Comments: Glenn Greenwald, Unicorn

Are you saying that this is an obscure blog?!?!? This puts my choices about how I spend my evenings in a new perspective.....

Posted by Aaron Datesman at April 8, 2011 01:39 PM

I'm fairly the Speaker of The House knows about this place by now.

Posted by Mike Meyer at April 8, 2011 02:53 PM

Greenwald is very sharp and principled, and I have considerable respect for him, but nobody needs to worry that he'll end up condemned to rant obscurely in some little ocean somewhere. He plays a useful role pursuant to the "my enemy's enemy is my friend" subpart of the "divide and conquer" strategy, and there's a big libertarian core to his views that is well respected by the Atlas Shrugged crowd even if they ignore every part of that philosophy that doesn't involve money. He's no radical.

I don't think many thinking people doubt that the method of managing politics in our crappy system is keeping the public at odds with itself while money controls the choices and the outcomes. Part of that involves pitting any leader tempted to do anything Wall Street or the Pentagon opposes against his base. What Wall Street and the Pentagon oppose doesn't have to be all that progressive--you just hint at costing them a few nickels or impeding their warmongering a little and they go apeshit.

It's ironic that the mighty MICFiC would often like to foster criticism of centrists by the left, since they hate the left, but since the left hasn't actually scared anyone in a couple of generations, they don't have to worry much about that, and even back in the day it wasn't that big a worry. So Greenwald won't get bounced out of Salon, because though what he is saying could be dangerous, and would be if our politics was in a better state, it isn't really isn't dangerous now. Because we don't actually need to do anything more to guarantee our own irrelevance--that seems to already have happened.

Can this sorry state of affairs be undone if everybody turns against the Dems? I'm not optimistic, but supporting your true principles is a pretty good way to fail, at least if you can avoid destroying your dependents in the process.

Posted by N E at April 8, 2011 04:28 PM

Mike Meyer, it often happens that you make my day. Thank you.

NE - I read in an earlier comment thread that you are a Turing machine. Is this true?

Posted by Aaron Datesman at April 8, 2011 04:55 PM

"I regularly see him being slagged in the comments sections of liberal blogs and media outlets for the exact same kinds of observations that won him ringing praise when he was applying them to Bush."

GG has replaced Nader as a demon figure for liberals. He's absolutely loathed by some Obamaphiles in the comments section at "Balloon Juice" (though not by John Cole, who alternately bashes Obama or defends him, depending on the issue.)

Posted by Donald Johnson at April 8, 2011 05:11 PM

Aaron and Mike Meyer...

I still remember the following comment at ATR. Is it possible that two individuals have the same last name and first and middle initials??

Who are you and what have you done with my former supporter Jonathan Schwarz

Posted by: B.H. Obama at December 31, 2008 11:11 AM

Posted by Rupa Shah at April 8, 2011 05:12 PM

"GG has replaced Nader as a demon figure for liberals"

For some liberals I should say. Not all are crazy.

Posted by Donald Johnson at April 8, 2011 05:12 PM

Aaron: I already commended Cloud for that zinger. As I said, maybe I am a Turing machine, but I think Caruso's favorite quotes more strongly suggest the influence of Tequilla.

All that being said, what I want to know is . . .WHERE IS MY OZONE!

Posted by N E at April 8, 2011 06:15 PM

A Turing machine and a machine attempting to pass the Turing test are two quite different concepts, I'd like to point out.

Posted by Save the Oocytes at April 8, 2011 06:24 PM

StO

That sounds very smart even though I have to confess that I don't actually know what it means. Still, maybe a break from "enough about me, what do you think about me" is in order, and i'll just do my best to lurk out here in dark, cold cyberspace. Digits crossed.

Posted by N E at April 8, 2011 07:43 PM

Wikipedia has the answer. A Turing machine is a theoretical computer (predating actual computers). It's a read-write head running, one unit at a time, over an infinite tape. It can read the symbol and has a rule table telling it to write over the square, move left, or move right as a result. A machine of this type can compute anything (more, actually, due to the infinite length of the tape) that an actual computer can. Mathematically, it's one of several common, equivalent definitions for what it means for a function to be effectively computable in general.

The Turing test (helpfully disambiguated at the top of the previous article) is what you're actually talking about. "The Turing test is a test of a machine's ability to demonstrate intelligence. A human judge engages in a natural language conversation with one human and one machine, each of which tries to appear human. All participants are separated from one another. If the judge cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test."

Posted by Save the Oocytes at April 8, 2011 08:13 PM

Even simpler:

Turing machine = computer

Turing test = computer advanced enough to fool humans into thinking it is a fellow human

Posted by Soj at April 8, 2011 11:17 PM

Ach so, ich komme zuruck um zu fragen: Gibt es auch eine Turing Prufung fur die Hunde? Woof! Woof!

Posted by N E at April 9, 2011 12:45 AM

The Turing test is the experiment. The subject of the experiment is a particular Turing machine.

Posted by Cloud at April 9, 2011 12:34 PM

Well, the subject of the experiment is a computer program. As StO says, a Turing machine is a theoretical construct that can perform any computation, such as running a program capable of passing a Turing test.

Posted by saurabh at April 9, 2011 05:28 PM

Wait, I'm getting really confused, since this began as me apparently being a sophisticated Turing machine, a charge I cannot deny. But the question I now have is, am I a machine trying to pass a test, a type of computer that can pretend to be a person, a computer program, an experiment, the subject of an experiment, a test of a machine's ability to pass a test (I really like that one--a test in a test!), or a German shephard?

All I remain sure of is that I am not actually sophisticated and sometimes comment under the influence of Tequilla (the better comments).

I also believe that it is appropriate to say at this point in the thread that Glenn Greenwald is innocent. "Free Glenn Greenwald" t-shirts are available at the kiosk.

Posted by N E at April 9, 2011 05:56 PM

Take a look at Cogitamus - a couple of days ago they took a swipe at GG for his civil liberties "purism." Tribal "go team!" bullshit.

Posted by redscott at April 9, 2011 10:28 PM

It just so happens that someone emailed me the NE source code a while back. Here's the main loop:

while (true) {

        check_atr_comments();

        if (democrats_criticized()) {
                defend_democrats();
        }

        if (!center_of_attention()) {
                post_comment();
        }

        love_obama();

        sleep(1);
}

This might be an early version, though, since post_comment() is clearly unconditional in the current release.

Posted by John Caruso at April 9, 2011 11:33 PM

redscott, who or what is Cogitamus?

Posted by biscuit eater at April 10, 2011 01:39 PM

JC

You're way more interested in me than my wife, and she actually knows me! (By the way, she would describe that source code far differently, though I wouldn't say better.) I will just note that you're showing a double standard in turning the topic back to me all the time and then not liking that I join in the fun . . . .

Posted by N E at April 10, 2011 05:52 PM

biscuit eater, it looks like that was a reference to this blog posting.

The charge of "purity" almost always says more about the person making it than it does about the target. It basically means: "you're not as willing to sell out your principles as I am". It allows the "purity" accuser to define their position as the only reasonable one, by implying that anyone who applies a more stringent (or just different) standard is simply incapable of compromise. That's rarely the case, of course--nearly everyone has some line they won't cross and nearly everyone has compromises they're willing to accept, so it's really just a matter of different people having different standards. But committed Democratic apologists would much rather dismiss their critics on the left than engage them honestly, and "purity" is the tactic of choice in that case.

Posted by John Caruso at April 10, 2011 08:29 PM

That's a fine analysis.

Posted by N E at April 10, 2011 11:35 PM

Sad. Sad. Political discourse has degenerated to the point where there is actually heated debate over the pros and cons of an empty-suit president. The only thing that will save this all but completely invisible man from defeat in 2012 will be the schism between the nutty and the really nutty Republicans.

Posted by Paul Avery at April 11, 2011 01:44 PM

Greenwald is wrong.

I wrote a comment about it, explaining why, here:
http://www.pffugeecamp.com/showComment.do?commentId=19138

(Greenwald censors comments on his blog or I could have posted it there).

Basically this sort of belief is an excuse for actual Democratic party behaviour. It tries to say that the reason Democrats attack their base is because they are unprincipled and just want to win elections. But they don't win elections! If you actually wanted to win elections you'd satisfy your base.

If Greenwald was correct then the Republicans would shit on their base too. Even Greenwald admits that things worked out the exact opposite way in 2010 where he concedes that the Democrats lost because of lack of enthusiasm by their base.

The reason Democrats attack their base is quite simple. Democrats are ideologically opposed to their own base. Democrats do have political goals and do fight for them -- but their goals are the opposite of the goals of their base. It is that simple truth which the comment by Greenwald hopes to cover up.

Posted by DavidByron at April 11, 2011 05:54 PM

'GG has replaced Nader as a demon figure for liberals. He's absolutely loathed by some Obamaphiles in the comments section at "Balloon Juice" (though not by John Cole, who alternately bashes Obama or defends him, depending on the issue.)'

Back when I was visiting Balloon Juice regularly, Cole never bashed Obama very hard and when he did it was only within certain limits, which is why the site was and I assume continues to be a safe home for lefty-bashing Obama obsessives. (He used to be the same way about Bush, back when.)

Posted by Craig G. at April 11, 2011 07:13 PM

DavidByron wrote: "Democrats do have political goals and do fight for them -- but their goals are the opposite of the goals of their base."

I think that's entirely right if what is meant is the Party as a whole, and it's because the Democratic base is democratic, whereas the Democratic Party is not, and cannot be democratic because the whole system is controlled by Money/Property/Wall Street (pick one if there's any difference). Wall Street has sought to control the Democratic Party since before Woodrow Wilson, mostly with short-term success, always with long-term success, if necessary over the President's dead body. Not much need for that sort of thing these days though.

Posted by N E at April 11, 2011 08:15 PM

"The [Democratic} Party sold out the working class for corporate money." Chris Hedges, Death of the Liberal Class

I can't get more succinct than that.

Posted by Paul Avery at April 12, 2011 06:17 PM

"The [Democratic} Party sold out the working class for corporate money." Chris Hedges, Death of the Liberal Class

I can't get more succinct than that.

Posted by Paul Avery at April 12, 2011 06:18 PM

" Democrats do have political goals and do fight for them -- but their goals are the opposite of the goals of their base. It is that simple truth which the comment by Greenwald hopes to cover up."

Really? Far from "covering up", I think that's exactly what Greenwald is saying, and has been saying, quite loudly for some time. Which Greenwald are you reading?

Posted by vanya at April 13, 2011 02:36 PM