War on Terror

Democrats to Oust Obama?

Left-wing discontent with Obama is probably not as high as moderate, right-wing, or libertarian discontent with the man, but it’s getting there. In fact, some, including Matt Stoller of the Roosevelt Institute, are speculating about possibly taking Obama off the top of the Democratic ticket in 2012.

Not that it will ever happen, but hey, I only read Salon for entertainment anyways:

Democrats may soon have to confront an uncomfortable truth, and ask whether Obama is a suitable choice at the top of the ticket in 2012. They may then have to ask themselves if there’s any way they can push him off the top of the ticket.

That these questions have not yet been asked in any serious way shows how weak the Democratic Party is as a political organization. Yet this political weakness is not inevitable, it can be changed through courage and collective action by a few party insiders smart and principled enough to understand the value of a public debate, and by activists who are courageous enough to face the real legacy of the Obama years.

Obama has ruined the Democratic Party. The 2010 wipeout was an electoral catastrophe so bad you’d have to go back to 1894 to find comparable losses. From 2008 to 2010, according to Gallup, the fastest growing demographic party label was former Democrat. Obama took over the party in 2008 with 36 percent of Americans considering themselves Democrats. Within just two years, that number had dropped to 31 percent, which tied a 22-year low.

Was it all worth it?

As every last soul has surely heard by now, Osama bin Laden is dead.  Finally located and taken out by American special forces, the death of bin Laden marks a significant moment for America.  The occasion was marked by numerous celebrations and expressions of profound relief and satisfaction, coupled with a harsh brushing of the wounds left by 9/11.  Whether it helps Obama’s political fortunes is yet to be seen, but it surely has raised Americans’ spirits.

But one question still remains in the minds of many - were the sacrifices we have made up to this point worth it?  Over the past nine years Americans have had their privacy invaded, their values called into question, and their coffers tapped to fund two wars expensive in both treasure and blood.  We’ve certainly engaged in some ugly practices in our anger over what bin Laden did to us on that fall day in 2001.  Your average citizen may never know the true extent of the things done in the name of fighting terrorism.

It’s clear to me then that we have paid an immense price for this victory, one that is hard to justify in retrospect.  It’s hard to look at the way our lives have profoundly changed and not say that, despite the fact that his life ended at the point of an American rifle, Osama bin Laden will go down as a victor.  His actions have altered the American landscape permanently and have led us to do things that we ought be ashamed of.

The Empire Tries to Strike Back

All y’all dumb motherf****** don’t even know my opinion on sh**.”

If there was ever a defining moment in the 2010 midterm elections, I would have to argue that it occurred when the statement above was made by a black construction worker who had just passed through a gauntlet of “protesters”. The crowd had assembled in lower Manhattan to express their absolute hatred for Muslims, fueled by years of neoconservative propaganda (though it only seems like a few weeks). The unidentified man, wearing a skin cap, immediately assumed to be a Muslim artifact, made the completely appropriate statement, under the circumstances, when the crowd started directing their vitriol toward him.

Clearly, none of the protesters were interested in knowing his opinion but rather projecting it upon him. Yet, he probably made the most sensible and astute comment they had heard since tuning off Fox News before traveling to New York.

Jon Stewart nails the uproar over the Ground Zero Mosque

I was not going to post about this anymore because I’m tired of hearing about it. But last night, Jon Stewart gave a great monologue on the uproar over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque and it needs to be shared.

Like Stewart, I get the reason people are upset about the mosque. But the push back against the mosque has reached a point where it’s not about placing a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, the rhetoric has reached a point where most of the opposition are condemning an entire religion. They are placing the blame for what happened on 9/11 on an entire religion instead of 19 radical Islamists.

Around three minutes in, Stewarts shows video of Eric Bolling, who was appearing on Fox and Friends, laying out the alleged ties that Feisal Abdul Rauf has to various groups, including Hamas and Perdana. Bolling also speculates on whether or not Iran may be funding Park51, formerly the Cordoba House.

Stewart then uses the same logic to connect Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News, to Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal to the Bin Laden family and Wahhabist Muslims, a form of Islam followed by al-Qaeda.

For perspective, Stewart shows a clip of Charlton Heston speaking at the NRA convention in 1999, just after the Columbine tragedy. In case you don’t remember, there was an uproar that wanted the NRA to hold their convention somewhere else.

During his speech to the convention, Heston said:

Tragedy always has been and always will be with us. Somewhere right now evil people are evil things. All of us will do everything meaningful, everything thing we can do to prevent it, but each horrible act can’t become an axe for opportunists to cleave the very Bill of Rights that binds us.

Stewart admits he was part of the uproar, but he also admits that he was wrong:

A Free Market Solution to the War on Terror

On September 11, 2001, our world changed. It seems unreal that it was just nine years ago that Osama bin Laden managed to terrorize an entire nation. We responded militarily, as we tend to do when sucker punched like that. However, I’ve had an idea that’s been bouncing around my head for a little while now, and that is based partially on the idea that Congress can issue letters of marque and reprisal. In the digital age.

Al Queda has money. They have technical savvy. And they’re a pain in the butt.

However, a large amount of their ability to function is because of the internet and secure computer systems. Their money’s in banks, they use the internet to communicate. They’re backwards, but very 21st century at the same time. Every system they use is vulnerable to hacking.

So why not let the hackers have a field day?

Hackers, once considered a plague on computer systems, have been around since before the computer age. They used all kinds of tricks to get around the telephone systems for free. With the coming of the computer age, hackers started poking around in the new technology. Some maliciousness started, just look at viruses, but most hackers are just the curious sort. They might want to hack the Department of Defense computer system, but most to see if they can do it.

Now, let’s let them take that curiosity, and focus it on Al Queda. By issuing a letter of marque, you can hone the hackers’ skills towards crippling Al Queda. They want to hack a bank computer? Sure. However, you can only touch Al Queda money. Of course, once you hack it, it’s yours. They would be digital privateers, raiding the waves of the information superhighway and still fighting terrorism

Review: Christopher Hitchens - Hitch 22

Just as he has released his memoirs, Hitch 22 tells the story of a truly remarkable man of letters, Christopher Hitchens. On June 30, he revealed through a blog at the magazine Vanity Fair’s Web site that he had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

Bodyscanners: The unstoppable force of fear of terror meets the immovable object of child porn.

bodyscanBodyscanners, devices gaining widespread use in airports allowing TSA agents to see what amounts to a virtual strip search, have drawn some serious questions about our privacy over the past few years.

Proponents say they are an important tool to fight terrorism, allowing the detection of potential weapons not caught metal detectors. However, things just got complicated.

We all can agree that child porn is a truly despicable evil — so what happens when TSA agents are looking at naked scans of our children’s bodies? We found out recently as a 12-year old girl was selected for a body scan while she as on vacation with a friends family:

A Baltimore family is raising the issue after their 12-year-old daughter was pulled out of line in Tampa and subjected to what they say was an embarrassing and unhealthy scan. The girl was traveling with an adult friend of the family, not her parents.

The article does not specify who saw the scan, but:

Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said anyone can be selected from the line and given a body scan, even children, as long as they can hold their arms over their heads for five or more seconds.

Koshetz of the Transportation Security Administration said the faces and body parts on the images are blurry and never saved.

“There’s no way to associate that fuzzy black and white image to a particular person,” she said.

Was Reagan A Dove?

From Foreign Policy b/w of The Daily Beast comes some really fascinating thought on Ronald Reagan’s approach to foreign affairs:

Was the Gipper as tough as his fans make him out to be? “Today’s conservatives have conjured a mythic Reagan who never compromised with America’s enemies and never shrank from a fight,” Peter Beinart writes in an excerpt of his new book, The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris, in Foreign Policy magazine. “But the real Reagan did both those things, often. In fact, they were a big part of his success.” Beinart says Reagan was “terrified of war” and he fought suggestions, from both within and outside his own administration, that he bomb or send troops into Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Cuba. Beinart also takes issue with the conservative boast that Reagan “frightened” the Soviet Union into submission. “The problem with this story is that Reagan began abandoning his hard-line anti-Soviet stance in late 1983, 18 months before Gorbachev took power,” Beinart writes.

A critical case in point here would be the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983. It killed 241 American servicemen, the most killed in an assault on American troops since World War II. Reading about the attack’s response is illuminating:

The U.S. Census and the U.S. Constitution

From the Declaration of Independence: “He [the present King of Great Britain] has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their substance.”

The above statement most certainly describes, with great accuracy, any number of agencies of the federal government, the Internal Revenue Service in particular. This year, it could well apply to the U.S. Census Bureau, in its campaign (what else could we call it?) to make sure that all of the people respond to the 2010 Census.

Today, I received in the mail a little postcard, with the following return address:

U.S. Department of Commerce
Economics and Statistics Administration
U.S. Census Bureau
8411 Kelso Drive
Essex, MD 21261-6666

On the front, just above the address, set apart by a rectangular box, was the the following statement: “Your response to the U.S. Census Bureau is required by law.” Oh!!!!! (Shudder!!!) Kennedy: Be afraid… be very afraid! You haven’t yet responded to the 2010 Census. They are going to get you!

On the back of the postcard is contained the following letter, dated March 22 (that’s yesterday… amazing, isn’t it, how quickly the U.S. Post Office delivers mail from the Washington, D.C. area when it is coming from the Census Bureau).

Dear Resident:

A few days ago, you should have received a request to participate in the 2010 Census. It was sent to your address as part of our effort to conduct the most accurate census possible.

It is important that you respond. If you have already provided your census information, please accept our sincere thanks. There is no need to provide your answers again. If you have not responded, please provide your information as soon as possible.

Podcast: UL Talks With Angela Keaton of AntiWar.com About The War In Iraq

In a special podcast, Jason and Brett discuss the Iraq war and the anti-war movement with Angela Keaton, well-known anti-war activist and Development Director at AntiWar.com.

As the seventh anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaches on March 20th, we here at United Liberty would like to encourage you to participate in some form of peaceful protest. writing about it either in a note on Facebook, on a blog or letter to the editor of your local paper, participating in a demonstration or simply donating to AntiWar.com or another anti-war organization.

While engaging in protest, please keep this in mind: The disagreements on foreign policy should be directed at policymakers, such as the president and Congress. Please be respectful to our men and women in uniform. They deserve no less.

Dissent against policies and actions of our government is a right. Use it.

You can download the podcast here. The always lovely Aimee Allen graces us with “Silence is Violence” in the music that opens the interview.

You can subscribe to the RSS of JUST our podcasts here, or you can find our podcasts on iTunes here.

Within the podcast, Ms. Keaton references a list of links which have been included below:

 


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