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July 09, 2008

Comments

As it stands now: I have no intention of donating to his campaign again

John McCain thanks you for your support.

I call horsehockey. What Obama will get from Verizon and Comcast, to name only my immediate neighbors, will more than make up for the mite he's foregoing from me. Where's the competitive disadvantage?

One of the reasons that I voted for Obama in the primary was because I felt like Obama treated voters as well-informed (or at least teachable) adults and did not try to cynically manipulate them the way that Hillary Clinton did.

Now, though, it would seem that the central tenets of Obama's general election strategy is to tack away from the previously seen faith in voters towards a campaign that seems to be much closer to Hillary's campaign in its cynical view of the ignorance of the electorate and its catering to their asinine orthodoxies (i.e. flag pins, I'm-from-Kansas-and-I-have-real-heartland-values, terrorism is bad so anything that's done to thwart must be good even if it shreds the fourth amendment).

Unlike Katherine, I still have a fair amount of faith in Obama and don't feel bad for having donated to him in the primary (though I do think that she's right that donating to issue advocacy groups is a better way to effect change on specific policies). But I am becoming concerned that Obama's campaign rhetoric will box him in if (when) he assumes the presidency and that the Obama from the primaries will transform once in office and engage in the worst sort of triangulating politicking as president that wind up undercutting progressive values.

After today's FISA vote I'm once again lamenting the fact that Feingold never had a chance to run for president...

"That said, I think this realisation is leading to an over-estimation of pro-Americanism."

Since you're not offering a metric of how to measure the over or under estimation, this is purely subjective, and inarguable; thus I won't argue with you about it.

"According to the CIA World Factbook, 26 years is the median age in Iran, so most don't even remember the former regime and all its unpleasantness."

Yes, that's a reason, but I don't know why reasons for things should be somehow dismissed, just because they are, you know, reasons.

"So ask again, just how substantial are Iranians positive sentiments towards the United States?"

Offer a metric, and we can discuss it. Absent that, I don't see much use to arguing how you, or anyone else, feels about a given topic.

"Likewise, Americans surely retained an admiration for Russian culture even at the height of the Cold War"

Um, what? Russian culture, save for the tiny percentage of intellectuals who appreciate Russian literature, and the ballet, was regarded more or less with total contempt by the masses in America, as a rule, during the Cold War, I would say as a simple generalization.

"I suggest that if 'pro-Americanism' is extremely shallow or soft, it does not really exist."

Setting aside, again, that "shallow" and "soft" aren't arguable terms without a metric, I don't really follow the logic of that sentence -- things that are shallow or soft do indeed exist -- but, again, I don't think that massive bombings, etc., are illegitimate things to affect anyone's opinion.

Similar logic would suggest that you think it's equally illegitimate for, say, Americans to regard Russia's Chechen Adventures as negatively affecting their opinion of Russia, or for, say, Iranian nuclear development to affect our opinion, or, say, for September 11th to affect our opinion of the Taliban. I don't follow this logic.

Events have consequences in opinions; this isn't news, and it doesn't mean that prior feelings "don't exist."

But, sure, be as skeptical as you like. You have Our Royal Permission.

Even if you willfully refuse to supply your twin for my scientific experimentation!

Whatever, Gary. Metrics! Isn't it high time already you asserted that you've "read hundreds of books" on the matter of Iranian popular perceptions of America?

Metrics!

I'm done here.

"John McCain thanks you for your support."

This is absurd. For one thing: NOT contributing or even voting for one candidate is actually not the same as voting for his opponent. This always annoyed me after 2000: "A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush"--mathematically? No, it isn't; it's equivalent to staying at home or writing your own name.

For another: I think there's a civic duty to vote but there is no civic duty to donate. Candidates are not entitled to voters' contributions. A decline in contributions from people for whom this was a high priority was utterly predictable; if the campaign is competent, and it has been so far, they decided it wasn't going to do enough harm to be worth worrying about. Fine.

I've got to say, it seems the telcos' $30,000 towards key House & Senate Democrats buys a hell of a lot more access & influence than many times that amount towards a presidential candidate from small donors who care about this (I assume only a small fraction of Obama's donors particularly care about FISA, but even so.)

It's not that I think FISA is actually the most important issue in this election, even--it's not, and it's not the issue I care most about; it's just the best proxy I have for a set of issues that IS particularly important to me, namely all the detainee stuff. A set of issues where I don't actually know Obama's position, because the press doesn't ask about them; they hear "close Guantanamo, end torture" & figure that's that. But McCain promises both those things. It leaves about a dozen key questions unanswered--I had been trusting Obama on those issues largely based on his past record as a con law professor, Illinois state senator, etc. & some of his primary rhetoric. Well: we see how much that's worth as soon as he wins the nomination. If he can't keep an explicit promise on surveillance, if he's suddenly right of Hillary Clinton & Chuck Schumer on the rule of law, what exactly was I doing trusting him on issues where the political risk is higher & he hasn't made explicit campaign promises? Maybe being an idiot, it seems.

Im curious- there's a lot of complaint about the FISA bill, but my understanding (not having looked closely) is that the only objectionable part for liberals is the telco immunity.
First, do the critics think that this is correct?
Second (if that's true)- while I am not at all happy with this, I am much less concerned with condemning the past than fixing the future. Both would be obviously ideal, but politics isn't about the ideal. Id much, much rather have Obama and telco immunity than McCain and no telco immunity.

Of course, that doesn't defend Obama from the obvious flip-flop; his prior statement was unequivocal, and nothing has really changed. If his previous stance on the issue had been a bigger part of my decision to support him, I suppose Id be pretty pissed.

This is absurd. For one thing: NOT contributing or even voting for one candidate is actually not the same as voting for his opponent.

It is a shame I have to state such an obvious fact, but going from donating to one candidate to not donating to that candidate in a two-person race helps the second candidate. Going from voting for one candidate to not voting for that candidate in a two-person race helps the second candidate.

That second candidate being McCain, he really does thank you for your support.

Yes, in national presidential elections, it is common for a candidate to move towards the center once they have gained their party's nomination. If anyone here lacks any knowledge whatsoever of the de facto two party system in the US, I'll be glad to make some more obvious statements regarding why this is true.

"A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush"

The absurdity I remember more from the 2000 election is the assertion from people on the left that there was no substantive difference between Bush and Gore. A wrecked economy, endless war, a million dead for no reason, the nomination of moral midgets to the Supreme Court, a Justice Department hiring on the basis of party loyalty, etc., one would think that by now that particular brand of assertion would be regarded as utter foolishness. One would think.

There has been so much whinging from certain quarters after Senator Clinton lost the nomination battle, and now that Senator Obama is doing what anyone who wasn't hell-bent on losing the election would do. It resembles more than a bit a child's temper tantrum. People need to be adults. A politician from one of two political parties will win the presidential election. It is perfectly clear that there are substantive differences between them and it is perfectly clear which one is better for the country.

Picking up the ball and going home because you don't like the rules of the game hurts you, hurts me, hurts the country, and hurts the world.

Huh. Are you a person, or a random insulting-cliche-generator about how voters should shut up and obey their betters?

Also, the "rules of the game" in the political system include voters predictably becoming less enthusiastic & donating less when candidates break campaign promises about issues important to them, as that is basic rational behavior. It is perfectly clear that Obama is going to get fewer donations from certain quarters as a result of this vote; your whining about it & insulting them & calling them children in blog comments sections could not be less likely to change their minds. If "a better world" requires that he suffer no consequences at all for screwing over his base, you better just double or triple your own donation until you max out. That's just the way politics works.

If "a better world" requires that he suffer no consequences at all for screwing over his base

And so the consequence you would have him suffer for said screwing is the election to president, for four years, of someone vastly more detrimental to your expressed interests and your country.

That sounds reasonable to you? It does not, to me.

"Im curious- there's a lot of complaint about the FISA bill, but my understanding (not having looked closely) is that the only objectionable part for liberals is the telco immunity. First, do the critics think that this is correct?"

No. It's getting the most attention in part because it's gotten attention before, & in part because that's what Obama's broken promise is specifically about, but the rest of the bill isn't good either. I'm a little lazy about explaining this; try the ACLU blog.

"Second (if that's true)- while I am not at all happy with this, I am much less concerned with condemning the past than fixing the future. Both would be obviously ideal, but politics isn't about the ideal. Id much, much rather have Obama and telco immunity than McCain and no telco immunity."

What really f*cks up the future is the precedent of an executive authorizing & committing felonies & not only does no one involved suffers any adverse consequences, civil or criminal--the truth about the abuse of power is never even made public. Telecom immunity is one of the final pieces of the puzzle in guaranteeing this. The others will be: a bunch of pardons by Bush on his way out the door (bet on this), a future administration not prosecuting anyone whom the pardons miss, a future administration failing to publicly disclose the abuses (less certain about these--these are some of the areas where I used to tell myself hopeful things about Obama & where he has lost my trust). Maybe these abuses pause for four or eight years under President Obama (though that's not actually a sure thing), but there is no reason at all to believe a future GOP administration won't repeat them. Everyone understands perfectly well the future consequences of a complete breakdown in accountability for lawbreaking when we're talking about common criminals, but somehow when it's the executive it's not supposed to apply.

now_what and Katherine,

Might I suggest that your disagreement might be rooted in differing assessments as to how likely a McCain win is? When I convince myself that this election will be won on fundamentals and Obama has a very high chance of winning no matter what, Katherine's arguments seem better to me. When I convince myself that the media hate Democrats and the Republicans are sure to find some way to rat-fsck their way to victory (if they could win with W, they can win with a doorknob), I lean toward now_what's position.

Do either of you think you might change your assessment of how important donating to Obama's campaign is if you believed differently regarding the likelihood of an Obama win?

Do either of you think you might change your assessment of how important donating to Obama's campaign is if you believed differently regarding the likelihood of an Obama win?

I don't. First of all, it is still the first quarter of the game and the current polls are meaningless, and second, coattails matter. Having a strong and well supported candidate is important in picking up House and Senate seats, and every one of those matters. Having a presidential candidate that can pull in the last few votes for a borderline Congressional candidate makes an important difference. Finally, every state that is an electoral win contributes to the ability of a new administration to effect change. 50.1% to 49.9% is better than losing, but it's not enough.

"Id much, much rather have Obama and telco immunity than McCain and no telco immunity."

I would too, actually, but it's not as if Obama's election follows from telco immunity. This is the universal justification every time the Democratic party leadership betrays its base. It's often true--not always; preventing a true catastrophe like, say, the Iraq war would have been worth losing a Democratic Congressional majority for a couple years if these were really straight-up trades. But even if it is, it's no justification at all, because in fact it is likely--actually, overwhelmingly more likely--that a given bad vote will *not* swing the election. I don't want McCain to win; anyone actually reading what I write & arguing in good faith ought to be able to recognize him. (What I've said was a waste of time was actively getting emotionally involved in the primary campaign & making a donation.) I'm not going to vote for McCain. I'm going to vote for Obama--though that vote has 0 chance of affecting the outcome of the election because I live in Illinois. I'm probably not going to donate or volunteer for the campaign, and certainly less than I would have--the odds of this swinging the election to McCain are, again, truly miniscule. It is truly, truly assinine the way people (or random-cliche-generators, as the case may be) both:

(1) lecture angry liberals about how of course our opinions don't matter & have no weight & that's just political reality (even though support for liberal policies is consistently about half as strong, or less, in Congress as it is in the polls, & the GOP base gets catered too far more often & gets better results from minorities than we get from majorities)

(2) pretend in all defiance of political reality that a disaffected individual's decision to not donate, donate less, donate to an issue group instead of buying TV time for a candidate, volunteer less, not volunteer, vote third party in a state like Illinois or Massachusetts etc., actually has any non-negligible chance of swinging the election & consigning the country to four years of McCain.

And somehow, voters who rage at the predictable actions of politicians (not caring about people who will vote for them anyway) are naive children. But when voters are equally predictably less supportive of politicians who don't represent them on key issues, well, that is an enraging betrayal.

What really f*cks up the future is the precedent of an executive authorizing & committing felonies & not only does no one involved suffers any adverse consequences, civil or criminal--the truth about the abuse of power is never even made public.

I've been assuming that the telecom lawyers are way to smart to proceed without getting a waiver, so I don't see much potential for civil penalties. Publicizing the truth seems like a big win indeed.

I dunno, I have trouble getting excited at the precedent of the executive committing felonies. I've always figured that the US government did all manner of evil unethical immoral and illegal things all the time, under both D and R administrations. And for the most part, all of that nefarious behavior has been consequence free. Latin American death squads? Indonesia? Iran-Contra?

The US government does not obey laws in many contexts and we as a people are OK with that. We have been for a long time. This doesn't have anything to do with Obama.

a future administration not prosecuting anyone whom the pardons miss, a future administration failing to publicly disclose the abuses

There seems to be a gentleman's agreement between all manner of Presidents to ignore criminal activity committed by previous Presidents. I at least am having trouble thinking of cases vigorously prosecuted people acting on the former President's orders or even going out of their way to publicize criminal activity associated with a previous President. Can you think of any? If our political culture really is built around this notion that new administrations look the other way when it comes to their predecessor's wrongdoings, then I don't think we would have seen prosecutions and publicity from the Obama administration no matter how he voted on FISA. The press would go insane and the risks that a future republican administration might prosecute innocent Obama staffers seems rather high.

there is no reason at all to believe a future GOP administration won't repeat them

I don't get this: guys involved in Iran-Contra or Team B in the 80s had no trouble returning to government service. There is literally no truth you can say about GOP staffers that puts them beyond the pale for future service in a republican administration. And short of imprisoning them for life, there's not much that prosecution can do either.

Turbulence: Notice that at no point is Katherine saying "so I'm off to vote for Nader" or anything like that. She is, so nearly as I know, still planning to vote for him. She's not saying that the candidates are indistinguishable, that McCain is in any sense desirable, or anything of the sort. She's saying that she plans to put donations (and perhaps effort) into independent groups along with voting for Obama.

According to Open Secrets, Obama has, right now, a lead of $6 million or so in cash in hand, plus an advantage of more than a million dollars thanks to not having massive debts.

Those of us expressing an intent to show displeasure at Obama's run of bad decisions, including this one, are getting a contradictory story. Either FISA et al are as trivial as administration toadies say they are, or Obama et al are gravely misleading the public and there's the prospect of a major revolt that could leave him underfunded and defeated. But both can't be true. If the issue is of interest to only a handful of net junkies, then shifts in our allocations of donations won't matter any more than our calls and letters did. If, on the other hand, a whole lot of people get worked up and reallocate enough donations to matter, then it was wrong to dismiss us and our concerns as trivial.

(I wrote my comments without having seen Katherine's last. Duplicitive effort, mostly.)

Everyone understands perfectly well the future consequences of a complete breakdown in accountability for lawbreaking when we're talking about common criminals, but somehow when it's the executive it's not supposed to apply.

I guess I see it differently- I see Bush as a total, complete failure. If his various power-grabs had worked, then exposing them further or stopping them would be critical.
But the Gitmo detainees will apparently now get their day in court. The nation is (at least somewhat) aware of the potential risks in government wiretapping. Jose Padilla was finally undeclared an 'enemy combatant'. etc. There is no area where his overreach has not been undermined.
[To take the 'common lawbreaker' analogy a bit further, it's like prosecuting the corpse of a heroin OD victim- people dont need incentives to not emulate catastrophic failure.]

Sure, there are folks on the GOP side who want to emulate him- but they are in no small part the reason that the GOP is about as popular as hemorrhoids. We won. The fascist impulse has been turned back for the moment.

I think if the next administration spends a lot of time and political capital pursuing those issues, it won't be spending political capital on fixing the budget, fixing energy policy, fixing foreign policy, etc. I agree that there would be considerable value in pursuing that course- and it would be justice- but Im not sure it'd be worth the opportunity cost.

Maybe Im being overly optimistic about this. But give me the choice between Obama getting a good healthcare solution in place and Obama exposing Bush as even more of a criminal jackass than he's already been exposed as, I pick the former.

Either FISA et al are as trivial as administration toadies say they are, or Obama et al are gravely misleading the public and there's the prospect of a major revolt that could leave him underfunded and defeated. But both can't be true.

I'm seriously unclear on why FISA matters so much (with the exception of civil suits getting discovery). I mean, the FISA court has never said no to an administration and throughout the 90s, the prevailing wisdom in the circles I traveled in was that it was a rubber stamp court (going decades without saying no tends to reinforce that impression). And given the history that we're all aware of, the US government has always been engaged in far more serious criminality. And I still haven't gotten someone to explain to me how a President Obama could abuse these powers in practice (although maybe Jes is the only one making that claim).

Again, I'm not claiming that FISA is trivial, just that I haven't seen anyone explain why it is significant. Most of the reasons I've seen (discovery in civil suits excepted) seems to assume that with a different FISA vote, Obama might behave in ways radically different than every single President has for the last 40 years. I find that unlikely, no matter how he might have voted on FISA. But perhaps I'm missing something or perhaps I have my history totally backwards.

As for Obama getting underfunded, I just don't know, and I think you would do well to consider that sort of uncertainty when you try and model these issues. I don't know how likely it is that Obama will win: he has a bunch of advantages, but I've never lost money betting on the American electorate's stupidity in Presidential elections. I honestly don't know if Obama's advantages will be enough to overcome the media handicap: I mean, Bush won outright once and came close enough to winning to have his buddies call it for him. I've watched Democrats lose often enough that I'm more than a little gunshy.

Also, note that even if a small number of people are demotivated by the FISA vote, that might still materially impact Obama's campaign finances. If those folks who are both capable of and interested in making larger donations are disproportionately interested in FISA, it could be a problem for Obama's fund raising efforts. Or not. But I don't see any contradiction in the notion that only a relatively small number of people care about FISA and the notion that such a small number could materially impact Obama's fund raising.

Turbulence--first of all, now_what's position is a series of incoherent insults & cliches & your partial agreement is incredibly offensive. Second: no. Whatever the odds of McCain's victory, the effect of my donating to Obama or not are negligible. My donation would in all likelihood be used to fund a portion of a TV ad that might very well not swing a single popular vote, let alone an an electoral vote, let alone the entire election.

I don't know if you have ever done get out the vote or otherwise worked on a campaign, but it's an inefficient business. I did get out the vote on election day in New Hampshire several times & some canvassing & visibility & so forth as well. Honestly, I'm not sure all of my volunteer efforts swung a single vote, and further out from the election there are days when I'm close to certain they didn't. It could've, mind you--even though no one on my list needed a ride to the polls all day long, maybe one of the little "Vote Today!" orange door hangers I left for someone, or the sign I was holding, did motivate someone. Obviously, campaigns do get out the vote for a reason, and collectively the number of volunteers & small donors & voters matters. But individually, it's generally less than a drop in the bucket--it's a drop of water in Lake Michigan. Obama's recent decisions reflect this: unless he's turned astonishingly stupid in the last few weeks, turning down public funding & this FISA vote indicate a calculation that there is simply no way that angering people like me will seriously threaten his funding or his chances in November.

All this is as far as affecting the election outcome. As far as actually getting policy results on issues I care about--based on experience with both campaigns & non-profit advocacy, contributing the same amount of money toward the salary of a non-profit staffers for an organization like the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, & the Center for Constitutional Rights is almost unquestionably going to be a better use of resources than contributing to a presidential candidate's tv ad buy. And with volunteering, it's if anything clearer: I'm kind of crappy at canvassing & phonebanking, whereas there's issue-related stuff I'm good at.

(Of course, on efficiency grounds, the truly unjustifiable use of political energy is rehashing this same old, tired, argument yet AGAIN, but as long as the Democratic party keeps failing its liberal base we'll keep having it.)

"But the Gitmo detainees will apparently now get their day in court."

Out of curiousity, have you heard of Bagram air base? And do you consider that a future court date, after 8 years of detention without trial, fixes the problem? To say nothing of the deaths, or the continuing effects of torture on prisoners after release? No offense, but I don't think you'd be so blithe about this if you were at all involved with these issues. I'm burnt out, depressed, bitter, & thinking opponents of the detention policies have lost more than they've won--and if you think I'm bad, you should try talking to the people who've been involved in this since 2001 (instead of late 2004) & who've done more than I have, because I'm Pollyanna compared to them.

now_what's position is a series of incoherent insults & cliches & your partial agreement is incredibly offensive.

Clearly now_what's comments had enough substance to merit my attention. Unfortunately, I don't find your namecalling persuasive. I'm sorry to have offended you but I also don't see how I could have.

the effect of my donating to Obama or not are negligible. My donation would in all likelihood be used to fund a portion of a TV ad that might very well not swing a single popular vote, let alone an an electoral vote, let alone the entire election

I can understand that. That's a very reasonable analysis. The only part that confuses me is why you were originally planning on donating or doing GOTV work. I mean, if you had previously concluded that there was some marginal benefit to such actions, then you can't turn around and say that it wouldn't have made any difference. If you think volunteering/donating to the ACLU or HRW is a better use of your time/money, that's a perfectly fine analysis, but I read your comment as suggesting that this calculation changed for you based on Obama's FISA vote and I don't understand how it could.

turning down public funding & this FISA vote indicate a calculation that there is simply no way that angering people like me will seriously threaten his funding or his chances in November.

Huh? Did I miss something? Why is turning down public funding significant?

"To take the 'common lawbreaker' analogy a bit further, it's like prosecuting the corpse of a heroin OD victim- people dont need incentives to not emulate catastrophic failure."

President Bush has bad poll ratings. He will nevertheless serve two terms, ride off into the sunset convinced that history will vindicate him & God was on his side, & have a long, rich, happy retirement clearing brush or whatever his heart desires. He, Cheney, et. al have accomplished many of the legal & policy changes they wanted--far more than the Clinton administration, though Clinton's poll numbers were better towards the end of his term. It is going to be impossible for President Obama to undo the damage in many cases; extremely difficult in many others. There are actually non-metaphorical corpses involved in all this; the President's is not one of them.

And it's not just the President; what has made me burnt out and bitter is NOT the knowledge that he won't be impeached, prosecuted, etc. It's that most likely--there will be one extremely low-level civilian & a handful of extremely low-level soldiers prosecuted for any of this, and no one of any moderate rank. The civil cases are getting thrown out of court. (Anyone read that Arar decision by the Second Circuit? I can't even bring myself to). And what really kills me is, the effort to simply find out the extent of the abuse, which is the only way to get the legal changes & changes public opinion necessary prevent its recurrence, is also very likely to fail.

There is no area where his overreach has not been undermined.
[To take the 'common lawbreaker' analogy a bit further, it's like prosecuting the corpse of a heroin OD victim- people dont need incentives to not emulate catastrophic failure.]

Let me go on record as not agreeing with this. While the administration has faced obstacles, they've been pretty successful at getting their way and avoiding any real consequences. I just don't see any reason why any successor administration would have held them accountable. It seems like people are desperate to believe that our government is self-correcting, that we can make up for previous electoral mistakes, but I just don't see any evidence that our governing institutions are capable of that.

Sure, there are folks on the GOP side who want to emulate him- but they are in no small part the reason that the GOP is about as popular as hemorrhoids. We won. The fascist impulse has been turned back for the moment.

This is terrifyingly optimistic. We've beat back nothing. People are souring on Bush because the war won't end and because the economy sucks and because New Orleans drowned and because the GOP are corrupt and freakish (hello Terry Schiavo). The fascist impulse is strong in this country. We're one good terrorist attack away from millions of people desperately voting for the strong Republican daddy-man who will protect them from the darkies with his steely gaze.

I think the next generation of GOP leaders have learned their lesson: you can get away with anything if you just lie about it, but you have to have enough minimal competence at governing to help people suspend their disbelief. If Bush or Cheney were a little smarter, their approval ratings would be much higher.

I think if the next administration spends a lot of time and political capital pursuing those issues, it won't be spending political capital on fixing the budget, fixing energy policy, fixing foreign policy, etc. I agree that there would be considerable value in pursuing that course- and it would be justice- but Im not sure it'd be worth the opportunity cost.

This I agree with.

"turning down public funding & this FISA vote indicate a calculation that there is simply no way that angering people like me will seriously threaten his funding or his chances in November.

Huh? Did I miss something? Why is turning down public funding significant?"

Yes, you did. Turning down public funding indicates that he thinks he's going to be able to raise dramatically more money than (1) the $84 million in public funds he just declined (2) John McCain.

Turning down public funding indicates that he thinks he's going to be able to raise dramatically more money than (1) the $84 million in public funds he just declined (2) John McCain.

The liberal blogosphere was aflame today with new accusations that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) is trying to win the 2008 presidential election.

"I think if the next administration spends a lot of time and political capital pursuing those issues, it won't be spending political capital on fixing the budget, fixing energy policy, fixing foreign policy, etc. I agree that there would be considerable value in pursuing that course- and it would be justice- but Im not sure it'd be worth the opportunity cost."

I'm not sure why "worth the opportunity cost" is not a concept that gets applied to small donor contributions if it's understood, but leaving that aside...No, this is totally wrong. The solution, as far as prosecution, is very simple: I don't want Barack Obama to go all Inspector Javert on the Bush administration. That's totally inappropriate on the merits as well as politically stupid. What I want him to do is to have his Attorney General appoint a career federal prosecutor with bipartisan credibility & rock-solid integrity, subpoena power, adequate funding, a motivated & qualified staff, drop the files on his desk (there are existing torture cases that the DOJ has collecting dust in a drawer, and it makes sense to start there & expand the investigations as needed), and say: "follow the evidence wherever it leads. No political witch hunts, but one is above the law." If and when Obama is asked about it, he can say: Under his administration, no one is to be prosecuted for political reasons; no one is above the law. He has instructed career prosecutors at the Department of Justice to examine the evidence. It would be inappropriate for him to interfere with or comment on an ongoing investigation. Repeat as often as needed.

Not very hard to figure out, and it doesn't require much political capital--he does not need Congress's okay for this. Dealing with the fallout if we do nothing to hold anyone accountable, & magistrates in Europe start issuing indictments, would be considerably messier.

As far as declassification of the evidence regarding abuses, that's easier still. That's entirely within the executive's power; he doesn't need Congress's or a court's permission. The obstacles are bureaucratic & the fact that it's labor intensive, not political in the partisan sense. To deal with that, it's probably simplest to appoint some sort of 9/11-esque commission (or two--one on detainee issues & one on surveillance; I care much more about the former) to sort through the evidence, interview witnesses & write a compelling report. That report would generate the necessary political capital to actually do the harder parts (passing the needed legislation to prevent future abuses, and figuring out detainee & surveillance policy going forward.).

Compared to getting a health care plan through both houses of Congress, or getting out of Iraq, this is really, really simple stuff--it requires fewer resources, no herding of cats, does not have the potential to leave a country in chaos, and all the controversial parts can & should be delegated. If the will is there, the costs aren't that high. But it probably isn't.

"I can understand that. That's a very reasonable analysis. The only part that confuses me is why you were originally planning on donating or doing GOTV work. I mean, if you had previously concluded that there was some marginal benefit to such actions, then you can't turn around and say that it wouldn't have made any difference."

(1) The probability of affecting the outcome of the election remained as low as ever, but the benefit of electing Obama dropped when I stopped trusting him on these issues. (2) It became glaringly obvious that the my primary donation & involvement was a foolish, emotional impulse that I now regret--false hopes & false promises & getting swept up in the moment after Iowa--rather than anything even resembling a rational analysis. (3) Anyway, whether you actually enjoy being involved or not affects the calculation--if thinking about the Obama campaign depresses you instead of exciting you, then time spent on it becomes a lot more costly.

Not very hard to figure out, and it doesn't require much political capital-

Not a bad plan, that's more or less what Im hoping for- I might put more of an emphasis on revealing the truth & creating future policiy, and less on actual criminal prosecutions (to keep allegations of political payback minimized). Congress should have a role as well (for example, they can subpoena the very records that were to be revealed in the civil suits against the telcos).

No offense, but I don't think you'd be so blithe about this if you were at all involved with these issues.

Ok, I will try not to take offense. I won't, for example, list activities that I do that I think benefit society & claim that you don't care about or deserve to have an opinion about those areas where you're not giving your time but I am. I won't do it because it is as unreasonable- and as understandable- as a parent pleading for special treatment for their child, by virtue of being their parent.
That is, I respect your work. And I understand the impulse. But it's not good.

All of the bad things you mentioned did happen, but going back to rehash on a big stage (eg Obama ending every speech with "impeach Bush!" a la Brad DeLong) wouldn't bring people back to life. I know, you're not advocating anything like that, but that's the sort of urge I think- while entirely justified- would cause more harm.
After all, there is a long list of eg real people going without health insurance, and those people *can* be helped before bad things happen, not just avenged.

President Bush has bad poll ratings. He will nevertheless serve two terms, ride off into the sunset convinced that history will vindicate him & God was on his side...

So do some serial killers. I might lose sleep over torture victims, but Im really not prepared to lose any over Bush's image of himself. I mean, I think he actually knows he's a disaster, but even if he pathologically thinks that he's the secret love-child of TR & Lincoln I couldn't care less.
Wanting to rub his nose in it is a sign of things moving past cost-benefit analysis and into revenge. Which is completely understandable, but not reasonable when there are real costs and real consequences.

"Wanting to rub his nose in it is a sign of things moving past cost-benefit analysis and into revenge"

Actually, it's a sign that I was directly responding to your prior, and truly idiotic, statement, that a desire for accountability for any member of the Bush administration is akin to "prosecuting the corpse of a heroin OD victim". You then proceed to completely ignore the part where I say that I never expected personal accountability for Bush & that I thought the most important thing for preventing future abuses was public disclosure of the past abuses.

(or are you now arguing that prosecuting serial killers is akin to prosecuting heroin OD corpses? it's very confusing arguing with people who don't pay attention to: (a) half of what I wrote (b) the immediately preceding post of theirs I was directly responding to.)

From my point of view, the blue-sky foolish optimistic thing is to believe that we can stop the Republican machine by anything short of a thorough purge with as many impeachments and trials as possible. They've been at this since the 1960s. In the 1970s, they mostly got let off the hook in the name of national reconciliation. So they came back and did worse things in the 1980s, and were left off the hook. So they pushed for more in the 1990s, and were left off the hook, and they stole the election in 2000 (and quite possibly also in 2004 - at a minimum the election cannot be certified as honest), and have us at war while ruining the budget and the capacity of the government to act effectively on any front. And now the sensible people are talking about letting them off the hook again, as though anything but more of the same will happen this time.

I know what will happen: they will settle into the role of opposition and attempt to destroy every last scrap of constructive action Obama or Congress attempts. They will sabotage nomination hearings. They will paralyze negotiations. They will block investigations. They will use every means at their disposal to resist any effort to remove the incompetents and crooks they've promoted to high power. Why do I know this? Because they've done it before! Several times! And they continue to congratulate each other over it!

What's foolish beyond my capacity to express it is the belief they care anything at all for the sort of bluster and stern words they're getting now. They mock all that, and rightly so. The moment it was clear that they would not face impeachment or investigation, they kicked back and kicked the looting up a notch. There simply is no justification for believing that anything short of the full power of the state used against people who are in practical terms traitors to the commonwealth will matter to them at all. 80% public opposition doesn't matter to them, because they still have hteir money and power. Condemnation in words alone doesn't matter to them, either. Cops and courts and prisons matter. Actual loss of power matters. But here we are, the collective wisdom of their opposition once again in favor of letting them get away with it. Again.

I rather expect to be saying in a few years that some of us warned against that kind of outcome, after the Obama agenda lies in ruins and the country's in preventable misery. When you face people who don't care about the consequences to anyone but themselves, you have to actually do things to them to deter them, or to fix the harm they're doing.

I do grant that publication of the truth can work, even without further punishment. But it takes a very strong determination to make the Truth & Reconciliation approach work - you have to be prepared to proceed with trials, convictions, and sentencing, and your targets have to believe that you're prepared. The will to make it work, therefore, is exactly the will that a conventional approach would call for.

Now, though, it would seem that the central tenets of Obama's general election strategy is to tack away from the previously seen faith in voters

It's interesting to me that one of the things that some of his supporters mention as a reason for no longer trusting him as much is his tacking to the right a bit on gun control, which is, to my mind, a move on his part to trust the people more than he used to; at least with respect to firearms.

what exactly was I doing trusting him on issues where the political risk is higher & he hasn't made explicit campaign promises? Maybe being an idiot, it seems.

Don't be so hard on yourself Katherine. All politicians do this. Remember when President Bush promised the EV Christians that he'd support a ban on gay marriage and then no one heard anything about it ever again (thank goodness)? Granted, the President's flip came after he was elected, but it's the same thing really. In the end, who else were/are they going to support?

K says Turning down public funding indicates that he thinks he's going to be able to raise dramatically more money than (1) the $84 million in public funds he just declined (2) John McCain.

To which now_what responds The liberal blogosphere was aflame today with new accusations that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) is trying to win the 2008 presidential election.

I love this line of reasoning. So, changing his stance on what is for some an important issue (his promise to accept public funding) because it's politically expedient is OK. See why lots of people have a hard time trusting the Senator at all? I mean shoot, if Katherine can't trust him, why should I? Who the heck knows what he'll really do once in office? President Bush is derided all the time for his "looked in Putin's eyes" statement, while it seems tons of the Senator's supporters have a huge level of trust in him without having even met the guy, much less "looked him in the eyes".

And another thing. Does it seem odd to anyone else the number of people that the Senator has kicked to the curb? I'm sure it's really about how amped up everyone is about this election and how many video cameras and microphones there are out there, but it's almost like part of the plan is to have someone say something provocative that will appease the base so that the Senator can show his reconciliatory cred by firing them. What will General Clark receive in December as payment for taking a bit of a public whipping in July?

Are you a person, or a random insulting-cliche-generator about how voters should shut up and obey their betters?

Well, s/he sure sounds like most Democrats to me so I'll guess "person" ;)

I love this line of reasoning. So, changing his stance on what is for some an important issue (his promise to accept public funding) because it's politically expedient is OK

You can pick either candidate and come up with whatever number you want of times they have changed their stance. Your argument seems to be along the lines of, "A candidate should stick to his stance, even if that stance gives him no chance of being elected, and then we, his followers, can suffer through another administration of war and death and economic suicide, and know that we are RIGHT"!

In other words, I think its a silly argument. But if you are going to come up with some metric about candidates going back on their words, you are going to have a real problem constructing that metric to favor John McCain.

Trust a politician? That's a stretch. But you can look at their records, and anyone with values comparable to mine is going to decide that a certain candidate beats the other candidate by a long stretch. And complaining that a politician acts like a politician in a system where only a politician can get elected strikes me as.....silly.

From my point of view, the blue-sky foolish optimistic thing is to believe that we can stop the Republican machine by anything short of a thorough purge with as many impeachments and trials as possible.

We're not going to get impeachments. I think it rather unlikely that we'll get trials of any significance. Pretending like impeachments and mass trials are even an option is just silly. One might as well ask for purple dragons delivering toast and jam every morning. I want my dragon to singe the toast with her fire breath.

I don't think you appreciate the fact that many many people in this country agree with the President. Yes, his approval rating sucks, but if you ask people whether Gitmo detainees should get trials, a shockingly large fraction of the population will start screaming about off with their heads. If you ask them whether soldiers should be held accountable for killing detainees, they'll scream for medals. Seriously, the US Army has demonstrated no ability to convict anyone of consequence for Abu Gharib, so why should anyone believe that a more politicized prosecutorial system and judiciary will convict politicians under a legal regime that is far gentler than the UCMJ? This is madness.

They've been at this since the 1960s.

Do you know why they've been able to get away with it? Because lots of people in this country don't share your values and they all think that what the Republicans did was just dandy.

And now the sensible people are talking about letting them off the hook again, as though anything but more of the same will happen this time.

No, sensible people are talking about reality. Last time I checked, the Nixon and Iran-Contra interventions didn't change much of anything. G Gordon Libby and Oliver North are doing very well, thank you very much. Elliot Abrams is running policy. These people can do horrible things because there is a constituency for evil and stupidity and abject fear. More than that, there are real institutional factors that compel all administrations to avoid looking too closely at past misdeeds to say nothing of avoiding prosecutions. You talk as if prosecutions launched by an Obama administration wouldn't have a large political cost. I can already see the media focusing like a laser on this and nothing else. Look how deep in the tank they were when Patrick Fitzgerald went after Libby: prosecutions don't get any more impeccable than that, but if you read the news, it sounded as if great injustice was being done. Of course, why should Obama open this can of worms: why should he risk watching every staffer that ever trusted him get dragged through a legal juggernaut as soon as the Republicans come to power. They did that to Clinton's people with far less provocation, and we've already seen that actual innocence is no barrier to destruction. Its too bad our legal system is full of judges and attorneys who tolerate its blatant abuse. But I suppose most black men have known that for a while.

I know what will happen: they will settle into the role of opposition and attempt to destroy every last scrap of constructive action Obama or Congress attempts. They will sabotage nomination hearings. They will paralyze negotiations. They will block investigations. They will use every means at their disposal to resist any effort to remove the incompetents and crooks they've promoted to high power. Why do I know this? Because they've done it before! Several times! And they continue to congratulate each other over it!

They don't have to block any investigations: the structural incentives are more than strong enough to ensure that no matter what Obama wants, he won't be able to make significant investigations. The best I think we can hope for is a "leak" on a massive scale, something akin to the Pentagon Papers. Something that dribbles out slowly but full of juicy details.

I rather expect to be saying in a few years that some of us warned against that kind of outcome, after the Obama agenda lies in ruins and the country's in preventable misery. When you face people who don't care about the consequences to anyone but themselves, you have to actually do things to them to deter them, or to fix the harm they're doing.

Oh please. Compose yourself. The melodramatic Cassandra martyr pose is amusing when executed by adolescents but lies a bit beneath your dignity. When you're ready to explain how prosecutions and impeachments can proceed without derailing Obama's agenda or ruining the lives of many many people that have put their trust in him, I'll listen to your brave talk about how we're failing to do the right thing. Feasibility matters, and wanting something really really badly does not actually make that something feasible.

Turbulence, it's simple. I think that investigations and trials would disrupt Obama's agenda much less than an unchecked Republican machine. I take as my benchmark here the behavior of Congress in Clinton's second term. They did astounding, revolting things. And now they know they can get away with that and more, what with filibuster fun and all the rest. We know that the Congressional leadership won't honor Democratic efforts to use the same tools - we've seen them do it to Dodd and Feingold, among others - and will let Republicans keep using them. It seems to me weirdly irresponsible to make any guesses about Obama's prospects without some firm plan in hand to change the way Congress operates.

So. Color me curious. How do you think Congressional Democrats and Obama can stop the Republican machine from doing exactly what it's been doing since 1994?

Um, I'm sorry if that sounded hostile. I don't mean it too - I am annoyed (and worse) by the behavior of Democratic leaders, but I don't really think you step into a phone booth and come out as Super Turbulence, consultant to the political stars, or anything like that. If I've missed some really good ideas about controlling Republican disruption of Congress, I'd be really happy to know it.

Turbulence, it's slightly odd, isn't it, that you acknowledge the failure to investigate and prosecute all involved in Nixon's crimes or the Contra-Iran crimes has led to the present-day situation - yet argue that this means there should be a continuing failure to investigate and prosecute all those involved in the crimes of the current Bush administration.

(That said, I agree with Bruce that I don't really think you step into a phone booth and come out as Super Turbulence, consultant to the political stars - though it would be very cool if we were all superheroes, wouldn't it?)

Bloody hell, I'm not 'pro-American' and neither are the majority of European people, so why should the Iranians be. Most people have always had mixed, and since Bush, predominantly negative feelings towards the US. Considering the ubiquity of US power driven by relentless capitalism, mixed feelings is about as much as the US can expect. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's the narcissist desire to be loved by the world that is ridiculously misguided.

Jes, you just know we'd end up with powers like "can turn plants purple" and "has absolute pitch when blindfolded".

novakant: it's the narcissist desire to be loved by the world that is ridiculously misguided

Especially the belief that the world will love Americans better if Americans go on a killing spree...

Bruce: Jes, you just know we'd end up with powers like "can turn plants purple" and "has absolute pitch when blindfolded".

Well, there's a What would your super power be quiz on Blogthings.

(I get the power to manipulate electricity. With my luck, it would probably be at AAA battery level...)

Mind reading here. Watch it be "only reliable against people who rate 90% or better on Focus On The Family's checklist". Or "only when drunk", given my allergy to booze.

I get the power to manipulate electricity.

Shockingly, and somewhat revoltingly: it turns out we have the same power.

There's an AC/DC joke waiting to happen here. I may not be making it, but I'm certainly cheesy enough to allude to it.

I share your (re)voltage!

Oh noes, mine is mind reading. It won't work very well here.

"We're not going to get impeachments. I think it rather unlikely that we'll get trials of any significance. Pretending like impeachments and mass trials are even an option is just silly. One might as well ask for purple dragons delivering toast and jam every morning. I want my dragon to singe the toast with her fire breath."

It was possible ten years ago without purple dragons making toast, and without any comparable provocation or justification to the justification now. The only reason it's not possible now is because the press & the Democratic majority say it's "off the table", with the helpful support of voters like you who. (The GOP's impeachment efforts may have lost it a few Congressional seats, but not a majority, and I think it clearly helped the party's agenda on net by harming Gore & preventing Clinton from getting useful things done. Anyway, at the absolute worst it was very mildly politically harmful, certainly not metaphysically impossible, and your claim to the contrary is just insulting to the intelligence).

On the public financing thing: note that if you read my statement I wasn't even criticizing Obama that much for it above. I was simply making the obvious, and I would think non-controversial assertion that rejecting $84 million in public financing demonstrates that Obama thinks he's going to be able to raise more money than that & more money than McCain. Now_what chose to use this as another battle in the war on straw, though.

In fact, I wasn't crazy about the decision, but it's not so much for goo-goo reasons or because of "flip flopping" (in general I prefer candidates to keep promises, but whether I object to flip flopping depends heavily on whether a candidate is flipping to or away from my position & how much I care about the substance. And McCain doesn't have a leg to stand on objecting after his shenanigans about public funds during the primaries, which unlike Obama's change of position may not even have been legal). It's because I take a fairly dim view of the marginal utility of saturation tv-ad buys, and I have a milder version of the same "meh, do you really need MY money then" reaction to ridiculously rich candidates already outspending their opponents by large margins as I do to being solicited to contribute to giant university endowments. If I thought Obama was going to spend most of the money on a giant voter registration drive or on paying an enthusiastic crew of young organizers I might react differently.

So. Color me curious. How do you think Congressional Democrats and Obama can stop the Republican machine from doing exactly what it's been doing since 1994?

I don't know. But here's the thing: I honestly don't see how criminal convictions and impeachments will help, especially because I think Congress lacks the ability and willingness to impeach anyone and because I think the political costs to convictions is quite high (and time consuming). So yes, I don't think that things which are extraordinarily unlikely to happen are going to be effective, in large part because I don't expect them to happen. If they do happen, the media fluffers will extract a terrible cost politically, and even then, I don't think the Republican juggernaut will be slowed down.

it's slightly odd, isn't it, that you acknowledge the failure to investigate and prosecute all involved in Nixon's crimes or the Contra-Iran crimes has led to the present-day situation - yet argue that this means there should be a continuing failure to investigate and prosecute all those involved in the crimes of the current Bush administration.

The historical record is more mixed than you present. We had trials after Nixon. We had investigations and trials for Iran Contra. And neither really changed the Republicans. Look, unless your trials lead to the execution of many Republicans (an outcome which I'd wholeheartedly support), it won't change the GOP. I would have loved to have seen more trials and investigations for past GOP crimes, but the reality is that those trials and investigations didn't happen for a reason: there are actual structural features of our government that keep either party from pushing too hard. If you want, you can pretend that those structural features and political costs don't exist, i.e. that it is only a matter of will, but I find Green Lanternism to be crummy policy no matter what the arena is.

"Seriously, the US Army has demonstrated no ability to convict anyone of consequence for Abu Gharib, so why should anyone believe that a more politicized prosecutorial system and judiciary will convict politicians under a legal regime that is far gentler than the UCMJ? This is madness."

Since the military didn't successfully prosecute officers for Abu Ghraib, the CIA should continue not to be prosecuted for killing prisoners at Abu Ghraib & elsewhere (a CIA death at Abu Ghraib being one of the DOJ files collecting dust that I've alluded to above)? I've heard a lot of excuses for not prosecuting, but that's a new one.

I'm very familiar with the military investigation of Abu Ghraib--here's a three word explanation for failures of both the military justice system and the civilian justice system to respond to prisoner abuse: CONFLICT OF INTEREST. Or a four word phrase: LACK OF PROSECUTORIAL WILL. The people in charge of the military investigations' ultimate bosses were Donald Rumsfeld & President Bush. The people in charge of the civilian investigations' ultimate bosses were Alberto Gonzales & President Bush. This would no longer be true under an Obama administration. Of course, there are other obstacles to prosecution--destruction of evidence, expiration of statute of limitations, etc.--but we don't actually know what a motivated prosecutor authorized to follow the evidence up the chain of command could do, because we've never had one. Thank you for opposing the efforts to get one though.

The only reason it's not possible now is because the press & the Democratic majority say it's "off the table", with the helpful support of voters like you who.

First off, I don't think it is fair to blame me given that I had zero impact on the impeachment process. You do understand that I'm not a Senator or a Representative, right? I think the discussion would be somewhat more productive if you could refrain from making emotional claims about me that don't really have any basis in fact (I'm responsible for impeachment, I'm highly insulting, etc.).

Nevertheless, you're right about the press. So, given that you lack the ability to make the press fair or sane or even just not-stupid, how do you think we should proceed? The press is the main reason that Republicans can get away with insane impeachments but Democrats can't get away with legitimate impeachments. How exactly do you think Obama should handle the press so as to make impeachment feasible? I mean, if we simply assume that the Press will start behaving fairly, I suppose we should expect that Obama will ask Congress for impeachments on day 1, but I don't see any reason to believe that the Press will change its tune.

Jes, you just know we'd end up with powers like "can turn plants purple" and "has absolute pitch when blindfolded".

Guys, for the record, these would both be awesome superpowers.

Look, unless your trials lead to the execution of many Republicans (an outcome which I'd wholeheartedly support)

That moves us past the posting rules, as there was a long debate about drawing the line on assassination. I realize it is a throwaway line, but it is problematic.

Since the military didn't successfully prosecute officers for Abu Ghraib, the CIA should continue not to be prosecuted for killing prisoners at Abu Ghraib & elsewhere (a CIA death at Abu Ghraib being one of the DOJ files collecting dust that I've alluded to above)? I've heard a lot of excuses for not prosecuting, but that's a new one.

Katherine, please reread the bit you quoted. I never claimed that the CIA should not be prosecuted. I think everyone involved should be prosecuted for the full extent of the law. What I claimed though was that no one had been prosecuted. And while the military does follow the chain of command, it also has the ability to delay and disparage the chain when it wants to. Think of Clinton and gays: the military is a powerful interest group and when senior leaders decide that following the UCMJ is important, they can raise political pressure for doing so.

Normative and descriptive statements are different. If I want to argue with someone who can't distinguish the two, I can always find a Republican.

we don't actually know what a motivated prosecutor authorized to follow the evidence up the chain of command could do, because we've never had one. Thank you for opposing the efforts to get one though.

Can you specifically explain what these "efforts" of mine were? If not, will you apologize for inventing horrible acts and attributing them to me?

That moves us past the posting rules, as there was a long debate about drawing the line on assassination. I realize it is a throwaway line, but it is problematic.

Huh? Executions that directly result from trials and convictions are not assassinations. When the state executes someone after a fair trial, it is not assassinating them.

"First off, I don't think it is fair to blame me given that I had zero impact on the impeachment process."

Sorry, but if you insult people who wanted impeachment by falsely stating that it's equivalent to asking dragons to make toast for them, you're helping to marginalize them & they're going to respond in a hostile way & SAY you're insulting and marginalizing them. Obviously I don't think either of us had any real effect on the outcome.

"The press is the main reason that Republicans can get away with insane impeachments but Democrats can't get away with legitimate impeachments."

This is backwards, or at least half backwards. The press mainly evaluates positions' reasonableness & mainstream-ness not by the merits, or even by the polls* but based on how many people in Washington take that position how loudly. If the Democratic party tried for impeachment, David Broder would surely write some editorials about how divisive it was, but it wouldn't be treated as a fringe position. Democratic spinelessness is as much of a cause as it is an effect of the press giving more favorable coverage to the GOP.

*Impeachment of Bush polled far better a year or two back than impeachment of Clinton ever did; I don't think anyone even polls the question anymore since it's so obviously not happening.

Turbulence: We had trials after Nixon.

Nixon himself was pardoned without a trial. Fred Thompson, who leaked information to Nixon's lawyer, was never tried or even disbarred for this crime.

We had investigations and trials for Iran Contra.

George Bush was allowed to get away with pardoning six people who were deeply implicated in Iran-Contra before they were actually tried and convicted, and therefore before they could give evidence that might have implicated him.

And neither really changed the Republicans.

No wonder. They were allowed to get away with it then: is that a justification for doing even less now?

I don't think the comment violates the letter of the posting rules, since as I recall it was pointed out that advocating capital punishment after a fair trial != advocating assassination--but it treads pretty close, and definitely stomps on the spirit.

Turbulence: talking about what a bad idea prosecution is & how unreasonable it is to ask for it actively makes things harder for those seeking it & saying false things about how the voters won't put up with it & it's impossible is actively harmful to the efforts of the people supporting it. However, I agree that the effect is mild & it's unfair to say that you actually oppose it; you just apparently find it helpful to disparage supporters so they don't get too uppity & critical of Democratic politicians who don't take the reasonable steps you claim to support. Sorry.

Okay, enough of this, and just pretend that the above comment makes grammatical sense since I think the gist is clear enough.

You know, re-reading, calling advocacy of prosecution "madness" is a really funny way of showing support for it. You may normatively claim to support accountability, but descriptively, you are doing your small bit to marginalize people like me & help ensure no accountability. It's harmful, and I don't want to apologize for saying so, though obviously the harm is extremely mild & won't affect the outcome any more than the rest of this discussion.

You know, re-reading, calling advocacy of prosecution "madness" is a really funny way of showing support for it.

Katherine, what I called madness was not advocacy of prosecutions, but the belief that they're feasible in our current political system. The madness comment immediately followed a question: why should we believe the civil justice system will be able to prosecute effectively when the military one didn't even though the military justice system had many advantages. You've expressed your opinion and based on my reading of history, I disagree with you. But beyond that, a large fraction of the population agree with Bush regarding most of these issues: the courts have always been incredibly deferential to security and executive claims, and juries no less so. I just don't see political support for major prosecutions and impeachments and I do see a clear political cost. If you see otherwise, then you'll come to different conclusions.

descriptively, you are doing your small bit to marginalize people like me & help ensure no accountability.

Um, what? How can I help ensure there is no accountability? You're not a District Attorney or a Representative or a Senator, right?

Descriptively, I'm telling you how I see the world. I may be wrong. But if so you should be able to argue that rather than arguing that you have the right to act in an uncivil manner because my description of the facts doesn't comport with yours.

(or are you now arguing that prosecuting serial killers is akin to prosecuting heroin OD corpses?

Analogies are these wonderful things that all us to compare two things; Im sorry that you got confused and thought that I meant these things literally or that the analogy was meant as an perfect comparison. Typically, people will use analogies to illustrate the similarity in *one* aspect of a situation.
Here, I used two *different* analogies to illustrate two *different* aspects of the situation. I know, that's real complex, maybe I should've turned on the seatbelt sign or something.
In my defense, I used those analogies in two separate posts a couple of hours apart, never imaging the consequences of trying to mush them together.
[If you need clarification: I dont care what serial killers think or need for them to understand that they are evil, and using punishment to deter someone from a demonstrably disastrous path may not be useful.]

You then proceed to completely ignore the part where I say that I never expected personal accountability for Bush & that I thought the most important thing for preventing future abuses was public disclosure of the past abuses.... it's very confusing arguing with people who don't pay attention to: (a) half of what I wrote (b) the immediately preceding post of theirs I was directly responding to.)

Jeez, tell me about it. I said that we mostly agree on the truth v consequences issue & appeared to be arguing past each other- did you get that far before blowing a gasket?
Also, your statement about Bush not suffering, not being dead, etc does demonstrate a desire to punish him. A *reasonable* desire. Not one worth paying the price for. Which we agree on, but for some reason you think that this agreement calls for all manner of invective.

Maybe you're tweaked over the discussion following your offensive "Don't take offense" bit- if so, please go there directly rather than going through this nonsense. Or drop it. Manging what I've written to incomprehensibility and then marveling at the incomprehensibility of it all is dull.

I also have the electricity power thing.
Playing the advocatus diaboli:
If the new Dem president would simply order the arrest and summary execution (after a 5 minute trial that just guarantees that there is no case of mistaken indentity) of the main culprits (+Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Falafel) and would then either resign or commit suicide, would that not have the advantage of ridding the world of a few very bad people and be worth the sacrifice*? Since the "conservatives"** always claim that the liberals are fascists that would murder them all if given the choice in any case, why not fulfill that expectation for a change? [hyperbole]Are there no lampposts in town anymore?[/hyperbole].

Seriously: I think the new president should write his last will, obtain a list of the presidential pardons and send all those on it to the Hague*** in a night and fog action (thus getting them out of range before the opposition can react).

*especially, if it fills the hearts of potential future wrongdoers with fear
**as opposed to the literal meaning of the word that has not much to do with the self-proclaimed standard bearers of the GOP
***or to some country with a very bad reputation that would like them extradited to them (Rummy to Iran, Kissinger to Chile etc.)

"though it would be very cool if we were all superheroes, wouldn't it?)"

Wait, some of you don't have super-powers?

I knew we had a villain or two, but this is a shocker.

I have multiple, unrelated, powers, including the power to knock over whatever is in reach.

they hear "close Guantanamo, end torture" & figure that's that. But McCain promises both those things.

He does? He sure doesn't act like he would do either.

====================

If I thought Obama was going to spend most of the money ... on paying an enthusiastic crew of young organizers I might react differently.

It appears to me that afair chunk of the money is going to organizers. This also helps him because of the "coat-tails" effect. TV ads are needed though, because the voters, especially at the national level, need to see and hear the candidate.

mine is mind reading

First read of that was "mime reading", which didn't sound all that useful. But superpowers can be a mimefield, kind of.

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