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August 31, 2007

Comments

Thank you for this Hil.

Here's the a sorry state we've come to.

I got a good 2 or 3 paragraphs into the piece before I realized it wasn't about opposition to totalitarianism *here*. Not abroad, but here.

6 years ago, the idea of domestic totalitarianism wouldn't really have crossed my mind, at least in a serious way. Now, it's my default assumption.

Overton window blowback.

Thanks -

"Moreover, as the article notes, and as I argued earlier, Barack Obama is not a foreign-policy realist at all."

I don't think you have the link you want currently.

Reading the posts in Andrew's absence, I keep thinking that one of the fill-ins is "A one-armed man in a battle of wits".

I'd give the prize to:

"I fear that this sort of sentiment--that the war against Islamic militancy is not really a war at all, and not nearly as potentially lethal as we've been made to believe--is gaining currency in America"

Well, yes--evidence that it is a lethal war please? (I am old enough to remember duck-and-cover drills in the 50's, which perhaps makes me jaded).

rilkefan: thanks; fixed.

"Barack Obama is not a foreign-policy realist at all."

If I understand the link, it seems to me that he says we should do X because it is right from a moral perspective and a realist perspective (which sounds good to me at least - here I can't distinguish between "first and foremost" and "essential"). To say he's not a foreign-policy realist, don't you need to show a case where he thinks the axes aren't aligned and he picks the anti-realist direction? How does Obama compare for example to say a Bill Clinton wiser due to his failure in Rwanda?

(I don't know what "at all" means here in a mathematical way of considering things - most everybody except pacifists/isolationists are somewhat realists, aren't they?)

Really, hilzoy, I respect you enormously but why do you even engage with a punk like Kirchick? He's a racist neo-con wannabe, and the more you and others actually engage him the more egregious he becomes. Please....

Whenever I see someone responding to a Jamie post like the one you just critiqued, I get tempted to comment:

YHBT. YHL. HAND.

... but then, I remember he works at The New Republic.

Why must take him seriously? And, as Brad DeLong would ask, why, oh why can't we have a better press corps?

Really, hilzoy, I respect you enormously but why do you even engage with a punk like Kirchick?

If people in influential places (journalistic places) are both wrong and factually inaccurate, they should pay a penalty.

I think this may well be the best post you've done over there. It cuts the heart out from the central premise -- i.e., totalitarianism is not the threat. Thats checkmate

Also, you cant just say stuff thats factually wrong, particularly when the charges are serious. again, it's important to call bs on this.

i couldnt have done a post like this without adding obnoxious snark, but thats why the post worked so well. respectful, but devastating

  1. Sorry about the typo in my comment;
  2. Damn if you and Steve didn't blast Jamie into the Gamma Quadrant. You may have been trolled, but you definitely haven't lost.

If Sullivan's site weren't one of the most trafficked political blogs in the blogoverse, and Kirchik the Dipstick didn't work for TNR, maybe we could just ignore it. Instead, great smack down, hilzoy.

Thank you, hilzoy! I've been appalled (and embarassed) at how he has abused the platform Sullivan so generously gave him. Maybe this will help him realize he's got a ways to go before he can join the Masters of the Universe to which he so obviously aspires. And what publius said.

This has been a fascinating week reading Kirchick, and then frequently seeing you,Steve or Greg totally demolish anything he says.

Jamie represents that aspect of the right that doesn't believe in substantive arguement. He prefers to make claims without supporting evidence or claims based upon what I almost have to assume is a deliberate misreading or misrepresentation of reality.

And of course, if all else fails, just point out that really the primary motivation of the left is hatred of Bush. Disregard if it is really ahtred, and definitely avoid any discussion of where the negative feelings find their roots.

And the one time he actually responded to criticism he deflected it all by avoiding responsibility.

There are many competent and reasonable people on the right (and I consider OCSteve to be a prime example) but they seldom are allowed in the media to actually represent the right.

THANK YOU, Hilzoy!

I've been steaming at several of Jamie's posts and dying for the ability to comment to him (probably in an even more snarky/sarcastic tone than Publius would even reach - and that says something! ;-)).

Jamie's posts have been a series of straw-men arguments that bear no relation to reality. It is like reading the Corner - but with even less connection to the actual world.

I'm surprised Andrew gave him a forum. The quality of his guest-posters is usually better.

Jamie represents that aspect of the right that doesn't believe in substantive arguement. He prefers to make claims without supporting evidence or claims based upon what I almost have to assume is a deliberate misreading or misrepresentation of reality.

This technique got honed by the religious right in their attempts to excise evolution from high school texts (an attempt that's far more successful than most non-theocrats realize). It's no wonder that it's a rhetorical technique used frequently by right-leaning thinkers.

"It is like reading the Corner - but with even less connection to the actual world."

It's like reading The Spine at TNR.

I wonder if, when Jamie reads Hil's post, the pain he feels will also be felt by Marty? Kind of like how in Pullman's novels, hurting a person's daemon hurts the person too.

Despite George W. Bush's attempts to paint al Qaeda as a totalitarian group bent on imposing a Caliphate on the world, al Qaeda is not a totalitarian organization

Huh? That is in their own words, not made up… That is their goal. Honor the threat…

What is the evidence for this claim?

Almost every public statement by a Democrat? … ???

The rest is between you and Jamie I think.

We live in a time in which it is virtually impossible for ordinary citizens to get all the information they need to make informed political decisions.

Totally disagree. We live in the information age.

Normal disclaimers: I did not support the surge, I don’t know what the heck I am talking about now – if you listen to me you do so at your own risk… No money back, YMMV…

And I love Hilzoy of course. ;)…

OCSteve:

Almost every public statement by a Democrat? … ???

huh? Just to make sure we're on the same page, are you saying that "almost every public statement by a Democrat" demonstrates "mere hatred for the president and a serious lack of faith in even the potential role America can play in the world"?

Again, to make sure we're on the same page: there's an article by Casey Blake on Obama and Niebuhr in, of all things, TNR. Obama is quoted as saying:

there's serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn't use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away ... the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard, and not swinging from naïve idealism to bitter realism.

How does this show "lack of faith in even the potential role America can play in the world"?

What, precisely, are you talking about?

OCSteve: they want to impose a Caliphate, or so they say, but (a) not on us, and (b) that's really not why they're a threat to us. I mean, I'll begin to worry about their Caliphate plans when I see them so much as seriously threaten to take over a single country. Which I expect will be round about the time you'll need to start really worrying about my plans for Total World Domination.

About "what is the evidence for this claim?" -- Jamie is talking about the entire Democratic Party, and he's saying we're motivated solely by "a mere hatred for the president and a serious lack of faith in even the potential role America can play in the world." An earlier version of this post linked to the foreign policy pages of all the Democratic candidates except Kucinich; none of them question the potential role of the US in the world. I mean, none. If this is a takeover, it's pretty stealthy.

Just to pick Obama, whose views I know best: here's his basic foreign policy page. Here are the first two paragraphs of its first item:

"Obama rejects the notion that the American moment has passed and believes that America must neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission. Obama believes that America must lead the world, by deed and example, and that America cannot meet the threats of the century alone and that the world cannot meet them without America.

Under his leadership America will lead in five specific ways: First, we will bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq and refocus on the critical challenges in the broader region. Second, we will rebuild and transform the military to meet 21st-century threats. Third, we will marshal a global effort to secure, destroy, and stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Fourth, we will renew the alliances and partnerships necessary to meet common challenges, such as terrorism and climate change. And fifth, we will strengthen impoverished, weak and ungoverned countries that have become the most fertile breeding grounds for transnational threats like terror and pandemic disease and the smuggling of deadly weapons."

Does that sound to you like nothing but hatred of Bush and doubts about the very idea of America playing a role abroad? It doesn't to me.

"brought to mind Tonto's great (and probably apocryphal) line: "What do you mean, 'we', white man?""

Definitely apocryphal. I recall seeing it in Mad Magazine in my youth.

Good post, though.

russell:

I, too, was very confused at first, because when I hear "anti-totalitarian left" I think of, ya know, Orcinus and such. So my gut reaction is to disagree with hilzoy when she says:

"anti-totalitarianism" has receded in the Democratic Party

because I have never been more concerned about totalitarianism as a *domestic* threat.

Do we even have any values that are worth promoting abroad, and which haven't already been adopted by nearly every country in the richest tier, rendering us redundant as an example?

Most of the moral values (as opposed to cultural products or art forms) that I can think of as uniquely American--our specific form of racism, our religious fundamentalisms, our sexual hangups and glorification of violent masculinity and contempt for the poor--are bad values; if other countries haven't adopted them, it's because they rightly found them worthless. This isn't necessarily because the US is in essence an unusually evil country (other countries have their own national moral defects); it's more that what was worthwhile in our values was either already successfully exported long ago, or never originated with us in the first place. Our good values--our respect for freedom and individual expression, our embrace of democracy--are values of cosmopolitan modernity, often better expressed in other countries than in the modern US.

We do seem to have a tolerance for immigrant cultures exceeding that of most First World countries (albeit one that fluctuates with nativist panics); but I think even that distinction is fading, especially compared to Britain. At the moment I would favor promoting our best supposed values domestically over any conscious attempt to promote American values abroad.

Sez Jamie:

Whereas once the AFL-CIO had a large and effective international office, you'd be hard-pressed to hear, for instance, what they're doing for Iraqi trade-unionists.

Apparently Jamie hasn't figured out that newfangled 'Google' thingy. 'Tis a pity, since it would probably have helped him discover this ongoing solidarity campaign, or maybe even brought him to the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center (which ineffectively "assists workers around the world who are struggling to build democratic and independent trade unions.").

BTW, those woefully forsaken Iraqi trade unionists Jamie uses as a rhetorical cudgel to bash the AFL-CIO (and liberals/the Left in general) with? They aren't too keen on one of Bush's key benchmarks. Gee, imagine that - trade unionists fighting to prevent foreign-imposed privatization of a vital national industry. Oh, and they also aren't exactly thrilled with the ongoing US-led occupation, either.

Neocon concern trolling about 'solidarity' with Iraqi unions is akin to conservatives suddenly discovering women's subjugation in the Middle East ('Oh where oh were has teh feckless, vagina-monologuing Western feminazis been all these years?!')

Katha Pollitt pwns that bogus truism here.

(PS - happy Labour Day Weekend, y'all).

It's a fairly simple matter, really - indifference to the facts. Discovering real, reliable facts is hard. It requires the ability to question one's assumptions, a willingness to invest serious effort in trying to disprove one's own most deeply held beliefs. Discovering real truth is an arduous process, and frankly a huge pain in the ass. It is much easier to start with comfortable assumptions that reinforce one's worldview (and often one's self-esteem) and extrapolate from there, subject only to the constraint of not directly contradicting obvious truths (though this constraint may be relaxed in some situations).

Lest this be taken as an attack on conservatives - liberals do this too. It's just that conservatives have industrialized the distribution system for convenient self-deception, whereas liberals do it on a more of a farmer's market model.

Nice post -- kind of dreadful to think it will not have any impact with the person at whom it is directed...

I believe in the original TV series, Tonto's line was, "What do you mean, 'we', kemo sabe?"

Unfortunately, I suspect Kirchik will probably not even realise how badly his arguments have gone. I'm torn - I can't decide if he's arguing in good faith (which makes him a deluded idiot) or deliberately just being offensive (which makes him a troll). In any case, I'm sure Peretz is sitting at home cackling with glee that his idiotic arguments have reached a much wider audience.

"I believe in the original TV series, Tonto's line was,'[What do you mean, 'we', kemo sabe?'"

It's an old joke; it was never said in the original radio show, or the later tv show, or in any of the movie serials, or in any official canon. It was in Mad, but probably didn't originate there.

Yeah I know, just jokin' around.

THANK YOU!!!!

Hilzoy, Jamie is so bad that earlier this week I was thinking "that's it, I'm done with Sullivan, I'm not coming back."

I can imagine that perhaps you're uncomfortable having to do this kind of Yeomans work on someone elses blog. But letting Jamie run amok is Sully's responsibility. You and Steve are defending the Daily Dish credibility for a lot of us.

srv: you're welcome. Think of it this way: how else would I have gotten to use the phrase "the Bonapartist menace" in a blog post?

A few weeks ago, Timothy Burke wrote this:

[...] Another group who I think is fairly amorphous, distributed across a variety of ideological and intellectual commitments and backgrounds, are Huntington-style clash-of-civilization folks, genuine New Crusaders who aren’t out to prove that liberalism can flourish globally, but are largely instead spoiling for a sustained war with racial or cultural Others out of a neo-Spenglerian fear that the West is weak, hedonistic, self-indulgent, and has to be called to the frontiers to fend off the barbarians.
Just noting.

"Yeah I know, just jokin' around."

Ah. Sorry for being dense. (I'd have quibbled with Hilzoy's use of "apocryphal," since that would necessitate someone claiming that it was, indeed, part of the canon somewhere, but it didn't seem worth quibbling with, even to me, but it remained on my mind.)

Besides, I'd have gone with "original radio show," not tv. ;-)

I know that apocryphal Tonto line in a less polite way:"..., paleface!".
I think it's another case of the best known line of a character being actually apocryphal/made-up. Like Al Gore's "I have invented the Internet".

Shorter hilzoy: my guest co-blogger is an irresponsible, fact-free maroon, but I'm too nice to say so directly.

Really, how some of these people write what they write is just astonishing. It's like some sort of weird Bizarro World expansionism, sucking in more and more people into its orbit.

Kirchick is a disgrace. Sully must've owed Peretz big-time to have loaned Mini-Marty the keys to the Cadillac.

Doctor Science: huh? Just to make sure we're on the same page, are you saying that "almost every public statement by a Democrat" demonstrates "mere hatred for the president and a serious lack of faith in even the potential role America can play in the world"?

An exaggeration surely. But I don’t see Democrats telling us what their vision is without framing it as “not Bush”. I hear long lists of how Bush has been a disaster, I don’t hear stirring speeches of how we can be a positive force in the world. Admittedly in this very early election season it’s all starting to run together and I’m starting to just tune them out, so it’s entirely possible I’ve missed it. Can someone link a foreign policy speech by a Democrat that a) lays out how America can play a role for good in the world, and b) does not mention how Bush has screwed it up in any way? (I think the David Brooks anecdote you linked almost qualifies, but it wasn’t really a public foreign policy speech.)

Hilzoy: they want to impose a Caliphate, or so they say, but (a) not on us, and (b) that's really not why they're a threat to us.

In terms of a realistic threat I agree with you. I just objected to framing it as “Bush’s attempts to paint” as if it is something he made up out of thin air. Their stated goal is to create a caliphate centered on Saudi Arabia and unite all Muslims under a global Muslim leader.

he's saying we're motivated solely by "a mere hatred for the president and a serious lack of faith in even the potential role America can play in the world."

I agree that words like soley and mere make the statement too broad. But again, I just see them defining themselves as “not Bush”. The page you linked avoids that, but the speech linked from there does not:

We all know that these are not the best of times for America’s reputation in the world. We know what the war in Iraq has cost us in lives and treasure, in influence and respect. We have seen the consequences of a foreign policy based on a flawed ideology, and a belief that tough talk can replace real strength and vision.

We now know how badly this Administration squandered that opportunity.

There is no doubt that the mistakes of the past six years have made our current task more difficult.

That we are not a country which preaches compassion and justice to others while we allow bodies to float down the streets of a major American city.

Now I’m not saying these statements are incorrect (although many are themselves an exaggeration). I’d just like to see a candidate define themselves without it being based on “not Bush”.

OCSteve, it would be a pretty odd speech that talked about fixing the country (or anything else) without mentioning how it was broken. If you believe any mention of anything that's wrong means a candidate can be written off as being all about hating Bush, then I don't think you're going to find any candidate acceptable. This election is about who can best repair the damage done to our country and its values since 2000, so however much we might want to pretend Bush doesn't exist, he's going to be mentioned.

OCSteve, there is a big difference between pointing out the mistakes of the current administration and displaying "hatred of Bush."

Also, the very theme of what is being said is displaying a faith in what role this country caan play.

In regards to the former, this is specilly important since none of the Republican candidates (other than Paul) have shown the slightest inclination to change direction.

In terms of the latter, it is important for the Dems to show how Bush and the Republican leadership have come close to destroying the ability of the US to have a positive role to play.

Finally, which of the statements you quoted is an exagerration?

KCinDC: If you believe any mention of anything that's wrong means a candidate can be written off as being all about hating Bush, then I don't think you're going to find any candidate acceptable.

Hmm, I don’t think it’s going to be a determining factor in who I find acceptable. It’s probably a political necessity for a Democratic candidate to hate Bush. Let’s try it this way – would a Democratic candidate be successful if they did not come across as hating Bush? I mean, they almost have to out-hate the other candidates, at least until they land the nomination. So it’s an exaggeration to say Democrats are soley about hating Bush, but I certainly think it’s a component, possibly a necessary one given how the Democratic base feels about him.

And that shouldn’t be construed to mean I love the guy. I’m just tired of the rhetoric already. Ooof! Another year plus to go…

John: Finally, which of the statements you quoted is an exagerration?
“we allow bodies to float down the streets of a major American city”

We allow that? I look forward to the Senator’s plan to prevent natural disasters… ;)

Oh, making natural disasters unlawful has been attempted several times in history. The problem is that nature simply refused to obey and the executive lacked the grit to put her behind bars (and flogging and putting in chains didn't work as Xerxes proved) ;-)

"the willingness of people on the liberal-left to support or, more often, excuse or explain away totalitarian movements of the ultra right."

Kirchick is a hack and a moron. His quoting the above without comment is proof enough of both, seeing as it is both a perfect description of his own behavior, and that he is utterly oblivious to that irony.

Can someone link a foreign policy speech by a Democrat that a) lays out how America can play a role for good in the world, and b) does not mention how Bush has screwed it up in any way?

And...the goal posts are moved to the 45-yard line! In order to prove that their foreign policy isn't motivated solely by Bush-hatred, Democrats can't mention any aspect of Bush's catastrophic foreign policy at all?

So it’s an exaggeration to say Democrats are soley about hating Bush, but I certainly think it’s a component, possibly a necessary one given how the Democratic base feels about him.

It's not just the Democratic base, though--a solid majority of the country dislikes Bush, for one reason or another. So from a purely political standpoint, positioning oneself as "not like Bush" is a clear winner. Even the Republican candidates are doing it in their own way.

The fact is that things in this country are so broken that it makes perfect sense to contrast yourself with the current status quo. Even absent any specific details, any one of the Democratic contenders--even the silliest or most corporate of them--would be an improvement.

Fortunately, we /do/ have specific details. Multiple candidates have gone into detail about their healthcare proposals. Each of them has a slightly different but easily identifiable approach to foreign policy. And as for restoring the things that make this country great, that's a subject that's difficult to talk about without sounding like high-minded rhetoric, but Obama manages to do it pretty well. If you stop and listen to him, he covers all the bases in that regard, and often in quite a lot of detail as to what he thinks is wrong and what he would do differently. On Iraq they're harder to pin down, but that's understandable--things on the ground can change very quickly, and at this point it'd be foolhardy to commit to any plan too detailed that will likely be obsolete within weeks.

The Democratic candidates aren't "all about" hating Bush, Steve. It's not even close, the details you want are out there if you look for them. Unfortunately you've fallen for one of the right-wing's favorite frames, which is to dismiss Democratic criticisms as mere "Bush-hatred", or BDS. That way they don't have to engage the substance of the arguments, and even if a candidate has nuanced or detailed plans on the matter, it allows them to reduce their positions to Bush-hatred.

What they don't seem to get--and this is a trap you've fallen into as well, I think--is that outrage and anger are /appropriate/ responses to the kind of damage Bush is doing to this country. If we're angry, or the candidates are angry, then that means we're paying attention and care about what's happening. For people looking for change, it's painfully relevant to know that a candidate stands in opposition to the way things are.

I, personally, am not at a point where I am remotely interested in a speech from anyone, Democrat or Republican or other, at any level, on how America can be "a force for good in the world." I'm interested on how we can be a force for good in America. We can leave the rest of the world alone for a while, AFAIK.

Catsy: Unfortunately you've fallen for one of the right-wing's favorite frames, which is to dismiss Democratic criticisms as mere "Bush-hatred", or BDS.

Desensitized maybe? After six years of it (even predating Iraq, Gitmo, etc.) there’s almost an automatic filter that kicks in. ;) When everything from Katrina to the Minneapolis bridge collapse is Bush’s fault it can cause people to tune out the serious criticism along with the silly stuff.

But as for dismissing Democratic criticisms, that’s hardly the case. I’ve come to agree with many if not most of them. I’d just like to be able to vote for something rather than strictly against something.

OCSteve, yes bodies were allowed to continue to float for several days after the hurricane came through.

And Bush "hatred" is about 5,000 degrees below the Clinton hating that occured in the 90's.

"I think it's another case of the best known line of a character being actually apocryphal"

It's not apocryphal! Hilzoy misused the term! No one credibly has ever seriously attributed it to an actual iteration of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, or claimed it was actually said by the character! It's a famous joke told by kids and adults since the radio show!

It's no more "apocryphal" than "Jingle Bells, Batman smells" is an "apocryphal Batman theme song."

Jokes and parodies aren't "apocryphal" unless there's an actual trend in a culture to confuse them with the real thing. That never happened with the Lone Ranger and Tonto with this very famous joke (although apparently it may be happening here and now, after Hilzoy's mistaken word choice).

"Sully must've owed Peretz big-time to have loaned Mini-Marty the keys to the Cadillac."

I expect it's a case of having a rather small pool of blogging-experienced conservativish gay men, when you're probably looking to find at least one of those to be part of your replacement crew.

OCSteve: "Their stated goal is to create a caliphate centered on Saudi Arabia and unite all Muslims under a global Muslim leader."

And Aum Shinrikyo sought Ultimate Realization, along with using ninjas and going on space missions, and gathering weapons. So what? Is there the faintest chance of al Qaeda or like-minded folk taking over European or other countries? Even, say, Monaco? Don't make me laugh.

Al Qaeda is about as likely to take over a major country as is Doctor Doom. Why does so much of the right run around in hysterics as if al Qaeda was a credible threat at doing more than killing a bunch of people here and there, now and again?

That's what's so ridiculous: people pissing themselves and agreeing with all of al Qaeda's propaganda as to how teddibly teddibly threatening they are.

The only explanations for this are a) people are easily fooled; and b) other explanations in the psychological realm, and how such irrationality has been so successfully exploited by the Be Afraid: Be Very Very Afraid non-stop propaganda campaign put on by the Republican crowd since 9/11/01 (who did squat all about the actual terrorist threat prior to that date).

Al Qaeda is a threat to the point of threatening to kill a bunch of people here and there; they need to be stomped on to that degree. They're in absolutely no danger whatever of taking over any Western countries, and never will be. Anyone who believes they are has been seriously taken in by progaganda, fear, and lies.

Why does so much of the right run around in hysterics as if al Qaeda was a credible threat at doing more than killing a bunch of people here and there, now and again?

i hope you get a good answer to this. i've been wondering the same thing for the past 6 years.

Must ... not ... respond ... to ... Jamie ...

Despite ... temptation ...

As a regular reader of the Dish I'm expecting some sort of apology from Andrew. Jamie has fouled the waters in a unbelievable way, his response was typically juvenile and hollow.

Why does so much of the right run around in hysterics as if al Qaeda was a credible threat at doing more than killing a bunch of people here and there, now and again?

It's no secret that a lot of people need a Big Bad as something to keep their interior universe in order. Part dualism, part meta-scapegoating. Take just about any apocalyptic speech about The Communist Menace, substitute "Communism" with "Islamofascism," and you have today's standard RW broadside.

What puzzles me about using "Islamofascism" as the latest Big Bad is how the Right 'runs around in hysterics' on the one hand while agreeing with "Islamofascist" hatred for Western liberalism on the other.

Must ... not ... respond ... to ... Jamie ...

Despite ... temptation ...

Jesus f*cking wept. After reading Jamie's martyr-posing 'rebuttal', I've been afflicted with acute stupid-shock. For the love of God, Hil, please please please put the (at this point wholly undeserved) civility and decorum on the shelf and rip the haughty, passive-aggressive little pissant a new one.

"It's no secret that a lot of people need a Big Bad as something to keep their interior universe in order."

Well, yes, I could write a fair amount about what the various reasons are for this phenomenon, and its various manifestations, and who benefits from deliberately exploiting it and creating it, and so on; I wasn't asking because I need an explanation; I was asking, insofar as I was being more than rhetorical, what reasons those who believe it give to themselves, although, to be sure, I know those answers in general, as well: but not those of a given individual, and, who knows, maybe we might get somewhere discussing the rationality of such fears?

Probably not, but one never knows without asking.

Must ... not ... respond ... to ... Jamie ...

Despite ... temptation ...

Give in! Give in!

Also, I would say I have far more of a chance of taking over a country than al Qaeda does.

What puzzles me about using "Islamofascism" as the latest Big Bad is how the Right 'runs around in hysterics' on the one hand while agreeing with "Islamofascist" hatred for Western liberalism on the other.

i assume one of the reasons the demagogues and politicians rhetorically over-hype the threat is because they need a position that's as far from The Left's position as possible, in order to use it for political reasons. by turning alQ into an all-powerful army of evil that The Left wants to surrender to, they've found a way to turn the emotions from 9/11 against their political opponents.

i don't know why otherwise-reasonable right-leaning people buy into that, but i can certainly understand why people for whom politics is just another thing to argue about, like sports, would find advantage in taking that position.

^^ See? Victor agrees with me (and I'm sure even a chronic do-gooder like Reed Richards would, too).

Listen to the dark side, hilzoy. Let your feelings go. Give in to the dark side of the Force.

There is no higher ground in the blogosphere. Please kick that weenie's ass so hard that I fall out of my chair laughing my fat ass off.

"i don't know why otherwise-reasonable right-leaning people buy into that"

I think a lot of the more innocent parts of it are that so many people were legitimately stunned and shocked and frightened in one fashion or another after 9/11, and that given all the encouragement of their fears by the Bush authorities, and the culture in general, that fear continuing in many without questioning or increased perspective isn't surprising.

And it ties in with long-standing normal human habits of fear of The Other, of the changing and threatening modern world, of alien cultures, languages, and ideas, and so on.

And a good-sized chunk of the population is naturally inclined to put a fair or great amount of trust in The Authorities, and the Republicans have learned how to exploit the I Want A Big Daddy For Security desire ever since at least the Cold War (they could argue that Democrats have exploited a desire for economic security ever since at least FDR, of course, if they like), although I'd put it in the earlier context of American's long-term recurring waves of anti-immigrant fervor, including the WWI/Palmer Raids era, and the 1890s, and the earlier Yellow Peril Chinese Exclusion Act fears, and so on, back through the early days of the Republic in the early 1800s.

Fear is fear. It comes naturally to us monkeys. It takes reason to put it in perspective.

And, then, of course, there's a huge industry/culture that's spun up this vast Different View, in which there's a massive worldwide conspiracy by just about every Muslim to engage in plotting to Take Over The World With The Caliphate and make all non-Muslims dhimmis!!!!!!

And once you wander into the echo chamber, why, how could everyone be so largely or entirely wrong in their axioms?

No, it's those other guys who are all wrong! Much easier to believe, because the person in question already agrees with some of their observations and conclusions.

And if by nature you tend to trust the authorities, and distrust those who seem to automatically distrust the authorites (obviously those people are simple-minded extremists!), well... who are you going to believe?

And thus a few thousand people become a threat Larger Than Communism And The Soviet Union! Because it's all the earth's Muslims! And it's their Ancient Plan/Command!!!!!!

No matter that this is a rather lunatic view of reality, if one engages in any examination of the facts.

I think you need to respond to him, at least to detail how inadequate and bad-faith his reply was. If you leave it hanging at this point, that seems to confer legitimacy on his (non-)participation in the debate, which as tiresome as it may be to self-satisfied spectators on both the Left and Right, is an important one.

on reading Jamie's latest... i will change my theory as to why the right is so whipped-up over alQ: they love war; they rationalize themselves into states or war with countries who wouldn't in a million years dare go to war against us; war is the answer, and all that's left is to find the question.

and i guess that gets us right back to the glory-seekers like VDH and Trevino who seem to imagine themselves as perpetually courageously leading the vanguard by sheer will and grit against the Great Evil Of Our Time. they wish we were England in WWII or the fabled 300; and they want to be the chroniclers.

pathetic

Uh oh. I did it. But I'm not going to post it here, since it's pure Sullivan. Here's the link.

[...] they wish we were England in WWII or the fabled 300; and they want to be the chroniclers.

pathetic

But terribly exciting-seeming, if seen from the outside. (Perhaps less so for, say, the 900 servants of the 300 Spartans, or the Thracian slaves.)

I, myself, am gravely concerned over the Calormene threat. Have you heard about their Talking Animals Of Mass Destruction Program-like activities?

John: And Bush "hatred" is about 5,000 degrees below the Clinton hating that occured in the 90's.

That may be so. Its 5,000 degrees below what I feel about (Ms.) Clinton now. ;)

I take you very seriously, so I’ll sleep on this.

Filters? Senility (on my part)? Bush was personally responsible for every death re: Katrina?


Gary : Is there the faintest chance of al Qaeda or like-minded folk taking over European or other countries? Even, say, Monaco? Don't make me laugh.

Hmmm. I don’t believe I said that was the case. I said: “In terms of a realistic threat I agree with you.” (Hilzoy). I say enough dumb crap on my own – don’t put words in my mouth please… Do you disagree with what I claim is their goal:

Their stated goal is to create a caliphate centered on Saudi Arabia and unite all Muslims under a global Muslim leader.

???

I didn't mean to put words in your mouth, OCSteve, and I apologize for any implication of such a thing you see in what I wrote.

I already let stand your construction on al Qaeda's "goals," and asked "so what?" What do "goals" utterly unconnected to reality matter as a threat?

A treat that isn't a threat isn't a threat, after all. This seems like it should be obvious.

Al Qaeda's threat level is that of potentially being able to engage in some mass bombings or attacks somewhere in the world, from time to time, and of retaining that capability for a fair number of years from now, and if unchecked, to be a threatening presence in a failed or near-failing Muslim-majority state.

Their threat level seems to show little signs of venturing much above that, at least while we do take what productive steps might be taken to hem in and reduce their actual threat and influence.

So what's the point in talking about their active fantasy life?

Charlie Manson has alarming ideas, too, but I don't lose a lot of sleep over them. Al Qaeda isn't quite as constrained, certainly, but isn't in the most remote way in reach of even threatening to topple a Western state, and I can't see any reason to think it will be any time in the forseeable future, absent some extremely implausible assumptions stretching out many decades.

I'd just as soon worry about alien space attack as being as likely.

Or Dr. Doom, who is tracking my comments!!!

"Foreseeable," that is.

Gary: I already let stand your construction on al Qaeda's "goals," and asked "so what?"
Well, I appreciate that you let my “construction” stand. Can you tell me where I am wrong here though? And do I get a credit when you “let” a falsehood of mine stand?
"Their stated goal is to create a caliphate centered on Saudi Arabia and unite all Muslims under a global Muslim leader."
That is based on public AQ statements. I take them at their word. How did I get that wrong?


A treat that isn't a threat isn't a threat, after all. This seems like it should be obvious.
Well, sure. I’m no more worried about it than you are. Could you review my original point?

BTW Gary – please let me have it with both barrels. You seem to be treating me with kid gloves lately. I never asked for or expected that treatment from you. I can take it. I have learned a lot from you, so never hold back.
I admit that in earlier times I wasn’t used to your “style” and maybe I took it too personally. Now I am. Don’t hold back. I’ve told you before that I consider you a friend and that is true. Friends can beat on each other without lasting repercussions… So, wail away…

"Well, I appreciate that you let my “construction” stand. Can you tell me where I am wrong here though?"

Nope.

"And do I get a credit when you 'let' a falsehood of mine stand?"

Dunno, hasn't come up.

"That is based on public AQ statements. I take them at their word. How did I get that wrong?"

OCSteve, "let it stand" means "let it stand." It means: I am not challenging the statement.

How you get from that to an interpretation that it means "you are wrong," rather than "you are right," or to "that is false," rather than "that is true," I have no idea, but given that you're imagining it out of whole cloth, I can't help you with this point, I'm afraid.

How many times do I have to repeat that I'm not arguing with you about al Qaeda's goal, that I'm stipulating to your description of al Qaeda's goal (simplified and shortened though it is), that I'm not challenging it, that I'm letting it stand, that I'm leaving it be, that I'm not disagreeing with it, that I'm not criticizing it, that I'm not challenging it, that I don't claim it's unfair or wrong or false or misleading or in significant error or mistaken, to be clear, before it sinks in? :-)

"Do you disagree with what I claim is their goal"

No, I do not disagree. I've never said I disagree. I've repeatedly said that I don't disagree.

You seem to be a bit insistent on taking my statements of non-disagreement as disagreement, though, somehow. Am I any clearer now?

Then I repeat: what does it matter how active a fantasy life some of those al Qaeda folks have, when their fantasies have no connection to reality?

Why is it that so many rightwing Americans are so devoted to hyping the fantasy life of al Qaeda members/fans as if we are all in worldwide danger of Islamic doom!!!!!?

Because we're not. Saying we are is a Big Lie. (In the classic genre, I might add.)

Jamie replies to Steve Clemons ...

(The stupid! It burns!)

At least he didn't insult Steve's intellectual integrity this time.

"Chairman Kos". The young man has done the impossible, which is make me long for the return of Sullivan.

Actually, I have somewhat enjoyed reading Sullivan, despite the fact that he and I disagree on many issues and the fact that he tends to tred onto the fiel of hyperbole, particularly when speaking of universal health coverage.

Jamie, however, in the act of criticising people for overgeneralization tendsw to provide an excellent example of what he compalisn about. I know few people on the left that believe everybody on the right qualifies as a neo-con, but apparently young master Jaimie knows better than me, because he unabashedly states that the left does that sort of confaltion.

At the same time he describes attitudes that many on the left have, including facing up to international threats, conducting a realistic approach to threats, and states that the left calls anyody who agrees with that a neo-con. The ridiculousness of his statements is overpowering.

OTON, I was somewhat disappointed in hilzoy's last response. She still had the silk gloves on when he deserved a real bare-knuckled thrashing.

OCSteve, other than a few people on the far, far left, I don't anybody who blamed Buish for all the Katrina deaths. However, to have the dead floatuing in the canals for more than a day was criminal when it would have been easy to retrieve them. This administration's handling of Katrine (and I don't put all the blame on Bush) was abysmal.

That is why I don't see that one phrase as an exagerration. It was not a statemnent about the immediate impact of the Hurricane, but rather the handling of the aftermath.

Well, isn't that just the problem? "Young master Jamie" has been "reading [Sullivan's] blog since he was in high school..."!!! Since fucking high school?!?!

Frankly, when I was in high school, the closest thing I had to reading a blog was typing my papers on an Apple IIe. Tell me why I should give any credence to a jackass Mini-Me version of Marty Peretz again?

Reading Sullivan's blog in FUCKING HIGH SCHOOL?!?! That's too funny for words. LOOOOOL!

Jamie's Cryin': there's a rule against profanity. It has to do with workplace filters.

john: It was rude enough that I regretted parts of it. Not that I didn't think they were true, but it is someone else's blog.

Oops. Sorry. Will moderate for future posts.

hilzoy, I understand that you don't want to mess up a friend's house. But as Steve snarkily pointe dout, Jamie was impugning both your and his integrity and intellectual honesty.

I recognize that you would probably be the last person I would expect to get overly snarky, you are too much a "lady" for that. (And not, that is not a sexist comment.)

Yet, part of the problem in politics in the past few years is that a portion of the right has known they can get away with just about anything as most of the left refuses to get into the gutter with them.

john miller: I have this faint hope that there is a way to not let them get away with things without crawling into the gutter. ;)

My voyeuristic commentary has descended from the gutter to the fifth circle of Hell.

Hil, I really, really hope you and Clemons are getting paid to put up with this.

Funny how the anti-anti-totalitarianism deal goes around. What is the best course of action for Zimbabwe? To wring our hands and hope for the best, I suppose. But that is not likely to change anything. And for Iraq? To allow a civil war where there are signs of progress if only we stay there. I don't get that. So I'd say it is a dilemma.

Somebody has to make a call on that, to be "the decider". At least that's what I think. But what is to be done if national security is at stake? I'm for punishing state sponsors of terrorism. So to me it is simple as that. And once we have dismantled the bad regime, we have a responsibility to make things right, not to just let it all go to hell.

Jamie's Cryin', if you're going to have future comments, how about picking an actual name of some sort, rather than a taunt specific to one particular thread? Just as suggestion. You might want to comment on another topic at some point.

DaveC, how many times do we say "six more months", while we make the situation worse and worse and worse? How many times have we been told we've turned the corner? How many times have we been told things are getting better, only to find that it was once again a lie? Is there any limit?

Yup, that is precisely the problem with Kirchick. He subscribes to the Hogwarts Theory of Foreign Policy, in which all you has to do to solve serious problems of war and civil-rights abuses is to wave your magic wand and shout a few appropriate phrases -- which naturally means that anyone who ISN'T willing to support this must be in Favor Of Tyranny. During all of his snarlings on Sullivan's blog so far, I have yet to see one word of actual advice from him as to how we might actually GET enough troops to pacify Iraq, let alone enough to deal with Darfur as well.

Hogwarts Theory of Foreign Policy

Permission requested to plagiarize

Permission granted (provided you correct my grammatical slip).

how about picking an actual name of some sort, rather than a taunt specific to one particular thread?

Huh, I thought it was a Van Halen reference. (My DLR-addled brains filled in an 'n' where the 'm' is. Speaking of DLR, WTH?!!)

Gary: Much better. Thanks ;)

OCSteve, you ignorant slut: how's your Labor Day weekend going?

It absolutely was a Van Halen reference. That it Jamie happens to be Kirchik's apparent nickname of choice is merely coincidence.

Not to worry, though. I'll not pollute this site further with my profanity and obsession with this singular topic. (no snark intended--really) It's been fun reading the comments here, watching the whole thing unfold at Sullivan's site has been fascinating really.

Mostly, I'm glad to see there are people of like mind out there who consider Kirchik and his ilk in a similar fashion. If these motivations have lowered the tone of the debate, you needn't worry about such annoyances coming from my end in the future.

lol

Jeebus, Hilzoy, why did you venture into such an awful internet neighborhood without a wing(wo)man? Whatever dregs of respect I was starting to feel for Andrew "Mad Dog" Sullivan are now gone again...

Brad: I didn't know who my co-guest-bloggers were going to be. It wouldn't have made any difference: I had never heard of Jamie, and have enormous respect for Greg and Steve. But, yeah, it was a trip.

I really wish Steve had responded to Jamie's reply on neocons -- the one in which he seemed to say that Steve took his orders from Chairman Kos, which had me in hysterics for about an hour.

"I had never heard of Jamie"

Let me then opine, as someone who has read him since he first showed up at TNR (he and Matt Yglesias have been swiping at each other for many months, incidentally), that he's been nothing if not consistent in approach and topics.

He really does tend to mirror Marty Peretz in both.

As you've learned.

Not to belabor the point, but Kirchick is breathtakingly, directly wrong about the AFL-CIO and Iraqi unions. The AFL-CIO held a rally at the Irai embassy in suppirt of unions last week:
Our brothers and sisters in Iraq have asked for our help. We are here today to show we are going to help. The oil industry is critical to the future of Iraq. And critical to the workers in Iraq is the basic right to form a union.

But as for dismissing Democratic criticisms, that’s hardly the case. I’ve come to agree with many if not most of them. I’d just like to be able to vote for something rather than strictly against something.

Well, so would we all, I think. Personally, I'm with Heinlein on this one: there will not always be something or someone you want to vote for, but there will almost certainly be someone or something you want to vote against. Voting against the lesser of perceived evils isn't any less an intelligent exercise of franchise than voting for someone you passionately believe in--it just means you're correctly evaluating one choice as being worse than the other, and choosing the better of the lot.

Frankly, that puts you one up on some of the toolbox liberals I know around here, who get their panties so bunched up about, for example, Hillary's record on video game nanny-statism that they're actually willing to vote for a party who is quantifiably and in all certainty /worse/ on moralizing censorship, along with a hundred other more important issues, just to spite Hillary on this one point. It drives me up the wall.

Seth D.: Way ahead of you, buddy.

At least Plumer called him out on this @ The Plank. Kirchick's response? "Ok, fine, my bad. But teh AFL-CIO has still totally abandoned anti-totalitarianism and teh poor, poor trade unionists in favour of teh Communist anti-war wing of teh Democrats!" Even though, as also noted above, the two main Iraqi Trade Unions also want an end to the US-led occupation ASAP.

Isn't supporting the expressed wishes and interests of your union brethren kinda the definition of 'solidarity'?

All this (and more) is noted in increasingly shrill updates to the entry @ my pad that I've already posted a link to somewhere above, but can't be assed to scroll upwards/relink.

Just click on my name here, scroll down to a post entitled 'Bogus Solidarity' (make sure to take a moment along the way down to watch David Lee Roth's WTF-inducing bluegrass version of 'Jump'). Apologies for the shrillness/profanity. As noted in the final update, I've given up.

Kirchick is Ben Domenech 2007, minus the plagiarism - although I'll be damned if Peretz's hand isn't buried elbow deep.

Hilzoy, I think your posts were right, and quite courteous, and therefore entirely appropriate even on someone else's blog. That said, I think Jamie did make exactly one point that was correct: by interfering in our military occupation of Iraq against our troops, Iran and Syria have given us a casus belli. It would be beyond stupid of us to take them up on it, and the very best thing we can do is ignore it so that we can look less stupid and weak for having put ourselves in a position where we are unable to protect our troops, but he is correct that they did it.

Btw, why isn't the right taking a stronger stand on the dangers of the Bonapartist menace? They used to be very sound on that, but not any more. We need more leaders who are unafraid to tell the mob to stop upsetting Great Britain so much with our pro-French "neutrality."

Jamie did make exactly one point that was correct: by interfering in our military occupation of Iraq against our troops, Iran and Syria have given us a casus belli.

I would put it the other way around. By occupying iraq and preventing reconstruction, we have given them a casus belli.

But it would be beyond stupid of them to take us up on it, before our military is sufficiently worn down.

And our air force is still in very good shape. We could hurt their economies very badly, not to mention if we wanted we could conventional-bomb and kill millions of civilians, and they couldn't do a thing about it except make us take losses in terms of planes and flight crews. They could retaliate various ways, and in the medium run it wouldn't get us anything worth having, but they couldn't stop us from hurting them a whole lot.

Is what syria and iran are allegedly doing to us any worse than what we proudly did to the russians in afghanistan? In terms of scale is it anywhere close?

I remember we started out with magazine articles saying that afghan blacksmiths are so great they can make perfect copies of anything, but pretty soon we were announcing that we were sending the mujas our great anti-air and anti-armor shoulder-held stuff. And the russians never threatened to nuke us for it, did they?

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