Live blogging Obama speech

1:59 There is a lot I fault this Admin with regarding terrorism, but I also find the other side completely irrational and self-defeating and willing to do anything to destroy the POTUS.   But these stirring words, even though I agree with them, just ring so hollow after 12 years of this increasingly desperate nonsense.   If something can change now, it will be positive, but so late.  So many wasted lives around the world.  There was a chance after 9/11 to remake the world into something better.  But it was trashed, burnt away by gleeful pyromaniacs and sneering playground bullies.   Its cold and stupid logic persisted, and in some ways was heightened.  I think this Admin is doing a better job, but it is relatively worse, given expectations.  The idea that now, 12 years on, we’re trying to formulate a strategy to met the challenge, and, even worse, that no one really thinks we’ll be able to, is the whole rot of our political and moral culture in one depressing run-on sentence.

More thoughts later, perhaps.  Comments are always open.

1:53 “I’m willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack, because this is worth being passionate about.”  That is excessively well-done.

1:52 I was worried he was going to quote Daniel Tosh.  Phew!

1:50  I love seeing the President be heckled.  It reminds me that we’re all right.  He handled it well.  I also did not expect all the applause.  I couldn’t really understand her, so I don’t know who they were applauding, but it is clear that everyone is on the same page.

1:50 People are going to say this is really partisan, and it is, but absolutely right.  It is crazy that it is suddenly dangerous to try people in courts.

1:47 I like when they point out that we actually have been able to try terrorists with relative ease over the years.

1:45 “I look forward to working with a collection of kill-crazy destructive vandals to help them paint me as a secret Muslim who wants to institute Sharia law”

1:44 It is true that they want to shield for journalism, but just because the law doesn’t exist isn’t a reason not to obey its spirit.   That was just a huge bit of cognitive dissonance, on a level we don’t usually see from this Admin.

1:41 Despite my carping, I’ve liked about 65% of the speech.  Maybe 75%.  But much of this is what I liked in 2007 and hasn’t translated into smarter action.   He came really close to the John Kerry line about how terrorism can be a law enforcement issue.   But not close enough.

1:40 Greg sums it up over on the twitter, which is where the cool kids hang out.

On diplomacy – yes, US has to be active. But US practices risk avoidance not risk management.

1:36 OK, so he got the people who hate the drone strikes and think they are a huge immoral and illegal over-reach angry in the first half-hour.  Now he is talking about foreign aid as a much better investment than military strikes.  Feeding people in Yemen and building wells.   So now everyone else will be angry.

1:35 “We cannot take action everywhere these radical ideologies take root”.   Yes, and yes again!  Too bad that is seen as wimpy.  Hell, we had people want to storm into Chechnya and Dagestan a few weeks ago (and frankly, I would have bought their plane tickets).

1:31 OK, I agree with the idea that in extreme cases citizenship doesn’t really matter.  That has been true in other wars.   I don’t even disagree that al-Awlaki was plotting against the US.  But the huge issue for me, at least, is that we crossed this incredible pass for someone who really wasn’t a major threat.  He was a little more dangerous than John Walker Lindh, perhaps (and doesn’t that seem like such a distant name from a far-off time), but he was not the impossible danger that made it worth taking these steps.

1:30 Nixes any drone strikes on US soil, brings up legal twister of due process.   Not judicial process.

1:28 Congress is briefed on every strike.  Might be over-estimating the popularity of Congress, here.  “Oh, Congress says it is ok?  Well, then I’m on board!”

1:26 As many people have pointed out, the idea that these drone strikes result in less civilian deaths (despite the Franciscan flagellation, which seemed honest, about these deaths) is partly a result of a morally obtuse concept that military-aged males near drone strikes are by definition non-civilian.

1:22 State sovereignty is great, but the question has always been: who is the state?  We deal with governments like Salih’s, whose “the state is me” ideas didn’t really pan out beyond the Yemen version of the Beltway.  (The Jambiya?)

1:20 This is true- America is at war with AQ and others.  It is “affiliated” that is the tricky thing.  We still don’t know who everyone is.  Oh wow- that was the heart of this speech.  “Legal doesn’t make it moral”.   This is what many of us who voted for Obama want to hear- be strong, but don’t over-reach.  We haven’t seen much evidence of this, and that is a disappointment, but maybe this is a turning point.

1:17 That’s great we aren’t triggering firefights with tribesmen with whom we have no beef.   But we sometimes drone the living death out of these self-same tribesmen.   This is saying all the things that I want to hear, but there is a certain dissonance with action.

1:13 Define it not as a boundless war on terror, but specific actors.  This, right here, is what people have been saying for 12 years.   But while this sounds great, working with Pakistanis, Yemenis, the AU to get rid of al-Shabab, it elides the fact that many of these actions are wildly unpopular in the countries that we are acting in.  I believe in partnerships, of course, but working with the wrong actors is almost as bad as going solo, and sometimes worse.

1:12 Bringing up all the other terrorist attacks before him.   Two things here: one, saying that we don’t have to have a national freakout every time something bad happens, and two, saying: really?  You want to impeach me over Benghazi?   Come on!

1:10  McVeigh wasn’t a Muslim!

1:09 I like this analysis of the difference between local operatives, regional affiliates, etc.  Some groups are just collections of names and guns.  We can’t use a blanket approach, and lump everything under the “islamist” umbrella.   But while the rhetoric is there, it still needs to translate to action.

1:07  Brings up James Madison.  Charlie Pierce just sat up straight.   It is also amazing that, in 2013, saying that we need to define the scope of this battle against extremism makes for a big speech.   12 years on.

1:06  I never really liked the “we spent abroad and not here” tactic, but it is undeniable.   It just smacks of isolationism.

1:04 Osama is dead.  If you had that on Speech Bingo, you aren’t terribly creative, are you?   There was nice talk about stopping torture, but that just serves to remind that we did torture people, and no one has been punished.  Just more rhetorical rug-sweeping.

1:03 Brings up Iraq.  Saying that it shifted focus shouldn’t be controversial, but somehow always is.

1:01 Doing the Obama thing where he links our history into the issues of the day- our character, our shared experiences, our “commitment to constitutional principles”.    This is a common trope for him, and for others, of course, but he seems to do it with a special intensity, perhaps because he has always had to try to prove he is “American”.   It sets a tone for a “this isn’t radical what I am about to say”.

OK, so we’re going to be live-blogging the Obama speech.  Haven’t done this in a while.  I know it is more of a twitter thing, but I’m old-fashioned.   The important things to look at in terms of Guantanamo are if they are planning to release anyone, or just shift detainees to federal supermax prisons stateside.


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