Nixon And The Dog Days Of August

Nixon is back, haunting every August as usual. This year he fights the centennial of the Great War for media mindshare. It’s an uneven match. Americans emerged almost unscathed from the first European civil war.

Relentless Pat Buchanan cuts and pastes his annual apologia. He reminds us:

Then he [Nixon] succeeded where liberalism’s best and brightest had failed. He ended the Vietnam War with honor, brought all our troops and POWs home, opened up China, negotiated historic arms agreements with Moscow, ended the draft, desegregated southern schools, enacted the 18-year-old vote, created the EPA, OSHA and National Cancer Institute.

Another reminder of how far we’ve come. The Nixon Center/National Interest can’t resist agreeing, too. Just attempting any of Nixon’s acts would galvanize the Movement to start impeachment calls. John McCain today would be against freeing John McCain.

Most striking? Nixon remained an internationalist realist even as America turned inward, indeed to his last day. Nixon advocated his views in both policy and practical political terms.

We’re certain Nixon would be baffled by Obama’s passive acceptance of the political status quo as setting limits on himself and the country. Nixon understood presidents are above all political actors. To lead they must engage political means to achieve their ends – beyond empty rhetoric. (We speak of his legal actions).

Obama believes politics is about judging others and declaiming rational choices. His job is to explain them, often as scold. Societies, however, require politics to address and somehow give meaning to the irrational as well. Aristotle understood we are all political animals.

His comments about Russia could be about anything:

But Obama says, quote, “people don’t always act rationally.” He says sometimes people don’t act based on their own interests.

True, the Movement after 2010 essentially destroyed functioning government beyond even the 1973-77 era. Obama’s passivity is a major causal factor there, too. We all together warned here in 2009-10 about the then embryonic Movement. We explained how Obama should act to co-opt, marginalize or impede it in early 2009.

The Obama White House publicly mocked the Movement, doing nothing, politically. And the Movement seized Congress and ended his presidency.

Nixon, Watergate, Vietnam

Obama sees the world as defining his limits, and thus ours. Successful presidents use politics to change the world and elevate us. Obama’s ISIL airstrike address this week merely another version of his earlier West Point address fiasco. At West Point, he may be the first modern president to “subtweet” his critics so passive aggressively.

Our Obama critique unfortunately remains true since 2007. He seems small today because he abdicated most of what makes a successful president.

In this sense, Obama is the anti-Nixon. And that’s not a compliment.

If Only People Opposed The PATRIOT Act Like SOPA; The Power Of LOLCats

All the Interwebs are buzzing about de-railing the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, Protect IP Act (PIPA). Those kidz at Reddit started a campaign against a company (GoDaddy) so dull (it registers Internet domains and sells email) it gets marginal mindshare deploying quasi-strip tease acts for ads designed to be blocked at the Super Bowl. Technology companies flirting with the IP crowd are now backing away.

SOPA is kitchen table talk now. Perhaps everyone wants to at least feel like they’re ‘in’. Like Tina Fey-kinda-in. It’s a simple talking point, too. Why, allowing Hollywood lawyers to tell backbone companies to block websites the lawyers deem carrying pirated material? That would “break the Internet.” Angry Birds would die. Mafia Wars end. And so on.

We won’t rehearse all the original machinations of the Motion Picture Association of America, the Business Software Alliance (MSFT eta al.). You’ve seen it elsewhere. And of course, watching MSFT and others at BSA cave to pressure and retreat is not un-fun. But it’s the same old story of IP holders’ greed and fear from the DMCA days. Turned up a notch. Except now there’s social media – like Reddit. And it bit them in the backside but fierce.

Still, it’s a bread and circuses thing. We’re just puzzled why Amerikhuns care more about access to online porn, Pirate Bay wannabees and LOLCats than, say, oh, their personal freedom. Nobody lifted a finger to slow PATRIOT down then. Except Dick Armey and a few who demanded and got sunset provisions. OK, it was right after 9/11. Feelings were raw.

Feelings weren’t that raw when Democrats and Republicans voted to blow past the original sunsets. How raw could feelings be with the Boy King in office? To get *expansions* to the PATRIOT Act, notwithstanding its classified offshoots. Chirp. Chirp. You’d think this would be something custom made for social media, ala Cairo, etc. But alas, people can’t conceive of losing something that’s not tangible, like a shiny new iPad suddenly no longer showing a favorite website.

So if you go to one of those usual suspect aggregators news sites proclaiming this ‘dramatic’ SOPA victory to ‘preserve the Internet’, just remember, sure, Amerikhuns may get LOLCats unimpeded. And the torrents running free in Sweden.

High fives all around. Because, like, saving the “integrity of the Internet” is so much more important than a constitutional republic. You know we’re right.

Obama’s Soggy, Expedient Mush

We didn’t expect much. He lived up to that.

Fugal Fatigue

Pre-empting ‘Jeopardy’ tonight, Obama served up the same vague, content-less platitudes that intoxicated his enablers in 2008. He spoke almost Bach-like, leaving the audience to deliver the counter-fugue. “We are not a nation that stands by when tragedy happens.” Except when we do. Clinging to the humanitarian theme, Obama underscored regime change is *not* an American objective. Yet it is; he’s demanded Khaddafi go several times already, etc.

Obama spent most of his energies justifying why he unilaterally declared war on Libya. (Even Dick Cheney for God’s sake went through the motions to observe form. Bush secured two Authorizations to Use Military Force (2001 and 2002)). We can only offer a sad smile to the chuckleheads running around 2007-2008 declaring Obama ‘a constitutional scholar’ (We know personally something about who is entitled to that honorific). It doesn’t matter. His intentions are pure and prudent.

His fugal theme of intentions and prudence tried to cover a strategic vacuity. He developed no harmonic themes defining success, concrete objectives or why he believes he can choose sides in a civil war without cost. His chordal progressions avoided any program or agenda. Just pure, prudent intentions.

Thus, his critics must be mute; his intentions, after all, are noble.

The Clouseau School Of Pretending You Intended To Do That

Obama claimed his one-man war on Libya is born of unique circumstances:

(a) the UN agrees (meaning China and Russia abstained);
(b) the Arab League gave a fig leaf;
(c) Sarkozy is about to be crushed in French elections and cut off by his wife – he’s desperate;
(d) Cameron in London is unusually dunder-headed and clueless;
(e) other than the Germans and Turks fussing about, NATO was signed, sealed, delivered;
(f) Americans watching Japan are already on ferrin neyooz overload; and
(g) best of all, because no one really knows what the hell is going on over there, Americans generally will be down with bombing brown people provided some smile on CNN. (Americans love people who thank the U.S. for dropping bombs on their country).

Most (all?) of the above is, of course, ex-post facto rationalization. The truth is far uglier. You, Dear Reader, know that Obama simply pulled . . . an Obama.

It’s all of a piece. Libya is no different than his collusion and subsequent 9 month abdication on health care reform. Same with his absence from securing meaningful FinReg. The BP episode? Escalating in Afghanistan while promising to leave? Letting banks walk on foreclosure fraud? His embrace of Addington’s Unitary Executive? Silent disengagement from the Movement 2009-11 at State and Federal levels? Yup, yup, yup, yup. . . yup. And so on.

The Arab League is delighted to divert American frustration to Libya. Bomb him, go to town, do your thing. And shut up about protestors shot in the streets. London and Paris need a foreign diversion. Need to roll out freedom again? By all means. Having some trouble with your virility? Take 112 Tomahawks and call in the morning. There can be no Obama Doctrine because expediency is one word.

Pure intentions are always used to cajole Americans. War to end all wars. War to make Democracy safe. No more Munichs in the Mekong blah blah blah. Works every time initially. Sentiment, however, blinds all to the opportunity costs. People have only so much bandwidth. A burn and churn maw in Libya will divert focus from matters of genuine strategic import. There’s a reason Beijing abstained. For the record history will note Libya worse than a crime, a mistake.

When a man stands for nothing he can always cobble together a narrative to justify where the wind blew him. But like tonight’s speech that narrative can’t tell us where he wants to go and how he intends to get there.

More than that, it’s obvious to anyone Obama isn’t a fighter. He’s never drawn a line personally, taken bloody, pulverizing punches. He’s never been rocked back, fallen down, stood up and retaken ground. (2008 isn’t a valid comparison. His first major challenge was the self-destructing HRC campaign. His second was riding Bush, global economic catastrophe and oh, John McCain to the finish line). Every capital in the world has this PDF file by now.

As we wrote before, to paraphrase Forrest Gump, “Half-assed is as half-assed does.” And like Gump, Obama may saunter to an objectively undeserved second term. Who here thinks Newt, Barbour, Tpaw, Romney et. al will force Obama to at least shuffle, if not dance, floating like a butterfly? Thought so.

Illegal FBI Domestic Surveillance With No Consequences, Move Along

The FBI improperly investigated some left-leaning U.S. advocacy groups after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Justice Department said Monday. DoJ cited cases in which agents surveilled and put activists on terrorist watch lists even though they were planning and conducted nonviolent civil disobedience.

And what are the consequences?

“After more than four years of investigation and an exhaustive review of hundreds of investigative decisions the FBI made after the September 11 attacks,” said FBI spokesman Michael P. Kortan, the report “did not uncover even a single instance where the FBI targeted any group or any individual based on the exercise of a First Amendment right.”

He added that although Fine had “disagreed with a handful of the FBI’s investigative determinations over the course of six years,” the inspector general “has not recommended any significant modifications to the FBI’s authority to investigate criminal conduct or national security threats.”

As we noted earlier, thank goodness Fredo, Ashcroft et al. can’t whitewash the whole thing. Imagine the cynicism.

Getting Away From It All

Here’s a hope that everyone enjoys the weekend. That you, Dear Reader, can tune out the media led fixation on the ankle biters downtown.

It’s an unholy brew. A rootless media seeks any form of self-generating narrative for lazy producing, story selection, Nielsens and click throughs. And the Movement? It follows centuries of Counter Enlightenment impulsive tradition using public theater to create false narratives and communal identity. All fodder for the 15 minute news cycle and shallow tweets.

We chose to visit Annapolis to start off the weekend. Sure, it’s long been a tourist trap. And like nearby D.C. it’s self-satisfied, bloated and keenly aware of its wealth. Still, it’s not far up Route 50. The Severn River retains echoes of boating memories many decades ago. Plus, traffic to the overcrowded (and even more overbuilt) Delaware beaches too daunting. One notable thing – young men in their twenties lounging around the Naval Academy entrance wearing the old ‘Blackwater’ paw t-shirts and Oakleys. Without irony, too.

Where were we? Oh right. The high school play downtown.

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The Declaration Of Independence Written With Today’s Mentality

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to execute this END-USER LICENSE AGREEMENT WITH {subjects, citizens *customers*} for the decent respect of Delaware Chancery Court precedent:

We hold these truths to be self evident and IMPORTANT. PLEASE READ THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THIS AGREEMENT CAREFULLY BEFORE CONTINUING WITH THIS DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE (“The DECLARATION”). The Continental Congress’ End-User License Agreement (“EULA”) is a legal agreement between you (either an individual or a single entity) and the Continental Congress.

Use of the Continental Congress’ DECLARATION incorporates by reference any associated product(s) including written components, media, pamphlets and pictographic or printed materials, or other information encoded in binary form for copying, storage and distribution by any other means, physical or otherwise from or to Chinese devices. By reading, copying, or otherwise using the DECLARATION, you agree to be bound by the terms of this EULA.

This EULA represents the entire agreement concerning the ‘revolution’ product and related marketing materials between you and the Continental Congress (also referred to as “Licensor”). The EULA supersedes any prior proposal, representation, or understanding between the parties. If you do not agree to the terms of this EULA, do not read, copy or talk about the DECLARATION.

The DECLARATION is protected by all applicable copyright and intellectual property laws and international copyright and intellectual property treaties. The DECLARATION is licensed, not sold.

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If It’s Tuesday It Must Be Obama

Tuesday offers ominous signs and portents for Obama’s agenda of Lukewarm Dishwater. No, it’s not that his personal endorsement means squat. Rather, Obama actually would benefit from a Rightist takeover of at least one chamber of Congress. For his legacy and re-election. Tuesday’s results offer a chance that Democrats might muddle through with less carnage. Good for them, possibly bad for Obama and even worse for all of us.

Clinton surely benefitted from Newt after 1994. Clinton, more so than Obama, was a tactical political genius and counter-puncher. So what if the divided government meant a Clinton presidency offered almost no historic liberal achievement. Can you say ‘school uniforms’? In the eyes of many, Clinton remains the best Republican president since Reagan.

Obama’s case is different. He’s no Clintonian boxer. Nor is he the same voracious, natural political animal (in all senses). He’s obviously bright – didn’t Medvedev look into his eyes and see Obama’s IQ? But if Obama has any actionable convictions, they’re more classified than presidential Blackberry txt messages.

He’s not helped by the soggy Cherrios that is the (undeserved) Democratic majority on the Hill. Obama desperately could use *something*, *anything* to give him definition — and a plausible excuse for the inaction, watering down and plain fumbling. The Obama Administration is the Newsweek of American politics.

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Why Does Obama Hate Privacy?

Facebook’s much publicized user privacy meltdown is just the lastest example of massive social web services disregarding users’ privacy. Google similarly decided on its own all its users’ private information should by default be visible to any one. Despite the CW that ‘no one expects privacy’ anymore, anti-Facebook sentiment runs white hot. The query ‘how do I remove my Facebook account’ is now among the most popular searches on the web. Expectations of privacy are not quite dead.

Now imagine what happens in other less closely watched situations with all of our information. When it’s more than exposing private messages explaining how one’s spouse is a jerk. You know, involving little things like the 4th Amendment, FISA, etc. Yup, the Feds. (And if the Feds walk all over your privacy, do you really think something like HIPPA stops an insurance company?)

So what gives with Obama’s intransigent disregard of a 2007 law requiring him to appoint members to a privacy panel? The panel’s origins lie back in the dim recess of time when intelligence reform was given at least nominal jaw-jaw. Alas, if the panel was actually set up? McConnell might write an angry letter. And November is coming up. It’s not like intelligence reform, oversight, the 4th Amendment and privacy are important. Just ask Kagan – she has no opinion on them.

Who knew ‘hope and change’ had a sell by date of February 2009?

This Is The Best He Can Do? (Slightly Revised)

It’s a given that Peter Beinart’s flatulence that Kagan should apologize for banning U.S. military campus visits for their policies violating school non-discrimination policies is more of his soft-minded weakness. Like his rah rah for the Bush Administration in the Middle East well into 2005. Not a serious mind for serious (or unserious) people. What about principled Obama supporters distancing themselves from Kagan?

We confess to know almost nothing about Kagan. Not only because she has no substantial body of legal writings. She came of age after the Stitung’s work with and for some of the Nation’s foremost legal minds (including but definitely not limited to Kagan’s colleague, Liz Warren). We know nothing about how her mind works. A deanship or Supreme Court Clerkship? Ticket punches only. How she succeeds in quelling Harvard prima donnas as Lunch Room Monitor irrelevant and delusional – as if Alito, Roberts, Scalia or Thomas will somehow be hypmotized [sic]. Yet her ‘legal mind’ and Harvard faculty Jedi mind tricks are the crux of Obama’s confidence in her.

We can’t speak for you, Dear Reader. We no longer accept ‘Trust Me’ IOUs from this crowd. We look forward to the confirmation hearings (see comment below).