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Anti-left?

[ 211 ] December 13, 2012 |

What does it mean to be a leftist?

Let me start by saying that this is a pretty wankertastic question. Who cares, right? I think a discussion of the merits of various Ray Price albums would lead us closer to a more just society. It’d also be more fun. Also the answer is of course Night Life.

Anyway, you’ll have to indulge me here in a question with which I hate to engage. Nothing has served the left less than cleaving off those who weren’t “left” enough to increasingly ideologically pure and small organizations. I guess the Weather Underground was pretty left all right. And they were 50 people whose major accomplishment was blowing a few of themselves up making a bomb. Great.

But if we were going to define the left, at least in this country, I guess I’d say that it would revolve around something like people who were committed to the eradication of social, political, economic, gender, sexual, and environmental inequality both in the United States and around the world through the use of a variety of means, ranging from an activist government to revolutionary cadres. I don’t know, maybe you’d have a different definition. By all means feel free to argue the point.

Anyway, I would certainly include myself in this definition of the left. I don’t really identify with liberalism per se. Liberals can most definitely be leftists although many are most certainly not. Now, my first rule of life is that no one’s description of themselves should be taken seriously. I think that’s a very good rule to live by. So your opinion about whether I am left or liberal or whatever is a lot more important than my own.

That said, I believe in pretty much the entire range of left-liberal ideas. That includes the entirety of the socialist welfare system of Europe, gay marriage, stringent environmental regulations, access to abortion, etc. I’d argue that I am far to the left of most self-described leftists on organized labor, largely because I think many of them just don’t care or see it is an anachronism. I am opposed to much of U.S. foreign policy. And yes, like most self-identified leftists, I am disgusted by the so-called war on terror, torture, the treatment of Bradley Manning, etc.

Now none of this is particularly notable. But I have other positions as well that would certainly be more controversial and pretty “left” I think. Here’s a list of 10.

1. Make recognition of the state of Israel dependent on moving the boundaries back to the 1967 lines and destroying the settlements.
2. Repeal the 2nd Amendment
3. A constitutional amendment to guarantee employment
4. A constitutional amendment to guarantee collective bargaining
5. Extend the most vigorous provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to the entire nation
6. A government ban on the harvesting of most fish with vigorous regulations and punishment provisions for violators
7. An 100% estate tax. You die, the government takes it all.
8. Pricing based upon percentage of income. You go to the gas pump–the price of gas is based upon last year’s income that would be encoded on a card you have to show.
9. U.S. companies can move overseas if they want–but the U.S. minimum wage applies to those workers. Also to contracted suppliers.
10. A constitutional guarantee to terminate a pregnancy, no questions asked.

I don’t really talk about these things much. Why? They are irrelevant. They are so far out of what is possible that why bother. Do they make me more of a leftist? Who cares.

The one area I am less convinced of the so-called leftist position is drones. Or DRONES!!!!!, to paraphrase those who are outraged by them. The only difference I can see between drones and the rest of the immorality of American militarism is that drones kill less people than human-piloted aircraft. I’ve yet to see anyone present a convincing case that drones are MORE immoral than other forms of warfare. They are immoral without a doubt. But the closest thing I’ve seen to a real argument about drones’ special immorality comes down to being like a video game and the fact that the opposition doesn’t have a chance to fight back against American soldiers. The first is a reality of our technological fetishism pervading our entire society, the latter grotesque. Please convince me why I am wrong.

That brings me to the real point here: Freddie deBoer.

de Boer’s comment to Scott’s post caused me to choke up my morning ice water (I don’t drink coffee, it’s gross):

6. This blog once attacked publications like Slate and TNR for being reflexively antileft, and pressured Democrats from the left on issues like foreign policy and espionage. It is now reflexively antileft itself, and pressures liberals from the right on issues like foreign policy and espionage. It’s to the point where you’re concern trolling Bradley Manning’s torture, despite the fact that the UN torture chief found that Manning had been tortured.

Freddie defines the left as holding his own precise position on the issue that he has chosen as the moral issue of the day. Moreover, he defines the left as supporting what he wants in precisely the same method he chooses–namely not voting for Democrats in elections if they don’t follow his line of policy. Freddie has decided that torture and drones–not labor rights, not abortion rights, not the climate–is the single moral issue of our time. If you agree with him and his tactics for dealing with it, you are on the left. If you don’t, if you see nuance, if you see other issues as of equal or greater moral weight, you are excluded from his left. Therefore, because some of us here at LGM fall into the latter category and defend our position against third party flirtations and Obamaney foolishness, we are “antileft.”

Now, Corey Robin is right enough that de Boer provided some evidence for Scott’s question. It’s extremely weak evidence–Alan Dershowitz? Bill Clinton? Really? That’s as good as you can do? But he absolutely did not provide any evidence for his claim that “No, I think liberals want to be forced to support torture. What liberals want is ultimately to do what conservative hawks want to do, but only after experts and leaders assure them that they have no choice. They want extreme events to make the choice for them.” Do I count as one of these liberals? Do I want to be forced to support torture? Does Farley? Lemieux? Who precisely are these people, at least among the liberal writers on the blogosphere? Have any of us ever provided the slightest bit of evidence to this point?

I ask because Freddie is basically saying these things about LGM, the anti-left blog. He holds LGM up as everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party and liberal blogosphere. This is a blog that evidently thinks of Obama (or Bill Clinton) as a “liberal crush object.” And of course:

This is the most elementary, most important point of all: there is no internal pressure for Democrats to reform, precisely because of people like Tbogg and the crew at LGM. Defenders of Obama lay down lines you can’t cross in every direction, shrinking the bounds of the responsible or the fair or the mature or the realistic or the pragmatic or the strategic… And then you look up and there is nothing for you to do. You become Paul Begala or you are a traitor. What would Tbogg tell me to do, if he actually stopped building a monument to his own sarcasm and cleverness, if he stepped outside of his meticulously curated temple of snark and flippancy, and if he actually considered the question of what to do if you want America to stop killing children? He’d say to grow up. He has no other arrow in his quiver.

By the way, I still haven’t received my check from the Democratic National Committee for all the power I used to keep the left in line during the election. Do you people have my address? Tbogg, have you heard anything?

Back in November, Freddie said that I was going to have an interesting 2013 since I was just a pro-drone Obot Democratic Party hack who would never demand anything for my vote. What this obviously showed is that Freddie had never read a single word I had written before the post he was responding to, which was me saying essentially that Matt Stoller was a self-promoting posturing idiot, a point to which I assume we can all agree. But notice what Freddie was doing here in defining the left as precisely what he cared about to the exclusion of all else:

There are a few people out there who both associate themselves with liberalism (or progressivism, if you prefer the weasel term) and who assert the actual legitimacy and morality of the drone program. To them, well, vaya con dios. We aren’t likely to be able to talk about much of value. But most people on the broad left are defending Obama in spite of the drone program, insisting that you must (and almost all of them say we must) vote for Obama even though they disagree with this drone program. Yes, the drone program is a terrible mistake. But still, you must vote for Obama. Before the election is not the time. The years to come will be the right time. Congressional elections will be the right time. Not now, but later. Wait. Bide your time.

Well Freddie, I actually am going to have an interesting 2013. That’s because we are going to see higher taxes on the rich. We are going to see some kind of filibuster reform. We are almost certainly going to see substantive immigration reform. We might see a move toward voting standards. We might see the end of Republican hostage-taking over the debt limit. We might see a few other things as well.

That’s not leftist policy. Obama naming Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense is stupid. His labor policy is tepid. His public lands policy is non-existent. His agricultural policy is terrible. His drone policy is awful. His education policy is abysmal. But on all but the last, he’s still better than the alternative in American political life in 2012. This plus the real positive changes that do happen make people’s lives better. And it’s certainly going to be better than Freddie’s preferred alternative. 10% of Americans voting for Jill Stein would have moved the agenda to the left precisely how? How has this strategy worked through American history? How has change actually happened in American history? What is the relationship between the left and change in American history? What tactics have worked and what have not worked? As my readers know, studying these issues is the point of most of my academic and non-academic writing.

So this discussion of what’s left or antileft or whatnot is pretty pointless except that it’s insulting to be accused of such a thing in such an absurd manner. As Scott said to Freddie,

This assumes that you are to my left; I believe there is no actual basis for this assumption, since I don’t believe that a willingness to endorse transparently counterproductive tactics is a litmus test for one’s leftist commitment. It is precisely your belief that you are the Last True Lefist bravely pointing out heretics that seems to be the source of the silly generalizations under discussion here.

If the definition of left is being exclusionary of issues outside of the one you choose to emphasize, then I guess de Boer is to Scott’s left. In the real world, I don’t see any evidence of it at all. I certainly don’t question Freddie’s qualifications as being a person on the left. But then, what difference does it really make if he is or not? Or if I am or not? Nada. Not to real people’s lives.

I will tell you one thing though–no left I am a part of uses the kind of sexist language de Boer throws around. Not to mention his, uh, rather questionable writings about himself as a feminist in the past. See here for awesomeness. “Man up?” Christ Freddie, is left politics a contest about penis size? If so, count me out. For any number of reasons.

Comments (211)

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  1. bob mcmanus says:

    I agree about the Ray Price.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      You know this night life ain’t no good life. But it’s my life.

      • Bill says:

        Can we quit the teasing and have a dedicated Night Life thread? I would love more discussion on probably the greatest country album ever recorded

        • Erik Loomis says:

          I was thinking of ranking my favorite country albums.

          Number 1: Night Life.

          • Bill says:

            Interesting idea, though country obviously isn’t a genre that really focused on albums qua albums, for better or worse (I’d argue mostly for the better). That makes it easier in some ways, harder than others. There’s also the category issues — is Gilded Palace a country record? Anyway, if I was filling out my other four favorites, I’d probably include something from Buck Owens, something by Merle Haggard, the Flatlanders record, and… Out of Hand by Gary Stewart.

            • Richard says:

              Out of Hand is great. But there are many Merle and Willie albums. And Honky Tonk Heroes. And do you include greatest hits albums. – if so, you need space for Hank, George, Roger Miller and Charlie Rich.

            • Erik Loomis says:

              Like my ideas of the left, I am pretty big tent when it comes to country. Gilded Palace, definitely.

              Interesting on the Gary Stewart choice too.

              • Scott Lemieux says:

                Any well-selected Hag compilation would be right up there, but when he was writing his greatest songs he didn’t really put out great albums.

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  I’m a Lonesome Fugitive is a pretty amazing album.

                  Includes the title song, All of Me Belongs To You, House of Memories, Whatever Happened to Me, Drink Up and Be Somebody, Mary’s Mine, Someone Told My Story, Skid Row.

                  Incredible.

                • Sumanth says:

                  If we’re going to talk about great country albums, why not include Have Moicy!, a joint album by Michael Hurley, The Holy Modal Rounders, and Jeffrey Fredrick and the Clamtones, from the late 1970s? Although some might lump these musicians (who were on the periphery of the NY scene including the Fugs) into the “folk” marketing category, they’re pretty solidly country, and are now seen as important forerunners of alt.country. Anyway, check it out if you don’t know it.

                  Some others folks haven’t mentioned (and for purely educational value): John Hartford’s Aereo-Plain, Townes Van Zandt’s Delta Momma Blues or Live at the Old Quarter, and Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors. Also, Roots by the Everly Brothers and Kinky Friedman’s Sold American.

                  Very glad to see that Gary Stewart is being represented, and I quite like the examples mentioned thus far.

                  I would also claim that if one doesn’t understand and like country music, one doesn’t really know what “left” means. Debate.

                • Bill says:

                  I think comps and greatest hits would have to be out cos then you’re just picking your favorite acts, which is a different question. Plus, Merle made some pretty great albums during that period. I’d agree with Erik that Lonesome Fugitive is the pick of them but others are totally engaging. Just to pick one, I Love Dixie Blues is worth tracking down if you haven’t heard it

          • Djur says:

            Red Headed Stranger deserves consideration.

  2. Warren Terra says:

    I would say that “eradication of inequality” is a bit overstated. “eradication of injustice”, certainly. “equality of opportunity”, as well. But I think many people who think of themselves as being on the left – or perhaps just well left of center, without perhaps knowing what the Rules of The Left are – are OK that people aren’t all the same, and that some people are wealthier than others, so long as no-one slips through the cracks, no-one has to suffer to make their wealth possible, no-one is abandoned to an inevitable fate, and those wealthier people are taxed sufficiently to make these things happen.

  3. thusbloggedanderson says:

    One, I think y’all are taking this de Boer guy way too seriously. I’m starting to think the response to him should be “Pancakes!”

    (My own apologies for encountering him for the 1st time in yesterday’s thread & taking him seriously myself. I recovered.)

    Second, and perhaps OT so ignore as you like, but you identify yourself with seeking equality, and then you say, “I don’t really identify with liberalism per se.”

    How are you defining liberalism? Because I think I’m a liberal, and I think liberals are “committed to the eradication of social, political, economic, gender, sexual, and environmental inequality,” with varying emphases depending on where one’s coming from, etc.

    Or is it a question of means – “revolutionary cadres”?

    • Erik Loomis says:

      First, I’d say that the definitions aren’t really important in the end, which is the point of the post in part.

      Second, to the extent that they do matter, the possibility of means and method are reasonably good lines of demarcation.

      But the first point is the important one.

      • slightly_peeved says:

        I think if you are going to demarcate based on means or method, that should also include demarcation based on the means actually implemented and participated in, as opposed to those espoused.

        This demarcation has already created very pithy, appropriate monikers such as ‘Armchair Quarterbacks’ or ‘the fighting 101st Keyboarders.’

    • Warren Terra says:

      De Boer is a running joke.

      My personal favorite bit of dickishness of his – favorite because I saw it happen when it happened rather than later, and because it’s so small and petty – was a few months ago when he apparently made a blog post at his home about how the Balloon-Juice community were a bunch of small-minded fascist stormtroopers. Thing is, De Boer (inexplicably) has front-page privileges at Balloon-Juice. He’d posted something (stupid) there just a week or two before. But he decided to preach the Evils of the Other to his pet readership of like-minded fools, rather than engage in any sort of debate at Balloon-Juice. Pathetic.

      • thusbloggedanderson says:

        It sounds like FdB has met maybe 7 people who *weren’t* small-minded fascist stormtroopers.

        And just like the stormtroopers in Star Wars, all the stormtroopers he sees look just alike, apparently.

      • sharculese says:

        Although it did spawn the awesome name change “Manichean Monster DougJ”

      • Was that last thing his argument that all liberals are hypocrite assholes because they like Louis C.K., who wrote a tweet that everyone misconstrued as excusing Daniel Tosh’s rape joke? That post set a record for how many things you could get wrong. And it did have that weird “I’m a feminist, so I have to stand up for women because they can’t do it themselves” current to it.

      • DrDick says:

        DeBoering is nothing more than a narcissistic wanker who is too full of himself by a factor of infinity. I am an anti-war (since 19fucking68 motherfuckers!) socialist committed to equality for all people and I have nothing but contempt for him.

        • Djur says:

          Yes, I concur. Freddie may be a Real Leftist but his left is not mine. He’s a spartish dick-waver of the sort Lenin had dead to rights in 1920.

          And I like Corey Robin a lot, and I’m pretty disappointed that Corey is defending Freddie, who does not deserve it at all.

      • janastas359 says:

        My favorite part was when he started posting again about the Chicago teacher strike on BJ after that happened, without (to my knowledge) ever acknowledging that anything every happened.

  4. Dana Houle says:

    A. What’s that term for a word that sounds like what it means? Fits DeBoer.

    B. He’s a purity troll

    C. Many people who claim to be “leftists” see “anarchist” and think it’s the same thing. These are the same rubes who can embrace Antiwar.com and not realize the differences and similarities between Noam Chomsky and Patrick Buchanan (or Justin Raimondo).

    D. For many purity trolls, “leftist” has nothing to do with a structural analysis and critique of society. Rather, they conflate tactics with ideology and program. For them, the results don’t matter as much as the militancy. There are time when militancy is required, and I sure as hell don’t condone, say, the Gephardt/Daschle approach of 2001-2002. But I also think results matter, which is why Weberian notions of political responsibility matter to me more than the masturbatory smugness of N1 or Jacobin. And while I have my affinities with Arendt and republicanism of the American Revolution and workers councils and certainly the CIO, a lot of OWS–at least the NYC/Oakland varieties–was, to me, a bunch of narcissistic wanking that the participants found fun but didn’t lead to much other than (the very important but transitory) push in to the national consciousness and media coverage of income and wealth inequality in America.

    But then again, I’m probably just some revanchist Vichy stooge, since I think Walter Reuther, flaws and all, was one of our greatest Americans.

    • Dana Houle says:

      BTW, any guesses on the % of total hits that guy’s lifetime blogging has gotten that aren’t directly related to him attacking liberal/progressive bloggers? Is it over 15%? I bet it isn’t.

      If it weren’t for him attacking bloggers in general, Ygeslias, Ezra Klein, Chris Hayes, you guys and whoever else, would anyone care what he said? Would they even have heard of him?

    • Political purists frighten me. Maybe it’s because when they actually gain control of things, large body counts tend to be the most frequent result.

    • Linnaeus says:

      I have to disagree with you on Jacobin. While I don’t agree with everything they publish, I think they’ve been putting out some very good analysis lately. But I don’t read Jacobin for nuts-and-bolts political stuff anyway – I go to other outlets for that.

    • Dana,

      Many people who claim to be “leftists” see “anarchist” and think it’s the same thing.

      You’re right it’s not the same thing, and such lazy anarchist thinking helps no one. But to insist on the reverse, and see no place for anarchic responses in the face of the failure of leftist policies, goes too far.

      while I have my affinities with Arendt and republicanism of the American Revolution and workers councils and certainly the CIO, a lot of OWS–at least the NYC/Oakland varieties–was, to me, a bunch of narcissistic wanking that the participants found fun but didn’t lead to much

      I know my Weber too, and respect it. But again, you go too far. If the left doesn’t keep the possibility, the–shall we say–”corrective ideal” of republicanism and participatory democracy and workers co-ops and all the rest of that radicalism/anarchism/socialism in mind, then I think two things happen, besides the face that productive left-pressure has been lost: 1) you cede rhetorical space to the right, and all of a sudden Obama is a socialist and Joe Average Voter sees no alternative to convince him otherwise, and 2) your vision of leftism narrows, to the point where you longer see unions and farmers markets and DIY movements and co-ops as the potential sources of real (if limited) leftist support which they assuredly can be.

      • Dana Houle says:

        Saying people conflate any anarchism with leftism isn’t a dismissal of any anarchic elements. And you seem to be implying that by dismissing the OWS model of not making demands that I don’t see the possibilities for smaller-scale political action. In my neighborhood there was a demand that the city open up some unused land so that Bhutanese and Nepalese refugees could garden. That’s great, and it can be a foundation for higher-level political organizing. I’m not dismissing that kind of thing at all. And in fact, it’s a classic example of what I think is a difference between leftism or liberalism or progressive organizing or whatever, because it was people helping OTHERS, instead of just talking to people like themselves and luxuriating in the process, which is what the more prominent examples of OWS (such as Manhattan) were and remained. [But OWS is a complicated example, obviously, because it was almost as many different things as there were chapters; in most places it wasn't as pointless as I think the Manhattan group became.]

      • wengler says:

        You know sometimes it’s not about what you’re for but what you are against.

        Rightwingers worship authority and hate democracy. They bathe in nationalism and ethnic and religious hatred. They deserve to be opposed no matter if you like co-ops or not.

      • Dave says:

        Anarcho-syndicalism and cooperativism is the only thing that might save a putative future ‘leftist’ takeover from descending into an authoritarian hell of surveillance, purging and compulsory continuous purity-testing, so don’t knock it.

    • That Other Mike says:

      A. What’s that term for a word that sounds like what it means? Fits DeBoer.

      Onomatopoeia.

    • JL says:

      Disagree about the transitory thing. I see union rallies in my state that use Occupy’s rhetoric and framing for talking about class and wealth inequality issues and calling people to action. For that matter, I see random liberals doing the same thing. Not to mention the way it was a big issue in the 2012 elections. I think the shift is more enduring, even if Occupy won’t be what carries it forward.

      I agree that OWS itself had some serious dysfunction and self-indulgent wankery, and I can think of several times when I cringed in embarrassment over them being the best-known part of the movement. But then, my Occupation (which really had it together for the first few months) ended up eventually basically collapsing in dysfunction, while the people in OWS proper organized Occupy Sandy. So, uh, maybe I should get off my high horse there.

      I wish more people knew about, for instance, Occupy victories in Chicago, the unions that gave credit to the West Coast Occupations for helping them get better terms, Minnesota’s very active and successful branch of Occupy Homes (IIRC Atlanta has a good one too), Occupy Boston’s alliance with black and Latino police officers against BPD racism, Occupy Providence’s getting a new homeless shelter opened, Occupy the Hood Atlanta’s social services and organizing work in the poorest parts of the city, and the Occupiers who ran for office in local/state elections (some of whom won). The media actually took note of Occupy Sandy, so I don’t list it here, but I’m pretty pleased with it. Like you said somewhere else in this thread, Occupy is a lot of things, not just particular factions or campaigns of OWS and Occupy Oakland.

  5. Semanticleo says:

    I think that’s a very good rule to live by

    Yeah. There’s rules; then there’s rules…..

    It is a dark day for the rule of law.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/12/opinion/hsbc-too-big-to-indict.html?hp

  6. Bijan Parsia says:

    Now, Corey Robin is right enough that de Boer provided some evidence for Scott’s question. It’s extremely weak evidence–Alan Dershowitz? Bill Clinton? Really? That’s as good as you can do?

    Just to be picky, Clinton recanted his pro-ticking bomb concession which arguably was a tactic to try to constrain the Bush administration. Even Dershowitz is arguing that torture warrants would reduce the total amount (and severity) of torture. I’m prepared to entertain arguments that these caveats are bad faith or otherwise broken (esp. in Dershowitz’s case as he’s a pretty bad actor), but it’s a pretty substantial argument to be made!

    There’s a lot to be concerned about in Levinsonian squishiness on torture, but not, that I can see, that e.g., Levinson is on a slippery slope to being Yoo-ian on torture.

  7. The basic problem with drone warfare is that it makes the use of violence easier, since committing troops to fight bad guys is a commitment that can have consequences to a president and political party if done haphazardly (see Bush, G.W.). Drones don’t have that kind of cost. There are both positive and negative aspects to this–fewer troops dying is good, higher ambient violance level is not so good.

    Too often this specific discusssion is sidetracked by general mistrust of the military-industrial complex and perhaps even technophobia.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      I can see that, though I’d need to see evidence that the use of drones will make any real difference in the long run on the use of American troops or the political consequence of warfare.

      • Jeffrey Beaumont says:

        Seems like there must be some political consequences to bodies coming home, which robot war will prevent. It is probably important for voters to see our dead soldiers. But then again, the electoral consequences of the last decade’s wars is unclear.

        • NonyNony says:

          Seems like there must be some political consequences to bodies coming home, which robot war will prevent.

          But drones replace airplanes, which have few casualties in general and few bodies when there are casualties.

          If we were actually talking about deploying robots that would be one thing. Or if we were talking about deploying remote controlled replacements for soldiers on the ground. But we aren’t. We’re talking about replacing some fighters and bombers with remote controlled fighters and bombers.

          Until someone can explain to me how having a remote controlled bomber drop bombs on a village is more immoral than having a pilot in the bomber dropping bombs on a village, I will continue to believe that the folks making this argument either don’t know what they’re talking about or are making bad faith arguments.

          • ajay says:

            But drones replace airplanes, which have few casualties in general and few bodies when there are casualties.

            This. If there were no Predators, you think the US wouldn’t be involved in Yemen? Of course it would. It’d just be using F-15Es instead.

          • witless chum says:

            Yup. I’m willing to go along with the Freddie crowd to extent of thinking the bipartisan tactic of blowing up houses in multiple countries in the name of fighting “terrorism” is immoral and probably counterproductive, but I’m indifferent to how it gets done.

    • Painting lines down the middle of the street, vacuuming out the storm drains, manning the aircraft control towers, grading the trails at National Parks, and blowing up al Qaeda commanders are not leftist, pro-equality, liberationist activities, but as a liberal, I recognize that the government needs to do certain things that have nothing to do with the advancement of leftist or liberal ideas, but just plain have to get done.

      This recognition – that there is an important role for government that doesn’t have anything to do with fighting the ideological battle – is, sadly, one of the things that distinguishes us from the conservatives.

      • This is not meant to be a reply. Sorry, Lev.

      • djangermats says:

        We already know that as a liberal you’ve never met a Pakistani you wouldn’t gladly see killed and posthumously labelled a terrorist

        But I’m sure you’ll keep on tellin us, all the same

        • rea says:

          We already know that as a liberal you’ve never met a Pakistani you wouldn’t gladly see killed and posthumously labelled a terrorist

          See, this is where us reality-based types differ from you Lefties-as-tribalists–we’re willing to admit that there really are terrorists out there, and maybe something should be done to keep them from blowing us up. Killing the wrong people is a bad idea–it doesn’t help stop terrorists, just the opposite. But your reaction to that is to say, well, we should stop doing anything, and our reaction is, no, we need to have an anti-terrorist program that works.

    • Dana Houle says:

      I step back a bit, and I reject the idea that civil liberties are a “leftist” issue. I think they are–or at least used to be–an area where the strongest proponents were not limited to or clustered on one side of the political spectrum. I think you can be anti-left but a civil libertarian; Bob Barr, for instance. But Bob Barr sure doesn’t think the gov’t can or even should be used to ameliorate inequality, or that inequality is a bad thing. Is something a particularly good marker of left or right when what is supposedly the left position is also the position of Ron Paul and Bob Barr? I think not.

      • FlipYrWhig says:

        Yes, this, very much this. Civil liberties issues are often more identified with the left because of left notions of anti-authoritarianism and right notions of enforcing law and order. But then there are libertarians, who at least purport to be anti-authoritarian rightists. And then there’s the dilemma of what a strong state can or should do while at the same time respecting liberal and/or left precepts about justice and equality and ameliorating suffering. All of which IMHO goes to show that concern for civil liberties belongs on a different axis than a left-right one.

        • brewmn says:

          It’s not just ameliorating suffering. The notion that exclusively private actors are by virtue of being private less of a threat to the average person’s “liberty” than a democratically elected representative government is about as illiberal as you can get.

          Not to mention delusional.

    • Warren Terra says:

      The same arguments apply, however, to cruise missile strikes, as used by Clinton after the bombing of the USS Cole. I’m not sure whether the Sudan pharmaceutical plant bombing was done with cruise missiles or with piloted aircraft, but given the level of Sudan’s air defenses the effect is about the same. Even bigger operations done doing piloted aircraft (the Kosovo war, the Libyan civil war) were done without Congressional approval and in one case (and at least arguably in the other) without UN approval, with the main significant domestic controversy being whether to escalate to ground troops, rather than a debate over either the legitimacy or the ethics of the attacks.

      There is something about Drone Strikes that makes me more squeamish. Certainly, the idea of some dude ten minutes from home in an air-conditioned trailer someplace in the Mountain West watching a scene for hours, their finger poised over the button that will kill everyone they’re watching, is somehow more personal and disturbing than a bunch of analysts consulting intelligence reports and blueprints and deciding whether to task a cruise missile. But I’m not sure the ethics of one are worse than the other.

      Also, the issue is surely the comparison. If you compare drone strikes to cruise missiles or to F-15 strikes, they are surely more carefully targeted and might be construed as being a lesser evil. But that comparison is likely false: there are so manydrone strikes, so many targets we hit with drones that we’d never contemplate with a cruise missile. A useful comparison might be the Taser, which was marketed as a vastly less dangerous alternative to the 9mm handgun but has often become an alternative to showing patience, to cajoling, and perhaps to some much milder physical coercion.

      • thusbloggedanderson says:

        “Certainly, the idea of some dude ten minutes from home in an air-conditioned trailer someplace in the Mountain West watching a scene for hours, their finger poised over the button that will kill everyone they’re watching”

        I don’t find that any creepier than the thought that SEAL Team Six is infiltrating my back yard.

        … Nope, not there. Yet.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        A useful comparison might be the Taser, which was marketed as a vastly less dangerous alternative to the 9mm handgun but has often become an alternative to showing patience, to cajoling, and perhaps to some much milder physical coercion.

        This is the most interesting comparison I’ve yet seen.

        It’s probably too soon to see whether it’ll play out like with Taser’s but it’s certainly worth worrying about.

        Of course, you have to compare it with likely alternatives. With the war on al Qaeda was doing nothing (or a police approach) ever realistically on the table? Compared to the Bush approach of using al Qaeda as a rationale for massive interventions, drone warfare to attack al Qaeda per se is hugely better.

        • Jeffrey Beaumont says:

          I’ve thought this before, the taser-drone analogy is a good one.

        • Warren Terra says:

          This is where I am, which is why I’m a squish on drones. But drones are used in situations where there’s uncertainty, and they’re used in situations where no other method would ever be considered. They’re used because they are easy to use, rather than because they’re the easiest way to do something that must be done, no matter what, and aren’t we glad we have an easy way to do it. And there lies the problem …

          • Bijan Parsia says:

            But drones are used in situations where there’s uncertainty, and they’re used in situations where no other method would ever be considered.

            I’m not so very sure about that. There was a post circulating around this discussion which argued that they weren’t so transformative.

            Even conceding “they’re used in situations where no other method would ever be considered” doesn’t mean that they produce an net increase in violence. In principle, because they can be used instead of some blunter tool, the blunter tool might be used less (for an overall benefit) or the situation in which drones would be typically used is less prone to collateral damage. That we might not bomb a major city to kill yet another #2 guy doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t do something worse than an in city drone attack to get them (in another time and place).

            They’re used because they are easy to use, rather than because they’re the easiest way to do something that must be done, no matter what, and aren’t we glad we have an easy way to do it.

            It’s an appealing analysis, but I wonder how true it is. I mean, has the possibility of using drones generated new targets or just enabled attacking them? I’ve no idea.

            Another way of thinking about them is that they make it possible (or easier) to target a distributed, stateless enemy without having to go for invasion. Given the kinds of people in charge, is it really likely that not given such an option that they wouldn’t still want to attack that enemy?

            The taser analogy cuts both ways. If we have police force that’s routinely shooting up neighborhoods whenever a crime is reported, then shifting them to using tasers on individuals is a big win, however awful it is.

      • Your second paragraph interests me greatly. I think the squeamishness you describe is entirely natural (and shared by me), but it needs to be clarified what that is. It’s a psychological response (most likely evolutionary) that most people have to face-to-face killing. The closer up it is, the heavier the resistance and distaste of it is. The further away it is, the less distasteful it is. In WWII, the vast majority of deaths were due to artillery and bombers, while deaths caused by infantry were minimal until one side or another retreated. It’s the same basic principle of the Milgram Experiment, expanded on in the book On Killing, as well as elsewhere.

        I think the response is useful, though the limits on it are significant, and it’s not entirely universal or insurmountable. But I suspect that’s one of the hidden dynamics of the debate.

    • This IS meant to be a reply to Lev:

      The “keeping American troops out of harms way” dynamic kicks in when you replace a 200-man infantry company with an aircraft or three.

      The difference between a plane with a pilot and a drone is infinitesimally small.

      • thusbloggedanderson says:

        “The difference between a plane with a pilot and a drone is infinitesimally small.”

        Uh, what?

        • I don’t understand what you don’t understand.

          Lev made the argument that reducing the danger to American military personnel increases the likelihood of military action.

          I noted that the use of drones instead of piloted aircraft reduces the danger to American military personnel very little, compared to another example (the replacement of ground forces with aircraft).

          What is confusing you?

          • thusbloggedanderson says:

            My impression is that it’s a bigger deal for an American pilot to be killed or captured than you think it is.

            • thusbloggedanderson says:

              Bigger *political* deal I meant.

              SANTA I WANT AN EDIT BUTTON.

              • Santa Claus says:

                Do you really think you’ve been good enough?

                There’s still almost two weeks, I think you should try extra hard to deserve it.

                Ho ho ho.

                • thusbloggedanderson says:

                  See, that kind of naughty-nice discrimination is part of what I oppose as a liberal.

                  Santa’s just lucky I’m not a leftist, leading my revolutionary cadres to burn down his workshop sweatshop and to hoist the red flag upon the North Pole.

            • ajay says:

              True. But it’s very, very unlikely to happen, at least as long as the US limits itself to wars against countries without functioning air defence networks.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              I don’t think joe meant that the event of being captured or killed is less for a pilot than a grunt, but that 1) participants in air attacks tend to much fewer than participants in ground actions and 2) the individual risk of capture or death is lower.

              The second part is the idea that the gap in these two numbers going from ground to air is much bigger than going from air to drone. On an individual basis, obviously, safer is safer. But look, for example, at the bombing of Serbia—no US military casualties.

          • Steve says:

            Good Dog, you really don’t see the difference between a person and a pile of microchips? There’s a word for that: sociopathy. Forget about killed or captured, there’s a real human being pickling the bombs, and they aren’t idiots about what the bombs do.

      • One of the Blue says:

        Only in the event U.S. opponents’ air defense capabilities are (as now) nonexistent or hopelessly ineffective.

        Not near the same as in previous eras (Vietnam, Korea, WWII).

    • Dan says:

      I’ve been a consistent critic of US foreign policy for years, but I think making a big deal about “drone warfare” specifically really misses the forest for the trees here.

      The largest death tolls in Yemen, Somalia, etc. in specific strikes the last few years were from cruise missile launches and not drone strikes. If you want to criticize the policy of targeted killings, there’s certainly room for that, but Drones are really just a new tool to commit the violence in third world countries that the US has done relatively regularly since the Cold War began. Its a real shame that much-needed criticism of US foreign policy the last few years has been shelved in favor of killer robot hysteria (similar to the anti-bomber hysteria after World War 1).

      Dan Trombly’s writing more or less convinced me of this a while ago, but here’s a more recent article-length blog post on the subject that covers it quite well.

    • Dan says:

      It also needs to be noted that drone warfare does involve quite a few “boots on the ground”- so clearly its not being chosen solely because it keeps people out of harms way

  8. sharculese says:

    I assumed the Dershowitz thing was a metaphorical dick-whipping out: “I’m so far to your left I can’t distinguish between you and Alan Dershowitz.”

    Because I really can’t imagine any other reason that seemed like a good idea.

    • thusbloggedanderson says:

      That would be a good string of insults.

      “I’m so far to your left, you’re invisible behind Marx’s beard.”

      “I’m so far to your left, the Riemannian geometry of the cosmos means you have to turn your head *right* to see me.”

      Others here can come up with examples that have the additional merit of actually being funny.

    • Sunny von Bulow says:

      I know it’s just a coincidence that Freddie’s out-of-left-field example took a famous case involving a woman as an agency-less prop to achieve progress on larger and more abstract issues of justice

      But what an appropriate coincidence it is

  9. Erik,

    We’ve gone over this before, and there’s no point in belaboring it, especially simply to satisfy Freddie, but for the record:

    10% of Americans voting for Jill Stein would have moved the agenda to the left precisely how?

    It wouldn’t have done a thing regarding the agenda of actually available legislation in Congress and state legislatures. On the other hand, it would have obliged existing coalitions and interest groups to recognize the voting power of those for whom certain foreign policy issues, etc., were decisive.

    How has this strategy worked through American history?

    When conjoined with state-level party building and electioneering, it has a decent record of success (the Populists being the obvious example). When absent that sort of work, its a meaningless strategy.

    What is the relationship between the left and change in American history? What tactics have worked and what have not worked?

    Protest candidates, wildcat strikes, dissident groups, and more have all had their place in American history alongside supporting existing structures with the aim of nudging them in leftward directions. My reading of history is that if you have the former without the latter you of course get nothing, but if you have the latter without the former, you have Adlai Stevenson.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      As I pointed out in one of the linked posts above, the Populists themselves were essentially a second party in states they were relevant. Where there was already a functioning two party system, they failed to gain traction. I think there are lessons to be learned from the Populists, but I’m not sure they really fit all that well for this point.

      I’d agree about wildcat strikes, dissident groups, and the like. I would disagree about protest candidates.

    • thusbloggedanderson says:

      “it would have obliged existing coalitions and interest groups to recognize the voting power of those for whom certain foreign policy issues, etc., were decisive.”

      Really? Or would it have put Romney in office, driven the country even further to the right for the next 4 or 8 years, and left the Democrats even more confused and disorganized?

      The GOP has lost 3 elections since 2008, and they’re just now getting around to, uh, MAYBE tolerating gays and not requiring every Hispanic to cower whenever a police officer walks by. Possibly. They have a study group looking into it.

      • Dana Houle says:

        Also, Michigan shows that regardless of overall degree of how far a state swings left or right, a short period with a narrow but complete hold on power affords a disciplined and ruthless party an opportunity to make sweeping changes that can greatly increase their power and create a large imbalance between popular support and control over government. Think of, for a couple examples, redistricting and campaign finance. PA and FL and OH and MI were all solid Dem wins statewide but only in MI did Dems gain much at the legislative level, and all four states have huge Repub majorities in their Congressional delegations.

        Power is not to be treated cavalierly.

    • I’m not sure the record is so decent if the only concrete example of it working comes from the heady days of the Cleveland Administration.

    • DrDick says:

      On the other hand, it would have obliged existing coalitions and interest groups to recognize the voting power of those for whom certain foreign policy issues, etc., were decisive.

      You have to be kidding me. Are you totally ignorant of American political history since 1950? If you do not at least break 20%, they totally ignore you and even there the impact is minimal.

    • Greg says:

      On the other hand, it would have obliged existing coalitions and interest groups to recognize the voting power of those for whom certain foreign policy issues, etc., were decisive.

      And it would have told them that being significantly better than all other viable candidates on those issues was irrelevant to this bloc of voters, and that earning their votes would require absolute purity. Then the existing coalitions and interest groups would have made the calculation that the policy concessions required to appease this bloc would cost more support from elsewhere in the coalition than it would gain, and the coalitions and interest groups would continue to ignore these issues.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Russell — you’re writing as if we’re discussing a purely abstract question. In fact, just 12 years ago a third party vanity campaign threw a presidential election. The result was hundreds of thousands of deaths in exchange for no benefits whatsoever. Why would we think this would work better next time?

      • Dave says:

        Nooo! Not the Nader card! He played the Nader card, everybody GET DOWN!!

      • IM says:

        Let’s forget Nader . Perot was more successful then any third party candidate since Wallace. Twice.

        And he achieved exactly what?

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          Less that I had been used to think.

          It was common wisdom that he enabled Clinton’s victory (or victories), but my understanding of the subsequent literature is that Perot drew fairly equally from people who would have voted either way (or for no one) so he didn’t actually change the outcome.

          In so far as putting stuff on the agenda, he certainly gave anti-NAFTA some prominence.

          In terms of changing outcomes e.g., on NAFTA…not so much.

          So yeah! Nothing!

  10. Dana Houle says:

    Go back in history, and everything that is wrong about LGM is rooted in the thought of Edmund Burke [/Corey Robin]

  11. Total says:

    On the other hand, it would have obliged existing coalitions and interest groups to recognize the voting power of those for whom certain foreign policy issues, etc., were decisive.

    That and 4.50 will get you a latte at Starbucks.

    When conjoined with state-level party building and electioneering, it has a decent record of success

    *Anything* conjoined with state-level party building and electioneering has a decent record of success.

  12. Joe says:

    What is gross is the target here. Coffee is fine. Though much coffee I personally make is gross.

    The semi-important thing isn’t the particular target here. Sounds like a tool. It’s what the person represents. I hope this is the point of all the posts on Ann Althouse unless it is just a innocent guilty pleasure of Scott to tweak her.

    Well, it got a lot of comments and often those comments are worth reading given the intelligence of the authors. There’s always that.

    • Grigori, Trained Octopus says:

      Indeed! What I cannot countenance, Erik, is your blasphemous dismissal of our dark caffeinated lord. If anything should get you kicked out of the club, it’s that anti-coffee slander. Repent, sir.

  13. Jon says:

    I really think it’s his gender issues that are the most telling – he wasn’t arguing that he was to the left of Sady Doyle and Amanda Hess, but that he was more feminist than they were. His current insistence that he’s the leftiest leftist on the left is more of the same.

    I think at some point you lose the right to self-identify at all when it comes to politics.

  14. Joe says:

    Oh, btw, even Adler over at Volokh Conspiracy finds “right to work” laws stupid, though he notes his visceral dislike of unions because they did some mean things or something when he was a kid or something. At least three people referred people to the Eric Loomis for some real union history.

      • djw says:

        The rare beast known as the libertarian who takes the advertised central tenets of their ideology seriously is pretty much forced to oppose right to work laws. It criminalizes a kind of contractual arrangement between two parties, to protect the interests of hypothetical future participants who’d prefer to join a different contractual order. Anyone who actually takes “liberty of contract” at all seriously can’t support these laws.

    • thusbloggedanderson says:

      Not *enough* mean things, IMHO.

    • Murc says:

      At least three people referred people to the Eric Loomis for some real union history.

      This is because Erik is probably the highest profile labor historian around, at least, the highest profile one with a significant online presence. His ‘this day in labor history’ series has been a lot of peoples first introduction to a topic that doesn’t get a whole lot of play.

  15. bob mcmanus says:

    Bah.

    Anybody remember twisty faster? So many people would ask twisty after she had detailed some everyday patriarchal horror:”What do you want twisty?”

    And twisty would answer:”Revolution”

    And they would ask:”But what does that mean?”

    And twisty would answer (actually there is a long blog post I’ve never been able to find)something like, or maybe I will:”Ahhh You want a Revolution too? You talk, I’ll listen.”

    Now I don’t prequalify it or put conditions or demand how its done or what comes after cause nobody has or will or should make me boss anyway.
    And that, friends, is the difference between a liberal and a leftist to me.

    An unconditional faith in democracy.

    I want a Revolution. Now.

    • thusbloggedanderson says:

      Now I remember why I’m a liberal.

      • bob mcmanus says:

        Yes. You want to be the boss and think you would make a good one.

        C’mon. You do, don’t you?

        • Vance Maverick says:

          I had never been struck before, Bob, by your similarities to Freddie. Why won’t the mean people on the internet stop telling us mild-mannered liberals what we really think?

          Erik, you define the left as

          committed to the eradication of social, political, economic, gender, sexual, and environmental inequality both in the United States and around the world through the use of a variety of means, ranging from an activist government to revolutionary cadres.

          What’s the stuff about means doing in there? Not that I object to it, I just don’t see it as relevant to one’s place on the axis. If you pursue equality through bombing or Texas hold ‘em, I’ll criticize you on other grounds, but consider you a leftist.

          • bob mcmanus says:

            I have absolutely no idea who Freddie de Boer is and have never read him.

            Sorry, now I really have to get back to Jodi Dean.

          • Erik Loomis says:

            My only point about means is to say I think that most leftists would say that there can be situations where violence is a legitimate tactic. I would say that. I’m certainly not saying that for anything in the United States at this time.

            • Vance Maverick says:

              I get you — but it is a difference in our understandings of the term. I think there can be people (I felt this way in my teens) who share the goals but reject absolutely any violent means.

            • thusbloggedanderson says:

              I don’t think liberals believe that violence is always out of the question. Against a truly repressive regime, violent revolution may be the only option. See e.g. Syria.

              But violent revolutions have a way of turning out badly. Liberals (I think) have resigned themselves to persuasion as, long-term, the best bang for the buck.

            • Pithlord says:

              Most liberals would also say that there can be situations where violecne is a legitimate tactic. As would most centrists. In fact, everyone would say that except for pacifists.

        • Dave says:

          Looks to me, “bob”, as though you’re saying YOU want to be the boss, and you think you’d make a good one – that’s what having a RRRRevolution means, isn’t it?

    • Jon says:

      Didn’t Twisty kind of go over the deep end though? I seem to recall (though i don’t have a link, so take it for what it’s worth) her post-revolution utopia evolving to include the incarceration and punitive rape of every man on the planet. That’s a little too radical for my tastes.

      • thusbloggedanderson says:

        You’re just a slave to your own self-interest, Jon.

      • delurking says:

        Well, since you don’t provide a link I can’t actually refute you; I will say I have been reading Twisty Faster since the Great Internet Blow Job Wars of 2006 and neither the rape nor the incarceration of anyone (male or female) sounds like anything she would ever endorse.

        Rather, Twisty radically suggests that non-consent (rather than consent) in sexual matters be presumed until proven otherwise; and that women should no longer submit to or accept the notion that they belong to the sex class; and that sometimes guys should shut up and let the women talk.

        But as she says, she’s not ruling the world, and can’t make anyone do anything.

        • That Other Mike says:

          Yeah, that was a rather more reasonable gloss on Twisty; rather in the same way as if we said that some communists think it would be nice if people shared a little more.

    • Aaron B. says:

      This is my first encounter with this Twisty Faster person, so I thought I’d go a-trawling archives and other blogs criticizing her. After lengthy review, I hereby pronounce her bugfuck insane, without qualification or reservation.

      Shorter Twisty Faster:

      Evidence for my views? Confirmation bias is the only evidence I need, you patriarchal peenfucks!

  16. djangermats says:

    My problem with DRONNNEZZZ is that drones are currently the thing being used to kill people.

    If they were using airstrikes I’d care about AYRSTRIEKZZZZZ

    I realize this is a difficult concept to grasp for many white people.

  17. J.W. Hamner says:

    The Tiger Beatdown thing is interesting mainly in that it shows he hasn’t learned a thing in the intervening years. Two years later he’s still picking purity fights with blogs with larger readerships than his own. So I guess either the sanctimonious thing is just who he is, or he thinks he get more readers by being the subject of posts at LGM.

    If it’s the latter I guess I can sympathize because nobody reads my cooking blog either, but I really don’t think the path to internet immortality lies in trolling.

  18. Cols714 says:

    I think it’s just a desire to be anti-establishment. That’s all it is.

  19. dilletaunted says:

    HE’S A POSEUR!!!!

  20. Jameson Quinn says:

    For any number of reasons.

    How many penises do you have, anyway? And are they unusually small, unusually large, or some of each? Enquiring minds want to know.

  21. sharculese says:

    You know that old saw about how a libertarian is a republican who want’s to smoke weed?

    well, a leftyblogger is a liberal who doesn’t smoke enough weed.

  22. Bitter Scribe says:

    If you’re going to argue against clones, argue against the war in Afghanistan. But that’s messy and complicated compared with shrieking about MURDERED CHILDREN!!!!

    • T. Paine says:

      Yeah, those Clone Wars were shit. WTF was George Lucas thinking, anyway?

      Oh, you meant DRONES? Yeah, I’m opposed to flying death robots too, but that’s because of SkyNet. Otherwise, let’s stop murdering foreigners, regardless of the means.

      • Bitter Scribe says:

        OK, that wasn’t the brightest typo. And I’m all for “not murdering foreigners,” except Afghanistan gave haven to al-Qaeda before and after 9/11. Were we supposed to overlook that?

  23. absurdbeats says:

    I’m a big-tent kinda leftist, a pinko who draws very, mm, liberal boundaries around leftism.

    But: “coffee is gross”?

    Too far, man, too far.

  24. UserGoogol says:

    I’m curious what you mean by 3. That’s not the most radical proposal on your list, (8 is way more extreme and unrealistic) but it’s vague and it’s hard to imagine how it would work even in theory. I imagine the idea would be to implement a job guarantee program of some sort, but it’s hard to imagine how you’d make a litigatable constitutional mandate for that.

  25. Lit3Bolt says:

    To paraphrase The Social Network:

    “Freddie, people don’t like you because you’re a leftist. People don’t like you because you’re an asshole.”

    You should ignore Freddie from now on, because he’s the worst troll with a long history of this behavior at many many left websites.

    And FUCKING SHAME ON YOU, Corey Robin, for defending this intellectual lightweight. Not every mini-Greenwald needs to be rescued by you. If you can’t realize that Greenwald is on that one-trick pony for the money and career, then well you’re pretty dim.

  26. wengler says:

    I don’t think the majority of your remedies are ‘leftist’ if we accept that leftism is the distribution of power amongst the greatest amount of people and rightism is the centralization of power and control.

    I am for the right of all people to have access to water, food and shelter regardless of circumstance. Rightwingers demand that those who aren’t born to even these meager underpinnings should form patron-client, boss-servant, employer-employee relationships to guarantee these 3 things. Either that or go to prison. I am against that.

    • FlipYrWhig says:

      But those aren’t really what leftism and rightism are, no? I mean, what if the most effective way to distribute scarce goods fairly is to administer them through a powerful central authority? Is that left because it helps downtrodden people, or right because it relies on centralized power and, quite possibly, coercion?

      • That Other Mike says:

        That’s confusing ends, which are conceivably right or left, with means, which are not necessarily one or the other.

        We can say without contradicting ourselves that a government which redistributes income through a (technically) forcible means such as coercive taxation is left-wing. The problems arise when the means becomes the end…

  27. Truth Speaks says:

    I read Erik’s entire post and the one glaring fact that I came away with is Mr. Loomis has no concept of economic theory.

    To move toward anything even close, it would be necessary to force people into this behavior.

    Stalin
    Pol Pot
    Mussolini
    Mao

    They all just “knew” what was best for the whole and had little to no regard for the rights of the individual.

    The constitution of the US was designed to protect us from people like Mr. Loomis.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      God do I love some strawberry jam on my waffles.

    • thusbloggedanderson says:

      They all just “knew” what was best for the whole and had little to no regard for the rights of the individual.

      Okay, I know we’re not supposed to take this shit seriously, but here’s Eric arguing for policies that *empower* the *greatest number* of individuals, and T.S. is carping about lack of respect for the rights of the individual.

      The rich and the poor have the equal right to sleep in a bed at the Ritz, payment in advance required please.

    • David Nieporent says:

      I’d have more respect for Loomis — admittedly, this is such a low barrier that even the tiny shriveled dust mite that is a Yankee fan’s soul could leap it with ease — if he were one of those guys. They might have been evil, but at least they understood what they were doing; they just didn’t care about the obvious results. Loomis isn’t even smart enough to think through his proposals; he’s still puzzled at how that whole Year Zero thing didn’t work out.

      • T. Paine says:

        Mmm, yes, guaranteeing employment is JUST LIKE murdering people with glasses. With skills like that, it’s a wonder you’re not regularly accused of malpractice.

  28. Johnny Sack says:

    Eh everybody slips. I don’t see the need to beat Freddie over the head for saying “Man up.” Definitely quick to anger in a meaningless blog war, that says something, and it should be called out, and then just let go.

  29. jack* says:

    Wait a minute.

    8. Pricing based upon percentage of income. You go to the gas pump–the price of gas is based upon last year’s income that would be encoded on a card you have to show.

    I’m intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter. Say more about how that is supposed to work.

  30. Bloix says:

    IMHO, adults who don’t drink coffee in the morning are not to be trusted. They’re either stuck in adolescence or close-minded blue-stockings.

  31. scott says:

    “What does it mean to be a leftist?

    Let me start by saying that this is a pretty wankertastic question.”

    Ending there would have been useful too, since all that followed led to nothing good.

  32. Johnny Sack says:

    I’m comfortable with the estate tax idea, but only if there’s a reasonable zero bracket (which there already is). Not necessarily the current one, but a reasonable one. And a higher exclusion/deduction/whatever (not a tax guy!) for people with minor children and dependents. For all I know people already do this. I never took trusts & estates so what the fuck do I know.

  33. Jeffrey Beaumont says:

    Hate to revisit yesterday’s vomit, but this review on slate might just be the sort of crap Freddie was talking about:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/movies/2012/12/zero_dark_thirty_reviewed.html

    At the end, the reviewer basically says she wants to be told torture is necessary. Awful.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      Wrestling with the question of how torture is handled in this film, I couldn’t stop flashing back to Jack Nicholson’s indelible diatribe at the end of the otherwise forgettable 1992 court-martial drama A Few Good Men: “You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.” (The wall in question was one around the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, a place that, in that more innocent time, signified a last bulwark in the Cold War rather than a sordid holding pen for indefinitely detained terror suspects.)

      By thrusting the sometimes unsavory practices of the CIA agents who hunted down bin Laden under our noses, is Bigelow attempting to align herself with the belligerent bluster of Nicholson’s embattled Col. Jessup? Zero Dark Thirty, as single-minded and emotionally remote as its heroine, plays its cards so close to its vest that it’s impossible to tell. But this is a vital, disturbing, and necessary film precisely because it wades straight into the swamp of our national trauma about the war on terror and our prosecution of it, and no one—either on the screen or seated in front of it—comes out clean.

      I guess you could read it that way, but it seems as if we’re reading any thought that whether to torture might be a difficult choice as conclusive evidence that someone is torture curious (“basically says she wants to be told torture is necessary” is not how I interpret these last passages).

      Putting aside the hermeneutics, is it a good strategy to treat people who have not endorsed Bush ear or even this movie level sanctioned torture as if they are just waiting to be convinced. Perhaps they are waiting to be unconvinced, or they are genuinely indecisive.

      There are clearly some people who just don’t see torture as a problem or, even, a good tool, no more to be regretted (except maybe as ritual) than killing an active enemy combatant. Maybe less so! We really want to constrain these people as much as possible. Success at that starts with a realistic assessment of people who seem squish on anti-torture.

      Perhaps vehemence is the right tactic, I don’t know. I’m skeptical that broad brush condemnation of people who are publicly indecisive is the best move.

  34. [...] at Lawyers, Guns & Money, Erik Loomis identifies ten positions that he feels are “controversial and pretty [...]

  35. Oscar the Grouch says:

    How is repealing part of the BILL OF RIGHTS (the Second Amendment) a “left” position?

  36. [...] cadres. . . . I would certainly include myself in this definition of the left.” – Erik Loomis, Dec. 13, 2012“On the fringes of the radical movement, many tortured spirits actively sought a martyrdom [...]

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