Change: Triangulation Becomes 11 Dimensional Chess

I watched with inappropriate amusement as Obama DOJ spokesman reporter Marc Ambinder relayed Glenn Greenwald's queries to anonymous Justice Dept officials. The upshot?

[T]he Obama Administration has no plans to do [renounce the expansive Bush view of the state secrets doctrine] formally. They're sensitive to the politics of the case, but they're not motivated by what civil libertarians may write on their blogs

(Emphasis supplied.) As I wrote earlier in a comment, "up yours" to the ACLU used to be known as "triangulation" when a certain William Jefferson Clinton did it. Today it is known as "11 dimensional chess." Another episode today demonstrates the transformation of "triangulation" into "11 dimensional chess:"

Sen. Tom Harkin, a liberal Democrat from Iowa, said fellow Democrats had surrendered too much in a bid to appease three moderate Republicans who can ensure passage in the Senate.

"I think our side gave in too much in order to appease a few people," he said in a hallway interview in the Capitol earlier on Wednesday. He said Democrats should have dared Republicans to filibuster and "see what the public outcry" would have been. "I think the people are getting shortchanged."

Imagine if Bill Clinton had capitulated like this to a Republican Congress in 1995? Or said "up yours" to the ACLU the way Obama did? Do you think the cries of "sellout" would be hard to find today? Me neither.

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    Instead, Harkin will be pointed out (5.00 / 5) (#1)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 04:50:56 PM EST
    as the unhappy liberal that proves the compromise caused pain for both sides. Never mind that his version of the bill would stand a better chance of actually working.

    Harkin for President (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 04:53:35 PM EST
    [he already has that Indianola Steak Fry going],or at least Sen. Majority Leader.

    I wanted Harkin for president (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Spamlet on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 04:59:51 PM EST
    in the 1992 primary before he dropped out. Wanted him then for the same reasons as now, but even more now.

    We are finally at a point (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:02:19 PM EST
    when conservative economic theories are proven to be literally bankrupt. Harkin should be at the height of his power.Instead he is pushed off the stage in favor of 'patriot' Susan Collins. Unbelievable.

    Is it Digby who is calling them (none / 0) (#17)
    by Teresa on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:38:26 PM EST
    Presidents Nelson and Collins?

    I wouldn't go that far. He said the in a few (5.00 / 3) (#29)
    by Teresa on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:37:29 PM EST
    weeks he will have a new program announced to help homeowners. We'll just have to wait and see.

    I will say "Worst Squandered Opportunity Ever" though.


    Yes (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by NJDem on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:51:33 PM EST
    I made the analogy of how Bush squandered the world's good will after 911.  

    Either way, on BTD's Carter/FDR test, right now he's reminding me much more of the former than latter...  



    Wonderful! (none / 0) (#52)
    by NYShooter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:49:32 PM EST
    Certainly, now Jamie Dimon will tell his legions of collectors and foreclosures (the number of which he doubled with the Tarp 1 money we "forced" down his throat) to "cool it" while waiting for the "foreclosure help" Bambi will announce......someday.

    Given that Obama's initial (none / 0) (#20)
    by dk on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:55:40 PM EST
    proposal was so close to what Nelson and Collins wanted, it doesn't seem necessary.

    Close. I think it was dday (none / 0) (#54)
    by jussumbody on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:57:17 PM EST
    who started that.

    Oh, yes, indeed! (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Radiowalla on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:11:31 PM EST
    I remember sending him $50 and then he dropped out.

    As I read your implication (none / 0) (#59)
    by Cream City on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:07:54 PM EST
    of a causation . . . if only you had sent him $100, he might not have dropped out and could be in the White House, leading on the stimulus bill, today.

    Hokay.  Just wanna know whom to blame if it all goes bad:  Radiowalla, the cheap one!


    I plead guilty as charged! nt (none / 0) (#80)
    by Radiowalla on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 12:08:21 AM EST
    What if WJC had not only capitulated (5.00 / 5) (#4)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 04:59:55 PM EST
    but actually went around the country drumming up support for a bill he hadn't even seen yet. Republican version? Fine! Just give me anything!

    I think the President left (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:10:59 PM EST
    D.C. so he could say, as he did in Elkhart:  what am I to do?  I'm just a lil ole outsider.  

    Do you get the idea (5.00 / 7) (#15)
    by robert72 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:16:16 PM EST
    that we are all on this plane that must make a dead-stick landing on the Hudson - and instead of competent Sully as pilot we have someone who stayed at the Holiday Inn last night?

    I keep thinking about that guy (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by joanneleon on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:23:22 PM EST
    who was a contractor who does work on schools, and how Obama told him all about the school construction work we're going to do with this stimulus.  He knew that the Senate was slashing it, but still he went on about the school improvements, not just paint, state of the art, etc.  Then he said something about getting that money back in the bill.  But today, clearly Pelosi was holding out for the school money and was told to let it go.  How much would you bet that Obama told her to pass it without the school money?

    Then again, maybe today's pushback by the House was all a fish story anyway.  I don't trust this Congress after the way they behaved for the past two years.  So much theatre.


    he also forgot to tell him that he (none / 0) (#81)
    by suzieg on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 05:16:32 AM EST
    took out the e-verify program from the stimulus bill and that he'll have to compete against cheap illegal labor for a job!

    I've been thinking the same thing (none / 0) (#82)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 08:14:47 AM EST
    especially on the construction jobs. This money had better be going to citizens and the verification of authorization to work in this country needs to be enforced for once! I wonder how many of the undocumented workers who were here for the housing construction jobs went home, and how many went on unemployment and welfare.

    It's called (5.00 / 2) (#53)
    by NYShooter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:55:41 PM EST
    a learning curve.

    I'm sure the parents of children crying at the sight of the auctioneers arriving at their house, once their home, will explain to them how "judgement" is better than "experience" any day of the week.

    Experience is waaay overrated anyway.


    I hope no one is surprised by this (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Spamlet on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:01:36 PM EST

    No, but people ARE (none / 0) (#65)
    by weltec2 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:43:25 PM EST
    surprised by it. That is what is so amazing to me. The blog sphere is filled with people who are shocked... shocked to discover that Obama is a great speaker but a weak inexperienced politician. Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership knew it. That's why she and they put him in office.

    i agree about nancy (none / 0) (#69)
    by sancho on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:53:58 PM EST
    but i wonder if she will be surprised by the ease with which obama defers to the sage from Nebraska and his ilk. i think she may be.

    How can she be surprised? (none / 0) (#83)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 08:17:21 AM EST
    Wasn't she listening to his campaign? He never changed the message that he was in lock step with Hillary on almost everything, BUT HE would be able to reach across the aisle to get the parties together. He is obsessed with having to prove that now.

    with House and Senate Democratic majorities? (5.00 / 8) (#7)
    by souvarine on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:05:41 PM EST
    At least Clinton used his time with Democratic majorities to try to push through big Democratic change. He did not begin moderating until the Republicans took over.

    Obama is triangulating against strong Democratic majorities!

    conservative dems (none / 0) (#32)
    by souvarine on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:47:45 PM EST
    We had a hell of a lot more Dixiecrats in 1993. The 2009 Democratic caucus is much more liberal and disciplined than the 1993 caucus.

    Is there any reason harkin has to be (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by masslib on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:06:16 PM EST
    labeled "liberal"?  Wouldn't "Democrat" have done?  How about "wonkish Democrat", or "pragmatic Democrat"?  

    How about reclaiming the term "liberal"? (none / 0) (#9)
    by Spamlet on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:08:06 PM EST
    For liberals.

    Yada yada yada... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by masslib on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:11:15 PM EST
    Why do "progressives" call themselves that?  Because they want to shed "liberal".  I call myself masslib, clearly I don't have an issue with the word, but the media, I think, uses it to discount practical views toward policy.  

    Yes, they do (none / 0) (#30)
    by Spamlet on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:45:44 PM EST
    All the more reason to reclaim it, and now. This started with Bush I. The memory is from the 1988 campaign, but I can still hear him saying "liberal" with that lateral lisp of his, as though it were a dirty word.

    You're not, then, old enough (none / 0) (#36)
    by tokin librul on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:59:05 PM EST
    to recall the elections of '68 and '72 when 'liberal' became an epithet as well as an object of patronizing scorn.

    Actually, I am (none / 0) (#45)
    by Spamlet on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:28:28 PM EST
    but I don't recall "liberal" being used in just that way. What I remember from '68 is "law 'n' order," and from '72 I remember "Re-elect the President." But my impression, possibly wrong, is that Lee Atwater took the "liberal as dirty word" tactic to a whole new level. That, IIRC, is why Michael Dukakis said this in the second debate:

    I think we both have a responsibility to try to address the issues. Yes, we have fundamental differences. I think a great many of them have come out today. And I think if we get rid of the labels--and I'm not keeping count, but I think Mr. Bush has used the label "liberal" at least ten times. If I had a dollar, George, for every time you used that label, I'd qualify for one of those tax breaks for the rich that you want to give away.

    Say it correctly, please (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by NYShooter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:58:30 PM EST
    "CARD CARRYING Librul"

    Me too (none / 0) (#70)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:54:57 PM EST
    You have to say it with a sneer.

    I am a liberal (none / 0) (#76)
    by robert72 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:17:42 PM EST
    and very proud of it.
    But the 'progressive' title bothers me. Nobody really knows what it means. As an educator, 'progressive' education means highly educated people spouting gobblety-gook that has nothing to do with children learning - people who have something to sell that doesn't work but sounds oh-so-FABULOUS.
    Is it the same in politics??

    Cream City, (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by Spamlet on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:57:10 PM EST
    as a historian, has had some rather eye-opening things to say about the original Progressives of the early 20th century, iirc.

    Harkin probably calls himself liberal (none / 0) (#10)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:08:46 PM EST
    One of the few with the nerve anymore.

    "My informed guess ..." (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:33:55 PM EST
    This was my favorite phrase in Ambinder's piece.

    It was of course followed by a fantasy about how Obama will do something amazing at some unnamed time in the future.

    Because, you know, he's, like, awesome and stuff.

    But let us all remember the operative word in the phrase "informed guess" is not "informed."  

    Especially where Ambinder is concerned.

    My informed guess it that Obama (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:58:20 PM EST
    personally has little understanding of economics---not enough to make a judgment on the stimulus bill absent his advisers.
    Not such an unusual situation, to be sure, but surely there are other Democrats who are better equipt to handle these problems.

    My informed guess (5.00 / 2) (#62)
    by Pacific John on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:27:35 PM EST
    is that Obama just barely understands anything beyond what he's able to rhetorically craft for reporters.

    Richard Clarke recounts that he got into deep wonkish conversations about the galleys of an unpublished foreign policy book with WJC. Clarke was surprised that Bubba had any depth beyond what he could do in front of the cameras. We won't be getting those stories out of BHO. But he sure does sound pretty.


    Of course, (5.00 / 1) (#77)
    by robert72 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:25:24 PM EST
    Bubba WAS a Rhodes Scholar. Why was Clarke surprised?

    Krugman is to Obama (5.00 / 2) (#73)
    by weltec2 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:07:27 PM EST
    as Shinseki was to Bush. Both were experts in their field ignored by their less knowledgeable presidents.

    Power just seems so much (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:17:13 PM EST
    different and good when it's yours and not the other guy's.

    Really just too bad that our members of Congress couldn't muster enough spine to assert themselves in the name and cause of the current and future health and strength of a democracy and a Constitution that was designed to prevent the few from accumulating power at the expense of the many.

    Buy, hey, when we elect people who are as deficient in their knowledge of even fairly recent history as a House member currently in the news, why should we ever have expected more?


    Well, in this case the House (none / 0) (#27)
    by dk on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:29:00 PM EST
    actually tried to improve on the bad bill that Obama initially proposed (and was mostly able to recapture with the help of his compatriots Nelson and Collins).  So, this time I'm not certain we can fully blame the average House members.

    I was really speaking to the (none / 0) (#28)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:32:45 PM EST
    state secrets issue, not so much the stimulus bill.

    So which dimension is my pony in? (5.00 / 3) (#41)
    by lambert on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:14:08 PM EST
    The 12th?

    And who invented this 11th dimensional chess meme? It's all over everything like a cheap suit. And it reminds of of "complex" and "innovative."

    I think the brane of Obama's (none / 0) (#42)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:16:46 PM EST
    perception is about to be peirced by the dark energy of the GOP.

    The chess meme (none / 0) (#43)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:18:38 PM EST
    was from the campaign.

    I humbly state that I added the 11 dimensions (from string/M theory).


    That was really s-super of you! (none / 0) (#46)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:30:56 PM EST
    Well, that was quick (none / 0) (#50)
    by lambert on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:44:05 PM EST
    Merging the pony meme with the 11-dimension chess meme.

    A pleasure and a privilege to assist you, Doctor, in the operation which bears you name (obscure Travis McGee reference).


    Travis McGee--a much (none / 0) (#72)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:04:56 PM EST
    neglected sexist hero.  I really enjoyed those books.

    You ever listen to (none / 0) (#75)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:17:36 PM EST
    Darren McGavin read a Travis McGee book (audio book)? Unintentional hilarity ensues.

    My beautiful balloon (none / 0) (#66)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:50:26 PM EST
    is in the Fifth Dimension. Maybe your pony is with it.

    Wow (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by joanneleon on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:32:45 PM EST
    They're sensitive to the politics of the case, but they're not motivated by what civil libertarians may write on their blogs.

    I'd really like to know who said that.  And I'd really like to know if that is the conventional wisdom at the new DOJ.

    It sounds like something someone from Bush's DOJ would say.

    Yeah, that should make some fanboys' (none / 0) (#58)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:06:28 PM EST
    heads spin.

    oh mannn (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by lilburro on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:38:31 PM EST
    From the Ambinder link in your post:

    So where does this leave the policy itself?  My informed guess is that the Obama Administration will find cases to revoke the privilege's assertion. They will do so publicly and with great fanfare. They will simultaneously announce a new set of restrictions on when and how the privilege should be invoked. They will do so on their own timetable (to the extent that the courts don't force their hands), and they will do so in conjunction with the broader ideal of reconciliation and accountability. They're just not ready to do so 22 days in, and the particulars of this case weren't, in any case, ideal for them.

    Um, no sh*t.  Publicly with great fanfare.  Own timetable.  Funny, I thought during the inauguration the watchword was "rule of law."

    Basically, Obama and co. are total flakes.  Complete and utter flakes on this issue.  There is no committment...maybe they're waiting for the statute of limitations to run out on some of the most heinous of Bush's federal crimes before they make such a "daring" move.

    Meanwhile, this is staggering.  Obama can triangulate all he wants but it seems some under his command are still serving the past:

    In a shocking revelation just posted at UK Guardian, Binyam Mohamed's attorney Clive Stafford Smith, who is also director of the legal charity Reprieve, reports that "substantial parts" of a memo, attached to a letter to Barack Obama, documenting evidence of Mohamed's torture at the hands of CIA agents and their extraordinary rendition proxies, were blanked out so the president could not read them. Who did that?

    US defence officials are preventing Barack Obama from seeing evidence that a former British resident held in Guantánamo Bay has been tortured, the prisoner's lawyer said last night, as campaigners and the Foreign Office prepared for the man's release in as little as a week....

    Stafford Smith tells Obama he should be aware of the "bizarre reality" of the situation. "You, as commander in chief, are being denied access to material that would help prove that crimes have been committed by US personnel. This decision is being made by the very people who you command."

    from Valtin

    It seems Bush & Cheney (none / 0) (#71)
    by weltec2 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:56:36 PM EST
    are still in control. Bush has decided that since Coup 2000 worked so well... But on a more serious note, if BO doesn't act on this insubordination instantly, he's going to find his presidency laughed at.

    Faux Controversy Is Amusing (none / 0) (#13)
    by RussTC3 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:11:20 PM EST

    I like peanut butter (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:12:36 PM EST
    But not this week.

    Man what are (none / 0) (#18)
    by SOS on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:42:54 PM EST
    the big wigs going to do if they have no willing peons to exploit for profit.

    And honestly, (none / 0) (#19)
    by lilburro on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 05:52:37 PM EST
    "up yours" is the most optimistic interpretation of the Obama's DoJ stance...

    How bout . . (none / 0) (#23)
    by SOS on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:14:35 PM EST
    If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. it is simply too painful to acknowledge -- even to ourselves -- that we've been so credulous.

    BTD, you conveniently forget, (none / 0) (#26)
    by cpinva on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:18:40 PM EST
    the clinton's were responsible for the deaths of millions (including the entire state of arkansas), the black plague, all wars going back at least to the crusades; hillary bathed in the blood of virgins, while bill kicked puppies. they are evil and ambitious!

    pres. obama is the second coming, or so i've been pretty much told; he can do no wrong.

    pres. obama may not be a whiz in economics, that's kind of why he has an advisory group, or so i thought.

    it's probably just as well that i'm not president, there'd be a lot of republican bodies littering the halls of congress.

    Personally (none / 0) (#74)
    by weltec2 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:13:49 PM EST
    I would like to knock a few Dems upside the head as well... starting with Nancy (we would of course pursue hearings against Bush if it could be proven that he had committed any crimes) Pelosi.

    I have said all along: Obama's (none / 0) (#34)
    by tokin librul on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:53:26 PM EST
    a meliorator.

    It seems to me that Obama is one of those folks who counts the compromise--regardless of the terms--as his measure of success. And so he enters 'negotiations' (at least domestic ones, so far) willing already to concede without any necessary expectation that something of value OTHER THAN THE FORMAL COMPROMISE ITSELF will ensue. He seems always ready to concede something. Pragamtism trumps principle. He's peeing himself to get a deal on a package a lot of folks who study such things say is 1) too small, 2) poorly targeted, 3) unwieldy, and 4) won't do what it is said to be for.

    Why? So he can have some GOP cover, finally, if it all goes south?

    He definitely wants the GOP to own (none / 0) (#35)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 06:54:23 PM EST
    the package, so they'll have a stake in coming to the rescue.

    Well he sure failed if that was his goal (none / 0) (#56)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:04:47 PM EST
    Collins, Snowe and,...lord i hate getting old..oh yeah, Specter are not enough cover for that purpose. So he compromised for nothing I am left with the only logical conclusion - he thinks this is a good bill.

    well, he doesn't know or (none / 0) (#61)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:10:32 PM EST
    doesn't care enough to really find out is my guess. Process trumps progress.

    I think you are right (none / 0) (#68)
    by ruffian on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:53:16 PM EST
    I am envisioning the State of the Union Address in 2010 in which his benchmark applause lines are the number of Republicans he has gotten to vote for each of his initiatives, not the efficacy of the policies themselves.

    Kagen agreeing with Lindsay Graham (none / 0) (#38)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:03:44 PM EST
    was not a good sign, I think.

    I think there is (none / 0) (#39)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:09:51 PM EST
    a basic misunderstanding by the reporter and by Graham for that matter.

    For example, if we are at war, and the laws of war apply, then the Geneva Conventions apply.

    In addition, the issue was the scope of the international battlefield.

    No one would say that someone in the Us can be captured and detained indefinitely, other than the 4th Circuit of course.


    I fervently hope you are correct. (none / 0) (#47)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:31:57 PM EST
    Otherwise, she is a sell-out.

    Hm (none / 0) (#51)
    by Steve M on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 07:44:40 PM EST
    Graham cited the example of someone who is not carrying a gun or fighting on a battlefield. "If our intelligence agencies should capture someone in the Philippines that is suspected of financing Al Qaeda worldwide, would you consider that person part of the battlefield?" he asked. He added that he had asked the same question of Holder, who replied that he agreed that person was on the battlefield.

    "Do you agree with that?" the senator said.

    "I do," Kagan replied.



    Hard to believe (none / 0) (#63)
    by kstills on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:31:01 PM EST
    How little the posters on this board understand what the problems are in the country.

    I suppose there are partisan right wing sites as ideologically blind as this one, however when reality bites it really won't matter who was 'running' the show.

    They are all the same, and the end result will be the same also. The only real difference will be how much more it costs with a D then an R.

    There's an informative comment--- (none / 0) (#67)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:52:48 PM EST
    not! What are you actually trying to say about the stimulus bill?

    As a Star Wars fan, I prefer to use a Sith analogy (none / 0) (#64)
    by vicndabx on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 08:35:32 PM EST
    Famous for the long view on their schemes, and masters of 11 Dimensional Chess.....

    The Sith apprentice only becomes the Master once his own Master dies, either by accident, natural causes, or the apprentice's own hand

    The Sith Master (none / 0) (#78)
    by souvarine on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:47:40 PM EST
    Well, to complete the Hegelian dialectic, Obama the apprentice did kill the master, Bill Clinton, figuratively, in the primaries.