Obama’s Hyberbole

President Obama decried the new Supreme Court ruling on corporate money in politics stating:

The Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special-interest money in our politics … It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health-insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. — President Barack Obama

I disagree with the word “New.” Special interests learned to get their message out while accommodating the restrictions of McCain-Feingold and other limits in a manner that makes the “who” behind the money much harder to find. I like the Supreme Court ruling because I would rather know who is paying whom for what.

Instead of Corporations paying for message directly and the public knowing who is behind the latest meme, everything is indirect and several places removed. So you have a Union or Corporation paying a foundation, and that foundation paying a faux political action group, a Faux think tank, (aka “Stink tank” – Discovery Institute, Heartland Institute, ACORN, Worldwatch, etc.)

These in turn spin off chaff for highly conservative and highly liberal “news” outlets (e.g. Frontpage, Pacifica Radio, AFR, etc. etc.,) which in turn back candidates and causes. Their chaff in turn is re amplified by crowd sourcing the bloggers within the political spectrum, and I suspect there’s a bit of “paid promotional amplification” going on as well. (see this very interesting Berkman Center lecture, then think about comment Spam and it’s origination after.)

It’s very time consuming if you you want to track that buzz or meme or outrage of the day to true source, but more oft than not it can be followed back to a special interest group who is highly anonymous to the general public.

I prefer a political environment where anyone may freely speak or pay, but where every penny is associated back to true source and recorded online as part of public record within 48 hours. Americans are some of the smartest media consumers in the world and it’s counterproductive to create restrictions that demand subterfuge for communication because with each step removed from the original source of the sometimes valid argument additional hysteria, hyperbole, and sometimes outright lies get baked into the message. It’s very hard to have an adult conversation about true issues in that media environment. We don’t need to limit money or speech, but we do need to see who is signing the checks. In my opinion it’s well past time to update our restrictions on political speech to match the new media.

Update: more background on this law, other campaign laws, and conflicting claims at Politifact.

Honduran Coup

Honduran Coup

There’s been a coup this morning in Honduras against one of Hugo Chavez’s allies, President Zelaya. Normally I don’t care for military coups, but this one appears to be enforcing current court decisions and their constitution over a Chavez style referendum to rewrite said constitution. The best coverage and round up of the ongoing change is found at Fausta’s Blog.

Pakistan Update

There have been two missile strikes in two days, one in North Waziristan, one in South Waziristan. Two “Canadians of Arab origin” were killed in the first, and an unknown number of foreigners were killed in the second. We won’t know for up to a couple of weeks if any Taliban or Al Qaeda leaders were killed by the strikes but by the increased tempo of strikes you can guess that TTP, the Afghan Taliban, and Al Qaeda are heavily infiltrated now.

This is not so much paid spying but rather disaffected members and tribespeople who are waking up to the fact Al Qaeda & TTP is at war with Pakistan and every Islamic country in existence. The Taliban and Qaeda certainly spend the great bulk of their time and effort on killing muslims, and mostly innocent ones.

The place this is most evident is in their ongoing war against Pakistan; with Musharraf gone and the fighting still going and reinforced by the most recent Al Zawahiri tape, it’s evident that the war isn’t against the US. It’s a war to achieve temporal power for the takfirist extremists who compose these groups.

In Parachinar the sectarian tribal war continues, and it’s evident that some of the terror groups are not just aiding and abetting the Sunni side, but also creating new inflamatory incidents any time this two year old fighting gets near to dieing out. It really started in 2006 at which point the Kurram levies were pretty effective against the Taliban, but several incidents involving a shrine caused violence to escalate between tribes. At points the Afghan Taliban have fired cross-border artillery on the Shia portions of Kurram, and the market areas of some towns have been gutted by fighting multiple times.

On the political front Zardari is the strongest candidate running for president, and all barriers have now been removed with the International court case in Switzerland being dropped. Aftab Ahmed Sherpao (PPP-S) and Maulana Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) also swung in behind him. This brings moderate and conservative support to Zardari, but it must be noted that Fazl’s swing was conditional on the Bajaur offensive being stopped. Note that JUI-F bills themselves as “moderate” but they take many of the same sympathetic to the Taliban stances that the old MMA coalition used to. While JuI-F participated in elections, JUI-S (Sami ul Haq) boycoted them and is pretty much openly in bed with the Taliban. In the background the purported reasons for the boycotts have been largely removed. Musharraf is retired, and many but not all of the judges have been reinstated.

The Bajaur offensive is now officially stopped for Ramadan, but this will be temporary as the TTP and their AQ allies aren’t going to stop the war on Pakistan. It’s likely they will slow their pace as they reposition and rearm, but expect targetted assassinations against Pakistani leaders and their families to continue. Until Pakistan takes out the leaders of the insurgency, and all of them, the state is in danger of crumbling.

UPDATE: One other notable thing I neglected, once again you are seeing tribals band together to fight the Taliban. This was also the case in Musharraf’s 2006 offensive, but that faded quickly as the tribes did not receive support from Pakistan’s military. If Pakistan’s military commits, and the support is both consistent and persistent, then things could turn around in the frontiers relatively quickly.

[ This update was compiled from various stories in The International News, Dawn, and the Pakistan Daily Times. ]