Monday, October 24, 2011

Credit Default Swap

If you were wondering how Glenn Greenwald was going to figure out a way to not give an ounce of credit to the Obama Administration for fulfilling the progressive dream of pulling all American troops out of Iraq, oh boy are you not gonna be disappointed.

The answer is so flawless in its Greenwaldian-ness that it borders on self-parody.

Apparently, not only does President Obama not deserve any recognition for effectively ending the war -- the guy who was truly behind the pullout, the one the government doesn't really want, is (of course) American martyr Bradley Manning.

You know something? I'm not even linking to the piece. It's over at Salon -- feel free to find it yourself.


Matt said...

I wonder if Greenwald has any clue that he is basically the same as Beck, Limbaugh, etc. He may say he's on the left, but he seems to be doing everything he can to undermine and shorten President Obama's time in office.

Ducky said...

How the hell can you end a war from inside a 8 by 10? He's not Nelson fucking Mandela.

Voja said...

For someone who finds Greenwald so unbearable you sure can't shut up about him. It's getting to the point where I can finish his latest piece and come here seconds later to see the inevitable smirking reaction. Content free, of course.

Read the piece. Even if you don't buy his ultimate argument it brings up some worthwhile issues.

Chez said...

I suppose everyone needs his or her White Whale, Voja. Taibbi has Brooks and Friedman, I have Greenwald. And for the record: I guess that makes us even, seeing as how I read something that I feel is relatively positive for the U.S. or this administration and then count the seconds before the shitty little passive-aggressive tweet from Greenwald appears declaring, "I don't want to ruin anyone's celebration but (insert predictably dubious claim here)."

Peter L. Winkler said...

Obama didn't end the war in Iraq. He complied with the agreement that was made by Bush and Nouri-al Maliki during the waning days of the Bush administration. Even the official statement from Obama's press secretary acknowledges this.

Furthermore, Obama did not want to withdraw all US troops from Iraq. He only did so when the current Iraqi goverment refused to grant immunity from prosecution by Iraqi authorities for crimes US soldiers might commit there.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps doth protesteth too much, Chez. A man crush maybe? You know that all Cap'n Ahab ever really wanted was to cuddle with his white whale ;)
Btw, I don't agree with everything GG says but jeez dude he's a little right about the hypocrisy in praising and cheering along a withdrawal that wasn't the intended outcome. And then pretending that that's what Pres. O wanted all along. It just smacks of cheerleading for the simple purpose of saying "go team!" No matter what the facts are.

Chez said...

Except there were those not in the Obama administration pushing to ignore the original Bush deadline -- the one that basically handed off the issue to the next president. What's more, while I won't argue that there were concerns as to whether U.S. soldiers would be able to be prosecuted by the new Iraqi government, I still find it amusing that the end result is something most progressives have longed for and yet there are the usual suspects among the pissy left who refuse to allow him to take even a thimble full of credit for closing out the war. If you don't think there wasn't a way to keep troops in Iraq if we'd wanted to badly enough, you're nuts.

Chez said...

I don't have a team, Anon. I obviously have said this before, so if it's gotten old, I apologize but I feel like this kind of thing needs to be pointed out as often as possible: One of the things that bugs me most about Greenwald is precisely that he's a very smart guy and yet he writes about, what, four subjects? It's the U.S. sucks, Obama's a dictator, Wikileaks rules and Bradley Manning is the greatest American patriot of the last century (I'm pretty sure his exact words). By this point I should just laugh it off, and that fact that I do most of the time and yet still manage to comment on examples of it quite a bit should tell you just how often Greenwald rants about this shit (now with 37 new updates!) Admittedly I've had to concentrate on politics a little more than I'd like lately because it's easy and I'm very busy -- but for God's sake, I do my best not to be a fucking broken record. Yeah, I complain about the far-left, but I also write about as many different topics as I can -- all Greenwald knows is how to be a pious, passive-aggressive political drama queen, and it's made him quite a bit of money and allowed him to live happily outside of the country.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, Greenwald, Sirota et al write almost the same thing in every column. The "Obama isn't liberal enough" meme is tired.

These people are allegedly intelligent and have some understanding of how governing works,yet they still tear down POTUS at every turn.

The sad part is that if god forbid a crazy eyed, batshit spewing psychopath from the right wins in 2011, these same people tearing down Obama will write dozens of columns asking why could such a thing happen?

Anonymous said...

Excerpt from GG's new book:

"The past decade has witnessed the most severe crimes imaginable by political and financial elites: the construction of a worldwide torture regime, domestic spying perpetrated jointly by the government and the telecom industry without the warrants required by the criminal law, an aggressive war waged on another country that killed hundreds of thousands of people, massive financial fraud that came close to collapsing the world economy and which destroyed the economic security of tens of millions, and systematic foreclosure fraud that, by design, bombarded courts with fraudulent documents in order to seize homes without legal entitlement. These are not bad policies or mere immoral acts. They are plainly criminal, and yet – due to the precepts of elite immunity which were first explicitly embraced during Ford’s pardon of Nixon — none of those crimes has produced legal punishments."

Yeah nothing to see here folks. Instead we should focus on the infantile yuckiness of GG's delivery and prima donna presence. It's all about the messenger. Don't look back, look forward. We are the realistic adults in the room who know what is reasonable and feasible. It's just plain silly. Look, you and Cesca can delude yourselves that NOT critiquing our empire and what it's unapologietic leaders do, but you can't deny the facts. And whether you like it or not Obama is a war president that has expanded our military presence, for "good" (see bankers/corporate interests and the meager trickle down benefits to the masses, no financial prosecutions or war crimes investigations) and for ill (there will be blowback, more erosions of our civil liberties, less privacy, larger numbers of citizens incarcerated and extra judicial assassinations---what an awesome slippery slope and all under a "progressive" president).

Me thinks that you should get rethink your blindingly stupid stance on the messenger and realize that it's not America hating to cop to the fact that we are now the Empire, and not the Rebel forces our mythology likes to make us to be(see Star Wars).

Have a great day!

Chez said...

Oh, you really haven't been reading me for very long have you -- because you're missing the point entirely. I'm not the least bit deluded as to what the United States does, even to the fact that we are -- yes -- an empire. I simply don't particularly care. At least not about a vast swath of the issues that I can tell you allow to keep you up at night. This isn't simply a case of not liking Greenwald because he's a pompous ass, which he is.

I was furious that Obama didn't prosecute the Wall Street barons who gang-raped the global economy -- and I was even more furious that he handed them back the keys to the kingdom. I've made that abundantly clear over and over again. I also would like to have seen him not be so quick to allow Bush, Cheney et al get away with what they got away with.

But no, while the president should of course be scrutinized for his decisions, so far I think many of them have been pretty decent -- and that includes ones that Greenwald finds reprehensible: ordering military intervention in Libya that eventually led to the death, however horrific, of Gaddafi, and the taking out of both Bin Laden and Anwar Al Aulaqi (and sorry, but I'm not working up a lot of sympathy for the last of the three, regardless of the amount of pious indignation that spews from Greenwald's keyboard in Brazil).

I dislike Greenwald because it's ludicrous to not give this president any credit for the advancement of progressive causes and policy simply because there are a few things he's done which you don't happen to like; it's likewise to ridiculous to shoot any hope for the advancement of progressive causes squarely in the foot by constantly hectoring Obama as some kind of tyrannical war criminal irrespective of political reality. In other words, demand accountability, yes, but be smart about it -- and Greenwald/Hamsher etc are anything but; they're simply whining because Obama didn't deliver some kind of Progressitopia, which he didn't promise to begin with.

But again, it's not about them anyway -- it's about the fact that I actually agree with many of the president's policies. Not all of them, certainly, but quite a few. That and, yes, I understand very, very well what the alternative is -- the electable alternative in this country.

Anonymous said...

From Tomdispatch (

---"What if, last Friday, President Obama had stepped to the podium at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room and begun his remarks this way: “Good afternoon, everybody. As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end -- for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world. After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011. Today, I’m here to tell you that I’m breaking that pledge. It will not happen. Instead, I’m leaving 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. troops in that country indefinitely.”

Of course, the president made no such claim (nor, if things had turned out differently in Iraq, would he have done so). Nonetheless, according to news reports, such an outcome -- thousands of American troops in Iraq, possibly for years -- was the administration’s first choice, while military commanders were evidently eager to leave tens of thousands of troops behind. It was the outcome that Washington had been negotiating for and lobbying Iraqi politicians about all year. Because the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to give U.S. troops legal immunity, full withdrawal (with the possibility of reinsertion later) became the administration's default position, and President Obama was left to take unreserved credit for fulfilling an election campaign pledge to bring all U.S. troops home by the end of 2011, the outcome he hadn’t wanted. (“Today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year...”) Keep this in mind as well: given the State Department’s militarization there -- it plans to run a mercenary “army” of perhaps 5,000 hired guns from its monster Baghdad embassy in 2012 -- and a recent, little-noted statement by Iraqi cleric and American opponent Muqtada al-Sadr, the American war will not necessarily end next year either.----

Yeah, Obama deserves credit for prevaricating on this withdrawal non-withdrawal. Orwell couldn't have been more right, double-speak is alive and well. Oh yeah, fuck the Constitution and our laws. All government named terrorists should be exterminated regardless of evidence (or lack thereof), because I say so. So there.

Chez said...

You really don't get political reality, do you? Jesus, I'm so tired of having to argue the same thing over and over again.

Chez said...

And one more time for the cheap seats: Sorry -- don't care one bit about Al Aulaqi. Not saying I blindly trust the government on every little thing, but I can't work up even an ounce of sympathy for him.

Anonymous said...

Chez, you love to defer to your perceived political reality and NOT critique and deny credit where it is undeserved. Kind of like telling your kid, "well you didn't mean well, and you lied about your intentions, and the facts, but in the end it doesn't really matter how you got there. Way to go champ!" You seem to want excuse politicians (that you like) by always falling back on the premise that stipulates that he had no other options politically. That's change you can believe in. You really don't get it apparently since your infantile attitudes about truth telling are layered with the oh so sanguine perceptions about political reality that you seem to believe are universal truths and that you are in sole possession of said truths. I just hope that you and your family (and mine) don't suffer from too many people thinking that O is all that he could be without our constant vigilance and criticism. Because until OWS came along, O was still on the austerity train with his plans for a Grand Bargain. Imagine what kind of shit storm we'd be in if we simply accepted "that political reality" and the Grand Bargain had been made into law. Also, Obama didn't deflect or avoid that perception at the time, he actively steered into it; he was only diverted due to the absolute shit economy and insane republicans who irrationally hate Obama, and wouldn't give him the Grover Norquist wet dream that he proposed, because he's not a republican (or because he's black) even though he governs much like one (war and finance mainly); and of course the political reality changer, those dirty hippies in Zucotti Square. But you know, political realities and all that bullshit.

Btw, I'm not asking you to care about Awlaki or even sympathize with him or his family. Let's play a little mind experiment, shall we? Let's pretend that Awlaki is my son or daughter (I have one of each by the way). Do you think that even if I suspect that he or she is guilty that I don't want to at least see the evidence that justifies his or her assassination? Wouldn't you? See it's not a matter of like or dislike, or deserving or undeserving. We have these limitations in place supposedly to avoid tragic decisions NOT based on real facts and judicial decisions. When a CONSTITUTIONAL lawyer ignores this fundamental rule, then we're all fucked. There is a very clear distinction about caring about someone and understanding that if we waive our rights under the constitution, we may all pay for that one day, or maybe or children or our neighbor or on and on..........get it now? It's not about Awlaki, it's about our values and rights, and not about how little you care about someone's death by fragmenting exothermic reaction that shreds, smashes and concusses other innocent humans that get in its way. Drone on and GO TEAM!

Ducky said...

So, against my will, I read the piece. I stand by my original statement. And, until I am presented with more evidence, I call bullshit on the whole "Wikileaks caused the Spring Uprising" meme. If the Arabs wanted to know who was fucking them over, all they had to do was cross town and look at the palaces that were home to their leaders. The fact that the CIA propped up dictators around the world was the worst kept secret in this country. Those leaks might have added fuel to the fire, but I doubt they were the straw that broke the camels back.

Of a more amusing note, wasn't Brazil one of the countries that was guilty of hiding Nazi war criminals? I wonder how much sleep Greenwald loses over that...

Chez said...

First of all, Anonymous -- you obviously have passionate beliefs and a brain to back them up, so it would be nice if you'd give yourself an identity as well.

I've never said, not even once, that criticizing Obama is off-limits. The issue I've had is with those who claim to be progressive-minded but who constantly criticize him. He's let me down on occasion as well, but regardless of whether you want to admit it there is an inarguable political reality to consider -- and that's that his opponents, the ones you so casually write off as insanely demonizing him from the far-right, would be so much worse in the White House as to be unthinkable. Again, not saying you don't push him -- and I'm absolutely giving credit where credit is due when it comes to the work across the spectrum of OWS, which I support wholeheartedly -- I'm saying that to approach this president as if he's not at all a progressive and doesn't in large part support progressive policy is absurd. That's the issue that I've had with those on the left who rake him over the coals ad nauseam: their flat-out claim that Obama isn't a progressive, a claim they make simply because he hasn't espoused left-wing policy across the board and in the face of considerations that would stymie even the hardest core liberal in his position.

As for Al Aulaqi, I understand your point but you and I will differ on this and obviously go to our graves doing so. My thoughts are that I saw enough independent reporting on the matter to make me believe that he had left the country to wage war on it, and that's exactly what he was doing. I don't believe it's incumbent upon the military or the government to release the details of every single operation they undertake to keep this country safe. Before you even say it, I realize you'll happily call me a dupe for this -- and I can deal with that. As I said, you and I just see this differently. Is our foreign policy reprehensible on occasion and do we reap what we sow? Yup. If you join the enemy overseas trying to kill your countrymen is it fair to kill you? Again, yup.

Anonymous said...

Your responses/writings and passion are refreshing and thought provoking even when I don't agree with them. And the intelligent, snarky and (usually) well reasoned arguments (your's and other commenters) are what keeps me coming back. DEM is my interwebs crack. Thanks for indulging me and responding. My name is David. I'll be back and not as Anon.

Chez said...

Thank you, David. Appreciate that and certainly appreciate the debate.

Gary said...

"I've never said, not even once, that criticizing Obama is off-limits. The issue I've had is with those who claim to be progressive-minded but who constantly criticize him."

Well, Chez, herein lies the massive logical fallacy that several of the commenters here have called you out on. You say that you don't care for those who "claim to be progressive-minded," yet, continuously criticize President Obama. Are you suggesting that Glenn Greenwald, a former civil rights and constitutional lawyer, who constantly reinforces in writing his belief in civil liberties and the rule of law, is not a progressive? You seem to be suggesting that being a progressive entails not only holding liberal viewpoints, but also deference to leaders whose agendas bely their stated progressive bona fides. Yes, Obama has done quite a few good things. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the healthcare reform come to mind. However, with respect to the War on Terror, which continues to increase its hold on our foreign policy and domestic law enforcement agendas, Obama has expanded the power of the President in a frighteningly Bush-like manner. Glenn's beef over the killing of al-Awlaki has absolutely nothing to do with sympathy. Rather, it has to do with the fact that an American citizen was killed without due process, because the government thinks he's a terrorist. Even the most cursory readings of his work on the subject make that incredibly obvious.

We have this thing called the rule of law, which is supposed to guarantee a fair trial before the dispersal of punishment. The government's justification of the murder goes as such: "Well, we had to kill Awlaki because, as a terrorist, he forfeits all the rights of citizens. Why is he a terrorist? Because we fucking said so!" This is the sort of circular argument that most media outlets, such as the New York Times and the Huffington Post tend to take at face value. Meanwhile, there was no attempt to indict him, and the memos that provide legal justification for the killing have not been released. If the government thought he was engaged in terrorist activity, he should have been indicted, tried, and convicted, THEN punished. It's not like that even would have been difficult; there are numerous laws that make it illegal to even associate with terrorists, much less to be one. Awlaki's death, of course, becomes more egregious in the context of Campaign Obama's repeated stated commitments to civil rights and the rule of law, especially with respect to the power of the executive office. The unlawful discrimination against Latinos and detention of immigrants under Secure Communities and the imprisonment and torture of Bradley Manning are two other examples of breaches of this commitment. And, Chez, if you consider yourself a journalist and commentator, why don't you care about what the U.S. is running around the world doing in your name?

I think people often use the word "criticize" and "critique" incorrectly. The critique is involved in pointing out existing flaws, but it is also deeply invested in the possibilities of any given situation. You, and many other Obama supporters, deflect criticism by asserting that he's better than the electable alternative. This assumes that there IS only one electable alternative. What Glenn, and, say, Amy Goodman or Laura Flanders or David Sirota and other journalists are trying to do is to hold the government accountable for what it does by making that information available in its proper context to all citizens. Isn't that, like, one of the most important things journalists do?

Chez said...

Thank you right off the bat for running down Greenwald's ostensibly impressive CV for me, Gary. I'm aware of his credentials as a civil rights and constitutional lawyer, and I guess what I'd be curious to know is, do you believe that those qualities make him a progressive -- a better progressive than most, even?

I'm not suggesting that espousing the basics of any particular political slant means that you have to robotically back those candidates and leaders who've aligned themselves with that slant, at least in theory. There's a name for people like that: Republicans. I'm saying that, in the case of Greenwald, there seems to be a pathological disregard for the potential damage to the country that could result from never giving an ounce of credit to a leader who does in fact share many of your beliefs and goals. Of course Greenwald doesn't believe that Obama is in any way a true progressive -- he doesn't think he shares the belief system of progressives -- simply because he doesn't meet the impeccably high standard that Greenwald himself has deemed he must meet in order to be legitimate. And what does Greenwald take upon himself to do about that? He hammers -- as a matter of practice. The Ledbetter Act you mentioned? He didn't write about that. He doesn't write about one fucking thing the administration or government deserves praise for. He literally equates President Barack Obama with a tyrannical dictator, not simply on one or two subjects he happens to disagree with but across the board -- and that's just absurd. That alone should render his opinion worthless and that's why I regularly ridicule him: because his routine has become just that: routine, shtick.

And where exactly did you get that I'm deflecting criticism from Obama? I'm not, and I've said that over and over again to the point where I'm blue in the face. Your lengthy comment even acknowledged as much. There's a difference between trying to hold someone accountable in an intelligent way -- occasionally through harshly worded constructive criticism -- and consistently raking someone over the coals 24/7 the way the high-profile left has done with Obama. What's more, when you make a career out of doing that kind of thing, it's not beyond the pale to actually, yes, question your motives and wonder whether they are in fact self-serving. And at the end of the day, again, there is a harsh political reality to consider. You can argue all you'd like, but at the moment there really is only one brand of electable alternative -- and to blithely disregard it is a kind of suicide on a national level.

Chez said...

As for Al-Aulaqi, exactly how many times can I say this? I just don't care. It doesn't matter to me one bit whether you feel that I'm succumbing to the worst kind of logical fallacy and thumbing my nose at the constitutional law of which Glenn Greenwald is the standard-bearer. I've written about this over and over again and therefore I'm reluctant to repeat it again, and yet I will for what I hope is the last time: From every single thing that I read and saw, every independent report from every kind of global news outlet, Al-Aulaqi was in fact a threat to his countrymen and had left the country for the sole purpose of declaring war on it, and that means he forfeits his rights. Period. He doesn't get an indictment -- he gets captured or shot. I will not mourn his death the same way I will not mourn the deaths of Bin Laden or Gaddafi. I won't lose one second of sleep over whether or not they were dealt with in a manner concordant with the laws that might otherwise apply. And before anyone accuses me of hypocrisy, please let it be known that I felt the exact same way when George W. Bush was president. I felt that much of the behavior Bush engaged in was egregious and certainly wasn't necessary since he started a war in a country we didn't need to be in in the first place, but I've always believed that there are military operations that happen during a time of war that I absolutely am not entitled to know about. And I think that it is, in fact, a ludicrous leap of logic to make the claim that because Anwar Al-Aulaqi was killed by the United States, suddenly each and every one of us has to fear a drone attack or the arrival of a presidentially approved hit squad, as Greenwald has screamed up and down and backward and forward.

Incidentally, you're obviously a really smart guy and I appreciate the comment -- but please, never again under any circumstances refer to David Sirota as a journalist in the same breath as Goodman or Flanders. I may not always agree with either of the latter, but Sirota is a petulant, self-important hack who, if you deprived him of the attention he seeks so desperately by making relentlessly stupid statements at regular intervals, would probably shrivel up and die.

Chez said...

By the way, that's it -- I'm out on this thread. I've been over this shit way too often. I welcome debate, but at this point everyone, including me, is sounding like a broken record. You love Greenwald and think he's Horatius at the Bridge, good for you. I think he's a pompous asshole.