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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 11:51 am:   

General Franks recent statement to Cigar magazine is almost identical to the one I cited in the previous thread, where a member of the Federal Civil Rights Commission said to the press that "interment camps are inevitable" if there is another terrorist attack.

Both statements are couched in terms of "the public would demand these things because of fear and hysteria.”

At the same time, the Bush administration has been ruthlessly exploiting and encouraging this same fear and hysteria via its meaningless "heightened alerts" and color-coded distraction system.

Is there a pattern developing here? The administration is at once stocking the fear and hysteria, and it has people in the media saying that the "Logical response" to that fear and hysteria is a suspension of the constitution.

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they’re not out to take over my country. (With apologize to Samual Clemmens.)

-JL
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 11:59 am:   

Here is a nice article from the LA Times that manages to tie a lot of things together, including "Drug War" legislation that has enabled the military to take on domestic policing roles.

The general in charge quoted in this article looks to be licking his lips to get into the "home game" as he puts it.


http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid=13878&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0
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paulw
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 12:41 pm:   

A milestone was passed in this country when, with little notice or debate, a north american command was created for, I believe, the first time in history. That was a couple of years ago.
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Laura MK
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 01:47 pm:   

And I wrote (probably) the SF first story referencing it - but have yet to see it published . .

Alas, I keep trying!
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Laura MK
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 01:51 pm:   

BTW: Jeremy, I'm sorry, but posting links from "smirking chimp dot com" doesn't help the credibility of your arguments, no matter how good the quality of the source or the reporting.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 02:55 pm:   

LauraMK engages in circumstantial ad hominem, thus eliminating her own credibility.



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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 03:21 pm:   

Smirking chimp is a meta database of articles reprinted from around the world. If you bothered to go to the link you would see it is a story reprinted from the LA TIMES, as I stated. "The quality of the reporting" is that of the LA TIMES, and has nothing to do with smirkingchimp.com.

I posted the Smirking chimp link because the LA TIMES requires registration to read the story. Here is the direct link to the LA Times, which was the first line in the smirking chimp page that I initially referenced.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-op-arkin23nov23,1,4697051.stor y

If people don't want to see the information right in front of them, they will come up with any reason to ignore it, I suppose. The "credibility" of my arguments aren't really going to matter to some people, I suppose.

-jl
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Laura MK
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 04:49 pm:   

Nick:

Ironic you didn't have anything to say about 'circumstancial ad hominem' when Lucius was calling Thomas "stupid" in the previous thread.

Now that Jeremy has explained what Smirking Chimp is, I realize I was remiss in my comment about the source.

"Oh my God - some one who can admit she was wrong - Run!"

Man, I'm wrong lots of times - which is why I like debate.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 05:50 pm:   

Ironic you didn't have anything to say about 'circumstancial ad hominem' when Lucius was calling Thomas "stupid" in the previous thread.

It's not ironic at all.

One, calling someone stupid isn't a circumstantial ad hominem.

Two, calling someone stupid isn't necessarily an ad hominem at all. If Lucius was calling Thomas stupid as a way of attacking his position, then it would be. If Lucius was simply making a determination that Thomas was stupid, then it isn't one , because the state of Thomas's character is the issue. And as a matter of fact, as best as I can determine, Lucius is absolutely correct: Thomas is stupid. That's not a matter of logic at all, just of observation.

Three, it isn't "ironic" to fail to call out every example of an ad hominem attack, even if I were reading all the threads. I came upon this thread because it was new and interesting. The previous thread I skimmed and didn't bother with beyond that because not one person in it knew the definition of the word fascism.

Btw, acknowledging the the source is the LA Times doesn't actually respond to the circumstantial ad hominem declaring smirkingchimp.com non-credible, it dodges it. The point of a cah is that the claim that a source cannot be right because it has a presumed vested interest is a fallacy.

So, to sum up:

1. you lack credibility because you engage in fallacious attacks

2. you don't know what the word "ironic" means

3. you disguise little snits as apologies and presume to tell others how to behave for accurately calling you on the nonsense you spew

You may say you like debate, but you've not shown yourself to be capable of anything other than being the object of brusque corrections.
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 06:35 pm:   

What is the working definition of Fascism then? I had some difficulty with that I admit, but I've never found anything clear on it.

As for the "I'm stupid" stuff I think that upset Laura more than me. None of you ever met me so your opinions on that are worthless. Besides which many of you are intellectuals or writers so perhaps my ability to express myself does look stupid to you. Politics and persuasion are also weak areas for me. I probably should've ignored the whole thread after my first post there. You live you learn.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 07:28 pm:   

Fascism is a peculiar response to deep crises in economics and the political efficacy of parliamentary democracy. The response takes the form of a mass movement of the middle classes who engage in extralegal terror tactics, use socialist rhetoric, gain sufficient power to ally with sections of the ruling elite, and then take over the state, often creating tight bureaucratic links between state and capital.

There are slews of dictatorships that are plenty nasty without being fascist. Fascist doesn't necessarily mean "the worst thing going" either; one can argue that Stalinism was worse as it was much more stable a system.

As far as your intelligence or lack thereof, you don't think you're able to suss out someone's smarts based on how they write, how they argue, how they use and interpret facts? You have to meet them in the flesh? Why? Do stupid people look different?
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 08:04 pm:   

Thanks. That's sort of what I meant and giving the reasons why I felt those kinds of deep seated political and economic problems were absent in the US. However I should've mentioned the mass movement issue. Unfortunately I realized I misread something which led to that discussion in the first place.

As for the second thing no. How someone writes or argues is not always the best indicator of intelligence. It's an indicator of whether someone will be a good polemicist, but otherwise many brilliant people lack those skills. Some are simply non-confrontational. Others use their intelligence in other ways. Science, math, research, study, etc. There's also things like creativity and speaking.

As for meeting them in the flesh the answer is obvious. If you wish to judge anything about a person a discussion over the Internet lasting a few days is insufficient. I think that should be beyond obvious. If you mean you've read my posts over the last two years and judged that I'm stupid than that has more credibility. Still there's the whole issue of behavior, conversation skill, etc. that can be gleaned by meeting someone. It has nothing to do with appearance.

As for using and interpreting facts I don't quite see what was stupid there. Perhaps I added in irrelevancy, but that's more scattershot than stupid. Also perhaps I should've linked to the studies I mentioned. I just assumed people could do that on their own. Granted "interpretation" is a slippery thing. In many cases if one does not like the interpretation they can just write it off as stupid or what have you.

The stupid thing I acknowledge was saying I support Bush without proper explanation. I just assumed considering the audience any support of Bush would be deemed stupid by default so was doomed. The other might have been trying to be honest and conceding some points. I think that was interpreted as weakness, but I can't say I regret it. The stupidest thing though was getting in the conversation at all. You avoided it and that was wise of you.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 08:34 pm:   

Still there's the whole issue of behavior, conversation skill, etc. that can be gleaned by meeting someone.

And why can this not be gleaned from online interactions? In the same way online rhetorical skill may generate "noise" that obscures intelligence (or stupidity) wouldn't personal charisma do the same in person?
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 09:17 pm:   

It can be judged within limits, but it's very limited. You know little to nothing of the person online. You learn less of how they process new information and apply that knowledge than I think you believe. In real life you can judge how they respond to their surroundings and their understanding of the material. As per the one example mathematicians are often not the clearest writers, but does that make them stupid? If you saw them in real life on the topic they know the answer becomes more clear. Physicists and mathematicians often come off as downright idiotic posters. The ability to write posts well says something about intelligence, but no it's not that accurate a judge. I very much prefer real life interaction for judging people than online communication. I find it a little surprising that you find this odd.



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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 09:41 pm:   

Physicists and mathematicians often come off the exact same way in person as you describe them coming off online. Their dress, mode of speech, lack of social graces, etc., often closely parallel the affect of the homeless or developmentally disabled. Paul Erdos, for example, was homeless, he'd just appear in the homes of other mathematicians and get to work. My cousin is a professor of physics and for years couldn't use an instamatic camera. He kept looking through the lens to align the shot.

And of course, while physics and mathematics is difficult for many people, facility with the topics doesn't necessarily equate to intelligence in the first place.

Anyway, discussion like this strike me as why you're getting a bad rep. You make an indefinsible claim and "no, but.." it to death, even while running into your own contradictions.

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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 09:59 pm:   

That does help. I make a claim deemed indefensible by groups with certain predispositions. Then I concede exceptions or examples. I'll have to make sure not to do that again.

In any event you're wrong. No buts involved. You're judging by extremis. I mean Paul Erdos? Sure physicists and mathematicians may come off socially awkward in real life, but the cases I mean only a brief conversation could help you realize they aren't stupid. This may not be true in an online conversation or in areas they are less adept. Further

And of course, while physics and mathematics is difficult for many people, facility with the topics doesn't necessarily equate to intelligence in the first place.

Than facility with writing also doesn't necessarily equate intelligence. Sure I know of idiot-savants who do well at math/science, but only rarely do they do anything significant. To say being a good physicist doesn't necessarily equate intelligence I find odd. It's in least intelligence in that area, and it's also the same kind of condescension some scientists have for art.

Anyway, discussion like this strike me as why you're getting a bad rep. You make an indefinsible claim and "no, but.." it to death, even while running into your own contradictions.

I exaggerated my problem I guess. It's only at political discussions I get a bad rep, and even then not always. Currently I have no bad rep anywhere except here. (Meaning the war discussion at this site)
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 10:30 pm:   

In any event you're wrong. No buts involved.

No I'm not.

You're judging by extremis.

No I'm not. I gave a famous example. I didn't say "All mathematicians are like Paul Erdos."

See, this is why I know you're stupid. You're unconsciously building a strawman argument. If it were consious, it would be malevolent, but not dopey. But you really don't get it.

but the cases I mean only a brief conversation could help you realize they aren't stupid. This may not be true in an online conversation or in areas they are less adept.

I enjoy how the "no buts" comes first, but then a sure statement is qualified to particular cases (just the ones you "mean" -- evidence that contradicts your thesis is cheerfully ignored) and to possibilities: it "may" be true.

You know, we're not all as stupid as you are. Some of us can read several of your posts and see the backpedaling.

Than facility with writing also doesn't necessarily equate intelligence.

Never said it did.

Sure I know of idiot-savants who do well at math/science, but only rarely do they do anything significant.


Same is true in the general population of academics. Most of them only incrementally improve the state of knowledge.

To say being a good physicist doesn't necessarily equate intelligence I find odd.

Only in the magic land where intelligence is the only input that leads to academic success.


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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 10:51 pm:   

I enjoy how the "no buts" comes first, but then a sure statement is qualified to particular cases (just the ones you "mean" -- evidence that contradicts your thesis is cheerfully ignored) and to possibilities: it "may" be true.

TR: No, wrong. That you would miss the obvious like this is intriguing. My whole point was a person can be smart offline and appear dumb online. Didn't you get that? So saying "the cases I mean only a brief real life conversation could help you realize they aren't stupid. This may not be true in an online conversation or in areas they are less adept" Was simply my basic point. That some things can not be gleaned online. You find this indefensible, I find it obvious.

Than facility with writing also doesn't necessarily equate intelligence.
Never said it did.


TR: Okay then.

Only in the magic land where intelligence is the only input that leads to academic success.

Thomas R: I didn't mean academically successful physicists. I mean ones who understand their subject, learn well, are knowledgeable, etc. If you don't consider that any kind of intelligence than I'm not sure what to say.

It is fine by me that you consider me stupid. I know this has no basis in objective reality. Still I think it's making discussion impossible so I yield. You can feel smug in your intellectual superiority.

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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 11:02 pm:   

My whole point was a person can be smart offline and appear dumb online.

No, Senor Droolcup, that is your point now.

Your original point, before you backpedaled a few hundred miles, was: None of you ever met me so your opinions on that are worthless.

Your claim was that the people here can get *zero* information about your intelligence from more than a day of discussing a subject that requires basic cognitive skills, like the ability to keep a consistent idea in your head for five hours. (you failed, btw)

Your original point and the point you are now claiming to have made are significantly different.

You also made a secondary claim: that you had the ability to divine a person's intelligence from even brief real world conversations with him or her. That claim can be refuted in two words: Asperger's Syndrome.

PS: Buy my book, it's full of short words.

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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 12:27 am:   

Sigh. Yield means I'm fine with you thinking you won. I'm fine with you thinking I'm stupid. What more do you need? If you think I'm stupid, and it's so obvious, why belabor it? Why waste time with someone you think can't learn anyway? If you're so smart don't you have better things to do? Still if you insist on belaboring the dunce is at your service.

Your claim was that the people here can get *zero* information about your intelligence from more than a day of discussing a subject that requires basic cognitive skills, like the ability to keep a consistent idea in your head for five hours. (you failed, btw)

TR: I don't think after a few days of discussion online I can make a judgement about someone's intelligence. I don't think you can either. The judgements here I therefore feel no need to find of value. In essence worthless. To further it.

Your original point and the point you are now claiming to have made are significantly different.

TR: No they aren't. I began by saying you're judgements of my intelligence are worthless. Then you asked

you don't think you're able to suss out someone's smarts based on how they write, how they argue, how they use and interpret facts? You have to meet them in the flesh? Why?

Then I tried to explain why I don't think you can do that. Among those reasons were obviously going to be some things about how a person can be smart offline, but appear dumb online in some cases. Also that people with certain kinds of intelligence won't do good in certain discussions. Then you state that's a new position and that I'm backpedalling. Baffling. Especially since it was about answering your question.

However I guess here you have to explain the reasoning point by point so people don't get confused. So to summarize again.

Step 1: I don't think judgements made by people I've known briefly online are valid.

Step 2 I explained why: Some people are smart in some areas, but not others. Also some people appear less or more intelligent online than they are in reality. Gave the example of scientists. Maybe I should've added dyslexics too, but I feared that'd confuse things.

This lead to
Physicists and mathematicians often come off the exact same way in person as you describe them coming off online.

I should've used this example and not Erdos, apologies. As this is not extreme, this is you saying that if such a person online impression often matches their real one. I dispute this.

One point leads to explanation and perhaps another point. It's the flow of conversation. Well most places anyway.

You also made a secondary claim: that you had the ability to divine a person's intelligence from even brief real world conversations with him or her. That claim can be refuted in two words: Asperger's Syndrome.

First I made no such claim. What I said was "only a brief conversation could help you realize they aren't stupid." Could help. That you equate this to "the ability to divine intelligence for even brief conversations" I guess involves you're need for definites.

Ending note people with Asperger's are not stupid if that's what you're implying. If you're implying you can't tell their intelligence through real life conversation than I think you are also wrong.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 07:16 am:   

Yield means I'm fine with you thinking you won.

Yielding also means that you wouldn't be arguing anymore, and yet, here you are, flailing and gnashing your teeth. Don't worry, I'm not surprised. Very few dolts have the force of personality to stay true to their own promises.

Among those reasons were obviously going to be some things about how a person can be smart offline, but appear dumb online in some cases. Also that people with certain kinds of intelligence won't do good in certain discussions. Then you state that's a new position and that I'm backpedalling. Baffling.

You're easily baffled because you're not very bright.

The claim that people can seem less intelligent online than off does not mean that in all instances where this is the case, or even in any, that the offline perception is the better measure. It certainly doesn't mean it in your case.

For all I know, you could actually be even a bigger dummy offline, for example. Do you wear a ballcap backwards? However, you claim that it is basically impossible for the people here to figure out how smart you are. Then you admit that it is possible: "It can be judged within limits, but it's very limited."

So, we've already gone from "worthless" to of limited use. That's a back pedal. From 0 to to greater than zero.

Your other claim was, "In real life you can judge how they respond to their surroundings and their understanding of the material."

Of course, one can do that here. Lucius did it with you. As did I. I'm doing it now, for example; you respond to the material with sullen bemusement. See, it's easy. But this claim changes too: "only a brief conversation could help you realize they aren't stupid." Apparently, there doesn't even need to be any material. If you woke up with sore ankles this morning, this is why.

As this is not extreme, this is you saying that if such a person online impression often matches their real one. I dispute this.

When it comes to matters of intelligence, I don't. Online discussions can hide a lot of things, but I don't think an online dicussion about political issues, which require cognitive skills, the ability to come up with cogent examples and understand the examples of others, is one of those things that ALWAYS going be obscured, making opinions "worthless".

I also think that there is plenty of "noise" in determining the intelligence of someone in real life. Ever hear someone say that another person "looks smart," for example?

What I said was "only a brief conversation could help you realize they aren't stupid." Could help. That you equate this to "the ability to divine intelligence for even brief conversations"

So, after a night of ranting and raving, you do acknowledge -- in spite of arguing against it -- that "in the same way online rhetorical skill may generate 'noise"'that obscures intelligence (or stupidity)...personal charisma [could/will] do the same in person," the leading question I asked a bunch of posts ago.

Ending note people with Asperger's are not stupid if that's what you're implying

No dipshit. Any intelligent person who read the thread would know that that was not what I was implying. I was pointing out, pace our discussion about physicists and mathematicians, that there are plenty of factors that can can lead to inaccurate observations of intelligence in the real world. Asperger's Syndrome is just one of them; brief conversations with Asperger's cases will often lead the observer to believe that the case is developmentally disabled or retarded. Indeed, until the condition became more widely known, trained observers would often label AS cases retarded.


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JV
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 08:40 am:   

Er, I can't say I've never flamed anyone, but...is there a reason to call people names on this thread? I mean, these discussions are virulent enough as it is. And that seems appropriate given the fact we're talking about issues that affect so many people.

JeffV
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 08:59 am:   

Yes. The reason is this: a combination of passive aggressive wheedling about "rational discussion" mixed with so many leaps of logic, fallacies, nonsense, and special pleading that the idea of rational discussion is impossible.

I'd refer to someone who spent a week screaming at the top of his lungs, "I JUST WANT SOME PEACE AND QUIET! CAN'T I HAVE A MOMENT OF PEACE OF QUIET!" over and over as Senor Droolcup as well.
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Arch-Enemy
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 09:07 am:   

See?
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 09:12 am:   

Jeff, there is a reason, though I can't say for sure it's Nick's own reason. Still, I'll wager I'm close to the mark. From what I've seen of Nick's style elsewhere, he isn't seeking only to win. He's already done that; big deal. He's seeking to humiliate, and to do so in a public forum which is a chosen haunt of his opponent. And to keep his opponent coming back for more humiliation, like a punching bag.

I'm sure someone out there would call it an alpha-male thing, or territorial pissing, but that's dismissive. It does serve a purpose, and that is to convince people that being defeated hurts. It's not about agreeing to disagree. It's about being ground down and shamed. So don't be defeated. Either have your shit together when you begin to write, and expect heated opposition, or simply remain silent.

The arguments against such tactics usually run along the lines of "Everyone has a right to his or her opinions" or "Polite discussion accomplishes more than heated argument," both of which have deep, deep flaws, and both of which are suited more for coffee-house chit-chat than for the world of real arguments over real issues involving real people.

Anyway, that's my take on it, and that's my reasoning when I engage in such tactics myself in other venues.

Or Nick could just be a vicious dog with a juicy bone. Who knows?
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 09:13 am:   

Damn, I hate cross-posting.
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JV
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 09:27 am:   

I don't buy that argument at all. It's fine to be forceful, but to start getting personal is off-topic and a bit much. If, just for example, Nick and I got in an argument in person, neither of us would get personal like that, so why do it on a messageboard? Be passionate about the ideas and in-your-face if need be, but the rest of it is just sophomoric. Besides, I don't doubt that this kind of approach is making it difficult for those who are not as forceful but whose ideas are clearly just as valid or logical to post here.

JeffV

P.S. Note how useless it is to add the vitriol:

Listen be-atch Neal, I don't buy that fucking argument at all, you asshole. It's fine to be forceful, pigshit, but to start getting personal is off-topic and a bit much, you wanking sheep-fucker. If, just for example, that piece of crap Nick and I got in an argument in person, neither of us would get stinking personal like that, so why do it on a messageboard, shit-breath? Be passionate about the ideas and in-your-face if need be, mothafuckas, but the rest of it is just sophomoric bullshit, idiot cretins. Besides, I don't doubt that this kind of half-baked dumb-ass approach is making it fucking difficult for those retards who are not as goddamn forceful but whose ideas are clearly just as valid or logical to post here. Swine.

JeffV
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 09:41 am:   

Actually, and maybe because I'm a New Yorker, but clauses like "What are you, a fucking idiot? Are you insane? No, asshole, this is what I meant..." are actually more common off-line than online in debates.

At any rate, I don't think Neal has it right at all. Generally I respond to people who set the tone. My first post here was a completely accurate one-line note that a poster was engaging in an ad hominem.

The poster didn't retract the ad hominem, but instead defended it by pointing out that someone else had been using them too.

That means that that poster accepts a world where ad hominems are acceptable in debate.

So what's the issue? It's their rules. It's their rules even if they don't acknowledge that they are. If the rules involved lots of citations and backing URLs, I'd use those. If the rules involved arbitrarily taking down posts, I wouldn't participate, unless I also had the ability to take down posts.

What's the problem? It's like they say uptown, "Don't start none, won't be none."
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 11:27 am:   

Jeff -- In writing my response to your question, I was concentrating more on the aggressive, unrelenting tone than on the name-calling. I generally read past the slurs once the rhetorical heat has reached a rolling boil. So in other words, I read your question, then answered something you didn't ask. Mea culpa.

Nick -- If that's really your justification, I don't follow your reasoning. I must have missed the post where Thomas set the tone for ad hominem. I know Laura MK has done it, but I've only seen Thomas get confrontational once, and that for the span of only one post directed at Lucius. Doesn't really matter, though. If Thomas gets sick of it, he'll drop out of the argument. If readers get sick of it, they'll stop following the thread. One needn't make friends with the whole world.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 09:33 pm:   

I think declaring the opinions of everyone else worthless based on an irrelevancy counts rather handily as an ad hominem. For example, "You're a grad student, so you just think you're smart, but you're really not!" would qualify, no?

There's also a more-or-less constant passive aggressive subtext to Thomas' posts on the previous thread, which was clearly what Lucius was reacting to over the weekend.

Passive aggression is of course just a way to spark aggression in others, so he gets what he wished for.
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Thomas R
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 11:33 pm:   

The only opinion I stated as worthless is the one that states I'm stupid. As for sparking aggression in others I'm not sure what to say. Maybe I did make things worse somehow so I left for a few days. I don't think you're qualified to make any kind of psychological judgments though.

I should add though Lucius is a grown man with lots of life experience. The idea I wanted to spark aggression in him and succeeded seems implausible. I didn't even refer to him until after he said things about me. Even if I did to think I could manipulate him, which is what on the other thread you said this behavior involves, implies too much faith in me or too little in him.

He was aggressive to me because he's passionate about the issues. My take on them and online demeanor irritated and disgusted him. And because that's his nature I imagine. It's not a nature I can work well with, but that's fine. I don't think he needs my company anyway. I maybe went overboard saying I wouldn't read his work now, but I wasn't doing so anyway. His work just never sounded like my cup of tea.
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Thomas R
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 11:38 pm:   

I should add one thing. This was meant to be a conversation about Franks, and constitutional violations. This issue about personalities has derailed that. I'm maybe the worst person to say this right now, but I hope you can return it to that.

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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Thursday, November 27, 2003 - 09:48 am:   

Nick: "So what's the issue? It's their rules. It's their rules even if they don't acknowledge that they are."

"Passive aggression is of course just a way to spark aggression in others, so he gets what he wished for."

Come on, man. "They started it"? "He asked for it"? You can do better than that.

It's not your vituperation I object to, clearly. But your reasons need some serious looking-into.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Thursday, November 27, 2003 - 10:58 am:   

Oh Neal, I thought you'd know simple Kantian ethics when you saw it.

"Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

So, if it is okay for Laura and Thomas R. to use ad hominem or ad misericordiam  arguments, then they may not then turn around and demand that everyone else be perfectly rational. They may only accept that everyone else is allowed to act in the way they act.

So, demolish Kant and we can talk about your disagreements with my interest in offering up object lessons as a rhetorical tactic. Until then, sauce for the goose...
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 07:25 am:   

Nick, there is no need for me to demolish Kant because what you're relying on is not the categorical imperative, but some backwards interpretation of it. The c.i. is an active principle, not a reactive justification for resorting to nasty rhetoric. The c.i. asks us ethically to establish a productive standard of argument, not to lash out against people using their own faulty logic. When your opponent resorts to illogic, you put that illogic down with force, sure, but you don't take it as your cue to drag red herrings like "stupidity" across the path. Go back to your Kant, Nick. Or any other "golden rule" you care to trot out. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is not the same as "Do unto others as they have done unto you." Action versus reaction. Responsibility versus its abdication. Good ethics versus bad. Few wars are won by allowing your opponent to control the field.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 09:02 am:   

It's reactive. I'm making the assumption that the people I discuss things with are ethical creatures.

If I assumed they were not, and just, for example, reflected their bald class interests, I'm sure the conversations I intervened in would actually be much less fruitful.

One thing that has come out of this is a fairly clear demonstration that some people are just reflecting their bald class interests. Wouldn't have happened had we all kept the hankies to our lips.

And practically, why is "stupidity" a red herring? It was a topic of dicussion before I arrived; Lucius and Laura both commented on it. While not a Neal Stanifer Approved (tm) topic of discussion, I didn't present it as an alternative to discussing the actual topic at hand. Whether Thomas R was stupid was already on the table. The related topic of people who "know" Thomas R versus those who "do not" was also a parallel theme.

This disucssion, and eveyr other bboard discussion ever, is a colliquial discussion. Tangents happen. This thread is a tangent from the previous thread. This disucssion of Kant and rh fallacies is a tangent from the previous discussion. It's silly to wave the penalty flag only once and three quarters too late. (Though I do think your point would be solid had I spent half my time complaining about people refusing to stay on topic; it is fruitful to point out that those loudly demanding rational conversations are being transparently irrational.)

As far as allowing the opponent to control the field, do you think that is actually what happened in this thread? I don't. A better analogy is counterwrestling. When in what is called the Referee's Position, some wrestlers prefer the "down" position even though that would be generally the inferior choice, because they know they can counterwrestle out of it. Laura MK's whistling for jackbooted thugs in the above thread is just proof positive of who actually had the initiative in discussion, I think.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 11:21 am:   

If by "bald class interests," you mean people are comfortable with a generally bourgeois understanding of argument, you'll get no opposition from me on that score. The "polite discussion" is fine when we're discussing subjects which don't involve thousands of dead bodies, but at some point, we've got to check out of the Starbucks and hit the streets. The "polite discussion" is a great way for everyone to share (ever-so-slightly) divergent views, and we can all go away feeling confirmed in our individuality because, after all, wrong ideas are just as good as right ideas in the good old U. S. of A. I don't hold with this, as you know by now.

But that still doesn't answer the problem of your ethics. In fact, it compounds the problem. Assume your opponents are ethical creatures -- that's fine. But don't accept their rules of engagement when those rules short-circuit the rule of reason. Even ethical creatures make bad decisions out of ignorance, and they should be brought up short when they do so, not granted the right to set the terms of discussion.

And for all the truth in your claim that tangents will happen in an informal discussion, going on at great length about a term as logically-empty as "stupidity" is unproductive, whether or not it is a Neal Stanifer Approved topic. And turning a red herring (and it was a red herring, whether you introduced or simply nurtured it) into a recurrent gratuitous assertion only distracts from the real argument and undercuts the only acceptable reason to get abrasive in argument: to shame someone into concession.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 11:42 am:   

Not just of argument, but of issues themselves.

"The rule of reason"? That's not very materialist. Reason for whom? The reason of whom?

I don't think stupidity is logically empty, especially in a textual discussion, which requires some significant amount of g to comprehend and navigate. Thomas R carries himself in a way that suggests he can't understand why people pick on him, other than the fact that everyone else here is "liberal" and he is not. On the contrary, I don't think he was being picked on at all for most of the discussion. I think the barrier is one of pure comprehension.

At any rate, there are a number of acceptable reasons to get abrasive in an argument, not just shame someone into concession:

1. Compelling someone to reveal their real opinion. (Lucius's anecdote about working class robots and that liberal guy is a good example)

2. The entertainment of third parties. For all the huffing and puffing about people dying here, this specific set of discussions is an entertainment for every party. We're not activists until we leave this page and do other things, which may include other online arguments, but the NS board isn't a locus of activism or political activity.
I'm sure lots of us are active outside of this board on political projects of various sorts -- but this ain't political work.

3. To hand the opponent the metaphorical key to hell. You're very worried about letting the irrationals set the terms of dicussion. Back when I was teaching rhetoric at a loca community college, I found the best way to get people to think rationally was to let them run wild with their irrationality till they hit a wall. Giving them what they wanted was a great way for them to understand that what they wanted and what is valuable were two very different things.

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Lucius
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 12:25 pm:   

I should probably lay out of this, and essentially I am so doing, but...I would suppose, in retrospect, that Thomas R is not stupid. It's worse than that. He's uninformed. That's kind of frightening when you take into account he's working on a history dictorate and doubtless will someday be lecturing to students, steeping them in his views. I don't believe you can learn about history from books...at least you can't get a real feel for what's left out of history from books. Case in point. For the first seventy years of the 20th centurty, Honduras was essentially an enclave of the United Fruit Company, who used their Honduran primacy to dominate the rest of Cemtral America. Two men who were in large part responsible for this state of affairs -- Lee Christmas and Machine Gun Guy Malony -- are mentioned nowhere in any Honduran history books and receive only passing mention in American history books. I've spent more than twenty years on and off looking into the activities of these men, and they are well worth more than a mention. Christmas was a railroad engineer in Louisiana who fell asleep at the wheel and wrecked his train and fled to Honduras to avoid prosecution. There he got a job on a fruit company railroad. A revolution stopped his train, appropriated it -- they were about to execute him, but he showed them how to armor the flatcars with scrap iron that had been left along the tracks and they took over the entire north coast of Honduras in less than a week. Christmas was ridiculously brave, partly because he had a Lord Jim complex and felt he had ruined his life. His acts of bravery attracted the attention of General Manuel Bonilla, the Honduran president, who became the pawn of United Fruit, and he made Christmas a general. Under the guidance of Bonilla and United Fruit, Christmas and his friend Molony, a soldier of fortune who was at the time a New Orleans police officer, went about disrupting governments that were resistant to fruit company poilicy, becoming in effect a kind of evil Butch Cassidy and Sundance. Through their actions, United Fruit solidified their power in CA. Christmas died in the twenties, but I have a picture of Molony shaking hands with Richard Nixon at the Tegucigalpa airport in 1955, so he remained a major player in regional politics for over half a century. These two men were the muscle who kept United Fruit dominant, and without them, the history of CA would be markedly different. Yet they are, basically, unknown.

So what I'm saying, when I hear someone opining about the region, aremd only with bookish wisdom, it pisses me off. Now maybe on some level I shouldn't get pissed off, but watching many of the conversations on this board develop, people being respectful of opinions that are patently inane and uniformed...it;s like listening in to a bunch of academics tweaking, to some mock court debate, the Bad Breath Commitee on Armchair Disarmament. So I am and was tempted to jump in and say, People, this is shit. It's been mentioned that the sort of exchanges that predominate on this forums have no real effect. Well, yeah. That's because they are, in my view, so bland and self-aggrandizing, directed toward no end other than demonstrating various posters' "knowledge." If the debate were more lively, who knows, someone might be inspired to learn something, to seek out some knowledge, and this in turn might inspire something real. Hey, it could happen....

Anyway, that's why I get pissed off.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 12:26 pm:   

BTW, Neal, Christmas' and Molonys' papers are at Tulane...
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richard
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 02:01 pm:   

Lucius - I sympathise hugely with your exasperation at Thomas (over on the other thread I think I've just called him a Nazi, in fact) but I would take issue with the "we need to get abusive" line of reasoning, mainly because on this thread all it's led to is a lot of circular back biting and a dispute over whether Kant would or wouldn't bitch-slap you in Starbucks (or something). The political argument, with its possibilities of someone learning something (you're more optimistic than I here), has in effect been drowned out by an exchange of and about abuse itself. And that's a shame.

I'm reminded of Vonnegut's Hocus Pocus, where he deliberately abstained from using expletives because he believed it gave people the excuse not to listen to what he was saying. Though I'm seething with insults for people like Thomas myself, I suspect Vonnegut's right. You can't afford to give them that exit - and your own devastating historical critique of the idiocies Thomas believes have been far more effective than you blowing up at him. Let's see his opinions demolished, rather than him.

PS - history dictorate was deliberate, right? or just a freudian slip? :-)
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Hello, friends
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 02:36 pm:   

A freudian slip? That's where you say one thing a mean your mother.
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Thomas R
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 03:49 pm:   

First I'm not planning on being a professor. I want to go into research or library and museum work. So no need to worry of me corrupting young minds. Even if I did become a professor I'd want students with views like Richard or Lucius or maybe even Nick. I'd also want them to make up their own minds. If I taught a class and the students all ended up believing as I do I'd be horrified.

Second despite everything I do recognize Lucius has more experience/knowledge with Latin America. As strange as it sounds I think I even agree with him on more than it might seem. I knew about Guzman, Allende, Trujillo, and a few of the others. I admit some of the information was new to me as my areas of study have been Europe and Asia. Still I remember bringing up what was done to Guzman in a class and watching the professor's reaction. She had little idea what I meant, thinking I meant the Sandinistas. I tried to explain this was Guzman in Guatemala, but I'm not sure she'd ever heard of him. This was a fairly smart Left leaning Canadian woman. The students were several degrees below that. Likely some of them couldn't locate Guatemala on a map.

I remember once elsewhere online criticizing Bush on the China issue and getting pretty much "It's China what can he or anyone do?" Same when I bring up Burma or the Congo in class discussions. Graduate level type discussions even. Americans are oblivious, they don't know and they don't know much care. Even at honor society type functions they think the fact I just know Aung San Suu Kyi's name denotes some sign of great intelligence. To learn more about the situation there I tend to have to go to NHK. On occasion NPR would have a bit.

So if Lucius saw that in me I guess I can understand being ticked. Which doesn't mean I agree with him or anyone else here. Often times these kind of emotional personal discussions backfire and make everyone more recalcitrant. Also I think his views are too hopeless. I'm not sure why Latin Americans should bother to do anything if they're always just going to be pawns of the American corporate empires.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 03:50 pm:   

your own devastating historical critique of the idiocies Thomas believes have been far more effective than you blowing up at him.

Effective how? In getting Thomas to change his mind or explore issues? Transparently not. He's a pure ignore-all-evidence-counter-to-my-thesis type. He's not even offering up the sophisticated version of the arguments in favor of his positions; his material on abortion sounds like it was gleaned from half-listening to a Thanksgiving dinner conversation.

As far as the benefits of the polemical edge in these sort of debates, it strikes me that a lot more interesting political work, intellectually and practically, got done in the 19th and early 20th century, when middle-class mandarins and their demands for the civility had been drowned out temporarily.
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Thomas R
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 04:37 pm:   

I conceded I was wrong on Carter raising the unemployment rates. If I can't independently explore dozen different issues in a week, while trying to work, well tough. Nevertheless I felt I learned a good deal through the overall discussion. I can't say I learned anything from you, but you can't learn from everyone.

Besides if I had went a 180 and changed my mind I can't imagine you'd have had more respect for me. If someone had changed their mind and decided Bush was good through me I'd assume the person had no backbone at all. I'd certainly respect them less.


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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 05:00 pm:   

I conceded I was wrong on Carter raising the unemployment rates.

But did that change your view of the measure of presidents, or how one might even measure presidents? (Hint: no administration starts with a blank slate and even if they did, the economy is a world phenomenon).

Besides if I had went a 180 and changed my mind I can't imagine you'd have had more respect for me. If someone had changed their mind and decided Bush was good through me I'd assume the person had no backbone at all.

Hmm, I'd assume that someone who changed their mind actually did so because they were convinced. You apparently believe being pursuaded of something, even in the face of tons of evidence, is a moral weakness rather than an intellectual strength.

And people said the discussion about your intelligence was a red herring.
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Thomas R
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 05:20 pm:   

I always liked Carter as a person. I was glad when he got the Nobel for the most part. I learned that part of why I thought he was a bad President was wrong. I'm not convinced he did well overall, and I don't recall a mountain of evidence that he did.

Still I don't deny I'm stubborn. I like that I'm not so easily convinced. You can use and distort evidence to convince weak minded people of anything. Ultimately you have to pay some attention to what you know, think, or feel.

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richard
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 05:47 pm:   

Go on Thomas, do it. Change your mind - you know you want to. You're that close. Never mind the personal shit. Feel the weight of that evidence. No-one's going to disrespect you for waking up from a neocon-propaganda dream and realising that your alpha male figures have been lying their arses off to you all your life - I did it myself back in my teens, and man it felt good. Like taking off a pair of dark glasses.
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richard
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 06:03 pm:   

Nick - you may be right about the political achievements of the late 19th/early 20th c, but from what I recall of, eg, the name calling between Marx and Bakunin, it was all still fairly mannered stuff, and more to do with lambasting of contrary opinions than of the people who held them (I admit I'm rusty here tho - it's a long time since I looked at the source material).

About the relative effectiveness of Lucius's two strategies - the blow up occasioned a stiffening of Thomas's own position and a chorus of support for him from other posters. None of these people have come back at Lucius's extensive cataloguing of US interference in Latin America, because I think there *is* no valid comeback. And Thomas himself appears to be shifting ground - "As strange as it sounds I think I even agree with him (Lucius) on more than it might seem". That's worth something, surely.
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Thomas R
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 08:41 pm:   

I should abandon the principles of my whole life, before neocon was even in the lingo, and reject everyone I've ever known for...what? A bunch of "evidence" I either find erroneous, out of context, or misused to support an agenda I disdain? A life spent in fear of neocons or corporate conspiracies?

I never denied we manipulate countries and mess them up. I just don't feel the need to give up all hope and ignore all positive signs.
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Dr. Sardonicus
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 09:58 pm:   

Richard said:
None of these people have come back at Lucius's extensive cataloguing of US interference in Latin America, because I think there *is* no valid comeback.
How does one "come back at" a list? I certainly don't dispute the fact that the US has intervened innumerable times in CA. I would, however, dispute the notion that this supports any concept of "American exceptionalism" in a negative sense. I mean -- geez, while we were busy fighting our Civil War, the French installed a puppet Emperor in Mexico, didn't they? And didn't the Germans try to get Mexico to go to war against us at some point?

I've never seen a corresponding list of how, say, the Russians have intervened in the affairs of their neighbors since around 1918, but I imagine the list would have a rather high body count.

I don't like the notion of a "pax Americana" much at all. But I doubt a "pax Sovietica" would have been much fun. And I do not look forward to a "pax Al-Qaedaica".
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 10:08 pm:   

Wow, Thomas. What agenda do you disdain? Self-determination for the countries of Latin America? Land reform? How was my list misused? It was merely a list. Those positive signs that signal an improvement in Latin America, they may look good on paper, like the stats for increased use of transistor radios in Sao Paolo, but when you get down there and start stepping in it, man, those transistor radios don't seem to mean a whole lot. So tell me what hopeful signs you see.

Nobody's giving up hope, Thomas. Some of us are actually trying to do something to nurture hope, rather than just BSing.

Sardonicus, my list was had nothing to do with "exceptionalizing America." Russian foreign policy in their Balkans and elsewhere is just not my particular focus.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 10:51 pm:   

reject everyone I've ever known for...what?

If everyone you've ever known is of one mind, you need to get out more.

And where is the evidence presented erroneous? Nowhere I've seen. You don't even comprehend the notion of institutional power. Out of context? What is the missing context? Provide it and demonstrate how Central America has benefitted from American intervention.

Misused to support an agenda you disdain? What a little piggie. Conclusions first, evidence never. Really, do you think you fell out of the cuntpipe omniscient? Show how evidence is misused, don't just declare it misused.

Frankly, the only one torturing evidence around here is you. You pull stuff out of your ass constantly, then snivel and call for your wannabe thug loser pals when someone dares disagree with you...and only because they know more.
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Dr. Sardonicus
Posted on Saturday, November 29, 2003 - 10:05 am:   

Lucius said:
Sardonicus, my list was had nothing to do with "exceptionalizing America." Russian foreign policy in their Balkans and elsewhere is just not my particular focus.
Your second statement is at odds with your first. You go on at length, e.g. in your post of Sunday, November 23, 2003 - 12:12 pm to the thread An american Werwol... president in London where you said
What amazes me is that most of the people here see Bush as a drastic change from the past. To my mind he's simply the next step after Clinton, who destroyed welfare, instituted the horror of NAFTA and et al. When I was in France recently, I was on a panel relating to the State of the Union, and people were asking the empanelled Americans, What happened to the American Dream?, implying that Bush and his associates were somehow antithetical to that idea. My response was that this is the American Dream -- world domination. Manifest destiiny. Whatever you want to call it. Ever since the Spanish-American War and Teddy Roosevelt, we've been on this course... for over a century. World domination, naturally, begins at home through control of the media.
about how America is bent on world domination. Yet you willfully ignore the fact the Soviet Union (Russia) was also bent on world domination, and was a mortal enemy of this country, by saying their "foreign policy" is "not my particular focus". That's exceptionalizing America.

And there are other nations that have, or have had, agendas of world domination. And there always will be. The United States has to contend with such nations. And now, we also have to contend with a bunch of religious maniacs with a nihilist agenda. Are we supposed to lie down and submit to them, or stand mutely aside while they exert hegemony over some otherwise anarchic region, or our neighbors, friends, and allies?

In the above quote you mention you were in France. Well, the French aught to know about nations bent on world domination. They've been one. And they've had the armies of others in their country. So I'm rather surprised that they were too dim to recognize America as such (they seem to feel free to stick a thumb in Uncle Sam's eye at any opportunity), and it required your efforts to illuminate them.

Dreaming of world domination is one thing, trying to accomplish it quite another. We've got a good part of our military tied up right now in two countries that were largely wrecked when we went in, and we're having plenty of problems. What do you think would happen if we sent the army into Europe?

And "controlling the media" doesn't seem to have advanced much since the time of the Spanish-American War, which was presaged by newapaper publisher William Randolph Hearst telling one of his photographers, "You supply the pictures, and I'll supply the war".
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, November 29, 2003 - 10:22 am:   

Yet you willfully ignore the fact the Soviet Union (Russia) was also bent on world domination, and was a mortal enemy of this country, by saying their "foreign policy" is "not my particular focus". That's exceptionalizing America.

Actually, that isn't exceptionalizing America at all. While one can make the claim that some US interventions in Latin America were based on Cold War gamesmanship, that is hardly the only useful theory for explaining a history of intervention that began long before the USSR had an interest in this hemisphere.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, November 29, 2003 - 11:13 am:   

Sorry, Sardonicus. I don't see what point you're making. My focus is on American foreign policy in Latin America. Obviously, I think, I'm not pro-world domination for any nation, but for practical purposes, I limit my political activity, such as it is, to Latin America. I'm not willfully ignoring anything. It's just I can't make a difference in Russian foreign policy, but I can do something in Central America. That's my focus. If you're saying that by not mentioning other countries I'm exceotionalizing America -- Christ, I take it for granted that other countries do shit like this. What bugs me is that large numbers of people here seem in denial about our intentions. As for Chirac, the panel in France touched heavily on Mr. Chirac, it just seemed off point to get into that.
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Dr. Sardonicus
Posted on Saturday, November 29, 2003 - 07:23 pm:   

Lucius said:
If you're saying that by not mentioning other countries I'm exceotionalizing America -- Christ, I take it for granted that other countries do shit like this. What bugs me is that large numbers of people here seem in denial about our intentions.
OK, you take it for granted that "other countries do shit like this". Good. I'm not sure what you mean by "our intentions". If you mean "world domination", I disagree about the US in general, but less so about the current Administration and, say, the Reagan Administration. One guy from back then -- Elliot Abrams -- gave me the creeps something fierce. And the "neocons" advising the current Administration -- oh, man, don't get me started!

As to your focusing on Latin America -- I can see that. I still remember your story Salvador.

One little incident from the Reagan Administration comes to mind. There was an American fellow, a young idealistic do-gooder, who was teaching Nicaraguan farmers about small-scale hydro projects, suitable for use in family farms. He was murdered by the "Contras". The poor guy's grieving mother was testifying before Congress about it, and some Representative (I think his name was Connie Mack, R-FL if memory serves) told the poor woman that her son had "gotten what he'd deserved". Yuck.

As for me, I tend to focus on things like the USA PATRIOT Act (I started a couple of threads pertaining to it over at the ANALOG forum). Suffice it to say, John Ashcroft is not one of my favorite people.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Saturday, November 29, 2003 - 11:08 pm:   

Dr. Sardonicus,

All very well, but why do you refer to Elliot Abrams in the past tense?

Regards,
SH
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 07:08 am:   

Nick: "At any rate, there are a number of acceptable reasons to get abrasive in an argument, not just shame someone into concession"

Your first reason, elevating the rhetorical heat to force an opponent to reveal his true position, sounds better than it works. To an extent, you're right, I suppose, but more can be accomplished by putting the opponent on the defensive than by calling him names. Also, people under personal attack tend to exaggerate their own claims, tossing out the most extreme forms of their own arguments. In cooler moments, they might not make those unqualified claims. I'm not saying your tactic can't be effective in winning an argument, just that it doesn't really contribute to a productive dialectics.

As for letting people run wild until they hit a wall, I've never tried this. The closest I've come is baiting students with deliberately faulty versions of their own arguments. I'd have to see the "let-them-run-wild" tactic in practice before I agreed to its usefulness. Interesting idea, though.

Finally, re: vituperative for entertainment. Sure, it can be fun to watch someone with crazy ideas get flensed to the bone. Again, though, is anything being accomplished other than to permit those who agree with us to feel satisfied and safe in their opinions, and to chase away those who don't care to be the butt of jokes and insults?

And as for your claim, "the NS board isn't a locus of activism or political activity," I have to ask why you limit the scope of political activity in this way. As far as I am concerned, any venue where people air and exchange political views is a political forum, regardless whether it was first intended to be so.

Finally, "whose Reason"? Come on, Nick, you've been pointing out logical fallacies since early in the previous thread. Don't tell me you don't believe in reasoned argument based on some adherance to formal logical structures. I'm not talking about Grand Narratives here, just logic.
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Dr. Sardonicus
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 09:52 am:   

S. Hamm said:
All very well, but why do you refer to Elliot Abrams in the past tense?
I was referring to him in the context of US Central American policy, which IIRC was his beat as Assistant Secretary of State during the Reagan Administration. But thanks for reminding me that he's back in government. He still gives me the creeps something fierce. I'd heard a while back he'd been taken on as an advisor. I guess I was trying to avoid thinking about him as a current presence. Yuck.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 10:24 am:   

Your first reason, elevating the rhetorical heat to force an opponent to reveal his true position, sounds better than it works.

Not in my experience. In my experience it works just fine. Hell, we saw it work twice already this week. From "be rational" to "you need a beating" in a handful of posts. To a lesser extent, we finally got Thomas to basically admit that nothing will make him change his mind because he was raised a certain way and that's the way he's going to stay.

Again, though, is anything being accomplished other than to permit those who agree with us to feel satisfied and safe in their opinions, and to chase away those who don't care to be the butt of jokes and insults?

Yep. As I mentioned, third parties are the aim. There is very little persuasion on boards like these among people actually engaging in the argument, but significant persuasion among observers.

I have to ask why you limit the scope of political activity in this way. As far as I am concerned, any venue where people air and exchange political views is a political forum

Fora are only rarely loci of activity as well. I limit myself in this way because I actually am an activist. One day on the streets or one article in the Village Voice or Clamor does more than several hundred posts on a small bboard. The ROI on a board like this is so close to zero that it is hardly worth considering.

As far as whose reason, logic sure is important. The problem lies in faulty premises widely believed to be true because of their ideological power. That's what makes it important to ask "reason for whom."
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Thomas R
Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2004 - 02:30 pm:   

Lucius to begin, saying I'd never speak to you again was perhaps extreme. In discussions not about world affairs I don't remember us having that big a problem. Likewise I'm even "talking" with Nick now, on a non-political topic, and he annoyed me far more than you ever did. Granted realizations like that make this rather belated.

So you asked.

So tell me what hopeful signs you see?

There are certainly some available. In the 1990s per capita income went up in Mexico economic inequality went down. Granted that's from the Economist, a source I have some doubts about myself, but they seem fairly credible.

If you prefer the UN Development Reports show a larger HDI improvement from 1995-2001 than any period since the 70s. Literacy went up 4% in the 1990s. Mortality rates for those under 5 went down by more than a third in the 1990s, NAFTA's decade. Same with infant mortality. In rural areas access to improved water increased by a third. The amount of kids going to secondary school has also risen by a third. Having your kids live and have an education is more meaningful, I presume, than radio sales. However feel free to find the negatives too. Mexico

Likewise the stranglehold of 75 years of one party rule ended. I know you dislike Fox and he has not done as well getting human rights abusers as he promised. Still the people can vote him out as well, and in least they have more options than the PRI ever offered.

Finally Latin Americans in polls say they approve of greater connections to the world economy. I won't go by Latin Americans I meet online as they're likely to be richer. However according to a Pew Survey 79% of Mexicans think global trade is good for their nation. 28% think it's very good. This is a higher percentage than in the US.

Not that I'm blind to the problems or failures. The labor protections promised by NAFTA were not enforced. The killings in Juarez are a disgrace to the current Mexican government. There has been backsliding on prosecuting the PRI members involved in killings. Much of this though was worse before and is better than some Left wing alternatives.

Chavez has presided under a tanking economy. Despite his "Leftist" credentials inequality in Venezuela is worse than Mexico and some indications say it increased under him. The Carter Center, Human Rights Watch, and others have criticized his attitude toward the recall effort. Castro is perhaps the worst violator of peoples liberties in Latin America. Even the EU has turned from him.

Further before you came the only thing I mentioned in regard to Latin America was Brazil. I stated that they were poorer than us, with worse economic inequality, and that they voted in a Populist Left winger. I'm not sure why this would offend you. From all indications I'd even say, in his case, he's doing okay. I should've added, as it was what we were discussing then, that compared to their economy Brazil's debt truly is worse than ours.

In the world in general most nations have seen improvements in the last decade. The main declines were in sub-Saharan Africa, and the former USSR. If you wish to blame globalization for this you can I suppose. Although many of the steepest declines came in places like Zimbabwe which certainly believes in "land reform", at the barrel of a gun, and those Former Soviet Republics that stayed isolationist. Further if it's globalization why didn't it cause the most harm to the countries most involved in that trend?

As for the discussion before you came I perhaps should've cited my sources. My figures on US corruption came from a British group called Transparency International. The economic competitive information is backed by several sources like the World Economic Forum. Both these groups proclaimed the best nation to be Finland. Finland considers the US as the greatest threat to world peace and is generally Left leaning. A biased Right wing group I don't think would devote their energies in praising them. The UN also lists the US as in the top seventh most developed, but puts Scandinavians first. So these were sources that I'd think pleasing for the Left as well.

In conclusion this discussion did cause me to read more about these issues so was useful. I certainly have not "come around" to your view, I still think rapid conversions from an online discussion means your a suggestible fool more than anything, but there is more to it than I may have realized.

(On the original issues of Iraq, and especially Afghanistan, I'll admit little to no change has happened with me. Although I'm maybe even more positive on Afghanistan and slightly less posiitve on Iraq)
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, January 12, 2004 - 10:19 am:   

Indeed, there are fairly good reasons to ignore The Economist when it comes to claims about inequality. There's also a good reason to ignore claims of "a 4% increase" in anything -- no real instrument has a precision to accurately measure anything within a +/-4% change.

Venezuela has had economic problems, largely thanks to entrenched US-backed economic interests engaging in lock-outs, sabotage, and oh yeah, a US-supported coup. Funny how that keeps happening to Latin American states that won't tow the line. And funny how US apologists always point to some invisible worse leftist alternative. "Why, if we didn't arrange the slaughter of ten thousand people, twenty thousand people would have been slaughtered! This big bag of money? Just a happy coincidence."

The material on Mexico tends to miss the fact that in 1994, the economy utterly tanked. Most working people in Mexico have yet to reclaim the income and purchasing power they had a decade ago.

Further if it's globalization why didn't it cause the most harm to the countries most involved in that trend?


On the contrary, it does. Since the Bretton Woods agreement over 50 years ago not one country has successfully industrialized and grown a powerful economy by following the prescriptions of free market corporate globalization. Those nations that have successfully developed, (South Korea, Taiwan, etc.), have done so by retaining strong protectionist stances in important industries and domestic consumption (housing, healthcare), and/or by being the direct client states of a leading power. Their economies are not totally closed, but nor are they as open as globalizers demand, and this is why South Korea isn't a Mexico.

Others that haven't fully industrialized but which have used their massive labor pools to successfully grow economies (China, India, Indonesia) have also done so by avoiding the free trade debt crises of the 1980s and the structural adjustment nostrums of the IMF in the 1990s.

In the former Eastern Bloc, Poland is generally considered to have the best economy, and only managed that after reversing a policy of free-market shock treatment.

IMF/WTO-style globalization has ZERO success stories, even after fifty years.

As far as Cuba having the worst human rights abuses in Latin America, simply saying the word Guatemala is sufficient refutation.
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, January 12, 2004 - 01:36 pm:   

Why, if we didn't arrange the slaughter of ten thousand people, twenty thousand people would have been slaughtered! This big bag of money? Just a happy coincidence.

TR: Groan. I've never justified anything like that anywhere. This is just a hamfisted dodge. Like making declines or failures of Chavez everyone else's fault. Most of his years had no coup, but he still managed to fail to turn things around. True I know this is "impossible." No one, especially on the Left, can fail without US shadow interests being the cause somehow correct? I don't think as highly of the US's abilities as you it seems.

Their economies are not totally closed, but nor are they as open as globalizers demand, and this is why South Korea isn't a Mexico.

TR: Well in least you're not for closed economies that's pleasing. However there are many reasons South Korea isn't Mexico, about four hundred years worth of reasons. Even at that South Korea did suffer from economic declines in the 1990s possibly worse than Mexico's. Indonesia had a truly spectacular decline. India and China certainly are not a Mexico, for most of their population they're worse.

In the former Eastern Bloc, Poland is generally considered to have the best economy, and only managed that after reversing a policy of free-market shock treatment.

TR: Generally, by whom? Poland has been sufferng from declines and scandals since 1999. They certainly aren't doing as well as Slovenia or the Czechs. Even at that much of their improvements were due to privatization and closer ties to the EU, which they are planning on joining.

IMF/WTO-style globalization has ZERO success stories, even after fifty years.

TR: The IMF/WTO are in fact not my favorite people in the world. I'd prefer a free trade that does have more regulations and rules. Especially on child labor, human rights, etc. As well as more econommic issues like watching for dishonest or fraudulent practices. I think trade can be used that way, but it often is not and that's disappointing.

Still that's a bit extreme. I think Socialism had several success stories. Even Communism improved literacy in Mongolia. No success at all, not in any way? You want to stick with being completely unyielding and ignoring any improvements that happened in nations under it?
Well that is your right.

As far as Cuba having the worst human rights abuses in Latin America, simply saying the word Guatemala is sufficient refutation.

TR: Guatemala of the 1980s yes. Guatemala of today no. I was talking about now, at this period of time. Name me another one party state in Latin America with Cuba's record. Maybe there's one I'm missing. (Or maybe I'll just get more about how all the elections in the other nations are ran by covert corporate conspiracies. Than I can talk to the Latin Americans I do know and have a good laugh)




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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, January 12, 2004 - 02:29 pm:   

Reviving this was kind of dumb of me though as the thread was dead for over a month. I even tried to cancel that post yesterday before it went in. So this time I think I'd deserve scorn as we'd all pretty much moved on. Apologies.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, January 12, 2004 - 02:44 pm:   

Groan. I've never justified anything like that anywhere.

Ahem: "The killings in Juarez are a disgrace to the current Mexican government. There has been backsliding on prosecuting the PRI members involved in killings. Much of this though was worse before and is better than some Left wing alternatives."

Right-wing killings are worth a hand-wringing it seems, but unnamed "left" alternatives are going to be worse. What's worse than a massacre? Presumably a larger a one. A larger imaginary (or at least hypothetical) one, even!

On Venezeula, I challenge you to describe its economy or political situation in any substantive way. You keep saying that the US isn't all that powerful, yet many Latin America watchers predicted increased aggressiveness against Venezuela in 2000 when Bush came in, and indeed, that's exactly what happened. And indeed, what I said about the entrenched interests, such as the PDVSA officials appointed by the previous regime engaging in lock-outs, the domestic media banning Chavez, dissent in the military, all applauded and nudged along by the US from virtually the beginning of Chavez's term, is endemic and can be found in the reports of pretty much any newspaper. Your response: "Oh, that can't be so."

Yes, there was only one temporarily succesful coup: so what? Coups don't happen at the press of a button -- all sorts of attacks lead to up a coup, and these attacks did damage to an already collapsed economy.

You also simply fudge when V's economy tanked. Both Accion Democratic and Copei collapsed for pretty profound reasons: they were rightly blamed for spiralling debt and drastic increases since the mid-1980s. Chavez inherited that. Do you think a left-populist outside of the major parties wins in good economic times in Latin America?

You also get the "Asian flu" wrong: 1. the Asian flu outside of South Korea was a financial crisis caused by attempting to integrate IMF protocols into economies and (in South Korea, it was an industrial crisis and exacerbated by Kim Dae Jung taking on IMF protocols in an attempt to recover) 2. was nowhere near as bad as Mexico's collapse in 1994. 3. Many of the states who had the flu, including South Korea and Malaysia recovered quite handily -- Malaysia, incidentally, ignored IMF protocols and recovered more quickly than South Korea for it.

On Guatemala vs. Cuba, I didn't realize that the statute of limitations on slaughtering 200,000 people was only a decade or two. Well, I guess I should have realized that since Montt ran for President in 2003. At any rate, here is what Human Rights Watch has to say about Guatemala in 2003. Here are its comments about Cuba.

Let's see; would you rather be arrested or killed? Some of the crackdowns HRW describes as Cuba's doing includes the quick execution of hijackers (sounds like Texas justice to me!) and a crackdown on dissidents in the wake of a) US saber-rattling against Iraq and b) a US trial balloon about Cuba developing biological weapons. -- weapons about as real as Iraqi WMDs. In Guatemala, you can kill thousands of people and get away with it as long as you're of the right social class, so I guess they are freer in your eyes.

I also find your nuanced demand for a "one party state in Latin America with Cuba's record," as if two parties that trade back and forth between forms of repression is any easier on the victims. As far as the Latin Americans you know, what specifically do they have to say about the laundry list of interventions by the US? Or did you mean that they would be laughing at you?

On Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, the latter two made most of their gains via foreign-owned firms engaging in a primarily extractive process known as "tunneling," and indeed, the CR is much worse these days, corruption-wise. Poland, though starting from worse initial conditions, did much better by moving away from the IMF protocols. Among the people pointing this out are Soros and Stiglitz.

You mentioned above that your position shifted, but what really shifted? You still don't seem to think the US capable of wrong-doing even if they were willing, you point to largely meaningless and context-free statistics, you call for globalization and then wimp out of any real defense of the same, and then you pretend to have Latin American friends. How is this a change from the last discussion where you ignored facts, made a series of whiny appeals, and denied the existence of political practices that can be found in any daily newspaper?
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, January 12, 2004 - 04:48 pm:   

Right-wing killings are worth a hand-wringing it seems, but unnamed "left" alternatives are going to be worse.

TR: Not unnamed, well documented millions dying in Leftists regime is far from unnamed. Even you mentioned Stalinism at one point. Further that less die because Cuba is more stable is interesting, but doesn't say much about which is currently the more repressive system. Guatemala, according to your own link, is working with the UN to improve the situation. What is Cuba doing?
HRW supported condemning Cuba, but working with Guatemala's efforts. Funny you fail to mention this.

describes as Cuba's doing includes the quick execution of hijackers (sounds like Texas justice to me!) and a crackdown on dissidents in the wake of a) US saber-rattling against Iraq and b) a US trial balloon about Cuba developing biological weapons.

TR: Sure let's downgrade crackdowns because it's all Bush's fault.

As far as the Latin Americans you know, what specifically do they have to say about the laundry list of interventions by the US?

TR: That the US has done wrong doesn't justify the notion the Left is automatically better. They've heard promises from both, and both have disappointed them many times. Or do you think Marxist guerrillas in Peru were all flowers and sunshine. That Castro sent people to soccer stadiums so they could watch the big game. If you want to count over time he provoked the Cuban missile crisis more than even Khruschev. I guess when you kill those in the controlling elite, or lead the world to armageddon without follow through, it doesn't count.

How is this a change from the last discussion where you ignored facts, made a series of whiny appeals, and denied the existence of political practices that can be found in any daily newspaper?

TR: I gave Left wing regimes credit. In Brazil, Scandinavia, and elsewhere. I admitted NAFTA needs more changes than I once thought, and in the last months have tried to educate myself as best I can. I haven't become a dittohead to you, but so what?

As for the "US does no wrong" that is so not me it's almost funny. The US does wrong none of you mentioned on either thread. Toppling Mossadeq in Iran, funding the Khmer Rouge for a time, supporting Turkmenistan, favoring China over Taiwan in recent arguments, etc. That doesn't somehow make any enemy of the US worth apologizing for or make the wrongs of the US due to markets. The US throughout history has put its interest first or think the American way is somehow the best for all humans. I certainly do not. If Venezuela, Cuba, etc truly had a Uruguay or Finnish style Social Democratic regime that worked and helped them I'd support it strongly. Even if Bush and the US hated it.

Perhaps neither of us have changed enough, but when we both grow up maybe we'll talk again. Or maybe not as I admit at this point I care as little about your opinions on the world as you care about mine.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, January 12, 2004 - 05:31 pm:   

Not unnamed, well documented millions dying in Leftists regime is far from unnamed.

So my estimation of your claim was right all along. Far from being a ham-fisted dodge, you are a member of the "We have to slaughter 200,000 people because someone else might slaughter 300,000 people" school of thought.

Guatemala, according to your own link, is working with the UN to improve the situation. What is Cuba doing? HRW supported condemning Cuba, but working with Guatemala's efforts. Funny you fail to mention this.

I didn't mention it because it is a lie. In our last go-around, I got you to admit that you start with your conclusions and then ignore evidence contrary to your thesis because you built your identity on the horseshit you learned from your family and your religion. However, if you're going to make a very specific claim about what a very specific NGO recommends as policy toward Cuba, you mighty want to take two seconds to actually find out what that position is. To wit, HRW recommends eliminating the travel ban and easing other trade sanctions against Cuba. Not quite a condemnation.

I also noticed that you didn't answer the question: would you rather be shot in the head by a death squad or arrested? Or to put it more starkly: would you rather live in a country where death squads will kill a significant fraction of the population more or less arbitrarily or one where dissidents suspected of receiving aid from enemies powers can be subject to unfair arrest in a political emergency. Hint: you're already living in the latter sort of country. When will you be moving to Guatemala?

Sure let's downgrade crackdowns because it's all Bush's fault.

What college did you go to? I'd like to write to your department chair and have him look into your coursework. Are you actually advocating ignoring the political context in which a political event may take place? Oh, what was I thinking? OF COURSE YOU ARE. After all, you made all your decisions already; facts are just more or less convenient legos to clomp together. At any rate, I'd suggest tearing up your diploma and applying for a job at Dairy Queen. You shouldn't be in a position of any sort of responsibility if you can't even figure out context.

As far as your laundry list of crimes by the Shining Path, etc. , you still need a clue. Why did Shining Path emerge? Because Peru was such a great place to live? Did Castro make things better or worse than Batista? Did the Cuban missile crisis have anything at all to do with an arms race initiated over the skies of Japan in the closing days of WWII? Context remains important, even if mama and The Pope forgot to tell you that when you were seven years old.

If Venezuela, Cuba, etc truly had a Uruguay or Finnish style Social Democratic regime that worked and helped them I'd support it strongly

Easy to say, since you defend the US time and again or ignore the US's efforts to undermine attempts to create social democratic states. Chile, anyone?

Perhaps neither of us have changed enough, but when we both grow up maybe we'll talk again.

I'm plenty grown. If you were anything other than a jackal applauding on the sidelines while the bodies pile up, you'd get a real debate. As you're a naive apologist for mass slaughter as long as it's your pals doing it, you get treated with the derision you richly deserve.

When I want to discuss US interventions with a sophisticated audience, I publish a peer-reviewed monograph, I don't make up bullshit about imaginary Latin American friends or sweep 200,000 bodies under the rug in order to pretend that the lives of three hijackers are more important.
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Monday, January 12, 2004 - 05:47 pm:   

Thomas,

Part of why South Korea developed into an industrial power is part in parcel with its policy of self reliance, especially for the material needed for national defense. They took this step during the Nixon Administration, as the U.S. Army drew its combat power down from two infantry divisions (the Second and the Seventh) to just one.

The South Koreans were afraid that they might lose the other American Division. Further, they were paying very close attention to the behavior of the U.S. Congress, which mandated an end to any military assistance at all to the South Vietnamese government.

In the long run, this meant South Vietnam couldn't get the parts, munitions, and supplies to keep their American equipped Army in the field.

The South Koreans, which have gone through a number of authoritarian military and pseudo military regimes, decided that they weren't going to plan their continued survival based on full U.S. support.

This industrial development was not limited to military hardware by the way. One method the South Korean troops in Vietnam used to win over the Vietnamese was to show them South Korean made refrigerators and say, "See. We were once like you in the paddies. Now we make our own refrigerators, radios and such."

South Korea certainly has her problems, most especially with corrupt corporations (the term slips my mind, chabal, I believe). Sometimes the living conditions aren't quite up to par, and there is a wide divergence between the rich and poor.

Interestingly enough, South Korea would never have had the chance to become one of the larger economies of the world had the United States not stayed there for the last fifty years. They'd be starving along side Kim Jong Il's people.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, January 12, 2004 - 06:57 pm:   

South Korea developed into an industrial power is part in parcel with its policy of self reliance, especially for the material needed for national defense. They took this step during the Nixon Administration.

Actually, ROK became a US client state in the immediate postwar period. This was known as the "modernization school" of American policy. In 1961, Park created the Economic Planning Board to grow the chaebols in a tightly protected economy. ROK began industrializing more than a decade before the Nixon administration.

The South Koreans were afraid that they might lose the other American Division.

Actually, "the South Koreans" were worried about no such thing. The Park Chung Hee regime was worried about collapsing due to a either military coup or a massive civilian uprising, the same way every other regime in ROK since the end of WWII fell -- and indeed, the same way every regime fell until the 1990s.

The American division and the many military bases that dot both South Korean and Japan -- part of a plan to contain both the Communists (and not only the North, much of the South Cholla province) and the Japanese, were generally regarded as more than sufficient to keep the Korean peninsula split. Of course, the "South Koreans" have very little say in the matter even when part of the ruling military clique because of the massive surrender of sovereignity involved in the Combined Arms Command.

The South Koreans, which have gone through a number of authoritarian military and pseudo military regimes, decided that they weren't going to plan their continued survival based on full U.S. support.

Actually, the "South Koreans" decided no such thing. They had no means to. The first reasonably fair election in ROK wasn't until 1992, and this only occured due to anti-military uprisings in 1980 after Chun Doo Hwan's coup and the "people's power" movement of 1987. Of course, even after Kim Young Sam's election in 1992, opposition parties were often ran over, including being locked out of the National Assembly while Kim pushed through his political whims. Even today, the National Security Law puts hard limits on the types of opposition parties that can legally stand for election.

Interestingly enough, South Korea would never have had the chance to become one of the larger economies of the world had the United States not stayed there for the last fifty years. They'd be starving along side Kim Jong Il's people.

Actually, if the US had left early on, the most likely potential Korean peninsula today would be a unified country with a fairly strong economy, and with many fewer corpses littering the countrysides in both North and South.

I see that like Thomas, Murphy too is a proponent of the "We had to slaughter the gooks to save them" school of history.
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, January 12, 2004 - 07:46 pm:   

I didn't mention it because it is a lie.
Very well let's look at this lie from the source you linked.


quote:

Human Rights Watch: Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which is currently meeting in Geneva. Tomorrow, the Commission will vote on a resolution on human rights in Cuba. Human Rights Watch supports a strong resolution condemning Cuba for its poor human rights record.




On Guatemala(rather lengthy)

quote:

Earlier this year, the Guatemalan government, human rights ombudsman and civil society organizations agreed to create a commission to investigate and promote the prosecution of the "clandestine groups." The CICIACS (Commission to Investigate Illegal Groups and Clandestine Security Apparatuses) would consist of three commissioners-one representing the United Nations, one the OAS, and one the Guatemalan state-and a team of both national and international investigators.
The proposed CICIACS has multiple objectives. Its immediate goal is to curb attacks and threats carried out against human rights defenders, justice officials and other targeted groups. Its medium term goals include severing the links that may exist between these groups and some state agents, as well as disarticulating the groups themselves. Its longer term goal is to strengthen the capacity of domestic law enforcement mechanisms to investigate and prosecute the criminal activities engaged in by these sorts of groups.
It will achieve these objectives by providing the Public Prosecutor's Office with investigative leads and evidence for criminal prosecutions, providing state institutions with information necessary to purge corrupt officials, and providing the general public with a clearer understanding of who these groups are and how they operate. It will not be an easy task. Unlike standard truth commissions, which examine past human rights abuses, this commission will be examining forms of organized crime that are presently active and highly dangerous. Such investigations are notoriously difficult, given the criminals' capacity to infiltrate the institutions that investigate them and to corrupt, intimidate and murder the investigators and witnesses who are involved in the cases against them. To be successful, the institution carrying out the investigation must be able to avoid infiltration and resist external pressure. A key feature of the CICIACS proposal is that it seeks to ensure that the commission has the independence necessary to achieve results, but also engage with-and ultimately work to strengthen-the local institutions that are responsible for law enforcement in Guatemala. The Guatemalan government submitted the CICIACS proposal to the United Nations and the OAS last March. The United Nations has since developed recommendations for modifying this proposal and apparently plans to submit these to the Guatemalan government any day now. In addition to the participation of these multilateral bodies, the success of the CICIACS will also depend on the financial and political support it receives from the international community. It will need political support to ensure its legitimacy and, more concretely, financial support to cover its operating expenses.Without adequate resources and personnel, it is unlikely that the commission will be able to achieve its ambitious goals. Not only would this outcome be disappointing, it could also be counterproductive-as half-baked investigations might facilitate the acquittal of dangerous criminals and reinforce the climate of impunity in which they thrive. Ambassador John Hamilton has been an outspoken proponent of human rights in Guatemala. He and his staff have been very supportive of the CICIACS proposal. It is our understanding that they have already sought financial support for the commission here in Washington. Given the severity of the problem, the United States should make supporting the CICIACS a top priority. The initiative represents the best opportunity Guatemala has had in years to make progress in strengthening the rule of law. If successful, it will greatly facilitate the efforts of local rights groups to promote accountability for past abuses. And it may also serve as a useful model for other countries in the region that are struggling to contain political violence, corruption and organized crime




So if you want to call the NGO you linked to a liar, that's cool. I'm not sure what it gains you except it promotes you're own inability to see beyond your pre-existing biases and needs.

What college did you go to?

TR: I wonder the same of you. Did you skip college altogether so you could go straight to activism?

Context remains important, even if mama and The Pope forgot to tell you that when you were seven years old.

TR: "Your mama" I'm sorry if I made you sink to the third grade. True I mentioned my family and that my beliefs are important to me. Yours are important to you wherever you got them. I don't understand your thinking shame must follow from having convictions.

As for the Pope he was against Iraq and isn't too fond of Bush. Catholicism in general has tendencies toward hostility to Capitalism. I certainly got don't get economic views from the Church. The notion is frankly bizarre and is only brought up because you enjoy disparaging others.

However to the main point, yes context matters. For crying out loud my discussion here began by saying the US couldn't become as tyrannical as some feared because the context isn't there. Likewise Leftist guerrilas and Castro couldn't happen if nations were doing well. Right wing take overs in Italy and Spain couldn't have happened if all was well either. That doesn't negate abuses of the Right or the Left and I think you know that. (If you think Spain's different because it had outside support, what do you think Cuba received from the Soviets?)

Easy to say, since you defend the US time and again or ignore the US's efforts to undermine attempts to create social democratic states. Chile, anyone?

TR: Pardon my language, but bullshit. When have I ever done any such thing? I wasn't here then, but I was critical of Bush supporting the coup against Chavez when it happened. If the people want him gone he should go, but it's their choice. Brazil's Left wing leader is fine by me and if that works for them great. I don't think I defended any of the events on Lucius list. I question the slant, his interpretation, and even the reality of them in some cases. I don't question that the US has supported bad things. In fact read the paragraph that sentence you snipped came from.

"As for the 'US does no wrong' that is so not me it's almost funny. The US does wrong none of you mentioned on either thread. Toppling Mossadeq in Iran, funding the Khmer Rouge for a time, supporting Turkmenistan, favoring China over Taiwan in recent arguments, etc."

I didn't specifically blame US corporations I guess. Okay I will now. Corporate interests encouraged letting Malaysia suffer, taking out Arbenz as mentioned, etc. This didn't make me a Socialist though so bad on me.

I'm plenty grown. If you were anything other than a jackal applauding on the sidelines while the bodies pile up, you'd get a real debate. As you're a naive apologist for mass slaughter as long as it's your pals doing it, you get treated with the derision you richly deserve

TR: God you have no clue of anything do you? You're so trapped in your own little radical coccoon that anyone who thinks otherwise must support Right wing repression. I feel sorry for you. Very sorry for you.

Pointing out terrorism and oppression of the Left I think is useful here as no one else seems to. This doesn't mean denying terrorism and repression of the Right. In the twentieth century the Left happened to kill more people, but okay I'll concede that's because they ruled more people. The Rightists were certainly as bad in the lands they tyrannized.

This just shows how correct I was. You understand nothing about me and make no effort. I was jubiliant when they captured Pinichet and still hope he gets tried. I'd like Alfredo Stroessner taken out of his cushy Brazilian retirement and thrown in jail. Same with those in the PRI and the killers in Juarez. I criticized Spain for harboring Francoists at one point. You need to drop the pamphletes on Neo-Con conspiracies and actually listen to voices not your own.

The thing is I think failed and tyrannical regimes on both sides are wrong. You do too I thought as you brought up Stalinism in the first place.

Sorry I ticked you off by thinking the fact Guatemalans in least have elections, and are working with the UN on Human Rights, is a positive. However to go from that to thinking I support deathsquads or clandestine killing squads is insulting and frankly stupid.

I was starting to think better of you, my mistake.

SFM: You might be right on Korea and good for them. Still they certainly were connected to the wider trading world to accomplish this. They didn't take self reliance to any goofy extreme as the North did. Or become Leftists in any normal sense.


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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, January 12, 2004 - 08:35 pm:   

Thomas, there is a world of difference between HRW agreeing with a UN resolution and HRW condemning Cuba. Indeed, as I pointed out and linked to, HRW wants the US to engage with Cuba, not condemn it.

Note, btw, that I wasn't calling HRW liars. I was calling you a liar. Because you lied when you said "HRW supported condemning Cuba, but working with Guatemala's efforts." This is not the case. HRW supported a single resolution condeming a single Cuban action, while recommending working with and engaging Cuba is a far more profound way by easing the senseless travel ban and other sanctions. Omitting determinant facts in order to defend pre-made conclusions is a form of lying.

As far as when you ignored the undermining of Latin American nations by the US, your commentary is full of examples:

No one, especially on the Left, can fail without US shadow interests being the cause somehow correct? I don't think as highly of the US's abilities as you it seems.

(Or maybe I'll just get more about how all the elections in the other nations are ran by covert corporate conspiracies. Than I can talk to the Latin Americans I do know and have a good laugh)

That's from today alone. You've also referred to Lucius's laundry lists of US intervention in Latin America as a form of "narcissism" on the previous thread. You obfuscate on behalf of the US.

For example, when you say this: I question the slant, his interpretation, and even the reality of them in some cases about Lucius's laundry list, you're engaging in a defense of US slaughter. Why? Because every event Lucius listed was real. You don't ACTUALLY question Lucius, you just deny it with an abstract "Nope, can't be." You won't even say WHICH elements of the list are supposed to be imaginary.

You made no attempt to refute the "reality" of anything on the list, you just roll your eyes and said "Oh no, that can't be" or announce that you'll be having a chuckle with your imaginary Latino friends. Denying the reality of actually existing events in such a transparently intellectually dishonest way is a defense.

You have come to the conclusion that US hegemony is the best possible alternative for the world (even if you do meekly say "Well that wasn't very nice" to occasional US policy decisions) and when evidence to the contrary emerges, you simply declare it to be chimerical. That's nonsense.

This doesn't mean denying terrorism and repression of the Right.

No, but it does mean consistently downplaying, ignoring, or just stupidly denying the actual reasons for and results of US interventions across the world. You damn Juarez on one side of the mouth and mutter about an imaginary leftist massacre that was going to be worse from the other side. You jump for joy when Pinochet was 'captured' but when I point out that the US put Pinochet in and encouraged his slaughter, you're strangely silent at worst, and at best say that the US watches out for its own interests, as if this is just a matter of weather.

Basically, when you say you would like Venezuela to have a social-democratic system, but then slap your hands over your eyes and ignore the pre-Chavez basketcase economy, shrug off the US-backed coup, and deny the existence the US-backed lock-outs and oil sabotage, and then dare point to Venezuela's faltering economy as a proof that social democracy doesn't work, you're proving yourself to be an idiot.

Let's sat you're taking a test. First I steal one page of questions and rip them up. Then I pull the fire alarm. Then, whenever the proctor offers instructions, I blow an air horn into your ear. Then I grab the paper out of your hands and mark up some scantron bubbles with responses I know to be incorrect.

But, you manage to get a C- on that test, which is actually a bit above average for the class (everyone else in your section gets a D). Would it be right (or even just accurate) for someone else to walk in, point to that C- ,and tell you how stupid you must be? And when you blame me and explain all the obstacles I put in your path, should our pointing friend just say "Eh, you like to blame all your idiocies on other people. You're such a paranoid"? Of course not.

But that's what you do, Thomas when discussing world politics. Repeatedly.

As far as Korea, of course I'm right. Have you even read a single book on Korea? I noticed your pal Murphy managed to get every single detail of ROK's economic development wrong in his summary.
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 06:43 pm:   

Odd, I got my information from this website:

http://www.korea.net/economy/economy.html

Korea's Place in the Sun, A Modern History by Bruce Cumings.

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/textbooks/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=2XS 2Z2L7S4&isbn=0393316815&TXT=Y&itm=1

He is some inconsequential professor at, let me read the bookcover here, "is the director of the Center for International and Comparative Studies at Northwestern University."

Yeah, guess he must be wrong about that Nixon thing and the Korean effort to develop an independent defense capacity. And their reasons for it.

Oh, then there is this here book.

A Handbook of Korea, which is put out by the South Korean government. The one in my library is 1993, so it is a bit dated, but the history seems to be accurate (and fairly hard on those military republics of the post Korean War period).

http://www.hollym.com/onkorea/AHandbookOfKorea.html

Yeah, those sources can't be correct. Two of them are from the Korean Government (the illegitimate puppet one according to Kim up North, he is the freak digging tunnels under the DMZ).

And that Professor Cumings guy, well, he's probably just some right wing kook.

Besides, Thomas, Nick hasn't even been to Korea. At least Lucius went to the places he has knowledge about. :-)

Why are you talking with this person, Thomas? Surely you are not hoping for a civil exchange of ideas. I've not seen a stitch of evidence anywhere around here that he is capable of it. If you want to argue with someone who disagrees with you, at least find someone who is capable of behaving like an adult.

He probably gets his news on Korea from the DPRK anyway.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Richard Patterson
Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 09:13 pm:   

Mr. Murphy: If South Korea is anything like China (where I live), I would seriously question the accuracy of the contents of pamphlets produced by their own government. This is the land of false advertising.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 10:16 pm:   

Where to begin. Hmm, let's see. I know Cumings. In fact, he wrote the introduction to Kwangju Diary. I'm surprised you'd quote him to support your dubious claim about ROK industrialization emerging in the 1970s along with an ideology of self-reliance because Cumings built his career arguing the opposite: his entire scholarly project is an examination of the postwar industrialization of Northeast Asia as the result, not of self-reliance, but of US hegemony in the region.

He writes, both in the New Left Review and in the intro to KD: "The American bases that still dot Japan and South Korea (containing nearly 100,000 troops) were agents both to contain the Communist enemy and to constrain the capitalist ally. Meanwhile both countries were showered with all manner of support in the early postwar period, as part of a Cold War project to remake both of them as paragon of noncommunist development." (p. 18 of Kwangju Diary).

Did it work? Well, let's look at some stats:

South Korea has experienced rapid economic and industrial growth since the early-to-mid 1960s, when Park Chung-Hee's authoritarian regime (1961-79) gained power through a military coup (16 May, 1961). Park's regime, which had relatively little initial legitimacy, strongly advanced economic development policies as one way to achieve popular support. The regime's "development strategies" were embodied in a series of Five-Year Economic Development Plans (EDPS) initiated in 1962. The success of these programs was registered in terms of dramatic rates of real economic growth (1962-66 = 7.8%; 1967-71 = 9.6%; 1972-76 = 9.2%; 1977-81 = 5.8%; 1982-86 = 8.7%)

(Source: Transnational Economic Linkages, the State, and Dependent Development in South Korea, 1966-1988: a Time-Series Analysis. Contributors: York W. Bradshaw - author, Young-Jeong Kim - author, Bruce London - author. Journal Title: Social Forces. Volume: 72. Issue: 2. Publication Year: 1993. Page Number: 320. )

Was 1961 the Nixon administration? No. 1966? No. Seems like industrialization predates Nixon by a great deal. Does Cumings agree with these figures? Well, he writes: "From the mid-1960s onwards, South Korea and Taiwan were the fastest-growing economies in the world" (he Korean Crisis and the End of 'Late' Development. Contributors: Bruce Cumings - author. Journal Title: New Left Review. Volume: a. Issue: 231. Publication Year: 1998. Page Number: 44. )

Were the mid-1960s the Nixon Administration? No.

Well, maybe he said something different in the Norton title, as that was a popular rather than a scholarly book. I don't see the book on Questia.com, which means I don't do an exhaustive search on the word "Nixon" in it but here's how one review of Korea's Place In The Sun summarizes Cumings' position:

Every stratum of the otherwise barren Korean economy was "fertilized," as Cumings puts it, "by the inconceivable amounts of American cash that flowed into the country, down from the presidential mansion, through the bureaucracies civil and military, coursing through the PXs and onto the black market, into the pockets of a horde of people who serviced the foreign presence: drivers, guards, runners, valets, maids, houseboys, black-market operators, money changers, prostitutes, and beggars." In describing the Korean "miracle," analysts usually start from a base of about $100 per capita income in 1960 and marvel at its rise to more than $10,000 over three decades. But Cumings, for good reason, considers the low estimates of South Korea's per capita income in the early decades after World War II "grossly uninformative." After all, according to one estimate that Cummings cites, American aid to South Korea between 1945 and 1976 added up to as much as $600 every year for every Korean.

Sweet! Doesn't say much for self-reliance or industrialization in the 1970s though.

I also have to say I find your worry about Kim's tunnels under the DMZ pretty laughable. Our pal Cumings denounced that story back in 1984, when Kim Sr. was supposedly doing it. He writes: "Every year, especially during military appropriations hearings in Congress, new alarms are set off about a summer offensive, a winter offensive, more tunnels under the DMZ, and the like. Yet the fact of the matter is that the North Korean military possesses mostly obsolescent equipment, has not fought in battle conditions for three decades, and can be thoroughly deterred by the strength of the South, U.S. air and naval power, and the absence of secure backing from China and the Soviet Union." (Article Title: Ending the Cold War in Korea. Contributors: Bruce Cumings - author. Journal Title: World Policy Journal. Volume: 1. Issue: 4. Publication Year: 1984. Page Number: 782. )

Damn, twenty years and STILL not under the DMZ yet. Well maybe Cumings has changed his mind and sees the DPRK as a ferocious nuclear threat to freedom in the South and in the US now. Well, he didn't six weeks ago.


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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 - 09:28 am:   

Odd, I visited one of those uncovered tunnels. I suppose next I'll be told that the ROK Army dug the tunnels.

Richard, I would agree that one takes anything on the Korea.net government site with a block of salt lick.

I would agree with his assessment of the North Korean military and the fact that they can be deterred by the South Korean military. I further agree that the United States really doesn't need to be in South Korea, or Japan for that matter.

As for the nuclear threat, I do not worry about it as much as some others because China is right next door. Kim Jong Il mainly wants to survive. He knows that if he chucks a nuke at someone, then he'll probably get two or three back at him.

Now, on obsolete equipment, it should be kept in mind that Korea is a mountainous country and as such, the terrain negates a number of the technological advantages both the ROK Army and U.S. Army would have in any future conflict (one big reason we don't invade, besides the addition fact that there is NO ONE to send).

A future war on the Korean Pennisula would very much be an Infantryman's war and it would probably look a lot like the last one. The only serious issue is not when China would intervene, but on who's side would they intervene.

Let's see, looking back up the thread here.

The economics, my point on Korean industry was mainly laid at the Defense end (which I do know something about and I do believe Cumings book does verify the ROK government's security concerns, both foreign and domestic). I will not get into a dissection of Korean economics on the whole because, one, it was not the point I was addressing, and two, I freely admit that I am not an economist.

However, the ROK does not manufacture most of the equipment for their defense domestically, either from their own designs or under license.

On your point about unification, Nick, considering what we know about Stalinst regimes (which is what the North is) I find it a bit hard to believe that you think there would be fewer corpses if we had let the North win after an invasion against a defenseless South.

Personally, I think the whole pennisula would be starving right now, as opposed to just the North.

And surely even you can see, as much as you may prefer Left oriented socio-economic structures, that going down the path of Stalin, Mao or Kim Jong Il is not really the best way to go.

Then again, maybe not.

And why bring up the term "gook" when we are talking about Koreans? I find the term offensive. I mean, you want to call me a sympathy slut and tell me I have a Depleted Uranium rotted brain, that is fine. It is nothing I haven't heard before. But I think maybe you ought to leave the racial slurs toward others out of it.

Especially since I made no such reference.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com

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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 - 11:04 am:   

You miss the point Cumings makes about the tunnels. They're not useful, and certainly not a sign of "freak"-ishness or political craziness on the part of the Kims -- did you read the Cumings article I linked to? The Kims are rational actors playing a very bad hand of cards, and they're not doing too badly for themselves though of course their people are among the most tragic in the world.

If Kim Sr was a crazy freak, he wouldn't have died in his bed at the age of 82 while six ROK dictators and 21 Japanese Prime ministers came and went. If Kim Sr's regime was just a personality cult, Kim Jr. wouldn't have been able to hold it together for a decade under famine conditions. The DPRK method is to appear mad; the problem is that the US often falls for it and misses the real opportunities for diplomacy that do exist.

As far as your point about industrialization relating only to defense, you probably should have mentioned that rather than just saying "industrialization," or for that matter, bringing up refrigerators and the like, or, for that matter, talking about stages of the Vietnam War that occurred before the Nixon administration, or for that matter, waving books you've either only half-read or half-understood to try and make your "point."

You see if you say "industrialization" without refering to militarization and talk about refrigerators and the mid-1960s and point to a scholar who has dedicated his life to discussing US hegemony, people aren't going to magically realize that you mean the military instead of industry as a whole. That said, sure, the 1970s did see a shift, though actually Cumings suggests that it was largely a misfire. His claim (more of an insightful guess, really) is that Nixon wanted to shift regional security over to Japan, and turn ROK into an import state for textiles.

In this, Nixon was taking advantage of the Russian/Chinese split and his own ability to initiate diplomacy with China -- this was an expansion of US hegemony in Northeast Asia, not a retraction of it. Park was fairly shitting himself with rage and fear, partially due to the North and China, but largely due to the fact that his own population and elements within the military was more likely to turn against him if there wasn't 100,000 Americans standing between them and him.

At any rate, Park's puffery about self-reliance was little more than that; reread the Cumings, he makes the point several times about the continued fusion between security and economic concerns as it relates to US hegemony. For starters, take a look at how Seoul was able to avoid the debt crises of the 1980s that plagued other industrializing economies. (Long story short: the US made Tokyo pay it down in '83; Seoul was thus able to float "its" army which the US continues to command under CAC, Japan was able to stay under the Korean umbrella since it is unable to spend much on its own defense, and US retained hegemonic power on the cheap.)

On your point about unification, Nick, considering what we know about Stalinst regimes (which is what the North is) I find it a bit hard to believe that you think there would be fewer corpses if we had let the North win after an invasion against a defenseless South.

Actually, if "we" hadn't had a major role in partitioning the peninsula in 1948 (and along lines that kept the heavily Communist South Cholla province in the US sphere) and hadn't undermined the wide coalition govt of the KPR as early as 1946, there probably wouldn't have a "North", "defenseless South," or a Stalinist state in the first place.

You're stuck in the absorption mindset (common to military minds) that had kept the peninsula separated for 50 years, but there is no reason to see reunification in absorption terms; economics leads US military concerns by the nose throughout modern history. Again, reread the Cumings book (or his The Origins Of The Korean War) or Hart-Landsberg's Korea : Division, Reunification, & U.S. Foreign Policy for the skinny. If you're not an economist and you're interested in the Pacific Rim, you should start making yourself one. I don't care if you're right or left in it, but trying to figure out the peninsula without economics is sucker's bet.

As far as the racial slur, the Korean War killed 4,000,000 people. Your defense of it is the same ol' thing we saw from Thomas R: 'some hypothetical slaughter would have been worse.' That sounds fairly dehumanizing to me. You didn't say gook? True enough, and yes, I was being provocative, but no more provocative then you've been. You see, you lost any sort of moral authority to call for "civility" in your very first post, when you said: "As it is, it is not like the Left is a party without it's (sic) own bigotry and ideological prejudices. God knows they treat combat veterans with the same level of contempt that the KKK reserves for African-americans."

So, when was the last time "the Left" hanged a combat veteran by the neck until dead as the centerpiece of a picnic luncheon again again? Oh yeah, never happened.

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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 - 12:02 pm:   

Hmm, we are turning to the treatment of combat veterans and this is a topic I can address with a bit more authority.

First, a hanging might have been preferable to the systematic harassment that veterans have endured since the mid days of Vietnam.

My father tells me that when he first returned to his job as a mechanic at a local shop, he tried to tell them that the exhaust fan was not blowing the fumes out. Instead, the blades were reversed keeping the toxic fumes in the garage inside during the winter time.

His employer told him he was crazy. And that he was a crazy Nam vet to boot.

It gets better. Years later, he encounters someone who is still working there. And the guy says, "Yeah, you know what? They found out the blades on that fan were reversed."

Just one of his. He doesn't talk about it most of the time. However, his advice when I returned from the First Gulf War was to remain "Quiet" about my service.

Personally, I object to shoving a part of my life off into a closet and I didn't remain quiet. This was in 1993.

Between then and the present, I've heard most of the slurs to include "professional babykiller," and "How do you feel prostituting yourself to the Army for college money?" and the comments about depleted uranium (remember that one) and so on and so on.

It gets worse if you display any sort of public anger about anything, because then you are "a trained killing machine getting ready to lose it."

And at the same time, I put up with this while getting a Bachelors and Masters Degrees in History from professors who said about my father, "If he was smart, he would have dodged the draft." Which in my mind implied that he was stupid (he is, but not for going to Nam).

So, my comment which you quoted and I opened up with a few weeks ago is designed to demonstrate a central hypocrisy of the Left.

Since I got out, the Left says over and over that they are all about inclusiveness, diversity, tolerance, multiculturalism and the like. Those are laudable goals and I find myself in concurrence with their merit.

Thing is, the Left doesn't have much use for soldiers and no use for what I call "Unrepentant Veterans."

Further, there is a tactic used by the Left whereupon any criticism of their sacred cows, be it gender or racial issues, is immediately met with charges of racism or sexism.

Or analogies centering on, how did that lyric go?

Strange fruit ripe on the trees, or some truly horrid line.

One final point, Nick. Just like everyone I encountered in college, you instantly assume that because I share the Right's views on some issues that I must be a Republican across the board. A card carrying member of the party no less.

It is odd that I got that charge a lot in the early 90's, especially considering I voted for Clinton (I will never forgive myself for that mistake).

So, the charge that the Left isn't much better than the KKK is a pretty nasty one. It is designed to be. It is designed to make people who are of the Left think about their rhetorical arsenal. Because all I did is take a base Left charge, change the parties I accuse, and toss it back.

And as I have personally learned in the ninties, there is more than one way to lynch a person. Some of the more subtle versions leave you alive to suffer the after effects. There is nothing worse than being treated like a subhuman monster by people with PhD's who are supposed to know better, especially with their constant spouting about "accpetance."

As for the reading recommendations, my list is pretty lengthy already. I've already got a specialization in European History.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Brendan
Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 - 12:22 pm:   

Sorry Steven, but there is only one way to lynch a man. Verbal abuse and murder just are not the same thing.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 - 01:05 pm:   

I think Brendan addressed that all fairly well and completely. You cannot seriously compare systematic murders and terror with second-rate professors making fun of you.

There are also plenty of non-vets who get jerked around by their bosses. If the complaintant is not a crazy vet, they're a stupid nigger or an ungrateful immigrant or a know-it-all college boy or, hell, fired.

Needless to say, I don't consider voting for Clinton either a) a good thing, or b) a sign that someone isn't right-wing. Clinton had plenty to offer the right. I certainly never voted for that hunk of shit, nor for Gore, nor for Nader.

Now, I do totally agree that vets do get marginalized, and certainly as "trained killers" when they angry -- of course you actually do have an anger management problem, Murphy -- but to stay on topic, my friend Stan actually has a great article on how idiotic the left can be as regards the military: Easy Answers. Check it out.

But if you want to cry crocodile tears about how you're being mistreated here, save 'em. You waltzed onto the board spouting bullshit about the left and the Klan in your very first post, and since you're defending it more than a month later it clearly wasn't just something you typed up in a moment of anger. Get over yourself.
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 - 06:07 pm:   

Of course I have an anger management problem. I'm aware of it. :-) I won't be killing anyone over it (mainly because I believed long before I even joined the Army that most people simply aren't worth the effort).

Nor am I complaining about my treatment here. I've lurked for a long time prior to leaping in for Thomas R. So I know what is going on around particular threads in this Forum. And there is nothing I've heard here that is any worse than what I've heard elsewhere.

Thing is, I've lost one job in particular and a number of graduate teaching assistantship opportunities due to the fact that I'm a veteran, and more importantly, that I don't run around saying I'm sorry about being a veteran.

Without the GTA experience, it is a bit difficult (especially in the tight history market) to lock down a part time teaching position.

Now, as I recall from my earlier arrival, there was a fair amount of horsewhipping going on. It looked like a number of people had ganged up on Thomas (it still looks that way when I look at the thread). And I couldn't find any evidence that Thomas had been an ass, or rude, or did anything more than disagree with you.

I further recall that my initial target, Nick, was not even you. I may have anger problems and I may vehemently disagree with people (especially the lynching issue, your career is not the one in ruins, I may as well have been hung from a tree) but for the most part, I'm not in the habit of horsewhipping people, especially in the case of Thomas, what is the word I'm looking for. . .

a potential customer, a reader of science fiction and fantasy.

Me on the other hand, well, I just read science fiction. And even if I disagree with Lucius' treatment of his readers, and his political views, I generally separate those components from one's writing (though to be honest, I was looking through my old Asimov's, which I mark with indicators that I liked or disliked a story. I didn't mark them at all and this was way before our little unpleasantness so who knows?)

My Klan/Left point is really a simple one. The Left views us as inhuman monsters. I may be a trained killer, but the major component of that training consists of one thing.

Restraint.

And I didn't type the comment in a moment of anger. Chat with a few folks that have been at Asimov's for the last two years. They will tell you that they have seen it before (in fact, it predates my first posts at Asimov's). Better yet, ask Thomas yourself. He probably remembers it.

Nor am I defending the comment. I stand by it.

Finally, I don't think that was my first post here. Somewhere laying about are probably a couple of others, but to be honest, I purposefully keep my internet time to a minimum.

Time spent here is time not spent on reading, writing, drinking, working, dancing or screwing.

Such as it is, we can agree to disagree on the other stuff.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 - 07:11 pm:   

I never claimed the initial target was me. And my response to it, as you may remember, was simply to point out how hypocritical it was to call for civility and then declare that the left treats vets with the contempt the KKK treats blacks.

Note: not views, TREATS.

Don't misread me: I'm not offended or outraged, I just think it's totally ridiculous and laughable. And I'm amazed you're sticking with it -- it's like encountering an especially funny homeless person in the bus station.

Your career is in ruins? Perhaps it is. Perhaps it isn't.

Is it because you're a vet? I don't instantly believe claims of race or sex discrimination, and I don't instantly believe claims of political discrimination from either the left or the right. It's a tight market as you note and people across the spectrum are always ready to point to anything other than their own scholarship (they gave it to a black, a white, a man, a woman, a right-winger, a leftist, a Keynesian, a monetarist, a feminist, a structuralist etc.) when they don't get a job.

Is it not even possible that part of why you can't find an adjunct gig is that 50% of history PhDs can't get jobs in academia. And you have an MA.

Now I'm not saying you weren't blackballed for being a vet either. I've heard of stupider and nastier shit happening in the academic biz, which is why I'm not in it even after publishing what most Koreanists agree is the most important book on Kwangju (and having it reviewed in the New York Review Of Books!).

I'm just saying a claim isn't the same as a truth. But I will say this: if the left as you experienced it really -- as you claim it does -- treats combat vets with the same contempt the KKK treats blacks, you wouldn't be having this conversation right now.

On the whole bit about being a consumer of SF, whoopie. Honestly, if you don't buy Move Under Ground (available for pre-order!), what does that mean to me? You wanna know: someone else gives me two bucks fifty instead of you. That is, even if you like to read Lovecraftian Beat road novels -- is that even up your alley?

Honestly, I'd much rather you buy the Cumings title I recommended than any of my SF.
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 06:38 pm:   

You jump for joy when Pinochet was 'captured' but when I point out that the US put Pinochet in and encouraged his slaughter, you're strangely silent at worst

TR: Because I knew this already and didn't have much to add about it. I know you think I'm stupid, but did you think telling me the US brought Pinochet to power would surprise me? Or that I could possibly support such a thing? You really despise me for some odd reason.

Anyway I wasn't alive when it happened so I was in no position to protest it or do anything. I quit watching Robert Novak, a Catholic even for that obsession of yours, when I saw him defend Pinochet. I bought my sister-in-law Allende's latest book. Less trivial I totally support imprisoning the monsters of that regime and efforts to find those disappeared. I'm for Chile legalizing divorce though the Church is not. What else do you want? For me to lockstep agree with your reasons why the US did it? Some of it was economic, but it's rare things are as monocausal as that. There was the US tendency to act as superpowers do, to support any freak they thought would fight Communism, and see the worst in instabilities under Salvador Allende Grossens. Probably other issues as well. None of these is apologism for the US and if you read it as such you need new glasses.

You have come to the conclusion that US hegemony is the best possible alternative for the world (even if you do meekly say "Well that wasn't very nice" to occasional US policy decisions)

Thomas R: I came to no such conclusion. Do you think that I think supporting Khmer Rouge rebels is merely "not nice." It was abominable, the North Vietnamese were on the moral high ground in comparison. I don't think the US, or anyone, should have veto power at the UN. I think we don't do enough for the poorer nations. To a degree I don't even like the idea of superpowers and think they're generally not the best places to live. I have no more love for the US than I have for Coca-Cola. In fact I'd say substantially less. (I'll be drinking Coke long after I live in the US I hope)

That's not enough for you though. You need a radical belief that anything evil the US is accused of is real. That one must be just as horrified by the US actions as you. I am and I'm not. As I don't care about the US one way or the other it doesn't matter to me much if it's them or some other country funding atrocity. It's bad either way no matter what side does it or who gives the cash. However I'll concede I think the US is mild compared to many of histories superpowers. Like Victorian England, Leopold Belgium, Bourbon France, the Soviets, the Spanish Empire, the Japanese, and maybe even the Dutch. I know you'd agree some of these nations problems began with the centuries of imperialism such nations inflicted on them. That those actions are in least comparable to the Great Satan you made for yourself.

Like I said I'd in principle I'd rather there be no superpower and I intend to live outside the US once I can. Maybe not return either. However as the US is the superpower for now I hope that they can do some good. You feel the most good is done despite them I think. The goal is similar I presume, more democracy and improved human rights, the methods are different. It's a big thing, but it's not so grandiose as you act.

As far as Korea, of course I'm right. Have you even read a single book on Korea? I noticed your pal Murphy managed to get every single detail of ROK's economic development wrong in his summary.

Thomas R: The arrogance and condescension. Yet you wonder why Leftists never make it in the US.

Yes I've read a great deal on Korea. East Asia has been my interest since I was twelve or younger. I'll concede my area of focus was the period before Western contact. (Dynastic China, Confucian/Choson Korea, Feudalist Japan, etc) However I've studied modern Korea, had an eldest brother live in Korea, and I was considering devoting my research to it this semester. I'll admit I've never lived there yet, but I'm young enough to change that. However I'll concede that as I haven't done that my knowledge fails to compare to your actual experiences living there.

SFM:Why are you talking with this person, Thomas?

TR: I hadn't intended to. I mentioned him, but did not address the initial post to him. I shouldn't have revived this at all so I take much of the blame for anything that happened. Personally I'd say all the blame, but that's egotistical.

Anyway after he responded I got into a thing and he was sort of interesting on the Medieval period. That's more my area anyway so if I ever talk with him again I'll make sure to limit myself to it.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 09:04 pm:   

That's not enough for you though. You need a radical belief that anything evil the US is accused of is real.

Actually, all I need is for someone, when suggesting that some of the accusations are not real, is to specifically point out which and then to explain, in rational terms rather than pseudo-psychological ones, why those accusations are false.

You haven't done that, not after repeated requests. You doubt the reality of the accusations but don't say which and don't say why. And you apparently consider it a personal affront to actually be asked to do so.

Were the various 19th century imperialist worse? I don't believe so. The US didn't engage in direct colonialization for the most part; it simply conquered the interior of the continent and 1/3rd of Mexico, and set up proxies across Latin America in the same time. The difference is that the Euro imperialist nations have faded, and the US is now the prime imperialist. I don't see why one shouldn't criticize the US today from a left stance because the Belgians went apeshit in the Congo yesterday. If you want to refute a left stance, you accomplish that by showing factual or theoretical errors -- not by pointing to Stalin and saying something like 'You believe in that, don't you?' as Murph did, or by saying 'No, it can't all be true! La la la la, I'm not listening I'm not looking!' as you do.

What you don't get is that "Other people do it too," is not an excuse and it is not a refutation.

The arrogance and condescension. Yet you wonder why Leftists never make it in the US.

Condescending? Meeee? Actually, I don't wonder about the left and the US at all; generally I blame a slavish devotion to the Democratic Party for it.

However, it is worth pointing out that when facts leave you, you attack personalities. Not only did I say that Murph got every detail wrong, I then went about proving it by citing a number of easily checkable, peer-reviewed sources -- including the very source Murph claimed his info from -- and then Murph himself acknowledged that he was talking about something else (independence in militarization, not the industrialization of ROK in general). I don't think even he had a problem with that part of the discussion.

However I've studied modern Korea, had an eldest brother live in Korea, and I was considering devoting my research to it this semester. I'll admit I've never lived there yet, but I'm young enough to change that. However I'll concede that as I haven't done that my knowledge fails to compare to your actual experiences living there.


Oh, I've never lived there. One doesn't need to live in a place to study its economics or politics. After all, if one did, that would make the entire field of history only legitimate up to the point where the oldest generation of active historians were born, right?

As far as why I've never lived there, it is largely because I'd certainly be followed, harrassed, and possibly (very very unlikely, but possibly) arrested for spending any time there. My writing partner on topics Korean spent several months in a ROK prison during the Kim Young Sam government -- among his transgressions was the ownership of books by Robert Heilbroner -- and was followed constantly when he returned to visit his ill mother and help settle the estate of his late father.

So if you do go, I wish you luck. I bet you'd really enjoy it, and it might be eye-opening for you as well, especially if you travel through the South Cholla province. You might want to be careful about what reading material you pack as the NSL is still in place. Also, don't mention Japan, how cool it is that there are lots of Americans there protecting everybody, and stay out of the video game parlors.
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Thomas R
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 04:29 pm:   

You doubt the reality of the accusations but don't say which and don't say why.

TR: I'd have to look over the list again and remember which ones sounded suspect to me. That'd take some time, but maybe it was lazy of me to not do so. There were a few on the list which amounted to "believed to be done by" with not much backing. Statements on covert deals with Noriega I was unsure about. I never meant to get into it when I came as Latin America is not my area.

However you're statement that 4 million were killed by the Korean War did puzzle me more. This is unusually high and doesn't square with anything I'd heard or read. The absolute highest I've found anywhere is 3.5 million and that's presuming everyone missing during the period died. Could you tell me your source on that?

What you don't get is that "Other people do it too," is not an excuse and it is not a refutation.

TR: Don't be silly of course I get that.

My point is you, and Lucius to an extent, singled the US evils out too much for my taste. I don't care that much about the US one way or the other. So knowing the crimes of the US doesn't lessen them, but they also do not lessen my disgust for crimes the US had little to nothing to do with. Or my belief that many nations, and systems, are to blame for the problems of our world.

Wrong is wrong no matter who does it. I think focussing on the US makes some sense as the US has more ability to change or become positive than Russia or China do, but I feel it still warps the picture. Anyway if these threads had discussed the crimes of various nations in general I would have been less inclined to "defend" the US. As the US is the focus it makes me defend them some. As I would Russia, or France if the situation warranted it. (It'd be difficult for me to defend the Chinese government in any instance)

However, it is worth pointing out that when facts leave you, you attack personalities.

TR: You attacked my personality before I ever came to this thread. Still two wrongs don't make a right, I'm sorry

My writing partner on topics Korean spent several months in a ROK prison during the Kim Young Sam government -- among his transgressions was the ownership of books by Robert Heilbroner -- and was followed constantly when he returned to visit his ill mother and help settle the estate of his late father.

TR: That's terrible so I could understand your hesitancy. Despite what I said about the economy there, I definitely think/hope the ROK improved from that.

So if you do go, I wish you luck. I bet you'd really enjoy it, and it might be eye-opening for you as well, especially if you travel through the South Cholla province. You might want to be careful about what reading material you pack as the NSL is still in place. Also, don't mention Japan, how cool it is that there are lots of Americans there protecting everybody, and stay out of the video game parlors.

TR: I'll look up South Cholla if I go, thanks. It's an interesting history. Of all the East Asian lands to have printing before Guettenberg I think they were the first to also have an alphabet. It also sounds like my kind of climate and I think the earthquake risk is lower than Japan's.

As for Japan I wouldn't mention the military issue anyway, and I'm actually kind of for the troops leaving Okinawa.




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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 05:59 pm:   

Statements on covert deals with Noriega I was unsure about.

There's a lot of literature on that, actually. Take a gander via google to start.

Four million is all-nations deaths for the Korean War, and can be found plenty of places. The Red Cross uses that number, among other places. If you're truly desparate, I can dig up nation-by-nation deaths.

My point is you, and Lucius to an extent, singled the US evils out too much for my taste.

Taste? C'mon! It's important to get one's preconceptions and impulses (taste is an emergent property of the same) out of the way when one is trying to find out what is actually going on out there in the world. It can be hard to do, but worth it. It took me a while to both break out of the electoral trap and the gun-control trap, to name two dubious causes beloved by "the left," much to the chagrin of many of my friends. Facts first, then conclusions. Very important.

Still two wrongs don't make a right, I'm sorry.

Thanks, I appreciate that.
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Thomas R
Posted on Saturday, January 17, 2004 - 01:51 am:   

Your welcome.

Also looking it up Paraguay has been led by the Colorado party for 55 years, longer than Communists in Cuba, and is Latin America's most corrupt nation. As well as having a bad economy and only mild improvements in development. There's not much on its current human rights record, but the point is I apparently did overlook a Latin American nation with longstanding rule by one rather questionable party. Rather embarrassing as my college has strong ties to Paraguay, and I was studying the Triple Alliance War for a time. I guess I wrongly assumed as they indicted Stroessner they were led by a different party now.
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news junkie
Posted on Saturday, March 06, 2004 - 10:44 am:   

To Preserve, Protect ... or Abandon
By Charles Cutter
Mar 4, 2004, 21:37
http://magic-city-news.com/article_1085.shtml

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