Re: Obama's War

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Yep. This was the week when the USA decided to lose another war. You'd have thought that defeat in Iraq would have taught a few lessons.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 8:37 AM
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The horrible bit (a horrible bit? the thing that's currently freaking me out) is everyone recognizing that this is exactly the arguments that were made in Vietnam, and exactly the same domestic political pressure behind them. Even though we've seen it before, though, we still can't change it. It's like being paralyzed, or sleepwalking, or something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 8:41 AM
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This was the week when the USA decided to losewaste countless blood and treasure pretending it hasn't yet lost another war.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 8:42 AM
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Hell, you don't even have to go back to Vietnam. What kills me is that you can swap out "Afghanistan" for "Iraq" and "Obama" for "Bush" in most of these discussions and leave all the points intact.


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 8:44 AM
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2: No, it's totally different. Obama said so:

First, there are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. They argue that it cannot be stabilized, and we are better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing. Yet this argument depends upon a false reading of history. Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action.
Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now - and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance - would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.

Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 8:45 AM
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I heard the very wonderful ro\ry ste\war/t talking recently (and need to googleproof him because it was chatham house rules) and he said that more troops now would mean a quicker defeat, because they would increase the pressure to get out when it's seen that they didn't work. He disapproves of retreat, by the way, on the grounds that yet another civil war will be terrible for the afghans. Thinks we should stick around to do aid and conflict resolution, but in small numbers, and just the way we'd try to help any other failed state, not as the front line in the war on turr.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 8:48 AM
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Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency.

Oh, well, that's a relief.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 8:49 AM
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It's like being paralyzed, or sleepwalking, or something.

Exactly this. Like being in a dream and seeing the disaster unreel in front of you and being unable to do a single thing about it.

This is how I felt in March 2003, except without even the tiny flicker of hope I had that I might be wrong.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 8:52 AM
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I'm just going to steal Thomas Nephew's Facebook status:

So we can't afford to release photos documenting detainee abuse and torture, but we can afford sending yet another 30,000 more troops into a second Vietnam. We could have had real change in US security policy, but we won't.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 8:52 AM
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Thinks we should stick around to do aid and conflict resolution, but in small numbers, and just the way we'd try to help any other failed state, not as the front line in the war on turr.

This sounds like a good strategy. Seymore Hersh has also suggested that we buy off whatever talib warlords are willing to be bought. That makes sense to. If we are going to mimic the Iraq surge, we need to duplicate the one part that actually worked, the Anbar awakening

It seems like the only low-engagement strategies that were considered were ideas like Biden's return to the search-and-destroy strategy that we used in the early half of Vietnam, which strikes me as just as bad, or even worse, than the surge strategy.

A clusterfuck all around.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 8:56 AM
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No doubt this will make everyone here love me, but: The crazy arabs who have settled in Afghanistan by paying local tribes to host them are bad news. Afghanistan looks to me to be a poorly-integrated tribal federation, subject to a lot of destabilization from Pakistan's ISI. Both the crazy arabs and the ISI are real international problems, not to be neglected.

At some level the US and the Pushtuns who we're calling Taliban are negotiating already, which is good. I haven't done enough homework on which factions are which, but my main point is that Afghanistan is currnetly subject to two non-US external destabilizing influences, both well-funded. Leaving the opium-exporting afghan tribes to muddle through alone in that circumstance does not seem right, and neither does sending them schoolteachers and pumps for their wells.

I'm deferring judgement, personally.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:03 AM
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I have an orthogonal question. I'm not debating the awfulness of escalating this stupid war.

Strictly looking at it from the polls, what would maximize his popularity? I think it's pretty clear that this pandering more or less optimizes poll numbers.

I guess I'm just chasing this around in a circle to agree with the conclusion "Yes, we really are that stupid and then some."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:06 AM
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Maybe I should add that I'm not especially optimistic, given continued insanity at Bagram.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:08 AM
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Couple of FDL posts

Ackerman

Dayen

I did read some things I liked somewhere about cutting way down on the Predator strikes which indicate to me the someone has gotten serious about rethinking COIN. Maybe Eric Martin.

I am watching for the Black Swan that makes the screaming start, that turns the tragedy into horrorshow.

Stuff like Syracuse and Dalmatia and Vendee and Brest-Litovsk keep running around my brain. Nightmare from which I'll never wake, rats in the belfry.

Heard a beautiful/horrible song this week "Wilderness" by Peter Case Torn Again cd which uses the Civil War battle as a metaphor.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:08 AM
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Short term or long term? Short term, he'd certainly take a hit doing anything but what he's doing now. Long term? If he actually got out fast? I think the popularity problem from 'quitting' would pass among everyone but the loons, and the actual benefits from not killing more people and setting more trucks full of money on fire would kick in.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:08 AM
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it's pretty clear that this pandering more or less optimizes poll numbers

Clear how? He's losing the left quickly, and the right will never vote for him.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:09 AM
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10 years of war in Afghanistan, super. Soon to be followed by 10 years in Iraq. Ugh Jr. turned 9 months today, will we still be there (and Iraq) when he's of dratable age? I guess we'll see.


Posted by: Ugh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:10 AM
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16: I think he's saving the vast middle. I don't think he's losing that many among the people that voted him in last year, yet, over this issue in particular.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:12 AM
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If he actually got out fast? I think the popularity problem from 'quitting' would pass among everyone but the loons, and the actual benefits from not killing more people and setting more trucks full of money on fire would kick in.

I think there will be some arbitrary declaration of VICTORY now we can withdraw!, which will time excellently with the next election.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:13 AM
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I think he's saving the vast middle

Numbers or it isn't happening, plus the vast middle can go fuck themselves.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:15 AM
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I expect we'll be somewhere else. BTW, fafblog is totally on fire right now.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:15 AM
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21 to 17


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:15 AM
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Iran Bitches!


Posted by: Ugh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:19 AM
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So the optimistic take, I guess, would be that the administration hopes that by doing this know they'll gain leverage over the military brass that'll allow the administration to hold them to the plan of rapid withdrawals in 2011. It's a horrific kind of optimism for several reasons, I suppose: it presupposes war is being used as a fulcrum in what is basically glorified office politics, it means that our country is so broken that the commander-in-chief of the military has to commit to uncountable death and destruction just to get his allegedly subordinate commanders to do what he wants, and it is predicated on treating basically the exact same line the Bush administration used constantly (that escalations are a tool used to aid future de-escalation) as credible. Oh, and it also requires imagining that this gambit will work, and the military brass (which are always going to favor escalation, always going to think they can win this thing, etc.) will not be able to successfully leverage the political situation to keep troop levels up indefinitely.

So yeah, that's a hard one. But I'd say that is the optimistic position.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:20 AM
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I found this and the comments in particular interesting. My assumption is that we're not in Afghanistan to pacify or rebuild anything, that this is just a combination of public relations and what people like Obama tell themselves to get to sleep at night while conveniently assisting right-wing interests. I assume we're there for a mixture of regional hegemony/oil/justify-our-military purposes.

(Unpermitted march today, Loring Park, 5:30pm--look it up on Twin Cities Indymedia if you're local. May be a bit stroppy, will probably be totally useless, but I'll be there documenting! As with many Indymedia folks, my reflexive demo position is "Hope that if there's smashy-smashy I don't get arrested but am close enough to get some good shots".)

I mean, I don't think it's just naivety or misunderstanding; I think there's an actual world systems purpose to being there. I don't think we're sleepwalking. I think the informed public is being dragged, the decent people in the administration are being arm-twisted and everyone else is either sinister or lying to themselves.

I base this, however, on cursory internet reading and my understanding of American politics in my lifetime.

So why are we in Afghanistan?


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:20 AM
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19: If that would work in three years, it'd work now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:21 AM
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It's a horrific kind of optimism for several reasons, I suppose: it presupposes war is being used as a fulcrum in what is basically glorified office politics, it means that our country is so broken that the commander-in-chief of the military has to commit to uncountable death and destruction just to get his allegedly subordinate commanders to do what he wants, and it is predicated on treating basically the exact same line the Bush administration used constantly (that escalations are a tool used to aid future de-escalation) as credible.

Son, I've known optimism, optimism was a friend of mine, and that's not an optimistic position.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:22 AM
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On the other hand, I think the idea that Obama's going to start a war with Iran -- or even attack Iran -- or, actually, start another war anywhere -- is extremely far-fetched. So maybe I am an optimist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:22 AM
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23: Anyone can march on Teheran. Real men want to march on Beijing.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:23 AM
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27: I dunno, a rapid withdrawal starting in 2011 seems like about the best-case scenario anymore.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:23 AM
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28: No, that decision will be left up to President Petraeus.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:24 AM
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I think there's an actual world systems purpose to being there.

I don't think there's more to it than domestic politics and profiteering -- I don't think there's any serious plan for world domination that requires us to be fighting in Afghanistan, just total indifference to the damage we do as we kill them for domestic political ends.

I don't think we're sleepwalking. I think the informed public is being dragged, the decent people in the administration are being arm-twisted and everyone else is either sinister or lying to themselves.

This works for me as well -- I identify with the informed public, and 'sleepwalking' referred to that feeling of being dragged: that we've seen this, and should know how to resist, but somehow we can't get our heels dug in.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:25 AM
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The polls I see show support for the war in Afghanistan running at about 40-45%, with 50-55% opposed. Given that the 27% AllWarAllTheTime GOP contingent isn't ever going to vote for Obama no matter how many wogs he kills for their cable TV entertainment, I don't see how the "vast" middle is going to make up the difference for him.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:25 AM
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I don't see how the "vast" middle is going to make up the difference for him.

Oh, I think there are a lot of people who don't support the Afghan War who are nonetheless insane and manipulable enough to hold 'losing' it by withdrawing against him. Short term, pulling out without 'winning' will definitely cost popularity among the confused centrists, which is a huge chunk of the country.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:29 AM
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19: If that would work in three years, it'd work now.

No, it really wouldn't work now. The pundits would scream that he was being wimpy, etc, the terrorist threat. It would go down being spun as wimping out. It doesn't yet jive with the public narrative.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:29 AM
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I don't think there's any serious plan for world domination

Central Asian oil/gas/mineral reserves, with shipping routes through the Caucusus (risky) and Eastern Afghanistan (crazy). Geo=political considerations for the, well, center of the world.

The New Great Game goes ever on.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:30 AM
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In more basically nauseating consideration of domestic politics, this could be useful for endangered midterm dems who need to energize the base, as it allows them to run strongly against Obama on an important issue without leaving the reservation on HCR.

Then, by the time the next presidential election rolls around, the withdrawal will theoretically be well under way or complete, there will be a possible arbitrary declaration of victory, and he'll get credit for having done the right thing in the face of his party, which won't swing anybody partisan but might appeal to independents.

Again, who knows. I'm just interested in the question of motivation -- possibly it's just the usual military-industrial-complex steamrolling combined with personal narcissism, like it was with Bush, but that doesn't necessarily strike me as a very cogent analysis of the way Obama operates.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:31 AM
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28: I've been assuming we'll just starve Iranians for a while with increasingly pointless and brutal sanctions, until we've dehumanized them enough that bombing them becomes politically feasible.


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:31 AM
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The polls I see show support for the war in Afghanistan running at about 40-45%, with 50-55% opposed.

I bet those are soft numbers, in that a lot of people aren't really clear on the following: they don't like the war and they don't want us to "lose".

I think all he's doing is setting up a narrative by which we "win". Conveniently timed winning.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:31 AM
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No, it really wouldn't work now

You think it's going to be a lot easier in three years? He'll take pretty much the same hit for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:32 AM
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No way Obama will invade Iran. No way.

A big problem is that establishment Democrats, with their usual fear of being red-baited, went all in on support for the Afghan war during the 2004-2008 period as part of their opposititon to the Iraq war. Just to prove that they were manly enough to kill people too, y'know. Paying the price for that now.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:32 AM
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Bob was right when he said that we're going to get endless war instead of universal health care.

The pundits would scream that he was being wimpy, etc, the terrorist threat.

They will do that no matter what. That is the media narrative for Democratic presidents.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:33 AM
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36: Sure, we want all that, but is fighting a dumb war in Afghanistan really calculated to get us there? I don't think so -- we'd be better off leaving them alone and bribing warlords.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:33 AM
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The Geographical Pivot of History 1904


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:34 AM
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and "establishment Democrats" for sure includes Obama during his campaign.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:34 AM
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Central Asian oil/gas/mineral reserves, with shipping routes through the Caucusus (risky) and Eastern Afghanistan (crazy).

Bob's right. Shipping stuff through eastern Afghanistan would be crazy. Klaus Kinski might be able to manage it...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:34 AM
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I thought Bob hoped we could get UHC by consenting to endless war.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:34 AM
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40: I think the hope is that he'll have the cooperation of the generals in spinning the story then, because they'll stand by the fact that they got their troops*. Right now, he'd have to actively turn down all those troop requests.

*of course they can always claim they weren't given what they needed to WIN WIN WIN. But I'm guessing things are being brokered on the future PR.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:35 AM
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On a more serious note, bob's argument is insane, Afghanistan is about the most geopolitically useless piece of land in the world. You could pick - literally - any other country and come up with a more convincing argument for why invading it was part of a master plan to rule the world.
(Tuvalu? A dagger pointing at the heart of the vital Indonesian sealanes!)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:36 AM
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I do think that the attempt here is to emulate the surge--more troops for show, and buy a lull with local dollars during which you proclaim disengagement with honor.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:37 AM
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48: Because Lucy would never pull the football away again.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:37 AM
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They will do that no matter what. That is the media narrative for Democratic presidents.

True, but he is trying to affect the odds that it becomes conventional wisdom about him, going into the next election.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:37 AM
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42: true dat. It was the media narrative about Truman, and he nuked cities.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:39 AM
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I don't think there's more to it than domestic politics and profiteering -- I don't think there's any serious plan for world domination that requires us to be fighting in Afghanistan, just total indifference to the damage we do as we kill them for domestic political ends.

Not so much a serious plan for world domination as a set of geopolitical strategies that are neither "let's stop the terrorists" nor naive nation-building. It's not that the US can, realistically, dominate the world. But we can stir the pot and keep as much power as possible. It's why we're such a good friend to a troublesome client state like Israel. I guess certain kinds of profiteering (as with various corporate/national land grabs in Africa) seem to shade over into geopolitical strategy.

I was thinking about that horrible massacre of journalists and women political activists in the Philippines and how that's really about a US strategy of profiteering (as much as it is about anything else). We like a ridiculously corrupt and violent regime in the Philippines because it guarantees all sorts of labor benefits, which in turn help keep the peace here where the rich and powerful actually live. It's not that we have an ideological investment in the regime; it's that it's convenient and stabilizing that the poor brown people in other lands don't have the ability to attain to a decent standard of living. Matters are a bit different in Afghanistan--not much of a labor angle, obviously--but the same sort of use-value.

I wouldn't be Obama for a billion dollars and a rainbow pony.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:40 AM
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37: I've given up trying to game the midterms this far out. I think most of that's going to come down to the economy, and on that score Obama's biggest mistake was almost certainly the size and the design of the stimulus package - and, to a slightly lesser extent, the high-profile blowjobs for Wall Street he extended from Bush/Paulson. He really, really, really should've pushed through some major, populist, New Deal-style legislation early on - but of course, that's exactly what he was avoiding the whole time, because generations of Democrats have grown up believing that technocratic corporate-friendly centrism is the only way to govern. And when unemployment's over ten percent nationwide, that's just not going to work anymore.


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:40 AM
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He's losing the left quickly, and the right will never vote for him.

There are many people who would not identify themselves as left or right, and who perhaps would not be identified by left or right as belonging to them for reasons of weak commitment or apathy, who nonetheless would prefer not to vote for the re-election of, or support the entirely laudable domestic policies of, a president on whom everyone from their crank relatives to national television imbeciles hung a sign saying "Quitter. Surrendered. Made America Look Weak."*

It takes more contempt for one's own popularity than I think the average politician is capable of (even politicians who are otherwise admirable, even politicians I voted for) to make peace.** My best argument to myself for Obama -- sometimes I think it is the best argument I can make for any national politician -- was that he would kill fewer people than his opponent, but I suppose even I wasn't cynical enough.

* For the avoidance of doubt, I do not approve of this sort of thing.

** A reason to admire John Kerry. At least the John Kerry of the Winter Soldier hearings and the John Kerry who in a less degraded era would have been entitled to ease John O'Neill of his life on the field of honor for the things O'Neill has said about him for 30+ years.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:40 AM
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The Grand Chessboard Z Brzezinski 1998 who has Obama's ear.

Regarding the landmass of Eurasia as the center of global power, Brzezinski sets out to formulate a Eurasian geostrategy for the United States. In particular, he writes, it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger should emerge capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America's global preeminence. Much of his analysis is concerned with geostrategy in Central Asia, focusing on the exercise of power on the Eurasian landmass in a post-Soviet environment.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:42 AM
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And if we are going to invade anything, we should do it right: a broad land attack across Belarun and the Ukraine into Russia next fall. Prove that we're not just #1 now, but world historically. Team USA 2010!! Hitler and Napoleon were pussies.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:43 AM
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I do think that the attempt here is to emulate the surge--more troops for show, and buy a lull with local dollars during which you proclaim disengagement with honor.

Right, this is basically what I think, too.

I think Obama's calculus is to try to slink through the path of least resistance.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:44 AM
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My best argument to myself for Obama -- sometimes I think it is the best argument I can make for any national politician -- was that he would kill fewer people than his opponent, but I suppose even I wasn't cynical enough.

I still think this is true, of McCain if not of Clinton. (I had no hopes of getting a left-of-Clinton domestic policy out of Obama, but did hope for a left-of-Clinton foreign policy.)


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:44 AM
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Bob was right when he said that we're going to get endless war instead of universal health care.

some credit is due -- the HCR bill on the floor of the Senate, even with the opt-out public option removed, would still be the biggest step forward since Medicare. And I think it defines the conservative edge of the final product.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:45 AM
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On a more serious note, bob's argument is insane, Afghanistan is about the most geopolitically useless piece of land in the world. You could pick - literally - any other country and come up with a more convincing argument for why invading it was part of a master plan to rule the world.
(Tuvalu? A dagger pointing at the heart of the vital Indonesian sealanes!)

But it's not like there's an infinite array of wars from which to choose--we can't just attack China and take their stuff, for example. We can't really invade Iran. Iraq we've already invaded and it isn't going well. Wars are useful for all kinds of reasons; we pick the best geopolitical/domestic political option and go to town.

I just don't believe that everyone in government is silly and naive, or eager to start a war in which people on our side will actually die purely because it will help them in the elections. I've met some terrible, terrible people in my twenty years of protesting things, and many of them are very smart. They don't just bumble into billion-dollar disasters.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:45 AM
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The thing is, though, the surge didn't work for Bush -- Bush didn't get out of Iraq. It worked as permission for the next guy to get out (sorta, slowly) while Bush split for the hills. If Obama tries to do that and leave himself, he's going to get hit with all the 'Yeah, right, we 'won'. We haven't won and your surge didn't work, you lost the war and now you're quitting,' that he'd get if he left now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:47 AM
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47:On my bad days.

Since we apparently get endless war anyway, I would rather have the jobs and safety nets that a very high manpower military Keynesianism gives us. At my age, I no longer believe incremental liberalism will bring us, or our foreign victims, peace. Prove me wrong.

Socialism or barbarism, folks, and socialism means domestic war. Take your places.

My first choice is revolution.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:48 AM
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I've given up trying to game the midterms this far out. I think most of that's going to come down to the economy, and on that score Obama's biggest mistake was almost certainly the size and the design of the stimulus package - and, to a slightly lesser extent, the high-profile blowjobs for Wall Street he extended from Bush/Paulson.

I think that's exactly right.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:49 AM
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Belarun

Jesus Christ. I guess that will be the battle where we rout the Hungarians.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:49 AM
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The thing is, though, the surge didn't work for Bush -- Bush didn't get out of Iraq.

I think that people believe that the surge worked and that we're more or less out of Iraq. If you said "But there are still eleventy thousand troops there!" I think they'd chalk it up to longterm peace-keeping hard-to-remember where we park all our troops.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:49 AM
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60: The Obama v. Clinton argument was easier for me: she voted for the war (for obvious reasons) and the United States is not an hereditary monarchy.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:50 AM
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63: Bush didn't want to get out of Iraq. He wanted to kick the ball down the road and get the fuck out of town, and he did.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:50 AM
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I've given up trying to game the midterms this far out.

He's trying to game 2012, not the midterms. He's talking about beginning to pull out in the summer of 2011.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:51 AM
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Ignore 70; I don't think anyone was disputing that in particular.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:52 AM
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'We haven't won and your surge didn't work, you lost the war and now you're quitting,' that he'd get if he left now.

He'll get that regardless, even if he announces it wearing a cloak made of bin Laden's skin with Mullah Omar's head on a pike. Only Republicans win wars.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:54 AM
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if we are going to invade anything, we should do it right: a broad land attack across Belarun and the Ukraine into Russia next fall.

I propose this route.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:59 AM
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I just don't believe that everyone in government is silly and naive, or eager to start a war in which people on our side will actually die purely because it will help them in the elections. I've met some terrible, terrible people in my twenty years of protesting things, and many of them are very smart. They don't just bumble into billion-dollar disasters.

You can be smart and bumble into disaster. Most successful people use their smarts to rise up in an organization and gain personal power, not to potentially ruin their career by pointing out the long-term problems with an organization's decision. Also, Afghanistan was a perfect setup for bumbling -- we really had to take some military action in 2001, and then the question became when to leave. The when to leave question is always totally contaminated by institutional pride and self-preservation. Plus, the Iraq war ironically protected our committment to Afghanistan, because liberals would always hold Afghanistan as the "good war", justified alternative to Iraq.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:59 AM
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72: Not everything that Republicans say ends up sticking. The media has its own agenda which doesn't serve anyone but itself. If it serves them to say he won, they'll say it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:00 AM
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The book wasn't called The Naive and the Silliest, after all.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:01 AM
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I'm curious if he's looking to Nixon's example. Nixon gamed the end of Vietnam so it became a plus for his reelection chances, right?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:02 AM
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I just don't believe that everyone in government the average American voter is silly and naive, or eager to start a war in which people on our side will actually die purely because it will help them in the elections gratify their desire for power, no matter how vicarious, how cruelly exercised, how pointless.

I remember that I once had a hard time believing that.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:06 AM
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I presume at some point Obama goes to the secure sub-basement with Zbig asnd Madeleine and Kagans and listens to the secret Straussian history of everything geopolitical that we little people can't handle and decides it is his duty to make the tough decisions.

The next day he sits down with Summers and Bernanke.

This is how power corrupts, with benevolent and well-intentionedresponsibility.

The rest of your lives, and your granchildren's lives. George W Bush was about the irrevocable. The irrevocable is really hard for liberals to understand, it is supposed to be impossible.

I want some irrevocable for my side.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:10 AM
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I want some irrevocable for my side.

Nothing is less irrevocable than fantasy, so I'd say you have a way to go yet.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:13 AM
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Nuke responsibility from orbit!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:15 AM
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Plus, if dominating central Asia is so vital to being a world power, how come every world power in history hasn't dominated central Asia? The US hasn't. Britain didn't. Spain didn't. France didn't. The Netherlands didn't. Russia did, but I can't think of any way you could link Russian power to owning Tajikistan.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:22 AM
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82: There is the Central Asia with the Caspian oil wells and the Central Asia with overland access to India and the fine spices and gold to be had there, and sometimes people confuse the two.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:26 AM
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You're all missing the key element here. He who controls the luxurious wool sweaters controls the globe. So Scudder was right, above. The true enemy is China.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:30 AM
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The Mongols.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:32 AM
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82: It's like you've never even played Risk.

More seriously, I would feel a lot less bad about this if someone could point me toward something/anything that we're getting out of the Afghan government in return for staying. Getting rid of forein jihadis is all well and good, but if the result is another repressive and corrupt kleptocracy with extra bad repression for Afghan women, then what was the point?


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:34 AM
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Unless someone can tell me what this move means for the 2018 mid-term elections, I call shenanigans on your oracular powers. Seriously, does anyone actually have any real idea what this hideous decision portends? The only thing I can say with any degree of certainty is that the lives of ~30,000 American soldiers, and their loved ones, just got one hell of a lot scarier. Beyond that, who the hell knows? The future is murky.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:37 AM
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then what was the point?

The point, I think, is to kick the can down the road for at least another seven years, until someone else gets to take the blame.


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:38 AM
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82: Counter examples would be the empires of Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, and Alexander the Great.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:39 AM
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Seriously, does anyone actually have any real idea what this hideous decision portends?

Just a stab in the dark, but, more people are going to die for a pointless war?


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:40 AM
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Seriously, does anyone actually have any real idea what this hideous decision portends?

30 billion dollars per year at a barest minimum.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:41 AM
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76: All this madness, all this rage, all this flaming death of our civilization and our hopes, has been brought about because a set of official gentlemen, living luxurious lives, mostly stupid, and all without imagination or heart, have chosen that it should occur rather than that any one of them should suffer some infinitesimal rebuff to his country's pride.


Posted by: bertrand russell | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:43 AM
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90 is almost certainly right, though I'm not convinced that more Afghans will die than are dying right now. 91 gives me pause, but the money doesn't really register with me, I have to admit. And that might be stupid, but I say it anyway because the people who were going to argue that there wasn't enough money in the federal budget for this or that social program that I'd like to see funded were going to make that argument anyway.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:47 AM
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Anyway, I probably should have prefaced my comment by noting that, as I've said before, my strong preference would have been to see Obama call for the immediate draw-down of troops. But I never imagined that would happen. If I recall correctly, he's promised to ramp-up the fight in Afghanistan for as long as he's talked about running for president. It was the issue that always gave me pause about his candidacy.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:49 AM
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86:Getting rid of forein jihadis is all well and good, but if the result is another repressive and corrupt kleptocracy with extra bad repression for Afghan women, then what was the point?

Getting rid of the foreign jihadis *is* the point. A minimalist intervention would have destroyed Al Qaeda's ability to use Afghanistan as a base of operation (along with killing a bunch of them), and simply up and left with a chastened Taliban still running the place.

I think it's delusional to think the US intervention will leave something other than a misogynist kleptocracy running Afghanistan. The best we can hope for is a misogynist kleptocracy that is only moderately corrupt, and which tolerates the kind of grass roots pressure that will eventually lead to real equality for women.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:49 AM
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the only thing I can say with any degree of certainty is that the lives of ~30,000 American soldiers, and their loved ones, just got one hell of a lot scarier. Beyond that, who the hell knows?

And . . . that the status quo wherein the U.S. political establishment pretends it has the right and even obligation to maintain and use its military around the world will be reinforced throughout the course of another Democratic Presidency.

/Not surprised though. He promised this isht throughout the campaign.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:50 AM
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the money doesn't really register with me

More than enough to completely bail out California.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:53 AM
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19: I think there will be some arbitrary declaration of VICTORY now we can withdraw!, which will time excellently with the next election.
I agree with Mme. Geebie. So hard, for political, managerial, institutional reasons, for a pres/Commander in Chief to go against the advice of his generals (esp. one that he appointed) by pulling out now - the current Obama plan seems to split the difference: go with the military advice he was receiving while permitting the Geebie scenario to unfold as the 2012 election approaches, when electoral concerns trump all. HG - mistress of triangulation.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:55 AM
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Do we want to really bail out California? Maybe as part of a binding agreement to stop pretending to govern by popular initiative, otherwise known as mob rule.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:57 AM
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More than enough to completely bail out California.

Annually.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 10:57 AM
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More than enough to completely bail out California.

But that's not an option on the table. If it were, I'd change my tune. Again, though, it's not like Congress is saying, "Well, either we spend $30b. on this neat little war, or we use the money to buy health insurance for all Americans/send every American to college/bail out California/etc." Which is to say, I think that argument is entirely spurious. There are excellent reasons for not escalating US involvement in Afghanistan, but I'm not persuaded that budgetary considerations are among them.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:00 AM
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Do we want to really bail out California?

Don't want to, no. Will have to, nonetheless. Believe me, you and I see eye to eye on California's retarded system of self-nongovernance.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:02 AM
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I'm not persuaded that budgetary considerations are among them

Funny how they are the overriding concern for everything else, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:03 AM
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Apostropher probably thinks that money has to come from somewhere and that there are implicit trade-offs, but maybe he hasn't seen or lived how long you can kick debt down the road and let the infrastucture of your society crumble around you. When you live that for years past the point where your mind boggles, and yet you and the people in your immediate circles mostly live the same lives, you understand that spending the future really is a functional plan.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:04 AM
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I think this idea that Obama would withdraw if he could but that he doesn't have the political capital to challenge the Generals is wrong. I think he genuinely believes he has to "solve" AfPak. All he needed convincing was that escalation in troop levels could do this.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:05 AM
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73: I propose this route.

All is forgiven if we get good maps out of it. Or rugs.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:10 AM
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If I recall correctly, he's promised to ramp-up the fight in Afghanistan for as long as he's talked about running for president. It was the issue that always gave me pause about his candidacy.

But that was obviously just campaign-talk to give him cover on Iraq, so he didn't look like a spineless dove. No one with any sense actually put stock in any of that.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:11 AM
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When I think of the kind of stuff we could do if we didn't insist on spending all our resources on turning each other into hamburger I curl up into a ball and cry.


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:12 AM
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But that was obviously just campaign-talk to give him cover on Iraq, so he didn't look like a spineless dove.

But that wasn't just campaign-talk, and that wasn't just Obama. Every Democrat except Dennis Kucinich had wedded their anti-Iraq War message to an escalation of Afghanistan in order to prove they still had their War-Balls.


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:15 AM
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Funny how they are the overriding concern for everything else, though.

That's a huge load of nonsense, apo. Budgetary concerns only matter when they matter, when they're a useful political cudgel in a political debate. Otherwise, the budget, as in the case of spending on wars, becomes a complete non-issue. Again, the Senators who posture as budget hawks will do so when it serves their purposes, regardless of what the budget looks like.

And is 107 serious? I can't tell. Because if it is, I guess that puts me squarely in the camp of the senseless. Which is fair enough.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:16 AM
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I completely agree with 108, by the way. If we actually shifted our priorities, we could really get some shit done. Universal health care would just be the beginning. It's astonishing, and horribly tragic, that feeding the military-industrial complex is the nation's number one priority. I posted that Moyers quote over at our blog for a reason.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:18 AM
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Every Democrat except Dennis Kucinich

WHAT AM I, CHOPPED LIVER!?


Posted by: OPINIONATED MIKE GRAVEL | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:18 AM
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110: That was my point, yes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:20 AM
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I think this idea that Obama would withdraw if he could but that he doesn't have the political capital to challenge the Generals is wrong. I think he genuinely believes he has to "solve" AfPak. All he needed convincing was that escalation in troop levels could do this.

This feels about right to me; Obama seems to think (and given the character of the previous administration, the temptation is obvious) that he's smart enough to out-clever the problems that the Bushies were too dim to work out.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:21 AM
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113: Then I don't see how raising the budget as an argument against this escalation is at all persuasive. If there's political will to pass HCR, then the Senate will pass it. If there's political will to bail out CA, for better or worse, then the Senate will pass that (heretofore nonexistent) legislation. And so on. I just don't see what the $30b./yr. cost of ramping up the war in Afghanistan has to do with much of anything except for (Maybe? I don't really have any idea.) legitimate concerns about the size of the debt.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:24 AM
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108: yes, seriously, me too.

My point throughout this is just that it's unsuprising that it's unfolding the way it is, and Obama's motivation for doing so.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:24 AM
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If it all comes down to political will, nothing has anything to do with anything.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:25 AM
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114: What makes you say this? Other than having gazed into his eyes, I mean? Seriously, I'm interested in seeing the evidence that Obama thinks he can solve this problem himself. Because I've seen lots of evidence/arguments suggesting that he believes that placing the onus on the generals is the best solution available to him. (Again, I think he's wrong about that. I think drawing down would be the best course. But it's easy to see how that's not a course that he thinks is open to him.)


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:27 AM
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117: Yup, I think that about sums it up for most members of the Senate.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:27 AM
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118: pure general impression.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:30 AM
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I really bet that Obama does not think he can solve Afghanistan. I genuinely believe Obama is a very, very smart guy who does not kid himself about this sort of thing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:32 AM
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Then I don't see how raising the budget as an argument against this escalation is at all persuasive.

I'm talking to you, not to Congress or Obama.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:34 AM
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That is, you asked what we could *know* the decision portends. I answered $30B at a minimum. You said the money doesn't register with you, so I tried to express it in terms that were personally relevant.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:37 AM
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123: But those terms aren't personally relevant, is my point, because there's no evidence that the money's available for my (or your) priorities. Regardless, you and I have agreed about Afghanistan for a very long time, so we should be mourning together. That said, Sirota's a self-aggrandizing gasbag and should be deprecated.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:42 AM
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Sirota's a self-aggrandizing gasbag

ONE OF US! ONE OF US!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:44 AM
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Ted Sirota is a talented jazz drummer and composer.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:49 AM
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Jesus this is depressing. Obama is performing at the lowest end of my low expectations.

The message here is just "Fuck you, hippies". Obama is willing to be a one term President just in order to make that message clear.

Against Ari, wars are fought in large part for the purpose of precluding social spending and deflating progressive movements. The opposition to social spending and the promotion of war are one thing, not two things.

The only problem with talking about what good the money could do spent domestically, or pointing how how egregiously profligate the supposed deficit hawks really are, is that that kind of argument historically hasn't worked. But it's a completely valid argument.


Posted by: Martin Van Buren | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:56 AM
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112: I'm sorry, Mike. I thought of you right as I hit the "post" button.


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:59 AM
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I really bet that Obama does not think he can solve Afghanistan. I genuinely believe Obama is a very, very smart guy who does not kid himself about this sort of thing.

What makes you say this? His soaring rhetoric has always been of the America can do anything with the proper commitment and plan variety.

His opposition to the Iraq War was always that it (i) wasn't worth doing, that it (ii) was sold on lies, and that it (iii) was managed incompetently. He's never suggested any principled pessimism about using the military as a tool foreign policy.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 11:59 AM
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The only problem with talking about what good the money could do spent domestically, or pointing how how egregiously profligate the supposed deficit hawks really are, is that that kind of argument historically hasn't worked.

Doctors, teachers and food are paid for with money. Wars are paid for with leprechaun gold.


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:01 PM
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Everyone can immediately see the necessity of killing a bunch of dudes, whereas the necessity of eating is harder to grasp, on a visceral level.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:04 PM
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127: We are going presidential for our political beliefs now? Thinks went downhill fast.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:04 PM
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129: Seriously. His line on Afghanistan has been consistent with the mainstream Democratic line on Afghanistan, which for years has been (1) we were right to invade, (2) boots on the ground, and (3) 9/11, 9/11, 9/11. I know that a lot of people were hoping he had his fingers crossed behind his back during the campaign whenever he talked about war and foreign policy, but he was pretty straightforward about this.


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:05 PM
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The message here is just "Fuck you, hippies".

I endorse this message, insofar as it can be transmitted without killing a bunch of people.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:06 PM
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132: Yeah. But maybe MvB is Rahm Emanuel?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:06 PM
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Thinks went downhill fast.

Welcome to America.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:08 PM
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135: The simple truth is that our eighth president is opposed to escalation in Afghanistan.


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:09 PM
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the mainstream Democratic line on Afghanistan, which for years has been (1) we were right to invade

IIRC, Barbara Lee was the only person in either chamber to vote against the AUMF. I do recall being treated like a crazy person arguing that it was in our best interests to slow down and figure out what we were doing first.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:13 PM
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Bob, Zbig is not a particularly hawkish dem in this decade, rather the reverse. On Afghanistan I'll take the minority position here. While I don't like sending more troops, I don't want to withdraw either. I'd prefer cutting troop levels down to what they were a year ago, increasing aid and bribe spending, and settling down for eternal stalemate.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:14 PM
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KITTENS ARE CUTE!


Posted by: OPINIONATED GEORGE WASHINGTON | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:16 PM
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140: Fascist.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:24 PM
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127, 140: FUCK YOU, HIPPIES!


Posted by: OPINIONATED JAMES KNOX POLK | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:25 PM
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I'd prefer cutting troop levels down to what they were a year ago, increasing aid and bribe spending, and settling down for eternal stalemate.

Honestly, I'd like to hear more about the aiding and bribe spending. Also the corruption reducing. I'd put up with pretty much any troop level if I thought that the measures that will actually change the situation were being pursued.

I'd also like people to stop framing the discussion in terms of "the afghan people" and "the taliban" and "the Karzai government." If our strategy were framed in terms of tribes and warlords and other aspects of the real power structure of the country, I'd feel more confident.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:26 PM
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133 is exactly right. I don't know why people expected anything different. I mean, Obama even went along with the "invasion of Georgia!" hysteria during the campaign. Even the withdrawal timetable is a step forward from what he was signalling during the campaign.

And I do wonder if Obama is impressed by our new social-services aware COIN military -- hey, it's international development, they might be able to do something. Nation building is something of a liberal impulse, you need to be firmly anti-war to question it.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:39 PM
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I don't know why people expected anything different.

I didn't. But I'm going to complain just as loudly about it under this guy as I did under the last one.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:47 PM
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Obama's got a long way to go before his overall foreign policy could be considered "worse" than Bush's, though.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:55 PM
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Ah, the soft bigotry of low expectations.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 12:57 PM
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I wouldn't say it's such a long way from being essentially the same, however. That argument does carry a whiff of "okay, so maybe we torture prisoners, but those guys behead people."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:01 PM
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Well, 146 was terribly worded, and was meant substantially to disagree with 148. (Also, I have no idea why "worse" was in quotation marks. I thought someone had used the word upthread, but apparently not.) Anyway, replace "worse" with "as bad as"--that's my thinking, which is disagreeing with 148. (Though completely agreeing with 147.)

That's my general view towards the foreign policy of recent Democratic presidents: awful, but less awful than the alternative.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:10 PM
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I didn't. But I'm going to complain just as loudly about it under this guy as I did under the last one.

My greatest fear is that we'll discover under Obama that, without the impetus of Bush's personality fueling visceral left-liberal antagonism, popular pressure to roll-back our military adventurism is going to just wither away. Hopefully, if the war gets associated with Obama enough, the tea-baggers will begin to oppose it.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:10 PM
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And ari, 107 was a joke, yes, but it was something I'd (naively) hoped would be true.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:11 PM
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Until GWB, I'd say that foreign policy was more or less identical under presidents of either party (e.g., if you can spot a foreign policy difference between Bill Clinton and GHWB, you have much sharper eyes than I do). I only vote for Democrats based on their stands on social issues.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:15 PM
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142: "ESTABLISH WHETHER THE PARTICULAR SPOT ON WHICH THE BLOOD OF OUR CITIZENS WAS SO SHED WAS OR WAS NOT AT THAT TIME OUR OWN SOIL"!


Posted by: OPINIONATED REP. A. LINCOLN | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:15 PM
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My greatest fear is that we'll discover under Obama that, without the impetus of Bush's personality fueling visceral left-liberal antagonism, popular pressure to roll-back our military adventurism is going to just wither away

I'm pretty sure this has already happened.

Hopefully, if the war gets associated with Obama enough, the tea-baggers will begin to oppose it.

I doubt it. The Teabaggers like killing brown people too much.


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:19 PM
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Most of the MA Congressional delegation (including our interim Senator Paul Kirk opposes this). Kerry, of course, is tentatively supportive. It's so ironic given his work on behalf of Vietnam Vets Against the War.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:30 PM
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153: STUFF IT, ONE TERMER!


Posted by: OPINIONATED JAMES KNOX POLK | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:36 PM
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When I think of the kind of stuff we could do if we didn't insist on spending all our resources on turning each other into hamburger I curl up into a ball and cry.

I mean, yeah. But, yeah. I mean, that does go without saying, doesn't it?

But enough about the human race and its foibles, let's talk about me. Lately, (just this afternoon, actually) I've fallen in love with woman who seems like everything anyone could want: lovely, passionately opposed to war and corporate fascism, a determined skeptic of global warming, a prophet of financial armageddon, and a 9/11 truther. No, Bob; you can't have her. She's mine! All mine!


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:42 PM
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Until GWB, I'd say that foreign policy was more or less identical under presidents of either party

The collective foreign policies of Kennedy/Johnson/Carter/Clinton don't strike you as better than the collective foreign policies of Nixon/Ford/Reagan/Bush Sr.?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:45 PM
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127 is good think, but I still have to try to understand 50s & 60s America and Bismarck Germany

127:Against Ari, wars are fought in large part for the purpose of precluding social spending and deflating progressive movements. The opposition to social spending and the promotion of war are one thing, not two things.

I hope people don't think I am a closet rightwinger...but do we still think the end of the draft a good thing? Where are our marches and riots? Now I do know the Burkes and Berubes think the riots and marches were bad things, giving the left a bad reputation so we would never get the wonders of Obama.

I would go read my English Marxists, but they are even more depressed than we are. Tories are a lock soon.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:51 PM
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158: The main differences I can discern between them are rhetorical. What do you see as the substantive differences?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:54 PM
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(I may have to think longer about Reagan, whose Latin American policies were truly abysmal)


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:55 PM
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More than enough to completely bail out California.

I hope the U.S. government has more sense than to wade into that quagmire. I mean, yeah, you get into something like that thinking you can do some good for the inhabitants - promote democracy, help lift up a failed state - but then you find out that some of the tribes there are unalterably opposed to American values. And what is your exit strategy?


Posted by: politicafootball | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:56 PM
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157.2:She is very well-informed.

The accelerating number of banks on the FDIC watch-list as CRE collapses is a doom-indicator that is not mentioned much outside Calculated Risk.

I think I might be in love.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 1:58 PM
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#163. She also hates Obama, so you know, there's that, too.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 2:07 PM
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Understanding that they don't directly talk to each other, Berube and Proyect nevertheless seem to be engaged in unfriendly dialogue.

Comment #9 by JBL is the kind of thing I would like to say, but honestly both bloggers are above my weightclass.

Joke's On Us


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 2:43 PM
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156: NICE MONUMENT TO YOU ON THE NATIONAL MALL!


Posted by: OPINIONATED SAVIOR OF OUR COUNTRY | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 3:11 PM
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Hopefully, if the war gets associated with Obama enough, the tea-baggers will begin to oppose it.

Criticizing a president for not invading or nuking Waziristan is not the same as opposing the war that you don't think is large enough, Michael Ledeen.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 3:25 PM
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156: Uhhh....


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 3:26 PM
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Rep. Lincoln, not Pres. Lincoln.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 3:33 PM
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Hopefully, if the war gets associated with Obama enough, the tea-baggers will begin to oppose it.

Doubtful, of course, but I must say that I'd love now to encounter that woman at the Post Office from a couple of weeks ago*, the one who prayed that health care reform wouldn't pass, and declared that Medicare should be abolished because we're going bankrupt, and it will be a miracle if this country survives, I tell you what! I might have a further question for her.

* unfogged appears to have gone down the google hoo-hole again; can't find the thread in which I recounted that


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 3:48 PM
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168: like that second term even counts. He quit like three months in!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 3:48 PM
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165: bob, if you follow that the photo illustration to its source - Capitalist Genocide - you get a site that's, well, as crazy as you. But with some really effective photo illustrations. The one you linked was particularly striking, I thought, but there are other very good ones (and some less good ones). I liked the firehose aimed at Bank of America.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 6:13 PM
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172:A commenter at Proyect's issued a warning. I worried that the site was anti-semitic or something, so I didn't go there.

I don't know if I am crazier than they. I do attack Obama, but if you read my comments, I don't spend a lot of time attacking Democrats. I don't join in the kvetching about the Senate or the filibuster. I don't say the parties are the same;I don't even bitch about Lieberman or Baucus or Lincoln. I don't say the parties are the same. I may have slipped, and you might find comments that contradict, but I try.

Democrats are family. I will die having voted near straight ticket. I disagree with them, but I do love the party.

And anyway, my focus, my laserlike concentration on radical evil needs a "good guys" to define the "bad." My hatred of Republicans is insane, and well, completely evil. I embrace this limitless transcendent hate. I let it define me politically. I like having fantasies I can't speak of publicly. A hatred like heroin.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 6:57 PM
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When I bitch about "liberals" it is obviously about liberalism getting in the way of my fantasies about Republicans.

To be honest, I can talk more rationally than that. I need to get to Alisdair MacIntyre, for instance.

But the hate is the core, the motivation, the passion.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 7:05 PM
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Here, have some Arthur Silber

I attack Obama because I will not attack the "brand Democrat." I need something abstract to love unconditionally.

Good night.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 7:27 PM
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I like having fantasies I can't speak of publicly.

Mon semblable--mon frère!


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 8:08 PM
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|| Speaking of fantasies about which one cannot speak... He wrote me today and told me how a relationship with me offered everything he always wanted in life, but that he needs to honor his commitment. So, fine. I mean, yeah, honorable decision if painful for me. But he won't understand why we can't be friends, keeps pushing "can't we just try?" It's too much. |>


Posted by: The 85th President | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:29 PM
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He's being a drama queen shithead.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-09 9:36 PM
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Mmm. He wants a relationship where you're friends, which in context means being unspokenly wistful about how you're each other's one true love, while he has a comfortably domestic life that it would be dishonorable to leave. You, on the other hand, will end up feeling disloyal if you look at another man while you have this warm yet wistful 'friendship' with your one true love.

I'm being hard on him, I'm sure he's not thinking this way consciously. But still. Tell him you'll look him up when you're dating someone, and he can invite the two of you over to his house for dinner with his wife if he wants to be friends.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 7:11 AM
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That's, of course, precisely his hope. "There's someone out there much better for you than me! When you find that, you'll see, this will be so much easier. ". Will never happen. Can you imagine that dinner? "Hey boyfriend, this is the guy I fell in love with who led me on and fucked me over. Hi, wife! How' that life together that will never be what he always wanted but that he is committed to settling for?"


Posted by: The 85th President | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 7:34 AM
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Hi, wife! How' that life together that will never be what he always wanted but that he is committed to settling for?

Fine. Thanks for asking. Love that sweater. Have you tried the onion dip?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 7:38 AM
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181: Sorry.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 7:39 AM
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182: Don't apologize. 181 was probably dead on.


Posted by: The 85th President | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 7:45 AM
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Thing is, when you're with your next boyfriend, that dinner will seem trivial and far away. You and your own guy will have much better things to do than hang around mopey people in a complicated relationship.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 7:51 AM
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184: Unless she makes a really terrific onion dip. In which case, who can say 'no'?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 7:52 AM
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180: Well, I dunno. Given your feelings for him, there's probably something worthwhile about the guy (I'm being hard on him, but it's a function of the situation rather than having any reason to think there's much wrong with him). At some point in the future, it seems possible that you'll be in a place where you're really not interested in the possibility of a romantic relationship with him (either because you're happily paired off, or just really over the idea), and then being friends without romantic angst seems possible. Hanging out with his wife was just meant as shorthand for 'really without romantic angst.'


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 7:56 AM
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184: True. Should I find "someone better," I'm not going to have any interest in socializing with a lost love and his wife. Should I find happiness in remaining alone, I'm not going to have any interest in socializing with a lost love and his wife. Should I wither away in longing and desire, I'm not going to have any interest in socializing with a lost love and his wife.

We were friends. He upped the ante and then folded. Game over.


Posted by: The 85th President | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 8:06 AM
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I don't think this is the time to be even-handedly remembering that there are good reasons to be in love with him. This is the time to muster up anger and disgust that he's jerking you around, and continuing to try to, and fuck him. Someday when you're head-over-heels with someone new and don't care whether or not you have dinner with him, you'll have dinner with him, but you'll be indifferent to the whole thing. Fuck him. (Don't fuck him.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 8:08 AM
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Heebie's right as a matter of practical advice. Whether or not it makes sense to be friends with him later, when you're over him, is something that there's no point at all worrying about until later, when you're over him. Right now, avoid avoid avoid.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 8:10 AM
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Maybe in a few years you'll see his house on the news and the reporter will be talking about how they won't know the full extent until the police bring in ground penetrating radar to examine the backyard. Then you'll feel like you dodged a bullet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 8:11 AM
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And besides, I'll bet his wife's onion dip SUCKS.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 8:14 AM
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Police report that victims were lured to the house after an elaborate courtship involving angst-filled confessions of love coupled with a reluctance to leave his wife. He would feign hearing his wife's car approaching as a distraction before he employed the circular saw.

Neighbors said that they began to get suspicious when he was seen digging a hole in May and claimed to be "planting onions for his wife's dip." According to those who have been dinner guests, the onion dip was clearly made using dried onion flakes. "And the cheapest sour cream you can find," said Mrs. Smith, who lives across the street.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 8:25 AM
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Nicholas Kristof: "America's military spending in Afghanistan alone next year will now exceed the entire official military budget of every other country in the world."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 9:01 AM
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I should put up a post about what a chump I was overlooking Obama's Afghanistan position during the election. Not that it would have changed my vote, or even my sense of how preferable Obama was to McCain, but my thinking was incredibly stupid and flippant -- basically, I thought (if it counts as thinking; I really didn't focus on it at all) that Afghanistan was a small-scale enough problem that increased belligerence on our part there wasn't a big deal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 9:16 AM
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Practically the entire Democratic establishment painted themselves into a corner on Afghanistan, by thinking they'd found a terribly clever way to attack Bush ("We had a good war that you fucked up with your bad war."), rather than acknowledging they never should have written blank checks for either one.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 9:21 AM
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Right. It wouldn't have been a terrible line of attack if it had been firmly grounded in time: "The point of and justification for invading Afghanistan was to disrupt Al Qaeda and capture and kill Bin Laden. You fucked [past tense] that up by diverting resources to Iraq in 2001-2 [date], and it's too late to fix it now." But that's not the way people said it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-09 9:25 AM
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Hi guys! How's the site going! I just came by to apologise for that time I said that Obama would turn out to be a big fat fucking disappointment just like Tony Blair and you all told me he was obviously different and that there was no chance of you all being savagely disillusioned within a year. Well boy, is my face red after he turned out to be amazingly effective, and now you have that fantastic publicly provided healthcare system and aren't starting wars any more. Sorry.

Mind you, he is still black. I'd hang on to that crumb of consolation.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 2:42 AM
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197: well, be fair, he hasn't actually started any more wars yet; and the healthcare thing is ticking along, as far as I can tell.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 3:52 AM
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the healthcare thing is ticking along, as far as I can tell.

If my heart was ticking along like that, I'd be in an ICU.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 4:57 AM
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I'm still pretty clear that he's better than the alternative would have been. Which is all that was ever available.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:03 AM
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200. Yes, it worries me that so many people seem to be taking their bat and ball home because BHO turns out to be a bog standard centre right Democrat instead of whatever they were fantasising. This clears the way for whatever lunatic gets selected by the Republicans to be elected by 30% of the electorate, and there is no Republican politician alive who wouldn't be appreciably worse. When I was a kid, we called this ultra-leftism. Historically it has Godwin Godwin Godwin...


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:29 AM
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hat there was no chance of you all being savagely disillusioned within a year

That's interesting, dsquared. Because I remember "be disappointed by somebody new" being the preferred catchphrase around here. But do please continue marinating in your smug sauce.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:00 AM
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OFE, on the American spectrum, I *am* ultra-leftist. In all likelihood, I won't live to see a presidency I actually like. I'm also, however, a realist about what options are on the menu. I still think Edwards would have been the best president of the three major candidates on offer, but even that is based on hoping that his proposals (no pun intended) during the campaign had actually replaced the ones represented by his Senate career, so. I'll still show up and pull the Democratic lever, as I have in every election of my entire life. But I'm going to complain just as loudly about shitty policy from Democrats as from Republicans, and I write my representative and senators to do so regularly.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:17 AM
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noop, you tried to make it the catchphrase, but history reveals that your commenters more or less took the view that "Is BHO presenting a materially different alternative? Only bad faith leads to a negative answer".


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:24 AM
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and not just yours.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:30 AM
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apo, I know you are, and I love you for it. But you will grit your teeth and vote for BHO next time. The internet is crawling with people who say they won't because they "feel betrayed" (I'm sorry, you feel betrayed by a professional politician? It's what they do.) Also, you get polls saying that only 25% of Dems are likely to vote next time - why don't they just go out and campaign for Huckabee, at least they'd be in the fresh air.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:40 AM
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Obama has got to go a long way before he sucks as much as Tony Blair.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:01 AM
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Now that is praising Obama with faint damns.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:07 AM
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204: That's (part of) one comment in a 1000+ comment thread regarding his speech on race (which was an exceptional speech, even to this hardened cynic's ears). Scanning through the thread, though, it's mostly arguing about the relative perniciousness of American exceptionalism in political rhetoric.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:08 AM
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209. Right. Together with the next sentence, it was:

Is BHO presenting a materially different alternative? Only bad faith leads to a negative answer. Is he the Second Coming? No one thinks that.

Anyone who thought Obama was going to fix everything was wrong and naive, and by golly, dsquared, you told all those people that long before the election. Spiffy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:26 AM
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210:Fallacy of Excluded Middle

Stalin was a materially different alternative to Hitler, but not the second coming who fixed everything.

"Better than McCain" can still be "Worst President Ever"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:54 AM
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Yeah, but there's a whole lot of other candidates for 'Worst President Ever' that he's really not close to yet. 'Pretty Fucking Awful', on the other hand, he's coming close to achieving.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:58 AM
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But "Better than Bush" cannot.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:58 AM
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Arthur Silber, linked at 175

...Obama had to represent a markedly better choice than McCain, take note: in certain respects, Obama is far more dangerous than McCain could have been. For the same reasons, Obama is also more dangerous than Bush was.
In large part, the danger represented by Obama arises from the fact that Obama's election gutted whatever effective opposition might have existed. To their eternal shame, the Democrats never opposed Bush in any way that mattered -- but at least the possibility of opposition had not been obliterated entirely. In the near term and probably for longer, that possibility now appears to have been extinguished.

Ok, maybe even worse than McCain


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:00 AM
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Yeah, see, that's nuts, to the extent that it's claiming that Obama is so magically seductive that he's going to be able to totally defang any possibility of opposition.

I'm not claiming the Unfogged posters and commenters are an effective, or an activist, opposition, but we're a sample of moderately leftish-wing people, mostly, and I don't know if you've noticed this, but we're unhappy with Obama. We weren't doing anything useful in opposition to Bush, either, but presumably anyone who was is out to our left, and I'll bet they're still doing whatever the hell it was that was useful about being an opposition.

(This is not claiming that everything's all right. Everything's not all right. Everything's very bad. But the claim you're making that Obama's worse than Bush because we will be hypnotized by his charm into supporting whatever awful things he wants to do is disproven by the very bitching we're doing in this thread.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:05 AM
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Look, if Obama wants to go to war with Pakistan or gut Social Security, we are not going to be able to stop him. He is cutting 500 billion from Medicare.

This is the problem we had with LBJ, in that effective resistance to the war meant weakening the Great Society/CRA, electing Nixon, and splintering the Democratic Party. The fail of school desegegation was an immediate consequence.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:06 AM
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214: that's a terrible argument. "Obama's bad because when he does something bad, the Dems won't oppose it, because he's one of them!"
"Er, when Bush did bad stuff the Dems didn't oppose it either."
"Yes, but there was still a theoretical possibility that they could have done so! And now there isn't!"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:07 AM
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215:LB, I read the comments everywhere, and the consequence of Obama means left Democrats are going to stay home in 2010 and 2012. I plan on it.

How bad could that be?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:08 AM
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This is the problem we had with LBJ, in that effective resistance to the war meant weakening the Great Society/CRA, electing Nixon, and splintering the Democratic Party. The fail of school desegegation was an immediate consequence.

Continued segregation would have been an acceptable price to pay for the end of the war.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:09 AM
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And goddamnit all to hell, just as in 1968, we DFH's are going to catch all the blame, all the fucking blame from you moderates if we don't suck it up, hold out noses, and vote against our consciences.

You won't blame Obama.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:10 AM
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With respect, in the quoted paragraphs Silber is full of it. Obama is not going to start a war of choice with Iran. For that if for no other reason he is already a markedly better choice that McCain.

He is actually a very average president, by comparison with those I have lived through. Possibly better than average, which doesn't mean good. Trouble is, the times call for an exceptional president, which Obama was never going to be. But then, nor was anybody else.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:17 AM
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Bob, I promise not to blame you individually for having any effect at all on anything important. I assume the favor will be returned.

Generally, I think anyone too pure to vote for the least-worst option, where the outcome is at all in doubt, is being stupid. And I think Obama still, in retrospect, comfortably makes it to 'least worst' over McCain.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:19 AM
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YOU PEOPLE ARE ALL NAIVE AND STUPID COMPARED TO ME. I SEEM TO HAVE DETECTED, IN SOME OF YOU, AN ACTUAL POSITIVE DESIRE TO VOTE FOR SOMEBODY -- AND THE REST OF YOU DID NOT DO NEARLY ENOUGH TO EXTINGUISH WHATEVER INFANTILE DELUSIONS LED UP TO THAT DESIRE.

AM I THE ONLY ONE SMART ENOUGH TO REALIZE THAT ELECTIONS ARE POINTLESS CHARADES? OBVIOUSLY I WOULD HAVE VOTED THE SAME WAY YOU DID, BUT I WOULD NOT EMBARRASS MYSELF BY TALKING ABOUT IT, EXCEPT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DEMONSTRATE THAT I AM ONE OF THE RARE HUMAN BEINGS CAPABLE OF CYNICISM AND PESSIMISM.


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:29 AM
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223 is awesome.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:31 AM
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It's the same as being an economist - the payoff matrix is biased towards pessimism (the Roubini Skew).

Optimism + things go well: unremarkable
Pessimism + things go badly: well done
Pessimism + things go well: seen as respectable voice of caution
Optimism + things go badly: seen as ridiculous figure of fun, possibly corrupt


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:35 AM
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And seriously, to spin out 'anyone too pure to vote for the least worst option (where voting might have some effect) is stupid'? We've had conversations about 'how bad would the Democrats have to get to lose your vote (assuming they still remain the least worst option)' in the past, and I think the right answer is 'there is no limit -- I will always vote for the least worst option'.

Because not voting for someone is the most incredibly weak-ass, pointless form of protest imaginable. There is a point, in terms of governmental misconduct, where I would feel responsible for being more activist in opposition to the government than I am now. (I'm well past this point -- I'm not nearly as activist as I think I ought to be.) There's a point where I might actually become more activist. (Hopefully. If there isn't, that's an indictment of my individual character more than anything else.) There's a point where I'd feel responsible for engaging in serious lawbreaking in opposition to the government. (Godwin's law here.) There might even be a point where I actually would be crawling through the sewers with a knife in my teeth, or whatever the hell the Resistance does. (Probably not, but again that's about the lameness of my character rather than anything else.)

There's no point on that continuum where 'I'm not going to vote for the Democrats even if they are better than the Republicans, because they suck so much that I'm ashamed to support them,' does anyone a blind bit of good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:40 AM
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There might even be a point where I actually would be crawling through the sewers with a knife in my teeth, or whatever the hell the Resistance does.

Make painful, life-or-death decisions while looking very debonair and french, if Army of Shadows is to be believed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:42 AM
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Everything's not all right. Everything's very bad.

What I see come out of the agencies is actually good.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:43 AM
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But do please continue marinating in your smug sauce.

The only thing worse than being condescended to by dsquared is not being condescended to by dsquared.

the consequence of Obama means left Democrats are going to stay home in 2010 and 2012. I plan on it.

An assortment of PUMAs, creeps, blowhards, and cosplayers are building their own party at Reclusive Leftist. You could join them.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:44 AM
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dsquared's back, and he's brought his top shelf trolling! This really brightens my winter.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:46 AM
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228: If you wanted to cheer me up, you'd post about that sort of thing in detail on your water blog. That's the area where I still have some sort of hope relating to Obama -- that on some level he wants to run the useful bits of government in a useful fashion rather than trying to destroy it completely -- but I don't have the detailed knowledge to know that it's happening.

Or just give us the high points here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:47 AM
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226: not trying to defend bob, but this relies on a fairly narrow conception of "least-worst option". No one says you have to stay home; you can vote for anyone you want.

Isn't there any point on the continuum at which the Democrats suck so much that working to support and strengthen a third party (including voting for them) becomes the least-worst option? Even if that party has no chance at winning the current election?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:49 AM
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Make painful, life-or-death decisions while looking very debonair and french


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:49 AM
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Huzzah! Can Ogged be far behind? Or Fontana Labs? Or . . . come to think of it, this place is missing more regulars than it has.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:51 AM
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I mean, maybe it's just me, but I'd actually think "vote for a third party" would be somewhere less far out on the continuum than "crawl through the sewers".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:51 AM
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that on some level he wants to run the useful bits of government in a useful fashion rather than trying to destroy it completely

A point that afficionados of the politics of rhetoric never understand. Mind you, you could say the same of Blair in some areas, but he's still a war criminal and an anti-democratic scumbag.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:52 AM
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Isn't there any point on the continuum at which the Democrats suck so much that working to support and strengthen a third party (including voting for them) becomes the least-worst option? Even if that party has no chance at winning the current election?

Sure, that's a theoretical possibility. I voted for Nader over Gore mostly because (1) I didn't need to worry about Nader actually winning anywhere, or Bush winning NY's electoral votes and (2) I wanted to signal that there was a vote that wanted a lefter option than what the Democrats were offering.

In practice, in our electoral set up, I can't see that there are many situations where voting third party will actually have a good effect on anything, but if I could think of one, there wouldn't be anything wrong with doing it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:53 AM
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Voting for a third-party in a nationwide electoral contest is somewhat further out on the continuum of third-party-strengthening effectiveness than crawling through the sewers is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:53 AM
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Actually, because I live in NYS, where we have fusion voting, I don't think I've voted Democratic since Kerry. I vote for the Democratic candidates on the Working Families Party line, where they're usually cross-listed, for the same reason I voted for Nader.

(Kerry was also listed on the WF line, but I was nervous enough about something bizarre happening in that election that I voted for him as a Democrat, just because it felt more secure.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:56 AM
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I voted for Nader

I blame you for Bush.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:57 AM
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215

I'm not claiming the Unfogged posters and commenters are an effective, or an activist, opposition, but we're a sample of moderately leftish-wing people, mostly, and I don't know if you've noticed this, but we're unhappy with Obama. We weren't doing anything useful in opposition to Bush, either, but presumably anyone who was is out to our left, and I'll bet they're still doing whatever the hell it was that was useful about being an opposition.

It seems to me that the election of Obama led to a marked decrease in political posts on unfogged consistent with discouraged resignation.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:57 AM
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I mean, maybe it's just me, but I'd actually think "vote for a third party" would be somewhere less far out on the continuum than "crawl through the sewers".

GO ON! THROOOW YOUR VOTE AWAY!


Posted by: OPINIONATED KANG | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:57 AM
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241: Couldn't have had anything to do with the end of the presidential campaign, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:59 AM
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Within a month of Obama taking office, the EPA announced it would regulate carbon. This means that if Congress does nothing, the EPA can mandate emissions standards by itself.

Salazar is halting mining claims (and I think he wants to go after the Mining Claims Act itself, which would be amazing.)

Those are two big concrete ones that I can think of off the top of my head, but there are a ton of intangibles. The heads of agencies are the people I would choose, not compromises. The Bureau of Reclamation didn't cave to the fake protests this summer in the San Joaquin Valley, and has told my state agency that it intends to re-engage in the state water issues, which the feds completely neglected. They're listing species again. They're doing legitimate biological opinions.

I presume other agencies also do stuff, but I don't read that news.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:04 AM
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243: Also, LB and I sorta semi-retired from posting altogether, and we were more likely to put up purely political posts than the rest of the crew.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:08 AM
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Yeah. In my case, that was largely work-related. You wouldn't know it from how much I comment, but commenting all day is really compatible with getting work done (sorta) in a way that posting isn't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:09 AM
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I will admit that despite thinking myself well protected with cynicism, I had allowed a certain optimism to creep in that I only recognized once I became disappointed. His academic mannerisms made me comfortable, and the genuine popular passion that grew during the campaign seemed to offer a potential governing base that would allow him to take real progressive risks. Rationally, I didn't see any evidence he would take those risks, but it apparently affected me.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:24 AM
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His academic mannerisms made me comfortable,

This is so true for me, too. I find it difficult *not* to put faith in someone who speaks in neat, well organized paragraphs.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:28 AM
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the genuine popular passion that grew during the campaign seemed to offer a potential governing base that would allow him to take real progressive risks.

What hope I have left is what Megan's talking about -- good work out of the agencies, due to a flood of whirlyeyed progressives applying and getting for midlevel jobs there. Naive enthusiasm isn't all bad -- someone who worked for civil rights because that's what Jack Kennedy would have wanted if the bastards hadn't had him killed was doing good work even though they were awfully naive about Kennedy.

Sophisticated cynicism is probably the most likely to help you accurately evaluate the chances that anything good will ever happen, but isn't necessarily the best attitude to have in order to actually make anything better.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:31 AM
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Particularly after eight years of a guy who never mastered subject/verb agreement.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:32 AM
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248: I still like the guy, in the sense that one 'likes' people one only knows through the media. I try not to let it affect how I feel about what he does, but he remains personally appealing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:34 AM
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The other hope is that in countries where he's not actively going to war, he might be playing a long game. Fallows says that Obama's trip to China got some stuff done, and that address to Iran on No Ruz was awesome. He's not being belligerent anywhere new.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:43 AM
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Fallows says that Obama's trip to China got some stuff done,

This is true -- I would have put up a post linking to that Fallows series if I were posting much anymore.

Obama's in a weird place for talking about -- he's doing stuff that's so bad that I feel like I can't praise him. But there seems to be some praiseworthy stuff. It's the LBJ problem all over again -- how do you talk about someone that evil when they're doing good?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:48 AM
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It's the LBJ problem all over again -- how do you talk about someone that evil when they're doing good?

Mussolini made the trains run on time.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:57 AM
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Sophisticated cynicism is probably the most likely to help you accurately evaluate the chances that anything good will ever happen, but isn't necessarily the best attitude to have in order to actually make anything better.

Look "anything good will ever happen" or "anything better" is so very far from accurate evaluation. It is a pathetic groveling for crumbs.

All apologies to Megan, the point has to be "net good": some things better, some things worse, and on balance are conditions and prospects/possibilities improved?

Better parks and water projects +

entrenched permanent oligarchy +

endless war =

horrorshow.

For instance, I believe the healthcare bill makes the private insurance companies immeasurably stronger politically, and makes it nearly impossible for significant improvements in the future. Just as Finance is now too big to change, health insurance is about to become too big to reform.

And I believe this is the intention.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:58 AM
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My big disappointment with Obama was in assuming that his persistent "split the difference" approach (which I didn't care for from the get go, but then I'm kind of an asshole like that) would mean that progressives would *occasionally* get half a pie. But so far, operationally, it has seemed that every concession goes not just to the right side of the party, but to the other damn party. On this score, he's performing as badly or worse than Bill Clinton.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:59 AM
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Neo-liberalism is a long term political strategy to remove political power from the lower quintiles in order that the economic equality can be made irreversible.

They have learned a lot since the last Gilded Age.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:02 AM
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Sure. But what are you planning to do about it? Saying that it's all really really really really bad is probably true. But until we're all dead, or until the political situation is bad enough that suicide is preferable to continuing to live under such oppression, making things as much better as possible is the only thing that's going to do any good. And someone who got a job in the Department of the Interior in the naive belief that Obama was going to make everything wonderful is probably doing more to make things better than you are by loudly despairing on blogs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:02 AM
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257:should be "economic inequality" of course.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:03 AM
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This is more excellent news, the kind of thing that would never have happened under McCain, and the kind of thing that will materially improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of the most desperately poor people in this country.

Also, dsquared, if you're out there, you're an absolutely disingenuous piece of shit. As ever, you bullying fuck.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:11 AM
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Aw, come on. Isn't it nice getting trolled by someone with the capacity to be genuinely enraging?

Come to think of it, I miss baa.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:14 AM
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256 is just wrong. Really, click the link in 260. And then take seriously what Megan has been saying for months now. There are literally thousands of cases like what's happening to the Indian Health Service, or at the Park Service -- which is being funded, for the first time in years, in ways that allow scientists to do real research on habitat conservation and climate change -- or improved mileage standards, or whatever all else. We just don't know about these things, for the most part, because they're happening under the radar of both the mainstream media and all but the most specialized blogs.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:14 AM
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Also, I'm totally disappointed in Obama. I was even before I voted for him. But like LB, I live in the world of actual alternatives, rather than the possible pony, and so I continue to think that we got the best outcome we could have hoped for.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:16 AM
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I miss baa as well and find it cheering that dsquared has dropped in again, even if only to call us all morons.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:17 AM
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258

1) Open Left and Firedoglake were probably the most important forces in keeping the public option alive. They are becoming foci of political activism. Blogs, which are just another kind of community organizers are raising money for primary campaigns, for instance against Specter. The unions are too weak, the party leadership corrupt, blogs and the web are the future.

2) If, for a hypothetical, the gov't kills foodstamps, the answer is not to organize a food drive, or at least not to only do that, or primarily. This is a conservative, anti-liberal, anti-progressive response that weakens faith in collective action, nearly as bad as abandoning the union to do personal employment negotiation. I do not go as far as Lenin, but I do think about it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:17 AM
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264: I'm disappointed he didn't call us cunts.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:19 AM
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261: No. Really, it's not. I think dsquared is truly malicious and pathological*, and I celebrated the day he left this place.

* That I also think he's exceptionally smart -- I mean really, really bright -- and funny is entirely beside the point for me.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:20 AM
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265: When you've got a plan for how to fix everything (or anything would do, really), tell us about it? I'd love to be doing something effective.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:21 AM
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256 is just wrong.

I know it's not literally true; that's why I chose "seemed". Clinton was better than Bush Sr. or Dole on that sort of thing as well. But, as you say, those are all under-the-radar issues. I'm not running down their importance; heck, just having an administration that isn't actively and openly anti-science is refreshing. But I'd like, just once, to feel like the administration was willing to stand up for progressives in a public fight, and tell the reactionaries to go fuck themselves instead of how much he respects their feelings.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:25 AM
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But I'd like, just once, to feel like the administration was willing to stand up for progressives in a public fight, and tell the reactionaries to go fuck themselves instead of how much he respects their feelings.

That'd be a good time. Has it ever happened?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:26 AM
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I think FDR must have done that at least once.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:27 AM
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It certainly happened in reverse throughout Bush's term.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:28 AM
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Like, Franken's rape amendment that has the GOP spluttering with rage? Al Franken understands how to play this game.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:29 AM
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267. I'm forced to conclude that ari is really too thin skinned for the internet. That's not a criticism, it probably makes him a better person, but jeez, if you really think Daniel is pathological you need to get out more. He's a wind up artist, this wasn't his best work, but it's not mad, bad or dangerous to know. It's pretty much SOP in the circles I've moved in most of my life.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:31 AM
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269: As a gut reaction, I totally agree with you. As a matter of politics, I think I might agree with you, but I'm not confident enough to know for sure. That said, here's what I'd really like too see: for the Dems, especially in the Senate, to take strong and principled stands on a few issues, and to fight for them tooth and nail. I don't really need them to call Repubs names, so much as to stick to their guns on something important: a jobs bill, health care reform (which might be happening), climate change legislation. Rather than defaulting to the tack-to-the-center strategy all the time, I'd like to see embattled Dems fight the good fight. And I'd like to see that, not just because it would make me feel good, but also because I'm curious if they'd be rewarded by voters. Because I think the jury's out on that one.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:32 AM
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My college roommate had a nice Franken encounter -- she was biking around DC, saw him, but did that insane celebrity thing where she didn't place him by name, just as 'some guy I know somehow who's new in town'. And so she waved and yelled "Welcome to the neighborhood," and got a grin and a wave in return. And then remembered who he was when she stopped for the next light.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:33 AM
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274: Yeah, I hate to say things like 'his heart's in the right place' about someone as aggressively hostile as dsquared, but that's usually my impression.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:36 AM
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271: FDR wasn't a progressive.

274: This might be right. Well, not the part about me being a good person, but the part about the thin skin. And really, it's not cool for me to say more about someone who apparently isn't around at the moment. So I'm going to leave it be, if that's okay.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:36 AM
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Also, dsquared, if you're out there, you're an absolutely disingenuous piece of shit. As ever, you bullying fuck.

Dsquared is one of my favorite bloggers (well, maybe more like was -- he doesn't blog much anymore) -- I think I've actually read everything on his blog -- but this is completely correct.

As in, the only time I've ever actually engaged with him on this blog, he was bullshitting to me about what I do for a living, got called on it, and responded by launching a flurry of completely disingenuous and bullying personal attacks.

The sad thing is, what I do for a living is sufficiently obscure that I don't think this was really appreciated by anyone in the audience.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:36 AM
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273: well, sort of, I guess. Wasn't that more of a political gimmick? I mean, it banned the Pentagon from doing business with corporations that prevent employees from suing them in cases of sexual assault. Really--that's it? Would it really be too much to ask that we simply flatly prohibit employers from preventing their employees from suing them in cases of sexual assault?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:37 AM
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278: the operative phrase was "stood up for progressives in a public fight," not "was a progressive".


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:38 AM
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I'm not really sure what I could do to be either more radical or more pragmatic. I work a movement job, that I really believe in, for minimum wage. I teach and attend classes for the local alternative education organization. I go to protests. I buy books at both of the local radical bookstores. I attend radical conferences. I chip in extra over the suggested donation when I go to fundraisers. I've written to anarchist prisoners (although I should really do that more often.) I discuss politics with my family, my cow orkers, my friends and people I meet on the street (not that I'm a bore about it, you know, only if they seem interested.) I support my friends who have been brutalized by the police for political activism. Furthermore, I vote tactically in every election. I serve as an election judge. I make nice to the city employees and elected officials I come across. I'm a good neighbor to the people who live on my block.

I mean, if there were barricades being built, and molotovs being decanted, I'd be right there with people, and probably get shot by the cops for my trouble. But that's not the social context I live in. I was never that crazy about Obama. He seemed like the best of a bad lot (that lot being "actually electable presidential candidates") then, and he seems like that still. I knew he would betray his campaign rhetoric, and said so here. It was still nice to see him elected, if for no other reason that it pissed off the right wing, sending them into a lather of backstabbing and recriminations, which is still paying dividends today. (That's a big reason I've been happy to vote for Keith Ellison too, even though he is also far, far to the left of Obama, and would have been a decent choice anyway.)

So I'm just not going to take responsibility for either uncritical adoration of Obama or inaction.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:38 AM
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279: I'm not recalling it, I admit. (Actually, can I ask if you're a name-change or if you've always been c-i-e? I remember wondering if you were someone who'd quit the blog and come back, and people were supposed to get it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:39 AM
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282: If I were doing as much as you are, I'd feel pretty good about myself. Still pretty worried about the country, but at least as if I was doing what I could.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:41 AM
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Wasn't that more of a political gimmick?

Not really, no. It says that if you want to drink from that firehose of DoD dollars, you can't force your workers to sign away their rights under American law. But even if it was, it's precisely the sort of political gimmick the GOP has been pulling my entire life, and now they're all butt-hurt and whining about the unfairness of it all, and it just makes my shriveled black heart melt.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:43 AM
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282: there's really no need to go into it again. I was just struck by Ari's language, and I suspect that most people reacted to it like OFE did. But "disingenuous" and "bullying" are very appropriate words (as is "smart," but that's neither here nor there).


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:46 AM
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286 to 283, not 282.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:47 AM
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286: Oh, fair enough. I still usually enjoy it when he shows up, but I have a fairly high tolerance for aggressive hostility.

Oh, and to Ari: Have you finished Life On Mars yet? No spoilers if you haven't, but I just watched the last episode last night, and I can't think of another time I've watched a purportedly climactic episode of something and not felt like "Eh, climaxes are hard, and the rest of the show was pretty good." This sucker ENDED.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:59 AM
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I have a fairly high tolerance for aggressive hostility

Well imagine you are in a discussion about a topic you know tons about, with somebody who has a passing familiarity with it, in a community of people who are pretty clueless about it. Trust me, your tolerance for aggressive hostility would decrease considerably.

I mean, this isn't just about my precious wittle feelings; there's a reason I use the word disingenuous.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:03 AM
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289: Been there, and I still don't mind it much. This isn't because I'm a better or more person or anything, I just sort of like shouting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:06 AM
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More s/b more stable


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:08 AM
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290: Could also be the New York thing. I'm just sayin'.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:11 AM
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290 gets it right.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:12 AM
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279 - Yes, exactly that.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:16 AM
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294: and see, when I read you guys bickering, I was on his side. And I was fairly amused by the whole thing, and I thought he was clever and basically right.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:19 AM
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No, LB, I just finished the first episode of Series Two. Series Two is it, right? Also, 292 is anti-Semitic.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:25 AM
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Thing is, on the population/California/water thread that I think we're talking about, I still think dsquared was basically right that you can't control the population of California by controlling the California birthrate at all, because the borders are open. He (and a whole bunch of other people in the thread) seemed unnecessarily hostile and unpleasant about the awfulness of even thinking about policies intended to affect birthrates, but that doesn't make the initial point wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:26 AM
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It was still nice to see him elected, if for no other reason that it pissed off the right wing, sending them into a lather of backstabbing and recriminations, which is still paying dividends today.

I had forgotten about this factor, and found this comment rather cheering.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:27 AM
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New Yorkers are twisted motherfuckers. I mean, I've never met any, but I'm pretty sure.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:28 AM
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296: It just keeps on getting better. I'm getting a big poster of Philip Gleinster with a heart around it, Tiger Beat style, for my bedroom wall.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:28 AM
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296: I was actually going to make a Ratso Rizzo reference, but since Dustin Hoffman played the character, that would still probably be anti-Semitic then, wouldn't it?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:33 AM
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It was still nice to see him elected, if for no other reason that it pissed off the right wing, sending them into a lather of backstabbing and recriminations, which is still paying dividends today.

Making the Republican party far more extremist and crazy, in a system where they will nonetheless be returned to power when the state of the economy leads people to vote out the current ruling party? Doesn't sound good to me.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:42 AM
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New Yorkers are all Jews? It explains so much.

I think dsquared's burning but unrequited love for the man he once dreamed Tony Blair was is like a supperating wound in his chest, and last year he sincerely wanted to spare us that level of pain. But we wouldn't listen.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:48 AM
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Making the Republican party far more extremist and crazy

That's their own doing; they courted the lunatic fringe assiduously and made it plain that anybody to left of Attila wasn't welcome. All Obama's election did was bring the cracks out into the open and make the crazies shout louder. It's not like they weren't there before he was elected.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:49 AM
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"suppurating"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:51 AM
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Wow, the rare Sifu typo-correction. The Obama election has fucked up everything more than I had imagined.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:53 AM
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It was a typo? Now I feel like a different kind of jerk than the kind I was attempting to be.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:56 AM
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New Yorkers are all Jews? It explains so much.

To you, this is news?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:56 AM
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308 made me laugh.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:59 AM
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What 304 said. Plus, "don't make them mad, then they'll get really crazy" is a real loser of a strategy.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:05 PM
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309: Anti-semite.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:05 PM
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I just sort of like shouting

Really? I dunno, this is kind of like appreciating the snark skills of a Sarah Palin supporter. It's basically impossible for me, because a Sarah Palin supporter is a moron, and a snarky Palin supporter is an asshole moron. And while it may be fun to try to smack them around sometimes, I doubt that many people here can stomach reading snarky conservative blogs very often.

Yes, when someone who's on our side is snarky and devastating, that's all wonderful. I just don't think this is a matter of simply appreciating a particular style.

And I grew up in New York.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:05 PM
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Haven't years of Jewish comedians taught you that anti-Semitism is always funny?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:08 PM
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313:Well, I like shouting at people who are close enough to sane to be worth arguing with. I'm a bit of a bully myself, and while I try to keep it down to a socially acceptable level, it can be fun mixing it up with someone where I don't have to worry about whether I'm hitting too hard at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:12 PM
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I think if you're worried about how hard you're hitting, you're not a bully.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:30 PM
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314 is just mean.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:32 PM
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I was shattered, LB, and had to walk my dogs in the freeze to recover.

Here is Mike Lux from Open Left taking the "sane" side of the argument above. Should be read along with the comments, because Paul Rosenberg, maybe the political analyst I respect most, and the others take the insane side.

dsquared apparently went from here to Berube's, where after a calm and friendly discussion, they agreed that an "and" should be changed to an "or." Comity!

I don't know why people i respect get all servile and obsequious over at Berube's place. I didn't know Berube worked as a Pinkerton for consultant to administrations on faculty governance and organization.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:32 PM
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Barbar, I have reviewed the thread in question and concluded that a) I was basically right on all important points except the relative difficulty of US and Scottish actuarial exams, and b) you absolutely brought it on yourself.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 12:37 PM
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314: you're a bully? When you lose your footing in an argument, don't you say things like "I don't really know, but..."? That's really rather un-bully-like.

In my mind, clobbering someone when you're in the right is fine.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 1:04 PM
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This is getting ridiculously meta. I can't rate my own argumentative behavior in any objective sense. I worry about being overbearing when arguing with people whose conversational styles don't work that way, because I've gotten comments on my overbearingness from people who generally strike me as reasonable, and so I consciously try and tone it down. I therefore like arguing with people with a tendency to go for the throat directly, because it means that I don't have to feel even a little bad about taking the gloves off.

Whether or not that makes my self description as a bit of a bully accurate, I have no idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 1:09 PM
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I can't rate my own argumentative behavior in any objective sense.

Bullshit. I deal with your objective ratings of your own argumentative behavior every day at work, and you totally can, and are just being contrary.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 1:11 PM
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Whether or not that makes my self description as a bit of a bully accurate, I have no idea.

A bully would say something more like "That's more than enough to make me at least a bit of a bully, by any reasonable definition of the word."


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 1:12 PM
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This is great. The word 'bully' just did that 'losing all meaning' thing, and now sounds like the diminutive form of bull.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 1:14 PM
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It's a bully market!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 1:15 PM
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323: Well bully for it then.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 1:21 PM
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Oh good God.

"Actuaries (particularly life assurance actuaries) do often get bullied to change their estimates, but they tend to be much better at resisting this pressure, because they have a proper professional body which performs the twin functions of a) oversight of standards in the name of the profession as a whole, in the long term and b) ensuring a severe structural undersupply of qualified actuaries. The second is more important than the first, as it means that an actuary always has another job to go to."

I made fun of this comment as being naive, which really brought out the asshole in you. And that was fun at first, because you didn't know that I was an actuary. Meanwhile you were praising actuaries, and then you were praising global reinsurance actuaries, and then you were praising UK actuaries. And as someone who worked for a couple of years as a global reinsurance actuary in London of all places, I found the snark-fest less and less fun and more and more unpleasant.

By the way, did you know that the Casualty Actuary Society still offers something called the "Ronald Ferguson Reinsurance Prize"? It's in honor of someone currently sitting in prison for a fraud scheme involving AIG.

Whatever, asshole: I can't believe I'm getting sucked into this again. You got caught bullshitting about something you know more about than 99% of the population -- pretty unlikely event -- and so you turned into a super-asshole. You can dish it out but you can't take it.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 1:22 PM
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Having just re-read that thread, I just want to point out for D^2's edification:

http://www.insuranceerm.com/news-comment/dont-expect-too-much-of-catastrophe-models.html

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Katrina+exposes+fallibility+of+catastrophe+models.-a0139601636

http://taratamang.com/files/A_brief_history_and_overview_of_cat_modeling.pdf

After I left that thread, dsquared wrote:

ah! I've just realised what struck a false note with Barbar - it was the use of the example of Hurricane Katrina as the astounding event. Anyone really familiar with cat reinsurance would have said "Hurricane Andrew", because that was the one that really did freak some people out. Katrina was about twice as expensive as Andrew, but the possibility of seeing something twice as bad as the worst thing you've seen so far is the sort of thing actuaries live off - Andrew was much worse than twice as bad as the previous case (not that it was a wildly unusual storm - it was just amazingly precise in its tendency to hit expensive things).

Hurricane Andrew was ancient history; it was the event that prompted industry-wide acceptance of catastrophe models. Hurricane Katrina was a recent event and I personally witnessed adjustments made to catastrophe models in its aftermath.

Reinsurance companies worry about the tail of the loss distribution, primary insurance companies worry about the mean. A change to model assumptions will have a disproportionate impact on reinsurance pricing. It is not uncommon for different catastrophe models to produce wildly different expected losses for a reinsurance layer. More generally, determining the tail of a loss distribution is much more of an "art" than a "science," especially compared to determining the mean of a distribution.

These are just facts; they don't become less true if you act like an asshole. And if global reinsurance companies can profit even while facing these fundamental pricing challenges -- and I never said otherwise -- then attributing their success to their special use of actuarial science is even more wrongheaded.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 2:48 PM
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Going back to the topic, I feel much better now having seen (via sausagely) this clear concise illustration of US strategy in Afghanistan.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 4:16 PM
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Whatever, asshole: I can't believe I'm getting sucked into this again. You got caught bullshitting about something you know more about than 99% of the population -- pretty unlikely event -- and so you turned into a super-asshole. You can dish it out but you can't take it.

its really unfortunate that you showed up in all your innocent glory just ten minutes after some bastard with the same screen-name had been trying to bully Emerson.

and you're (still) wrong on the insurance analysis too. How does it feel to be in the top 98% of the population?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 4:29 PM
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As I said above, I don't have any problem with assholes who are right about stuff. I actually know what I'm talking about here. You're not clueless but you made two dumb statements -- that the professionalization of the actuarial career made actuaries immune to cooking the books, and that the global reinsurance industry was the one part of the insurance sector that really used "actuarial science." And because you can't admit that there might be something you can learn here, you'll just act like a disingenuous bully. We've been through this before.

I did appreciate how you came to Emerson's defense, with your argument about how a guild of professionals with some mathematical skill can guarantee better ethics and save finance from itself. Which reminds me, when are Merton and Scholes giving back their Nobel Prizes?

And for the record, I should make some corrections to what I wrote above. The Casualty Actuarial Society has renamed the Ronald Ferguson Reinsurance Prize the Reinsurance Prize, and Ronald Ferguson is not sitting in jail but is out appealing his 2-year sentence.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 4:49 PM
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Um, no offence, but actuarial work isn't that obscure. It's a rather boring profession but it's hardly like the Institute of Actuaries meet in a secret lair below Staple Inn. (I am not an actuary myself.) By the way dsquared, apparently UK fire claims in first half 2009 were up 20% on equivalent 2007* --- that line about arson-as-counter-cyclic and all.

He (and a whole bunch of other people in the thread) seemed unnecessarily hostile and unpleasant about the awfulness of even thinking about policies intended to affect birthrates, but that doesn't make the initial point wrong.

Personally, I found the whole set up ridiculously offensive because Megan, and I say this with affection, didn't have a fucking clue about what she was proposing --- I mean, she was conflating unplanned and unwanted. Then there's the fact that almost everyone who starts talking about People Breeding Too Fast turns out to be really rather icky, and normally it's the Other that's Breeding. And the fact that Megan seemed to see lawns as an inherent Californian birthright and impossible to change and how could you even talk about it, whereas the Catholic church's teachings on reproduction were merely some quaint traditions that would no doubt be swept away by the forces of nice middle-classness.

And just generally the whole fact that it was a ridiculous clusterfuck with no prospect of working.

I also didn't like the way people went oh well at least she has a Plan to deal with water shortages, because there's actually quite a lot of plans with laudable aims that ought to have been taken out and shot very early on, weren't, and ended up being worse than doing nothing. It isn't like having good intentions gets you a pass; good intentions are, comparatively speaking, easy.

I just found it really really arrogant behaviour by an engineer with no idea at all what she was proposing, which, not to relitigate it or anything (cough) really got on my nerves.

* I think, might be a slightly diff. stat.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:16 PM
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Also, remember that time you were all mean to me? Yeah? Well, I'm still angry at you, even if I leave nice comments occasionally, and despite the amount of time that has passed!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:25 PM
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Grudges! Grudges!


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:27 PM
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Keir, it's obscure enough that I don't think anyone here is going to weigh in on our silly little squabble.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:33 PM
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I'll say it, perhaps against my better judgment*: which thread (the Megan one, I mean) are you guys talking about? That is, I remember dsquared going off in a huff, which I recalled as having to do with Read, and I remember a thread in which Megan's thoughts on the state of California were aired amid some controversy, but I don't recall them as the same threads. Of course, also don't remember which threads they were.

* Which is to say, are we going to have to go through this every time dsquared posts a comment?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:33 PM
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332: I remember, Natilo. Something about anarchism. You're pro, is that right?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:37 PM
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You should click through the diagram I posted. It explains everything. I think the dsquared-Megan spat is somewhere up in the upper left hand corner.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:37 PM
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331.3: Sort of a shitty shot when your criticisms don't seem (unless I'm missing something) to have much to do with anything being discussed here. I'm sure someone could dredge up comments of yours that they thought were really, really arrogant and lacking a fucking clue, but what's the point?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:44 PM
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Excellent, Tom!

Uhhh, in fact, wow.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 5:45 PM
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This is going to end well.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:03 PM
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No, they have to do with dsquared being a cunt. I was explaining why people (or rather myself, given that's the only person who I can really talk about) were quite argumentative with Megan there. In particular, I wanted to push back on the notion that Dsquared was unnecessarily hostile and unpleasant there, apart from possibly on the actuarial front, which I really haven't the foggiest about.

Especially in the context of ari's rather unexpected rant about Dsquared's pathological-ness (really wtf?) I think it's worthwhile not to let it become `remember when dsquared went too far about megan's nice-but-impractical idea' because that's really not how it went.

I also think it's funny that people think Dsquared is noticeably aggressively hostile; he's hardly nice, but he's no worse than I am when I'm talking to mates, and in fact mainly he has a particular arguing style that I think is a bit unusual here but is actually pretty tame.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:05 PM
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Dsquared is awesome. He's just an intellectual brawler. Mixing it up on the internet is fun. People who want to censor the Dsquareds of the world want to drain the fun out of virtual life. (Of course, D-2 is sui generis so the reference to "of the world" is perhaps misguided).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:12 PM
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Thanks for dragging me back in, Keir. You're all class. But since I'm here, my point was that dsquared is fucking weird as hell: disappears in a huff, isn't seen for months and months, and then returns only to gloat about how all us rubes missed that Obama is flawed. Beyond that, I still don't feel like talking about someone when they're not around. So I'm not going to comment about him again. Really, I shouldn't have in the first place.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:14 PM
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(Of course, D-2 is sui generis so the reference to "of the world" is perhaps misguided).

Period in the parenthesis, please, and what is perhaps misguided is the plural "dsquareds"; being sui generis doesn't make him not of this earth.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:16 PM
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dude, we're arguing about someone who came back to say, and I almost quote, `I told you so nya-nya nya-nya'; class has not just flown out the window, it has made a concerted effort to reach Alpha Centauri before embarking on a further program of space exploration. It is not an issue at this point.

Apart from that I quite agree.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:18 PM
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Commenter-in-exile is awesome too, I don't mean to take sides, now that I read up and saw the brawling is ongoing.

I actually don't think the Unfogged community was particularly starry-eyed about Obama, although perhaps many were in the sense that Obama was perceived as much better than Hillary. But I read that more as demonizing of Hillary than adulation of Obama.

Obama has been pretty much what you'd expect -- he reflects the weaknesses and strengths of contemporary liberalism. If you think we're in real crisis, than that's weak tea. If not, it's a massive improvement on what came before. Both can be true.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:19 PM
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What's funny, Keir, is that I barely even count that thread. Dsquared was an asshole to me the day I appeared on the internet, was snide for another two years, all of which I ignored, because who is going to mix it up with Dsquared? When I did ask him to stop, he went apeshit. And then he got mean; the thread you're referencing was the second or third thread in which he deliberately went for me.

(As compared to the stupid shit he did before that, which was EXACTLY like c-i-e's 279, only, bogglingly, about my personal life. I do think that was just reflexive for him, and believed him when he said that he carried no conception of me at all when he wasn't talking crap about me in some thread.)

Second, you have drastically misunderstood what I think of CA water, which you could correct by reading my fucking water blog. You might go there, for example, and search for "lawn". I put it under my name to make it easy for you.

Third, I was fucking right.

Last, I think we're in the grips of an English/American language barrier. Of the people who miss my humor, I've seen a few Brits miss it the same way. And, I suspect Americans aren't used to you and Dsquared being aggressive the way you are. Even if you do talk to your buddies that way, it sounds aggressive here.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:23 PM
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Obama is either a V or a Doll.

Trust me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:28 PM
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If people are going to be cunts around here, the very least they can do is stick a mint in it.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:38 PM
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341: I was explaining why people (or rather myself, given that's the only person who I can really talk about) were quite argumentative with Megan there.

If "there" refers to the thread linked in 318, there's nothing in it about California and population control, at least nothing penned by Megan. That's all I was asking for in 335 -- the thread LB first mentioned it in 297.

I also think it's funny that people think Dsquared is noticeably aggressively hostile; he's hardly nice, but he's no worse than I am when I'm talking to mates, and in fact mainly he has a particular arguing style that I think is a bit unusual here but is actually pretty tame.

dsquared's style is noticeably aggressive, but he's a pussy-cat underneath. Megan may be right in 347: a certain type of people like to make nice, at least on the face of things, so dsquared's style causes a clutching of pearls.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:42 PM
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If people are going to be cunts around here, the very least they can do is stick a mint in it.

Would this be a good opening for noting that I have a date this weekend? No, I suppose that would be tacky. But should anyone wish to offer a pep talk... I enjoy spending time with witty, attractive people. But "dating" still makes me a little squeamish.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:48 PM
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Obama was perceived as much better than Hillary

I wasn't crazy about either, but Clinton had a well-established record of hawkishness and center-right leanings while Obama's was still fairly opaque, so it was the gamble to take. For me (and, I suspect, a lot of people like me), it was really important to send a message to the Democratic leadership to pull their heads out of their asses about Iraq.

Unfortunately, there has proven to be precious little ideological daylight between the two.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:48 PM
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351: "I just want to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you. "


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:50 PM
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dsquared's style is noticeably aggressive, but he's a pussy-cat underneath.

Now see, dsquared was a pussycat today at and with Berube, so I presume the two are sympatico. That bothers me, because Berube is a very serious destructive force who writes entire books trying to destroy the marginal, ineffective, and well-intentioned left for the sake of the very powerful center-left.

On the other hand I learned yesterday that dsquared gave Dennis Perrin a favorable review. How the hell can someone like both Perrin and Berube? It is a quandary.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:53 PM
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I don't think unfogged was very starry-eyed about Obama, and certainly I think the nya-nya bit from Dsquared, while formally brilliant and all was pretty much a cheap shot. But I do think Obama's been a bit of a disappointment compared to what we expected before he actually started governing.

Also, Megan, I think we've discussed this before --- I think I observed that Dsquared has no like of clever plans at all, and he has a good (another) cheap shot about engineers-in-politics? --- and I am hardly holding him up as a model of civility or anything. I just really don't think he crossed any lines at all there, and it's a bad idea to go back and say he did.

I do wonder if it is a cultural difference, or maybe a clever-guys-arguing politics thing. In some ways it's rather adversarial, because I don't think I (for one) always think that my position is entirely (or even mainly) correct, but that doesn't matter, because you argue it anyway, if that makes sense? It relies quite heavily on the other person playing the same game 'tho.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:54 PM
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350.2 really is beyond obnoxious and so passive-aggressive it makes me laugh out loud. Snack time, parsimon?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:55 PM
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351: I'm sure it will be fine. Are you going somewhere nice?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 6:56 PM
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353: Luck has not aged well. Don't know where we'll go. Ideas?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:00 PM
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356: It is! Snack time. And I was trying not to accuse you of being passive-aggressive yourself, so I hedged and hemmed and hawed and made a pearl-clutching remark that I hoped would pass. I try to obey the rules here.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:02 PM
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358: I was quoting Airplane.

Ideas?

Be yourself and wear something low-cut? I haven't dated in a long time, so I don't know.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:05 PM
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Or is that for making presentations?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:07 PM
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359: You should try harder. But only after your snack.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:08 PM
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360.1: I know.

I'm guesing I should not call him a cunt or accuse him of clutching pearls....


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:08 PM
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No one could accuse ari of being passive-aggressive in this thread, he's aggressive-aggressive.

Berube is a very serious destructive force who writes entire books trying to destroy the marginal, ineffective, and well-intentioned left for the sake of the very powerful center-left.

explain



Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:08 PM
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I know.

That's from Empire Strikes Back.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:09 PM
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explain

Asking bob to elaborate is always a good idea!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:10 PM
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Laugh it up, fuzzball.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:10 PM
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354: Now see, dsquared was a pussycat today at and with Berube, so I presume the two are sympatico. That bothers me, because Berube is a very serious destructive force who writes entire books trying to destroy the marginal, ineffective, and well-intentioned left for the sake of the very powerful center-left.

bob, I actually read that Berube thread you linked; I don't regularly read his blog. Interesting. I don't know much about his book or his emerging narrative about intraparty warfare within/among the left, so being bothered by the exchanges is premature, for me, but thanks for pointing to it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:10 PM
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367: Depending on who you're dating, Star Wars quotes might be good. And I am thinking of growing a beard for no other reason than I've never had facial hair before.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:13 PM
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362: You should try harder.

Nah.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:14 PM
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364.1: Yeah, that's what I thought. I'm actually a bit puzzled, as I was pretty sure she was directing her obnoxious/passive-aggressive comment at Megan. I mean, I know I have to ramp up my aggression to play with the big boys, but still, I thought I was pretty direct and dickish upthread.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:14 PM
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I just really don't think he crossed any lines at all there, and it's a bad idea to go back and say he did.

Right, but people who do think he crossed lines there, perhaps sensitive American lines, ought to be able to say so.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:15 PM
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Serious question, Keir, because I appreciate your engagement with the conversation. This

I don't think I (for one) always think that my position is entirely (or even mainly) correct, but that doesn't matter, because you argue it anyway, if that makes sense?

is known as arguing in bad faith, no? Unless you're 100% certain that the other person is playing the same game, I mean. Then it's forensics or something.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:19 PM
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Well, yes, I just think they are wrong.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:19 PM
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372 to 351


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:19 PM
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369: I have occassionally opined that beards are for men who need to hide their ugly mugs. But honestly, a neatly groomed beard can be kind of nice. Every guy should probably try it at least once.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:19 PM
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That's how I read it too, Ari. Don't know whether getting my back has been one of your motivations, but I've appreciated it.

(Although in general I think getting another commenter's back makes comment threads escalate quickly.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:19 PM
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376=Me


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:20 PM
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that's not to ari.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:20 PM
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Further to 373, I guess it's also called trolling, right?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:22 PM
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377.2 Dammit Megan. You previously argued to the contrary!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:23 PM
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I was pretty sure she was directing her obnoxious/passive-aggressive comment at Megan

I didn't think Parsimon's comment was obnoxious -- she was probably trying to navigate the same split I feel, which is that I adore and respect Megan but get a kick out of D-squareds flair and style and think it adds to the atmosphere. But that's a split that can't be bridged in a line from a third party.

In trolling news, I recently stopped by one of those racist IQ-fundamentalist sites that was crowing about "Climategate" and pointed out that the scientific basis for global warming was about a hundred times stronger than the scientific basis of IQ. Which do you think is the better trolling approach, hanging around to defend your statement or just a hit-and-run type thing? I get too tired to really defend my trolling any more.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:26 PM
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If I'm following you, Keir, you think people who think Dsquared crossed lines are wrong because he argues in a style you're comfortable with.

I don't think it follows that it is a bad idea for them to report that it broke their conventions for arguing. If it did bug them, it is not a bad idea, nor inaccurate, for them to say it bugged them. Even if it doesn't bug you.

***
Lest it come up again, if I'm in a big argument over something, I am sincere and arguing something I really care about. I hate arguing, and avoid it for anything trivial. I am not ever playing this game:
I don't think I (for one) always think that my position is entirely (or even mainly) correct, but that doesn't matter, because you argue it anyway, if that makes sense? It relies quite heavily on the other person playing the same game 'tho.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:27 PM
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377.2: I agree. In fact, I've done about six things in this thread that I'm not especially proud of. But there it is. The subject matter just gets my blood angried up. In fact, several of the subjects have been hot-buttons for me.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:27 PM
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is known as arguing in bad faith, no?

spoken like someone who believes positions can be entirely correct. I assume my positions have something wrong with them, and the process of communicating them to others will reveal that.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:29 PM
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381 - I should reconcile?

I'm guessing you're referring back to times when I've said to call out asshole behavior. Yes, I think that. I also think that sometimes I'm not in a fight with someone and someone will take offense on my behalf, way more than I do. Or it bugs me more to see a friend slighted than the same slight would bug me. I guess I think both things.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:32 PM
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I didn't think Parsimon's comment was obnoxious

Color me stunned. Look, Megan had just explained, for the umpteenth time, how much another commenter had upset her and why. And then parsi, who, by my reckoning, has a long history of butting into conversations, said that, as usual, she didn't really know what was going on and couldn't be bothered to read the threads in question, but Megan was clutching her pearls. But actually, it turns out that parsi was saying that I was clutching my pearls. Either way, that's an obnoxious thing to say, especially in light of the circumstances.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:32 PM
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385: I just realized that I'm not interested in being trolled by you tonight, PGD. But you're a real prince for trying.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:33 PM
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386: You make perfect sense.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:35 PM
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It is fun for me to argue "in bad faith", but only if I'm adopting an obviously cynical or satirical pose. Which is rarely the case when I argue politics and economics. Maybe when I argue about actuarial topics too.

What Keir is describing just sounds like standard piss-taking to me, which everyone around here does a little bit (except Shearer), but with fewer instances of the Scottish Word.

It also sounds like what my two most obnoxious straight-boy friends like to do to show how clever they are.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:36 PM
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391

she was probably trying to navigate the same split I feel, which is that I adore and respect Megan but get a kick out of D-squareds flair and style and think it adds to the atmosphere.

Dude, I enjoy Dsquared too. If I didn't think it would mean that he'd go for me again, I'd be happy to see him back.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:41 PM
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Or go for anyone else here. Of course it is fun to watch him go for someone I don't like, like the former Bush administration.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:43 PM
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d² crossed a lot of lines over an extended period of time with Megan. I didn't notice it all at the time, but once it'd been pointed out it was very evident when I read old threads, and mostly gratuitous. She isn't imagining it.

Keir, you have been a bit of a dick in this thread, even in the areas where you're colourably correct.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:44 PM
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I miss dsquared.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:44 PM
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And then parsi, who, by my reckoning, has a long history of butting into conversations, said that, as usual, she didn't really know what was going on and couldn't be bothered to read the threads in question,

Alright, I have to respond to this, ari.

Ditch the "has a long history of". Really.

said that, as usual, she didn't really know what was going on and couldn't be bothered to read the threads in question

You know, what I said, twice, was that I'd like a link/reference to the thread referred to, and hadn't seen one yet. I read them at the time, and may well have commented in them; I have not said that I didn't know what was going on. I cannot identify the thread referred to, however. Find it for me if you know. I don't bookmark threads for future reference.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:47 PM
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spoken like someone who believes positions can be entirely correct. I assume my positions have something wrong with them, and the process of communicating them to others will reveal that.

If you can identify specific propositions you think might be wrong, you should put them forward as such, not argue for them. Otherwise you should be prepared to affirm that your position is entirely correct. Fallibility is a universal, which means, don't worry about it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:49 PM
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Fallibility is a universal

Speak for yourself.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:51 PM
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Fallibility is a universal, which means, don't worry about it.

But I make maps of minefields for a living.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:51 PM
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Sort of pwned.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:52 PM
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391: yeah, I realize it's different when you're more directly on the receiving end. It's the eternal problem around here -- we need a way to call people out for bruising feelings without implicitly saying they need to STFU and get out. In a weird way the place is almost too tight-knit for strongly differing communications styles.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:53 PM
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Thanks, wispa.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 7:59 PM
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396: seriously, I don't think about it that way at all. Beliefs are not divisible into a series of propositions, some of which are wrong and some of which are right. All beliefs are correct from some perspectives and incorrect from others. Arguments introduce you to different perspectives. I cannot anticipate in advance the perspectives from which my beliefs will seem to be wrong.

There's a certain laziness in this view, as it's easier to put your views out there and get feedback than it is to introspect intensely on all the ways others might disagree with them. There are definitely people who are better at seeing those differing perspectives in advance than I am.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:00 PM
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No I wouldn't say it's bad faith. It isn't that you think the position is wrong, it's just that you don't have to think it's the last word in correctness.

So you take a position, and you argue for it, well aware that really, it might be wrong, and it might have flaws and all that. --- such that, if you were ruler of the universe, you wouldn't immediately set out to Make It So. But that isn't that you think the position is wrong, just that it isn't final. And you rely on the person you're talking to to call you on the gaps in the argument, and if they don't then it's a bit difficult.

Bad faith implies you are arguing for reasons you aren't upfront about, but that's not what's at issue here. And it very much isn't trolling, because the idea isn't to disrupt, it's to discuss, and to be accepting of human frailty.

(I have to say that I tend not to argue like that about politics here, because basically that voice doesn't come across here. But I think there was a time in the past when it did. I also think unfogged can be very totalising in terms of voice; you will assimilate, and I don't think that's a very good thing, although I know others disagree. Which is one reason I think calling dsquared pathological is odd; he's really not that out there in terms of presentation, even allowing for the fact that he's very much sharper here than elsewhere.)

I am also quite sure I have been a dick here. (And I am going to be even more dickish in the next sentence: I wonder if I didn't say certain dickish things, would that be even more dickish? And really it wouldn't be, the problem is that I amn't saying things right.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:10 PM
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Speaking of anarchism, "The Take" is an incredible documentary.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:12 PM
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Right, I agree with Keir in 403.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:13 PM
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pathological

That was poor word choice on my part. At the very least, I was being incredibly imprecise and very likely also hyperbolic.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:16 PM
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I also think unfogged can be very totalising in terms of voice; you will assimilate

I don't see this at all. The only "voice" that gets policed at all here (and then not always) is gratuitous ad hominems.


Posted by: The 85th President | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:17 PM
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407: That's horseshit, 85th.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:18 PM
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Oh, thank god, Stanley.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:27 PM
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403, 407: I think there's a strong sense that, at the end of the proverbial day, "we" are all on more or less the same page - that's the sense in which Keir is correct. At the same time, I think that genuinely contentious threads are worked through at great length and in great detail, and it's very far from the case that someone who shows up with a differing viewpoint will be beaten down until s/he submits (which is how I would characterize Keir's language). Indeed, I think it's fairly common for the apparent consensus after ~25 comments to be completely upended (or at least moved pretty far) after 200.

By contrast (and I'm sorry to bring it up again), when I get engaged in contentious threads on the baseball blog where I comment, there can be lively, intellectually honest give and take, but the parties who are most engaged rarely budge from the positions with which they started, regardless of how the discussion goes (iow, in some threads their positions seem to have the weight of the evidence, and in others they don't, but they never actually acknowledge having gotten the worse of the give-and-take).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:27 PM
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Hey JRoth. I don't suppose you'd want to take this somewhere a little more comfortable? Maybe you'd like to see some of my etchings?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:31 PM
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BTW, I think apo's characterization in 352 is dead-on in describing the general Obama attitude around here - mildly skeptical (with a handful of True Believers) but very firmly in favor of Obama over Hillary, which led to a lot of hyperbole in favor of Obama in order to, let's say, mask their fundamental similarities.

I'd say that pro-Obama commenters were willing to argue for a best-case Obama that was quite unrealistic (or at least unlikely), which led to a sense that there were more unrealistic expectations than actually pertained.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:32 PM
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411: Shit! I meant to go back there and check for further discussion.

I would love to, uh, see your etchings, but I believe that my wife is awaiting me in our brand new bed.

'Night, all.

PS - Yes, it's a heat-welding process. Or at least certain joints are welded with this bead material that gets heated (the Pennrose tile thing shows the heat-weld bead as the joint-line). Maybe inlays aren't necessarily welded, but there would be inevitable gaps, and I don't see what would keep them pristine. Anyway, cutting is basically done with a matte knife. If you're really good with a matte knife, you can do it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:41 PM
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I don't think it's the case that people with different views get beaten down so much as people who don't express them in the right way, which is pretty oriented towards a certain liberal middle-class american set of values, get very short shrift.

(I mean, do you remember when somebody sorrowfully said about a commenter that had left, o, they'd probably never read Gaudy Night, this place just wasn't for them, or something like that? Not one of my favourite moments, and it's kind of stuck with me. Unfogged: Sayers people.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:42 PM
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a long history of butting into conversations

Butting into conversations? In blog comment threads? B-but, the whole, um, yeah, forget it.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:42 PM
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Etched linoleum?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:43 PM
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Cool. Maybe I'll ask you more questions later. Thanks.

Night.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:43 PM
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o, they'd probably never read Gaudy Night, this place just wasn't for them

Someone said that? Really?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:45 PM
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415: Yeah. Weird.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:46 PM
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dsquared's style is noticeably aggressive, but he's a pussy-cat underneath.

How do you know?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:48 PM
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369, 376: On Star Wars and men's facial hair: the one time I grew a full beard (a wild, thick, ungroomed reddish thing), I ran into a friend who told me it made me look like an Ewok. Off it went that very afternoon.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:49 PM
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420: Oh, I think a person can make him purr if a person wants to.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:52 PM
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a friend who told me it made me look like an Ewok

When not donning a beard, I've been likened to a squirrel. It occurs to me only now that this is most certainly an underlying reason for me donning a beard. That and shaving laziness.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 8:56 PM
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It just is not a good idea for me to go beardless. I wish I could grow a full beard, though. Instead I get the goatee and a lot of not much.

Also, could somebody please fix the weather? It hasn't been below freezing since last winter. It's December! What the fuck? Don't get me wrong, I like not wearing a jacket, but this is completely freaky.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:03 PM
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422: is there something you're not telling us about your relationship with dsquared?

it's very far from the case that someone who shows up with a differing viewpoint will be beaten down until s/he submits (which is how I would characterize Keir's language

it's not abstract disagreement -- someone who offends someone else personally in a way that is perceived to violates group norms, or the norms of the most active/respected majority, certainly will get beaten down. Power and status come in in the importance of one persons' hurt feelings compared to anothers...who will come to their defense, will the group perceive the gripe as legitimate?

On the other hand, I really do value the way the group sticks with arguments, even if its maddening sometimes. I've had my views on things changed here in ways that are difficult to achieve in other contexts. This place is unusual -- how many other contexts are there where a diverse group of people who are in one sense tightly knit and in a continuing relationship, but in another sense near-strangers, engage in massive conversations about sensitive topics, lasting hours or days? Maybe the closest is the workplace.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:04 PM
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424: It's supposed to snow in parts of Virginia tonight. And it's definitely (and suddenly) cold here. I blame dsquared.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:09 PM
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424: And here I've spent the whole day hoping that it doesn't actually snow tomorrow.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:10 PM
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It's even a bit cold here, and it's bumming me out, because we've vowed not to raise the thermostat above 62 this winter.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:11 PM
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So weird.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:11 PM
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On the other hand how awesome is it that we derailed the metathread? Now we can talk about what's really important: me!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:12 PM
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415, 419: I didn't want to use "nannying", which would have been stronger, because parsimon/you has/have expressed irritation with that word before.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:13 PM
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we've vowed not to raise the thermostat above 62 this winter.

Please come talk sense into my roommate. We've agreed to 67° after lengthy negotiation and even after my very generous offer of 64°.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:14 PM
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430: Oops. So how is you?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:14 PM
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423: The facial-hair-wearing me (without trimming, because I'm usually all or nothing that way) makes the facial-hair-wearing you look like David Niven. After shaving my big old beard, I had a mild freakout because suddenly my face looked so tiny.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:14 PM
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432: 62 turns out to be cold on a damp evening. But whoever said an homage to Jimmy Carter would be easy?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:15 PM
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I mean, I suffer for my art.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:15 PM
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I stick with 65° most of the time. Though occasionally when it feels really cold, I go with 68°.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:16 PM
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people who are in one sense tightly knit and in a continuing relationship, but in another sense near-strangers,

That's a lot of the internet right there. A fascinating, and optimistic experiment.

We've raised the overnight temp to 55, because we have the 1st grade guinea pig* this weak. During the day, the temp is set to 60, but sedentary people at their computer routinely raise it up.

I just purchased The Take. And will now do more x-mas shopping in the wrong condition to shop.

*Hershey, whose moods vary from anxious to terrified.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:16 PM
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You need the sweaters to be Jimmy. Do you have the sweaters, ari?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:17 PM
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But whoever said an homage to Jimmy Carter would be easy?

The people who said STFU to Republicans who got pissed off and said the Russians and Chinese would invade Panama, when Carter agreed to give them the Canal a bit early?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:18 PM
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My friends came over the other day and made fun of me for having the seat so high, but I misunderstood, and turned it up higher. It's not my fault! Our apartment gets remarkably warm. Because it's on the top floor, maybe? We've been doing 65, although I think it may be a bit lower than that right now. Of course, it hasn't actually been cold outside.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:18 PM
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Mostly cozy sweatshirts. I'll suffer for my art, but not much.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:21 PM
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You're all making me feel guilty for having my thermostat set so high. But I'm never really convinced it's accurately measuring the temperature of my apartment.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:21 PM
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Christ, I need to insulate this goddamn house. It's not supposed to be freezing here this time of year. Course, if I went back to VT and complained about 32 degrees, I'd get my ass kicked.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:22 PM
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443: No worries. I'm sneakily giving my numbers in Centigrade.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:23 PM
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It's pretty quaint to hear some people talk about cold. (We're getting into negative territory Sun and Mon, but I'll be out of town, getting my ass frosted metaphorically, rather than literally.)

I've never really understood the appeal of mean-spirited argumentation as entertainment -- one's own argumentation, or that of others -- but I'm in a clear minority in not really sharing it, as Mr. Limbaugh and Mr Squared would probably both agree. Fortunately, it's easy to avoid Mr. Limbaugh, and to tune out a conversation on the internet that's taken a turn.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:25 PM
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how many other contexts are there where a diverse group of people who are in one sense tightly knit and in a continuing relationship, but in another sense near-strangers, engage in massive conversations about sensitive topics, lasting hours or days?

There are a couple of other blogs where those kinds of conversations occur -- Crooked Timber at times, Making Light. Sometimes I wish that conversations here lasted longer than a day. Things are often so rapid-fire that it's difficult to pick up a subthread that occurred more than a few hours ago.

It may be in part because a number of unfogged people know each other in other contexts -- via their respective personal blogs, or in real life, or now via Facebook -- that on-blog controversies are quashed early on.

I think we've been around this block before, with respect to the dominant/most-active voice here, the sort of 'certain liberal middle-class american set of values' Keir refers to.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:26 PM
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We go down to 58 at night. But we have heavy down comforters, so it doesn't really hurt. Anyway, what's insulation?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:27 PM
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431: lame.

Now we can talk about what's really important: me!

anything is preferable to the weather.

I have to work all fucking weekend, but I'm waiting for my g-friend to get home before I can go to sleep. Working 12 straight days is going to suck...I need intense periods of loafing to handle life. And it ruins the dry cleaning cycle, dunno what I'll wear.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:27 PM
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We've moved on to facial hair and griping about the weather, parsimon.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:28 PM
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Sometimes I wish that conversations here lasted longer than a day.

The conversation you just commented on currently has two days and fourteen hours by the official clock.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:30 PM
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I need intense periods of loafing to handle life.

The glue that binds Unfogged together!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:30 PM
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Go fuck yourself, PGD. As I've said before, you're a boring troll. You don't even get under my skin any more, because your act is so stale.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:31 PM
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453 to 405.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:34 PM
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434: I had a mild freakout because suddenly my face looked so tiny.

This made me laugh, in a snorting kind of way, out loud. I'd be willing to call it a guffaw, I admit it. So great.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:34 PM
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Anyway, what's insulation?

Some new thing, apparently. Lord knows none of the houses around here was built with it.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:35 PM
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451: The conversation you just commented on currently has two days and fourteen hours by the official clock.

You're right! Cool.

The hostility is getting to me here now. Weather: probable snow tomorrow.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:45 PM
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Guys!

I have this idea about saving water/birth control. I'd like to share it with you all, but only if it's going to everybody very angry.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:46 PM
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The hostility is getting to me here now.

Honestly, parsimon, then you should consider being less hostile.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:49 PM
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Guys!

I've been thinking a lot about parties recently. Want to know what I came up with?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:50 PM
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460: Throwing a saving water/birth control couch off the roof?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:52 PM
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459: Fuck. Fine, ari, I'll do that. Why don't you do that as well. Then we can go both go dancing off in our respective ways without sniping and backbiting. That'd be an improvement. What say: mutual ignore?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:55 PM
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A giant slanket party?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:55 PM
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460: Vaginal bitters?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:55 PM
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If you don't, you don't understand fun.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:55 PM
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Linoleum-tiling parties?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:56 PM
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I WILL NOT LET LIFE OR DEATH STAND IN THE WAY OF THIS SUBLIEM AND FUNKY LOVE THAT i CRAVE


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:56 PM
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A party with lots of dead plants and ammonia rags?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:57 PM
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I do really want to know.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:59 PM
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Now I know why Megan set fire to that couch and threw it off the roof: to keep people from procreating on it. The small amount of water used to douse the flames is trivial compared to the water saved by preventing all those births.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 9:59 PM
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460.1 to 460.2


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:00 PM
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I WILL NOT LET LIFE OR DEATH STAND IN THE WAY OF THIS SUBLIEM AND FUNKY LOVE FLOORING THAT i CRAVE


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:00 PM
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I do really want to know.

RTFA!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:11 PM
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I like it better as an self-referential loop, and don't really want to re-visit that thread. You don't have to correct it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:16 PM
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oh come on, I got the reference. And, at the same time, I want to talk about parties.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:23 PM
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474: I'm sorry. 460 made me laugh out loud, by the way.

475: Phew! I was pretty surprised that you seemed not to know that seminal piece of Unfogged lore.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:28 PM
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Oh no - totally fair game, since I brought it up. Glad it made you laugh. Making someone laugh out loud feels like winning the internet.

Text, I don't really have any new thoughts on parties. Oh, except that pancake-oriented get-togethers are awesome.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:40 PM
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Actually I think Megan was right about fun.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:42 PM
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pancake-oriented get-togethers

Wait, it turns out I didn't understand M fun at all! My wife is going to be very upset.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 10:45 PM
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All beliefs are correct from some perspectives and incorrect from others.

This is really one of the stupider things I've read in quite some time. Race-based theories of inferiority, say, are correct from some perspectives? Flat earthers are correct? If so, the definition of "correct" is so degraded as to be meaningless.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:02 PM
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Oh, Sir Kraab, you're just so hopelessly middle class in your worldview.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:11 PM
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I know, I know. It's a curse.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:21 PM
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who is going to mix it up with Dsquared?

Oh! Oh! Me! Me!

Looks like I missed my chance on this thread, though. Anybody want to talk about kittens?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:26 PM
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All kittens are delicious from some perspectives, and scrumptious from others.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:30 PM
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I'd claim I'd never heard of Gaudy Night but even google has threads where it's mentioned. I guess I tune out almost all of the literature threads here, as it's almost never something I've read.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:32 PM
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453: hey, fuck you too Ari, you pompous obnoxious twit. McManus had you pegged.

But enough of that.

This is really one of the stupider things I've read in quite some time. Race-based theories of inferiority, say, are correct from some perspectives? Flat earthers are correct? If so, the definition of "correct" is so degraded as to be meaningless.

Keir put it better in 403 -- it's not that everything is totally relative, it's that very few positions are final. Some hypothetical space traveller who didn't understand the perspective from which the earth is flat would be missing something. Couldn't paint a landscape.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:44 PM
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Is this the comment referred to in 414? I don't see that interpretation of it - seems more like, "I wonder if this person also has these tastes."

But this place does certainly have a lot of people with knowledge of the stuff in the list. Not me, though, except a couple Thurber stories.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:47 PM
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I don't know what the fuck this thread is about though, except the general tendency to see coherence in these comment threads when there isn't really. Just differences of opinions along fairly narrow - but probably not exceptionally narrow - ranges. Actually, it may be that looking at comments makes this place seem more coherent than looking at commenters.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:50 PM
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484: Damn, I should've made that joke right off the bat. I'm holdin' on too tight, I've lost the edge. Time to turn in my wings.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:51 PM
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DS! How's things? Did I see you in the CT thread about West? Or was that another DS?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:53 PM
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This reminds me: is the NickS who comments sometimes at CT the NickS who comments here? I've been wondering this for years.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:57 PM
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Hey Ari! Yeah, that was me. I figure instead of cursing the darkness of CT comments threads, I might as well light a candle. Made of kittens.

Sucks to see you and parsimon fighting, by the by. You're two of my favorite collections of onscreen textual pixels, and this is going to complicate my daily web-stalking endeavors immensely.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 4-09 11:59 PM
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In context it read, to me, at the end of a thread talking about shared assumptions and culture etc as very canon-y and norming, and it really didn't impress me, because I think that's one thing unfogged has too much of.

(and by the way DS, sorry for being so sharp about the Tolkien thing; the bugger and off indulge resentment line wasn't meant to be taken literally and it was too far anyway.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 12:05 AM
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A general OT note for all before I toddle off to bed: Waltz with Bashir is a very good movie, and you should see it. Merry thread to all, and to all a good night.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 12:05 AM
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492: I was no fan of that thread. Nor, really, do I think that review is as good as everyone else thinks it is. Otherwise, sorry make things complicated. It's been that kind of day, I'm afraid.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 12:06 AM
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(493: the bugger and off indulge resentment line wasn't meant to be taken literally

Oh. Oops. Uhhh, no worries, water off a duck's back, honestly... but I did wander off and resentfully bugger someone right after that and told them it was on your advice, so you might be getting an awkward e-mail. Totes sorry about that.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 12:09 AM
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495: Must say I was perversely entertained by whatshisface showing up and slagging off Cornel West on supposed behalf of the rilly real black academics.

Now, really good night.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 12:14 AM
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"If you didn't like your surprise resentful buggering, please complain to K-E-I-R dot L..."


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 12:15 AM
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493: Yeah, I can see that a bit. I posted before I realized just which thread that was.

I do like how some people, not always the same ones, usually jump in to declare that they don't share various assumptions and culture when that gets asserted (as does happen later on in that thread). That's also a sign of similarity in behavior among people here, but that's ok.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 12:15 AM
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Back to the important things: I remember being really impressed by Obama's race speech, when it was about race in the U.S. I remember being disappointed - or maybe just cringing - when he made claims about other countries.

I expected foreign policy and financial policy to change very slowly from Obama to Bush, but it still sucks to watch that happen.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 12:20 AM
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Damn you (collectively, to whom it applies) for sending me to that CT thread.

(By the way, is it 2005? I can't find any other explanation for the posts about things said at the Vo/okh blog.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 1:12 AM
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All beliefs are correct from some perspectives and incorrect from others.

I have beliefs concerning the amount of money in my wallet.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 1:12 AM
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Plus, if that's the way you think about belief and argument, I'm inclined to say that all your arguments are in bad faith, and none is worth attending to.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 1:13 AM
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I really did have higher expectations wrt rule of law. Not wrt Afghanistan: he's doing more or less what he promised in the campaign. Not that these are linked, but I'd feel a lot better about O's deferring to the brass on some stuff if he was more willing to say 'fuck you' when they are absolutely in the wrong. Like those pictures. Or the Uyghurs.

BTW, was just looking at the numbers on GTMO. In 2008 & Jan 2009, GWB released 36 men. 3 had court orders to the effect that their detention was unlawful, one finished his sentence, and so 32 were acts of executive discretion. Since the inauguration, Obama has released 29. 17 had court orders, and 2 had extradition requests, which leaves 10 as acts of executive discretion. I would not have expected this up to maybe April 2009, and it's still kind of surprising.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 1:25 AM
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Take a closer look at the 10, and we see plus and minus:

Feb 09: The Ethiopian guy whose torture was about to become public and undeniable went to the UK.
Jun 09: An Iraqi and 3 Saudis went home.
Aug 09: Two Syrians to Portugal.
Sep 09: Two Uzbeks to Ireland.
Dec 09: One from the West Bank to Hungary.

I think at least 7, and as many as 9 of these men were cleared under Bush. So this isn't about closing the prison or bringing the rule of law to DOD, so much as it's about using newfound diplomatic leverage to get cleared men out one by one. Now if there were 50 cleared men in the prison on Inauguration Day, this is going to be a slow process. As everyone understood it would be, once O clearly decided to follow GWB's idiotic position on the Uyghurs.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 1:42 AM
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Jesus Christ.

"Hey, I hate that pathological asshole because he's mean and disingenuous." "Hey, you passive aggressive jerk, be more fucking nice and less hostile!" [insert weird joke or fake self-deprecation or friendly weather reference clearly designed to restore nice-guy credibility] "Hey, you boring troll, be more fucking civil!"

When everyone looks like an uncivil asshole, maybe it's time to consider that the asshole is you.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 1:48 AM
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maybe it's time to consider that the asshole is you.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 5:50 AM
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Thanks, Apo. For reasons unrelated to this thread, that clip was utterly needed and wonderful this morning.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 6:19 AM
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Wikipedia seems to think that "linoleum" was the first genericide.


Posted by: turgid jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 6:41 AM
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Some hypothetical space traveller who didn't understand the perspective from which the earth is flat would be missing something. Couldn't paint a landscape.

I am so confused by this statement. Is it supposed to be a joke?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 6:43 AM
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"Linoleum" is my favorite NOFX song, but I can't link to it because I can't youtube search from this machine. Trust me, though; it's great.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 8:04 AM
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Some hypothetical space traveller who didn't understand the perspective from which the earth is flat would be missing something. Couldn't paint a landscape.

This may be one of the dumbest things I've ever read. Poor hypothetical space traveller weeping softly, watching Bob Ross and just not getting it!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 8:19 AM
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PGD is just giving confused expression to the central ideas of Husserl's Umsturz der kopernikanischen Lehre: die Erde als Ur-Arche bewegt sich nicht.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 8:36 AM
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When everyone looks like an uncivil asshole, maybe it's time to consider that the asshole is you.

OTOH, this is the interwebs. The chances that everyone else really *is* an uncivil asshole are pretty damn high.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 8:45 AM
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nosflow from what I can tell (which, without JSTOR or the ability to read German, isn't much), that appears to require a previously unimagined level of generosity on your part.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 8:49 AM
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This may be one of the dumbest things I've ever read.

The key word being "may"; dumbest from some perspectives, smartest from others, now that we can perceive the ideas in their ineluctable historicity. Indeed, one suspects that the roundness of the Earth is, finally, the very concept of the game.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 9:04 AM
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511: But "Idiot Son of an Asshole" is good, too!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 9:20 AM
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516: yes, yes, and the hypothetical space travelers support you in e-mail.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 9:43 AM
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Of course the earth is spherical. It's just that we live on the inside surface...


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 10:17 AM
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This reminds me: is the NickS who comments sometimes at CT the NickS who comments here? I've been wondering this for years.

No I am not (and, incidentally, he spells his name Nick S with a space). I think that example supports LB's preference against name+initial, but I'm not inclined to change my handle at this point.

Also, skimming CT recently, I happened to notice DS saying ridiculous things about Steely Dan recently. I'm not sure there's much room for discussion on the subject, but I just wanted to register my disagreement.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 10:31 AM
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243

Couldn't have had anything to do with the end of the presidential campaign, of course.

Sure if you see politics as a spectator sport.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 10:31 AM
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260 279

I agree with the dsquared is a jerk sentiment. Although of course an often smart and entertaining jerk.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 10:37 AM
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I happened to notice DS saying ridiculous things about Steely Dan recently.

Heh. But it was in the context of acknowledging that sometimes ya just don't get whatever it is everyone else seems to get!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 10:53 AM
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Where was he saying these things?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 11:09 AM
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524: Sorry, just saw this. Over at CT, in the 6 fantasy novels thread. It was just a passing remark.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 11:33 AM
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That is, unless he's been saying other, more dastardly things about Steely Dan elsewhere as well!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 11:35 AM
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493: I'm glad we've transcended the idea of authorial intent when understanding writings. Otherwise I'd have to say something.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 12:41 PM
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525, 526 -- that was the comment that I was thinking of.

Yes, it was hardly fighting words -- just something with which I would disagree.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 12:48 PM
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Did Steely Dan do something recently? This is like the second or third they've come up seemingly out of the blue in different conversations in vastly different places in the past couple of days.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 12:55 PM
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529: You should totes start a Steely Dan cover band called "Stanley Den".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 1:24 PM
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It'll be much more fun than grad school.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 1:33 PM
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531: I'll just stay in school forever until I'm old and curmodeonly, and eventually they'll put me in charge of the college. Then I'll start a cover band called Sternly Dean.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 1:39 PM
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530: No, no. "Stanley, Then."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 1:39 PM
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532: Best known for their double platinum hit "That Foot Is Me".


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-09 3:48 PM
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