Sunday, March 14, 2010

Feature or Bug?

Over at the Atlantic Andrew Sullivan has been writing something-or-other about Israel which I do not care to read because FUCK HIM. But Jeffrey Goldberg cares, and says this:
So I'm unilaterally disengaging from this struggle. I pray, of course, that Andrew comes to see that his oversimplification of Middle East history and politics has caused real damage to real people, but it's time for someone else to argue with him.
I cannot imagine that someone who would oversimplify Middle East history and politics would get hired at The Atlantic.

31 comments:

mikey said...

Actually, Sully has developed a massive sane streak. I guess at some point he actually noticed the starving, stateless, impoverished, oppressed people who lived there without the magic beans of Israeli citizenship.

He broke from the the whole Goldberg/Peretz/Beinart/AIPAC cover your ears and shout real loud ANTISEMITE over an over again crowd. He's on the right side now, and that matters. Minds have to be changed, and it's Sully and Yglesias and Ackerman and Walt that are making a difference. Please don't shit on him for coming around to the side of the angels, he has a lot of influence and can really help.

Check out what Laura Rozen's been writing if you want some hope. Apparently David Petraeus (or, if you prefer, Jesus with an M4) demanded that Gaza and the West Bank get handed over to CENTCOM (from EUCOM). Sure, he got his shit handed to him in an old safeway bag, but the point is still important. Because there IS one lobby more important than AIPAC in the US Congress. And that's the US Military. And when they say knock this shit off and find a way for the PA to have a state, well, hell, maybe not but I wouldn't bet against 'em...

Substance McGravitas said...

I'm gonna stick with the "Sullivan's a shit" line here. It's nice when assholes do nice things - fun to imagine the blanching of Goldberg's face when he saw an attribution to Juan Cole - but both can die beneath a rain of remote-controlled bombs. In deference to your point, Sullivan can do that once he has changed American policy.

mikey said...

I dunno. If you subscribe to the popular around the SadlyNo periphery theory that Judy Miller and Joe Klein singlehandedly launched the invasion of Iraq, then it seems disingenuous at best to discount the possibility that Sullivan and Ezra and Walt can change the American position vis a vis Palestine. There's possibly an opportunity arising here, where Bibi goes a couple bridges too far (again) and gets pushback from the US Military AND State, which emboldens the Obama administration to at least push to get NGOs and humanitarian aid into Gaza.

I KNOW you, Subber. People are dying in Gaza, and they're dying for some kind of rights in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Crapping on people who are HELPING doesn't make any sense. Who wins? Not the Palestinians, not the Israelis, who face global condemnation of their apartheid government, not the Americans who look weak and helpless and will respond by attacking someone to prove they still have juice.

Defectors are OK. You just have to let go what they did in the past and consider the real goal...

Substance McGravitas said...

It makes perfect sense to crap on Sullivan: doesn't need to be him who makes these points, it can be someone else. I do hope he helps.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Let me guess, Goldberg is conflating criticism of Likud policies with anti-Israeli sentiment...

Not getting off the boat...

Substance McGravitas said...

Pretty easy to get Goldberg's number too.

mikey said...

I guess it depends on what your personal goal is. I look east, and I see millions of stateless Palestinians, without rights or recourse, forced to endure hatred, humiliation and oppression, within sight of those Israeli Citizens who don't have to wait at checkpoints, be subjected to searches and random arrests, who have money and doctors and hope for the future. I see the Egyptians pressured and bullied into closing their border, the UN marginalized and the US cowed by a tiny nation in desperate need of support and external resources. I see a region increasingly distrustful of an America that cannot implement it's least agenda due to Israeli intransigence, and at risk due to percieved Israeli favoratism. This is not a sustainable relationship, and the fact that people who previously supported the Israel Lobby and the Israeli Security State are coming to recognize that should indeed be seen as a feature, not a bug. History will turn against the Likudniks just as it turned against the South African White Government, and that process is facilitated by people recognizing that Israeli actions in the region are unacceptable and that stateless Palestinians threaten not only the stability of the region, but the survival of Israel as a Jewish Democracy. I would think it would be a classic "no brainer" to support those conversions as they happen...

Substance McGravitas said...

I'm all for the conversions, all against Andrew Sullivan. Not just as penance for past activities - which should be mighty penance indeed - but because his arguments in favour of what I like are gonna be just as idiotic as the arguments in favour of what I hate were. All this stuff about him being a great writer is bullshit.

tigris said...

Are you guys referring to Jeffrey Goldberg or Jonah Goldberg?

mikey said...

Writers write. It's what you do, and what I do. The greatness is a judgement allowed to every reader.

People I know frequently ask me "what is the point of arguing politics on the internet? It's not like anybody ever changed their mind."

HERE IS A CHANGED MIND! How is it possible not to embrace this as progress? What is the motivation for rejecting it as not enough, too late, whatever? Is there any greater confirmation of the value of your dearly held beliefs than when a former opponent comes to embrace them? Why would you not then embrace THEM? It just seems to me as if you're only in it for the process, like the Senate, you don't consider the outcomes important. And that way truly lies madness...

Substance McGravitas said...

Are you guys referring to Jeffrey Goldberg or Jonah Goldberg?

Jeffrey, but I'm happy to call Jonah stupid if you like.

Jeffrey wrote a pretty important Iraq article.

Substance McGravitas said...

HERE IS A CHANGED MIND! How is it possible not to embrace this as progress?

Because Sullivan is Sullivan. I put him in the same camp as Hitchens: people who are so in love with their own words that reality does not intrude. I honestly do not believe that any position Sullivan takes is more than an ill-considered affectation except when it concerns him personally. Added handicap: he is an English journalist.

Let's imagine David Horowitz does the flip-flop again and comes back to whatever it is we think we are: do we want that guy to speak for us? I don't: there are enough guys already.

It just seems to me as if you're only in it for the process, like the Senate, you don't consider the outcomes important.

No no, I like outcomes. It's just that an important part of any intellectual AND practical movement is to discard shitheads who've been shitheaded. Nobody needs to go back to the Sullivan well because they're sure it's been unpoisoned.

mikey said...

I think getting Horowitz to renounce torture would be HUGE. And what's the point of working towards an outcome when you won't accept people you actually convince? It just seems perverse and like playing a fun game, except people really are sick and hungry and dying...

Substance McGravitas said...

It's not like that at all. What you do when there's a conversion is you give a pat on the back to the guys who were right. And you need not listen to the guys who were wrong: the proof is that they were wrong.

(Also I think Horowitz is a bad example on my part: I think he's a replaceable small fry.)

mikey said...

It is exactly that point. We're arguing something that exists in the real world, aren't we? I mean, this isn't just some role playing game, this is life and death for a few million people.

I always thought this was where HTML Mencken went off the rails. "If you weren't with us in the beginning, you can't be with us now". But I always thought the whole point of making our case was to try to convince people that we were RIGHT. When we succeed in doing that, we should be ecstatic, not pissed.

I don't know what you want. I DO know what I want. So I believe you are fundamentally and functionally wrong, and you need to think about what you're actually trying to accomplish...

Substance McGravitas said...

It's easy: don't listen to the dumb guys, do listen to the smart guys.

There is nothing Andrew Sullivan says that I can't get from others. He's not indispensable. It's nice that he's a convert, now listen to the people who converted him, assuming it wasn't a long night with liquor and a mirror.

mikey said...

But it's not brilliance, or we'd never find ourselves in this debacle.

It's people with an audience saying the things we WANT them to say.

And while I love you, dood, you ain't got the audience...

Substance McGravitas said...

Right, which is why I feel fine saying "FUCK ANDREW SULLIVAN" with impunity.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I think Andrew Sullivan was mainly converted by his ability to see, long before most other douchevacuums, that the rightwingitude wasgoing over the cliff.

Doesn't make him right, and his inability to recognize that his erstwhile fellow travelers wanted to see him die in a fire makes him a questionable convert, at best.

I don't mind him joining the ranks, especially when we need every hand pushing the bus back up over the precipice; but I will not be surprised, once the edge is gained and the Republicans have repaired their brand, to see him once again sucking up to the people who want to kill us all so they can be infinitesimally richer.

In the future, though, I suspect I may be more cynical.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

to make it clear; I suspect America will be better off if I eat Sully's branes. I may feel sickish for a brief time, but that is a price I am willing to pay because hey! Patriotic Zombie here!


wv: emeat.

mikey said...

So let me understand this.

An assumption of some future betrayal is all you need to reject the positive contribution of a writer with millions of readers.

Who might, based upon your belief system (remember the crimes of joe klein and judy miller) be able to influence future outcomes in such a manner that tens of thousands of people might live better lives.

His acts were so unforgiveable that anything he might do to atone for those sins is of a part with the original crime.

Have any of you people ever had to make a real decision in the real world?? 'Cause you sound like junior high schoolers...

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

nope. mikey, you're missing what I said, at least.

I don't assume Sulllivan will be a douchebag in the future. But given his track record, I am unwilling to think he will not be one in the future either.

As I thought I said, I don't think his aid is to be disregarded; however, I also don't think I would turn my back on him either.

It's not a junior high school clique attitude, but rather the result of being burned by erstwhile allies, time and time again.

mikey said...

But zombie, that's crap.

He wasn't an "erstwile ally".

He was the enemy. And we convinced him he was wrong. What the HELL else do you fucking want?

mikey said...

Like John Cole, and Spencer Ackerman, and Colin Powell.

What does it take for you to take YES for an answer?

mikey said...

And suppose, just for a minute, that his contribution helped bring peace to Gaza. You would have been working to prevent that.

You just can't have it both ways. If you think Judy Miller and Joe Klein are culpable, then you MUST grant the possibility that Sully can make a difference too.

So, what do you want? Changed policy, or an ego boost?

Substance McGravitas said...

What the HELL else do you fucking want?

Speaking for myself, I want him to leave public life forever. I'm sure he would make an excellent tour guide or waiter somewhere. There's still no reason to keep a place at the table for him when a non-douchebag could be there.

Have any of you people ever had to make a real decision in the real world?? 'Cause you sound like junior high schoolers...

It's not junior-high schooly to distrust the writing of someone who was A-OK with war crimes and calling everyone else a traitor. It's common sense.

As long as he's paid attention to it's nice that he says the right things - I'll take your word for it - but he should not be in journalism.

M. Bouffant said...

Well, Sully's not in "journalism," whatever passes for that these days, he's just a blogger.

And I'm not too sure anyone "convinced" him to change his mind. People pretty much change their own little minds, sometimes based on facts & argument from others, but mostly on whatever they think is good for them at any given point. Especially people who make a living from from sharing their minds w/ the rest of us.

Also, I'm just sick of Sullivan's over-blown writing & over the top whining.

You'd think he thinks he invented moral outrage, & will be driving it around the block until somebody notices & compliments him.

Which leads me to the conclusion that Sully's just a scold, & while it's fun when he's scolding your "enemies," it's not so much fun when the scold gun is turned on you. And you know that'll happen sooner or later.

M. Bouffant said...

Jeffrey Goldberg cares:

his oversimplification of Middle East history and politics has caused real damage to real people

By which I assume Goldberg means some poor Villager's had his knickers in a twist, or a grant was not granted, or something. Seen beside the damage to careers & reputations, the damage done to Palestine & Palestinians is, what, imaginary? Not-real?

Substance McGravitas said...

It's just not as important as Jeffrey Goldberg feeling insulted on behalf of a country he doesn't want to live in.

mikey said...

I dunno. It just seems unnecessary and counterproductive to me, but if it works for you then avoid and ostracize every writer you disagree with. It sounds somewhat...limiting to me, but I've found I learn every bit as much from people I believe are wrong as I do from people who started out wholeheartedly agreeing with me.

Speaking as someone who's been egregiously, atrociously wrong many times in the past and has slowly and painfully learned those things which I now embrace as "wisdom", I'd like to thank the people in my life who were more forgiving than this...

Substance McGravitas said...

avoid and ostracize every writer you disagree with.

No no: you avoid and ostracize people who don't get their shit straight and who are liars. There's a difference. Andrew Sullivan's always willing to ignore a fact when it doesn't go his way: that shit wouldn't fly at my workplace and it shouldn't fly at his. His "elite" membership card needs to be revoked.