February 23, 2010
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald made some pretty salient observations about the label “terrorism” in his Friday column:
Terrorism is simultaneously the single most meaningless and most manipulated word in the American political lexicon. The term now has virtually nothing to do with the act itself and everything to do with the identity of the actor, especially his or her religious identity. It has really come to mean: “a Muslim who fights against or even expresses hostility towards the United States, Israel and their allies.” That’s why all of this confusion and doubt arose yesterday over whether a person who perpetrated a classic act of Terrorism should, in fact, be called a Terrorist: he’s not a Muslim and isn’t acting on behalf of standard Muslim grievances against the U.S. or Israel, and thus does not fit the “definition.”
Greenwald is, of course, referring to Joseph Stack, a man who flew a plane into a Texas IRS building presumably to protest taxation. Although he left a very clear suicide manifesto behind, few have been willing to label Stack a “terrorist.”
As has been observed before, “one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.”
And it certainly seems that Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) sees the other side of the coin. King stopped short of explicitly praising Stack’s actions, but one can detect a certain underlying approval — after all, as King claims, he’s been trying to “abolish” the IRS for some 30 years, establishing a national sales tax and (although you’ll never hear this inevitable consequence from King) sending the bill for America’s wars, roads, police, and fire departments to the middle and lower classes.
At any rate, Greenwald seems to have forgotten something in his definition of terrorism. He neglects to mention how quickly the right wing was to pin the “terrorist” label to Bill Ayers, once they had established even the weakest of linkages to then-candidate Barack Obama.
February 15, 2010
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) announced today that he would not seek reelection — just days before Indiana’s Friday deadline for the 4,500 signatures required for candidacy in the race.
As TPM reports:
R.J. Gerard, communications director for the Indiana Democratic Party confirmed to TPMDC that the state Democratic Party would be able to select a new candidate to run in November’s general election if no one files petitions with 4,500 signatures (500 within each of the state’s nine House districts) to run in the primary.
So the state Democratic Party is going to pick the candidate for November’s general election. Bayh had been leading in the polls against his Republican challenger, Dan Coats, by a healthy 20-point margin, and Bayh’s exit means that will probably be largely forfeit.
It remains to be seen what Democrats across the country have learned from Scott Brown’s unexpected victory in Massachusetts.
February 14, 2010
There may well be a case to be made for the use of military tribunals in cases of terrorism. For some, the interests of national security may trump constitutional guarantees of liberty and due process (I’ve heard it suggested before that “liberty isn’t much use if you’re not alive to enjoy it”). Granting this possibility, I present the case that advocates of this process must make in order to become convincing.
February 12, 2010
This post is going to require a bit of a trip down the old rabbit hole, so bear with me.
Tuesday on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich argued against Mirandizing the Christmas Day Underwear Bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Stewart countered:
STEWART: Didn’t they do the same with Richard Reid, who was the shoe bomber?
GINGRICH: Richard Reid was an American citizen.
Well, that certainly wasn’t true — Reid, who was brought to justice under the Bush administration through the civilian court system, is a citizen of England. Gingrich later corrected himself, via Twitter:
@newtgingrich: On daily show was wrong re: ShoeBomber citizenship, was thinking of Padilla. Treating terrorists like criminals wrong no matter who is Pres.
February 11, 2010
Much has been made of Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) election to the U.S. Senate, since by taking the seat held since time immemorial by Ted Kennedy, Brown has effectively squelched congressional Democrats’ “filibuster-proof” 60-seat majority. This has been interpreted variously as rank ineptitude on the part of Brown’s Democratic opponent, former Massachusetts state Attorney General Martha Coakley, and as a “referendum on health care reform” by voters angry with Democratic inaction since they won their majority two years ago.
Lost in these analyses are the different sets of implications for any Democratic coalition in the Senate. Counterintuitively, 59 may be a more powerful majority that 60, at least from the perspective of Democratic party leadership.
February 7, 2010
I had initially decided not to watch Sarah Palin’s speech to “Tea Party Nation” Saturday night. Unfortunately, being the political rubbernecker that I am, I caved in and eventually watched nearly the entire address.
My first instinct was the correct one — it was a thing to be skipped. Palin deals in warmed-over conservative feel-good cliche, and she had at least 46 minutes worth of those Saturday evening, addressing the attendees of the “Tea Party Nation” in Nashville, who had each paid something like $600 per ticket.
Palin had clearly been prepped, but felt enough in her own element that she seemed to go “off-script” occasionally, often losing track of where she was in a sentence, and escaping by adding a string of dependent clauses which she would use to trail off wistfully before launching into a new statement.
Predictably, she made countless references to Ronald Reagan — which brings me to her first instance of where Palin should have felt a strong sense of cognitive dissonance. Early on in her speech, she lambasted President Barack Obama for the administration’s response to what has come to be known as the Christmas Day Panty Bomber incident. She decried the fact that the would-be bomber, one Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has been granted legal representation. She drew cheers as she repeatedly stated that Abdulmutallab had “lawyered up,” and suggested that he will now not be providing law enforcement with intelligence about where he was trained, who he had worked with, or if any more plans for attacks were in the works.
January 31, 2010
Since finishing my master’s degree in political science, I’ve been engaged in the thankless task of job-hunting. If it goes on much longer, I might turn this thing into an “unemployed journalist” blog, which will track the travails of your humble narrator through his inevitable let-downs and negative response emails.
In the meantime, though, I’ve found a couple golden opportunities (which I will not share here, since I am not about to start making the competition for them any worse than it already is). One, in addition to requiring the standard resume and clips, also assigns homework: critique the politics and features section of a recent edition of the publication.
That is today’s “To-Do” item; it will follow a haircut and run to the store for supplies.