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March 28, 2007


Dennis Perrin talks with Roseanne Barr on her new radio show.

Arthur Silber writes about how we're "Sleeping Walking to the End of the World"

Chris Floyd appears on Antiwar Radio to discuss the rendition of a U.S. citizen to Ethiopia.

Mike Davis, writing for Tomdispatch, asks "Have the Car-bombers Already Defeated the Surge?: The Weapon No One Can Stop"

Posted at March 28, 2007 12:11 PM | TrackBack

Ok, so I am afraid that I am so narrow minded that I can only come with the same old question that I have asked for several years now(on and off the net). WHY ARE WE STILL PAYING THESE PEOPLE? I mean if they're just going to throw it all away any how, and we want to have something we can do about it, well then just STOP PAYING THEM. Unless, of course, this is REALLY the AMERICA we want. (and I'm thinking it is)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 28, 2007 12:41 PM

I don't understand the point of linking to Arthur Silber. In the post you point to, he accuses liberal bloggers of ignoring Iran, when I read liberal blog-writing about Iran every day. Claims like "Needless to say, before the installation of George W. Bush in the White House, misdeeds of this kind never soiled the intact virginity of the morally perfect American republic" are especially infuriating. Who on earth believes that? And that's far from the only use of straw man tactics on display.

Silber accuses the reader of neglecting to take meaningful action against the possibility of war with Iran, but fails to explain what meaningful actions he thinks we can take. In an era when we can stage enormous record-setting rallies against the Iraq War to no end, it's hardly obvious how citizens can make a difference when it comes to Iran.

It's easy to say we need to take action without bothering to explain what effective action can be taken, and easy to sneer and call your fellow citizens sleepwalkers for failing to act. I don't see Silber setting a course for action, so where does he get off bitching that the rest of us aren't doing enough to prevent an attack on Iran?

Honestly, I see virtually no value in the Arthur Silber post you link, beyond flattering smug misanthropes.

Posted by: Helena at March 28, 2007 01:27 PM

Helena: I must agree.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 28, 2007 04:11 PM

Helena...Did you even read Silber's post? Have you ever read his stuff? Of course he doesn't think the United States was innocent before Bush took office. And he does list specific actions to take. It is hyperlinked in the word "there" in the last line of this paragraph:

"I could point you to my essay from a month ago, outlining some critical steps that the Congressional Democrats and the rest of us could take...There; I pointed you to it."

Damn, girl. Sleepwalking indeed.

Posted by: New Day at March 28, 2007 04:27 PM

I've seen a lot places on the net where people are trying to stop the war.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 28, 2007 05:57 PM

But, too often, acting to stop the war consists of supporting the Democratic Party. Which Mr. Silber makes clear is pretty damn useless.

Not that I have any grounds to respond-I'm one of the useless ones myself :(

Posted by: Brian at March 28, 2007 11:26 PM

Brian: I'm NOT a Democrat and at this point do not care for that party, but facts is facts, they ARE the Majority in Congress. You go to PEACE with the Congress you have not the Congress you want.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 29, 2007 12:14 AM

I find Arthur Silbers blog to be very informative, much more than some of the more well known blogs. He says some uncomfortable things but then the truth is often uncomfortable. Have the democrats done all they could to stop the war? I think the answer is they have not. Will they stop the war? I don’t think they will because they believe in America’s right to pursue empire as much as the republicans do.

Posted by: rob payne at March 29, 2007 01:41 AM

Of course he doesn't think the United States was innocent before Bush took office.

Please read more carefully. In that quote, Silber was suggesting that liberal bloggers (or sleepwalking citizens, or whoever he was excoriating at that point) believed that the United States was innocent before Bush took office. I said: "Who on earth believes that?" I protest it because Silber imputes this belief to others, then derides them for believing it. It's classic straw-man rhetoric.


So the "plan" is we... talk our jaws off until Bush gives in to liberal complaints, which is something Bush has basically never done and shows profound unwillingness to ever do, to the point of destroying his own party's prospects with his refusal to compromise with the left. Very promising. THAT SUGGESTION DOESN'T SOUND CONVINCING EVEN WHEN IT'S MADE IN ALL CAPS.

"In every statement about an attack on Iran, no opponent of this administration can accept any of the terms of debate chosen by the administration." We are still in the realm of all talk, and so far the "plan" only applies to people with access to the media, not to us ordinary citizens Silber scolds for sleepwalking.

Other elements of his plan include "If I had the money, I would take out full-page ads in the leading national newspapers", contacting politicians to pressure them about Iran, talking about Iran to friends and family, and writing op-eds if you're a writer. Well, I don't have the money for those ads either, I've already contacted politicians, signed petitions, made calls and faxes, and I'm not an op-ed writer.

The trend I notice with Silber's "plan" is how each meaningful step depends on our already having power, influence, media access, and/or money.

Us ordinary citizens are given the startling gameplan of writing our politicians and talking politics with those around us. Wow, that's only... exactly what we've been asked to do about every single issue for which the left tries to raise awareness ever! Exactly what every single liberal I personally read and talk to has already done since back when Seymour Hersh first made it clear that a conflict with Iran is a serious danger!

Please. That isn't a "plan", it's a cop-out camouflaged with all caps and vehemence. He might as well have told us to cross our fingers and wish real hard for peace. And then called us all herd animals because HE CAN'T HEAR YOU WISHING, AMERICA.

I understand the guy's frustration, I do. The prospect of war with Iran makes me terrified and disgusted beyond my ability to express. What bugs the shit out of me about Silber is that his post seemed calculated to deride, insult, and discourage exactly the people who are already actively engaged with this problem.

I'm particularly annoyed that Silber bitched out the left for paying attention to a Constitutional crisis in the US judicial branch. Excuse us for thinking that maybe if we weaken Bush & Company's grip on domestic power, we'll be in a better position to prevent the administration from launching another war of choice. What sleepwalkers we are! What fools!

It's been a long time since I've read anything as discouraging and counter-productive than that Silber post. If it flattered your smug misanthropy, enjoy.

Posted by: Helena at March 29, 2007 08:33 AM

I encounter quite a few people who seem to think that America had a pretty good foreign policy until Bush came along. Anyone who supports Hillary Clinton is likely to fall into that category.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at March 29, 2007 04:48 PM

Donald, I agree.

And now that the Democrats have again got some significant political power,we are seeing the return of that kind of thinking.

Contra Helena, I think the "Constitutional crisis in the US judicial branch" is a fine example of this:

At the same time that we are seeing ridiculous backslapping over a bill further funding our Iraq crimes (the fraud being the claim that this bill moves us closer to *ending* the war);

At the same time that the legislature could use its mandate to actually *do* something about ending that war (please, see TalkLeft for some real discussion of this -- my word for it means nothing, I know);

At the same time, as I say, we are instead witnessing the spectacle around this other supposed "crisis" (the final outcome of which can be in little doubt: the Democrats will have to concede that there's effectively no distinguishing between "fired for political reasons" (legal) and "fired for not using your powers to further political ends" (supposedly illegal). And please, be smart, the resignation of an AG would mean exactly nothing for your 'crisis' -- in legal terms it would be a 'settlement' with no force as a precedent.

Posted by: Don at March 30, 2007 02:13 PM

Helena, your comment is blatantly dishonest. What Silber said about liberal bloggers and Iran was

most of the liberal and progressive blogs have virtually nothing to say about the prospect of an attack on Iran -- or, to be more precise, nothing to say that impels them to act (or even to encourage others to act) in a way that might actually matter

Your complaint about his use of caps to separate sections of post and emphasize the points he wants to make is smug, picayune and stupid. This

It's been a long time since I've read anything as discouraging and counter-productive than that Silber post. If it flattered your smug misanthropy, enjoy.

is nothing more than outraged sanctimony.

Posted by: Scruggs at March 31, 2007 07:28 AM

I had some of the same reaction to Arthur's piece that Helena did, despite having read and appreciate a great deal of his writing over the last five years.

If the problem is not enough, or not enough of the right kind, of argument against a U.S. war on Iran at Digby and Atrios, then why not use email and their comments sections to urge them to take up the issue, and to take on the weaknesses of the way in which leading Democratic politicians have posed the Iran issue?

Digby has done more than Atrios or some other liberal Dem blogs on the issue in the last year, though not as much as could be done, and without quite the sense of urgency as I think it deserves.

Posted by: Nell at April 2, 2007 04:10 PM

Helena's reaction to Silber really reminds me of the faithful liberal ability to put the cart before the horse. It is not at all clear that the question of attacking Iran is viewed as insanity by the people, led by people like Pelosi who early on declared impeachment to be off the table and who has huge and public ties to AIPAC.

It's late in the day to be asking for concrete actions or solutions before the harm is even recognized.

Nell is on the money - it's a sense of urgency that is needed, and not from liberal bloggers.

It is needed from elected Democrats, who could look to Sen. Hagel's reminder that impeachment is not dead.

Maybe a re-reading of King's "Lettter from Birmingham Jail" would help were it not that it was addressed to cowardly men of the cloth: I don't think it's particularly in point to politicians.

What to do? I think Scruggs is on the money as well, and given paternalistic and maternalistic liberlasims' history, I am not encouraged by Jon's quest for more light, much as I recognize the need. What was the quip about the wilfully blind?

Posted by: Jesus B. Ochoa at April 2, 2007 06:30 PM

I think one to thing keep in mind here is that we don’t know what goes on in everyone else’s personal life as surely what we see in blogs that people write is only one facet and usually the only one we see but there is much more to people than what we read in their blogs.

I will stick to my guns here and say that I find what Arthur writes is very informative and makes me question a lot of assumptions that I have carried down through the years. One does not have to agree with everything Arthur says in order to appreciate what he is saying in general.

For example Hillary Clinton is clearly the front runner for the democrats polling at 35 percent and the news is full of how Hillary is breaking records in fund raising which says a lot about our system itself. Meanwhile Kucinich who seems a lot more like a progressive than Clinton comes in at about zero. I personally find that infuriating and is one of the reasons I appreciate Arthur Silber because I think he gets us to look at the hypocrisy of our system, our assumptions, and many of the so-called liberal blogs that polish the turds, er I mean democrats.

I agree that we cannot expect perfection but we are a long, long, long way from that with the present batch of candidates. So I take my hat off to Arthur because I wish there were more people like him.

Posted by: rob payne at April 2, 2007 06:54 PM

you know i can clearly picture sitting at a meeting with arthur and helena squaring off across the room. maybe i've been to that meeting. of course if it were a meeting, the context and the targets of arthur's frustration would be clear.

but that's what it feels like, and that's crazy, that after four years of your archetypical crappy war, you'd still be running meetings in living rooms and church basements like any ordinarily isolated peace group.

hundreds of people dying a day over there, risked numbers are higher, and you know, let's sign a petition, let's write to our representatives to tell that we think people dying for a lost and stupid cause is a bad idea. so that they know how we feel about the matter.

there is a giant peace machine in motion, all across country, threatening maybe the only thing that washington politicos care about -- their incumbency -- but perversely, that's secure for the next year or so, and they have lots of time to come up with a "containment" plan that leaves all that oil still within our reach.

oil we can't burn, but we want.

i made plans last week for how i would stitch up my business here in town and head for washington, in the event of a war. even wondered how the country would react if told, "rise and shine, sleepyhead! you've just nuked iran! you're, like, safer. PTL." i thought maybe i'd just sit there, with the thousands of others who would probably go, just shut the damn place down, until the military action was called off.

it's humiliating to have voted in the past for democrats. there is nothing more clear at this point than that, even should one believe in the necessity, or the practicality, or righteousness of attacking iran, nothing's more clear than that this executive branch cannot be trusted to show the realist restraint everyone wishes to see.

if somebody is seriously concerned about balancing power in the mideast, and they're worried about it enough that they want to kill people, i feel like, if they don't know now to put it aside, make a mark on their calendar, toward the end of january, 2009, that says, "iran action?" -- they're a hack. they don't know WTF they're doing.

even if iran might end up with all the oil, even if that might recreate the conditions under which the persian gulf states yanked the world's chain in the 70s -- starting a war with half the muslims in the world, when we're gonna busting our backs just getting people on board with carbon reductions as it is, what madness. washington people are in way over their heads.

Posted by: hibiscus at April 3, 2007 03:49 AM

Hello, Mr. Schwarz, and Readers,

I’d like to weigh in on the comments regarding Arthur Silber’s post. I’m a (heretofore) lurker at Arthur’s blog and at A Tiny Revolution, with no special expertise; yet, I still have the quaint notion that I have something to add. What that may be is for others to decide. Those who wish to bail immediately may make note of the fact that I’m going to sound a lot like Brian and robpayne in the comments above.

My opinion (echoing robpayne, here) is that Arthur Silber makes us face unpleasant realities in many of his posts. I find this to be a great public service, and, I too, wish there were more like Mr. Silber, who are fearless enough to knock us off our hobbyhorses.

Yes, the referenced post was somewhat harsh. Was it valid? Was it true? The post challenged me to think more deeply and to answer that question for myself. Whatever more can be asked of a first-rate blogger?

It does help, in my opinion, to have read his blog and to have become accustomed to his manner of thinking. Particularly of late.

Regarding the Obama post, *I* inferred perhaps more from that than Mr. Silber intended. I got the sense that he had previously refrained from comment on Obama because he had been holding out cautious hope for the man as a candidate worthy of further regard.

I appreciate links to Once Upon a Time, but then, I check it every day, anyway. I don’t always agree with what’s said there. I always find it thought-provoking and completely worthwhile, especially when its unsettling to me, personally. I grow at those times, for which I’m eternally grateful.

And, thank you, Mr. Schwarz, for your most valuable blog. (I do not always agree with your thoughts, either, etc.) I don’t expect I’ll be saying much in future. I relish reading and lurking, however.


Posted by: dyl8 $shrt at April 4, 2007 09:05 PM

Deborah, thanks for the comment. It's much appreciated, and I hope you can send Arthur your thoughts via email.

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