If God talks to you that’s called schizophrenia.
So observed Thomas Szasz, in his interesting if extreme critique of the concept of mental illness.
Nevertheless, some people actually are certifiably nuts. And we’re going to be hearing a lot from them in the next few years. Just wait until Scaife et al start funneling serious money to Philip J. Berg, Esq. et. al. et. seq.
Ralph Stanley is cutting an ad for Obama. Good deal.
It’s s a beautiful morning in Boulder, and later today I’m going to take a bus the 25 miles down the turnpike to Denver and Invesco Field, to hear Barack Obama accept his party’s nomination for president, on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech.
First I’m going to teach a Legislation class that will be focused on the story of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which was enacted in the face of the longest filibuster in American history, and which certainly would never have become law if not for the march on Washington, and King’s speech, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson’s brilliant exploitation of those events, and of course many other things as well.
Any sustained engagement with politics makes almost anyone quite cynical, at least at times, and I’m well aware that Barack Obama is far from a dream candidate for those of a progressive political persuasion, let alone some sort of national savior.
But at this moment I’m feeling neither cynical, nor in the mood to hedge the moment with endless academic caveats about the messy complexity of the world.
It’s a great day for America.
I’m not sure what’s more amusing about this; the notion that Barack Obama is the Antichrist, or the idea that the plots of the Antichrist (and presumably by extension the Apocalypse) can be foiled through the electoral process.
German reporter works out with Obama:
He goes and picks up a pair of 16 kilo weights and starts curling them with his left and right arms, 30 repetitions on each side. Then, amazingly, he picks up the 32 kilo weights! Very slowly he lifts them, first 10 curls with his right, then 10 with his left.
I’m not sure I believe that Barack Obama can curl a 70# dumbbell with each arm. I could do it, ‘cept that I hurt my back moving a TV…
Christian at Defense Tech makes a catch:
Obama flew from Iraq to Amman on an MV-22 Osprey from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Transport squadron 162 — the newest Osprey squadron to deploy to Iraq.
I’m kicking over some rocks as we speak to see if this was by happenstance or by design. Was the Corps strategically placing a potential president in the Osprey to wow him into continued support for the pricey assault support plane?
The MV-22, of course, has a safety record that it would be kind to call “spotty”.
The CENTCOM non-denial-denial came only after a call from the U.S. government:
The statement by an aide to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki calling his remarks in Der Spiegel “misinterpreted and mistranslated” followed a call to the prime minister’s office from U.S. government officials in Iraq.
Maliki had expressed support for a withdrawal plan similar to that of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama in an interview with Der Speigel. U.S. troops should leave Iraq “As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned,” Maliki had said. “U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.”
As for the feeble content of the response, Ben Smith states the obvious:
It’s almost a convention of politics that when a politician says he was misquoted, but doesn’t detail the misquote or offer an alternative, he’s really saying he wishes he hadn’t said what he did, or that he needs to issue a pro-forma denial to please someone.
The Iraqi Prime Minister’s vague denial seems to fall in that category. The fact that it arrived to the American press via CENTCOM, seems to support that. It came, as Mike Allen notes, 18 hours later, and at 1:30 a.m. Eastern, a little late for Sunday papers; his staff also seems, Der Spiegel reports, not to have contested Iraqi reporting of the quote, even in the “government-affiliated” Iraqi press.
Obviously, unless CENTCOM can actually some specific examples of mistranslation or why they’re irrelevant, the follow-up shouldn’t be considered a “retraction” in any sense at all. And that story that still stands should be considered extremely important.
Mr. Trend on Obama’s proposed Latin America policy:
Certainly, it’s tough at this stage to say exactly and concretely what kind of plans or policies he has for Latin America, because he’s not offered much beyond general, open-ended comments. Still, the two clearest models, Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy, the two Democratic presidents that might offer the clearest examples of what foreign policy from a Democratic president could be, are pretty poor examples (I think we can exclude Carter because his policy was based almost strictly on human rights violations in military dictatorships, which simply no longer applies in the Americas). However, drawing on vague, Kennedy-esque notions of an “alliance of the Americas” strikes me as the kind of paternalistic rhetoric common to the mid-20th century. Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress, while beneficial for some countries in various ways, was also extremely patronizing, imperial, and too closely bound to Cold War polarizations to be as effective as Kennedy’s supporters would like to have us believe. And Clinton’s insistence that Latin American countries join in his neoliberal Washington Consensus (which, let us not forget, South American leaders like Menem and Cardoso agreed to do) resulted in the Argentine economic collapse and also caused long-term negative consequences that leftist leaders in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Brazil (among others) are only now overcoming. Far from being some benign program of social and economic improvement, the Alliance for Progress and the Clinton administration’s Washington Consensus were just two in a series of presidential (Democratic and Republican) efforts where the U.S. government presumed it knew what was best for Latin America, regardless of whether the individual countries wanted that help or not.
Nate Silver, 6/25:
If the media believes that Barack Obama is ahead by 5 points, then if a new poll comes out next week showing him ahead by 3, it will not get any attention. But if the media believes that Obama is ahead by 12 points, that same poll would create the perception of McCain momentum, and perhaps trigger a couple of days’ worth of bad press for Obama as whatever had been going on over the past couple of days of the campaign would be taken as the cause for his polling decline. It might lead to harsher treatment of Obama’s decision (flip-flop?) on campaign finance, for instance, or if Iran had been the subject of the week, as evidence that Obama wasn’t resonating with voters on foreign policy.
Matt Stoller, 7/11:
Some Evidence FISA Hurt Obama
Obama has dropped in the latest Newsweek poll. He’s gone from 51-36 over McCain to 44-41. The most striking piece of data though is that 53% of registered voters think that he has changed his position on key policy issues to try to gain political advantage since becoming the nominee.
That is stunning. Over half of the public, though perhaps has not heard of the FISA fight specifically, believes he shifts positions for political advantage. And why shouldn’t they? He did.
I’m sure Matt would like to believe that Obama’s FISA failure is the proximate cause of the Newsweek polling change. It’s unclear to me how he could actually believe that, though; FISA (as he notes) is a high salience issue for a small number of people, and a low salience issue for a much larger number of people, and moreover the initial Newsweek poll was a substantial outlier. Silver, as far as I’m concerned, is entirely correct; the next Newsweek poll was quite likely to show regression to the mean, and pundits (some of whom, like Matt, should know better) would inevitably blame that on either the most temporally proximate event or on a favored issue.
This is not to say that Obama won’t suffer some harm from the FISA decision. I’m not convinced, but it could happen. But to say that he’s already dropped nine points in the polls is absurd.
Professor B provides some useful data about late-term abortions in light of Obama’s dumb (and I guess now clumsily partially retracted) comments about abortion policy. Admittedly, the policy consequences of what Obama is proposing would probably be negligible; as long as the decision rests with individual doctors rather than a panel, the precise definition of a health exemption makes very little difference on the ground. (Pre-Roe, some states with very strict-sounding statutes had relatively easy access to abortion in practice, while other state with broader access on paper had limited access in practice.) Of course, this cuts both ways: because most women don’t choose to get post-viability abortions and most doctors won’t perform them, there’s no “problem” that needs to be solved here by changing the law.
So as Jill, Amanda, and Jan Crawford Greenburg point out, the problem with Obama’s statement isn’t so much a policy issue as that it plays into right-wing frames about the abortion issue. As Greenburg notes:
History shows that those proposals — offered and embraced by legislators who would call themselves “pro-choice” — have been seized by conservatives who oppose abortion. As Dailard wrote, the attacks on the mental health exception have had “significant repercussions beyond that significant issue, seriously reviving a legislative attack on abortion rights that largely has been dormant for two decades.”
Given the unpopularity of the Republican position of banning pre-viability abortions, it’s obviously in their interest to focus on the tiny minority of (already restricted) post-viability abortions, and pretend that women routinely seek them for frivolous reasons. The appropriate Democratic response is to note that the vast majority of abortions are pre-viability and there’s no reason to believe that the ;aw restricting the tiny fraction of post-viability abortions don’t work. The Democrats have to stop playing on Republican turf, and Obama’s comments show that he doesn’t seem to understand that. As with foreign policy but with even less reason, national Democratic politicians seem to think that the Permanent Defensive Crouch is the way to go.
And since this isn’t the only place I’ve seen the conflation, I suppose I should note yet again that 1)bans on “partial birth” abortion apply to some pre-viability abortions, and 2)don’t prevent any abortions at any stage of gestation from being performed, but rather require doctors to perform abortions with methods that aren’t as safe. And hence, not only do such bans have nothing to do with restricting post-viability abortion, they are facially irrational.
Obama wants to expand the role of faith-based organizations in American public life.
Maybe there is a lot of good to be said about this — particularly in poor, religious communities where the church (or mosque or synagogue) is the center of the community.
But after 8 years of Bush policies where investment in faith-based organizations has meant more money for “crisis pregnancy centers” and abstinence only programs, I’m a bit uneasy.
Dodd and Feingold to filibuster the House’s awful FISA bill in the Senate. And Reid is co-sponsoring an amendment stripping the bill of the provisions providing retroactive immunity for corporations who illegally violated the privacy of their customers.
I wish I could disagree with Jonathan Zasloff:
Presumably, [Obama] will vote for Harry Reid’s amendment stripping retroactive telecom immunity from the bill. The Republicans will filibuster it. Then Reid, showing the spinelessness that has distinguished his term as Majority Leader, will pull the amendment. Then Dodd and Feingold will try to stop ending debate.
What does Obama do?
If he votes to filibuster, then he looks foolish because just last week he supported the House bill, with a weak statement that was really beneath him. If he does this, then he’s “flip-flopped in four days.” (Not as agile as McCain, of course, but that never matters according to the Beltway press.). But if Obama votes to end debate, then he plays along with Republicans and further infuriates the base (and by the way all those who believe in accountability). Either way, he does not look good.
I suspect he will vote to end debate. And that will leave a very bad taste in the mouths of many Democrats. One might even call it “bitter.”
I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Obama voted against cloture, using the fact that he nominally opposed the retroactive immunity provisions as a justification. The problem is that unless the vote is decisive, such a vote wouldn’t actually matter. The time for Obama to stop the bill would was to persuade the House leadership to prevent it from coming to a vote.