Saturday, July 27, 2013

What Mattered This Week?

I'll go with what looks to be the beginning of an open fight within the GOP about foreign policy and civil liberties -- we had the House vote on the NSA, and then Christie's smackdown of Rand Paul. There's disagreement among Democrats, too, but I don't think it's reached "open fight" stage yet.

Didn't matter this week? Maybe Obama's economic speech, but even more so the reaction to Obama's economic speech.

25 comments:

  1. I still think developments between the Israelis and Palestinians matter. Also the protests, counter protests and killings in Egypt.

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  2. I think the backlash on the part of Senator Coburn and others against GOP extremism could end up being extremely significant.

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    1. Not the least significant result could be the primarying of GOP senators who don't insist on defunding Obamacare. Which in turn could be the Democrats' best hope for keeping control of the Senate in 2014 and beyond.

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  3. The second and third comments appear to be spam; is there any way to mark or report them?

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    1. At this point, I feel like I should take Diane's comment as an insult.

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  5. Here's something that probably doesn't matter, but I find it fascinating anyway. You all know about the NSA, and most of you know that Le Monde revealed the French were doing much the same sort of thing (despite their outrage over the NSA). Well, it seems that the Luxembourg State Intelligence Service (SREL, for short), with a total staff of about 60, has allegedly been maintaining a file of some 300,000 old-fashioned index cards on the roughly 500,000 folks of Luxembourg. A parliamentary commission has released a 141-page report about it (mostly in French, but unfortunately the excerpts of secretly recorded conversations with the prime minister--recorded by the SREL director using his secret wristwatch recording device--are in L√ętzebuergesch and thus apparently lost to most of mankind). I, for one, have rarely thought about Luxembourg having an intelligence service or what it properly ought to be doing (other than receiving intelligence reports shared among NATO members, I suppose). I wonder if there have been any systematic studies of the role of intelligence agencies in very small states.

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    1. That's really interesting. One thing I've noticed is that a lot of the coverage about domestic surveillance and such constantly portrays the message that "new technology has changed everything" which in some ways is true. But when you look at the most surveillance heavy societies in the past, like East Germany, you see a whole system based on type writers and paper files that a million times more intrusive than what we have to deal with.

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    2. Speaking of new technology and unprecedented practices, I also just read that in 1917 the State Department "under provisions of the wartime censorship laws, had access to all messages carried by the commercial telegraph and cable companies." Despite the reference to wartime laws, this appears to have continued through to 1929, when Secretary Stimson shut the operation down while asserting that gentlemen don't read each other's mail.

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  6. The recent legislation passed in North Carolina will matter to a lot of people. The top two agenda items for all-Republican state governments are restricting voting and shutting down women's health clinics.

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  7. I was pleasantly surprised by how close the NSA vote was. It's an indication that Congress is beginning to catch wind of the increasing public concern for civil liberties.

    On the Christie thing -- Not only was there no "smackdown" (Don't you love it when a lawyer tells you that debates about our constitutionally-protected rights are "esoteric"?) but he just handed a giant gift to Rand Paul. Any time Christie attacks a fellow Republican, while simultaneously praising Obama, he automatically gives credibility to that Republican with the conservative base.

    Even Huckabee, with his history of trading blows with libertarians, can see which way the wind is blowing. On his show tonight, he not only weighed-in on Rand's side, but he had a segment about the militarization of police and the growth of no-knock raids. There was also a brief segment about Egypt, which raised the salient point that Egyptians overwhelmingly don't want US aid.

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    1. I somewhat agree, Couves, if anything, I think the thing that got smacked down was Christie's Presidential aspiration. The backstory of the dispute was how to prosecute the GWOT, which for Christie is seen through the frame of the Jersey families that suffered greatly on 911.

      Makes Christie seem like a pretty good governor. Come to think of it, so did Superstorm Sandy. But if there's one thing we've learned in the past 12 months, its that you can be a GOP nominee as governor of a blue state, but you should probably disavow everything you did there.

      Seems like that's gonna be a difficult sale for Christie.

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    2. CSH, I certainly don't begrudge Christie his Superstorm photo ops. But any politician who thinks that acts of terror require us to compromise our freedoms isn't going to win my respect. And it's not like the voting public actually expects this, as Christie suggests. After the Boston Bombing, Congressman Capuano (Representing Boston) has been one of the most outspoken supporters of Edward Snowden. I don't believe he's experienced any blowback because of this. More recently, every MA Congressman but the young Mr. Kennedy voted against NSA spying.

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    3. Not to belabor the point Couves, but my impression is that Christie is not making so much a civil liberties argument as he is a Jersey argument; that is, the wounds of 911 have not scabbed over, NJ would theoretically be in scope for another attack, and never again.

      Which is, arguably, dutiful for a Jersey governor. Just not sure how that will play out here in all-important flyover country.

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    4. CSH, have you heard Christie's comments? He specifically disparages the concerns of libertarians and Rand Paul. The implication is clearly that we need to give up some freedoms in return for security.

      He wants us to think that any good NJ Governor would say the same. Well, as Representative Capuano would attest, it is possible to represent the citizens of a city struck by terrorism and to not only refrain from attacking libertarians... but to actually be one.

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    5. IMO, it is way too early to write off Christie, though I agree that this speech hurt him (if only because of the praise of Obama). I remember when McCain's campaign was left for dead in 2007 because of his position on immigration, and when it was confidently predicted in 2011 that Romney could never win the 2012 nomination unless he repudiated Romneycare. I can see Christie winning in Iowa against divided opposition (Paul, Cruz, Santorum, Rubio, Ryan, etc.) and then winning New Hampshire. No doubt South Carolina will be difficult for him, but there are lots of hawks in the state, and even if he falters there, it need not be fatal, as Romney showed in 2012. I am not saying I expect him to be the nominee, but a lot of people who don't want to see him nominated (including both Democrats who fear his alleged electability and like to console themselves that he will never be nominated, and conservatives and libertarians who dislike him for other reasons) may be underestimating his prospects.

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    6. @couves and other baystaters, look for Capuano to run for governor. I would have liked him for senator instead of that hack Markey, but governor might be good instead.

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    7. @csh, I think you're right about Christie taking a position that's good for his state, especially about a security issue, which I presume he thinks trumps certain privacy issues. I'm not surprised in many in NJ agree with him.

      Re. how this will play in other states: aren't there a lot of people who are sick of partisanship and would welcome someone who is for good governing first and foremost? That's what Christie could represent.

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    8. ModeratePoli,

      I responded to you with a clarifying question about when racial profiling would make sense.

      It begins "you didn't answer my question."

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    9. @backyard, I ignore most of your posts. Feel free to do the same right back at me.

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    10. I guess any other response to that question would be dangerous for a prog. Still... boring.

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    11. @backyard, you aren't dangerous to anyone. You may pride yourself on coming on these prog pages, but it's a lame attempt to build your ego. You're not here to learn (like I am) and you certainly don't do a good job of convincing.

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    12. You've already written two comments talking about avoiding responding to a simple, pertinent, and clearly worded question. Obviously, you can do what you want, but avoiding answering simple questions while discussing a disagreement is a tip-off.

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  8. Felt President Obama's economic speech(s) got too little attention by the press. He described pretty well the reason for the continuing sluggish economy -- the middle class (the only job creators out there) can't buy anything. The result is that the wealthy are just socking money away, not investing it. They understand, too, that they can't invest in a factory if the middle class has no money to buy the product. Associated Press has done a survey showing that four out of five people now worry a lot about being able to buy the necessities -- food, water, shelter and living space. If this goes on, Detroit may metastasize nationwide. Once people understand what Obama was talking about, the current crop of legislators will never be forgiven, especially not by the new graduates who will never catch up in this economy.

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