Sunday, August 27, 2006

Is Ned Lamont Way Too Into "Memento"?

All he needs to do is take off the tie, and Lamont is sporting the trademark cream suit / blue shirt combo that Leonard Shelby sported for most of Memento, after swiping it from Jimmy Grantz. (Okay, so I helped Lenny try on Lamont's tie to complete the match.) Maybe Lamont wanted to suggest in dramatic fashion that his prior votes for Republicans are all but lost to his memory, and that he is single-minded in his determination to track down and avenge himself on the mysterious stranger who broke into his home state and supported George Bush.

As long as Lamont is sartorially bringing up the analogy, we could easily take it further:

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Uygur on the Pakistan Solution

Cenk Uygur argues that our involvement with Pakistan is the right way to fight terrorism throughout the world - diplomatic engagement wherever possible, and enlisting the help of Islamic governments to work together to combat the true terrorists. There are a few things I'd add.

Another thing we've done exactly right in Pakistan that Uygur doesn't mention is the large amount of American aid provided to Pakistan in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake there last year. It wasn't even that much aid, or that expensive - but it caused a substantial rise in public sympathy toward America among the Pakistani public - no small feat.

If we went further and engaged in the kind of "weapons of mass salvation" campaign advocated by Jeffrey Sachs, even though it would involve a large rise in our foreign aid spending, it would still be only a drop in the bucket of defense spending, to which it might properly be compared, since could do a lot to shift sentiment to our favor in would-be "terrorist breeding grounds", in a grand extension of the Pakistan earthquake aid effect, and genuinely make our nation more secure.

Another major characteristic to account for in Pakistan's case is a leader who seems to be guided by rational pragmatism rather than dogmatic fervor, in Pervez Musharraf - something shared in common with Mohammad Khatami and maybe Bashar al-Assad, but unfortunately not with Ahmedinejad, or the clerics who wield the true power in Iran, or, say, Kim Jong-il. Opportunities for diplomatic engagement with those leaders on the level of our engagement with Musharraf don't exist, nor do the distinctions between them and rogue elements within their borders in terms of threats to the American interest.

The example of the Pakistan Solution also can't be discussed without mentioning that allying with Pakistan has still been something of a deal with the devil - it means going along with a nation armed with nukes that it never should have been allowed to acquire, even overlooking its past proliferation of nuclear technology to other unsavory regimes, strengthening the undemocratic administration of a general who seized power in a coup d'etat, and supporting a perennial threat to a great democratic nation on its border, India - which works as long as we are closely involved, but that is only a quasi-stable state.

The Pakistan Solution, or better yet, a magnified version of it, might work with Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, possibly with Sudan and Burma. Iran is a unique case, with a large and well-educated and generally pro-American citizenry. In North Korea, the regime is the problem and there is no domestic element with competing interests to the state. If there is one state more than any other that has little chance for a successful resolution without a proactive policy of regime change, and a compelling need for such resolution to liberate its people and remove its capacity for imminent threat, it is the regime of the "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il.

The "far left wing" now encompasses Goldwater

Never one to absorb a new insight no matter the evidence, or to distinguish the difference between news and editorial, the Washington Post's Dan Balz is still hammering away his Rove-issued propaganda on the Connecticut Senate race being about "the politics of anger". For two paragraphs in a row, he equates Lieberman with "civility" and "bipartisanship". Given this administration, why should civility be the highest priority? (Although, Balz's only "example" of Lieberman's civility is to quote Lieberman announcing that the Lamont victory was being celebrated by terrorists. Vote for me or you're a pawn of the terrorists - a real paragon of civility, Joe.) And what does bipartisanship mean when Lieberman is too far right-wing for a traditionally Republican voter like me? Balz must be reacting against that far-left-wing extremist who said, "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!" That Barry Goldwater's edict is equated with the uncompromising far left wing shows how ludicrously well certain elements in the national debate have internalized Karl Rove's spin.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

To Lieberman, from one of your former campaign donors: drop the towel already and get behind Lamont

I donated to Lieberman's presidential campaign in 2004. I had been mostly a Republican voter prior to the Bush administration taking office and turned the GOP into a party of opposition to fundamental American principles. Without going through the specifics, I thought Lieberman represented the best ideas without regard to partisan affiliation.

That is no longer the case, for reasons best laid out in this editorial by the New York Times - and the background for which is best laid out in this memorandum by then General Counsel of the U.S. Navy, Alberto Mora. As the Times put it:

In his effort to appear above the partisan fray, he has become one of the Bush administration’s most useful allies as the president tries to turn the war on terror into an excuse for radical changes in how this country operates. Citing national security, Mr. Bush continually tries to undermine restraints on the executive branch: the system of checks and balances, international accords on the treatment of prisoners, the nation’s longtime principles of justice. His administration has depicted any questions or criticism of his policies as giving aid and comfort to the terrorists. And Mr. Lieberman has helped that effort.

Anyone who actually tries to paint Ned Lamont's stance on the war as far-left-wing, or the rejection of Lieberman as an enforcement of narrow Democratic Party dogma, is shockingly out of touch with the American people, around two-thirds of whom are against the continuing presence in Iraq and against the Bush administration, as the polls make clear. This includes not just Democrats, whether far-left-wing or not, but an overwhelming number of independents, including former Republicans driven into exile from the hostile takeover of their party, such as myself, and people like John Dean and Cenk Uygur.

It is continuing support for the status quo of our occupation of Iraq, with its disastrous mismanagement, inadequate troops, and disregard for human rights or distinguishing the innocent, that is a radical extremist position. And it is the broad bipartisan opposition to that status quo among the American people that Lamont laid claim to. Lieberman needs to recognize this, and bow out of his increasingly embarrassing independent run.

The Lamont victory in the Connecticut primary can be viewed in part as a victory for the influence of blogs - and none moreso than firedoglake, which has been promoting Lamont since his name recognition in his own state was within statistical noise of zero. Now firedoglake is promoting Dave Mejias for New York's third district, on Long Island, opposite Peter King. And what do you know, but the Cook Political Report has added NY-3 to its list of competitive House races, bringing the total of vulnerable GOP House members in all categories up to 55 (compare the previous month). The Cook doesn't do that lightly - it declined to recategorize the Minnesota Senator race from "toss-up" even after several polls have shown Amy Klobuchar with a double-digit lead (hooray!). Take a look at Mejias.

Journalistic standards slipping at Maxim?

A nice little gem inside this piece about Maxim laying off some of its staff... Maxim actually had a fact-checker to lay off in the first place?!