WWII, Cold War, War on Terror, leadership styles

FDR: Oh, I’m sorry, was wiping out our entire Pacific fleet supposed to intimidate us? We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and right now we’re coming to kick your ass with brand new destroyers riveted by waitresses. How’s that going to feel?

CHURCHILL: Yeah, you keep bombing us. We’ll be in the pub, flipping you off. I’m slapping Rolls-Royce engines into untested flying coffins to knock you out of the skies, and then I’m sending angry Welshmen to burn your country from the Rhine to the Polish border.

JFK: You’re going to put nukes where? I don’t fucking think so.

REAGAN: Okay commrade, you’ve gone and built enough nuclear weapons to radiate the world. You have spies stealing state secrets and minions spreading ideology from one continent to the next. But. ummm, I’m sorry red, you still don’t get it. You’re the evil empire but that doesn’t scare us, we have faith in our system of government, in our people. Sit down with us – negotiate – or show the world the coward you are. Don’t even think of attacking us. Put down your guns. Wage peace while you have the chance. Tear down this wall.

US. NOW: BE AFRAID!! Oh God, the Brown Bad people could strike any moment! They could strike … NOW!! AHHHH. Okay, how about .. NOW!! AAGAGAHAHAHHAG! Quick, do whatever we tell you, and believe whatever we tell you, or YOU WILL BE KILLED BY BROWN PEOPLE!! PUT DOWN THAT SIPPY CUP!!

WE GOTTA PUT UP SOME WALLS! HURRY! Anything that stands in our way is pre-9/11 thinking, including that document interpreted by activist judges (I think that’s called the Constitution, damned liberals).


The previous is an expanded take on the brilliant “Wait, Aren’t You Scared?” by John Rogers and “Fear itself” by slacktivist. Make sure to read both.


Politics is an on again, off again subject here, but like Rafe, I found I couldn’t help myself. “How can people not get it?” I don’t know man. I don’t know.

Call, say, or do something

I can’t help but begin to think my generation, and the boomer generation that has preceded it, has failed our children, and their children. We build castles in the sky while our foundations beneath our feet become quicksand.

For all our connective technology, are we going to leave the world less free, more uncertain, and divided unlike ever before?

NYTimes: Antiterrorism Bill on Detainees, Geneva Conventions – Rushing Off a Cliff:

Last week, the White House and three Republican senators announced a terrible deal on this legislation that gave Mr. Bush most of what he wanted, including a blanket waiver for crimes Americans may have committed in the service of his antiterrorism policies. Then Vice President Dick Cheney and his willing lawmakers rewrote the rest of the measure so that it would give Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error.

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

•There is not enough time to fix these bills, especially since the few Republicans who call themselves moderates have been whipped into line, and the Democratic leadership in the Senate seems to have misplaced its spine. If there was ever a moment for a filibuster, this was it.

We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

It’s not too late to call. Susie Madrak has some instructions for who and how and Matt Stoller at MyDD has some political analysis of the fallout here.

In 6th grade, I was Rod Serling

My 6th grade teacher, Mr. Crell, had a yearly tradition where he’d produce a video, by his students, for the entire school. A play or short story would be chosen that his class would act out and he would direct. My class got the educational experience of putting together a production of a Twilight Zone episode titled “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”.

After watching the original, we had a discussion over some of its themes, how they might apply in our lives, and they reflected on our country’s history. The take away was that fear and paranoia were dangerous, and could be used to manipulate us. I had the honor of playing Rod Serling. Honestly, I probably got the part because I didn’t want to be on camera all that much, and I spoke very clear and deliberate back then, in an effort to overcome a speech impediment.

Like Pax it was a small pleasure hearing it referenced in one of Keith Olbermann’s commentaries last week. This one, particularly impassioned, having to do with 9/11’s fifth anniversary. It fit well. Sadly.

If you haven’t watched yet, well just take a few minutes.

On yesterday’s local craziness

Philly.com: Center City shaken:

A fire in an underground electric cable yesterday spewed smoke, ignited gases that blew manhole covers into the air, and forced the evacuation of about 5,000 workers from two office towers near City Hall.

The ripple effect of the lunchtime drama snarled traffic in Center City and threatened to disrupt the evening rush hour.

But the fire was put out by 3, and power was quickly restored to most of the buildings in the area bounded by 15th and 16th Streets and Market and Chestnut Streets.

Livia was in the area and posted some shots on Flickr.

Whadda day.

Explosions near 15th and Market Philadelphia cause evacuations in a number of office buildings

Occupants of the office building I work in were evacuated today as underground explosions shook our building and the surrounding neighborhood.

Around 1pm today, a few co-workers and I were giving a send-off, at Nodding Head, to a co-worker who is moving, when a powerful rumble vibrated the building for a split second. It sounded low and deep. At that time, we thought it was an accident involving heavy construction equipment, but as we approached 15th and Chestnut St., it became clear something was very, very wrong.

People were standing looking up. Others were talking of a car explosion nearby. We saw co-workers walking away from our office building. Thoughts of 9/11, of terrorism weighed on my heart. And judging from conversations I could over hear, I wasn’t alone.

We traveled up Chestnut to 16th, thinking we could get close to our building from the back. But when we arrived, we found a group of fellow co-workers across the street, outside One Liberty Place. They explained they heard and felt an explosion, and saw smoke from the building windows.

I made a quick call to my wife, to let her know what was going on, and that I was okay. Shortly after there was a bright flash of flame and loud thump as an explosion happened up Ranstead, towards 15th, underneath East Tower – right in front of us. I mentioned to my friends that it was time to leave, and that walking straight to the Parkway was our best bet. A short time later a few other co-workers joined us near JFK Blvd., mentioned that the building was shut down for the night, that we could go home.

I had an urge to stick around, but anything that I could have used to record events was still stuck in the building. So I took the first train out of there and headed home.

CBS3 has video and more information. Philly.com‘s story has a picture of the street we were looking down when we saw what we thought was the second explosion. More pictures and info at KYW1060.

Crossposted from Philly Future.

Ed Cone: “What’s the deal with Philly?”

Hehe. That’s Ed Cone sharing the news about the Daily News’s Wendy Warren joining the Inquirer’s Daniel Rubin, participating at ConvergeSouth. It already looks to be an interesting gathering, one that I want to make if fates permit.

Speaking of Philly, did you know that YearlyKos might choose our town for the location of next year’s convention?

I can’t explain why Philly has such a preponderance of great, nationally known bloggers, but we do, that’s for sure. Maybe it’s the cheesesteaks or water ice? Maybe it’s old Ben’s legacy. The great blogosphere here, and the new local ownership of our two big papers might herald a new age for media, communications, and civic involvement (yes civic involvement). Check out The Next Mayor or Young Philly Politics.

Speaking of Philly being a great place to blog, and while there’s no denying that Philadelphia is facing some huge challenges, it truly is a great place to live and work. Comcast is hiring.

NewAssignment.net is looking to hire an editor

Reuters has donated $100,000 to NewAssignment.Net, enabling it to hire its first editor. Jay Rosen:

It’s going to be a fun job. This is editing horizontally amid journalism gone pro-am. The idea is to draw “smart crowds” – a group of people configured to share intelligence – into collaboration at NewAssignment.Net and get stories done that way that aren’t getting done now. By pooling their intelligence and dividing up the work, a network of volunteer users can find things out that the larger public needs to know. I think that’s most likely to happen in collaboration with editors and reporters who are paid to meet deadines, and to set a consistent standard. Which is the “pro-am” part.

NewAssignment.Net is a not a plan for a company; in fact, it’s closer to a charity, an editorial engine anchored in civil society itself, rather than the media industry or journalism profession. As today’s announcement shows, New Assignment can be on friendly terms with Big Media, which it is is not trying to destroy or supplant.

Read the rest of Jay Rosen’s thoughts about the development over at Comment is free.

Comcast’s The Fan wins People’s Choice award at Flashforward

I work with the team that develops The Fan and I just wanted to take a second to congratulate my co-workers on winning.

For Arpit, it marks a nice full circle in his life. The team deserves the all the accolades it gets. I’m honored to work with the very, very talented team that I do.

Congrats and kick ass 🙂