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« Liberal Outrage: August 2013 | Main | Liberal Outrage: October 2013 »

Liberal Outrage


For more, see Yglesias. What's interesting is that liberals could have used this same ad to protest the trans-vaginal ultrasounds that some states are requiring as a prerequisite for abortions and it would have actually been more truthful.

By fnord12 | September 19, 2013, 12:42 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

And when can Snowden come home?

Kevin Drum notes that everyone "welcomes" the debate caused by Snowden's revelations.

By fnord12 | September 13, 2013, 3:14 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


Nominate Larry Summers to the Fed chair today.

By fnord12 | September 13, 2013, 2:47 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Nice to have a philosphy that you can just apply to anything

Grover Norquist doesn't have a position on marijuana legalization, but he knows it shouldn't be taxed.

By fnord12 | September 12, 2013, 7:44 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

US schools are doing fine

Poor Bob Somerby writes a post like this at least once a month, and i think it's worthwhile to link to them sometimes.

By fnord12 | September 12, 2013, 11:47 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Thank you British citizens

Pretty amazing news on Syria last night. And if i had any class at all, i'd leave it at that and just be thankful that our involvement in a war seems to have been stopped, whoever gets the credit.

But i've been reading the comments on TPM's site, where people are saying that this was Obama's plan all along (the 11-dimensional chess argument)(P.S. these same people were previously arguing that we absolutely had to bomb and anyone who disagreed was a moral monster). And the idea that this was Obama's end goal is just crazy. What happened is that the administration intended to bomb. But when the British parliament failed to approve it, it was a major blow to us. Obama punted by going to Congress so that, without any partners, he'd have some sort of authority for this. And Congress balked due to the overwhelming and surprising reaction from voters of all political strips. It was definitely not going to pass in the House (there were 230+ confirmed No votes, and Josh Marshall snarkily said that Obama would need 150% of the remaining undecideds to win). And as of last night even the Senate seemed unsure, with Reid delaying the scheduled vote at the last minute.

Meanwhile, John Kerry made an offhand sarcastic remark in response to a journalist asking the question "Is there anything at this point that his government could do or offer that would stop an attack?".

Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week - turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting (of it) but he isn't about to do it and it can't be done...

A statement by the State department confirmed this was a rhetorical argument, not a serious proposal:

Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used," a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

His (Kerry's) point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago. That's why the world faces this moment.

But then Russia took the remark at face value and proposed the deal, getting Syria on board. And with Obama facing a sure defeat in congress, they jumped on the life raft.

So it's absolute fantasy to think that this was Obama's plan all along. They were pushing this war hard, making Munich comparisons, having multiple arm-twisting sessions with the progressive Dems in Congress, etc.. It was only thanks to the major surprise resistance that they ran into that they are now going with a diplomatic solution.

And i guess the reason i feel a need to respond to people in the bowels of TPM comment boards is because i thinks it's important to recognize that this was stopped by ordinary people who are sick of the constant wars we are getting into. Primarily British citizens, because if Parliament had authorized it, this would have never went to Congress. But the deluge of calls that US reps got from their voters was the final nail. Surely governments the world over are already analyzing this and making sure it never happens again. But this one time, people stopped a war, and that's huge.

[Two caveats: 1) Of course, there is still a civil war in Syria and that is a tragic thing. As Josh Marshall says here, having a UN presence in Syria may mitigate the war to a degree (much more than us dropping bombs would have), but there's still a war going on. So when i say "stopped a war" i'm talking about the US attacking another country, not the civil war that's already going on.

2) This deal isn't finalized yet and it may still fall apart. But as Marshall also says in that last link, at this point Russia "owns" this now, though, so most likely it won't come back to the US threatening to bomb. Here's hoping, anyway.]

By fnord12 | September 10, 2013, 10:16 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Can we bomb them just a little bit, huh? Can we, pleeease?

Kerry has really made an ass of himself on the topic of Syria.

Today is also the day of Obama's "media blitz" to get the public behind this. As Kevin Drum notes, this is a rare occasion where Obama is using the bully pulpit. Drum says the only other time he remembers Obama using it was during the health care debate, but i actually remember him being pretty subdued on that, certainly not pushing for the public option. The only other time i can remember is when they were pushing for gun control. And as i said at that time, on all other occasions, administration supporters would just sort of shrug their shoulders and say there's only so much the executive branch can do, and it's all up to Congress.

But for Syria, the big guns come out. The unbelievably small big guns.

By fnord12 | September 9, 2013, 11:20 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

I can't believe i'm quoting Peggy Noonan

Ugh, i feel dirty just linking to her. And there's a lot in her article i don't like ("Wrong time, wrong place, wrong plan, wrong man.", and the whole bit about Washington crossing the Delaware). But she does catch something that i think is pretty amazing about public sentiment.

The American people do not support military action. A Reuters-Ipsos poll had support for military action at 20%, Pew at 29%. Members of Congress have been struck, in some cases shocked, by the depth of opposition from their constituents. A great nation cannot go to war--and that's what a strike on Syria, a sovereign nation, is, an act of war--without some rough unity as to the rightness of the decision. Widespread public opposition is in itself reason not to go forward.


A point on how quickly public opinion has jelled. There is something going on here, a new distance between Washington and America that the Syria debate has forced into focus. The Syria debate isn't, really, a struggle between libertarians and neoconservatives, or left and right, or Democrats and Republicans. That's not its shape. It looks more like a fight between the country and Washington, between the broad American public and Washington's central governing assumptions.

I've been thinking of the "wise men," the foreign policy mandarins of the 1950s and '60s, who so often and frustratingly counseled moderation, while a more passionate public, on right and left, was looking for action. "Ban the Bomb!" "Get Castro Out of Cuba."

In the Syria argument, the moderating influence is the public, which doesn't seem to have even basic confidence in Washington's higher wisdom.

By fnord12 | September 6, 2013, 12:48 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Need a happy story

Digby and Yglesias both linked to this article today that shows affluent New Yorkers reacting with alarm to the fact that Bill de Blasio is the front runner in the race for mayor. And Atrios too, in his own succinct way. But i really liked Yglesias' take:

But the flipside of this is that in a lot of ways I think rich businessmen would be happier if we could go back to 1950s-style, more egalitarian distribution of pre-tax income. The richest people around would still be the richest people around, and as the richest people around they would live in the nicest houses and drive the nicest cars and send their kids to the best schools... But they'd also have a much better chance of gaining the kind of respect as civic and national leaders that they crave. They want to be seen as the "job creators" and the heroes of the economy, not the greedy exploiters of the masses. But in order to have heroes of the economy, you need a broadly happy story about the economy--one where living standards are rising across the board and prosperity is broadly shared. If all the income growth goes to a tiny slice of people at the top, then responsible politicians have no place else to turn than higher taxes and more spending as a way to generating rising living standards.

By fnord12 | September 4, 2013, 7:22 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Breaking the law

This editorial says what i've been wanting to say about Syria without me really knowing the specific relevant laws and treaties. My version is "It is illegal to use chemical weapons, but it's also illegal to bomb another country without UN sanction".

The editorial's version:

Syria is a party to neither the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 nor the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, and even if it were, the treaties rely on the United Nations Security Council to enforce them -- a major flaw. Syria is a party to the Geneva Protocol, a 1925 treaty that bans the use of toxic gases in wars. But this treaty was designed after World War I with international war in mind, not internal conflicts.


Arguably, the key legal obligation of nations in the post-1945 world is adherence to the United Nations Charter. It demands that states refrain "from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state." The use of force is permitted when authorized by the Security Council or for self-defense (and countries like Jordan and Turkey are considering this route to justify joining an anti-Assad coalition) -- but not purely on humanitarian grounds.

This is in contrast to my Senator, whose statement says:

The mass atrocity committed by the Assad regime in grave violation of international law is searing to the soul and blinding to the eye. To allow a despot to gas their population indiscriminately and with impunity is to fail our values and to compromise our freedoms. There is no fork in the road before us, there is no ambiguity to the evidence, for the use of chemical weapons against the innocent brings us to a point of no return. The Syrian regime and others like it must understand that red lines are indelible, that our foes should never question the resolve of the United States.

I love the pivot to "our foes". Syria is in the midst of a civil war. One side (allegedly) used chemical weapons against the other side. And that is in violation of an international norm, and the attack also killed civilians, and that is absolutely deplorable. But how does that make anyone "our foes" or "compromise our freedoms"?

The editorial's author Ian Hurd goes on to say that he supports attacking Syria on the grounds that it is "illegal but legitimate" from a moral perspective (i'm simplifying his more nuanced and legalistic opinion a bit so please don't rely on my summary).

I don't agree with Hurd's conclusion. There are sadly a lot of atrocities in the word and the US can't solve them and certainly can't solve them by just dropping bombs (per this article that i've linked to previously, if we really want to solve a problem here militarily we have to commit to boots on the ground, something i also don't support and something the administration is equivocating on). So that removes the moral component here. It's ugly but the fact remains that we can't solve Syria's problems with missiles. So that leaves the legal argument that Syria broke the law and we (not the UN; we) have to respond. But Hurd's editorial shows the problem there. So i don't think there's a strong case to be made in favor of bombing Syria.

So here's to hoping again that the resolution in Congress fails. It's seeming more and more likely to pass. Pelosi is supporting it, Boehner is supporting it, my senator is writing the damn bill (and he was just re-elected in 2012 so he's not worried about voters). And i really hate that my allies on this are the opportunistic Tea Party Republicans that are reflexively anti-Obama and anything he supports. But i'm hoping there's enough outpouring of regular voters against this - latest poll shows 60% against - to stop it.

By fnord12 | September 4, 2013, 10:07 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

High speed trading

Kevin Drum has a crazy article up about how some lucky companies have the ability to make stock market trades microseconds before an announced trade actually goes through.

Here's how Hendershott's latency-arbitrage strategy worked: Redline allowed him to use its "direct market access" -- cables that run directly from exchange servers to its own. Redline's server was co-located with that of BATS Exchange so that the "latency" on information and orders coming from BATS was cut down to barely one thousandth of a second. As a result, some of the quotes on public feeds such as the crucial "national best bid and offer" feed were a few milliseconds behind those Hendershott could see on his direct link with the exchanges. With a half-decent trading algorithm, Hendershott would have had ample time to buy Apple at a stale price with a guarantee that he could sell at a profit. Every couple of seconds. All day. Risk on the trades: zero.

By fnord12 | September 3, 2013, 2:37 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


I was pretty impressed and happy when i saw over the weekend that Obama decided to get Congressional approval before bombing anyone. But now i'm seeing the administration saying they have the right to bomb Syria regardless of how the vote comes out. So, like, what's the point? I still hope the vote fails and am contacting my Congresscritters accordingly.

Meanwhile, Kerry comparing this to Munich is up there with the worst of the Bush war mongering.

By fnord12 | September 3, 2013, 2:05 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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