"Cherokee" - Cat Power
I send this one out to Elizabeth Warren. She can play it at her victory party over that contemptible frat boy from my home state.
- This was an excellent piece in the New York Times dealing with -- and pretty much dismantling -- the "end of men" thesis.
- I generally like much of what Freddie DeBoer has to say, but there is an arrogance to his holier than thou, leftier than liberal, pacifism that can really grate. I am not cavalier about the use of war as an instrument of policy. But I think one has to be awfully naive to think that the use of violence is ever going to cease as an instrument of statescraft. Empirical evidence would seem to strongly suggest otherwise. And the fact of the matter is that most of us -- even good lefties who do not want to see the reflexive use of force -- are not pacifists. The vast majority of us do not believe in non-violence in all circumstances, which is pretty much Freddie's credo as far as I can tell. Thus, the notion that a bunch of centrist liberals, like TBogg or the folks at LG&M are somehow betraying our liberal ideology by not condemning Obama for drone strikes seems to me to be based on a mistaken premise. Unlike Freddie, Conor Friedersdorf, Glenn Greenwald, and the rest of the purity brigade, I actually take al Qaeda seriously as a threat. I don't get all hysterical about it, I don't think that we should turn the world upside down to combat them, but I am pretty comfortable with the notion of hunting these people down and killing them after the series of violent attacks that they have perpetrated on Americans -- as well as the series of botched attempts that they and their sympathizers have made. Drones actually present the least bad option in terms of accomplishing this ends. Now, one can argue -- as I am sure Freddie would -- that there is no justification for killing the AQ people and certainly no justification for killing those who may be innocent bystanders who are in the area with them. I just can't think of any nation-state that has allowed itself to be so completely hamstrung in the area of defense.
The American people expect President Obama to try to protect them, including using reasonable force against those who would do us harm. Were Obama to declare that he was simply taking the use of force off the table with respect to AQ, the electoral consequences would be profound.
We vote for a president regarding his/her position on a vast array of issues. One can certainly decide that there are issues or an issue that is make or break from one's point of view. If drone attacks are that issue then by all means, go ahead and vote that way -- although do so knowing that a third party vote or a non-vote is a vote for Romney in this case. But don't expect the rest of us to think you're correct in this analysis and seriously, don't think it makes you a better lefty than the rest of us. I've devoted my life to working for the labor movement, my wife has devoted hers to the protection of reproductive rights and women's health -- don't come into our house and tell us that whether Obama or Romney wins makes no difference, unless you want a black eye. (And that's before I even get involved.)
Finally, contrary to what Freddie suggests, we don't hate him and Greenwald and the Firebaggers -- and we certainly don't feel more aggrieved by them than we do the right wingers. I think what you hear reflected in the work of someone like TBogg, who has much the same tone as I would generally adopt, is the incredible frustration, borne of age, at the folly of purism when we have seen this movie too. Whether it be people voting for Anderson in 1980 or pulling the lever for Nader in 2000 or simply deciding that the differences between Gore and Bush or Obama and Romney weren't enough to worry about. It seems to me that politics is a pragmatic and utilitarian process in addition to being a moral one. The need for purity is going to consign you to a pretty narrow place in the spectrum of a very large and very complicated country, where the need to garner majority support necessarily requires some degree of compromise, some recognition that gradualism is the best we can typically hope for.
It's life and life only.
Chime in. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong as well.