Monthly Archives: June 2008

Wesley Clark is Right; Obama Camp Wrong

The Obama campaign is wrong to reject Wesley Clark’s comments made on Face the Nation yesterday morning, for several reasons: 1) Clark’s comments are accurate on their face; 2) they get to a larger narrative about McCain (his military service qualifies him to be president) that Obama must challenge and change; 3) Criticizing your own supporters for making accurate statements about the enemy lowers the bar in terms of acceptable campaign behavior.  Clark was not even close to swiftboating McCain; Obama’s criticism of Clark allows McCain to assume a self referenced “high road” response to Clark and respond indignantly to Clark’s comments (as he did this morning).  In other words, Obama just fell into a Rovian McCain trap. 

After watching Clark’s comments, here’s what I see Clark did and all he did.  He challenged the media narrative that says riding in a fighter plane and getting shot own qualifies John McCain to be president and commander in chief.  To which Bob Schieffer asks incredulously, “Really?”

Clark says McCain’s military has not prepared him with relevant executive experience, and he is correct. To which Schieffer says defensively “neither does your mother Obama.” Schieffer’s defensive retort misses the larger point that McCain is running on his military experience, and Obama is not. Obama, as Clark suggested, is running on his character, judgment and communication skills, his ability to persuade, which Clark suggests, according to historian Richard Neustadt is the most important tool for a successful president.

Quite frankly, Clark got it right; the Media and Obama camp got it wrong. And McCain shouldn’t still be running.

I wonder how many meals Bob Schieffer has eaten at McCain’s La Jolla (tax delinquent) condo.

 

 

SCOTUS Term Means One Thing: We need Obama

Here’s why an Obama victory is so important. And here also is why Obama thinks he can tack right for the general election and still win an enthusiastic progressive vote.

It’s the Supreme Court, baby!

The Supreme Court term just ended with 17 5-4 decisions.  Keep this in mind: Just one conservative appointment (likely replacing libs. Stevens or Ginsberg) cancels out the part of Justice Anthony Kennedy that sometimes drifts left.

The number of 5-4 cases is less than last year by 1/2 which shows that Chief Justice Roberts is consolidating right wing control over the Court.  Roberts’ cohesion brand of administering the Court keeps the Court from drifting farther to the right only because of the four steady moderate/liberal votes, and the  sometimes 5th Kennedy vote.  With one more conservative justice, Roberts could ignore the moderates– Souter, Breyer, Ginsberg and Stevens– and cohere his mark into a long lasting right majority.  Everyone loses here (voter exclusion, national ID and star chambers anyone?) as a result.

The only 5-4 decisions that went the way of the moderates (some say liberal) have to do with the:

1) death penalty (unconstitutional for rape of a child);  and 2) Gitmo detainees having habeas corpus rights.

On the other hand, 5-4 decisions going the way of the right (no moderates here):

3) gun rights; 4) campaign finance law (millionaires xception)

and consider

6-3 decisions including:

5) voter IDs; 5) international law based rehearing for death row inmate

Here’s the gist.

Without a President Obama appointing 2 pro-constitution/ civil liberties justices, basic liberties that have wavered on the brink in recent years will be lost.

A McCain presidency would do away with habeas; strip important safeguards from potentially innocent inmates; prevent minorities from voting, and skewer elections away from poor ad minority voters and towards the very rich.  

Reason enuf. 

It’s the Racism, Stupid

As Barack Obama mounts an impressive lead over John McCain in several states McCain needs in order to win the election, Republican gurus Karl Rove and Grover Norquist have been reduced to making not so subtle subliminally racist comments about Barack Obama. 

As Norquist refers to Obama as “Kerry with a tan,” Rove paints a silly portrait of Obama smoking cigs in a country club with a (presumably white) gal on his arm. 

for these two dunderheads, the issue this fall is simple:

its the racism, stupid!

 

More Guns in D.C.. Brilliant!

In striking down DC gun laws, the Supreme Court today has taken a big step towards privatizing justice on the streets of DC and such other violent cities as Baltimore, Detroit…

For background, the Supreme Court has finally gotten around to a constitutional question that was relevant in the days of citizen militias but has been an anachronism since the early days of industrialization. And in saying, for the first time, that individuals have the right to bear arms, the Court’s 5-4 conservative majority adds yet another notch to the Bush legacy.  

The Bush legacy diminishes the value of human life.  It also has to do with the neoliberal privatization.  Here’s how. It diminishes the claim that governments has a monopoly on the use of coercive force in society; Now gun holders– in private groups, gangs, and militias may compete against the state on its own turf.  a winning day for Blackwater and other private militias..

Now, analogize America’s cities to Baghdad, and picture them being patrolled by Blackwater and KBR.  Also, picture the dim reality in which families are still sending their sons and daughters, souses and siblings basic protective gear, including bullets.   Given the government’s privatization of war and law enforcement and its meager support for our own troops,  the court’s decision to enhance the power and legitimacy of nongovernmental militias is cause for alarm. 

The Court’s second amendment logic– stretched just a bit– presumes individual troops are responsible for bringing their own tevlar vests, guns, bullets and other resources needed to secure the peace.  This is the logic of the Court’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment: the individual has the right to bring arms to the militia (public or private).  The market shall decide the kind ad amount of bullets and the protective layers in vest, tanks and other patrol vehicles. 

On the other hand, if the “enemy” has funds it can now purchase and possess the best and highest quality arms; notice how the court just switched the competitive advantage to the other side. Analogize back to the streets of baltimore, DC and Detroit, and you see the practical effects of the Court’s decision. Go Crips. Go Bloods,  go MS-13! go BLACKWATER!

Yep, securing the right of potential evil doers to do evil is the Bush way.

FISA Vote is Obama’s ‘Sister Souljah Moment’

Barack Obama just had his ‘sister souljah moment.’ It is not about race or religion; It is about national security.  By insisting he shall cast his vote in favor of the pending FISA legislation, and against the netroots,Chris Dodd, and Russ Feingold (who likely will lead a filibuster), Obama has signaled to independent (and blue dog dem) voters in the general electorate that he does not want to be seen as beholden to traditional, sometimes unpopular interests associated with the Democratic Party.

This, according to Wikipedia, is a “sister souljah moment,” a term that originates with the Bill Clinton primary campaign of 1992 when he denounced comments made by Sister Souljah (that he took out of context) in a rap video saying, “if there are any good whte people, I haven’t met them yet.” wiki

Back in ’92, Clinton was seeking an opportunity to distance himself from Jesse Jackson, still unpopular with certain groups of white voters for comments he had made back in 1984.  Clinton wanted to appeal to white working class and jewish voters, and used the Sister Souljah moment to distance himself from Jackson, a moment, quite frankly that he replayed to less success this spring.

As for Obama, the FISA vote provides an opportunity to appease centrist and independent voters who might not trust the netroots tide that helped push him to the nomination.  In addition, by standing up for constitutional rights here (by reinvigorating FISA courts), he appeals to the indo national security minded voter who might vote for McCain unless Obama assertively showed some muscle on national security.  Once again this is the white, working class voter in Pa, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio.

It is no coincidence that Obama also appears in the current Rolling Stone saying he “does not do cowering well.” The key here is that Obama is apparently now playing a “strength card.” Only time will tell if this political tactic works.

In the meantime, I believe Obama isn’t fully appreciating the amount of control that voters believe the telecoms have over their lives.  The problem for Obama here is that the same voters who do not want a “jimmy carter” for a president, also do not want to see the telecom industry getting a pass of violating their 4th amendment privacy rights.   

Obama may be taking a principled position in terms of bringing FISA courts back into relevance. During the last several years, they have been all but ignored and the Bush Administrations practice of ordering spying on domestic phone conversations without a warrant is unconstitutional. Obama’s position rectifies this abuse of justice.

But by giving the telecoms a pass, Obama also helps cover up years of government/corporate spying. Without holding the telecoms accountable for their role here, and given a White House that has “disappeared” an untold amount of email correspondences, it is likely the american people will never be made aware of the the full extent of this grotesque abuse of power.  

Regrettably, Obama’s sister souljah moment–his play for national security moms– may win him some votes (or not), but potentially at a high cost.

 

 

 

It’s all Bullsh*t

George Carlin

 

 

Supreme Court Stops Review of Executive Powers over Border Fence

When the Supreme Court refused to stop Secretary of Homeland Security today from ignoring more than 30 mostly environmental laws pertaining to the construction of the border fence with Mexico, the Court, in effect, gave Michael Chertoff’s plenary powers to Chertoff’s ‘waiver authority’ over the border.  By refusing to hear the case on the merits, the Court is also contributing to the Bush Administration’s growing legacy of eviscerating constitutional separation of powers and the rule of law.  In these waning days of the worst presidency ever, this case is yet another example of John Yoo’s failed unitary executive thesis in action

But alas, because the fence deals only with immigration law, long the unwanted stepchild of administrative law; with immigrants the demonized other in american politics since 9/11; and since it deals with only a border fence in a desolate part of Arizona/Senora (San Pedro Riparian National Conservation near Naco), few people will spend much ink condemning this nondecision, but condemnation is what this act today deserves.

But according to Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club spokesperson,

“This decisions leaves one man—the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security—with the extraordinary power to ignore any and all of the laws designed to protect the American people, our lands, and our natural resources.” (NYT David Stout)

When any one human power has such power, that person is a sovereign– a monarchical tyrant who stand outside the rule of law. Such exceptions to constitutional norms should not be countenanced by the Court, and certainly not by the American people.  This is some, horrible legacy being left to the Bush successor and to the american people who will be forced to endure exceptions to constitutional norms tucked away in increasing numbers of of laws, regulations and policy.