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-   -   Hitting the Panic Button (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=1961)

bjkeefe 07-17-2008 11:30 PM

Re: The ICC
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chef (Post 83950)
I don't think this point can be emphasized enough. Especially given the country's absolute burnout on the issue of foreign intervention, which might last decades.

I don't know if we're that burnt out. Probably we'll be a little leery of unilateral invasions, or so I hope. But if we can get mostly out of Iraq and Afghanistan in the next few years without too much of a calamity, I expect that more humanitarian cases would again become the sort of thing that many of us would feel compelled to do something about. One word that's about as negative in connotation as any political buzzword is "isolationist." There aren't many people this side of Ron Paul who want to be painted with that one.

Quote:

I've recently read a book called "A Problem from Hell: America and the age of Genocide", written by Samantha Power (who I think is actually on Obama's advisory team).
I'll get to that one eventually, I hope. One thing about BH.tv is the depressing awareness raised about how much there is to read. But thanks for the recommendation.

Quote:

She makes an interesting case toward the end that there should be mechanisms in place to punish politicians and appointed officials who fail to act in the face of genocide. Now, leaving aside how workable that is, ...
Heh. If we ever figure out a mechanism for that, my dreamed-of TaRC ought to be a snap.

bjkeefe 07-17-2008 11:32 PM

Re: Hitting the Panic Button
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rcocean (Post 83954)
Bob,

Why not reward BJ by having him on Bloggingheads? He's certainly earned it - the guy practically lives here.

You wouldn't be able to take the comments I'd make about some of the commenters.

bjkeefe 07-17-2008 11:36 PM

Re: Hitting the Panic Button
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bkjazfan (Post 83955)
... Nat Hentoff is very upset ...

Noted. Don't know anything about Hentoff, so I don't have any reaction.

AemJeff 07-17-2008 11:43 PM

Re: Hitting the Panic Button
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bkjazfan (Post 83955)
It seems that Bob is most upset about this divided or is it undivided (?) Jeruselem statement by Obama (shows how much I know).

I noticed on the Net that Nat Hentoff is very upset with Obama's endorsement of faith based government initiatives. Being a big first amendment type Hentoff thinks that Obama committed an unpardonable sin with that one. Not being a scholar or lawyer I don't know what that's all about. His criticism of Obama flip-flopping makes Wright's look pale in comparison.

John

Hentoff is an irascible SOB with a completely sui generis outlook. I love the guy, but, outside the East Village, I'm not sure how much influence he has politically.

Chef 07-17-2008 11:54 PM

Re: The ICC
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 83956)

I'll get to that one eventually, I hope. One thing about BH.tv is the depressing awareness raised about how much there is to read. But thanks for the recommendation.

Well, she actually co-wrote Romeo Dallaire's memoir about the Rwandan genocide. They made the book into a documentary of the same name: "Shake Hands with the Devil." I've had that documentary Tivo'ed for a couple months, but it's not generally the type of fare to watch right before bed.

Don't know what else she's written tho.

uncle ebeneezer 07-17-2008 11:56 PM

Re: The ICC
 
Fifth from me. I would totally watch a weekly Heather-view.

Heather, thanks for the compliments to those of us who embarked on the lengthy Band-AID vs. USA 4 Africa discussion that went into several musical directions. Nice to know somebody enjoyed it.

PS Bob, next time Ann Althouse is on ask her how SHE feels about BJ? Something tells me her response won't be "benign." ;-)

claymisher 07-18-2008 12:04 AM

Re: Hitting the Panic Button
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 83938)
In fairness, Bob managed to call Obama a flip-flopper fewer than ten times. This week.

Heheh. It's funny because it's true.

bkjazfan 07-18-2008 12:23 AM

Re: Hitting the Panic Button
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 83959)
Hentoff is an irascible SOB with a completely sui generis outlook. I love the guy, but, outside the East Village, I'm not sure how much influence he has politically.

I think he's very sharp on first amendment issues and is a noted jazz critic, too. He wrote for the "Village Voice" for eons. I once saw him interviewing Louis Farrakan which was a real sight to behold. Hentoff, a prolific writer, is also an athiest and Farrakhan is well, Farrakhan. Not much was gleaned from that conversation.

John

AemJeff 07-18-2008 12:27 AM

Re: Hitting the Panic Button
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bkjazfan (Post 83964)
Not much was gleaned from that conversation.

Heh. I would love to have seen that.

uncle ebeneezer 07-18-2008 01:09 AM

Re: The ICC
 
Actually, as much as I would love a weekly HH episode, hopefully, she'll get a much more important job...starting in January '09!!

graz 07-18-2008 01:27 AM

Re: Hitting the Panic Button
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 83934)
This whole election Bob's been in the defensive crouch, always worried about Obama not walking on eggshells, as if Obama wouldn't be attacked if only he said just the magic words to escape the Republicans. You know what? They're going to attack no matter what. They'll just make up shit. So you might well go out and advance your case and not worry about bullshit artists.

So it was nice to see Heather settle Bob down here:

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/128...38&out=00:7:27

And then there's Bob again saying Obama should say something Obama's actually already said:

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/128...9&out=00:37:12

Come on Bob, stop parroting right wing talking points! Don't be a villager!

This was my complaint about the previous diavlog. Bob could be excused due to the pressure exerted by authorship and day job preoccupations - to say nothing of Fraiser's surgery. But the real problem of course as always is Mickey. Who would never counter any negativity about Obama that Bob misrepresents. Mickey is unable to be fair or thorough and well informed enough to be objective. Heather while simpatico politically, is still a journalist or wonk who accepts criticism and accountability.
Bye the way, Bob copped to being wrong about Parsley (credit to him for the mention). But, if you review the tape, Mickey was well aware of Bob's mistake but didn't pursue it because Bob steered the conversation away from Obama bashing and toward McCain.

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/126...1&out=00:51:04

I join the chorus in singing a la We are the World in the hope of serenading Heather into regular gig status.

look 07-18-2008 02:53 AM

Re: The ICC
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer (Post 83968)
Actually, as much as I would love a weekly HH episode, hopefully, she'll get a much more important job...starting in January '09!!

Agreed Eb, she'd be a tremendous asset to an Obama Administration. But till then, her appearances here will hopefully raise her already impressive profile.

Besides, she already has a great opener: 'Hello, Bloggingheads Nation!' I love it.

Chef 07-18-2008 12:14 PM

Re: The ICC
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chef (Post 83960)
Well, she actually co-wrote Romeo Dallaire's memoir about the Rwandan genocide. They made the book into a documentary of the same name: "Shake Hands with the Devil." I've had that documentary Tivo'ed for a couple months, but it's not generally the type of fare to watch right before bed.

Don't know what else she's written tho.


Actually, I ended up watching the documentary last night, and I have real mixed feelings. Mostly negative. Wouldn't really recommend watching this.

Not much dealing with the history, and their take on Africa seemed highly condescending such that even the murderers were nothing more than victims of Western ideology.

There were a lot of cartoonish statements, and not much of an ability to communicate whether "fog of war" issues might have been what hampered the Clinton administration.

The treatment of Paul Kagame is almost fawning. Now, I personally think Paul Kagame is a great leader, and the Rwandan recovery is due, in no small part, to his leadership. Perhaps, when the history is done, he'll be a hero of mine. However, the movie makers seem unaware of the long running, potent criticism of Kagame during and after the genocide.

This "white hat" treatment seriously hampers our thinking. After other attempts at genocide, there'd be no guarantee that we'd get leaders nearly so successful, stabilizing, and anti-corruption as Kagame.

uncle ebeneezer 07-18-2008 02:04 PM

Re: The ICC
 
Check out "Sometimes in April?" It was an HBO movie about Rwanda. Much less syrupy than Hotel Rwanda. Pretty good flick.

Exeus99 07-18-2008 02:16 PM

Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
With respect to this exchange:
I've been watching Bloggingheads for a long time, and Wright's reaction to Hulbert's proposal here is remarkable. The standard Wright objection to any escalation in force, any plan that would increase conflict, any violent actions undertaken by U.S. or Western powers, for whatever stated reasons, is to highlight the possibility of inflaming affected populations against the U.S., creating more terrorists by sowing the seeds of resentment, etc. Yet here, where Hulburt proposes sending large numbers of U.S. troops into a volitale region and to work with an unpopular military dictator in a geopolitically dangerous situation, the sum total of Wright's critique is a slight head bob that Heather can't see. Couldn't this plan cause violence to spread throughout and perhaps beyond Waziristan? Wouldn't our close cooperation with Pakistani forces turn some Muslims against us and/or possibly destabalize that nation further, making a true "clash of civilizations" much more likely? Aren't these the kinds of objections Wright raises EVERY TIME someone from the center or right advocates action that could possibly have these negative consequences, however remote the possibility? Can you image Mr. Kaus calling for the same action and NOT having objections of just this type raised against him, loudly, by Wright?
My rule for distinguishing hackery from opinions I just don't like is to ask whether the person in question is relying on an attitude that can be summed up by the phrase "well, it's different when we do it." With that in mind, why does Bob not raise any objections to Heather's plan for "progressive" intervention in Afghanistan? Why the silence? Are these standard Wright objections only operative when countering proposals from the right, and simply dropped when proposals with the same flaws (from the Wrightian perspective) are offered from the left--and if so, isn't this the quintessence of hackery?

Chef 07-18-2008 02:21 PM

Re: The ICC
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer (Post 84032)
Check out "Sometimes in April?" It was an HBO movie about Rwanda. Much less syrupy than Hotel Rwanda. Pretty good flick.

Thanks much, uncle. I'll do that.

Amazing how good HBO often is these days.

TwinSwords 07-18-2008 04:04 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Let's break your statement out into bullet points:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Exeus99 (Post 84034)
[...] Wright's reaction to Hulbert's proposal here is remarkable. The standard Wright objection to
— any escalation in force,
— any plan that would increase conflict,
— any violent actions undertaken by U.S. or Western powers,
— for whatever stated reasons,
is to highlight the possibility of inflaming affected populations against the U.S., creating more terrorists by sowing the seeds of resentment, etc.

Do you really believe that? It's obviously untrue, and without this premise, your conclusion is a lot weaker.

Sure, maybe Bob has a general reluctance to use force blindly, and a general tendency to be concerned about the fallout from reckless foreign policy. But you go way too far by suggesting that Bob would oppose force in any and all circumstances, especially when you go on to disprove your own point, here:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Exeus99 (Post 84034)
Yet here, where Hulburt proposes sending large numbers of U.S. troops into a volitale region and to work with an unpopular military dictator in a geopolitically dangerous situation, the sum total of Wright's critique is a slight head bob [...]

Your premise and your conclusion don't fit together. The premise needs work, because you're probably on to a reasonable inquiry about what the difference is between Bob being open minded to a Hurlburt foreign policy and less so to a Cheney foreign policy. But then you would be having a discussion about actual ideas, and not merely caricaturing your opponent to make him seem silly.

Wonderment 07-18-2008 04:26 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Quote:

With that in mind, why does Bob not raise any objections to Heather's plan for "progressive" intervention in Afghanistan? Why the silence? Are these standard Wright objections only operative when countering proposals from the right, and simply dropped when proposals with the same flaws (from the Wrightian perspective) are offered from the left--and if so, isn't this the quintessence of hackery?
I would note that many progressives are and have been very concerned about the occupation of Afghanistan, the continuing war there, and the Obama proposal for escalation.

Chef 07-18-2008 05:41 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwinSwords (Post 84048)

But you go way too far by suggesting that Bob would oppose force in any and all circumstances, especially when you go on to disprove your own point, here:

Can you be more specific here? I don't know whether Bob's always opposed to violence, but I can't think of any specific in which he is pro "use of force".

It seems the germ of his thinking is that the courageous response politicians should exercise is not to fly off the handle at most provocations. Conversely, he often equates war with political cowardice.

TwinSwords 07-18-2008 05:48 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chef (Post 84073)
Can you be more specific here? I don't know whether Bob's always opposed to violence, but I can't think of any specific in which he is pro "use of force".

It seems the germ of his thinking is that the courageous response politicians should exercise is not to fly off the handle at most provocations. Conversely, he often equates war with political cowardice.

He has repeatedly stated over the last 2.5 years that he's not sure what the right answer is in Iraq. While he has always said it was a collosal disaster going in, he has never been dogmatic about what to do to fix Bush's mess, and has remained open minded about the possible need to stay. He has never been for an immediate pullout, which is the only position that would be consistent with the gross caricature presented by Exeus99. Remaining open minded about the possible need to remain in Iraq in and of itself proves that Bob is willing to use violence to advance US interests. I don't know his position on Afghanistan, but I'd bet a nickle that he supported it, and another nickle that he thinks we should stay there.

Does he strike you as a knee jerk pacifist?

I agree with your 2nd paragraph, and will note your appropriate qualifier "often." If Exeus said "often" instead of "any" x 3 and "whatever," which are all encompassing and leave no room for exception, he would have had a stronger case. He just got carried away with the gross caricature and in the process rendered his argument invalid.

Chef 07-18-2008 06:49 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwinSwords (Post 84076)

Does he strike you as a knee jerk pacifist?

Nope. Not in the slightest. But the man has an exceedingly dry sense of humor. Though it usually makes me laugh, it also makes it difficult to see on which issues he is dogmatic.

I think it's more that he sees himself as willing to take the bet on a pacifist approach in many cases. He's more willing than 99% of any electable politician, so it comes off that he's pretty much a non-interventionist.

Have you ever read his book Non Zero? You don't come away from that book with the idea that he's a knee-jerk pacifist by any stretch. His chapter on warfare is unsentimental, and often captures the utility of violence or the threat of same. He then makes the case that modern war is increasingly a lose-lose-lose proposition.
He also paints a starker picture of forces that aren't amenable to traditional state control, but I don't know that he closes the door on using partially violent means to redirect these forces of chaos.

TwinSwords 07-18-2008 07:07 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chef (Post 84085)
Nope. Not in the slightest. But the man has an exceedingly dry sense of humor.

I don't know if "dry sense of humor" and "exceedingly flat affect" are the same thing or not, but have you ever watched any of the intial episodes of BHTV from 2006, when this glorious enterprise was first starting out? Bob is like a wild man today compared with back then. Every now and then in those early months, he and Mickey talk about Bob's need to show a little more emotional intensity. :)

Still, I think the world of him. We need more Bobs.

As for the rest of your characterization of Bob, I think it's spot on.



Quote:

Originally Posted by Chef (Post 84085)
Have you ever read his book Non Zero? You don't come away from that book with the idea that he's a knee-jerk pacifist by any stretch. His chapter on warfare is unsentimental, and often captures the utility of violence or the threat of same. He then makes the case that modern war is increasingly a lose-lose-lose proposition.
He also paints a starker picture of forces that aren't amenable to traditional state control, but I don't know that he closes the door on using partially violent means to redirect these forces of chaos.

No, I have not read his book, but need to. Thank you for the summary. I tend to agree with what you've described from it. In the modern age, humans absolutely have to evolve past the point where war is our solution to all our problems. Someone else said recently in this forum (I don't recall who) that a lot of conservatives just plain love war. Now, I realize this suggestion may be offensive to an even-tempered intellectual like yourself, but wouldn't you agree that at a base, emotional level, love for war is a central feature of the conservative mind? Do you think that's a good thing?

Chef 07-18-2008 07:38 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TwinSwords (Post 84087)
Every now and then in those early months, he and Mickey talk about Bob's need to show a little more emotional intensity. :)

Hehe. I still loved the whole "odd couple" schtick.



Quote:

Someone else said recently in this forum (I don't recall who) that a lot of conservatives just plain love war. Now, I realize this suggestion may be offensive to an even-tempered intellectual like yourself, but wouldn't you agree that at a base, emotional level, love for war is a central feature of the conservative mind? Do you think that's a good thing?
I shall steeple my fingers and invoke my best Peter Griffin voice:

"perhaps"


Far from even tempered, nor do I really know much, but thanks for the compliment nonetheless.

it's a big question, and you might be absolutely right. In point of fact, a lifelong hobby for me has been the playing of strategy games, and the study of military tactics and history. So even if it's not true of other conservatives, I don't see how it's untrue in my case.

But what if we turn it on its head? Societies often come to their collective story about themselves by means of war. Even in post-Soviet Russia, they revere and romanticise the struggle of the people, and the birthing of their empire through the crucible of WWII.
I doubt those who feel this way have much in common with America's brand of conservatism. But wouldn't anyone who is wanting to "conserve" that which is great about their country wax nostalgic and romantic about the wars of that nation?

At some point, though, we're treading into the same territory as Theodor Adorno and his notion of the Authoritarian Personality.

Chef 07-18-2008 08:36 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
So you don't pine for the old Bob?

I don't know if it gets any wilder than John Rawls humor.

TwinSwords 07-18-2008 08:54 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chef (Post 84093)
Hehe. I still loved the whole "odd couple" schtick.

LOL, that was great. Remember they let the viewers vote on which was more like Felix and which was more like Oscar? Ultimately, the decision came down to the physical resemblence (IMO): Bob and Felix are both thin with sharp features, while Oscar and Mickey are both largish, with more rounded features.



Quote:

Originally Posted by Chef (Post 84093)
it's a big question, and you might be absolutely right. In point of fact, a lifelong hobby for me has been the playing of strategy games, and the study of military tactics and history. So even if it's not true of other conservatives, I don't see how it's untrue in my case.

That's interesting; me, too, when it comes to strategy games. I can't get enough. So what do you play? Favorite game of all time? Any computer games in that mix? Ever play Supremacy? What a great game that was. I wish I could go back in time and play it all day, every day. I'm guessing you've played a few games of Axis & Allies in your time? Or are you more of a Panzer Leader type of gamer?


Quote:

Originally Posted by Chef (Post 84093)
At some point, though, we're treading into the same territory as Theodor Adorno and his notion of the Authoritarian Personality.

That's an excellent point, and the authoritarian<->anti-authoritarian continuum is probably more useful for much of our political analysis than the liberal<->conservative continuum.

TwinSwords 07-18-2008 08:58 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chef (Post 84112)
So you don't pine for the old Bob?

I don't know if it gets any wilder than John Rawls humor.

LOL! That was great. Bob, who can tell a joke without giving any outward indication that he said something funny. He is a lot more expressive these days.

Chef 07-18-2008 09:32 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Quote:

That's interesting; me, too, when it comes to strategy games. I can't get enough. So what do you play? Favorite game of all time? Any computer games in that mix? Ever play Supremacy? What a great game that was. I wish I could go back in time and play it all day, every day. I'm guessing you've played a few games of Axis & Allies in your time? Or are you more of a Panzer Leader type of gamer?


Well, in the interests of not geeking out completely, my answer is pretty much "all of the above." Grew up playing Avalon Hill, and I'm probably one of the odd ducks who think that Advanced Squad Leader is the greatest game ever made by man.

However, these days I pretty much just stick with the "German Style" games that you can pull out if you're having dinner guests.

Stuff like Settlers of Catan, or Puerto Rico.

As for computer games. I've recently gotten into playing a game called Dingalink, but it's more G-rated than it sounds.

uncle ebeneezer 07-18-2008 10:16 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Graz, go read Nonzero...now. It's REALLY good. For all the negatives one can say about Clinton, he had great taste in books. I may just have to re-read it.

uncle ebeneezer 07-18-2008 10:21 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Thanks for that dingalink. Classic! I've actually never watched the premiere episode before. Amazing that something from 2 years ago can look so "retro". And the energy and enthusiasm! Was this the only diavlog that Mickey didn't mention immigration or welfare? Aah the good old days.

graz 07-18-2008 10:27 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer (Post 84119)
Graz, go read Nonzero...now. It's REALLY good. For all the negatives one can say about Clinton, he had great taste in books. I may just have to re-read it.

Yes Doctor (uncle eb). I would accept the prescription offered -except that I have already read it- but what is the affliction you were treating.

uncle ebeneezer 07-18-2008 11:27 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Sorry, too many post-work beers...TwinSwords, go read....

graz 07-19-2008 12:04 AM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer (Post 84127)
Sorry, too many post-work beers...

An InBev product or maybe an American microbrew?

Chef 07-19-2008 12:16 AM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
That way, if you ever win an argument with him, you can say:

"Robert, you magnificent bastard, I read your book!!"

look 07-19-2008 01:20 AM

Re: Hitting the Panic Button
 
Quote:


I am unpersuaded by Heather's defense of the remark and agree that it was a major gaffe and was an outrageous pander to AIPAC.
I'm not expert on Israeli affairs, but lots of people were outraged by the 'undivided Jerusalem' phrase. It was strange to hear Heather say she would 'swear her life' that Obama didn't mean it as it was perceived. I can imagine a kind of Clintonian parsing here: that Obama didn't mean it as it is commonly understood by those in the know, but he knew Aipac would take it that way.

Introducing Obama's new press secretary...Heather Hurlburt. She'll blow Dana Perino out of the water. *wink*

Exeus99 07-22-2008 01:14 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery
 
TwinSwords:

If you prefer bullet points, allow me:

1. Wright’s standard reaction to proposals involving the use of Western military force (esp. against those in the Middle East or Muslims) is to oppose such proposals on a principal of caution-this opposition usually comes in the form of raising general objections.

2. Hurlburt in this diavlog proposes an increase in Western military force in a volatile region, force to be used against Muslims.

3. Wright does not voice opposition to Hurlburt’s proposal.

(4. unstated premise [in the first paragraph] The refusal to oppose a position in a case where the position is held by one’s political allies is evidence of hackery, esp. when one would otherwise/has previously voiced strong opposition when a similar position was espoused by one’s political opponents.)

5. Tentative conclusion phrased as a question: Is Wright’s refusal to object to Hurlburt’s proposal hackery?

Truncating, you could have a syllogism in the form
Not objecting to ideas you oppose when offered by ideological allies is hackery.
Wright doesn’t object to an idea he opposes when offered by Hurlburt (an ideological ally).
Wright engages in hackery.

You’ll note that my definition of hackery here amounts to a charge of intellectual dishonesty; this is the sense in which I use the term. I was additionally careful not to state that Wright is a hack only that in this part of this ‘vlog he was acting like a hack.

Now, you state that my conclusion does not follow from my premises. This is wrong, it does logically follow. If you want to attack this argument, let me offer some suggestions.
You want to challenge 1., and this is probably the best place to start. You assert that my categorization of Wright’s response is overly broad, to the point of caricature. I think you’re focusing too much on the conditions to which I claim Wright offers his “standard” objections and conflating this with what I claim is Wright’s standard objection in those cases, but my argument can survive weakening the strenuousness of my assertion in 1. Saying that Wright’s standard objection to proposals to increase the use of military force in the Middle East or against Muslim populations when such an increase can possibly lead to a greater likelihood of a “clash of civilizations” and/or create more hatred against the West does not mean that I think Wright is a pacifist; I did not and do not say that he is a pacifist. When referring to the extent of the types of proposals to which Wright raises these objections I was thinking specifically about a long-ago diavlog between Wright and Kaus where Kaus raised, as a boundary case, a situation where a terrorist leader was spotted in a camp and we had to capability to bomb that camp and kill the leader, but only by also killing civilians. Kaus asked whether Wright would still raise the “increased hatred/making more terrorists” argument in a situation like this, where Kaus deliberately made the benefits (in killing a terrorist leader) plain, large, and certain, and Wright predictably answered that at that point he would still have reservations severe enough that he might not order the bombing. I remember this instance because I commented at the time that as someone familiar with game theory Wright should understand the concept of credible threats, and that no matter how much he might say in different cases that he wasn’t opposed to using violent force in the abstract, his threat to do so wasn’t credible since when confronted with concrete examples he always seemed to raise his standard objections and balk at taking action. To my mind, then, the question of whether Wright has a standard objection to specific proposals to increase the use of force is settled in the affirmative. 1. can be attacked on the basis that this is not settled, but your claim that my characterization is too absolute does not do this; I say Wright has a “standard” response, not that he raises it 100% of the time (since this is falsifiable with one example I’ve overlooked), but most of the time in a wide variety of cases involving increasing force when proposed by someone on the right or in the center politically. Keep in mind that I could also defend my original phrasing as being hyperbolic for rhetorical purposes, saying “every” to emphasize “almost all,” etc.-this would undermine the force of my argument somewhat but wouldn’t defeat it.

2. can be attacked tangentially, but even then with difficulty. You could argue that Hurlburt’s proposal to increase military force in the specific case is different from previous cases in significant ways or more daringly that her proposal to increase military force isn’t really a proposal to increase violent conflict, etc. Destroying 2. would make the conclusion fail to follow, but this would probably best be accomplished by a means that did not resemble arguing that a proposal was valid because Hurlburt wanted someone competent to do it, etc., since this would be feeding back in to my original point. In other words, you should probably avoid making what I claim is a hackey argument to attack premise 2 in what I claim is a hackey non-objection by Wright. A better tack might be to say that Hurlburt’s proposal might increase violence, tension, resentment, etc. (all opposed by Wright) in the very short run, but it, unlike other proposals Wright usually voices objections to, would quickly turn things around to such a degree that the good done by these actions would mitigate any problems they might cause, even in the short run. Again, you’d have to argue that this would be true for some reason other than “our guys would do it right.” Looking at these short-term vs. long-term costs and benefits is usually Wright’s reason for opposing increases in Western force, anyway, so this line of attack would be tricky. 2. seems fairly solid.

3. likewise seems safe. Wright doesn’t raise objections, and certainly doesn’t raise objections to Hurlburt’s proposal in the way he has objected to categorically-similar proposals from non-ideological allies. You could cite his head bob as an objection, or as the intention to raise some cautionary objections. I personally think this is the tack Wright himself would take if he addressed my point, that he disagreed with Hurlburt and was going to raise his standard objections but realized that time was running low, didn’t want to interrupt, wanted to get a different topic in, got distracted by something else she said, etc.-in this way he could deny hackery and argue that the absence of an objection here, while real, does not indicate what I strongly suggest it indicates. This avenue would allow Wright to claim that he retained his valued intellectual honesty and to rely as evidence on his own state of mind/inner thoughts, which obviously I can’t know and thus can’t successfully dispute. This seems like a rhetorically convincing way to attack my post, assuming Wright can count on his audience to presume his “innocence;” if those he tries to convince in this way are likely to think he’s telling the truth about what he was thinking at that time, I would have to dispute his claims about his own thoughts and intentions and overcome this goodwill, a daunting task. 3. is thus vulnerable from Wright himself, but only insomuch as he argues that while it appears to be true nevertheless for various reasons it is not correct in a way that matters. Note that, while potentially effective, this does not render my argument logically incorrect; Wright would in this scenario argue that I was superficially correct but that this had no significance.

4. relies heavily on what I describe as a personal definition of an ill-defined phenomenon. You could counter that what I describe isn’t real hackery, that what I correctly describe as hackery isn’t in itself bad, or isn’t bad as applied, or even that it is only bad when applied certain ways. In one sense this premise is the weakest, since it is subject to attack on so many fronts. I could, however, counter any of these objections with a claim that this definition, application, and judgment (of hackery being a bad thing) are my own personal definitions, and by acknowledging that these were personal opinions I could generously allow that you might differ in your definition and appraisal of what I term hackery. This would put me in the advantageous rhetorical position of rejecting something generally seen as bad (hackery) while implying that you embrace it; by casting the argument in this light I could (subtly) say “I guess some people like you think it’s ok to be a hack.” Failing this we could disagree in various ways about what a good definition of hackery is, and whether a consensus definition would apply to the situation with Wright’s non-objection. 4. is not bulletproof, but by framing my definition and application of the phenomenon in question as my own personal judgment, and tacitly arguing that this definition is common-sense and broadly held, I have limited its vulnerability.

5. is my conclusion, which you claim disproves my premises. This is incorrect. I am pointing out the contrast between Wright’s actions in the past and his lack of action here; between his objections to suggestions like Hurlburt’s when made by those not on the left and his non-objection to Hurlburt’s proposal when made by Hurlburt. A sharp distinction exists, yes, but this is the essence of my argument that Wright’s non-objection represents hackery, not a refutation of my point! I am arguing that Wright is inconsistent, and thus pointing out the inconsistency (in Wright) which I use as evidence does not undermine my argument. 5. logically follows from the premises.

cont'

Exeus99 07-22-2008 01:15 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery (cont)
 
(continued from above)

This argument, of course, relies on a number of other unstated premises. One is that Wright should be expected to show consistency in when he raises objections, argues with intellectual honesty, etc. Showing that this isn’t true, that Wright shows no consistency and thus can’t be expected to would be fatal to my argument but not very complimentary to Wright, a challenging way to attack. Better is to point out that my characterization of the relevant issues is open for debate, that while my argument follows logically in the abstract it simply does not apply in this specific case for various reasons. Doing that has the advantage of seeming to give ground and compromise while still taking an oppositional stance; saying “you’re right in general terms but wrong to use that framework here.” Using that strategy you would also gain the upper hand in framing the relevant question-you could appear reasonable while defining any disagreement in the way most beneficial to your argument.
These are some of the ways my argument that Wright’s failure to object to Hurlburt’s proposal represents the quintessence of hackery can be attacked. Arguing that the conclusion does not follow from the premises, (even when 1. is weakened/broadened in a way more consistent with your objections) is unlikely to be successful.

bjkeefe 07-22-2008 02:36 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery (cont)
 
Exeus99:

You're making way too big a deal of this. If you think about it, the only time that Bob vigorously disagrees with anybody about anything on this site is when he's talking to Mickey. (Okay, or when reacting to a commenter.) His manner in diavlogs where he's paired with someone else is much more that of an interviewer. He'll push back a little bit, at times, but almost always, it will be in the form of a question like, "But don't you think ...?" or "How would you respond to someone who says ...?"

Exeus99 07-22-2008 03:09 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery (cont)
 
bjkeefe, you’re answering an argument I didn’t make. I did not claim that Wright shouts, becomes angry, etc., just that he raises a standard set of objections to proposals of this sort when presented from the center or right, and that here he raises none. If we agree arguendo that Wright usually raises objections/"pushes back" by asking questions, you're still forced to admit that he asked no such questions here, nor he does not raise objections in any meaningful way.
If you’re saying he only raises these objections with Kaus, far from being exculpatory, this actually reinforces my point, since Wright often seems to see Kaus as some sort of secret crypto-con. TwinSwords disputed my assertion that Wright’s refusal to raise objections to Hurlburt’s proposal and claimed that it did not logically follow from my premises. I tried to clarify my argument, show that it did in fact follow, and suggest alternate ways TwinSwords might nonetheless attack my argument. I stand by my belief that Wright’s decision to not raise his typical objections to plans of Hurlburt’s kind was a hack move that should be beneath Wright.

TwinSwords 07-22-2008 03:39 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery (cont)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Exeus99 (Post 84410)
bjkeefe, you’re answering an argument I didn’t make. I did not claim that Wright shouts, becomes angry, etc., just that he raises a standard set of objections to proposals of this sort when presented from the center or right, and that here he raises none. If we agree arguendo that Wright usually raises objections/"pushes back" by asking questions, you're still forced to admit that he asked no such questions here, nor he does not raise objections in any meaningful way.
If you’re saying he only raises these objections with Kaus, far from being exculpatory, this actually reinforces my point, since Wright often seems to see Kaus as some sort of secret crypto-con. TwinSwords disputed my assertion that Wright’s refusal to raise objections to Hurlburt’s proposal and claimed that it did not logically follow from my premises. I tried to clarify my argument, show that it did in fact follow, and suggest alternate ways TwinSwords might nonetheless attack my argument. I stand by my belief that Wright’s decision to not raise his typical objections to plans of Hurlburt’s kind was a hack move that should be beneath Wright.

Exeus,
I appreciate your thoughtful and detailed response, but I will echo Brendan's observation: Bob just doesn't get into it with others like he does with Mickey. Instead, he plays the gracious host and interviewer.

I would also say that you're overlooking the most important factor in what you allege to be Bob's inconsistency: Who's president.

The same set of plans might seem like a good idea with Obama, Hillary, or even McCain in the White House, but a disaster waiting to happen with Bush at the helm. Bush has a proven track record of failure, bad instincts, terrible judgement, inability to course-correct, and he refuses to face unpleasant realities that are important to the success of his endeavors.

It's only natural that Bob shares with the American public extreme skepticism about anything Bush might attempt. But it would be a mistake to suggest that this forecloses the options available to Bush's successor.

Chef 07-22-2008 06:23 PM

Re: Wright & the Quintessence of Hackery (cont)
 
Hi, Exeus... You might be onto something, but can I offer a minor defense of Bob here?

In a sense, the difference between Mickey and Heather is that the former admits that he's not a big foreign policy guy. However, he often casts his disagreements with Bob about foreign policy in terms of Bob's own book NONZERO. So I think Bob might be hyper-tuned to the way Mickey might be using his own ideas to support opposite conclusions.

Heather, on the other hand, does not play the "quote Bob to Bob" game and has pertinent expertise in foreign affairs. Perhaps this makes Bob far more leery about launching a frontal attack on her Cheney-esque proposal.

In sum, I think your point #3 lacks clarity-- in that Bob might ignore an objectionable proposal from an expert, where he would smack down that same proposal if it came from a dabbler.

I daresay I myself am far more snide and dismissive if I get a sense that the other party knows less than I do about a particular subject. It's not an admirable trait, but a natural one.

Just a thought.


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