These are stupid comparisons, at least often. Godwin’s Law states that eventually a comparison to Hitler will be made in an internet argument. In politics, there should be similar rules for the eventual comparisons to Richard Nixon or to Joe McCarthy, two ugly and heinous political ancestors of today’s Republicans. Sure, if Bush had decided, as he did, to spy on American citizens, that might warrant a Nixon comparison. But the Godwin rule makes no distinction whether the comparison is merited.
For the sake of clarity, let’s call the law similar to Godwin’s Law, but as applied to comparisons to Nixon, “Milhous’s Law.” that seems cool, doesn’t it? And, of course, there has been a violation of Milhous’s law today. It is by a staffer of the John McCain campaign for President, comparing Barack Obama to Richard Nixon. A bunch of doofusses! Here it is from Politico:
A close John McCain ally charged on Thursday that Barack Obama had followed Richard Nixon?s 1972 path to victory ? drowning his opponent with cash ? and asserted Obama was never held to account for breaking a promise to participate in a system that would have limited his campaign?s historic spending.
?If the roles were reversed and it was the Republican Party nominee who had decided to walk away from the system and spend hundreds of millions of dollars more than the Democratic nominee ? having a very direct effect on the election ? I do not think it would have been taken with as much equanimity by the press and the powers that be as has been the case this year,? said Trevor Potter, a McCain confidant who served as the top lawyer to the Republican presidential candidate?s campaign.
?It was, after all, Richard Nixon doing exactly that ? raising an untold amount of money and blowing George McGovern out of the water ? that created the public funding system in the first place,? Potter added during a panel discussion of the 2008 presidential campaign.
But Obama?s campaign lawyer Bob Bauer, also on the panel, balked at the Nixon comparison, calling Potter?s analysis ?a vast vineyard? of sour grapes.
?I don?t normally think of Richard Nixon when I think of Barack Obama. I don?t normally think of George McGovern when I think of John McCain,? Bauer said, asserting Obama?s enormous financial advantage over McCain was not determinative.
It is nice to see the Obama guy stick to sane comparisons. We’ve come to expect that, though. The Obama campaign is steady and sane, after all. But the McCain campaign was not. Even with the month passed since their loss they are screaming idiotic accusations. No, we are not surprised.
Perhaps they will listen to a Nixon employee, Henry Kissenger? I’m guessing they won’t, but Kissinger is praising the Obama nominations in foreign affairs. From the Washington Post:
President-elect Barack Obama has appointed an extraordinary team for national security policy. On its face, it violates certain maxims of conventional wisdom: that appointing to the Cabinet individuals with an autonomous constituency, and who therefore are difficult to fire, circumscribes presidential control; that appointing as national security adviser, secretary of state and secretary of defense individuals with established policy views may absorb the president’s energies in settling disputes among strong-willed advisers.
It took courage for the president-elect to choose this constellation and no little inner assurance — both qualities essential for dealing with the challenge of distilling order out of a fragmenting international system. In these circumstances, ignoring conventional wisdom may prove to have been the precondition for creativity. Both Obama and the secretary of state-designate, Sen. Hillary Clinton, must have concluded that the country and their commitment to public service require their cooperation.
Those who take the phrase “team of rivals” literally do not understand the essence of the relationship between the president and the secretary of state. I know of no exception to the principle that secretaries of state are influential if and only if they are perceived as extensions of the president. Any other course weakens the president and marginalizes the secretary. The Beltway system of leak and innuendo will mercilessly seek to widen any even barely visible split. Foreign governments will exploit the rift by pursuing alternative White House-State Department diplomacies. Effective foreign policy and a significant role for the State Department in it require that the president and the secretary of state have a common vision of international order, overall strategy and tactical measures. Inevitable disagreements should be settled privately; indeed, the ability of the secretary to warn and question is in direct proportion to the discretion with which such queries are expressed.
Now I’m not that big a fan of Kissinger, but I understand that he’s an expert as to how to put together a team. What’s interesting here is that some Republicans, at least one, is comparing Barack Obama to Richard Nixon, and yet the most important refugee from the Nixon policies, the man who orchestrated the most important Nixon success, the China policy, has given his approval to Obama’s decisions. That tells me that stupid comparisons to Nixon are simply that, stupid.
I’m thinking we need a word for such stupid comparisons. Sure, it seems odd that Republicans would try to insult Obama by comparing him to a Repulbican. We can all see that. but it has gotten to the point where we need to have some shorthand to refer to such stupid comparisons. Let’s call it a Milhous Rule of internet discussions. Heck let’s just call it stupid.
It's looking more and more like prosecutor Nora Dannehy's investigation into the US Attorney firings has Alberto Gonzales in its crosshairs.
Earlier this week we reported that Dannehy had contacted the ex-AG in connection with the probe.
Now, we've been tipped to legal filings showing that Gonzales' lawyer, George Terwilliger Jr. of White & Case, is no longer representing Gonzo in a separate case, a civil suit alleging that law students were denied DOJ jobs thanks to illegal politicization at the department under Gonzales.
The filing, dated November 25, reads:
Please enter the withdrawal of George J. Terwilliger III as counsel in this case for Defendant Alberto R. Gonzales, pursuant to Local Civil Rule 83.6(b).
Beneath that, Gonzales has signed his name, giving his consent to the withdrawal.
The previous day, in a separate filing, Gonzales had officially introduced a new team of attorneys as replacements, it would appear, for Terwilliger.
Please enter the appearance of Vincent H. Cohen, Jr., Peter Taylor, Lisa Fishberg and the law firm of Schertler & Onorato, LLP, on behalf of Defendant Alberto R. Gonzales.
What does this have to do with the Dannehy investigation?
It would appear that the most obvious reason for Terwilliger to withdraw from the civil suit is to be able to devote additional time to Dannehy's more serious investigation into criminal wrong-doing.
That's certainly the opinion of the veteran Washington lawyer bringing the civil suit in question. Dan Metcalfe, a former DOJ official and now the executive director of the Collaboration on Government Secrecy at American University Washington College of Law, who brought the suit on behalf of the law students, told TPMmuckraker*: "I think it's quite fair to say that the most plausible explanation for what happened is that [Terwilliger] learned he was going to be otherwise occupied on Gonzales' behalf."
That would jibe with the news earlier this week that Dannehy has issued subpoenas through a grand jury -- it would be common practice at this point for targets in the investigation to receive letters from the prosecutor informing them that they are under investigation. And of course it would be in sync with our report that Dannehy appears to have contacted Gonzales or his lawyer in connection with the probe.
A call to Terwilliger was directed instead to Bob Bork Jr., a spokesman for Gonzales, who told TPMmuckraker: "I have no comment about anything to do with Mr. Gonzales' representation." Asked whether he could comment more broadly on the investigation, Bork repeated: "I have no comment about anything to do with Mr. Gonzales' representation."
Late Update: There's additional evidence that Terwilliger is feeling jumpy about the twin cases, and is anxious to draw a distinction between the civil suit and the possible criminal investigation. Within hours of a story being posted by the legal publication AM Law Daily incorrectly stating that DOJ was paying Gonzales' lawyers for their work on the Dannehy investigation, Terwilliger had posted the following comment on the site:
Please correct your story as it is plainly in error to report that the Justice Department is paying Judge Gonzales' legal fees in connection with the Inspector General inquiries. Those fees are a private responsibility. DOJ is reportedly paying fees at governement [sic] rates to another law firm in connection with a civil law suit in which Judge Gonzales has been sued in his individual capacity in connection with events in which he was involved, if at all, in his offical [sic] capacity.
The site quickly posted a correction.
* This sentence has been corrected from an earlier version.
The recount process in what might end up the closest U.S. Senate race in history (I'll leave it to others to do the historical research) continues to take more twists and turns than anyone could imagine.
Here's the latest:
Officially, Al Franken has a 6,000+ vote lead with 99.37% reporting. However, what's left to report will be Coleman areas, which should end the recount with pretty much the tie that we started with. Currently, that number is ...
... a Coleman lead of 251 votes, per the Star-Tribune's own tally, which compares the recount results with the original tally. However, that number isn't helpful because ...
... the campaigns have challenged about 5,000 ballots. That number used to be about 6,000, but the Franken campaign withdrew 650 challenges Wednesday, which the Coleman campaign then matched yesterday. Many (if not most) of those challenges are expected to be frivolous, but until the state canvassing board meets to review them (on December 16), it's hard to tell where things stand, though...
... the Franken campaign is keeping its own count, and assuming every ballot challenge is rejected (not necessarily an air-tight assumption), they claim that Franken leads by 10 votes (per an email they sent out Thursday morning). But still, their count doesn't account for ...
... 133 missing ballots in a strong Franken precinct. The missing ballots are costing Franken something like 36 votes. Originally, Minneapolis' top election official claimed that there were no missing ballots, that the original count had been wrong. However, she now acknowledges that yes, those votes were cast. Friday's deadline for the recount to be finished will be extended to accommodate the search for the ballots.
A missing envelope containing about 130 ballots has stalled the recount in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken [...]
Because of the "extraordinary circumstances," said Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann, the city has until December 16 to locate the votes. The canvassing board is set to meet that day and take further action in the recount process.
"We won't meet our goal to have all ballots hand-counted by the end of the day [Friday] unless the envelope returns in the next 24 hours," Gelbmann said.
Minneapolis Elections Director Cindy Reichert said she's "not sure where [the missing envelope] would have gone" but that her staff is "in the process of looking under everything."
Franken spokesman Andy Barr said Franken's campaign was "glad that Minneapolis elections officials now acknowledge that these ballots are missing and that they are committed to finding them."
So the drama continues. What might've been a two week break from this race as the state canvassing board took its sweet-ass time to review the challenged ballots (what's the hurry?), will now be filled with intrigue over the missing 133 ballots. Stay tuned for more of this developing soap opera...
Richard Shelby is dominating the discussion. His face is everywhere, and his hostility to labor is palpable. It's certainly in large part on behalf of the foreign automakers in his home state, but it's also a legacy of Southern racism that equated[...]
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The other day I was complaining because Toyota added $1,000 to the price of my new Prius for no reason other than that they could. I'm lucky I was able to pay it without having to cut back on something else in my life-- like a home payment or medical care. I wasn't always so lucky. There was a stretch in my life when I certainly wouldn't have made it without the help the federal government gave me with food stamps. To this day when I bemoan (silently) all the taxes I have to pay, I think about how grateful I should be that the government invested in me when I really needed it and gave me at least a year's worth of food stamps.
Nevertheless, I was sadden to read on Wednesday that in September food stamps hit an all time record-- up 17% from last year. Over 31.5 million Americans used them in September. The economy has tanked and unemployment has skyrocketed since then. And economists expect it to get much worse before it gets better. The last food stamps record-- 29.85 million people in November, 2005, was the result of emergency benefits for victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Victims of the Bush Economic Miracle are getting hit much harder.
[A]nti-hunger groups said the economic downturn is the main reason behind the higher figures.
"It's a disturbing trend," said Ellen Vollinger, legal director with the Food Research and Action Center. She said she expects more people will turn to food stamps as unemployment figures rise and the economy remains weak.
One in 10 Americans were participating in the food stamp program as of September, said Dottie Rosenbaum, analyst with Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank.
That's approaching the all-time high of 10.5 percent of the population that used the program in 1994, and is similar to levels seen in the early 1980s, she said.
States that have seen a drop in job numbers and increase in home foreclosures such as Florida and Nevada also have seen a marked increase in food stamp use, Rosenbaum said.
Food banks are struggling to meet increased requests for food, said Maura Daly of Feeding America, a network of food banks.
"The tough economic time that our nation is facing is having a tremendous impact on the level of food assistance needed across the country," Daly said.
The nation?s retailers turned in the worst sales figures in at least a generation on Thursday, starting the holiday shopping season with double-digit declines across a broad spectrum of stores.
...The International Council of Shopping Centers, an industry group, described November?s figures as the weakest in more than 35 years. Declines were recorded in every retail segment the group tracks, with the biggest coming from department stores, with sales down 13.3 percent compared with November a year ago, and specialty apparel retailers, down 10.4 percent.
In a December 5 article, Politicosenior political writer Ben Smith and White House editor CraigGordon repeated the long-debunked falsehood that formerVice President Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet. DiscussingPresident-elect Barack Obama's possible choices for "ChiefTechnology Officer" in his administration, Gordon and Smith wrote:"Al Gore took a lot of grief for saying he invented the Internet, butGoogle's Vinton Cerf can come as close as anyone alive to making that boastwith a[...]
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Reich makes three points.1.2 million jobs were lost over the past three months.The workweek dropped[...]
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I'm grateful to Michael Signer, David Schorr and Charles Kupchan for their comments on The American Way of Strategy. Charles has long argued for a concert of power approach, even when that was unpopular during the heyday of American triumphalism a few years back. And in his forthcoming book Demagogue, Michael emphasizes that there is far more to liberal, constitutional government than elections alone, an important truth that we need to be reminded of.
David thinks that liberal internationalism as I describe it is "too passive, heartless and unambitious." However, by the time he has finished qualifying what he calls a "more carefully calibrated liberal interventionism," he has arrived at a position very close to mine in practice. I am opposed to wars to "spread democracy" or "enforce human rights." But the U.S. and other countries can and sometimes should use moral suasion and in extreme cases embargoes to encourage justice in other societies.
Where I may differ with David, if I read him correctly, is that I do not believe that humanity inevitably is growing more interdependent, nor do I believe that interdependence is good in itself, if it results in too great a reduction in the ability of the sovereign peoples, democratic or otherwise, to choose the arrangements under which they live. Unlike world federalists, we traditional liberal internationalists do not view a global society of sovereign states as a stepping-stone to a global federal government or a post-national global society. The global society of sovereign states is our final goal, and it is not an end in itself, but merely a means for distinct peoples to work out their local destinies with a minimum of unsought interference. We did not fight to preserve a system of independent states from German or Soviet hegemony, and we do not reject a misguided attempt at U.S. global hegemony, in order to turn around and eliminate independent states in the name of universal human rights or global trade.
That's why there is a tension between nation-based liberal internationalism and the idea of globalization as a benign and irresistible force that will erode and eventually eliminate national sovereignty, to the benefit of humankind. People who say that globalization is good because it is reducing the control of nation-states over flows of goods, capital and immigrants across borders by definition are not liberal internationalists, for whom nation-states should be free to choose their own trade policies, their own foreign investment policies, and their own immigration policies. Countries may choose stupid and counterproductive policies, but that is their right. Talking about "world governance" rather than "world government" does not change the issue.
In this connection, I should say something more in passing about economics, which is central to foreign as well as domestic policy today. One point I make in The American Way of Strategy is that every major country, whatever lip service it pays to free trade and free investment, in practice seeks to reduce industrial interdependence to some degree by promoting a variety of strategic industries within its own borders. The desire to avoid military and industrial dependence on other countries and blocs is why China, Japan and India are building up their independent space industries; why European governments subsidize Airbus and have teamed up with China to have their own global satellite positioning system, instead of relying on America's GPS system; and why the U.S. subsidizes its aerospace sector through defense contracts and will almost certainly bail out the American automobile industry. Indeed, we are likely to see a retreat from financial interdependence, too, if regional and global attempts to re-regulate financial markets fail and nation-states reassert their own regulatory authority in the aftermath of the present crisis. If interdependence creates transmission belts for contagious pathologens, then less interdependence and more national firewalls may be preferable in the case of dangerous financial products and practices as well as avian flu.
I don't claim to have the answers, but I am convinced that in the post-meltdown era liberal internationalists are going to have to question paeans to allegedly inevitable one-way globalization and do some hard thinking about what kind of mixture of international economic integration and national economic independence best secures a liberal way of life in the U.S. and similar democracies.
Margie is an idiot.
This colleague of mine recently asked me something that I recognized as insanity. She asked, “why would I buy now if stocks are going down? Why wouldn’t I buy when they’re going up?”
Because you’re an idiot,…
Jeanne Cummings / The Politico:
RNC spends $180K on Palin and family — Salons and spas, including $350 at Escape Skin Care and Day Spa in New York, were the latest unusual expenses to appear in the Republican National Committee's coordinated expenses account with the McCain-Palin campaign, according to November reports released late Thursday.