Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What Harry Told Barry

It's Academic and Far, Far Away

State Department head attorney Harold Koh has been universally lauded as a champion of human rights. He is widely reported to be on President Obama's short list of future Supreme Court nominees, precisely because of his stellar record as a trans-global, humanistic legal scholar and public servant in both Republican (Reagan) and Democratic administrations. The son of first-generation immigrants from South Korea, he would be the first Asian-American Supreme Court Justice and its only international law expert.  The former  dean of Yale Law School, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor under President Clinton and is currently Legal Adviser to the State Department.  Thus, he has had both Clintons as bosses. 

So it came as a  surprise last week when Mr. Koh, an erstwhile staunch defender of the War Powers Act,  performed a prima facie flip-flop on his interpretation of it. This came after the President had already been advised by two other lawyers in the Departments of Defense and Justice that he needed congressional approval to keep bombing Libya.  But war is not war, according to Koh's conveniently convoluted thinking, when we destroy just a few buildings and people with remote control gizmos.

 He told the president exactly what he wanted to hear, much in the same way George Bush's lawyers told him what he wanted to hear about torture.  It's easy.  All you have to do is mangle the English language. Torture becomes an enhanced interrogation technique.  War becomes a limited kinetic military exercise when you perform surgical strikes with drones and minimal collateral damage.  If these weapons do happen to kill some innocent women and children along the way, it's because of system failure, not human aggression.  Or so the reasoning goes.  It's kind of like a video game, because from a distance, you don't have to deal with even looking at any blood or mangled bodies.  You are at so many degrees of separation.  You can physically be thousands of miles away. Plus, if no American is in imminent danger of bodily harm, the grudgingly acknowledged and always regrettable deaths of civilians simply don't count.  War is war only if someone on our side gets hurt. It has to be a mutual thing.

Since Koh had always been such a defender of the War Powers Act, why has he now seemingly gone out of his way to subvert it through semantics? 

"One possibility is that Koh has a client, the Secretary of State, who is committed to the Libya intervention, and he is serving his client faithfully" writes former  DOJ and DOD lawyer Jack Goldsmith of Harvard University. "Another possibility is that Koh’s commitments to humanitarian intervention and the 'responsibility to protect' outweigh his commitment to his academic vision of presidential war powers.  I certainly do not believe that Koh’s academic views should control his advice and judgment during his government service.  Nor do I think that his academic writings addressed the precise issue under the WPR that he is now advocating in the government.  But for a quarter century before heading up State-L, Koh was the leading and most vocal academic critic of presidential unilateralism in war, and a tireless advocate for institutional cooperation between the political branches in war decisions.  I am thus genuinely surprised, as many people are, by his current stance."

Goldsmith added that "it cannot be pleasant for the men and women involved in this 'kinetic military action' to know that the Defense Department General Counsel and the head of OLC think the intervention in Libya as currently executed is unlawful."

In his capacity as State Department legal advisor, Koh was also instrumental in  writing new international rules governing the behavior of private security contractors in the wake of the Blackwater (now XE) scandal involving the shooting of civilians in Iraq. Of course, the new code of behavior does not include sanctions for previous bad behavior.  It's another one of those aspirational things, apparently, with the purpose of placating the international human rights community.

And then there is that bane of the Administration and of the American Security State, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, subject of an ongoing DOJ investigation for possible violation of the Espionage Act.  Last December, Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, a advocacy group which has an advisory role at the U.N., accused the ubiquitous Mr. Koh of violating ethical standards and putting British barrister Jennifer Robinson in jeopardy by interfering with her representation of her client. Koh had posted a letter online conflating her legal work for Assange with criminality on her own part. (Shades of the Bush Administration's criticism of lawyers defending Gitmo detainees?)  Koh's actions, according to the Canadians, violated both international law and the ethical standards of the American Bar Association.  Details can be found here. LRWC filed a complaint about Koh with Attorney General Eric Holder and Sec. Clinton.  But since Koh not only still has his Foggy Bottom job, but is also now a go-to legal eagle for the White House, we can safely assume the letter was stuffed in a circular file somewhere, eh? 

Koh is a new breed of apparatchik, a tool of the neoliberals who wage war that is not war with a wink and a nod and a path to riches in an oil-rich state that is conveniently not too dedicated to human rights.

It's Collateral Damage and Far, Far Away

Update: Here's a list made by Rep. Dennis Kucinich of 10 reasons to oppose the war in Libya.


Anonymous said...

Of course it could just be that he wants to keep in line for that Supreme Court slot too!
The reasoning goes like this "I can do emmense good if I just go along with the program and as a result reach high office where I can be myself." I am sure Faustus said it better but the idea is clear. Such people should be excluded from consideration for high office as they are not fit.


4Runner said...

A portrait of a toady, legal warts and all.

Janet Camp said...

Food for thought. I am willing to confess that I don't know enough about the law or the precedents (if any) for Koh's decisions. But, I do know that the letter of the law and what seems like common sense can be two different things.

While I have no argument against the view supported in this essay, I feel that I need more information.

I hate the wars and the flimsy pretenses that got us into them, but offering very minimal support to NATO seems reasonable. Whether or not it is technically legal, I cannot say. The law is full of these highly technical arguments, so I think the lawyers should slug it out and the highly partisan congress should stay out of it for now as they would only vote their ideology anyway. I know I'm out on a bit of a limb, here, but as I am NOT a legal scholar, and the President and Koh are......

Karen Garcia said...

I am not a lawyer either, that's why I quoted a few in my post. We are not giving "minimal support" to NATO, as they would have us believe. The U.S. has spent $750 million so far on this non-hostile event, the effort is being led by U.S. Africa CENTCOM, we are providing the bulk of the weaponry and hardware. In other words, NATO is a synonym for the US forces surrounded by a very small coalition of British, French and Canadian resources. Naturally, now that Senate hawks McCain and Kerry are giving retroactive approval to the Libyan non-war, Obama has the cover he said he never needed, so the legal machinations are somewhat moot at this point.
Remember when Obama promised this was gonna be an in-and-out event taking a few weeks at most? Well, it has just passed the three month point, with no end in sight. The word "quagmire" comes to mind.
Ever noticed the Senate can really fall into Bipartisan lockstep whenever the topic is national security and endless war?

Janet Camp said...

Yes, I know you quoted the lawyers, but I guess what I meant was that I can't interpret all this excruciatingly precise language. I am only defending the idea that it can be difficult to parse these things, not the conflict in Libya.

I read Kucinich's points and liked #7 and #10. Otherwise, while I hate war, I really wouldn't call this thing in Libya a war. I've been listening to the BBC since it started and I think there's a case for supporting the rebels who, without some help will be slaughtered as were the people left behind in Afghanistan (the whole Charlie Wilson's war thing).

I think Congress just likes to yell and stamp their feet when they think they aren't getting all the attention. Funny how so many of them want to be President!

Don't think that I am defending our endless wars. I'm the super-lefty who reads Gore Vidal--who lists the non-stop military involvements of the US ever since the end of WWII. On the other hand, I have read the book written by Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian General in charge in Rwanda and if only the President at the time had offered some help.....well, what more can be said about that debacle?

Of course we should pay the most for NATO--we are the biggest and richest (except for all of those of us who aren't!).

Feel free to sort me out some more as I am still obviously conflicted on this.

Karen Garcia said...

If Libya were some backwater with no natural resources and a cruel dictator committing genocide, then I would believe our "humanitarian" reasons for bombing it. I read Dallaire's book too, and the lack of action by Clinton and the rest of the world to put a stop to that outrage was appalling.
I had given Obama the benefit of the doubt on Libya, but no more. Someone said this intervention is the longest political assassination in history. That is a very convincing explanation. If we were all that humanitarian, we would be intervening in Syria, too. But all that country has is its people, so the U.S. Govt "condemns" and "deplores" the slaughter of civilians by that particular dictator. There are probably about 20 countries where we could be intervening for humanitarian reasons. But the Libya situation is just lies and hypocrisy, in my opinion. The goal is oil -- to create easy path for the oil companies to go in and profiteer. And all perfectly "legal" I am sure!

VLT said...

I think we are stretched too thin and we simply can't afford another war on so many levels - morally, with man power, financially. There will always be a reason for joining in or starting a war. Some group will always need our help in fighting an enemy.

I would have more faith in Obama's judgement (and his motives) if he hadn't upped the ante in Afghanistan in the first place and had used bin Laden's death as an excuse to end the war and bring our military home. It IS suspect that we would intervene only in an oil rich country while there are many other populations equally deserving of our help in fighting oppressive dictators.

I am concerned that Obama is doing what Bush did - using foreign policy and war as a distraction from the problems of our economy at home.

Kate Madison said...

It is probably impossible to get another Justice William O. Douglas or Thurgood Marshall on today's Supreme Court, a big part, after all, of our supremely Corporate Guvnment! With both parties bought off by powerful corporations, and depending on them for the majority of their campaign contributions--is it any wonder we are all living in "The United States of Corruption?"

That said: I would far rather have Harold Koh on the Supreme Court than Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts or Samuel Alito. He may be corrupt, but it is mostly a point of view up with which I can put. And I think he would vote with the liberal minority. So.....does that mean I am corrupt? Or just terminally pragmatic?

You don't have to vote on this. That was a rhetorical question, she said hopefully!

Karen Garcia said...

Yeah, anybody would be better than Clarence. Koh at least might help reverse the Walmart decision, since he is gung-ho on international human rights. Who knows -- he might one day write a decision forcing Walmart to take responsibility for the odious sweatshop conditions in Bangladesh, for example. That way, when the women earning $40 a month making cheap blue jeans leave work after 10 hours instead of 16 they might get home in time to avoid the Drones that got misdirected from Pakistan! Sorry Kate, I just couldn't resist -- and no, you are absolutely not corrupt. I fully support your right to pragmatism!

John in Lafayette said...

John Yoo, Harold Koh. Le plus ca change....

Doesn't anyone read history? It was only a few years ago that Doris Kearns Goodwin came out with her magnificent work Team of Rivals. In it she details how our greatest president assembled a group of advisors, many of whom disagreed with him vehemently on a number of important issues and were not afraid to say so. Lincoln understood that he needed frank discussions of issues to arrive at the best solutions.

So why haven't recent presidents realized this? Why have we had such a succession of presidents demanding toadies all around them?

And Obama is particularly infuriating, because he's so willing to toady to Congressional Republicans himself. It really is getting harder not to give in to despair.

Jay - Ottawa said...

You can be sure that Harold Koh is on TLOTE’s short list for the next Supreme Court opening, what with Koh’s sterling vita and, now, his front-page creds for dependable service to the Commander in Chief in time of war – or should I say, instead of that rough term “war” or the legalese term “hostilities,” “brief yet open-ended humanitarian intervention via F-16s and boom-boom drones.”

Presumably, Koh is OK on Roe v Wade, the mother of all issues for sensible pragmatics who view the array of problems before us. The rest of us may lose a Ginsberg in the appointment, but at least Scalia will not get another lapdog like Thomas. Let us hope Koh is not Borked in Senate confirmation hearings like his role model from the Justice Department of Nixon’s day. Given the quality and financial provenance of legislators from both parties, Harold Koh will fly through the hearings like a Festo Seagull.

Rule #1 for Pragmatists: The Lesser of Two Evils is the new Good Enough. At least until there is nothing more to bargain away.

Kat said...

Thanks Karen for providing a site where those who are still in the TLOTE (or perhaps even pro Obama) camp can have a reasoned discussion with those of us who would like to see a primary challenge.

Janet Camp said...

Karen, Valerie, and Kate--you've made a case and I'm in agreement. I haven't made my point well enough. It's not that I think we should be in Libya at all, just that the President's legal argument seems more reasonable to me than it does to you all and many others.

I wouldn't mind seeing Koh as a Supreme, if we're keeping score on that.

Those of you who want a primary challenger to appear--who do you have in mine (that would accept the mission)? I'm sure Dennis Kucinich will be running, but give me someone remotely electable, please. I like Rep. Kucinich, so some extent, but you are dreaming if you think he could get any further this time than before. We have to think beyond 2012 and lay some groundwork if we want a progressive candidate. He/she has to have broad appeal and that can't happen in the present political and media frenzy culture. Obama only got elected because Independents voted for him. A candidate only supported by Progressives is not electable until the case for Progressivism is made on a national scale.

What happened in Wisconsin (and other states) in 2010, is not moving us in a Progressive direction (although I am hopeful of a serious BLOWBACK effect--get back to me after the recall elections next month). We have many hearts and minds to win before we can win an election. We need think tanks, and we need to get money out of the election system. Need I say it again? PROGRESSIVES UNITED. Russ Feingold just may be electable IF he chooses to run in 2016.

Kate Madison said...


..."The reasoning goes like this "I can do immense good if I just go along with the program and as a result reach high office where I can be myself."... Such people should be excluded from consideration for high office as they are not fit.

Your comment, right, as Koh's ventriloquist?

Well then, what've you got to say about my four fave undeserving justices, who all lied to get through their confirmation processes and who continue to show the quality of mercy is so beyond strained, it is actually strangled?

Yes, I am speaking about Antonin Scalia, who said early and often that he during his confirmation hearings that he hates activist judges and believes the court should have none. And who is our most activist judge? His lapdog, Clarence Thomas, could, I guess, be called an activist judge as well, since he goes along with every decision Scalia makes. But he is a silent lapdog--errr...activist, since he chooses to say nothing at all. NOTHING! EVER!

And John Roberts. Yikes. That guy promised us he was non-partisan and would consider every case thoroughly on it merits. And he seemed like a really nice guy--well, nicer than Scalia and Thomas. Then along comes Citizens United, and blastorama! So...I am changing his testimony before the Senate to say that "he would consider every case thoroughly on its MONEY." Don't get me started on Alito, who probably is a nice guy. He can see only his way--OR the highway. And to hear that he has joined Scalia and Thomas in that strict, authoritarian Catholic all-male secret organization, Opus Dei, makes my blood run cold.

Given your definition of being fit for high office, where would you put these bozos?

Yes, I admit, this is a trick question.

Jay - Ottawa said...

I've just finished reading the text, nicely provided by RealityChex, of TLOTE's speech on Afghanistan, the one where he promises the US military will be pretty much out of that place in about three more short years.

I was particularly taken by the statement of a soldier and quoted by TLOTE in the speech. This is what the soldier said when referring to the nihilists of al-Qaeda and the retribution they brought down on their own heads by 9/11:

“The message is we don’t forget. You will be held accountable, no matter how long it takes.”

Well said. And thank you, Mr. President. I have posted that statement above my desk in block print. The words will help me stand firm in holding politicians accountable in 2012 for their attacks against innocent people in behalf of greed, power or a ruinous ideology.

Karen Garcia said...

Call it a primary challenge or whatever, but what we really need is a strong hard left movement which would serve to pull Obama back from right/center to at least center, or preferably left of center... not because of any innate ideology or principles on his own part, but because he wants to be re-elected. Don't know if it'll happen this election cycle, probably not. This movement should be as radical as the Tea Party. I envision a loosely aligned movement of workers, the unemployed, the Gray Panthers, independent journalists and artists -- the likes of which have not been seen for nearly 100 years. This is, of course, a vision, but one many people share. We already see such coalitions in miniature, for example in Bloombergville. These happy campers are students, teachers, sanitation workers, union members, non-union members and the jobless. I had hope for Netroots Nation but despaired when a polled 80 percent of participants buckled and are toeing the Democratic Party line, as Jay's TLOTE.

Kate Madison said...

I do not like being a member of TLOTE, and I wish to make clear that IF a more progressive primary challenger comes forth, I will happily join the protest. For a protest it will be--not a true challenge! Big problems to me are:

1)Who that we could support has indicated an interest in becoming a challenger? Anybody know?
2) Who will take responsibility for organizing?
3) Where is the money?
All are important.

I think until it is obvious that we have a viable person, committed to a serious challenge, we are talking hopes, dreams and fairy dust. Russ Feingold would be my choice, but he has said he is not interested. I believe him. Please all of you dreamers--come up with an actual person, so we can get moving.

And, Karen, I wish a well organized movement could pull Obama back to the center--perhaps even a bit left. I am not hopeful. I think he knows he has lost his base and may even be upset about that, but he is focusing on winning the Independent vote in 2012. There simply are not enough of us to counter the richies and the religious right! This is sad.

Jay - Ottawa said...

OK, Kate, I hear your pain, which echoes mine. The organizational hurdles you mention are real. But is the step-by-step work of the National Progressive Alliance fairy dust? Should we dismiss them as dreamers?

This morning the NPA linked me - I've signed up for such contacts -- to a progressive candidate challenging a blue dog Democrat in New Mexico. I gave him a few bucks towards the $10,000 he needs to keep going.


If we don't back the NPA in its party building at state and national levels, we're giving up. The struggle is lost. A real primary challenge within the Democratic Party is where the ultimate outcome of 2012 will be decided. It is there, at the Democratic Convention, or some Bull Moose event nearby, that TLOTE will know whether he can continue to dismiss his old base as inconsequential and otherwise in his pocket. Just maybe a significant challenger, a real progressive, will wipe that confident smile off TLOTE's face. And if TLOTE does lose in 2012, the Democratic Party stands a good chance in defeat of being taken back by progressives and reorganized to serve the people, as distinct from the corporations.

In the meantime, there is real news to be promulgated by you and other gifted writers about the class war going on in America. There are able people, more than one or two, fighting for justice in the class war. They need our full-throated support. If we're serious about economic justice and the Bill of Rights, we'll encourage the progressive upstarts. And not by defeatist talk conceding the country to TLOTE now.

Please understand what I cannot do without becoming a collaborator on the wrong side of this vicious class war. I cannot vote for TLOTE who has CONSISTENTLY advanced the cause of greed. He's their man, not ours. So long as TLOTE stands with them, I cannot be for him.

VLT said...

Kate and Janet,

You make good points – as you always do.

Obviously, we don't have a serious challenger to rally behind, although I certainly will vote for Dennis Kucinich in the Primary if he runs as the only Democratic challenger and hope you will too.

I have not given up on someone stepping up to the plate in the eleventh hour. Waiting until the last possible moment to make his/her candidacy known would be a wise move on the part of any candidate with limited financial resources – as a Progressive challenger or Third Party candidate would undoubtedly be. Candidates who get out there early often run out of money and are especially vulnerable to rumours and attacks. Also, I imagine any potentially strong candidate is waiting and watching to see if there is enough support among the Progressive wing of the party to warrant putting him or herself on the line politically.

I believe the NPA is doing all the right things. They are organising and defining a platform so that there is a support structure in place –just in case. Maybe no one will step up to the plate – and most of us are realistic enough to understand that this is a distinct possibility. But laying the groundwork is not a waste of time. At this point we can work just as the early unions did. We can define ourselves as a united block of voters and we can make some reasonable demands in exchange for our votes. Obviously, the more voters we have standing with us, the stronger we will be. As Karen wrote, we envision including all those who are sick of the plutocracy and injustice into our cause.

We are almost a year and a half away from November 2012. It is too early to throw in the towel. I think we should act together - as a block of voters - and simply say we have some reasonable demands that Obama has to meet before we give him our vote. Unions have done this and so do smaller groups in a Parliamentary system. I realise that we don't have a Parliamentary system but there is no reason why we can't do this informally. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to study the Tea Party and the effectiveness of the Religious Right. While I totally disagree with them and their campaigns of ignorance and disinformation, I have to admire their ability to organise, make their message heard and to get some of their demands met. The difference between them and us is we have facts and truth on our side. Just as Karen has pointed out in her latest posting, the lies have become so ludicrous that reasonable people will not accept them as truth.

I am also very concerned about our eroding rights to organise and not be persecuted. I don’t want to over-dramatize this point but if “national security” keeps going in the direction it is going, I foresee the Plutocracy making it more and more difficult (illegal) for individuals to organise and fight the system. As unemployment increases and the masses have less and less to lose because they have already lost everything, the government could very well use keeping law and order as an excuse to infringe on our rights to organise. At the rate we are going, I am concerned that in four years it will be more difficult to fight the system than it is now. We can’t afford to wait for 2016. Even if we fail, our cause will be more known and have had time to pick up legitimacy.

As for all the Progressive groups out there, Russ Feingold and Progressives United being a shining example, OF COURSE we should be working for these groups! Working to get candidates elected to the House, Senate, state levels of government and the recall efforts are incredibly important. But I don’t see working and supporting these groups AND organising as a block of voters for the purpose of negotiating for some concessions from the Obama camp as mutually exclusive.

We have got to try. I am sure those early union organisers felt scared and hopeless too. But they went forward and fought on and so can we.

VLT said...

One more thought, in addressing your points, Kate. I am not convinced that Obama is as unconcerned about losing his base as team Obama would like to project. People like you, Janet and Karen have already sent him packing in regard to helping with his campaign and I am sure you are not alone. I also think Obama political strategists are aware that there are many people like my brother and a few friends who won't bother to vote at all. We are not going to have the numbers turn out to vote like we did in 2008 because people don't see Obama in the same hopeful light they did. Debbie Wasserman Shultz seems bright and cognizant of the Democratic Party as a whole. She has got to be aware of the dissent in the ranks even if Obama's advisors try to keep him in a cocoon.

Anonymous said...

No trick there at all Kate,

I'm for small honest government. I'm not in favor of activist judges whatever their political stripe. The only disagreement could be defining "activist". Read my post on Marie's site about the precedents for "the Citizans United" decision. I'm against unlimited money in election campaigns. I think it's obscene that anyone is planning on raising a Billion Dollars to reelect himself. You may have read the discussion Marie and I had about tweaking the 14th amendment to keep L.E.s (corporations) from being able to "donate" unlimited amounts of money. We also discussed tweaking the enabling amendment for the income tax to insure that multinationals located in the U.S. Pay taxes in the U.S.



Jay - Ottawa said...

Precision, precision! That was BoldProgressives.org (not NPA) that linked me to the New Mexico campaign.

Janet Camp said...

There is not going to be a challenger in 2012. If we are serious, we need to be looking at 2016. We need to pull all these new groups together and build something tangible that people can get behind. Part of the problem with the left is that it is very fragmented. I'd like to think that's because it is made up of thinking people who don't march in lockstep to the latest tune. But somehow, we need to articulate a message that appeals to busy people who don't read and think as much as we do.

In the meantime, I'll still hold my nose and vote for Obama (if I vote--which is a radical notion for me), not Kucinich. I honestly don't think DK is qualified to be President.

Just think what a difference it would make, though, if we got Citizen's United overturned and followed that with serious campaign finance reform? That would lay the groundwork for a whole new flock of candidates at all levels. Perhaps even for some modification of the way we vote and the two-party system?

What I'm saying is that we have to think bigger than the 2012 election. The right has been organizing and propagandizing since the New Deal and really got going with Reagan, so we can't turn this around by hoping for a third party candidate to ride in on a white horse and save us from the right. What I can do right now is keep phone banking for the recall elections here in my state so that we can start by throwing out these newly elected idiots at the state level. That's change I can believe in. And I can keep giving money to groups that are working for meaningful change--PU (love that acronym!) being my favorite as you all know by now.

Jay - Ottawa said...

The more I read posts like Janet's, the more I realize 2012 will not be the measure of Progressive success or failure. The year 2012 is merely the first step to a more interesting 2014 and 2016.

The Democrats must lose the White House and the Senate in 2012.

At the same time one of the Third Parties, perhaps the NPA, must win at least 5% of the popular vote in 2012. (Ross Perot got over 18% in one of his two runs for the presidency.) Any party exceeding 5% of the popular vote is eligible for public funding in subsequent elections.

The Democrats' loss of the White House and the Senate would throw that organization into disarray. The leadership brave enough to stick its head up after such a loss would not be taking the party any further to the right. This Administration has already outdone the Bush administration in moving closer to neocons, corporatists and anti-Constitntuionalists.

Centrist and left-leaning voters standing in the ruins of the Democratic Party will move to the left, either by flooding into the Third Party, OR BY TAKING OVER THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY ITSELF, with its infrastructure and funding more or less intact for the new leadership.

With a pumped-up Third Party or a Democratic Party in more responsible hands we might have a real fight for Congressional seats in 2014. Irrespective of the MSM, Progressives in Opposition will gain use of the Bully Pulpit.

By 2016 American voters, better informed by established party machinery, would have clear choices for the White House. Let the party building begin, then, in 2012.

Voting for a Third Party in 2012 is not a vote thrown away. It is the first step in a series of steps taken by ordinary Americans to take back their government by degrees in 2014 and 2016.

The surging New Democratic Party (NDP) in Canada just did that in recent elections by displacing the Liberal Party (now in abject disarray) as the official Opposition (Second Party) after long being a small Third Party.

The Bottom Line: Dump Obama in 2012 to clear the way for Progressives in 2014 and 2016.

Anonymous said...

No way, Jay.


VLT said...

I am beginning to realise that the Democrats and Obama and Co. are in for a shock. And not because they have ignored their disenchanted base. More and more people I know are saying they won't vote anymore - that the game is rigged. THESE are the people who will cost Obama the election. What is sad is that Obama will take down a bunch of Democrats in the House and Senate with him when these people don't go to the polls.

Anonymous said...


THIS Democrat isn't shocked but I sure as hell am confused. I thought it was your hope that Obama would go down. If people don't want to vote for president, most won't bother to vote at all. You didn't expect enthusiasim for the rest of the ticket did you, after the hammering he is going to take? And you're sad because there may hardly be a Democrat left standing?
Just who is it that you would save? There are only four names that arouse any joy around here and I don't think any of them are running for office in 2012. So who is that you will miss?

You want a Progressive Party. Well get ready because there just may be an opening. And be prepared to get your hands dirty. Besides some suitable electable candidates, it is going to take money - a lot of money, unless, of course, part of the plan is to let the right have full reign for the next twenty years. Karl Rove, Koch and Koch, and Dick Armey will be only to happy to oblige.

I've probably offended many. I am sorry. But this is not a gentlemen's game. This is deadly serious.


VLT said...


I want Obama to throw the progressive base a few bones - that's it! If Obama would consider his base AT ALL, I would give him my vote - but I am not going to give him my vote for free. Obama owes his base something and he gives us nothing. The ball is in his court.

I DO think it is sad that the Democratic leadership has to learn this hard lesson. And I am sad that Obama will probably take down a bunch of half way decent Democrats with him, like Maria Cantwell in my home state of Washington. Sadly, the consequences of Obama selling out to the rich, will affect others. Don't blame me, blame him.

I do not know how to explain my point of view to you in a way that you can understand. I completely understand your fear of the Republicans taking over the government in 2012. But you seem completely unable (or unwilling) to see this situation from my point of view.

If my husband openly cheated on me with another woman and made no effort to quit the affair when it became known to me – Just basically told me to live with it – If he spent all our savings and our kids college fund, trying to do things to keep his mistress happy - nice trips, jewellery, fancy dinners out. If he made decisions that had a negative impact on my life and the life of my children - Would you suggest I stay with him to keep the family happy because divorce is such a scandal? Would you blame me for leaving him? Even if YOU chose to stay in a marriage like that, would you really blame me for leaving my husband after giving him chance after chance to reform?

Ned, quite honestly, your comments to me are sounding more and more like attacks. So I will tell you what I tell my students and my daughter, if you can't speak to me in a civil tone of voice, don't speak me.


Anonymous said...

Well, perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps the country will do just fine if one of those stellar Republican candidates is elected president and we lose a Senator or three or five and a few more House members. The important thing is to get rid of Obama. Funny thing is, I'm sure we can get several million Republicans (including Mitch McConnell!) who will work with us. It will be kind of interesting to see what can be accomplished when we have a really energized Right running things. And so what if another Scalia is added to the Court. They only serve, let's see, for a lifetime.

And while there may not be a Dem party left, and wonder if there are more than five candidates willing to call themselves Progressives, I'm sure by 2014 there will be a brand-new Progressive Party and it will be able to roll-back all the roll-backs the Repubs manage to accomplish while owning all three branches. Heck, it shouldn't be too hard to put back together NPR, Planned Parenthood, Social Security, WIC, Unemployment Insurance and Medicare. However, I'm a realist and Healthcare reform is probably DOA.
Snark? Yeah. This blog should be able to handle it. Do I defend Obama? Nope. Open forum? I hope so.


Anonymous said...


In regard to your marriage question... Scandal is a non-issue. I would let you make your own decisions. As to my decision in such a marriage, I would look at the consequences of packing bags and walking out with the children. (It even works well with the Obama question.) What if I don't have a job? If divorce meant my kids would be immediately homeless, I would wait until I was able to provide for and protect them. I would wait until I got a job, got an apartment, got child care.


Janet Camp said...


Don't know if you're still checking this older column, but I have to say that I didn't take Ned's post as uncivil at all. Simply a different point of view, well-expressed. But I am sorry if you are hurt by it.

I will stick my neck out and extend your analogy. If the cheating husband was my only visible means of support, then, yes--I would stay with him--in separate bedrooms to be sure.

I think if you look carefully at what many of the cabinet offices have been doing (pretty much under the radar as the press doesn't report much of it), we have been thrown a few bones and some of these things WILL make a difference. I'm thinking of environment and health/food issues. I know that Winning Progressive isn't very popular here, but he/she does list some of these smaller achievements sometimes--unfortunately in a cheerleader way that makes it sound almost comical instead of effective.

Each person has to decide whether or not to vote when the field seems useless, but to not do so seems to be total surrender, so I think I will vote, but I have come closer to thinking I would not than ever before.

I am from Washington (born there!) as I may have said before. Seattle, Port Townsend and Whidbey Island, as well as Spokane for a few years. If Washington goes Red State, I would lose all hope, but I'm not sure I would call either Cantwell or Murray truly Progressive. They vote pocketbook like any Senator on anything to do with Boeing or other big employers. But I would certainly vote for both of them!

Anyway, I'd love to meet you next time I'm home.