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The Passion of the Liberals


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#1 Hereno

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 08:06 PM

I've come across a magnificent article that I think our "moderates", "liberals", and "conservatives" ought to read. I'm going to do my highlights in bold as usual, but the entire thing is definitely worth reading (I wouldn't post it if it weren't).

http://www.salon.com...ngleton/?miaou3

More than three years into the presidency of Barack Obama, it’s almost a cliché now to ask: What if George W. Bush did it? From dramatically escalating the war in Afghanistan to institutionalizing the practice of indefinite imprisonment, Obama has dashed hopes he would offer a change from the Bush’s national security policies – but he hasn’t faced a whole lot of resistance from liberals who once decried those policies as an affront to American values.

Like those on the right who now crow about fascism but spent the Bush years gleefully declaring left-wing celebrities “enemies of the state,” many of those on the liberal-left treat issues of war and civil liberties as useful merely for partisan purposes. When a Democrat’s in power those issues become inconvenient. And usually ignored.

Former dean of the Yale Law School Harold Koh, for instance, used to rail against the imperial presidency, speaking of the horror of torture and “indefinite detention without trial.” Now a legal adviser for the Obama State Department, he recently declared that “justice” can be delivered with or with out a trial. Indeed, “Drones also deliver.” Don’t expect much more than a yawn from Democratic pundits, though, much less any calls for impeachment. It’s an election year, after all. And what, would you rather Mitt Romney be the guy drone-striking Pakistani tribesmen?

“Obama and the Democrats being in power in Washington defangs a lot of liberal criticism,” Chase Madar, a civil rights attorney in New York, told me in an interview. Indeed, but with a few exceptions – Michael Moore, Dennis Kucinich, The Nation – those who would be inclined to defend Manning were Bush still in office are the ones either condemning him or condoning his treatment, which has included spending the better part of a year in torturous solitary confinement, an all too common feature of American prisons. Even his progressive defenders, remaining loyal to the Democratic Party, tend to downplay Obama’s role in the Bradley Manning affair; his authorizing the abuse of an American hero is certainly no means not to vote for him again.

“The whole civil libertarian message only really seems to catch fire among liberals when there’s a Republican in the White House,” says Madar. When there’s not a bumbling Texan to inveigh against, all the sudden issues that were morally black and white become complex, and liberal media starts finding nuance where there wasn’t any before.

That much is clear in the case of Manning, the young soldier accused of leaking State Department cables and evidence of war atrocities to WikiLeaks. Under different conditions, he might be a liberal hero. After all, much – though certainly not all – of what he exposed, from the killing of Iraqi civilians to US complicity in torture by the Iraqi government, happened during the Bush years. But it is the Obama administration that is imprisoning him. It is Barack Obama who pronounced him guilty before he so much as had a trial (which he’s still waiting for after almost two years in captivity). And so justifications must be made.

One popular way is by attacking Manning’s character, by arguing that unlike Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked top secret Pentagon documents detailing U.S. failures in Vietnam, Manning – who, if the charges against him are true, didn’t leak a single piece of top secret information – was simply a troubled young man. The New York Times, for instance, published a piece that spent several thousand words to essentially say he did it because he had “delusions of grandeur.” And because he was gay, probably.

Alyssa Rosenberg, a blogger for the Center for American Progress, declared her “main opinion of Bradley Manning” to be that “it sounds like he has pretty serious emotional problems and turned out not to be a particularly effective whistleblower.” Conveniently, Manning is to blame for the fact the WikiLeaks revelations did not alter the behavior of the American empire, not the institutions of state power so often fawned over by Rosenberg and her colleagues as fundamentally good and just.

Joy Reid, a Democratic pundit who often appears on MSNBC, likewise dwells on Manning’s alleged emotional problems and gayness. Because he allegedly divulged to a hacker-turned-informant that he was struggling with his gender identity, Reid – ignoring all the inconvenient comments about being outraged by torture and civilian deaths – argued that Manning was no hero at all, but rather “a guy seeking anarchy as a salve for his own personal, psychological torment” caused by his sexuality. In this case one might well ask: What if Rick Santorum said it?

When the Nixon administration sought to discredit Ellsberg back in 1971, it played by the same book as Reid and other Obama loyalists unwilling to believe their president is persecuting a hero, breaking into his psychiatrist’s office in a vain attempt to uncover evidence of mental illness. Today, the liberal media does the government’s work for it.

A lot of that, obviously, has to do with partisanship. Though Ellsberg’s leaks primarily exposed the lies of Nixon’s Democratic predecessor’s, he was the target of a loathed Republican administration, so liberals rallied to his defense; there was a president to take down, after all. By contrast, the treatment of Manning – labeled “appropriate” by Obama; as “cruel” and “inhuman” by the UN special rapporteur on torture – threatens the mainstream liberal narrative about the American state. If a Democratic president is torturing a whistle-blower who primarily exposed atrocities authorized by his Republican predecessor, it’s almost as if . . . well, best not to think about that.

But it’s just brand loyalty that explains the liberal condemnations of Manning – or the even more common silence. As Madar, who just wrote a book on the alleged WikiLeaks source, “The Passion of Bradley Manning,” notes, when it comes to Manning and the broader issue of Obama’s continuation of Bush’s war on terror, it’s about more than simple party politics.

“There’s a long tradition of liberals, especially in the first few decades after the Cold War, of being opposed to, say, the vulgar witch-hunting, hysterical anti-communism of Joseph McCarthy,” says Madar, “but being supportive of the much more professional anti-communism of, say, Harvard University.” You can see the same dynamic at play now. Bush’s imperialism was crude and unilateral, so it was condemned; Obama’s is more sophisticated and multilateral, so it’s condoned – or cheered.

Similarly, those on the right who condemn Manning do so in a manner repellent to the more refined liberal palette. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, for instance – in the midst of selling his children’s book, Can’t Wait Till Christmas! – declared that for Manning, “anything less than execution is too kind a penalty.”

How uncouth. How vulgar. On the center-left, the position is much more sensible: don’t outright murder the guy, at least not without a show trial, but don’t you dare let him see the light of day again. As Obama himself pronounced, “He broke the law,” which is something that must be obeyed by everyone but bankers and torturers and presidents. We can’t just expose the state-sanctioned torture and murder of innocents willy-nilly. We can’t just listen to our own consciences when confronted with institutional evil. That’d be anarchy. Which is bad.

To be fair, liberals can’t really be blamed for their reaction to Manning. What he did was fundamentally radical, not reformist. He didn’t settle for working within a system explicitly designed to thwart the exposure of wrongdoing, through a chain of command that callously ignores concern for non-American life. Having access to evidence of grotesque crimes no one around him seemed to care about, he engaged in direct action, exposing them for the benefit of the world and those paying for them, the U.S. taxpayer.

“[I]f you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time,” Manning reportedly wrote to the man who ultimately turned him in, “and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do? ” We know what his answer was. And we know what the guardians of establishment liberalism would have had him do: Nothing.

Judge for yourself which is more defensible.


I know I'm supposed to be adding in my own commentary, but this dude really hit the nail on the head and in better words than I can. All I'd really be doing without thread responses is repeating what he just said, so have at it.

Edited by Hereno, 11 April 2012 - 08:10 PM.


#2 Sniper Joe

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 08:16 PM

Have people not realized that politics is a complete farce yet?

#3 Merrie Melodies

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 08:56 PM

Stopped taking this seriously when Manning was refered to as an American Hero.

#4 Mongol Federation

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 09:32 PM

Stopped taking this seriously when Manning was refered to as an American Hero.


Same here.

#5 The Disco Commandant

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 10:32 PM

Same here.


Tripled. Article almost had me until that bit

#6 Mongol Federation

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 10:51 PM

Tripled. Article almost had me until that bit


I'm not going to lie, I kept reading because the article had been making valid points. Alas, the "Manning is a hero!" bit wasn't a 1 off but a lead in to a bunch of pro-WikiLeaks propaganda. Posted Image

#7 commander thrawn

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:47 AM

I stopped reading when it was from Salon... lol

#8 Icewolf

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 01:50 AM

Manning's leaks went to far. When they were of abuses by US soldiers, then that could be considered heroism as the army of a democratic nation should be held to account. If it is not investigating and reigning in soldiers, then there is a problem, and if the media hasn't found it, then sometimes a whistleblower is necessary.

By leaking the diplomatic cables however, he did a vast amount of damage. Diplomats need to be able to talk freely and frankly, rather than to the press. No one can govern if the only way to talk to someone else in the government is to publish a message in the New York times.

as for General Liberty, Obama seems slightly stuck. The Republicans still deride him for any attempt to move in favor of civil rights, and they carry a middle ground support with them when they do so. Being soft on security does not seem to be an option for a US president. Looking from the outside, it is quite scary to see candidates to be president of the most powerful country on earth advocating waterboarding, or to put it another way, water torture.

#9 Hereno

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 09:51 AM

Stopped taking this seriously when Manning was refered to as an American Hero.


Translation: I cannot address any of the real points made in the article.

Manning's leaks went to far. When they were of abuses by US soldiers, then that could be considered heroism as the army of a democratic nation should be held to account. If it is not investigating and reigning in soldiers, then there is a problem, and if the media hasn't found it, then sometimes a whistleblower is necessary.

By leaking the diplomatic cables however, he did a vast amount of damage. Diplomats need to be able to talk freely and frankly, rather than to the press. No one can govern if the only way to talk to someone else in the government is to publish a message in the New York times.

as for General Liberty, Obama seems slightly stuck. The Republicans still deride him for any attempt to move in favor of civil rights, and they carry a middle ground support with them when they do so. Being soft on security does not seem to be an option for a US president. Looking from the outside, it is quite scary to see candidates to be president of the most powerful country on earth advocating waterboarding, or to put it another way, water torture.


"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." - Patrick Henry

A government of the people, by the people, and for the people should not have to hide things from the people. It really is that simple. How are we supposed to make informed electoral decisions when we don't even know what is going on?

#10 Mongol Federation

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:08 AM

A government of the people, by the people, and for the people should not have to hide things from the people. It really is that simple. How are we supposed to make informed electoral decisions when we don't even know what is going on?


Democracy is a horribly inefficient and ultimately futile form of gov't. Keeping no secrets and letting every fool have a say is why no democracy or democratic republic has lasted more then 3 centuries. EVER.

#11 Golan 1st

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:43 AM

Translation: I cannot address any of the real points made in the article.

The core of the article is criticism of the so called liberals who turn their back to Manning.

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." - Patrick Henry

A government of the people, by the people, and for the people should not have to hide things from the people. It really is that simple. How are we supposed to make informed electoral decisions when we don't even know what is going on?

Are you seriously saying that the state should not have ANY secrets at all?


Manning is, for me (as a non American), a suspect of a serious crime who should be treated as such. I don't know what he is going to be formally charged with, but IMO, he is a traitor and have spend many years in jail.

To the more general points of the article, the difference between what people when they are in the opposition and while "their man" is in office, we may like it or not, but this is part of the democratic game, it's done by everybody and not unique to the USA. Unlike the government, which has an actual country to run, the opposition isn't bound by pragmatic considerations and can make pretty much every argument, knowing that the ultimate responsibility is not on them. I am not saying that this is a good thing. It's not. We can and should demand our politicians to be responsible and honest and settle accounts with them on elections day if they are not. But our nature is such that we are ready to forgive the leaders from "our side" while being very harsh with those of the other side. We justify this forgiving attitude by saying that the others would be much worse.

Edited by Golan 1st, 12 April 2012 - 10:44 AM.


#12 Dennis Von Bremen

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 11:07 AM

Yes, how dare Manning tell us what drains our tax dollars are being flushed down in! That traitor! :rolleyes:

#13 commander thrawn

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 11:17 AM

Well, this isn't a democracy, its a republic. Our elected officials get to know what's going on so they can represent our interests. Saying that we should endanger our troops and cause diplomatic issues all for the sake of open information is naive, and quite honestly some of the most dangerous policies of the left/libertarian side of things.

#14 SpacingOutMan

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 11:21 AM

I enjoyed the article overall and came up with some pretty interesting points. I generally tried to read past the obvious WikiLeaks bias and while it was difficult, I got the underlying premise. It's pretty absurd to say that all liberals have "betrayed" Manning though, especially given that Michael Moore sits on the Support for Bradley Manning advisory council; what he did was, legally, treasonous. This sort of 'treason' isn't anything new: Samuel L. Morison was tried (and convicted) under the Espionage Act of 1917 (later pardoned by Pres. Clinton) and Daniel Elsberg was tried (which was dismissed) under the same act. In both cases, it was deemed that neither 'leak' presented any credible threat to national security. The former was, in fact, just a set of pictures of Soviet ships while the latter was, to say the least, a revelation of a fairly major governmental scandal. And there are countless other examples of leaks that resulted in no convictions (VENOVA, Theodore Hall, etc. etc.) (I do believe Morison is the only individual to be convicted under the Espionage Act of 1917 for a leak). Yet even the US military admitted that the leaks resulted in 'no real damage'. And given the fact that the president himself declared that Manning broke the law; since no trial has occurred, that is a textbook example of an unlawful use of "directed verdict" (the same reason Ellsberg was given mistrial via 'directed verdict' by Pres. Nixon on top of gross constitutional violations). The primary difference between the two instances was that Nixon said Ellsberg was "guilty as all Hell" while Obama said Manning "broke the law", but based on the legal definition of guilt in criminal cases, by breaking the law one is guilty. So based on this precedence alone, along with a report from the UN Rapporteur indicated the US government violated (p. 74) Bradley's fundamental rights and given that no tangible 'damage' resulted from the leak, PFC Manning should be given a dismissal (not sure, in this case, how one would argue a dismissal with prejudice; also could not find off a quick search whether Ellsberg was given a dismissal with or without prejudice).

Comparatively, Ellsberg received staunch support from liberals at, what I'd say, was the height of the anti-war liberalism movement. The main difference? Pres. Nixon was also rallied against by the Left due to a combination of the Watergate Scandal, the Pentagon Papers, and general civil unrest (economic and social undertones). Once Pres. Reagan was elected, it seems as though the political landscape rapidly morphed into something entirely new. Likewise, during the Vietnam War there was the draft; there is no draft now forcing individuals of age to join the military, which is (perhaps) why more people don't care as much. But to say that liberals have completely turned their backs to him must be a blow to the gut to many liberal organizations, the overall liberal advisory board of the Bradley Manning Support Network, lead campaign staff for the network, and other liberal groups. Also something to note: two days ago the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (United States V. David Nossal) that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is limited to violations of restrictions on access to information, not its dissemination and/or use. Presuming this ruling is upheld (it will, more likely than not, go to the Supreme Court since the ruling contradicts rulings on the Act), it'll provide another wrench in the government's prosecution.

Do I agree with the leaks? Not really, to be fair. While I do believe transparency is very important (especially with the government as of late), I also believe it needs to be tempered with a degree of balance and discretion. For the same reason why you do not scream "bomb!" when a school is being evacuated, releasing possibly alarming information could be potentially dangerous and there will be (without a doubt) many possible unintended consequences regarding leaked information. I do believe that Manning probably broke some law, but it is near impossible (at this point) for him to ever receive a fair trial via the violations committed by the government alone.

EDIT

Dismissal with/without prejudice =/= mistrial

Edited by SpacingOutMan, 12 April 2012 - 11:24 AM.


#15 Kenadian

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 11:27 AM

Well, this isn't a democracy, its a republic. Our elected officials get to know what's going on so they can represent our interests. Saying that we should endanger our troops and cause diplomatic issues all for the sake of open information is naive, and quite honestly some of the most dangerous policies of the left/libertarian side of things.


I'm tempted to go down this "America is not a democracy" tangent, but I shall resist. As tempting as it is, I must let this slide. MUST. RESIST.

#16 Jace Couture

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 11:57 AM

Have people not realized that politics is a complete farce yet?


You're an idiot for believing that. Politics at its simplest is the interaction of two people coming to a solution for a problem they have. You engage in some form of political activity everyday.

Translation: I cannot address any of the real points made in the article."The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." - Patrick Henry

A government of the people, by the people, and for the people should not have to hide things from the people. It really is that simple. How are we supposed to make informed electoral decisions when we don't even know what is going on?


A government has to have some secrets to deal with foreign nations, and prevent panic from its people if the information they had would not provide a constructive solution. Making informed decisions requires information, yes, but you do not need to know everything the government is doing to protect its citizens. There are limits on what is needed to be known.

Yes, how dare Manning tell us what drains our tax dollars are being flushed down in! That traitor! :rolleyes:


How dare Manning share secret documents with a foreign organization that detailed how we dealt with foreign nations, and our opinions of them which we don't want them to know. He's not a traitor, but he is an idiot for thinking he could do this without consequences for himself, especially when serving in the Armed forces, and the nation's standing in the world.

Frankly, the piece turned into the typical libertarian !@#$%^&* we see all the time. Whoopedee do.

Also Ken, the American Founders had a dim view of democracy, as expressed by the Athenians, and wanted to form a representative government to tame the democratic impulses of the people. But blah blah blah, its not worth it.

#17 USMC123

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:11 PM

Honestly if you are reading the "Manning was a hero" and stopping, you are completely missing the point of the article. It basically points out the extreme levels of hypocrisy the liberals/left are achieving these days. Now, the conservative/right are just as bad, but this article is pretty clearly going on about how the liberals/left are pretty much okay with everything because the president is a democrat, but if it were a conservative/republican president, they'd be screaming bloody murder.

#18 SpacingOutMan

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:20 PM

How dare Manning share secret documents with a foreign organization that detailed how we dealt with foreign nations, and our opinions of them which we don't want them to know. He's not a traitor, but he is an idiot for thinking he could do this without consequences for himself, especially when serving in the Armed forces, and the nation's standing in the world.


He had absolutely no illusions of invincibility. In Manning's correspondence with Adrian Lamo, he openly stated that he wouldn't mind going to prison for life and/or facing execution; he was aware that there was some consequence to his action(s). I'm torn on his actual mindset (a lot of speculation regarding his mental state at the time, and now in fact, or at least speculation that I simply haven't done any research about) and reasoning for the leaks, but he seemed aware of what was to come.

#19 Icewolf

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:47 PM

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." - Patrick Henry

A government of the people, by the people, and for the people should not have to hide things from the people. It really is that simple. How are we supposed to make informed electoral decisions when we don't even know what is going on?

If you are ambassador to small random country, and the President says "no holds barred, what exactly is it like dealing with the President there, as I want to sign a trade deal," is it then in the public interest to have "he is touchy as hell, go careful" broadcast to the world? Or is it better that the ambassador can be honest without having the world annoyed by that cable landing in the media, and the negotiating team go in prepared?

Or if a rogue ambassador comes to a US ambassador and says "my government is preparing to commit genocide, I can feed you information to help prevent it but you must not reveal me as a source" is it not important that the ambassador can contact home and say "my source is this guy, it is legit" without having the world knowing the source?

#20 Ogaden

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 02:39 PM

Honestly if you are reading the "Manning was a hero" and stopping, you are completely missing the point of the article. It basically points out the extreme levels of hypocrisy the liberals/left are achieving these days. Now, the conservative/right are just as bad, but this article is pretty clearly going on about how the liberals/left are pretty much okay with everything because the president is a democrat, but if it were a conservative/republican president, they'd be screaming bloody murder.


The world is a terrible place, and people in the west don't really understand just how terrible it is because we are insulated away in our liberal democracies with our civil rights.

Most people are arrested and beaten for little or no reason, paid almost nothing if they are lucky enough to have a job at all, and die of a preventable disease at the age of 45. They literally have no say over their government, and consider it an impossible dream to have the level of influence that westerners openly deride.

The west and the USA are not saints by any measure, our governments are flawed and do evil things, but they're the closest thing to a "good guy" on this planet.

Basically we're not in the DC Comics universe, there is no perfectly moral Superman to rescue us. Our "good guys" are at best reluctant anti-heroes, who torture and then murder the "bad guys", but blow away whoever's in the way as well.

Edited by James Dahl, 12 April 2012 - 02:42 PM.





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