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the obama doctrine April 22, 2008

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, foreign policy, international, iraq, iraq war, news, politics, terrorism, Uncategorized.
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spencer ackerman in the american prospect:

During Bush’s second term, a strange disconnect has arisen in liberal foreign-policy circles in response to the president’s so-called “freedom agenda.” Some liberals, like Matthew Yglesias in his book Heads In The Sand, note the insincerity of the administration’s stated goal of exporting democracy. Bush, they observe, only targets for democratization countries that challenge American hegemony. Other liberal foreign-policy types, such as Thomas Carothers and Marina Ottaway of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, insist the administration is sincere but too focused on elections without supporting the civil-society institutions that sustain democracy. Still others, like Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch, contend that a focus on democracy in the developing world without privileging the protection of civil and political rights is a recipe for a dangerous illiberalism.

What’s typically neglected in these arguments is the simple insight that democracy does not fill stomachs, alleviate malaria, or protect neighborhoods from marauding bands of militiamen. Democracy, in other words, is valuable to people insofar as it allows them first to meet their basic needs. It is much harder to provide that sense of dignity than to hold an election in Baghdad or Gaza and declare oneself shocked when illiberal forces triumph. “Look at why the baddies win these elections,” Power says. “It’s because [populations are] living in climates of fear.” U.S. policy, she continues, should be “about meeting people where they’re at. Their fears of going hungry, or of the thug on the street. That’s the swamp that needs draining. If we’re to compete with extremism, we have to be able to provide these things that we’re not [providing].”

This is why, Obama’s advisers argue, national security depends in large part on dignity promotion. Without it, the U.S. will never be able to destroy al-Qaeda. Extremists will forever be able to demagogue conditions of misery, making continued U.S. involvement in asymmetric warfare an increasingly counterproductive exercise — because killing one terrorist creates five more in his place. “It’s about attacking pools of potential terrorism around the globe,” Gration says. “Look at Africa, with 900 million people, half of whom are under 18. I’m concerned that unless you start creating jobs and livelihoods we will have real big problems on our hands in ten to fifteen years.”

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in blog news… March 9, 2008

Posted by KG in media, misc, news, politics.
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nytimes photo

nytimes article about matt yglesias’s blogging “flophouse”:

This was an election night party and a blogger party at what residents and friends call the Flophouse, a creaky row house with sea-foam-color floors, where Mr. Yglesias lives with four other roommates, all young bloggers.

Group living in the nation’s capital is nothing new. In Washington, the work-life balance often seems less balance and more all-consuming overlap. After all, it is well known that even senators like Charles E. Schumer share housing with other politicians.

In that sense, the presence of a blogger house reflects the increasing number of online pundits in the capital. The Flophouse bloggers may not be part of the traditional mainstream news media, but they are certainly part of the mainstream blogosphere that is helping drive discourse in the city and the country. Mr. Yglesias said his site attracted about two million page views last month.

“Groups of similar-minded people congregating together and publishing their thoughts used to be called a magazine,” Andrew Sullivan, the former editor of The New Republic who now blogs for The Atlantic, wrote in an e-mail message. “This is just a 21st-century version of an 18th-century innovation.”

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ezra klein interviews paul krugman October 26, 2007

Posted by KG in books, econ, health, news, politics.
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paul krugman with greg palast 

american prospect:

EK: And I’ve also gotten the sense that liberals, to some degree, don’t believe they should have to make that argument, which is to say that they tend to make the argument against Republican economic policies on grounds of fairness rather than efficiency. Our approach is touted as being better for the poorest man, rather than better for the common man.

PK: And it’s taken a long time for people on the moderate left to appreciate just how bad things have gotten. They’ve taken a long to appreciate. I mean, even now, even now you’ll find people who claim to be moderate to liberal democrats saying “well, you know, inequality isn’t really that bad.” And ten years ago there was much more denialism.

EK: And you were writing about inequality in The American Prospect ten years ago.

PK: That’s 15 years ago now! It was one of my better pieces.

EK: And one thing you sort of suggest in the book is that universal health care isn’t merely good policy but has the potential to act as the wedge on rolling a lot of this back, on changing how people think of government, what they think of what their responsibility to each other is — that it has a cultural component.

PK: Yeah, I mean this is one of the few things on which William Kristol and I are in complete agreement. Bill Kristol had this famous memo during the defeat of the Clinton health care plan saying, we as Republicans must ensure that there is no plan because if there is a plan, if Clinton gets something, it will legitimize, re-legitimize the welfare state, and he’s right. Universal health care is important and worth doing in its own right, but it also clearly would be a demonstration that you can do good things, that government can make society safer and more equitable, which is why conservatives are so hysterical over even S-CHIP. If we can get heath care, and I think we have slightly better than even odds that we can, it does change the whole set of norms.