July 12, 2005

Microwaved Marxism

After every act of terrorism in a Western country essays by “intellectuals” who are dumb as a sack of hammers predictably appear in the press. Here’s one by the now-infamous Sarah Boxer in the New York Times, about werenotafraid.com, where she pulls decades-old Marxist leftovers out of the refrigerator and zaps them in the microwave.

The site displays a range of defiant postures. Some people hold up their middle fingers, presumably for the terrorists to see. Some people posted pictures of American soldiers, presumably for Londoners and Americans to see.

But more and more, there's a brutish flaunting of wealth and leisure. Yesterday there were lots of pictures posted of smiling families at the beach and of people showing off their cars and vans. A picture from Italy shows a white sports car and comes with the caption: "Afraid? Why should we be afraid?"

A few days ago, We're Not Afraid might have been a comfort. Today, there's a hint of "What, me worry?" from Mad magazine days, but without the humor or the sarcasm. We're Not Afraid, set up to show solidarity with London, seems to be turning into a place where the haves of the world can show that they're not afraid of the have-nots.
Osama bin Laden is a friggin' billionaire. Islamist terrorism isn't a class war.

Saudi Arabia is one of the richest countries in the entire world. And it’s the mothership of Islamist terrorism and fanaticism. Meanwhile, Muslim-majority Mali is among the five poorest nations in the entire world. The number of terrorists exported by Mali: zero. (Mali is also, by the way, a stable multi-ethnic democracy. Even poor Muslims in non-homogenous countries are capable of liberalization, moderation, and democracy. Mali proves that definitively. But facts of this sort seem to have no effect whatever on ideological leftists or rightists.)

Sarah Boxer’s very existence ought to encourage would-be journalists everywhere. You can be dumb as a sack of hammers and still make it all the way to the New York Times.

UPDATE: Andrew Apostolou emails an article published last year by the BBC. Dr Andrew Silke interviewed 180 Al Qaeda detainees and learned, among other things, that every single one of them came from upper or middle-class backgrounds. Two thirds were college educated. One in ten held a post-graduate degree. Islamists terrorists are far wealthier and better educated than Westerners on average. We're not under assault by the have-nots, we're under assault by the haves.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 12, 2005 02:07 PM
Comments

A sack of hammers can be used to build things.

Nothing at the New York times can be used to build things.

Posted by: Solder's Dad at July 12, 2005 02:36 PM

I agree with Soldier's Dad, your column is an insult to all the useful, hard-working hammers out there.

Posted by: TallDave at July 12, 2005 02:54 PM

Hell, you don't even have to do any research or actual reporting to work at the NY Times, either. This surprises you?

Posted by: DodgerGirl at July 12, 2005 02:58 PM

Yes, but you can use the New York Times to make your tomatoes grow better.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at July 12, 2005 03:14 PM

It's the marxist model of class struggle. Man is an economic being, all his actions can be explained economically. Rich vs poor. bourgeoisie vs proletariat, etc etc.

When John Edwards spoke of "two Americas", he was doing the same thing. And then these intellectuals scratch their heads in puzzlement when folks vote "against their economic interests". Morons. They're marxists and don't even know it.

Posted by: spaniard at July 12, 2005 03:19 PM

You know, humor aside, it's an interesting phenomenon you raise. There's too often this sense from "intellectuals" that our Western prosperity is somehow taking place at the expense of poorer nations, which is not only wrong but actually the reverse of the truth; where non-Western countries become prosperous, it's usually because of access to Western markets and the application of Western ideas on good governance, combined with a strong native work ethic (see Japan, S Korea, and most recently China).

In fact, our "charitable" largesse probably hurts the economic prospects in poor nations more than anything else we do. How are poor farmers supposed to compete with free aid? How are oppressed people supposed to rise up against gov't's propped up with Western aid, who routinely simply starve out their opposition by not distributing aid to them (see Somalia, N Korea, Zimbabwe)?

Posted by: TallDave at July 12, 2005 03:26 PM

If there is anything that characterizes the NYT, it's of a bloated organization full of writers who are too lazy to get off their fannies and go out and do real work. The NYT is famous for it's hiring policy, which basically employs people for a trial period, after which they are virtually tenored for life. People who are unproductive are simply shuffled around, not fired.

It's much easier to sit back in an air-conditioned office, sipping on a latte, double-clicking and make cheap remarks about a website, than it is to do some real work and try to understand what is going on in the world.

More lining for the bird cage.

Posted by: bob at July 12, 2005 03:36 PM

That's quite a head of froth you've worked up over a really inconsequential little article.

I missed the part where Boxer said that "Islamist terrorism" is a class war.

Posted by: kc at July 12, 2005 04:51 PM

sipping on a latte,

In a post about "Microwaved Marxism," bitching about a reporter's alleged attempt to cast terrorism as class warfare.

Classic right wing irony deficit.

Posted by: kc at July 12, 2005 04:54 PM

kc,

"That's quite a head of froth you've worked up over a really inconsequential little article."

Correct.

An inconsequential little article by an inconsequential little journalist working for an increasingly inconsequential newspaper which represents an inconsequential and anachronistic political agenda.

Posted by: Freeguy at July 12, 2005 05:09 PM

kc:I missed the part where Boxer said that "Islamist terrorism" is a class war.

We're Not Afraid, set up to show solidarity with London, seems to be turning into a place where the haves of the world can show that they're not afraid of the have-nots.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 12, 2005 05:18 PM

I've never really understood the blogosphere right-wing's venom toward the NYT. Did you all apply for jobs there and get denied? Judging by the outrage, the NYT is apparently very very influential and relevant, otherwise why would you care? You can find just as much stupidity and Bush-bashing in your average Al Neuharth column, but I guess USA Today, despite having a larger circulation than the NYT, somehow isn't important. Is it that the NYT is just a proxy for "elite, snobbish East Coasters who think they're better than you"? That's sure what it seems like, and by giving the NYT so much attention you're kind of proving their point, at least as far as relative status goes. When I was growing up in New Hampshire in the 80s most honest conservative folk simply ignored the New York Times. I think that's a better strategy than whipping yourself into a frenzy.

Posted by: vanya at July 12, 2005 05:24 PM

I think you seriously misjudged the opinion piece Michael. I too see nothing there to indicate a view of the war against jihadis as a class war.

Quite the contrary. It seems that she was trying to say that since the struggle is obviously NOT a class war, the images of flaunting wealth seems strangely out-of-place. As if the picture-posters were the ones who were trying to inject a little materialism - "look how rich and cool we are" into the argument. I've not spent time on the site to know if her point is valid, but her point does not seem to be the one you ascribe to her.

It is sad to see you getting into this "feeding the outrage machine" mode. Predictably, the comments you elicit follow the form.
You seem to me to be too talented and thoughtful for this kind of stuff.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 12, 2005 05:27 PM

I'll blather a little more. Maybe the issue is that people outside the Northeast bought into the NYT's propaganda push that it is a national newspaper - I think this started in the 90s when they started distributing nationally, and now web exposure has dramatically increased the average American's exposure to the NYT. In New Hampshire in the '70s and '80s no one ever questioned the NYT's bias - if you read the Times you were clearly a Democrat, end of story. So I find it kind of funny that people seem outraged to discover liberal bias in the NYT. What next? Wall Street Journal editorials promoting laissez-faire capitalism?

Posted by: vanya at July 12, 2005 05:31 PM

Vanya,

I always thought it was the best newspaper in the entire country. It still is in some ways - the arts coverage has no serious competition. Its recent descent is profoundly disappointing to many people. The fact that it's "liberal" is not the problem, at least not for me. The fact that it's increasingly stupid is.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 12, 2005 05:37 PM

Michael,

I think if there's been a descent in the NYT it is precisely in the Arts coverage - it's really been dumbed down over the last 10 years, especially classical music. Yes, I know there's nothing better out there.
But as far as political stupidity - the NYT will have to go a long way down to get to the level of their awful coverage of the Soviet Union in the 1930s. And, as I think has been pointed out, probably by you, on previous threads, the more you know about a particular topic, the more you realize that even "name" journalists are often fairly lazy and superficial, regardless of their political beliefs. Is the op-ed page worse than in the past? Brooks, Friedman and Dowd are all pretty awful columnists in their own special ways, but at least the NYT has Krugman duck and run for cover

Posted by: vanya at July 12, 2005 05:47 PM

Vanya: the NYT will have to go a long way down to get to the level of their awful coverage of the Soviet Union in the 1930s

That is true. But I was not around for that coverage. The Soviet Union disintegrated before I was old enough to buy a beer.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 12, 2005 06:19 PM

"it's really been dumbed down over the last 10 years"

A niche puplication has to pay very close attention to the median intellectual capability of its target market.

Posted by: Rick Ballard at July 12, 2005 06:21 PM

I've never really understood the blogosphere right-wing's venom toward the NYT.

I'll give you a hint, Vanya. The NYT is the print equivalent of the BBC. Both make very impressive production. Just as Nazis did at Nuremberg.

Posted by: mika. at July 12, 2005 06:25 PM

See what I mean Micheal?
Not yet 20 comments and we already got NYT=Hitler.

Is this what you got into blogging for?

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 12, 2005 06:29 PM

Mika: Just as Nazis did at Nuremberg.

What the hell? That's far more asinine than even what Dick Durbin and Amnesty International said. At least they were talking about a prison. You're talking about a newspaper.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 12, 2005 06:30 PM

Karl Jr: Is this what you got into blogging for?

What's your point, Karl? Wingnuts exist on the Internet? Blogs attract them? Well, yeah. What else is new?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 12, 2005 06:32 PM

Way too far, Mika. As a propaganda organ, the NYT is much closer to Isvestia or Pravda than Der Sturmer.

The main point here is that the critical lense used to formulate articles in the NYT is very old, scratched and blurred by thirty-five years of post modernist treacle. The paper is very tired and needs to be left to die in peace. It's time is past.

Posted by: Rick Ballard at July 12, 2005 06:36 PM

The NYT is the print equivalent of the BBC.

No it is not. The NYT is a privately owned regional newspaper. The BBC is a government owned national broadcaster. Complaining about the Beeb's bias is justifiable since it is supported by taxpayer money. Complaining about the NYT's bias is silly, just don't buy the damn thing if you don't like it. If people want to read the NYT, or the Washington Times, or the Nation or the American Conservative in a free country then that's their business. A lot of people want to hear what the Times is telling them - it's market driven journalism. Like it or hate it I suspect the NYT does a pretty good job of mirroring, and catering to, the general biases of its core readership.

Posted by: vanya at July 12, 2005 06:42 PM

My point michael was that these types of posts seem to feed these people exactly what they want.

"Look at this - isn't this outrageous". Its like ringing Dr. Pavlov's little bell.

You do that with your freak-show posts. And I think with this post you were not only off base, but also over the top. Quite a strech to call her a marxist - but hey, that rings some bells...

Sorry, I dont mean to tell you how to run your blog, but you claim to wish for the growth of the sane center. Maybe you could do that by posting things (as you often do) that get sane people thinking about interesting thoughts, rather than ringing the outrage bell.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 12, 2005 06:43 PM

Way too far, Mika. As a propaganda organ, the NYT is much closer to Isvestia or Pravda than Der Sturmer.

And if you're Jewish, would you bother to discern the difference?

Posted by: mika. at July 12, 2005 06:44 PM

I think you seriously misjudged the opinion piece Michael. I too see nothing there to indicate a view of the war against jihadis as a class war.

Quite the contrary. It seems that she was trying to say that since the struggle is obviously NOT a class war, the images of flaunting wealth seems strangely out-of-place.

You're right, but there's not much point in trying to get in Michael's way when he sees a moral pedestal to climb onto.

Michael doesn't get what Karl Jr. is trying to say, but I do. You see, a week or two back, I pointed out to Michael that even the parts of Iraq not plagued by insurgent/terrorist (pick the term you prefer) violence weren't exactly "free" -- they were being quietly transformed into a de facto Islamic theocracy.

Since Michael makes a big deal about the importance of democraticizing Iraq and opposing Islamic extremism, I thought it was worth bringing to his attention. But, no response. Oh well, I thought, maybe he's doing some research and will post on it in a few days.

But I apparently was wrong. We have, however, seen a raft of posts where he "feeds the outrage machine" by denouncing some obscure leftist comment that no one here would know of if Michael (or a similarly zealous blogger) hadn't brought it up.

This isn't the first time I've had this experience with Michael. The lesson I've learned is that for whatever reason, Michael is either intellectually or intestinally ill-equipped to deal with the hard questions about fighting terrorism and Islamic extremism.

But give him an opportunity for cheap sanctimony, and he's all over it like white on rice.

Posted by: Swopa at July 12, 2005 06:48 PM

My point michael was that these types of posts seem to feed these people exactly what they want.

Michael, what Karl is trying to say is that it's been a while since you've fed Lefties like him something they can chew on. Throw him a bone, dude. Something about Rove or Gitmo or Jerry Falwell.

Posted by: spaniard at July 12, 2005 06:48 PM

"Like it or hate it I suspect the NYT does a pretty good job of mirroring, and catering to, the general biases of its core readership."

I'd say it does an outstanding job, Vanya. What newspapers actually have growing circulation rates? Perhaps the WSJ but I can't think of any others off hand.

The NYT is a well formulated product produced for a specific niche market. It's just not a growing niche.

Posted by: Rick Ballard at July 12, 2005 06:54 PM

Swopa,

Here's an old Chinese saying for you: The finger points at the moon and the fool looks at the finger.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 12, 2005 07:03 PM

they were being quietly transformed into a de facto Islamic theocracy.

I have these very same suspicions. Things are too quiet with the Shia.

Posted by: mika. at July 12, 2005 07:05 PM

"they were being quietly transformed into a de facto Islamic theocracy."

Yeah, I posted a link a few weeks ago as well - to a story (yeah, yeah, NYT) about the burqua-ization of Basra. Combine that with the possibility of the Badr brigades assuming responsibility for security, and you got.....

Unintended consequences?

Certainly not unpredictable.

Now there is something to discuss.........

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 12, 2005 07:17 PM

If Joe Average is going to get his news from a daily newspaper, then which one should he read? I've seen a lot worse than the NYT, regardless of my own opinions. Any suggestions for Joe Average who's only got the daily paper and maybe TV for his news?

Posted by: Kung fu at July 12, 2005 07:20 PM

Oh sorry, did i mention the recent agreement between the Iraqi defense minister and the Iranian government, for the training of the new Iraqi forces?

Nobody seems to be talking about the really interesting (if troubling) things going on in the real world...

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 12, 2005 07:21 PM

spaniard wrote:
-------------
Michael, what Karl is trying to say is that it's been a while since you've fed Lefties like him something they can chew on. Throw him a bone, dude. Something about Rove or Gitmo or Jerry Falwell.
--------------
I would just appreciate a reply to my comments regarding the Hitchens interview (7/6, 8:30pm)

Posted by: Seth Kulick at July 12, 2005 07:22 PM

kc:I missed the part where Boxer said that "Islamist terrorism" is a class war.

We're Not Afraid, set up to show solidarity with London, seems to be turning into a place where the haves of the world can show that they're not afraid of the have-nots.
Posted by Michael J. Totten

I saw that, but Karl Jr.'s interpretation makes as much sense to me.

It was such a trifling piece. But then, I get upset at the trifling garbage that issues from the mouths of CNN talking heads, so I guess I can relate.

Dr Andrew Silke interviewed 180 Al Qaeda detainees and learned, among other things, that every single one of them came from upper or middle-class backgrounds. Two thirds were college educated. One in ten held a post-graduate degree. Islamists terrorists are far wealthier and better educated than Westerners on average.

How many of those detainees were terrorists? Just curious.

We're not under assault by the have-nots, we're under assault by the haves.

Well, I do remember reading about Atta's engineering degree and his lawyer father and so forth.. I don't doubt that a lot of those fanatics are fairly well educated and well-to-do.

I wonder how, then, a program to forcibly "democratize" the ME is supposed to combat that kind of implacable fanaticism.

Posted by: kc at July 12, 2005 07:28 PM

Why would the "haves" attack us?

Robert Pape: "Since suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation and not Islamic fundamentalism, the use of heavy military force to transform Muslim societies over there, if you would, is only likely to increase the number of suicide terrorists coming at us.

Since 1990, the United States has stationed tens of thousands of ground troops on the Arabian Peninsula, and that is the main mobilization appeal of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. People who make the argument that it is a good thing to have them attacking us over there are missing that suicide terrorism is not a supply-limited phenomenon where there are just a few hundred around the world willing to do it because they are religious fanatics. It is a demand-driven phenomenon. That is, it is driven by the presence of foreign forces on the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. The operation in Iraq has stimulated suicide terrorism and has given suicide terrorism a new lease on life."

http://www.amconmag.com/2005_07_18/article.html

Posted by: kc at July 12, 2005 07:34 PM

How many of those detainees were terrorists? Just curious.

Why not take a guess? How many diplomas did Afghanistan or the taliban hand out back then?

Posted by: mika. at July 12, 2005 07:35 PM

Oh sorry, did i mention the recent agreement between the Iraqi defense minister and the Iranian government, for the training of the new Iraqi forces?

Nobody seems to be talking about the really interesting (if troubling) things going on in the real world...

Fortunately, Karl Jr., there are some blogs that have been willing to address the Iran-Iraq subject, including the forces that led to the apparent agreement.

And as it happens, that same blog was addressing the Islamicization of Basra and related events -- and their implications for Iraq's political future -- a full year and a half ago.

I don't know how long it will take Michael to catch up; the poor guy is stuck looking at his finger. Seems that someone told him it was the moon ...

Posted by: Swopa at July 12, 2005 07:55 PM

"That is, it is driven by the presence of foreign forces on the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland."

kc,

The "homeland" for a jihadi is the Ummah, which does not recognize national boundaries. Therefore a Saudi will blow himself in Afghanistan, a British-born jihadi will blow himself up in Israel, etc. As long as there are Western boots on muslim soil, jihadis will explode themselves. Is it your opinion that we should not have a presence anywhere in the Islamic world and that we should be dictated to by terrorists?

Posted by: spaniard at July 12, 2005 07:56 PM

seth,

what's your question.

Posted by: spaniard at July 12, 2005 07:58 PM

Spaniard,
Don't forget the US occupation forces stationed in Europe. Soon to be the reason for jihadi bombings in London, Berlin, etc.

Posted by: mika. at July 12, 2005 08:08 PM

Is it your opinion that we should not have a presence anywhere in the Islamic world and that we should be dictated to by terrorists? - Spaniard, accusingly

What a thing to ask. If you support removing our bases from S.A. to Iraq, does that mean you believe "we should be dictated to by terrorists?"

But I really don't want to play the silly-loaded-question game right now, thanks. I merely posted a statement by an expert about the primary motivating force for suicide bombers. Feel free to refute it with facts, or go ask Mr. Pape your questions.

Posted by: kc at July 12, 2005 08:14 PM

Ho-hum. Remember "freedom fries"? Is there a market for "Ham-burquas"? Just a fancy way to dress up your Maccas! Regards.

Posted by: Grinna at July 12, 2005 08:17 PM

Jeez, lots of people jumping down Michael's throat just for pointing out foolish, low-level class-war mongering in the mainstream media. Trifling article or not, I appreciate someone taking the time to ferret out this kind of nonsense and give it a brisk round of criticism, for I certainly don't get around to reading the NYT or most other MSM under my own power.

So I guess I don't get most of the jeering going on here. You all are PO'd at MJT for critiquing an article that you think he shouldn't waste time on, yet you're taking the time to critique his critique? Look, take apart his criticisms if you want to, but telling him to refrain from criticizing at all--argh; the circular illogic of it hurts my brain.

But give him an opportunity for cheap sanctimony, and he's all over it like white on rice.

Now I'm curious: what would high-class sanctimony look like, swopa?

Posted by: Rose Nunez at July 12, 2005 08:20 PM

Kc,

then don't address my question to you (I know, that whole appeasement thing is a tough one). Address instead my response to your expert. Whose "homeland" is the British-born jihadi liberating when he explodes himself in Israel?

Posted by: spaniard at July 12, 2005 08:23 PM

Swopa,

If you genuinely want me to write about something specific, don't be an ass about it. I don't tell you what to write about on your blog. I'm certainly not going to over there and give you a bunch of crap if you criticize some right-wing nut who deserves it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 12, 2005 08:52 PM

Michael's post and the Apostolou link, among lots of other evidence, is proof ( as if we needed it ) that this so-called WOT has little if anything to do with poverty and everything to do with hatred of Israel and Western civilization in general. If the "educated wealthy Muslims" want to kill us, then how can we possibly do anything other than try to kill them first ?

And what is a "moderate" Muslim ? Someone who is kinda sorta against terrorism ? Or does a moderate Muslim merely favor jihad by peaceful means - the slow, peaceful death of the West ? Does a "moderate" Muslim prefer a 15th century interpretation of Islam, rather than the 7th century version that the terrorists want to impose on the planet ? I prefer the 21st century myself, and I would like to believe that most Muslims do also, but where is the mass Muslim outrage over these monsterous acts done in the name of their faith ?

This is not a war on terror. Terror is a method. We do not go to war against methods. This is a war against Islamic fascism. But we dare not call it that, because if we do so, we might offend the "moderate" Muslims. But it is only the so-called moderate Muslims who can prevent this from becoming a war of civilizations. Islam is what Muslims say it is, not what non-Muslims say it is.

How can we possibly win this war when we will not even face the facts ?

Posted by: freeguy at July 12, 2005 09:02 PM

And what is a "moderate" Muslim ? Someone who is kinda sorta against terrorism?

It would seem to be an obvious question that nobody is asking. I suspect that the term "moderate muslim" may not be moderate as we understand that term here in the West.

Back in my Lib college days, I had half a dozen muslim friends from wealthy elite families in Pakistan and Kuwait. They were educated and moderate, and spoke fine British english-- although they were religious, they were not fanatical. I suppose I was an infidel to them, but it wasn't an issue as far as our friendship. Then the fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie, and I was shocked and amazed to my Liberal core when they cheered it and insisted he deserved death for writing his book. My jaw dropped, I couldn't believe these fanatics were the same chums I loved and cared for. These were educated elite moderate muslims-- yet scratch the surface and out comes the jihadi. In retrospect I have come to understand that the term "moderate" as applied to islam only begs the question.

Posted by: spaniard at July 12, 2005 09:19 PM

Like it or hate it I suspect the NYT does a pretty good job of mirroring, and catering to, the general biases of its core readership

I grew up in the NYC area, and for me, reading the Sunday New York Times was almost a religion. Sundays weren't complete without the Times, a bagel and coffee. It was more than a newspaper for a kid whose week could be ruined if the Book Review section was missing.

Things change. I first started to notice that the Times was sliding downhill during the '90's, when I read their tech section. It was about six months behind the San Jose Mercury News. In the '90's, six months was a lifetime.

The Times' political coverage is even worse. Some of these reporters still think that this is still Vietnam and others, like this Boxer doofus, think that Chomsky-style anti-Globalism is ultra-bleeding edge. Like Chomsky, Boxer thinks that the West must repent, repent for its sins - because if we don't, we're 'provoking' the have-nots.

As a news source, the Times lags behind the New York Sun, and even the New York Post. For someone who used to love the paper, it's sad to see.

Posted by: mary at July 12, 2005 09:24 PM

Freeguy: And what is a "moderate" Muslim ? Someone who is kinda sorta against terrorism ? Or does a moderate Muslim merely favor jihad by peaceful means - the slow, peaceful death of the West ?

You realize, don't you, that far more moderate Muslims than Westerners have been murdered by jihadists?

You realize, don't you, that most people in Iran want to hang the fascist mullahs from cranes and live like Americans?

You realize, don't you, that Afghans cheered us when the Taliban was demolished?

You realize, don't you, that tens of thousands of liberal and moderate Muslims were murdered by Salafis in Algeria?

You realize, don't you, that those being killed by Islamists in Darfur are Muslims?

You realize, don't you, that thousands of Iraqis have been murdered by Al Qaeda death squads in the last year?

Must I go on in this vein?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 12, 2005 09:25 PM

Michael,

Very good points. Thanks for those reminders. I just wish we would see more vocal condemnation of Islamic terrorism by Muslims IN the West. In one respect I find it odd that the terrorists are mostly the affluent and "educated". It is easy to think that if educated Muslims are against us, then there is no hope. On the other hand, maybe what all of this really demostrates is that these affluent, "educated" Muslims are just trying to tap the frustrations of the Muslim masses as a means to place themselves at the pennacle of power in a fascist state, and really don't give a damn about Islam, the caliphate, or anything else.

It is indeed interesting, and hopeful, that those Muslims who seem to be most in support of freedom are those who have not yet tasted it. Maybe the so-called "ignorant" Muslims are smarter than we think. Maybe the yearning for liberty is indeed universal. Let's hope so. And I hope enough of them understand that it is US, and not the Islamic terrorists, who are on their side. Even more reason that we must destroy these bastards ASAP.

Posted by: freeguy at July 12, 2005 09:44 PM

Michael, I just want some clarity. Is this a moderate muslim?:

"Charles Moore of London's Daily Telegraph cited a very disturbing example of this tendency: The day after Thursday's attacks, the imam of the East London mosque, Mohammed Abdul Bari, stood beside the Anglican bishop of Stepney to condemn the London bombings. "But if you look up Mohammed Abdul Bari, you find that he welcomed to the opening of the London Muslim Centre Sheikh Abdul Rahman al Sudais, the Saudi-government-appointed imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca," Moore notes. "In Mecca two years ago, al Sudais described Jews as 'scum of the earth,' 'rats of the world' and 'monkeys and pigs who should be annihilated.' Yet, criticize al Sudais, and Mohammed Abdul Bari leaps furiously to his defence."

http://frum.nationalreview.com/

Posted by: spaniard at July 12, 2005 09:44 PM

Must I go on in this vein?

If you must.

But you missing a crucial psychological ingredient Michael. An abused wife, still will prefer to sleep with her abusing husband, as opposed to her husband's brother. And you're nowhere related. You don't belong to this family called the Ummah.

Posted by: mika. at July 12, 2005 10:01 PM

"I just wish we would see more vocal condemnation of Islamic terrorism by Muslims IN the West."

Mark Steyn pointed out that immediately after the attack in London, Islamist groups said they feared a backlash against muslims and called for restraint.

Though Mark, as usual, made some very good points I think he missed one: That this call for restraint in reality is meant to intimidate muslims into silence. After all, if someone who supposedly has your interests in mind is worried about retaliation, then your instinct is to be quiet and pretend you aren't there. These groups are basically telling muslims to shutup and stay out of it.

Posted by: Syl at July 12, 2005 10:02 PM

Spaniard: Michael, I just want some clarity. Is this a moderate muslim?

No. You want to see what moderate Muslims look like? Go here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 12, 2005 10:12 PM

Also, Spaniard, what do you think of the Muslims of Kurdistan? And Mali? And Tunisia? And Iran (not the regime, but the people)? Don't they count, too? Not everyone out there is a Wahhabi or Salafi reactionary.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 12, 2005 10:15 PM

After 9/11, we didn't hear a lot of anti-terror protests from moderate Muslims. Part of the reason is that a great many Muslims live in repressive societies where a)publicly airing any such sentiment can easily get one killed, and/or b) there is no free press to tell them that the Jews and Bush were not behind the WTC attacks, and thus have no reason to protest against Islamist attacks that, by their knowledge, didn't happen.

Part of the reason may be selective Western journalism; maybe there has been more public outcry against the Jihadis (in places other than Afghanistan and Iraq) than the nightly news leads us to believe. Is the paucity of anti-terror sentiment from the world's mosques real, or are there a lot more, like that one in Spain that put a fatwa on terrorists, whose leadership is openly defiant of Islamist terrorism?

Part of the reason is undoubtedly the prominence of CAIR. Its dismissal of real terror threats, exaggeration of anti-Islamic backlash, and other ventures into moonbattery are counterproductive to American-Islamic relations. There's an apparent lack of prominent sane Muslims to counteract CAIR's bad PR. Guilt-by-association is still popular in the 20th century.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at July 12, 2005 10:45 PM

Oh, I forgot all about one other detriment to American-Islamic relations: the "teacher's pet effect" that rained down from the Koran-flushing story. A lot of people are incensed that the same government that subsidizes sacrilegious art will bend over backwards to respect the Koran. Think a "Piss Mohammad" exhibit would earn an NEA grant in this day and age?

(I wouldn't want it funded, just because I don't support government funding of any private-sector luxuries such as art or broadcasting.)

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at July 12, 2005 11:12 PM

"We're Not Afraid, set up to show solidarity with London, seems to be turning into a place where the haves of the world can show that they're not afraid of the have-nots."

Let's break it down for the folks who aren't getting this.

"haves of the world" = people posting on the site, especially those showing off material possessions.

"have nots of the world" = the people who want us to be afraid of them, i.e. the terrorists.

She is explicitly saying this in the sentence. Michel J. Totten is correct in his analysis.

Posted by: Aaron at July 12, 2005 11:34 PM

Okay, I guess she could just be making a general point that the Haves are "showing off" and thus not afraid of "the have nots in general."

It's not a very interesting point though.

Posted by: Aaron at July 12, 2005 11:39 PM

I'm not one of those who likes to pick on the NYT, but I swear it seems like they're asking for it. If the Islamofascists are so poor, where do they get the money to finance their terrorist campaigns. As you said, Mike, these terrorists are often educated, upper-middle class types. The poor people are the ones exploited by the dictators these terrorists support.

Like I said, I don't want to pick on the Times, but stupid shit has to be called what it is.

Posted by: Rafique Tucker at July 13, 2005 12:05 AM

I'm not one of those who likes to pick on the NYT, but I swear it seems like they're asking for it. If the Islamofascists are so poor, where do they get the money to finance their terrorist campaigns. As you said, Mike, these terrorists are often educated, upper-middle class types. The poor people are the ones exploited by the dictators these terrorists support.

Like I said, I don't want to pick on the Times, but stupid shit has to be called what it is.

Posted by: Rafique Tucker at July 13, 2005 12:06 AM

Boxer's a nasty piece of work. She was the one who wrote that thing about Iraq the Model, right? Fortunately she's in the style section, they do know better than to let her do real reporting.

Posted by: Katherine at July 13, 2005 12:43 AM

Katherine: She was the one who wrote that thing about Iraq the Model, right?

Yep. She wrote "that thing." (I like your characterization of it.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 13, 2005 01:01 AM

Okay Mike-- Name the leftists that are claiming that Islamic terrorism is class war. Name some names.

Posted by: drydock at July 13, 2005 01:02 AM

"Hey, terrorists, have a bag of bothered." Yes, frivolity has arrived.

The point of the article is to trivialize the normal, middle class people's anger responses to terror, including the mocking of those who show off their still great freedom.

Michael was exactly correct that it's a Marxist haves vs. have nots underlying analysis, but he's missing the PC "moral superiority" of those who would never be frivolous about their response to terror.

[How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? -- One, and it's NOT funny.] [Oh wait, ChimpHitlerBush humor is always OK, and it's just a joke, never really serious.]

The pompous Times, like pompous PC Bush bashers, is always on the lookout for ways to make those inferior red state type folk look ridiculous, look wrong, look uncaring.

The NYT, from the headquarters city of NBC, CBS, ABC, is the single most influential source in defining what "Political Correctness" is, and it takes its evangelization seriously -- when fighting Bush, er, terror, there's no room for frivolity.

Michael, you're wrong about it being just a newspaper:"reading the Sunday New York Times was almost a religion" -Mary
For many agnostic/ atheists PC is a substitute religion.

And the PC media has real world effects; like hounding out of office Nixon the liar; or getting the US to leave Vietnam. The MSM provide facts to support a policy. In that case American injustice (My Lai, Cambodia bombing) and impossibility of victory=hopelessness, in order to create a public demand for "US OUT NOW". The result of that policy was genocide in SE Asia. (A media supported genocide which they refuse to accept any responsibility for supporting.)

Actual fighting includes human mistakes, killing innocent people; war is hell. Supporting the fight requires one to accept that it means supporting your side killing some innocents. . Leftists often complain that America is not perfect (true), therefore the unspoken alternative is better (often false).

I think the educated suicide bombers are also enraged that humans are not perfect, and have an unrealistic dream of Sharia Utopia, very analogous to the Leftist dream of Socialist Utopia, and requiring similar degrees of thought and action control by the "enlightened ones."
Those who, like the Taliban or Iranian mullahs (or some NYT writers), have no time for, and no tolerance of, normal human frivolity.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at July 13, 2005 01:19 AM

Drydock, ALL who say the "root causes of terrorism" include poverty, are basically saying that it's class war. And they're wrong, and it's stupid, but they keep saying it.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at July 13, 2005 01:24 AM

Hitch on Jefferson and his deliberately unspoken Pursuit of Happiness seems relevant, too.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at July 13, 2005 01:31 AM

It's silly, but humorous, to see both right and left wingers flaming over such trifles, then scratching their heads over it.
For those expecting 'straight' coverage from the NYT or WSJ, then expecting same from blogs, what are you thinking?
At least news outlets can give just straight reportage. Blogs are not investigative tools, but Op-Ed pages, and politically they have only one of 3 places to fall: Left Wing loons, Right Wing radicals, or schizoid so-called centrists, with the last category usually Right Wingers claiming to be centrists or Left Wingers to siphon off readers from those disgusted by the blatant extremists. Other names who occupy this niche that Totten does are Jeff Jarvis, Dean Esmay and Instapundit.
Their existence is based solely upon sanctimony, and feeding the predictable outrage, and to whine of it is as silly as expecting 'deep' posts, or some of the other hopes some have expressed.
It's simply a circus and don't complain of the seltzer down your pants.

Posted by: Dan Schneider at July 13, 2005 05:37 AM

At least news outlets can give just straight reportage. Blogs are not investigative tools, but Op-Ed pages, and politically they have only one of 3 places to fall: Left Wing loons, Right Wing radicals, or schizoid so-called centrists..

Quelle postmodernist angst. It’s like you’re above it all or something.

Oh, the sanctimony, the predictable outrage, the humanity. I guess, in your outré interpretation of the world, anyone who doesn’t fit into predictable patterns of left and right is a "schizoid so-called centrist". And if they’re not lefty enough for you, they’re clowns?

Funny, I thought these G8 protesters were the clowns.

Posted by: mary at July 13, 2005 06:11 AM

Okay Mike-- Name the leftists that are claiming that Islamic terrorism is class war. Name some names.

Drydock,

I don't have any names off the top of my head except for the Libs I know personally, and yes, they essentially view terrorism as all marxists are trained from birth to view human conflict-- it's about "poverty", western imperialism and oppression, etc. blah blah blah.

Posted by: spaniard at July 13, 2005 06:32 AM

Swopa,
I appreciate you writing on the topic. But do you have any links to Iraqi blogs that deal with Sistani's ascribed stealth Khomeinism? I'd like to read a perspective a little closer to the source.

Posted by: mika. at July 13, 2005 07:05 AM

Swopa,

I pointed out to Michael that even the parts of Iraq not plagued by insurgent/terrorist (pick the term you prefer) violence weren't exactly "free" -- they were being quietly transformed into a de facto Islamic theocracy.

That's a pretty ridiculous statement. These areas are still holding elections even if some are tending toward sharia law, and even that's certainly not happening in Kurdish areas.

Democracy is a process. If Iraqis don't like sharia, they can elect people who will put a stop to it. As long as the democratic process is respected, it's not remotely a theocracy.

Basra won't become Berkeley overnight, but it ain't Tehran by a long shot.

Posted by: TallDave at July 13, 2005 07:09 AM

drydock:Okay Mike-- Name the leftists that are claiming that Islamic terrorism is class war. Name some names.

Deepak Chopra, Huffington Post:

"Terrorism also festers because of... deep economic disparities. Twenty thousand children died yesterday of hunger-related causes around the world, twenty thousand will die today, and twenty thousand tomorrow."

I could find about a hundred more citations, if you really want, from Chomsky to Moore.

Posted by: TallDave at July 13, 2005 07:44 AM

Rick Ballard
"The paper is very tired and needs to be left to die in peace. It's time is past."

You really think that the NYT is beyond saving? Personally I don't think its gone that far just yet, though it is getting closer, I think it could still be pulled back from total oblivion. Of course, I always hate to see old organisations that used to be great die, so maybe I'm just kidding myself.

Posted by: sam at July 13, 2005 07:48 AM

More on the situation in Basra - from the Christian Science Monitor.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0713/p01s01-wome.html?s=eee

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 13, 2005 07:52 AM

I always hate to see old organisations that used to be great die

Again I have to ask - when was this so called golden age of the NYT that conservatives seem to believe in. Was it in the 1930s when the NYT was claiming that Stalin was a wise ruler beloved by his people? Was it in the 1970s when radical leftists like Chomsky got a lot more attention than they do now? Or maybe the 80s when the NYT was ridiculing Reagan as a crazed war monger? Oh, sorry, it must have been the 1990s when the paper went on a ridiculous goose chase to try to prove the Whitewater deal was actually a real scandal rather than a very minor real-estate deal. Or 2000 when the NYT devoted reams of newsprint to Al Gore's sartorial choices in order to ridicule him. I suppose that counts as good journalism if you prefer partisan politics to discussion of actual issues. The NYT is not really conservative or liberal - it is simply smug and elitist. It always will be.

Posted by: vanya at July 13, 2005 08:04 AM

"The NYT is not really conservative or liberal - it is simply smug and elitist."

To be precise - it is somewhat liberal on social issues, rather right-wing on economic issues. IOW, the precise mix that you would expect from a big city corporate enterprise. I always had them pegged as occupying the place on the spectrum that we used to call "Rockefeller republicanism".
(of course, the Rockefeller republicans have long since been purged from the GOP...)

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 13, 2005 08:36 AM

Drydock: Okay Mike-- Name the leftists that are claiming that Islamic terrorism is class war. Name some names.

Sarah Boxer. She is who this post is about. Can you read?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 13, 2005 08:41 AM

Note the last three or four grafs on Karl Jr.'s CSM article. Brackets and bold emphasis mine.

The majority of religious party members are horrified by these assassinations. [Killings by followers of al Sadr, or perhaps agents of the Iranian mullahcracy.] Moreover, many are sincere in their efforts to improve the squalid conditions in which many Basrans live. "We realize we have to accomplish something to benefit the people," says SCIRI spokesman Alaa Turej. "That is our responsibility to Basra."

But it may be too late. Many Basrans, tired of the increasing "Iranification" of their city and a lack of basic services, plan to vote in December for secular candidates, such as those headed by former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Failing an electoral upset, these critics of the religious parties hope time will end their reign.

"I'm confident these parties will vanish once our economy picks up and the true nature of Basra reasserts itself," adds Samir, the newspaper editor. "Until then, I will continue to watch my words regarding these people."

Sometimes it helps to read to the end.

Posted by: Browning Porter at July 13, 2005 08:53 AM

Well, Basra is not Iraq. And Iraq is not Basra:

The funny thing is that in Kurdistan you can find restaurants and shops named after American cities like Washington Restaurant or Miami Jeans Store and stuff like that, you can even find American flags at jewelry shops along with crosses, Quranic verses, hearts and evil-kicking turquoise stones!
.
.
It was obvious that Sulaymania is a more modern city than Erbil or Duhok but the most impressive thing I saw was the amount of construction taking place over there; it was literally enormous and it was as if there is a building rising between every other two buildings.
.
.
One very interesting thing I saw in Sulaymaniya was that I could find liquor at groceries; something extremely rare in Iraq as liquor is usually sold at specialized stores.
.
.
I have to admit that this is the highest rate of construction one can find in the whole country and the streets and market places were so busy and crowded especially in the late afternoon and early evening when the sun starts to go down and the weather cools down a bit.
.
.
http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com

Posted by: mika. at July 13, 2005 08:54 AM

Well, Basra is not Iraq. And Iraq is not Basra:

The funny thing is that in Kurdistan you can find restaurants and shops named after American cities like Washington Restaurant or Miami Jeans Store and stuff like that, you can even find American flags at jewelry shops along with crosses, Quranic verses, hearts and evil-kicking turquoise stones!
.
.
It was obvious that Sulaymania is a more modern city than Erbil or Duhok but the most impressive thing I saw was the amount of construction taking place over there; it was literally enormous and it was as if there is a building rising between every other two buildings.
.
.
One very interesting thing I saw in Sulaymaniya was that I could find liquor at groceries; something extremely rare in Iraq as liquor is usually sold at specialized stores.
.
.
I have to admit that this is the highest rate of construction one can find in the whole country and the streets and market places were so busy and crowded especially in the late afternoon and early evening when the sun starts to go down and the weather cools down a bit.
.
.
http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com

Posted by: mika. at July 13, 2005 08:54 AM

Love the comment. "Dumb as a sack of hammers" My Father used a similar term when he was dealing with stupidity. Term used by him was "Hammerhead". I think it was old terminology that his father, who came from the "Old Country" brought with him or maybe it came from the Pensylvania coal mines where Dad was a worker a good part of his life.

Keep up the wonderful posts, the “Hammerheads” who are “Picking the fly-shit out of the pepper” do it just to hear themselves, not to say anything that means something.

Posted by: gene at July 13, 2005 09:03 AM

Sometimes it helps to read to the end. - Browning Porter

Until these people vote them out, Karl makes a valid point:
"Until then, I will continue to watch my words regarding these people."

Posted by: mika. at July 13, 2005 09:04 AM

Thanks for pointing that out, Browning. I bring this up constantly to people claiming democracy in the Mideast will lead to Islamic radicals being elected. OK, but how long will they keep getting elected on a platform of endless poverty and misery? Looks like the answer is: not long.

As Lincoln said, "You can fool all of the poeple some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."

Posted by: TallDave at July 13, 2005 09:06 AM

"Sometimes it helps to read to the end. - Browning Porter"

What kind of a stupid crack is that Browning? I read the piece to the end - what do you think those last paragraphs are saying? That the situation outlined in the rest of the article isnt really happening?
All the last paragraphs say is that some people are damned unhappy about what is happening.
Duh.

And some of them hope to be able to drive that fundies out.
Obviously.

And if they fail, then they hope, against hope, that over time they will fade away.

Thats really encourageing isnt it!!!
I'm sure there are a hell of a lot of people like that in Iran that have been hoping the same thing for the last 25 years.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 13, 2005 09:15 AM

Well, the whole declining rate of profit thing never lead to the necessity (re: scientific) proletariat revolution so your right... the left has stopped courting the workers and now goes after every alienated group they can find (mainly based on race, class, and gender)... To do so, they parrot drivel like this…

Posted by: Thomas at July 13, 2005 09:21 AM

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 13, 2005 08:41 AM
"Sarah Boxer. She is who this post is about. Can you read?"

You can add anyone talking about imperalism. That's just crypto for class war.

Posted by: Thomas at July 13, 2005 09:23 AM

Tall Dave says how long will (radical islamists) keep getting elected on a platform of endless poverty and misery?

You underestimate politicians. The radicals will run on a traditional values, anti-elitist platform, much like Rick Santorum, and they will win. If Iraqi attitudes are similar to Russian or Iranian attitudes, and I suspect they are, the poorer less educated people will be very cynical about political promises of wealth and prosperity. In the Middle East "wealth creation" means my uncle took the wealth from you and gave it to me, in the best case, or vice-versa in the worst. The idea that every one can get richer in a market economy takes a long time to penetrate, even in the US I doubt if a majority of the population really understands the concept. Unfortunately Iraqis in large numbers will probably gladly vote for someone who promises to take the new rich entrepreneurs down a peg and "fight corruption", which in 3rd world ecnomies is too often a code for "expropriate wealth from people who are doing too well."

Posted by: vanya at July 13, 2005 09:33 AM

It always seems funny to watch History paint wars as struggles between the haves and have nots. The American Revolution was concieved, started, run and profited the haves... the have nots ate shoes and died a lot.

The French Revolution was concieved and run by the haves, the have-nots got to be the cannon fodder. Even all the way back to the middle ages, there were a couple Knights on horseback out in the fight (they were the haves), then there were a bunch of barely armed and armored peasents (the have nots). The Haves tended to be impenetrable tanks which could rain down death from above, the peasents tended to look like entrants in a medieval "Whack a Mole" game.

It seems only rarely that the have nots actually get up the nerve to do something. The hell rained down by the Goths were the acts of desperate men (one documentary stated "When you bury your second child due to starvation, and you've already eaten the family dog... you might think about revolution."

The Have-Nots seem usually too pre-occupied with staying alive (1st circuit consciousness) to worry about the territorial disputes (2nd), semantic wrangling (3rd) and social dogfights (4th). Perhaps only when our basic conscious needs are satisfied do we have the time to wander about in political warmongering....

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at July 13, 2005 09:47 AM

Thanks, Mary, for illustrating my point, since you do not understand what postmodernism is, nor why it fails. But centrists can be true centrists, rather than schizoids sans depth- there are a number of blogs out there that truly play it down the line, the biggest being Joe Gandelman's Moderate Voice.
A quick comparison of just the tone of his posts and those of his respondents illustrates the vast difference. There simply is less of the sniping and strutting than that which you indulge in here, or the other bloggers solicit.
Quelle well belle.

Posted by: Dan Schneider at July 13, 2005 09:54 AM

Excellent points, Squirrel.
It reminds me of some of the documentaries produced in the 1960s or 70s on 3rd World Countries that were deemed 'important' in the Cold War, and when the peasants were asked were they pro-Soviet or pro-American their reply was usually along the lines of, 'Who can get here first and feed us?' Such callow and shallow realpolitik is why much of the world is the way it is- and it's far beyond the Left-Right axis, but try to make that sexy to your typical reader of a newspaper or a blog.
It is always the powerful- nations, classes, militaries, that squabble over things. The working and lower classes, with much rectitude, see the little differences between the evils.

Posted by: Dan Schneider at July 13, 2005 10:04 AM

Vanya: You underestimate politicians.

You underestimate voters. Rich, comfortable, free Americans tired of the secular assault on Christianity might buy the values idea; Iraqi women being forced to wear veils to avoid beatings will not.

The idea that every one can get richer in a market economy takes a long time to penetrate.... in 3rd world ecnomies is too often a code for "expropriate wealth from people who are doing too well."

All too true. But the Iraqis writing the constitution understand the need for property rights and the like, and Iraq does have a rising middle class. And remember, Iraq is experiencing an incredible economic boom even amid the ongoing violence.

Posted by: TallDave at July 13, 2005 10:15 AM

"It is always the powerful- nations, classes, militaries, that squabble over things. The working and lower classes, with much rectitude, see the little differences between the evils."

Tosk's points, and these, are valid, but I think they miss out on one element of the story. Especially since the rise of industrialized societies, the ability of the elites to recruit poor folk (as soldiers) to their cause is often determinate. That is why elites are somewhat required to adopt policies that offer the lower classes something in return for their loyalty (to act as "champions of the people"), or to use the real existent class distinctions to gin up support for their cause.
The elites may be driving the conflicts, but the winner will often be the ones that can instill enthusiasm in a larger part of the general populace.
Not unlike political wars in democracies.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 13, 2005 10:22 AM

Jihad is about subjugation and domination. It isn't about the lifestyle of the rich famous.

Posted by: mika. at July 13, 2005 10:33 AM

"You can be dumb as a sack of hammers and still make it all the way to the New York Times."

All part of the job qualifications, I suspect.

Posted by: at July 13, 2005 11:04 AM

Karl Jr., excellent thoughts. The democrats have often used that exact tactic to pull minorities votes, the Republicans recently used similar tactics to pull votes from rural (extremely pro-gun, pro-religion etc). I have cousins and a couple uncles that have always been pro-democrat (cause they think that Dem's somehow are going to make them less poor) Now they're pro-republican (because they think the dem's are gonna make them less Christian). The arguments seem so similar it's nearly laughable.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at July 13, 2005 11:37 AM

In reading Sarah Boxer, then the collectivists' posting here dancing around the facts, and then the recasting of arguments in terms of false consciousness (the all-purpose handy-dandy tool to explain why the proletariat just won't listen), all support the hypothesis that Collectivism fills the void left by the rejection of Religion. I mean, all the bad old habits that come with the acceptance of received wisdom are right here, plain as daylight.

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 13, 2005 11:40 AM

Is sniping and strutting indulged in here?

Here’s a good example…

It's simply a circus and don't complain of the seltzer down your pants

A bloated sense of irony, deconstruction, kitsch – smells like postmodernism to me.

But I agree, Joe has a great blog.

Posted by: mary at July 13, 2005 11:51 AM

...and when the peasants were asked were they pro-Soviet or pro-American their reply was usually along the lines of, 'Who can get here first and feed us?'

Actually, some of us are Libertarians (and de facto supporters of Capitalist economic models) because we believe it's the best system yet developed to deliver food to the masses. (Libertarianism: It's Not Just for Amoral Hedonists).

It will be a much better world when the number one health problem of the poor everywhere is obesity, IMHO.

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 13, 2005 11:54 AM

It will be a much better world when the number one health problem of the poor everywhere is obesity, IMHO.

It will be an economically healthier world, but not an aesthetically pleasing one.

Posted by: vanya at July 13, 2005 12:12 PM

No fatties!

Posted by: Mike#3or4 at July 13, 2005 12:28 PM

It will be a much better world when the number one health problem of the poor everywhere is obesity, IMHO."

Then America must be some kind of utopia:

The poor are fat slobs

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/richlowry/rl20030121.shtml

Posted by: spaniard at July 13, 2005 01:03 PM

Spaniard,

I would guess that mosbunall "poor" in America and mosbunall "poor" in sub-saharan Africa appear as very different people indeed. Ya know, 'poor' might be a relative term.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at July 13, 2005 01:15 PM

If "dumb as a sack of hammers" is offensive to hammers, try the following alternative: "dumb as a bag of football bats."

I also like Weird Al's "dumber than a box of hair" but my personal favorite is the simple and pithy "dumb as a brick."

Posted by: B. Durbin at July 13, 2005 01:45 PM

How about "dumb as a domesticated primate, trapped in a dogmatic belief system"?

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at July 13, 2005 01:58 PM

>>>"Ya know, 'poor' might be a relative term."

Indeed. In other words "poor" means something in sub-saharan Africa, and it hardly means anything at all here in America.

Here in America it's not rich vs poor but simply people with tons of stuff vs people without tons of stuff.

Posted by: spaniard at July 13, 2005 02:15 PM

"some of us are Libertarians (and de facto supporters of Capitalist economic models) because we believe it's the best system yet developed to deliver food to the masses"

But it clearly isn't Mark.

Libertarian capitalism was a wonderful system for the enrichment of elites. But it was an absolutely horrendous system for the rest of the people. In fact, one can look upon the history of the 20th century as one long series of experiments to find a better economic model - since it was apparent to almost everyone that libertarian capitalism was terrible.

We are so fortunate here in America that we had a movement extending over several decades, encompassing the leading politicians of both parties (with prominent roles by both Roosvelts), and even enlightened capitalists, like Henry Ford, to devise a system of reformed and regulated capitalism - a system which did NOT follow the strict logic of pure capitalism - i.e. treating workers as mere factors in a marketplace model.

It was precisely these reforms, that recognize the human nature of workers, and which sought to build a strong and prosperous middle class (something that does not flow naturally and necessarily from pure capitalist theory) that has led us to the prosperity that we now enjoy.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 13, 2005 02:34 PM

Late to the party but did read through most of the posts and a few thoughts:

Definitely many leftists are under the illusion that this is class warfare. I've posted a link to the Lee Harris article on the Barran-Wallerstein revision of classical Marxist theory here several times - which posits that America is responsible for "global immiseration".

Here's the link again: Marx without the realism

Note a central point in the article which is that even brutal 3rd world dictators (such as Saddam) are viewed as victims of American capitalist imperialism, which would explain the left's sympathy for the guy. Re naming names of leftists who espouse this viewpoint - besides Noam Chomsky (mentioned earlier in the thread, who is the premiere western leftist example), Ward Churchill is an obvious case. It's why he referred to the WTC victims as "little Eichmann's".

It goes further than that though. Political correctness itself is a variant of the same ideology - it is "Cultural Marxism". If anyone objects to that characterization, I'll google some articles in support of it.

Re this particular NYT article that Michael cited, I will agree with the point of many on the left posting here that there isn't much point in bothering with such a post merely to shed light on the lunatic fringes. It would be more helpful to develop the post into a discussion of to what degree class warfare actually does figure into the global WOT, even if it figures merely as a serious perception rather than than a fact. In Europe especially, many young radical Islamists have aligned with Marxist-type European lefties in viewing this as a class struggle. It might behoove us to understand their precise arguments so as to be able to factually refute them.

Re Swopa's (I believe) complaints that more posts could be devoted to the threat of Bush's democratization plan for the ME possibly leading to the deleterious result of tyranny in another form - namely Islamists taking power - I definitely agree, although I get the impression that Swopa is perhaps concerned with scoring political points in pointing it out. But without a doubt this is potentially very serious consequence of the Bush gamble (and it WAS a gamble). I supported the war but I would be the first to say if that is what we get for all the blood and treasure expended - it wasn't worth it. It simply wasn't. As brutal as it sounds, it's enough to make one understand how Saddam came to power in the first place.

There's much talk and debate about the pros and cons of drawing down our forces there. If we can agree on one thing across the political spectrum, I hope we can agree that we have to guarantee that Iraqis will have several election cycles to reconsider the wisdom of their initial choices (of Islamist candidates), as someone pointed out above re what is happening in Basra. I don't how how many of our troops might be required to assure that but I think that is primarily the thing we need to see through and see through aggressively. If several years from now the Iraqis are still electing Islamists, then well - personally - I give up. Time for a big wall I guess.

Posted by: Caroline at July 13, 2005 03:28 PM

Good post, Caroline.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at July 13, 2005 03:41 PM

Vanya,

"Complaining about the NYT's bias is silly, just don't buy the damn thing if you don't like it. If people want to read the NYT, or the Washington Times, or the Nation or the American Conservative in a free country then that's their business. A lot of people want to hear what the Times is telling them - it's market driven journalism. Like it or hate it I suspect the NYT does a pretty good job of mirroring, and catering to, the general biases of its core readership. "

True, but one would hope that there would be pride in being such an important American institution (i.e. the most famous newspaper being printed in the country.) I think they could make a better effort of reflecting the spectrum of political discourse without losing their liberal readership. And who knows, they might win over readers of the Manchester Union Leader. Newspapers should at least strive not to be echo chambers.

The big difference between the Times and other newspapers is that the NYT supports big salaries and staff which gives them the luxury to do some serious analysis, not just beat reporting. It could make a huge contribution to national debate if it wanted. Columnists like Maureen Dowd clearly don't.

An aside: IMHO, Joe's blog is a great news portal, but he does not have MJT's analytical skills.

Posted by: bob at July 13, 2005 03:55 PM

Oh yeah - one more point I want to make and I've made it too many times and this is perhaps one time too many.

Yes - It is about Islam. Isn't it really rather arrogant and culturally elitist to pretend otherwise? To pretend that Islamists are waging war on us because of something WE HAVE DONE TO THEM? Whether that thing we have done is 'globally emisserate' people, or defend Israel, or proselitize Christianity in the East, or 'torture' people at Gitmo, or touch some Korans without gloves? Really - how arrogant can we get? Isn't it rather racist and elitist and presumptuous to imagine that other people in the world are merely our pawns (victims are pawns too!) and are incapable of developing a competing ideology of human meaning and conduct that is utterly at odds with the one we have developed?

It completely overlooks that there are a whole lot of supereducated folks in the ME (and supereducated in the west now and living within our borders) who have utter contempt on an IDEOLOGICAL level for our values. The problem is Islam. It's not a sufficient cause for terrorism but it is a necessary one (every single one of them tells us loud and clear that they are waging JIHAD. Why does the left in particular refuse to hear what they are saying?). Look at this crop of youngsters responsible for the London bombings. Normal guys, enjoy sports, all their neighbors are shocked. Yada yada yada. How many times do we need to hear about this same scenario to grasp that the example of Muhammed - the founder of Islam - will perpetually serve as a siren call, in times of emotional crisis or merely existential ennui - for those raised in the Muslim faith?

Posted by: Caroline at July 13, 2005 04:01 PM

In the Middle East "wealth creation" means my uncle took the wealth from you and gave it to me, in the best case, or vice-versa in the worst.

No surprise. People who don't live in free economies generally associate wealth creation with something other than voluntary, honest trade.

Here's an exercise for anyone interested. Go to the Index of Economic Freedom's search page. Select "France" in the "Country and Region" window, highlight "North Africa and the Middle East" in the window below that, and then click the "submit" button. You'll get a list of the selected countries, in order of Index score, along with scores for each of the ten factors (trade policy, banking/finance, etc.) used to determine the overall score. France serves as the benchmark, a "mostly free" but economically quagmired Western nation. Only Bahrain and Israel score better than France. Note that none of the nations listed below France have a "property rights" score above the "mostly unfree" range (3.0-3.99). Nope, not the sort of environment that inspires a positive association with wealth creation.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at July 13, 2005 04:07 PM

Caroline: If several years from now the Iraqis are still electing Islamists, then well - personally - I give up. Time for a big wall I guess.

The Iranians have decided that they HATE that crap now that they've experienced it. (Problem is they can't get rid of it due to the Guardian Council's sham "elections.") I don't see any reason why Iraqis won't get tired of it for precisely the same reasons if they do, in fact, decide to install it themselves. People are people, and no one likes getting kicked in the head. "Vote for me and I'll kick you in the head!" won't cut it. If a guy kicks people in the head, he'll need a great deal of luck to get freely elected twice.

As long as they can continue to elect whomever they want, I don't think it should be a long-term problem. A long-term problem would be Iraqis deciding to go the "one man, one vote, one time" route, and that is not happening.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 13, 2005 04:14 PM

"No surprise. People who don't live in free economies generally associate wealth creation with something other than voluntary, honest trade."

But that doesn't explain Karl Jr. (unless, of course, he operates in Academia, which operates -- on the campus scale -- like something out of Tenth century europe, with the tenured nobles on top and the indentured grad students acting as serfs, hoping to prove themselves enough in peer-reviewed battles that they might claim a small feifdom of their own someday.

Yeah, the analogy is strained, but not much more than the doctrinal pigeonhole Karl Jr. tries to force economics into.

Get your head out of the 19th century, ace.

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 13, 2005 04:41 PM

Sarah Boxer must be pretty hot because they definitely didn't hire her for her brains.

Posted by: Mike at July 13, 2005 05:01 PM

"Get your head out of the 19th century, ace. "

Well that was a pretty lame and empty response Mark. Perhaps you might have noticed that my basic charge against your post was that you were advocating a return to the nineteenth century.

Now, perhaps I misunderstand what you mean by "libertarian capitalism". The common understanding of the term though, is essentially a dismantling of the regulatory mechanisms, and the policies that have sustained the growth and development of the middle class. Club for Growth type - pure trickle down stuff.

Perhaps you mean something different. I'm listening.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 13, 2005 05:12 PM

Certainly it's a class war.

And compared to the heroic jihadists who bombed those children today, the grubbiest NASCAR-watching, Hooters-crawling, square-state-living American has more class than any of those goat-raping, gay-killing, woman-butchering illiterates or any of the Pinch Sulzberger-wannabes who defend them

Posted by: richard mcenroe at July 13, 2005 05:13 PM

Michael - You may have a good laugh at this but I can assure you that politics ain't my thing! :-)

Here's something I posted at your site sometime back from the Tao Te Ching:

"If you want to shrink something,
you must first allow it to expand.
If you want to get rid of something,
you must first allow it to flourish...
This is called the subtle perception
of the way things are."

When I posted it I didn't have any response to folks who asked, "Ahem - and what is your point?"
I didn't know exactly how to articulate that the point is that one needs to understand how to take advantage of human nature in order to move things,with minimal violence, in the direction you want things to flow.

So on that note - here is a link to Reuel Marc Gerecht's - what shall we call it - Taoist? position (via Laurence Auster, who has become a daily must-read for me) - along with Auster's critique of Gerecht's position:

Gerecht

"Islamism has turned out to be its own best antidote."

As far as I can tell, Gerecht appears to be espousing basic Taoist philosophy. Give folks a pure taste of Islamism (allow it to expand) and it will turn out to be its own best antidote (as Gerecht rather radically and counterintuitively points out).

It is perhaps not surprising that Iraqis are voting Islamists into power (because Islamists are those who were so successfully repressed under Saddam's regime). The question is, do we have the guts to see the Iraqis through to several more elections so that they can reconsider their initial choices? Obviously that's not a choice we have vis a vis the Iranians. But it is an option we still have with the Iraqis - to be there to protect them through that process in order to prevent 'one vote, one time'. What is the minumum number of troops we need to station in Iraq to insure several rounds of fair elections? At this point - that is what I am completely prepared to support. But I don't think we can continue to support this open-ended notion of defeating the 'insurgency' cause it's pretty obvious at this point that there isn't any end to it.

Of course - I am completely open to any alternative points of view. :-)

Posted by: Caroline at July 13, 2005 06:46 PM

"Definitely many leftists are under the illusion that this is class warfare."

I dont know of any leftists who see this as class war.

"brutal 3rd world dictators (such as Saddam) are viewed as victims of American capitalist imperialism"

I know of no one who makes that argument - rather the contrary - Saddam (and his ilk) was a stooge of American capitalism. Even GWB has admitted as much, though he wouldnt quite put it that way.

"which would explain the left's sympathy for the guy."

I dont know anyone on the left who has expressed any sympathy for the guy.

"Ward Churchill is an obvious case. It's why he referred to the WTC victims as "little Eichmann's". "

because he has sympathy for Saddam? WHere did he say that?

"Political correctness itself is a variant of the same ideology - it is "Cultural Marxism""

That is just such utter silliness. Ol' Groucho is rolling in his grave now.
Caroline, at least you dont have the obnoxious style of the typical ranter. But the content is the same.

"In Europe especially, many young radical Islamists have aligned with Marxist-type European lefties in viewing this as a class struggle."

What Euro lefties have formed alliances with islamists? Pray tell.

"Isn't it rather racist and elitist and presumptuous to imagine that other people in the world are merely our pawns (victims are pawns too!) and are incapable of developing a competing ideology of human meaning and conduct that is utterly at odds with the one we have developed? "

What unalduterated crap.
No one is claiming that the islamists are "our pawns". Even those who do project an antiAmerican attitude would probably say that the islamists are attacking us because they percieve us to have invaded their lands, and to be in the process of drowning their culture. They feel under attack, and they are fighting back. That is, after all, what the islamists themselves say. Those who espouse antiAmericanism may agree with that analysis, they may agree that America is attacking Arab culture. How on earth does that translate into viewing them as pawns? Attacking those who are attacking you (their perception) does not make you a pawn.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 13, 2005 06:47 PM

Yes - It is about Islam. Isn't it really rather arrogant and culturally elitist to pretend otherwise?
Caroline -- this is a REALLY important point. Also because media is so oriented on the US. Think Abu Ghraib -- what OTHER Arab prisons were in the media to compare it to? None I can recall.
[yeah, yeah, "higher standards" means if we're not perfect we're terrible, even if we're the best.]

The problem is that fundamentalist intolerant Islam is fighting a tolerant Islam. Governments need to make sure tolerant Muslims don't get murdered by the Islamofascists -- so far, most Arab countries, like the PA, are failing this.

In Basra the problem is a 30s style KKK problem -- the authorities are letting the unnamed militia/ criminals use violence and kill people. If killers and those threatening violence are NOT brought to justice, they win; they rule; and all others are afraid. The city needs a provincial and national crime stop unit that prosecutes the criminal local authorities.

Multiple votes, like Iran has, is not as important as Human Rights, which Iran doesn't have. Human Rights is the goal, the right to peacefully disagree and live differently, but we push democracy because no other gov't system is consistently better at delivering rights (not because it's perfect).

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at July 13, 2005 06:56 PM

I forgot all about one other detriment to American-Islamic relations: the "teacher's pet effect" that rained down from the Koran-flushing story. A lot of people are incensed that the same government that subsidizes sacrilegious art will bend over backwards to respect the Koran. Think a "Piss Mohammad" exhibit would earn an NEA grant in this day and age?

Posted by: Flag at July 13, 2005 07:07 PM

Karl - in brief, I would say that your head is buried in the sand. That may not be fair but its all I have time for at 10:15 pm EST.

You say

"I dont know anyone on the left who has expressed any sympathy for the guy.

"Ward Churchill is an obvious case. It's why he referred to the WTC victims as "little Eichmann's". "

because he has sympathy for Saddam? WHere did he say that?"

All I can say is where have you been for the past 2 years, not to have any clue whatsoever that the left in both the US and Europe have sympathized with both Saddam and the insurgents fighting our attempts to bring democracy to and rebuild Iraq. I could write a dissertation on the subject.

"Even those who do project an antiAmerican attitude would probably say that the islamists are attacking us because they percieve us to have invaded their lands, and to be in the process of drowning their culture. They feel under attack, and they are fighting back. That is, after all, what the islamists themselves say. Those who espouse antiAmericanism may agree with that analysis, they may agree that America is attacking Arab culture."

One question for you Karl J.: There are 20 million Muslims - 20 MILLION! - living in the west. As last week's London bombings made clear, the enemy is within the gates. You say "They feel under attack,and they are fighting back."

As obviously your sympathies tend leftist, I am very curious what your response will be when westerners start bombing local mosques and stating in their defense that "they feel under attack and they are fighting back" against Muslim infiltration of the west( a reasonable claim given 20 million Muslims in the west wouldn't you say? - Incidentally, how many westerners ARE residing in Muslim lands)? The point is Karl - that from the western POV, "they" are most certainly attacking "us" and I'm sure you will be the first to understand when the western locals start taking their revenge. Root causes and all? And - what will be most interesting, is when the Muslims write article after article explaining that the reason that we're bombing every mosque in sight in the west and blowing up innocent Muslim folks left and right is because we feel under attack from Muslim culture. And when you and other leftists completely understand and sympathize with the root causes for these western bombers - THEN I will know that there is no elitism or racism or presumption that 3rd world folks are "pawns" of the west.

Posted by: Caroline at July 13, 2005 07:28 PM

"the left in both the US and Europe have sympathized with both Saddam and the insurgents fighting our attempts to bring democracy to and rebuild Iraq."

That is pure bullshit Caroline. That you could write a dissertation on it proves only that you can produce a lot of....

"As obviously your sympathies tend leftist, I am very curious what your response will be when westerners start bombing local mosques and stating in their defense that "they feel under attack and they are fighting back""

I dont understand what you are getting at with this question. My response would be the obvious one. They (the western bombers) would be using the same justification as the islamists are.

"from the western POV, "they" are most certainly attacking "us""

Well, not all (to say the least) in the West feel that way, but what is your point anyway? I was just relating to you what the islamists say is their POV. I wasnt saying I agreed with it. I said that some antiAmericans might agree with it.
Even then, what is the point you are trying to make. It is perfectly normal in conflicts that people on different side each feel aggressed by the other.

"And when you and other leftists completely understand and sympathize with the root causes for these western bombers...."

No problem there Caroline. If we get a rash of Western terrorist bombers, I will have no problem understanding them in the same terms as I understand the islamist bombers.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 13, 2005 07:49 PM

Karl J: "I dont know of any leftists who see this as class war."

Karl - Please explain to me the fundamental meaning of "No blood for Oil"...

Posted by: Caroline at July 13, 2005 07:49 PM

Karl J: "the left in both the US and Europe have sympathized with both Saddam and the insurgents fighting our attempts to bring democracy to and rebuild Iraq."

That is pure bullshit Caroline. That you could write a dissertation on it proves only that you can produce a lot of...."

Karl - to cite just a few examples off the top of my head - Michael Moore called the insurgents "minutemen", Medea Benjamin's group "Code Pink" collected money for Fallujah, Michael had a post recently about Euro-lefties donating money to the insurgency, Naomi Klein at the Nation wished for al Sadr to come to NY, lefty "human shields" tried to prevent our bombing of Saddam's infrastructure on the eve of the war, some lefty prof wished our troops would encounter "a million Mogadishu's" in Iraq. Look - that's just off the top of my head. Don't make me write a dissertation on the subject. I never finished the first damn one I started. The fact that you seem puzzled by my even raising the issue though indicates that you are merely a Democrat (as I have been my whole life too) - and not a leftist. I have enjoyed reading your arguments over the past few threads - the country seriously needs an intelligent and loyal opposition :-). Tomorrow when I get a chance I'll google and post some articles backing up my contention that political correctness = cultural marxism.

Posted by: Caroline at July 13, 2005 08:12 PM

Karl Jr., I dont know anyone on the left who has expressed any sympathy for the guy. Have you not heard of George Galloway ? You really must try harder.

Posted by: Mike at July 13, 2005 08:12 PM

Mika: "Karl Jr., I dont know anyone on the left who has expressed any sympathy for the guy. Have you not heard of George Galloway ? You really must try harder."

I have little doubt that most posters here could come up with more examples just off the top of their heads. A parlor game as it were - no googling allowed.:-)

Posted by: Caroline at July 13, 2005 08:25 PM

(Still playing by the rules here - i.e. off the top of my head and no googling):

Mickey Kaus was completely sympathetic with the insurgents who strung up the charred remains of American contractors from a bridge in Fallujah...

Posted by: Caroline at July 13, 2005 08:51 PM

Karl you dirty little pinko. You think that Ford was "enlightened"!

Marx was wrong and you need to get over it before you waste another day with that toxic bullshit.

Posted by: Mike#3or4 at July 13, 2005 08:54 PM

Posted by Karl Jr. at July 13, 2005 05:12 PM

"The common understanding of the term though, is essentially a dismantling of the regulatory mechanisms, and the policies that have sustained the growth and development of the middle class. Club for Growth type - pure trickle down stuff.

Perhaps you mean something different. I'm listening."

I think we have different definitions of regulation.

A government agency auditing corporate books to make sure they are accurate helps create transparency for the stockholders (the government maintains it's night watchmen status). Regulating health and safety issues can get a pass there too. Actually, a lot of things can. For the most part, our main complaint is it is risky giving the government these tasks as it gives too much control to politicians… who are going to tell people what they want to hear vs. handling things… something a private company can not do thanks to market imposed reality checks…

But there is a line beyond which it is no longer free market capitalism (when industry becomes subservient, via regulatory control, to the state and creates an essentially corporatist system)... Most conservatives and libertarians oppose crossing that line while most progressives are all for it... if you really think about it…

So, how do you define regulation? How far do you want it to go?

Posted by: Thomas at July 13, 2005 08:56 PM

Ramsey Clark joined Saddam's defense team.

Nick Berg's father (a lefty) blasted Bush rather than the insurgents who beheaded his son.

Sregina what's her name (the communist Italian journalist) - spoke sympathetically of her insurgent captors but blasted the US military.......

Posted by: Caroline at July 13, 2005 09:12 PM

"It is always the powerful- nations, classes, militaries, that squabble over things. The working and lower classes, with much rectitude, see the little differences between the evils."

The myth of the noble savage lives!

Really? So if you are poor you are squabble free? Geez, time to divest my worldly assets, run around in a loin cloth, and speer some rodents for dinner.

If this is true, please tell this to the Tutsis and Hutus of Rwanda (minus of course, the 800,000 killed ten years ago). And I'm sure there's no squabbling amongst tribal factions in Afghanistan. They're obviously not rich enough. Nor are the Fur, Massaleet, Zagawa and Jingaweit in western Darfur.

Frankly I'm starting to reconsider the concept of original sin. It is free of the concept of class warfare, and certainly seems to fit the world we now live in.

Posted by: bob at July 13, 2005 09:14 PM

Caroline, Where did Karl Jr. go ?

Posted by: Mike at July 13, 2005 09:54 PM

Caroline,
You said "the left" sympathized with Saddam.
I repeat: that is pure bullshit.

Would the dissertation you write on the subject be more of the same that you have given us? A few examples of people, who may be lefties, who have done or said things that might be interpreted that way? Most of them I suspect had no thought about Saddam or sympathy toward him - they were opposed to the war on entirely different grounds. Being against the war does not mean being sympathetic to Saddam. Do I even have to say that?

But the larger issue of course is that you didnt say "a few leftist". You said "the left". There are tens of millions of people on the left. If you want to make a generalization about a group like that you need to demonstrate that there is a sentiment shared by a majority, or at least a large vocal minority. But there isnt one here. Not by a million miles. It would be like saying that Israelis support the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, because you sure can find a few who say things like that. Or the Christian fundamentalists believe that Osama did God's work on 9/11. In fact you had some fundies saying that who were far more prominent in their group than the people you mention are amongst lefties. Would those be fair characterizations?

You are engaging in demagougery of the worst kind here.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 13, 2005 10:10 PM

K: "I dont know of any leftists who see this as class war."

C: "Please explain to me the fundamental meaning of "No blood for Oil"..."

K: Since I've never uttered the chant, I am not an expert on the meaning that is meant to be conveyed. But I imagine it is a statement that we should not be using our military force to determine the fate of other countries - specifically to set up stooge or puppet regimes in oil-rich countries that can suppress their people and provide us with a secure oil supply, in exchange for the small elite getting extremely wealthy. I imagine that those making the argument see this as our standard operting procedure, including our historical support for Saddam - and that the Iraq war was more about switching out one dictator for another less objectionable puppet.

Whatever you think of the argument, it is hardly a class war argument. It is more a moral statement about how we, as a superpower, should interact with countries with whom we need to do business.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 13, 2005 10:24 PM

Karl Jr.

Well that was a pretty lame and empty response Mark. Perhaps you might have noticed that my basic charge against your post was that you were advocating a return to the nineteenth century.

Actually, I'm proposing a return to the 18th Century, or at least the Enlightenment principals that first and foremost value Data above Dogma.

Face it, Ace; history shows Collectivism (and to a lesser extent it's embarrased nephew, the Managed Economy) as the best method of governance yet devised when it comes to exterminating large groups of people.

As to what Libertarian Capitalism is, it's the idea that everyone should be free to choose the way they promote their own best interests. Methodology is up to the actors, up to but not beyond the point where the methodolog begins to impinge upon others ability to do the same.

Or, to put it another way, one dasn't shoot the Union Organizers and dasn't blow up the Processing Plant. (And surprise, surprise! A Libertarian thinks that this is where Government can rightly step in and smack down the offenders. With a big powerful stick, if necessary.)

I have no problem at all with groups of workers banding together to promote the interests of the members. In other words, I think the concepts of Unions rock. I think Corporations rock. Mostly what I think is economics is not a zero-sum game, and players who think it is should stick to chess or poker. They'll do less damage.

What I have a real problem with, and read this slowly, is the will-to-power beyond the interest of constituents that tends to possess Union leaders and Academics (just what do you do for a living, Karl Jr.?) who fall under the sway of Collectivist philosophy.

Is any of this getting through?

And Collectivism, by it's nature, Collects Power. (Don't get power much more powerful than deciding who gets to eat, and who doesn't.)

I don't believe power corrupts, per se, but I do believe the corrupt desire power. (Which is the whole point of anti-Capitalism, right? What I can't get is why you think all your fellow travelers will be pure. Haven't you read Machiavelli? Oh, that's right; not Marxist, therefore irrelevant.)

Pick a random atrocity of the 20th Century, and you'll find at the root Collectivism, and the "just" redistribution of resources. Ugly little fact, but there it is. Respect it.

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 14, 2005 03:49 AM

Karl Jr.: "Would the dissertation you write on the subject be more of the same that you have given us? A few examples of people, who may be lefties, who have done or said things that might be interpreted that way?"

Karl - I'm talking about hard-core lefties, not Democrats and not liberals. You can call it demagoguery if you like but David Horowitz has documented numerous examples in his book Unholy Alliance and at his website. E.g.

Unholy Alliance

Karl Jr: "But I imagine it is a statement that we should not be using our military force to determine the fate of other countries - specifically to set up stooge or puppet regimes in oil-rich countries that can suppress their people and provide us with a secure oil supply, in exchange for the small elite getting extremely wealthy."

If one assumes that it isn't just a small elite getting wealthy but rather a whole lot of folks trying to maintain the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed (that would be we in the U.S.) - "No blood for oil" sure sounds like the assumption of class war to me.

Posted by: Caroline at July 14, 2005 05:39 AM

Oops - re my 8:51pm post - I meant Markos Moulitsas at Daily Kos, not Mickey Kaus.

Karl - here's an article about the left's opposition to the war which I assume you would agree with:

Attack of the liberals

"Each of these men makes candid arguments against the likes of Ramsey Clark and his cadre at the International Action Center having a prominent role in any antiwar movement. They are right that Clark is not a sound leader, and that the Workers World Party front group poses a serious, long-term threat to the Left if it continues to grow and garner support from diverse groups. Numerous concerns about Workers World front groups and their ploys and tactics have been exposed of late. But each of these four writers has also managed to lump most of the present day Left in with Clark and his miniscule minions. The truth is, most American leftists are anything but pro-Saddam/pro-Stalinism types like Clark's WWP. And there is plenty of middle ground between the genocide apologetics of Ramsey Clark's ilk and the venomous pro-Establishment viewpoints of wankers like Cooper, Gitlin, Corn and Hitchens."

So..truce?

Posted by: Caroline at July 14, 2005 06:37 AM
But I imagine it is a statement that we should not be using our military force to determine the fate of other countries - specifically to set up stooge or puppet regimes in oil-rich countries that can suppress their people and provide us with a secure oil supply, in exchange for the small elite getting extremely wealthy. [snip]
Whatever you think of the argument, it is hardly a class war argument.
Then what the obscenity is it? Are the small wealthy elite somehow not a class? Posted by: triticale at July 14, 2005 06:48 AM

Caroline, subtle.

:)

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 14, 2005 07:02 AM

Then, on the other hand, there's this:

The London streets

"George W. Bush's visit to London this week will be historic for at least two reasons. He will be the first U.S. president to come to Britain on a state visit. He will also observe a bizarre political marriage: one between the remnants of the Marxist-Leninist Left and militant Islamists....Who are these nostalgics of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein? The coalition has a steering committee of 33 members. Of these, 18 come from various hard left groups: Communists, Trotskyites, Maoists, and Castrists. Three others belong to the radical wing of the Labour party. There are also eight radical Islamists. The remaining four are leftist ecologists known as "Watermelons" (Green outside, red inside)."

Karl - Recall that my original statement was "the left in both the US and Europe have sympathized with both Saddam and the insurgents fighting our attempts to bring democracy to and rebuild Iraq."
So I referred to European leftists as well and also to sympathy with the insurgents (not just Saddam). I'm sure you can appreciate that we're dealing with more than just a small handful of people here, although I regret giving the impression that I meant the entire left.

Posted by: Caroline at July 14, 2005 07:28 AM

I find it interesting how arugments seem to keep switching up, as it were.

"The Left are Anti-War, because they hate Bush and resent his election. They fear losing power so they are just being reactionary and standing against whatever the Republicans want to do."

"The Left are teh evil! They think Saddam is a great guy and that America is a terrible immoral beast."

I would hazard a guess that the fringe may fit into either of these categories (sombunall in one and sombunall in the other). However, mosbunall average Democrats that I know are anti-Bush, because they disagree with his philosophies. Most Democrats that I know don't think that Saddam is a great guy (they also don't think that Osama is cool). Now, I could be wrong and they could all secretly be hiding their true feelings....

Or this could just be typical Domesticated Primate behavior (on both sides) when trying to protect ones ideological territory.

Monkey A throws shit, so monkey B throws shit and back and forth it goes.

If mosbunall Democrats held their critisims to specific issues that mattered (rather than attacking anything that looks like a vulnerable spot on the Adminsitration), they might seem a bit more reasonable (rather than like a bunch of crazed monkeys). If mosbunall Republicans held their comments to individuals who espouse communistic ideas or support for Saddam's regieme (rather than attacking anyone who appears as being from the "other pack"), they'd probably look less like monkeys as well.

As it is, Republicans who shouted treason at anyone who didn't support the war, seem oddly quiet about 'treason' when it comes to identifying CIA Agents. Democrats who had rational reasons for not supporting the War, instead of sticking to reason, lead with an emotional, yet unrealistic war chant like "No Blood For Oil" aimed not at truth or justice, but at emotion and converts.

All in all, a pathetic bunch of hypocrites.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at July 14, 2005 09:00 AM

Earth to Mark Poling. Please come back.

What the hell was that rant about anyway?

Look, you started this by making some assertive comment about "libertarian capitalism". Whatever the hell you meant by that. Maybe you should have explained. Forgive me for assuming that you meant some economic model different than what we enjoy in this country today. It seemed to me that you were advocating changing or modifying our economic system to introduce more "libertarianism" into it. In the economic sphere, the common understanding of that is to deconstruct the reforms and regulations that have accumulated over time to make our system as good as it is.

IF anything, I was defending the broad outlines of the status quo, against what I take to be your advocacy of more laisse faire policies. Sorry if I mischarcterized it as 19th century. It didnt occur to me that you were advocating economic policies that were apporpriate to the 18th century.

And from this you turn around and call me a collectivist? What drugs are you on man? Do you think that the current economic model in America is a collectivist regime?

"...is the will-to-power beyond the interest of constituents that tends to possess Union leaders and Academics ... who fall under the sway of Collectivist philosophy.
Is any of this getting through?"

No it isnt. I dont know what you are getting at, or what this means in terms of actual economic models that you might oppose or support.

"What I can't get is why you think all your fellow travelers will be pure. Haven't you read Machiavelli? Oh, that's right; not Marxist, therefore irrelevant"

Huh? What on earth are you talking about? I happen to believe that power does corrupt. I dont think any economic or political model should be built in which you assume any one will be pure. I dont know who you think my "fellow travelers" are. Yes I have read Machiavelli, and btw, I am not now nor ever have been a Marxist. Have you no sense of decency sir?

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 14, 2005 09:04 AM

"I'm sure you can appreciate that we're dealing with more than just a small handful of people here"

No, I cannot appreciate that. You are referring to a miniscule handful of the left. About the same proportion as you would find to be repugnant in any political movement. If you decided it to be worth your time to focus on them.

And btw - you can hardly escape the demagougery charge by linking to Horowitz. Rather the contrary...

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 14, 2005 09:13 AM

seth,

what's your question.
Posted by spaniard at July 12, 2005 07:58 PM
------------------------------------------------
My comment was a bit long, so I don't want to do
a big cut and paste from where I originally
posted, in the comments to the Hitchens
interview. It mostly had to do with the lack of
discussion by many of the war's supporters
regarding what was called the "economic
architecture of the occupation" in the Hitchens
interview. It seems to me a crucial issue,
especially for those supporting the war for
humanitarian reasons, and it is striking how
little Totten, Geras, Hitchens, etc. have to say
about this aspect of the occupation. (As I
mentioned, Johann Hari is a big exception.)

I will ask one additional question here. How do
I get the comment to show up with what I quoted
from somebody else in italics?

Posted by: Seth Kulick at July 14, 2005 12:19 PM

In response to Tosk, and relevant to Seth's comment above:

I don't think most rational Democrats who opposed the war are yelling "No Blood for Oil." Most reasonable Democrats opposed the war for two reasons - 1) Saddam seemed like a diversion, 2) George Bush has never shown competence in any venture other than playing partisan politics, so it was hard to believe he would be able to pull off something as complex as democratizing Iraq and the Middle East.

On point 1 the Democrats may have been wrong - it is still unclear to what extent Saddam had ties with Al Qaeda, and he was certainly evil enough, and at the very least he represented an indirect threat to the US that could only get worse. So any reasonable Democrat should have supported Bush through the point of taking Baghdad.

Unfortunately subsequent events have shown that every fear about Bush's incompetence and poor leadership have been borne out. The occupation did not need to go this badly, there is really no excuse for the mismanagement and the desire to score partisan points which have hampered the administration every step of the way.

Posted by: vanya at July 14, 2005 12:45 PM

If you put an underscore _ then text, then another underscore _ , the text between will be italicized.

It isnt in my example above because I put a space after the underscores. Without the spaces it looks like this.

Posted by: Karl Jr. at July 14, 2005 02:38 PM

Vanya says the occupation did not need to go so badly. There are several reasons why it has, and anyone discussing the matter needs to understand them.

The first is poor intelligence. If we'd known in advance the level of bribery from the so-called Oil-For_food program, we wouldn't have frittered away valuable months trying to get a final UN resolution. This would have given the enemy less time to prepare a resistance, and quite possibly to have concealed or exported certain alleged materials.

The second is poor preparation. If we had told Turkey "The infantry is coming thru; complain and lose all trade and aid" the initial defeat would have been resounding enough as to have changed the overall climate of the occupation.

The third is poor communications. If people in the US were aware of the economic boom in the Kurdish region and the general stability thruout most of the Shiite region, we wouldn't be thinking of the occupation as going so badly.

Posted by: triticale at July 14, 2005 02:55 PM

Seth: It mostly had to do with the lack of
discussion by many of the war's supporters
regarding what was called the "economic
architecture of the occupation" in the Hitchens
interview. It seems to me a crucial issue,
especially for those supporting the war for
humanitarian reasons, and it is striking how
little Totten, Geras, Hitchens, etc. have to say
about this aspect of the occupation.

The reason is because I haven't looked into it and can't discuss it intelligently. Sorry, I can't follow everything. Iraq's economy is better than it was under Saddam, so I don't feel a particular sense of urgency about it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 14, 2005 05:17 PM

Karl Jr.:

Earth to Mark Poling. Please come back.

I just flew back from Kuwait, and boy, are my arms tired.

Look, you started this by making some assertive comment about "libertarian capitalism". Whatever the hell you meant by that. Maybe you should have explained. Forgive me for assuming that you meant some economic model different than what we enjoy in this country today.

Nope. One dimension in which I can be called conservative is I do think our economic model is the healthiest one out there today.

IF anything, I was defending the broad outlines of the status quo, against what I take to be your advocacy of more laisse faire policies. Sorry if I mischarcterized it as 19th century. It didnt occur to me that you were advocating economic policies that were apporpriate to the 18th century.

Not economic policies. I was talking about philosophical "best practices." Capitalist economics evolved (bye bye gold standard). Collectivist economics has not. (Hello Mugabe.)

And from this you turn around and call me a collectivist? What drugs are you on man? Do you think that the current economic model in America is a collectivist regime?

Not yet. Hopefully never.

Lots deleted.... I dont know who you think my "fellow travelers" are. Yes I have read Machiavelli, and btw, I am not now nor ever have been a Marxist. Have you no sense of decency sir?

Not much. And I think I chose the term "fellow traveler" with some forethought. Marxism has become a dirty word in most reasonable circles (Rat, if you're reading I'll sacrifice a nut to your goddess, just because.) But Collectivism is alive and kicking, and enough people are willing to defend it, that I feel kind of obligated to calling that waddling, quacking, swimming birdie a duck. 'Cause that's a bad bird.

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