In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, he argues that eudaimonia is the ultimate goal in life. Eudaimonia roughly translates to happiness or human flourishing. One of the ways in which eudaimonia is achieved is by exercising the mind. This blog is intended to help all of us reach eudaimonia through political discourse. This cannot be possible without YOU the reader, and YOU the respondent. Hence, youdaimonia.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Patience is Wearing Thin Mr. President

I was hopeful that because Barack Obama is a Constitutional scholar he might give up some of the power accrued by the executive branch over the last 8 years. Things started off so well. Obama signed an executive order to close Guantanomo, appointed an Attorney General that unequivocally called water boarding torture, and staffed the Office of Legal Counsel with outspoken critics of the Bush administration's indefinite detention and torture policies.

However, two months later we find out that the Obama administration is defending the author of the torture memos in court, denying the Supreme Court the opportunity to rule on whether or not the President has the authority to indefinitely detain people, and attempting to throw out the lawsuits of torture victims by abusing the State Secrets Act.

Look, I know that the President is doing many good things when it comes to foreign and domestic policy. For example, I believe Obama when he says we no longer torture, but what is he doing to guarantee that future administrations won't torture. Also, Obama did the right thing when he brought charges against a detainee that Bush had declared an enemy combatant. However, in doing so he prevented the Supreme Court from ruling on whether or not the President has the power to imprison someone for 5 years without charges or a trial. My point is that I don't think we should rely on having a benevolent President in office, but right now that's what it feels like to me.

On a related note, Jonathan Turley recently provided a unique perspective on President Obama's dustup with Dick Cheney.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Stimulus Package: An Embarrassment, or Victory for the President?

In short, I think it was a victory. Republicans are claiming that their almost complete opposition  to the bill (zero House Republicans voted for the measure, and only three Senate Republicans voted for it) is an embarrassment to President Obama because he was unable to garner bipartisan support. Let's think about this for a moment. Obama was able to pass the largest spending bill in history, in record time, in a form very similar to his original plan. How this could be portrayed as anything less than a political victory is a mystery to me. Furthermore, the public widely believes that Obama tried his best to be bipartisan, but Republicans would have nothing to do with him. So not only did Obama get what he wanted, people believe that he tried his best to be bipartisan.

As an aside, here is a breakdown of the spending in the final version of the bill. For what it's worth, I'm very happy to see that the funding for food stamps and aid to state and local governments made into the bill. Moderate Republican and Democratic senators tried to cut these from the plan altogether, even though temporarily increasing the funding for food stamps is one of the most stimulative measures we could take. Also, environmentalists seem to be pretty happy with the final outcome.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bipartisanship? How About Some Good Old Fashioned Partisan Warfare?

Is anybody else frustrated by Obama's handling of the stimulus bill? First, he starts off by allocating 300 billion dollars of the bill to tax cuts, rather than dedicating more money to infrastructure, and using tax cuts to get Republican votes. The Republicans used Obama's attempts at bipartisanship to embarrass him. We got a watered down, less effective bill in exchange for zero Republican votes. Didn't we just have an election that was largely decided on the economy? And didn't the Democrats enlarge their majorities in both houses and win the Presidency? You would never know it.

If you ask me, Obama needs to make Republicans pay a political price for opposing his stimulus bill. I'm sure he has a lot of money left over from the campaign. He should use it to run adds in the traditionally Republican states that he won. There is no harm in pointing out which members of Congress are opposing the stimulus package. 

On a somewhat related note, the Center for American Progress has a cool webpage that allows you to create your own stimulus package! Here's a fun experiment. Create a package that focuses mainly on rescue and investment, and compare it to one that focuses on tax cuts. Make sure they both have the same price tag, and compare the number of jobs they create.

The Kangaroo Court System at Guantanamo

The next time you hear Dick Cheney say that the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay are an essential component of our national security aparatus, ask yourself this question: If Guantanamo is so effective, why did the Bush administration's prosecutors keep resigning?

Also, Glenn Greenwald reminds us that U.S. federal courts have a much better record of convicting terrorists than the military commission system created by the Bush administration.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Won't it be nice to have a President that doesn't cause Iraqi reporters to throw their shoes at him?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why Rachel is Different

Tonight Rachel had a great segment on her MSNBC TV show.

I love the fact that she basically had a 7 minute long military planning session on national television. She and her guest went really in depth on how the recent terrorist attacks in India could affect our military operations in Afghanistan. You really got a feel for the complexity of the situation. I feel like this kind of coverage has really been absent over the past 8 years due to this administration's tendencies to look at the world in black and white. The framing done by the whitehouse seemed to constrain how those in the main stream media talked about issues (to the detriment of the country in my opinion). I'm glad to see that Rachel is challenging the conventional wisdom on what viewers are interested in when it comes to news.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mr. President-elect: Here is My Vision

"I envision a country that takes a stand against torture. It is not enough to put an end to the disastrous policies of the Bush administration. There must be investigations, and if criminal conduct is discovered, there must be prosecutions.

From a moral standpoint, we must uphold one of the founding values of this country: that no detainee shall be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. We know that torture has occurred over the past 8 years. This is not a partisan issue. Both presidential candidates acknowledged that it occurred, and said they would stop it. If there are no prosecutions, I'm worried about the legal precedents that might be set, as well as the signals being sent to the rest of the world.

Taking a stand against torture is also vital to our national security. We know that those subjected to torture often fabricate the intelligence that they believe interrogators want to hear. Unfortunately, we know this all to well. In 2003, Colin Powell made the case for the Iraq war to the United Nations based on evidence that had been obtained through torture. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi told interrogators that Iraq had an operational relationship with al Qaeda. Specifically, that the Iraqi regime had trained al Qaeda terrorists how to use chemical and biological weapons. As it turns out, al-Libi simply lied so the beatings, water-boarding, and lengthy confinement to small spaces would end. This "evidence" helped to justify one of largest foreign policy disasters in our history.

Mr. President-elect, today the Bush administration said it would not grant pardons to those involved in its torture policies. The current President believes that the memos drafted by his justice department provide him with all the legal cover that he needs. Don't you see what is going on here? Mr. Bush is attempting to use your mandate to repair his legacy. By not granting a blanket pardon he is asserting that no wrong doing took place. If you and your Democratic allies in the Congress do not act, you are implicitly taking the same position, and at the same time giving George W. Bush more political cover."

I hope that all of you will share your vision, whatever it may be, with the next President.