Sunday, May 26, 2013

The GOP should be closed for repairs? A solution for the crisis within the conservative movement?

At this moment in history conservatism should be riding high.

They have one of their most elegant, articulate, and inspirational proponents sitting in the White House advancing their agenda--yet the conservative movement appears to be imploding.  Part of this is merely appearance as I think that the Democratic Party, politically, holds larger fractures in its coalition than the conservative movement (an intellectual movement which the GOP is only a part of) does.  Yet never the less on the intellectual front the conservative movement is in crisis.

The problem appears to be that the Republican Party is more concerned about scoring political points than adhering to policy ideas and agendas that work.  They feed their base bullet points one week and then feed them intellectually opposite arguments a few weeks later--the base just spit out the latest bullet points and forget whatever it was they claimed they believed a few weeks earlier (that's not to say the base of Democrats don't do the same damn thing... its just their elites are more consistent at the moment).

This leaves the conservative movement without a political party to build support from.  This has left the neoliberal technocrats within the Democratic Party without a "coalition of the willing" able to scrap together enough votes from moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats to effectively pass legislation and keep the Governing process... governing.  A failure of governance is likely to be a major topic of discussion for historians who look back on the late 90's to late 2020's of American decline (yes I'm predicting further declines and erosion).

Here are a few examples I've caught over the past few days of the train wreck brought about by wing nut Rightwingers dominance of the GOP.  It really has more to do with the fact the right-wingers are willing to be intellectually dishonest, that and moderate Republicans have no intellectual backbone and fear publicly standing up to the flat-earth society faction within the GOP.

Bob Dole Scolds GOP: Reagan Wouldn't Make It In Today's Republican Party 
Josh Barro, the Loneliest Republican - Jonathan Chait - The Atlantic 
Josh Barro didn’t leave conservatism. Conservatism left Josh Barro. 
Is There Really a "Conservative Reform" Movement in Policy? | Next New Deal 
The Closing of the Conservative Mind - 

If you've seen other examples please leave links in the comments or tweet them at me (@jimnichols).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Obama’s assault on civil liberties.

A concise list by Steve Rosenfeld:
 1. War on whistleblowers. The seizure of AP phone records is just the latest twist in a deepening war on media whistleblowers. Obama has revived the century-old Espionage Act to prosecute more then double the number of whistleblowers than all prior presidents combined. And he has draped these actions in secrecy. For example, the DOJ told the AP last Friday that it had already taken the phone records with  one line in a letter.
2. War on domestic dissent. The Atlantic’s Wendy Kaminer, writinga powerful piece after Obama’s second inaugural said, “Kelly Clarkson’s musical paean to liberty seemed more sincere.” She  lists five areas where the Obama is worse that Bush on civil liberties. “They include, but are probably not limited to, summary detention and torture; the prosecution of  whistleblowerssurveillance of peaceful protesters; the criminalization of  journalism and peaceful  human-rights activism; and extensive  blacklisting that would have been the envy of Joe McCarthy; and  secrecy about a shadow legal system that makes the president's ‘We the people’ trope seem less inspirational than sarcastic.”
3. Expanded surveillance state. In May 2011, Obama  signed a renewal of several of the Patriot Act’s most controversial segments, including the use of ‘roving wiretaps,’ the government’s expanded access to  business records, and the ‘lone wolf’ provision, which allows surveillance of individuals not affiliated with any known terrorist organization.  And last December, Obama signed five-year extension of the FISA Amendments Act, which was temporarily blocked in federal court but the administration is appealing it.
4. No legal recourse. Obama has claimed power  not merely to detain citizens without judicial review but to execute them if they join America’s enemies abroad, about which  The New York Times said, “It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.” The Bush administration never claimed this right, but last fall  The Washington Post reported the administration was formalizing a process for approving kills or captures and initially the CIA will  not be bound by the new rules.”
5. Expanded military tribunals. Military justice systems do not fall under the U.S. Constitution. In late 2011, Obama  signed a bill codifying theadministration’s stance on military commissions and detention of terror suspects that extended Bush war on terror doctrine.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Morning reads... 5.12.2013

Quote of the day:
To accuse others for one's own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one's education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one's education is complete.      ---Epictetus 
Some items worth looking at today...

Teen births are partly to blame, the report says — echoing other research that has shown this. The U.S. has the highest teenage birth rate of any industrialized country. “Teenage mothers in the U.S. tend to be poorer, less educated, and receive less prenatal care than older mothers. Because of these challenges, babies born to teen mothers are more likely to be low-birthweight and be born prematurely and to die in their first month. They are also more likely to suffer chronic medical conditions, do poorly in school, and give birth during their teen years (continuing the cycle of teen pregnancy),” the report says. “Poverty, racism and stress are likely to be important contributing factors to first-day deaths in the United States and other industrialized countries.”

Most of the language in the immigration package, created by a bipartisan group of eight senators, applies equally to citizens of any foreign nation. It calls for tougher border security and a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants in the United States. It also increases the number of visas for high-skilled workers to at least 110,000 annually from the current 65,000 and eases the way for those already here to seek a permanent resident visa, known as green card. With uncertain support in the Senate and tough opposition in the House, the fate of the bill is far from clear.  But with access to the United States a prize coveted across much of the world, the push for special favors has been intense, according to Congressional and Justice Department records.

 In the first major Pakistani court ruling on the legality of the CIA’s drone campaign in the country, a Peshawar High Court judge said this morning that strikes are ‘criminal offences’. Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan ordered Pakistan’s government to ‘use force if need be’ to end drone attacks in the country’s tribal regions.  He ruled that US drone strikes in Pakistan constitute a ‘war crime’ and are a ‘blatant violation of basic human rights’, killing hundreds of civilians. He ordered the government to ‘forcefully’ convey to the US that it must end drone strikes and called on the UN Security Council to intervene.  The Pakistani government should also gather data on those affected by drone strikes, and offer redress to the victims, Khan added. At present the only data systematically released on drone strikes comes from independent monitoring organisations such as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has been investigating drone strikes and tracking reported casualties since 2011.  The ruling comes two days ahead of national elections marking Pakistan’s first-ever transition from one civilian administration to another. The new government will have to decide between implementing the court’s orders or appealing to the Supreme Court.

[do Republicans]consider attacks on US embassies a sign that an administration’s foreign policy is blowing up in our faces? For instance, if if the US embassy in Athens, Greece, was attacked in 2007,, would that have been an indictment of George W. Bush’s foreign policy? What about if the US embassy in Serbia was burned down early in 2008? If the US embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, were attacked in September 2008? If the US consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, was attacked in 2004? What if thousands of anti-American Iraqis were regularly demonstrating and even shelling the Green Zone in Baghdad where the US embassy is, in 2008? Did all that mean that Bush’s foreign policy, the most recent foreign policy outing of the Republican Party, blew up in our faces...