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Bloggingheads
04-03-2008, 05:59 PM

Eastwest
04-03-2008, 07:12 PM
Bob and Mickey should just ignore the commenters.

a) They're totally unrepresentative of the actual "viewer base."

b) Commenters, almost by their very nature, are digital piranha delighting not so much in truth, civility, or elevated meaning as in scoring points and hopefully extracting a little blood through artful or not-so-artful snark.

So, relax, you're real audience loves you.

I'd go on in this vein, but, having lifted up one corner of the argument, being good students, you can infer the other three.

Cheers (and thanks to BHTV for the access to so many deep conversations from so many different points of view),

EW

Joel_Cairo
04-03-2008, 07:28 PM
I'm pretty sure Mickey is wrong, here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9915?in=00:40:38&out=00:41:09), in saying Bob was all wetting-the-bed in fear of blowback after Saddam's death tape leaked.

For whatever reason, Dingalinks don't "take" on diavlogs past a certain vintage, but if one goes to this 1/3/07 diavlog (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/150) and scroll to 2:08 within the first chapter ("Saddam cell phone snuff film"), Bob says, perfectly clamly and with little concern:
You can imagine some jihadists making use of that video, all though of course traditionally he is not a friend of the jihadists... it plays a lot worse outside or Iraq than within it. I'm sure a lot of Sunnis are gonna hate it, but they were about as worked up as they were gonna get; I don't see it giving them a major energy boost or anything

Now of course we could get some people in here to dispute the first lineBob said, but that's not the issue. One thing Bob certainly doesn't say is anything approximating what Mickey misattributes to him. So what's the deal Mickey? Why you gotta play Bob like that?

otto
04-03-2008, 07:34 PM
Mickey reads the second page of comments?!? I didn't think anyone read the second page of comments.

harkin
04-03-2008, 07:37 PM
Bob, do you realize that when you throw in your 'immigrants?' question on what might be bothering Mickey, you automatically disqualify yourself by refusing to include the word 'iilegal'?

If you don't understand Mickey's position, how could you possibly begin to have a valid opinion on it?

Nate
04-03-2008, 07:39 PM
I look forward to seeing the traveling version of Bob vs Mickey next week.

bjkeefe
04-03-2008, 07:47 PM
Bob and Mickey should just ignore the commenters.

a) They're totally unrepresentative of the actual "viewer base."

b) Commenters, almost by their very nature, are digital piranha delighting not so much in truth, civility, or elevated meaning as in scoring points and hopefully extracting a little blood through artful or not-so-artful snark.

Says the first pirhana, uh, I mean, guy to post a comment.

bjkeefe
04-03-2008, 08:38 PM
My moment of infamy (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9915?in=01:47&out=01:57), which Mickey attempts to undermine (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9915?in=00:55&out=01:13). For the record, I deny that Mickey is the finest American I have ever known, I deny ever having said that, and I call upon Mickey to produce documentation to back up his assertion. Which he can't do. Which he won't even try to do, because that one day last week of reading comments doubtless cleared his conscience for the next year.

The most modern (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9915?in=19:40&out=19:45) pop-culture reference Bob has ever made!

Always good: Recognition of strengths (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9915?in=08:07&out=08:12) and stating achievable corporate goals (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9915?in=62:00&out=62:05).

Unrelated: I have long had my suspicions about the true meaning of the name piscivorous. I am dubious that it has anything to do with dietary preferences, and instead expresses that said persona, in fact, claims to be something like a cunning linguist. Pisc, do you deny?

harkin
04-03-2008, 08:53 PM
I'm glad that both Mickey and Bob used the term 'race' (re: eugenics) when what I'm hoping they meant was 'species'.

This at least precludes anyone demonizing the Mickster without also throwing Basra Bob under the bus.

uncle ebeneezer
04-03-2008, 09:28 PM
b) Commenters, almost by their very nature, are digital piranha delighting not so much in truth, civility, or elevated meaning as in scoring points and hopefully extracting a little blood through artful or not-so-artful snark

EastWest, don't be so hard on yourself. Your comments (the ones that don't mention Obama and his supporters) are always excellent.

Seriously, what forum(s) are you comparing this too? Civility seems higher, point-scoring snark is far less prominent and elevated meaning (especially on Sci Sats) is much more apparent on this forum than most of the other forums I have seen.

Wonderment
04-03-2008, 09:37 PM
Commenters, almost by their very nature, are digital piranha delighting not so much in truth, civility, or elevated meaning as in scoring points and hopefully extracting a little blood through artful or not-so-artful snark.So, relax, you're real audience loves you.

And pedants! That would be "your real audience," not "you're."

I won't watch vlogs with Mickey anymore. Mickey is a bigot. Every time I hear his snide rants about Mexican immigrants, "welfare" and prisons, I want to vomit.

Bob is a serious thinker whose values I share and whose contributions to our intellectual culture I treasure. What on earth is he doing wasting his time with this schlub?

Grace
04-03-2008, 10:01 PM
I agree.

I've only commented twice. The first time to chide Bob for giggling at Mormon holy garments. I was called a prude, and quickly scuttled back to my lurking spot.

In my second post I cheered the return of the weekly Mickey/Bob diavlogs, even confessing that I a few months ago I recognized Mickey's brother in our local supermarket (from BH.TV), and said to him that Bloggingheads rules. And now I learn that Mickey worries about those of us who cheered his more frequent visits--that perhaps we're a little off.

Hmmmm.

I'm still glad he's back. Even when they talk about nothing, I enjoy the banter. But perhaps I'll scuttle back to the no comment zone for another rest.

bham
04-03-2008, 10:23 PM
It's interesting that the first and ONLY gripe Mickey mentioned with regard to racial views was blacks towards whites. Furthermore, when Bob mentioned that it may be an old school reaction by older blacks from the Jim Crow era faced severe racism in their daily lives, Mickey claimed "or it might just be a lazy habit". Anger and resentment at extreme, sometimes violent racism, is "a lazy habit"? For the record, I am not calling Mickey racist. Whenever you point out that someone's opinion on race doesn't jibe with reality, people like to minimize your statement by saying "what I'm a racist now?" It's a cheap trick that allows them to dodge the question.

bjkeefe
04-03-2008, 10:24 PM
Grace:

Please feel free to comment more regularly. I don't remember the Mormon underwear comment, but I do remember the comment you posted about meeting Steve Kaus. That was a good one.

Chances are, if someone chides you, someone else will defend you. And of course, I'm sure you can defend yourself, as well. You'll see the occasional bit of snark and bombast, but don't take it too personally. Pretty much everyone that says obnoxious things is at least half-jesting. The few who aren't are just trolls hiding behind anonymity, and they can't hurt you.

And now I learn that Mickey worries about those of us who cheered his more frequent visits--that perhaps we're a little off.

Mickey is never to be taken seriously when he talks about anything to do with this site, particularly when referring to the commenters. That's just standard blogospheric abrasiveness.

uncle ebeneezer
04-03-2008, 10:52 PM
Wow, a positive referrence from Bob (unless that was sarcasm) and a visual taunt from Mickey. I'm truly honored. And mentioned in the company of Brendan, no less.

Today-ay-ay-ay...I consider myself-elf-elf-elf....the luckiest-est-est....

uncle ebeneezer
04-03-2008, 10:54 PM
Maybe he thought there would be pictures...like Playboy.

bjkeefe
04-03-2008, 11:35 PM
Maybe he thought there would be pictures...like Playboy.

Cheese and rice, not so loud. What if Mickey's mom hears?

piscivorous
04-03-2008, 11:59 PM
While it is as of yet undetermined who has gained and who has lost, in the recent confrontation with JAM in southern Iraqi, it is the central government's troops that are now plying the streets of Basra, not JAM and that in its self might say something about who actually came out ahead.

There is this Sadr Rages Against Iran (http://www.bigmouthfrog.org/2008/04/02/muqtada-al-sadr-condemns-iranian-supreme-leader-ayatollah-khamenei/). He riles against Iranian interference in Iraqi with speculation running in a couple of different directions primarily about Iran given more support to Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and the Dawa. In this article it is political posturing on Sadar's part as the driver I have seen others where it is more that Iran told Sadar to cool his jets instead of the reputed brokered deal that seems to have ended the combat.

It is also reported, in not just the the article by the Kegans, that the Iraqi armed forces acquitted them self fairly well in the the confrontations in the smaller cities where there were problems. The offense itself, if the officially stated reasons are taken seriously both prior to fighting and restated after it had ceased, implies that the Iraqi government and it populace is growing tired of the type of Iranian influence that is causing havoc in the southern provinces of Iraq of playing one group against the other.

There is substantial and growing trade between Iran and Iraq. With the rather mild but targeted sanctions having a negative impact on the Iranian economy the trade with Iraq is important to keeping Iran's economy stable

Given these factors I'm not so sure at this point that the Iranians have quite as strong a hand or as great an influence as many are wont to claim.

Joel_Cairo
04-04-2008, 12:13 AM
This at least precludes anyone demonizing the Mickster without also throwing Basra Bob under the bus.

"Basra Bob" = epic.

a Duoist
04-04-2008, 01:47 AM
Intellectual history counts when a subsequent scholar credits the prior thinking with its influence, or when outside observers can make a better than merely reasonable case that a prior influence is at work. So, paradigm-shifting (Kuhn) thinking like Freud's, Darwin's, or Marx's, influences subsequent intellectual arguments for centuries. But, is then Hillary a fascist because of similarities between her ideals and fascism's doctrines?

Please, the square peg will still not fit into the round hole, despite the best efforts by those writers offering answers than the few intellectual writers asking questions.

Allan
04-04-2008, 03:19 AM
One of the reasons Mickey does not get a lot of favourable comments is
that he often has made it clear he does not read the comments.

I am sure that the majority of Blogginghead viewers do like Mickey
(how can one not like Mickey?)

Unfortunately the comments usually are skewed against Mickey
since there is a small contingent of loony-leftoids
who do most of the posting here.

Joel_Cairo
04-04-2008, 03:23 AM
Was this post intended to have this strange stanza-like format? It reads like verse.

One of the reasons Mickey does not get a lot of favourable comments is
that he often has made it clear he does not read the comments.

I am sure that the majority of Blogginghead viewers do like Mickey
(how can one not like Mickey?)

Unfortunately the comments usually are skewed against Mickey
since there is a small contingent of loony-leftoids
who do most of the posting here.

Allan
04-04-2008, 05:17 AM
All of life is a poem
if formatted properly.

brucds
04-04-2008, 08:16 AM
It's painful to listen to these guys discussing black people.

bjkeefe
04-04-2008, 08:20 AM
Allan:

Speaking as one of the loony leftoids, allow me to make clear that I do, in fact, like Mickey. My criticism of him reflects disappointment in his recent performances. I would like to see him get his groove back, that's all.

It is also untrue, at least in my case, that the explanation for the negative commentary is related to his tendency not to read the comments. In fact, I posted what I did in the hope that someone would call it to his attention.

themightypuck
04-04-2008, 09:15 AM
I was a bit troubled by Mr. Wright's seeming assertion that ideas don't matter. I don't intend to create a straw man here, but it seemed to me that this confounding "Marxist" notion was a centerpiece of this discussion. Ideas do matter. Ideas influence actors. Actors make history. Historical materialism is confirmation bias. The future's uncertain and the end is always near.

Uffe
04-04-2008, 09:26 AM
Memo to the Kaus-bashing grizzle-guts: as a relative newcomer to Bloggingheads, I’m in the enviable position of having watched back to back pretty much all of the Wright v. Kaus episodes since 2005 — all in the course of a month or so — so I can say with some confidence that the quality hasn’t dropped one bit.

bjkeefe
04-04-2008, 09:31 AM
I'm interested that no one has even mentioned the segment having to do with Hillary's connection to that secretive religious group, The Family. Is it the sense of the commenters that there's no there there; i.e., who cares if politicians want to get together to pray? Or does it strike people as too much of a conspiracy theory to be believed? Or is just the case that people's impression of Hillary Clinton is that she makes political alliances wherever and whenever, solely motivated by pursuit of her political goals?

themightypuck
04-04-2008, 10:00 AM
I think no one commented on Hillary's connection to The Family because it is so tenuous. The Family itself is pretty interesting and seems straight out of Carnivale, but going to an event they sponsor because other important people go to the same event is hardly surprising for a politician.

lamoose
04-04-2008, 11:01 AM
Hearing Bob say my username was a real highlight of my BHtv listening career. "Moose" is actually my nickname from college, and I'm from Louisiana, thus "LA Moose". Also, it sounds French.

bjkeefe
04-04-2008, 11:03 AM
Hearing Bob say my username was a real highlight of my BHtv listening career. "Moose" is actually my nickname from college, and I'm from Louisiana, thus "LA Moose". Also, it sounds French.

Good thing you weren't from Virginia.

jeffpeterson
04-04-2008, 11:52 AM
According to Gartenstein-Ross and Roggio, the press blew Basra (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/936meniz.asp), which would mean Bob followed suit. The time is coming when even Bob Wright will have to admit that something encouraging has happened in Iraq. In the meantime, it's great to have Bob and Mickey on weekly again; after all, they are the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful bloggingheads I've ever viewed in my life.

brucds
04-04-2008, 12:02 PM
http://tinyurl.com/4er9es


(There's nothing like dealing with folks who are "right" no matter how many times they get proven wrong.)

AemJeff
04-04-2008, 12:10 PM
Weekly Standard: proud defender of freedom from fact-checking.

(-10 points to anyone who brings up Scott Beauchamp. There's still a difference between a "diarist" and a reporter.)

bjkeefe
04-04-2008, 12:19 PM
jeff:

I hope you aren't falling for the idea that the Weekly Standard is the only one telling the truth about Iraq. Please. You could not name another nationally-known media outlet that is more of an apologist for neocon propaganda.

Is their perspective worth something? Perhaps. But it's beyond lunacy to rely upon them as a sole source. Review Michael Goldfarb's last two diavlogs. Try to watch them honestly and critically. It should be apparent that he, like his colleagues at the WS, are determined to cling to the notion that the Iraq invasion was a good idea, things are going well, and the last five years don't count when making an assessment of the situation. Goldfarb never strays from this rigid position, and to the extent that I've read others on the WS site, ditto.

piscivorous
04-04-2008, 12:54 PM
Top answer a two comments in one. First a direct replyjeff:..
Review Michael Goldfarb's last two diavlogs. Try to watch them honestly and critically... is hilarious as you yourself admit Allan:
Speaking as one of the loony leftoids, .... where does your ability to watch any diavlog that has a conservative participant " honestly and critically."

Second
Unrelated: I have long had my suspicions about the true meaning of the name piscivorous. I am dubious that it has anything to do with dietary preferences, and instead expresses that said persona, in fact, claims to be something like a cunning linguist. Pisc, do you deny? While my diet does not run exclusively to fish or in the broader context sea food, it is high on my preference list of dietary substances. While I have never claimed "to be something like a cunning linguist" but I do believe that I have a fairly good work understand of American language and have been a reader of Readers Digest since childhood.

bjkeefe
04-04-2008, 01:50 PM
pisc:

where does your ability to watch any diavlog that has a conservative participant " honestly and critically."

First, the real comparison would be to ask me if I were able to watch a liberal participant honestly and critically. That is, I asked Jeff, whom I understood from his comment to be about as far to the right as I am to the left, to watch someone similar to his mindset and see if he could admit just how much Goldfarb was being a cheerleader. To this end, I think I'm fairly honest and critical in analyzing what most lefty diavloggers have to say.

There's another piece, too. We haven't really had anyone on that I can recall who is as nakedly partisan and as obviously obtuse to reality as Goldfarb is about the Iraq situation. I doubt you'll agree with me on this, since you seem to have the same tendency as Goldfarb to hunt for tiny nuggets of good news and present them as though they both represent the entirety of the current situation and absolve all of the mistakes from the past five years.

Since we can't agree on this, perhaps you would like to name someone whom you perceive as being the lefty equivalent of how I see Goldfarb. I don't think you'll be able to do it, since even the most obviously partisan diavloggers that I can think of -- Bill Scher, Rosa Brooks, for example -- have the classic liberal tendency to say, "You might be right about that." Well, now that I think about it, I guess I could agree that David Corn might be a match. I will point out, however, that I rarely stand up to defend the most extreme claims he makes, and I don't think I've ever offered him as a purported source for reporting on the facts. This last is what Jeff was doing with the Weekly Standard.

Back to your original point, I think I make an honest assessment of conservative diavloggers like Eli Lake, David Frum, Ross Douthat, Mickey Kaus, John McWhorter, Conn Carroll, Francis Fukuyama, Ramesh Ponnuru, Jim Pinkerton, Reihan Salam, Andrew Sullivan, and Eugene Volokh, as well as right-leaning libertarians like Daniel Drezner, Will Wilkinson, and Brink Lindsey. Seems to me I've agreed with points made by all of these people and have complimented them all at one time or another. Maybe you'll take exception to calling everyone listed conservative, but they're all well to the right of me.

While I have never claimed "to be something like a cunning linguist" but I do believe that I have a fairly good work understand of American language and have been a reader of Readers Digest since childhood.

Sorry you missed the joke. But I guess that serves as an adequate denial.

carson
04-04-2008, 01:55 PM
I won't watch vlogs with Mickey anymore. Mickey is a bigot. Every time I hear his snide rants about Mexican immigrants, "welfare" and prisons, I want to vomit.


You sound like a great guy and the community here will miss your insightful and nuanced comments but there's no question that addressing that vomiting thing has to take priority.

Tyrrell McAllister
04-04-2008, 01:57 PM
Bob wasn't saying that ideas don't influence the actors who hold them. He was saying that ideas don't influence the actions of actors who don't hold them. In other words, if I hold idea A, and you want to argue that idea A will influence my actions in some way, it is fallacious to invoke some other idea B merely on the basis of a historical connection between A and B.

gregman4
04-04-2008, 02:43 PM
Just for the record, Bump (also known as Knockout) is not some strange cult game. It is nothing like croquet and is a game beloved by kids on blacktops across America.

graz
04-04-2008, 02:46 PM
Bob and Mickey should just ignore the commenters.

a) They're totally unrepresentative of the actual "viewer base."

b) Commenters, almost by their very nature, are digital piranha delighting not so much in truth, civility, or elevated meaning as in scoring points and hopefully extracting a little blood through artful or not-so-artful snark.

So, relax, you're real audience loves you.

I'd go on in this vein, but, having lifted up one corner of the argument, being good students, you can infer the other three.

Cheers (and thanks to BHTV for the access to so many deep conversations from so many different points of view),

EW

As to your first point that Bob and Mickey should ignore us:
The depth and insight of your comments makes this nearly impossible.

A) Please explain how you have determined the "actual viewer base."

B) Does this account for your artless, solipsistic attacks on anyone who isn't you?

Joel_Cairo
04-04-2008, 02:51 PM
where does your ability to watch any diavlog that has a conservative participant " honestly and critically."

This is very true. It's a well known fact that people who believe things are incapable of listening in good faith to people who believe other things. This is why we should do away with all these time-wasting, opportunity-cost-riddled activities like "discussion", "debate" and "dialogue," which are no more than ornamental playthings of the sham system called "discursive democracy." If only everybody would shut up this world would be a much better place.

piscivorous
04-04-2008, 02:55 PM
BJ
Don't really think I missed the joke and it probably would have had more resonance if you had linked to the previous comment on mine where I alluded to the commenters of the "loony left" being small fish in an pond. But in a comment about my dietary references the continues "reader of Readers Digest since childhood" means I must have slept in a Holiday Inn last night.

bjkeefe
04-04-2008, 02:57 PM
pisc:

My joke had very little to do with fish.

Joel_Cairo
04-04-2008, 02:58 PM
I hope you aren't falling for the idea that the Weekly Standard is the only one telling the truth about Iraq. Please. You could not name another nationally-known media outlet that is more of an apologist for neocon propaganda.


Brendan, I think you may have misread jeff's post, as he is a member in good standing (http://eponym327.blogspot.com/2008/04/petition-drive.html) of the anti-Standard, pro-reality contingent.

bjkeefe
04-04-2008, 03:00 PM
Brendan, I think you may have misread jeff's post, as he is a member in good standing (http://eponym327.blogspot.com/2008/04/petition-drive.html) of the anti-Standard, pro-reality contingent.

Sorry if I was unclear. I was referring to jeffpeterson (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=73278#post73278), not AemJeff.

piscivorous
04-04-2008, 03:05 PM
Neither did my earlier comment when considered in relation to the the meaning of my screen name.

graz
04-04-2008, 03:09 PM
pisc:

My joke had very little to do with fish.

Brendan:

You may need to explain the joke for Bob Wright's benefit. And then when Bob scans the comments - since he, unlike Mickey might really read them thoroughly, he will most certainly blush and regret ever having wondered aloud what fish lover might mean.

bjkeefe
04-04-2008, 03:16 PM
Brendan:

You may need to explain the joke for Bob Wright's benefit. And then when Bob scans the comments - since he, unlike Mickey might really read them thoroughly, he will most certainly blush and regret ever having wondered aloud what fish lover might mean.

I cannot bear the thought of being responsible for making Bob Wright blush.

ed fielding
04-04-2008, 03:22 PM
Silliness not aside, one of the dynamic duo’s more engaging sparkles. Okay, maybe not Astaire and Kelly, but close enough for government work, or theater, or here, or most places I know. You guys should be on Stewart of Colbert, Deadpan Duo vs The Shining Mug.
Pretty soon people would be flocking for your pearls...

Liked the stuff about the Family; something that intrigues me much. Given that Sharlet gives it a scary zombie twist, Bob’s assessment seemed pretty clear-headed and a welcome reality check.
By the like token looking forward to Sharlet’s blogginghead. By another like token, Bob’s book sounds like something I’ll not only want to buy but read as well, the sooner the better.
Thanks and applause.
Darn fine site all round, except for stop-and-go edits and people whose mikes are inadequate to the task of making them audible.

Wonderment
04-04-2008, 03:46 PM
You sound like a great guy and the community here will miss your insightful and nuanced comments ...

There is nothing particularly nuanced or insightful about recognizing MK's bigotry. It's blatant and requires no more special insight than one would expect from your average 10-year-old.

I will continue to participate in the community; I just won't watch the vlogs with Mickey in them.

zeke60
04-04-2008, 04:32 PM
Re: Facts on the Ground

quoting themightypuck: I was a bit troubled by Mr. Wright's seeming assertion that ideas don't matter. I don't intend to create a straw man here, but it seemed to me that this confounding "Marxist" notion was a centerpiece of this discussion. Ideas do matter. Ideas influence actors. Actors make history. Historical materialism is confirmation bias.

If you have trouble with the fact of historical materialism because it's associated with Marx, then read Jared Diamond, Marvin Harris, or Bob Wright himself. Assuming you approach their works without any pre-existing bias against historical materialism, the way you view the world and how it works will never be the same. And anyway, I don't think Mr.Wright meant that ideas don't matter, because if he did his own admirable notion of nonzero sumness wouldn't be the centerpiece of his approach to foreign policy.

look
04-04-2008, 05:48 PM
According to Gartenstein-Ross and Roggio, the press blew Basra (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/936meniz.asp), which would mean Bob followed suit. The time is coming when even Bob Wright will have to admit that something encouraging has happened in Iraq.

Well, Bob did admit that it was a positive advance for the Shi'ites to work things out among themselves. But this was a thought-provoking article, thanks.

jeffpeterson
04-04-2008, 08:47 PM
bj -- thanks for trying to save me from the baleful influence of the neocons and their house organ. I'd understand this response if my post had criticized Bob for consistently ignoring the Weekly Standard, etc. But rather than make a blanket statement about the value of one journal or another -- and FWIW on Iraq reporting I'd wager the Weekly Standard's record compares favorably with the New York Times, John Burns being excepted as the gold standard -- I cited a particular piece which seemed well researched and suggested that it challenged Bob's relentlessly negative stance on Iraq. (I'm glad that "look" found it helpful as I did.) On reflection, it's curious that Bob is basically sanguine about repressive actions taken by existing governments, confident that globalizing processes will inevitably moderate them, but his knee jerks against any action taken by the US in Iraq or the Iraqi government (in this case, action taken to establish a monopoly on the use of force, the sine qua non of a viable government); it sometimes seems that the only states that Bob recognizes as capable of committing significant wrongs are the US (and its clients) and Israel.

bjkeefe
04-04-2008, 10:26 PM
jeffpeterson:

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on the reliability of the Weekly Standard's reporting. I didn't follow the Basra story closely enough in the time leading up to the publication of the article to which you linked to be able to debate its details, but my general sense of the Basra situation from looking at various news sources since then is this: while your article contains some observations that sound credible, its overall tone strikes me as making every effort to emphasize the bright side. It also spends too much time attacking other reporting, and seems to exaggerate in so doing. Just to pick one example, the WS accuses the NYT of saying the operation "failed," when the headline they themselves quote characterizes it as "stalled."

The whole thing reminds me of how the war cheerleaders spin the surge: as an unqualified success, based solely on some short-term casualty reductions. Nowhere will organs like the Weekly Standard admit that the ostensible larger purpose has not been achieved, nor will it admit that the six-month timeline has been exposed as a fiction. I don't see much progress at all in establishing a unity government, basic services are still not restored, I'm certainly not seeing any troops coming home, and the latest news makes me think things are getting worse. Again.

You're also misrepresenting what look said about the article. She did not say "helpful;" she said "thought-provoking." A minor quibble, but I find your paraphrase representative of the source you defend -- an ongoing effort to spin things just a little bit better at every opportunity.

My point is, everyone who likes the Weekly Standard is always saying how they're the only ones to get it right, and how every other major media outlet always gets it wrong. This is borderline conspiracy-theory thinking. Sorry that I can't accept it.

==========

To your point about Bob's attitude: I don't want to try to argue on his behalf about all your complaints. I'll just state for the record that I think you're being a little simplistic in general, and I'll respond with my own feelings to this one point in particular, since it resonates so deeply:

... it sometimes seems that the only states that Bob recognizes as capable of committing significant wrongs are the US (and its clients) and Israel.

I'm going to leave Israel to the side. I try never to get involved in debates about that country; it's pointless. Suffice it to say that I think they are not without responsibility for some of their own problems.

Regarding the US:

We are supposed to be the good guys. From those to whom much has been given, much is expected, to coin a phrase. I want to hold my country to the highest standard. We, the United States, have a long history of dubious behavior unbecoming our ideals and unbecoming a sole superpower. This has been greatly exacerbated during the past seven years. One of the reasons that we've let ourselves go as a country is that we have too many media organizations and too many citizens who blithely march to the slogan, "My country, right or wrong." There has not been nearly enough self-criticism.

Do other countries do wrong, too? Of course. But we've got quite a bit to do as far as getting our own house in order goes, and too many people have been unwilling for too long to acknowledge that.

In the particular case of Iraq, the war cheerleaders will get no respect from me until they stop trying to dismiss the past five years as insignificant or irrelevant. Crowing about today's momentary and minuscule successes without admitting any context or awareness of where we were when this all started is doubly unimpressive. We're coming up on being a trillion dollars in the hole for this little exercise, and we're continuing to spend at the rate of $200 million per day. We've got more than 4000 soldiers dead, tens of thousands wounded, and we're responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. We broke an entire country and no one has the slightest idea how to put it back together. Meantime, our national security is, to put it politely, weakened. We've got an overstretched military, we've lost respect and friendship around the world, and every day we stay in Iraq, bunches more young men sign up to be terrorists.

Look. Our own government won't even tell the truth about the security situation in Iraq. The White House has so far refused to release even a declassified version of its latest NIE. Gen. Petraeus is going to come do another stint in front of Congress in a few days, and I fear it's going to be another dog and pony show, featuring carefully selected statistics designed to paint a rosy picture. How many of these (http://www.motherjones.com/washington_dispatch/2008/04/questions-for-general-petraeus-hearing.html) questions (http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2008/04/7854_more_questions_1.html), gathered by BH.tv regular David Corn, do you think will be asked? How many will he answer honestly?

It's clear to me that the Bush Administration is trying to do nothing except keep the lid on until after the election in November. It seems to me that the Weekly Standard is complicit in this effort, as are those who perpetually gripe about the MSM "getting it wrong." When faced with such strident and willfully blind cheerleading, it shouldn't be a surprise that those of us who hold a different view sometimes harp on the shortcomings.

look
04-04-2008, 10:54 PM
According to Gartenstein-Ross and Roggio, the press blew Basra (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/936meniz.asp)

jeff, I found an answer to this question that was posed in your article:

But none of the journalists bothered to ask one simple question: if Sadr was so successful, why end the fighting? If Iraq's army was being beaten and Maliki politically weakened, why not press the fight and make the government collapse? As an American military officer serving in southern Iraq told us, "Claiming a 'victory' and then withdrawing from the battlefield is the tactic of someone that is losing."

in this article:

asiatimesonline (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JD03Ak02.html)

But it wasn't a matter of political symbolism, either. Tangible issues are involved. Questions of vital national interests. Clearly, Tehran had genuine concerns over the developing situation in southern Iraq close to its border. Tehran viewed the flare-up involving the Shi'ite factions with great disquiet. This was apparent from the speech by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who led the prayer sermon in Tehran on Friday. He bemoaned, "Iraq is currently entangled in many problems." But Jannati explicitly didn't take sides between the warring factions.

On the one hand, he advised the Mahdi Army ("Iraqi popular armed forces") and Maliki ("Iraqi popular government") to hold talks. But he also advised the "popular armed forces present in Basra" (read Badr Organization, Da'wa, the smaller Fadhila party, etc.) to intervene with the "Iraqi popular government". Third, Jannati also called on Maliki to "heed the [popular] forces' views and solve problems eventually in a way that would be to the interest of all."

Curiously, he criticized the silence on the part of the Muslim world - "especially the Organization of the Islamic Conference" (OIC) - over the "enormous brutality and oppression in Iraq". He said, "It is not clear why Muslim states, especially the OIC, do not show any reaction against so much injustice and oppression in Iraq, while such measures could be easily prevented through unity and solidarity." The remark contained a barely disguised barb aimed at Saudi Arabia for hobnobbing with the US. (US Vice President Dick Cheney had visited Riyadh and Baghdad barely one week before Maliki launched the offensive in Basra.)

Yet, all in all, Jannati politely refrained from expressing Iran's complete disapproval of the conduct of Maliki in carrying out the offensive as part of the US game plan to establish control of Basra, which is the principal artery for American oil majors to evacuate Iraqi oil. The Sadrists oppose the current plans for opening up the nationalized Iraqi oil industry to foreign exploitation.

However, the day after Jannati spoke, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini came down hard on the Maliki government. He deplored the use of American and British air power against the Sadrist militia - "waves of US-UK air raids on civilians". He called on the Shi'ite factions to end the fighting as "continued fighting only serves the interests of the occupiers ... and give pretexts to occupiers to continue their illegitimate presence" in Iraq.

Most important, he called for negotiations - which had already commenced in Qom by that time - "in a friendly and goodwill atmosphere". As for the Maliki government, Hosseini expressed the hope it would "exercise wisdom, cooperation, mutual understanding, patience, calm and contacts with Iraqi political leaders to overcome the current crisis period". Plainly put, Hosseini asked Maliki not to be dumb enough to sub-serve US interests and to realize where his own political interests lay. He pointedly drew a line of distinction between Maliki and the powerful Iraqi Shi'ite leadership.

Happy Hominid
04-05-2008, 12:16 AM
But let me add a less humorous one. Bob is more sanguine:

http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9915?in=00:43:14&out=00:44:50

And so am I. Well, I'll go further. We have no idea what's going to happen whenever we leave Iraq. Sure, it could be bad. That's certainly a possibility. But they might muddle through without too much bloodshed. Again, we don't know.

And certainly the right-wing bloggers, talking-heads and politicians have been pretty consistently wrong for the last 6 years so how about we just don't listen to their predictions? Instead, let's get our children home from the Middle East, offer HALF the money we spend every month there on economically strategic incentives for everyone there to get together (and as a way to heal the country). We could do all this while simultaneously proving to the world that we aren't there to control oil interests or to bring Christianity or that we are intent on world hegemony.

Now, you might say I'm a dreamer. I hope some day you will join me. Even you, Mickey.

jeffpeterson
04-05-2008, 12:53 AM
bj -- You seem like a nice guy and someone worth talking to -- even arguing with -- but I'd suggest you try taking your conversation partners as individuals rather than representatives of a party orthodoxy which you're being asked to swallow whole. I find some things in the Weekly Standard insightful, some in the New York Times, some in TNR, some in National Review, etc.; and I find other things I read in all those publications unconvincing or without merit. I haven't said what you say "everyone who likes the Weekly Standard" always says, so your response to them has little relevance to our discussion. The Gartenstein-Ross/Roggio piece is a critique of the mainstream press coverage of Basra in light of reports to which it links; how can one fault it for spending "too much time attacking other reporting"? Whether the scenario it paints is too rosy depends on what one makes of the reports. On the broader issues you raise, the recent NIE reports considerably more progress towards security and unity than you allow in the past six months, and even the Times' editors have been compelled (grudgingly) to admit this (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/14/opinion/14thu2.html?scp=11&sq=iraq+government+progress&st=nyt.). And to defend myself on a small point (perhaps not unrepresentative of your mode of engagement), I can't see how glossing "thought-provoking" with "helpful" involves any misrepresentation; it's helpful to have thought provoked, right? Okay then.

jh in sd
04-05-2008, 12:57 AM
bjkeefe, You are so vile, and that is such an OLD joke.

Wonderment
04-05-2008, 12:58 AM
bj -- You seem like a nice guy ...

He's likable enough.


(Sorry. I got sort of addicted to playing Barack in my exchange with Look/Hillary in the "Clinton v Obama" comments.)

jh in sd
04-05-2008, 01:17 AM
Bob, Can't help lovin' a guy who uses the word sanguine. Try sangfroid and it will last forever.

AemJeff
04-05-2008, 01:44 AM
Jeff, if you're making the point that not everyone who reads the The Weekly Standard is a participant in the perpetuation of Republican orthodoxy, then I doubt you'll find an argument from many people here. I think the point that has been made here is that the Standard is the house organ for a particular type of Republicanism and doesn't critically examine what it publishes, particularly if that's consistent with the house line. The Times particularly, but even TNR and National Review are far more heterodox and quite a bit more likely to be self-critical.

The Weekly Standard is a disgrace as a journalistic entity and has zero credibility, particularly in regard to this war, for which it has had an unvarying message for nearly six years, regardless of any externalities. I haven't read the Gartenstein-Ross/Roggi piece you're referencing, and I probably won't. It may be just as good as you say it is, but it seems to me that the Standard has disqualified itself as a source of reportage.

johnmarzan
04-05-2008, 02:21 AM
their first topic was garbage.

and the bob and mickey should not limit their diavlogs to only 30 minutes a week.

bjkeefe
04-05-2008, 09:10 AM
John:

I agree with you in general about the situation in Iraq, and certainly say "hear, hear" to the idea that the hawks in this country have pretty much lost all credibility, but on this particular point, one thing that Bob glosses over a little bit is the reality of the presence of US air power. While I think that there is a lot to the notion that the other parties involved are capable of working things out for themselves, having a bunch of bombers at one's disposal does tip the scales a bit. It's hard to say what Sadr's attitude might have been absent this factor.

bjkeefe
04-05-2008, 09:29 AM
jeffp:

... I'd suggest you try taking your conversation partners as individuals rather than representatives of a party orthodoxy which you're being asked to swallow whole.

In my own defense, I will say that reliance on the Weekly Standard as a principle source of news is about as good a predictor as I know for how someone will think about US foreign policy in general. I will also plead exasperation with such people, for all of the reasons I listed in my last post, as an extenuating factor.

However, there are always exceptions and I failed to keep this in mind. Yours is a legitimate criticism, and you're especially correct to make it in this instance. You're right: I don't know you well enough to lump you in with the herd. I apologize.

And to defend myself on a small point (perhaps not unrepresentative of your mode of engagement), ...

Nice zing.

... I can't see how glossing "thought-provoking" with "helpful" involves any misrepresentation; it's helpful to have thought provoked, right?

I don't want to make too much out of this, but I will respond. Yes, it is usually helpful to have one's thoughts provoked. However, the two are not always synonymous, and I still maintain that equating the two was trying to add a little sugar to the frosting. If you did it intentionally, to add strength to your argument, that is. If it was just the word you retrieved from short term memory, no big whoop.

bjkeefe
04-05-2008, 09:33 AM
bjkeefe, You are so vile, and that is such an OLD joke.

If you are referring to my speculative etymology, I plead guilty to both charges.

Happy Hominid
04-05-2008, 01:20 PM
Brendan, I hear what you're saying and I'm fully aware that we, frankly, don't have a clue what's going to happen when we leave. But we should never have been there. We aren't going to install democracy. Either they will take it or they will rebel against it. Our military presence in the Middle East is damaging to our prestige with all Middle Eastern countries except Israel. It's damaging to our reputation with Muslims worldwide. It damages our relations with nearly all of our allies. It makes us less safe in a dangerous world. We have to get out at some point, so why not cut our losses and get out? We can still assist the forces that we find favorable and we can still target terrorists (specific, clear enemies) wherever we find them.

bjkeefe
04-05-2008, 01:30 PM
John:

Sorry if I didn't make myself clear enough in my last reply to you. I do pretty much agree with your outlook on the general situation. I was only trying to make a point about the recent Basra conflict specifically. To reiterate, it's fine for Bob to have taken away from the event the observation that different Iraqi factions could solve something for themselves, but it was a little bit wrong not to take into account the presence of American firepower. For example, Sadr may not have been as willing to negotiate, or may have asked for different terms, if he knew for sure that the capability to bomb the city didn't exist.

jeffpeterson
04-05-2008, 03:30 PM
bj -- Olive branch and appreciation of zinger much appreciated, and I second your "no big whoop" (though it's clear you have much stricter standards than me for deployment of the word "helpful" in paraphrase). On the substantive issue we were tossing around, it's worth noting that Gen. McCaffrey (not a cheerleader) has a take on Basra much closer to Gartenstein-Ross/Roggio than to the early media reports; he suggests the battle might be looked back on as the Iraqi army's Kasserine Pass (only with the Iraqis coming off better than the Americans did in 1943) and says that "it appears as if the Iraqi security forces for the first time stepped up, largely independently of the United States" (http://www.newsweek.com/id/130347).

bjkeefe
04-05-2008, 04:16 PM
jeffp:

Thanks for the link to the McCaffery piece. Not really much to debate there -- it's pretty much all speculation. Three minor quibbles with what facts there were:

o "... only in relatively small numbers did some Iraqis desert to the other side ..." (1000 is "small?")

o "On balance it appears as if the Iraqi security forces for the first time stepped up, largely independently of the United States ..." (didn't US air strikes save the day?)

o I also can't help but note that this is being admitted as "the first time" that the Iraqi forces stepped up. We've been hearing promises about Iraqi troop readiness for years now. I am not enthusiastic about the rate of progress, to put it mildly.

To the speculative side of the article: I'm sure another student of military history could come with another parallel that's equally good, one in which a rebel force stood up to an attempt to squelch them, fought to more or less a draw, which when looked at later was seen as the first time ... blah, blah, blah.

I don't know McCaffery well enough to judge his credibility, but I always suspect people who make a living by being "consultants" or "experts" for TV spend a lot of energy trying to dream up new takes on current events.

If things work out as the article hopes, great. But the whole episode seems too small to offer support for any larger conclusions. One school of thought could see it as an indication of the Iraqi government's growing cohesiveness, another school could see it as an indication of Iran's increasing clout, since they appear to be significant contributors in brokering the settlement. No way to say anything for sure.

piscivorous
04-05-2008, 07:23 PM
There is a more in depth analysis from Mr. Roggio at The Long War Journal .A look at Operation Knights' Assault (http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/04/a_look_at_operation_1.php)

Happy Hominid
04-06-2008, 12:29 AM
Yeah, but who's gonna listen to YOU, with that middle name of yours?

Loren Michael
04-06-2008, 11:35 AM
Minor thing, Bob mentions that China caps or restricts upload speeds or something.

I am in Hangzhou, and have been since last summer.

Here is my current record for download speed, set in a public coffee shop last month: http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/7146/gonnagetlegcancergn0.jpg

I don't take screen shots of my upload speeds, because they regularly meet and sometimes exceed that by at least 100 kB/s.

Yes, it is a pain to access Wikipedia and the like, but using things like bittorrent is essentially completely unrestricted in my experience.

Which reminds me: TORRENT DIAVLOGS, PLEASE. Direct downloads (at least from BH.tv) and iTunes downloads are terribly slow.

EDIT: I should add, this is at least 4x faster than anything I experienced in the States.

bjkeefe
04-06-2008, 11:53 AM
Loren:

Pardon me for quibbling, but the image you show indicates upload speeds of 269.1 kB/s, compared to download speeds of 759.9 kB/s. Since this appears to be a shot of progress during a torrent session, it's hard to say for sure, but the graph does seem to contradict your claim. Maybe it's different when you're just doing a straight upload from your computer to one other computer.

Your suggestion that BH.tv make their episodes available for torrenting is a good one, though. Have you emailed them with this idea?

Loren Michael
04-06-2008, 12:51 PM
At the moment, I'm not downloading anything, that was the only picture I kept around (as I wasn't aware speeds like that were even possible in public wi-fi areas... I probably have leg cancer or something) but as I mentioned unclearly before, I regularly get upload speeds that regularly exceed that download speed by at least 100 kB/s. That is, what, a megabyte a second or so.

Regardless, the upload speed in that picture is pretty fast, even if it's not as silly as that download speed.

And yes, emailed the torrent suggestion a while ago but no changes.

look
04-06-2008, 08:04 PM
There is a more in depth analysis from Mr. Roggio at The Long War Journal .A look at Operation Knights' Assault (http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/04/a_look_at_operation_1.php)

Thanks for the article, pisc. I appreciate the inside-baseball look at the Iraqi Army. Some of the articles we've all been posting certainly call into question the original MSM take on the whole affair (Sadr in the catbird seat, Malaki screwed).

On the other hand, of course, I can't help but look askance at the title of the blog: The Long War Journal. But I've book-marked it and will keep an eye on it. Thanks.

piscivorous
04-06-2008, 09:21 PM
Yea it sounds like a site for blood lust and mayhem put it is very informative site, but I think it has more to do with Osama Bin-Laden's description of the Islamic jihad being "The Long War" and nothing more.

Tao Jones
04-07-2008, 12:24 AM
And now for something completely off topic...

I was thinking about Hillary's teary-eyed tirade about how she "knows what is at stake." Given that Bill probably had her read Nonzero, does anyone else think she might be referring to something along the lines of this passage??

"In a sense, these fundamentalists are right. No, I don't mean about the Rapture. I just mean that growing turmoil does signify, by my lights, a distinct step in the unfolding of what you could call the world's destiny. We are indeed approaching a culmination of sorts; our species seems to face a kind of test toward which basic forces of history have been moving us for millennia. It is a test of political imagination—of our ability to accept basic, necessary changes in structures of governance but also a test of moral imagination.

So how will we do on this test? Judging by history, the current turbulence will eventually yield to an era of relative stability, an era when global political, economic, and social structures have largely tamed the new forms of chaos. The world will reach a new equilibrium, at a level of organization higher than any past equilibrium. And the period we are now entering will, in retrospect, look like the storm before the calm.

Or, on the other hand, we could blow up the world. Remember, even poppy seeds don't always manage to flower."

I know this is a bit of a reach, (as well as old news), but just some brain fodder.

beve83
04-07-2008, 01:40 AM
Wow, Brendan you're famous! I'd like to take this moment to say I knew bjkeefe when he was a young, idealistic, up and coming commenter.

bjkeefe
04-07-2008, 10:46 AM
Loren:

Thanks for clarifying, especially in noting that the units were, in fact, kilobytes per second, and not kilobits.

I do know that the principal reason download speeds are so much faster here in the US is an artificial one. Most ISPs purposefully throttle upload speed for reasons that are not clear to me, although I suspect it has something to do with worries about people hosting web sites on their home machines, and the potential legal and security headaches that come along with that. So, if I struggle to shake off my provincial outlook, I guess there is no reason not to believe your claim about uploading being faster than downloading where you are.

Still, though, the graph you linked to did show fairly healthy download speeds, more than adequate to download BH.tv episodes, I should think. Unless, of course, what you showed was an outlier. In that case, maybe grab the audio instead of the video?

On the lack of responsiveness to your torrent suggestion, I can only say, hang in there. I get the impression that the admin staff of BH.tv is small and quite busy. Try another email in a few days, and don't hesitate to start a new thread in the General section, to try to garner support. I myself don't often use torrenting, but there might be others out there who would share your desires.

uncle ebeneezer
04-07-2008, 05:29 PM
Uh oh, wait till Mickey sees this:

http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/04/absolut_counterfactual.php#comments

thouartgob
04-07-2008, 06:28 PM
Minor thing, Bob mentions that China caps or restricts upload speeds or something.

I am in Hangzhou, and have been since last summer.

Here is my current record for download speed, set in a public coffee shop last month: http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/7146/gonnagetlegcancergn0.jpg

I don't take screen shots of my upload speeds, because they regularly meet and sometimes exceed that by at least 100 kB/s.

Yes, it is a pain to access Wikipedia and the like, but using things like bittorrent is essentially completely unrestricted in my experience.

Which reminds me: TORRENT DIAVLOGS, PLEASE. Direct downloads (at least from BH.tv) and iTunes downloads are terribly slow.

EDIT: I should add, this is at least 4x faster than anything I experienced in the States.

Even though Comcast says they will stop throttling torrent traffic I suspect that they are lying along with ATT and verizon etc. The chinese govt. uses the same tech as Comcast so enjoy that torrent traffic while it lasts.

thouartgob
04-07-2008, 06:32 PM
Uh oh, wait till Mickey sees this:

http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/04/absolut_counterfactual.php#comments

Awesome. Looks like mickey better pack up for the east coast. He should move anyway since he is annoyed be all that spanish chatter around him. What would happen first, president Barr or mickey learning spanish ???