I support authorizing the President to use military force in Syria because Assad's use of chemical weapons calls for the strongest possible response. Preventing the President from punishing Assad swiftly and painfully will mean that Assad's chemical weapon gambit worked and will set a horrible precedent.
One major criticism of the proposed military strike is that it has no clear objective. I completely disagree with that. The objetive is to attack Assad's military assets and personnel and degrade them to the extent that it is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would have been better off militarily had he never deployed chemical weapons.
To those who say we'd be better off spending money providing humanitarian aid to refugees rather than on missiles, I say get real. #1 not striking militarily actually decreases the likelihood that we'll provide humanitarian aid rather than increasing it. We have a long history of providing more humanitarian aid to areas where we've used force than areas we have not. #2 I'm not at all convinced that humanitarian aid to refugees will be more effective than cruise missiles in reducing human suffering in the long run. If Assad's chemical weapon strategy is vindicated that could lead him and other leaders to make decision that lead to immense future suffering.
It seems our apparently imminent military engagement with Syria has some people experiencing de ja vu. The parallels with Iraq are obvious. Neither country attacked us. Both are muslim nations. Both have oil. In both cases we are preparing to use military force. But the distinctions between the two situations are equally striking.
When it came to Iraq circa 2003, we were accusing Saddam of possessing chemical weapons. Accusations of actual use of chemical weapons referred to 20 year old incidents. In Syria's case, Assad is accused of having used chemical weapons less than 2 weeks ago.
Iraq circa 2003 had a fairly stable if not very good status quo that had lasted for more than 10 years. Syria has been in an acute crisis for more than 2 years now, with more than 100,000 people dying in a civil war.
I was raised Jehovah's witness, my parents are Jehovah's Witness and many of my extended family members are Jehovah's Witness. The Jehovah Witness lifestyle and philosophy leave a lot to be desired and there views on gender and sexual orientation are particularly deplorable and retrograde, but Jehovah's witnesses are not right wing.
Jonathan Chait, of The New Republic, has delivered a much needed rhetorical slap to the collective face of hysterical members of the left in an editorial in the New York Times, titled What the Left Doesn't Understand About Obama
The most common hallmark of the left’s magical thinking is a failure to recognize that Congress is a separate, coequal branch of government consisting of members whose goals may differ from the president’s. Congressional Republicans pursued a strategy of denying Obama support for any major element of his agenda, on the correct assumption that this would make it less popular and help the party win the 2010 elections. Only for roughly four months during Obama’s term did Democrats have the 60 Senate votes they needed to overcome a filibuster. Moreover, Republican opposition has proved immune even to persistent and successful attempts by Obama to mobilize public opinion. Americans overwhelmingly favor deficit reduction that includes both spending and taxes and favor higher taxes on the rich in particular. Obama even made a series of crusading speeches on this theme. The result? Nada.
That kind of analysis, however, just feels wrong to liberals, who remember Bush steamrolling his agenda through Congress with no such complaints about obstructionism. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald recently invoked “the panoply of domestic legislation — including Bush tax cuts, No Child Left Behind and the Medicare Part D prescription drug entitlement — that Bush pushed through Congress in his first term.”
Yes, Bush passed his tax cuts — by using a method called reconciliation, which can avoid a filibuster but can be used only on budget issues. On No Child Left Behind and Medicare, he cut deals expanding government, which the right-wing equivalents of Greenwald denounced as a massive sellout. Bush did have one episode where he tried to force through a major domestic reform against a Senate filibuster: his crusade to privatize Social Security. Just as liberals urge Obama to do today, Bush barnstormed the country, pounding his message and pressuring Democrats, whom he cast as obstructionists. The result? Nada, beyond the collapse of Bush’s popularity.
It's obvious that many people on this site are currently hysterical, wet and in pain. I recommend that everyone read this editorial in its entirety. [Side note: Chait takes a slap at some of my favorite "progressive" pundits to dislike: Glenn Greenwald, Jon Walker and Drew Westen]
I picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal yesterday and what I read in there was an absolute revelation. Just reading that one issue of that one newspaper I learned more about the ways this President is fighting for a progressive, liberal, populist agenda, the important ways he continues to move the agenda forward, and the obstacles he is up against, than I learn in two weeks of frequenting my favorite liberal websites.
I used to be a regular reader of the Wall Street Journal. Several years ago, I used to buy the dead tree version of the paper on regular basis. However, since I got an iPhone a few years ago, I've pretty much stopped buying newspapers. Now, I practically consume 100% of my printed news material on line. I used to also regularly read the Wall Street Journal on line; however, that ended sometime after they put up their pay wall and I decided I could no longer afford the subscription.
But yesterday my iPhone battery was practically dead, I forgot to bring a book and I had to take the E train from the World Trade Center to Jamaica, Queens, which is about and hour long ride. So, I went to the newsstand in the World Trade Center E station and found that they had a horrible selection. I wanted to get a New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Harpers or the Economist. No, no, no and no. Then I tried to get New York Times - nope. I briefly considered getting a Newsweek or Time, but, like I said, I was looking at an hour long train ride and I figured neither of those magazines would have enough interesting content to keep me busy that long.
Then I saw the Wall Street Journal sitting on a dusty shelf and thought to myself "hey, that'll do." It turned out to be the best $2 I've spent on reading material in a long time.
I do not mean to speak ill of the dead. Howard Zinn has a well-deserved place in the hearts of all liberals. However, the aphorism refered to in the title is an unfortunate legacy of that good man, because it is patently untrue. Worse, I believe it has a corrupting influence on the liberal mindset.
Don't get me wrong, dissent can be a form of patriotism. Under the right circumstances, it can even be a very high order of patriotism. But dissent is not the highest form of patriotism.
The highest form of patriotism, as I see it, is to do something for your country that is against your self-interest, narrowly understood, based on the belief that you are acting in the best interest of your country.
Such acts of patriotism include giving one's money or time to a cause they believe will improve the country, risking one's life for one's country, and, yes, speaking truth to power, particularly when doing so puts ones life, livelihood or freedom at risk.
The latest Daily Kos/SEIU/PPP poll was released today. If you'll recall, last week the President's favorable rating dropped from a +5 51/46 rating to a -5 45/50 a big, fat 10 point drop, while his job approval went from a -3 47/50 rating to a -10 43/53 rating, a slightly smaller 7 point drop.
As noted in the linked front page diary, while his favorable ratings recovered to a break even 48/48, +5 from last week, -5 from two weeks ago, his job approval actually slid another point to 42/53 -1 from last week, -11 from two weeks ago. Not terribly good news.
But when you look at the polling data provided, you find something pretty interesting.
This morning, I was very pleasantly surprised by something that happened, or rather didn't happen, here at Daily Kos. As my eye was running down the recent diary list, this title jumped out me: Yves Smith: Corrupt Obama Administration Pressuring NY AG to Support Mortgage Whitewash.
I thought the headline was over the top and over the line, but I was really shocked and disgusted by the contents of the article, which was reprinted in full as per bobswern's agreement with Yves Smith.
Here are a few highlights, from Smith's article:
It is high time to describe the Obama Administration by its proper name: corrupt.
[T]he nauseating gap between the Administration’s propaganda and the many and varied ways it sells out average Americans on behalf of its favored backers, in this case the too big to fail banks, has become so noisome that it has become impossible to ignore the fetid smell.
The Administration has now taken to pressuring parties that are not part of the machinery reporting to the President to fall in and do his bidding. We’ve gotten so used to the US attorney general being conveniently missing in action that we have forgotten that regulators and the AG are supposed to be independent. As one correspondent noted by e-mail, “When officials allegiances are to El Supremo rather than the Constitution, you walk the path to fascism.”
The latest example is its heavy-handed campaign to convert New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman to a card carrying member of the “be nice to our lords and masters the banksters” club. Schneiderman was the first to take issue with the sham of the so-called 50 state attorney general mortgage settlement. As far as the Administration is concerned, its goal is to give banks a talking point and prove to them that Team Obama is protecting their backs in a way that the chump public hopefully won’t notice.
Obama’s incentives are to come up with “solutions” that paper over problems, avoid meaningful conflict with the industry, minimize complaints, and restore the old practice of using leverage and investment gains to cover up stagnation in worker incomes. Potemkin reforms dovetail with the financial service industry’s goal of forestalling any measures that would interfere with its looting. So the only problem with this picture was how to fool the now-impoverished public into thinking a program of Mussolini-style corporatism represented progress.
[Foreword: I originally intended this diary to be, more or less, an encyclopedic rebuttal to all of the accusations of progressive malfeasance directed at President Obama. However, it quickly became unwieldy, so I've decided to begin an occassional series with the above-captioned title of which this is the first installment.]
Recently some champions of the left have taken to opining that perhaps Barack Obama is a "shill" or "stooge" for Wall Street. If you would like some examples of the genre, see these items by Matt Taibbi, David Sirota and Glenn Greenwald. If you want to see a clearinghouse and distillation of this sort of thinking in a rec-listed diary right here at Daily Kos, you can go check out One Pissed Off Liberal's Trojan Horse: The Obama Deception.
For those Obama critics who have repeatedly asked me to provide facts to support my controversial claim that President Obama is, in fact, a solid progressive, this diary is lengthy, chock full o' facts and I expect you to read every word of it. Time to eat your peas.
If you join me below the curlicue, I will demonstrate conclusively why the above-referenced accusations are as ludicrous as an Orly Taitz memorandum of law.
My title is apropos the latest Daily Kos/PPP/SEIU poll, which showed an ugly drop from last week.
The poll shows a week over week shift from a +5 51-46 favorability rating to a -5 45-50 favorability rating. If you look at breakdowns linked above they show that his favorability with women dropped from a +12 54-42 to a +7 51-44 rating during that period and that the bigger hit came from men, where he went from a -1 48-49 favorability rating to a -17 39-56 rating.
Now it also shows that his biggest drop was among Democrats where he went from a +72 85-13 favorability rating to a +63 79-16 favorability rating whereas with Republicans he went from a -71 13-84 favorability rating to -76 10-86 favorability rating and Independents had the least movement, going from a -1 47-48 rating to a -4 45-49 rating.
But where it gets really interesting is that his rating by liberals stayed flat at +75 going from 86-11 to 87-12. Among moderates he took a bit of a hit going from +27 61-34 to +20 57-37. But where he takes the major hit is among a group that was giving him very little support to begin with - conservatives. Among conservatives he went from a -52 23 -75 favorability rating -69 14-83 rating.
The other place he took a big hit was among Whites, going from a -13 42-55 rating to a -25 35-60 rating, a 12 point plunge. In contrast Blacks fell more modestly from a +79 89-10 rating to a +73 85 -12 rating and Hispanic approval actually went up substantially from a +22 59-37 rating to a +41 67-26 rating.
So, to sum up, it appears that President Obama is in trouble with white, male, moderate to conservative Democrats and Independants - fucking Blue Dogs! Who woulda thought it.
Anyone here have any good suggestions for how the President can win the Blue Dog vote back?
I have finally had it up to here with our capitulationist corporatist so-called Democratic neolibreral triangulating DLC Third Way triangulating Blue Dog conervadem Trojan Horse Neville Chamberlinian President. That's why I'm forming a new party, the "We Welcome Your Hatred Party," to give the American people some of that good old-time populist religion they've been a-thirstin' for.
In 2008, the American people were hungry for someone to tell them who to hate and that's what Barack Obama promised he'd do. But after he fooled everyone in to voting for him, it turned out that his real plan was to give Wall Street and the corporations everything they wanted by being a timid, weak-willed, spineless and supine lackey and/or shill.
Like Jane Hamsher, I think the tea party has a lot of things to admire: they are very angry, very loud, totally uncompromising and they hate, hate HATE President Obama, and that is all really excellent. Unfortunately all of those wonderful qualities are in service of a right wing agenda.
That's where the We Welcome Your Hatred Party comes in. We "Haters" (my proposed nickname for our group) admire real American leftwing populist heroes like William Jennings Bryan, Huey Long and Abby Hoffman.
We aren't afraid to tell people who to hate: corporations, general partnerships, limited liability partnerships, limited liability companies and any other legislatively created and legally recognized business entities.
Come join me in the glorious struggle brother and sister progressives. And to all you Obama stooges reading this: WE WELCOME YOUR HATRED!!!