Showing posts from January, 2007

Obama takes a stand?

Well, I wanted Obama to take a principled stand on the big issues of the day. He already committed himself to universal health care. Now he's drawing an unambigous line on Iraq : WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today introduced binding and comprehensive legislation that not only reverses the President’s dangerous and ill-conceived escalation of the Iraq war, but also sets a new course for U.S. policy that can bring a responsible end to the war and bring our troops home. “Our troops have performed brilliantly in Iraq, but no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else’s civil war,” Obama said. “That’s why I have introduced a plan to not only stop the escalation of this war, but begin a phased redeployment that can pressure the Iraqis to finally reach a political settlement and reduce the violence.” The Obama plan offers a responsible yet effective alternative to the President's failed policy of escalatio

What Should I Ask Bill Richardson About Foreign Policy?

[Cross-posted at ProgressiveHistorians .] Well, folks, I have some pretty big news.  Yesterday morning, I posted this diary , which discussed the need for a visionary foreign policy in the context of Woodrow Wilson's 1919 Pueblo, Colorado speech in support of the League of Nations.  In it, I argued that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is the only Democratic Presidential candidate who has made foreign policy his top priority, but that he still had a ways to go as far as developing a comprehensive foreign policy vision. Last night, I received an e-mail from a Richardson staffer who had read my piece.  He wanted to let me know that Richardson had in fact articulated a more complete international vision than I had realized.  He also asked me whether I wanted to interview Governor Richardson on foreign policy issues. To make a long story short (or a short story shorter), I'll be submitting a list of foreign policy-related questions for Richardson via e-mail within the week.  I&

a catechism for reactionaries

Paul Cella pens a manifesto for "reactionary" conservatives - positive connotation intended. One of his points is that free speech should not be absolute. I debate that contention with him in the comment thread.

Foreign Policy Redux

[Cross-posted at Progressive Historians .] After reading my story last night calling for a visionary foreign policy, a Richardson staffer e-mailed me a link to the following speech, delivered by Richardson last summer: Democrats know from experience that maximizing our national strength means knowing when to work with others, and when to act alone. It means knowing when and how to employ our great military. Above all, it means understanding that military power and diplomacy are not alternatives to one another, but rather are complementary sources of strength. What the Bush Administration has failed to understand is that while diplomacy without power is weak, power without diplomacy is blind. Democrats offer real solutions that provide a new direction for America. We need a new realism in our foreign policy, which includes the following elements: One, achieve national security through energy independence. We need a man on the moon effort to reduce our dependency on foreign oil -- go

In Search of a Foreign Policy Vision

[Cross-posted at ProgressiveHistorians .] On September 25, 1919, the day before he suffered the first of a series of strokes that that would leave him incapacitated for the rest of his life, Woodrow Wilson delivered the last and most brilliant speech of his political career.  The location: Pueblo, Colorado.  The subject: the League of Nations. The most dangerous thing for a bad cause is to expose it to the opinion of the world. The most certain way that you can prove that a man is mistaken is by letting all his neighbours know what he thinks, by letting all his neighbours discuss what he thinks, and if he is in the wrong you will notice that he will stay at home, he will not walk on the street. He will be afraid of the eyes of his neighbours. He will be afraid of their judgment of his character. He will know that his cause is lost unless he can sustain it by the arguments of right and of justice. The same law that applies to individuals applies to nations. ... We must see that al

on matters of record

My co-blogger Nonpartisan left a comment at MyLeftWing , which was just so concisely on-target that I wanted to capture it for posterity. The context is about whether voting records matter for presidential aspirants. they're running for President, not Senator -- a job where you set the national agenda, not cast votes on bills other people offer up. I want to know what the candidates want to accomplish in their four years as President, not what they've done in past. I also want to know what impact they intend to have on American political discourse, something Presidents do and Senators really don't. None of this is told by someone's voting record. spot on.

Discussing the future of Iraq, without the baggage

I'd like to discuss Iraq for once, without mentioning Saddam, Bush, WMD, or neocons. I'd like to discuss Iraq, for once, without mentioning Democrats or Republicans, or invoking a concept like "victory" whose meaning is completely variable depending on which particular intersection of competing interests you choose to embrace. I'd like to discuss Iraq without nebulous worrying about a Shi'a Crescent. I'd like to discuss Iraq without hearing about Democracy, or about Israel, or America. Iraq is Iraq. Can we have that discussion, or are we too bound up in our interests outside Iraq to discuss Iraq, for its own sake? Here's what we should be talking about, honestly, and without knee-jerk recourse to the various intellectual crutches I listed above. Is national reconciliation possible between Shi'a and Sunni? What manner of accomodation should be made for Kurdish sovereignity aspirations? Who is being protected by the presence of foreign occupation tro

The Cult of Personality

[Cross-posted at My Left Wing and ProgressiveHistorians .] I hate candidacies like Hillary Clinton's -- big, glitzy, establishment-run, and uninterested in issues like people power. But today I'm incredibly glad Clinton's in the race, because her behemoth of a campaign acts as a check on this : Nine days ago, a guy named Farouk Olu Aregbe started a facebook group called one million strong for Barack . A graduate of Missouri Western State University, Aregbe was the student body President for two terms and the President of the black student association, and he's now pursuing an MBA. The facebook group he startedhas broken the 100,000 member barrier. The target is 1,000,000 members by February 5. Every campaign thinks that they are going to be awesome online, that they will hire the best strategists and focus on what the internet can do for them. But here we have a facebook group that might sign up one million young people in three weeks. Now, of course the notion

abolish the corporate income tax

Kevin Drum notes that the age of conservative tax revolt is ending , heralded by the last six years of profligate spending and massive deficits under Republican rule. Fiscal conservatism is dead, at least as far as conservatives go. It's clear that taxes must go up if we are to meet the challenges of the more dangerous world of the 21st century. We need a larger army with better peace-keeping and nation-building training; we need national healthcare; we need to meet the challenge of global warming (which as Al Gore just said to a cheering crowd in Boise , only lacks political will, "and political will is a renewable resource.") The best way to raise revenue is probably some kind of VAT , but the regressive nature of such consumption taxes would have to be addressed. Of course, introducing a VAT would be a huge political challenge, so as part of a grand bargain to make it more palatable, Kevin has the novel idea of pairing such a policy with abolishing corporate income ta

Do we need a hero as President?

[Cross-posted at ProgressiveHistorians .] Rick Shenkman , in an excellent essay, argues persuasively that we don't. Adapting a framework of Bruno Bettelheim's, he compares JFK, Reagan, and Obama as different types of heroic figures in the American psyche. I highly recommend the entire essay, though I would take some issue with Shenkman's postulate that Democrats have not seen an Obama-like figure since the 1960's with JFK and RFK, one who inspires "ecstatic joy." For many activists, Howard Dean inspired that kind of mindless ecstasy in 2004. Perhaps for a broader spectrum, Jesse Jackson inspired it in 1988. Here's Shenkman's punchline regarding Obama: What kind of hero is Obama? I don't think we can know for sure quite yet, though he seems very JFKish to me. But that he is in the heroic mold can't be doubted. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether what we need is a hero or a president. Sometimes presidents can be heroes. But rare

nailing down Obama

I've been arguing for some time that Obama, despite a compelling personal story, immaculate history of selfless public service and social work, and mastery of unifying rhetoric that does admittedly push just the right emotional buttons for a purple-politics inclined fellow like myself, still hasn't said a single practical thing in terms of policy prescriptions. When he does, his fairytale "above it all" meta-political persona is going to crudely deflate and he will be projected onto either the "wonk" or the "hack" axes like the rest of us mere mortals. Conservative blogger Daniel Larson, whose weblog is the epitome of Purple commentary, thinks it's the Wonk's Road ahead: By this time next year, Obama will have had to say something distinctive about substantive policy. He will have to cast votes on the war and numerous other issues that he will have to be able to defend, and this time he won’t have a cartoon opponent like Alan Keyes to ove

Battle of the campaign advisors: Dodd vs. Edwards

Hey fellow Deaniacs, remember the guy who said this ? [Dean] kicks up so much dust to make sure voters never ask, "Is this man ready to be leader of the free world?" Once the campaign is on that turf, and not the Internet and fly-arounds, that’s when we will show our real strength. Or this ? [Dean]'s tapped into an angry, motivated constituency who, for one quarter at least, pulled out their checkbooks. Yes, folks, Jim Jordan has now signed on to work for Christopher Dodd . Compare Dodd's choice with this guy : We don't need another commission. What we need is action. What we need is pressure. What we need is enforcement and action. David Bonior , that's who. New campaign manager for John Edwards . Who do you think made the best choice?  

Why Edwards over Obama?

I think it largely inevitable that Obama will declare his presidential ambitions before the end of January. I am a native of Illinois, and have a deep respect for this man. But I think that in the end he is running for the wrong reasons. His motives are gold, but his assessment and strategy are based on the reality crafted by fawning media coverage, and the illusion of invincibility that arises from never having truly been tested in a national campaign by a worthy opponent. In a nutshell, Obama is being seduced by the tales of his own prowess and his own exceptionalism. Edwards, meanwhile, is walking a deliberately harder path . Edwards gave up his Senate seat in 2004 to run and has spent the intervening two years building genuine grassroots organizations. And now as he announces his campaign he is embracing the very issues that even mainstream liberals tend to overlook - the poor, the weak. The symbolism of announcing from New Orleans brings tears to the eye - a commitment and state

Lying Plagiarists for President!

[Note: This is my first post at Nation-Building, and I'm proud to be the newest part of the team here. This post is crossposted at my community site, ProgressiveHistorians , as well as at Daily Kos , MyDD , and My Left Wing . I promise not all my posts will be as hard-hitting as this one.] Greetings! I'm Nonpartisan, proprietor of ProgressiveHistorians and longtime liberal blogger. I'm here to tell you about a new project I'm heading up, a new grassroots movement that will sweep the country with its brilliance: Lying Plagiarists for President . Much in the same way Unity08 is a front group for Michael Bloomberg, Lying Plagiarists for President is organized as a platform for 2008 Presidential candidate Joseph Biden . Co-chaired by former Columbia University professor Joseph Ellis , former New York Times columnist Jayson Blair , and former Washington Post blogger Ben Domenech , who crossed parties to back Biden, the group's long-term goals include providing re

10 Questions for Heather Mac Donald

Over at GNXP I have a 10 questions up for Heather Mac Donald, the atheist conservative who was recently the center of controversy because of her vocal secularity on the Right. Below the fold is the first Q & A. 1) OK, I'll get this out of the way. What prompted you to "come out" as an atheist in The American Conservative earlier this year? A friend of mine suggested that you might have become frustrated with the lack of a "reality based" conservatism during this administration, in particular in its attitude toward immigration. Is he going down the right track? I wrote The American Conservative piece out of frustration with the preening piety of conservative pundits. I attended a New York cocktail party in 2003, for example, where a prominent columnist said to the group standing around him: "We all know that what makes Republicans superior to Democrats is their religious faith." This sentiment has been repeated in print ad nauseam, along with its