No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post
The TSA subpoenaed a blogger who posted a new screening directive, then backed down. This doesn’t have as much to do with procedures at the TSA (though it has something to do with that) as the outsized sense of authority that federal agencies increasingly have. The assumption that they can constrict fundamental individual liberties like this should be considered urgently alarming to anyone who is worried about our creep towards police state tactics.
While the original motives for the 9/11 attacks was homicidal rage prompted by the presence of American soldiers in Muslims’ holy land and our policy towards Israel (not because “we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world”), we’ve gone well past animating a handful of nihilists by the wholesale slaughter of innocents. It’s having roughly the impact you might expect, this time on whole populations. And even the most fanciful imagination would have trouble dreaming up some kind of high minded justification for all the carnage.
The revolving door is so 20th century.
Ryan Grim and Arthur Delaney have a long report on how the House Committee on Financial Services is “a place for shaky Democrats from red districts to pad their campaign coffers.” Here’s one highlight:
Of the 126 people who have left the financial services committee since the end of 2000, lobbying disclosure forms show that 62 have registered as lobbyists at some point. That doesn’t even include people who did not register as lobbyists but who nevertheless worked for law firms with lobbying departments.And another:
The lobbyists insist they don’t fit the Jack Abramoff caricature of the profession painted by the media; they don’t capitalize on their connections to pervert the legislative process on behalf of big-money clients.In reality, lobbying is more boring: lobbyists visit the Hill for meetings with members and staffers to explain how proposed legislation might have “unintended consequences” that could hurt an industry. Or, lobbyists might be invited to make a large campaign contribution and share concerns with members over a meal. Opportunities to attend such events abound — almost any member of Congress is available for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at some point during the week. And anyone is welcome so long as she or he brings a big fat check.It just shows how normalized and institutionalized the corruption has become.
You probably already knew this, but seeing some detail is nice.
Some good news on the secrecy front, but we’ll have to see how it works in practice. Things like this seem to get announced with lots of fanfare, but the devil’s in the details.
Considering the source it’s best to take this with a large grain of salt, but the fact that even an interested party could not get completely laughed off for making the argument is telling.
There’s been a lot of controversy about Jane Hamsher’s recent activism, and even disagreement over whether she has been too loyal or not loyal enough to the Democratic party. While there’s certainly a strategic argument to be made in favor of what she’s doing, I think she put it best in her own words: Democrats appear to be “unresponsive to popular sentiment,” and that’s all the reason you need to go after them. Unless you want to go all in with a third party (which is perfectly legitimate), the basic model seems right to me: rally behind them in election season and agitate like hell the rest of the time. I don’t think any liberal who lived through the Bush years will think there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties, so for the time being at least it’s important to elect D’s, but insisting they have a free hand once in office isn’t helpful either. I’m glad she’s out there doing what she’s doing.
Joe Klein seems to be slightly more aware of political blogging on the internet than most of his peers, but he still doesn’t seem to have digested (or is incapable of digesting) some of the basic critiques on the left. In his limited imagination the “dyspepsia of the left blogosphere” comes from “an issue the left got right and almost everyone else got wrong: the war in Iraq,” and “Those who were wrong about Iraq can’t be trusted on anything else.” You see, in the hothouse Klein and his fellow delicate petals reside, the response to the most catastrophic, inhumane, brutal and costly foreign policy blunder in our nation’s history is not a thorough investigation of it beginning at the top, with possible punishment up to and including prosecution for war crimes on the table; a permanent discrediting of its intellectual architects and rousting of them from their perches at various respectable and prominent places; an assessment from those lemmings in politics and the press who went along on the stupefying assumption that our leaders would never attempt to deceive us; and some form of rededication in the form of identifying concrete mistakes with actual names attached and a plainly communicated reform plan with credible steps for preventing a repeat of such wholesale failure going forward. No, instead you sweep it under the rug by shrugging your shoulders and declaring everyone (who matters) was wrong so there is no more responsibility for this than there is for an act of God, and marvel at the indigestion it causes among those who were right.
And by the way, those who were wrong about it aren’t to be wholesale mistrusted on everything forever from now on (note the convenient absence of a hyperlink supporting his straw man argument), but those who refuse to make an honest accounting of such a massive failure - who say accountability “has to be set aside” and that “the energy devoted to this will result in…what?” (that’s how you support your argument with hyperlinks, Joey) should be regarded with deep, deep skepticism. This is not a difficult concept to grasp.
The tragedy of Joe Klein is that he is dimly aware this discourse is going on, but his professional standing hobbles his imagination to the point that he cannot process it.
I WISH I COULD WRITE LIKE Athenae:
I’ve been waiting for eight years for the judiciary as a whole to stand up and say, “Enough with casting us as either useless or completely fucking useless, you power-crazed lunatic military fetishists,” but I have a feeling that’s a train not coming. Am I getting this? I’m still kind of drugged up.