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May 25, 2008

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It shows that McCain can decisively scrape crap off his shoe when the stench becomes so offensive to everyone around him that it can't be ignored anymore, while Obama has the sense to avoid stepping in the crap in the first place.

Obama says he'll get us out of Iraq. Half measures! McCain will also get us out of Iran!


You know, some day. Obama can't promise that.

Of course, Republicans do not have the gimmick of calling themselves activist instead of lobbyist. I wonder how many activist are on Senator Obama's staff? My guess is that many of them are. They just do not have to register with the government.

superdestroyer: what do you mean by "activist"? People who lobby the federal government on behalf of, oh, the Children's Defense Fund have to register like anyone else. They are covered by the ban on lobbyists. People like me, on the other hand -- people who write letters to Congresspeople, periodically take time to participate in voter registration drives, etc., but who make our livings doing something other than lobbying the federal government, do not.

Is it your contention that people like me raise the same issues as someone like Charlie Black? If not, what is it?

The fun thing for me is the way the Republican party keeps finding itself on the unpopular side of nearly every issue, whether it's honesty in government or the use of military force in other countries or immigration, the economy--you name it, the Republicans are on the wrong side of just about everything right now. That's a noteworthy accomplishment.

That's a noteworthy accomplishment.

Thanks. We worked hard at it…

Hilzoy,

Sarah Sewall was an activist whose main interested was affect U.S. foreign policy. He was actually more powerful than most lobbying and was given a place as a foreign policy advisor. What her expertise outisde of advocating about Darfur, I have no idea? Yet, she is a good example of how Senator Obama parses his statements.

superdestroyer: what, exactly, is wrong with having Sarah Sewall as an advisor?

Look: to my mind, there are two obvious things that might be wrong with having a lobbyist on your campaign. (1) A lobbyist is paid to represent someone else's interests. S/he can therefore be expected -- if s/he's good and conscientious -- to serve those interests, not necessarily yours or the country's. (2) Lobbyists, like everyone else, might have done something awful in the past -- in their case, they might have represented some bad person or interest. (My problem with Charlie Black.)

The problem with having lobbyists on board is not something more general, like "there are Washington insiders on board", or "there are people who advocate something on board." (Unless I'm missing something: would it be better to have people who advocate nothing? Who are completely politically inactive?)

Someone who is not paid to advance the interests of someone other than the campaign or the country is not subject to problem no. 1. Someone who has not done bad stuff is not subject to no. 2.

You say that Sarah Sewall is "more powerful than most lobbying." I have no idea what your evidence for this is; more to the point, I have no idea why, if true, it is supposed to be a problem. If you could explain to me what, exactly, you think is wrong with having her as an advisor, I'd be grateful.

Hilzoy,

Sarah Sewall is a Harvard lecturer, an author, and a media personality who advocates that the U.S. take foreign policy positions that could very well be not in the interest of the U.S. She receives speakers, bookright fees, and consulting fees from people who hold her position.

I thought the concern of lobbyist is that they would try to affect policy? Sara SEwall, before she was fired, was trying to do exactly the same thing and getting while doing it, same as a lobbyist.

I sure is looked at an entire list of Obama insiders you would see personal economic connections and advocacy positions that are counters to his public (what few there are) statements.

I thought the concern of lobbyist is that they would try to affect policy?

If that's your only condition, then every single person who votes is a lobbyist. I'd submit that this is not a particularly useful definition.

BTW:

Sarah Sewall is a Harvard lecturer, an author, and a media personality who advocates that the U.S. take foreign policy positions that could very well be not in the interest of the U.S.

Irrespective of Sarah Sewall's positions, it has been proven by now that the Bush Administration's foreign policy positions -- and indeed, most of the Republican foreign policy positions -- are genuinely not in the interest of the US. I expect your assault on the GOP to begin shortly.

Using superdestoyer logic, I was inevitably led to conclude that Martin Luther King was merely a lobbyist.

Cripes, 40 years of lefty beliefs out the window in one fell swoop.

McCain is trying to get a gold star as Most Improved Candidate. For that it's an advantage to start out with lots of ethical issues.

Charlie Black may have resigned from his firm, but his wife is still a big-time lobbyist and I have little doubt he'll go right back to it as soon as the campaign is over (assuming he doesn't get a job in the White House).

Sarah Sewell has, so far as I can tell from Amazon, published one book, a scholarly book on the International Criminal Court, co-authored with Carl Kayson. Royalties from academic books are low to begin with, and she's splitting the money with her co-author.

She doesn't seem to have a CV on-line, so I don't know where or how often she's given talks. Academic talks generally aren't paid, and when they are, the honorariums are usually small.

Consulting fees I can't speak to. (Though: do you have any evidence that Sewell engages in paid consultancy? To whom?)

All this by way of saying what should have been obvious: her *financial* interest in the position she's advocating is probably negligible.

"I thought the concern of lobbyist is that they would try to affect policy?"

No. If that were the concern, the entire idea of people who advise a campaign would have to go out the window. Candidates would have to dream up their positions entirely on their own, since anyone who advised them, however knowledgeable, would be "trying to affect policy".

Come to think of it, no one could ever run for office, unless they themselves did not plan to "affect policy" once they got there.

That is not the concern. If you can come up with a concern that rules out Sarah Sewall, but leaves open the possibility of anyone ever advising a campaign in any way, let me know.

sd
I thought the concern of lobbyist is that they would try to affect policy?

anarch
If that's your only condition, then every single person who votes is a lobbyist.

sd's point complements his concern that the US is headed for single party rule under the Dems. People influencing policy - oh, the horror!


and let's try and close that tag

"What her expertise outisde of advocating about Darfur, I have no idea?"

Do you perhaps mean Samantha Power, rather than Sarah Sewell? If so, the answer to your question is obvious, and google is your friend. If not, it's hard to make out what you're saying, when you seem to have difficulty even writing a coherent sentence.

Sarah Sewell is a former deputy assistant secretary of Defense. More:

Sarah Sewall is the Director of the Carr Center and Lecturer in Public Policy, she also directs the Carr Center's Program on National Security and Human Rights. During the Clinton Administration, Sewall served in the Department of Defense as the first Deputy Assistant Secretary for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance. From 1987-1993, she served as Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, delegate to the Senate Arms Control Observer Group, and on the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Sewall has also worked at a variety of defense research organizations and as Associate Director of the Committee on International Security Studies at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She wrote the introduction to the University of Chicago edition of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual (2007). She was lead editor of The United States and the International Criminal Court: National Security and International Law (2000) and has written widely on U.S. foreign policy, multilateralism, peace operations, and military intervention. Her current research focuses on the civilian in war and includes facilitating a dialogue between the military and human rights communities on the use of force.
Publications. Click that link to get all the links to these:
Sarah Sewall

Sarah Sewall, interviewed on NPR's " Talk of the Nation", January 10, 2008.

Sarah Sewall, "Just how is this drawdown supposed to work, anyway?" Nieman Watchdog, January 4, 2008

Sarah Sewall, interviewed on the "Charlie Rose Show," December 24, 2007, on counterinsurgency in Iraq.

Sarah Sewall, featured in "Scholars and Military Share a Foxhole, Uneasily," New York Times, December 22, 2007

Sarah Sewall interviewed on NPR's On Point, "The Daily Grind in Iraq," December 5, 2007

Sarah Sewall on contracters in Iraq, WGBH Greater Boston with Emily Rooney, October 3, 2007.

Sarah Sewall on FOX Special: American Commander General David Petraeus, September 27, 2007.

Sarah Sewall on the civil-military divide, ABC Radio, National Australia with Philip Adams, September 19, 2007. Click HERE to listen.

Sarah Sewall, "The Petraeus Report on Iraq," with Prof. Graham T. Allison Jr., Prof. Linda Bilmes, Prof. Joseph S. Nye Jr., General Tad Oelstrom, Ms. Sarah Sewall, The Hon. Clay E. Shaw Jr. September 17, 2007 at the JFK Jr. Forum at the Kennedy School of Government. Click HERE to watch. Click HERE for podcast.

Sarah Sewall, "Crafting a New Counterinsurgency Doctrine," Foreign Service Journal, September 2007.

Sarah Sewall on the COIN Field Manual, KERA, Think with Krys Boyd, August 16, 2007. Click HERE to listen.

Sarah Sewall on the COIN Field Manual, Air American Radio, The Rachel Maddow Show, August 6, 2007 (need to pay to download podcast of show) Click HERE to listen.

Sarah Sewall on the COIN Field Manual, NPR's Weekend Edition, July 21, 2007. Click HERE to listen.

Sarah Sewall , "Introduction to the University of Chicago Press edition. A Radical Field Manual." The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. Ed. United States Army and United States Marine Corps. University of Chicago Press, 2007, xxi-xliii.

Sarah Sewall, "Ethics on the Battlefield," San Francisco Chronicle, July 1, 2007.

Sarah Sewall on the rise of violence in Afghanistan, NPR's Here and Now, June 21, 2007. Click HERE to listen.

Sarah Sewall, "A Heavy Hand in Afghanistan," The Boston Globe, June 15, 2007.

Sarah Sewall, "He Wrote the Book: Can He Follow It?", Washington Post, February 25, 2007.

Sarah Sewall on Friendly Fire, NPR's Talk of the Nation, February 8, 2007. Click HERE to listen.

Sarah Sewall, "Modernizing U.S. Counterinsurgency: Rethinking Risk and Developing a National Strategy," Military Review, Sept/Oct 2006

Sarah Sewall, "Blinded by Haditha," The New York Times, June 13, 2006.

Sarah Sewall Interviewed about Iraq on NPR's Day to Day, June 6, 2006. Click HERE to listen.

Sarah Sewall Quoted in: "As Iraq War Rages, Army Re-Examines Lessons Of Vietnam," By Greg Jaffe, Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2006.

Sarah Sewall, "Defining Success," The Boston Globe, January 22, 2006.

Review by Sarah Sewall, PARAMETERS, US Army War College Quarterly, Spring 2006, Vol. XXXVI, No. 1, "Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power." By David Rothkopf. New York: Public Affairs, 2005.

Sarah Sewall, "What's the Story Behind 30,000 Iraqi Deaths?" The Washington Post, December 18, 2005.

Sarah Sewall , "The Long War," with Commander John Philip Abizaid, Ms. Sarah Sewall at the John F. Kennedy Forum, November 17, 2006. Click HERE to watch. Click HERE for podcast.

Sarah Sewall, "Losing a Fighter for War's Victims," The Boston Globe, April 25, 2005.

Sarah Sewall, "The Contradiction: Stepping Back, Staying Put," The Washington Post, 20 June 2004. (PDF 10KB)

Sarah Sewall, “Assessing the Military Campaign,” with Prof. Graham T. Allison Jr., General Tad Oelstrom, Mr. John Reppert, Mr. John White, April 2, 2003, JFK Jr. Forum at the Kennedy School of Government. Click HERE to watch.

Sarah Sewall, "An Empty Pledge to Civilians?" The New York Times, 21 March 2003. (PDF 84 KB)

Sarah Sewall, "Minimizing Civilian Casualties in Iraq," The Boston Globe, 18 November, 2002.

Sarah Sewall, "Confronting the Warlord Culture," The Boston Globe, 6 June 2002.

Sarah Sewall and Carl Kaysen, "Error by Bush on World Court," The Boston Globe, 13 May 2002.

Sarah Sewall and Carl Kaysen (eds.), The United States and the International Criminal Court: National Security and International Law (Rowman and Littlefield, 2000).

Sarah Sewall, “Genocide in Rwanda: What Could We Have Done?” with Payam Akhavan, Ms. Alison Des Forges, Mr. Philip Gourevitch, Dr. Joseph S. Nye Jr., Mr. Barry Posen, Prof. Cornel Ronald West, October 13, 1998, JFK Jr. Forum at the Kennedy School of Government. Click HERE to watch.

She's one of many people on the team:
Among them: Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism czar from the Clinton and Bush administrations; Jeffrey Bader, the Mandarin-speaking former director for Asian affairs on Clinton's National Security Council and an assistant U.S. trade representative; former Mideast envoys Rob Malley and Dennis Ross, and the recently retired career CIA official and former Clinton-era NSC expert on South Asia, Bruce Riedel. Obama has also recruited a good number of former junior- and midlevel Clinton officials, especially many who served on Clinton's National Security Council. They include: Mona Sutphen, Sandy Berger's former special assistant; ex-Clarke deputy Roger Cressey; former NSC Russia director Mark Brzezinski; Sarah Sewell, a former deputy assistant secretary of Defense, and Philip Gordon, a former Clinton NSC director for Europe. "A lot of us associated with the Clinton presidency had great feelings of loyalty to Bill Clinton, but those didn't extend to Hillary," says Bader. "I'm not a great believer in dynasties." It would seem he's not alone.
She's neither a lobbyist, which has a legal definition, nor an "activist." What's your question, again?

Hilzoy,
I'm afraid I find your 9:51 arguments a bit weak.

1. All advocates have interests that are "not necessarily yours or the country's". Just because they aren't being paid to advocate doesn't make them altruists. And surely not all lobbyists are advocating bad policy. You can argue that lobbyists are worse in general than unpaid advocates, but I don't think you can generalize that to all lobbyists.

2. Just because some lobbyists have a bad history shouldn't tar all of them, and presumably someone could learn from past mistakes. As you point out anyone can have a bad history.

Of course McCain had surrounded himself with lobbyists of questionable character, but Obama's policy of no lobbyists is not a guarantee of avoiding bad advocacy. To defend Obama's position you need to argue that he is more likely to get better advice with his policy.

James Traub, November, 2007, on Obama's foreign policy team at the time. Matt Yglesias comments. More from Stephen Zunes. Most recently, Spencer Ackerman yesterday.

"Sarah Sewall is a Harvard lecturer, an author, and a media personality who advocates that the U.S. take foreign policy positions that could very well be not in the interest of the U.S."

You might begin to make a case for this if you cite some evidence proving this, or at least supporting the claim.

Thanks.

Alternately, I'll try your technique: superdestroyer is a blog commenter who advocates that the U.S. take foreign policy positions that could very well be not in the interest of the U.S.

There: now we have two claims that are equally supported, and logically must be given equal weight.

But I'll raise you: superdestroyer hates America, and seeks to destroy it from within; it's believed by some that superdestroyer is a paid foreign agent of the enemies of America.

Okay, up to you to defend yourself from this "truth," made with all the support you give your own claims. Have fun storming the castle.

JayS: it's not a guarantee, of course. It doesn't rule out everyone who could possibly give bad advice, nor does it rule out only bad people. Personally, I would have no problem with having someone on a campaign who was a registered lobbyist for, oh, efforts to eradicate polio.

In this, it's like conflict of interest policies generally. To pick an example I'm familiar with: universities often prohibit people from doing research on stuff they have a financial stake in, to avoid bias. Of course, financial stakes aren't the only possible source of conflicts of interest -- think of the way someone angling for a cabinet position might skew his or her research. Also, not all people who have such a conflict would skew their research, even unconsciously.

Still, it's a good policy to have, at least as long as you don't think it's a complete solution, as opposed to a good first step.

"Sarah Sewall was an activist whose main interested [sic] was affect [sic] U.S. foreign policy. He [sic] was actually more powerful than most lobbying [sic] and was given a place as a foreign policy advisor. What her expertise outisde [sic] of advocating about Darfur, I have no idea?"

Sewell defends Petraeus.

The very suspiciously left-wing General Petraeus (he's soft on the enemy, and won't just kill them all: why not?) asked Sarah Sewall:

It's 400 pages long and filled with military jargon and acronyms, but more than 2 million people have downloaded the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual since it was posted on the Web a couple of months ago. Sarah Sewall of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government wrote the introduction to the paperback edition of the manual. She tells Scott Simon why it's an important read.
I think we should demand an inquiry into why this clearly leftist so-called "General" is infiltrating such suspicious characters into a place where they have such a strong influence on U.S. military counter-insurgency doctrine. The fish rots from the head down, you know.

And what of this "President" who is so linked to this "general" (has he been investigated for communist ties? I haven't read any articles about this! Why not!?!?!)? There's much we don't know, obviously.

I've heard rumors that even the Republican Presidential nominee, John McCain, has spoken highly of this "General Petraeus": does anyone know anything more about this?

"Yet, she is a good example of how Senator Obama parses his statements."

Someone has an interesting way of parsing something, all right.

Incertus:
...you name it, the Republicans are on the wrong side of just about everything right now. That's a noteworthy accomplishment.

OCSteve:
Thanks. We worked hard at it...

Me:
Even more entertaining, their Congressional leaders seem to understand that they're on the unpopular side of the issues, but view it as just a problem with packaging and advertising. The problem extends, in at least some cases, to the state level as well. One of the more interesting things said (as far as I was concerned) in the Colorado State Senate this last session was by a moderate Republican, to the effect that "...in four years we have lost the governorship, control of both chambers of the statehouse, the majority of the US House seats, and one of two US Senate seats. I am dismayed, then, to hear my fellow Republicans say repeatedly, on this floor, that it's the Democrats who are out of touch with the people of Colorado..."

I left the following comment on the WashMonthly thread, and it was deleted. Let's see if it stays here:

Del Capslock writes: Sure looks to me like Obama's "weakness" is his strength. McCain's experience has allowed him to be corrupted by the Washington machine, whereas Obama brings a fresh and intelligent outlook.

What city is Obama from again? I seem to recall them having some kind of machine there or something, with BHO being linked right into it:

tinyurl.com/4rlhgj

BHO also served foreign interests, and there's a highly questionable McCain staff member that neither the MSM nor mainstream bloggers will discuss. I guess some questionable foreign links are more equally bad than others.

OCSteve: I think the Newsweek article on Axelrod is absolutely right to say: "But the activities of ASK (located in the same office as Axelrod's political firm) illustrate the difficulties in defining exactly who a lobbyist is."

I mean: it seems fairly clear, if the article itself is to be believed, that Axelrod did not, in fact, lobby anyone. (Nor did his firm.) They seem to have run something more like an ad campaign. So if lobbying is the issue, he's in the clear.

On the other hand, if the issue is being paid by special interests, then, well, he is being paid by special interests. Or at least his firm is (or was): it's not clear whether he's on leave, or what.

Personally, I'd be a lot happier if Axelrod went on leave, the way John McCain's campaign manager did. But I can see points on either side: a lobbyist's job is to actually persuade politicians of things, and being a politician's campaign manager obviously makes that job a lot easier; Axelrod's job seems to be persuading the public of things, and it's less clear how much of a leg up his role in the Obama campaign gives him there. On the other hand, in his shoes I would want to avoid any suggestion of conflict of interest.

OCSteve, I read with interest the "Hot Air" assertion that "Lobbyists exist to represent citizens before Congress."

Is that what you believe?

Is there a clause I missed in the Constitution? I had the notion that some other category of folk existed to represent citizens, and they're supposed to be, you know, in Congress.

"Elected," I think, is the term.

I could be wrong.

I'm sorry to see that Ed Morrissey is no longer a captain; I hope it was an honorable discharge.

"BHO"

Nice.

"BHO also served foreign interests"

Sure he did.

"And, the Chicago Tribune and other sources reported that some of the key organizers of the march you attended have links to the Mexican government and Mexican political parties. (I have the citations here if anyone would like to see them.)"

This is a development new to me: a blog that can't provide actual active links. I guess it's too complicated, or something.

But, ooh, "links to the Mexican government." Scary. "Links" is such a flexible word, isn't it? Want to count all the "links" G. W. Bush has to the Mexican government? Or the, say, Saudi Arabian government?

But perhaps consistency is a hobgoblin of my small mind.

But, hey, I think your link, NoMoreBlatherDotCom, speaks for itself. Thanks for it, and let everyone give it all the attention and respect it deserves.

As I understand it, Obama's campaign refuses contributions from FEDERAL lobbyists. Nothing in the quoted article suggests that Axelrod's firm is doing lobbying or anything else with Federal officials or agencies.

"BHO"

Nice.

??? "BHO" has been in use for quite a while by Obama supporters as well as opponents, along with "JRE" and "HRC" and "WJC". Are you suggesting it's somehow a slur? It's better than "BO", which I've seen plenty of people use even when they're Obama supporters.

Gary Farber: I'm sorry that page was too difficult for you to understand, but the bit you quoted is meant as something that regular citizens can ask Obama at one of his appearances, and they're encouraged to print out the page and hand it out to interested parties. Thus, the links are provided in raw format, and in fact that page has 13 footnotes with links to supporting information.

However, if you'd like clickable links about the wider issue of who was involved in those marches, see this.

Also, even though it's a LogicalFallacy to switch from Obama's links to Bush's links, I'm going to guess that Gary Farber was ignorant of things like this. And, this.

NMB.com: Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise.

Just saying.

Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise.

Good thing I preview. Otherwise, I'd be saying the same thing in a much inferior fashion.

"Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise."

That's perhaps the sweetest thing you've ever said about me, Hilzoy. and if you didn't mean it that way, feel free not to tell me. But can I quote you to that effect?

NoMoreBlatherDotCom, best of luck with surviving the deadly Mexican threat; I wish you much success in purging the Republican Party of all the Quislings and traitors.

In fact, if I had cash to spare, I'd be tempted to send you a contribution. Instead, I do urge you to put as much energy as you can into purifying the Republican Party: all best luck and power to you.

Gary: feel free. ;)

NMB.com: I join Gary in wishing you all the best in your struggle against Norwegian Mexicans.

Yes, best of luck to The Lone Wacko "NoMoreBlatherDotCom." (Shorter: "The GOP: If it ain't white, it ain't right.")

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