Saturday, September 05, 2009

MarXrays from Planet Obama

By Capt. Fogg

My doctor was running a bit late yesterday morning and I spent about a half hour sitting in the waiting room staring at the wall. About 10 minutes before my name was called, a tall, gaunt man in his late 70s lowered his newspaper and said to his wife in the loud way those hard of hearing do: "this is just wrong." His wife seemed to slump down in her chair and mumbled something about Obama only urging kids to work hard and stay in school. "Sixth graders aren't the ones dropping out," he replied, "and asking them to help him, that's just wrong."

Of course, nothing is "just wrong," it's what you say when you don't have a reason you wish to think about, much less discuss. Of course, nobody faulted Bush for reading to kids, and I don't remember any such idiocy about keeping kids from listening to the president since radio broadcasting began in the 1920's, but the idea that president Obama should avoid talking about civics or anything else with school children is based on unsavory premises that need to be hidden -- and so "it's just wrong."

It's amazing how the idea that Obama not only would be "indoctrinating" anyone by making a public speech, much less indoctrinating them in some insidious Marxist plot, is to me one of the most fascinating things about American insanity. It may be the most obviously contrived meme ever to infect us, stemming at first from his questioning of the gospel of tax cuts and privatization and then reflecting the demand by a large majority for the kind of system we have in Medicare already. I don't have space to show how foolish this is and I don't need it -- just read the papers.

If a graduated income tax is Marxist, then as I've said several times, Adam Smith and Teddy Roosevelt were socialists, FDR was the anti-Christ, and Dwight Eisenhower was Lenin. Still, the meme has cascaded down from the RNC through Fox and the ignorant backwoods bastards who hate black people and want to launder their bigotry at Murdoch's laundromat. "Work hard and stay in school?" "Think about ways to improve our nation?" COMMUNISM! FASCISM!

It's not just that miserable old hypocrite in the waiting room, doubtless having his bill payed by "socialist" medicare, it's the ignorant, stupid, miserable bastards of America pushing school boards to let their kids stay home and not be exposed to the communising Obamanite which emits MarXrays causing them to speak French and visit a dentist regularly.

Michelle Malkin is squealing like a stuck pig. World Net Daily is calling for a national "stay home from school day." Glenn Beck is being -- Glenn Beck. And the rest of the Republican blogswamp is croaking like bullfrogs after a rainstorm: "Obama wants to create his own Hitler Youth!" School boards all over the country are being besieged by howling rednecks and districts in six states so far are refusing to tune in. It's crawling through the nation's school system like a flesh eating virus.

In a way, it's encouraging that after nearly eight months, giving a speech to America's students is the worst thing they can pin on Obama, but that this pathetic collection of misbegotten miscreants will buy into it as enthusiastically as monster-hunting peasants surrounding castle Frankenstein makes me continue to be ashamed at any country with such people in it.

(Cross-posted to Human Voices.)

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Trial balloons

By Mustang Bobby

Now that the president has decided to bet the future of his healthcare proposals on one address before a joint session of Congress next week, the airwaves, cables, internet, blogosphere, and even Facebook have been filled with speculation and all sorts of supposed insider scoops on what will come down from Capitol Hill next Wednesday night. I think it is probably safe to say that no one -- not even the president -- knows for certain exactly where we'll be with the debate next Thursday morning, but all the pundits, who have nothing to lose no matter whether they're right or wrong, are sure that this will redefine the Obama presidency and be the Most Important Thing he ever does. Or not.

Will he keep the public option or not? Will one senator from Maine become the decider over the future of 46 million people without health insurance? Will the Republicans win concessions because they screamed the loudest? Will the lunatic fringe keep pushing the limits of paranoia and gob-smacking blather? (The last one is pretty certain.)

As a lot of people, including pundits and bloggers, have pointed out, there's a difference between compromise, concessions, and caving in. The president campaigned on and passionately spoke of making sure that every American had access to healthcare insurance, getting costs down, improving efficiency, and guaranteeing that the limits placed on insurance now -- portability, coverage for pre-existing conditions, and arbitrary limits that stand in the way of the practice of medicine -- go away. Now he has to deliver those in the face of some of the most vitriolic and baseless lies and distortions that have been perpetrated by a minority of interests, some of whom have made it very clear that their motivation has nothing whatsoever to do with healthcare; they see the debate and the circus as their shortcut to getting their hatred into the mix.

I don't think the president has a whole lot of options, so to speak. He's tried bipartisanship and gotten nothing for his efforts. He's angered his own base for even attempting to work with Republicans, and he's learned all too well that doing the opposite of what doomed the Clinton plan in 1993 -- write the bill at the White House and try to ram it through Congress -- doesn't work either. And if he gives in to the screamers and the deathers and the lunatics, he will have proven that he can be rolled by infantile tantrums. You would think that as the father of two children, he would know better.

So what we're seeing coming out of the White House and Capitol Hill between now and Wednesday will be a whole lot of trial balloons -- public option or not; trigger or not; reconciliation or not -- and at the end, we'll all be watching. Perhaps that has been the idea all along.

For my part, I hope he takes to the podium, looks at the Republicans, smiles, and says, "Okay, you had your fun. This is what we're doing: public option, coverage for all, regulation of health insurance companies within an inch of their lives, and anything else I can come up with that will drive you up the wall. We'll ram it through by reconciliation the same way Bush put through his tax cuts and his war in Iraq, and if you don't like it, try to imagine within your wildest dreams how much I care. You had your chance and you came up with nothing but fear, loathing, racist dog-whistles, and lies, all of which proved you haven't the right to lead anything more than a goon squad. So sit down, shut up, and hold on."

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Craziest Republican of the Day: Michele Bachmann

By Michael J.W. Stickings

How many times has she been CRD? I've lost count. Anyway, this is priceless:

Also with women politicians, they want to make sure no women, no woman becomes president before a Democrat woman, and so they're doing everything they can to, I think, sabotage women like Sarah Palin, perhaps women like myself, or similarly situated women, to make sure that we don't have a prominent national voice. But the thing is, the people in our country, they don't care who the voice is, they just want someone, they want to know that someone is speaking out for them against what will certainly bring about the destruction of our great country if we continue to go down the Obama path.

There's a lot in there that's stupid... Obama is destroying the country? Really? Come on. Such hyperbole is so ridiculous as to be -- if so many on the right didn't actually believe it -- amusing.

But the best part is that Bachmann seems to think that the Democrats are trying to "sabotage" her because she might just be president one day.

Which is hilarious, of course, and even more so because Bachmann is so utterly without irony. She means it.

Now, I certainly don't speak for all Democrats, or for the Democratic Party, but I do think I speak for many Democrats when I say that I would welcome Bachmann at the top of a Republican presidential ticket.

Bring. It. On.

Or even if the Republicans want to give her a more prominent national voice. I'd be fine with that, too. I think she's be a fine spokesperson for the GOP, with just the right amount of crazy for an utterly crazy party.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

The Reaction in review (September 4, 2009)

By Carol Gee

A week's Reactions that deserve a second look:

Creature Feature: great stuff on Health Care Reform -- "Trigger details," "...on life support," "Enzi:," "Trigger," "death of public option," "re seniors."


By Malia Cohen: "The Mission of a Generation" -- Our guest author's fine post takes a heartfelt look at Eric Greenberg's book discussion of the Millennial Generation's challenge of "inheriting a damaged future fueled by a series of problems that are of crisis proportions."

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Canada, racism, and the nightmare of Suaad Hagi Mohamud" -- From his article published recently in The Guardian, Michael is "appalled" by the government's handling of the case.


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Public opinion and the public option" -- Citing E. J. Dionne's point that the media created a false impression regarding the importance of the right wing fringe view, Michael effectively argues "that there is much broader support for reform than we are led to believe . . . "

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Worst Democrat of the Day: Blanche Lincoln" -- Senator Lincoln gets Michael's nomination for bailing out on the public option, saying that she (and others like her) can't "look beyond their noses . . . or put the good of the country before their own political ambitions."

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Pat Buchanan, Hitler apologist" -- Regarding a Buchanan assertion, Michael says in his great little piece, "This is appalling, among the worst I've ever heard or read from Buchanan."


By Carl: "A lesson in populism" -- Carl's very fascinating piece explores the current fallout that has stemmed from California's earlier passage of Proposition 13 freezing property tax rates at 1%.

By Mustang Bobby: "Florida GOP gets a dunce cap" -- Bobby takes on Florida's Republican party for it's "lunatic" stance against President Obama's upcoming speech to school kids.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Exhibit #43,859 re: the American right is fucking insane" -- Michael's post, on an NLPC story from the right regarding gathering information from the internet, says he's had it with such hypocritical and paranoid charges.


By Carl: "The Third Musketeer: Pathos" -- Carl's incisive essay, on a feud between Joe Klein at Time Magazine and popular civil liberties attorney and liberal blogger, Glenn Greenwald, correctly comes down on Greenwald's side.

By Capt. Fogg: "WTF?" -- Fogg bravely wades in to the fetid waters of Republican Glenn Beck's show featuring black "pastor" Stephen Broden of Dallas, asking the the right question full out, rather than using the "telephone keypad abbreviation."

By (O)CT(O)PUS: "Exposing the puppet masters behind the puppets" -- Whether crazy right wing pundits' comments need be countered is the question explored in this great post, which argues that we forget their oligarchical puppet masters at our peril.

By Michael Lieberman: "Climate change is a real national security threat, even for a realist" -- Another of our guest posters from Truman Project, Lieberman persuasively argues that the effects of climate change can pose actual threats to U.S. national security, and are not necessarily "mere hype."

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "The truth about Republicans (and health care reform)" -- Michael exposes what is becoming abundantly apparent, "even ... supposed compromisers, the supposed moderates, don't really want reform at all, as we've suspected -- indeed, as we've known -- all along."


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Understatement of the Day: Robert Gibbs on Dick Cheney" -- Michael would have put it much more strongly, it seems. For more on Cheney's Sunday prosecution pronouncement, see Carl's Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Dick! and Creature's Bored with Cheney.

(Cross-posted at Behind the Links.)

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The Mission of a Generation

Guest post by Malia Cohen

History shows that every generation has a mission. Some rise to the challenge nobly as the Greatest Generation rose to the challenge posed by the Great Depression and the rise of fascism. Others muddle through, as did the Silent Generation of the 1950s who largely maintained the comfortable status quo they inherited from their parents. There comes a rare time, however, when a tidal wave of world conditions takes siege over the possibilities and hope of a generation in the pursuit of writing the next chapter in human history. In this new generation, referred to as Millennials, these new champions are young, technically adept, globally oriented, well-educated, and are poised to address the complex challenges of a nation in decline.

Eric Greenberg nails it in his book discussion at Google. Finally, someone who gets it! He concludes that Generation We or Millennials are inheriting a damaged future fueled by a series of problems that are of crisis proportions. Without intervention, Greenberg suggests that our Nation and World will continue to decline. America, in spite of its vast growth economic and scientific advancement, would continue to devolve broken educational systems, programs and services that perpetuate child poverty, expanding health disparities, and a paralyzing deficit.

Let me give you an example of what we’re facing: It’s not secret that scientist warn we may only have a ten year window before catastrophic climate change becomes inevitable. This is a very real threat and one that I don’t take lightly. The devastation is putting mankind at risk. The world’s natural resources are being pillaged, deserts are being created and clean water is becoming a luxury. Raw materials are being consumed unsustainably and we need to take the threat of global warming seriously.

Apparently I am not the only one concerned. Analysts within the CIA, Pentagon, Center for Naval Analysis and US Army War College all consider the risks of global warming real, and a threat multiplier. Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, offered testimony before Congress stating the Intelligence Community’s belief that “global climate change will have important and extensive implications for US national security interests over the next 20 years.”

So what can we do about this? First, acknowledge that we need to restore and protect our environment and the planet. We must immediately reverse and repair the environment. Greenberg is correct, the mission of the Millennial Generation is to innovate our way to new sources of nonfossil fuel energy; in the same way John F Kennedy, in 1962, set the impossible goal of sending a man to the moon; an audacious challenge at the time.

I will be the first to admit that things are not going to get better on their own. Instead, we need to think about what is in our collective best interest and take action. If we don’t then we face societal decline. However, according to Greenberg, brewing before us are millions of young dedicated progressive young leaders anxious to effect change.

After making a great case for Generation We, Greenberg believes that an agenda must be implemented, and support and guidance must be provided. He provides constructive ideas in both veins. If nothing else, I feel more assured that the problems of the world will not go un-checked. And for that I’m extremely optimistic.

(Cross-posted from Operation FREE.)

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Trigger details

By Creature


Under Ms. Snowe’s proposal, a new government corporation would offer health insurance in any states where affordable coverage was not readily and widely available from private insurers. The corporation would not be part of the Department of Health and Human Services, although federal officials would serve on its board.

The public insurance plan would be offered in any state where fewer than 95 percent of the residents had access to affordable coverage.

The point of a public option is a national pool with all the leverage that brings. State by state will not cut it. Sorry, but trigger: fail.

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Craziest Republican of the Day: James Inhofe

By Michael J.W. Stickings

He's one of the craziest each and every day, but some days he stands out above even his own awesomely lofty standards. Take, for example, what he said about Gitmo the other day at a town hall in Grove, Oklahoma:

There has never been a case of torture there. The people there are treated better than in the federal prisons.

No torture at Gitmo? Ever? (Does Cheney know? I mean, he was behind the Bush Torture Regime. Would he not be disappointed that no one was tortured?)

TP: "As the Center for Constitutional Rights has documented, there have been countless cases of detainees being abused and tortured at the prison camp. Detainees have been beaten, deprived of sleep for weeks, sexually harrassed, and shackled to the floor for days at a time."

Yet Inhofe, who also thinks that global warming is a hoax, genuinely seems to believe his own nonsense. That makes him not just an ideological extremist but seriously crazy.

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The public option on progressive life support

By Creature

As Michael said: Yes, yes, yes.

Big props to the Progressive caucus and Nancy Pelosi for standing firm on the public option. It's time for the Blue Dogs to bend. They need to get out of the way and on the right side of history. If healthcare reform fails it will be because of them (and the president). Don't let anyone tell you different.

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Canada, racism, and the nightmare of Suaad Hagi Mohamud

By Michael J.W. Stickings

My latest article at The Guardian was published a couple of days ago.

It's on the case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud, the Kenyan-Canadian woman who was detained in Nairobi a few months ago for not looking enough like her passport photo. Canadian officials refused to come to her defence and actually pushed for her to be prosecuted, with the government back in Ottawa doing nothing to help until a DNA test proved her identity. I argue that there was likely a racist double standard at work. She would not have been treated the way she was by the Canadian government had she been a white woman with a "normal" name from a more upscale Toronto neighbourhood. Here's my conclusion:

No, Canada may not be an "apartheid" state, as the Toronto Star's Christopher Hume suggested. But I think Hume is right to ask the key question: "Is citizenship now defined by the colour of your skin?" In Mohamud's case, it seems that her status was defined not just by her skin colour but by her name and her religion.

From Nairobi to Ottawa, the Canadian government's handling of the Mohamud case has been, from the start, appalling. We like to think that this sort of thing only happens elsewhere, often down in the US, where such segregation, such a double standard, is, we observe with noses held high, commonplace. It's time we woke up to the truth.

You can read the entire piece here.

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A public option, or else

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yes, yes, yes.

It's time for Democrats to take a stand, even with other Democrats. Here's Greg Sargent:

In a letter delivered to the White House [yesterday afternoon], the two leaders of the bloc of House progressives bluntly told President Obama that they will not support any health care plan without a public option in it — and demanded a meeting to inform him face to face.

The not-yet-released letter — the first joint statement from progressives since news emerged that Obama might not address the public option in next week's speech — is their sharpest challenge yet to the president, given the extraordinary sensitivity of this political moment. The letter urges him to mention the public option in his speech.

And here's Nancy Pelosi herself (via Brian Beutler):

A bill without a strong public option will not pass the House.

It's quite simple, isn't it? Democrats, at long last, need to fight for what they believe in and not let themselves be pushed around by obstructionist, anti-reform Republicans or fellow Democrats of the center/right who have no interest in meaningful reform and certainly not in a public option.

Like Creature, I'm no fan of "lockstep marching," but enough is enough.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Public opinion and the public option

By Michael J.W. Stickings

E.J. Dionne makes an excellent point in today's WaPo:

Health-care reform is said to be in trouble partly because of those raucous August town-hall meetings in which Democratic members of Congress were besieged by shouters opposed to change.

But what if our media-created impression of the meetings is wrong? What if the highly publicized screamers represented only a fraction of public opinion? What if most of the town halls were populated by citizens who respectfully but firmly expressed a mixture of support, concern and doubt?

I think that's right, and Dionne goes on to show just how the media created that impression:

There is an overwhelming case that the electronic media went out of their way to cover the noise and ignored the calmer (and from television's point of view "boring") encounters between elected representatives and their constituents.

It's also clear that the anger that got so much attention largely reflects a fringe right-wing view opposed to all sorts of government programs most Americans support. Much as the far left of the antiwar movement commanded wide coverage during the Vietnam years, so now are extremists on the right hogging the media stage -- with the media's complicity.

This is not to say, of course, that health-care reform with a robust public option commands huge support with the American people. It doesn't -- for three reasons: 1) Republican propaganda has been effective at misrepresenting reform (especially the public option); 2) the media have given credibility to Republican propaganda by positioning it as a legitimate alternative to the truth in their coverage of politics as sport; and 3) Obama and the Democrats in Congress have been unable to get their message out effectively -- in other words, they haven't yet made the case for reform in a way that shifts public opinion in their direction.

Still, what is clear, I think, is that there is much broader support for reform than we are led to believe by a media establishment that has overstated the significance of a few select town halls, playing up the sensationalism of it all while basically ignoring what hasn't fit into its GOP-friendly narrative of conflict and opposition.

For meaningful reform to pass, it is essential that Obama and the Democrats tap into -- and seek the support of, even at this late date -- the vast majority of Americans who aren't on the right-wing fringe and who, much to their credit, don't think that shouting and screaming is the best way to participate in a democracy.

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The drumbeat for a public option

By Carl

If not for single payer healthcare:

The truth is that government, for all its flaws, manages to do some things right, so that today few people doubt the wisdom of public police or firefighters. And the government has a particularly good record in medical care.


A study by the Rand Corporation concluded that compared with a national sample, Americans treated in veterans hospitals "received consistently better care across the board, including screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up." The difference was particularly large in preventive medicine: veterans were nearly 50 percent more likely to receive recommended care than Americans as a whole.

"If other health care providers followed the V.A.'s lead, it would be a major step toward improving the quality of care across the U.S. health care system," Rand reported.

That's the Rand Corporation, folks. Not SEIU. Not ACORN. Not the DNC. The Rand Corporation, an objective, non-profit think tank. Formed by the US DoD, I might add.

Government is designed to do the Big Things: national highway system, defense, interstate commerce, natural resource protection, coastal protection, creating a national energy policy, installing the national electric grid, dams, coordinated air traffic control.

Healthcare should not only be among those, it should be at the top of the list. And while, at this point, any healthcare reform, even if it's just reforming the insurance we pay for privately, is welcome, there is absolutely no reason, none whatsoever, that single payer coverage should not be the law of the land.


Forget the "public option," it should be a "private option" if you don't want to be on the National Health Service.

I urge President Obama in his speech tonight to raise the issue and to defend and deflate the inevitable ignorant attacks from the fear-mongerers of the right, funded largely by insurers and the AMA, nipping this dissent in the bud. He should produce and present a cogent and organized outline of a public health plan that would help us prevent disease rather than treat it, provide for mental health treatment (the average mortality rate of people diagnosed with mental health issues is 25 years shorter than those undiagnosed), and give Americans the promise of the Declaration of Independence: "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Enzi: ‘I’m pretty sure’ that health care reform is ‘going to fail.’

By Creature

I'm not a fan of lockstep marching. However, shouldn't Democrats want to rally around healthcare reform (or at least rally to prevent a filibuster) simply for the pure pleasure of proving Republicans wrong. That would satisfy me, but I'm a simple man.

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Worst Democrat of the Day: Blanche Lincoln

By Michael J.W. Stickings

For bailing on the public option -- because of its supposed cost:

For some in my caucus, when they talk about a public option they're talking about another entitlement program, and we can't afford that right now as a nation.


I'm not going to vote for a bill that's not deficit-neutral, and I'm not going to vote for a bill that doesn't do something about curbing the cost in the out years, because it would be pointless... I would not support a solely government-funded public option. We can't afford that.

No, but the Democratic plan is actually... deficit-neutral. Which essentially renders Lincoln's opposition to it pointless.

Oh, but she has a point. The Arkansas senator is clearly pandering to her right-leaning constituency, what with her re-election prospects looking grim.

Benen: "This might be a good time to note that bloggers seem to be the only people in the country who realize that a public option would be cheaper than the alternative. If Lincoln is concerned about what "we can afford," she should be an enthusiastic champion of the public option. I suspect she knows this, but doesn't quite have the courage to explain this to her enraged constituents."

Indeed. And even if a public option were too costly, in Lincoln's view, what of the cost of doing nothing? The current system is simply not sustainable over the long term, with costs spiralling out of control (and with millions and millions of Americans either with inadequate coverage or without coverage altogether), and the situation is only getting worse.

But don't expect the likes of Blanche Lincoln to look beyond their noses, or even to put the good of the country before their own political ambitions.

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By Creature

I'm all for putting a trigger into any healthcare legislation that makes its way through Congress, so long as that trigger kicks in the moment the president signs the bill. And people think I'm unreasonable.


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Pat Buchanan, Hitler apologist

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yes, Pat Buchanan, he with the punditocratic platform at MSNBC, who blames Britain for starting WWII and essentially absolves Hitler of any and all responsibility for the war.

He doesn't deny the Holocaust, thankfully, but his history is revisionist fiction, including this:

Hitler wanted to end the war in 1940, almost two years before the trains began to roll to the camps.

In other words, the Holocaust wouldn't have happened -- or at least wouldn't have been as large -- had Hitler gotten his way. The implication, of course, is that not just the war but the Holocaust was Britain's fault.

Hitler only wanted peace, don't you know. He gave the British ample opportunity -- forget his war of imperial conquest everywhere else.

This is appalling, among the worst I've ever heard or read from Buchanan. Why he still has his platform in the MSM is beyond me.

For more, make sure to check out Matt Yglesias's excellent rebuttal. See also Steve Benen (who rightly notes that Buchanan's "status in the media establishment [will go] unaffected"), dday at C&L, and Adam Serwer.

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Levi and Sarah

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Raise your hand if you're at all interested in reading a piece in Vanity Fair on Sarah Palin by none other than would be son-in-law Levi Johnston.


That's what I thought. I mean, enough is enough, right? You have better things to do with your time, hopefully many, many better things.

And yet.

This teaser suggests that there are some real gems in there, an insider account of Palin and the Palin Clan that further erodes the Palin myth and exposes the ex-governor for what she really is.

Like how she's not much of a parent. Like how she pushed to adopt Bristol and Levi's baby -- and to keep it all a secret. Like how she wanted to "quit being governor" and "triple the money." Like how she's basically a Trailer Park Princess -- okay, that's my line, but I think it fits.

Don't let this take time away from, say, preparing for your fantasy football draft, or otherwise from the pursuit of happiness however you define it. But if you have some time, why not spend a few minutes with Levi and Sarah? Why not get to know the real Sarah Palin?


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It takes a village to cover-up crimes

By Creature

If David Broder is so worried that the country would be damaged by investigating torture, where was he when the torturers were damaging the country in the first place? Oh, that's right, he was having cocktails with them. David Broder doesn't want to protect the country, he wants to protect his friends.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A lesson in populism

By Carl

Or why people are idiots:

California’s wildfires are not only burning trees – they’re burning state cash, and setting off a cascade of other problems in the state. Already, as the fires appeared to have spread in the past 24 hours, they have delayed a ballot count in two special elections.

Let's focus on the "cash" aspect. California has had
major budget woes this year already, mostly due to the facts with respect to the overall poor economy, as well as the plummet in property values.


If California had been allowed under state law to have its taxes, particularly its property taxes, indexed over the past twenty to thirty years,
this crisis would have been far more manageable.

You might recall, if you are of a certain age, an asshole named
Howard Jarvis. Jarvis is the asshat credited with "Proposition 13," a particularly moronic piece of "citizen activism" that forced California to freeze its property tax rates at 1% (One. Percent.) of the assessed value of the property. This created an immediate average property tax cut of 57% statewide, and a blooming deficit in couty and municipal coffers for eternity, ad nauseum.

This is why, for instance, Los Angeles among many other cities and towns, is under constant threat of default, dragging California as a whole down that path a few times already.

In a juxtaposition of irony, Californians have been hurt by Prop 13 in a booming housing market as it creates a disincentive to sell (the property taxed is indexed to the resale value, not the assessed value), while also creating a desperate housing market in an era of "buy as many homes as you want".


And now, those same homes that have been coddled by Prop 13 are burning up faster than you can turn around to look, as Prop 13 tended to benefit more those older, more established areas close into downtown urban areas, like Los Angeles.

Of course, most of the people who approved Prop 13 don't live anywhere near the fire zone, so what do they care, right?

Well, see, the trouble with that logic is, the cash drain that's going to cause this enormous budget gap won't only affect LA. It will affect infrastructure repair. It will affect flood prevention and rescue (another of California's season: mud). It will affect hospitals and firefighters and police forces.

And more important, it will cut into the
state's water reserves, already down to between three and six months supply. A three year long drought will do that.

Now, if there's an earthquake up near San Francisco, up in the Central Valley, and the levees break, allowing sea water into the water supplies for both Frisco and LA, it's ballgame over, and there will be a mass exodus from California, south to San Diego.

And where will your property tax freeze help there, smartypants?

Of course, no one could have forseen fire and drought in a desert, could they?

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Florida GOP gets a dunce cap

By Mustang Bobby

President Obama will address the nation's school children next week.

The Department of Education's press release says about the address: "The President will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens."

That sounds pretty much like the boilerplate rah-rah hit-the-books and achieve educational blather that students have been hearing from presidents and state leaders for time out of mind. But the Florida GOP chairman, Jim Greer, sees it as the biggest threat to children since cooties:

As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology. The idea that school children across our nation will be forced to watch the President justify his plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, and racking up more debt than any other President, is not only infuriating, but goes against beliefs of the majority of Americans, while bypassing American parents through an invasive abuse of power.


While I support educating our children to respect both the office of the American President and the value of community service, I do not support using our children as tools to spread liberal propaganda. The address scheduled for September 8, 2009, does not allow for healthy debate on the President's agenda, but rather obligates the youngest children in our public school system to agree with our President's initiatives or be ostracized by their teachers and classmates.

Hoo boy. And Mr. Greer is considered to be a "moderate" Republican -- of course, nowadays that means he only takes a BB-gun to a town hall meeting.

Eric Kleefeld of TPM followed up this press release with a chat with Katie Gordon, the party's press secretary, who affirmed Mr. Greer's lunacy:

Well, I know that a lot of the President's ideas don't reflect my values and don't reflect the values that I would be teaching my children. And to be quite honest, there are a lot of the President's ideas that I wouldn't want my children discussing in a public school. It's not appropriate, the place for that is in the home.


This is an abuse of power and an attempt by the Obama Administration to indoctrinate young Americans into supporting his socialist agenda. Parents should be extremely concerned.

If Ms. Gordon is teaching her children that what the president's agenda is is "socialism," she has a hell of a lot to learn about political and economic theory; apparently anything short of "I got mine, screw you," or beyond the scope of My Pet Goat is socialism.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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A stupid poll (about Ted Kennedy)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

"Poll: Ted Kennedy's Favorability Was Lower Among GOP, Independents, Southerners"

That's a headline at The Washington Independent, atop an article by David Weigel. To which I respond: And?

I suppose the numbers themselves are somewhat, if barely, interesting. A slight majority of respondents -- 51% -- had a "favorable opinion" of Ted Kennedy shortly before his death (the poll was conducted July 31 to August 3). Otherwise, though, what's the point? What do we learn?

That Kennedy was more popular among Democrats than among Republicans, with Independents in between? That Kennedy was more popular in the Northeast and West than in the Midwest and South?

Isn't all that pretty obvious?

If anything is interesting, it's that Kennedy's favorability rating in the South, a strongly Republican part of the country, was a strong 48%.

And yet, with fairly high sampling errors (+/- 5-6.5%), it's not clear how accurate the poll is when broken down into partisan and regional components.

News outlets like CNN insist that public opinion surveys are news. Many of them, though, are just a waste of time.

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Cheney in 2012?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yes, please. Oh... please!

Cheney is the reductio ad absurdum of Republican politics, at least as much as Palin is. And I can think of no one better to head the next GOP presidential ticket.

Vote Cheney... or be waterboarded!

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The truth about Charles Grassley (and health-care reform)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The truth is that he has no interest in reform. In fact, for all his Gang of Six efforts, he's pretty much against it. I delved into Republican opposition to reform, including Grassley's, yesterday.

Here -- our Quote of the Day -- is Grassley himself, who has been emphasizing his opposition to reform in his recent fundraising efforts, speaking on a conference call with Iowa reporters:

There's a feeling that the only way to get a bipartisan agreement is to defeat a Democratic proposal on the first hand and then the Democrats will come to Republican leadership and then, at that point, they'll know the only way they're going to get health care reform is bipartisan.

Translation: Bipartisanism is Republicanism. On health-care reform, it's either the Republican way or no way at all.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: It's time to move on, and to do what is right, which is health-care reform with a robust public option. Republicans have had their say. It's with the Democrats now, the Democrats alone, and they, and Obama, must take charge.

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The death of the public option

By Creature

If the public option is dead, mandates better die with it. Forcing people to buy crappy, overpriced insurance from corporations that prefer Americans die so they can profit is a deal breaker.

As for the suicidal politics of it all, the fact that Obama is willing to fight his left and not his right on this crucial issue means he's lost me. It's the 1990s all over again. If only I hadn't thrown away my Ralph Nader t-shirt.

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Civil rights, back on the agenda

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I tweeted on this last night, but I thought I'd link here to the NYT story:

Seven months after taking office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is reshaping the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division by pushing it back into some of the most important areas of American political life, including voting rights, housing, employment, bank lending practices and redistricting after the 2010 census.

As part of this shift, the Obama administration is planning a major revival of high-impact civil rights enforcement against policies, in areas ranging from housing to hiring, where statistics show that minorities fare disproportionately poorly.

It's about time. Anyone who thinks that discrimination against minority and other disadvantaged groups is a thing of the past is living in a dreamworld of delusion. And anyone who thinks -- as Bush and his underlings did -- that there's no need to enforce civil rights is essentially sanctioning bigotry.

Conservatives talk up equal rights for all, hence in part their opposition to "special" rights for some, but they don't believe in such fairness anymore than they believe in universal health insurance. Yes, it would be nice if there were no such thing as discrimination, and no need for a Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, but the reality is still quite different than the dream.

And, in opposing the enforcement of civil rights, conservatives are disregarding the plight of countless Americans who are still treated unfairly simply because of the colour of their skin or because of some other disenfranchising characteristic -- and not because they genuinely believe in equality, either in dream or reality, but because of their own partisan, ideological preferences, not to mention their own personal advantages.

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Exhibit #43,859 re: the American right is fucking insane

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yes, you heard me: fucking insane. Here's some paranoid raving from the National Legal and Policy Center:

NLPC has uncovered a plan by the White House New Media operation to hire a technology vendor to conduct a massive, secret effort to harvest personal information on millions of Americans from social networking websites.

The information to be captured includes comments, tag lines, emails, audio, and video. The targeted sites include Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr and others – any space where the White House maintains a presence."

Right. The Obama White House is an Orwellian menace, a threat to American freedom. Seriously, what utter nonsense.

Where were these idiots when Bush and Cheney were wiretapping American citizens and otherwise shitting all over the Constitution?


Please note: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, and Flickr are public websites. Comments, tag lines, e-mails, audio, and video are not "personal information." When I tweet, that's it, it goes public. The same goes for the other sites. Yes, there are privacy settings on Facebook, but there's a difference between status updates and personal information.

The Obama White House is free to monitor public websites, it is not? After all, these are new media sites. It isn't enough anymore just to monitor traditional media outlets. And it isn't just the White House. I'm sure every government office in Washington, and in every state capital, conducts broad media scans. I'm sure every elected official has staff monitoring what's being said in the media. I'm sure media outlets, businesses, and other private organizations conduct their own scans, too.

It's not Orwellianism, and it's not some nefarious plot to create a totalitarian society. In a free society, people are free to monitor the public sphere. It's called democracy.


UPDATE: For an intelligent conservative take on this story, see my friend Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air:

I'm not sure that highlighting a public contract offer amounts to "uncovering" a conspiracy, especially since their analysis turns out to be faulty. Contrary to NLPC's take, the contractor would be collecting data required to be kept by the White House -- by law.

Ed is absolutely right -- and his analysis is fantastic. It's much ado about nothing, not a totalitarian plot.

Would all of you who jumped on the anti-Obama bandwagon care to apologize, or at least to take back your attacks?

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Third Musketeer: Pathos

By Carl

Poor Joe Klein over at Time magazine:

Twice in the past month, my private communications have been splashed about the internet. That such a thing would happen is unfortunate, and dishonorable, but sadly inevitable, I suppose. I ignored the first case, in which a rather pathetic woman acolyte of Greenwald's published a hyperbolic account of a conversation I had with her at a beach picnic on Cape Cod. Now, Greenwald himself has published private emails of mine that were part of a conversation taking place on a list-serve. In one of those emails, I say that Greenwald "cares not a whit for America's national security."

A few points before I go on:

1) Joe, as any long term denizen of the Internet... not the World Wide Web, but the thing that Al Gore helped Tim Berners Lee turn into that pretty little colorful Flash animated monstrosity that is the WWW, the Internet, Usenet and Listservs...any long time user of the Net will tell you that ListServs are not "private communications".

If you are dumb enough to post something on a listserv, then you deserve to have your shit called.

2) As anyone with an ounce of sense knows, a conversation with an "acolyte" is going to get reported back. And if you did not know she was an "acolyte," then maybe you should have stopped staring at her tits and started engaging your other head.

But I digress...

I can't speak for Greenwald or his position on the US military. Frankly, most of his columns bore the shit out of me, but he's a popular blogger on the left and likely enhances his prose to appeal to part of his base. My suspicion is he is not as anti-military as you want to make him out to be in your notes.

All writers write what they think their audiences want to read, particularly if they are being paid for presumably attracting a readership (thus negating any need I have to write what I think my audience wants to read...I do this for love). It's no different for Greenwald.

Or for you, Joe. I don't know the authority structure at Time, but I would imagine there is someone with one of those clickers that keeps tabs on how many eyeballs your columns attract to determine if Time is getting enough bang for its buck.

Some of us on the left think your focus is here, and not on reporting and analysis. This is sad, in my opinion. You seem like you could be a fairly bright guy who once worked hard to tell a story. Now it seems more often than not, you're rewriting someone's press release.

Left, right, center. It doesn't really matter. Sometimes, like in this column, you don't seem to want to think things through all that carefully and see if there's a different conclusion you could reach.

In this column I linked to, you posted the following note you sent to the listserv:

Therefore, I have seen no evidence that he [Greenwald] cares one whit about the national security of the United States. It is not hyperbole, it is a fact.

It's hard to prove a negative, but it seems to me that
Google is your friend. One verified, pro-soldier stance is hadly "no evidence." And based on Googling "Greenwald military," it seems as though you don't want to look at his nuance. He's not attacking the military as keeping close tabs on the legality of their actions, particularly with respect to human rights not just of terror suspects but of American citizens (in particular, possible posse comitatus violations proposed by Dick Cheney).

I'd hardly call that attacking the military. Attacking an unecessary war (Iraq) is not attacking the military. Attacking Pentagon abuses is not attacking the military. Attacking power hungry politicians, the ones you chat up at cocktail parties in Georgetown, is not attacking the military. Talking about wanting to freeze military spending when the US outspends the entire world combined is not attacking the military.

It's taking a rational stand athwart history, pleading for sanity.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Not all seniors have Alzheimers

By Creature

Today Republicans paint themselves the champions of Medicare. Wasn't it just yesterday that they were trying to drown it in a bathtub? Do they think seniors are stupid or just forgetful?

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By Creature

Andrew Sullivan gets to the torture nub:

One more point that [Richard] Cohen simply ignores. Torture is illegal. It is a war crime. You cannot get to the point of debating its pros and cons until you have changed the law, removed the US from Geneva and the UN Convention on Torture and placed the US legally on the same ground as the enemy. That's the only legal way to do it - by repealing the laws against it. But the laws were not repealed; they were secretly broken; and those who broke the law, the former president and vice-president chief among them, are above the law in Washington.

Torture is not a "policy" disagreement, it's a criminal act.

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By Capt. Fogg

I really hate the proliferation of telephone keypad abbreviations like "WTF?" It's childish and pointlessly vulgar and grossly overused. That weakens the use of the full phrase, which in rare but important cases demands the full response: WHAT THE F*CK?

I believe what we're seeing is an orchestrated attempt to radically change this country from what the founders had in mind,

said Dallas, Texas "pastor" Stephen Broden yesterday on Glenn Beck's dementia fest. What the F*ck? I'm not sure which "founders" he's talking about since many of them favored slavery and few would have advocated any system wherein Broden could speak with any kind of authority -- even the authority of paranoid dementia. What is this man raving about? Why it's about health care, of course, the most frightening thing there is to the anarchists and corporate feudalists who pay Beck's salary and own the broadcast network that blares his madness to the world. Perhaps it's so frightening since "conservatives" have fought every effort to grant civil rights of any kind to minorities in our history. There is little ground left to hold in the name of "the founders."

Maybe Beck is desperate since his monstrous lies which include calling Obama, Justice Sotomayor and others racists, have cost Fox some big sponsors, but instead of backing off the "invasion from Mars" rhetoric, he's provided more disreputable and despicable sources to back him up. Broden thinks that advocates of abortion rights are only trying to get rid of Blacks. He thinks that Marxist radical racists like Barack Obama are trying to destroy our culture and wants to launch hit-squads to murder minorities. Never mind that countries with government sponsored or provided insurance options seem to be free of any of these predicted outcomes much less Marxism. We don't need to show you no steenking evidence, we're "conservative."

As Andrew Belonsky writes at Gawker, Beck may be trying to assert that he himself is not a racist because he's found a black man as demented and racist as he is and:

Certainly he can't be called a racist, because he's black.

So if a black and therefore not racist guy agrees that Obama is a fascist, socialist, Marxist, genocidal maniac like Hitler and Saddam Hussein, Beck, ipso facto, is not a racist.


(Cross posted from Human Voices.)

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Exposing the puppet masters behind the puppets


Hurrah for revolution and more cannon-shot!
A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot.
Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again!
The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on.
- W.B. Yeats -

This weekend, your intrepid Octopus stirred up controversy within our ranks. It started with this post by our friend and colleague, Captain Fogg, who derived this post from our friend and colleague, Lindsay of Majikthise, about the latest Glenn Beckism. As Lindsay states:

In the clip, Beck claims that Americorps has "just received half a trillion dollars in funding." What the hell is he talking about? […] It's even fu nnier that Beck's guests played along with the half-trillion claim. Surely they knew it was false. This wasn't just an incidental mistake, it was the hook for Beck's crazy conspiracy theory.

No argument! Except that Glenn Dreck can spin lies and deceptions until the cows come home. Does this mean we should preoccupy ourselves with confutations every night after sunset? And what of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and the other dissemblers? Do we redouble our efforts and counter every lie from every dissembler in the Milky Way?

No doubt, Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh offend us on many levels. Deceptions offend us. Sneers and jeers offend us. Ridiculing a popular actor with Parkinson’s disease offends us. Accusing 9/11 widows of profiting from their husbands’ deaths offends us. They offend by invoking a deep emotional response within us: They remind us of schoolyard bullies who torment victims for sadistic pleasure. They push the boundaries of uncivil discourse deeper into unchartered cesspools. Outrageous people say outrageous things ... just to grab attention.

Here is my question: Do we allow fools to lead us by the nose when we pay too much attention? Do we aid and abet the viral spread of these messages? Lindsay offers a reasonable albeit expected
response (August 29, 2009 at 06:50 PM):

It's a very tough question. I think it's one of those strategic decisions that can only be evaluated retrospectively … John Kerry initially ignored the Swift Boat Liars. In retrospect, it seems like he should have hit back hard and early …

In the face of uncertainty, my instinct is to counter the lies because I think that's an inherently worthwhile pursuit. I think it's worth knowing what these people are up to, even if the exposure gives them a little extra notoriety.

Captain Fogg agrees:

I don't think we can say Beck would go away if we ignored him. I think history proves over and over again that hate and bigotry have to be confronted.

Yet, I can’t help but ask this nagging question: If we pay too much attention to the puppet, do we ignore the puppet masters behind the puppet? Does the court jester divert our attention from the secret usurpers who plot against the throne with steal and guile?

Here is a little noticed
footnote in American history. In 1934, retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler testified before Congress about a alleged plot to overthrow President Roosevelt. Although no prosecutions followed his testimony, one Gerald McGuire did attempt to recruit Butler to lead a 500,000 man march on Washington that would topple the President. An alleged conspirator was the Liberty League, which slandered FDR as a Communist who surrounded himself with Jews and whose membership included the plutocrats of American industry: U.S. Steel, Ge neral Motors, General Foods, Standard Oil, Colgate, Heinz Foods, Chase National Bank, and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. Names that figured prominently in the conspiracy: J. P. Morgan, Irénée DuPont, the Mellon and Remington families, and Prescott Bush.

Right-wing Republicanism was born in 1932, and the aim was to dismantle the New Deal and restore laissez-faire economics. Today, we are witnessing the same struggle against powerful interests, or as John Hoefle states in
The Fascists Versus FDR, Then And Now: “This battle is not, as some would have us believe, a historical artifact, but an ongoing fight between a world which desires to be free, and a parasitic oligarchy [that] wishes to rule over us as if we were cattle.” The oligarchs of the 1930s may be long gone but their heirs and assigns live among us. Who are they?

Maybe we should start with
William McGuire of UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s leading health insurer. According to Forbes’ list of highest paid CEOs, his pay of $124.8 million would cover the average health insurance premiums of 34,000 people. Two years earlier, William McGuire received $1.7 billion in pay and bonuses … roughly the health insurance premiums of 463,000 people. Why should one man be worth 463,000?

How about the
Walton family, perhaps the most influential family in America with a combined net worth of more than $100 billion. They have used their Wal-Mart PAC to avoid paying taxes, block environmen tal regulations, resist corporate transparency, hinder workers rights, stop port security, thwart tighter regulations on food safety, oppose estate taxes, and kill universal healthcare. They are the quintessential state capitalists whose self-aggrandizing exercise of power leaves us poorer.

In contrast, Glenn Beck is the quintessential schlamiel who spins malapropisms and misspelled words from an alcohol-addled brain. When we focus on the village idiot of
Pottersville, we ignore Mr. Potter at our peril. If Glenn Beck ever had booze on his breath, William McGuire and the Walton family have blood on their hands.

Thus, your tentacle-entangled Octopus would like to see the progressive blogosphere spend more time investigating the puppet masters and less time head-butting their puppets.

(Cross-posted at
The Swash Zone.)

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Climate change is a real national security threat, even for a realist

Guest post by Michael Lieberman

Michael Lieberman, a Truman National Security Project fellow, is an associate at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington D.C., where he works on international regulatory and compliance issues. He was previously a law consultant at The Asia Foundation. (The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Steptoe & Johnson LLP.)

In a recent piece, Stephen Walt takes a skeptical view of the U.S. government’s developing view of climate change as a national security issue, as detailed in a recent Department of Defense-funded think tank report by CNA and increasing interest by Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The calamities portended by droughts, famines, refugees, storms, and floods in far-flung places do not, Walt suggests, obviously or necessarily pose a danger to the United States. Consequently, the country ought not exaggerate the threat, nor think of the consequences in terms of security at all. Rather, any U.S. military action to respond to climate-related disasters should be considered humanitarian in nature. “Climate change might also foster instability in various ‘volatile areas,’” he continues, “but it does not immediately follow from that observation that U.S. interests will necessarily be affected in any significant way.”

Matt Yglesias is also nonplussed: “This talk of climate change as a national security threat has a bit of a whiff of hubristic imperialism about it as I don’t think it makes a ton of sense to look at every possible instance of drought, famine, mass migration, civil conflict, and human tragedy abroad as a ‘threat’ to the United States per se.” Yglesias offers little to respond to, aside from noting how much he must have relished concocting the term “hubristic imperialism” and how inapposite it is. His position is interesting, though, as an example of the left’s almost reactive aversion to viewing multifaceted and largely non-military issues through the lens of security at all. What else explains the exaggerated charge of hubris and empire at a problem that the left in general rightly and loudly champions?

Walt’s argument is more elaborate and compelling, and follows directly from his grounding in (and espousal of) “realist” foreign policy strategies. Before looking at his substantive points, though, we should address the extensive hedging surrounding his argument. It need not “immediately follow” that U.S. interests “will necessarily be affected” by global warming catastrophes for us to treat them as potentially dire national security threats. These straw men must be put to pasture. It is sufficient for a non-negligible risk of danger to the nation to arise from the consequences of climate change for national security planners to think about it seriously.

Walt’s major point — that we should not equate catastrophes abroad due to global warming with threats to the security of the nation — derives from his bare bones notion of national security. Walt’s definition seems to be limited to external, essentially man-made dangers affecting our homeland or our citizens. Indeed, this is in large part why he calls for the United States to curtail its global engagements, exercise restraint in its global leadership, and let its allies shoulder a greater burden of their own defense.

Such a definition of the U.S. role, in my view, is inordinately spare, but that issue need not detain us. For now we can adopt his view. Even if we limit our definition to real mortal threats directed at U.S. citizens in the homeland, the consequences of climate change ought to raise the alarm.

Let’s consider Walt’s recognition of “instability in ‘volatile’ areas” as an agreed-upon consequence of climate change, and an uncontroversial national security threat, terrorists who want to attack the U.S. or key interests abroad. Even Pakistan should qualify as a “volatile” area to Walt; it teems with Al Qaeda, Taliban, and other affiliated groups whose leaders have expressed their desire to repeat 9/11 on an even larger scale and in even more macabre ways.

Now think of Karachi, already a redoubt for Taliban and affiliated militants, and the swarms of young men that would willingly join their ranks in the event of mass catastrophe. This would inevitably displace and dispossess thousands of young men in that area and provoke a further weakening of the Pakistani state. Now, in addition to their long list of grievances against the West, these groups could add the crime of polluting the atmosphere and destroying their homes. Similar scenarios could play out in other areas of Pakistan as well, as the Himalayan glaciers melt precipitously, causing flooding inland, and as rising temperatures diminish agricultural production upon which so many poor Pakistanis rely (including many of the Taliban’s local foot soldiers).

Beyond bolstering the ranks of Islamic terrorists, entirely new anti-Western groups could arise in other hard-hit areas of the world that blame their predicament on the fact that the United States accounts for a quarter of the world’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions, and surely a much larger share (from which we have become fabulously wealthy) over time. Such groups could strike U.S. assets or citizens abroad, demanding compensation or resettlement, or merely out of revenge.

Nor can traditional interstate conflict be ruled out either, as China and India, or Syria and Israel, become thirstier and the value of water rises, making military conflict a more plausible mode of dispute settlement. Such fights may fall outside of Walt’s strict definition of national security, true, but there can be no question that such scenarios would rightly be viewed as a grave security development to the United States.

Walt and Yglesias ignore such routine observations, seemingly due to some vague notion that the CNA report and the Pentagon are hyping the threat in service to the military-industrial complex. While it goes without saying we must match our response to the threat, and not all climate change catastrophes will warrant a response as a matter of national security (not all military missions would constitute such a response, e.g., humanitarian operations), there can be little doubt that heightened global instability will lead to the creation or revitalization of groups that want to damage the United States or its people. It is not a sufficient response to attribute this well-founded fear to hype or to overly broad definitions of national security.

As general Anthony Zinni (ret.) states, “It’s not hard to make the connection between climate change and instability or climate change and terrorism.” Nor is it hard to make the connection between climate change and U.S. national security, however defined. Hopefully Walt, Yglesias, and others will see this linkage and lend their voices to crafting constructive responses rather than dismiss the real dangers we face.

(Cross-posted from Operation FREE.)

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