Monday, March 11, 2013

50 Shades of Black and White -- UPDATE

There is something just perfect in the symmetry of Liberals being mocked 10 years ago by a certain, neoconservative Weekly Standard op-ed writer using exactly the same, charming, nuance-is-for-dupes-and-pussies 
"Meanwhile, among the smart set, Hamlet-like indecision has become the intellectual fashion...

"In certain circles, it is not only important what opinion you hold, but how you hold it. It is important to be seen dancing with complexity, sliding among shades of gray. Any poor rube can come to a simple conclusion...but the refined ratiocinators want to be seen luxuriating amid the difficulties, donning the jewels of nuance, even to the point of self-paralysis..."
and my-opponents-are-all-ignorant-tribal-posers framing
"You begin to realize that they are not arguing about Iraq. They are not arguing at all. They are just repeating the hatreds they cultivated in the 1960s, and during the Reagan years, and during the Florida imbroglio after the last presidential election. They are playing culture war, and they are disguising their eruptions as position-taking on Iraq, a country about which they haven’t even taken the trouble to inform themselves..." 
now being deployed exactly 10 years later to mock the same Liberals for the same heresies by another prominent op-ed writer who is also terribly frustrated that Liberals are obviously too stupid to understand that there are two and only two sides to his one, pet issue: his side, and the side of "stunted, trivial" Liberals who are clearly too stunted to realize how trivial they are.
"Meanwhile, a large bulk of the Democratic and liberal commentariat - led, as usual, by the highly-paid DNC spokesmen called "MSNBC hosts" and echoed, as usual, by various liberal blogs, which still amusingly fancy themselves as edgy and insurgent checks on political power rather than faithful servants to it - degraded all of the weighty issues raised by this episode by processing it through their stunted, trivial prism of partisan loyalty. "
Stupid Liberals.


For the record, here are links to a few of the many, many examples of various "highly-paid DNC spokesmen called 'MSNBC hosts' cleverly diverting attention away from Mr. Greenwald's views by devoting large swaths of their programming to discussing it. 

Here here are links to a few of the many, many examples of MSNBC censoring Mr, Greenwald by putting him on MSNBC air (both in-person or by proxy) more than you or I will ever be on MSNBC in our collective lifetimes.

Here is MSNBC's Rachael Maddow demonstrating her "partisan loyalty" to her sinister DNC paymaster's desire to keep Glenn Greenwald's concerns about unchecked executive power to wage unlimited war under wraps by using the classic double-plus-reverso Jedi headfake trick of writing an entire, bestselling book on the subject of the dangers of unchecked executive power to wage unlimited war.  A bestselling book which was reviewed by Mr. Greenwald as follows:
“America is in urgent need of a real debate over its addiction to sprawling militarism and endless war. It affects, and degrades, every aspect of national life: political, cultural, and economic. Nobody is better positioned to trigger that debate than Rachel Maddow, and that's exactly what she does in this startlingly insightful and well-written book. By stripping away the propaganda that distorts national security policy and laying bare its reality, Maddow has written one of those rare political books that can transform Americans' understanding of what their government is actually doing.”

--GLENN GREENWALD, columnist for Salon and author of Liberty and Justice for Some
All of which is to say that while debates over the limits of executive power and the instrumentalities of war might contain myriad opinions that differ or overlap with each other slightly or measurably or radically, the notion that this subject is being censored or ignored or shuffled into the Unserious pile by Liberals is as patently toxic and ludicrous as the idea that anyone who does not toe the Greenwald line with perfect fidelity is a stunted, trivial, partisan stooge.  


Matthew Stephens said...

I fail to see the symmetry. Sullivan came down hard on the one part of society not marching lockstep towards war in Iraq, ridiculing them for daring to question Conventional Wisdom.

We live in a world where only 'nuts' worry about drones and the fourth amendment, so again Conventional Wisdom says criticism is unpatriotic, counter-productive, foolish, et cetera. Greenwald's a voice in the wilderness, comparatively.

And yes, the liberal commentariat is about as eager to reflect on their support of the Drone Warz as conservatives were keen to dissect the Bush admin's rationale for Gulf War 2. It's all so unseemly.

GG can be more charitably seen as afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. I doubt anyone's ever said that of Sullivan.

Unknown said...

I'm so happy to read your Greenwald comments. The man is often correct in his analysis with regard to excessive executive power. Greenwald, nonetheless, loves to troll the Democratic rank and file, bullying those who are not as pure of heart as he. A good example of this is when he trolled a group of Twitterati for adopting the name "Hussein Obama" and called them "cult members." During the 2008 election, lots of Obama supporters changed their online names, i.e. "Mary Hussein Obama", after much race and Muslim-baiting of candidate Obama by Republicans. That didn't mean that these folks couldn't think for themselves or agreed with Obama 100%. Needless purity trolling of liberals is counterproductive, and serves to divide the liberal cause.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Where is the liberal commentariat who are supporting the Drone War? Kind a curious, that mythological creature comes up so often, I would think you could barely walk around, they should be so thick on the ground.

What I have noticed, is that the liberal commentariat, by and large, opposes violent killing adventures overseas in most of its forms, whether drones, bombers, tanks, or SEAL teams shooting a guy in his home.

Not just the long-shot hypothetical case within the American border, used to slap together a fake filibuster that served to obscure a Hold filibuster preventing the DC circuit court from operating, which is arguably more damaging to American civil rights than a highly unlikely hypothetical scenario.

And at the end of the day, Rand Paul just says "Oh, OK. Carry on". and then votes for Brennan anyway.

The essence of Kabuki.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Needless purity trolling of liberals is counterproductive, and serves to divide the liberal cause.

The liberal cause is going down the toilet thanks to our right-wing asshole President.

Drones are only one small part of it.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

The liberal cause is going down the toilet

Cites? I won't even argue the cause, because I know you are irrational on the subject.

Liberal POLITICS is one thing, and may be argued. I would argue that groundbreaking health care reform, the most rapid civil rights advances in history, just to name a couple of liberal goals, are actually movement forward.

However, the 'liberal cause'? even as ill-defined as that is, I don't agree that a dingle politician is responsible for losses in that realm.

Especially when there are massed rightwing politicians and the teahadist masses rallying behind them, doing far more damage.

OBS said...

Clearly the "liberal cause" would've been better served under a McCain/Palin or Rmoney/Ryan administration.

Pinkamena Panic said...

And right on fucking cue the resident purity cops are out in force to make sure we all know who the real problem is! You'd think they'd just take their piss-soaked balls and go home since they can't get everyone to play the game their way...

But hey, their cause isn't to win, it's to be right. Fuck whether or not the bus is going off the cliff, as long as everyone knows they read the map correctly! And anyone who disagrees? Well, fuck those people, they're no different from the folks driving the bus off the cliff, right? False dilemma? What's that, some secret double-undercover-Teabagger codeword?

The enemy is nihilism. And these people are nihilists, Donny, and there's definitely something to be afraid of.

Jack said...

Thanks for taking on this issue, and calling out the purity trolls for their idiocy. I find it amazing that Rand Paul screeched for 13 hours on the floor of the US Senate about something that has never happened, that Obama will never do, and that will almost certainly never happen in the future -- the droning of US citizens on US soil.

Maybe next we should have a 13 hour filibuster about the terrifying threat of Rand Paul setting off a nuke in Times Square. Sure, it never happened and never will happen, but why should that stop us from throwing a hysterical fit and posturing as holier than everyone else?

I used to really like Greenwald, and it's just sad to see what a parody of himself he has turned into.

Anonymous said...

Good morning, Mr. Glass.

You know, there's a Photoshop opportunity here...

(the following is meant in jest)

You're the D(riftglass)-800, a cybernetic Obamabot sent back through time to protect a young Barack Obama, future savior of the human race.

Granted, since we're not allowed to know what your face looks like, you need some kind of cartoonish avatar of yourself to place over Schwarzenegger's head. But still, if you're going to joke about yourself and Ms. Gal as Obamabots, you might as well run with it.

Anonymous said...

The point Mr Greenwald was trying to make was IMHO the folks who work for war profiteers are not real liberals. MSNBC just pretends to be liberal to control the narrative, all the while the parent company makes billions from war and hides it offshore.

Anonymous said...

For almost the entire year of 2012 you're been screaming that centralism is a lie and that if you believe in it, you're a dupe or a pussy. To be fair to you, you leaned towards people being too afraid to make a solid decision when it comes to republicans and dems, but generally that's what you've been saying.

I think the big lie is that these people are threats. If we take that one element out of the equation, the answer become clear.

A lot of liberals who are interrupting and bitching aren't being fair and hijacking the conversation. I think they're doing it because our government hit an inexcusable tipping point against our loose understanding of human rights. The Obama Administration reject the notion they're doing anything wrong, but after the Bush administration, can you blame anyone from not believing any government official?

I do agree it will take time to sort this out and more public discussion is necessary. But we need this binary attitude to issues. There need to be a line Dems can't cross that would result in political suicide for their base. That line isn't labor laws, tax cuts, or healthcare. It matter well be human rights on non American citizens.

Anonymous said...

Test post. Just trying to see if my name actually shows up this time, rather than this "anonymous" business.

Matthew Stephens said...

Hmm. I see what you did there. GG talks of "degrad[ing] all of the weighty issues" and "processing it through their stunted, trivial prism of partisan loyalty", and you change topic to how much they are "devoting large swaths of their programming to discussing it."

Well, that wasn't at issue, was it? The charge was distortion, not censorship. (I'll leave aside the snide tone of the response: you're the bartender, after all.)

Truly, Driftglass, this is your kryptonite as well as your bĂȘte noire. Whenever this subject comes up, your first response (not seen this time around) is to remind us rubes that drones are just tools and it's foolish to fear new technology. Plus, terrorism. Then it becomes what we see here, pique, false equivalences, dripping contempt. When the criticism/commentary arrives, there is some late-game handwaving about "myriad opinions that differ" followed by clobber words like "patently toxic and ludicrous." You're better than this; somehow this topic brings out both your laziness and your rage. Your frustration reminds me of Robert Gibbs, who contemptuously coined a phrase you've put to good use.

Ed Abbey once remarked: "Conservatism is a hardening of the heart, accompanied by a softening of the mind."

I see this topic as your gateway drug to conservatism: the parts of you harkening back to Upton Sinclair and Woodie Guthrie get taken over by H.L. Mencken, and then your inner Archie Bunker starts to show. Everybody's got their weak spot, as Abbey suggests aging has something to do with it. My question to you is: is your anger still righteous?

marindenver said...

Seriously Matthew Stephens? Driftglass is changing the subject? So now you're changing it to suggest he's turning into a senile old fart channeling Archie Bunker and needs to do some soul searching?

Greenwald writes an offensive trolling column, coming off just like an old David Brooks offensive trolling column about Iraq and Driftglass points out the trollery. That's not changing the subject, that is the subject.

steve simels said...

Nothing Greenwald says in that piece has the slightest relevance to the reality of who Rand Paul actually is.

Which is to say a very large and very dangerous moron whose "views" on just about everything are a form of Anarchy Lite nonsense that should be reviled by all sentient mammals.

Lit3Bolt said...

Greenwald has relatively quickly caught on to the conventional pundit model that to "keep your name out there," you say something extremely stupid, asinine, and disingenuous, pick fights over trivial issues, treat everyone you disagree with like the unholy filth that they are, and generally throw tantrums until the link traffic picks up.

GG is not about policy, or fixing problems, or helping people. He's about GG and he's in the business of getting links and selling books and getting on the paid speech circuit.

He wants to be on TV.

This bears repeating.

Glenn Greenwald WANTS to BE on the TELEVISION.

The reason he agrees with the Pauls is he noticed how fucking rich they are. They have an idiot-proof revenue stream, where they can be offensively wrong about nearly everything, justify it with a half-baked "ideology," and then sell newsletters and books that could be filled with the phrase "Howard Stern's penis!!!!1!!!" written 100,000 times, and the idiots would still buy it and nod to themselves that it's extremely insightful to have such a wise voice speaking about something they know jack-shit about and have no credentials in.

Ron Paul is not your friend.

Rand Paul is not your friend.

Glenn Greenwald is not your friend.

And they certainly do not weep salty tears of impotent rage over drone policy. They are instead pleased to oppose it and continue to do so in the most ineffectual and clownish way possible, so that people swayed by their invective send them money and treat them like they're latter-day Martin Luther Fucking Kings, which is an Onion-class parody.

So if you agree with the Pauls or Glenn Greenwald...

I have some work-from-home business kits to sell you. Why, one stay at home mom made $14,584 dollars last month using this one easy trick...

Anonymous said...

How is GG trolling here? In the paragraph quoted he links to numerous cases of MSNBC commentary devoted not to the issues--transparency, due process, executive power--but to ad hominem slights against Paul (e.g., "his motives are evil."). Purity is not GG's criterion, it seems to me. To the contrary, he seems capable of dealing intellectually with ideas in tension, namely, Paul's Tea Party pedigree and his appropriate (for once) calling out of the president.

bluepillnation said...

Speaking from the other side of the pond, I have to say that I have a lot of time for Greenwald. He's been a strong and stalwart author of progressive principles for a very long time, and what he says regarding the use of drone strikes is absolutely correct.

However, the all-encompassing fug of realpolitik makes his excoriation of the Obama administration counter-productive in the extreme, because the unpalatable truth is that without having the arms industry on-side to some extent you're not going to win any elections with the US political system the way it is. If you want a demonstration of this, you need only look at the fact that despite eliminating Osama Bin Laden and despite continuing the UAV programmes, Republicans still ran in 2012 on claims that Obama wasn't doing enough and in holding back exposing the country to danger.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the last President to openly interfere with the CIA ended up with his brain matter decorating the inside of his limo, and for as long as the military-industrial-intelligence complex is a player it will be impossible to openly defy it without risking one's career or life to do so. The assassination of JFK led to the Vietnam War and two terms of Nixon. You can't blame President Obama for feeling that letting the MIIC and CIA do their own thing is a small price to pay for preventing the US from imploding.

Anonymous said...

Realpolitik, schmealpolitik. GG's telling it "like it is" might be ineffective, but it isn't counter-productive. Look, the CIA is a has-been group of doofuses, a cadre of cocky smart-alecks who get neither patriotism nor intelligence. The Agency is short-lived, and one almost suffers a pang of nostalgia for seeing as much, but these days they're a ragged gang of instrumentalist, shallow goons. It's not even fun making fun of them anymore.

grouchomarxist said...

"Censorship"? Where the heck did that come from? Not the article Greenwald wrote, that's for sure.

And I'm not sure I'm following the logic here: Since when did getting invited to speak on a network from time to time mean you're barred from ever saying anything critical about their coverage? How is it that if you recommend someone's book, it commits you to eternal agreement with the author or you're a hypocrite?

If these are the new rules, let's at least state them clearly.

I don't know about that "large bulk" jazz, which was both sloppy and inflammatory, but MSNBC has clearly left itself wide open to the suspicion that some of its hosts are less than objective about the Democratic establishment. Doing things like dumping frequent-Obama-critic-from-the-left Cenk Uygur for Al "I'll Never Criticize the President about Anything" Sharpton just naturally has that effect. And Al's hardly the only Obama/DNC apparatchik who's been given a home at the network, although by devoting a show to whether Obama's face should be added to Mount Rushmore, he certainly qualifies as the most egregious.

Although again, the wording is sloppy, I don't see that Greenwald is implying they're being paid off by the DNC, either, just that they're highly-paid (by the network) people who for whatever reasons -- ambition or ideology or tribalism or some mix of the above -- frequently push the DNC line.

I think it's highly debatable whether this really is some kind of wider coordinated effort to divert attention -- as Greenwald seems to be saying -- or simply a sort of mutually reinforcing feedback effect, when a handy way of avoiding an embarassing issue comes to hand.

I too wish that Jimmy Stewart had been conducting this filibuster. Given that Brennan is a fucking monster, it is utterly shameful that only a grandstanding moron like Paul did. (Ah, but he's now OUR fucking monster! And may I take this opportunity to request Dick Durbin to kindly go fuck himself? Remember how much fun we used to have jeering at those 9/11-invoking Republicans? Good times ...)

Anyone who believes "it can't happen here" is lethally naive. Let this New Gilded Age proceed a bit further on its current trajectory, and you may be surprised by what can happen here. Not to mention what our elites will do to keep the lid on millions of increasingly desperate people.

It doesn't matter if it's by drones or something more prosaic like paramilitary death squads, we are normalizing assassination at the same time we're being cute about its limits. Holder's response raised more questions than it answered, when the Terror Warriors claim the whole world is the battleground and have every incentive to keep widening the definition of "engaged in combat".

Anonymous said...

"It doesn't matter if it's by drones or something more prosaic like paramilitary death squads, we are normalizing assassination at the same time we're being cute about its limits."

Normalizing assassination? Hahahahaha

Tell that to COINTELPRO, The Phoenix Program. Tell that to Iran, Chile, Haiti.

The day you figure out that this isn't an executive problem but an overarching flaw of empire is the day you and other purity kids get invited to the adult table.

Raising a big fucking stink over Obama as a way of rubbing lesser liberals' noses in the poo is inappropriate and misguided.

The NSA was established under Truman. Extrajudicial assassinations and spying became doctrine 60 years ago. Congress abdicated its responsibility to the executive branch when it codified the NSA. At that point, it became established that a portion of the defense budget would always be dedicated to off the record activities.

Every. Single. Debate. Since. Has been about expanding executive authority out in the open instead of off the record. Congress gave the president carte blanche to do whatever he wants in the name of national security. From the Espionage Act to the PATRIOT Act, the central common thread is codifying previously covert powers into overt authority.

So why should I care that Greenwald pins his butterfly of an argument with a pure needle? Why should I care that a senator with the power to legislate instead grandstands about how many drones can dance on the head of that pure pin? If either of them were legitimate activists, they would point at the obvious: the Legislative Branch has advocated its war making powers to the president... And the blame for how all these powers are exercised fall entirely on each president as the last president's record gets sent down the memory hole.

No one points out the expanded wiretapping and domestic spying privileges given to Clinton. No one remembers the Church committee. No one remembers Iran/Contra. No one remembers the Bay of Pigs.

The fact is that purity trolls' heads are filled with the same etch a sketch dust. Rather than see the ongoing centralization of power, it is a shouty shouty match about how Obama is wicked and how his supporters aid and abet dead babies.

There is a reason Senator Paul chose to filibuster a nominee instead of proposing legislation that would outlaw his hypothetical. There is a reason that the filibuster was championed by Greenwald and deftly pivoted into a greater critique against Obama-controlled media. That reason is the preservation of the status quo while splintering the opposition into warring camps.

prof_fate said...


That was me -- prof_fate -- commenting up above as grouchomarxist. Honest, it wasn't a lame attempt at sockpuppetry, just a brain fart due to the lateness of the hour. (grouchomarxist is and has been for a long time my nom de Web everywhere else, but I stick with prof_fate here out of nostalgia for the old days at The News Blog and billmon's place.)


I applaud your choice of a Web handle. That was awfully public-spirited of you, informing everyone in advance that you're less interested in making a coherent argument than patting yourself on the back for being the real adult -- while screaming at the rest of us to shut up.

Who said assassinations and spying started with Obama? And I don't believe that list of covert spying and terror ops proves what you think it does.

The key word here is "covert", as in "keeping their behavior deniable", as in (for example) "Nixon and his aides didn't go around publicly bragging about how effective Operation Phoenix was and how many South Vietnamese were assassinated." (While at the same time claiming the program is so top-secret they can't even acknowledge its existence in a court of law. Suckers.)

This is what "normalization" means: something which was once considered beyond the pale becomes usual and accepted.

It's an interesting proposition, too, that since there's been a trend toward concentrating power in the executive, Obama is just a helpless bystander now. I wonder how that excuse would have flown during the Dubya years. "No one" remembers yada yada ... Oh really? What a remarkably stupid accusation.

It's also pretty remarkable to watch someone who sets themselves up as an arbiter of who constitutes an acceptable activist and what is legitimate activism bitching about purity trolls.

There is a reason that the filibuster was championed by Greenwald and deftly pivoted into a greater critique against Obama-controlled media. That reason is the preservation of the status quo while splintering the opposition into warring camps.

Curses! Zipperupus has stumbled upon Glenn's cunning plan!

Seriously, though, just out of curiousity, how do you account for the fact that Greenwald's been railing against the encroachments of the security state since the first Bush II administration? I guess it was all just part of his fiendishly devious plot to preserve it, right?

Exactly how many times did you have to whack yourself in the head with a ball-peen hammer before you came up with that brilliant theory?