Kevin Drum on Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich

Kevin Drum advises those who want a noninterventionist, pro–civil liberties candidate to ditch Ron Paul and look elsewhere. I grew curious about what Drum had to say about the two least interventionist, most pro–civil liberties Democrats who ran for president in 2008.

Here’s Drum on Mike Gravel:

About halfway through last night’s debate I suddenly noticed that Mike Gravel was missing. What happened?

Democratic Presidential candidate Mike Gravel was forced to withdraw from the Oct. 30 Drexel debate after being unable to meet the required criteria for polling and fundraising. The criteria to participate are set by NBC news and include sufficient and polling requirements, as well as an actively documented campaign.

“There was no record that Gravel made more than five separate appearances in New Hampshire [and] Iowa, where the first caucuses will be held,” NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd said. Gravel’s campaign committee claims that he has made more appearances, but that his schedules were not released.

Thank God. I know lots of people support Gravel’s appearance in the debates based on some inchoate belief that “he deserves to be heard,” but not me. He’s not seriously running and he never has been, and the point of the debates is to give the public a look at actual candidates, not to give equal time to any crank who has a burning desire to mouth off to a national audience. That’s what blogs are for.

Good riddance, Mike. The court jester routine got stale a long time ago.

Emphasis mine. There’s plenty more of that in Drum’s archives. Drum mostly just ignored Kucinich, as far as I can tell, though he did say four months before the Iowa caucuses that Kucinich, Gravel, and the slightly antiwar, marginally pro–civil liberties Chris Dodd should “put their egos back into cold storage and stop wasting our time.”

It’s almost as if Kevin Drum considers noninterventionism and civil libertarianism themselves cranky.

Deep Thoughts From The Guardian

Screen grab taken on Dec. 30, 2011

Will the Republicans ban sex in 2010 [sic]? Why did those “government-hating,” “market-worshipping” Republicans “sacrifice all the workers and retirees”? Why mustn’t we despise our corrupt, corporatist governments? Read The Guardian and find out!

Well, OK, just read one article from that august publication: Glenn Greenwald’s analysis of the Republicans’ greatest difficulty in campaigning against Obama. Much of it is off-topic for this site, but here’s a relevant snippet:

It is in the realm of foreign policy, terrorism and civil liberties where Republicans encounter an insurmountable roadblock. A staple of GOP politics has long been to accuse Democratic presidents of coddling America’s enemies (both real and imagined), being afraid to use violence, and subordinating US security to international bodies and leftwing conceptions of civil liberties.

But how can a GOP candidate invoke this time-tested caricature when Obama has embraced the vast bulk of George Bush’s terrorism policies; waged a war against government whistleblowers as part of a campaign of obsessive secrecy; led efforts to overturn a global ban on cluster bombs; extinguished the lives not only of accused terrorists but of huge numbers of innocent civilians with cluster bombs and drones in Muslim countries; engineered a covert war against Iran; tried to extend the Iraq war; ignored Congress and the constitution to prosecute an unauthorised war in Libya; adopted the defining Bush/Cheney policy of indefinite detention without trial for accused terrorists; and even claimed and exercised the power to assassinate US citizens far from any battlefield and without due process?

Reflecting this difficulty for the GOP field is the fact that former Bush officials, including Dick Cheney, have taken to lavishing Obama with public praise for continuing his predecessor’s once-controversial terrorism polices. In the last GOP foreign policy debate, the leading candidates found themselves issuing recommendations on the most contentious foreign policy question (Iran) that perfectly tracked what Obama is already doing, while issuing ringing endorsements of the president when asked about one of his most controversial civil liberties assaults (the due-process-free assassination of the American-Yemeni cleric Anwar Awlaki). Indeed, when it comes to the foreign policy and civil liberties values Democrats spent the Bush years claiming to defend, the only candidate in either party now touting them is the libertarian Ron Paul, who vehemently condemns Obama’s policies of drone killings without oversight, covert wars, whistleblower persecutions, and civil liberties assaults in the name of terrorism.

Newt Gingrich and Dave Weigel Will Bomb Knowledge Back to the Stone Age

SEE UPDATE BELOW.

Dave Weigel is a history buff:

[Newt Gingrich’s] last full-on grapple with Romney came when the former governor attacked him, in a sort of more-in-sorrow-than-anger way, for saying that the Palestinians were an “invented people.” That, said Romney, was complicating things for Israelis.

“The Israelis are getting rocketed every day,” snorted Gingrich. “We’re not making life more difficult. The Obama administration is making life more difficult.” Plus, he was right on the facts. “Palestinian did not become a common term until after 1977.” That’s the sort of knowledge-bomb that Republicans dream of dropping on Obama—they feel like this is right, but here’s a candidate who can say so.

I suppose we could argue over the definition of “common term.” I did a very fast, very lazy search for “Palestinian” on EBSCOhost. Five seconds’ work turned up references to Palestinians — in the Oxford English Dictionary sense of “an Arab born or living in the area of the former mandated territory of Palestine; a descendant of such an Arab” — going back to 1922.

Winning the future by annihilating the past.
That earliest reference was in The Nation, which used the term fairly often in the Twenties. But maybe The Nation lacks the common touch. What about Time magazine? Is that common enough for Newt and Dave? The magazine recommended by four out of five dentists began using “Palestinian” in the relevant sense in 1951. For a while, Time used it only before “Arab,” if that makes any difference, but as early as November 1957 the Arab part seemed to be understood:

At one time Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser commended himself to the world as a strongman of reason, more concerned to put his impoverished country on its feet than to stir trouble in the Middle East. But Nasser has increasingly resorted to the incendiary propaganda of the totalitarian dictator, has persistently used his radio Voice of the Arabs to incite the Palestinian refugees in Jordan, who brood in bitter idleness over their lost lands across the border in Israel.

By November 1960, Time considered “Palestinian” a noun:

Last week Pakistan’s Moslem President Mohammed Ayub Khan arrived in Cairo and throwing away a diplomatically phrased set speech, delivered the sharpest criticisms of Moslems by a Moslem heard in many a year.

Ayub spoke plainly on his view of the long-festering problem of refugees along the Israeli border, where more than a million Palestinians—those who fled or were ejected by Israel, and the children born to them since—still inhabit squalid detention camps in Jordan, Syria and the Gaza Strip.

In fairness, I have yet to discover the first use of “Palestinian” in Highlights or the works of Michael Bay, so you can keep believing Newt Gingrich if you like.

Weigel link via Daniel Larison.

UPDATE: Dave Weigel, to his credit, has revised the article in question.

Second Chance to Prevent Indefinite Detention of Americans

Reposted with permission from Campaign for Liberty’s Michael Ostrolenk:

A vote could occur today on two amendments introduced to prevent the indefinite detention of American citizens as currently written into the National Defense Authorization Act, S. 1867.

Senate Amendment (SA) 1126 would “clarify” Section 1031 to explicitly state within the section that the authority of the military to detain persons without trial until the end of hostilities does not apply to American citizens.

SA 1125 would limit the mandatory detention provision in Section 1032 to persons captured abroad, not in America.

While there are certainly still problems with the indefinite detention of any persons without trial in a seemingly endless “war on terror,” both of these amendments will remove the worst offending provisions against American citizens and prevent turning America into a battlefield.

Contact your senators ASAP at 202-224-3121 to demand they support SA 1125 & 1126 to the National Defense Authorization Act, S. 1867 to prevent the indefinite detention of American citizens.

Below is a list of senators C4L has identified as targets for these amendments, if you live in their state, definitely make sure you contact them immediately!

Corker (TN) 202-224-3344
Murkowski (AK) 202-224-6665
Johnson (WI) 202-224-5323
Heller (NV) 202-224-6244
Snowe (ME) 202-224-5344
Toomey (PA) 202-224-4254
Lugar (IN) 202-224-4814
Rubio (FL) 202-224-3041

Gallows Humor

My neck will grasp as the rope descends
How much the ass weighs in the end.
~Francois Villon

Paul Krugman got a lot of applause from progressives last week for blasting the politicians and pundits who “cash[ed] in on the horror” of 9/11. A few days later, as if to prove that even Donald Rumsfeld makes good decisions occasionally (albeit for bad reasons), Krugman twisted Rep. Ron Paul’s answer to a why-are-libertarians-so-awful question at the tea party debate.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Representative Ron Paul what we should do if a 30-year-old man who chose not to purchase health insurance suddenly found himself in need of six months of intensive care. Mr. Paul replied, “That’s what freedom is all about — taking your own risks.” Mr. Blitzer pressed him again, asking whether “society should just let him die.”

And the crowd erupted with cheers and shouts of “Yeah!”

The incident highlighted something that I don’t think most political commentators have fully absorbed: at this point, American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions.

Perhaps. Someone definitely needs to visit a moral ophthalmologist, anyway. Erik Wemple of The Washington Post remarked, “The distortion of which Krugman is guilty on this front summons parallels to Hannity and Limbaugh.” Ouch.

Welcome to the club
Welcome to the club
(Read Jeremy Hammond for more on Krugman’s breezy dishonesty. Hat tip to Matt Welch.)

While we’re on the subjects of death and debt and Ron Paul and Paul Krugman, I ask you to consider the non-hypothetical case of a terminal glutton and spendthrift:

Our government is utterly broke. There are signs everywhere one looks. Social Security can no longer afford to send us our annual benefit statements. The House can no longer afford its congressional pages. The Pentagon can no longer afford the pension and health care benefits of retired service members. NASA is no longer planning a manned mission to Mars.

We’re broke for a reason. We’ve spent six decades accumulating a huge official debt (U.S. Treasury bills and bonds) and vastly larger unofficial debts to pay for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits to today’s and tomorrow’s 100 million-plus retirees.

The government’s total indebtedness — its fiscal gap — now stands at $211 trillion, by my arithmetic. The fiscal gap is the difference, measured in present value, between all projected future spending obligations — including our huge defense expenditures and massive entitlement programs, as well as making interest and principal payments on the official debt — and all projected future taxes.

The data underlying this figure come straight from the horse’s mouth — the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO’s June 22 Alternative Fiscal Scenario presents nothing less than a Greek tragedy. It’s actually worse than the Greek tragedy now playing in Athens. Our fiscal gap is 14 times our GDP. Greece’s fiscal gap is 12 times its GDP, according to Professor Bernd Raffelhüschen of the University of Freiburg.

In other words, the U.S. is in worse long-term fiscal shape than Greece. The financial sharks are circling Greece because Greece is small and defenseless, but they’ll soon be swimming our way.

I say sharks gotta eat, same as worms, but I’m waaaaay further out than The New York Times editorial page can even imagine. Back in the realm of red and blue, wacko wingding extremist Ron Paul calls for reducing the national debt, preferably by scrapping the most harmful, counterproductive government spending (hint: it’s not on Grandma’s prescriptions). Sober, wise, compassionate Nobel laureate Paul Krugman and other serious liberals have a different moral vision.

But whatevs. In the long run, we are all dead.

Join Ralph Nader and Lawrence Wilkerson on US Government Reactions to 9/11

On Monday, September 12, 2011 at 12:30pm at Busboys & Poets, 2021 14th St NW; (14th and V St NW), Washington, D.C. Free and open to the public.

Ralph Nader and Busboys & Poets will host a thought-provoking roundtable discussion on Monday, September 12, 2011. Looking at the tenth anniversary of 9/11 in a forthright way that promotes forward thinking.

Roundtable participants will include:

Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Mike German, policy counsel on National Security, Immigration and Privacy at the ACLU and former FBI agent.

Bruce Fein, adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise Institute and former executive editor of World Intelligence Review.

Ralph Nader, consumer advocate and people’s lawyer.

(HT: Matthew Zawisky)