Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 19, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

MANIFESTO WARS....I'm pretty manifesto-phobic myself, but I agree that Bruce Ackerman and Todd Gitlin's defense of liberalism, "We Answer to the Name of Liberals," is a good piece of work. The title is pretty cringe inducing, but I guess that's rather in the nature of manifestos, isn't it? Here's a sample:

Make no mistake: We believe that the use of force can, at times, be justified. We supported the use of American force, together with our allies, in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. But war must remain a last resort. The Bush administration's emphatic reliance on military intervention is illegitimate and counterproductive. It creates unnecessary enemies, degrades the national defense, distracts from actual dangers, and ignores the imperative necessity of building an international order that peacefully addresses the aspirations of rising powers in Asia and Latin America.

....We reaffirm the great principle of liberalism: that every citizen is entitled by right to the elementary means to a good life. We believe passionately that societies should afford their citizens equal treatment under the law regardless of accidents of birth, race, sex, property, religion, ethnic identification, or sexual disposition. We want to redirect debate to the central questions of concern to ordinary Americans their rights to housing, affordable health care, equal opportunity for employment, and fair wages, as well as physical security and a sustainable environment for ourselves and future generations.

What's odd, though, is that this was written in response to "Bushs Useful Idiots," an essay by Tony Judt in the London Review of Books. So I followed the link and read it. It's almost exclusively about the Iraq war and foreign policy:

Intellectual supporters of the Iraq War among them Michael Ignatieff, Leon Wieseltier, David Remnick and other prominent figures in the North American liberal establishment have focused their regrets not on the catastrophic invasion itself (which they all supported) but on its incompetent execution. They are irritated with Bush for giving preventive war a bad name.

In a similar vein, those centrist voices that bayed most insistently for blood in the prelude to the Iraq War the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman demanded that France be voted Off the Island (i.e. out of the Security Council) for its presumption in opposing Americas drive to war are today the most confident when asserting their monopoly of insight into world affairs.

....Friedman is seconded by [Peter] Beinart, who concedes that he didnt realise(!) how detrimental American actions would be to the struggle but insists even so that anyone who wont stand up to Global Jihad just isnt a consistent defender of liberal values. Jacob Weisberg, the editor of Slate, writing in the Financial Times, accuses Democratic critics of the Iraq War of failing to take the wider, global battle against Islamic fanaticism seriously. The only people qualified to speak on this matter, it would seem, are those who got it wrong initially.

That's pretty bracing too, isn't it? True, Judt is unforgivably sweeping in implying that his criticism applies to every liberal in America, but careful qualification isn't exactly a hallmark of polemics, is it? What's more, the actual liberals he criticizes are pretty frequent targets of liberal blogosphere ire for exactly the reason he describes.

Like I said, I'm not a manifesto lover. But hell read 'em both. It'll do you good.

Kevin Drum 2:37 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (63)

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Comments

What's that smell?

Posted by: Matt on October 19, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Judt's criticism of Friedman, et. al, is absolutely spot on. It's similar to that Jonah Goldberg piece you linked earlier: "We were monumentally, almost deliberately wrong a few years ago, but you should listen to us now. We're right this time." I, for one, simply cannot allow myself to take anybody so intellectually lazy seriously. During the build-up to the Iraq War, I was attending college in a foreign country, so my access to news sources was far more limited than their's, and I was constantly wondering why the war seemed more and more inevitable when the reasons for it were repeatedly proven to be false, and nobody was taking any long term planning seriously. I know, saying political commentary on television is simplistic and shallow is not particularly groundbreaking, but this applies to nearly every political columnist I can think of as well.

A much worse offense than simply being wrong a few years ago, though, is their continued reluctance to admit this, and, if one eventually does so, their reluctance to actually look at the situation in a different light. As you posted earlier, Jonah Goldberg admits he was wrong about the Iraq War, but continues to support the same course of action we pursued before he realized his mistake. It is either childish or dazzlingly stupid on their part, but no matter what the reason, I refuse to treat them as worthy of any more intellectual attention than I give a pro-wrestling match.

Posted by: New Talking Wall on October 19, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Judt's piece is good.

And the Ackerman/Gittlin piece is in some sense a response to it.

But that doesn't mean that A/G is in any sense a *criticism* or *rejection* of Judt. If anything, they are *agreeing* with the substance of his complaint (sc. Liberal silence and supineness), and following his policy prescription.

So, yeah, it would be "odd", as you say, if A/G were disagreeing with Judt on any substantive matters. (The closest to disagreement would be J: all of you were silent, all the time! A/G: some of us spoke up, some of the time!) But really, there is nothing odd about taking up Judt's challenge to speak out, by speaking out.

Posted by: kid bitzer on October 19, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

I guess it's this part that pisses them off:

the willingness of so many American pundits and commentators and essayists to roll over for Bush’s doctrine of preventive war; to abstain from criticising the disproportionate use of air power on civilian targets in both Iraq and Lebanon; and to stay coyly silent in the face of Condoleezza Rice’s enthusiasm for the bloody ‘birth pangs of a new Middle East’, makes more sense when one recalls their backing for Israel: a country which for fifty years has rested its entire national strategy on preventive wars, disproportionate retaliation, and efforts to redesign the map of the whole Middle East.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on October 19, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin quotes Ackerman and Gitlin: " ... and a sustainable environment for ourselves and future generations."

Gee, it's nice that Ackerman and Gitlin mention "a sustainable environment for ourselves and future generations" ... last, and seemingly almost as an afterthought, in their list of "liberal" values.

"Oh, yeah I almost forgot ... a planet capable of supporting life is kind of important, I guess."

Actually, the "environment" -- the Earth's biosphere -- is already "sustainable" and the rich diverse biosphere whose incalculable bounty the human species has enjoyed for its entire existence has "sustained" itself quite well for many millions of years. Until we came along.

What is unsustainable is human behavior.

What is unsustainable is the mental illness which imagines that everything on Earth, including all of the Earth's wonderful life, can be divided into two categories: humans, and "resources".

What is unsustainable is humanism -- the notion that "man is the measure of all things".

It will be the death of us.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 19, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

A bit off subject:

Consevative policy is determined because of the veiw that the world is unfair and imbalanced.
Liberal policy is determined inspite of the the veiw the world is unfair and imbalanced.

Posted by: cboas on October 19, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

I think the war in Iraq was a last resort. Iraq was not complying with its commitments made in settlement of the 1991 war, which it had started. Iraq had ignored 18 or 19 Security Council resultions. It had thrown out the UN weapons inspectors four years earlier. (They were allowed back in only when war was imminent, and, even then, Saddam wasn't providing rhe requred cooperation.) Saddam had attempted genocide against the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs. He was torturing and killing his own citizens. He was cheating on the Oil for Food program -- bribing those who could help him. He had previously had a nuclear program that came close to developing nuclear weapons. He had used poison gas on his own Kurdish citizens.

If that's not a last resort, what is?

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 19, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

How is it that a mook like me could tell:

1) That we were absolutely, positively going to war with Iraq from the moment, in August '02, that Andy Card said the following about it: `From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August.''

2) That BushCo would only go through the motions of putting a coalition together

3) That there would be few-to-no WMDs

4) That, if we didn't get the lights on and water flowing quickly, shit was going to get nasty, fast?

...yet NO ONE in the MSM, or the majority of the Democratic Party could see it?

I mean, you could see it, right? Wasn't it as plain as the ass on Rove's face?

Posted by: cazart on October 19, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin quotes Judt:

... Beinart ... insists ... that anyone who wont stand up to 'Global Jihad' just isnt a consistent defender of liberal values. Jacob Weisberg ... accuses Democratic critics of the Iraq War of failing 'to take the wider, global battle against Islamic fanaticism seriously'.

Beinart and Weisberg are frauds and phonies.

Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq had, and has, absolutely nothing whatever to do with any alleged "Global Jihad" or "Islamic fanaticism", which, to the extent that such things even exist, are of trivial importance anyway.

Bush's invasion and occupation was a war of unprovoked aggression, based on sickening lies about a nonexistent threat from nonexistent Iraqi "WMD", for the corrupt purpose of seizing control of Iraq's huge oil reserves by Bush's cronies and financial backers in the US-based multinational oil corporations.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 19, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Politics without rhetoric would be Boolean algebra. Inflammatory tirades are our Manifesto Destiny

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on October 19, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal wrote: "If that's not a last resort, what is?"

Pretending to be an "ex-liberal" when you have never been a liberal in your life, and all you have to offer is slavish regurgitation of scripted right-wing extremist Republican talking points.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 19, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

The failure to find weapons of mass destruction is a side issue. The WMD fiasco was a global intelligence failure, but calling Saddam Hussein's bluff after 9/11 was the right thing to do.

Boy, there are so many things to say about this.

First, it was not a "global intelligence failure." The IAEA never believed Hussein had nuclear weapons. The State Department's intelligence office (INR) never thought so. For that matter, Hans Blix didn't think so. And then there was Scott Ritter, head of the inspections team for 7 years, who was screaming at the top of his lungs that Hussein didn't and couldn't have WMD of any sort. All of these people seem to have a LOT more credibility than, say, Richard Perle, but who did people choose to listen to? The Richard Perles, the Dick Cheneys, etc.

And now, in an attempt to rewrite history, Jonah claims the failure was "global." Give me a fucking break.

And then all of these arguments by assertion: "The WMD was a side issue." WHAT???? Did Jonah ever bother to read the Congressional Authorization passed 2002 that allowed Bush to attack in the first place? Almost all it talks about is WMD - no mention of democracy anywhere. Again, GMAFB.

And then this:

"calling Saddam Hussein's bluff after 9/11 was the right thing to do"

What bluff? Show me once instance in which Hussein claimed to possess WMD. Just one.

The mind reels.

Posted by: Chuck on October 19, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

I think the war in Iraq was a last resort. Iraq was not complying with its commitments made in settlement of the 1991 war, which it had started.

North Korea never complied with the commitments it made in settlement of the 1950 war, which it had started. What's your point?

Iraq had ignored 18 or 19 Security Council resultions.

How many resolutions has North Korea ignored? How about Israel?

It had thrown out the UN weapons inspectors four years earlier. (They were allowed back in only when war was imminent, and, even then, Saddam wasn't providing rhe requred cooperation.)

The UN inspectors themselves were satisfied with Saddam's cooperation just before the war. To this day, Hans Blix states this.

Saddam had attempted genocide against the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs.

Kim Jong Il continues to starve everyone in North Korea. Genocide continues in Darfur.

He was torturing and killing his own citizens.

George Bush just lobbied hard for Congress to pass a law so he could do the same thing.

He was cheating on the Oil for Food program -- bribing those who could help him.

Someone want to explain to me how you solve accounting and corruption problems by bombing? Seems like the simplest solution is to suspend the program and strengthen sanctions.

He had previously had a nuclear program that came close to developing nuclear weapons.

During the exact same time period, Kim Jong Il successfully completed his nuclear program, Iran gained major ground with theirs, and Brazil started a new one.

He had used poison gas on his own Kurdish citizens.

No one disuptes Saddam is a horrible man who deserves punsihment. The question is why was he targeted first when he was probably the weakest of America's enemies, why was no planning done for successful completion of the overthrow of Saddam, and why must we continue with unsuccessful policies that have been proven not to work and are rapidly being proven harmful to America's interests in the region.

All you have done is prove that attacking Saddam certainly was not a last resort- there were more dangerous targets, there were closer targets, the weapons inspectors discovered exactly what we know now back in 2003, there were targets that were more immediate threats, there were many people who predicted exactly this outcome in 2003. All were ignored because the administration had a colossal boner for Iraq.

Posted by: ex-conservative on October 19, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Camel Thongs Dont Cut the Mustard

Lookee here Mister Chief Native, Ill trade you guns and firewater for the land you call Gusher Canyon. You know which area I mean, where we put up those oil derricks years ago.

Sorry, today is a Sacred Day, all praise to Mother Bear.

Look, screw a bunch of Sacred Days, well throw in fifty aisles worth of jeans. Your daughters will love em, especially the low hippers sos their little belly buttons can get some air.

Not possible, today is sacred day, bless brother antelope.

All right, for Christ sake, final deal, guns, firewater, three Wal Marts of enticing jeans, a gross of Estee Bauder nipple and labia piercing Pierce-o-matic Pro Guns, ten tattoo parlors fully equipped, an eras long subscription to Rap music from both the Dysfunction Is Me and Misogyny Rocks labels and deer, fawn, bison and even camel thongs in every color under the sun. Now do we have a deal?

Today is Sacred. All praise our ancestors.

Praise your arse. Ill be back tomorrow. Were not going away, you know that.

Tomorrow is a sacred day.

Up your sacred days.

Everyday is a sacred day, kneel and bow to the East.

Bullshit on your every day is a sacred day horse pucky. You can stick Mother Bear you know where. Theres something you guys want and Im gonna find out what.

Everyday is a sacred day. However.....

Yes, yes sacred, totally sacred, but however what? What is it youre considering?

Well, remember that line of fissionable material you showed me.... maybe just one more little peek.

Tex, help. Jeans and camel thongs ain't cutting the mustard.

Posted by: cognitorex on October 19, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

I thought the Ackerman/Gitlin piece was more a response to the Gringo version of the Euseless Manifesto.

Posted by: Tom Hilton on October 19, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-liberal asks:

If that's not a last resort, what is?

When a country actually poses a real and present danger to your country, that's when.

I mean, give me a break (there's nothing like when people like you feign ignorance). There are, at last count, something like 60 dictators the world over. Are we going to attack them too?

And the Kurds who you imply you're so concerned about had their own de facto state by 2002, protected by a no-fly zone, no less, so there was no one to "rescue" there. The genocide of which you speak occurred in the late 80's (when Hussin wielded control over the whole state), so your argument is disingenuous at best, and outright bullshit at worst.

And I'm sure when the Kurds actually were being gassed back then, that you were forcefully and publically advocating attacking Iraq, right?

I mean, you Bush apologists are SO full of shit that it's coming out of your ears by now.

Posted by: Chuck on October 19, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

I think what is really happening is that (in addition to the Ramadon push) the media know that the negetive social perception cycle on the war has run it's course and the pendulum is about to swing the other way, they're hoping to stop it so they don't look wrong.

Posted by: aaron on October 19, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps I sound like a broken record, but any "manifesto" needs to be tied to the debacle at hand. It need to reenforce these truths.

1. We were scared, misled, deceived and lied into this war.

2. The war was completely unnecessary.

3. It could not have been a success no matter how many troops we sent.

4. There is now way out that will preserve Iraq as an national entity and prevent a huge blood bath.

5. Iraq will benefit greatly from our gigantic mistake.

6. The George W. Bush Administration is almost totally responsible for this disaster.

These truths have to be hammered into the thick skulls of the public, if for no other reason than to prevent an even greater disaster in the future.

Posted by: David Triche on October 19, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Our government was created to protect us from people like Republicans.

Posted by: cld on October 19, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Chuck says the "last resort" is when a country poses a real and present danger to your country. That's not the definition used by those who wrote the Manifesto. They endorsed the use of force in in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. The latter two were no threat at all to the US nor our allies.

In my opinion, the Manifesto supports military action in Bosnia and Kosovo, because:

-- those were done by a Democrat
-- things aren't going well in Iraq

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 19, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal wrote: "In my opinion ..."

Your opinion is the opinion of a blatant phony and a transparent fraud, a Rush Limbaugh-worshipping, Bush-bootlicking regurgitator of scripted Republican propaganda who lies with every single comment which he signs with the phony-baloney name "ex-liberal", and is thus nothing but garbage.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 19, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Chuck says the "last resort" is when a country poses a real and present danger to your country. That's not the definition used by those who wrote the Manifesto. They endorsed the use of force in in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. The latter two were no threat at all to the US nor our allies.

I think you mean the former two, Afghanistan supported an attack on the US Mainland.

In Bosnia and Kosovo, the concern was that either the ethnic war would spill over into neighboring countries- like Greece, which is a US ally. US policy for five decades had been for a stable Europe without wars.

The other concern was if Serbia decided to become expansionistic. A realistic possibility at the time.

Sometimes the present danger does not need to affect the US directly. If North Korea attacks Japan, the US is not directly involved. However, our commitment is to defend Japan. This is fair.

In my opinion, the Manifesto supports military action in Bosnia and Kosovo, because:

--those were done by a Democrat

No, it's consistent for the Manifesto to support intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo for the reasons enumerated above. You are thinking of the OPPOSITION to the commitment, led by the Republicans in the 1990's, which certainly was predicated on it being started by a Democrat. What was puzzling about the opposition was that the intervention was successful, did not cost much, and did not have US loss of life. It did buy us a lot of goodwill on the international stage, including with people in Muslim countries since the US intervened to save Muslims. Clinton had something to point to in negotiations with Palestinians and Pakistan to prove he was not anti-Muslim, just anti-their particular policy.

-- things aren't going well in Iraq

It is remarkable that being against losing wars is now considered a Democratic or Left value. OK, we'll take that one. This is what I find most puzzling about the Jonah Goldbergs of the world: they think the point is to stay in it, not win it.

Posted by: Alderaan on October 19, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

I don't get the excessive sensitivity from Gitlin and Ackerman about Judt's LRB essay.

Yes, Judt begins is piece by asking this question: "Why have American liberals acquiesced in President Bushs catastrophic foreign policy?" However, the absence of an adjective does not necessarily mean all liberal intellectuals, and Judt makes this clear in his piece.

Judt is focussing his ire on the liberal war-hawks, who were given such prominence in the establishment media prior to the war and to this day. He names them: Michael Ignatieff, Leon Wieseltier, David Remnick, Paul Berman, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Michael Walzer, Peter Beinert and Thomas Friedman among others.

For myself, I applaud Tony Judt's essay and his continued courage in writing uncomfortable truths. I was and remain appalled (and angry) about the support lent to this grossly imprudent, illegal and immoral war by so many putative liberals. It's hard to forgive or value the opinions of any of them (even if I do have a soft spot for David Remnick for what he has done as an editor to revive The New Yorker).

Posted by: Ben Brackley on October 19, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

If reports that John Kerry has 26 Million available are valid, that money should be released immediately to fight the Republican Black-Box subversion of our US Constitutional right to Free, Fair, and Open Elections in 2006. Republicans have stolen the past two US presidential elections to the serious detriment of our country and our world. Democrats must now win a decisive vistory by taking back both the House and the Senate if our beloved country is to regain its Honor and Integrity at home and in the community of nations. Any monies John Kerry has should be released to aid in this critical fight against systemic illegal and immoral GOP voter intimidation and the wholesale Republican subversion, fraud and theft of our American elections.

Posted by: HAND COUNTED PAPER BALLOTS on October 19, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Alderaan wrote: In Bosnia and Kosovo, the concern was that either the ethnic war would spill over into neighboring countries- like Greece, which is a US ally. US policy for five decades had been for a stable Europe without wars.

The other concern was if Serbia decided to become expansionistic. A realistic possibility at the time.

I agree that these reasons, along with humanitarian concerns, justified Clinton's decision to use military force. However, these reasons do not satisfy the Manifestos's claim that war should only be a "last resort." The writers of the Manifest applied different standards to these actions than to Iraq.

Posted by: ex-lib on October 19, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

5. Iraq will benefit greatly from our gigantic mistake.

I assume you mean Iran, correct?

Posted by: Peter H on October 19, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Why - in a long manifesto about liberalism - is a specific condemnation of Israel's actions in Lebanon in the second paragraph? I would think that good liberals could easily disagree about that issue - it was in response to direct terror attacks, even if it was a strategic mistake. Why make it so prominent?

Posted by: Judah on October 19, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Judah asks: Why - in a long manifesto about liberalism - is a specific condemnation of Israel's actions in Lebanon in the second paragraph?

Answer: Because modern liberalism has made common cause against Israel with the Arab dictatorships. This is even truer for European liberals than for American liberals.

It's disgusting that liberals have turned their back on the one middle eastern state that agrees with them on so many issues: they're a democracy, give equal rights for Arab citizens and Jewish citizens, accept gays, no death penalty, have a rule of law, supreme court strongly supports civil liberties, equal rights for women, etc. The surrounding Arab states have diametrically non-liberal values on these issues. Yet, the liberals support the Arab states, rather than Israel for reasons I do not understand. Little wonder I am an ex-llib.

Posted by: ex-lib on October 19, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Judah that it was probably unwise to put condemnation of Israel's actions in Lebanon in the second paragraph of the manifesto (And I am somebody who believes Israel's action was strategically and morally disastrous). Certainly, there are plenty of liberals on both sides of the Israeli-Arab conflict. On the other hand, I do think Israel is an important issue that's often been avoided by liberals, and I am glad Gitlin and Ackerman's manifesto addressed it.

Posted by: Peter H on October 19, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

This war fueled, and continues to fuel, jihadis whose commitment to horrific, unjustifiable violence was amply demonstrated by the September 11 attacks as well as the massacres in Spain, Indonesia, Tunisia, Great Britain, and elsewhere. Rather than making us safer, the Iraq war has endangered the common security of Americans and our allies.

Any war on any front against the Islamists would have had this result. Anyone who thinks 150,000 troops in Afghanistan would not have done the same thing is ignoring the obvious.

We had no troops in either Iraq or Afghanistan on September 11, 2001. The bombing in Bali took place before the invasion of Iraq.

We believe that the state of Israel has the fundamental right to exist, free of military assault, within secure borders close to those of 1967, and that the U.S. government has a special responsibility toward achieving a lasting Middle East peace. But the Bush administration has defaulted. It has failed to pursue a steady and constructive course. It has discouraged the prospects for an honorable Israeli-Palestinian settlement. It has encouraged Israel's disproportionate attacks in Lebanon after the Hezbollah incursions, resulting in vast destruction of civilian life and property.

Diplomacy on this front has been in process for close to half a century, through many presidents. At some point, somebody has to realize that there is no middle ground for someone who demands another nation's extinction. Anyone who thinks Israel giving up more territory is going to change this hasn't been paying attention recently.

I could go through the rest, but if you boil it down, the essence of the essay seems to be "Liberalism = Bush sucks."


Posted by: clockwatcher on October 19, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib wrote: "Because modern liberalism has made common cause against Israel with the Arab dictatorships. This is even truer for European liberals than for American liberals."

That's a lie.

ex-lib wrote: "I am an ex-llib [sic]."

That is another lie. You have never been a liberal. You are now and have always been a lying sack of shit. You pretend to be a former liberal because you have been told to do so by Republican propagandists, with the idea that it will somehow make your robotic regurgitation of scriped right-wing talking points more credible. It doesn't. It just trumpets your dishonesty.

The main thing that I have learned from reading the comments on this site for (too) many months is that Bush supporters are stupid, ignorant liars. Every single one of them.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 19, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib-"they're a democracy, give equal rights for Arab citizens and Jewish citizens". Equal rights?I'm sure having their homes bulldozed while they are in it really makes them appreciate living in freedom.Isreal is a theocracy not a democracy.It takes more than voting for a democracy.

Posted by: vbrans on October 19, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK
The WMD fiasco was a global intelligence failure

No, it wasn't. Most of the globe realized that, while Saddam had failed to meet is obligation to demonstrate disarmament, the indications that he might retain banned weapons or weapon programs were not so strong as to constitute a serious, immediate threat that justified a military response.

The rush to war, and the deliberate use of discredited and distorted "intelligence" to sell that war was a failure of morals and judgment localized to a select few world capitals, not a global failure of intelligence.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 19, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

vbrans, Arab citizens of Israel have equal rights. They vote. They own property. They go to school. They get the same medical care. They serve in the legislature.

Arab enemies who are citizens of other countries and who attack Israel are attacked in response. Israel is relatively kind when their response to mass murder is merely destroying property, rather than committing retaliatory murders. It would be a wonderful improvement if all the Arab states followed that practice.

Posted by: ex-lib on October 19, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK
It's disgusting that liberals have turned their back on the one middle eastern state that agrees with them on so many issues: they're a democracy, give equal rights for Arab citizens and Jewish citizens

Yes, both non-Jewish and Jewish citizens are given equal rights to political participation, to form political parties, and to serve in the Knesset: so long as they do not challenge the Jewish character of the state—doing that, of course, is grounds for banning a political party, expelling members from the Knesset, etc., under the law.

I suppose you would have no problem if the US decided to prohibit challenging the Christian character of the United of the States, to provide in law that parties could be excluded from the electoral process if they challenged that character, and that individual members of Congress could be expelled for that offense. But I think most people would recognize that such a law, even if applied equally to Christians and non-Christians, made Christians and non-Christians distinctly unequal citizens of the United States.

Likewise, Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of the Jewish State are not equal.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 19, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

What is society for, if not health care? 'First, do no harm' may be the best guiding principle of governance.

Posted by: cld on October 19, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib,Looking at the lopsided death toll, and the means with wich it is achieved, I would say it was the Isreali GOVERNMENT not the Arab PEOPLE who are being mass murdered.Numbers don't have opinions.

Posted by: vbrans on October 19, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

It's useless arguing sensibly with "ex-liberal". He is a fake, a phony, and a liar, who poses as a former "liberal" in a ludicrous attempt to give credibility to his robotic regurgitation of scripted Republican propaganda. He's just another one of the stupid, ignorant, dishonest Bush-bootlickers who infest these comment pages with their idiocy.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 19, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Oops switch that.

Posted by: vbrans on October 19, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Ben Brackley: I don't get the excessive sensitivity from Gitlin and Ackerman about Judt's LRB essay.

To understand that, you need to have read Todd Gitlin over a long period. He is constitutionally incapable of writing anything that doesn't condemn someone further to his left.

In this case, where he's going further on Israel than is usually considered safe or wise for a good liberal, Tony Judt is the convenient beyond-the-pale pariah of the moment. For his unapologetic stance, Judt has had a number of speaking engagements in this country canceled in the last few months. (But lo, how that creates space for the Gitlins of this world. Can it be that the frozen-for-decades reflexive Democratic support for whatever the Israeli government wants to do is finally beginning to melt?)

Gitlin makes a big deal of having opposed the war on Iraq. But I'd be surprised if someone can prove to me that he wrote more words opposing the war in 2002-3 than he did condemning the irresponsibility of ANSWER and Christopher Hitchens.

Posted by: Nell on October 19, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal thinks he's found a wedge issue.

I'm not going to bite.

Posted by: cld on October 19, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, cmdicely, Israel is a Jewish state. Muslims are not members of the state religion, nor are Christians, Buddhists, etc. Muslims have the same problem in the European countries that also have a state religion.

But, Jews in Islamic countries aren't just a minority; they've been killed or driven out. When Israel was formed, over a million Jews lived in vartious Arab countries. They're gone. They weren't permitted to live there.

People make a fuss about Arab refugees. There were roughly as many Jewish refugees from Arab countries. They simply moved and started a new life, instead of claiming permanent victim status and committing ongoing mass nurders.

Those liberals who support the Arabs over Israel are not following traditional liberal principles. That's one reason I'm an "ex".

vbrans, your argument would say that Imperial Japan was morally right and the US wrong, since more Japanese lost their lives in WW2. In reality, of course, the war began when they attacked us.

Israel would live in peace if their Arab neighbors just stopped attacking them. Israel was providing jobs for their Arab neighbors, but that program was forced to end because some of the guest workers committed horrendous acts of terrorism. Hatred of Israel is taught to Arab children in many parts of the Middle East. That's why there's no peace.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 19, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

cld,
your right, sorry for feeding the troll.

Posted by: vbrans on October 19, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

This is about Liberalism: What is it?

Posted by: cld on October 19, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Being a liberal is being able to see that using F-16's, and armored bulldozers against stones,and bathtub explosives is not a fair fight.

Posted by: vbrans on October 19, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK
Judah asks: Why - in a long manifesto about liberalism - is a specific condemnation of Israel's actions in Lebanon in the second paragraph?

Answer [by ex-lib]: Because modern liberalism has made common cause against Israel with the Arab dictatorships.

It was a misleading question -- that second paragraph is actually a liberal declaration of support for Israel, with qualified reservations only for Israel's "disproportionate attacks in Lebanon".

No doubt ex-lib would prefer neocon-type blind support for Israel, unqualified and unexamined and free of any criticism. Even the Israelis themselves don't do that, ex-lib, as you well know.

Posted by: JS on October 19, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK
Yes, cmdicely, Israel is a Jewish state. Muslims are not members of the state religion, nor are Christians, Buddhists, etc. Muslims have the same problem in the European countries that also have a state religion.

No, sorry, they don't face the same problem. That I know of, no Western European democratic state, with or without an established church, provides either a legal disqualification for office for individuals or a disqualification from the electoral process for parties that question the religious (or ethnic) character of the state. Israel has both. Israel is not a modern pluralistic democracy that has a vestigial established Church that is a traditional relic of a pre-democratic past sitting alongside a symbolic monarchy, it is a state whose central organizing purpose is the advancement of a particular ethno-religious group, and which has in recent years advanced laws excluding those questioning that character from the political process.

There are vastly less practically significant restrictions of only remotely similar character in some European states (a Catholic may not succeed to the British monarchy, for instance [though, that not having been a problem in the past, no such legal prohibition would face a hypothetical heir that had converted to Islam instead of becoming a follower of the Church of Rome]), but nothing similar to the legal provisions in Israel which make it illegal, and punishable by political exclusion, for either individual officeholders or political parties to question the Jewish character of the state: prohibitions which, it might be noted, are not, in Israel's case, relics of the nation's formation or distant past, but new provisions written in the law in the past decade specifically to make sure that the interests of non-Jewish citizens, growing in number, were not now or ever given equal weight in the Jewish State, even if it were to lose its Jewish majority (or, more likely in the near future, to have a majority consisting of a combination of non-Jews and Jews for whom Jewish identity was not the central feature of political life.)

Posted by: cmdicely on October 19, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a liberal because I'm against religious dementia, social conservatism and authoritarian personality disorder.

The people I've known who exhibit one or (usually) all of those things always support things that will bring harm to society, to cripple a general advance of well-being and to make the most people worse off.

In the present day this is especially grotesque as our science and technology have advanced to a point where an exceptional level of well-being could be achieved for nearly everyone, if not for Republicans. That we're better off now in general than people were three hundred years ago is a pointless argument when it's clear we could be twice as well off as we are now with little effort beyond causing corporations, inhuman and parasitic artificial intelligences, to pay a proper respect (in money, the only terms they can know) to the society their unfettered interest would obliterate.

(Though an artificial intelligence a corporation is not actually smart, it can have only one interest, it's own advancement, and will promote the character and behaviours in people that support it, which is why modern corporations have isolated and focused authoritarian personality disorder the way the gay community isolated AIDS).

I'm a liberal for a lot of other reasons, too. These are the first few that pop right to mind right now.

Posted by: cld on October 19, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

My my. Talk about a couple of girlie men, these two fem guy author's are the perfect example. The kind that a real man would slap across the face and watch them run home screaming and crying to mamma.
They better hope never to run into me, for i'd smack them both so hard, their teeth would be jarred loose.
Plus, i don't get this secular animist person. You should go ahead and plant yourself 6 feet under (no coffin or any other frivoloties) so you can do your part to re-sustain the earth, and stop jawing on and on about what others should do.

Posted by: JJ on October 19, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Nell,

I agree with some of what you say about Gitlin, but, to be fair, he did defendJudt when the ADL pressured the Polish Consulate to cancel his talk. I don't think Gitlin has done anything to cast Tony Judy as a pariah. While I wouldn't have centered the mainfesto around Judt's LRB essay, I think Gitlin and Ackerman have a point that Judt was unfair in selecting a few hawkish liberal commentators (e.g. Leon Wieseltier, Thomas Friedman. Michael Ignatieff) and claiming they were widely representative of American Liberals.

Posted by: Peter H on October 19, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

I wanted to also ask if anyone here has seen wesley snipes? I understand the taxman is looking for him, so you'd be doing your government a service by letting them know.

Posted by: JJ on October 19, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: mmf铃声 on October 19, 2006 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

Monday Night Massacre,

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/001845.php

Posted by: cld on October 19, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

J S wrote: No doubt ex-lib would prefer neocon-type blind support for Israel, unqualified and unexamined and free of any criticism

Actually, JS I have no problem with criticisms of Israel. What I don't like is the blind unqualified and unexamined support for every other country, particularly Israel's neighbors. E.g., there are academics who seek to punish Israel because of its flaws, but do not seek to punish the dozens of other countries whos flaws are as great or greater.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 19, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-lib:

WE invaded Iraq, and no matter how you try to slice it, the invasion was unjustified and has not gone well. Yes, Saddam is a horrible man, but so are many others, as has been pointed out to you more than once. I've yet to see you acknowledge the fact that there are many nasty dictators and that we can't take care of all of them. Shoot, we can't even take care of Iraq.

I am just an ordinary citizen who gets real tired of the meme that we ALL believed that Saddam had WMDs. I knew that the Bush cabal was not telling the whole truth. Partly this is because I'm not an authoritarian personality, and have no trouble being skeptical of authority no matter how exalted the station of the "authority".

I KNEW there was something fishy because the Bush people were saying on the one hand that it would be a cakewalk, while on the other hand nattering about a mushroom-shaped cloud. Also Scott Ritter and others who were in a position to know, were saying that the weapons had been destroyed and that new ones weren't being found. And with the sanctions and satellite spy monitoring, there was no way that Saddam could realistically begin to reconstitute his weaponry without being detected.

I also know that there is a lot of anti-Western sentiment in the Arab countries, Iran, etc., and that this was true before we invaded. I knew that invasion would unleash these sentiments. When I heard that some of the Bushies were saying that we would be greeted as liberators and heros, I wondered what they were smoking.

I wrote a letter to all 7 of Arizona's congressmen in Sept. of 2002, begging them not to vote for a war, and stating all of the above, that it was highly unlikely that Saddam had significant amounts of WMDs, that this would inflame the Arab world, that it would tarnish our reputation to make "preemptive" war. I WAS RIGHT and so were many others.

I cannot believe that we are still even arguing this. It's POINTLESS to continue arguing about why we went into Iraq. All of the reasons given have been proven false and people who continue to defend these reasons discredit themselves.

Instead, we should be discussing what are the best options among NO GOOD options for disengaging, and start to learn some lessons from this clusterfuck. And people who advocate making war on Iran should be given NO credibility and should be marginalized. If we invade Iran, the consequences will be as in Iraq but far worse. Iran is not an existential threat to us, just as Iraq wasn't.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on October 19, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

cld:

"I'm a liberal because I'm against religious dementia, social conservatism and authoritarian personality disorder.

The people I've known who exhibit one or (usually) all of those things always support things that will bring harm to society, to cripple a general advance of well-being and to make the most people worse off."

I agree with all of this, as well as the rest of your post, but can we think of ways to cast this in a more positive light? I think that there is some validity to the criticism that we liberals spend more time criticizing than in suggesting more positive solutions.

How about, I'm a liberal because I favor the freedom to practice religion, or not to practice it, for all people.

I'm a liberal who supports scientific research which will benefit people, such as stem cell research, the Human Genome Project, etc.

I support freedom of information and free sharing of information, with that being the default, with withholding information only when absolutely necessary. The more people who are informed, the more perspectives can be brought to apply to solutions to any given problem.

I realize that we all live on Spaceship Earth and that we need to address global climate change and other environmental issues. A Manhattan Project for renewables would get us off our dependence on Middle East oil, which vastly distorts our approaches to those people, and would restore a sense of shared purpose to this country, as well as providing new jobs.

I support teaching the best science we have in schools, including the theory of evolution, but also support discussing other theories of origin in the proper setting of philosophical and religious classes, and even possibly history and poly sci classes.

I support equality of opportunity for all, while recognizing that people have different talents and native abilities which will lead to different outcomes.

I support programs to feed the hungry which would also include job training so that the hungry can feed themselves.

I believe that all jobs which are needed are worth being paid a living wage.

I support universal health care as it has been shown to be less costly and to produce better health outcomes.

I believe that war is inherently wrong, as innocent people die and/or are maimed, as well as soldiers. War may sometimes be the only solution, but only after all others have been exhausted.

I would like to see abortion made "safe, legal, and rare", which means reliable and easily available birth control, comprehensive and accurate sex education which includes preaching abstinence as best for young people but realizing that abstinence doesn't always happen.


Posted by: Wolfdaughter on October 19, 2006 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

there are academics who seek to punish Israel because of its flaws, but do not seek to punish the dozens of other countries whos flaws are as great or greater.

What kind of punishment are these academics seeking for Israel? Rolling back the illegal settlements? Making financial and military support conditional on implementation of a peace roadmap?

And which are the countries with worse flaws that these academics do not want to see similarly "punished"?

Posted by: JS on October 19, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Here you see why Kerry had to lose and Bush had to win. Bushisms philosophy of toughnessif something displeases you, shoot ithad to be stood up naked, with no excuses about anyone losing Iraq as in Vietnam, and be proved woefully wrong. I have been right about the whole shooting match from the very beginning, now I risk my record by going out on a limb with a prediction.

Bushism is the last gasp of a world view that has been plaguing humankind for millennia, which goes: If he hits you, you hit back harder. If he looks at you cross-eyed, you hit him first. Oh hell, any excuse will do. Just hit him!

It is time, folks. With President Obama we can start a new chapter of bringing the world together in a spirit of love, nonviolence, compassion and respect. If we think we can, we can.

Posted by: James of DC on October 20, 2006 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

The main thing that I have learned from reading the comments on this site for (too) many months is that Bush supporters are stupid, ignorant liars. Every single one of them.
Posted by: SecularAnimist

Hey, they aren't call the 'base' for nothing.

base, adj. low, debased, vile, despicable.

SA rocks.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President -- or that we are to stand by the President right or wrong -- is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
- Teddy Roosevelt

Posted by: CFShep on October 20, 2006 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Wolfdaughter,

And I agree with everything you've said there, yet I think creating and advertising a positive agenda simply will never work.

I don't know how we can feel positive about complete evil, and we have to find a conversation that appeals to the comfort zone of conservative voters, and, to be honest, I think the best approach is outright aggression.

I caught about five minutes of Barak Obama on Larry King last night and, though it was out of context and only a short bit, he seemed like just another make-nice Democrat. He'll go nowhere with conservatives.

We need to find someone who will dedicate themselves to destroying the Republican party in every place they exist and every for every reason they exist and to make it impossible for a thing like this ever to organize itself again.

We need outright, unconditional aggression, and this is the one thing we can do that will appeal to conservative voters because they will never understand why we're not doing this already, since the Republicans themselves are about nothing else.

Posted by: cld on October 20, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I want to thank ex-liberal for educating me.
I assumed support for a Palestinina state, which is currently the position of the Bush administration, was so the Palestinians who were displaced by the creation of Israel and their descendants currently living in territory Israel controls, would have their own country. I did not realize that European leftists and the US government had tricked me into supporting a state for Arabs. It boogles the mind that the US supports taking territory controled by our ally Israel and letting Syrians, Yemenis, and Saudis relocate there and create a country called Palestine. In addition, those Palestinians should go back to whatever country they came from.

Posted by: ex-lib fan on October 21, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

Without appologies, I am posting this link to an open letter from Kevin Tillman on every thread.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 21, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK


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