Remember all that hysteria from the pro-left

…about how the Supercommittee would be the end of social security and medicare as we know it? Well, many pragmatists (like me) were trying to explain that the entire concept came about because Obama totally outmaneuvered the Republicans, forcing a deal that would result in precisely nothing, or at worse, massive cuts to defense tied to token cuts to the very wasteful medicare provider payments that no one likes anyway (and which are the source of most fraud and abuse), and some COLA tweaks that would get offset by many ACA provisions anyway.  And that’s precisely what seems likely to happen.

Don’t take my word for it. These folks say it better, and they have some credibility with the same people who spent the past 6 months telling you the world as your grandma knew it was about to end in a supercommittee apocalypse.

From EJ Dionne:

Here is a surefire way to cut $7.1 trillion from the deficit over the next decade. Do nothing.

That’s right. If Congress simply fails to act between now and Jan. 1, 2013, the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush expire, $1.2 trillion in additional budget cuts go through under the terms of last summer’s debt-ceiling deal, and a variety of other tax cuts also go away.

Read more 

New York Time’s Economist, Paul Krugman

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a complete turkey! It’s the supercommittee!

By next Wednesday, the so-called supercommittee, a bipartisan group of legislators, is supposed to reach an agreement on how to reduce future deficits. Barring an evil miracle — I’ll explain the evil part later — the committee will fail to meet that deadline.

If this news surprises you, you haven’t been paying attention. If it depresses you, cheer up: In this case, failure is good.

Read more

Or maybe they make a deal. That TOO will be a win…

@ThePeoplesView explains:

Just as We Thought: Debt Deal Forcing Tax Revenue Increases

You might have noticed that lately, the Supercommittee in Congress, charged with reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion or face the country with huge automatic cuts to defense and entitlement provider payments, has been a subject of buzz. That’s because the deadline for the supercommittee to reach a deal and vote on it is exactly one week away. Something interesting is happening: Republicans are still by and large opposed to tax revenue increases in any significant way, but they offered, as the opening offer, a $300 billion increase in tax revenue by closing some loopholes for the top income earners. Sen. Pat Toomey, the super anti-tax, anti-government Republican even suggested a similar plan while lowering the overall top rate from 35 to 28 percent.

From Ezra Klein

In the past, I’ve talked about the “do-nothing plan” for deficit reduction: Congress heads home to spend more time with their campaign contributors, and the Bush tax cuts automatically expire, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act’s scheduled Medicare cuts kick in, the Affordable Care Act is implemented, and the budget moves roughly into balance. It’s not an ideal way to balance the budget, but it helps clarify that the deficit is the result of votes Congress expects to cast over the next few years. If, instead of casting those votes, they do nothing, or pay for the things they choose to do, the deficit mostly disappears.

Read more

So in closing…

Can we please remember that some liberals are sincere in wanting to “push Obama and Democrats to the Left.” But far more of them have been dedicated to stylish shredding of this administration, no matter how shrewdly they calculate or negotiate.

The left is its own worst enemy. We’ve allowed the same minority of perpetual Democrat-haters who have pissed on every Democratic president since FDR to poison the national progressive mood at precisely the time we need it to be most hopeful and engaged. It was a big factor in losing the House in 2010, and may well cost us the Senate and White House in 2012. And that would be a calamity on a global scale.

But perhaps this new development will discredit a few more of the left’s own version of Safire’s nattering nabobs of negativity, and we can get back to finding ways to save those institutions and keep the Republican criminals from driving America further into this very deep and depressing ditch.

See Also

 

 

See Updates at bottom

There I was, out enjoying some well deserved sunshine on a lovely South Florida Memorial Day weekend, when, against my better judgment, I happened to peek at my Twitter timeline appearing on my ever-present Android mobile phone. Prominently littering my stream were many tweets from one David M. House (aka @axiarch), the semi-famous Boston attention hound from Alabama who masks his accent with a Charles Emerson Winchester affectation.

House was busy thinking he was “outing” my identity on Twitter.  As I will get to in a moment, this happens fairly often on Twitter, but before we go there, let me give you some pertinent background on House, and myself (sort of).

Background on David Maurice House

This is the same opportunistic operator, and self-styled “hacker” who knew Pfc. Bradley Manning for about 15 minutes during  a party in Boston, and upon hearing he was arrested in the Wikileaks saga, cleverly recognized a gravy train when he saw one.

With travel funds from an unspecified source, he made the long journey to visit Manning about 8 or so different times at the Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia. Returning from one such visit, he told any blogger or media outlet that would listen that his dear friend “Brod-lee” (apply  Brahmin accent from Beacon Hill here liberally), who was once such a charming, alert, and intelligent “fellohhh,” was now nearly “catatonic” as the result of relentless and inhuman torture he was receiving at the hands of his Quantico guards, according to his accounts, and those told by Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald, and House’s co-bloggers at Fire Dog Lake.  This was a very interesting professional diagnosis coming from a computer programmer with—according to renowned hacker and co-wikileaks celebrity, Adrian Lamo—only limited computer talents, and of course, no medical degree.

It was House’s (clearly coached) diagnosis that was widely blogged by Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher’s Firedoglake, that was mostly used to catapult the “torture” meme into and around the global Internet and media blatherspaces. And it happened with barely a single serious effort to confirm or validate much of anything that was claimed. Virtually all of the “Manning torture” hysteria was based on the specious, totally undocumented stories of two bloggers, and this unverified, anecdotal medical “evidence” from Dr. David House. It was ludicrous, and remains an indictment of a global media that is content to just take dictation from bloggers, because it’s much cheaper than covering a hot story themselves.

House’s trips to see Manning unceremoniously ended when Manning’s father, Brian Manning, and evidently Manning himself, were sickened by the relentless ways that House was using Manning’s incarceration to promote himself, and I suppose  whatever book and movie deals he felt were waiting for him at the end of his 15 minutes of lame.

You can see this in a PBS Frontline Chat, down around the 2-minute mark:

2:02 Comment From David House
This is David House. You say I was using Bradley for 15 minutes of fame… this is very hurtful and surprising to hear. In earnest, on what basis do you make the remark?

2:03 Brian Manning:
Please clean your own house. Bradley told us. If you do not believe me ask him!

Oh snap! “Ask him.” Well, he may not be able to do that for awhile, but you can be sure we’ll hear more about that soon from Manning himself in some future letter or statement.

As I once predicted after only the most modest investigations of Manning’s reported “torture,” the layers of hyperbole and bullshit surrounding Manning would eventually unravel, and it would embarrass a lot of people.  That’s just now starting with David House. I remain confident that before this is over, he will be exposed as the pretentious operator who jumped on Manning and rode that pony for all the mileage he could get out of it.

Since that bit of opportunistic wanderlust is coming to an end, House has now moved on, probably again with Greenwald’s help (but I can’t say for sure), to file a lawsuit against the government with the assistance of the ACLU. They are protesting the “seizure” of his laptop at an airport last year, when the Government was clearly interested in finding out who helped Manning. I think House forgot to check the security rules at the airport, because they can do almost anything they wish with what you choose to bring through security.

Ok, so much for the background on House. Now a bit about me.

Background on Shoq and his damned “anonymity.”

It should come as no surprise to my Twitter stream that I prefer to tweet anonymously. I have several reasons for choosing to do that. The two most important of them are these:

  1. First and foremost is the security of my aging mother who, thanks to my political nature, has been relentlessly harassed in the past. But it’s also for the sake of my brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, partners, friends, and acquaintances who have a constitutional right to privacy, or at least a moral right to not be annoyed or harassed because some guy with a cat avatar likes to piss on Republicans, conservatives, pretentious phonies, or plain old crappy bloggers in cyberspace.
  2. Secondly, way back in the AOL days, CEO Steve Case took a lot of grief of allowing “screen names” and allowing identities to be anonymous. He defended his decision because he believed that without anonymity, people would not be free to speak their mind politically for fear of reprisals from employers, churches, friends, etc. And as digital information sharing in the medical and insurance community was only recently becoming common, he also felt that any such medical issues should be openly discussable without fear of insurance companies, familes, or employers learning of it.

In my view, Steve Case was exactly right on both counts.To this day, I have many close friends who say they wish that they had kept at least one online persona anonymous so they were free to speak politically, or personally, without fear of their words showing up at the office the next morning—or in the NY Times.

I could spend 10,000 words on this topic, or you could Google for literally millions of discussions on it. You can even read what I’ve written about my choice to be anonymous right here on this very blog. To make it easy for you, I’ll even give you this link to that discussion.  Regardless of your own views on the subject of anonymity on the Internet, in the end, we all choose our paths, and mine was to remain anonymous. I don’t really owe anyone an explanation for that. So long as I am not breaking any laws, misleading, nor harming anyone, my identity online should be my business.

I am not alone. Whether we consider the noted bloggers, @Digby56, @Atrios and @mudflats (legends in the progressive space who were once anonymous), Mark Twain, Publius, or the more typical twitter personalities, such as the anonymous Gottalaff, I am hardly the first person to choose anonymity in the entire running history of on or offline social spaces.

If you don’t like my choice to be anonymous, the simple solution is to just not follow me, block me, and ignore me whenever you see me. It’s just that simple. And some do choose that path, and I would never contest their right to do so. But for thousands of others who choose otherwise, they see my “identity” as that which I have tweeted or blogged under quite consistently for many years, and am quite protective of my virtual reputation.

Now, if you don’t think there’s a reputation worth protecting in that history, you either haven’t been online very long, or have virtually no need or desire for people to trust you.  I have both that need and that desire, so I am quite conscientious about how my “Shoq” persona behaves publicly and privately. At times he can be just as thoughtful, kind, helpful, rambunctious, annoying, condescending, insightful, defensive, inspiring, sexy, tiring, insipid, hilarious, tedious, or as just plain dull as almost anyone else on the Internet.  That is who he actually “is” on the Internet. Who he actually is in real life  (IRL) is not really relevant. What he looks like, what he wears, his place of residence, who he works for, whom he falls in love with or sleeps with at night¸ are all absolutely immaterial to that defined persona which so many have come to know in that far reaching identity-space called the Interwebs. It may not always be so, but it is now.

For almost two decades now, I have concealed my actual identity, using a variety of planted names, pseudonyms, account IDs, avatars, etc. Every few months, some new rocket scientist discovers one—-or is directed to one—and they scream “Eureka! I’ve got that damn cat by the tail at last.” When they finally recover from their orgasmic frenzy, they rush off to tell all their friends, pat themselves on the back, and then tweet a frenzy of self-congratulatory reverie, as David House (aka @locklean) can be seen doing here, just today:

http://twitter.com/#!/lockean/status/74909129482838016
http://twitter.com/#!/lockean/status/73849578465665024

Now, as I have blogged and tweeted, House is not the brightest LED on the panel. So, given a bit of bad information from any one of hundreds of conservatives that had it, he might have spent even a few minutes asking around. He would have discovered that this same bogus account (which, amusingly enough is not even one of the many decoy accounts I’ve created, but just the handiwork of some random conservative dolt who  planted the account himself based on a tip he received from someone else that was wrong earlier) is just one of many names that have been traveling around the #TCOT and #P2 communities on Twitter since mid-2009.

Had Dr. House been a wee bit sharper, and done just the teensiest bit of research, he would have found this tweet way, way back in January of 2011, which was proffered by me when his quasi-boss, Jane Hamsher came up with the exact some bad information, as I had chronicled in this lengthy screed, which continues to haunt her and her staff to this very day.

So Dr. House, like many before him, thinks he has “outed me,” and in so doing, only outed himself as a petty, venal, churlish little man who seeks to  win arguments not with facts or merits, but with intimidation, disparagement, or or whatever other bullying tactics he feels might work.

Unfortunately for the good doctor, he’s about the 50th person to use the same bad information, and as such, must go to sleep tonight with the sad realization that he’s not pulled the mask off the Dread Pirate Roberts after all. But even if he had, the blackguard would never admit it. But as important, none of his many friends would tell you either. In fact, most of his enemies wouldn’t tell you either.

Why wouldn’t people reveal Shoq if they knew?

The short answer is because it looks really bad for them to do that. What would be their motive, their own friends and associates might ask?  Are they trying to intimidate Shoq? To embarrass him? To ruin his career? To drive him from cyberspace? To do the very thing he remains anonymous to prevent?

Are they trying to keep him from speaking his own brand of truth to power?  Are they trying to deflect from whatever questions he asks about them or their activities or positions?  What exactly has this Shoq done but offer his opinions online, as millions of others do every day? Why would they be stupid enough to risk violating someone’s trust by exposing his personal information, just because someone else was mad at him for an opinion?  Would it be a random act of pettiness, a professional character assassination, or just a blatant act of nastiness that made them feel good?

Whatever their motive, they would need to explain it, and explain it well. They would have to explain to their friends, family, co-workers,and Twitter streams, and do it in such a way that those people would understand the motive, and later be comfortable knowing that the same fate might await their own private and personal information.

No, as Jane Hamsher learned, even threatening to “out” people’s identities is almost always seen as the worst kind of unethical dirty trick, most often performed by Right wing operatives for whom ethics always takes a back seat to strategic objective. But the Right wing lives in a cultural cesspool of such nastiness, and many actually take pride in the unctuous skullduggery

On the left, however, such depraved character demonstrations are not only frowned upon, but often seen as a stake through the heart of one’s own credibility. The people with character, protective of their own reputations, just don’t do it.

Updates

Related

 

There is a lot of misinformation going around the social media space about whether President Obama (who resisted being pulled into this Libyan conflict), is legally allowed to commit U.S. Military forces to the conflict without the authorization of the United States Congress. 

While I would welcome any input that corrects my understanding, it is currently that he is absolutely and unambiguously allowed to do so.  Why? Because of our well over half-century old agreement with the United Nations which requires such a commitment of armed forces from its Member nations when requested by the Security Council under Chapter XVII of its charter. While a number of pertinent Articles exist in that chapter, the meat and potatoes of the chapter, insofar as Member's armed forces are concerned, is this one:

Chapter VII, Article 42 reads (in its entirety):

Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

Source: United Nations Charter

Basically, this says that if the non-military efforts of the previous Article (41) are ineffective or not viable, the Security Council may ask its members for additional armed forces to perform whatever military actions or operations its commanders deem necessary to secure peace and security or restore order under the dictates of the resolution.

Now the UN charter's Article 43 also requires that each Member nation ratify this mandate according to their constitutional processes. This has been done by an action of U.S. Congress, and is reflected in:

US CODE > TITLE 22 > CHAPTER 7 > SUBCHAPTER XVI >  287d

The current edition of the U.S. code was published in 2006.

Use of armed forces; limitations — The President is authorized to negotiate a special agreement or agreements with the Security Council which shall be subject to the approval of the Congress by appropriate Act or joint resolution, providing for the numbers and types of armed forces, their degree of readiness and general location, and the nature of facilities and assistance, including rights of passage, to be made available to the Security Council on its call for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security in accordance with article 43 of said Charter.

The President shall not be deemed to require the authorization of the Congress to make available to the Security Council on its call in order to take action under article 42 of said Charter and pursuant to such special agreement or agreements the armed forces, facilities, or assistance provided for therein: Provided, That, except as authorized in section 287d–1 of this title, nothing herein contained shall be construed as an authorization to the President by the Congress to make available to the Security Council for such purpose armed forces, facilities, or assistance in addition to the forces, facilities, and assistance provided for in such special agreement or agreements.

Source: Cornell School of Law

In Conclusion

You can argue about how far the United States might or should go in complying with United Nations' resolutions, and that's a valid argument to have.  Conservatives, isolationists and libertarians have been making it for years. 

You might also argue that the U.S. Constitution, under Article 1, Section 8 grants congress the exclusive right to make war. But subsequent law, embodied in Title 22 above, obviously override this with respect to treaties and agreements already signed into law (i.e. the UN charter).  And even if that were not so, the complexities of the modern era, International Law, the War Powers Resolution of 1973, all suggest that we've had to push the working definitions of "war" and "authorization" a bit. 

It might behoove us—after we dispatch the right wing coup that currently threatens our nation—to amend the constitution, or otherwise clarify these murky issues so that future generations are not constantly preoccupied with their complex and arcane legalities, each and every time the use of military force should arise.

Related

  • United Nations' Persian Gulf Resolution, which did NOT specifically stipulate call its members under UN Chapter VII (above), and thus, Congressional approval WAS required for U.S. Military action
  • United Nations'_Security_Council_Resolution_1441, authorizing the disarmament of Iraq, where again, Chapter VII (above) was not invoked, and thus, U.S. Congressional approval once again, WAS required.  (This was the famous "Use of Force" resolution that so many Democrats joined Republicans in signing, which was and remains a massive disappointment to the left (and this author) to this very day.