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Fri Apr 03, 2015 at 07:05 AM PDT

Reagan Republican Bankrolls Rahmbo

by RFK Lives

The lead story in today's NYT business section baldly sets forth the real stakes in the upcoming Chicago mayoral run-off.  While the story's headline (which describes Rahmbo and billionaire GOP investor Kenneth Griffith as "Chicago's odd couple") is inaccurate, the content of the article more than makes up for that inaccuracy.

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Tue Feb 24, 2015 at 04:43 PM PST

Torture does not stop at water's edge

by RFK Lives

Charles Pierce, as usual, gets it here:

But this is what can happen if you normalize torture in the public mind the way that the Avignon Presidency and its acolytes did and then, when a new administration comes in, it declines to prosecute the people involved and, indeed, it fights to keep secret what was done in the name of the American people. Authoritarians wear all kinds of uniforms, and they can convince themselves that almost everyone is a threat of some kind or another. This is now a country that tortures, and torture does not stop at the water's edge. It is a decision that was made for us, but it is a decision that nobody, not even the president the country elected twice, has chosen fully to reverse. This is a country that tortures. And we live with it.
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into 2015 as per the lead FP story in today's NYT:

President Obama decided in recent weeks to authorize a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned, a move that ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year.

Mr. Obama’s order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year, according to several administration, military and congressional officials with knowledge of the decision. The new authorization also allows American jets, bombers and drones to support Afghan troops on combat missions.

In an announcement in the White House Rose Garden in May, Mr. Obama said that the American military would have no combat role in Afghanistan next year, and that the missions for the 9,800 troops remaining in the country would be limited to training Afghan forces and to hunting the “remnants of Al Qaeda.”

The decision to change that mission was the result of a lengthy and heated debate that laid bare the tension inside the Obama administration between two often-competing imperatives: the promise Mr. Obama made to end the war in Afghanistan, versus the demands of the Pentagon that American troops be able to successfully fulfill their remaining missions in the country.

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During the rush to war in 2002, an IL state senator said the following:

I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.

That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors...and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

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Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 09:03 AM PST

Pierce's Thanksgiving Post

by RFK Lives

Charles Pierce, as usual, offers cogent commentary on Thanksgiving.  On a holiday that seems to have morphed into a celebration of shopping, eating, and corporate sponsorship, it's good to be reminded of the higher purpose of our democracy:

It is a hard road. It is a dangerous passage. If we are true to ourselves, it is a pilgrimage that leads toward justice. It is a pilgrimage that leads toward charity. If we are true to ourselves, it is a pilgrimage at the end of which a just government is formed from an existing political commonwealth, over and over again. Sometimes, as individuals, we lose faith in the journey and turn back, out of fear and doubt, and because there's some place on the map where it says that dragons be. Sometimes, as a people and as a nation, we lose faith in the journey and turn back, out of fear and doubt, and because we don't even realize that we drew the map ourselves, and that it is our fear and our doubt and our lack of faith in the collective enterprise that created the dragons in the first place, sometimes out of our fellow citizens. We turn back because we think the place we left is safer and more secure than the place on the other side of the dark and uncertain sea. But it never is.
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Tue Nov 12, 2013 at 08:31 PM PST

PBS, JFK, and why I'm a Dem

by RFK Lives

Like, I suspect, many of us here, I just finished watching the American Experience documentary on JFK.  I have neither the time nor the inclination to address all the reasons why that film struck me so deeply at a gut level.  It caused me, however, to reread his 1963 American University speech, which is always worthy of serious reflection and consideration.

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Has anyone on either end of PA Ave ever bothered to read Federalist #26?  Does anyone understand why Article I, Sec. 8 contains the following limitation on military expenditures:

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
I suspect that few on the Hill (esp. the self-described "constitutionalists" on the other side) and even fewer in WH or the Pentagon are familiar w/ this prohibition or its stated purposes.  Hamilton explained it as follows (below the swirl):
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How about the WaPo?  Those 2 outlets, after all, initially published the Pentagon Papers in 1971:

The study comprised 3,000 pages of historical analysis and 4,000 pages of original government documents in 47 volumes, and was classified as "Top Secret - Sensitive" ("Sensitive" is not an official security designation; it meant that access to the study should be controlled)
The study, which included cables, presidential memos, and field memos from Vietnam, was not officially declassified until 2011.
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Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 04:30 PM PDT

NYT: "The Fed, Summers and Money"

by RFK Lives

The FP of today's NYT print edition contains a detailed profile of Larry Summers and his activities since he left the WH at the end of 2010.  Surprisingly enough, this story has yet to be diaried.  I will, accordingly, pick up the baton while trying to minimize editorial content.

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I was lucky enough to make a pilgrimage to the graves of the 3 Kennedy brothers at Arlington today.  As is common knowledge, the JFK gravesite features the eternal flame.  It also features excerpts from his Inaugural Address.  As is, I suspect, less well-known, RFK's gravesite has excerpts from 2 of his more famous public statements.  It has the following excerpt from his 1966 South Africa speech:

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice. He sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance.
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Most of us recall the firestorm that circulated around our presidential nominee in the wake of his 10/04 NYT Magazine interview, where he said the following:

When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. ''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,'' Kerry said. ''As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.''
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On April 5, 1968, RFK only had one speaking engagement.  He made no other public appearances on the day after the MLK assassination.  He spoke to the Cleveland City Club on that dark day about The Mindless Menace of Violence. His words are as relevant on this dark day as they were then.

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