Campaign Obama Comes Out To Play

I think the President’s critics who view Obama as ‘detached’ and ‘overly-cerebral’ tend to forget that he keeps Campaign Obama in his pocket and can pull him out anytime he wants. We’ll get to see him a lot more this year. Here’s a perfect example:

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Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 9:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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iPhone Pic of the Day

This was at a rundown salon near us in Astoria.

Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 6:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Song of the Day

In honor of my slow posting.

Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 4:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Logic-Policing Cole and Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan and John Cole are two of my favorite bloggers, but today both have fallen prey to the fallacy of Faulty Comparison. This fallacy is better known as “comparing apples to oranges.” It is a very common error, and spotting it can be extremely helpful in a debate.

Let’s start with Cole. He is upset with many of his commenters today, and is “floored” by what he calls the “staggering hypocrisy” of some of them defending the Obama administration’s approval of the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, while decrying the Bush administration’s torture programs.

It seems like a good number of you, who completely and totally lost your shit (and deservedly so) when the Bush administration waterboarded foreigners, now seem to either blithely look the other way or even endorse the concept of assassinating American citizens.

It was funny, and sad, watching many of you become shithouse lawyers, justifying the unjustifiable. Some of you are ok with the assassination if it is signed off by the courts- because then it would be A-OK! Sarah Palin- I just found your death panels.

Some of you say “I’m ok with it if it is done legally.” You know what else was deemed legal- the torture you screamed about for the last eight years. The law in Arizona that you all abhor is “legal.” Segregation was “legal.” The reason you all had a sad face because Dawn Johnsen was not confirmed was because what the OLC and the last administration did to sanitize the morally indefensible and call it “legal.” …

…This really is not a tough call at all. This is not because I am some crazy civil liberties absolutist. This is just basic common sense, and this kind of thing would set an absolutely horrible precedent. It is beyond me how anyone could get upset about Gitmo and Abu Gharaib and then think assassination of citizens is ok. Personally, I’ll take terrorized by guard dogs and waterboarded over a bullet to the brain pan.

But you know me. I’m just a wild-eyed crazy liberal.

Cole is flatly wrong that this is the same as waterboarding prisoners. Prisoners, by definition, are in prison. They are under the total control of their captors and are not a threat. Al-Awlaki, on the other hand, is in Yemen, presumably armed, surrounded by other armed men, and is plotting to kill American citizens. He is not in our control, and the only way to stop him may be “a bullet to the brain pan” or (more likely) a predator drone strike. So Cole is doubly wrong when he accuses those who see the difference between these two executive acts as hypocrites.

Sullivan’s error is a little less obvious and definitely less angry, but there nonetheless. Today he compared a quote of David Axelrod’s with part of Obama’s prepared remarks on the nomination of Elena Kagan:

Senior White House adviser David Axelrod told reporters earlier this week that he and President Obama agree. A nominee’s sexuality “has no place in this process,” he said. “It wasn’t an avenue of inquiry on our part and it shouldn’t be on anybody else’s’ part.”

and the president’s initial statement:

Elena has also spoken movingly about how her mother had grown up at a time when women had few opportunities to pursue their ambitions and took great joy in watching her daughter do so. Neither she, nor Elena’s father, lived to see this day. But I think her mother would relish this moment. I think she would relish — as I do — the prospect of three women taking their seat on the nation’s highest Court for the first time in history. A Court that would be more inclusive, more representative, more reflective of us as a people than ever before.

Sullivan responds:

But if gender is an active and legitimate category to consider, why is sexual orientation out of bounds of even inquiry?

Or let me put it this way. I find Axelrod’s casual bracketing of sexual orientation as somehow different – and lesser – than gender to be offensive. I don’t think it was meant to be, and I think it was said out of a legitimate concern to be fair to people’s privacy. But if identity matters in selecting a Justice, and if that identity is obviously a way in which nominees really do understand the impact of the law (and discrimination) on ordinary lives, and if all this has been explicitly stated by the president as integral to his vision of the Supreme Court, then why is sexual orientation off the list?

His most glaring error here is calling this “Axelrod’s casual bracketing of sexual orientation as somehow different – and lesser – than gender.” Axelrod didn’t bracket these two quotes from himself and Obama, Sullivan did. But even if Axelrod wrote Obama’s speech and personally stands behind every word of it, this is still an unlike comparison of two things. He sees sexuality and gender as equal-identity issues, and Axelrod’s statement as an unintended insult to homosexuality.

But his nod to privacy undermines his argument. You can be private about your sexuality. You cannot be private about your gender. Yes, gay people are a persecuted minority. No doubt. But other minorities do not have the refuge of the closet. Persons of good faith can devoutly wish that no homosexual ever has to live in the closet, while honoring the privacy of those that do. But at a job interview, your gender is apparent. Your sexuality is not. Acknowledging this is not insulting, and Sullivan should reconsider his position.

Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 2:38 pm  Comments (9)  
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Song of the Day

The one time I heard this mashup on late-night NPR, the DJ expressed his reservations about playing it, but ultimately enjoyed it too much not to share. There is something a little wrong and a lot right going on here. Music starts 30 seconds in.

Published in: on May 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Kagan and the Outrage Machine

Elena Kagan
Andrew Sullivan has been scrambling for an outrage narrative on Kagan. First she’s a closeted lesbian, then maybe not, but why won’t she tell us?? Why the big coverup?? Also, she hasn’t taken enough risks! She defers to her bosses!!

I’m usually a fan, but sheesh. John Cole is tired of the auto-outrage. He makes an additional point that puts me in the Balloon Juice amen corner:

I reject flat out that deferring to the judgment of your Senators and the President is simply “cult like” behavior. WTF did we elect these people to do? Should we just have referendums on Supreme Court nominees now? How is someone like me, with no legal training, supposed to make the kind of informed decision on Kagan’s legal logic? I have a job and a yard to mow and pets to take care of and bills to pay- I don’t have time for a direct democracy. Obviously, that does not mean just greenlighting whatever your elected officials do, but the idea that saying “Hrmm- Sanders, Obama, Feingold, Sherrod Brown, Leahy, and a lot of others whose opinions I respect and who know a helluva lot more than me about this all think she is a good fit” is cult-like behavior is just pure bullshit. That is how our system is supposed to work.

But then, I’ve never gotten really worked up about Supreme Court nominees. So sue me.

How The Far-Right Sees Obama

Genie Obama

This is the work of far-right editorial cartoonist Glen McCoy. But wait – He get’s worse!

Abortion Obama

This is some really pure hatred.

Published in: on May 9, 2010 at 12:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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iPhone Pic of the Day

Playground shadows. Taken last Sunday, then given a “Fisheye” filter.

Published in: on May 6, 2010 at 1:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Election Night

This will be my only nod to today’s election, since I haven’t been following it as closely as others.

(Hat tip, Michael Scherer)

Published in: on May 6, 2010 at 12:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Song of the Day

Loretta Lynn gets an assist from Jack White. Have mercy.

Published in: on May 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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