Archive for the 'Glenn Greenwald' Category

Unprincipled liberals join the rest of the unprincipled people.

Feb 13, 2012 in Disappointing Dems, Foreign Policy, Glenn Greenwald, Politics

Glenn Greenwald, whom I don’t wager I’d be able to handle a direct debate with, is still someone whom I deeply respect despite my overall dismay at his constant daily diatribes about Obama while Republicans actively plot to screw up the country.

Glenn’s never been really wrong about the actual liberal case against Obama’s waging of the war on Al Queda (which the press routinely ignored in order to report whatever crazy shit Sarah Palin dreamt up in her fog), and while I support President Obama’s re-election without a doubt, that doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything Obama has done.

So it saddened me to see this poll of those on the left, where most aren’t just plugging their nose, but actively supporting some of the things that we openly and loudly condemned President Bush for.

This is a very important difference, folks. While plenty of liberals are holding their ground, it looks like some are indeed turning around and cheering on the same policies simply because they’re being carried out by a guy with a D next to his name.

Now Glenn takes it too far, for example, in slagging Obama with Guantanamo when not a single politician would let an accused terrorist inside our borders regardless of their actual danger. Resignation is the proper response, not support, but that ambiguity does call into question the poll results. Do people support what’s going on in Guantanamo, or do they support letting the issue go in the face of overwhelming resistance?

Glenn also makes a bit of a leap in not providing poll numbers on drone strikes before Obama. He’s talking about a shift in public opinion with no documentation of previous public opinion? What he does have is the approval of the drone killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen by birth who was nonetheless in Yemen, purportedly conspiring against the US. Evidence to that fact has just been released, btw. Nevertheless, the precedent of a US citizen being assassinated on presidential orders is extremely troubling for any constitutionalist, and without the presence of an active battlefied, it seems impossible to justify. “Muslim dude in a Middle East country” seems to be what defuses the resistance, which doesn’t give the poll recipients much more credit.

Glenn’s most brutal takedown is, unsurprisingly, reserved for President Obama, who, in deciding not to prosecute the war crimes of the Bush administration, ended up indirectly codifying their behavior as exoneration for future presidents. A President Romney or Santorum could take us straight back to the Bush years with even less fear of repercussion, arguably because Obama let Bush and Cheney get away with it.

To that, though, I believe an addendum belongs. President Obama did not, all by himself, let Bush and Cheney get away with it. The country did, with the mainstream “liberal” media front and center, having largely ignored their crimes, ready to give Republicans as much air time as they wanted to shriek about the horror of the freshly elected Obama leading a “political witch hunt” and actually daring to prosecute the previous president. After all, it is regarded as sacrosanct that Gerald Ford “healed” the nation by pardoning Richard Nixon. While peacetime, prosperity and ratings through the roof had our press ready to watch the Republicans impeach Bill Clinton over lying about a blowjob, the interference of rebellious liberals in the unchecked exercise of power under the banner of “defense” absolutely would not be tolerated. It’s somewhat disingenuous of Greenwald to ignore the fact that Obama would have lit a keg of gunpowder underneath his own ass and been, just like with Guantanamo, completely stifled by Congress.

Glenn seems to consider it obvious that Obama’s actions are at least partially responsible for shifting public attitudes, enshrining Guantanamo and other deviations from American values in the bulletproof shield of “bipartisanship.” I’m sure party identity does play a part in people’s attitudes (look at how much rage Republicans have tried to generate over a health care policy Obama borrowed from them), but when it comes to constitutional principles of human rights, I’m becoming quite convinced that the country as a whole is simply forgetting the values that it was founded upon, and that the erosion is primarily being carried out actively by the Republican Party. Yes, Obama didn’t prosecute, but one of our two parties has declared itself in all but name to be pro-torture (you just stop calling torture torture, see). Yes, Obama didn’t close Guantanamo, but Republicans turned it into what it was. Yes, Obama signed indefinite detention into law, but again, he merely concedes what one party and the Very Serious People absolutely demand. And so on issue after issue, important American values become common political preferences, and our amnesiac press dutifully dribbles on its loafers as it follows along.

Obama didn’t lead, he followed. While a noble, principled fellow like Greenwald is committed to doing the right thing every day regardless of the impact on his life, Obama is a strategic, pragmatic actor who, in alignment with his community organizer roots, doesn’t get ahead of the crowd very far. This works better when he makes some effort to get the crowd mobilized, and all of us can think of a few times Obama could have gotten farther if he’d led a little more and followed a little less. But ultimately that’s a pretty mild sin. If the public isn’t there, we can’t always sit around berating Obama for not getting them there. We’re responsible too.

-hw

The fraudulence of the right on liberty and tyranny.

Aug 27, 2010 in Barack Obama, Clueless Conservatives, Constitution, Disappointing Dems, Glenn Greenwald, Librulz

Bush said I could be locked up and tortured as an enemy combatant if he felt like it. Obama says I will get taxed if I don’t have health care. Which one tyranny?

I can understand the argument, for instance, that if taxes are too high then personal freedom is to some degree eroded, but that seems very metaphorical compared to government’s power to physically lock you up. For all their talk about freedom and liberty, the enthusiastic embrace of the military and security culture by many conservatives pretty makes that seem like a lot of empty rhetoric to me.

I don’t mean it as a critique so much as a question – why does the military-security culture get such a huge pass? I honestly don’t understand how you can cast yourself as a defender of liberty on one hand, while be fully in support of expanding the government’s ability to physically remove your liberty on the other.

You know, what I would love is if liberals who took liberty extremely seriously, like Glenn Greenwald, had some actual support from the right. Greenwald is a lion against the government’s assumption of powers in the past ten years to toxic levels, and he’s coolly prosecuted Obama for leaving too many Bush era policies and practices intact. This piece on our increasingly cramped surveillance state should have an army of allies among any who say they treasure liberty. It gets published at CATO, in a nice gesture from them, but the GOP is expert at deftly ignoring CATO as a gang of nerds when Republicans disagree with them. Adding Greenwald’s name to the mix only freaks out wingers more.

Even worse, they’d have to actually describe Bush/Cheney accurately, so that will leave most Republicans out of the deal. They approved of Bush and still do, and the more Obama does things like Bush, the more Republicans are willing to just take a pass on the issue, pretend it doesn’t exist, and then scream about the Socialist Blitzkrieg.

Of course, we’re talking about the same people who got really concerned about spending the second Obama was sworn in, the same people who shrugged for eight years while Bush systematically dismantled our prosperity.

This is just why it’s so hard for me to have faith in the honest intentions of the right. Most are fairly nice people in person, but they treat politics like a game, one where intellectual honesty is simply a commie liberal plot to confuse “real” Americans. Rightwingers make up these weird fantasy wars in their heads like this:

…conservatism, the right, (is) people who want government to have less power over individuals, is the natural home of people who want to live and let live, while “progressivism”, the left, is the natural home of statists — fascists, nazis, socialists, communists, and the modern Democrat party — who want endlessly more centralized power over the individual.

Gee, so hard to pick sides there. Which way do I go? Freedom or Auschwitz?

Or, third option, blog commenter “American Elephant” is an idiot and neither description is accurate. As Greenwald notes, what power the Republicans seized, the Democrats held onto. Such is human nature, I imagine, but that’s why we’re supposed to have checks and balances. One of those is a populace that speaks up when the government goes too far, but the idiots on the right are choosing to spend their time chasing liberal bogeymen while a unified coalition of the powerful march right over all of us.

With fellow citizens like that, who needs terror babies?

-hw

Ah, the humanity.

May 12, 2010 in Barack Obama, Clueless Conservatives, Constitution, Disappointing Dems, Glenn Greenwald, teh gay

And so it all comes to an end. Elena Kagan is not gay.

But what a sad hell-wrought spectacle it was getting there. Christianist rightwingers ready to denounce her for nothing other than this perceived homosexuality. Andrew Sullivan going nuclear over not being able to get a straight (no pun intended) answer when he had already received one from the WH (although it was a bit of a homophobic response itself, describing an insinuation of homosexuality as a “charge” when right-thinking people know it is no crime). In Andrew’s defense, he was merely being a pit bull for the sake of getting a satisfying answer, much like he has been with Sarah Palin and her multitude of neverending fibs, but for a man with such a supposedly “conservative” temperament he might consider displaying one once in awhile. Liberals ready to champion her as a stealth candidate for gay rights. Glenn Greenwald not giving a damn about any of it and ready to slam her as another Obama-ite who be truly Bush-lite…

Chroniclers of human folly that we are, I found the best approach to be hanging back awhile and absorbing a bit more information before spouting off with an intemperate mouth. Thus, Iowa Liberal is a blog not updated frequently, but rather when the time is right. Via this path do we claim elegance…

In all that I have seen, the best critique I’ve seen of Kagan actually belongs to David Brooks, who makes the best use of his ability to be right twice a day. In her steely resolve to never say or do anything to peeve anybody, throughout a career somehow designed to make her an ideal candidate for the Supreme Court, she has disappointed everybody.

But the time to bitch about it is over. The noise that needed to be made about her was already made, and Obama went for her anyway. The only thing left to do is cross our fingers and watch the decisions pass, and wonder why conservatives get to nominate any goddamn nutter they please while liberals have to constantly backpedal and apologize and tread water within the accepted rightwinger buoys.

For we have a court that is no longer for the people, but for the powerful, stacked by authoritarian “conservatives” who seem to be motivated by political grudges and the bleatings of Rush Limbaugh more than anything contained within the Constitution. Elena Kagan can have no higher aspiration than to stem the tide and hold ground against the attacks on our civil liberties that are certain to come from the cabal of activist judges named Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito, along with their oft-willing dupe Kennedy. If Obama could not nominate a real liberal progressive for an essentially placeholder position, when can we ever expect it?

-hw

The long game?

Apr 14, 2009 in Barack Obama, Glenn Greenwald, Legal, War Crimes

Glenn Greenwald sizes up the liberal consensus against Obama on unlawful imprisonment. It’s brutal. Greenwald should keep up the pressure.

But there are dissenters among liberals and others concerned about habeus corpus. Obama plays the long game, they say, and his critics often speak too soon. Procedural hurdles may be the culprit as the Obama administration takes some time to assess each prisoner on hand. I don’t suggest this as an excuse to be forgotten later: I intend to acknowledge greater blame for Obama as time progresses. Six months from now I’ll have a much harder time believing they’re still working on it. A year? Please, give Obama credit for knowing that line won’t work then.

By no means, however, should we be ambiguous with President Obama about what answer we expect.

-jb

The media is frustrated that it hasn’t had the chance to fawn over Sarah Palin.

Sep 07, 2008 in Glenn Greenwald, Journamalism, Politics, Sarah Palin

The indomitable Glenn Greenwald points out that if Sarah Palin will gladly expose herself to the press soon because she knows they have no intention of practicing journalism with her. She’ll hold out a couple weeks until she’s briefed and ready with her soundbites, and then they’ll joyously scoop up the breadcrumbs she throws them and declare her ready to lead the free world should John McCain succumb to the inevitability of Death. At the suggestion that her current moratorium will provoke spiteful acts of journalism by the press, Greenwald scoffs:

Several people in comments suggest/hope that Palin’s refusal to submit to press questioning will alienate journalists and make them more intent on investigating her and subjecting her claims to scrutiny. A healthy journalistic instinct would indeed produce that reaction. But is that what we have?

It isn’t just that the Bush administration has been the most secretive in modern history (though it has been), but Dick Cheney seemed to take sadistic pleasure in purposely concealing from reporters even the most innocuous information, just to show he could. He even refused to say how many people worked in his office, or who worked there, or even where he was and what he was doing on any given day. Did that propel journalists to investigate him more aggressively or subject his claims to greater investigative scrutiny? Yes, that is a rhetorical question. A properly functioning press corps would become more adversarial and aggressive when treated with such contempt by the GOP. Ours becomes more browbeaten, more passive, more eager to please.

Our dysfunctional media simply wants to give Sarah Palin the chance to swat away the serious questions regarding her fitness for office with a smile and a snappy remark. They want to be charmed by her, and they’re absolutely furious that they haven’t been able to dote on her in person.

In less than two months, we’re supposed to consider Sarah Palin ready to assume the presidency at a moment’s notice, and half that time nobody’s allowed to ask her things like, “Why are you proud of your mayoral term when you left that tiny town $22 million in debt?” Indeed, it is likely that the media will huff and puff a bit in order to get access to her, but don’t get your hopes up. Don’t expect follow-up questions, don’t expect rigor, don’t expect much more than obsequious deference. The Republicans are now comfortable to have a know-nothing “charmer” who they can surround with neoconservatives and steer towards their designs, and they know how to steamroll the media through years of practice. Against all available evidence, the base will worship Sarah Palin the harder so-called journalists attempt to probe her, and after, at best, a week of questions, the MSM will give her the pass needed, lest they be “biased” (consult Fox News to see the thorough absence of journalism practiced against Republicans it takes to appease the right).

-jb

Drawing a line in the sand.

Feb 12, 2008 in Constitution, Corporate shenanigans, Disappointing Dems, Glenn Greenwald, Legal, Politics, Where's the outrage?!?!

Harry Reid, Jay Rockefeller, and 12 Democrats make it more than clear that having a (D) next to your name is never a guarantee that you will stand up for the Constitution, or that you won’t stand against it. Glenn Greenwald laments:

That’s really the most extraordinary aspect of all of this, if one really thinks about it — it isn’t merely that the Democratic Senate failed to investigate or bring about accountability for the clearest and more brazen acts of lawbreaking in the Bush administration, although that is true. Far beyond that, once in power, they are eagerly and aggressively taking affirmative steps — extraordinary steps — to protect Bush officials. While still knowing virtually nothing about what they did, they are acting to legalize Bush’s illegal spying programs and put an end to all pending investigations and efforts to uncover what happened.

Just tell me how a Republican congress could have delivered a better result for Bush. When it came time to answer the question of whether or not we were going to become a surveillance state for good, enough Democrats crossed over to show that liberals are still a minority, and that “conservative” means “authoritarian” today. And then we have those scared independents and spineless politicians who refuse to believe that standing up for founding principles is a career-maker. They understand the Constitutional arguments, and then they wake up in a cold sweat from nightmares in which Republican ads accuse them of loving Osama bin Laden more than Jesus.

We must face the truth: Bush has scored a complete slam dunk on nearly every consolidation of his authority he has attempted. What he has not been able to carry out on his own, he has gotten the support of Congress to finish. Fear has won.

Is it any wonder that people see Obama as an antidote, a catalyst who could enable a resurrection of the Constitution? Every grassroots organization left or right should put the task in front of Obama from day one: renounce the unitary executive and reverse every presidential order from Bush that remotely relates to the concept. That’s just for starters. But I think Obama, more than Clinton or McCain, would be the president most likely to be swayed by the people’s call for a return to accountability. I don’t think with the other two there is even a glimmer of hope that the authority of the president will loosen.

-jb

Iraq facade.

Aug 24, 2007 in Foreign Policy, Glenn Greenwald, Iraq, Middle East

Following the First World War, the British replaced the Turks as the rulers of Iraq. Under the direction of General Stanley Maude, British forces occupied the country and faced anti-imperialist agitation from the start. Despite Maude’s claim that “Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators”, revolts against foreign rule became widespread. As a result, Lord Curzon, the then current British foreign secretary, made the suggestion of an “Arab facade”. He defined it as a:

“facade ruled and administered under British guidance and controlled by a native Mohammedan and, as far as possible, by an Arab staff . . . There should be no actual incorporation of the conquered territory in the dominions of the conqueror, but the absorption may be veiled by such constitutional fictions as a protectorate, a sphere of influence, a buffer state and so on”

Fast forward to the Iraq of today it’s difficult to note any meaningful differences. Those who champion a free and democratic Iraq will in the same breath speak of the convenient replacement of elected leaders. Nuri al-Maliki currently finds himself in that situation. With little to no control over the security forces under his charge, al-Maliki has become the convenient fall-guy. As Glenn Greenwald points out:

Fred Hiatt turned his Op-Ed page over to Allawi two weeks ago to argue — in the most establishment-pleasing tones — that “Responsibility for the current mess in Iraq rests primarily with the Iraqi government” and that “Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has failed to take advantage of the Iraqi people’s desire for peaceful and productive lives and of the enormous commitment and sacrifices made by the United States and other nations.” In other words, our wise Washington Leaders have done the Right and Good thing in Iraq, but that scoundrel Maliki is the key impediment preventing Success.

Enter Iyad Allawi as our new “native Mohammedan” who currently has the convenient backing of the most powerful GOP lobbying firm in the country. He’s got a lot of things going for him. He’s demonstrated his obedience to Washington for upwards of twenty years and, more importantly I think, he’s providing this administration with an opportunity to stall on promises of a troop draw-down because you “don’t change horses mid-stream” when we’re “turning a corner” on a “new ray of hope for Iraq” or whatever sound bite you like. It also provides a good excuse to ignore the much anticipated and vaunted report by General Petraeus.

-mg

Fringes…

Mar 02, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Disappointing Dems, Glenn Greenwald, Politics

We must take care to understand that politics, as much as they attempt to encompass human nature, are not at the forefront of our lives. Many of our decisions and eventual actions relate not to how they’ll fit into our image as a Democrat or a Republican, liberal or conservative, progressive or libertarian, etc.

It is a wonderful thing to learn in one’s life that politics can often only act to strip away subtleties, and yet never quite seems to lead us to the appropriate fundamental truths. If politics could do so, it would render itself moot.

Unfortunately, we’ll never get a Rational Party running against the Emotional Party, or a Funny People Party versus the Stodgy Party, nor will we be able to speak of the NPs (Nice People) defeating the BAs (Bleeding Arseholes) in the last election.

Suffice it to say, each party has a bit of each in it. I cannot personally stand many who call themselves Democrats, and I have often had great affinity for some who end up in the Republican camp. Sometimes novelty has something to do with it, as one cannot spend forever talking into the mirror and always have a good time. And sometimes it just happens that all else aside, you can end up relating to somebody with very different beliefs much more than another with similar ones. Perhaps in another world you’d both be part of the Cynical Alcoholic Party, or the Secretly Sexist Party, or, if you’re really lucky, the Terrific-in-Bed Party. Each party has its plethora of fringes, and almost everybody in each party belongs in at least one of them. And unfortunately, the Bleeding Arsehole fringe didn’t pick one party.

There have been a very, very curious series of non-scandals taking place since the Democrats took power, from Nancy Pelosi’s plane to Al Gore’s home, and now the comments in the blogosphere regarding Dick Cheney’s (arguable) assassination attempt. Apparently some commenters, having the credentials of a keyboard, a computer, and complete anonymity, are now reflecting on THE DEMOCRATS because they were sorry the bomb didn’t get Cheney.

Yes, it is that far-fetched. However one distinction we can make is that generally those who are seen as representative of the mainstream right uses repetition as a tool, not solid argumentation.

This brings us to a notable fringe that more people belong to than we like to admit: the Wish They Were Dead party. These are the people who fantasize at least once a week about somebody who irks them getting blown up, stabbed, poisoned, hit by a car, dropped from an airplane, disemboweled, having said bowels stuffed down their throat, woodchipped, attacked by gorillas, etc. This party is actually HUGE. Don’t believe me? Turn on the tv, go to the movies, listen to Johnny Cash, listen to everyday chatter, do anything and you’ll run into the members of this party.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get thoroughly chewed out for saying these things inappropriately, or a bit too seriously. When Pat Robertson or Glenn Reynolds or Randi Rhodes start yapping about their assassination fantasies a little too much, they get zinged for it. Public figures have their own rules.

But it has grown well beyond insidious in the manner with which us on the left have been treated. Those who lurk in our corners have regularly been trotted out for public display, often by people like Malkin, Limbaugh, Coulter, etc. who are just as bad. Time and time again, I have to listen to the story of how some person I’ve never heard of like Ward Churchhill is representative of me, but at least with him we can discover who he is and disavow him. Ludicrousness is reached when I’m expected to be responsible for the comments of an anonymous person who, being on the internet and anonymous, is likely to talk a whole bunch of junk they’d ordinarily keep to themselves. More and more the question arises, will we be judged for our ids, and not for our superegos?

Sure.

So let’s make sure that we turn the heat back on them, and remind them of Timothy McVeigh, and the scores of gay individuals terrorized, beaten and killed every year. Then we’ll see how that stacks up to an anecdote about a liberal who stalked a conservative after an online dispute, or whatever isolated instances they can bring up. Or when they talk about blog comments, let’s make sure the words cannot be uttered without bringing up LGF. DJ Brian Pickrell had better be glad his comment threads are filled with good natured liberals like us polite enough to fact-check his ass.

I’ll hand him a freebie though…although I rarely ever link to guys like Kos or Greenwald because they’re already so big, today their sites offered beautifully damning commentaries on this complete farce.  This, however, will confirm Brian’s theory that I almost exclusive link to the two.
Here’s mcjoan at dKos.  Here’s Glenn.

Andrew Sullivan would actually be the mainstream blogger I link to most (Brian could only comprehend this by calling Andrew, one of the most principled conservatives out there, a liberal).   So here’s his take.  A dig at the lefty fringes, but withering against the hypocrisy of the mainstream right on this issue.
-jb

Go go Gadget Greenwald!

Jul 30, 2006 in Clueless Conservatives, Glenn Greenwald, Iraq, Politics

The man unleashes the laser cannon in his brain yet again, causing glorious destruction to rightwingers:

They used their militaristic posture in Iraq — and the “appeasing weakness” of opponents of the invasion — to win two consecutive national elections. And now that the extent of the damage they created is too glaring to be denied, they want to walk away from it all, insist that it’s unfair to hold them accountable for it, and hope that the media moves on to more interesting and exciting adventures than the plodding, depressing collapse of Iraq.

Yep. Two elections of calling us pussies, not over Afghanistan, but over Iraq. Now Iraq is just one issue out of many, as long as the others are gay marriage, abortion, flag burning, etc.

The real question is how many Americans have completely swallowed up by pure malicious buffoonery? Can senses be recovered by November, or are we about to reel into the abyss?

-jb

The core of who they are.

Jul 23, 2006 in Christian Right, Clueless Conservatives, Glenn Greenwald, John Dean, Politics

You should already be reading Crooks and Liars, but some links are too important not to back up. Glenn Greenwald explains how John Dean has made the ultimate call on Bush administration and their loyal disciples like Brian Pickrell. It’s an authoritarian cult with no other principles. That might have seemed obvious to many of us before, but rarely has the case been laid out so beautifully.

Of course, Dean and Greenwald too have been targeted by the usual rightwing slime machine (that never looks at itself in the mirror), but the truth is that none of them will stand toe to toe. Just like Brian P., they’ll talk lots of shit from their own sites, but as soon as you confront them they beat that ground running.

Choice quote:

The Bush administration’s ability to engage in extraordinary and radical behavior has not occurred in a vacuum. The administration is radical and can act seemingly without limits because its supporters and followers are radical and limitless in their allegiance to its abuses. Understanding the disturbing and dangerous human dynamic which fuels that movement is critical to understanding the movement itself, and ultimately, to defeating it.

The thing is, you have to prepare for the fact that they will run back to their mob where they can throw rocks. They’re not going to accept a level playing field. They won’t acknowledge utter deconstruction of their every lie and misconstruance. Look at Bush’s debates with Kerry. He would get soundly trounced, and run straight back to his carefully selected crowds crowing like a mad rooster. The tactics of cowardice have become their primary tool set.

The only solution is to get more people to recognize this overall pattern of authoritarian cultism with no principle so they will stop trusting those who seek to manipulate them. And that’s going to have to start with the citizens, because our politicians sure as hell aren’t throwing the real fireballs. Republican politicians will gladly wave 9/11 around and call us friends of Saddam, but ours still behave like they’re at a tea party. Are they waiting for the independents? No, because most independents have caught on. Hell, most conservatives who are actually conservative know what’s going on. It’s just Bush’s loyal 33% and the elite media playing against them.

Only one kind of Democratic politician is going to change what’s going on: the take-no-shit kind. I didn’t know how to react to bullies when I was a kid, so I got bullied. Now I realize that if I go down swinging I’m less likely to get bullied a second time. I learned my lessons late, but the Democrat party is beyond that point. It’s time to grow up, chin up, and bring it to each and every talking-point Republican.

The fact that they were so eager for an authoritarian figure that they even accepted as depraved an idiot as Bush… these guys aren’t strong. They’re the weakest people on the planet.

-jb