Trump the Ringmaster and His Unwitting Clowns

by Corey Robin on October 11, 2016

Back in July, I wrote a post about the amnesia of the Vox generation of journalism.

This was about the time when young journalists were claiming that no presidential candidate in modern American history ever posed the kind of threat to American democracy that Donald Trump did. I went through the specific claims, and cited example after example of comparable threats. I concluded thus:

So many of them seem to lack the most basic gut impulse of any historically minded person: if you think something is unprecedented, it’s probably not. Check your amnesia, dude.

I know this is nothing deep or fancy, but it does make me wonder if today’s generation of commentators, raised as so many are on the assumption that the biological sciences and social sciences—with neuroscience as the master mediator—are the source and model of all knowledge, are somehow at a deficit.


By amnesia, I was thinking of these journalists’ failure to remember events from the Goldwater, Nixon, and Reagan campaigns.

Little did I expect that only three months later they’d be forgetting events from…the Trump campaign.

At last night’s debate, Trump and Clinton had the following exchange:



TRUMP: And I tell you what, I didn’t think I would say this, but I’m going to and I hate to say it. But if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. Because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it. And we’re gonna have a special prosecutor.


CLINTON: Everything he just said is absolutely false, but I’m not surprised….Last time at the first debate ,we had millions of people fact checking so I expect we will have millions more fact checking because, you know, it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.

TRUMP: Because you would be in jail.



Ezra Klein immediately responded:
This is one of the most shocking moments in my history of covering American politics. I don’t know how to convey just how serious and dangerous it was.

It was an odd response.

Hadn’t Klein, like the rest of us, just witnessed the shit show that was the Republican National Convention this past July? Where speaker after speaker called, not from the crowd but from the podium, for Hillary Clinton to be put in jail. Where Chris Christie—the governor of New Jersey and, for a time, a candidate for the Republican nomination—led a call-and-response of “guilty” or “not guilty” to which the crowd replied “Lock her up”?

Hadn’t Klein read his own website?

It’s pretty disturbing to hear a large crowd at a major party convention repeatedly call for the jailing of the leader of the other major party.

To me, all this seemed like a new crossing of a line and an ugly degradation of a norm in American politics.

Now, I can’t really believe I have to say this, but here goes: In a democratic society, it’s really disturbing for a political party’s leadership to basically endorse the idea that its main political rival should be jailed.


(I guess if the jailing is of a leader of a less major party, it’s okay.)

Under other circumstances, one might make allowances for the difference between such calls emanating from the base and such statements being uttered by the party’s nominee. But this, as liberal journalists have been telling us for months, is Donald Trump, the man who turned ego into id, who made red meat into elite material, who looked at the racist garbage of the ultra-right and saw the poetry of his platform. One would think, to hear these journalists talk, that the window of surprise had been closed some time ago.

As it turns out, Klein wasn’t the only one at Vox shocked by Trump’s comments last night; Zack Beauchamp was, too:

This is so far beyond normal that it’s hard to even know where to start.

Yet start he did—

In democracies, we respect people’s rights to disagree with each other. When one candidate wins a presidential election, the loser returns to private life or another government position. In some cases, former rivals become close friends. George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush in the 1992 election, travel together and have spent decades jointly raising money to aid the victims of natural disasters.


They don’t get sent to jail, because we believe that political disagreement should be legal.



—and this is where he ended up:

That’s what is done by tin-pot dictators spanning the globe from North Korea to Zimbabwe. That’s what happens in countries where peaceful transitions of power are the exception, not the rule.


Donald Trump just threatened to bring that to America.



Like Klein, with nary a mention of the RNC, as if this were all unheard of in the United States of 2016.

It’s hard to take seriously all this shock and awe, this sudden Sturm und Drang over the completely unexpected, when this is just a sample of what journalists and pundits were saying, not in 1916, not in 1980, but in July of 2016.

Chris Matthews:


It seems third world, by the way. Somebody pointed out earlier, when you start talking about locking up your opponent, that is banana republic.



David Corn:


This is actually dangerous. delegates chanting, “Lock her up.”



Ryan Lizza:


Not a healthy sign in a democracy when the case against your opponent is that she should be imprisoned.



Washington Post:


The Trump campaign’s descent from standard red-meat partisanship to unprecedented accusations of criminality displays contempt for the rule of law and a startling disinterest in fact and reason.



Nick Kristof:


Look, people always engage in hyperbole about people they disagree with, but this Republican convention has taken it further than I’ve ever seen…In democracies, it’s natural to denounce opponents. But it’s in tin-pot dictatorships that opponents are locked up. When you’ve covered autocracies in countries where politicians are actually locked up after losing power struggles, you really don’t aspire for that in your own country.



What’s doubly odd about all this shock over Trump’s comments last night is that it’s not as if we’ve been wanting, these past few days, for incidents that are truly shocking. For months, I’ve been beating the drum of the non-novelty of Donald Trump, but try as I might, even I can’t remember a presidential candidate caught on tape bragging about assaulting women and grabbing pussy.

The liberal media likes to oppose itself to Trump, but with breathless commentary like this, where everything’s always new under the sun, it’s hard not to conclude that in the circus that is this election, Trump is the ringmaster and the liberal media his unwitting clowns, the side show that stumbles up and down the aisles, ginning up the crowd.

{ 407 comments }

1

Evan Harper 10.11.16 at 3:28 am

IDK Corey, your article seems a little too cute, too lefter-than-thou. Ezra is re-hyping the fact that Trump is an authoritarian lunatic and your response is “he didn’t hype it enough between 2.5 months ago and now, and is therefore an awful craven liberal.” seems a bit pat. maybe just focus on you and Ezra’s mutual agreement that Trump is a disaster and a monster and a threat to liberal democracy, and dial down the I told you so?

2

derrida derider 10.11.16 at 3:40 am

I shouldn’t worry too much. After the shellacking the GOP is going to get in November I think they’ll resolve “never again” and “reform” the rules to ensure that only apparently sane candidates from their plutocrat wing get up in future.

Which should last until the current generation of old plutocrats dies off and the lesson is forgotten.

3

Nick 10.11.16 at 3:43 am

I think you’re correct, and that this shows a real effect of how people interpret information today — smoking gun, or it’s just your opinion. Those people at the convention were Trump supporters, sure, and Trump probably encouraged them etc. etc., and it’s been a consistent theme of the campaign, but every one of those can be argued to be hi-jinks, rubes, talk radio, etc. If it can be argued, it will. Only when Trump stands on a stage and says it to Clinton’s face and the crowd cheers, is it a smoking gun.

At the same time, though, what is a commentator to do? When they write that an event, or a speech, or an act, is shocking and disqualifying, and then no one pays attention and the polls don’t move and some idiot writes that Trump really tried on the Aleppo question and seems presidential, what next? Clearly, the act wasn’t shocking or disqualifying . . . And you can only write so many columns saying that the things you thought were political norms were not political norms, and the election is going ahead despite their repeated violation.

4

Anarcissie 10.11.16 at 4:02 am

I remember ‘Jail to the Chief.’ That was Nixon. I’m trying to think of other people of the presidential class who were supposed to be jailed: Teddy Kennedy (for Chappaquiddick), Bill Clinton (lying under oath), Bush 2 and company (war crimes).

5

MFB 10.11.16 at 4:02 am

Yes, this is indeed an indictment of American liberal political journalism, if any such were needed — which it isn’t.

The Republican base believes, with some cause, that Clinton’s e-mail shenanigans are evidence of sufficient personal corruption and political misdemenours so that, if she did not enjoy the protection of the state, she could be shown to have committed indictable offenses under Federal law. They believe that because they hate her, but also because, quite rightly, they believe that powerful people are protected by the elite and enjoy a get-out-of-jail-free card, and they resent that. That’s fair enough. The only way to defend Clinton against these accusations would have been for her not to engage in those shenanigans, or alternatively to come clean about everything and show that she did nothing illegal (or immoral or fattening).

That’s the sum total of Trump’s outburst; “I think Clinton’s a crook who should go to jail”. And the total of the Democratic response is “Our kind of crooks shouldn’t go to jail, and saying that they should is fascist!”. That’s very different from saying “She isn’t a crook, and hence she shouldn’t go to jail”, which seems to be a more logical response.

I don’t know whether this obfuscation is due to the journalists themselves believing that Clinton is a crook and therefore shouting “Thief, thief!” to distract attention from this, or whether they’re just being opportunistic and throwing raw meat to the rubes. But it’s not a good sign for the future of American civil society either way.

6

Rich Puchalsky 10.11.16 at 4:09 am

I don’t mind the repetition as such. If someone crosses a line 3 months after they’ve crossed the same line, maybe the shocking moment kind of stretches to cover both of them. What can you say but what you said the first time. (Although maybe a sentence could be thrown in about “This confirms what we saw at the GOP convention, where [etc.]”)

What I do mind is the refusal to generalize from history. If Trump is a unique threat, we don’t have to anything except defeat Trump. The people going on about him in this way are singularly disinterested in hearing anything about prior incidents that make Trump part of a pattern in American recent history that something should be done about.

7

McSmack 10.11.16 at 4:23 am

I’m having one of those ‘I knew it was you, Fredo’ moments.

I knew it was you, Corey Robinson.

No one can do the more-cynical-than-thou and oh-those-youngsters/liberals-don’t-understand-America-like-I-do as well as you do.

We’ve never had a total know-nothing who has never held any political office of any kind this close to the presidency. [Taft and Hoover are the two prior presidents who had never held a major office or served in the military.]

We’ve never had a presidential nominee of a major party threaten to expel residents by the millions.

We’ve never had a presidential nominee for a major party regularly and with zeal make claims that run directly contrary to constitutional principles.

We’ve never had a presidential nominee for a major party who was continually accused of municipal, state and local crimes with such credibility.

We’ve never had a presidential nominee for a major party who was the target of thousands of lawsuits prior to running for the presidency.

We’ve never had a presidential nominee for a major party make falsehoods by the hundreds that are then shown to be falsehoods by all reputable sources.

We’ve never had a presidential nominee for a major party appear to endorse Nazi iconography.

I mean, one can go on and on. It’s literally unending the way Trump is unprecedented. It’s not relevant in a way. Who cares if he’s never held office?

But how are we going to get a grip on the current situation we’re in without acknowledging some of the WEIRD FUCKING THINGS about Donald Trump?

To imagine that Trump is simply some slightly amplified version of Nixon is a stretch. Goldwater is a slightly more apt comparison but again, Trump far outstrips Goldwater for extremism.

Sure, OK, the liberal media are clowns bla bla bla. But this doesn’t make Trump any less unprecedented, unexpected, freaky and scary. I know it is pedestrian, uncool and unoriginal to think so. But it’s worth holding onto the fact that there are things about Trump we haven’t seen before–because we truly don’t understand our current situation without grasping that fact.

8

Tabasco 10.11.16 at 4:31 am

I’d be very surprised if Richard Nixon never tried to jail a political opponent, or at least threaten to do so. It would have been precisely in his character – vicious and vindictive.

9

kidneystones 10.11.16 at 4:34 am

@5 MFB Yes, on all points, especially this: “I don’t know whether this obfuscation is due to the journalists themselves believing that Clinton is a crook and therefore shouting “Thief, thief!” to distract attention from this, or whether they’re just being opportunistic and throwing raw meat to the rubes. But it’s not a good sign for the future of American civil society either way.”

I say both. The donor class 1% that own the media, especially the new media, are solidly behind Hillary to an extent that I wonder whether we can call any of the media ‘liberal.’ Trump correctly noted that to even refer to the 33,000 documents she destroyed after receiving a federal subpoena as ’email’ clouds the key facts: the FBI and government inspectors had to have access to all the documents to determine their status.

The press understands all this, of course. They are neither forgetful, or entirely stupid. They, however, quite blind to the damage they are doing to institutions they claim to care about.

In the short term, it’s all upside. They won’t be fighting in any of Hillary’s wars. They aren’t going to be drafted and they aren’t going to be bombed. The are almost all staunchly and proudly anti-Republican and that’s the sole metric by which actions are judged both morally and legally.

Which makes them the perfect dupes of the donor class.

When the elephant starts to take heat for the crap effect of donor class policies, the donor class simply pour money into donkey coffers to ensure the continuation of the donor class crap policies.

Ezra and Ryan and their ilk are all aspiring VSPs. They’ll get their ‘one-on-one’ interviews to boost clicks and Hillary will simply forget to schedule more than one actual press conference per year.

Liberals will clap and high five each other over the goofus they helped remove.

10

Magpie 10.11.16 at 4:56 am

Prof. Robin is, of course, right in pointing to those people’s amnesia.

Unfortunately, he himself is not immune to amnesia. For one, he forgot to mention Jonathan Shite’s infamous twit

https://twitter.com/jonathanchait/status/705098569527730176

But, never fear, here’s yours truly to suggest a solution to your problems: gift Shite and The Donald a machete each and arrange for them to meet in a secluded place.

With any luck, you guys might get rid of two grotesque pieces of shit.

11

Kresling 10.11.16 at 5:35 am

Politically-motivated prosecutions of former presidents would obviously not be good, but prosecutions motivated by their legitimately criminal actions would be a welcome change. Everyone knows that elite politicians (Bushes, Clintons) are basically immune from serious legal consequences, and fury regarding the unfairness of our two-tiered justice system is part of what fuels the current populism.

12

kidneystones 10.11.16 at 6:11 am

TPM Headline: It Begins: Trump Takes Swipe At Ryan After He Essentially Concedes To Clinton

Buried at bottom of piece: “…one Republican congressman who spoke to TPM on background said that some members were criticizing Ryan openly for not standing by Trump. One member, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) blasted Ryan for essentially ceding the election to Hillary Clinton.”

One congressmen clearly identified as Dana Rohrabacher “blasted Ryan for essentially ceding the election to Hillary Clinton” becomes in the TPM land “He (Trump) concedes to Clinton”, or the almost equally implausible “He (Ryan) concedes to Clinton.” OK.

JournOlism 101, or wishful thinking?

Both.

13

Roland Stone 10.11.16 at 6:16 am

George Will is on it.

“His Cleveland convention was a mini-Nuremberg rally for Republicans whose three-word recipe for making America great again was the shriek “Lock her up!” This presaged his banana-republican vow to imprison his opponent.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-trumps-vile-candidacy-is-chemotherapy-for-the-gop/2016/10/10/73e40f30-8f05-11e6-9c85-ac42097b8cc0_story.html?utm_term=.c8e7309addc8

14

Patrick 10.11.16 at 6:19 am

I think this misses what’s going in this genre of journalism. Trump’s remarks wasn’t shocking by his standards, but this probably was the worst thing he said in the debate itself. So if you’re writing a piece meant to cover the debate, and if the narrative you’re going with is “Trump’s decline continued,” this is the piece of evidence you go with.

The problem isn’t the ahistoricity: I’m sure Ezra Klein remembers at least the RNC. His argument is an artefact of the need to write something about the debate different than “Trump continued to say Trumplike things.” And also — perhaps — a tactical political move, one seeking to establish a consensus that Trump lost the debate.

15

Tabasco 10.11.16 at 7:09 am

@ 12
Will is right, of course, but the role played by him and people of his ilk in making the GOP what it is today should not be forgotten.

16

kidneystones 10.11.16 at 8:22 am

I wouldn’t ordinarily link to the NR, but on the topic of banana republics, this piece is quite good.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/440917/donald-trump-special-prosecutor-hillary-clinton-debate

17

casmilus 10.11.16 at 8:59 am

“For months, I’ve been beating the drum of the non-novelty of Donald Trump, but try as I might, even I can’t remember a presidential candidate caught on tape bragging about assaulting women and grabbing pussy.”

If only Frank Sinatra had had the foresight to get a hidden tape spool running, we could now enjoy the lasting record of Senator John F.Kennedy’s attitudes toward “poontang”.

Anyway, if HRC actually broke the law… shouldn’t she face prosecution? I know some people (at amconmag, as it happens) have called for members of the Bush administration to be put on trial. Over here, the demand for Blair to be tried at the Hague for war crimes is now a tired old Left cliche. Obviously, it would be new to demand punishment for the loser just for losing, but that isn’t the context here.

18

merian 10.11.16 at 9:04 am

The longer this farce of a campaign proceeds, the clearer it becomes how Trump is different. He’s bid isn’t for president, it’s for dictator. Someone (dunno who, maybe John Dickerson) talked about his relation to power as something, once acquired, available for use however he sees fit, and that Americans have a hard time wrapping their mind around that.

If that’s the case, it may be part of the explanation for the apparent amnesia that Corey Robin keeps pointing out. When a politician says something that’s radical out of the ordinary, it’s usually been interpreted as an electoral play. A means to an end, and the end is winning an election and implementing a set of policies. Of course with legislatures hobbled by “government sceptic” elected officials, that picture has already been suffering already.

It’s a means to an end for Trump, too, but the end isn’t the same. There are no policies. A question about topic X is answered with “X is a disaster”. One might argue it doesn’t matter whether someone is plunged into economic calamity because of the policies of a principled conservative (should such a thing exist) or because of the crazy policies of a wannabe dictator, but the distribution of anxiety is quite different. Also, even if Trump is in a certain sense unique (only if you don’t look beyond borders…) it’s enough to defeat him: he is a unique[FSVO] catalyst, not a unique[FSVO] cause. Also, he’ll leave behind ideological toxic waste that wasn’t there before.

19

Foppe 10.11.16 at 9:39 am

Looking at the FB timelines of my ‘professional class’ milquetoast ‘progressive’ acquaintances in the US (who all gravitas/te towards Vox), who have since this weekend become unglued, this is very much a case of people deliberately goading themselves into frenzies, tumbling over one another in their attempts to win an apparent virtue-signalling-contest. Meanwhile, nary a word about “we came, we saw, he died”, as it apparently is just peachy to destroy a country if you want to tick ‘killing an autocrat who is not in the US’s pocket’ off your bucket-list.

20

Foppe 10.11.16 at 10:14 am

To put it bluntly, looking away and excusing evils one “understands” and thinks one can “contain” (except insofar as it affects non-nationals and the bottom 30-40%, anyway, but who cares about them) because the “other side” is perceived to be “more” evil/disruptive/threatening to the status quo is a pattern of behavior that disturbs me far more than the behavior of the other side, however nasty that may be.

21

Bob Zannelli 10.11.16 at 10:18 am

If Robin’s argument is that the GOP has been on a steady march to dangerous extremist politics before Trump he’s right. We can all remember the horror of someone like Palin being one heart beat from the presidency had McCain won over Obama. But Robin is dead wrong to argue that none of this is new. The GOP thanks to the Nixon Southern strategy and the deep pockets of far right elites like the Koch brothers , who created the Tea Party , the first manifestation of the Alt Right , is now producing candidates that are truly a grave danger to the United States and the world. Donald Trump is certainly this. So would have been Ben Carson , Ted Cruz and others in the GOP primary clown car , this is not normal politics any more.

Robin mentions calls to jail Nixon and Bush etc. to normalize Trumps shocking and erratic behavior at the last presidential debate, which included a promise to jail Hillary. . Robin attempt to equate this behavior with normal politics by pointing out that there were calls to jail Nixon , Bush and others is a bit strained on two counts. First these calls didn’t come from Obama ,or anyone of significance in the Democratic party. It’s unprecedented for a presidential candidate to threaten to use the power of the presidency to jail his opponent.This are judicial matters in a democracy. Two , there were arguably legitimate grounds to think real crimes had been committed in the case of Nixon and Bush, not the same as a phony scandal , like this email nonsense. Trump is clearly a very dangerous person to give the power of the Presidency to.

Of course all progressives are rightfully unhappy with the strong corporatist influence in the Democratic party, which has been , in some ways , an enabler of the GOP’s march to extremist politics. But unfortunately this has led to a dangerous left wing dogma, that it doesn’t matter who wins elections. Sensible people, need to wake up and see the real dangers ahead of us. We are seeing the rise of dangerous and frankly fascist politics which has taken over one of two major political parties in the United States.

22

Lee A. Arnold 10.11.16 at 10:24 am

Not so surprising that the main import of this has been overlooked by males.

Before getting to that, however: a few, stupid comments from this male: I can’t remember this being said before, in a main presidential debate. Yes it’s true, he’s said it before, but not on this stage. And yes certainly the public discourse has been headed downhill for a long, long time, so that there is less meaning in words. Thus, speakers and writers feel they need to be more demonstrative, to get their points across (e.g. we increasingly read curse words here in Crooked Timber threads). It may also lead to further lack of understanding of basic issues, in favor of emotional, in-group decisions, a sine qua non of fascism.

What many females saw and heard was VERY different: a man threatening a woman, up close and personal.

Just like many everyday sad, dangerous, horrible arguments in millions of homes across the world.

This is surely unprecedented in this particular arena.

I haven’t seen a note of this anywhere. Even the female twitterers are having trouble saying it outright. The media’s lack of attention to the main headline here (and the lack of attention of the media’s critics too) is far more telling. Shame on us all.

23

Lee A. Arnold 10.11.16 at 10:29 am

Oh and should have added: In that argument, a flawed, strong woman keeping her cool, and telegraphing it into the heart of every woman watching.

Do you miss signals, much?

24

Ronan(rf) 10.11.16 at 10:41 am

I’m reluctant enough to say anything too mean spirited about vox, as they all genuinely seem like decent sorts, and can provide quite useful information at times. But I really can’t read it anymore. Like so much of the media they have the ideological and cultural diversity of a klan rally, (though with better politics, obviously) and at this stage there’s little to be gained intellectually from re litigating liberal dogma for the nth time. And then there’s the inability to deal with uncertainty or not knowing. Everything has to have a neat explanation and convenient conclusion. This was most recently personified by beauchamps white riot article, which couldn’t just be a useful and interesting perspective , but was sold (literally) as “the truth”, with no complications or alternatives acceptable. Whatever happened to following Feynmans dictum:

“I You see, one thing, is I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things but I’m not absolutely sure of anything and then many things I don’t know anything about….
But I don’t have to know an answer, I don’t have to…i don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose which is the way it really is as far as I can tell possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.”

Beyond that though, what we should aspire towars is surrounding ourselves with people we find morally and politically awful. Literally, by reprehensible assholes (no offence to anyone here ; ) ) The only way we’re going to arrive at a rough approximation of the truth is to leave these ideological bubbles and embrace our enemies. This is the only way truth will emerge. And it’s not going to come from the regurgitated conventional wisdom of the anglosphere chattering classes

25

kidneystones 10.11.16 at 10:53 am

@19 Your legal expertise consists of exactly what? I have none but I know how to read and the reading makes it quite clear that Hillary’s use of the private server for State business was not sanctioned, that mixing Foundation documents with government documents did not give her the authority to destroy documents on the server after she received the subpoena, she was certainly not entitled to destroy devices with a hammer, bleach her hard drives and otherwise do everything possible to obstruct the FBI and justice department investigation.

Most tellingly, as the linked piece above at the NRO makes clear, Trump did not threaten to put Hillary in jail. Unlike Obama, who used one arm of his administration, his own Justice department, to investigate another arm of his own administration, the Secretary of State, Trump stipulated clearly that he would distance himself and his administration from any investigation by appointing a special prosecutor. His explicit remark re: jail was a counter-factual.

Had he been President, Hillary would have been in jail.

But you’re clever enough (I hope) to know and understand all this. It’s equally clear that you’re quite comfortable with Clinton Inc. taking de facto control of the Democratic party so that Hillary did not have to face the kind of opposition she did in 2008. You’re obviously equally cool with her 7 in a row coin toss escapade that ‘won’ her the Iowa primary, and the numerous cases of collusion between the Hillary campaign and the DNC, you know – the ones that forced Wasserman-Schultz to run fleeing from the podium during the train wreck called the Democratic Convention. Down the memory hole go the empty seats, the chain link fences, and emails suggesting Hillary’s only obstacle to power then was ‘possibly’ an agnostic, or a Jew. She gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop to give secret speeches to bankers and her daughter collected three six-figure salaries, one from NBC the folks who sat on the tape until just the right moment.

If she and Bill hadn’t harassed Jones et al, why then was she so shocked and rattled to see them up close? No desire for reconciliation? A healing hug? Bill banged a few of them, of that there’s no doubt and one credibly claimed he raped while serving as state attorney general.

Then there are the wars, none of which Hillary is responsible for. We came, we saw, he died has the character and the temperament to be in the oval office because she wouldn’t say shit when she obviously has more than a mouthful, but a guy who engages in lewd locker room talk can credibly be compared to Hitler.

Lee above says that Donald ‘loomed’ over Hillary. Ooooh. Well, she was sitting down half the time and he six-foot.

I suppose Trump could have just stretched out on the floor staring at the ceiling microphone in hand. That would have been the gentlemanly thing to do.

She wants to confront Russia over control of Syrian airspace, an act that could well put America on a collision course with both Russia and Iran. Speaking of which, you can learn a little bit more of the kinds of geopolitical changes Bush-Clinton-Obama and their doofus allies have wrought int he ME.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/08/iran-iraq-syria-isis-land-corridor

26

KA 10.11.16 at 11:09 am

Merits aside, Corey, your needless ageism seriously undermines your point IMO.

27

Lee A. Arnold 10.11.16 at 11:11 am

Perfect re-enactment of the husband, in the fight in the kitchen.

28

Layman 10.11.16 at 11:15 am

Ezra Klein: “This is one of the most shocking moments in my history of covering American politics.”

OP: “I guess if the jailing is of a leader of a less major party, it’s okay.”

I’m not sure I grasp the point of this objection. Klein’s history of covering American politics surely doesn’t stretch back to 1918, so there’s no contradiction at all. And if a shocking thing happens now, is it less shocking because it once happened in 1918?

To me, this seems like uncharitable reading of Klein. Is it possible Klein has forgotten not just the events of a few weeks ago, but also what he wrote about them a few weeks ago? I suppose so, but it doesn’t seem likely. What seems more likely is that the OP places more import in the word ‘moment’ than is called for or was intended; that Klein is speaking of the Trump phenomenon in its entirety, with Sunday’s Trump comments being just the latest and most egregious example.

29

Rich Puchalsky 10.11.16 at 11:21 am

Here’s an example of what I mean by refusal to think about history: people can simultaneously greet the likely-looking breakup of the GOP as a good thing and say that Trump is a unique threat.

Trump’s views are, historically, the extreme views of the GOP base. Never ever have people before called for locking HRC up except probably every day on talk radio somewhere. This has been happening ever since Bill Clinton’s term, complete with baroque inventions about Vince Foster and so on.

So the GOP is losing control of its base, and Trump emerges as the voice of that base. OK then, there are hazards to the GOP breaking up. The base is not going to go away just because the GOP does, if it does. They are something like a third of the population, and people can extoll democracy while thinking that they will always win with a third of the population solidly against them but that’s not true. The GOP propagandized its base and encouraged them in their craziness, but it also channelled them into positions that were more or less politically acceptable.

So you can’t have it both ways. If the GOP breaks up, then there will be a Trump in the next few elections. You either have to assume that this will not matter electorally because the candidate will lose, or look at what’s happening to the political system as a whole and stop gleefully celebrating things that are causing the same problems that you’re agonizing about.

30

Lee A. Arnold 10.11.16 at 11:36 am

I doubt that a breakup of the GOP would threaten the political system as a whole.

31

Ronan(rf) 10.11.16 at 12:20 pm

Definitionally, the breakup of one of the parties in a two party system threatens the political system

32

Marc 10.11.16 at 12:28 pm

People like Klein are engaged in electioneering for Clinton, and it’s effective to pretend that this year is unlike any other for the purposes of getting people to vote for your candidate.

I’m worried because the conditions are going to be basically perfect for a complete Republican takeover in 2020. In some sense, this election is a mirror of 1988. Clinton is likely to win as a deeply unpopular candidate, just as Bush did in 88, because of a deeply flawed opponent. Given her lack of charisma and her poor political instincts, it’s pretty easy to see her with extremely high disapproval ratings come 2020. The 2018 elections are likely to be brutal and to consolidate Republican control of the statehouses.

Given these headwinds, a clear-sighted view of the problems is crucial for Democrats. I have the sinking feeling that, instead, they’re going to be satisfied with a resounding defeat of Trump and tinkering around the edges.

33

awy 10.11.16 at 12:30 pm

I guess there is a difference between saying those things in a campaign rally and just wildly throwing it out there in a debate. debates are terrible and all but they have this standard of presentation that Trump disregarded. You are right though that the Trump fever swamp has been there for quite a long time and quietly accepted.

34

Lee A. Arnold 10.11.16 at 12:42 pm

Ronan(rf) #29: “Definitionally, the breakup of one of the parties in a two party system threatens the political system”

Definitionally it most certainly does NOT, in the United States, because the whole political system in the United States is not defined by the currently predominating two parties in the “6th Party System” (or 7th, depending upon which historian is counting). The political system is defined by the Constitution.

But going beyond this, what do YOU think is likely to happen if the GOP broke up?

35

oldster 10.11.16 at 12:45 pm

Complaining about naïveté at Vox is a sign of naïveté in the complainer.

Ezra did not forget about the earlier chants at the RNC. Ezra *pretended* to forget about the earlier chants at the RNC, because he saw that the debate had created a new opportunity to create momentum behind an anti-Trump message. To make the message maximally powerful, and to get a larger segment of the press and punditry behind the message, it was useful to pretend that a new red line had been crossed, a new outrage had been perpetrated, unlike any other.

So Ezra, and the Clinton campaign, and lots of other media types, all coordinated on a story: what Trump had just said was a shocking new violation of norms, worse than anything that had occurred before.

Look, it was strategically useful, and it seems to have worked in mobilizing a lot of sentiment to converge on one line of attack: lots and lots of people are saying “Trump is a tin-pot dictator!” who were not saying it before.

And Ezra’s putting on the appearance of historical naïveté helps to counter a genuine structural problem in dealing with Trump: Trump’s own constant, slow, incremental ratcheting up of offensive statements. He does not start out by saying the unsayable himself: first he has audience plants say it, and he ignores it. So that’s not the time to confront him, because he hasn’t said it himself. Then he says, “a lot of people are saying [unsayable thing],” but that’s not the time to confront him, either, because by then it is literally true. And so on as he normalizes the unsayable by small degrees.

It’s like the frog-boiling story (pretend it were true), in that if you want to stop the temperature rise, it may be strategically useful for everyone to agree that 75C is the temp at which they will all say, in a coordinated way, “the burner is on!” And then of course someone could accuse them of amnesia for forgetting that the burner has been on for a long time. But that person would be failing to understand how a coordinated media push works.

Remember when Captain Renault was shocked to discover that gambling was going on at Rick’s? Were you shocked to discover that he had not been aware of it previously? Were you appalled at his historical amnesia?

If so, then by all means condemn Ezra.

36

reason 10.11.16 at 12:54 pm

@15
“Anyway, if HRC actually broke the law… shouldn’t she face prosecution? “
OFCOL – she didn’t (in fact a perfectly independent FBI investigator after a thorough investigation said she didn’t).

37

oldster 10.11.16 at 1:02 pm

I’ve got a post stuck in moderation, but Marc makes my point in the first sentence of his #30.

38

Ronan(rf) 10.11.16 at 1:02 pm

Lee, do u not understand what the word threatens means? It doesn’t mean negates, it means that when one of the major component parts of the systems collapses then the system is threatened.
I have no idea what would happen if the GOP “broke up”(whatever that means). Fortune telling is not my game.

39

Lee A. Arnold 10.11.16 at 1:02 pm

Also, the nutty House committee couldn’t find any law broken, and they surely tried.

40

reason 10.11.16 at 1:12 pm

oldster @34
Yes the first sentence of Marc’s post is OK, but it goes off the rails after that. Lacking charisma and political judgement may be a big disadvantage in an election, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that she will govern badly. Her attention to detail and team instincts will be a positive boon. Incumbents have a definite advantage, but then it is not easy to predict what will happen in the next 4 years. Luck plays a big part in almost everything.

41

Lee A. Arnold 10.11.16 at 1:14 pm

Ronan(rf) @35, okay then, have it your way… Next, the full quote was: “If the GOP breaks up, then there will be a Trump in the next few elections. You either have to assume that this will not matter electorally because the candidate will lose, or look at what’s happening to the political system as a whole and stop gleefully celebrating things that are causing the same problems that you’re agonizing about.”

So to restate the question, what problems are you “agonizing about” in the “political system as a whole” such that, if the Trumpists will lose, a breakup of the GOP could not be “gleefully celebrated”?

42

reason 10.11.16 at 1:16 pm

Bob Zanelli @19 Yes.

43

ZM 10.11.16 at 1:23 pm

In Australia the government can’t order the police to even investigate a crime.

Can the American government really order the police to investigate Hilary Clinton or do these Republican people not understand the law?

44

oldster 10.11.16 at 1:25 pm

reason @38

I was not endorsing the rest of Marc’s #30, no.

I see in it mostly an understandable if neurotic response to the increasing likelihood of a Clinton win in 2016. Some people find good news itself to be a source of anxiety. “Sure, we may win one this time, but the bad news is still out there in the future, so let’s fixate on that.”

45

oldster 10.11.16 at 1:30 pm

I really should have said, “understandable because neurotic”. I’m like that myself. Even as Clinton’s victory is looking more and more believable, I am still holding my breath and focusing on the downsides. We’re like that.

46

reason 10.11.16 at 1:30 pm

oldster @41
Thanks for the clarification.

I hope Hillary has better IT support as president than the mess at the foreign office (which was the real problem, here behavior was apparently par for the course).

47

lemmy caution 10.11.16 at 1:35 pm

The special prosecutor + “you are going to jail” was new. Moves it from something that somehow is going to happen to something he is going to arrange. Honestly the special prosecutor part by itself was new and inappropriate.

48

ZM 10.11.16 at 1:37 pm

“The special prosecutor + “you are going to jail” was new. “

Can your government really order the police to do investigations?

49

Lee A. Arnold 10.11.16 at 1:50 pm

Not legally, after Nixon.

50

Rich Puchalsky 10.11.16 at 1:51 pm

“The special prosecutor + “you are going to jail” was new.”

I already brought up the Bill Clinton history. The “you are going to jail” is arguably new, but the special prosecutor really is not.

51

kidneystones 10.11.16 at 1:54 pm

@44 A majority of Americans believed Hillary should have been prosecuted for her handling of the emails. Must be racists and women-haters.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/majority-disapproves-decision-charge-clinton-emails-poll/story?id=40445344

One set of laws for the ruling class, and another for the rest of us. The FBI director stipulated that any other suspected felon could not expect the same exceptional treatment.

Had she been charged and facing trial she would have been out of the race right now.

You’re defending the theft of the election.

52

Ronan(rf) 10.11.16 at 1:57 pm

Lee Arnold, you will have to ask rich what he meant, because mind reading (along with fortune telling) is not a skill I possess.
But at a rough first guess. In that hypothetical where the GOP breaks up, I assume I nto a nativist wing and a more conventional conservative wing, then you could guess the nativist wing will more than likely run with a trump like candidate. So you get to the next election with another trump (though probably worse ) butall but a guaranteed democrat victory. So you have all but institutionalised and normalised aggressive, vocal racism and xenophobia. Eventually the dems will suffer the incumbents curse, and be challenged for power . So what does the opposition now look like ? what would long term one party rule do to the countrys political institutions? How would it effect political norms and Viter preferences ? What would the democrats look like after running largely unchallenged (or challenged by virulent racists) for a generation?
I don’t know, personally. This is just a rough first guess at the hypothetical. You seem to not really care because the constitution will still exist, or something ?

53

Rich Puchalsky 10.11.16 at 2:01 pm

Ronan(rf) has amazing mind-reading (or perhaps just “reading”) powers, because yes, that is pretty much what I meant.

(The only difference is that I think that the conventional conservative wing is likely to merge with the Democratic Party).

54

Marc 10.11.16 at 2:30 pm

@37: Corey’s point, which I’m endorsing, is that this isn’t year zero. We know the usual cycles of politics; it’s unusual for one party to hold the White House for 3 cycles and extraordinarily rare to hold it for 4. We know that Clinton has extremely high disapproval ratings and she is very much a known ingredient in her politics and approach. She could surprise, but all of the known signs are not encouraging.

Dems should know this history and be prepared for, instead of being shocked at major setbacks after a big Trump defeat.

55

lemmy caution 10.11.16 at 2:45 pm

Did a major US candidate ever threaten another major US candidate with a special prosecutor?

56

lemmy caution 10.11.16 at 2:51 pm

“Had she been charged and facing trial she would have been out of the race right now.”

That is what I considered the context of the “lock her up” bullshit. get her out of the race. That isn’t what is going on with Trump’s comments. Trump’s comments are about revenge.

57

reason 10.11.16 at 3:04 pm

lemmy caution
Please ignore kidneystones.

58

stevenjohnson 10.11.16 at 3:07 pm

kidneystones @48 People in authority, which includes law enforcement, knew while Clinton was Secretary of State she was taking emails on a private server. They had to know, because the address for the emails had to be available or they couldn’t have emailed her. If it wasn’t a problem then, it isn’t a problem now.

That’s true, even if a corrupt police bureaucrat like Comey wants to pretend his political opinions are anything but an improper intervention. Unsafe to use a private server? After Snowden, Manning and the entire career of wikileaks, not to mention the allegations about Russian and north Korean cyberwarfare, Comey needs to explain how using a government server is safe! It’s not even unprecedented. Powell did the same, even if dumbasses want to excuse this as being somehow slipping in before some regs.

No, sorry to say that buying into email scandal as anything but business as usual, especially by people who vocally approve the American way of exceptional profits, is nothing but…sorry, no way to be properly forceful but to correctly call it “dumbfuckery.” This is probably why people are looking for things like chauvinism or internalizing the decades of insane attacks by mad dog reactionaries as the causes of such flagrant stupidity.

And yes, political prosecutions are legal, but highly destructive to any system that permits such nonsense. I mean, really, it was the threat of a political prosecution that “forced” Caesar to cross the Rubicon. The effects are rarely helpful. Consider for example one of the most notorious political prosecutions in recent times, the impeachment of Bill Clinton. (Isn’t the glee over the Trump tape exactly like the glee over the blue dress? And just as likely to lead to anything worthwhile?) Prof. Robin has either forgotten, or for some inexplicable reason things deems it a good thing.

As for the election being over, the polls for Brexit or the polls for the FARC peace treaty show that it’s not over til the votes are counted, or not, as intimidation and fraud may (or may not) determine. There isn’t the slightest reason to be sure the down ballot Republican Party is going to be dragged down by the candidate the party has resisted from the beginning.

It all depends on turnout. The relentless assault on Clinton will probably have its desired effect of suppressing turnout. The humane feelings of the population at large have always suggested the majority will endorse Clinton, who passes for human much better than Trump. But the US political system is designed for minority rule. It’s still too possible for Trump to win the electoral college. Although CT and its commentariat unhesitatingly support the same viciously reactionary policies in action under Obama (even as they pretend on occasion to oppose them as they predict Clinton’s future,) those same fundamentally incompetent policies leave Trump hope for a disaster that seemingly vindicates him.

Last and least, the question of Trump’s precedents is irrelevant when the gravity of Trump’s precedents are falsified. Trump’s closest precedent is Nixon. The historical revisionism where Nixon was just another conservative implicitly tells us Watergate was an unjust power grab by malign liberal media. This is part and parcel of the increasing move towards reaction.

59

kidneystones 10.11.16 at 3:18 pm

53@ The majority of Americans wanted her charged for her actions.

You’re welcome to believe that her use of the private server (in direct violation of State department guidelines, but useful when avoiding FOI requests), mishandling of classified materials, and destruction of evidence merit no charges, or even investigation, as long as you understand most Americans wanted her charged for her actions.

Her corruption is the corruption of the 1%, whom she serves. Her wars are the wars of the 1%. Her supporters are the elite 1%. The recent leaks confirm collusion between the Hillary campaign and the DNC to tilt the primary in favor of Hillary. The most recent leaks confirm the Obama WH and the Kerry State department worked to suppress evidence and FOI requests.

I don’t dispute that parts of the Trump campaign are about ‘revenge’ or at least replying in kind. The attacks on Bill’s predatory sexual behavior is certainly that. The email case is simply an illustrative example of elite corruption involving various branches of government, the media, the Clinton foundation and a global list of grifters.

Some partisans suggest that Clinton was never going to be charged because the WH has known from day 1 that charging Clinton would also mean charging Obama, who knew of the server from day 1, and well aware how insecure the system for handling State documents actually was. Hard as it may be to imagine (and it is hard to imagine at this juncture) Clinton might not be the only one indicted should Trump win and get his special prosecutor.

The world will certainly look very different should he pull this out. Hard to imagine.

60

kidneystones 10.11.16 at 3:26 pm

@ 55 stevenjohnson. I have no problem with much of this, or most of your comments. You’re quite right to draw our attention to the grave insecurities in America’s cyber defenses. I’m certainly not one who sees the outcome as certain. The health of the Republicans at the state level is very good already, in many cases, and the revulsion for the corruption in the media and government that is fueling Trumpism and support for Bernie is unlikely to decline should Trump be defeated.

61

MPAVictoria 10.11.16 at 3:41 pm

“Her corruption is the corruption of the 1%, whom she serves.”

And Trump doesn’t?

62

Sebastian H 10.11.16 at 3:43 pm

No I think the critique is that our choices are both going to serve the 1%.

63

mrearl 10.11.16 at 4:03 pm

Lee Arnold @25: Yes, exactly. The homicidal bitchin’ that goes on in every kitchen, to quote Leonard Cohen. Creepy, but oh so mundane.

64

kidneystones 10.11.16 at 4:10 pm

@58 No, not the same. She lacks his money.

Hillary and her husband spent their early years striving and grasping, they became rich while abasing themselves before Trump and his ilk. Trump is of the 1 percent – born into money and making and losing much more than Bill and Hillary. Trump has the money they covet and sell out to gain. That’s why they attended his wedding, back when his vulgarian manners were a normal part of Clinton world. He’s always/usually been rich and never the one until very, very recently groveling for cash to fund his political aspirations.

Feel free to ignore the distinction.

65

marcel proust 10.11.16 at 4:11 pm

I think that CR is wrong to cite Debs as a precedent for Trump’s threats on this campaign.
If my historical information below is incorrect, I hope someone will make the effort to correct me; this is what I recall from reading about this spread over more than 4 decades.

Debs was not prosecuted for being a political opponent of Wilson’s; he was prosecuted and convicted for specific activities.* Furthermore, he was not singled out for prosecution & jailing; many others (thousands?) who actively opposed US participation in WW1 also went to jail: socialists and other pacifists including religious objectors, as well as many of German (and perhaps Irish) ancestry.

Trump’s threats to jail Clinton are unique. He has not called for the prosecution, much less the jailing of either of her 2 immediate predecessors as SecState despite their use of non-govt. email servers, nor of anyone else in the Bush White House, despite their use of a private server run by the RNC and the disappearance of many more emails than she is accused of deleting. She is being singled out for some combination of being a Clinton and for being the candidate running against Trump. It is obvious to me that he is doing this now to cement his appeal to his base; I do not recall the last time a major candidate insisted that his (main) opponent belongs in prison.

Why does this matter to the rest of us? Because norms matter. When elephants fight, the grass suffers. Collusion among elite factions is a serious problem, but selectively criminalizing & prosecuting behavior — IOKIYAR — is even more serious.

*This is not the place to debate the wisdom or justice of the law he broke; there seems to be little question that he did break that law, though according to Wikipedia, he tried to tailor his words to keep from crossing that line. We can stipulate that he and many others were prosecuted and jailed for actively opposing US participation in WWI after the Espionage Act became law.

66

Omega Centauri 10.11.16 at 4:22 pm

I largely agree with Marc, which it seems most here want to be in opposition to.
My qustion for Marc is that he suggests that the only real hope is to do much more than tinkering around the edges. Given the weak legislative position that HRC will almost certainly be in, and the fact that her lack of charisma and lack of trust by the electorate will make it hard for her to appeal directly to the people. What do you have in mind? Any constructive suggestions will be welcome.

awy@31 (comparing rally speech to debate speech). The difference is the audience. A rally is preaching to the choir. Perhaps a few political junkies who aren’t water carriers will watch, but they are so few in number that they can be nearly ignored. A national debate is meant for a national audience, a plurality of which aren’t already devoted followers.

reason@37.
She may well govern well (and I suspect she will given the constraints, even prossibly in foreign policy). However, our politics runs almost entirely on perception, not reality. I don’t think she will have much capacity to change perception.

67

Layman 10.11.16 at 4:24 pm

kidneystones: “The majority of Americans wanted her charged for her actions.”

Well, they did in July. More recent polls show that less than half of respondents are concerned about the emails.

Besides, I’m struggling to grasp your point. If a majority thinks she’s guilty if a crime, does that make her guilty of a crime? Despite what people empowered to enforce the law think?

kidneystones: “Had he been President, Hillary would have been in jail.”

How do you imagine this would happen? Trump would somehow try to overrule the FBI and the Department of Justice, like Nixon did? And you do understand that the President has no authority to appoint a special prosecutor, don’t you?

68

LFC 10.11.16 at 4:48 pm

stevenjohnson @55 refers to Obama’s “viciously reactionary” policies, but it’s obvious that *anyone* who might conceivably be elected POTUS would pursue policies that s.johnson considers viciously reactionary. If Sanders or even someone to his left were elected pres., chances are good that s.johnson wd be on CT denouncing them as vicious reactionaries, along w the entire CT commentariat treated as a monolithic bloc.

69

Rich Puchalsky 10.11.16 at 5:08 pm

marcel proust: “Furthermore, he was not singled out for prosecution & jailing; many others (thousands?) who actively opposed US participation in WW1 also went to jail: socialists and other pacifists including religious objectors, as well as many of German (and perhaps Irish) ancestry.”

Which is how the U.S. government broke the IWW: they had had an anti-war position for as long as they existed, but backed down on doing any actual, coordinated resistance in favor of preserving their ability to organize workers. But that wasn’t enough and they were broken anyways.

Let’s not dismiss this as ancient history. Do you know who else is being charged under the Espionage Acts of 1917? Snowden. This is still very much living U.S. law, and the people who say that we must elect HRC at all costs are generally the same people who don’t care that Obama is using it.

70

marcel proust 10.11.16 at 5:27 pm

Rich @ 66: I have not dismissed this episode as ancient history, merely as being a precedent for Trump’s threats to prosecute & jail (sentence first, verdict later). I had been aware of the threat to Snowden, and got into an argument at a house party a couple of years ago with my more left-than-average-Democratic-CongressCritter about whether Snowden is a hero or not.

I both believe that we must elect HRC at (nearly) all costs and that Obama has been very disappointing on a number of issues with respect to national security, including treatment of whistleblowers and leakers. To say that he has been disappointing on some (even many) dimensions should not blind us to progress that has been made in the last 8 years on many dimensions, including some of the same ones on which he has been a disappointment.

I don’t expect much more from HRC. I anticipate considerably less from DT. The remaining years of my life and more important, those of my children and grandchildren, will be much better if HRC is elected than if DT is. The appointments she makes to administrative agencies (esp. ETA, NLRB, OSHA) and courts, the differences in the types of policies she will (try to) implement and the pressures that she will respond to are all important. Will she usher in the new millenium? Don’t be silly. But my life and those of many others, including those important to me, will be much better with her in the white house.

71

David 10.11.16 at 5:30 pm

@ Marc

Agree completely. All we’d need to make the analogy with HW Bush complete is for HRC to try unsuccessfully to goose her approval ratings by having another go at Iraq in 2019 (which seems only too plausible).

72

Lee A. Arnold 10.11.16 at 5:34 pm

Ronan(rf) #49: “You seem to not really care because the constitution will still exist, or something?”

Exactly so!! There is something interesting going on here, though some of how it plays out depends upon the Congressional results next month.

The big picture is that the Democratic base is heading toward the Sanders & Warren left.

Depending on the makeup of Congress, policymaking will reflect that. But the Ryan/Romney “moderate” GOP is not about to join the Dems, unless they can get their big tax cuts for the mega-wealthy; that really is their total agenda. But the only way that Hillary will agree to that (because tax rates are always temporary anyhow), is if she gets so much that is progressive in return from the GOP moderates, that she isn’t destroyed by her own angry party in the 2020 election.

Meanwhile the TrumpTeas have moved altright, and any top ticket they choose is presumed (for now) to remain unelectable. Aggressive vocal racism and xenophobia is here already! Hoping to keep a lid on these knuckleheads, and keeping them in the GOP, is certainly not in the moderate GOP’s public-relations agenda. So, the moderate GOP is unlikely to immediately rejoin with them, either.

Thus these “Ryan/Romney” moderate Republicans have a very big numbers problem (except in certain districts) for the next few election cycles. That makes a possibility that there will be at least 3 candidates in the next Presidential election too, and the Dems would win.

It would help the moderates, if Trump would disappear. This is very unlikely. He has every incentive to create the Trump political cable & social media network: his ego, personal legacy, commercial profit, dancing girls, — & absolute loathing for the moderate GOP, for just now stabbing him in the back.

Maybe the moderate GOP will try to bring in the libertarian party, to get their numbers back up? A possibility… Problem there is, Ryan’s next strategy appears to be to make a new coalition with a lot more gov’t aid (a big libertarian no-no) to displaced labor, in return for those mega-rich tax cuts.

It would help the moderates, if Trump would disappear. This is unlikely! He has every incentive to create the Trump political cable & social media network: ego, personal legacy, commercial profit, dancing girls — & absolute loathing for the moderate GOP, who are just now stabbing him in the back.

This is why Republican strategists are currently freaking out big-time.

So I wouldn’t worry too much about “incumbents curse”. It is not a necessary thing — nor, if it happens, a bad thing. Nor worry about what the Democrats will look like in a generation from now! As long as the Constitution still exists, who cares? Reality is much more interesting.

73

awy 10.11.16 at 5:42 pm

it’s hilarious seeing these leftists clamoring for an expansive reading of vague provisions of the espionage act. just too much

74

soru 10.11.16 at 6:19 pm

In a poll asking the question ‘have you ever been decapitated?’, 4% of Americans reported ‘yes’.

Trump is still polling higher than that, but not so very far above the 26% who back young earth creationism.

Those who claim this is not going to be a watershed election need to show their working.

75

Anarcissie 10.11.16 at 6:36 pm

Who clamored for an expansive reading of the espionage act? I missed that.

76

Lupita 10.11.16 at 6:54 pm

This election also can be seen in a more general, global context of how forces have been accommodating to the end of the cold war. Perhaps a detour into the history of some 3rd world banana republics, those that many Americans deem as deplorable as a Trump supporter, can shed some light.

Starting in the 50’s, and with the expressed goal of modernizing their countries (meaning an accelerated capitalist development with the US as its model and as the only possible model) military and terror regimes took over South America (Paraguay: 1954-1991, Chile: 1973-1990, Argentina: 1976-1982, Uruguay: 1966- 1985). For the most part, before being forced out of power, these military regimes declared amnesty for themselves. Enter truth commissions, whose purpose is to investigate the causes of violence and human rights violations and to establish judicial responsibility.

Back in the US, those responsible for human rights violations around the world, such as torture, extra-judicial assassinations, and renditions, have never been brought to justice and the mere mention of Clinton (a politician!) facing jail for a very minor infraction is considered in undemocratic bad taste.

Conclusion: perhaps more than a special prosecutor, a commission of truth is in order, but not at the moment, after the US crumbles as the USSR did. Only then can 3rd worlders hope to see Kissinger, Bush, Blair, Aznar, Obama, and all their enablers brought to justice. For the moment, we have to put up with the spectacle of some Americans, in an intent at preemptive amnesty, outraged at the mere thought that their presumptive tin-pot, global Caesar is not above suspicion and that they themselves are better than 3rd worlders.

77

Stan 10.11.16 at 6:56 pm

“People in authority, which includes law enforcement, knew while Clinton was Secretary of State she was taking emails on a private server. They had to know, because the address for the emails had to be available or they couldn’t have emailed her.”

Nonsense. Trivia, but nonsense.

It is a simple matter to automatically forward all emails from one receipt address to another. You have no idea the ‘real’ email address of people who are doing this.

78

lemmy caution 10.11.16 at 6:59 pm

“It is a simple matter to automatically forward all emails from one receipt address to another. You have no idea the ‘real’ email address of people who are doing this.”

Not if you want to make sure no classified info goes to the private server.

79

Asteele 10.11.16 at 7:12 pm

Unlike previous jailing of presidential candidates , threatening to jail Hillary is a serious because it is not part of a campaign to jail thousands of people for political reasons, is an interesting tact to take.

80

likbez 10.11.16 at 7:16 pm

stevenjohnson ,

kidneystones @48 People in authority, which includes law enforcement, knew while Clinton was Secretary of State she was taking emails on a private server. They had to know, because the address for the emails had to be available or they couldn’t have emailed her. If it wasn’t a problem then, it isn’t a problem now.

This is technically incorrect. SMTP mail is very old and pretty convoluted protocol.
Existance of private address means only that the email server exists but it does not determine where the mailbox is located (multiple layers of redirection are possible).

the level of incompetence and malevolence that Clinton and her associated demonstrated is simple staggering for any specialist or lawyer. Which acpects of it can be proven beound reasonable doubt is an intereting theoretical question, but for any apecialist it is clear that Hillary not only cut corners and but also had driven on red light. As simple as that.

The essence of emailgate is not existence of email server per se. the strongest part of evidence against her is the saga of destroying “non-essential” emails while being under investigation and indirectly instructing technical personnel to use special technical means which make deleted emails unrecoverable. You might wish to look at

http://www.thompsontimeline.com/the-hidden-smoking-gun-the-combetta-cover-up/

for more detailed information

Based on the amount of evidence collected my personal opinion is that this might well be a provable offence.

That means that Hillary risks impeachment if elected. So the idea of assigning special prosecutor is baked in the case independently of who wins in November.

The other, less important, but still pretty damning part of emailgate is that Hillary essentially created and maintained their own shadow IT within the State Department. This view was suggested in
http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neocons/Hillary/hillary_clinton_email_scandal.shtml

This connects emailgate with Clinton Foundation making the latter a criminal enterprise under RICO statute.

81

Sebastian_H 10.11.16 at 7:17 pm

“Not if you want to make sure no classified info goes to the private server.”

I’m not much of a Clinton defender, which may be a bit of an understatement, but I believe we should attack her on real areas. The email servers and the dealings afterwards are a mess, but the classified point isn’t a good one in this context. My understanding is that the email address in question wasn’t supposed to be receiving much in the way of classified information. (That was supposed to be done by controlled phone or controlled fax).

82

roger gathmann 10.11.16 at 7:22 pm

I gotta say, the one positive about Trump is he does tear down the wall of impunity that the elite have enjoyed over the last thirty years, with all the trimmings. When he throws his lack of taxes in the face of Clinton and says, you made me – sort of like Frankenstein’s monster to the dr. – he’s literally wrong, but – in the spirit of the letter – right. Income tax was never meant to be used to tax the middle or working class – it was a tax on higher incomes. Funny how the strict constructionists never go back to the discussion around the passage of the 16th amendment. It is now the opposite – the wealthy have a huge panoply of deductions they can chose from that have no economic justification whatsoever.
So I wouldn’t mind if one candidate – Donald Trump – ends up in jail after all this is done. Cause from his psycho sex life to his cheating of subcontractors, enough has been revealed to make a sensible person ask: why isn’t Donald Trump in Jail? For the answer to which, we might go to those Clinton speech excerpts where she showers pity on misunderstood bankers. Donald Trump isn’t in jail cause the system is crooked. He should take himself as exhibit no. 1
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/10/if-trump-werent-a-monster-clintons-speeches-would-matter.html

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kent 10.11.16 at 7:24 pm

Agree vox’s self-definition as “explain the news” is misleading, and their reality is closer to “interpret the news from a moderate-left/technocrat POV”

But I really, really, really don’t get the point of the OP’s final lines. Trump as ringmaster and vox as clowns? Huh? Trump is a risk to our future and vox is pointing that out — which they take (I think rightly) to be their job. They point it out over and over again, and attach the point to every possible news hook? Good for them!

How is vox’s response to Trump different/worse than, say, the MSM’s response to Watergate? (Or any other journalist’s response to any other perceived abuse of power?) Serious question.

84

Layman 10.11.16 at 7:30 pm

likbez: “Based on the amount of evidence collected my personal opinion is that this might well be a provable offence.”

Another armchair prosecutor. Can you please articulate the offense, and cite the statute?

85

The Temporary Name 10.11.16 at 7:32 pm

Back to the OP, kooky nonsense in front of your own crowd is one thing, telling your opponent in a presidential debate you’ll jail them is another. That’s the big stage, and ordinarily you pretend you’re meeting to talk for the good of America because a bunch of people who really haven’t been paying attention might be watching.

It’s right that the content isn’t shocking because Trump and his compatriots are reliably nutty, but that the form of these things just does not see direct threats.

86

Bob Zannelli 10.11.16 at 8:29 pm

It’s amazing to see how all the left wing loonies here are rooting for a collapse of the United States, just like it happened in the USSR. I guess they are too stupid to understand how really great this was for the elite ownership class in Russia as it would be here for the US ownership class. Leftist could give two shits about about the human suffering of working class people, extremism is extremism whether they worship Karl Marx or Ayn Rand

87

likbez 10.11.16 at 8:56 pm

@81

18 U.S. Code § 793(e) and (f). This offense carries a potential penalty of ten years imprisonment.
Executive Order 13526 “The unauthorized disclosure of foreign government information is presumed to cause damage to the national security.” , Sec. 1.1(4)(d) (for violations committed after December 29, 2009)
44 U.S. Code § 3106 – Unlawful removal, destruction of records

88

stevenjohnson 10.11.16 at 9:03 pm

stan and likbez are quite correct about the technical possibility of nefarious things that can be done email, such as having the regular state department dot gov server forward to a secret server, or even for the final server to be screened behind multiple redirects. Since neither occurred according to any reports that I’ve seen, the technical possibilities are entirely irrelevant. If they have, how curious no one emphasizes such obvious duplicity. The presumption that all emails on a private server are to be surrendered on demand needs justification. Sorry, but at this point these objection rather demonstrate my point about the folly of the whole fake scandal. It’s not tortoises all the way down, it’s cattle futures!

LFC @65 complains about me treating the entire CT commentariat as a monolithic bloc. And I don’t think LFC is too happy about seeing all mainstream politicians as viciously reactionary, either. (Yes, that includes Bernie.) At this point, I can only think of this as a wish that the CT commentariat was solidly monolithic, without frustrated drop ins. LFC may have a point.

89

Bob Zannelli 10.11.16 at 9:05 pm

And I don’t think LFC is too happy about seeing all mainstream politicians as viciously reactionary, either. (Yes, that includes Bernie.)

When you argue that Bernie Sanders is a reactionary you must be an idiot.

90

likbez 10.11.16 at 9:17 pm

@83
If prosecutor really wants a long jail term he can try 18 U.S.C. § 1519

91

Lupita 10.11.16 at 9:20 pm

Great job, Bob Zannelli. Just call those you disagree with stupid, loony idiots. Have you ever considered a career in US politics or the media? Your ilk is currently in great demand in those circles.

92

Bob Zannelli 10.11.16 at 9:35 pm

Great job, Bob Zannelli. Just call those you disagree with stupid, loony idiots. Have you ever considered a career in US politics or the media? Your ilk is currently in great demand in those circles

Not any worst than calling Bernie Sanders a reactionary. Do you really think anyone calling Sanders a reactionary has a real grasp on reality. Also you might think that many here want to see Trump win so we can have a nice economic and social implosion which I guess they think will give us the Union of Soviet Socialist States of America.Has anyone here who is no doubt living in a relatively pampered and safe western society actually lived through a such an event? I rather doubt it. It NEVER turns out well. Sorry but the left can be as stupid and evil as the right, it’s a sad truth. So I don’t apologize

93

Another Nick 10.11.16 at 9:46 pm

likbez @83: 18 U.S. Code § 793(e) and (f). This offense carries a potential penalty of ten years imprisonment.

You’re alleging Hillary Clinton may have been involved in ‘obtaining and transmitting blueprints of submarine bases, naval yards, torpedo stations, railroads, research laboratories, aircraft, vessels etc; documents, maps, models, code books, photographic negatives etc, to foreign powers with an intent to injure the United States’?

Now that is rich.

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Bob Zannelli 10.11.16 at 9:54 pm

Maybe the moderate GOP will try to bring in the libertarian party, to get their numbers back up? A possibility… Problem there is, Ryan’s next strategy appears to be to make a new coalition with a lot more gov’t aid (a big libertarian no-no) to displaced labor, in return for those mega-rich tax cuts.

There is nothing moderate about the libertarian party. And the GOP needs their religious nuts to win elections. BTW the Libertarians I know are more than willing to sign on to the religious right’s agenda. Don’t kid yourself. This “Freedom” party was originally established by powerful corporate elites to get rid of the New Deal and Great Society programs, they could care less about anything else. The Koch Brothers fund all kinds of religious right organizations because it promotes their agenda

95

Lupita 10.11.16 at 9:57 pm

Has anyone here who is no doubt living in a relatively pampered and safe western society actually lived through a such an event?

I have. And you are right, it never turns out well. Still, I am a socialist and an anti-imperialist. Have you ever lived through a CIA-sponsored coup, a military invasion, or IMF-sponsored austerity to be certain that living through all that is preferable to the demise of American hegemony? In the post you responded to, by calling me stupid, I mentioned the Dirty War in Argentina and Pinochet’s regime, both supported by the US. Do you think living through those is preferable to a multi-polar global arrangement?

96

likbez 10.11.16 at 10:00 pm

@89
Can you please try to distinguish (a) vs (e) and (f). That might help…

97

Another Nick 10.11.16 at 10:21 pm

Regarding e, see above. Where’s the ‘wilful intent to injure the United states’? And who is alleging she had “unauthorized possession” of anything?

Regarding f, explain how deleting a *copy* of an email you’ve received or sent yourself from your own personal server, becomes the destruction or loss or theft of a “document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense”?

Suffice to say, any defence information that an email sent to a politician contains, or might relate to, still exists somewhere else in “its proper place of custody”.

98

Bob Zannelli 10.11.16 at 10:28 pm

I have. And you are right, it never turns out well. Still, I am a socialist and an anti-imperialist. Have you ever lived through a CIA-sponsored coup, a military invasion, or IMF-sponsored austerity to be certain that living through all that is preferable to the demise of American hegemony? In the post you responded to, by calling me stupid, I mentioned the Dirty War in Argentina and Pinochet’s regime, both supported by the US. Do you think living through those is preferable to a multi-polar global arrangement?

I don’t have any illusions about what the United States has done in the third world or the failure and murderous and enslaving tyranny of communism. The point is that thinking that a global collapse will somehow bring justice and happiness into the world because the unwashed masses will rise up and overthrow their oppressors is a little crazy. If you think this, you haven’t spent any quality time with the unwashed masses. Most of them don’t want to bring justice to the world, they want the job of being oppressors. Given that we are only a thin sliver of DNA from other less thoughtful apes, we haven’t done too badly. But we do have a great potential to do a lot worst as our sorry history reveals. The only way progress happens is one election at a time. And I know how the system is rigged , but frankly it’s mostly ignorance and stupidity that makes the elite so powerful. Because of this democracy has only been marginally successful at creating a more just society. But throughout history, it’s the only thing that has been shown to work. No sane person should hope to see the rule of law and the democratic republic be destroyed and that’s the very real threat Trump poses

99

RichardM 10.11.16 at 10:39 pm

@91: err, all of those, and worse, happened during a ‘multi-polar global arrangement’.

The fundamental driver of imperialism is competition between empires. Which requires more than one.

100

likbez 10.11.16 at 10:54 pm

Hi Another Nick,

@93

A very simple question to you: Is not the notion of a “note relating to the national defense” include emails, for example, emails related to the targets of drone strikes, which were present in the steam?

As for “proper place of custody” this argument is not applicable to the deletion of emails when a person is under federal or Congressional investigation. In this case the act of deletion itself constitute the violation of the statute independently of the “proper place of custody” and sensitivity of information in the email.

I would recommend to read (or re-read) URLs that were provided above. They contain wealth of information and arguments both pro and contra. The one about ‘shadow It” created by Hillary is slightly outdated, but still useful. And they might help to answer your next questions :-)

I tend to view Hillary Clinton as a person, who escaped prosecution due to Obama pardon delivered via Comey (probably under pressure from Bill Clinton via Loretta Lynch). Essentially putting herself above the law, by the fact of belonging to “ruling neoliberal elite”, the 0.01%. Your mileage can vary.

101

Lupita 10.11.16 at 10:58 pm

@ Bob Zannelli

The point is that thinking that a global collapse will somehow bring justice and happiness into the world because the unwashed masses will rise up and overthrow their oppressors is a little crazy.

I never stated that. I wrote that “after the collapse” there could be a truth commission to investigate the human rights violations committed during the period of Western hegemony. I say this because the actual truth commissions formed have been after the terror regimes fall, not during.

No sane person should hope to see the rule of law and the democratic republic be destroyed and that’s the very real threat Trump poses

That is what successive US governments have done: destroy democratic republics around the world. So who are the sane, those who support the continuation of Pax Americana or the anti-imperialists?

102

Tabasco 10.11.16 at 11:04 pm

In some sense, this election is a mirror of 1988

Yes and no. Dukakis was not in any way the equivalent of Trump. The Democrats weren’t at each others throats in 1988, and there was no equivalent of the base. (The small number of leftists in the Dems supported Jesse Jackson, whose candidacy went nowhere.) There is no equivalent of the DNC in the Republican Party to make it electable. The Repubs have a deep structural problem, which is that prospective candidates have to appeal to the base to win primaries, but that is a big turn off for the voters as a whole. This isn’t so much a problem in congressional districts; especially when they are gerrymandered; it can be a problem at state level, depending on the state; and it is a huge problem for a national election.

103

Scott J. Tepper 10.11.16 at 11:50 pm

Look at the bright side. Now Trump is merely trying to imprison his political opponent. A couple of months ago he wanted his supporters to murder her.

104

awy 10.12.16 at 12:14 am

#72

relevant laws are under the espionage act. ctrl f this thread for 793

105

kidneystones 10.12.16 at 1:23 am

Back to the OP. There’s a bumper crop of new email on the topic of the press and debate moderators colluding with the Hillary campaign to: screw Sanders (Boston Herald – also on board for anti-Trump), minimize damage from the email fallout, and best of all (for me) John Harwood (neutral debate moderator) providing written evidence that even that venue was tilted to damage Trump and protect Hillary.

It’s never the crime, always the cover-up.

http://dailycaller.com/2016/10/11/nytcnbcs-john-harwood-advises-clinton-campaign-gloats-about-provoking-trump-at-debate/

106

Another Nick 10.12.16 at 1:34 am

Hi likbez,

“A very simple question to you: Is not the notion of a “note relating to the national defense” include emails, for example, emails related to the targets of drone strikes, which were present in the steam?”

Pretty much any information marked as classified in the stream could be deemed to be “related to the national defense”.

But she didn’t “remove” or “thieve” the “notes” from their “proper place of custody” for the purpose of transmitting them to others in an act of espionage.

They were emailed to her personal server, for her own personal use.

And she didn’t “destroy” or “lose” the “notes” or the information they contained in an act of “gross negligence” that could be found to have caused injury to the United States (deaths of soldiers or agents overseas etc.)

She deleted her personal copy of them from her server. Akin to chewing up a classified message *legitimately destined for you and nobody else* and swallowing it after you’ve read it.

107

kidneystones 10.12.16 at 1:41 am

@102 You may be right about 1998, but the media treatment of the two candidates is very 2007-8. I remember the Obama press corps chanting ‘Yes, we can.’ on camera.

Then as now the peon press imagine that they and their chosen candidate share some close bond.

After November, either way, it’s back to ‘take a hike.’ And the countdown for the ‘next’ press conference begins again. The press will only notice when 100 or more days of ‘no questions, please’ is jammed into their faces.

108

Bob Zannelli 10.12.16 at 1:44 am

The point is that thinking that a global collapse will somehow bring justice and happiness into the world because the unwashed masses will rise up and overthrow their oppressors is a little crazy.

I never stated that. I wrote that “after the collapse” there could be a truth commission to investigate the human rights violations committed during the period of Western hegemony. I say this because the actual truth commissions formed have been after the terror regimes fall, not during.

))))))))))))))

You seem to live in an alternate reality

)))))))))))))))))

No sane person should hope to see the rule of law and the democratic republic be destroyed and that’s the very real threat Trump poses

That is what successive US governments have done: destroy democratic republics around the world. So who are the sane, those who support the continuation of Pax Americana or the anti-imperialists?

)))))))))

Cheer up maybe Putin will nuke the US if the Donald doesn’t win

109

kidneystones 10.12.16 at 1:51 am

“They were emailed to her personal server, for her own personal use.” Wrong.

The government owned emails were mailed to her government-purposed (at least in part) server for her professional use as an employee of the federal government.

As an employee of the federal government she is bound by all (not some) federal laws respecting government property, and by all (not some) State Department regulations regarding the handling of government documents and electronic devices.

And whether she ‘removed’ the documents from their proper place for the purpose of espionage, or not, the fact that we’re now reading these emails, we are told by the Clinton campaign, thanks to the insecurity of her private unsecured system – she’s wide open to charges of gross negligence in the handling of government documents, especially when State department regulations demand that those with any kind of security clearance understand how government documents are to be handled and fully comply with all protective measures.

Comey called her handling of sensitive documents ‘extremely careless.’

That alone provides solid grounds for charges and a trial.

110

likbez 10.12.16 at 2:10 am

Bob Zannelli,
@98


Have you ever lived through a CIA-sponsored coup, a military invasion, or IMF-sponsored austerity to be certain that living through all that is preferable to the demise of American hegemony?

Thank you for formulating so clearly what is essentially my position on the topic and on Hillary Clinton candidacy.

IMHO “Neoliberal hegemonists” ( aka neocons) might drive the USA off the cliff and in the process kill and mail considerable amount of “brown people” (who are not necessary brown, like in Ukraine) or even (God forbid) unleash WWIII

Those who support them in this forum should probably think again about their position after reading this brilliantly expressed sentiment. Of course, much depends on the level of authoritarianism in the person (which is strongly correlated with inability and undesired to change their views).

Among other things positive change might include switching to a more reserved attitude to Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate. Because, while Trump has many shortcomings and his deregulation agenda (and his promise to get rid of several federal agencies) for the USA is horrible, there is no doubt that she represents “neoliberal empire uber alles” status quo.

While Trump, to a certain (and generally unclear) extent (at least until he is not complexly co-opted by Repugs establishment, which IMHO already forced him to accepts Pence as the vice-president), represents more paleoconservative, more isolationist and slightly more anti “Global Neoliberal Empire” project position in foreign policy. Again sands are still shifting and the exact extent of “anti” prefix is unclear.

111

Asteele 10.12.16 at 2:14 am

Nah the last round of capitalist empires collapsing was basically a boon to everyone, the next one will be to.

112

Another Nick 10.12.16 at 2:47 am

“They were emailed to her personal server, for her own personal use.” Wrong.”

I meant *her personally* – ie. her, the Secretary of State, an employee of the government, ie. nobody else. Not “personal” as opposed to “professional”.

“And whether she ‘removed’ the documents from their proper place for the purpose of espionage, or not, …”

Which was explicitly what we were discussing.

“…the fact that we’re now reading these emails, we are told by the Clinton campaign, thanks to the insecurity of her private unsecured system […]”

I thought we were reading them because Vice News filed an FOI request. Were there any unredacted classified emails released or leaked or hacked? Can you link to them?

With regard to the rest, sure. She might be “guilty” of breaching any number of government regulations. How many years of jail time does that carry? As opposed to being sacked or demoted, which is absolutely what should have occurred, imo.

She might also be guilty of obstruction of justice. But that’s also a far cry from an espionage charge. likbez might like to think she’d get the maximum 20 year sentence, but the FBI failing to recommend prosecution kinda indicates it wouldn’t be worth all that time and cost and effort for her simply to be handed a fine. If she were even found guilty in the first place.

Wanting something to happen really badly doesn’t make your case any stronger, kidneystones.

113

kidneystones 10.12.16 at 3:16 am

@112 Thanks for the clarity – you agree that she acted well outside the law. You agree there are grounds to charge her and to proceed with a trial. Good.

I’m quite comfortable leaving charges and the trial to a special prosecutor, as Trump promises. The majority of Americans certainly held the view that charges and a trial are warranted.

If you’re of the opinion that she shouldn’t be charged for possible crimes until after the election, go ahead and make that case.

114

kidneystones 10.12.16 at 7:59 am

And for the win: Youtube puts a warning on a Trump ad featuring Hillary coughing and tipping over. Take that as confirmation the ad can change votes:
http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/10/youtube-hides-slaps-warning-new-trump-ad-hillarys-health/

115

kidneystones 10.12.16 at 8:00 am

116

reason 10.12.16 at 8:31 am

The storm in a teacup loonies – what proportion of the state department do you want to prosecute? If the State department had provided Hillary with an option that allowed her to keep her private emails and state department emails separate with a single mobile device she would have gone for it. It is the State Department IT department that should be in the dock for incompetence.

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/hillary-clintons-personal-email-key-understanding-emailgate

117

reason 10.12.16 at 8:41 am

118

Lee A. Arnold 10.12.16 at 8:44 am

Pleeze send all yer loonie theories to the House Special Committee of Nutcases Who Already Failed at Showing that Hillary Clinton Broke the Law, Like Three or Four Times Already… They will listen to you! … They are still looking for something useless to do, & desperate for another circlejerk.

119

Another Nick 10.12.16 at 9:15 am

“@112 Thanks for the clarity – you agree that she acted well outside the law. You agree there are grounds to charge her and to proceed with a trial. Good.”

No, I said it appeared plausible she might have obstructed justice. But that’s rather difficult to establish in court when she hasn’t actually been charged for a crime, and wasn’t even being investigated for committing a crime. With no accompanying charges, and no other party claiming injury, I’d be surprised if she’d have to pay $50k.

You think that warrants a ‘special prosecutor’? To give her a slap on the wrist?

“The majority of Americans certainly held the view that charges and a trial are warranted.”

It was survey of 519 people, roughly 10 per state. So don’t get too carried away. And as Layman noted, so what? Does the “majority of Americans” have evidence the FBI doesn’t?

Interestingly, according to many polls “the majority of Americans” also want to vote her in for President. Which, contrary to your conjecturing, speaks volumes about what “the majority of Americans” thinks about your man Trump. Or, like many people, do you just believe the polls you want to believe, and discount those you don’t?

120

kidneystones 10.12.16 at 9:41 am

@119 Determining guilt, or innocence is not the job of the FBI. The job of the FBI is to determine if there are grounds for charges to be laid.

“I said it appeared plausible she might have obstructed justice.”

Let’s first provide Hillary with a trial in order to determine if she actually committed any crime. That’s normally how it works. Then after the verdict if she’s found guilty, you’re welcome to suggest appropriate punishment.

Still waiting for an answer: put Hillary on trial now, or after the election.

121

kidneystones 10.12.16 at 9:48 am

The entire exercise is, of course, absurd.

As we’ve learned, US and UK politicians lie routinely to investigators over starting wars, torturing people, targeting dissidents for special treatment, punishing whistle-blowers, lying to the public, etc. with complete impunity.

The mere suggestion that Ted Kennedy, or George Bush, or Hillary Clinton would ever be charged with any crime is laughable. Punishments and trials are for ‘ordinary’ citizens.

Everyone knows that.

Which is why Trump will win.

122

Lee A. Arnold 10.12.16 at 10:05 am

It’s like one of those disaster movies which are totally boring but there’s a new special effects technique, and so you can’t stop watching to see what the crashes look like. A total waste of time.

123

likbez 10.12.16 at 10:13 am

@98

After reading this amazing observation “Cheer up maybe Putin will nuke the US if the Donald doesn’t win” from Bob Zannelli I realized that something was deeply wrong with my post @110.

Unfortunately I misattributed the quote


Have you ever lived through a CIA-sponsored coup, a military invasion, or IMF-sponsored austerity to be certain that living through all that is preferable to the demise of American hegemony?

This is the quote from Lupita post @95. Sorry about this.

As for Bob Zanelli with his primitive Russophobia I would like to remind him that in many people with similar views Russophobia is just displaced Anti-Semitism.

124

likbez 10.12.16 at 10:38 am

@98

No sane person should hope to see the rule of law and the democratic republic be destroyed and
that’s the very real threat Trump poses

Are you sure that it was not destroyed by Bush II with the Patriot Act, which essentially converted the USA into “national security state” ?

Or you think Snowden revelations are just yet another confirmation of the fact that the USA democracy flourished after Bush?

Is not the danger of war (that Hillary Clinton candidacy represents) a much more serious threat to remnants of democracy then Trump?

Do you really suffer from a kind of “Better be dead then red” mentality ?

125

kidneystones 10.12.16 at 10:54 am

@ 98 Bob peers into the hearts and minds of billions using his secret, magic belly-button lint: “Most of them [the great unwashed] don’t want to bring justice to the world, they want the job of being oppressors.”

Sorry, Bob, your hyper-ventilating here.

Feel free to retract.

126

soru 10.12.16 at 10:55 am

> It’s like one of those disaster movies which are totally boring but there’s a new special effects technique

Specifically one that overuses jump cuts so that you never have time to work out what perspective a particular hot take is coming from so you can’t make out the positions of the underlying battling robots so it becomes harder to identify the next perspective. Soon everything is just a blur of context-free colours. You can’t even tell who are the Putinbots and who are the Democepticons.

But that’s mostly just CT; it’s just what you get with sign-up-free commenting, low moderation, a world-wide audience, and probably a deliberate media strategy aimed at that goal [1]. Any game designer will tell you that if you want the player to understand what is going on, you need to give them control of the camera, perhaps by allowing switching between first person and a limited set of fixed-camera perspectives.

[1] https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=charlie%20brooker%20adam%20curtis

127

Another Nick 10.12.16 at 11:17 am

“The job of the FBI is to determine if there are grounds for charges to be laid.”

It did that job and found no grounds for charges to be laid.

“Let’s first provide Hillary with a trial in order to determine if she actually committed any crime. That’s normally how it works.”

Seriously? Your understanding of the law is that poor? Any crime? Any crime at all? What crime is she suspected of committing again? What crime is there *any evidence* of her committing? I’m astonished you think any judge in the country would allow this to go to trial. And that’s not some “elite 1%er” thing. That basic law. It applies equally to everybody. No evidence, no trial.

“As we’ve learned, US and UK politicians lie routinely to investigators over starting wars, torturing people, targeting dissidents for special treatment, punishing whistle-blowers, lying to the public, etc. with complete impunity.”

Yes, they do. So why not focus your energy on those lies instead of a bunch of politically-motivated nonsense about email hosting. Who suffered or died or starved to death because Clinton chose to host her own email server, and didn’t use a .gov address, and acted “carelessly”? Nobody. Get your priorities straight. At most, she deserved a demotion. Not a jail sentence.

“Everyone knows that”

I thought it was the “majority of Americans”. Now it’s “everybody”. You sound like a truther.

128

Lee A. Arnold 10.12.16 at 11:39 am

Soru #126: “But that’s mostly just CT”

It’s the whole U.S. presidential campaign season: a surprising new take on the slo-mo, high-speed crash.

By contrast, in CT comments the clashes are predictable twaddle, predictably inconsequential. It’s like a disaster movie you’ve already seen twice.

129

Lee A. Arnold 10.12.16 at 11:58 am

Soru, thanks for the Adam Curtis link. Great.

130

stevenjohnson 10.12.16 at 1:12 pm

Bob Zanelli @92 “Do you really think anyone calling Sanders a reactionary has a real grasp on reality.” Said to Lupita who was responding to his insult to me.

Morris Hillquit would have thought Sanders was squishy on “socialism.” And Victor Berger would have known he was dealing with a kindred spirit on foreign affairs. Eugene Debs and Big Bill Haywood would never have dreamed of Sanders as an ally. Jack London, even with his fucked up ideas about race, would have written about Sanders with all the warmth of H.L. Mencken talking about ordinary people. Sanders primary political commitment is pretending the Democratic Party is the left.

What is called briefly McCarthyism purged the left from US mainstream politics. Mainstream politics since is reactionary. US politics is about control of the world as well as taxes. SOP for this rule has been repeated wars and subversions that have slaughtered millions. That qualifies as vicious.

The pretense the likes of Sanders aren’t reactionary and aren’t open supporters of a shockingly vicious system rests squarely on accepting the great purge of the left as the moral foundation of your politics.

This thread has managed to at least raise the general issue of revolution. Naturally, the prevailing opinion is in favor of counter-revolution, even though revolution has been essential to human freedom. I do indeed firmly believe Sanders would vehemently deny this. And that is indeed a grasp of reality, unlike Bob Zanelli’s nonsense.

131

awy 10.12.16 at 1:24 pm

yes, a potential safety zone for humanitarian protection in syria has escalatory risk. no, it does not mean saying such a zone would be nice is warmongering. it may be preferred policy but still be constrained by how other actors behave, including escalatory risk.

besides, twisting humanitarian concern into warmongering is not only bad reasoning but bad politics as well. you basically deprive the u.s. of an important tool of making its case in the court of public opinion. if every move, no matter how well intended, is warmongering because it has escalatory risk, then it would be impossible to conduct foreign policy at all.

this of course means that certain leftists simply see evil behind every u.s. action, and do not acknowledge the possibility of other bad actors.

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Brett Dunbar 10.12.16 at 1:32 pm

There is some evidence that you are slightly more likely to be prosecuted and get a slightly heavier sentence and are less likely to get early release if you are a celebrity. The authorities are so afraid of being accused of favouring the rich that they actually are harsher than average.

133

Layman 10.12.16 at 1:36 pm

“There is some evidence that you are slightly more likely to be prosecuted and get a slightly heavier sentence and are less likely to get early release if you are a celebrity.”

Where is this evidence concealing itself?

134

Brett Dunbar 10.12.16 at 4:17 pm

Look at what happened to Paris Hilton for example. She didn’t get included in a house arrest scheme (introduced due to prison overcrowding) when a less high profile person in a similar position would have been.

The effect is fairly small but does seem to be real. The fear of being accused of negative publicity leads to prosecutors being somewhat more reluctant to drop high profile cases. Basically the fear of being accused of using discretion in favour of the prominent means they don’t get the benefit which a more obscure person would.

135

lemmy caution 10.12.16 at 5:34 pm

Martha Stewart as well. Maybe a famous yet-widely-disliked white women problem?

136

lemmy caution 10.12.16 at 5:34 pm

Kim Kardashian better be careful.

137

Layman 10.12.16 at 5:42 pm

“Look at what happened to Paris Hilton for example.”

Not asking for an anecdote.

138

William Berry 10.12.16 at 7:41 pm

Shorter stevenjohnson:

“All you other CT ‘lefties’ ain’t s**t. Mine’s bigger than the rest of y’all’s put together!”

Bernie Sanders, a reactionary? JHC

Throw in a chunk of kidneystones and add a dollop of likbez; CT has achieved maximum wankery.

139

Anarcissie 10.12.16 at 8:26 pm

awy 10.12.16 at 1:24 pm @ 131:
‘… this of course means that certain leftists simply see evil behind every u.s. action, and do not acknowledge the possibility of other bad actors.’

As a certain leftist I can own up to the first clause but not the second. Who does not acknowledge the possibility of other bad actors in Syria (or elsewhere)? Twisting professed humanitarian concern into warmongering isn’t a rhetorical trick; it’s what one observes.

140

Rich Puchalsky 10.12.16 at 8:29 pm

On the other thread we had the Gaddafi-lovers, here we have the U.S.-haters. People just can’t understand why a dictator killing his people doesn’t mean that we should kill more of his people, even though it’s obvious. They must be motivated by unreasoning dictator love or America hate.

141

dax 10.14.16 at 7:52 am

I’ll begin with the necessary avowal that I think Trump is a clown, and dangerous, and I hope he goes down to a record defeat.

But still… the danger that he presents is shaking the rats from under the carpet. How many times have I read that Russian intelligence is trying to manipulate the American election? And that this is a Very Bad Thing? Yet the NYT keeps reporting that American intelligence asserts (without providing evidence) that Russian intelligence is behind the Clinton email hacks, and what is *that* but American intelligence trying to manipulate the election? And I’m afraid, when it comes to end-of-the-Republic stuff, it’s worse when your own intelligence guys are trying to manipulate the election than when their intelligence guys are.

142

casmilus 10.14.16 at 8:18 am

@121

“As we’ve learned, US and UK politicians lie routinely to investigators over starting wars, torturing people, targeting dissidents for special treatment, punishing whistle-blowers, lying to the public, etc. with complete impunity.”

I’m nostalgic for those days. Nowadays they just lie about stuff that can be easily exposed, for example “£350 million per week to the EU”. They just don’t care anymore. Post-truth politics is boring.

143

Rich Puchalsky 10.14.16 at 10:14 am

kidneystones: “The mere suggestion that Ted Kennedy, or George Bush, or Hillary Clinton would ever be charged with any crime is laughable. Punishments and trials are for ‘ordinary’ citizens.”

kidneystones used to be a Democrat, but now he’s outraged by Chappaquiddick.

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kidneystones 10.14.16 at 10:44 am

@142 “Post-truth politics is boring.”

I don’t know about that – the post-truth part certainly is.

@143 Actually, I was always/never outraged by the Kennedy clan. I simply felt that despite being rich etc., their Catholicism and their willingness to do something other than turn a blind Democrat eye to the civil rights movement earned them, as a family, a certain amount of good will.

That reservoir started to run very dry right around the US decided that invading Iraq was a good idea and pretty much disappeared by 2008, when it became clear that the Democrats figured the Cheney security state worked pretty well for their needs, too. Learning that Bill Clinton had effectively guaranteed a massive rape of consumer borrowers didn’t help.

Non-US citizens from US friendly nations such as Canada have a natural affinity with political parties that support education, minority rights, etc. Minorities in the US want charter schools, however, but because the Democrats need the teachers’ unions, minorities are just going to have to ‘accept’ the current political realities.

Between Democratic administration wars, pork, and collusion to disenfranchise anyone not on board for donor class needs made me utterly indifferent to political branding. I don’t think Trump has a clear clue of what he’ll do should he be elected. I find that far more comforting than the prospect of HRC and her cabal and their plans for the rest of us.

Many here seem quite comfortable with the ‘no more press conferences’ gas-lighted as the new normal.

Once a year, or maybe less is plenty. Nobody expects a word of truth from any of them.

145

ezra abrams 10.14.16 at 11:30 am

OP is 100% spot on
one might ask if this is money/deadline pressure; after one of the GOP debates, iirc, it was Klein who castigated Trump for answering a question totally wrong, but Klein didn’t bother to look at the video where it is clear that Trump was responding to the previous question

The historical amnesia is in full bloom, oddly, on the website of Brad Delong, who is clearly a knockout macro historian
In posts on the media and politics, and esp in the comments, one frequently sees this silly Trump is the worst ever, ocare is the greatest ever, etc etc, comments that have a memory of a year or two

146

bruce wilder 10.14.16 at 3:44 pm

when it comes to end-of-the-Republic stuff, it’s worse when your own intelligence guys are trying to manipulate the election than when their intelligence guys are.

gas-lighting the new normal is the new normal

as a rhetorical gambit, normalizing is more important and has more lasting effects I suspect than charging unreasoning dictator love or America hate. The context-free hyperbole is just the artillery bombardment before invasion and occupation; the critically important part is normalizing and making boring

147

Rich Puchalsky 10.14.16 at 3:54 pm

BW: “gas-lighting the new normal is the new normal”

Here’s the latest short three act play if anyone missed it from the end of the last thread.

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LFC 10.14.16 at 4:00 pm

So much nonsense about foreign policy and int’l politics — marked by, among other things, a complete lack of understanding that the world contains moral ambiguities and that not everything is black-and-white and open-and-shut — has been written in CT comment threads over the years that if one were to add it all up its volume would sink a couple of ocean liners. (And these CT threads on the election have devolved into a complete waste of time, as others have noted.)

149

Ronan(rf) 10.14.16 at 4:02 pm

This has added some much needed complexity to the VOX narrative

http://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2016/10/13/13259860/twilight-elites-trump-meritocracy

this part seems to support those of us who have been saying that those adopting a blinkered class/income based argument to ‘disprove’ the economic insecurity arguments are not even trying to get at the truth(imo, theyre purposely working backwards from their conclusions towards a conventional answer)

“Hayes argues that the angriest voters are not going to be the people at the bottom, but the people in the middle, who used to expect that they and their kids could do well through enterprise and don’t believe that anymore. Experts have disagreed over whether Trump supporters are richer or poorer than the average. Yet emerging evidence is beginning to portray a more nuanced portrait of Trump’s supporters than those earlier takes.

Jonathan Rothwell, a senior economist at Gallup, has used survey data on nearly 113,000 Americans to ask what really drives Trump support. He finds that support for the mogul turned politician is concentrated in the middle-income categories; in contrast, those who are relatively rich and those who are relatively poor are less likely to support him. Furthermore, economic insecurity is a huge factor – those who worry about their economic future are much more likely to vote for Trump. Rothwell builds on work by Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren at Harvard to find that people in living in areas with weak mobility for kids from middle-class families are more likely to vote for Trump.

These findings are only the start of what is likely to be a long debate. Nonetheless, they support Hayes’s argument. People seem to be more likely to support an anti-system candidate like Donald Trump when they have a middling income, when they feel economically insecure, and when they live in places where middle-class kids have worse prospects for getting ahead.”

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Ronan(rf) 10.14.16 at 4:04 pm

towards a *convenient* answer (ie an answer they want to be true, as it supports their worldview ).

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Ronan(rf) 10.14.16 at 4:11 pm

I mean this was pretty obvious even looking at the occupational make up of the Trump fans from the start (middle, lower middle class business owners, self employed etc) It was obvious looking at what Trump supporters were saying on questions about social mobility, hope for the future, whether they saw their economic and social position as declining etc.
All of this evidence and logic, though, was discarded for the nonsensical, ‘they arent literally searching through bins for their next meal, so cumon’

I mean, Edward Luttwak mentioned it two decades ago

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v16/n07/edward-luttwak/why-fascism-is-the-wave-of-the-future

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LFC 10.14.16 at 4:14 pm

“People seem to be more likely to support an anti-system candidate like Donald Trump when they have a middling income, when they feel economically insecure, and when they live in places where middle-class kids have worse prospects for getting ahead.”

Isn’t this — esp. the last two factors — what one would expect? Is this supposed to be surprising?

It also does not mean that other factors — e.g., the appeals of ‘ethno-nationalism’, as some call it, in its various guises — don’t matter.

My own guess is that Trump support is a mixture of economic insecurity and other factors (incl. the appeal to xenophobic and racist or quasi-racist sentiments), operating in different proportions in different contexts; but it won’t become clearer until the dust settles and the quant types descend on the data with their fancy tools.

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Ronan(rf) 10.14.16 at 4:19 pm

“It also does not mean that other factors — e.g., the appeals of ‘ethno-nationalism’, as some call it, in its various guises — don’t matter.”

I didnt, and havent , said they it doesnt matter. But it matters in specific ways (and at specific times) , that (some) people are ignoring

” Is this supposed to be surprising?”

You’d think not. But apparently so.

154

Ronan(rf) 10.14.16 at 4:23 pm

ie here’s Zack Beauchamp speaking about his much quoted essay

https://twitter.com/zackbeauchamp/status/778670747577413634

Zack has the truth, dont you know, Because there’s no uncertainty in provisional pol sci research, and Zack (unlike his critics) has no biases, and is certainly not finding evidence to fit his story.

155

Ronan(rf) 10.14.16 at 4:31 pm

Last thing Ill say, in case people dont want to read the Luttwak link, Ill highlight his prescience

“Even bigger news is the dislocation of managerial lives. That is the latest trend in the always progressive United States – and it is most definitely a structural trend, rather than merely cyclical. Now that the dull-safe ‘satisficing’ corporation (moderate dividends, moderate salaries, steady, slow growth) is almost extinct, top managers as a class earn very much more than before, rank-and-file managers who can keep their jobs earn rather less, and it is very difficult for those managers who are forced out to find any comparable jobs elsewhere. Few are destined to grace the pages of business journals as entrepreneurial wonders, not born but made by unemployment. Some adjust undramatically if painfully, by accepting whatever middle-class jobs they can get, normally with reduced pay. Others are much worse off. The 50-55 year old male, white, college-educated former exemplar of the American Dream, still perhaps living in his lavishly-equipped suburban house, with two or three cars in the driveway, one or two children in $20,000 per annum higher education (tuition, board and lodging – all extras are extra) and an ex-job ‘re-engineered’ out of existence, who now exists on savings, second and third mortgages and scant earnings as a self-described ‘consultant’, has become a familiar figure in the contemporary United States. They still send out résumés by the dozen. They still ‘network’ (i.e. beg for jobs from whomever they know). They still put on their business suits to commute to ‘business’ lunches with the genuine article or to visit employment agencies, but at a time when more than 10 per cent of the Harvard graduates of the class of 1958 are unemployed, lesser souls in the same position have little to hope for.

Just in case the sentimental anecdotage is unpersuasive, or seems absurdly disproportionate as compared to the plight of, say, indebted Indian peasants, there are now statistics that quantify the downward slide of the entire population from which the class of middle managers is drawn. The median earnings of all males in the 45-54 age bracket with four years of higher education – some two million Americans, all but 150,000 of them white – actually peaked in 1972 at some $55,000 in 1992 dollars; they stagnated through three downward economic cycles until 1989, before sharply declining to $41,898 by 1992. From other evidence we know that those numbers average out two phenomena that are equally unprecedented in the American experience: in that same population, the combined total income of the top 1 per cent of all earners increased sensationally, and the combined total of the bottom 80 per cent declined sharply. Again, that implies in one way or another a more-than-proportionate quantum of dislocation. Needless to say, individual working lives cannot be dislocated without damaging families, elective affiliations and communities – the entire moss of human relations which can only grow over the stones of economic stability. Finally, it is entirely certain that what has already happened in the United States is happening or will happen in every other advanced economy, because all of them are exposed to the same forces.

In this situation, what does the moderate Right – mainstream US Republicans, British Tories and all their counterparts elsewhere – have to offer? Only more free trade and globalisation, more deregulation and structural change, thus more dislocation of lives and social relations. It is only mildly amusing that nowadays the standard Republican/Tory after-dinner speech is a two-part affair, in which part one celebrates the virtues of unimpeded competition and dynamic structural change, while part two mourns the decline of the family and community ‘values’ that were eroded precisely by the forces commended in part one. Thus at the present time the core of Republican/Tory beliefs is a perfect non-sequitur. And what does the moderate Left have to offer? Only more redistribution, more public assistance, and particularist concern for particular groups that can claim victim status, from the sublime peak of elderly, handicapped, black lesbians down to the merely poor.

Thus neither the moderate Right nor the moderate Left even recognises, let alone offers any solution for, the central problem of our days: the completely unprecedented personal economic insecurity of working people, from industrial workers and white-collar clerks to medium-high managers. None of them are poor and they therefore cannot benefit from the more generous welfare payments that the moderate Left is inclined to offer. Nor are they particularly envious of the rich, and they therefore tend to be uninterested in redistribution. Few of them are actually unemployed, and they are therefore unmoved by Republican/Tory promises of more growth and more jobs through the magic of the unfettered market: what they want is security in the jobs they already have – i.e. precisely what unfettered markets threaten.

A vast political space is thus left vacant by the Republican/Tory non-sequitur, on the one hand, and moderate Left particularism and assistentialism, on the other. That was the space briefly occupied in the USA by the 1992 election-year caprices of Ross Perot, and which Zhirinovsky’s bizarre excesses are now occupying in the peculiar conditions of Russia, where personal economic insecurity is the only problem that counts for most people (former professors of Marxism-Leninism residing in Latvia who have simultaneously lost their jobs, professions and nationalities may he rare, but most Russians still working now face at least the imminent loss of their jobs). And that is the space that remains wide open for a product-improved Fascist party, dedicated to the enhancement of the personal economic security of the broad masses of (mainly) white-collar working people. Such a party could even be as free of racism as Mussolini’s original was until the alliance with Hitler, because its real stock in trade would be corporativist restraints on corporate Darwinism, and delaying if not blocking barriers against globalisation. It is not necessary to know how to spell Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft to recognise the Fascist predisposition engendered by today’s turbocharged capitalism.”

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Rich Puchalsky 10.14.16 at 4:55 pm

Ronan(rf): “This has added some much needed complexity to the VOX narrative [link to article about _Twilight of the Elites_]”

_Listen, Liberal_ is like Chapter 2, or some kind of companion volume, to _Twilight of the Elites_. Reading both, you really start to get a sense of how invisible it is to what I’ve called the global managerial class that they are actually a class, and how professionals (a lower but affiliated rung) can keep demanding things in their class interest while justifying them as in everyone’s interest.

As for the people who write that CT threads around the election have become a complete waste of time (LFC being one): it’s a highly contested election. That is what happens to public discussion around a highly contested election. If you don’t think it’s valuable, please just don’t participate in it: don’t keep commenting that it’s a waste of time to people who are actually interested in it.

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bruce wilder 10.14.16 at 4:59 pm

Luttwak’s prescience was answered, I see at the link (LRB, Letters May 26 1994) by John McMurtry:

There is, however, an alternative conclusion more consistent with the geo-economic pattern of facts Luttwak exposes. Economic security is no longer a benefit that international corporations are willing to concede to workers because the new transnational mobility of technologies and investment has eliminated the need to negotiate job protection or to depend on site-specific workforces. International capital now aspires to the conditions of an ideal global market for the purchase of labour – unlimited access to the world’s population as a vast pool of temporary employees to hire and dismiss at will.

If we keep in mind that Fascism must rely on the co-operation or support of big business to achieve state power, we have to ask why the rootless, globe-roaming international capital of today would ever support any party which promised ‘full secure employment’ to workers. Any such programme would undo capital’s new global leverage over workers’ livelihoods, wage-levels and employment conditions – all of which are already being rapidly and successfully brought by relentless international competition for jobs to an ever lower common denominator. International capital can already discipline a country’s workforce overnight by moving around the world at the speed of an electronic signal to another society where its cutback wages and insecure jobs will be welcomed. And it can do it cost-free, selling the products it makes back to the very communities it has disemployed under the protection of international trade regimes which rule out any control over its actions by elected governments. Why would corporate capital ever permit the ‘full secure employment’ policies of the old Fascism in exchange for gaining popular support? This would undermine its greater new power, which is to be free of the needs or demands of any working class anywhere.

Neoliberalism has mobilized a fun-house mirror version of fascism: what Sheldon Wolin called inverted totalitarianism. Soru @ 126 provided a link to Adam Curtis explaining how the propaganda of this neoliberal inverse of totalitarianism works, not to mobilize the masses, but to demobilize us all thru confusion, demoralization and atomization.

The date of the Luttwak piece and McMurty’s letter — 1994 — is significant I think. We’ve been at this since at least 1980 and had every opportunity to be fully cognizant for more than 20 years. And, yet, we have Vox decontextualizing all, to create the new normal.

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engels 10.14.16 at 5:09 pm

Isn’t this…what one would expect?

It is

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Rich Puchalsky 10.14.16 at 5:15 pm

BW: “Soru @ 126 provided a link to Adam Curtis explaining how the propaganda of this neoliberal inverse of totalitarianism works, not to mobilize the masses, but to demobilize us all thru confusion, demoralization and atomization.”

And, when need be, to blame us for recognizing this condition. Look at all of the verbiage on the last thread about defeatism, nihilism, lack of a plan to fix everything and so on. One proud defender of UK Labour called it a therapy session or some such. I am confused about how “We should stop killing people: I think that is very important” turned into “nihilism”, but then I guess that acknowledging this confusion is for sissies.

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bruce wilder 10.14.16 at 6:06 pm

Rich Puchalsky @ 155

But, isn’t “boring” an argument too? A third way to dissolve all the noisier contention, make it meaningless and then complain of its meaninglessness?

I haven’t quite recovered from merian challenging your argument from pattern and precedent as decontextualized and ahistorical or then announcing that she was not a supporter of Clinton after having previously justified her own unqualified (though time-limited) support for Clinton.

I see the rhetorical power of Luttwak’s “perfect non-sequitur”, which Adam Curtis explains as a basis for the propaganda of the inverted totalitarian state in some detail. I’ve long argued that the dominating power of neoliberalism — not just as the ideology of the managerial classes, but as the one ideology to rule them all at the end of history — has to do with the way (left) neoliberals argue almost exclusively with conservative libertarians (right neoliberals). It is in that narrow, bounded dynamic of one completely synthetic and artificial thesis with another closely related and also completely synthetic and artificial antithesis that we got stuck in the Groundhog Day, where history tails off after a few weeks and evidence consists of counterfactuals projected a few weeks into the future.

It is not a highly contested election. It just looks like one and sounds like one, but the noise (and it is all noise in the end) is drowning out anyone’s ability to figure out what is going on. And, really, nothing is going on — or rather, nothing about which voters have a realistic choice to make. That’s the problem. (Left) neoliberalism was born* in the decision to abandon the actual representation of a common interest (and most especially a working class interest). Instead, it is all about combining an atomizing politics of personal identity with Ezra Klein’s wonkiness, where statistics are used to filter out more information than revealed and esoteric jargon obscures the rest. Paul Krugman, Reagan Administration veteran and Enron advisor, becomes the authoritative voice of the moderate centre-Left.

*That’s why the now ancient Charles Peters’ Neoliberal Manifesto matters — not because Peters was or is important, but because it was such a clear and timely statement of the managerial / professional class Left abandoning advocacy for the poor or labor interests against the interests of capital, corporations and the wealthy. The basic antagonism of interests in politics was to be abandoned and what was gained was financial support from capital and business corporations. The Liberal Class, the institutional foundations of which were eroding rapidly in the 1980s, with the decline of social affiliation, mainline Protestant religions, public universities, organized labor could no longer be relied upon to fund the chattering classes so the chattering classes represented by Peters found a new gig and rationalized it, and that is the (left) neoliberalism we know today as Vox speak.

The 10% gets free a completely artificial (because not rooted in class interests or any interests) ideology bought and paid for by the 1/10th of 1% and the executive class) ideology, but it gets it free and as long as the system continues to lumber along, employing them (which makes them the 10%) they remain complacent. They don’t understand their world, but their world seems to work anyway, so why worry? Any apparently alarming development can be normalized by confusion and made boring.

More than 20 years after Luttwak / McMurtry, I would think inability of the 10% to understand how the world works might be the most worrying thing of all. The 10% are the people who make the world work in a technical sense — that is the responsibility of the professionals and professional managers, after all.

That the economic system is being cannibalized to generate the outsized economic claims on income for capital and their minions among the executive classes is worrying, as is the stagnation and the slow reaction to climate change and other similar issues. The 10% don’t seem to be entirely ready to accept the parasitism in every detail. If you poison Flint’s water or Well Fargo charges for fake accounts, there’s some kind of reaction from at least some of the managerial / professional classes. We have Elizabeth Warren and she can be amazingly effective even if she seems like a lonely figure. But, mostly the parasitism of the financial sector affects the bottom 50%; the 10% get cash back on their credit cards. I read with fascination articles about the travails of that Virginia Tech guy who persisted in the Flint Water case; again, a lonely figure. I personally know a guy who is an expert on the liver and therefore on the hazards posed by Tylenol (acetaminophen or paracetamol); it is quite revealing to hear about how he’s attacked by interested corporations.

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William Timberman 10.14.16 at 6:19 pm

And yet…. In the more or less cobwebbed corners of the Internet, like CT, we are in fact having this conversation, and others much like it — even when, as inevitably happens, it leaves us vulnerable to accusations of leftist onanism by self-appointed realists of the status quo. They may not be easy to ignore, but knowing that their opinions can’t possibly be as securely held as they claim, and are in fact more vulnerable to events than they’re capable of imagining, we shouldn’t feel obliged to pay their denunciations any more attention than they deserve.

The inverted totalitarianism that Bruce and Rich are referencing here is only apparently a successful marriage of the impulse to control complex processes and the technologies which promise the possibility of that control. If we really want to foster a future in which institutions are stable again, and can successfully design and implement effective protections for the general welfare, we’re going to have to get a lot more comfortable with chaos, unintended consequences, the residual perversity, in short, of large-scale human interactions. Never mind how powerful their tools, managers who want to avoid catastrophic delusions will have to learn a little humility. My advice to them: feed that to your big data and your AI, right along with your fiat money, your global capital flows, and your commodified and devalued labor force. and see where you wind up. Where you’re headed now is a dead end.

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soru 10.14.16 at 6:34 pm

> It is not a highly contested election. It just looks like one and sounds like one, but the noise (and it is all noise in the end) is drowning out anyone’s ability to figure out what is going on.

Pretty sure it is. Precisely because it is not left neoliberalism versus right neoliberalism, but left neoliberalism versus something that is:

a: worse
b: a predictable consequence of neoliberalism.

A being true makes B no less true, and vice versa.

163

likbez 10.14.16 at 6:49 pm

The 50-55 year old male, white, college-educated former exemplar of the American Dream, still perhaps living in his lavishly-equipped suburban house, with two or three cars in the driveway, one or two children in $20,000 per annum higher education (tuition, board and lodging – all extras are extra) and an ex-job ‘re-engineered’ out of existence, who now exists on savings, second and third mortgages and scant earnings as a self-described ‘consultant’, has become a familiar figure in the contemporary United States.

This is a real problem in the US. See, for example, http://www.softpanorama.org/Social/over_50_and_unemployed.shtml

The problem facing lower white collar and blue collar workers also was recently discussed in Guardian article
Dangerous idiots: how the liberal media elite failed working-class Americans

Here is a couple of comments

UserFriendlyyy sharpydufc , 14 Oct 2016 09:46)

It isn’t liberal or conservative. It lives in a [neoliberal] fantasy land where your station in life is merit based. If you are poor, it’s a personal failing. Rich, you earned every penny.

They incorrectly believe the American Dream is something more than a fairytale rich people tell themselves to justify the misery they inflict on the poor.

It’s pro technocrat; “we have a perfect solution if it would just get implemented…. It won’t rock the apple cart and will have minimum benefits but it makes us look like we care.”

boo321 , 14 Oct 2016 07:53)

Neoliberalism has failed the poor, disadvantaged and disabled. Making these people pay for the mistakes, corruption of our banks and major institutions is indicative of the greedy rich and elite who don’t give a toss for their suffering.

Trump is a dispicable human being…but he has touched those who are desperate for a change. Unfortunately for them, Trump could never be the change they need – whilst Clinton is just more of the same sh*t as we’ve had for the last 40 years or more. Bernie was the best hope for change…but the establishment made sure he could not win by the manipulation of the “super delegate vote”!

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engels 10.14.16 at 6:51 pm

“Hillary Clinton meets in secret with International banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty”

https://twitter.com/robpulsenews/status/786622125775982592

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LFC 10.14.16 at 7:17 pm

don’t keep commenting that it’s a waste of time to people who are actually interested in it.

That was the first time I commented along those lines; it was at the end of another comment about something else, though equally critical.

166

Jim Buck 10.14.16 at 7:18 pm

New Adam Curtis:

167

engels 10.14.16 at 7:20 pm

(Technically until you actually have a Reichstag fire it’s still ‘right-wing populism’…)

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Rich Puchalsky 10.14.16 at 7:34 pm

I’m not really impressed by these Adam Curtis videos. It doesn’t seem to me that a good way to address hyper normalization is through a short video with a lot of jump cuts that is supposed to demonstrate the technique. It just becomes more noise, and anyways (I keeping with the theme that we already know, and they know we know) people are familiar with the technique already.

I’ve recently linked to a poem about this (yeah, is a poem better than a short video? at least it’s sort of a narrative poem), and where this is really best seen is when the hyper normalization of lying, or whatever you want to call it, crashes into some kind of physical reality. Then they may be lying, and you know that they are lying and they know you know but all of this regression comes to a halt because you’re getting actually, physically flooded. By then of course it is too late for any truth-telling to make any difference.

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Lee A. Arnold 10.14.16 at 7:52 pm

Almost all of Adam Curtis’ 3- and 4-part docs are available on DVD for peanuts at (dare I mention it) Amazon. I loved Century of the Self, The Trap, and All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.

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Lee A. Arnold 10.14.16 at 7:56 pm

Here is “The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom?” part 1, “Fuck You, Buddy” (1 hour)

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engels 10.14.16 at 8:39 pm

I’m not really impressed by these Adam Curtis videos.

Quells surprise

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bruce wilder 10.14.16 at 9:15 pm

soru: “Precisely because it is not left neoliberalism versus right neoliberalism, but left neoliberalism versus something that is:

a: worse
b: a predictable consequence of neoliberalism.

I think there is something to the thesis that Trump ripped the scab off the place where Luttwak’s “perfect non-sequitur” had rubbed the skin off the connection between the tax-cut loving Republican establishment leadership and the Republican electoral base of male reactionary ignoramuses.

But, I don’t know what actual policy follows from Trumpism, if not Mike Pence brand right neoliberalism. A little light flavoring of theocracy on the tax cuts in other words.

I don’t buy the left neoliberal hysteria over Trump as the scariest reactionary dude evah. I think that’s just to prevent the dissatisfaction that Trump has tapped into blending with the dissatisfaction Sanders tapped into. And, I tend to think that strategy has been successful in keeping the left v right neoliberal monopoly of power intact. The Republicans may take a hit, but it will only result in a slight shuffling among the seats of power. The left neoliberals will keep the right neoliberal seats warm for them. ymmv

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bruce wilder 10.14.16 at 9:28 pm

Rich Puchalsky @ 167

It is a matter of taste, I suppose. I do think those videos are constructed with a sense of irony by someone who thinks video as a medium tends to make the viewer stupid and uncritical in thinking.

The medium of propaganda does have its effects. Back in the 17th century, Hobbes railed against self-taught preachers who had learned to read and to give speeches, without having learned to think, and who riled people up with great conviction in an equally great variety of then novel ideas. I don’t know that Curtis has hit his target, but at least he notices; it is not invisible to him.

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bruce wilder 10.14.16 at 9:45 pm

WT @ 160: In the more or less cobwebbed corners of the Internet, like CT, we are in fact having this conversation, and others much like it

meanwhile, our laconic engels is linking to the conversation the young are having in 140 characters

engels @ 166: (Technically until you actually have a Reichstag fire it’s still ‘right-wing populism’…)

I think what the Project for a New American Century conspiracy wrought in the wake of 9/11 was opportunism — I don’t think they quite had the nerve to actively bring the triggering event about — but they sure were prepared to make history!

isn’t the “russkies ate my email” a prelude to some new symphony on a similar theme?

175

Rich Puchalsky 10.14.16 at 10:47 pm

“isn’t the “russkies ate my email” a prelude to some new symphony on a similar theme?”

On the assumption that HRC will win, it was certainly one of the low points of the election. Let’s play “count the casus belli”. And look at the number of posters here (just to examine our small microcosm) who have apparently in all seriousness decided that wikileaks is a Russian front organization, or something, because they are leaking stuff which they were given which is what they have done since the beginning of the group.

Another one: HRC’s public discussion of how her proposed Syrian no fly zone would serve to deter Russian planes from flying without having to actually shoot any down. This after Turkey actually shot down a Russian plane. What if the Russians can watch TV and they say “OK, if we continue to fly, they will not shoot us down?” Then you turn the bluff real, or something?

176

LFC 10.15.16 at 12:55 am

RP @174
…HRC’s public discussion of how her proposed Syrian no fly zone would serve to deter Russian planes from flying without having to actually shoot any down.

Parts of Aleppo, as one can readily see on any newscast, look completely devastated (like, for instance, wartime Stalingrad, just to take one example that comes to mind). The Syrian and Russian air forces have been deliberately targeting hospitals, civilians, and, in at least one case, a humanitarian aid convoy. There are a handful of doctors, if that, left alive in the city. A couple of hundred thousand civilians are trapped there, w low and dwindling stocks of basic necessities. In light of these facts, it’s not surprising that both Pence and Kaine in their debate endorsed the establishment of humanitarian zones or corridors to allow people to leave. If that required a no-fly zone, would Russian planes violate it and risk being shot down? Maybe, maybe not. My guess is they wouldn’t, but I don’t know.

What’s notable is there seems to be very little interest here in the systematic, barbaric war crimes being committed by Assad and his Russian backers. We do have Bruce Wilder mocking the notion that the Russians hacked into the DNC email. Cyber specialists think it was the Russians to a 90 percent certainty, but of course Wilder knows better. Anyway, who cares whether the Russians hacked the ******* email? I’m more concerned w the fact that Russian planes are deliberately blowing up hospitals and civilians.

To preempt objections, does the US have ‘clean hands’ in the region? Of course not: see US support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen, etc etc. Does that mean it has no standing to object and take some action (eg establishment of humanitarian corridors) when blatant, obvious war crimes are being committed? No, it does not mean it has no standing to do so. And yes, the anti-Assad forces have also committed war crimes, eg recently firing rockets that hit a school w resulting fatalities, but they don’t have the airpower to do it on a massive scale. And yes, the situation is complicated, and it is not a simple sectarian divide, as there are quite a few Sunnis serving in Assad’s govt and army, even as his main regional backer is Shiite Iran.

But at some point these complications can become an excuse for doing nothing effective in the face of systematic atrocities. (And I’m sure I’ll promptly be denounced as a bellicose, hypocritical xyz who wants to start a US/Russian war. This is CT, after all.)

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kidneystones 10.15.16 at 1:10 am

@ 175 The Russians can veto any UN sanctioned no-fly zone. Which means that the imposition of a no-fly zone over Syrian air-space is a de facto US invasion of Syrian sovereignty. The only part of the debate that I listened to was HRC’s weasel answer in response to Aleppo, in which she stated emphatically (not that this was actually the question) that US ground forces would not be used inside the Syrian borders.

The Russians would continue to fly their own Assad sanctioned-missions where they like in Syria and the US (not the Russians) would then be faced with yet another ‘red line’ own goal: to enforce US territorial claims over Syrian air space by shooting down Russian planes. (just temporarily, mind you. Only long enough to see how the Russians will respond to the US shooting down Russian jets. Probably nothing, huh.)

What a fucking moron.

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LFC 10.15.16 at 1:18 am

Which means that the imposition of a no-fly zone over Syrian air-space is a de facto US invasion of Syrian sovereignty.

Yes. And the question is whether sovereignty is *always* inviolable regardless of context, circumstances, and what the ‘sovereign govt’ is doing. The answer is no, it is not.

(Btw, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was illegal not primarily because it was a violation of Iraqi sovereignty but because the (fairly narrow) grounds that would have justified such a violation at the time did not exist.)

179

LFC 10.15.16 at 1:20 am

p.s. Not that a no-fly zone is comparable to a full-scale invasion, which it isn’t.

180

Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 1:48 am

LFC: “If that required a no-fly zone, would Russian planes violate it and risk being shot down? Maybe, maybe not. My guess is they wouldn’t, but I don’t know.”

Reassuring!

A few clarifications, before the inevitable next round of “why do you love dictators?”
* I agree that Aleppo really is being horrifically bombed by Russian and Syrian forces
* I agree with the establishment of humanitarian zones and corridors, as well as plain old diplomacy (using whatever serious bargaining chips are available) to convince the Russians to stop.
* I don’t know how to get the Syrians to stop, given that this is a critical interest of the dictator.
* I disagree with the implication that a failure to say “Aleppo is being horrifically bombed” at each opportunity means anything: see “will you condemn” as a rhetorical device.
* None of my objections have to do with support of Russia, support of Assad, hatred of America, or support for seeing civilians continue to be massacred. They instead have to with the idea that the solution to this is to predictably widen the war to an even more horrific extent.

Now, since Russia is a member of the Security Council, what does the plan to have a no-fly zone without either UN sanction or the sanction of the supposed government of the country involve? It’s easy to say that sovereignty is not always inviolable, but that is just another way of saying that aggressive war is always possible.

So your opinion seems to me to be complete and careless wishful thinking, at best. I won’t even go to “warmonger”, although you are actually proposing war. You’ve said that discussion of foreign policy here is nonsensical, but what gives your contribution any sense?

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LFC 10.15.16 at 2:13 am

If it were possible to do the humanitarian corridors and make them work without a no-fly zone, I’d favor that option. I’ve been following the news like everyone else, but I have not been reading the detailed expert analyses of the situation that are no doubt available (and don’t have the required expertise myself), so I don’t know whether that preferred option (corridors without no-fly zone) is feasible. A no-fly zone would be a tough call and it involves uncertainty, like a good many foreign-policy decisions: however one comes down on it, I don’t think it’s equivalent to “aggressive war,” but we’ll have to agree to disagree on that, I guess. Anyway, by the time the new admin takes office, I suspect that events on the ground will have made the question moot.

182

Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 2:29 am

I don’t actually have high blood pressure problems, LFC, but if I did I would have to avoid thinking about your answer. “Let’s agree to disagree?” No, I won’t even address that one. “Events on the ground will have made the question moot?”

OK, if you think that this is moot, then the whole bit about how we didn’t care about the people being bombed is moot as well! What, we’re supposed to approve of actions that aren’t going to actually happen in order to not actually save any real people? How the heck does this mean anything about actual concern for actual Syrians when it’s probably moot?

Next, “detailed expert analyses”. I purposefully haven’t addressed anything about the recent history of American involvement in war in Syria, because that would lead to the same old accusations that this is about hating America. But now we’re talking about the present as a guide to the future. Does anything about the known history of recent American involvement in Syria indicate that there are detailed expert analyses available that will do any good once filtered through policy? Is the solution supposed to be that HRC’s foreign policy team will be much better than Obama’s?

That totally sucked. I gave you the benefit of the doubt of taking you at your word when you said that you had a serious contribution in contrast to our nonsense, and you did not.

183

basil 10.15.16 at 3:13 am

Ahem.
OT but this is the kind of loving the liberals are super-proud of, and want to continue giving.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-elections/obamacare-minnesota-collapse-governor-emergency-trump-clinton-a7362426.html

184

kidneystones 10.15.16 at 3:25 am

What crap-for-brains doesn’t seem to appreciate is that there are only two sets of pilots and planes for the US to shoot down: pilots flying under the Syrian flag and those flying under the Russian flag. There will be no ‘random’ misunderstandings and miscommunications for Hillary to hide behind. And that’s before Russia decides to flex in the Crimea, the Ukraine, and the Baltic states.

The US will unilaterally determine to seize sovereignty of Syrian airspace, intervene in a civil war on the side of the rebels, and shoot down Syrian government and Russian planes.

Shooting down Russian planes is the plan.

If anyone has any doubt how little Hillary and company have learned from invading Iraq, violent regime change in Iraq, and removing inconvenient one-time friends at will, we’re living through it real time all over again.

This time we have the CT majority in favor of Bush III and her invasions.

Fuck me.

185

kidneystones 10.15.16 at 3:57 am

@180 I’m extremely grateful, btw, to see you gaming out how the US plays chicken with the Russians who ‘back down’ as a ‘reason to vote for Hillary.’

This is a community of adults: LFC, Lee, W Berry et al who lecture the rest of us for wankery, emotionalism etc. and who are now fully behind the candidate who is promising a ‘do-over’ of Iraq with the promise to this time get it right.

Trump, whatever his real deficiencies is openly ready to cede Syrian air-space to Assad. Most informed observers I’ve read argue that the civil war in Syria has been extended by years thanks to US and UK wankery.

At some point, the US may decide not to proceed with violent regime-change. Not yet, however, or so it seems.

All the responsible US diplomats and generals who brought us Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria are lined-up to support the only candidate who is running on 4-8 years of violent regime change.

You’re voting in favor of invading Iraq all over again. Thanks!!!

186

Peter T 10.15.16 at 4:10 am

The Syrian/Iraqi wars are …complicated. But they are both – from the viewpoint of the major combatants – the same war, a contest between the two current major streams of political thought in the Islamic Middle East. Iraqi and Lebanese Shi’a militias are active in support of the regime in Damascus, as are Sunni Palestinian ones and the Druze. Christian and Yezidi groups and Kurdish nationalists have lined up behind both Baghdad and Damascus. One the other side is a loose grouping of Salafi Islamists – ISIS, an-Nusra, the many groups under the FSA umbrella. There are, of course, a few politiques in the middle, too small to count in the fighting, but much courted by the press, and always trotted out as the “moderate opposition”. Any intervention that tries to slice across the broad lines of division soon gets hopelessly tangled diplomatically and militarily. As the US has found out.

With regard to Aleppo, the eastern part of the city has been under the control of the rebels for some years. The majority of the population is in western Aleppo, under government control. Eastern Aleppo is now cut off, and under attack by various pro-government forces supported by the Russian air force. Rebel forces in eastern Aleppo are estimated to be around half al-Qaeda linked Islamists and half local Sunnis. They regularly bombard the western part, as the government does the rebel enclave.

The government has opened seven exit corridors for civilians to leave, and repeatedly offered the rebels evacuation to other areas (several similar offers have been accepted and carried through for rebel enclaves around Damascus). The latest news is that the rebels are reported to have mined the exits to prevent civilians leaving.

A good foreign policy maxim is to choose a side that has a reasonable chance of winning and stick with it. Anything else prolongs the suffering without changing the outcome. US policy in the Middle East, as earlier in South-East Asia, seems unable to grasp this basic.

187

Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 4:40 am

Peter T: “A good foreign policy maxim is to choose a side that has a reasonable chance of winning and stick with it. Anything else prolongs the suffering without changing the outcome. US policy in the Middle East, as earlier in South-East Asia, seems unable to grasp this basic.”

Obviously you must want to turn a helpless population over to the evil Assad instead of the good(?) Islamists or the nonexistent moderates. Anything that equates to letting Assad win would be the ultimate proof of a love of dictators.

I’ve often noticed that opponents of humanitarian intervention are cast as the ones peddling a simplistic, unrealistic set of fantasies — nonsense, in short. But whenever an actual case comes up, it appears that the reverse is true. The people calling for war are peddling fantastical nonsense.

188

ZM 10.15.16 at 6:15 am

From the OP:

“What’s doubly odd about all this shock over Trump’s comments last night is that it’s not as if we’ve been wanting, these past few days, for incidents that are truly shocking. For months, I’ve been beating the drum of the non-novelty of Donald Trump, but try as I might, even I can’t remember a presidential candidate caught on tape bragging about assaulting women and grabbing pussy.”

Replying to the Shock And Awe thread replies to my comments on feminism as it relates to the Trump controversy which is also the subject of this Post:

basil,

I will keep an eye out for Jacqueline Stevens and Sara Ahmed, I don’t think I have heard of them before.

F Foundling,

“F. Foundling 10.13.16 at 8:23 am
ZM @ 402
>Feminism is a women’s movement, men can support feminism or not, but it is not a men’s movement, and men can’t tell a woman how she should be a feminist.
‘The labour movement is a movement of the working class, and if a man of the working class says the labour movement is all about eating squirrels, a man not of the working class may not dispute this’. … You are trying to isolate spaces in discourse that are the monopoly of an identity and enjoy immunity from rational scrutiny; a feudalisation of the universe of ideas. This is an anti-Enlightenment move. It is particularly unfortunate in cases like feminism: since it is about changing the relations between two genders, it is natural that people of both of these genders can and should discuss what it is, what it should be and, yes, they may adhere to it (or not). Again, it takes two to tango. The same applies, mutatis mutandis, to the labour movement.”

Ah, well, I have been known to have some Anti-Enlightenment tendencies every now and again, due to the Enlightenment silencing other voices for centuries with as much rationality as mainly powerful white men could muster.

I do not think feminism has to be irrational, yet nor do I think that men should use the yoke of rationality to tether women to men’s versions of what feminism should be.

I already said I have no problem with men discussing feminism, I just said men can’t tell women what feminism is, since they are men, not women.

Why not leave it to others in the working class to try talking to that fictional working class outlier who thinks the labour movement is about eating squirrels?

engels,

“Rational scrutiny is universal but having political standing to choose the direction of an emancipation movement for a particular oppressed group is not.”

That’s a good way of putting it

F Foundling,

“A not uncommon reaction among those who grew up in a working-class milieu is ‘Some fat bugger tries to squeeze your arse, you slap him in the face or kick him in the groin, problem solved’.”

I don’t think this is right. Women do not have to put up with sexual harassment like this. This attitude basically normalises sexual harassment of women and puts the burden on women that they are expected to tolerate sexual harassment without doing anything about it other than mild physical assault in return.

“if you think there shouldn’t be members of non-working class origins in a socialist party, or that they shouldn’t have an equal right to vote in it, then I disagree.”

But what about Trades Unions? You can’t have a lawyer in the Plumbers Trade Union or something can you?

Yan,

“I wonder if there is a third position possible on this question of whether men can define or determine the direction of feminism.

Granting that there are cases of epistemic privilege, in which my identity or social place give me either access to knowledge others don’t have access, or better access, so that I’m more likely to be correct than others, the question remains: how do I communicate the fact that I do have that epistemic privilege?

So, assuming members of certain groups *do* occupy epistemically privileged positions, not only is there no guarantee that any individual member of that group is judging in accordance with that position, but even if they are, there’s no way for an interlocutor to be certain that they are.

In other words, there are people positioned such that we ought ideally to take their view on a kind of faith, but we cannot take the claim that anyone is in such a position on faith.”

Your 3rd position seems to be some form of extreme relativism.

With regards to my comments on feminism you are replying to — it is not that difficult to work out if someone is a woman actually. There are body parts that differ between men and women and these can be used to identify members in this “epistemically privileged” category of women.

I suppose you can’t tell on an internet forum all the time if someone is using their real identity and someone could pretend to be in one identity group while actually being in another one, but for instance I comment with my university email address so the bloggers can tell I am a real person, and Val links to her blog, and so on.

If F Foundling wanted he could invent a female pseudonym and say Val was wrong about feminism to get around my standard that men shouldn’t tell women what feminism is, but I doubt he could be bothered with such a bizarre and ultimately pointless subterfuge.

189

J-D 10.15.16 at 7:09 am

I already said I have no problem with men discussing feminism, I just said men can’t tell women what feminism is, since they are men, not women.

What would you say about the case of a father asked by his daughter the question ‘What’s feminism, Dad?’

Should he say ‘I don’t know’, or what?

Is it any different from the case of a father asked the same question by his son? Can he tell his son what feminism is, but not his daughter?

190

ZM 10.15.16 at 7:26 am

Sorry my meaning was unclear J-D, I did not mean that men cannot discuss what feminism is with women, I meant that men cannot prescribe or stipulate what feminism is for women.

In the case you are discussing, no, a father shouldn’t prescribe what feminism is to his daughter or his son, that would be patriarchal ;-) but yes, a father could describe the meaning and history of feminism etc.

191

bruce wilder 10.15.16 at 7:35 am

intervene in a civil war on the side of the rebels

I apologize if anyone feels I am harping on this too much, but there are many more than two sides in Syria’s civil war. First of all the civil war is not limited to Syria. ISIL, Hezbollah, and arguably Kurdish Rojava are belligerents not particularly invested in the borders of long defunct Mandate Syria. The rebel forces arrayed against or for Assad in any particular area are various in their motivations and political identities and they never divide neatly into two opposed camps.

192

bruce wilder 10.15.16 at 7:39 am

ZM, is feminism a cause of human rights or feminist privilege?

193

ZM 10.15.16 at 7:47 am

Feminism is about women’s rights and issues important to women.

194

bruce wilder 10.15.16 at 7:52 am

Peter T:the same war, a contest between the two current major streams of political thought in the Islamic Middle East.

With due respect, again, not two sides. also, not two streams of thought.

Maybe, you could justify one stream, Wahhabism, against everyone else, with some among the everyone else opposing. Maybe.

195

bruce wilder 10.15.16 at 7:55 am

ZM: So, feminism isn’t important to men by definition?

What is important to men? Menism?

196

ZM 10.15.16 at 8:06 am

Masculinism?

Men can think feminism is important, but they can’t stipulate what feminism is to women, since they are not women, and feminism is about women’s rights and issues.

In uni its all studied under “gender studies” these days mostly, so that covers both female and male genders, or transgender.

197

kidneystones 10.15.16 at 8:06 am

@ 190 There aren’t many times you’re this wrong, Bruce. There are only two sides. The side that holds a UN seat; votes or abstains on UN resolutions; borrows or does not borrow from the World Bank; has the authority to sign, or abrogate international treaties along, for example, the Golan heights – and the forces not aligned with the government.

The CT community evidently wants to ‘confuse itself’ and the issues. You are either in favor of the US using US military power to unilaterally intercede in a civil war against the Assad government, which as you and Peter T note, is inextricably linked to Iraq and other regional disputes, or you oppose the unilateral use of US military power to topple governments in the ME.

In short, you either support US violent regime change in the ME, or you do not.

All who are voting for Hillary Clinton are voting for US violent regime change in Syria. That’s been the stated policy of the Obama administration for some years, Hillary was played a key role in formulating that policy as Secretary of State. Now, as candidate for President she has explicitly promised more US violent regime change in Iraq.

Violent regime change in Syria is the stated policy of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate most US members of the CT community plan to vote for in November.

198

J-D 10.15.16 at 8:13 am

ZM 10.15.16 at 7:26 am
Sorry my meaning was unclear J-D, I did not mean that men cannot discuss what feminism is with women, I meant that men cannot prescribe or stipulate what feminism is for women.

In the case you are discussing, no, a father shouldn’t prescribe what feminism is to his daughter or his son, that would be patriarchal ;-) but yes, a father could describe the meaning and history of feminism etc.

When you write that a father shouldn’t prescribe to his children what feminism is, you make it seem as if you think there’s a difference between a father doing it and a mother doing it.

If that is what you think, what makes you think that it’s okay for a mother to prescribe to her children what feminism is?

If that’s not what you think, wouldn’t it be better, instead of stating that men shouldn’t prescribe to women what feminism is, to state that nobody should prescribe to anybody else what feminism is?

199

ZM 10.15.16 at 8:31 am

J-D,

“If that’s not what you think, wouldn’t it be better, instead of stating that men shouldn’t prescribe to women what feminism is, to state that nobody should prescribe to anybody else what feminism is?”

No I don’t think that is right actually, I think there are ongoing discussions among women with women making arguments that prescribe what feminism is. I think this is fine.

I think men can’t make similar arguments prescribing what feminism is since they are not women.

200

J-D 10.15.16 at 8:42 am

ZM, you haven’t answered the question ‘What makes you think it’s okay for a mother to prescribe to her children what feminism is?’

201

ZM 10.15.16 at 8:44 am

J-D I already said that I think its fine for women to make prescriptive arguments about what feminism is, but I don’t think men should because they are not women.

202

kidneystones 10.15.16 at 8:49 am

Some food for thought: Trump tied LA Times poll.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/10/14/why_pay_attention_to_the_la_times_poll.html

” The national polls (though not so much the state polls) were off in 2012. During the closing month of the campaign, they showed, on average, a 0.3 point Romney lead. The RAND poll [LA Times], by contrast, showed a 3.8 point Obama lead – which was almost exactly correct.”

Sean Trende throws a big bucket of salt on the LA Times poll, before getting to the accuracy of the poll in 2012.

203

engels 10.15.16 at 9:06 am

What is important to men? Menism?

Masculism

204

J-D 10.15.16 at 10:07 am

ZM 10.15.16 at 8:44 am
J-D I already said that I think its fine for women to make prescriptive arguments about what feminism is

Yes, I am well aware that you think that it is fine. The question I was asking was not whether you think that it is fine. You have already made your position on that point clear. That is what provides the basis for the question which I actually did ask you, which is not whether you think that it is fine, but why you think that it is fine.

205

ZM 10.15.16 at 10:27 am

1. I don’t object to people being prescriptive in general and in toto, I think its okay that people make prescriptive arguments

2. I think group identity and boundaries are important in some cases in deciding whether making prescriptive arguments is appropriate

3. Feminism is about women, women’s rights, the advancement of women, women’s issues etc.

4. Women are thereby entitled to make prescriptive arguments about feminism

5. Men are not entitled to make prescriptive arguments to women about feminism (maybe with an emergency clause, like if all the women suddenly decide on eating squirrels for feminism like they are in the some Zombie feminist squirrel eating cult, then men might try to stop them with prescriptive arguments, although I doubt rational argument will do any good)

206

Lee A. Arnold 10.15.16 at 11:38 am

Returning to Corey Robin’s post, it appears that the media journalists may start to need security protection at Trump rallies. Another pre-fascist development, perhaps unprecedented at the rallies of major parties in U.S. history.

207

Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 11:41 am

ZM: “it is not that difficult to work out if someone is a woman actually. There are body parts that differ between men and women and these can be used to identify members in this “epistemically privileged” category of women.”

And that is an essentialist version of feminism. It comes down to whether someone has particular body parts, just as the question of whether someone wasn’t threatened by white nationalism supposedly came down to whether their skin was physically white. It doesn’t have anything to do with social construction since it’s obviously about biological construction. It discourages intersectionality since not all kinds of oppression are based on supposedly biological factors. And it has predictably bad effects when dealing with people who are trans in any way, either “biologically” or in terms of gender identity etc.

208

Anarcissie 10.15.16 at 11:54 am

To restate something I wrote recently, much depends on whether one considers feminism to be a universalizing or minimizing discourse. (I would say ‘particularizing’, but the jargon is as it is.) If feminism is a universalizing discourse, that is, it is about the society and its culture as a whole, then all those affected, including those who are not women, need to be included. If it is only about women, and not about society as a whole, then there is no reason for non-women to participate.

209

Ronan(rf) 10.15.16 at 12:08 pm

“One strength of Müller book is that he spends some time parrying bad arguments about populism, which have flourished in a variety of intellectually useless and actively pernicious think pieces. He is especially hard on the two tics of liberal commentary heard on America’s coasts: psychologizing populism as a symptom of resentment or the “authoritarian personality,” and dismissing populists as irresponsible rubes who don’t understand the tenets of sound economic and social policy.

These criticisms, Müller points out, are really refusals to take political disagreement seriously—which, after all, is precisely the political sin of antipluralists like Trump. A major problem with the horrified response to Trump’s campaign—however appropriate in other respects—has been its self-serving imprecision. Whether by sweeping the very different Sanders campaign into the same all-inclusive condemnation of “irresponsible” and “angry” movements, or by lumping Trump’s views on trade policy (a legitimate argument to make in a democratic contest) with his xenophobia (which should be considered beyond the pale), the liberal response has often created cartoons out of both left and right populism. It also misses, in Müller’s view, what is so dangerous about populism’s discontents.”

https://www.thenation.com/article/the-two-populisms/

210

Ronan(rf) 10.15.16 at 12:11 pm

This really is another post 9/11 moment for the chattering classes. All their claims of expertise, clear eyed analysis, logic above emotion, has come crashing down around their hysterical, emotion driven response to the current political situation. There is, at this stage, basically zero willingness among these groups to do their Job of explaining the world, all they want to achieve is a combination of political signalling and intense personal satisfaction.

211

Val 10.15.16 at 12:14 pm

The political purpose of feminism is equality of women and men, which is about equity – fairness – not sameness. (How would the worker who gave birth be ‘the same’ as the worker who did not give birth? It is about creating a situation in which both get fair treatment).

The goal of equity, as has often been pointed out, has benefits for men and women. Men ‘benefit’ currently from systems of gendered inequity, but at a more profound level they don’t benefit and are distinctly worse off in some areas like health and longevity.

The ‘methods’ of feminism are to analyse society to find the locations and mechanisms of equity or inequity, including power and practice. Although ZM and some others don’t necessarily agree entirely, I suggest the study of patriarchy is a very important part of this.

Recognising the significance of the body is not essentialism, it’s quite the opposite. Making bodies the subject of social theory and study is removing them from the ‘essential’ or ‘taken for granted’ (Bourdieu’s ‘universe of the undiscussed’)

Finally, Rich Puchalsky does not have the epistemically authority to pronounce on what is or is not correct feminism!

There’s some excellent articles on feminist theory and Trump/Clinton at Feminist Philosophers blog right now.

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Val 10.15.16 at 12:15 pm

‘Epistemic authority’ I mean – damn these autocorrecting iPhones!

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Val 10.15.16 at 12:21 pm

The idea that there is a distinct realm of the ‘social’ as distinct from the ‘biological’ is no longer generally accepted in post positivist, constructivist, or socioecological theory. I think that’s where Rich is making his key mistake.

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basil 10.15.16 at 12:32 pm

ZM,
I agree with you. No one should be lecturing anyone on anything, but what about persuading or working out together? At least for anarchists, it wouldn’t do to have a priesthood. On the previous thread, I asked to maybe think about

a) patriarchy as hegemonic ideology in which all are formed/immersed
b)the abolition of gender – which it can be surmised CTers think, even now with all that can be learned from queer/inter/trans rebellion, a bridge too far. For me it is a crucial horizon
c) the fact that many persons gendered as women collude with and support the patriarchy as staunch anti-feminists
d) that like persons gendered as men, persons gendered as women may occupy positions that shape their sense of what forms the struggle for women’s liberation ought to take, and that these influences might lead to a more attenuated feminism than say engels would advocate
e) that feminism can be imagined as a revolutionary belief and practice of anti-patriarchism, which given patriarchy’s hegemonic nature and most intimate reach, demands that all humans completely change themselves in far-reaching ways. Can persons gendered as women get there while those gendered differently stick to the old belief and practice?
f) feminism is not shaktism.

215

Anarcissie 10.15.16 at 12:36 pm

Maybe the idea of essentialism and what may be wrong with it needs to be discussed, since it seems to be so popular (not just around here; and often, in disguised forms).

216

kidneystones 10.15.16 at 12:42 pm

@208 I generally agree. Thanks for the link to the Nation piece. I earlier skimmed this Guardian piece by JJ which features an extended essay from the reviewed text. John has been beating this drum for more than a year trying to wear his two hats: partisan Dem and serious social critic. The first serious undermines the second.

The best analyses I’ve read were a couple of essays from 2015 comparing Trump to Berlusconi. Those interested will need to insert 2015 into the search string to skip past the more breathless 2016 versions. The 2015 essays are largely free of tbe breathless need to stop Trump cold that mar 2016 comparisons.

The Judis essay marries Trump too closely to George Wallace, another populist, but critically also a professional politician, a Democrat, and a New Dealer.

Judis has a good quote, or two, from Wallace that definitely fit the Tea Party/Silent Majority profile – rule followers, middle-class unhappy with the rapine corruption and self-serving nature of the elites.

The problem is that Trump is an entertainer/marketer and his product is him. Van Jones remains the single best pundit on Trump because Jones understands that the elections are about stagecraft, more than politics. Both the Nation and the Guardian piece function as much as thinly disguised GOTV arguments as academic assessments of the Trump phenomena.

What both get right, along with many others, is that removing Trump from the equation removes nothing from the masses of ordinary folks who a/will not apologize for who they are and in fact celebrate themselves and their values b/aren’t interested in the approval, or the explications of elites c/are completely determined to burn down this mess irrespective of whether Trump is elected, or not.

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kidneystones 10.15.16 at 12:43 pm

218

basil 10.15.16 at 12:44 pm

I thought the Clay Shirky @irl twitter conversation yesterday was interesting.

219

Ronan(rf) 10.15.16 at 12:48 pm

Thanks for the link kidneystones, I’ll check.it out. I’m working through Judis’ book at the moment and find larger parts,of it convincing.
Who.Is van Jones? Is it this lad?

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/28/magazine/van-jones-can-empathize-with-trump-voters.html

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Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 1:06 pm

Val: “Finally, Rich Puchalsky does not have the epistemically authority to pronounce on what is or is not correct feminism!”

Your usual classy reading skills there, Val. Find where I wrote “correct” above.

I don’t think you’ve learned one thing from your interactions at this blog, because you’re still making the same mistakes that lead to your anti-Semitic statements before.

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kidneystones 10.15.16 at 1:06 pm

@217 Ho-ho-ho! Thanks for this Ronan(rf). I prefer Jones in the raw, rather via Cox, who is now, believe or not, a born-again Christian.

http://dailycaller.com/2015/03/05/ana-marie-cox-i-believed-i-was-a-bad-person/

It’s par for the course, of course, that the NYT asks a woman who built her ‘journalistic’ career through a female nom-de-plume with a penchant for ‘ass-fucking’ to profile Jones as a pundit sympathetic to Trump voters.

In all seriousness, Jones requires no filters, especially not from a born-again opportunist flogging her new identity by slagging Jones, who is pretty much off the NYT plantation.

Bad him!

222

kidneystones 10.15.16 at 1:12 pm

Tell me this isn’t better:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNk3Jdck7nY

Two minutes should do it, but the rest is great, too.

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engels 10.15.16 at 1:13 pm

The people v. the ‘global managerial class’

…while approximately 55 percent of Trump supporters do not have a bachelor’s degree, this demographic makes up approximately 70 percent of the US population — they are underrepresented among Trump voters. However, the college-educated white new middle class (professionals and managers), is approximately 30 percent of the population, but are overrepresented, at 40 percent, among Trump supporters. Not surprisingly, the median household income of Trump voters is around $70,000 annually.

More importantly, the category “non-college educated whites” includes both wage workers and the self-employed — the traditional middle class. The Economist found that “better-paid and better-educated voters have always formed as big a part of Mr. Trump’s base as those at the lower end of the scale for income and education.”

A systematic review of Gallup polling data demonstrates, again, that most Trump supporters are part of the traditional middle class (self-employed) and those sectors of the new middle class (supervisors) who do not require college degrees. They tend to live in “white enclaves”…

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/10/trump-gop-republicans-tea-party-populism-fascism/

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Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 1:21 pm

Anarcissie: “Maybe the idea of essentialism and what may be wrong with it needs to be discussed, since it seems to be so popular (not just around here; and often, in disguised forms).”

Here’s what ZM wrote: “it is not that difficult to work out if someone is a woman actually. There are body parts that differ between men and women and these can be used to identify members in this “epistemically privileged” category of women.”

So according to this theory, you just check someone’s body parts. If a trans person is post-op, then maybe they qualify? I guess it depends on how good medical technology is. But if they are pre-op, or just don’t want an operation at all, then their identity is defined by their body parts.

This isn’t some controversy that I’ve invented. It’s pretty much everywhere within contemporary feminism. In past comments Val has complained about e.g. Women’s Studies being merged into Gender Studies. It’s an active political site of dissension, and no one is really served by pretending that the only people who get to write about it are the people that one group definitively thinks are the only people who get to write about it.

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Ronan(rf) 10.15.16 at 1:22 pm

Engels links to evidence to apparently contradict an argument that has repeatedly acknowledged that evidence (even on this thread). Is it the case that you literally read nothing above ?

226

Ronan(rf) 10.15.16 at 1:29 pm

..unless I’m misunderstanding you (in which case I apologise) I don’t see how this contradicts anything above?

227

engels 10.15.16 at 1:31 pm

it is not that difficult to work out if someone is a woman actually

Can’t think why this dragged out so long then

228

Ronan(rf) 10.15.16 at 1:33 pm

Kidney stones I’ll check out the link above when by a laptop.
Personally I don’t know how j feel about the managerial class argument (I still have to read both Hayes and Frank ) but it’s becoming quite clear that large parts of the left and right “establishment” (which is just a shorthand way of saying those with high profile journalistic, political and cultural positions) are going out of their way to not acknowledge what is right in from of their eyes, that there are political and economic (as well as racial and cultural) reasons behind the rise of right wing populism.

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RichardM 10.15.16 at 1:34 pm

> But, I don’t know what actual policy follows from Trumpism, if not Mike Pence brand right neoliberalism.

‘I don’t know, so I assume’ is kind of the defining characteristic of reactions to the Trump Candidacy.

Maybe he will, continue with neoliberalism. Or maybe he will go full communism now, or perhaps at least anti-imperialism, as one prolific poster here repeatedly claims. It all depends on which 10% of his statements you believe are not lies, and what you project into the gap left by the rest.

If he was elected, things would be different from what they are, or at least are understood to be. And things being different, they would continue to be so, taking a different path from the continuation of a status quo. My personal evidence-free assumption is that this would likely take the nature of a decade-long crisis that would end with a return to a weakened version of the pre-Trump regime. A pale echo of the rosy days of Obama, Bush and Clinton.

But it could equally plausibly lead to a stable regime that would have European political scientists in lively debate as to whether or not it is most accurately called fascist.

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Ronan(rf) 10.15.16 at 1:38 pm

For those not wager to read the link, here are the bits engels cut. From the beginning.

“Who are Trump’s voters? Despite claims that he has won the “white working class,” the vast majority of Trump’s supporters, like those of the Tea Party, are drawn from the traditional and new middle classes, especially the older, white male and less well-off strata of these classes. Clearly, Trump’s right-wing opposition to neoliberal trade and tax policies resonates with a minority of older, white workers, including a minority of union members.”

And after enclave

“isolated from immigrants and other people of color, have worse health than the average US resident, and are experiencing low rates of intergenerational mobility. While not directly affected either by the decline of industry in the Midwest or by immigration, these sectors have experiencing declining living standards and are fearful about their children’s prospects of remaining in the middle class.”

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engels 10.15.16 at 1:40 pm

Roman, I already said I broadly agreed with you (is it the case you literally zzzzzzzzzzz)— I’m delighted that via Luttwak you’re groping towards a class analysis of fascism that has been standard on the left since at least Trotsky…

232

Ronan(rf) 10.15.16 at 1:42 pm

If, as we know, a lot of voting can be explained by partisanship and social identity , and the demographics of the republican party are whiter and wealthier than the Dems, then:

“while approximately 55 percent of Trump supporters do not have a bachelor’s degree, this demographic makes up approximately 70 percent of the US population — they are underrepresented among Trump voters.”

And

“However, the college-educated white new middle class (professionals and managers), is approximately 30 percent of the population, but are overrepresented, at 40 percent, among Trump supporters. Not surprisingly, the median household income of Trump voters is around $70,000 annually.”

Is not surprising

233

Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 1:45 pm

Ronan(rf): “Personally I don’t know how j feel about the managerial class argument”

There are certain decision makers who make all of the important decisions, or who at least get a tremendously inordinate amount of power over those decisions. If they aren’t making a decision in a positive sense, their power often controls decisions in a negative sense by restricting the available choices to those that are all acceptable to them.

The developments of late capitalism have to do with the transition of these decisions from the elite capitalist class as such to a group of managers. These managers can not and do not go against the traditional interests of capital as such. But their decisions characteristically favor their class in ways that a traditional class analysis can not fathom, and their ideology appeals to a group variously called “professionals”, “technocrats”, “the 10%” etc. who more broadly control the levers of power in society.

The managerial class operates a world system — the system of trade agreements, monetary agreements, etc. This system keeps the world economy going as it is going through the cooperation of American economists, Eurocrat bureaucratic appointees, Chinese Communist Party higher-ups, important people in the financial industry (whether bankers or at central banks), CEOs of multinationals, and even the leaders of important NGOs. These interactions are observable and not a matter of conspiracy theory.

234

Ronan(rf) 10.15.16 at 1:45 pm

I’m not groping towards some vulgar Marxist class analysis, but if you give me a specific reference to what to read on this by Trotsky(genuinely), and if it progresses beyond the usual Marxist claptrap I’ve hearx, I’ll reconsider my hostility to vulgar Marxism and Don the sackclothe and ashes ….

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kidneystones 10.15.16 at 1:53 pm

@226 It’s coastal urban elites, many of whom went to the same schools, often Ivy league talking about all the others who didn’t. It’s far from surprising they’re so profoundly out of touch and ignorant.

@227 If you’re referring to me, and that’s a big if, I can’t remember using the term anti-imperialist ever (not that I’ve never said it, I just can’t imagine why I would). As I’ve tried to make clear, I supported Sanders, can’t support Hillary for reasons I’ve made quite clear and regard Trump as a clue free buffoon. To suggest he’s ‘lying’ suggests he’s actually thought through his ‘arguments’ when he’s almost always riffing. I hope he wins.

@228 Yes. But Trump enjoys/has enjoyed substantially better support among African-Americans than most Republican candidates. His populism and calls for border controls is at least partially designed to appeal to minorities on economic terms.

That’s what Jones pointed out a long time ago. There’s a substantial subset of African-American voters who feel they’ve been extremely badly served despite consistently supporting Democrats. Jones claims that Trump wins if 3/20 succumb to the siren song of Trump’s populist boasts.

Nap time.

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engels 10.15.16 at 1:53 pm

What I mainly hoping to draw attention to by excerpting the article in that way was the contrast with (1) the bizarre colour- (and gender-) blindness of the Puchalsky-Wilder position (2) the bizarre obsession with managers as ‘global elite’ and fount of neoliberalism

(And because I’m part of an international conspiracy to hide the truth from the people bit I try not talk about that for obvious reasons. Have a nice weekend Y’all!)

237

Ronan(rf) 10.15.16 at 1:55 pm

(I just noticed you did link to Trotsky above. Thanjs) I’ll read it when I have time later

238

engels 10.15.16 at 1:58 pm

give me a specific reference to what to read on this by Trotsky

“Is it the case that you read literally nothing above?”

239

engels 10.15.16 at 2:00 pm

X’d. Laters gators

240

Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 2:02 pm

Have fun reading your Trotsky, Comrade engels! I guess that you’ve made it to 1944 at least so maybe soon you’ll reach the second half of the 20th century. Sorry that I can’t give you a list of charismatic leaders or authoritative theorists that anarchists follow: that’s kind of a Marxist thing.

But your response hits all the usual asshole buttons: color and gender blindness, bizarre, international conspiracy, etc. One might even think that as a UK Labour Party supporter you’re just like an HRC supporter here in the U.S! But that is obviously unpossible because you are a revolutionary.

241

kidneystones 10.15.16 at 2:31 pm

Clinton meets impartial press to discuss repackaging Hillary over cocktails hosted by Diane Sawyer:

http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/2016/10/your-moral-and-380.html

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ZM 10.15.16 at 2:48 pm

Rich Puchalsky,

“So according to this theory, you just check someone’s body parts. If a trans person is post-op, then maybe they qualify? I guess it depends on how good medical technology is. But if they are pre-op, or just don’t want an operation at all, then their identity is defined by their body parts.”

Women have female body parts, men have male body parts, intersex people have intersex body parts, non-op or pre-op transgender people have the opposite body parts of the gender they identify with, post-op transgender people have surgery to have the body parts of the gender they identify with.

Its not that complicated really.

You can ascertain it pretty easily most of the time, I suppose if you wanted to ascertain someone’s gender instead of just taking it on face value it would all be very awkward.

“And that is an essentialist version of feminism. It comes down to whether someone has particular body parts… It doesn’t have anything to do with social construction since it’s obviously about biological construction. …. And it has predictably bad effects when dealing with people who are trans in any way, either “biologically” or in terms of gender identity etc.”

Its really not essentialism thinking the body is a site of difference between male and female genders. The body is a big category of analysis in post-structuralist gender studies, its not essentialism at all.

Essentialism is more like saying all women due to their biology and innate femininity love doing embroidery and making cakes and also women can’t shoot guns or do maths for the same reason.

And just because you look at the body as something that makes someone male or female (for those who aren’t transgender), doesn’t mean you are saying there are no social factors involved in creating gender norms and so on.

Also including the body in what makes you male or female doesn’t necessarily have bad effects on trans people, you can see what I wrote above:

“In uni its all studied under “gender studies” these days mostly, so that covers both female and male genders, or transgender.”

I would generally academically categorise a transgender person as a M-F or F-M transgender person rather than simply a woman or man, but socially I treat someone as a woman or man as they identify, since its not really polite going into those sorts of personal history details with someone you don’t know well unless they feel like sharing the information. A transgender person has a different experience of gender than a woman or man who identifies with the gender of their body, I think this can be noted academically, but socially I wouldn’t necessarily since it wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate or polite.

I think a M-F transgender woman can be a feminist, but I would hope they would acknowledge being transgender if it was in any sort of academic discussion of gender. But if it was just a discussion of being harassed on public transport or something, then I wouldn’t care if they brought up being transgender or not.

Also I don’t see how you can possibly ignore the body in looking at the transgender experience — the body is something that is fundamental to the experience of being a transgender person.

So I think you are totally wrong.

243

engels 10.15.16 at 3:32 pm

Its not that complicated really.

It kinda is—see link above and transsexual v transgender v non-binary etc

244

Lynne 10.15.16 at 3:32 pm

For men who don’t understand why they should not play a leadership role in feminism, this is worth reading.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gretchen-kelly/the-thing-all-women-do-you-dont-know-about_b_8630416.html

245

bruce wilder 10.15.16 at 3:39 pm

ks @ 240:

Reading thru the link, my favorite part was the stated purpose of the cocktail party for elite NY reporters: “Give reporters their first thoughts . . .”

246

ZM 10.15.16 at 3:40 pm

engels,

“It kinda is—see link above and transsexual v transgender v non-binary etc”

I don’t think they are very difficult sorry.

247

Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 3:42 pm

I don’t mind that you think that I’m wrong, ZM, but I think that you are wrong. Let’s say that we said that the African-American experience was defined by study of body parts: how much melanin was in someone’s skin, do they have identifiably African-American (according to American culture) facial features and hair, etc., and that this was the essential site of difference. Or that an effeminate-appearing man (according to the rules of appearance of whatever culture he was in) was biologically male, so he had nothing important to say about this experience and no voice within feminism. Or that an intersex person had “intersex body parts” (whatever they are) and therefore their voice is just kind of suspect within feminism because they aren’t really a woman.

248

ZM 10.15.16 at 3:44 pm

I mean I am sure people can have enormous difficulties navigating that sort of stuff for themselves if they are confused about their own gender, but Rich Puchalsky wasn’t saying that or saying that gender is complex, he was saying that it was difficult to work out what gender or sex someone is in the first place, and for most people most of the time its not difficult at all and you assess dozens of people’s gender while you are walking around or at work or shopping, without any enormous difficulties most of the time.

249

bruce wilder 10.15.16 at 3:45 pm

Should free persons play a leadership role in an antislavery movement?

250

Robert Halford 10.15.16 at 3:56 pm

I wonder if the proprietors of the blog are excited that its comment section is one of the world’s leading centers of deranged left-Trump rambling? At some point the association with these clowns has to start affecting professional reputations, right? Or maybe not.

251

ZM 10.15.16 at 4:06 pm

Rich Puchalsky,

“” don’t mind that you think that I’m wrong, ZM, but I think that you are wrong. Let’s say that we said that the African-American experience was defined by study of body parts… that this was the essential site of difference.”

Well I guess you would have a problem since there would be people with African ancestry who were of more European appearance and you would fail to include them with your categorisation.

But I didn’t say that at all anyhow.

“Or that an effeminate-appearing man (according to the rules of appearance of whatever culture he was in) was biologically male, so he had nothing important to say about this experience and no voice within feminism.”

Um what do you mean by “effeminate-appearing man” ? Do you mean a man who is transgender and identifies as female?

I already said “I think a M-F transgender woman can be a feminist” above, meaning what I said before about whether i would think it was okay for them to be prescriptive about what feminism is, with the condition that they acknowledged being transgender.

“Or that an intersex person had “intersex body parts” (whatever they are) and therefore their voice is just kind of suspect within feminism because they aren’t really a woman.”

I didn’t say that either Rich Puchalsky. I think if someone is intersex they are born without distinct sexual organs. It can be difficult for their parents since they have to decide whether to choose a gender for the child when they are very young knowing that it might not be the choice the child would make for themselves when they were older, or else to let the child be intersex until they are old enough to make the decision for themselves. That’s not an exact definition I am sure, but that’s pretty much my understanding.

252

bruce wilder 10.15.16 at 4:06 pm

deranged left-Trump rambling

That’s a thing now, is it? Did you have examples in mind?

253

Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 4:18 pm

ZM: “i would think it was okay for them to be prescriptive about what feminism is, with the condition that they acknowledged being transgender.”

OK. What if they don’t want to follow this condition? What if what you think defines them, their body parts, are not what they think defines them?

Parenthetically, I don’t like how this keeps coming back to “being prescriptive about what feminism is.” I’ve always said that essentialist feminism is a kind of feminism: I’m not trying to define what feminism is. I also don’t think that the idea that it is just me saying this, rather than this being a widespread difference of opinion within feminism, is really well-founded.

254

bruce wilder 10.15.16 at 4:24 pm

RichardM: ‘I don’t know, so I assume’ is kind of the defining characteristic of reactions to the Trump Candidacy.

I take your point. Trump’s stream of consciousness style, especially earlier in the Primary campaign, presented a political Rorschach test for some.

255

ZM 10.15.16 at 4:29 pm

“OK. What if they don’t want to follow this condition? What if what you think defines them, their body parts, are not what they think defines them?”

I think they should acknowledge their transgender experience.

Why wouldn’t they acknowledge their transgender experience?

I am not saying their body parts define them, I am just saying they should acknowledge their transgender experience.

And I only said that for academic sort of discussions, not for discussing being harassed on busses or something.

I was discussing with J-D about my view that men shouldn’t be prescriptive to women about what feminism is, since they aren’t women. That was why the prescriptive bit comes in.

Essentialism is widely condemned in feminism — but you aren’t using the term essentialism how its used.

Its used for saying things like if someone says women innately like flower arranging that’s essentialism — like for things that are considered feminine if you say *all women* enjoy them or are good at them etc, then that’s essentialism.

Essentialism isn’t used in gender studies how you are using it by saying if I bring up how women have different bodies than men I am being essentialist, even when I make exceptions for categories like transgender and intersex anyhow to the body rule.

256

basil 10.15.16 at 4:38 pm

In slightly less invisible ink.
I think ZM’s interventions prove that the gender and racial frameworks’ inherent violence can only be dealt with by abolition.
I almost can’t believe that they aren’t trolling.

257

Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 4:42 pm

ZM: “Why wouldn’t they acknowledge their transgender experience?”

Well, one reason might be because you seem to be saying that it’s only OK for them to have a proscriptive voice within feminism if they acknowledge their experience in the way that you want them to acknowledge it. If they go to an academic conference, they can speak proscriptively if they say first “I have transgender body parts” but if they don’t say that… then what? They are speaking under false pretenses?

I’m quite aware that transgender people acknowledge their experiences in the way that they want to acknowledge them. But why should you be able to tell them how that must be if they want a proscriptive voice in feminism?

258

ZM 10.15.16 at 4:46 pm

I don’t think its the body that is the thing, its the history. They have an experience of being a transgender person, not an experience of being a girl and then a woman. Their experience isn’t the same as a woman who identifies with her body, they had an experience of being male and not identifying with their body. Its a different experience.

259

ZM 10.15.16 at 4:48 pm

basil,

“I think ZM’s interventions prove that the gender and racial frameworks’ inherent violence can only be dealt with by abolition.”

I’m sorry I don’t really want you to abolish my womanhood, thanks all the same.

260

ZM 10.15.16 at 4:48 pm

Also saying you want to abolish gender since you don’t like my comments is pretty violent!

261

Layman 10.15.16 at 4:55 pm

kidneystones: “But Trump enjoys/has enjoyed substantially better support among African-Americans than most Republican candidates. “

Meanwhile, on Earth, Romney got 6% of the black vote, while Trump is currently polling at around 2% of the black vote…

262

Yan 10.15.16 at 5:21 pm

Since I inadvertently prolonged this with my “third way” post, I should correct and clarify one point. The problem is not knowing who occupies an epistemically priveleged position but knowing whether they are speaking from or in accordance with it.

Even if Abraham is commanded by God to kill Isaac, how do I know he’s not throwing in “God also told me to ask you to help me move” out of convenience? Or that he didn’t mishear God’s command to give “make a sack of rice with Isaac”? How do I know an individual is truthfully or accurately speaking in accordance with their priveleged position?

Surely, for example, the many women on the right who support sexist parties, politicians, and policies are evidence that occupying a position of epistemically priveleged doesn’t guarantee accurately relating its insights. Some even consider themselves feminist. Can’t a man meaningfully critique their claims? If so, it’s because the veracity of their claims depends on intersubjectively available facts about the social, economic, and political position of women, and does not depend solely on experiences accessible or communicable only to those so positioned.

In a similar way, CT, despite being populated by a largely economically priveleged bunch, has no qualms telling the working class and the economically oppressed what left politics is and what it’s aims should be. Perhaps to a fault, but surely no one is willing to say that if the working class decides populist fascism is their true politics, no one should class-splain to them that they’re mistaken.

One’s social position is an intersection, I’ve heard it called, of multiple and often conflicting identities and interests. My position as a man might lead me, for example, to deceive myself about my experience as a minority. My position as a upper middle class might lead me to distort or deny my experiences as a child of the working class.

Knowing someone occupies an epistemically priveleged position doesn’t tell us if they are a reliable or honest or insightful spokesperson for that position.

263

Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 5:21 pm

ZM: “I don’t think its the body that is the thing, its the history. They have an experience of being a transgender person”

OK, then perhaps we agree that it’s not really about body parts at all. It’s about the experiences that someone has gone through. I don’t think that the “identifying with their body” part is the necessarily defining part of this experience — some people may think that, but it’s up to them whether they think it about themselves, not me.

Basil, I don’t think that ZM is close to trolling, she’s just writing what she thinks. Needless to say, I think that starting out by thinking that body parts are the defining elements leads directly to essentialism classic, or whatever you want to call it: beliefs that women are essentially more nurturing, that they essentially have whatever kinds of characteristics their society associates with their idealized body parts, that the original history of oppression starts with patriarchy and everything else is a kind of lesser subset of it, etc.

264

ZM 10.15.16 at 5:38 pm

Rich Puchalsky,

But I experience my entire life through a female body, first as a girl then as a woman.

I do not experience my life through a man’s body ever, not one day in my life.

I am not saying the body is the only thing that influences gender, but I am saying its a very important thing that influences gender, and you are eliding its importance.

And partly why you do that is that the male body is considered “normal”, and male experience is considered the normal experience. So women don’t have a different experience because of their different body — since then men’s experiences are not “normal” but only 50% of things.

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basil 10.15.16 at 5:57 pm

ZM,
I am sorry.

I regret that I made you feel violated. I hope that on reflection you’ll see that I’ve the same prescription for all sorts of hierarchies, not just this gender one.

Perhaps it isn’t clear that gender functions to create a hierarchy, but it does give some this privilege of fitting into the norm, while punishing those who can’t or won’t conform. What you wrote above comes across as rather unkind to people who wouldn’t choose as easily as you make out. I hope you can see that they are harmed by a world in which they are restricted to this binary, and why it might be attractive to rid ourselves of the edifice entirely.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 6:02 pm

Perhaps we can have a serious scholar of feminism chip in at this point and ask whether you’ve experienced your entire life through a female body because that’s what you’ve been taught to think your whole life about the gender binary and that’s how people have treated you, or whether your experience is really directly constructed by your body parts.

You might want to read this article about TERFs. I am not saying that I think that anyone here is a TERF, or that I agree with much of this article. But it might serve to introduce certain concepts that make this more than merely a male thing about men’s experience being the normal experience — something that I don’t think I have ever written.

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engels 10.15.16 at 6:52 pm

but surely no one is willing to say that if the working class decides populist fascism is their true politics, no one should class-splain to them that they’re mistaken

Setting aside reservations entered above about the class base of populism/fascism, I think if you unpacked this sympathetically it could be the bones of an argument for what’s wrong with the Krugman/Vox approach to Trump

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engels 10.15.16 at 7:00 pm

If class-splaining is going to become a thing, I’d like to nominate this for locus classicus
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/oct/13/uselections2004.usa13

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engels 10.15.16 at 7:03 pm

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merian 10.15.16 at 7:14 pm

It’s a particularly dubious pleasure to see a group of (mostly) men trying to get a handle on how to tell a woman from a transgendered person by judicious inspection of body parts. I don’t even know where to start (and would recommend a detour via Mr. Google: a ton has been written and discussed about this, from the perspective of actual experience and long-term involvement with this topic area, during this year’s Olympics, for example).

Two comments though.

1.

What would you say about the case of a father asked by his daughter the question ‘What’s feminism, Dad?’

Should he say ‘I don’t know’, or what?

Becoming knowledgeable about feminism, sexism, racism, whatever kind of structural discrimination is relevant in one’s society, is everyone’s job. And it’s not as if feminism benefitted only women (it’s a bit like thinking that an extended education system only benefits the students who graduate from the new and more advanced tracks, while completely neglecting the ecosystem impact, and the public benefit derived from what those students do with the education they received). Occasionally you read a guy pouring hate over feminist for a complaint that is actually about a downside of sexism for him.

Somewhat disturbing, though, is this example: what is it supposed to illuminate for a discussion between adult peers? It is about a parent-child, maybe teacher-pupil relationship. Is anyone here modelling their role here as that of the parent and the rest of us as children?

2.
I already touched on the in-community aspect of these things, and that authority to speak about race, sex, disability etc, from an insider POV is given, not taken, if you aren’t starting out as an in-community person. It’s just like certain jokes are fine, even a cultural tradition, within certain groups but quickly sound racist or anti-Semitic if an outside just appropriates them. Even if they aren’t meant as aggressive.

Here’s an example how this works. One of my neighbours — lets’s refer to her as Carla (not her real name) — is a public health nurse. She flies her small aircraft to remote villages and provides health services, screening exams, referrals, and health education. She’s white (she probably would describe herself as a proud Italian-American). A large majority of her rural clients and patients are Alaska Native / First Nation / Native American. As I see from being Facebook friends with her, her services are in high demand — she gets a lot of inquiries about upcoming visits. A while ago, in a cafe, I was overhearing a conversation at the next table, where another (former) neighbour of mine — who is Native and also works in health care — was sitting (she hadn’t noticed me). I didn’t mean to listen in, but well, Carla’s name was mentioned, my brain latched on to the conversation for a few seconds, and her voice was carrying over to me. What she said is something like this “Yes, get Carla – she’s great. I first met her when HR organised one of their training sessions. I was annoyed at first. I thought, there we go, yet another white woman who’s going to come and tell us how to talk to Natives. But when she did her thing I thought she REALLY gets it! Even I learnt something!”

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Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 7:29 pm

merian: “It’s a particularly dubious pleasure to see a group of (mostly) men trying to get a handle on how to tell a woman from a transgendered person by judicious inspection of body parts.”

Why do you always do this, merian?

I’ve been arguing that body parts are not the important, defining thing, and that there is no need for “judicious inspection.” So has Basil. ZM, on the other hand — a woman — *has* been arguing that body parts are important.

How did you reverse this? Is this like how my argument from history became “decontextualized”, and how when I wrote that I thought it was very important that people shouldn’t be killed, that was nihilism? Are you getting all of these things exactly backwards in order to annoy people, or is it some kind of problem?

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merian 10.15.16 at 7:53 pm

Rich Puchalsky: And this is at least the second or third time that you have turned a critical judgement of mine about the collective product of a group conversation into an attack on your individual contribution. I just went back and quickly read your bits: You make some excellent counter-arguments to the essentialist view. I largely agree with you. You did, however, apparently find a legitimate benefit in letting the discussion move into this corner, while I don’t at all see how it contributes to where it started out with (“who can speak with authority or make prescriptive statements about feminism” or something along these lines). I like your stuff here! I don’t like the use to which it is put.

Also, I don’t even know the sex of several commenters (and some others are only extrapolations from names; for all I know, engels is a woman…). All that I rely on is that it clearly isn’t an in-community conversation (between women, or between feminists). Not that those are less contentious, ha!

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Val 10.15.16 at 8:12 pm

Just for the record, again, I didn’t make “anti-Semitic” remarks. I got angry because Rich continually accused me of doing so, and I’ve apologised for my anger, but I didn’t actually make anti-Semitic remarks, at any time. Can I ask you again, Rich, I’ve apologised for getting angry, now can you please stop accusing me of doing something I haven’t done.

Also on the essentialism thing, as I said, I think that you are thinking of “the social” and “the biological” as a dichotomy but they’re not. Try thinking socioecologically of people as having individual subjectivities but still being part of an ecosystem.

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merian 10.15.16 at 8:18 pm

(Oh, and I don’t think I’ve ever in the least minimised an argument by Rich Puchalsky that was based on “It is important that people shouldn’t get killed.” I, too, consider avoiding to kill people of the highest importance. I may have expressed doubt that someone’s preferred approach to killing fewer people would indeed kill fewer people than some other approach, though I don’t remember a conversation with Rich P. having strayed there.)

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Yan 10.15.16 at 8:25 pm

engels @265,
“if you unpacked this sympathetically it could be the bones of an argument for what’s wrong with the Krugman/Vox approach to Trump”

Agreed. I prefaced the bit you quoted with “perhaps to a fault…” But it should have been “certainly and often to a fault…”

In the end, I doubt the sides are that far apart: the lesson is that we should all exercise a bit of extra care and sensitivity, even a degree of deference, when critically engaging a topic that is deeply bound up with an identity and experiences we don’t share.

The disagreement is how far that deference goes and how it is is most fruitfully practiced. I fear, like some here, that it can take an unfruitful form of refusing to accept calls for self critical reflection. And I find it not surprising but worth remarking that we tend to carefully respect epistemic privelege only for identities that are our own or advantageous to or allied with our own, as class-splaining illustrates.

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J-D 10.15.16 at 8:34 pm

ZM 10.15.16 at 4:46 pm
I don’t think its the body that is the thing, its the history. They have an experience of being a transgender person, not an experience of being a girl and then a woman. Their experience isn’t the same as a woman who identifies with her body, they had an experience of being male and not identifying with their body. Its a different experience.

When you write ‘they had an experience of being male and not identifying with their body’, you are prescribing how other people’s experience and identity should be defined. Please don’t do that. It is possible to observe that cisgender people and transgender people have different experiences without trying to dictate how other people should understand their own experiences and identities.

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J-D 10.15.16 at 8:43 pm

ZM 10.15.16 at 10:27 am
1. I don’t object to people being prescriptive in general and in toto, I think its okay that people make prescriptive arguments

2. I think group identity and boundaries are important in some cases in deciding whether making prescriptive arguments is appropriate

3. Feminism is about women, women’s rights, the advancement of women, women’s issues etc.

4. Women are thereby entitled to make prescriptive arguments about feminism

5. Men are not entitled to make prescriptive arguments to women about feminism (maybe with an emergency clause, like if all the women suddenly decide on eating squirrels for feminism like they are in the some Zombie feminist squirrel eating cult, then men might try to stop them with prescriptive arguments, although I doubt rational argument will do any good)

Why do you think that it is ever okay for people to make prescriptive arguments?

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Anarcissie 10.15.16 at 8:45 pm

Rich Puchalsky 10.15.16 at 1:21 pm @ 222

Anarcissie: “Maybe the idea of essentialism and what may be wrong with it needs to be discussed, since it seems to be so popular (not just around here; and often, in disguised forms).”

Here’s what ZM wrote: “it is not that difficult to work out if someone is a woman actually. There are body parts that differ between men and women and these can be used to identify members in this “epistemically privileged” category of women.”

So according to this theory, you just check someone’s body parts.

That’s not necessarily essentialism. Most societies treat people differently according to their body parts.

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merian 10.15.16 at 9:08 pm

I very much doubt that there’s a magical formula that can account for both, the fact that our experiences of our identity are embodied, and the fact that there are probably more edge cases and ambiguous situations than uncontroversial archetypical pure forms. At least not a formula that can be formulated in something shorter than book form. Intersex people, late-diagnosed people who stretch the distinction between “just her personality” and “autism”, people with albinism in sub-Saharan Africa, mixed-race people, gender-queer people, the whole thorny mess that is the topic of passing…

In the end, pragmatically, I’m with Yan: “the lesson is that we should all exercise a bit of extra care and sensitivity, even a degree of deference, when critically engaging a topic that is deeply bound up with an identity and experiences we don’t share.”

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Lupita 10.15.16 at 9:10 pm

Val: Try thinking socioecologically of people as having individual subjectivities but still being part of an ecosystem.

Merian: it’s a bit like thinking that an extended education system only benefits the students who graduate from the new and more advanced tracks, while completely neglecting the ecosystem impact

Why do you use the word “ecosystem” in reference to society? Of course society is composed of biological beings, but supplanting the common word with a new (technical, academic) one seems Orwellian to me in the sense that it buries the concepts of society, social, and socialism. It’s like extreme individualism that does not recognize the social aspect of humans. It is the vocabulary one would expect from neoliberals.

281

basil 10.15.16 at 9:38 pm

Thank you Yan. Those are words to live by.

It should go without saying that anarchists aren’t trying to lead any movement. But I watch how these jousts play out, and it’s never clear what motivates participants into bad faith interpretations or taking pot shots at each other.

A friend was visiting in Chiapas, and returned with these stories about group strategies to ensure no one at Zapatista meetings spoke too much, or took up too much collective space and time. This, they said, wasn’t so much about content as about discouraging charismatics from dominating meetings and building up followings.

I should go back to lurking now. Thank you everyone for your time.

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LFC 10.15.16 at 9:48 pm

@kidneystones
@180 I’m extremely grateful, btw, to see you gaming out how the US plays chicken with the Russians who ‘back down’ as a ‘reason to vote for Hillary.’

I’m ungrateful to see you misreading what I wrote.

@RichP
in case a clarification is needed (hard to tell sometimes given yr responses), what I meant by ‘the question might have become moot’ is that the question of policy re Aleppo will have become moot if all of it has fallen to the govt forces by Jan. ’17. If all of it hasn’t fallen to the govt forces by Jan ’17, then the question will not be moot.

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LFC 10.15.16 at 10:16 pm

Peter T @185
a contest between the two current major streams of political thought in the Islamic Middle East. Iraqi and Lebanese Shi’a militias are active in support of the regime in Damascus, as are Sunni Palestinian ones and the Druze. Christian and Yezidi groups and Kurdish nationalists have lined up behind both Baghdad and Damascus. One the other side is a loose grouping of Salafi Islamists – ISIS, an-Nusra, the many groups under the FSA umbrella.

Peter, I find this less clear than it might be. What are, according to you, the two major streams of political thought in the Islamic ME? Salafi Islamism versus what? Assad is an Alawite at the head, as I understand it, of an officially secularist Baathist (or quasi-Baathist) regime that doesn’t care much what sects its supporters come from, as long as they prove willing to fight. So what stream of thought does Assad represent, and is it the same stream as his Lebanese Shia and Palestinan Sunni supporters? Not intending to be snarky; it’s a genuine question.

Rebel forces in eastern Aleppo are estimated to be around half al-Qaeda linked Islamists and half local Sunnis. They regularly bombard the western part, as the government does the rebel enclave.

Except the govt is doing it with airplanes and indiscriminate bombing; afaik, the rebels don’t have planes. If they did, they might well be wreaking equal and equally indiscriminate damage on the govt side of the city, but they don’t have planes so the mil. situation is skewed, not balanced or even close to it, and as a result the harm to civilians on the two sides must also be disproportionate.

The government has opened seven exit corridors for civilians to leave, and repeatedly offered the rebels evacuation to other areas … The latest news is that the rebels are reported to have mined the exits to prevent civilians leaving.

Hadn’t heard that, but I haven’t been following it nearly as closely as you. What I did hear is that the UN envoy (whose name is escaping me at the moment) offered to personally go to Aleppo and escort the several thousand rebel fighters out of the city, conditional on a suspension of the bombardment. The Assad govt forces rejected the offer. So they might have “repeatedly offered the rebels evacuation to other areas,” but when the UN envoy made a similar evacuation offer, they said no. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rebel forces also rejected the offer, but I’m quite sure I heard that the Assad forces rejected it. This was via a US journalist whose political views I might not share but who, afaik, is not given to spreading mis- or disinformation.

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LFC 10.15.16 at 10:32 pm

RPuchalsky @186
You seem to think ‘humanitarian intervention’ is something that was dreamed up in the late 20th century. In fact it has roots going back much further. The identity of the people on whose behalf intervention has been deemed justified has changed over time (in the C19 it was mostly Balkan and MidEastern Christians threatened by the Ottomans), but the idea of humanitarian intervention is not new. Look, for instance, at chap.3 of M. Finnemore’s 2003 book The Purpose of Intervention: Changing Beliefs About the Use of Force or Gary Bass’s more recent history of humanitarian intervention.

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J-D 10.15.16 at 10:34 pm

ZM 10.15.16 at 3:44 pm
… Rich Puchalsky … was saying that it was difficult to work out what gender or sex someone is in the first place, and for most people most of the time its not difficult at all and you assess dozens of people’s gender while you are walking around or at work or shopping, without any enormous difficulties most of the time.

Yes, people make assessments like that all the time, but it’s not clear to me that you have considered what the error rate of those casual assessments might be, or the possible significance of that error rate.

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J-D 10.15.16 at 10:51 pm

merian 10.15.16 at 7:14 pm
It’s a particularly dubious pleasure to see a group of (mostly) men trying to get a handle on how to tell a woman from a transgendered person by judicious inspection of body parts. I don’t even know where to start (and would recommend a detour via Mr. Google: a ton has been written and discussed about this, from the perspective of actual experience and long-term involvement with this topic area, during this year’s Olympics, for example).

Two comments though.

1.

What would you say about the case of a father asked by his daughter the question ‘What’s feminism, Dad?’

Should he say ‘I don’t know’, or what?

Becoming knowledgeable about feminism, sexism, racism, whatever kind of structural discrimination is relevant in one’s society, is everyone’s job. And it’s not as if feminism benefitted only women (it’s a bit like thinking that an extended education system only benefits the students who graduate from the new and more advanced tracks, while completely neglecting the ecosystem impact, and the public benefit derived from what those students do with the education they received). Occasionally you read a guy pouring hate over feminist for a complaint that is actually about a downside of sexism for him.

Somewhat disturbing, though, is this example: what is it supposed to illuminate for a discussion between adult peers? It is about a parent-child, maybe teacher-pupil relationship. Is anyone here modelling their role here as that of the parent and the rest of us as children?

Since you ask, the reason I chose that particular example is that I have experience both as a child and as a parent, and that both my personal experience and general observations suggest to me that parents are the people who are most often asked to provide explanations of the meanings of words, and most strongly expected to be able to provide them. I could have enlarged on the subject with additional examples and in fact had one formed in my mind at the time.

I didn’t have in mind an example drawn directly from the discussion here, but it would be easy enough for me to construct one now; but given ZM’s response when I asked the question before, I’m not sure how relevant it would be at this point.

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LFC 10.15.16 at 11:05 pm

From a Reuters story of Oct.6

The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting to discuss a new UN proposal to try to stop the bloodletting in Syria’s Aleppo by persuading an Islamic militant group located there to leave.

The proposal to relocate an estimated 900 members of Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate to an unspecified “refuge” outside the city was offered by UN Syrian envoy Steffan de Mistura on October 6, prompting Russia to request the council meeting.

Warning that Russia’s and Syria’s bombardment of areas of eastern Aleppo under the Fatah al-Sham group’s control could “totally destroy” that part of the city by year-end, De Mistura offered to personally escort the group out of the city to a “refuge” of their choosing to prevent further bloodshed.

Russia and Syria have used the designated terrorist group’s presence in the city as justification for their ferocious bombardment, which De Mistura said had killed 376 people in the last two weeks.

“We are talking about 900 people, basically, who are becoming the main reason for which…275,000 people [are] being attacked,” he said.

De Mistura told the Fatah group, formerly known as the Al-Nusra Front: “If you decide to leave with dignity…I am personally ready to physically accompany you.”

The proposal apparently attracted Moscow’s attention because it appears to satisfy one of Russia’s principal stated goals in Syria — separating the designated terrorist groups there from so-called “moderate” rebel groups backed by Western powers.

Nothing came of this, clearly. I’d need to look further (what’s a good day-to-day chronicle of events if one doesn’t want to plow through every edition of NYT? Maybe Joshua Landis’s site?) to find out who rejected the offer: all parties, or only some. (Of course Assad doesn’t recognize the existence of a non-terrorist opposition: to him they’re all ‘terrorists’.)

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LFC 10.15.16 at 11:10 pm

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Val 10.15.16 at 11:28 pm

Lupita @ 278
Technically the justification is that the ecosystem includes human society – human society is part of the ecosystem. But I’ve got no objection to specifying that if it sounds to you as if society is being left out – so it would be ‘try thinking socioecologically of people as having individual subjectivities but being part of a society and an ecosystem’

I thought of saying that actually but was just trying to keep it brief

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likbez 10.16.16 at 3:02 am

Populism is a bad term. It was invented by neoliberals propagandists as a substitute for “social protest”. Wikipedia is especially bad:

Populism is a political ideology that holds that virtuous citizens are mistreated by a small circle of elites, who can be overthrown if the people recognize the danger and work together. Populism depicts elites as trampling on the rights, values, and voice of the legitimate people.[1]

The problem with this definition is the people are always mistreated by the elite. That’s the essence of the elite rule. Only when quantity turns into quality we have a social protest. At this point people wake up to the level of mistreatment and abuse from the elite. While the level of degeneration of the elite prevents emergence of leaders able to cope with the challenges.

Labeling social protest as “populism” is one of dirty neoliberal propaganda tricks.

And cries about “populism” signify the point when the elite loses part or all control on the “peons”. Propaganda and brainwashing suddenly stop working. As happened with neoliberal propaganda and brainwashing now. That signifies troubles for neoliberalism in general (ideology is already dead, but social forces behind it are still strong, so it continues to exist in zombie state) and neoliberal globalization in particular.

Neoliberal political leaders lose the legitimacy in the eyes of substantial strata of people, including the middle class. In other words the situation, which Marxism defines as a “revolutionary situation” arises ( http://www.marxist.com/greece-on-the-brink-of-revolutionary-situation.htm )

In the writings of Lenin and Trotsky, we can find the definition of what is a revolutionary situation. In his book “The failure of the Second International” (1916) Lenin explained:

“What, generally speaking, are the symptoms of a revolutionary situation? We shall certainly not be mistaken if we indicate the following three major symptoms: (1) when it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the “upper classes”, a crisis in the policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes burst forth. For a revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient for “the lower classes not to want” to live in the old way; it is also necessary that “the upper classes should be unable” to live in the old way; (2) when the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual; (3) when, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in “peace time”, but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the “upper classes” themselves into independent historical action.

“…..The totality of all these objective changes is called a revolutionary situation. Such a situation existed in 1905 in Russia, and in all revolutionary periods in the West;…”

Trotsky in 1940, in the Emergency Manifesto explained the necessary conditions for the victory of the proletariat:

“The basic conditions for the victory of the proletarian revolution have been established by historical experience and clarified theoretically: (1) the bourgeois impasse and the resulting confusion of the ruling class; (2) the sharp dissatisfaction and the striving towards decisive changes in the ranks of the petty bourgeoisie, without whose support the big bourgeoisie cannot maintain itself; (3) the consciousness of the intolerable situation and readiness for revolutionary actions in the ranks of the proletariat; (4) a clear program and a firm leadership of the proletarian vanguard—these are the four conditions for the victory of the proletarian revolution.” (Manifesto of the Fourth International on Imperialist War and the Imperialist War).

Also, at this point, the neoliberal elite itself became discredited. Attitude to Hillary is a clear indication that this is happening in the USA. People mostly despise her.

From guardian comments ( https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/13/birth-of-populism-donald-trump?CMP=fb_us )

sniffmysmellysocks

‘Populism’ is a term used by the neoliberal elite to describe democracy as seen recently in the Brexit referendum.

Oldfranky

A very simple way to explain popularism:- A rise against the perceived norms in politics. In the case of the UK , a vote against the smug over confident career Oxbridge politician, who has not a clue of real life…

Earl_Grey

Call it what you want, but agree, the People are starting to wake up to the fact that they are being screwed. That can only mean one thing, time the Rich start a war that is big enough to distract the People and send a lot of them off to fight in it…

GodfreyRich

The metropolitan establishment have brought this on themselves by ignoring the interests of the British working class and by promoting multiculturalism over traditional British values.

MrHumbug

As I recall, F.D. Roosevelt was also widely branded as a “populist.” Populism is always a movement against the ruling elites on behalf of downtrodden and ignored majority. It is only incidental that modern populism has a “right wing” in aspect, for most of modern history it was decidedly left-leaning since the ruling paradigm of the elite was traditionally of the right variety.

And besides, I consider the whole left/right dichotomy completely out of date and useless in 21st century. We need new terms.

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merian 10.16.16 at 4:15 am

Lupita #278:

Why do you use the word “ecosystem” in reference to society? Of course society is composed of biological beings, but supplanting the common word with a new (technical, academic) one seems Orwellian to me in the sense that it buries the concepts of society, social, and socialism. It’s like extreme individualism that does not recognize the social aspect of humans. It is the vocabulary one would expect from neoliberals.

Because my own work touches on both certain kinds of natural hazards (a technical term — not necessarily of all-natural origin, in the sense that opposes human to natural causes) and climate change, and the term “ecosystem impacts” is in the proximal zone of my active vocabulary, and I was angling for a term that talks more about systemic effects than the spongy “societal”. (Also, secondarily, because by using a term that is manifestly outside the accepted jargon of the academic fields at issue here I signal that I am not speaking as an authority.)

What I mean is systemic repercussions: more schooling –> more jobs in schools (or building schools or otherwise in the periphery), which hopefully offer relatively desirable (compared to other jobs) conditions; more need for advanced courses –> more need for teachers who are able to teach these advanced course –> possibly higher attractiveness of the teaching profession (compared to, say, marketing or other jobs whose raison d’être is to make very rich people even richer; more advanced teaching –> more people who subscribe to a culture that values learning, maybe more informed decisions, whatever.

Obviously, a cartoon version of a real system, quite a lot like an ecologist would describe the processes that go on in an ecosystem. Group effects, system effects, cultural effects. I’d quite strongly challenge your notion that this is about “extreme individualism”.

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J-D 10.16.16 at 4:44 am

likbez 10.16.16 at 3:02 am
Populism is a bad term. It was invented by neoliberals propagandists as a substitute for “social protest”.

I doubt that assertion can be reconciled with the fact that ‘Populist’ was used as an alternative name for the People’s Party of America from its foundation in the 1890s. Obviously it now has a broader range of meanings than simply referring to that particular (no longer extant) political party, but that does seem to be how it originated.

293

J-D 10.16.16 at 4:49 am

And besides, I consider the whole left/right dichotomy completely out of date and useless in 21st century. We need new terms.

To use the expression ‘out of date’ and to refer to a need for new terms implies a contrast between the present and some earlier period; but it’s a false contrast. When the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ were first used as political descriptions, they were useful for some purposes and useless for others (for which other terms were needed). They are still useful for the same purposes for which they were originally useful; they are still useless (and other terms are still needed) for the same purposes for which they were always useless. There’s been no change over time of the kind suggested.

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ZM 10.16.16 at 5:14 am

basil,

“I regret that I made you feel violated. I hope that on reflection you’ll see that I’ve the same prescription for all sorts of hierarchies, not just this gender one.”

You have not made me feel “violated” by the statement that you think my comments you disagree with support your wish to abolish gender.

I was simply pointing out to you that wanting to abolish gender is an act of *violence*.

You seem to be a pretty recent or else rare commenter, and no I haven’t seen you have made the prescription to abolish “all sorts of hierarchies”.

I don’t consider being a woman makes someone a lesser person than a man.

I don’t agree gender difference is necessarily hierarchical.

And I wish to keep my female gender thank you, and I do not want being a woman abolished for me or for anyone else, unless they are a woman who wants to be a man, then they can be F-M transgender and its fine with me, and if they are a woman and want to be androgynous they can do that too and its fine with me as well.

“Perhaps it isn’t clear that gender functions to create a hierarchy, but it does give some this privilege of fitting into the norm, while punishing those who can’t or won’t conform.”

Being a woman you have quite a bit of flexibility with gender these days. Male gender norms are less flexible in my opinion than female ones.

I definitely do not support treating people badly if they don’t conform to gender norms, and I never said I did.

” What you wrote above comes across as rather unkind to people who wouldn’t choose as easily as you make out.”

I was not being unkind to anyone, the discussion was about why I think men don’t get to make prescriptive statements about what feminism is to women.

And now I just get lots of male commenters making prescriptive statements to me about feminism :-(

“I hope you can see that they are harmed by a world in which they are restricted to this binary, and why it might be attractive to rid ourselves of the edifice entirely.”

What do you propose doing with all the transgender men who want to be women or transgender women who want to be men?

Tell them they can’t be women or men since you want there to be no such thing as women or men at all?

Hardly anyone wants to abolish gender, most people either are happy with gender, want flexibility in terms of performing gender norms, or they want to be the opposite gender.

Your idea to abolish gender all together wouldn’t suit 99% of people I bet, and its violent to abolish something that most people don’t want to abolish.

For the <1% of people who don't want to be any gender, they can be androgynous, I think that's fine.

Do you live as an androgynous person in keeping with your ideas or are you just trying to annoy me by saying women shouldn't exist?

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ZM 10.16.16 at 5:37 am

Rich Puchalsky,

“Perhaps we can have a serious scholar of feminism chip in at this point and ask whether you’ve experienced your entire life through a female body because that’s what you’ve been taught to think your whole life about the gender binary and that’s how people have treated you, or whether your experience is really directly constructed by your body parts.”

I have taken university subjects with “serious scholar[s] of feminism”. I am not uneducated about what I am saying which is what you are implying.

I have told you more than once now that The Body is an important site of feminist scholarship since post-structuralism.

In academic scholarship you often find a distinction being made between sex and gender.

Your *sex* is the male or female (or intersex) biological form a person and their body has, and *gender* is the cultural side of sex, masculinity and femininity etc.

But it is not a matter for argument whether or not I have experienced my life through a female body — my sex is female and my body is female, I had a young female child’s body then I started developing breasts and menstruating when I was about 12 and over my teenage years my body became a woman’s body.

This fact is not up for argument, unless you think I am pretending to be a woman while I am actually a man.

I don’t identify as gender queer, but on the other hand I certainly do not meet all stereotypes about femininity either.

“You might want to read this article about TERFs. I am not saying that I think that anyone here is a TERF, or that I agree with much of this article. But it might serve to introduce certain concepts that make this more than merely a male thing about men’s experience being the normal experience — something that I don’t think I have ever written.”

I already know about this issue. You are welcome to bring it up, but you are implying I am not aware of the issue already.

I am not a trans-exclusionary radical feminist at all. I am not a radical feminist at all. I am not trans-exclusionary. I already have said I am fine with male to female transgender people being in the feminist space as women, with the simple condition that they acknowledge their transgender experience, which I don’t see as onerous or unfair. And I said that this condition is just for academic sort of discussions, not discussions about being harassed on busses or something.

Some feminists do not welcome transgender people into the feminist space as women, saying that they are biologically men and will always be men, but that doesn’t reflect my opinions and I don’t agree with it.

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ZM 10.16.16 at 5:49 am

merian,

“It’s a particularly dubious pleasure to see a group of (mostly) men trying to get a handle on how to tell a woman from a transgendered person by judicious inspection of body parts.”

I hope its clear I meant that you can tell what gender a person is without much difficulty simply by looking at people, not even staring or anything. I don’t know what’s so difficult about this.

You can usually tell if someone is gender queer or transgender by looking too, since gender queer has particular styles of dress and hair etc, and transgender people often have the facial bone structure or height etc of the original biological sex and the dress and hair of the gender they identify as. But of course this is very rude to bring up with total strangers in conversation unless they want to talk about it with you in some way.

In some ways gender is a very personal topic but people usually embody gender in their body and dress etc in public as well.

297

ZM 10.16.16 at 6:01 am

J-D,

“When you write ‘they had an experience of being male and not identifying with their body’, you are prescribing how other people’s experience and identity should be defined. Please don’t do that.”

Okay — then tell me how is someone transgender at all if they do identify with the gender of the sex of their body?

Aren’t they just a person who has a male body and identifies as a man then? Or a person who has a female body and identifies as a woman? This isn’t transgender.

Being transgender is someone who does not identify with the sex of the gender of their body and instead identifies with the opposite gender — eg. someone who has a male body and identities with the female gender, or someone who has a female body and identifies with the male gender.

That is what the term transgender means.

“It is possible to observe that cisgender people and transgender people have different experiences without trying to dictate how other people should understand their own experiences and identities.”

I am not dictating to anyone how they understand being transgender.

I just said that transgender people wanting to be accepted as women in the feminist space should acknowledge their transgender experience in academic sort of discussions, not discussions about being harassed on busses or something.

I really think that male commenters are using transgender people rhetorically for their own purposes here actually guys!

298

merian 10.16.16 at 6:51 am

ZM @294:

I hope its clear I meant that you can tell what gender a person is without much difficulty simply by looking at people, not even staring or anything. I don’t know what’s so difficult about this.

You can usually tell if someone is gender queer or transgender by looking too, since gender queer has particular styles of dress and hair etc, and transgender people often have the facial bone structure or height etc of the original biological sex and the dress and hair of the gender they identify as.

The problem with words like “usually” is the cases that aren’t covered. Even at small numbers they make a difference. Last year, I was at a small conference (mostly frequented by scientific data standards and distribution people, a few hundred of them at the event), and made into two new-to-me contacts for whom my first choice of pronoun would have been “they”: I couldn’t tell if they were male or female, or neither; of course, neither of them might have considered themselves as genderqueer or trans either. And at the scale of groups humans typically come in, even 1% or half a % or a tenth of a % is a heck of a lot of people.

And I mentioned the exceedingly thorny issue of passing, didn’t I?

So from my own acquaintances… there are maybe 15-20 trans* people. All but one, maybe two, would not blip on most people’s radar as trans. Post-transition trans men tend to pass extremely well. Pre-transition trans-anything are usually not in the least visually distinguishable from non-trans people. Then there’s a co-worker of mine, as far as I know a straight woman, married to a man, two children. She has an athletic, pretty androgynous body type, wears her hair short. She found herself addressed as “Sir” even when she was 9 months pregnant. (It’s not comprehensible for me, but there you go… ) Many many gender-queer people don’t ping the out-of-the-ordinary meter, though some do. OTOH, some who do are actually not queer at all, but just have a flamboyant style. Eddie Izzard, who wears dresses and refers to himself as a transvestite is straight (or maybe a “lesbian trapped in a male body”). He’s somewhere on the queer spectrum, probably, but it’s probably a lot less important to who he is than people would think from looking at him. (I’m ok with calling him straight, cis, if he is!) Me, I ping some people’s gaydar, though usually these are people who are reasonably clued in. No makeup, short hair (though not in a male-marked cut), jeans-and-shirt style … I could be anything, straight, a dyke, non-binary, even trans. There are a lot of butch lesbians who don’t go by gender-queer in the least and lay claim to the “woman” descriptor; others who look just like the first group but lean the opposite side on the gender-queer question (some of them over time found themselves drifting towards being trans men, though these days young people at least in the US tend to be faster to get to that point); yet another group of woman also looks just like that, and they’re straight and may be aghast at being mistaken for GLBT.

In other acquaintances, there’s a black man — technically mixed race, but all his siblings and both parents pass as and have always considered themselves as black — who just by dint of the genetic lottery passes as white. He’s been quite eloquent about his in-community situation, which is absolutely legitimate, yet requires defending because of his looks. Or the white woman with long, straight hair who keeps being pigeonholed as Asian.

So, no. Sure, we take cues from outward signals, but those cues are very frequently just as wrong as drawing conclusions about someone’s education and/or cultural interests from an inspection of their clothes and roughness of their hands.

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J-D 10.16.16 at 7:11 am

I think different transgender people describe their experience differently. I don’t think it’s the case that they all describe their experience by saying ‘I had the experience of being male and not identifying with my body’ or ‘I had the experience of being female and not identifying with my body’. If, for example, some people prefer to describe their experience by saying ‘I do not identify with the gender I was assigned at birth’, that preference should be respected.

ZM 10.16.16 at 5:49 am
merian,

“It’s a particularly dubious pleasure to see a group of (mostly) men trying to get a handle on how to tell a woman from a transgendered person by judicious inspection of body parts.”

I hope its clear I meant that you can tell what gender a person is without much difficulty simply by looking at people, not even staring or anything. I don’t know what’s so difficult about this.

As you are repeating this, I will take the liberty of repeating my response:

Yes, people make assessments like that all the time, but it’s not clear to me that you have considered what the error rate of those casual assessments might be, or the possible significance of that error rate.

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merian 10.16.16 at 7:19 am

I completely agree with J-D, including on the ways trans people in my experience describe what it means to them to be trans.

Also, the discourse has moved on over the last 20 years. In the late 90s, there was a lot more talk about FTM vs MTF, the word transsexual was in greater use, and whether one is post-op or pre-op was also considered of more salience. Overall, where I hang out, there’s appears to be a lot more acceptance of gender diversity as a fact of being a human being rather than a medical problem with one and only one correct solution.

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Peter T 10.16.16 at 10:50 am

LFC @282

On Aleppo – a trawl through various info sources turned up Putin supporting the UN offer for rebels to leave east Aleppo (10 Oct, press conference Putin & Erdogan) and two reports of the rebels rejecting the offer. No-one seems to know the exact make-up of rebel factions in the east, but an-Nusra and al-Zenki (both strongly Islamist) seem to be the core. Estimates of the civilian population left there vary widely too – from 30,000 up to 270,000. Lower end is more plausible, IMO.

The two broad currents referred to @ 185 are, on the one hand, various forms of traditional or modernising Islam (admittedly a wide spectrum) and, on the other, what might be called “absolutist” Islam. This latter is more radical than reactionary and, at its core, aims at total conformity to a very simple form of the religion. ISIS is at the one end of this current, but it takes in al-Qaeda, Wahhabism and a few movements in South-east Asia. Best described as a rejection of all complicated explanations.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.16.16 at 11:16 am

ZM: “I really think that male commenters are using transgender people rhetorically for their own purposes here actually guys!”

Well, why do you think that feminism as a whole is so concerned with these issues right now? That’s why I linked to the article about TERFs. Why is this a bubbling controversy *within feminism*, including the whole Women’s Studies-to-Gender Studies academic thing? Is it because men are using transgender people rhetorically for their own purposes?

I think that the entire argument that you’re making (and that Val is making, although hers is bit complicated by the history-and-ecology thing) is wrong, because your premises are wrong. I’m trying to get people to recognize that it’s the same argument as was made earlier about Jewishness, or that merian mentioned with “passing” in the context of the African-American community. It’s about the essential definition of categories by physical characteristics rather than by social experience.

Now of course the next step after “you men are using transgender people rhetorically for own purposes” is “you’re mansplaining feminism”, “you’re trying to say that men should lead feminism” etc. So I’ll go back to Jewishness again instead. Do any of the people who I’ve mentioned this to so many times now even understand why, when I write “Jews have experience with being religiously discriminated against”, the question doesn’t hinge on whether Jews are white or not?

Val has repeatedly offered to discuss whether Jews are white. The last time this came up the idea of checking out my skin color came up — judicious examination of my body parts. The whole thing was *after* the whole Corey Robin doesn’t get it thing and probably about one post after Corey Robin wrote about Hannah Arendt. We’ve now progressed to the stage where maybe people are sort of vaguely figuring out that they did something wrong, in a mechanical you’re-supposed-to-listen fashion. But have they figured out *why* it wrong? Or that this follows from their premises?

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ZM 10.16.16 at 11:36 am

merian,

“The problem with words like “usually” is the cases that aren’t covered. Even at small numbers they make a difference. …. And at the scale of groups humans typically come in, even 1% or half a % or a tenth of a % is a heck of a lot of people.
And I mentioned the exceedingly thorny issue of passing, didn’t I?

So, no. Sure, we take cues from outward signals, but those cues are very frequently just as wrong as drawing conclusions about someone’s education and/or cultural interests from an inspection of their clothes and roughness of their hands.”

A small percentage is a lot if you count the entire population, but it is a small number of people you personally talk to every year or something.

I said that it wasn’t difficult to work out who was a woman since Rich Puchalsky said it was, and I find it is not difficult the vast majority of the time, just by looking at people.

You can also talk to people if you want to know what gender they are, although I think it would be impolite asking everyone I talked to who I thought might be transgender or gender queer if they were. They could bring it up in conversation if they wanted to, I might ask if the conversation drifts around that way and I wouldn’t seem like a nosey parker.

I don’t think gender is nearly as difficult to work out as education or cultural interests just by looking at someone. Its pretty simple most of the time due to someone’s physical body and also due to someone’s choice in dress and hair and makeup or tattoos etc.

I think its significantly more difficult working out someone’s education or cultural interests just by looking at them.

And my point was that men shouldn’t prescribe what feminism is to women, and people have just brought up transgender and gender queer issues as if those issues mean that men should be able to prescribe what feminism is to women.

I don’t see how it logically follows at all.

And most of the time it is not difficult working out if someone is a woman or not, and just because occasionally it is difficult, it doesn’t mean men should be able to prescribe what feminism is to women either.

That doesn’t logically follow either.

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ZM 10.16.16 at 12:10 pm

J-D,

“If, for example, some people prefer to describe their experience by saying ‘I do not identify with the gender I was assigned at birth’, that preference should be respected.”

But they got assigned the gender at birth because of their body didn’t they?

So if they don’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth , they don’t identify with the gender that correlated to the sex of their body.

How is what you said any different from what I said?

Anyhow I am sure I shouldn’t make prescriptive argument about transgender issues, all I said was if transgender women are having academic discussions of feminism with me I would like them to acknowledge their transgender experience.

I can’t work out how they can identify with the gender of the sex of their body and be transgender, but you aren’t transgender anyhow and probably just made this up off the top of your head, and if someone transgender wants to argue something like that I would listen to them, but I am not going to listen to you just arguing about it for rhetorical purposes with me since you are not transgender.

“Yes, people make assessments like that all the time, but it’s not clear to me that you have considered what the error rate of those casual assessments might be, or the possible significance of that error rate.”

Yes in my lifetime I have considered this actually, you can try to be sensitive and polite to people, try to be as discerning as you are able, and try not to rush to make judgements about people and accidentally offend them by mistaking their gender, and say sorry if you do make a mistake.

Merian,

“there’s appears to be a lot more acceptance of gender diversity as a fact of being a human being rather than a medical problem with one and only one correct solution.”

I didn’t say there was one and only one correct solution. I didn’t say anything at all about not accepting gender diversity. All I said was that men shouldn’t prescribe what feminism is to women, and that its actually not that difficult — most of the time! — to work out who is a woman when Rich Puchalsky decided to argue it was very difficult to know who was a woman.

Rich Puchalsky,

“Well, why do you think that feminism as a whole is so concerned with these issues right now? That’s why I linked to the article about TERFs.”

Yes recognition or non-recognition of transgender women as women is an issue in feminism — but you just brought it up here since you don’t have any good arguments about why men shouldn’t prescribe what feminism is to women.

I didn’t say MTF transgender women shouldn’t make prescriptive arguments about feminism, and in fact as soon as it was brought up I said I think its fine for transgender women to make prescriptive argument about feminism, though in the context of an academic discussion I would like them to acknowledge being transgender.

“I’m trying to get people to recognize that it’s the same argument as was made earlier about Jewishness … It’s about the essential definition of categories by physical characteristics rather than by social experience.”

Technically I am Jewish too actually since it passes down the mother’s line.

I have no social experience of being Jewish since my maternal grandmother was Presbyterian and I think guess her mother must have converted or something, but I think I could be Jewish if I wanted to due to my background.

I am pretty sure this is how Judaism is decided — if it passes down the mother’s line. Its really onerous to become Jewish if you have no Jewish background although I think there is some way people can convert.

I don’t think you can convert to being ethnically African at all although you could marry someone African. In Australia the Indigenous people adopt people into their society, maybe African people do this sometimes?

You have brought up a very interesting argument, but it doesn’t have much to do with my argument that men shouldn’t prescribe what feminism is to women.

“Do any of the people who I’ve mentioned this to so many times now even understand why, when I write “Jews have experience with being religiously discriminated against”, the question doesn’t hinge on whether Jews are white or not?”

I don’t understand what question is hinging on something?

Jewish people were discriminated against for their religion, culture, and sometimes also for not being European since they come from the Middle East originally.

“Val has repeatedly offered to discuss whether Jews are white. The last time this came up the idea of checking out my skin color came up — judicious examination of my body parts. The whole thing was *after* the whole Corey Robin doesn’t get it thing and probably about one post after Corey Robin wrote about Hannah Arendt.”

But this doesn’t have anything to do with me, and I can hardly even remember that argument you and Val had by now.

305

Val 10.16.16 at 12:21 pm

Rich, I don’t want to endlessly rehash this, but just to clarify – the context of my expression of support re the ‘white guys’ issue, was in relation to two people who had specifically been talking about their feelings about Trump, as people of colour (they were specifically talking about being ‘brown’, ‘black’ etc) and/or Muslim. I agreed with them that their views weren’t being sufficiently acknowledged.. That’s the context of being ‘white’ in that case – ie not being a person of colour or Muslim.

Of course it is reasonable for you to discuss the question of whether Jews are ‘white’ – particularly in relation to Trump who clearly draws on anti-Semitic tropes and allies himself with anti-Semitic groups- but that was a particular context and you were being included only as a putative member of a group of commenters who were not people of colour or Muslim, and did not seem to recognise the validity of their concerns.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.16.16 at 12:23 pm

Val :”Of course it is reasonable for you to discuss the question of whether Jews are ‘white’ – particularly in relation to Trump who clearly draws on anti-Semitic tropes and allies himself with anti-Semitic groups- but that was a particular context and you were being included only as a putative member of a group of commenters who were not people of colour or Muslim, and did not seem to recognise the validity of their concerns.”

I give up.

307

bruce wilder 10.16.16 at 12:43 pm

LFC: We do have Bruce Wilder mocking the notion that the Russians hacked into the DNC email. Cyber specialists think it was the Russians to a 90 percent certainty, but of course Wilder knows better. Anyway, who cares whether the Russians hacked the ******* email?

Most establishment news reporting has taken note that no evidence has been offered by the U.S. officials making the attribution. Clearly, someone thinks it matters, because the attribution is being made. I doubt that getting hold of Podesta’s email password required the mysterious skillz of Russian super hackers, but sure ymmv. Why does the NSA spend billions and billions again? I mock because it is impossible to make sense of any of it.

LFC: I’m more concerned w the fact that Russian planes are deliberately blowing up hospitals and civilians.

Yes, apparently, you think that the U.S. should be in there blowing up hospitals and civilians instead. The Russians just cannot handle the job, while the U.S. has its Afganistan and Iraq training and experience in bringing an end to those horrific civil wars in a few short Friedman units. Proven expertise!

Oh, I’m so sorry I mocked you again, didn’t I?

The history of humanitarian intervention is long and glorious. Only just last week, America’s great and good ally, the Saudi monarchy, was blowing up a funeral in Yemen with American munitions, killing over 100. But, I indulge in irrelevancies, the better to mock you.

Follow events in Syria day by day if you like, but don’t pretend you are a humanitarian cheering for the underdog rather than a voyeur entertained by mass tragedy.

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Val 10.16.16 at 12:45 pm

Ok put it this way – two years ago I stayed with my friend in Kenya. Like me, she’s a middle class professional who works in health and community area. She’s also Jewish.

If a Kenyan had referred to us both as ‘white’, should she object?

309

LFC 10.16.16 at 12:57 pm

B Wilder
The history of humanitarian intervention is long and glorious. Only just last week, America’s great and good ally, the Saudi monarchy, was blowing up a funeral in Yemen with American munitions, killing over 100.

I specifically criticized U.S. support for S.A. in Yemen in the same comment you are (ostensibly) replying to. S.A. in Yemen is obvs. not h.i., and I didn’t say the history of h.i. is “glorious.”

The rest is not even worth a response.

310

Rich Puchalsky 10.16.16 at 1:30 pm

BW: “I mock because it is impossible to make sense of any of it.”

It’s absurd. People haven’t internalized what I’ve been writing about the power of futility yet, but I think they’re going to within the next few years. Is there any way to take “the Russians committed an act of war against us by revealing information, and you should believe this based on evidence that hasn’t been presented to anyone” seriously? I mean, people pretty much have to take its effects seriously.

311

ZM 10.16.16 at 2:05 pm

“If a Kenyan had referred to us both as ‘white’, should she object?”

I think she could explain she was Jewish, and the history of discrimination against Jewish people if that was the topic of discussion. If the discussion was about getting sunburnt or something and a Kenyan said you were both white then being Jewish would probably be irrelevant to mention.

I can’t really remember what Rich Puchalsky’s position was re: Donald Trump and racism, but I think if Trump was making the sorts of claims about Jewish people he was making against Middle Eastern or Muslim people then that would have been a huge scandal at least as damaging as the sexual harassment comments.

312

likbez 10.16.16 at 2:43 pm

@305
bruce wilder 10.16.16 at 12:43 pm

LFC: We do have Bruce Wilder mocking the notion that the Russians hacked into the DNC email. Cyber specialists think it was the Russians to a 90 percent certainty, but of course Wilder knows better. Anyway, who cares whether the Russians hacked the ******* email?

Most establishment news reporting has taken note that no evidence has been offered by the U.S. officials making the attribution.

It looks like LFC is completely clueless about such notion as Occam’s razor.
Why we need all those insinuations about Russian hackers when we know that all email boxes in major Web mail providers are just a click away from NSA analysts.

Why Russians and not something like “Snowden II”.

And what exactly Russians will get politically by torpedoing Hillary candidacy. They probably have tons of “compromat” on her, Bill and Clinton Foundation. Trump stance on Iran is no less dangerous and jingoistic then Hillary stance on Syria. Aggressive protectionism might hurt Russian exports. And as for Syria, Trump can turn on a dime and became a second John McCain anytime. Other then his idea of avoiding foreign military presence (or more correctly that allies should pay for it) and anti-globalization stance he does not have a fixed set of policies at all.

Also you can elect a dog as POTUS and foreign policy will be still be the same as it is now controlled by “deep state” ( http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/the-deep-state/ ):

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude.

In view of all this, LFC anti-Russian stance looks extremely naïve and/or represents displaced anti-Semitism.

313

likbez 10.16.16 at 4:18 pm

In a way Hillary laments about Russia interference are what is typically called “The pot calling the kettle black” as she is exactly the specialist in this area. BTW there is a documented history of the US interference into Russian elections of 2011-2012.

In which Hillary (via ambassador McFaul and the net of NGOs) was trying to stage a “color revolution” (nicknamed “white revolution”) in Russia and prevent the re-election of Putin. The main instrument was claiming the fraud in ballot counting.

Can you imagine the reaction if Russian ambassador invited Trump and Sanders to the embassy and offered full and unconditional support for their noble cause of dislodging the corrupt neoliberal regime that exists in Washington. With cash injections to breitbart.com, similar sites, and especially organizations that conduct polls after that.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/world/europe/observers-detail-flaws-in-russian-election.html

And RT covered staged revelations of “Hillary campaign corruption” 24 x 7. As was done by Western MSM in regard to Alexei Navalny web site and him personally as the savior of Russia from entrenched corruption ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexei_Navalny )

http://www.rferl.org/a/russia-duma-elections-navalny-pamfilova-resignation/28007404.html

Actually the USA has several organizations explicitly oriented on interference in foreign elections and promotion of “color revolutions”, with functions that partially displaced old functions of CIA (as in Italian elections of 1948). For example, NED.

Why Russia can’t have something similar to help struggling American people to have more honest elections despite all the blatantly undemocratic mechanisms of “first to the post”, primaries, state based counting of votes, and the United States Electoral College ?

It would be really funny if Russians really resorted to color revolution tricks in the current presidential elections :-)

Here is a quote that can navigate them in right direction (note the irony of her words after DNC throw Sanders under the bus ;-)

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/06/world/europe/russian-parliamentary-elections-criticized-by-west.html?_r=0

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sharply criticized what she called “troubling practices” before and during the vote in Russia. “The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted,” she said in Bonn, Germany.

With 99.9 percent of ballots processed, election officials said that United Russia had won 238 seats in Parliament, or about 53 percent, from 315 seats or 70 percent now. The Communist Party won 92 seats; Just Russia, a social democratic party, won 64 seats and the national Liberal Democratic Party won 56 seats.

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bruce wilder 10.16.16 at 4:35 pm

RP: I mean, people pretty much have to take its effects seriously.

Do they? LFC can probably lecture us on our “complete lack of understanding that the world contains moral ambiguities and that not everything is black-and-white and open-and-shut” while hypernormalizing anything with imperative non sequiters.

@ 307, he apparently thinks my use of the Saudi attack in Yemen in my mockery of him is due to a failure of reading comprehension on my part. He thinks he had criticized U.S. support for the Saudi’s war against Yemen, while arguing that American “standing to object . . . when blatant, obvious war crimes are being committed” is unaffected when America itself or American allies commit blatant obvious war crimes. He took the futility express, Rich, and arrived ahead of you, don’t you see? Things are complicated and we must not let our committing blatant obvious war crimes prevent us from acting to intervene where we can stop blatant obvious war crimes with blatant obvious war crimes of our own!

Hopefully, this little addendum to my previous mockery is not even worth a response. What are the chances?

315

LFC 10.16.16 at 4:35 pm

(1) I don’t know who hacked the DNC emails and I don’t care that much, tbh.

(2) In view of all this, LFC anti-Russian stance looks extremely naïve and/or represents displaced anti-Semitism.

“Displaced anti-Semitism”? Are you out of your fucking mind? (No need to answer. The question is rhetorical.)

By the way, likbez, it so happens that Rich Puchalsky and I have one pertinent-in-this-context thing in common. Do you want to guess what it is?

316

LFC 10.16.16 at 4:39 pm

He thinks he had criticized U.S. support for the Saudi’s war against Yemen

I did criticize U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen.

LFC can probably lecture us on our “complete lack of understanding that the world contains moral ambiguities and that not everything is black-and-white and open-and-shut” while hypernormalizing anything with imperative non sequiters [sic].

How do you know I was referring to you, BW?

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LFC 10.16.16 at 4:48 pm

One other thing:
The accusations of anti-Semitism that I’ve seen on this blog lately are bizarre. The commenter RNB, for instance, was accused of anti-Semitism when he had said nothing anti-Semitic. (He might well have committed other violations of the comments policy but he certainly did not commit that one.) Ditto for others. I don’t want to rake this up again but enough is really enough. (And obviously the moderators don’t care or aren’t reading down that far in the threads. Come to think of it, who can blame them?)

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Rich Puchalsky 10.16.16 at 4:59 pm

BW: “Do they?”

Well, I meant that absurd casus belli claims will eventually lead to many more people dying in war, and people have to take that effect seriously. Or, yes, they don’t have to, but they should.

But look at where attempts to address this serious effect seriously lead to. Where they lead the thoughts and actions of serious people to — people who must follow along with the rest of society, because that’s pretty much what the definition of seriousness is once it becomes decoupled from either reason or pragmatic effect. Are you sure that becoming a clownish gradualist anarchist who writes short three act plays is not really the best response? Brecht (and no, none of us have the talent of Brecht) was a product of Weimar, after all.

I’m not writing that people should become politically disengaged — I’ve written far too much about the Occupy movement, which was anarchist inspired, neither revolutionary nor electoral, and was broken by the time-honored methods of police busting things up and arresting anyone who resisted — but it’s freeing not to have to believe in all of that supposed seriousness and to not feel that you have to maintain that system. Embracing your own futility is more realistic than thinking that you are somehow going to get something done individually, and lets you let go of the things that obviously aren’t working. I’m working on something political right now in between CT comments (along with a small group of other people, of course) and the mind-crushing load of having to be in the can for HRC would have made us a lot less productive.

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likbez 10.16.16 at 5:12 pm

@313
“Displaced anti-Semitism”? Are you out of your fucking mind? (No need to answer. The question is rhetorical.)

I am sorry. It is only “extremely naïve” part that applies to you :-)

But in reality it is not so much about being naïve in a regular sense as being blinded by the American exceptionalism. Looks like you are “true believer” in American exceptionalism, which means the USA right to meddle everywhere in the world. And the net result of that is perpetual war for perpetual peace. Does not this reminds you something ?

But as for any “true believer” you are immune to arguments, this is a well know fact from Eric Hoffer book.

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LFC 10.16.16 at 5:14 pm

@BW
You’re assuming that the only way for Y to stop X from doing Z is for Y to do Z itself (thus, in your view, apparently the only way for Y to stop X from bombing hospitals is for Y to bomb hospitals itself). Or else that certain actors are so corrupt they cannot do anything that does not constitute a war crime, by definition. That is, we know a priori that X cannot act without committing war crimes because X is an imperial power bent on maintaining its global hegemony, therefore any employment of any military force in any way by X anywhere necessarily constitutes a war crime, because every aspect of X’s foreign policy is criminal and therefore every act taken by X is criminal.

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LFC 10.16.16 at 5:22 pm

@likbez: I have never written so much as a single word, not even a single syllable, in defense of ‘American exceptionalism’ (and that applies both to online writing under my initials and to the one instance in which I have written online about U.S. foreign policy under my full name).

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merian 10.16.16 at 5:27 pm

ZM, #302, I think:

I said that it wasn’t difficult to work out who was a woman since Rich Puchalsky said it was, and I find it is not difficult the vast majority of the time, just by looking at people.

You can also talk to people if you want to know what gender they are, although I think it would be impolite asking everyone I talked to who I thought might be transgender or gender queer if they were. They could bring it up in conversation if they wanted to, I might ask if the conversation drifts around that way and I wouldn’t seem like a nosey parker.

Way too often it doesn’t work like that for me. And it’s not just the error rate, but also the obliteration of the complexity of experiences of one’s gender and gender expression (which are embodied, social and individual all at the same time).

The term “essentialist” that has been used as a shorthand here doesn’t actually serve us all that well, IMHO, because within feminist thought it has a much more substantial meaning than your line of thinking. What I think it is, though is reductionist.

I didn’t say there was one and only one correct solution. I didn’t say anything at all about not accepting gender diversity.

And I didn’t say you did — I said that these were implied assumptions in how the debate (within groups of women) went about 20 years ago, at within my eyesight. Your way of talking about it would, however, fit into that time’s debate better than into today’s, including your use of obsolescent terms like FTM.

However, to mitigate my disagreement with you, here are two further points:

First, as I said above, I don’t think reducing “woman”, “trans” or “genderqueer” to a social experience rather than to body is going to help either. The whole story about how the sorry TERF issue has been going illustrates that. The argument, cartoon version, goes “because you weren’t born as women, you haven’t been living the life of a woman: you have experienced male privilege while we have experienced oppression. So while it’s fine to be what you are, you aren’t welcome at our women-born-women-only event”. (Well, that’s the polite version — quite often it ends with “you aren’t a real woman, you might trick lesbians into sleeping with a man, and I’d rather you didn’t exist”. Unfortunately, this corner of the feminist movement has been a bit of a magnet for the assholes within it.)

Now this isn’t completely wrong — as shown by all the excellent thought on male privilege that comes from trans men and women. But of course, trans women points out, correctly, that their experience growing up was by no means that of a typical man, whatever the experience of being treated as one, and point to the high rate of depression and despair about trans youth. Some privilege, indeed.

So I’m back with my original point: you’ll never find a good one-size-fits-all criterion. It’s way too complex for anyone to count off “you’re in, you’re out… “. Luckily, we don’t really need that.

Second…

And my point was that men shouldn’t prescribe what feminism is to women, and people have just brought up transgender and gender queer issues as if those issues mean that men should be able to prescribe what feminism is to women.

… while I disagree with a lot in your argument, I end up in a similar spot in the conclusion. I can’t think of a useful purpose that the whole “how to reliably tell X from Y” detour fulfills in the context of making prescriptive or authoritative statements about feminism.

The solution to that, to me, is like the solution to women-only spaces: you set norms of humility, deference and listening-first and confer authority on the basis of the quality of contribution. The pro-Trump women you hear on the radio who say “he’s a man in a men’s world talking to other men, and that’s how men talk, including our relatives, and I’m ok with that and so should you” aren’t making a contribution to feminist thought. Just like the black police chief who affirms that there can’t be racial bias in his town’s policing because he’s black and so are the officers who shot the unarmed guy isn’t saying something useful about race (indeed, he’s wrong). Being in-community isn’t a proof in itself that you’re helping things. If you’re an out-of-community person who wishes to be part of the conversation, you’ll have to show your the proverbial white paw, and demonstrate the depth of your understanding sufficiently to make up for your lack of embodied social experience (or whatever you want to call it). Hopefully, by keeping community structure fine-grained, you’ll then be accepted by virtue of being known.

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merian 10.16.16 at 5:37 pm

Re: the Russian thing, you’ll never figure that one out by fact-free speculation on CT. Follow internet security blogs (Bruce Schneier, Ars Technica articles…). I haven’t seen anything come out about that Podesta email bundle, but the one before (I think the DNC hack), the evidence presented (based on IP address spaces, their owners, the organizational dependencies between the various identified entities…) quite convincingly pointed into the Russian intelligence operations. As the release itself is run by Wikileaks, of course, they could have aggregated hacked data from multiple sources and streamlined the information flow to suit their own interest, or they could have received it all in one bundle or from the same source.

Foreign government entity, foreign individuals (Assange…), or home-grown alt-right trolls, we’ll figure out with time a little more about who to blame.

Oh, and I agree that the US will get very little sympathy about the first of the three. The NSA bugged Angela Merkel’s bloody cell phone after all, then moved on to government ministers, and when they were told those were off limits too, actually increased their activities by hoovering up high-placed civil servants instead. The US has no moral high ground here. This said, if the hacking-and-releasing gets a faschistoid narcissist with qualification in offensive show-biz elected to the US presidency, that makes it more serious.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.16.16 at 5:43 pm

merian: “First, as I said above, I don’t think reducing “woman”, “trans” or “genderqueer” to a social experience rather than to body is going to help either.”

It’s a step along a path, though. Social experiences kind of naturally lead to the idea of social structures that are not purely personal that cause lots of people to have similar kinds of experiences. Starting with body parts leads you straight back to essentialist feminism.

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merian 10.16.16 at 5:47 pm

ZM #309

I think she could explain she was Jewish, and the history of discrimination against Jewish people if that was the topic of discussion. If the discussion was about getting sunburnt or something and a Kenyan said you were both white then being Jewish would probably be irrelevant to mention.

The biological reaction of one’s skin isn’t the salient bit here. A white American who happens to be Jewish, is, for purposes of their social role in a sub-Saharan African country, a white Western foreigner. For purposes of discussing the history of discrimiation, their Jewishness would of course be relevant, but that’s quite a specialized situation which may not even ever occur during their stay. Whereas they will be treated every day as white.

(Also, while I’m not equating the Jewish experience with that of other groups, a different person, white or not, may *also* have some personal family history to contribute that is relevant. It’s quite a rich humanity we have there…)

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engels 10.16.16 at 5:52 pm

327

Rich Puchalsky 10.16.16 at 6:07 pm

LFC: “I have never written so much as a single word, not even a single syllable, in defense of ‘American exceptionalism’”

LFC, you wrote something like that before. Then you wrote, just yesterday or so, a series of comments in which you said that the U.S. should consider intervening to create a no-fly zone in Syria without U.N. sanction or the invitation of the supposed Syrian government, and wrote that sovereignty was not inviolate. When I wrote that sovereignty wasn’t inviolate in the same sense that aggressive war was always possible, you wrote that we should agree to disagree. I do not agree to disagree. Why does the U.S. get to do this and not some other country? Specifically, I’m sure that Russia could and probably does defend its Syrian intervention as being in the best interests of the Syrians. So, again, how are you not defending some kind of American ability to intervene at will no matter what international law says?

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engels 10.16.16 at 6:52 pm

Are you sure that becoming a clownish gradualist anarchist who writes short three act plays is not really the best response?

Yes.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.16.16 at 6:55 pm

Better than becoming someone who thinks that now that the magical reset button has been hit their party no longer is responsible for war crimes, engels. Let’s look forwards and not backwards!

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bruce wilder 10.16.16 at 8:00 pm

LFC @ 317

Dropping the heavy mockery for a moment to get at the logic of my view:

I think that if Y wants to stop Z from happening, Y might consider as a first expedient, self-restraint: not doing Z, itself. That is, discipling its own forces and reforming its own strategies, when it finds itself either doing Z or creating the conditions where Z happens.

Your strawman summation of my view is actually not half-bad:

. . . we know a priori that X [the U.S.] cannot act without committing war crimes because X [the U.S.] is an imperial power bent on maintaining its global hegemony, therefore any employment of any military force in any way by X [the U.S.] anywhere necessarily constitutes a war crime, because every aspect of X’s [the U.S.’s] foreign policy is criminal and therefore every act taken by X is criminal.

What makes this a strawman is the “we know a priori“. I don’t think we know this a priori. I think we know this, a posteriori, that is, from ample recent experience and observation. I think there’s a pattern of choice and strategy that we ought to recognize and, if we recognize it, there might actually be an opportunity to choose differently and realize less horrific consequences.

I would not precisely characterize the recognizable pattern of American choices and strategies — that is, of American policy — as that of “an imperial power bent on maintaining its global hegemony” without further qualification. I would say the pattern is that of a global hegemon approaching imperial collapse. There are important differences, with immediate relevance.

A global hegemon in its prime is all about reducing the risks and costs of armed conflicts and coordinating the cooperation of allied, nominally neutral and even rival states with the elaboration of international law, norms, conventions and other agreements. The U.S. in its prime as global hegemon was all about sponsoring the formation of organizations for global and regional multilateral cooperation, even where its direct participation was not welcome. It is true that the political autonomy of states was respected only to the extent that they adopted sufficiently reactionary and economically conservative or authoritarian governments and the political costs to any other course could be large. Back in the day, a Gaddafi or an Assad or a Saddam had to balance on an international tightrope as well as a domestic one, but it was doable and such regimes could last a long-time. Anyway, I do not want to litigate the mixed virtues and vices of (Anglo-)American hegemony past, just to point out the contrast with our present circumstances.

The turn toward a palsied expedience is a distinct symptom of impending imperial collapse. That the U.S. cannot seem to win a war or bring one to a conclusion in any finite period of time is relevant. That a vast “deep state” is running on auto-pilot with no informed instruction or policy control from Congress is a problem.

When commenters decry the failure to observe the norms of international law, they are not just being moralists in an immoral world; they are decrying the erosion of international order, an erosion that has been accelerated by the U.S. turn toward futile expedience as a foreign policy justified by groundless self-righteousness.

“It’s complicated” shouldn’t be a preface to ungrounded simplification and just rounding up the usual policy suspects: let’s declare a no-fly zone, then find and train some moderate faction of fierce fighters for liberal democracy (as if such exist). If we demonstrate the will and commitment and stay the course . . . blah, blah, blah.

And, the R2P doctrine has been ruined not just by hypocrisy but by the demonstrated incapacity to match means to putative ends. It is not just suspicious that the impulse to humanitarianism emerges only when an opportunity to blow things up arises, it’s criminal. Or should be. (sarcasm) But, of course, it is not criminal, because atrocities are only a problem when it is the other guy committing them. Then, we can exercise our righteousness for the good, old cause. (end sarcasm)

The situation in Syria is chaotic, but the chaos is in U.S. policy as well as on the ground. But, the immediate question is not whether the U.S. will intervene, because, as other commenters have pointed out, the U.S. has already involved itself quite deeply. The creation of ISIS, one belligerent in the Syrian conflict is directly attributable to the failure of U.S. policy in Iraq and the U.S. is actively attacking ISIS directly in Syrian as well as Iraqi territory. The U.S. provides military support to multiple factions, including both Turkish-backed forces and the forces of a Kurdish belligerent, which are in conflict with each other. Meanwhile, our great good allies, the Saudis and Qataris are apparently funding Al Qaeda in Syria and maybe ISIS as well.

This chaos, I repeat, is inherent in the organization of U.S. policy — it is an observable pattern, not a property by axiomatic definition as your strawman would have it, but it is very worrisome. It is a symptom of what I rather dramatically labeled “imperial collapse”. That the next President of the U.S. cannot work out why a no-fly zone in a country where the Russians are flying might be a bad idea is not a good sign. That the same person was a proponent of the policy that plunged Libya into chaos is another not-good sign. That’s not an argument for Trump; it is an argument that Trump is another symptom.

The chaos, the breakdown of rational, deliberate and purposive control of policy, means that policy and its rationales are often absurd. I mock the absurdity as a way of drawing attention to it. Others seek to normalize. So, there you have it.

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LFC 10.16.16 at 8:12 pm

RP @324
That’s a fair question. What follows is the best I can do right now, w/o taking time to do extensive research.

Under current international law and contemporary international norms, sovereignty is not absolute.[*] Would a multilateral action — not unilateral by the U.S. alone, but multilateral — undertaken in response to, e.g., the current situation in Aleppo necessarily violate international law if it lacked UN sanction? On some experts’ views, probably yes; on others’ views (and this may be a minority view but it exists), not necessarily, b.c customary international law, in this view, allows humanitarian interventions if they meet certain criteria.[**] [One could also look specifically at the R2P criteria, which I don’t have in front of me.]

International lawyers disagree about these questions, because international law is not an exact science and because instances of genuine or even arguably genuine humanitarian interventions are not all that common (and countries very often have a mixture of motives, in which the humanitarian one, though it might predominate in a particular case, rarely stands alone as the only one).

There is a not a binary spectrum with two poles, one labeled “aggressive war that violates international law” and one labeled “peaceful, non-coercive diplomacy” with nothing in between. There is a big area in between that contains a lot of grey areas and about which international lawyers and other experts often disagree.

For me the main question is practical: is there some action that, if undertaken multilaterally (which is what current norms favor or require), would reduce the overall level of harm to civilians and not pose an unacceptably large risk of major-power conflict? If — and I emphasize “if” — the answer to that question plausibly is yes, then I don’t think the absence of a Security Council imprimatur b.c of a Russian veto would necessarily be a decisive objection. If there is something that seems like it would work and not pose unacceptable risks and has some multilateral support (all of which are “ifs”), there is a case for doing it and then letting the international lawyers fill up the law journals afterward arguing about whether it was legal; this is not as cynical as it sounds because, as I’ve already said, international lawyers often disagree about actions of this sort.

I definitely do not believe the U.S. has the right to intervene at will without regard to international law, nor do I believe international law is so malleable that it can be stretched to justify anything one wants to do. But there are ‘hard cases’ in international law, just as there are in domestic law, and the whole notion and practice of humanitarian intervention arguably is a ‘hard case’ — which is one reason why these kinds of situations generate so much discussion.
—-
[*] Sovereignty itself has several different meanings and in practice has never been “inviolate” or absolute, but there’s no point going into that here.

[**] A lot of international law is not written down in treaties or other formal agreements or instruments. Art. 38 of the Statute of the Int’l Ct of Justice, which lists the generally accepted sources of int’l law, states that “international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law,” is a source of intl law, listing it after int’l agreements. But the ‘rules’ of customary intl law, as contrasted with agreements, “are typically less definite in their formulation and thus more subject to doubt in practice” (M. Janis, An Introduction to International Law, 2nd. ed., p.41). Some scholars think that the customary-law practice (or ‘right’ as it was sometimes called) of humanitarian intervention, as invoked e.g. in the C19 by certain European states to protect Christian subjects of the Ottoman Empire from mistreatment or massacre, was abolished by the UN Charter’s rules on the use of force; other scholars think that the customary-law version (for lack of a better word) of humanitarian intervention has been changed by contemporary norms (requiring multilateral action, e.g.), but not abolished by the UN Charter’s rules on the use of force. The argument that “to be legitimate in contemporary politics, humanitarian intervention must be multilateral” is made by M. Finnemore, The Purpose of Intervention (2003), who lists (p.78) five examples of multilateral humanitarian interventions, all of which occurred in the 1990s, whose legitimacy was generally, although not universally, accepted.

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Lupita 10.16.16 at 8:13 pm

@ merian

demonstrate the depth of your understanding sufficiently to make up for your lack of embodied social experience (or whatever you want to call it).

the complexity of experiences of one’s gender and gender expression (which are embodied, social and individual all at the same time).

What is the difference between embodied social experience and plain, old social experience? It is not as if anyone can have an out-of-body social experience, like spirits at a seance.

The problem I see with reducing individuals to their sex, gender, and racial attributes, giving each attribute an oppression rating, and then piling them up to reach their overall ranking in a continuum of victim-hood, is where to place individuals such as a 17th century, illegitimate-born girl turned nun in colonial Mexico? Or a 19th century Zapotec poor, orphan boy? The first, Sor Juana, became the first great Mexican literary figure to write in Spanish and corresponded with a great white man, Isaac Newton, on scientific matters. The second, Benito Juárez, became the first pro-capitalist president of Mexico, promulgated a liberal constitution, expropriated church lands, and corresponded with another great white man, Abraham Lincoln.

When I was little, I had a kaleidoscope and, after choosing the most beautiful patterns, I started rotating in the opposite direction in order to recover them. Since this did not happen, I tore it open and saw that the patterns were made by tiny pieces of colored broken glass and crumpled paper – essentially garbage. That is what happens when you reduce people, or people reduce themselves, to their experiences as viewed through their physical and social characteristics: you miss out on the great poet or leader and end up with uninspiring garbage.

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LFC 10.16.16 at 8:22 pm

BW @327
Comment noted but I can’t reply just now as have to do some other things.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.16.16 at 9:26 pm

LFC: “Would a multilateral action — not unilateral by the U.S. alone, but multilateral — undertaken in response to, e.g., the current situation in Aleppo necessarily violate international law if it lacked UN sanction?”

This would be a kind of coalition — only of willing countries, of course — maybe we could call it something catchy, like The Willing Coalition. Are we allowed to bring up recent history at all, or does that make us America haters? It’s strange how these hard cases just keep coming up. Alternatively, we could go for Reset Theory. We need to look forwards instead of looking backwards.

So let’s avoid recent history, and just go to ancient history, like that long-outmoded relic, the Security Council. I’d had some vague impression that the chance of military conflict between Security Council members was supposed to be Very Very Bad and by definition worse than any other result, so much so a lot of the legalities that you’re casually thinking of writing into the law books later were intended to prevent exactly the kinds of situations that you’re proposing, in which members of the Security Council started to think about gathering coalitions to shoot down each other’s planes.

But I’m a crazy anarchist, and you’re an international affairs expert. So why don’t you tell me.

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engels 10.17.16 at 12:31 am

Better than becoming someone who thinks that now that the magical reset button has been hit their party no longer is responsible for war crimes, engels. Let’s look forwards and not backwards!

This has so little connection with any argument I’ve ever made it’s genuinely weird, even by CT standards…

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engels 10.17.16 at 3:13 am

But I’m a crazy anarchist

The word for someone who (a) doesn’t oppose the state in any practical way and (b) doesn’t wish to abolish the state is ‘liberal’.

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J-D 10.17.16 at 5:37 am

ZM 10.16.16 at 12:10 pm

J-D,

“If, for example, some people prefer to describe their experience by saying ‘I do not identify with the gender I was assigned at birth’, that preference should be respected.”

But they got assigned the gender at birth because of their body didn’t they?

So if they don’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth , they don’t identify with the gender that correlated to the sex of their body.

How is what you said any different from what I said?

Anyhow I am sure I shouldn’t make prescriptive argument about transgender issues,

To me it seems as if you just made a prescriptive argument about transgender issues and then immediately followed it up by writing that you are sure you shouldn’t do that.

I can only guess that you don’t think you made a prescriptive argument, but that confuses me, because it seems like one to me. Perhaps it would help if you could explain what you think the difference is (between your argument and a prescriptive argument).

However, you also wrote —

ZM 10.16.16 at 11:36 am

And my point was that men shouldn’t prescribe what feminism is to women, and people have just brought up transgender and gender queer issues as if those issues mean that men should be able to prescribe what feminism is to women.

— so I’m happy to go back to my earlier question that you didn’t answer: it appears that you think that sometimes it’s okay to make prescriptive arguments but sometimes it isn’t, and it isn’t entirely clear to me why, so perhaps it would make things clearer if you could explain why you think it can ever be okay to make prescriptive arguments.

Although I do also respond to this:

I can’t work out how they can identify with the gender of the sex of their body and be transgender, but you aren’t transgender anyhow and probably just made this up off the top of your head, and if someone transgender wants to argue something like that I would listen to them, but I am not going to listen to you just arguing about it for rhetorical purposes with me since you are not transgender.

I don’t know what makes you so sure of that. It’s true that I haven’t asserted that I am transgender, but then again I haven’t asserted that I’m not, so it seems to me that there’s no way for you to know.

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ZM 10.17.16 at 11:14 am

merian,

“Way too often it doesn’t work like that for me. And it’s not just the error rate, but also the obliteration of the complexity of experiences of one’s gender and gender expression (which are embodied, social and individual all at the same time).”

Well maybe either you are not as good at looking at people without staring and working out their gender as I am, or else you have a life where there are considerably more people whose gender is less physically manifested and not as easily worked out quickly compared to my life.

I can work people’s basic gender out with hardly any difficulty most of the time either in my town or at uni in the city.

So I think it must be either your perceptual abilities, or else your life, which is the difference.

I am certainly not saying that gender isn’t complex, all I am saying is you can pretty easily work out if someone is a woman most of the time since Rich Puchalsky said its very difficult to work out if someone is a woman.

“The term “essentialist” that has been used as a shorthand here doesn’t actually serve us all that well, IMHO, because within feminist thought it has a much more substantial meaning than your line of thinking. What I think it is, though is reductionist.”

I am not being reductionist about gender — I havent even discussed the matter of that — all I am saying is that its not too difficult to work out who is a woman most of the time.

“I said that these were implied assumptions in how the debate (within groups of women) went about 20 years ago, at within my eyesight. Your way of talking about it would, however, fit into that time’s debate better than into today’s, including your use of obsolescent terms like FTM.”

I was specifying I think male to female transgender women may be prescriptive about feminism to women, this is why I specified the direction of the gender transition.

I am not sure if I think female to male transgender men may or may not be prescriptive about feminism to women, since on the one hand maybe I would say they could to be inclusive, on the other hand they might think I was insulting their masculinity if I didn’t count them as men.

“First, as I said above, I don’t think reducing “woman”, “trans” or “genderqueer” to a social experience rather than to body is going to help either. The whole story about how the sorry TERF issue has been going illustrates that. “

I think most people in these categories are very conscious of the body, and don’t think of gender only as social at all.

Also transgender people and gender queer people quite often make arguments they they are “innately” transgender or gender queer against arguments they should conform to mainstream society’s gender norms — so in fact this group of people do use what Rich Puchalsky is calling “essentialist” arguments (although I think this is not how “essentialism” is used in gender theory).

“But of course, trans women points out, correctly, that their experience growing up was by no means that of a typical man, whatever the experience of being treated as one, and point to the high rate of depression and despair about trans youth. Some privilege, indeed.”

Yes I agree with you about this.

“So I’m back with my original point: you’ll never find a good one-size-fits-all criterion. It’s way too complex for anyone to count off “you’re in, you’re out… “. Luckily, we don’t really need that.”

Being a woman might be complex, but its not that difficult most of the time to work out who is a woman. That is all I was saying.

“… while I disagree with a lot in your argument, I end up in a similar spot in the conclusion. I can’t think of a useful purpose that the whole “how to reliably tell X from Y” detour fulfills in the context of making prescriptive or authoritative statements about feminism.”

Its because of Rich Puchalsky saying it was difficult to tell who was a woman when I said men shouldn’t prescribe what feminism is to women.

I didn’t bring up the topic at all. I thought someone would argue back saying men should be able to make prescriptive arguments about feminism, I didn’t realise it would turn into an argument about whether it is difficult to work out who is a woman.

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ZM 10.17.16 at 11:50 am

J-D,

“I can only guess that you don’t think you made a prescriptive argument, but that confuses me, because it seems like one to me. Perhaps it would help if you could explain what you think the difference is (between your argument and a prescriptive argument).”

I was describing what transgender is, not prescribing what it is. If an actual transgender person disagreed with me about this description, then I would listen to them.

“— so I’m happy to go back to my earlier question that you didn’t answer: it appears that you think that sometimes it’s okay to make prescriptive arguments but sometimes it isn’t, and it isn’t entirely clear to me why, so perhaps it would make things clearer if you could explain why you think it can ever be okay to make prescriptive arguments.”

This is a very big question J-D, I don’t think I could do it justice here without thinking about it.

“I don’t know what makes you so sure of that. It’s true that I haven’t asserted that I am transgender, but then again I haven’t asserted that I’m not, so it seems to me that there’s no way for you to know.”

I have read your comments on John Quiggin’s blog for a few years, you are not transgender as far as I can tell by your comments, I am pretty sure you have written details about your personal life on John Quiggin’s blog before, and you often make rhetorical arguments like you are here.

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engels 10.17.16 at 11:58 am

Interesting article on masculinity in this weekend’s FT which touches on some of the issues being (food) fought over here
https://www.ft.com/content/2bd505cc-8fa6-11e6-a72e-b428cb934b78

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kidneystones 10.17.16 at 1:06 pm

@244 Good eye, Bruce. The trees, the forest and pretty much the entire landscape are screaming 2000 and 2004 didn’t matter a damn.

All the same media outlets and elites that were screaming for the invasion of Iraq are now howling for evil Syrian blood and the removal of another ‘monster’ before he destroys all the peace and stability we bring to the region.

This time, of course, there’s no Bush/Cheney in charge. But no matter, the decisions and the rationale are identical. Democracy will flower in the region once America and the UK kill enough of the bad guys and install their own puppets (I mean ‘good guys’).

Hillary and the democrats are in charge of the killing, so all the death must be both necessary and humanitarian. The possibility that more death and more wars and more invasions and more regime change is pretty much built into the ‘solution’ is unthinkable.

Watching all the cheering for ‘victory in Mosul’ and over the ‘hold-outs’ in Libya has actually driven me to turn off the nets.

Violent regime-change is ‘unavoidable’ regardless of which party is in power. And the current war is always better, safer, and less prone to blow-back than all those other earlier stupid wars.

I learned that reading the pro-Hillary ‘liberal’ press.

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ZM 10.17.16 at 1:18 pm

“Violent regime-change is ‘unavoidable’ regardless of which party is in power. And the current war is always better, safer, and less prone to blow-back than all those other earlier stupid wars.”

I think there is a big problem with American led interventions, even if I do support the idea of humanitarian interventions sometimes being the best thing to do.

I would say that America really ended up as the Super Power after the end of the Cold War without any particular reasons apart from no other country had the military power at the time.

The work I have heard about or read on human security really appeals to me, and I would like a more international approach to security that wasn’t dominated by one country.

I would expect that any move towards this would have to be staged over quite a few years though, since as well as asking America to take a step down, you would be asking other countries to take a step up, and also asking countries to work out some sort of shared security agenda to guide any military interventions or humanitarian responses for natural disasters and things.

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engels 10.17.16 at 1:27 pm

“Democrats Raised More Than $13,000 To Reopen A Firebombed Republican Office”
https://www.buzzfeed.com/claudiakoerner/democrats-raised-money-to-reopen-republican-office?utm_term=.iw15lvJwk

—and then went back to yelling about how Trump is a Nazi who is going to destroy the world? Sometimes I find America odd…

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Rich Puchalsky 10.17.16 at 1:30 pm

ZM: “Its because of Rich Puchalsky saying it was difficult to tell who was a woman when I said men shouldn’t prescribe what feminism is to women.”

If you read back to #206 (and following) you’ll see that this isn’t what I wrote at all.

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ZM 10.17.16 at 1:49 pm

Well you said I shouldn’t use people’s physical characteristics to work out if they are women.

I think this is fine, and also I use clothes and hair and things too, and they are visible social constructions so I combine both natural and cultural physical signs of gender in my assessments.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.17.16 at 2:33 pm

ZM: “Well you said I shouldn’t use people’s physical characteristics to work out if they are women.”

Actually, I don’t think that I said that you should do or not do anything at all. I said that defining womanhood by body parts was an essentialist version of feminism, that it wasn’t social construction, and that it had certain bad effects.

347

engels 10.17.16 at 6:07 pm

…women have been twice silenced in this election: Once by Donald Trump and his allies, who have dismissed his demeaning behavior toward women as “locker-room talk,” and the other by Clinton and her supporters, who have pushed a narrative that she is both the symbol and champion of women’s progress…
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/10/women-trump-clinton/504053/?utm_source=fbia

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J-D 10.17.16 at 7:26 pm

ZM 10.17.16 at 11:50 am
J-D,

“I can only guess that you don’t think you made a prescriptive argument, but that confuses me, because it seems like one to me. Perhaps it would help if you could explain what you think the difference is (between your argument and a prescriptive argument).”

I was describing what transgender is, not prescribing what it is.

It is not clear what you think the difference is.

If an actual transgender person disagreed with me about this description, then I would listen to them.

It is not clear how that would work here. If somebody posted a comment here disagreeing with you on this subject without disclosing a gender identity, would you respond by writing that you couldn’t decide whether to pay attention to the comment without knowing whether the commenter was transgender?

This feeds straight back to the other question: if somebody made a comment about feminism which you considered to be prescriptive, would you be unable to evaluate it if you didn’t know the commenter’s gender?

Also: if you care about knowing what transgender people have to say for themselves, you can find out a lot fairly easily online. You might find some simple research instructive.

“— so I’m happy to go back to my earlier question that you didn’t answer: it appears that you think that sometimes it’s okay to make prescriptive arguments but sometimes it isn’t, and it isn’t entirely clear to me why, so perhaps it would make things clearer if you could explain why you think it can ever be okay to make prescriptive arguments.”

This is a very big question J-D, I don’t think I could do it justice here without thinking about it.

I can only understand that as meaning that you have not thought through the opinion you expressed; and if that’s true I feel justified in attaching no weight to it.

“I don’t know what makes you so sure of that. It’s true that I haven’t asserted that I am transgender, but then again I haven’t asserted that I’m not, so it seems to me that there’s no way for you to know.”

I have read your comments on John Quiggin’s blog for a few years, you are not transgender as far as I can tell by your comments, I am pretty sure you have written details about your personal life on John Quiggin’s blog before, and you often make rhetorical arguments like you are here.

Then your level of confidence in your judgement is unjustified.

I follow a conscious policy of disclosing few personal details in online comments. I probably have referred here to the fact that I’m Australian, and I may have mentioned it explicitly on John Quiggin’s blog; it could anyway easily become clear from context, and it is one detail I do disclose. I mentioned here recently that I am a parent, which is another detail I do disclose, and may have mentioned also on John Quiggin’s blog. You can’t tell from the fact that I’m a parent whether I am female or male, or whether I’m cisgender or transgender. I can’t imagine what other details about my personal life you think that I have disclosed and that lead to conclusions about my gender identity.

On a now defunct discussion board I frequented for years, I remember at least one commenter deducing from my comments that I was probably female while at least one other deduced that I was probably male, so I feel justified in concluding that it’s not possible to make reliable deductions about my gender identity from my online comments.

You’ve written about how you think you can tell whether people are female or male, cisgender or transgender, and it’s probable that you are correct in your judgements a lot of the time, but less often than you think you are.

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J-D 10.17.16 at 7:37 pm

engels 10.17.16 at 6:07 pm
…women have been twice silenced in this election: Once by Donald Trump and his allies, who have dismissed his demeaning behavior toward women as “locker-room talk,” and the other by Clinton and her supporters, who have pushed a narrative that she is both the symbol and champion of women’s progress…
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/10/women-trump-clinton/504053/?utm_source=fbia

People who have been quoted in The Atlantic have not been silenced.

350

ZM 10.18.16 at 11:00 am

Rich Puchalsky,

“Actually, I don’t think that I said that you should do or not do anything at all. I said that defining womanhood by body parts was an essentialist version of feminism, that it wasn’t social construction, and that it had certain bad effects.”

Saying women have female bodies isn’t what essentialism is. Essentialism is when you say all women like to do flower arranging and bake cup cakes or something since they are women and these things are natural to all woman. Essentialism is not saying that people with female bodies are women.

You can include both bodies and cultural or social aspects in an analysis of gender, and the bad effects you have mentioned are for transgender and intersex people and it is pretty easy to make exceptions for these groups of people.

351

ZM 10.18.16 at 11:14 am

J-D,

” If somebody posted a comment here disagreeing with you on this subject without disclosing a gender identity, would you respond by writing that you couldn’t decide whether to pay attention to the comment without knowing whether the commenter was transgender?…. if somebody made a comment about feminism which you considered to be prescriptive, would you be unable to evaluate it if you didn’t know the commenter’s gender?”

No I would probably just make a guess what gender they were and comment as such, or ask them directly. They can say if I got it wrong.

“Also: if you care about knowing what transgender people have to say for themselves, you can find out a lot fairly easily online. You might find some simple research instructive.”

I already have read about transgender issues, and I never read anyone say what you said about it.

“I can only understand that as meaning that you have not thought through the opinion you expressed; and if that’s true I feel justified in attaching no weight to it.”

I do think people can make prescriptive statements. In brief this is since I think ethics and morals are important, and I do not subscribe to relativism. Also it would greatly impoverish debate if no one ever made any prescriptive arguments at all as well as being dreadful for morals and law and order and art criticism etc.

“Then your level of confidence in your judgement is unjustified.”

You are just engaging in needless rhetoric for no good reason J-D.

Either you are transgender or you are not transgender, you can’t be in-between Schrödinger’s Cat maybe/maybe not transgender for rhetorical commenting purposes.

I don’t think you are transgender, and I would be willing to bet on it.

352

engels 10.18.16 at 11:25 am

People who have been quoted in The Atlantic have not been silenced.

And since rhe Atlantic has published the opinions on Clinton of all women in America that’s actually a really important point and not just time-wasting pedantry…

353

engels 10.18.16 at 11:26 am

Not to mention all women outside of America, including but not limited to those in countries Clinton will in all probability shortly commence bombing the shit out of…

354

Lynne 10.18.16 at 12:46 pm

ZM, I’ve been enjoying your comments and admiring your patience.

355

Layman 10.18.16 at 1:04 pm

engels: “Not to mention all women outside of America, including but not limited to those in countries Clinton will in all probability shortly commence bombing the shit out of…”

To be fair, engels, whatever else you meant when you said ‘women have been…silenced in this election’, it doesn’t actually seem to be the case that women have been silenced in this election.

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kidneystones 10.18.16 at 1:08 pm

Glen Thrush grovels to Podesta:

http://twitchy.com/loriz-3139/2016/10/17/category-5-hackery-wikileaks-busted-politico-journo-doubles-down-with-this-lame-denial/

“Please don’t tell anyone I did this – Tell me if I fucked up anything.”

This is actually very far from the more damning evidence of media bias and collusion bubbling around the nets right now. If some liberals are concerned that Trump represents a threat to the republic, they’re certainly entitled to their views.

The Grand Canyon of gaping wound dividing large sections of the nation from the elites and their media enablers is clearly widening, however. Beating Trump is one thing.

Stealing the election through suppression of news, the targeting of political action groups by the IRS and collusion between the head of the FBI, the WH, and the DNC is a very different matter. It’s very doubtful that the press is going to do more than issue a cya statement similar to their autopsy of their pro-Iraq war coverage: ‘In retrospect, it now seems clear blah, blah, blah.

I stated earlier that Trump needs to close to 5 within a few days. That does not appear to be happening, although it may. So, playing with the possibility that Clinton and company do win and no more stories of collusion and dishonesty surface, (unlikely) roughly 40 percent of the country is going to feel very, very unhappy with the outcome.

These individuals will not be the ‘forgive and forget’ Sanders types. These will be the types who are looking for a more determined, politically savvy, and skilled operator to lead precisely the reforms Trump haters lay at his door. They will be highly-motivated to say the least. There have been some very sensible comments about what happens in 2020.

Beating Trump fair and square should not require the sort of actions that we’re seeing in the news, when we’re seeing them in the news. CNN and Wapo are pretty much blocking the most damning documents, which means that a sizeable portion of the ‘liberal’ base has no idea what kind of nonsense is occurring, and how deeply angry those disenfranchised this election actually are.

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Layman 10.18.16 at 1:35 pm

“…roughly 40 percent of the country is going to feel very, very unhappy with the outcome.”

…as has been the case in basically every election in living memory. Shocking!

358

engels 10.18.16 at 1:58 pm

whatever else you meant when you said ‘women have been…silenced in this election

I didn’t say it.

it doesn’t actually seem to be the case that women have been silenced in this election

None of them? Anywhere in the US or in the world? They’ve all been allowed and even encouraged to have their say? God bless America! And the Kool-Aid corporation!

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engels 10.18.16 at 2:25 pm

Clearly none of these people (e.g.) were women so your pedantry makes perfect sense as well as being a devastating refutation of the substance of the article [/sarcasm]

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=protestors+clinton+trump+ejected&t=iphone&ia=web

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Layman 10.18.16 at 2:28 pm

“I didn’t say it.”

Perhaps you didn’t originate it, but by posting it you implied endorsement of it. If you don’t endorse it, well, never mind.

“None of them? Anywhere in the US or in the world?”

If that’s the standard, then everyone has been silenced, by everything, everywhere, and the association with this particular case becomes pretty damned pointless.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.18.16 at 2:34 pm

“These individuals will not be the ‘forgive and forget’ Sanders types.”

Occasionally I look at kidneystones’ comments to see whether he’s learned anything. Answer: no.

Yes-or-no or who-will-win predictions can be made with lots of different reasons underlying them. If they really are yes or no outcomes, or candidate A vs candidate B outcomes, then it’s pretty common to guess what will happen and have it come out right by random chance. But what were your reasons?

Let’s look at some predictions / outcomes:

1. Trump will win the GOP primary. OK, many people predicted this — Trump appeals to the GOP base and the rest of the candidate field was completely undistinguished.

2. Sanders voters will cross over to vote for Trump. kidneystones predicted this would happen, and it’s clearly not going to happen. It has nothing to do with forgive and forget, and everything to do with pre-existing political commitments which were the reason why these people voted Sanders in the first place.

3. Trump has a good chance of winning the general election. No, he doesn’t, and he never did. He’s a horrible general election candidate and nothing ever made him a good one or made it likely that he would become a good one.

The whole story of this election so far is consistent with a very simple narrative: that a candidate of the GOP base will appeal to that base and basically no one else. The GOP base is 33-40% of the country, so that’s quite important, but it doesn’t bring you to 50%.

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engels 10.18.16 at 2:48 pm

Perhaps you didn’t originate it, but by posting it you implied endorsement of it. If you don’t endorse it, well, never mind.

So if I link to an article I found interesting I’m obliged to spend the afternoon defending its every choice of words from an army of literalist nitpickers. Duly noted.

363

Rich Puchalsky 10.18.16 at 3:00 pm

ZM: “the bad effects you have mentioned are for transgender and intersex people and it is pretty easy to make exceptions for these groups of people.”

Let’s not consider for the moment that these people are being set aside as an “exception” or an Other that doesn’t fit into the gender binary, which is being reinforced, and that saying that “women have female bodies” brings you to pretty much a medical-technology definition of womanhood. That’s not the only bad effect that I mentioned. The other one is that even when essentialists try to be intersectional, they can basically only perceive intersectionality that is supposed to be caused by biological difference. Thus “POC” would no longer be a social category but can pretty much be detected with the brown paper bag test or something like it. A Jew going to Kenya wouldn’t be white because Kenyans have no social experience with Jews as a distinct community: they’d be white because look their skin really was white all the time.

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Layman 10.18.16 at 3:18 pm

engels: “So if I link to an article I found interesting I’m obliged to spend the afternoon defending its every choice of words from an army of literalist nitpickers.”

Well, that’s just silly, isn’t it? You chose to highlight those particular words! Accusing me of delving into the more obscure corners of the piece is not going to work. And if you don’t agree with the words, why defend them? Wouldn’t it be easier just to say ‘I don’t agree with them’?

365

Brett Dunbar 10.18.16 at 3:24 pm

All of the UN security council members are great powers with substantial military power. Great power war is a seriously bad thing with an enormous potential for destruction and is avoided for that reason.

The West doesn’t limit intervention to circumstances where bombing the current government is the action considered. Bombing is politically controversial so that gets a lot of attention other measures aren’t controversial and get a lot less attention. Intervention as peace keepers monitoring a ceasefire e.g. Cyprus since 1974 isn’t a problem. And successful ground actions in support of the recognised government against really unpleasant rebels e.g. Britain against the RUF in Sierra Leone in 2000 or the French in Mali in 2013 can also be politically uncomplicated.

Non military approaches include aid, below market rate loans, debt forgiveness (e.g. Britain forgave Uganda its bilateral debt with the proviso that the money previously used on debt servicing be spent on primary education) advice disaster relief and various other methods of help.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.18.16 at 3:34 pm

Brett Dunbar: “Great power war is a seriously bad thing with an enormous potential for destruction and is avoided for that reason.”

Crazy! These peaceniks are just completely disconnected from reality and don’t understand that we should just go for it and probably nothing bad will happen.

(Do I really need sarcasm tags? If I started using sarcasm and irony tags all my comments would be three times longer.)

367

engels 10.18.16 at 3:37 pm

I’m agnostic about the choice of the word ‘silenced’; I agree with the thrust of the piece: most women in the US, a fortiori in the world, aren’t well-represented by Clinton or Trump and don’t hear their views aired in the inane US media food fight of which CT comments have become a minor battleground.

368

dave heasman 10.18.16 at 3:52 pm

When a no-fly zone was imposed on Kurdish Iraq, it entailed, among other things, bombing to shit all the Iraqi Air Force planes on airfields in the area.
Does Clinton really intend to do this in Syria? Could anything possibly go wrong?

369

Layman 10.18.16 at 4:33 pm

engels: “I agree with the thrust of the piece…”

Well, I hope you do so with your tongue firmly in cheek, and a grasp on the irony inherent in the case where a bedrock of the US media like The Atlantic publishes a piece which claims that the US media ignores the voices of women. Except for them, of course!

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engels 10.18.16 at 4:41 pm

Even a stopped clock gives the right time twice a day

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LFC 10.18.16 at 4:54 pm

RPuchalsky @334

I’d had some vague impression that the chance of military conflict between Security Council members was supposed to be Very Very Bad

Two separate albeit related questions:
(1) what is legal, or arguably legal
(2) what will work, where “work” is defined to include “does not pose an unacceptable risk of major-power conflict” (that’s a quote from my own earlier, and admittedly rather long, comment)

Re question (1), I suggested there are areas where the views of int’l law experts will prob not be unanimous or clear-cut. Re question (2), I think the proviso re great-power conflict is clear, if not the same as an automatic answer or decision algorithm.

There was relatively little controversy about some of the 5 multilateral humanitarian interventions of the ’90s listed by Finnemore, e.g. the UN effort to end civil war etc. in Cambodia (UNTAC) and the UN and NATO efforts to protect civilians in Bosnia, though the latter weren’t v. effective until after the Srebenica (can’t be bothered to look up spelling) massacre. There was also, as I recall, not a huge amount of controversy about the no-fly zones (pre-2003) to protect Shiites and Kurds in Iraq. (There was a great deal of controversy about the oil embargo and sanctions on Saddam’s regime, a separate issue, which it’s generally acknowledged caused substantial harm to Iraqi civilians, incl. children.)

B. Dunbar mentions Sierra Leone and Mali, both reasonably successful interventions. There are all kinds of intervention and only some will fall under the (controversial) heading of ‘humanitarian intervention’. Some UN peacekeeping missions could be considered humanitarian interventions, others not so much. Depends on the context, circumstances, scope of mandate, particular justification(s).

—–

There are blogs out there, such as Opinio Juris (I think that’s its name), that are written by law professors, some of whom specialize in intl law. That site or a site such as Duck of Minerva (IR in general), wd likely be better places to consider/discuss these issues than the tail-end of a CT comment thread.

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LFC 10.18.16 at 4:58 pm

D.Heasman
When a no-fly zone was imposed on Kurdish Iraq, it entailed, among other things, bombing to shit all the Iraqi Air Force planes on airfields in the area.

Hadn’t remembered that particular aspect. I thought a no-fly zone meant you can’t fly, not that you can’t keep planes parked on the ground. Guess I’ll have to look it up.

373

Suzanne 10.18.16 at 6:25 pm

Trump will win the GOP primary. OK, many people predicted this — Trump appeals to the GOP base and the rest of the candidate field was completely undistinguished.

@361: They were certainly undistinguished by any non-GOP standard, but the Republicans were generally considered to boast a deep bench for this year’s primary season. It was thought by many, if not most, reasonable people that Trump would implode, until it became apparent that nothing he said or did could turn his core support against him.

ZM, I add my compliments to Lynne’s at #354.

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Layman 10.18.16 at 6:40 pm

“…but the Republicans were generally considered to boast a deep bench for this year’s primary season…”

The pundits certainly claimed it, but I never could grasp why they did. Perennial losers like Perry, Huckabee, Santorum? Charisma vacuums like Jindal, Walker, Rubio, Gilmore, Pataki, Bush, Kasich? Walking time bombs like Christie, Cruz, Trump? Fringe kooks like Carson, Paul, Graham?

375

LFC 10.18.16 at 7:57 pm

Peter T @301
Thanks for this reply. Had missed it until just now.

376

Rich Puchalsky 10.18.16 at 8:09 pm

LFC: “Two separate albeit related questions:
(1) what is legal, or arguably legal
(2) what will work,”

I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t have picked up on this, but yes, the chance of great power conflict always was a core part of “Why would we set up a no fly zone against Russian planes?”

But I’ll return to the American exceptionalism bit. You write about setting up a coalition that is not under the auspices of the UN. OK then, anyone can set up a coalition. Why can’t the Russians say “We have already set up a coalition of ourselves, the Syrian government, and whatever minor countries we can bribe a la the Coalition of the Willing, and we are doing a humanitarian intervention in Syria”? They are doing exactly what we have done in previous interventions: bombing people. They are arguably doing so to shorten the war, assuming that it’s shortened when the dictator wins. What, other than American exceptionalism, distinguishes their intervention from one that the U.S. would lead?

377

J-D 10.18.16 at 8:13 pm

engels 10.18.16 at 11:25 am
People who have been quoted in The Atlantic have not been silenced.

And since rhe Atlantic has published the opinions on Clinton of all women in America that’s actually a really important point and not just time-wasting pedantry…

engels 10.18.16 at 3:37 pm
I’m agnostic about the choice of the word ‘silenced’; I agree with the thrust of the piece: most women in the US, a fortiori in the world, aren’t well-represented by Clinton or Trump and don’t hear their views aired in the inane US media food fight of which CT comments have become a minor battleground.

The proposition that there are views about the US election which have not been included in US media reporting is almost certainly true; however, the views expressed by the women quoted in The Atlantic article are not among those unreported views; a complaint that views like theirs have not been reported is not well-founded.

378

LFC 10.18.16 at 8:28 pm

Bruce Wilder @330
If we were to have a face-to-face conversation, we would probably end up agreeing on certain points, disagreeing on others. Hard to have that kind of exchange in a thread of this sort, esp. since two different topics are going simultaneously. That’s not a criticism of the participants — these things happen — but it makes it too difficult, I think, to carry this discussion of US f.p. further on this thread. At least for me, at any rate.

I’ll conclude by saying that HRC is hardly my ideal candidate (I voted for Sanders in the primary) and that includes on foreign policy, where I am more worried less about her (alleged) ‘bellicosity’ as by a probable lack of creativity and possible failure to surround herself w advisors who have a range of different views, incl., one hopes, at least a few outside the ‘establishment’ or mainstream. Well, assuming she wins, I guess we’ll see soon enough.

379

LFC 10.18.16 at 9:33 pm

R. Puchalsky @376

The Russian intervention is not really multilateral, except to the extent that they might be coordinating to some degree with Iran; and it’s not a humanitarian intervention for several reasons, the most obvious of which is that they are, or certainly appear to be, deliberately targeting civilians and hospitals (and there’s no doubt the Syrian govt, which the Russians support, is doing that). One can’t claim to be acting for humanitarian ends and then deliberately target civilians.

You talk about “bombing people,” but in these kinds of discussions the category “people” is actually meaningless because it is too broad: at a minimum, you have to distinguish between combatants and noncombatants.

Deliberately targeting noncombatants is a clear violation of law and norms, and it cannot be justified by saying: “well, we have to eliminate the violent rebels in this city, and we’ve offered a pause to allow the rebels to leave, but the rebels have declined the offer, and therefore the lives of the civilians [whether they be 30,000 or 200,000] in the city are of no particular concern to us, and we will proceed to destroy the rebel-held part of the city if that’s what it takes to accomplish the military goal.”

If you don’t see any point in distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants (yes, the lines are sometimes blurry, but they are often very clear), and if you don’t think that intentions are of any relevance — that is, if you think there’s no difference whatsoever, for instance, between (1) deliberately blowing up a hospital and (2) accidentally bombing a hospital in a culpably negligent act of misidentification in the middle of a nighttime battle (as happened in a highly publicized case in Afghanistan a while back), then we can’t have a conversation b.c we are operating in different universes of discourse.

Tl/dr: there is no such thing in war as “bombing [undifferentiated] people.” Someone is always bombing particular people (or buildings or etc.) with particular roles in particular circumstances and with particular — intended or unintended — results. If you don’t recognize the significance of these distinctions, then it is impossible to have a meaningful discussion of any legal or moral aspects of armed conflict and related issues.

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LFC 10.18.16 at 9:42 pm

p.s. Even the most indiscriminate bombing — say, for instance, the fire-bombing of Tokyo or the atomic bombing of Hiroshima — was still bombing particular people, i.e. basically anyone who happened to be unfortunate enough to be physically in those cities at the time.

381

Asteele 10.18.16 at 9:42 pm

America always looks good when you compare our words to other people’s deeds.

382

LFC 10.18.16 at 10:03 pm

America always looks good when you compare our words to other people’s deeds.

I don’t give a **** about making the U.S. look good. R. Puchalsky is always going on about “will you condemn” syndrome.

Well, if you want me to condemn large swaths of US foreign policy over the last so many decades, I have no problem at all in doing so. Vietnam, Cambodia, Chile, Iran/contra, El Salvador, Argentine dirty war, Guatemala, ’71 Bangladesh crisis, ’03 invasion of Iraq, overuse of drones, CIA covert ops, nuclear overkill, Star Wars, GWBush’s w/drawal from ABM treaty, failure to join Int’l Criminal Ct — hmm, will that do for starters?

383

Rich Puchalsky 10.18.16 at 10:27 pm

LFC: “Even the most indiscriminate bombing — say, for instance, the fire-bombing of Tokyo or the atomic bombing of Hiroshima — was still bombing particular people, i.e. basically anyone who happened to be unfortunate enough to be physically in those cities at the time.”

That is totally unfair, LFC. *I* am supposed to be the one being absurd. You can not outflank me with statements like the one above. I will go you one better and insist that the targets of bombings, no matter how indiscriminate, are always particular people unless the bomb kills everyone in the world. Unless it’s complete species wipeout, then the bomb(s) were sort of vaguely targeted at some physical location, however general, and therefore there were particular people being bombed.

So all bombings are bombings of particular people. Let’s revise my prior statement to read “They are doing what we have done in prior interventions: bombing particular people.” Of course, we have propaganda about how smart our bombs are, and how they carefully quiz everyone in the vicinity to see whether they are a combatant before exploding. Plus we have rules of engagement that let us bomb particular people while claiming that they are the right kind of people to kill.

I’m not asking for a round of “will you condemn”. I’m asking you to recognize recent history and its implications for the trustworthiness of U.S. statements that our interventions are better than Russian interventions or anyone else’s. For instance, it’s become known that our drones kill a high percentage of enemy combatants rather than civilians because any male of close to military age who is killed by a drone is definitionally considered to be a combatant. Why is it that the U.S. is misrepresenting what it is doing in every case that we can check, but not doing so in every case that we can’t check?

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Layman 10.18.16 at 10:49 pm

“Why is it that the U.S. is misrepresenting what it is doing in every case that we can check, but not doing so in every case that we can’t check?”

It would also be instructive to consider that the first response by the US military to any incident is to vehemently deny it. If that doesn’t make it go away, they’ll deny it while saying they’ll look into it. Eventually they’ll admit it, but also blame the victims.

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engels 10.19.16 at 12:09 am

America always looks good when you compare our words to other people’s deeds.

After ‘can’t we just drone this guy’, ‘grab ’em by the pussy’, and the like, ‘always’ is looking a bit strong….

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Peter T 10.19.16 at 1:15 am

“Why is it that the U.S. is misrepresenting what it is doing in every case that we can check, but not doing so in every case that we can’t check?”

I follow the Iraq/Syria war fairly closely. We can check civilian deaths and injuries from US bombing, and so far they have been very light (note: not zero, by any means). This is because they have well-trained people on the ground who are themselves concerned to limit civilian casualties and because the rules of engagement are very strict (coalition aircraft often return to base with bombs still in the racks). So kudos to them in this case. This does not say anything about other cases – Afghanistan looks to be less discriminate.

Note that pretty much any use of heavy weaponry (bombs, shells) in urban areas will be destructive of civilian life and property. That’s the nature of urban warfare. Kobane, Baiji, Ramadi and Fallujah all suffered heavily in the campaigns to free them from ISIS control. In the two months of August and September, the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights reported 165 dead in government-held west Aleppo from rebel shelling and 168 from air strikes and shelling in rebel-held east Aleppo. Guess which ones got more press?

I think the combatant vs non-combatant distinction is a bit of a relic. At the end of the day they are all dead people, all mourned by someone.

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LFC 10.19.16 at 2:06 am

@Peter T.

Note that pretty much any use of heavy weaponry (bombs, shells) in urban areas will be destructive of civilian life and property. That’s the nature of urban warfare. Kobane, Baiji, Ramadi and Fallujah all suffered heavily in the campaigns to free them from ISIS control. In the two months of August and September, the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights reported 165 dead in government-held west Aleppo from rebel shelling and 168 from air strikes and shelling in rebel-held east Aleppo. Guess which ones got more press?

Yes, it may very well be that the indiscriminate harm inflicted by both ‘sides’ (using this term for convenience) is much closer to parity (or was until very recently) than media reports would lead a casual observer to think.

Even when it comes to urban warfare or in largely urban settings, however, I think judgments can still be made. Consider, for example, the Israeli campaign in Gaza in 2014 (I believe it was) — the Israeli military was condemned for some particular incidents where the likelihood of harm to civilians seemed so great that the weapons should not have been fired. One of the most notorious incidents, though not unique, was the kids killed playing soccer on the beach near a hotel that was, for some reason or other, bombed. Not all of these incidents were, strictly speaking, in urban settings, but some were. (OTOH urban warfare often requires split-second decisionmaking, which, on an incident-by-incident basis, may be mitigating depending on facts; the justification of the whole operation, however, is a different question.)

I think the combatant vs non-combatant distinction is a bit of a relic. At the end of the day they are all dead people, all mourned by someone.

The second sentence is, of course, very true, but I don’t think the civilian/combatant distinction is a relic. That would have to be a longer discussion, probably best done another time.

[going offline for a while]

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LFC 10.19.16 at 2:19 am

p.s. Not that the Israeli campaign in Gaza is analogous to the situation in Aleppo, which it obviously isn’t.

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LFC 10.19.16 at 2:21 am

Layman @384
I don’t recall the US military blaming the Medecins sans Frontieres doctors whose hospital it mistakenly and repeatedly hit in that well-known incident in Afghanistan.

[ok, now I’m really going]

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J-D 10.19.16 at 2:43 am

” If somebody posted a comment here disagreeing with you on this subject without disclosing a gender identity, would you respond by writing that you couldn’t decide whether to pay attention to the comment without knowing whether the commenter was transgender?…. if somebody made a comment about feminism which you considered to be prescriptive, would you be unable to evaluate it if you didn’t know the commenter’s gender?”

No I would probably just make a guess what gender they were and comment as such, or ask them directly. They can say if I got it wrong

It appears, then, that you are adhering to the view that it is impossible to evaluate the merits of an opinion independently of the gender of the person who expresses it.

I vehemently disagree with that view.

“Also: if you care about knowing what transgender people have to say for themselves, you can find out a lot fairly easily online. You might find some simple research instructive.”

I already have read about transgender issues, and I never read anyone say what you said about it.

Then perhaps you haven’t read anything like this
http://www.tranarchism.com/2010/11/26/not-your-moms-trans-101/
or this
http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/08/transgender-101/
or this
http://transadvocate.com/a-trans-advocates-perspective-on-trans-101-questions_n_14906.htm
or this
http://www.transpeoplespeak.org/trans-101/

I do think people can make prescriptive statements. In brief this is since I think ethics and morals are important, and I do not subscribe to relativism. Also it would greatly impoverish debate if no one ever made any prescriptive arguments at all as well as being dreadful for morals and law and order and art criticism etc.

That does not explain both why you think it is sometimes okay to make prescriptive arguments and why you think it is sometimes not okay to make prescriptive arguments, unless there is a distinction between the instances where you think ethics and morals are important and the instances where you do not think so. If you think that ethics and morals are only sometimes important, that might explain why you think that it is only sometimes okay to make prescriptive arguments.

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Layman 10.19.16 at 12:06 pm

@LFC

FFS, it was almost their first response! And the fact that they changed the story in less than 24 hrs, to blame the Afghan security forces instead, tells you the likely source of this story: their ass.

‘The US-led military coalition in Afghanistan issued a statement on Sunday that said US forces conducted an airstrike at 2:15am local time on Saturday “against insurgents who were directly firing upon US service members advising and assisting Afghan Security Forces in the city of Kunduz.”‘

https://news.vice.com/article/msf-denies-taliban-fired-from-hospital-before-suspected-us-bombing

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Rich Puchalsky 10.19.16 at 12:37 pm

Even as we write this, forces are advancing on Mosul to recapture the city from ISIL: the reason they can do this is because of U.S. airstrikes and troops. Refugee organizations expect something like 200,000-700,000 refugees from the city. The city was captured a couple of years ago when 1,000 Daesh fighters routed something like 60,000 defenders, mostly because the defenders weren’t strongly motivated to defend: people in the city now have a counter-assassination resistance against ISIL executions.

That is our intervention. Our bombs will not kill civilians in the city: the disparate groups of fighters that we support certainly won’t commit the usual atrocities of war: the refugee crisis will no doubt be handled responsibly and will be fully resourced: when the city is recaptured, the ISIL fighters will be defeated once and for all and we’ll never hear from them again.

The people who support this are crazy. They are insane and I can only talk to them in the jocular way that you’d talk to people who are suffering from such severe mental illness that there is no way to rationally convince them that their delusions are not real. But these people have not been institutionalized: they are running our institutions.

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bruce wilder 10.19.16 at 1:41 pm

LFC: Deliberately targeting noncombatants is a clear violation of law and norms, and it cannot be justified by saying: “well, we have to eliminate the violent rebels in this city, and we’ve offered a pause to allow the rebels to leave, but the rebels have declined the offer, and therefore the lives of the civilians [whether they be 30,000 or 200,000] in the city are of no particular concern to us, . . .

The laws of war are a very particular and even peculiar species of bullshit. I am not a lawyer, let alone a military lawyer or specialist in such things, but from casual reading of news reporting, I think you are actually wrong in the above assertion. Giving a warning and an opportunity for combatants or civilians to vacate an area actually does open up a broad exception. “Exception” is probably the wrong term, technically, but in operation, . . . The offering of a warning, a pause and opportunities to vacate are all the laws of war require, in order to excuse the collateral damage that follows from combat operations against targets that are believed to shelter enemies among civilians.

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Layman 10.19.16 at 1:46 pm

One need only ask two questions: How many non-combatants have been killed accidentally as ‘collateral damage’? And how many military commanders have been punished for violating the ‘laws of war’ for killing non-combatants? The laws of war usually only apply to the losers. The winners seldom if ever apply them to themselves.

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bruce wilder 10.19.16 at 2:31 pm

If you don’t see any point in distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants (yes, the lines are sometimes blurry, but they are often very clear), and if you don’t think that intentions are of any relevance — that is, if you think there’s no difference whatsoever, for instance, between (1) deliberately blowing up a hospital and (2) accidentally bombing a hospital in a culpably negligent act of misidentification in the middle of a nighttime battle (as happened in a highly publicized case in Afghanistan a while back), then we can’t have a conversation b.c we are operating in different universes of discourse.

Do I think intentions are relevant? Maybe. Do I think statements of intention are relevant? Harder. I do not have any reliable way of sorting or confirming actual intentions, as distinguished from propaganda.

I am afraid we are stuck with this universe of discourse. No one can offer LFC a corridor of safe flight to a more morally certain world.

In my mind, I keep coming back to that NYT Mag profile of Ben Rhodes, the White House speechwriter (Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications) trying to manage U.S. foreign policy with rapid fire narratives. This is the world we live in. And, yes, it is one where it is not possible to distinguish between deliberately blowing up a hospital and accidentally in a culpable act of negligence blowing up a hospital. Not because there are not relevant moral distinctions, but because any story is built around those putative distinctions without much regard for facts. As Layman points out, the “information” given out by officials is dictated by a desire to manipulate public perceptions and deflect criticism and follows a predictable pattern unrelated to facts of a case.

This discourse has become delusive, as Rich P says above. Sarcasm or mockery may be rude, but appropriate.

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Layman 10.19.16 at 3:10 pm

“Do I think intentions are relevant? Maybe. “

I don’t think you can grant even this. Belligerents know full well that they will kill non-combatants with their preferred tactics, but they use those tactics anyway because 1) they deem it a fair trade off for achieving their objective while reducing the risk to their own combatants, and 2) they know there is little likelihood they will be called to account, and if they are they know they can rely on the ‘intentions’ defense.

This is evident in their responses. Have they bombed a hospital, a school, a bomb shelter, a refugee center? Well, yes, but it was OK because someone was shooting at them from that place. Have they killed several hundred members of a wedding party? Well, it seems so, but they were just trying to kill a few people, and those few were hiding in a wedding party, the dastardly cowards! What else could they have done?

OK be

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Rich Puchalsky 10.19.16 at 3:18 pm

BW: “I do not have any reliable way of sorting or confirming actual intentions, as distinguished from propaganda.”

Note that even criticizing propaganda as such is supposed to imply commitment to the other side. Remember how faustusnotes apparently sincerely could not distinguish between criticism of propaganda about atrocities threatened in Gaddafi’s speech and actual defense of Gaddafi? In the same way, if you oppose a no fly zone that threatens great power war where the no-fly zone would be an area in which 165 people were killed in two months by bombs and shells by one “side” as opposed to 168 by the other, you must not be concerned about people being killed.

This is ancient stuff, but here we have the best and the brightest — university graduates, people with Ph.Ds in international relations, educated people of all kinds — no more able to think about it than any barely literate 19th century lower class urbanite. Clearly education only means that people are freed to rationalize a class position that justifies their interests.

This is why I think that problems of scale and responses to problems of scale really are the core elements of what people should be thinking about.

398

LFC 10.19.16 at 3:57 pm

Rich P @396

you must not be concerned about people being killed.

Beep. Straw-man alert. No one said you were “not concerned about people being killed.” At least, I didn’t say that.

… no more able to think about it than any barely literate 19th century lower class urbanite.

How do you know what the thinking abilities of “barely literate 19th century lower class urbanites” were? Have you researched the matter?

Clearly education only means that people are freed to rationalize a class position that justifies their interests.

What does one’s class position have to do with one’s views on the issues we’ve been discussing? Not that much, istm.

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LFC 10.19.16 at 4:07 pm

Layman @390
Blaming the victim would imply that, once the investigation had finished, they still said that somehow MSF was to blame. Iirc, the main criticisms of the US mil here were (1)the screwups that allowed the mistakes to occur and (2)the fact that the punishments ultimately administered were not stringent enough. Not blaming the victim. Now, that may have occurred in other cases, but not, afaik, this one, and yr quote does not show otherwise, afaict.

“The US military fired on insurgents” = initially denying the incident occurred. “The US military fired mistakenly on a hospital but it was MSF’s fault” = blaming the victim.

400

LFC 10.19.16 at 4:16 pm

Bruce W @392
The offering of a warning, a pause and opportunities to vacate are all the laws of war require, in order to excuse the collateral damage that follows from combat operations against targets that are believed to shelter enemies among civilians.

There is no justification afaik in the laws of war for deliberately targeting and blowing up medical facilities treating casualties, regardless of the offering of ‘opportunities to vacate’.

401

LFC 10.19.16 at 4:19 pm

I wd think the only possible exception might be if the medical facilities themselves were taken over by combatants who were, so to speak, hiding behind the facilities’ protected status.

402

Layman 10.19.16 at 4:23 pm

LFC: “Blaming the victim would imply that, once the investigation had finished, they still said that somehow MSF was to blame.”

No. It’s a process. First you deny you did it, hoping that will stick. If not, then you say you did it, but it was justified, thus blaming the victims. If that doesn’t stick, then you say you didn’t mean to do it, and apologize. If that doesn’t stick, you announce an investigation, hoping that makes it go away. Eventually, you announce the results of the investigation, blaming the incident on mistakes by low-level people, who will face consequences, hoping that will satisfy. Later, you decide these were understandable mistakes, and no one is punished. Do try to keep up.

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Layman 10.19.16 at 4:24 pm

“I wd think the only possible exception might be if the medical facilities themselves were taken over by combatants who were, so to speak, hiding behind the facilities’ protected status.”

How strange that this is precisely what the US initially claimed!

404

LFC 10.19.16 at 4:35 pm

Bruce W.
No one can offer LFC a corridor of safe flight to a more morally certain world.

Actually Bruce you are the one who has hopped on the plane to a morally certain world, a world in which it is never possible to distinguish ‘intentions’ from ‘propaganda’ and thus a world in which one can rest secure in the certainty that judgments, however tentative, should never be attempted.

405

bruce wilder 10.19.16 at 6:18 pm

My phrase, “morally certain world” was poor. It doesn’t denote what I meant.

I think an objective observer, weighing the balance of likelihood, would conclude that the U.S. military targeted the MSF hospital and most probably did so, because the MSF hospital was only facility in the area where Taliban fighters could seek sophisticated medical treatment. That the choice of target originated in the U.S. chain of command was confirmed, so there is no dispute really that this choice was made, though the motivation and objective have been obscured and can only be surmised. No one was disciplined specifically for initiating the attack — we know this because no one was named let alone court martialled and sent to Leavenworth as would be nominally appropriate for such an unauthorized(?) act of murder and mayhem. The only discipline handed out was essentially administrative and only for the negligence and general snafus that allowed the rest of the chain of command to execute the attack without objection. Again, a reasonable and objective observer would wonder whether the initiator of the attack might not have had a hand in arranging things so that the attack went ahead and wasn’t short-circuited by the ordinary and routine controls put in place to prevent such “mistakes”.

Presumably, this balance of likelihood is why the MSF wanted an investigation independent of the U.S. military’s own self-examination.

“Blaming the victim” should not be the primary issue, here, though, of course, in the prolonged sequence of contradictory explanations in an incident that attracted international attention at the highest levels, the U.S. did at various times officially claim that the Taliban were firing from the compound and that the MSF complex was not properly marked. There is no particular reason to think that the sequence of explanations arrived at anything resembling the truth; only a defensible redoubt of apologia.

Whether the attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz constituted a “war crime” isn’t the issue I want to raise either. I think it was a war crime, but the U.S. has a general policy of committing war crimes while denying that policy, so unless you think denial is itself a singular virtue is, I do not understand the argument. If the problem is whether Russia is the bad guy and the U.S. is the good guy, I don’t think the U.S. has much the better argument, at least on the face of it. Pretty much every “bad guy” atrocity in the record books has a corresponding atrocity with an American signature. Shoot down a passenger airliner? Check. Unprovoked aggressive war? Check. And so on.

The thing that troubles me — the thing I want to draw attention to — is the delusive effect of letting moral narrative dominate all policy discussion.

In the case of the Kunduz MSF hospital incident, the effect of moral-narrative-domination is that we do not know who in the U.S. chain-of-command decided MSF should clear out and the MSF hospital should close down (and people should be killed and maimed to achieve that objective). The civilian leadership presumably is not willing to own this policy choice, and they are willing to let the military bear the costs of demoralization, by disciplining, however mildly proportionate to the consequences for the dead and maimed victims, those in the chain of command responsible for the “negligence” which was ultimately trotted out as an excuse for “poor performance” (after several other explanations failed to stymie high-level criticism).

Our American b.s. pretense of righteous conduct is seriously interfering with the political ability to arrive at a deliberately chosen policy likely to achieve strategically chosen objectives, to cooperate efficiently within the policy-making hierarchy, to cooperate with allies and rivals (like Russia, which probably does not see the U.S. as particularly trustworthy or even entirely rational in negotiation), and to generate public support and general legitimacy.

I would submit that the ordinary purpose of international law is not to mandate just conduct per se, but to establish conventions that allow for political coordination, even between rivals, as well as facilitate hierarchical control of the state’s forces for the centralized control of policy. And, domination-by-moral-narrative has become a serious handicap, a source of American foreign policy palsy cum dementia.

I’m not taking the position that morality and ethical conduct do not matter. (I think long-time readers will realize I am something of an impractical idealist.) What I am trying to draw attention to is the effect of bull shit justifications: the narratives are drawn up in disregard for their factual truth value. (Disregard for truth value is kind of the definition of bull shit).

In short, I think judgments should be attempted, even in the face of the obscuring propaganda, but I think we have to confront the propaganda as propaganda and the doubts and uncertainties it engenders, as well as the semi-deranged social climate of opinion it engenders, as Rich P points out.

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LFC 10.20.16 at 3:54 am

Layman @396
Belligerents know full well that they will kill non-combatants with their preferred tactics, but they use those tactics anyway because 1) they deem it a fair trade off for achieving their objective while reducing the risk to their own combatants, and 2) they know there is little likelihood they will be called to account, and if they are they know they can rely on the ‘intentions’ defense.

There is certainly something to this line of criticism when applied to particular cases, such as e.g. the ’99 NATO air campaign in Kosovo, where the planes flew at very high altitudes, pilots were consequently at essentially no risk, and, also a result, civilian casualties were higher than they otherwise wd have been because accuracy went down. The decision to fly at those altitudes has been widely criticized.

But Layman goes further and asserts that intentions are not (i.e., never) relevant, which I think is much too sweeping. Basically I have been arguing for a focus on the details of particular situations and welcomed comments that helped flesh out the factual context of situations.

Bruce Wilder @405
I think the balance of likelihood points in the direction of a genuine error, but we won’t agree on that. On the rest, there are times when what you call “domination-by-moral-narrative” (though I wouldn’t use that phrase) does have bad effects on policy. There’s certainly a long tradition of criticizing US foreign policy as too preoccupied with high-sounding justifications, and the tone of self-congratulation that often appears in US for. policy pronouncements is usually unhelpful and also often distasteful. Insofar as the tropes of ‘American exceptionalism’ strengthen this rhetorical tendency and its practical implications, I think they should be avoided and/or subjected to criticism. I think I’ll leave it there.

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roger the cabin boy 10.20.16 at 5:15 am

392 Rich I want to thank you for your comment that ended with:”The people who support this are crazy. They are insane and I can only talk to them in the jocular way that you’d talk to people who are suffering from such severe mental illness that there is no way to rationally convince them that their delusions are not real. But these people have not been institutionalized: they are running our institutions.”

Really a good point well made. I appreciate what you are doing here.

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