To The Moon…

I’ve commented in the past on the newfound interest not just to win whatever the debate of the moment is, but to drive one’s opponents before you from the field in doing so, etc. etc.

I think this is a moral and political train wreck, because more than anything the core of our political system is that the losers are expected to play along with the understanding that they continue to be part of the system. We don’t do purges, and that’s a good thing.

I’ve talked about it kind of seriously, and am not just going to throw my hands up and try something different.

Here’s Atrios today:

Is Tom Friedman a Bad Person?

All signs point to “pretty hideous human being, one which all good people should shun.”

So today, Atrios is the winner of the first Moon Unit award, which I’ll give out to people who think that gagging someone – with or without a spoon – is an appropriate political response.

To be honest, the progblogs are going to be racking up a huge number of these ‘Moon Units’ – but from my point of view, they really aren’t on the same planet anyway…

221 thoughts on “To The Moon…”

  1. I have to agree with Alan on this one. From what other progressive bloggers have told me, “Atrios” is a pretty nasty piece of work in person, but I don’t get the sense that he’s trying to silence or gag the namesake of the Friedman Unit, or anyone else for that. Just because Prof. Black lowers the quality of debate with his silly “Wanker of the Day” award doesn’t mean he should be emulated.

  2. Friedman is, I think, an exception to the general rule that one ought to engage solely on merits. He’s totally zany, and a terrible writer to boot.

    We don’t do purges, and that’s a good thing.

    I guess I missed that part in Atrios’s comment where he demands that Friedman be sent to a gulag.

  3. For AL to suggest Atrios is calling for censorship is ludicrous. Especially in light of the recent Scott Beauchamp nonsense where rightwingers were calling for violence against Beauchamp.

    Atrios’ point is one he’s been hitting in a number of his recent posts: there are a number of so-called “serious” pundits who get inordinate amounts of air time and column inches of newsprint to expound on Iraq *despite* being consistently wrong on the subject.

    These “serious” folks are treated as experts, yet their forecasts and predictions seem to be almost 180 degrees away from what actually occurs.

    Friedman, of course, is a prime example. Friedman is documented having used what has become the “Friedman Unit” on at least 14 occasions over a period of three years to proclaim the amount of time (6 months) where we would find out whether Iraq would succeed or fail. It is reminiscent of Cheney’s many “last throes” remarks.

    Moreover, Friedman pretends to be a scholar while using much of the same rhetoric employed by certifiably insane folks like Victor Davis Hanson and Jonah Goldberg, who subscribe to the dog licking genitals theory of American force: because we can.

  4. Robin Roberts: I don’t think so.

    I’m arguing, as several other commenters on this thread, that AL is actually misrepresenting Atrios’ posts.

    Nowhere does Atrios call for Friedman (or others) to be censored. What Atrios does do is ask why Friedman (and others) get to be treated as an expert on the subject despite his spectacularly poor track record.

    And when you see a so-called “expert” like Friedman tell Charlie Rose why we “needed” to invade Iraq:

    We needed to go over there, basically, um, and um, uh, take out a very big state right in the heart of that world and burst that bubble, and there was only one way to do it.

    What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, “Which part of this sentence don’t you understand?”

    You don’t think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we’re just gonna to let it grow?

    Well, Suck. On. This.

    Okay.

    That Charlie was what this war was about. We could’ve hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. We coulda hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.

    That’s pretty much akin to Jonah Goldberg’s silly assertion that the US needs “to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business” every ten years.

  5. That’s pretty much akin to Jonah Goldberg’s silly assertion that the US needs “to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business” every ten years.

    Michael Ledeen allegedly said that, not Jonah Goldberg.

    That’s what you call a crude figure of speech, though anyone who defends Atrios has no business calling other people crude.

    I’ll say this for Atrios, though: His redeeming quality is his brevity.

  6. The way I see it, the right-wing has been attacking the (correct) messengers for years now. Screaming traitor, coward, etc from their bunkers while completely wrong. To what purpose was the term “moonbat” created and used? Is it constructive? It’s been very hard to conduct an intelligent dialog with most right-wingers. How about this term, for a warm, fuzzy discussion basis : ” To be honest, the progblogs are going to be racking up a huge number of these ‘Moon Units’ – but from my point of view, they really aren’t on the same planet anyway… “

  7. Glen Wishard: Goldberg assigns the quote to Ledeen. Goldberg also says he is an “admirer of, if not a full-fledged subscriber” to what he calls “Ledeen’s Doctrine.”

    As for it being a “crude figure of speech”–that’s somewhat debatable since many rightwingers do profess a fondness for the “more rubble, less trouble” view of foreign policy.

    I’d also note your reasoning is circular.

  8. JadeGold, I see a tree over there that desperately needs to be hugged.

    And a bat that really needs a moon.

    Is that uncircular enough for you, you name-calling hateful troll?

  9. To what purpose was the term “moonbat” created and used?

    MOONBAT, n.

    1. The third stage of a one-shot Earth-to-Luna rocket. (Robert A. Heinlein) Also a boy’s club named after the rocket: “Scoutmaster of the Moonbat Patrol”.

    2. Chiroptera Lunae Baubatus, the common Barking Moonbat. A little too common, in fact.

    3. Ron Paul.

  10. I don’t see what Atrios has done re; Friedman is any worse than what a host of rightwingnuts does re; Juan Cole. And that crowd includes the self-pimping moron MJ Totten who is occassionally featured right here on this blog.

    So why single out Atrios? Why are these sort of negatives from AL always directed at “liberals”. This is why I have long suspected that Armed “Liberal” is just a not so clever guise for an arch conservative pys-ops.

  11. Glen Wishard: The reason is obvious; Ledeen doesn’t take credit for it. The only place it occurs is in Goldberg’s worshipful admiration of the notion.

    Is this your idea of deflection?

  12. Jadegold writes: “That’s pretty much akin to Jonah Goldberg’s silly assertion that the US needs “to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business” every ten years.”

    That is a great example of your own misrepresentation. The point of Friedman’s statement about invading Iraq “because we could” is not that the reason for an invasion was because we could but that the choice of Iraq specifically as the target of that invasion was because “we could”, ie., we already had casus belli. But the reasons to invade some country in the region involved all the other ideas/goals of fostering representative government to fight extremist ideologies, changing how arab peoples saw their interaction with their own and other governments, etc.

    That is not the same idea at all, and I doubt your misrepresentation was accidental.

  13. I don’t know. There is something off about thinking: I disagree with this person’s political beliefs or policy ideas, so he must be a scumbag. It is the same fallacy as saying: This person is a real scumbag, so any idea she has must be real crapola.

    Like Atrios…he’s a jerk of colossal proportions, but you can only say his ideas are idiotic on a case by case basis.

  14. RR: There’s no misrepresentation at all. Friedman says that we needed to take out a very big state in that part of the world. He says we could have taken out Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Iraq. He makes it quite clear they’re all part of some ‘bubble.’ Friedman’s entire message is that we needed to send a ‘message.’

    It’s exactly no different than what Ledeen/Goldberg is saying: that, periodically, we need to show some folks we don’t like that we’re going to kick some butt.

    Of course, “serious” thinking such as this probably works up until the fourth grade.

  15. I disagree with this person’s political beliefs or policy ideas, so he must be a scumbag.

    Sorry, but there’s something wrong with the idea that we should kill, injure and disrupt the lives of millions of people–any people–just to show how tough we are.

    So, yes, when we have people saying things like this–they earn the sobriquet “scumbag.”

    Look, ‘political beliefs or policy ideas’ can take many forms. Most are pretty benign. But when you have folks talking about how internment camps might be a good idea (Malkin) or that waxing some small country on general principles is desirable(Friedman, Hanson, Ledeen/Goldberg)–you can pretty much write off the rest of their views.

  16. Jade and Avedis —

    You miss the point of Atrios’s comments. His point is that Friedman is an evil person or bad person and therefore should be not listened to or shunned by Liberals who would otherwise share his views on other matters.

    It’s an ideological Marxist struggle to consolidate power ala Presidents for Life Chavez and Castro. Define an Orthodoxy, put people outside it, and consolidate power.

    This is certainly wise in a non-Democratic society where an oligarchy rules the nation in all aspects. It’s common in China, North Korea, Soviet (and current) Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and other places ruled by an absolute dictator and feudal lords below the dictator.

    It’s not common in democratic systems where power is expected to be shared and policy eventually hammered out by various interest groups. Messy but democratic in a civil society.

    What’s fascinating is that among Republicans there are no demonization or bad-person arguments over casting someone out of the tent (as far as commentators). There certainly are organized efforts to defeat Graham and other Amnesty supporters of course. Much like Kos organized the effort to defeat Lieberman over the Iraq War.

    There certainly IS an ideological/policy battle among Republicans, however that is centered on Amnesty/Open borders vs. national sovereignty and the idea that America should retain it’s national character and not become Mexico. There is almost no debate on the “immorality” of the Afghan and Iraq Wars.

    Whereas among Dems the “immoral” nature of both Wars is a huge issue for the candidates. Obama and Biden have called US conduct in Afghanistan the equivalent of War Crimes at different times (Biden during the initial bombing in 2001, Obama now). Desire for the US to be defeated and “shamed” seems strong among certain factions: Moveon, Kos, Code Pink, ANSWER.

    As a practical matter current polls show large support for border fences, deporting illegals, other sovereignty issues. It remains to be seen how pushing for defeat will become a winning issue.

    There is certainly room to offer an alternative to GWB policies abroad. Moralizing about how America is always bad, Muslims (who are our enemies intent on destroying us) are always good, we have no alternative but to grovel to our enemies, does not seem to me to be a winner. Particularly since the 1970’s terrorism, 79 Embassy take-over/hostage crisis, 80’s terrorism/hostage crises, 90’s terrorism to numerous to mention including the 93 WTC bombing, and 9/11 plus innumerable Muslim plots here and abroad have convinced most Americans that Muslims are indeed our enemies.

    A critique pointing out Bush’s indebtedness to the Saudis, a promise to shut down all Mosques with Saudi influence and funds in the US, jailing of terrorism supporters, outlawing CAIR, throwing out PC-multi-culti rules, spelling out of clear consequences of another WMD attack on Saudi, Pakistan, and Iran, and large increases in men, ships, planes, and other equipment to back up said threats would seem to me to be winners electorally.

    What is fascinating to me is how Atrios is uninterested in that, instead using “morality” in national security policy to enforce a power grab inside the Democratic Party that seems explicitly modeled after Stalin. I don’t think he’s stupid. He seems to want to have all the power within the Dem Party even if the party loses than sharing within a winner.

    Which is fascinating.

  17. Look, ‘political beliefs or policy ideas’ can take many forms. Most are pretty benign. But when you have folks talking about how internment camps might be a good idea (Malkin) or that waxing some small country on general principles is desirable(Friedman, Hanson, Ledeen/Goldberg)–you can pretty much write off the rest of their views.

    Phew. It’s good to know I never have to read a thing Atrios or the Daily Kos writes ever again. Thanks for the time saving info!

  18. RR: I understand the point you’re *trying* to make; unfortunately, it’s not particularly valid.

    If we were looking for a casus belli in the region, we had far better ones in Saudi Arabia (9/11 hijackers, home of Wahabbism, home of OBL, etc.) and Pakistan (ISI links to AQ, the bomb, etc).

    All we had in Iraq were nonexistent WMDs and a phony link between Saddam and AQ.

  19. avedis:

    … the self-pimping moron MJ Totten who is occassionally featured right here on this blog.

    Prove that you’re worth one second more of anybody’s time by apologizing.

    Not interested in discussing this remark; not interested in hearing your sad defense of it. Just the apology.

  20. Now you are changing the subject from your own misrepresentations, Jadegold. The point remains that there is a different from an invasion with the goals of fostering representative government, positioning troops to confront extremist terrorists and the random ‘”to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business” every ten years’ that you falsely conflate together.

  21. The point remains that there is a different from an invasion with the goals of fostering representative government, positioning troops to confront extremist terrorists and the random ‘”to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business” every ten years’ that you falsely conflate together.

    How quickly they forget.

    Let’s take a trip on the WayBack Machine, shall we? It was the intention of Young Master Bush not to install representative Government; instead, it was Bush’s intention to install pro-US, con man Ahmed Chalabi as Iraqi Strongman.

    In fact, in June of 03, we cancelled local elections in Iraq. We also shoved aside demands by Sistani in the Fall of 03 for national elections. It was only after massive protests in early 2004 in Iraq caused Bush to accept elections–after the US elections in Nov.

    WRT extremist terrorists..please spare us. The insurgency is 95% homegrown.

    So, please spare us the revisionism.

  22. No, Jadegold, you are the one who is revising. Specifically, about this comment thread.

    You’ve been caught in a brazen attempt to misrepresent the arguments of others, and now you are attempting to change the subject. But you’ve failed to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes but your own.

  23. If we were looking for a casus belli in the region, we had far better ones in Saudi Arabia (9/11 hijackers, home of Wahabbism, home of OBL, etc.) and Pakistan (ISI links to AQ, the bomb, etc).

    [Jadegold at 11:38 pm on Aug 19, 2007]

    Those aren’t casus belli, except for the ISI links to AO in a very indirect, and I’d say remote, way, not to mention we had an almost allied relationship with SA.

    With Iraq, there was an armistice that Saddam had violated the provisions of for many years. That is a clear and unambiguous casus belli.

  24. #12 from avedis at 9:28 pm on Aug 19, 2007

    bq. And that crowd includes the self-pimping moron MJ Totten who is occassionally featured right here on this blog.

    Re: #24 from Glen Wishard at 11:45 pm on Aug 19, 2007

    Start apologizing avedis. Now, sonny. Or show you have half the stones MJT does, saddle up and go to Iraq to report your findings while putting your life on the line daily OR take a big dose of STFU.

    Jadegold – You are just a drive-by not worth mentioning, so I will not.

    BTW, good takedown of Jadegold, Mr. Rockford.

    [knock, knock] Anyone home Misha?

  25. Those aren’t casus belli, except for the ISI links to AO in a very indirect, and I’d say remote, way, not to mention we had an almost allied relationship with SA.

    The casus belli include known Saudi support of al Qaeda and terrorist-allied ‘charities’ including the Holy Land Foundation, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY, now outlawed in the USA, practicing under different names around the world), the Islamic Saudi Academy, the Al Haramain Foundation(banned in the USA and banned by the United_Nations Security Council Committee but still operating under new names and fronts around the world).

    Saudis also support the financial branch of the billion dollar underground terrorist economy which currently operates under the name “The Muslim Brotherhood” and has offshore accounts around the world.

    Saudi officals are also currently supporting the sunni suicide bombing campaign in Iraq. Our government, Republicans and Democrats, know that Saudi officals are involved, yet they call these enemies ‘allies’ and they want to give them millions of dollars worth of arms.

    Yes, atrois is offensive and Friedman is weird but I think the Saudis who want to kill us deserve more attention than they’re currently getting.

  26. It’s an ideological Marxist struggle to consolidate power ala Presidents for Life Chavez and Castro.

    I see. So Atrios’s blogging is actually a super-secret way of attaining dictatorship for life?

    Well, that’s not barkingly insane at all.

  27. The point remains that there is a different from an invasion with the goals of fostering representative government

    Jade has it hit on the head. The reason for war, per Friedman, was to start up a laboratory of democracy. The way we could get away with it (in the legalistic sense) was the WMDs etal; but that would be only a necessary cause. The real cause, per Friedman, was to try the democracy experiment.

    Stated motivation: WMD
    Real motivation: causus belli.

    Not so complicated.

  28. _The casus belli include known Saudi support of al Qaeda and terrorist-allied ‘charities’ including the Holy Land Foundation, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY, now outlawed in the USA, practicing under different names around the world), the Islamic Saudi Academy, the Al Haramain Foundation(banned in the USA and banned by the United_Nations Security Council Committee but still operating under new names and fronts around the world)._

    _Saudis also support the financial branch of the billion dollar underground terrorist economy which currently operates under the name “The Muslim Brotherhood” and has offshore accounts around the world._

    Compare this to american support for the IRA. Just as saudi arabia has close to an alliance with us, the USA had very close ties with great britain. Just as american private citizens supported irish terrorists who sometimes struck in england proper, saudi private citizens supposed terrorists who hit american targets. Just as saudis supported muslim religious organisations that indirectly promoted terrorism by promoting islam and noting islamic grievances against us, the USA has supported Saint Patrick’s day, irish dancing, single malt whiskey, etc which promote irish culture and publicise english oppression over hundreds of years. (That last may not be quite as direct a comparison as the others.)

    Still, americans did provide quite a lot of aid to the terrorist IRA and other irish terrorists, and the US government didn’t effectively stop them. Some of the aid went through US-tax-deductible charities. Of course it would not be tactically wise for england to declare war on the USA, but if these particular things justify US war against saudi arabia, would essentially the same things justify english war against america?

  29. _I think this is a moral and political train wreck, because more than anything the core of our political system is that the losers are expected to play along with the understanding that they continue to be part of the system. We don’t do purges, and that’s a good thing._

    Was it 2003 or so that republicans started talking about the permanent GOP majority, that they intended to destroy the democrats once and for all? A near-total lack of interest in bipartisan legislation. For awhile there almost all the corruption stories were about republicans because democrats couldn’t get *in* on the well-paying corruption.

    I think it would be quite appropriate if we could get some sort of multi-party system going, and have a decade or so with democrats proposing government programs and libertarians shooting down all but the best, while the GOP is a minor third party. They deserve it if anyone does.

  30. I am completely at a loss to see what is inaccurate about Jadegold on the Ledeen/Goldberg Doctrine. Here is the excerpt from Goldberg’s column “Baghdad Delenda Est”.

    Well, I’ve long been an admirer of, if not a full-fledged subscriber to, what I call the “Ledeen Doctrine.” I’m not sure my friend Michael Ledeen will thank me for ascribing authorship to him and he may have only been semi-serious when he crafted it, but here is the bedrock tenet of the Ledeen Doctrine in more or less his own words: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” That’s at least how I remember Michael phrasing it at a speech at the American Enterprise Institute about a decade ago (Ledeen is one of the most entertaining public speakers I’ve ever heard, by the way).

    It seems clear to me that whatever Ledeen may have meant, Goldberg’s approval of the concept is completely serious about waging war as a recurrent antidote to others’ perception of our weakness. Friedman’s didn’t endorse the idea of repeated applications of military force, but he and a number of other supporters of this dreadful mistake were (mis)calculating the food things that would happen from a one-time display of force against the woeful Saddam Army. What we have discovered is an old lesson that the Soviets learned in Afghanistan and the Nazis learned in Yugoslavia: small little countries are a lot easier to chew up than to digest.

    I have some serious difficulties with Atrios’ tone. I stopped reading him for a long time when he called me an idiot for not dismissing a Cato Institute Report solely on the basis of its source, as opposed to looking into the contents. But no one else has made such a habit of inquiring why no one holds the punditariat to account for Iraq, and why he and I and Kos and Wesley Clark and Howard Dean are still treated as fringe “Dirty [Effing] Hippies”.

  31. I and Kos and Wesley Clark and Howard Dean are still treated as fringe “Dirty [Effing] Hippies”.

    Andrew, when did anybody ever call you a “dirty effing hippie”?

    If this were 1968 and you and Wesley Clark were urinating on Mayor Daley’s lawn, I could almost see it happening.

  32. I am not apologizing to anyone re; my comment that Totten is a self-pimping moron and that he – like many conservatives – has defecated on Juan Cole in an irresponsible and shamefull fashion. Actually, it was the Lounsbury who coined the phrase, “Totten is a self pimping moron”. Shall we write in to him and have apologize as well?

    The fact that Totten has picked up his little camera and gone to some “hot zones” proves nothing about his POV or his class when addressing those he disagrees with. Nor does anything he has done prove the quality of his character. BTW, I will put my DD-214 up against Totten’s civi travelogue any day. So what does that prove? If simply going to Iraq gives one authority and justification then you all here should start agreeing with my comments (I was in Iraq during Desert Storm – along with around 500,000 other US citizens, many of whom, I’m sure, have disparate opinions on major political issues).

    Those here who think that Totten is some sort of untouchable God have bought what he is pimping (and caught the clap in the process).

    Anyhow, the point remains that Atrios is much tamer than many conservatives in respect to the negative attributes AL is pointing out.

    So why single out Atrios?

  33. Apropos of Jadegold, re: Ledeen/Goldberg “Doctrine”:

    Wingnut playground rule:
    When threatened by a bully
    Punch the nearest wimp

    Short term problem addressed, maybe. Long term problem created. See, a lot of “wimps” don’t like being singled out for random beatings for some reason. Tends to make people angry. Real angry. Hungry for revenge. Don’t see why this is hard to recognize.

  34. Just as american private citizens supported irish terrorists who sometimes struck in england proper, saudi private citizens supposed terrorists who hit american targets. Just as saudis supported muslim religious organisations that indirectly promoted terrorism by promoting islam and noting islamic grievances against us, the USA has supported Saint Patrick’s day, irish dancing, single malt whiskey, etc which promote irish culture and publicise english oppression over hundreds of years.

    Oh no, not this argument again. Okay, a few of the 101 ways why Saudi political support is not equivalent to the American civilian support of the IRA:

    #1 Al qaeda and the actions of the ‘sunni insurgents’ in Iraq were and are supported by government officials in Saudi Arabia as well as by the government of Iran, the Sudan, Yemen.

    #2 Al Qaeda are not indigenous like the IRA – they are state funded, and they have a billion dollar terrorist economy that supports them

    the Brotherhood has played a central role in “providing both the ideological and technical capacities for supporting terrorist finance on a global basis… the Brotherhood has spread both the ideology of militant pan-Islamicism and became the spine upon which the funding operations for militant pan-Islamicism was built, taking funds largely generated from wealthy Gulf state elites and distributing them for terrorist education, recruitment and operations widely dispersed throughout the world, especially in areas where Muslims hoped to displace non-Muslim or secular governments.

    Gulf-state ‘elites’ are nearly always members of Gulf state governments.

    #3 The al Qaeda support ‘charity’, al Haramain is openly supported and maintained by the Saudi government:

    “KINGDOM HAS NO PLANS TO CLOSE CHARITIES.” According to the account, Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Saleh ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, told an audience in Jeddah that al Haramain was closed under US pressure and not because the Saudi government had any “suspicions surrounding its activities.” It was closed, he said “to serve the general interest.” The ministry, he said, was not aware of any misconduct from the Saudi charity and had not received any documented information to this effect from any side. He re-assured the audience that the Saudi government had no plans to act against any further charities, or to take any additional action against al Haramain employees. They would be free, he said, to find employment in other charities. In the meantime, al Haramain international operations and assets, he said, would be folded into a new body named the Saudi National Commission for Charitable Works Abroad.

    Al Qaeda and the Saudi government are brothers. Like most criminal brotherhoods, the members fight every once in a while, but they share the same goals. Their actions are understandable, but our efforts to embrace them as ‘allies’ are absurd and self-destructive, to say the least.

    Okay, that’s the serious part of the argument – Now you say this?

    Just as saudis supported muslim religious organisations that indirectly promoted terrorism by promoting islam and noting islamic grievances against us, the USA has supported Saint Patrick’s day, irish dancing, single malt whiskey, etc which promote irish culture and publicise english oppression over hundreds of years.

    You’ve been drinkin’ a wee bit too much from the Leprechaun’s pot now, haven’t ye?

  35. Oh, and here’s a post from Atrios today that seems to refute the (so far unsupported) implication that you are making, AL, that he is promoting suppression of free speach:

    bq. Not the First Time

    bq. Hannity’s Giuiliani fundraiser isn’t the first. He also did so for Rick Santorum.

    bq. Aside from the contrast with the degree to which nonexistent blogger ethics issues are highlighted, I really don’t think this is a problem as long as it’s disclosed with some regularity. If Hannity wants to present himself as a “Giuliani supporter” on his show that’s fine with me. It’s better that he presents himself as such instead of pretending he doesn’t have a favored candidate when he actually does.

    bq. -Atrios 14:25

  36. Actually, it was the Lounsbury who coined the phrase, “Totten is a self pimping moron”. Shall we write in to him and have apologize as well?

    Why, perhaps we shall.

    The self-pimping ever-ersatz “Lounsbury” is solely an authority on himself. Lounsbury’s self and his numerous faults are the limits of Lounsbury’s expertise. Many of Juan Cole’s fellow academics consider him to be a disgrace to scholarship.

    As a Lounsbury (and Cole) acolyte, I’m sure you feel the need to launch spittle-flecked diatribes upon any person who criticizes your deities, but when you parrot their diatribes as fact, we have to consider the source.

  37. “Jade has it hit on the head. The reason for war, per Friedman, was to start up a laboratory of democracy.”

    That is one far fetched theory. I mean, if the invasion of Iraq was at all linked to the idea of bringing in Democracy and Freedom, don’t you think they would have named it “Operation Iraqi Freedom” or something like that?

    Ben

  38. Folks, you have to read what I actually write, and try not to read what you expect or hope me to have written – it’s simple; I think that people who make arguments (as opposed to people who abuse folks, do drivebys, or engage in rants) have a right to participate in the public sphere.

    Silencing them – either by cutting off their sponsors, legal threats, illegal threats, or sending them to “‘Coventry'”:http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/sent-to-coventry.html – is wrong.

    It’s wrong, first and foremost for the exact reasons the Seattle Times editor stated and that I noted so approvingly:

    “It’s not about “balance,” which is a false construct. It isn’t even about “objectivity,” which is a laudable but probably unattainable goal. It is about independent thinking and sound, facts-based journalism — the difference between what we do and the myopic screed that is passed off as “advocacy” journalism these days.”

    The way you maintain and improve that independent thinking is by testing it in the marketplace of ideas, where good ideas are supposed to thrive – not because of monopoly power, or because of market manipulation, which is what “shutting people up” really constitutes, but because they fit better into reality and into the values of the people who are part of the marketplace.

    I fought against the Right when it was trying hard to shut people up, and I’m not happy about fighting people on the Left – where I find my own values – but I certainly will.

    When people try to shut other people up and drive them out of the marketplace – as Atrios has done – I’m happy to call them out, and if this little ‘award’ helps bring attention to their shameful conduct, great.

    You may not like Friedman’s ideas and arguments – or mine, or anyone else’s – but they have an absolute right to make them, and the way for your ideas to triumph isn’t by bullying people into shutting up but by making better arguments.

    Can’t deal with that? Bummer.

    A.L.

  39. Many of Juan Cole’s fellow academics consider him to be a disgrace to scholarship.

    It’s of note that your cite doesn’t list one academic. Instead, it’s the usual cast of neocon pundits.

  40. Jadegold (and others), this thread isn’t about Juan Cole, about the Iraq war (I’ll have a post on Iraq this week that ought to be quite a free-for-all), about the election, or about anything else than respect for people’s right to speak.

    Is that so hard for everyone to understand?

    A.L.

  41. Well, AL, that response was certainly underwhelming.

    Look, if you had a financial advisor who consistently and steadily drained your account, you’d very likely fire that advisor and seek out someone else. In baseball, it doesn’t matter if your name is Albert Pujols–you start having more than one season hitting .200 or less, the team will find a replacement for you.

    Why? Because of the marketplace.

    Similarly, you have folks like Tom Friedman who has been spectacularly and consistently wrong about Iraq. Why does he continue to get airtime and column inches?

    Being consistently wrong and being rewarded for it is the antithesis of the marketplace.

    And since when should the marketplace of ideas be open to those who espouse reprehensible and repugnant views?

  42. If the marketplace of ideas is truly free, then why shouldn’t someone be allowed to try to convince others not to listen to someone else (or to “bully people into shutting up” as you put it)? Is that not their right also? And if you think this “marketplace” should be trusted to be final arbiter, then what’s to worry about?

    Bloggers don’t control the data pipes or have a big influence on the economy of data dissemination, corporations do. And the corporate media has had such a dominant and biased effect on the kinds of ideas that are dispersed that bloggers like Atrios and others have and continue to serve an important function as well. In fact, the liberal blogosphere arose largely because of this filter, which they think (and I agree) helped 1) get George Bush elected, and 2) allowed Iraq to happen. If you want to have a discussion on that issue, fine, but I still don’t see any overt call from Atrios to silence critics; in fact, I provided evidence refuting this, while so far you have failed to provide evidence supporting your original claim.

    Almost every weekend I see discredited people like Bill Kristol or Norman Podhoretz pontificating away on major media outlets, while people like Scott Ritter, who was right from the beginning about Iraq, is nowhere to be seen. You certainly have an interesting and unrealistically idealistic take on what constitutes this so-called “free market of ideas”….

  43. Wow, Jadegold, that’s seriously scary to me –

    “And since when should the marketplace of ideas be open to those who espouse reprehensible and repugnant views?”

    …who decides?

    A.L.

  44. Alan –

    “If the marketplace of ideas is truly free, then why shouldn’t someone be allowed to try to convince others not to listen to someone else (or to “bully people into shutting up” as you put it)? Is that not their right also?”

    For the same reasons it makes sense in the economic marketplace not to let one company ‘bully’ another out of existence by strongarming suppliers, other monopoly tactics, or at an extreme, burning down their store.

    There’s a big difference between “my stuff is better than his” and being willing to stand behind that – and “I don’t want anyone to talk to him”. The apparent fact that you don’t see a distinction is the root of our difference.

    A.L.

  45. AL, I agree with you on a lot of this stuff. I think what alot of people are struggling to get their ideas heard on a stage that’s basically become a fever pitch. At the same time many people (most of us here in fact) have tried to point out those who say the most ridiculous, most inaccurate, most morally reprehensible statements (in our opinion). I then they overreact, and demand censure, which is also a very serious issue.

    Of course, we all know that sensational arguments get big coverage, and sensible arguments do not. At the same time, sensational arguments (I beleive) can be damaging to public discourse.

    For example: The recent story that Dobbs published, where he asserted that 7,000 leporosy cases had been diagnosed in the last few years due to immigration. (In fact, it had 7,000 cases over the last 30 years, and dropping steadily).

    However, once that misfact is out there it’s difficult to get rid of. Studies show that people attach their opinions to ‘facts’ that support their original opinions, and are very unlikely to disbeleive them even against through evidence that proves them wrong.

    I guess the question we need to battle as the internet media spirals out of control is: How do we deal with those who intentionally or consistently misrepresent the truth? How do we deal with these inaccuracies without subverting the public’s right to freedom of speech? Is there a systematic way we can do this so that people are informed of ‘bad behavior’ without subverting individual rights?

    You’ve worked hard on that here, but the problem is always that people recognize bad behavior in the opposite party faster than bad behavior in their own.

  46. Almost every weekend I see discredited people like Bill Kristol or Norman Podhoretz pontificating away on major media outlets, while people like Scott Ritter, who was right from the beginning about Iraq, is nowhere to be seen. You certainly have an interesting and unrealistically idealistic take on what constitutes this so-called “free market of ideas”….

    Scott Ritter makes the rounds of various campuses and conferences, and there are plenty of other antiwar pundits pontificating in major media outlets. It’s still a “free market of ideas” even if your favorite pundit isn’t getting all the airtime you want.

  47. I guess the question we need to battle as the internet media spirals out of control is: How do we deal with those who intentionally or consistently misrepresent the truth? How do we deal with these inaccuracies without subverting the public’s right to freedom of speech? Is there a systematic way we can do this so that people are informed of ‘bad behavior’ without subverting individual rights?

    I think the Scott Beauchamp and “fauxtography” and Wikipedia-Gate cases are a good example of lies and innacuracies being exposed by the combined intelligence and diligence of the internet. Of course massive disinformation campaigns get power the same way.

    I think it’s like war or crime – they will never go away but you can’t just let them take over, you have to keep pushing back.

    It’s of note that your cite doesn’t list one academic. Instead, it’s the usual cast of neocon pundits.

    Thanks for the link, mary. Jadegold, If you actually read the post you will find many errors of fact by Cole and claims of expertise that he doesn’t have, as well as conspiracy theories. And Steven Vincent’s widow isn’t a neocon pundit. And neither is Jeff Jarvis.

    It was the intention of Young Master Bush not to install representative Government; instead, it was Bush’s intention to install pro-US, con man Ahmed Chalabi as Iraqi Strongman.

    The intent to help the iraqis develop representative government was there form the beginning, or why did all those nation-building NGOs flock there as soon as the war was over? Why did they painstakingly draw up those plans for parliamentary systems?

    And Chalabi installed as a strongman? That’s totally contrary to his character. I can imagine some other strongmen, but Chalabi? He’s a liberal wuss. Which is a good thing, in this case.

    in June of 03, we cancelled local elections in Iraq. We also shoved aside demands by Sistani in the Fall of 03 for national elections. It was only after massive protests in early 2004 in Iraq caused Bush to accept elections–after the US elections in Nov.

    It would have been a better idea to postpone elections for 3-4 years until the Iraqis had more time to develop habits of civil society and rule of law. nation-building experts say elections held too soon can put extremists into power because they are the ones most organized to take advantage of a power vaccuum, whereas moderate parties take time to organize.

    Now the conventional wisdom is that we held elections too soon, which allowed the Sunni-Shia resentments to gain force. Your canard is a good example of why we did so. But we shouldn’t have.

  48. It’s exactly no different than what Ledeen/Goldberg is saying: that, periodically, we need to show some folks we don’t like that we’re going to kick some butt.

    I like the way Glenn Reynolds put it: “The Middle East needed to be turned-upside down and shaken hard.” Glenn has also said that he wants to see “a society full of happily married gay couples with closets full of assault rifles.” A fine libertarian position.

    I will put my DD-214 up against Totten’s civi travelogue any day. So what does that prove? If simply going to Iraq gives one authority and justification then you all here should start agreeing with my comments

    Going to Iraq and reporting one’s experiences and interviewing Iraqis and soldiers and printing what they say (which is the bulk of what Totten has done there) increases the information we have about the situation there. As does yours, if you want to share it. In fact, Totten has written more straight observation and less opinion than you have.

    (I was in Iraq during Desert Storm – along with around 500,000 other US citizens, many of whom, I’m sure, have disparate opinions on major political issues).

    First of all, Totten is there now and you were there then. But I would love to hear about your experiences, and what they taught you about the current situation.

    About the 500,000 other citizens: Exactly. They have DISPARATE opinions. You and Totten have disparate opinions. But you want to discredit him because he doesn’t agree with you, even though he was there much more recently. And you don’t give any examples of how he is wrong based on your experiences there. You just call him a pimp. You sound a bit insecure.

  49. I would like to point out in reference to avedis’s indirect citation of one of my old posts that the post in question illustrates exactly the point that AL is making. Although I disagreed with some of things that Dr. Cole had written in a post, I attempted to confine my attacks to individual statements and not make a broadside attack on the man himself, whom I believe is worthy of respect.

    That Lounsbury, with whom I often agree and sometimes disagree, persists in misunderstanding and, as in the post of his cited above, misrepresenting what I believe is a continuing puzzle to me. I don’t know if I’m expressing myself poorly, he has problems with reading comprehension, his command of English is waning, or he demands oaths of perfect fealty, a failing I’m seeing quite a bit of in the blogosphere these days.

    Power politics and shoving preferred solutions down the throats of our political opponents is an extremely dangerous game, particularly when majorities are very thin. Rather than shunning, denouncing, purging, or what have you we need to be making common cause, cajoling, and persuading. Moderation is the necessary virtue of democracy. It is what enables us to agree.

    I am imperfect in this as in all else but at least I’m making the attempt.

  50. On the one hand:

    To be honest, the progblogs are going to be racking up a huge number of these ‘Moon Units’ – but from my point of view, they really aren’t on the same planet anyway

    On the other hand:

    the way for your ideas to triumph isn’t by bullying people into shutting up

    No cognitive dissonance there, nosirree.

    how ’bout practicing what you preach, or is blatant hypocrisy reserved solely for the pro-war crowd?

  51. Um, Francis – can you find the place where I suggest they shut up?

    I think I’m – and they are – free to be critical of positions. That’s what I did.

    So, thanks, please play again.

    A.L.

  52. I am not sure many of the commentors here know what “shunning” means. From the ever reliable Wikipedia:

    bq. _Shunning is the act of deliberately avoiding association with, and habitually keeping away from an individual or group. It is a sanction against association often associated with religious groups and other tightly-knit organisations and communities. Targets of shunning can include, but are not limited to apostates, whistleblowers, dissidents, people classified as “sinners” or “traitors” and other people who defy or who fail to comply with the standards established by the shunning group(s). Shunning has a long history as a means of organisational influence and control. Extreme forms of shunning and related practices have rendered the general practice controversial in some circles._

    I.e., Friedman is evil and Pastor Atrios has pronounced him dead to the Church of Eschaton. Not censorship, not silencing him or banning him. I give Atrios a 3.0 on the five-point “idiotarian scale”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/007309.php#c5 He is hateful in a way that is dangerous to discourse. By the way, Atrios has lobbied against Friedman since awarding him “the 2003 Colin Powell Award”:http://atrios.blogspot.com/2003_09_14_atrios_archive.html Disagreement is a form of engagement, unlike shunning.

    I’m curious what the reaction would be if A.L. read something stupid Juan Cole said and called on the Winds community to stop reading him. I imagine we would hear jibes that Winds was slipping further from reality into its own rosy-scenario bubble. Am I wrong?

  53. avedis –

    I am not apologizing to anyone re; my comment that Totten is a self-pimping moron and that he – like many conservatives – has defecated on Juan Cole in an irresponsible and shamefull fashion. Actually, it was the Lounsbury who coined the phrase, “Totten is a self pimping moron”. Shall we write in to him and have apologize as well?

    This is your excuse? That Michael Totten criticized Juan Cole – Juan Cole, that non-intellectual, that pompous Israel-hating clown – he dared to criticize the Great Herr Doktor Professor, so you claim he defecated on him, and you trot out a witless insult that isn’t even original?

    Over Juan Cole, the Ward Churchill for Squares?

    By all means write to Lounsbury. He’s your kind of guy. He can listen to you, because I’m tired of it.

  54. …who decides?

    As I noted previously–when you have folks like Malkin twist history into a pretzel in order to suggest internment camps for US citizens is a nifty idea–it’s not hard to see those views might be repugnant.

    Similarly, when you have “serious” pundits like Friedman suggest the killing and displacement of millions of people for the simple reason that we can…that, too, qualifies.

    But let’s explore the flip side of your argument; if we’re discussing something like the Holocaust, should we provide equal time to a David Irving or a David Duke for the purpose of kicking around diverse ideas?

  55. “Um, Francis – can you find the place where I suggest they shut up?”

    AL and Dave Schuler. I think you are both being disingenous in your parsing of what constitues shouting down and/or telling someone to shut up.

    In the Juan Cole example, Totten and Schuler extracted a couple of lines of what Cole said, placed them out of context, and then ripped into Cole. His academic credentials were questioned, draggged through the mud and belittled.

    Then Cole was thrown to the Hyenas in the comments section.

    Now, I don’t agree with everything Cole says. I certainly don’t worship him in any way. I do however have respect for his opinions and perspectives and his education. He speaks Arabic and has traveled throughout muslim lands. He has officially devoted his life to study of the region; it’s politics, culture, religion, etc.

    Those that criticize him most harshly lack the formal expertise to do so. They nit pick and refuse to engage in academic arguments. This, I suppose, because they lack the wherewithal to do so.

    Ledeen? Come on. The guy couldn’t get a job at a formal university because of his being guilty of plagerism. He clearly advocated invading Iraq and other ME countries (and “faster please”) and now denies he ever did; despite an unambigous recorded history of such advocacy. Yet, he slanders Cole or twist some minute point to try to make Cole ignorant and silly. It’s a blatant attack. Ledeen’s little acolyte, Dan Darling, who used to post here did the same with Cole ad nauseum (I always thought that little Danny was bitten by Ledeen and became the undead, doomed to live in eternal darkness off of human blood…..but that’s still no excuse for slandering an educated man and respected academic).

    There is no way that such a man deserves the treatment Totten and others – who lack the intense formal education of Cole and who appear to have their own personal and political agendas – subject him to.

    The purpose of their crude attempts at dismantling Cole is to discredit the man utterly and, thus, effectively silence him.

    What is difference between saying Cole should be shut up and kept out of the media and slandering – baselessly – his credentials and person such that many won’t pay attention to him?

    Is there really a difference? You tell me………..

  56. So many errors by Yehudit, it’s breathtaking.

    WRT Prof. Cole, Mary made the claim that Cole was reviled by his fellow academics. She cited your blog which did not contain the name of one academic. Instead, it contained the usual crowd of neocon sympathizers and dupes.

    The intent to help the iraqis develop representative government was there form the beginning, or why did all those nation-building NGOs flock there as soon as the war was over?

    “Juan Cole on Iraqi Elections”:http://www.juancole.com/2005/01/mixed-story-im-just-appalled-by.html

    “TIME on Neocon dreams to install Chalabi”:http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,441132,00.html

    I like the way Glenn Reynolds put it: “The Middle East needed to be turned-upside down and shaken hard.”

    InstaCracker is fond of saying things like ‘More rubble, less trouble.’ Pretty hard to take him seriously as his foreign policy views tend to fit on bumperstickers.

  57. Yes, nice point Jadegold in #63.

    Notice that Wishard, like many hardcore Cole bashers always mention that Cole is a “Jew-Hater”. Cole has been critical of Israeli policy toward Arabs, their involvement in Neocon policies in the US, etc. However, I have never seen anything in print by Cole to even vaguely suggest he is an anti-semite.

    Yet he is labeled a Jew Hater.

    If this isn’t de facto shutting someone up I don’t know what is.

    But how about Jadegold’s point? “if we’re discussing something like the Holocaust, should we provide equal time to a David Irving or a David Duke for the purpose of kicking around diverse ideas?”

    Would that be allowed here at WIndsofchange? If somewhere else in the blogosphere would WoC advocate shutting down the blog?

    How about a discussion surrounding the idea that maybe Bin Laden has a valid point?

  58. _In the Juan Cole example, Totten and Schuler extracted a couple of lines of what Cole said, placed them out of context, and then ripped into Cole. His academic credentials were questioned, draggged through the mud and belittled._

    Where did Totten and Schuler question or belittle Cole’s credentials? I’m not seeing it.

  59. Guys, I’ve been harsh on Cole – just search for his name on this site – and I think that he’s foolish, politically misguided, and wrong in his interpretation of the current situation in the ME. I still read his blog, and actually took steps to defend him when MEMRI apparently lawyered up against him – until I discovered that Cole had done the same thing.

    There’s a world of difference between disagreeing with someone – even strongly – and advocating that no one should talk to or read them.

    Why is that such a hard distinction to make clear here?

    A.L.

  60. He speaks Arabic and has traveled throughout muslim lands. He has officially devoted his life to study of the region; it’s politics, culture, religion, etc.

    Actually his specialty is 19th c. Iran. Not the current Middle East. And he has never been to Iraq. And many who have actually been to at least as many ME countries as he and more, and with equally scholarly acumen, have very different opinions than he.

    What is difference between saying Cole should be shut up and kept out of the media and slandering – baselessly – his credentials and person such that many won’t pay attention to him?

    His credentials and opinions are open to challenge like anyone elses. Give one example of slander.

    Ledeen? Come on. The guy couldn’t get a job at a formal university because of his being guilty of plagerism. He clearly advocated invading Iraq and other ME countries (and “faster please”) and now denies he ever did; despite an unambigous recorded history of such advocacy.

    I haven’t noticed Ledeen changing his mind about neutralizing Iran’s nuclear capability by force (I don’t know if he actually advocates invading or just airpower, mostly he has advocated supported the indigenous opposition to topple the mullahs from within). I have been reading the Corner almost every day for 2 years and Ledeen posts there frequently – if he changed his mind about Iran and then tried to pretend he hadn’t, I think I would know about it. So if you have any evidence of this I’d like to see it.

  61. I see. Telling your crowd that someone is from the Moon isn’t an attempt at bullying; it’s reasoned discourse.

    I’m pretty sure that I’ve read lengthy explanations on this blog of what constitutes an argument ad hominem.

    Yet calling someone quite literally a lunatic is, apparently, acceptable argument here.

    How is what you did to Atrios any better than anything he did to Friedman? Atrios, at least, has pointed out a consistent record of Friedman’s errors. You haven’t afforded him the same courtesy.

  62. I’ll suggest that people go read this “old post of mine”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/005944.php where I say this:

    We’re on opposite sides of many current issues. I disagree – strongly – with many of your views on the Middle East, but on my blog I publicly challenged MEMRI and personally wrote Yigal Carmon, telling him that what he was doing was wrong.

    My support was essentially a political act – a statement that while we differed in almost every way, I supported your right to speak – as a political act – without the threat and expense of lawyers vetting every word.

    I’ll stand behind that position today.

    A.L.

  63. Francis, Francis you have to read carefully. I said

    “…they really aren’t on the same planet anyway…”

    The Moon reference was to Moon Zappa, who did the vocals on her dad’s song “Valley Girl” which included the memorable phrase “gag me with a spoon”.

    Stick with us, OK?

    A.L.

  64. “Why is that such a hard distinction to make clear here?”

    Because, Marc, there isn’t any interest in your distinction. They like theirs better so as to pretend not to see the hypocrisy.

  65. Actually his specialty is 19th c. Iran. Not the current Middle East.

    In reality, Prof. Cole has written extensively (books and articles) about the modern ME. His specialty is actually the social and cultural history of Egypt and Shi’ite Islam in modern day Iran and Iraq.

    Probably the reason why many neocons disparage Cole is because he turned out to be right about Iraq.

  66. So it all boils down to these words? This is the grand distinction? “All signs point to “pretty hideous human being, one which all good people should shun.”

    I don’t even see where Atrios said that Friedman should “shut up”.

    I ask again how this is different from rightwingnuts that call Cole an anti-semite and similar names; implying of course that he is a pretty hideous person that all good people should shun?

    This is silly. Much to do over the type of thing that occurs in blog wars every day.

    Why oh why do you, Armed Liberal, pick out these little things to try to make “liberals” look bad when there is sooooo much of the same coming from the right?

  67. Rumsfeld’s aides have been promoting a team of exiles led by Iraqi National Congress boss Ahmed Chalabi, 58, a former businessman, to control the interim authority. They view Chalabi as a reliable democrat in a nation of Saddam followers.

    You interpret this as “installing Chalabi as a new strongman”?

    A nice summary of the nation-building debate, from the same article:

    Pentagon officials said repeatedly last week that the military wants to turn the country over to the Iraqis in stages, as soon as possible. Some of them say they need only six months to build a democracy. But officials at the CIA and State believe there is no way the U.S. can even begin to create a stable democracy in six months in a country that has never had one. CIA officials believe a rush to elections might result in the kind of winner—let’s say a radical Islamist party—that the U.S. might be forced to reject outright, a distinctly undemocratic precedent. The Pentagon hard-liners think this attitude underestimates the Iraqi people and note that some former Soviet-bloc countries made the transition in a matter of months.

    So damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The former Soviet-bloc countries that transitioned well had been part of Enlightenment Europe before being conquered by the USSR. They were only going back to their former cultural habits. The countries which had always been part of the feudal Slavic East, not so well. And Russia herself, not so well.

    BTW this is the best summary of “best practices” in nation-building I have seen.

  68. Why oh why do you, Armed Liberal, pick out these little things to try to make “liberals” look bad when there is sooooo much of the same coming from the right?

    The answer, Avedis, is quite apparent.

  69. You interpret this as “installing Chalabi as a new strongman”?

    Gee, Yehudit, who was that Iraqi Strongman sitting behind Laura Bush at the 2004 SoTU address?

    Are you seriously arguing that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle and the Pentagon had no influence within Young Master Bush’s administration? Tell that to Colin Powell.

  70. Good Lord, Jadegold. You’re still accusing me of having a “schtick” after four years. Can’t you come up with a fresh insult after a length of time equal to high school?

    Have you read anything I’ve written during that period?

    I’m writing straight news from Iraq. A bunch of clowns over at Hugh Hewitt’s place accused me of having a left-wing anti-surge agenda a few days ago.

    They are just as stupid as you are, but at least they are stupid about what I am writing right now.

    Let me know when you want to embed with the military and work schtick-free in a war zone and I’ll hook you up with the right people. Don’t worry. You probably won’t die.

  71. It’s nice schtick if you can get it, Michael. Understand you’re blogging for bucks–have you tried a modified Oral Roberts approach? You know, Muqtada al Sadr will reprogram my TiVo if I don’t raise $500?

    Hey, if you can’t have a real career, I suppose schtick beats stealing.

  72. who was that Iraqi Strongman sitting behind Laura Bush at the 2004 SoTU address?

    I give up – who? The last Iraqi strongman was Saddam. My point was that “a team of exiles led by Iraqi National Congress boss Ahmed Chalabi, 58, a former businessman, to control the interim authority” doesn’t equal “new Iraqi strongman.” And you missed it.

    Are you seriously arguing that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle and the Pentagon had no influence within Young Master Bush’s administration? Tell that to Colin Powell.

    I have argued nothing of the kind. Seriously, where are you getting this? You’re swinging wildly. If you’ve spent 4 years calling Michael Totten a tool, you’re probably not worth bothering with. And if you are a defender of Juan Cole, you’ve given me one more reason not to respect him. In fact, your debate style is a bit like his …..

    Okay, this thread has been fun, but troll-feeding time is over. (Can I say that, AL? I do think Jadegold qualifies.)

  73. This article really describes the kind of constraints which presidents operate under. If you want more evidence that the State Dept does its own thing no matter the policy of the executive branch, and why democracy-promotion in Iraq has been compromised, this is an eye-opener.

  74. And Yehudit exits the pattern having refused steadfastly and dishonestly to answer the questions…

    The fact remains the original plan for Iraq was to install Chalabi as a pro-US strongman. This was based on the belief that Iraqis would greet us as liberators.

    Of course, events didn’t quite turn out that way. We were greeted as occupiers and as it turned out, Chalabi had a constituency that would fit inside a small closet.

    In fact, Young Master Bush only got on the “democracy” train after no WMDs were found and the Saddam-9/11 hoax was exposed.

  75. Understand you’re blogging for bucks–have you tried a modified Oral Roberts approach?

    What an absurd, fey reproach. Many bloggers work for money, including ones who call themselves ‘anti-corporate’ and/or anti-capitalist. If I can refrain from being shocked, shocked, by their running doggedness, you, Jadegold, can probably let go of a grudge that you’ve held for – four years?

    A four year grudge – you’re heading into quagmire territory..

  76. Um, Jadegold – cites on that? AFAIK we clearly had the power and Iraqi goodwill to have installed Chalabi had we chosen to. Instead we elected to push for elections and a representative government, which was probably a mistake. We should have pushed for civil society first (think Singapore).

    A.L.

  77. Oh, and jadegold – did I miss the outrage when Kos and the MyDD folks announced they were in it to pay bloggers? Or when Armstrong bitched about crappy dialup and an uncomfy chair?

    Right – the “good” bloggers can get paid, and the “bad” bloggers get starved.

    Feel free to let me know how indignant you are toward Kos and Armstrong…

    A.L.

  78. AFAIK we clearly had the power and Iraqi goodwill to have installed Chalabi had we chosen to.

    Really? When did we ever have that goodwill? According to the “WaPo”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A42905-2003Jun27?language=printer, we cancelled elections that the Iraqis had demanded in June of 2003.

    Again, the “WaPo”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A14718-2003Nov25?language=printer notes Sistani forced Bush’s hand to have elections.

    Even then, “Bush balked”:http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2004/01/19/iraqi_shiites_demand_elections_in_peaceful_protest/

    When elections were inevitable, the Bush Admin, sought to “jimmy”:http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20040531/news_1n31assess.html the elections a bit.

  79. Right – the “good” bloggers can get paid, and the “bad” bloggers get starved.

    Thanks for the mindreading demo.

    I have no problem with bloggers getting paid–even ones with a schtick.

    Kos and MyDD are partisan sites; I daresay they wouldn’t hesitate to admit they are.

    Totten pretends he’s not; that he’s doing ‘straight news.’ That’s the schtick.

  80. Jadegold says: “I have no problem with bloggers getting paid–even ones with a schtick.”.

    Jadegold shows that to be a lie earlier: “It’s nice schtick if you can get it, Michael. Understand you’re blogging for bucks–have you tried a modified Oral Roberts approach? You know, Muqtada al Sadr will reprogram my TiVo if I don’t raise $500?

    Hey, if you can’t have a real career, I suppose schtick beats stealing.”

    I think we see who has a schtick. And its an old one.

  81. Quiz time for those who say I have a schick:

    1. Who did I vote for in the last election?

    2. Who will I vote for in the next election?

    3. Why did Hugh Hewitt’s readers accuse me of having a left-wing agenda?

    4. Which magazine accredited by embed with the military, and what is their point of view on the war in Iraq?

  82. Answers to the previous questions:

    1. Democrats straight down the line.

    2. I don’t know.

    3. Because I reported bad news from Iraq and explained why I am pessimistic about the eventual outcome.

    4. Reason Magazine, which has an anti-war editorial line.

    Any other clueless people feel like taking a shot at me?

  83. Jadegold: Hey, if you can’t have a real career, I suppose schtick beats stealing.

    Salon.com offered to pay me for stories, but I can raise more money from blog readers.

    Actually, I get quite a few offers from editors who want to pay me for stories, but I usually say no. What I’m doing works very well for me because I have 100 percent freedom and I don’t have to worry about straying fron anyone’s “reservation.”

    You really have no idea who I am, what I write, or goes on in my life.

  84. Understand you’re blogging for bucks

    If I were independently wealthy I wouldn’t. But trips to Iraq don’t pay for themselves.

    Why don’t you get a blog and see if anyone thinks you’re good enough that they will give you money to go there. I can help hook you up with the Army and suggest what kind of body armor to buy.

  85. Such schtick, Michael. I guess folks like Hugh Hewitt and David Horowitz and TCS give you a forum because you’re so even-handed.

    The schtick is that folks like Hewitt, Horowitz and TCS can pretend to have the “liberal” blogger who trashes all that is liberal.

    It’s so Esmay.

  86. And it has been a long time since I have trashed liberals. Much more recently, I voted for them. Might do it again next year, too. Maybe not. I don’t know, and I don’t really care about domestic politics — which is why I switched to reporting. I made that switch a long time ago. It’s hard to care about the stupid irrelevant crap you obsess over while working in and writing about war zones.

    My headspace is in Iraq where politics is wrangled over with car bombs, not juvenile insults on blogs. And on that note, I’m out of here. The last word is yours. Do see if you can come up with a fresh insult. You’ve had years. Something must have occured to you by now. Try reading my latest dispatch and see if you can find something relevant to today.

    Thanks to those of you who actually read my work and defend it whether you agree with my opinions or not.

  87. As a rule, I don’t participate in conversations like this–I don’t “get” it. But since Michael Totten has now stuck his head in to receive his quota of abuse, I thought I’d add that I appreciate his dispatches appearing here and at his own site. Good on him for doing it and paying the bills, and I’ll be glad to help.

    Totten’s returning to the roots of journalism with what he does. Ernie Pyle might or might not agree with Totten’s particular take on issues in Kurdistan, Lebanon, Israel, Baghdad, the US–but I think he’d recognize Totten’s approach, and applaud it.

    I can see why the netroots would loathe him. I can see why Hewitt’s doctrinaire audience would, too. Hey Michael, that’s not a sign that you’re doing everything right.

    But you could take it as a sign that you’re doing some things right.

  88. _Jadegold just hit the Godwin point._

    Yes, I believe that was his point.

    He was claiming there *is* a Godwin point, and he proved it by example.

  89. _This is your excuse? That Michael Totten criticized Juan Cole – Juan Cole, that non-intellectual, that pompous Israel-hating clown – he dared to criticize the Great Herr Doktor Professor, so you claim he defecated on him, and you trot out a witless insult that isn’t even original?_

    _Over Juan Cole, the Ward Churchill for Squares?_

    So, Totten criticised Juan Cole, probably unjustly, and Jadegold criticised Totten, probably unjustly, and you —

    Pot. Kettle.

    This is a bipartisan circular firing squad. If it wasn’t so serious it would be funny.

    It take it back. It isn’t serious at all. It’s hilarious. Not like anybody takes any of us seriously.

  90. AMac: Conflating Ernie Pyle with Totten’s schtick is beyond the pale. It’s comparing a meal at a Michelin 3-star restaurant with Velveeta on saltines.

    Pyle was an MSM war journalist who often wrote about the war from the perspective of the average soldier–what their gripes were and how they passed their time.

    Totten’s schtick is to pretend he’s a liberal who just hates liberalism because they don’t worship Young Master Bush’s war of civilizations.

  91. Michael Totten, I don’t accuse you of having a schtick. I don’t even see why saying you have a schtick would be an accusation, why it would be a bad thing if it were true. However, you asked for answers to some questions and I can answer one of them.

    _3. Why did Hugh Hewitt’s readers accuse me of having a left-wing agenda?_

    Because you said something they didn’t want to hear. You don’t get a lot of credibility for being unbiased by getting slammed by Hewitt (not that you need a lot) because they’ll say that about practically *anybody*. If Shwartzkopf or Petraeus said something those guys didn’t like they’d probably say they had a left-wing agenda too.

    I’m saying this without reading a whole lot of Hewitt. What I read didn’t make any sense beyond a shallow emotional appeal so I quit. If somebody hasn’t formed an opinion on Hewitt themselves and considers me a credible reviewer, I’ll recommend that they not bother with Hewitt either. I don’t consider this recommendation any form of censorship.

  92. Nope, Jadegold can’t find a new insult. I just couldn’t resist coming back here to check.

    I haven’t written about liberals for years, you silly man, nor have I written about George W. Bush. I could not possibly care less one way or the other about either. I really just do not give a shit.

    You are an amazingly parochial individual for thinking everyone is interested in your pet irrelevent issues.

    Guess what? My wife is a liberal and she also doesn’t like politics. Anyone who goes on about it in her presence for more than 30 seconds in a row is told in no uncertain terms to change the subject and move on to something more civilized. That’s because she grew up with a monomanical father who just could not shut up about it. The only difference between you and him is that he’s a right-wing nut who thinks everyone else in the room obsesses over Bill and Hillary Clinton as much as he does. But they don’t, and he drives everyone nuts.

    Free advice: Try to interact with others like a normal person, and recognize people for who they are. You might get a warmer response. Few people here mind that you’re a liberal. What people don’t like is that you’re an ass about it.

    Almost every dear family member and friend I have in the world is a liberal. I have political friction with none of them.

  93. “who was that Iraqi Strongman sitting behind Laura Bush at the 2004 SoTU address?”

    _I give up – who? The last Iraqi strongman was Saddam. My point was that “a team of exiles led by Iraqi National Congress boss Ahmed Chalabi, 58, a former businessman, to control the interim authority” doesn’t equal “new Iraqi strongman.”_

    Well, it might. There’s a lot of room for interpretation in all that. My interpretation was like Jadegold’s, but it’s hard to be sure what was going on in Bush’s mind, at least until we see what he was telling his people in private.

    “control the interim authority” was certainly a stepping-stone toward eventual control, if they intended it to go that way.

    It looked to me like Garner was pushing ahead with elections, and then Bremer came in (one month or so late) and stopped all that. We’d been doing local elections, mayors and city councils and such, and some of them were getting won by religious people, and Bremer just threw out the elections and appointed people he wanted. Not a good foundation for democracy at all. And it pretty much stayed that way until Bremer was gone. I tend to figure that Bremer was following policy and not just doing all that on his own, but it’s vaguely possible he was blocking democracy entirely on his own initiative.

  94. Michael J Totten-

    Glad to see you here. I read EVERYTHING you write, EVERYTHING!

    I have sent you money. I am a Right Wing Nazi Death Beast Neo-Con psychotic jackbooted Republican who USED to be a Progressive Democrat. Dad was a member of the Party life long – yeah, that party. Mom was a Progressive Democrat who HATED all things conservative including my politics.

    I sometimes disagree with your slant on things when I can detect it BUT you are the most balanced reporter from Iraq I have EVER read. KEEP IT UP! I will go hit the tip jar again straightaway. I also read EVERYTHING Michael Yon writes and send him money, too. You guys are THE ONLY thrue window into that part of the owrld and what is truly going on.

    Pay no attention to Jadegold – she is a minor troll and VERY irritating.

    Thanks for all you do……

    The Hobo

  95. #102 from Michael J.Totten: “Thanks to those of you who actually read my work and defend it whether you agree with my opinions or not.”

    Thank you, Michael J.Totten.

  96. _There’s a world of difference between disagreeing with someone – even strongly – and advocating that no one should talk to or read them._

    _Why is that such a hard distinction to make clear here?_

    I see that distinction, but it isn’t the one I prefer to draw.

    I say there’s a world of difference between a powerless individual advising that others ignore somebody, and actually shutting down opportunities for them to be heard by people who do want to.

    If I were to say that in my experience LGF is not a place to find reasoned, balanced discussion and people who’re looking for that should stay away, I don’t think that’s censorship any more than a bad restaurant review is censorship. If some people who would feel their time at LGF was wasted manage to avoid wasting their time there from my review, that isn’t particularly a bad thing. If they check it out for themselves that isn’t a bad thing either.

    If I say that LGF ought to get shut down, that seems worse. I have absolutely no ability to shut down anybody’s blog, but if I advocate it then I’m advocating censorship which is a bad thing even when my opinion has very very little effect on anybody who can actually censor. But there’s the chance that somebody who can censor and who wants to censor, will use my statement as proof that the netroots like censorship. Stranger things have happened. Don’t advocate censorship because you may have more influence than you think you do. But suggesting that people voluntarily ignore somebody, when you have now power to shut him down and no power over those you suggest to? To me that seems harmless. Plenty of people have suggested that others ignore me. It’s just part of the game.

  97. What was this thread about again?

    Now I remember; it was “Avedis Makes Duncan Black Look Like a Warm, Caring Human Being.”

    Why oh why do you, Armed Liberal, pick out these little things to try to make “liberals” look bad when there is sooooo much of the same coming from the right?

    Thank God you’re here to make “liberals” look good with your comments. If they get any more help from folks like you, those quotations marks are going to be permanent.

    Like the time you offered to bet us all that the Virginia Tech killer was a Jew. What kind of conclusion am I supposed to draw from that?

    I’ve learned things from several of the people in this thread. Even the “dirty effing hippies”. I never learn anything from you, unless it’s tragic stuff about the human condition that I would rather get from a novel by a dead Frenchman.

    I don’t despise you, or even people like you, even when I despise the things you stand for. I respect people who stand up for what they believe in, even if they’re crazier than hell. But I don’t know what you believe, who you are, what you’re trying to communicate, or even if you believe a single word you say.

  98. TOC: Micheal, do me a favor and write. stop wasting your time defending yourself here. You have better things to do.

    Yes, you are right. And my latest is posted.

    It’s just hard to resist humorous insults from trolls about blog posts that are several years old. Apparently I haven’t written anything all that bad in a while.

  99. Glen

    For the Umpteenth time, I am not a liberal. I have no interest whatsoever in doing anything at all for the liberal image; positive or negative.

    That being said, I do think that the Bush/ Cheney crew (includes Wolfowitz, etal) are batshit crazy and very dangerous.

    I think that the invasion of Iraq was a vast tragedy that is doomed to fail and that the way we were led into it is a methodology that threatens the very foundation upon which this country and our way of life stands.

    You see, I am a patriot and I believe very strongly in the freedoms that our Constitution grants us. I believe strongly in a system of checks and balances that is designed to dilute the concentration od power. I feel very strongly when political and corporate interests undermine the letter and/or intent of that document.

    Furthermore, I am a strong supporter of our Armed Forces.

    Finally, I do not think that BSing about how things are helps anyone; even if that means facing a truth that is unpleasant and shows some cause, person or institution that we favor in a negative light.

    I do not see how creating little political morality plays about liberals versus conservatives is beneficial to the preservation of our way of life. I indulge in these things – as here now – somewhat tongue in cheek and to act as a subterfuge to the mob.

    You object to me – as do some others here – because you live in a black/white world where you erect sacred idols that you deem to be perfect in all aspects and therefore beyond negative critique. I actually care for some of those things, but realize that by realistically examining them we can find their faults and improve them so that they might endure and enfure in ever better form and substance.

    OK? Does that help with your comprehension of me, Glen?

  100. ……and yes…..”Like the time you offered to bet us all that the Virginia Tech killer was a Jew”

    After several here offered that it might have been an Arab/muslim……

    Just pointing about, by substituting “Jew” for Arab, how stupid and offensive that sort of thinking can be.

  101. Jadegold, amusingly enough Rudy just might win – in no small part because people like me are repulsed by the kind of tone you set out here.

    I’ll probably support a Democratic candidate (I’ve got a post coming explaining why), but a decent number of people I know who are ‘wobbly democrats’ – what Kossaks would call ‘concern trolls’ may not.

    There’re few other explanations as to why the GOP is even in the game at this point.

    A.L.

  102. Jadegold: The ‘some of my best friends are…’ schtick.

    What, do you think I’m making that up? I live in Portland. We have very few conservatives here. And my wife is a feminist from Los Angeles.

    Do you know why you’re wrong about everything you say about me? Because you don’t know me. You can’t win this argument.

  103. Actually, I’ve always understood a concern troll as someone who is a liberal but typically criticizes liberals.

    In my case it’s – as I’ve said before – both because I’d like liberals to win,and to deserve winning once they get there.

    A.L.

  104. OK? Does that help with your comprehension of me, Glen?

    Am I supposed to address my answer to you, or to the Mr. Staunch Conservative hand puppet?

    Either way, the answer is the same: Matthew 7:16. Never try to gather grapes from a thorn bush.

  105. That link to the concern troll definition is pretty funny. It’s about Jadegold’s people.

    When contacted late Wednesday night for comment, Mayor Herenton gave a typically frank response to allegations of “concern trolling.”

    “A what? In all the years I’ve been mayor of this city, that’s the most punk-ass thing I’ve ever been called,” the mayor said. “Quit wasting my time,” he added, before abruptly terminating the telephone interview.

  106. Actually, Rudy can’t win. I believe Rudy even understands this but is campaigning in order to burnish his credentials. He’s not going to excite the religious extremists and the red meat GOPers.

    Additionally, Rudy’s public and private life is an absolute allday plane crash.

    To say I’m driving thoughtful, concerned liberals like AL to Rudy is pretty funny.

  107. Michael: I think Roy Edroso captured your schtick very well:

    I could have easily dismissed this Althouse schtick with a Shorter. It is classic psuedo-moderate malarkey in the manner of Roger L. Simon and Michael Totten, etc, and follows their formula explicitly:
    -standard “I’m a moderate” assertion;
    -highly negative characterization of liberals (“looking for heretics,” “curl up with your little group of insiders”);
    -unflattering comparison of liberals to conservatives, who “perceive me as a potential ally”;
    -several reader quotes about what deluded totalitarians liberals are (and comments which endlessly reiterate this theme);
    -mild qualifying statement (“I don’t think all the irrational blogging is on the left”), for cover;
    “I find it terribly, terribly sad.”

  108. _Jadegold, amusingly enough Rudy just might win – in no small part because people like me are repulsed by the kind of tone you set out here._

    [….]

    _There’re few other explanations as to why the GOP is even in the game at this point._

    If uncouth democrat supporters can get people to vote republican, then GOP partisans will pose as uncouth democrat supporters. It’s how they work.

    Beyond that, it looks like the democrats have no party discipline. A lot of them are afraid, maybe a lot of them are getting blackmailed for this or that. THey don’t present any bold plans or even agree to oppose Bush as the voters gave them a mandate to do. So a lot of voters are discouraged. I’d vote libertarian in 2008 if I thought they could win.

  109. Jadegold,

    How many times do I have to tell you? I haven’t written domestic political commentary for years. I work as a reporter in the Middle East. None of what you say is remotely relevant. I don’t write about American politics.

    All you have to do is click over to my blog and read it and you’ll see. Heck, my current piece is posted right here on Winds of Change. If you have read it and you still think I’m writing about “liberals,” then you are sand-poundingly stupid.

    I like writing that. Sand-poundingly stupid. That’s you.

    It is, of course, a waste of time to reiterate this. Everyone here who reads my work knows you are stuck many years in the past. I have to say it’s amusing, though, to see how long you can keep hurling bolts so wide of the mark before you catch up.

    You live in your own time zone.

  110. Actually, Jadegold, thanks for making my case for me. Can’t counter the argument well, so slime the messenger.

    I’m gonna call a halt on your sliming of Totten here. You’re welcome to engage his points and arguments, but I’m done giving you space to slime him as a person.

    And as noted in the post above, I think it’s time you made a substantive argument in support of your position to earn your bandwidth here.

    So step up and swing away.

    A.L.

  111. JT – that reads kind of tin-foil hatty to me – are those really the arguments you want to make – that secret GOP supporters have positioned themselves as fake liberals who are disgusted with prog-bloggers?

    I mean I could tell you that I’ve voted for two Republicans in my life – Bush in 04 and a local Congressional candidate in protest (I knew he’d lose) against Harman bigfooting a strong local Democratic candidate – but how would you know I’m telling the truth?

    Then again, how do you know I’m not an alien lizard hell-bent on triggering worldwide biological war and thus weakening the human race while improving the climate for the rest of my species?

    A.L.

  112. Jadegold #126 —

    I thought you meant that Roy Edroso had something insightful to say about Totten. After I looked around, I realized that isn’t what you’d said. Anyway, from his blog–

    * the “Psuedo-liberal stuff you copied (2006)”:http://alicublog.blogspot.com/2006_02_05_archive.html#113959199904781694

    * “compaints about ‘protest babe’ remarks (2005)”:http://alicublog.blogspot.com/2005_03_13_archive.html#111099148354983392

    * “Nick Berg snippishness (2004)”:http://alicublog.blogspot.com/2004_05_16_archive.html#108494457492338935

    * other “pseudo-liberal remarks (2004)”:http://alicublog.blogspot.com/2004_12_12_archive.html#110330120468281790

    Edroso writes for an audience that already understands that his opinions are the correct ones. Uplifiting, I suppose, if you’re part of that congregation. Otherwise, a tedious read. Interchangable with dozens of other blogs. Swap out his version of politics for another (lefty or righty) and ‘dozens’ probably goes to ‘hundreds.’

    Thanks, but I prefer Totten.

  113. AL, people who get persuaded who to vote for by the worst supporters on one side are, well, mostly stupid.

    We could for example ask David Duke who he’ll vote for and make sure we vote for somebody else. Or write to Charles Manson and ask him who he’d vote for if he could vote, and vote against his candidates too. Etc.

    If we let LGF decide who we voted for, then the GOP wouldn’t get many votes at all, right?

    The problem is, there are enough citizens who’re plain bat-guano insane that we can’t expect them to all line up on one side. You can find crazy people supporting any side you choose. They aren’t the ones to pay attention to.

    And yes, if you do use that to decide your vote, the GOP will try to manipulate it. You said there were only a few reasons the GOP is still in the game at this point. Well, they get a lot of money and have a tremendous amount of media support, and they are careful to exploit every unfair advantage they can find. Making fake campaign pamphlets for their opponents is not beyond them. Why not fake push-polls that appear to be from democrats? Why not fake moonbats on blogs? Whatever works.

    You talk about tinfoil hats, but does “Whatever works” sound like a bad description of GOP campaign strategy to you?

  114. On Totten: Whether he’s atoned for his 2003 mistake or not, his current reporting is something I can’t read many other places. I always read it.

    On Chalabi: Let’s be serious. Rumsfeld’s original plan was to have a drawdown to 30K US troops by Xmas 2003. (I’m at my office machine, which doesn’t have the bookmarked links I usually insert at this point in the discussion.) What government, exactly, did Rumsfeld think we would be dealing with then, if not Ahmad Chalabi? Chalabi assured us of his in-country support, just as he assured us his associates knew where WMD were located. Last month the Vice President was reported in The Weekly Standard as saying

    In retrospect, he [Cheney] says, the mechanism for U.S. governance in postwar Iraq was a failure. “I think we should have probably gone with the provisional government of Iraqis from the very outset, maybe even before we launched. I think the Coalition Provisional Authority was a mistake, wasted valuable time.”

    Now, the only provisional government we could have set up before launch would have consisted of exile leaders, and of these Chalabi was by far the best-connected in Washington. Recall, we didn’t understand the importance of Ayatollah Sistani and Moqtada Al-Sadr when we invaded. We didn’t, in fact, know or prepare for one damn thing about what would happen when the Ba’ath Party was deposed (“Freedom is untidy” as a response to mass looting?!), and it shows to this day.

    On silencing one’s critics: No one is calling for censorship. What Atrios points out repeatedly is that the MSM does not seem to have imposed any sort of Quality Control program on the punditocracy subsequent to their phenomenally wrong predictions about Iraq. Last Throes Cheney, he got re-elected, that we have to deal with. But Bill Kristol, he of

    There’s been a certain amount of pop sociology in America … that the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.

    what is he doing still on the airwaves? If there is a free market in ideas, we seem to have a market failure! Of course, no one of any political stripe thinks the MSM is a free market of ideas; we only differ on the ways in which it is unfair and what might be done to improve it. This is important, when those who were wrong before are trying to go double-or-nothing on Iran.

    A small group of neoconservatives is ever-more-loudly beating the drums for military action against Iran – and getting a lot of attention.[…] The people involved and their arguments are all too familiar: They are more or less the same so-called “experts” who enthusiastically advocated the invasion of Iraq, making similarly authoritative-sounding declarations about the uselessness of diplomacy and the easy triumph of military might. But far from being ignored – not to mention laughed out of town – these neoconservatives are getting their message out largely unrefuted. [my emphasis]

  115. First, MJT’s reporting from Lebanon alone puts him squarely in Michael Yon territory. His reporting from Baghdad about the squad patrol and the night visit was classic and well done.

    I damn well felt I was there. You could sense the risk to life and limb and family that some of these Iraqis have taken on in a bid to reduce the psychotic chaos and politically driven violence in their own land.

    If this is “schtick”, we need more of it.

  116. J. Thomas:

    bq. You talk about tinfoil hats, but does “Whatever works” sound like a bad description of GOP campaign strategy to you?

    Are you using dialup to connect? I think line noise inserted an extraneous “GOP” in there.

    Everybody in policy roles in national politics (the “kingmakers” of the modern day) is always at least _thinking_ of what they can get away with. What you said about crazies existing on both sides also applies to consequentialist or utterly unprincipled a-holes. QED.

    Curmudgeonlily driving by,

    Nort the bleary-eyed.

  117. To clarify, when I said

    bq. Everybody in policy roles in national politics

    I meant “…in national political _campaigns_”.

    The other is also true, but not on point.

  118. _Everybody in policy roles in national politics (the “kingmakers” of the modern day) is always at least thinking of what they can get away with. What you said about crazies existing on both sides also applies to consequentialist or utterly unprincipled a-holes._

    Sure, and it looks to me like the GOP has the methodology down far better to use those guys effectively. Maybe it’s the liberal biased media that makes me think so, maybe they constantly talk about GOP dirty tricks and mostly fail to mention democrats doing slime attacks.

    Though I heard about a recent example in louisiana. Some democrats favoring a candidate who was almost certain to lose anyway, made a religious attack, they quoted him saying some things that were designed to disgust protestants, ignoring that those same things are standard catholic doctrine and he wasn’t actually saying anything the least bit controversial, just things that would disgust protestants. A bunch of democrats jumped on it and said it was wrong to do that.

  119. _Some democrats favoring a candidate who was almost certain to lose anyway, made a religious attack, they quoted him saying some things that were designed to disgust protestants,_

    Oops! They quoted the opponent, the winning candidate. Not the democrat they supported. Sorry about that.

  120. Are you stoned?

    No, really. Are you? You’re seriously suggesting that saying thinking people ought to “shun” the ideas of someone who has amply demonstrated his political stupidity over the last half dozen years, is the same as “gagging” someone or attempting to censor them?

    My my my. Are you clutching your pearls on the fainting couch as you write this?

  121. No Brian, I don’t wear them. They clash with my sweaters.

    And there’s a world of difference between saying – this guy’s been wrong for fifty years – and demonstrating the point – and saying “don’t go there!! what he says is soooooo offensive and upsetting and violates my norms so much that no one should go there and see what he says!!”

    …which is what seems fine to you. Kind of like the breathless cardigan-wearers outside bookstores selling Henry Miller back in the 50’s.

    At least you have an honorable tradition to fall back on…

    A.L.

  122. In this case, Black can’t lower the discourse any futher, because Thomas Friedman’s entire career is based on lowering the discourse. I think it would only take a handful of monkeys a few decades to replicate his work. He produces pictograms for the pseudo-intelligent and pseudo-informed.

    But don’t take my word for it:

    Buffalo Beast’s 2005 write up for him as one of America’s most loathesome individuals:

    “7. Thomas Friedman

    Charges: The worst of all creatures in the political opinion jungle: a cretin who thinks he’s a genius. Friedman’s intolerable knack for converting irreducibly complex geopolitical/socioeconomic situations into simplistic, tin-eared insta-clichés makes him one of the most dangerous people on the planet, arming people even stupider than him with the illusion of knowledge in the form of a crude vocabulary of badly mixed metaphors and ill-conceived flashcard images, thereby having a negative net effect on the nation’s intellect. India and China are “like a bottle of champagne” which someone has been “shaking for 40 years;” the modern economy dictates that “you need to be at a certain level to be able to claim your share of a global pie that is both expanding and becoming more complex;” and the threat of terrorism is a “bubble” that threatens to “undermine” open society. Friedman’s disorienting literary ineptitude is nearly enough to distract us from the indisputable fact that he has no fucking idea what he’s talking about. For this dolt-friendly parlor trick and a slavish devotion to globalization and technology as abstract, almost mystical tenets, Friedman has achieved iconic status. Exhibits the easy smile and benevolent smugness of an unjustly celebrated man who has never thought very deeply or rigorously about anything at all.

    Exhibit A: Despite his constant exaltation of the internet as some kind of global cure-all, Friedman had to actually fly to London to discover that European newspapers were having misgivings about Guantanamo Bay.

    Sentence: Column outsourced to Bangalore, where there is some difficulty in finding a peasant ignorant and ineloquent enough to please his audience. Compelled at gunpoint to write a 500-page retraction of his recent best-seller, called No, Actually the World is Round.”

    6. Michael Jackson

    By the always excellent Matt Taibbi:
    http://buffalobeast.com/73/feature4.htm

  123. [Jadegold, you’re banned. benched until Sept. 22. If you comment again during that period, I’ll ban you. feel free to email me to have me explain in greater detail.

    A.L.]

  124. I’m just waiting for an explanation of why we should great any word out of Friedman’s mouth or line from his pen with anything other than howls of derisive laughter.

  125. dad – you’re welcome to laugh derisively at Friedman, me, or anyone else you choose to. What – in my world – you’re not welcome to do is to do so in away that prevents or tries to prevent others from reading him, or me, and making up their own minds (although they certainly may make up their own minds not to read him, me, or you based on the laughter they hear).

    Make a little more sense to you?

    A.L.

  126. I’m not trying to stop anybody from reading his tiresome blather, nor would I succeed even if I tried. The man writes a column for the most important Op/Ed page in the country. What I’m curious in discovering, however, is why he is taken so seriously by people who claim to be intellectuals.

    One of the major problems in this country is that people who are transparently ignorant, dishonest and wrong are not only not ridiculed, except on blogs which nobody reads anyway, but are still consulted as experts and oracles on all matters, foreign and domestic. (cf. http://radaronline.com/features/2007/01/betting_on_iraq_1.php)

    So: what is Thomas Friedman’s great insight? Why does he deserve a place on the NY Times’ Op/Ed page?

    Black can’t lower the discourse when it comes to The Moustache because, as I said before, Friedman’s function is to lower the discourse, to spout platitudes and folky dullicisms in the place of analysis and thought.

    Because I stand by my characterization of Friedman, echoing Taibbi’s, that the man is a fraud, a mainstream and somehow Very Serious version of a Crib Notes writer, who has been wrong about nearly everything since he left Beirut.

  127. Maybe it makes sense to you, but I still don’t get it.

    Did Atrios prevent people from reading Tom Friedman? No. Did he try to prevent people from reading Tom Friedman? No. If you believe either of these two is “yes” then let me know what steps Atrios has taken to stop me from reading Tom Friedman.

  128. _Welcome, visitors from Alicublog…feel free to keep showing off your intelligence and class…but don’t bother the grownups when they are talking, OK?_

    This is how I feel about Friedman. I don’t want to refute him weekly. I don’t want to discuss his shallow stupid ideas. I claim that he just plain isn’t worth it, that when he gets attention from grownups that he’s bothering the grownups while they’re talking.

    I say he isn’t worth reading, much less refuting. We’re better off if everybody ignores him. But it’s harder to ignore him when the NY Times publishes his stupid editorials. I recommend the NY Times fire him and if he wants to make a blog for me to ignre that’s fine. However, I don’t even have a NY Times subscription to cancel in protest for his editorials, so I doubt they’ll pay much attention to my opinion.

    I don’t think his ideas are worth refuting, but if somebody who thinks he’s said something brilliant wants to repeat it, I might possibly refute it here. Or I might think that you’re saying something that doesn’t deserve the time it takes to refute, either.

    This doesn’t feel like censorship to me.

  129. Has anyone here read Thomas Friedman’s From Beirut to Jerusalem? It won the National Book Award.

    Can any of you who say Friedman doesn’t know what he’s talking about do a better job covering Lebanon? Please show us your work.

  130. Here’s a sample of Thomas Friedman’s work. If you think you’re smarter and better, prove it.

    Beirut was never just a city. It was an idea – an idea that meant something not only to the Lebanese but to the entire Arab world. While today just the word “Beirut” evokes images of hell on earth, for years Beirut represented – maybe dishonestly – something quite different, something almost gentle; the idea of coexistence and the spirit of tolerance, the idea that diverse religious communities – Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, and Druze – could live together, and even thrive, in one city and one country without having to abandon altogether their individual identities.

    […]

    Many Lebanese were either too young to remember or too poor to have ever tasted the cosmopolitan life of the Beirut city center, so they never mourned its passing. But for those members of the Christian and Muslim bourgeoisie who really exploited the beautiful side of Beirut, life will never be quite the same again without it. True, they had never paid much attention to the Shiite, Palestinian, and even Christian underclasses upon whose backs Beirut’s joie de vivre rested, and they believed in the fantasy of Lebanese democracy much more than they ever should have, but they were my friends and I happened to be a witness when their world was murdered.
    Long after the civil war began, many of these true Beirutis kept the addresses of their offices in the ravaged city center on their stationary as symbols of solidarity with the past and hope for the future. As the years went by, some of them emigrated, unable to tolerate a Beirut in which Christians and Muslims were being forced to live in separate, isolated ghettos. But many of them stayed, and today they form a whole new class of Beirut refugees. They are existential refugees, homeless souls, internal exiles. They are still sitting in their old apartments with bucolic paintings of the Lebanese countryside decorating the walls, in their favorite chairs with their favorite slippers – but they are no longer at home and never will be again.

  131. Is there supposed to be something smart or good about that passage? It’s stylish in a literary sort of way, but the information content is very low. Not nearly up to Michael Totten’s usual level.

  132. I mean, if someone says Friedman is a bad writer, they had better be able to write better than he can. Or at least show a little humility when making the charge.

    I may think Keanu Reeves, for example, is a bad actor, but he can act better than I can so I’m not going to be an ass about it in public.

  133. I may think Keanu Reeves, for example, is a bad actor, but he can act better than I can so I’m not going to be an ass about it in public.

    Ah. There should be no criticism of books, movies, or policies unless you have demonstrated that you can do better. Nice sandbox you got there kid.

    Regarding Iraq millions of people around the world demonstrated that they knew better on the policy front by saying “don’t do it.”

  134. Gee, Mikey, I believe I said that he has not written anything decent *since* he left Beirut. “From Beirut to Jerusalem” was a decent enough book, as far as journalistic memoirs go. Stylistically it was fine, analytically it foreshadowed Friedman’s segue from on-the-ground reported to Very Serious Policy Analyst. It is far outstripped by Robert Fisk’s work, however.

    But the larger point is that while he earned renown for his work as a journalist in Beirut, it is two later tomes, on globalization, his column at the Times, and his myriad appearaces on television that have made him famous and Very Serious.

    And that vast body of “work” is filled with inanities, half-truths, pseudo-insights, poor analysis, and grotesque manglings of the English language. If he were one of my students he’d get a C-, tops.

  135. Righteous,

    “Ah. There should be no criticism of books, movies, or policies unless you have demonstrated that you can do better. Nice sandbox you got there kid.”

    I don’t think that was the point being made. Friedman’s writing style was criticized in a comment that was itself poorly written. It seems fair to point that out.

  136. I don’t think that was the point being made. Friedman’s writing style was criticized in a comment that was itself poorly written. It seems fair to point that out.

    You’re correct regarding the original quibble, but look again at how Totten illustrates it:

    I may think Keanu Reeves, for example, is a bad actor, but he can act better than I can so I’m not going to be an ass about it in public.

    If Totten illustrates his argument with obvious hogwash it’s pretty clear that he’s unlikely to understand the fellow he’s so het up on defending.

  137. Armed Liberal –

    One, its dada – get it? And are you going to drag out the old anticapitalistsandanachistswhohavetoliveinthecapitalistsystemandare thereforesometypeofhypocrite canard again? Y’know, you can be stuck within a system and still oppose it, y’know? That’s the old motivating idea behind “dissidence”.

    Two, *Pity the Nation* is a far superior work to Friedman’s *From Beirut to Jerusalem*, both stylistically and analytically.

    Three, nobody has addressed the substantial point re: the total crappiness of Friedman’s post-Lebanon work.

  138. Dada,

    I haven’t read Friedman’s entire body of work, but I have read “Because we Could” and he’s absolutely right in that essay. For all its multicultural rhetoric, the left seems to believe, to paraphrase the Marine colonel in _Full Metal Jacket_, “Inside every Arab, there’s an American struggling to get out.” Not every culture considers the same things rational and sane. Some cultures worship strength even when that strength is used to brutally oppress them, and they despise weakness, however noble the intentions from which that weakness springs. In fact, some confuse those intentions themselves with weakness so that displaying them invites attack. What Churchill said about the Germans is doubly true of Middle Eastern cultures, “They are either at your feet or at your throat.” That’s why I favored the invasion of Iraq. The reason it’s become such a disaster is because the Neocons convinced Bush that inside every Arab there’s an American struggling to get out. Instead of kicking Saddam out, installing a Saddam lite and leaving the barbarians to their unspeakable folkways, we tried to turn them into a Democracy. No wonder we failed.

  139. This is what I am saying:

    1. His work, particularly on globalization, is painfully shallow and in many ways self-serving. He lauds the efforts of different corporations and government entities, and then lards his already substantial wealth by charging 5 figure speakers fees to address gatherings of these same corporations. He is, of course, not the only one who does this, but he is an egregious repeat offender. His globalization reporting his almost entirely praise for his friends masquerading as analysis. He knows nothing about history, and little about economics.

    2. His writing style is an affront to English, though it is, in many ways, a perfect example of the damage caused to our discourse by advertising, PR, spin and techno-babble. He is of course not the only individual guilty of this (cf. David Brooks).

    3. Shunned? What do you mean shunned? How am I supposed to make anybody “shun” Thomas Friedman – he is the insideriest insider imaginable. He tells the elite what they want to hear. I try to avoid reading his claptrap – which is unfortunately difficult because I teach for a living, and I teach courses on globalization, and Friedman has had a pernicious influence on what most people, especially my undergraduates, understand globalization to be. So in this sense I can’t shun him because he is like living CW. But I don’t enjoy reading him – because I don’t enjoy being snowed by corporate and government propaganda masquerading as thought.

    4. I have no problem with Friedman continuing his reign of imbecility, everyone needs something to laugh at in the morning paper. What infuriates me and so many others is that voices and experts (and no I am not including myself) that actually know something about globalization, the Middle East, and US Foreign Policy, but don’t agree with the Washington Consensus, do not exist in the national conversation. That is not only patently unfair; it is tragic because it leads to dramatic blunders like the Iraq debacle.

  140. “I haven’t read Friedman’s entire body of work, but I have read “Because we Could” and he’s absolutely right in that essay. For all its multicultural rhetoric, the left seems to believe, to paraphrase the Marine colonel in Full Metal Jacket, “Inside every Arab, there’s an American struggling to get out.””

    But that essay was just half-hearted mea culpa for being wrong about WMD mixed with projection. He blamed “the Left” for what he himself was guilty: believing Bush’s ridiculous horseshit about spreading democracy. Friedman was embarassed that he fell for it, embarassed that he, the great oracle, had been proved wrong, and thus that ridiculous column.

    That column itself has become a historical document – it perfectly encapsulates and summarizes the tortured intellectual acrobatics war-supporters had to perform to justify the illegal invasion of a sovereign nation when the casus belli turned out to be a total lie. If we had a serious – rather than Serious – national discourse, that column would have gotten Friedman fired from the Times for sheer intellectual and moral hypocrisy.

    You must not know very much about “the Left”, because most Leftists I know do not believe, and never have believed, that inside every Arab there is an American struggling to get out. Maybe some leftish liberals you know believe that – y’know, like the war-supporters at TNR – but most leftists I know don’t believe that. They are fairly convinced – and the Iraq debacle assured them of this – that culture is important, and that even if some form of democracy emerges in Iraq, it is not going to look like ours, which is probably, judging the state of our democracy, a good thing.

    I continue to hope that individuals will, of their own accord, adopt reason, freedom, compassion and justice as their guiding principles, but I know the great cultural barriers that will block such a process. Abroad, and at home.

  141. Righteous,

    Fair point. Reeves is a terrible actor, after all, and although I imagine I would be no better, I have no difficulty saying so publicly. I think Totten used a very bad example to illustrate a very good point.

    I agree with dada’s views regarding Friedman’s analysis. But I do think that if you are going to slam someone else’s writting style, your own ought at the very least to be just as good, if not a tad better.

  142. I agree with dada’s views regarding Friedman’s analysis. But I do think that if you are going to slam someone else’s writting style, your own ought at the very least to be just as good, if not a tad better.

    No: there’s no preview here, there are no editors, everyone’s entitled to some screw-ups, and internet commenting is conversational. If I had my comments to do over I’d replace “het up on” with “het up to”, I wouldn’t have used “illustrate” twice so closely and so on. Prose that makes it into book form is – despite numerous counter-examples – supposed to be in the best shape it can possibly be after multiple readings and revisions. Comparing these comments to prose that has been through that process is unfair. Apart from that, millions of people who cannot play instruments can tell that The Shaggs could not play theirs.

    Nevertheless it’s still funny when someone spells something wrong or uses superfluous commas while complaining about writing style.

  143. Righteous,

    “If I had my comments to do over I’d replace “het up on” with “het up to”, I wouldn’t have used “illustrate” twice so closely and so on. ”

    And if, I had mine to do over, I’d use less superfluous commas, and also, probibly, check my spelling, too, plus keep an eye out for redunancies.

  144. Damned site didn’t like my slam on Keanu Reeves as a follow-up. Let’s talk about shunning: I say x person should be shunned for whatever reason. Is that gagging anyone and if so why?

  145. RB –

    Yes it is; because it doesn’t say person X is wrong about Y – leaving open, among other things the listener’s judgment about what the issue is, and whether X may or may not have anything to say about Z.

    And mostly because instead of embracing argument – which implies that strong arguments ought to have some change of prevailing, it attempts to shortcircuit argument by delegitimizing one position entirely. In doing so, even the better argument weakens itself – even if you’re right about Y, you may not be completely right about it, you may not be right for the right reasons, or – heaven forbid – things might change.

    Robust, open argument is the answer to that. Anything that undercuts access to argument or to letting people make their own decisions as actors and participants in an argument is a weak position, and weakens us all.

    A.L.

  146. Righteous,

    here’s my take:

    1. I am free to say something repugnant.
    2. you are free to say that my something is repugnant and urge others to not read my somethings.
    3. A.L. is free to criticize you for advocating a boycott of my somethings.
    4. You are free to tell A.L. that his criticism is out of line.
    5. I am free to mispell.

    None of this involves gagging or attempts to gag. It’s all legitimate use of free speech.

    –mark

  147. “Robust, open argument is the answer to that.”

    Gee, we could have used this statement of principle from pro-war liberals in 2002 and 2003 when opponents of the war on Iraq were denounced as traitors, morons, unserious, hippies, kneejerk pacifists, stalinists, terrorist apologists/enablers and any number of other names, designed to marginalize their arguments and narrow the scope of acceptable discourse.

    There was no robust debate before the Iraq war in the mainstream press, although there was plenty around the nation and in the streets.

    Where is there a robust, open argument about anything remotely having to do with foreign policy? Sure, there is argument; but it takes place within a carefully constrained and narrow continuum of acceptable opinion. Those within this continuum are Very Serious; those without are Dirty Fuckin Hippies. That is what Duncan Black and Glenn Greenwald and myriad others, bloggers and non-bloggers alike, are complaining about.

    The other question is, particularly with Thomas Friedman and other pro-war voices, conservative and liberal alike: how many times can you be wrong and still be taken seriously?

  148. I say x person should be shunned for whatever reason. Is that gagging anyone and if so why?

    Yes it is; because it doesn’t say person X is wrong about Y – leaving open, among other things the listener’s judgment about what the issue is, and whether X may or may not have anything to say about Z.

    I still don’t see who’s been gagged. X? X’s readers?

  149. Righteous,

    here’s my take:

    I agree with your take. Especially None of this involves gagging or attempts to gag.

    The gagging bit makes no sense to me in the broad terms of the question I posed, and with context added it makes even less sense.

  150. #171 _Let’s talk about shunning . . ._

    Well, since that’s what the original post was about, better late than never.

    I agree with A.L., so I won’t repeat, but I do think there is a larger context missing. What’s the purpose of political blogs? Are they supposed to be commenting and critiquing news and ideas? Or are they supposed to be defining acceptal media inputs?

    See Comment #60 on what shunning means.

    mark _None of this involves gagging or attempts to gag. It’s all legitimate use of free speech._

    That’s a little dodgy to me. “Free speech” suggests freedom from government restraint. In that sense, Atrios is not gagging free speech. He is advancing the notion that there is something wrong with people who read Friedman, whose thoughts and ideas should be beyond consideration and discourse. Intelectual cacooning.

    R.B. _Gee, we could have used this statement of principle from pro-war liberals in 2002 and 2003 when opponents of the war on Iraq were denounced as traitors, morons, unserious, hippies, kneejerk pacifists, stalinists, terrorist apologists/enablers and any number of other names, designed to marginalize their arguments and narrow the scope of acceptable discourse._

    Truth is always a defense to libel. Seriously though, this isn’t about namecalling. Namecalling is a form of engagement, though not a particularly persuasive form. What you’re looking for is a pro-war liberal that advocated not reading a particular anti-war liberal so their critiques would not be heard or rebutted.

    _The other question is, particularly with Thomas Friedman and other pro-war voices, conservative and liberal alike: how many times can you be wrong and still be taken seriously?_

    Is the answer the same if your name is Fisk or Friedman?

  151. I haven’t read much of Friedman’s post-Beirut work, especially now that he’s behind the NYTimes pay wall. I therefore will neither criticize nor defend it.

    I just think it’s amusing when I see poorly written juvenile invective against a man who won the National Book Award. Even if he’s wrong about almost everything his work is more worth reading than the output of trolls in the comments box.

  152. What’s the purpose of political blogs? Are they supposed to be commenting and critiquing news and ideas? Or are they supposed to be defining acceptal media inputs?

    By their nature they do both. Your second sentence I think everyone buys, but let’s look at the last one: let’s imagine that in the Iraq war I advocate arming Sunnis because they’re more likely to deal with the Jewish problem in a final sort of way. If you wouldn’t advocate shunning me, why not?

    R.B. Gee, we could have

    I didn’t write that part.

    I just think it’s amusing when I see poorly written juvenile invective against a man who won the National Book Award.

    When someone’s getting red-faced about the dangers of toxic waste and farts long and hard it’s funny, but the toxic waste remains.

  153. _let’s imagine that in the Iraq war I advocate arming Sunnis because they’re more likely to deal with the Jewish problem in a final sort of way. If you wouldn’t advocate shunning me, why not?_

    The thought is that we should take your argument seriously. We should debate it with data and show that it’s wrong. That way we have actually considered it and refuted it, instead of just dismissing it. So third parties who haven’t decided can look at our evidence and arguments and actually make a decision, where they would be less convinced if we simply refused to consider it.

    And when another troll (or the same one with a different name) comes in with the same argument, we should seriously consider it again.

    And then when the first troll comes back with the idea that OK, arming sunnis in iraq won’t actually do much to settle the israeli problem so maybe we’d do better to give nukes to the iranian government to settle that issue, then we can give that idea all serious consideration and argue exactly why it’s a bad idea.

    And after we’ve demolished that one, he can suggest we should nuke israel ourselves, and rather than ignoring him and certainly rather than suggesting that others ignore him, we can discuss the idea on its merits and show why it’s better to reject it.

    And so on and so on. Because we have nothing better to do than repeatedly debate bad ideas from the same sources and repeatedly reject them after we’ve pointed out the errors in detail.

    I think this would be a good approach if we had unlimited time and energy available instantly. But since I can type a limited number of characters before events overtake me, I want to choose my topics carefully. I’ll respond to silly things sometimes when I feel like they’re funny, or when I can make a good joke. I’ll present ideas that can’t be immediately implemented because I want to get them considered even though they’re impractical right now. But I don’t have time for everything.

  154. I also think it’s absurd to get so bent out of shape about a man who is basically a centrist. If you’re going to go off the rails about an opinion journalist, can’t you pick someone extreme like Noam Chomsky or Ann Coulter? Save your ammo.

    What’s the point of unleashing so much invective on a slightly left-of-center Democrat? What do you think of conservatives who shriek hysterically about Rudy Guiliani?

    Centrists are political Rorschach tests. I disagree with Thomas Friedman about lots of things — at least I did when I could still read him a few years ago — but I’ll be damned if I drop the H-bomb on him.

  155. But I don’t have time for everything.

    Me neither. So we do de facto shunning of people like David Duke. I pulled the “support Sunnis to kill Jews” example out of my ass, but then I decided to search this site for David Duke. He’s mentioned a lot but as a boogeyman of racism and isn’t really dealt with in an actual post. Despite the fact that the guy has a lot to say about foreign relations, is a published author, and “taught history at a university”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Duke#Interregional_Academy_of_Personnel_Management he is simply (and rightly of course) a punching bag, shunned for the purposes of a real argument and assumed to be shunned by anyone with a brain.

  156. I completely agree, for what it’s worth, that David Duke deserves to be shunned. He’s worth expending that kind of ammo on, which is what I was getting at earlier.

    That Ukrainian “university” that gave him a PhD in Anti-Semitic Studies (or whatever it was for) and let him teach there must really be something.

  157. But I don’t have time for everything.

    Me neither. So we do de facto shunning of people like David Duke. I pulled the “support Sunnis to kill Jews” example out of my ass, but then I decided to search this site for David Duke. He’s mentioned a lot but as a boogeyman of racism and isn’t really dealt with in an actual post. Despite the fact that the guy has a lot to say about foreign relations, is a published author, and “taught history at a university”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Duke#Interregional_Academy_of_Personnel_Management he is simply (and rightly of course) a punching bag, shunned for the purposes of a real argument and assumed to be shunned by anyone with a brain.

  158. Sorry for the double-post.

    I also think it’s absurd to get so bent out of shape about a man who is basically a centrist.

    The problem is not Friedman’s category (although obviously and reasonably centrists are not well thought of these days by people like Atrios) but his expertise and whether or not it pays off.

    In the case of Iraq it hasn’t, and the Charlie Rose “suck on this” clip is pulled out as an example of how crappy and awful his thinking was. The Friedman Unit is a perfect example of mockery: when you have column inches to fill, pick a dilemma and say the next six months are crucial and we must do X if Y; when six months pass ignore the self-described necessity of X or tack on another six months.

    With David Duke we’ve established that thinking individuals – eye roll – can be out of bounds already, so we know there’s “gagging” going on here if you buy the AL line. If you’re upset about Iraq and hundreds of thousands of lives lost and a country destroyed in a war of choice, it seems obvious to me that you can leave Friedman out beyond your personal pale as well, as the quality of his rationalizing (if we use the Charlie Rose example as a for-instance) was extremely poor.

    That Ukrainian “university” that gave him a PhD in Anti-Semitic Studies (or whatever it was for) and let him teach there must really be something.

    Educationally speaking it’s apparently well thought of apart from the anti-Semetic mania. Depressing. The “Wikipedia article”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interregional_Academy_of_Personnel_Management is worth a look.

  159. Most Americans thought the Iraq war was a good idea at the time, and you can’t very well shun the majority if we do end up losing.

    If we end up winning by some miracle, it would likewise make little sense to shun the majority who oppose it today.

    Friedman is pretty much against it now, isn’t he? I’m not actually sure because the New York Times all but shunned him for us by bricking him and his colleagues up behind a wall.

  160. Most Americans thought the Iraq war was a good idea at the time,

    For what reason? The reasons Tom Friedman articulated in the famous “suck on this” Charlie Rose spot? My recollection is that the reasons the administration were trying to cobble together and that people eventually bought were practical: Al Qaeda, WMD, Saddam worse than Hitler etc.

    and you can’t very well shun the majority if we do end up losing.

    We already do shun nearly everybody in favour of folks like Tom Friedman when it comes to policy discussion, most inadvertently, but some like David Duke with good reason. I don’t see why a guy who got it so wrong about something so crucial can’t be ignored in the same way that we ignore UFO nuts. It’s just not a big loss, neither is it without reason or justice. When I’m wrong about crucial things I get fired and good for my boss.

    Friedman is pretty much against it now, isn’t he?

    Deadline for withdrawal, blah blah blah. Tepid stuff.

  161. Most Americans also enjoy “American Idol.” So your point is….

    Americans supported the war in Iraq but not by an overwhelming majority. And many Americans supported the war on Iraq because they trusted the experts and they trusted the president. When Bush said that Saddam was about to nuke us, just like he did on 9/11, many Americans gave him the benefit of the doubt because he was the president.

    And as we now see, that trust was fundamentally misplaced. The president and his coterie of advisers lied to the American people, the media aided and abetted and the rest is, as they say, history.

    And when will someone actually defend Thomas Friedman?

    No takers….

    Btw, Fisk may be edging into eccentric territory these days, but “Pity the Nation” is a fine book.

  162. Hey, Jean Arp – help me out here.

    When Bush said that Saddam was about to nuke us…” – can you point me to that cite, because I keep hearing people mention it, but somehow never seem to be able to find it on my own.

    A.L.

  163. Here it is A.L.,

    The date is Oct. 7, 2002. The title is “President Bush outlines Iraqi Threat.”

    The link is: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021007-8.html

    Here some of the quotes dealing with Iraq and the nuclear threat it posed to us. It may come down to definition of “about to.” Bush says less than a year is a possiblity. Is that “about to.” Dunno. Your call.:

    The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his “nuclear mujahideen” — his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

    If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. And if we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed.
    …..

    Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

  164. mark, would you like me to edit comment #196 so it uses a proper method of linking rather than being a bare link?

    #192 from dadanarchist:

    “And when will someone actually defend Thomas Friedman?

    No takers….”

    Who knows, someone may later step in and defend him.

    #191 from Righteous Bubba:

    “We already do shun nearly everybody in favour of folks like Tom Friedman when it comes to policy discussion, most inadvertently, but some like David Duke with good reason. I don’t see why a guy who got it so wrong about something so crucial can’t be ignored in the same way that we ignore UFO nuts.”

    I agree with that.

    I think #135 from Andrew J. Lazarus makes a good point.

    And if you talk like you had special, inside, expert knowledge when you have none, and then later the bare truth is apparent, when people ask “why do you deserve a microphone, bluffer?” I don’t think it’s a good answer to say “my views were mainstream at the time”.

  165. Off-topic, but …

    Re-reading President Bush’s speech was a strange experience.

    What he was saying then was sensible. The essence of it, not in these exact words, was: here is a security threat that we are going to eliminate before it becomes more urgent. Does that work for you? It worked for me then, though my own support for the invasion was based on another argument. (I thought that to get rid of Saddam Hussein was the best preliminary to cracking down on Saudi Arabia or Iran.) And it would work for me now.

    But that turned out not to be the real agenda. If it had been, we could have been in and out in six months to a year, tops.

    The real agenda turns out to be nation building, building states that constitutionally enshrine Islam as a source of law (Afghanistan and Iraq so far), thus proving that all men everywhere equally burn with God’s passion for freedom, and by ending all tyranny everywhere in the world forever we can realize mankind’s universal destiny, which is freedom. Yes friends it’s true, Muslims and Methodists are the same, and we’re going to fight on till reality on the ground conforms to this assertion.

    There appears to be no way to give our leaders leave to do the simple, practical things that they say they want to do and that I think need doing, like whacking particular potential Islamic threats before they become belligerents, without licensing them to instead do what they really want to do, which is commit us in perpetuity to world-transformation projects that will only work if politically correct unreal assumptions are true, and that are positively designed to strengthen our enemies on the mad assumption that this will make our enemies into our friends.

    It’s a big problem.

    We can refuse our leaders permission to deal with the urgent threats they point to, in which case Islam wins. Or we can grant permission – at which point we find that we are committed to endless wars to strengthen Islam. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. :(

  166. Re: #198 from dadanarchist,

    Would you like those links turned into proper links that conform to the way the site works, or would you rather leave them there as page width busting bare links?

  167. Folks, sorry to have been scarce – my wife in in NYC with me and she has other ideas about how we should spend our time…I’ll have some laptop time on the train this afternoon…

    A.L.

  168. “Dick Cheney via TPM”:http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/051588.php

    “The case of Saddam Hussein, a sworn enemy of our country, requires a candid appraisal of the facts…. [W]e now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons…. Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon….

    “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us….”

    People who want to argue that “so and so never said that” simply look foolish. The administration tried to make the case that Saddam would nuke the US, and that was a justification for war. Bush and Cheney both talked about nuclear weapons and how Iraq was acquiring them.

  169. What intentionally false claims?

    People talk all sorts of shit but then won’t, or can’t, actually refute anything said.

    For example, nobody has yet stepped up to explain what’s so damn great about Thomas Friedman.

  170. #184
    _But I don’t have time for everything.

    Me neither. So we do de facto shunning of people like David Duke._

    Good news folks. There’s a new invention that helps with this problem. It allows one to answer repetitive arguments without spending time on the problem.

    It’s called…. … WRITING.

    Yes folks, this revolutionary method of recording ideas and opinions in physical form allows one to repeat previous debates without EVEN BEING PHYSICALLY PRESENT.

    If you’re interested in pursuing this incredibly methodology, please visit the nearest educational institution ASAP.

    Seriously, there’s a big difference between shunning and simply having already been asked and answered. I’d happily debate David Duke if he ever came up with something new. Since he’s been on the same merry-go-round since forever, there’s no need, every one of his arguments have been answered in definitive fashion better than I ever could. Nothing to improve on there.

  171. Feel free to imagine that everything in David Duke’s recent speech in Moscow has been dealt with.

    Let’s see…European birthrates are imploding (fact), followed by a long rant blaming that on everything from gays to the ever popular Jews-did-it.

    Like I said he’s been blaming everything on the same laundry list of villains for how long now? All asked and answered.

    The only new twist in there is the European birth rate implosion and immigrant population explosion. Both of which are verifiable facts, the consequences of which are very much being debated widely. And not just by ‘warmongers’.

    What, if David Duke ran into you on the street and told you that water is wet, are you going to deny it?

    This is precisely the danger AL is warning against. The point when you stop paying any attention to rationality and logic and turn everything into a character based game, where who you are, in terms of your past ideological purity, is more important than the soundness of your argument.

    It’s being debated by warmongers after all. We don’t even need to know what it is or why they’re debating it. That’s all we need to know right there. Warmongers.

    Thus enters ideological stasis, as no one may disagree with the party line or risk banishment. Make no mistake, you may think it only deals with the outmost edges, the most ‘extreme’ ideologues, but the incentives on those doing the banishing is always to seize more power by using that power, and steadily drawing the line narrower and narrower. And if you don’t like it, well, you’re not a WARMONGER are you?

  172. “Dadanarchist, your statement “”When Bush said that Saddam was about to nuke us, just like he did on 9/11, …” remains false.”

    Oh come on. Are you really that thick or are you just pretending?

    You know – or should know – damn well that I did not mean that he _literally_ said that Saddam would nuke us, or that Saddam mastered 9/11. Not even Bush and his cabal of immoral Machiavellians are that arrogant.

    But they strongly implied over and over again, throughout late 2002 and early 2003, that Saddam was close to or had obtained a nuclear weapon (something about a smoking gun and a mushroom cloud) and that Iraq had active ties to not only Al-Qaeda but to the very cell that carried out the 9/11 attacks.

    When media figures – who are just as, if not more guilty than the Bushniks – asked them point blank about these charges (cf. the Chris Matthews “interview” with the Dickster), or fleshed out these charges, they never denied that that was what they had said, and they even embroidered the charges further to make it seem as if Iraq posed an existential threat to the United Stats. Remember the unmanned aerial drones that were going to cross the Atlantic and spray us all with anthrax?

    They even continued to make these assertions well after they were proved to be bald-faced lies.

    Reread the transcripts. Thankfully they have not disappeared down the memory hole.

    You may have forgotten what it was like in this country before the Iraq war, but I haven’t and won’t. Being called a traitor and a coward for pointing out the obvious was a valuable lesson to me, especially in illuminating how fragile democracy is when people are afraid and the government is in the hands of unscrupulous, powermad men.

  173. dadanarchist,

    when you write that “they strongly implied over and over again, throughout late 2002 and early 2003, that Saddam was close to or had obtained a nuclear weapon…” I do not believe you go far enough. I think they did more than imply. Bush’s words plainly and explicitly state the belief that this was a strong likelihood, so strong a likelihood, in fact, that it was essential to prevent it by taking the extreme measure of a full-force invasion of a foreign country. Clearly, Bush & Co. believed and/or wanted us to believe that the threat of nuclear attack from Iraq was imminent enough to warrant last-resort measures. Their actions coupled with their words leave no doubt about this. No other interpetation is possible.

  174. Treefrog, it’s simply true that some things are outside the discussion. There are repetitive arguments that aren’t worth repeating. And there are new ideas that people simply don’t want to consider.

    I run into that a lot. Like, when people discuss israel/palestine, every single time it turns into arguments about who’s at fault and who’s wrong, with the implication that the side that’s at fault are immoral no-goodniks who don’t deserve whatever it is they want, who should die if they don’t accept the other side’s terms. They don’t consider that there are simply more people in israel/palestine than the carrying capacity of the land can support, and a lot of those people need to go away. If we think about a solution we should be thinking about moving all the palestinians or all the israelis (or most of both) to the USA. Usually this suggestion gets no response whatsoever, although it usually isn’t censored.

    About terrorism, I say that our highest priority has to be to toughen our homeland defenses. Where possible, move dangerous chemical plants away from populations. Regulate movement of hazardous gases etc more carefully and beef up our hazmat accident response teams. Port security. Etc. Going after arab terrorists in other countries is worth doing, but it’s a side issue. When you’re walking around with a target painted on your naked b*tt it isn’t enough to watch out for one particular enemy who might strike that target. Any enemy who wants to can hit us until we get some defenses. Usually this gets no response whatsoever, but occasionally somebody says that defending our home industries would be too expensive, or they say the arabs are all trying to kill us or make us convert to islam and we have to beat them. My suggestions mostly don’t get censored but mostly nobody responds.

    About the middle east generally, I say that God isn’t making any more oil for us, at least not fast enough to matter. We desperately need cheap alternate energy. When we get that our arab problems will fade away and we’ll ignore the middle east the way we do africa. Without that we can’t win. No matter what happens to middle east politics and diplomacy and warfare, every day we pump out the oil there’s that much less left. Usually this gets ignored. Every now and then somebody says we don’t know how to get cheap alternate energy so we might as well not try. (As if we know how to turn the middle east into something adequate to our needs.)

    It could be argued that when you present ideas that people don’t want to consider, you’re spamming them. It does no good to say things they aren’t ready to hear, whether your comments get deleted or not. But I keep thinking it *might* do some good. Maybe this time I’ll get a response.

    But people aren’t required to respond, ever. Even if there was a way to force a response there’s no way to command a reasoned response. “You can lead a force to slaughter but you cannot make them think.” And if somebody is spamming a communication channel with stuff that nobody wants to respond to anyway, what’s the harm in stopping them?

  175. Dadanarchist, actually I think that you are that thick to believe that you can get away with claiming that the Bush administration said something and then defend it when your false claim is called out by saying that I’m thick for believing you meant what you wrote.

    No, I don’t believe that you really believe in the veracity of what you write.

    The administration did not imply that Iraq had ties to the cell that carried out 9/11 either, another false claim by you. The White House in fact disowned the Czech reports of seeing Atta and an Iraqi intel agent meeting.

    Your claim remains false.

  176. Mark –

    I agree with most of what you have said – for the sake of argument, and because RR, who keeps criticizing me, has been insisting on adhering to the actual language with a New Criticism-like degree of intensity – I thought I would be conservative in my analysis of the drumbeat for war and stick to just their words. Those are damning enough, and the intent of those words doubly so.

    Going back over the statements issuing from the WH in the months leading up to the war, I have to say the Iraqi drone story was my favorite bit of propaganda.

    A refresher:
    “Text to display:http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,79450,00.html

  177. Robin –

    I’m done arguing with you. Read the Matthews-Cheney interview, the link for which I provided. What impression do you take away from it, re: Atta and the Iraqis?

  178. You were arguing? I thought you were just writing increasingly outrageous claims?

    In any event, the White House disowned the Czech report. The official investigation of the 9/11 incident by the administration, as reflected in the 9/11 commission report concludes that the person observed wasn’t Atta based on ATM withdrawals in the US ascribed to Atta.

    Your claim remains false, the President did not state what you claim he did.

  179. Oh yes….

    and when was the 9/11 report, initially opposed by the White House, finally finished and released to the public?

    Hint: well after we had already invaded Iraq, but before the insurgency entered its ‘last throes.’

  180. J Thomas

    I agree, and there is nothing wrong with limiting a discussion to be on topic. Or simple ending a conversation gone past the productive point.

    I don’t even see anything wrong with limiting people’s ability to participate in certain discussions, the forum owner banning trolls (or even people he just doesn’t want to talk to). Your discussion, your rules.

    The foul line is when you stop even considering arguments solely on the basis of the person making the argument.

    Whether an argument is on topic, repetitive, uninteresting, etc are all value judgements on the argument, and part of the fair flow of discussion in a rational conversation.

    Who is making the argument is a loaded value judgement that shouldn’t automatically exclude the argument from consideration, IN AND OF ITSELF. It can be a factor in determining the validity of the judgement certainly, but shouldn’t be the only factor.

    I take Uri Geller’s pronouncements on psychic force with a boat load of salt, because of who he is, but that doesn’t invalidate his opinions on, say, the best way to prepare rotisserie chicken (assuming he has opinions on the subject). And if he had a really good argument on the subject of psychic forces, I’d certainly give it consideration.

    The really foul line is when you start tarring people for associating with the personas non grata. We saw a, luckily, brief example of that in the blog link wars that erupted a while back. Where people starting unlinking people who’s only crime was to link to someone they considered unclean.

    When you get down to it, popular blogs, like popular people, have three powers. One, people pay attention to them. Two, they can redirect popularity on to the lesser, making them more popular. Three, they can shun the lesser and take popularity away.

    That third power is very destructive and people doing it should be called on it.

  181. Treefrog, I do ignore some people’s posts just for who they are. After sufficient experience with them, seeing nothing but distasteful ideology, I just don’t want to bother. I might miss some great insight that way, and I can hope that somebody will repeat it. I don’t want to discredit the ideas because of the source. I discount the source because of the ideas. I might sometimes recommend that others ignore them too, but I don’t think my credibility is enough to make that an important threat.

    But then, there are experts I discount too. I tend to distrust car salesmen even though they’re experts. Likewise mattress salesmen. And high-ranking military officers. In general the higher the rank the less I trust them to tell the truth to a civilian about their work or about what they know about iraq or afghanistan. Unfortunate since those are the ones who see the bigger picture. But it’s part of their job to keep their commands looking good, and they might tell the truth about things that do look good and hide the rest or they might make it up. PAOs appear to be utterly untrustworthy though there might be an exception. Similarly, political campaign guys are at best a mixed bag. And Bush administration appointees.

    It isn’t that you can depend on them to lie. It’s that my experience has been so far there’s no point believing anything any of them say until it’s verified by a reliable source.

  182. Dadanarchist:

    Yes, yes, Matt Taibbi, who misrepresents himself as a faithful Christian in order to, Thuggee-like, gain the confidence of fellow travelers whom he intends to throttle (on the justification that they must’ve voted for George W.), and then snickers about it conspiratorily like a kindergartner, is the very archetype of a “good person,” at least according to moonbat standards.

    Youbetcha…

  183. Demosophist: Please be advised / reminded that AL has semi-“officially” deprecated both “moonbat” and “wingnut” here. Continued use might lead to redaction or outright deletion. Thanks.

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