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On the Exploitation of Mass Murder

[ 129 ] July 25, 2011 |

Jennifer Rubin didn’t have such a good weekend. As a general rule, it’s pretty easy not to use the murder of ninety-three Norwegians to shill for the defense industry.  For example, instead of leaping to the conclusion that Islamic terrorists were responsible for the attacks, then denouncing advocates of defense cuts as insufficiently attentive to “evil,” Jennifer Rubin could have gone for a walk.  She could have taken a nap, changed the oil in her car, read a book, watched a baseball game, or baked a cake.  Any one of those might have delayed her  contribution sufficiently to make clear that there was at least a chance that the attack wasn’t perpetrated by Islamic extremists.  Had she just waited a short while before publishing a post using ninety-three dead Norwegians as props to attack anyone who proposed cuts to the US defense budget, then she might not have been subjected to the cruel (if righteous) derision of her political enemies. To be sure, using fresh corpses to dress up a political position is always ethically sketchy, but the fact that Rubin got the particulars of the incident so strikingly wrong made for a noxious brew of amorality and stupidity.

Wait. Before. You. Post. If it helps, “WAPO” can be read as a shorthand reminder for WAit before you POst.

But of course she didn’t, and now we have a situation.  Here’s what she wrote on Friday:

This is a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists. I spoke to Gary Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute, who has been critical of proposed cuts in defense and of President Obama’s Afghanistan withdrawal plan. “There has been a lot of talk over the past few months on how we’ve got al-Qaeda on the run and, compared with what it once was, it’s become a rump organization. But as the attack in Oslo reminds us, there are plenty of al-Qaeda allies still operating. No doubt cutting the head off a snake is important; the problem is, we’re dealing with global nest of snakes…”

… Some irresponsible lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — I will point the finger at Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and yet backed the Gang of Six scheme to cut $800 billion from defense — would have us believe that enormous defense cuts would not affect our national security. Obama would have us believe that al-Qaeda is almost caput and that we can wrap up things in Afghanistan. All of these are rationalizations for doing something very rash, namely curbing our ability to defend the United States and our allies in a very dangerous world.

Ahem.

It’s clear she was either embarrassed by this, or a touch concerned about her job; there are clearly no worries on the latter front, since Fred Hiatt has ensured that there is no mortal sin but one that conservatives can commit under the Washington Post banner. Nevertheless, this is rich:

That the suspect here is a blond Norwegian does not support the proposition that we can rest easy with regard to the panoply of threats we face or that homeland security, intelligence and traditional military can be pruned back. To the contrary, the world remains very dangerous because very bad people will do horrendous things. There are many more jihadists than blond Norwegians out to kill Americans, and we should keep our eye on the systemic and far more potent threats that stem from an ideological war with the West.

In our own debates about national security, conservatives argue that national security spending is deserving of a higher priority than other expenditures. The defense budget is not numbers on a balance sheet as some of those on the left and right insist. Cutting defense spending is not the same as cutting domestic spending. That light rail project can wait, or states can do it, or we can decide it’s a boondoggle not worth doing even if we had the money. But national security is solely a federal function, and it can’t be put off.

There’s a certain risk in engaging too closely with this, as if it’s something that should be regarded as a “conversation starter.”  Nevertheless, if you pay careful attention you’ll note two things. First, upper class tax cuts appear to be more important than either the defense budget or domestic spending. There’s not even any consideration given to the notion that higher revenues might enable both higher defense and higher domestic spending.  Rubin has spent most of the weekend lauding John Boehner’s efforts to ensure that the federal government of the United States collects only a minimal amount of revenue; there’s no hint whatsoever that she considers the possibility that defense might be funded through additional taxes. That should be enough to demonstrate how serious Jennifer Rubin really is about defense spending; that next aircraft carrier is critically important, unless millionaires have to pay a slightly higher tax rate in order to finance it.

Second, Rubin doesn’t bother to defend any specific level of military spending. The argument made for defense cuts by just about everyone is that the military component of security is oversupplied in the United States; we spend more than we actually need in order to defend ourselves. A corollary of this argument is the (rather obvious) observation that aircraft carriers, F-35s, and armored personnel carriers are relatively inefficient ways of defending the United States from terrorists. Rubin doesn’t bother to engage with this argument. Aircraft carriers may be great at what they do, but Rubin makes the case for the defense budget specifically in terms of the fight against terrorism and the indefinite occupation of Afghanistan.

This goes to the greater irony behind Rubin’s initial argument.  The Oslo attacks do demonstrate rather conclusively that it is possible to launch mass casualty attacks without support from “safe havens” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.  Over the past ten years, ideologically committed individuals and groups have found it relatively easy to do tremendous damage without significant material links to terrorist camps and networks in the places Rubin thinks we need to bomb.  In a sense, the early Islamophobic reaction to the Oslo bombings actually makes more sense than Rubin’s account; if the problem really is bad people, then the real remedies are in immigration, assimilation, and domestic security policy, rather than the purchase of extraordinarily expensive military equipment and the conquest and occupation of “rogue” states.  Of course, given that illiberal assimilation policy and rhetoric appear to generate ideological committed individuals prepared to undertake both Islamic and right wing terrorism, the Islamophobe solution doesn’t really work, either.  However, it’s also worth pointing out that the  implications of the conquest and indefinite occupation of Islamic countries for domestic terrorism ought to be taken seriously.

But it’s not really as if Jennifer Rubin thought all of this through when she decided to decorate her paean to the defense budget with 93 dead Norwegians.  She was given a perch by the Washington Post, and she’s decided to use it to shill for the defense industry.  The particulars aren’t really relevant.  The only reason this specific case is notable is that she got the details so terribly wrong that she looks like a moron as well as a hack.   The editors of the Washington Post knew who she was and what she would do when they hired her.  They bear ultimate responsibility for the gross indecency of her writing.

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  1. R. Porrofatto says:

    Excellent post. Rubin’s curbing our ability to defend the United States and our allies in a very dangerous world is the war spending advocate’s version of Why do you hate America? Not to mitigate Rubin’s hackery, but the knee-jerkism evinced by the AEI flack she quotes…

    But as the attack in Oslo reminds us, there are plenty of al-Qaeda allies still operating.

    …shows yet again how absurdly influential right-wing think tanks don’t really do much thinking at all.

  2. DrDick says:

    There are many more jihadists than blond Norwegians out to kill Americans

    Actually, there are far more white, conservative, American Christian extremists out to kill Americans (they have committed more acts of terrorism in the US than everyone else combined in the past 40 years) than jihadists.

    As to cutting defense spending, there is absolutely no possible justification for spending almost as much as the rest of the world combined, as we now do. If we slashed defense spending by 2/3, we would still spend more than double the next highest (China). This is the largest line item in the budget, as well as the most pork laden, corrupted, inefficient, and wasteful. Any serious debt reduction strategy focusing on cuts starts with at least a 50% reduction in defense spending.

    • Carl B. says:

      Actually, there are far more white, conservative, American Christian extremists out to kill Americans (they have committed more acts of terrorism in the US than everyone else combined in the past 40 years) than jihadists.

      This is an interesting statement. Do you have a cite for this?

        • gmack says:

          I think it is perhaps even more appropriate to include all of the attacks on abortion providers.

          • DrDick says:

            Indeed. The “right to life” (sic) movement alone has accounted for more terrorist attacks against Americans not in a combat zone than all the jihadists combined.

            • Matt W says:

              I don’t disagree; there have been well over a hundred bombings and arsons connected to anti-abortion wackos. However, as a matter of scale, a total of 8 people have been killed by the anti-abortion crazies — horrible, absolutely, but pales in comparison to the many thousands killed by extremist Christian groups seeking to suppress black enfranchisement.

              • DrDick says:

                The goal of terrorism is to terrorize, killing is simply a means to that end. I would argue that the constant threat of violence created by the anti-abortion forces has been more effective at that than the Islamic extremists. Fewer and fewer doctors are willing to perform abortions as a result.

        • DrDick says:

          There is also this and this.

        • CarlB. says:

          So, do we just ignore the extremist Islamists because there are others that have also been bad actors?

          In all fairness, I understand what you’re saying. But most of these are targeted killings. The one incident of 911 took almost 3,000 lives and none of these people were actually targeted. It was mass murder for mass murder’s sake. The shooter the military base recently shouted “Allah Akbar” and killed anything that moved. None of those people were targeted.

          Does any of this matter.

          • So, do we just ignore the extremist Islamists because there are others that have also been bad actors?

            Not just “other bad actors,” but many, many more bad actors.

            To answer your question: yes, at this particular moment, on a thread about a massive terrorist attack committed by a white, Christian, anti-Muslim right-winger, yes we absolutely ignore any irrelevant argument or point about teh skeery Mooslems, because there is absolutely no reason to discuss a topic so utterly irrelevant to the story, except to justify and diminish this crime.

            • CarlB. says:

              I was waiting for the race card.

              Thanks for not making me wait long.

              • I love the way wingnuts getting their ass kicked think that uttering the magic words “race card” will make their utterly inability to defend their position less obvious.

                It’s like their white flag.

                • Warren Terra says:

                  Please, it’s like their ostentatiously color-neutral flag of surrender.

                • snarkout says:

                  It’s like their white flag.

                  They don’t even see color.

                • cer says:

                  I’m not sure how it’s a race card to point out that this guy was motivated by hatred for Muslims. Muslims are not a race nor is it a scare tactic to point out what were his factual motivations.

                • their ostentatiously color-neutral flag

                  You’re right, I think I just “played the race card” on the troll again.

                  Lol.

                • Anonymous says:

                  I’m not sure how it’s a race card to point out that this guy was motivated by hatred for Muslims.

                  It’s not. It’s because everyone wants to make sure he was WHITE. Do you think it would have been reported the same way if he were black?

                  Doubtful

                • It’s because everyone wants to make sure he was WHITE. Do you think it would have been reported the same way if he were black?

                  You’re writing this, two days after virtually the entire mainstream media and the entire right wing media kept reporting over and over about the likelihood that the perpetrator was Muslim?

                • Atticus Dogsbody says:

                  It’s not. It’s because everyone wants to make sure he was WHITE. Do you think it would have been reported the same way if he were black?

                  So, if he’d been a Christian conservative terrorist of, say, African or East Asian descent, who had a deep hatred of Muslims, leftists and assorted wets, wrote a 1,500 page screed refencing various islamophobes from around the globe, and proceed to act violently on his bigoted ideals, then the reporting would be different?

                  I don’t think that you’re full of shit, I know it.

              • Ed Marshall says:

                Christian conservative terrorist of, say, African or East Asian descent, who had a deep hatred of Muslims, leftists and assorted wets

                The obvious suspect would be Michelle Malkin, and obviously it wouldn’t alter the coverage one iota.

          • DrDick says:

            The one incident of 911 took almost 3,000 lives and none of these people were actually targeted.

            Neither was the Oklahoma City bombing. The point is not that we should pay no attention to Islamic extremists, but that we should be realistic about the actual minor threat they pose in the US (there have only been a handful of these incidents though one was quite spectacular). We also need to focus much more on the generally ignored and much more serious threat of rightwing domestic terrorists. It is a question of rational priorities.

          • Does any of this matter.

            For my safety, as a resident of a western nation, the facts you brought up matter much, much less than do the acts of terrorism carried out by white, right-wing Christians.

          • cer says:

            Is body count the only thing that matters? Because the intimidation factor of targeting killings is pretty profound. Abortion providers can’t find insurers and have to factor in the cost of personal protection, building security, etc. in order to operate. That’s effective terrorism that has, with significant assistance from political actors, made abortion increasingly difficult to obtain.

            • CarlB. says:

              Is body count the only thing that matters? Because the intimidation factor of targeting killings is pretty profound.

              One I can measure. What do I do for the other….take your opinion for it?

              • Furious Jorge says:

                You sound like every Office Space-style manager I’ve ever worked for.

                “Sure, we may be measuring the wrong thing … but at least we’re measuring something!”

          • Holden Pattern says:

            Please explain what you mean by “targeting”. Because it sounds very much like apologia for domestic* right-wing terrorists — as long as they’re only targeting liberals or black folk, or doctors, it doesn’t count.

            Also, who is “ignoring” Islamist terrorism? That is a classic form of bullshit trolling, where you get to pretend that people not on your side aren’t worried about something when they are *also* worried about something else, and may prioritize differently than you.

            * Where Islamist terrorism is also a right-wing phenomenon, just of a different kind.

            • cer says:

              This also reminds me of trollish arguments being made that lynching was exaggerated to score political points for minorities because it really wasn’t “that many people” which both minimizes the actual violence AND the role of intimidation in the everyday lives of those targeted for intimidation.

              And this “what about the Muslins!” stuff obfuscates the fact that the explosion of Islamophobia is precisely what motivated this monster.

            • scythia says:

              Where Islamist terrorism is also a right-wing phenomenon, just of a different kind.

              THIS.

          • kth says:

            Of course we shouldn’t ignore Muslim extremists. We merely shouldn’t pretend that they are different from violent fanatics of other faiths.

    • Absurdity says:

      Yeah, just think of all the people tossed onto the streets during Reagan’s rule when the state hospitals were forced to close. Now here we are again cutting social programs which means less food for those that are starving and less health care for those that have little or no money or mental health issues.

      Love how those right-wingers are so concerned for their fellow Christians.

  3. Anon says:

    The editors of the Washington Post knew who she was and what she would do when he hired her. They bears ultimate responsibility for the gross indecency of her writing.

    … he … bears …

    Way to namecheck Hiatt. =)

  4. jon says:

    She was absolutely right, in the sense that intolerant religious fundamentalist racist gun nuts everywhere are allies of alQaeda. They might have different targets and beneficiaries in mind, but they want the same things.

    • Terrorists are more like other terrorists, regardless of their ideological overlay, than they are like non-terrorists with similar ideologies.

      • That may be true in terms of goals and methods, but in the context of security I think there are important differences, and I think that’s where Rubin goes off the rails completely. Drones and aircraft carriers don’t do anything against domestic threats, and home-grown attacks seem to be more common.

        • Not just goals and methods, but personality and motivation.

          Mohammed Atta would have gotten along great with the Symbionese Liberation Army. They would have argued long into the night, finding that they share a very visceral, basic view of the world, but needing to lapse into poly-syllabic, almost academic language to discuss their differences.

  5. Alan Tomlinson says:

    I don’t listen to people who claim that the earth is flat. I don’t listen to creationists. I don’t listen to racists.

    Cheers,

    Alan Tomlinson

  6. BigHank53 says:

    You’ve used the verb “think” quite a bit in this post, but you haven’t provided any evidence that Rubin can think, even if she were willing to.

  7. Daragh McDowell says:

    Bruce Bawer at the WSJ is at it too. Apparently a lot of Breivik’s manifesto voiced ‘legitimate concerns.’

    • firefall says:

      yes but the WSJ is a completely worthless rightwing rag, and always has been. The WaPo is meant to be an actual newspaper (altho evidence for this has been thin on the ground of recent years)

      • NonyNony says:

        The WaPo has always been the mouthpiece of “establishment journalism”. Where the “establishment” is liberal, the WaPo is liberal. Where the “establishment” is conservative, the WaPo is conservative.

        The WaPo has never been an “actual newspaper” if by that you mean a platform for fair and accurate editorial commentary. The editorial page of the WaPo has always been most useful as a glimpse into what the technocrats of Washington DC believe – much as the editorial page of the WSJ used to be useful as a glimpse into what the investment bankers and CEOs of Fortune 500 believed.

    • Vertov says:

      Bawer’s arguments are especially strange when you consider the man lives in Norway. He makes his living in part by harshly criticizing his adopted country.

      DU

      • If I was Bawer, I’d be very worried. Our local European anti-immigration right-wingers want to deport foreign nationals who “do not share our values”, are “poorly assimilated” and “hold the native population in contempt.” and these planks of their platforms are very popular with the general population. As of last weekend, the underlying assumption that these criteria only apply to brown people will no longer automatically hold true.

        • OsloBitch says:

          …these planks of their platforms are very popular with the general population.

          They can have their own opinions as long as they agree with us.

    • SenorSwiffer says:

      Admittedly, it would be difficult for him to come to any other conclusion since he’s quoted approvingly several times in the manifesto. Might lead to a lot of awkward self-reflection and reconsideration of deeply held assumptions.

      This excerpt from Bawer’s piece is a fascinating look into his mind: “During the hours when I thought that Oslo had been attacked by jihadists, I wept for the city that has been my home for many years. And I hoped Norwegian leaders would respond to this act of violence by taking a more responsible approach to the problems they face in connection with Islam. When it emerged that these acts of terror were the work of a native Norwegian who thought he was striking a blow against jihadism and its enablers, it was immediately clear to me that his violence will deal a heavy blow to an urgent cause.”

      So when you thought it was Muslims behind the attack, the appropriate reaction was to root out and oppose the ideology that had proven to be such a profound threat to society. But when you found out it was a white guy… couldn’t be anything wrong with the ideology, he was just misguided.

  8. Chris Dornan says:

    as McNulty would say, spot on!

  9. Mike Schilling says:

    So now that it’s known that Brevik plagiarized from the Unabomber, he won’t get a blog at the Post. Good thing RedState has no such qualms.

    • gmack says:

      Indeed. The next entirely predictable talking point is that it will turn out that Breivik is really a liberal after all.

      • cer says:

        Oh the “he’s a leftist” claims are as inevitable as sunrise. I will be interested to see how 1) they spin his whole “cultural marxist” argument especially in light of the fact 2) he chose not to target immigrants but leftists.

  10. John says:

    Agreed on this. It’s worth noting that, from the opposite direction, Glenn Greenwald is about as bad.

    In that piece, before knowing anything, he seems to basically be implying that Norway’s chickens are coming home to roost or its participation in NATO missions in Afghanistan and Libya. Of course, being Greenwald, he weasels around this with lots of “of course this isn’t to justify these horrible crimes.” But really, he’s saying that Norway should expect brutal attacks on civilians due to their foreign policy. When it became clear that this attack wasn’t carried out by Muslims, he mostly doubled down, claiming that his post really had nothing to do with the specifics of the attack, even though he pretty clearly said that he was implying “causation,” but not “justification,” when Norway’s military interventions against Muslim states can hardly be seen as a cause why a right-wing racist would decide to murder a bunch of people.

    Conclusion: Greenwald is the worst.

    • That piece would be a nauseating disgrace even if Greenwald’s assumption that a Muslim committed the attacks had been true.

      How many variations of “this doesn’t excuse terrorism, BUT…” can you count? Glenn really like the word “Still…” at the beginning of sentences.

    • Richard says:

      Youre right, despicable article, in the same league as Rubin. And even after he learned that the killer was Norwegian, he had the gall to write that his analysis was still correct (even though Norway’s involvement in Afghanistan and Libya obviously had NOTHING to do with these murders) and predict- it seems inaccurately – that if the killer was non-Muslim, that Western media interest in the massacre would immediately end.

      • SenorSwiffer says:

        Both in the article itself and in the update he makes clear that he’s addressing the repeated references to Norway as a “peaceful nation” in the media.

        His prediction about media interest in the attacks was certainly wrong, though.

        • Both in the article itself and in the update he makes clear that he’s addressing the repeated references to Norway as a “peaceful nation” in the media.

          Indeed, that is the predominant theme of his piece.

          Glenn Greenwald read several stories about this mass murder terrorist attack, and decided that the most important commentary he could make was to point out that the media was going way too easy on Norway. At least, that was he reaction when he was assuming that the attack was carried out by a Muslim.

          What an odd thing to choose as your topic when writing about the episode. A bit like reading a story about a woman who was attacked, and using your blog to take exception to the story’s characterization of her dress as “modest.”

          • Bijan Parsia says:

            I think that’s too strong and I don’t think the analogy between Greenwald’s piece and Rubin’s is all that good either. Rubin is pushing a policy prescription on explicitly false grounds. Greenwald is making a point about the media coverage of the tragedy that is arguably correct and perhaps helpful: Characterizing Norway as “peaceful” (when it is, in fact, at war) plays into a generally, highly problematic narrative.

            Now, there is an argument that the timing is poor, but meh. The probability that someone closely affected by the event reading Greenwald seems low enough. It exposes him to attack, but is the attack spot on? The article didn’t reek of callousness to me, nor did it seem anti Muslim or pro-Jihadist or anti-western whatever.

            To give an analogy, some years ago I was watching (and listening to) fireworks on the 4th and I was struck by the fact that I could, without question, enjoy the sound of (simulated) bombing. It made me think about places where the sound of a bomb heralds death and destruction rather than pretty lights and celebration. I find that a useful reflection.

            I don’t usually share those reflections, esp. near an event.

            • cer says:

              What an odd thing to choose as your topic when writing about the episode. A bit like reading a story about a woman who was attacked, and using your blog to take exception to the story’s characterization of her dress as “modest.”

              That depends. If the purpose is to complain about how media coverage of violence against women often reiterates the tropes that justify that violence (ie, commenting on her clothing), then that seems like a rather relevant piece of coverage, about how we talk about violence rather than about the violence itself. This seems to me to be the parallel to Greenwald’s argument, not just the pre-existing narrative about who commits terrorism but pre-existing narratives about who does not (ie, supposedly “peaceful nations” like Norway.) The media immediately leaped to incredulity about the targeting of Norway. I did not see any sort of chickens coming home to roost argument but a bigger argument about how the west represents its own violence. He was definitely wrong about the decline in interest in the attacks (though time will tell how enduring it will be). Perhaps because in part he likely did not anticipate the strength of the American angle/ties to American politics.

              • If the purpose is to complain about how media coverage of violence against women often reiterates the tropes that justify that violence (ie, commenting on her clothing), then that seems like a rather relevant piece of coverage, about how we talk about violence rather than about the violence itself.

                I would like to point out that, in this case, the parallel would be to a media that is said to downplay the responsibility of female victims for their assaults, and Greenwald is the guy describing how low her neckline is and how tight her pants are.

                Or perhaps an even better parallel would be between a media that reports about Islam being peaceful, and blogger who hates that meme and responds by listing all of the examples he can find of Muslim violence. We’ve all seen plenty of columns like that, btw. How often do you dismiss them as media criticism, without seeing any affirmative argument about causation?

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  I still don’t see where Greenwald is blaming the victim. That’s certainly not explicit in his article, indeed, the contrary. But I take it that the disavowals carry no weight with you.

                  Do you think there is any way to make this point (specifically, the interpretation I’ve been making i.e., the contrast between the experience and representation there of of certain at war nations) without it being covert victim blaming?

                • I still don’t see where Greenwald is blaming the victim.

                  I really don’t know what to tell you. In the aftermath of a massacre against Norwegians, Greenwald feels compelled to make the point over and over again that Norway isn’t so innocent. Not a minor point, but as the central thesis of the only thing he wrote about the massacre.

                  But I take it that the disavowals carry no weight with you.

                  They carry no more weight than the “I’m not a racist but…” or “I’m not blaming the victim, but…” statements one finds so frequently in equivalent stories from a right wing perspective. His need to make the apology over and over, combined with the argument itself, is basically an admission that he knows the problem with his argument.

                  Do you think there is any way to make this point (specifically, the interpretation I’ve been making i.e., the contrast between the experience and representation there of of certain at war nations) without it being covert victim blaming?

                  Don’t make it the first thing you write after the tragedy?

                  Seriously, if this was an Israeli nutcase who’d done this in the West Bank to Palestinians, and Glenn Smith had written a piece about how the coverage hadn’t done enough to point out the outrages of Palestinians, would we be having this conversation, or would my point be too obvious to even bear writing, much less disputing?

                • John says:

                  One of Greenwald’s commenters:

                  You use Norway’s actions in sending forces to Libya and Afghanistan as the basis for smugly saying, in effect, they should not be surprised, and by extension, they deserved it.

                  Greenwald, in response:

                  Only a complete idiot — a term I used advisedly — fails to understand the difference between causation and justification…If you cross the street without looking, there’s a high likelihood you’ll get hit by a car. To point that out doesn’t mean that you deserve it or that I’ll be glad if it happens.

                  The difference between this and blaming the victim, so far as I can tell, is that Greenwald insists he is not blaming the victim.

                  “Obviously, nothing can excuse rape, but what I am upset about is that everyone says that the rape victim was an innocent girl. But she was far from innocent – in fact, she was noted as a total slut who slept her way around town. But I’m not excusing rape here or blaming the victim, I’m just noting how the media is ignoring the fact that the rape victim was a total slut by creating the false narrative that she was an innocent young girl.”

                  How is that different from what Greenwald is doing?

                • The difference between this and blaming the victim, so far as I can tell, is that Greenwald insists he is not blaming the victim.

                  Which is especially plausible given the morally-neutral tone that has always characterized Greenwald’s discussion about western nations using force.

                  Come one, guys, how could you possibly conclude that Greenwald was condemning Norway’s military actions in Afghanistan and Libya? What idiots!

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  I really don’t know what to tell you. In the aftermath of a massacre against Norwegians, Greenwald feels compelled to make the point over and over again that Norway isn’t so innocent.

                  Well, here’s Greenwald:

                  The point is that it’s completely unsurprising that a nation at war — whether Norway or the U.S. — is going to be targeted with violent attacks. That’s what “being at war” means, and it’s usually what it provokes. And the way this fact is suppressed (“a coordinated assault on the ordinarily peaceful Scandinavian nation” = the post-9/11 why do they hate us?) highlights how we view violence as something only those Others commit, but not we.

                  This just doesn’t blame the victim. Not implicitly or explicitly, afaict.

                  They carry no more weight than the “I’m not a racist but…” or “I’m not blaming the victim, but…” statements one finds so frequently in equivalent stories from a right wing perspective. His need to make the apology over and over, combined with the argument itself, is basically an admission that he knows the problem with his argument.

                  Well, or he knows what will be said.

                  As I wrote above, I personally do tend to reflect on patterns of violence and the asymmetry in how we regard them. Is this wrong? It doesn’t seem to be. Think about the media criticism of “missing white girl” or “shark attacks”. The phenomena are, clearly, bad. The media attention is wrong headed. I think I’d feel compelled to try to shortcircut “What about the tragedy” complaints.

                  Would you have been any happier if he eschewed all disavowals?

                  Don’t make it the first thing you write after the tragedy?

                  If it were published next week, then it’d be ok?

                  Seriously, if this was an Israeli nutcase who’d done this in the West Bank to Palestinians, and Glenn Smith had written a piece about how the coverage hadn’t done enough to point out the outrages of Palestinians, would we be having this conversation, or would my point be too obvious to even bear writing, much less disputing?

                  It’s not uncommon after, say, a Palestinian bombing pointing out that the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces vastly outnumbers the number of Israelis killed by Palestinians (in some time frame). But this is generally mobilized against arguments that the Palestine action justifies arbitrary mal treatment.

                  Your analogy fails, in any case. He’s not arguing that the coverage should emphasize the outrages of the Norwegians, but not erase the fact that they are at war.

                  As I wrote, I’d prefer if the emphasis was on empathy. But I think you need to make the case. Just saying, “Racists use disavowals of racism to shield their racism” isn’t sufficient. Racists also appeal to colorblindness as a value.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  My disavowel: I’m less interested in defending Greenwald per se than defending the idea that considering and discussing disparate treatment of violence is necessarily inappropriate in the wake of some specific violent act. Obviously, it can be either because, like Rubin, it’s factually wrong (and all the crasser for being wrong), or that it’s crass (even if not wrong), or that it’s mean (e.g., when speaking to a victim’s relatives).

                  I’m still not convinced that Rubin and Greenwald are that close.

                  “Obviously, nothing can excuse rape, but what I am upset about is that everyone says that the rape victim was an innocent girl. But she was far from innocent – in fact, she was noted as a total slut who slept her way around town. But I’m not excusing rape here or blaming the victim, I’m just noting how the media is ignoring the fact that the rape victim was a total slut by creating the false narrative that she was an innocent young girl.”

                  How is that different from what Greenwald is doing?

                  The main differences would be the lack of moralizing about the victim or insinuation about her deserving it as well as the second point of highlighting analogous but hidden victims.

                  I do wish he had spent less time on the “Norway’s at war” and more on “Similar events don’t get nearly the coverage or the reaction”. Indeed, the construction of these places, as much as the incidence, normalizes their violence (war torn!).

                • Again, I just don’t know what to tell you. You aren’t making any sense. You quote this statement in the aftermath of a massacre:

                  it’s completely unsurprising that a nation at war — whether Norway or the U.S. — is going to be targeted with violent attacks.

                  and comment:

                  This just doesn’t blame the victim. Not implicitly or explicitly, afaict.

                  OK. Whatever you say. The thing speaks for itself here.

                  Would you have been any happier if he eschewed all disavowals?

                  I’d at least be able to respect him for being forthright, but really, my complaint is not with his wording.

                  If it were published next week, then it’d be ok?

                  I’m tired of doing all the work here, so how about you pick up some slack. How long do you think would ben appropriate timeframe to start talking about what a rape victim was wearing, and complaining that the media always portrays such victims as innocent?

                  It’s not uncommon after, say, a Palestinian bombing pointing out that the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces vastly outnumbers the number of Israelis killed by Palestinians (in some time frame).

                  And I find that to be a disgraceful response, regardless of the position it’s being mobilized to defend.

                  He’s not arguing that the coverage should emphasize the outrages of the Norwegians, but not erase the fact that they are at war.

                  As a matter of fact, he does argue that the coverage should make references to Norway’s military action, and draw the connection.

                  Just saying….

                  Good thing I didn’t JUST say that, then. In fact, I didn’t bring up the disavowals at all as part of my argument; you did, as a rebuttal to it, and I disputed your claim.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  It’s getting too nested so I’ll give up soon, fwiw.

                  You prune the quote about a nation at war and prune the context, i.e., that saying that Norway is peaceable to heighten the surprise and shock requires a construction of being a nation at war that is at least somewhat historically unusual. Coupled with natural distancing, it means that we get problematic asymmetrical reactions to similar events.

                  Let’s put aside whether Greenwald per se is ok to make this point or to do so in this instance. Is this a wrong point? Is it a point not worth making? Is it victim blaming?

                  I’m tired of doing all the work here, so how about you pick up some slack.

                  That’s hardly a fair characterization of my participation.

                  How long do you think would ben appropriate timeframe to start talking about what a rape victim was wearing, and complaining that the media always portrays such victims as innocent?

                  And that’s hardly a reasonable analogy, and certainly not one I accept (and I’ve explained why).

                  At this point, I don’t find you arguing with me remotely charitably. E.g.,

                  Good thing I didn’t JUST say that, then. In fact, I didn’t bring up the disavowals at all as part of my argument; you did, as a rebuttal to it, and I disputed your claim.

                  This is just false. You wrote at 10:33 am:

                  How many variations of “this doesn’t excuse terrorism, BUT…” can you count? Glenn really like the word “Still…” at the beginning of sentences.

                  which mobilizes disavowals and before any of my comments.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  BTW, I do find the repeated appeal to sexual assault victims to be getting a bit creepy. It feels somewhat exploitative. I can certainly see a parallel between that and Greenwald’s article. In both cases, however, it seems that the first order points are someone independent of the other possible effects. (That is, I don’t think anyone mobilizing the assault victim are intending to creep out other than by the starkness of the analogy.)

                  Of course, the rather clumsy use of it doesn’t help: The fact that the sexual assault victims are standardly and routinely victim blamed (and in court as well as in the press, and for not doing anything remotely related to sane legal standards of provocation, incitement, etc.) does not show e.g., that no one can provoke or incite. Pointing out that the actions of the Norwegian government can expose their citizenry to attack is not the same as blaming the victims of those attacks for the attack.

                  Again, I tend to be way more cautious about discussing other aspects of a tragedy close to the time of the tragedy. But I’m not sure that that’s a good thing, esp. when I’m not remotely connected to it. It’s important to avoid being crass or cruel or exploitative, but I don’t think that means that we must forgo all discussion or speculation on why an event happened.

                  Or maybe it’s all poisoned now.

    • DK says:

      Greenwald responded to a specific oft repeated claim that was in fact false – and the original post, on its face (i.e. what it said not what you imagine it really meant) “had nothing to do with the specifics of the attack.” It was a larger claim about how the media misrepresents the world is ways that actually help encourage blow back. It was about the media coverage of this event, not the actual event. You can tell that because he said so – “It is, however, worth commenting on both the prevailing descriptions of Norway as well as the reaction to these attacks, as they reveal some important points.”

      In the original post, Glenn said “The perpetrators of these attacks are unknown, as is their motives” which could not be clearer, while noting that “one self-described ‘jihadi’ group claimed responsibility.” Obviously, noting that without suggesting anything about its truth or falsity is not the same thing as claiming it is true or probable.

      A hint (for everyone who seems challenged by this) – when you find yourself saying “he seems to basically be implying” about anyone, check yourself and ask – what did s/he actually say? When you find yourself suggesting what is actually said are “weasel words” to get around the things one “seems to basically be implying” (i.e. things not said) you are probably completely off base.

      What some call weasel words, I call helpful clues to reading comprehension everyone should avail themselves of.

      • In the original post, Glenn said “The perpetrators of these attacks are unknown, as is their motives” which could not be clearer, while noting that “one self-described ‘jihadi’ group claimed responsibility.” Obviously, noting that without suggesting anything about its truth or falsity is not the same thing as claiming it is true or probable.

        …and as for the bulk of his article being committed to laying out a list of particulars demonstrating the Norway was involved in military action in Muslim countries, just ignore that. It is nothing but a coincidence, and isn’t meant to suggest anything.

        It was a larger claim about how the media misrepresents the world is ways that actually help encourage blow back.

        Sooooo…which is it? Was Greenwald not suggesting anything at all about the perpetrator of the attacks, or was he making a point about “blowback?”

        And you can drop the little act about reading comprehension; going back to about fourth grade, you should have been taught that reading comprehension is about ascertaining meaning and understanding the author’s purpose, not just accurately calling words.

        • DK says:

          Try again.

          1) The piece pointed out the disconnect between media claims and reality. Indeed, that was the central thesis. Of course he discussed Norway’s military role – how else would you show the disconnect?

          2) If the media misrepresents things, it makes it harder for the public to see how blowback operates. That is, in fact, a central element of the idea. This is an example of the misrepresentation – that is true regardless of whether blowback operates in this one instance.

          It’s not that hard.

          • You’re trying way too hard, with the little act. You’d do better just to drop it, and do your best to argue your point.

            Der der, this isn’t hard, der derp reading comprehension – it just makes you look like you’re trying to hard. It is possible, you know, for people to disagree with you about the merit of a Glenn Greenwald column, or anything else for that matter, without the root cause being your awe-inspiring cognitive superiority.

            For instance, I never wrote a single word disputing anything you wrong in either your point 1 or your point 2. Yup, Greenwald did that, and yup, that’s why he did that.

            You’re basically agreeing with John at the top of the thread, you know: Greenwald is exploiting the mass murder to make a completely-unrelated point (although his is a different point than Rubin’s, so you’re ok with that), and to do so, he had to assume a Muslim perpetrator. (I see you’re no longer arguing the point that he wasn’t doing this. Progress!)

            And, just like so many right-wing, Islomaphobe blogs, that this attack doesn’t demonstrate his point in any way just doesn’t matter, because making that point is so much more important than what actually happened.

            • Jerry says:

              Greenwald’s point was that the media refuses to believe that Muslim terrorists act based on political motives. The media, in consistently denying that there could be any political reasons for the attacks–Norway is a peaceful country with no ties to wars in the Middle East–fed this narrative. In his column, Greenwald did a great job of showing how the media effectively disunited Muslim politics from terrorism. It did not matter whether Greenwald thought the attack was carried out by Muslims. The assumption being made by the media was that Muslims carried out the attacks. Greenwald then ably demonstrated how this assumption–Muslims carried out the attacks–was neatly tied to another frequent (and not innocent) misreading: Muslims have no political motives.

              Greenwald’s argument did not rely on the assumption that Muslims carried out the attacks. It relied on direct evidence of how the media understands terrorism. Greenwald did not need to belabor the point of who he thought were the perpetrators. The media thought it was Muslims, and the media tied this assumption to more faulty assumptions. Greenwald was performing a bit of media criticism, which is basically what he always does. I thought this piece was particularly effective. And I didn’t see anything wrong with the timing. He was demonstrating, to the moment, how the media’s gigantic blindspots with regard to terrorism influence their coverage.

              • So let me get this straight: Greenwald was engaging in a bit of media criticism about the connection between Muslims and terrorism, but rather than pushing back against the assumption that the terrorist was Muslim, he just accepted that notion. Didn’t write a word about it.

                Nope, the topic he chose, in response to this episode and the coverage of it, was to make an argument about Norway, the victim, behaving in a manner that makes such an act of terrorism comprehensible.

                Greenwald’s argument did not rely on the assumption that Muslims carried out the attacks.

                As a matter of fact it did, and prior to writing this sentence, you wrote a paragraph explaining why his argument relies on that assumption.

                Greenwald was performing a bit of media criticism….

                Greenwald was very plainly going beyond that, and articulating a theory of terrorism. You acknowledge this yourself, in your first paragraph, when you talk about the political motives of Muslim terrorism, and how Greenwald objected to the media’s unwillingness to discuss them. Pointing out that this articulation of a theory of terrorism was dressed up in the guise of media criticism is irrelevant; how many columns have been written in the past decade about how the media refuses to acknowledge whatever it is that some Islamaphobe has decided is the most important thing to keep in mind about Muslims and terrorism? Have you ever, even once, written a defense of that practice?

                He was demonstrating, to the moment, how the media’s gigantic blindspots with regard to terrorism influence their coverage.

                Well, he certainly demonstrated how people 1) leap to conclusions about the perpetrators of terrorism being Muslims, and 2) then project their own assumptions about Muslim terrorism onto events and the coverage of those events.

                Just not in the way he intended.

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                Greenwald’s point was that the media refuses to believe that Muslim terrorists act based on political motives.

                I don’t see that anywhere in Greenwald’s article. (And it is an interesting point when trying to explain just about all terrorist action. There’s rarely, if ever, a generalized “hate their way of life” rather than a specific “hate the current action” motive, at least in international cases.)

                I thought the key point was the normalization of lack of violence in certain “at war” countries and that this is a rather extraordinary thing. It’s also contrary to many other nations’ experience of our wars. Furthermore, it’s not just that such violence is relatively rare for us but not for, e.g., Iraq, but the framing reinforces the idea that only violence against us matters, is worth outrage, etc.

                I do think it is worth reflecting on the difference between experiencing such atrocities relatively occasionally vs. routinely. It’s not unlike various commentators trying to put perspective on the Norway attack by pointing out that the death toll was, when measure by fraction of the population, analogous to the 9/11 death toll.

                Actually, the latter seems rather more wacked. In both cases, the number of people directly affected were (thankfully) very small. If we look at just displaced persons in Iraq (2.8 million, i.e., 1 out of 10) it’s clear that that aspect of the war permeates the society.

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                There’s two articles, I see. “The Oslo attacks” was the first, I believe, raised in this thread. It does not really focus on “Only Muslims can terrorize”. “The omnipotence of Al Qaeda and meaninglessness of “Terrorism”” does have that focus.

                Just trying to keep things straight!

                • Jerry says:

                  Bijan is right that I conflated the second column, which was quite good, with the first, which I find unobjectionable, but is not great. Greenwald hits the same points again and again in his columns, and the Oslo piece is just another example of him doing so. I find nothing wrong with treating tragedies politically because they have political ramifications and are very often created by political choices.

                  As I said before, his argument did not rely on his own assumption; it relied on the media’s assumption. “Media criticism” is not a veil, it’s the genesis of the argument. And really, he does repeatedly suggest Muslims might not be the perpetrators. But yes, his media criticism involves his theory of terrorism–one that applies because he’s entering a discussion that already assumes Muslim terrorism. T Done by Muslims or a Christian, it is worth pointing out that the blindspot in the media’s portrayals is the fact that Muslim terrorism is rooted in politics and it would be incorrect to jointly assume that Muslims carried out the crime and they had absolutely no non-religious motives for doing so. The media’s assumption is the jumping off point for this argument. He’s saying, if Muslims committed this, it’s possible they had specific reasons for doing so. You could call this blaming the victim, but his venom was pointed more at the media’s vapidity than at Norway’s militarism. You think it’s improper to immediately inject politics into a tragedy; I don’t, particularly since his target is the media, not Muslims or Norway. I don’t see any way in which his argument furthers the claim that Muslims committed the acts. It seems very clear to me that he intends his discussion as a hypothetical. He’s not saying “of course Muslims did this.” He’s saying, “How can you say Muslims could not have had a reason for doing this?” He’s using this attack as yet another excuse to demonstrate the media’s willingness to paper over foreign entanglements.

                • Jerry says:

                  And I would join with Bijan in saying the blaming the rape victim analogy falls apart because there is something objectionable about being involved in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as there is not in wearing clothing that shows a lot of skin. His belief that these wars are wrong makes it valid to bring up the problems that can arise from them.
                  Regardless, I really don’t believe the thrust of the argument is, “Hey, you deserved it Norway!” but rather, “How can you, mass media, be so unwilling to believe that an attack carried out by Muslims, which is the assumption you’re making, might have a cause other than ‘they hate us for our freedom?’”

  11. Davis says:

    “A corollary of this argument is the (rather obvious) observation that aircraft carriers, F-35s, and armored personnel carriers are relatively inefficient ways of defending the United States from terrorists.”

    Nicely understated.

  12. TT says:

    To paraphrase Larry Summers: “There are terrible people. Look at neocons.”

  13. Anonymous says:

    Good writing. I’d forward this to all my WaPo reading friends – all zero of them.

  14. However, it’s also worth pointing out that the implications of the conquest and indefinite occupation of Islamic countries for domestic terrorism ought to be taken seriously.

    I’ve got a question about the implicit assumption here. When was the last time a terrorist attack on the United States was carried out by an Iraqi, an Afghan, or an Iranian?

    Why are they much more likely to be carried out by Saudis, Egyptians, and the citizens of other countries that are our allies?

    • Richard says:

      The Fort Hood killer was of Palestinian descent and the Times Square bomber was Pakistani. Not sure where that fits in with any theory of terrorist origins.

      • They fit in as two more discreet pieces of data. Sort of like how 15 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi, and the leader of al Qaeda was Saudi. Of how one of the hijackers and Ayman Al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef were Egyptian. Or how Khalid Sheik Mohommed was from Kuwait.

        Or how the underpants bomber was from Nigeria. Or the shoe bomber was Jamaican/British. Or how the people involved in the first WTC bombing were mainly Egyptian and Saudi.

        Or how most of the first WTC bombing convicts were Egyptian (although – I found one! – one of them was born in Iraq.)

        What this all has to do with a theory of terrorists’ origins it to demonstrate that there is no correlation – perhaps even a negative correlation – between countries we have invaded or otherwise gone to war against, and the countries of origin of terrorists who have launched attacks against the US.

        Which suggests that terrorism – considered distinct from military resistance – is not a consequence of military conflict, but of political support for corrupt or oppressive governments.

        A point which is also made by the far higher incidence of domestic terrorism than international jihadi terrorism.

      • CarlB says:

        The Fort Hood killer was of Palestinian descent and the Times Square bomber was Pakistani.

        Wait a minute. I thought we weren’t going to acknowledge Isamic Terrorism…

    • Laobaixing says:

      I think there’s a tendency for some strains of anti-colonialist nationalism to expand beyond a specific national experience of colonization to a more general sense of a global colonized vs colonizer dynamic. That is, why do people who are not Palestinians care about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? Do they identify as Muslims with a fellow group of (mostly?) Muslims who are being oppressed? Does it resonate with their own national history of being colonized? Do they cynically use the rhetoric of anti colonialism for separate political ends?

  15. Davis X. Machina says:

    She was given a perch by the Washington Post, and she’s decided to use it to shill for the defense industry.

    In further news, sun rises in east.

    Washington remains the only city I’ve ever been to that has ads for weapons systems in its subways.

    • ajay says:

      Washington remains the only city I’ve ever been to that has ads for weapons systems in its subways.

      London too. There’s a big BAE Systems billboard in Westminster tube station.

  16. ice9 says:

    Hinderaker continues. He says

    “Any time mass murder attacks take place, it is not just likely but highly probable that they are the work of Muslim jihadists.”

    I provided some of the qualifications necessary to make the above statement true:

    Qualification 1: Military action is not “mass murder”
    subqualification 1: by “military” we mean organized, western, governed by civilians
    (several more subqualifications are necessary to exclude NATO folks and rogue elements thereof and to include rogue/rogues such as Afghan soldiers trained and equipped by US forces who turn, etc., etc., ad nauseum.)

    Secondary subqualification, special pleading division: the muslim who shot up the US base is clearly not included in any of the various categories excluded above.

    Qualification 2: “Mass murder” requires (choose a number) of victims to qualify as “mass”
    3 is standard (“Poplawski exception”).

    SQ1 Victims related by blood or marriage count as 1. Women murdering children: count 1 victim per 3 children.

    SQ2 Victims associated by workplace count as 1 per four dead, unless the workplace is a federal, state, or local government organization in which place the ratio of victims to corpses for purposes of “mass murder” definition is 9-1.

    SQ2 sub 1 Murders occurring at any of the defense contractors listed in Appendix B are exempt and cannot be claimed as mass murder at any time unless the perpetrator is a Muslim Jihadi Terrorist or can plausibly be represented as one.

    SQ3 Aircraft can only be considered murder weapons and intentional aircraft-bulding collisions can only be considered murders if building impact occurs above the 12th floor.

    SQ4 Mass murders by insane persons are not included in the calculation of the ratio of murders by Muslim Jihadis to murders by white people.
    subq4a “Insane” is to be determined by the weight of qualified opinion (Scoff Quotient). “qualified” is a subtle and elusive evaluation made by shouting and (LA LA LA I CAN”T HEAR YOU).
    subq4b Healthcare is far too expensive for muslims, so none of them are insane. Plus they are all part of a sprawling, insidious conspiracy that may or may not emanate from the White House, and the hiring standards for such conspiracies are very strict so insane persons clearly would not undertake Muslim Jihadi Mass Murder.

    Qualification 3: “Muslim jihadists” refers to any muslim anywhere. Jihad (interp. A) being a devotional requirement of all Muslims, any murder by a muslim qualifies so long as it is part of a murder sequence otherwise characterized as “mass”*, due to the easy conflation of the term Jihad (interp. B).

    Implied sub-antiqualification: the proper adjective in “Muslim jihadists” which seems so redundant upon first reading is actually important. There are no Christian jihadists. None. Nope. Nothing to see here.

    Qualification 4: “not just likely but highly probable”–The meaning of this adverb-rich phrase-clause is coded “need to know” Patriots-only. Sorry.

    Qualification 5: “the work of” Means just what it says. No qualification necessary. What, you don’t think I know how to write? A little diction, a little style, and it means what everybody knows: for Muslim Jihadis, mass cold-blooded slaughter of dozens of children that requires patience, reloading, physical stamina, and excellent marksmanship is just normal routine, casual daily employment, shrug, Hannibal-Lecter-like-no-change-in-heart-rate, mindless diversion.

    Qualification 6: “any time” September 11, 2001

    *Note: according to “value of life” evaluations generally accepted by those who generally accept them, muslims are worth 1/5 of a white person. When a muslim jihadist (see above) kills another muslim he is out of concord with Allah, therefore rendering him apostate. Except that all muslims are bloodthirsty jihadis, so they must be thinking of their victim as white. So non-muslims and muslims all count as 5 people each to the jihadi, rendering a return of 5 murders per corpse. This applies also to traffic accidents (sura 18), falls from a high place (sura 22), hiding a bomb in turban which detonates prematurely (sura 73.3) and failing to heed the directions of lawfully constituted crusaders leading to inadvertent contact with live ordnance (que sura sura).

    So there. You can see–a completely true statement. Anybody who says that statement is false is victimizing Scott much like liberals victimized Africans by smuggling them into the colonial United States and casting them upon the charity of southern plantation owners in order to demonize and embarrass Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.

    Ice

  17. Beth in VA says:

    Man this Robert Farley character is smart. Washington Post, please hire him instead of that awful Rubin lady!

  18. TBogg says:

    This is what happens when Rubin tangentially strays off her normal beat: Israel Can Do No Wrong

  19. SenorSwiffer says:

    If Rubin does ever leave the Post, she’d make a great contortionist, considering how she was able to bend and twist herself into knots in order to make completely different facts come to the exact same conclusion.

    Now that we know the attack was done by a white guy, it’s no longer the result of any particular ideology or movement that might have to be rooted out, examined, and opposed; now, it’s just a helpful reminder that there are “very bad people” in the world (mostly Muslims). In conclusion, more aircraft carriers!

    Do you think, just maybe, tirelessly promoting the idea that we’re in an epic struggle with an ideological enemy determined kill our children and destroy our civilization–just might be part of the problem?!

  20. Wannabe Speechwriter says:

    That light rail project can wait, or states can do it, or we can decide it’s a boondoggle not worth doing even if we had the money.

    She even manages to work in a slam against mass transit-the perfect conservative!

    I will never understand the conservative war on infrastructure and public transportation in particular. Yes, I realize that it’s probably based on their dislike on anything communal and public. However, just the sheer level of intensity of their hatred at taking a bus or train just astonishes me. In their world, being stuck on a highway in 120 degree heat to pay for useless weapons technology is freedom at it’s finest!

    • And now, every effort to add sidewalks to a commercial district or preserve open space part of THE UN’S SCARY AGENDA 21 PLOT!

    • And then there’s the way they assume that, because auto-dependent suburban sprawl is the lifestyle that is most favorable to their ideological lookout, that the government policies that promote and sustain it just gotta be perfectly in line with their anti-collective, rugged individualist view of government.

      For instance, the myth that the roadway system isn’t massively subsidized.

      … no road pays for itself in gas taxes and fees. For example, in Houston, the 15 miles of SH 99 from I-10 to US 290 will cost $1 billion to build and maintain over its lifetime, while only generating $162 million in gas taxes. That gives a tax gap ratio of .16, which means that the real gas tax rate people would need to pay on this segment of road to completely pay for it would be $2.22 per gallon. This is just one example, but there is not one road in Texas that pays for itself based on the tax system of today. Some roads pay for about half their true cost, but most roads we have analyzed pay for considerably less.

  21. Perhaps this experience will dissuade right wingers from prematurely mouthing off about who must be responsible for acts of political violence before the facts are in.

    Or, you know, maybe not.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Posts appear….and then they disappear.

    It’s as if someone doesn’t want you to see others’ opinions.

    Why have comment section at all if all you get is the scrubbed version?

  23. Some Guy says:

    What Mr. Farley is so cheerfully ignorant of is the irrefutable fact that aircraft carriers and stealth air superiority fighters are the ideal tool to use against car bombs and crazy people with automatic rifles wandering the streets. Shame, sir!

  24. RickyBobby says:

    Where does the money come from for all of these new trains?

    • timb says:

      It’s weird that no other industrialized country has this group of “no-niks”… China and Japan build these things like we put up Starbucks and they are all over Europe.

      American exceptionalism = the belief that the United States cannot and will not be able to afford high speed rail.

  25. [...] discussion of the right-wing reactions to the Norwegian terrorist attack. Lawyers, Guns and Money dissects a WaPo column explaining how the obviously Islamic killing proves we need to revive missile defense [...]

  26. [...] updates to posts from last week. First, Colbert is absolutely brutal to Jennifer [...]

  27. [...] hey, at least this time Jennifer Rubin didn’t try to decorate a paean to the defense budget with the corpses of Norwegian children.  That’s progress, of a [...]

  28. There’s clearly no need to boost federal funding for the transportation needs of your goal posts.

  29. Why would I do that? So you can change the subject again, like how you suddenly don’t want to talk about highway funding?

    You try to make me go to troll-hab I say, no, no, no.

  30. Name one light rail project in the south or west that didn’t 1)go WAY over its projected costs of construction and operation and 2) exceeded ridership projections. I’m waiting. Just one.

    Actually, you said to name one that didn’t do both. I just gave you several.

  31. cleter says:

    Were any liberal estimates of light-rail costs as grossly inaccurate as conservative estimates of the cost of the Iraq War?

  32. witless chum says:

    Tails highways win and heads trains lose!

  33. Wannabe Speechwriter says:

    Name one highway project in the south or west that didn’t 1) go WAY over its projected costs of construction and operation and 2) exceeded ridership projections. I’m waiting. Just one.

    Also, would people be so determined to drive big cars of they had to pay the full cost of gas-

    http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/06/us-gas-artificially-cheap

    http://www.grist.org/list/2011-07-14-the-true-cost-of-gasoline-13-a-gallon

  34. scythia says:

    Why are you guys arguing w/ Mixner? Didn’t we establish this as a waste of time back in ’08?

  35. Good point, but you must admit: the ridership for that war has blown away the projections.

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