July 24, 2006

Kos and Israel.

The Weekly Standard describes the political problem Israel's war presents for Daily Kos:
Combined, the half dozen front-pagers have written exactly one post on the subject. And that post, authored by Moulitsas, simply declared that he wouldn't write anything further on the subject. So while the most important story of the year develops, the nation's leading progressive blog has chosen to focus on the Indiana second district House race between Chris Chocola and Joe Donnelly. Nothing wrong with that; it's their prerogative to blog about whatever they like.

But inside the Kos diaries, it's been a different story. The conversation in the diaries has been overwhelmingly anti-Israel--and potentially disastrous for the Democratic party.
This is a very crisply outlined manifestation of a broader problem faced by Kos. The readership is gained with sharp opinions. It wants to transform that readership into political power. But the style and extremity of opinion doesn't suit the people who need to be won over. There's some ugly stuff over there, and perhaps a lot of it can be ignored, especially if it's just in the comments, like calling Israel "a spreading plague" that ought to be "dismantle[d]" -- which The Weekly Standard quotes.

IN THE COMMENTS: There's a lot of discussion about how much comments are seen or should be seen as what the blog is about. I write:
About quoting commenters, remember I had the experience yesterday of seeing my name printed in the New York Times right next to a quote that was written by one of my commenters (who wasn't named). Nothing I wrote was quoted, but there was my name. Fortunately, it wasn't a despicable quote, but it's a little scary to think how that would be read by most people, especially if they don't think about the relationship between the blogger and the commenters (which is that I'm providing a forum and policing only some undefined outer limit). And I initially misread it as quoting me, throughout the whole time I was writing a long post dissecting the article (not concentrating on that part of it). What does the casual reader think? Probably that it's what I said.


aaron said...

Kos commenters are registered, but yeah there are still going to be outsiders who manipulate the thread.

Hell, people can also post under an alias and site themselves. I heard of people doing this when they needed sources for papers back in college.

aaron said...

Mary, I'd be really skeptical of all the criticism of Israel.

aaron said...

With all the exaggeration, hype, and spin over the past years, Israel has earned the benefit of the doubt.

Sure, they might be overdoing it (I'd be suprised if at least some of their responses aren't overkill), but we won't know that for quite some time. Anyone who tells you now is blowing fog of war up your ass.

Ann Althouse said...

About quoting commenters, remember I had the experience yesterday of seeing my name printed in the New York Times right next to a quote that was written by one of my commenters (who wasn't named). Nothing I wrote was quoted, but there was my name. Fortunately, it wasn't a despicable quote, but it's a little scary to think how that would be read by most people, especially if they don't think about the relationship between the blogger and the commenters (which is that I'm providing a forum and policing only some undefined outer limit). And I initially misread it as quoting me, throughout the whole time I was writing a long post dissecting the article (not concentrating on that part of it). What does the casual reader think? Probably that it's what I said.

richard mcenroe said...

Come on, guys. The extremists are Kos' stock in trade. They're the sourse of his netroots money and they're the chisel he uses to shape the Democratic Party line to his liking.

When you look at the screaming, angry, Anti-Semitic posters of Daily Kos, you are looking at his vision of the Democratic Party. Chew it slowly.

Brian O'Connell said...

The co-founder of AirAmerica Radio thinks left-wing anti-semitic posts are a plot by Karl Rove:

"So my conclusion is that the bloggers who violently hate Israel and see it in black and white terms are not really liberals. They may even be anti-Semites, but they are not representative of the liberal community that was so active in achieving racial and ethnic equality. It is a contradiction for a true liberal to be an anti-Semite. Furthermore, I would not put it past the right wing to flood the liberal blogs with hateful criticisms of Israel to advance a perception that liberals are anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. And I see Karl Rove's fingerprints all over this."

That sounds sane.

ronbo said...

Mary: "Who's to say that savvy players cannot help manipulate the discussion by saying things that can then be incorrectly attributed to their opponents?"

If I had a widely read, increasingly influential blog that was being hijacked by my opponents, I would be screaming from every (virtual) rooftop. Even if I had decided at first to opt out of the issue, I would not remain silent if my blog were being unfairly represented as a platform for hateful and destructive views. I guess that's why Kos has so vehemently distanced himself from his commenters. Oh, wait, he hasn't.

"Also, I think it's quite legit to criticize Israel's strategies over these past days without being painted as an anti-Semite."

Absolutely. What sets people off is isn't criticsm of Israel per se. Rather, it's holding Israel to a higher standard than its neighbors, coupled with a moral equivalency that fails (or refuses) to distinguish between Hezbollah's targeting of civilians and Israel's attempts to avoid civilian casualties despite Hezbollah's tactic of hiding weapons and fighters among civilian populations.

lterak: Lebanon tried ending raids and killing - but couldn't do it alone

KCFleming said...

Whther or not Kos's commenters are anti-semitic is relatively less important than the fact that Kos hasn't addressed such a huge story.

Why? The most they can construct is the idea that we should "Work and pray for peace." Wow, man, that's deep.

Not rank anti-Semitism but a lack of concrete ideas is present. What precisely should Israel do when Iran and Syria fund the kidnapping of their soldiers? They simply lack anything useful to say. The commenters are just moronic anti-Zionists whose agenda won't garner wide acceptance in America, and can therefore be dismissed (and condemned).

Sloanasaurus said...

"...I think the idea of Mr. Bush's grand plan for the region, Iraq and Lebanon included, has died prematurely in these latest bombings, destroying what had been built...."

Mary, I don't get your point. If Hezbollah is the largest problem to a full fledged Lebanese democracy, the elimination of Hezbollah can only help.

Establishing democracy does not equal immediate peace. Most democracies are established after a considerable period of violence as the prior regimes must be put down.

George Bush's vision of arab democracy is alive and well. It all begins and ends with Iraq, the arab nation with the most potential power in the region. If Iraq's democracy survives, then the region will inevitably drift towards democracy.

Barry said...

Quoting commenters and "diarists" is a slippery slope, and we on the Right had better be careful when we cast stones.

Yes, the Kossacks have some nutjobs in their number.

Has anyone taken a dive into the comments section at Little Green Footballs lately? (shudder) Just as the Weekly Standard can deconstruct Kos on this basis, imagine what The Nation or Mother Jones could do with LGF.

Derve Swanson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Simon said...

Surprisingly enough, I agree with some of what Mary has said thusfar. I think there is a bizarre reflex in some quarters - principally on my side of the aisle, admittedly - of failure to distinguish between Judaism, Zionism and the day-to-day policies of the presently-constituted state of Israel. It does not necessarily follow that opposition to Israel's policies is opposition to that state's existence (i.e. anti-zionism) or hostility to Jews (i.e. anti-semitism) - although, to be sure, many of those who oppose Israel's policies do so as a politically-correct surrogate to hide their anti-zionism or anti-semitism. Judaism is a religious and cultural belief; Zionism is a political belief; and in any event, even if they were so intimately connected as to be indistinguishable, that would make no difference as to whether one can criticize Israel. It would be like saying that you can't criticize the Soviet Union without criticizing communism as a theory - most of the saner socialists I've met will rejoin the argument that socialism failed in practise by arguing that the Soviet Union was never a socialist state in the first place, and they will criticize that system with the best of them. Likewise, not everyone on the left who rejects George Bush's America necessarily rejects the capitalist system. I see no contradiction between embracing the animating spirit that willed a state into existence and criticizing the policy choices it subsequently makes.

However, I must add that my position on this rond of violence is different to that which I have previously maintained; I have previously been very sympathetic to the Palestinian situation for a number of years, but I think this latest round of violence has largely been brought on themselves. Moreover, despite the talk about Lebanon being "caught in the crossfire" in a war fought between Israel and Hizballah and Hamas who are acting as surrogates for Syria and Iran, it bears noting that Hizballah participates in Lebanese elections (winning 18% of the seats in the last election) and is a coalition partner in the government ("Hezbollah has two ministers in the [Lebanese] government, and a third is endorsed by the group"). At the very least, it can be fairly said that Lebanon can be said to be harboring Hizballah, it may even be said to be giving it material support, and in any event, it certainly meets the threshold question for the "we will not distinguish between terrorists and those who harbor them" rule. Usually, I take the view that it is an exceptionally weak argument that one must have a better alternative in mind before criticizing, but I think this is the kind of imminent and practical problem which demands suspension of that rule, and so I think that before anyone's criticism of Israel's actions in the present context are taken seriously, they should present their alternative. Let's hear how they would be handling the situation if they ran Israel.

I recently got into an argument online with someone who said that this is all Israel's fault because Israel has been attacking its neighbours since its inception. Perplexed, I pointed out that such a statement is totally backwards: quite literally the moment it accounced its existence (the Israeli declaration of independence), Israel's arab neighbous invaded it to strangle the new state at birth, and thereafter, Israel has been subject to attacks from its neighbours in 1956, 1967 and 1973, and has been subject to an ongoing attack by surrogates ever since. Aha, said my interlocutor (and I quote): "The declaration of independence for israel was the start of the whole conflict. The foundation of a racist state lead to the [Arab attacks] your quoting up there." I suppose that if you define Israel's mere existence as "attacking" its Arab neighbours, then it becomes fair - albeit tautological - to say that Israel has been attacking its neighbours since its inception (i.e. "it has existed since it existed, thus it has attacked its neighbours since it existed). But this makes all too plain the left's solution to the Palestine problem: they would simply abolish Israel, since (at least in this professed worldview) there is no way for it to exist without being in a state of perpetually attacking its neighbours.Shorn of its disguise, the argument essentially comes back to the standard lefty canard of "it's all Israel's fault" - which, freestanding, is far less impressive than they might think. I think it's abundantly clear that many of those who are opposing Israel's present activities would basically resolve the problem by willing that state out of existence, and so if everyone who criticized the Israeli actions now was required to first explain how they'd resolve the problem, we'd at least quickly find out who can and can't be taken seriously.

I agree that anomynity is a problem on blogs, but as I've mentioned before, my solution to that problem is simply to do away with anomynity in blogs by deploying IPv6 in sucha way that each person has their own subnet registered to them in a publicly-available database, and modify blogging software so comments simply display the real name of the writer. No anomynity, no problem. I continue to be of the general view that anything you wouldn't say in public in your own voice shouldn't be written on the internet.

Brian O'Connell said...

Overreacting to so-called "civilian" casualties is "playing right into the terrorists' game". The media have done a terrible job here. Nearly all Hezbollah can be called civilians, and many news items rely on that. When a civilian is killed, do reporters investigate how that person may have been involved with Hezbolah? I haven't seen it.

Here's an article on the topic by Alan Dershowitz

T.K. Tortch said...

I do condemn terrorists who live amongst civilians, and wish we could go back to the days of gentlemanly armies who had to see the man they killed.

But see, that just makes Israel's job harder here. It does not give them carte blanche to kill children and families in their homes, and on the roads fleeing for their lives.

Mary, this sounds like you've capitulated to Hezbollah's modus operandi while holding Israel to a higher standard. You wish we could go back to more "gentlemanly" ways of war while expecting Israel to be more "gentlemanly"!!!

Which is exactly what Hezbollah wants from you. Their tactics involve using underhanded methods-- like hiding behind civilians and posing as civilians. The whole point of doing that is to Hamstring Israel. It makes it hard for Israel to strike at them without killing civilians, too. Because they know Israel (and the rest of the civilized world, and you, Mary) actually cares about that kind of thing, while they don't. They're terrorists. They want more civilians dead. It helps them.

It looks like you've recognized that Hezbollah holds Lebanon hostage, and rewarded them for it.

Also, I think you may be generally underemphasizing the threat Hezbollah represents. After all, they've been regularly lobbing lobbing Katyushas into Israel (at civilian targets) for years now. Further, it's becoming clear from the fighting in the last couple of days that they're more like an army that uses terrorist tactics than a terrorist group. They're well trained and well equipped.

Which poses some real problems for the "Cedar Revolution" because I doubt the Lebanese army could disarm them, even if it really wanted to.

KCFleming said...

What the left cannot do is identify any reasonable approach to the repeated attacks by Islamofascists (heck, they can't even say the word without gagging). No concrete proposals at all, except that the US and Israel are not judged as are other nations in their responses, but held to another loftier standard, one that cannot be satisfied.

And Mary should read Amir Taheri's piece on Iran's plan for ME control via Hezbollah. It explains precislely "why now?" and has little to do with Israeli motives.

And judging a website by its commenters is like judging a magazine by its letters to the editor.

Judith said...

What's funny about this is that these guys constantly castigate Charles Johnson for LGF comments, saying he is responsible for them and should be policing his threads, even if he didn't write them. They call LGF racist based on the comments, even though as a rule they are milder than Kos's diaries and comments.

Now the shoe is on the other foot.

aaron said...
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Brian O'Connell said...

"Eventually, Israel will need coooperation from the Lebanese people to defeat Hezbollah. That's the shame -- it was happening as the country prospered."

It was? How many Israeli deaths are acceptable between then and whenever that was going to get done?

"Little charred remains of babies."

Some Hezbollah fighters are killed in their homes with their entire families. Since Hezbollah doesn't show up in Hezbollah uniforms at Hezbollah bases, I support this.

aaron said...

Mary is funny.

I condemn her for that.

Lonesome Payne said...

Probably someone has already pointed this out, but Kos is not "about" Kos's opinions. I frankly don't know or care what Kos thinks. It's about the community, as emblematic of the most emotional and committed left-leaners.

So that doesn't solve the issue as to whether comments like these are significant. It means you have to judge how widespread the awful or politically problematic stuff is.

KCFleming said...

Mary, those aren't answers for dealing with Hezbollah lobbing rockets into Israel. Your comment assumes that Hezbollah admits Israel has a right to exist, and merely wants its grievances addressed. It wants Israel driven into the sea, nothing less.

So what then is the proper response to such a demand?

Derve Swanson said...

Same answer, pogo.
Begin at the beginning.

KCFleming said...

Re: "Begin at the beginning."

That's no answer at all. What should they be doing while being shelled? What negotiation is possible with people who baldly state your country should be wiped off the face of the earth?

You are unserious and give ridiculous advice.

Sloanasaurus said...

"....When you look at the numbers though, Israel in Lebanon and the U.S. in Iraq has killed more civilians than all the terrorist acts combined. For what? To build stability?..."

This is one of the most ignorant statements I have read on this blog in a long time. Terrorism destroys civilized socities which leads to uncountable deaths and destruction.

Your idea that in a prior age war was more gentlmanly is completely ridiculous. The concept of avoiding civilian casualties is a concept, which is why the strategy of using civilians as "human shields" is also modern. In a prior age, the civilians were just ignored. If they were in the way they were killed, if not they were spared.

Hezbollah are responsible for every civilian death in Lebanon

Simon said...

Brian -
In my view, after his contemptible behavior after Chief Justice Rehnquist's death, nothing that Alan Dershowitz says about anything - no matter how much one might agree with him on the instant point - should be taken seriously. I will not read him, I will not cite him, I will not quote him. He should be treated as if he never existed.

Charlie Martin said...

I merely ask the question,
Is this military action effective and justifiable? Should America be rushing more bombs to the area to help our side "win"?


Richard Dolan said...

The problem the Kossacs are having with the Israeli-Hezbollah war point out an interesting distinction that several prior commenters have mentioned briefly. The distinction lies in the fact that Daily Kos has morphed from an ordinary blog and today seeks to be a political player in the Dem party. It's become something of a "permanent campaign" unto itself and has jumped into various races (e.g. the Leiberman-Lamont primary), and has set up an annual convetion to which Dem bigwigs come to pay homage, etc. To justify that effort to influence the Dem party, and to get the more traditional power centers in the Dem party to pay attention, Kos necessarily holds himself out as the leader of the many thousands of supposedly likeminded registered commenters on his site. All of which makes Kos "responsible" in a political sense for the views of his commenters, in the same way a politician is sometimes held responsible for the more extreme views of some campaign contributor. In the latter example, a politician running for office often faces a demand that he denounce or otherwise disavow the views of a contributor. Because of his ambiguous position -- part blogger, part political operative -- Kos is coming in for the same treatment, and for the same reason.

As far as I am aware, there is nothing directly comparable among the many libertarian/right of center blogs. Charles Johnson of LGF does not hold himself out as a political power broker in the Rep party, to say nothing of Ann (a registered Dem at that), Glenn Reynolds or any of the other sites typically thought of as libertarian/centrist. The only comparable site on the right to Kos that comes to mind is RedState, which has been trying to come up with a conservative blog that wields influence among Rep officeholders. RedState has a few Rep congressman that regularly contribute. But I don't think that site has been particularly as a political powerbroker -- certainly nothing like the success that Kos has had among the Dems.

Ann notes that "There's a lot of discussion about how much comments are seen or should be seen as what the blog is about." It would be quite unfair, indeed a bit foolish, to confuse any comments on this site with "what [Ann's] blog is about." But the reason is that Ann isn't using her blog to create an overtly political movement of likeminded partisans, with the announced intention of influencing a particular political party. Kos is doing all of that, and thus the comments on the Daily Kos are, in an important sense, exactly "what his blog is all about" even if Kos himself would reject the views reflected in many of them.

Charlie Martin said...

The thing about the Kos kidz comments is not that Markos himself should be held responsible for the content of each one, and in any case if Markos were the anti-semite here we could just dismiss him as a crank. The issue is the number of anti-semitic, anti-Israel commenters there are.

Given that Kos presents itself as the voice of the netroots, it's not inappropriate to connect it's commenters, not with markos, but with the netroots.

Brian O'Connell said...

"Begin at the beginning."

That's it! Cliches will solve this crisis. But more seriously, as others have pointed out, there is no negotiating with people whose aim to destroy you. The destruction of Israel is Hezbollah's goal, and they've stated this enough times that there's no excuse for anyone not to realize it.

Simon: Fair enough. The point he makes however is that the western distinction between civilian and military breaks down in this situation. This isn't Israel's fault- it's Hezbollah's.

Ronnie Schreiber said...


I guess it all started when he hit me back.

You will always hold Israel to a different standard.

Hezbollah does not recognize any difference between Jewish Israeli soldiers and Jewish Israeli civilians (Nasrallah's comments about the Arab boys killed in Nazareth make clear that Hez's goal is killing Jews). Hezbollah's supporters make no distinction between themselves and Hezbollah. If they believe themselves to be Hezbollah, I say oblige them and send them to meet Allah.

If I actively aid and assist a combatant, allow him refuge in my home and store his weapons there, if my children get killed, it's my fault, not my enemy's.

John said...

"When will the stability, and independence, come?"

Unfortunately, it may not come until one side is completely defeated - and no longer in a position to cause harm. That may mean: no longer exists.

Now the question is: Who should win? Do you want the group who has struggled for centuries to merely be allowed to exist? Or would you prefer the group who has decided that they cannot allow the other group to exist? Or do we just "begin at the beginning?"

BTW - I don't see where other comments suggest that no civilians are being killed (or that they are only Lebanese or Israeli). Fewer would die if the group who targets them would quit!

Bruce Hayden said...

Our U.N. Ambassador, John Bolton, recently spoke on the crisis in Lebanon, and I think he answered Mary's suggestion that we negotiate rather well:

"Ambassador Bolton: Well look, I think we could have a cessation of hostilities immediately if Hezbollah would stop terrorizing innocent civilians and give up the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. So that to the extent this crisis continues, the cause is Hezbollah. How you get a ceasefire between one entity, which is a government of a democratically elected state on the one hand, and another entity on the other which is a terrorist gang, no one has yet explained. The government of Israel, everybody says, has the right to exercise the right of self-defense, which even if there are criticisms of Israeli actions by some, they recognize the fundamental right to self-defense. That’s a legitimate right. Are there any activities that Hezbollah engages in, militarily that are legitimate? I don’t think so. All of it’s activities are terrorist and all of them are illegitimate, so I don’t see the balance or the parallelism between the two sides and therefore I think it’s a very fundamental question: how a terrorist group agrees to a ceasefire. You know in a democratically elected government, the theory is that the people ultimately can hold the government accountable when it does something and doesn’t live up to it. How do you hold a terrorist group accountable? Who runs the terrorist group? Who makes the commitment that a terrorist group will abide by a ceasefire? What does a terrorist group think a ceasefire is? These are - you can use the words “cessation of hostilities” or “truce” or ‘ceasefire”. Nobody has yet explained how a terrorist group and a democratic state come to a mutual ceasefire.

BJK said...

I don't read Kos, and am unabashedly Republican, so feel free to take this with a grain of salt, but...

Does this issue alter anyone else's perspective of the Blogosphere's Left Hemisphere attempting to throw out the most-prominent Jewish member of Congress (and a former Vice Presidential candidate)?

jukeboxgrad said...

Barnett's claim is utterly, pathetically lame.

Since the Hezbollah kidnapping, roughly 2,400 diaries and 50-100,000 comments have been posted at dKos.

Surely buried in that vast sea of text Barnett and his lgf pals could find an impressive amount of shocking material, right? But they didn't. Barnett cited three diaries. He didn't bother mentioning that two of the three (link, link) managed, together, to earn a grand total of only 30 recommendations (one has to login as a dKos user to see that). In other words, at a site that gets almost half-a-million hits a day, virtually no one thought those diaries were worth noticing.

The other diary ("The Difference Between Them and Them") cited by Barnett did indeed get a lot of attention (almost 400 recommendations), and as a result earned a spot on the list of so-called High Impact Diaries for that week. Of course, ranking only a few spots below was a highly-recommended pro-Israel diary ("I am a Jew").

Kos participants display a range of opinions on this topic, and with relatively few exceptions those opinions are no more extreme than those expressed by many in Israel (link, link).

As a Jew, I believe in open discussion and diversity of opinion. I also believe in those things as a Democrat. I assume Barnett is neither, and therefore I guess I shouldn't be surprised that he lives in a world of lockstep authoritarianism, where a willingness to criticize one's self or one's friends is viewed as an act of weakness or treason.

Speaking of authoritarianism, it's no surprise that most leading righty blogs allow no comments.

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem at Kos is that the left doesn't know how to respond to the crisis in Lebanon. The terrorists instigated this, and they continue it by continuing to lob a lot of missles into Isreal. They haven't released the soldiers yet either.

The problem is that it is a liberal canard that Isreal is illegitimate in the way that it defends itself. But here, it doesn't appear to have any choice. Any backing off would be seen as a victory by Hezbollah and its patrons, Syria and Iran. It would just embolden them to do this more - a lot more.

The problem is that they know that Israel is right here, but won't admit it. A lot of the rest of the world does too - it has been fascinating to watch the Moslem world studiously, for the first time, not line up in support of an attack on Israel.

Eugene said...

Let's put "civilian casualties" in context, hearkening back to our last "good war." From the Japan Times (registration required):


"Okinawa on Friday (23 June) marked the 61st anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa between Japanese and U.S. forces, during which more than 200,000 people, mostly civilians, lost their lives in the closing stage of World War II . . . . In the battle, more than a quarter of Okinawa's 450,000 inhabitants perished, many of whom were reportedly killed by Japanese soldiers to prevent intelligence leaks, or pressured to commit mass murder-suicides with grenades."

After the war, Okinawans by and large held the Japanese Army--and Hirohito--responsible for the carnage, despite U.S. bombing and artillery that destroyed 90 percent of the island's infrastructure. The battle, in turn, cost 72,000 U.S. casualties (12,500 dead/MIA) in the space of three months.

As for "the days of gentlemanly armies who had to see the man they killed," during the Rwandan Genocide, between 800,000 and a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed with machetes and small arms. "Seeing the man they killed" was the whole point. I would not wish for more of this kind of warfare.

jukeboxgrad said...

bjk: "the Blogosphere's Left Hemisphere attempting to throw out the most-prominent Jewish member of Congress"

Feel free to ignore the fact that at dKos, the first choice for president, by a wide margin, happens to be a Jew.

"I don't read Kos"

That's a smart move, assuming you want to avoid the discomfort of cognitive dissonance (what happens when your preconceived notions collide with actual facts).

John said...

"I don't have a dog in this fight. Really. If this is the only way a group can survive, painting the other as less than human, let them fight it out ... independent of other non-players. Really. Let your boys and girls get their fill of fighting back, of killing, and raising their children in cages. Personally, not the life I'd choose to work for, but different groups have different values, different roles to play, afterall."

For someone "without a dog in the fight", there's seems to be a lot of "fight in the dog"!

Just out of curiosity, which group are you referring to when you say they are "painting the other as less than human"?

KCFleming said...

Mary, I see lots of your comments on why Israel is wrong. Not much of the same against Hezbollah having started this round, I note as well.

What would you recommend they do the next time Hezbollah lands a rocket in a shopping mall? And why is Bolton wrong here? I agree with him fully.

And please no more of that 'begin from the beginning' vague sort of nonsense. You're not Chauncey Gardner.

John said...

"If you can't let your neighbors live in peace, without the sonic booms, without the harassing checkpoints which allow essentially no exports out, you might get terrorism."

As long as we're "throwing punches", while you're reading those newspapers from the region, how often do they report that an Israeli suicide bomber walked into a deli in Beirut and took out as many Lebanese as they could?

Where is the peace?

KCFleming said...

Re: "See I don't get that."

I think I understand you better. You are using the language of 'crimes' when addressing the suicide bombings.Wrong. They are coordintated attacks. This is a war, one going on for decades. Bolton has the best response thus far. You haven't done better than he has in defining the problem.

Who would be 'tried' in a suicide attack anyway? How do you target terrorists who are using their families as human shields, demanding those civililians be spared the fate they have inflicted on other civilians? Where are your demands that Hezbollah stop immediately and withdraw from attacking civilians as targets (as opposed to as collateral damage, as is the case with Israel vis a vis Hezbollah?

jukeboxgrad said...

Fenrisulven: "This is same 'liberal' community that opposed the liberation of Afganistan and Iraq"

Nice job inventing nonsense. In the period following the invasion of Afghanistan, Bush had the highest approval ratings (not just of his presidency, but of any presidency): in the vicinity of 88%.

So much for the idea that the "liberal" community didn't support the invasion of Afghanistan.

Let me know how you're sure the other 12% wasn't wingnuts who were mad that he didn't start with nukes.

John said...

"If a Jewish man walked into my local deli and blew himself up, killing my baby, it would be ok for me to drop bombs on his neighborhood and kill people who had nothing to do with the deli incident, just because I'm paying back someone in the same "class"?

A bit of a leap, but let's work with it. My point is - as others have commented - this conflict goes both ways. BUT not equally.

I'm not an expert in Middle Eastern history. You suggested we "begin with the beginning". Define the "beginning". Recent history (last few thousand years or so), suggest that the Jews have been far more oppressed, than the other groups in the region (slavery, holocaust, et al). The other groups have had their share of conflicts over the same period, primarily between tribal and religious sects. However. I have yet to hear the Jewish state of Israel, formally pronounce that any group, state, country or religion, should be cast in to the sea and all their people obliterated.

So, if your baby is killed (your thought, not mine) by the suicide bomber, how long do you wait to take action? What is your action? (sorry to use the macho term "action")

Derve Swanson said...
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John said...

"If America was not such a staunch supporter, would Israel be acting so boldly?"

No. They'd be cast in the sea where they belong and there'd be peace in the Middle East!

Except for that Sunni/Shi'ite mess and maybe the Iran/Saudi thing...

John said...

"Maybe that's the difference between me and you. I don't see the purpose in killing the dead bomber's mother or family, or destroying their home.

I've never advocated the killing of innocent people. Now who's the "silly rabbit"?

However, as Pogo commented, terrorism should not be treated as a crime. It is a strategic act of war. While you wait years for "justice", they just move on. They don't care who you are or what you had - as long as they achieve their goal.

"Why not carve out a slice of defeated German territory for the Jewish homeland? What role did the Arab world play in WWII? "

Huh? Is that your "beginning"? The 1930's? We need to travel back a little further to get to the beginning of a Jewish homeland.

Derve Swanson said...
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John said...

"...instead use our intelligence to develop alternate energy sources so that America would not be so dependent on intervention in foreign governments?"

So. It really is the US' fault! If only we had electric cars and no industry, all those innocent civilians would still be alive!

Close the borders, turn out the lights. The US quits. And peace can finally be achieved!

Derve Swanson said...
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John said...

Mary. Did I hit a nerve? I guess your new reference to me beats "silly rabbit"!

"America does not need Israel the way Israel needs America. You have doubts?"

No doubts at all. America has a long history of protecting freedom and democracy and standing up to tyranny and oppression. I'm comfortable that we are willing to live up to those principles and defend them beyond our shores - because we can. Not for our benefit alone.

Ann Althouse said...

Mary: As I wrote on another post just now:

You know, I'm incredibly pissed off at Mary for writing private things about my family that she thinks she's gleaned from my ex-husband's overly confessional blog. Mary, you don't seem to realize that Richard has sons by his second wife, and in any event, it's outrageous to import private material from his blog over here where it is not the topic.

So, I must say, I am fed up with you. You are not permitted to comment over here anymore, even to respond to this post. I will regard any further comments by you as harassment.

For the rest of you, Mary is someone who is known to me.


That's it. Go find something else to do.

Derve Swanson said...
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Ann Althouse said...

I can't believe Mary posted again, deliberately doing the exact thing I said I regarded as harassment. I'm not here to delete your posts, Mary. I'm requiring you not to post.

You are a former student of mine, and you are a fool to embarrass yourself here like this. I expect you to stop now. I hope you realize that
I could simply reveal your full name, which would be damaging to you, considering that it will be easily found on a Google search.

Find something else to do.

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jukeboxgrad said...


I think I'll take the bold step of straying back toward the original topic.

Since the Hezbollah kidnapping, millions of words have been posted on dKos, by thousands of people. Barnett and his pals at lgf discovered that some of those words are harshly critical of current Israeli policy. Meanwhile, it's quite easy in Ha'Aretz, for example, to find words that are harshly critical of current Israeli policy, even though Ha'Aretz, unlike dKos, contains no words that are not approved by an editor. (Multiple examples are cited in my earlier comment.)

Barnett considers this a fair basis to make the following sweeping claim: "the conversation in the diaries has been overwhelmingly anti-Israel," as if he had considered a remotely meaningful sample, and as if there is no distinction between criticizing a policy and being "anti-Israel."

Then you quote this approvingly and suggest that Barnett's reasoning is "very crisply outlined."

All this speaks for itself, but one question remains. If Barnett's 'argument' meets your standards for "very crisply outlined," then under what conditions would you ever describe an argument as bogus and half-assed?

Ann Althouse said...

Jukeboxgrad: I said "This is a very crisply outlined manifestation of a broader problem faced by Kos." I'm sympathizing with the problem of the blogger who is connected to what goes on in the comments. I'm not saying the Weekly Standard piece is crispy reasoned. Actually, I'm saying it's pretty soggy. You can criticize Kos for steering clear of the problematic topic, but it's not fair to dredge up the nastiest comment in amongst the thousands. I think I said that in the original post. I certainly meant to.

Jack Steiner said...

Obviously this is a highly emotional topic, but it is hard not to feel strongly.

I haven't any problem with saying that I am pro-Israel. I have friends and family there and know people who were murdered in suicide bombings.

It is very easy to paint Israel as the aggressor in a David and Goliath kind of way, but it is also incredibly simplistic and naive.

One of the things that has always bothered me about the war is that you rarely see the Israeli victims of a bombing.

You almost always just see the weeping relatives on the other side.

If you click on this link you can see footage from several bombings.

It is very graphic, but if you watch it you will begin to understand better why Israel is so aggressive in its response.

Those that choose to use indiscriminate slaughter as a political tool must be fought.

jukeboxgrad said...


Thanks for your quick response.

I think there are two separate issues here, and you're not keeping them separate, and that's a problem.

Consider the following assertions:

A) Markos is somehow responsible for what all his commenters say, even though he runs the biggest political blog in the world, getting half-a-million hits per day

B) the conversation in the [Kos] diaries has been overwhelmingly anti-Israel

Barnett didn't assert A, although in my opinion he implied it. On the other hand, he explicitly asserted B. Needless to say, A and B are quite different statements.

In your original post, I have a hard time finding any clue that you object to B. In your update, you suggest that you object to A, but I find scant clue there that you object to B.

In my opinion, objecting to A isn't very helpful. I think most people who know how to spell the word blog comprehend that A is absurd (I realize HaloJonesFan is in another category). In other words, I think it's no accident that Barnett's chief explicit assertion was B, not A.

It's only in your very recent comment that you get to what is, in my opinion, the heart of the matter: "it's not fair to dredge up the nastiest comment in amongst the thousands." In my opinion, this is a clear and appopropriate challenge to Barnett's undocumented assertion ("the conversation in the diaries has been overwhelmingly anti-Israel"). However, I don't think it's correct to claim you "said that in the original post." If you did say it, it was far from clear, at least to me.

Nevertheless, since you say you meant to say it, I'm glad the point's been clarified.

"What does the casual reader think?"

Maybe you don't see the irony here. You point out correctly that a "casual reader" is easily misled in this sort of situation (when a comment quoted out-of-context can have the effect of unfairly disparaging the host and the entire site). But in quoting Barnett approvingly, and in only belatedly confronting the core of his illogic, you are abetting him in his quite shameless effort to mislead the "casual reader."

jukeboxgrad said...

ndc: "You really find Kos more 'fact' driven than other blogs?"

Misinformation can be found everywhere, but what I find remarkable about places like Power Line and Captain's Quarters (just to pick a couple of convenient examples) is the refusal to run corrections even when (or especially when) material misstatements have been brought to their attention.

This has been well-documented by a variety of people, including me personally. I'd be glad to point you toward the proof, but I also want to be respectful of the topic of this thread.

Anyway, I was making a specific point about bjk, who proudly proclaimed "I don't read Kos" at the exact moment he was spouting blatant misinformation about Kos.

"the idea that Kos is more grounded in fact seems a little goofy to me"

Any enterprise that embodies the collective unedited work of thousands of people is going to contain errors and misinformation. This is obviously true of the blogosphere as a whole (and, for that matter, of Wikipedia, to pick a relevant comparison). However, Kos has distinctive characteristics (e.g., the system for rating diaries and comments, and the ability to trace the history of every participant) which make it possible for a savvy reader to separate trustworthy information from untrustworthy information. And obviously there's nothing as good as checking primary sources, directly. Sometimes that's necessary.

On the other hand, with the leading righty blogs I have learned (the hard way) that it is unwise to trust anything I read there, unless I have personally verified the underlying facts. This is simply a result of encountering a large number of statements that are revealed, after personal investigation, to be pure baloney.

"The points of disagreement aren't usually about the facts, it seems to me: they're about motives, theorectical positions, interpretations of history, what course of action to take in the future, but rarely about facts."

It's true that blogs are full of talk about all sorts of things you mention ("motives ... "). But ultimately there has to be some connection to factual reality. And what I find over and over again is that a certain class of person (like Barnett, in this case) is utterly shameless about making up their own facts ("the conversation in the diaries has been overwhelmingly anti-Israel").

Please note that this assertion of his was not in the area of "motives, theorectical positions, interpretations of history, what course of action to take in the future." It was an assertion of fact.

"it assumed that their readers agree ... with what the blogger says"

Sorry, but I don't accept the basic premise, which is fundamentally authoritarian. Kos is full of all sorts of people who deeply disagree (with each other and with Kos) about all sorts of things.

"bloggers can appropriately be held somewhat responsible for the general tone and content of the majority of posts"

That idea becomes kind of silly when you're talking about a blog that hosts thousands of new comments per day.

Aside from that, Kos does have a fairly effective ecology of self-policing. This is obvious to anyone who actually pays attention there, but not obvious to anyone who is content to be taken in by a few quotes cherry-picked by someone like Barnett.

"No blogger should be held responsible for any one particular post by another person, but if Kos weren't viewed a leading the community, would the blog have the influence it does?"

Non sequitur alert. The fact that dKos is influential does not constitute proof that Markos "should be held responsible" for what folks say there. On the contrary. It is probably the case that the diversity and independence he encourages (within certain very broad and highly rational limits) is a major success factor.

"Doesn't it seem to you that Israil is a big enought topic to take on directly?"

Kos hosts almost 300 new diaries per day, and the vast majority are not written by Markos, needless to say (or by the small group of so-called front-page posters who assist him). This diversity and volume is an essential aspect of what make Kos unique and successful.

It is simply wrong to suggest that Kos (the site, not the person) is ignoring the subject of Israel. If you do the relevant search there, you'll discover that in the last two weeks, there have been almost 800 stories and diaries mentioning Israel.

In the same period, the number of comments mentioning Israel is almost 15,000.

This underlines the extreme silliness and dishonesty of Barnett's argument, that he has fairly summarized this vast body of material in the handful of sentences he cherry-picked.

It also underlines the silliness of the idea that dKos (the site, not the person) hasn't done enough to "take on" this issue. There is reason to believe that there has been more discussion of this issue at dKos than in the whole rest of the blogosphere, combined (especially if the analysis is weighted by discussion readers, and not just discussion contributors).

jukeboxgrad said...

Fenrisulven: "A generic approval poll as evidence that the Left was on board in Afganistan?"

Exactly, because "approval" and "on board" are, for the purpose of this discussion, precisely synonymous.

"This was post 9-11. Bush could have invaded Florida and maintained 88%."

That's probably true, but that's not the point. Nice job trying to change the subject, though.

You didn't make the following claim: "the left was on board, but only because of 9/11." This is the claim you made (paraphrase): "the left wasn't on board." Trouble is, the left was indeed on board. In fact, 88% of the country was on board. That's as close to unanimous as you're ever likely to see in any public opinion poll. So the left was on board, the right was on board, and everyone in-between was on-board.

"Who's inventing nonsense?"

You are, because you made a false claim, and I proved it. Speaking of proof, here's the amount of proof you've offered in support of your claim: none.

"The fact of the matter is that the Left has adopted the Pali cause as one of their own."

You are practicing misdirection, which means trying to change the subject instead of taking responsibility for your false claim. This tells me everything i need to know about your integrity, or lack of same.

"That post is not an abberation"

Nice job creating more of your own facts. Funny how you didn't bother providing a link to the quote you cited. Maybe you were concerned that readers here who clicked on that link would be able to see for themselves that the reaction to what you quoted was overwhelmingly negative.

Anyway, nice job doing exactly what our host condemned. As she said: "it's not fair to dredge up the nastiest comment in amongst the thousands."

"didn't Kos have to ban 9-11 conspiracy threads"

The fact is that any site getting half-a-million hits a day is likely to attract a certain number of people who are inclined to make things up. Ann's infinitely smaller site obviously has the same problem. It's to Kos's credit that there is a serious effort made to encourage fiction writers to go somewhere else (you wouldn't be welcome there, in other words). But nice job taking a positive and trying to spin it as a negative. Keep trying.

"Translation: 'CQ and Powerline ignore my emails [no doubt as to why]. I'd show you proof, but uhm...' "

Nice job making unwarranted assumptions. I didn't claim they ignored my emails. They didn't ignore my emails. What they failed to do is make corrections.

"Thats a cowardly attack. If you have evidence to discredit your opposition, post it."

You are paying no attention whatsoever to my style if you think I'm the kind of person who would make a claim that I wasn't prepared to prove. That describes you, not me.

I already did post evidence, a long time ago, and if you had done some extremely minimal searching at Kos, you would already know that. A good place to start, more specifically, is here.

"why are you trying to draw equivalance to RW sites anyway"

Because it's quite remarkable how they routinely get away with making things up (as Barnett did, and as you do). This tells me something about the nature of their readership.

" 'They're worse' is not a defense of Kos, its an admission of guilt."

If I had said "Kos is bad, but Power Line is worse," it's true that that would be some kind of an admission of guilt. But I didn't say that, or anything close to that. Nice job trying to put words in my mouth.

jukeboxgrad said...

HaloJones: "thanks for insulting me!"

I insulted you because you said something ("I consider bloggers who allow comments responsible for the content of those comments") silly. If you're in a position to argue convincingly it's not silly, I'll promptly apologize.

"I see this as saying that Kos has started a party that he can't control."

What you don't get is that it's not about "control" (although I realize that rightys tend to be authoritarians who view the world in those terms). Markos isn't trying to "control" dKos (except within certain very broad common-sense parameters).

"if two kids are drinking in the back of my house"

Trouble is, a house is not a blog and a kid is not a blog commenter. Your analogy is simply too remote to be useful here, in my opinion.

"Which [the idea that there is effective self-policing] --again--just makes it more appropriate for someone to take comments as representative"

I agree with the basic logic of this point, but your logic is about to go off the rails.

"you've just stated that abusive or non-welcome comments will be removed!"

I most definitely did not state that. You simply chose to interpret "self-policing" that way. "Self-policing" most definitely does not mean that all "abusive or non-welcome comments will be removed." It simply means that the larger group responds in various ways (via ratings and comments) to indicate its approval or disapproval.

If you pay attention to the item cited by Fenrisulven, you'll see a good example.

It's true that "self-policing" sometimes means invoking various mechanisms which have the effect of removing or hiding offensive material. But usually it means something more moderate than that.

"Therefore, whatever's left has been approved, if only by default."

Again, if you look at the specific example cited by Fenrisulven, what you'll see is that the remark triggered a substantial amount of disapproval. In other words, "has been approved" is essentially the opposite of what actually happened.

Comparisons are often made between Kos and LGF. The fact is that both places are large, and therefore it's inevitable that a certain amount (at least) of hate speech is going to pop up. At Kos, what you will notice is that there is almost always a quick and emphatic reaction (not necessarily to delete, but at least to express disapproval). At LGF, what I see over and over again is rampant hate speech where the rest of the group either cheers, or sits on their hands.