‘Not An Acceptable Person’

From Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: I asked John le Carré if we would go to—if he would go to one of Tony Blair’s book events.

JOHN LE CARRÉ: No, I wouldn’t, nor would I buy the book. At the last election in which he stood, I was invited by The Guardian newspaper to interview him. And after much thought, I declined, because I did not see how I could lay a glove on him. And I’ve asked some pretty heavy-hitting journalists what questions they would have asked, in retrospect, that might have unseated him a little, that might have thrown him. And they said, almost with one voice, there’s nothing you can get past him, there’s no way of doing it.

I think I would have asked him one question, perhaps, and I’d have asked it repeatedly. I’d have asked him about his faith, because we were told, when journalists asked about Blair’s faith, the reply was, “We don’t do God here.” Well, of course, he does do God, and he reports that his actions have been put before God and confirmed, as if somehow God has signed a chit for him. I think that the question of somebody’s religious faith is absolutely central to what we think of them, if we are members of the electorate. We have to know. If it is, for example, somebody’s conviction, widely held among Christians in the United States, that the second coming of Christ is not possible ’til the Greater Israel is established, we need to know that. That’s an important political perception. In Blair’s case, I would have asked him that question, and I’d have pressed him on it. I’d have asked him whether God had ever restrained him. I find it very strange that we elect a politician who then claims to serve a higher deity who guides him: “I did what I believe is right.” Well, will you tell us, please, how that relates to the Christian ethic? Do you believe in war first and negotiation afterwards? Exactly how does this work?

And the second question I would ask him is the really painful one, which I could not have asked if I hadn’t gone on my own journey. Have you ever seen what happens when a grenade goes off in a school? Do you really know what you’re doing when you order shock and awe? Are you prepared to kneel beside a dying soldier and tell him why he went to Iraq, or why he went to any war? I think that if anything has happened to Europe since 1945 that defines it, it is collectively Europeans do not believe in war anymore, until it comes as an absolute last resort, and then they’re going to do it rather badly. The United States, I think, still sees war as a necessary part of its existence. It’s impossible to maintain the military on that scale, a Pentagon on that scale, without turning it over. You’ve got to have officers who are experienced in command and control. You’ve got to have troops who have been bloodied. So, we were, in that sense, at odds. I was, as a European. I was at odds with the whole notion of a preemptive strike. And I think many Europeans have that in common, of course with very many Americans, too, feel the same. So I would have tried to challenge him in that area.

And as I think I said earlier in the interview, for me, there are very few absolutes about human behavior. But I think a leader who does take his country to war under false pretenses is simply not an acceptable person. I don’t think that we should be weighing the rights and wrongs of that. It seems to me to be quite simply wrong.

Who Knew

That I have a reader in Nanty-Glo, Pennsylvania? I never knew there was such a place.

Town Hall Meeting

I can’t quite put my finger on why Obama’s responses to these worried voters today just doesn’t seem very reassuring — but it doesn’t. Your take?

At an intimate fundraising dinner for the DNC in the Pyramid Club on the top floor of the BNY Mellon Building in downtown Philadelphia, President Obama gave his standard speech about how the first task of his administration “was to stop the bleeding, to stabilize the economy, and we’ve done that.”

Citing “eight consecutive months of private sector job growth,” the president derided Republicans “saying no to everything we proposed. … Their model was, ‘No we can’t.’”

The president this evening said he wanted supporters to understand that “we are just in the first quarter here. We’ve gotten a lot of stuff done, but we’ve got a lot more work to do.”

He criticized Democrats who complain that “the health care plan didn’t have a public option,” or say to him, “’You ended the war in Iraq but haven’t completely finished the Afghan war yet.’”

His message to them: “Folks wake up! This is not some academic exercise. As Joe Biden put it, Don’t compare us to the Almighty, compare us to the alternative.”
Continue Reading →

That’s The Way To Do It

Go, Raul!

Over 50 House Democrats have now signed on to a letter, first obtained by TPM earlier this month, warning President Obama they’ll oppose any effort on his part, or on the part of his fiscal commission, to cut Social Security benefits or privatize the program.

The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. It was originally cosigned by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Dan Maffei (D-NY), Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and CPC co-chair Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). The advocacy groups P Street Project and MoveOn helped organize the effort to add signatures.

They will continue to round up signatures through tomorrow, before the letter goes to the White House.

“This is not an issue we should even need to debate as Democrats,” says Grijalva. “The people of this country have had an agreement with the federal government for many years now – you give to your country during your career, and your country gives back during your retirement.”

[…] “It’s absurd that we’re even considering cutting the best social safety net program America ever created,” says P Street director Shaunna Thomas. “We are going to keep building momentum for this letter and making clear that any proposal from this commission of millionaires that cuts Social Security is dead on arrival.”

I’d like to take the opportunity to point out that Chellie Pingree and Mary Jo Kilroy are Real Dems, and they’re in a fight for their political survival. So naturally, the DCCC has decided to cut them loose and let them sink or swim.

I really believe in these two. I know a lot of you have stopped donating money to the party, but these two really, truly deserve our help. If you can, please contribute to Chellie and Mary Jo. How can you not support a woman the National Review insists is a Socialist?

I don’t say this lightly, but I trust these two women to stand up for us. Your contribution will support representatives who will support us right back.

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