Wednesday, May 19, 2010 2:11 PM
This is a magazine cover I won't soon forget...
Monday, March 22, 2010 8:25 AM
From Jonathan Chait at the New Republic:
Let me offer a ludicrously premature opinion: Barack Obama has sealed his reputation as a president of great historical import. We don’t know what will follow in his presidency, and it’s quite possible that some future event—a war, a scandal—will define his presidency. But we do know that he has put his imprint on the structure of American government in a way that no Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson has.
From Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic:
Yes, in the end, he got all the primary delegates House votes he needed. Yes, he worked our last nerve to get there. But, yes, too, this is an important victory—the first true bloodied, grueling revelation that his persistence, another critical Obama quality, finally paid off in the presidency. He could have given up weeks ago, as the punditry advised (because they seem to have no grasp of substance and mere addiction to hour-to-hour political plays). But he refused. That took courage. And relentlessness.
From John Nichols in The Nation:
The rancorous debate over President Obama’s reform proposal was portrayed by much of our historically-disinclined media as an ugly degeneration of the body politic. In fact, the fight over health care reform has been no more difficult or disturbing than past fights for needed federal interventions.
Consider the battle of the mid-1930s over Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Social Security Act, which created what is now one of the most popular federal programs.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, recalled during Sunday evening’s debate that critics of Social Security denounced the reform as “the lash of the dictator.”
“Those slurs were false in 1935. They were false in 1965. And they are false in 2010,” declared Hoyer, as he argued that the similar slurs against Obama’s health care plan will be proven equally false.
Chris Hedges at Truthdig is not moved:
This bill is not about fiscal responsibility or the common good. The bill is about increasing corporate profit at taxpayer expense. It is the health care industry’s version of the Wall Street bailout. It lavishes hundreds of billions in government subsidies on insurance and drug companies. The some 3,000 health care lobbyists in Washington, whose dirty little hands are all over the bill, have once more betrayed the American people for money. The bill is another example of why change will never come from within the Democratic Party. The party is owned and managed by corporations.
Finally, Paul Waldman at The American Prospect:
Over the course of this debate, progressives have gotten used to beginning their comments on the various reform plans by saying, “It's not everything that I'd want, but…” And of course the bill that finally passed isn't perfect, which is why we should continue working to improve it in the coming months and years. But it is something extraordinary nevertheless, The passage of health-care reform is a huge benefit to lower- and middle-class Americans; finally, there is something resembling health security for all of us. Some of the most despicable misdeeds of the insurance companies have been put to an end, and a raft of programs have been put in place to help rein in costs. And that's just a few of the legislation's achievements. Millions upon millions of American lives will be improved by what Congress and the White House just did.
Sources: New Republic, The Atlantic, The Nation, Truthdig, The American Prospect
Tuesday, May 19, 2009 11:47 AM
Since the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama has been hailed as a pragmatist. As a candidate, he embraced off-shore oil drilling and clean coal and he spoke out in favor of gun rights. As President, his economic policies and his decision to block the release of prisoner abuse photos have similarly been touted as “pragmatic.”
“Being a pragmatist is a statement about means, not ends,” Robert Reich writes for Talking Points Memo. Pragmatism is not a virtue, in and of itself; virtue lies in the goals achieved through pragmatism. According to Reich, “to call his stance ‘pragmatic’ is to rob it of its moral authority.”
In comparison to the last eight years, Obama’s lack of ideology feels to many like a breath of air for a nation under water. The Bush administration convinced many Americans, and especially Democrats, “that there is a correlation between idealism and incompetence. I have no quarrel with efficacy, but it is a contentless ideal,” The United States needs to be represented in the world by more than best practices.”
A solution to President Obama’s search for a non-dogmatic philosophy may lie in the actions of candidate Obama. As a candidate, Obama was able to explain controversies to the public in measured and intelligent terms. In his speech on race, Reich writes, “He took America to a higher place by explaining what we all knew and felt but giving it a larger and nobler frame. He educated us in the best sense of the word.”
President Obama has the chance to embrace the educational possibilities of the current crisis. He needs to “find a way to bring the public in, to let it feel a sense of participation and ownership,” Mark Schmitt writes for the American Prospect. Rather than evoking the state secrets privilege, or divorcing economic policies from the public at large, Obama should embrace the transparency he campaigned on. He can educate the American people on widening inequality at home and the dangers of foreign threats abroad. According to Schmitt, “Ideology, in a measured dosage, can help people understand where we're headed and why.”
To do so would both make good on his promises of transparency and strengthen his policies. Call it pragmatic ideology.
Talking Points Memo
the American Prospect
Monday, January 26, 2009 3:45 PM
Quotation marks aren’t just for quotes. They can also be used to denote “irony,” according to the AP style guide. A prime example comes on the opinion page of today’s Wall Street Journal. When deriding efforts by Congressional Democrats to pass the current stimulus bill, the editors explain, “the ‘stimulus’ claim is based on something called the Keynesian ‘multiplier,’ which is that each $1 of spending the government ‘injects’ into the economy yields 1.5 times that in greater output.”
The quotes around “stimulus,” “multiplier,” and “injects” are meant to cast doubt on the efficacy of the Democratic economic plan. They also give the feeling of superiority over whatever idea the editors are currently deriding. It’s a tactic used often in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, as Jonathan Chait points out in the New Republic. He writes, “The Journal’s fixation with the scare quote is one of the great journalistic marriages between medium and grammatical device.”
The effect of the scare quotes is similar to when cable news channels put a question mark after statements flashed on screen. As Jon Stewart pointed out on the Daily Show (video below), a question mark allows Fox News to say whatever it wants while retaining a thin veil of objectivity. When they broadcast a statement like, “Is the liberal media helping to fuel terror?” They make it seem as though they’re exploring the idea, instead of simply stating it. That’s why Stewart asked, “The question mark: A prophalactic protecting fox news from anything it might contract during its extensive GOP c**ksucking?” He wasn’t making that statement, he was just asking.
Friday, December 19, 2008 3:39 PM
Numerous journalists are joining the ranks of the unemployed. Can the federal government help put them back to work?
In an essay for the New Republic and an interview with On the Media, Mark Pinsky suggests that it can—by reviving the Federal Writers' Project, an initiative established in 1935 under the Works Progress Administration.
Jerrold Hirsch, who wrote a book about the Depression-era project, told On the Media that it enlisted out-of-work writers, journalists, librarians, and others “[t]o rediscover America, to give us a new and broader knowledge of the very country we lived in and not to see it in narrow, exclusive terms of just the dominant culture.” They recorded music, conducted oral histories, collected slave narratives, and worked on creating thorough guides to each state.
Pinsky’s vision for the project's 21st-century sibling isn’t quite as extensive—he described it to OTM’s Brooke Gladstone as the “Federal Writers’ Project Light.” He told her the program would give small grants for “research projects, mostly interviews, that would be approved and put out by community colleges and universities,” and would document important aspects of American life like “the modern immigrant experience” and “the transition to a green economy.” The public benefit, he writes in TNR, would be documentation for the ages of “those segments of society largely ignored by commercial and even public media.”
Thursday, December 18, 2008 11:54 AM
Caroline Kennedy made her interest in filling Hillary Clinton's senate seat official this week. While her uncle Teddy is keen on the idea, the dynastic nature of her bid has provoked a resounding backlash in the blogosphere. Among the anti-Caroline offensives being mounted online is this: Caroline Kennedy is less qualified for the Senate than Sarah Palin was for the White House.
Ouch, that's gotta hurt. But is it true?
After confessing, “I’d never thought I'd write this sentence,” Noam Scheiber of the New Republic goes out a limb, asserting, “Palin is vastly more qualified than Kennedy,” even considering the higher office Palin sought. Rod Dreher of the Crunchy Con blog seconds Scheiber's thoughts, adding that “anyone endorsing the Camelot princess for the US Senate owes Sarah Palin a huge apology.”
In a back-and-forth with the ladies of Slate's XX Factor blog, Emily Yoffe takes a different angle on the same point: “However ill-prepared Palin was for the vice presidency, she was chosen because she got elected governor of Alaska. And she did that without money, connections, or a famous name.” Yoffe argues that Kennedy’s appointment would reinforce the have and have-not dichotomy that rules our society. Many have-nots “think there's no point making an effort because everything is already wired for the haves,” writes Yoffe. Kennedy's appointment could help fortify that barrier to upward mobility.
Kennedy’s defenders in the Caroline vs. Sarah debate are likely to make an argument similar to this one by commenter elaine1, posted in response to a Politico story: “Don't compare Caroline Kennedy to Sarah Palin. Caroline is intelligent, savvy, and dignified.” Also standing up for Kennedy is Bernie Quigley on The Hill’s Pundits blog, who contends that Kennedy has shown “true and natural leadership” and that her experience as a mother, lawyer, and philanthropist “is the kind of varied experience the Senate calls for.”
If Kennedy does score the appointment, it won't be just because she has a famous name, but because her particular famous name is one Americans have a uniquely persistent, romantic fascination with. Ruth Marcus, in a recent column for the Washington Post, effusively (and without a hint of irony) sums up that sentiment: "[W]hat a fitting coda to this modern fairy tale to have the little princess grow up to be a senator."
Monday, December 08, 2008 1:46 PM
Soon after Barack Obama’s election, women’s groups voiced concerns that prominent cabinet and advisory appointments would, as usual, go mostly to men. But the announcements of Obama’s national security and foreign policy teams have put at least some of those fears to rest.
As A.J. Rossmiller points out in a recent essay for the New Republic, Obama’s choice of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State, Janet Napolitano to head the Department of Homeland Security, and Susan Rice as ambassador to the U.N. represent important gains for women in policy areas traditionally dominated by men.
Just how shut out of these jobs have women been? Very. According to Rossmiller, “in the 318 total years those positions have been occupied, women have held them for 16.” If Michele Flournoy joins the administration as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, as has been speculated, these four women can match that threshold in a single term, he adds.
Even more noteworthy, says Rossmiller, is that these appointments have been welcomed “by a collective public yawn”:
Government positions dealing with war-fighting, tough negotiations, and security have for too long been off limits to women, due to prejudice and stereotypes, as well as structural impediments such as military restrictions against women serving in combat positions, a common path for upward mobility in these fields. But despite these long-lasting barriers, no one now questions the toughness or capabilities of these women.
In perhaps another sign of the times, the appointments of Clinton, Napolitano, and Rice were made soon after Ann Dunwoody became the first woman to achieve the rank of four-star general in the U.S. Army.
Thursday, November 20, 2008 10:10 AM
President-elect Barack Obama has confidently pledged to scrub out the blight on America's moral standing that is Guantanamo Bay. Closing the notorious prison is a move the world would eagerly embrace, and the move would immediately distance the new administration from the sinister national security practices of the Bush years. Goodbye torture, hello habeas corpus.
That sure sounds nice. But putting Gitmo’s sordid abuses in our past won't be easy. The legal issues at stake remain with or without the prison, as Matthew Waxman, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, points out in an interview with Foreign Policy. “The United States will continue to capture, detain, and need to interrogate suspected terrorists long into the future,” Waxman said. “And the bigger question than whether to hold them at Guantanamo or not is one of legal authority. On what legal basis and according to what standards will the United States conduct detentions?”
Trials of “enemy combatants” are another complicated matter, and there’s little consensus on how they should be carried out, according to the New Republic. “Some conservatives argue that civilian courts are too protective of detainee rights or would sacrifice sensitive national security information,” writes Joseph Landau for TNR, while, “civil libertarians reject national-security courts for insufficiently guarding defendants’ rights.”
The proposed creation of national security courts charged solely with trying suspected terrorists is being hotly debated, and Obama is said to be considering the option. University of Utah law professor Amos Guiora is a strong proponent of this idea. In a guest column for Jurist, he writes, “In advocating the establishment of domestic terror courts I am seeking both a legal and practical solution to the continued detention of thousands of ‘post 9/11 detainees.’” Guiora suggests the courts as an ongoing solution to a problem that extends far beyond Guantanamo Bay. “Guantanamo Bay is but one detention facility,” Guiora writes.
The Christian Science Monitor describes the new court model as similar to one that was used in Israel, where trials were “conducted behind closed doors to protect intelligence sources and methods.” According to CSM, “Instead of using military judges, such a court should be staffed by civilian federal judges, preserving the separation of powers,” but protecting intelligence information. Guiora told CSM, “Source-protection is a must in the context of counterterrorism.” He said, “Without sources, there is no intelligence. Without intelligence, there is no counterterrorism.”
But not everyone thinks a specialized terror court is a good idea, or necessary. Also for Jurist, Washington University law professor Leila Nadya Sadat notes the following:
Although advocates of creating a new set of courts to try terror suspects are no doubt sincere in trying to “fix” the problem of what to do with the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, let’s remember that at least some of these folks are the ones who gave the advice that supported the practice of rendition and the establishment of Guantanamo Bay in the first place. Indeed, a close look at their proposals suggests a disregard for time-tested rules of law eerily similar to the lawyering style that has pervaded the administration during the past eight years.... The federal courts, and regularly constituted military courts, are more than capable of trying individuals accused of terrorism and violations of the laws and customs of war, as they have done so before.
Image by woody1778a, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, October 31, 2008 1:52 PM
Unlike most of the electorate, some political reporters are not eager to wake up on November 5 with the longest campaign in history a good night’s sleep behind them. “It's kind of like, this is who I am now,” Andrew Romano, a Newsweek blogger, tells the New Republic. “[S]o the idea of the campaign being over and not doing a politics blog is a little bit like, who am I after this election?”
Politico’s Ben Smith shares Romano’s sentiments. “It's so built into my system, that it's going to be hard to stop,” he tells TNR. “It's really pathological.”
But the tight psychological grip campaigns hold on reporters won’t be missed by all those covering the political beat. After the last presidential campaign, CNN correspondent Candy Crowley tells TNR it took her “a good month to stop waking up in the middle of the night in a panic that I've missed something.” Matt Bai of the New York Times notes that some reporters have been on the trail for nearly a year: “There are guys who went out to the primaries in November, December, and thought they'd be done in February or March, and they just never came home.”
Reporter weariness recently caught the critical eye of the Columbia Journalism Review, who took the New York Times to task for what they deemed an instance of lazy campaign coverage. Questioning the relevance of a Times cover story, CJR warns reporters not to “take out their election fatigue on voters.” Just pen a few more good stories, guys, then you can come home and sleep. . .or just keep blogging.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008 1:40 PM
There’s a steady feed of anxiety buzzing across the airwaves and blogosphere about Barack Obama falling short on Election Day.
First, there’s the infomercial gamble.
Then there’s the incessant stream of bad news about voter suppression. And the potential of a Florida redux.
And where to begin with the polls? Nate Silver’s soothing graphics and heady analysis can’t even stave the fear that the polls are way off. The New Republic and Washington Post have some scary bedtime reading on that front. But what about the impact of Obama’s perceived lead? Will it keep would-be Obama voters at home? Will it convince hard lefters to go Green Party? How anyone in a post-Bush v. Gore world could succumb to such a line seems inconceivable, but my colleagues Julie and Danielle kindled such irrational fears in me yesterday by reporting that Green Party nitwits at Minneapolis’ trendiest co-op are handing out fliers for Cynthia McKinney with the chant, “Obama’s up 14 points.”
As if this glut of fear weren’t enough, some folks are spinning some hypothetical nightmare scenarios with all the care of horror film scriptwriters.
Newseek’s Jonathan Alter was kind enough to spin this Halloween-esque yarn about “Why McCain Won”:
Obama shifted New Mexico, Iowa and Nevada from red to blue. But there was a reason Virginia hadn't gone Democratic since 1964. The transformation of the northern part of the state couldn't overcome a huge McCain margin among whites farther south. They weren't the racists of their parents' generation, but they weren't quite ready to vote for the unthinkable, either.
Obama had wired every college campus in the country, and he enjoyed great enthusiasm among politically engaged young people. But less-engaged students told reporters the day after the election that they had meant to vote for Obama but were "too busy." History held: young people once again voted in lower percentages than their elders. Waiting for them turned out to be like waiting for Godot.
And then there’s this personalized bit of horror that’s making the rounds from MoveOn.org. (I thank my big brother for sending it to me after I rattled on a little too long about recurring nightmares of McCain taking Pennsylvania.)
So what’s a nervous wreck to do, outside of hitting the bottle or the Xanax?
Normally, I wouldn’t turn to Larry David for advice about anxiety, but he does offer one option that, I suspect, many others are taking:
The one concession I’ve made to maintain some form of sanity is that I've taken to censoring my news, just like the old Soviet Union. The citizenry (me) only gets to read and listen to what I deem appropriate for its health and well-being.
Of course, there’s always yoga. The Huffington Post’s Tara Stiles has some election-timed tips in this video.
The Associated Press has a few suggestions as well:
Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising. You'll feel better while recognizing those things you can control, says Wilmette, Ill.-based psychologist Nancy Molitor.
Realize that no candidate is as good — or as bad — as you might imagine, Molitor says.
When all else fails, change the subject, says Lisa Miller, associate professor of psychology at Columbia University Teachers College in New York. "Turn to those things which are more eternal and more important, such as nature and family," she says. "It's a great time to go into nature. Go camping."
Unfortunately, these tips seem about as realistically helpful as the fantastical prescriptions the Stranger came up with last month, such as Palium, which “[i]nduces a Valium-like calm with respect to all things Sarah Palin.”
In truth, the best plan is to either tune out until November 5th or white-knuckle it until the results are in (really in).
Friday, October 24, 2008 9:44 AM
John McCain's campaign tries on new messages like Paris Hilton tries on new shoes. But since Sarah Palin entered the race, they've managed to deliver at least one consistent rallying cry: We are the ticket of small-town values.
Small-town mythology has become the cornerstone of Palin’s pitch to voters. She spoke about “Main Streeters like me” in the vice presidential debate and talked up “Joe six-pack.” In her speech before the Republican National Convention, she told the audience that the nation grows “good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity.”
Palin’s speech channeled Thomas Jefferson, who wrote to a friend in 1785, “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country, and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds.” But the Jeffersonian portrait she sketched of rural America doesn’t tell the whole story.
Palin didn’t touch on the fact that small towns are hemorrhaging young people, who grow up and leave in search of opportunity. She didn’t mention that hope is scarce in some towns, as a 2008 survey (pdf) of rural Midwesterners completed by the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute found. Only 15 percent of those asked to forecast the future of their communities believed life there would be better in 10 years. Palin didn’t explain to the nation that small towns have fallen on hard times. Nor did she promise rural Americans that a Palin vice presidency would mean a better future was on its way.
Because that wasn’t really the point. Palin peddles small-town nostalgia and an outdated image of the “average American” to cast shadows of doubt on her enemies, not to offer solutions to her friends. The Wasilla gal is George Bush, the guy you’d like to swill beer with, in fierce pumps and trendy glasses. She embodies the same everyman appeal that Bush did and uses it to stoke the kind of fear and division that made Karl Rove a household name. But at a time when the country is fighting two wars abroad and trying to piece the economy back together at home, can the politics of cultural resentment still turn the election for Republicans?
To understand why, take a look back at the Republican National Convention, when McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told the Washington Post, “This election is not about issues.” If it was, the McCain camp looked to be fighting a losing battle as the campaign entered the home stretch: An ABC News / Washington Post poll released Oct. 13 reported that 68 percent of likely voters preferred Obama’s positions on the issues, with only 29 percent preferring McCain’s. But the poll found those voters favored McCain’s personal qualities over Obama’s 61 percent to 34 percent. The takeaway? McCain’s best shot at the White House was to make the campaign a referendum on character.
You might think that would mean we’d be hearing a lot about McCain’s dark days in Vietnam in these final weeks. But instead, the campaign has shaped its character attacks almost singularly around the image of Sarah Palin. They’ve deployed Palin’s small-town biography to tell the story of a fabled “real America” that the terrorist-friendly Obama, as Palin and others paint him, isn’t a part of. At an Oct. 16 fundraiser in Greensboro, North Carolina, Palin declared that, “the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America.” She went on that in these “pro-America areas of this great nation…we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans.”
“I bet bin Laden feels like a real asshole now,” Daily Show host Jon Stewart responded on the following Tuesday’s show. “What?! I bombed the wrong America?!” Stewart skewered Palin further saying, “I guess if you’re from New York City and you signed up to fight in Iraq and you died, I guess it doesn’t count.” Palin’s comments didn’t play much better beyond the Daily Show, either, and Palin eventually issued a half-hearted apology. The fact is, most folks don’t live in Palin’s “real America”; according to the New Republic, 84 percent of Americans live in the country’s metro areas.
It's true that rural voters play a disproportionate role in national elections. Just look at in Ohio in 2004, where they ignored pocketbook issues and handed George Bush the presidency because of his stances on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Palin’s job is to make sure rural voters put their values above their wallets again in 2008. But will they?
Small-town America no longer looks like a place Republicans can easily clinch by devoting a little airtime to their opponent’s Godless positions on abortion or gay marriage. Robert P. Jones, president of Public Religion Research, told National Public Radio that those two hot-button wedges of 2004 aren’t even among religious voters’ top five concerns this year. With social issues taking a back seat to the economy, Republican dominance in rural areas is waning. A late September poll by the Center for Rural Strategies showed McCain with a 10-point lead over Obama in rural America. The center's newest poll, however, shows a dramatic shift. Conducted in the first three weeks of October, the poll reports Obama leading McCain 46 percent to 45 percent among rural voters in 13 swing states.
Unlike past Democratic candidates, Obama has made a point of showing up in historically unfriendly territory, making sure rural swing voters hear his message. Explaining to New York Times Magazine reporter Matt Bai how he won rural Nevada in the Democratic primary, Obama said, “a lot of it just had to do with the fact that folks thought: Man, the guy is showing up. He’s set up an office. He’s doing real organizing. He’s talking to people.” According to Bai, Obama has 50 campaign offices in Virginia, 42 in Indiana, and 45 in North Carolina, all states his party usually writes off in national campaigns.
When he shows up, Obama appeals to rural voters with an economic message he's been hitting for some time. In July, for instance, he swung through rural Missouri on an economic tour, giving particular attention to his vision for the green economy of the future. The McCain campaign, by comparison, has delivered a shaky economic message at best. The economy simply isn’t what they want to talk about. McCain adviser Greg Strimple told the Washington Post in early October, “We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis." But the page has not turned on our economic woes, and unfortunately for McCain, voters are interested in talking about it.
Nevertheless, McCain and Palin continue to push a campaign that celebrates the common man in lore more than substance. Joe the Plumber, who has recently eclipsed Palin as the campaign’s “average” sensation, is McCain’s symbol du jour of the further economic pain a President Obama would impose on the country. Yet Joe, at his current income level, would fare better under Obama’s tax plan than McCain’s, exposing deep imperfections in the relationship between McCain's message and his policy.
McCain seized upon Joe without vetting just as he seized upon Sarah, out of a belief that symbolism could trump candor. Sarah Palin is indeed a powerful embodiment of a certain American story that has a tight hold on our imagination. America was born as a nation of small towns, and we tend to celebrate presidential stories that originate there. But that is no longer the America in which we live. In 2008, it's a mistake to believe that there is only one quintessential American story or that Sarah’s is any more American than Barack’s.
Photo by cmaccubbin, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 5:49 PM
Jews in Pennsylvania and Florida have been receiving deceptive political phone calls asking: Would it affect your voting choice to learn that “Barack Obama called for holding a summit of Muslim nations excluding Israel if elected president?” What if you learned that “the leader of Hamas, Ahmed Yousef, expressed support for Obama and his hope for Obama's victory?”
Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic received one of these misleading calls and tried to dig up who was behind the smear. The supervisor gave the name Central Marketing Research Inc., but would give little information beyond that. Ben Smith of the Politico got reports that the phone calls came from "Research Strategies" and were directed at people in the traditionally Jewish Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and in Key West, Florida.
The phone calls have been called “push polling” by a number of news organizations. Some have pointed out the similarities between the phone calls against Obama and the smears that hurt John McCain campaign in the 2000 election. David Kurtz, writing for Talking Points Memo, points out that the polls seem to be part of a real opinion poll “testing the effect of fear-mongering about Obama on Jewish voters,” rather than a traditional push poll. In either case, the smear seems to indicate that as distasteful as things have gotten in this election, they’re probably going to get worse.
UPDATE (9/17): The Politico’s Ben Smith reports that the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group behind other Obama attack ads, has taken responsibility for the poll.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008 4:26 PM
"Bush administration officials who pushed torture will need to be careful about their travel plans,” counsels New York attorney and Columbia Law School Professor Scott Horton in “Travel Advisory,” recently posted on the New Republic’s website.
For while it’s unlikely that the U.S. government can muster the political will to prosecute the likes of Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and Donald Rumsfeld for specifically discussing and, at the very least, tacitly approving the use of torture to interrogate suspected terrorists. It’s “reasonably likely” that another western democracy would assemble war crime charges against Bush’s puppetmasters, especially after the president leaves office in January.
According to an investigative magistrate in a NATO nation already assembling evidence against a “small group of Bush administration officials,” it’s unlikely anyone would be extradited on war-related charges.” But, the unnamed source tells Horton, “if one of the targets lands on our territory or on the territory of one of our cooperating jurisdictions, then we’ll be prepared to act."
Click here for Utne’s Special Online Project: Tracking Torture Coverage.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008 2:57 PM
A fight has broken out between the Daily Kos and MyDD, two of the most popular blogs in the liberal “Netroots” movement. The founders of the two blogs, Jerome Armstrong (MyDD) and Markos Moulitsas (DailyKos), coauthored the book Crashing the Gate back in 2006, and the members of both communities used to play well together. Now, Dana Goldstein reports for the New Republic, the two communities are fighting over bullying, misogyny, and Clinton versus Obama. Armstrong blogged about voting for Clinton, while Moulitsas endorsed Obama. Although the two founders are still friends, Goldstein wonders if the fight could be causing permanent damage to the cohesion of the liberal blogosphere.
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