June 2008

The Summer of War never ended, man:

For those of you have yet to see 300, do yourselves a favor and see it. (Warning: Spoiler Alert)

This movie is not just about the past. It’s about today. Right now.

It’s about each one of you who stands in the breach against the enemy.

And it’s about each one of you who stands against the enemy within, who would happily widen that breach.

Today’s enemy is Islamofascism, but it is little different from the hordes following the tyrannical King Xerxes.

Today’s enemy within is the left, both at home and across the globe. And they too are little different from the scheming legislator Theron and the vile Ephori, who were willing—even eager—to see all Sparta kneel before Xerxes, just to gain power.

It’s funny how often life echoes ridiculously homoerotic comic books GRAPHIC NOVELS THANKYOUVERYMUCH. But how to counter this swarthy, swishy threat to all that is good and decent in the World Wrestling Federation?

The left would see us all destroyed for nothing more than their own vile power and purposes. It is up to us—all of us—to stop them.

If 300 can hold of a million, you can make a difference.

You are the tip of the spear. You are Leonides.

Feel like the left is too powerful? Keep fighting.

Does it seem like their arrows are blotting out the sun? Fight in the shade.

Does Obama loom like the god-king Xerxes? Never kneel.

Where “fight”, of course, means “blog”, and “kneel” means “do a sit-up”, or something along those lines. Via, who has repeatedly been warned about this sort of thing.

OMG Weasley Clark is CRAZY!!!

But this is all self-evidently true.  Having one’s plane shot down does not make one a statesman.  Sitting in Vietnamese prison does not teach one how to create and execute policy.  How could it?  If you doubt me, consider: John McCain’s foreign policy is identical to the failed foreign policy we have followed for the past eight years, a policy crafted by a guy who steadfastly avoided service in Vietnam (or, for that matter, Texas.)  One can’t be a great statesman and policy guru AND crib everything from the worst, most unpopular president in American history.  You can’t be a great foreign policy mind AND an idiot.  You would have to be an idiot to think otherwise.  You would have to be a respected pundit.

Further, being a prisoner of war does not necessarily give one political courage.  John McCain has changed his position on every issue you can think of, all in the name of political expediency.  McCain’s fellow Arizona Republicans know he has “no core, [and] his only principle is winning the presidency.”  Even official Bush Court Jester ROFLMAO Cohen knows McCain has no convictions, sees it with his “keen eye”, and yet finds it less telling than Barak Obama’s decision to change campaign tactics, because John McCain soul was purified in a POW camp.  But this makes no sense.  You can’t be steady and fearless and true AND shamelessly change your position on every substantive issue there is.  Something can’t be both true AND contradicted by every piece of verifiable evidence.  You would have to be an idiot to think otherwise.  You would have to be a respected pundit.

To be fair, though, I believe Michael Moore is still fat.

If I were a crazy wingnut asshole, I would be furious at Southwest Airlines (among others) for a 4th of July-oriented ad (you know, the one with the adorable little asian girl singing Toby Keith or whatever it is with her speech impediment) that tries to imply that “being American” somehow means “being black” or “being asian” or whatever. How could it be anything but hopelessly anti-McCain bias that even airlines are now trying to sneakily imply that (Black man! Didja hear? Secret! Muslim!) Barack Obama could well be as American as anybody else? You can’t let that shit stand, guys, it’ll fuck up the whole program. Henceforth, any ad which tries to feature “diverse” “backgrounds” in its casting can only be seen as treasonous calumny of the very worst kind. Benneton is the new Marx: believe it.

Louisiana Governor (and excellent, excellent VP choice for Sky Captain Andy Rooney) Bobby Jindal institutes castration without representation.

… I vote we call Jindal “Li’l Snips”.

Michael Cohen, still objecting to plans to target 3 Democratic representatives who spearheaded the ridiculous “compromise” FISA bill (now perhaps 30 hours away from becoming law), points out that Democrats are much better than Republicans. Thanks for that, Mike. Meanwhile, Kos has a first cut at a list of Democratic reps who will face well-funded primary challengers in 2010.

Here’s how one approaches a game: you identify A) the Rules of the Game, you determine B) your Desired Outcome, and you devise C) a Strategy to navigate through A to arrive at B. Anybody can learn A, everybody’s got their own preferred B; figuring out an effective C is the tricky bit. When trying to learn Strategy, it makes more sense to listen to people who have played the game successfully than to people who have a record of failure. In chess, for example, you could probably learn more by studying the games of Bobby Fischer than, say, studying me. This is not to say one wants to be exactly like Bobby Fischer; just than one wants to learn those things which made him a winner. In modern American politics, then, one might wish to emulate Grover Norquist:

Norquist and other hard-line conservatives exhibit a surprising lack of tolerance for moderate Republicans, almost as if they’re worse than Democrats. Why is that?

[...] Conservative activists, Norquist included, criticize moderate Republicans, such as John McCain and Lindsay Graham, because they think the moderates are holding back the conservative agenda. The battle in the Senate over the historic filibuster provided a classic example of that. When McCain and Graham reached an agreement with a group of Democrats to retain the filibuster, the media hailed them as statesmen. But the conservatives were furious. I went to meetings with Norquist where people were shouting and screaming about “betrayal.”

And it’s not just shoutings – it’s money, it’s ad campaigns, and it’s very effective. Because Norquist understands that an effective movement needs more than a bunch of people – it also requires discipline. As David Sirota said:

I am in no way venerating Norquist’s ideology, nor his penchant for going way to far in terms of sidling up to some very shady characters. But tactically, he is clearly onto something. He fundamentally understands that division makes not an effective fighting formula. And he understands that the movement politics that comes from pressuring turncoats is far more powerful than partisan politics. Create an movement based on principles and ideology, and you have created something much sturdier than loyalty to a party label – and besides, a real movement will benefit the party anyway.

GOP leaders inherently understand this. Unlike many “big tent” Democrats, they value Norquist’s work in pressuring the capitulators within their ranks. They understand that Norquist’s pressure on their turncoats helps the GOP keep their turncoats in line.

Instead of whining and crying with cries of “let’s just all get along” for “get along’s” sake, Democrats should take some tactical lessons from their enemies who have so thoroughly drubbed them and place some value in a progressive infrastructure that demands accountability within the Democratic Party. Norquist proves that such an infrastructure – not permissive capitulation as the Democratic Party allows now – is integral to helping parties achieve majority status.

Now, Grover Norquist is a horrible, crazy douchebag. But the SEIU knows this strategy works.  If you are going to line up behind a politician, you have to demand accountability. The SEIU has their list; civil liberties/anti-immunity advocates can have theirs. These lists won’t match up, and in some cases – Rep. John Barrow, for example – different constituencies within a party will be at cross purposes. That’s party politics. Constituencies within the party, if they want their voices heard and respected, have speak clearly, and have their words carry weight. You have to pick your fights carefully, and with a cold calculation of how it will advance your cause. But you do have to fight.

Matt Duss explains how Mr. Blankley is spearheading the effort to spread the latest noxious neoconservative narrative: “Iraq – The Surge Made It Worth It After All!” 

Pardon me while I go bang my head against a bed of nails dipped in alcohol and coated with salt in anticipation of the media’s willing acceptance and regurgitation thereof.  If anyone needs me…don’t.

Obama \'08!
Send one to the Dodd today!

… slightly relevant:

Set aside Obamajeebus and obamajeebusism. Think about Obama as professional political candidate and Obamacorp as professional political organization. Inevitable bumps and gaffes aside, consider how remarkably and relentlessly efficient and smart and effective and competent Obama and Obamacorp are compared to McCain’s or Clintons or, of course, Bushco.”

Aside from the weird neologisms and misplaced apostrophes, this is pretty much what I tell myself when faced with unfortunate behavior like the Barrow endorsement or FISA wobbliness from the Obama campaign. If they’ve proved one thing, it’s that they know what they’re doing, running-a-campaign-wise. Inevitably, in a national campaign, the smart Democratic candidate is going to do things that piss me off — I’m going to vote for them anyways! Whether the Barrow endorsement was an attempt to push the GOP into more spending in safe states (if an Obama endorsement can help an inveterate blue dog like that, the guy must be running towards the center) or whether it had some other justification, whether the FISA compromise reflects sound political calculation or a craven casting-aside of principles or something in-between, at this point I’m going to swallow hard and trust the Obama campaign to do what it has to do to win, because I’ll tell you one thing: with a Democrat — any Democrat — in the White House, things will be a whole fuckload better than they’ve been. Will it be disappointing? Yeah, of course. A lot less disappointing than the events of 2000 to 2008 inclusive have been, though, regardless of what happens between now and November. The man could French kiss Joe Lieberman and become Godfather to Scalia’s nuclear devil grandchild and I wouldn’t like it, but I’d gulpingly assume he had a reason for it and he’d still have my vote, and my money.

Ahh, democracy.

It is so fucking on:

Senators [The] Dodd (D-CT) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) released the following statement today in response to the announcement that the Senate this week will consider the compromise legislation that would reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) this week.

“This is a deeply flawed bill, which does nothing more than offer retroactive immunity by another name. We strongly urge our colleagues to reject this so-called ‘compromise’ legislation and oppose any efforts to consider this bill in its current form. We will oppose efforts to end debate on this bill as long as it provides retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that may have participated in the President’s warrantless wiretapping program, and as long as it fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans.

“If the Senate does proceed to this legislation, our immediate response will be to offer an amendment that strips the retroactive immunity provision out of the bill. We hope our colleagues will join us in supporting Americans’ civil liberties by opposing retroactive immunity and rejecting this so-called ‘compromise’ legislation.”

And that means ‘filibuster’. Feingold for veep. Barbara Boxer and Ron Wyden (who I have never heard of, but who appears to be a Senator) will join them. Obama needs to recognize.

… See also dday:

Senator Reid just informed his colleagues on the Senate floor that, because of all the other bills in the queue (like the housing bill, and the Iraq supplemental), FISA may not get a vote until after the July 4 holiday recess.

This is honestly the best we can hope for right now. Sens. Dodd, Wyden and Feingold are ready to filibuster and gamely trying to get colleagues to do the same (Sen. Dodd’s speech tonight was a bravura performance), but realistically the numbers to stop cloture aren’t there. However, that could change if the delay continues. And getting this to the recess means being able to get in a lot of Senators’ faces on their trips back home. In addition, there’s going to be a very short window in August where a ton of must-pass bills have to get through Congress, and throwing FISA in with that mess means that anything can happen.

We’ve been on the brink with this a bunch of times, I can’t even remember how many, and we’ve always pulled back just in time. The stars might be lining up for this again.

Oh, and fuck Steny Hoyer, walking around with two dog names taped together. Loser.

This is nice, too:

A top adviser to Sen. John McCain said that a terrorist attack in the United States would be a political benefit to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, a comment that was immediately disputed by the candidate and denounced by his Democratic rival.

Charles R. Black Jr., one of McCain’s most senior political advisers, said in an interview with Fortune magazine that a fresh terrorist attack “certainly would be a big advantage to him.” He also said that the December assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, while “unfortunate,” helped McCain win the Republican primary by focusing attention on national security.

It might also be of benefit to his, and George W. Bush’s, #1 foreign policy priority. Of course, Republicans would never play politics with terrorism.


Go back to Russia, hippie:

Privacy International:


* No right to privacy in constitution, though search and seizure protections exist in 4th Amendment; case law on government searches has considered new technology
* No comprehensive privacy law, many sectoral laws; though tort of privacy
* FTC continues to give inadequate attention to privacy issues, though issued self-regulating privacy guidelines on advertising in 2007
* State-level data breach legislation has proven to be useful in identifying faults in security
* REAL-ID and biometric identification programs continue to spread without adequate oversight, research, and funding structures
* Extensive data-sharing programs across federal government and with private sector
* Spreading use of CCTV
* Congress approved presidential program of spying on foreign communications over U.S. networks, e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, etc.; and now considering immunity for telephone companies, while government claims secrecy, thus barring any legal action
* No data retention law as yet, but equally no data protection law
* World leading in border surveillance, mandating trans-border data flows
* Weak protections of financial and medical privacy; plans spread for ‘rings of steel’ around cities to monitor movements of individuals
* Democratic safeguards tend to be strong but new Congress and political dynamics show that immigration and terrorism continue to leave politicians scared and without principle
* Lack of action on data breach legislation on the federal level while REAL-ID is still compelled upon states has shown that states can make informed decisions
* Recent news regarding FBI biometric database raises particular concerns as this could lead to the largest database of biometrics around the world that is not protected by strong privacy law

Fucking wonderful. h/t Zed.

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