Showing posts from March, 2008

electronic intifada

Facebook is now the Virtual Front for the Israel-Palestine conflict. Facebook users residing in the highly controversial settlement of Maale Adumim were incensed when they discovered that they were listed as residing in "Palestine" by default. Reuters quotes one settler , Ari Zimmerman, as saying "I am a citizen of Israel, as are all of the other residents of Ariel. We do not live in 'Palestine', nor does anyone else." A Facebook group was quickly established in protest, called "Facebook Has No Right To Say I Live In Palestine" ( link ). In response, Palestinian Facebook users mobilized to create their own groups, including "Action against Facebook delisting "PALESTINE" as a country / Hometown" ( link ) and "Protest Facebook's categorisation of Israeli settlements as 'Israel'" ( link ). As with any online dispute that mirrors a real-world conflict, new groups are created and membership in these groups fluct

post-racial politics

Jerome quotes approvingly of a piece in the LA Times which argues that Obama made a huge mistake by giving his speech on race, because it didn't evaporate the Wright controversy, it just exacerbated attitudes against Obama on the matter: I waited in vain for our hybrid presidential candidate to speak the simple truth that there is no such thing as "race," that we all belong to the same race -- the human race. I waited for him to mesmerize us with a singular and focused appeal to hold all candidates to the same standards no matter their race or their sex or their age. But instead Obama gave us a full measure of racial rhetoric about how some of us with an "untrained ear" -- meaning whites and Asians and Latinos -- don't understand and can't relate to the so-called black experience. ...I expected Obama, who up to now had been steering a perfect course away from the racial boxes of the past, to challenge racial labels and so-called black experiences. We&#

Obama policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan

On the 5th anniversary of the Iraq War, Barack Obama delivered a foreign policy address in which he touched on numerous issues. I am excerpting the portion of his remarks about our Pakistan and Afghanistan policy, however, because I think this is the most critical element. In a nutshell, he advocates a post-Pervez policy, tying American aid to Pakistan not to stability under president Musharraf but rather towards progress in rooting out extremist enclaves and making genuine progress towards democracy. Afghanistan policy: The war in Iraq has emboldened the Taliban, which has rebuilt its strength since we took our eye off of Afghanistan. Above all, the war in Iraq has emboldened al Qaeda, whose recruitment has jumped and whose leadership enjoys a safe-haven in Pakistan – a thousand miles from Iraq. The central front in the war against terror is not Iraq, and it never was. What more could America's enemies ask for than an endless war where they recruit new followers and try out new ta

transcript: Obama speech on race

The complete text of today's speech by Barack Obama is reprinted here below the fold. It's a wonderful speech, that calls all of America together and repudiates the race card even as it insists that the grievances of black America - and white America - are founded in legitimate concerns. It repudiates the anger of Black America as expressed by Rev. Wright but refuses to disown him in a cynical political ploy. It truly is what America needs to hear. And it is absolutely required reading in full, by Obama's supporters and his detractors alike.   OBAMA SPEECH IN FULL: A MORE PERFECT UNION Tuesday, March 18th, 2008/ 10:17:53 ET Philadelphia, Pennsylvania �We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.� Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America�s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean t

losing the war for hearts and minds

A poll of Arab public opinion in six countries finds that the perception of the Bush foreign policy is that it brings less peace, more terror, and less democracy : In a series of questions, Telhami found a largely negative view of the conflict in Iraq. A strong majority of respondents answered that the war in Iraq has brought less peace (81 percent), more terrorism (78 percent), and less democracy (58 per cent) to the region. In addition, 77 percent of respondents said that Iraqis were worse off as a result of the war. Only a small number of respondents believed that the United States' objective in Iraq was to spread democracy. Rather, a plurality of respondents believed that the United States' primary motivation for the war is its interest in oil, and an important number believed that the war was motivated by a desire to protect Israel and to seek regional dominance. The MENA foreign policy objectives for the next Administration are rather neatly summarized (in the reverse) ab

defending Obama in the blogsphere

Chris Bowers and Jerome Armstrong both argue that the progressive blogsphere has been lax in defending Obama on the matter of his ex-pastor Wright. Bowers argues it's because Obama isnt sufficiently progressive to engender loyalty: Obama is not a part of any progressive fights, so there's no independent organizing going on on his behalf from people who actually understand the right-wing media and how it operates. He's decided he's a post-partisan politician, and when a politician makes that choice, it's not just a disincentive for partisans to fight for that person. maybe the major A-list progressive bloggers haven't stepped up to Obama's defense; I don't know. However if you venture a bit further out into the long tail I think you will find plenty of bloggers, liberal and progressive alike, defending him. One example . In fact you will even find conservatives like Daniel Larison and Captain's Quarter defending him. My own defense on the issue

a proposal for Florida and Michigan

I have a modest (non satirical) proposal to solve the issue of Florida and Michigan. First, the easy one, Florida. Since the playing field was largely level, simply honor the results, but assign only half as many delegates to Florida's pool. Thus, both Clinton and Obama retain their fraction of the delegate pool, but the state as a whole is penalized for breaking the DNC rules (delegates which would have gone to Edwards, etc would be discarded, not halved). For Michigan, to be fair, Clinton did outperform "Uncommitted" by 55-40. The argument for a 50-50 split is unfair because it awards Obama votes that were intended for Clinton (voter intent is sacrosanct in those situations where it can reasonably be determined). Therefore Clinton should indeed gain her 55% fraction of Michigan's delegates. However, Obama should then receive the full remaining fraction. It is true that Obama may not have received 100% of the non-Clinton votes, but many voters likely did not vote, so

Hagee and Wright

No one should mistake Daniel Larison for a fan of Barack Obama. However, Larison is an authentic conservative voice who expresses his opinion independently of party affiliations. His defense of Obama (and critique of McCain) is thus notable and appreciated: ne of the best things that can be said about Obama is that he seems to understand that loyalty entails keeping faith with friends and colleagues after it has become politically dangerous to do so. A lot of people give his church grief for preaching against an aspirational “middle-classness,” and I understand the objections to this view, but at its core this view entails a call to solidarity with your community and a willingness to remain loyal to that community even though better opportunities may beckon beyond the horizon. Obama really shouldn’t have to answer for what Wright says, but I also think that his loyalty to Wright should not be an occasion for bashing the man. There are plenty of things in his record, or the lack the

Elliot Giuliani

I confess that I didn't know much about Eliot Spitzer prior to his meltdown. However, I am rather disturbed by what I am reading about the way in which Spitzer used the power of his office for vendettas in a manner that reminds me of Rudy Giuliani. Spitzer's weapon of choice was the Martin Act : The purpose of the Martin Act is to arm the New York attorney general to combat financial fraud. It empowers him to subpoena any document he wants from anyone doing business in the state; to keep an investigation totally secret or to make it totally public; and to choose between filing civil or criminal charges whenever he wants. People called in for questioning during Martin Act investigations do not have a right to counsel or a right against self-incrimination . Combined, the act's powers exceed those given any regulator in any other state. ... Now for the scary part: To win a case, the AG doesn't have to prove that the defendant intended to defraud anyone, that a transaction

The Muslim Brotherhood

Marc Lynch aka The Father of the Aardvark is an expert on Arab media and politics. He has done exhaustive research and journalism on the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, and has argued quite persuasively that the MB is indeed serious about its commitment to democracy . Unfortunately, the United States has largely looked the other way while the Mubarak regime systematically persecutes the MB invoking the rhetoric of state security - rhetoric that is revealed to be a lie when moderate, liberal and pro-Western members of the Brotherhood are imprisoned and or prohibited from leaving the country . Lynch laments, “I’ve grown tired of debating the finer points of the Brotherhood’s party platform searching for clues as to their true feelings about democracy at a time when large numbers of their members are once again being arrested for the crime of trying to participate in elections.” For more of an inside look at the Brotherhood, read Lynch's interview with Abd el-Moneim Abou el-Fattouh ,

two muslims in Congress

at City of Brass, I look at Andre Carson's victory in the special election for Indiana's CD-7 in the context of muslim-American and Desi political identity.

very odd, indeed

Why are pundits so enamoured of the Survey USA 50-state head to head poll? Daniel Larison is just one example of how the punditsphere, both left and right, has read entirely too much into it . The oddness of the results in New Hampshire also stands out: we’re supposed to believe that Clinton, who actually won the Democratic primary there, will run eight points behind Obama and lose a state that has been trending dramatically Democratic, but that both win Ohio in a walk? This polling doesn’t show McCain necessarily winning New Jersey, but it does show Obama’s limited appeal there as of right now. This is an important point: McCain isn’t the one making New Jersey a battleground state in this match-up. In any other cycle and with almost any other match-up that we could have had, New Jersey would have likely been solidly Democratic. Obama does rather badly in his current polling in Massachusetts: he wins the state, but receives just 49%? Sure, The results are interesting but how can t

Hillary can't win - but should stay in

Slate has a cool toy - an online delegate estimator for the Democratic primary. I plugged in an Obama loss by 20 points in EVERY single remaining primary and caucus. Michigan and Florida are not included. The result? 1613 delegates for Obama versus 1596 delegates for Clinton. And the delegate counter is actually optimistic towards Clinton, because it doesn't account for the " blowout principle ." In a nutshell, Obama still has a 17-delegate lead going into the convention even if he loses by an insane, gigantic, utter blowout margin in every single state from here on out. In reality, he won't lose every contest, obviously, and the ones he does lose won't be by 20 point margins. It's also quite relevant that pretty much every undecided superdelegate who has been asked, has said they will unequivocally NOT vote to overturn the results of the popular will. They recognize that this would destroy the party and especially drive away all the young voters who are the

NAFTA-gate debunked

Obama's seeming misstep regarding NAFTA was most likely a setup, a collaboration between John McCain and the conservative Canadian government to bruise Obama by striking at his greatest strength, his aura of integrity. The Canadian Broadcast Corporation has now investigated the issue and vindicated Obama . Key finding: the Canadian embassy now admits that "may have misrepresented the Obama advisor". More details about the CBC report here. The Canadians are interfering with our election! I think we should invade.

Don't mourn: organize

Big Tent Democrat at TalkLeft disputes Ari Berman's article in The Nation, and says that Obama is no Howard Dean . And he invokes the Speech. I could take issue with BTD's assertion that Obama has not embraced the same Democratic values that Dean made the centerpiece of his campaign. But that's somewhat tangential to the real point of contention, which is what Dean's legacy truly is. BTD seems to think Dean's legacy was his presidential run in 2004, but the real legacy is the 50-state strategy that Dean has put into place since becoming DNC chair, and that's the true manner in which Obama is The Perfect Storm v2.0. As the saying goes, don't mourn, organize. BTD still seems to be mourning 2004. But this is 2008, and the best way to enact a democratic agenda and promote Democratic values is to win . And that's what the 50-state strategy is all about. Is Obama enough of a Fighting Democrat? Well, thats a debate worth having (and BTD provides no analysis be