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The stupidest way to argue against bombing Syria

12:27 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

The loser way to debate is to cede the main argument to the other side, which in the case of Syria is, “Who killed all those babies?” By doing just that, Giles Fraser of the Guardian and Bob Dreyfuss of The Nation become the worst ‘friends’ anti-bombing folks could have. (And the Obombers are far from ‘winning’ this debate: even after the chemical horror and the intense media push to bomb, only 9% of Americans want to intervene.) Fraser starts his argument:

But if the logic is simply that Assad is a 24-carat wrong-un, that his use of chemical weapons against his own people is a moral outrage, therefore we need to act – then we are doing little more than satisfying our own sense of retributive morality, and one that has become blurred with a large dollop of action-hero crap.

I responded in the Guardian comments like this:

Your ‘no attack’ argument accepts the premise that Assad is guilty, presupposing this before the UN inspection team is given a chance to look into the incident. How is that supposed to persuade anyone? We of course don’t know who was responsible for the horrific poison gas incident, but we do know who benefits, and we do know that earlier UN inspectors said that the evidence pointed to the rebels being perpetrators rather than the government.

Dreyfuss is an even blunter fail:

Here’s the core question now, in regard to Syria: If it’s true that President Bashar al-Assad’s government used poison gas in an incident that killed hundreds of people, at least, in the suburbs of Damascus, can the United States avoid military action in response?

No, that’s not the core question, it’s the core assumption that must be all-out attacked. Anyway, I wrote in the comments (borrowing a bit from my other comment):

So your ‘no war’ argument starts with accepting the premise that Assad is guilty? An ‘F’ in persuasive writing for you. And you presuppose — like the US and its fellow invaders — before the UN inspection team has been allowed to look into the incident. We of course don’t know who was responsible for the horrific poison gas incident, but we do know who benefits, and we do know that earlier UN inspectors said that the evidence pointed to the rebels being perpetrators rather than the government.

In sum, the only way to respond to this rush to bomb is to shout, “Wait, let the UN inspectors do their job!”Why the rush?”

Well, we can make a very good guess as to why the bombers are rushing, because Obama’s advisers guess that the UN inspections will either be inconclusive or point at the rebels. Why the rush? We saw the same thing in Iraq: while Saddam was opening up the country to UN inspectors, the U.S. was threatening them with bombardment unless they left immediately.

Britain’s tell-it-like-it-is George Galloway offers the common sense way to argue against bombing and killing Syrians:

It is entirely implausible that the Syrian regime chose the moment of the arrival of a UN chemical weapons inspection team to launch a chemical attack on an insurgency already suffering reverse after reverse on the battlefield and steadily losing international support with each new video showing them eating the hearts of slain soldiery and sawing of the heads of Christian priests with bread knives.In the absence of conclusive evidence one would have to believe that the Assad regime was mad as well as bad to have launched such a chemical attack at a time when it is in less danger than it has been for almost a year. I do not believe that Bashar is mad.

The exceptional implausibility if not absurdity of Assad creating such an incident on the very day the UN inspectors arrived, even though he was doing great waging conventional warfare on the rebels… And yet we have ‘anti-intervention’ mainstream opinionists like Dreyfuss and Glaser conceding instead of defending that rock-solid first line of argument. The conspiracy-minded might ask whose side they’re really on. Me, I just think that they’re absorbed in the Western imperial media’s black and white portrayal of the complicated Syrian reality. And/or stupid.

Finally, and cringeworthily, Fraser wailed that nothing could be done:

For there is obviously no wider plan as to how the west might enable Syria to transition to a more stable and peaceful state. Perhaps no such plan is possible.

Besides sticking his jaw out for the obvious hysterical interventionist response (“But we have to do something!”), what a willfully ignorant statement. I answered:

There obviously could be such a plan, since the armed opposition would largely disappear without massive Western and Saudi support. That would make for a much more peaceful and stable Syria.

Denial of reality: a specialty of the mainstream media, sad rags of common-sense destroying, Western-imperialism-ignoring propaganda.

Wait, Obama is _leading_ the fiscal cliff scare campaign

5:34 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Establishment writers, liberal and conservative, in careering or faith-based defiance of reality, continue to frame mainstream political processes as oppositional. The ‘huh?’ head scratching over Aditya Chakrabortty’s new Guardian article starts with the sub-head:

The economic abyss is a distortion peddled by the US right and Obama’s Democrats – just like Britain’s left – need to counter the myth

Wait … wh-at? You’re beseeching “Obama’s Democrats” to what? COUNTER the myth? But, aren’t they, I mean …

Obama demands fast action on fiscal cliff
Election behind him, Obama to talk “fiscal cliff”
Obama to Discuss ‘Fiscal Cliff’ with Labor Leaders

So can it be any more obvious who is leading the campaign to over-hype a fiscal slope into a cliff? Obama! Obama’s Democrats! I can’t believe you haven’t noticed this, so I ask why the perverse denial of reality? Are you just afraid of the career consequences of ditching the liberal/conservative oppositional frame? Have you looked at the main campaign contributors (Big Finance! Wall Street!) to Obama, the Obama Democrats, and to the Republicans, both this year and in 2008? Why hasn’t that blown up your oppositional fantasy world?

What agenda are you selling, Mr. Chakrabortty? The myth that we have two parties, one of which is ‘for us’ and the other ‘right wing’? Sorry, but a President-Obama-led ‘fiscal cliff’ scare campaign is not the place to push that. The evidence emphatically contradicts your thesis. (Helpful hint: peddle that stuff over abortion or gay marriage.)

If you want the details of what the Obama Democrats have planned regarding the slope, listen to former Senate Majority Leader and Obama Democrat Tom Daschle:

“I don’t think there’s any question that entitlement reform will be a part of whatever new agreement is reached,” former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said at an event here Thursday sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. “I do think cost containment for Medicare and Medicaid will be a very important part of the discussion.”

And when it gets to the final minutes, Obama’s Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will be ready to clang the debt limit alarm bells:

“Geithner’s role is going to be to ride shotgun on the debt limit and make sure that everybody is sufficiently alarmed about that,” said Robert Bixby, director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan advocate for responsible fiscal policy. “And that would help bring a negotiation to a conclusion.”

Or, just read Glenn Greenwald.

Like you say, we’ve all been here before, this cliff b.s. is the same as the preceding — and wildly successful for big finance and the right — bipartisan/multipartisan scare campaigns, the ones we saw in fall 2008 in the U.S. and in the spring 2010 in Britain, when

Democratic debate was railroaded; the wrong economic policy was followed – and it was all done to avert a wildly inflated threat.

Though in all three cases, a “wrong” economic policy for almost all of society was and is right, great, from the perspective of the rich, Big Finance, big banks, and the neoliberal ideologues who control the major parties in both Britain and the U.S.

Finally, Aditya, another example, your incoherent conclusion:

I can only hope that America’s Democrats learn their lesson from the British experience. Because the right here owned the language and framed the debate.

Again, uh, the opposition between the Democrats and “the right.” What agenda are you serving with that lie?

Rep. Louie Gohmert: Aurora killings “a senseless, crazy act of terror”

10:34 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Rep. Louie Gohmert, like just about everyone else, calls the Aurora, Colorado massacre, in which at least 12 have died, “a senseless, crazy act of terror.”

However, the Huffington Post headlines Gohmert’s statements like this: Louie Gohmert: Aurora Shootings Result Of ‘Ongoing Attacks On Judeo-Christian Beliefs’. That lie is now widely echoed across the nets. For example, Steve Benen piles on at MaddowBlog: “So, in the mind of this strange Republican congressman, a madman killed 12 people because of … the separation of church and State? The First Amendment is to blame for a shooting spree in a movie theater?”

Gohmert makes no cause-and-effect statement about the Aurora incident, but does say that he believes an increase in all such senseless acts of mass murder is a result of a general decline in Judeo-Christian values here in the U.S. I personally don’t think of this as a weird, unreasonable or ridiculous point of view. I disagree with Gohmert, but think we could have a reasonable and respectful discussion on the issue.

Lying about what Gohmert said, as HuffPost and MaddowBlog and others have done, replaces that potential discussion with ridicule. Of course, if you believe Gohmert supporters — who were likely nodding their heads ‘yes’ while he spoke about the harmful effects of a decline in Judeo-Christian values — are hopeless racist lunatics, respectful engagement doesn’t matter and you can ignore this diary.

By the way, Gohmert also suggests in the interview that a conceal-and-carry law might have helped prevent the Aurora massacre, and he is surprised when his host tells him that Colorado already has such a law. So, on that issue, maybe ridicule would’ve been a sensible response, because you don’t have to bend the facts at all to get to the laugh line.

Anyway, most of us here agree that Gohmert is generally wrong and mixed-up about what’s wrong with the U.S. However, many potential allies and members of a populist left agree with his main point, about the damaging effects of a ‘decline in Judeo-Christian values,’ whatever that means (it can of course mean almost anything). Lying about what he said in that regard and then ridiculing him for what he ‘said’ is not the way to connect with those folks, in my humble opinion.

Meanwhile, New York mayor Bloomberg raises the right issue, probably the only thing we should be discussing related to the killings right this minute:

“No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment… we have a right to hear from both of them concretely… what are they going to do about guns.”

Sorry mayor, nothing from  either of them. (Those Obama and Romney press releases, by the way, generated this header from Salon: Romney ducks gun control.)

P.S. — On second thought, I think it is also useful to bring up that, based on the recent history of utterly senseless killings in the U.S. (where the alleged assailant apparently has no history of violent or disruptive mental illness, and there are no political or religious overtones to the acts), that this tragedy likely involves antidepressants, specifically the delicate and dangerous task of withdrawal. Dr. David Healy’s blog is the best place to begin exploring the antidepressant story in detail.