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The function of a gadfly

[ 367 ] January 11, 2012 |

Glenn Greenwald wrote a post this morning which was in part about the failure of the progressive blogosphere to condemn the ongoing murder of Iranian scientists, given the very strong possibility that these murders are being carried out by Israel, and the less strong but still significant odds that the U.S. has some involvement in these killings, ranging anywhere from direct participation to tacit approval.

Now on one level this criticism can easily be seen as unfair. As Greenwald himself has noted, not every progressive blogger is obligated to comment on whatever issue any particular progressive blogger considers the most important issue of the moment. Furthermore, Greenwald can be read to be implying that certain prominent bloggers, such as Scott, are failing to comment on this particular story because they’re running interference for the Obama administration, which would no doubt prefer as little attention as possible be given this story, at least on the left side of the political spectrum.

That of course is an unpleasant implication, and I know I would be quite irritated if it were directed at me, especially to the extent I believed the implication was false. (Scott responded promptly and straightforwardly to that potential implication). Still, what Greenwald is doing in cases such as this one seems to be valuable, despite the potential or real unfairness generated by his rhetorical style. Here’s why: Until I read Greenwald’s post this morning, I had been paying almost no attention to the ongoing killing of Iranian scientists. Now I certainly hadn’t avoided writing about the story consciously: I simply hadn’t paid attention to it.

This, when I reflect on it, was a real mistake on my part. After all, five years ago I was involved in a very public and nasty exchange with Glenn Reynolds, when he merely advocated doing something which, for the last couple of years, has actually been happening. In other words, this is a story I should have followed closely, and commented on, given the (justified) outrage I expressed five years earlier. Why didn’t I?

The answer is uncomfortable. I didn’t follow this story because, at bottom, this story puts “my team” in a bad light. Now again, this wasn’t a conscious decision. I’ve leveled plenty of criticisms at the Obama administration, on all sorts of issues. But I have no doubt whatsoever that, if the serial murder of Iranian scientists had been happening in the course of the McCain administration, I would have been all over this story, in part because, given the sources of opinion I read regularly, I would have been much more aware of that story, which, for the same reasons I haven’t been paying attention to it, hasn’t been prominently featured by those sources.

In its most extreme form, this kind of selective bias is manifested by a willingness to openly praise acts that are substantially identical to acts one condemned in the strongest terms when they were carried out by one’s political opponents:

All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. The Liberal News Chronicle published, as an example of shocking barbarity, photographs of Russians hanged by the Germans, and then a year or two later published with warm approval almost exactly similar photographs of Germans hanged by the Russians.

These sorts of extreme examples of intellectual inconsistency are of course especially common in war time (which is no doubt why the celebrants of perpetual war are most prone to engage in them). On a less extreme level, everyone is at the very least prone to pay considerably less attention to shabby or shameful or even seriously criminal behavior when it is perpetrated by one’s friends and allies rather than one’s enemies and opponents. Glenn Greenwald’s hectoring of liberal bloggers to maintain intellectual and moral consistency without regard to who’s political fortunes are being advanced or harmed is valuable precisely because all of us are inclined not to do so.

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  1. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    That of course is an unpleasant implication, and I know I would be quite irritated if it were directed at me, especially to the extent I believed the implication was false. (Scott responded promptly and straightforwardly to that potential implication). Still, what Greenwald is doing in cases such as this one seems to be valuable, despite the potential or real unfairness generated by his rhetorical style.

    Thanks for this Paul, though I imagine that those who’ve decided that GG is History’s Greatest Monster will scream at you for saying so.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      Big “meh”.

      He doesn’t have to be History’s Greatest Monster to be increasingly annoying and rather a screw up. He certainly doesn’t have to be HGM for some aspects of his “gadflyism” to be crap.

      First, he could easily have focused on the actual topic rather than this bizarre speculative meta-aspect of the topic. He could make the ongoing killings, which are horrible and deserve attention, part of the conversation by making them part of the conversation. People regularly respond to his stuff positively.

      Second, that this is an instance of unconscious bias seems dubious to me. Someone you are in some sense acquainted with advocating murder tends to cause an immediate response. A news report which has no clear evidence on who is doing some murder presents less clear opportunity for response.

      Kevin Drum wrote about it this morning in the same terms he used for the Reynolds dust up. What did Greenwald’s post do but cast a shadow on that? (Ooo, Drum is just innoculating himself from Greenwald’s charge.) I don’t believe that at all, but this is where we end up.

      Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, this is just blog fodder and is unlikely to be meaningful. I think it’s worth critiquing those who cheer such killings on, just because such things shouldn’t go unopposed. But what Greenwald’s doing (in this respect) is at best worthless.

      • Chatham says:

        That’s silly. People who thought it was worth denouncing when it was being talked about were silent when it was actually happening. That speaks volumes.

        They didn’t know who did it? Anyone who’s even remotely paying attention knows we’ve been conducting covert ops against Iran, in addition to our bellicose diplomacy. If people thought it was an important issue, they would want to start, at least, asking questions.

        Maybe the reason isn’t that Lemieux doesn’t want to rock the boat when Obama is running things, but that it’s more worthwhile to talk about this when it’s a blogger theorizing it than when it’s actual news. Is that any better?

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Or maybe the reason is that I hadn’t heard about it? Who can know.

          • Chatham says:

            So maybe you pay more attention to right-wingers suggesting such a thing than to when it actually happens. And keep in mind, this has been going on for months. If you pay attention to blog chatter suggesting an action, and then miss when that action actually happens, not once but over and over again over months, you might want to check out what your priorities are.

            • Does the fact that Reynolds and Lemieux were writing about the United States carrying out assassinations, while these assassinations were almost certainly carried out by the Israelis, enter into your thinking about why there might be a difference?

              You know, plenty of liberal bloggers wrote about torture during the Bush years, but I don’t recall seeing any denounce the Pakistani government for torture lately. Why do you think that might be?

        • They didn’t know who did it? Anyone who’s even remotely paying attention knows we’ve been conducting covert ops against Iran, in addition to our bellicose diplomacy.

          “Covert ops” is a broad category. The post-Porter Goss CIA probably doesn’t even have the capability to get this done in Iran these days. This is one reason why they’ve become so dependent on drone strikes and special forces raids.

          While Mossad pulls off hits like this in the territories pretty frequently, either using its own people, or turning a local. Israel also has a well-documented history of killing scientists and technicians who are helping hostile ME countries build weapons that Israel fears – remember the guy who was helping Saddam’s government build a super-gun?

          There have been any number of actions by the CIA against al Qaeda figures, and they haven’t looked like this. It’s much more likely that this was Mossad.

          • Chatham says:

            Did you read the sentence that came after that quote?
            “If people thought it was an important issue, they would want to start, at least, asking questions.”

            It could have been 100% Israel with the US knowing nothing. It could have been 100% the US with Israel knowing nothing. Or it could have been something in between (my guess).

            • Or it could have been magic Martians high on X.

              “Could have been” is a pretty weak standard on which to insult people as unprincipled hacks.

              • Chatham says:

                Who insulted someone as an unprincipled hack? Quotes, please.

                • Glenn Greenwald, and the links to his piece accusing people of being unprincipled hacks are provided in the post.

                  These dishonest little intellectual dodges just highlight the weakness of your position. Now you’re pretending that Greenwald doesn’t attack people as unprincipled, or accuse them of being hacks?

                  Why? What do you think it’s going to accomplish to write a comment like that?

          • Anonymous37 says:

            remember the guy who was helping Saddam’s government build a super-gun?

            Gerald Bull. The late, great Trotsky Icepick wrote a pretty good song about it.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          That’s silly. People who thought it was worth denouncing when it was being talked about were silent when it was actually happening. That speaks volumes.

          The “it” worth denouncing is “The US should assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists”. The talking about it was complete, that is, there was an event wherein exactly the “it” was discussed. Right now we have a series of events spread out over years which fit part of the pattern (“assassination of Iranian scientists”) but its not yet known whether the rest fits (i.e., “the US is doing it”).

          Greenwald is responding to a particular report today. There have been other reports of similar acts in the past. Could you point me to Greenwald’s prior posts about them. A quick search revealed nothing.

          Scott responded to your “maybe the reason” line, but I’ll just add that if you look at any representative random sample of Scott’s posts it is impossible to the conclusion that he wouldn’t “rock the boat” (again, where’s the power here?) by criticizing Obama. Try looking at the evidence instead of your own fevered imagination?

          • Chatham says:

            If Greenwald hasn’t commented on this issue at all (and I don’t know if that’s true, but it may be), than yes, it is a problem.

            “Right now we have a series of events spread out over years which fit part of the pattern (“assassination of Iranian scientists”) but its not yet known whether the rest fits (i.e., “the US is doing it”).”

            Again…

            “If people thought it was an important issue, they would want to start, at least, asking questions.”

            Do you disagree with this? Is this an important issue if the US admits to it, but one that doesn’t need to be brought up when the details are murky? Many would say that the time to bring up such issues are precisely when the details are unclear. These aren’t actions where the details are always released, you know.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              I’m fine, indeed, very happy to have it discussed! More than happy! (Well, not happy because it’s horrible.)

              But the normal way to do that is to discuss it, not to complain about other people not discussing it unless there is a specific reason for them to have been discussing it.

              For example, I found Goldberg’s post very good. (I find Goldberg a mixed bag and, IIRC, he was very bad on Iraq, but this content is good.)

              My objection is to the puerile inferences drawn from a relatively innocuous situation (not the killings! the punditing). Compare the content of Goldberg’s post to that of Greenwald’s.

              (Although, I appreciate hearing what Santorum had to spew. Again, not news, right? But we can unite in our loathing there.)

              • Chatham says:

                The point is (for me at least), if you are going to talk about it when a blogger blogs about it, but not when it happens, shouldn’t that set off some pretty huge alarms? Perhaps it’s not because Obama is president, but just that the blogging world pays more attention to its own internal fights* than it does to what’s going on in the world. Either way, I think Glenn’s observation is important, and should make a lot of people go “huh”.

                *Granted, this is one of them, but I think one that brings up an important point about priorities.

          • Glenn Greenwald says:

            Greenwald is responding to a particular report today. There have been other reports of similar acts in the past. Could you point me to Greenwald’s prior posts about them. A quick search revealed nothing

            I’ve written about this many, many times before.

  2. Marc says:

    A gadfly whose tactics backfire is worse than no gadfly. At this point I assume that anything written by Greenwald is written in bad faith. He leaves out evidence that’s inconvenient; he strings together innuendo. He’s deep into conspiracy theories; he tries to mind-read others and always assumes the worst motives for anyone who disagrees.

    If he was less of a belligerent and dishonest asshole I might actually take his writing seriously. But at this point you’re asking me to pay attention to the guy talking about how Bill Clinton murdered 119 people because he occasionally mentions a sexual harassment issue that might be true.

    • Marc says:

      That should have been “paying attention to Greenwald is like paying attention to the guy…”

    • piny says:

      Pretty much–has Greenwald considered that his tendency to be a hectoring, intellectually dishonest douchebag is making it more difficult for these issues to get attention because people will stop reading him?

    • A gadfly whose tactics backfire is worse than no gadfly.

      To demonstrate this point, go through the comment threads about Greenwald’s Ron Paul post, and compare the number of comments that discuss the Obama administration’s foreign policy with the number of comments about Glenn Greenwald.

      And yet, no matter how many times this happens, Glenn Greenwald keeps writing every post in a manner guaranteed to ensure that the discussion will not focus on his (purported) subject.

      • kabosh says:

        I quote Paul Krugman: “I realized that I also wanted to say something in response to the concern trolling, the ‘if you were more moderate you’d have more influence’ stuff. Again, this amounts to wishing that we lived in a different world. First, there is no such thing in modern America as a pundit respected by both sides. Second, there are people writing about economic issues who are a lot less confrontational than I am; how often do you hear about them? This is not a game, and it is also not a dinner party; you have to be clear and forceful to get heard at all.”

        • The complaint is not that Greenwald is insufficiently “moderate” in his argumentation, but that he veers from his purported subject into personal attacks about hypocrisy and partisanship.

          Paul Krugman, you might notice, doesn’t have a habit of leading off his posts with long howls about the moral depravity of those jackals who will, no doubt, disagree with him. Nor does he attribute the positions of those who disagree with his thesis about economics to moral failings, and blow off their arguments as mere pretexts. He actually argues economics.

          • kabosh says:

            I think, and I think GG would agree, that if people who loudly opposed certain actions during a Republican administration, are then silent on, actions when a Democratic administration does them (or vice versa, Democratic –> Republican), they deserve to be called out as partisan hypocrites (and as amoral or immoral, for that matter). You can call that a personal attack (the same way people criticize Krugman for calling out Lucas and Cochrane), but I can’t see that it’s an unjustified one. And democratic or liberal support for civil liberties abuses that were purportedly democratic-liberal anathema during the Bush years is hardly off GG’s topic– it’s exactly on topic.

            • Marc says:

              This cuts both ways. Greenwald and his partisans dismiss criticism as meaningless because it comes from Obama supporters. They then never have to actually address anyone who disagrees with them. This is a severe intellectual weakness.

              • kabosh says:

                I don’t think so– GG does admit error, and does take the time to highlight critiques against himself, from both left and right; more importantly, he also points out, explicitly and often, that it is totally legitimate for Obama supporters, be they enthusiastic or grudging, to make a considered calculation and weigh their beliefs and the issues that are important to them, and he acknowledges that on the basis of this calculus it’s completely valid to continue to support, and to vote for, Obama for any number of reasons. But in GG’s area of expertise, Obama is pretty bad news, it’s no secret. I guess I’m a Greenwald “partisan” in that I often, but not always, agree with his analysis, and I have fallen very far out of the love I was once in with Obama, but I try to assess critiques on their merits, not their source. Which is hard to do, but worth at least trying for.

            • Like Greenwald, you make the unwarranted, inaccurate assumption that Obama actually is engaged in the same things that Bush was engaged in. The possibility that their actions are treated differently because they’re actually different just never occurs to you, does it?

              Well, in point of fact, that is (to be overly-generous to you) a very debatable proposition. I think there is a great deal of difference in their actions, and it is this difference that is the basis of my different treatment. (For instance, George Bush used to put terrorism suspects captured in this country into military detention and torture them, while zero (0) such suspects have been put into military detention or tortured under Obama. I consider this trifling little difference to justify treating the two differently).

              Now, perhaps you disagree with my impression of the two Presidents’ relative merits. Fine, argue that.

              Simply assuming that I don’t, in fact, see an important difference, and writing page after page of personal insults based on that wholly-made-up notion is quite a bit different from what Paul Krugman’s comments about “moderation” were about.

              • kabosh says:

                Well, I don’t make any assumptions about your personal belief on the distinctions between the two presidents– I’ve never read your work, so I don’t have any knowledge on that one. I was just addressing your point, and the point of the post you quoted, about how GG is a bad gadfly, or a failed gadfly, because of the *way* he posts. This argument about effectiveness is similar to the way Krugman gets concern-trolled. As to my own view on differences between Obama and Bush, I think they are many– but in the civil liberties realm, I think there are a few places where Obama is better, a few where he is the same, and some where he is worse, even much worse. This outcome was, to say the least, not exactly what I expected when I voted for him.

              • You said: “For instance, George Bush used to put terrorism suspects captured in this country into military detention and torture them, while zero (0) such suspects have been put into military detention or tortured under Obama.”

                We don’t know that this is the case. Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan is still up-and-running: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2011/04/09/bagram-and-beyond-new-revelations-about-secret-us-torture-prisons-in-afghanistan/

                People are still in Guantanamo.

                Plus, I sadly believe that torture or cruel and unusual punishment are an inevitable, under-reported byproduct of wars such as Afghanistan (really, all war). There already was the ‘Kill Squad.’ This is not Obama’s fault – but as President, the war and its consequences are his responsibility.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              if people who loudly opposed certain actions during a Republican administration, are then silent on, actions when a Democratic administration does them (or vice versa, Democratic –> Republican), they deserve to be called out as partisan hypocrites (and as amoral or immoral, for that matter)

              Let’s grant this.

              The problem isn’t doing that, it’s tarring people who are not hypocritical as hypocritical.

              In the Paul post, Greenwald didn’t name names and failed to note any of the principled reasons that anti-war/drug war/pro civil liberties/etc progressive might think that Paul was a net loss for those causes. He didn’t even engage the weaker, much less the strongest such arguments. Instead, he made up a ridiculous one.

              In the Iran post, he named named and semi-randomly divided into those “he was sure” would do right and those “who knows if they’d do right?” without any evidential base whatsoever. And he did so in a way as to cast doubt on the integrity of the people he named, regardless of how they responded.

              So, the former was a big generalized smear. The latter was a personal attack/smear job. Neither was Greenwald boldly confronting hypocrisy. Both were Greenwald boldly enacting ugly hackery.

              And yes, if Obama is killing Iranians that’s super awful. From every perspective, Obama and Dems should be doing what they can to wind down the drug war (felon enfranchisement alone is tactically wise; of course, they’re fighting a rearguard action on voting rights).

          • cre from nola says:

            Paul Krugman does exactly this, all of the time. He doesn’t hesitate to call intellectually dishonest economic commentators intellectually dishonest. A recent blog post was titled “The Mendacity of Dopes”. He’s not polite to commentators who he feels don’t take thier responsibilities seriously. That’s one of the reasons why he’s such a powerful voice.

            • Furious Jorge says:

              Do you deny that GG has a tendency to attribute the worst possible motives to people who disagree with him? Because Krugman usually goes out of his way to avoid doing that.

          • BKP says:

            Paul Krugman, you might notice, doesn’t have a habit of leading off his posts with long howls about the moral depravity of those jackals who will, no doubt, disagree with him. Nor does he attribute the positions of those who disagree with his thesis about economics to moral failings, and blow off their arguments as mere pretexts. He actually argues economics.

            You have gotta be kidding me!

            Krugman is the king of conflating differences in economic theory with moral failing, depravity, or general ignorance.

            • Furious Jorge says:

              Not really. If you read his blog regularly, he regularly tries to give most people the benefit of the doubt, until they’ve demonstrated they don’t deserve it.

              But Krugman haters see all kinds of shrillness in everything the man writes.

              • Malaclypse says:

                If you read his blog regularly,

                Yes, but libertarian theory proves Krugman’s depravity, so why bother to read him?

              • BKP says:

                Yes.

                I’m aware that Paul Krugman is more than willing to call people “mendacious idiots” when he thinks they are “mendacious idiots”.

                I hope Greenwald reads this so he can be sure to hint to some liberals being mendacious idiots rather than the far worse “hypocrite”.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Okay, you are aware thay Krugman’s archives are fully searchable, and that the word “idiot” was used all of three times last year, right? And “mendacious idiot” was used exactly never?

                • Malaclypse says:

                  My bad – he used that term once. I blame liberal readings of the Commerce Clause for my error.

                • BKP says:

                  Yeah, I pulled the “mendacious idiots” phrase from a recent Krugman article.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Clearly, there could be no good reason to use the term “idiots” three whole times last year.

        • R Johnston says:

          And what does that have to do with anything?

          People aren’t complaining about Greewald’s tone or his vehemence; they’re complaining about his lying, his derailing his own posts with completely spurious accusations, and his holding up the fact that a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, isolationist crackpot prone to buying into ridiculous conspiracy theories and who wants to crash the world economy back to the middle ages as a role model who should be admired for his anti war views even though those views are rooted solely in his xenophobic isolationism.

          • kabosh says:

            Yeah, but GG didn’t say any of that: he said, in sum, that it’s a good think that Paul is in the race because he’s the *only* candidate airing antiwar views, despite his obvious many many other flaws (which GG acknowledges in great detail); and, that it’s a shame that the anti-war views aren’t coming from the left, and why aren’t they? Your (mis)characterization is pretty typical of the response, as GG predicted it would be. Regardless, many people in this comment thread are in fact complaining about his tone, and his civility– not you perhaps, but you can read the thread and see the examples.

            • R Johnston says:

              People who fail to distinguish between good arguments and bad arguments and just throw everything out there to see if it works–i.e. people who highlight Ron Paul’s anti war stance, which is based exclusively in xenophobic isolationism and a desire to cripple the federal government, as contributing to the conversation and as a model to be followed–are, in fact, endorsing those bad arguments and setting the cause back.

              When you put all the bad arguments on equal footing with good arguments and ask people to sort them out what happens is people see you supporting the bad arguments and discount the good arguments because they already know that you’re full of shit. That’s how, for example, you fail to secure a murder conviction against O.J. Simpson.

              By holding up Ron Paul as an anti-war example Greenwald is, like it or not, endorsing Paul’s reasoning for being anti-war and giving people every reason in the world to not bother paying attention to any actually good anti-war arguments that Greenwald makes.

            • Marc says:

              If you’re going to make a purist case that civil rights are absolute, fine. Just don’t use someone who opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (today!) as your example.

      • cre from nola says:

        But this is exactly the point. When Glenn Greenwald writes about Ron Paul, he’s actually writing about liberals and the left. He’s using Ron Paul’s candidacy as a tool to force liberals to apply their principles consistently, and to call out public figures on the left who do not do so.

        I am far more vocal in my criticism of Democrats than I am of Republicans, because I often vote for Democrats and I expect something of them. I put them in office and I am responsible if they act badly.

        I suspect that the reason you don’t think Greenwald is focusing on “the subject” is because the subject is actually you.

        • I suspect that the reason you don’t think Greenwald is focusing on “the subject” is because the subject is actually you.

          And you think this is a defense of the man?

          That he writes about politics and policy only as a means of writing about people?

          Because to people with principles and beliefs that go beyond asserting our own awesomeness, that’s an incredibly damning charge about the man.

          • cre from nola says:

            No, the first two paragraphs were the defense of Greenwald. The sentence that you quoted was about you.

            What he is doing is asking people on the left to be loyal to ideals and principles rather than political figures. I think that what Greenwald is doing is an extremely honest, moral act, but i don’t think that you understand his purpose if you see it as nothing more than rhetorical cockfighting.

            • No, the first two paragraphs were the defense of Greenwald. The sentence that you quoted was about you.

              I understood exactly what you meant, and I replied.

              What he is doing is asking people on the left to be loyal to ideals and principles rather than political figures.

              Actually, what his is doing is accusing people on the left of not being loyal to ideas and principles. He simply assumes that anyone who disagrees with him is not doing so, and instead of dealing with their arguments, engaged in cockfighting.

              if you see it as nothing more than rhetorical cockfighting.

              I’m just taking your word for it. When Glenn Greenwald writes about Ron Paul, he’s actually writing about liberals and the left.

              When Glenn Greenwald writes about anything, he is actually talking about his those bad, bad liberals.

              And you think this is a defense.

          • cre from nola says:

            Let me back up here, and be less confrontational.

            The most important part of what I wrote was this:

            “I am far more vocal in my criticism of Democrats than I am of Republicans, because I often vote for Democrats and I expect something of them. I put them in office and I am responsible if they act badly.”

            GG wrote an article a few weeks ago that highlighted two nytimes pieces that were written by Guantanamo survivors. I found them to be extremely moving, but what really strikes me is that the president who I voted for in the last election intends to perpetuate the system that allows those types of abuses, and that the only candidate that would put an end to them (Ron Paul) has such deep flaws that I am seriously disinclined to vote for him. I’ve voted in three presidential elections, and I can’t recall having any ethical difficulty making my choice in any of the others.

            What GG is doing is highlighting that ethical difficulty, and making absolutely certain that his community (liberals and leftists) confronts it head on. Like I said, I think that is an extremely moral and honest action.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              Isn’t Guantanamo a particularly bad case for Obama criticism given the extreme actions Congress took to prevent erasing that blot? There are plenty of unambiguous cases, so I suggest picking one of them.

              I’ve voted in three presidential elections, and I can’t recall having any ethical difficulty making my choice in any of the others.

              Really? I’ve had it in every election except the first Clinton one, but there I was much more naive. The conduct of the Iraqi sanctions under Clinton seemed pretty horrible and DADT, etc. etc. In 2000, I struggled with voting for Gore. In 2004, I found it really uncomfortable voting for Kerry who, after all, by his own admission, committed war crimes. Not uncomfortable in that I had a reasonable choice. Just uncomfortable.

              I would think that the proper primary intent of vocality of political criticism is to be effective in producing better outcomes, not to insulate oneself from responsibility for worse outcome. Of course, I am vocally critical in comment sections to vent and discuss rather than thinking it’s tactically effective at a larger scale or makes me a morally better person overall.

            • but what really strikes me is that the president who I voted for in the last election intends to perpetuate the system that allows those types of abuses

              You mean the President who engaged in a very public fight to try to close Guantanamo, and who ended the practice of torturing detainees? The President who took a beating for weeks by staking out that very unpopular position, and was only stopped from doing so by Congress? The President who has not put a single terrorism suspect into indefinite military detention, and who just recently reaffirmed that he will not do so? This is the President who you are claiming “intends to perpetuate the system that allows those types of abuses.”

              Once again, you’re it as an assumption that both Presidents are just the same. I don’t need to be told to base my opinions about Obama’s performance on the same principles I used to judge Bush. I have been all along, and it takes Greenwaldian falsification of the facts in order to claim that I have not.

              • kabosh says:

                I’m not sure either GG or cre are as fixated on critiquing you as you seem to assume, although you may think you share some evident characteristics with many of the actual pundits out there who GG is calling out. If you really think there aren’t a whole bunch of ostensible leftists who abandoned any critique of the administration immediately once it became a Democratic administration, then I think you’ve missed something. Many of us on the left see this phenomenon as depressing and dangerous, and worth highlighting as much, as strongly, and as often as possible– party loyalty trumping morality is something that is no good for anyone, except the entrenched power-structure. You may think that you do not fit that description, which is fine, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real, and isn’t widespread, on both sides of the left-right divide. I care more about the left side because it’s my side, but it goes both ways. No one is saying the current and former presidents are the same on every issue– no way. But there are some areas of disturbing similarity, and many many commentators who were happy to attack the one, but not the other, on the same grounds. If you think that shoe doesn’t fit you, why stress on it?

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  I’m not sure either GG or cre are as fixated on critiquing you as you seem to assume, although you may think you share some evident characteristics with many of the actual pundits out there who GG is calling out.

                  “Actually calling out” typically involves, you know, names or definite descriptions.

                  Here, the only call outs were people for whom this criticism is obviously wrong with random exceptions (for law profs?).

                  BTW, if you provide a list of such pundits, I hereby pledge to go to each of their blogs and post a comment about their failure.

              • cre from nola says:

                No I don’t think they’re the same, nor did I give that impression. But I don’t have to equate Bush and Obama in order to be frustrated with Obama.

                Anyway, we must be talking about a different Obama, because the one I’m thinking about is the one who tried to shut down the prison called Guantanamo and move the exact same system of indefinite detention onto American soil. And the one who just signed a bill authorizing the indefinite detention of American citizens (though, bless him, he did say in a legally nonbinding statement that he wouldn’t do it). He’s also the one who has assassinated an American with no trial, who has effectively enshrined the military commission/indefinite detention system into American policy for good, and who has resisted any efforts to bring his predecessors to justice for their own abuses.

                He’s stopped torturing people, which is great(I mean that literally. it is fantastic), but why on earth should I be satisfied with him as a candidate? I would think that it’s my obligation to criticize him loudly, if only so that people don’t interpret my vote for him as approval.

                • Anyway, we must be talking about a different Obama, because the one I’m thinking about is the one who tried to shut down the prison called Guantanamo and move the exact same system of indefinite detention onto American soil.

                  Nope. Not even close. He proposed moving them into the federal prisons. No more military detention.

                  And the one who just signed a bill authorizing the indefinite detention of American citizens (though, bless him, he did say in a legally nonbinding statement that he wouldn’t do it).

                  And, you know, hasn’t put anyone into indefinite detention. If you actually cared out this issue, that would matter to you. Instead, you try to snark it away, because of how principled you are.

                  He’s also the one who has assassinated an American with no trial

                  No matter how hysterical the language you use is, treating people who fight for a wartime enemy like people who fight for a wartime enemy is entirely appropriate. Frankly, it’s the notion that rich Americans who go overseas to fight for al Qaeda should get special dispensations offends my progressive values, not shooting at the people making war on us.

                  who has effectively enshrined the military commission/indefinite detention system into American policy for good

                  Big words, but they’re not true. Even under the overhyped NDAA language, the indefinite detention system ends, like every other wartime system of detaining enemy combatants, when the war ends.

                  why on earth should I be satisfied with him as a candidate?

                  Now you’re just moving the goal posts. The question was not about whether you should be satisfied, but whether those of us who don’t share your (rather inaccurate) perception of his performance are violating our principles by doing so.

                • cre from nola says:

                  I couldn’t reply to you directly(too deep in the thread, I think), so I’m replying to my own comment.

                  He proposed to move them to the federal prison, but most would not get any meaningful trial. This is a really important point. It doesn’t “end Guantanamo” if the detainees are moved to the physical location of an existing federal prison, but still subject to indefinite detention at the behest of the administration.

                • He proposed to move them to the federal prison, but most would not get any meaningful trial

                  This is false. “Most” would most certainly not be held without trial, under Obama’s proposal.

                  I love the way this complaint (He’s continuing Bush’s policy precisely! He didn’t close Guantanamo!) gets smaller and smaller and smaller as the person making it is pressed – and yet, the next time, they start off at exactly the same extreme position they were forced to abandon.

                • cre from nola says:

                  No I didn’t say that he’s continuing Bush’s policy precisely, nor did I give that impression. But I don’t have to equate Bush and Obama in order to be frustrated with Obama. (deja vu here)

                  Nor did the argument get smaller, for that matter. Look we’re chasing out tail here, but you seem to be agreeing with the fact that Obama wasn’t going to end the regime of indefinite detention, even if he had been able to get his plan through congress. You also seem to oppose indefinite detention in principle. And yet you’ve worked yourself into a lather defending the administration from other people who oppose indefinite detention. That’s a level of cognitive dissonance that I wouldn’t be comfortable with.

                • No I didn’t say that he’s continuing Bush’s policy precisely, nor did I give that impression.

                  Ahem.

                  because the one I’m thinking about is the one who tried to shut down the prison called Guantanamo and move the exact same system of indefinite detention onto American soil.

                  Which means that you did, in fact, make your argument smaller by complaining that there would be some remainder of Bush’s prisoners who would still be held.

                  Finally, I’ve found that the words “cognitive dissonance” tend to be used like some sort of magician’s smoke, to hide a bad argument.

                • cre from nola says:

                  No no, poor use of quotes. Bush’s policy involved torture and extraordinary rendition, which Obama’s does not(I don’t think). You made that point yourself. The indefinite detention was most certainly intended to be continued on American soil. Actually you made that point yourself as well.

                  I can’t help but notice that you didn’t actually rebut the magician’s smoke.

                • cre from nola says:

                  the sentence should have read:

                  Actually you made that point yourself as well, after making the opposite point.

                • We can all read the quote, you know. You asserted that Barack Obama intended to “shut down the prison called Guantanamo and move the exact same system of indefinite detention onto American soil.”

                  He most certainly did not intend to move “the exactly same system of indefinite detention” onto American soil. You acknowledge this yourself, pointing out several differences, and then say it’s a “bad use of quotes” to point out that you made the false statement that you won’t even stand by now.

                  Why not just acknowledge you were wrong to claim that Obama wanted to move “the exact same system of indefinite detention onto American soil?”

                  Your vapid insult has not content to refute.

                  And you’re projecting your own contradiction onto me.

                  I’m done with this conversation. You’re just getting angry and trying to save face now.

                • cre from nola says:

                  ok. goodnight. thanks for the chat.

                • Furious Jorge says:

                  No matter how hysterical the language you use is, treating people who fight for a wartime enemy like people who fight for a wartime enemy is entirely appropriate.

                  Yes, but …

                  When we are talking about a “war” that is not confined to anything even remotely resembling a battlefield environment, a “war” that could just as easily be fought two blocks away instead of half a world away, it invites the potential for serious abuse, or at the very least tragic mistakes.

                  It’s not as clear-cut as Obama’s detractors seem to want to make it out to be, but neither is it as clear-cut as you present it here.

        • piny says:

          Yeah, but here’s the thing: progressives don’t dismiss Paul because of a difference in degree. They dismiss him because of a difference in kind. Ron Paul is a hateful batshit person. He’s not just reactionary; he’s not just conservative; he’s not just small-government. His views about the role of government and the proper shape of society do not belong to this century. They barely belong to the last one. He’s not anti-war. He’s nuts. He doesn’t deserve to be judged by the same standard, not any more than a (mostly) antiwar candidate who supported the return of British rule or the right of parents to stone disobedient children. It’s not hypocrisy to peg Ron Paul as a hateful batshit person and Obama as merely a triangulating Democrat. The lack of mainstream support for Ron Paul is not a sign of a deep problem with our political system, okay? The fact that he is not on a street corner waving a hand-lettered sign fucking well is.

          And when Greenwald insists that progressives dislike Paul because they’re dishonest, he accomplishes three things. One, he gives Paul’s hateful batshittery legitimacy it should never have. Two, he insults pretty much everyone who feels threatened by hateful batshittery, and who didn’t need a newsletter expose to see that Paul was your garden-variety Bircher creep. Three, he makes it nearly impossible to have an adult discussion about what our political positions actually are. None of that is conducive either to defending progressive anti-imperialism or to protecting progressive ideology.

          And this is more of the same. It is important to pick the right examples of a problem. Otherwise, you end up with some seriously shitty arguments.

    • dangermouse says:

      Every gadfly’s tactics “backfire” because people don’t like gadflys and don’t like to discuss the shit they bring up.

      • R Johnston says:

        But not every gadfly fails because he’s a liar who derails his own arguments with off-point false accusations and by incorporating apologetics on behalf of a racist misogynistic xenophobic crackpot into his work.

        Glenn’s a special kind of failure as a gadfly. He’s an actual failure.

        • dangermouse says:

          But not every gadfly fails because he’s a liar who derails his own arguments with off-point false accusations and by incorporating apologetics on behalf of a racist misogynistic xenophobic crackpot into his work.

          Glenn’s a special kind of failure as a gadfly. He’s an actual failure.

          I was already aware that you enjoy talking about Glenn Greenwald much more than talking about assassinations of scientists by the Israeli and/or US governments but thanks for that reminder.

  3. c u n d gulag says:

    Paul,
    You’re to be commended for writing that.
    And it’s certainly true – of all of us.
    Right and left.
    Myself included.

    I used to read Greenwald a lot, and I just can’t get over the impression that Greenwald hectors other Liberal bloggers because he just loves to hector people in general. And he seems to take special glee from it if they’re on the same side of the issues on most things with him. I think it makes him feel even more important, more special. He even responded to a negative post about him by Steve M at around 3am a short while back. So, he’s also got a bit of problem with being a bit thin-skinned.
    But, like I said, that’s my impression – and what the hell do I know?

    • kabosh says:

      GG lives in Brazil, his 3:00 AM is not everyone’s 3 AM. Regardless, I think Glenn does not just love to hector people– I think he is genuinely, increasingly, and justifiably very frustrated with the weird partisan cognitive dissonance that attacks one party for doing something, then ignores or supports the same thing when the other party does it. He’s mad, and he should be. And since the party holding the presidency is ostensibly “his side” right now, they are the right target to go after. He demands more of the left– so should we all.

      • broangelico says:

        Well said. I see that Greenwald gets on the nerves of a lot of commenters here. That’s a good litmus test: many comments suggest that the commenters don’t actually read him, in the sense of being able to paraphrase what he says. They keep repeating the mistake he predicts they’ll make: they take an attack on the logic of a position as an an ad hominem attack (something Krugman gets accused of too), or as evidence of whom he’ll vote or not vote for, etc. I conclude that he’s saying something it’s important for these readers (and the parallel readers of Krugman) not to see. It’s along the lines of the hear no evil see no evil speak no evil mentality that brought us Iraq. Nothing has changed except a letter, and many many liberals are no better off now than they were then. This is astounding. As Bob Somerby–another radical–wrote a few days ago at The Daily Howler apropos Greenwald, liberal tribalism is at full throttle, and we are too committed to our collective orthodoxies to yet be able to offer the country a serious alternative to our failing democracy–our tribe, as he says, is just dumb, and insists on remaining so.

        Greenwald, meanwhile, makes me laugh: he’s got the number of many many pundits, and their compromisedness is on record, thanks to him. He has this weird ability to hit bull’s eye on an almost word by word basis. Honesty is hard, and I think he makes a lot of people sense that their ethics haven’t been hard earned. So yes, I laugh, because it’s funny when the one-brave-person says, “but the emperor has no clothes!”–you should see the expressions on the faces of those who are mortgaged to the emperor!

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          That’s a good litmus test: many comments suggest that the commenters don’t actually read him, in the sense of being able to paraphrase what he says.

          Evidence is nice. Feel free to use any of my comments for examples. I’ll issue a correction if you show this.

          Though I’d prefer if you did more than find “suggestion” and pointed to actual misreadings or failed paraphrases.

          • broangelico says:

            Not sure why you take this personally–it was a general comment, and I didn’t have anything by you in mind. “Suggest” was there exactly because I wasn’t being definitive, offered for what it was worth.

            Anyway, examples: I was pretty stunned when I read statements by Katha Pollitt and a column by (first name I don’t recall) Carpentier at the Guardian reporting Greenwald’s views on Ron Paul. I think Greenwald does walk a line too fine for many of his readers, who are already too beholden to prior positions to pay word by word attention to what he’s saying. In my view, it boils down to his insistence on description, and many of his readers’ insistence on “whose side are you on?” Also, his lawyer’s use of logic. Logic isn’t the fail-safe tool it’s often taken to be, but Greenwald is a good practitioner, in my view. So he keeps putting the logical mirror up before partisan Democrats, and challenging them to change the way they talk if they are to be consistent. One of his most repeated challenges is to say “So what you [X] say today flatly contradicts what you said when Bush was in power. There’s nothing to stop you changing your mind about an issue–but then, don’t pretend that that position you’re taking today is consistent with your previous one.”

            In sum: I’m for the descriptions Greenwald provides before I’m for the party(or peer-group) affiliation. I came to the US 30 years ago, and still wonder today at the dominance of politics by interest groups (“progressives” would be one) instead of by a respect for language, so that we seek to attach the best-possible words (meaning the ones that seem to correspond most accurately) to things, and then derive the politics from those words.

            Yes, Greenwald can employ a scorched earth rhetoric, but in my opinion the failing that cripples us is in the other direction, of not calling spades spades.

            Said more in sadness than anger, with lots of frustration thrown in.

            • broangelico says:

              Postscript:

              I see I wasn’t fair to your post. I was indeed referring to commenters on this thread, so I think you just volunteered yourself, weren’t being prickly (maybe I was). And the examples of Pollitt and Carpentier don’t speak to my comment on the commenters here. I’ll leave it at saying, when I skimmed this thread, I felt I’ve seen this before, as when I read the external comments, and it seems to me the same divide here as I saw in Pollitt and Carpentier (hence litmus test): some people are misreading Greenwald in the way I try to lay out above. I still don’t have anything by you in mind, and I will leave the comment for what it’s worth, rather than document it by picking out comments in this discussion.

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                Fair enough. I was just volunteering myself, so no worries!

                The part that I would urge caution on is the generalization. The part I find particularly annoying is the lack of acknowledgement of the faults complained about. In any conversation you may well find snark, and jokes, and mean things being said. If those bother you, move on or call them out, whatever. But a defense of Greenwald’s post requires responding to the best, not the worst.

                Furthermore, as these generalization are being viewed through and used to support a world view narrative (e.g., about liberal hypocrisy), it’s extra special important to take some care in looking at the evidence. For example, I look at these threads and I see some noise and a few insults (indeed, I’m indulged in some snark and crude language), surrounding some real criticism. I didn’t find the criticism substantively dealt with. If you look at Greenwald’s long comment, it starts by a hyperbolic insult (he’s never looked at birtherism?!) and a total failure to engage in the substantial criticism, and a defense that even his defenders found ridiculous (“I just wanted to know! SEE THE QUESTION MARK!!!”).

                This doesn’t eliminate the good bits (Thanks to him again for staying on top of the murders!), but these are things that he’s actually done. They may not bug you, which is ok. People go over the top and this is the internet. But I would think that Reynolds finding aid and comfort in Greenwald’s post is a sufficiently negative outcome that Greenwald may want to reconsider how he does things.

            • matttbastard says:

              I see that Greenwald gets on the nerves of a lot of commenters here. That’s a good litmus test

              Rush Limbaugh uses the same self-aggrandizing, specious reasoning in a cloying attempt to muddy the water & justify the unjustifiable. Alas, it doesn’t actually prove anything. Lobbing baseless insults — even those self-righteously glazed in a gauzy veneer of moral vanity — typically results in *gasp* those who were (fairly or unfairly) singled out feeling insulted — no more, no less.

              Or, shorter: “Have you stopped beating yr Schnauzer yet?” is never a good-faith question.

              Never.

              Also, his lawyer’s use of logic rhetoric. Logic Rhetoric isn’t the fail-safe tool it’s often taken to be, but Greenwald is a good practitioner, in my view.

              FTFY.

              HTH HAND.

      • R Johnston says:

        I think he is genuinely, increasingly, and justifiably very frustrated with the weird partisan cognitive dissonance that attacks one party for doing something, then ignores or supports the same thing when the other party does it.

        That happens, and it’s a real problem. There is a lot of excusing Obama on the left that is hypocritical partisan bullshittery. That’s why it’s such a bad thing when GG can’t even find real examples of it happening and instead makes up stories and speculates about possibilities that never happened and that are, quite frankly, thoroughly ridiculous, such as the notion that Scott Lemieux was engaging in Obama apologism by not immediately blogging about the latest death of an Iranian nuclear scientist.

        Greenwald is the boy who cried wolf over and over again, and he now no longer has any useful ability to criticize Obama or Obama’s irrational defenders.

        • kabosh says:

          So you’re acknowledging that it happens,
          and obviously the post that we’re all commenting on frankly acknowledges the same: “The answer is uncomfortable. I didn’t follow this story because, at bottom, this story puts ‘my team’ in a bad light.” But your beef with GG, and your energy here, is because he didn’t use the *right* examples of this?

          • Furious Jorge says:

            Not the *right* examples – it’s that he didn’t use any *real* examples.

            • R Johnston says:

              Exactly. He blatantly lied, used obviously fake examples, blew his own credibility, and the most likely conclusion people who don’t already agree with him will draw from his need to make shit up is that there isn’t any real evidence that he has to present.

              People who make bad faith arguments when good faith arguments should be easy to make if they exist are quite properly dismissed out of hand. They have nothing of value to say.

      • david mizner says:

        That was good, so good I’m going to block quote it.

        I think he is genuinely, increasingly, and justifiably very frustrated with the weird partisan cognitive dissonance that attacks one party for doing something, then ignores or supports the same thing when the other party does it. He’s mad, and he should be. And since the party holding the presidency is ostensibly “his side” right now, they are the right target to go after. He demands more of the left– so should we all.

        I’m going to go a little farther and guess that he actually cares about the results of the policies in question — you know, the lost liberties and dead Muslims and such.

        What some people read as arrogance and hectoring I read as moral outrage, which we need more of.

      • rea says:

        GG lives in Brazil, his 3:00 AM is not everyone’s 3 AM.

        Brazil is three hours later than NYC, not earlier.

  4. Jason says:

    Nice points here.

    To be a quality gadfly, though, you have to 1) have good sense and 2) avoid the appearance of being driven by pique and personal animus. Greenwald used to be much better on both of these scores. His mind-boggling stuff about Ron Paul weakened his cred considerably. Perhaps he can recover.

    But pre-emptive gadflying is always dumb. Drum, for example, commented on the assassination today, calling it terrorism. Greenwald might imagine he induced him to do so, but that is almost certainly not so: Drum made similar points in several posts about al-Awlaki in the fall. . And Bernstein has done nothing at all to warrant being tarred with the hypocrisy brush.

    Good gadflies make it hard, not easy, to brush them away.

    • Greenwald used to be much better on both of these scores.

      No, he didn’t. He only seemed to be better during the Bush administration because his target made it so easy.

    • david mizner says:

      Yeah, now that bloggers at a few mostly obscure pro-Obama blogs are (more frequently)calling him mean names, I wonder if he can recover.

      There’s been a pretty consistent and largely barrage of often dishonest criticism directed at him since about (coincidentally!) January 2009 from many of the same people. Meanwhile his stature and influence across the broader left continue to grow, as shown not least by all the criticism he gets.

    • Jason says:

      He only seemed to be better during the Bush administration because his target made it so easy.

      Nah, Joe, this goes too far. Greenwald was very good at forcing people to attend to the costs of American foreign-policy adventurism on innocent non-Americans. This is a topic Americans of all political persuasions tend to repress or ignore.

      Part of what made him good on this score was that his writing carried a moral force grounded simply in his meticulous detailing of the actual miseries of actual people. I grant that his writing now carries with it a strong sense that its (supposed) moral force is to be derived from the purity and specialness of the person writing it. But this is a shift.

      • “But it is a shift.”

        My point: that shift happened because the Obama administration makes it so much more difficult to find examples of “the costs of American foreign-policy adventurism on innocent non-Americans,” and in particular, to lay the responsibility for that cost at the feet of the incumbent President.

      • Jason says:

        Set aside the question of responsibility for the moment. It’s not at all hard to find examples of these costs post-Bush. Innocent people have been killed by drones, for example. Or have had their homes blown up. Or lost loved ones. Or live in fear of these eventualities.

        It’s good to to have outspoken people harping on these effects. Not because they are the only considerations relevant in foreign-policy decision-making. But because they should matter to us much more than they do–or, granted, much more than they ever have in the history of the foreign policy of this or any other nation-state.

  5. Glenn Greenwald says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much conspiratorial insanity as in the prior comment seection to the post by Scott.

    I asked Scott what his view was now that it’s actually happening for one simple reason: I didn’t know what his view would be but wanted to know. That’s the purpose of a question. That’s why I used a question mark.

    Those claiming that I “accused” Scott of anything – or “assumed” what his answers would be – are attributing to me their own fantasies and then railing against them.

    What I know is this:

    1) When a mere right-wing blogger advocated these assassinations, Scott spat all sorts of extreme invective at that blogger (which I agreed with at the time).

    2) Now that the assassinations are actually being done – rather than merely being proposed by a right-wing blogger on the Internet – I haven’t heard from Scott on this;

    THEREFORE,

    3) I wondered if the vehement denunciations Scott applied to Glenn Reynolds now apply with equal vigor to the Israeli Government, the U.S. Government, or whoever is responsible for these murders.

    Scott answered yes. Great. I believe him. And I think there’s value in having him (or anyone else) say so – because the murders are actually taking place right now, and the more people who denounce them, the better, in my view.

    Everything else being claimed about my “motives,” my “assumptions,” my “accusations” are pure fabrications.

    If I wanted to accuse Scott of doing something, I would do accused him directly. I’ve done it before and have no problem doing it when I think it’s warranted.

    Here, I asked a question because I wanted to know the answer, and having heard it, I’m glad I asked it, for exactly the reasons Paul just explained.

    I love the anger that results among partisan commenters when someone is condemns what their leader seems to be doing. I genuinely love it. It’s healthy and necessary.

    • I asked Scott what his view was now that it’s actually happening for one simple reason: I didn’t know what his view would be but wanted to know. That’s the purpose of a question.

      There are other purposes to a question.

    • Njorl says:

      I asked Scott what his view was now that it’s actually happening for one simple reason: I didn’t know what his view would be but wanted to know. That’s the purpose of a question. That’s why I used a question mark.

      While it is certainly only my opinion, I believe you are lying. If you had said that you asked because you wanted him to talk about his views, rather than remaining silent, I could believe you.

      Did you really think that Scott would change his mind on such a thing? It is within the realm of the imaginable to think he might lack his professed conviction on the matter and remain silent, but to change his mind?

      And if you think that finding out the answer is the only purpose of a question, you are remarkably naive.

      Why do you insist on going beyond the provacative to the deranged?

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      I’m shocked that a lawyer would publicly claim to be unware of how rhetoric works.

      I have no doubt that Professors Campos and Heller would apply the same legal rationale now that it’s actually being done, but what about the progressives who so stridently denounced Reynolds? Does Lemieux still believe that whoever is responsible — Israel, the U.S., or some combination — is guilty of dispatching “illegal death squads”?

      You have no doubt about Campos but you had some doubt about Lemieux?

      You insinuated. People who support you read it as insinuation. Paul, above, read your “question” as having a point other than question, i.e., to elicit. Mizner was very explicit on this in the prior thread.

      Sigh.

      Greenwald, thank you for vocally condemning the murders and other actions against Iran. I really do, personally, appreciate it. If the end result is some effective awareness, then I don’t even care that you did so in (what I think is) a crappy way.

      However, it doesn’t make your insinuations innocuous or non-insinuations.

    • david mizner says:

      Come on, GG. It was more than a question. It was a call-out. Own it.

      Nothing wrong with that, on the contrary: that, as Campos points out, is one of the reasons we (many of us) rely on you, because you’re do what you can to hold liberals to their avowed principles.

      • Robert Farley says:

        Don’t project your artifice on Glenn.

      • scanner says:

        yeah, I think the real implication of Greenwald’s question is properly rephrased by, “I know Paul Campos isn’t a partisan stooge. Is Scott Lemieux?”

        Well gosh, then you can’t just turn around and say “there was a question mark!” when people react negatively. There are less provocative ways of asking Scott’s position.

      • Glenn Greenwald says:

        Come on, GG. It was more than a question. It was a call-out. Own it.

        The “call-out” was — as I said — that I found it extremely odd that Scott and others were so vehement and vocal when it came to condemning Glenn Reynolds, but so quiet when the assassination proposal actually started happening while Obama was President.

        There are possible explanations for this incosistent behavior that aren’t necessarily bad – not everyone can be aware of everything, so perhaps Scott didn’t know until today that Iranian scientists were being serially murdered. It’s exactly been a topic that’s received lots of media attention. That’s why I asked – in order to say: what upset you so much when Glenn Reynolds proposed it is now actually happening and has been for some time: what do you have to say about it?

        But I did not know what Scott would say in response to my question. I’m not surprised that he said he condemns it; really, given what he wrote before, how could he not?. I’m glad he said that. I wish more people would.

        My goal was simple: to get more people to speak out against it.

        So yes: part of my writing about this was to force those who have been silent to speak up the same way they did when a mere right-wing blogger proposed it. But I genuinely didn’t know why Scott has been so silent about it and did not know what he’d say in response.

        If I wanted to accuse Scott of partisan hackery, I would have zero hesitation about doing so directly.

        • piny says:

          If you honestly didn’t know how Scott would respond to a question about whether or not he opposed blowing up Iranian scientists even when it’s Obama doing it, then your perspective is as distorted as Ron Paul’s. And here, again, you blur your own desire to provoke a particular response with this bullshit about honest questions.

          If you simply wanted to know, you wouldn’t have asked the question in such a way as to imply that Scott et al. were protecting Obama. You’re an attorney and an editorial journalist. You knew exactly what you were doing. You know what rhetoric is. If you had simply accused him of partisan hackery, you wouldn’t have been able to take credit for his stated position now.

        • david mizner says:

          Fair nuff.

          As both you and Campos touch on, the lack of reaction from liberal sources perpetuates itself; the ‘sphere being what it is, the less chatter there is, the less chatter there will be. Which, of course, is the idea. Indefinite Detention was the rare issue that broke through, which is precisely why you’ve faced such tremendous pushback and smearing. It was only in the weeks since the President codified indefinite detention that so many people began to call you apologist for white supremacy and find fault with your allegedly cushy life of privilege in Brazil.

          • Glenn Greenwald says:

            It was only in the weeks since the President codified indefinite detention that so many people began to call you apologist for white supremacy and find fault with your allegedly cushy life of privilege in Brazil.

            I do wonder how I managed to hide my compulsive lying, my white privilege, my admiration for white supremacy, and all the other recently discovered horrible traits for all those years when I was condemning George Bush and criticizing right-wing bloggers rather than Barack Obama and progressive bloggers.

            It’s as though beginning January 20, 2009, my character radically changed. How weird.

            • Marc says:

              It’s as if you’re incapable of even acknowledging the real reasons why people object to your tactics. No matter how often it’s explained to you, it just *has* to be that they’re just blinded by partisanship.

            • piny says:

              Actually, I started thinking of you as an apologist for white supremacy after you summarized Ron Paul’s views thusly:

              …in exchange for less severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, the preservation of the Education and Energy Departments, more stringent environmental regulations, broader health care coverage, defense of reproductive rights for women, stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities, a President with no associations with racist views in a newsletter, and a more progressive Supreme Court.

              I mean, I know that you’re only a rhetorical apologist for white supremacy, that you were only doing it to score even more cheap points over other progressive bloggers, but still. So extremely disappointing, those newsletters! I was also disillusioned. Were you honestly curious about Ron Paul’s response to those tough questions?

              I would also like to go on the record, on the strength of the preceding paragraph, as calling you an apologist for lethal misogyny.

              • Kal says:

                “summarized Ron Paul’s views”

                Didn’t you just quote Greenwald’s paragraph on the advantages of Obama over Paul?

                You might want to be a little more careful before going “on the record” as calling someone an “apologist for lethal misogyny”.

                Or maybe you meant that by saying Obama might be preferable to Paul just because Obama would provide “defense of reproductive rights for women”, Greenwald was underplaying the difference between the two, and doing it so severely as to constitute apologism for misogyny?

                If the latter is the case, well, I don’t really know what more to say…

                • piny says:

                  It’s a summary of the differences between them: IOW, Ron Paul offers less support for women’s reproductive rights.

                  And yes, actually, that is what I’m saying. He seriously argued that progressives who write Ron Paul off as a political freak are doing so because he embarrasses them rather than because he is obviously a hateful crazy person. And I do think that, in order to make that momentarily seem like a sensible argument, he had to first position Paul as someone who was not really all that hateful or crazy. And in order to do that, he had to misrepresent Paul’s feelings towards women and people of color. (“Disappointing.” Christ.) And those of his supporters. As though Paul would simply be less invested in protecting women’s reproductive rights, and less politically committed to fighting racial discrimination. As though Paul’s enduring political semirelevance is a result of his love of freedom. I thought the whole thing was just kind of stupid and unsavory, but if he’s going to go around attacking progressive bloggers for not condemning various things strongly enough, he might want to be less of a disingenuous asshole himself.

              • Adam says:

                I would also like to go on the record, on the strength of the preceding paragraph, as calling you an apologist for lethal misogyny.

                I’ve read this comment over and over again, and I can’t seem to figure out if it’s for real or not. I mean, I knew people made logical fallacies, but I haven’t quite seen one this spectacular in a long time. Well done, sir. Well done.

            • david mizner says:

              Well if Mittens wins, you’ll be reborn again as one of ‘our guys’ (once they finally stop blaming you for Obama’s loss).

            • I do wonder how I managed to hide my compulsive lying, my white privilege, my admiration for white supremacy, and all the other recently discovered horrible traits for all those years when I was condemning George Bush and criticizing right-wing bloggers rather than Barack Obama and progressive bloggers.

              The same way that Dan Orlovsky was able to hide what a lousy quarterback he is when playing against New Englad’s defense, but was exposed when he played the Texans.

            • L2P says:

              Glenn, I have to say for me I finally located your hidden your racism and misogyny when you started using fancier and fancier ways of telling me to ignore the women and black folk.

              Trying to claim you aren’t racist because you use fancy words instead of telling racist jokes? That’s some good, old school Country Club racism right there, my friend. Welcome to the Republican party, circa 1969.

        • dms says:

          I think the tell lies in this sentence:

          That’s why I asked – in order to say: what upset you so much when Glenn Reynolds proposed it is now actually happening and has been for some time: what do you have to say about it?

          That was indeed not how you presented or asked the question originally. That you can, after the fact, re-phrase your question in a relatively neutral way, indicates that you query had more purpose than merely gaining knowledge.

        • L2P says:

          If I wanted to accuse Scott of partisan hackery, I would have zero hesitation about doing so directly.

          Wow, I’d hate to see Glenn’s idea of “directly” accusing somebody of partisan hackery. My guess: he tattoos a scarlet Jonah Goldberg on your cheek.

        • Pith Helmet says:

          If only there were some way to send a private message to someone via a vast series of tubes, so that they could answer your question before you asked it in a very public forum.

          You know, like, a journalist would do.

    • piny says:

      Jesus Christ, you honestly don’t understand why this:

      I didn’t know what his view would be but wanted to know.

      is profoundly insulting? I’m impressed that Scott was so nice to you.

      Hey, Scott, how do you feel about the murder of nuns in El Salvador? I’m honestly curious, because I honestly have no idea how you feel about that. Glad? Sad? Indifferent? Hungry? Help me out here. I’m drawing a blank.

      • jeer9 says:

        I agree that it was intentionally insulting and GG should own that. But then it’s not as if Lemieux doesn’t engage in smarmy or dismissive insinuations.

        • piny says:

          Of course he does. Heck, I just insinuated that Glenn Greenwald is dishonest and also a jerk. But I’ve never seen him turn around and say, Hey, when I asked you how you felt about goat-blowing, I certainly didn’t mean to imply that you were objectively pro-goat-fellatio, or that you ever engaged in it yourself. I was curious. What could possibly be offensive about that? Clearly, everyone who thinks I’m being a dishonest jerk is caught up in partisan fervor, rallying around their blog commander, etc. etc.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          But does he disavow what he’s doing? Not that I’ve noticed.

          Does he do it for things not said where the silence or the contrary statement is predictably insignificant (re: silence) or predictably wouldn’t happen (the contrary statement)?

      • chris says:

        Hey, Scott, how do you feel about the murder of nuns in El Salvador? I’m honestly curious, because I honestly have no idea how you feel about that.

        Yeah, that’s IMO the fishiest thing about Glenn’s claim to be just asking for information: if someone disapproves of murder generally and on principle, do you really have to ask them about every specific instance to know whether they disapprove of *that* murder? Let alone claim to have no idea how they’re going to answer?

        By that logic, I don’t know anything about Glenn’s feelings about, say, the Tucson shooting; unless he happens to have written a post about it, it’s a complete 50/50 chance whether he is pro or con. That’s insane troll logic.

        The only way to actually arrive at that ignorance is to first assume that they don’t actually believe in their principles and those principles have no relation to what they actually do and don’t approve of. So obviously people get insulted when you assume things like that about them.

    • MikeF says:

      I wondered if the vehement denunciations Scott applied to Glenn Reynolds now apply with equal vigor to the Israeli Government, the U.S. Government, or whoever is responsible for these murders.

      Well, you plainly asserted that the assassinations were carried out by:

      some combination of Israel and the U.S… doing exactly that which Reynolds recommended.

      And then asked Scott for his view, phrasing the question in a way that contrasted his assumed position to the expected consistent “legal rationale” of Campos and Heller.

      In other words, you made an assumption about U.S. complicity in the killings and then used it to imply that Scott and other progressives were keeping quiet about what they had previously denounced (they must just love Dear Leader!), without actually proving your initial assertion. When you finally get around to establishing US complicity you provide a link in which a former US intelligence official says that it is widely assumed that Israel is behind the attacks but that “the Israelis would never confirm or admit responsibility.”

      But I guess the Mossad acting alone counts as “some combination of Israel and the U.S.”. and is enough in your mind to tar progressives with inconsistency for not denouncing that action is fiercely as (some of them) denounced calls for the US to unambiguously carry out similar assassinations.

    • ploeg says:

      Indeed. So whenever some reasonable but unsubstantiated allegations of assassinations comes across your desk, and Glenn hasn’t said anything about it yet, it’s appropriate to question whether Glenn still believes that assassinations are wrong. ‘Cause, you know, you don’t know whether Glenn has changed his mind about the morality of assassinations, and the more people who denounce them, the better.

      And be sure to send Glenn a note whenever you learn of such allegations, just so that he knows.

      • Glenn Greenwald says:

        Indeed. So whenever some reasonable but unsubstantiated allegations of assassinations comes across your desk, and Glenn hasn’t said anything about it yet, it’s appropriate to question whether Glenn still believes that assassinations are wrong. ‘Cause, you know, you don’t know whether Glenn has changed his mind about the morality of assassinations, and the more people who denounce them, the better.

        Yes, if I rant and rave with self-righteous fury on more than one occasion when an obscure right-wing blogger proposes an assassination program, but then remain totally silent when either my government or its closest ally is widely (and reasonably) assumed to carry it out over the course of two years: yes, I think I should be asked to explain why I was so vocal in condemning the former but so quiet when the latter was done.

        • Malaclypse says:

          an obscure right-wing blogger

          Glenn Reynolds is obscure?

        • piny says:

          …Yes, those insinuations you totally weren’t making are totally reasonable insinuations to make.

        • Kal says:

          “rant and rave with self-righteous fury”

          I want to be on your side here, Glenn, but this is not a good way to describe a post to which you have no reason to object. All outrage Reynolds received was deserved, regardless of what was to happen years later.

        • Hogan says:

          1) When a mere right-wing blogger advocated these assassinations, Scott spat all sorts of extreme invective at that blogger (which I agreed with at the time).

          rant and rave with self-righteous fury on more than one occasion when an obscure right-wing blogger proposes an assassination program

          Having read Scott’s posts on the matter, I’d be curious to see other examples of what you consider “extreme invective” or “ranting and raving with self-righteous fury.”

    • I asked Scott what his view was now that it’s actually happening for one simple reason: I didn’t know what his view would be but wanted to know. That’s the purpose of a question.

      You are so full of shit, and you seem to think everyone reading you is a moron.

    • I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much conspiratorial insanity as in the prior comment seection to the post by Scott.

      Maybe you should go back and read your silliness about the DHS directing the local crackdowns on OWS protests.

      • Glenn Greenwald says:

        Joe From Lowell

        Maybe you should go back and read your silliness about the DHS directing the local crackdowns on OWS protests.

        I’d love to. The problem is, I have no recollection about writing that. Since you do, would you mind quoting me and providing a link, and I’ll be happy to go back and read it.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much conspiratorial insanity as in the prior comment seection to the post by Scott.

      What, you don’t read what you write?

      (Just a question! I really do wonder if you read what you write!)

  6. rea says:

    I don’t see the slightest reason to think the US is involved in murdering Iranian scientists.

    • kevin says:

      serious or snark?

    • Lurker says:

      One of the oldest Roman legal maxims is Cui bono? For whose benefit? M. Tullius Cicero used to attribute it to L. Cassius.

      Here, this maxim applies extremely well. The beneficiary of these murders is clearly Israel, and as its ally, the US. And domestically, Mr. Obama.

      And as a scientist, I strongly condemn the actions of any state to assasinate my colleagues, whether they be Iranian, Russian, Israeli or American. A scientist who is working for the defence of his country is a patriot that should be respected, even if the politics of that country are reprehensible.

      • John says:

        Cui bono is idiocy. It’s a way to avoid having to actually find evidence of anything.

        • Njorl says:

          True, but it’s a decent way to decide where to start looking.

          • Auguste says:

            “Start looking” dne “proceed as if already proven.”

            • R Johnston says:

              People are allowed to make tentative assessments and change them as they learn additional information. You don’t need to prove something beyond any doubt in order to have a valid opinion that that something is true; you just need to acknowledge the tentative nature of your opinion and be clear about what kind of evidence would change your mind.

              • chris says:

                People are allowed to make tentative assessments and change them as they learn additional information.

                Yes, but condemning someone for not sharing your tentative assessments and preemptively agreeing with you on that basis is rather silly. Maybe they have different tentative assessments, or just reserve judgment until more evidence is in.

                • R Johnston says:

                  In this specific case, the better lines of attack are to note that the claim that this particularly benefits the U.S. and Obama is dubious at best, that alternative beneficiaries aren’t properly considered–in particular, without knowing exactly how critical the murdered scientists were to the Iranian nuclear power effort, I don’t think you can eliminate as a strong possibility that Iran is killing off a few of its own marginally useful scientists in order to push anti-U.S. and anti-Israel propaganda and to justify greater secrecy about the project–and to emphasize that the conclusion reached by the argument would be highly tentative even with a proper premise.

                  The problems are with the substance of Lurker’s argument and the fact that his conclusion seems insufficiently tentative. With sounder premises, better consideration of alternatives, and a sufficient appreciation of the tentative nature of the conclusion the argument allows for the form of the argument would be just fine.

                  And Lurker didn’t condemn people for not reaching the same tentative conclusion about who is most likely accountable for murdering the scientist. He condemned the state actors he, in part improperly, concluded were accountable.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Yeah, I think “cui bono” was also the philosophy used by Oliver Stone to demonstrate that JFK must have been the victim of a conspiracy because nobody could tolerate such a left-wing radical in the White House.

      • Njorl says:

        No country wants Iran to have the bomb.

        Saudi Arabia certainly has the means to perform these assassinations. They also have the advantage of thousands of Iranians entering and leaving Saudi Arabia each year.

        If I had to bet on it, I’d certainly bet on Israel, but there are certainly more possibilities than Israel and the US.

      • A scientist who is working for the defence of his country is a patriot that should be respected, even if the politics of that country are reprehensible.

        No. Patriotism is not, in itself, a virtue.

        • Njorl says:

          I think of patriotism as a virtue, and as a word that is misused more often than not. You could consider patriotism to be those aspects of nationalism which are virtuous.

          Anyway, I think it would be a more useful word that way, but I’ve found that having my own private definitions for words hasn’t been an effective communication strategy.

          • Neither patriotism nor nationalism are virtues per se, and we dispensed with the “just following orders” defense some time ago.

            • In point of fact, many thousands of Germans were exonerated because they were just following orders.

              The Nuremberg Tribunals rejected the “just following orders” defense from high-level Nazis on the grounds that they were not “just following orders,” but were the ones formulating those orders and giving them to underlings.

              It’s a pet peeve of mine that this bit of history is so consistently misrepresented. If the doctrine was as you claim it would be, ever private in the German army and every paid worker in the munitions plan would be guilty of waging aggressive war.

              • Emma in Sydney says:

                Not to mention all of those in the US Army and military industries.

                • Remind me, what Americans have been found guilty of waging aggressive war?

                • Anonymous says:

                  Remind me, what Americans have been found guilty of waging aggressive war?

                  None, of course, because they didn’t wage one and more importantly war crimes tribunals are generally for the losers. That said, it’s not exactly the only serious war crime. Your larger point is correct, as thinking about Americans exemplifies:

                  1. The firebombing of Dresden (and other cities) is a war crime if the concept of proportionality has any content whatsoever.

                  2. “Just following orders” would be, to my mind, a sufficient defense for an American fighter pilot, in some alternate universe where war crimes tribunals were for winners as well as losers.

              • That’s an absurd misreading of the history and law.

                Not all acts in support of war are war crimes. But war crimes are crimes, regardless of the procedural correctness of the order. Which is why many death-camp guards have been held accountable, etc.

                • My reading is not only non-absurd, but the consensus view in international law, and irrefutable by the evidence.

                  Not all acts in support of war are war crimes.

                  All acts in support of an aggressive war are the crime of waging aggressive war. Nice elision there between “war” (not a war crime) and “aggressive war” (a war crime).

                  But war crimes are crimes, regardless of the procedural correctness of the order.

                  This is both true and completely irrelevant to what I wrote. The waging of the war by Germany was a war crime. What we’re discussing is who is guilty of that crime.

                  Which is why many death-camp guards have been held accountable, etc.

                  Death-camp “guard” was a volunteer position. You had to volunteer for the SS, and the Germans happily transferred death-camp personnel who did not want to do the job into combat units, with no repercussions.

                  Once again, many thousands of Germans who actually were “just following orders” were never charged with war crimes. Some were brought up and later released on those grounds. The “just following orders” defense was rejected at Nuremberg for the defendants who raised it on the grounds that they were formulating and passing on orders.

                  This is not my reading. This is well-documented historical fact, easily found in the transcripts and reports of the trials.

                • You’re conflating war crimes. The crime of waging aggressive war was applied to policy leaders (especially in the Tokyo tribunals) but not to soldiers whose responsibility was limited to working within the laws of war as they existed, and not perpetrating novel crimes later defined as crimes against humanity and codified into the laws of warfare.

                  “Just following orders” is only a defense if the orders do not, in themselves, violate normal humane standards of warfare (which is an absurd concept in itself, but you have to live with it. Or die). Actions which constitute aggression against specific civilian populations, ethnic cleansing, or unnecessary cruelty to prisoners are a different kind of war crime.

                • I’ve conflated nothing. I can’t even tell what you’re trying to say. Did you mistype something? I’m conflating what with what, exactly?

                • “Just following orders” is only a defense if the orders do not, in themselves, violate normal humane standards of warfare (which is an absurd concept in itself, but you have to live with it. Or die).

                  This doesn’t make any sense. If you’re only following orders which not violate those norms, then you need no defense, as there is no crime to charge, or to defend yourself against.

                  Actions which constitute aggression against specific civilian populations, ethnic cleansing, or unnecessary cruelty to prisoners are a different kind of war crime.

                  And many thousands of German privates who engaged in such acts were not tried at Nuremberg, and some defendants who were initially brought in under such charges were let go, some even found not guilty, because they were actually “just following orders.”

  7. david mizner says:

    Good post, and I appreciate this especially.

    I have no doubt whatsoever that, if the serial murder of Iranian scientists had been happening in the course of the McCain administration, I would have been all over this story, in part because, given the sources of opinion I read regularly, I would have been much more aware of that story, which, for the same reasons I haven’t been paying attention to it, hasn’t been prominently featured by those sources.

    For others, the reasons for silence is straight-up partisanship. Only the blind or stupid would claim that liberal blogworld hasn’t muted its criticism of some of Obama’s actions and policies — one that would have generated a firestorm of outrage from the same sources had they come from Bush. Murdering scientists is just one. NDAA, murdering American citizens, and drone-mania are a few others.

    This, by the way, is defensible. Democrats can reasonably argue that because they basically admire President Obama and basically loathed President Bush, because they want Dems to win and Republicans to lose, they play down Obama’s sins.
    That’s called politics, a certain kind of it anyway, and I wish more people (or just one person) would cop to it instead of getting all self-righteous and Who Me?

    Of course, that’s now how Greenwald rolls — if anything, in response to partisan whitewashing, he goes out of his way to highlight Obama’s Bushian crimes, and that’s one of the reasons he’s valuable.

    • Marc says:

      Some of us dislike conspiracy theories and evidence-free assertions of responsibility for murder, regardless of whom they’re against.

      This is yet another area where the Greenwald approach is destructive and stupid. His automatic assumption is that anyone defending Obama is a blind partisan. Given his blind animosity against the man, the most charitable interpretation is projection.

      Mine is less charitable: he’s trying to win arguments at all costs, and sliming people who disagree can be an initially effective tactic to throw them off balance. After a while, however, nasty debating tactics have a way of becoming widely known. And that’s why his credibility is plunging so fast. (Although, the “thin skinned” and “incapable of ever admitting error” aspects have been definite accelerants.)

      • R Johnston says:

        His automatic assumption is that anyone defending Obama is a blind partisan.

        Further, Greenwald automatically assumes that anyone on the left who disagrees with Greenwald is defending Obama. Thus anyone on the left who disagrees with Greenwald is a blind partisan.

      • david mizner says:

        I was trying to expand the conversation beyond GG, but so it goes.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      It’s not at all clear to me how this is intended to expand the conversation beyond Greenwald or the odd Greenwald focus on metaissues rather than first order issues and the even odder systematic failure of his discussion of those metaissues. But, I guess that’s how Greenwald rolls.

      Let me swallow it for the moment and try to engage “beyond Greenwald”.

      Only the blind or stupid would claim that liberal blogworld hasn’t muted its criticism of some of Obama’s actions and policies — one that would have generated a firestorm of outrage from the same sources had they come from Bush. Murdering scientists is just one. NDAA, murdering American citizens, and drone-mania are a few others.

      Can I just note that this is not an evidence supported, or even a well-formulated, assertion? Let’s restrict our attention to LGM for a moment: It seems perfectly clear to me that LGM has generally been tonally and substantively consistent over the Bush and Obama years in the sense that similar outranges get similar treatment. Some notable blogs ahve been tonally consistent in that their total level of outrage has been consistent over the two administrations. Obviously, that’s not a virtue, much less a tracking the truth virtue.

      Of course, that is an impression. The responsible thing to do is to perform an analysis of the blog’s archives or random sample thereof. (I did a very small bit of this as a lark in response to something who made a claim about Scott’s “last ten posts”. Unfortunately the search engines have not been kind.) Standard cognitive blindness like confirmation bias require proper methods to overcome. I really would like to see some actual evidence that liberal and progressive bloggers have systematically been in the tank. Or even more likely to be less inflammatory about roughly the same behavior when done by Obama than by Bush.

      I conjecture that for a reasonably coherent set of bloggers (roughly from Drum to LGM) there has been a high level of tonal and substantive consistency across the administration with regard to similarly events. Given how bad Bush was, it’s also probable that the overall level of criticism and “shrillness” was much higher under Bush. But that’s fine, yes?

      (Indeed, a really bad part of all this is that it’s a projection from the right wing. Take filibuster reform. There were accusations that liberals were inconsistent, wanting to preserve it when they were the minority and wanting to destroy it when they were the majority. But that’s exactly what the right wingers did and precisely what a good chunk of the liberal blogosphere did not do. Banal, I know, but c’mon.)

      Once we have some reasonable data, we can entertain some explanatory hypotheses. I can imagine someone being harder on Bush for a given sort of event for partisan reasons, but I can also imagine someone being harder on Bush because of a higher base level of ire at the stolen election.

      All this is consistent with the very super banal observation that we favor our own side and we don’t like to be connected with severe wrongdoing. There are degrees of this, of course, and I don’t see any of the people named recently who fall into the “moderate hack” level of this, much less the “like a Republican congressperson hack” level.

      BTW, I’m pretty suspicious of your “cop to the hypocrisy” line and, indeed, that whole paragraph. It’s striking that when Greenwald (yes, we’re back there) insinuates specific partisenblindness against specific persons, rather than nameless classes, he gets it trivially, obviously wrong. It’s also striking that the way he gets it wrong involve him not actually doing research (e.g., waiting a day or emailing the relevant people) and that the way he presents it insulates him from being assessed as wrong (both because “it’s just a question” and “it was my questioning that made it happen”).

      I don’t know why anyone on this blog would play down Obama’s sins in order to help him win if only because it’s hard to see how anyone would think that would work. (NEWS FLASH: LGM says Obama is the NICE kind of Muslim Baby Killer! Obama’s approval rating skyrockets!)

  8. Bartleby says:

    There certainly seems to be a lot of conclusion-jumping going on here.

    Do we know that an Iranian nuclear scientist was murdered? Reading the NYT only tells me that the Iranian government has reported such a murder.

    If there was a murder, do we know that it was committed by outside actors? Reading the NYT only tells me that the Iranian government has accused certain outside actors.

    If the murder was committed by outside actors, do we know that the United States Government had anything to do with it? I don’t see how we can at this point.

    And yet some people think that other people should have nothing better to do with their time today than to condemn Obama for doing something that he might not have done, and that might not even have happened. That seems like premature ejaculation to me.

    • John F says:

      There have been a few similar such acts, and after one there were allegations that the purported victim had in fact been killed by the Iranian Government for participating with the opposition.

      Now it is true that there really is no free press in Iran, and the Iranian Government may even be a less reliable source of info than most- but it seems that no one who would be “in the know,” dispute that this is happening.

      I’m also going to dispute one of the premises asserted earlier- the hanging of Germans by Russians was not as bad as the earlier hanging of Russians by Germans- simply because without the early aggression by Germany, the second wave of hangings would not have taken place –
      consider it like the “manslaughter” defense- an unprovoked bad act (murder) is considered worse than a provoked bad act (manslaughter), even if in complete isolation the underlying acts are the same.

    • Yes, and how can you know this isn’t ‘The Matrix’?

  9. Why didn’t I?

    Because you don’t write about Israel, Iran, or foreign politics at all. The last time you wrote about an issue of foreign politics was your October 25 post about the Italian Northern League’s xenophobia.

    The last time you wrote about anything in the MENA region was a June 22nd piece which was all about actions (Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan) in which the United States was involved. (As opposed to this, about which there is zero zilch nada evidence of American involvement).

    I could not find a single post you wrote about Israel or Iran.

    You’re too eager to buy into Greenwald’s little story about his own awesomeness, and your baseless bout of Maoist self-criticism of just silly.

    BTW, scrolling through your archives is a like a tour of the FAIL museum. The Libya War is an endless stalemate, we’re not leaving Iraq, the debt ceiling deal was a huge loss for the Democrats, people who didn’t take Obama’s gamesmanship seriously were “sad, really,” Republicans are going to blast Democrats for cutting entitlements, Tim Tebow is only considered good because of racism, Bradley Manning is being tortured…the FAIL just goes on and on, and a whole lot of it stems from you taking Glenn Greenwald’s posts at face value.

    • david mizner says:

      Hilarious.

      You purport to know Campos better than Campos himself.

    • Paul Campos says:

      BTW, scrolling through your archives is a like a tour of the FAIL museum. The Libya War is an endless stalemate, we’re not leaving Iraq, the debt ceiling deal was a huge loss for the Democrats, people who didn’t take Obama’s gamesmanship seriously were “sad, really,” Republicans are going to blast Democrats for cutting entitlements, Tim Tebow is only considered good because of racism, Bradley Manning is being tortured…

      Almost every one of these statements is a completely false description of what I actually wrote on the topic in question.

  10. Ed says:

    And getting lost in all this bloggy finger-pointing is the point that we already seem to be in a form of war with Iran. At least Greenwald is talking about this.

    • we already seem to be in a form of war with Iran

      Holy Question Begging, Batman!

      If we assume without evidence that this Mossad-style assassination of an Iranian scientist was carried out the United States…

      • david mizner says:

        It’s more than that.

        it’s not unreasonable to group these recent explosions with the Stuxnet virus of last summer that haywired an uranium enrichment facility in Natanz; last October’s explosion at a Shahab missile factory; the killing of three Iranian nuclear scientists in the past two years, last November’s attempted assassination of Fereydoun Abbasi-Davan–a senior official in the nuclear program — and rumblings of a second supervirus deployed this month as proof that the West’s war on Iran’s nuclear program is getting less covert by the minute.

        http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/12/is-iran-already-under-attack/249284/

        Coming from Goldberg, this may be wishful thinking, but the pattern is pretty clear.
        I suppose all this could be coming from Israel, in which case Israel is already at war with Iran, if that makes us feel better.

        • There’s a big difference between cyber-attacks and assassinations.

          I suppose all this could be coming from Israel, in which case Israel is already at war with Iran, if that makes us feel better.

          Or, you know, actually fits the evidence. But why bother with evidence, when there’s a narrative you want to push?

          • Patrick Meighan says:

            “There’s a big difference between cyber-attacks and assassinations.”

            As to the issue of whether or not either of the above two actions are tantamount to us being “at war” (which was the original assertion in this threadlet, and which you described as “question begging”), it is official US policy that not only is there *not* “a big difference” between the two, there is, in fact, no difference whatsoever.

            Patrick Meighan
            Culver City, CA

            • Patrick, did you notice that the very first sentence of the story you liked to reads: “can constitute an act of war?”

              As opposed to “constitutes and act of war?”

              Because a foreign government launching lethal attacks on the citizens of another country isn’t a situation that might or might not constitute an act of war, depending on the circumstances. It is an act of war, period full stop.

              • L2P says:

                One of our drones just killed like 20 Pakistanis last month. I don’t think we’re at war with them, are we?

                Not every lethal use of force by a government against another country’s citizens leads to war. Just like not every use of cyberterrorism leads to war.

                • One of our drones just killed like 20 Pakistanis last month. I don’t think we’re at war with them, are we?

                  No, we are at war with al Qaeda and the Taliban, and that drone strike was most certainly and act of war.

                  Not every lethal use of force by a government against another country’s citizens leads to war.

                  I’m willing to consider your thesis, but your example doesn’t get us there.

                • LJM says:

                  Joe, your response assumes that the people we’re killing in Pakistan (and Afghanistan and Yemen and Somalia) are members of Al Qaeda or the Taliban. That’s frequently not the case.

                • No, it doesn’t. It assumes that the strike was launched against al Qaeda and the Taliban, and that the Pakistanis were killed as a result of a strike in that war.

                  Like the thousands of French people who were killed by American bombers in 1944.

                  They are innocent casualties who got caught in a war.

          • Ed says:

            Or, you know, actually fits the evidence. But why bother with evidence, when there’s a narrative you want to push?

            You’d know best about that, I expect.

  11. Wannabe Speechwriter says:

    What evidence do we have either the US or Israel is doing this? I wouldn’t find it hard to believe either of these nations committed these assassinations. However, the burden of proof is on the accuser. I though a lawyer like Greenwald would know this…

    • mark f says:

      What evidence do we have either the US or Israel is doing this?

      Don’t be silly. If something bad happens somewhere in the world, it can only be because the US evilly brought it about. Unless the US merely evilly failed to prevent it.

    • Israel has a history of assassinating scientists and technicians who are helping hostile Middle Eastern governments acquire weapons technology that Israel considers a threat.

      Evidence of US involvement? Nada.

      • Wannabe Speechwriter says:

        One thing that should be mentioned-Greenwald is bringing up the possibility the US is engaging in acts of terrorism and his biggest concern is…a bunch of liberal bloggers must be ideologically consistent. Why haven’t the nice men in white coats paid him a visit yet?

        • LJM says:

          He frequently blogs about the assassinations, but simply points out here the consistent hypocrisy of Obama supporters. Suggesting he cares more about the hypocrisy than the crimes of the U.S. is either willfully ignorant or dishonest.

          • Bijan Parsia says:

            Can we have a reasonable succinct, neutrally stated account of the consistent hypocrisy of Obama supporters. E.g., who they are and what demonstrates their hypocrisy?

            I’d be happy for a simple list of prominent pro-Obama bloggers who have clearly flipped on a series of issues. Ideally a pair of posts from the Bush and the Obama eras about the same basic event but with the Bush one condemning Bush and the Obama one praising Obama. That’s the gold standard, right?

            We can loosen this in a variety of ways, but the looser we get the more tenuous the conclusion we can draw. For example, I don’t think that if Scott never wrote about the Iranian scientist assassination it would be dispositive that he was such a hypocrite. A simple examination of all the criticism he has written refutes that.

            If you substitute “claims” for “points out” then you are closer to truth, afaict.

        • My theory is that Glenn Greenwald is engaged in a Chomskyist project of media critique.

          Noam Chomsky writes about what he sees as biases, or rather certain propaganda functions of media. I see Greenwald as engaged in a counter-propaganda project. His long term goal is to illuminate this negative elements of media discourse, and does so by relentlessly focusing on and critiquing said aspects of media.

  12. Earnest says:

    Democrat good, Republican bad — what’s so fucking hard to understand about that? It’s a simple formula that allows us to condemn what they do and ignore what we do. You’re either for the team or against the team, so you’d better learn to like targeted killings, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretaps, and all that other fiercely immoral stuff we used to be against.

  13. JupiterPluvius says:

    I absolutely condemn the murder of Iranian scientists, whoever is doing it. If it’s the US government, the Israeli government, the Iranian government, some US/UK/Israeli coalition, the Saudis, the Jordanians, whoever. Murdering scientists is A Bad Thing.

    And after we have all agreed on that, what else are we going to say about it? I mean, really, what is there to say until we know what’s going on and who’s responsible?

    • JupiterPluvius says:

      I just find the moral “You’re not outraged ENOUGH about this one specific thing!” scolding to be odd. There is lots of hideous shit going on all over the world. The US is involved in a lot of it. The US is not involved in a lot of it. Everyone who is not an idiot (which excludes the GOP clowncar) knows this.

    • Patrick Meighan says:

      “I absolutely condemn the murder of Iranian scientists, whoever is doing it. If it’s the US government, the Israeli government, the Iranian government, some US/UK/Israeli coalition, the Saudis, the Jordanians, whoever. Murdering scientists is A Bad Thing.

      And after we have all agreed on that, what else are we going to say about it?”

      We are going to say this:

      1) If any nation other than our own is found to be engaged in the above, that nation is guilty of state-sponsored terror and we demand that the current US administration immediately halt our support support of said nation (financial, military, diplomatic, etc.). If our current US administration refuses to do so, we find our current president to be complicit in acts of terror and we vow to withhold our votes and/or our political support from that president and his re-election efforts.

      2) If our own is found to be engaged in the above, then we find our current president to be guilty of acts of terror and we vow to withhold our votes and/or our political support from that president and his re-election efforts.

      That’s what else we are going to say about it. At least I’m going to say that. And I just have. Do you join me?

      Patrick Meighan
      Culver City, CA

      • If “terror” means everything, then it means nothing.

        There are other bad things in the world besides terrorism. Its definition has already been unwisely stretched beyond its actual reason, by people with a political agenda.

        The Israeli assassination of Iran scientists – which is almost sure what is happening – is not terrorism. You’re just using the word to mean “bad stuff.”

        • Patrick Meighan says:

          “The Israeli assassination of Iran scientists – which is almost sure what is happening – is not terrorism.”

          a) When Glenn Reynolds publicly advocated for exactly this action 5 years ago and liberal bloggers like Kevin Drum responded by calling Reynold’s suggested act a form of “terrorism”, that must’ve made you so angry, ’cause of how you strenuously disagree with the notion that such an act would amount to terrorism. Won’t you now please, Joe, direct me to one of your many dissenting comments from 2007 in which you told Kevin Drum (or any other liberal blogger) that heeding Glenn Reynolds’s advice would, in no way, amount to terrorism?

          b) If you find “war crime” to be a more palatable phrase in this context (I note that our bloghost used that specific phrase, in 2007, to describe the assassination of Iranian scientists as suggested by Glenn Reynolds), then please find/replace that phrase in my upthread response to JupiterPluvius’s question.

          Patrick Meighan
          Culver City, CA

          • a) I don’t read Kevin Drum or Glenn Reynolds. Today is the first time I learned that Reynolds had ever written such a thing. Except for that little detail, awesome argument. You totally got me.

            b) If you find “war crime” to be a more palatable phrase in this context

            I don’t. What’s wrong with “crime?” “Assassination?” “Murder?” “Targeted killing?” “State killing?” “State-sponsored assassination?”

            Why does everything need to be a “war crime” or “terrorism” among hyperventilating left-wingers on the internet? There are other bad things in the world besides war crimes and terrorism.

            Some of us actually care about war crimes and terrorism in and of themselves, and we don’t like it very much when people like you use the terms as punctuation, indicating SOMETHING VERY BAD.

            • Patrick Meighan says:

              “b) If you find “war crime” to be a more palatable phrase in this context”

              I don’t. What’s wrong with “crime?” “Assassination?” “Murder?” “Targeted killing?” “State killing?” “State-sponsored assassination?

              Oh, then when our current bloghost, Paul Campos, called it a “war crime” (in 2007, when Reynolds suggested it), you must’ve been just *livid*!

              Can you please direct me one of your comments from 2007, telling our bloghost just how off-base he was?

              TIA,

              Patrick Meighan
              Culver City, CA

              • Oh, then when our current bloghost, Paul Campos, called it a “war crime” (in 2007, when Reynolds suggested it), you must’ve been just *livid*!

                I started reading this blog towards the end of 2010. In 2007, I was a regular at Reason’s Hit & Run blog.

                You can stop it with this nonsense now.

  14. bobbyp says:

    What evidence do we have either the US or Israel is doing this?

    We went to war based on flimsy (I use the term loosely) evidence about nuclear tippped balsa wood drones that were only 45 minutes from Indianapolis.

    Evidence, you ask? You might try asking that of those who demand war with Iran.

    But then, the bar is pretty low, and that’s the real tragedy.

    • Richard says:

      I think there is good evidence that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons (despite their denials). Does that justify the US bombing it or invading it? For a variety of reasons, no. (I can better understand Israel’s desire to bomb Iran but think it would be a huge mistake to do so and would not lead, in the long run, to Israel’s increased security).

      Is there evidence that the US is killing Iranian scientists? From what I have seen so far, no. This looks to be Mossad activities since it is consistent with the type of actions it has taken in the past and since I can’t come up with any other scenario to explain the attacks (but I’m a little surprised that the Mossad has such good intelligence and the ability to operate with what appears to be ease within Iran – five successful attacks and no Israeli agents arrested). However the lack of current evidence (and the US denial) is not conclusive. Without any evidence so far to link the attacks to the US, I don’t see the point in Greenwald getting every commentator to condemn the hypothetical US involvement in the attacks.

      • John F says:

        (but I’m a little surprised that the Mossad has such good intelligence and the ability to operate with what appears to be ease within Iran

        Iran is not as homogeneous as many think and the government there is deeply unpopular with certain segments of the populace, plus money talks.

        What is surprising is that the Iranians haven’t at least arrested a few poor slobs and made them confess to working for Mossad- a couple Middle Eastern countries do that trick every now and then just to show the masses that those in power are serious about that Zionist threat- and that the Zionist threat is real.

        Or perhaps in this case, since the Mossad threat really IS real, the Gov’t in Iran is too spooked right now to do that

        • Richard says:

          “Iran is not as homogeneous as many think and the government there is deeply unpopular with certain segments of the populace, plus money talks”.

          I agree with that but these are five attacks over two years with detailed information. The Mossad would have gotten the information from Iranian sources but the attacks themselves would have to be carried out by Mossad agents and that would be quite some operation. I’m surprised it would have gone down so smoothly.

          • John F says:

            but the attacks themselves would have to be carried out by Mossad agents

            Not necessarily. Are there any organized crime type syndicates operating in Iran?

            • Richard says:

              I’m very confident that the Mossad does not farm out operations of this sort. And I can’t come up with any rationale why organized crime syndicates would be interested in killing off nuclear scientists. I guess its possible that Iranian opponents of the regime would target nuclear scientists and then would hire assasins who could carry this out but this seems extremely unlikely to me

  15. Gt0 says:

    “The answer is uncomfortable. I didn’t follow this story because, at bottom, this story puts “my team” in a bad light.”

    Much respect for your honesty! We all have the tendency to fall into the small minded partisan mentality. I’ve done it many times and try not to. Its encouraging to hear you admit the same thing.

  16. bobbyp says:

    Evidence of US involvement?

    If they have nothing to hide, then why don’t they fess up? Oh, wait, we only put those kinds of questions to Amadadgagrimydad and his salamofaggot mulluts.

    Guilt by association (especially when you’re the benefactor the tune of billions and provide unquestioning diplomatic cover)is unfair I know.

    But this is war, and the bar is low.

  17. Hey, I know this game!

    Why don’t Muslims denounce terrorism liberal bloggers denounce assassinating foreign scientists?

    Uh, they do, here and here and here and here.

    Well, OK, but why don’t they do it more?

  18. mds says:

    You know, if nothing else, I would hope that the United States would at least use some common sense when engaging in illegal assassinations. Relations with Iran are even touchier than usual right now. The Straits of Hormuz are getting a bit uncomfortable, there’s the European move to cut off Iranian oil, there’s the American who’s just been condemned to death by an Iranian court … whereupon the shadowy US intelligence apparatus pulls the trigger on another Iranian scientist? Got any kerosene to go with that roaring fire, guys? I mean, Lord knows the shadowy US intelligence apparatus has a long history in covering itself in stupidity rather than glory, but still. On the other hand, doing obnoxious illegal shit that the US both takes at least part of the blame for and gets stuck doing the clean-up is pretty much the definition of Israeli government policy.

  19. mark f says:

    Hey, it looks like the other Glenn (Reynolds) got Greenwald’s point:

    GLENN GREENWALD NOTICES THAT BARACK OBAMA IS MY PUPPET [. . .] And yet the “progressives” who were so upset by my blogging seem oddly uninterested in launching similar condemnations regarding Obama’s actual killing [. . .] A cynic would conclude that all that moralizing “antiwar” talk back in the Bush era was just partisan twaddle or something.

    Italics Insty’s.

    • Perhaps the difference is that Insty’s blogging is known to exist, while there has yet to be even a ghost of a whiff of evidence that Obama is involved in these assassinations.

      Seriously, when did wingnut bloggers’ evidence-free conspiracy theories about Democratic Presidents suddenly become so credible to people on the left?

      • mark f says:

        My intent in posting that was to criticize Greenwald’s post and his weak defense of himself here.

        As a side note, while I don’t want to go back and check, I’ve got $5 on there being a multitude of posts at Instapundit criticizing Obama and his supporters for using the “Obama killed” construction as relates to the death of bin Laden. I’m not sure why I would think the highly principled Glenn Reynolds would engage in “partisan twaddle”; call me a cynic, I guess.

  20. All of those years of arguing with libertarians at Reason’s blog taught me some things about the non-partisan, above-it-all, pox-on-both-houses crowd.

    Whether we’re talking about media villagers, libertarians, progressive purists, or Glenn Greenwald (a combination of all three), they consistently demonstrate two intellectual flaws:

    1. In order to maintain the illusion that there really isn’t an enormous moral distinction between Democrats and Republicans, they are compelled to soft-peddle the sins of the worst, and exaggerate those of the better. There is no clearer example of this than Greenwald’s description of the thought process of Democrats who favor Barack Obama to Ron Paul. The dry, neutral language about Paul, the over-the-top wailing about Obama.

    2. They are incredibly subject to confirmation bias about their view of partisan politics, far more than either Democrats or Republicans. Actual partisans are at least aware on a theoretical level of the possibility that they could be mislead into giving unwarranted credence to an argument because it tends to support their pre-existing view, so it’s possible for them to keep an eye out for it, to engage in some meta-cognition. Adherents of the narrative of partisan equivalence, on the other hand, believe that their pre-existing view is, itself, a shield against confirmation bias. If an argument tends to support their narrative about partisan politics (that both sides are just the same, and that people who argue that there is a difference are blinded), they take the very fact that their narrative is being confirmed as evidence that they aren’t falling victim to bias.

    • Patrick Meighan says:

      I love it when you explain what’s going on inside the brains of people other than yourself whom you’ve never met. No one else in the world has a magic brain-reading machine, but you do, and so we’re all pretty lucky that you’re willing to share the results of that magic machine with us.

      Patrick Meighan
      Culver City, CA

      • Never met?

        Did you miss the part where I said I’d been arguing politics with these people for years?

        Um, yeah, you actually do gain some insight into people’s thought process through years of experience discussing ideas with them. Why, you even gain the ability to recognize that thought process when you see it.

        Crazy, I know!

        • Hogan says:

          You have to admit, joe, you were a bit out of line when you said Glenn doesn’t love his mother and has a deep-seated fear of spiders.

        • Patrick Meighan says:

          C’mon Joe, the only way to know the inner thought processes of people whom you’ve never met is with a magic machine. Sadly I lack such a device, so I’m forced to agree or disagree with the words that people actually write, usually with counter-arguments based on the actual evidence (including citations, when available). How boring, and how much lamer than simply firing up the NogginDigger5000 and using it to make unequivocal declarations about the inner compulsions of strangers!

          Congrats on your awesome piece of technology! I’m super-envious!!!

          Patrick Meighan
          Culver City, CA

          • C’mon Joe, the only way to know the inner thought processes of people whom you’ve never met is with a magic machine.

            Is this meant to be a parody of your earlier comment?

            Because that’s how it reads.

            You aren’t actually serious, are you?

          • Assuming you are serious, you must despise Glenn (Progressives only attack Ron Paul’s politics because he holds up a mirror) Greenwald.

            But, being a generous sort, I’m inclined to think you were making a little joke. Nobody could really be this stupid.

    • BKP says:

      So much bullshit here. The irony is thick.

      1. In order to maintain the illusion that there really isn’t an enormous moral distinction between Democrats and Republicans, they are compelled to soft-peddle the sins of the worst, and exaggerate those of the better. There is no clearer example of this than Greenwald’s description of the thought process of Democrats who favor Barack Obama to Ron Paul. The dry, neutral language about Paul, the over-the-top wailing about Obama.

      Yes, considering the political trends of the last decade that Obama is continuing, 20 year old racist newsletters, crankish libertarianism, and extremely sketchy political connections are the sins of the worst.

      Its notable how you fail to reference all of the very similar “over-the-top wailing” of Greenwald and other “pox-on-both-house types” that Obama gladly rode to the White House.

      They are incredibly subject to confirmation bias about their view of partisan politics, far more than either Democrats or Republicans. Actual partisans are at least aware on a theoretical level of the possibility that they could be mislead into giving unwarranted credence to an argument because it tends to support their pre-existing view, so it’s possible for them to keep an eye out for it, to engage in some meta-cognition. Adherents of the narrative of partisan equivalence, on the other hand, believe that their pre-existing view is, itself, a shield against confirmation bias. If an argument tends to support their narrative about partisan politics (that both sides are just the same, and that people who argue that there is a difference are blinded), they take the very fact that their narrative is being confirmed as evidence that they aren’t falling victim to bias.

      Joe also drives drunk a lot, but its ok, he’s aware that his intoxication might make him a bad driver at times. At least he isn’t one of those unaware sober drivers. Their sobriety only reinforces their belief that they are safe to drive.

  21. kabosh says:

    One thing is certain: any opportunity to attack Greenwald for his style, for his tone, for being unfair, for being uncivil, for “intellectual dishonesty,” for privilege, for whiteness, or for anything at all that doesn’t involve debating the substance of his arguments, will be quickly and firmly seized, and never let go. The so-called left hates to take an honest look at itself as much as the right does; why not just call him “shrill” and have done with it? At least Paul Campos has the integrity, and self-reflective capacity, that so many commenters here lack.

  22. MikeF says:

    An absolutely key premise – one that Greenwald plainly asserts in his post – is that the U.S. is involved in the assassinations of Iranian scientists. The only evidence that he provides of this is a link to a former U.S. intelligence official saying that the Israelis are assumed to be behind the attacks (assumed because they wouldn’t confirm the fact). This strikes me as a really weak platform from which to launch a passive-aggressive “I never believed you were an intellectually corrupt partisan but just wanted to check and make sure since you were acting like one” jabs when the original issue was a hypothetical U.S. assassination campaign.

  23. Dr Rick says:

    Greenwald’s commentary often forces us to confront tribalistic double-standards. To his great credit, Campos understands and acknowledges this, but others just get really upset.

    • Marc says:

      Greenwald’s defenders appear incapable of actually addressing criticisms of his words and deeds, preferring to make ad hominum attacks that evade the issues at hand.

  24. timb says:

    I skipped over many of the fascinating comments here to ask why we are beating the hell out of GG, when we should be beating the hell out of that colossal asshole Glen Reynolds.

  25. timb says:

    I skipped ahead somewhat, but is anyone focusing on the real asshole here: Glenn Reynolds, who lauds American, or more likely Israeli, terrorism/murder in a foreign country and who has gotten his wish.

    We need to be harping about this, not because GG is easy to smack around and get a rise out of, but because Congress needs to be investigating whether there is American role in this. If there is, this is a violation of the laws of the United states and someone needs to fry

    • Wannabe Speechwriter says:

      We are beating around Greenwald because his post didn’t call for an investigation of US Intelligences Services or any calls to look into the matter. It was trying to accuse Scott and Paul of hypocrisy. If he thinks the biggest thing about the US assassinating foreign scientists is the ideological inconsistencies of some liberal bloggers, my “nice men in white coats” comment is pretty accurate…

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        It was just Scott (and Lindsey and Drum) but not Paul!

        But Paul thinks Greenwald was…wrong about him? I’m confused!!

        More seriously Paul, do you defend Greenwald’s “leading question” “call out”?

        (I’m really not sure why you went here. Yes, people might find it harder to be relentless about their own team (even without it being hypocritical — it just might be more tiring; having to face your disappointment can be draining). But that just calls for a champion of the issue.)

      • timb says:

        Right. So who the fuck cares what he did? Now that the attention is being directed toward the assassinations, let’s do something. After all, we all the scene in Life of Brian when the Judean People’s Front screams “splitters” at the peoples Front of Judea, but I’m not sure how it advanced the cause.

        let’s agree Glenn is abrasive and start writin’ some posts and moving some comment sections toward a Senate investigation

        • Prior to the United States Senate convening an investigation, might it be wise for there first to be, say, the slightest shred of evidence to support the charge being investigated?

          • timb says:

            Yeah, maybe we should just ask the Executive Branch if they are committing crimes. I’m sure they will tell us.

            I imagine they won’t even tell under threat of subpoena and then under actual subpoena.

            Best part will be watching defending the Executive from any investigation

    • Hogan says:

      Wait, you mean our Congress?

  26. Jesse Levine says:

    Glenn is both a good litigator and chess player. Now that he has gotten liberal bloggers to condemn very bad actions that might have taken place under Obama, there is no excuse for them not to condemn the very bad things that Obama has actually done.

    This is more than an intramural spat. There should be a price for liberal supportof Obama, and the price should be at least the promise to undo some very bad policies that will be tools for misuse by right wing authoritarian presidents in the future. These are not side issues or distractions; terorist acts will always be with us, and our response to those threats will define our society. Ten years of rule by fear is enough.

    • There should be a price for liberal supportof Obama, and the price should be at least the promise to undo some very bad policies that will be tools for misuse by right wing authoritarian presidents in the future.

      You mean like ending the Iraq War, the occupation, and the presence of American forces? Done.

      You mean like ending enhanced interrogation? Done.

      You mean like ending the practice of putting terrorism suspects into military detention? Done.

      It’s bizarre to me that people who purport to be strongly opposed to these things insist that there is nothing Obama has done to oppose them. If you care about military detention, then the very first thing you should say about Obama is that he stopped the Bush-era practice of putting people into military detention. If you care about torture, the very first thing you should say about Obama is that he stopped the Bush-era practice of torturing people. If you care about the Iraq War, the very first thing you should say about Obama is that he pulled the troops out of Iraq.

      And yet, the actual reality of what is and is not happening to people because of Barack Obama’s actions is overlooked, while concerns about some vague threat of someone else undoing Obama’s actions – a threat that might or might not ever come to pass – is supposed to define him on these issues. I don’t get it.

      • timb says:

        as predictable as the chiming of the clock at the turn of the hour

        • Yes, I wrote something consistent with my beliefs. How predictable.

          Was this meant to be some kind of put-down?

          “This just in: blog commenter writes blog comment expressing his thoughts! Don’t touch that dial!”

          • timb says:

            uh, yeah, you reflexively defending the Obama administration like Ace of Spades defended Bush c. 2005 is what I meant.

            You are our OFA.

            Oh, and Joe, prior to going high dudgeon, Obama has done quite a few things I find disgusting, but I’ll be voting for him come November. won’t be working for the campaign or donating, but….what the hell, I expected him to follow through on his tepid promises in the direction of Civil Liberties. He has not. Those are called “my beliefs.”

      • kabosh says:

        I think maybe he means something more along the lines of “signing the NDAA (done!),” or “killing innocent civilians with drones (done!),” or “murdering U.S. citizens without trial (done!),” or “only getting the troops out of Iraq when forced to because the Iraqi government refused to immunize U.S. forces from criminal charges,” or “trying to wiretap the internet, just like China!” or “continuing to support dictatorial regimes that torture and murder their citizenry,” or “trying to move Guantanamo to the U.S. while continuing to keep all its prisoners indefinitely detained without charge,” or “immunizing telecoms for wiretapping,” or “refusing to pursue any investigation of torture by U.S. forces, or of orders to torture by U.S. authorities,” or “deciding to continue the practice of extraordinary rendition,” or… well, there are many more “ors” out there for you to ignore, but maybe instead of “done” you should just say “mission accomplished!”

        • And this is what we call “moving the goal posts.”

          The statement to which I was responding was, “here should be a price for liberal supportof Obama, and the price should be at least the promise to undo some very bad policies that will be tools for misuse by right wing authoritarian presidents in the future.”

          I then listed a rather impressive set of “prices” that liberals have gotten.

          At which point you replied with the same tedious litany of things you don’t like (chock full of flat-out bullshit).

          Because “a price” must obviously be “every single things I want, and a pony,” because pwogwessive internet whiners like you don’t actually think it terms of progress and accomplishment, but just look for excuses to do the only thing you’re capable of – bitch bitch bitch.

          • kabosh says:

            You are correct, I listed things I don’t like. I think they’re things most progressives should also not like; and, I think many of them are things that President Obama promised not to do, or promised to do the opposite of. I think they may be the things Jesse was talking about, although I can’t speak for him, and I think that they’re a lot of the things that many leftists were vocally opposed to under Bush, but in many cases are less vocally opposed to, or are silent on, now. And, I think many of those actions should be undone, although whether any of that is dispositive in terms of whether or not someone chooses to support Obama depends on each voter’s independent calculation (a decision I still wrestle with myself). If listing those issues is moving the goal posts, then I think they needed to be moved. And if bitching about the issues one cares about is wrong, then none of us on this comment thread are right.

            • If listing those issues is moving the goal posts, then I think they needed to be moved.

              Well, sweet cheeks, what you did was interrupt somebody else’s conversation, which wasn’t about how you think the world should be, and give me a ration of shit for responding to the comment I replied to instead of to your feelings.

              Bad form.

      • LJM says:

        That’s dishonest, Joe. Obama didn’t end the war. He fought to keep it going. He protects people who created the torture program while prosecuting whistleblowers at unprecedented rates. He supports indefinite detention for terror suspects. Are you kidding me?

        Accomplishments? Oh, yeah!

        http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/rawagallery.php?mghash=a69ba84843a6c778938bd59b65a08f63&mggal=6

        • Obama didn’t end the war. He fought to keep it going.

          Oh, Christ, this again. “Obama spent all that time saying he would do something, and then he did it, but he didn’t actually want to do it. He just got lucky.” DADT repeal, Iraq withdrawal, debt ceiling deal with no entitlement cuts – I swear, it’s pathological with you people.

          He supports indefinite detention for terror suspects.

          Uh, yeah, you can tell because he’s never put any into indefinite detention, fought with and beat Congress when they tried to force him, and stated throughout that he wouldn’t do it. Lemme guess – he just got lucky again.

          You people are pathological.

        • timb says:

          My favorite part about Joe’s reply is the “intention vs result” dichotomy. He phrases the result of getting out of Iraq as the President’s intention, when it most surely was not. Up until a week prior to announcing the withdrawal, the administration was quibbling over immunity for the sizable contingent of US forces they wanted to remain. When that fell through, they realized they had no other choice but to withdraw remaining forces.

          Joe calls slinking out and declaring victory to be an actual victory, when the President had no intention of withdrawing everyone.

          He’s a good guy, our Joe, and I would want him on my side in any litigation, but I doubt I would expect an objective view from him

  27. Jesse Levine says:

    Indefinite detention, assassination without due process of American citizens, Bradley Manning torture, invocation of State Secrets doctrine to prevent access to Courts; secret interpretation of laws, indiscriminate use of drones. Just afew things to work on.

  28. Chatham says:

    It’s funny to read complaints about Greenwald’s tone or acting like he’s better than other people. His tone is far less condescending than the one people on the left often use to describe the right. You’re not upset that he’s writing critically about other bloggers – you’re upset that he’s doing this to bloggers on the left.

    • Wannabe Speechwriter says:

      If there is one thing poising our debate it’s this constant desire to accuse the other side of being hypocritical. Quite often the charge is fair. However, also just as often, you’re not actually debating the issue at hand-you’re debating about the character of the people making the debate.

      The best example is the “moral values” issue. If a prominent conservative who opposes gay rights is found in a secret gay love affair, it rightly destroys his credibility. However, just because you prove he’s a hypocrite doesn’t mean you also prove gay people should have the right to marry. Pointing the hypocrisy of others is fun and all but it rarely helps advance your argument.

      If it turns out that the US ordered this hit and Scott and other liberal bloggers defend it, so what? That doesn’t advance the argument that the US should not be engaged in this sort of activity. All you’d have to say is they were wrong to condemn right-wingers calling for this sort of activity.

      If GG wants to have a discussion about US foreign policy, let’s have it. However, if all he wants to do is score some petty points proving some people who make words appear online aren’t consistent, we shouldn’t give his arguments any respect…

      • Chatham says:

        “If it turns out that the US ordered this hit and Scott and other liberal bloggers defend it, so what? That doesn’t advance the argument that the US should not be engaged in this sort of activity. ”

        No, but it does call into question what we are doing here. If this is merely an echo chamber, if we are filtering things in such a way that we are more focused on a blogger suggesting an action than on that action actually happening, I think that speaks volumes. It’s possible that most political blogs will provide value information occasionally, but for the most part be empty of substance and information.

        If that’s true, it’s fine to visit them, but important to not think of them as anything more substantial than watching a football match.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          Look at Rob’s two recent posts on Iran.

          They aren’t directly on the assassinations, but they are interesting, thoughtful, and relevant.

          By the way, if the hit was ordered by the US and Scott defends it, it would depend on the content of the defense. If it were loathsome, they I would loath it. Rob defends the Afghanistan war and its legality, I’m colder to that, but his defense is the most interesting and challenging one I’ve read.

        • Wannabe Speechwriter says:

          “We” are here because “we” like to follow politics. “We” like the commentary that Scott, Erik, Robert, Paul, David, and others give on this site. Now, if “we” don’t like this commentary, “we” can go to other sites. No one is forcing us to be here and no one is forcing GG to respect the opinion of Scott and others. If he doesn’t want to respect us, that’s fine. It’s his right. He can write out the names of people he doesn’t like at the bottom of his toilet so every time he uses it, he’s defacing their names.

          However, his obsession with proving liberal are hypocrites is why I don’t read his site regularly anymore. He trolls around the blogs and finds random Kos posts and some comments in a few blogs showing there are people who hero-worship our President. Should these people hero-worship the President-no. Does their hero-worship affect our political system-no. What he hopes to prove by this, I’ve never figured out.

          If he wants to go after the administration in areas where they’ve failed, More Power To Him! If he wants to preemptively prove Scott and others may turn out to be hypocrites on the issue of assassination, I say we give those nice men in white coats a call…

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      It’s funny to read complaints about Greenwald’s tone or acting like he’s better than other people.

      Evidence is nice…please code the comments (or sufficiently large random sample) of the last several Greenwald threads to show that this is a common critical theme.

      In the Paul thread, I was upset that he neglected the many excellent reasons for antiwar/etc. progressives to oppose Paul both substantially and strategically. In this thread I was “upset” by his nasty insinuations both because the targets are generally good people, I find that sort of double bind trope repellent, and it minorly deflects us from the important topic at hand.

      It is also annoying that someone with a prominent platform is using it counterproductively. Not all the time, of course, and I’ve appreciated and sometimes defended his writing. My impression is that it’s getting worse or perhaps I’m just losing patience with it or that my attention has been drawn.

      • Chatham says:

        See below.

        “He simply assumes that anyone who disagrees with him is not doing so, and instead of dealing with their arguments, engaged in cockfighting.”
        “Paul Krugman, you might notice, doesn’t have a habit of leading off his posts with long howls about the moral depravity of those jackals who will, no doubt, disagree with him.”
        “And yet, no matter how many times this happens, Glenn Greenwald keeps writing every post in a manner guaranteed to ensure that the discussion will not focus on his (purported) subject.”
        “Pretty much–has Greenwald considered that his tendency to be a hectoring, intellectually dishonest douchebag is making it more difficult for these issues to get attention because people will stop reading him?”
        “If he was less of a belligerent and dishonest asshole I might actually take his writing seriously.”
        “He lies about having doubt because being holier-than-thou is his primary calling in life.”
        “He’s constructed this little world where he’s Jesus and everyone else are sinners who can only be redeemed by coming to Him, and he’s incapable of thinking or writing outside of that frame of reference.”
        “He could have written Scott and Lindsey and asked for a comment on the record. But, it seems that Greenwald sucks, so that wasn’t an option.”
        “His grandstanding about what Scott and Lindsay might say was silly, unfair, and, at best, an enormous waste of time of everyone’s time.”

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          You didn’t code them, so I presume you meant all of these to be “complaints about Greenwald’s tone or acting like he’s better than other people”. These are fragments of comments, yes? Before I read them, let me point out that a more useful coding would be of the whole comment and whether it is solely (S), primarily (P), substantially (B), minorly (M), in no way (N) a complaint about Greenwald’s tone (T) or acting like he’s better (ALHB). I say this because my understanding of your claim is that T and ALHB complaints constitute the sole or significant part of the comments. I mean, someone who writes a long substantive complaint and then ends with, “And his a pompas twit” wouldn’t support the thesis that the writer is merely concerned about being a target, yes?

          But given these limitations, let’s look:

          “He simply assumes that anyone who disagrees with him is not doing so, and instead of dealing with their arguments, engaged in cockfighting.”

          N-T (i.e not at all about tone) and N-ALHB (not at all about acting like he’s better).

          Note: Why did I code it this way? Well, there claim that he assumes that anyone who disagrees with hi is not doing so is clearly not about tone or ALHB, it’s about a systematic error in assumption. Similarly, the complaint about arguments is a complaint about his failure to engage, which is not tonal (i.e., it’s “you failed to answer the question”). Engaging in cockfighting could be tonal, I guess, so I might agree to M-T, but I think the complaint is that he replaces engaging in the argument with cockfighting, not that the cockfighting or belligerence inherent in cockfighting is a problem per se.

          1) ““Paul Krugman, you might notice, doesn’t have a habit of leading off his posts with long howls about the moral depravity of those jackals who will, no doubt, disagree with him.”

          P-T, N-ALHB

          Note: I’m conflicted about the P-T as I don’t think this is really a tonal complaint but a structural one, but I’m trying to bias toward your case. So complaints about rhetoric might be well coded as P-T.

          2) ““And yet, no matter how many times this happens, Glenn Greenwald keeps writing every post in a manner guaranteed to ensure that the discussion will not focus on his (purported) subject.”

          M-T (as before), N-ALHB.

          Note: This may not be about tone so much as substance. Afterall, insinuations about Scott is not a tonal problem: It’s a suggestion of fact; in this case, the fact is loathsome. Context would help.

          “3) “Pretty much–has Greenwald considered that his tendency to be a hectoring, intellectually dishonest douchebag is making it more difficult for these issues to get attention because people will stop reading him?”

          P-T, N-ALHB.

          Note: Again bias toward you. I think “intellectually dishonest” is substantive. But the complaint is about the “turn off” to readers, so it smells a bit tonal. I could accept B-T, but would want to see the whole comment.

          4) ““If he was less of a belligerent and dishonest asshole I might actually take his writing seriously.”

          B-T, N-ALHB.

          Note: Belligerent is tonal, dishonest is not. So I took it as 50-50, hence, substantively.

          5)““He lies about having doubt because being holier-than-thou is his primary calling in life.”

          N-T, B-ALHB.

          Note: The ALHB is an explanation of the complaint (lying about doubt).

          6) ““He’s constructed this little world where he’s Jesus and everyone else are sinners who can only be redeemed by coming to Him, and he’s incapable of thinking or writing outside of that frame of reference.”

          N-T, S-ALHB.

          Note: Seems clear cut.

          7) ““He could have written Scott and Lindsey and asked for a comment on the record. But, it seems that Greenwald sucks, so that wasn’t an option.”

          N-T, N-ALHB.

          Note: This was definitely me, but also it’s clearly neither tonal nor ALHB. I was pointing out that he could have gotten an answer to his question in a simpler, less problematic, way. That seems entirely substantive.

          8) ““His grandstanding about what Scott and Lindsay might say was silly, unfair, and, at best, an enormous waste of time of everyone’s time.”

          N-T, N-ALHB.

          Note: Same as 7.

          Since you clearly cherrypicked these (not in a negative sense, i.e., you didn’t do a truly random sample) we can’t draw any statistical generalization, but I will say that your failure to score well inside your cherrypick, incompletely quoted selection isn’t promising.

          Feel free to disagree with my coding. I tried to be very biased for your position, but obviously I’m in an intrinsically counter-biased situation.

          Fun!

          • Chatham says:

            Perhaps I should have said “style” instead of tone (still, feel free to disagree). For instance, you wouldn’t see people complaining about “grandstanding” if someone wrote a piece like his aimed at conservatives. And I doubt you’d suggest that a writer here should e-mail a conservative blogger before writing a post about them.

            The reason why I don’t take complaints like “he lies” or “he’s dishonest” seriously is because they are almost always accompanied by no evidence, and Greenwald has often been very honest in my experience, often posting or linking to people’s objections to his articles.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              Perhaps I should have said “style” instead of tone (still, feel free to disagree).

              I tried to interpret it as closer to “style”.

              For instance, you wouldn’t see people complaining about “grandstanding” if someone wrote a piece like his aimed at conservatives.

              ?? Actually, I don’t much care for people who grandstand. I probably wouldn’t complain if it were targeted toward conservatives because I wouldn’t see it. But if he had a shot a good criticism and grandstanded instead, I’d dislike that.

              And I doubt you’d suggest that a writer here should e-mail a conservative blogger before writing a post about them.

              I’m not sure what grounds I’ve given you to doubt that. Isn’t that a similarly ugly speculation about me? I mean, really, why on earth would you think that absence a bias to think I’m dishonest or a hypocrite?

              To be precise, Greenwald can write about anyone he likes. But if he speculates on motives in a way that’s entirely inconsistent with the public record and otherwise tendentious, then yes, I think it’s a minimal duty to check with the target of the smear, regardless of their political identity.

              The reason why I don’t take complaints like “he lies” or “he’s dishonest” seriously is because they are almost always accompanied by no evidence,

              Well there’s ample counterexamples in this thread, for example.

              You are not faring spectacularly well on the evidential front, I might observe.

              and Greenwald has often been very honest in my experience, often posting or linking to people’s objections to his articles.

              I don’t think Greenwald is dishonest in every respect even in these posts and exchanges and I wouldn’t venture a general statement. But c’mon! He denied that this questions were call outs (before he sneakily semi-admitted it). That’s not being perfectly or even seriously honest.

              People can be inconsistent in their behavior! Which is why I prefer to analyze particular events rather than infer from guesses about character. I think you can draw conclusions about character, but they should be conclusions at first, not assumptions.

              • Chatham says:

                “But if he had a shot a good criticism and grandstanded instead, I’d dislike that.”

                Grandstanding is in the eye of a beholder. Show a conservative friend some liberal blogs posting about conservatives, then show them what Greenwald said here, and see if they think Greenwald was doing anything worse.

                “I’m not sure what grounds I’ve given you to doubt that. Isn’t that a similarly ugly speculation about me? I mean, really, why on earth would you think that absence a bias to think I’m dishonest or a hypocrite?”

                Because I’ve seen hundreds of posts on political blogs criticizing another blogger, and thousands of comments, and I’ve never once heard someone say “you should have e-mailed them first”? Maybe you are the one person that does that, I don’t know. But go to any political blog, find a post criticizing another blogger, and see if any of the comments say they should have e-mailed the person.

                That’s my point – people aren’t upset because of what Greenwald is doing, they’re upset because of who the target is.

                “Well there’s ample counterexamples in this thread, for example.”

                Like…?

                “He denied that this questions were call outs (before he sneakily semi-admitted it).”

                Sorry, I’m not seeing the denial or the admission.

                “Which is why I prefer to analyze particular events rather than infer from guesses about character.”

                Agreed. That’s why I told you above that if Greenwald hadn’t been commenting on these assassination before, that would be a problem – not because of this post, but because he had earlier joined in the fray over the hypothetical bombing. But then Greenwald showed that he had commented before.

                I mean, at least your criticism there was based on what Greenwald said, even if you were mistaken about the facts. The same with your argument about his Ron Paul post – at least (from what I inferred, didn’t read it) the criticism was about the article itself. Mot of the comments (and blog posts) I saw about it actually lied.

                You can’t really have a conversation with comments like “he’s a douche”. And it should seem problematic that most of the comments seem to be that kind of substance free personal attack (again, feel free to disagree – I’m not in the mood to parse comments).

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Because I’ve seen hundreds of posts on political blogs criticizing another blogger, and thousands of comments, and I’ve never once heard someone say “you should have e-mailed them first”? Maybe you are the one person that does that, I don’t know. But go to any political blog, find a post criticizing another blogger, and see if any of the comments say they should have e-mailed the person.

                  You do note the specificity of the complaint? It’s not “Everyone should always contact the target of critique” but “before you sort people into those whose silence does not indicate hypocrisy and those who do without any evidence whatsoever from their recent record, a simple email might be a good idea”. Similarly, “if you object is to find out, then a simple email would do the job”.

                  I mean, at least your criticism there was based on what Greenwald said, even if you were mistaken about the facts.

                  It wasn’t a criticism, it was a genuine query after having attempted to find out directly. Note the tonal presumption that there were such links (“pointer?”).

                  The same with your argument about his Ron Paul post – at least (from what I inferred, didn’t read it) the criticism was about the article itself.

                  The core criticism was that there are ample and compelling reasons to oppose Paul beyond tribalism and partisanship. It was entirely a critique of the argument including the parts of the argument that were insinuated.

                  Again, you make claims without substantiation. But let’s put it aside…you could always ignore the problematic bits and focus on the substantive ones which, afaik, remain unanswered.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Sorry, I’m not seeing the denial or the admission.

                  In this thread:

                  I asked Scott what his view was now that it’s actually happening for one simple reason: I didn’t know what his view would be but wanted to know. That’s the purpose of a question. That’s why I used a question mark.

                  That’s “one simple reason” and it’s not a call out.

                  That’s why I asked – in order to say: what upset you so much when Glenn Reynolds proposed it is now actually happening and has been for some time: what do you have to say about it?

                  But I did not know what Scott would say in response to my question. I’m not surprised that he said he condemns it; really, given what he wrote before, how could he not?. I’m glad he said that. I wish more people would.

                  My goal was simple: to get more people to speak out against it. against it.

                  So it was a call out.

                  For counterexamples, well, I stand by my substantive comments including my first in this thread. You disagreed and called it silly but without taking note of e.g., my saliency point. Your comment was filled with psychological speculation that was pretty easily falsified (see Scott’s reply and his posting history over the past 3 months).

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              Chatham, fwiw, I think that you need to have a more substantial response. I code up your selection and your characterization just seems wrong. You can dispute the coding or claim it was a misleading selection or….you can reflect that perhaps you aren’t reading the thread correctly (among other things).

              Accusing me of failing to do what I have not yet had an opportunity to do is not responsive (to say the least). It is similar to what Greenwald did though.

              • Chatham says:

                Forgive me if I can’t be bothered to go through the comments section and debate the merits thoroughly. For your information, I didn’t cherry pick the quotes, I just grabbed a few I saw when you asked for them. If it makes you feel better, I concede the “complain about tone” comment. Most seem to be personal attacks without much logic or evidence, to me. If most seem like reasonably argued points that avoid personal attacks on Greenwald – well, I don’t think any amount of code or not will really get us anywhere.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  For your information, I didn’t cherry pick the quotes, I just grabbed a few I saw when you asked for them.

                  That’s what cherry picking is. Technically, you made a biased convenience sample.

                  Most seem to be personal attacks without much logic or evidence, to me. If most seem like reasonably argued points that avoid personal attacks on Greenwald – well, I don’t think any amount of code or not will really get us anywhere.

                  So you concede that you don’t want to mobilize evidence? I think that damages your accusations of evidence freedom. I’m at a loss to know what more I could do here.

                  You haven’t disputed my coding…that would have been a simple, low effort way to try to convince me. I tried to make my reasoning as transparent as possible.

                  I challenge you again: Look just at my comments if you’d like. Pick any 3. Or recode your example (but use the full comments).

                  Please don’t move the goalposts. There’s plenty of vehemence against Greenwald, though I would distinguish insults from personal attacks.

                  Obviously, there’s lots of snark and joking and venting: No one would dispute that. But engage the substance!

                  By the way, do you intend to retract or alter your doubt about me? Or, on what evidence do you hold that doubt?

                  Dude, if you want scrupulousness, but scrupulous.

                • Chatham says:

                  “You haven’t disputed my coding…”

                  No, you win. I mean, we agree that there were comments about tone and condescension. And I wrote that there were comments about tone and condescension. I think more, you think less. I can live with that.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Remember the point. You are going from tone to “You’re not upset that he’s writing critically about other bloggers – you’re upset that he’s doing this to bloggers on the left.”

                  No, people are upset that he’s smearing people by implication who, in fact, agree with his position. They happen to be on the left and people we like which obviously makes it more irritating. But a correct attack on something Scott did would not engender such a response (from me at least).

                  That’s part of what’s irritating about Paul’s post. Obviously I have no access to his internal state, but it’s hard to conclude from the public evidence that he’s been giving “his own side” a pass. Heck, he had a post about whether killing Osama was legal. He also, over the past 6 months, has been engaged in a substantial project (i.e., law school reform), which takes some energy, I would think. Then there’s the obvious difference in saliency between the events as I explained before. Etc. etc. etc.

                  I strongly suggest that you reflect on the degree your conclusions are driven by expectation rather than data.

          • I think you’re being way too generous to code a statement about the substantive content of Greenwald’s writing – Paul Krugman, you might notice, doesn’t have a habit of leading off his posts with long howls about the moral depravity of those jackals who will, no doubt, disagree with him – as being about “tone” at all.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              I agree that it’s not tone per se, though in implication it is. (“Howls,” for example, has a tonal implication.) So I’d be reluctant to go below M-T. But I waver.

              Also, I think this can be read as a style complaint and I though it was more charitable to read Chatham’s “tone” more broadly as “rhetoric”.

              Of course, that it doesn’t change the overall assessment.

            • LJM says:

              Journalist who writes about hypocrisy in politics and unjust government policies = moral jackal.

              World leader who blows up and burns alive women and children, imprisons suspects indefinitely, opposes gay marriage, prosecutes whistleblowers he promised to protect = accomplisher! 4 More Years!

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                You jape would be more effective if you hadn’t screwed the quote. The comment says that Greenwald calls other people moral jackels, right, not that Greenwald is a moral jackel.

              • Or if you had even a slight grasp on reality.

                imprisons suspects indefinitely

                Obama has not put a single suspect into indefinite detention.

                I can tell how deep your principles on this issue run, because you can’t be bothered to distinguish between putting people into indefinite detention and not.

  29. wengler says:

    It seems that academics should be standing up for other academics not being assassinated.

    They showed this guy’s car. If that’s the car and protection scheme devised for one of Iran’s top scientists in their clandestine nuclear weapons program, than they are in real trouble already.

    Logic tells us the western corporate media-backed story is full of shit. Your top nuclear scientists don’t have to balance evildoing with office hours.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      I teach Iranian students all the time. Some of them will become professors in Iran. None are nuclear scientists, but they will be computer scientists, so perhaps at some risk of assassinations. Surely they will be at risk in a general war, as would be relations of mine. I would very much like that they are not killed by anyone. I would also very much like non-academics, non-relatives not to be killed by anyone either.

      I’m at a loss what else to say and why it matters that I say it.

      If there are professional organizations that are issuing statements against this, I’d love to know so I can support them. Hmm. Perhaps BCS could be induced to stand up?

  30. Pitchfork says:

    The US may or may not be involved in the ongoing murder of Iranian scientists, but the government lies to us ALL THE TIME. Prudence requires assuming our government may have been involved and then giving them hell for it. Moreover, Rick Santorum is happy about dead Iranian scientists and Newt Gingrich has advocated doing something covert and with “total deniability” in order to stop the Iranians from having a nuclear energy program. Shouldn’t these killings be denounced, regardless of whether we know who did it or not? I’m just not outraged at the fact that GG assumes (or appears to assume) that the US was involved.

    Meanwhile, my conservative Catholic friends are debating whether waterboarding is torture or not (some claim to not really have an opinion either way).

    Kudos to Paul Campos for being different by being honest.

  31. Bart says:

    Hit a real nerve here for the wet ones.

  32. bystander says:

    Nice, Paul Campos. Your integrity is one of the reasons I tend to lurk over here. Your explanation as to how this “selective bias” works seems right on, to me. It’s a hazard anyone in a “tribe” is likely to share.

    Admittedly, I read Greenwald every damn day. Admittedly, I do so he can shove things under my nose that I’d prefer not to either see or smell, but it does keep me honest.

    Thanks for prompting this discussion. It’s good stuff.

  33. bobbyp says:

    Joe,

    Please expand on your claim that Obama took us out of Iraq when it seems all he did was proceed per the Status of Force Agreement negotiated by the Bush administration.

    Further, the evidence seems clear the administration was pressing diplomatically to keep more troops in Iraq than the Iraqi government wanted there and under terms that were not acceptable to the Iraqis.

    Thanks.

    • Marc says:

      Obama voted against the war, campaigned on getting us out of Iraq, and got us out of Iraq. In a sane world that would be sufficient to give him credit.

      There are, however, people who are deranged with hatred of the man, and who can’t give him any credit. These people will make up additional reasons why an obvious accomplishment doesn’t count.

      Guess where you fit?

      • Pitchfork says:

        Um, George Bush promised to get out of Iraq by 2011, not Barack Obama.

        Barack Obama promised that if we weren’t out of Iraq by Jan. 2009, getting out would be “the first thing I will do.” Instead, getting out of Iraq was the only option he had left after trying to renew an agreement for continued immunity for American soldiers. And let’s be clear, Obama didn’t “get us out of Iraq,” we were essentially kicked out. Obama did NOTHING to expedite our exit from Iraq and in fact did the opposite. This is all well documented and publicly known.

        But sure, if it makes you feel good to project mindless fantasies of hatred onto Obama’s critics, then go for it.

        • This is all well documented and publicly known.

          Let’s run this through the internet translator:

          Beep beep boop bop beep.

          “I read it on FDL, so it must be true.”

        • Marc says:

          Normal people would give credit to Obama for the things he did, and criticize him for the things he did not do.

          What you’re trying to do is to make up some reason why withdrawing from Iraq doesn’t count. And these reasons are, to put it bluntly, pathetic. “Some action, some time, during a long negotiation could be characterized as wanting to keep some troops for some extra time. Thus Obama didn’t want to leave Iraq and was forced to, thus it doesn’t count.”

          The fact that you can’t give him even that credit is indeed a sign that you’ve lost perspective on the man. Iraq is just an exceptionally clear case for seeing the pathology.

          • Just as certain people “burned their ships behind them” by declaring that the Iraq War would be a great advance for humanity, so have other people done so in their declaration that Obama would not leave Iraq.

            Not only did they express this opinion, they made it the centerpiece of their political thought. They used as the basis for drawing all sorts of other conclusions about him and about American politics. EG, “So what if Obama says X. He lied about getting out of Iraq.” For years, “End the Iraq War” led off the list of horribles that these people threw up to demonstrate his perfidy. (Right above “Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”)

            It’s difficult enough for people to admit that they were wrong about a discreet fact. For these people, admitting they were wrong about this discreet fact would require a complete reevaluation of their whole understanding of contemporary politics.

            So, they build a little narrative from a few scraps of information put together just so, and then tell each other how smart they’re being.

            “Obama only left Iraq because Malaki forced him” is the new “The mortgage meltdown was caused by the Community Reinvestment Act.”

            • Pitchfork says:

              While you may be concerned with what “certain people” may have said or claimed, I am concerned with the fact that Obama left Iraq 2.5 years LATER than promised. Voters were told that leaving Iraq would be “the first thing I will do. You can take that to the bank!” (I’m quoting from memory, here, but that’s pretty much what he said.)

              If the end of 2011 is good enough for you (it was good enough for Bush-Cheney), then that’s fine, but all rational people can recognize that Obama didn’t keep his promise to leave “first thing”, i.e. 2009.

              • mark f says:

                “Barack Obama will work with military commanders on the ground in Iraq and in consultation with the Iraqi government to end the war safely and responsibly within 16 months.”

                Sources:
                Obama campaign Web site

                [. . .]

                In February 2009, shortly after taking office, he set a deadline of August 31, 2010, and he’s making that goal.

                I remember when my cousin told me that Santa wasn’t real. I was really sad.

                • Pitchfork says:

                  I remember when my president (as a candidate) promised that he would bring the troops home from Iraq as soon as he took office. When he started walking back from that promise I was really sad, so when he actually broke that promise I wasn’t surprised.

          • Pitchfork says:

            Normal people can see plain facts without substituting verbal gymnastics. Moreover, I could not give a rat’s patootie about Obama “the man.” I wanted the darn war to end in 2009 — as promised.

            The fact is, Obama didn’t leave Iraq in 2009. What he did do, is to stick around for an extra 2.5 years and on top of that considered sticking around even longer.

            What’s “pathetic” about pointing this out?

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Um, George Bush promised to get out of Iraq by 2011, not Barack Obama.

          Yes, and that was very credible. I certainly cannot imagine a president McCain coming up with some kind of pretext to continue the Iraq war going despite this, no sireee.

          • …as demonstrated by his, and every non-Ron Paul Republican’s, furious denunciation of Barack Obama for getting out by 2011.

          • Pitchfork says:

            Your point is what, exactly? That Obama left Iraq in 2009 as promised? Because that is precisely what people have been angry about. Your petty infighting with your fellow progs and libs is really beside the point and doesn’t change the facts.

            • Hogan says:

              When did Obama promise to leave Iraq in 2009?

              • Pitchfork says:

                No one will see this most likely, but here ya go:

                ‘Yesterday, Obama struck back, declaring that Clinton “doesn’t have any standing to question my position on this issue.” And he added that, “I will bring this war to an end in 2009, so don’t be confused.”‘

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  LINK with typo corrected….

                  FWIW, I suspect that this is one of those ones where you have to look at both the constraints and the situation. It’s really a mistake to make an assertion like that because you really don’t know if you will be able to reasonably carry it out.

                  My impression of Obama is that he’s been very very very careful not to alienate the military from the beginning so that he wouldn’t get DADTed like Clinton. So, while I really hate that we’ve taken forever to get disentangled, I also recognize that it’s a big behemoth he’s dealing with and that the view from where he is is complicated.

                  So I did read it!

                • Pitchfork says:

                  Thanks for correcting the typo!

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  We commenters on dead threads must stick together.

      • A play in one act:

        Boy: We should breakup.

        Girl: Yeah, we should.

        Boy: OK then. (Starts packing bags).

        Girl: Well, couldn’t we just stay together until my sister’s wedding?

        Boy: Hmm…tell you what, if you add me to your checking account and give me your car, we can.

        Girl: Uh…there’s no way that’s going to happen.

        Boy: OK then. Bye.

        Pitchfork: See, I told you Boy didn’t want to break up. He’s just lucky Girl kicked him out.

        Fin

        • Pitchfork says:

          Um, hello? Boy Obama is leaving 2.5 years too late. He promised his wife he would leave “first thing” in 2009. But it’s 2012 and Boy Obama still has lots of his stuff lying around Girl’s apartment. But why should Wifey complain — he did leave his Girl didn’t he?

    • Please expand on your claim that Obama took us out of Iraq when it seems all he did was proceed per the Status of Force Agreement negotiated by the Bush administration.

      Tell me, how did the expiration of the tax cuts per the schedule negotiated by the Bush administration and Republican Congress work out? The word “all” is doing an awful lot of work in that sentence.

      Further, the evidence seems clear the administration was pressing diplomatically to keep more troops in Iraq than the Iraqi government wanted there and under terms that were not acceptable to the Iraqis.

      That is ridiculously implausible way to spin the administration’s poison-pill response to Malaki’s request to keep troops in the country. Tell me, does this “evidence” consist of anything other than spin you read on somebody’s blog?

  34. bobbyp says:

    Joe,

    Have all ‘black site’ renditions ceased? Didn’t Obama sign the recent NDAA? Are not prisoners in Guantanamo effectively under “indefinite detention”? Does it matter “who put them there”? Why doesn’t the fact that “they are still kept there” have any weight wrt your claim?

    Thanks.

    • 1. Apparently. The sites were ordered closed, and I’ve seen no evidence that they’re still being used. You’re welcome to provide some.

      2. Of course the President signed the bill that authorizes the existence of the military, as every President does every year. But only after staring down Congress and defeating their attempts to bring back the practice of putting terror suspects into indefinite military detention.

      3. Yes, contrary to the well-documented efforts of the administration.

      4. Of course it does. Are you an idiot?

      5. Because my claim is about Obama, who bears absolutely none of the responsibility for the situation, and in fact tried to remedy it.

      You’re welcome. Could I ask you to make things a bit more challenging next time?

  35. SEK says:

    This thread is far more entertaining if you consider the “Scott” under discussion to be me. Fails to make sense, of course, but it generates a host of more interesting questions.

  36. Ks says:

    Wow, such immaturity from folks who are supposed to help us make sense of the issues of our time. I think i’ll stick to reading Glenn Greenwald, if for nothing else because he seems to make you all so angry. Grow up, all of you.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      I appreciate the juxtaposition of a critique of immaturity coupled with a wonderfully immature rationale (“I read people because they make other people angry,” is a great reason to read someone; it is not, by standard metrics, a mature reason!).

  37. [...] are Terrorism. Meanwhile, Professor Campos, writing on the blog where Lemieux writes, tries to explain to Lemieux’s angry commenters what the point is of asking these questions and what the benefit is [...]

  38. [...] UPDATE III: Lemieux responds by saying: “If the United States was involved in the killings — and we should stress the ‘if’ here — the Obama administration’s actions were both illegal and immoral, for the same reasons stated in my earlier posts.” Similarly, Drum strongly implies that he believes the assassinations are Terrorism. Meanwhile, Professor Campos, writing on the blog where Lemieux writes, tries to explain to Lemieux’s angry commenters what the point is of asking these questions and what the benefit is of hearing denunciations not only when a right-wing blogger proposes it, but also when it’s done in reality (in comments, David Mizner attempted the same). [...]

  39. Johnson says:

    I was really impressed by this post, Campos. It shows the kind of introspection and self criticism that I’m sure we could all benefit from employing on a more consistent basis.

    Any chance we could get a Joe From Lowell filter installed here? I’m sure he’s a great guy, but he tends to dominate and derail the comment threads; and it really lowers their signal:noise ratio and makes them generally harder to sift for relevant content.

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