June 05, 2004

Liberal media?

Truly unhinged:

Republicans don't believe in the imagination, partly because so few of them have one, but mostly because it gets in the way of their chosen work, which is to destroy the human race and the planet. Human beings, who have imaginations, can see a recipe for disaster in the making; Republicans, whose goal in life is to profit from disaster and who don't give a hoot about human beings, either can't or won't. Which is why I personally think they should be exterminated before they cause any more harm.
Luckily, it's just a theatre review, so we're not expected to take him seriously. Via InstaPundit.

Posted by richard at June 5, 2004 02:08 PM

Come on. If the Instapundit is reduced to mucking around in the Village Voice's theatre reviews to sustain his blanket generalizations about The Media and The Left, then maybe he does need to take a vacation.

It's time someone measured this character by his choice of material and the quality of his commentary — instead of the number of links he generates on the Internet.

This stuff is becoming to the blog medium what the "Fwd fwd FWD fw: Why I Love America" tripe is to email. Surprise surprise, a Voice columnist is off his rocker. Go get 'im, Glenn . . .

Posted by: Brad A. at June 5, 2004 06:11 PM

And why would another blogger choose to link to this particular piece of Instapundit's drivel?

Posted by: Mike F. at June 5, 2004 07:16 PM

I shouldn't have used that title, as I was not really trying to make a larger point about the media.

I just thought that Michael Feingold is completely off his rocker if he thinks that's an appropriate thing to say... in any paper.

Come on.... "they should be exterminated"? Can you stop for a moment and agree that the comment in the Voice is, far and away, worse than the drivel on InstaPundit? Or are you too focussed on "getting" Glenn? Can't you disassociate yourself from the sentiment, or do you believe it too?

Posted by: richard at June 5, 2004 07:34 PM

Hm. I guess I didn't think it was incumbent on me to dissociate myself from anything. Is that the point here? The InstaPundit declares that "the left is unhinged," and then all its members are put on the spot to opt out of that category? Not me, Mr. Reynolds. I never said I wanted anybody exterminated.

I guess my question is, who is out "to get" whom? As you said, no one is going to take Feingold seriously for saying something like that — not any more than the two of you took me seriously when I wrote up the "To Hell or Boise" blurb on email (about which I was very pleased, by the way, notwithstanding that it passed unacknowledged).

The difference, in my mind, is this: people do take the InstaPundit seriously, notwithstanding that he's peddling, as you say, drivel. If he wants to spend his afternoons picking apart The Village Voice, then God bless him.

I understand the game here: you link to him, he takes note of you, and if he likes what you say, maybe he fires a link back to you. Then — bam! — you have street cred. But let's get together and do better. Maybe we won't have a herd of InstaSheep to swallow everything we say, then bleat incoherently in the Comments, but I'd rather be good than popular.

And it doesn't humanize the guy to call him "Glenn." When he's on-line, he's a press institution just like everyone else he attacks. So I say he's fair game for criticism.

Ah! I really missed this over the past month . . .

Posted by: Brad A. at June 5, 2004 09:38 PM

Well, fine. But I still don't think you really understand why I posted it. To me, it didn't matter that it was on Instapundit – I could care less. I was interested in the content of the article, which I thought was pretty absurd. It echoes a lot of the thoughtless vituperation that I hear day in and day out.

I'm not that interested in getting linked from InstaPundit – it happened once and I found it a bit wanting. While I actually thought the comments were smart enough not to be called sheep, they were fairly narrow (except, of course, for yours Brad). I linked to Instapundit, because thems the rules of the game – if you want to comment on something, but the only reason you saw it in the first place is because you saw it on someone else's blog, you give them credit.

So, again, stop focusing on the fact that it came from Instapundit – who cares. I sure as hell don't.

I still don't understand why it's hard to say "Yeah, that's pretty fucking stupid, that Voice guy is an idiot". Unless you don't think so.

Posted by: richard at June 6, 2004 12:25 AM

OK, I'll say it. THe Village Voice guy went a little overboard, but SO WHAT!?! The web and all other forms of media are filled to the brim with stuff like that. Why do you feel the need to report it? If I had a blog I wouldn't go to Rushlimbaugh.com and quote;

"The obstacle for them [the left] is that they don't consider America different. They don't consider it special. They don't consider America a beacon -- and they don't consider America worth defending."

This is truly outrageous. To blanket the entire left as beleiving that America is not worth defending. See, this if proof if conservative media bias . . .

Actually, no it's not. Some Village Voice guy goes on a rant. So what! Rush spouts out nonsense about liberals. So what! We could comb the web for extreme nonsense written by the left and right, but to what end. It proves nothing.

The Voice guy is over the top, but he obviously doesn't REALLY mean it. I don't think he truly believes Republican should be exterminated. So who cares?

You go radio silent for a month and then post this? Come on.

Oh, I know you also posted a comrehensive air-tight case that Al Qaeda and Iraq were in cahoots all along and I should respond to that, but I just wasn't overwhelmed by the evidence. This guy met with that guy and this guy is in the country and now that we've invaded there are lots of al Qaeda terrorits there. Maybe they was some cooperation between Saddam and Al Qaeda, maybe not. I really don't know for sure, but your mountain of evidence was hardly overwhelming and I'm not sure it's worthy of a response of its own. Maybe later.

Posted by: Mike F. at June 6, 2004 11:29 AM

Mike, well sometimes I have to throw out some fun things too, or I'll start to dread doing it. It takes time to write the articles about Iraqi terrorist ties. Pointing out a ridiculous article (or working on the icon for that matter) is worth a few chuckles and is sure to get your goat as well. See how much fun it generated.... You guys eat it up.

As for airtight, of course it's not airtight. If it were we'd all have heard about it. But there is some strong evidence (I believe) and I thought it would be useful to gather it together. Welcome to the world of intelligence – nothing is as clear cut as you'd like it to be.

Saddam had chemical weapons, hated the US, showed himself willing to support terrorists, and there was evidence that he had an understanding and contacts with al-Qaeda. Should the threshold for action be a photograph showing Saddam Hussein handing a canister of Sarin gas to Osama bin Laden? I don't think so.

Posted by: richard at June 6, 2004 01:00 PM

Rich, my problem is that I just don't see an objective threshold for action being applied here. Thank you for doing the legwork of putting together all that evidence. It is useful to have it all in one place, so thank you.

I was for the war. On the fence, but came out for it in the end. Even though we had a ton of work left unfinished (and still do) in Afghanistan, I thought, my god, 12 years of snctions have done nothing but impoverish the Iraqi people, this guy clearly had WMD, kicked out the inspectors, can't show that eh destroyed what he was supposed to, he is a genuinely bad person who supports terrorists, etc.

But that alone would not have made me support the war, becasue I would have said, fine, that's all well and good, but we have to concentrate on stabalizing afghanistan and dealing with Al Qaeda. Iraq has waited 12 year, it can wait until we have taken care of more pressing issues and it can wait until we make a legitmate diplomatic effort to get the rest of the world behind us so we don't bear ll the costs in lives and money.

What tipped the scales for me was the argument that these guys were actively pursuing a WMD program and that we therefore would be better off taking care of it now rather than later. The "active WMD" part appears to be exxagerated by the administration, but also the result of poor intelligence and a blind willingness to believe our anti-saddam operatives.

It appears there was no "pressing" need to war when we did. This pisses me off to no end because I feel duped by own government. You can put forth all the evidence you want that saddam was bad and hung out with abd people, but if he wasn't an imminent threat, there was no good reason for imminent action.

No we're in trouble because Afghanistan is not getting the resources it needs and we've helped create a shitbox in Iraq.

It might all turn out to be for the good in the end, you're right, but boy did we make it much harder for ourselves than we needed to.

Posted by: Mike F. at June 6, 2004 01:29 PM

And I forgot to finish my original thought. If we were applying the same objective threshold to all coutnries, we would go in to Syria and Iran WAY before Iraq. Those countries are brutal dictatorships that openly and actively - WITHOUT DOUBT - support terrorists. They are a far greater threat than Iraq.

Posted by: Mike F. at June 6, 2004 01:31 PM

Two quick points, 'cause we're not going to change any minds in the comments to a post on Liberal Media.

First, I disagree that Iraq is a shitbox. I think it's going amazingly well. In fact, pretty unbelievably well given all that could have happened. Fallujah and Sadr happened at just the right time and were handled perfectly by the Army and Marines. The bad guys blew their wads, we killed 100s of them, and then got the Iraqis to step in and take responsibility for restoring peace. All without a civil war and probably contributing more to a burgeoning Iraqi nationalism at just the right time (before the June 30 handover).

Second, we couldn't go after Iran and Syria first. You think the anti-war and European outcry was bad for Iraq, which let us not forget had 17 resolutions that it was violating, imagine what it would have been if we had rolled into Iran. We picked a bad country that we were already effectively at war with and used it as the starting point. We now have the bad guys (Iran) surrounded. It also let us get our troops out of Saudi Arabia and a dozen other good things that I could list.

Posted by: richard at June 6, 2004 03:21 PM

All of that makes sense, Rich, but now you're talking strategy, not justification. That is, I'm increasingly of the view that the Administration had all kinds of reasons to attack Iraq (i.e., why we wanted to do it), but they were looking for an justification (i.e., why we had to do it) that the rest of the world would buy. Now it's fumbling around trying to find one. Nothing from that last bit you've provided is inconsistent with that view: you're supplying the reasons, but not the justification.

Maybe there need be no such justification, under the "Just War" theory, if the good accomplished by this war outworks the bad. But the extent to which the folks that promoted this war have cast about far and wide for their justification and changed it several times makes you think that they care in some limited way about excusing their actions in the short-term.

Bush and Blair clearly don't think it's good enough to say "We've wanted to do this for a long time. We're going to get our hands dirty in the Middle East. We're going to start a reverse domino effect that promotes the spread of democracy and liberalism over there. Iraq is the logical first choice." We know that's what they're after, but they recognize that there is something sketchy about using that argument to justify bombing the crap out of a country. They understand that "wait 'til you taste our omelet" is an insufficient excuse for breaking eggs in this way. But they don't have anything else.

People want a justification — they want a damned good one that puts America on the side of what is right and good in the world. They don't want to hear the reasons, which are, implicitly, that America knows what is right and good, and we're going to serve it up to you with a side of gunpowder. Because those arguments have been heard and tried before in this region, and they were found to mask the real selfish interests of Western meddlers.

The reasons you describe might have been enough, from a utilitarian standpoint, to give the go-order to our bombers. They might have made the war "just" according to Just War theory. But to distinguish ourselves from the Imperial British and French in the hearts and minds of pan-Arabia, we need some different kind of justification. This seems important to the Bush Administration and Blair Government — but they never had it. They might have been better off telling the truth. I don't know.

Posted by: Brad A. at June 6, 2004 04:49 PM

But isn't part of the problem the desire for there to be a reason, and preferably one that justifies, as well, and sits well with the world.

To some extent haven't you returned, with your distinction between reason and justification, back to a core feature of representative (rather than direct) democracy. The way I look at it, the President, once elected, should do what's right according to his conception of the right, not what's popular (or justifiable). Now, that said, he has to live with the consequences come next election.

If the real reason is a good one but is one that is hard to justify, does that make the action wrong?

And, of course, it's complicated by the fact that there are many different reasons, each somewhat uncertain. Maybe none were enough alone, but together, at least in my view, they definitely were.

If there's a 50% chance of X happening (and X is horrible), it may not justify invading a country to prevent X. But if there's a 50% of Y happening and 50% of Z happening too, and invading the country would prevent X, Y, and Z, then it probably is justified.

Why? Because there's an 87.5% chance of either X, Y, or Z happening (assuming the events are independent and not correlated). That's a pretty hard argument to make, though, especially given a statistically illiterate population (here's where Finegold can help!). And it's particularly open to the "neither X, nor Y, nor Z was a good reason" argument.

Posted by: richard at June 6, 2004 05:33 PM

I still don't have a good answer here. Why did we go to war undeer the circumstances we did - Afghanistan still chaotic, the international community against us, scarce resources needed to fight al qaeda?

The answer Bush gave was the WMD threat to the United States. That was the case he made. I didn't buy everything he said, but I swallowed enought of it to say OK. That justification for war appears to have been overstated.

It is unclear how much of this was due to the administration's dishonesty and how much was due to its incompetence. But if you want to lead the world to war you better be damn sure you are right and you better be straight with us and the rest of the world.

The fact that the war may be better for Iraq in the end - and Rich, I believe it will ("shitbox" did not refer to my long-term prediction for Iraq, but the near-term chaos and antagonism we have created in the middle of the war against al qaeda) - doesn't explain to me why we went to war when we did.

Your argument about representative democracy is right, I believe. The President should do what he thinks is right - not what is popular. It would be more apt if Bush had said that we are going to proactively initiate change in the middle east through military action. It will be painful, but it needs to be done for the greater good of the world. He didn't say that. He said there is an imminent WMD threat - check out all this evidence - we need to go to war to protect ourselves.

Aside: And please don't say it doesn't matter what the UN thinks when justifying war against Iraq - and then say it matters that Iraq violated UN resolutions when justifying the war against Iraq. In my mind UN resolutions have nothing to do with legitimacy, either way.

Posted by: Mike F. at June 6, 2004 07:58 PM