Schrei vs Grunfeld

Josh Schrei takes on comments of China apologist Tom Grunfeld and really lays the smackdown. Schrei’s writing is a phenomenally clear rebuttal to the pro-colonialist arguments that because Tibet wasn’t, in fact, a Shangri La prior to China’s invasion in 1950, that Tibetans shouldn’t be able to ask for freedom and self-determination. Here’s an excerpt:

Tibet is a key issue for citizens of the world not, as Grunfeld would have us imagine, because of how it has been publicized. Its a key issue because it is an egregious example of colonialism and oppression which is still continuing unchecked today. Grunfeld and his cohorts can resort to any argument they can dig up or fabricate about ‘old Tibet.’ The current reality is that people in Tibet disappear for speaking their mind, monasteries are constantly under surveillance, prisoners are tortured, filmmakers are thrown in jail, protests are crushed, and an enduring colonial and racist mentality permeates all aspects of Sino-Tibetan relations.

Within this context, Grunfeld, like all good apologist/colonialist scholars, puts the blame and the burden on the oppressed people themselves. In this interview, Grunfeld seems to be saying to Tibetans and to the Dalai Lama:“If only you would acquiesce more, if only you wouldn’t publicize your issue so much, if only you would be more reasonable… then the hardliners wouldn’t have an excuse to be so nasty to you.”

The Patriot Act

Hey look, the Senate just passed another extension of the USA Patriot Act!

Considering this reauthorization was something that during the course of the FISA fight civil liberties activists were told would be an opportunity to restore the rule of law, this is really disheartening. Apparently the reason there were no improvements, revisions or increased safe guards was because Democrats wanted to have Republican support of the bill. Hence, nothing controversial.

You know we’re in trouble when bipartisan comity is more important the defending the Constitution.

Patience Doesn’t Yield Results

President Obama’s calculus “that by listening carefully and appealing to reason he can bring people together to get results” fundamentally fails to understand that Republicans will not do anything that they see politically benefiting Democrats.  The GOP is not a good faith partner. They do not want to pass comprehensive health care reform. Bringing them along for the ride only succeeds in watering down the quality of what legislation is finally put to a vote, while not garnering a single Republican supporter. The administration simply does not seem willing to get that the GOP is not a good faith partner in negotiation on any subject. Continuing to treat them as such will only lead to worse political and policy outcomes, which will be less appealing to the general public and less effective at achieving their goals. Bipartisanship is not an outcome that helps a single American. 

They Do What They Want

Duncan Black is 100% right. The White House has lead on health care reform to the place where they want to see the legislation being. That place does not include a public health insurance option because the White House does not want there to be one. They are not currently trying to get one and its absence from their proposal almost certainly assures that there will not be one. Duncan writes:

The White House released their health plan. It didn’t contain a public option. Their health plan didn’t have to be the final say, it could just be a negotiating document, but they didn’t even bother to put it in, to pretend they wanted it. Contra Ezra, they did lead, they expressed their preferences. They may or may not publicly beat back a public option if it shows any chance of being revived in the Senate, but they have made their desires known.

There isn’t just a lack of leadership for key progressive pieces from the White House in health care reform. It’s that they are actively support alternative positions to progressive reform, most clearly on the public option. This is most directly attributable to the fact that the White House does not want the same things the progressive activist base want.

Chinese Universities Tied to Google Hack, Chinese Military

This really shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s paying attention, but the New York Times is reporting that the attacks on Google, other American tech and defense companies, and activists working for human rights in China and Tibet have been tied to universities in China that maintain close working relationships with the Chinese military and government.

It’d be great if Chinese acts of cyber espionage and industrial espionage had the power to influence the course of talks between the US and Chinese governments in the same way as, say, President Obama’s decision to hold a brief meeting with the Dalai Lama. For now, that does not to seem to be the case.


Senator Scott Brown:

Newly-minted Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) appeared on Fox’s Neil Cavuto and showed none of the outrage and concern about terrorism that he exuded during his Senate election campaign. Asked for his reaction, Brown said he felt for the families, but quickly shrugged off the attack and transitioned to say that “people are frustrated” and “no one likes paying taxes.”

Weak Sauce

Apparently Dick Blumenthal thinks chickenshittery will save us all. Blumenthal is in line to be the Democratic Senate nominee in Connecticut, in a bid to replace the retiring Senator Chris Dodd. Despite being Connecticut’s Attorney General, Blumenthal has repeatedly made a big deal out of the fact that he thinks all terrorists should be tried in military tribunals and that the federal court system, which has convicted hundreds of terrorists already, is not the place to mete out justice.

Blumenthal is positioning himself to be the next Joe Lieberman. He is campaigning on his “independence” from the President and the Democratic Party. And he doesn’t think he’ll even want President Obama to campaign with him. Right – because cowering from your party and the people who believe the same things as you is a real sign of strength that will appeal to voters.

Perhaps most sickening is that Blumie thinks the lesson of Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts is that people think “Washington is broken” and as a result, he needs to run against it. If Blumenthal believes that, I have a Democratic Senate majority for him to join in 2010. Naturally, a college junior has better sense than a Democratic Senate  candidate, ““The lessons of Massachusetts are that people are looking for real leadership,” [Brian] Bills contended.” Bingo.

Democrats are in trouble, not because Obama is unpopular (he is popular) and not because Republicans are popular (they are as unpopular as ever). No, Democrats are in trouble because they internalize Republican talking points about them while college studnets are able to distinguish between GOP spin and existing political dynamics. Blumenthal’s stated campaign plan involves running away from his history as a Democrat, running away from the majority party, and running straight towards the Republican position on most issues we’ve seen him talk about so far. Republican Lite doesn’t sell. And the only benefit of Dick Blumenthal not getting this simple fact of American politics is that we won’t be stuck with Dick Blumenthal as a senator from Connecticut.