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'Work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation.' Alasdair Gray

Welcome to The NeoProgressive, where people of all political persuasions can debate vigorously within a framework of basic American values and mutual respect -- NeoProgressivism.

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(NeoProgBlog, The Neoprogressive, The Neoprogressive Magazine, and original material © 2005, 2006.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A NeoProgressive Philosophy, Collated

On my other blog, a reader asked what should have been a simple question: Can you point me to a site that outlines what a progressive agenda would look like? One that is left of where the dem party is now, but right of the Green party?

I'd like to think that this blog fills that order, but I haven't yet gotten around to trying to put all the pieces of the NeoProgressive philosophy together in one place. Certainly not one single post or essay -- it would be a book (which, someday, I intend to turn this blog into).

But at the very least, I was able to surf all the posts on this site and identify the ones that, taken together, lay out the basics of such a philosophy. So, I did that; a list of those links is below.

I also referred my reader to three books that lay out a progressive-left agenda. These won't satisfy conservative neoprogs, but they still fall within the parameters of the broader Neoprogressive idea (in other words, they're left-progressive, while other people are right-progressive, but they're still progressive rather than extremist or radical). They are: James Carville's "We're Right, They're Wrong" (fairly short, political philosophy peppered with some good Cajun recipes); Jimmy Carter's new "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis"; and the late Sen. Paul Wellstone's "The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda".

This blog, of course, tries to point to a middle way -- an American way that's neither liberal nor conservative but sets moral, good-government ground rules within which those two camps can do honorable battle. Along those lines, I offer a ridiculous number of links to individual posts from this site that, taken together, lay out what I consider to be a good neoprogressive philosophy:

Welcome to the NeoProgBlog

On the Proper Role of Government in a Democratic Society

A Neoprogressive Approach to the Abortion Debate

The War on Christmas

Alito and the Slippery Slope to Totalitarianism

Can't Have DemocracyWithout Knowing the Facts

Watching the Watchers: A Good Journalist Keeps Digging...

Fans of Good Government: A Good Day

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? (Iraq)

Mine Safety

But It's Just a SMALL Hole in the Dike, Right? (Economics and Foreign Trade)

Mind-Numbing Stuff About the Fed, Money Supply, M3, and the Possible End of the World As We Know It

Gozar's Coming Ho-ome! (A soldier comes home.)

Trustbusting in the Modern Era: Not?

Alito Clearly Opposes Roe v. Wade. Why Can't He Say So, And Let the Chips Fall Where They May?

A Tale of Two Nations

Tom Delay and the Ungrateful Gerrymander

Profiles in Cowardice

How To Fail in Government Without Really Trying

Science in the Vatican

How to Fail in Government, Mental Health Edition

Yet Another "Texas Model" Federal Education Program. Yikes.

In 2002, the White House Said It Didn't Need FISA Standards Lowered -- That Existing Law Was Just Fine, Thank You.

Things Change, But the Constitution Abides

"Checks and Balances. How Quaint!"

Now HERE'S What I'm Talkin' 'Bout: Pete McCloskey

Former Reagan Official on What's Conservative...

Links Resources: The Mishandling of Iraq

That's a lot, but it covers the waterfront, from journalism to fiscal responsibility to national security and supporting the troops to religion to economics to abortion. At least it gives an overview of how one Progressive thinks about these issues, and tries to put them into the context of basic American values.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Links Resource: The Mishandling of Iraq

Last Updated: April 10, 2006
When my pro-war friends ask why I think the war was disingenuously sold to the American people, and why I think it's being mishandled, I tend to rub my eyes in disbelief; it seems so obvious to me. But then, I tend to obsess on blogs, rss feeds, news sites, etc. Thankfully for the national economy, not everyone does.

Rather than attempt piecemeal explanations, it seems like a good idea for me to assemble some key documents in one place. Below are links to some good, "overview" type documents that help explain my conclusions that the Iraq War is a solution that is far, far worse than any problem Iraq posed before the war, and that the Administration is culpable for how it handled both the runup to war and the war itself. Of course, there are many more pieces to this puzzle, but this is a good "this is a football"-type beginning.

So: Want to know why I think what I think? Click away, and please keep an open mind.

Did the Administration cook the intel? In what way? Wasn't it really the CIA's fault?

Hersh, Selective Intelligence

Downing Street Minutes

But the Senate had the same intelligence the President did, and they voted for the war!

Nonpartisan Congressional Research Service memo on Congress' relative access to intel

Is the War Really Going So Badly? Why? Why Is The Iraqi Army Taking so Long To Come Up to Speed?

William F. Buckley, U.S. Has Failed in Iraq

Fallows, Blind Into Baghdad

Fallows, Why Iraq Has No Army

The Cost of War

NEJM Caring for the Wounded, A Photoessay

$1-2 Trillion Long-Term

Secret Pentagon Study: 80% of Upper Body Fatalities Would Have Been Avoided With Better, Readily Available Armor

Army Stretched to Breaking Point

Security chief says Israel may come to miss Saddam compared to Iraq now

Let's Just Do What the Troops Want Us To, How's That?

72% of Troops In Iraq Want to Come Home Within Year; 90% Believe War Is Retaliation for Saddam's Role in 9-11.

Bush on March 20, 2006: "I don't think we ever said... there was a direct connection between September the 11th and Saddam Hussein."

The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq... in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Originally posted: Nov. 28, 2005, and subsequently updated.
link link link link

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More on how NSA spying hurts us in the War On Terror

Convicted terrorism plotter seeks dismissal of charges because conviction was based on warrantless NSA wiretaps:

An Ohio truck driver who pleaded guilty in a terrorist plot to attack Washington and New York yesterday urged a judge to throw out his plea, in part because he was spied on through President Bush's controversial warrantless eavesdropping program.

Iyman Faris argued that the surveillance violated his rights because it was illegal and that the government therefore could not use it to build a case against him.

When you get evidence against criminals by spying on them without a warrant, courts label it "fruit from a poisoned tree" and exclude it from evidence. If poisoned evidence was used to obtain your conviction, that conviction is overturned. If you want to put bad guys in jail and keep them there, you make damn sure all your evidence was constitutionally obtained.

I've prosecuted criminals; I know this. George W. Bush was rejected by a Texas law school and went to Biz School instead, so apparently he does not. Gonzalez, of course, has no excuse.

The Fall of the Fourth Estate, Part 1,296:


At least three reporters involved in an October 2003 Time magazine article that suggested Karl Rove was no longer under suspicion of outing Valerie Plame, and that contained Scott McClellan's denial that Rove was involved, knew at the time of the article that Rove had, in fact, outed Plame.

Public relations people spread a message without caring about its truth or falsity. Journalists dig until they learn the truth about a situation, then publicize it to the broader public to enable us to engage in informed democracy. We live in an age of PR flacks posing as journalists.

I don't subscribe to Time, btw.

Former Reagan Official on What's Conservative...

... and what's not, and the ground that real Americans should be fighting over, and the ground they should not.


This Is Not How Great Nations, or Great Statesmen, Act

Guantanamo, the War on Terror, and White House credibility:

Who's Really in Guantanamo

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Now HERE'S What I'm Talkin' 'Bout: Pete McCloskey

Pete McCloskey is a progressive Republican running against incumbent Richard Pombo, as low-down dirty crooked and antiprogressive a guy as Congress has ever seen, in California's 11th District. McCloskey is a classic California progressive, and one I'd love to see elected. My fuller take on McCloskey can be found here, in a parallel universe, but the important thing is to visit McCloskey's website here.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

"Checks and Balances. How Quaint!"

Civics lesson: Congress passes laws. The Executive Branch executes the laws (that's why it's named that). There's a feedback loop, in that Congress then has the power and duty to exercise oversight over whether those laws are being faithfully executed. The mutual jealousies between the branches keep either one from grabbing too much power. James Madison, Federalist Papers, all that stuff. Basic.

Congress passes a law empowering the Executive Branch to do unprecedented levels of spying on Americans thought to be trafficking with terrorists and foreign spies. The law sets up a secret court to authorize special warrants in those cases without delay and without compromising national security, but it makes any such spying WITHOUT one of those warrants a federal crime. A President signs that legislation into law. Several Presidents abide by it. Congress amends it to make it even more powerful. Another President signs that. More compliance. Lots of spying takes place.

9-11 happens. Congress asks the White House whether it needs the law made even more powerful. The White House says, "no thank you, it's working very well just the way it is, and besides, if it were broader it might be unconstitutional." (Which makes sense, because it IS a broad law already, and even in dangerous times the Constitution remains in force).

And, all the while, the White House knows full well that it's ignoring the law altogether, and wiretapping hundreds of thousands or even millions of Americans without any warrants at all, even secret ones.

What's a responsible Congress to do? Why, exercise oversight, of course! Find out what the hell's up, bless it if it's lawful, rein it in if it's not. Balance of powers, mutual jealousies, James Madison, Federalist Papers, all that stuff. Basic. Right?

Right. One day after the most pro-executive-power justice in modern history is sworn onto the Supreme Court, the White House tells Congress to screw off: it won't produce the documents behind its illegal decision to surveil Americans without warrants.

If the Founders shared one belief, it was this: that the accretion of power in a single Executive without meaningful checks posed THE greatest danger to the Republic. They had studied the failure of the Athenian democracy and the rise of the Roman Caesars, and they had lived under the careless hand of an uncaring monarch. And this -- this moderately paced but inexorable accumulation of power by an unaccountable executive -- was the foremost evil the Constitution sought to avoid.

Bad thing. If Congress doesn't do its job and force a showdown over these papers, WITHOUT recourse to an increasingly partisan and unreliable Supreme Court, then we need to replace the Congress. It's not a matter of politics, it's a matter of courage, and a matter of preserving the Republic.

Ask James Madison. He'll tell you.

Oh, And While We're Screwing Things Up, Can We Waste Money, Too?

Above: a guard with $58 million in cash that our government gave to a convicted felon to disburse in Iraq for rebuilding.

This one speaks for itself:

Robert J. Stein Jr. could not have been clearer about his feelings toward the American businessman who was receiving millions of dollars in contracts from Mr. Stein to build a major police academy and other reconstruction projects in Iraq.

"I love to give you money," Mr. Stein wrote in an e-mail message to the businessman, Philip H. Bloom, on Jan. 3, 2004, just as the United States was trying to ramp up its rebuilding program in Iraq.

As it turned out, Mr. Stein had the money to give. Despite a prior conviction on felony fraud that his Pentagon background check apparently missed, Mr. Stein was hired and put in charge of at least $82 million of reconstruction money in the south central Iraqi city of Hilla by the Coalition Provisional Authority, the American-led administration that was then running Iraq.

Might some of that money been better spent at home, where we just cut $39.5 billion from programs that help the least among us, including students, the disabled, and the elderly?

Or even, say, actually rebuilding Iraq, so its people don't want to kill our kids quite so much?

Just asking.

Neutral GAO Report: "No One In Charge" of Fed Effort in Katrina

Broken record here, but as I keep saying: Conservatives oppose big government. Liberals oppose bad government. Bush is giving us big bad government. And incompetence is something no American -- lib or con -- should tolerate in the government that serves it. It's the primary NeoProg plank, at least these days, when incompetence is so common.

So more fuel on the fire: a Government Accountability Office report criticizing the federal response to Katrina (which puts the lie to the Administration's efforts, just yesterday during Congressional hearings, to put the main blame on the (Democratic, of course) New Orleans and Louisiana governments).


No one from the federal government was clearly in charge of the response to Hurricane Katrina, Congressional investigators said Wednesday, and in the absence of clear leadership the general federal approach was "to wait for affected states to request assistance."

In a preliminary report, the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, criticized Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, for waiting until Tuesday, the day after the storm hit, to designate Hurricane Katrina an "incident of national significance," a status that more clearly put his department in charge.