Balkinization  

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Partisan rant?

Sandy Levinson

“The Republican Administration has shown itself to be completely incompetent to the point that, of Republicans in Iowa, fifty-two per cent thought we should be out of Iraq in six months. This Administration is beyond the pale in terms of arrogance and incompetence. This guy thinks he’s a monarch, and that’s scary as hell.”


It would be easy to dismiss this as just another "partisan rant" from me or one of my liberal-Democratic friends save for the fact that it was said by former Oklahoma Republican Rep. Mickey Edwards. Jeffrey Goldberg, the author of the New Yorker article on "the Republican implosion," notes that Edwards, "who left Congress in 1993 and now teaches at Princeton [after spending several years at the Kennedy School at Harvard], is helping to lead an effort among some conservatives to curtail the President’s power in such areas as warrantless wiretapping." Or consider the founding of a new organization devoted to the "American Freedom Agenda," which includes among its leaders former Reagan Administration DOJ lawyer Bruce Fein, former Georgia Republican Congressman Bob Barr, veteran conservative fund-raiser Richard Viguerie and David Keene, the former aide to Bob Dole who for many years has served as chairman of the American Conservative Union. John Nichols has published a piece for The Nation on this group, who are far more savage in their criticism of the Administration than any "mainstream Democrat" has thought it prudent to be.

"The most conservative principles of the Constitution have been repeatedly violated in the last several years," says Fein. "[The] Founding Fathers engrafted a system of checks and review of one branch by another -- a system of due process safeguards against injustice that is likely to occur because of prejudice and fear. And those checks and balances have eroded enormously over the last several years, particularly since 9/11."

Viguerie is even blunter, suggesting that "a constitutional crisis... has developed to alarming proportion under President George W. Bush."

Rejecting the suggestion that conservatives must remain silent because Bush is supposedly one of their own, Viguerie says, "Conservatives must not fail to oppose the massive expansion of presidential powers out of fear they will be aid and comfort to the Left. Concern about one branch of government acquiring excessive power should not be the providence of liberals, moderates, or conservatives. It must be the concern of all Americans who value liberty…"

Barr echoes that view, arguing that, "[We]" cannot sit by and wait thirty years for court decisions. We cannot wait until another four-year election cycle is concluded to have the Bill of Rights restored and defended."


Some people who read (andrespond) to my (and others') posts on Balkinization believe that our harsh criticisms of Bush and his Administration demonstrate that we are crazed lefties unwilling to stand up for America. My friend Michael Paulsen, responding to a lecture that I gave at the University of Georgia, accused me of engaging in a "partisan rant" when I pointed to some of the Schmittian overtones of Bush's (or, more to the point, John Yoo's) view of executive power under the Constitution. So how, then, does Michael (or any other Republican Party loyalist) analyze Edwards, Fein, Viguerie, Barr, and Keene? Indeed, the ACLU has a whole web site of quotations from "Conservative and Republican Voices Against President Bush’s NSA Spying Program." George Will, for example, refers to the "monarchical doctrine" emanating from the White House these days. And Richard Epstein is only the most prominent academic conservative to join in raising questions about the Administration's commitment to basic constitutional norms. He has, for example, described as "scandalous" the Administration's attempt to sidestep Federalist #69 while offering an ostensibly "originalist" claim that the President is best interpreted as the equivalent of an elected monarch empowered with a Lockean (or Schmittean) "prerogative" to do whatever he/she thinks "necessary" in exigent circumstances. So are all of these well-known Republican conservatives simple apostates, or must even Republicans pay them heed?

There were several Republicans who in 2004 admitted that they were rooting for John Kerry, as they were afraid what another four years of the Bush Administration would do for the Republican Party and for conservative principles. Well, they (and we) have found out. 2008 is shaping up as an ever more interesting "constitutional moment."


Comments:

The critical point is that "conservatives" who oppose Bush must not be permitted to claim that Bush "isn't a conservative". This version of the No True Scotsman fallacy seems to be increasingly popular on the right, as Glenn Greenwald documents.
 

Professor Levinson:

Some people who read (andrespond) to my (and other's) posts on Balkinization believe that our harsh criticisms of Bush and his Administration demonstrate that we are crazed lefties unwilling to stand up for America. My friend Michael Paulsen, responding to a lecture that I gave at the University of Georgia, accused me of engaging in a "partisan rant" when I pointed to some of the Schmittian overtones of Bush's (or, more to the point, John Yoo's) view of executive power under the Constitution. So how, then, does Michael (or any other Republican Party loyalist) analyze Edwards, Fein, Viguerie, Barr, and Keene?

Perhaps the title of your post would be better entitled "Partisan or Ideological Rant?" because you happen to share the same ideology on this one issue, if not partisan affiliation, with this handful of Republicans.

The fact that a handful of Republicans agree with your position hardly makes it a bipartisan position that is much shared outside of the isolationist or extreme libertarian left and right. The positions of the current GOP presidential candidates (apart from libertarian turned GOP Ron Paul) as will as Mrs. Clinton on one of her tacks to the center in opposition to your position and that of the handful of Republicans you cite make it clear where the center right of this country stands.
 

This version of the No True Scotsman fallacy seems to be increasingly popular on the right

Forgive me for saying so, but no one that was truly a member of the center right of this country would use that fallacy right now.
 

Another classic Bart moment: the positions of GOP primary candidates, who by definition are playing to a GOP base well to the right, are supposed to tell us where the "center right" stands.

I guess "double Gitmo!" is what the "center right" wants.
 

@Bart: You still owe some answers around and about, say, for instance, here:

...as if it's not that you run from the fights you inevitably lose on older threads, it's just that you are too busy and important to follow up on the implied social contract created by engaging someone in conversation. You abuse the asynchronous nature of the medium...

Well? Here you are, at it again. You have no right to a voice in this company. That your hosts have better things to do with their time than moderate the uncouth acts of vandals like you doesn't change the nature of who you are or how you operate, you cowardly, lying cheat. Man up, or stand down, soldier.
 

Robert:

Well? Here you are, at it again. You have no right to a voice in this company.

If you want to discuss issues with me unrelated to the posts here, I have given you a forum at my blog.

If your goal is instead to censor positions with which you disagree and cannot rebut in open debate, then you can set up you own blog and ban me from posting there.

However, you are more than a little presumptuous speaking for the hosts of this blog concerning what will and will not be permitted to be posted here. Our hosts have on more than one occasion asked us to keep our posts to the subject of the thread. Try to act the gracious guest and follow their requests.
 

Bart: Try to act the gracious guest and follow their requests.

Ahem. I repeat:

Suddenly you care about the good-will of your hosts. Maybe getting the boot at Glenn Greenwald's taught you that lesson, even if you only seem to recall its importance when you are trying to weasel your way out of a tight spot. As I said before, if you really gave a damn about your hosts you would grow up and learn the rules of honest academic exchange. I'll give you a hint, chickening out when you are on the ropes isn't part of such exchange. Neither is trying to mask your cowardice with breathless concerns over decorum and the genteel sensibilities of your hosts.

This is not the day you will get away with pretending to manners you only even bother to feign because you think they might mask your cowardice; they don't.

Man up, or stand down.
 

"The positions of the current GOP presidential candidates (apart from libertarian turned GOP Ron Paul) as will as Mrs. Clinton on one of her tacks to the center in opposition to your position and that of the handful of Republicans you cite make it clear where the center right of this country stands." BDP

so let me get this straight. The views expressed by the GOP candidates and certain hawkish expressions from HRC represent the "center" in this country.

this nonsense is but the latest example of why you should never argue with bart.

he is wrong on first order questions.

As the GOP Candidates have largely been supportive of Bush and the American people are largely tired of Bush, how do YOU derive a center position from that?
 

i think one could reasonably make the argument that the GOP idiot-bot who stakes claims even more batshit crazy than Bush will ultimately be even more batshit crazy than bush.

look at that walking insurance policy puss filled herpe Dick Cheney.

he's to the right of Bush and guess what. he's more unpopular.
 

batshit-crazy-unpopular than Bush.

must mind my profanity.

apologies ;)
 

It would be easy to dismiss this as just another "partisan rant" from me or one of my liberal- Democratic friends save for the fact that it was said by former Oklahoma Republican Rep. Mickey Edwards.

... Edwards, "who left Congress in 1993 and now teaches at Princeton, is helping to lead an effort among some conservatives to curtail the President’s power in such areas as warrantless wiretapping."

Or consider the founding of a new organization devoted to the "American Freedom Agenda," which includes among its leaders former Reagan Administration DOJ lawyer Bruce Fein, former Georgia Republican Congressman Bob Barr, veteran conservative fund-raiser Richard Viguerie and David Keene, the former aide to Bob Dole who for many years has served as chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Or, if you are Mr. DePalma, you treat these men as crackpots of the right and you look to Gotta Get Mo Gitmo's Romney, or Guilani Time or Crazy John.

Yeah Bart, I bet you feel right at home.

Do you have no sense of decency?

Ban Bart Now!
 

The critical point is that "conservatives" who oppose Bush must not be permitted to claim that Bush "isn't a conservative". This version of the No True Scotsman fallacy seems to be increasingly popular on the right, as Glenn Greenwald documents.

I, for one, find it alarming that favoring endless war, indefinite detention, torture and warrantless surveillance are considered "conservative" positions. I personally consider myself a liberal, but do believe that a democratic, non-authoritarian conservatism is an important element of the body politic.
 

as for this semantic nonsense that Bush is not a conservative.

GOOD!!!!

this is step 1 on how we get to impeachment.

the Rethuglicons are taking a necessary step of separating themselves from him before stabbing him in the back.

payback's a bitch and who else do they have to blame for their disgraceful state of affairs.

they can keep the word conservative if they get rid of bush.

deal?
 

The "center-right" is such a laughable construct. Gee, if we pretend that the far right and the center form some kind of big-tent majority, maybe it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy!

Poll after poll, Independents respond virtually the same as partisan Dems, on nearly every issue. This has been going on for years. Yet extremists like Bart continue to seek comfort in the warm embrace of the "center-right" fiction they have manufactured.

I wonder how many elections it will take for them to catch on.
 

"So are all of these well-known Republican conservatives simple apostates..." - Prof Levinson

I suspect Bart's answer to that question to be YES.
 

Given Bart's former confidence (now removed from his blog) that the Republicans would win the 2006 elections, maybe he is not as good a judge of mainstream opinion as he thinks.
 

WHY?

Why do they hate our freedoms?

Why do they give aid and comfort to our enemies by daring to criticize Herr Busch?
 

The WP, Pew and Gallup generics all no(w) reflect this GOP surge and are now in the ranges they were in the last couple midterm elections where the GOP held onto or expanded their majority in the House.

Also of note, Rasmussen's daily presidential approval poll just spiked with Bush trending to the mid 40s and above.

Posted by: Bart DePalma | November 6, 2006 9:45 AM


bart drawing solace from Rovian mathematics.
 

I, for one, find it alarming that favoring endless war, indefinite detention, torture and warrantless surveillance are considered "conservative" positions. I personally consider myself a liberal, but do believe that a democratic, non-authoritarian conservatism is an important element of the body politic.

The problem is that most self-described "conservatives" signed on to this agenda. For them now to deny that their actions weren't "conservative" would be dishonest. They need to admit forthrightly that they were wrong, and (perhaps more important) that others, mostly liberals, were right. Then, and then only, they can begin to reconstruct a new "conservative" doctrine.
 

many conservatives have an unhealthy respect for authority and, thus are quite sympathetic to their secret knowledge that they were just following orders.

i predict they will turn on Bush, but seek to salvage the appellation conservative by voting him off conservative island.
 

"Bart" DePalma's got a mouse in his pocket again:

he positions of the current GOP presidential candidates (apart from libertarian turned GOP Ron Paul) [...] in opposition to your position and that of the handful of Republicans you cite make it clear where the center right of this country stands.

You misspelled "rabid 28%er dead-enders" there, "Bart". Of course, it's these wingnuts that elect the candidates in the primaries, so no surprise that all dozen or so Republican candidates with the exception of Ron Paul are kissing the red rosies of these foamers.

But ... hate to have to be the one to break it to you, "Bart", and I'll try to do it gently ... but the country has left you and moved on. Suck on your beer and swallow.

Cheers,
 

It is funny to see Professor Levinson attempting to gain legitimacy for his views by citing to "conservative Republicans" who share some of those views followed by a raft of posts claiming that conservatives barely exist anymore.

:::chuckle::::

Who are you trying to convince?
 

Bart,

I assume you consider yourself conservative, a label most of the rest of us do not share, so perhaps it is a bit presumptuous for us to attempt to define conservatism. How would you care to define conservatism for the rest of us?
 

Maybe this is why I can still remain in the Rupublican Party, for as long as one of us says "NO" to unitary authority, torture, theocracy, and the mockery of the rule of Law...then there is hope. Some of us still resist in the ranks in the hope that the ideal of freedom and self governance will return to what was the party of Goldwater and Reagan.


Vive La Resistance!
 

he's not trying to convince you Bart. your mind is made up.
 

The critical point is that "conservatives" who oppose Bush must not be permitted to claim that Bush "isn't a conservative".

Either conservatism has a prescriptive definition, and it is equally legitimate for me to call Bush not-a-conservative as it is for someone to turn around and deny that I am a conservative on that basis, or conservatism is definied descriptively, so that as a part of the conservative political and intellectual movement, Bush is by definition conservastive, and calling him not-a-conservative is itself the True Scotsman fallacy.

I prefer the prescriptive definition, and challenge anyone to come up with a more convincing definition of conservativism than my Burkean one, then defend how Bush isn't the antithesis of it.
 

The following link reveals what Watergate was about -- the "cancer on the presidency" was not confined to Nixon and his aides. The problem is that, once Agnew and Nixon were gone, Congress neglected to finish the job by excising the cancer.

That cancer reasserted itself during the '80s as Iran-Contra -- worse than Watergate at the least because they got away with it.

But the Nixon plan has begun to achieve full flower with Bushit, et al., beginning 1/21/2001. This is what "Brad" so admires as the domestic enemy that he lies is "conservative".

It is a must read (note the name Daniel Schorr as author of the introduction) for the larger reality behind the AG scandal iceberg tip --

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/6/6/182434/8934

It is also reported that Cheney reached into the DOJ and blocked the promotion of a DOJ official because that offical opposed the illegal wiretapping program. Non-lawyer Cheney's legal opinion being superior to the collective judgment of DOJ lawyers.

And a Republican lawyer in AL has come forward with an affidavit based on her witnessing the involvement of Rove in the US AG prosecution of a Democratic governor in that state.

And a second aide to Norton at EPA has plead guilty to several serious charges and agreed to cooperate in the expanding Abramoff investigation.

And in the latest DOJ document dump is an email in which Goodling on the issue of the top secret delegation of hiring and firing authority from Gonzo to her and Samson instructs the recipiant of the email to send her the information "outside the system".

Legitimate conservatives are up in arms, some dozen fake conservative presidential candidates embrace Bushit's anti-American policies, and promise to push them to even greater extremes -- while distancing themselves from Bushit.

So watch the fake conservatives who repudiate Bushit but embrace his morally depraved anti-American policies: their only problem with Bushit is that he is no longer popular. The Christian piety of doubling the size of the international war crime Guananamo, indeed.

But to "Bart" war crimes, and transforming the Federal gov't into Republican National Campaign headquarters, is "patriotic," and those who oppose that subversion of Constitution and rule of law are "traitors".

The link brings it all together.
 

Enlightened Layperson said...

Bart, I assume you consider yourself conservative, a label most of the rest of us do not share, so perhaps it is a bit presumptuous for us to attempt to define conservatism. How would you care to define conservatism for the rest of us?

You make a good point of the hazards of defining modern "conservatism" as well as "liberalism."

The classical definition of conservatives as those who support a society which is grounded in tradition, does not change rapidly and was generally isolationist only tangentially describes the modern Reagan conservative movement.

Reagan conservatism is an alliance between economic classical liberals, social traditional conservatives and foreign policy internationalists and hawks. Thus, as his biographer John Diggins insightfully observes, Reagan "conservatism" is actually in large measure classical liberalism.

Because I fall in the first and third groups in the Reagan alliance, I am even more of a classical liberal than most in the modern "conservative" movement.

It is ironic that today's isolationists (who primarily consider themselves liberals apart from a slice of Buchanan traditional conservatives) call those of us who are muscular internationalists "conservatives" or "far right." In the Fox debate, Ron Paul was right when he observed that his isolationism is actually a foundation of traditional conservatism. The traditional partisan foreign policy alignments reversed during the Cold War. The left turned isolationist because of a reluctance to engage far left communism and because of Vietnam. Reagan pulled the right into a much more muscular internationalism in order to defeat the Soviet Empire. Our positions today are a result of those events a generation ago.
 

Bart: Who are you trying to convince?

Certainly not you, you cowardly, lying cheat. Recall when I said:

you speak very strongly and derisively...until you are in a losing position. Then you tuck tail and run.

Seems it's more of same today, eh? You have nothing substantive to say or add, and you seem not to be man enough to answer in many other threads where you've been challenged, but like a little child you can't resist throwing spit-wads when you think no one will call you on it. What a shame. What a waste. And in an hour or two you will find yourself, as usual, backed into a corner and then you will disappear to a new thread rather than show any moxie where you've been challenged, and all because you never learned that honor demands you take your lumps on occasion. Or maybe you learned it but it just doesn't apply to you because you have no honor. Same result either way, eh?

Ever find that text in the MCA, the part that prevents the government from disappearing people? Me neither. Funny, eh?
 

"Bart" DePalma:

Reagan conservatism is an alliance between economic classical liberals, social traditional conservatives and foreign policy internationalists and hawks. Thus, as his biographer John Diggins insightfully observes, Reagan "conservatism" is actually in large measure classical liberalism.

Because I fall in the first and third groups in the Reagan alliance, I am even more of a classical liberal than most in the modern "conservative" movement.


Reworking an old joke:

Lawyer to a farmer beside the road: "There's not much distance between you and a Nazi, is there?"

Farmer to the lawyer: "No sir, just the side of the road."

Without more 'meat' on the 'description' "Bart" gives of "economic classic liberal[ism]", I don't know if I can readily discern the difference between his views and Hitler's.

I'd note that "Bart"'s previouw musings about whites being outbred by those nasty schwarzers and such certainly place in doubt his views as to the second criterion, not to mention his anti-abortion views. I have a hard time thinking of any instance of "Bart" showing signs of "social traditional [liberalism]".

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma:

It is ironic that today's isolationists (who primarily consider themselves liberals apart from a slice of Buchanan traditional conservatives) call those of us who are muscular internationalists "conservatives" or "far right."

Clue fer ya, "Bart": There's a difference between "isolationism" and opposing stoopid, sanguinary, and unnecessary agressive wars of imperial conquest and occupation.

Of course, to a person with one neurone to his name, and a consequent two possible logical "states", that might not be obvious.

Cheers,
 

"Bart":

Reagan pulled the right into a much more muscular internationalism ...

Two words that show "Bart" for the fool he is: "Lebanon". And "Grenada".

Cheers,
 

Bart: It is funny to see Professor Levinson attempting to gain legitimacy for his views by citing to "conservative Republicans" who share some of those views followed by a raft of posts claiming that conservatives barely exist anymore.

Perhaps the biggest club in the sophist's arsenal is simple mendacity, ala The
Big Lie
. A willingness to simply lie with a straight face is itself a tremendous resource for some kinds of work.

But there are lies and there are lies. One kind of lie is the lie-by-misdirection, such as Bart's attempt, above, to muddy the waters by stirring the pot. The conversation has quite legitimately turned to include the question of what defines conservativism, lead by Mark Field's observation, "The critical point is that 'conservatives' who oppose Bush must not be permitted to claim that Bush 'isn't a conservative'." Mark then invokes the "No True Scotsman" fallacy, and the door is open to the subtle and slippery world where what walks and quacks like a duck may nonetheless be something other than a "true" duck, at least as far as there is something to be gained for the sophist in making such a claim.

Into this discussion Bart's best contribution is the above. Taken at its most innocent it bespeaks of a
childish inability to parse the distinctions in question. But we have reason to believe Bart's failings are not in his capacity to parse arguments, but rather his moral capacity to argue in service of clarity rather than mere partisan posturing.

And so he lies, as above, and in his lie invites further confusion. At this point the ways of the sophist overlap with the ways of the troll; both are more than willing to muddy the waters as need be, said need being dictated by their idiosyncratic agendas. Arguably the sophist does it to keep from losing where he cannot win, where the troll does it for mere ego gratification at making a mess. Perhaps in this case both apply.

Post Script: As if karmically doomed to make for me my point about how he gratuitously seeks to muddy the waters, during the time I was composing the above and attending to other matters Bart posted, "Reagan "conservatism" is actually in large measure classical liberalism." To steal a phrase, :::chuckle::: Bart does us all a great public service with these constant examples of how cowardly, lying cheats do what they do. Study well, the better to shoot them down whenever they show their shameless faces.
 

Anyone else notice that after days of being called pusillanimous Bart seems to have developed a liking for the word "muscular" with respect to policies he supports, as if somehow the manliness will cling to him by osmosis?

Meanwhile, I'm surprised not to see "muscular" on Newt's 1996 GOPAC memo titled, "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control" (perhaps better titled as "The Official Primer on Sophistry By Selection of Adjective.") I'd love to see the current word list. And it cannot be overstated how valuable and important such methods are for folks such as Bart who have no substantive contributions to make.
 

Reagan conservatism is an alliance between economic classical liberals, social traditional conservatives and foreign policy internationalists and hawks. Thus, as his biographer John Diggins insightfully observes, Reagan "conservatism" is actually in large measure classical liberalism.

Opposing government regulation is, indeed, classical liberalism. But this classical liberalism with a very different economy than we have today. Whatever the theory, advocating maximum liberty from regulation for large and powerful corporations amounts to upholding the interests of entrenched economic power. I would define that as conservative.

It is ironic that today's isolationists (who primarily consider themselves liberals apart from a slice of Buchanan traditional conservatives) call those of us who are muscular internationalists "conservatives" or "far right." In the Fox debate, Ron Paul was right when he observed that his isolationism is actually a foundation of traditional conservatism.

American isolationism is a myth. Our supposed isolationism never kept us from regularly sending in the Marines to intervene in Central America or the Carribbean, nor did it prevent us from forming an island empire in the Pacific. Right wing "isolationism" has always meant isolation from Europe because the European powers were too strong to push around, and we would be forced to treat them with some respect. Our policy was isolationist from any potential allies and interventionist where we could throw our weight around as we pleased.

George W. Bush believed (or believes) that the US, as the world's sole superpower, can push anyone around as we please, and he intends to do just that. His unilateralism is just isolationism gone global.
 

Enlightened Layperson:

Opposing government regulation is, indeed, classical liberalism. But this classical liberalism with a very different economy than we have today. Whatever the theory, advocating maximum liberty from regulation for large and powerful corporations amounts to upholding the interests of entrenched economic power. I would define that as conservative.

Some would call that "corporatism" (search that word here). ;-)

Cheers,
 

Arne Langsetmo said...

Clue fer ya, "Bart": There's a difference between "isolationism" and opposing stoopid, sanguinary, and unnecessary agressive wars of imperial conquest and occupation.

That certainly sounds like a traditionally isolationist refrain. However, I will give you a chance to prove me wrong:

Name a single country into which you would send military forces to engage and defeat al Qaeda.
 

Enlightened Layperson said...

Opposing government regulation is, indeed, classical liberalism. But this classical liberalism with a very different economy than we have today. Whatever the theory, advocating maximum liberty from regulation for large and powerful corporations amounts to upholding the interests of entrenched economic power. I would define that as conservative.

Actually traditional conservatism and big business preferred tariffs and other legal restrictions on competition while classical liberals like Adam Smith argued for free markets. Regulations harm smaller competitors far more than large corporations.

American isolationism is a myth. Our supposed isolationism never kept us from regularly sending in the Marines to intervene in Central America or the Carribbean, nor did it prevent us from forming an island empire in the Pacific. Right wing "isolationism" has always meant isolation from Europe because the European powers were too strong to push around, and we would be forced to treat them with some respect. Our policy was isolationist from any potential allies and interventionist where we could throw our weight around as we pleased.

You make a good point that American isolationism is mostly based on a fear of engaging in any sort of military campaign which does not promise a cheap and easy victory. This explains the isolationist reaction to the Iraq War perfectly.

George W. Bush believed (or believes) that the US, as the world's sole superpower, can push anyone around as we please, and he intends to do just that. His unilateralism is just isolationism gone global.

Would you care to expand on the last sentence? You have lost me.
 

"Bart" DePalma moves the goal posts:

[Arne]: Clue fer ya, "Bart": There's a difference between "isolationism" and opposing stoopid, sanguinary, and unnecessary a[g]gressive wars of imperial conquest and occupation.

That certainly sounds like a traditionally isolationist refrain....


... to the unschooled and possible brain-damaged.

... However, I will give you a chance to prove me wrong:

Name a single country into which you would send military forces to engage and defeat al Qaeda.


I'm not going to play your silly game with all its "framing", hidden assumptions, and question begging, "Bart". The above does nothing to "prove [you] wrong", and it is in fact your job as the proponent of a claim (that I am some kind of "isolationist" to prove yourself right. If you can do so solely on my well-known (and stated before the fact) opposition to the occupation of Iraq, go for it, big boy. So, I respectfully decline you invitation until such time as you prove to the satisfaction of all here that you are not an axe-murdering pederast.

But, I will use the opportunity to make an "inside" (read: "geek") reference:

"Name a single country into which you would send military forces to engage and defeat al Qaeda."

How about: "~Iraq".

Of course, should you not be satisfied, I could persist with: "~Albania. ~Algeria. ~Andorra. ~Angola. ~Antigua & Barbuda (although I volunteer for the IEF)...."

Strangely, the elements of the list have something in common.

Let me know when you want to get serious about a discussion rather than engaging in rhetorical sophistry and logical fallacies.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma [to Enlightened Layperson]:

You make a good point that American isolationism is mostly based on a fear of engaging in any sort of military campaign which does not promise a [...] victory. This explains the ["isolationist"] reaction to the Iraq War perfectly.

Yep, kind of sums it up. "Into the valley of death rode the six hundred...." We could go into detail as to why we saw no "promise" of "victory", but suffice it to say that subsequent events have rendered that, for the most part and for most people, unnecessary.

Of course, implicit in "Bart"'s 'argument' here -- as is nearly always the case for "Bart" -- is a logical fallacy, in this case a fallacy of bifurcation.

Cheers,
 

When given a lemon, make lemonade. Bart and others are raising an important point re exactly how we identify "conservative" positions. Some of you may recall that Louis Hartz famously argued that there was a hegemonic "liberal tradition in America," and that, with very rare exceptions, most American "conservatives" spoke in a "liberal voice." This is certainly true with regard to free-market conservatives, for example, who are in fact heirs of 19th century liberals.

Few American "conservatives" in fact want a union of church and states (particularly of the Catholic Church and the state), which was, of course, one of the defining issues of the French Revolution and its aftermath. The contemporary battles over religion and the state are, at the end of the day, pretty tame in the context of the French Revolution and the conflict between anti-clericalists, on one side, and "restorationist" Catholics on the other.

And it should be acknowledged that George W. Bush speaks the language, whether or not he is sincere, of Wilsonian messianic liberalism of democracy for all rather than a more dourly conservative notion of balance of power and suppression of democracy.

This is, incidentally, one reason that Democrats remain quite divided about what it means to be "anti-Bush" on foreign policy. There is complete unity on the incompetence with which this war was conducted and on the mendacity with which it was entered into. But there is certainly no agreement on what should happen next, as David Broder argues in an interesting column in today's Wasington Post.
 

arne:

"Name a single country into which you would send military forces to engage and defeat al Qaeda."

How about: "~Iraq".

Of course, should you not be satisfied, I could persist with: "~Albania. ~Algeria. ~Andorra. ~Angola. ~Antigua & Barbuda (although I volunteer for the IEF)...."


I will take your Iraq response in the unserious tongue and cheek spirit in which it was offered and assume that you cannot think of a single country where you would engage the enemy.

I only asked for a single country to confirm your isolationism because no one is advocating that the US invade every country with an al Qaeda cell as you snidely implied. Rather, we have to pick and choose our fights as in any war.

It is perfectly reasonable to be an internationalist and question engaging the enemy on one country rather than in another. However, refusing to engage the enemy anywhere outside of US borders is the epitome of isolationism.
 

Bart,

You make a good point that American isolationism is mostly based on a fear of engaging in any sort of military campaign which does not promise a cheap and easy victory. This explains the isolationist reaction to the Iraq War perfectly.

Arne Langsetmo said...

Clue fer ya, "Bart": There's a difference between "isolationism" and opposing stoopid, sanguinary, and unnecessary agressive wars of imperial conquest and occupation.

That certainly sounds like a traditionally isolationist refrain.


Um, Bart, there is a good reason to want, when possible, to avoid wars in general, and long, brutal, bloody wars especially. This is not isolationism; it is common sense. It is at least a feasible position to want to avoid all overseas military engagements (although I would consider such a view unrealistic). But to be generically in favor of all overseas wars, no matter how long and bloody is absurd. Yet you appear to be calling Arne an isolationist because he does not take a generic position in favor all overseas wars.

As for my comment that Bush's unilateralism is just isolationism writ large, our "isolationism" was never absolute. Whether we isolated from Europe because we feared serious conflict or because we feared having to make concessions to allies, we were energetic interventionists in Central American and the Carribbean. We acted as unilateralists in our own "backyard," imposing our will as we pleased.

What I am saying is that George W. Bush thought he could treat the entire world as our own "backyard," like Central America and the Carribbean of the past, and impose our will as we pleased.
 

Bart, to Arne: I will take your Iraq response in the unserious tongue and cheek spirit in which it was offered...

Yet another flat lie. How do you sleep? Arne directly challenged your illegitimate efforts to beg your question, when he said:

"I'm not going to play your silly game with all its 'framing', hidden assumptions, and question begging, 'Bart'. The above does nothing to 'prove [you] wrong', and it is in fact your job...to prove yourself right."

But, in typical coward's fashion, you chose to sidestep the substantive challenge and try to divert the conversation if you can.

You can't.

Your question is not apropos, but instead, as Arne rightly points out, is a bit of sophistical fluff of no more merit than was the question he posed to you. And you know it. What none of us know is why such an ostensibly well schooled chap as yourself should so completely rely on this kind of cheap trick. Is it so easy to do well in the DUI biz where you're at?
 

Professor Levinson said: When given a lemon, make lemonade. Bart and others are raising an important point re exactly how we identify "conservative" positions.

Respectfully, Sir, I submit that you give too much credit to the man you seem to see in some kind of "underdog" position. Bart has not raised any issues, but instead has consistently worked to cloud issues. It is nothing short of a shame that you elevate him as you do when a none-too-close-read is adequate to establish that he is not a good-faith player here. I recall at least one other occasion on which you questioned the amount of ire he arouses, and ask only that you consider the possibility that he has in fact earned it. If it is a discussion you wish to engage I suspect I could garner a fair few witnesses to support my position, however I don't for a moment suppose you want that level of meta-discussion in the comments threads. Maybe those of us who feel abused by this miscreant should instead email you and our other hosts with our complaints?

In particular, I am aware of the distaste many of us have for the aggressively confrontational tone I have taken with Bart, myself included. But, as I said most recently here, the man abuses the asynchronous nature of the medium and regularly fails to live up to what I describe as "the implied social contract created by engaging someone in conversation." It has at times been the case that the only way to provoke Bart to engage in substantive argument is to personalize matters, as with our ongoing wrangle over the legalization of governmental "disappearing" of political opponents inherent in the text of the MCA; he would not address the matter in the generic, but did finally respond when the matter was made childishly personal.

Also note, please, I have reached out to the man, invited personal correspondence to take the edge off the rancor. Again and again I have invoked the principles of dialectic and what Professor Tamanaha describes as "honest academic exchange." By and large Bart seem either incapable of, or patently disinterested, in same.

Not for nothing, I suspect, was he eventually given the boot at Glenn Greenwald's. If you know the man perhaps he can shed some light for you and our other hosts on just what those of us here in the comments threads deal with on a regular basis. But I assure you of this, the level of discourse suffers greatly because of his presence. Conversely, discourse and analysis in the comments threads at Balkinizatin would indeed be vastly better off without him.
 

Enlightened Layperson said...

Um, Bart, there is a good reason to want, when possible, to avoid wars in general, and long, brutal, bloody wars especially. This is not isolationism; it is common sense.

Agreed. However, when a foreign enemy is attacking you, you cannot avoid the war. When you will not militarily engage an enemy overseas where they live, that is isolationism.

It is at least a feasible position to want to avoid all overseas military engagements (although I would consider such a view unrealistic).

Not if you have overseas interests. It will be inevitable that someone will war on you in that case. The Barbary Pirate Wars is a good example of how a weak isolationist nation who trades overseas gets dragged into wars. Our interests are much more substantial now.

But to be generically in favor of all overseas wars, no matter how long and bloody is absurd. Yet you appear to be calling Arne an isolationist because he does not take a generic position in favor all overseas wars.

No, I am calling arne (and anyone else) to task for his isolationism because he cannot think of any instance he would go to war to stop a foreign enemy from warring on his country.
 

Robert:

How does my question - Name a single country into which you would send military forces to engage and defeat al Qaeda? - "beg the question?"

My argument is that a person who will not engage a foreign enemy which is warring on him anywhere outside the borders of the country is an isolationist.

If you disagree with the argument, make your case rather than avoiding the issue like arne.
 

Bart and others are raising an important point re exactly how we identify "conservative" positions.

The trouble is, of course, that terms like "conservative" and "liberal" don't refer to things in the real world. They are, instead, analytic categories we use to group together people who share overlapping similarities. Thus, for example, A is a "conservative" because he believes in a small federal government even if he doesn't care one way or the other about abortion. Similarly, B is "conservative" because she opposes abortion even if she favors a strong federal government.

Occasionally a single issue becomes so significant that it alone serves as the defining characteristic. Thus, the French Revolution served that function, as did the New Deal. Even in those cases, though, shared agreement on those issues didn't necessarily bring with it shared agreement on others. It simply made for easy classification.

As I indicated in my post above, I believe that "Bushism" has come to be one of those defining terms. "Conservatives" are, by definition, those who supported Bush and cheered his policies. "Liberals", in contrast, opposed him and them.

What people tend to do, though, is define for themselves what it is that makes a "true" conservative. That's fine for each individual, but it becomes incoherent when applied to groups. People who fail to make this distinction are simply not thinking through the issue or they're being disingenuous.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

["Bart"]: "Name a single country into which you would send military forces to engage and defeat al Qaeda."

[Arne]: How about: "~Iraq".

[Arne]: Of course, should you not be satisfied, I could persist with: "~Albania. ~Algeria. ~Andorra. ~Angola. ~Antigua & Barbuda (although I volunteer for the IEF)...."

I will take your Iraq response in the unserious tongue and cheek spirit in which it was offered and assume that you cannot think of a single country where you would engage the enemy.


So you're as clueless about computer programming as you are about science ... and even Constitutional law.... I was quite serious about "~Iraq", and I've hardly been shy about saying such for half a decade now.

I only asked for a single country to confirm your isolationism ...

I was just giving you examples of countries (and there are a lot of them) that are acknowledged by most people not to be over-run by (or under the thumb of) al Qaeda, and thus not particularly apt targets for military invasions right at this time. This, of course, went right over your head, "Bart". Dunno if you have your countries memorized alphabetically, but if you were real perceptive, you might have noted the absense of one there even in that little list....

... because no one is advocating that the US invade every country with an al Qaeda cell as you snidely implied....

Oh, really? Well then, Mr. "Invade them 'just in case' and let Gawd sort it out; he will surely know his own", what solution do you propose for countries that don't harbour al Qaeda (you know, like Iraq.... and before you go off on a Freeper rant, I'd note that even the maladministration didn't hang their hat on this 'excuse' to go and attack Iraq; they had to make up the WoMD "mushroom cloud" crapola)?

... Rather, we have to pick and choose our fights as in any war.

True. But sometimes, as the WOPR said, it's simply better not to choose. It's not like the world is suffering from warfare-withdrawal-disorder and needs a good shot to keep neocons and Dubya sycophants virile.

It is perfectly reasonable to be an internationalist and question engaging the enemy on one country rather than in another. However, refusing to engage the enemy anywhere outside of US borders is the epitome of isolationism.

I'd have to say that I haven't seen too many places so far (and certainly fewer than you) where such action would be justified in the first instance, even before calmly reflecting on whether such action could be expected to be effective or wise in the larger context of things. Afghanistan comes closest to such, but I think that there's at least an argument to be made that we should have given the Taliban at least a chance to come round themselves before action was taken. Needless to say though, even though action in Afghanistan was probably justifiable, the way the maladministration did it was once again incompetent and is becoming increasingly unsuccessful in part due to that incompetence.... Not to mention: Where's bin Laden?

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma:

However, when a foreign enemy is attacking you, you cannot avoid the war....

The question is: Is it really a war? Murder, rape, mayhem, and, yes, even terrorism, are as old as the Holey Babble itself. That doesn't make terrorist attacks a "war" any more than murders are "war" ... or, for that mattter, that the "War on Drugs" is a "war".

... When you will not militarily engage an enemy overseas where they live, that is isolationism.

False. Simply false. Or perhaps we ought to start calling your beloved Sir Ronnie an "isolationist" of the first order, eh? The only people he attacked were cops and such on a sunny Caribbean isle that hosted a med school for rich loser twerps too stoopid to get in to med school here.....

Cheers,
 

Arne Langsetmo said...

["Bart"]: "Name a single country into which you would send military forces to engage and defeat al Qaeda."

[Arne]: How about: "~Iraq".

[Bart]: I will take your Iraq response in the unserious tongue and cheek spirit in which it was offered and assume that you cannot think of a single country where you would engage the enemy.

[arne]: I was quite serious about "~Iraq", and I've hardly been shy about saying such for half a decade now.

I was just giving you examples of countries (and there are a lot of them) that are acknowledged by most people not to be over-run by (or under the thumb of) al Qaeda, and thus not particularly apt targets for military invasions right at this time.


What are you talking about?

I asked you to name a country you would invade to engage and defeat al Qaeda.

You name Iraq and then explain that Iraq is among the countries we should not invade to engage al Qaeda.

Do you even understand my simple question?

If so, stop obfuscating and give an honest answer.

[Bart]: When you will not militarily engage an enemy overseas where they live, that is isolationism.

False. Simply false. Or perhaps we ought to start calling your beloved Sir Ronnie an "isolationist" of the first order, eh? The only people he attacked were cops and such on a sunny Caribbean isle that hosted a med school for rich loser twerps too stoopid to get in to med school here.....


You might want to brush up on your history. Reagan waged proxy wars all over the world against the Soviet Empire including Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Angola. Moreover, the CIA engaged in active sabotage inside the Soviet Empire itself, which were acts of war in themselves.

Usually, I get the refrain from the left that Reagan was a reckless warmonger. You are taking a new tack.
 

Baghdad Bart: You might want to brush up on your history. Reagan waged proxy wars all over the world against the Soviet Empire including Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Angola. Moreover, the CIA engaged in active sabotage inside the Soviet Empire itself, which were acts of war in themselves.

Proxy wars and sabotage are not the same as invasions, and you are demanding that people tell you where we should invade in order to prove they're not isolationists.
 

"Bart" DePalma is one confoozed sumbitch:

[Arne]: I was just giving you examples of countries (and there are a lot of them) that are acknowledged by most people not to be over-run by (or under the thumb of) al Qaeda, and thus not particularly apt targets for military invasions right at this time.

What are you talking about?

I asked you to name a country you would invade to engage and defeat al Qaeda.

You name Iraq and then explain that Iraq is among the countries we should not invade to engage al Qaeda.


Very good. There's hope for you yet to reach eighth-grade reading comprehension level.

Do you even understand my simple question?

Yes. You didn't understand my reply. Here, for the brain-damaged, there's two parts with relevant portions bolded:

[Arne]: "Dunno if you have your countries memorized alphabetically, but if you were real perceptive, you might have noted the absense of one there even in that little list...."

and (if that was too much for you):

[Arne]: "I'd have to say that I haven't seen too many places so far (and certainly fewer than you) where such action would be justified in the first instance, even before calmly reflecting on whether such action could be expected to be effective or wise in the larger context of things. Afghanistan comes closest to such, but I think that there's at least an argument to be made that we should have given the Taliban at least a chance to come round themselves before action was taken. Needless to say though, even though action in Afghanistan was probably justifiable, the way the maladministration did it was once again incompetent and is becoming increasingly unsuccessful in part due to that incompetence.... Not to mention: Where's bin Laden?"

If so, stop obfuscating and give an honest answer.

I did. and I gave you more than you ever deserved with your silly little game of changing (or obfuscating) the subject.

Your lack of reading comprehension is not something that is within my power to cure (if indeed treatable at all).

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma kisses the rotting, dessicated a$$ of a demented fool:

[Arne]: Or perhaps we ought to start calling your beloved Sir Ronnie an "isolationist" of the first order, eh? The only people he attacked were cops and such on a sunny Caribbean isle that hosted a med school for rich loser twerps too stoopid to get in to med school here.....

You might want to brush up on your history. Reagan waged proxy wars all over the world against the Soviet Empire including Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Angola.


(Leaving aside the fact that the "proxy war" in Nicaragua was an insurgency to overthrow the Nicaraguan gummint; see Kinzer's "Overthrow", which "Bart" still hasn't read): Those were "proxy wars". Not "countr[ies] into which you would send military forces to engage and defeat [some enemy]".

And FWIW, just how successfull were these little "proxy wars"? By my reckoning, hundreds of thousands of deaths, and results marginal at best.

... Moreover, the CIA engaged in active sabotage inside the Soviet Empire itself, which were acts of war in themselves.

Well, yeah, if you think that Jack Bauer is a real gummint agent and are similarly gullible about fantastic claims of secret gummint projects to insert viruses into 8080 microcode with triggers to blow up only those processors in the oil pipelines in some external signal. "Bart", do you also camp out at Area 51 and make annual pilgrimages to Roswell?

Usually, I get the refrain from the left that Reagan was a reckless warmonger. You are taking a new tack.

Oh, he was. But he was first and foremost Hollywood, a figurehead and an actor. All blow and no show. Nothing incompatible in this assessment.

Cheers,
 

Bart: ...a person who will not engage a foreign enemy which is warring on him anywhere outside the borders of the country is an isolationist.

First, your argument, above, is constructed along the lines of Syntactic Ambiguity, although in context it is fair to assume you mean "a person who will not engage anywhere outside of the country" rather than the equally available "foreign enemy which is warring on him anywhere outside the country". That is, "anywhere outside the country" can reasonably be understood, absent context, to apply equally to either "a person who will not engage" or to "a foreign enemy". I seriously doubt you use such language with any conscious intent (nor even actual understanding) but it is worth noting that such constructs are, as I have said elsewhere, the structure of double talk and flimflam. It is important to remember that as with any tool, the value of these patterns is determined by your use of them.

The real winner, in terms of your habit of begging the question, is the little word "warring". As has been amply pointed out, the word "war" comes in various flavors. For example, from my repeal-aumf.org site:

Excerpted from Hypertext Webster Gateway:

War, n. 1. A contest between nations or states...armed conflict of sovereign powers. [1913 Webster]

Despite a modern trend to use the word for any conflict, such as "price wars" between competing retailers, or to end something injurious, such as the famous "war on poverty," when the Constitution speaks of war it refers to "a contest between nations or states." But the international criminals who perpetrated the crimes of September 11, 2001 use the word "war" in its rhetorical sense, despite not being a nation or a state or a sovereign power; this is in turn exploited by the current President and his administration to claim powers reserved in the Constitution for conficts between nations and to use them, allegedly, in service of bringing an end to something injurious. By the same reasoning Lyndon Johnson could have asked for the same powers in the "war" on poverty, which kills many more people than all the terrorists of all affiliation will ever kill.


You have tried a simple cheat here, in that while al Qeada unmistakably "wars" on the US in one sense it just as unmistakably by definition cannot "war" on us in the only sense reasonably implied in a discussion of "isolationism."

But we're not done yet. The very first unspoken premise in your "argument" is that "isolationist" is pejorative. And this is where you really are king, at the initial framing by use of implication, insinuation, the unspoken but inescapably presupposed. It's one of the reasons I can't get enough of you: In time you will probably give me examples of each and every presuppositional syntactic environment of which I am aware, and in exactly the context which I most desire, that of the illegitimate sophist plying his trade, such as when you write, "It is funny to see Professor Levinson attempting to gain legitimacy for his views..." The clause, "it is funny" literally presupposes without evidence (i.e., begs the quetsion of) the existence of that to which it refers. The clause "attempting to gain legitimacy" likewise presupposes a) he might (or has) fail (failed), b) he hasn't sufficient (or any) extant legitimacy, c) (by implication from b) his claims are illegitimate. Note that you would never come right out and say, "Hey, Prof, I think your position is illegitimate" and encourage a dialog to address the issue. Much more to your liking is the passive-aggressive route of presupposing that which you would otherwise have to prove.

And, bless me! but you're good at it.

You have attempted exactly this kind of cheap trick with the word isolationist. It's the same kind of cheap trick Newt exhorts in his 1996 GOPAC memo that I linked to up-thread. And I'll go you one further. You use "isolationist" in an effectively pejorative manner such that it's tough for anyone to accept the label. Similarly your partisans presuppose pejorative connotations for the word "activist". But this just shows how the landscape changes, for "activist" is actually on Newt's 1996 list of "good words to use when describing the GOP". In the eleven years since that writing the landscape has changed and now no one would ever think of describing counter-majoritarians Scalia or Roberts as "activist" judges, not even if they were to hand the GOP another election as was done in 2000.

So, the very first question you beg is that to be isolationist is to be bad. You presuppose it by connotation but don't even begin to reach a substantive support of such a claim. The next question you beg is that pursuit of the international criminals who perpetrated the attacks of September 11, 2001 are so constituted as to be appropriate subjects for discussion in a context of the already presupposed to be pejorative isolationist's acts. Then you pose a question which, even overlooking the ambiguities inherent in your sloppy phrasing, seeks to further move discussion away from the substance of that which you would like to posit without ever having to actually support.

Bart, I know there are a lot of words in this comment, many of them comprised of two or more syllables, so I don't really expect you to understand it all. Maybe your time would be better spent looking for the text in the MCA which precludes governmental "disappearing" of political opponents. After all these months you must be, what, half way through by now? And until then, and until you have answered a fair few other challenges, you really only make that much more of an ass of your cowardly, lying cheat's self every time you show your face around here.

Man up, soldier, or stand down.

Post Script: I suppose I should acknowledge you for taking the initial step of transforming your bogus challenge to Arne, "Name a single country into which you would send military forces to engage and defeat al Qaeda", replete as it is with illegitimate presuppositions, into the more direct, "...a person who will not engage a foreign enemy which is warring on him anywhere outside the borders of the country is an isolationist. This post would be longer still had I been made to carry that burden of moving from the one to the other, and it's rare that you violate the principles of sophistry so completely, so I suppose even a measure of thanks are in order.

Thanks.
 

Robert [to "Bart"]:

Man up, soldier, or stand down.

He's already 'stood down'. Whenever he takes a pasting, he abandons the thread. His modus operandi from way back when. I tell you, whle "Bart" might have had fun on the "turkey shoot" on the 'Road of Death' in GW1, I'd say that "Bart"'s one of the last people I'd want in a foxhole next t me when real bullets start winging back. I'd be afraid of a Paris Hilton "Mommy, mommy" moment, instead of a new ammo web or supressing fire.

Cheers,
 

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