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June 29, 2006

Historic day in American democracy

Today was a momentous one in the history of American democracy, one that should not pass unnoticed today only to be appreciated in the future.  The entire fabric of George W. Bush’s false theory of unlimited executive wartime power was refuted by the Supreme Court in a 5-3 decision (Roberts excused because he had ruled on it when he was on the lower court; it would have been 5-4).  This ruling firmly establshes that war powers are granted jointly to the president and congress and that, the majority opinion wrote, the president

may not disregard limitations that Congress has, in proper exercise of its own war powers, placed on his powers.

Justice Breyer, in a brief but eloquent statement that goes to the heart of American democracy as constituted by the US Constitution, wrote, 

Where, as here, no emergency prevents consultation with Congress, judicial insistence upon that consultation does not weaken our Nation’s ability to deal with danger. To the contrary, that insistence strengthens the Nation’s ability to determine—through democratic means—how best to do so. The Constitution places its faith in those democratic means. Our Court today simply does the same.

For a great analysis, see Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: The significance of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

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Re: Who died and left you president of the United States

[Submitted to The Oregonian re: Who died and left you president of the United States? on 6/29/2006]

Letter to the Editor -

Pity poor David Reinhard, living in his bubble of Republican talking points with no connection to the fresh air of the world, asserting the New York Times committed treason for their article about datamining of banking records.

Back in 2000, Al Gore identified terrorism as the number one security threat, saying “Whether terrorism is ... inspired by a single fanatic individual, such as Osama bin Laden ... We must ... target terrorist finances, break up support cells, and disrupt training....”

And after 9-11 there were many stories about breaking up terrorist financing,  suspect charities, freezing bank accounts, money laundering, etc.

Bush ignored outgoing administration officials, his own counter-terrorism chief and a CIA briefing “Bin Laden determined to attack US”.  Republicans ignored the evidence against Iraq’s WMD and invented a tie to terrorism.

Six times as many American’s have died or been grievously wounded in Iraq than on 9-11.  Hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted in the sands of Iraq.

Let us not let the tragic deaths of the horrific events of 9-11 continue to be misplaced fodder for Republican political calculation to avoid accountability for their tragic errors.

Shame on you, David Reinhard.

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June 28, 2006

Re: MyDD :: Obama Closes Daou's Triangle On Electoral Strategy

Well, when it gets put like this, it is pretty straightforward.

Link: MyDD :: Obama Closes Daou's Triangle On Electoral Strategy.

Rove loses an election, surveys the situation, and concludes that the GOP left 4 million evangelicals off the table and they need to find and mobilize them. We lose four years later and conclude that, um, we need to talk to evangelicals. In other words, they lose and turn to their base, but we lose and turn to...THEIR base! Am I losing my mind or is this about as absurdly upside-down ass-backwards as possible?

Re: The GOP knows you don't like anchovies - Los Angeles Times

A cautionary tale for 2006...

Link: The GOP knows you don't like anchovies - Los Angeles Times.

The results in the 50th Congressional District did not merely illustrate the potential inadequacy of the Democratic strategy for the November elections; they foreshadowed a much bigger and more startling story line: That even in the face of Republican scandals, sour approval ratings, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and growing public rejection of President Bush's policies in Iraq, the Republican Party still holds the lead in the art and science of obtaining power — and keeping it.

June 20, 2006

Re: Blasting Beinart's 'Fight'

[Emailed to Tom Paine re: Blasting Beinart's 'Fight' on 06/20/2006]

To Tom Paine, re: Blasting Beinart's 'Fight'

There is a tendency on the left to examine a proposition, find an imperfection and throw out the entire proposition as a result.  “Throwing out the baby with the bathwater” is not a very productive strategy for developing strategy.  I certainly disagree with plenty of what Bienart has proposed at times.  But when I look at his thesis of looking back to post-World War II progressivism for inspiration, I find it helpful.

Although there certainly are flaws in the World Bank and IMF, it would be foolish to ignore the values that GATT, the UN, the Marshall Plan, etc. did bring.  We created from whole cloth a strong international economy of democratic societies from countries that were devastated after World War II.  Yes, not all countries in the world benefited as much as Germany, England, France, Japan, etc.  But those did well in the first phase.  The “Asian Tigers” joined in a second phase.

The challenge before us, on the world stage of today, is how to extend that from an international scope of a few dozen nations to a global scope of most nations in order to co-opt the causes of terrorism.

In doing so, let’s benefit from the experiments that worked during that period as well as learn from those that didn’t.  Expecting perfection in all is fruitless.  There can be no such outcome in the real world.

So, how can we sort the wheat from the chaf?  And thus develop new structures are worth looking at for the future.

One way is to look at what worked and what failed and ask what were the principles behind them, then build on the principles (not necessarily the programs as they may not fit the new needs of new times).

While you attacked his propsal based on some well-intentioned but failed programs, there were other well-intentioned programs that were successful.

When I read Beinart, what I took away was:

(1) He recommends a policy founded on the liberal cold-war era twin pillars of (a) promoting democracy and (b) increasing economic opportunity.  Key to developing strategy to implement this is recognizing the importance of not exercising our power to impose on people but instead to work with others while increasing economic security at home and abroad.

For example, “the Marshall Plan's [a program] premise was that the survival of European democracy [a goal] depended on its ability to deliver economic opportunity [a principle].”

This is a good fit to progressives today since the progressive/liberal tradition is founded more on the principles of (a) working together, (b) assuring opportunity for all, rather than increasing it for the privileged, and (c) on the use of persuasion backed up by raw power unless threatened in consequential ways.

(2) That a centerpiece example of this “twin pillars internationalist view” that  is the liberal policy of Containment & Deterrence during the Cold War.

The question for our times is then, what are the equivalent international methods of Containment & Deterrence?

One could imagine different programs than the post WWI ones (Marshall Plan, GATT, UN, WTO, World Bank, IMF, ...) to implement those progressive internationalist principles today.

So, as I see it, the question posed by Beinart today is, “Can using those twin internationalist pillars and the paired concept of Containment and Deterrence provide us with guidelines for developing programs and institutions for the 21st century challenges of globalization and globalized terrorism?”

I think that’s worth looking at.

  - Will

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Re: Blasting Beinart's 'Fight'

[Emailed to Tom Paine re: Blasting Beinart's 'Fight' on 06/20/2006]

To Tom Paine, re: Blasting Beinart's 'Fight'

There is a tendency on the left to examine a proposition, find an imperfection and throw out the entire proposition as a result.  “Throwing out the baby with the bathwater” is not a very productive strategy for developing strategy.  I certainly disagree with plenty of what Bienart has proposed at times.  But when I look at his thesis of looking back to post-World War II progressivism for inspiration, I find it helpful.

Although there certainly are flaws in the World Bank and IMF, it would be foolish to ignore the values that GATT, the UN, the Marshall Plan, etc. did bring.  We created from whole cloth a strong international economy of democratic societies from countries that were devastated after World War II.  Yes, not all countries in the world benefited as much as Germany, England, France, Japan, etc.  But those did well in the first phase.  The “Asian Tigers” joined in a second phase.

The challenge before us, on the world stage of today, is how to extend that from an international scope of a few dozen nations to a global scope of most nations in order to co-opt the causes of terrorism.

In doing so, let’s benefit from the experiments that worked during that period as well as learn from those that didn’t.  Expecting perfection in all is fruitless.  There can be no such outcome in the real world.

So, how can we sort the wheat from the chaf?  And thus develop new structures are worth looking at for the future.

One way is to look at what worked and what failed and ask what were the principles behind them, then build on the principles (not necessarily the programs as they may not fit the new needs of new times).

While you attacked his propsal based on some well-intentioned but failed programs, there were other well-intentioned programs that were successful. 

When I read Beinart, what I took away was:

(1) He recommends a policy founded on the liberal cold-war era twin pillars of (a) promoting democracy and (b) increasing economic opportunity.  Key to developing strategy to implement this is recognizing the importance of not exercising our power to impose on people but instead to work with others while increasing economic security at home and abroad.

For example, “the Marshall Plan's [a program] premise was that the survival of European democracy [a goal] depended on its ability to deliver economic opportunity [a principle].”

This is a good fit to progressives today since the progressive/liberal tradition is founded more on the principles of (a) working together, (b) assuring opportunity for all, rather than increasing it for the privileged, and (c) on the use of persuasion backed up by raw power unless threatened in consequential ways.

(2) That a centerpiece example of this “twin pillars internationalist view” that  is the liberal policy of Containment & Deterrence during the Cold War. 

The question for our times is then, what are the equivalent international methods of Containment & Deterrence?

One could imagine different programs than the post WWI ones (Marshall Plan, GATT, UN, WTO, World Bank, IMF, ...) to implement those progressive internationalist principles today. 

So, as I see it, the question posed by Beinart today is, “Can using those twin internationalist pillars and the paired concept of Containment and Deterrence provide us with guidelines for developing programs and institutions for the 21st century challenges of globalization and globalized terrorism?”

I think that’s worth looking at.

  - Will

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June 16, 2006

Re: Swing Ideas, not Swing Voters

[Posted re: Swing Ideas, not Swing Voters in the new The Democratic Strategist on 6/15/2006]

Agreed! The goal should be building a new progressive era -- it is not simply to get the one or two more percentage points to win the next election, it is to change the thinking of enough Americans that progressives win decisively — by 10 or 15% — producing mandates to move America forward out of this divisive conservative era of declining expectations.

June 14, 2006

Re: Hillary and Kerry bring Me to Tears -- For Very Different Reasons

[Posted on Huffington Post re: Hillary and Kery Bring Me to Tears -- -- For Very Different Reasons  6/14/2006, though it never showed up there[

I think that one of the DC consultants and DLC strategists problems is that they’ve confused Clintonian politics, at least as I view it.  I think part of what made it effective was two strategies: co-option and triangulation.  Co-option is an agenda-setting strategy; triangulation is a governing strategy.  But, unfortunately, Hillary seems to be using triangulation as an agenda-setting strategy ... and it doesn’t go over very well.

“Co-option” is an agenda-setting strategy -- about your vision of where you want to go -- looking at the objections and objectives of the other side and identifying areas where they have a point and asking, “How can I think creatively to achieve my principles while addressing their concerns?”  Welfare was well-intentioned, but flawed.  Examining the objections of the right in light of our principles allowed recognizing the flaws in the then-current system ... and opened the door to new solution that co-opted the objections of the right into a solution of the left.  (Even if that new solution still needs work today.)  So, for instance looking at today’s objections by the right to Social Security however, revealed that to achieve them by changing Social Security it would have undermined the very goals and effectiveness of Social Security.

“Triangulation” is a governing strategy: that is, about the art of the possible -- politics being the art of compromise -- so that you can get the congressional votes you need to pass legislation.  Doing so as an agenda-setting strategy loses you your own side, while building little credibility with the other -- you’re just a Republican-lite -- you’ve compromised before you even started.

June 01, 2006

Oil, Water & Oregon Symposium

[Full version posted on Onward Oregon blog as Oil, Water & Oregon Symposium 6/1/2006]

Although currently on the “back burner”, the water issue I think is particularly important now for Oregon as we look to add 1.5 million Oregonians in the next 20-25 years, about two-thirds in the Willamette Valley.

read the rest at Oil, Water & Oregon Symposium.

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Protect our rights, not our customs

[To my senators and representative]

I'm happily married and expect  to stay that way and marriage doesn't need “protecting” in our constitution. 

Our constitution is about how we constitute our government and ensure our rights against incursion by the government or by people and groups that acquire great power in society and want to impose their views on the rest of us.

It should stay that way.

I strongly oppose the adoption of an amendment to the Constitution that would require discrimination against any specific group of Americans. The so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment” is a betrayal of the American principles of equality and fairness and would enshrine discrimination into our Constitution for the first time.  Please oppose this misguided effort to amend our Constitution.

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