I’m Baaack

We’re still crawling out from under the Christmas Tree around here but I read this interesting post and immediately thought of all of you.  It’s a little deep in the weeds but I found it a fascinating read for the progressive/liberal end of the political spectrum.  I guess I’m assuming I’m not the only one who thinks about these issues so we’ll see if anyone else thinks they’re important in an election year.

Last night I had a little free time and as it seemed pretty quiet around here, I went over to the Plumline to see what everyone was discussing and I thought the most interesting links in the Happy Hour thread were those relating to the “Drones”.  The discussion was launched by a piece from Greg Miller over at the WaPo and then the reaction from a few left leaning bloggers.

Other commanders in chief have presided over wars with far higher casualty counts. But no president has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation’s security goals.
The rapid expansion of the drone program has blurred long-standing boundaries between the CIA and the military. Lethal operations are increasingly assembled a la carte, piecing together personnel and equipment in ways that allow the White House to toggle between separate legal authorities that govern the use of lethal force.
In Yemen, for instance, the CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command pursue the same adversary with nearly identical aircraft. But they alternate taking the lead on strikes to exploit their separate authorities, and they maintain separate kill lists that overlap but don’t match. CIA and military strikes this fall killed three U.S. citizens, two of whom were suspected al-Qaeda operatives.
The convergence of military and intelligence resources has created blind spots in congressional oversight. Intelligence committees are briefed on CIA operations, and JSOC reports to armed services panels. As a result, no committee has a complete, unobstructed view.
With a year to go in President Obama’s first term, his administration can point to undeniable results: Osama bin Laden is dead, the core al-Qaeda network is near defeat, and members of its regional affiliates scan the sky for metallic glints.
Those results, delivered with unprecedented precision from aircraft that put no American pilots at risk, may help explain why the drone campaign has never attracted as much scrutiny as the detention or interrogation programs of the George W. Bush era. Although human rights advocates and others are increasingly critical of the drone program, the level of public debate remains muted.
Senior Democrats barely blink at the idea that a president from their party has assembled such a highly efficient machine for the targeted killing of suspected terrorists. It is a measure of the extent to which the drone campaign has become an awkward open secret in Washington that even those inclined to express misgivings can only allude to a program that, officially, they are not allowed to discuss.

Judging from the comments I’m not actually convinced that everyone read the Miller piece, or the other commentary, but that’s neither here nor there.  I’m finding it fascinating that there is so little outcry from left leaning pundits and citizens and when I read the following piece it crystallized for me that we’re becoming either immune or unconcerned or maybe just apathetic to the most important issues of our time.  Over at America Blog they’ve been tracking viewer hits through Blogger and have put together what appear to be the top three issues based upon stories on their website.  Granted these are issues that matter to the left, I’m not even going to pretend to understand the issues through a conservative lens, but I think Obama and Company have quite possibly undercut liberal ideals to a pretty remarkable extent.  And I also believe the whole “drone” story will become issue number four.

1. There’s an interest in these subjects (NDAA, PIPA, & mortgage fraud) that’s deep and persistent. All of our site’s regulars have weighed with their “views” a long time ago. As near as I can tell, the driver to all three posts is Google (search terms: PIPA, NDAA, “whistleblower found dead”) as new people search on these subjects. If so, Google is telling us something.

2. Message for the left — If this really is a clue to the mind of left-leaning voters, it would be smart to hit these subjects hard, starting now. There are far more listeners, I suspect, for whom the PIPA, NDAA, and mortgage fraud messages resonate, than anyone appreciates.

I’d suggest taking advantage of this opportunity. If our small indicators are right, the time to plant seeds is now, not months from now. The soil is ready, so to speak. Let’s not lose the chance.

3. Note to Obama & his merry band — I would not underestimate the extent to which these issues, especially NDAA, are a bridge too far for your base. It seems you’ve been playing a game of “how low can we go” — how far can we stoop to the demands of the money-soaked property rights and national security establishments and not lose our dependable triangulated base. 

NDAA=Indefinite Detention 

PIPA=Kill the Internet Bill

Mortgage Fraud=Whistle Blower Death in Nevada

Maybe it’s just me but I’d rather spend more time discussing these kinds of issues than the GOP primaries and their merry host of actors.  Just in case no one reads the original story in America Blog, the point is that the three stories linked just above keep popping up in the Best of the Week and Best of the Month categories long after they should have disappeared from the forefront.  My contention is that the “Drone” story may be another one.

73 Responses

  1. Welcome back. The economy is slowly turning around btw, like an aircraft carrier rather than a cigarette boat.

    Like

  2. A couple thoughts:Maybe it's just me but I'd rather spend more time discussing these kinds of issues than the GOP primaries and their merry host of actors.I agree. It's nearly impossible to predict who will be the next challenger to Romeny. Pretty much every single candidate in the field has risen up the polls only to fall back down again. So let's spend time on the issues like those highlighted by lmsinca in addition to the economic debates we frequently have. My contention is that the "Drone" story may be another one.Do any of the 4 issues highlighted in this post get much attention from people who don't spend much time on political blogs like us? I'm a little dubious that any of those issues have much traction with most people. The other thing is that politicians on both sides of the aisle seem to agree that they should kill the internet, indefinitely detain Americans and kill whomever, wherever via drones. I think there are some differences in how each side wants to deal with mortgage fraud, but it's too confusing to get much attention. Election cycels inevitably focus on differences so I don't think many of those issues will be discussed much.

    Like

  3. JohnJust about the only news I've really followed for the past couple of weeks is economic news. I think "slowly" is the operative word though. Until CA comes back, if we even can, I won't be humming any Broadway tunes. Our public education system is essentially under attack from lack of revenue and cuts so we're not exactly feeling optimistic here. Maybe 2012 will see an improvement but so far we're still looking at more cuts. Business wise the only positive for us was our Amazon sales, thank God I started that about 8 years ago so we've established a good reputation with good service.

    Like

  4. ashot, I agree the issues highlighted illustrate very little daylight between the parties, but I think the point is that there are people who appear to care about them and maybe they should become more of a political issue for Democrats. It's very disappointing to me that we seem to have lost our way on the issues and have become more of an "anyone but a Republican" party.

    Like

  5. To liven the day. Doug Kass usually hits on about half of his predictions for the new year, and here are the ones that I think could work for 2012 (my snarky comments are in the parentheses): “Israel Attacks Iran. The greatest headwind to the world's equity markets is geopolitical, not economic. Israel attacks Iran in the spring, but, at the outset, the U.S. stays out of the conflict. Iran closes the Strait of Hormuz, and oil prices spike to $125 a barrel. “ ( I think the closing would only last about 12 hours however) “The Fed ties monetary policy to the labor market. In order to encourage corporations to invest and to build up consumer and business confidence, the Fed changes its mandate and promises not to tighten monetary policy until the unemployment rate moves below 6.5%, slightly above the level at which wage pressures might emerge” “Sears Holdings declares bankruptcy. In a spectacular fall” (and in spite of the fact that they employ more people than GM and Chrysler combined in 2009, are not bailed out the government!) “A sloppy start in arresting the European debt crisis leads to far more forceful and successful policy. The EU remains intact after a brief scare in early 2012 caused by Greece's dissatisfaction (and countrywide riots) with imposed austerity measures. The eurozone experiences only a mild recession, as the ECB introduces large-scale quantitative-easing measures that exceed those introduced by the Fed during our financial crisis in 2008-2009.” (making Ron Paul so impossibly rich that he gives up Congress and become the new Donald Trump!) The full list is here:http://www.thestreet.com/story/11357403/6/kass-15-surprises-for-2012.html

    Like

  6. Breaking off a point from Doug Kass, Sears is pretty certainly in a 2012 death spiral. It employs about 275,000 in the US, many still in small communities. Does Obama have political room to "bail out" for lack of a better term Sears so as to avoid the blip in the unemployment figures?

    Like

  7. It's very disappointing to me that we seem to have lost our way on the issues and have become more of an "anyone but a Republican" party.I agree and I'm guessing many of our Republican counterparts would express similar disappointment at becoming the "anyone but Obama" party. At least they have the Tea Party. I suppose we have OWS, but they don't seem to have the same clout as the Tea Party.

    Like

  8. I highly doubt that Sears will get a bailout. And isn't the price of oil going to put a big target on the back of our so-called recovery? I heard that our local Sears is going to become a KMart again…………which is weird.

    Like

  9. Probably peaks out at about $120, presuming any conflict in the Middle East is short lived. There is a lot of supply coming online

    Like

  10. Has anyone besides me ever noticed that UPS is always upping their fuel surcharge based upon the cost of oil, but never lowers it when the price goes down? Isn't $120 a little high though for the kind of recovery you're predicting. I agree re the supply but it won't matter to business if the cost of goods and transportation rises along with the cost of a barrel.

    Like

  11. That's a peak. Sustained pricing would short circuit a recovery.

    Like

  12. Okay john, we'll see I guess. Maybe you'll be right this time………….lolI was reading over at the Plumline, continuing from last night. What's with you and Ddawd? I think you nailed it, anyone who disagrees with him is a conservative.

    Like

  13. ashot: I'm guessing many of our Republican counterparts would express similar disappointment at becoming the "anyone but Obama" party.Count me as a proud member of the ABO party.

    Like

  14. Count me as a proud member of the ABO party. Is that the same as being happy that you have become the ABO party?I'm a proud member of the ABR party, but I wish the ABR party was a bit less like the Republican Party in some areas. .

    Like

  15. I think that NDAA and PIPA should cost Obama his support from progressives. I also think it won't. If there's no cost to him there's no reason for him to take the objection seriously. As soon as you sign up for the "anybody but" club, you're taken for granted and you're concerns can be dismissed.

    Like

  16. I think that NDAA and PIPA should cost Obama his support from progressivesIt might be enough for some of us………..we'll see. I think it's funny though when conservatives and libertarians recommend to progressives how we should vote. No offense or anything……..it's worth a try. I've thrown plenty of votes away in Presidential elections in the past and haven't decided yet what I'll do next year, but it will be based on my choices as we get closer to the election. I doubt he'll need my vote either way as I'm in CA. There's something wrong at the top though, and in Congress, so it feels more and more like our votes are unimportant anyway.

    Like

  17. I've thrown plenty of votes away in Presidential elections in the past and haven't decided yet what I'll do next yearI did something similar here in Michigan's elections and already regret it. I'll won't spend my money or time supporting Obama this time around, but it's hard for me to imagine not voting for him. We'll see…

    Like

  18. ashot:Is that the same as being happy that you have become the ABO party?O don't think the R's have "become" anything different. I think the R's are, and have pretty much always been, the anything but a Dem party, to use your formulation. That is kind of the whole point of a party.I'm a proud member of the ABR party, but I wish the ABR party was a bit less like the Republican Party in some areas.I'm all for more ideological purity in my party, and I understand being disappointed in a candidate that ends up being less ideologically pure than advertised. But I understand that certain concessions to reality must often be made.

    Like

  19. NoVA:As soon as you sign up for the "anybody but" club, you're taken for granted and you're concerns can be dismissed.Progs should primary O. Now that would make things interesting.

    Like

  20. Scott- I have to admit to being a bit suprised at your pragmatism, but as revealed by my indication that I will almost definitely voter for Obama, I agree.

    Like

  21. "I did something similar here in Michigan's elections and already regret it."How so?looking at VA's 2008 returns, i figure a protest vote is exactly that. it means "i object" and really not more than that. http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/states/virginia.htmlwhat's interesting is the freak-out on the right side of the blogoshpere re: Paul. the concern being his support will stay home/3rd party. i'd say maybe if you didn't systematically discount the majority of his voters concerns, you'd give them a reason to support the nominee.

    Like

  22. "Progs should primary O. Now that would make things interesting." Every incumbent should face a primary. every time an incumbent loses, an angel gets his wings. No free pass to the finals. even the packers are going to have to get past the divisionals and NFC championship first.

    Like

  23. lms:There's something wrong at the top though…We agree! (Though surely for different reasons)

    Like

  24. ashot:I have to admit to being a bit suprised at your pragmatism…I am very pragmatic. Why do you think I am a Republican rather than a Libertarian?

    Like

  25. Obama to Sears: "Drop dead! Hey, wadda ya want from me…no union jobs to float. No 2Big2Fail 2012 campaign bucket fillers. Oh, & by the way, I don't give an eff about unemployment."

    Like

  26. NoVA:every time an incumbent loses, an angel gets his wings.Outstanding seasonal reference.

    Like

  27. Scott to tao:You should hang out here more often.

    Like

  28. ScottSurely. Both parties are pandering to the ones with the revolving doors wide open IMO.

    Like

  29. "There's something wrong at the top though"check out hte NYT election results i linked to. the congressional returns. more than a couple winners with 60% of the vote, for an institution that has an approval rating lower than the banks, BP and Paris Hilton. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/congress-approval-problem-in-one-chart/2011/11/15/gIQAkHmtON_blog.html

    Like

  30. NoVa- I just wish I could say I didn't vote for Schutte for Attorney General. Why do you think I am a Republican rather than a Libertarian?Excellent point.

    Like

  31. Scott to tao:You should hang out here more often.That's twice in one day we agree. Must be the Christmas spirit.

    Like

  32. Ash — Not up on my Michigan politics, but it could be worse. My AG is Ken Cuccinelli.

    Like

  33. It sounds like Kevin is going to be gone until next week, should we divvy up the Bits and Pieces for the next few days? I'll volunteer for one, tonight or tomorrow. Anyone else?

    Like

  34. NoVA:more than a couple winners with 60% of the vote, for an institution that has an approval rating lower than the banks, BP and Paris Hilton.Not that surprising, when you think about the fact that individual voters are responsible for seating only 2% of Senators and less than .25% of the House members. So it is easy to see how "my vote" can be wholly unrelated to the state of congress.

    Like

  35. NoVa- You probably win. I really have myself to blame for listening to a judge who had good things to say about Schuette. If I had done my homework I would have realized he has been a politician since he was like 26 and voting for him was anything but a "protest vote". I think from now on I'll save my protest votes for a truly new face in politics. Which is to say I'll probably never make another protest vote.

    Like

  36. lms:I'll do tomorrow. Can't do tonight. And it'll be a bits and pieces unlike any other.

    Like

  37. lms:I'll volunteer to do Bits and Pieces on Saturday. I'm also going to work on a bit of a random health care post.

    Like

  38. Thanks scott, I'll figure out something for tonight. Can't wait until tomorrow though, wow.

    Like

  39. Thanks ashot, that's New Year's Eve you know so it better be really good. And that was funny NoVA, haven't seen that in years.

    Like

  40. lms:Don't get too excited. I may be unlike any other, in all the worst possible ways.

    Like

  41. "I am very pragmatic. Why do you think I am a Republican rather than a Libertarian?"Because you don't own enough gold to get past the door!

    Like

  42. TMW – that is a good version.

    Like

  43. OT: The Virginia Republican Party can be really irritating at times. Looks like I'm not voting in the primary.Va. GOP will require loyalty oath in presidential primary

    Like

  44. jnc, that's just a strange way to hold a primary you guys have there. Does that mean they'll track votes somehow to see if you've lived up to your promise?

    Like

  45. "jnc, that's just a strange way to hold a primary you guys have there. Does that mean they'll track votes somehow to see if you've lived up to your promise? "No it's meaningless crap, but annoying nonetheless. The previous pledge to only vote in one primary or the other was more reasonable:"Virginians do not register to vote by party. That means any registered voter can cast a ballot in a presidential primary. If the Democratic and Republican parties hold primaries on the same day, a voter must choose one or the other.In Virginia's 2000 GOP presidential primary, won by Texas Gov. George W. Bush, voters were required to sign a different pledge: "I, the undersigned, state that I do not intend to participate in the nomination process of any other party than the Republican Party.""I also found out that there is no provision for write in candidates so the choices are Romney and Paul. Ideally, this would result in the lowest turn out ever so as to make the primary meaningless.

    Like

  46. re: the loyalty oath. it just means the voters get a chance to lie to the politicians for a change.

    Like

  47. @John, et.al.: Sears is pretty certainly in a 2012 death spiral.Sears has been in a slow death spiral since at least the late 1980s. I was associated with them for several years and they've been living on borrowed time for a long while. I wouldn't toss any tax dollars their way, they're not savable. Better to give it to growth companies/industries that are well run.

    Like

  48. There's no party registration in Illinois. On primary day, you walk in and ask for the ballot of your choice (Dem., Rep., Ind.) and you're directed to the proper voting booth.Having been raised here, I find myself baffled by states which require registration.

    Like

  49. "MsJS said… @John, et.al.: Sears is pretty certainly in a 2012 death spiral. Sears has been in a slow death spiral since at least the late 1980s. I was associated with them for several years and they've been living on borrowed time for a long while. I wouldn't toss any tax dollars their way, they're not savable. Better to give it to growth companies/industries that are well run."I'd trace Sears decline to the Kmart merger in 2005. Seems to be a similar trajectory to Circuit City and just about as likely to get a bailout. Note though that the following sentence is perfectly valid as well:GM has been in a slow death spiral since at least the late 1980s. I was associated with them for several years and they've been living on borrowed time for a long while. I wouldn't toss any tax dollars their way, they're not savable. Better to give it to growth companies/industries that are well run."

    Like

  50. Happy new year all — out for couple of days. take care.

    Like

  51. jnc4p, trust me, Sears was on a downward trajectory long before the Kmart deal. That the Kmart deal was even on the table gives one an idea of how far they'd fallen.As to swapping in GM in place of Sears, I have no personal disagreement with that. I consulted to Ford for many years and always felt GM was badly run ever since the first oil embargo. In 2008/09 my preference was to retrain/relocate GM employees rather than bail out the company. But that was a political non-starter.

    Like

  52. I'd be interesting in seeing a breakdown of Sears internal profitability by department. For myself, the only reason I typically go there is the Craftsman tool department.

    Like

  53. What a great thread. I am at my sister's in Durham and on borrowed time, so I cannot respond to all your posts, right now.Tao, I miss you here but I would miss Sears greatly. I still buy Craftsman tools and Kenmore appliances, but nothing else there.LMS, I could vote for Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party if he disavows the POTUS' supposed new power to declare me an enemy of the state. I have moments when I cannot forgive the Rs and the Ds their trading on fundamental rights embodied in the Constitution.Having voted Perot twice I am a person who is not averse to making my desires or my anxieties known.I agree with John that I do not think basic liberty interests drive anyone but we few who breathe this stuff.I will try to catch up with y'all next Tuesday night.HNY!

    Like

  54. A useful illustration on the limitations of using "net worth" for measuring wealth disparity. All of these Congressional Representatives have negative net worth. None are broke or poor in the common understanding of the terms:25 members of Congress with lowest net worth

    Like

  55. When I was associated with Sears it was hardlines, particularly appliances and hardware, that drove profitably.The myth for years was that shoppers bought in several departments on a single trip so it was OK to break even on clothing because Sears made up for it in hardlines. The evidence showed shoppers didn't do that at all, but the myth remained part of the company's underlying strategy.

    Like

  56. Mark, if Sears were to crumble, I'm sure someone would pick up the Kenmore and Craftsman brands. It's not like Sears actually makes any of that stuff.

    Like

  57. MsJS – would the company that picked up the brands spec them as well as Sears has? I doubt it. There is a reason why CR rates so many C and K products as best buys. It is because Sears specs these products well and offers bids that mfrs find tempting.I must say that I am pleased with Costco's house brand – Kirkland. I suppose iof Costco opened Costco hardware and sold the C and K products I might give them a chance.

    Like

  58. GM is also in a death spiral, but this administration cannot let either they or Chrysler die before the end of 2012. Look for Chrysler to go bakrupt about a year after their IPO, with GM sometime in 2015-16

    Like

  59. T/mom, the specs on C and K items change all the time based on customer interests, pricing, technology, competitive activity, etc. There's no reason in advance to presume a different owner would behave as you have described.

    Like

  60. Read this piece, even if you hate economic theory: "Can the Government Guarantee Everyone a Job?" http://www.cnbc.com/id/45818274 The MMT crowd are ascendant and will make their presence known, possibly even by November 2012. If you have never heard of them before, you will.

    Like

  61. @john: Thanks for the link.So, would the MMTers be for a gov't bailout of the likes of Sears for the sake of full employment?There's a new thread up, btw.

    Like

  62. john, I doubt their theories will actually get anywhere. I haven't heard even some of the most progressive of us here or elsewhere call for a jobs guarantee program. I think a lot of us across the spectrum believe now would be a good time to work on infrastructure projects, but only because they need doing anyway. I always hated teachers who gave us busy work just for the sake of working. Obviously, it's the private sector which will create the jobs and we shouldn't count on a bunch of busy work from the government. Just my opinion.T/momWelcome to ATiM and we hope you'll stick around.

    Like

  63. Agree with LMS.

    Like

  64. Mark, if you weren't a few years older than me, I'd wonder if we were separated at birth.

    Like

  65. Imsinca – "Maybe it's just me but I'd rather spend more time discussing these kinds of issues than the GOP primaries and their merry host of actors."I think if one of those merry host of actors gets elected, you will get the national dialogue you seem to desire. Do you think if McCain was president with the same policies of Obama that NDAA and drones would be simply background noise? I don't. Obama is not the lightning rod the left needs to propel these issues into national discussion issues. It does strike me as somewhat hypocritical of the idealistic left to not be anywhere near as upset with these policies as they would be if a Republican was in charge of them. That is, of course, speculation on my part, and not provable. But i have a hard time believing that it wouldn't be the case.All that said, I sleep better at night knowing we are running the drones and the NDAA. Of course, in other blogs I have been labeled as "pro-torture"…

    Like

  66. Dave!Good comment. I'm quite positive you're exactly correct re these issues under a Republican President. I read complaints in some quarters but not enough and if I or someone like me complains too loudly we get booed………funny.Here's another piece you might find interesting that I read this morning and has me thinking much harder than I usually attempt to do around the Holidays……….haaaaahaaaaa.This is why Ron Paul can critique the Federal Reserve and American empire, and why liberals have essentially no answer to his ideas, arguing instead over Paul having character defects. Ron Paul’s stance should be seen as a challenge to better create a coherent structural critique of the American political order. It’s quite obvious that there isn’t one coming from the left, otherwise the figure challenging the war on drugs and American empire wouldn’t be in the Republican primary as the libertarian candidate. To get there, liberals must grapple with big finance and war, two topics that are difficult to handle in any but a glib manner that separates us from our actual traditional and problematic affinity for both. War financing has a specific tradition in American culture, but there is no guarantee war financing must continue the way it has. And there’s no reason to assume that centralized power will act in a more just manner these days, that we will see continuity with the historical experience of the New Deal and Civil Rights Era. The liberal alliance with the mechanics of mass mobilizing warfare, which should be pretty obvious when seen in this light, is deep-rooted.

    Like

  67. FYI…a poor excuse for the Morning Report has been posted.

    Like

  68. BTW lms…I recently figured out how to embed multiple vids in one post. In youtube, after you click on "share", instead of clicking on the blogger icon, click on "embed". That will provide you with the html which you can then copy into any post.

    Like

  69. Thanks scott, I'll try that next time.

    Like

  70. Drones are one thing, the NDAA is something else. Like most bills, if you read them, there's something got almost everybody to worry about, or at least go WTF. Plenty of stuff in there that's just weird.

    Like

Be kind, show respect, and all will be right with the world.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: