"I had this impulse to hug him, so I did. And I cried. I think I even got tears on the Vice President's suit jacket!"
? Kobe, read more here.
Open thread below.
Foreign policy is the subject of Monday night's final debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It's a political topic about which Americans are the least informed, generally the least interested in and the most vulnerable to chest-thumping posturing. One key moment of the debate last week was foreign-policy related?the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the Obama administration's response to it, both internationally and at home. That part of the debate did not go well for Romney.
If Libya comes up again, as seems inevitable, Romney will no doubt choose his words more carefully. But the message will be the same. Because whatever questions Romney is specifically asked at this sit-down debate, you can be sure he will repeatedly say or imply that Obama is weak on defense, just as he sought to do in the Oct. 16 face-off. It's not a unique line of attack. Republicans have been claiming since 1949 when the Chinese civil war ended with Mao Zedong and the communists victorious that Democrats are feckless wimps when it comes to international affairs. The truth is that the growth of the military-industrial-congressional complex has mostly been a bipartisan affair, as has been the imperial projection abroad of U.S. power. This isn't to say there are no differences between the two parties in their philosophy or implementation of foreign policy.
One wing of the Democratic Party has resisted wars of choice since the second half of the '60s. Its size in Congress fluctuates, of course. In the elections of 1972 and 1974, the 91 Democrats who took previously Republican seats were overwhelmingly antiwar. The same, but by a narrower margin, for the 52 Democrats who took Republican seats in 2006 and 2008.
But the impact on Pentagon spending has not been as evident as should be the case during Democratic administrations. For instance, the current "core" Defense budget, adjusted for inflation, is only slightly less than it was at the post-World War II peak during the George W. Bush administration, and about equal to what it was at the peak of the Cold War under Reagan in 1986.
Growth in Pentagon spending would be only modestly reduced by President Obama under current plans, assuming budget sequestration does not occur. Even with sequestration, however, the budget would be as high as it was at the height of the Vietnam War. Again, that is adjusted for inflation. Pentagon spending would take its sharpest upward turn in the post-World War II era under Mitt Romney's proposals, an increase of about $2.2 trillion over the next decade, an annual boost in the core Defense budget of about 35 percent.
Foreign policy isn't solely about war and saber-rattling, however. Economic globalization makes it about trade and aid, human rights, resource scarcity, the international flow of finance capital and, no matter how much politicians want to run from it, global warming. Bob Schieffer ought to make that subject the first question out of the box Monday.
It would also be good to hear questions and answers on a broader than usual range of these foreign policy matters. But it's doubtful we will. Nor will we hear about eliminating any of the 800+ bases operated by the United States overseas. We will certainly hear a lot about talking tough, being tough and not being tough.
That's because our foreign policy is captive to the Center-Right, the Right and sometimes, as during the Bush years, the Far Right. Occasionally, however, the Left can glean good insight from a Center-Rightist. In this light, at Foreign Policy magazine last week, Leslie H. Gelb wrote a piece that deserves a read, The Myth That Screwed Up 50 Years of U.S. Foreign Policy:
What people came to understand about the Cuban missile crisis -- that JFK succeeded without giving an inch -- implanted itself in policy deliberations and political debate, spoken or unspoken. It's there now, all these decades later, in worries over making any concessions to Iran over nuclear weapons or to the Taliban over their role in Afghanistan. American leaders don't like to compromise, and a lingering misunderstanding of those 13 days in October 1962 has a lot to do with it.
In fact, the crisis concluded not with Moscow's unconditional diplomatic whimper, but with mutual concessions. The Soviets withdrew their missiles from Cuba in return for U.S. pledges not to invade Fidel Castro's island and to remove Jupiter missiles from Turkey. For reasons that seem clear, the Kennedy clan kept the Jupiter part of the deal secret for nearly two decades and, even then, portrayed it as a trifle. For reasons that remain baffling, the Soviets also kept mum. Scholars like Harvard University's Graham Allison set forth the truth over the years, but their efforts rarely suffused either public debates or White House meetings on how to stare down America's foes.
FROM THE OUTSET, Kennedy's people went out of their way to conceal the Jupiter concession. It started when the president's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, met Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin on Oct. 27 to present the Jupiters-for-Soviet-missiles swap. He told Dobrynin: We'll take the Jupiters out, but it's not part of the deal, and you can never talk about it. The Soviets removed their missiles, the United States removed the Jupiters, and the secret held for 16 years, until a small paragraph in an Arthur Schlesinger book upon which few remarked. [...]
COMPROMISE IS NOT a word that generally makes political hearts flutter, and it is even less loved when it comes to the politics of U.S. foreign policy. The myth of the missile crisis strengthened the scorn. The myth, not the reality, became the measure for how to bargain with adversaries. Everyone feared becoming the next Adlai Stevenson, whom the Kennedys, their aides, and their foes discredited for proposing the Jupiter deal publicly.
It took extraordinary courage to propose compromises in arms control talks with Moscow. Even treaties for trivial reductions in nuclear forces on both sides faced furious battles in Congress. Today, it is near political suicide to publicly suggest letting Iran enrich uranium up to an inconsequential 5 percent with strong inspections, though the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty permits it. And while Barack Obama's team is talking to the Taliban, its demands are so absolute ? the Taliban must lay down their arms and accept the Kabul constitution ? that any serious give-and-take is impossible. Were it at all serious, the White House would have to at least dangle the possibility of a power-sharing arrangement with the Taliban.
For too long, U.S. foreign-policy debates have lionized threats and confrontation and minimized realistic compromise. And yes, to be sure, compromise is not always the answer, and sometimes it's precisely the wrong answer. But policymakers and politicians have to be able to examine it openly and without fear, and measure it against alternatives. Compromises do fail, and presidents can then ratchet up threats or even use force. But they need to remember that the ever steely-eyed JFK found a compromise solution to the Cuban missile crisis ? and the compromise worked.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2007?Bush Authoritarianism: Blackwater+Amway=GOP, Pt. 3:
One of the main hallmarks of Bush Authoritarianism is a variant of privatization, in which public goods or services supplied directly by government employees are "outsourced" to a private company, which takes tax dollars, but over which the government has much less control than public employees performing the same task. Privatization has been happening at all levels of government for a couple of decades. In some cases it?s warranted and in the best interests of citizens and taxpayers. But often, privatization results in inferior good or services, higher costs to taxpayers, and diminished accountability to the government and the public.
An extreme version of privatization has accelerated during the Bush administration: the privatization of warfare. Privatizing war is at the cutting edge of Bush Authoritarianism, and Blackwater, whose business practices and niche I discussed last week, is an archetypal "winner" in the new authoritarian system emerging under the Bush administration. Blackwater is not the only example, however; it is simply one of the more public and extreme examples of Bush?s base of support and the recipients of his governance, which transfers public moneys previously spent on government employees to perform government services, to private entities over which the government can exercise much less authority and accountability.
Blackwater CEO Erik Prince is a product of the world of ultra-conservative donors who?ve funded the vast right wing conspiracy. His father, auto parts mogul Edgar Prince, was one of the largest funders of the right wing movement.
Every Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio."
Thanks to George McGovern's advice ("Three words: Never. Give. Up.") my parents helped me to get alive again. Thank you, Senator McGovern, for all your leadership for America, but most of all: thank you for saving my life.[...]
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I hear this is used in some James Bond beer commercial, but I found it on Spotify and it's a fine example of the "he done me wrong" song. What are you listening to this evening?
RIP Sen. George McGovern (more here)?
?and I?m putting up this video chiefly to highlight what that idiot Darrell Issa did with his Libyan ?document dump? as noted here (yeah, as C&L says, we know what Rahm is, but he?s spot-on here)?
?and when I think of McGovern, I think of this song; I know the ?ain?t no Democrat? part doesn?t fit, but I think the rest does (yep, another song by Jackson Browne, I know, but I don?t know anyone else out there writing or performing this kind of music).
?and I noted the recent observance of Thelonious Monk?s 95 birthday a little while ago ? time to do the same for Mr. John Birks Gillespie.
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This Week with George Stephanopoulos marks the passing of six service members in Afghanistan:
US Army WO Joseph L Schiro, 27, Coral Springs, FL
US Army SSG Justin C. Marquez, 25, Aberdeen, NC
US Army SGT Thomas R Macpherson, 26, Long Beach, CA
US Army SFC Ryan J Savard, 29, Sierra Vista, AZ
US Army SPC Brittany B Gordon, 24, St Petersburg, FL
US Army SGT Robert J Billings, 30, Clarksville, VA
According to iCasualties, the total number of allied service members killed in Afghanistan is now .
In addition, the following notable names lost their lives this week:
Comic book artist Marc Swayze, publisher Larry Sloan, former congressman James R. Grover, actor and author John Clive, BMX cyclist Kyle Bennett, former Cambodian King and nine-term Prime Minister Norodom Sihanouk, NY state congressman James Conte, NH Senator John A Durkin, TX state senator Mario Gallegos, actress Sylvia Kristel, historian Henry Friedlander, jazz musician David S. Ware, and Lebanese security officer Wissam al-Hassan,
In addition, we want to note that the progressive community lost one of their outstanding leaders, American politician George McGovern.
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! looks at the legacy of George McGovern:
Sunday Evening News Roundup The great George McGovern has died. Gary Hart has this remembrance. Robert Redford gives us reasons to vote for President Barack Obama. Romney's continues to have a loose affiliation with the true. I love this "women in binders" comment. We found out that Mitt didn't go out a demand to have
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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Sunday blasted President Barack Obama's administration for agreeing to discussions with Iran about the county's nuclear program because 'the time for talking is over."
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Obama administration officials had said the White House had agreed in principle to one-on-one meetings with Iran, a result of efforts to pressure Tehran that began soon after Obama took office.
"The Iranians are trying to take advantage of our election cycle to continue to talk," Graham told Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday. "As we talk with the Iranians, whether it's bilaterally or unilaterally, the vice president and the president have said, 'We will do nothing without coordinating with Israel.' So, we've talked with them in Moscow, we've talked with them in Baghdad, they continue to enrich."
"I think think the time for talking is over," he continued. "We should be demanding transparency and access to their nuclear program. They've doubled their centrifuges so I think this is a ploy by the Iranians. I hope we are talking to the Israelis."
Graham added that he hoped that the U.S. would not "take the bait" and agree to one-on-one discussion with Iran.
"I would like to talk with Israel before we make any major decisions with Iran," he explained.
Comments in the Editors' Blog? Discussing it here at TPMPrime. [...]
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I quite liked Neil Irwin's story today, in the aftermath of earnings season at the big banks, an an object lesson into how those firms still carry a multitude of legacy troubles from the crisis years.[...]
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