Archive for June, 2007

Later on we can try a postmodernist impeachment agenda
June 30, 2007

What makes the idea of minimalist impeachment interesting to me is the whole idea of message focus. This has been a consistent problem for the left with any push for, well, anything – for example, perfectly good protests against the Iraq War get bogged down with extra baggage about preventing war with Iran and bringing an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Obviously these are both noble goals in of themselves, but the more elaborate the message is, the less effectively one can produce it. Plus, there are people who we might be able to sway to opposing the war if we don’t alienate them by using every opportunity to oppose the war to saddle it with other issues that they disagree with us on. That’s just not how you build a coalition.

When it comes to impeaching the President, it’s the same thing – if there was a reasonable response guaranteed to every impeachment-worthy sin in office than Bush would have already been impeached a dozen times over. But if we’re going to avoid muddling the case for impeachment, then perhaps the argument being used shouldn’t be big enough to fill a book.

Maybe instead the way to do this is to focus on the issue that we can build the broadest coalition on and let history judge him on all the rest. If it works, he’ll still be removed from office.

Not that I think a movement to impeach Bush would be successful – but it’s worth pursuing anyway. A central pillar of our democracy is that not even the president is above the law and I don’t see how we can accept that and still allow these crimes to pass without the proportionate response.

Back, Sort Of
June 30, 2007

I got back Thursday evening a now fully oriented NYU freshman. Maybe a little too oriented, given that I’ve still got a couple of months to go before I actually move in there. To an extent, it feels like I didn’t entirely come back from orientation.

I’ve been thinking about shifting this blog to covering more NYU-specific stuff when I actually go to school there. Maybe getting into city politics.

Moving back into the political arena, here’s something interesting I missed: Apparently we’re seeing a pattern in the administration of failing to hold onto classified materials. Not so much as a malicious thing (although the Plame leak was certainly that) but more of just an issue of incompetence.

PSA
June 25, 2007

I’m going to be at college orientation from tomorrow morning to Thursday afternoon, so there will be no posting during that time.

In the meantime, here’s a very important public service announcement from Tom Morello.

SCOTUS Rules Bong Hits Not Legitimate Form of Prayer
June 25, 2007

What makes this ruling particularly troublesome is precisely what the Post chooses to omit from the article – that the banner in question was not actually ever on school grounds.

This is a disturbing precedent for student rights. The Supreme Court is basically saying that public schools can punish kids for exercising their right to free speech off of school grounds, where it can in no way interfere with the school’s ability to educate.

You had better believe that this is going to be held up by prosecuting attorneys as overruling Tinker in the future. That’s not just bad news for school papers – that’s bad news for pretty much anyone in a public school.

Gotcha!
June 23, 2007

The thing about Rahm Emanuel is that he’s essentially a campaigner before he’s anything else. So any legislation that comes out of this guy exists primarily for the political advantage it lends to the Democrats.

So you get snarky “gotcha” legislation from him, like this gem.

Obviously there’s an important point to be made about Cheney’s insistence that he’s exempt from the rules governing the executive branch and the frightening precedent that sets. But I wonder if stunts like this don’t distract from the less entertaining but more important duties that Congress should be getting around to.


June 22, 2007

Mitt Romney has a War on Terror PowerPoint? That’s absolutely genius.

This is really a perfect example of how confused our priorities are in terms of who’s “serious” on national security and who isn’t. If you were against the war from the start and you think we need to withdraw, you’re not serious. If you throw around a bunch of buzzwords and have a PowerPoint that conversely lays out and obfuscates your ridiculous Manichean world view with slides like this:

Great plan! But first we need to consolidate our priorities and form a task force. And work smarter, not harder.

Hey Romney, did you fill out those TPS reports?


June 22, 2007

I’m a pretty big fan of protest music, but I’ll freely admit that like any music genre, it has its fair share of shit. The way you can tell good protest music from bad, I’ve discovered, is that bad protest music has a couple common attributes:

-Generally bad protest music is made by people who aren’t particularly knowledgeable regarding what they’re complaining about. Maybe they’re not even particularly interested in it, but everyone hates Bush so that seems like a profitable bandwagon to jump on.

-Bad protest music is generally pretty whiny. The songs that really work, though (like the Arcade Fire song that Matt uses as an example) are just plain pissed off.

That’s why Rage Against the Machine is one of the most effective musical vehicles for political change in recent history. It’s because instead of moaning about how we should “give peace a chance,” every single song quivers with righteous anger.

This post seems like as good an excuse as any to post Let Them Eat War. Bad Religion is probably one of the most consistently underrated punk bands out there, and one of my personal favorites. This song right here is their indictment of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq and it was basically the soundtrack to my work on the Lamont campaign.

(Bonus points: the rap in the bridge is performed by Sage Francis on the album)


June 21, 2007

I’m not going to pretend to understand a lot of the anti-Nader animosity that still exists on the left. Sure he was wrong when he said there wasn’t a jot of difference between the Democratic and Republican parties, but considering how things are going in the Democratic primary right now, it’s hard not to admit that he might still sort of have a point.

So it makes sense that he would want to run for president again. Of course, Kos is still harboring a little post-2000 resentment.

Anyone who clings to the fiction that President Al Gore would’ve been no different than President George W. Bush is beyond redemption.

But it doesn’t sound from the article he links to like Nader does cling to that fiction. In fact, it sounds a lot like Gore and Nader are on very friendly terms these days and have found some common ground.

And it sounds like Nader would be talking about some issues that desperately need to be addressed that both parties are ignoring. So maybe if a Nader candidacy were to gain enough steam so that Democrats were confronted with those issues and forced to rediscover their testicles, some good would come out of a Nader candidacy.

Bumblebee Puppy Rulez!!
June 21, 2007

Mustard Faced Dancing Guy was funny like eight months ago. Maybe.

Take Back America
June 21, 2007

In the aftermath of the Take Back America conference, John Nichols sees promise in the desperate GOP attacks on those candidates who participated.

The problem with that logic is that it generally doesn’t lead to anything. The GOP, in good times or bad, will always go after Democrats for any reason, regardless of whether or not it looks desperate. The thing is, these are RNC press releases. They can’t be traced back to any specific candidate, so no specific candidate will get the blame for sending them out.

So where does that put us? If liberals complain about the attacks, then it turns into a “plague on both our houses” things and Republicans and conservative Democrats alike get to complain about negative campaigning from both sides of the aisle, regardless of which side all of the specific examples of negative campaigning are coming from.

So no, I don’t see it as an example of GOP desperation, although examples of that do exist elsewhere. This is business as usual.

The new development from TBA, and this one is kind of disturbing, is Clinton’s policy shift on Iraq to make her seem more anti-war and progressive.

Clinton didn’t say anything at TBA that she hadn’t already said elsewhere. Given her schizophrenic Iraq policy, it would probably be impossible for her to say something about Iraq she hadn’t said before. But when she talked about getting out of Iraq this year, she framed it in some very disturbing language. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the MSN’s focus, so it only got a small mention in the Post article.

The group booed loudest when Clinton criticized the Iraqi government because it was like “blaming the victim,” Evans said.

A lot of Democrats have been using language like this or something similar (such as “the Iraqis need to step up,” or expressing frustration with how slowly the Iraqis are taking charge of their own country) and you know what? They need to shut the hell up. Implying that our continued involvement in this catastrophic quagmire is somehow the fault of the Iraqis displays an emotional cowardice almost as bad as the desperate pleas for an open-ended commitment.

The American government got Iraq into its current FUBAR status, thanks to the Bush administration with what was, at the time, a cheerful helping hand from the Democratic Party. And now instead of copping to how badly they fucked up, the Democrats are turning around and criticizing the Iraqis for how inefficiently they’re recovering from their violent rape at our hands.

But I guess whatever helps Clinton live with the fact that she voted for the war is fine as long as she actually supports an end to it. Given her track record, however, I’m skeptical on that count.

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