Democracy Arsenal

« February 25, 2007 - March 3, 2007 | Main | March 11, 2007 - March 17, 2007 »

March 09, 2007

News Blop

Look Who's "Harmful" Now
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Is there no end to the list of Americans whose concerns -- heck, whose rights -- can be tagged as somehow "harmful to the war on terror?"

OK, that was a rhetorical question.  But the latest entrant in this shameful category -- as all the leading Democratic candidates have come out for ending "don't ask don't tell" -- is last week's letter from Under Secretary of Defense* David Chu to Senator Ron Wyden, in which Chu asserts:

A national debate on changing Title 10, United States Code, Section 654, with the accompanying divisiveness and turbulence across our country, will compound the burden of the war.

Ummm, crummy care for wounded veterans, weakening of the VA, a mushy economy, terrible public diplomacy... those things compound the burden of the war.

*Thanks to alert reader and frequent commenter Zathras for catching my earlier mistake.

News Blop

Fall Guys and Fantasies
Posted by Rosa Brooks

The fallout from the Lubby conviction just keeps on, uh, falling. The right wants Libby pardoned because a) it just ain't fair to be convicted of perjury etc. when there was (they claim) no underlying crime, and b) it just ain't fair anyway, because he was just following orders from the Prince of Darkness. Meanwhile, the ladies and gentlemen of the press continue to beat their breasts over the alleged threat to journalistic integrity posed by Fitzgerald's (SHOCKING! UNTHINKABLE! EVIL!) subpoenas to journalists.

Could we inject a little reality here? All of these claims and concerns are somewhere between baseless and just stupid, not to mention hypocritical, whiny, etc.

Continue reading "Fall Guys and Fantasies" »

March 07, 2007

Progressive Strategy

Playing the Muslim Card to the White House
Posted by Shadi Hamid

It looks like Obama is finally beginning to realize that his Muslim background is - or at least can be - an asset on the campaign trail. Here's hoping he'll keep on making points like this:

And although my stepfather wasn’t a practicing Muslim either, you know, I obviously was immersed in the culture that, you know, in which Islam played a role. I think it does make a difference. I think it makes people feel that I am less likely to engage in stereotypes and that I’m less likely to respond out of fear toward the Muslim world. That I’m willing and able to listen. And most importantly, I think, in our foreign policy, that I’m dealing with people on the basis of mutual dignity and respect. . . . one of the biggest problems with the Bush administration’s . . . foreign policy is a general dismissiveness, a sense that we will do what we please and we expect the world to align itself with whatever decisions that we make.

UPDATE: Matt Yglesias provides a note of caution about politicians who've spend a lot of time in Indonesia:

"[Obama] once got in trouble for making faces during Koran study classes in his elementary school,' writes Kristof, "but a president is less likely to stereotype Muslims as fanatics -- and more likely to be aware of their nationalism -- if he once studied the Koran with them." One would certainly hope so. On the other hand, the last major American political figure to be knowledgable about Indonesia was . . . Paul Wolfowitz.

I tend to think that Wolfowitz gets a bit too much of a bad rap from liberals. Still, I'd venture to say that Wolfowitz would be a lot worse if it wasn't for the time he spent in Indonesia. Unlike some other neo-cons, I've always sensed a genuine empathy for Arabs on the part of Wolfowitz, an empathy which clearly drove his advocacy for the Iraq war. And, wait, isn't Wolfowitz dating a Tunisian woman?

March 06, 2007

News Blop

The Libby verdict & Carnage in Iraq
Posted by Rosa Brooks

So Scooter Libby has been convicted on four out of the five charges against him (relating to obstruction of justice, making false statements to the FBI, and perjury). As prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald put it to the jury on Feb. 21, "There is a cloud over the vice-president.... there is a cloud over the White House."

True enough. But as the media plays up the inside-the-beltway drama element of all this (who lied to whom/is Libby the fall guy/will he be pardoned/will Fitzgerald run for office blah blah blah), let's not forget that the lies told by Scooter Libby had a very specific purpose: preventing the American public from understanding the truth about the pre-war intelligence on Iraq, and persuading Congress and the public to support the rush to war. It was those lies that brought us here and here.

Today's Conservative Movement: Can't see the Forest for the Sleaze
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

So Sunday I went over to the Omni Shoreham hotel for the waning hours of the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference. I got there right when Gingrich was speaking...Lots of geeks and weenies in the lobby ( I say this with fondness, as one who has the trifecta of dorkiness in my past: Model UN, Future Problem Solvers of America and Dungeons and Dragons) It was a melancholy atmosphere, really, interspersed with defensiveness and nostalgia maybe? I got a conference package.... Reading through it, one can really see the angst and divisions in the conservative movement. Which is good. But still, the movement is rife with contradiction. For them to allow Ann Coulter on the same stage as Republican presidential candidates (she was introduced by Mitt Romney) shows that the conservatives aren't serious yet about reclaiming some responsibility for public policy.(although these ad pulls are a good start) The screeching harpy lounge act was the same as usual, offensive comments, lots of notoriety....and media scavenging.

Here's a post by Mark Steyn about why this contradiction works for the Right. They see the Left as actually worse than themselves, as this