Wednesday, April 26, 2006

This Deserves to Be On the Record

Subject: Re: purple party?
Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2006 13:36:55 -0400
From: Gerald Teach-Ford-America
To: Harry S Truman Fellow

Bloomberg is the best.


On 4/26/06, Harry S Truman Fellow wrote:

Thursday, April 06, 2006

BREAKING APR NEWS: I'm a Goddamn Free Man, Bitches!

You're a Soldier (Never Was a Thug, Just Infatuated With Guns)

It's hard not to tease Harry and his choices of posts after I've privately and publicly berated him to write, considering that's the exact sort of passive-aggressive, hot-and-cold behavior that has cost me more than one girlfriend. But, c'mon, you got to like a guy who doesn't write unless he's hitting us up for money. Trés college-student, no?

In any case, a post is a post is a post, so I'll -- happily -- respond. Harry is right in saying that his support for the President's "Freedom Agenda" has caused him to be the recipient of some mockery. However, the rationale is not quite what he suggests. Only speaking for myself, I again posit to Harry that I defy him to produce one intelligent American who doesn't support "the ultimate goal of ending tyranny." Is there really a rash of pro-tyrant voters in the electorate we need to battle? No, clearly, my hestitation to embrace Bush's agenda in this particular case has all to do with his actions not matching the rhetoric and, yes, the utterly flawed methodology -- both caveats Harry admits to sharing in his post. So what are we talkin' 'bout here?

The real news in the post below, instead, is Harry's apparent (and rather secretive) intermittent desire to join the military. It's hard to write through this affixed wry smile, but I'll try. First, I'd ask if Harry is aware that a popped-collar is not exactly full dress uniform in the Marine code. This is a man who irons a shirt every day -- certainly common practice working on Capitol Hill, but might be a tough transition to the trenches, is all I'm saying. I'm just guessing that this man is going to have a rocky path in morphing into this one. Also, a large aspect of the mirth is the subtle reminder I'm apparently going to have to give ol' Harry. Chief: You don't live with your mother anymore. She's a continent away, as is whatever baseball bat still resides at your parents' house. If fear of filial injury is the sole criterion by which you're avoiding a few years in Fallujah, I dare say you're in the clear.

Also, I think you're selling yourself short. Not everyone can join the military to work toward global freedom. You -- along with the rest of us -- have to use the skills and passions we possess to make a better tomorrow. Gunplay ain't your thing, amigo-- your place is at Oxford or LSE (not a hypothetical, by the way) using your pretty blonde head to come up with the ideas that will set the stage for the sort of military/geo-political changes you've called for in your academic life. Voltaire once said, "No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking." You don't need to work to get a man elected, or pick up a gun or even raise cash. It's in academia that you're going to begin to make a difference -- even if your mother could swing a 3,000 mile-long baseball bat.

P.S. I have to ask: You request the parents of "Henry and Gerald" to donate money to your organizations that I have no doubt do a lot of good (along with the more, ah, amusing donations). I'd make sure I do so (they'll get right on it, I'm sure) but you seem to have substituted the name "Henry" for mine. Odd. Did you intend to refer to my brother, Calvin Still-in-Schoolidge, to avoid me asking our parents for the cash? Alright, fair enough -- Cal, this one's on you.

A Penny For Schools in Afghanistan, A Nickel for Democracy in Iraq

Over the past 4.5 years, my colleagues have criticized my support of the President's Freedom Agenda (look for a post justifying this in a few days, no seriously). And while the President's actions sometimes don't match his rhetoric and sometimes he is just plain wrong about how to best achieve "the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world," that doesn't make the objective any less worthwhile.

For the past four years, but especially since entering the workforce, I have been struggling to find a way to best contribute to American national security policy. I worked for the Joe Lieberman campaign in hopes that a Democrat truly dedicated to the promotion of democracy, yet smarter than the Bush Administration in terms of how to do it, would correct the Administration's failures. I supported John Kerry, in hopes that he would hire smart Democrats truly dedicated to the promotion of democracy to run his foreign policy. After graduating I took a job with a organization dedicated to getting Democrats elected to national office (after all we know how to promote democracy better than do most Republicans).

But I'm a Democrat and we're in the minority and both my candidates lost and so my work, at least in the short run, is all pretty useless. I want to be on the front lines making things happen. For a few months my plan was to get a job with State or USAID in Iraq. But if I told my mom that plan, she would lock me in the house until the war was over. Every once in a while I toy with the idea of joining the military - especially after talking to Marines and soldiers who were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. But if I told my mom that plan, she would lock me in the house and take out my knees with a baseball bat so I could never pass the physical.

So what's a guy like me supposed to do to make a difference? I haven't answered that question yet (when I do I'll post about it), but in the mean time I came across these organizations that are raising money to do the real democracy promoting stuff in Iraq and Afghanistan that the Bush Administration apparently refuses to do.

Henry and Gerald's parents (if there are other readers, email me and I'll add you to this personalized call to action): go give money to these folks. They're making a difference in the world and, in the long term, keeping you and your children safe.

Spirit of America
Rebuilding Afghanistan Foundation

Monday, April 03, 2006

I'm Pretty Much Like Neil Armstrong Here

With my Internet homepage set to the New York Times, I see it every time I open a new window. In perusing job websites (please oh please I hope my editor isn't reading this) I needed a few windows open. Imagine my surprise when, after scanning the headlines for a couple minutes, I opened a new window to see the Brand! Spanking! New! Times website. The techies at 229 West 43rd Street must have put up the new code in the few minutes between me opening those two windows (sometime around 9:50 P.S.T., if you're curious). I'm probably one of the first few dozen to have seen the new site. Whoo.

As for the site itself, I'm resistant to change as a general rule, but the new design seems clean, modular and easier to search. I'm also excited for MyTimes, whatever the hell it is -- could be an easy way to collate the news, blogs and the other daily hodgepodge I find enjoyable and illuminating. And now we have a new trivia question for Trivial Pursuit Genius Edition, year 2020: Who was featured in the photo on the Times' new redesign? (Answer: Former President Bill Frist, when he was still a Senator. Haha, just kidding, Bill. You suck.)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses Yearning to Be Free

My beliefs on immigration are about as liberal as they come. I don't believe we have the right to deny anyone the ability to live in the United States or become an American citizen. However, I recognize the legitimate security case for knowing who is our borders, the importance of ending illegal immigration (even if you believe that the legal immigration system is unjust) and the necessity of responding to the successful conservative frame of the immigration issue as a security issue (even if its largely an economic issue).

So I was excited to come across this paper put out by the Truman National Security Project. It calls for a four-prong policy to secure our immigration system while holding true to pro-immigrant, Democratic values:

1) Strong Border and Interior Enforcement, including better screening at our consulates, better technology, specifically at the border, and a more efficient screening system at workplaces.
2) A Temporary Worker Program that registers immigrants already here, but fines them heavily for being here illegally. New applicants must "pay to play", with an up-front fee that funds the local services (emergency, school, etc.) they may use, to be partially returned upon legal exit.
3) A Path to Citizenship that gives all immigrants the possibility of citizenship if they have paid taxes, learned English, and followed our laws.
4) An Immigrant Integration Program incentivizing businesses and communities to offer English language courses, mentorship programs, and other provisions to build better immigrant- community relations.

I'm slightly uncomfortable with the English/integration provision, which has an obvious practical, humanitarian justification (immigrants need to learn English to really succeed in the US), but, for many conservatives who champion such a provision, has a racist justification. Nonetheless, I think this is a proposal that is strong policy, smart politics and sound in terms of our values.