollette, Dwight Eisenhower, John Chaffee, Lowell Weicker, Jacob Javits, Nelson Rockefeller), but got the heck out of that party when I saw it taken over by supply siders (aka "Voodoo Economics"), racists and theocrats back in 1980. Sad to say, Republicans have only gotten (much) worse since then. I'm 100% confident that Teddy Roosevelt would not be a member of the Republican Party today (nor would Abraham Lincoln, of course, or Javits, LaFollette, probably George Romney, etc, etc.).

Boss Platt feared the new governor harbored what he called "altruistic ideas," and was a little loose on questions affecting the right of a man to run his own business in his own way.  He was right. Roosevelt promised to consult Platt as he went along, but he had concluded that it was neither wise nor safe for Republicans to take refuge in what he called "mere negation." New circumstances demanded a new kind of reform - progressive reform. The Republican Party, he felt, should actually offer real solutions to real problems...the old natural laws of the marketplace were no longer adequate. Government, [Roosevelt] believed, needed to step in to tame the market's excesses and maintain necessary order. Wrongs now had to be righted through legislation as well as persuasion. Roosevelt intended to strike a balance between what he called "mob rule" and improper corporate influence...In less than 6 months, he secured passage of bills that taxed corporations, limited working hours for women and children, improved sweatshop conditions, created or protected forest preserves...
Discuss :: (7 Comments)

The Republican Party's Extraordinary Pattern of Destructiveness

by: Andy Schmookler

Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 11:54:45 AM EDT

The following is the second in a series whose purpose is to show what's gone wrong in our nation's political arena, and to help start the process of setting things right. The series is addressed to all those who are disturbed by what the Republican Party has become, and frustrated by the failure of the Democratic Party to combat it effectively.

Summary: In the conduct of today's Republican Party, we can see a pattern of destructiveness. It displays an insatiable lust for power and wealth, an impulse to prey upon the vulnerable, a preference for conflict over cooperation, a persistent dishonesty, and a willingness to sacrifice the greater good for selfish advantage. Putting the pieces together, we see that our national crisis is not just at the political level, but goes deeper to the moral and spiritual levels.

I have a message and a plan to help turn back this force. To succeed, it will need the help of many.
*******

The Republican Party, I have said here, has been taken over by a destructive force. Time now to flesh out more of the picture showing the relentlessly destructive nature of what now animates the Republican Party:

It's a force that's insatiable in its lust for power and wealth.

    Even though we have the greatest income inequality that we've had in living memory, this force works continually to widen that gap still further. All their budgetary proposals would take from average Americans to give more to those who already have the most. As they protect those who have tripled their share of our national income, they cut food stamps to the most vulnerable Americans -- even at a time when jobs are scarce and even the middle class is struggling. In the realm of political power, this force has given us a Supreme Court that handed down that disgraceful decision in Citizens United, making it still easier for the nation's widening inequalities of wealth to be translated into inequalities of political power. With our government put up for auction, "All men are created equal" gets swamped by the Almighty Dollar. The Republicans have been working to turn our government from one "by the people" into one controlled by those giant so-called "persons" that make up the corporate world.
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Whatever the Problem, Very Serious People's Solution is Always More All-Out War

by: TheGreenMiles

Tue Sep 09, 2014 at 17:31:25 PM EDT

The Washington Post editorial board, which Republicans would have you believe is part of our "liberal" media, today demands President Obama lead us into nothing short of all-out, indefinite war in Iraq, Syria, and wherever else war takes us:
Already, the group has seized far more of Iraq and Syria than is compatible with the safety and human rights of the people living there, and its sights are set on further destabilization in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kurdistan, as well as terror attacks in Europe and, if it's capable of them, the United States. The two Americans butchered by the Islamic State will not be the last if the group's leaders have their way. This murderous terrorist army, whose scarily effective global recruitment matches its global ambitions, can be neither contained nor "managed," as the president implied in some of his more hesitant previous comments. [...]

In seeking their support for what may be the first long-term overseas war to begin entirely on his watch, the president should be utterly forthright about the risks of inaction but also about the potential costs of action. Only a clear-eyed president, backed by an informed people and their representatives, can lead the world in this crucial mission.

It doesn't matter than John McCain was palling around with ISIS just last year. It doesn't matter that the last war the Washington Post pushed caused the destabilization that ushered in ISIS. And no mention of the 100,000+ Iraqi civilians killed in that war - gee, do you think that might have something to do with why ISIS is having no trouble recruiting a new generation of terrorists? Never mind, bomb more! If only you damn peaceniks had let us bomb more and get more kids killed for no good reason last time, we wouldn't have to bomb and kill kids again now!

Since World War II, we've gone to war in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan, and only in Afghanistan could I give you a very good reason why. Otherwise, this seems like yet another case of the Very Serious People inside the Beltway warning us that we face an Imminent Threat that only Clear-Eyed People can see, and if you can't see it, clearly you are not Clear-Eyed and cannot be trusted to discuss national security.

As Dave Weigel writes at Slate, ISIS' beheading videos were "surely meant to sow fear and breed over-reaction, [and] succeeded magnificently." There are always Very Serious People ready to play war games with someone else's kids, and war profiteers ready to cash in.

Discuss :: (13 Comments)

Many Liberals Don't Like the Idea of Battle, But the Alternative in America Today is Much Worse

by: Andy Schmookler

Tue Sep 09, 2014 at 10:55:37 AM EDT

This article is the first in a series, titled "Press the Battle," whose purpose is to get our national conversation to focus on the central realities of the crisis in today's America.

In America right now there's a battle that needs to be fought and won in our political arena. It's a battle over what kind of country, and what kind of planet, our children and grandchildren will live in.

Although some people like waging battle - some even insist on it - most liberals I've known are capable of living richer, more balanced and fulfilling lives. Most of us liberals would rather lead those better lives than focus on political combat.

But over the past decade or two, while we've been living our fuller, more rounded lives, we with the more humane set of values have been out-organized, out-fought, out-messaged by a relentless force that has taken over the right, and that has

    • Turned our politics into a kind of war,
    • hollowed out the middle class,
    • debased our public discourse,
    • brought out the worst in our decent conservative neighbors,
    • undermined the rule of law,
    • placed our descendants in greater peril of ecological     catastrophe,
    • embroiled us in needless wars,
    • besmirched America's good name in the world,
    • driven our economy into a pit,
    • and magnified the ability of corporate power to steal our democracy.  

The response from Liberal America to this ugly destructive force on the right has been woefully inadequate to protect the nation.

The combination of a destructive force and weak response has created one of the most profound crises in American history. If our nation is going to stop its descent, and to regain the ability to deal constructively with the challenges we face, this dangerous political dynamic must be turned around.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 683 words in story)

Are the Democrats Making a Mistake in Avoiding the Immigration Confrontation Before the Election?

by: Andy Schmookler

Sun Sep 07, 2014 at 10:49:30 AM EDT

In 2010, the Democrats made what I felt was a great blunder in keeping the issue of the Bush tax cuts out of the off-year election campaigns.

The Democrats' position was that the tax cuts for the 98% should be kept, because the economy was still trying to get up off the mat, but that the tax cuts for the richest 2% should be allowed to expire.

The Republicans' position was that all the Bush tax cuts should be preserved, and they were willing to hold the middle class tax cuts hostage unless they got their way.

Opinion polls showed that the American people overwhelmingly favored the Democrats' position.

But the Democrats avoided the confrontation, waiting until the lame duck session. (At which point, lamentably, Obama caved, not taking a strong stand until later.)

I thought that this issue was a perfect battlefield for the Democrats: 1) the people were on their side, and 2) the Republicans' willingness to sacrifice the middle class to serve the rich brought into sharp relief the Republicans' real allegiance to the big money.

But the Democrats were scared. They didn't seem to believe that they could win the argument. So out of fear of losing the elections, they shrunk from the confrontation and lo and behold, they got slaughtered at the polls.

Caution and prudence are good. Being ruled by fear is often a disaster.

Now, President Obama has apparently been persuaded/pressured by Democrats -- specifically, it is said, by vulnerable Democratic candidates for Senate -- to put off taking the presidential action he promised on immigration reform.

Is this the same mistake all over again?

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 356 words in story)

The Anti-Israel Left and that Historical Mystery, Anti-Semitism Part I

by: Andy Schmookler

Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 15:36:59 PM EDT

Talking with a friend about anti-Semitism, and about a distaste for the flavor of the anti-Israeli position of so much of the left.

I think my friend is a lot more wholly siding with Israel than I am. But we both agreed that -- in the way the anti-Israel left deals with the moral complexities of the situation in the Middle East - there is a distinct smell of anti-Semitism.

Which led us into some discussion of the mystery of anti-Semitism.

Here are some of my thoughts about it. And as an American Jew born in 1946, and one who has made a life-time study of human brokenness, I've been thinking about anti-Semitism here and there for fifty years, from Erich Fromm and the Authoritarian Personality to Hitler's Willing Executioners and The Pity of It All: A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch, 1743-1933.

The extraordinary thing about anti-Semitism is the way it can take so many forms in so many times and places. It's like this indigestible bone in the gullet of much of civilization down through the centuries across much of the planet.

The world is full of inter-group hatreds. The map of them would consist of a great many short lines of such negative engagement.  But with the Jews, and only the Jews, it's different.

There are prejudices all over the world, but there is no other people who have been the object of prejudice in so many times and places, getting kicked out of Spain, getting massacred by the hundreds of thousands in 17th century Ukraine, to "The Protocol of the Elders of Zion" being a huge hit TV documentary in Egypt, spreading the long-discredited murder-feeding fraud of that forgery of a tract.

How does that happen in a civilization, or collection of civilizations interacting on one planet?  

There's More... :: (25 Comments, 462 words in story)
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