Blinded by the Right


Guilty confession time: I once really respected Glenn Greenwald. I thought he was doing admirable work defending civil liberties, although as I saw more and more of the Libertarian Greenwald, it was getting kind of ugly there. I can salve my conscience a little bit, though, in that David Neiwert also liked some of his work. One can be easily misled if you try to interpret him charitably.

So I was surprised in a good way by much of what I began reading at Greenwald’s blog, Unclaimed Territory, in fall of 2005. It was smart, thoughtful, and quite insightful about what he rightly saw as an executive power grab in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. I began citing it favorably at my own blog, Orcinus, which at that point was also pretty well established (I opened shop there in January 2003).

Hey, me too! Greenwald made a few positive comments about my work, and also follows me on Twitter (although probably not for long). There’s a lot to like about him. There are also lots of hints in his past that there is much to dislike as well. Now Neiwert has compiled a long and thoroughly documented and factual summary of how Greenwald’s libertarian zealotry does harm. Neiwert has all the receipts, and he lays them out, starting with a history of the emerging racist hate groups in the 1950s, through Greenwald’s rise to prominence as one of their most righteous defenders.

I just believe his sort of principled rigidity on free-speech issues blinds him to the real-world effects of fascism—particularly how it manipulates free-speech principles in order to destroy them. Fascists use people like Greenwald to leave a trail of wreckage.

It’s not about whether or not he’s racist—which, after all, would indeed make the whole issue one of guilt by association. That’s not the point of all this. No, this is a question of judgment: If you’re so short-sighted that you can’t see how your ethical choices wind up enabling harmful behavior, then exactly how astute is your judgment in any event?

It’s not guilt by association, it’s the guilt of association: People in responsible mainstream positions who lend legitimacy to people from far-right hate groups—whether Klansmen, skinheads, neo-Nazis, or militiamen—are exercising profoundly poor judgment. Lending them that legitimacy not only normalizes them, it empowers them. It helps fuel the twisted psychology of the far right that inevitably, like a law of physics itself, produces violent horrors and ruptured communities. Ask the folks in Billings, or in Illinois.

It’s an excellent history lesson, but also a solid argument against the multitudes of alt-righters who even now claim they are honest defenders of free speech rights…yet somehow, they always end up aiding the most deplorable, awful people, while overlooking the good people who could use some free speech too, as they get trampled by the rising fascist tide.

Where is Greenwald now? Sadly, he’s doing just that, rushing to the side of Tucker Carlson to claim the white nationalist threat is non-existent, and helping to silence those who oppose it.

More recently, of course, he has appeared frequently on Fox News with Tucker Carlson. Carlson’s record of promoting white-nationalist causes and ideas clearly doesn’t bother Greenwald. In the process, of course, he has become exactly what he once derided caustically: a “Fox News liberal,” one whose appearance on the network is mainly used to help forward right-wing talking points and destroy the left. He’s now a Useful Tool.

And now he is defending his fellow faux progressives as they join Carlson in his campaign to minimize and defend fascist white nationalism as Not Really A Problem.

David Neiwert has earned a lot of trust as a journalist for his careful journalism. Greenwald, sadly, has betrayed it.

Comments

  1. raven says

    Right-Wing Extremism Linked to Every 2018 Extremist Murder in the …

    https://www.adl.org/…/right-wing-extremism-linked-to-every-2018-extremist-murder-…
    Jan 23, 2019 – Extremism, Terrorism & Bigotry … Right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 extremist-related murders in the United States in … In its annual report on extremist-related killings in the U.S., the ADL’s Center on Extremism …

    Terrorists murdered 50 people last year in the USA.
    All 50 (100%) of those terrorist murders were by right wing/fundie xian terrorists!!!
    Some of those included white supremacists such as the guy who shot up the San Diego synagogue.

    Greenwald the journalist, doesn’t care about simple facts you can look up on Google in a few seconds.

  2. raven says

    The Guardian
    The FBI says hate crimes reports were up about 17% in 2017, marking a rise for the third year in a row, even though violent crime in America fell slightly overall. Crimes of antisemitism led the spike.

    An annual report from the US federal government released on Tuesday shows there were more than 7,100 reported hate crimes last year. There were increases in attacks motivated by racial bias, religious bias and because of a victim’s sexual orientation.

    The report shows there was a nearly 23% increase in religion-based hate crimes. There was a 37% spike in anti-Jewish hate crimes.

    Hate crimes are going up.
    Most of these are by right wingnuts/fundie xians towards nonwhites, Muslims, Jews, and LBGT’s.

    Greenwald the journalist doesn’t care about facts.
    Not impressed.

  3. stroppy says

    Yeah, I respected him too, and over the years he has shown up on a lot of left leaning blog rolls as well.

    I didn’t follow him too closely, but when I noticed that he seemed to be drifting into the black hole of Russian agitprop, my reaction to him was “later for you sucker.”

  4. thirdmill301 says

    Raven, how are hate crimes a free speech issue? There’s a huge difference between saying that someone should be free to advocate for bad things, versus saying people should be free to actually do bad things. And I don’t see advocating for free speech as lending legitimacy to hate groups — one can say BOTH that hate groups have the right to speak AND ALSO that their speech is vile, despicable and contemptible.

  5. doubtthat says

    Few things:

    -Working through the articles, so maybe he touches on this later, but if we’re not including the official government sponsored horrors on the border in our list of white nationalist motivated crimes, we’re skipping over a real big one.
    -As bad as Greenwald has been, that Tracey dude is amazingly worse. I feel no sense of loss because I never respected Tracey, but holy shit, that guy is out of control.
    -Tracey, Greenwald, and Taibbi and others have been all in on the Russia-Trump situation being a hoax, more or less like Trump claims. I responded to a Taibbi tweet a while back with something like, “My man, what are you talking about?” and he DM’d me directly to make his case. It was really a strange encounter and I’m still not sure I understand why they are so invested. After the Barr letter but before the Mueller Report, I listed to Tracey gloat on Sam Sedar’s show and read Greenwald doing an “I told you so tour,” even though Greenwald is smart enough to know damn well Barr was lying.
    I’m having a difficult time reconciling all of this behavior. I feel like there’s more going, but it’s hard to get at it without conjuring stupid conspiracy theories.

  6. stroppy says

    I don’t know, but I suspect that it’s partly residue from the 60s and the turbulent confection of the times over the USSR. Churning knee-jerk ideology…

  7. PaulBC says

    My view on Greenwald was that he was completely right in his opposition to Bush’s wars and a valuable voice at the time. I disagree with him strongly when he minimizes the significance of Russian interference in the 2016 election. It happened, and it really is a threat–whether it was effective is besides the point, though I think it was a contributing factor. I really don’t see why this is so difficult for Greenwald to acknowledge. And these views get picked up by Sanders supporters who often strike me as unwitting dupes in the effort to clear the Trump 2016 campaign.

  8. clevehicks says

    I think Greenwald is absolutely right that the obsession with Russian meddling (which even if true is small potatoes compared to what Bolton and Pompeo are doing right now to Venezuela and what the US does to other countries at the drop of a hat) is causing us to ignore the actual reasons why rightwingers keep winning in the US. It is always easier to blame the Russians than to look in the mirror. Although I do think he overlooks one of those reasons: massive voter fraud by Republicans. For that, go to Greg Palast.

  9. clevehicks says

    Much though I can understand Myers’ and Neiwert’s unease with Greenwald’s appearances on Fox News and his downplaying of racism as a serious menace in the US under Trump, I nevertheless think we owe the man a lot for his courageous reporting on the Snowden documents, his hard-hitting reporting on the Bolsonaro scandals in Brazil, his speaking out for Marielle Franco and many other crucial works of journalism. We can’t expect anyone to be everyone for everybody, and surely we can celebrate the postive things a person has done for the world while objecting some of their flaws. In others words, no need to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  10. PaulBC says

    @clevehicks

    I think Greenwald is absolutely right that the obsession with Russian meddling (which even if true is small potatoes compared to what Bolton and Pompeo are doing right now to Venezuela and what the US does to other countries at the drop of a hat) is causing us to ignore the actual reasons why rightwingers keep winning in the US.

    I think this is a subtle conflation. I agree that Russian interference is not the main reason why Trump won or why rightwingers win in general. But it is still bizarre to act as if foreign interference in elections is somehow normal and not important enough to address.

    Certainly way too much hope was hung on the Mueller report in terms of undermining Trump. I always cringed at the stupid facebook memes showing Mueller putting Trump in prison. “Collusion” is also not even the main problem with Trump or Mitch McConnell (who is a much bigger threat). But what would it take to get Glenn Greenwald to come out and say, “No, it is not normal to have a foreign power promulgating counterfeit news reports on social media, and this is a real issue that must be addressed.” That’s all I ask and his reluctance to agree with this just makes me suspect his motives.

  11. PaulBC says

    I would add that I am sympathetic to Greenwald’s view that the last thing we need is a “new Cold War.” If criticism of the Putin government turns into suspicion of Russians as a whole, we’ve taken an huge step backwards. But there is no reason you can’t demand that Putin stop interfering with US elections without having it bleed over into antipathy towards Russia or its people.

  12. clevehicks says

    Right, agreed… but then, why aren’t we more concerned about Saudi and Israeli influences on our political system? Which as far as I can see it are vastly disproportional to anything Russia may (or may not) have done. Our priorities are way out of whack.

  13. PaulBC says

    I think there’s a huge difference between essentially open influence by Saudi and Israeli lobbies and surreptitious social media attacks from troll farms. Not that I support the former in any way.

    Anyway, yes, I have seen exactly that comparison made. It is part of the standard leftwing talking points and I believe it plays into Trumps hands. At this point, I’m almost beyond caring. Stick a fork in US democracy. It’s done.

  14. PaulBC says

    I think in 2020, I may follow the logic of the far left to its obvious conclusion. Since there is no essential difference between Trump and whatever awful mainstream Democratic candidate is on the general election ballot, I will just go ahead and vote for Trump. I know I really want to, right?

  15. whywhywhy says

    #16 PaulBC
    Could you give an example of a person who has stated that there is no difference between Trump and a Dem candidate for President? Who do you believe is a typical voice of the far left?

  16. whywhywhy says

    #5

    Two words: ‘modern propaganda’. Not your daddy’s Oldsmobile.

    Is it your grandmother’s oldsmobile then? Since Olds has been a defunct brand for almost a generation now.

  17. PaulBC says

    Could you give an example of a person who has stated that there is no difference between Trump and a Dem candidate for President? Who do you believe is a typical voice of the far left?

    Yeah, my sister-in-law on facebook. I am not sure if she is “typical” but she’s a big Bernie Sanders supporter and absolutely hated Hillary Clinton. I am pretty certain she is not the only one since most of what she posts comes from other sources (e.g. Jacobin). I have pointed out to her that even Noam Chomsky agreed it would have been better if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 election, and she kind of side-stepped around this point without addressing it. She may have conceded that if she hadn’t lived in a safe state she would consider voting for the Democratic nominee.

    Sorry, but I’m really angry about the 2016 election. I have less of a gripe with those (and they do exist) who sincerely think there is no difference between Republican and Democratic control of government (this position is less tenable now, but it was a popular view among Nader voters in 2000). I am extremely angry at people who actually prefer the Democratic nominee to win but can’t dirty themselves by actually voting for them. 2020 Seems very close to playing out the same way.

  18. PaulBC says

    @whywhywhy
    Hot off the press. Typical of the facebook links I consider “typical” of the far left. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/05/01/biden-sides-trump-bolton-and-pompeo-backing-coup-effort-venezuela?utm_campaign=shareaholic&fbclid=IwAR07uPNyjlKJFZ8vlrkVcWwG96d2Kn0O_lwGtIWLXNS2OuShXiqVbl4iBxc
    “Biden Sides With Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo in Backing Coup Effort in Venezuela”

    Yes, they’re all the same. Therefore the fact that I would consider voting for Biden means I really want to vote for Trump. So I’ll just vote for Trump.

  19. stroppy says

    #18

    ?

    It’s a reference to the gist of a vintage commercial. Perhaps not common but it’s basically a figure of speech the way it gets referenced. Aannny waaaay….

    It’s not your daddy’s Olds
    it’s your oligarch’s Rolls.

    Everybody’s got free speech, the rich just have a whole lot more of it to work with…

  20. whywhywhy says

    #21 Stroppy,
    I am familiar with the saying and just thought that using it now was funny since we only have our Dad’s Oldsmobiles or older these days. (Poor delivery of the attempted joke is on me.)

  21. stroppy says

    22

    No worries, it’s early for me and I’m not fully awake. Still working on my first round of caffein infusions. With that and some prunes and hopefully I’ll start to function.
    :-)

    (For example, this is my fourth time trying to type this comment.)

  22. whywhywhy says

    PaulBC,
    Thanks for the additional information. I guess, I see the key issue of the 2016 fiasco as the following in order of importance:
    1) Dems failed to get decent turnout in three cities Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee;
    2) Billions in free on air time from Cable news for Trump;
    3) A fraction of the population wanted ‘change’ and the Clinton campaign spent too much effort running as the stable candidate in contrast to Trump to peal off moderate Republicans (2016 was the wrong year to do this, moderate Republicans already were fleeing and it only decreased excitement among potential Dem voters);
    4) Shenanigans: voter repression by Republicans, Russian efforts, and Comey’s announcement, 5) left leaning folks not voting or voting 3rd party.

    I can understand the how grating folks can be who are on the left and say that there is no difference between Trump and (fill in centrist Dem). Dem candidates themselves feed this as well (see point 3). But I place your concern of lefty’s not voting for the Dem candidate last because in comparing 2008 to 2016, Sander’s supporters voted for Clinton in 2016 at higher rates than Clinton supporters voted for Obama in 2008. Significantly address any of the other 4 itmes and Trump would not have won. I agree that the problem you describe exists, I just don’t think it is the most critical for removing Trump in 2020. Hopefully, the Dem candidate can do a better job of getting out the vote in key districts or else we are screwed.

  23. pilgham says

    There are a lot of RW commentators I enjoy reading, (OK, three) who are entertaining, although quite insane. Fortunately you can skip that stuff and ignore their biases. Greenwald wasn’t one of them. He was a mendacious little toad from whenever it was I became aware of him. Just because he might say something I agreed with, it was mere coincidence, the case of a stopped clock showing the right time. Still and all I’m sorry he’s dead.

  24. PaulBC says

    3) A fraction of the population wanted ‘change’ and the Clinton campaign spent too much effort running as the stable candidate in contrast to Trump to peal off moderate Republicans

    I agree, though I will say that from my vantage point in the SF Bay Area, the “change” thing made no sense. I saw the key issue of 2016 as a defensive play to keep the GOP from consolidating power and provide some breathing space–breathing space that would have been just as useful for progressives as more run of the mill liberals. I did not want “change”. I did not think it was the right year for a revolution, not a leftward one anyway. That’s where I’m angry. The Sanders campaign was driven by magical thinking. A candidate who can’t win the nomination is not a viable candidate, and even if it was “rigged” the Sanders campaign did not have a viable plan to address the “rigged primaries”.

    Hillary Clinton did herself no favors by touting support from Henry Kissinger and widely advertising that she did not need rustbelt voters and would “replace” them with suburban Republicans. It is interesting that Orange County went Democratic for the first time in decades. In any part of California, it just looked like a completely different election from the rest of the country.

    I agree with your point about turnout in urban centers of the states Trump marginally won. I actually never thought about it in those terms. Maybe it really wouldn’t take all that much to turn the tide. But I don’t see a lot of strategic thinking going on except by the people I don’t want in office. The GOP runs circles around Democrats, and it’s not because we’re “better than that”. It’s because we have no party discipline.

  25. raven says

    @4
    Raven, how are hate crimes a free speech issue?

    I didn’t say they were.

    There is never just one cockroach.
    Greenwald has many problems.

    From the OP
    “And now he (Greenwald) is defending his fellow faux progressives as they join Carlson in his campaign to minimize and defend fascist white nationalism as Not Really A Problem.”
    That is a huge problem, both in itself and Greenwald’s reaction to it..
    We have Nazis and white racists rioting in the streets and killing people.
    It’s now almost all of our day to day domestic terrorism problem and hate crimes problem.

    Unless you don’t think shooting up synagogues and torching mosques are a problem.

  26. clevehicks says

    It is possible Greenwald is underestimating the threat of white nationalists and fascists in the US, but then again, he probably has his hands full fighting fascism (at great risk, I would remind you all) where he lives in Brazil.

  27. says

    @PaulBC:

    A candidate who can’t win the nomination is not a viable candidate, and even if it was “rigged” the Sanders campaign did not have a viable plan to address the “rigged primaries”.

    Not to discredit Sanders’ argument that the democratic presidential primary was “rigged” (I don’t know enough to know if it’s true or not, but I’d be FAR from surprised if it were true and would consider “not true” to be mildly unexpected), but it’s worth noting that the Dems ran no candidates in their own primaries for Senate in Vermont during at least one (I think it was 2) election cycle where Sanders was standing for re-election. The Dem establishment foreclosing any possibility of a democrat getting the democratic nomination while Sanders is in the race would seem to perfectly fit the definition of “rigged primary”. It is, therefore, odd that Sanders would have outrage that the Democratic primaries are functioning in exactly the way that they were functioning in Vermont all those years when he didn’t seem to fin anything wrong with it.

    But wishing for a better messenger on the anti-democratic nature of both major political parties in the US is not at all saying that Sanders is wrong. I think that when he calls for truly democratic primaries he’s absolutely in the right.

    That digression complete, I have literally zero respect for Greenwald’s public policy and political opinions. As a lawyer, he’s taken some positions I agree with and some I’m not equipped to judge. I like that he takes as hard a line on government censorship as he does. Even if I wouldn’t draw the lines in exactly the same place as Greenwald, Shrub’s “Free Speech Zones” and other trends in US political discourse and legal policies absolutely required a strong pushback and he was there. But his characterizations of the Muller investigation as unjustified and dangerous are themselves dangerous. Even more than his bullshit about how the right wing citizen groups pose no threat to society and/or rule of law are not as dangerous as his reckless defenses of Trump.

    Greenwald is doing so much harm, I truly wish that media outlets would simply stop interviewing him. Giving his voice greater volume is not helpful.

  28. gnokgnoh says

    @clevehicks. David Neiwert’s critique is not simply that Greenwald underestimates the threat of white nationalists or fascists in the U.S. His critique is more complex including questioning his judgment, his past and present ethical choices, and his tendency to lend legitimacy to right-wing personalities and organizations.

    I was fascinated by Greenwald’s strident advocacy of Matt Hale that went beyond legal representation. To quote, “”I find that the people behind these lawsuits are truly so odious and repugnant, that creates its own motivation for me.” He has rehearsed these two words, odious and repugnant, for decades. He uses them in debate all the time. Greenwald is a strong First Amendment advocate and has written many times that the best remedy to hate speech is more, good speech. The difference between the ACLU and Greenwald, though, is that the ACLU does not demonize those that disagree with them, even in lawsuits. In fact, the ACLU is happy to openly state that bad actors (e.g. Ku Klux Klan) that it may choose to defend are “odious and repugnant.”

    Neiwert’s article was an eye-opener for me. I did not know much about Greenwald’s past as a lawyer, nor did I understand why he despises the U.S. court system so much.

  29. clevehicks says

    I don’t like Greenwald’s use of ‘odious and repugnant’ in that case…he overdoes his rhetoric at times. Yet I admire him for mounting a vigorous defence that even Nazis and KKK have a right to free speech. And he may legitimately think that those who would not grant those groups free speech are odious and repugnant. At least he is clear in his words and you know where he stands.Think of all the great things Greenwald has done: the Snowden papers, exposing Bolsonaro, his Sam Harris crtique which is a masterpiece, animal rights, his scathing attacks on the US war machine. It would be pretty weird if he didn’t get it wrong on something. It seems to me that progressives should acknowledge the enormous good he has done, while at the same time criticizing him for his excesses.

  30. doubtthat says

    @clevehicks

    Did you read the linked article? Because Neiwert makes all those same points and, in fact, defended Greenwald for that very reason.
    But…try to explain why Greenwald was still defending Hale after his conviction for being caught on tape plotting the murder of a judge? I am an attorney (no longer practicing) and I strongly agree with the right of everyone to legal counsel. But no one has a right to be defended in the press after being convicted of conspiracy to commit murder.
    Greenwald did do some good. I was a fan, but that does not place him above criticism. All of Neiwart’s criticism and all of the criticism on this thread (as far as I can tell) is aimed at the things we think he’s done wrong or poorly while acknowledging that he did some great stuff.

  31. KG says

    There’s a huge difference between saying that someone should be free to advocate for bad things, versus saying people should be free to actually do bad things. – thirdmill301@4

    No, there is not. Speech is an action. This is so obvious, the failure of many to see it is just gobsmacking – I can only put it down to a lifetime of indoctrination. Speech (in which obviously I include writing, and online as well as offline) can be and routinely is used to intimidate, harrass, silence, and cause injury – psychological injury is just as real as physical injury. There are numerous testimonies, of women in particular, who have been driven from public life, or persisted in it despite anxiety and depression consequent on verbal harrassment based on their gender and/or other “protected characteristics”. Such harrassment is a hate crime: it is specifically intended to intimidate not only its immediate target, but all members of such a class or classes.

  32. clevehicks says

    @doubtthat I did read it. I would not defend Greenwald’s actions if he was aiding and abetting someone plotting murder. it doesn’t sound like his normal behavior, and I should like to hear his side of that. Of course Greenwald is not above criticism and in fact I think it is healthy to do so. It just reads to me like PZ is totally dismissing him as a journalist and as a decent human being for a mistake he may have made. The same kind of thing has happened to Julian Assange. In fact, I think we owe a debt to both men, even if we don’t like certain things they have done.

  33. clevehicks says

    But obviously if someone wants to write either of them off that is their choice .. It has been a nice discussion, I appreciate people hearing me out without rancor. With that, it is time for bed.

  34. says

    @clevehicks:

    I don’t like Greenwald’s use of ‘odious and repugnant’ in that case…he overdoes his rhetoric at times.

    Fortunately there has never been a moment in history where I have overdone my rhetoric.

    Seriously, if all Greenwald ever did was “overdo rhetoric” there would be no problem with Greenwald. This is a straw man. I understand how you might have gotten there since the Orcinus piece uses the phrase at least twice, but this isn’t about overdoing rhetoric. (I actually have several quibbles with the language used in the Orcinus piece.) After his onetime client Matthew Hale was duly convicted on video and audio evidence of conspiring to kill a federal judge, Greenwald asserted that Hale was “wrongly imprisoned”.

    Greenwald is, in short, off his rocker.

    Yet I admire him for mounting a vigorous defence that even Nazis and KKK have a right to free speech.

    I don’t admire him for that, but I do appreciate it. I might be willing to “admire” him for that if similar defenses hadn’t been mounted for decades before he was born. It’s not like he brought a whole new perspective to 1stA analysis or anything.

    he may legitimately think that those who would not grant those groups free speech are odious and repugnant

    The thing is that he tars private citizens who call for firing Fox News hosts with the same brush he uses for government actors who would actually deny rights guaranteed by the 1stA. He doesn’t vigorously defend the free speech rights of those who call for firings or boycotts. He calls them dangerous.

    This creates a conundrum. If he’s making a clear distinction between “free speech” as a philosophical concept and “free speech” as a right guaranteed in the US constitution, the UN ICCPR and other documents, and is concerned only with legal rights, then he shouldn’t disparage the actions of private citizens who call for firings or boycotts. If he’s drawing a hard line on “philosophical” free speech and is opposed to any threat to same, then not only should he be taking a hard line on Trump’s rhetoric as a threat to free speech (on which issue he’s been lukewarm) but he should be harder on Fox News than he is on random private citizens who object to Fox News as Fox’s coverage disparages persons for freely speaking unpopular (to Fox) opinions.

    In the US context at least, Greenwald only forcefully advocates concern with a slippery slope to violation of rights of free expression when the rhetoric comes from the left. When the right’s rhetoric threatens a slippery slope he manages rare, half-hearted condemnations at best.

    Has Greenwald ever condemned, say, the list of Anti-American Professors? Because this shit has been going on for a long, long time as a consistent and persistent effort by the right wing to shut down the expression of their opponents. Why does his rhetoric match the right-wing propaganda that threats to free expression come from the Left instead of challenging it? Every time he goes on Fox to defend them from the free expression of private citizens so that they can go about their corporate work disparaging the free expression of private citizens you have to wonder: is Greenwald deluded? Or is he consciously joining an effort to curtail free expression on the Left? There isn’t much room for other options at this point.

    It seems to me that progressives should acknowledge the enormous good he has done, while at the same time criticizing him for his excesses.

    I think that’s exactly what progressives have done, including (not incidentally), me @#29. Acknowledging he’s done good is not the same as believing that his current behavior does more good than harm. He now does more good than harm, IMO. That doesn’t in any way somehow magically erase my statement in that same comment that

    I like that he takes as hard a line on government censorship as he does

    or any of the other statements I’ve made in other threads/contexts about Greenwald’s positive contributions. How can you read this thread and think there is no acknowledgement of any good Greenwald has done?

  35. clevehicks says

    I said PZ appeared to be doing that (i.e. dismissing all his good deeds), not you. You clearly have acknowledged the good he has done. Thanks for the chat, and good night.

  36. consciousness razor says

    CD:

    it’s worth noting that the Dems ran no candidates in their own primaries for Senate in Vermont during at least one (I think it was 2) election cycle where Sanders was standing for re-election.

    Let’s do some facts. This wiki page shows all of his elections:
    — Sanders was a third party candidate for US Senate in 1972 (special election) and 1974. He also ran for governor in 1972, 1976 and 1986. He lost all of these.
    — 1981: he won the mayoral election in Burlington as an independent, against a Democrat and two other independents. In 1983, 1985, 1987, he was elected again, all three against one or more opponents, always including a Democratic candidate.
    — 1988: Sanders lost the race for US Representative (at-large district) against a diverse field.
    — 1990, US Rep.: he lost the Democratic primary to Dolores Sandoval, but ran as an independent in the general election and won (56% for Sanders, 3% for Sandoval and 39.5% for the Republican). In 1992, he won it again as an independent – no other info about primaries, but the Democrats did nominate someone who lost with 7.9% against his 57.8%.
    — 1994, US Rep.: he won the Democratic primary, then ran and won as an independent in the general election, against no Democratic opponents but people in several other parties.
    — 1996, US Rep.: he lost the Democratic primary, but again won the general election as an independent (55.% for Sanders, 9.3% for the Dem, 32.5% for the Republican).
    — 1998, US Rep.: he won the Democratic primary, then won the general election as an independent, with no Democratic candidate in the general election.
    — 2000, US Rep.: he lost the Democratic primary, but again won the general election as an independent (69.2% for Sanders, 5.2% for the Dem, 18.3% for the Republican).
    — 2002, US Rep.: he won the Democratic primary and the general election, again with no Democratic candidate in the general election.
    — 2004, US Rep.: he lost the Democratic primary and won the Progressive primary, then won the general election, against Republican, Democrat and Liberty Union opponents.
    — 2006, US Senate: he won the Democratic primary, against four others, plus write-ins. For the general election, he ran as an independent and won. The Dems didn’t run anyone else against him in the general election, because he got 94.2% of their votes in the primary.
    — 2012, US Senate: he ran in the primaries against no other formal candidates (plus write-ins) and got 98.7% of the primary votes, then once again won as an independent in the general election.
    — 2016, POTUS: he lost the Democratic primary against Clinton and she lost in the general election to Trump.
    — 2018, US Senate: he ran in the Democratic primary and got 94% of the primary vote. He once again won the general election as an independent.

    It is, therefore, odd that Sanders would have outrage that the Democratic primaries are functioning in exactly the way that they were functioning in Vermont all those years when he didn’t seem to fin anything wrong with it.

    What’s odd is the way you described that entire history I just outlined, because I can barely understand what you’re trying to say. Not one of them resembles the system that’s used in the presidential primary (except of course the 2016 primary itself), with its superdelegates and all that jazz.
    Also, are you saying that Sanders himself was making a huge stink about a “rigged” primary, or are you saying that some of his supporters were doing that? Sanders endorsed Clinton when the primaries were over, and he was there to support her at the convention.

  37. petesh says

    CR @38: A LOT of Sanders supporters were noisily making claims about rigging, including at the convention itself. Some of them even booed Sanders at the convention when he endorsed Clinton — and, in my hearing, later boasted about this. As for Bernie, who proceeded to run for re-election as an Independent in between his campaigns for the Democratic nomination, the Clinton campaign was not impressed with his efforts, or his demands for private jets, and somehow he managed to publish his own book one week after the election. Multi-tasking, I guess. Yeah, that’s cynical; I think he’s earned cynicism.

  38. consciousness razor says

    petesh:

    A LOT of Sanders supporters were noisily making claims about rigging, including at the convention itself. Some of them even booed Sanders at the convention when he endorsed Clinton — and, in my hearing, later boasted about this.

    I don’t understand what you’re driving at here. People are free to make noise. This is from whywhywhy in #24:

    in comparing 2008 to 2016, Sander’s supporters voted for Clinton in 2016 at higher rates than Clinton supporters voted for Obama in 2008.

    And you could say the same about many other pair-ups. After a lot of noise, this is from an NPR article about 10% of Sanders supporters voting for Trump (my emphasis):

    A more important caveat, perhaps, is that other statistics suggest that this level of “defection” isn’t all that out of the ordinary. Believing that all those Sanders voters somehow should have been expected to not vote for Trump may be to misunderstand how primary voters behave.
    For example, Schaffner tells NPR that around 12 percent of Republican primary voters (including 34 percent of Ohio Gov. John Kasich voters and 11 percent of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio voters) ended up voting for Clinton. And according to one 2008 study, around 25 percent of Clinton primary voters in that election ended up voting for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the general. (In addition, the data showed 13 percent of McCain primary voters ended up voting for Obama, and 9 percent of Obama voters ended up voting for McCain — perhaps signaling something that swayed voters between primaries and the general election, or some amount of error in the data, or both.)

    I don’t know how we should interpret 2016. But I think it is ignorant, confused or dishonest to make no attempt at a meaningful comparison.

    As for Bernie, who proceeded to run for re-election as an Independent in between his campaigns for the Democratic nomination, the Clinton campaign was not impressed with his efforts, or his demands for private jets, and somehow he managed to publish his own book one week after the election. Multi-tasking, I guess. Yeah, that’s cynical; I think he’s earned cynicism.

    Why should we care whether the Clinton campaign was impressed? Could he have impressed them (if we should care about that) with a slower method of transportation? And wouldn’t it have been worse (not better) for the book to be published prior to the election, since there is no reason to be concerned about time-travel or backward causation?
    The logic here is all kinds of messed up. I don’t get it.

  39. raven says

    There’s a huge difference between saying that someone should be free to advocate for bad things, versus saying people should be free to actually do bad things. – thirdmill301@4

    Oh really???

    Charles Manson never actually killed anyone.
    And yet he died in prison and no one was too upset about that.

    For that matter Hitler never personally killed anyone either.
    And yet he died at the end of WWII and few missed him.
    (Unfortunately a few do in fact miss him and they are…fans of Glenn Greenwald.)

  40. petesh says

    @40: OK, para by para: 1. You asked about talk of a “rigged” primary; I simply responded to that.
    2 & 3: Not responding to me, so I won’t respond to them.
    4: The view of the Clinton campaign about Sanders seems entirely relevant to his good faith and commitment to the party. No, of course I am not saying he should have gone slower — he should have spent less by flying commercial. They asked him to; he refused. And my point about the book was that he was writing it during the general election campaign when he could have been, well, campaigning. Time travel is your fantasy, not mine.

  41. consciousness razor says

    petesh:

    You asked about talk of a “rigged” primary; I simply responded to that.

    Is your response that I was right, because it wasn’t Sanders but his supporters engaging in such talk? Or is your response that I was wrong? That’s what I asked about. Even with the talk, most still supported Clinton. So what is the issue for you supposed to be?

    2 & 3: Not responding to me, so I won’t respond to them.

    It doesn’t need to be “responding” to you. I’m responding to you, and I mentioned it because I thought it was relevant to what you were saying. It’s not clear why it wouldn’t be.

    The view of the Clinton campaign about Sanders seems entirely relevant to his good faith and commitment to the party.

    If you say so … I don’t know clear how much good faith and commitment there was from the Clinton campaign, which you conflate with the Democratic party itself.
    It’s not hard to imagine him thinking that writing the book (Our Revolution) would be a better way to use his time supporting the party and/or his progressive agenda, which is not the same as the party. I don’t know how much was written at which times, for this 464 page book I haven’t read. For all I know, it could be a compilation of things he’s written over the last several decades, or some sort of adaptation of them into book form. I would not be at all surprised if much of it was written long before the last few months of the 2016 election, the time period when you complain about him not putting enough effort into campaigning on behalf of Clinton. Do you know how long it takes for books to be written, edited, and finally published? Usually it’s much longer than that.
    Maybe he hoped to publish it earlier – I simply don’t know or care. But it had no direct influence on voters, since it was published after the election. And whatever may be the case, he did also support Clinton during this time. I bet that support did directly and positively influence some voters who looked to him for guidance. (I know it would not have changed my mind, no matter what he had done, because nothing would’ve caused me to vote for Trump. But somebody could conceivably change their mind precisely for the reason that Sanders was out there waving the Clinton flag at some rally.)
    If you want to blame the outcome on Sanders not being as hyper-vigilant about campaigning for Clinton as he could’ve been, for a few months after the primaries and before November, I don’t think you have a compelling case to make.
    Anyway, all the things you mention have nothing to do with the stuff about a “rigged” primary. I was addressing CD’s claims about that and showing what his other primaries/elections were actually like: not at all like 2016.

  42. teejay says

    “I just believe his sort of principled rigidity on free-speech issues blinds him to the real-world effects of fascism—particularly how it manipulates free-speech principles in order to destroy them.”

    It’s amazing how incoherent this argument is. At least Marcuse, in making the original tolerant intolerance argument, didn’t try to claim he was in favour of free speech, as I remember.

    So let me get this straight: we must not have free speech (i.e., deny it to white nationalists) in order to have free speech. It’s a circular argument. At least be straightforward with the fact that you don’t want to even entertain the idea of upholding the principles of free speech. You want to limit speech, fill stop. You want to restrict speech you don’t like.

    Which of course leads to the question: what speech should be banned. After white nationalists, the obvious choice is anti-abortionists. Then climate change denialists. Then transphobes and misogynists, perhaps. We can quibble about the order another time. Then I suppose you can’t have the capitalists spouting their mouths off, either. Then the interventionalists, the war mongers, and anyone who has ever served in the military. They might get us into another war. We might as well throw in all Republicans, because who wants to hear them speak. And while we’re at it, we might as well shut up everyone to the right of Liz Warren (or Bernie Sanders, take your pick).

    And the end of all of that tolerant intolerance, we’ll be left with just a handful of folks with the full freedom to speak their minds, but that’s okay because those are the only people we should be listening to, right? I mean, why have a democracy if that’s the case, why not let the people who can speak, speak for everyone because they’ve got all the good ideas anyway. Let them make the laws and run our lives and tell us what to do and say and think.

    That is how we’ll protect ourselves from fascism.

  43. says

    Then there is the simpler explanation that Greenwald, Snowden, and Assange were all a Russian op. Snowden copied tons of classified info but all we saw was the info that embarrassed the US. That distracted everybody and allowed Putin to get frisky.

  44. gnokgnoh says

    @teejay #44. What are you talking about? You created a straw man and then beat it to a pulp. You called the statement you quoted incoherent, then claimed you knew that it meant that we must ban free speech we don’t like. Good grief, read the statement a little more closely next time.

  45. Porivil Sorrens says

    Well, yeah, but they deserve it, so it’s fine. TERFs get stitches.

  46. says

    @CR:

    So, yeah. When I said “at least one (I think it was two)” then I was obviously correct. In one case there were no democratic candidates on the democratic primary ballot. I was also correct in asserting that I subjectively thought it was two, but the underlying facts you present make it clear that it was in fact, only one. To me this makes Sanders a flawed messenger, but I nonetheless support his message – exactly as I said in my original comment.

    As for whether it was Bernie supporters or Bernie that did more complaining, I’m certain it was supporters simply because there are more of them and only one Bernie. As for whether Bernie did significant complaining about it, I had thought that he did, but if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Perhaps from my distance I simply misinterpreted the picture of what was going on.

    @Petesh:

    Yeah, that’s cynical; I think [Sanders has] earned cynicism.

    I’m not cynical on Sanders, and to my knowledge he hasn’t earned cynicism. I’m cautious about him as I would be – and am – about any major party candidate. Bernie simply has a different political history and therefore I’m cautious about him for different reasons than I’m cautious about others in the race. Every time I’m complaining about the Democratic party I’m implicitly criticizing all those who have made the Democratic establishment both their home and their power base. This makes it seem like Sanders is being singled out for extra criticism, but the thing is that since he’s not a Democrat he doesn’t get ANY of the criticism that I’ve thrown at the Democrats for literally decades now. If I didn’t single him out, then he wouldn’t get criticism at all, and that’s certainly not fair.

    But cynicism? Fuck no. Or if so, Sanders certainly doesn’t deserve even as much cynicism as someone like Joe Freuding Biden and no more than someone like Warren.

    Of course, my no-cynicism-but-deserving-criticism stance seems to put a target on my comments for people like CR who seem to think that every criticism of Sanders is somehow disproportionate and undeserved. I actually appreciate CR’s data – I had no idea that Sanders had stood for federal office as early as 1972 – but it seems weird that CR doesn’t simply acknowledge that the underlying statement to which CR was replying is, in fact, upheld as true by CR’s own reporting.

    The democratic party is crap and has been for decades. I’m not old enough to make an educated judgement on Carter’s administration, but the Democrats of the 90s, 2000s, and 2010s (my voting career) have been a terrible national party that have discouraged leadership and abetted the rightward shift of political discussion and debate. Even those democrats whom I support (like Blumenauer, an Oregon congressman who represents the district in which I’m absentee registered as a US “overseas voter”) aren’t ever leading the party, and people like Les Aucoin for whom I voted, despite not supporting his candidacy were actually part of the problem. (His friendship with Gordon Smith led the pair to be described as models of bipartisanship. :barf:) For this reason, I can easily see someone thinking that they should be cynical about any Democrat until given a reason to view the candidate otherwise.

    Has Sanders been crap for decades? Certainly not that I can tell. Why then should our starting position on Sanders be cynicism? Why can’t we simply critique him for what he doesn’t do well and criticize him for when we think he goes wrong. Sure it’s a little more work to have to do this individually since we can’t lump him into the generic anti-Democratic Party critique, but is that really too much to expect when we’re picking a president?

  47. consciousness razor says

    CD:

    Of course, my no-cynicism-but-deserving-criticism stance seems to put a target on my comments for people like CR who seem to think that every criticism of Sanders is somehow disproportionate and undeserved. I actually appreciate CR’s data – I had no idea that Sanders had stood for federal office as early as 1972 – but it seems weird that CR doesn’t simply acknowledge that the underlying statement to which CR was replying is, in fact, upheld as true by CR’s own reporting.

    The one factual point you’re talking about, which you made and I supported in #38, is that Sanders didn’t have another challenger in the Democratic primary in 2012. This bears no resemblance whatsoever to the complaints about the 2016 presidential primary being (allegedly) “rigged” by establishment candidates (i.e. ones very much like Clinton and very much unlike Sanders), which turn mainly on the issue of superdelegates.
    In fact there were many candidates in the 2016 presidential primary, not only a single one, as you surely know. So that couldn’t be what Sanders had to complain about. If this 2012 business is supposed to count as evidence of hypocrisy or some such thing, when Sanders (not his supporters) made some criticism of how the 2016 primary was conducted, then it fails as evidence of that thing.
    Besides that, he supported the 2016 nominee. So it’s a total mystery to me why we should think that mere criticism of the process, even though he conceded it and supported Clinton, is in any way a bad “criticism-deserving” thing … to the extent that it did come from Sanders, not his supporters or others.
    It is a fact that nobody else ran against him in the 2012 Senate primary. So what? That is not a fact which is relevant to the claim you were apparently trying to make.
    Let’s look at the bigger picture, which I’ll summarize again. This may help you understand why nobody else ran against him in the 2012 primary, if you find that fact about that primary suspicious or deserving of some kind of criticism. The focus here is criticism you think you should direct at Sanders because of his actions, not directed at another person or another entity like the Democratic party as a whole, voters, etc. I want to know what you think he did wrong in that instance, or why you think there is any reason to believe he may have done something worth criticizing, which makes you critical or nervous or suspicious or whatever the hell it may be.
    The bigger picture: from 1988-2018, Sanders first lost once as an independent in the general election for US Representative (at-large district), then won eight times in a row. Then, he won the US Senate seat three times in a row. When he lost the Democratic primaries for these, he didn’t end his campaign. Except for the first one in 1988, he consistently won the general election anyway, as an independent who was much more progressive than the Democratic party. As we discussed in the earlier threads, this caused you great consternation or concern or I don’t know what, for some reason I still can’t fathom. Possibly it’s just listening to too many people from the Clinton camp tell you their weird version of events that they cooked up in their own heads with few if any actual facts, but this is only speculation. Or you could not like it if you simply don’t want Sanders to win anything, but that would make no sense coming from you.
    You might say the “best” result for a Dem was the first one in 1988, in which Sanders got 37.5%, the Dem got 18.9%, and the Republican won with 41.2%. But you could say that in a more important sense, this is their “worst” result, because the Republican won and the Dems spoiled that election for the more liberal/progressive candidate he could’ve easily won it.
    In later elections, the five where Sanders lost the Democratic primary and thus had a Democratic opponent in the general election (1990, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004), the Dem candidates were at best irrelevant. Sanders was in the 55-69% range, while the Dems were in the 3-10% range. You might think that they didn’t learn from 1988 about election-spoiling; but he had a solid lead and the Dem candidates were far behind, so fortunately it didn’t really matter what the VT Democratic party did (except in 1988 when the Republican got it).
    In the other three elections for the US House (1994, 1998, 2002) and three for the US Senate (2006, 2012, 2018), the party decided not to run another candidate against him, after he had won the primary and ran as an independent in the general election. Not only in 2012 but in all three Senate primaries, even when there were many other candidates running, he got over 94% over the primary vote.
    He just plain won a lot, no matter what the Democratic primaries were like. He’s very popular, apparently. Enough said. But out of all this, all of these statewide elections for a US congressional seat — Senator and Representative at-large, never mind the others — you picked out one particular election, in 2012, when it happens to be true that nobody ran against him in the Democratic primary (except write-ins of course). The Democrats were doing poorly against him in 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. Is it supposed to be surprising that he was unopposed in 2012? Because you were not paying any attention at all, if you didn’t see that pattern. And then they did have someone against him in 2018, who also lost.
    Anyway, it’s not like this is about a choice Sanders made…. Other people decide if they want to run against him, not Sanders: whether or not it’s a bad idea, it would be theirs and not his. So how does one get a criticism of Sanders out of that? Is he to be faulted for being a candidate that many people happen to like more than those offered by the Democratic establishment?
    More importantly, how do you think this has anything to do with superdelegates and such in the 2016 primaries? No way to tell how or why you connected those dots.
    I don’t think “every criticism of Sanders is somehow disproportionate and undeserved,” and you know that since you trotted this out before. The first hurdle to get over is making any sense whatsoever, and unfortunately many do not get that far. But if it is deserved, then I’m definitely willing to listen to it.

  48. mcfrank0 says

    As usual David Neiwert does an amazing job of thoroughly documenting the various threads of his story.

    Even more amazing, I was not aware of how closely several of those threads impacted my own life — I was living in Chicago at the time of the various killings. Judge Lefkow literally lived two blocks away from my home — I walked past her house each day on my way to work.

  49. KG says

    Like all the women driven from public life, harassed, fired, threatened with assault and murder for simply expressing that there is a biological basis to being a woman and that women need and deserve spaces free from males. – triagian@47

    Looks for anything that suggests or implies in any way that I approve of such harrassment and threats.
    Fails to find anything, and for the record, I condemn them unreservedly (including Porivil Sorrens’ #48), even though I loathe transphobes.
    Notes that trans people are remarkably prominent among victims of both hate speech and hate crimes.*
    Concludes that triagian is simply a transphobe expressing their transphobia.

  50. says

    @CR:
    Here’s the post that convinced me that he’s an imperfect messenger for more democratic primaries.

    Is there anything factually wrong with that post?

    It is a fact that nobody else ran against him in the 2012 Senate primary. So what? That is not a fact which is relevant to the claim you were apparently trying to make.

    It is if it’s evidence that the Democratic party discouraged Democratic candidates from running against an other-party incumbent. Which appears to be the case. It is not proof on its own of that. But it’s sure as fuck relevant, because it’s part of the overall case. If the Dem establishment had tried to prevent Democrats from running but failed, it would be attempted rigging, but not successful rigging. If no one ran but it was entirely accidental or it was despite active efforts from the Dem establishment to recruit challenges to Sanders, then Sanders would have had an automatic win, but not a rigged one.

    You say it’s not at all relevant, but the quite obvious conclusion is that it is relevant, though it is not on its own sufficient to prove the case.

    I still think you overreact. I’m making a modest claim: Sanders is an imperfect messenger for a good message, the claim that primaries should be more democratic. Am I wrong? Or do you think he’s a perfect messenger, because that is the only way I could be wrong.

    So I don’t understand the confrontational attitude. You’ve got more information than I do. It’s interesting. Some of it is helpful. But much of it doesn’t address what I’ve said at all. Does his race in 1972 somehow go to proving that Sanders is a perfect messenger for the claim that primaries should be more democratic?

    No?

    Then sure, throw the information up there, it’s interesting at the very least. But why pretend it’s somehow a functional rebuttal to anything I’ve said?

    Seriously, CR, you seem invested in this in a manner I simply don’t understand.

  51. petesh says

    @CR & CD: I don’t have much need to continue, but three quick points:
    1. The Democratic party has been rotten practically forever; I was around in 1968.
    2. I do think it is cynical to adopt the mantle of Democrat when and only when it is in your electoral interest, especially when you then jettison it, and then reclaim it.
    3. They’re still better than the other national alternative. Even if Biden gets the nomination.

  52. says

    @petesh:
    Responding to your 1: I’m not surprised.

    Responding to your 2: I’ve actually made a nearly-identical point in other threads, though I don’t think that Sanders’ being cynical is the same as Sanders earning others’ cynicism. It’s a reason to look at him critically, but (for me at least) not a reason to look at him cynically.

    Responding to your 3: Yes, Dems are definitely better than Republicans, though I’m not satisfied with that (and I doubt you are either).

  53. clevehicks says

    Here is an interview with Greenwald where he discusses the Hale case. Definitely worth a read following this disucssion. While I think perhaps Neiwert has a point that Greenwald may be underestimating the threat of the right in the US, and Greenwald’s rhetoric on this issue can be a bit over-the-top, I also think it is unfare to claim he has betrayed journalism. On free speech iisues, he has consistently and courageously defended his principles, at least, which is a lot more than can be said for most mainstream journalists: https://www.thefire.org/so-to-speak-transcript-glenn-greenwald/

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