My Photo

« More Sweden-Blogging | Main | Regrets .... »

August 30, 2006


Of course, we're all appeasers. How many terrorists have you killed today, huh?


I think the revision went too far in the other direction.

When Runsfeld said "it is apparent that many have still not learned history's lessons", then he was clearly thinking of a large number of persons who are critical of the Administration today. As a result, uncritically following it with his aides' denial "Aides to Rumsfeld said later he was not accusing the administration's critics of trying to appease the terrorists but was cautioning against a repeat of errors made in earlier eras" is allowing Rumsfeld to make such an accusation against his political opponents to fire up his base, and then claim to not have meant the clear implication of his words when called on it.

"Well, I'm at least part of the target audience, and that is how I would have interpreted it."

You would have interpreted it as meaning European governments?

Why would he bother? They have no say on the matter. The administration has nothing to fear from Norwegian opinions on the war. Nor has there been any such criticism in the news lately. (There's a background noise, of course, but there haven't been any notable instances of some European leader telling Bush to pull out of Iraq.)

Why would he bother bringing up impotent, nonexistent foreign criticism in a speech at an American Legion?

"I fully agree that the revised summary is much more accurate and appropriate."

If Rumsfeld doesn't even have the balls to be specific, and hides behind strawmen, how do you expect him to beat the Nazislamostalinist Rouge?

?i>If Rumsfeld doesn't even have the balls to be specific, and hides behind strawmen, how do you expect him to beat the Nazislamostalinist Rouge?

Amen Jon h!

If Rummy can't stand up to appeasers how can he stand up to the Islamofacists? What a world!

"You would have interpreted it as meaning European governments?"

Since precision is necessary, I would have interpreted it as European governments, some NGOs, and a limited number of critics at home (of the Sheehan or Cynthia McKinney variety for example but not the Kerry variety).

"If Rumsfeld doesn't even have the balls to be specific, and hides behind strawmen, how do you expect him to beat the Nazislamostalinist Rouge?"

I hate to repeat it yet again, but I'm not happy with Rumsfeld's prosecution of the Iraq war.

Since precision is necessary, I would have interpreted it as European governments, some NGOs, and a limited number of critics at home

"a limited number" is not precise.


Did you think "of the Sheehan or Cynthia McKinney variety for example but not the Kerry variety" was an accidental brush of the keyboard?


You are correct, my mistake.

The original version seems to be essentially correct, however. Rumsfeld did portray the administrations critics in such a way. I don't find your suggestion that he was talking about foreign governments particularly persuasive. In his remarks following the bit about appeasement and negotiating with terrorists, he criticizes the media for it's coverage of Iraq and the WoT. Notably, he criticizes the American media, rather than the international media, leading to the conclusion that his remarks were directed at Americans and not Europeans. Given the overall context of the speech, it seems entirely reasonable to conclude that when Rumsfeld says "some seem not to have learned history's lessons," the "some" he is referring to are also Americans. I suppose you could criticize Burns for calling this "unusually explicit", but that seems like pretty small beer to me. Rumsfeld may not have been explicit about who he was criticizing, but he was unusually forthright about what he was criticizing them of.

Slarti, Charles, SH -

Who was Rumsfeld talking about? Please name names.

The "it's not about you" litany is both tiresome and insulting, and until you come up with a plausible counter-example, I think Occam's Razor applies here. If he's not talking about adminstration critics, why is he wasting his time talking about such an insubstantial group as the actual terrorist appeasers? Surely he has more pressing matters to attend to - such as, I don't know, anything.

CB already had no credibility with me, but I really expect a little bit more from Slarti and Holsclaw.

"Since precision is necessary, I would have interpreted it as European governments, some NGOs, and a limited number of critics at home (of the Sheehan or Cynthia McKinney variety for example but not the Kerry variety)."

I'm not sure why these people require a response from the SecDef at a public event in the US, when they've all been rather quiet in the media, and the non-US people are pretty much irrelevant.

The war isn't polling badly because of McKinney and Sheehan and their ilk, it's polling badly because it's going badly, there's no end in sight, and it's likely to get worse with Bush daily showing off his hard-on to bomb Iran.

The people Rumsfeld is referring to are people who are a threat to his little adventure, like Ned Lamont and Chuck Hagel. There's no


I think Sebastian has answered it. I don't find his answer convincing, but that is another issue.

Slarti and Charles have not, to date.

In addition to being astoundingly ignorant to the point of malice on semantic interpretations, CB, you and Q&O are misrepresenting how AP stories work. They're far more malleable than even a blog post, sometimes getting edited on the wire several times a minute. While the changes are laid out in detail for the editors, it would make the stories unreadable to print that foolscap for the public.

I meant to end that by saying: There's no point whatsoever in Rumsfeld responding to the impotent and inconsequential, especially if they haven't said anything for him to respond to.

What *is* worth responding to is the war criticism that has become more of an issue since Lamont one the CT primary.

Which is why that's the only rational, reasonable conclusion one can draw as to who Rumsfeld was referring to.

Did you think "of the Sheehan or Cynthia McKinney variety for example but not the Kerry variety" was an accidental brush of the keyboard?

a "variety" of person is not specific, either.

Yes, "changed its content without announcing any changes" is not an indication of nefarious intent, but standard procedure for online content, and even for printed newspapers as they go through editions. Are news sites supposed present a complete audit trail for each story, including diffs between the versions?

"Are news sites supposed present a complete audit trail for each story, including diffs between the versions?"

Especially considering that the AP model is historically based on providing a feed for other news outlets which will run the story once, in tomorrow's paper or a newscast tonight.

In that context, what's important is the latest version that's current at the time the newscast airs or the paper's deadline rolls around.

five hours later, dropped by again.

I see the right-wing's information war is going quite well. A trio of die-hard liars, spinners, and obfuscators has pinned down a large troop of liberals who could have been using their time better.

The trio has been using its traditional tactics of denying the obvious, feigning ignorance, and making wild accusations.

Against them, the liberals have tried to bring to bear such outmoded weapons as reasoned argument, appeals to conscience and shame, standards of honesty and avoidance of hypocrisy.

Of course, the liberal side is losing, because it falsely believes that it is engaged in an exercise in communication and persuasion based on evidence and inference.

Even more comically, it seems to think it is dealing with people who are acting in good faith. (And liberals pride themselves on attending to evidence! Just look at the evidence of good faith from the right-wing trio!)

Meanwhile, the right-wing side is winning handily, because it realizes that if it can just pin down enough smart liberals on enough ludicrous quibbles for long enough, then it will have achieved its objective for the day and be able to collect the check from Ken Mehlman. (Or the Lincoln Group,or some other third-party cut-out funded by the RNC.)

Meanwhile, Katrina is forgotten.

Corporate profits are up--UBS just declared it is a "golden age of profitability".

The wages for wage-earners are down.

You could have been discussing those or other productive issues--better, you could have been calling your representatives, or working to vote out some incumbents.

But instead you fell for the right-wing information war, as it is currently waged on blogs around the blogosphere.


"They are far more malleable than even a blog post..."

Thus the use of stone tablets for RNC and Administration information.

Since precision is necessary, I would have interpreted it as European governments, some NGOs, and a limited number of critics at home (of the Sheehan or Cynthia McKinney variety for example but not the Kerry variety).

Well, as I (and many others) have stated above, I don't think this is the most reasonable interpretation, but I suppose it's not impossible. Just out of curiosity, would you be willing to reconsider this interpretion? Say, in light of the cited WaPo article, in which the WH essentially admits that this is in fact their strategy to combat their domestic opponents?

"a "variety" of person is not specific, either."

Specific enough for the purposes of discussion.

"Orchid" is a variety of flower. There are many types of orchids. One could in theory name every single orchid variety. It is usually easier to say "orchids". "Rose" is also a variety of flower.

If I am talking about a variety of flowers of the "orchid" type and not the "rose" type, I'm not being ridiculously obscure.

Dishonest commenters who defend Rumsfeld's unpatriotic lies deserve to be vilified and treated with contempt and should be kicked off this blog, if not spat upon in the streets.

Am I violating the posting policies? (Clearly I'm talking of commenters here only if (a) they're dishonest and (b) supporting Rumsfeld and (c) Rumsfeld spoke unpatriotic lies). If I can go around saying things like that, because I'm not explicitly identifying any persons here, well... ok, then, but then I don't think the posting rules mean all that much.

(And to be explicit: I'm not really saying those defending Rumsfeld are dishonest people who should be spat upon; but the argument that he's referring to some nebulous group we couldn't even guess at seems spare, at best.

Brian: you got that a little wrong. You're only talking of commenters here if

a) they're dishonest
b) and Rumsfeld spoke unpatriotic lies
c) which lies they supported

IOW, supporting Rumsfeld's patriotic lies or unpatriotic truths -- or those statements which are neither lies nor truths -- is perfectly acceptable.

Remember: parse as narrowly as possible!

Busy again, so I just have time for a general comment.

I laid out an outline of what I thought the Bush administration should be doing on the Information Front. Are they doing it now? No way. They're speaking with more frequency, yes, but the content of what they're saying is still the same old bullsh*t. I wrote above that they shouldn't cheerlead, apply overused rhetoric and get too alarmist. I should add that building strawmen and using bogeymen in their speeches is also counterproductive. I haven't been terribly thrilled with what Rumsfeld or Cheney or Bush have said in the last week because there's too much platitude and not enough substance. Quite frankly, except for perhaps Tony Snow, I not optimistic that the inner circle has the ability or the willingness to change their communications strategy, and major changes are needed if we are to prevail on this battlefield.

Well, I'm not sure "falling for the right-wing information war", is the same as lying.

No, actually, I AM sure they aren't the same thing.

It may be that Sebastian, Slart, and Charles are wrong about the nature of the "information", etc., with Charles bringing an extra dollop of enthusiasm to the act of being wrong, but they aren't lying.

Now Sean Hannity, to throw out a name, isn't falling for anything either, being a paid, professional liar. The rest of us are amateurs, with no real incentives to lie.

I could go on, but eventually I would begin obfuscating with relish.

I will note that Charles said early in his post that his opposition to Rumsfeld "does not extend to cheap shots."

I view that as an improvement, which I hope can be extended as well to Murtha, Hillary, Kerry, and the rest of the universe.

Wait, that was a cheap shot. But I'm biased.

Specific enough for the purposes of discussion.

ok. just making sure i don't read anything into your words that isn't supposed to be there. in this new Era of Precision, one can't be too careful. (by "one" i mean "one person", not one group of people, the Metallica song, or the number "one"; by "Era" i mean an unspecified, but relatively long, timespan, and not the E.R.A., the laundry soap, etc.)

Charles writes: "Quite frankly, except for perhaps Tony Snow, I not optimistic that the inner circle has the ability or the willingness to change their communications strategy, and major changes are needed if we are to prevail on this battlefield."

Well, you see, that's the problem. They aren't interested in *the* battlefield, they're more concerned about the electoral battlefield.

This is really all about sliming the Dems in a desperate attempt to prevent their being made accountable for their tragic idiocy.

What fed up said.

A trio of die-hard liars, spinners, and obfuscators has pinned down a large troop of liberals who could have been using their time better.

Seriously? Nah. I need to take periodic breaks from my research anyway (:

So after having slowly but methodically caught up with all of the comments here, a brief observation. It seems that the argument, though muddled comes down to this.

Was Rumsfeld being an obscure idiot who comments about "some people" without intending that term to catch any group of people meaningful to the electorate at large or the American Legion, to whom he was addressing himself?

Or was he instead sliming all opposition by misrepresenting their position, a tactic that has become standard GOP practice (especially within the executive branch) and is consistent with his earlier use of all phrases employed in this speech?

I, for one, think the latter is a far more obvious reading, which I intended to play out in my representation of the argument. However, I also feel it is the least offensive to Rumsfeld. Sure, he is a vicious partisan hack, but at least he isn't a vacuous idiot.

And for what it is worth, I do think that Senator McCain, for example, was included in this broadside. The clear pattern here is that anyone who doesn't toe the administration line gets blasted, party be damned. Their motives will be impuned, their character called into question, and their intelligence mocked. I really am intrigued as to how one can watch this group in action and think otherwise. I wish someone would explain it to me.

CB: I really would like to see you address Phil's last round of points.

I know this got dropped upthread, but I don;t have the heart to go an sift through the debate that already occured and I just wanted to ask. If Saddam wasn't being pushed as an imminent threat, what in the world was all that blather about the mobile chemical labs and the smoking gun being a mushrrom cloud and the enriched uranium from Niger and the rocket tubes that really weren't?

Lastly, while I think Seb and Slart are quite obviously wrong, and in a way that at times maddeningly frustrating, it bugs me that people think that their own frustration somehow justifies behaving like a bunch of [jerks].

Digby points out, correctly, I think, that the primary purpose of this latest round of steely-eyed speeches is to minimize attention to the Katrina anniversary.

fair point, socratic_me.

John Thullen, I don't think Slarti, sebastian, Charles are being dishonest here. That was just as far over the posting rules line I felt like going, to demonstrate how that sort of narrow parsing, if accepted, would let one get away with lowering the discourse.

socratic_me- Who specificly is being a jerk? Besides me I mean?

I want to amplify this from fed up's rant: "A trio of die-hard liars, spinners, and obfuscators has pinned down a large troop of liberals who could have been using their time better" If you aren't a liar, spinner, and obfuscator you shouldn't object since no names were named.

I have some sympathy for fed up and ugh's and Digby's perspective, but the MSM wasn't going to stay on Katrina or anything which illustrates the general Republican unfitness to govern for long in any event.

Ernesto has pretty much washed Katrina off the airwaves, at least here in NC.


Not sure if the question to me is meant to look like the semihumorous snark above or if it is just an unfortunate coincidence. I actually first thought it was a bit of play, so I will answer as such.

Unlike Mr. Rumsfeld, you don't have to parse my words carefully.

I don't have the heart to dig through 200+ comments and pick out names of bad actors, which would in turn just make people angry and start the same behavior towards me. If you don't see the poor behavior, then feel free to disagree with me. Just realize that I am not referencing the French, but instead people on this thread.

SM- I don't think being a jerk is a shooting offence, most of us are guilty from time to time, but I've been participating in this thread since the begining and I don't think there are any bad actors here, at least on the liberal side.

Some on the right might be arguing in bad faith, but they may feel they are just playing a game.

In particular I think this thread is close enough to Slarti's usuall argument that I don't see how anyone could think any less of him for his participation.

But I'm not promising not to make future use of rhetorical techniques I learn here. I hope I can someday make Republicans I argue with as frustrated as some here have made me.


I am sure it seems odd, but it seems to me every bit as odd that you can't see there has been bad behavior on both sides in this debate. Moreover, because there is a lot of piling on, the left here ends up coming off a lot worse. They are also a lot less effective for it.

One thing I notice a lot here at ObWi is that if someone (on either side) is presented with a very well argued case and a snarky one, they will often slide into debate with the snarky person. I used to think this was because it was easier to slide off into side points and ignore the real issues. The more I read these mega long threads, the more I realize it is probably just that the snarky ones irritate more and therefore provoke quick responses, with the more reasoned thought being put off for later. Since there is an overabundance of nastiness out there, we all get bogged down in the ugly back and forth and the interesting conversation gets squashed.

Now I don't think being a jerk is a shooting offense, nor even being the word that I replaced with jerk to meet posting rules. But it does irritate me. I have been following this thread from its get-go and just haven't posted because I work as a teacher and can read between classes but can't post. I thought about shooting something out really quickly this mornign, but the heat was too high and there wasn't likely any point. Especially when all I really had to say was that there was so much bad behavior on here that it was really easy to bypass hilzoys excellent and non-vicious comment for all the lower hanging fruit.

socratic_me- I think you might find yourself more at home at tacitus. You keep talking about bad behavior but you are unwilling to point it out, that makes it impossible for us to have an exchange of views. I think you may not have much experience in online discussion if you think skipping the snark could lead to a reasoned discussion. ;)

sm- For example: no matter how little snark, no matter how nicely we ask, Seb, Slart, and Charles are never going to seriously answer questions about who Rumsfeld really was talking about.

Brian Plamer:

Sorry, I was referring to fed up's comment regarding the trio. I read your comment with the intended irony.

Although now that I reread fed up's comment, it occurs to me that "trio" could refer to Moe, Larry, and Curly, or maybe Dino, Desi, and Billy, rather than the trio here. Sort of like Rumsfeld's "some folks" could refer to me, or you, or the Democrat(ic) Party.

It's hard to tell. Best just to take it personally and ask questions later. ;)

I was talking to Brian Palmer, not Brian "Plamer", though one could spin that misspelling into heavy irony.



Thing is, I have been a longtime regular here at ObWi primarily because it has generally been a forum where lots of worthwile discussion does indeed take place between moderates of all persuasions, among which Slart and Seb are numbered. It has often been heated. It has also been productive. If it is your contention that this is not realizable, then I ask you take that attitude elsewhere where the echo chamber is louder or the screaming more interesting. As it is, I would like to see that enviornment return here and will continue to point out when things are devolving in the hopes it will have some effect.

SM- I've been hanging out here for years and I just cannot see how you could have been doing the same and yet think that this thread is anything unusual especially for a birddog thread. Anyway I am having fun and behaving well within posting rules, though your continual vague accusations are starting to seem rude to me.

Although now that I reread fed up's comment, it occurs to me that "trio" could refer to Moe, Larry, and Curly, or maybe Dino, Desi, and Billy, rather than the trio here.

Or perhaps those wacky Germans behind that obnoxious 'Da Da Da' tune have become latter-day administration apologists.

For example: no matter how little snark, no matter how nicely we ask, Seb, Slart, and Charles are never going to seriously answer questions about who Rumsfeld really was talking about.

And given that Seb has clarified exactly who he was talking about in numerous comments above, and even entered discussion as to whether or not this was a reasonable interpretation, this comment is exactly the sort of non-productive and intellectually dishonest snark that I decry.

I also think the CBs last post implies that he thinks there is a difference between throwing a straw man (which Rumsfeld is doing here) and implying your opponents actually hold those views. That seems an odd distinction, but also one that bypasses your question. I mention it separately only because non-benevolent reading is less of an offense in my eyes than outright lies.

Dino, Desi, and Billy

Somebody's dating himself.

Just sayin'

Somebody's dating himself.

Just sayin'

I'm glad you said it before I did. To be fair, my own 'Trio' reference is also a bit musty. Of course, I was only 5 when Da Da Da first hit the charts.

But I knew the chorus word for word.

sm- It sounded like you accused me of lying in your last post, but I know thats impossible because you are infallably civil. I confess I didn't get what Sebastian was talking about, but I don't see how anyone could consider Charles' stab at the problem a serious one.

You read me right and it wasn't meant to be snarkie or uncivil. Sebastian has answered the question of who he thought Rumsfeld was referring to. To then claim he will never seriously answer that question is, indeed, a lie.

You read me right and it wasn't meant to be snarkie or uncivil. Sebastian has answered the question of who he thought Rumsfeld was referring to. To then claim he will never seriously answer that question is, indeed, a lie.

Uhm, no. He offered an answer which the commentariat, en masse, deemed so ludicrous as to not qualify is as "serious."

Combine that with Slarti's stupifying position that previous usage can't offer any guidance as to the intended present use, and Charles "loser-defeatists" Bird 'taking the high-road' by refraining from "cheap shots" and I consider it edifying that the worst that can be said is that people have been "Jerks" in response to the presto-chango misdirecto that we've seen here.

In re: "Fauxtography," apparently it's not Charles's coinage -- it's just the right-wing mem. Frankly, it was too clever by half to be Charles's; it actually builds on the existing word in a relatively creative way, unlike "democratsunami" and "loser-defeatist."

sm- Ok fair enough. Not everyone operates by your standard that any time someone says something that doesn't fully accord with the facts as you know them they are a liar. I'll remember to call you one if you ever say anything different from the facts as I know them.

"Katherine is not the newspapers, unless I've missed something crucial."

No, I am not. On the other hand I have published on this stuff, though, not just here, and my word ratio is more like 10,000 to 1 than 10 to 1.

I don't use rhetoric like "gulag of our time", and I don't have any association with Amnesty. I do have one with Human Rights Watch. You know, the anti-semitic/self hating Jewish terrorist dupes. They are also known to show a certain lack of appreciation for the best-run detention facility in the history of warfare.

I dated myself for awhile but I found myself to be incompatible and besides I was afraid I would give myself something.

Of course, Larry Fine is dead. As is Dino.

No word on Billy.

I'm extremely immature for my age.

I'd date Shemp, but I think he may be more musty than Trio.

Can pretty much guarantee he's lost weight since last on screen, which is a plus.

(Wonder if Oprah's ever tried the 'Worms Crawl In...' diet? Can't be any worse than tapeworms. Apart from the 'dead and buried' portion of the weight loss routine, of course.)

In case anyone is still reading down here at comment 250+++.....

It doesn't matter who it is, exactly, that Rumsfeld claims has "failed to learn the lessons of history". It doesn't matter if it's Katherine, Democrats, the NYT, or the crown heads of Europe.

It doesn't matter because the *analogy to the 30's is crap*.

Militant Islam, odious as anyone may find it to be, is not an existential threat to the US, to the West, or to democracy. There is no Islamic state that presents a credible threat to us or to any democratic Western nation. Period.

Disagree? Name one that does.

There are a number of Islamist organizations who would like to kill as many Westerners as they can. That is not the same thing. The appropriate response to them is to find them and capture or kill them.

The "clash of ideologies" line of argument is bullshit, lock stock and barrel. Arguing about who the modern day "Chamberlain" is, is crap, because there is no "modern day Chamberlain". Noone is seeking to appease terrorists, noone is giving terrorists license to murder people as long they don't murder us, noone is expecting "peace in our time" with the likes of Al Qaeda. It's a crock.

Likewise, there is no "modern day Churchill". Bush is not a visionary prophet of the danger presented by militant Islamism. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their crew are not the doughty few manning the barricades against the Mohammedan horde. There is nothing in the world today that vaguely resembles the threat presented by fascism in the 1930's.

Iraq's excellent adventures extended to their neighbors Iran and Kuwait. They were turned back on both fronts. And, at this point, Iraq is not likely to present a threat to anyone other than themselves for some time.

Pakistan's hegemonic ambitions extend to Kashmir. Period.

Iran has invaded nobody since the days of Alexander. Saudi Arabia just wants to keep cashing our checks, thank you very much.

Everybody hates Israel, of course, but they have successfully kicked the living sh*t out of anyone that tried to mess with them for the last 60 years. I expect they will continue to do so.

The analogy is crap. That is the point.

Thank you.

"Faux-tography" and its variants have a long, long history -- at least as far back as Godard in Week-End.

Compare this from Ilya Somin, at The Volokh Conspiracy, about a month ago:

New Zealand politician Don Brash has been accused of making "racist" and "anti-Muslim" remarks (hat tip - Tim Blair):

A prominent New Zealand politician was accused of racism on Saturday after a speech in which he said immigrants who did not accept the country's "bedrock values" should not be allowed to stay.

Don Brash, leader of the conservative opposition National Party, defined the values as "an acceptance of democracy and the rule of law, religious and personal freedom and legal equality of the sexes"....

Javed Khan, president of the [New Zealand] Federation of Islamic Associations, told Radio New Zealand the speech made it clear that Brash wanted immigrants to fit his view of a mainstream New Zealander, and therefore excluded people like Muslims.

Pancha Narayanan, president of the Federation of Ethnic Councils, said a comment by Brash that immigrants should have a good command of English, or quickly learn the language, was a sign that he would prefer them to come from English-speaking countries.

He said the speech had an element of racism and an anti-Muslim tone.

Brash's critics' remarks are far more anti-Muslim than anything he said. The critics imply that Muslims inherently reject "democracy and the rule of law, religious and personal freedom and legal equality of the sexes." That is a far more severe indictment of Islam than anything in Brash's speech.

That is, vague charges are made again "some", and anyone who objects to being smeared is answered by "Oh, I didn't mean you...but isn't it funny that you thought I did?"


You have been very involved in these comments. I did not think that it was unfair to assume you had read them. I also made the assumption that, having read>this comment by SH, which states

"Since precision is necessary, I would have interpreted it as European governments, some NGOs, and a limited number of critics at home (of the Sheehan or Cynthia McKinney variety for example but not the Kerry variety)."

you would have understood that he had now answered the question you said he would never answer. Moreover, it was quoted, in part or as a whole in>several>comments>downthread, at least two of which note that it is a plausible but unconvincing interpretation, I assumed it would be rather hard to miss for someone so involved in the thread.

If, in fact, you missed every one of those comments, I must apologize for accusing you of lying. Instead, I will simply ask that you read the comments more closely before accusing someone of obfuscating by asserting that they are "never going to seriously answer questions about who Rumsfeld really was talking about."

Now, if that is the standard you wish to hold me to, then I will thank you for pointing out my inconsistencies on this matter. Indeed, I will likely thank you for your assistance.

Pooh, the commentariate did not, en masse, decide anything of the sort. Follow my links above to see two examples of the commentariate deciding precisley otherwise. In fact, as I looked for actual quotes of the post, I was surprised that they were often attempts by others to point out that he had answered this question, and seriously.

Moreover, I must wonder what the point of commenting here is at all if you are willing to take his answer, which he supported at length in further comments, and declare it unserious because you think it is wrong. I think it is wrong, as well. Even profoundly misguided. But given his support for that position, I really am puzzled as to what it would take to convince you it was a serious response.

What I'm curious is if all these folks who have searched their souls and realized that Rummy is not the man for the job will support this.

Socratic me, the civil way to make a point about civility in a thread is to make your point ONCE and then drop it.

OT: So much for that Libertarian-Democratic Party alliance Hil and others were musing over a while back.

"I find his "libertarian, trusting, free-people approach", his "Common Sense Jeffersonian Conservative Principles" and his Reaganesque belief in libertarian ideals very attractive."

What a crock of macaca.

Lj--whoa. Who spiked the Democratic leadership's gatorade?

Tangentially to the main point of this thread--I just happened upon these quotations from Ahmadinejad:

"They allege to be pioneers of freedom, but they extend strong support to the autocrat and bullying states of the world for the sake of their own interests. They have secret prisons and they kidnap and torture innocent people," the President stressed.

Mentioning eavesdropping and control of information as among the other violations of human rights and freedom of action committed by the said powers, he stated, "They allege to be proponents of freedom, but at the same time they show strong opposition to Palestinians' right of sovereignty and determining their own fate."

"The problem is that American leaders think all problems can be solved with the use of force and by maintaining military arsenals."

He asserted, "But times have changed and it is culture, thought and logic that are the sources of power now and it is because of this very fact that they refuse to debate with us."

This is of course ripe for people to say: see, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU and American liberals sound just like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They're on his side. But Western liberals didn't get this rhetoric from him--he stole it from them.

You didn't catch Khomeini or Zarqawi talking this way. And you never used to catch Bin Laden doing it, but then there was that weird tape referencing "My Pet Goat."

Why's he doing this earnest believer in human rights, freedom, and nonviolence shtick?

He can't possibly believe it, right? I mean, I talk about Bush's capacity for self-deception, how he reconciled "compassionate conservatism" with the Texas death penalty system and "Americas values and interests are now one" with his torture policies. But for Ahmadinejad to actually believe his rhetoric would require a completely different level of this skill. I mean, a regime that sends this guy to the UN Human Rights Council does not mean the pretty speeches about human dignity even at the shallow level Bush means them. To say nothing of the holocaust denial, and--I really don't think I need to keep listing examples.

So who's the target audience? U.S. liberals? Europe? People watching on Al Jazeera? Iranians themselves?

Or am I making too much of this--is it that he just wants to rhetorically attack the U.S. so he's picking up the nearest convenient arguments lying around?

I think this is related to the fact that Ahmadinejad has to develop a power base outside of the mullahs, and the overall mood in Iran has been an overwhemlingly strong desire to open negotiations with the US, if I recall the public opinion polls. The target audience is educated middle class Iranians, I think

This also gets back to the question of how other nations view the US and the WaPo has this very interesting op-ed related to that on what the writer says is another angle.

Gosh, what I missed while I was on the plane, and then trying to get my fire alarm to shut the hell up, and then asleep.

First, there have been some violations of the posting rules, of which the most recent is: " A trio of die-hard liars", and an earlier one is the reference, which I somehow can't find, to the conservatives here as possibly being paid shills. The first is from fed up; the paid shills comment, alas, I don't feel all that inclined to go hunting for. In any case, stop it.

Second, though this point has been made before, I found this question by Charles incredible:

"Do you think our actions against Iran are on the same moral plane as Islamists' actions against the U.S.?"

(At least, I find it incredible if I am allowed to take it as a rhetorical question whose answer is supposed to be: no, the actions of the Islamists are much worse.)

It's not just arming Saddam during the Iran/Iraq war. (Though here I want to add two things: first, that we didn't just arm Saddam; we also gave him satellite data on Iranian military positions. Focussing on arms alone understates our support of him during that time.

Second, the fact that other people did too is irrelevant. The comparison you made was between what we did to Iran and what Islamists did to us. The fact that other people also armed Saddam during the Iran/Iraq war is no more relevant than the fact that people other than Islamists also killed Americans.

But the fact that we gave significant military assistance to Iran's enemies during wartime, even though we knew at the time that they were using chemical weapons, is not, to my mind, the main thing. The main thing is that we helped overthrow their democratically elected President in 1953, giving power instead to the Shah. Supporting the overthrow of a democratically elected government is much, much worse than anything the Islamists have done, or could do, to us. Moreover, in installing the Shah, we gave power to a monarch whose secret police killed and tortured tens of thousands of Iranians.

Americans may not remember this history, but Iranians do -- as we would if Iran had installed, say, Louis Farrakhan as dictator of the US, and then supported and trained his brutal secret police as they imprisoned and killed thousands of Americans, and deprived us of basic political and civil liberties. It is impossible to understand the situation in Iran without understanding this.

Even if you take only the deaths, what we did to Iran is worse than what "the Islamists" have done to us. Adding in the participation in the coup against a democratically elected government, however, moves it to a completely different level.

I should add that that action was also supported by people who combined an alarmist view of what Mossadegh might do with a complete failure to imagine the long-term consequences of our intervention, consequences that include the Iranian revolution, and that are still being worked out to this day.

It's easy, now, to say that of course we should have left Mossadegh in power, and allowed the Iranians to develop their own tradition of democracy. The world would be a vastly better place. At the time, however, that would have been regarded as appeasement. That is also worth remembering.

Matttbastard, there are plenty of libertarians other than Jon Henke, many of whom would find Jim Webb much more to their liking than George Allen. It's true that there are a lot of people who call themselves libertarians but really don't care about any issues besides tax cuts (not that Henke fits into that category).

Holy mackerel. I mean wow! Read the whole thing. All the way down to the end.

The on topic part of the link is that Dan Senor isn't clear who Rummy is talking about either. First he says:

SENOR: He's talking about people who believe that we would be better off, John, if we withdrew from our military engagements, whether they're in Iraq, whether they're in Afghanistan, whether it's a strong posture, vis-a-vis Hezbollah.

So, uh, any advocate of withdrawal, ever, from any engagement, for any reason? Or is he saying that only strict pacifists who advocate withdrawal from all those military engagements qualify? Are there a couple of hundred million morally confused people in the US or a few hundred thousand? Then he says:

SENOR: There are people — there are many leftist centered activists, political activists.

KASICH: Who? Name me one.

SENOR: has talked about that we should be scaling back our resources in places, our military engagements. They haven't been specific about Afghanistan but they've been specific about Iraq. [bold mine]

Uh-huh. Many activists. Then the ubiquitous bogeyman of MoveOn. Then we're back to people who advocate withdrawal, or even "scaling back our resources in places." Then it's not "places," but Iraq.

Take a good look, Sebastian. That man is your comrade. Your argument is forensically superior, and your moral authority is (IMO) greater than his, but you are on the same "side of history."

You think it's important to dissent from the obvious, and defend that dissent? (European leadership, eh? Yeah right, whatever.) Good idea. That's how science marches on. But keep in mind that when diplomacy fails and the shooting starts you will jump into the nearest foxhole and not the one further away, because that's what people do. And next to you will either be people like Dan Senor or people like Paul Hackett. Charles Johnson or Katherine. Someone who hewed to the administration or someone who shunned it.

KCinDC: Colour me still skeptical. I think social security and health care will continue to form an ideological chasm that most libertarians will refuse to cross. But we'll see. Such issues are less likely to play in the VA Senate Race, aso my concerns are likely negligible, apart from blogosphere insider baseball.

Back on topic: op-ed LA Times op-ed from Rummy. Pretty much a word for word repetition of his Legion speech. No further clarification re: appeasers of fascism is offered, although he does expand on his theory of Guantanamo being the greatest detention centre EVAR!!11

"The facility at Guantanamo Bay...includes a volleyball court, basketball court, soccer field and library (the book most requested is "Harry Potter"). The food, served in accordance with Islamic diets, costs more per detainee than the average U.S. military ration."

F*ck Disney World; next family vacation we're taking the kids to sunny Guantanamo!

As always, hilzoy says what I was trying to say, only one-one thousandth as belligerently and ten thousand times as eloquently. Thank you, hilzoy.

KCinDC and mattbastard, I'm one Virginia libertarian who will be voting for Jim Webb. I've even donated to his campaign.

Matttbastard, there are all sorts of people who call themselves libertarians. I'd have thought torture, oversightless spying, and indefinite detention of citizens without charges would have been a pretty big ideological chasm, but a substantial segment of the "libertarian" population managed to jump it.

That's not to say that I don't have my doubts about Kos's idea of a libertarian-Democratic alliance as well.

Radish, I'm not sure Hackett does our side any favors with the Nazi analogies. Saying things like "Herr Senor" and "little Unterfuehrer of Propaganda" isn't going to persuade anyone who doesn't already agree with him. It just gives people a convenient excuse for dismissing everything he has to say.

Phil: thanks.

About libertarians: I was actually interested less in proposing an alliance than in figuring out the real dispute. I mean: it's striking how easy it is to describe me in terms that would lead someone to think I'm a libertarian. My main motivation, in choosing policies, is to figure out which one would do the most to maximize freedom. This is because I think that everyone should have the ability to figure out for him/herself what to do with his or her life, and that if it's possible to remove constraints on that freedom, we should. I do not believe that happiness matters more than freedom, that everyone should be made uniform, etc., etc. I could go on with further similarities, but it would just be boring.

But lo! I suspect that most libertarians and I don't just differ about domestic policy; we are worlds apart. Why is this? I wanted to know.

Additionally, I think that while a lot of libertarians have probably considered the real deep-down differences between themselves and me/people like me, some might not have, and for them, articulating those differences could make liberalism seem like a much more interesting alternative than, say, Ayn Rand makes it seem.

I don't expect all, or many, libertarians to come rushing over to join me. At most, I think some might just be disgusted with the Republicans and sort of sidle over while holding their noses. But clarifying the issues seemed to me to be worth doing anyways, especially since it might help them see how someone could hold roughly my views on social policy not because of a desire to homogenize the world or aggrandize state power, but out of concern for human freedom, given a slightly different, but I hope not wildly implausible, take on freedom than theirs. Which would let them stop holding their noses quite so hard.

Saying things like "Herr Senor" and "little Unterfuehrer of Propaganda" isn't going to persuade anyone who doesn't already agree with him.

Ah, but "anyone who doesn't already agree with him" about what exactly? I submit to you that "agreement" in the normal sense of the word wasn't even on the menu. That was FOX news, not ObWi. It wasn't a rational discussion of policy, and it wasn't an opportunity to accumulate intellectual credibility. That was about tribal identity. A pure-dee pissing contest. A one-round verbal boxing match intended for half-attentive channel-surfers. From that point of view Hackett handed Senor his backside very handily and memorably.

Anyway I'm nowhere near partisan enough to worry about whether Hackett is doing Democrats per se any favors, but even if I were I don't think inflammatory rhetoric necessarily undermines message discipline. If you want Martin to do his thing you gotta let Malcolm and Huey do theirs. JM2c.

Addendum: in case it's not clear, that tribal subtext is why I framed it the way I did with respect to Sebastian. I think it's silly to pretend that the US is not a house divided against itself, and I think it's silly to pretend that the ObWi bubble of [somewhat] rational discourse is normal.

Most Americans aren't paying attention at all. For most of them it's just so much boxing. But if when if the shooting starts, the closest foxhole is the one you wind up in, and for that reason I advise people to think now about which foxhole they are closest to.

hilzoy, after lengthy reflection over the past several years, I've decided that libertarianism makes the most sense -- at least to me -- if one takes the position that freedom (which is supposed to be the goal of libertarians) works best when it manifests itself primarily as social and political freedom, not just (or not even) as economic freedom. Which is why I think universal health care, for example, is more important than tax cuts.

Phil: do you think your interpretation of libertarianism is one that is representative of most self-identified libertarians in the US? (Note: this is not meant as snark, but as a sincere inquiry.)

Phil, I heard Geoffrey Nunberg speak a few weeks ago, and one of the points he made was that the phrase "economic freedom" usually has a different meaning in political discussions from what it has in normal conversation, where people use it to mean the freedom that not having to worry about money gives you to take risks without facing homelessness, to make changes, and to enjoy life. Universal health care increases that kind of economic freedom.

matt, not even a little. I think the people most commonly referred to as "libertarians" would have me stoned to death. But I know I'm not alone; a lot of commenters at the Reason blog feel the same, and Matt Welch -- Reason contributor and LA Times pundit -- veers close to that sentiment as well, sometimes.

Phil: Thanks for the honest response. Another quick question - do you think the Democratic Party is doing enough to entice libertarians like yourself and those whom you've described, and if not, what could be done to attract them without sacrificing key Democratic principles?

(I'm going to try to get my friend Megan to post some comments here (if this thread doesn't get banished down the memory hole before I reach her). She is an active member of the Libertarian Party in Colorado, and would find this discussion fascinating.

From what I've observed, most blogosphere discussions involving the subject of libertarianism seem to focus mainly on those self-described 'libertarians' who regularly vote Republican, as opposed to third-party stalwarts like her.)

Matttbastard, I think that's because those self-described libertarians are a lot more numerous than the big-L Libertarians. One of my college friends is a Libertarian (has even run for Congress a couple of times, and once got more votes than the difference between the Republican and Democratic candidates), and from discussions with him it seems unlikely that many Libertarians will ever vote for Republicans or Democrats.

The discussions I've seen in various places have been about whether the Democrats can reach out to libertarians, not Libertarians. Maybe Sebastian can suggest a new name we can use for the party to avoid confusion (and annoy the members, purely unintentionally, of course).

matttbastard: if this thread has vanished, just email me and I'll create a new one. I'd be fascinated as well.

Phil: I tend to think of freedom (the sort at issue in this debate, at least; not e.g. freedom of the will) as the ability to live the sort of life you want to live, unless you yourself screw up. (This is, needless to say, a rough definition, but I'm still jetlagged, and so won't attempt philosophical precision unless someone begs me to.)

Thus, having health insurance massively increases my freedom, not only because I get to be cured of my diseases if they are curable, but also because I don't have to worry about the possibility that I might get sick, save up for the possibility that I might be unlucky enough to get something whose treatment costs are well into six figures, etc. The loss to my freedom involved in having to pay for it is much smaller.

Somewhat more interestingly, I think that food safety programs and other forms of regulation are probably a considerable net gain for freedom. If I had to choose between (a) risking getting poisoned by my food, and (b) testing it all myself, both options entail real losses (in the second case because of all that time spent testing.) Giving me a third option -- (c) have food inspectors, and serious penalties for violations -- lets me get on with my life without having to risk food poisoning or spending my life with little bits of food and a chemistry set. I think that when you add up the gains to everyone from this, they outweigh the losses from taxes and regulation. Though of course it also follows from my view that the regulations should be well constructed -- as a freedom-loving liberal, I think regulations that cannot be so justified are bad bad bad.

KC, re: nazi references
You have a point, but I think it gives a measure of the true level of the anger that Hackett must feel. I get peeved when I'm called an appeaser, but for Hackett (who his Republican opponent tried to suggest was in some safe comfy billet previously), the anger must be in the stratosphere.

And I realize this is elitist snark, but looking at the Fox page, the linking of the words to (and how much you want to bet that they carefully choose which words to link) suggests something, doesn't it?

Thanks Hil;-)

KCinDC - yeah, I'm aware of the distinction, and in retrospect haven't made my intentions clear. I guess (as a Canadian) I'm trying to understand whether the 'softer' libertarian (small 'l';-)) constituency outlined by Phil typically vote Republican or Democrat. Is the current policy platform of the Democratic Party repelling or attracting these voters, especially in consideration of the Bush admin's style of 'big government' conservatism?

I just looked up "libertarian" on Wikipedia, but the entry had been recently vandalized, so I didn't get very far. Probably some anarchist mischief. There's some sort of irony in all of that but why trouble ourselves?

I find the vacillation of Libertarians between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party to be confusing.

Generally speaking, I think what it boils down to is if a Libertarian is interrupted while having sex by an uptight religious person, he or she decides to vote Democratic in the next election. If he or she is taxed for having sex, then they vote for the Republican candidate in the next election.

All this while dining on raw squirrel and exhibiting high crankiness at local zoning commission meetings.

Hey, I'm kidding.

I will say that I agree with Hilzoy and Phil pretty much, but I'd like to note that someone who believes universal healthcare is the way to go may be many things, but libertarian ain't one of them. You would be whatever I am, which is not libertarian. I'm an appeaser to universal healthcare, but that's another thread.

I suggest, too, that to satisfy both the regulation haters and the safe food lovers that DaveC. henceforth serve as our Nation's official taster. No? See, that's why we have bureaucracy.

I would also note that I don't like having my bedroom activities interrupted, unless it's to collect taxes. But make it quick and shut the door when you leave.

Hilzoy, one way of describing the difference is to say that (generalizations abound here) libertarians deny the existence of positive rights. Many will claim that the very concept is self-negating, on grounds something like this:

A right is a claim so strong that you can legitimately pursue it with all force necessary. Not that this is license for Bush's gulag petit, but (for instance) you may with moral right kill someone trying to kill you, and you can bring lethal force to bear in the defense of another.

In addition, a right is a claim upon others, that may be satisfied fully by their refraining from evil deeds. There are no intrinsically unfulfillable rights, in this general libertarian framework; it would be nonsense for us to have a moral duty we can't fulfill. Hence, for instance, the libertarian version of the right to life is basically "don't kill me", with some qualifications to cover practical issues like conspiracy and reckless disregard.

This is where the libertarian hostility to taxes and social services comes in. It's not really negotiable. The idea of a claim by right on the help of others is logically inconsistent - it's open-ended, and the cut-off point we set for "this is enough" will always be arbitrary rather than (as with not being murdered) obvious and intrinsic. It will always come down to you using the lethal power of the state to grab an arbitrary amount of my stuff to satisfy your personal impulses.

I'm not sure that there is any real refutation to this; one would have to start by disassembling the premises. The practical improvement seems to me the insight Phil has reached, about the realities of social as well as economic freedom.

There was something I read recently that argued that libertarianism must return to its core principle, which was drug legalization (I'm being facetious, but the blog post wasn't) Does that ring any bells (about the blog post, not about drug legalization)

Is there going to be a response from CB to the last round of Phil/Hilzoy criticisms?

Hilzoy: so you know what I'm going to say, right? When does freedom maximization get too onerous for some particular minority, such that it's a violation of their (natural, political,etc.) rights? For example, what if universal health care came at the expense of severely limiting the kinds of wages doctors can earn for their services? I would think that freedom loving liberals and libertarians disagree about that threshold.

Hilzoy: Second, though this point has been made before, I found this question by Charles incredible:

"Do you think our actions against Iran are on the same moral plane as Islamists' actions against the U.S.?"

(At least, I find it incredible if I am allowed to take it as a rhetorical question whose answer is supposed to be: no, the actions of the Islamists are much worse.)

Uh, Hilzoy, you missed the whole point of this thread. You are NOT allowed to take any rhetorical device at its obvious value - to do so will expose you, right here on this board, to endlessly repeated charges of distortion, if not outright lying. Language doesn't mean what it means when rightwingers, intellectually corrupt and morally obtuse, are trying to weasel out of it.*

(*Obviously, this remark need not apply to any regular contributor to this thread, unless s/he is willing to admit s/he is intellectually corrupt and morally obtuse, in which case it does.)

Otherwise, fine comment.

You are NOT allowed to take any rhetorical device at its obvious value

In fairness to Charles, he recognizes that it was a rhetorical device, as is illustrated by what Chas wrote at TiO, which is along the lines of his 12:40, but more to the point, I think. I paste it below

Rumsfeld directed specific comments to mainstream media editors and Irene Khan at AI (that “gal”), and he directed more generalized comments to “folks” and “some quarters” who would appease terrorists, have moral confusion, etc. The general comments were strawman bullsh*t, and I said so in the comment thread. Rumsfeld may very well have intended to mean all Democrats and all liberals and all war critics. I don’t know. The problem is that Burns was either too lazy or too biased (or both) to confirm whatever intentions Rumsfeld may have had. Instead, Burns deceptively crossed the line from reporting to editorializing. He would’ve provided a valuable public service had he pressed the issue, asking Rumsfeld or his staff exactly to whom he was referring.

Thus, the problem is not Rumsfeld using such devices, but the press not pressing when they should, which I can actually agree with to some extent. However, if no one does press Rummy (and I'm not sure if the opportunities present themselves readily to do so), I think we can take the meaning hanging out there, while Chas might think not. However, as Chas said, this post was written for Redstate and one could imagine how it would be taken if Rummy were accused of writing 'strawman bs'.

Bruce: one way of responding to that argument is to say: I am not arguing on the basis of rights. I think that the question what I have a right to has several possible interpretations. (1) What do I have a right to under a given system? (E.g., under the rules of baseball, if you pitch me four balls, I have a right to go to first.) (2) What do I have a right to under any minimally acceptable system of laws? (Possibly: not to be killed without having been convicted of a crime, and things like that.) (3) What do I have a right to under the best system? (If that system gives me a right to health insurance, then, well, it does.) (4) What do I have a right to absent any system of laws at all (in the 'state of nature'?) Etc.

In all cases, though, you have to say something about the background system you're assuming (where this includes the possibility of saying: there is no such system.) Then we need to ask: what sort of system of laws should we have? It's not clear to me at all that this is best thought of as the question: which system would grant me all my rights. The best system will presumably not violate any of the rights that no minimally acceptable system would violate, and would give me the rights that the best system would give me. (Tautologically.) But it's not as though there are enough antecedent rights to allow us to determine the best system using rights alone.

Here it helps that I do not accept a right to any specific system of property, though I do accept a right to some such system. (Where some systems include liability to taxation and other restrictions, so long as those are not sufficiently extensive to make it pointless to talk about a person having property at all.)>Dispatch from the information war.

Generally speaking, I think what it boils down to is if a Libertarian is interrupted while having sex by an uptight religious person, he or she decides to vote Democratic in the next election. If he or she is taxed for having sex, then they vote for the Republican candidate in the next election.

John, this is probably the truest thing said about the way libertarians act in relation to the two big parties!

matt, the speaking personally, I tend to vote Democrat anyway in elections that matter, for a number of reasons:

-- the only person who expressed any political opinions in my household growing up was my father, who -- being a Vietnam veteran -- held no brief for Republicans.
-- My grandparents on both sides were pretty much New Deal fans
-- In my adult life, the Republican party has always been too closely associated with the religious right at the state level and above for me to feel comfortable giving them any power over people's lives.

That said, I don't think the Democratic Party is doing a good job of appealing to small-l libertarians because the dialogue is taking place at different levels of abstraction.

On the Democratic side, the arguments being offered are that, on balance, a vote for the Democrats means a net increase in freedom. Not that it's reduced to that capsule statement, but that's the thrust of it.

On the libertarian side, they've been conditioned by decades of Rand, Mises and "The Road to Serfdom" that it all comes down to one thing: Who Will Take Less Of My Money And Property In Taxes? That's it. Grover Norquist helped the Republicans win that battle, thus I'd say 99% of libertarians are going to go R. (Plus, the libertarians generally think the Democrats were on the wrong side in Kelo, and that's a Roe moment for them.)

What needs to happen is that the Democrats have to find a way of saying that:

1. Rand, Hayek and Mises aside, and taking as given that we don't want confiscatory taxation or punishing success, there are more measures of freedom than marginal tax rates.
2. Taxes are a given in a democratic nation, and would you rather they be used to help sick people and build better roads, or to ban nipples on television and blow up the Middle East?
3. Taxes aside, the Republicans in the last six years have done more to make this nation and its people less free than even the most leftist Democratic president possible could do.

Dispatch from the information war.

Obviously just another appeaser that should be arrested.

The comments to this entry are closed.