spirit of the age
From The Blue Voice:
Ever been in a car where everyone including the driver knew he took the wrong road, and he is still driving down that road thinking he might find a way not to have to turn around?
Now imagine for a moment that the road is filled with land mines or IED's, and some poor guy is out in front on a bicycle -- the security detail for this little excursion. In fact, there are thousands of men and women on bicycles -- and so far, only 1,900 have been killed and another 18,000 injured (many quite severely).
You and I -- we're in the car. In the backseat, watching the video screen and chilling out. We're safe and comfy, and nobody we know is out there on a bike.
No wonder Cindy Sheehan is pissed.
Why one Iraq?
In all the debate over the war in Iraq, there is one assumption that is almost never even mentioned, let alone questioned: that Iraq must remain a single nation-state.
The administration has made it clear that this is a priority for them, but that means nothing - their priorities are not ours, of course. But even self-identified opponents of the war tend not to wonder whether a unified Iraq really is necessary, or even desirable.
Charley Reese thinks that the idea of a unified Iraq is "a Western joke":
In Iraq, the Kurds want autonomy, and the Sunnis want a strong central government. You can't have both, as we discovered in 1860. The Shi'ite faction wants government based on Islamic law; the Sunnis and the Kurds want a secular state. Again, you can't have both. The Sunnis, who have ruled Iraq in modern times, don't want to be under the thumb of the Shi'ites and the Kurds. The Shi'ites and the Kurds, who were the underdogs, now intend to be the top dogs.Could at least some bloodshed be prevented if the US would allow the possibility of a kind of "decomposition" of the nation of Iraq, whose borders have always been fairly arbitrary anyway, and allowed the possibility of separate, smaller states?
The United States, which set up the rules for adopting the Iraqi constitution, has probably shot itself in the foot, as it usually does when it tries to play the imperial game. One of those rules states that the constitution is dead meat if it fails to get a two-thirds vote in three provinces. The Sunnis are a majority in four provinces. They call the draft constitution a plan for civil war.
The Iraqi politicians may try to follow the American way and paper over these differences, putting off the unpleasant reckoning until a future date, but I wouldn't bet a nickel on their success. The draft constitution obviously contemplates that the Kurds will establish an autonomous region in the north that will control the northern oil fields. The Shi'ite religious parties will establish a Shi'ite region in the south that will control all the southern oil fields. There is no oil to speak of in the Sunni region. Thus, the Sunnis see the constitution as starving them of revenue and influence and eventually breaking up the country. The draft also contains punitive measures for former members of the Ba'ath Party. Any Sunni who had no reason to fight will soon have plenty.
...Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who sometimes seems to be approaching his dotage, is blithely unconcerned about the prospect of civil war and dismisses it. Well, we shall see. So far the Bush administration has not been right about anything in Iraq, and I suspect its record of wrong guesses will remain intact.
I don't know the answer to that. But it's certainly something at least worth considering.
How did I miss this?
Here's CNN's Paula Zahn on Pat Robertson's suggestion that the US assassinate the democratically elected leader of Venezuela:
Good evening, everyone. Glad to have you with us tonight.Wow. (HT: Suburban Guerrilla, Left I on the News.)
Has controversial Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson finally gone too far or is he on to something?
Also, notice that Zahn asks whether or not Robertson has "finally" gone too far ... as if he hasn't already "gone too far" just about every day of his wretched existence.
Oh, by the way, want to hear what Robertson had to say about an actual dictator, as opposed to a not-really dictator? From Wikiquote:
I have never met [Charles Taylor, president of Liberia at the time] in my life. I don't know what he has done or hasn't done. I do know he was elected by the people, and he has maintained a relatively stable government in Liberia; and they observe the rule of law; they have a working legislature; they have courts. And though he may have certain dictatorial powers, so do most leaders in Africa.How dare he indeed!
We're undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels to take over the country. And how dare the president of the United States say to the duly elected president of another country, 'You've got to step down,'.
Actually, the whole goddamned page on Robertson at Wikiquote is pretty juicy. For instance, there's this gem, in which Pat compares his plight with that of the victims of the Holocaust:
Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in historyOh, and how about when he blamed Planned Parenthood and the Supreme Court for the Sept. 11 attacks?
We have allowed rampant secularism and occult, et cetera, to be broadcast on television. We have permitted somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 to 40 million unborn babies to be slaughtered in our society. We have a Court that has essentially stuck its finger in God's eye and said, 'We're going to legislate you out of the schools, we're going to take your Commandments from off the courthouse steps in various states, we're not going to let little children read the Commandments of God, we're not going to let the Bible be read -- no prayer in our schools.' We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. And, then we say 'why does this happen?' Well, why its happening is that God Almighty is lifting His protection from us."And then there's this oldie-but-goodie:
The Antichrist is probably a Jew alive in Israel today.But anyway, to answer Paula's question, yes, Robertson has finally gone too far.
Q & A
NRO's Jonathan Adler:
The WSJ reports that getting a job at the new Wal-Mart in Oakland, California "was statistically tougher than getting into Harvard, with 12,000 applicants for 400 jobs." I wonder how the anti-Wal-Mart crowd would explain this one.Huh? Why does the "anti-Wal-Mart crowd" have to "explain" this?
I think it's the GOPers that have some explaining to do - as in, why is it that so many people are competing for such shit jobs?
The left wing of the War Party
Justin Raimondo has a piece up on Antiwar.com that should be required reading for (a) those who think that a government controlled by Democrats is the only way to end the war and (b) pro-war libertarians. Also, he gets in a good dig at Kos. (All emphasis is mine.)
WAY too many of the prominent Democrats, including bloggers like Kos, base their opposition to the Iraq war on the grounds that it was some kind of strategic mistake. Rarely if ever do they mention the inherent immorality of the war. Is it because, as Raimondo suggests, they don't believe that it IS immoral, but rather that it is simply not prudent?
... practically everything is presented and discussed in partisan terms, i.e., in terms of the never-ending conflict between Democrats and Republicans, and the reality is that the Democrats are just as hawkish – albeit in a "multilateralist" way – as the GOP ...
...Why is the assumption of interventionism dominant in Washington's foreign policy discourse? ... it is the natural tendency of the Washington elites to assume the efficacy of government action as the solution to all problems. The "strategic class" is founded, after all, on the premise that the U.S. must intervene – militarily and otherwise – in the affairs of other nations in order to secure its own "national interests." The question isn't whether or not to intervene, but what strategy ought to underpin our intervention.
Aside from this inherent prejudice in favor of militarism, albeit of the "multi-lateralist" sort, the Democrats in particular have a tendency to be hawkish on account of their constant search for rationales to increase the power of government on the home front. What better way to serve the Democratic agenda of increased government spending and "national sacrifice" as a good in and of itself than to take the nation to war – and keep it at war?
...It's true that the Democratic base is against the war, but how much of this is due to Bush-hating and how much to principled opposition to a conflict that adheres to none of the necessities attached to a just war? The pure partisanship of some war opponents is indicated by this post by one of the founders and "leaders" of DailyKos.com, the "netroots" of the Democratic party machine:
"I'm not anti-war. As I've said before, I'm a military hawk. I supported the Afghanistan War and I supported the Bosnia and Kosovo interventions. I'm not one of these touchy-feely hippy types that thinks war is inherently bad. I laugh at people who think they can 'visualize peace.'
"Unlike most people reading this, I grew up in a country at war. I've seen the effects first-hand. I also served in the Army. To me war isn't a video game or an abstract concept. It's real. Yet sometimes, many times, military force is a force for good. There are evil people in the world, doing evil things. And all the sanctions in the world, all the strongly worded denunciations, will never have the effect of a 1,000 pound bomb.
"I oppose the Iraq War. But I refuse to be labeled 'anti-war.' I'm not. I'm anti this war. Why? Because I'm a war pragmatist. I understand the costs of war, but I also understand the potential benefits."
So Markos Moulitsas Zúniga grew up in a country at war – so what? If he liked it so much, why doesn't he go back there?
Yeah, he served in the Army – the same Army that trained and equipped the death squads that tortured his own people, in an illegal war that was run by some of the same neocons who are now turning Iraq into a pile of bloodstained rubble. Is it really necessary to point this out?
Spare me the "war pragmatism" of Señor Zúniga. He supported the rape of Yugoslavia – a country that had never attacked us, represented no threat to us, and that we bombed without bothering to go to the UN. The very same people who swallowed the war propaganda of the Clintonites – all of it subsequently exposed as grotesque lies – are now howling that they were bamboozled into war by the Bushies. Well, isn't that just too f*cking bad?! These people can dish it out, but they sure can't take it.
Oh, they don't like "this war," do they? How, then, do they differentiate this particular war of "liberation" from all the others undertaken in the post-Cold War era by those benevolent hegemons in Washington? Saddam Hussein was merely a Middle Eastern version of Slobodan Milosevic, right down to the quasi-fascistic official state ideology, the blustering Mussolini-esque buffoonery, and the brittle weakness of his politico-military apparatus when push came to shove. Serbia's lack of proximity to Israel may account for the absence of charges that Slobo was harboring "weapons of mass destruction," but that is the only difference I can think of.
... The Democratic opponents of the Iraq war are, all too often, motivated more by hatred of Bush and the Republicans than by any real, substantive position against an aggressive and immoral foreign policy. Not that hatred doesn't have its uses: but as long as their stance is confined to opposing only Republican wars, the willingness and ability of the Democrats to oppose this war effectively is severely limited. "War pragmatism" will not stop the war, nor is it very practical. As long as the debate is carried on in purely partisan terms, the American people will tune it out – because there will be no debate, only a tired reiteration of "talking points" that don't diverge in terms of fundamentals.
I don't mean to denigrate those grassroots Democrats who sincerely oppose the war and want to see U.S. troops withdraw as soon as possible. I mean only to warn them against their party leaders, all of whom are ideologically committed to interventionism abroad as well as at home.
...The widely noted divide between the Democratic leadership and the party's base on the war is bound to lead to an internecine contretemps, but in going into battle, the antiwar grassroots had better understand who and what they are up against. They won't win with "war pragmatism" or by aping the militaristic posturing of the Republicans: they can win, however, with a principled opposition to interventionism, and a healthy (and very American) suspicion of the exercise of state power, especially in the international arena. Not pacifism but skepticism in the face of Republican hubris and the neocons' overweening arrogance: these are the keys to a Democratic victory.
They need less Bidens, and more Fulbrights ... Forget Hillary: no pro-war candidate can beat the Republicans, especially if war skeptic Chuck Hagel somehow gets the nod.
Hey, what about a Vacaville housewife who lost her son in the neocons' war, and whose face is by now far more familiar to most Americans than John Kerry's ever was? Luckily for the Republicans, they wouldn't dare – or would they?
If I were an antiwar Democrat, I'd trust Cindy over Hillary in a minute, on strategic as well as ideological grounds. Unlike Mrs. Clinton, Mrs. Sheehan could just possibly give Bush a run for his money if an election were held today, what with his rapidly sinking poll numbers and the growing unpopularity of the war – the point being that the Democratic party has so far failed to fill the leadership gap and show the country a way out of this quagmire.
... The party of Thomas Jefferson, the anti-elitist, anti-royalist libertarian party known as the Democrats has a long and distinguished tradition of opposition to foreign wars ... the Democrats have always had a strong noninterventionist populist impulse to contend with. Whether or not it finally manages to take – or rather, retake – the party leadership is an open question. Unless a self-conscious antiwar movement develops within the party, however, and finds some real leaders, the Democrats will remain what they are today – the left wing of the War Party.
I, for one, would like to hear every prominent Democratic, anti-war blogger answer one simple question: Do you believe the invasion of Iraq was a war crime? Their answer will tell us just about everything we need to know about whether theirs is a principled anti-war stance, or just a bogus "war pragmatism" that ends up being merely an opposition to Republican wars.
UPDATE: I should probably state, especially in light of this comment by Neil, that I'm not particularly concerned about the terminology of "war crimes." Neil, like a lot of people, probably, uses the term primarily to refer to crimes committed within the context of a war, not the war itself.
So if that's why someone doesn't want to call Iraq a war crime, I won't argue. One might call it a "crime against peace." It's the substance that really matters. So perhaps the questions that need to be asked of liberals opposed to the Iraq war are these: Do you consider the war to be a violation of international law? Do you oppose the war because it was/is immoral, or do you oppose it just because it is not in the strategic interests of the US (e.g., "it's unwinnable")?
Could somebody get the Werewolf a decent toothpick?
"Wanna see me punch out a yak? 'Cause I will!"
Fafnir interviews top Democrats.
Ezra weighs in on the politics of withdrawal and apologizes for being craven for even discussing it. I can understand why he felt he had to say that because a lot of people object to viewing this serious issue from a political standpoint. But I feel that politics are the only issue as far as Democrats are concerned. We haven't even the smallest bit of institutional power to affect any change in the president's Iraq policy.I have a lot of respect for Digby, but this is just wrong. He's right that Democrats don't have much institutional power to influence Iraq policy. But institutional power isn't the only way to have an effect. Prominent Democrats have a huge degree of power simply in virtue of having access to the major media. They may not be able to vote for a change in Iraq policy (though, have they tried?), but they can sure as hell go on every last one of the Sunday news shows demanding change in the strongest possible terms.
...We need to accept that we are not the governing party. If we think we are going to affect policy from our position as the irrelevant "other" party, we are sorely mistaken. Our elected officials aren't even invited to routine meetings on legislative issues; we will not be consulted on Iraq.
...In order to change the direction of this country we have to prioritize and our first priority and only responsibility is to get more Democrats elected to office so that we can change the balance of power. That's it. Everything we do must be in service of that goal.
...If we capture a majority in 2006, I would hope that we immediately begin hearings and take an entirely fresh look at the situation as we go into the 2008 campaign. When we have the power to actually do something then we have the responsibility to dig out of this quagmire. Until then, this is Bush's war and Bush's war alone.
...I do not believe there is anything the national Democrats can do to change this policy. We have to change the government.
Would this work? Dunno. But it hasn't even been tried.
He's also wrong to say that this is Bush's war alone. We all know the role that most Democrats played in this whole thing, and they can't simply absolve themselves of all responsibility. There may be a limit to what they can do at this point, but it's not nothing.
The same goes for "rank-and-file" Democrats, who at any rate should be placing their allegiance to the dictates of morality above their allegiance to their party. The point of the anti-war movement is not to get Democrats elected so they can enact changes in Iraq policy. The point is to stop the war. Getting more Democrats elected might help this goal - but it might not; I don't really trust the Dems to end it - but it's not necessarily the only way. We have to put enough pressure on the White House that they will be forced to withdraw, not sit around and wait for a Democratic majority.
Is Digby saying that the only hope is to win a Democratic majority in '06? I think everyone should just go ahead and forget about doing that right now. It's probably not going to happen. The anti-war movement has to figure out a way to end the war even with the GOP in power. (Note to Kos, et al: the same is true for NARAL ... they'd be stupid to wait to fight for abortion rights until the Democrats take over again, which might never happen.)
We need to reconcile ourselves to the fact that Republicans control the government, as Digby says. But we also need to reconcile ourselves to the fact that in all likelihood they will continue to control it for the foreseeable future. Some Democrats seem to want us to put all issues on the backburner until the Democrats come to power. But we cannot afford to do that, because we can't count on this happening any time soon.
If you're going to play 'Gotcha', you need to play it a little bit better than that
NewsMax is trying to catch the liberal media treating conservatives differently than liberals:
Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson prompted a firestorm of media outrage on Tuesday after he suggested that the Bush administration should assassinate a foreign leader who posed a threat to the U.S. - in this case, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.Of course, Saddam was a mass-murdering, unelected tyrant, while Hugo Chavez is nothing of the sort, and is certainly no threat to the United States.
But when senior Clinton advisor George Stephanopoulos publicly argued for the same kind of assassination policy in 1997, the press voiced no objection at all.
Fresh from his influential White House post, Stephanopoulos devoted an entire column in Newsweek to the topic of whether the U.S. should take out Saddam Hussein.
His headlined? "Why We Should Kill Saddam."
I'm not saying I think the US should have assassinated Saddam, but these are just completely different cases.
The Chavez menace
A couple of left-of-center types on Hugo Chavez:
Alan Colmes: "If we're going to kill him, aren't there some dictators even a little more dangerous to us. Komenhi in Iran, should we kill him? Should we kill Kim Jong II in North Korea, should we knock those guys off too?"
OK, listen, despite what Robertson said, Chavez is NOT A DICTATOR. He was elected with a large majority. Let's get the basic facts right, at least.
Crooks and Liars: "we all know Hugo is a bad guy, but to advocate murder is ridiculous and only exposes the US to more damning accusations and possible retribution."
I'm sorry, but what exactly does that mean, "we all know Hugo is a bad guy"? I'm no expert on Venezualan politics, so I'm open to seeing evidence of Chavez's crimes. As far as I can tell, there are some complaints by human rights organizations about his government, mostly having to do with free speech issues, but nothing approaching the level of, say, the United States.
Look, not all leaders of Latin American countries are strong-armed dictators of banana republics. Believe it or not, there are other countries beside the US that have democratically elected governments. Some of them are even countries with brown people in them.
Red Constantino, via Brian Leiter, explains what Chavez's real "crimes" are:
...the nature of the change that Chavez is driving has become the central reason behind the sustained attempts to undermine the Chavez government. The disparity of agendas is glaring. The opposition continues to promise, for instance, a return to free market economic policies, a platform welcomed by international financial leaders and institutions like the International Monetary Fund; Chavez is opposed to it.Clearly this man is a menace who must be stopped.
"We are building an economy at the service of human beings," said Nora Castaneda, the president of Banca Mujer (Women's Development Bank), of the Chavez administration's goals, "not human beings at the service of the economy."
For the first time in Venezuela's history, government authority has been established decisively over how the Venezuelan oil industry - the fifth largest exporter in the world - is to be run and for whose benefit. Oil money is now re-channeled towards financing immeasurable employment, health, education and literacy missions throughout the country for the destitute of Venezuela, specifically for women.
At least 65 percent of Venezuelan households are headed by women and the Chavez government during the drafting of the 2000 constitution ensured that this fact was reflected in Venezuela's framing document. Among it's progressive provisions, the constitution recognizes women's unwaged caring work as economically productive, entitling housewives to social security.
..."I don't believe in the dogmatic postulates of Marxist revolution. I don't accept that we are living in a period of proletarian revolutions. All that must be revised. Reality is telling us that everyday," said Pres. Chavez in an interview with the eminent intellectual Tariq Ali.
"Are we aiming in Venezuela today for the abolition of private property or a classless society?" Chavez continued. "I don't think so. But if I'm told that because of that reality you can't do anything to help the poor . . . then I say 'We part company'. I will never accept that there can be no redistribution of wealth in society. Our upper classes don't even like paying taxes. That's one reason why they hate me. We said 'You must pay your taxes'.
UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has retracted the comment about Chavez being a "bad guy," at least for the time being.
Wingnut metaphysics revisited
A few weeks ago I wrote a post on what anti-choice blogger Scott Klusendorf called "pro-life metaphysics." (I'm assuming it was Klusendorf who wrote the post in question; it's his site, and it doesn't say anything about any other bloggers. Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong about this.) I'd never heard the term before, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is, in fact, a more or less specifiable metaphysic that anti-choicers tend to share. Not surprisingly, I did not find this metaphysic persuasive.
Klusendorf has posted an in-depth rejoinder to my post, which deserves a somewhat detailed response.
More on the flip, if you're interested.
Click here to continue reading this post.
This is the relevant portion of the post I was originally responding to:
Problem is, many GOP leaders act like they don’t have a worldview. Or maybe they do and simply can’t argue for it. (Have you seen Bill Frist’s lovely claim that he’s “pro-life” and believes “that life begins at conception,” but now supports killing embryos for research? Try squaring that gem with pro-life metaphysics.) Either way, true conservatives are not well served by a party that plays politics when it should be playing hardball at the idea level.I responded:
... the anti-abortion ideology really does rest upon the assumption of a very specific - and, incidentally, very specious - metaphysic.I then took issue with premises 1 and 2, especially #2:
The heart of the anti-abortion movement is a very simple argument:
1. Killing people is always wrong (and should be illegal)
2. A fetus is a person
3. Abortion kills a fetus
4. Therefore abortion kills a person
5. Therefore abortion is wrong (and should be illegal)
... it relies on a certain metaphysical view. Namely, anti-choicers tend to believe (a) that there exists a general ontological kind or type or category "person" and (b) that a fetus is a genuine token or instantiation of that kind/type not because it shares certain characteristics with the other members, but because of some (usually vaguely defined) metaphysical property. This is the only way to reasonably believe that this -OK, now for Klusendorf's response to me. He writes (referring to me as 'DH'):
- is a person, since it obviously demonstrates none of the typical characteristics associated with personhood. It can be a person only by possessing some inner essence of personhood.
Of course, they've given us no reason why we should accept this metaphysic; like most metaphysics, it is basically a mixture of nonsensical and unsupported claims.
...So what the anti-choice movement is trying to do is to impose the normative implications of their pet metaphysical theory (highly influenced by their pet religious ideology) on the rest of society, without giving us any reason to believe that their theory is, you know, true. It is as if I were to decide that teddy bears are actually conscious, highly emotional beings who hate to be left alone, and then trying to pass laws that would make it illegal to neglect your teddy bear. The only difference would be that this form of insanity would be utterly idiosyncratic, while the insanity of believing that a three-celled embryo is a 'person' is one that is shared by a significant segment of society, and endorsed by some of the world's most popular religious institutions, which garners it a level of perceived legitimacy that is wholly unearned.
Right away there are problems, as DH attacks an argument I nowhere make.I should probably clear this up: I didn't exactly mean to imply that he specifically made this argument. Rather, I was articulating what I take to be the basic anti-abortion argument, not an argument specific to any one person, and perhaps not an argument explicitly stated by anyone. Apologies for any confusion; I should have been clearer.
Consider premise #1 above. Pro-life advocates like myself do not argue that it’s always wrong to take human life (a position only a strict pacifist would hold)Well, okay ... I suppose I was a bit sloppy. Anti-choicers aren't, of course, committed to the view that taking human life is always wrong (at least, I don't know of any reason to think they are). Instead, it's probably more accurate to articulate the first premise as something like: "Killing a person is prima facie wrong, and in the absence of any special justification (e.g., self-defense, just war) it should be illegal." Not as catchy, but more accurate. (What I was trying to capture with my original articulation of the first premise was the fact that even if it is established that a fetus is a person, it doesn't automatically follow that abortion is wrong - i.e., because abortion might be a type of justified taking of the life of a person. But that's probably a debate best left for another time anyway, as it doesn't seem to ride on any particular metaphysical view.)
Anyway, Scott continues:
Throughout his post, DH chides pro-lifers for not establishing that the human fetus is a person. “They’ve given us no reason why we should accept this metaphysic; like most metaphysics, it is basically a mixture of nonsensical and unsupported claims.”I don't consider my views about personhood to have anything to do with metaphysics. What I'm arguing is that 'person' is just a word, defined conventionally, as opposed to deriving its meaning by somehow rigidly designating some ontological type/natural kind of 'personhood'. The word 'person' is like the word 'tall'; convention, guided, as always, but the objective facts of the matter, determines when its use is appropriate.
Like his own unsupported claims? Notice that nowhere in his essay does DH defend his metaphysical assumption that there can be such a thing as a human being that is not a person. Why should anyone believe that? Nor does he defend his claim that personhood is an accidental property rather than something intrinsic to the human subject. I wonder: Other than the embryos and fetuses he’d like to arbitrarily exclude, has he ever met a human non-person?
Have I ever met a human non-person? I'm not sure. Maybe. But I'm pretty certain there are members of the human species who probably wouldn't meet the criteria for personhood (criteria which are, again, rooted in convention). E.g., someone like Terri Schiavo before she died.
The thing is, there almost has to be some kind of daylight between the concept of 'human' and that of 'person'; otherwise, they are just synonyms. Which is fine, if that's the way you want to use the word, but in that case the personhood of the fetus wouldn't really get you anywhere - even pro-choicers, after all, acknowledge that a fetus is a member, in some sense, of the human species. If the claim that the fetus is a person is supposed to add some additional force to the anti-abortion argument, it has to mean something above and beyond the uncontroversial claim that the fetus is a human.
there is no way to avoid the metaphysics involved in the dispute, though DH would like you to think he’s above it all. Yet even his claim that most metaphysical claims are “nonsensical” is itself a metaphysical claim.This passage is a puzzling one. I totally disagree that to label metaphysical claims as nonsense is itself a metaphysical claim. I see no reason why that would be so, and no argument is given. So all I can say is that the 'nonsense' epithet is properly characterized as a semantic or linguistic claim ... I'm talking not about the subject of metaphysics but rather about metaphysical language. Suppose I said: "All poetry is nonsense." Is that claim a line of poetry?
Plus, I should add that I didn't say all metaphysical claims are nonsense. My remark was that "most metaphysics [is] a mixture of nonsensical and unsupported claims."
the nature of the abortion debate is such that all positions on abortion presuppose a metaphysical view of human value, and for this reason, the pro-choice position is not entitled to a privileged philosophical standing in our legal framework. At issue is not which view of abortion has metaphysical underpinnings and which does not, but which metaphysical view of human value is correct, pro-life or abortion-choice?Even if it were true that "all positions on abortion presuppose a metaphysical view of human value" - which it's not, for many reasons, including the fact that the assigning or denying of value is not necessarily a metaphysical endeavor, unless SK is making the bizarre claim that metaphysics somehow permeates all aspects of human activity, in which case, I'd like to hear the argument - even if that were true, it wouldn't necessarily follow that the pro-choice position wouldn't enjoy a privileged standing. The burden of proof has to lie somewhere; in my opinion, it should be relatively uncontroversial that the anti-choice folks would have the responsibility to demonstrate that a fetus is deserving of protection against abortion. After all, the anti-choicers are the ones who want to barge into operating rooms and tell women and doctors that they can't abort. That alone doesn't mean this interference isn't justified, but given that it is a limitation on individual freedom, it would seem that fundamental principles of liberalism (as in classical liberalism) dictate that individual liberty be given the benefit of the doubt, and that it is the one who wishes to infringe upon that liberty who bears the burden of explaining why he is justified in doing so.
An analogy: suppose I decide that oysters are sentient beings who deserve the right to live. I therefore begin a campaign to outlaw the eating of oysters.
Now, there is a sense in which I can say, a la Klusendorf, that the nature of the oyster debate is such that all positions on oyster personhood presuppose a metaphysical view of oyster value, and for this reason, the pro-eating-oysters position is not entitled to a privileged philosophical standing in our legal framework. But this is clearly absurd, no? Surely if I want to infringe upon the liberty of others by telling them they can't eat oysters, it is up to me to prove that this is justified.
Another thing that SK says is also puzzling:
Fact is, both sides in the abortion debate make moral claims. Both want their side to win politically and in the court of public opinion. And both want their position legislated in law. In short, both views–pro-life and abortion-choice–are asking the exact same question: What makes humans valuable in the first place? Metaphysical neutrality on that question is not a workable option.I don't deny that both sides make moral claims. What I would deny - or at least, what needs to be argued for - is that moral claims are metaphysical claims. There are some, I imagine, who hold such a view, but it hardly just goes without saying.
Dadahead’s own abortion-choice view is that humans have value (and hence, rights) not in virtue of the kind of thing they are, but only because of an acquired property such as self- consciousness or emotional awareness. Because the early fetus lacks the immediate capacity to exercise these properties, it is not a person with rights. Notice that DH is doing the abstract work of metaphysics. That is, he is using philosophical reflection to advance a disputed view of human persons–namely, that humans are valuable by function not nature.I don't necessarily agree with this characterization of my view. But even if it were correct, it's not clear that properties such as self-consciousness and emotional awareness are metaphysical properties. Many would argue that these are scientifically discoverable characteristics that some organisms possess and some do not, with only empirical investigation, and not metaphysical speculation, needed to determine which is which.
Another claim which I think can be dealt with without too much difficulty is that the "pro-life metaphysic" is the only or the best way to "explain human dignity and equality":
I don’t think abortion advocates like DH can account for basic human equality ... If humans have value only because of some acquired property like consciousness or self-awareness and not in virtue of the kind of thing they are, then it follows that since these acquired properties come in varying degrees, basic human rights come in varying degrees. Do we really want to say that those with more self-consciousness are more human (and more valuable) than those with less?The inference made in the bolded sentence (my emphasis) is faulty. I'll go ahead and adopt, for the sake of argument, the view that consciousness is the property that grants rights or value or whatever to human beings, and that consciousness is an acquired property. First of all, it's by no means obvious that consciousness comes "in degrees," at least until more is said about what that would mean. One could plausibly say that consciousness is like pregnancy - you either are or you aren't.
But let's grant, again for the sake of argument, that consciousness does, indeed, come in varying degrees. It still wouldn't follow that the more conscious one was, the more valuable one would be. For instance, I could argue that there is a certain threshold of consciousness such that once one reaches this threshold, one is accorded full human dignity, equality, value, whatever. Below the threshold, no, above it, yes. If X hasn't crossed the threshold, X doesn't have the kind of value we are talking about. If X has crossed it, then X does have this value - and X has as much as he ever will. It doesn't matter how much 'more conscious' (?) X gets, he will never acquire more value. It's an either/or proposition.
An analogy: suppose I am a believer in the death penalty for Kantian/retributivist type reasons - that is, I think murderers should be put to death because they deserve to die for the evil they have done.
I am not committed to the view that the more people one murders, the more deserving he is of the death penalty. Rather, it is perfectly consistent for me to say that all murderers are evil, and deserving of death, plain and simple. It doesn't matter if you kill one person or a thousand: you are evil and I want you to die.
I'm not arguing for this, mind you. I'm just noting that even though some property P can come in varying degrees - whether P is consciousness, or number of murders, or whatever - it doesn't follow that any value judgments we make relating to the absence or presence of P also have to come in varying degrees.
Toward the end of his post, DH finally burps out what’s really bugging him: "So what the anti-choice movement is trying to do is impose the normative implications of their pet metaphysical theory (highly influenced by their pet religious ideology) on the rest of society, without giving us any reason to believe that their theory is, you know, true." Question: Is DH saying it’s wrong for pro-lifers to do that? If so, who is he to impose that “pet” rule on us without first giving us reasons why it’s, you know, true? And if he’s not saying we’re wrong to impose our views, then why is he correcting us with his own metaphysical presupposition–one he nowhere defends–which essentially says religious truth claims don’t count as real knowledge? (By the way, I don’t think pro-lifers are wrongly imposing their views–a point I made in an earlier post.)I didn't mean to imply that religious claims can't count as real knowledge. However, they don't get any special exemptions because they are religious; if you are basing the anti-abortion argument on religious claims, you'd better have some evidence for those religious claims available.
Whether or not there is evidence for various religious claims is beyond the scope of this post. I'll simply note that the overwhelming consensus among philosophers and scientists is that there is not nearly the kind of evidence that would require all of us, upon pain of irrationality, to accept these claims. Of course, consensus doesn't entail truth. But at the very least, it is a highly debatable proposition (i.e., that the religious claims of Christians (or any other believers) are verifiable). To cite just one quick example, I know of no argument that would persuade me to treat the Bible as the word of God. It is possible that such an argument exists, and that I just haven't seen it yet. But hey, there's only so many hours in the day, and I haven't devoted myself to a search for such an argument. If anyone knows of one, I'd love to see it.
DH is just plain wrong that pro-life advocates provide no defense for their metaphysics. Sure they do. Problem is, DH takes no time to actually engage pro-life arguments; he simply dismisses them as “religious ideology.” However, his dismissal does not constitute an argument and it ignores the sophisticated case pro-life philosophers present in support of fetal personhood. Even at the popular level, DH can’t bring himself to engage a basic pro-life argument–one based on science and philosophy. Scientifically, pro-lifers contend that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. True, they have yet to grow and mature, but they are whole human beings nonetheless. Leading embryology textbooks affirm this ... Philosophically, pro-lifers argue that there is no morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today. Differences of size, development, and location are not relevant in the way that abortion advocates need them to be. For example, everyone agrees that embryos are small—perhaps smaller than the dot at the end of this sentence. But since when do rights depend on how large we are? Men are generally larger than women, but that hardly means they deserve more rights. Size does not equal value.Again, I certainly can't claim to have unearthed every extant argument against abortion. The ones I am familiar with are wholly unconvincing, as is the one presented here. As I said above, I don't necessarily dispute that embryos are in some sense "whole human beings." (I don't necessarily endorse it either - haven't really thought about it, because my view in no way turns on the issue.)
Differences of size are irrelvant, sure. If it were a fully conscious human being in there, just a really, really tiny one, I might feel differently. But my point in showing the picture of the embryo is not to demonstrate its tiny size, but rather to demonstrate the fact that it completely consists of three cells.
Differences of development are very much relevant ... but that's basically the whole crux of the argument again. Anti-choicers seem pretty committed to the view that these differences don't matter, but a strong case can be made - one that is also beyond the scope of this post - that these differences are all that matter. Again, that's the meat of the abortion argument.
DH is correct to say that pro-life metaphysics are “endorsed by some of the world’s most popular religious institutions.” Ah, but once again, the sword cuts both ways. According to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the vast majority of religious denominations ... hold the exact same metaphysical view DH does concerning the status of the unborn–namely, that embryos and fetuses are not valuable human beings ... Put simply, if the pro-life view is suspect because of it’s alleged connection to the metaphysics of religion, so is the pro-abortion one.It's not so much that the anti-abortion view is suspect because it is endorsed by religions - it's that the view itself seems to be based solely, or at least heavily, on religion. I wouldn't hold it against the anti-choicers just because the Catholic Church agrees with them. That would be absurd, and self-defeating, seeing as how the Church agrees with me on other issues (e.g. the war). What I'm skeptical of is that there exists a totally non-religious argument against abortion. Various religious organizations may agree with my view, but you won't hear me invoking that as evidence for it.
Finally, regarding Judith Jarvis Thomson:
DH says he’s yet to see a good rejoinder to Judith Jarvis Thomson’s famous violinist argument. Seriously? Does he truly believe, like Thomson, that a mother has no more duty to her own child than she does a total stranger or intruder? Does he really think that we have no obligations to our own offspring unless we voluntarily assume those obligations?I can't say too much about this now - this post has gone on far too long already ... is anyone still reading this? Hello? - but suffice to say that it's begging questions all over the place. E.g., who said the fetus was "her own child"? I mean, in a certain purely scientific sense that's true, but anything purely scientific carries with it no particular moral consequences, so this must mean something else.
Plus, even if parents do have special obligations to their children, it doesn't mean Thomson's argument fails. All you have to do is stipulate that the violinist ends up being one's son or daughter. I imagine Thomson would argue that, while it would be greatly admirable of you to make this sacrifice for your child, and maybe we would even be repulsed by someone who refused, you still would have no obligation to allow the violinist - your son or daughter - to remain hooked up to you. Likewise, just because the embryo inside her is composed (in part) of her genetic material, it doesn't follow that a woman is obligated to carry it to term.
Kos you weasel
My God, Kos is such a whiny little bitch.
First, he posts this, assuring everyone that he's no pacifist, and that his penis is indeed quite hefty:
I'm not anti-war. As I've said before, I'm a military hawk. I supported the Afghanistan War and I supported the Bosna and Kosovo interventions. I'm not one of these touchy-feely hippy types that thinks war is inherently bad. I laugh at people who think they can "visualize peace".The sole purpose of this post is to let everybody know that Markos is a tough guy (hey, did you know he was in the army? If not, he'll be sure to remind you). The substance is almost nil; all he does is make fun of hippies and state that he is not opposed to justified wars. Wow. Kos isn't an absolute pacifist. No shit.
...sometimes, many times, military force is a force for good. There are evil people in the world, doing evil things. And all the sanctions in the world, all the strongly worded denunciations, will never have the effect of a 1,000 pound bomb.
I oppose the Iraq War.
But I refuse to be labeled "anti-war". I'm not. I'm anti this war. Why? Because I'm a war pragmatist. I understand the costs of war, but I also understand the potential benefits.
Kossack Dracowyrm however, takes issue with the big man:
...the problem here, Kos, is that you are operating under a refusal to acknowledge your situation. You're backpedaling furiously from the fact that you are no longer just another guy posting to a blog. You're a spokesperson and a leader, and as such, you have a responsibility to be diplomatic and strategic in your communication. You're building political weight here, and that means that blowing off chunks of your constituency, even if you think their paradigms are ridiculous, is unacceptable.Damn, Draco! I think you just became my personal hero!
... We're already outgunned enough. Don't piss off your allies, even if you think they're wacky. Some of them ARE wacky, but they're still your troops. When I see you post shit like this, I see your youth talking.
You're too important now to talk like a 25-year-old. Grow up ... You are in a position to swing much of that weight in the national debate. Be grateful, and gracious. Don't piss on your friends. You can have strong opinions without having to do that.
And what was the mightily-endowed Kos's response? You guessed it ... "I'm just a guy with a blog!"
I AM a guy with a blog. One that has built a platform that allows lots and lots and lots of people to have their say and organize and advocate for their causes. People want to equate that with "leadership" and assign me "responsibilities".It's true, of course, that no one can force Kos to take responsibility for what he does with his blog. It's also true that that's totally beside the point. With great power comes great responsibility! That is the liberal way!
Well, what happens when i say "fuck that"? Because I'm not being falsely modest when I say I don't want that responsibility nor power and I won't take it. I'm simply not interested.
...you don't like it, it's a huge blogosphere. Nothing is forcing anyone to read this site ... I will not be the be-all end-all of the progressive blogosphere. I'm not interested.
Kos has a moral obligation to use his power for good - and while Kos's power and influence shouldn't be overstated, they are by no means negligible. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Kos is acting like a Republican, trying to weasel his way out of doing the right thing. (Fact-esque compares Kos to the GOP's own Charles "I am not a role model" Barkley.)
He is refusing to take on any responsibility that he isn't legally contracted to. That's not what real progressives do. Real progressives realize that each of us has the responsibility to do what we can to make the world a better place. It's not a responsibility that anyone can enforce - it's one that you are supposed to recognize and perform on your own volition, because that's what people with character do. They don't back away from responsibility; they embrace it, like real men and women.
Be a man, Markos.
It was all just a big misunderstanding
Matt at Cerulean Blue gets to the bottom of the Pat Robertson brouhaha:
When you display blood lust and Rumsfeld flinches...that means you have crossed the Crazy Line
...Robertson is now saying that his blatant, clear-cut statement was misunderstood. He told reporters earlier today: "I said our special forces could take him out. Take him out could be a number of things...I was misinterpreted."
Right. Pat probably meant that we could take Chavez out for ice cream. He was just watching TV one night, saw a commercial for the new "peanut buster" parfait at Dairy Queen and thought, "I bet the president of Venezuela would love that!"
This is sick
Oliver Willis is hawking Democratic Party t-shirts. This is one of them:
(It says "Truman Dropped The Bomb," if you can't read the print on the shirt.)
Is that supposed to be fucking funny? This is the kind of thing that makes me not want to be a Democrat. I don't know what the fuck Willis is thinking, but he should think again.
UPDATE: Buyo has some more t-shirt designs that Oliver Willis might like.
UPDATE 2: Ron Brynaert also has a suggestion.
Another one bites the dust
Ron Brynaert catches yet another right-wing plagiarist red-handed.
Hitch the hypocrite
Recently, uber-jackass Christopher Hitchens insinuated that Cindy Sheehan was guilty of anti-Semitism, on the grounds that she had expressed 'anti-Zionist' views.
Max Blumenthal - who knows a little something about being smeared by the drink-sodden former Trotskyist popinjay - demonstrates that by his own standards, Hitchens himself is an anti-Semite.
The standards are bullshit, of course; anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. But Hitchens is indeed a hypocrite. As well as a truly disgusting sack of shit.
Your Village Voice quotes a great essay on TomPaine.com:
Back in the United States, while the growth of anti-war sentiment is apparent, much of the criticism - especially what's spotlighted in news media - is based on distress that American casualties are continuing without any semblance of victory. In effect, many commentators see the problem as a grievous failure to kill enough of the bad guys in Iraq and sufficiently intimidate the rest.YVV adds:
But some questions are based on assumptions that should be rejected - and "What is it going to take to win?" is one of them. In Iraq, the U.S. occupation force can't "win." More importantly, it has no legitimate right to try.
True opposition to the Iraq War needs to challenge not just the reasons for war, but the fundamental tenant that this war should be won.Yes. This is exactly the point I was trying to make yesterday. The Iraq war is an unjust and criminal enterprise. In a saner world, we wouldn't be talking about "exit strategies," we'd be talking about trying the members of the Bush administration for war crimes.
Rather than bickering on how the US ended up in Iraq and how to make the best of it, there needs to be a plan to leave, not based on winning ... This war cannot and should not be won ... Let it go.
We're all extremists, now.
Amanda Marcotte has finally been swayed by the Scaredy-crats and assorted misogynists who want to sell out women's reproductive rights for political gain:
I've changed my tune. For the Democrats to win, what they need to do is blow off the huge numbers of pro-choice Republican women who are very close to changing their votes over the Republicans' contempt for their basic rights in a futile effort to woo a couple of hardline conservatives away. I'm sure any day now the people swooning over the cock in a flight suit will suddenly say, "You know? I like the Republicans because they talk big and make me feel powerful and manly. But the Democrats offer a weak version of exactly the same thing, so I'll go with them." Any...day...now.Hey, don't despair. Just remember the DLC game plan:
1. Act like Republicans.
3. Electoral success!
I'm blegging you
I realize this post is going to be inherently self-contradictory, but can we please, please, please stop talking about Fred Phelps, he of "God Hates Fags" fame? Everything the guy does is designed to maximize the amount of attention paid to him, and with every stunt he pulls people give him exactly what he wants - outrage. I mean, why do you think he called his website "God Hates Fags"? The guy clearly thrives on his notoriety. So let's not give it to him. He's not important enough to warrant it.
Ignoring the obvious
This isn't one of those Daily Kos bashing posts, but I do have a quibble - perhaps more than just a quibble - with this post by Armando:
I was one who thought there were chemical and biological weapons in Iraq and still thought the war a terrible idea because the result of the war would be worse than the potential threat. I believed the war would destroy the global alliance against terrorism and inflame anti-American sentiment in the Arab world, thus serving the purposes of the terrorists. I believed that while toppling Saddam was not going to be a particularly difficult task, occupying Iraq and making a stable secure nation of it was a daunting task requiring full global cooperation.This is all right as far as it goes, but what's missing is the fact that the invasion of Iraq wasn't just a "strategic blunder" or a "debacle" - it was a crime.
Was I really prescient? Well, I love patting myself on the back but I needed only to listen to George Bush to reach these conclusions. Yes, George Herbert Walker Bush knew the War would be a Debacle all along. I believed him.
...The Iraq Debacle is a strategic blunder of immense proportions, the greatest since Vietnam at the least. Those who urged this disaster will live in history as promoters of this disaster. Be they Democrat or Republican. But that is for the history books. The question now is what can we do?
Hope is not a plan. Telling us what we already knew is not a solution. Iraq is a Debacle and there is precious little we can do about it now. Some will call me defeatist. Would that there was some of my "defeatism" around when the cheering for this Debacle was going on.
A similar narrative took hold in the years after the Vietnam War. Even those who opposed the war - especially those in the media - tended to base their opposition on their belief that Vietnam was a "strategic blunder," a noble cause that was unfortunately doomed to fail. Little is said about the fact that Vietnam was a war of aggression, that up to four million civilians lost their lives, that war crimes were a matter of course.
We are in danger of the same thing happening with Iraq. Iraq may indeed have been a strategic blunder; it is in fact a debacle. But it was never a noble cause (the real war, that is, not the one deluded liberal hawks were imagining in their heads) and it should not be treated as such, even if this means Republicans accuse us of being anti-American (word to the wise: they'll do that anyway).
It's not just Armando, of course; this is a common error among the mainstream anti-war left. What's worse, though, is that the same blinders that cause this error are also in place in a lot of the analyses I read regarding what to do next in Iraq. Almost without exception, commentary on this issue, whether it advocates immediate withdrawal or 'staying the course', revolves around what is best for US interests. What is in the best interest of the Iraqis is given short shrift. This is unacceptable, even if it is understandable.
A post from the Malkins' guest blogger is a perfect example of a troublesome but common rightwing ideological affliction.
IDIOTARIANS SHUN USS IOWALet's just go ahead and assume, for the sake of argument, that the decision by the board was an expression of their hatred for the military. Notice how that is conflated with hatred for their country ("I know, we're not supposed to question any leftist's patriotism")? As if love of country and love of all things military were one and the same?
I know, I know, we're not supposed to question any leftist's patriotism. So how then should we make sense of this?The USS Iowa joined in battles from World War II to Korea to the Persian Gulf. It carried President Franklin Roosevelt home from the Teheran conference of allied leaders, and four decades later, suffered one of the nation's most deadly military accidents.I am about to type a sentence that I never thought I'd type: Diane Feinstein is absolutely right. And this decision by the SF board is, well, petty, venal and small.
Veterans groups and history buffs had hoped that tourists in San Francisco could walk the same teak decks where sailors dodged Japanese machine-gun fire and fired 16-inch guns that helped win battles across the South Pacific.
Instead, it appears that the retired battleship is headed about 80 miles inland, to Stockton, a gritty agricultural port town on the San Joaquin River and home of California's annual asparagus festival.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a former San Francisco mayor, helped secure $3 million to tow the Iowa from Rhode Island to the Bay Area in 2001 in hopes of making touristy Fisherman's Wharf its new home.
But city supervisors voted 8-3 last month to oppose taking in the ship, citing local opposition to the Iraq war and the military's stance on gays, among other things.
"If I was going to commit any kind of money in recognition of war, then it should be toward peace, given what our war is in Iraq right now," Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said.
Feinstein called it a "very petty decision."
I think for many right-wingers, they are.
No blood for leverage
Joe Gandelman and Michelle Malkin's guest blogger both link to a very silly post on a blog called Generation Why (motto: "Every morning when I wake up, I read the Bible and the Newspaper... Because I want to know what both sides are up to." Seriously.):
The Democrats promised us this war was about oil. With gas prices soaring, I'm still waiting to benefit from trading "blood for oil". How much more sacrifice do we need to make before I can fill up the tank for under $30 again?This 'argument' is 'supported' by a link to an article at 'The National Interest', which contains this impressively stupid passage:
...As a business decision, invading Iraq "for the oil" is a loser, a big loser. Anyone who would propose, in a corporate boardroom, invading Iraq for the oil would probably find his career rather short. No, the slogan "no war for oil" is a blatant misrepresentation propagated for political reasons.
Estimates of the costs to the government of the United States for an invasion of Iraq seem to be mostly between $50 billion to $200 billion. If we invade Iraq for oil, the U.S. government must be able to derive a benefit from the oil greater than this cost. What is not clear is how Washington would be paid back for the war.All right, first of all, what this completely misses is that the costs of the war come out of the public coffers, while any profits - and there are profits to be had - flow back into private hands. A cost-benefit analysis is beside the point when someone else is footing the bill for the expenditures. It's all found money at that point. The war profiteering isn't being done by some entity "Washington" or even the US as a nation; it's being done by US corporate interests, with the assistance of their proxies in the White House and Congress.
Second, these passages indicate a misunderstanding of the role of oil in US foreign policy. When analysts say that a major factor in the invasion and occupation of Iraq is the presence of petroleum, they don't mean that the Bush administration was planning to seize control of Iraq's oil fields and ship the product back home to the States. Rather, the idea is that the enormous petroleum reserves there ensure that control of Iraq is of great strategic importance.* Noam Chomsky calls it an issue of "critical leverage":
...control over two-thirds of the world’s estimated hydrocarbon reserves—uniquely cheap and easy to exploit—provides what Zbigniew Brzezinski recently called “critical leverage” over European and Asian rivals, what George Kennan many years earlier had called “veto power” over them. These have been crucial policy concerns throughout the post-World War II period, even more so in today’s evolving tripolar world, with its threat that Europe and Asia might move towards greater independence, and worse, might be united: China and the EU became each other’s major trading partners in 2004, joined by the world’s second largest economy (Japan), and those tendencies are likely to increase. A firm hand on the spigot reduces these dangers.In other words, we never said the Bush administration went to war in Iraq to lower your gas prices, fucktards. They went to war for the reason the US usually goes to war - to protect and promote American hegemony.
Note that the critical issue is control, not access. U.S. policies towards the Middle East were the same when it was a net exporter of oil, and remain the same today when U.S. intelligence projects that the U.S. will rely on more stable Atlantic Basin resources. Policies would be likely to be about the same if the U.S. were to switch to renewable energy. The need to control the “stupendous source of strategic power” ... would remain.
* Interestingly, a similar dynamic is at work with regard to another one of Iraq's natural resources - water. The issue of water rights is rarely mentioned in discussion about the war, but it is highly significant (details here), as well as illuminative regarding the oil discussion: the US didn't invade Iraq to cart its water off stateside, but that doesn't mean water didn't have a hell of a lot to do with the reasons for invading. The same is true with regard to oil.
(cross-posted at Liberal Street Fighter.)
Are the Democrats really divided?
Everyone's going on about supposed division within the Democratic Party, between 'hawks' and 'doves'.
But is this division real? I mean, is there really such a division among actual Democrats, as in other than the handful of assholes who are invited, foolishly, by Josh Marshall to publish their bullshit apologias for American military aggression on his site?
Those who reside in the left wing of the Democratic Party (such as it is) like to chide DLC Scaredy-crats for being out of touch with the proletariat and seeing everything from the perspective of the Beltway. But we have to be careful to do the same thing, and not grant the cowardly 'New Democrat' chickenhawks more importance than they deserve (something I myself am guilty of at times). They still have to be dealt with because of their influence on the media, but it's important to remember that these idiots represent no one but themselves. A 'division' between a handful of losers - and I do mean losers - and the rest of the party is not really that big of a deal.
Kos on the DLC:
Two more weeks, folks, before we take them on, head on.This better be good.
No calls for a truce will be brooked. The DLC has used those pauses in the past to bide their time between offensives. Appeals to party unity will fall on deaf ears (it's summer of a non-election year, the perfect time to sort out internal disagreements).
We need to make the DLC radioactive. And we will. With everyone's help, we really can. Stay tuned.
If Kos can bring down the DLC, I'll be tempted to take back most of the bad things I've said about him. I probably won't, but I'll be tempted.
Not that he, or anybody else for that matter, even gives a shit.
Has anybody else noticed the relative silence from the right side of the blogosphere about the news that Islam will be the basis for the Iraq government?
I'm sure there's got to be some mention of it somewhere, and I only read a limited number of right-wing blogs. But still...
Right-wingers are making fun of Joan Baez, blogging about pro wrestling, reviewing movies ... but they don't seem to think this news is worth talking about.
Usually, wild horses can't stop them from going on about the evils of Islam.
UPDATE: Andy McCarthy raises the issue at The Corner; Jonah Goldberg (!) responds. Both find it problematic (McCarthy forcefully so). Good for them.
Conventional wisdom finally catching up with reality?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn...
Hagel Says Iraq War Looking More Like Vietnam
WASHINGTON (AP) - A leading Republican senator said Sunday the war in Iraq is looking more like the Vietnam conflict from a generation ago.
Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, who received two Purple Hearts and other military honors for his service in Vietnam, reaffirmed his position that the United States needs to develop a strategy to leave Iraq.
"Stay the course is not a policy," said Hagel, a possible White House contender in 2008. "By any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq ... we're not winning."
...Hagel said more U.S. troops is not the solution.
"We're past that stage now because now we are locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam," Hagel said. "The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have."
..."What I think the White House does not yet understand - and some of my colleagues - the dam has broke on this policy," Hagel said. "The longer we stay there, the more similarities (to Vietnam) are going to come together."
The real traitors
Sirota: "...the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) is once again undermining the Democratic Party. This time, it has accused war critics of anti-American bias..."
Infuriating. I want Al From's head on a platter!
The Corner's Sister Souljah moment
The Corner's Andy McCarthy (no, not that Andy McCarthy) is full of despair:
For what it’s worth, this is where I get off the bus. The principal mission of the so-called “war on terror” – which is actually a war on militant Islam – is to destroy the capacity of the international network of jihadists to project power in a way that threatens American national security. That is the mission that the American people continue to support.
As those who follow these pages may know, I have been despairing for a long time over the fact that the principal mission has been subordinated by what I’ve called the “democracy diversion” – the administration’s theory that the (highly dubious) prospect of democratizing Iraq and the Islamic world will quell the Islamists. (Aside: go ask Israelis if they think the fledgling “democracy” in Gaza and the West Bank – which is very likely to bring Hamas to power – promotes their national security.)
Now, if several reports this weekend are accurate, we see the shocking ultimate destination of the democracy diversion. In the desperation to complete an Iraqi constitution – which can be spun as a major step of progress on the march toward democratic nirvana – the United States of America is pressuring competing factions to accept the supremacy of Islam and the fundamental principle no law may contradict Islamic principles.
There is grave reason to doubt that Islam and democracy (at least the Western version based on liberty and equality) are compatible. But that is an argument for another day. The argument for today is: the American people were never asked whether they would commit their forces to overseas hostilities for the purpose of turning Iraq into a democracy (we committed them (a) to topple a terror-abetting tyrant who was credibly thought both to have and to covet weapons of mass destruction, and (b) to kill or capture jihadists who posed a danger to American national security). I doubt they would have agreed to wage war for the purpose of establishing democracy. Like most Americans, I would like to see Iraq be an authentic democracy – just as I would like to see Iran, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, etc. be authentic democracies. But I would not sacrifice American lives to make it so.
But even if I suspended disbelief for a moment and agreed that the democracy project is a worthy casus belli, I am as certain as I am that I am breathing that the American people would not put their brave young men and women in harm’s way for the purpose of establishing an Islamic government. Anyplace.
It is not our place to fix what ails Islam. But it is utter recklessness to avert our eyes from the fact that militant Islam thrives wherever Islam reigns. That is a fact. When and where militant Islam thrives, America and the West are endangered. That is also a fact. How can we possibly be urging people who wisely don’t want it to accept the government-institutionalized supremacy of Islam?
UPDATE: Digby, who has a way of hitting the nail on the head, responds to McCarthy:
His argument is that establishing an Islamic theocracy in Iraq furthers the goals of the violent Islamic fundamentalists, which is a big "no shit." But, of course, the war itself, from the very beginning, has furthered the goals of violent islamic fundamentalists. This is just frosting on the whole fetid cakewalk.
What this really does is put the coda to the last phony cassus belli --- that by bringing freedom and democracy to a country in the heart of the middle east we would plant the seeds for a thousand flowers to grow. Now, along with the other rationales, we can throw this one on the "no longer operative" pile.
I got an e-mail from someone I respect asking me why I made such a big deal out of women's rights being denied when there are so many other freedoms at stake. It's a legitimate question I suppose, but I think the question answers itself. The fact is that under Saddam, in their everyday lives, one half of the population had more real, tangible freedom than they have now and that they will have under some form of Shar'ia. The sheer numbers of people whose freedom are affected make it the most glaring and tragic symbol of our failed "noble cause."
Iraqi women have enjoyed secular, western-style equality for more than 40 years. Most females have no memory of living any other way. In order to meet an arbitrary deadline for domestic political reasons, we have capitulated to theocrats on the single most important constitutional issue facing the average Iraqi woman --- which means that we have now officially failed more than half of the Iraqis we supposedly came to help. We have "liberated" millions of people from rights they have had all their lives.
...Creating an Islamic theocracy is anything but noble. It is a moral failure of epic proportions.